Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Culinary Adventures: Candy Cane Syrup

I tried my hand at Candy Cane Syrup today, and it kind of makes me feel like a kitchen boss. This is kind of weird, since it's actually pretty easy to do.

Start with some broken candy canes

Then make some simple syrup (2 parts sugar, 1 part water)

Throw the candy in.

Melt it.

Boil it up. (about 3 minutes)

BOOM. Syrup.

I think it's pretty rad.
See? Not too hard.

I'm feeling a little nervous, still, that it will harden too much to be usable... candy has a way of screwing me over at the last second (My mom could tell you some interesting stories about the time I tried to make Divinity). I'm still pretty happy with the results, though.

What are you cooking this Christmas?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Terror Time

I was talking to my friend Tabitha last night, and at one point we started sharing stories that we love from our favorite blogs. After I shared this post from Books of Adam (one of the funniest blogs out there - you should all read and love it immediately), we needed to start talking about Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, because one must. Every kid who went to Elementary School in the early/mid 90s has a passionate love/hate relationship with this book. It was an awesomely disgusting landmark of our childhood, and it needs to be discussed as often as possible.

Recently, there's been news buzzing around the internet saying that there are plans to add new illustrations to the book, toning it down to make the pictures a little more kid-friendly. I say that this is total crap. If an overly nervous eight-year-old me can handle a picture of this girl's spider-munched face, kids today certainly can.

When I hear about stuff like this happening, I can't help but wonder when people could have forgotten that WE ALL LOVE TO BE TERRIFIED. Scaring yourself silly is a universal pleasure - an adrenaline high for those of us who have no desire to jump out of airplanes or be chased by angry bovines through the streets of Spain. It's the reason why stories about ghosts and monsters are present in every culture, and why they've been passed down from generation to generation. It's why zombies are such a huge deal right now, and why people who make horror films continue to make a living. Deep down, we are all afraid of things that go bump in the night.

I have always been a bit of a terror junkie, though I couldn't tell you why. I scare easily, and I love to be scared (on my own terms, that's important), but it does tend to get the better of me sometimes. I remember one particular incident from my childhood, when I couldn't sleep for weeks after reading a Goosebumps book about a haunted amusement park. I was having nightmares about zombies with knives coming up through my bedroom floor, and while I can't say how much it actually had to do with the book, my parents wouldn't let me read them for the longest time after that.

Now that I am older and supposedly wiser, the only things that honestly frighten me are the real-life things that I can't control. Luckily, fear is a broad spectrum, and I can still enjoy having a little scare from time to time. I like to think it keeps me young.

I'm an adult, and I'm not afraid of the monsters under my bed.


What are the things you love to be scared by?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Christmas Tree Memories

My family Christmas tree has always been a source of true pleasure in my life. The colored lights and the ornaments -- mismatched and lovingly gifted -- make our tree a representation of everything I love about our family and all of the holidays we've shared. It's dripping in Americana, and always beautiful to behold.

In the past few years we've been downsizing quite a bit, and that includes the size of our Christmas tree. The poor little thing is almost listing under the weight of all our memories, enough to make my mother suggest that we should pack up some of our ornaments next year.

That seems like a tragedy to me.

Now, the adult part of me knows that you can;t hold on to everything, and that it would probably be okay to leave some ornaments in the box (or even get rid of a few) just to clear up the clutter. The sentimental baby in me, however, looks at that tree and can't imagine it being without all the beautiful things I've known since my childhood. I can look at that tree and tell you why each thing on it is special and loved. Some favorites are...

Baby Mouse was made by my mother and has been my favorite ornament for my entire life.

We have two cherubs like this, and I think they are just gorgeous. This is my favorite of the two - I love how he's painted. I think they were gifts from my grandmother to my mother.

This is made of paper, and very delicate.

One of the many little bears my mother loves.

Bert, my Brother's heirloom ornament.

Chimney-sweep from Germany

One of the four angel bears that we hang near the top.

Emily's little goose girl.

A nod to our roots, made my one of my aunts. I'm not sure what makes the beaver particularly German, but that's part of the charm.

And there's eight thousand more dear little things on our tree. I'd post pictures of them all, including the butt-ugly tree-topper that my parents have had since they were married (that none of us can imagine being without, at this point), but I think that would get a little too sappy. Even for me.

Christmas trees that are perfectly coordinated are beautiful, and the huge ones in the mall could almost bring you to tears, but I don't think I could love any of them as much as I love this dorky little hodgepodge of my past. It's been a constant in my life, and as reliable as the fact that the Christmas box in our house is always going to smell beautiful when you open it for the first time (like cranberries, candles, and spicy dust. If I could bottle it, I would).

What makes your Christmas tree special to you? Let me know!

-- Kari

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Welcome to the new blog, plus Workplace Stories Vol. 1

Hey kids!

After much deliberation, I have decided to begin my blogging life anew with just ONE blog. This is something of an oddity for me, as I have had three or more blogs at a time for most of my online life. Usually one for the public to read, one with happy life stuff for my friends to read, and one really sad/angry/dark one for my really good friends to read. It was easier to compartmentalize my life, for some reason, and I did well with that for a while.

Now, however, I just don't care. Life is too short to be that complex, and now that I'm not a bitter teenager ashamed of who I am, I feel like it's time for me to simplify.

And I'm going to start by telling a delightful vignette from the workplace, because one must.

I work in retail, and most of what I do is pretty standard: sell clothes, hang clothes, tell people they look pretty in things, and convince them that they need yet another store credit card. Occasionally, though, one is required to clean the bathroom. Not too hard, right? Under normal circumstances, no, but friends... I have seen things.

Things that I cannot unsee.

This last Wednesday, I was working with my manager T. I volunteered to clean the bathroom while she finished the audit, and it started out pretty normally: scrubbed the toilets, cleaned the mirror, etc. I thought I was nearly done, when I noticed a small spot on the door of one of the stalls. Thinking nothing of it, I sprayed it with surface cleaner and wiped it away.

Suddenly, the door was three shades lighter than it had been in that spot. I looked at my paper towel - it was entirely yellow. If one could have seen my face at that moment, it would have looked something like this:

I promptly started spraying the crap out of everything and scrubbing like a madman. T came back to check on me about 15 minutes later.

"It's taking you a long time back here. Is everything okay?"

I looked at her with the expression of a woman who has seen the horrors of war.

"Oh, T, you have NO idea..."

I spent a good 30 minutes extra on the bathroom that day, and I'm still toying with the idea of asking to come in, unpaid, just to sanitize the crap out of that thing again. I have honestly never been more horrified by a place where I take my pants off.

And on that note, I'm out of things to say. Until next time, dearies.

-- Kari