This afternoon I was craving something hot and sweet that had autumn written all over it. I checked my refrigerator, pantry, and cupboards and managed to concoct a fabulous apple cider recipe, I think I’ll be serving to my guests this Thanksgiving.

hispanic apple cider

I’d made some homemade dulce de leche for my boys the night before (for ice cream sundaes) so I knew it would go perfect in a hot apple cider too.

If you’ve never had dulce de leche it’s a most divine thing (basically caramelized milk.) There are a lot of recipes out there, but I prepare mine by pouring one can of sweetened condensed milk into the top of double-boiler pan, I don’t actually own a double-boiler pan so I make “un baño María” by placing a heat proof deep bowl into a larger pot, add hot water and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, for about an hour to an hour and a half, or until the milk becomes thick and caramel-colored. Remove from heat and stir briskly until smooth.

You will find recipes that tell you to boil the can in the water, you can do this if you want, I certainly know plenty of Abuelas who have and do. I really can’t imagine how boiling an aluminum can, could be beneficial to your health, especially if it’s not absolutely necessary.

Now on to the cider!

Ingredients:

  • Apple Cider (I used the bottled store bought kind)
  • Dulce de Leche (or caramel sauce would work too)
  • Mulling spices: I used what I had on hand:
  • Ground ginger
  • Cinnamon
  • All Spice
  • Whole Nutmeg
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Dark Rum (optional)

In a pot simmer the apple cider, dulce de leche, and spices until the cider is imbued with the spices. Add rum if you so desire. Strain the cider as you pour into mugs.

You can rim your mugs with a bit of the dulce de leche as I’ve done.

Enjoy!

 

So this happened today…

A couple of friends and I went and got tattoos together. It was a ton of fun! I got two new tattoos, I guess could be classified as “literary tattoos” (I obviously can’t get enough of this particular theme when it comes to my body-art.) They satisfy the book-nerd in me!

awake my soul tattoo, lyrical tattoo, mumford and sons, quote tattoo, forearm tattoo, words tattoo

On my forearm I had “awake my soul” tattooed in Jane Austen’s script. Why a Mumford & Son’s song quote, written in a long dead author’s “script”?

When I was ten years old I discovered Jane Austen, and the writer in me. It happened at what is still one of my favorite places in the world, a library. Our local library was a beautiful building, the facade was covered in coral rock, the interior, dark mahogany wood, and it smelled like heaven. I happened upon a junior version of Pride and Prejudice serendipitously in the children’s library. I loved it, and soon discovered it wasn’t the original. I bravely made my way into the grown up library, a magical place with its shelves that reached the stars and quickly found my way to Austen’s classic. I didn’t realize it was a classic, as I stood on tiptoes to see the top of the check out counter. The librarian raised an eyebrow at me, and asked if I’d like to read the “junior version instead, you know, the one with pictures?” I replied in turn, I’d “already read that version- three times”, and wished to read the original. She smiled at me and stamped the card at the back of the book. I remember feeling like I held a treasure in my hands as I walked away.

awake my soul tattoo, lyrical tattoo, mumford and sons, quote tattoo, forearm tattoo, words tattoo

The discovery of Jane Austen’s book, essentially awoke my soul to writing. I also can’t help but adore the meaning behind the lovely song.

quotes tattoo, litterary tattoo, thumb tattoo, hand tattoo, small tattoo, book nerd tattoo, feminine tattoo

Just below my thumb I had two teeny-tiny quotation marks placed. It’s to act as a bit of a reminder to me, to not forget about my “passions”. I especially love this quote by Truman Capote, “To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it’s about, but the inner music the words make.” It essentially describes exactly how I feel about the tattoos I got today.

