Tag Archives: candy

Hard Candy Christmas

31 Dec

Hey! Hope everyone is having a great holiday!

Despite my having lived away from home on numerous occasions over many years I have always made it home for Christmas. ALWAYS!

Not this year… this year I was away from my home and my family, friends, pets and all things familiar. I didn’t think it would be so bad to be honest. I’ve missed New Years and birthdays a bunch of times. I figured I had it covered. I mean I’m a fully grown adult with a job and responsibilities. Also I’ve made some good friends since I moved so it isn’t as if I would be completely alone. I decided that I’d decorate my apartment, buy some ingredients for a nice Christmas dinner and share with my friends.

Well,that was the plan. Approximately 3 weeks or so before Christmas my entire mood plummeted. I don’t know why specifically. Perhaps it was being away from home that finally got me or maybe I’d had a particularly stressful week at work or a combination. Whatever it was I felt down and decided to cancel Christmas this year. If I couldn’t have it the way I liked I didn’t want it at all! (I know, really mature right?)

I stayed in this foul mood for days and I swear my spirit slowly began to die until one morning about 9 days before Christmas I decided if I didn’t do at least SOMETHING  “Christmassey” I really might just melt into a pool of despair.

I set out that day with one goal. Bring home Christmas! I may have mentioned in my Halloween post that my new place of abode is not only limited in its variety but what there is can tend to be mighty pricey. This does not bode well for someone on a budget but I accepted the challenge.

I made my way into the town square area and to the store with the most bargins. It’s a dollar store in concept in terms of the quality and variety of things it sells but nothing in there costs $1. Try $1.99 and up, most of it being up. That said they still have some of the best prices in all the seven kimgdoms! (Sorry I just started reading Game of Thrones)

THEME
Like any good party or wedding, holiday decor needs a theme. Whether literal or abstract it gives a basis, an idea of what direction you’re going. My theme was:

CANDY
Way back when I thought I’d be home for the holidays and was filled with hope and excitement I decided I wanted to try a Candyland Christmas theme. I even started a pinterest board about it.
For anyone who knows me well, it’s no secret that for a few years I have yearned for a pink Christmas tree. Now our family always gets a real tree but we also usually have 2 or 3 other trees, one in the verandah, a small one in the kitchen and more if we feel it necessary.

This year I felt inspired to take it further. I love the idea of a pink tree. I imagine it to be cotton candy. Candy! What if everything on the tree was a candy ornament or a candy colored ornament!
I immediately knew the colours I wanted: pink, purple, blue and green. My accent colour would be silver.
I pinned pictures of some beautiful and creative stuff : donut ornements made of salt clay,pastel globe ornaments wrapped to look like sweeties, old outdoor bulbs covered in candy coloured glitter. I was excited!

But alas,  here I was with limited time, options and money. This was going to be hard.

I decided I would stick with my concept for candy inspired choosing round, unbreakable(the only type they had) ornaments in my original colour scheme of blue,pink,purple,green and silver. To me these colours were the most candy like. I went for variety and got 2 packs of small ornaments(purple and blue) and the other 3 colours larger balls. These were the types that came with multiple finishes in the same package so 2 were shiny, 2 were frosted and 2 were glittered.

TREE
What tree? By the time I decided Christmas was back on all the real trees and most of the artificial ones were sold out. Also it would be too expensive.
I bought a string of artificial 9 foot garland and an artificial wreath.

LIGHTS
One string of plain white lights were all I could manage at the prices this store had.

EXTRAS
I also ponied up for a roll of green ribbon, a large shiny pink bow and of course hooks.

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The stuff

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I spent some time placing things here and there to figure out what order to place things in. I recommend this. When you make your final decision then start attaching.

I used the hooks to attach the balls by their tops onto the wreath and garland.

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I laid out the garland on the floor and switched decorations back and forth until I got the design I wanted.

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I used the ribbon to wrap around the wreath and I used the extra for a small bow to accent the garland.

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I pinned the garland around the breakfast bar area and the wreath just adjacent

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The Wreath

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The Garland

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Together

I draped the lights around my small 11th floor balcony.

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And there it is. Christmas decor on a time and money budget.

The title for this post was inspired by that old Dolly Parton song “Hard Candy Christmas”  on the Christmas album she did with Kenny Rogers all those years ago. I thought of this song because I chose candy as my theme and I’ve met some really nice people in the past few months and that’s all very sweet. However I am away from home for the holidays and having some challenges becoming settled and that’s hard.

That being said, I am thankful for all that I do have and all I managed to accomplish this year: I purchased (and sold) my first vehicle, I did an important exam, I was able to truly eliminate a very negative influence in my life and of course I met my awesome kitten (who I miss) Cali! 2014 was definitely better than 2013!

So enjoy the rest of the season and have an awesome 2015!

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Cali (the kitten)

Peppermint Vodka

27 Dec

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This Christmas post is a delightful homemade treat my sister introduced me to this year: Peppermint Vodka.
This isn’t some mass produced flavoured liquor you find in every supermarket.This is hand and homemade with care and its very good. It can be made in large amounts for a yultide shindig, in smaller amounts for an intimate gathering or made and packaged as Christmas gifts.

This also falls under handmade presents, something I am a huge advocate of. It shows real thought and dedication. Now the controversial question every poor party girl must ask is:” Are these handmade items actually cheaper than commercially produced ones?” The answer is :”not always” or “it all depends”.

