Happy Halloween

Guess what. . . I got another idea from my friend Ashley (and Pinterest).  I wasn’t in the mood to spend the whole day making cookies so I thought I would try a treat with a little less time involved. That is, less active time. This treat needs to chill for  a while. You can get the original recipe and wonderful instructions for Candy Corn Fudge by clicking the following link.  http://www.somethingswanky.com/2011/10/fudge-candy-corn.html. This is her recipe, I am not in any way taking credit for it, I am just documenting my own adventure with it. In fact I am not going to give any proportions for the recipe because you need to visit her site and give her credit for her work.

The first thing you need is a beautiful fall day to walk to the grocery and buy the following ingredients.

Really simple, right? Condensed milk and white chocolate chips. I don’t normally buy name brand but today they were on sale and cheaper than the store brand. Also, you cannot buy my fabulous Americolor food coloring at the grocery store. I read about how great these gel colors were on other blogs and finally bought mine (on amazon.com) and now I have to spread the word. They are AWESOME!

Then you line your 9×9 pan with wax paper. I didn’t know how to make the corners pretty, so they just aren’t. You also need your laptop on the counter so you can check the recipe (see link above).

All the ingredients have to go in the pan, so start with whatever you want. If you have a nifty mini-spatula your mother in law gave you it will come in handy to get all of the sweetened condensed milk into the pan.

Then add the white chocolate chips. (speedy tip:1 of the 12oz. bags of chips equals 2 cups)

Start to heat the pan on low-medium. When you first start to mix it, the fudge will look gross and lumpy. Do not turn the heat up – even just a little bit – to try to speed up the process.  A gross film will form on the bottom of the pan. Ask me how I know this.

Once it started to melt and smooth out, I started to freak out. It was not white at all! It was very beige. Maybe it would dry white, but since I didn’t know for sure, and I had a secret weapon, I thought I would use it. I use white food coloring in all my cookie icing. It definitely makes the white whiter but I have heard it also makes the other food colors more brilliant.

So if you have white food coloring, add that now.

This next part has a lot of stopping and waiting. Pour 1/3 the white mixture into the lined pan. Take the rest of the fudge off the heat so it doesn’t burn. Put the pan in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Right before the 15 minutes is up put the fudge back on low heat to melt it again. Pour 1/2 of the remaining fudge in a bowl and add orange food coloring. Do this quickly because it will start to harden!!!. Then pour this on top of the white layer. You will repeat this for the yellow layer, although you don’t have to transfer it to the bowl. You can just color it in the pan because it is the last one.

Let it chill overnight. The next morning you have this:

Then you cut off long strips and begin cutting those strips into triangles.

Does anyone else see the problem with this? Half of the triangles are going to have the white part at the bottom and real candy corn always has yellow at the bottom. SweetSugarBelle did a post about it when she made her candy corn cookies   (http://www.sweetsugarbelle.com/blog/2011/09/slice-and-bake-candycorn-cookies/) I might not have paid attention to it otherwise, but on this occasion I just decided it was OK and to let it go. Besides, when they are all mixed together who is going to notice?

HAPPY HALLOWEEN EVERYONE!!!

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socks

I really love to crochet. I haven’t really been interested in learning to knit. . .until I started looking for patterns for socks.  Most patterns for socks that are crocheted end up looking like doilies on your feet.

This is a perfectly fine pattern if this is the look you want.  I’m not knocking it, in fact here is the link if you want the pattern.  http://www.freepatterns.com/members/download.html?code=FC01263

I just wanted a pattern that looked and felt like real socks. I know there are some challenges with crochet, the fabric can be bulkier and the stitches more open, but I just knew someone else had wanted real crocheted socks, too. I finally thought I had found what I was looking for at www.crochetspot.com. The site is run by Rachel and you should see some of the fabulous patterns she has! I know I will be doing more shopping there in the future (disclaimer: I am in no way associated with Rachel, I just really like her site and designs)

So I bought the yarn.

I decided to make the first pair for Brandon and he was super excited (and tolerant because the pattern calls for multiple measurements so I had to keep interrupting his homework to put the half finished sock on his foot) When the first one was finished I was very happy to see that the fabric was thin, had nice give to it, and looked like a real sock!

Brandon wanted an ankle sock so that made finishing it even easier (the pattern has lots of room for personal adjustment, which is awesome). I was happy! I had found a great pattern, and finished a sock. Then Brandon told me he needed two socks. I thought it was a lot to ask, I mean I had worked really hard on the first one and was ready to move on to another project. I had already found a lot of other patterns I wanted to try, maybe something for myself this time. I told him he could just alternate the sock back and forth between his feet. He wasn’t too thrilled, so I started on the second sock.

Here it is finally! It took a few months because I just didn’t have the same motivation with the second one. However, Brandon was thrilled so I guess they are a success.

I don’t know that I will crochet many more socks, I find that a project that requires two of the same thing is kind of tedious. I did like working with a yarn that made its own stripes, so I might look for more projects that would look good in different colors. I did really like the pattern, but it is still pretty obvious these socks were not knitted. Maybe I will learn how to knit (although it makes me feel like a crochet traitor)

Raccoons

This story begins a few years ago. My husband was just my fiance. That fall my family spent several days in a cabin in Gatlinburg and he got to tag along. On our last night there we were all going to get in the hot tub. Brandon got in first while we were all changing our clothes. As I was about to open the backdoor to join him, my sisters and I noticed a very large (at the time he seemed enormous) raccoon mid-way between the hot tub and the door.

