Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Tales Of A Kilbert New Year Tradition

When I was a kid I loved New Year's Eve because it was undoubtedly accompanied by one of my favorite things.


My folks are wonderful people and they always held a great appreciation of everything they had.  As children they would scrimp and save to give us the things we wanted and to make us happy.

My sister always tells a story where she and a friend were out with our parents and Dad said they could order anything they wanted from the menu of the restaurant they'd stopped at.  They ended up ordering lobster which was about as far from my Dad's normal price range for a meal out as you could get.  Instead of convincing them to order something more affordable, he let them have a lobster feast and the memory that went along with it.  For an evening they were the classy, sophisticated, incredibly chic girls who dined on lobster at a fancy restaurant.

Even though lobster might not have been standard fare in the Kilbert household, we always had home cooked meals and lots to share with any friends who might happen by.  On special occasions there was always an assortment of food that my folks believed to be essential to entertaining.   If there were just the three of us in later years or they were expecting a house full of guests there were trays of food that held the same items, and they screamed "this is a party!"

On any Kilbert celebration table there were cheeses galore.  There was always a block of smoky which had a dark checkerboard pattern on the rind which was a favorite of us all, and also cheddar, Swiss, Colby and pepper jack.  My Mom would cut them into cubes and put out the fancy little toothpicks with the cellophane flags on them.

There were always cookies, especially pizelles which Mom and I would make in huge batches of lemon, almond, anise and chocolate flavors.  There were often bear paw cookies made from cracker meal pressed into molds and rolled in cinnamon sugar hot from the oven.

There were chips and onion dip, Andy Capp's hot fries and Cheez-Its as well as a ton of different types of crackers.  There were always Triscuits which were my favorite along with Chicken n' Biskets which were the ones my Dad loved.  In the center of it all was a mile high pile of pepperoni from the Amish market in Mercer.

This pepperoni was amazing.  It usually came in a huge stick that was over two feet long and my mother would cut it in incredibly thick slices.  If you didn't get to it before my Dad did he would have half of it disappeared before you knew what happened.  It was salty, greasy and totally delicious.

On the first New Year's Eve I spent away from home as an undergraduate student, Mom actually mailed me a stick of that pepperoni in a cardboard poster tube.  I screamed with delight when I opened it and all of my friends thought I was nuts until they had a fifty cent piece sized, round slices cut as thick as a steak.  Then they too were converts to the perfect party food.  My Mom sent pepperoni sticks to me all the way across the country when I lived in Alabama too.  It seemed like the New Year was actually going to be great when it started out with this staple and when Dick Clark was narrating the ball drop on tv.

Tonight I will probably sleep through the ball drop.  There won't be an amazing assortment of cheeses and cookies and I will be missing my family and all the good folks who shared those pepperoni sticks with me.  I will go to the fridge and stack about 15 slices of pepperoni together and take a bite to end the year with the taste of nostalgia and the hope for a lovely future.

Happy New Year friends.  I hope it is your best year yet.  Here's hoping there is something delicious in store for you tonight and a bright future ahead of you.  Much love to you all!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Mean People Suck

I am overwhelmed by the amount of drama the YouTube beauty community can stir up.
Call me naive (and most anyone who really  knows me would probably call me just that) but I can't fathom the point of all the negativity.  Silly me, I think you would want to support people who share your passion.  I understand a bit of competition, and the desire that people have to be credited for their work but I can't even believe the amount of trash talking, bitching, and mean spirited b.s. that goes on on some of these beauty channels.  It's crazy!

There seems to be a war going on between many of the so called "beauty gurus" right now.  I have watched at least three videos today that started out as normal posts or tutorials that quickly devolved into "so and so is a bitch!  Unsubscribe to her and flood her wall with posts telling her how much you hate her and that her presence on this earth is a plague to humanity!". I'm paraphrasing but geez people!

There was one Twitter account holder today  who flat out told a YouTuber she should kill herself.  Really?  What in the name of all that is good and holy is okay about that?  Her entire Twitter feed is basically one hate filled comment after another directed at members of the beauty community and she has tens of thousands of followers.  That slays me!

