New tradition…or just nuts?!

With each passing year I like to try to find new ideas for Christmas gifts that I can create for family and friends. There are so many presents that are just as much fun to make as to receive.

Yummy treats are always good to get. I admit I don’t have the patience to do much baking anymore though. Oh yeah, the first sheet of perfectly shaped cookies are a blast. But then I find myself in a showdown with the never-ending bowl of dough and the cookies get freakishly bigger and bigger until the last batch consists of just two frisbee-sized cookies so I can get it all over with!

So this month I decided while my man was tending to his customary smoker full of chickens, I’d take a crack at spiced pecans.

Not literally, they were already shelled and the ease of roasting a whole batch at a time was appealing. As I pored over different recipes online, the boyfriend suggested I make at least 3 types and we settled on sweet (flavored with maple syrup), savory (thanks to rosemary), and spicy.

Sweet and spicy pecans

The spicy turned out to be my favorites, spices with a little heat like cayenne mix with the sweetness of brown sugar in an addictive way I don’t think should be saved for just the holidays but will be enjoyed all year. Plus, we’re already looking forward to trying different recipes for next Christmas.

Happy gift recipients and quality time with a handsome guy in the kitchen? It all adds up to a nice Holiday bonus for me!

I see the divine in you…and your claws in me!

Day one of my pre-Thanksgiving staycation. Not only am I allowing myself the luxury of plenty of time to prepare for the holiday, I intend to pamper myself quite a bit. sunrise

As planned, this morning started with some much needed yoga. I love doing sun salutations while actually watching the sun come up, and wonder if I get bonus one-with-nature points considering the extra moves I must throw in because the cat wants to get in the act. 1120150649d

Luckily the routine today didn’t involve any poses where I’m on my back since he sees that as a prime opportunity to pull my hair. Instead I listened to his indignant squawks as he dodged out from under my belly each time I dropped from a plank to transition into upward dog, and tried to ignore his pant leg tugging during warrior one and two.

Eventually he does get bored with teasing me, and moves on to the window to see what the rising sun reveals and I can focus on my breathing and welcome the yummy combo of an energy boost and relaxed body.

Until I slosh a quarter cup of fresh coffee down my leg. Namaste, on with the day…

Vance & Hines vs. Duncan Hines?

Cake aftermath...
Cake aftermath…

I’m up late baking a cake for my boyfriend as it’s his birthday tomorrow. I’m also a bit fascinated at the changes in me as I’ve aged, and why this is such a daunting task. I mean- I remember back when I was 8 to 10 years of age and I could have whipped this up from scratch. We’re talking using only one hand to deftly crack an egg and empty it into the batter with no shell, then decorating the cake afterwards in a professional manner.

And now I find myself straining to remember the last time I baked, striking yoga poses to reach into back cabinets for long missing electric beaters and squinting at directions printed on the back of a cake mix box, hoping to not screw up the whopping 4 steps I must follow for an edible treat.

It’s funny how some loves stay with you through your life, and some fade in and out on the journey as they’re meant to. I still enjoy cooking, but admit baking is an art that takes more patience than I seem to have anymore.

Looking back, I remember signs that this transition was taking place. I learned how to change the oil on my first motorcycle, but one time when I went to accomplish this I found I couldn’t remove the plug to drain the oil. I called in a friend to help me and when he asked if I had a pan to empty the old oil into he was fairly shocked when I emerged from my apartment with a pie tin that belonged to my roommate. Shock turned to laughter when I used flour to soak up some oil I spilled onto the pavement in the parking lot.

Thankfully these days I’m equipped to perform routine maintenance on my bike without having to steal makeshift tools from the kitchen! Likewise no loose screws will be found in the birthday cake tomorrow, just in the cook…