Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Movie Madness

This weekend was a movie weekend at our house. The hubby and I rented 10 movies from a local RedBox and watched them over a 60 hour time period. What we watched:

  1. The Wrestler
  2. Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging
  3. Gran Torino
  4. Year One
  5. Taken
  6. Four Christmases
  7. Land of the Lost
  8. Angels and Demons
  9. The Hangover
  10. Extract

There was only one that we thought was too stupid to even finish. That was Land of the Lost. In my ever so humble opinion, Year One was nearly as bad.

I was very surprised by The Wrestler and Gran Torino. Neither one was quite what I expected. Both were excellent films and now on the ever growing list of DVDs to purchase.

Taken was a pretty decent flick, but considering we watched it between The Wrestler and Gran Torino, I wasn’t overly impressed with it. I thought the plot and ending were too predictable.

Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging was a movie I picked to watch because it is based on a British teen book series that I have mostly enjoyed. The movie was a typical teen movie and about what I expected. There were a few changes from the series, but overall a decent rendition.

We had seen previews for Extract and thought it looked good. The hubby forgot about it, but it stuck in my mind. It is a great movie. We both laughed a lot while watching it. Another movie I wouldn’t mind owning.

Four Christmases is a holiday movie that we hadn’t yet seen. It’s an OK movie but not nearly comparable to such great holiday movies as A Christmas Story, Elf and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

When I first heard of The Hangover, I thought it would be just another campy stereotypical guys’ night out type of film. Then I started hearing people talk about how great it was. I was intrigued. It. Was. Hilarious. Yet another movie to add to the collection!

Angels and Demons is a movie that was enjoyable. Unlike the hubby, I haven’t read the series of books, so I didn’t know the story. Overall it was pretty good (even if there was at least one inaccuracy about Catholicism). Not sure if we will buy it.

So, there you have it. Ten movies in just over 2 days. It was a great way to spend a wintry weekend with the hubby and puppyboy.

Bah. Humbug.

My vacation is almost over. That, however, is not the reason for this post’s title. While I do return to work in the morning, I only work three days this week and then have a lovely three day weekend. Yay!

Alas, as it seems to happen often over the past few years, I have caught what I like to call a Christmas Cold. Luckily, this year’s cold doesn’t seem to be too bad. Yes, I am knocking on wood that it doesn’t knock me down and out. I’ve too much going on over the next few weeks to be sick!

This is one holiday tradition that I could do without. While I’ve enjoyed lounging around the house and letting the hubby baby me a little more than usual, I’d rather not finish off a few boxes of tissues in just a few days.

For those who say that vitamin C keeps you healthy, I would like to point out that it is Clementine season. In the Schmurphy household, that means I’ve been enjoying an average of a box a week. This is in addition to the orange juice that we have with breakfast. Therefore, I can’t help but wonder what truth there is in that bit of advice. If upping the vitamin C consumption keeps you healthy, why the hell and I feeling so ick. Bah. Humbug.

Thursday, December 24, 2009


It’s the holiday season. For many, this means family traditions will be completed yet again. One holiday tradition that my family had when I was growing up was attending Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. Not every family member went each year, and there may have been years that we missed the late service. If so, I don’t recall. As an adult, there have been years that I have missed Midnight Mass (and a few times that I was disappointed in the service enough to wish I missed it).

Last year the hubby surprised me by taking me to the service at a church near our house. I loved the small size of the parish and the welcoming atmosphere. Over the last year I have often said that I wanted to attend mass at that church again. A year has gone by and tonight will be the first time we’ve been back. While I wish that I had made more of an effort to go on Sunday mornings, I’m happy that my husband is supporting the continuation of the Christmas Eve Midnight Mass tradition.

We’ve started a few traditions of our own over the years. Notably would be opening at least one (if not all) of our Christmas gifts late on Christmas Eve (usually after Mass, so it would technically be Christmas Day). Some years this is extended by staying up most of the night watching movies.

My ILs have a tradition of hiding a glass pickle ornament on one of their Christmas trees. Whichever grandchild finds it receives a small amount of money (A dollar? Five? I can’t recall exactly how much).

So tell me…What holiday traditions do you have?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Baby, it’s 1 a.m. and I am baking…

Yes, last night I was wide awake at 1 a.m. and decided that it was the perfect time to bake.

