Thursday, December 28, 2006

Candy update...

So it's now 7:30pm and my caramel candies are finally done. I had to lug the pan (which weighed no less than 10 pounds) into the freezer to cool these darn blobs because they would not harden at room temperature, as the fool proof recipe claims. So now they've cooled and I've cut several of them and wrapped them neatly into plastic wrap. I had Tom taste test the first one and as he chewed and chewed, and then chewed some more, he declared that they tasted like Muenster Cheese. But, at least they look good.....

I still have more than 3/4s of the pan to cut through but I have to do it in stages because the caramels start to melt as soon as I cut into them but this will have to wait until tomorrow or the next day. My arms are sore from all this baking.

It's Official!

I am now an Auntie and Tom is an Uncle! Our nephew, Austin Thomas, was born at 5:23 pm and weighed 6 pounds 11 ounces. And my sister in law gave birth au natural!!! No pain killers! He came too fast so there wasn't much time. Mom, Dad and baby are happy and healthy and doing great! We love you guys!!

So far so Goooooood!!

I've finished my first round of holiday candy making and let me tell you, the candies are TERRIFIC! I improvised a LOT on the Reindeer Belly Button recipe. The original recipe called for Pretzel Rings (which no longer exist in the Western Hemisphere) with a hershey kiss in the middle (melted) and then a red or green M&M placed on top. Well that was too boring for me so I spruced them up a bit and used the waffle pretzels with a Caramel Hershey's kiss melted in the middle and then I placed a mini marshmallow on top which I then sprinkled with red and green sprinkles! And they are delicious. The caramel and the chocolate oozes out with each bite. I also made a couple other varieties with M&Ms and Ghiradelli milk chocolates which were also good but the chocolate, caramel marshmallow surprise treat is my favorite.

I'm still working on my second candy project which is taking a little longer than expected. I've been making these candies now for over an hour and once the temp reaches 240 degrees I am supposed to remove the mixture from the stove, stir in some vanilla and smooth to make caramels. Well it appears the longer I bring this goo to a boil the lower the temperature gets! Not quite sure how this is possible. I think it's time to remove from heat. The mixture is now turning a gross brown color. But the house smells soooooo good!!

Now I've removed the mixture from the stove, stirred in the vanilla, poured the goo into a baking pan and sprinkled some chocolate chips on top and swirled them into the mix. It's now starting to look like it could become caramels! Can't wait for it to cool.

And of course during this entire process, my loyal companion has not left my side. I tripped over him a couple times but he doesn't even bat an eye....

One of my favorite Christmas scenes...

I found this photo online while I was searching for holiday recipes. I absolutely love it. Unfortunately I'm not able to enlarge this so you'll have to strain your eyes to see it.

I also loved this photo. Reminds me of Christmas when I was a child.

Anyone know where I can find Pretzel Rings?

So I've returned from the grocery store, ready to start my day of holiday baking (read earlier post as to why I am baking Christmas treats after Christmas) and one of the candies I was going to make requires Pretzel rings. Well I can't find these blasted things anywhere!!! Of course they make Pretzel rods, sticks, twists, minis, nuggets, and waffle shapes but no RINGS!!! So now I am going to have to improvise. I'm not going to be able to make the Reindeer Belly Buttons after all (as seen below).

Instead I bought the waffle looking pretzel pieces so I'm not exactly sure what festive creation I can make out of these. I'll have fun trying no doubt but we'll just see what turns out. Pics will surely follow.

How did you spend Christmas day?

Just had a share a story about our Christmas day. Tom and I were both sick on the couch pretty much the entire day. We were in our pj's and robes and were cuddled up on the couch with: a) blankets; b) a roaring fire in the fireplace, and; c) a new space heater positioned directly on us. FYI...It was almost 80 degrees outside that day. We watched several Christmas movies but of course Tom had the hands free tv set up on the coffee table tuned to Football the whole time (thankfully, without sound).

One of my Christmas presents from Tom was a Stilleto Satellite radio system. I can use it in the car and it's portable so I can carry it with me for walks and use it in the house! I was thrilled because I absolutely despise the radio stations out here. Aside from a few shows on NPR there is not one other station I can stomach, so instead I use my ipod when I want to hear music. Tom was sick and tired of hearing me b*tch and moan about the stations all the time, hence the purchase.

So around 3pm we both start to emerge from our zombie like state on the couch and I ask him if he feels up to installing the system in my car. He says Ok and heads out to the garage armed with all the new gear. He was out there for about a half hour or so, and I decide to come out and see how things are going. He's really tired and in between several sneezes says he'll be ok, just has a few last minute touches to do like hiding cords and positioning suction cups. I tell him that I'll keep him company and he says Ok as long as I don't talk much or ask any questions which I agree to, so while he tinkers away with the system I just sit quietly and watch from the passenger seat. A few minutes later Wrigley appears at the screen door leading to the garage and starts to bark. He doesn't quite understand what we're doing in the car. I get out and let him in the garage and instantly he hops right into the car. He climbs into the back seat and sits down and stares straight ahead. I assume my position in the passenger seat while Tom, now a little frustrated, tweaks and makes a few more adjustments to the radio system.