I am lucky if 15 people read my daily blog posts, and I post about all kinds of things, but mostly things that I love and things that make me happy.  Yet a person who makes statements like "slit your wrists you fat ugly whore" is probably seen that many times a minute.  It is sad.  Very sad.

I used to make YouTube videos when I would unbox and reveal the contents of subscription boxes I received.  I always liked those kind of videos and found them helpful in deciding if the content of a particular subscription was something I would enjoy.

  Once I received a box that had a couple of products that came broken, and a nail polish that had to be cured with a UV light.  It was during a month where the box proceeds were partially donated to charity.  In my video I read a small portion of a flyer detailing the charity and saying how I thought it was great that the box supported a cause.  I also stated honestly, that except for the donation  I felt the box was a waste of my money because I had received damaged and unusable products.  I had  paid quite a bit for the subscription and I was disappointed, but glad half of the proceeds went to an awesome cause.

After seeing the video the company contacted me and sent me replacements for the damaged items and also explained that the polish could be used without a uv lamp although it didn't state that on the package.  They were really kind and I updated the comments saying they'd reached out and fixed the problem.  Within a day after posting the update I had over 40 dislikes on my video and dozens of messages from people who took offense to the video and to my opinions.  One person (who happened to work for the subscription service although I was unaware of that at the time) thought I was dissing the charity directly (although they obviously hadn't watched the whole video) and sent hundreds of people to trash talk me.

 Never mind that nothing she stated about me was true, her followers commented that I was "ungrateful", "dishonest", "trying to work the system to get free stuff", "disgusting","too fat and ugly to show my face" and "one of the worst human beings ever".

This was incredibly depressing to me and I pulled the video from YouTube and quit going to my page because even videos of my family started having dislikes.  I made those videos private, but that one person affected me so much that I quit doing something I thought was helpful and fun because they used it as an opportunity to be mean.  I feel for all of the people that are targeted by these hateful words and also by people that think their popularity and YouTube "celebrity" status give them license to treat people like also-rans and to be nasty.

If one person can disagree with me and then cause me so much distress, I can't imagine being one of the "cool kids" would be very fun.  I am content to be uncool and kind and not send mean spirited vibes out to the world.  I know that there are tons of people in the beauty community who are not a part of the drama and who are sweet and supportive of others.  I just wish that I saw more of them with massive followings and less of the girls that exist only to hate on others.

It isn't pretty!

I am hoping that in the new year I'll have the confidence to make some videos again.  I also hope that I can convince myself that I am able to appear on camera and that it won't lead to criticism and cruelty.  Here's hoping, but I'm not holding my breath!

Monday, December 29, 2014

December 2014 Boxycharm Beauty Subscription

 The December Boxycharm subscription box was themed "Jingle Belles" and had beauty items that were geared towards holiday gatherings.  I resubscribed just for this box because I have been wanting the Coastal Scents Revealed palette for quite awhile and since it regularly retails for $19.99 I figured anything I got in addition to it for the extra dollar of the box price would be worth it.  There were some hits and misses, but I loved the palette so I think it was well worth the gamble on the rest of the box items.

 The Mistura retractable brush is very soft and I think it will work well for loose powders and to apply blush with a very light touch.  I am going to try it with my blush palette that has some very deep colors that usually go on too dark because the soft bristles will help diffuse the color.   I have yet to open the Eva NYC Hungry Hair Oil Treatment because I think it might weigh down my fine hair.  I have used Argan oil in my hair before and instead of imparting shine it just made my hair slick and greasy so I'm not sure oils are good products for me.  I will probably give it a shot later in the winter when my hair is driest, and hopefully it will help combat fly aways without weighing my hair down.

I am kind of disappointed to find a Be A Bombshell product in the box.  I'm not a huge fan of the brand and I know that many subscription boxes send their products out, but I have never really enjoyed them.  This particular product is called "The One Stick" and is meant to be an overall product for lips, eyes and cheeks.  I have another in a sparkly pink shade that I received in an Ipsy box, but I was turned off by the scent and texture.  This one is a bright cherry red which I would only use as a lip color.  There doesn't appear to be any glitter in this shade, so it may be creamier and better in texture.  I was hoping for a lipstick.  Of all the products I have tried from the line, that is the one thing I've never received.  I have a lip gloss which was very sticky and I didn't care for (Glossybox) and a lip crayon which was more like a stain and which I would've probably enjoyed more if it were in a more wearable shade for me (Wantable).  There has been a lot of drama surrounding the BAB lipsticks though because many of them seem to have broken in shipping.

