Dec 142011
 

I’m a bit of a dessert fiend. OK, y’all already knew that. You may also already know that dessert minus chocolate equals no thanks, in most cases, for me.

There is an exception, though, and that exception exists because of caramel. I love it, and to quote a dear friend after he tasted the homemade caramel that I served with my baked apples, “Just go ahead and pour that in my mouth.”

And so, while blondies are not usually my thing because, “Why would you make a blondie when brown-ies are blondies with chocolate?” Caramel Apple Blondies are a new favorite around here.

To make them, peel and thinly slice two average sized apples. With the apples, add a 3/4 cup of sugar, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1 teaspoon of nutmeg and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Stir the mixture before folding in a 1/2 cup of melted butter.

In another bowl, combine 1 and 1/2 cups of flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder. Whisk the dry ingredients together before adding 1 egg and whisking until crumbly.

Combine the two bowls and spread the mixture evenly in a greased pan (double the recipe for a full 9/13 pan).

Bake 35-40 minutes in a 350 degree oven, until golden brown.

The result is an apple blondie, which is not the pinnacle of what we are after.

And so, let’s make a little caramel for the top.

Now, in case you’ve never made caramel before, there are a couple of simple things to remember:

1. You only need three ingredients, but you must have those ingredients ready before you begin.

2. When sugar gets hot enough to melt…it’s hot.


Dump a full cup of sugar in a pot, and have 6 tablespoons of butter and a half cup of cream on hand. Turn the burner on high heat (8 out of 10 should do it), and then whisk away until the sugar begins to melt.

Once the sugar submits and begins to break down, remove the whisk, raise the pot slightly above the burner and swirl the mixture to gently finish the melting process.

When fully melted, add the butter and reinstate your whisk!

When the butter has melted and become fully incorporated in the sugar, remove the pot from the heat, place it on a cold burner…
count to five…
And slowly whisk in the cream.

The result will be a creamy, glossy caramel. And once it cools a bit, I know what you can use it for.

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 December 14, 2011  Foody Friday Comments Off
Dec 132011
 

Papa Bear’s gonna hate this title. Somehow, though, Marine Style just didn’t capture my meaning. Cause on Saturday, we shopped for an army.

At Sam’s.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

On our way in, Papa Bear and Bossman argued over whether we would need a cart or a flatbed. They decided on a flatbed so that they could push each other around the store. Bossman and I were both convinced that one would be enough for our before decided budget to fill. Papa Bear had more faith. And he was right, we filled two flatbeds, one and a half carts…and a partridge in a pear tree.

God bless America.

As much fun as we had, I’ve decided that bulk shopping might not be for me. I came home with a lot, but not much variety. I spent my entire grocery budget for the month and didn’t make it home with the more specialty foods that make cooking my favorite past time.

You already know how I like to shop. It’s the best idea I’ve ever had, bar none.

How do you like to shop? Bulk, monthly, weekly, daily? Share your best tips and secrets in the comments!

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 December 13, 2011  Photo Posts Comments Off
Dec 092011
 

This afternoon, I sat on Baby Bear’s bed sewing ripped sheets and organizing a clean-up. Cuddle Bug was on a top bunk, spreading the sheet. She looked down at me and sighed deeply. “Mama, I have something to tell you, and I should have told you years ago.”

She’s six.

“Yes,” I laughed.

“Well, us kids like jumping off of the top bunk, and we’re never going to be able to stop.”

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A few nights ago, I sat with my laptop and a restless Baby Bear, waiting for him to fall asleep. He looked up at me and whined worriedly, “Ma…

He calls me Ma and I call him Bay.

“Ma, I don’t have a plan!”

“A what?”

“A plan! I don’t even have a plan!”

“Oh,” I giggled.

Cause he’s two.

“Jesus has a plan,” I assured him.

“Oh!” he said, as if to say, “Duh!” And he drifted off to sleep.

Happy Friday, all! May your weekend be funny…and don’t worry about the plan!

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 December 9, 2011  Things Kids Say Comments Off
Dec 082011
 

Two months ago, a little more, I moved away from my home and traveled to the other side of the mountain. It’s not far, actually…less than forty minutes. But when you’ve been used to walking to church, the park, Bible study, coffee, and to borrow eggs from across the street, even a five minute drive would be an adjustment. And, it’s winter (whine, grumble, mutter, mumble). There are socks to find, gloves to dry, snow suits to don…Getting out is a much bigger deal in the wintertime.

All that to say…I’ve been a little lonely (not that five children and two grown men don’t provide me with constant entertainment…because they do). But no one wants to watch Sense and Sensibility with me!

For the first time in probably my entire life, I truly let people in this past year. I know, I come across as all vulnerable and open, but that’s what blogging has been (for me). My readers have known me better than my real life acquaintances (most of whom don’t even know that I blog, or didn’t know until this past year). This year, out of the blessing of outright necessity, I made my acquaintances my friends (and many are now more like family – you know who you are). I let myself need them, cry on them…I even let them watch my kids from time-to-time.

I’m generous like that.

Of course, I feel silly even feeling lonely today…last year, I was lonely because my husband left and this year I’m lonely because he came back and life is, once again, a little sheltered and secluded for me. Saying that short blather of ridiculousness – out loud- this week helped me, though. Because husband or not, close (distance wise) friends or not, this loneliness thing is just not for me. It’s for pioneer women, actually, and I’ve decided not to feel this way anymore.

Y’all know we can do that, right….decide how we’re gonna feel? 

A few nights ago, I texted with a sweet friend who is struggling with some serious life issues. We typed and laughed LOLd (but not really out-loud) while I was lying quietly in my bed and the rest of my family was sleeping…the best time in the world for girl time. 

I only know that Cuddle Bug lost her right front tooth on the same day as her out of state bestie because of a picture message we got on my phone…but that one text made the three-hundred miles disappear…just like that!

Maybe this will make those miles disappear for all of you.

Some days, I spend hours on the phone with Ellyn. Sometime we laugh, sometimes we cry, sometimes I bow to her sarcastic prowress. Then there are the times when I just feel like shooting a late night text like, for instance, “If you’re awake, you have to watch Bridezillas with me!” It’s funny to think that we’re planning to meet (for the first time) sometime this summer.

Miles do not determine my friendships or my loneliness (or my lack thereof). 

As women, especially stay at home moms and housewives waiting to be mothers, Satan’s master trick seems to be loneliness. I succumb to it less than most simply because my natural tendency is hermithood introversion. But, even for people like me, the loneliness bug has bitten. And it can do so much damage for such an ugly, irrational little bug.

For mothers of young children, I truly believe that our lives epitomize a living sacrifice in this time. These are the years Jesus uses to make us those wise, older (gasp) women that He needs us to be. It’s never about us. It’s always about Him (whether we’re on board with that or not). But right now, Jesus and maybe quite a few others come ahead of us. And it’s hard.

But as much as this is the hard part, it is also the rich part. It doesn’t have to be the lonely part. Cause we’re not pioneer women…

We have cell phones.

And blogs.

Reach out, ladies. Reach out.

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 December 8, 2011  Mommyhood Comments Off
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