Wednesday, December 12, 2012

English Toffee -- tradition!

Every year at this time I make up a batch of English Toffee -- American style ... So yesterday I pulled out the recipe to make sure I had everything.  The recipe is printed out from an email message dated December 24th, 2000 ... from my lovely friend Steph Winn.  She said it was all right for me to share with you all so here it is.  I gotta tell you, family and friends and co-workers of all of the above look forward to seeing the tins come their way!

Hope you enjoy it as much as we all do!!

1 pound of butter
2 cups of sugar
5 tablespoons of water

Put this all in a good sized pot and bring to a boil.  Now, you can be precise and use a candy thermometer to the "hard crack" stage, or you can do what we do and just keep stirring until it's the color of a brown paper bag.  I like to make it to a medium brown paper bag ... the darker it is the crackier it is ... is that a word? lol!!

Pour this boiling mix onto a buttered sheet -- I use a jelly-roll pan which is about 13 x 15 inches ... I don't like it too thick ... or too thin!  Spread the toffee out so it's about even in the pan, but you might get some thicker pieces or thinner pieces ... but it is all good!!

Be careful ... nothing hotter than boiling sugar!!

Sprinkle chocolate chips over the top, and spread them as they melt on the toffee.  And before the chocolate sets, sprinkle with some sliced almonds. (I did find some dark chocolate chips this year that I want to try!)

When everything has set and cooled, start breaking the toffee into pieces.  Don't bother trying to cut it ... won't happen!

Thanks, Steph for 12 years o toffee!!


End of the year??

Good grief, Charlie Brown!!  Only a couple of weeks til we sing Auld Lang Syne ... but before that there is some bustling going on in this Florida house!!  Having family come for Christmas got us all inspired to decorate ... but first we have had to move lots of stuff around :)  BUT it feels like we are finally moving into this house lol!!!

Lots of doings over the next two weeks ... and I want to share our fun!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Did I Sleep Through June?

Came over to play a bit with my blogs and realized that the month of June was almost over!  And here I was trying to be better about updating my blog!  Well, part of the month was spent preparing for a trip, then the trip, and now recovering from jet lag!

It's been pouring rain today in my sunny little corner of the world ... better find out how to let water out of the pool in case it gets too high!  It was a good day to kick back, read a book, and take a nap.  So I did all three!

Going to do a little updating and will be back to tell you all about the trip Sophie and I had!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Just Fussing!

Do you ever feel so overwhelmed you want to tuck yourself in bed covered up with a cozy quilt and wish for little elves?  Okay then, could you send over those little elves for a while?

I think our whirlwind tour will be more relaxing than this week! lol!  I'm pretty tired of hurting in someplace or in several places -- it sure zaps the energy!  Still working on trip planning ... packed a "test" suitcase yesterday and it was light enough (yeah) but not everything fit! lol!!  So it's off to buy just a little larger bag -- really!! just a bit bigger!!

Walking around with a notebook because my mind sure isn't holding on to what I need/want to do!  Discovered that I put the wrong phone number on our business cards so have to reorder those :(  Fortunately I only gave out one lol!!

I think I'll just go take a bubble bath and deliver Midge to Play School and take one hour at a time today -- or even a half hour!!

Wishing you all a serene day!!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Traveling Clothes!

Sophie and I headed off to Macy's this evening for "a few incidentals" ... oh wow!  Can we shop or what? lol!!  Two of her new Europe outfits!  She is planning to wear the lovely dress to our Wizard of Oz theater engagement in London :)  Her capris willl probably go on the Harry Potter walking tour!

Big Adventure for Me and Sophie!

Didn't realize that making travel plans could be so tiring! lol!! Spent most of the past eight hours planning and booking our trip to Europe which starts in just three weeks!!!

We're off to London on June 5, arriving about noon on the 6th.  We'll be going to the theater that evening to see The Wizard of Oz!!  The next two days we'll be great London tourists and hopefully meet up for tea with our quilting friends.  The last time they saw Sophie she was only 4!!

Then we're off to Paris Saturday morning on Eurostar, of course!  We have the weekend to explore the hot things on our wish lists before we catch a train to Stuttgart, Germany, to visit Darby and family.  Unfortunately we will be there just a few days before nephew Joe arrives from Washington, DC, so we'll have to plan another trip!  Another quilting friend is in Stuttgart and I hope we can meet up for lunch or coffee or something!

Whew! are you tired yet? hehe Well we gotta keep going!!