A few more minutes go by and I see a tail emerge by the screen door as I look beyond the windshield. Chumley has now discovered that his entire family is sitting in the car in the garage. Not wanting him to feel left out, I ask Tom if I can bring him into the car. He says sarcastically, Why not? So I get out of the car and head in to get Chumley. Now Wrigley has hopped to the front seat so Tom has to try and pull him into the back which is no easy task. I'm standing by the passenger door holding a hissing Chumley, also trying to coax Wrigely into the back. Finally he succumbs and sits back down so Chumley and I squeeze into the front. Chumley doesn't seem as thrilled to be in the car as Wrigely but he looks around sniffs some parts of the car and hisses in my face from time to time. What a nice, cozy way to spend Christmas. Tom and I together in the car complete with a goofy dog and a hissing cat. But the hissing gets Wrigley all excited so he tries to make his way to the front yet again. Chumley starts swatting and now he's growling which is my warning that he could blow at any time and bite my face, so I decide his time in the car is now over. I try to control his contorting body and open the door slowly and sneak out of the car. He's now furious and screaming. I rush him into the house and let him bolt out of my arms once inside. I quickly close the screen door and head back into the car.

So it's back to the three of us in the car and Tom says that we have to take the car out of the garage in order to test the signal strength. So we back out of the garage and into the driveway and test the signal. It takes Tom a while to find the right stations to program so Wrigley and I just sit and wait patiently staring straight ahead as if we're on a scenic Sunday drive. I think we may have found a new Christmas tradition...

Still Christmas at my House

It's been almost 2 weeks since I've had this flu and although today I am FINALLY feeling much better I am not going to over do it. But I'm in such a mood to bake/create and since I was confined to bed pretty much the week before Christmas I wasn't able to fully enjoy the preparations. I've scoured old cookbooks and online recipes for some fun holiday candy recipes and aside from my annual Holly Candies, I'm going to make 2 new candies today. One is called Reindeer Belly Buttons and the other one is a recipe for Creamy Caramels. The first one is sooo easy to make it should take no more than 5 minutes but the second one is a bit more challenging. Actually need a candy thermometer for this one and that makes me nervous. Luckily the fire dept is located directly behind our house.

I also looked for vanilla liqueur recipes online but that seems to take weeks or even a month to ferment and I'm just a little too impatient to wait that long. I want to enjoy the fruits of my labor immediately!! Friends of ours like to vacation in Tahiti and they always bring us back a bottle of this AMAZING Tahitian vanilla liqueur and I have had such a craving for it. Since I won't be able to hop a flight to Tahiti anytime soon, I thought I'd try to conjure something up in my own kitchen. Although I really hope this doesn't put me back in bed for another week.

Wish me luck!

Exciting News

We are just a few hours away from becoming an aunt and uncle!! This will be our first time ever so little nephew to be, PREPARE TO BE SPOILED!!!
I already have a bag of goodies in my closet awaiting your arrival unto this world. We are so excited and can't wait to finally meet you!

Sunday, December 24, 2006


I want to apologize to many people who did not receive Christmas cards this year. I got the flu and still have lingering affects from it (been 9 days now!) and was not able to complete my Christmas card list. Most people in California did not receive cards and I am very sorry!

Also as for this post, I'm not able to rotate the picture horizontally for some reason. I tried several times and it works when I open the picture up in my photo program but as soon as I link to my blog it flips. If it wasn't Christmas eve and I had nothing better to do I would sit down at my desk and work on this blasted photo until it was sitting properly. But since I'm still not feeling well and have grocery shopping, stocking stuffer shopping, baking and wrapping to do, I said STUFF IT!! Merry Christmas!!

Friday, December 15, 2006

I love this quote...

'Come to the edge', he said.
They said, 'We are afraid'.
'Come to the edge', he said.
They came.
He pushed them and they flew ....

Guillaume Apollinaire.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Here We Come A-wassailing...

So you better turn and run the other way!!

Last night my friends and I went Christmas Caroling at the local hospital. We looked very official, all dressed in festive holiday attire from head to toe, complete with props and candy canes. The only thing missing was singing on key. But we had such a great time and brought smiles to so many people and many laughs among each other. And I'm happy to report that we only had one door shut on us in mid song. We expected a lot more. But luckily many more opened and we were greeted with warm smiles and twinkling eyes. We even had a patient get up out of bed to join us! He had just had his hip replaced after falling off a ladder while putting up Christmas lights. He heard us coming down the hall (probably thought there were a bunch of stray cats running loose in the hospital) and hopped right out of bed and hobbled down the hall with us for several songs. He carried the group and we begged him not to leave us!

I'm hoping to make next year's event an even bigger success with more people. And I promise to choose better music too. And actually number the pages to the song sheets. And bring a harmonica. Oh and probably a bottle or two of wine wouldn't hurt.

