irish i may

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Adventures in Candy

A couple of days ago I made English Toffee. I would show a picture, but I have misplaced my camera! My home is a black hole these days.

It looked beautiful but was a total bust.  It's soft!  I knew as I poured it out that it was not right.  The bummer is that that recipe had  ONE POUND of butter and ONE POUND of chocolate as well as the nuts! Additionally I burned 8 oz of almonds in the oven while I ran to the grocery store for the tortillas that I had forgotten earlier in the day.  AAARRGH. I wish I could have flubbed something cheaper.  I think I know what I messed up, though.  

1.  I changed the recipe: very bad idea when candy making.
2. It was a very humid day and entirely too warm in my kitchen: also bad for candy making.

Back to the drawing board.   I also made peanut butter meltaways following this recipe:

1 cup of peanut butter
8 oz. of white chips
8 oz of semi-sweet chips

Melt all ingredients together in double boiler and then pipe into little candy cups. the microwave also works, if you have one that actually does work, which I don't!

They came out yummy but a little too soft.  Next time I will use less peanut butter. In the meantime, my son has some very happy friends at school.  He brings them samples most every day.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

How Sweet It Is!

Monday  I made my very first batch of caramel, which I yesterday I began to en-robe in chocolate. I am still having some trouble tempering my chocolate, but the caramel received thumbs up from DH, DD, and the DS's.  Here is a picture:

The little pumpkins are solid chocolate with orange confectioner's coating for color.  I have been taking an online course in Chocolate making from Ecole Chocolate.  This was a truly bizarre career move for me, for those of you who know what I did up until about 6 weeks ago.  Still, this was a more or less rational move towards a little dream that Rob and I have had for years, which is owning our own business.

So now I have about 10 days to develop 5 recipes for my next assignment.  A bit daunting, as I have never learned to make candy.

I will continue to post my results over the next several days.  For any local friends who may be reading this, ask me about FREE SAMPLES!! I need taste-testers, after all.  Coming up next will be nougat, various truffle centers and nut brittle.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Halloween Costume Shopping

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

Why are all girls costumes these days slutty nurse, slutty cheerleader, slutty cop, slutty vampire, slutty waitress, etc...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Music and Facebook

Besides just beginning this blog, I also just got on Facebook about a week ago.  My cousin, Martha had been urging (begging, bugging) me to get on for a couple of years:

Me: Oh, I don't have time and I don't know how all that mess works..."

Martha: What? Are you kidding me? Is that your excuse? Are you from the 19th century? Call me on the phone and I'll walk you through it!

Actually, if I had no other friends in the world, I now feel that FB would be worth my time just to keep up with Martha.  We don't see each other very often and it gives me a little window into her and her lovely kids' lives.  Now I just have to post those pictures of my kids...

One little thing that bugged me about FB as I browsed through some old friends' pages, is the part of the Info Profile where you list your favorite music. Folks seem to have such sophisticated taste in music. It seems like a lot of people list as their favorites alternative-sounding bands that I have never heard of. "The Snore Factory", "Jake and Tom", "fanciulo".  I felt a little un-hip reading through some  friends "favorites" and thinking "Who?"

But here is an act that I have now listed as one of my favorites. I just bought these gals album, and it is so beautiful that I get a little teary listing to it.  You will either agree with me or you will agree that I am, truly, un-hip.

The Secret Sisters - Do You Love An Apple (Live Version)

My Considerate Son

This evening as I hustled Pete upstairs for a bath, he ran back down to collect a pile of toy soldiers to play with in the tub. I said to him, "Oh that's too many. don't take them all into the tub."

"It's not too many. Why is it too many?"

"Because then I'm the one who will have to pick then all up myself"

"That's good, Mommy. You need some exercise and the more you move your arms, the more exercise you'll get."

"Thanks for thinking of me, son."

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

College Road Trips

This weekend our beloved Founder, Rob took our oldest, Mia, back to her college, Salve Regina in Newport RI after a weekend visit.    It was a little sad,dropping her off, he thought, to which you will respond, "Why, OF COURSE it was!"  But then, you have not had to live with this girl for the past year. We are actually thankful that we can now be sorry to see her go.

Aside from the typical travails of teenagedom  I truly did not realize that the college search process was going to be such a psychological trial.   We entered a period of detente at some point last fall in which we simply did not speak of the ever closer-looming decision which was going to impact the rest of her life because if I asked even a neutral question about it I was risking a verbal goring.  I made few suggestions about where she ought to apply, but a couple of her chosen schools I had discouraged outright.  In the end, I just let her do whatever she dang well wanted

When the dust settled she had narrowed down her choice to three schools that had accepted her: Ithaca College, Mt. St. Mary's University and Salve Regina University.

Last Spring, on Palm Sunday, I took her to visit Mount Saint Mary's University in Emmittsburg, Maryland.  The Mount is a small school with a lot to recommend it.  It has warm and friendly community, an excellent and orthodox campus ministry, a long history, good academic reputation, and a picturesque location.  She didn't like it.

Her reasons were mostly legitimate.  She wants to study art.  The art department has two faculty members and tiny little studio spaces.   They graduate maybe seven or eight art students a year.  The campus is well outside of "town", such as Emmittsburg is, there is no public transportation and nowhere to walk except the woods.   I felt agreed that the Mount was just not the place for her. 