On Thursday we head off by train to Venice, Italy, which is the beginning of our week-long whirlwind tour of Italian delights -- oh bliss, all the real cappuccino I can drink!  Then it's an overnight train back to Paris, a quick hop back to London and on our way home.

Can't wait!!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

So ... watz de udder guy look like??

I must admit that the past 10 days or so have taken a toll on this ole body of mine!  Back in February I took a tumble down a flight of stairs, and though the docs did some exrays, they neglected the left hand ... turns out (after finally realizing it wasn't going to get better) that I had pretty well destroyed the ligament for the thumb so last week they reinforced it and rebuilt it using a tendon from my wrist. 

Not too bad, but prickly at best.  Yesterday they had to reset the thumb :(  and I'm now sporting a lovely purple cast for another week or two.  All in all they tell me I thumb will be imprisoned for about six weeks :(

Then the dermatologist got involved with my nose where I suspected a new cancer had emerged.  He biopsied it and verified it we another surgery was scheduled.  Interesting procedure!  Unfortunately they had to remove enough layers of my nose that some reconstruction was needed and they did that on Thursday.  In addition to the black eyes, these bandages are just not fashionable!  And after hitting my nose with my new cast Friday night, nothing feels very good right now :)

And in the midst of trying to do some pain management and get some sleep, Midge needed to make a 4:30 a.m. potty run.  She ran so fast she fell in the pool lol!!  And here I am one-armed, half blind, drugged, middle of the night, trying to get her out lol!!  She did her thing but when I tried to get her in a towel to dry off she really thought this was a great play time!!  Only one of us was amused .

Cinco de Mayo!

Who doesn't love a great plate of nachos? or some spicy enchiladas?  May 5, Cinco de Mayo in the Mexican calendar, gave us a great opportunity to indulge in some of our favorite foods and celebrate a bit of Sophie's heritage!

Cinco de Mayo—or the fifth of May—commemorates the Mexican army's 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War (1861-1867). A relatively minor holiday in Mexico, in the United States Cinco de Mayo has evolved into a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage, particularly in areas with large Mexican-American populations. Cinco de Mayo traditions include parades, mariachi music performances and street festivals in cities and towns across Mexico and the United States.

Here in Sarasota at Villa Vitale, we had a rousing dinner of make your own nachos (it was quite funny to see Sophie's loaded with her beloved jalapeno peppers with cousin Andie cringing beside her at the mere thought of a leetle peppah!  Kim whipped up some queso with a tang and Sophie's enchilada pie was a great hit!  Our version of margaritas was ice cold Simply Limemade and Pineapple empanadas finished off our multi-cultural celebration.


Friday, May 4, 2012

Family Weekend

Looking forward to the weekend!  My favorite cousin from Colorado is here with her very grown son and we're having a weekend get together before she goes home and Gregory goes back to Daytona!  Tonight's dinner is Honey Baked Ham (yummmmmm) with creamed spinach and mac and cheese.  Our contribution is lemon pound cake ... one of my favorite recipes from about 15 years ago!

1. Grease and flour a 12-cup bundt pan and heat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Mix 3 cups all purpose flour, 2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt in a bowl and set aside.
3. On medium speed mix 1 cup unsalted butter (softened), 2 cups sugar until creamy; add 4 eggs one at a time.  On low speed add flour mixture in three additions alternating with 1 cup milk in two additions.
4. Stir in 2 Tablespoons finely grated lemon peel.
5. Bake 1 hour and 5-10 minutes until toothpick is clean. Let set 5 minutes then turn out on rack. Cover with tin foil while you make the glaze.

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
2/3 cup sugar

Brush glaze all over warm cake (cake will absorb the glaze)

Cut two lemons into thin slices. Bring two cups EACH sugar and water to boil in wide skillet.  Add slices. Reduce heat. Simmer 25 minutes until slices are translucent.

A Few of my Favorite Things

Beginning to feel like the heavy cloak of grief is lifting and I see the sun shining and hear the birds.  Love the quiet moments, but am also welcoming human companionship.  Even doing some of my favorite things!

Gardening ... started cleaning out the beds to put in a new harvest.  That will take some work :)  But a little at a time.  In the meanwhile I went off to the nursery and oodles of flowers for our patio pots so we have some color out there.  Looking like spring :)  Even did some mowing!

Reading ... as you can see from my reading list, I'm definitely back in book world!

