Dances With Hazelnuts

Brent and I both love hazelnut butter, but there’s so much sugar in the commercial stuff! Then a friend gave me her recipe for a healthy version. I found a source for blanched hazelnuts, Brent ordered a killer blender, and I’ve been making my own nut butter ever since.
Here’s the blender, photographed beside the protein-shake one for scale. If the little one is a Bullet blender, the big one is the Howitzer of blenders.

The craving hit recently while I was out of hazelnuts. Undaunted, I brought a pound of in-the-shell nuts home from the grocery.

But in the back of my mind was the nagging realization that, for the first time, I’d have to blanch the nuts. I approached this task with the same confidence with which I might gut a fish.

Sheer terror.

Honestly, you can look up anything online, including how to blanch hazelnuts. I boiled the nut meats according to the directions. It took longer than I expected, but at last the papery skins slipped right off.

Should I be uneasy that the nuts looked bigger and puffier than the pre-blanched ones I’d bought before?

Next step, toast the skinned nuts in the oven. Since they had apparently retained a bit of water, I made sure they were fully toasted. Then, into the blender they went. Here they’re coarsely chopped, on their way to smooth, dippable greatness.

Once the nuts were pretty well pulverized, I added the other ingredients and blended some more, pushing the stiff goop back down into the blades every ten seconds or so. Usually this “stiff” phase lasts about two minutes.

Half an hour later, the consistency hadn’t changed a bit. If anything, the goop had grown stiffer. By now I could only blend for four seconds before the blades would lose all contact with the hazelnut goop.

I let the blender cool off for a while, and went at it again.

Still stiff, like mortar.

Maybe I had over-toasted the nuts. I added water.

An hour later, I gave up and scooped the resulting hazelnut product into a container to refrigerate, ready or not.

It looks like poop.

And this time, I can’t even blame the appliances.

One thing’s for sure: From now on, I’m only buying already-blanched hazelnuts.

After all, I’m not completely nuts.

Thanks for reading,

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Recovery Tips for Surviving the Holiday Season (a Guest Post)

Happy Thanksgiving, friends! Today I’m happy to share some wonderful advice to help you cope with the (ridiculously food-intensive) holiday season. Our guest, the lovely Caralyn, blogs about her recovery from anorexia at BeautyBeyondBones.

The insights she shares here would benefit anyone who will be interacting with family and food over Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc., whether you suffer from an eating disorder or perhaps know someone who struggles with food.

You can visit her blog at the link above, or find her on Facebook by clicking here.

The following post first appeared on the blog “Beauty Beyond Bones” on November 2, 2017.

Thanks for reading,

….Take it away, Caralyn!

Well, here we are. November 2. We’ve officially entered…the Holiday Season.

I swear, the Trick or Treaters hadn’t even left the driveway before the first Christmas commercial came on TV.

What’s the heck?! Eager much??

But anyways. If there’s one thing I know for certain, it’s that for someone in ED recovery, navigating Thanksgiving and Christmas, and all the festivities and parties that go with it, can be daunting. Staying strong in your eating disorder recovery can be a real test of strength.

I have such vivid memories of the anxiety I felt, heading into a season where everything was about food, and sharing meals and holiday parties.

Back when I was battling anorexia, I used to dread this time of year.

If one more person offers me a friggin Christmas cookie or candy cane, I’m going to bust a cap!!

But now, being in my tenth year of recovery, I have come to embrace this season. And it truly is my favorite time of year, again.

It has taken me a long time to get to where I am, and I have certainly learned a lot along the way.

So here are some tips for those navigating recovery, and also for loved ones, to get a glimpse into what your dear one is going through.

1) Realize that people are going to say dumb things.

Here’s the thing: an eating disorder is difficult to navigate to all parties involved. And the fact is, sometimes, well meaning relatives or adults can say some pretty stupid things. And the thing about recovery from anorexia is that, yes – your body changes. Your progress is visible to people. And that’s a good thing! But not everyone knows how to react… tactfully. I remember going to a doctor’s appointment right after I got home from inpatient, and my male GI doc goes, “Wow, looks like you found McDonald’s!”


People are going to say dumb things. And just let it roll off you. You’re beautiful. You’re healthy. And you’re reclaiming your life.

2) Give yourself permission to take a breather.

