Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Peanut Butter Crackles Using Dove Chocolate

A while back I blogged  a Peanut Butter Crackles recipe.  This year I decided to try something different.  So I used Dove chocolates instead of Hershey's Kisses.  They were a huge hit (especially the white chocolate)!

Peanut Butter Fudge

My favorite flavor of fudge, and the only one that I personally make - peanut butter fudge!  I know that there are many different recipes and ways to make fudge but this one was passed on to me by a dear friend and it is the best homemade fudge recipe I have tried so far.

Ingredients for 1 - 9x13" pan:

1-1/3 cup milk
4 cups sugar
1 (7oz) jar of Marshmallow Creme
2 cups peanut butter (20 oz)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Ingredients for 2 - 9x13" pans:

2-2/3 cups milk
8 cups sugar
1 (13 oz) jar Marshmallow Creme
4 cups peanut butter (40 oz)
2 teaspoons vanilla


Over medium heat, bring milk, sugar, and vanilla to 234 degrees (candy thermometer).  This will boil high so use a large pan.  Stir often.

Remove from heat.  Add marshmallow creme and peanut butter.  Stir until well mixed.  Pour into pans.

As you can see, I used multiple small containers so it was easy to gift.  With the larger batch, I was able to make these and a 9X13" pan to cut up.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Gifts to Welcome Santa

I have a few little ones in my extended family that are at the age where the anticipation of Santa Claus is going to be really exciting this year!  I came up with a little gift to help each of the families "welcome Santa".

My "inspiration" (the cups and plates) and all the items were purchased at Target for just $1 each.

Each "gift" includes a book "The Night Before Christmas", a mug, a plate, hot chocolate, and a package of cookie dough truffles.  Each item was $1 so the total package only cost $5 to make.  Well, I did use some cellophane and ribbon that I already had in stock.  I hope these items help the little ones prepare for a great visit and a start to a wonderful Christmas celebration!

Paying It Forward: Introduction & Care Packages

I LOVE the movie "Pay it Forward"!  It's such a great idea that if you do something good for someone, without expecting anything in return, that they some day will do the same for another.  That will start a chain reaction of kindness!  I often look for ways that I can pay it forward.  And I strongly encourage my kids to do the same. 

Not everything needs to cost money.  It can be as simple as giving credit where it is due.  I have many times sought out a manager at a retail store or restaurant to let them know what a great job their employee is doing.  It doesn't cost me anything but a little extra time to do this and it makes a huge difference!  I often chuckle at the dread on the managers face as they walk toward me to figure out why I requested to speak to them.  Oh - the joy when they realize it is for a great reason!

I also remember a time that I was waiting to pay a bridge toll only to find out that the car in front of me had already taken care of my charges!  I have no idea who they were or why they did this good deed.  I had the money to pay so that wasn't the issue...  What I do know is that little gesture of $3.25 made my day!  Every time I am in line waiting to pay a toll I remember that moment, so many years ago, and look to figure out ways I can pay it forward.  

During our past vacation my children were introduced to the fact that there are homeless people.  There are some in the city that we live in but my children are rarely exposed to them.  It really broke my daughters heart to see all the people that live on the streets without shelter or food.  So, to help her (and my son) realize how we can help, we put together these care packages to give to those that need it.  They cost me about $15 each but they will hopefully brighten someones day!  

There are many other things that I could have added (like warm socks, shoes, more food, ....) but I also have to stay in the reality of my budget.  I just know that if I were homeless I would love to get one of these packets!!  Hopefully some day the recipients of these care packages will pay it forward!

School Birthday Treat to Pass

I'm always looking for something different or unique for my kids to take to school for their birthday.  Schools are pushing for healthier options and (at least for my child's school) are no longer allowing home prepared food items.  I have been finding "a treat to pass" to be a challenge.   So, this year my daughter took these to school for all of her friends.  She has an October birthday so they were a great fit for the cooler weather!  

My inspiration was the $1 travel mugs I found at a dollar store.  They have an insert where the child can draw their own design or color in one that is drawn for them.  A perfect representation of what my daughter loves - ART!

I typed up a little note to include in the the mug that thanks the children for celebrating her birthday with her.  

Inside the mug I included a packet of hot chocolate (to be made at home), a packet of Sixlets, and an individually wrapped sour patch kid.  These are all favorites of my daughters.

As you can see - it all fit nicely!

In the end, I didn't pay much more money than ordering cupcakes from a local bakery.  Now the kids will have something to keep and get creative with.  It was a big hit with all her friends and the teacher!

Rock Polishing/Shinning - The Easy Way

My family travels to Lake Superior just about every summer.  This lake is full of some the most beautiful rocks I have ever seen!  So we can't resist but to bring home a small collection to remind us of our trip.  Well, these rocks look beautiful in the water but not so much when they are dry.  So, I purchased a rock polishing kit in hopes that it would bring the beauty back into our collection.  Although it did soften the edges, it did not provide the shine I was hoping for.  Plus - the polishing process took a couple of weeks!!!!  Then I came across the idea to spray the clean rocks with a clear acrylic gloss coating!

This has become a new favorite in my craft closet!
I simply sprayed the clean, dry rocks with the gloss coating.  After they dried (took only minutes) I flipped them over to spray the other side.  It doesn't take long at all before you have rocks that are just as pretty as they are in water!

Packing Kids Clothing for Vacation

This is just a short post on a travel tip with kids.  I always pack my kids clothing by figuring out outfits. But, then it all gets squeezed into the luggage and by the time we get to our destination I have to sort it all again!!  

Now, after I have figured out the outfits for vacation, I put them all in gallon size zip lock bags by day.  With these bags I can now just grab one each day and they are all set to get dressed.  I even pack the pajama's and extra clothing in bags.  

Some other things you can do with these:

Write the day on each bag if you know that you will need the outfit for a specific event (like a Disney shirt for a trip to Disney).

These make it a lot easier if you are traveling from one location to another.  Instead of unpacking everything you just grab a bag for each day out of the luggage.