Monday, February 2, 2015

Grandma's Butter Caramels

Hello, strangers.

How's your new year going so far?
I hope it's been great...sorry for you east coast folks...
I know the weather has been making life miserable.

Here's something to keep you busy and give
you something to satisfy your sweet tooth!

Homemade butter caramels.
They are soooooo amazingly delicious!
You'll hide them in your coat pocket so you can find them one afternoon
when you think they're all gone so you can have a sweet surprise!
Oh, wait...maybe that's just me.

These tasty caramels are part of the legacy that is my mother-in-law.
She passed away this past summer after a long battle with cancer.
This post is a tribute to her.

It was 16 years from her initial diagnosis to her death...
and let me tell you, she filled those 16 years with as much life as she could.
She traveled, she had good times with friends and family,
she spoiled her only granddaughter,
and just over 6 years ago she married a good man.
Who says you can't find love later in life?

She was tough, she was a fighter...but she was good-hearted and generous.
Did we always see eye to eye?
Of course not, we're family after all.
But we agreed on the tremendous love we had for her son, my husband,
and her granddaughter, our daughter, Sara.
She raised a son into a wonderful man whom I love more than
anything and I will forever be grateful to this woman.

Okay...on to the sugar.
You'll need a candy thermometer to gauge the temperature so
you don't end up with runny or rock hard candy.

I used a Pampered Chef silicone spatula to stir because they have a high heat tolerance.
You'll also need extra arms, because you'll be stirring and
stirring and stirring until you think the arms you have will fall off!

See? An action shot...of the incessant stirring...

Ahead of time, you'll want to prepare your cookie sheet or baking sheet for cooling.
I used a cookie sheet and lined it with parchment which
I also buttered so the caramel wouldn't stick.

Once they're cool, turn them out onto a large cutting board and use a heavy,
sharp knife to cut them to the size and shape you want.

Be careful.
Caramel is rather hard and you'll be using a lot of pressure on the knife to cut it.
I wouldn't want any of you to injure yourself in the name of sweets.

My MIL used wax paper squares to wrap her caramels.
I don't buy wax paper, so I have always used parchment squares.
The parchment I purchase has a silicone
coating so it works similar to the wax paper.

If you use a smaller pan to cool them, you'll get fatter caramels.
I kinda like them me they're easier to bite...
but that's totally up to you.

You will have to excuse the Christmas tree and packaging.
I had fully intended to get this out to you in time for gift giving.

However, life gets in the way sometimes and we just have to adjust our sails.
So...just pretend these take-out boxes really have hearts
on them and give them away for Valentine's Day!

I asked her one time if this was a secret family recipe because I wanted to share it.
She laughed and said she had found it in some magazine
she could no longer remember and thought they sounded good.
She'd been making them every holiday season
since and loved to give them as gifts.

My husband's cousin's wife (got that?) got the recipe from
me in December so she could make some to take to Christmas dinner.
It was a heart-felt gesture and a wonderful surprise to her MIL,
my MIL's sister, and my MIL's husband.
They were very touched by her thoughtfulness.

A legacy of sweetness.

Grandmas Butter Caramels
  • 1 lb real butter
  • 2 ¼ cups packed brown sugar (I used dark, she used regular)
  • 1 cup Karo syrup
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla
  1. Mix all but vanilla in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
  2. Continue to stir and stir and stir until mixture reaches 243° on a candy thermometer.
  3. Remove from heat, add vanilla, mix well.
  4. Pour onto a well-buttered cookie sheet or baking pan, spread evenly.
  5. Let cool; cut into squares or rectangles, or whatever your heart desires.
  6. Wrap in wax paper or parchment squares.
  7. Indulge often.

Make some caramels.
Hug the ones you love.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Happy New Year! 2014's Top Ten!

Okay, well, I'm only slightly behind.
I mean, January's not quite half over yet, right?

It has been super crazy nuts around here the last few weeks.
So, without further ado,
allow me to present to you the top 10 from 2014!!!

I know, I know...
you're thinking...didn't I only post ten times last year?
No...I actually did a few more than that!

As always, I feel these numbers would be totally
different if posted at different times of the year.

9. Taking you into the clouds in my Valentine's "heart-air" balloon.

8. Absolutely wonderful and totally time consuming Paper Rose Trees.

7.  The "I still love going in there just to look" Planked wall bathroom.

6. The "keep calm and eat breakfast" Cheesy Egg and Sausage Bake.

5. "I can't believe I ate all the frosting" GF Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting.

4. The secret makeover of Sara's purple palace.

3. The Chalk Painted Dresser of my dreams.

2. The great TV Console maker
and the single most popular post from last year...

The super easy customizable DIY personalized cutting board.

