Silence and thought~

As I sit alone in the darkness beside the tree with the sparkling lights, and gaze upon the beautiful, gaily wrapped presents, I think of all the thought my children have put into the presents they purchased.  Tomorrow morning we will laugh and be surprised, hug and say thank you.  We will enjoy a breakfast together and then they will be off to their other families.  I am so thankful we have this time together; we are so fortunate to be able to celebrate this way.

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But I also think about those who cannot afford gifts… those who have nothing to celebrate.. those who are separated from family members….those who live with daily fear…..those who have no home…those for whom a bowl of rice is their holiday~or even worse, no food on this day of days.   And my heart aches.

I am one person, and I give what I can, but it is not enough.  It will never be enough.

I have a favorite quote, attributed to Winston Churchill: “We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.”   To me, it is such a powerful quote, and one I truly believe in.

This year I started a new tradition at home.  I have a very small, undecorated tree.  There are no presents under this tree.  It’s our Thankful, Grateful tree.   I have blank tags and pens available.  When one of the family is inspired, they write something they are thankful or grateful for on the tag and hang it on the tree.   I was gone for a while today and when I came home…..the tree was “lit” with tags.  Blessings!

It’s good to remember what gives our lives true meaning, and have that same wish for others.

My wish for you, my friends, is that you enjoy your holiday, however you celebrate it, and that you are able to feel thankful, grateful and blessed too….
Judy

We love Crack (ers)!

Yep that’s true.  My family is addicted to Crack!  Crackers, that is.  To be more specific: Chocolate Caramel Crackers!   And you will be too, once you try these wonderful treats.  They last about a week in a covered container, according to the recipe.  But…..we’ve never tested that theory because they’ve never lasted that long around our house!

Chocolate Caramel Crack(ers) will make a great gift for family and friends.  Bonus: it’s not a difficult recipe to make.

For years I had been making a similar recipe with saltines and graham crackers.  But when I subscribed to SmittenKitchen.com and tried their recipe….I was, well….smitten with it!
Smitten Kitchen is a wonderful site for foodies.   She writes with a great sense of humor while giving tutorials on cool recipes.  Click here to see the Smitten Kitchen site.

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Chocolate Caramel Crack(ers)
Adapted from David Lebovitz, who adapted it from Marcy Goldman who is the genius that first applied this to matzo crackers

Ingredients 
4 to 6 sheets matzo or approximately 40 Saltine crackers or crackers of your choice
1 cup (2 sticks or 8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into a few large pieces
1 cup packed light brown sugar
A big pinch of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups semi- or bittersweet chocolate chips (or chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate)
1 cup toasted chopped almonds, pecans, walnuts or a nut of your choice (optional)
Extra sea salt for sprinkling (optional)

Assembly:
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 11-by-17-inch baking sheet with sides (or 11 x 17  jelly roll pan) completely with foil, and then line inside the foil (the base) with parchment paper, cut to fit.

Line the parchment paper with matzo or crackers, covering all parts. [If using matzo, you’ll need to break pieces to fit any extra spaces, which will be annoying because despite being perforated, it does not actually break in straight lines. I have some luck pressing a serrated knife straight down along a section between perforations, if that (hopefully) makes sense.]  Note:  I use a serrated knife to cut saltines in half, to fit in the end of the pan.

In a medium heavy-duty saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar together, and stir it over medium heat until it begins to boil. Once it has begun boiling, let it bubble for three more minutes, stirring it well. It will thicken & foam a bit as it cooks. Remove from the heat and add the salt and vanilla, and then quickly pour it over the matzo or crackers. You’ll want to spread it quickly, as it will begin to set as soon as it is poured.

Bake the caramel-covered crackers for 15 minutes, watching carefully as it will bubble and the corners might darken too quickly and/or burn. You can reduce the heat if you see this happening.

Remove from oven and immediately cover with chocolate chips. Let stand five minutes, and then spread them evenly across the caramel. An offset spatula works great here. If you’re using them, sprinkle the chocolate with toasted chopped nuts and/or sea salt. (The sea salt is great on matzo. On Saltines, it’s really not necessary.)

Once completely cool — I sometimes speed this process up in the fridge, impatient as should be expected in the face of caramel crack(ers) — break it into pieces and store it in a container. It should keep for a week but I’ve never seen it last that long.

 Enjoy!  I’ll bet you’ll have a new addiction soon too!  ~and thanks to smittenkitchen.com for this recipe.
Judy

Make Antique Button Earrings

I don’t have a photo to go along with this craft, but when you follow the link and go to the website below you’ll get the directions and see the photos.  Thanks to Life Through the Lens for the idea.
All you need are buttons with a shank on the back.  The directions tell you how to remove the shank and add a post and back.  It’s very simple.  So simple I wish I’d thought of it myself!
With all the different buttons available (new or antique), you can imagine the variety of styles you can craft.   These will make great gifts too!  Good luck!

Click here for the tutorial on Life Through the Lens.  

**(“Vintage Earrings Tutorial and Giveaway” ….Giveaway has ended)