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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Spiced Toasted Pecans With Dried Cherries And Bittersweet Chocolate Chips

For awhile now I have been wanting to experiment with making spiced nuts.  There is a restaurant near me that has an appetizer of warm spiced nuts on their menu - I always find myself ordering them - and a Michigan made hard cider to go alongside.  From that inspiration I came up with this recipe - here the nuts are toasted and won't get your hands messy.  I also added cherries and chocolate for some spicy and sweet goodness.

Spiced Toasted Pecans With Dried Cherries And Bittersweet Chocolate Chips

1 T. olive oil
1/2 t. Franks Red Hot Sauce - original (for extra spice use 1 t. - I think it would be good)
2 c. pecan halves

1 1/2 t. chili powder
3/4 t. Celtic sea salt
1/2 t. black pepper (I like to use straight up McCormick)
1/2 t. ground cumin
1/2 t. powdered garlic
1/2 t. sugar
1/4 t. dried oregano
1/2 c. Ghirardelli's 60% Cocoa Bittersweet Chocolate Chips
3/4 c. dried cherries (I used Trader Joe's tart Montmorency dried cherries - they are larger and really delicious) 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Line a cookie sheet with Reynolds wrap.

In a bowl combine olive oil and hot sauce.  Add the pecans and toss to coat.  Set aside.

Combine all of the spices in a small bowl, and then add this mixture to the pecans.  Toss the pecans again to coat well with the spices.  Place the pecan mixture on cookie sheet in a single layer.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until pecans are toasted.  Stir every few minutes.  I cooked mine for 15 minutes.

You could serve just the nuts on their own warm, but if you wait until they cool and add the chocolate and cherries I think you will like that too!  

They are so delicious I am having a hard time staying away from the bowl :)


Sunday, June 7, 2015

Today Is National Cancer Survivors Day

For all of those who have survived cancer, and for those who are finding themselves faced with and in the middle of dealing with their diagnosis and treatment - today is a day to both celebrate and also to inspire those fighting that there is hope - and the odds don't matter.  This can be beat!  

I'm pretty sure that each person reading this post has someone in their immediate lives that has fought a cancer diagnosis.  It touches us all.  More people than ever are surviving this disease.  There are some things that we probably don't take into consideration when it is not our personal heath that is compromised.  Just a few thoughts on understanding, and being compassionate to those who have dealt with and are dealing with this battle.  I think it is very easy for us to remove ourselves from the reality that our friends are loved ones are living.

Surviving cancer is just one piece of the puzzle.  Think of the following struggles that also occur in the wake of this disease.  There are physical challenges, emotional challenges, and often financial burdens that have resulted from doctor's visits, hospital bills, and missed work days.   Sometimes it is hard to find a specialist - health insurance and life insurance coverage may be denied.   There is also the fear that the cancer will return.  We all need to remember that just because the cancer is cured, and we are celebrating it's riddance that doesn't mean that there still isn't a struggle and a lot of anxiety for the person who has been in the fight.

I personally know many friends and family who have fought and won this disease.  I would say that I know 12 people who have been diagnosed with various forms of cancer - and luckily I know 11 of them as survivors!

The following statement is from the National Cancer Survivor's Day website: 

The National Cancer Survivors Day Foundation believes that more resources, research, and survivor-friendly legislation are needed to improve the quality of life of cancer survivors – during and after treatment. We urge everyone who participates in National Cancer Survivors Day celebrations to not only recognize those who are living with a history of cancer but also raise awareness of the hardships cancer survivors face beyond treatment.

I want to thank Heather Von St. James for making me aware that National Cancer Survivors Day exists.  10 years ago Heather was given 15 months to live after receiving a diagnosis of mesothelioma, a rare cancer caused by exposure to asbestos.   Please click here for more information on mesothelioma.  Heather says that as she stands here today overwhelmed with joy because she outlived her diagnosis she has one mission - to have as many people as possible help her spread awareness.  I'm not the most organized all the time, but this was something I wanted to take the time to write about, and to help her get the word out.  It also gave me time to reflect on those I know that have battled cancer, and to really think more about what they have gone through.  They all show such strength so it is sometimes easy to not really think about what they have endured.

