gingerbread house village
holiday hopscotch session
At Castle in the Air, my favorite store in the world! Located on 4th Street in West Berkeley, it remains one of my favorite parts of the neighborhood that I once called home.
Traditional springerle cookies have been made in these decorative molds for hundreds of years and they so very lovely. I learned about them from the House on the Hill site. They have a huge collection of molds as well as videos on how to use them. The basics are to brush the molds with a bit flour so they don’t stick and then let the cookies set before baking them so they don’t spread. There is also a wonderful article on the Wall Street Journal Food and Drink site that is super informative and contains great recipes in which to make springerle cookies. I would love to try my hand baking them someday. Thinking back, the reason I fell in love with these cookies is because the iced springerle cookies reminded me so much of the big cookie I got at Oktoberfest when I was young (looks like this).
I have been thinking a lot about family traditions and which ones are precious to me. I have fond memories of baking with my mother around the holidays and it was something that I always looked forward to. I felt that I learned a lot because I was so interested and having fun in the kitchen. I would love to bake with Emma but not just around holidays. We talk a lot about making our days special and not placing all of the importance on a birthday or traditional holiday. Taking the emphasis off of the day and associating it with the experience and the people we share it with. I like to celebrate the everyday.
For this year end holiday we rented a car for a week. Our plan was to drive down to Southern California to visit folks there. The first stop was taking Jason to his home in Isla Vista. On the way we stopped at Kinokuniya and the Clover Cake Shop for food, manga and a new calendar. We listened to This American Life the whole way and time seemed to fly by. This part of the trip covered Berkeley to Santa Barbara. Jason showed me his campus and we took lots of pictures of the aquatic birds. My favorite spot are the stairs that go into the ocean, just a few blocks from his apartment.
Christmas Eve we drove to El Segundo where my family was having a big party. We crashed it and everyone was very surprised. My Dad cried and I got lots of hugs from everyone. It was a traditional kind of Christmas celebration with Santa Clause making an appearance and a white elephant gift exchange for the adults. I walked away with some pot holders which I really needed. It was fun but overwhelming and we said farewell and drove to Oceanside that evening.
The next day was like any other. We went to IHOP and visited with friends and family. I practiced calligraphy, held a baby and beat everyone at poker. Much more relaxing than the previous evening. The following day we drove further to visit with more people and basically stayed up all night just talking and enjoying each others company. Also I got to hold a bunny, like a lot! I really want a bunny rabbit now. Before driving home, we decided that we should probably sleep and rented a hotel room for the evening.
Driving home took forever but we didn’t care—we just wanted to go home! We needed real food, clean water and to get the hell away from the land of styrofoam and Wallmart. We stopped in at my parents house to say hello/goodbye one last time and to Fry’s to buy some anime and then drove all night. Waking up at home the next day was blissful. Traveling is great and all but nothing beats home. The first thing I did was go to the Monterey Market and buy lots of fruit and vegetables!
After being home for a day we went driving to find snow. Took the 80 as far as we could drive before being told that we needed chains to continue. I was in snow (where it was snowing) for the first time since being a small child. It was so much fun and I was elated! I loved just walking into the deep snow, trying to catch snowflakes and taking pictures of everything! It was beautiful. And very cold. I am a little bit glad that I don’t have to worry about snow in Berkeley. I am thankful that I don’t have a car but can rent one and drive two hours to a magical snowy place.
Took the car back today and I am not missing it. Having a car is not necessary for us and we very much enjoy walking or riding bicycles around town. I cannot wait to take BART to SF and hang out during the last days of my vacation from work. I am fortunate to live in such a wonderful place!