Granola | Going Tropical

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Below-freezing temperatures have become the norm around here and I relish any opportunity to stay warm: long hot showers, snuggling in blankets, slow-cooked meals and of course baking. On a recent day-off I baked a cake and also tried a new granola recipe.

In typical year-end fashion, I felt the need to purge my pantry of items that have been lingering around too long. We keep a tropical dried fruit mixture from Trader Joe’s to eat with nuts for a quick snack, but I misjudged and bought another package when we had two others (Making a grocery list would have solved that problem!). My mom sometimes adds pineapple to her granola so I thought, “why not go tropical for my next batch?” After searching around a little bit, this is what I ended up making.

Tropical Granola (Modified from teacheatlove)

Ingredients
1/4 c cup maple syrup (or any other sweetener)
1/2 cup unrefined coconut oil
2 tsp. vanilla
pinch of flaked kosher or sea salt
3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup crushed nuts (I used almonds, original recipe called for macadamia nuts which probably would be divine)
1 – 1/4 cup dried fruit mixture (pineapple, papaya, mango, and coconut comes in my prepackaged mixture)

Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees.

Combine oats, chopped nuts and toss with a pinch of kosher salt. Chop dried fruit mixture to preferred side, set aside. Melt coconut oil and slowly pour, along with the vanilla, over the dry ingredients. Mix well. Spread evenly onto a cookie sheet, lined with parchment paper. Bake for 25-30 minutes, adding dried fruit and mixing about halfway through.

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At the end I added a bit more dried pineapple for kicks. And as a suggestion, eat this with vanilla yogurt!

Enjoy!

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/ / Basic granola here

 

Favorite of 2013: Movies

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I hope you all enjoyed my favorite 13 Albums of 2013, it was a fun list to put together and allowed me to reflect on the year!

Compiling my favorite 2013 movies was more challenging: I don’t have the time or money to see every movie in theaters, plus many never make it to theaters near me or they get released on DVD after the year is over. It’s also tricky when certain 2013 movies that might have been contenders won’t receive their wide theatrical release until January 2014 (example: Inside Llewyn Davis). I decided to include any film I saw in 2013: some in theaters, but most Jordan and I rented or borrowed from the library. The movies are listed in alphabetical order.

Let’s jump right in, shall we?

American Hustle | David O’Russell, 2013
Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale), a part-time business owner, full-time con-artist, falls in love with the damaged yet strong stunner, Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams). They quickly become lovers as well as business partners. To help entice customers, Sydney takes on the persona of Lady Edith Greensley, a women with British bank connections. They do quite well for themselves, but eventually an undercover FBI agent, Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) catches them in the act. Richie is trying to prove that he can take down the big guys, and by big guys he means politicians. Instead of keeping the two con-artists in prison, he envelopes them in a scheme to take down several politicians in New Jersey.

While the premise of this movie mirrors a crime drama, David O’Russell is more interested in the quad-love-angle between Irving, Sydney, Richie, and Irving’s wife, Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence). Many twists and shenanigans ensue and I couldn’t stop laughing. I had a lot of fun with this movie. The costumes were also incredible; celebrating the disco era in all its gold lamé glory.

Before Midnight | Richard Linklater, 2013
“You remember that guy who loved you and you had that great romance with? It’s me.”

We first met Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Céline (Julie Delpy) almost 20 years ago after they meet on a train and spend one evening together in Vienna. They promised to reconnect in six months, but circumstances prohibit that agreed upon meeting and sadly numbers weren’t exchanged (in 1994, who had a cellphone?). Before Sunset takes place nearly ten years later, Jesse has written a novel inspired by their shared night and is on a book tour in Paris where Celine is living. She attends the signing and they decide to spend the few hours before Jesse’s flight catching up. The connection they had resurfaces, but life is more complicated now.

That is roughly the plot of the first two films in the Before TrilogyMy older brother, Jon, introduced me to these main characters in high school (and my love affair with french women). I’m not going to give the plot away because if you haven’t seen the first two films, it will be more enjoyable to watch free of knowledge. This third installment beautifully captures the reality of long-term relationships; the lovely, the complicated, but oh-so-worth-it moments. 

