Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Recipe of the Week...Microwave Caramel Corn

Just in time for New Year's party snacking, this week's recipe originated from my sweet mom-in-law...she shared it with me shortly after Mike and I got married back in 1987. It's a great, fast snack to whip up when you need something that's crunchy, salty and sweet all at the same time! You could also make quick gifts from it as well by packaging up little bags of this yummy goodness and tying them closed with a cute ribbon and tag! (Something to keep in mind for quick gifts next Christmas!!!)

Microwave Caramel Corn

  • 1/3 cup butter or margarine
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup light or dark corn syrup
  • 1 bag microwave popcorn, popped
In a large, shallow glass dish microwave butter/margarine on high until melted. Stir in brown sugar and corn syrup. Microwave on high until mixture boils, (about 3 minutes). Remove from microwave, stir, and return to microwave for an additional 3 - 4 minutes without stirring. Remove from microwave and stir in baking soda and vanilla. Stir in popped corn, mixing well to coat. Microwave at 60% power for about 5 minutes, stirring every 1.5 minutes to coat evenly. Cool completely, break apart and store in a tightly covered container.

2 quarts

Have a happy day!


Monday, December 27, 2010

Just Sharing Some Fun Christmas Photos...

I hope that you all had a terrific Christmas! It was such a blessing to have all of our family at our home to celebrate the holiday! We went with an Italian lunch theme; making manicotti, red lasagna, white lasagna, etc. DELICIOUS! Since we went with an Italian theme, we joked that our last name should be "Brownelli" rather than "Brown" just for the day!

My sis-in-law, Sandy, made these ADORABLE matching Christmas aprons for all of the gals in our family! She even embroidered our names on the pockets!! From left to right are: Megan, Ashley, Lea Ann, Kari, Me, and Sandy holding granddaughter, Kayle Ann.

Here's the littlest member of our family, Kayle Ann, showing off her Christmas bow "corsage"...she's such a cutie!!

And here's Kayle's big brother, Ian, opening up a present:

Both of these cute kiddos belong to my nephew Ryan and his adorable wife, Ashley:

Doesn't my father-in-law look handsome in his argyle vest? I just LOVE argyle, (I think it's a timeless look and it takes me back to the preppy styles of my teenage days in the 80's!!), but I can't get my hubby to wear it!!

Justin and his cousin Megan always have a good time hanging out together! Meg is 3 years older than Justin, and they've been really close all of their lives...more like siblings than cousins!

Here's Mike's sis, Sandy, and her sweetheart of a hubby Don...aren't they so cute???

Here's my mom and nephew, Nathan, hanging out while lunch is cooking. Nathan was born on Christmas Eve and celebrated his 13th birthday the night before. Happy Birthday, Nate!!!

Niece Beth Ann was a little sleepy from celebrating her brother Nathan's 13th birthday at the movies the night before, so she snuggled up in a quilt and napped while lunch was cooking...

Here's a cute photo of Mike's sis, Lea Ann, her hubby John and daughter Megan...

Here's my sweetie opening one of his Christmas gifts....good 'ole cash - the perfect gift 'cause it's always the right size and color!!!

Mike's brother Royce opens a gift too...

Every year at Christmas we play our annual "Brown Family Bingo Games". Mike's mom started this tradition many, many years ago, and we continue to play as a tribute to her! We each bring a $5.00 wrapped gift to put into the loot pile, and my brother-in-law, John, is the caller. Upon calling Bingo the winner(s) can take a gift from the loot pile or steal a Bingo prize from someone else...which is always a lot of fun! One prize, a lump of coal in a Christmas tin, is recycled into the loot pile year after year! The lucky "winner" of the coal has to write a poem about the coal, wrap it up, and bring it back to add to the loot pile the following year. (Yes, we have an entire collection of poems about coal that has spanned for many, many years!) Ashley "won" the coal last year...she was so tricky this year and disguised the tin of coal in a Mason jar with some rice and wrapped it up!! (Good job, Ashley!!) My dad was the lucky one to select this gem this year...here's a funny photo of him with his prize:

I can hardly wait to see what kind of a coal poem that Dad comes up with for next year - ha! ha!

