Friday, May 28, 2010

Vanilla Crack-Foodie Friday

     I really wish I could take credit for this recipe, but I can't. Not only does it taste absolutely yummy (my son thought it was peanut brittle), it is very easy to make and the name makes me laugh. I actually found this recipe in the book Apple Turnover Murder by Joanne Fluke. I've read all of Ms. Fluke's Hannah Swensen murder novels. They are a light, easy read and the main character owns a bakery. Each book is full of delicious recipes woven into the storyline. If you like to read books that aren't too deep yet have a great mystery and also are full of wonderful recipes, check out her website and find a few of her books to read.
Saltine Crackers (about half a box)
2 sticks salted butter
1 cup white sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup salted nuts (I used a full cup of mixed nuts, but you could use peanuts or even leave the nuts off and this would still be good)

     Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 10 x 15 jelly roll pan with foil and spray heavily with Pam.

     Cover the pan completely with a single layer of Saltines, salt side up. Break crackers to fill in the spaces. Set aside. Combine butter, sugar and vanilla in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a full boil over medium high heat, stirring constantly. Boil for exactly 5 minutes stirring the entire time. Pour over the crackers (I spread the caramel out a bit to almost cover all the crackers) and sprinkle with the nuts. Bake for 10 minutes, remove from oven and cool completely in pan on wire rack if possible.

When cool, carefully peel off the foil and break into pieces.
Store in airtight container.

     I am linking to Foodie Friday @ Designs by Gollum. Our hostess Michael will link you with some of the best recipes in all of Blogland.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Wishing For the Beach...Tablescape Thursday

     When things get stressful for me, I find myself wishing for the beach. While there is a trip to the water in my near future, I decided to create the feeling with my table setting this week.

     My table was inspired by my new appetizer plates that my daughter (didn't she do a wonderful guest blog) gave me for Mother's Day.

     I started with a cream tablecloth, topped with bright green round placemats. This table is all about color. Cream napkins and new Crate and Barrel seaglass napkin rings finished the "base" for the table setting.

     The wine glasses are vintage and the coffee mugs match the dinner plates. Each has a different shell. The flatware has a pewter look, but was really a bargain from either TJMaxx or HomeGoods a few months ago. Do you see the little glass fish? They are also a new Crate and Barrel purchase.

     My daughter found the appetizer plates at Target, aren't they fun? The little fish votives I've had for many years.

The salad plates are actually plastic, from WalMart.

The china is Captiva purchased a few years ago at Bed, Bath and Beyond.

For the centerpiece, I started with a piece of driftwood from a Florida beach.

     I added some seaglass pebbles (Crate and Barrel), a few shells that we've found over the years, a large coral piece and my glittered starfish for a little sparkle.

     The flowers are tropicals, aren't they gorgeous? We had my mother's casket piece done all in tropical flowers and I have to say it was the most beautiful one I've ever seen. These are NOT from that piece. My aunt and uncle actually sent an arrangement that the florist decided to match to the other piece. My sister and I split the flowers and what you are seeing is the result of me putting them in a large vase that I've had many years.

And, by candlelight...

     It is good to be back to blogging. I may be a bit slow catching up with all of you. My dad is staying with me for another 2 or 3 weeks. I will go back to Florida with him for a while when he leaves, my sister will go down when I come home. We are doing okay. We are sad and still a bit in shock as to what has happened over the past 3 months. We are also still able to laugh and enjoy things because she prepared us well for this time. Her services were just this past Monday and Tuesday, so we are still in "let down" mode after getting through those two days. I will post soon about how we spent the week between mom's passing and her service. You may be surprised.

     Please join our hostess Susan @ Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday. You will see wonder table settings. If you haven't tried it before, you really should jump in and play along with us.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Little Bit Of Music For You

     Sometimes I'm lucky enough to be asked to review music CD's. I was recently asked to listen to and review the current CD by One eskimO. Now I must admit, I try to keep current on musical artists...but, I had never heard of this band before receiving the album. I find the best way for me to really review an album, is to simply put it on and listen. If I feel as if I want to turn it off or it hurts my ears...that isn't a good thing. If I find myself moving to the beat, I am very pleasantly surprised.

     One eskimO are a four piece indie rock group from London, England. Kristian Leontiou sings lead vocals with Adam Falkner (drums), Pete Rinaldi (guitar), and Jamie Sefton (bass and horns). Leontiou actually had a top ten hit in the UK in 2004, but left the pop music scene to create One eskimO which is more in the "indie rock" genre of music. The song "Kandi" on the album was recently the #1 adult alternative song as well as the most played song on adult rock radio stations.