Blue Jasmine | Woody Allen, 2013
Jordan and I are huge Woody Allen fans. I love the fluid walk-and-talk scenes and shark, neurotic wit that is evident in all of his movies. We follow Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) who is forced to move in with her sister after a string of unfortunate events leaves her widowed and penniless. Jasmine lived a life that was measured by her wealth and status; she mocked her sister for living a more “blue-collar” life, but the people she socialized with scatter once Jasmine’s life turns up-side down. Through all of this, Jasmine slowly breaks down… the result is mesmerizing and sometimes hilarious.

The Deep Blue Sea | Terence Davies, 2011
This British movie, starring Rachel Weisz and Tom Hiddleston, circulated the festival scene in 2011, was released in the states in 2012, and finally in 2013 was available to rent! I had it bookmarked for almost a year.  I have an affinity towards european dramas with their dreamy and controlled stories. Amidst the 18th and 19th century love stories, Wuthering Heights, Sense and Sensibility, Anna Karenina, etc., you will often find me. The Deep Blue Sea is an adaptation of the Terence Rattigan play. Hester (Weisz) is married to a much older man and while it is a loving marriage, it is somewhat passionless. She meets and begins an affair with Freddie (Hiddleston) and while it is full of passion, the choice between the two men begins a complicated journey. While researching this movie, I found out that this title was a reference the phrase, “between the devil and the deep blue sea”; sometimes neither choice leads us to a good place.

Dial M for Murder |  Alfred Hitchcock, 1954
This year I attempted to catch up on few classic movies that I hadn’t seen yet. But I didn’t get to as many as I would have liked. Rear Window is one of our favorite movies, so we figured we should watch the other two Alfred Hitchcock/Grace Kelly collaborations. While watching older suspense/mystery movies, it’s fun to think how the stories would be different if set in modern times with cellphones and CCTV: Would Dial M for Murder have been plausible?

Tony Wendice (Ray Milland), a retired tennis player, is married to Margot (Kelly) who is having an affair. Tony is fed up and begins to plot a plan that involves hiring a hit man, blackmail, and an infamous latch-key that is almost a character. The one-room setting adds to the claustrophobic tension that keeps you riveted for the entire movie!

First Comes Love | Nina Davenport, 2013
I struggled to decide which documentary to include in this list because I watched quite a few really great ones (FYI: Netflix’s and On Demand are great resources for documentaries). Ultimately, I chose Nina Davenport’s personal account of her decision to get pregnant through a sperm donor (who she knew) and subsequently become a single parent. This film, while not a sequel to her earlier work, Always a Bridesmaid (can you guess what this one is about?), could function as a companion piece.

Nina’s journey is fascinating on its own, but what really sold me was her relationship to her parents. Nina comes from a somewhat affluent family in Michigan. Her father would have liked her to become a lawyer or at least marry one, but instead she became a wedding videographer/documentarian. She weaves in beautiful personal video footage that her father took of her mother (who passed away between the two documentaries) on their honeymoon and of the children’s birthdays and early life. Despite all of that, he still can’t grapple with her decision to document life as a career path. This film had me cringing, laughing, and crying along with Nina and her family.

Her | Spike Jonze, 2013
As Dana Stevens explained, Her is a contemporary sci-fi film that asks the question, “How are human beings changing as a result of, and in concert with, technology?” This is a beautiful, challenging, and utterly moving film. It takes place in the not-so-distant-future, with a hybrid mix of 1940s/contemporary fashion, sleek, minimal, and colorful sets; we can see a slightly familiar setting, but the surroundings are also different.

We begin the movie meeting Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix), who recently separated from his wife. He purchases a new operating system that recently launched where a personal interface, with a soothing voice, interacts with its customer to keep them organized. What happens when that voice seems to know you better than your neighbor, friend, spouse? What if you got along with it better than the humans around you? What is real love?

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire | Francis Lawrence, 2013
I read all three of Suzanne Collins’ novels before seeing The Hunger Games. For this film, I went into the theater already a fan. The protagonist, Katniss, is a female character I find interesting to watch(read); strong, fiercely loyal to her family and friends, but still vulnerable. Catching Fire built upon the world we were introduced to in the first film and also nicely incorporated new characters and obstacles. We find Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) dealing with PTSD after returning from the Games. After some unfortunate events transpire, they must return as tributes to the Hunger Games and begin to learn the true meaning of love and trust.

