tradition ambition


Seems like I’m just rolling from holiday to holiday here on the blog and to be perfectly honest, that’s fairly reflective of life in real time. I’m always composing blog posts in my head, but as you see, they rarely make it to the screen.  Halloween faded quickly into a pre-birthday, weekend-long yoga intensive at my local (and incredibly gorgeous) Iyengar yoga studio with Manouso Manos. Despite the hefty dose of inspiration, my mid-November birthday found me introspective and angsty, as usual.

I was hired at the embassy back in August as a sort of roving girl Friday. Over 4 months later, I am still waiting for the security clearance. Our tour may be over by the time I actually start the job. In the meantime, I hosted a holiday craft market in our home since I wasn’t hearing many solid details about the embassy’s Christmas bazaar. Both events came together beautifully in the end, more on these later.

We took advantage of a long weekend in early December to visit a friend in Lima, Peru.  From the dramatic Pacific cliffside condos to their endless selections of artisan textiles and farmers markets, my mind and belly still hum with inspiration. Heirloom beans, grains, sprouts, veggies, fruits and seafood are abundant and affordable. Sorry for the teaser, but again (and I promise!!), more on this later.

(Instead of backtracking too much, I’m working to tie the above topics into “real time” projects with accompanying posts. Don’t worry, I’ll save you the navel gazing birthday blues!)


Fast forward to the more recent past: Last weekend we hosted a gingerbread house decorating party for the Bushbaby and 3 of her buddies. Neither of us had done this before. My experience was limited to incredibly fond but distant memories of my Aunt Jayne’s annual contribution to the Christmas party at my grandparent’s. I can remember a collective trembling anticipation as my cousins, sister and I watched their arrival from the warmth of our grandma’s kitchen. The masterpiece perched on her extended arms as she and my uncle navigated the icy driveway. I called her the other day and she had a good laugh, reminding me of her “adobe years” when she couldn’t get the roof to stay upright. Of course in my memory, it was always on the level of Christmas miracle . A house made entirely from giant cookie parts and covered in sweets!? And WE GET TO EAT THIS?!? Imagine that.

Fast forward thirty-five years.


Snakes found a basic recipe on line and last Monday we began the weeklong evening bake-a-thon. By Friday night we had amassed enough pieces to build 4 houses. Armed with pastry bags full of sticky royal icing, we got to work. Just before midnight our project finally seemed like it would be a success. Sounds like a huge undertaking, but like anything, the more you do it, the more proficient you become. And let’s be honest, it’s really all about the decorating. As long as your structure is relatively sturdy, you’re in business.IMG_5867

Of course their dedication to decoration was inversely proportional to the amount of decoration consumed. After about 20 minutes, they sprung from the table and ran in circles around the house, taking turns chasing each other on the scooter, balance bike and plasma car. The parents had a surprisingly relaxed time finishing things up despite the fever pitch of chaos rising around us.


Before things ran too far off the rails, I fed everyone a quick and simple grilled cheese lunch and soon after they were off with their own masterpieces in tow. IMG_5905


Snakes was horrified when later that evening I snapped a chunk of gingerbread from the facade. “You’ve got to be kidding me!! After all of that work! You’re just tearing in like a hungry bear. You have zero self control.” Since I can’t really argue with that last bit, especially when it comes to baked goods, I need to know. Should the house rest, undisturbed for days of admiration by all who pass? Or are we at immediate liberty to see this Christmas miracle through to it’s crumbly spicy end? When is it appropriate to hungry bear it on in to your child’s masterpiece?


10 thoughts on “tradition ambition

      1. I love that picture. She’s so serious! Thank you for the christmas card. It was such a surprise and always fun to get good stuff in the mail! Hope you have a happy, healthy new year! xoxo

    1. Thank you, Janet! I’m trying to post more often. It’s the closest thing to a scrapbook/”baby book”/ etc that I’ve got. It’s a fun way to keep in touch with everyone too.

  1. Honestly, if I were constructing a ginger bread house, I would most likely need to figure out what to use for the half of roof I had already eaten…remarkable constraint on your part!!!

    1. perhaps this lends some insight into the real reason for Janie’s “adobe days”? And thank you for recognizing that incredible restraint on my part- all week long!

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