Monday, December 31, 2012

Making the Best of the Bits

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas.

The family and I enjoyed a lovely Christmas week. No school for the girls and a week off work for the Husband. Woohoo! We've been movie watching, game playing, laughing and spending time together with a big side of treat munching. 

Oh my have there been treats!

One of my favorites this Christmas was white chocolate dipped pretzel crisps sprinkled with crushed candy cane. 


These are so good! It's very difficult to eat just one. I really want to eat them all and not share with anyone else! Which was a problem because I had intended to give some as gifts.

Giving bags filled with these little delights was made even more difficult by the fact that the bag of pretzel crisps I bought was more pretzel bits than whole crisps. BAH!

There were exactly 11 whole crisps in the entire bag! The rest were bits and dust. I couldn't believe it.

I called the pretzel company, who shall remain nameless, they assured me this was very unusual. They also promised to send me a coupon for a new bag of pretzel crisps. It was very nice of them. I however still had the problem of no more crisps to dip in chocolate and sprinkle with candy cane bits to give as gifts.

So what does one do when they have nothing but pretzel crisp bits? They make caramel Chex mix instead! That's what I did anyway.

This recipe was given to me by a friend a few years ago. It's almost as good as pretzel crisps dipped in white chocolate with candy cane sprinkles, but you don't feel as guilty about eating it by the handful!

Place 4 cups Corn Chex into a large roasting pan.

Plus 4 cups of Rice Chex or Kix cereal. I like to use Kix.

Then add 3 handfuls of pretzels or in this case I added 3 handfuls of broken pretzel crisps!

You can also add in 3 handfuls of peanuts if you like peanuts, which I do not, so I do not add them.

In a sauce pan combine 1 stick of butter, 1/2 cup brown sugar, and 1/4 cup light corn syrup.

Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until boiling.  Allow sugar mixture to boil for 1 and 1/2 minutes. 

Pour sugar mixture over Chex mix. Stir and place in a 350˚ oven for 8 minutes. 

Remove from oven and stir well.

Place mix back in the oven for another 8 minutes.

Remove from oven, stir, then pour mix onto a counter, I use the kitchen table, to cool. Gently break apart any clumps with a wooden spoon.

You may need to use that spoon to fend off family members who try to swipe the Chex mix while it's still cooling!

A perfect treat for Christmas! Or for watching the big game. Or for New Year's celebrations! 

So yummy!

Wishing you plenty of whole pretzel crisps in the new year or at least buckets full of pretzel crisp Chex mix made from any broken bits! 

Happy New Year


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Valley

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

2  He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. 

 3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake.

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

The valley of the shadow of death. We feel that don't we? Oh sometimes we may forget for awhile, but it returns. The valley is here. It's now. 

The valley holds the shadow of illness that threatens to cut a life short. It's the shadow of unexpected tragedy that takes a loved one too soon. It's the shadow of loved ones who, though they lived long lives and blessed many, we are mourning because they are no longer with us. And we each have our own shadow.

Yes, we know the shadow of the valley too well. 

Having said goodbye to loved ones the last two Christmases my family has heavy hearts this year. It's the reason for my lack of blogging lately. The words have been lodged behind my heart that is swollen with sorrow. That's alright. I grieve because I loved. I would not trade in love to be free of the grief! But the shadow is dark.

We especially feel the shadow of the valley when we learn the horrific news that a person walked into a school and took the precious lives of so many. 

We are keenly aware we're in the valley of the shadow of death then.

But the shadow of death doesn't get the final say.

4 I will fear no evil; 

How can that be? 

How can we fear no evil?

We want a way to know loss will never happen again! Not to us! Not to those we love! We want loved ones healed! We want them to live long lives! How do we escape this valley of the shadow of death??

We want solutions!

God had this one arrow in His quiver. The only perfect arrow ever to exist, a masterpiece, priceless to Him. Cherished far above all the hosts of heaven. Nothing could compare. His only heritage. His only son. But as God looked on a lost world - desperate and needy and in the clutches of the enemy (in the valley of the shadow of death) - His heart was overwhelmed. Though they had sinned miserably against Him and few sought Him, God created them in love and could not love them less.

Love reached sacrificially into the quiver and pulled forth the solitary arrow. The quiver would now be empty, His cherished arrow in the hands of hateful men. Yes, God so loved the world; but God also loved His only begotten Son with inexpressible, divine affection. The divine dilemma: two loves. And one would demand the sacrifice of the other. He positioned the weapon, pulled back the bow, steadied His grip, aimed straight for the heart: "And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger."

Oh what unfathomable love! What sacrifice! All who will lower their shields of unbelief and let the healing arrow penetrate shall be saved! - Beth Moore from Breaking Free

Saved! Rescued! Loved beyond compare! The purpose and meaning of Christmas! No need to fear evil!

Heart weary? Yes!

In need of still waters and green pastures in the midst of the valley? YES!

But no need to fear!

for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cups runs over!

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever! Psalm 23

The valley may seem long. It may get very deep. It may make our hearts heavy and weary. But we will not remain in the valley forever. 

When shields are dropped and love penetrates our hearts with the arrow of saving grace, our final destination is to dwell in the house of the Lord, forever!


Monday, December 10, 2012

A New Passion

I've taken up knitting.

