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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Holiday Treats

Golden Caramels
recipe from Martha Stewart
makes 150
4 cups heavy cream
1 cup sweetened condensed milk
4 cups light corn syrup
4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Vegetable-oil cooking spray
Spray an 11 3/4-by-16 1/2-inch baking pan (this is a half-sheet pan) with vegetable-oil spray. Set aside in a spot where it will not be moved. In a 2-quart saucepan, combine cream and sweetened condensed milk; set aside.
In a heavy 6- to 8-quart saucepan, combine corn syrup, 1 cup water, sugar, and salt. Clip on candy thermometer. Over high heat, cook until sugar is dissolved, stirring with a wooden spoon, 8 to 12 minutes. Brush down sides of pan with a pastry brush dipped in water to remove any sugar crystals.
Stop stirring, reduce heat to medium, and bring to a boil. Cook, without stirring, until temperature reaches 250 degrees (hard-ball stage), 45 to 60 minutes. Meanwhile, cook cream mixture over low heat until it is just warm. Do not boil. When sugar reaches 250 degrees. slowly stir in butter and warmed cream mixture, keeping mixture boiling at all times. Stirring constantly, cook over medium heat until thermometer reaches 244 degrees (firm-ball stage), 55 to 75 minutes. Stir in vanilla. Immediately pour into prepared pan without scraping pot. Let stand uncovered at room temperature for 24 hours without moving.
To cut, spray a large cutting board generously with vegetable-oil spray. Unmold caramel from pan onto sprayed surface. Cut into 1-by-1 1/4-inch pieces, or other shapes. Wrap each in cellophane or waxed paper.
Cherry Cheese Pinwheels
1/3 cup shortening
1/3 cup butter
2 cups of flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tbs. milk
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
1 3-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1/2 cup chopped maraschino cherries
1/4 cup finely chopped toasted almonds
In a mixing bowl beat the shortening and butter with an electric mixer on medium hight speed about 30 seconds or till softened. Add about half of the flour to the shortening mixture. Then add the 3/4 cup sugar, egg, milk, baking powder, vanilla, and salt. Beat till thoroughly combined, scraping sides of bowl. Then beat or stir in the remaining flour. Divide dough in half. Cover and chill about 3 hours or till dough is easy to handle.
Meanwhile, in small mixing bowl stir together the softened cream cheese, 1/4 cup sugar, and almond extract. Stir in the chopped cherries.
On a lightly floured surface, roll each half of the dough into a 10-inch square. With a pastry wheel or sharp knife, cut each square ito sixteen 2 1/2 inch squares. place 1/2 inch apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Use a knife to cut 1 inch slits from each corner to center. Drop a level teaspoon of the cream cheese mixture in each center. Fold every other tio into the center to form a pinwheel. Sprinkle chopped nuts in the center and press firmly to seal.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes or till edges are firm and cookies are slightly puffed. Cool on cookie sheets for 1 minute. Remove cookies and cool on wire racks. Makes about 32.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Humble Gingerbread House

Lowering my expectations when it comes to crafting with my kids has been a good lesson. And that is, it's the time spent that makes the difference in the end, not how grand the presentation!

Less is more and spectacular isn't always better.

Isn't our gingerbread house splendid?

Made by Thomas, Kate and Jack

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Feast '09

No thanksgiving would be complete with out fresh homemade rolls. Yummy!

Kate and Olivia stand to get their pictures taken with The Beauty of the Feast, the turkey. Yes that is bacon covering the top of this delicious hunk of meat. Thanks Traci for the recipe. It was winner!

My two nieces Izzy and Emma and their cousin Sabrina.

I put Ann in charge of bringing the dessert because she can really bring the goods. She makes an awesome apple pie!

The food was good the company even better.

This year instead of expressing what we were thankful for I decided to let everyone give a good gripe about something they weren't thankful for. It was very entertaining as we each took a turn or two getting a few things off our chests.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thankgiving Tablescape '09

It was my year to host Thanksgiving and the most important part (after the feast of course) is the tablescape. For me this is the most fun part of the festive day. It means I can go to flower mart and creatively come up with something wonderful and hopefully worthy of a magazine cover or at the very least to impress my guests. I'm not sure I did either but Lulu (one of my favorite sister-in-laws) and I had fun in the making.

