So glad for Octobers!

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I'm a little leery of Fall. 

I like cardigans, cider, and boots, but Fall comes a little too close to Winter to make me truly comfortable.

That said, I'm a big fan of Halloween. 

I LOVE LOVE LOVE the creativity and imagination that goes with Halloween. A single day, every year that we collectively decide to be who or whatever it is that we dare to dream up. 

Also. What other day of the year does your entire neighborhood come to your doorstep and ring your doorbell?

We live in a cookie cutter neighborhood that I have a love/hate relationship with. On the one hand, I went to ART SCHOOL. I like original. I don't do planned neighborhoods. The fact that my house looks like my next-door-neighbor's, and the one across the street AND the one 2 houses down, etc., etc., etc., really bothers me — even though our brick and shutters ARE different colors. As if we those changes would make us forget. . . 

On the other hand, there are kids EVERYWHERE. We have a neighborhood pool. There's a greenway and creek that run alongside our neighborhood. We have sidewalks and a big yard. It is really quite perfect for our family right now. 

And yet, I know only the few families who live 2 or 3 houses to the left and right of my own. I realize no great lasting friendships are going to emerge from this one night, but I still think it's pretty amazing that despite all the junk going on in this world, on October 31st, I will have 300+ stranger/neighbors come to my house, while my own daughters giggle their way to each of their houses. 

I think we could use a little more of that all year long. 


So tonight, I got to doodling. I've been thinking of making a desktop wallpaper for some time, but never knew what to make. I wasn't going to do anything for October, but this ghost that has been haunting my sketchbooks for years finally showed me where he belonged.  :) 

Perhaps this will be the start of something fun I do every month. Would you like to see a new one next month?   

I hope you enjoy!! 

Click the buttons below to download:

Feel free to give me a virtual high-five by tagging me on Instagram if you want to share your workspace (I love seeing them!) or sharing on Pinterest!

Tomatillo Salsa Verde

It's mid-October. The leaves on the trees are falling, but the temperature is finding a way to hang out around 75 – 80 degrees here in Nashville. 

I shouldn't still be making salsa, but I am.

This summer I decided to plant 5 tomatillo plants. I love having tomatillos in my garden! The way they grow is the coolest thing ever with their lantern husks! The past couple of years I only planted 2, but as the flowers cannot be pollinated from flowers on the same plant, I've never had what you would call a bumper crop. 

So this year, I went crazy and planted 5. 

So far, I've made & frozen at least 40 cups of tomatillo salsa, plus the sauces that we've made and eaten right away. Of my 5 tomatillo plants, 3 of them are still going strong with flowers, bees and ripening fruit. There's no stopping them. 

Seriously. I just brought in another 10 - 15 tomatillos today. 

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The great thing about tomatillos salsa is it's easy to make, REALLY REALLY REALLY good, and very versatile. You can eat it with chips, on tacos, and the normal fare, but equally amazing on grilled chicken, pork, steak, or fish. Another way I love to use it is adding it to my salad, along with my homemade ranch dressing. Earlier this week, I even added it to a late night bowl of egg drop soup when I didn't have green onions or cilantro to mix in and it was wonderful!  

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INGREDIENTS

3 jalapeno or serrano chiles
6 medium tomatillos
2 bunches fresh cilantro
1 small white onion - quartered
6 garlic cloves
coarse salt and ground pepper
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, plus more to taste
1/4 cup grapeseed oil

DIRECTIONS

Cut the chiles into quarters and remove seeds. For a spicier salsa, leave a few of the seeds in. Husk and quarter the tomatillos.

Cut off the bottom 2 - 3 inches of tough stems from each cilantro bunch. Set aside the leaves and tender stems. 

Nate and I have an ongoing debate regarding the correct way to prepare cilantro. He tends to take the pile of cilantro and remove each and every leaf, stem-by-stem. There's a very good chance that he's correct and this is the proper way to work with cilantro — he knows a lot more than me when it comes to cooking — but I just can't. Many of my favorite recipes to cook include cilantro and I have never once heard a complaint or regretted just chopping off the bottom of the stems. 

You do whatever you want, but I think I'll stick to my way. 

In a food processor, throw in the chiles, tomatillos, cilantro, onion, garlic, 1 tablespoon each of salt and pepper, and 2 tablespoons lime juice. Pulse several times until combines, but still fairly chunky. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper, and lime juice as needed. The salsa should be a vibrant green color. 

Serve right away, or tightly cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. If you've made a large batch, freezing it works well. 

Enjoy!

xoxo, Lori Danelle

Tomatillo Salsa Verde

Introducing: Holiday Photo Cards!

