Thursday, April 30, 2009

Cookie Carnival... Back in ACTION!

I just got photoshop CS3... and "Totally RAD Actions", so I am using the word ACTION A LOT! Once I figure out WHAT THE HECK I am doing, hopefully there will be a difference in my photos. For now, I am just messin around, and not ready to put anything out there.

But, it has been a long time since I have been participating in Cookie Carnivals, and unlike that other cooking group that I am a part of, they don't care if I post or not, I don't get excommunicated from their club! This month the recipe was Lemon Bars. It was not too hard to make. I am not a good crust makes, but this crust reicpe was heavenly. I love it. The lemon filling was so beautiful, and rustic looking. To taste it, it was a little on the sweet side. Joel was not at all happy with the results, and wouldn't even eat them, however, I liked them, as did the family that I served them to. Give em a try the next time your sweet tooth is knocking!

For the Crust:2 cups all-purpose flour3/4 cup confectioners' sugar1/2 cup sliced blanched almonds, lightly toasted1/2 teaspoon salt20 Tablespoons (2 1/2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
For the Lemon Filling:4 large eggs1 3/4 cups sugar1/2 teaspoon almond extract1/2 cup all-purpose flour3/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 7 lemons)1/4 cup confectioners' sugar for sprinkling
To Toast the Almonds:Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the almonds in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until lightly golden and you can smell them. Remove to a wire rack to cool.
Before You Start:Position a rack in the center of your oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9 x 13 - inch pan with nonstick vegetable cooking spray. Make a parchment "sling" by cutting two pieces of parchment paper, measuring 16 1/2 inches long by 12 inches wide (you can also use aluminum foil). Place one piece across the length, and the other across the width of the pan, with the excess hanging over the edges. You will use this sling later to lift the finished bar from the pan. Spray the sling with the cooking spray.
To Make the Crust:1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse the flour, sugar, almonds, and salt to combine. Add the cold butter in pieces and pulse until the dough comes together in a ball.
2. Turn the dough out into the prepared pan and press evenly into the bottom and 1 1/4 inches up the sides. (This crust, once it is baked, needs to act as a liner in which to pour the liquidy lemon filling. So be sure to do a good job of pressing the dough up the sides - no cracks!). Cover the dough with a piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil, and fill with pie weights ( you can use dried beans or uncooked rice as pie weights as well). Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until lightly golden. Carefully remove the pie weights and the liner and bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, or until the whole crust is golden. Remove to a wire rack to cool.
To Make the Filling:In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until smooth. Add the almond extract and flour, and whisk until smooth. Add the lemon juice, and whisk to combine.
To Complete the Bars:1. Pour the lemon filling into the prepared crust. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the filling is firm and lightly golden. Remove to a wire rack to cool.
2. When cool use the parchment sling to lift the entire bar from the pan and onto a cutting board. Slice into twelve 3 x 3 1/2 - inch bars. Remove from the pan and, using a small sifter, dust with the confectioners' sugar.
The bars keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days. For longer storage, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 5 days, or freeze well wrapped in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil for up to 3 weeks. Do not unwrap before defrosting. Dust with confectioners' sugar before serving.

Monday, April 27, 2009

FREE Michigan Mini Sessions!!!!

I am going to be home in Michigan in the middle of May, and want to use my camera more in three days than it has been used its entire life!!!! There are so many things that I want to learn, and Amy has been getting my wheels A TURNIN! So, if you are interested, here are the details....

May 19, 20, and 21st I am offering free mini photo sessions, (I had to throw in the word Photo, in case people didn't know what I was talking about!) The locations are yet to be determined, I'm thinking, Washtenaw County, Livingston County, and Wayne County. Most likely in the evening, but before the sun goes down. Please either comment my post, or send me an email. I will spend a half hour for each session, and will do my best to get lots of great photos for you. You will recieve a CD of the digital images. I will guarantee that if you are not 100% satisfied.... you don't ever have to talk to me again... NO MONEY BACK! This is just something that I want to do for experience shooting, editing, etc. I only have one subject at my house to shoot, and she is getting a tad bit boring! So, let me know what you think, and we can discuss details individually. Tell all your friends too!!!

