“Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self." - Cyril Connolly

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas Crackers

I don't bake very often, probably once a month if that, but for some reason, when the holidays come around, I get into a baking mood that makes me feel like a renowned confectioner. Since my parents brought my about 8 cups of the world's best pecans, I have been trying to find things to fix that has nuts in it or on it. So, I made some Christmas Crackers the other day and wanted to share.  If you have never had these, they are also called Saltine Toffee.


1 cup brown sugar
1.5 sticks of butter 
1 tsp vanilla
1 sleeve of saltine crackers (about 35 crackers)
1 12oz bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips.
1/2 cup of finely chopped pecans (optional)

First thing I did was cover a jelly roll pan with aluminum foil, spray with non-stick spray and lay out the saltines. The preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Next, I put the brown sugar and butter in a sauce pan and started melting everything and bringing to a boil.

After about 5 minutes, a nice rolling over boil has occurred. Now is the hard part,  you have to leave it alone and let it boil for about 4 minutes. If you have a candy thermometer, you want it to reach 235-240 degrees or the soft-ball stage.  I don't have a candy thermometer, so I had to eye-ball it.

Once it has reached this stage, add the vanilla, and stir, stir, stir, until it begins to harden.  Once it starts to cool down a little, pour it over the crackers and spread.  It will cover the saltines, but the saltines will rise above it.

Put in oven and bake about 5 minutes. After taking out of the oven, immediately sprinkle the bag of chocolate chips over the cracker spread.

Within just a few moments, the chocolate chips will be melted enough to spread.

This is where I added the nuts.  The kids don't like them, so I sprinkled them on half- OK, 2/3.

I put the pan in the refrigerator to cool and then break into pieces.
They broke at the saltines making nice little squares.

They were really tasty and didn't last long in the house.  Hope you like them.

If you make them, let me know how it went.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Small Things??

We have had a rough week, I won't lie: busted transmission in one vehicle, busted throttle something in the other, two kids with ear infections, one kid with a nasty cough and a bloody head, the list could go on.

After attempting to get one vehicle fixed, Dan went to pick it up, and it broke down in the dealership parking lot. Since the service department soon closed after returning the car for repairs (again), the dealership arranged for us to have a rental car at no charge to us. The guy from Enterprise asked Dan how he week was going, and Dan proceeded to tell him.

Ok, so where is this going?

Dan mentioned that despite all the troubles, he has been able to spend time with us and that is the good thing.  "Yup," the Enterprise guy said, "it is the small things that matter."

People say this all the time, and maybe I am just interpreting it wrong, but since when did spending time with your family and enjoying each other's company  become "the SMALL things"?  I know there are sayings that it is the little things that matter in a relationship: the sweet notes, the random acts of love and kindness. I am not talking about that. I am not even talking about not sweating the small stuff- the everyday distractions that prevent us from living happily.  I am  concerned for those who think spending quality time together as a family is small.  It is not small.  It is HUGE.

We are so caught up in the small things that we often think it adds up to the big things.  I want my family to know they are important to me. I want them to know I will be there for them.  How is that considered small?  I consider small things to be doing the dishes or washing a load of laundry.  Yes, it is important for my family to live in a nice clean house, but I would rather hang out with them watching tv, playing a board game, going to the museum. I want them to know they are more important than a clean carpet (which is evident, just come on over to the house).

When my kids are older, I want them to remember our time together, our lazy days in our pajamas or baking something in the kitchen. Maybe for others, these are considered small things, but I refuse to believe that the relationships I forge with my family are small.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

All I Want for Christmas. . .

One of the things that always bugs me about my daddy is that when I ask him what he wants for Christmas, he always says "Nothing."  What?  How can you not want anything??   That is why throughout my entire childhood, Daddy got a new bottle of Old Spice aftershave.  That's right, my daddy is an Old Spice man.

Now, I am a little older (just a little) and I find myself responding to the question in the same way, "Nothing."  I have discovered that I have outgrown the need for trinkets. I don't really collect anything anymore; most of my collections have been broken up and sold, or well, broken. Don't get me wrong, it is not that I don't want anything, I do.  I just happen to have wishes and dreams beyond my checkbook balance. Therefore, all my wish list items are unrealistic, hence the automatic response of, "Nothing."

Still, it is so much fun to create a wish list, and I have. I have created my ULTIMATE NO-HOLDS-BARRED WISH LIST for 2012.  I think the following list is extremely extravagant, but the funniest thing to me is that there are people who would probably call this Tuesday.

MY ULTIMATE NO-HOLDS-BARRED WISH LIST 2012 (in no particular order)

1. A jewelry armoire. I don't have a lot of jewelry, but it is a jumbly mess on the top of my dresser. I happen to like this one. At least maybe I can stop losing my earrings and find my matching sets of earrings/necklaces/bracelets.

2. Unlimited Massages- I am a SUCKER for massages.  I blame my husband--wait, don't get any ideas.  My love bought me a gift certificate for a massage as a present before we were married, and I got HOOKED.  The only problem is they are like 60 bucks a pop, and that is just for 30 minutes usually.  Thirty minutes may be enough for some people, but that is just enough to make me mad. I could easily have a massage every week.  I'm telling you--when money is no longer a concern...

