Friday, October 21, 2016

Almond Butter Pretzel Spiders


It has been a weird month….definitely vexing and just WTF at times. Maybe it’s the ramping up of the election, maybe it’s the fluctuating seasons, maybe it had something to do with the big, fat full moon we had this month, whatever it is, I’m ready for October to be the awesome month it usually is.

I won’t get into any rants about all the aggravations I’ve been dealing with this month, all I’ll say is that it was high time my luck started running low, but I’m trying to remain in a positive and grateful state of mind…after all, IT’S ALMOST HALLOWEEN!!!

We got a couple of pumpkins, and decorated the house this week. Lily had a lot of fun doing that. Tomorrow she goes on a hayride with her new Girl Scouts Daisy troop! She’s SO excited! Then there is a fall festival at a local church on Sunday, so perhaps things will start looking up…

The cutest little witch

During the fall season, as soon as the air gets even the slightest chill, it’s like something inside of me awakens from its deep summer hibernation, and has the impossible-to-ignore desire to bake and create. This month I’ve already made 2 Healthy Apple Crumbles, 2 casseroles, 2 rounds of No-BakeChocolate Peanut Butter M&M Ballsyummy banana oat blender muffins, and the ADORABLE Almond Butter Pretzel Spiders below!

They remind me of...

...these little guys from Spirited Away, no?

I got the idea after making the No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter M&M Balls and realizing that the possibilities for variations were endless, and due to my desire to make something cute for Halloween with Lily.

So here’s what we did:

Almond Butter Pretzel Spiders
(makes between 24-30 spiders)


2 cups almond butter (or other nut butter)
½ cup melted butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1 tbsp coconut oil
Around ½ cups M&Ms minis
About 2 cups broken thin pretzel twists (directions for breaking below)

Will also need:

A few small bowls for separating ingredients
Toothpicks for picking up the balls, or a small fork
Parchment paper to lay balls on
Baking sheets

Mix the almond butter or other nut butter, melted butter, and powdered sugar until blended and malleable; add more powdered sugar if mixture is too sticky, a little at a time, until consistency is similar to that of cookie dough. Roll about a spoonful of mixture into little balls, and place on parchment-lined baking sheet(s), then place baking sheet(s) into freezer. Freeze for about 30 minutes, or until hard.

Melt the chocolate chips and coconut oil in microwave for about 45 seconds or until melted, or in a double-boiler until melted. Take the pretzels, and break into pieces so you have many small, curved sticks that you can use for spider legs. Set melted chocolate, M&Ms, and pretzel legs out in bowls. Remove almond butter balls from freezer, and stick each one with toothpick to dip into chocolate until completely covered. Set each back onto baking sheet then stick 8 little pretzel legs on either side, and 2 or however many M&Ms you want on the top. Use the tip of toothpick dipped in chocolate to add pupils to M&M eyes if so desired.

Lily's creatures

Getting melty real fast in this warm weather!

Once entire tray is complete, stick it back into the fridge until chocolate and pretzels are set, then you can put them all in a container in the fridge. Now, I had an issue with the almond butter balls getting soft as I went because it’s been so warm this week, so if that happens to you, just put them back in freezer as you go until they firm up again. It will be a process, but I promise- as evidenced in images! –it will be worth it!

SOB trying to sneak away...

Lily had a lot of fun putting them together with me, although hers looked a tad bit more like mutant octopuses. They all still tasted delish!

We'll just keep monkeying around ova here...

Friday, October 7, 2016

Rainy Friday

It’s a rainy day. Hurricane Matthew is upon us, already wreaking havoc in Haiti, the DR, Jamaica and the Bahamas, and I am keeping my friends in Florida in my thoughts and prayers. We’re expecting/hoping for nothing more than rain and wind tomorrow here, but we shall see.

