Friday, December 7, 2012

Christmas Crack

Today I am making Christmas Crack (otherwise known as Saltine Cracker Candy.)
To begin you will need  at least 1 sleeve of saltines, enough to cover a half sheet jellyroll pan.  (I used one plus part of another sleeve.)  One cup (yep, two sticks of butter!) and one cup of light brown sugar.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a half sheet baking pan with foil, turn up the edges to form a tray and spray foil with non-stick cooking spray.

Arrange saltines with the salty side up in the jellyroll pan.
  In a saucepan, bring the butter and brown sugar up to a boil and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Carefully pour mixture over the crackers and spread it out, evenly coating each cracker.

Bake for about 5 minutes until the top is bubbly.
While the crackers are baking in the oven, break up the Hershey bars.  When you remove the crackers quickly top with the pieces of chocolate bars. As the chocolate begins to soften and melt, use a spatula to spread the chocolate evenly all across the top of the crackers.
At this point you can be as creative as you wish.  I sprinkled half of mine with chopped pecans (the half that had chocolate on it.)  I also used white chocolate chips on the other half and sprinkled pecans and toffee pieces on top of that side.
 Set aside to cool in the pan for a few minutes, then very carefully slide the foil off onto a cooling rack to cool completely.  I like to transfer my baking sheet into the refrigerator to speed up cooling. Cut into squares.
No one is currently look now!  Who knows how much will be left at the end of the day!
Till tomorrow,
Here is the full recipe.
  • More or less 1 sleeve of saltines, enough to cover a half sheet jellyroll pan
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) of butter
  • 1 cup of light or dark brown sugar, well packed
  • Multi pack of full size Hershey’s milk chocolate bars, or one (16 ounce) bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips or white chocolate chips
  • Crushed pecans, optional

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a jellyroll pan with foil and spray foil with non-stick cooking spray.

Arrange saltines with the salty side up in the jellyroll pan. In a saucepan, bring the butter and brown sugar up to a boil and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Carefully pour mixture over the crackers and spread it out, evenly coating each cracker. Bake for about 5 minutes until bubbly.

While that is baking, break up the Hershey bars a bit. Remove the crackers and quickly top with the chocolate bars. As they begin to soften and melt, use a spatula to spread the chocolate evenly all across the top. Sprinkle top with chopped nuts, if desired. Set aside to cool in the pan for a few minutes, then very carefully slide the foil off onto a cooling rack to cool completely. Can also transfer to a cool baking sheet and refrigerate to speed up cooling. Cut into squares.

Optional Toppings: Sprinkle the tops of crackers with coconut while the chocolate is still warm. Hershey's Bits 'O Brickle Toffee Bits sprinkled over the warm chocolate. You could also top with any finely chopped nut - pecans, walnuts, peanuts, whatever you like. I've also heard of them served with  cooked, crumbled bacon sprinkled on top!

Cook's Note: You may substitute graham crackers for the saltines. Add a pinch of salt to the caramel. I prefer using the Hershey's bars because they have such a smooth, creamy texture and they spread so fast and so well. You could also just as easily use chocolate chips and stick the tray back into the oven for a minute to soften before spreading, or melt them on the stovetop and then pour them over the top.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Link Party

If you have not followed Beneath My Heart Blog, now is your chance to take a peak.  Today is a good time to get to know Traci and see some of the Best DIY Projects of July.  I think I'll link up my completed Bathroom Makeover, now that the floor is finally finished!

You can also find Traci on Facbook, there are links on her site to follow her!  Enjoy...

Till tomorrow,

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Small Bathroom Makeover - Completed

This small bathroom makeover began here, on December 22, 2010 (and here and here and here)...I can't believe it's been that long!
This is where it all began...wanting to get rid of this flooring.

After 10+ years of girls doing hair, makeup, cleanup, mess-up's...this bathroom had seen better days!

My husband added the framework for the board and batten walls,

and added the vintage tin along the top.

All the walls and trim were painted white,

and the cabinet and upper cupboard were painted black.

At that point...the project went dormant.
I lived with the sub floor exposed while I searched for the perfect "finish" for this area.

I eventually painted two coats of Kilz and two coats of porch paint to seal the sub floor and to add a layer of protection.
All the while, I hunted for an idea for the wow factor for this room.

Last week while browsing on Pinterest I saw a stencil from the Royal Design website that seemed to be the perfect finish for this room.

I started painting the stencil in the corner and moved down toward the door.

The first row was finished fairly quickly...especially with the stencil being so large.

Working around the other items in the room was NOT fun! (Especially since the stencil was so large!)

But, the end result was well worth the work!
I already have two coats of sealer on it, and hope to add one more coat just to give extra protection to the floor.

I also want to add quarter round along the edge and put handles on the drawers to finish off this project...but in the very near future!
It has taken time to finish...but well worth the wait for the final results.

Till tomorrow,

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Before and Afters

Since moving in our house (13 years ago) I have been on a burn to change out the "builder grade" light fixtures.  I can say there are TWO less light fixtures left to change.  Most of the other fixtures seemed to go almost immediately.  It was easy to find replacements for bedrooms...they were all replaced with ceiling fans immediately!  The dining room and kitchen lights went next.  Others in bathrooms and hallways have also found their way to other venues! 

This "dinky" light is our patio light. UGLY!

I found this lovely lantern at the Army Surplus Store in Madill, OK!  Who knew?

I need a "cuter" light bulb, but I love the look!

Next absolutely UGLY light fixture is hanging in my entry way.  (Don't judge me on my dust!) It's just too ugly to even think about.  This spot needs something BIG and I just didn't want to pay big bucks to replace this with something BIG.