There has been loads of drama surrounding the brand in the past, particularly on the Ipsy site where the mascara they sent out had an odd scent.  I wish all of the sub boxes would address the quality concerns with the company or simply stop promoting the brand.

The Lina Lashes I received are in the style "Diva".  Boy howdy!  These lashes are so long they look like they would push my glasses right off my nose.  I don't think I am quite bold enough to wear these.  Even on stage they would be very dramatic!  These lashes have a retail value of $30 because they are made of "cruelty free" mink.  These make me giggle because I picture poor little mink running around without their fur after it was "harvested".  At least no animals were killed in the production of these.  I expected them to be incredibly soft, but honestly they were very stiff and a bitbprickly.  I suppose if your real eyelashes were three quarters of an inch long they would be a similar texture.

The Revealed palette was worth the box price for me.  There are a few matte shades and several shimmery (and not glittery) neutral shades in this palette.  It seems to be a combination of shades similar to the Urban Decay Naked and Naked 2 palettes.  There are bronze and taupe shades, lots of nudes and some good staples of matte brown and black to make a nice smoky eye look.  I've already played around with several shades and with a primer they have lasted through my work day and then some.  I love the pinky nude shade on the top row third from the left and also the taupe directly below it.  They are classic and long wearing and I don't feel the need to have the Naked palettes when I have this.  There is a Revealed 2 palette which likely has some of the rose gold shades Naked 3 has and I will probably pick it up sometime in the future.  The brand usually has good sales around holidays so maybe around Valentine's day they will have a special offer.  I'll definitely be keeping my eyes peeled for it.

There are lots of products here that will be fun to try out and I will probably pass the Be a Bombshell One Stick on to a friend who I know likes the brand.  The boxycharm boxes have a good value, and they have great customer service and are really responsive.  They seem to have grown so much since they first started and now they feature lots of exciting products from brands like Tarte.  I like to see the spoilers for the month before I pay for a box and they are great about sending out full size items.  They released a sneak peek today for January's box of a Mirabella primer.  I received it in an Ipsy box sometime last year and I used it as an eyeshadow primer - it is silicone based and very liquidy.  It goes on really easily and absorbs quickly.  I loved it and used almost all of it - the only reason I didn't finish it is I accidentally chucked it because it always used to slip out of the caddy I kept it in.  The tube isn't very big, but a little goes a long way.  I just received a primer in different box I have yet to open so I think I will hold off until they have some more sneak peeks.  I hope you loved your Boxycharm this month.  Let me know if you get next month's box!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Happy Birthday Niah Jane!

Happy first birthday to my dear little niece Niah Jane Brennan.

Niah is the first born child of my nephew Patrick and his wife Kelli.  Pat is the oldest of my nieces and nephews, and I'm so proud of the wonderful father and husband he's grown to be.  He has always been a caretaker and throughout his life has been the most kind and loving person you could hope to know.

His wife Kelli is also sweet and has been a wonderful addition to our family.  She is a no nonsense parent to Niah and I know that this little girl is going to grow up with a sweet disposition and will exemplify kindness to others the way her parents do every day.  

I wish I could be there to witness her milestones, but I am so thankful that I get to see so many pictures and videos of her that her parents share.

My sister Monica is lucky to have such wonderful children, and extra lucky to be able to give this darling girl a big hug and kiss today on her birthday.  I'm lucky that I get to call myself their Aunt and that there is a whole new generation of in our family that I get to see start with Niah.

I love you Niah!  

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Novel Interiors - Book Review

Novel Interiors: Living in Enchanted Rooms Inspired by Literature is a lovely coffee table book by Lisa Borgnes Giramonti, author of the popular blog A Bloomsbury Life.  It includes photographs by Ivan Terestchenko which are so vibrant and lovely I'd like to curl up in them with a cup of tea and take residence.

