Thursday, December 30, 2010

My Fluff: Don't Worry, Be Happy

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


It's been one of those weeks. I'm on vacation and had grand plans of everything I was going to do with my time off...clean my house, catch up on my blogging, do some shopping. Well, it's Wednesday night and I just haven't been as productive as I dreamt I would be. Oh well, I am enjoying the days off and plan to make the most of the next four days of freedom.
Since I am not as on top of my blog posts as I planned to be, I decided to do some RANDOM POSTING!!!

1.  Anyone get the iCarly reference above? I know I probably shouldn't admit this but even as I type iCarly is on my television. I just enjoy the witty dialogue and physical humor of the pre-teen sitcom. I've actually had in-depth conversations with a co-worker who is also a closet iCarly fan (she has 3 boys so you know she shouldn't be exposed). We are seriously contemplating tickets to see Miranda Cosgrove (i.e. Carly) when she comes to Indy soon. Maybe I should have asked for this for Christmas...

ICarly Chat N Change 10 Talking Doll"

2.  Speaking of coworkers, I just LOVE my coworkers, especially those who share my love of pre-teen sitcoms, the Sound of Music and cheesy reality shows. Though I can't convince them that Storage Wars is the NEW Parking Wars!

3.  Have I ever told you my middle name? It is NOT Grace...though my dad claims that it should be. I am definitely NOT graceful. I'm always running into doorways, tripping over my own feet and hitting my head (especially on the STUPID old-fashioned phone my parents hung by the back door). On Christmas Eve, I proved just how graceful I am and had no one to witness. I fell down my stairs in a blaze of glory...think windmilling arms and a scream worthy of a little girl. Luckily, I wasn't hurt (a bag of Gap returns broke my fall) except for my pride!

4.  I bought my first little black dress in almost 10 years earlier this week! Actually I bought two...couldn't decide and they were both very reasonable in price. Then I bought a gray one, just in case I'm not really in love with the other two. I'm very excited to wear one of them to a dear friend's wedding on 1-1-11...isn't that a cool wedding date?

5.  Are you one of those people who don't like getting practical gifts for Christmas or your birthday? I'm NOT. If I need a vacuum, then get me one if my birthday is soon. This year I got two very practical gifts...

Ace Trading - Yu Shan Tw Hd2001"living Accents" "5-piece" Card Table Set     Suncast SC3250 18-Inch Snow Shovel/Pusher Combo with Ergonomic Shaped Handle And Wear Strip, Green

I was totally excited about both. I also got another wonderful gift from my dad that I'll be blogging about soon.

6.  My life has turned into "is this something I can blog about." Has yours? I can't believe how many times I do something silly or stupid or funny or cute and think to myself "I should blog about it." But, it's really bad when I'm sitting on the examination table with a cup to my ear and the nurse flushing warm water in my ears and I'm thinking "I wish I had my camera!"

That's what happened today. I went to the doctor because I have a cold that isn't getting better and I don't want to start traveling next week with it. Instead of telling me I have sinus congestion, the nurse practitioner told me that my ears are full of wax (duh...I haven't been able to hear out of my left ear for like a year) and tells me she's going to flush them. I won't go into details, but WOW let's just say there could have been a comparison to what was in my ears and a head of a Lego man...I said too much, huh?

7.  Did you hear that? I know, I did too! I can't believe how much better I can hear with two good ears! My Corolla is way louder than I remembered. The keys on my laptop are way loud...or I just type too hard. And I can now have a conversation with someone standing on my left side without constantly, saying "Excuse me" or just nodding and having NO idea what they are saying!

8.  I made THE BREAD tonight...have you heard about THE BREAD? I read about it on The Pioneer Woman (of course) and just had to try it. Since it only uses two ingredients - butter and bread - I figured I could handle it, unlike the cinnamon rolls that I'm still too intimidated to try.

I thought about photos when I started prepping the bread and got one of the Italian Bread loaf I cut in half...