I promised the hubby that I would make him some peanut butter cookies. Since he is on the road a lot, and since we will have lots of other sweets over the next week or so, I decided to split the dough and use some of it for Peanut Butter Blossoms (or Hugs and Kisses cookies, as I usually call them).

My favorite peanut butter cookie recipe comes from the 1001 Cookie Recipes cookbook. You can tell that I love this recipe just by looking at it in the book.

The dough:

Coating the dough with sugar before baking:

Ready for the oven!

Hershey kisses just waiting for the cookies to finish baking.
Fresh from the oven and waiting to be kissed:
Yum! Must wait until they cool to eat. Right?
Peanut butter cookies ready for the oven:
...and freshly baked!

I ended up with about 2 dozen peanut butter blossoms and at least 3 dozen peanut butter cookies.

Good for the soul.

A friend of mine has been blogging about doing mitzvahs (good deeds).

As I was running errands this afternoon, I earned a hug from a stranger for such a small thing, but I think that it really made both of our days.

What was the small thing? Actually, it was two. 1. She dropped her receipt as she was leaving the store. I was behind her and noticed it and gave it back to her. 2. It ended up that she was parked beside me. After I unloaded my cart, I waited another minute and then offered to take her cart to the buggy return.

The other mitzvah for today…I had a bunch of stuff that I was purchasing and nearly all of it was on the belt. Then I noticed that the girl behind me only had two items. I offered to let her go before me, saving her at least 10 minutes of waiting in line.

Again, it was a little thing. But those little things can make all the difference to someone.

Have you been the receiver of a mitzvah?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

On Sale!

The year is almost over, and Gold Canyon is having a fantastic sale. From now until December 31, you can purchase a large selection of Gold Canyon products at 20-75% off! Click here to check out the sale.

how to thank a knitter

Check out the KnitPicks knitting community by clicking here.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Season for Sharing

I haven't put out a lot of Christmas decorations this year, but this is one of my new favorites.

Season for Sharing with an 8 ounce Apple Orchard Pear'adise Bella candle.

It's so very pretty when the candle shines through the sides.

more food pics

Dark Chocolate Truffles

  • coated in cocoa
  • coated in crushed candy canes
  • dipped in dark chocolate and rolled in hazelnuts
  • dipped in dark chocolate and topped with crushed candy canes

These were coated in cocoa. I didn't put them in the fridge, which is why I think think they absorbed the coating. :/

Frosted Gingerbread Cookies

Two out of three people who tried the gingerbread cookies said that the frosting was too lemony. So, I played with the frosting and attempted to fix the problem. I added more butter, milk and vanilla. I also added some powdered ginger.

Gingerbread cookies frosted with Lemon-Ginger Buttercream.
The smaller hearts have the Lemon-Ginger buttercream frosting.

Lemon-Ginger buttercream frosting

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Dark Chocolate Truffles

This was the recipe I used for the truffles. Rather, it was the recipe that I sort of used for the truffles, since I added a few things:

Dark Chocolate Truffles
Recipe courtesy of Marcel Desaulniers
Prep Time: 1 hr 45 min
Level: Easy

  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa, sifted
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar, sifted


Place 8 ounces semisweet chocolate and the unsweetened chocolate in a 4-quart bowl.

Heat the heavy cream in a 1 1/2-quart saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil. Pour the boiling cream over the chocolate. Allow to stand for 5 minutes, then stir until smooth (now you have ganache). Refrigerate the ganache for 1 hour until firm but not hard.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a tablespoon of ganache for each truffle (approximately 3/4 ounce), portion 24 truffles, evenly space onto the parchment lined baking sheet. Refrigerate the ganache portions for 15 minutes (so the ganache will be firm enough to roll into truffles). When the ganache is firm enough to handle, remove from the refrigerator and individually roll each portion of ganache in your palms, in a gentle circular motion, using just enough pressure to form smooth rounds. Roll 16 of the rounds in 2 tablespoons cocoa and separately roll 8 in the confectioners sugar until completely covered. Store the truffles in a tightly sealed plastic container, in the refrigerator. Remove about 1 hour before serving.

