Recipes with Dear Emmeline

Just let me make this very clear.... I am not a food blogger, do not enjoy documenting cooking progress nor do I like to rewrite recipes or take pictures of food. 

I do however enjoy eating, and I know good when I taste it.

This weeks link party is recipes hosted by Dear Emmeline and she is cooking up foods with holiday leftovers.

 I have been trying for 10 years to perfect or find a chocolate caramel recipe that is as good as my butter caramel recipe.  Last year I gave yet another recipe a try.

It was "the one".  The one that is now in the lineup of favorite holiday treats to make year after year.  The one good enough to end the yearly search for a chocolate caramel recipe.

With just the perfect creaminess and a distinct chocolate flavor.  I found the recipe here at Epicurious.  It is a salted caramel recipe that I love, but my family doesn't like the salt on top so I leave it off.  The caramels do look more gourmet with the salt flakes, but I haven't had anyone feel slighted without it.

The only change I have is to NOT cook it to the temp they call for in the original recipe.  The original recipe calls for cooking to 255* on a candy thermometer.  I find cooking to that temp makes the caramel too hard.  I recommend 252 and no higher for perfect ones, at least in my kitchen.  Cook it right at 252 and when it starts to go above that, turn it off.

Unlike my butter caramels this one is a two step boil process.  A little more work, but after a 10 year search for the perfect tasting chocolate caramels, I'm not messing with it because the outcome is excellent.  I doubled the batch this year without any problem.

I use Ghiradelli 60% bittersweet chocolate baking bars.  I won't use another brand because these give me the taste I was going for.  Yummmm.......

Remember to stop in at Dear Emmeline's and link up a holiday recipe.  For the full chocolate caramel recipe/tutorial, head over to Epicurious .... they don't mind writing out tutorials.  I like to just get right to the best part....... the eating.  And these are excellent eating if you want to indulge.

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'Twas the Night Before

 It's the most wonderful time of the year for more reasons than one.  We have lots of traditions here, but one of the oldest takes place before bed on Christmas Eve.

If you look closely there is no baby in the manger.  Jesus wasn't born till Christmas Day, so for over 20 years on Christmas Eve when all is still, I or one of the kids lay Him in his bed. 

The stable was a gift from child #5 when he was about 10 years old.  He made it for me because he knew I wanted one the right size for our nativity.  I love it.

The stockings are hung, the treats are made, most of the presents are wrapped, and the last of the homemade gifts are waiting for their finishing touches.  

All is quiet.  Well not really, it's rarely quiet here! 

Faux Crate Tree Stand Cover  see here
  Merry Christmas

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Tongue In Cheek Tuesday on Thursday

Reminder...... Tis The Season Link party this week Christmas recipes at Alderberry HillCome on, I know you got some recipes, so get your festive self over there and link up! 

        Tongue in Cheek Tuesday

Kirby from KirbAppeal suggested a day set aside from projects and seriousness to poke fun and asked if Dani from SiloHillFarm and BlissFromBlissRanch (that's me) wanted in on it.

Of course I said yeah, because I am pretty capable of poking fun at myself or anyone else for that matter.

Lets start with a definition from WiseGeek:
Tongue in cheek:
When described as “tongue in cheek,” it means it should not be taken seriously. Tongue in cheek humor is often wry, subtle, and sometimes difficult to catch, in contrast with more blatant forms of humor.

I might have trouble with this, I am usually blatant and I also had to look up wry.

Or this one from Wikipedia, (who also wanted a donation while I was there reading):
Tongue-in-cheek is a phrase used as a figure of speech to imply that a statement is humorously or otherwise not seriously intended and it should not be taken at face value.

So if I have it correct a good example of tongue in cheek would be:  "helll yeah I want to donate money to Wikipedia, I can't think of any place that deserves my cash more".

Or maybe that's just a lie?  Whichever. 