Sunday, April 26, 2009


My parents came into town for the weekend. Nora was ecstatic to see them, and we had a packed weekend. I am so excited to share the pictures, and moments with you! Here is one that is especially touching. If you have been a witness to my parents saying goodbye to us, you will all notice one thing. My mom is the strong one, and my dad is the cry baby! From the day we mentioned we might be moving, and every time it would come up, he would get emotional and teary eyed. He is a big teddy bear, and he has a special relationship with Nora, that is unlike any other. Nora loves her Lulu too, and has lots of crazy fun with her. But there is something different with her and papa. They arrived early early Friday morning, and Nora woke them up. She really didn't know what to think, and wondered, "How the heck did you guys get here?" But ten minutes later, she was back in Michigan again. She put papa right to work... (he is the artistic one!!!!)

Friday night was our ward spaghetti dinner, and cake auction. This, being the first activity in our new ward, I felt an immense amount of pressure to show a piece of my talent, but not "over-do" it. I got a great great idea from a friend back home, and I asked her if I could steal her idea. Once she agreed, the juices started flowing. Hilary Edwards, has been a friend since we were what... 14? She is so super creative, and has to be one of the craftiest people I know. She has... that I know of... 2 blogs, an etsy page, and does all sorts of craft shows. She is awesome... check out her many many talents here. So, I got the idea from Hilary, and therefore, I can't take any credit. Anyways... I knew what I was going to make, and when I showed up with my cake platter, there were some pretty excited faces. We had a great spaghetti dinner, which NORA ate the snot out of. She finished her plate, and her daddy's plate. We were shocked! The only other thing she eats that much of, is Nana's cooking! Someday, I will be up to par for her!!! And yes... that would be another Jenni dress. She's not the same kid without her Jenni dresses on!

The auction started, and the desserts were going for $5.00-$15.00. There were ALOT of desserts, so it was taking a long time. They came to my "cake", and the bidding began... there were not only rumors of wars, but... there were wars. The final price was $45.00. We weren't able to stay for the entire auction, so I am not sure how high the rest of the show went, but I was pleased to help raise some serious money for the youth in our church! Here is a pic of the final product. There were 20 cupcakes, decorated to look like spaghetti, with strawberry jelly as the sauce, Ferraro Rocher chocolates as the meatballs, and white chocolate as the grated cheese. Don't those really look like meat balls? I was so impressed! People we almost hesitant thinking that they actually were meatball covered cupcakes. Super fun idea, and easy to do! Thanks Hil... I owe ya one!

Saturday we went to a kite park in VB named "Mt. Trashmore". No.... that's not what they call it, that is what it is named. It is a garbage dump that they turned into a park with many many things there to do. You obviously fly kites at the top, apx.100' high. There is a lake, HUGE wooden play structure. We just wanted to fly kites, but the park had TONS of things going on there. A talent audition, dog show, flea market, boot camp, marching band thingy, wow! It was gerat. We were only there for an hour, but it was great. Parents loved it, Nora loved it, the kite got up... I wish the pictures would have turned out better, but it was so sunny, that I could hardly see how the shots came out. Oh well, that is why I am learning, I want to do better at that sort of thing!

Then we went to an Indian Pow Wow at Redwing Park. I was super excited for this, becuase I thought it would be a great photo op. The problem was that the parents were tired, and the kid was OUT OF CONTROL! I am going alone next year!!!

That was the jist of the maddening weekend. We went to church today, then had a real family dinner after. I made a new friend at church who is also new to the area, and the families are getting together tomorrow night. I feel like a little girls on the night before her first day of school. I am so excited to hopefully have a new friend! Her husnabd is a Marine, and they are only going to be here till the end of July, but heck... summer lovin! Not really... =)

Laundry Day!

Unfortunately, my washer and dryer that I have blogged about before, are no longer the great reliable machines they once were. We were given a bill last week for a new computer board needing to be installed, and a two week wait date! So, we trusted the GOOD OLE yellow pages to get us somewhere to wash some laundry. I haven't been to a Laundromat in probably 20 years... and from what I remember, they really haven't changed that much! Nora and I set out for the day, washing 10 loads of laundry, and bringing home 10 wet loads to dry in our dryer. There are about 8 loads that still need to be put away! (JUST KEEPIN IT REAL!!!) It was an adventure for us, and not all that bad. This week, I think I will dry it there, so when I come home, all I have to do it put it away. It's the worst part in my opinion! Of course I couldn't post without thanking my friend Jenni Jackson for the amazing dress!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Amy Sandoval Photography

