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It’s important to me that others feel warm and welcomed upon entering my home & leave feeling better about themselves than when they arrived.
It can be as simple as a little handmade parting gift or a snail Mail notes to thank someone for helping to bring joy to your holiday season. This Christmas, it will be slow roasted candied Bourbon Pecans that will be sent home with my guests.
16 oz. pecan halves
4 egg whites
3 tbs. bourbon
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. course salt
Combine sugars, cinnamon and salt. Whisk together egg whites, bourbon and vanilla extract. The vanilla gives these pecans a perfectly rich, gourmet touch.
Toss the dry pecans into the egg white mixture. Once all nuts are evenly coated, allow the pecans to soak for 5-10 minutes. Next, toss in the sweet sugar mixture.
Evenly spread the pecan mixture onto a parchment lined sheet pan. Here, I used a spilpat. Drizzle any excess egg mixture over the pecans.
Roast the pecans at 250 degrees for 1 hour, tossing every 15 minutes. Mixture should look dry and slightly crumbly when finished.
Allow these hot, sticky pecans to cool before tasting!
Sweet, salty and crunchy with a nice kick of bourbon these candied pecans will make a lovely gift during the holiday season.(These purple Ball mason jars had me at hello!)
It is my prayer that with each bite, my friends will know that they are so very loved.
My little kindergartner rushes home each day with an empty belly. After he kisses momma and baby brother, he runs straight into the kitchen for his afternoon snack. Typically, a healthy snack fills his empty stomach best but sometimes… an afternoon sweet treat is in order!
Today I prepared Jude a piping cup of hazelnut hot chocolate paired with pie crust cookies. I had them ready when he walked in the door. We sat talked about his day and giggled over our treats. I love having a little boy who enjoys the simply things in life like CHOCOLATE.
Hazelnut Hot Chocolate
2 cups milk
1/4 cup hazelnut chocolate spread (Nutella)
2 tbs. cocoa powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Marshmallows or homemade whipped cream (optional)
In a sauce pan add milk, hazelnut chocolate spread, cocoa and vanilla. Heat the mixture on medium, stirring continuously until all chocolate is melted and beverage is thick. Do not allow the mixture to boil. When you see small bubbles form around the edge of the pan it is time to pour and drink up. Top with marshmallow or fluffy whipped cream.
I prepared quick and easy pie crust cookies, filling each with a teaspoon of hazelnut chocolate spread. Finished with an egg wash an sprinkling of course sugar on top these crunchy cookies really were fantastic. Jude dipped and dipped is cookies in warm hot chocolate.
Jude: “Mom, I have a riddle. What looks like a house but when you cut it in half it has a star on the inside?”
Honestly I had no idea of the possible answer to Jude’s little riddle. Well… I usually don’t have answers to his silly jokes and riddles.
Jude: “An apple. Did you know there are stars inside of apples?”
With the piles of apples we picked from the apple orchard, I decided I would put Jude’s little riddle to practice. Did you ever make apple stamps as a kid?
We choose to dip our apples in red, yellow and green paint, Jude informed me these were the appropriate colors for apples. I found this fun wood grained card stock, which I cut to postcard size 5×7 and we began stamping.
I wonder what else we can stamp?
A few days ago, Jude and I took a little trip to a local Doughnut shop, Golden Doughnuts. Upon picking out our delicious breakfast treats, I quickly looked for a seat. Jude shuffled behind me dragging his feet, making at little tap… tap… shuffle… shuffle sound. Several people rolled their eyes as he passed. However, one sweet old man’s eyes little up upon seeing my little boy. He said, “Miss, that is a good looking boy you have there.” He then proceeded to tell me a story, “I have this favorite pair of tennis shoes that my kids hate. They are always trying to throw them away. Yesterday,” he continued, “while I was at the store, my shoes started making this flapping noise. I bent down to discover the whole sole had come loose. So I pulled the sole completely off and finished my shopping. What else could I do? I have to hide them from my kids!”
I asked him what his favorite flavor of doughnut was? He said for years he had been eating doughnuts, “they used to be two for a nickel or a dozen for a quarter. I don’t eat doughnuts anymore.” The doctor told him he could not eat doughnuts, that oatmeal would be better for his health. “I just don’t like oatmeal,” he said. So, everyday he eats several oatmeal cookies for breakfast. He brings them into the doughnut shop and enjoys them with his cup of coffee. He seemed to enjoy aggravating the shop employees, but I was all in good fun. “At least I buy my coffee!” Every time he visits the doctor he lets the doc know that he is in fact eating his oatmeal.
This sweet man just wanted someone to share his story with and I am glad he shared it with me today!
Next time you are out shopping or at a local restaurant engage a stranger in conversation, you may just be surprised at what could happen.