Mud | Jeff Nichols, 2013
Mud begins as two young teenaged boys, Neckbone and Ellis, travel along the Mississippi river to find an abandoned boat that they want to make their own. During their trip, they realize a mysterious (and dangerous?) man is actually living in their boat. The boys are intrigued by this man  (played by Matthew McConaughey) and his plight to reunite with his lost love, Juniper (Reese Witherspoon). Meanwhile, the young boy, Ellis, is grappling with his own feelings towards a girl in town and the fact that his parents marriage is on the rocks, which might force him to move from their houseboat into town. Mud beautifully captures this small town in Arkansas, adolescence, friendship, and most importantly the role that true-love plays in our lives.

Pitch Perfect | Jason Moore, 2012
Comedies, in my opinion, are more difficult to get right. Usually they start out promising, but about 2/3 of the way jokes start to become more important than the plot. Pitch Perfect is a musical comedy about the world of a cappella collegiate singing. This movie isn’t without its formulaic qualities, but because the performances are believable, I loved being taken along for the ride. We learn that with a little teamwork, vulnerability, and a lot of harmony anything can be accomplished.

Ruby Sparks | Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris, 2012
The directors of Little Miss Sunshine collaborated with Paul Dano and his real life girlfriend, Zoe Kazan, to create a smart, funny, and poignant romantic comedy. Calvin Weir-Fields (Paul Dano) is a writer, who as a young man hit the big time on his first novel. Unfortunately, he has been experiencing writers block ever since. He begins to fantasize and then write about the perfect girl of his dreams. One day, to his great astonishment, he finds her in his apartment! Ruby Sparks touches on why we need our partners to challenge us; the fantasy of being able to write the script to our life is more appealing than the reality it brings.

A Separation | Asghar Farhadi, 2011
This film swept the foreign language awards in 2012, winning an Academy Award and Golden Globe (internationally it fared even better winning acting awards). The main characters, Nader and Simin, have been married for 14 years and have an 11-year-old daughter. Simin is becoming frustrated with her life in Iran and desires to move out of the country, but Nader refuses to leave his aging father with Alzheimers. Simin requests a divorce, but the court determines there isn’t adequate ruling to approve the divorce. so Simin moves in with her parents. This change forces Nader to hire a women, Razieh, to watch his father while he is at work. Nadar is a little delusional on how well his father can function independently and due to religious restrictions, taking care of a male, non-family member, causes problems for Razieh. There is a scene where she has to call a religious hotline to seek permission to clean him after an accident. I viewed this film as someone unfamiliar with Iranian customs, but it is a beautiful film about the messy aspects of life are relatable to us all.

Three Colours Trilogy: Blue, White, Red | Krzysztof Kieślowski, 1993, 1994, 1994
I am cheating a little by including Blue, White, and Red as a single unit on this list, but it is hard to separate them. Renowned Polish director and screenwriter, Krzysztof Kieślowski uses the colors and motto of the French flag to weave together these three movies, while neither of them share a storyline.

Blue reflects on emotional liberty as we watch Julie (Juliette Binoche) wrestle with her new identity, free of family ties after personal tragedy strikes. It is hauntingly beautiful.

White hints on the idea of equality by following the journey of Karol Karol (Zbigniew Zamachowski), a Polish immigrant living and working as a hair dresser in France. His marriage falls apart and, because of some spiteful actions from his wife (played by Julie Delpy), Karol finds himself with no money. He quickly hatches a plan to return to Poland, rebuild his reputation, and take revenge on his wife.

Of the three films, Red was my favorite. We meet, Valentine (Irène Jacob), a college student/part-time model who, while out driving late one night, hits a dog. She tries to return the dog, but the owner seems weirdly uninterested so she has no choice but to nurse the dog back to health. Throughout the film we see these characters connecting through unlikely circumstances.

What were some of your favorites, old or new, that you saw this year?

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Merry Christmas

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Wishing you all a beautiful and warm Christmas from my family to yours! We’ve been very blessed this year and we are looking forward to 2014.

In the meantime, I have a little treat for you. Below is a cover of WHAM!’s “Last Christmas” that my husband’s band, Hallows, recorded. Enjoy!

 

Molasses Spice Cookies

Molasses Spice Cookies

My mom has several friends that give my parents baked goods for Christmas and since Jordan and I live close we get to share in on their gift 🙂 I’ve come to look forward to the variety of desserts to eat and new recipes to try in the future. I’m sharing with you a cookie recipe that has become a favorite in our home — Molasses Spice Cookies!