Being the crazy, and annoying "networker" that I am, I decided to look up a few of the local photographers. 1) I have not met a photographer that I didn't like, and 2) I am really impatient at learning the biz of photography, (I know as a photographer, the are endless hours upon hours reading, learning, networking, practicing, shooting, processing, all things that I don't have patience for.) So, I emailed Amy, and told her that I thought her work was beautiful, and that I would love to meet up with her, and get her scoop, and "talk photography". This is pretty bold of me, considering that I have always been friends with photographers, so I automatically had something to talk about, even though the photog talk every once in a while would bore me to tears! This was more of a, "I Love it so much, lets start doing it!" I don't plan to ever be a professional photographer. If it happens great, but right now, I am still in love with the art of it all. I don't ever want that to go away. So... I emailed Amy... and she responded with a "LETS GET TOGETHER! I need an assistant!!! I'd love to meet you... " (Basically). I had no idea that she was looking for someone, and all the sudden I started to get nervous. "What if she doesn't like me? What if I don't know enough? What if I am too slow? Am I ready for the rejection?" When I met her, I was instantly at ease. She talked about her start in the business, some of her techniques, her many many many MANY lenses she shoots with... by this time I was drooling over her, and REALLY wanted to work for her. She let me know that there were a few other people she was talking to, and that she would get back to me by the end of the week. Our connection was great, and our styles are similar, so she assured me that either way, she would love for me to come along on shoots with her, and anything else that I might want to do. The next day, the email came.... it opened, and was so nice, and warming, and felt so good. She did chose me to come work with her. I feel so privileged that she wants me. She put a SUPER flattering, and nice post on her blog about her new assistant. I hope that I can live up to all the wonderful things she has said, but most of all, I am anxious to be in the shadow of a real life professional again. I will be doing blog appearances on her blog from time to time, so look for me! Again, Amy is so talented, and I feel very privileged to spend time with her. It will be a great opportunity for me, and I couldn't ask for a better boss!!!

There are two other great photographers that I have to blog about, while I am on the subject of photography. Jean Smith, she is the first natural light photographer that I met. She is an amazing artist, and I fell in love with the art through her work! She is A-mazing! Also, Meegan Littlefield! Meegan will go down in HISTORY for being the craziest, make me laugh till I cry, spunky, funky, snappy, HILARIOUSEST (yes, it is a word, OK?) roommate ever!!! It wasn't until about two months ago, that Meegs and I were REUNITED on good ole, FB! that I found out she was a photographer. It really is no surprise, because, like I said, I haven't met a photographer that I DON'T LOVE! But, she is so super ubber supportive, and so helpful. She has "taken me under her wing" and hooked me up UMPTEEN million times over! I will always be your guys biggest fans! I can't wait till I have something that I feel worth sharing with you, so I can get honest feedback! I love you hoochie mammas!

(Spell check DID not like this paragraph... lots of red, and I DON'T CARE!!!)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I am so HONORED....

Joel and I were having our afternoon catch up. As usual, I was prying for office gossip, (which usually never gets anywhere!) and he mentioned ever so casually, that he received an email from the VP of the company, that went out to the entire company. I asked him to read it to me, and as he did, my heart filled with gratitude! I asked him to forward it to me. Of course he asked, "WHY?". He is going to be super embarrassed when he finds out that I am blogging about it. We'll see how long he lets me keep it up here. But, it explains alot about Joel's character. Joel can over re-act in situations, and make them out to be a bigger deal than they really are. As a wife, that drives me batty sometimes, but in a professional environment it is useful. He takes his job very seriously, and because he over re-acts sometimes, that makes other aware how dedicated to his job he is. He is as/if not more dedicated to our family. Being "proud" of him, would entail pride, and I would rather be honored to be his wife, partner, and best friend.

Here is the email: (We thought we would have our own copy, so if we ever needed a letter of recommendation... hehe... JUST KIDDING!!!)

From: Royal Caswell
Sent: Tuesday, April 21, 2009 2:43 PM
To: McKinley
Subject: Celebrating Joel Evans . . .

Many of you know Joel Evans. If not, let me tell you about a young real estate professional who is a shining example of a McKinley employee who has lived the Core Values from day one.

