The 12 Posts of Christmas, Day 2: Spiced Nuts

Inside: Need something quick and simple to bring to that Christmas party you forgot about? Look no further! Spiced Nuts are ready in no time, and you’ll love the aroma wafting from your kitchen, not to mention the taste!

12 posts of christmas spiced nuts
Mmm. . . Bet you can’t eat just one–handful, that is! Picture courtesy of Emily Moore.

So you’ve been busy all day with last-minute Christmas to-dos when you remember you promised to bring a festive food to the party!

Enter Spiced Nuts.

Great for so many occasions as well as being easy to make, and the spicy goodness wafting from the kitchen is heavenly! I have given these as gifts and been asked for the recipe many times, and while it didn’t originate with me, it has become “my thing” to bring to Christmas parties and gatherings.

I also like the versatility of these. If you’re doing keto or low carb, use a stevia erythritol blend instead of sugar. Almonds work equally well as pecans for a less expensive option, and although I haven’t tried walnuts with this recipe, I imagine they’re just as good.

Give ’em a try. You’ll thank me.

Without further ado, here is the simple recipe.

Spiced Nuts
Author: 
Recipe type: Snack
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 16 - ¼ cup servings
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup of sugar (or sweetener to equal this amount)
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. allspice
  • ½ tsp. cumin
  • ½ tsp. cloves
  • ¼ tsp. nutmeg
  • ⅛ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 4 cups of pecan halves (or almonds or walnuts)
  • 2 egg whites, slightly beaten
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. In a small bowl combine the six spices and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, mix sugar (or sweetener) with egg whites.
  4. Add nuts and stir until they are coated well.
  5. Next toss in the spices, making sure they are evenly distributed throughout the mixture.
  6. Spread out nuts on a foil-lined baking pan.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes and stir them.
  8. Bake for 10 more minutes.
  9. Let cool and store in airtight container.
  10. Enjoy!
 

Spiced Nuts for the 12 Posts of Christmas.
Almonds–yum! Picture by Emily Moore.

Do you have a favorite go-to recipe for Christmas? Tell us about it in the comments.

Tomorrow, The 12 Posts of Christmas, Day 3: Our Prim Christmas Tree Forest

Related posts: The 12 Posts of Christmas, Day 1: A Simple Song

A Rural Girl’s Favorite Things Christmas Gift Guide

The Story of the Hillbilly Christmas Wreath

Winter Skies, Making and Baking, and Other News Fresh From the Farm

 

The 12 Posts of Christmas, Day 1: A Simple Song

Inside: The birth of a beloved Christmas song on day one of The 12 Posts of Christmas.

12 Posts of Christmas Happy Accident

A Simple Song

Bob Wells didn’t set out to write one of the most beloved Christmas songs when he penned words to help him stay cool on a blistering July day. But his scribblings about chestnuts roasting and Jack Frost, Yuletide carols and folks wearing warm clothing caught the eye of Mel Torme who arrived at Wells’ home for a writing session.

Torme had let himself into the Toluca Lake house, called out for Wells, and then wandered over to the piano, spotting his writing partner’s notes–four lines of a short poem. When Wells walked in, Torme asked him about it, and Wells confessed he was trying to cool himself off through his writing, but all he could think about was Christmas and cold weather. One line from the poem came from a childhood memory of Boston street vendors selling roasted chestnuts in paper cones.

Torme told his friend that he had something there and promptly sat down at the piano and composed a melody for the opening. Forty minutes later a song was born–“The Christmas Song.”

While I like Mel Torme’s version, nobody sings it quite like Nat King Cole. But my most favorite singers? My parents bursting out in a spontaneous duet, singing “The Christmas Song.”

You never know when the spark of something amazing can come from something so simple, like words jotted down on paper. I’m certainly glad Wells wrote down those cold weather thoughts that hot summer day back in 1945.

12 Posts of Christmas Simple Song
Chestnuts roasting but not sure about Jack Frost nipping.

What’s your favorite Christmas song? Tell us about it in the comments.

Tomorrow, The 12 Posts of Christmas, Day 2: Spiced Nuts.

Related posts: A Rural Girl’s Favorite Things Christmas Gift Guide

The Story of the Hillbilly Christmas Wreath

Winter Skies, Making and Baking, and Other News Fresh From the Farm

Winter Skies, Making and Baking, and Other News Fresh From the Farm

Inside: Winter sneaking up on us, crafting and cooking in December, and another approach to problem solving.

