put on your yarmulke.

Fresh Scratch, Menorah, HanukkahI didn’t grow up celebrating Hanukkah. It’s one of those things I’ve created space for in my life as an adult. I was drawn to it years ago when I noticed on my family tree that my great-oma’s last name was Morowetz. I pieced together a story somehow, and that story led me to purchase the gorgeous menorah in this picture, hand-forged in Vermont by some blacksmith in his barn. Because – come on! – this is my menorah we are talking about. It simply had to be folksy.

Long, long ago, somewhere up my family tree – maybe past what I can see – these eight nights were a big deal. I don’t want to forget that. I want to remember it and honor it. A lot was lost for these celebrations to continue. It feels more right each year that I should make space for these flames.

It’s funny what we come to know about ourselves. Some of it takes so long to rise up to the surface. When my girls and I light these candles at sundown during this season of hustle and bustle, it’s like my soul sighs a sigh of great relief. Everything goes quiet and still inside of me. It is indeed a holy time for a girl whose idea of “holy” is generally pretty unconventional. It feels right.

These candles and this ritual that we hold for just a hair over a week center me somehow. They pull me into myself. They pull me out of myself. The stillness makes me feel a gratitude that moves me. When the shamash is lit each night, I almost feel a memory that is not mine. It exists further back. I feel tethered to something that’s hard to explain. It’s the weird deja vu feeling I get when I am in eastern Europe; it somehow feels connected to the way I love the grittiness of those cities and towns because the grittiness makes the beauty sparkle all the more. It’s kind of like life, isn’t it?

So this is my menorah in my new front window. I think it looks best here of all the homes it’s been in. I will take that as a bit of holiness, as well. Look what happens when we just feel our way through everything – we stumble sometimes into the divine.

The runner-up to lighting these candles every night of Hanukkah? Hanukkah dinner. I do not even know if this is a thing. But I have made it quite the thing, so let’s just go with it. I just finished up the dishes from tonight’s big feast {dish duty was accompanied by a dog at my feet and this! podcast! with! bruce!}. My cousin Evie and her family were over earlier, and kids were running around, we were drinking wine, I burned my hand in the oil… and we still managed to feast on brisket, noodle kugel, and latkes with applesauce. If you could scratch and sniff that photo for the smells all around that menorah, you’d want to write home about it.

There is absolutely zero I change in these recipes when I make them, so we will call them “borrowed.” Just click on the links above – the brisket goes in the crock pot all day and couldn’t be easier, the noodle kugel isn’t much more than mixing some stuff with some par-boiled noodles and throwing it in the oven, and the latkes aren’t too scary to make, even if they are from a Martha recipe.

There’s one more night left, homies. To quote Adam Sandler, “have a happy, happy, happy, happy Hanukkah.”

Or whatever it is that brings you quiet deep down in the places that matter.

xoxo,

ms. fresh scratch

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into the woods.

Fresh Scratch, Rosemary Meyer Lemon Drop

Finally, a new season. Winter, how the heck are ya?! I’m coming at you from my hiding spot this week in a log cabin in the middle of Idaho, wood stove going, wrapped in a quilt, flannel pajama pants on, surrounded by snow and books and good company. This is my reset button.

In other words, hello – it’s me. I’m back. I’m happy. I’m more than okay. I want to thank you for all of your thoughtful words after my last post an entire season ago. I shouldn’t have been so surprised by all the people who reached out to me – because I am a lucky girl who has all the best people – but I was touched in a way that may sound odd, given the circumstances. Those of you who have had the experience of walking down the aisle to get married may know what I mean: you looked at all the people smiling at you and felt so loved. So supported. I know this wasn’t that, but it felt the same somehow. I still have all that matters.

After sharing the news with you that my family was changing, the sands beneath my feet really shifted in a matter of days; things went from bad to worse, and I truly needed all the nice things you said, all the hugs, all the good vibes. I didn’t think anything would bring me more consuming grief than losing my dad, but these events did. They brought the heat in a not-nice way. But you know what? It’s in those kinds of battles where we become warriors.

I feel stronger than ever. I feel resolute. I feel solid. I feel more kind. My girls are thriving. I got that house I was hoping for – gingerbread and all – and we’ve settled into a new normal over the last six weeks or so. It feels right. And if I can just follow what feels right and never stray from that, I’m golden.

Fresh Scratch, winter field

I was getting tired of just surviving, and I was really starting to miss the things that make me feel twinkly {is that a word? who cares! it is now.}. Then a couple weeks ago, the snow just started dumping on my drive home. I had stuck my big camera up high in my closet upon moving in, but on this day I dragged in the stool, climbed up, and greeted my old buddy. As we walked toward that pretty field up there, I felt something familiar: excitement. It’d been a while. I snapped that shot and just knew my magic was back. Just like you know all the things you just know.

Here’s what happened after:

I thought of this.

I sat in front of the Christmas tree I had cut down by myself {so much harder than it looks! the girls made so much fun of me, especially when I said, “Quit talking! I am trying to cut down this tree!”}, read a book {I just finished this one, and just started that one}, and remembered this.

I recreated my exact cookie party components from last year, then had like 20+ of my ladies over to my house on a school night, where we boozed it up and got so loud I had to shout across the kitchen to Emily. It felt like a christening of laughter for my house. Promptly at 9:30, they all went home. That’s how we moms party.

And now I’m at the cabin. Because in the quiet moments of my storm, I knew that this was the place to wash ashore.

What’s next? Well, checking on the fire, for starters.

The rest is wide open.

Thanks for making my heart grow three times as big.

xoxo, ms. fresh scratch