Friday, February 27, 2015

#84~A Very Busy February

So, the month started out with a 1st birthday party for two very special girls. 
My best friend has twin girls that hold a very special spot in my heart.
Their mom and I have been through a lot together and I am blessed to be called "Aunt Kate" by the cutest girls I've ever had the privilege of watching grow up. 

Behold, one of the smash cakes.......
much prettier here than it is in my hair........

"You mean I get to play with my food and not get yelled at?!?" ~P
(for privacy I am giving them nicknames for the blog, Baby 1 is P and Baby 2 is L)

"Dude, I got this messy thing down....." ~L

Oh, and I LOVED the lil tutus they had. 
Most of the stuff P has is purple and most of L's things are pink. 
I had so much fun with the girls. 

Then I helped clean them up after the cakes......
I was helping clean L and P was fussing for the relative that was holding her so I took her hoping the change in scenery would calm her long enough to get L clean. 
Then P decided I needed cake in my hair....I think, by the time I got her undressed and in the sink, I had just as much cake on me as she had on herself. 
She's lucky she's cute. 

They are transitioning from bottles to sippy cups and P is not handling it well. 
Had to make an emergency trip back to the house, half way into the party, for a bottle because she was having a melt down. Poor girl. 

Then I had to come back home. I always hate leaving them. I go over to see them thinking I will spend some time with them and then visit other friends in the area......usually I end up staying with the girls the whole day. I don't mind.  

 So, there is this lady at church that I have promised a batch of Peanut Brittle to for several months now.....I finally made it!
It's my grandmothers recipe and I love making it because it reminds me of her. 
I was making it so much for a while that I started selling it. This lady at church always buys a batch every Christmas. I may start making it more again, if I can find the peanuts at a decent price...

Want to know how it's made?
I was hoping you'd ask!
First we will add 
3 cups of sugar, 1 cup of hot water, and 1 cup of white corn syrup
to a medium pan. 

You will need a candy thermometer. 
Don't let it touch the bottom of the pan 
(I stick the spoon between it and the pan for a gap)

Lay out the rest of the ingredients because once you start you are stuck by the stove until it's done so you can measure later. 

And since I'm stuck standing here stirring this until it's done I'm watching VBS music motions. I'm teaching music again this year. :D  

Ok, trying to take pictures of this is harder than one would think.....
it kept fogging up my camera!

Finally got a decent picture! 
Eventually the mix will turn clear. 

Bad picture, I know, but it's a lil hard to get a picture, 
not drop my phone, and keep stirring.

Once it reaches "Soft ball" stage on the thermometer we add 
2 Tablespoons of butter and 1 pound of raw peanuts. 
I use unsalted peanuts but you can use salted if you want. 
The original recipe calls for salt but I've never added it.

Ok, I've missed a couple steps somehow. 
After you add the peanuts and butter you bring the temp up to "Hard Crack" stage. 
Take it off the heat and add 3 teaspoons baking soda and 1 teaspoon vanilla.
I recommend adding them in that order because as soon as the vanilla hits everything else that stuff foams like crazy and you HAVE to keep stirring or it WILL foam over. 
As you are trying to keep the yummie science experiment from foaming all over the counter, you have to pour it onto a couple cookie sheets.
It will keep foaming for a now, as you are pouring, you are running the spoon over what you just poured so it doesn't foam over then stirring what's still in the pot so THAT doesn't foam over. It's fun. 
If you want a softer, fluffier brittle don't flatten all the foam, just enough to keep it from foaming over the edge.

Since this was for an order I didn't get to eat any of it, but I did get what stayed on the spoon! 
After the brittle cools you just break it up as small, or as big, as you want it. 
I usually just keep it in plastic bags. 

With that finally done I am now back to finding a lesson for youth group Sunday.  
I think I'm going to start a focus on Apologetics. 
The nice thing about doing a lesson on Apologetics 
is that I learn just as much from the lesson as the Teens do. 

Well, it's Friday, and I am still not done with the lesson. 
I better get started on that. 

Until next time!

Post #83 - The tale of a sad, neglected blog and an empty cookie jar.

What, no posts in February?  We're slipping! 
Tsk, tsk.

Last year we were able to keep the blog posts coming and I was able to keep the cookie jar filled, but sadly both are lacking this year.  So to remedy that I decided to bake cookies this morning and blog about it. Aren't you excited?

This is the sad looking cookie jar that
 I found on the counter this morning.
  Poor thing.
So I grabbed my go-to cookbook and
 flipped it open to the cookie recipe section.
Don't let the name on the cover fool you. This is an 
old cookbook full of yummy old-fashioned goodness.
I spied this recipe for Oatmeal Cookies and it intrigued me.
Oh, this I've got to try!
I gathered the ingredients:
 with one change. I soaked the raisins 
in boiling water for a few minutes to plump them up. 
I didn't want them to dry up during the baking process.
Then I drained them.
Okay, here we go!
Cream the shortening, sugar and eggs...
add the Buttermilk...
 then the flour...
 walnuts and raisins.