We needed a table large enough to fit 1o adults and 2 almost adults, which I didn't have but thanks to my husband's tennis table purchase I had a surface worthy of our scape. I was able to make it work beautifully, expect that fact that the guest would have to maneuver their legs through the support bars that ran along either side- just a small in convince. Next I needed a table cloth large enough to fit my large table. I found these very modern shower curtains (real fabric, no plastic here people) at Target and wah lah instant table cloth.

Lulu and I got up early, around 7 am and headed to the flower mart. (Which is by the way one of my most favorite places following only shortly behind Anthropologie and Trader Joe's.) We unfortunately didn't get there early enough for that busy day because most of delicious flowers were gone. We still managed to pick out a few bunches as well as the lovely orange flowers found at Von's grocery store. FYI- Von's has a decent flower department. I love that they sell a bunch of 'just greens', which can be so helpful we making an actual arrangement. Come on Costco get it together.

I found this awesome manzanita branch which I knew would be perfect to hang my lanterns from. About 20 tacks was all it took to insure that puppy was staying put for dinner.

And there you have it my Thanksgiving Table Scape '09.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Fairy Gardens

I'm not one for garden art but when I saw these little landscapes I feel in love. I can't wait to make a miniture fairy estate with Kate and because it's green all year round I won't have to wait until spring.

Want to live here? Check out what plants Jon Millman used in his little garden.
It's feng shui in a bowl.

I also love this one made by K for themagiconions. The site gives a step by step guide to designing and making a scape like this with your kiddies.

Dawn from the-feather-nest made this simple garden.

At the sliver penny you can find sweet fairy cottages and markets.
Little felt cottages like this one found on Rounien's photostream inspire me to learn the art of felting.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Black Witch Project

Every year I tell myself I'm not going to buy or make one more Halloween decoration, but then every year I get the Martha Stewart Halloween edition and I just can't help myself.
This year I was finally going to make the witch that was on the cover of her Halloween edition that came out several years ago. I headed to the hardware store to get the materials; plywood, jigsaw (excited about finally being a jigsaw owner), black paint, conduit tubing and some thing-a-majigers to attach the conduit to the cut out witch.
As I was approaching my car with my new purchases it became very clear that my 8' x 4' heavy piece of MDF was not going to fit in my MDX. Not even close. I knew if I called Chris for help he would try and talk me into taking the thing back or making the witch smaller. Not going to do it. Besides he didn't have any means of helping me anyway. I called Jill. After all she has big 14 passenger van, but she didn't answer her phone. What was I to do?
I must have looked desperate and defeated because two nice guys driving a pick up truck who over heard me telling the home depot employee I just lived down the street and would I have to come back and pick it up later nicely offered to drive it to my house.
I told them I lived just down the street and I would really appreciate the lift for my-larger-than-my-car-would-fit piece of wood. They loaded her up and we were off.
On my way to my house I looked back into my rear view mirror to make sure they were following when it occurred to me that they could be burglars or worse yet serial killers! What was I thinking? I didn't have any creepy feeling but unfortunately you never know now days so to be on the safe side I had them unload the piece of wood up against my neighbors garage just in case they came back for me. Wrong house wrong girl; smart thinking. I payed them 10 bucks which they appreciated and they left on their way. As soon as they drove out of sight I awkwardly dragged the soon to be witch into my driveway.

Martha makes it easy. Just one click and your life size witches and cats print out onto about 30 pages. Cut and tape her together and your ready to trace her out onto your piece of wood. I have no pictures of me cutting her and her cats out but I did it all by myself in just a few hours! It was fairly easy, but I was amazed at the thick layer of saw dust the blanketed my driveway. I can sort of see why they suggest you attach the jigsaw to a vacuum.
Paint them black, attach the poles, lantern and broom stick and ta da-your very own yard art.

I cut the bats out of the stiff craft felt that comes in sheets. They are held on with duck tape. I got this idea from Country Living.

I loved the bats so much I created a bat cave inside my family room.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Watering Can Arrangment

I made an arrangement recently to be donated for a friends charity dinner party. I love making arrangements and they're easy to create if you follow a few simples rules.

Start with a bunch of.......

The happy flower.
They're great in arrangements because they add volume and come a variety of stunning colors.

Once banned by many florist, carnations are now considered modern and relevant thanks to Martha. They're also inexpensive and look luscious when several are grouped together.

and pepper berry.

This is a great foliage because it's drapey and the berries add a pop of color.

Pretty analogous color combination.

Choose a container. I choose this recycled watering can I picked up from Marshalls.

Start with the fuller flowers first to establish balance and proportion. You eye should move easily around the entire arrangement. Place flowers in directions to create this flow.

