Friday, December 2, 2011

Light the lights, live and remember.

My favorite part of Christmas is sitting in the living room with only the light of the Christmas tree and maybe a candle or two. I did this as a young girl all the time. We had one of those living rooms that wasn't really for "living" it was for holidays. The furniture while beautiful, was never used in the way the family room couch was for jumping up and down and lazing on while watching TV or playing video games. I used to get into my jammies grab a pillow and a blanket and go into the living room. I would turn off all the other lights and just lay on the floor and dreamily languish in the twinkling lights of the tree.

Recently I have learned that the term "living room", surprisingly, has an origin. Didn't everyone in every generation call that room the living room? Well no. Actually it was the "parlor" and one of the uses for the parlor was to display your deceased family members after they had died for people to come over and pay respects to them and to the family. Yes - this room was the familial funeral parlor. After the Flu epidemic of 1918 when so many grieving families had over-used the parlor for sorrowful goodbyes it is said that the Ladies Home Journal instructed Americans to re-claim the parlor for the living and donned it the "Living Room".

Now in order to blog about this tidbit that I read in the book "Flu" I did some research to see if it was true - turns out it is a debate and many say that the story of the Ladies Home Journal Living Room terminology story is a myth...everyone has their two cents and mine is I don't care what the truth is, I like the concept.

I like a living room that is for living. I want my own fond memories of hanging out in there next to the roaring fire with a few candles flickering playing monopoly with the girls, sipping wine and reading a good book, talking with Marty about the day's events what our plans are for the future and our goals in life and parenting. NormanRockwellish - I know. There is something so beautiful about quiet moments of no particular significance. These are the moments that make up the bulk of our lives. There are moments when we say "I do" or when we find out we are pregnant or when a loved one passes that are significant but these are few; how do we spend all of the other moments...

This recipe is from Marty's cousin Marybeth and it is perfect for enjoying next to a roaring fire when the snow is drifting up to the window ledge (or in our case when the rain is filling up the basement!)
Beef Barley Soup
2lbs short ribs ( I use boneless so I cut to stew like portions from the beginning)
5 cups water
1 160z can diced tomato (such as Muir Glen)
1 large onion sliced
2 bouillon cubes ( I use "Better than Bouillon" beef base)
1 tsp salt (I skip this - the bouillon does the trick)
3/4 tsp dried basil
2 cups sliced carrots & 1 cup sliced celery & 1 cup chopped green pepper
2/3 cup quick cook barley

Brown the beef on all sides and drain excess fat. Add water, undrained tomatoes, onion, bouillon, salt and basil. Simmer covered for ~60 minutes. (If you are using bone in short rib that is not cut you will want to simmer 90 minutes and remove the meat to cool and then chop and return to pot after the carrots and barley are cooked.) Add the veggies and the barley and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes more until carrots and barley are softened.

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