Thursday, December 20, 2012

Being grateful. Saltine toffee.

A lot has been happening in our household. In just two days, my sister-in-law, brother-in-law, niece and nephew will be flying across the pond to spend Christmas with us. We are so excited and trying to make everything just right in anticipation of our time together. It's been a rough year for our family, so I really want to make it special. (I'm tearing up as I write this!)

On top of everything else, I've really been feeling grateful for all the good fortune in my life. My husband, my family, my friends, and I have a job I enjoy very much.  Life is good even with all the terrible happenings in our world.  It's been pretty sad around here, lately.

So, enough sap and on to some of the things we've been doing.  I spent the past couple nights in a mad frenzy wrapping presents so that they're done before our company gets here.  Last night I finished my share, woohoo!  But tonight, I've really got to get on my baking. I haven't done any, but I did make some delicious treats last week.  Saltine toffee AKA Christmas Crack.   I was really skeptical the first time I had it, but after my first bite, I was hooked. I've made two batches already this year, and I'll probably be making two more.  It's just so easy. Here's the low-down:

Saltine Toffee
1 sleeve of saltines (40 crackers)
1 cup of brown sugar
1 cup of butter (2 sticks)
1 tsp of vanilla
1 bag of chocolate chips (I like Hershey's or Ghiardelli. They melt pretty easily.)
Sugar or nuts for the topping

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
-Take a cookie sheet and line with aluminum foil or parchment paper. If using foil, spray foil with cooking spray.
-Line bottom of sheet with saltines.
-Add 1 cup of brown sugar, 1 cup of butter and 1 tsp. of vanilla to small pot and melt until boiling for 3 minutes. Mixture will be golden brown.
-Pour mixture all over the saltines.
-Bake in oven for 7-8 minutes.
-Bring out of oven and sprinkle chocolate chips all over.
-Throw back in oven for a couple minutes so that chips are melty.
-Spread chips with a spatula, so you have a nice even coating.
-Sprinkle top with Christmas sugars or sprinkles or chopped nuts if you like. I like red sugar and non-pareils in red, green and white.
-Refrigerate for at least an hour, peel off foil or parchment, and then cut into squares. I like mine about 1 in. x 1 in., but you can do them bigger if you like.

Boil sugar, butter, vanilla for 3 minutes.

Boiled mixture nice and golden.

Pour over saltines.

Spread melted chips all over.

Refrigerate for an hour. Then cut into squares and serve.  Sorry, I accidentally deleted my photo of this cut into squares.
 Make this recipe with some Christmas tunes in the background and maybe a glass of Bailey's Irish Creme.  You'll be good to go. That's how I roll.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

We need a little Christmas, right this very minute!

I am loving how festive my house feels. So cozy and nice. I just want to cuddle up on the couch with a blanket, a Little Debbie Christmas tree cake (yes, I still love them, and I'm on a diet.), and watch a Christmas movie. My DVR is out of control with all the movies I've been recording the past few days. They're mostly corny, but I do enjoy them.

As I mentioned, we're getting company from England in a couple weeks, so we're in overdrive to get the house in order. But, I've been focused on the decorations lately.

My Mom painted this ornament for me when I was about three years old. The back is covered in silver glitter. This and the other four she painted, were always the prize ornaments to pull out of he styrofoam filled box. They still are.

I inherited my Mother's love of decorating for Christmas. When I was about 10 years old, she started giving me and my sister each a new ornament every year, and she still does to this day.  So you can imagine, I have tons of ornaments, because I buy plenty for myself, too.  I told my husband a couple days ago, that we need to build on the back of our house to accommodate all the decorations we have and can't put out. I really wouldn't mind that at all.

Good gravy. I love this photo. Rosie is standing around wondering what I'm doing.

Looking into the dining room.

My village and manger. 

I was really anxious about putting the village together, because my parents always had one when we were growing up. (In fact, they gave me this base over Thanksgiving.)  I don't know why it stressed me out so much, I guess all the fiddley steps, but I think it came out pretty good. We bought those houses at CVS a few years ago after Christmas, and I think they were maybe 50 cents each.