Quilting ... little by little we cleared off tables in the quilting room and there is actually space to work and Jenny and I have some small projects underway.  I also picked up my LOLLIPOP TREE applique and with just a few more pieces to stitch down will have a block finished!  This one only took me two years hehehehe ... I got so inspired though that I have four more of these big blocks (they are 20" x 20") selected and am prepping them.  They are by far the largest applique blocks I've ever tried!

Social networking on Facebook, but I'm not quite at my usual addiction level yet

Hope you all have time for some of your favorite things these days!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

My little escape artist

Many of you know that I have the cutest pug dog in the world.  She just turned two on my birthday, and wow is she in her terrible twos heheh ... One of the problems with the new house -- and believe me they are few -- is that the fence is really a mess.

Well Midge has found a couple of holes/loopholes that her little butt can just about fit through ... but I did manage to watch out for her and keep her in the ysrd. UNTIL LAST NIGHT! Now, it is 11 pm and time for evening ritual.  Generally I can see her fine with the moon and the stars, but after all she IS a totally black dog on a totally black night.  You see where I'm going, right?  Yes, she took this opportunity to wiggle her little butt through a hole in the fence. Now it is pitch black and I'm down on the ground trying to see a pitch black dog!  Fortunately she doesn't have much of a nose so I heard her snuffling before she actually came for her treats (bribes).

And after our lovely brunch today I took my Aunt out to see my garden (We have been picking bushels of tomatoes since December!) and when I turned around that lil devil dog had disappeared out of the yard again ... only now I was frantic!!  Thank goodness I had lots of helpers combing the neighborhood on foot and in cars and she was found on the next street --- with a totally surprised look, "Oh, hi, what are you doing here?!" She came home to a house full of frightened and scolding people!

Time to fix this problem!! Thank goodness my "Mr. Fixit" brother is here and knew what we needed to do.  Ultimately of course I have to replace the fence, but I thought getting unpacked and settled might be a priority.  Anyway, we took hardware cloth and staple gun and snippers and fenced off the biggest spots today.  Still more to go, but he taught me what to do. 

And the Midge stayed in her home yard the rest of the day!

Birthday for Brother or Super Bowl??

He has been telling me for weeks -- even before he arrived! -- that it was Super Bowl Sunday and we could not, under any circumstances plan anything for that day for his birthday that would interrupt him from the game.   Hmmmmmmphff ... Our first hurdle.  Ok, brunch with our Aunt and Sophie had a friend overnight. So the young girls and I fixed yummy eggs Benedict with steamed asparagus on the side, and famous Florida just-picked strawberries on the plate.  Jenny did her usual beautiful table decorations and all in all we had a great brunch.

By the way, I have truly the easiest recipe for Hollandaise sauce ever, and I've used it for 40 or more years:  2 egg yolks and 2 Tablespoons of fresh lemon juice.  Mix well in a saucepan and put the heat on low.  Cut a stick of very cold butter into 4 pieces and add them one at a time until each melts, then add more.  The sauce will thicken nicely as it cooks.

Tip/trick ... if your sauce separates and looks icky, take a whisk and a teaspoon of water at a time and whisk quickly and it will come back together just fine :)

So, now brother gets the super bowl, we got to feed him nicely, and there is cake for half time.

Ohhhhh forgot that when I was headed to the grocers yesterday he wanted to give me his list of snacks he wanted for his TV I brought home potato chips and dip :)

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Land of the Living ...

.. and experiencing great loss. ...  Wow, it's been a long journey this past year while my best friend, companion, and love of my life fought cancer.  He passed over in November and needless to say, my pain and loss and sadness are deep. But I am working hard to fight through it all.

I moved into my house -- my own house --January 30.  Gee that packing was fun (NOT) but everything in my life is here -- including darling Jenny and Grandniece Sophie! -- I just can't yet find anything except the ladies, the cats, and Midge the Pug.  But day by day with the help of my little lists, it will get put in place.

I just read another blog where the wonderful owner (no, not Flylady who has helped me in the past heheh) has been posting weekly rooms to tackle! This sounded like a great approach since we are blending households.  My dear niece who has been my life-long precious friend actually left job and family to move from Dallas to Sarasota to be able to help me this past year.

My youngest brother came down 10 days ago for two weeks to help put things back together and set up shelving -- you know, all those guy things heheh so he's having fun in Florida and has helped physically, mentally, and emotionally.  Yes, Martha is still my hero, so I must say "It's a good thing!"

Good night! Hope to be back playing before too long :)

Linda (whew now in Florida!)... and experiencing great loss.