I thought this short video on YT was an incredible reminder, especially when the holiday season is often hard on people and this has been an especially difficult year for a lot of people. So I wanted to share Fire Department Chronicles’ video. Please consider taking a few minutes out of your day for it and even share it if you can. Maybe we can help a few people this year if we raise awareness and compassion. Thank you! (Not sponsored or anything – just something that I think is really important to share.)
Category Archives: The Holidays
On what is considered the happiest holiday of the year, a lot of people struggle with depression and even suicidal ideation. Instead of the happy holidays posts you’re probably more used to seeing, I am attaching a link to a sermon about depression.
If you know me well, you know that I have Faith, but I don’t associate myself with a specific religion, and am really open-minded. The perfect words and message can come from any religion right when you need it, in my opinion. I got really lucky and one of my incredible friends shared this sermon with me, which I asked if I could share here, just in case anyone out there needs to hear this message right now, too.
Again, I am not affiliated with this religion and honestly don’t listen to sermons often, but the message about depression is so incredible that I hope it also helps someone out there in internet-land too. Apparently I seriously suck at embedding the video itself, so please click here to get directed to the sermon page with the video. *smile* And please do not hesitate to privately contact me if you need a depression/ideation “buddy”. Having them myself has literally saved my life.
Just in case you need it, The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255 (US) and at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org. Before you act on your thoughts, please reach out. And please do not let this make you feel guilty or like you are a bad person for these feelings/thoughts. It tore me apart for a spell until my friend provided the link to the sermon. You are still a good person, no matter what your mind says right now.
Also, thank you to the incredible friends and family that have been so supportive through this rocky time. I forget to log in to different medias and am so bad at timely responses, but your support means the world to me and I am sincerely thankfully for you. Y’all make me as warm and fuzzy feeling as my plush onesies that I practically live in right now. *grin*
In honor of Cyber Monday, 11/28/2016, I am offering 20% off purchases (excluding shipping) today.
As you can tell from the following picture I have been busy for weeks working on soaps to post today. Please check out my Soaps page on the website! I did quite a variety from an “Undead Collection” to Snowflakes to Maple Bacon Bars, and many others in between, so there should be something for everyone. This picture was taken just after unmolding several batches of soaps, and before I got a few batches finished, but it gives you a good idea of how hard I’ve been working. Ignore my Thanksgiving list in the background please. *laugh*
I hope you have a wonderful day and I hope to start blogging regularly very soon. In the meantime, help someone pamper themselves today. 🙂
I actually found the original recipe on Pinterest (I may have an addiction *laugh*), and the original printable recipe is here, but there weren’t any pictures of the process and there were a couple of hard learned tips that will make your experience much better, so I thought I’d share the recipe. I am not claiming any credit, it belongs to the original blogger. I simply want to share an easy recipe that is truly easy when you don’t make the mistakes I did. *grin*
First off, you need a 5 quart crockpot, a sturdy spoon or spatula, parchment paper, cookie sheets, a scoop, and a little over two hours.
For ingredients you will need 34.5 oz of honey roasted dry roasted peanuts (**My note: Larry said that he doesn’t like the flavor of the honey roasted in the peanut clusters, so I’ll definitely be using plain dry roasted from now on), 32 ounces of vanilla flavored almond bark (in the baking supply aisle and contrary to the name doesn’t have any nuts), 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips, and 4 ounces Baker’s German Chocolate bar (found near the almond bark and the bar itself is the full 4 ounces).
Now, I’m going to admit that this is where things started going wrong. We were trying to make the peanut clusters and another candy at the same time, and ditched the other one because so much was going wrong, but found that there was a snafu with this one too. It was the first time I had bought or used almond bark, so silly me didn’t pay attention to the size and notice that the recipe would need part of a second package, so instead I compensated for the missing eight ounces of almond bark by adding that much more of semisweet chips. I liked the results, so I’m not sure that I’ll do it the correct way the next time I make this, but I want to be honest about what went on in case you have the same problem or want to go that way.