Please take a moment to watch Heather's video - she is such an inspiration - and I love the attitude she possesses.  I think that really makes a difference - the positive thinking and having hope -  though I understand it sadly isn't always enough I really think it can be so helpful - even in everyday normal life when not facing down a giant like cancer.  That is something that everyone can take with them! As Heather says, "with hope, the odds don't matter"

Maybe you would also like to spread the word - if so please feel free to share this on your social media, write your own blog post about Heather's story or about someone you love.  Why not use the entire month of June to spread this message :)   

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Maybe My Dog Should Model :)

Yesterday ...

Sometimes I think my dog needs a job marketing products.

Just hanging out with the family on a Saturday afternoon in one of "her" many chairs.

Making the Moroccan candle holders look even cuter.  I'll do another post on those later.  Just wanted to share a few quick pics.

Happy Sunday!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Heath Bar Cake

I've posted this recipe before, but it is good so here it is again.

Back in high school my friend and I were at her Aunts house.  Her Aunt made this for dessert.  It is a simple concept that you just throw together - use as much Heath as you like.  Also, I still think it tastes best when you buy the heath bars and crush them up in a little food processor.

Here is what you will need:

Betty Crocker White Cake mix - the only white cake mix I will buy (This probably sounds weird but the others remind me of playdough - the smell of it runs into the taste - it's not for me :) - I decided to share that so if you have had boxed white cake mix and hated it that might be why - stick with Betty!)

You will also need the eggs and Crisco vegetable oil to make the cake.  I make it the 3 egg white way.

Sanders Butterscotch Caramel dessert topping - Sanders is a Detroit classic, but you can use any caramel sauce

Original Cool Whip - let it come to room temp. so you can spread it

Heath Bars - I usually chop up the candy bars in a food processor.  Sometimes I grab a bag of Health pieces that they have near the chocolate chip area.  It works either way, but I think it tastes better using the candy bars.  If you want to use candy bars you will need 6 of them.  I used 5 last time I made this cake.

To assemble:

Make your cake mix as directed on the box.  After you have it all mixed and ready add 3/4 cups of crushed Heath.  You can add more or less if you wish - then just mix this in well, and pour batter into pan of choice.  I usually just use a 9 x 13 inch glass Pyrex dish, but I have to say the layer cake I just made was amazing!  You get more caramel sauce this way.  Bake the cake according to the package directions.

After the cake has cooled completely add a layer of caramel sauce - just like you would use frosting.  In the first photo I used 2 round cake pans so I put caramel sauce and more heath bar between the layers and on the top layer.

Now it is time  for some Cool Whip.

Finish the cake off by sprinkling it with more crushed Heath bar pieces.

I store this cake in the refrigerator because of the Cool Whip.  Just take it out right before serving.

Noah wants this every year as his Birthday dessert.


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Birthday Boy And The Gift That Was A Hit

Noah just celebrated his birthday.  He is a really smart boy - plays sports - plays the saxophone and guitar - and is very kind and funny.  This year I decided to take a chance, and I ordered him a Makala Shark Ukulele in Blacktip .  Well, it was a hit!  It was in his hands and being used from the time he opened it until at least 3 hours later.  Then he picked it up again later in the night.  Yesterday after school, baseball practice, haircut, and dinner he was back at it.  Before long the house was filled with the sound of Over The Rainbow.   He went to the website  They have all kinds of current songs on there that you can learn to play.  I really admire his musical skills.  I was kinda surprised that even Josh was excited about the ukulele.  I showed him it the day before Noah's birthday, and with a big smile he told me a kid had one of those at school today!

Here N is getting his ukulele in tune.

This is the tuner ordered - Snark SN6 Clip-On Ukulele Tuner  

 Felt picks are also needed - I ordered these - Mahalo Felt Picks  

Isn't his wrap fun?  Cute animals with neon glasses wrap from World Market.  I bought this in the Winter just to have for their Birthdays!

He requested Heath Bar Cake.  Gosh it was good!
I will post the recipe again in a couple days.  It is something I have been making since high school.

He made me a card that got me teary!  See - he is so sweet.

