Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Homemade Pecan Toffee

Okay, I decided to do some "cooking together" activities with the kiddos...that's always festive and promotes bonding...right???  Well, since kids like candy I went with Pecan Toffee.  My taste testers told me that it was Ggrrreat! (Tony the Tiger...back in the day).  Ok...anyway, the recipe is super simple and I think it makes a great gift or compliment to a gift if wrapped in celophane with a pretty bow.  If you get your hands on a few holiday tins that would be even better.

Here's the recipe:

Homemade Pecan Toffee

1 cup sugar

1/2 lb (2 cubes) butter or margarine

2 T. water

1/2 bag milk chocolate chips

Crushed pecans

Cook sugar, butter, and water over medium-high heat stirring constantly until golden brown.  Make sure you use a metal or wooden spoon, a plastic one would melt in your candy.  Once the color is perfect, quickly pour onto an ungreased cookie sheet. While hot, sprinkle chocolate chips on top of candy.  Once the chocolate begins to soften, spead it around with a knife and sprinkle crushed pecans on top.  Let it cool ( I let mine hang out for about 4 hours) Then break into small pieces.  You can also refrigerate to minimize the chocolate melting when you're handling it for packaging.


Let me know what you think;)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Holiday Traditions

When I was growing up Christmas was the Cadillac of holidays. My mom went all out, even when we had very little money. I remember that she use to start Christmas Clubs at the local bank just to have enough money to buy all the things she needed to make our Christmas perfect. We bought "real" trees and decorated them, planned and cooked a huge menu, bought oranges and nuts...oh and lots of Christmas candy. She played Christmas music for about a month and a half. She put up lights on the windows and doors, and bought big wreaths to hang every where. On the big day, we would come downstairs to what seemed like hundreds of gifts. We would tear open gifts with our names on them and revel at all the toys we'd dreamed of having the whole year long. My mom would sit back in what I can only describe as heavenly bliss, soaking up the laughter and smiles of happy children. Now that I'm married with kiddos, we do things much differently. We try our best not to get wrapped up in the commercialism of Christmas. My husband and I decided a long time ago not to even put up a tree. As years have gone by, we have taken extravagant vacations during the Christmas holidays and planned scavenger hunts for kids. We buy our kiddos a few gifts, hide them around the house, and give them clues to find presents throughout the day. We also try to put our focus on volunteering and enlightening them on social issues. Even though this is our way of teaching our kids that Christmas is a spiritual and giving notion, it feels like something is missing. Recently, I found myself missing many of the old traditions of the holidays the way that I grew up. I've been thinking about how sad I seem to have become the past few years during Christmas. I decide to take action this year and find some simple things to incorporate as a part of our holiday traditions. Here are some of the small things we could do each day for the week of Christmas:
  • Making hot chocolate and homemade marshmallows
  • Making homemade gifts
  • Holiday movies
  • Baking cookies
  • Making homemade candies
  • Christmas music
  • Holiday Brunch (the weekend before Christmas)
  • Christmas music
  • Christmas Eve all day appetizers (I borrowed this idea from another family)

I wonder what my kiddos will remember about the holidays when they grow up. Will there be anything that they cherished and perhaps will want to incorporate into their own family celebrations? Well, I accomplished the Holiday brunch today and the family loved it! I tried a recipe for a Apple Maple Breakfast Bundt from Johnsville (you gotta try this one). Mine didn't turn out quite like the pic on their website but it was good enough and it taste great!

I would love to hear what other people's favorite holiday traditions are:)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Did You Hear About The Morgans?