Every year I have grand plans for offering Holiday photo cards, but for one reason or another, it doesn't happen. 

UNTIL THIS YEAR!!! 

I'm so excited to have these cards ready for you!

To order, head over to the shop, pick your design, send me your photos & I'll send you the files needed to print with your preferred printer — whether it's mpix, Costco, or even your home desktop printer!!! 

Paleo/Gluten Free Waffles

Switching to a Paleo diet has been hard in some ways. But generally just when I'm being a whiner and don't want to stretch myself or think outside of what I've always known. 

Growing up, I had a favorite waffle recipe that until a couple of months ago, I even had taped to the inside of one of my cupboard doors. Waffles were my second favorite breakfast food ever, falling just shy of chicken fried chicken with biscuits and gravy. 

When we decided to adopt Paleo for the whole family, I thought I was saying goodbye to many of my favorite foods, waffles included. 

But as we go farther and farther on our Paleo journey, I'm discovering that I haven't left anything behind and have started viewing this as an adventure rather than a forced march! (This week we made pulled pork tamales. . . without corn and they were uh-mazing. I can't wait to share them with you.) I'm just having to retrain my brain to think about the food I eat differently and develop a new normal. 

So waffles. 

I somehow managed to hit the jackpot on the very first try. We even fed these to one of C's 10-year-old friends and she asked for seconds, never knowing that they were grain free. 

I've incorporated a couple of things from my childhood recipe into this one and am excited to share these with you. I hope you enjoy them as much as my girls and I do & maybe even give you hope that eating well doesn't have to mean eating cardboard!! 

Also, this only makes about 4 waffles. . . so you may want to double it. :) 

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INGREDIENTS

(I've added links within the ingredient list to what we use at our house for those just venturing into Paleo/gluten free/grain free cooking. I know it can be a bit daunting setting up your pantry & a little advice can be helpful!) 

1 cup blanched almond flour
1 cup tapioca flour
2 Tablespoons coconut flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 eggs
1/4 cup melted ghee
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 cup almond milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

DIRECTIONS

Preheat waffle iron

Mix all liquid ingredients in a mixing bowl until fully blended.

In a separate bowl, mix together all dry ingredients.

While whisking liquid ingredients on low, slowly add dry mixture. Whisk for 2 minutes or until batter has thickened. Batter will be similar to a thin pancake batter. 

Fill waffle iron with batter and follow manufacturers instructions, baking until crisp and slightly browned. 

Serve immediately with ghee, maple syrup or any other toppings of your choice.
But most of all, ENJOY! 

Ghee: Paleo Butter

When our family first adopted a Paleo diet, there were several things I thought I could not possibly live without. 

Like butter. 

Turns out, I didn't have to. I just needed to look at things differently and learn a new way to do things. 

You can purchase Ghee at the store, but it so easy to make at home, I really don't know why you would. Plus, it can be a bit pricey and I haven't heard good reports regarding the taste. 

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INGREDIENTS

1 pound of unsalted butter

(yup. that's it.)

DIRECTIONS

Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 250 degrees. Put the butter into a Dutch oven and bake uncovered until all the water evaporates and the milk solids turn golden brown —  about 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours. It is important to allow the solids to become well toasted as it gives the ghee its nutty flavor. 

We use this gravy/fat separator with strainer, but you could line a fine-mesh strainer with 3 layers of cheesecloth that overhang the edges and set over a large bowl instead. 

Let the ghee cool slightly, then pour into the strainer and let sit until all the ghee is extracted. You don't want any of the milk solids to slip through, as this would compromise both the flavor and the shelf life.  Throw out the solids — leaving it dairy free — and pour ghee into a storage container. 

All my research tells me that cooled ghee can be stored at room temperature for up to 3 months (always use a clean spoon/knife) or refrigerated for up to 1 year. 

*******

I usually buy butter in bulk at either Costco or Sam's Club and throw it all in the Dutch oven at one time, lengthening the time in the oven if needed. Then I store it in lidded glass jars and keep one on the counter to use and store the rest in the refrigerator for later. 

We use it just like butter on sweet potatoes, waffles (grain-free of course!), and in baking. 

Enjoy!!

Kool-Aid Hair Dye

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To be honest, I love this dip dyed hair trend. In college, I often was sporting streaks of pink, purple, or blue. I think this dip dye approach looks a whole lot better than what I used to put my hair through! 

I'm of the opinion, that my kids can do WHATEVER they want to with their hair. 

It's hair. 

It will grow back. 

And now that we're homeschooling & don't have to worry about school dress code rules, we decided to give the kool-aid trend a try. 