Joel responded to one of our recruiting advertisements in December 2002. He began his McKinley career as a Residential Groundskeeper at the Lake in the Woods Apartments in Ypsilanti Township , Michigan . Joel was earnest in his approach to the job and realized very early on that hard work and dedication were rewarded at McKinley. His ingrained work ethic and Can-Do Attitude made him a stand out from the beginning. He quickly rose to Lead Groundskeeper.

After I took over the responsibilities for the Commercial Portfolio, I knew that Joel would work well at a Maintenance Technician in the Michigan Region. I should apologize to my good friends Nancy Dolan and Don Golec for stealing Joel, but they were proud to see Joel progress in his career! Joel’s hands-on approach made him a natural for the facilities/maintenance positions in which he worked. Joel could always be counted on to quickly assess a situation and use his Adroit abilities to find new and less-costly ways to accomplish tasks.

Later, Joel was an obvious pick for the Rising Stars program and I got the pleasure of being his mentor. It was immediately evident that Joel was an individual with limitless potential. When Joel said "I can be a Property Manager", I said "Let's go." He made the decision to move into a Commercial Property Management career path, becoming an Interim Property Manager in late 2007. This move required Joel to step outside of his maintenance and facilities comfort zone and step into the somewhat daunting collections, accounting, budgeting and lease interpretation zones. Joel attacked these areas with his passion for learning and was soon handling his own properties. In mid 2008, the Interim was removed from his title. Joel was showing everyone his Results orientation.

While this rapid rise is amazing - it continues on from there! Not long after Joel’s promotion to Property Manager, a similar role in Virginia became available. Joel made the decision to apply for the position and Len Cercone selected him as the top candidate.

Joel now works as a Property Manager at Janaf Shopping Yard in Norfolk , Virginia . Janaf is McKinley’s single largest asset . . . residential or commercial . . . owned or managed. With 1 million square feet of retail space, this asset is valued at over $100 million. Joel’s meteoric 7 year rise from Groundskeeper to Property Manager is a testament to Joel’s commitment to the McKinley Core Values.

I can guarantee you one thing. You will continue to hear more about Joel's progress and success, because it is part of his DNA to always develop and to always learn. You cannot stop him!

While we are all happy to see Joel's success, let me take a moment to ask YOU some questions. What do you want to be in your professional life? Have you completed your development plan with your supervisor? Do you have the education you need to advance? What work experiences will help you progress towards your goal? If you do not have answers to these questions, then why not? Get to it! You are part of the McKinley family. We want to see you succeed. We have developed world class systems and tools to aid in your development. That being said, it all begins and ends with your desire. Seven years will pass you by in flash. Where do you want to be in 7 years?

Please join me in celebrating Joel Evans for all that he’s accomplished in his short 7 years with McKinley!

Royal Caswell
Executive Vice President
Managing Director Commercial Real Estate

PS. This is the company that I was working at, when Joel and I met, and fell in love!

Monday, April 20, 2009

A lesson in pain!

It is heart breaking when you baby skins her knees, elbows, hands, toes, cheeks, all in the same day. What's even worse, is that this is not the last time she will feel pain. In fact, there will probably be times when she prefers this pain much more, than other pains. The fact is, that as parents, we have to be strong, and we have to let our kids fall, so they can learn. The hopes are that it will hurt so bad, they will do anything not to have to feel it again. Or maybe that is more my hope. Because as much as it hurts her, it hurts me worse. Through the cries I heard her say, "Fix it mommy!" "Make it better" My tender kisses to the knees were not enough. So, buck it up, learn from the pain, and be better prepared next time.

We did lots of yard work this weekend, which led to lots of scrapes and bruises. Our yard if filled with these AWFUL, UGLY, and MEAN buggers!

They come from Gum Trees, and they are called Gum Balls. They are covered in thorns. The are hard, and unforgiving. There are about 4 of these Gum Trees in our yard. They are 40-50 feet tall trees. These nasty gum balls didn't even seem to mind the lawn mower. They just carried on there merry way, attacking my baby! What a nightmare!! I will give props to who ever invented Sesame Street band aids though. They saved the day!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

No KNEAD bread... Part III

Phew... its a good thing there are only three parts to this post, because I don't know any more Roman Numerals. The bread posts are coming to an end... but not before you get to feast your eyes on the finished product. Lets back up though...

After the bread has set for 2 hours, (three in some cases, I don't think it really matters, but at least two hours, and no more than 4 hours. So, keep the socializing at church to a minimum, or invite your church friends over, to have bread and soup, its a win win situation!)