The book's aim is to take the descriptions made by various authors of the dwellings of the characters within their novels and recreate these worlds within the context of our own living spaces.  There are 6 chapters, each focusing on a different style of decor found in the pages of these books, and of the worlds created by different famous authors of literature.  There is a wide variety of decor that range from things I recognize as details in my own home to things achievable only to the very wealthy.  I identify much more with Jo March's decorating style than I do with Jay Gatsby's, but I can appreciate the beauty of these rooms and can see how the characters in these novels would be right at home in them.

I did find one character's placement a bit curious.  L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables was featured in the section of the book entitled "Living Au Natural" but none of the interiors pictured spoke to me as a room I could picture Anne living in.  Perhaps I may need to revisit these beloved novels of my childhood and give more thought to the character's surroundings.  I felt she would've been much more at home in the rooms styled for the chapter entitled "Shall I Put the Kettle On?" although it may be that this section with its threadbare rugs and well loved living spaces are what I find most appealing so I'd prefer to find my favorite characters there.

There is a helpful section at the book's end that talks about where you can find similar pieces to make your own home come alive with the spirit of these authors' descriptions.  There is a wide mix of stores and resources you can use to replicate the look of these rooms, and in addition to the quotes from the novels accompanying the photographs there are also hints about how to bring the charm or oppulence of each scene into your home in an approachable way.  For a person like me who considers themselves eclectic in my approach to decorating my home, this section is very dangerous, because I already long for the quirky, and having a resource to buy it from might spell trouble.  Thankfully I doubt I can afford any of the pieces I like the best (certainly not the Warhol piece or the goat legged table, but oh how I love them).

I must say I deeply regret leaving this book out on my end table.  It is beautiful, and worthy of display certainly, but it was so tasty and inviting my dog Cinna took a taste of it.  I am choosing to think she couldn't help herself when she saw the sumptuous interiors featured in this book.  I'm pretty upset with her, but you can't say she has bad taste.  I ate this book up too, just not so literally.

Thank you to the kind folks at Blogging for Books for providing me with this copy for review.  It was a treat for me and unfortunately for Cinna as well.  She was enamored of the marbled endpapers as much as I was.

Friday, December 26, 2014

The Frosty Vox Box From Influenster

Influenster is a great program where you can sample products from several brands for free in return for your honest feedback.  I receive an awesome box full of goodies every so often to test and play with and recently I was chosen as a recipient of the Frosty Vox box.  I've had a chance to try several of the products and always enjoy trying new things.

 The Frosty Vox Box was really exciting.  I will use every product included in this box.  There are a few items I already really enjoy like the the Candy Cane Lane tea from Celestial Seasonings and the McCormick spice which is a go to brand for me.

 The Fruit Vines strawberry bites were a surprise hit for me.  I don't enjoy Red Vines at all and I didn't think I would like these since the parent company is Red Vines but they are really good.  They have a nice texture similar to Australian style licorice and they were sweet and had a ton of strawberry flavor.  I'd love to try other flavors of these treats.

 I already love Candy Cane Lane teas.  It is my second favorite Celestial Seasonings tea flavor after Sleepytime.  I was happy they included a $.55 off coupon for my next box.

  The McCormick Gourmet spice was also a good box addition.  I don't often use thyme, but I like the new look of the packaging and I am happy to check out McCormick's new line.

 The EcoTools hairbrush was really nice and I liked the bristles but it made my hair very staticy.  The brush itself has vents that you can use while drying your hair.  I am going to try it again while blow drying to see if it adds shine.

  I haven't tried the Boots serum yet, but I have a few of their products from Target and I like the brand.  I have already received a packet in the Target Beauty Box so I will have enough for a few uses.  They also included a coupon to use towards the purchase of a full size.

I am always looking for oil free eye makeup remover and I've tried several brands.  This one by Rimmel is gentle and removed their waterproof eyeliner easily.  It had no fragrance and didn't leave behind an oily residue like other brands have.  I love that the bottle is so generously sized and affordable.

I must admit to having dozens of black eyeliners.  This Scandaleyes liner by Rimmel is a very inky black, applies smoothly and is great for control.  I like how it glides on and is smudge free once it has set.  I generally prefer liquid liners but the Rimmel liner reminds me of the Tarte smoldereyes liners which are my favorite brand.  I will definitely repurchase this if it is offered in a range of colors.