For the kick off to Tongue in Cheek Tuesday, that may or may not happen regularly and might not even be on Tuesdays, I decided to just poke fun at myself with out any tongue in cheek because sadly the story you are about to read is true, blatantly true.....

Last night I rushed around to get ready for a Christmas party of a committee I am on.  I got all dolled up, Brawn wore jeans without holes, and we loaded ourselves up in the cold and headed out.  We showed up promptly at 7:05, cream cheese pepper dip and homemade caramels in hand.  Ummm mmmm, yummy. 

In fact we were the first to arrive.  Odd no one else was on time. Brawn said he didn't recall ever being first to a party. 

Ding dong went the doorbell.  The hostess answered in a festive red sweater but she really didn't look all that happy to see us.


You read that right we showed up to someone's house for a party on the wrong damm day. 
Four.     Days.     Late.  

I apologize now to my oldest daughter..... these people travel in your circle and you will probably have to endure jokes at my expense.  Please don't let my son in law agree with them, defend me.

Of course I won't live it down at home either.   Child #6 has already threw it back in my face.  I told him he has basketball practice on Thursday and he said he didn't think so.  I said authoritatively, well it's written on my calendar, I got that info from somewhere!

And the little brat said.......
"ohhhhh.... just like that PARTY was written down on your calendar?"

I had pepper jelly dip for breakfast today.  And lunch.  And snack.

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Shelf Elf

It seems everyone has an elf on the shelf.  Ours came to live with us over 20 years ago and I thought it was a novel idea then.  Not one of my friends had one. He doesn't look the same as yours.  His tag said that he was a shelf elf, so that's his name Shelf Elf, but we say it as if it is all one word... Shelfelf, we never thought of giving him a real name.  But like everyone else's elf, he came to observe our behavior and report back to Santa on Christmas Eve.

Never ever did the chief mom elf ever think to pose him doing hilarious things like the elf's these days. Did I just not get that memo all those years ago? I feel like we missed out, or maybe our elf is a slacker?

While in college daughter #2 was a nanny for a little girl and wanted to give her an elf like ours - to her a shelf elf looks like our elf.  She couldn't find one.  So she made one.

She has some mad skills in all areas of art.  But she wasn't painting this elf.  She wasn't sculpting it out of clay.  She wasn't designing it on the computer.  No she said "I'm gonna sew one".  I thought... 'sure you are honey'.  Doesn't she know she is my daughter and my daughters don't know how to sew because their mother doesn't know how to sew?

She said she was going to make a girl elf, only asking me if we had some green thread.  Yeah right.  Helloooo, we have the basic colors for emergencies, no thread in creative colors.  So she took beige.  'Alllllrightttt dear'  I mumbled in a disbelieving tone thinking there was no way she could sew an elf.

Her elf was made from an old sock and some fabric scraps. The arms are made from valances from my oldest daughters room.  Really not sure where she got the green.  She stitched this little elf for a special little girl.  She packaged it up, mailed it off with instructions from Santa.

She got word that they love it..... and that behavior has been top notch this December.

I'm sure glad she didn't listen to me when I all but told her she wouldn't be able to sew one.

Linked the little elf up to the All Star Party @FullCircleCreations

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Radio Flyer Wagon Centerpiece

Sometimes when I get ideas they don't work.  Surprise!

I wanted to take the wheels off this old wagon and use them on a willow coffee table so I could roll it out of the way to vacuum.  And because I thought it would look cool.

The wheels are rubber.  And if you push hard on black rubber it makes black marks.  And the carpet is some shade of white wool.  So no wagon wheels because I have enough marks on whatever that white shade of wool carpet is.

Tell me... what is that silhouette riding in that wagon?  
A bear?  Frumpy middle aged woman?  Someone wearing a gas mask?
Sure doesn't look like a little kid to me.  
And is it just me, or does the handle part look like someone watering the lawn?

