Wednesday, December 19, 2012

CaramelloRolo Turtles!

Here's a variation on yesterday's Minty Candies (still waiting for someone to come up with a name for those!).
This one is my all-time favorite! I don't know why I only make these around Christmas time ... nothing about them particularly screams "Holidays!". I'll make it a point to make some in February. And March.

You'll pretty much follow the same protocol as yesterday's project - heat the oven to 250°, line a baking sheet with foil or parchment, blah, blah, blah.

This time, however, instead of Kisses and M&Ms, you'll need Rolos and Pecan halves.
You *can* used Hershey's Caramel Kisses, but they don't melt nearly as nicely as the Rolos do.

Line 'em up on their pretzel like good little toy soldiers

 mmmmmmmm ... Rolos.

... and put 'em in the oven. Set your timer for 3 minutes, and bring 'em out when they're just getting melty and shiny.

Now place a lovely Pecan half right on top of each Rolo. Squish it down pretty good - you want a little caramel oozing out through the chocolate.

DANG, they're soooo good!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Sweet & Salty Minty Goodness

Ready for another quick & easy Holiday treat?
Let's make some of those Minty Things.
Sweet & Salty & Minty & Squishy & Crunchy - it's a great combination of textures and flavors!

I don't know if they have a name - I'm open for suggestions!

Here's what you need to get started.
"Waffle" pretzels
M&Ms - get the red & green Christmas ones.
Hesrhey's Kisses - I'm using the Peppermint ones here, but I also like the "Hugs".

That's it!

Preheat the oven to 250°.

Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper, and spread out the Waffle Pretzels in a single layer.

Here's the hardest part: Unwrapping all those Kisses!

Next you'll want to decapitate them. This makes it much easier to press the M&M down without making a mess ... although this step isn't truly necessary.
Pinch off the tip of each Kiss, using your fingers. I suppose you could use a knife if you like.
Save the tiny little tips and melt them into your hot chocolate. . . or make Chocolate Tip Cookies! Ah, who am I kidding - I know you're just going to nibble on them while you're unwrapping the kisses.

Center a Kiss on top of each pretzel ...

... and slide them into your warm oven.
OK, you only want to bake them until they're *just* getting squishy! The timing will vary, depending on your oven and the type of chocolate you're using.
I suggest you set the timer for 2 minutes and check them. . . I usually keep mine in for *just* under 3 minutes.

They'll start to slump and get shiny, like this:

Now quickly put an M&M on top of each one. Don't press them down too hard, or squishiness will ensue!

Place them in the fridge for 10 minutes or so to firm them up.
Mmmmm, minty goodness.

I really like these with the Brown-and-White Zebra-Striped Kisses as well!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Awww, Nuts

'Tis the Season for nuts!
Yesterday I made 8 pounds of Sugared Pecans.
These make great gifts for the holidays! Throw some in a cellophane bag and tie them up with curling ribbon. I give them to the UPS man, the lady at the Post Office, the Vet, the Hairdresser. Well, if I HAD a hairdresser, I'd give her some.

Let's do this!

Here's what we need to get started:
4 cups raw pecan halves
1 large egg white
1 teaspoon water
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 275°. Or 225°. Or 250°. 
Really, it's not that important. Point is, you want to roast 'em low and slow.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Drop the egg white into a large stainless steel bowl and whisk it till it's good and frothy.
Add the water, sugar, salt, & cinnamon and keep whisking until it's thick and merengue-y.
Add the pecans and toss them gently until they're covered in gooey goodness.

Dump the pecans onto your baking sheet and spread them into a single layer.
Bake 'em for about 45 minutes, gently stirring every 15 minutes or so, until the merengue is golden brown.

Let them sit awhile and cool down, then remove them from the baking pan using a metal spatula. Once they've cooled off, they'll crisp up deliciously....

Now make another batch, because once you try one ... or three ... or a handful, you may not want to give them away!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Heartful Purging

Today I purged my mailing list.
I had more than 7,000 names on my list. No business this small needs 7,000 names and addresses on file.

People that haven't ordered in over 5 years - you're outta here. I eliminated well over 1,000 names.  Ruthlessly, fearlessly, heartlessly.

No, wait. Not heartlessly.

Anonymous names, people who ordered once or twice back in 2005 - bye, see ya, no problem. If you order again, you'll be back in my computer.

But it pained my heart to eliminate many, many names.

Names that have been on file since the mid '90s.
Names that stood out in my mind because, I dunno, maybe they sounded like someone I went to high school with.
Names of long-time customers who ordered 40, 50, 60 times over the years.

Those hurt the most.

Why hasn't she placed an order with us for so long? Did she get tired of beading, and is now knitting or rubber stamping or scrap-booking? Did she find another source that she liked better? Did arthritis cripple her fingers, making it impossible to hold a beading needle?

Or - please - no - did she die?

I confess that I've left the names and addresses of a few of my customers who have passed away, be it last year, or 15 years ago. I keep their names on file. It makes me smile when I come across these gone-but-not-forgotten customers, kind of a bittersweet tribute to their memory.

Remember this: You mean something to someone, whether you know it or not.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Creepy / Cool

Big John gifted Mark with a 12" toy plastic skeleton.

Yes, my husband plays with dolls.  Creepy dolls.
A little grafting, some scraps of deerskin, a bunch of trinkets lying around the house, copious amounts of Epoxy, and more than a few bursts of expletives, and . . .
. . . the Dragon Warrior is born.

He carries a deerskin sheath for his sword
the canteen is about 1" in diameter
and his vintage crystal-encrusted, leather-wrapped shield is about 2.5" in diameter

even a skeleton dragon warrior needs a puppy!
Oooo's a good puppy-boy? Ooo is?  

Friday, December 30, 2011

Swarovski Crystal Pearl Sale

Happy New Year to You and Yours!

I'm re-doing my Swarovski Elements Crystal Pearls display and repackaging every last little pearl.

Hmmmmmmm. . .
The more I sell NOW, the fewer I'll have to repackage. I just hate undoing what has already been done! Soooo much easier to just start from scratch with a fresh new batch o' pearls!

Won't you help me?

So for just a couple of days, I'm taking 30% off all Swarovski Crystal Pearls

No minimum, aside from our standard $10 order minimum. You can do $10, easy-peasy! I know you can!

• Supplies are limited to stock on hand - no backorders! 
• This offer expires at midnight on January 1, 2012
     Wait . . . or is that midnight on January 2, 2012? 
     Ahhh, you know what I mean - you have until the end of January 1st.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Street Barbers and Dentists

We're still on the streets of Kashgar in Western China.
There's a whole block of dentist's offices

and barbers set up right on the sidewalk.