Archive for Hearth and Home

Best Sweet and Spicy Nut Mix

Best Sweet and Spicy Nut Mix


Looking for a new nut mix recipe for a party this weekend? If you like spicy nut mixes, this one is the best nut mix around! Many years back, a friend served this amazing Sweet and Spicy Nut Mix and I immediately begged for the recipe! She said that EVERYONE reacts this way and shared this with me.

“Best Sweet and Spicy Nut Mix”


1 lb mixed nuts (unsalted)
3 tsp melted butter
2 T fresh rosemary
2 tsp dark brown sugar
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper


  • Toast the nuts at 350 for 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile mix the other ingredients.
  • When nuts are done, pour the butter mixture over them and stir. A really good way to mix it up is to put the nuts in a Tupperware container, put on the lid and shake!

What Simple Things Make You a Better Parent?

I’m sipping tea right now and thinking about how better I parent when I take just five minutes for myself in the morning. I haven’t always done even that–”me time” falls by the wayside if you have newborns or you do not have family support (either temporarily or long-term). Still, it really does make a difference in how patient and present I am throughout the rest of the day.

Currently I am drinking a mix called “Spring Thunder” from a local tea cottage: Assam and China Green Teas, coconut, and lime and sunflower petals.

In a few minutes I will start slicing fruit to take the kids to a play date. But for just a moment, I am recharging my own batteries.

What’s your cup of tea?

When First We Practice to Deceive

I know toddlers lie.

Probably because they are confused, embarrassed, scared, or just haven’t learned not to yet.

What I was not expecting is that a 24 month old child could actual practice the art of deception with a complex ruse.

My husband had planned to come home for lunch and mentioned his visit to our daughter. Then he got stuck at work. I broke the news to Daddy’s Girl and she took it fairly well, but casually told me that “Daddy come home for lunch and give baby cookie.”

Generally, she considers fruit dessert, but she had just had her birthday party and various relatives and friends were sneaking her treats.

Normally I would not give her a cookie at lunch but I did not want to disappoint her twice. Since Daddy had said she’d get a cookie, I decided to make good on his promise and give her one.

Later, my husband got home from work and starts playing with baby. Over the monitor, I hear her proclaim, “Mommy give you two cookies at lunch.”

Husband calls out, “Honey, did you give her two cookies?”

I respond, “No, I gave her one…and only because you promised her one.”

Husband replies, “No, I didn’t.”

Already she is playing Daddy and Mommy off each other in such a clever way. What else does she have up her sleeve?

Photo from

Baby’s New Valance Boxes

My father put up Valance Boxes to keep more light out of my light sleeper’s room. And they sat unfinished for a while, but I finally got some fabric and Papa covered the boxes.

Here’s the first window, with a handcrafted puzzle that was made the year I was born and originally was in my room and also a butterfly table I picked up at a crafts fair for my daughter:

The other window, cat purchased separately:

Close up of the valance:

Win a Copy of Deceptively Delicious!

I have an extra (brand new) copy of Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food.

This book has generated some controversy–so read it and decide for yourself!

Fans claim that this is the way to get picky eaters to enjoy nutritious foods. Detractors are concerned about everything from the idea of tricking your kids to the time-intensive puree preparation.

Mixing veggies and fruits in with other foods is nothing new–my grandmother used to mash spinach into my mom’s potatoes. And, although I’m blessed with a little one who is the opposite of picky, I’ll sometimes put some veggies into her mac and cheese just to add additional vitamins. And you don’t have to actually be deceptive about it if you aren’t comfortable with the idea–the recipes still give you ideas about possible combinations to try.

If you are interested in winning a copy from me:

  • Just leave me a comment with your kiddo’s favorite food (or if you don’t have a kid yet, let me know yours) by 11:59 PM, Friday April 25th.
  • I’m on Blogger, so you’ll need to leave me a valid URL or e-mail where I can reach you. I’ll ship to any US, Canadian, or US Military address. If you don’t want to do that, use a nickname and then shoot me an e-mail at mamaluxe at gmail dot com to tell me what nickname you used.

If you’d like to get to know more about me and my family, why thank you! Here’s some posts that may interest you…please come comment and make my day:

If you’d like to enter more contests, check out The Bloggy Giveaways Carnival, this contest post is part of that carnival! Also, we have lots of contests on Mamanista, my baby gear review blog.

Y’all Come Back Now, Y’hear!!!

Pregnancy Week 5: Peeing on a Stick

So, I was half hoping I was pregnant and half hoping that maybe we could wait a few more months, settle into our new house, and then start trying again. But I just had this funny feeling that I was pregnant.