But then forgot to take anymore until after's what was left after my parents, sister, brother-in-law, nephew and I ate my mom's famous cheesy ham and potato casserole (yeah for Christmas ham leftovers) and THE BREAD.

I was supposed to use a stick of butter on EACH side of the bread but I chickened out and only used one and three-fourths sticks of butter. I can't imagine how much better it would have been with that extra butter! It was some serious goodness. Though my dad claims that I am trying to push him into a second heart attack...I swear I'm not.

Well, that's it for RANDOM POSTING...wait a minute I just saw the blonde guy from Glee (you know the new guy) on iCarly! See I told you it's a cool show!

Blurry Photos...What the Heck?

Technology baffles me at times...How could my brand-new Blackberry Bold take such bad photos in low light? It has a flash and everything. I just want a shot of my gal pal, Leah, and her award (she's a talker and it paid off).

And a photo of gal pal, Hannah, doing her Fonzie impression...

and her "mean face."

Wait a minute...what's this? Ohhh, guess I was supposed to REMOVE the plastic over the camera lens and flash BEFORE taking photos.

Much better!

So glad that I figured that out in a bar surrounded by people I don't know very well. Makes me look SOOOO smart! Not.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Holiday Baking...Spanish Peanut Crisps

I know what you are thinking...the holidays they are over. Well, technically we are in the midst of the 12 days of Christmas and New Year's Eve is just around the corner, so we can totally continue to bake under the guise of the holidays!

Thanks to the Great Cookie Exchange of 2010, I have several more cookie recipes to share with you, my friends!

Mrs. C joined our rag-tag group of cookie lovers at the Exchange. Now, I've known Mrs. C since I was a little girl. She taught school with my mom and continues to be a very good friend of the family. Mrs. C is known for her delicious Christmas candy and we were all expecting her Exchange offering would be chocolate covered confections. Much to our surprise (and delight) she included some cookies with her plate of candy!

One of the best parts of the Exchange was hearing the stories behind some of the cookies made. Mrs. C decided to pay homage to her Granny and bake some of the cookies she remembered enjoying as a child.

This butter cookie was as yummy as it was beautiful.

She decorated each of our snowflake cookies differently because no two snowflakes are alike!

Her other plate included a date roll cookies and a Spanish Peanut Crisp.

It's the Spanish Peanut Crisp recipe that I am going to share with you today. It's a crispy cookie...hence the name...that has corn flakes, oats AND Spanish peanuts - those ones with the redskin!

Mrs. C only brought one recipe card to the Exchange and I've already been notified by my aunt that I can't be hogging it much longer.

So, without further ado, here's the recipe for Mrs. C's (well, her Granny's) Spanish Peanut Crisps.

Spanish Peanut Crisps
1 c. butter
1 c. packed lt. brown sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 c. sifted flour
1 1/4 t. baking powder
1 1/4 t. baking soda
1 1/4 c. quick oats
1/2 c. finely crushed corn flakes
1 c. salted Spanish peanuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cream butter and sugar. Add egg and beat well.

Sift dry ingredients in separate bowl. Gradually add to creamed mix. Mix in oats and corn flakes. Stir in peanuts.

Shape dough into quarter-inch balls and place on greased baking sheet.

Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Linking to Tempt My Tummy Tuesday and Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

What I Got Done BEFORE 6:30 a.m.

I woke up at 2:30 a.m. this morning with a migraine. To be honest, the migraine was lurking all day yesterday...even before I participated in some drunken pottery painting (don't ask!).

I took two doses of Tylenol during the day hoping to knock it out but that only dulled it. After years of experiencing migraines (self-diagnosed...I hate going to the doctor), I knew that once I woke up with the headache, I needed to get up and take some super-duper Excederin Migraine right away.

Fortunately, once I did that and went back to bed and laid very still, my migraine went away - for the most part. Unfortunately, I never really got back to sleep. So, I decided to start my day at 4 a.m. That's a full hour (more like hour and a half) earlier than my normal workday alarm time.