My Changes/Additions
  • I used 8 ounces of Nestlé dark chocolate, broken into pieces, and 12 ounces of Nestlé semi-sweet chocolate chips.
  • I added about 1 teaspoon of cinnamon to the chocolate before pouring the hot cream on it. I
  • used one full pint of heavy cream.
  • I let the ganache set, tightly covered with press and seal plastic wrap, in the fridge for about 24 hours.
  • I used my smallest cookie scoop for the truffles. It was perfect sized.
  • I dipped some truffles in Baker’s semi-sweet dark dipping chocolate, then coated with crushed hazelnuts or candy canes. Most I coated with Hershey’s cocoa powder.

Photos to come...once I take them.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Gingerbread Cookies - Photos!

The recipe:

Smaller heart cookies:

Larger Heart Cookies:

Lemon Buttercream Frosting:

Frosting some of the cookies:

Holiday Baking

I love to bake, though don’t do it nearly as often as I want to. I’m not one to follow directions well, so I guess it’s surprising that my baked goods turn out so well. I use liquid measuring cups for dry ingredients and don’t measure ingredients exactly, but rather close enough. Usually that means I add a little more of things. As I said, it turns out pretty well.

Almost every holiday I end up trying a new cookie recipe. This year it was for gingerbread cookies. It was only in the past few years that I realized that I like gingerbread. At this year’s cookie exchange, Knitty Jen made adorable little gingerbread men cookies. I think I ate every one of the dozen or so I brought home. They were delish! So, I decided to make my own.

After reviewing Knitty Jen’s recipe, though, I realized that I should check a few other recipes – due to the recent destruction of my food processor (The hubby and I both knocked it off of a table. May it rest in pieces). So, after reviewing several recipes, I decided on one found in 1001 Cookie Recipes.

Of course, it still meant I needed to go grocery shopping, since I don’t normally keep molasses in the cupboard.

After work last night I made the dough. As I transferred the dough from my beloved Kitchen Aide stand-up mixer to a bowl, I noticed it was rather crumbly. I just figured it was the norm and covered the bowl before placing it in the fridge.

Fast-forward about 24 hours. After work tonight I pulled out the dough to start rolling it for cutouts. That didn’t work too well. The dough was still very crumbly. So…off to the laptop to Google “gingerbread cookie dough crumbly”. The first hit was a wonderful short video from About.com all about making gingerbread cookies. Yay! I found a possible solution. Back to the kitchen to clean out my mixing bowl and transfer the dough back to it…adding a bit of water to the mix. That did the trick.

I was able to get 18 large-ish hearts and 25 smaller hearts out of the dough. They look and smell delicious. I also whipped up a small batch of lemon buttercream frosting to use on some of the cookies. The recipe? Several tablespoons of unsalted butter, about 2 teaspoons of pure lemon extract, about 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract, a few cups of powdered sugar, a few tablespoons of skim milk and several drops of yellow food coloring. Yeah…I’m really great at keeping track of how much of what I used.

Unlike Knitty Jen's cookies, mine are soft gingerbread cookies.

After the cookies cool and I frost a few, I’ll take some photos. Maybe I’ll even remember to share the photos.

Other yummy tasks for tonight included making dark chocolate truffles. That deserves its own post…another time.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Knit Night

Ah. I adore the second Monday of the month. Why? Because that is knit night. A few years ago I decided to do something unusual for me and attended a knitting meet up. What made it so unusual was that I didn’t know anyone in the group. Since then I’ve become much better at trying things by myself.

I love this group. Over the past few years it has grown from an average attendance of 3 to between 15-20 people attending! Most of us are knitters, but there are some who crochet, sew and cross stitch.

Another reason I love this group is that I’ve made some great friends. When I moved here I only knew people through work or through my husband (including his family), having left my friends and family in SE Michigan and northern WV – both at least a 2 hours drive away. Now I have a close knit group of friends here (pun intended) in the area where I live. This makes for a much happier Ama.


I’m still working on the hat for my coworker/friend who is going through chemo. I told her last week that by the time I finish it she will have hair again. Her remark? That her hair will be down her back by then. Nice, eh? rofl

The hat is nearly finished. I just need to start the decreasing for the top. That means I need to get one of my knitty friends to help me figure out what to do, as it’s been a while since I made a hat and this one does not have a pattern.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

I've gotta sing

I don’t really watch TV. Well, not on the TV. Instead I watch a lot of episodes online. If S is home we will often watch past seasons of various shows (and use the television), but if it is just me I will just pop the DVD into one of the laptops.