The weekend before I found out, hubby took us out to a Greek restaurant. We love it there–great meat dishes for him, great vegetarian food for me, and baby can eat just about everything on the menu. Just as I walked in, I felt a sudden acid reflux (which I never get) and thought, I must be pregnant.

I was planning to take the test in the morning with Cpt. Dad around–but wouldn’t you know it? Little Diva decided to sleep in curled up on the bed with me. So, by the time we woke up, he had left for work. We went into the bathroom so I could take the test and sure enough: Pregnant.

I couldn’t wait to tell my husband! With our first child, I found out I was pregnant two days after he deployed to Iraq and gave birth two days before he came home on mid-tour leave. This time, I did not want to tell him over the phone. This time, the whole experience would be in person.

I told my girl that there was a small baby growing inside mommy and that she was going to be a big sister. When I said, “Big Sister,” she pointed to herself, and, “little baby,” to my stomach. Not even sixteen months’ yet, and already she’s my big girl!

We were hoping to tell Daddy together, but he did not come home until past her bedtime, so we made a little “Big Sis” sign and put it on the bedroom door. When Cpt. Dad arrived home, I told him our daughter had a message for him and to check the door. It was all I could do to stifle the giggle!

Then I heard, “Really?” And, “Are you sure?” (that was his reaction last time, too)

Week 5 is, of course, rather uneventful if everything is going well. It is hard to resist the urge to keep taking pregnancy tests because the whole thing seems rather unreal in the beginning.

I did start feeling pretty tired, and thirsty, right away. Those were my two main first trimester symptoms last time, as well.

Because I was still breastfeeding my little girl, I was still on Prenatal Vitamins and not drinking more than a glass of wine here or there. Abstaining from wine and beer for the first trimester is no hardship, though I do love to go tasting and we are right in wine country here, but the biggest sacrifice is giving up blue cheese. Boy do I love myself a nice stinky, moldy piece of cheese! Fortunately, there are plenty of pasteurized cheeses that are less risky for me to enjoy.

Since it was early December, we decided to wait until Christmas to break the news to family and friends–what a fun present! I’ll explain how we shared the news in my next catch up post.

I’m in Week Eleven right now, playing catch-up with my online friends. Check out Conception Preparation and Pregnancy Week 4.

Halloween Party Ideas for Scribbit’s Winter Bazaar

Winter Bazaar at Scribbit

I’ve already shared my Halloween Recipe for Spicy Witch Fingers (click for a pic of these and the Monster Toes) with you as part of Mamanista’s Halloween Recipe Contest/Carnival, so here are a few more Halloween ideas:

Food and Beverage:

  • Severed Monster Toes: Make pigs in a blanket with mini-franks and crescent dough, make marks for knuckles and add ketchup for blood.
  • Monster Brains: Serve guacamole, salsa, or dip in a hollowed out pumpkin with a apainted face!
  • Jello Brains: Get a Jello Brain Mold and surround with gummy worms or spaghetti. For an adult party, you may wish to add vodka, but be careful, the results may be scary.
  • Beverages: For an adult party, serve “blood” (sangria) and mulled wine and spiced cider.
  • More Recipes: A friend shared this EXCELLENT link with a bunch of Haunted Halloween Recipes (warning: there are pictures and some are very gross).


  • Eerie Entrance: Cover a hallway with black plastic trash bags and light with a black light. Hand your guests white out pens as they enter.
  • Giant Hanging Spider: Paint a large beach ball black and add eyes and fangs. Create eight legs out of paper links. Suspend from ceiling and tape the middle of the legs to the ceiling so just the last part of each leg hangs down.
  • Mood Lighting: Take out at least a few light bulbs and replace with red or green lights.


  • Anne Boleyn Costume: Get a rubber hand and cut off all but the thumb (leaving attached). Get a Renaissance style dress from a thrift store. Wear light (ghostly) make up and paint a red ring around your neck.
  • Ghostly Games: Here’s another link for Halloween Kids’ Games.

Also, I’ll be making my Halloween Music Mix, soon…Monster Mash, of course…I Put A Spell On You, naturally…Werewolves of London, Little Red Riding Hood…please share your ideas, too!

This is just a few off the top of my head to share. I’ll be adding more this month, I’m sure, including the BEST RECIPE FOR PUMPKIN BREAD I’ve ever tasted. You can also check out my product review blog for cool Halloween Costumes and Deals.

Here’s a picture of a portion of our spread one year:

Halloween Table

Spicy Witch Fingers

Over at Mamanista! we’re having a Kooky Carnival, where bloggers and webmasters who contribute a will be entered to win an e-subscription to What’s Cooking and a copy of the Shrek Cookbook.

