Friday, December 30, 2011

5 Question Friday

Hi! I know I've been MIA for a while, I've been trying to find my groove with writing blog posts that aren't horrific. Good news is that this morning I spent the better part of an hour editing posts that I had written a while back (some of them a couple of years ago right after I started the blog), so you will have actual posts. Like 3 + weeks of posts. Scary right.

We have no big plans for New Years. My husband went to the doctor yesterday for as sore throat, (and they swabbed him, bet he won't complain about that again). Thankfully no strep, instead he has pneumonia. Yet they are letting him stay at home. So I'm going to make him sit around and be a bum so that hopefully he can get rid of this gunk.

Have a Happy New Year!!

1. What's the oldest piece of clothing in your closet?
Hmmm, I have a couple of shirts that I bought 5+ years ago. There is a box out in the garage that has some dresses and stuff that don't fit that I just refuse to get rid of from when my husband and I first got married. I'm hoping that those become a regular in my closet sooner rather than later. If the number on the scale stays the same, these clothes are going to go to goodwill next summer. I'm tired of the boxes sitting in my garage taking up space.

2. How many random blog readers have you met?

Not a single solitary one. But I only have like 20 readers, unless you count my husband, and then I live with him. I guess I could make up something here and lie, so I'm going to say I've met at least 200 readers, and they all love me. : )

3. Do you let your kids stay up till midnight on New Years Eve? (Or, if you don't have kiddos yet, did you get to stay up until midnight as a child?)

My mom let me stay up. She wasn't a stickler for bedtimes on the weekends or holiday breaks. I could stay up until 3am and sleep until noon if I wanted too. And during the summer, I did. Now, we barely make it to midnight. Although, the last few months I find ourselves still up at 3am on a Saturday night. We get busy trying to cram something into our day that we end up staying up and sleeping in. And skipping out on church. Oops.

4. What are the gas prices where you live?

Gas this morning at the Wally World was 2.91. They are still doing the 10 cents off  if you get a gift card at the store closest to our house, so if you go through all of that hassle it's actually 2.81. I'll take it. However, my parents live in a small town 45 minutes away, and gas there is between 3.10 and 3.19 for unleaded.

5. What is one resolution that you know you should do but are too afraid to try?
I found this blog, totally by accident (and apparently I didn't save the link) and this family is giving up their TV for a year. Sunday their cable will be canceled and there tv's will all be locked in storage for a year. They are trying to bring their family closer together as well as hopefully be more proactive in some behavior changes that they would like to implement in their children's attitude. The only TV that they will have access to is one computer that is capable of playing DVD's.
While I have no desire to give up tv completely, I wouldn't mind giving it up a couple of days a week. Because having less time to watch tv, I would cut out quite a bit that I don't really care if I watch or not. I would be able to watch only the stuff I love, like CSI, The Pioneer Woman, and Criminal Minds. My husband is a complete TV-aholic and I can't imagine him giving up his TV time, say 2 nights a week. He drove me crazy that it took us 2 weeks to get our tv set up and working when we moved. He whined (sorry babe, but you did), and whined and whined about finding the stand so that we could get it set up. It's a miracle that he lived through it. It's a miracle that I lived through it. Tv, I could live without, but radio, Ipod, laptop. I'm not sure if I could survive without those or not.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Adventure with Yeast

To kick off my Christmas vacation and to prepare myself for the upcoming holiday. I decided, well, actually I had promised my husband months ago that while I was out of school I would make him cinnamon rolls. From scratch. Using yeast.

Yeast and I had never been properly introduced so I was a little nervous taking him out for our first date. My type A personality likes things very black and white. When it says double, I want to be able to take a measuring take and see that in fact it has grown from 6 to exactly 12 inches. Anything less than that or more than that is cause for panic. Baking requires you to let go and not assume that your results will always follow the recipe, or the picture. It's enough to drive a person to drink.

So I dig out the rusty, trusty, and slightly dusty (note to self: dust more) cookbook. I make the trek to the store to gather the needed ingredients and then I set off to work. As I read over the directions and estimated the total time required for these beauties, and the yeast to work it's magic, I figured that these would be no problem to whip out in an afternoon.

I followed the directions, and even went so far as to get out my thermometer to test the waters to make sure that the liquid was the perfect temperature for the yeast to do it's thing. Everything was perfect. All the planets were aligned, angels were singing, it couldn't have been more perfect. So I added the flour. Lovingly placed a clean towel over the dough, and set it in my oven so that it had a warm draft free place to rise for the next 60 minutes. I even set the timer on the microwave so that I wouldn't forget and later discover that the dough had taken over my oven and was attempting to grow to fit my house.