And there you have it!
I had lots of fun in 2014 doing all these projects...
I hope you enjoyed them, too!

2015 looks to be challenging for my blogging time.
I just changed jobs and have much less free time now...
although I am totally stoked for this new adventure in the new year.

I know I promised a sweet treat before Christmas...
I am hoping to get it out to you in time for Valentine's day.

Until then, keep smiling!

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

My Fresh Christmas Fireplace

I'm back!
Just like I promised with the fresh cedar mantel.
It's simple and stunning.

I gave you a little peek in last week's post about my paper rose trees.
In case you missed them...go check 'em out!

I'm not doing a whole house tour...
like I said during last year's tour...most of my decor stays the same.

The main thing that changes is the mantel...
and apparently now the little dresser. :)

Home Depot had some fresh cedar garland in their ad for Black Friday.
Since I'm not nearly crazy enough to do the whole
Black Friday thing, and besides, I have to work...
we were out shopping Friday evening.

Well, of course, by the time we got there, the garland in the ad was gone.
The sales clerk was awesome enough to give us this other garland for the same sale price.
She totally rocks!

I love the drapey look of it...and so carefree.
Getting it to hang on my not real mantel was anything but!

I paired it with different size red and white poinsettias,
some fabulous angel wings, a couple of my handmade stockings,
along with a few I got from Decor Steals.

I love these glitter metal stars I picked up on clearance this summer.

I've spritzed it and spritzed it and it's still completely dry.
Welcome to Colorado.
It still looks beautiful and it might just be my absolute favorite thing this year.

I hope your Christmas season finds you enjoying family and
friends and remembering the reason for the season.

We are heading to OKC to see Sara perform in the
university's Christmas shows and can NOT wait!!!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Paper Rose Christmas Trees

It's beginning to look a lot like...

And I am so excited!
Because I love Christmas!
And I love love love these paper rose trees I made...
that I'm going to share with you!

See them there...on the left?
And below?

Tons of paper roses all happy together.
Wanna make one, too?  Or two, too?
Or tutus.
But that would be a different post.

If you've never made a paper rose before...
never fear...I am here to help!

Cut a circle out of paper.
Very complicated, I know.

I used an image I found online somewhere...
and for the life of me I can't figure out where I got it.
Possibly the Graphics Fairy, but I can't find it anymore.
It's old sheet music...I printed it double sided on a draft setting so it was light.

Once you have your circle,
begin cutting a spiral to the center...
not too thick or too thin...
and make sure you leave a small "base" in the center.

Now, ignore my dry cuticles and start rolling the paper
rather tightly from the outside edge all the way to the center.
It will seem tight at first, but will end up looser at the end.

See? Once you let it go, it unravels slightly.

Now is when the center base is important...
using a good tacky glue...add a good blob to your base and
press the scrolls into the glue and let them dry.

I painstakingly glued them to some paper mache cone
trees that I painted with a creamy base color.
These trees are from Hobby Lobby and have a base that is
smaller than the tree and I like that it makes it sit above the surface.

You can adjust the size of your roses by making your
original paper circles smaller or larger.
I used about 3 different sizes on my trees.

From one sheet of regular paper, fold it to get either 4 or 6 circles...
if you do 4 even squares for your 4 circles, that leaves a
section that allows you a couple smaller circles...
that work great at the top of your tree.

I knew all along that I wanted to display them on
the little painted dresser in the living room.
I had fun looking for some pretty things to get the look I wanted.

I found the gorgeous velvet ribbon at TJMaxx and had
intended to use it on my little trees in the loft, but it just
seemed to work so well to tie together the little birdie and
the red mercury glass candlestick.

I think I'm going to leave it just like that!

Or I was...
until I threw in a few clippings from the fresh
cedar I got for the fireplace mantel.
Which I've decided to share separately,
so I didn't make this post extremely long.


This process was rather time consuming.
By rather, I mean very.
I cut, rolled, and glued roses in my spare time and while watching TV.
Then I glued the roses to the trees also while watching TV.

It takes longer than you'd think because you have to wait
for one row to dry before adding the next so they
don't shift when you get them close to each other.

I don't know exactly how long it took...but a good chunk of time.
As for me, I think it was totally worth it.
I love the way they look, they are perfect with my traditional
colors for red and white plus green,
and I really only had to purchase the tree bases.

So, what do you think?
Would you love to sit for hours and play with paper and glue?

December is always crazy busy for us...
but I will make sure you get to see my whole mantel...
and I've got a yummy treat to share if I don't run out of time!
Make sure you come back and see me soon!

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