So far this fall I’ve been watching two shows semi-regularly. Modern Family, which was recommended to me by a coworker, and Glee, which I have no clue how I got started on watching.

Unfortunately, I missed the first few episodes of Modern Family. I have very much enjoyed what I have seen. I hope it is around for the next several years.

Glee – ah, Glee. Part of me wants to not like this show. It’s campy. The storylines have several annoying holes. But, there is the music. The wonderful music. Ahhhh…It calls to the singer in me and I can’t help but play the songs over and over again (and sing along, of course). I’ll admit I’ve learned some songs that are new to me, but more than likely old news to most of the viewers. Doesn’t matter. This show may actually compel me to purchase a newly released CD for the first time in years.

Alas…Glee is now on hiatus until mid-April. WTH, Fox!

And that would be one of the many reasons why I don’t really watch TV. As soon as I get into a show it is either canceled or goes on a long hiatus. Bah. Humbug.

Want to listen to some of the awesome vocals on the Glee soundtracks? Check out this profile on YouTube!

The first of many

A few days ago I finished burning my first full Gold Canyon candle. This one was an 8 ounce Pomegranate Heritage candle. Now I need to decide what to do with the empty jar.

I haven’t tried the Gold Canyon recommended jar cleaning instructions yet, but plan to this weekend:

Be thrifty, be green. Salvage glass candle jars and make them purposeful again turning them into unique holders or accent pieces. You can use empty jar candles, candle holders or candle accessories containers as places to store supplies in the office; as food containers for candy, spices, flour, sugar or tea bags in the kitchen; as storage for buttons, safety pins or craft items in the spare bedroom; as everyday containers for storing cotton balls, soaps or cotton swabs.

  1. Only use this method of cleaning when 1/2” or less of wax remains in a candle jar. Turn oven to 200 degrees, place candle jar on a baking sheet and warm in the oven for 30 minutes or just until wax is liquefied. CAUTION: Candle jars will be hot to the touch.
  2. Pour wax into a disposable heat safe container. Use a disposable towel to wipe out any remaining wax in the candle jar.
  3. Squeeze Wax Remover into candle jar; wipe clean.
  4. Spray candle jar with Gold Canyon’s natural cleaning product, Homeology™ All Purpose, rinse in hot water and dry.

Christmas is coming...

I love giving gifts. There’s something special about giving a (near) perfect gift. So, it’s no surprise that I love this time of year. Not only do I have Christmas gifts to give, but starting in January I have a whole slew of birthday gifts to give to family members. This is becoming a little more difficult, though, as my family spreads further apart. For example, my middle sister G and her hubby live in Texas. (Ye-haw, y’all.) Texas would otherwise be known as “Too dang hot for this Yankee.”

Recently I ordered Christmas presents for G and K. Since they are quite some distance from me, I had the box shipped directly to their home. It arrived yesterday and G was able to open it tonight, since I gave her permission to not wait until Christmas. lol She sounded so tickled about the gifts! I bought them a Black Footed Square pod warmer, two scent pods (Cobblestone and Ivy Path and Cinnamon Vanilla) and a bottle of Homeology Rosemary Mint All Purpose Cleaner. I could just picture the pod warmer in their living room. It perfectly matches the style of furniture. I hoped that the scents I choose would fit their preferences, and G assured me that they did – especially the Cobblestone and Ivy Path. The cleaner was just something I thought they would appreciate. They are both what I would call “neat freaks” (but not in a bad way), and the cleaner is an eco-friendly one. I use it in my own home, and really like it a lot.

Now…here’s hoping the rest of my Christmas list equally loves their gifts. Of course, I need to finish getting them together first!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Yay! Presents!

I LOVE presents. I love to give them and I love to receive them. As you can imagine, then, I adore this time of year.

My dear friend Knitty T made these wonderful stitch markers for several of us as Christmas gifts. They are so cute that I just have to share photos.

I love all of them, but these two did make me *squee* just a little:

They also gained puppyboy's approval. He gives them four paws up.

Thanks, Kitty T! :D

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Seasons Greetings

Once upon a time I was a great card giver – especially at Christmas. The past few years I’ve been paring down my list of holiday card receivers. This is mostly due to cost, as the price of postage keeps rising. In fact, I am very much considering only sending out a handful of cards this year.

What doesn’t surprise me is that we’ve only received a few cards so far this season. I’m not sure if this is because I didn’t send out as many last year or because it costs so darn much to mail a card now.

