Helpful Things

Sunday, November 25, 2012

We've Moved!

Hey, kiddos. If you're on the lookout for us this year, we're now located on Wordpress! Visit us and stay tuned for another broke Christmas! Fantastic, daaaahling.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

No-Bake Ginger Snap Rum Amazeballs

I found a recipe on a blog I follow for gluten-free no-bake rum balls. This is fairly exciting--alcohol goodies? Say no more, we're going shopping! So we did. We discovered on our grocery adventure that Louisville has a new Trader Joe's. This led to cheaper pecans an ounce, my favorite pfeffernusse, and triple ginger snaps.

While we shopped, we realized an opportunity for expansion. We came home, printed out the recipe, and began our cooking experiment. It took some dabbling, but we are pleased to offer for your inebriated gastronomical pleasure the following recipe.

Here are your ingredients:
3 cups of Trader Joe's Triple Ginger Snaps (they are not vegan, but they are kosher!), ground finely
1 cup confectioner's sugar, sifted
1 cup roasted salted pecans, chopped, then ground finely
1/2 tsp cinnamon
4 tbsp cocoa
3 tbsp dark Karo corn syrup
1/2 cup Sailor Jerry spiced rum

Beginning with the dry ingredients:
Using a nonreactive (i.e. plastic, ceramic, or glass) mixing bowl, combine ginger snaps, pecans, cinnamon, and cocoa. Sift your confectioner's sugar into the bowl so that the sugar does not clump. Blend with a whisk.

Moving to your wet ingredients:
Dissolve the Karo corn syrup in the 1/2 cup of Sailor Jerry. This will help incorporate the syrup into the batter more easily, and keep the batter from clumping. Add this to the batter and mix it all up. It should smell like a raging hangover.

Place plastic wrap over the stuff and place into fridge to cool for an hour.

Make some snowflakes or something.

Right around when your hour is up, set up a workstation. Line a cookie sheet with parchment or wax paper. Bring out a bowl and sift about 1/2 to 3/4 cups of confectioner's sugar into it. Be sure to drop sugar everywhere.

Bring out the bowl of batter, dust your hands with sugar, and begin rolling balls, placing them on the cookie sheet. Forming 1" diameter balls will yield a tray of 36-38. Keep your hands sugared to keep the batter from sticking to you, and when you're finished, place the tray of amazeballs back into the fridge to firm up for a little longer. Miz Wigington suggests that the longer they sit in the cold, the less gooey and drippy they'll be.

There you have it! Our recipe for Ginger Snap Rum Amazeballs. Be sure to check out Miz Wigington's link at the top there for her gluten-free alternative if you have such dietary concerns. Otherwise let's go get drunk.

EDIT: These are super boozy. You may want to add more Karo or use less rum if you are using a high-proof rum as we did.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Guest Post -- Amber Grace's Book Tree

Bill: Whoa, Ted, check it out.
Ted: What? What is it?
Bill: This bodacious babe just came over to guest blog about her most excellent and finely crafted Christmas tree.
Ted: Totally awesome! Does it have chicks in it?
Bill: Read on, dude, let's find out.

Christmas was my father's favorite time of year. He was all about decorating, hanging the lights, all of it. Even after he passed away, my mother kept up some of his traditions. The most important to me was the Christmas tree. Every year, the day after Thanksgiving, the tree would be put up. I'd like to say that we'd spend a fun filled evening decorating it and having a family moment, but that's just not true. My mother would spend days getting it just right. It was the only decorating we ever did in our home and it was important. Christmas wasn't Christmas without a tree. One year, we even had two!

Eighteen months ago, I moved away from my family to join my husband after he joined the US Army. This past year was the first time I'd ever celebrated Christmas without them. Let me just say, right now, Christmas is a crazy maker. I went nuts. We thought about buying an artificial tree but decided against it. In fact, we weren't even going to get one until we drove past the tree stand just outside the Post Exchange and saw the most adorable little trees imaginable. We don't have children and neither of us are very big on gift giving so a tree wasn't necessary, but I was seized with such a strong sense of purpose that he agreed, almost immediately, to let me have my way.