Pour the peanuts into the crockpot – it will seem like there’s an insane amount of peanuts in there, but I assure you, you’re doing it right. Next is one key tip that the original didn’t mention. Before layering the almond bark over the peanuts cut that bar up!! I can vouch that the blob of almond bark may soften, but won’t fully melt in the allotted time, so cut it on those scored lines please. You will have a very hard clump that you’ll have to pull out of the pot, chop up, and put back in, all while trying not to make a huge mess, which is nearly impossible, if you don’t chop it at the beginning. *sigh* Anyway, lay the bits of almond bark over your peanuts, and then scatter the chocolate chips over that. Next is the Baker’s bar, which will melt just fine without cutting (it isn’t nearly as bulky as that bark *grin*). Put the lid on it, turn the crockpot to low, and walk away for one whole hour. Don’t stir, don’t lift the lid to peek, nada. Dance around that Christmas tree, pull the cat out of the said Christmas tree, or fall into the black hole of Facebook until your alarm goes off. Whatever floats your boat, but hands off!
Now you can stir and look how yummy it all ready looks!
Put the lid back on, set the alarm for fifteen minutes, and stir the mixture every fifteen minutes for an hour. It won’t be the prettiest girl at the prom, but it’ll be the one with all of the personality, so don’t worry if the sides look a bit icky like mine.
After the hour of stirring intervals it’s time to scoop. The original recipe just calls for laying out parchment paper, but I don’t have a very big kitchen with tons of cabinet space, so we lined cookie sheets and swapped them out. I tried one batch without a cookie sheet and it was pure misery with some of the candies oozing together into big blobs when I tried to move them a little, so I strongly recommend cookie sheets. The flat AirBake sheets worked best for us. Now, I have no idea what makes parchment better than wax paper for these, but I didn’t want to risk trouble by experimenting to figure it out. Parchment paper it is. *grin* Don’t forget to turn off the crock pot! If it’s really cool in your kitchen you can keep it at warm, but you’ll have a little trouble with the mixture staying runny once you get to the bottom. That’s better than a solid mass though, so I’d definitely do it if I felt it was necessary. You just don’t want to keep it on low the whole time you’re scooping.
We used a tiny cookie scoop for scooping the peanut clusters. While the mixture was fresh and hot, it was more runny and didn’t need the little sweeper arm. As the mixture set up a little more the little arm was quite useful. Make sure to drop the scoops apart from one another.
Once we had scooped it all (and licked the spoons *grin*) I noticed that the chocolate wasn’t setting up and realized that my house was too warm for them to set up. I must have accidentally grabbed a log of hedge when I loaded the woodstove, so it was nearly as hot as the face of the sun, while it was 30 degrees outside. *laugh* Some creative thinking resulted with utilizing our standing smoker as a refrigerator. Let my amusing substitution show you that if your refrigerator is full of Christmas meal prep, you just need to think outside of the box. Literally. *smirk*
I left them to cool for about four hours and then brought them in.
They were good and hard, so I was able to pop them into some zipper bags, and fit those bags into the remaining gaps in the refrigerator then. Even with samples left out (or happily melting in our bellies) I filled an entire gallon bag and a quart bag! Oh, by the way, don’t forget to let these chocolates sit out at room temperature for a little bit before serving, since you don’t want anyone to break a tooth on cold peanuts. Those suckers are hard when they’re cold!
Hopefully this little feature for Serve It Sunday will help if you’re looking for one more item to round out your Christmas dishes. These would also make a great gift, since it’d be easy to put the clusters into decorative mini muffin or candy liners, and then into a festive cellophane bag. The recipe is easy enough that you could cook dinner while it’s melting, too. Just don’t try to make a complicated dessert while making these for the first time. *laugh* They are so worth giving a shot and the original blogger even added decorative candies, so there is a lot of room to put your personal touch to these.
Between decorating for Christmas, cyber shopping (well, more like stalking Amazon’s lightning deals lol), resting my feet, and working on the layered chocolate cake slice soaps, I haven’t had much time to be creative blog wise. I thought I’d instead show you how the ornament soaps are doing. I didn’t use any additives when I was hand painting the soaps, so there’s a little bleeding and fading going on, and I’m so thrilled with the changes.