There can be a lot of stress and togetherness during the holidays. And sometimes, you just need to take a minute to yourself. And that’s okay. Know your limits. If you feel like, “I can’t take another minute of Aunt Ruth talking about how relieved she is that I’m doing better” just politely excuse yourself, find a quiet corner of the house, or step outside, and take a little break. Deep breath. I am loved. I am worthy. Jesus, be with me right now.

3) It’s just a cookie.

Thanksgiving and Christmas time are full of delicious goodies. That’s the long and short of it. Pumpkin spice lattes, Christmas cookies, eggnog, hot chocolate. For someone in recovery from an eating disorder, thinking about consuming those things makes them go into a cold sweat. But you know what? They’re delicious. And they’re not going to hurt you. Having a cookie or a treat in moderation is part of a healthy diet. Enjoy it! Partake in the festivities! You’re worth it.

4) The Power of Positive Thinking.

Sometimes, thinking about going to a party can bring on the anxiety. Before hand, close your eyes and envision yourself having a blast. You’re talking, dancing, wearing something that makes you feel confident, and truly enjoying yourself. Embody that girl of your dreams! Channel her spirit!

5) Have a support person.

Sometimes it can help to have a confidant at the party, with whom you can share your trepidations. Just give them a heads up that you could need a little extra support at the outing. Knowing that someone is on the same page and knows what you’re going through goes a long way.

6) Remember the reason for the season.

Focus on the people you love. The less you’re thinking about yourself, the more you will enjoy the best season of the year. Honestly, at the end of the day, people love you for who you are. Not what you look like. Not what you’re wearing. Not how you perceive your body to be. People love you for you. Love them back.

7) Pray your way through it.

Finally, there really is power in prayer. Sharing with Jesus your fears and anxieties and allowing Him to love you is the best thing you can do to navigate a difficult situation. Accept His peace. And remember that your worth comes from Him.

This is the best season of the year, and remember that you’re alive to enjoy it. Keep that in perspective. You’ve chosen life. You’ve reclaimed your health. You’ve won the battle, and sadly, not everyone does. Remember how blessed you are.

You survived. Celebrate that.

For more recovery advice, and a guided recovery companion journal, you can order my book, Bloom: A Journal by BeautyBeyondBones by clicking on the link below.

Click here to order your copy!


A big thank you to my sponsor, BetterHelp Online Therapy. Speak with an online therapist. Or check out content about eating disorders from BetterHelp.

For Podcast versions of my posts, please check out Patreon! You make this blog possible 🙂

The post Recovery Tips for Surviving the Holiday Season appeared first on BeautyBeyondBones.

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Don’t Blink! North Texas Fall Colors

One tree.

We have one maple tree in the front yard. That’s it, as far as fall color goes.

So when it turns in the autumn, I have to photograph it for all I’m worth.

Here it is early in the season, on October 28:

Part green, part indeterminate fall-y colors.

Two days later, on October 30, it was really cranking up the warm orange-y glow:

Now we’re talkin’!

Two more days, and the colors are shifting toward red. I took this picture from an angle that shows the background of all the normal North Texas trees, whose leaves either stay green or simply turn grayish-brown.

By November 1, the fall color “season” is half over.

Four days later. Finally turning a nice Aggie maroon in the fourth quarter of the season, the tree is dropping its leaves. (Nature observation, or football metaphor? I’ll just leave it there.)

November 5, and the leaves are. . .
well, leaving.

Two and a half weeks after the season starts, it’s over.

Blink, and you’ll miss the whole show.

I wonder which week winter will happen this year?

Thanks for reading,

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Party Animals… and Vegetables

The two suspects.
Notice the sly look on that teakettle, though…

I’m starting to realize the grim truth: I’m outnumbered and surrounded–by my appliances. Last week, the toaster oven and the gas stove rebelled… on the very same night.

In support of our quest to eat more super-healthy foods, I picked up some sea scallops on special. A salad and a dish of fresh veggies, ready for stir-frying, sat in the fridge. The plan? Broil the scallops and cook a batch of quinoa to go with them, while stir-frying the, um, stir-fry.

Simple enough, right?

But I reckoned without those appliances of mine.

According to the package directions, quinoa cooks up like rice, taking about 15 minutes to absorb all the water once it’s come to a boil. So when the quinoa and water boiled, I turned down the flame to simmer, again according to directions. Then my attention turned to the plump discs of seafood greatness.

It seemed silly to heat our large oven just to broil 3/4 pound of scallops, so out came the toaster oven. Lightly crumple up some foil, spray it with olive oil, and fit it into the shallow toaster-oven baking sheet. Boom — a makeshift broiling pan.