See below for instructions!  :) 

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How to Dip Dye your hair with Kool-Aid

Make sure your hair is completely dry, brushed, and in a low ponytail.

Boil 1.5 cups of water + 2 packets of Kool-Aid – we used cherry for my daughter with dark brown hair & raspberry lemonade for my daughter with dark blonde hair. The blue did not turn out at all, even though standard hair color has worked for her much better in the past. If you're set on trying blue, I would add more packets, and perhaps lengthen the time as well. Otherwise, I'd pick a red, or maybe purple. :) 

Once boiling, pour into a heat safe mug or cup & submerge the end of your ponytail is soon as possible. THE WATER IS VERY HOT. BE INCREDIBLY CAREFUL!! 

I just had the girls sit in chairs backed up to the kitchen counter & watch a movie on their iPads. Periodically, I would swish their hair around & break up any clumps to make sure all of the hair was getting saturated. 

After 30 minutes, use an old towel to squeeze or blot excess water out, then let hair dry COMPLETELY. We used a blow dryer to speed up the process. Wash as normal. 

The results is beautiful, vibrant & fun color that is theoretically temporary.. . .  :) We're going on about a month with it in P's hair & have seen very little fading. 

What do you think? Should I do mine next?  :) 

xoxo Lori Danelle

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Let's Doodle Together!! September

The September list is ready to go! 

I didn't get to draw daily liked I hoped in August, so fingers crossed that I get in to a better routine and complete more of the prompts! 

I've love to have you join me in this creative challenge! Gather your art supplies and let's get creative together! Use this list to spark your creativity, but do not feel you have to follow it to the letter. If the prompt is Lemon, but you don't like lemons, draw an orange, or a bicycle. The point is to just get drawing & have fun doing it!! Feel free to set your own boundaries, print out this list to keep the daily prompts handy and be sure to post your doodles on Instagram and tag them #LetsDoodleSeptember so we can see each other's work! 

Can't wait to see what we create!!!

Let's Doodle Together!! August

A few years ago, I participated in my friend's sketch-a-day challenge. I loved the exercise of getting myself to draw every day & had so many ideas come out of it that I never would have come to on my own. 

I love lettering, but also have been really wanting to push my illustration skills so I decided it was time to jump back into a daily drawing challenge! 

The one problem I ran into with the previous sketch-a-day challenge is that I often let it consume my day & it became more of a "daily-finished-art-piece" than a true sketch. So, I've added some boundaries for myself. I'm calling it a doodle rather than a sketch or drawing, because doodles are fun, quick & not perfect, and I'm giving myself a 20 minute time limit. If it takes longer than that, it's not a doodle & it becomes another project. These are doodles. :) 

Beyond that, the sky is the limit. I can work in color, or not. I can draw on paper, a napkin, or my iPad – which, with my schedule is probably what I'll mostly be doing. It can be an image or words. 

I've love to have you join me in this creative challenge! Gather your art supplies and let's get creative together! Use this list to spark your creativity, but do not feel you have to follow it to the letter. If the prompt is Lemon, but you don't like lemons, draw an orange, or a bicycle. The point is to just get drawing & have fun doing it!! Feel free to set your own boundaries, print out this list to keep the daily prompts handy and be sure to post your doodles on Instagram and tag them #LetsDoodleAugust so we can see each other's work! 

Can't wait to see what we create!!!

How to Fix your Squeaky Stairs

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It's been awhile since I shared the everyday tips & tricks that I'm doing around my house, but I always enjoyed it, so I thought I'd start it back up.

Plus, you need to know about this. :) 

The master bedroom in our house is right next to the stairs. My daughters and I, particularly in the summer, are night owls. Nate, on the other-hand, is not. This is mostly due to the fact that he gets up around 4:30 am (I have no idea how he does this) to work out and then beat Nashville traffic into work. We love him & all that he does for us!!

Our stairs have always creaked, but recently they've gone to a whole new level making it impossible for anyone to go up or down the stairs without waking our hard-working, but very exhausted man. So the other night, I decided there had to be something we could do. 

Turns out there is. 

There's a brilliant little kit out there called the Squeeeek No More Floor Repair kit that I truly wish I had thought up myself. It's so smart. 

First, you have to find the floor joist, or in my case the saw-tooth looking board running under the stairs called the stringer (no, I didn't know that before this project!) that runs on both sides of the stairs and often the middle using the included joist finding tool. 

I found that mine was 18.5" from either edge, so I measured over on each step and aligned the included depth control tool.

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I then used my drill to screw in the specially scored screws with the customized driver bit. 

The depth control tool will case you to stop with the screw head about 1 inch out of the carpet. Never fear. This is on purpose. Just be careful if you're walking around with bare feet! 