File:Raccoon.jpg

Have you ever seen raccoon paws? They are like tiny human hands. SO CREEPY!

Nothing we did seemed to scare the raccoon. There was a lot of yelling by the girls, my mom tried to lure it away by throwing pieces of bread down from the upper deck.  (Which we then pointed out probably made it want to hang out even longer to eat). Eventually my dad chased it away with a pool cue. At this point Brandon had turned into a raisin because he was stuck in the hot tub that whole time.

This year my dad decided to tease Brandon about being trapped by a raccoon by getting him this t-shirt for Christmas.

Cutty would not get off the shirt for me to take a picture, he is such a ham.

Then my dad hid a stuffed raccoon in the trashcan and made Brandon take the trash out one night. In Brandon’s defense in the darkness I’m sure it looked like the real thing, and Brandon was startled but at least he didn’t scream like a little girl.  It was really funny to watch from inside the safe cabin where the stuffed toy raccoon couldn’t get me. The raccoon now lives on our shelf like this.

This story is making it sound like my dad hates Brandon. Or really loves raccoons. . . . . . .

This is how Cutty feels about the stuffed raccoon.

He was either trying to get it to play with him or he was trying to kill it.

It’s good to know that my cat would protect me if a raccoon ever decided to wander into the apartment. I mean really, raccoons’ tiny hands are SO CREEPY!

Halloween Cookies

(dedicated to leah w. because she loves cookies)

Before I start. . .I got the idea for these cookies from www.lilaloa.blogspot.com. She is an awesome cookie decorator and I would not have come up with these if it weren’t for her. I just want to be clear that I am not claiming this idea as my own. (check out her site, she has so many great ideas)

I have been wanting to try these for a while and was super excited to have a day off with nothing planned- except cookies! I had never made chocolate cookies before and looking back I should have added some black food coloring to make the final product a little spiffier.

Right now I have to use two of the Martha Stewart silpats on my counter. I cannot wait to get a larger one (hint hint)

Lilaloa’s chocolate cookie recipe really does not spread when it bakes so these pre-cut lines in the dough are still there when the cookie comes out of the oven!

See! The lines are still there!!

Sorry the lighting is so bad. The one that looks blue is really purple. This is a great tip and I cannot remember where I saw it initially, but I use the glasses to prop open the icing bags so that they are easy to fill. It makes it so easy and mess free!

The light was fading fast, and since it wasn’t great to begin with, I snapped some quick pictures.

Brandon called these ‘reverse jack ‘o lanterns’.

I almost didn’t make any of the witch cookies, but they turned out to be one of my favorites. I was also surprised by the vampire bat. The moon on the other hand was less than great.

Cutty hung out with me while I was making these, but he was much more excited when I opened the package of fresh beef for dinner (short ribs and mashed potatoes, delicious!)

Inspiration

My friend Ashley is an inspiration. She inspires me in a lot of ways. Most recently in a crafty way 🙂 She made a mumpkin (a pumpkin covered in mum blossoms) for her sister-in-law and I just  couldn’t help myself. I had to make a version of my own.I used two different colors of mums for mine. I tried to mix it up a little with patterns. To make the stripes appear straight( on the one on the left) they actually curved toward the front so the back of that mumpkin looks kind of wonky. The other one had a great pattern going and then I ran out of white blossoms so I had to fill in the bottom with purple. In the end they actually are fabulous and add color and fresh flowers in my kitchen and living room. I love having fresh flowers in our home. This was a lot of fun as a fall project- and an alternative to carving a pumpkin.

There is a link http://www.lowescreativeideas.com/idea-library/projects/Mumpkins_0811.aspx that gives a good tutorial on how to make these. However, I did not have an awl (neither did Ashley for hers, she used something her mom had) so I used a hercules hook (http://www.amazon.com/Hercules-Hook-Wall-Hooks-10-pk/dp/B001420MVU ). I used to use hercules hooks in my old apartment to hang pictures and mirrors. However in the apartment we are living in now the walls are over 100 years old and made of plaster so the hercules hook doesn’t work so well. . .unless you are making a mumpkin 🙂 I guess my point is, use anything with a sharp point to poke the holes and it is great to look around and find something you already have.

On another note, the glittery dot pumpkins I made by placing dots of elmers glue on the mini pumpkins and coating them in glitter. I got the idea from somewhere and now I cannot for the life of me remember where. If I find it soon I will let you know.

Cutty’s Collar

Yesterday Cutty got two new things.

One is this dreamwave scratcher. He was using our bedspread as his scratching post and that was not OK. Good news, he loves this new one.

The other thing he got was a new collar. He loves it so much he keeps taking it off and leaving it in fun places for me to find.

I think he looks handsome in green.

He thinks it is really fun to bat it around the floor. He has left it on for a few hours at a time today. Then he takes it off again to play hide-and-seek-the-collar.