3. Gift Cards from anywhere for any amount.  I know most people don't like gift cards.  They think they are impersonal. I LOVE them. When I do get a few, I save them and ration out the funds. If I had to pick a few stores, I would pick JCP, Kohls, Charming Charlie, Old Navy, LifeWay, Michaels, Target, and any restaurant.  One reason I like gift cards is they are usually for clothes.  Since our budget is tight (whose isn't?) I easily jump over clothes.  This way, with cards, I am forced to buy the things I need without sacrificing groceries. Also, I admit, if the need arises, I will use the cards for the kids. While some people may say that it isn't for the kids, I say give me something that allows me to provide for my kids, and that is the best present of all.
4. We are in desperate need for new furniture.  We have only had ours for about 8 years, but the springs have popped out underneath.  We have had to place a piece of board under cushions so we are not falling through the couch completely. We bought our furniture pre-kids and definitely did NOT put into consideration in the fact that one day we would have kids.  Our couches have protruding wood along the bottom and edges of the arm rests.  If my kids have bumped and bruised their heads once, they have done it a hundred times. I am thinking I would like something chocolate brown or hunter green.  This would be so nice to have.

5. Now I preface this one with a warning.  It is not nice.  My close friends have heard me say this and choose to love me anyway.  Since I never know the dispositions of readers, I simply request that you do not base your entire opinion on me based on this one wish.  My dog, Max, needs to go to Heaven. That's right, heartless, rotten, mean me has added the natural death of  my 12-year-old, blind, incontinent, kid-fearing dog to my wish list. Go ahead and un-friend, de-plus, unsubscribe yourself if need be, but I am just being honest.  Believe it or not, I love my dog.  He is just not happy.  He has never liked my kids- never even tried or tries to play with them (he bit Melody one time she tried to play with him). He is basically blind, pees constantly in my house and just seems miserable.  The thing is we take him to the vet- he is healthy, so there is no medical reason to "help" him move beyond our world.  He is just old, and that is no reason to get rid of him.  When the day Max leaves us does come,  I will be the first to tell you that I WILL be bawling my eyes out.  He has been a part of our lives since he was about 6 weeks old. I tell you; it is just time.
Max, in happier times, about 5 years ago

**UPDATE** Sweet Max did indeed go to Doggie Heaven on January 10, 2013.  We will be missed.
6. Now, considering the fact that I get everything on my wish list this year, after sweet Max has gone beyond, I will need the best cleaning crew to come in and clean my house from wall to wall and ceiling to floor.  I really want this either way; it is just  why clean it when my dog is just gonna pee on it anyway. I have to admit, though, I am not the best housekeeper.  I often feel overwhelmed with everything and end up doing nothing.  A nice cleaning would be great to start the new year fresh.

7.  You know how some people just absolutely love "As Seen on TV" products.  I feel the same way about "Of the Month" club gift.  You know, Fruit of the Month or Pizza of the Month or Chocolate of the Month.  I have no clue why, but this type of gift excites me.  Maybe it is the idea of being surprised every month with a new something that tickles my fancy.  With the exception of Wine of the Month, I cannot think of  a Club gift I would not want. Did you know there is even a Pickle of the Month Club? The drawback to these is that eventually they stop.

8. I want a 8 day-7 night all-inclusive trip for five at the Grand Floridian Hotel at Walt Disney World. I want park hopper tickets, three free meals a day, behind-the-scene tours, spa packages, princess character dining- the whole VIP treatment.  We LOVE Disney World.  Dear Hubby and I went on our honeymoon and have been fortunate enough to do back a few times.  I want to be able to take all three of my kids with me and just have a good ole' time.

9. Last, but not least, my ultimate wish list contains becoming DEBT-FREE. We had worked our way into debt, and we are busting our... backs to get out of it.  It is hard. I struggle every day. One of the reasons why my wish list is so extravagant is because I KNOW I can't afford any of it, so it doesn't bother me that I don't get it. Of course, out of my whole list, this one is attainable, and once I attain my freedom from debt, maybe some of the others on my list will be attainable, too.

So, that is my list. One of the best things about it is that it is a list for the whole year, not just around the holidays, because if you ask me what I want for Christmas, I will probably tell you, "Nothing."            

What are some of the things on your Ultimate Wish List?

Monday, December 3, 2012

"Mama & Me" Journal

When I was goofing around on Pinterest one day, I came across a pin for the "Mama & Me" Journal.

I just fell in love with the idea.  In school, I always wrote notes to friends. Heck, I know some people who still HAVE the notes from grade school.  So, I followed the Pinterest link to HERE.

It is a cute little website, but she got the idea from THIS blog who got the idea from THIS blog. Since I like to give credit where credit is due, I wanted to give credit to all three.

So, if you are interested, here is what you do.

1. Buy a composition notebook: I got mine during school supplies sales events, so it wasn't very expensive.

2. Make the cover special.  I followed the template that I found at the first website, but next time, I will probably just make my own.  It is super easy to whip something up on the computer. I used a piece of scrapbook paper for my background, and then used clear contact paper to seal it.

Our First Mama & Me Notebook
3. Start writing.  Even though I talk to my daughter everyday, when I was faced with starting a journal, my mind went blank, so I did kinda use the formula from the other sites:
Dear Melody,
        I thought it would be fun if we became penpals. Would you like that?  Instead of writing letters to each other, we would write them in this notebook.  You can write anything you want: it can be serious or fun- just anything you want.  Does that sound like fun?
        When I write to you, I will leave it on your bed.  Then you write in it when  you want and put it back on my bed. Easy peasy.
         Love you, Momma

4.  Leave on bed.  I actually straightened her room for her and put the book on her bed to find.  It was really hard not to tell her to check her room as soon as she came home from school.
After I finished, I put it on the bed for Mel to find.