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This is where the magic happens! 

The depth control tool has a notch that you will then slip over the head of the screw. 

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 Simply turn the tool to the side with a little bit of force, and . . . 

 . . . the screw SNAPS OFF JUST BELOW the surface of the wood floor! 

What??!?!?! I told you this was ingenious.  

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Crazy easy and because the screw breaks below the surface of the floor, nothing for you to step on or feel on your feet, doesn't mess up your carpet. . . . all-in-all, BRILLIANT. 

In our case, the stairs do still creak some. . . but my daughter literally just ran up the stairs as I'm typing this sentence and I only heard one small pop – which is a million times better than it was 3 days ago! – but I think that it due more to how our stairs were built than to the failure of this product. :) 

So, if you also have creaky stairs, or floor, quit thinking there's nothing you can do about it and go grab this kit. . . and some extra screws. You'll need them. ;) 

Recipe: Peppernuts

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I've been posting pictures of them on Instagram & unless you know me personally or live in an area with Swiss/German Mennonite roots, you've probably been wondering: What in the world are peppernuts??? 

I hear that a lot. 

They're a tiny cookie made with Christmas-y spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and anise oil. 

Though a bit labor intensive, I beg you to give these a try, especially since it's an ideal activity to make with help. Now that my girls are old enough to actual offer up USEFUL assistance, we've made it our tradition to roll out the dough over a Christmas movie. I've also thought it would be fun to invite some friends over to chat, drink wine & roll peppernut dough. (Want to join me?)  

My Grandma has been making these as long as I can remember, making them in time for Thanksgiving and not letting the peppernut jar run dry until after New Year's. I didn't even realize what a novelty they were until I moved away, and have since enjoyed making the tradition my own. 

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Melt in Your Mouth Peppernuts

1 cup butter
1 and 1/2 C. sugar
1 beaten egg
2 T. dark syrup
3 and 3/4 C. flour
2 t. baking soda
1 t. cloves
1 t. ginger
2 t. cinnamon
1 t. nutmeg
1 t. anise oil (or 2 t. anise extract)

Cream butter, sugar, syrup and egg. Add dry ingredients and anise oil.

The dough is really stiff, so for the sake of your mixer, don't make a double batch. I personally just follow one batch immediately with another. The dough will also look a bit crumbly. If you're worried that it's not going to stick together at all, you can add a little water, one Tablespoon at a time – but would not add more than 3 Tablespoons.

Divide the dough into 3 or 4 balls & then chill the dough.  

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This is the part where it's fun to have friends or at least a movie. :)

Working with 1 dough ball at a time (the rest stay in the fridge), roll out into long snakes the size of your little finger. Again, sometimes the dough can be a bit crumbly. The trick is to develop a smoosh-roll technique. Roll it out gently, if it starts to crumble a bit, smoosh it back together and then keep rolling. It's taken many years to perfect. ;)

Keep chilled. I like to roll out all my dough at once, piling it high on a rimmed cookie sheet in the freezer. Putting them in the freezer makes them a bit easier to work with.

Slice into small pieces and bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes or until lightly browned. Let cool on paper towels spread out on your counter. 

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One more weird fact for you: This is probably the only cookie that isn't better directly out of the oven. I know. Weird, right? 

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They're amazing by themselves, but try them with coffee. Trust me.

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So. Good. And addicting. You've been warned. :) 

Let me know how you like them!

xoxo—Lori

In case you'd like to know more about these little cookies, here's some more background information I've dug up: 

Like most baked goods, there are many variations of peppernuts. While most recipes call for cloves and cinnamon, some also use nutmeg or anise. A Danish recipe for pebernødder requires white pepper, while most recipes don’t use pepper at all. Some versions of the German pfeffernüsse contain pecans, ginger, or cardamom.

In the Netherlands, St Nicolas, patron of children, sailors and the city of Amsterdam, arrives by boat from Spain with his white horse and his helpers, chimney sweeps called Petes, to assist him. It is a busy time for St Nick, crossing the roofs with his horse while the Petes take the presents down the chimneys. Traditionally, the Petes also scatter “pepernoten” around for the kids.

German Mennonite women used to make the dough several weeks before Christmas and let it chill for up to a week in a cold cellar to let the flavors mellow.

Years ago, a reader on my blog, excited to see a photo of what she called “our peppernuts”, shared that her husband’s grandmother made them every year. Her mother-in-law didn’t share the recipe with her until she had been married for 25 years as it was a closely guarded family recipe that they knew had been in the family for at least 150 years. She was told that each village or family had their own shape and version of peppernuts, and the recipes were never shared outside the family.