slowliving

A Recipe: Venetians

These cookies remind me of my childhood. Nonna used to make these cookies for special occasions and would make a batch big enough to freeze a bag or two. Now, I understand why because they are not your average batch of cookies. These cookies aren't difficult to make, there are just a lot of steps, and they require overnight refrigeration. And as I mentioned, they freeze well if you want to make ahead of time and thaw and honestly taste SO good frozen too. 

There is something about the flavor of almond extract and almond paste that takes me right back to my Nonna's kitchen. If there is something on the menu with either of these flavors you can order it for me because I will devour it. And someday, I will figure out how to make the cookies gluten-free so they don't give me a stomach ache. 

This time around, I was making the cookies for a friend's baby shower. Typically, the colors of this cookie are red, white, green (the Tricolore, colors of the Italian flag), but I opted for just pink and white because those were the colors of the shower. Also, making these cookies this time around were a nightmare. when I flipped the layers to cool, they collapsed and folded in half and because I was pressed for time (and ingredients) I was determined to salvage what I could and make it work. It just goes to show ya that every Instaphoto recipe isn't always coming out perfectly behind the scenes ;) 

INGREDIENTS

  • 14 oz almond paste
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 5 eggs separated
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Pink food coloring
  • 12 oz apricot preserves
  • Chocolate

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease three 13x9x2 inch pans; line with wax paper and grease again. (Or if you're like me with only one, you'll just work with one color at a time.)

Break up almond paste in a large bowl with a fork. Add butter, sugar, egg yolks and almond extract. Beat with electric mixer until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes).

Beat in flour and salt. Beat egg whites in a separate bowl with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Fold egg whites into almond mixture.

Remove 1 1/2 cups batter; spread evenly into a prepared pan. Remove another 1 1/2 cups and add the green food coloring; spread evenly into second prepared pan. Add red food coloring to remaining 1 1/2 cups batter and spread into the last prepared pan. Bake each sheet for 15 minutes, or just until edges are golden brown. Remove cakes from pans immediately. Place green layer on jelly-roll pan bottom side down.

Heat apricot preserves and strain. Spread 1/2 of the warm preserves over green layer to edges; slide yellow layer on top; spread with remaining apricot preserves; slide pink layer, right side up onto yellow layer.

Cover with plastic wrap; weigh down with a heavy plate. Place in refrigerator overnight.

Next day: Melt chocolate and spread on the top layer to edges of cakes; let dry 30 minutes.

Trim edges of the cake. Cut into small rectangular pieces. ENJOY ENJOY ENJOY!

On living simply...

Jon and I sat down and talked about what we wanted for 2018, and amongst many hopes, dreams, and prayers, a few keywords resounded: simplicity and rest. 

I want this year to be a year where I don’t get caught up in the game of comparison, but instead, rest in the truths Jesus tells me and focus on what I love and care about. No more getting caught up in what OTHER people care about, or what OTHERS think should matter. 

This year, we are focusing our eyes on what matters to us and living simply. I am choosing to REST in the peace of Christ, like David describes in Psalm 23. (1-3, 6)

God, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing. You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from. True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction. Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life. I’m back home in the house of God for the rest of my life.

God, you are my shepherd and provider, I don't need a single thing! What would it be like if we actually lived like that? I want to live this year in those lush meadows of peace. And gain focus on my life and dreams by letting Him guide me in the right direction.

Minimalism is such a funny word and has so many different connotations that come along with it. There is an extreme view where someone might picture a home with nothing in it other than the absolute essentials. There is a view where perhaps someone might envision people living in tiny homes. However, one of my favorite podcasts describes it (in my opinion) perfectly and she says minimalism, or living simply, is more about living a life that is simply: you. It's about learning what to say yes to, what to say no to, and having confidence in who you are and what you're about. 

I've been thinking about this so much lately and this primarily started because we spent the first 8 months of Brighton's life living in a small, 800 sq foot 1-bedroom apartment. We were forced into "minimalism" by necessity. We shared one tiny closet between the three of us, and had no spare room for the swings, the bouncers, and the toys, let alone an actual crib! When the nesting set in, I was throwing away everything. I realized I could no longer deal with the clutter and anything that didn't have a "space" needed to go. I started clearing out my closet and getting rid of things I didn't truly love so I could invest in staple pieces I did love and would last me longer. I felt free! 

So, as I've been thinking more about this "simple living" life, I am trying to find new ways to incorporate it more often. It's not just about "stuff". What I'm learning is that it's truly about knowing what's important to you. One host of the podcast suggested asking yourself "is it useful" and "is it beautiful"? If you can't say yes to one of those things, toss it! What is useful and beautiful to each person will be unique. For some people, the collection of antiques is a passion and their cabinets may be full of crystal treasures for the eye to behold. For me, I am loving simple. And I want this to pour into every aspect of my life, not just with possessions.  

To be honest, a lot of this has continued to stem out of necessity, but I don't mind because it has been so freeing, But, if I'm continuing to be honest, there are many days where it's difficult to remain proud and confident in my "simple living" mentality. Everyone is in the hustle; get a bigger house, get more clothes, new trends, new toys, better car, new hair ... it is just so exhausting and darnet, sometimes so enticing. It's difficult to not get swept away in it all because the reality is that none of it is inherently wrong.

But what Jon and I continue to find ourselves discussing is that we never want to overextend ourselves just to achieve what's "bigger" or what's "next". We want our lives to be full of margin so that we can enjoy the little things in life and be generous as often as possible. 

Living in a small apartment is a big source of insecurity for me. To me, at this point in my life, we should be able to afford more, have a real house, and at least have a guest bedroom and a yard for a dog. But the reality is, we live in southern California and our life looks different than that. I am someone who always dreamed of having the home where people would come all the time. Where I would have people over for dinner regularly. For 5 years, I let my insecurity of living in a small apartment stop me from doing what I love. I have let the lie that I need to have a bigger home dictate how I interact with my community. 

But moving forward, I want to remove the pressure of "society" to have more. I'm not going to apologize anymore for living in a small apartment. I love that our place is small and I love that I don't have more house to clean than I can handle on my own. Do I want a home someday with a yard? Yes of course, but I prefer cozy and quaint to large, unmanageable, and debt-ridden. I don't want to have to hire a maid in order to know that the dust isn't piling up in the hidden corners of rooms we never use.

I love that Brighton doesn't have a closet full of toys. I love that she needs to be creative with what she has and learn to go outside, rely on books, and the Tupperware that we have in the bottom drawer. 

I'm not going to feel sorry anymore that I don't go shopping all the time to stay on top of the trends. It's too exhausting to keep up anyway and most of the time I'm lucky if I make it out of the house long enough to have anyone to impress. 

I want 2018 to be a year of focus and simple living. A year where I learn to say "no" to things so I can say "yes" to the right things. A year where we put down our phones more often to take in the sounds, the sights, the smells around us and not worry about it making a moment in my Instastory. A year where we quit worrying about what everyone else is doing and be proud of where we are at and the process we are going through. A year where we decide we don't need more "stuff", but make more moments. 

So, here's to: 

More books, less screens

More simplicity, less stuff

More freedom, less fear

More presence, less comparision

More quality, less quantity