So I made a total of 9 different types of fudge this xmas. Its the first time I’ve ever made fudge, I tend to do things until I can do them really well. Of the 9 trays only 5 actually set up and worked, so my friends and family all received peanut butter chocolate, chocolate, pomegranate, funfetti, and orange. I was left with gloopy trays filled with oreo, chocolate peppermint, lemon and pumpkin fudge.
My first thought was that there must be a way to recover fudge that didn’t set all the way, there were actually a few articles about how to fix bad fudge – I headed in and failed miserably at this. Essentially I think the theory may work for recipes in which the last stage of the recipe is to heat to the soft-ball stage, BUT when the recipe heats first and then adds in a bunch of stuff (like marshmallow fluff) after removing the heat – its impossible to go backwards.
I poured my melty fudge into mason jars and let them sit for a couple days while I consulted my elders (Nana) on what to do to with the mess, I just couldn’t bring myself to waste THAT much sugar, chocolate, etc… Nana’s suggestion was to make ice cream toppings.
Today I attacked the chocolate peppermint while the kids napped. I adapted a recipe for syrup from the Ball website to get processing time and heated the fudge to boiling to mimic the same temp/conditions of the recipe. To get the correct consistency for the fudge sauce I added about 3/4 cup of soymilk and very slowly heated the mixture to try to make the whole thing more smooth and allow the peppermint chunks time to melt.
I extended the processing time from 10 to more like 15min just to make sure there was time for all of the air to escape from the jars. To my good fortune the last of the jars came out of the pot JUST as the kids woke up and all of the lids popped within 30 seconds.To finish it all off I added cute little labels to the jars and packed them neatly away until I can deliver them to friends and family (there is no way we can eat 8 jars of hot fudge anytime soon). I’m going to wait on the others for now, I’m still a little unsure if I want to can them up or just use them as icing on a bunt cake or something, I’m sure I’ll come up with a practical use for them in the next couple of weeks.
A few days ago I came across this awesome calendar on MySimplerLife.Com – its a full year worth of organizational tasks. After reading through it I’m totally psyched to work on my own modified version of this calendar/process. The biggest changes I’m going to make will be that Saturdays become DIY day – so anything which is to be made for the next weeks tasks or needs to be fixed from the last week can be addressed. Other modifications have to do with the fact that in total I can only spend like 5-10min each day on house stuff so its gotta be really quick tasks.
In preparation for my new years plan I’ve made sure the house is mostly clean. There are still a number of small problem areas – mostly spaces that just don’t work. No matter how often I clean them up they just collect stuff over and over again. My hope is that this whole organizational process will help get those areas into functional parts of our household. You can see below that while the floors may be clean the house is still kinda messy.
Some things are seemingly simple, like the dresser tops – while others are totally insane, like the unfinished trash/broom closet. And then there’s the laundry room, I think fire may be the only solution for that one…
In the next few days I’m going to do some checking around for storage that I know is needed – like more bookshelves on craigslist and freecycle. But even without it I’m sure I can make temporary due by just labeling boxes and it might even motivate me to put more into the give away box then I otherwise would have.
So the craziness of the holiday season is coming to a close, and while the tree still gets a few more days to occupy precious floor space in the living room, most of the holiday stuff has already been put away. Each year as the season approaches I swear that I’ll be more organized, that I’ll have everything purchased and wrapped ahead of time, that I won’t spend all day cooking and cleaning and that THIS year I’ll get cards mailed out. Likewise each year as I recover the house from under the piles of crumpled paper and candy bits I swear that I’m going to take the time to put things away correctly so its not quite so crazy next year. While I don’t really see any hope in sight of the pre-season activities getting any better, my post season has gone pretty well.
My Wrapping Box
For the past few months I’ve been saving toilet paper rolls in our craft area (also known as the chair in the corner). Wasn’t sure quite what they were for yet but just felt compelled to create a little stash of them for some project that I knew would appear. As it turns out, I was saving them to store all of my wrapping ribbons. About 2 hours on Monday were spent sorting through the papers to be recycled/wrapping to be saved in an attempt to organize the wrapping. I think it worked out pretty well – and would not have taken nearly so long if there hadn’t been a toddler balloon fight in the background.
I just coiled the longer ribbons around the tubes and then secured with either a piece of tape or a rubber band (depending on the type of ribbon) and then separated the different coils by a rubber band in between to create even spacing. Then inside each of the toilet paper tubes I stuffed a bow of some sort in a complementary color. For all the shorter pieces of ribbon I created a long tube and wrapped all of them on a single tube/roll – in order to distinguish that these cannot be used for normal sized presents and are meant for tiny gifts or for bows. Nothing is quite so annoying as when you grab ribbon, have it almost all the way around your present and realize that its just a bit too short – argh!!!! The last bit of organization I attempted was taking all of the scraps of curling ribbon and making cute little curly bows out of them, one less thing in the trash and a little less work for next year.
For about 3-4 years now I’ve been using brown paper to wrap all of my xmas gifts. My hope is that a few years down the line I’ll be free of all of the printed papers and gift bags and my wrapping station can just consist of packing paper, a few boxes, tissue paper and lots of pretty ribbon.