Monday, November 24, 2014

HOLIDAY CANDIED PECANS


I’ve heard it said that most of the enjoyment of a glass of wine comes from the smell.
But I’m pretty sure the same goes for candied nuts.
These.  Pecans.  Smell.  AMAZING!!!
Oh my goodness.  I’m kind of convinced that people should stop buying candles and just bake candied nuts all of the time to make their homes smell delicious.  (Hmmm, tempting actually.)  Although, of course, the best part about making candied pecans is getting to pop them in your mouth and taste that sweet, cinnamon-y, nutty goodness.  They are such a treat, and far better than any pre-packaged nuts you might buy at the store.  Plus, they’re ridiculously easy to make.  And when you make them homemade, there are no mystery processed ingredients added to the mix, and you can control exactly how sweet and cinnamon-y and spicy you would like them to be.
I have been making candied pecans for years, either to use at home for snacking or salads, or to give away as holiday gifts.  And let’s just say, my friends and family always go nuts over them.  So here’s my favorite recipe!
All you need to make these are 7 ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • 4 cups (12 ounces) pecans halves, unsalted
  • 1 egg white, whisked
Whisk together your dry ingredients until they are well-combined.  (I often toss them in a ziplock bag, and then smoosh it around with my fingers until the mixture is even.  Quick and easy.)
Then in a separate bowl, add your egg whites and pecans, and toss until the pecans are evenly coated.  Then add in your dry ingredients and carefully toss until combined.
Lay those babies out on a parchment-lined baking sheet, so that they don’t stick to the pan
And then bake them up to delicious perfection, and get ready for your home to start smelling amazing. 300 degrees for 40 minutes should suffice.
These guys are perfect for salads, yogurt parfaits, ice cream sundaes, or topping anything else that calls for sweet pecans.  But I have to say, I still think they’re best for snacking.  And if you’re feeling generous, they are perfect for gifting to friends and family this holiday season so that they can enjoy snacking on them as well.  Because if you ask me, the more candied nuts in this world, the better it will smell be.
Enjoy!




Friday, November 21, 2014

HOLE-FILLING


Maybe meditation is best done in longer periods of time than 1-2 minutes, but honestly, it’s all I’ve got. And usually, it’s more like 30 seconds or less. Deep breaths.

Deep breaths followed by a moment or two of reminding myself to not focus on negative things, like having piles of laundry, an unkempt house, unfinished projects, yada yada yada. And then I suppose reminding myself to not focus on these things is actually a way to focus on these things. Heh.

What is this thing I MUST do, in the telling? Like telling enough people will POOF, make them go away. I suppose this is part of why we repeat all of our hard things. Underneath, maybe it feels like it will take them away…I don’t know.

Habits are hard to break.

When someone asks how I’m doing, I habitually say “I’m fine.” But I really want to say, I’m GREAT, and just really mean it, because I work hard on every aspect of my life. My priorities are lined up just right. My faith, family, and finances are strong and healthy.

I’ve been thinking about the Order of Peace. I have been reading about fear and acceptance, and hope. Then I zone out, thinking about the boxes of outgrown baby clothes and how they have no place in the house, because it’s so easy to fall back into whatever big and small hard things are bothering me. I know gratitude plays such a huge part in this.

I have…So much, right? My kids are not only fine, but they are thriving. I am married and living life everyday with my best friend. We have a wonderful little home in an amazing part of town. We have stable jobs and flourishing hobbies. An oh-so-incredible church and some truly remarkable friendships. So much to be grateful for, and I am. That’s often too easy to forgo, the gratitude. But I have it, underneath any strain, always. What a gift.

This is true. I strive to uncover the gratitude, but I often find myself feeling so swallowed by the stress and strain of everyday life.

We all do, methinks.

Last night it hit me, while editing photos of someone’s precious newborn. My joy is stolen so often by things/stresses I cannot control, and that’s life. It is lies to believe that everything is going to be okay all the time, to strive for that, punching at things that aren’t right with the world. All is not right, big and small.

