I Don't Think You're Ready for this Jelly

OK, maybe you are! My family's Jalapeño Jelly recipe is outstanding and by far one of my favorite jellies to have on hand! 

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We used this jelly as favors at our wedding, gifting people with little jars to take home, but my mother has actually been making this stuff since my sister was a tot. Traditionally this is something we make around Christmas time and I started whipping it up to bring as gifts to family when we come to town. There's nothing like bringing a basket of noshes to share with everyone. I'll have to share our Christmas basket later this year, but let's stay focused on the jelly, shall we?

 Just FYI, I highly recommend using gloves or plastic bags to cover your hands while you chop peppers! 

Just FYI, I highly recommend using gloves or plastic bags to cover your hands while you chop peppers! 

Between all four of our jalapeño plants, we produced quite a crop this year. We couldn't make that much salsa so the next big idea was to start canning jalapeño jelly early! We got right down to it making four total batches and I still have jalapeños to spare! Good grief! 

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Check out the recipe here if you want to give it a try--just remember, you're working with hot peppers so don't rub your eyes! 

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Jalapeno Jelly

¾ cup ground green bell pepper (about 1 large)

¼ - ½ cup ground fresh jalapeno pepper (about 7-10 medium peppers)* SEE NOTE BELOW

1 cup cider vinegar

5 cups white sugar

1 (6 oz.) bottle liquid fruit pectin ( 2  3oz. pouches)

Green food coloring

Combine peppers, vinegar and sugar in a large saucepan and bring to a rolling boil. Boil for 4 minutes.  Remove from the heat and cool 1 minute.  Add pectin and a few (4-6) drops of green food coloring. Stir gently.  Pour into hot sterilized jars, wipe the inner edges clean, seal, and cool.  Makes five 6oz. jars or four 8oz. jars. 

* Handle the jalapenos carefully!! Use gloves or a plastic bag on each hand when cutting the peppers. Cut off the stems, slice the peppers in half lengthwise, and remove the seeds with the tip of a knife and discard them. The pepper oils will burn your skin, so be sure to discard the gloves carefully and wash your hands thoroughly after handling. Don’t rub your eyes! If you do get the oils on your skin, soothe the burning by soaking your hands in milk or washing your hands with shampoo to remove the oil.

 Deliciousness in a jar! 

Deliciousness in a jar! 

We love Jalapeno Jelly served over cream cheese on Triscuits.  It’s also good on roast beef or brisket sandwiched on a roll.

You can't go wrong with this stuff and you also don't have to wait until Christmas to make it! 

What's your favorite jam or jelly? Got a favorite recipe to make? Share it in the comments! 

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6 Years Strong

Dear Pyro Man, 

Happy anniversary, Handsome! I could write so many things about the last six years, how wonderful they've been, the challenges we've already hurdled, and all the dreams we have for tomorrow. Instead I'll keep it short and sweet, tell you how much I love you, how happy I am you're my partner in life, and how I can't wait to see what else is in store for us. 

Love you like crazy, Janson. 

 Apryl Ann Photography

Apryl Ann Photography

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What's In Blue Blazes: Shrimp Etouffee

My sister calls me up a couple weeks ago and says, "I've got it! I know a series you can start on your blog!" I'm thinking, okay, this could be interesting! Hit me!

She then tells me she's named her new Le Creuset Blue Blazes and she thinks it would be hilarious to post about all the dishes I make in my own blue Le Creuset calling it "What In Blue Blazes!" We laugh about it for a bit, but then she stops laughing and says, "No, I'm serious. It would be awesome."  A few days later she starts a shared photo album with the same title and uploads all her blue dishes so far. I mean, this lady really IS serious. 

So Big Sister, this is for you! The very first installment of...

What's In Blue Blazes! 

It's Mardi Gras tomorrow! Heeeyyy! Time to get our Cajun on and ladies and (maybe a few) gentlemen, I am proud to say I have real Cajun roots I'm tapping into for the day! My mom's side of the family is from South Louisiana and we can go generations back all the way to Acadia. I don't think we can get any more authentic than that, folks. 

So, in the spirit of this fat Tuesday celebration, I've got a simple shrimp etouffee to share! Mom passed this one to me, but the recipe was submitted to our '93 family reunion cookbook by her cousin, Lisa. Just to give you a little background, Lisa was a neat lady. She was a teacher--y'all, I come from a family of teachers so when I say it's in my blood, it really is. She taught English and art and of course, was an artist herself. She raised chickens and loved bird watching, but most of all she loved her family. 