I say if you want to do hand/home made and you are looking to save, you need to do alot of one thing e.g all cupcakes or all christmas ecorations. That way you buy raw materials in bulk and save there. Apart from that alot of crafty items can be pretty expensive when you add it all up.


WHAT YOU NEED:
1) Bag of peppermints or candy canes (peppermints are cheaper)

2) Bottle of Vodka

3) 2 days
As mentioned, it is Kristine my sister who made this moorish treat. She said she saw it various places online (cannot recall where) and she actually laughed when I asked for measurements. She just rolls with it.

WHAT TO DO
1) Add 1 cup of peppermint candy to a medium sized mason jar (it holds approximately 400mls) then pour vodka over it.

2)Let it stand for 2 days or until all the candy has dissolved.

3)Chill and serve
I’m not sure where she came up with these measurements but they were just right.

This drink comes out creamy and smooth but not milky. Strong but not overpowering . It has just enough peppermint flavour and of course it smells DEEE-lish! I reccomend it to everyone.

My sister, two friends and I had this along with ham and turkey sandwiches after midnight mass this year while we watched television:Family Guy (Christmas episode) and Beyonce’s new album’s music videos. We had a blast!

Kristine also decided to gift a bottle of it (in a mason jar) to our cousin with a candy cane on top as pictured above.

My sister has soaked other candies in vodka before, not with as much success (the gummi bear vodka of March 2013) but this is a winner.

Have a go at it all you DIY’ers, you won’t regret it.

Have an awesome day!

Cake Pop Perils!

7 Oct

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Announcing my FIRST EVER successful attempt at cake pops!

 

I’m certain that by now we’ve all heard of,read about,seen,eaten and perhaps made a cake pop. They were first introduced to myself circa 2010 and I thought it was a most delightful, awesome idea.

 

Immediately (or as soon as I could) I gathered my supplies and attempted to reproduce the delectable spheres myself……… TOTAL disaster! I made them too large to stay up on their sticks, there was too much icing for them to keep their form and my melted chocolate to coat them with ceased up! I was distraught but chalked it up to beginners bad luck.

 

A few months later, after a lot more research and watching online videos I tried again………….COMPLETE train wreck! I cannot recall the exact events but my sister tells me that I ran around screaming in despair!

 

Not too long afterwards, my mother bought a cute little device called a cakepop/donut hole maker where I dropped my batter into the ball shaped spaces and cooked my cake almost instantly. While I felt that this was somehow cheating, since I didn’t crumble the cake,add icing and shape the balls myself I thought perhaps if the sphere was already made for me that I’d have won half the battle. By this time I had also procured some candy melts so I knew that the 3rd time would be the charm right? Wrong………….ABSOLUTE catastrophe!

 

It took me at least 4 attempts with the machine before the cake came out in a full,well formed sphere, and then…….. the candy melts,which I microwaved (i.e no risk of moisture) still manged to cease up! And no amount of oil added to the mixture could rescue it!

 

This was the point at which I gave up. I had been broken, from then on I decided I would admire,read about and even eat a cake pop but never ever would I make one!

 

A week ago however, something changed…….I had about 2 small un-frosted cupcakes which were now in pieces as well as about 3 tablespoons of cream cheese frosting and 1/4 bag of milk chocolate chips all left back from a baking adventure.

 

Not wanting to waste them I decided I’d eat the cake and I’d eat the icing (and try not to think about the calories involved). That was when it hit me, I could eat the cake AND the icing……. together………in a ball……on a stick……….coated with chocolate. I knew I had vowed never to meddle in the world of cake pop making again, but this attempt to rescue otherwise unwanted food might just be worth a try.

 

And try I did only this time I succeeded! Here’s what I did:

 

1) Crumble un-frosted cake into a bowl

 

2) Add frosting (whatever you have lying around is fine, I had cream cheese frosting)- Start by adding only a small amount so that mixture doesn’t get too soggy.

3) Mix cake and frosting to consistency where it can hold a shape- If it seems too moist add more cake, if too crumbly add more frosting.

4) Roll them into balls (or other desired shape) and refrigerate.

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I had a red velvet and a chocolate so I mixed them together.

5) In a clean dry bowl, place chocolate chips (or candy melts or grated chocolate bar) and melt in microwave using 30 second bursts (can also use double boiler technique).

6) Dip one end of your stick into the melted chocolate then place it about 1/3 way into your cake ball and replace in refrigerator to harden. (This step is very important in securing your stick and one of the many many reasons for my lack of success in the past was 1)not doing it correctly and 2) not doing it at all)

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Sticks + chocolate+ cake ball = cake pop

7) Once sticks are secured, dip cake into the chocolate (I had to remelt it). Make sure the entire pop is covered, tap stick on side of bowl and give a swirl to get off excess chocolate then place into upright position (cake portion at top) and replace into refrigerator to harden. I punched holes in an old Styrofoam food container and used that. (this poorpartygirl wastes nothing!) 

It’s at this point that you can add sprinkles, chopped nuts or any other topping you wish.

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The finished product.

I know I am a long way from the intricate and complex designs exacted by Bakarella (the woman who brought us cake pops) or by many of the other talented persons creating cake pops everyday but I am proud that despite numerous setbacks I finally managed something I can actually call a cake pop and using leftovers at that.

I have joined the cake pop maker’s ranks! Hooray!

Have an awesome day!

 

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