Right after I took these pictures last night, my white lights blew out. Oh, joy. I guess I'll be trouble shooting when I get home tonight. 

Here's a picture of our den. Since we had a four foot tree that fit perfectly in there, we figured, why not?

Cozy den.

Monday, December 10, 2012

It's that time of year.

It's been a little hectic since right before Thanksgiving. I got sick, we traveled afar, traveled back, went to NYC for the day and worked along the way. I lost my blogging mojo for a bit, but I'm trying to get back in the swing.

Right before we left for Thanksgiving, we received our long awaited shipment of items from my husband's family in England.  It's been a process (sometimes emotional) unpacking everything and trying to decorate and get ready for our Christmas company all at the same time.  It was nice to unpack and find that some of the items have the "smell" of their home. We're getting there, slowly but surely.

Here are a couple of our wonderful additions.

We got two of these cabinets. Right now, they have random items, but we'll arrange nicely with knick-knacks and books eventually.

This rug, we loved the moment we saw it. When we had our second wedding in England, this was used in the floor of the tent, during our second reception (yes, we had two receptions! - the first was in a proper hall) in my in-law's back yard. And, Rosie looks so cute up against it all.

I think the rug looks pretty nice with our furniture, but it does make realize we need more color! We inherited those curtains from the previous owner, but it's time for some color.  I might even like to repaint the walls a softer shade.
Baby steps.

We also got a huge slew of wall hangings that we need to get to hanging, and my husband got his long awaited vinyl collection from his youth. 

Since we're having company for Christmas, I really went wild decorating. I'll post more pics soon.  With some Perry Como and Andy Williams in the background, it's feeling quite festive!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Do you know what today is...?

It's our Rosie-versary.

It's been a year since we adopted our lovely, little Rosie at the Danbury Animal Welfare Society. At the time, I don't know what we were thinking adopting a dog. It was November. Right before Thanksgiving. My Hubs was in the throes of Mono and company was arriving, with two cats, for Thanksgiving. We had just survived and were recuperating from a massive October snow storm that brought down the state.
Rosie, formerly True, came from Tennessee where she spent her life on a chain outdoors. She had a sister named Averil, but she was adopted right away. She had the same white fluffy hair as Rosie, but she had blue eyes.  Pretty, but I liked Rosie's dark brown eyes.

We went out on a Saturday to meet a couple of dogs. Rosie was one we had in mind, but earlier that week, the shelter site said she had been adopted.  We met this other dog named Lexi, who was so darn cute, but her energy level made us a little nervous. She was wild!  We decided we were ready to meet True and just then, she walked through the door. Hubs and I walked her around the grassy area, and every couple of minutes, she stopped at our feet and jumped up wanting to be petted.  She was scruffy and cute and so happy.

The day we met.

We were disappointed and irritated (we live an hour from the shelter) that there was actually an adoption screening process!  We'd been looking for months and the local SPCA wasn't nearly as fussy.  So, we filled out our paperwork, pages and pages, and filled in our references and went home and waited anxiously for our references to get called.  In retrospect, I guess this a pretty good practice. They want to make sure you're not interested on a whim and that your pup is going to a good home. 

A few days later, we got the call, all our references were good to go, and we could come get our girl.
Hubs drove there after work to get her while I stopped at Target to get the basics. We didn't want to buy ahead of time and jinx it. 

Now, it's been a year, and Rosie is our girl. She spends her time sniffing the back yard.  She lives for her daily walk and eats her breakfast and supper like she's never eaten before.  She's put on a little weight and her hair has gotten so thick and full and shiny and developed such pretty color.  Her ears are caramel colored and led us to calling her Fozzie Bear which morphed into Rosie Bear, Ro Bear, Bear and Little Bear. She has some work to do on her social skills, but she's come a long way. She snuggles on the couch and is spoiled rotten. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

It looks and feels like a cupcake.

I was browsing my daily news mags online, and I came across this article about Kirstie Alley's home for sale in Maine. I clicked on it, not because I care so much about Kirstie Alley, but because my husband and I love Maine. So, I was a little curious to see what it was like.