Then fill in with the other remaining flowers. I think it looks better if you flowers are grouped in 2's and 3's when adding them to the arrangement. Don't forget to rotate the arrangement often so it's balanced from all sides.

And wha lah, in less than 20 minutes you have a perfect fall arrangement.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Salon Cheap

My new cash budget has forced me to make a few cuts and lets face it, getting your hair cut and colored can be expensive so I'm back to the box. Although I love going to get my hair done, I've always had a hard time paying to get my hair colored because I know how much color costs. It cost me about 9 dollars to color my own hair. That's considerable savings! Forget the salon experience for now, I will give myself a head massage when I shampoo. I'd rather put the saving to better use like the sweater I've been eyeing at Anthropolgie.

I've colored my hair on and off for about 7 years. Here's what I've learned.

Don't be fooled by the model's hair color on the box. Note: You will not magically look like the gorgeous model on the cover of the box nor will you hair color always resemble the color. Also the descriptive adjectives such as "caramel" or "chocolate" can be misleading. Instead, follow the shade guide on the side of the box. I read that's it's suggested to pick up the box you are most attracted to, then put it back and grab the next lighter one and to stay within 2 shades lighter or darker than your natural color.The further you stray means more maintenance. I haven't always followed this advise partially due to my obsession with deep and rich colors.

There are many tones within the blond or brown spectrum and it can be hard to find the perfect combination. Not to long ago I colored my hair brown that had a burgundy undertone. It was a rich color but the red undertone was a little on the purple side. Not exactly what I was going for and probably not the right color for my skin tone. You learn quickly that while it takes a good level of self confidence to pull of a bad color you don't want to make that mistake again. You live and you learn. Finding what works for your skin color is the key. I am still learning but I found this clip to be helpful.

Watch CBS News Videos Online

You will need a wide-tooth come, which you can use to distribute dye and after-color conditioner evenly from root to tips; A tub of petroleum jelly or conditioner, to smooth along your hairline and on your ears to prevent dye from staining your skin. Be careful not to get it on the hair it self; Several towels designated for hair color only to be used as a drop cloth. Spills and spatters happen from time to time and you want to be prepared. FYI- Color doesn't come out of anything; Gloves to protect your hands from the dye; A kitchen timer to keep track of the minutes to avoid processing your hair too long and butterfly clips to use to section off your hair. I have also found that a bottle of porosity control is key to good coverage and even color whether your covering your whole hair or just just touching up your roots. I also color my own eyebrows to match my hair color. My favorite products are L'Oreal Hair Color and Clairol Hair Color.


Don't wash your hair for a day or two before coloring. The natural oils in your hair act as a barrier to the chemicals in the hair color. Your ends soak up more color because they're drier, so they tend to turn out darker or lighter than the top. To prevent this, apply dye to roots first, then to mid-length hair. Leave the formula in only as long as the directions indicate. I've read that letting it sit for longer won't improve coverage, and the color will come out dull and flat. Set the timer as soon as you start applying the dye, not when you finish. Another tip is to mist with water before coloring. This will keep ends from processing too long.

Good coverage around the hairline is important to get the natural look. I have never been able to get really good coverage without staining the skin around my hair line just a bit so don't color on a day you will going out. The especially applies when you dye your eyebrows.


You want to protect your investment and make it look good for as long as you can. I read that you should wait a full day until you wash, since it takes 24-hours for pigments to settle in to the hair shaft. I guess this means rise out the color but don't shampoo. I will try this next time to see if I makes a difference. And condition, condition, condition. I use a once a week deep conditioner every other day.

Now if I could just learn how to successfully give myself highlights.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