Josh made me a card with a Whippet on it.

Above are just some of the colors Noah's ukulelecomes in.

The also carry the Kala Waterman Ukulele - take it to the water - the finish is protected.  Lots more colors in this style too!

I didn't purchase a music book - many people online mentioned that they learned online with websites and YouTube.  This seemed like a good option.  The photo above is the Ukutabs site Noah was using.  

So, that's a little peek into our lives, and a great gift idea really for any age.  Even I want to learn, and at this time I  have zero musical ability :)

Monday, May 11, 2015

Mother's Day Brunch & An ADORABLE Mother's Day Video & Recipe For French Eggs

Hope everyone had a nice Mother's Day.  I put together a little brunch.
It was fun to get out all of my colorful dishes and things.

I assembled French Eggs the night before.  I knew I wanted to go to church.  I decided to make this dish not only because it's really good, but because it could be thrown in the oven while I was out.  Oh, and church was good.  See the video below - they played this.  They also sang an Ingrid Michaelson song - Be O.K.  She is my favorite.  I had my morning cup of  Great Lakes coffee while enjoying it all with my Mom.

I picked up the Dahlia's at Trader Joe's on Saturday and just left them in the papers they were wrapped in.  

I also made lemonade + bought sparkling Trader's lemonade.  Picked up the chevron corrugated paper cups at Home Goods a while back.  Seriously grab things in the colors you like when you see them.   There wasn't a single new piece of anything that I had to purchase.  Most of what is out I have had for years.  

Also, since I gave out The Forest Feast cookbook I made the Apricot Bites from the book.  Someone had already stolen quite a few before this pic was taken.  Josh is in the background getting our new coffee maker ready to go.  It's very helpful to have a teen that likes to make coffee :)

My Mom and I.

Oh, and here is the video for Mom's.  What a cute kid.  Love this!

Also, here is the recipe for French Eggs.

French Eggs

White sandwich bread - I use Pepperidge Farms Very Thin White
1 lb. grated sharp cheddar - I use about 3/4 of a pound
1 lb. cooked bacon
4 eggs
2 c. milk - I use 2%
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. dry mustard

Butter enough bread to line a 9x13 glass Pyrex dish.  I spray my pan with Pam first.
Butter only one side of the bread and place it buttered side down in your baking dish.
Spread cheddar over this bread layer.
(I usually don't use this much cheese - just use what looks good to you)
Spread cooked bacon over this layer.  I crumble the bacon up.
Butter enough bread to cover the top of your baking dish.
Place the bread in the dish buttered side up.
Mix together the eggs, milk, salt, and dry mustard.
Pour this milk mixture over all of your layers.

Refrigerate overnight.
Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Vol. 25 Art + $12 Perfect Frame

One of my favorite places for finding art is Volume Twenty Five  (aka Vol. 25.)

All of Jessica's art is printed on textured cotton canvas.  Prints can be purchased to frame or she also has beautiful science posters which are a very convenient way to get your art and simply take it out of the package and get it up on the wall.  I have even "framed" some of her work by attaching it to office clipboards and hanging them.  The prints are so unique and the canvas is such a high quality that they really can stand alone.

I wanted to show you a frame that I just found at Michael's that works perfectly with her artwork.

I have had the antler print series stashed away at my house for awhile.  A very long while :)  Finally I found this ...

It is a frame that is all glass - no mat.  Michael's - rang up for $12.  Fits 11 x 14 print perfectly.

If you find this frame and it seems a little distressed really get it anyway - it looks great with the artwork.

I have one more empty frame - this is the 11 x 14 I'm wanting to use in it.  Love the colors!

Right now I am planning on hanging them in my remodeled Laundry Room.  I still have to find hardware I like for the cabinets - and make a unique clothes drying rod out of pipe.  Oh, and figure out if I'm going to use natural wood shelves or white painted.  I think I'm leaning toward natural.   I just have to decide.  It's going to be a little while until I have everything finished - but I will share it soon.  Picture above is a sneak peek!

Here are some more choices you will find at Vol. 25.

Thanks for stopping by.

(photo's by me and Vol. 25)