Smell the roses,
I posted this to my Instagram account earlier.
I believe in love. I believe in my family. I believe in angels and Heaven. I believe in karma. I believe beauty can be found in anything and anyone. I believe everyone should step out of their comfort zone, travel is a great way to do this. I believe in dreaming. I believe in tattoos and self expression. I believe in never underestimating the power of a good book. I believe words are magical. I believe art, literature, and music can transform us. I believe in the simple moments like having a cup of coffee with a friend. I believe every day offers us an opportunity to do great things. I believe great things need not be large or loud, or seen and known by millions. I believe technology unites us and separates us. I believe in comfy sweaters. I believe in smelling the roses. I believe in coffee, tea, and wine. I believe in chocolate. I believe in exercise to strengthen our bodies, not to make us fit into a skinnier pair of jeans. I believe everything worth doing takes work. I believe in hope and in having faith.

I believe I could go on forever.

What do you believe in?

Today’s DIY Upcycle post is brought to you by my long hair and lack of hair ties.
Way back in high school I worked at a shoe store where I had to dress up. In the mid 1990’s that equated to having to wear pantyhose.
Panty hose and going up and down ladders to retrieve shoe boxes always didn’t work out to the benefit of my stockings. As a result I went through quite a few pair.
I can’t take credit for this ingenious and rather industrial idea, as it actually came from my mother who had used her own pantyhose to create hair ties. She offered up this wisdom to me one day when I found myself in without a scrunchie.

Way before blogging, when scrunchies were the go-to hair accessory I was using pantyhose to tie back my long locks.

Panty hose actually make for a really good hair tie because it won’t pull or damage your hair.

All you need are a pair of scissors and pantyhose.

How to make a hair scrunchie, How to make a hair tie, DIY hair tie

How to make a hair scrunchie, How to make a hair tie, DIY hair tie

Step 1. Cut off the toe portion of your stocking.

How to make a hair scrunchie, How to make a hair tie, DIY hair tie

Step 2. With a sharp pair of scissors (preferably one used only for fabric) cut the stockings, move up in thick bands. I prefer 2-3 inches.

How to make a hair scrunchie, How to make a hair tie, DIY hair tie

Step 3. Gather the edges of the cut pantyhose to make rings.

How to make a hair scrunchie, How to make a hair tie, DIY hair tie

That’s it! Now tie back your hair!

This last week has found me pursuing many of my creative passions.

I conquered the cement walls of my home and spruced up my office.

I built a bookcase. Yes it was the new Kallax from Ikea. I must admit it was surprisingly easy to do. The Ikea replacement for the Expedit Shelves, made the perfect cubby for my boys back packs.

I made a burlap wreath (post on that coming soon).

However my last post. The one where I shared the story of how I told my son the truth about Santa, has not only renewed my passion for blogging; but my passion for having a passion.

Does that make any sense?

I knew I missed updating my blog daily, and now have a ton of new posts planned, but what I hadn’t realized is that I missed being super passionate about something.

Over the last several months I’ve become very involved in my Air Force community. And very uninvolved in my creative passions.

Consequently I’m now trying to fit it all into my schedule. I realize I need to balance my altruism and personal passions, along with my everyday responsibilities, and as a very wise woman told me today, “learn to say no”.

The thing is, it wasn’t just one person, it was two. Two people whom I respect, reached out and in different ways, basically said the same thing. The very thing my husband has said a thousand times, and that was, simply in trying to be everywhere and do everything in the places where I feel my talents could be used best, I wasn’t using my talents for me.

When the universe speaks to me. I try my best to listen.

Especially when it’s something I’ve been struggling with, and realize I’ve been struggling with.

Saying “no” when I know there is a need is so hard for me to do.

I have to learn to step back.

I’ve got to figure out a way to have it all in balance, and the best way for me to do that is to not say yes all the time. I will, going forward make a concerted effort to not try to be everywhere and do everything.

It kind of sucks, but I think my passions will be happier for it.

 

xo

 

It happened.

My son asked.

“Is Santa real?”Telling kids the truth about Santa

At ten years old, I had to look into his sweet big brown eyes and tell him the truth.

Except I got all teary eyed, and the words I’d planned to say when this moment finally came floated from my mind on gossamer wings.  Then his brother needed a moment, he somehow managed to get himself tangled up in his soccer socks… I told my son as he sat, expectant, we had to “pause our conversation.” I rushed upstairs to untangle his brother and my mind. Once he and his socks were sorted-could they possibly be any longer? My mind was still a muddled emotional mess, so I did the only thing I can do in these situations… I wrote.