I absolutely love going to the movies, I LOVE going to the movies even more when it's free! Tonight I went to see the preview of "Did You Hear About The Morgans?" Featuring Hugh Grant as Paul Morgan, and Sarah Jessica Parker as Meryl Morgan. I was excited to see the movie, as I love romantic comedy's. I've been keeping my eye on the clips and anticipating the movie by the day.
The Movie begins in the posh city of New York, where Meryl and Paul are having some marital issues (to put it lightly). Meryl is in the real estate business and doing very well for herself. I immediately thought of that "independent woman" song by Beyonce' when witnessing this woman's lifestyle. Meryl would definitely be considered a Diva by my standards. Anyway, the estranged couple agrees to see each other, when the weirdest thing happens... they witness a murder. Now they find themselves caught in a whirlwind of FBI Marshall's and whisked away to the Witness Protection program. Real Estate Guru, Meryl, is now faced with the question of how she is suppose to run her successful business in a witness protection program. If that's not enough she's stuck with her husband who she, to put it in her words, "can't commit to spending the rest of her life with." Hummm...I might be crazy, but isn't that what you do when you get married??? That was my favorite line by the way:) Long story short...They are taken to some G-forsaken country town in Wyoming, where they're placed under the watchful eyes of Clay and Emma Wheeler (played by Sam Elliott and Mary Lawrence). Sam Elliott is soooo sexy by the way...I just thought I'd put it out there. The couple is now forced to face some of the underlying issues that have distressed their marriage. They even pick up a couple of useful skills along the way. In the end...well, I guess you'll have to see the movie to find out.
Now for my personal take on the movie. I enjoyed the movie and even found myself laughing a few times. However, it wasn't one of those movies that I would have to jump on Facebook and tell all of my friends and family to run out and see. I should also factor in the fact that I haven't been to the movies in a month so..... Anyway, I thought that Hugh Grant's humor was characteristically sarcastic, which is why I love his humor. At times though it seemed inappropriate and a bit over-killed (used too much). I loved the funny little antics that arose simply from Sarah Jessica Parker being out of place in her new country setting. It made the movie seem more realistic. There was the debate of whether one should expect everything from their partner or not, with regard to happiness, weaved throughout the movie. I found myself thinking about this on a deeper note. I think that married folks might appreciate this bit of intellectual stimulation with their popcorn. The jury is still out on this debate with me. Also, I thought the plot was very predictable and there weren't any surprises, but that's most romantic comedy's. I just like to have a pleasant surprise once in a while. Overall, it's an okay movie. It's one of those that I'd probably just wait until it came out on DVD to see...and maybe even wait to get it from the Redbox;)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Joys of the Holiday Season

I think I may be putting a few posts up today just because I'm looking for the best last minute deals. As I find them, I'll update them. Of course, this is my idea of the best deals...that doesn't mean they are the best ones for everybody. The first one is the free shipping day extravanga going on tomorrow, Thursday Dec. 17th. You can find all of the participating merchants at Free Shipping Day.com . Don't forget that you can find many of the merchants through your favorite "cash back" sites, Ebates or Shop at Home.

Redbox Free Rental Update

Ok, I ran out and tried the code at my nearest Redbox and it worked! I'm so happy...I've been wanting to see that Julie & Julia movie for a while now but my husband wouldn't take me (he said it was TOO much of a chick flick for him). That's ok because I have it now and the best part is if I hate it, it didn't cost me a dime;) Oh yeah...here's how it works. Just go to the Redbox Rental Box and hit the "Rent Movie" button. Choose your movie. Hit the "Promo Code" button at the bottom of the screen and type in ACME26 when prompted. If you're only getting your free movie then hit the "Checkout" button at the bottom of the screen. The amount of the movie will be credited on the "Checkout" screen. Then you'll need to swipe your credit card (this is in case you keep the movie for more than one day). Wha laa...free movie for a day! Thanks Freebie Blogger:) Please let me know if anyone had problems with the code.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Free Redbox Rental Code!!!

I'm going to keep this short and sweet today...There's a Redbox rental code for a free movie floating out there. The word on the street is that it's ACME26. My source tells me that the code seems to work at most of the Redboxes and that she doesn't know the expiration date for the code. I'm going to run to the Redbox near me to try it now. I'll let you know if it works;)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Santa Claus is Coming...

Disney family.com is offering a free personalized message from Santa himself for your kiddos to enjoy. You'll get to put them on Santa's nice list and see a photo of your child on Santa's PC. It's really cool and easy to do. All you have to do is: 1. Register for free with Disney Family.com 2. Type in your child's first name 3. Upload a Photo Whalaaa...you're done and the video is super cute. You can even email it to friends or share it on your favorite social network. Try it and let me know what you think! Another awesome site is Northpole.com, this site allows for some real interaction at the Northpole for your kiddos. They can write letters to Santa and get a response in their very own mailbox. Watch movies, listen to music and stories with Santa, and even answer questions to see if they are on the naughty or nice list. There's tons of stuff for the kiddos to do. For us parents, we can check out the toy shop and get links to a slew of deals through Amazon.com. It's awesome and free. Click here to check it out. Let me know what you think about this site as well.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Have you signed up for your Swagbucks yet? If not, what the heck are you waiting for??? I absolutely love this program because I love getting rewarded for stuff I'm going to do anyway. Win gift cards and any number of other prizes just for searching the web as you normally would do. Right now Swagbucks.com is running their Gift Card Swagananza, which is basically a huge discount off a specific gift card each day until the end of the year. Today is day 13 of the Swaganaza and the gift card of the day is from Restaurant.com. You can purchase a $25.00 gift card from Restaurant.com for only 30 swagbucks...and I actually have enough (cool)! Hurry if you want this deal though, it's gone after 11:00am pst. Tomorrow is a new card and I can't wait to find out what it will be;) If you didn't click on the Swagbucks link above to join, then here's a more obvious approach...just click here!