if a little snow must fall.

A few words regarding our first snowfall, on the evening following its arrival:

Friends, although I cannot share your love for snow, I understand you all in theory.  In fact, I too appreciate the feathery flutter of snowflakes in flight and the beautiful, organic drifts they form over rooftops, tree limbs, and the bare branches of our little front yard bushes.  I even admit to feeling that little flutter when the lawns begin to fill with powder.  Fresh snow is a dream, dreamt from deep inside a heavy white blanket that seems to whisper hush, hush.  It is quiet, calm, and perhaps the one herald of Christmas’ coming that cannot be bought.   I get all of that.

But around here, where temperatures rarely stay freezing for long, that downy-soft snow turns to miserable Winter rain so quickly, every time. By morning the Winter wonderland has capsized, disappearing beneath a slippery smear of uninterrupted ice.  There is little joy in waking to iced cars, sidewalks, and roadways, followed after by flooded yards, muddy pawprints, and frigid droplets down your collar as it all begins to melt.

So please, do not mistake me for a sour-hearted snow-hater who could be redeemed by one good snowball fight; I prefer to see myself as realist who knows what’s coming.


And lest you still think me a Grinch, you should know that we dedicated Saturday to buying and decorating our Christmas tree.  It is my first ever live tree — I grew up with a plastic-and-metal family tree that came clattering out of a huge cardboard box year after year — and I am utterly smitten.  I was prepared for the smell to intoxicate {and it certainly does}, but I was shocked by the way it feels.  A fake tree is made of brittle plastic that stabs and scratches as you ornament it, and the real tree is so soft.  Whenever I walk past it, I reach out to rub the needles between my thumb and forefinger and marvel at how alive they feel.  This habit has left the wrists of all my sweatshirts smelling of Douglas Fir; I do not mind at all.

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And if I may leave you with a final festive note, I enthusiastically recommend this candle for your home this holiday season.  I cannot pinpoint the scent exactly, but it reminds me of walking through an evergreen forest just after a heavy snow.  It is a clean, full scent that is unmistakably wintery without any sweetness, and it smelled heavenly burning in my office all morning.


vegetarian tortilla soup.

On the tiresomely long list of foods that I’m not really a fan of, the entry for soup must have an asterisk.  I will admit to my genuine obsession with cheddar broccoli, but I typically feel that soup is not much of a “meal,” and that it tends to be more trouble {to cook and to eat} than it is worth in taste and enjoyment.  After all the effort of cooking a meal, I relish that moment of first sinking my teeth into the delicious result; stooping over a bowl to slurp from the end of a hot spoon feels like the antithesis of that experience.  Soup is too fussy, too messy, and too likely to burn your tongue to truly enjoy.

But now and then, it is nice to have a large pot of soup simmering on the stove and warming up the house, particularly on these short, cold winter days.  And with Pete working later and later each night, I appreciate that I can eat at a normal hour and still offer him a fresh, hot dinner the moment he walks through the door.  So soup, I guess you sometimes have your place.

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As soups go, this one gives you a bit more to chew on, the most important of which is the baked tortilla strips.  They are puffy, crispy, and divine; in fact, the biggest difficulty of this recipe is to not eat them all straight from the baking sheet.  Try to restrain yourself— or just make extra for snacking.

This soup cooks up quickly, making it ideal for busy weeknights; it may also be left simmering over low heat for hours if you are waiting for someone special to come home.  {But I would probably warn them that the tortilla strips might disappear before they get home.}


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