Friday, November 30, 2012

Talking Isn't Always Easy





























Of the many things I adore about Seth most, one is his ability to communicate with delicacy. He impresses me without fail, every single time a tough conversation comes up.

Yep, another toughie came up... and it just so happened to be the day after Thanksgiving... Boo.

But this is real life, right?

Tough conversations arise.

And as I've said a million bajillion times on here, this is life.

And as I said last week, which is a new motto that I LOVE, easy card is gone.

Got it.

***

I'm standing outside the door, uncomfortably reeling.

He sits in the room, unaware of the bomb that is about to drop.

Don't open the door and blow up, Jacy. Don't do it. Walk away. He's done nothing wrong. This is ALL on you right now. All of it. Your insecurities. Your expectations. 

The door opens.

Seth can tell I am visibly upset.

"Hey? You okay?"

"Um, yeah."

"Well, you don't look okay? What's up?"

"Never mind. Don't worry about it."

I turn to walk away.

"Wait. Don't go. Let's please talk. Something is wrong. Clearly you are not okay. Let's talk."

3 hours later.

3 HOURS LATER.

The skin under my nose was raw. My mascara was smeared. My voice was tired and sore.

I had spewed up everything I had ever thought before, was thinking right then and things I hadn't even conjured up yet and logically thought through. It was like a volcanic eruption- it just keep going and going and going. And it was all me. Sure it was spurred on by something Seth did (or didn't do) and sure, it was about serious stuff. I mean, we're about to get married.. blend a family... make a HUMONGOUS life changing commitment here. It IS a big deal.... but there my poor Seth sat, just an innocent bystander stuck in the crossfire between me and my own insecurities.

Believe me when I tell you, though, that his voice never rose. His eyes never rolled. He never had any sort of a jabbing comeback. He just patiently listened to the sounds of the war and then, once I had settled down and dropped my weapons to the floor, we proceeded to have a constructive, intelligent and meaningful conversation.

We hugged.

I bawled.

"I'm not going to leave you, Jacy. I am in this. But I understand where you are coming from and I will work on being more ________. "

And that sentence, his words, calmed the turbulence in my head. I was heard. He understood. He didn't blame or attack. My feelings were validated but my heart also hurt because of how I must have made him feel- for some of the selfish things I had said (or implied anyway).

There's always a strangely peaceful feeling after those types of conversations. You feel vulnerable. You feel sort of silly, but totally relieved at the same time. You feel loved. You feel better understood. You feel like you are in a very safe place.

I was safe.

***

Alright, so remember the last post I wrote about communication all because of a $7 wreath? And remember how I told you that Seth is going to collaborate with me in writing a fantastic post about communication given his experiences? Well, that is still on the horizon but because he is in finals week, it'll be on the back burner for another month or so... SHUX! But I did get a few insights from him that I just had to share with you!

I asked him point blank last night,

"Why are you SO good at having difficult conversations? I mean, what's your secret? How do you not freak out or react or shut down or blow up or get defensive like me?"

Here are two things that he said that stuck to me like butter (and I'll save the rest for him to share :)

1) You have to truly care about the person you are communicating with. Truly, deeply care. And then you have to consciously HEAR their words. You have to process what they are saying, what they are feeling and why they are feeling that way, without pushing YOUR agenda on them. This moment is not about you... this is about them and their feelings. You listen because what they are saying, no matter how hard it is to hear, is IMPORTANT to you.

2) You also have to be very humble as you listen. It's about looking far within yourself and realizing and then admitting that "I am not perfect, therefor I can be wrong.... and if I am wrong in this instance... what does that mean? What can I be doing differently? " Swallowing that jagged pill can hurt, but it's about something so much deeper than not reacting to what's being said; it's about true humility."

As he told me these few pointers last night (which I paraphrased), I had chills as he was telling me his thoughts and I couldn't help but smirk. Why? Because when I am with him, I want to be a better person.

But, may I remind you that our relationship is not a perfect fantasy either. I've always envisioned that my life would be some fairy-tale... but it's not... and when this reality slaps me in the face, it has me spinning at times. I've been talking to Maurice about this very thing a lot the last few months, and this very 'idea' is the reason for the difficult conversations Seth and I have been having. I plan to talk more about this in other posts because I have learned some really great things about it all... but today I'll cap it with:

I've got my stuff. He has his. Together, we are figuring out how to be better communicators, listeners and life companions.