We need to pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees. When the oven is pre heating, you need to have the the dish the bread will bake in, in there pre heating with it. Here is what you need... a 3-9 quart heavy, covered, oven safe dish. I use a french white Corning ware casserole dish. I have an item on my wish list, that would be perfect!

But the white Corning ware works for now. Once the oven is pre-heated, remove the baking dish. Gently slide your hand underneath the towel of the bread dough, and dump it in the HOT dish. This may seem messy, and troublesome... but don't worry. Just get it in there. The messier the prettier. That is what I love about this bread. It is really fool proof!

Pop the lid on, and put it in the oven for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, remove the lid, and continue to bake for another 20-30 minutes.

Once it looks practically perfect to your standards, its ready to come out. Let it cool for about 5 minutes, then get it out of the dish, and onto a cooling rack, the immediately onto the table!

This bread is so great just plain. We love to put butter on it while it is hot though. We also like to make the olive oil dip that they use in Italian Restaurants to dip it in. Honey is a great topping for this bread, as well as jam. The possibilities are endless. I don't imagine it will keep good and fresh for very long, but it has never been a problem, because it never lasts very long either. Whole wheat flour is also suitable. My dad loves to use semolina flour, then roll it in sesames before putting it in the bowl. Whatever you do, do it soon! I have made this bread, and given it as a gift for a dinner party, with a fun ribbon around it. For Christmas, I made a loaf for Nora's doctor, and bought a fancy type of marmalade to go with it. It really is that great, the people think you are an amazing chef. A warning though... you will have people start requesting it! And you have to make sure you have time it takes to make it. Have fun with it! Let me know how it works out for you. I can't wait to hear what you all do with it!

No KNEAD bread... Part II

This is what I woke up to this morning. Beautiful!

The next step, is to flour the counter, and pour the dough out onto the floured surface. Kind of contain it, and let it rest there for about 15 minutes. This gives you plenty of time to whip up a batch of ham bean soup to put in the crock pot before leaving for church.

After you have your soup in the crock pot, or after 15 minutes, You need to take 2 cotton towels. NOT TERRY CLOTHE... you don't want bits of towel in your bread! 2 cotton towels, cover them with flour, corn meal, wheat flour... whatever you have. I love to use corn meal, but we must have decided for the corn meal not to make the move, because I could not find it this morning. I suggest corn meal, because it gives it a great looking crust. But whatever. So, this morning I used flour. Shape your dough into a ball. Put the ball seam side down onto one of the floured towels. Then cover it with the other floured towel.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

No KNEAD bread... Part I

This is a LOVED recipe in my house, and in just about every house that ever has tried this bread. It is so simple even a monkey could make it. Maybe... anyways, its really super duper easy, and your friends will think you are an amazing baker. It has been something that I rarely share with other people, just because I want them to think that I am really good at baking. But, now that we are all alone down here in Virginia Beach, I would like to share it with all of you. I understand that you may think less of me, now that you know how easy it is. But, it is a risk I am willing to take. Just so I can share this enjoyment with you! The hardest part about making this bread is the time that is involved. The dough does all the work, but it takes SEVERAL hours to rise, and you have to plan it out just right, so that it hits the table warm, and on time! So, if you are looking to make bread for Sunday dinner, like me, you have to get going NOW! Or maybe you should wait till next Saturday. That way, you can get the full recipe off my blog before you start. The only thing that you need, as far as ingredients is...

My dad likes to double the recipe, but I am making bread just for our little tiny family, and don't need that much, so here is what you "knead" for a single 1lb. loaf.

3c. flour
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon yeast
1 5/8c. water (I don't have a 1/8c. measuring cup, so I just eyeball it.)

All you do, is mix it all together, then cover it with plastic wrap. It "kneads" to set over night. 12-18 hours. The longer is rises, the better. Right now it looks like this:

Less then beautiful... but it makes me VERY excited for Sunday dinner! I hope all are enjoying a fabulous weekend. The weather is great here, and we are getting lots done! Have a good one!

Fairy Packages!

We like this living away thing. It means more mail! Which we love! In fact, I have been waiting for a package from an old friend, and every day the mail man comes, I start getting super super excited. Only to find out that she hasn't mailed it yet. Which is TOTALLY fine, because we get other packages from Grandma! and from LULU! and from Papa! We are so blessed to have such loving parents. Thank you for the beautiful packages. They are all Nora talks about for the rest of the day. (Which is a long time for her, our mail gets here pretty early!) Two packages came from grandma Sue last week. It was the highlight of the week. Thank you grandma. Nora will talk to you on Sunday!

