Thursday, February 21, 2008

If at First You Don't Succeed...

"If at first you don't succeed, try try again" was something my mother always said. This resulted in her four children never giving up until they succeeded. A good thing, I guess, except trying to do everything perfect is stressful, not to mention impossible.

This story is going somewhere, I promise! It begins with my friend, Glenda, who makes delicious hot pepper jelly and always gives us a jar for Christmas. If you've never had hot pepper jelly poured over cream cheese and served with Triscuits, you haven't lived! Anyhow, we got the pepper jelly for Christmas and, as usual, it was gone by the end of January. Oh, no!

Not wanting to wait eleven months to have pepper jelly and cream cheese again, I set out to make my own pepper jelly last weekend. It isn't difficult but making any jelly is tricky in that it doesn't always set up. Needless to say, I ended up with six jars of runny hot pepper sauce. Bummer!

Of course, my mother's message, "If at first you don't succeed, try try again" was rolling around in my brain so I was (note I said 'was') determined to keep making the pepper jelly until I had a perfect, successful batch. Then bring on the cream cheese!

But that quote was bothering me so I Googled it. My mother tricked us! The full quote is from W. C. Fields: "If at first you don't succeed, try try again. Then quit! There's no point being a damn fool about it!"

Hmmmm...maybe I'll just beg Glenda for another jar of that jelly!


Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day!

Valentine_lunch_003_3Leave it to my friend, Anne (second from the right), to make a cold, snowy Valentine's Day warm and special by hosting a "Love Your Friends" luncheon.

It was so nice to get together (something Anne handles beautifully!) and enjoy a delicious menu of warm chicken casserole, carrot salad and dill scones. We finished lunch with a fabulous chocolate desert as Valentine's Day is a must-have-chocolate day!

Speaking of chocolate, the mason jars you see on the table were my gift to Anne and each guest. I filled them with my Spectacular Hot Fudge Sauce. Now my gift to my you is the recipe for this fabulous, sinful sauce...made even better by the fact that it is sinfully simple to make. My favorite way to enjoy it is warm over vanilla ice cream with a sprinkling of toasted pecans. My daughter adds Kahlua to hers to give it a hint of coffee flavor. Once you try this simple concoction, I'd love to her your favorite way to enjoy it, even if it's eating it straight from the jar!

Spectacular Hot Fudge Sauce In a medium saucepan, melt one stick butter. Add one 12-ounce bag of milk chocolate chips (Nestle's is recommended; be sure to use milk chocolate chips, not semi-sweet) and stir until melted. Stir in one can of sweetened condensed milk. Fill the empty milk can with light Karo syrup and add this to the chocolate mixture. Add one teaspoon good vanilla (Madagascar is my favorite). Stir well. Let cool a few minutes, spoon into jars and refrigerate. Totally yummy!


Saturday, February 9, 2008

My Favorite Tools to Keep Me on Track

I was asked recently, "What is your favorite organizing tool?" The answer was easy! My typo here, that is PLURAL as I have several of these must-have products.

Timers_002My timers are everywhere: my home office, my bathroom, the kitchen, and even around my neck. I consider them to be my personal memory cache! They prevent me from burning the bread I have under the broiler. They tell me when the cake is done and remind me to take clothes out of the dryer when I want them in for just a short time.

I often set a timer for 15 minutes and delve into a project that I've been putting off. It's easy to focus when you think, "It's only 15 minutes." Or I will use the timer to remind me that I've got to put down my needlework (something fun) and work on my next article or marketing project. It is not unusual for me to have more than one timer going at once.

My favorite (and also the most expensive) timer is the three-in-one clock/timer/stopwatch made by Polder. In addition to reminding me to move on or to check something, this timer also travels with me and doubles as a travel alarm. It gives me the time...and because the timer can be set up to ten hours, it makes a terrific, easy to set alarm clock. I know you are thinking that your cell phone is handy for this, but I find it simpler to decide how long I can sleep (five hours? six hours? thirty minutes?) and set the timer to go off when that amount of time has elapsed.

Speaking of my timers, one is going off right now, reminding me that the half hour I set aside to work on this post has been used up. When I set my timer again, I'll write about one of my other favorite organizing tools. Meanwhile, I'm wondering if any of you use timers as much as I do?