Wishing you all a LOVELY FRIDAY!!

p.s. don't you love the picture above? Talk about a perfect fit for today's post. Image Credit

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Best Marriage Advice You've Got!

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This is a really important post... perhaps the most important post ever... but I don't have the text for it!

I need you!

I thought it'd be WAY cool to compile a list of ALL of the best relationship tips and advice from YOU and then make a post out of it.

SO! In the comment section below give me what you've got... what you've heard...  and what has worked for you in regards to a really GREAT relationship!

And if you'd like to get really fun and daring, you could pull out your picture box, dust it off and email in a wedding picture (or a photo of you and your man if you're not married, or just YOU if your rockin' the single life right now :) along with your tips. How FUN would that be?? I really hope some of you will do this because I would LOVE TO SEE your pictures! And I'd love to know how long you've bee together, too.

In the mean time, I'll come up with my best tips and post them next week with the rest of yours :)

Pretty please participate! I think this will be a super enlightening and FUN guide for all of us!

XOXO

**Email to jacyleeclemons@gmail.com


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

When You Get Hit by a Truck



















I had a friend call me last week to tell me that she had just experienced her own personal "Discovery Day." Her husband had a painful secret- one that ran deep.

You'd think I'd know the best thing to say to her, because I had been in her shoes... but I didn't. I found myself blubbering and crying with her; bouncing all over from one extreme to the next. I'm wasn't sure if I helped her or made things worse. 

I hung up the phone feeling a little numb. Did I say too much? Did I freak her out? Did I offer the right sort of advice?  What if I didn't point her in a healthy direction? And then I remembered a perfect piece of writing that came from my therapist a few years ago so I hurriedly sat down at my computer and started sending this friend link after link.

Today, I want to share one of the most important links that I sent to her. It's called:


How should a wife respond to discovering
her husband has been viewing pornography?
What should she be allowed to expect?

By Maurice Harker

When discovering your husband has been using pornography... (Otherwise known as "When you get hit by a truck...")

- Scream! - When an individual is hit by a truck, initially, it does not really matter why the driver hit you with the truck, pain is pain! Before you have time to figure out how much damage has been done, before you have time to figure out why the truck hit you, you have the right to have a strong emotional reaction. I do not expect someone who has been hit by a truck to control their expressions of pain, just to make it easier on the driver of the truck. And if the driver of the truck says, "You shouldn't scream so loud because it was an accident. The only reason I hit you with the truck is because of my addiction to alcohol. So, I need you to not 'react', but be supportive instead." I don't think I need to explain why that is crazy talk.

Some pornography users and addicts justify not telling their spouses because, "It has nothing to do with her." Sure, an alcohol drinker can hide it from his spouse and believe that, "what she doesn't know won't hurt her", but is that really true? Does the drinker think that the time and money spent on the drinking and not with the family is unnoticeable? Does he think there are no changes in the way he thinks, feels and behaves?

-Withdraw a safe distance - Get out of the road and into a hospital. Get some distance between you and the person who has hurt you. Contact someone who might be able to help you. Hopefully, you have a constructive relationship with your parents and/or church leader. These people can help you get to the help you need (they are like an ambulance). Ask them to help you get into a well trained doctor who will know how to accurately diagnose your injuries and help you begin healing correctly. Unfortunately, some people just walk home after being hit by a truck and just try to recover/heal on their own. I understand why you don't want to get professional help...the embarrassment, the cost.... Unfortunately, broken bones often heal incorrectly when professional help is not involved, leading to long lasting discomfort. Please, get a professional involved, even if it is for just one visit!

- Discover the extent of the damage. - Unfortunately, it is going to take time to get the full extent of the disloyalty. Alcohol, drug and porn users are not known for open and honest full disclosure on first visit. Unfortunately, this is part of the addiction. As an addiction develops, the ability to distort truth and reality increases. During the early stages of recovery, the addict is usually still more concerned about avoiding the pain of watching you be in pain. I often hear them say, "I should never have told her. It only made things worse (for me)." 