     So, how did I like the CD? Truthfully, when it first started...I wasn't sure what to think. The first song starts with a speaking voice that sounded like a voiceover from a 60's televsion show. My first thought was, "how am I going to listen to this entire album"? The song began and I liked it, they sounded a bit like Snow Patrol to me and I love Snow Patrol. When Kandi came on (song #3) I caught myself dancing to the music while I was making dinner. There were several songs that I really enjoyed, some were not as memorable, but overall this is a very pleasant album. I won't say it is one of my favorite all time CD's, but I will continue to play it. It is one of those albums I would play when I wanted catchy background music (singer/songwriter style). I think we will be hearing much more from One eskimO. See what you think!

I do have lots to tell you about and I appreciate all of the support and prayers after the loss of my mom. I'm ready to "get back to it" and I hope to visit each of you very soon to catch up with what you have been doing.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Someone's Daughter...Guest Blogging

Someone’s Mom is taking some time off, so this post is being brought to you by Someone’s Daughter. Don’t worry, Mom will be back very soon! She wants you to know she’s a little tired and overwhelmed, but she’s doing okay. She does want to thank everyone for all of their prayers, kind words, and support.

So today, I’ve decided to talk about the one thing I know the most about: Walt Disney World! I’m going to share with you some of my insider tips that I have learned along the way that will help you whenever you come to visit “The Happiest Place On Earth.”

1. Do your homework!
This is by far the most important tip I can give you. Most families can easily spend a few thousand dollars on a trip to Disney World; you would not spend three or four thousand dollars on a new car or TV without researching it first, so why would you spend that much on a vacation without learning all that you can? Get a guidebook; I recommend the unofficial guides because they have all the good details. Read up on the attractions, restaurants, hotels, and anything else you might need to know. Once you have done this, you will be two steps ahead of the game when you get there.
2. If staying on property, buy a refillable resort mug!
My family has done this for years. When you stay on Disney property you can purchase this souvenir mug in the food court at your hotel. The mug is about 14 dollars with tax, and it entitles you to completely unlimited refills on any of the basic beverages: soda, tea, coffee, lemonade, or hot chocolate. When I say unlimited, I mean unlimited. If you have a family who drinks a lot of soda, or if you are planning on staying for several days, this mug will pay for itself very quickly. The only drinks not included are alcohol and milk. If you are not staying on property, you can still get a refillable mug at Animal Kingdom or one of the water parks. The only catches to any of these mugs including the resort mugs is that they can only be used at the place of purchase. So the resort mugs can only be refilled at the resort, the water park mugs can only be refilled at the water parks, etc.
3. If you are at the Magic Kingdom, make sure you have a Pineapple Float!
I first experienced the Pineapple Float (otherwise known as a dole whip) a few years ago. This has to be one of the most refreshing, delicious, good deal for the money, snacks in all of the parks. A pineapple float consists of pineapple soft serve (made with Dole pineapple juice) and straight pineapple juice. The lines can get pretty long during the summer, so plan accordingly to get one during a parade or fireworks.

4. To see if small children will be frightened of characters before meeting them face- to-face, catch a parade.
This is a great way to see how your kids will respond to the larger than life characters that can sometime intimidate small children. I know several early pictures of my brother and I included me running back towards the camera crying! Parades give everyone a chance to see the characters from a safe distance away, if they respond well to seeing them from that distance, they will more than likely be okay in a one-on-one meeting.
5. Take a mid-day nap/swim/respite.
Now I know what you’re all saying, “We paid all this money to be here, and we have to get our money’s worth!” This is a good point, however I can assure you that no matter how much stamina you have, taking a mid afternoon rest will make everyone happier. This is especially true if you have young children or if you are middle-aged and “hot”.

6. Bring a big plastic Ziploc bag.
If you have ever been to Florida in the summer, you know that it can rain, and rain a lot in a short period of time. What will you do with your camera or cell phone if you get caught in the rain without a poncho? Or if you’re on Kali River Rapids and you suddenly realize that your raft is headed straight for that giant waterfall? This is where the Ziploc bag comes in. Simply put your camera, phone, or anything else that can’t get wet inside the bag, and you are all set! If you forget your Ziploc, simply run into the first gift shop you see and ask for a merchandise bag to store your things in.

7. Make sure you are drinking enough water!
I know this sounds like common sense, but in the rush of riding all the attractions, seeing the parades, and just “doing Disney” it is very easy to not drink enough water or PowerAde. This is especially important as we hit the hot summer months. You can bring water bottles from home or your hotel into the parks and then you can fill them up at the water fountains. Also, all quick service restaurants will give you free cups of water if you just ask for them. Please do not ruin your whole day by getting heat stroke!!