Thus began several weeks of outrageous spending on my part. My husband, bless him, only complained two or three times a day about it and I knew that it was out of hand. Our tree was lovely, if dead, all through Christmas time and I wouldn't change that experience for the world. However, I vowed that I wouldn't do it again this year. In fact, I told myself as I attempted to vacuum up pine needles for the 4th time, I wouldn't even have a tree next year.

I almost kept my word. Until roughly three days ago, my house was completely decoration free. I was basking in the non-stress of it all, then a friend of mine shared a picture that had gone viral of a Book Tree. A Book Tree! Suddenly, that sense of holiday spirit and absolute purpose seized me by the throat. I waited impatiently for the other half of this decision making machine to come home and suggested it. He thought it was brilliant!

What could be better? A tree that's made out of something we both love so much, something that defines us as people and shows the world, and ourselves, a little something about us. Cue a frenzy of book gathering, large books for the base and successively smaller books and arranged them in a big spiral. Fiction, nonfiction, religious books. Even a few books named after a certain time of day to represent how disgusted with myself I was.

Though we didn't use all of our collection, not even half, we decided to shore up the center with a couple of small empty boxes. I apologize now that I didn't get any photos of it. I honestly didn't think about it. Then it was time for lights! I simply wrapped two strings around and topped the entire thing with pom poms and crocheted snowflakes.

Why pom poms you ask? Because I have two very inquisitive cats, and though I had unbreakable bulbs last year it was a nightmare. This way if they pulled one down to play with it, I wouldn't have to worry about them ingesting a bucket load of glitter.

While I can't take credit for the original idea, I have no idea who first did it, I can wholeheartedly get behind the idea. It's beautiful, unique and most importantly free! How can you argue with that?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Uh Hi

Ehhhn, I'm sorry. I've been neglectful and avoiding and oh-my-god-my-hands-have-been-knitted-nearly-into-bits. I get into phases where I am wholly consumed by the want to knit all the things, and I start sorting through the stash yarn with masochistic glee. Can I knit that? No, I can't knit that, that is being saved. Can't knit that, there's not enough of that, but I can swatch it for later. MUST knit this, it has been waiting for something but I can't knit it now because I don't want to give it away. Ugh, screw it, I have to go get more yarn.

That is how Syd and I ended up at Michael's again. She needed to buy umber paints for a portrait she was commissioned to make and I needed to not zoom around like a child and put things in her basket. So I followed her to the paint aisle and nodded and smiled when she showed me her earth tones, and then she led us to the yarn aisle, which was dangerous. I went straight to the sock yarn.

You see, I have recently upgraded my knitting skill by +9. I have learned to knit in the round.

And therefore I have completely eradicated the need to seam or purl in stockinette stitch ever again. This is so much joyful I don't even.

Knitting jargon aside this has jump-started my ability to knit complex projects--and knit with sock yarn! This is like the coolest thing ever. Ever since Syd started hoarding sock yarn skein after sock yarn skein I have been salivating and wringing my greedy little hands over all of the colors. Sometimes I go pet the Malabrigo. I can't help myself.

Now I can knit in a small gauge and the world of cabled knitting projects has suddenly been open to me. I am enlightened. I have arrived at Knitting Valhalla.

So my Christmas present list has suddenly gotten very long. I hate that I decided to do this to myself two weeks from Christmas. During a project I'm already trying to keep up with but avoiding because I haven't actually made the crafty thing I was supposed to make because of yarn. Oh the yarn.

However, there is a bright side: a very good friend of mine has offered to save my lazy ass by writing a guest post about her Most Awesome Christmas Tree. I am really excited to see it, and I hope you are, too. All 8 of you.

For now, please enjoy a complimentary video of Mormons looking like Mormons:

Also: I discovered this while uploading pics of my decorated Christmas tree up at the blog's Facebook page (which you should like if you haven't yet, Scrooge)...