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Archive for June, 2013

On The Road Again

It’s time to hit the road.  A familiar road, yes, but always exciting.  It leads to cold water and warm breezes, friendly faces, and best of all, locally made wine.

I’ll leave the wretched day job behind me and look out to the sunset, toasting all that is good in my life.  Cheers.

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Wordless Wednesday

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It was an awful day. The kind of day Mondays are made of. The weather was hot and humid, which did a number on my hair. No amount of conditioner and “curl enhancing lotion” would keep it down. Oh, it was curly instead of frizzy but before long the curls started standing up, making me look like the Screaming Banshee.

Then our card keys ceased to perform their duties. I had to pee something fierce, but didn’t want to be locked out of the office. Of course security is so tight around here the idea of propping the door open until the problem was fixed was preposterous.

The card key situation was fixed relatively quickly, but then I found out the air conditioning wasn’t working on our floor of the building. What are the chances of it working on all other floors but mine? Hot outside, hot inside. And I had a long-sleeved top on because when the air conditioning is on it’s usually a frigid 60 degrees or so.

The hellfire that was my office.

And because there was no air conditioning, there was no air, period.  And the humidity began to creep in, making my hair stand up even more.  The wet air also caused all business papers to curl beyond recognition.

As I sat sweating in my chair trying to look business-like my left eye developed what appeared to be TV snow. I was pretty sure I was having a stroke, but it turned out to be merely a migraine. Hot, big hair, and now a splitting headache. Such a lovely day at the office.

Not Wigbert. I don’t post pictures of pets I know to protect them from petophiles.

The day ended okay though.  When I got home I took some pain meds for my headache and got right to work doing some laundry and ironing.  I know!  Ironing?!  Who does that anymore?  Then our nephew Fojo came over to pick up his beloved hamster Wigbert, for whom we had been pet-sitting for the past five days.  Fojo told us all sorts of stories about the fabulous fishing trip he had taken while we got to know Wigbert for a week.

All’s well that ends well.  Today things are back to normal.  My hair is curly, but not on end and my head hasn’t throbbed once.  The papers are less curly and easier to handle I can use my card key at will..  The icy drafts of resumed air conditioning are causing my fingers to stiffen once again.

Not me, but she has the right idea.

What will the rest of the week bring?

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There’s some busy excitement at the Auntie B’s Wax World Headquarters these days. I’ve been bustling around restocking inventory after a lucrative show last weekend ~ creating and packaging more product for the upcoming show next weekend. Husby and I are looking forward to this show because we get to make a five-day weekend of it in our beloved Door County.

That’s right, the Olde Ellison Bay Days is nearly upon us and I have lots to do to prepare. Not only do I have to get my wares ready, I also have to get myself ready because we’re expecting a very special guest at the festivities. When I received confirmation of my booth space at the craft show I was informed that the Grand Marshal of the Olde Ellison Bay Days parade will be none other than Mr. Tony Shalhoub!   (Miss Elizabeth Rose, maybe you want to rethink your plans for next weekend as I know you’ve been wanting to get in touch with Tony regarding your book.)

Tony Shalhoub in Big Night

I got a haircut this week and I’m going to do all of my ironing today so I’ll have something cute to wear, just in case Tony Shalhoub looks at me. I wouldn’t want to appear too scary or unkempt.

Tony Shalhoub in Wings

We know he’s going to be the Grand Marshal of the parade, but will he take part in the other festivities too? Like, maybe he’ll want to wander around the park and see what the artists have to offer. OMG, is it possible that Tony Shalhoub might come into my booth and actually sniff one of my candles?!

Tony Shalhoub in Men In Black

I think he’d be more inclined to look at my magnets. He’ll stand in front of the frame and read each one, slowly and deliberately, and genuinely laugh. How should I behave if he spends any amount of time at my booth? Should I gush and tell him how much I love his work, or him personally? Should I insist on taking his picture, or better yet having someone take a picture of me, Husby, and Tony by the booth banner? Should I just act nonchalant and pretend like he’s a regular customer? (If that’s the case he’d certainly get friendly service, but probably not be asked for a picture or autograph.) Then the biggest question is, if he wanted something from my booth should I make him pay for it or just give it to him with my star-struck compliments?

Tony Shalhoub as Adrian Monk in Monk

Then, because my magnets are so charming and funny and because my new haircut is so cute and my clothes are so neatly pressed he’ll strike up a conversation with me and Husby. He’ll find us refreshingly real and amusing, and will invite us to dine with him and his wife that evening.

Tony Shalhoub in Feed The Fish (filmed in Ellison Bay)

We’ll have cocktails on the balcony and watch the sun set over Green Bay and linger over a delightful meal of Lake Michigan white fish. Tony and his wife will be so happy to have met us we’ll all be BFFs.

*Snapping out of it*

OK, I realize none of that will probably happen, except that he might actually see me as I waive and scream at him from the side of the road as he processes down the street with the parade. It’s fun to imagine what could happen, though.

If you’re in the Ellison Bay area be sure to stop by the craft show in Ellison Bay Beach Park. You might just spot a star, even if it’s only me.

