Monthly Archives: December 2013

Easy Peppermint Bark–A Cheater’s Recipe

I’m not much of a baker or much of a cook and my only real food skills involve slapping together cheese platters and charcuterie.

SO! My one holiday baking concession is making Chocolate and Peppermint Bark. Of course, it’s a total cheat! So here’s what I do:

ingredients1

Ingredients:

Step1-Canes

Step 1: Put a bunch of candy canes in a plastic ziplock bag and smash them to bits with a meat tenderizer. My father-in-law likes the pieces to be small. So I smash like mad.

Step2--ChocolateMelts

Once I’m done pulverizing the candy, I start in with the melting. I heat in 30-second increments until the melts get melty!Step3-PourMelted

I pour the melted chocolate onto a cookie pan lined with either parchment or wax paper. Step4-Spread

I use a silicone spatula to spread it out toward the edges of the pan.

Step5-TapOut

I tap the pan on the counter to level out the chocolate. Then I leave it to set. You’ll know the candy is set when it’s no longer shiny.

Step6-WhiteChocolate

Once it’s dry, I turn to the white candy melts. These take a little bit longer to melt, in my experience. Step7-PourWhiteChocandSpread

Once the white is melted, I pour it right onto the Dark Cocoa.

Step8--spread

Using a spatula, I spread the white over the dark chocolate, leaving a little dark chocolate border. Step9-SPRINKLES

Next up: SPRINKLES. These are optional! But I like the texture and color they add. Immediately after I spread the white chocolate I tap the pan a couple of times and then add sprinkles. Step10-CandyCaneSprinkles

After the sprinkles, I take a big spoon and sprinkle the peppermint shards onto the still-wet white chocolate.

Step11-done

Voila! I also tap the pan a couple of times and use the back of the spoon to push down any pieces that look like they are not taking to the white chocolate. Step12-packaged

I let the white chocolate firm up a little and then use a pizza cutter to slice it into strips. Once it’s set, I put it in the containers. This year, I put the slices between wax paper and stacked them into a plastic holiday-themed take-out container. Because candy melts can go, well, melty, you need to have parchment or wax paper between the layers.

That’s it!

Building Snoopy’s Dog House for Christmas

Last year, Dale joked that once we were settled into our house we’d start working on creating our own kind of Griswold Christmas Spectacle by making an over-sized decorate doghouse like Snoopy had in A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Snoopy’s Dog House

Dale’s mom came to visit last week and she’s been asking when we were going to have this cute little dog house set up (she’s a dog person but she loves her grandkitties with the best of them).

So Dale told her he was going to put her to work when she came to visit. Sure enough he picked her up at the train station and headed straight for the hardware store.

When I cam home I found from work I found this in the garage:

Raw Materials

Needless to say I was excited!

mominlaw

So was Jackie, Dale’s mom! The little opening is about 20 inches. I went back upstairs and let them make some progress. By the following day they had gotten the thing put together, primed and had even started gathering the proper accessories!

Coming Together

I was amazed! We went to the store and acquired the proper flood lights, the chains, and (my big contribution) the “1st Prize” award. Dale set about making the star and the weathervane out of scrap pieces of wood.

I brought some glitter. Obviously. For the star! And the red Christmas bulb.

Dale made the house so it’s very sturdy but can be disassembled reasonably quickly. So he and his mom set about setting it up on the front yard!

Working TogetherThis is them, adorably carrying the spotlights out into the yard!

the frame

Dale brought the frame out!

The StarThe roof and handmade star were up next. In this pic, Dale and Jackie are adding the weathervane that Dale made.

Final

And how cute is this!? Jackie felt we needed a little Snoopy and she was totally right! We picked up that little 18-inch Snoopy at the hardware store. I love how much it matches the cartoon! We even added a little red bulb. Snoopy

He’s adorable!SNOWAnd, like clockwork? It started to snow! We’ve had a few gawkers stop as they drive by and we even had someone trudge through the snow to get a pic with Snoopy. It’s been a fun conversation piece for the neighbors.

Christmas Decorations and a Living Room/Dining Room Before and After

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We recently completed the renovation of  our living and dining room. I’ve got in-progress photos to post but I wanted to share these (it’s clean! It’s decorated for the holidays!) before it all goes to hell. And the crazy makeshift light fixture above the sofa is just a temporary fix.  Just a rundown of what we did and some before-and-afters below since we bought the house:

  • Stripped and refinished the floors.
  • Dale skim-coated and sanded all the walls in the living room, dining room and hallway in order to make the walls smooth and like new!
  • We put up all-new trim, including door and window trim, throughout the area (minus the entryway, though we did paint it and put up caulk around the windows).
  • Painted the window trim, put up thin curtains (the room had heavy curtains that were attached to the ceiling).
  • Cleaned the windows, including the storm windows (which were a retrofit and you can only take them off from the outside–ugh).

The view from the entry way:

LivingRoomEntrance1

And the view now (no wallpaper, no carpet):

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Here’s the entryway and hallway when we moved in:

LivingRoom1

And here it is now:

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And a view from the windows into the dining room (before):

LivingRoom-DiningRoom1

No carpet, no wallpaper, new paint, new trim, and we painted the brass chandelier white!

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And another view for the stalker out there:

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Pretty exciting! We’re going to have art work up in 2014. Maybe.