The wheels might not have worked, but I had a perfectly good (in a junk sort of way) wagon top to use. Brawn attached the brackets from the bottom of the wagon to the inside and put a silver pipe carrying handle on it, to turn it into a wagon tote.  It showed up on the table just in time to decorate for Christmas.

Ball canning jars with twine, and the left over junk from my Christmas bins fill the wagon because I couldn't find my big bag of pine cones.  It will turn up for Easter I'm sure.  For safety, dollar store battery candles top the batting stuffed jars that mimic snow, and for only the $1.00 cost of those candles I have a unique centerpiece that glows softly.  In a big sort of way.... it's size is 36"x17".

 Seriously what is that logo *thing* riding in the wagon?  It has booobs!
(Typo on purpose so people that google that word won't find my blog)

Also pulled my wagon over to the party at:
Salvaged Junk Candles@FunkyJunk

My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia

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Silver Bells Sign

One day a couple weeks ago daughter #2 sat down and started painting some signs.  As she sat with some La Craie paint sample pots in front of her I asked what she was doing and she told me making signs.  (Duh huh?)

When I pointed the camera at her she gave me that evil death glare.  I said "it's only your hand!".
In the corner of the room sat the unopened box containing my new Silhouette Cameo.  I suggested she try it out.  Neither of us wanted to read the directions so she just went about her business and lettered by hand.  She is much more tidy than I - I needed to use the Silhouette for the copy cat challenge candy cane crate.

 Have yourself a merry little Christmas

Red dogwood branches became the frame,
and it received a dusting of fine multi colored glitter.
She gifted one to her big sister and one to her sister-in-law for their homes. 

Then she started on a third one.

When I walked by I asked who that one was for; "it's for the mantel, you can't look at it".

So of course as she painted I stood over her and read it anyway.

Then tears started to run down my face.

With just a touch of disbelieving OMG in her voice, she looked up and said "are you crying?" then she hugged me and with a more sympathetic tone said "ohhh mamma".

I asked if she knew why I was crying; "well yeah, it was gramma's favorite Christmas song" she said confidently.

My sweet thoughtful daughter.  Yes I will forever hear my own mom singing it.

But my reply.....
"No that's not why I'm crying".... "I'm crying because you remembered".

The words that she painted are special no doubt, but more special to me is the fact that she knew they would be special.  Usually a person says 'it's the thought that counts' when they want the effort to be recognized and not necessarily the gift.  Not in this case.

In this case I received a gift I love and it really was the thought that counted.

Don't forget to link up to this weeks Party hostess - The Ironstone Nest - with your outdoor decor.  My decor got snowed on!

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C.C.C.C.C. (Christmas Crate Copy Cat Challenge)

This post marks the maiden voyage of my new Silhouette Cameo and what better way to christen it than by using it to make my copy cat Christmas craft for the Christmas copy cat challenge at Debbie Doos.

You got that straight?

It could also be known as the CCCCCCC... Candy Cane Christmas Crate Copy Cat Challenge.  So I sailed the 7 C's.

But before I get to my project let me snow show you what arrived at our house this weekend.......

 The above photo is looking out my front door.  Christmas turned white.
See the log reindeer on the right all covered in downy white fur?

So this morning I was up at the crack of dawn with coffee in hand, to finish work on my copy cat, and this was the view from the kitchen table.  I was surrounded by cold white flakes.

Now I'd like to tell 'ya I was up so early because I am very devoted to having something to link for the copy cat challenge but the truth is I needed to get this painted and off my kitchen table.  We ate dinner with it smack dab in the middle last night.

And I am that devoted to the copy cat challenge.

What is it?  It's a three sided bottomless box, what does it look like, duh. 

I wanted to use a big galvanized bin to put our Christmas tree stand in.  But the stand didn't fit.  I wanted to use a basket.  But it didn't fit in that either.  So I asked my wonderful husband who had more than enough other things to do (like shovel or plow the driveway) to make me a three sided faux crate that I could cleverly slide in to hide the tree stand.....