Sadly Lisa passed away almost two years ago and while I did not get to know Lisa very well, I do remember her driving her parents, my great Aunt Lou and Uncle Jeff to my wedding. I remember seeing her cut up the floor and laugh and have a wonderful time with the family. Those memories mean so much. 

What's wonderful about food and recipes is that they can call to mind the people we knew, people we love, people we miss. So while I might not have many memories with Lisa, I have this recipe and it always calls her to mind. To me, it will always be Cousin Lisa's Shrimp Etouffee. Without further ado, here it is: 


Cousin Lisa's Shrimp Etouffee

  • 1 1/2 sticks of butter
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 can of Rotel 
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Parsley (1 cup)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 can of cream of mushroom soupt
  • Peeled, deveined shrimp

Sauté butter, onions, bell pepper, celery, Rotel and garlic. Let it all cook slowly for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Add lemon juice and parsley then stir and add the can of mushroom soup--mix all well! Add shrimp and cook until pink, just about 15 minutes. Or you can use cooked shrimp, just add and heat through at the end. 

Makes 6-8 servings. 


I serve it up over  rice and mais, yeah, you've got yourself a good meal! It's really easy, incredibly delicious and sure to be a hit with a crowd! 

Any Cajun food lovers out there?What are you favorite Mardi Gras meals?

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40 Days of Something Bigger

It's almost time for Lent! Two weeks away to be exact. I think most of us are pretty familiar with this season, but I wrote a little something about it here last year. Each year it's a time for me to reconnect spiritually and grow deeper in something bigger than me. We all find that in different ways and we honor that in different ways, too. 

I like that statement, "something bigger than me." A lot of times I think about how big this world actually is and I often ask how my little self on this planet really can effect everything else. How can one thing I do help or hinder this world? 

I know, a bit heavy for a Saturday morning, but it's something I find crosses my mind and can completely fascinate me and totally overwhelm me in a manner of seconds. As I start to entertain that thought I usually shut it down. It's too much. It's too big. I've got to focus on my little corner of the world. 

With Lent around the corner, it's a time I think I really should entertain those thoughts now. What if I made some changes sacrificing ease and comfort to make an impact somewhere else? 

40 days is all of I've got so trust me when I say I'm not planning on being Wonder Woman and saving the world in that time. What I am saying is I want to make a personal change that will impact something I know I want to help shift in this world. 

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Normally I find the lenten season to be very personal and I usually keep my focus to myself. This one, however, I think is important to share. It may be something you could try or at the very least make you think a little bit. 

Stop by the blog tomorrow and find out what exactly is I'm doing to get me started on this season! 

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Happy Birthday, Dad!

Happy birthday to raddest Dad around! 

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He's bad to the bone, y'all. Just look at that hair. Don't think you get any cooler than that! 

Happy birthday, Dad! I hope you have a good one! 

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Dear 2017 Me

Dear 2017 Me, 

I know you, you're going to be spending the next few days thinking of that's going to happen starting on January 1st. What goals can I make? What I do today determines the year--where should I start? How can I take on all that I want to in only 12 months? 

Well, stop for a second. You're going to fly into a tailspin if you're not careful. A new year is just that, a new year. Take a second to remember your goal for 2017: to be intentional! 

You really did that!

You wanted to be intentional with your time. You practiced that as often as possible, focusing on work at work so you could enjoy more home life. You tried really hard not scroll mindlessly--and even if you did, you were conscious to put the phone down. Heck, you challenged yourself to new projects in the summer like sewing! You even broke out the ol' library card again to get back into reading. You found new ways to organize yourself and your priorities to help guide you. It all made a difference. 

You wanted to be intentional with your relationships. Having your husband in the same house really helped with this! You guys traveled together, took walks together, ate together, made plans together and it was all wonderful. I'm serious--there's no way you messed this up because you had a constant reminder in front of you and a desire in your heart to be present with your man. I think you guys did an awesome job this first year with this big change. 

You also made an effort to see your friends and spend time with them. This can get hard when everyone is busy with work or family things, but you made honest efforts to spend time with people you care about more often than you think. 