Almost universally, the truth comes out in layers. As the user/addict gains more courage and integrity, he will gradually reveal more. It has been my experience that women are capable of getting a signal from God when they have heard all they need to hear. Until you feel this way, keep some distance, especially emotional distance, from the man until you get the signal from God that you have heard all you need to hear, otherwise, he could very well (accidentally) run you over again.

Scientifically speaking, in order to help a woman heal, I (and the wife) will need to know what types of behaviors have gone on as well as the frequency and duration. I (and the wife) do not need graphic details. These tend to cause the most, unnecessary, trauma. 

The man involved (user or addict) often unknowingly insults his wife during this process by deciding what information she can and cannot handle. Usually, unknowingly, the man adds insult to injury when he communicates, "I can't run you over at all without you screaming out in pain about it, so I am going to do both of us a favor by not telling you about it."

I should comment here on a concept I have previously discussed called "The Creepy Guy Detector". You know that game that little toddlers play where they put their hands over their eyes and declare, "You can't see me!" I observe situations where the man misbehaves significantly and then hopes that the woman cannot tell. I am convinced that in many cases women are blessed with a "sense" that something is wrong. Rarely are they told (by God) what is wrong, but this instinct is tends to be very accurate. (You can read more about this in a previous blog post.)

Boiling it down to application: It is always my goal to help families and marriages stay together whenever possible, so this intervention is designed to allow for the possibility of the family staying together but at the same time allowing the offended spouse a chance to have some degree of intolerance for the misbehavior's.

Simply, whenever the offending spouse has a lost battle, the offender must sleep outside the marital bed; on first offense, this is one night. On second offense, this is two nights. On third, three and so forth. Offender sleeps on the floor of the bedroom, on the couch in the other room or where ever the offended decides. This decision about where to sleep should be made in advance so that it is not based on emotion.

If held to firmly, the addict part of the offender's brain will have to calculate in advance if time on the floor will be "worth it. I know, it seems remedial, but it cannot be ignored that when an individual behaves in an addictive way, her or she is functioning on a less-than-adult level of maturity and is best interacted with on a less-than-adult level of interaction. I do not think the offended spouse should behave without dignity, nor be disrespectful, but the offended party should be allowed to have some safety space for increasing amounts of time if the offender is not able to get it under control.

Yes, one of two things will happen. Either the person with the addiction will get sick of not being able to sleep in his or her own bed and will start to do whatever it takes to correct the addictive behavior. Or, if the addict behavior persists, the offended party is granted more and more safety. Eventually, if the couple is spending as many as 30 days in a row apart, then the condition of the marriage is more easily observed, and the long term condition of the marriage should be re-evaluated seriously.

So, what should a wife be allowed to expect from her husband in the area of sexuality? She should be able to expect him to gain complete mastery over his sexual urges. She should be able to expect him to not use her to get his "fix". She should be allowed to expect to not be emotionally abused no matter how much discomfort he feels when he must "go without", especially if he is in recovery. "Helping a guy out" by providing him with a sexual experience right after he is emotionally unpleasant with his wife is like buying a candy bar for a child after he throws a tantrum in the grocery store check out line. She should be allowed to experience sexuality as an edifying experience, an activity that brings a sense of peace, joy and closeness to both her and her spouse. For more detail on this read, "And the Man Knew His Wife".

In my experience, woman do not require perfection from their men, but almost all of them are drawn to a man who is making valiant efforts to improve himself while at the same time are being kind to her no matter how difficult life experiences get.

I could go on and on on this subject. Let me know which pieces you would like elaboration or clarification on.

Sincerely,

Maurice W. Harker, LPC



**As always, please share this with anyone and everyone you think might benefit from it. If you are reading this and it unfortunately applies to you, remember that you are not alone!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Q & A: Happiness

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A few weeks ago I received a very sweet email from my new friend in Montreal. We connected instantly, I'd say... and she asked this very thought provoking question. 

"Do you feel that you have reached a stage where your attitude towards life is almost always positive and where your reflex is almost always to "choose happiness" in the face of a trial? If yes, how long did it take you to get there? If not, is it something you are aiming for? Everyone's journey is different of course. Some people seem to be able to turn their life or attitude around within days or weeks, and for other it takes more time. I'm just curious as to how you perceive this."