8. Each park has a First Aid Center and a Baby Care Center
These are little known resources available in each of the four main theme parks. First Aid not only has basic over-the-counter medicines such as Ibuprofen and aspirin available, but they also have registered nurses who are there during park hours. If you should become ill during you day, just stop in and they can assist you. Baby Care is also open during park hours. Baby Care has a room for nursing mothers, quiet restrooms, baby changing areas, a small play room, and baby items available for sale. If you run out of formula or diapers or food, this is the place to go!!
9. Use your Fastpasses wisely!
Fastpasses are one of the best creations ever to come from the Disney Idea Box. These Fastpasses allow you to get a pass to return to some of the most popular attractions at a later time in the day with little to no wait to get on the ride. All you need to do is go to the fast pass distribution machines at the attraction of your choice, place your tickets into the machine, then get the ticket that will have a return time on it (for example 2:05 to 3:05). Simply return to the attraction during this time frame and you can bypass most of the line. Now here is where it gets tricky! Once you get a fast pass, you cannot get another for two hours or until the time on your fast pass. So make sure you get them for the ride you really want to go on. Also, please don’t feel like you have to run across the entire park to make it there within the hour time slot. It is a little known fact that you can use your pass any time after the first time on your Fastpass; even if it is past the hour slot listed. I promise this works, I have done it myself.
10. Take time to smell the roses…literally.
Walt Disney World has some of the most beautiful gardens and landscaping you will ever find. Horticulture teams work round the clock to keep the grounds looking perfect. On property you will find rose gardens, topiaries, and flowers of all sorts. This is especially true at Epcot. As you walk around World Showcase, make sure you take the time to notice the native plants from each country. You will not be disappointed!

So there you have it! My top ten helpful tips for anyone planning a trip to Disney World in the near future! Most importantly remember to have fun!! Maybe I will see you all soon!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Rest In Peace

     My mom passed away early this morning. I am very sad, but I also know that my mom is now in a better place, where there is no pain and she can walk and speak again. Just moments before she had the massive stroke in April, she said to me, "I want you to know that I've had a very good life"! Those were almost her last words to me. She gave me a gift, one I could share with my dad, my sister and her 6 grandchildren who love her so much. We were truly blessed to have this wonderful woman at the heart of our family. We will miss her forever, but we will carry on because it is what she would want for all of us. Thank you for all of the prayers, comments, emails and kind words over the past few weeks. I am truly blessed to have found such a community of wonderful people.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Spring Is In The Air-Tablescape Thursday

     It is another Thursday in the Land of Blog which means it is time to get out some dishes and have some fun. This week I really wanted to set a table that would be cheerful and happy. I hope you think that I accomplished that.

As elegant as a formal table setting is, I really
have much more fun setting a whimsical table.

     I started with a baby blue tablecloth from Macy's. The napkins and soup bowls I've had for many years. The large charger/dinner plates are from HomeGoods and I've used them in several tablescapes. The polka dot plates and flatware are both recent HomeGoods purchases. They had them in several colors.

How cute is this?

And this?

The vase is one of two given to my parents for a wedding
gift, almost 64 years ago. My sister has the other one.

I added a shabby wooden bird (Hobby Lobby-it was brown).

A simple porcelain rose.

Goblets (TJMaxx) with a hint of blue and green finish the look.

After lighting a few spring green votives, the table took on a glow.

Please join our hostess Susan @ Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday.
You will never be disappointed if you follow the links to all of the beautiful table settings.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Worth It! The Perfect Cup

     I realized it had been a while since I'd done a "Worth It" post. We all have those things we love that we would replace immediately if something happened to them. Today I will share another one of my "must haves" with you. Several years ago I discovered a store in mall somewhere called Teavana. They are the Starbucks of tea. They sold it in leaf form, they had beautiful pots and you could order a freshly made perfect cup of tea to take with you. Don't get me wrong, I love my coffee...but, I also love a perfect cup of tea. As I watched them make the tea, I noticed how they were making several cups at a time using an interesting gadget for each cup. Needless to say, I went home with the Teavana Perfect Tea Maker ($17.99).  

This is actually my second one. I use it every day, so I eventually wore the first one out.

     I love Oolong tea. Teavana has great teas, but I usually buy mine at a funky little shop in Nashville. Davis Cookware and Cutlery Shop is an old, family run business and they know their tea. The prices are good and they just bag it up for you. The first time I purchased it there and went home with my two Ziploc bags full...I felt as if I might get arrested for carrying around pot. It really is tea and it is delicious. They don't have a website, but they will ship if you call them (615-298-4728). I only hope they were not damaged by the recent floods. 

You simply use a heaping teaspoon of tea leaves per cup.

     I use very hot water (just below the boiling point) from our dispenser. It is another one of my "must haves" as the water where we live just doesn't taste very good!

This is the tea when the water is first put in the cup.

This is the tea after 3 minutes...the perfect cup!

You simply sit the Teavana cup onto a large mug and
the tea drains into the cup, the leaves stay behind.

This is what is left, and you can make a second cup of tea using the same leaves.

Care to join me for that perfect cup of tea?

I am linking with Lady Katherine @ Lady Katherine Tea Parlor
for Tea Time Tuesday. Please stop by to visit her!