As usual, we've gone from fall to winter quickly. Once the snow starts falling, it's hard to convince yourself that it's really not that bad outside. And once the temperatures start dropping into the teens during the day (single digits if you count the wind chill), we're full on into the Arctic chill. To combat what's been going on outside, I've been sleeping in, drinking more tea, and keeping our new wood stove cranking to make it warm and cozy inside. My dinners have turned to winter also--scalloped potatoes, chili and cornbread, Delicata squash, Matt's enormous, delicious calzones, and other cheesy, comforting things that I want to eat when it's cold out.
The cat gets very antsy when the weather changes. Even though he is part Maine coon, he is a total wimp these days when it comes to snow on the ground. Each step in the snow makes him flick his paws to keep the wet cold off, and this is slow going when the entire yard is covered! We try to show him the neighbor's cats frolicking down the hill in the snow, but he wants no parts of it. He tucks himself behind the wood stove, against the warm slate, and hunkers down for a long winter's nap.
The crescendo of present-buying will reach a climax very soon. Finding the right gift is always such a chore. I tend to go for practical presents, especially things that one can drink or eat. Matt thinks my family is strange since we think nothing of giving spices, olive oil, or bottles of vinegar as gifts. My thought is that at least they'll get used! For those tricky people on your list, try a fancy tea or coffee. The Earl Grey from Tea Trekker is amazing--they mix premium black teas as the base and blend real bergamot oil from Italy into batches every week. The aroma is strong and pure citrus, but the flavors are perfectly balanced on the palate. For coffee lovers, try a single origin brew. I had to review organic coffees (lots of them!) and I found I loved the liveliness of Ethiopian Yirgacheffe. It's clean and almost floral with bright acidity (but not so much that it bothers your belly). Lots of different roasters do a Ethiopian coffee, so pick a reputable company and try some (a couple of sure bets are Counter Culture or Equator). It's also interesting that coffee has historically been grown and processed in a very unique way for many, many years, so you get a history lesson in addition to a great morning eye-opener!
Luckily, we won't have to worry too much about gift-giving this year...we'll be spending the holidays in Tuscany, Italy! If you have any suggestions for where to go and what to do, let me know.