Tried + True: Homemade Salt Water Taffy

tried-and-true-salt-water-taffy-2If playing with a wad of hot sticky bubblegum for 15 minutes sounds like fun, then have I got the project for you today! I’m kidding…kind of.

This past Saturday my daughter and I decided to try to make salt water taffy for the first time. I read through a bunch of recipes online, and one thing became immediately clear; making taffy is hard work and sticky…very very sticky! But I wasn’t going to be so easily scared off. I finally settled on a recipe (which we then adapted) from Cupcake Project. I chose her recipe, because she did a great job photographing the steps, I like the fact that her recipe calls for a lower final temperature (since I read on several blogs that their taffy turned out far too hard after using a higher final temperature), and lastly, because she said that the whole project could be done in an hour. That’s my kind of recipe!

For our adaptation, we used 1/2 teaspoon raspberry flavoring (we found it at Michael’s craft store) and 4 drops of blue food coloring; instead of the vanilla bean paste and candy sprinkles in her version. Once cooked to the correct temperature, we patiently waited for the candy to cool just enough so that we wouldn’t scald ourselves (we couldn’t stand to wait any longer than that), we then buttered our hands up, split the candy in two, and each started to taffy pull.

tried-and-true-salt-water-taffy1

Right away I had problems with the taffy staying together. I think I might have had too much butter on my hands. But then when the butter wore off of my fingers the taffy stuck to my skin…and I mean really truly stuck to them. It was nearly impossible to remove. For some reason my daughter didn’t have the same issue. While I was getting frustrated with my portion, and in a near panic trying to remove the glob of candy from my fingers without losing a layer of skin, she was quickly turning her piece into a beautiful bit of candy magic.

In the end we determined that my hands were much warmer than hers, and this might have been the cause of the overly sticky situation. At one point I started working with my hands over the air conditioning vent, and that seemed to help quite a bit. Unfortunately my arthritic joints eventually gave out, so my daughter stepped in and finished pulling the rest of mine for me, while I wrapped the cut pieces of taffy in parchment paper.

tried-and-true-salt-water-taffy-3They say that all is well that ends well, and in this case that is most definitely true! Even though my particular batch was stubborn, my daughter managed to salvage it, and we had a great memory making experience. Oh…and the finished candy turned out deliciously too! A winner in my book! Find the original recipe we used right here. Just prepare yourself ahead of time for a thorough arm workout!

These Words – No.1

these-words-no1

“to love life, to love it even
when you have no stomach for it
and everything you’ve held dear
crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,
your throat filled with the silt of it.
When grief sits with you, its tropical heat
thickening the air, heavy as water
more fit for gills than lungs;
when grief weights you like your own flesh
only more of it, an obesity of grief,
you think, How can a body withstand this?
Then you hold life like a face,
between your palms, a plain face,
no charming smile, no violet eyes,
and you say, yes, I will take you
I will love you, again.” — Ellen Bass

these-words-no1-2 These words — by Ellen Bass / first spotted here. Photography by me.

10 Art Prints for Animal Lovers

art-picks-for-animal-loversAn assortment of animal-themed art prints for that endearing animal fanatic that you know. Yes, it’s totally okay if that person is you!

1. Two Lions / 2. French Bear / 3. The Messenger / 4. Montana Horse / 5. Spangled & Plumed / 6. Pigeons of the Roof / 7. Menagerie / 8. Pink Paradise / 9. The Kodiak Brown Bear / 10. Anatomy of a Dachshund /

The Return of Blackberry Season

blackberry-summer-2Around here we eagerly await the arrival of blackberry season; watching for signs of ripening fruit like it’s a competitive sport. Today the neighborhood brambles yielded their first berries, and we are positively giddy thinking about all the recipes that we will soon be sinking our teeth into. I think we’ll be starting things of with some of the recipes shared in The Ultimate Blackberry Recipe Roundup that I put together last year! There are 75 recipes to choose from…we cannot wait!blackberry-summer-1 blackberry-summer-3

Spice Jar Organization with Free Printable Labels

spice-jar-organizationI’ve been meaning to post about the quick facelift that I gave to our spice jars for a while now…and hooray, today I’m finally doing it! I feel like I should first start out by saying that I don’t see anything wrong with anyone leaving everything in the original bottles. I’m not typically such an organized person, but because of the extremely limited storage space in our kitchen, I knew that I needed to streamline the hodgepodge of containers that were filling the space if I planned to hold anything else besides spices inside them. Plus, after painting the interiors I couldn’t really stand the thought of putting the old jumble of jars back inside.

spice-organization-beforeHere’s what I was working with. Not my fave.

spice-jar-organization-3And here they are now! The project turned out to be surprisingly simple! I picked up some glass spice jars and clamp-lid jars from World Market (I have to admit that it was a bit painful shelling out money for empty bottles), made up some simple spice identification labels to print onto adhesive paper, filled the new bottles up, and stuck each label on. Tada!

I have to say that the results really have made a world of difference for the functionality of my kitchen! I actually enjoy looking inside my less cluttered cupboards while cooking now, and everything is as easy to find as it is pretty to look at.

spice-jar-organization-5If this project sounds like something up your alley and you want to get a jump-start on things, I’ve made the printable spice labels that I used available as a freebie through the link below. Please note that they are not sized to fit a specific label template (I was too tired to try to figure that out when I was initially creating them for my project), so I just printed them onto full sheets of adhesive label paper, and used a circle craft punch to cut out the labels for the small spice jars.

download-spice-labels

Of course you might have a different assortment of spices in your kitchen than the ones I included on these labels. If so, you can use the free font Miso (the one I used for my labels) to create any additional labels that you need.

spice-jar-organization-4Juni gives this project two paws up!