I seriously love how soft and delicate they look now! Even the bright one that I didn’t originally like is headed toward being a sellable item in my book. *happy dance*
I hope you’ve had a wonderful Friday and Saturday morning! If you’re heading out shopping I read that the crowds are massively less than usual due to all of the Thanksgiving Day shopping, so hopefully that means you’ll get to enjoy yourself! My UPS man is going to be cursing me on the 1st and 2nd since I completed almost all of my shopping online. *laugh* I’ll have to look on Pinterest for some ideas on a nice little gift for him this Christmas, since the poor guy has to keep coming here. I’m off to try to sleep. 🙂
Tonight I’ve been experimenting with painting ornament soaps. It’s been a couple of years since I did painted soaps, and I have new types of dyes compared to the basics from back then, so I knew there’d be at least a couple of soaps getting demoted to home use after this. *grin* I found that powdered pigments reconstituted with glycerin just plain didn’t work and I don’t even have examples, since it literally didn’t dye the soap. A couple of oxides were definitely a bit too strong for my taste and they make me a little nervous that being so strong on the surface of the soap might dye the skin a bit, so those will become “Goodyear soaps”, for Larry to use when he’s all ready stained up from the plant. *laugh* After a while I found that the “stained glass liquid colorants” worked the best and looked the best as decorative touches, instead of painted over most of the surface. Without further ado here are the hits and misses of a few Buttercream scented hand painted ornament soaps…
I really like the star ornament that accidentally took on a fall color scheme, plus the polka dot one that I photographed individually, and I usually hate all things polka dot. *smile*
I definitely don’t care for the brightly painted blue, purple, and red ornament. Meh. Just a little too bold maybe. I’m really disappointed about the burgundy soap. Although I usually love glitter it totally didn’t work the greatest as a coating over the paint or when it was mixed into the paint. One, it’s a serious pain to try to paint with chunky paint, especially fine details when a tremor and involuntary movements all ready make an intriguing challenge. Two, when the paint and water dried the glitter began to flake off. I have glitter all over the couch, my pajamas, my tray, my walker, and maybe not so accidentally the dog’s head. *laugh* When you break an egg you might as well enjoy an omelet, right? Instead of griping over glitter getting all over just smear a bit on your dog’s head and admire how cheerful he suddenly looks. That’s today’s tip for trying to stay cheerful. *grin*
I always forget until I do these projects just how much I miss painting. I was always so critical of myself, but it’s a lot of fun, and rather relaxing, except in my shoulders. I think I’ll paint a few more of the polka dot ornaments and call it good, otherwise I’ll end up needing shots in my shoulders again from getting them too inflamed. No thank you.
Depending on how well I can get stuff prepped for Thanksgiving and on how my feet are doing after some uninterrupted bedrest, maybe tomorrow I’ll be able to work on the cake slice soaps. *crossing fingers* I hope your holiday prep, if you are celebrating, goes smoothly and you can enjoy some extra time with your family or a few moments to yourself for some pampering. 🙂
Drumroll please…*grin* Hi there! I just wanted to make a quick note that in honor of Cyber Monday I will be offering 10% off all orders (excluding shipping fees and gift certificates) on December 1st. Why fight the crowds when you can shop in your pajamas? 🙂
I decided to try and decorate ornaments to attach to gifts this year, instead of the usual bows and curling ribbons. I thought it’d be a nice touch and would help get me out of my blah wrapping habits. *grin* Anyway, I’ve been experimenting on a variety of regular colored bulbs, regular clear glass bulbs, and tiny clear glass bulbs. Glitter, floor wax, mod podge, stickers, acrylic paint, dimensional paint, and glitter glue have all been fair game. Not always with great results, but it keeps me occupied and being creative while I’ve been pretty much laid up for several days.
Sadly I had a beautiful regular sized bulb done with mod podge and copper and red glitters that shattered. I tried to recreate it small scale with one of the tiny bulbs, but the colors don’t pop as much when small and especially not when photographed. Lol It’s still kind of pretty I think, although only the red really shows on “film” apparently. The copper gleams a bit where light is really hitting, like in the reflection of my ceiling light.
I also did a few solid red glitter tiny bulbs and then one tiny bulb where I mixed green and red glitters, all with the floor wax for the adhesive. I learned during this that glitter throws off the camera’s focus, so most of my pictures are blurry despite my best efforts. Lol At least there’s proof that I tried, though.