 

Dear Michael,

When we spoke earlier, you wondered why I started to cry, and it’s because I knew this day would come one day… I knew there would come a time when you’d ask about Santa, and I knew I would have to be absolutely honest with you.

I was pretty sure it would happen last Christmas, and somehow it didn’t. When you asked today, it took me off guard because Christmas is still a few months off and I thought I’d have some time to prepare the perfect answer. You see, that’s the thing with being a parent, your kids often surprise you, and sometimes we need a few moments to gather our wits in order to really explain things. I know we talked, but then Evan interrupted us, and I feel I didn’t really get to explain it to you, and since I can always express my thoughts better when I write them down, I thought I should write you and explain…

 

Deep breath.

 

Here is the absolute whole truth about Santa Claus…

 

No, Santa isn’t real, like you and me are real, but that’s because Santa doesn’t need to be real because Santa is the symbol for something great. Santa is all that Christmas is made up of, Santa is the spirit of Christmas.

 

Over all the Christmases you’ve had, there have been many Santas in your life. Your father and I have lovingly picked out your presents, wrapped them on Christmas Eve, and filled your stockings. We’ve rang bells outside your window and made loud sounding footsteps outside your door. We’ve munched on cookies, and carrots leaving bits and crumbs on Santa’s plate; so that come Christmas morning, when you’d wake, we’d get to see the wonder and excitement in your eyes and our hearts would burst with joy.

We weren’t the only keepers of Christmas magic in your life; we had elves helping us too. Your aunts and uncles, grandparents, and other people who love you have all helped create Christmas magic for you. We wanted you to understand the real gift of Christmas. The magic that is Christmas, which is love, and giving from the heart. Simple moments like decorating our Christmas tree or writing Christmas letters to Santa.

 

Michael, Santa doesn’t need to be real. He doesn’t need to be something tangible you can see.  I know you’re inquisitive mind has probably wondered about some of the logistics with Santa, but your imaginative side, the side that can create these awesome stories will see the importance of this secret. More importantly, I know in your heart you’ll get this. It may be hard to accept, I know it was for me when I learned the truth, but don’t let go of your belief in Santa. Keep him alive in your heart.

 

We, your father and I, and everyone who has ever given you a gift with “From Santa” written on it believes in Santa. We believe in the love and magic Santa is made up of and we want you to continue to believe. We want you to keep Christmas in your heart too. We gave you the gift of Santa, because we knew one day you’d also get the important job of keeping the spirit of Christmas and Santa alive in the hearts of younger kids (and even some bah-hum-bug grown ups) by helping create the magic of Christmas too.

 

Now that you know the truth, it is your job to help us keep that magic alive for your little brother and every other kid out there who isn’t yet old enough to handle this important responsibility. One day, you’ll be doing it for your own kids, and have Elves too, like we did to help keep Christmas magic alive.

 

You are now a keeper of Christmas magic.

 

Though this Christmas will be a little bit different for you, because you’ll be an elf too, helping keep the magic of Christmas alive for your little brother, you’ll see it won’t be any less magical, so please don’t stop believing in the magic of Christmas my darling sweet boy. Keep it alive in your heart, hold the true spirit and meaning of Christmas which above all else is love and giving alive in your heart for all the Christmases to come, and Santa will forever be real.

 

All my love,

Mommy

 

P.S. You’re probably wondering about Peppermint our Elf too…It’s been tough coming up with all those mischievous things for him to get into, this Christmas I’m putting you in charge of making Elf mischief!

 

Telling kids the truth about Santa (Vintage Santa photo)

He was totally cool. He did get teary eyed, he said it was because, I’d never spoken to him that way… As though he “were grown up”.  We spoke of Jesus and how God gave us the gift of his son on Christmas. We spoke of St. Nicholas, and how the spirit of Santa was born. He’s an amazing kid, and though I am a bit sad to see this part of his childhood come to an end, I know there will be more childhood lasts, and many new firsts. What an honor it will be it share them with him.

I’m off to cry a little.

xo