Friday, December 24, 2010

Saltine Toffee

A co-worker made this delicious toffee from a recipe she found in our local newspaper. I was doubtful at first because I'm not a big fan of nuts (it has pecans on it) and I also heard what the secret ingredient was before I tasted it which seemed really strange. One bite and I was hooked! It was amazing! The recipe is so simple too. I wanted to share it here if anyone is looking for a super simple recipe that will be big hit. Takes about 20 minutes for prep and cooktime, plus an extra 30 minutes of it being in the freezer before you cut the pieces.

Saltine Toffee

1 cup
35 saltine crackers
1 cup packed dark brown sugar

1 package (12 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Line a 10x15 inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, allowing for some overhang. Melt butter in a large saucepan. Brush parchment paper with a little butter. Line up crackers on buttered parchment, touching but not overlapping.

Whisk brown sugar into remaining butter. Set over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil; boil thick 2 minutes (or 248 degrees). Pour evenly over crackers.

Slide into a 400 degree oven and bake util brown and bubble, about 10 minutes. Carefully remove from oven.

Scatter molten surface with chocolate chips. Let melt, 5 minutes. Use an offset spatula to spread chocolate. Cast on nuts; gently press into chocolate.
Freeze until firm, 30 minutes.

Lift parchment by its overhang and set toffee (paper and all) on a cutting surface. Slice into 18 squares, then into 36 triangles.

Recipe from
The Morning Call.

As you can see from mine, I did not slice the toffee into triangles. I just broke apart the pieces with my hands where the cracker seams were.

I also admit the first time I made these, I burned them! My oven gets really hot so I usually adjust a bit when I bake anything, but I kept them in the whole 10 minutes. One part of my parchment paper was black underneath and gave my toffee a burnt smoky flavor--yuck! The second time around I didn't use all of the brown sugar-butter mixture (about 1/8th cup leftover or so) and I baked the crackers for about 8-9 minutes. Yay! :^)

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Holiday Music

If you love listening to Christmas music at all times during this time of year (sometimes even in July...) and you're looking for variety, try creating a Christmas station on! Besides making the usual stations like Plain White T's, Ingrid Michaelson or Indie Pop, try making something might be surprised with what you come up with! My boyfriend's sister told me about her new favorite station, "French Cafe" which immediately became my new favorite! (Try that one--it's great to have on while in the kitchen or even while you're at work!) Since it's after Thanksgiving now, I created a new station based on one of my favorite holiday artists. It's called "The Carpenters (Holiday)." It also throws in all the greatest like Bing Crosby, Burl Ives and Andy Williams.

(Soma waiting for gift-opening to begin last year!)

By the way, if you've never used Pandora before, it's free! With a free account you receive 40 hours a month of music with a few short commercials in between. You barely even notice those. Also, if a song comes on that you don't like just click the "thumbs down" and you won't ever hear it again! If a song comes on that you LOVE, click the "thumbs up" and your station will remember that and modify your station to play similar songs.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Be Thankful

Be Thankful
-author unknown

Be thankful that you don't already have everything you desire.

If you did, what would there be to look forward to?
Be thankful when you don't know something,

for it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for the difficult times. 

During those times you grow. 

Be thankful for your limitations, 

because they give you opportunities for improvement.

Be thankful for each new challenge,

because it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes.
They will teach you valuable lessons.
Be thankful when you're tired and weary,

because it means you've made a difference.

It's easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who 
are also thankful for the setbacks.
Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles,

and they can become your blessings.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

DYI Costume: Fairy Skirt

Halloween is tomorrow! I wanted to share with you what my costume is and how you can make it! I know, this post is late, but if you have the supplies on hand or can make it to a store in time, you could finish it in a couple hours.

I dressed up this year as a fairy. I dressed with a group of other teachers at the school I work at. We have a fun costume contest every year to raise money for a cause. The staff and students are encouraged to bring in spare change or a few bucks and they use those monetary donations to vote for their favorite teacher costumes. Here is the tutorial for the skirt or tutu.

You will need:
  • several yards of tulle in 1 or more colors (I bought about 9 yards but used about 8 yards. I am also a size 3 in juniors. The more you use, the poofier the skirt which is not always a good thing!)
  • ribbon
  • scissors

The tulle is for the flow-y, frilly part of your skirt. The ribbon is for your waist. I'll refer to as your "belt."

1. When you buy your tulle, it should already be folded in half. If not, do so now.

2. Lay on table and cut off a part that is a workable
size. The length of your table/workspace or about a yard is good.

3. Starting from the creased end, roll the tulle into a long tube.

Optional: Trim the ends if your rolled tube is crooked. Otherwise, your strips will be different widths and may not be usable.