My "CRACK" addiction

It started in December of 2005. I was working at an apartment complex. One resident came to the office with a special gift for her, "Favorite property manager". As soon as it hit my mouth, I NEEDED more! What is this amazing taste? Where did it come from? And how do I get more? She told me how to make my own, "Crack". I went home, and tried it out. I didn't love it anymore! It wasn't as great the second time. Then, three years later, I overheard my friend talking to her mother-in-law about "crack". I remembered the first time I tried it, and how much I loved it! She then, told me how to make my own. SO, again, I tried to do it myself. I didn't make it right, but it still tasted amazing. While I was blog hopping this weekend, I read a post about their "Crack" addiction. I thought it was only something you try around the holidays, but I was wrong. You can make crack anytime of the year. Spring time is a really popular time to make crack in the Jewish comunity. Apparently it is "kosher". Well, today I had to do try it again. OH BOY... am I glad I did! It hit the spot for me today, and I am sure that if you try it, you will love it too. It is really not the best for you, it could make your body jiggle in places that it shouldn't, but if you can't let lose every once in a while, then... well... what fun is that? Enjoy your crack, and if it becomes addicting, "You're welcome".

They call it crack, because, it is made with "crack"ers, it must be "crack"ed when it is ready to serve, and it is addicting, like "crack", cocaine (so, I've heard).

I stole this recipe from "Smitten Kitchen", who stole it from someone else, who stole it from someone else... you get the drift.

4 to 6 sheets matzo or approximately 40 Saltine crackers or crackers of your choice
1 cup (2 sticks or 8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into a few large pieces
1 cup packed light brown sugar
A big pinch of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups semi- or bittersweet chocolate chips (or chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate)
1 cup toasted chopped almonds, pecans, walnuts or a nut of your choice (optional)
Extra sea salt for sprinkling (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 11-by-17-inch baking sheet completely with foil, and then line the base of the foil with parchment paper, cut to fit.

Line the bottom of the baking sheet with matzo or crackers, covering all parts. [If using matzo, you'll need to break pieces to fit any extra spaces, which will be annoying because despite being perforated, it does not actually break in straight lines. I have some luck pressing a serrated knife straight down along a section between perforations, if that (hopefully) makes sense.]

In a medium heavy-duty saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar together, and stir it over medium heat until it begins to boil. Once it has begun boiling, let it bubble for three more minutes, stirring it well. It will thicken a bit as it cooks. Remove from the heat and add the salt and vanilla, and then quickly pour it over the matzo or crackers. You’ll want to spread it quickly, as it will begin to set as soon as it is poured.

Bake the caramel-covered crackers for 15 minutes, watching carefully as it will bubble and the corners might darken too quickly and/or burn. You can reduce the heat if you see this happening.

Remove from oven and immediately cover with chocolate chips. Let stand five minutes, and then spread them evenly across the caramel. An offset spatula works great here. If you’re using them, sprinkle the chocolate with toasted chopped nuts and/or sea salt. (The sea salt is great on matzo. On Saltines, it’s really not necessary.) *Unless you're like Kirstynn, and you love love love salt. The go for it!

Once completely cool — I sometimes speed this process up in the fridge, impatient as should be expected in the face of caramel crack(ers) — break it into pieces and store it in a container. It should keep for a week but I’ve never seen it last that long.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Check Noras blog!

I will put more of Nora on Easter, on her blog. Check it out if you want to see her "breath taking" dress. Oh, wait... that was her Christmas dress. This dress isn't AS breath taking, but still she is a little doll!

April Showers brings May flowers!

The weather here has been less then exciting this week. Today is the first day we have seen the sun all week, and it is really windy, so too cold to play outside. This weekend is supposed to be beautiful, so I hope that makes up for it.

So, we have this next door neighbor. We haven't officially met him, but have seen him in passing a few times. I think he is WAY too cool for me, and every time we pass by, I feel like a super dork! We'll call him, WAY TOO COOL FOR ME, SUPER COOL NEIGHBOR, or WTCFMSCN for short. This was our first conversation, while I was guiding Joel with the moving truck in the drive way,

WTCFMSCN: So you moved in yet?
Me: Uh? Getting there? (While I am waving Joel in)
WTCFMSCN: Alright, have a good one.
Me: Uh... ok... (wishing I wasn't responsible for the super huge moving truck about to run into the house, so that I could actually have a conversation with this guy.)