It's amazing what can be accomplished with just an extra hour in my day...
  1. Pictures in frames ready to be wrapped for Christmas gifts.
  2. Out of the house by 5:10 a.m.
  3. Weekly shopping at CVS...6 bags of Christmas candy, two magnetic photo frames, bath tissue, 4 cartons of almonds and a gift card for 63 cents less than the value of the gift card!
  4. Stop at ATM.
  5. Venti peppermint mocha from Starbucks (a grande just wasn't going to cut it).
  6. At work by 6:30 a.m. (that's a 45-minute commute)!
Now for the hard part...staying awake this afternoon. If you hear snoring from my office, please just shut the door and walk away!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Dear Winter...

Dear Winter,

You do not officially until tomorrow, yet there is snow on the ground and we've already seen (and felt) below freezing temperatures on multiple occasions.

Now I'm not an unreasonable person. I like experiencing four seasons...if I didn't I would NOT live in the Midwest. However, I fully believe in experiencing winter weather in winter...not fall.

A light dusting of snow around Christmas is welcome, though I'm not a fan of snow. It's pretty for the first five minutes but the newness wears off quickly. I fully expect to have to deal with snow in January and February but lots of it the first week in December, that's just not nice!

So, Winter, since you came so early this year I hope you are planning to exit early as well. I'm writing to Spring next to let her know that she needs to pack her bags early because I expect to see her around March 1st!

Tired of Winter Already and It Hasn't Even Begun Yet

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Holiday Baking...Dainty Logs

I don't know exactly why I love these cookies so much.

Could be the butter.

Could be that there are chocolate chips on the inside and outside.

Could be any number of factors.

The fact remains...I LOVE a cookie named Dainty Logs...I'd marry it if I could, maybe not but I'd totally live with it for a while.

I'm not sure where my mom got this recipe but it normally is only baked around the holidays (though I've been trying to make it a year round cookie...check out its appearance at a baby shower this summer). I have NOT made any of these yet, but these delicious and easy cookies were my mom's contribution to the Great Cookie Exchange of 2010.

Go ahead and try them. I dare you NOT to like them!

Dainty Logs
3/4 c. butter
3/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 t. vanilla
1 egg
2 c. flour
1/2 t. salt
2 c. chocolate chips
1 T. butter
2 c. finely chopped nuts (we use pecans)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine 3/4 cup butter, sugar & vanilla; beat well. Add egg and beat thoroughly. Stir in flour and salt. Mix well. Stir in 1/2 cup chocolate chips (maybe just a few more than that, just sayin').

Shape dough into 2-inch logs. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.

Chocolate Coating:
Melt remaining 1 T. butter and 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (can also use semi-sweet baking squares) over hot water (or in microwave). Stir until smooth and blended.

Dip each end of baked (cooled) cookie into chocolate mix and roll into nuts. If you don't like nuts, skip the last step and stick with just the chocolate cover.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Smiling at Randomness

"It's a Social Parade Friday!"

Are there things that happen in your everyday life that make you smile or even laugh out loud?

It happens daily to me and I always think to myself, "I should blog about that." But then life moves on and by the time I sit down at my computer the thought is gone.

Well, let's be honest. As soon as my smile fades, the thought is gone. Sometimes I swear there's a giant eraser in my brain. Once I tell myself to make a mental note, that eraser wipes it right away!

Oh well, today I have had several of these funny little thoughts that I HAVE remembered, so let's see if I can hold onto them just long enough to get them all in this post!

My Christmas cactus has NEVER bloomed at Christmas! It starts blooming around Thanksgiving and the flowers hang on until about a week before Christmas and then they are gone! I call it my Thanksgiving cactus.

After I eat a bowl of my white chocolate snack mix, I look down and it's like an M&Ms graveyard. In this mix is the only time I don't enjoy M&Ms!

After a long day of work in a cute skirt, tights and sassy boots, I look down and see this...

You just gotta shake your head and laugh...and not buy expensive tights because this happens more often than I should admit!

I called my mom today and she was baking Christmas cookies with my nephew because his school was closed due to snow. This reminded me so much of all the times she baked Christmas cookies with my sisters and me. It makes me happy to know that she's passing those traditions on to the next generation. And my dad is happy because he still taste-tests each batch claiming it's his favorite kind of cookie!