Cue Jeopardy music.

Ding Ding Ding!!!

Now it was time. I just knew that when I opened the oven and pulled the dough out that it would have risen to a lovely level and it would just be perfect. I held my breath in anticipation. I quickly whisked the towel away...

Holy Mother Fluffer Nutter!!!

The freaking yeast was apparently pissed. Because it might have risen .2 inches. Might.

Well played yeast, well played.

So I thought, well, it's a little humid, it's a little blah blah blah. We will just poke it back in the oven and see what happens.

Cue Jeopardy music. Lots and lots of Jeopardy music. Like 4.5 hours of music. Finally it had risen enough that I was going to pretend that it was doubled in size. Thankfully my recipe had a get out of jail free card. You could add the remaining dry ingredients and then you could put the dough in the refrigerator and you had 3 days to use it. Awesome. Because now it's 9pm, and I don't want to stay up until 2 am making cinnamon rolls.

So I added the ingredients. Well, the dough was a little too dry for their to be any stirring involved. So I basically had to manipulate it in my hands (aka knead) to get those ingredients incorporated. I plopped the dough in a bowl, covered it with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge. Figuring I would tackle it when I got home from work yesterday.

That is until some unknown force caused me to open the door to the refrigerator at 11 pm. Uh, you remember that dough that wouldn't rise. Well, it was rising now. Like another 1.5 hours and it would have taken over a shelf in my fridge.

Nuts and bolts!

So after a reluctant call to my mother, and some relaying of information. I discovered what I did wrong (apparently the yeast is like a man and likes to be played with before you can expect him to rise to the occasion). So we divided the dough up into 4 bowls (just to be on the safe side), and hoped that it wouldn't take over my fridge during the wee hours of the night.

Thankfully the dough didn't take over my fridge, and half of it has already been made, baked and shipped off to it's new home. Round 2 will commence tonight. I'm thankful that I have tackled this cooking adventure. I'm thankful that the dough didn't wind up in the dumpster.

Yeast 1 - Abby 0

Friday, December 16, 2011

5 Question Friday

Hi! ::waves hands:: Did you miss me?

I'm done with school for a little over a month, now it's just waiting for the grades. Which I'm starting to think is worse than actually going to class.

I've got a ton of blog posts written. Ones that I had planned on editing a little and then posting, but I just never got around to it. But not to worry, I'm hoping I can manage an entire semester next go round of posts for you. You might be reading about Christmas adventures in May, but hey, it's better than a blank screen.

Big plans this weekend. My husband and I will celebrate our 12th anniversary on Sunday! Eek! It's hard to believe that its been that long ago. I'm also doing some cooking. Well, lots of cooking. Cinnamon rolls, fudge, cookies, oh my! And delivering a whole lotta Scentsy. I had a couple of parties the first of the month that I finally got the orders in, and I have a lot of people to drop off their loot this weekend! I love getting orders in, it's like Christmas!  I bought my new Christmas warmer and it's absolutely beautiful. It's white with snowflakes and when you turn it on the light shows up the snow flakes brilliantly! I want to leave it out all year, but John kinda protested last night. I'm hoping to grab some pictures this weekend! It's beautiful!

1. What's the best Christmas present you've ever received?

There have been a lot of great things that I have gotten over the years. But there really isn't one specific thing that stands out. John always gets me something that I will love, and my grandmother does an awesome job with getting me the best and neatest kitchen accessories that a girl could ask for. My parents always have something that's totally unique and off the wall too.

This year, I'm getting a Nook, or a Kindle. I'm not sure which yet. Because of school and the universities affiliation with Barnes and Noble, I'll probably go with a Nook. (Think cheap text books.) John's going to add a new firearm to his collection. Yippee. Actually, I'm finally thrilled that he has something he is excited about. It's nice that he has a hobby that he can share with my grandfather, and that keeps him from driving me crazy. Now, if only I could get him to love to read.

2. Worst/Funniest White Elephant gift ever received?

When I was in high school, my youth group at church did an exchange of white elephant gifts. I ended up with a tumbleweed that had been spray painted gold. It had ornaments on it and everything. It was funny and awful at the same time. I'm just thankful that I didn't end up with the gold cow pie.

3. Is your Christmas tree plain and simple (white lights and matching ornaments) or is it wild and crazy (colored lights with lots of ornaments collected over the years)?