You wanted to be more intentional with your word. Follow through with what you said, don't just pay lip service. I think there was only one real moment that you felt like your missed this one. And you know what, you got back up and worked really hard to make up for it AND make sure it didn't happen again. I think that's the true lesson, making an honest effort to be better. I also think finding a new to-do list system really helped! 

So 2017 me, as you're looking ahead at the 2018 you and all that you want to accomplish this year, know this: keeping your goals simple was the best thing you could have done. It wasn't overly complicated, it was straight forward and something you could follow in many aspects of your life. 

Don't get too caught up in changing up your whole world in one day. Keep the lessons you learned this year and keep working them. You are a work in progress and as cheesy as it is, this life is about the journey. Set your goals. Be intentional. If you trip, get back up again and keep trying. 

This is going to be a good year--every year on this earth is a good one so celebrate it fully! 

 

With love, 

2018 Me

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Christmas Scramble

Happy Friday, y'all!

Our Christmas show opened last night and it was just as festive and wonderful as it always is! So festive in fact I got a little inspired with my breakfast today. It's definitely Christmas themed. I'm not complaining though. 'Tis the season! 

I'm trying to get through all my grading a little at a time so next week isn't too crazy. I'm really looking forward to wrapping up this fall and getting a little break before spring starts. The break never seems long enough but thank goodness I get a break at all!  

Speaking of which, my break time is almost up--time to start grading again! 

Yeah, just ignore that burned toast. This is what happened when you don't thaw the frozen ezekiel bread first before popping it in the toaster. Live and learn, am I right? 

Christmas Scramble

  • 1 Tbs of olive oil 
  • 1 Tbs of diced onions
  • 2-4 Chopped asparagus (depending on your love for asparagus) 
  • 1 Tbs of chopped red bell pepper
  • 2-3 Sliced cherry tomatoes
  • 6-8 spinach leaves 
  • 1/4 tsp of minced garlic
  • 2 eggs
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Dash of red pepper flakes

Heat oil in small skillet on medium heat. Add onions, peppers, and asparagus to pan stirring occasionally. Add dash of salt and pepper. When veggies begin to soften, add spinach, tomatoes and garlic, stirring occasionally until spinach leaves are wilted. 

Take two eggs, gently beat in separate bowl and then add to mixture. Add your dash of red pepper if you like a little heat. Gently fold veggies into beaten eggs and watch until eggs are cooked to preference. 

Serve up your plate and add some toast, OJ, and maybe a little coffee, too! Enjoy! 

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Here's to a good start to our Friday! 

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Let the Shopping Begin!

As a kid I loved shopping for Christmas gifts. I couldn't wait until I was old enough to do the surprising, shopping, and wrapping myself! Because it's Christmas, you've got to make this a whole experience with specials scents, good drinks and snacks and of course, Christmas music. Usually I like to wait until I'm really in the season spirit do all things Christmas, shopping, wrapping, etc. 

Well, that ship has sailed. No more waiting for the mood because let me tell you, the mood comes and goes. This is a crazy busy time of year and it's impossible to put off and wait. Now I'm starting to see the light in shopping early and getting things prepped before Thanksgiving hits the table. 

This year I'm really focused on the kiddos for gifts--with Janson back in school we're being more strategic in our purchases. I'm on the hunt for things I know the nieces and nephews will love but will also bring a little more practicality to their little lives.  

For my sweet little niece, she's takin' a shine to dance (I can't say my little heart doesn't explode just knowing this) so I've picked out a beautiful new leotard, tights, and some beautiful ballet shoes for the spring. I wrapped up the shoes in a sparkly pink stocking with a ballerina doll that I gave to her at Thanksgiving. I wanted her to have new ballet shoes for her first Nutcracker performance! The rest will be waiting for her under the tree. 

Definitely something she'll appreciate and get some use out of this spring! 

For my youngest nephew, well, he's a busy little guy and into a lot already. I spied some cute wooden race cars at Target and I've been thinking it might be wonderful to get him something that moves with him. How about a train set with a track? 

It's small so it doesn't take up much space plus it's something his big sister to help him build and play with, too. Best part is, if he loves it we can add on more tracks or trains for his birthday in April! 