As a young girl, I spent summers in Arizona with my grandparents, great uncle Steve and his wife, my aunt Kay. This may have been the root of my affection for all things Southwest? My Uncle Steve was a leather working hippie. He made saddles, drove a stage coach, traded Indian’s leather for beautiful turquoise and even wrote poetry. I could sit and listen for hours as he told of his adventures living outdoors in the majestic Garden of the Gods, traveling, living life to the fullest. Several of my uncle’s saddles are featured in the movie “Dancing with Wolves,” I cannot count the number of times I would watch the credits to see if my uncle’s name would scroll across the movie screen… they never did. One of my most favorite memories of my uncle was of a time I was playing outside in front of my grandparent’s Arizona home, when a very large rattle snake interrupted my fun! From across the yard my uncle saw the danger and ran over to attack the snake with a garden rake. After killing the snake, he brought the poor snake over to me to take a look. I had never seen a snakes rattle up close. As my grandmother and I looked upon the snake in amazement, the rattle shook, loud and fierce. I don’t think I have ever ran so hard or fast in my life! My uncle made for me with the snakes skin a lovely belt fitted with silver tips he traded from an Indian reservation. He was an wonderful artist. His signature trademark were Dogwood blossoms. Each piece of his handcrafted leather, was decorated beautifully with Dogwood flowers. I am fortunate enough to have two beautiful leather pieces from my uncle to bring me inspiration, to remind me of his love and to teach my son about beauty.
In honor of our uncle, Jude, my brothers and I learned to use leather stamps. Leather stamping is easy and fun! We made several bracelets and keychains to give to our friends and family. This craft was perfect for Jude, giving him the opportunity to find the letters of his name and to form patterns. I think his pieces may have turned out better than the rest of ours. We had a perfect Uncle Steve day!!!
Leather stamp tool handle
Leather keychains, bracelets or your choice of
Wooden or rubber mallet
I choose this adorable “Indian Lore” stamp set. I knew Jude would love the idea of telling a story with the characters in this set; a bird, a deer, an arrow, a flowing river and a sun. I also purchased a complete set of alphabet stamps, because what kid does not love to put their name on their masterpiece?
To begin, dampen the leather (I learned this lesson the hard way). As you can see we began this “Jude” bracelet without applying water to the leather. Dampening the leather allows the leather to become more pliable resulting in a deeper more clear image.
Layout your design before you begin to stamp your leather piece. This allows you to space out stamps evenly.
Jude was able to strike the stamp hard enough himself. However, I was quite worried about my fingers.
Let the leather dry and apply a leather finish of your choice. I choose a desert tan stain. Jude had an idea of his own, he wanted color, so he ran in the house to grab his watercolor paint set. I wasn’t sure if the paint would stick… but to my surprise it did! I love the way his little creative brain works. Soon my brother’s joined in to add color to their pieces. Jude was so proud to give his Dad a handmade keychain and attach his J keychain to his backpack.
For Joy a Gift
For each and every joyful thing.
for twilight swallows on the wing.
for all that nests and all that sing.
For fountains cool that laugh & leap,
for rivers running to the deep.
for happy, care-forgetting sleep.
For stars that pierce the somber dark,
For morn, awaking with the hark,
For new life new stirring neath the bark,
For sunshine and the blessed rain,
For budding grove and blossoms lane,
For the sweet silence of the plain,
For bounty springing from the sod,
For every steep by beauty trod,
For each dear gift of joy,
– a poem by my uncle, Steve L. Singmaster
If I could fill my garden with just one thing, it would have to be basil. I could eat it everyday! I love the fresh taste and the intoxicating smell. In pasta or on bruschetta. Bruschetta is prepared by rubbing grilled slices of bread with garlic, piling it high with tomatoes, basil and drizzling it with rich olive oil. This twist on traditional bruschetta can be served as a starter, side or snack shared with friends, and stars my favorite herb, basil. Fresh basil, juicy tomatoes, ooey gooey cheese… bruschetta pull apart bread is messy, but oh so fun to share!
Bruschetta Pull Apart Bread
1 loaf of sourdough bread
8 oz cream cheese, softened
4 tbs. of your favorite basil pesto
1/2 cup diced tomatoes
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup fresh chopped basil
1/2 cup shredded parmesan
3-4 oz fresh mozzarella
2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
Combine tomatoes, garlic, 1 tbs. olive oil, basil, salt and pepper in a bowl, stir and allow to marinate. Use a serrated knife to slice the bread, both directions. Do not cut through the bottom of the crust. Mix together the cream cheese and pesto. Use a butter knife to spread the cream cheese mixture between the slices. Pile high the tomato mixture and the cheeses on the bread. Drizzle with remaining olive oil. Bake the bread for 15-20 minutes. Switch your oven to broil and broil for 2-3 minutes to brown the cheese nicely. Let cool 5-10 minutes. Serve on a platter to be shared with friends. If messy is not for you, feel free to use a knife and a fork.
This past weekend Michael, Jude and I jumped in the car and took a drive to Elliot Farms. Jude could eat strawberries by the bucket loads, so what better way to spend the day then picking fruit together. It was a lovely spring day! We enjoyed the outdoors, we drank in the sunshine, but most of all, we loved being together.
As a gift to our sweet strawberry loving boy, Michael helped me to make hanging planter boxes full of strawberry plants. They are growing nicely. Soon we will be making homemade strawberry ice cream and short cake!