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Tuesday, November 30, 2010


I've felt very festive today.  Had the Christmas station on in the car, little missy and I meandered about the decorations at the store and I had to really try to not bust out the tree this afternoon.  Think that might come tomorrow.  Even enjoyed some hot coco and Rudolph on TV tonight.

Our little family had a nice visit in Kansas over the Thanksgiving weekend.  I just love to bake this time of year.  We made caramels, puppy chow, marbled chocolate treats, cinnamon roasted almonds and sugar cookies.  Each of these are really quite easy to make.  I have to say when it does come to baking, when it's easy, it's more fun.  The only one out of the above listed goodies that is well, not really hard to make, but more of just a pain to make is the carmels.  So I thought I'd share these recipes which I've made quite a number of times and they always are a hit....  Enjoy!

Better Homes and Gardens Step-by-Step Cookbook 1978 (a great cookbook)

1 cup butter
2 1/4 cup brown sugar
dash salt
1 cup light corn syrup
1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Butter a 9x9x2-inch pan; set aside. 2. Melt the 1 cup butter in a heavy 3-quart saucepan.  Add sugar and salt; stir thoroughly.  Stir in corn syrup.  3.  Gradually add the sweetened condensed milk, stirring constantly.  4. Clip candy thermometer to side of pan.  Cook and stir over medium heat to 245(firm ball stage).  This will take 12-15 min (Or what feels like FOREVER...) 5.  Remove from heat; stir in vanilla.  Pour into butter pan.  6.  When cooled, cut into squares (and be prepared for total aggravation when it sticks to your knife like crazy!  If anyone out there knows a better way to cut carmels, please let me know!)  7. Wrap each piece in plastic wrap (about as equally aggravating as cutting the carmels...)  Makes about 2 1/2 Pounds.

The part of this recipe that is a pain is the stirring forever, being sure not to over cook them and ending up with carmels you can't even chew.  I do tend to do the water test as they cook.  This is to take a cold cup of water and dribble a bit of the carmel into the water.  Pick it up out of the water after it has cooled and see if it balls up.  If it's still runny and really mushy keep cooking, if it is nice and chewy - stop! 

The other part is the cutting and wrapping.  One thing is for sure though - the heavenly taste of homemade carmels is to SOOOOO GOOD!  And that makes it all worth it.  Oh and I'd say this is one to do with out the help of kiddos - a large pot of bubbling scary hot goo is not great around the kids.

There is also a recipe for Eggnog Fudge in this cookbook on page 320 that is also to die for.

Puppy Chow

9 cup Chex
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup butter
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar

Put cereal in large bowl. Melt chocolate chips, peanut butter, and butter. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.  Pour over Chex cereal, put into a large plastic bag with powdered sugar and shake well to coat.

This one is easy peasy - Little Missy had fun helping with this one.  And it's super quick too - ready to eat right away!

Marbled Chocolate Treats

I got this recipe from a friend at a holiday recipe exchange.  I've made it almost each year.  I did change it a little bit.  The original calls for baker's chocolate, I like to use milk chocolate chips.
You will need:
13x9 inch pan
enough Graham crackers to cover the pan
bag of chocolate chips
peanut butter
white chocolate chips
Line your pan with foil.  Break the graham crackers in to odd shaped chunks (this is so there is a crack between each of them for the chocolate to hold them together) and line the pan with the grahams.  In a microwave safe bowl, melt 3/4 the bag of chocolate chips with 1/2 cup of creamy peanut butter (you could use chunky if you wanted) at 30 second increments till melted.  Pour over graham crackers.  Melt 1/3 the bag of white chocolate chips same as before.  Use a spoon to drizzle the white chocolate over the milk chocolate.  You can leave it as is or run a knife through the chocolate to marble them for a nifty look.  Place the pan in the freezer till they are hard and can be broken into pieces.  Remove from pan and break random pieces and store in an air tight container. 
These are really easy like the puppy chow is.  You just have to wait a bit longer to enjoy them!

Cinnamon Roasted Almonds

I got this recipe from  my Mom, where she got it... well we'd have to ask her. 

1 tsp vanilla
1 egg white
1 tsp cold water
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 cup whole almonds
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Pre heat oven to 250.  Spray cookie sheet with cooking spray.  Beat egg white in a large bowl, add water and vanilla.  Beat till frothy, not stiff.  Add nuts and coat well.  Mix sugars, salt and cinnamon in another bowl.  Sprinkle over almond and coat well.  Spread in a thin layer onto the pan.  Bake for 1 hour, stir every 15 minuets or so.