The New York Color lipstick in Sugarplum was a nice neutral pink, almost a nude shade.  I wasn't crazy about the scent of it and it was broken at the bottom of the bullet and I had to smash it back down into the package.  It was still useable, but had suffered from being tossed around in shipping.  I like the shade and it felt fine on the lips, but the scent lingered after it was applied and I removed it because it was unpleasant to me.  I have owned NYC makeup in the past including lip glosses that I adored, but this particular product wasn't a win for me.

This is the best Vox Box I've ever received in terms of products I enjoyed.  I'm happy to see makeup in the box and even happier that all the food items turned out to be things I like.  The eyeliner is my favorite discovery because the formula is very close to the Tarte products which I love.  Thank you Influenster for choosing me to be a part of the Frosty Vox box fun!

If you'd like to join me as an Influenster, click the Influenster button to the right and get ready to chat about all of your favorite brands.  It is so exciting to receive a whole box of awesome new finds and to interact with the brands directly.  Finding my Vox Box on the porch just before Christmas was an extra special gift.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

We had a very simple Christmas day and had dinner at my mother-in-law's house with Andy's brother Matthew.  There was much good food and conversation.  Even though today was lovely, I spent most of it missing my family back home.  It is my niece Niah's very first Christmas, and I'm sorry to have missed it.  I'm glad that there are lots of pictures and videos but wish I'd been there to see her open her presents and to see my nephew watch Christmas through his child's eyes.  I miss my family so much it hurts.

I've just set off my fourth crying jag of the day, and I can't spare any more tears, so I'll sign off for tonight.  I hope that wherever you are and whatever you celebrate that your day was a special one.  Much love to you all.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A Quiet Christmas Eve

I hope you are all having a lovely Christmas eve.  Andy surprised me by taking me to see Mockingjay and I really enjoyed it.  I love Jennifer Lawrence and think she is the perfect choice for Katniss.  The Hunger Games trilogy was my favorite book series since Harry Potter, so I was hoping the movies would do them justice and I haven't been disappointed.

  The theatre was decorated with so many trees and lights - I love Christmas decorations and I really love the Leitersburg theatre here in Hagerstown.  We're fortunate to have such a great theatre close to us.

I am also excited that there are so many movies coming up that look good.  I can't wait to see Into the Woods.  I've been waiting for two years to see the movie.  It is one of my top three favorite Broadway shows ever, and I've owned the stage production on VHS and later DVD for years.  The music sounds really promising, and I am trying to manage my expectations.  It does have Johnny Depp who I'm assuming will kind of suck as the wolf, but that remains to be seen.  I'm looking forward to seeing it this weekend.

There are some fabulous looking films coming out next year.  All kinds of sequels (like the one to Divergent which I just saw last night and loved.  I want to read the books now of course!) and also some brand new offerings like The Age of Adaline.  It's going to be an amazing at the movies.

I'm headed to bed I think.  I've been watching for Santa all night with the Santa tracker on the Norad website and I do believe he's almost here.  I hope you and yours are safe in your travels, happy in your day and joyous in your heart.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A Few of My Favorite Things Tag

Angie at My So Called Chaos did this fun tag on her blog and I thought it would be a great post for this evening.  Many of my answers would be lists a mile long, but I am trying my very best to keep it to three quick answers - whatever pops into my head gets first billing although it may not be tops on my all time favorite list.  These are things that bring me joy all year long.  I hope you'll share some of your favorite things with me in the comments or on Facebook. 

Products/Things - My HTC One phone, Lip stains (especially Ulta brand), Beauty subscriptions

Foods - Cheesecake, Pasta of any sort, Chocolate

Drinks - Iced chai lattes from Starbucks, Sweet tea, Pepsi Max

Films - Love Actually, Die Hard, While You Were Sleeping

Places - Sharon, PA, Epcot Center, New York City

Things you'd miss if you didn't have them - My comfy bed, My mom's dolls, My ever present blanket

Things you do when you're bored - Eat, Read, Bake

Things you enjoy when it's sunny - Walking in my neighborhood, Reading outside, Rainbows

TV Shows - Supernatural, Downton Abbey, Dexter

Songs - Vienna - Billy Joel, Drift Away - Dobie Gray, One Man Guy - Rufus Wainwright