My only Christmas decoration currently up is the lovely wreath my boss gave's outside where I NEVER see it.

Shouldn't I put it somewhere that I can see and enjoy it? Oh well, enjoy neighbors!

I think I had a couple of more things to talk about but that darn eraser got to them before I could...maybe next time.

Smart and Trendy Moms

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wordless Wednesday...Basketful of Goodness

After the Great Cookie Exchange of 2010, I came home with 10 dozen cookies and an array of homemade candies. I brought my bounty home in my great-grandmother's egg basket. My mom made it clear that I was just BORROWING the basket. It's neat to think that I am using a basket that's been used by four generations of women in my family.

Stay tuned for a closer look of some of these wonderful holiday treats. I may even share a recipe or two.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Holiday Baking, Take 3: White Chocolate Snack Mix

One of my all-time favorite holiday treats to make AND to eat is my version of a white chocolate-covered mix. I just love a sweet and salty treat (as you can probably tell by the other items I've been featuring lately).

I found this recipe in a great cookbook put out by our local Extension Homemaker's Club several years ago. It features favorite recipes from local women and 4-H members and there is a great variety of easy dishes. A good 4-H recipe is golden around here and my family (with four girls) had our "fair" share. Someday I may share some of the Grand Champion recipes from my youth!

Now, back to the regularly scheduled post...

I made this mix as the third component of my offering to the Great Cookie Exchange of 2010. Remember how I told you that I got the recipe from that great cookbook? Well, said cookbook is a binder that allows you to take pages in and out. The page with this recipe was "out" so I made the mix from memory and Baby Sister and I did some improvising! I've since found the page so I'll share the recipe as written and let you know where I substitute.

Darn, got some white chocolate crumbs on my keyboard...friends, don't snack on this mix and blog at the same time. It only leads to trouble.

First, find the BIGGEST mixing bowl you have. I made this mix at my mom's and she has the BEST mixing bowls. I'm not sure where she keeps finding them (I think auctions) but they just keep getting bigger and prettier. This mix usually feels up my large mixing bowl...see the photo below, this bowl is HUGE.

Mix together 6 c. of Cripix cereal (I used Golden Grahams. Feel free to experiment), 3 c. of Cheerios (I used the multi-grain ones this time. It was either those or the chocolate ones!), 2 c. stick pretzels, 2 c. peanuts (I use dry roasted.), and 1 lb. M&Ms candies (I've used milk chocolate, peanut, mint, dark chocolate M&Ms, go with what feels right. I usually just use a little over a cup - I can't believe I'm saying this but the M&Ms are my least fav ingredient in this.).

Set that aside and melt 1 tray almond bark. I do this in the microwave and it's easy!

Pour the melted chocolate over the dry ingredients and stir. If your bowl is small, you can split the mix and chocolate into two bowls. Stir to coat.

Spread the mix on foil or wax paper to set. You may find some clumps of chocolate, just mix it around right there on the paper.

Be sure to sample it as it dries...the M&Ms are kind of melty (this is the only time I really like the M&Ms in this mix)...delicious. Once it's dry, break it up in manageable pieces and enjoy.

That concludes the look into my contributions to the cookie exchange. While at Mom's making my candy, my sister was baking her molasses cookies. We had a bounty of goodies on mom's table...

Stay tuned for a rundown of all the cookies I received in the exchange, plus a couple of recipes and stories attached to the treats!

White Chocolate-Coated Mix
6 c. Crispix cereal (or Golden Grahams)
3 c. Cheerios
2 c. stick pretzels
2 c. peanuts
1 lb. M&Ms candies
1 tray almond bark

Mix cereal, M&Ms, pretzels and nuts together. Melt the almond bark and pour over dry mix. Stir to coat. Spread on foil or wax paper to set.

Check out Holiday Baking, Take 1: Simple Pretzel Kiss Candies and Holiday Baking, Take 2: Sweet & Saltines Candy.