Being that this is such a great question, I thought I'd answer it here and share my thoughts with all of you...

Is my attitude towards life almost always positive, almost always choosing happiness in the face of trial?

Hmph.

This is tough.

I wish I could just write "YES and here's why my life is so put together!"

But I can't.

What I can say is "That's definitely the goal!".

Just last night Seth and I were having an in-depth chat about exactly this.

You see, one of my main problems is that I find myself to be talking about "it" ("it" being my past experiences that have to do with 'what happened' and my divorce) way more than I should. I'm not talking about "it" in a nostalgic way...  but I'm talking about it in frustrated and upset way.

I didn't realize just how much I was talking about "it" until Seth politely made mention of it. Obviously I am still healing, and as such, I will need to talk about "it" sometimes but to talk about it just to talk about "it"? Why am I doing that?

First, it made me think of my Letting Go post. I reread that a few times last night on my phone.

Then, I laid in bed thinking that maybe I talk about it because "IT" is just so overwhelming at times... my new life is complex... sharing a son with someone is a dynamic that you just can't explain... and I am still finding myself to be quite wounded from many aspects of 'what happened'. "It" changed everything in my life, very quickly. "It" is still very fresh at times, even now.

Suddenly, I remembered what Seth and I had talked about just a few hours before- HAPPINESS.

Talking about "it" doesn't mean that I am not happy where I am now... or that I'm not over my previous life/ marriage.... rather, talking about "it" is probably a bad habit... and the inability to let "it" go is impairing my potential happiness right NOW.

Does that make sense?

I am happy now. I am choosing to be happy now. BUT, I am also dwelling on the past TOO MUCH and am, at times, feeling strangled by its negative hold.

So, in a weird and round about way, I am trying to answer the above question.

Yes, I am trying to choose happiness in the face of trial every single day... but it can be very very very very very very hard sometimes. And actually I think choosing happiness is the easy part. It's easy to say that you're going to 'choose' to do anything... but what is really the most time consuming, self disciplined and HARD part is DOING IT! Being happy.

I think this is why the question above was so tough for me to grasp... because I am a happy person... and I have overcome some really hard things... my recovery skills are proving to be good... BUT... BUT... BUT...

Choosing to be happy and actually LIVING a happy life are two different things in my opinion.

Sometimes I think that when I try to be TOO HAPPY (when bad things happen, when people bug me, when confrontation is necessary, when my feelings are hurt) I am just masking how I really feel. It is human nature to feel other emotions besides happiness.... and if people are too happy, gung-ho, chipper as a whip, every single minute of every single day, ALL THE TIME, I'm not sure how genuinely happy they are because it seems that they are doing anything they can to avoid admitting to themselves and the world that their life might have imperfections.

So while I am trying to choose happiness everyday, I won't lie and tell you that I am genuinely as happy as I could be every single minute of very single day that I wake up (especially in the face of trial). That is unrealistic and I think the idea of that (being happy all the time- which I am SO guilty of) can be very very destructive. 

My life has its hardships. 

My definition of happiness has changed.

Happiness means finding joy in holiday's with my son, as well as when he's not around.

Happiness means embracing his tender hugs and kisses on some days, as well as trying to hold back the tears when he tells me he loves his other parent more because of  X, Y and Z.

Happiness means getting married to my best friend and starting our life together, as well as dealing with a lot of deep residue that comes with my own insecurities (emotionally, sexually, etc) and the dynamic of blending a family.

Happiness means having really wonderful heart felt conversations full of good, as well as having really hard and painful ones to clear some stuff up.

Happiness means loving who you are as a person, as well as becoming aware of your faults and trying to be better.

Happiness means that you find the will to keep moving forward with a grateful heart, loving those around you, even when it just really sucks sometimes! 

Some people are happier than others. No doubt. Some people recover quicker than others. No doubt. Some people find being happy to be easy. Some people, not so much. 

If you ask me, HAPPINESS a life-long goal... a daily process... maybe even an hourly or minute process... because no matter how good your life is in this very moment... life moves on... things happen... things change... and you must be able to adapt. And sometimes, apart of that adaptation is being willing to redefine what happiness means to you and how you will be happy, anyway.

THOUGHTS are welcome... As you can tell, I am just rambling here... :)


Monday, November 26, 2012

YAY or NAY: Elf on the Shelf?