The handsome and talented Tony Shalhoub

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Sandalwood is known for its calming properties, is deeply grounding, and useful for chakra work.  The fragrance instills inner peace and is helpful in cases of stress, depression, and low self-esteem.  It’s also been considered an aphrodesiac.

That’s all very mystical and spiritual (and also a little sexy, I guess) but the thing I like best about sandalwood is that it smells really good.  Of the “earthy” scents it’s my favorite, and it seems to be a favorite of my customers too.  Lucky for you I have two in my Etsy shop.

Asian Sandalwood candle made from all-natural palm wax in a beautiful blue. Click the pic to transport to the listing in my Etsy shop.

Another Asian Sandalwood candle made of all-natural palm wax ~ this time in an earthy green. Again, click the pic to fly directly to the listing in my Etsy shop.

Check out more all-natural palm wax candles in a variety of colors and fragrances in my shop.  If you’re interested in more of something or something completely different, let me know and I’ll do my best to create a custom candle, or set of candles, for you.

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Wordless Wednesday

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You know how you go on Pinterest and pin all these decorating ideas, DIY projects, and most of all, recipes?  I’m not huge on the Pinterest scene, but I pinned something a while back and finally decided to try it.  The Salted Caramel Cheesecake.  It got a lot of attention on Pinterest and I think the comments to the original post (published in 2011) have been closed, so I thought I’d post my comment here.

I was a little afraid of this at first because quite frankly the amount of salt in the original recipe is astounding.  I made some adjustments and served the cheesecake at a Father’s Day/Birthday celebration for my mom and dad.  To see the original recipe, click right here.

This photo is credited to The Modern Apron. I forgot to take a picture of my finished product. My caramel didn’t have the deep brown color as this one because I was afraid of scorching it. It was still very tasty though.

Here’s how I made the cheesecake:

Crust

15 graham crackers
3 Tbsp sugar
1 stick butter, melted

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place crackers in a plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin until they turn into fine crumbs. Put crumbs into a medium bowl. (I crushed half the crumbs in the bag, emptied into a bowl, then did the same to the second half of the crackers.) Add sugar and butter to cracker crumbs and mix until all are combined and the mixture is crumbly.

2. Transfer the mixture to a 10” springform pan sprayed with cooking spray. Pat crumb mixture into the bottom of the pan, and up the sides about 2”.

3. Bake crust until slightly brown, about 8-10 minutes. Remove crust from the oven and allow to cool completely on a rack.

Cheesecake

3 8-oz packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 14-oz can dulce de leche*
2 Tbsp flour
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, room temperature

* Apparently you can find dulce de leche in the Latin section of the grocery store.  I couldn’t find it in my neighborhood store, so I made it myself.  Empty one 14-oz can of sweetened condensed milk into a double boiler and cook over simmering water for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.  It will turn darker, thick and caramely.  Whisk it smooth and let cool a bit before using it in the cheesecake recipe.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

1.  In a stand mixer beat the cream cheese until smooth.  Add dulce de leche and beat to combine.

2.  Add flour and beat to combine, scraping sides when necessary.  Beat until smooth and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  There should be no lumps.

3.  Add sugar and beat to combine.

4.  Add vanilla and combine.  Then add eggs one at a time, combing thoroughly after each.  Don’t overbeat as that will cause the cheesecake to puff up too much and cause the surface to crack.

5.  Pour cream cheese mixture into cooled crust and smooth the top. 

6.  Bake at 300 degrees F for 55-65 minutes.  The center will be a little wiggly, but the edges will be puffed up and have a nice golden color.  Cool completely on a wire rack, then refrigerate for at least 8 hours.  This allows the cheesecake to become the rich denseness it should be.

Caramel

1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 Tbsp water
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp butter
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar and water. Swirl to combine.
 
2. Continue cooking until the sugar turns golden brown, swirling occasionally. You’re looking for something that’s about the color of dark honey.  It should take 3-5 minutes.  Or more.  Keep a close eye on it as caramelizing sugar goes from perfect to ruined in a split second.
 
3. Remove from heat and carefully add the butter, then the cream. Don’t wait until the butter is melted; toss in the butter, give it a whisk, then pour in the cream. It will foam up, seize, and otherwise look like a total failure. Persevere! Add the vanilla extract and salt and continue whisking.
 
4. Return to medium low heat and whisk until smooth. (Added note: if your caramel is too thin, let it cook for a while over a low heat.)  Allow to cool slightly, about 15 minutes.
 
5. Remove cheesecake from the refrigerator and pour caramel over the top, letting it pool in the middle.
 
6. Return the cheesecake to the refrigerator to let the caramel set, about 30 minutes. To serve, cut in slices with a sharp knife.
 
This dessert was a definite challenge but everyone loved it.  The original recipe has many more teaspoons of kosher salt in the crust and in the cheesecake, but I thought the amount of salt in the caramel was enough for the whole cake.  I can’t imagine having more throughout the cake, but if you’d like to try it out, follow the original recipe.
 
I’ll definitely make it again, for a large group, of course.  This cheesecake will serve 12-16 people.  If you decide to try it, I’d love to hear how it turned out and how you liked it.
 
Happy baking!

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