Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Come with me...

The fruit trees have begun to bloom
their sweet, sweet fragrance floats through the neighborhood
on warm spring breezes

What could be more beautiful?

flowering peach trees

flowering peach trees

Have I mentioned that I love spring in Texas?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

thoughts of spring

While it may not feel like spring yet for many of my readers in different parts of the country and world, it certainly is beginning to feel like spring here! Flowers are popping up, the grass is bright green, and after yesterday's rain everything just smells so fresh and earthy. I'm loving it!

Doesn't spring just make you feel good? Like you could do anything?

It makes me feel like taking on projects and cleaning and baking and breathing it all in.

*happy sigh*

hellebores... the first sign of spring!

Hubby and I have been working in the yard today and it makes me want to go buy plants and flowers already! I can drop money at the greenhouse like nobody's business. Keeping everything alive afterwards... well, that's another story. I blame it on the relentless summer heat. Yep. It's the weather's fault. :)

Last summer was hard on our plants and I'm going to try to make an effort to pick out plants that can handle the crazy hot summers we get here. Like my strawberries, for example. When we moved from Indiana, I brought my strawberries in my pretty red strawberry pot in the trunk of my car. The were all leafy and healthy and if I had been smart, I would have left them with my friend in Indiana. But I was stubborn, and I wanted to keep them... and they died within a week. When we went to the greenhouse last year, I looked longingly at the strawberry plants... and the lady there explained that this variety of strawberries could tolerate the Texas heat. I was sold! I filled my pot right back up with sweet little berry plants. Last summer was a beast, though, and many of them died. But some are already coming back... and I'm confident that if I nurse them back to health, I will have my own fresh strawberries soon! Stay tuned...

How's the weather in your area? Any signs of spring?

my strawberries are still alive!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

loving where I'm at

Ever since moving to Texas, I have struggled. Are we in the right place? Is this what we are supposed to be doing? Why does it just not yet feel quite right?

How does one know when it is "right"? Should we keep looking for something better... or be content where we are? There is much to be said for living in the moment, but for a future-focused, goal-oriented person, it can sometimes be hard to just be happy in the now.


I found a quote a few weeks ago on Pinterest that really resonated with me:

You may think the grass is greener on the other side.
But if you take the time to water your own grass, it would be just as green.

True that.

It made me realize (certainly not for the first time, but reminders are good) that life is what we make of it.

If we want to be happier, we need to do things to make ourselves be happier.

I need to get out and do things with friends... I often say no to social activities because I'm more of a stay-at-home type of person, but afterwards I'm always happy that I went.

I need to spend more time improving our house and yard. Thirty minutes or an hour of yardwork here and there can make a huge difference. And while it's not always fun at the time, it does get me some fresh air and it is oh-so-satisfying when it's finished.

I need to do more fun things with my husband... go for a walk, run to the store, play wii... anything to spend a little more time together.

Taking these thoughts to heart, I had a couple co-workers over this weekend for a cookie decorating party. We went out to eat, then we came home and decorated valentine's cookies and drank cosmos. We used the glace icing recipe I found on Our Best Bites and it was just lovely to work with. It was really more of a time-consuming project than regular frosting, but that was just what we needed. We listened to music and talked and laughed and lived in the moment.

And it was good.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

7. Learn how to make sponge candy

Sponge candy, or seafoam candy as it is also known, has been a favorite of my mother's for about forever. It is an old-fashioned candy and is hard to find at stores, but my mom likes to buy it whenever she sees it. Because of its rarity (and its unique melt-in-your-mouth texture) it has always felt special to me, so I have learned to love it too.

My mom always told me that growing up, her and her sisters used to make sponge candy and that she still had the recipe. I've always thought it would be fun to make it with my mom... what better reason to add it to my 30 before 30 list?

homemade sponge candy seafoam candy

So we found the faded recipe in my mom's recipe box and we discovered that the candy is actually very easy to make! It only requires 4 ingredients... well, plus chocolate... so I guess that's 5 ingredients!

Even though candy can sometimes be a bit intimidating to make, don't be intimidated by this recipe! You will need a candy thermometer to make sure you heat the ingredients to the right temperature, but it's really not too fussy at all. Plus it took less than 10 minutes of stirring to get the mixture up to temperature.

homemade sponge candy seafoam candy

These turned out perfect. Just like we hoped.

A sweet, caramelized sugar flavor that just melts in your mouth. Yum.

The only change I would make to the recipe is in regards to the chocolate. We poured the chocolate on top of the candy mixture after it had cooled in the pan. It seemed fine at first, but when we began breaking the candy up into small pieces, much of the chocolate popped off and separated from the candy. Next time, I intend to break the candy up into bite-sized pieces first. Then I will dip them each in chocolate and let them harden on a piece of parchment. But despite the chocolate-falling-off problem, these were still delicious.

And a wonderful way to spend an afternoon with my ever-so-sweet mother. :)

P.S. Wouldn't this be so cute packaged up for Valentine's Day??

homemade sponge candy seafoam candy

Seafoam Candy / Sponge Candy
1 cup sugar
1 cup white syrup (light corn syrup)
1 tablespoon vinegar
3/4 tablespoon baking soda

Boil the sugar, syrup and vinegar to 300 degrees F or hard-crack stage, stirring constantly. Take off burner and stir in 3/4 tablespoon soda. Stir well. Pour into buttered pan (or line with parchment paper for even easier removal) and after cool, coat with melted chocolate. (Or, break into bite sized pieces and then dip in melted chocolate.)

30 before 30