Do we hide from the stress, and attempt to live with it? Sometimes that’s all we can do, but the hiding is either hole-filling or not. The holes that are in us are deep and wide and filled with self-medicating and staying too busy and numbing out and running. Or they are not. And running and numbing can be necessary, but they only work until they just do not. They only end up hurting us more, and sometimes the people around us.

Maybe it’s up to me. The holes don’t stay filled. Maybe I never see the bottom of the laundry basket. Maybe I’ll never know what my floors look like underneath all the toys. Maybe I never reach the end of my photo editing. Maybe I never clear my Inbox at work, of emails. Maybe I’ll never get that red juice stain out of the floor in my SUV.


The peace is in the letting go, for the filling up, with gratitude and that non-stop-never-gonna-quit hole-filler–grace. And today I whisper into stress’ ear…”what are you here to teach me?”





Wednesday, November 19, 2014

JACKSON HOLE, WYOMING

Last month, I visited Jackson Hole, WY for the first time. It’s renowned for its winter season and the amazing skiing/snowboarding that takes place. But not yet. Not during my visit. Rather the leaves were still changing and there was a dusting of snow on the upper reaches of the Tetons. Probably the most intense experience of seasonality that I’ve ever witnessed.



It’s no secret that Jackson Hole is a beautiful place. When fall sweeps her fingers through the valley, the scene becomes dramatically more lovely. The variance in the leaves is breathtaking. And the sky radiates the most unbelievable turquoise blue.


The temps in October were roughly 30 degrees at night, never exceeding 50 degrees at the hottest time of the day. The weather is in perfect harmony with my favorite outdoor sports like hiking, whitewater rafting, horseback riding, etc.



The town is quiet, more quiet than the hectic summer bustle, I presume. An ideal time to visit Jackson’s amazing eateries. My tummy stayed filled to the brim. Some of my favorite places where it all went down:

Snake River Grill
Recommendations: Brussel Sprouts, Lamp Chops, Donuts, Pierre Gonon Syrah 2011


 Q Roadhouse & Brewery
Recommendations: Organic Deviled Eggs, Mary’s Organic Fried Chicken, Korean Breakfast, Barrel Aged Bouleverdier, Chimay Premiere Ale, Friek Ale


 Rendezvous Bistro
Recommendations: Charcuterie Plate, Tuna Tartare, Meyer Farms Steak Frites, Caymus cabernet 2010


 The sun sets pretty early and the evenings are cool. Okay, they’re cold. But it’s perfect for a bonfire, paired with wine, smores, and some unmatched star gazing.


My trip concluded with yet more snow flurries, reminding me of winter’s approach and that winter’s snow is a few whispers away. Departing hopeful for an opportunity to snowboard these mountains one day with my family. So long, Jackson, you’ve been good to me!







Tuesday, November 18, 2014

ALIVE


I’m on a brown chaise facing the fireplace in our living, one of the places I love to write.

While I sip my tea, I realize it’s been a while since I’ve last written here. Illness hit me hard this week, and I’m backed up on projects, laundry, blogging, photo editing, and a whole lot more. Sometimes when we don’t slow ourselves down, life has a way of doing it for us.

It’s chilly outside but it’s a good day to be alive.





Tuesday, November 11, 2014

MEAL PLANNING


Meal planning is something that I used to be really good at making a priority. Since the 4th child arrived, it's been a task that has dwindled on my list of priorities. My schedule can be all over the place when it comes to childrens' activities, traveling, a photography business, etc. I find it more challenging to set a day to do my grocery shopping and meal prep and then stick to a meal plan when I'm running from work to a volleyball game to a photo shoot and everywhere else! I end up spending more money on take away food than I would like and I come home to a house that doesn't have a ton of choices in the fridge and pantry, especially for those of us who eat 'clean.'

This week I set out to be more diligent with my meal planning. I also set a goal to bring a meal to work. I'm happy to say that I've been pretty successful thus far! Making meals at home sure saves lots of money and it makes me feel like I'm back to being a solid contributor in the home.


Please share a favorite easy-to-prepare evening meal in the comments below.





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