gift

sweet & spicy valentine nuts

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sweet & spicy Valentine Nuts gift recipe in a mason jar with FREE printables  |  {Jules} blog

What gift should I give for Valentine’s Day?

As a jewelry designer, that’s a question I get asked quite a decent bit.  Whether you’re searching for a Valentine’s gift for your girlfriend, wife, boyfriend, husband or children it always seems to stump us.  I struggle myself with what to do for my very non-gifty husband and tween/teen boys!  They can be picky and yet there are a few go-to standards that work like magic for the perfect Valentine gift.  One being FOOD!  Always the perfect way to your man’s heart – whether little or big.

This year when trying to figure out what to do for my sweetie (married 20 years now), I decided on something simple but made by my two hands – adding that personal touch to his gift.

We had visited a sweet little French inspired inn in San Luis Obispo, California one night last year.  It was just the tiny getaway we needed to recharge and reconnect.  The best part about the sweet little inn was that they served food!  Not just any food, delicious French food.  We didn’t have to decide on where to eat – which alas is one of the things my hubby and I hate to do.  So when we found out they had fancy asparagus feta quiche for breakfast and  afternoon hor d’oeuvres of freshly toasted spicy nuts and cheese – we were in heaven.  We felt pampered, and it made the trip easy and restful.

So I thought this Valentine’s Day I’d recreate those little sweet and spicy crispy afternoon snacks!  My sweetie isn’t even really a nut person, but he just loved these.  Voila – a sweet, spicy & handmade gift reminiscent of a restful time we spent together. The perfect Valentine’s treat.  It’s even a great last minute Valentine’s Gift idea – perfect for the romantic procrastinator in all of us.  And let’s face it, we could all use a little somethin’ sweet & spicy in our relationship now and then. ♥

The little place we stayed was call Petit Soleil, and they had a great tiny recipe book featuring the amazing things we ate while we were there!  This recipe is adapted from their recipe book “Trois”.  And I promise – they’re sweet, spicy & delicious!

sweet and spicy nuts recipe ingredients

I started by collecting all of my ingredients.  Plain almonds & Pecans (not salted), Fennel Seed, Chipotle Powder, Sugar (not pictured – ha!), Chinese Five Spice & Course Salt

use parchment paper to bake your nuts

Next, and you’ll thank me for this later…I promise, line your tray with parchment paper.  When sugar cooks, it gets ridiculously sticky!  So if you cook it right on the pan, it will be a huge mess to clean up later.  I like to make my parchment larger than the pan and fold it up around the edges.  Then none of that lovely gooey sugar & spice mixture leaks over the sides.

mix your nuts  |  {Jules} blog

I chose a mixture of 1/2 pecans and 1/2 almonds – just because.  Feel free to choose whatever nuts tickle your fancy.

sweet and spicy nuts recipe - pour on parchment paper

This part gets a little messy, but it cleans up pretty easily if you wash it immediately.  With a big spoon or scraper, scoop or pour the nuts onto your parchment lined baking pan.  Spread the nuts evenly over the baking pan.  They should be in a single layer (they roast more evenly that way).  Be sure to scrape off the sugar & bits that stick to the spoon – or lick it, I won’t tell.  It’s already delicious!

stir your nuts every 10 minutes  |  {Jules} blog

You’ll end up with a wonderful pan of glistening nuts, spices & sugar.  It’s actually really pretty!  I like to sprinkle a little more coarse salt over them before I pop them in the oven.  I would say about 1/2 tsp., not too much.  It adds some saltiness and a bit of crunch.  I stir them every 10 minutes for 30 minutes…just to be sure they’re nice and toasted.