Now…the real question is what type of cards to send to those select people? Handmade cards? Photo cards? A box of store bought cards? Individually picked out store bought cards? Decisions, decisions.

How to Decorate a Holiday Table

Yay! Mail!

Last week I ordered some of the new scents. They arrived a few days ago. I am so pleased! The scents I ordered were: Love Struck (in a scent pod), Moroccan Vanilla Amber, Grass and Pink Lemonade Spritzer (all 5 ounce Heritage candles).

Love Struck reminds me of Victoria Secret’s Love Spell scent. My sister G used to buy that body wash. I think I’ll be buying a couple of candles in that scent!

I was excited to read that we were getting the Grass scent, as I’ve had several people ask me about it in the past. It smells so lovely – just like a spring afternoon. Ahhh.

Pink Lemonade Spritzer smells delish as well. I’m not a fan of pink lemonade (the drink), but this candle smells so yummy and refreshing!

The only scent that didn’t stand out to me was the Moroccan Vanilla Amber. Perhaps it is just because I sniffed it after sniffing the others. It just didn’t seem overly strong or distinctive.

Cookie update

For those who can’t stand the wait, I made the Double-Chocolate Dream cookies with the add-ins I mentioned. Delish!

The cookie party was lots of fun, as expected. I have a bunch of cookies at home. Some I shipped off with the hubby when he left on Monday. Some I will take to work tomorrow for our department’s holiday party/monthly staff meeting. I am keeping just a few for myself.

Speaking of cookies, I need to get my behind in gear and start my holiday baking. I think I’ll make a few batches of the following cookies. I’ll bake half the dough and freeze the other half:

  • Chocolate chip
  • Peanut butter
  • Peanut butter blossoms
  • Loaded oatmeal

I might make another type or two. Not sure.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Cookie Monster

I’m invited to a cookie party this upcoming weekend at my friend Jen Knitty’s house. This is the second year that I will attend, and I am looking forward to the festivities. I’m not, however, looking forward to eating all those delicious cookies that I will be bringing home.

Alright. I’ll admit that is a lie.

I just ate waaaaaay too many of them last year.


I am at the point where I should know what I am baking, yet I am far from being sure what to make. There are so many options! I saw a recipe earlier today that sounds yummy. Then there are the ingredients I purchased at the store this afternoon while I was brainstorming. So, that’s another option. Then…just to add to the crazy mix…there are the various cookbooks sitting in my kitchen, my spare room, my living room, my bedroom, my work that are filled with a plethora of deliciousness. Whatever is a Betty Crocker/Suzy Homemaker type to do?

Did I mention that today was my last day off until the day of the cookie party? Urm, change that. Looking at the clock on my laptop, yesterday was my last day off until the party. Joy of joys.

This leaves me with three evenings to bake: Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Those who know me and my love affair with procrastination will tell you that I will be frantically baking on Saturday. The only problem with that is the hubby will be home. Guess I’ll have to bake at least one batch of peanut butter or chocolate chip cookies in order to keep him from eating the cookie party goods.

I do believe I am rambling.

Here are the current top choices:

Choice #1:
Pumpkin Cookies with Penuche Frosting

Though, I think they need cinnamon and ginger added to them. Hrm….

Choice #2:

Using this recipe as a base, but with the following changes

Base recipe: Double-Chocolate Dream Cookies

Turtle Dream Cookies: Adding in caramel chips, chocolate chips and chopped pecans

Rocky Road Dream Cookies: Adding in mini marshmallows, chocolate chips and chopped walnuts

Choice #3:

My uber-delicious Loaded Oatmeal Cookies - chock full of chocolate chips, raisins, walnuts, dried cranberries, dried cherries and/or whatever other goodies I decide to add.

Choice #4:

What I thought about making a month ago - homemade caramels or homemade peppermint marshmallows. Neither of these are cookies, though, and therefore go against the whole idea of a cookie exchange party.

Anyone have suggestions?

New Catalog for the New Year!

I was able to view the new Gold Canyon catalog, which will be available to order from starting January 1, and am so excited about the new scents and products that I wanted to share them with you!

Several items from the Holiday Reflections catalog are back by popular demand. The most notable is the Ten Encore Eau De Parfum, which had sold out within two months of the new catalog!