4. Cut sections off the tube about 1.5 to 2 inches in length.

*The purpose of rolling up the tulle is because it's easier to cut off chunks of the tube rather than cutting each strip individually.*

5. When you unroll one of your little "curls" you should have a le
ngth of tulle that you can use to tie around your "belt."

6. Lay your "belt" on table or flat surface.
Place one your strips of tulle under the belt as shown in photo. (I am using yarn to illustrate this because the tulle did not photograph as nicely. The pink yarn is the belt, the green is your tulle.)

7. Pull the ends of the tulle through it's loop (where the crease is).

8. Continue pulling it tight so you have a knot.

9. Repeat this process until your tutu is full!

You can alternate colors and cut the strips different lengths to add pretty effects.

Optional: I cut the ends of each of my strips at an angle and mixed in another
shimmery fabric.

**Fairy Skirt concept and instructions courtesy of the purple fairy! Thanks!!!!**

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

WIP Wednesday 9 - Best Pals Pattern (WIP 8 skipped)

So much to do, so little time! I ran out of stuffing and have not been able to do any work on my Best Pals amigurumi dolls! Besides that, there has been a lot going on. All good things though! Here are some photos that cover some of things I've had the opportunity to participate in! I have a nice life with wonderful friends and family.

Hibachi for my boyfriend's and our Chinese guest teacher at my school district/work. She and I agreed the fried rice we made together was better!

Golfing for my first time ever! Yes....18 holes. My arms hurt. It was hard. Really hard. It was for a benefit though and we all had fun.

My boyfriend's sister and husband came for a surprise visit because they got a new puppy! Isn't she adorable! I hung out with them at an adorable town called Bethlehem and we had tea at an Irish Tea House!

--- the mix though, guess what I did sneak in.

Photo above of me waking up early on the weekend and enjoying coffee,, crocheting and playing on the iPad.

Yup! Some crochet! But since I have no stuffing...I decided to whip out some amigurumi-style iPod Touch pouches! Well, just one is finished. I actually might add some more to him...possibly some tiny arms/legs.

The idea came from my boyfriend's aunt who said she saw a cat zipper pouch with the zipper being the mouth. It was more like a purse or pencil pouch, but I was inspired to make it for an iPod Touch. I started it one night before going to bed and I didn't measure it, so it ended up being a pouch for whatever (which I will improve upon later). But, I think the kitty pouch turned out pretty decent for my first time and have plans for more! Stay tuned...!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

WIP Wednesday 7 - Best Pals Pattern (WIP 6 skipped)

This is WIP Wednesday 7 and not 6 because I wanted to keep up Tami's Amis blog since she is hosting the WIP Wednesday blog-share. I skipped number 6 because I didn't get any crocheting done! You gotta take a break from things every once in a while!

Over the weekend, I did get to work on my Best Pals Pattern that I talked about in the last WIP Wednesday post. I have all the text written for the pattern, but I really like to include photos so I am recreating each animal and taking photos that I can go through to add to the pattern. The sunlight is different these days since the seasons are changing so that makes it tough to take photos! There is either too much sun which gives my amis a weird neon glow or it's too gray outside. I don't know what I'm going to when Fall really hits!

I'm designing each of the animals in the pattern to have a different facial expression. I want to showcase different ways of making the face besides just different shapes for their body parts (ears and tails mostly). Can you guess which animal I have planned for each of the four featured in the photo above? They could be anything, but I made them each with a certain animal in mind.

Finally, I wanted to show off this awesome decal I got from etsy shop Macetera for my MacBook Pro. I love it and everyone is jealous even if they don't know who Totoro is! Only one co-worker at the school I work at recognized that it was from a Hayao Miyazaki film because her husband and daughters watch his films. I promoted his movies every time someone asked about my decal so I hope they remember if they ever come across Miyazaki or Studio Ghibli films when movie-hunting!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

For the Love of Shoes

Who doesn't love shoes!? I'm taking a break from crochet-talk today and want to spread the word about Kelsey Jayne's original shoe designs and her etsy shop ForTheLoveOfShoes. The top photo is of what's called a shoe last that Kelsey a.k.a. ForTheLoveOfShoes designed and handpainted. It's such a unique art piece! At her shop, you can find painted shoe lasts and artwork of beautiful shoes. Kelsey is a shoe designer in New York City for Joan and David shoes so she knows what she's doing!

See how cute her shop is? You should totally order some of her artwork for your room or office. They make great gifts too, if you're stumped on what to get your sister, mother, girlfriend...whoever!

I requested custom shoe designs for my little sister as graduation gift. ForTheLoveOfShoes created sketches of a style of shoe I knew my sister liked. The sketches exceeded my expectations! They were perfect. I framed them myself and surprised my sister! She has them displayed in her room on a shelf full of her shoes which you can see in the video below.


You can Like ForTheLoveOfShoes on Facebook to keep up to date on new artwork.

By the way,
f you want real shoes you should check out ShoeWoo!