goodbye 2012!!

wishing you all a blessed and prosperous and joyful and fun and lively and humorous (so good that your bellyaches) and peaceful and loving new year!!

goodbye2012

2012 was an interesting year for me. at times it sucked. and when it sucked, i mean, it really, really sucked. the worst part of it was losing my uncle tony. but i have peace with his passing knowing that he’s not in pain anymore or worried about his blood pressure or any other health issue he was dealing with.  but i sure do love him and miss hearing his voice. seeing his silly grin.

*exhale*

when i think about it there were quite a few good moments in 2012 too. it’s so easy to dwell on all the bad that occurs in your life and not have gratitude for all the good. i mean, dang, every day ain’t bad, right?  so the good: my relationship with my husband has grown by leaps and bounds, my child is healthy and happy and it’s been a blast following him in sports (basketball and football and now basketball again) this year. we went on a family vacation to ft. lauderdale this year, which hasn’t happened in like…forever! quite a few friends turned the big 4-0 and we celebrated a couple 6-0’s in the family too so there were a few parties here and there. and how can i forget?? my mama has found herself a “friend,” honey. i’m just as pleased as punch about that one!!

with all that said, i’m still ready to sweep ol’ 2012 out the door and usher in this new year. i’m praying it’s a good one!

a Christmas of earrings, caramels and a red trash can

this year i told my husband that we should start a Christmas tradition. he said, in his ever present sarcasm, “we have one. i buy the tree and you decorate it.”

i’m not too convinced that that’s a tradition as much as a routine, but okay, dear! but what is a tradition is spending time with our family. lots of food and lots of laughter and good times to be had.

my dr. suess-y Christmas tree.
my dr. suess-y Christmas tree.

i have to admit that i was pretty dang tired on Christmas eve and Christmas because i had spent the days (and nights) before making a ridiculous amount of caramels and plenty jewelry to give as gifts to my family and friends. next year i’ll start much earlier. i usually do, but i guess this year i wanted to feel a little fire under my butt. or something like that.

beaded necklace
a beaded necklace for my mama
handpainted earrings
handpainted earrings for my fly girls

and once the fire started, i couldn’t stop!! let me just say, there’s nothing like putting on some music (thank you, pandora!!) and gettin’ your creative thang on.

orange tassels
orange tassels
earring assortment
earrings for e’erybody!!
handpainted earrings
ode to my ol’ school heart.

the kick-off to our Christmas happened where it always does, at my pop and stepmama’s on Christmas eve. this year we did a dollar store exchange which was pretty cool. well, it was cool to open your gift. it wasn’t, however, all that fun trying to find ONE GIFT for each person at the dollar store. it was my stepmama’s idea. i told her next year, i’m just making stuff.

on Christmas we were off to my mother-in-law’s early where her two small children were crazy excited about their new toys and i watched as my sis-in-law nearly passed out from blowing up a sumo bumper bopper. i jest, but i was a bit concerned that she’d eventually need oxygen. that evening, we headed to spend the evening with my mama, grandma and a host of other folks. i have to say, my grandma, bless her heart, gave us the most memorable gift ever…

bathroom accessory kit
bathroom accessory kit

and it’s RED!!! haha!! we all got a good laugh from this one, even though i think it was meant to be a totally serious gift. i asked my grandma, “but why red? my bathroom isn’t red??” she said, “look over there at that Christmas tree…everything goes with red.”

well, true that grandma.

anyway, i hope that you and yours had a very Merry Christmas!!!

 

 

 

 

 

adventures in caramel!

first let me just say that pinterest will have you believing  you can do anything. anything. so my crazy butt got the idea from the many pins i saw there and pinned onto my sweet sweetness board to make caramels as Christmas gifts for my family.

what an adventure it’s been.

i had three (well, really sorta four) different recipes i chose to use. you can find them here:

soft and chewy caramels

coconut caramels

vanilla caramels with sea salt (no corn syrup required!)

the original coconut milk caramels recipe from saveur.com

and woowee, i had some serious mishaps. with my first attempt to make the soft and chewy caramels, my candy didn’t look caramel colored and wasn’t really candy at all. i should’ve just cubed it and used it for coffee, but instead i dumped it and pressed on to create caramel success!

caramel fail
caramel fail #1

i straight burned my next attempt. see how dark the sugar is? yeah, that sucka started smoking in no time. at first i was all yaaaaaay, it looks amber, you know, like caramel and then the smoke. so yeah, ding ding…time for round three!

burning sugar
burnt sugar isn’t tasty, i would assume.

then finally, i had real actual caramel. say whaaaat? i did it!! i watched the pot and the candy thermometer like a hawk and afterwards i was high-fiving myself ready to put sugar daddy out of business.

caramel
doesn’t it look yummy?

this pretty slab that was supposed to be soft and chewy cooled, but honey, it was as hard as a frickin’ brick. seriously, i almost broke my hand trying to cut this stuff. it tastes pretty good, however, i wouldn’t suggest that anyone actually try to chew it.

it’d probably snatch a crown out. and any loose teeth you may have. but anyway… i had to keep it moving.

for my next attempt i ventured onto the coconut caramels. and it was instant success! yaaaaaaay, me!!! it’s tasty too. by the way, i don’t know if it’s supposed to be spotty like that, but whatever. tastes like caramel to me.

coconut caramels
coconut caramels

the coconut batch, which uses coconut milk instead of heavy cream, wasn’t as hard as the first successful batch, but it was still quite a challenge to cut. i had my handy dandy tropical traditions gold label virgin coconut oil nearby to grease the knife so that it wouldn’t stick to the candy as the recipe suggested. i also used this oil to grease my pans before pouring in the caramel mixture.

tropical traditions gold label virgin coconut oil
awesome brand of coconut oil!

it was rough but i finally got that stuff cut. my palm was red and swollen,  y’all. red and swollen. *whew* it was a doozy.

maybe because i have sucky knives.

coconut caramels
coconut caramels

next up was the vanilla caramels with sea salt which uses honey instead of corn syrup. these puppies came out really, really soft. and to be honest, i’m on the fence about the flavor. i’m not really a huge honey fan, but hey, someone else might like them, right?

vanilla caramels with sea salt
vanilla caramels with sea salt

so after all of my tries to get this candy the right color and consistency and taste i’ve determined that i will probably never attempt to make caramels again. it’s too much like chemistry and well, i got a d in chemistry (but a’s and b’s in everything else!!!) in high school.

one recipe writer gave a particular temperature to cook the caramel at and then she mentioned that she probably needed to cook at that temp because she lived at a high altitude. what?? and should i even get into the comments i read under the recipes about humidity and making candy while it’s raining outside?

caramel is too just daggone finicky for the kid.

next year, i’m making cookies.

caramels
caramels

 

 

 

love them

my little family and i recently went downtown to check out the martin luther king, jr. national memorial. yes, we live in the dc area and it took us this daggone long to drive about 20 minutes away to see it.

wack, i know.

anyway, it was a beautiful day, dutch had his skateboard, my husband had his usual silliness poppin’ and a good time was had by all.

dc's west potomac park
dc’s west potomac park
dc's west potomac park
dc’s west potomac park
mlk memorial dc
mlk memorial dc
mlk memorial dc
mlk memorial dc
martin luther king, jr. national memorial in dc
martin luther king, jr. national memorial in dc

after avoiding accidents with dutch and his skateboard vs. various downtown visitors we strolled through the franklin d. roosevelt memorial.

family

me and the husband
me and the husband
franklin d. roosevelt memorial in dc
franklin d. roosevelt memorial in dc
my little family
my little family
west potomac park dc
west potomac park dc