I used an acrylic copper paint that looks remarkably plum when pixelated and added some gorgeous golden brown and burnt sienna glittery leaf stickers with little rhinestones around the outside of the bulb. Then I added a first initial sticker to another glitter bulb for a fully personalized little ornament for my niece to remove from her gift and add to her little bedroom tree if she wants, too.
For the dimensional paint and glitter glue I had two bulbs turn out well. Both were very obviously done freehand and I really like them, especially where the paint developed a bubble and left a double line on the black ornament. I think I will try to do a few more patterns with the dimensional glitter since it looks neat and the world needs more glitter. Lol.
I did a few swirled paint tiny bulbs that turned out pretty neat. Two in an attempt at camo and one in pastels. They look wildly different with flash versus plain lighting, so I am posting both versions. I can’t wait to see how they look under Christmas lights. *grin*
Anyway, those are a few of my little projects that I’ve been occupying myself with. I have a few more that are still drying, so I couldn’t take pictures of them, and I don’t want to make this post seriously boring. *grin* Do you like to embellish your gifts? If so, any inspiration or tips you’d mind sharing? In the meantime I hope you have a wonderful day and find a few moments to pamper yourself. You always deserve it.
For the first time since we adopted Bo Larry and I are getting away for a few days. We have an awesome house sitter (thank you again!!) that’s going to be at home with the fur babies, most especially Bo. Larry has taken a lot of camping trips and even a small vacation away, but I’ve never spent more than 8 hours away from Bo. Things worked out perfectly and we are headed to Branson, MO for a few days in just a few hours.
If you aren’t familiar with Branson it’s kind of like Vegas for Country Folks. *grin* Lots of music venues, incredible scenery around a gorgeous lake, and tons of bright lights. We get to see even more bright lights since Branson went Christmas as of November 1st.
We’re going to Silver Dollar City Theme Park where they’re celebrating an Old Time Christmas with bluegrass, country, and gospel singers, 5 million Christmas lights, and incredible items for sale. They have a fun holiday parade each night, and even a 5 story Christmas tree with special effects and a light show. The park is full of craftsmen demonstrating the techniques and skills that were used before technology became mainstream. Our favorite artisans are the glassblowers and the blacksmith. They are absolutely fascinating. Their hand-crafted items are available for sale, too! Handmade candles, freshly made candies, and hand carved wood. *happy sigh* I’ll share pictures over the next few days.
We are also going to dinner at The Dixie Stampede dinner show. This will be Dolly Parton’s holiday show with the North Pole versus the South Pole instead of the traditional (although light hearted) Dixie divide. It’s our version of the Knights dinner theater. *grin* No silverware while watching amazing horse riding stunts, a living nativity, ostrich races, and listening to some beautiful music. The vegetable cream soup is my favorite part of the meal. I’ll definitely be showing the recipe and soup on here as it keeps getting colder.
We’ll also hit some outlet malls and our favorite little diner, Cakes-n-Creams, where we get a funnel cake topped with an ice cream sundae. So decadent and delicious.
Branson is where we had our honeymoon and for the first seven years we went back each November for the holiday festival. I know that some people hate how early Christmas hits the stores and stuff, but the beginning of November isn’t excessively cold yet, it’s easy to get time off of work, and it’s not nearly as crowded, so it’s the perfect time for us. It works great for getting a start on Christmas shopping, too. We almost always stay at the same resort and we have an ornament from the resort for each year. It’s so easy to lose track of what Christmas is all about, so seeing those ornaments each year reminds us that it’s about the love and family, and not how many boxes are under the tree.
I’ll try to spread the pics over several days, so it doesn’t get overwhelming and doesn’t bog down the loading of my page for you. This is the first time we’ve gone since I had to start using a cane and walker, and since I had the leg injuries, so I figure I’m in for some new life lessons in coping with my illness and adapting. It took me a week to finally agree that it’s a smart idea to take the walker. lol I’m a bit nervous over the physical toll the trip may take and of getting injured in public, and being away from Bo for the first time (hey, it’s basically like a mom leaving her toddler for the first time, mine is just hairier and protective. *laugh*). This trip is like a shining star after three years of darkness. I can just let go for a few days and have a better frame of mind to get me through the rough times ahead. 🙂