Tag: Hanukkah

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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this is how it all went, part I.

Fresh Scratch, Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic

It’s hard to believe that I broke my leg over two months ago and that the holidays have already came and went. I swear – you blink…and you know the rest.

I’m feeling a good 97% back to normal – last week I put my FitBit back on and started walking to school again. I know. I am practically Wonder Woman for healing up so fast ;).

Here’s what the first part of winter looked like for moi:

 

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Moms, take it from me, having the universe give you a solid week off from everything is equal parts just as amazing as you think it’d be and massively frustrating. It’s hard to be waited on. It’s hard to count on everyone else to do all the things. But, dang, sitting on the couch for a week looking at the Christmas tree and indulging in all your guilty pleasures while everyone else is at school and work? Not gonna lie. It’s a beautiful thing.

And so was getting back to my students. I was so happily surprised by these banners when I got back, along with the TWO MINUTE clap-a-thon from my favorite class: 4th period senior English. I might fail them all so they can’t graduate and have to stay with me forever.

 

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I couldn’t let a little thing like a broken fibula keep me down for long, though. A week after it happened, I was hosting my cousin’s baby “sprinkle” {we called it that so it wouldn’t sound like such a fuss – it was lovely and low-key and had NO GAMES! Yes!} because she is beyond worth it. And isn’t it nice to be the one hosting and the one who is all done giving birth forever?!

Hanukkah fell during my time of being laid-up, too, but we still managed to light the Menorah every night – just sometimes way later than sundown. And I wasn’t up to standing around in the kitchen for long periods of time until after it was over, so I made our big Hanukkah meal between the broken leg and before the stomach flu hit {because, yes, we hadn’t already had enough time lying in front of the Christmas tree being unable to move!}.

 

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And speaking of students, I love it when they come home from college and see me! When I ran into Hannah {first photo} in Trader Joe’s, I totally freaked out. Matt was a little embarrassed. She and Carolina {middle pic} came to Europe with me a couple of years ago and we bonded. Chloe {bottom pic} used to have lavender hair! I just want to put them in my pockets and bring them home with me.

 

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The holiday window at Browsers gave me all the winter vibes. Olympians: buy books at Browsers! It is the best book shop around and truly gives you the book shop experience. Every little thing Andrea does is magic.

 

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This year Annabelle didn’t want me to buy her a pretty Christmas dress. Instead, she wanted an ugly sweater and leggings to match. It will happen, people – they will start to grow up and get their own ideas of what is cool.

Their Christmas concert involved a song about UGLY SWEATERS! And can I tell you that nothing gets me into the spirit faster than kids singing Christmas songs at school?

 

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I drank more than my fair share of rosemary Meyer lemon drops over the holidays. And this Bouche de Noel my in-laws surprised us all with at their Christmas dinner totally flipped me out. I was excited in a very nerdy way. I think these are the coolest, but I’d never eaten one. It was delish, though you almost don’t want to cut into it and mess it up.

 

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When the girls camped out beneath the Christmas tree, I swear Natalie Merchant was singing “These are Days” somewhere very close. It broke my heart in all the best ways. These are the traditions they will talk about when they are big and I am more wrinkled.

 

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With the broken bone, the annual post-Thanksgiving cinnamon roll baking happened Christmas Eve this year. Whew! Just in time. I use PW’s recipe, btw. Works like a charm.

 

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The morning after Christmas we flew away to Maui for a beautiful, quiet week. I pretty much took zero pictures but the ones your see here – my big camera saw absolutely no action. It was glorious.

We’ve been traveling to Maui since our honeymoon – I think this trip marked something like our fifth or 6th time to that particular island together. The first time that we brought Clementine, she was 3 1/2 months old, but this time she was body surfing like nobody’s business and not even afraid when there was a shark sighting by yours truly literally right in front of us. Dang, girl.

Since we’ve been a few times, I wanted to give you the skinny on our favorite spots.

Best Shave Ice: Local Boyz. There’s one in Kihei and one in Lahaina – both are amazing. Get Kaui Cream and mochi balls and vanilla ice cream every time. There’s a fun koi pond in the back of the shopping area at the one in Kihei – we have logged many hours sitting there, eating shave ice.

Best Place to Watch Surfers and See Turtles: the beach just past Mama’s Fish House in Paia. We call it “Jaws,” but I have no idea what it’s really called. I wouldn’t advise swimming in that water unless you want to get thrashed by waves and drown.

Fave Beach: That’d be Po’olenalena. I call it our Boho Grove, as illustrated in the pic above with all our sarongs, etc, hanging off the roots. There’s a dirt parking lot just past all the fancy hotels in Wailea. Pull in. Do not go to the big beach you see before you. Instead, take the trail to the right of that beach, heading to what they call the north beach. Follow it til you get to another beach. This beach itself is awesome. Not a lot of people come there, the sand is a perfect brown, and most people you do see are couples getting married or naked old people. But… walk as far down the beach as you can until you come to some rocks that seem to be the end of the beach. They’re not. Climb over them and you will be rewarded with the best little beach ever. Seriously, we maybe shared it with one other group each day – usually the seven women I called “the bikini crew” whom my husband commented on more than once. If you park it right in the back left corner of the beach against the tall rock wall, you will have shade until 3:30 pm!!! Yes! It was a glorious feeling knowing the only two kids on the beach were my own. Makes it much easier to watch them. And the snorkeling out to the rocks on the right? Phenomenal. Tons of turtles. Watch for Tiger Sharks. First hand experience, yo.

Best Shopping: Sales abound at the GAP and Banana Republic at the Shops at Wailea. Massive, crazy deals on winter clothing every time.

Fave Restaurant: While we love our old standby of Maui Taco, we were blown away by the rad fusion cuisine we had at Star Noodle in Lahaina. Wow. Get a reservation or else be prepared to wait an hour in their parking lot. We took the girls, and even they loved it. I recommend trying a bit of everything and just sharing it all, especially the bacon and eggs, the pork buns, and the malasadas. Oh, and get a lychee martini because you know you want to. You won’t be disappointed at all!

So that’s how my holidays all went down. In Part II, I’m going to tell you about the best dang Christmas gift this girl has ever gotten! But that’s going to be next time, as y’all have got to be in need of a break from me at this point, if you’ve made it this far…

xoxo,

mrs. fresh scratch