Again...Army Surplus store in Madill, OK...and they were 20% off!!! Less than $30.

Much better!
Hard to see when all the bulbs are burning...but it's still better than that gold monstrosity!

This project took a few days longer...I had to wait until "help" arrived to stand on the top of the ladder!  So thankful for B.J. and his ability to complete the job.

Last, but not least, is this garage sale find.  I have been using it in my sewing room to hold "stuff."
It also has that "shiny" finish that I do not want to sand and refinish.

Missing knobs and a scuffed up top still equals great storage.

I used my homemade Chalk paint again for this piece.  A little bit of distressing...and new knobs!
I love the look.

I think the black knobs finish the look!

It's such a great piece for storage.  I love the look.

Well, that was my July 4th weekend...and there is still so much to do!

Till tomorrow...

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Table Re-do with Homemade Chalk Paint

My friend Linda, from Rusty Pearls, uses Chalk Paint on all her lovely furniture. (Check her out on Facebook!) She has the perfect touch for paint, color and decoupage.
I love to re-finish and paint, but I haven't broken down and bought any of the chalk paint to try.  Of course I've also seen all the recipes for making my own...which of course, is what I did.

My first color mixture is a very soft gray.  I didn't want a stark white so I chose the lightest gray I could find to mix with my unsanded grout.  (I mixed 3 tablespoons of unsanded grout with 1 quart of paint.  I also did not follow the 'rules' and use a flat paint as suggested by many other bloggers.  I used a satin finish and I like the feel of my finished projects after I lightly sand them.)

Next...I bought a table that NEEDED to be refinished.  The top of this table has seen a lot of use.

I also got 5 chairs with this table, which I knew I would NEVER want to strip, sand and refinish.
Chalk paint appears to be the answer!

I did want to refinish the top of the table in a dark stain, because I also did not want to refinish the hutch I already have in my kitchen. Such dilemmas!

Hot or not...sanding is an outside activity.
We sanded the table top early morning, while it still "felt" cool.

Once the top was sanded I wanted to paint the edge of the table.  I used a blue chalk paint mixture for the rope and will paint over the whole area with the gray and then lightly sand to have the blue show through.

First coat of stain (I forgot to mention this great table also came with a leaf!)

While outside activities are drying, I started work on the base. 
Again...not going to sand or refinish. 

The detail work on this table was beautiful (and the base alone is HEAVY!)

I love red, white and blue.  Everyone that knows me can attest to this why would I not use my favorite colors on the base of this table.

My plan is the same as the edge of the table, cover the colored areas with the gray and lightly sand to have the color peek through.  Almost like it's been painted many times before.

Everything is dry and 3 coats of finish are on the table top.
Base is attached and I took the leaf out for everyday use.

Here is the finished base.  It has a wax coating (Johnson Paste Wax - Clear.)

I already have a set of press back chairs I've owned for many years.  They are painted red.

Here is a close up of how the table edge turned out.

My new press back chairs are all going to be painted gray.  The pressed areas are under-painted with the blue and lightly sanded.

The stain color for the top of the table fits perfectly with my dark hutch.

I think the new chairs painted gray will lighten the look of the kitchen...only 4 more to go!

I have several before and after projects I'll show you next. 

Till tomorrow...

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Mock Strawberry-Fig Preserves

I have been off work for several days now (all celebrating the 4th of July, of course!)

Peter and I were able to complete several projects that have been on my 'to do' list for months!  I'll show some of the other projects this week, but for today...we'll make preserves!

Figs are ready and unless I pick them everyday, "The Devil" (Mr. Mockingbird) will poke his beak into each and everyone of them...take only one poke, then move on to the next ripe one.

Ashley also got figs from the farm where she is working, so we had plenty of figs to use for our preserve making time.

First, gather the supplies:  figs, strawberry jello, sugar, wax and our sterilized jars.

Begin the process by washing the figs and removing the stems.  Once clean, mash them up (skin and all.)

Lauren manned adding the strawberry jello

and the sugar.  She used her math skills (fractions) to keep track of how much sugar she needed each time we added 3 cups of figs.

Stir the figs, sugar and strawberry jello together and mix it well.  Once it comes to a boil, cook for 3 to 5 minutes.

The jars are ready for the hot, sweet mixture.

Our jars were sealed with paraffin wax and when cool we'll add the lids to the jars and they're ready to take to the Farmer's Market.  Ashley has been manning the booth at the Greenville Farmers Market on Saturday' she'll have some sweet treats for next Saturday!

Once we completed our project Ashley decided we "needed" to see how big a hole we'll need to knock in her kitchen wall.  (She's been on a burn since completing the Chicken Coop to get the wall knocked down between the kitchen and their living room.)

Lauren took the first swing at the wall and knocked the hole in the sheet rock.  She was pretty excited!

Nice hole...maybe we need a bigger hole to peek into the next room.

Now we can see the other room... 

I'm sure now that the hole is there, by the time I come back out to the farm the sheet rock will be down on both sides of the wall!  (Notice when she painted her kitchen she did not paint the middle of the wall...all her plan to make sure there would be a doorway eventually!)

Till tomorrow...

P.S.  Here is the complete recipe for the Fig Preserves (Thanks Mom!)

Mock Strawberry Jam made with Figs
3 cups figs, mashed and crushed well (using skin and all)
2 1/2 cups sugar
2 (3 oz.) pkg. strawberry Jell-O

Wash figs. Cut off stems. Mash/crush completely. Place mashed figs, Jell-O and sugar in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Boil for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

Pour quickly into sterilized jars. Seal immediately or cover immediately with melted paraffin