For those of you who can't sing, no worries because it's not mandatory. As one nurse told us after she heard our rendition of Jingle Bells, "It's the thought that counts!"

Thank you Aaron, Diane and Kristen for checking your dignity at the door and singing 'til your throats were sore!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Enrique says....


The concert was AMAZING!! Even Tom said it was fun. We had such a great time and met this adorable couple while we stood in line outside for 2 hours and hung out with them the whole night. Tom said that he would go to another Enrique concert as long as we all went together. Enrique fans are really the best!

The venue was very small since this wasn't a typical concert it was just for his fan club fans and tickets sold out in 9 minutes so we were so lucky to get 2 tickets when we did. Thanks Bridget! Enrique sang a couple new songs and they were soooo good. I think his new album comes out in February which means that he should start his tour in March or April so we have more concerts to look forward to!

Thanks Enrique for once again putting on such a terrific show!!! I'll see you again in the Spring! (once the restraining order is lifted)

Yours Truly,
Laura (the Super Fan)

Cheers to the Holiday Season!!!

(more to come....)

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

How Would You Like to be This Woman???


NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- An American Airlines flight was forced to make an emergency landing Monday morning after a passenger lit a match to disguise the scent of flatulence, authorities said.

The Dallas-bound flight was diverted to Nashville after several passengers reported smelling burning sulfur from the matches, said Lynne Lowrance, spokeswoman for the Nashville International Airport Authority. All 99 passengers and five crew members were taken off and screened while the plane was searched and luggage was screened.

The FBI questioned a passenger who admitted she struck the matches in an attempt to conceal a "body odor," Lowrance said. She had an unspecified medical condition, authorities said.

"It's humorous in a way but you feel sorry for the individual, as well," she said. "It's unusual that someone would go to those measures to cover it up."

The flight took off again, but the woman was not allowed back on the plane. The woman, who was not identified, was not charged in the incident.

Cat Show Update

Producers and crew are coming back today to shoot the 2nd installment of Chumley. The first was shot on Monday and was very successful however, at the vet's office we had some serious moments of panic. I just couldn't put him through the barrage of blood tests that they required. Chum was extremely upset, and kept hissing (nothing really out of the ordinary) but he was contorting his little body, trying to escape and after I saw that I had somewhat of a breakdown and grabbed him and asked that we stop the whole thing. The producers made some phone calls and got the ok to go on with the show without all the blood tests. I was relieved but I really just wanted to get Chumley home and out of the spotlight. He had quite a day. I know in the long run that blood tests may be necessary for Chumley's health and it's never going to be an easy thing to do but I think I'll wait until it is medically necessary to have those done. It's been quite a while since Chum has had a full work up at the vet and he is definitely in need of one but it's just too traumatic for him I'm too afraid that something could go wrong. The last time I took him to the vet was back in Chicago and he was in a full head muzzle with only his ears poking through and his body was tightly wrapped in a towel. All the doctor did was look in his ears and listen to his heart (through the towel). Then he said, "He looks good" and I get slapped with a bill for $100.

Friday, December 01, 2006

No presents under the tree...

unless we can stop Chumley from peeing all over the tree skirt. I caught him in the act this morning. As far as I know he has NEVER peed on the tree skirt during the 12 years we have had him. This is something completely new. This cat never stops surprising me that's for damn sure. I had just let Wrigley out to do his business and I walked into the living room and there was Chumley all hunch-backed in deep concentration, pissing all over the tree skirt (which is actually one of my favorite tablecloths that I use as a tree skirt for the holidays). It's the only good (read expensive) tablecloth I own. I immediately scream at him and he just looks up at me, squeaks out a few final squirts and then starts pawing at the tree skirt like he does with the litter in his box after he empty his bowels. I am screaming at him to stop and he just continues along like I don't exist. I lunge forward and try to grab him but he darts under my legs and runs into the kitchen, of course right on the countertops. I chase after him and wave my finger into his face (which he HATES) and yell "NO! NO! Noooo Pee Pee under the Christmas Tree!!!" He hisses back at me and swats me so hard with both of his pee paws! This cat has absolutely no fear.

By this time Wrigley is barking obnoxiously at the back door because he can hear me yelling at Chumley. Of course he doesn't want to miss out on all the fun, so I open the door to let him in and he instantly dashes over to the tree and starts sniffing and licking the spot where Chum peed. I have to pry him away with all my strength because I was afraid that he was about to mark this spot as his own.


Literally 10 minutes after I typed that last paragraph Wrigley (while in the living room with me playing with his Kong) dropped his toy and started to hunch over like he was going to take a dump. I screamed at him and rushed him outside but he just peed. He has not had an accident in our house since he was potty trained at 2 months old. Maybe he figures if Chumley thinks this house is one giant cat box, then he's entitled to the same rights. The last thing I want is a battle of the bladders between these two. I hope I don't have to cover our entire house in shower curtains. Now when you walk into our home you are overcome by the fragrance of winter evergreen with just a subtle note of cat pee.