Aroma Gold is becoming even greener! Starting with the new catalog, Aroma Gold® will be Essentially Soy Aromatherapy. Made with a plant-based soy wax blend, and with fragrances developed exclusively for our new soy wax blend to achieve a stronger fragrance throw than any other soy candle, Essentially Soy Aromatherapy candles are sure to be a hit!

Since I joined Gold Canyon a few months ago, I’ve had several people ask me about a fresh cut grass or lawn scented candle. Described as “Fresh-cut grass captured with notes of rain-softened foliage, geraniums, lilies and light hints of fresh orange and rose”, Grass is just one of the new scents coming next month!

Here is a list of just some of the wonderful scents awaiting you with our new catalog:

Fresh and crisp with the perfect mix of sweet and tart. Experience a juicy apple with notes of fresh peach for extra sweetness.

A tempting Valentine treat that includes hints of sweet strawberry, fluffy marshmallow, red raspberry and creamy vanilla scents. (Specialty Candle)

So sweet and so delish! Sure to bring a ‘cherry’ disposition, this delectable aroma of freshly baked pie crust is filled with the succulent sweetness of ripe Bing cherries. (Baking Line)

Succulent scents of green apple, apricot and tomato link together with nurturing florals and a slight earthy musk.

A kid-favorite flavor and a groovy scent that takes you back! Fruity scents of grape, pineapple, apple, cherry and orange with a smooth hint of vanilla will keep your lips smacking. (Candles for Kids)

A unique combination of sweet floral and tangy citrus, this citronella candle will have your guests searching for your night-blooming jasmine plant. Burn throughout the evening to add extra pizzazz to your outdoor party. Contains citronella to help repel insects. (Specialty Candle)

Sweet and irresistibly delectable, the fruity blend of strawberry, peach and pineapple together with creamy vanilla creates the wonderful goodness of this springtime treat. (Specialty Candle)

St. Valentine’s fragrant potion year round—a striking harmony of sweet citrus, rose and violet blended with romantic hints of musk.

Vibrant, cheery scents of marigold flower, lily and hyacinth with an underlay of rose, garden greens and soft musks produce a lovely floral fragrance.

Like the fluffy marshmallow chicks that are the must-have Easter treat, this fragrance is creamy whips of fluffy marshmallow infused with delectable spun sugar, a splash of fruity orange and tangy lemon zest. (Specialty Candle)

This scent journey brings a sultry sensation with alluring hints of smooth sandalwood and amber. An appealing layer of creamy vanilla, sun-warmed woods and earthy patchouli create magical Morocco.

Lazy afternoons relaxing on a warm, tropical beach are the essence of this aroma, bursting with mango, tangerine and sweet floral musk.

A union of invigorating flavor …citrus, cinnamon and coconut perfectly accenting the rich vanilla cream found in the bottom notes. Always a customer favorite!

Only a passion for papaya and not the insects! This zesty tropical fruit concoction is filled with papaya, passion fruit and sun-warmed citron and completed with citronella petals, hibiscus, vanilla and precious woods. Contains citronella to help repel insects. (Specialty Candle)

With a little dab of sweet and tart this pink-inspired spritzer scent is vamped up with notes of pink lemonade, ruby red grapefruit, Italian lemon and a tart berry.

A razzle dazzle of a berry concoction with an assortment of fragrance explosions including red and black raspberry. (Candles for Kids)

Wild Peppermint Leaf A rejuvenating fusion of cool peppermint, wild mint and Japanese mint essential oils gives an instant boost in mood and mind. (Essentially Soy Aromatherapy)

A bushel of fresh florals, light fruits and sandalwood brings the gift of spring to life! (Specialty Candle)

A blend of sweet strawberries and just-ripe kiwi define this fragrance with fresh melon and tart cherry accents.

Filled with milky coconuts, ooey, gooey caramel and warm roasted almonds, this delicious dessert scent will make you go nuts! (Baking Line)

Want to be one of the first to showcase these wonderful scents? Contact me to schedule your January party!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving is upon us. On Facebook, a lot of my friends have been giving thanks (via their status updates). I’ve already had one Thanksgiving themed storytime this week, and will have another tomorrow. Everyone is talking about their plans for the holiday. It’s no surprise, then, that Thanksgiving is on my mind this week.