Linking up to Tempt My Tummy Tuesday and Balancing Beauty & Bedlam!


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Holiday Baking, Take 2: Sweet & Saltines Candy

The Great Cookie Exchange of 2010 is supposed to happen later today at my mom's house. Unfortunately, it rained all day yesterday, temperatures dropped and snow is moving in. So, we'll see who shows up!

Party or not, I am prepared. Yesterday, Baby Sister and I finished up our contributions at my mom's house while she and my dad went to the Purdue men's basketball game (Go Boilers!). Kind of funny that two of her grown children were in her kitchen baking without her!

I love baking at my mom's house. She has good counter space and a big table to work on. It also brings back lots of memories from my childhood...lots of cookies (and rolls and bread and cakes) have been made in that kitchen over the years.

As I noted in my first holiday baking post, I decided on candy instead of cookies as my contribution to the exchange. I wanted to try Trisha Yearwood's Crockpot Candy after seeing it in a magazine but it takes three hours in the crockpot and that's time I just didn't have this week!

While researching the crockpot recipe, I stumbled upon another recipe from her Home Cooking with Trisha Yearwood: Stories and Recipes to Share with Family and Friends cookbook that got good reviews on several sites - Sweet and Saltines. So that became my second candy offering!

First, start by lining a large jellyroll pan with foil and lining up your saltines. The recipe also said you could substitute graham crackers for a sweeter treat, so I made a pan of each!

Next I melted one cup (2 sticks) of butter and a cup of light brown sugar.

And brought it to a boil for 5 minutes.

Then pour it over the crackers and spread evenly.

Pop it in the oven for 4 to 5 minutes or until it just bubbles. Take out of the oven and sprinkle one 12-oz. bag of chocolate chips evenly over the pan (the recipe said 8 ounces of chips but go crazy).

Once the chips start to melt, spread them evenly.

Pop the pan in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes until completely cool and chocolate has set. Break apart and enjoy! I cut mine in smaller pieces because I had small containers to put them in...and they are rich so a small bite is just right, in my opinion!

I do have one more treat to share with you tomorrow, but here's a sneak peek at part of my contribution to the cookie exchange! I will also share the other goodies I received.

Sweet and Saltines

Serves 20

40 saltine crackers
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1 cup light brown sugar
8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (about 1¹⁄3 cups)

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a large jellyroll pan with alumi¬num foil and the saltine crackers.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar together and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and pour over the crackers, covering them evenly. Put the jellyroll pan into the oven and watch closely. Bake for 4 to 5 minutes, or until just bubbly. Remove from the oven and pour the chocolate chips over the crackers. When the chips melt a bit, spread them over the crackers with a knife. Transfer the pan to the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until completely cold. They will form one big sheet. Break up into pieces. Store in an airtight container.

Substitute graham crackers for the saltines for a sweeter snack. Use 1 stick of butter instead of 2 for a crunchier, saltier cracker.

Use anywhere from 35 to 45 saltine crackers, depending on the size of your pan.

Recipe found at:

Friday, December 10, 2010

Holiday Baking, Take 1: Simple Pretzel Kiss Candies

One of my favorite activities around Christmas is baking Christmas cookies either by myself, with my mom or with my mom, sisters and nephews.

Growing up my mom made dozens and dozens of cookies in the weeks leading up to Christmas day. Our freezers - yes, I said freezers - were full of delicious treats all through December. My parents have two large freezers mainly to store the meat - pork and beef - that they used to get several times a year. Since Dad quit raising hogs several years ago, there's no more pork (sad face) so there's more room for cookies!

She would use these cookies as gifts for our teachers, for my dad's landlords, for our family and friends, and for dessert at holiday parties.

Now some of the cookies have endured...continually being made year after year, such as the Spritz cookies, Dainty Logs and Magic Bars. Some have been phased out as trends come and go. The butter cookies colored green and rolled out to look like wreaths with a cherry at the top (to look like the bow) haven't been made for years.