GOOD MORNING EVERYONE!

Did you have a great weekend? I sure did! I'm getting ready to pack my bags and hop on a flight back home in a bit... so this is going to be very short and sweet :)

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I've been seeing pictures of this little Elf guy for years... and to be honest, I wasn't exactly sure what it even is!

Well, this weekend, while visiting some of our good friends, I asked one of the 6 year old kiddo's to explain this whole Elf thing to me. He said with an excited stutter and a gap tooth smile,

"It's Elfie. Each night, when we all go to bed, he flies back to the North Pole and tells Santa if we've been naughty or nice that day. That's how he knows if we get presents on Christmas."

Alright, so I think I'm going to go buy an Elf today for the Little Dude! I think it sounds CUTE and EFFECTIVE!

What about you!? YAY or NAY?? Is the brightly colored ELF apart of your Christmas Count Down?




Saturday, November 24, 2012

Weekly Wrap Up



















Well, hello!

Is anyone alive out there? Is anyone reading this blog? Haha! Don't worry... I'm not finding much time to sit and surf and read the web, either. Too much fun enjoying a WARM and busy Southwest Thanksgiving.

What about you? If you have a minute today, tell me where you are celebrating the holiday weekend... ;)

The guys are playing some tennis this morning and my momma and I are off to hit up some floral shops in search of the perfect bouquet.

Peace and love!

Friday, November 23, 2012

HOPE























This morning, I woke up to a beautiful scape as the sun gradually rose over the majestic peaks. A palette of the most calm pastel colors splatter the early morning sky.

I can't help but look out the window today and think of the word HOPE.

If you are sad right now, for whatever reasons, there is always hope. There is always a chance to find happiness and be happy again. There is always a reasons to find good. Always.


“Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.”
- Thich Nhat Hanh
“Life is meaningless only if we allow it to be. Each of us has the power to give life meaning, to make our time and our bodies and our words into instruments of love and hope.”
- Tom Head


Thursday, November 22, 2012

So Very Grateful




















"So... what are you grateful for this year, Jacy?",

My dad asked today, as we sat around the Thanksgiving table; the perfectly spiced food waiting to be devoured. 

"Well... I am thankful for so many things in my life. But mostly, right now, I am so thankful for the past few years, what I've been through, what I've learned and the wonderful people who have been there through it all and the people I've met because of it all. I'm thankful for new adventures. I wish a few more of our loved ones were sitting around this table with us today... but my heart is so very grateful for all of my blessings..."

And I mean it.

I am so very grateful. I am so very blessed.

A Happy Thanksgiving to you all! 


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

(BREAKING) TRADITION!

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This very time last year, I got in a little tiff with my Grammy. About TRADITION.

To make an awfully long story short, she was in a rehab home over the Thanksgiving holiday, recovering from a minor back surgery, and I was sent to be the bearer of bad news (because she and I are very close). What I thought would be an easy sell, telling your Grammy that Christmas was going to be a lot simpler that year- without presents- was more difficult than I thought.

"What!?" She said with a look of pure horror on her face.

"No presents?"

I reminded her that she was in no shape to go out and buy us all gifts- like, she physically could not go. And then I reminded her that my exhausted elderly grandpa, who had been caring for her for months prior, would have no clue where to start. I explained that we were still going to have a big bash with dinner, Christmas Carols AND a hot cocoa bar.

Her eyes were noticeably upset.

"This is MY tradition, Jacy. I have done it every year. Don't you dare expect me not to do what I have always done."

I felt slightly attacked. We were trying to help ease the stress in her life... we just wanted her to get better as fast as possible...

I reminded her again,

"Grammy... it's okay... we are all grown now... we don't need gifts. Family is what will make this party... not gifts.... it's okay... it's okay..."

Her eyes were desperately trying to make sense of her new reality. She was aging. She wasn't the spry go-getter that used to be and she literally couldn't do anything about it. Her life was changing. Her mobility was lessening.

I felt really bad as I watched her process the information she was given.

She yelled a feable yell,

"Well what about my tradition? TRADITION! I am broken hearted."

At that moment, I lost it. I didn't mean to... but I did....

