Addictive Candied Pecans

No-bullshit intro: Every year, my grandparents get “the boys” (our husbands) a bag of pecans for Christmas. And every year, I hijack those pecans from Marc and turn them into candied pecans, because if there’s one thing that makes pecans better than they already are, it’s sugar. Duh.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED: 

  • 1 Cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla (Mexican vanilla, if you can get it)
  • 2 Cups pecans (halves are my favorite unless you’re making pieces to sprinkle on something like ice cream)
  • 1/4 Cup water + a reserved splash to help cool down the pecans later

THROW IT TOGETHER: 

  • In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon and set aside. In another small bowl, combine water and vanilla and set aside as well. (Don’t forget to leave a splash of water for later!)
  • Place all pecan halves in a medium, heavy pot. Add the cinnamon/sugar mixture and then the vanilla/water over the top of the pecans, and stir constantly like a crazy person over medium heat until it boils until everything becomes thick (5-10 minutes).
  • When it’s nice and ooey-gooey and hard to stir, remove the pot from the heat fairly quickly, and add in that splash you reserved.
  • When everything is coated, spread the pecans on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet and do your best to spread them out, using a spoon because they’re hot as f*ck.
  • Let them cool, if you can manage, and break up any pecans that were stuck together. Or shove those in your mouth and run away before anyone can see you. Put the rest in a bowl for guests. Just kidding, you won’t want to share them. Enjoy!

Antipasto Not-So-Salad

No-bullshit intro: my mother-in-law made something similar to this years ago, and my whole family loved it so much. This has just been adapted a little bit, but it’s a really flexible recipe that you can add what you like to. Here’s our favorite version. Enjoy! 

What You’ll Need: 

  • 2-12-oz boxes tri-color rotini 
  • 2-19-oz. bags cheese tortellini, frozen
  • 24 oz. bite-sided tomatoes, (half red, half yellow if you can shake it)
  • 1 ounce fresh basil
  • 1/2 pound white cheddar, cubed
  • 1 pound hard salami, thinly sliced
  • 2- 6-ounce bags pepperoni 
  • 16 oz. mozzerella cheese
  • 1- 6-ounce tub shredded parmesan cheese
  • 2- 9 1/2 ounce jars green Spanish olives
  • 2- 6-ounce cans black olives
  • 2 bottles Newman’s Own Family Recipe Italian Dressing 
  • 2-12 ounce jars marinated artichoke hearts 
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
  • Olive oil 
  • Salt & pepper up in heeeere

Throw It Together: 

  • Boil the rotini according to package directions, and salt the shit out of it, because you won’t get a chance to flavor your pasta later
  • Drain pasta, set aside in a HUGE bowl and drizzle with a tiny bit of EVOO so it doesn’t stick. 
  • Boil the tortellini according to package directions, salt, drain, and throw in the same bowl as the rotini. Toss it all together. This is the base of the whole salad. The rest is just adding ingredients that you like! Omit anything you don’t like, and add what you do! 
  • I chopped the pepperoni in half, cut the salami into small triangles, halved the tomatoes, quartered the artichoke hearts, left the olives whole, thinly sliced the onion, cubed the cheese, and chiffonaded the basil. Add pepper to taste.
  • Pro-Tips: If you’re making this the day ahead, don’t put the cheese in yet. Toss the cheese in a few minutes before you intend to eat it, unless wet cheese doesn’t freak you out. WET CHEESE FREAKS ME OUT. Also, easy on the red onion, and don’t add this until last minute either. It will ALL taste like onion if you add it too soon. 
  • That’s it! Super easy and really delicious. Enjoy! 

Holidays Don’t Have to Suck

You heard the good news, right? Lola is going to be up and running for 2019 and I’m soooooo excited! But before we get the confetti cannons going, I wanted to share a little checklist I made for those of you that have complicated holiday situations like Marc and I do. It’s FREE, and it gives you permission to take care of yourself, so download if you need a little bit of holiday self-care inspo.

DOWNLOAD LOLA’S HOLIDAY CHECKLIST HERE!