 That left Salve and Ithaca .  She has heard some discouraging web-reviews about Salve Regina (no bar scene, boring campus life).   Rob and I had not heard much good about Ithaca ("Cornell to wed, Ithaca to bed", welcome to high school part 2).  What we now had, as we had had since the application process began, was a bad case of competing perceptions. What we considered BAD about Ithaca, she considered GOOD.  To summarize what I mean, here is an actual conversation he had with a work collegue who attended Ithaca:

"So what did you think of Ithaca?"
"Oh, man, I loved it.  It was a non-stop party for four years!"

Words to warm a father's heart.

Of course she sensed this  and insisted that we ought to let her choose her own college.  One of her reasons was, "After all, I applied where you wanted me to apply."

What? What???

I will admit that we pressed her somewhat to apply to Mt. St. Mary's.  The application was free, we knew that the Mount had money to offer students, we have  known kids who enjoyed it there, and on top of all those good things it has a strong Catholic identity. What is bad about that? Otherwise, she chose all of them, (however haphazardly, in my opinion).

If you have ever read Harville Hendricks, the marriage therapist,  he writes about how the primary task in relationships is to understand and accept that the other person as other.  That is that they have their own ideas, perceptions and thoughts, and no matter how long you live with someone or how much they love you or you love them, this will never change.  I will always have my own perceptions while the other (Mia) has hers.  She perceived that she was being pressured into a certain college. I perceived that she was being draw toward Ithaca because it was more prestigious than Salve around her high school and, or course,  because she wanted to party.

We never expected her to attend one of the semi-monastic types of Catholic colleges, but Ithaca seemed like it was approaching the Pro-leagues in the Party School Association.  My brother spent a couple of years at a big Florida university like that.  He called it afterward, "Caligula U".  Would she have had the depth and commitment to retain her faith within a totally hostile atmosphere?  Might Ithaca be that atmosphere?

Thank God, we will never know.  Ithaca just didn't come through with the cash like Salve did.Now we are grateful, so grateful, that she seems to have landed in a good place. They have an excellent art program, good academics, a professional and caring administration and this view:
Not bad.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Beginning are Hard...

I am not entirely sure why I decided to start keeping this blog.  I have no confidence that anyone will care about my ideas or life enough to follow.  Many bloggers, I note, self-identify as writers.  How much or how well would I need to write before I could call myself a writer?  After all, I drive, but I wouldn't say I was a driver.  My husband suggested that I think of it as a conversation with the world (something I am good at).   I suppose I should self-identify as a talker, but I don't think I will!
Having a family of a certain size (I hate to say that six is large), living here in NJ, and with my Beloved being a career-long Catholic school teacher, we have always had to do a bit of stretching and bending and twisting to make ends meet. Rob and I call it "the Dance of the Money". Now we may have even less time than money, but what we have we want to live to the fullest, hence, the Dance of the Hours.

Because today is he Feast of the Guardian Angels, it is a good day to 
-teach your children about their Guardian Angels
-bake an Angel's Food cake
I like this prayer to our Guardian Angels because it reminds me of their front line role in Spiritual Warfare:

Prayer to One's Guardian Angel

Dear Angel,
in his goodness God gave you to me to
guide, protect and enlighten me,
and to being me back to the right way when I go astray.
Encourage me when I am disheartened,
and instruct me when I err in my judgment.
Help me to become more Christlike,
and so some day to be accepted into
the company of Angels and Saints in heaven.

I also like this poem by Billy Collins, 

Questions About Angels

Just for Today

The Simple Woman's Daybook
Outside my window... The tropical storm has passed and it finally feels like fall!
I am thinking...  ~about looking for work and chocolate and how these things might fit together...
I am thankful for...  ~coffee with friends who lifted my flagging spirits yesterday and today.
Pondering these words...   I find that doing of the will of God leaves me no time for disputing about His plans. -George MacDonald 
From the kitchen...  ~Jambalaya, Roasted Eggplant Lasagna, cream cheese pound cake, correctly tempered chocolate. All triumphs!
I am wearing...  ~my nightgown. It's late folks.
I am remembering...  ~my mom, Mary Lou Beckett, my she rest in peace. This Monday would be her 85th birthday.
I am get my rear end out of this chair and clean the kitchen...soon.
I am reading... ~Women's World Magazine. No, seriously, its been that kind of week.
I am hearing...~the John Batchelor Show on WABC radio. Link to it here, you wont be sorry.  It is the single best radio show on the air.  Bachelor is conservative, intelligent, informative, and has a great radio voice; he's not a shill for the Republican Party, not paranoid, not obnoxious.  It runs 7 days a week 9pm-1am (like I said, its late).
I am hoping...  ~to get to confession this weekend.
On my mind...  ~how to help our B. overcome her struggles and feel more peaceful with herself and be more successful in school. 
A few plans for the rest of the week...~apple picking, dentist appointments, chocolate school, camping over Columbus Day weekend, we hope.
Around the house...  ~ 5. 5 on the Loia "Dead Animals and Human Waste" scale.
One of my favorite things  ~ Our newly renovated bathroom. First, because it was my husband's handiwork and second, because for the first time in two years we have a bathtub!