So, we talked to the other neighbors, and found out that he owns a surf shop on the beach. Which explains why he is too cool for us. We have never surfed, or really even known any surfers. But from what I see on movies, they are always in a different COOL league then us. Maybe, being down here in VB, we can becomes surfers, and start to "Hang" with more surfers! How fun??? These were all my thoughts until conversation number 2:

I am cleaning out the car, and Nora is running crazy around the yard. He pulls up, and I make it a point to say:
Me: Hey! How are ya?
WTCFMSCN: Pretty good. I just got off work, so life is good.
Me: Oh, great! Well, enjoy the rest of your day
WTCFMSCN: (Whatever lady!)

So, I again feel totally stupid. I couldn't even come up with something clever to say. Just, "Great". What is wrong with me? Well, you think after that, I would just learn to keep my mouth shut. But, no! I have to be little miss chatty, and have to talk to everyone who walk by. After today, I am done talking. If he talks, I will just shake my head and nod! That's it! Here was our conversation today:

Nora and I were playing hop scotch on the driveway. It was chilly, so I had my hood to my sweatshirt over my head. Which in my mind could be sort of cool? Better then looking at my messy wind blown hair. He walks out of his house.
Me: Hey there! How are you?
WTCFMSCN: EH? This weather sucks! I just want it to get warm!
Me: Yeah, me too! I hate it!

That was it! Come on! I have lived in AWFUL weather my whole life. At least the sun is out, and there isn't snow on the ground. The weather is great! All I could say was, "Yeah, I hate it!"? HOW LAME!

So from this day forward, no more talking to WTCFMSCN! Or, only talk him when spoken to, and when I have something "COOL" to say back!

Getting on with it... Today while Nora and I were outside, she said, "I go get some ping. Be right back!" Here we go again. She has to go in and get her camera. I hope she can find it, because I have no clue where it is. She came back outside with our mini Hymn book. She calls them her "criptures". So she was singing, and reading, and passing our her "criptures". It was pretty funny.

Earlier this week, we went to the aquarium. It is really close to our house. We thought it would be a great day, with little crowds. Except we forgot it was Spring Break, and everyone and their brother were at the Aquarium. Being really dark, and really crowded, made for bad pictures. I got a membership for the year, so when all the kids go back to school, we are going to try it out again. For now, here are some pretty awful pictures! Any advice on taking pictures inside dark rooms with out a flash?

I also forgot to blog about our Easter dinner. Since Uncle Dan was in town, and NO ONE appreciates my cooking like Uncle Dan, I decided to get myself in WAY over my head! On the menu: Spiral ham, stuffed artichokes, Broccoli Rob, Cheesy potatoes, fresh bread, and a lemon cream cake for dessert. Like I said, I was in way over my head. 1) I am not that familiar with my kitchen yet, 2) a few things, I have never made before, 3) this was all on my own! No help from mommy. Once I got going, I decided, "This is gonna work. I got this!" What I didn't have was yeast, so scratch the fresh bread idea. Uncle Dan is known as "Dan Dan the bread man", so he had to have bread. He made sure that come Sunday dinner, there was bread on the table. The ham went in the oven. The potatoes went in, the cake was ready to be assembled, the rob was ready, and the artichokes just needed to be steamed. Then when it came time to putting it all on the table, everything fell apart. The ham wasn't finished, and needed about another 35 minutes, the rob was too salty, the potatoes were... great! the artichoke was burning on the bottom, but not cooked all the way through. And the cake... well the cake... was not good! It tasted good, but it was a MESS! It was almost as messy as the kitchen! Yes, that is the ironing board, and the laptop in my kitchen. Ironing board added more counter space, and laptop was so that I could follow the recipe without having to hook up the printer, and printing it off. YIKES! I am glad it is over, and I am glad that I did it! I was just ready for a nap afterwards. Also, you will notice 3 cans of DIET coke! One on every surface. I can't cook a meal without it! Thank you diet coke for making this less painful then it could have been!

That trampy mermaid isn't supposed to be in the pictures either, but we can't seem to get rid of her. We are learning to love all of our mermaids, even the ones that may act promiscuous.