After giving the quinoa a sportsmanlike head start, I set the toaster oven to “broil” and cranked the temperature all the way up. A dash of olive oil on the neatly arranged scallops, and into the oven they went. Now for the veggies.

Several stir-frying minutes later, I opened the toaster oven to turn the scallops. To my horror, they weren’t browning on top. A broth had formed, nearly filling up the makeshift foil pan. The scallops looked more like they were relaxing in a hot tub than getting cooked.

What to do?

I’ll spare you the sad details of scallop broth splashing over the floor as I ferried the little pan to the sink. No seafood was left behind, though. Or in this case, none went down the drain.

I’d have to sauté the scallops.

Fine. I shoved the veggies to one side and popped the scallops into the same skillet.

Minutes later, they were ready. Great–now to serve up the quinoa.

I lifted the lid to access the fluffy side dish.

Instead, the little seeds literally floated around in the pan, still up to their necks in water. Here we had yet another hot-tub party, and me not even invited.

Tasting a few grains, I found them pretty much done, so I cranked up the flame to accelerate the process.

Eventually everything was done enough, the floor mopped up, and dinner was


Perhaps some day I’ll be able to regulate the stove flame, and maybe even find a true broiling pan that will fit in the toaster oven.

Meanwhile, sandwiches sound more appealing all the time.

Thanks for reading,


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Counted With the Stars, by Connilyn Cossette

It is like you are there.

In Counted With the Stars, Connilyn Cossette vividly paints city life in Egypt during the time of the Pharaohs. She imagines the return of the Hebrew runaway, Moses, and the exodus of the Hebrew slaves… all through the eyes of a young Egyptian woman whose father was forced to sell her into slavery.

Cossette’s thoroughly researched story illuminates Moses’ plagues and what they must have meant to the Egyptians, while her seamless prose puts you right in the middle of the action.

I loved spending time with the realistic characters in this Great Weekend Read.

Available at:, Barnes & Noble, and

OR visit Connilyn’s Author website by clicking here.

Thanks for reading,

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Accuracy is Everything

We’ve had unseasonably warm weather in North Texas this fall. No one should be surprised at this, because our weather is always “unseasonably” something. When it isn’t unseasonably hot, it’s unseasonably cool. Rainfall? Either unseasonably wet or unseasonably dry.

We never ever have weather that’s “seasonable.”

But that isn’t what I meant to tell you.

Today’s sad tale revolves around this really cute old thermometer from my grandmother’s town. My parents still had it, and I kept it for sentimental reasons (just as I’m keeping an unconscionable number of other old family items). Not wanting to throw away something so cute and useful, we mounted it outside on a wall of our patio.

One warm day while we were hanging out on the patio, we checked the outdoor temperature, which read 78 degrees (Fahrenheit), as shown in the photo. It felt warmer than that, so I looked on my phone app and found we were actually at 86 degrees.

“That thermometer doesn’t work any more,” Brent said. “We might as well get rid of it.”

I protested. “But it’s a closed glass tube! How can it malfunction? It isn’t even an appliance!” (eye twitch)

In an effort to save its cuteness, I tried pushing the glass tube up so that the red filling lined up with the correct temperature, 86 degrees.
Then I looked closely at the bottom of the tube. The bulb was lined up in the middle of the square, where it’s supposed to be. I realized that the tube had simply slipped down out of place.

The thermometer was working fine. The problem was that we didn’t have it properly lined up against the objective standard of the markings.

The same thing happens when we form opinions and beliefs without holding our ideas against a standard of truth. If we don’t have all the facts, it’s too easy to combine speculation with our biases and end up believing the wrong thing.

Not that I wouldn’t prefer the temperature to be 78 degrees…

Thanks for reading,

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I’m a “Guest in Jest”

Here’s a selfie of Linda and her
Great Dane, Walter.
She did not specify which of them
took the picture.

I’m movin’ on up… to Maine… Not physically, but today I’m guest posting on “mainepaperpusher’s” blog, revealingly titled “Everyone Else Has the Best Titles.” Her Friday “Guest in Jest” series came to my attention via another blog. So yeah, we met online, but not in a creepy way. For instance, Linda has never offered me free candy and, as far as I know, doesn’t even own an old van. (She drives a Saab.)

If you can stand my goofy posts, I think you’ll enjoy her. So please check out her blog (and my humble post about yet another kitchen disaster) by clicking this link.

Thanks for clicking — and reading!

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