Friday, December 31, 2010

Molasses snow candy

I don't know if you are... but we are HUGE little house on the prairie fans!! One of our favorite books is "Little house on the big woods" by Laura Ingalls Wilder. The chapter about winter days and the one about christmas always has us wishing we lived in that time with Laura and Mary, watching pa whittling wood, ma baking delicious cookies, churning butter and being there to help make molasses candy with fresh snow.
We have been wanting to make molasses candy for the last 2 years but every time we remember, the snow has already melted BUT we totally remembered this year!

If you'd like to try to make some, all you need is fresh clean snow...

1 cup of brown sugar
1 cup of molasses
And a candy thermometer .
Boil both ingredients until it reaches 250* degrees (hard ball stage)

Careful ... It is VERY HOT!!!
I poured some in a little jar for easy pouring over the snow.

Wait for it to cool and enjoy!

Molasses candy tastes like molasses... So it will be a bit dark and bitter in taste ... Not like your usual candy. A bit of an acquired taste.

We even got a chance to make pulled molasses candy like in "Farmer boy".

This process was a bit tedious ... Don't think I will do this again. Especially since daddy was the only one who enjoyed it.... As I realized I'm not a huge molasses fan.
But if you would like to try...
You need:

4 tbs of butter
1 cup of brown sugar
1/4 cup of molasses
And extra butter for your hands and for the pan.

You must butter the pan you pour the molasses syrup into (after it reaches 250* hard ball stage) so the molasses does not stick to the pan.

Pour liquid into pan.

When it is cool enough to handle, (about 10 minutes) butter your hands very well to handle the molasses and start the pulling and folding process . It takes a loooooong time!!!

Fun project of today!

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Thursday, December 30, 2010

10 things to do daily

1.Be inspired. Write something read something, make something.

2.Drink lots of water.

3.Share a kiss and a hug.

4.Cook and eat something healthy and nourishing. Share it with loved ones.

5.Communicate with a friend.

6.Tell loved ones how much they are loved.

7.Smile and share a laugh.

8.Take a walk, stretch your body.

9.Be here now in the present moment. There you will find the immenseness of your blessings.

10.Breath... Let go and let be.

Sky-Gazing meditation .
By Lama Surya Das

Find a comfortable seat outside, preferably
With a view.
Close your eyes.
Inhale deeply, and exhale fully,
Letting go totally.
Now do it again, twice more.
(Thrice is the magic number.)
Let go, let it all come and go;
Just be,
As you are.
Rest naturally and at ease
In your body and mind, heart and soul,
And enjoy the natural state—
or whatever state you seem to be in.

Let body and mind settle in its own place,
Its own way,
Its own time,
As it is.
Natural breath and energy,
Natural flow
Let it go,
Free from interference, evaluation or manipulation...
and enjoy the joy
of Natural Meditation

Don’t be deceived or seduced by momentary
thoughts and experiences.
Allow all experiences to pass freely, like clouds
In a vast, open sky.
Simply Observe, Allow and Accept.
Embrace and surrender.
Letting go means letting come and go,
letting be.
This is the essence of inner freedom
and autonomy.

Be still.
All is right here, right now—
this very moment, the only moment;
Don’t stray elsewhere.
Nothing to figure out, understand,
Achieve, track or remember.
No need to fabricate or contrive.
No need to even meditate.
Simply present, undistracted, at home
And at ease
In the natural state
Of natural perfection.
Buddha's not pretending.
Sitting Buddha is being

Now slowly, open your eyes.
Gently raise your gaze.
Elevate the scope of global,
Three hundred and sixty degree
Sensitive, receptive awareness.
Gaze evenly into the infinite, open sky;
Skygazing, space-mingling,
An exercise of intrinsic openness and awareness,
Transparency and lucidity
Let go and relax into the vastness of sky—
spacious, nonreactive,
fearless and agendaless,

Space like mind has no beginning or end,
no inside or outside,
No actual form, color, size,
Shape, center or periphery
This is the gateless gate
Opening into the infinite, magical way of awakefulness.

Let go and relax naturally into spacious openness
And clarity, this pristine awareness
Like a transparent eyeball,
Allowing thoughts and feelings
To come and go freely,
Releasing all experience
Into the infinitely fertile
Womb of emptiness
from which it never strayed.