At first glance, it's sort of picture perfect from the exterior. Kind of a dream house in my mind (at least one of my dream homes). When I got to the interior photos, my jaw dropped and I sort of gasped at the delights before me. The pinks. The greens. The touches of blue. It looks and feels like a soft and a sweet cupcake, and I just want to dive in.  I love all the mixed and matched patterns and textures of fabrics layered upon layer.

Love the valance.

I really love the quilt at the foot of the bed.

I'm trying to learn to find the right balance in my house of color and pattern, which is difficult because my gut reaction is to always go safe and subdued. But when I look around and I see things other people are doing, how they use color, and I feel my reaction to what they do, I want to push myself to step a little out of my comfort zone. Be a bit bolder. I don't think this is what I'm aiming for exactly, but I love the feeling I get when I look at these pictures.

Here's the link to HGTV to see all of the photos of her house.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Lilac Room

Our guest bedroom, now known as The Lilac Room, transformation is really starting to take shape. (I plan to name all of our rooms as if we were some old grand estate. Even though we're a 60's ranch.) I was really worried about the color, French Lilac by Benjamin Moore, when we first started. It seemed rather shocking after a mostly muted wall color palette in the rest of the house.  Once I finished the trim, and the white was so much brighter, it really started to make sense.

Here's what it looked like when we toured the house.  I think the walls were cream, but probably hadn't been painted in 20 plus years. It was pretty scuffed and worn.

Here's where we stand now.

We still need some curtains and a few more accessories, but I really like how it's coming together. Down the line, we'll be getting rid of the white dresser. It's been in our family for over 20 years, given as a hand-me-down from a family friend.  It was pretty old even when we got it. Now, the sides are warped and peeling, but fresh paint from a few years ago has helped to mask it a bit.  I have a matching table cloth across the top to hide some other imperfections, too.  The wall hangings are a hodge podge of things we've collected. The matching floral prints were a $10 find at an antique/junk store.  I'll be hanging that mirror; I just need a stronger hook, because it's heavy! Eventually, I think I'll be getting a really nice old, piece from my Mom to replace the dresser. But, that's down the road.  I plan to get a new bed skirt to go with the curtains, and I'll be changing the lamps out when we get new ones for our bedroom.

The gold framed city scape was something my Gramma gave me.  She's always giving me all sorts of finds.  The gold frame really looks great against the color.  I should have taken a close up of it.

And, the peach orchard which was right down the road from our house, was painted by Meg West. She was a local painter when we lived back in Virginia, and had a way of capturing the essence of our region.  Some of her stuff really wowed me. I should have taken a close up of that, too. (I'm still getting my blog groove on!)

I loved the sheets we got at Target. They seemed to go just perfectly, and the purple pillows were on sale for $8 each. I thought it was a good deal, and a good match, so I scooped them up.

I really like how it's turned out so far. I think it's quite the nice escape if you're coming to visit us, which just so happens, the Lilac Room is having its first guest tonight. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

It's against my religion, I tell ya!

It's that time of year. I find myself ranting like an old lady. Remember that cartoon, Maxine? I probably resemble her a little bit.

People are starting to decorate for Halloween around here, and the same will continue for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I like decorations. In fact, I love decorations, especially for Christmas.  My husband teases me about how much Christmas stuff I have. It's nothing compared to my mother. She has loads more than I do.

But the one thing I really cannot stand, that I find absolutely tacky and ridiculous and it's just not what I like at all, are:  lawn inflatables.  I don't know how to describe it really, but I just think they're so awful.  I'm down with spider webs, grave stones and pumpkins.  I like the twinkle of lights, and maybe even Santa with his sleigh or some solo reindeer with white lights.  But a blow-up pumpkin, turkey or Santa, I can do without. The worst are those Christmas inflatables, like a snow globe, with snow blowing around. I just find myself wondering who thought these were a good idea. And then, in the daytime, you get to see a messy front yard with sad pools of fabric waiting for night to fall.  I guess I think it just sort of dumbs it all down too much.

This might be your cup of tea, but it's against my religion, I tell ya! No, thank you.