Happy Holidays, my friends! Share with your friends who need a little love.

LOVE, LOLA (1)

Weeknight Shrimp & Grits

My commitment to you as a no-bullshit writer is going to be that I will never write my whole life story before a recipe. Have you ever perused recipes online and you had to scroll and scroll and scroll and scroll and SHIT I don’t even feel like making monkey bread anymore. So – weeknight shrimp & grits. Here it is. Don’t f*ck it up. 

What You’ll Need:

You can be as snobby or as laid-back as you want to be on your ingredients. All my stuff came from good ol’ H-E-B, and you can bet your butt it was no-hassle. 

  • 2 Lbs shrimp (I used frozen Texas gulf shrimp, and I started to devein them, but…you know. I called my mom and she said it was fine, so I threw the rest in a bowl, tiny shrimp poops and all.) 
  • 1/2 stick of butter 
  • 2 Tbsp. freshly-squeezed lemon juice 
  • 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire 
  • Spice Mix for Shrimp: 1 Tsp. Tony Chachere’s Cajun seasoning + 1 Tsp. Old Bay seasoning + 1 Tsp. ground black pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced 
  • 5 Cups whole milk
  • 1 Cup quick-cooking grits (not instant) 
  • 2 Cups shredded cheese (I used mild cheddar) 
  • 1 bar cream cheese, full fat (duh) 
  • Chives or parsley to garnish if you wanna be fancy

Throw It Together:

  • After shelling, place shrimp in a single layer on a cookie sheet. 
  • Combine butter, lemon juice, worcestershire, spice mix, and garlic cloves in a small measuring cup, then pour over the shrimp. Toss to coat. 
  • Bake at 325 degrees for 15 minutes, but don’t be a scaredy-cat like I am and wait too long to take them out; otherwise, they’ll be tough. I’d check them at 10 minutes. 
  • While the shrimp are baking, bring milk to a boil in a saucepan big enough for what will end up being a shit-ton of grits. Whisk in the grits to the milk, then reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 5 minutes, or until you think it’s thick enough. 
  • Dump in that glorious block of cream cheese, and the two cups of shredded cheese. This whole saucepan will end up getting thicker by the minute, so whisk whisk whisk until the shrimp are ready. 
  • Plate it, y’all: little scoop of grits, little scoop of shrimp, little bit of sauce drizzled over, then chives. 

There you have it. Weeknight shrimp & grits. Pro Tip: You’re going to want to put a whole bunch on your plate, but don’t. This is richer than you think. A little goes a long way. Enjoy, friends! Let me know how it went or if you perfected this recipe with a secret! 

Where TF I’ve Been For Six Months

Hi, Friends. Hi there. Hi. Hi. Hiiiiii. HI.

Six months is a perfectly reasonable amount of time to just abandon your hobbies, right?

Want a little update of Lola’s world? Here’s six months of updates and random shit that’s been floating around in my head and heart, in a few sentences.

September – Threenager Maggie started school and we’re grateful to get back into the swing of things. I like routines and checklists, even if I break the rules half the time.
October – Happy Halloween!  I dressed up as a tired-ass mom with spit-up on her shirt. I also ate all of Maggie’s Twix. Sorry ’bout it. Started taking Wellbutrin to help with some leftover anxiety. EVERYTHING’S GONNA BE FINE, RIGHT?
November – Happy Thanksgiving! The holidays are here, which means we’re broke and probably stressed the fuck out. But it was good to see family, and eat Mom’s food, of course.
December – Merry Fuggin’ Christmas. Marc and I always get super stressed during December because HI FAMILY DRAMA. But we managed to have a good time this year and I’m hoping it can always be that easy. I didn’t even take Xanax, y’all. (+50 points to me.) Stopped taking Wellbutrin because I felt AWFUL and possessed. No thank you, ma’am.
January – Happy New Year! I’m 30 now! I had A TON of sweet friends send me special pins for my bday, per my request, and I plan to do a video soon showing you all of those. Also, we finally got Maggie potty trained. Feeling good about 2018, despite starting the year off with three – count them – THREE funerals.
February – Happy Love Month. I have a lot to be thankful for, especially for starting my period after three days of being late. JESUS, THAT WAS CLOSE. (Love you, little family, but NO.) Ruby is eating food now, and finally getting teeth. She’s so GD cute.