This is a great recipe to make before you have company over.  The smell it creates is so festive and wonderful.  It fills the house.  I also really like to make these to give at Christmas time.

Now the sugar cookies we sort of cheated in my book.  They are from a box mix we got at Costco.  They had a sample there and they were SOOO yummy.... I can say I'm prepared to bake 18 dozen cookies now though.....  We did little swirl cookies where you make a snake with the dough and dip one side into sprinkles, then coil it up on the pan.  The other's were just dropped on the pan.

So get to baking!  I hope you enjoy some of my favorite goodie recipes.  These are my go to stand-by recipes for bringing to any gathering.  (and for my 2 readers... I know - you have all these recipes all ready... share them with some one else hehe....)

And there will be more to come....  I'm trying very hard to make dinner these days and would like to share some of the recipes from that.  Hoping I find time between all the the projects to finish up and getting things into my Road 10: Vintage shop (by the way I made the Etsy font page this weekend!! hurray!).  I also hope to add some patterns and tutorials, maybe after the 1st of the year when things slow down a bit. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Dreams and Goals and Whatnot....

I've been thinking quite a bit these days about what I want to be.  I feel like my time of piddling around with ideas and trying this and that are coming to an end.  Once little missy is in school all day, I'll need to be doing something to contribute to our household income.  Over the last few years I've tried this and that and I'm starting to really really think that as much as I LOVE to make things, making and selling handmade is not my way to go.  It just never seams to pan out for me.  I've made party packs, my very first endeavor, which I ended up making more custom banners than anything.  I found I didn't like having to fill orders as they came in.  It was a lot of pressure to have things made and shipped quickly.  So that one ended.

I started my Road 10 Vintage shop in late 08 and I have been able to keep up sales as long as I work at it.  And so far I feel like this route has been and will be the best type of business for me.  I love the search and the hunt for each treasure out at the estate sales and thrift shops around town.  Even photographing and editing each item can be calming - I get to be in my own little world with my music on and just be nothing else at that time.  I've been working all day at photographing and editing all my Christmas items.  I had a couple sales over the weekend I had to package up and take to the post office.  But I think at the end of the day today I realized I really like this process.  I feel like I am fine tuning it all the time.  My dream for this is to one day have enough steady sales to have it as my official JOB.

As for the handmade shop - I've only had sales to those I've sold to before.  I do wonder about the site I'm using.  I've got it set up through BigCartel.com and I am tempted to move my items over to Etsy to see if they'd do better there.  I worry about the flood of crochet over there, but I have to say I haven't seen any pj pants like mine.  So that could be good!  But the one thing I keep thinking about with my handmade goodies is that I would love to write patterns or a book.  This is one of those things that seams so very very big and hard and complicated to go about.  I need there to be a book at the library called "Gail - this is how to write a book about crafts or crochet... and get paid and what not"  Think it's there?  Bet not. this is one of the more dream like things.

I guess what I've got running through my head is that you only live once, why not go for it?  I suppose the only thing slowing things up now is time.  I don't want to rush away the bit of time I've got with this silly 4 year old around here.  She's been so very chatty and silly these days.  I love it.

Looking forward to the holiday week next week.  We'll be headed to Kansas for Thanksgiving.  Little missy can not wait to see her cousins.  A fun weekend of food, we'll be sure to go see Tangled, I'm going to do a photo session for my brother in law and his family and hopefully get some more crochet done!

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Oh I have so many crochet projects I want to make for the holidays.... but I fear I don't have enough time!  My family does a game each year where our gifts must start with the letter of the alphabet we are on for that year.  We are on E this year....  I have my outdoor enthusiast dad and my sister this year.  Since she's one of my 2 whole readers, I can't disclose any ideas for her, (not that I have any good ones yet...) but I'm thinking I'd like to make an Enormous afghan for my dad since he's so tall.  I was inspired by my sweet mom who started an afghan here during her visit this week and found it to be over 10 feet long!  Note: if you up your hook size, it ups the size of your stitches :)  Now, I'm thinking I don't need it to be 10 feet, maybe more like 7 1/2 feet... I just need to find a patter that would work up fast.  My issue is that I keep finding other little projects that I'd like to make as I work on these big projects.....  Anyhow - are you making gifts for Christmas this year?