Outdoor things you like - Rustling leaves, New fallen snow, Waterfalls 

Events - Weddings, Visits home, Opening Night for any theatrical production

Cartoons - The Last Unicorn, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Muppet Babies

Buildings - The Alabama Shakespeare Festival, The Flatiron Building, Buhl Mansion

Anything in everyday life - Cute coffee mugs, People who wink, The scent of vanilla or cinnamon

Traits in a person - Honesty, Loyalty, Wit

Influences - Instagram, Entertainment Weekly, Goodreads

Experiences - Catching fireflys, Reading the last pages of a book slowly, Kissing my Andy

Things to watch - Amanda Palmer's TED Talk, Jen Luv's Reviews Youtube, It's A Wonderful Life

Blogs - The Quivering Pen, WeLoveSwatches, Lavender Likes Loves Finds and Dreams

Books - Bag of Bones - Stephen King, The Hunger Games Trilogy, Fair and Tender Ladies - Lee Smith

I'm also going to add two categories just for fun:

Makeup Essentials - Bare Minerals Warmth, Benefit They're Real Mascara, Tarte eyeliners 

Subscription Boxes - Ipsy Glam Bag, Blush Mystery Beauty Box, Pop Sugar Must Haves

Please share your favorite things with me!

Monday, December 22, 2014

A Quilt For Christmas by Sandra Dallas

I was blessed to receive an ARC copy of the Sandra Dallas novel A Quilt For Christmas several weeks ago from the kind folks at St. Martin's Press.  The letter accompanying the book said it was a prize from a Goodreads giveaway, but I was never notified like I have been with other "first reads" wins.  No matter how it arrived in my mailbox, I am truly thankful I had the chance to read it.

 A Quilt For Christmas tells the story of Eliza Spooner, a wife and mother who is left at home to tend her children and farm when her husband leaves to fight for the Union in the Civil War.  In the opening chapters she is hard at work making a quilt with a down filling that she sends to her husband to keep him warm on the long and dangerous winter nights he spends on the battlefields.  She soon receives word that her beloved husband will not return to her and has to find a way to continue on through the loneliness and difficulties a woman faced at the time when the country was in turmoil and being a capable, independent individual was a role left only to  men.  Eliza finds the friendship and compassion of the women who form her quilting group a priceless gift that allows her to face her grief and heal from the loss of her dear husband.  She also recognizes a strength deep within herself she may have never known had her life not been touched by the tragedies she bravely faces.

This book is artful in the way it pieces together memories Eliza has of her husband Will, like the precious quilt tops the characters create.  The descriptions of the quilt patterns that she stitches with the help of the ladies in her quilting group are vivid and tie the story together.  From the Union flag that keeps Will warm under the December night sky to the Sunshine and Rain pattern of the quilt that graced their wedding bed, each story stitches itself like a new square into the lives of the characters and forms a picture of life during the Civil War for the women who called themselves "war widows" while their men were off fighting.  While the novel has a historical setting, the themes of friendship, grief, and the struggle to continue on are timeless and readers will find many characters they can identify with and grow to care for.  This novel is a prequel of sorts that deals with the grandmothers of the women in another book by Ms. Dallas called The Persian Pickle Club, and I look forward to reading it as well since I was taken with Eliza, Luzena, Mercy, Missouri Ann and all of the beautifully drawn women in this novel.

Although there is a Christmas scene in the book and the quilt that Eliza makes is intended as a Christmas gift for Will, this novel would be a great read at any time of year.  It would also make a lovely gift for anyone who appreciates quilting, historical novels that have romantic themes or for anyone who likes fine storytelling.
I have a few more Christmas themed books that I am going to try and review in the next few days.  I love books that are centered on the holidays and enjoy reading them year round, but especially during this time of year.  If there are any great holiday books you know of that you'd like to share with me please let me know!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Eggnog Bundt Cake

There was an easy bundt cake recipe featured in the Relish magazine that comes in the Sunday newspaper.  They often feature delicious looking treats and I clip the interesting ones and add them to my ever growing recipe box.  The recipe can be found here at

I didn't have a spice cake mix or vanilla yogurt on hand, and I forgot to check the recipe before I headed to the store today, so I substituted sour cream and a teaspoon of vanilla extract for the yogurt and used a butter pecan cake mix and added a teaspoon of cinnamon for the spice.  I also used some spiced candied pecan pieces to add a bit of sweetness and chose Southern Comfort Vanilla Spice eggnog because it is insanely good on its own.  Because of the changes I added a few minutes to the baking time.  50 minutes was just enough to have the cake be golden and done in the center.