Last, but not least, here are my favorite photos from Christmas day...Justin and Kayle Ann playing with a little flashlight...just too, too cute!

I'm off work this week - YIPPEE!! - so I'm looking forward to creating some fun projects to share with you!

Have a blessed day!

Friday, December 24, 2010

From Our Home to Yours...Merry Christmas!!

Remember: Jesus is the Reason for the Season!!

God grant you the light in Christmas, which is faith;
the warmth of Christmas, which is love;
the radiance of Christmas, which is purity;
the righteousness of Christmas, which is justice;
the belief in Christmas, which is truth;
the all of Christmas, which is Christ.

--Wilda English

Thank you so much for being a part of my little world during 2010. It has been an honor and a privilege to share thoughts and ideas with you and to become friends with so many!! I look forward to sharing more creativity with you in 2011 and getting to know you better. My hope and prayer is that you and your family have a safe and wonderful Christmas filled with peace, joy and love and that your new year will be filled with happiness and an abundance of blessings!

Merry Christmas!!


Becky and Family


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Recipe of the Week...Mike's INCREDIBLE Chocolate Chip Cookies

My dear hubby, Mike, makes the MOST INCREDIBLE chocolate chip cookies EVER! He says that the trick to making a great cookie is "to become the cookie" - ha! ha! Seriously, though, he watches over each pan of cookies that he puts into the oven to make sure that they turn a perfect golden brown...he is, without a doubt, the Cookie Man!

Here is his incredible chocolate chip cookie recipe:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups blended oatmeal (measure oatmeal first, then blend into a fine powder using a food processor)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 12 oz. chocolate chips
  • 4 oz. Hershey bar, grated
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
Cream together butter and both sugars. Add eggs and vanilla. In a separate bowl combine flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Gradually add dry ingredients to creamed mixture. Add chocolate chips, grated Hershey bar and nuts. Roll into 1 1/2 inch diameter balls and place 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for about 7 minutes.

Yield: About 5 dozen cookies

Beware!!! These cookies won't last long around your home so you might want to make a double batch!! They are great to wrap up to give as little treats to your friends and neighbors...you'll receive rave reviews too!


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

This Is One Of My Favorite Things.....

I love, love, love pizzelles, so every year at Christmastime my friend/co-worker Penny makes me a batch of these light, wafery, delectable treats!!! I really look forward to these each Christmas...so last week when she came into my office bearing a red plate full of these treats, (along with some chocolate covered peanut clusters and frosted sugar cookies!), I jumped up and down with joy and gave her a big 'ole hug!!!

Here's a photo of Penny's famous pizzelles, before I hoovered them down with a cup of cappuccino! (Sorry for the bad lighting on the photos...the fluorescent lights at my office makes photos look funky).

Here is a photo of me (left) and Penny (right) in our Christmas vests...isn't she just the cutest gal ever?!?!? She's SUPER SWEET too!!

Thanks, again, Penny for the yummy pizzelles and also for being a great friend and co-worker!!! You're a blessing!!

Have a happy day!!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Mass Production Christmas Cards and Gift Bag Tutorial

I'm one of those "old-fashioned" folks that still mail out Christmas cards each year. I think there's just something special about receiving a "real" card in your mail box at this time of year...and if there's a newsletter or note included it's a bonus! I truly enjoy hearing from our extended family and friends, seeing updated photos of their families, and finding out what they've been up to during the past year.

Each year I make and mail out about 50 Christmas cards...so I've had to learn how quickly to mass produce these since there's so much to be done during the month of December. With that in mind, here's a little tutorial on how I created my Christmas cards this year:

For starters, here's a photo of the front of the card:

Here's a photo of the inside of the card...I always like to include an updated family photo, so this year I made room for the photo on the inside front flap.