As I have mentioned before, Jordan leans toward simple cookies and this one fits the bill for both of us! The molasses spice cookie is the feisty cousin to the always reliable sugar cookie; basic and simple to make, but fun and festive for the holidays.

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Favorites of 2013: Music

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As each year passes, I’ve found it more difficult to remember what I took in culturally: did I watch/listen/read that? I’m going to use this space to catalogue my favorites, starting with music! Please let me preface that obviously this isn’t the list, but just my list as I don’t listen to all styles and genres of music. My list is in alphabetical order, but I if I had to pick my favorite musical discovery of this year, it would be Lorde.

Arcade Fire | Reflektor
Arcade Fire is a band that I regret to admit I didn’t fully understand when I first heard them. Why do they have, like, 20 members? What is with the costumes? I even had the opportunity to see them live a few years ago, but I declined and Jordan brought his brother instead. Despite my earlier mistake, I have grown to like them a lot. This album is a combination of dissonant rhythms and melodies that blend together to create a full rich sound. The dance type songs don’t feel rushed either – perfect for dancing. 

Favorite Song: Here Comes The Night Time |Spotify| iTunes|

Andrew Belle | Black Bear
Everyone needs that album. You know what I’m talking about, the album that you put on to let out a good cry, read a book, take a nap, work creatively or enjoy some good marriage snuggle time 😉 This isn’t background music, but mood setting music: pure emotive and honestly simply beautiful. Andrew Belle’s Black Bear just kind of blew me away.

Favorite Song: Many Lives |Spotify| iTunes|

Beyoncé | Beyoncé
Beyoncé almost didn’t make this list because her album snuck up on all of us! I was a Destiny’s Child fan (I can still recite all of the lyrics from “Say My Name”, despite not having heard the song in years), but Beyoncé always led that train. While, I’ve admired Beyoncé, this album is the first one of hers where I’ve actually liked the entire journey not just the pit stops (i.e. singles). Job well done, Mrs. Carter. Or as Jordan said, “I can’t believe how good this album is.”

Favorite Song: XO |iTunes|

Ellie Goulding | Halcyon Days
Technically, this is a re-release of her 2012 album, Halcyon, so I’m cheating bit. BUT there are ten new songs, so I’m just going to count it as something separate! Jordan and I first discovered Ellie when she performed on SNL in May of 2011. I was so impressed, I bought her album, Lights, and have followed her career ever since. The lyrics on this album are storytelling like a folk song, but her breathy voice and ethereal dance music creates a style all to her own.

Favorite Song: Burn (from the new released songs) |Spotify| iTunes|

Lorde | Pure Herion
It’s kind of amazing to think that a 16 year-old from NZ could take the US music scene by storm in only a few months, but that’s exactly what happened this summer with Lorde. I have probably listened to this album the most this year, particularly when I am getting ready in the morning and I need some extra pep!

Favorite Song: Ribs |Spotify| iTunes|

Paul McCartney | NEW
I love that Paul McCartney still puts out new music… and thankfully, it is also really really good. Jordan and I saw Sir Paul live at Wrigley Field a few years ago and he was amazing: played for three hours without stopping for anything, even to drink water! I also think it’s pretty cool that George Martin’s son was one of the producers on this album. If you like the Beatles sound and Paul’s songwriting then you may fall in love with this album and how some new elements are fused with the old.

Favorite Song: Alligator |Spotify| iTunes|

M.I.A. | Matangi
M.I.A. is just cool and that coolness echoes in her music. Matangi is little mixture of R&B, world music beats, synth sounds, and a whole lot of confidence. M.I.A.’s lyrics are like that friend who says what everyone else is thinking but is too afraid to say out loud. This is apparent in her take on the YOLO trend, explained in the song “Y.A.L.A.”, “If you only live once, why we keep doing the same [stuff]?”

Favorite Song: Only 1 U |SpotifyiTunes|

Paramore | Paramore
I admired Paramore’s earlier music, but it was a little young sounding for me. I kinda got tired of the pop punk music of my youth (Fall Out Boy, New Found Glory, etc.). Thankfully, I have Jordan who tends to know what’s up on good music and who encouraged me to take a fresh listen. This album is a mature Paramore and delivers wonderful pop rock songs. And even if this isn’t your style, you can’t deny Haley Williams can SAAANG.