I’m not entering since I own that blog, too, but here’s my recipe for Spicy Witch Fingers:


12 fresh jalapeno peppers, halved lengthwise and cleaned of seeds, etc.
1 red bell pepper
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese, cheddar cheese, or monterey jack cheese
Spices to taste: garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cayenne pepper
1 cup breadcrumbs
salsa, for serving


  1. Halve and clean jalapenos carefully (most people will want to use gloves)
  2. Mix together cream cheese, shredded cheese and spices.
  3. Fill jalapeno peppers with cheese and spice mixture
  4. Roll stuffed peppers in bread crumbs**
  5. Cut the red bell pepper into mini-triangles for witch nails and press into the narrow end of the jalapeno.***
  6. Cook at 350 for 30 minutes on a greased pan or on foil.
  7. Serve with bloody salsa or other dip if desired.

** Some people like to dip the peppers first in flour, then in a well-beaten egg, then the bread crumbs

*** If prepping ahead, you can freeze these.

Captain Dad shows off my spicy witch fingers and bloody monster toes.

She’s a Vegetarian…

Amy, Crunchy Domestic Goddess that she is, wants us to know that October 1 is World Vegetarian Day and she is asking you to go veggie for a day.

I’m a vegetarian every day, and have been since I was 12. I could attempt to convince Captain Dad. Although he does eat some veggie meals now, he is very much a carnivore and usually has at least one meal with meat a day.

I became a vegetarian gradually. First I stopped eating veal. Then I stopped eating red meat because I never really was a red meat fan. Finally I just decided I did not want to eat any meat because I just did not like the idea. My mom probably thought it was a stage…but here I am, still a vegetarian.

I do, however, cook meat. And Baby Diva has chicken and turkey. I do not have any moral issue with eating meat. I just, personally, don’t.

However, I agree with Amy that it would be good on several levels if people in general cut back a little on meat consumption.

I asked my husband which of my veggie recipes I should share and he suggested “Peanut Noodles.” This goes well with a tofu and veggie stir-fry.

package linguine
2 parts peanut butter
2 parts soy sauce
1 part honey
spices: ginger, cayenne pepper, garlic powder to taste
Dash of sesame oil (optional)
garnish: chopped peanuts and cilantro (optional)

1. Cook linguine to package directions. Blanch and drain.
2. Mix peanut butter, soy sauce, honey and spices.
3. Combine noodles with sauce and refrigerate for at least an hour. Garnish as desired.

Enjoy World Vegetarian Day!

I Saw The Sign

Teach your baby sign language and she’ll be able to communicate with you BEFORE SHE CAN EVEN TALK.

Sounds great, right?

Well, it is…but make sure you want to know what’s on the mind of a one year-old before you give her the ability to gesticulate what she’s thinking.

Apparently “food” is on her mind. And “more food.” And “nursing.”

Oh, and she likes to tell you that she is “all done” when you are doing something she doesn’t like, such as clipping her nails or wiping her face.

Sorry, kiddo. You may be all done, but we aren’t.

Babies also do the over generalizing thing with signs that they do with spoken words.

At first, Baby Diva only used the food sign when she was hungry. Then, she started emphatically insisting she wanted to eat moments after I fed her a large meal. I would hand her a snack and she would push it away and sign more frantically. Finally, she picked up a book and stuck it in her mouth.

Okay, that makes sense. She chews on her books, so obviously they are food.

Food for thought, sweetie.

Besides, if she signs “eat” and points to something, she usually gets it. So why bother being more precise if mommy will figure out what she wants, anyway?

And then there is the sign for milk, our darling’s first sign!

Captain Dad is playing with the Diva and Mama is getting a moment of relaxation when all of a sudden, two figures appear.

Captain Dad, carrying Baby Diva sedan-chair style announces, “She wants to nurse.”

“How do you know?”

“She told me.” To emphasize the point, Baby Diva solemnly lifts one hand and makes the tell-tale squeezing motion.

If she’s really hungry, she uses both hands–as if to say, “This is a two mammary meal, mommy!” I’m sure it will only be a matter of time before she is chasing me around the house, squeezing both hands, looking like a demented crab.

A few weeks ago I had the bright idea to reintroduce the sign for “more.”

Baby Diva loves this sign and now more or less uses it to indicate the opposite of “all done.” At first, however, she failed to grasp that this magical sign was a modifier.

So, for about a week non-stop she would constantly put her finger tips together to ask for “more.”

“More,” what, baby girl?

More everything mommy.