As for my mental state:

My brain – I wish it would have been possible to leave the blinking line there, right after the dash, so you could have a clear understanding that my brain has just been a blinking line at the end of a half-typed sentence. I’m frustrated about still having up and down days, despite being on depression and anxiety medicine at the moment. Wellbutrin tried to kill me, so it’s just a matter of me raising my hand for help in front of the right doctor. Meh.
My weight/diet – Someone help me understand what the frick-frack is happening to my body. After Ruby was born, I have just consistently and steadily gained weight each month. I don’t know if it’s my Zoloft, or chicken parmesan, or just life in general, but I need to make some changes before long. I haven’t been in the mood to hate myself when I look in the mirror, and have been trying to be a little easy on myself, but spending money on new jeans because your old ones don’t fit is NOT something this girl wants to do.
My home – I spent a good amount of the holidays minimizing around the house. Tupperware bottoms that had no tops – GONE. Clothes with holes or two sizes too small – GONE. Books we didn’t love and cherish – GONE. Broken toys and junk – GONE. It felt good, man. So good.
My heart – I’ve been taking care of myself in 2018, trying to be loving and good to ME so I can be good to others. I’ve been trying to let anger go. I’ve been trying to see things from a different perspective. So far, it’s been a weight lifted off my shoulders. I feel good about the future. Deep breaths. I go back and forth on checking out from the outside world to just face mask and read in my spare time, instead of flip through Tasty videos and solve NYT crosswords on my phone for hours, but I guess there’s always room for improvement.
My money – Without going into too much detail since we’re in the midst of it, we’ve had to deal with a frustrating commission issue, but the good news is that it has forced us to look at our budget more closely. I’ve become the budgeting master and Excel whiz. I’ve now switched spots with Marc and wince every time I swipe my debit card. I added up all our debt (house, cars, credit cards, student loans) and made a plan to pay it off. Who knows if that will happen, but HEY, man. We’re trying. Still want to make a shout-out to the Bank of Mom, that transfers money “just until payday, I swear” for 0% interest on a moment’s notice. We’re grateful for that. Truly.
My faith – Grateful to God, still talk to Jesus. I burn sage and charge crystals and ask Great Spirit to bless our house. Will read your tarot cards for practice. An intuitive, progressive witch who thinks brown Jesus was probably pretty cool, and hopefully forgiving of our asshole-selves in this current day and time.

So, there you have it. Six months worth. I know I say this every time, but I really do hope to get back into my writing game. I hope to get back into a lot of things that make me feel good about myself. Lots of hope. But I mean it. I love you guys. Video coming soon with alllllll my birthday pins. Soon-ish. You know what I mean. xoxo.

5 Kinda-Crunchy Things I’m Digging Right Now

Hey weirdos. It’s me, Queen of Crazy, coming to you with some kinda-weird, kinda-crunchy things I’m currently trying or want to try soon. I’ve been MIA for the last few weeks because I’ve been giving myself some space and reprieve from stress, while practicing self-care.

Have I talked about my Secret World before? My Secret World is the place I live in my head and in my heart. It’s where conventional rules don’t apply. It’s where no one has to pretend you’ve got your shit together. I have purple hair and lots of tattoos/piercings in Secret World, and no one cares about the stretch marks they’re next to. I drink a TON of coffee in a cool little cottage that’s in the woods, but not scary, horror-movie-woods. There are strings of lights and caterpillars inching their way along wooden fence posts. There is ALWAYS real, salted butter on the counter, ready for toast. Flowers and artwork and music and Macbooks and all the pretty things live here, and 2-hour naps are a daily, spiritual ritual. I even have a Pinterest board called “iloveSECRETWORLD” where things I’d totally have in this magical land are pinned.