I tried knitting a few years ago. I gave it up. I think I started with a project that was too difficult and took too long. I may have needed some instant craft project gratification. I know, I know, we are a nation of people who are constantly looking for instant gratification and it's not good. However, for a hobby, I think it's excusable. Right?


This fall I decided to try again. I decided to try an easier project. Yes, I went for the instant gratification.

I started with this simple cowl. Not bad.

Then I made this one. Nice!

And this one! A handsome cowl for my handsome guy!

Then these two!! Looking good!

Now I'm hooked! I can't stop! Knitting is my new obsession passion! And with all of the great tutorials that can be found online, it's been easy to learn.

I found the patterns/tutorials for these cowls at Knit and Bake and Tentenknits.

I also follow The Purl Bee, where I've found several knitting projects I hope to try once I'm over my need for instant craft project gratification. You know, when I'm willing to work on something that may take longer to complete. I expect that will be anytime now. Yep, anytime.

For the time being, I'm excited to have covered everyone in cowls. Perfect timing too as we just enjoyed a lovely snow day yesterday receiving 10 inches of snow and now it's cold outside.


Well, back to my basket of yarn! 

Happy Monday!


Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving Weekend in Pictures

Thanksgiving weekend is, hands down, my favorite weekend of the year!

It's pie bakin', 

(A little sugar sprinkled on the crust this time. A little bubbling over action too. Ooooo)

potato mashin', (Pioneer Woman's recipe. Just look at all that cream cheese! YUM!!!)

(FYI - DO NOT, under any circumstances, wrap your arms around your spouse, who is elbow deep in a hot pot mashing potatoes, and kiss her. She will likely forget what she is about, rest her arm on the side of the hot pot, and get a wicked burn! Just sayin')

Christmas light untanglin',

fresh air breathin',

game playin',

(Whoa! Where did the focus go??)

turkey wrapped in bacon cookin',

(Oh yeah!!)

Mom's Mandarin orange salad scarfin',

snow fallin', temperature droppin',

Christmas craftin', (look what I made!!)

Christmas tree gettin',

children watchin'!!!

(Hold those little hands folks!!)

wagon ridin',

Santa spyin', 

(There may have been a little mommy of big girls cryin'. My girls said they are too old for getting a photo taken with Santa. -waaaaaaah-

goofy actin', (But not apparently too old to do this. Go figure!)

tree decoratin',

junk food snackin',

Again with the focus. -snort-


Yep, favorite weekend of the year! -sigh-


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Plant 'em now

I usually plant Amaryllis bulbs too late.

I get beautiful blooms, but almost always a week or two after Christmas instead of during Christmas. I'm hoping I'll have better timing this year.

While you can purchase Amaryllis bulbs individually from your local garden center and plant them in your own pots with regular potting soil, I really like the convenience of a bulb kit. I purchased this kit at Target. It's by Smith & Hawken.

The kit includes everything you need to plant your Christmas Amaryllis, except perfect timing. -just sayin'-

A pretty pot, one Amaryllis bulb, and a hockey puck!!

Drop that hockey puck in a bucket. OK it's not really a hockey puck. It's a dirt puck. 

Add water according to the kit instructions.

Now watch that hockey dirt puck soak up all that water and VOILA! You now have the perfect amount of soil in which to plant your Amaryllis bulb. Easy Peasy!

Place 3/4 of the soil in the pretty pot. Set in the bulb. Add the rest of the soil. Be careful to leave the top 1/3 of the bulb above the soil.

Water the bulb well then don't water it again until you see that it has begun to grow and the soil is dry.

Boom! Done - in only 15 minutes! Thank you Smith & Hawken!! 

Now anywhere from 3 to 12 weeks I should get a beautiful bloom. I'm really hoping for 5 weeks!! Please please please!

Since I was in the planting mood...

I started Paperwhites too.

Now these I do purchase individually at my local garden center, Bachman's to be exact. At 89 cents each, you can't go wrong. They too will bloom in several weeks, usually 8 to 10. Perfect timing to enjoy some blooms in the winter months!

Paperwhites do not need soil. Simply fill a vase, pot, or even a jar with marbles or stones. I found this little planter at a garage sale. Cute isn't it? And perfect for Paperwhites!

Set the bulbs on top of the marbles.

Add water until the bottom only of the bulb is submerged. Set the bulbs in a cool dark place for about a week or until the roots begin to grow. 

Once the roots begin to grow into the stones, set the pot in a sunny room.

Paperwhites have lovely white flowers that have the most divine smell. Good for getting one through a long cold winter! Course with the temps in the 60s in Minnesota right now it's hard to believe we'll have a long cold winter, but it will come, when we least expect it, and it will be cold. -bah-

It's a nice idea to plant second set of Paperwhites in a couple of weeks, then you'll have more blooms when the first ones are spent.

This one already has some nice root growth!

Unfortunately Paperwhites can grow too tall sometimes and begin to tip over. Don't fret! Just clip the stems and place them in a vase with water. They'll last a good while and still smell A - MAZING!!

So if you haven't done it already, hop to it! You don't want your Christmas Amaryllis to be late!! Like mine, for the last 5 years. -sigh-


P.S. I hope you all have a fantastic Thanksgiving!