We have a wild and crazy tree with 12 years worth of ornaments on it. When we got married we started our collection of ornaments. We have discussed doing something a little less crazy next year, but our tree is pre-lighted with multi colored lights. So I'm guessing until our tree dies, that we are going with wild and crazy!

4. "How" do you iron your clothes? The old fashioned iron/ironing board way, the shower, back in the dryer, etc.

Is this a trick question?

I have an iron. I have an ironing board. I do not use it to iron clothes. Period. If I buy something that has to be ironed, it hangs in my closet until I am tired of it collecting dust and then off to Goodwill it goes. I don't iron. Period.

I'm probably about to be stoned for saying this, but - I think it's a waste of time. You can buy clothes today that are made to withstand wrinkles. You can buy washing machines and dryers that steam your clothes so that you don't have to iron. And if you don't have the fancy equipment, a damp towel and 10 minutes in a hot dryer works the same way.

I only have an iron to press my cross stitch pieces before I frame them. But technically it only works as my dryer, since I wash everything before I frame it.

5. How much baking do you do for Christmas and what are your "must make" items? (I'm looking for recipes here, peeps...)
I try to bake quite a bit. But this year, with school and work, the baking hasn't even began. So I'm cutting way, way back.
I'm making cinnamon rolls this weekend. I promised my husband, and my friend Andrea that they could have cinnamon rolls. It's my first attempt using yeast. I hope I don't destroy my kitchen.
I usually make fudge. Last year I made 4 different kinds all total and divided them up between us and both of our offices. We had fudge running out of our ears. This year. Well I'm making 3-4 kinds. I'm dividing it up between 8 families. So I'm making a bunch of it. Hopefully no overload. Not sure the flavors yet. I have a lemon fudge, and a cookies and cream that both sound full of awesome, and then theirs the old standbys. 
My standbys are Chocolate Marshmallow Fudge. If you are on a diet (or trying to pretend to be on a diet) this is the fudge for you. It's not perfect, but it is more diet friendly than most and it's a breeze to make.
1 2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup fat free evaporated milk
2 tbsp reduced calorie margarine
12 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
14 large marshmallows

Spray an 8x8 pan with cooking spray. Dump everything but the chocolate and marshmallows in a pan. Cook over low until everything is dissolved. Once you have lost the "grainy" look, dump in the chocolate (I use a bag of chocolate chips, no chopping). Stir until melted. Add marshmallows. I cut up my marshmallows (or try to use minis) because the large ones take so long to melt. I estimate about 4 mini's per large mallow. Once everything is all melted, dump in pan and refrigerate about 2 hours until firm, then pull it out and cut it up.

My other favorite is Marbled Orange Fudge (which is actually not too bad for you either). Think creamsicle fudge. Yep. It's full of awesome. The only thing I do different from the exact recipe is we reduce the orange extract down to 1.5 tsps. Which, right now I know your thinking - why? Well, if you like strong orange flavor leave the 3. If you want more creamsicle ice cream bar flavor, knock it down to 1.5. I also always add more food coloring until it's the shade of orange I want. So feel free to play around. It makes a lot, and it's very, very rich. So make sure you plan on sharing! The first time I made this, we split the pan in half with another family, and we both ended up throwing half away. You can't eat more than one piece at a time!

2 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup butter, cubed
1 pkg (10 to 12 oz) white baking chips
1 jar (7 oz) marshmallow creme
3 tsp orange extract
12 drops yellow food coloring
9 drops red food coloring

1. Line a 13x9 inch pan with foil and coat with cooking spray; set aside. In a small heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, evaporated milk and butter. Cook and stir over low heat until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat; stir in chips and marshmallow creme until smooth.

2. Remove 1 cup and set aside. Add extract and food coloring to the remaining mixture; stir until blended. Pour into prepared pan. Pour reserved marshmallow mixture over the top; cut through mixture with a knife to swirl. Cover and refrigerate until set.

3. Using foil, lift fudge out of pan. Discard foil; cut fudge into 1 inch squares. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Makes 2 1/2 pounds, 1 - 1 inch cube

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I'm not Dead

I'm not dead, ya'll. I promise. Just up to my eyeballs in Spanish and calculus. Which isn't a good place to be. I have about 20 different posts written, but they all need some serious work. Because they are all blah. Lots of whining. Lots of moaning. Lots of groaning.

I don't want a permanent reminder of the suckiness of my life as of lately. (Well parts of my life anyway). But guess what? I have one week from today and no more school until mid January. I get 6 glorious weeks off to recharge, refocus, finish unpacking and clean up a guest room and turn it into an office.

Oh yeah, and there might be rumors of blog posts too. : )


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