cool your nuts on a wire wrack  |  {Jules} blog

Here’s where I learned the hard way!  You need to carefully scoop the nuts off the original parchment & lay them in a single layer on a parchment lined wrap (or cookie sheet).  It’s important to remove them from the original parchment paper, so they don’t stick together in one big sticky mess!  A word of caution here – do NOT use your finger to try to remove the fennel seeds and sugar that stick to the spoon – I have a band-aid on my finger to prove this point!  Hot sugar sticks like crazy and burns really badly!!  I let the nuts sit for several hours until they were cool.  Then I broke them apart and put them in a clean and dry quart-size mason jar.

put your nuts in a mason jar for a cute Valentine gift  |  {Jules} blog

Here’s the fun part!!

valentine-squirrel-printed-bag

I wanted krafty rustic paper for my labels (top and front), but I didn’t have any kraft colored paper.  So I dug through our art closet & found plain old lunch sacks.  They were perfect!  I designed the graphics & set up my printer for the size of the kraft sack & hooray – it worked!  *tutorial* on paper bag printing will come later

free-squirrel-printable-button Valentine free printable letter size

cut out your Valentine squirrel gift labels for your nuts  |  {Jules} blog post

Super easy, I grabbed a pair of scissors & cut out the two labels from the paper lunch sack.  So cute!  I love them.  They turned out even more perfect than I had imagined.  Don’t you love it when an idea takes shape and is awesome?!

use a glue stick to attach your label to the mason jar  |  {Jules} blog

I decided to go low-tech on the application of the labels.  I used a plain old glue stick out of the school drawer.  It worked like a dream!  Just be sure to cover label entirely, but try not to get too terribly much around the outside edges – you don’t want it leaking out onto the jar.

sweet and spicy nuts with free Valentine recipe printable labels  |  {Jules} blog

I mean seriously, how cute are these???  I just love them!  I think they are sweet, they scream Valentine’s Day & I was able to make them a little bit masculine.

 

Sweet & Spicy Valentine Nuts
Serves 4
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
40 min
Ingredients
  1. 4 c. nuts (unsalted, any variety or mix)
  2. 3/4 c. coarse sugar
  3. 2 tsp. coarse salt
  4. 1 Tbs. Chinese five spice
  5. 1 tsp. chipotle powder
  6. 8 tsp. fennel seeds
  7. 4 Tbs. water
Instructions
  1. In a large mixing bowl, add all ingredients & stir until the nuts are well coated. Line a baking pan with parchment paper. Pour nut mixture onto parchment paper & bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes. Stir every 10 minutes.
  2. Cover a cool baking rack or baking pan with parchment paper. Scoop toasted nuts onto cooling rack and allow to cool for several hours. Once completely cool, store in a mason jar.
  3. FREE label printables available here: http://blog.julesjewelry.com/sweet-spicy-valentine-nuts/
Adapted from Trois - Petit Soleil
Adapted from Trois - Petit Soleil
{Jules} https://blog.julesjewelry.com/wp-app/

So these were relatively quick, easy and turned out just how I imagined!  Whom do you know that would love Sweet & Spicy Nuts for Valentine’s Day?

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tiny succulent gardens

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tiny succulent gardens in vintage milk glassI absolutely love vintage milk glass.  When it’s tiny, it’s even better!  I decided to combine my love of vintage milk glass, succulents and itty bitty tiny things to create these sweet mini succulent gardens.

tiny vintage glass containers

I started by putting together a nice little collection of vintage glassware.  I included a few white milk glass toothpick holders along with a tiny vintage children’s play cup.  I thought a lovely little white milk glass creamer/sugar set would work nicely for this project.  I also found several bubble glass candle holders and the most gorgeous antique pink pressed glass toothpick holder.  I just fell in love with all of them!

succulents

We made a trip to our local nursery and found a great selection if itty bitty 2″ succulents.  Now that I am trying my hand at propagating them, I will just pull from my own little succulent nursery next time!

a great little list of ingredients to create your tiny succulent garden

I found that it’s easiest to collect all of my “ingredients” – just like when baking.  I made sure I had some larger rocks, some smaller pebbles, chose my container & the succulents I wanted to plant.  I had a little pitcher of water and then realized later that I had forgotten my little paintbrush.