I have three more precious kiddos to think about and I know how much their parents want to share more experiences with them than toys. I love that they enjoy getting their kids involved in activities--it makes me think creatively as a gift giver but knowing these kids, they love to go out and do just about anything! They've been gifted with museum school and and zoo school before and loved it! For their spring birthdays, I'm thinking some help with pool passes would be awesome! 

For Christmas though, we're going with Fandango gift cards! Take the kids to a new hot movie that's out and make it a family outing for everyone! Add some treats, popcorn, a soda, and you've got yourself a right nice afternoon.

We're also thinking about some favorite children's books for family read alongs. I found an awesome book, American Tall Tales, filled with great stories for my rough and tumble nephews. I'm sure they'll love learning about Pecos Bill and Paul Bunyan!

I'm feeling pretty good about the kids gifts this year! Now it's time to start wrapping and baking up all the goodies that make it feel like the holidays. Cheers, y'all! 

What are some of your Christmas gift ideas this year? 

 

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Christmas Jams

I'm spending a lot of time at work grading, writing letters, reading papers, and jotting down ideas for the spring. All that time in my office, I need something to just keep me feeling light and joyful despite the ever growing list of to-do's. This particular time of year is usually made easier with the help of some good ol' classic Christmas music. 

I whipped a quick playlist of my favorite albums to listen to this time of year. I swear they help me work faster without getting irritated by the same old carols. Let's be honest, this is a season we don't need to feel irritated. I want to by joyous in celebrating this Christmas spirit! And if I have to spend three solids weeks bringing in a show, grading millions of papers, projects and wrapping up a semester, well, by golly, I'm going to do it to some incredibly soothing yet seasonal music! 

I have a few albums from my childhood I love to play in the background, just classical style Christmas tunes that help me focus and feel cheerful. When it comes to reading papers and editing work, I will get way too distracted with too many lyrics--I can't help but break out in song! At the same time you can't have Christmas music without a few sing alongs. Just had to make sure they were ones that didn't (a) pull me off task or (b) grate the nerves! I think these artists will do just fine though! 

Happy listening to all and to all a happy weekend! 

What are some of your favorite holidays albums? 

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Great & Full November

Each November that comes around, I see the Christmas decor go up, the Christmas carols start playing and feel the pressure of people's excitement as they start the countdown. I get it. It's hard to wait and put off the most wonderful time of the year, but November, it's one of my favorite months. 

 The leaves are officially everywhere and the boots are out of their boxes! It's fall for certain! 

The leaves are officially everywhere and the boots are out of their boxes! It's fall for certain! 

I love Thanksgiving. I'm a turkey day lady, for sure. It's the best holiday to me--a day celebrate food, family, friends, and all the blessings we have in this life. For the past few years I've kept track of my thankful thoughts on Facebook, sharing with friends my grateful feelings for the day. Lately though, I'm spending less and less time on social media. 

Don't get me wrong, I have my moments of flicking open the app and scrolling for a brain break, but I find myself sliding out it quickly, faster than in past months. Maybe my brain is somewhere else, maybe I'm finding more to do and focus on outside social media. Heck, even my Instagram account is seriously boring these last few months. I just haven't had the drive to document and post what's going on these days.  

In any case, I thought this year was a good time to make my thankful thoughts more personal. So I took out my personal journal, unearthed one of my favorite pens and began writing down what I'm grateful for each day. One thing. That's it. And it didn't have to be earth shatteringly amazing. It's just something that made me stop and say, "Good grief, thank you for this." 

Every day there should be a moment to say "thanks" or to feel grateful for something. It's an opportunity, a friendship, a missed ticket or wreck. The job you always wanted, the contract that finally came through, a relationship beginning or new dreams coming true.  It's a pick up on the other end of the line, a good meal or a good laugh and maybe something about fitting into jeans or getting that last hug in before they left. It's big. It's small. It's whatever, but it's whatever means something to you. 

Maybe you're on Facebook tonight or Instagram and scrolling through at the end of your day. What better of a time than now to put the phone down and say "so glad I have  _______ in my life" That's it. Five seconds, no more. 

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I tried to find a grateful thought every day this last month because to tell you the truth, I really do forget how lucky I am in this life. It's easy to drift off into your own island and wish for something else not realizing someone's out there wishing for what you have.  As we're closing out November, coming up on the big turkey day feast, try taking a minute to say find what you're thankful for this season. 

"Sometimes in my little mess, I forget how big I'm blessed." 

What are you grateful for these days? 

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