Favorite Song: Hate to See Your Heart Break |SpotifyiTunes|

Katy Perry | Prism
I just love Katy. Prism is reminiscent of the less moody/grunge 1990s music and I mean that as a compliment! S Club 7, anyone? When I was little, I let myself fully embrace the pop ballads and sang my little heart out while roller blading down my street wearing overalls 🙂 There are also great messages mixed in through out this album. In “It Takes Two”which is essentially a song about breaking up, instead of blaming the other she speaks about how we must be the first to say “I’m sorry.”

Favorite Song: International Smile |SpotifyiTunes|

Phoenix | Bankrupt!
Back in the early years of dating (2005), Jordan came to me with the discovery of a new band, Phoenix.  Well, new to us at least 🙂 I loved them instantly and Thomas Mars (lead singer) is instantly cooler because he’s married to Sofia Coppola (one of my favorite, young film directors). Jordan and I saw them play a sold out show at the Aragon Ballroom this September and it was one of the best nights of this year. Bankrupt! is full of intimate lyrics paired with anthemic melodies and slightly aloof-synth-dance style rock & roll.

Favorite Song: S.O.S. in Bel Air |SpotifyiTunes|

Justin Timberlake | The 20/20 Experience
I grew up in that prime time to fully embrace the boy band, but I never did. My access to music mainly came from my older brothers (Blink 182 to the Cranberries), but I always knew Justin had something special. Jordan and I have really enjoyed his appearances on SNL and would wonder if a return to music would happen! This album sounds deliberate, a clear stepping stone to set him apart from basically everyone he was associated with early on in his music career (watching the members of ‘N sync perform next to him during this year’s VMA’s was just sad). This album is a little less pop and a little more soul.

Favorite Song: Strawberry Bubblegum |SpotifyiTunes|

Vampire Weekend | Modern Vampires of the City
I will always associate Vampire Weekend with my naive newly-wed days (as their first album released the same year as our wedding), and just like I continue to mature so does Vampire Weekend. They came on the scene with the vibe of preppy east-coast rockers mixed with some Paul Simon Graceland musical vibes. This third release has pushed aside collegiate songs for lyrics that evoke thoughts that arise as we/they reach their 30s. “Wisdom’s a gift/But you’d trade it for youth.”

Their dance like quality hasn’t completely vanished though, Jordan and I may sometimes put on this album and dance around our apartment listening to “Diane Young”.

Favorite Song: Unbelievers |Spotify| iTunes|

Kanye West | Yeezus
Despite myself, I absolutely bought into this album. It’s at times crass, abrasive, genius, or any other polarizing adjective you want to throw into the mix, but it also didn’t sound like anything else I listened to this year. It’s masterful in the way that it pushes boundaries and sets itself in a class all its own. I don’t know if I can say it better than the New York Times:

“An aggressive demand for attention…Yeezus arrives with all eyes and ears on Mr. West…Mr. West’s response to all that scrutiny is an album that stays as combative as its opening zap …the album is one long, efficient, inventive kick in the head.”

Favorite Song: New Slaves |SpotifyiTunes|

What were some of your favorite albums this year?

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To Market, To Market, To Buy a Fat Basket

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Sometimes I am a walking contradiction; I’m not super spontaneous, but I also don’t particularly relish planning out details. While traveling in Europe last spring, besides our plane/train/bus rides between each city, we basically free-formed each day and, honestly, it was the best! Jordan and I have always liked to explore without an agenda; keeping an open mind has allowed fun opportunities that might not have happened otherwise. So over the weekend, despite the single-digit weather, we chose to spend an afternoon walking around Chicago (though once the wind picked up I rethought our dismissal of seeing a movie!). We browsed a couple of favorite stores, bought a few Christmas presents, and then magically found a certain item I had been searching for several months to find!

We walked past Fourth Presbyterian Church where they were holding their annual Holiday Fair Trade Gift Bazaar. With a name like, that how could I resist taking a peek? The bazaar sells handmade artisanal items from Ten Thousand Villages.

I’ve been on the hunt for a large basket with a lid  (Natalie did a round-up, so I’m linking to her) to hold our extra blankets and pillows. I enjoy using baskets to hold anything from magazines to my hair products. They’ve been a great tool for me to keep my home looking decorated but organized (Why have one blanket when you can have ten?!). Our apartment is from the 1920s and has a very large, traditional dining room, so it has sometimes been tricky to utilize all our space. After some extensive internet searching and pinterest-ing, I found a few baskets I liked, but I wasn’t really willing to spend $100+ on a basket. That’s why I was thrilled to find baskets everywhere when we entered the church; baskets that were large, the perfect color, and a more reasonable price!