larger rocks help with proper succulent drainage

I decided to use the sweet tiny milk glass child’s cup glazed in a wonderful salmon/pink color.  I started by adding a few larger rocks in the bottom of the cup.  I was lucky enough to have some in the yard.  We just finished putting in a pond and waterfall in our backyard & these rocks are the transition between the pond and the patio.  I think it’s called “road base”.  This helps with drainage.  Succulents definitely need great drainage, so they don’t rot.

tiny pebbles help with succulent drainageI topped the larger rocks with tiny pebbles.  These happened to be in our kids’ play area.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve needed pebbles.  Adding them under the play structure was the best idea!  I snag them all the time for projects and gardening.

planting a tiny succulent gardenFor my first succulent, I chose the largest one I was going to plant.  I used the cactus mix that was in the little 2″ pot that it came in.  However, if I end up figuring out how to propagate my own, I will make sure I have a little bag of succulent mix on hand for when the mood strikes.  There’s nothing worse than having a brilliant idea and then having to stop everything so you can run to the store to pick up a supply!

you can cut your succulent to propogate itI had several succulents that were taller.  I wanted to be sure to include a tall succulent in each little garden to help balance it.  I took one of the stalks of succulent & carefully cut it down at the base.  I ended up snapping the one next to the one I was cutting!  Luckily I only broke one, so I used that one for the little garden.

strip leaves off of succulent before plantingSucculents work a bit like cut flowers – you really don’t want to plant the leaves under the ground, they will rot.  Just like keeping leaves out of the water when you put cut flowers in a vase.  So I very carefully stripped off the bottom leaves.  Succulent stems can be quite fragile, so be careful when you snap them off.  Don’t throw them away!  You can start new plants from each of the leaves.  Hooray!

water your succulentsI finished planting my little garden with another little flowery-looking plant along with a few strings of pearls (my absolute favorite).  I had cut my strings of pearls a couple of weeks ago & put them in my window to sprout roots in a little jar of water.  But I heard that’s not necessary.  you can just cut off the end, remove a few of the pearls & stick it directly in the ground.  Voila – new strings of pearls!  I chose the use a nice long piece (in comparison to the size of the tiny cup) because I wanted it to drape on the table a bit.  But if you prefer them to not hang to the table, you can definitely cut them shorter.

water your succulent garden

My dirt was CRAZY dry.  My poor plants – I neglect them.  So what I do is fill the little planters until the water is almost to the top.  I let them sit for a few minutes to be sure everything soaks in well.  With my larger succulent gardens I do this only once or twice a month.  I’m assuming with my little itty bitty cutie gardens I’ll need to water them more often.  I water them when the dirt feels dry to the touch.

how to water your tiny succulent gardenAfter they’ve soaked for awhile, I hold the succulents very very carefully with my fingers and dump all of the excess water out of the container.  I’m sure there’s a more scientific way to water succulents, but this method seems to work for me.

use a paintbrush to clean succulentsWhen you’re all done planting there’s always dirt and little rocks and just general stuff everywhere.  I first blow off my little succulent garden and container, but to remove everything from all of the lovely little nooks and crannies I use a soft paint brush.  I just stole this one out of the boys’ watercolors.  Nothing fancy needed although a softer brush works better for me than a stiff one.  I just take my time and get in all of the little places to remove the bits of dirt and mud.

a sweet little tiny miniature succulent garden in a vintage milk glass toothpick holderEach garden is different and turns out SO CUTE!  I love to play with different colors and textures in each little garden to make it interesting.  I made this one just for me.  It sits on my window sill above my kitchen sink and smiles at me with her pretty little pink petals.  So sweet!  I just love them.  I think I need to fill up all of my little vintage containers with tiny succulent gardens and randomly put them on friends’ doorsteps this fall.  I think that would be fun!  What do you think?  Would you like to open your door to find a tiny succulent garden on your doorstep?

 

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