A short list of things for which I am thankful:

  • A loving and wonderful husband
  • An adorable puppyboy (even if he is a bit crazy)
  • Being employed in a career that I enjoy
  • My family
  • My friends
  • Books (what would my life be without books?)
  • Having a home
So tell me, what are you thankful for?

Friday, November 20, 2009


I subscribe to too many recipe type emails. Most of these emails are from companies like Betty Crocker and Pillsbury. You can imagine what kind of trouble that can cause. Yummy, delicious trouble, like the cake I made this past week. I’m drooling just thinking about it. I still have half of the cake left in my fridge, just waiting for the final toppings of cool whip (not sure why I bothered with lite cool whip) and toffee and chocolate crumbles.

The recipe will be pasted below, as well as the link for it. I’ll take some pics tonight when I add those final two ingredients…both before and after I dig in. When I do, I’ll add them to this post.

Better-Than-Almost-Anything Cake

The combination of rich ingredients produces a decadent, caramel-soaked cake that's sure to be a hit!

Prep Time: 10 min
Total Time: 3 hours 3 min
Makes: 15 servings

217 Ratings
56 Reviews

1 box Betty Crocker® SuperMoist® German chocolate cake mix
Water, vegetable oil and eggs called for on cake mix box
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1 jar (16 to 17 oz) caramel, butterscotch or fudge topping
1 container (8 oz) frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 bag (8 oz) toffee chips or bits

1. Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pan). Bake cake as directed on box for 13x9-inch pan.
2. Poke top of warm cake every 1/2 inch with handle of wooden spoon. Drizzle milk evenly over top of cake; let stand until milk has been absorbed into cake. Drizzle with caramel topping. Run knife around sides of pan to loosen cake. Cover and refrigerate about 2 hours or until chilled.
3. Spread whipped topping over top of cake. Sprinkle with toffee chips. Store covered in refrigerator.
High Altitude (3500-6500 ft): Follow High Altitude directions on cake mix box.

Make the Most of This Recipe With Tips From The Betty Crocker® Kitchens
The cake may stick to the wooden spoon handle while you’re using it to make the holes, so occasionally wipe off the handle.

Did You Know...
The caramel topping will be easier to drizzle if it has been kept at room temperature. If refrigerated, remove the lid and microwave on High about 15 seconds.

Special Touch
Instead of the toffee chips or bits, coarsely chop 5 bars (1.4 oz each) chocolate-covered English toffee candy, and sprinkle on top of the cake.

Nutrition Information:
1 Serving: Calories 510 (Calories from Fat 190); Total Fat 21g (Saturated Fat 9g, Trans Fat 0g); Cholesterol 60mg; Sodium 480mg; Total Carbohydrate 75g (Dietary Fiber 1g, Sugars 57g); Protein 6g Percent Daily Value*: Vitamin A 4%; Vitamin C 0%; Calcium 15%; Iron 4% Exchanges: 1 1/2 Starch; 3 1/2 Other Carbohydrate; 0 Vegetable; 4 Fat Carbohydrate Choices: 5
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

NOTE: I added some mini chocolate chips to the cake. Yum! I wonder how much better the cake would be if a dark chocolate cake mix was use. Hrm....

knitting photos! yay!

Here are a few photos of my current knitting project. Usually I say I don't like to commit to the outcome of my projects until they are finished. This time I am committing. It is a hat for a friend at work who is going through chemo treatments.

See the pretty eyelets? Note the red circle (it's a stich marker) that I borrowed off of my friend Jen (or Jen Knitty as she is named in my cell phone).

See the pretty eyelets?

This is what I get for laughing at the image of bunches of nekkid baby alpacas roaming the Andes Mountains. A very tangled skein of 100% Baby Alpaca yarn. :/

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Gold Who?

Since I’ve started selling Gold Canyon (about two and a half months ago), I’ve often been asked about the company. It seems a lot of people in my area haven’t heard of them! There are a lot of direct sales companies that sell candles and other accessories, but Gold Canyon has been slowly becoming more known in this part of the country. In fact, just last week I heard that there are only about 50 demonstrators in West Virginia and a few hundred in Pennsylvania (the company representative didn’t have the stats for Ohio on hand, not realizing that someone from that state would be at the meeting). That’s a relatively low number of demonstrators. No wonder it seems like no one here has heard of Gold Canyon.

If you would like to know more about the company, and how it was started, click here to learn more.