I’ve been in the mood to bring some Secret World to my Actual World, and since I can’t have purple hair or a nose piercing, I’m trying these kinda-crunchy things instead:

  1. Natural Deodorant – Some of you may know I had a bilateral mastectomy a couple of years ago in response to a positive BRCA1 gene mutation result, so part of that journey meant discovering a couple of handy tips and tricks to help keep cancer away. One of them was to switch to natural deodorant that doesn’t contain aluminum. I made the switch this summer (really, Alyssa? Texas summer?) and, you know what? I love it. In the beginning, I was afraid I was going to smell like a third grade boy after recess, because apparently, while you detox from regular deodorant, your body responds in a way that basically says, “Mkay, girl, you wanna play? WE’LL PLAY.” But I used TheCrunchyMamaBear’s Armpit Detox to get through the beginning, and it worked! I’m now using Primal Pit Paste in Jasmine and Patchouli, and TheCrunchyBearMama’s Natural Deodorant. Now I smell like tea tree and peppermint oil, so hopefully all the Trump voters out there know I don’t fuck around. #hippie
  2. Gardening – If you want a plant to die, give it to me, and I’ll make sure it happens. SO UNFAIR, because my dad could make a pile of ashes grow into a goddamned rose bush after a few weeks. Why didn’t I get those genes? But I’ve managed to keep two human beings alive, so I should really be at a point in my life where I can take care of a plant. Right? RIGHT? I have a single solitary plant in my kitchen that I got months ago, which might as well be a million years ago in my house, and it’s STILL ALIVE. So I’m inspired to try my hand at other plants too, and hopefully some vegetables if I become expert-level using this Guide to Vegetable Gardening. If it all goes to shit, I bid thee plants farewell. Rest in peace, guys. I honestly tried.
  3. Bug Collecting – Raise your hand if you’d rather die a slow death than touch a cockroach. RAISE. But, y’all, I took an entomology class in college (English majors avoiding physics – raise your hands uuuuup – repreSENT) and it was so much fun. We had to do a pinned bug collection, and thank God my older sister helped me pin those motherfuckers, because the Lord knows I couldn’t do that by myself. As Maggie puts it, “bugs are a little scary, Mommy, but it’s okay, they not hurt us.” Finding bugs is one of our favorite things to do, so I hope we can collect together and show Miss Ruby someday. Plus, Dad’s afraid of spiders, so someone’s gotta catch ’em. I even got the Texas Bug Book for Maggie’s birthday so we can be official about it.
  4. Essential Oils – I’ve always loved the smell and feeling I get when I smell certain oils. Patchouli has been my favorite since the dawn of time. But lately, since I’ve been in a bit of a funk, I’ve been willing to try anything to put some pep in my step. I have a friend at work who recommended this Essential Oils Natural Remedies book, so I ordered it, because the idea of using oils to heal is perfectly witchy and lovely to me. P.S. – If you’re reading this and plan to come at me with your Young Living marketing, just know I’m an oil rookie on a budget and can’t afford your fanciness for like, another year or two. Sorry in advance.
  5. Self-Care Sunday – Right now, I’m all about making and taking time for my brain to process all that’s happening around me. I’m giving myself a little bit of time on Sundays for some Meditation, Mind-Mapping, Listening to Inspirational Podcasts, General Witchiness, Deepak Chopra’s Anxiety Checklist, Reading, Mud Masks, Spiritual Thoughts, Favorite Quotes, Chakra Affirmations, Mindfulness, and Avocado Toast. Just kidding on the avocado toast. I’ve talked WAY too much shit about avocado toast for me to be able to eat it now. I’m making official time for me to take care of myself, because sometimes, you’ve gotta do that.

Do something that makes you happy and feeds your soul. If you’re in Texas like I am, stay safe. This Hurricane Harvey business is no joke. Side note: something compelled me to Google if sharks are safe during hurricanes. Did you know sharks can sense changes in biometric pressure, and those little sharp-toothed swimmers GO TO THE DEEP to stay safe. That kinda makes me happy. So, be a shark and swim to the deep, okay? Stay safe. I love you all.