Sunday, November 28, 2010

Yummy in your tummy

Today I made a batch of peppermint patties. These are luscious, rich, minty treats that are just too easy to make. A little goes a long way with these!
Peppermint Patties
12 cups confectioner's (powdered) sugar
1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
Melt 1 cup butter
3/4 tsp. peppermint oil (not extract, OIL. You can find the exact size bottle needed in cake decorating supply stores)
2 12 oz. bags semi-sweet chocolate chips
8 TBSP. solid white shortening
I know, it sounds like nothing but fat with the butter and shortening, but these are so rich you really can't (read: shouldn't) eat more than one per sitting so the fat stretches itself out.
Cool the melted butter to room temperature. Stir together the sugar and milk. It will be dry and lumpy till you add: the butter and peppermint extract and mix, ending with kneading the mixture. It should look and feel like PlayDoh. Roll into whatever size balls you want - large as a walnut or small as a...well, smaller than a walnut. Then flatten into a disk. Put on a parchment or plastic lined cookie sheet in rows. You can put them really close together, then I put another piece of plastic on top and layer the next row so I'm using just one cookie sheet. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Melt the chocolate chips and solid white shortening (Crisco here) slowly together. Drop a pattie into the chocolate, scoop out with a fork, dangle some of the chocolate off and carefully put on a cookie sheet lined with parchment or plastic. Here's where you need more than one cookie sheet. You can't stack them at this stage. I put them out on the unheated back porch to set the chocolate then layer them in tins with plastic wrap between each layer.
I know it sounds complicated but you can make these in less than an hour's actual hands on time even if it's over two days. I like that part, actually. The first batch I made sat in the fridge for several days till I got to the chocolate part. Keep them covered, though, so they don't form a crust in the fridge.
Bon Apetit!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Trees and books

We went hunting for our Christmas tree yesterday. We're feeling our age as we tromp through the fields of the Christmas tree farm managing to find the biggest tree farthest from the car - and nowadays it's just the two of us dragging and carrying it back. Luckily the place we go to drills the standing hole in the bottom and then trusses it so we can get it home and in the stand before cutting the netting and standing back as it poofs out to fill the room.
This one is 10 feet tall. I love our trees. I always think they look like a charm bracelet, the sparklies dangling from the ends of the branches. Over the years I've hung found objects, spoons from my mom, pretty forks, glass or brass or silver cups, lids from dishes long broken or flea market finds, hand carved wooden birds and Santas and angels, the treetop angel(s) are construction paper cones my kids made in preschool when they were three years old. Over the years I gave each of them an ornament as we decorated Every year for my son a toy soldier and my daughter an angel. When they married they took their ornaments with them, but I kept the treetop angels.
Last year as our couple of days together was winding down, the babies in bed, we sat quietly together, I pulled from the tree 5 envelopes. In the envelopes was a piece of paper listing for each of the adults in my family the 10 reasons why I love them. Each one written personally. I started to read to Patient Husband first and as I read my daughter started to cry and my son-in-law asked if there was something they should know - was I sick? Was I going to die? No, I said. And then read my daughter's, then my son's, then my son-in-law's and then my daughter-in-law's. I don't know about them, but it made MY day.

We're enjoying the last two days of our Thanksgiving holiday weekend. One of the simple things I enjoy very much when I don't have to get up in the morning is to stay up late, late, reading. Last night I finished this book and wanted to pass along how much I enjoyed it. I learned, a little bit before I read it, that Christopher Robin Milne absolutely hated being Christopher Robin in the Pooh books. He was so intensely upset he was estranged from his parents for years and never reconciled before their deaths. It isn't about Christopher Robin Milne, but his situation was the catalyst for the idea of this book. With that in mind, this book was conceived and written and is a debut novel for this author. I absolutely loved it and would recommend it highly to anyone walking past. It's that good. I don't say that about a lot of books but when I find one like this I do kind of make a pest of myself.
Up next? Well, I bought a Kindle last week (!!!!) and have one book loaded, Saving CeeCee Hunnicutt by Beth Hoffman. I haven't read a single review that wasn't glowing. It isn't a long heavy book, but light, and at this time of year I need light! There are dozens on thebookshelf waiting for me and as I look at them I'm drawn to The Distant Hours by Kate Morgan, an author I enjoy very much. She wrote The House at Riverton and The Forgotten Garden, both good reads, but heavier. Then there's Fannie Flagg's new book, I Still Dream About You. I do love reading Fannie Flagg. I can hear her speaking voice and her books read like she's sitting across from me telling me a fantastic story. Last week I also finished Doc by Mary Doria Russell. Now SHE is an author to follow! Doc is about Doc Holliday and that shouldn't scare you away. It's a winner.
But tonight, while the Kindle recharges ( I guess the last time I used it I didn't turn it off!!!) I think I'll attack that floral scrappy quilt Elizabeth is waiting for.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Santa comes early!

I am coming to you today from my brand new computer!! This one works! This one isn't as old as I am! And there is only ONE on this desk! For months and months and months I was operating with three ten year old computers on this desk, and each one of them did just one thing. I kid you not. One would resize my pictures for me because it had Microsoft Office one it but it wouldn't connect to the internet. One would connect to the internet but didn't have Office and one had a printer but no internet and Office was so old it didn't resize pics. And all of them moved arthritically slow. The frustration level was so high I got to the point of not even turning them on unless it was an emergency. I'd go to work an hour early so I could use the computer there on my own time. But now! Wow! This is so amazing! And we got a printer/scanner/copier. I am delirious!

The girls came to visit today. Their daddy was working all weekend and it was cold and dreary so their mommy packed them off to have lunch and naps here. Elizabeth napped in grandma's bed. Adelaide is cutting six teeth at once and had roseola all last week so she isn't sleeping much these days. After a short nap we played. I told her she had feathers for hair and she had to feel to be sure.
What was going to be a computer set up and nap day turned out to be a fun adventure day with the girls.
Now that I am not computer challenged anymore maybe I hope to foray into blogland more often!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Holy Stash!!!

Lest you think I don't really quilt, that I just talk about it, take a look at this mess! I was so tired of scrounging through the drawers where I keep my stash that I spent Sunday afternoon organizing. Now, there is a place in a drawer for like colors (never mind values!) and one full drawer of this mess. Scraps!!! Some are left over binding, some are leftover from string quilts, some are just small pieces and some are truly large-enough-to-do-something-with scraps. What a mess my room was!!!
But now I've sorted this pile into clear bags of colors and in a drawer. At one point Patient Husband walked into the room, took one look and turned and walked out.
I have enough here for several scrappy quilts - which I love anyway - and enough yardage in my other drawers to last the rest of my life. I even found projects I completely forgot about, one a bag of 18 10-inch squares - all finished just not completed into a top! Another project had many, many more blue and white pinwheels. Another pile of squares probably 50 years old that I got at a flea market for $2.00. I used some of them to make one quilt, and these left were the truly ugly ones. But if I find some poison green somewhere they could become a top.
Anyway, if the scraps are any indication, I really DO quilt. I'm just not a FAST quilter. I'm a relaxing-comfort-at-the-end-of-the-day quilter.