"Tradition, Grandma? You want to complain to me about tradition right now? Did you know that I won't be able to tuck my one and only little boy in his covers on Christmas Eve? Did you know that I don't even get to SEE my son open presents Christmas morning? Did you know that I won't be able to share the excitement with him when he sees what Santa left under the tree?"

I was bawling as I spewed out the words.

She was silent. I could tell her heart hurt.

"Did you know that I won't be able to see Little Dude for 7 out of the next 14 Christmas's! And Thanksgiving's... and Easter's. You've had so many wonderful years with your kids and grandkids, interruption free... please... please don't talk to me about tradition and broken hearts."

My patient Grandpa, the witness of it all, just held her trembling hand and tears fell from his face.

I embraced my Grammy. I apologized for lashing out like that. I felt horrible. I should never have unleashed on hery like that. She was hurting, just as much as I was, only about different things... things that neither one of us could control.

Here's what I learned that icy day at the Heritage Home:

TRADITION is wonderful. TRADITION is fun. TRADITION is, well, tradition.

But sometimes, TRADITION isn't always possible.

Little Dude will be with his dad tomorrow and through the weekend. My very favorite holiday... and I won't get to spend it with him.

I suppose I could cry... I could feel super sorry for myself... I could put a damper on the day for myself and all those around me... I could wish and wish and wish and WISH a million times that it was different... but guess what?

It's not.

This is my life.

I am forced to break tradition.

I have no choice.

But what I have come to finally accept is that THIS IS MY LIFE. It is what it is. And instead of sulking and wishing my life away, I am choosing to MAKE NEW TRADITIONS, instead. And I am learning to love this new aspect of my life- even though it is hard and different and unexpected. The minute I let go of how my life should be and finally embraced HOW IT IS, it became so much more manageable and enjoyable- guilt free.

This year I am spending the holiday with Seth and my parents. Just the 4 of us. That's it. And even though I wish my Little Dude could be with me tomorrow and for every Thanksgiving to come, I am genuinely happy that he gets to spend this special time with his other family and I am genuinely happy in doing whatever it is I am blessed to do.

So, this is my life... and even though I am breaking all tradition and trying to make new ones... and I'm missing my little buddy... I plan to have a marvelous time anyway!

I hope you will have a marvelous time, too, no matter what you're doing (or not doing) or who you're with (or not with).

Wishing you all safe travels today and throughout the weekend. Be careful out there!

XOXOXO


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Falling in LOVE with FALL Recipes

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This is my absolute favorite time of year. Have I told you that already? Like, I luff, luff, LUFF it! If I had to pick just one holiday, this would be in a very close race with Christmas and, you know, it just might win. I love it that much.

I think what I love about it so much is the idea of it.... The feeling of overwhelming gratitude in my heart paired together with totally stellar meals and the people I love and care about most... Pure delight! 

Today I thought I'd take you back into my past and share some of my favorite dishes from my holiday memories with you! My mom has always been a solid cook and these are some of the recipes she's been making for years... They aren't her original recipes, but she has them mastered, I tell you what! She never disappoints!  So if you're looking for something new to spice things up this holiday season, here's a good place to start :)

*I'm really sorry I don't have any pictures... But I promise you, they are really so so so good!

BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP WITH NUTMEG CREAM

This is incredible!

Serves 8 – 10

5 tablespoons butter 
2 ½ pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-2” cubes

2 cups chopped leeks (white and pale green parts only)
½ cup chopped peeled carrot
½ cup chopped onion

½ teaspoon salt

2 small Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, chopped
1 ½ teaspoons dried thyme (or fresh used 2 teaspoons)

¼ teaspoon nutmeg---plus ¼ teaspoon for cream topping FRESH IS BEST

1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
5 cups chicken stock or canned chicken broth
1 ¾ cups apple cider
½ cup whipping cream
 
chopped fresh chives

Melt butter in a heavy, 4-quart saucepan over medium heat.  Add squash, leeks, carrot and onion, sauté’ until onions are softened, about 15 minutes.

Mix in apples, thyme and spices.  Add stock and 1 cup cider and bring to boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low.  Cover and simmer until squash is tender, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.  Cool slightly.