They suggested you could cover it in a light dusting of powdered sugar, but I thought it could use a glaze to add sweetness.  The glaze is simply 3/4 cup of powdered sugar and a couple of tablespoons of Fireball whiskey.  I think it came out pretty swell!

I always feel like Betty Crocker when I whip up a Bundt cake, and I fully admit to humming "Somewhere That's Green" while I made this.  Truly, I like to imagine that I'm Ellen Green from the Little Shop of Horrors as often as possible so this isn't odd behavior.  She's flawless.

Hope you all had a lovely weekend.  Mine went way too fast!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Happy Birthday Mom

My mother Jane Kilbert is 77 years old today.  She has meant so many things to so many people throughout her life.  The folks in my family have been blessed to call her their daughter, niece, mother, mother-in-law, sister-in-law, aunt, cousin, grandmother, and now even great grandmother.  Everyone who has ever known her has been blessed to call her their friend.  She is a sweet woman who is unfailingly kind and shows great care and concern for everyone, especially for the people she loves.  She has room in her heart for her precious canine companions too and many animals have known her as the lady who cooks them eggs to order.  She's really awesome.  If she's not your mom, you ought to be jealous.  She rocks.  
She was a mysterious child.  You can tell by the veil.
She and my father have known and loved each other from childhood.
Her plaid coat was early proof of her style and flair.
With dad's class ring around her neck on her sixteenth birthday, she was queen of the world.
Here she is with one of her early (and likely spoiled) pets.  I think this is Boopsy.
She could've been a model, and she could rock red lipstick in a black and white photo.
See why my father couldn't keep his eyes off her?
Break out the dixie cups, mom was ready to celebrate.
Fast forward through five kids into a lifetime of love and support shown to her children.
And also to her  grandchildren who she adored even though they whipped her at cards (Marissa Jean).
At my nephew's wedding she said I could sell her picture on ebay to make money because it would be gorgeous.  She was right!
She had been married to my father for over fifty years at this point.  When I pointed that out she said "I really need a medal or something.  Maybe you could get me on Oprah.
This most recent picture with my niece on her wedding day thrilled mom to no end.
And after all these years and all the kids and the drama and beauty of a life well lived, she is still as lovely as ever.  Happy birthday mom.  Thank you for putting up with me when I was a bitchy teenager, for scraping me up and helping me move forward when my heart was broken and for taking Andy's face in your hands and saying "I'm so glad she finally found you, you're one of the good ones" when we were able to see you last.  I miss you so much and think about you and daddy constantly.  Every time I look in the mirror I see a bit more of you staring back at me, and there is nothing I'd rather be than a woman who is as sweet and loving as you.  I hope your birthday was amazing, and I'm so sorry I couldn't spend it with you, but I hope you know how very much I love you now and forever.

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Much Asked For Rum Truffle Recipe

It's just not Christmas without a liquor spiked ball of chocolate that knocks you off your feet.

Everyone asks for my rum balls recipe, and I have tried many variations that include cookie crumbs, chocolate rounds, various sugars, and flavorings other than spiced rum, but the recipe below has the most consistent results providing you don't go overboard and add too many extra splashes of liquor.  This makes about 40 rum truffles and by adding toppings like nuts or coconut which make them appear larger you can stretch the recipe further.  You can also dip the ball of candy in melted chocolate to coat it if you work really quickly, but it is best to chill the formed balls before you try this step.  I will often melt 1/4 cup white chocolate chips in a lunch bag for ten second intervals in the microwave and when it is melted and kneaded to have removed any lumps, I then snip the corner of the bag and use it to quickly pipe stripes or loops onto the finished, topping coated candies to make them look pretty.  Even when the mixture fails to set up you can use it as a frosting or you can throw it in the fridge overnight so it's a more workable texture.  Just cover it with plastic wrap so the candy doesn't absorb other flavors from the fridge and the rum doesn't evaporate.