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^ I’ve always loved the courtyard of this church. And it looks exceptionally beautiful all decorated for Christmas.

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^And then we had to walk several blocks back to our car with a huge basket 😉

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^ It quickly found its place in our dining room, but I’m thinking of purchasing another from their website to add to our collection!

Music Monday: Christmas Edition

Sufjan Stevens Songs for Christmas

The time has come to begin baking Christmas cookies, decorate your tree, and of course listen to lots and lots of Christmas music! I was tempted to start listening before Thanksgiving, but I held off until last week. As someone who spent much of my youth in either a band (I played clarinet) or choir, I am well versed in traditional and nontraditional holiday music; the good, the bad, and the ugly songs (I’m sorry, but “I saw mommy kissing santa claus”, is just weird however you look at it).

Julie Andrews and Bing Crosby were on regular rotation in my house growing up, but more recently, I like my Christmas music on the melancholy dreamy side. I discovered that I liked my Christmas music this way basically because of Sufjan Stevens‘ Songs for Christmas. It’s a little bit weird, but equally beautiful; new songs mixed with traditional hymns and instrumental versions. Jordan and I used his arrangement of “Holy, Holy, Holy” at our wedding.

These box sets started as personal gifts Sufjan gave to friends and family each year, eventually he bound the EP’s together; stickers and posters are included 🙂 Songs for Christmas came out in 2006 and Silver & Gold was released last year. If you are looking for a few songs to begin with here are a few of my favorites: “Silent Night”, “Sister Winter”, “Only at Christmas Time”,” Star of Wonder”, “The Midnight Clear”, and “The Friendly Beasts.”

Sufjan Stevens Silver and Gold

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Homemade Breakfast Granola

Homemade Breakfast Granola

Over Thanksgiving weekend, my brother Jason mentioned he recently made granola. My mother also regularly makes granola, but for some reason the idea had never crossed my mind. Which is odd considering my pantry is stocked with these ingredients regularly. I found this recipe on Pinterest and tweaked it a little to include the kind of oil and sweetener I wanted to use. I’m excited to build upon this recipe and experiment with different variations – coconut and chocolate would be an exciting combo to try!

I don’t imagine this batch sticking around for very long because Jordan has already been snatching little bites all day. So, if you have more than two people in your house that will eat granola, I would suggest doubling the recipe because it really is just that good! Also, this would be a lovely gift to give during this holiday season. Fill some cute jars, include the recipe on the gift tag, and you are good to go!

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Hallows

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I’m so excited that the time has come for me to share about a project that Jordan has been working on for the majority of this year! “Tiny Heart” is the debut single of Jordan’s new band, Hallows, and they released it today!

Jordan is in the band with his brother, Joshua, and their friend, Gary. It’s exciting to see the fruit from the boys’ hard work. I hope you enjoy the song just as much as I do, though I might be slightly biased 🙂 And seriously, my man works so hard for us and our future, I couldn’t be more proud!

If you like the song please feel free to spread the love. We appreciate your support!

They will be releasing a Christmas song in the coming weeks, so be sure to look out for the announcement on the Hallows website.

A Birthday Gift

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Jordan and I typically lean toward giving each other experiences for birthday/anniversary/Christmas gifts rather then material items. I’m thankful that Jordan and I decided to give our gifts this way because I won’t remember a pair of shoes 20 years from now, but I will remember the many adventures, trips away, and concerts that we’ve experienced together.

This year, we’ve really enjoyed the concerts we’ve gone to. Buying tickets several months in advance doesn’t provide instant gratification, but I love having nights to look forward to. Last night we saw Paramore, one of our favorite bands. They were touring in support of their critically acclaimed, bestselling, self-titled album (one of our favs of the year). I’ve come to appreciate these shared crowed experiences: giving one another mental high five’s, like “Are you seeing what is happening?!” We were surrounded by people who were just as excited as we were; happily singing and dancing along all night! And that girl Haley has some pipes on her, woah!

Do you ever give non-traditional gifts?

Remember when bringing in cameras to concerts wasn’t allowed? My iPhone takes better pictures then my first digital camera 10 years ago! Oh, how the times have changed.