Flannel pjs, sunrises worth seeing, and Dumas over dinner .. a few things that have been happening in our world lately
Happy New Year!
I hope this finds you well and being kind to yourself. That you're not feeling too overwhelmed with re-entry into life after the holiday break. Permitting yourself to take it all a few beats on the slower side.
I've been thinking a lot about starting January off on a positive note. Like so many of you, I've given up the juggle, dropped a few balls, chosen to hold the ones I want to keep. As a friend keeps reminding me: look for the light ..
the more we do it, the more we see it.⠀
What are some of your bright spots from last year?
For me .. I kept the pets, plants, and several new friendships alive and thriving. I had one of my best years at work. I read a lot. Grew a book club. Survived COVID. Slept more than I'd have ever thought possible. Took a class about Russia, which turned out to be surprisingly fun. Went to a drive-in movie. I cooked some, but not as much as I wanted. Tried to be a good human. (Most days) wore something other than my pajamas and brushed my hair.
And through it all, every night before I closed my eyes, I said the same little prayer, “By the grace of God, go I ..”
Sending lots of love and big hugs your way .. xx
A few things that have been happening in our world lately
Positive – Toward the end of October, I thought, “Huh, I think I'm getting a sore throat.” A couple of days later, I woke up with a fever, and my husband carted me off to Urgent Care. Even though the positivity rates in Iowa were high, never in a million years did I think I'd have COVID. But sure enough ..
Luckily – Within a few days, I was feeling so much better. I noticed a shortness of breath a couple of weeks later when I started walking again. For this life-long exerciser being able to go less than a mile at a time was really hard. The good news is, after a couple of months, I'm finally back to my long walks through the skywalk.
Surprisingly – The worst part has been the fatigue. I can't think of a time I've been so worn out, and for so long. I've gone from sleeping 6-7 hours a night to 10-14. I used to be able to push through, and now, I simply can't. So, for now, I'm embracing going to bed at toddler hours and trying to make peace with doing a lot less.
Grateful – My husband didn't catch it from me, although isolating at home was the strangest thing. By day, I worked from bed and resisted the urge to change the laundry or clean the kitchen. By night, I watched The Crown and tried to talk loud enough for him to hear me. “Will you please warm up some rice pudding to put outside the door?”
Donating – I've since become a convalescent plasma donor. My sincerest hope is that I can help someone else who might be struggling
Can't Stop Thinking About – In 2020, I read so many great books, but the one I can't stop thinking about is Nomadland by Jessica Bruder. After the first hundred pages, I bumped up my retirement savings. Two-thirds of the way through, I canceled my Amazon Prime subscription. Her reporting fundamentally changed how I see the world.
Related – Quitting Amazon is really hard(!) [New York Times]
Excited For – We're thinking about buying a house when our lease is up. The past fifteen years of home-ownership haven't been the best experience for me, and when we moved downtown, I'd sworn it off for good. But after a nice long break, I'm looking forward to trying it again.
Shortlisted – This Fall Panzanella is one I'm excited to try
Related – Emily Nunn's Department of Salad Newsletter is so much fun(!)
While everything about last year felt topsy-turvey, the one thing I can tell you was a constant: I've been making these cookies.
Conceptually, they're a lot like compost cookies. In other words, throw everything sweet and salty in a bowl and hope for the best.
Over the past couple of months, I think I've used every combination of nuts and dried fruit in our pantry, and they always turn out fantastic. I've even taken to browsing the trail mix combinations at Target or Whole Foods for flavor combinations and inspiration. So many great ideas.
I find myself gravitating a lot toward crunchy peanuts, cashews, almonds, white chocolate chunks, tart cranberries, and sweet raisins. Another combo my husband loves is almonds, cashews, cherries, and mini peanut butter cups.
A couple of other notes
You can swap the butter for coconut oil here.
More often than not, I use Sugar in the Raw, but brown sugar or coconut sugar is a 1-1 swap.
Gluten-free flour works really well.
It will seem like you don't have enough batter, but I promise, it will work.
~ Adapted from Bon Appetit
Trail Mix Cookies
- 1 ½ cups assorted raw nuts and seeds
- ½ cup old-fashioned oats
- 1 egg (large or XL)
- 4 Tbsp butter (or coconut oil that's melted, but not hot)
- ⅓ cup natural sugar (Sugar in the Raw or Turbinado)
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp fine grain sea salt
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ¾ cup assorted dried fruit (cut into ½" pieces if large)
- ¾ cup chopped bittersweet chocolate bars (or chips or disks)
- ½ cup all-purpose flour (or your favorite all-purpose gluten-free flour)
- Preheat oven to 350° F.
- Toast nuts and seeds and oats on a rimmed baking sheet until golden brown (~10–12 minutes). Let cool.
- Meanwhile, mix egg, butter, sugar, vanilla, salt, and baking soda. Let sit while the nuts are cooling (this will make for a chewier cookie).
- Give the batter a good stir, add the flour and combine. Add the dried fruit, chocolate, nuts, and oats and combine until the mix-ins are evenly coated. (It will look like too many mix-ins, but the dough will come together as it chills.)
- Cover and chill at least 2 hours and up to 3 days
- When ready to bake, heat the oven to 350° F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Using a ⅓-cup measure or #16 cookie scoop, portion out the dough, packing firmly, to make 12 cookies. Using a measuring cup or your hand, press cookies into 2 ½"-diameter disks about ¾" thick; sprinkle with sea salt.
- Bake (~11–13 minutes), or until golden brown and no longer wet-looking. Let cool on the baking sheets.