Salted Bourbon Caramels

img_6592I completely expected to write this post about how making caramel for the first time was a spectacular failure. That’s what I want for this blog – not just the beauty shots and wins, but the epic messes, the dropped cupcakes. But apparently I’m getting better at this cooking thing, because these caramels came out pretty close to perfect as far as I can tell (and I taste tested a LOT).  Continue reading “Salted Bourbon Caramels”

I QUIT…….the fitness challenge

To quote my dear friend, Gina, “um, what?”

You didn’t read the title wrong. I did. I quit! But don’t think me a quitter. Yes, I’ve quit things in the past. Haven’t we all? Viola – 2 years. Girl Scouts – I’m sure I only finished a year because my mom paid the fees already. The gym – yeah, but only because I saw the skeevy owner canoodling in the gym with a girl who wasn’t his fiancé!

Back to the point – I quit. And not because I couldn’t hack it – I quit because the challenge wasn’t working for me. If you remember, the fitness challenge was 6 weeks no added sugar, no booze, and a bunch of other healthy crap. The husband and I even agreed to cheat days for our sanity. Here’s my issue – the guy who started it boasted excellent results. He lost pounds; he lost inches, and got stronger. Great! I applaud him.

So we’ve done, what three weeks? I’m exercising more, sleeping more, and eating more veggies. I’m taking fish oil pills the size of my pinky. And yet, I gained weight!! I felt way tired, though I’m sure that’s because of 2 allergy attacks, two sick kids, one house crisis, 2 parties and a quick weekend back east.

Making so many things off-limits made me crave them even more (yes, I knew it would be difficult; it’s called a challenge, folks!) and I already crave things like a pregnant lady! On our cheat days, I went nutso. I’m really not exaggerating. Over the weekend, I’m sure I consumed more cake and alcohol than the healthy stuff. It’s as if because I denied myself, when I did allow it, I went all out and gorged myself. It wasn’t pretty.

I’m sure this type of thing works for lots of people. There are a million view points on how to get fit, lose weight, live till we’re old, blah blah. Apparently there’s even a faction who doesn’t think moderation is a good plan. What? Did that blow your mind too??

All I know is this challenge did not work for me. Quite the opposite really – I found myself day dreaming about wine, even though we don’t drink daily and I usually drink bourbon. Suddenly I couldn’t have it and I wanted it every day. And then I’d think: I am NOT an alcoholic! I just want what I can’t have! It also applied to English muffins, taco sauce, and other random things that shouldn’t have sugar, but do.

Then I talked to a friend about it. Trying to cut out sugar and booze didn’t work for her either. Oh thank goodness, I’m not alone in this. So that gave me the nudge I needed to quit without feeling like a quitter. That may not make sense now, but as you get to know me, it will. I promise.

Now, I’ll leave you to it. Me? I’m gonna have myself a little bourbon.

Bubble Bar

Blargh. I so wanted to get this post published last week! But the basement flooded and both kids got sick. Then we flew home for a bridal shower. No pity party, just my lamenting on how I should’ve gotten this posted sooner.

My favorite part of throwing a bubble party is the double entendre – for the kids it means a bubble machine and a variety of bubble activities. For the grownups: copious amounts of sparkling beverages!

I’m not nearly ready for those kid parties where the parents leave, so I always try to make our parties fun for the adults too! Taking my own twist on the various Mimosa Bars you’ve no doubt seen out there, I set out to make my own Bubble Bar for the big’s birthday party. I picked up a random selection of sparkling wine, moscato and prosecco for the over 21 crowd. For the youngsters, or anyone else not drinking, I had an array of Aquafina Sparkling Water and Izze. To punch things up, a few days before the party, I made fruit mixers so guests could personalize their drinks. I didn’t want to have too many options so I focused on mimosa (orange juice), Bellini (pureed peaches), or berry breeze (strawberry or pomegranate berry puree and yes I made up that name as I typed out the words!).  I wanted to have skewers with coordinating fruit chunks, but this time of year it’s difficult to have all those fruits available fresh. But the possibilities are endless! Hell, my girlfriend and I ate sipped bubbles with frozen mango chunks as we did our final party prep! Bubbles and a serving of fruit to boot!

I had organized everything very sweetly on a great little rolling cart, but alas, it wasn’t very functional. I couldn’t fit all booze and supplies! And, you know, two toddlers with access to glass is just a bad idea. Glass you say? In addition to the bottles, I keep a stash of IKEA champagne glasses for entertaining. It’s a nice upgrade from our college era red cups and they’re SO affordable – a dollar a piece! – breakage isn’t a big deal (for the record, I’ve done this for 9 years now and I think we’ve only broken 2). For the kiddos, I found paper cups and straws with pale dots, aka bubbles, and one impulse buy – plastic cups that supposedly look like crystal. They did not look like crystal, they’re not so eco-friendly, but I did my best. Oh yeah – check out these disposable spoons – now THAT’S eco!

Bubbles Bar - drinkers on the left, non drinkers on the right
Bubbles Bar – drinkers on the left, non drinkers on the right

Hmm, what else did I do for the bar? See, this is why I really needed to post this last week!! Maybe it’ll come to me. Maybe not. I did enjoy an awful lot of those bubbles that day!