Moments of happy...
1. Incoming packages. I have always loved to receive mail! Who doesn't? But I love receiving it even more now. We got surprised with a package early this week from Arizona. An "Open Before Christmas" package! I opened the box and was met immediately with the smell of Christmas - cinnamon and cloves and sugar. Each of our kids had a gift bag with a Nutcracker ornament all their own inside to add to our tree. The Best Starbucks Manager Ever gifted John and I with some coffee and our own ornament. Further down in the box were the makings of a Family Movie Night: popcorn boxes, homemade Teddy Bear Crunch (sweet caramel popcorn, cinnamon Teddy Grahams, and peanut butter chips), and a copy of the movie Second Hand Lions (Pass the Kleenex!). At the bottom of the box I discovered the cause of the Christmas smell. A bag of cider mix had somehow gotten a hole in it and emptied its contents all over the inside of the box. John's and my Nutcracker ornament was covered in it. I wiped him down the best I could. If you look closely at the last picture you might see that he still has some remaining Christmas smell flecked in his hair and beard, turning it a slight orange hue. I said this must mean that he's a good Scottish Nutcracker. We named him Stuart.
2. A favorite Christmas recipe. Sweet, smoky, spicy. Another well-loved recipe from Martha Stewart, tweaked just a little bit. I have been making these pecans at Christmas time for years. They satisfy that sweet/salty thing, have just enough holiday spice, and then give you a nice warm "kick" at the end with a little bit of cayenne pepper. I love them.
SWEET SPICED PECANS
adapted from Martha Stewart Living
1 large egg white
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon allspice
2 1/2 cups pecan halves
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Beat the egg white until it is soft and foamy. Combine the sugar, salt, and spices and whisk them into the egg white. Gently stir the pecans into the egg white mixture, coating the nuts well. Spread the pecans in a single layer onto an ungreased baking sheet.
Bake the pecans for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, and using a metal spatula, toss, stir and separate the nuts. Reduce the oven temperature to 250 degrees and return the nuts to bake for 15 minutes more, until nuts are medium brown. Remove from oven; toss and stir again.
Place the baking pan on a wire rack to cool. Nuts will crisp as they cool. Break up any nuts that stick together. Store in an airtight container.
Yield: 2 1/2 cups
3. Outgoing packages. For John's work colleagues and family and friends. Sweet Spiced Pecans, home-roasted El Salvador coffee, Christmas ornaments, and more food stuffs all packaged up with lots of love and Merry Christmas wishes. I love to mail packages!
4. A few stolen moments. With Emma early one morning before the day got busy. A cuppa tea, a warm fireplace, pajamas and socks, talking, planning, and scheming. We have a Girls' Day Out scheduled.
The happiest people don't have the best of everything, they just make the best of everything.