My New Credit Card

I've always had a reluctance to going "all cash", but I've known for awhile it's what I've needed to do. I've dreaded it actually. My mom was on an all cash diet growing up. I remember my dad gave her an x amount of cash on Monday and by Wednesday she was out. There were several occasions my mom left the grocery store still owing 10 or so dollars. She would hurry home from the grocery store scrounge up the money and return to pay the cashier the money due. The employees at Days Market knew my mom well and knew she would always return.
My mom never complained about her all cash diet but I did sense the stress as she would have to explain that whatever we wanted or needed that week would have to wait. Our financial situation at home was never desperate thank goodness but there were leaner years when we had to be frugal. My parents had 8 of us to feed, cloth and involve in extra-curricular activities. Provident living was just a way of life.
So whats my issue with all cash? Well growing up with my limited perspective of the situation it seemed to me that my dad giving my my mom a weekly amount of cash was controlling and demeaning. Not two words I would typically use to describe my dad. There was also some embarrassment I felt as my mom used cash to pay for things. At a young age it never occurred to me that using cash not only helped my mom stay within a budget but that I was learning valuable lessons in restraint and gratitude.
10 or so years had passed and I got married. Previous to that I had one credit card with limited expenses and financial responsibilities. All the major stuff in my life was payed for; housing, school and a car which meant that everything else was disposable. I payed for the things I wanted and the for the most part the needs got taken care of. It was no different when I got married. Sure I didn't get everything I wanted but I've never really felt deprived either. I also married Mr. Foulger (a.k.a. Mr. Frugal.) Being married to Mr. Frugal has over the years has brought certain challenges but it also has brought it's rewards. Mostly thanks to him we have never in 12 years owed more on our credit card than what we could pay. We have always moved forward financially which has been a blessing. But with each increase there was always a new set of expectation as too how much I could spend and the lifestyle I thought I deserved to have.
One thing I have always taken pride in myself is that I am a lover of all places where things are sold or given away. It doesn't matter if it's a garage sale or the Nordstom sale I love it all the same. And being the one in the family who does the majority of the spending the responsibility the how and where the money is spent is mine. It's a big responsibility and can be challenging. I don't think I took it seriously enough nor do I think I've gotten the credit I deserve for my efforts, but I do think it's me who can change that.
I've always admired my sister Traci for her frugality and honesty when it comes to money. She told me one time that being in control of your money is about making choices. What does that mean making choices? My philosophy was I need therefore I get. Relatively speaking anyway.
I have always used a credit card. It was supposed to me keep track of my spending while racking up delta miles. Problem is I never looked at the statement at the end of the month. Chris would say something like this "did you look at the credit card this month?" I would respond by saying "Umm ya. I know it was high this month but there was ________(whatever the excuse) that made the amount so high. There was always justifcation. How did that happen? Unconsciously that's how. I was spending unconsciously. Unconscious spending happens when you have no accountability, no bottom line, no reconciling of the money spent. It's not about spending money just because you have it it's about being responsible with the money you have to spend. One of Mr. Frugal's favorite sayings is "just because you have it doesn't mean you should spend it."
For the most part I really didn't think I spent a lot of money and ironically I felt like I didn't have a lot either but the credit card statement proved the contrary. When I spent unconsciously the choice of how I should spend my money was taken away from me. My feelings of being powerless and being controlled was of my own doing and not the doing of anyone else.
Restraint and wanting less is, I think, a good thing. It's having power and control subjected by no one else but you.
I have high expectations for my all cash diet.

Here I go.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Boston 09

I love Boston and with each return since we left over 7 years ago I love it even more. I grew up in the west and that is where my heart's loyalty lies but admitly my heart has had a long time love affair with the Northeast. I think it started with my first trip to Philadelphia when I was 15. This is when I first realized that Utah really was a desert. The trees went on forever! My love deepened with visits to Washington DC, Maryland, Virginia, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire and of course New York. Which is the city I secretly wished Chris would have landed a job just out of Grad School. But of all these great places I love Boston the most. It might be because there is this sophisticated snobbery energy in the air. Or that it's full of good food and quaint little shops ready to explore. Or that it's full of diverse people and places. All are true, but the thing I love the most is it's beauty. It's interesting and wonderful like a worn piece of furniture that just gets better with age.

The best way to explore the city with kids is by bus and trolley.

While waiting for the trolley, Thomas and Kate had a contest to see who could hold onto the bus spot pole the longest. Kate won.

When we lived in Boston I rode the T (the subway) everyday to work. I think this was Jack's favorite part of the day.

You can't explore the city without walking a bit. Here's Thomas and Chris walking speedily through Boston Commons in search of a restroom.

We stopped in Boston's Little Italy for a classic peperoni pizza.

Jack loves to pull this look.

Thomas age 8, 2009 and Thomas age 1, 2002. Same Duck.

Thanks to my kids and their love to take pictures with my camera I occasionaly get in a picture.

Our view (well almost) from our old apartment.

The most excitng part of the day for Kate was when she found her perfect suvinor even though it says nothing about Boston. It was a frightingly real looking kitty cat.

I love all the old architecture. It's the closest America gets to the look of Europe.

When we lived in Boston they were working on the Big Dig project which was to put a stretch of the freeway underground. They finished and what used to be a freeway is now a garden walkway.