Resting at home and at ease
in the sky-like nature
Of Buddha Mind,
Everything is fine
Just as it is
In the lawful unfolding of things:
Let go and let be,
At home and at ease
In the natural great perfection,
The nirvanic peace and bliss
Of things left just
As they are.


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Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas moments

Hi there!!!
Hope everyone is enjoying a beautiful holiday season and may your new year be a healthy and joyous one!

We've been so busy doing, making, baking and enjoying family and friends that we have not blogged much... But here a some snap shots of some of our holiday moments.

Candy cane peppermint cupcakes

Homemade roasted corn, chipotle and black bean tamales

Making salt dough Christmas ornaments

Lime mojito cookies, mexican chocolate chipotle cookies, and walnut circles.

Homemade gifts for friends. Cayenne, cashew, and sea salt brittle .

Toasted almond, dried cherry, orange peel chocolate bark.

With nana's beautiful knitted hat.

Loving her new doll from Santa

The wonders of a snow blizzard!!

Sledding and snow angels and after...

Hot cocoa with homemade marshmallows ( thanks to aunt Kirsten !)

~ enjoying the beauty of the season !

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Monday, December 20, 2010

Perfect roasted chestnuts

We adore chestnuts here. I would love it if we had a fireplace and we could roast them over an open fire. But that's ok. The oven is just as good!
The other day we found an actual chestnut tree in one of our walks!
We collected these and I did not know that chestnuts actually were encased in these pods! Very neat!

After roasting them so often, I think we actually have the perfect roasting tip. So if you would like to try this ... Here is how.

Score each chestnut on the top with an "x". Try not to go too deep or the nut will totally split in the oven but make sure that the x is big so that the skins will peel.

Place on a cookie sheet with the scored tops "up".
*Sprinkle the chestnuts with water . This is actually a great tip I got from the Internet. It keeps them from drying out.

Bake at 400* for about 25-30 minutes. BUT Check at 20 minutes, at 25 and at 30. Each oven is different and you want them to be soft on the inside but not dry.

Delicious !!
I like to eat them plain but I hear people like to sprinkle them with all kinds of seasonings like salt, cayenne or even curry powder .

Soooo good!!

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Monday, December 13, 2010

Nutcracker ballet

Since honeypie was 2 years old, we have been taking her to Nutcracker Ballet performances. We all adore the gorgeous music and the whole experience.
This year her dream come true, of her being in a nutcracker ballet, (granted, she was going for the part of Clara ...hah! she definitely doesn't lack in self confidence!)
This was a local community production through a wonderful hardworking company. She had to audition for a part and she got the parts of a cute little mouse and an angel.
I've never seen a 5 1/2 year old more determined. She endured long hours of practice time each weekend without complain and a long day of performing in the AM and PM.
( I, myself was pooped !!!).

Here she is ready to go on stage...

Here she is during dress rehearsal for her angel part...

I also baked a ton of cookies for a fundraiser for the ballet company. I was lucky enough to have a helper, our nana, who lovingly baked all my cookies while I decorated and iced them! :)
(Martha's sugar cookie recipe and icing recipe never fails!!)

What a whole lotta bakin'!

Thank you nana!

It was a beautiful performance with our little angel/mouse!
(One day... One day you will be Clara in sweet Nutcracker dreams.) I am sure.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas in the big apple.

We took a couple of days off from homeschooling to do some nostalgic holiday roaming through NYC. Growing up there as a kid, I used to take city for granted but now, years later, I reminisce of those fragrant chestnuts roasting in food trucks, salty pretzels, all the holiday lights, the shows and strolling through the streets for store window browsing.
Holidays is the city are beautifully magical and it is so special sharing it with my little girl.

What can compare to the gorgeous Rockefeller tree?

and iceskating there amongst the bright lights?

The seeing the singing light display and window displays at Saks 5th ave?

Now that I am a mama...
An annual visit to the American girl cafe is so sweet to share tea with my best girl !

A visit to the famous Magnolia Bakery for their "Rockettes" red velvet cupcakes is a must ...

Add a beautiful night at Lincoln Center seeing the Nutcracker Ballet.

(Daddy and girl going in hand in hand.)

Daddy's girl .

And finally a great day at Radio City Music Hall to see the beautiful Rockettes!! (It had been so long!).

Here she is...
Loving the bright lights - big city.

And for mama...
Ohhhhh, wagashi heaven!!!

Beautiful days in the city .
(I guess you can take the girl out of the city but not the city out of the girl.)

Now on to merry making at home... where the heart is.

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