31 March 2010

A Seder with Friends

Monday evening we enjoyed the hospitality of good friends at a Passover seder in their home.  It was very special to be included in our friends' celebration -- an evening of metaphor, music, laughter, remembering, and, of course, delicious food.

Before the meal, all of us -- young and old(er) -- took a turn reading from the haggadah to tell part of the Passover story.  Karen, who led the service chose a haggadah that included comments by Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, adding relevance and insight to the traditional story.

Of course, we left the singing in Hebrew to those who knew what they were doing.  And somewhere in the telling, Jesus got mistaken for Moses in the parting of the Red Sea story, which was quite hilarious.

And then there was eating.  Luckily, food is also a part of the remembering and story telling.

We ate from the Passover plate.  First, we ate parsley, a symbol of coming spring, dipped in salt water to remember the tears and pain felt by the Jewish slaves.  And next, on matzoh, we ate the maror or bitter herbs (in this case, horseradish) with charoset.  Marror is a reminder of the bitter hardship the Jewish slaves endured in Egypt.  Charoset is a wonderful combination of nuts, apple, and dried fruit with sweet wine, which symbolizes the clay used by the Jews to make many Egyptian bricks.

At some point, we remembered to fill Elijah's cup with wine and open the window for him (inviting the prophet of peace to the table), and there was also the hiding of the special matzoh (the afikomen) for the children to find.  It was fun to learn and share these special rituals.

After the Passover story was told, we enjoyed the Passover meal, which the Viking of the house (and by that I mean Kyle, not the range) had spent all day cooking for us.  The menu included several traditional foods like brisket, tzimmes, gefiltefish, and of course, matzoh. 

I am not that familiar with traditional Jewish foods, but here's what I've learned.

Gefiltefish is basically a boiled fish dumpling that has bread crumbs, egg, and a bit of sugar in it.  I thought it was tasty, although its unique slightly sweet flavor makes it one of those foods I think one must acquire a taste for in order to eat on a regular basis. 

Tzimmes is a dish of little bread pudding-like balls made from sweet potato and spices, among other things, browned and drenched in apricot glaze, and brought steaming to the table.  These delicious morsels apparently take all day to make, which is probably why they are so seriously delicious!  I ate far more than my share, I admit.

Brisket is a cut of beef that is cooked and cooked and cooked some more.  I really don't know anything about making it, except that in the end it's full of flavor and very tender, and there are often vegetables in the pot with it.  Although I really don't eat red meat, I tried this brisket because it looked so good.  And it was.

Of course, we had matzoh.  Matzoh is an unleavened bread.  The story goes that once given their freedom, the Jewish slaves left Egypt so quickly that their bread did not have time to rise before they left.

And then there was Ali's chocolate matzoh.  I ask you, "What's not to like about a crunchy cracker topped with hardened chocolate and flaked salt?"  BTW, you must check out Ali's latest album -- it's even better than the chocolate matzoh!  She's a talented woman.

And speaking of dessert, I absolutely can't say enough good things about the warm-from-the-oven coconut macaroons that the chef whipped up after dinner.  Chewy, tender, crunchy, sweet -- in a word, amazing.

We left for home not only with full stomachs but also grateful for good friends and the joy that celebrating traditions (even if they belong to someone else) brings.

28 March 2010

We're Listed

Our house went on the market on Friday and we've already had a few showings.

Today is our first open house -- hopefully, lots of folks will come see the place.  Here's how our Realtor describes the house in her advertising:
If you – or someone you know – has been looking for a charming, affordable house, with quality updates and a lovely yard, on a quiet street in a nice & convenient neighborhood… then look no further… you will LOVE this quintessential Seattle bungalow!

Built in 1912, this delightful home abounds with charm!  Quality updates include new architectural windows, newer gas furnace, updated electric/plumbing, remodeled kitchen/bath, custom built-in cabinets in dining area & kitchen nook, and restored (original) fir flooring.  Lovely southern exposure enables the established cottage garden to truly flourish.  Located on a quiet street w/excellent access to Hwy 99 & I-5, just 1 block to bus-line and Interurban Trail, ¼-mile to Greenwood Park & off-leash dog park.
 And here's a link to the virtual tour.

25 March 2010

Our Six-Year Adventure Ends

Our little yellow house hits the market in the morning.  Although we've been working on it like crazy people in order to get it ready, we have had a few sentimental moments -- cutting the last pieces of new trim, mulching the garden for the last time, etc.

It's kind of sad and kind of exciting all at once.

This house has been a true home improvement adventure for us.  Since buying it in 2004, we've done a thing or two.  Here are a few before and after photos, just for posterity!

The front of the house in April 2004, the day we first viewed it with our real estate agent.

And yesterday, March 24, 2010.

The kitchen was our first remodel project, which we started before moving in.  Here are the befores.

And the after.
Our living room before we took up the carpet, etc.

Over the years, we replaced the windows, door, restored the floors and added built ins.

And then there's the bathroom -- before.

And after.

The back yard when we purchased the house.
 And now--the carport became the 11-foot-long table thanks to Byron's mad skills with a saw.

This house has given us the opportunity to learn a lot about how to rebuild, renovate, and generally live with the imperfect.  What a fun adventure it has been!

22 March 2010

Closer to Ready

We were kind of busy this weekend getting the house ready to sell.  A new backsplash for the kitchen, re-done doors, floors, and siding, and then there's painting and more painting. Thankfully, the list is getting shorter.  We've been at this for a few weeks now, and feel ready to be done!