Winter skies, making baking.
December sky right outside my backdoor.

Winter Sneaking Up on Us

Is it just me, or is it cold outside?

This year it feels colder than usual, but that might be because I’ve had trouble breaking out the winter weather gear. Until about two weeks ago, I was wearing a T-shirt and grabbing a hooded jacket as I headed out the door. After thirty years of marriage, maybe Hubs not wearing a coat has influenced me.

For those who know Mike, they know he doesn’t wear a coat or jacket in the wintertime. I don’t notice it anymore, although it was odd the first year we dated. Now it would be strange if he suddenly started wearing a coat. He does keep a jacket in the car for emergencies to keep me happy. And, in case you’re wondering, he rarely gets sick. I’ve known him since 1985, and he’s had the flu twice in that time period. Colds and sniffles are few and far between. So I gave up protesting a long, long time ago.

As for me, I’m thinking I need to pay more attention to things like layering and fleece and fur-lined gloves. Lotion and lip balm. Keeping my humidifier filled and running. Making large batches of soup. Winter rituals that make the season less dark and gloomy as we wait for longer days under the sun.

Crafting and Cooking in December

Making primitive Christmas tree forest.
Mom’s been busy playing with sticks. Picture courtesy of Emily Moore.

The merry and bright season is in full swing around the farm. We’ve gotten busy with several projects, including our Hillbilly Christmas Wreath which is making the rounds on Pinterest. We made a prim Christmas tree forest, the trees made out of sticks you find in the yard, and Mom has taken the ball and run with it by making smaller ornaments, plus a larger tree. All with sticks and a few add-ons. Meanwhile I’ve been busy making an assortment of spiced nuts and other goodies in preparation for “The 12 Posts of Christmas,” running from December 14 through Christmas. Each day will be a short post (mostly) featuring crafts, recipes, reflections, or interesting facts and traditions of the season. It’s our gift to you, our amazing, cool, fabulous readers!

And if you’re looking for more holiday reading and how-tos, I did a guest post over at my good writer friend Margo Dill’s website Look to the Western Sky. She blogs on life as a single parent and the dreams of a writer (and author, too!), so open a few doors and take a peek inside while you’re there. You’ll be glad you did!

Another Approach to Problem Solving

If you’ve been attending church for a while, you’ve likely heard the advice to give your problems to God. Listening to the message at church last weekend, our pastor happened to bring up an analogy on the subject that I’ve been pondering. If your car needs fixing, he explained, you leave it with the mechanic. You don’t drive it back home, and you don’t pick it up before it’s fixed. That fits in with a scripture that has gently tapped me on the shoulder several times over the last month–one I hadn’t previously paid much attention to: Exodus 14:14 “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still” (NIV).

What an amazing promise! Kind of flies in the face of the tired and untrue old adage “God helps those who help themselves.”

Bundle up, friends, and stay warm–both inside and out!

Street decorated for Christmas.

What’s happening in your neck of the woods? Tell us about it in the comments.

Don’t forget! “The 12 Posts of Christmas” starts Thursday, December 14!

A Rural Girl's Favorite Things Christmas Gift GuideAnd if you’re looking for some last-minute gift ideas, check out A Rural Girl’s Favorite Things Christmas Gift Guide.

The Story of the Hillbilly Christmas Wreath

Inside: It started as a simple idea. . . 

The Story of the Hillbilly Christmas Tree
We christen thee “Hillbilly Christmas Wreath.”

It started as a simple idea. Last year I spotted a picture on Pinterest of a large tractor tire painted green and sporting a red bow. “We’ve got to do this,” I told Mom. It was the perfect Christmas project.

But a year ago Christmas was stressful. With Dad being in the hospital it was difficult for Mom to do all the things she loves to do this time of year, from baking and candy making to shopping to long December lunches out with family and friends. We barely fit in our yearly mother daughter traditions. The last thing on our minds was spray painting tires.

Fast forward 365, and so much has changed—Dad’s passing in January and dealing with the loss. Feeling his absence from the farm. He lived and worked here his whole life. He was as much a part of the homeplace as the barns and the fences and the trees.

Yet suddenly not.

He always wanted to do something big for Christmas, like put a star on top of the forty-foot silo, and I remember talking to him about decorating the huge pine in the yard of the two-story farmhouse where he grew up—“We could raise the loader bucket and someone could stand in there and . . .”

But we never did.