To begin, cut a piece of 12" x 12" cardstock to 12" x 11". (I used CTMH Colonial White cardstock). With the 12" side at the top of your paper cutter, cut 3 - 4" strips. Score each strip at 4 1/2" and fold. This will make each card measure 4" x 5 1/2" when it is folded, allowing it to fit into a standard A2 envelope. (NOTE: You'll be able to get 3 cards from each 12" x 11" cardstock).

Fold each card on score line and set aside:

Using double-sided paper, (I chose papers from the CTMH "Mistletoe" collection), cut 4" x 4 1/2" rectangles...one for each card that you're going to make. Now, cut the rectangles in half, which will allow you to display both sides of the pretty double-sided paper on your card. Select a coordinating paper and cut 1" x 4" strips...you'll need one for each card. Set aside.

Using a coordinating piece of cardstock, (I chose CTMH New England Ivy cardstock), cut strips into 1/2" x 12" strips and run these strips through a paper crimper. (For each strip you crimp you'll have an element to use on 2 cards). Set crimped strips aside. Select image for tag to be used on the front of the card, (I chose a sentiment from the CTMH "Christmas Melodies" stamp set). Using a coordinating ink, (I chose CTMH Cranberry ink), stamp the sentiment on cardstock.

Cut out images and punch holes in them. Set aside.

Now it's time to begin assembling your cards...

Adhere the 4" x 4 1/2" rectangles that you've cut in half to the front of the card:

Now take your crimped strip of cardstock and lay across the front of your card. Cut to fit, apply glue dots to the back, and adhere to the front of the card to cover the seam between the two pieces of paper:

Apply 1" x 4" strip of coordinating paper to the right outer edge of the inside of the card:

Stamp a sentiment on the inside of the card. (I chose a sentiment from the CTMH "Festive Thoughts" stamp set and used Cranberry ink). If desired, add a family photo to the inside flap of the card as well.

To finish decorating the tag for the front of your card, run a piece of ribbon through the punched hole. (I used CTMH Cranberry velvet ribbon). Tie a piece of thin satin ribbon around the velvet ribbon at the base of the tag to hold the ribbon in place:

Apply two 3-D dots to the back of the tag and adhere at an angle, straddling the crimped strip of cardstock, to the front of your card:

You can stamp a decorative image on the envelopes if you like...I always think that's a nice touch!

It's easy to make a coordinating gift bag as well!

Begin with a basic kraft bag:

Cut decorative paper, (I used paper from the CTMH "Mistletoe" collection"), to the width of your bag and then the desired height...mine was 4" high x 8" wide. Cut 2 strips of coordinating cardstock 1" x 8", (I used CTMH Cranberry cardstock), and punch one side of the strip with a decorative punch. Run a 1/2" x 12" strip of cardstock through a paper crimper, (I used CTMH New England Ivy cardstock). Stamp and prepare tag image as shown in the card directions above.

Apply adhesive to one of the punched strips and apply to one of the long edges of the decorative paper. Repeat process for the other side and apply to the bag as shown:

Following the same directions as given in the card instructions, trim crimped strip of cardstock to fit the width of the gift bag. Apply glue dots to the back of the crimped strip and apply to the center of the decorative piece of paper:

Using 3-D dots, apply the decorative tag to the front of the bag:

To create the bow, cut a 66" long piece of thin satin ribbon:

Cut a 6" piece of ribbon off of the long piece of ribbon and set aside. (You will use the short piece to secure your bow and attach it to the bag).

Begin looping the ribbon back and forth, pinching in the middle while forming loops, as shown in the photo below...just play with it until you get the desired size of bow you want!

Once you've formed a bow that you're satisfied with, pinch the center and tie in the middle with the short piece of ribbon:

Attach to the bag and your bag is now ready to fill with a nice holiday treat to give to a friend!

Lastly, here are 3 variations of the above card, which will fit into a standard number 10, (4 1/8" x 9 1/2"), envelope. Each card measures 9 1/8" x 4":

I hope this tutorial has been helpful! Have a WONDERFUL week!!