 We put our stand on a red rubber mat so when we over fill the well it doesn't leak through to the carpet.  Not that we would ever do that.

On my shopping list is some fabric for a new tree skirt that of course I found on Pinterest, maybe tomorrow, but till then we are using one we have had forever.  It's a two sided comforter.  One side has green plaid, the other has pine cones.  Nothing special but it has a big wing span to hold fallen pine needles.

Letters all cut out as stencils
Not only is this post the maiden voyage for my Silhouette Cameo, but also for the Miss Mustard Seed milk paint I have had for a while.  I bought mine from Miss Flibbertigibbet.  I like to try all the new paints.  I have quite the collection going of chalk paint colors, and so far I've liked everything I have tried.

This is my inspiration crate.  I pinned it from the talented and inspiring Becky at Beyond The Picket Fence.   So since this is a copy cat challenge, I'm copying it!

Beyond The Picket Fence

I started with a coat of ASCP in old white, then mixed up my tricycle red milk paint and painted over my stencils.  Peeled 'em off, put some dark wax on and just like North Pole magic my crate was done.

Perfect to hide the tree stand.  And I love it.  Thank you Becky for the inspiration.
This was the first project I didn't have to hand paint letters.  I didn't save any time because I had to figure out that machine, figure out what I wanted to write, figure out the font I wanted to use, read more directions on the milk paint, and basically I think this took me 3 days to complete, but I couldn't leave the house due to the snow anyway!

If I get the new tree skirt done then I can move on to wrapping gifts.  Even if I don't get a new tree skirt made I'm gonna have to wrap presents huh?

Of course I'm linking this to... The One, The Only, Copy Cat Challenge at Debbie Doos
As well as some of my other favorites:
Pinworthy Projects @JustUsFour
Happy Hour @CraftyScrappyHappy
Wildly Original @IGottaCreate
Cowgirl Up @CedarHillRanch 
Whats in the Gunny Sack @TheGunnySack 
Tuesday's Treasures @MyUncommonSliceofSuburbia 

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Santa Mantel Party

I've got three mantels.  Yup, it's true.  I have one mantel I usually decorate in the family room and two that I might put some garland on or leftover lights.... if I feel inspired.

I also have a Santa collection that has never had a home.  I scope out a random spot to sprawl them out on and many years I don't even feel like letting them out of their bin.

But this year I have a party to attend.

The first stop is Christmas mantels over at Embracing Change.  I'm embracing change myself just by decorating more than one mantel!  10 bloggers to link up with, ending back at the ranch with me in January.  Got a mantel?  Head over and link 'er up.

At my house this year the Santas are loose.  
Bedroom mantel, meet Santa.

Instead of spreading the jolly old elf all over the place, I put the crew with some unused tree thingy's inside a Howitzer box.  (I do believe Shotgun Shell Santa needs to be here too.)

That's it, nothing earth shattering or amazing.  It's the first time the Santa gang has been corralled and the first time the bedroom mantel looks like I put some decorations on there on purpose. 

My favorite is the bowl full of jelly Santa on the right.  I think I got him when my belly looked the same.

So I stayed in the groove, the Santa Claus is Coming to Town groove.....  because not all the Santas fit in the Howitzer box.  I spied the metal tool box tote, added mostly St. Nick's my kids made, and presto - my normally undecorated bedroom (unless you count wrapping paper and misc. required holiday items all over the floor for a month, as decorating) is beginning to look a lot like Christmas.  It's a Christmas miracle of the North Pole kind.

The front Santa is made on a soda can out of some cement like stuff.
He's about 20 years old and I love his crusty self and the kid who made him.

Next up will be the family room mantel and the story of the hand made Silver Bells sign.

Don't forget to head over to Embracing Change and link up your Christmas mantel.  As you can see it doesn't have to be anything elaborate to be a box full of Christmas cheer.

Santa's on his way to:
Embracing Change Christmas Mantel Party
It's Party Time @ThreeMangoSeeds

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