I will admit that, not too long ago, I was one of those people. I had never heard of the company until my friend Sharon signed up with them about a year ago. In fact, when I signed up to sell their products, I had never even sampled one! There was a great opportunity to sign up for only about $20, and Sharon needed one more recruit to make the next level, so I signed up. Once my first products arrived, I was hooked.

I have a confession to make.

I am a candle sniffer. Yes. One of those people you can catch in the stores sniffing all of the candles on the shelf.

Or, at least that was me. The candles on store shelves don’t hold a light to the quality of Gold Canyon’s products. There are so many different scents and items to choose from, Gold Canyon truly is a candle sniffer’s dream come true!

Now nearly every day after work, I come home and light a candle (or few). Right now I have three going. A delicious Oatmeal Raisin Cookie and a delightful Cinnamon Vanilla in the living room, and a mouthwatering Pomegranate in the upstairs bathroom. My house smells wonderful.

Knit one, purl two

I’m a knitter. Somewhat. I am often hesitant to refer to myself as a knitter or to tell people how long I’ve been knitting (since fall of 2004), because then it’s assumed that I know what I am doing. I don’t. Far from it. I can read patterns. I know some things about different fibers and weights. But I forget some semi-simple things, like how to make eyelets or decrease.

For instance, I am making a hat for a friend. It’s made out of 100 % baby alpaca (from Knitpicks.com). I often chuckle when thinking of this yarn, as warped me imagines little naked baby alpacas roaming the Andes Mountains. Anyhow… There is no pattern as I am just making it up as I go along. I made a similar hat last year, yet I had to ask my kitty friends how to make the eyelets (again). I’m sure they realize that soon I’ll be asking how to decrease…again.

I do love playing with yarn. While I’m fairly certain I will never make a sweater (or any other major article of clothing), I have fun attempting to knit new things and encouraging my friends in our yarn obsession.

Let’s get this party started…

I’m having a party on Saturday night. It’s for the Gold Canyon business, and I am calling it a Holiday Shopping Spree. I will be highlighting the holiday scents and decorations. I’m not sure how many people to expect, which makes providing refreshments a little tricky.

Plans for refreshments:

  • Assorted Appetizers (from Sam’s club)
  • Assorted cheese and crackers
  • Some type of baked goods – something Christmassy.
  • Assorted beverages – water, milk, teas, wine(?). I don’t drink pop, so I usually don’t buy it.

Even though the hubby and I are firm believers in no Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving, I’ve started putting up a few in the living room. A mini tree here. A snowman there. Nothing major, and more than likely all of the decorations I will do this year.

The next tricky part of hosting a party – at least for me – is getting the house in proper order! This is harder than usual, as last weekend I decided that the wall paper in our kitchen needed to come down. This means the kitchen is in semi-shambles. It won’t be painted until after this weekend’s shindig. I’m sure people will survive that little mess. Thankfully I am off on Saturday and will have time to get all the last minute details completed.

My to-do list:

  • Sam’s club trip
  • Clean upstairs bathroom
  • Mop hall
  • Vacuum rugs
  • Clear and set dining area table
  • Put away excess Gold Canyon boxes and supplies
  • Clear off computer tables
  • Laundry
  • Dishes
  • Put together free gifts for attendees
  • Check stock and catalogs
  • Take out cash from the bank
  • Breathe and relax

I’m sure there is something I’m missing.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A HodgePodge...

What is a hodgepodge? According to good old Merriam Webster, it's "a heterogeneous mixture; a jumble."

Why HodgePodge? The purpose of this blog is to be a place for me to share a mixture of thoughts, articles, recipes, crafts, etc., etc., etc.

I've a variety of interests. Some could say that I am a collector of hobbies. They would more than likely be correct. Over the years, I have tried my hand at many things - knitting, baking, cooking, writing, painting, scrapbooking...the list goes on and on. Many of these are things I still do from time to time.

I'm a librarian by trade, so do a lot of reading. It's an occupational hazard. If I hadn't fallen into this career, I would have probably ended up in some sort of culinary field. As it is, I have done some catering, and would love to do that again sometime.

I also sell for Gold Canyon. The company has a variety of candles and accessories, eco-friendly cleaning products, a line of skin care products and more. While every post will not be an advertisement for GC items, from time to time I will mention some of my favorite things.

So, welcome to my little hodgepodge corner where you will find a variety of topics. Feel free to comment or just say hi.