A few things have changed over the decades. Instead of lightly greasing a cookie sheet I use parchment paper or nonstick Silpat mats.
And instead of using tablespoons, I use a cookie scoop. It really makes the process go quickly.

I put the tray in the oven and 
filled the sink with ice cubes and placed the cookie dough 
in the sink to chill while the cookies are baking.

Once the cookies were baked...
 and taken off the pan I removed the mixing bowl 
and put the baking sheet in the cooled sink 
to chill out before I put more cookie dough on it.
 These heavy making pans don't cool off as quickly as the thin ones do, so they need a little help. The Silpat mat is taken off and it cools once it is no longer in contact with the hot metal. I have two of these large pans and I rotate them, only putting one in the oven at a time.
Why bother cooling the pan? 
Because if I put the dough on a hot pan, 
the shortening will melt and it will spread out 
before it even gets in the oven.
 But these little gems held their shape...
 pan after pan.
The recipe said it made 5 dozen. I got 4.5 dozen out of it, plus 2.  
Those two were sacrificed in the name 
of blogging so I could taste test them for you.
And the result? 
They are a tender, cake-like cookie. They are good and remind me of the Oatmeal Breakfast Squares made by the famous oatmeal company that begins with a "Q".  So I guess it makes sense that I had those 2 cookies for breakfast.  
All in the name of blogging, of course.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Post #82 - I'm feeling blessed.

My heart is overwhelmed with the feeling of being blessed.  God is so good!

I am rich. I am rich beyond expression. I am rich, not it earthly possessions but in eternal, unseen and untouched blessings.

God is alive and doing a good work and He has blessed me.

I hold the love and respect of a godly man who loves the Lord, is a wonderful provider, the master of his home, an excellent father to our children and a good son and son-in-law.  We have a love language that is both playful banter and loving, uplifting support for one another. I adore this man more than words can express.

I have the love and respect of three gorgeous children. They are the product of two imperfect people, so they, too, are imperfect...but they are loved. They are good people from good stock and they love the Lord.  They are caring and funny and trustworthy and helpful and loyal and all shades of nice.
I have the love and respect of some pretty wonderful people whom I am blessed to call friends.  God has chosen a great circle of friends for me--I'm so glad I turned that over to Him.  The support, prayers, godly advice and love that they have showered over me has meant so much to me.

We've had some sad, happy and rough family, my friends and I...and God was there--helping us through them, watching over us and guiding us. 

I am blessed.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Post #81 - A quick catch-up post.

So we didn't post at all in November and now
December is nearly half over and I bet you think 
we've forgotten about the blog. 
Au contraire!

It's just that a blog post isn't much without pictures and I haven't been taking many pictures lately. I've been living in the moment more and documenting the moment less.

But here is a glimpse at what I have been doing 
for the past month or so.

 The celery that I started in my window sill back in February?  
I harvested it from the garden just before the first frost. 

 Hubs took me to Amish country to hunt for fabric stores. 
We found them. 

 We saw a beautiful sunset on the way home.
Wow again.

 Brutus had his appointment at the Vet's office and 
needed a name tag for his crate. 
He got one.

 We held a wreath-making class at church and had a blast!

 I started a quilt.

 We went to see the light shows in two different towns. 

 I worked on the quilt.
I wish I could say I finished the quilt and started another one. 
Moving along...

 I made a snowman decoration for my front porch.
Kudos if you spotted Lizzie at the door before I pointed her out to you.

And I decorated.

Now if it would just snow it would feel more like Christmas.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Post #80 - The annual Decorate-the-Sugar-Cookies-Day was this week.

Every year my Mom would make a big batch of sugar cookies and we'd get together and decorate them. Last year was the first year I can ever remember not doing that. So this year my kids asked if we could decorate cookies. I agreed and boy-howdy did we have fun. It was a lot of work, but I'll do it again in a heartbeat.

 At first everyone was concentrating on creating a masterpiece.

 And there was some pride when it was accomplished.

 Many cookies were consumed during the melee.

 We laughed and enjoyed each others' company.

 And just look at the masterpieces that were created. 
 Of course, we'll never know what the ones that were
eaten right away looked like.
 But they probably didn't look much different than the ones that survived.
 But I'm just guessing.
And then just like that there were no more cookies to decorate.
 This pan of cookies?  It holds...
the final cookie with the last of the icing.
I believe there's a bird cookie underneath that pile of blue.
But it didn't last very long.

We're definitely doing this again next year.