I'll be highlighting some of my favorite cookies as we start to make them this year.

However, I started with a newer addition to the Christmas cookie line-up that isn't a cookie at all, but a cute little candy-like treat. I have no clue what they are called, I certainly didn't come up with the idea myself, so I'm calling them Simple Pretzel Kiss Candies.

You need pretzels, Hershey's Kisses and M&Ms. That's it!

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. You don't have to do this but I am lazy so I don't worry about chocolate sticking to the pan this way.

Lay out several rows of pretzels. You can use the mini twist or the waffle shaped pretzels. (Sorry for quality of the photos. All I had was my Blackberry.)

Unwrap some Hershey's Kisses and set them on top of the pretzels. I normally use the milk chocolate Kisses and M&Ms, but I thought I'd go crazy and try the dark chocolate Mint Truffle Kisses and mint M&Ms this time.

Put them in the oven for at least 3 minutes. Test if they are ready by pushing an M&M in the middle of one of the Kisses. If it doesn't go straight down as the Kiss collapses into itself, it's not ready. There's really no "baking time" for these, you just have to watch them.

Unfortunately, I forgot that dark chocolate melts differently than milk chocolate (a little more liquidy) and that the truffle Kisses have two layers so the middle part of the didn't melt at the same rate as the outside layer!

So I decided to NOT use the M&Ms with these and they turned out nicely without the extra touch.

Here's what the milk chocolate Kiss and M&M ones look like. Yummy!

These take a LONG time to harden back up so don't try to package them up too quickly!

The sweet and salty combination make these kind of addictive. If you want a different twist, substitute mini Rolos and pecans and you have a bite-sized turtle treat.

Baby Sister is hosting a Cookie Exchange this weekend and I decided to make several types of "candy" as my contribution and this was the first batch. I'm going to attempt a candy featuring Saltines - yes, the cracker - that was talked about at a recent meeting I attended, as well as some crockpot candy. I may whip up a batch of my favorite white chocolate covered snack mix if I have time.

Regardless of what I make, I have to have 10 dozen of SOMETHING by Sunday.

So, stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Considering the Price to an Elf

Do you recognize these guys? 

They are my favorite brothers - Heat Mizer & Snow Mizer - from a classic stop action holiday special The Year Without a Santa Claus. Everytime it snows, Snow Mizer's theme song pops in my head. Sing along with me...

I'm Mister White Christmas
I'm Mister Snow
I'm Mister Icicle
I'm Mister Ten Below
Friends call me Snow Miser
What ever I touch
Turns to snow in my clutch
I'm too much!

Still not ringing a bell...check out this clip from the special. 

Catchy, huh? You are WELCOME...because I'm sure it'll be stuck in your head for a while! When I listen to this I usually start dancing in my chair, complete with jazz hands!

I'm Too Much!! Doo, Doo, Doo

I love Christmas music so I was thrilled when I saw that there was a Christmas Music Link Up over at Throwing Paint earlier this week (Thanks Little Miss Can't Be Wrong for the heads up). Well, I'm a day late to join in, but oh well!

Now, I'm a big lover of the radio station that switches to all holiday music all the time the day after Thanksgiving. I don't listen to it all the time, but I love turning it on in hopes of catching my favorites tunes.

I also have a couple of favorites Christmas albums that I keep in the car this time of year and have in my iTunes library, including...

Barenaked for the Holiday by Barenaked Ladies

 Barenaked for the Holidays

 If you haven't heard their version of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings, you are missing out. If you enjoy the tongue-in-cheek songs of the season, then check out Elf's Lament (referenced in my post title)...
A full indentured servitude can reflect on one's attitude
But that silly red hat just makes the fat man look outrageous

A Charlie Brown Christmas by Vince Guaraldi Trio

A Charlie Brown Christmas: The Original Sound Track Recording Of The CBS Television Special

Gold and Green by Sugarland

Gold and Green

There are so many other great albums out there but those are the ones that are on my playlist right now!

Go check out some other favorites from the link up. I totally headed over to iTunes and searched for a few of them!


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