- Scant 1/2 cup heavy cream
 Heat until just shimmering over low heat, be careful not to scald cream

- 12 oz. of high quality semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips or broken bar pieces
Add to hot cream, melt stirring constantly until smooth

- 1 scant cup of sifted powdered sugar
Remove melted chocolate from heat, add sugar to chocolate, stir until there are no large lumps.

- 4 tablespoons of warmed Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum or liquor of choice
Add to chocolate mixture, stirring constantly until glossy smooth and completely combined.

Chill mixture for at least an hour then use a melon baller to grab rounded portions, roll quickly between palms to smooth edges then roll in a mixture of
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
2 Tablespoons of powdered hot cocoa mix

Voila - rum ball city!

P.S. - The power of truly great rum balls is found in a Bacardi beanie and a dog who laughs at you.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Time For The Strait Steel Christmas Party!

In all the years Andy and I have been together his company has never had a Christmas party.  He has often talked about how they used to do this many years ago, but there hadn't been one since we've been together.  This year they had a lovely dinner for the employees and their families at the Chambersburg Country Club.

The tables were beautiful and they each had silver, red and green centerpieces that were made by several of the employees.  Everyone had a gift of a candied apple as part of their place setting.  As they entered each of the workers was given a Christmas card by the shop manager which they were later told had a special Christmas bonus for all their hard work.  There were tables of appetizers and cheese trays to snack on and everything was decorated with candles and pine.  All of the employees were wearing pink breast Cancer awareness ribbons in support of Mary Lou, who works in the company's office.  She was very touched by their show of support and gave an incredibly moving speech begging the ladies to have yearly mammograms since the early detection of her Cancer was due to her mammogram at her yearly exam.  She is such a strong woman, and when she said that she was a fighter, you knew she was telling the truth.  She's going to kick Cancer's ass when she goes for her masectomy this winter.

A local pastor said a blessing and then there were salads, dinner rolls and a dinner plate with a portion of steak, fresh vegetables, au gratin potatoes and a crab cake.  The crab cake was actually really delcious although I must admit I had never tried one before because I figured I wouldn't like it.  To no one's surprise Andy ate my steak.  It was covered with a cheese and garlic sauce that was tasty, but it was rare and it wasn't my favorite.  I should've made him give me his potatoes!

After dinner the pastor read the Christmas story from the bible although I'm not sure what version he used because I have never heard Joseph refer to Mary as his fiancee when they were looking for a room at the inn.  He gave a nice speech about faith and also talked about how Santa was always left a glass bottle of Coke rather than milk on Christmas eve since he gets tried of milk by the end of the evening.  I think this is a swell idea.  At my house we always left something for the reindeer because they get left out.  Being a reindeer is a thankless job.

Then Santa arrived!  He had a special gift for each child in attendance and they all had a turn going up and getting their special present.  The little girl in the picture above got an Elsa doll with a light up dress.  I was jealous.  I'm not even kidding.  If anyone wants to buy me a light up Elsa she will go on my Christmas tree.  She's the right color for my theme this year and she LIGHTS UP.  I probably ought to have told Santa, but as you know if you've read my blog, I get tongue tied around celebrities.

Mrs. Claus looked awesome and adorable.  I loved her apron.  It had gingerbread men on it.  I would've asked her where she got it, but again these folks have a holiday to run and cocoa to drink.  They're too important for dumb questions from a Christmas fangirl.

This Christmas party was really lovely.  I was happy to put some faces to names I've heard over and over again.  For the next ten years Andy will say "Sheldon.  You know Sheldon.  He was at the company Christmas party...." and I will roll my eyes at him because I met more than a dozen people that he thinks I know because I nodded at them at a fish rodeo that was seven years ago before we were even married.  He thinks this even though there are people I worked with for years at Target who I couldn't tell you their name if you were holding my chihuahua at gunpoint.

I wish we would have remembered to take a picture in our nice clothes, but we're old and forgetful, so you'll have to settle for this car selfie.  See Andy's fashionable seat belt and my glowing halo?  We're pretty cute.  You can't deny it.

Tomorrow there will be karaoke with friends and then I will pass out from sheer exhaustion.  Hope you all had a lovely day!