Saturday, January 31, 2015

Recipe Card Holder Valentine Gift

The $ Tree currently has some super cute Valentines Day items, like these stickers.  I wasn't sure what I wanted to use them for, but I knew I really needed to think of something.

I tested and found they stick quite well to metal washers (I like the ones just slightly larger than the sticker), and metal washers stick quite well to magnets.  Voila!  Cute Valentine magnets.

I also checked to see if magnets would stick to the fake metal trays at the $ Tree, and they do!  This is great, because I am in need of something to hold a recipe while I'm baking.  With the not-so-pretty conduit running under the kitchen cabinets of my 1929 home, I can cover some ugly and create function by attaching the tray to it with magnets.  

I plan to paint mine antique white, but I wanted to share it this way in case anyone needs an inexpensive idea for a Sunday School or Daycare project.  With several kids sharing one sheet of stickers, plus the cost of a washer, magnet, and tray - the holders could be made for about $1.25 each.  I think some mommies and grammies would think this was a sweet gift to hold a recipe or picture. 

Don't you think these are darling stickers?
What ideas do you have for them.....I'd love to hear.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Yummy, Crunchy, Easy Microwave Peanut Brittle


Peanut brittle can be a tricky candy to make.  If you don't cook it long enough, it is so gooey it can almost pull your teeth out.  If you overcook it, the sugar and peanuts burn and it tastes awful.  I think most people just purchase peanut brittle when they are hungry for it, rather than go through all that hassle.

But what if you could make it hassle free?  My mom had a great microwave recipe that turned out perfect peanut brittle every time - for her.  For me.......not so much.  As the years have passed, microwave times and temps have changed, and so her recipe did not work with modern models.  I'm happy to say that after many trial and error batches - I can share a recipe that I think will give you wonderful results each time you make it.

I use a large, 8 Cup, heavy, glass bowl to cook my peanut brittle.  It gets very hot and it is helpful to see the color, so I would recommend something similar.

1      Cup Granulated White Sugar
1/8   tsp. Salt
1/2   Cup Light Corn Syrup
1      Cup Raw Peanuts
1      tsp. Butter
1      tsp. Vanilla
1      tsp. Baking Soda

Butter a baking sheet and set aside.  Mix together the white sugar, salt, and light corn syrup.  Microwave on High for 2 minutes.  (All the microwave times are on High.)  Stir in the cup of peanuts, then microwave for 3 minutes.  Stir in the butter and vanilla, and microwave on 1 1/2 minutes; stir, then microwave for 1 additional minute.  Add the teaspoon of baking soda and GENTLY stir until light and foamy.  Immediately pour the mixture onto the greased baking sheet and quickly spread it a bit.  Let it cool completely, then break it apart.  The back of a soup spoon does a nice job for breaking.

Think you want to try this recipe?  It turns out so yummy, and there are no candy thermometers, no endless stirring on the stove top, no plunging spoons into cold water........and no guesswork.  It's such delicious peanut brittle, I know you're going to want to make it for more holidays than just Christmas.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Painting Beauty From Ashes - A New Blog

Several years ago I started this blog, The Lavender Tub.  I didn't think of myself as a blogger, or really a person that anyone would find interesting enough to follow; I just wanted a place to share some recipes and other "how to" ideas.  An insatiable desire to learn and try new things, combined with homemaking skills learned from my stay-at-home mom put me in a position of being a resource for some of my younger friends.  It made sense to have a public place to publish information that I seemed to share over and over again.

As time went on, however, The Lavender Tub became a place of therapy for me.  The death of my remaining parent (both to cancer), a job loss for my husband that lasted two full years, learning of the lengthy abuse of some children I love - which sent me into counseling to deal with issues from my own past - were all so difficult and wounding.  There were wonderful events that greatly eclipsed those painful things - my daughter gave birth to the two, most beautiful children on the planet, my hubby eventually found work and then became a partner in his CPA firm, my boys acclimated to public school from homeschool very successfully, and I even stumbled upon a little business that keeps me in some spending money.  Still, the hurt could be so heavy at times.  This blog has been a lovely escape for me as I've worked on those hurts.  When I was emotionally unable to reach out the way I once did, I found I could still blog and share ideas that might help someone.  I could get lost in editing pictures, and learn new techniques as I worked.   I could even find a calming joy in remaking a piece of outdated, undesirable furniture into something that is pretty and quite useful for our home.  It made me feel like I was Painting Beauty From My Ashes, and healing happened.  I wouldn't say I'm 100%, but I'm certainly in a better place than I was.

Since I didn't realize I was starting a real blog when I began The Lavender Tub, I made choices in my set up that locked this blog into formats and styles I am unable to change without undesirable consequences.  Honestly, I'm kind of eager for something fresh that can evolve as my skills change, and as I learn more about how to be a blogger.  For those reasons, I've decided to start a 2nd blog,  

I don't think I will abandon The Lavender Tub, for it is dear to me - mistakes and all.  I just wish to have a place to present better pictures with a cleaner format for some of what I blog about. But then again - you just never know! 

Or in the words of  
Lady Violet of Downton Abbey fame, 

I do hope you'll continue to visit, and please check out and consider following, Painting Beauty From Ashes, here.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being here for you are the reason I keep blogging, and you helped me through a most difficult time.  You will never know how much you mean to me!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

My Family's Favorite Cheese Ball

I honestly can't believe I've never shared this recipe on the blog before, because it is one of my most requested recipes 

- for 2 reasons:

            #1  It really is one of the best cheese ball 
recipes around


            #2  Family members can't seem to find their 
                  copies of the recipe at Christmas time!

The conversation always goes, "Hey, I just did a search on 
your blog......and I can't find The Cheese Ball Recipe......

So, if for no one but my family - Here It Is!

1 pound Cheddar Cheese, shredded
2 - 8 oz. packages Cream Cheese, room temp is best
2 tsp. Garlic Powder
2 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
1/4 - 1/2 Cup Mayo (I lean toward the 1/4 Cup)
Chopped Pecans (about 1/2 Cup)
Chili Powder

Combine the cheeses, garlic powder, Worcestershire sauce, and mayo.  Mix well with your hands.  Shape into a ball, Christmas tree, heart, log, or whatever your mood dictates.

On a piece of plastic wrap spread the pecans and sprinkle chili powder over them.  (You can mix some pecans into the cheese mixture, but I just coat the cheese ball with them in case someone does not like pecans.)  Now, just roll the cheese ball around on the pecans and chili powder until it is completely coated.  I usually finish off with some extra chili powder.

Lavender Tub Tip:  I hang on to the plastic wrap with the pecans and chili powder.  If the cheese ball is not consumed in one sitting,  I can always reshape and roll it again.  Sometimes I use the leftover cheese ball in a pan of enchilada casserole - just break it into small pieces and use in place of the shredded cheese.  It tastes wonderful.

Lastly, if you are watching your carbs, this makes a super yummy treat when eaten with almonds.  It really hits the spot when you need something snacky.

I hope your family enjoys this recipe as much as ours does!  At least my family can all pull it up on our phones now!