Puree soup in pan with immersion blender (or working in batches, puree soup in blender when cooled down). Boil remaining ¾-cup cider in heavy small saucepan until reduced to 3 tablespoons, about 5 minutes.  Cool.  Whip cream and ¼ teaspoon fresh nutmeg to a soft peak, fold in concentrated cider.
Bring soup to simmer. Ladle soup into bowls.  Drizzle with cider cream.  Top with chives.

Soup can be frozen and is YUMMY, YUMMY, YUMMY!!!

PUMPKIN PECAN CHEESECAKE

This is my personal FAVORITE THANKSGIVING DESSERT EVER! Beats a pumpkin or pecan pie any day. To die for.

Topping:
¼ cup packed brown sugar
 
6 T. butter, chilled
1 ½ cup chopped pecans

Crust:
1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup sugar
6 T. butter, melted

Cheesecake:
3 (8 oz.) cream cheese at room temperature
¾ cups packed brown sugar
5 large eggs
1 lb. canned pumpkin
½ cup whipping cream
½ t. cinnamon
½ t. nutmeg
¼ t. cloves

For topping: Place sugar in small bowl.  Add butter and cut in until mixture resembles coarse meal.  Stir pecans into mixture.  Set aside.

For cheesecake: Blend crumbs, ¼ cup sugar, and butter in medium bowl.  Press crumb mixture in bottom and up sides of 9” spring-form pan.  Chill.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese in large bowl until smooth.  Mix in remaining ¾ cup sugar and brown sugar.  Add eggs 1 at a time and beat until fluffy.  Blend in pumpkin, cream, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.  Pour into crust.  Bake until center no longer moves when pan is shaken, about 1 ½ hours.

Sprinkle topping over cheesecake.  Bake 15 minutes.  Transfer to rack to cool.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.  Serves 10




Cinnamon Roll Pulls

These are just downright delicious! We make them in the morning and I tell you, they are soooooo yummy!

1 unsliced round loaf sourdough bread

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 cup sugar
1 1/4 tsp cinnamon

1 cup powdered sugar
1-2 Tbsp milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To make Vanilla Honey Butter: Whip butter and 1/4 cup powdered sugar together until smooth; stir in honey and vanilla.  Set aside. (You can use regular butter if desired)

Cut the bread lengthwise into 1/2" slices, without cutting through the bottom crust. Spread vanilla honey butter in between slices.  Rotate the bread 90 degrees and slice the bread again into 1/2" pieces, without cutting through the bottom crust. Spread more vanilla honey butter in between new cuts. This doesn't need to be perfect - just make sure there is lots of butter in between all the cuts. Combine sugar and cinnamon. Generously sprinkle in between all cuts. (You may have extra butter and cinnamon sugar.  It will just depend on how large your bread loaf is.)

Wrap in foil; place on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, until bread is warm.  Unwrap cinnamon bread and place on serving platter.  Combine powdered sugar and milk - adding milk until you get the consistency desired.  Drizzle icing over bread and serve immediately.


RED HOT JELLO

This one has been in the family for years and is actually my grandma Ginger's recipe. We've been making this gem since before I can even remember! Some peeps in my fam adore this, other's not so much... I, personally, think it's delish and I look forward to it every year!! MMMMM!

2 pkg lemon jello

1/2 cups red hot candy
3 cups boiling water
2 cups applesauce
1 TBSP lemon juice
1 dash salt

Mixture:

1/2 cup chopped nuts
3 oz cream cheese
1/4 cup cream or milk
2 tablespoons mayo

Dissolve candies in three cups boiling water and jello. Add applesauce, lemon juice and salt.

Chill until partially set and then swirl in cream cheese mixture. (I use a fluted jello/cake pan)


Autumn Chopped Salad

This is just a great fall recipe for any day, really. Easy and super good!

Ingredients:

6 to 8 cups of Chopped Romaine Lettuce
2 medium pears, chopped
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup chopped pecans
8 slices thick-cut bacon (I used turkey bacon) crisp and crumbled
4 to 6 oz feta cheese, crumbled
Poppy Seed Dressing (store bought)
Balsamic Vinaigrette (store bought)

Directions:

Combine lettuce, pears, cranberries, pecans, bacon and feta cheese.  Drizzle with poppy seed dressing, followed by some of the balsamic vinaigrette.  Toss and serve! 


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