Dad was a dreamer. The doing part? Not so much. He had a dairy farm to run, after all, and between that and helping people, there wasn’t much left of him.

Mom has always been the doer in the family, and now that Dad’s gone, that part of her has gotten even stronger. Like just a week ago at a Christmas tree farm when Mike and I paused a moment to talk and then turned to see her halfway up the hill, dragging her tree behind her. That is so Mom.

So when I mentioned the tire again this fall, she said, “We’ve got to do it this year. It’ll be a surprise for the family.”

With the family gathering together this particular Christmas, we knew we’d need a little spark of cheer. Something to bring a bit of happiness in spite of Dad’s absence. Plus he would have loved the idea!

Once Thanksgiving was past, we found ourselves in the paint section of Walmart, debating the merits of emerald, forest, and moss green and estimating how much spray paint it would take to cover our tire. We settled on four cans of a forest green color and then moved to the fabric area where we chose a wide red plastic mesh ribbon for fashioning a bow. We were set—or so we thought.

Eager to get started, Mom rolled the tire into position by herself (she promises that it was easy to do) and propped it up. Later I showed up and we painted the tire a nice forest green color. But we noticed it didn’t “pop.” Up against the building and in the shade, it didn’t look much different than before it was painted. Back to Walmart for more supplies–more spray paint in a brighter color (hello emerald green), more poly mesh ribbon, and white lights. Another crafting session later, with more painting, bow affixing, and stringing lights, we stood back to admire our masterpiece. Mom dubbed our creation “The Hillbilly Christmas Wreath.”

And it was good.

The plan from there was for me to launch the post about it a day or two before Christmas, waiting long enough to surprise my out-of-town brothers, sisters-in-law, and nieces and nephews as well as my daughter and son-in-law down in the city. Mom snapped some pictures with her phone to send to a couple of friends who were privy to the project.

That night hard rains and high winds whipped at our little (big) tire. The bow had shifted downward, so we stood in the harsh cold breeze the next day, shoring it up with more wire. It was then she mentioned that a friend posted the picture of our wreath on the Internet. Several others had seen it and reposted it, with one person wanting to make his own wreath. She wasn’t sure we’d be able to keep it a secret.

“Maybe we shouldn’t wait,” she said. “Think about it.”

I told her I would, admittedly a little disappointed that our surprise for the family might not be revealed in person.

But the more I thought about it, another idea took hold. We had something special here. Our little (big) fledgling tire wreath was bringing people joy. And wasn’t that what Christmas was all about? We could think of others beyond ourselves, spreading a ripple effect of goodwill and cheer. Plus there’d be time enough for others to make their own tractor tire wreath. Dad would love that!

So there you have it–the story of our Hillbilly Christmas Wreath. But it doesn’t stop there. Friends, you can have a part in this. If our little (big) wreath makes you smile or the story resonates, pass the joy around. Tweet it, post it, pin it. Tell people about it.

Add another smile to the bunch.

Making the Hillbilly Christmas Wreath

*This post contains affiliate links.

The Making of the Hillbilly Christmas Wreath
Mom doing hick graffiti.

You will need:

Scrub off any mud or debris and drain any water from the inside if needed. You can drill holes in the bottom to keep rainwater from accumulating.

Spray paint the front, sides, and inside of the tire where it shows. We did not spray the back and some of the inside. You will need additional paint if you’re wanting to cover your tire completely.

Run lights around the tire. We spaced ours farther apart, going about 11 times around, so if you want lights closer together, you’ll need another strand or two of 100-count lights.

Fashion a bow out of the poly deco mesh ribbon. (Here’s a tutorial on four different ways to make a bow.) Use floral wire to attach the bow, winding around the tire and tucking the excess wire inside. We did this in the middle, which alone didn’t stand up to the elements. The next day we threaded through the inside part of the bow loops (on both sides of the bow) where it doesn’t show and wired that to the tire, so we ended up with three strands of the floral wire holding up the bow (left, center, right).

Enjoy!

The Story of the Hillbilly Christmas Wreath.

Have a question about making our Hillbilly Christmas Wreath? Leave me a comment or send me an email to amy@amyharkemoore.com.

Coming attractions: Stay tuned for The 12 Posts of Christmas starting December 14 and running through Christmas Day! 

Related post:

A Rural Girl's Favorite Things Christmas Gift Guide

A Rural Girl’s Favorite Things Christmas Gift Guide

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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