I went for a jog this morning anyway, despite the wet roads. Saw this white below beauty munching on some grass. Having animals so common a part of my daily routine makes my life so incredibly better, it’s indescribable. Between my dog, my cat (I mean, my Grandma’s cat), my chickens, and all the farm critters and wildlife down here, I’m in Heaven…

However, making friends has been a slow process, and I am missing my social life. Tomorrow is also the semi-annual potluck at Lily’s Kung Fu school, so I really hope the weather doesn’t do anything to change that, as we have been looking forward to it. I have been getting to know one of the moms whose son is also a student there and in Lily’s rank, so I’d like to continue to nurture that budding friendship, and I also really dig the vibe of all the instructors there overall. Everyone is so chill and friendly and open-minded, it’s very refreshing.

Doing some type of ninja-style running at Blue Ridge Kung Fu Arnis

We do have fantastic neighbors, most of whom I’ve known since I was kid; living right next door or across the street from them has been an easy transition and blessing. Not to say I didn’t have awesome neighbors back in NJ (I’m looking at YOU Sidney, Dima, Sandy, Dave, Peter, Barbara, Lorraine, Vasliv!), but it’s different when you get to have neighbors that are like family. The only thing is, they’re all…a tad older than me, so as cool as they all are in their own rights, it’s just not quite the same as having some peer-aged friends to chat with over coffee/tea/wine/vodka/whatever. (*Side note: Gawd, I miss getting drinks with certain ladies in my life…).

BUT, I am closer to family I rarely got to see before moving south! My aunt and cousin came for a visit this past Sunday, and it was such a lovely day! We caught up, had snacks, played Yahtzee- wait, excuse me, Toy Story 3 Yahtzee –with Lily, played with the chickens, and even made dinner together. Weather was absolutely perfect. Just a perfect Sunday.

So, there’s that. But, these relatives, who live the closest to me, are still a good 2 hours-drive away from me.

The Guineas guineaing

I keep myself plenty busy, though, TRUST ME. Getting the house organized/redecorated/cleaned up is a constant work-in-progress. My Grandma has so much stuff, as do we, so it’s a lot of shuffling, re-shuffling, and packing and unpacking. It’s coming along nicely though, and I am confident it will all be in tip-tip shape by the time our brood of guests arrive for Thanksgiving (which I am mostly looking forward to, but also very much nervous about having so many people of varying backgrounds under one roof for…future blog post ahoy!). I am also keeping busy with all the more technical transitioning, like updating health insurance info to reflect new location, researching new cell carriers as T-mobile don’t work too well out here, finding the best home insurance package, studying for my NC Broker license exam, helping Paul find work…and that’s just a bite of the many tasks keeping us busy.

Then there’s my little blog here, and trying to stay in the writing-swing as much as I can, while I still can. I’d really like to have something published in this lifetime. I attended The Festival of Books & Authors a few weeks ago and it was awesome! Really helped to inspire and motivate me…a portion of one of my short stories was even read aloud to a panel of editors and agents, along with a small crowd of people attending the workshop along with me. And they didn’t hate it! I actually received mostly positive constructive criticism, and it was one of the few pieces of prose they read that they didn’t start attacking after the first two sentences. Yay, me!

Again, I am keeping busy, so a social life might be challenging, anyway…but, I’d be willing to work on making the time. I’ll let it evolve, as I like to say…

I am happy to be able to make each day what I want of it, and have my stress levels currently so greatly reduced. If only I never had to work again…that is just one reason on my list of reasons to write. That is something I could spend the rest of my life doing: writing, taking care of a homestead, and enjoying time spent with loved ones. That’s all I really want.

The lovely Lovely, basking in all her glory

The only stress I have is worrying about my Grandma, who is currently undergoing physical therapy at a rehab clinic in WASHINGTON. She was visiting her sister in Vancouver and started getting such bad cases of dizziness, she fainted and hurt her back. Not only is she far away and hospitalized, but a lot is uncertain now, and things may get less peaceful when she returns, but I will be happy to have her home. Let’s just hope things continue to go well, for all of us and everyone, especially those riding out the hurricane right now…