Wednesday, September 26, 2012

*i love you* Fudge

Barefoot Love!

*I Cook Barefooted!*

I'm not much of a chocolate fiend.
I wouldn't make a very convincing cookie monster. 
(Though I do like his style!)
And you pro-bab-ly won't see me high-tailin' it 
to catch up with the ice cream man on a hot day.

But wrap some homemade fudge up in a little blanket,
tie a love note to it,
address it to me...

and I will follow you around like a fat, sick puppy
because that is what I will be once I'm finished gorging on compliments and candy!



Seal and Deliver.

"I LOVE... 
That you can turn an off handed comment about broccoli 
into a three hour discussion about politics in organized sports."

A dear friend gave *i love you* jars as gifts to all us girls a few years ago for Christmas.
I fell in love with her idea and did the same for my Kentucky family.
After collecting mason jars of all sizes, shapes, and colors,
scouting out the best (and idiot proof) 
homemade fudge recipes I could find,
and hunkering down with pen and paper,
I continued the gift that kept on giving... 
I spread around the LOVE!

*I wonder if she knows just what she's started.*

"I LOVE...
That you get so excited about everything you do.
Nothing half ass for Scarlett."

       ~ A few of my favorites ~

S'more Fudge
 2 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1 (7 oz. jar) marshmallow creme
2 cups chocolate chips
1 tsp. vanilla

Butter a small square pan.
In a large pot, combine sugar, butter and evaporated milk.
Bring to a boil over medium heat;
stirring constantly.
Boil 5 minutes and remove from heat.
Add marshmallow creme and chocolate chips.
Blend till smooth.
Stir in vanilla.
Pour into pan and cool to room temperature. 
Score the fudge into small square pieces.
Refrigerate till firm.
Remove fudge from pan and cut rest of way through.
"A piece for You. A piece for Me."

Chocolate Mint Fudge
1 (12 oz.) pkg. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
6 oz. white chocolate
2 tsp. vanilla
1 Tbsp. peppermint extract

Add 1 cup milk to chocolate chips. Melt.
Add vanilla.
Pour half of the mixture into an 8x8 in. wax paper-lined pan.
Let cool for 10 minutes. 
Melt white chocolate with remaining milk.
Add peppermint and green food coloring.
(Mixture will be very thick.)
Spread on first layer.
Cool another 10 minutes.
Top with other half of chocolate mixture.
Remove from pan, remove paper. Cut into squares.
"A piece for You. A piece for Me."

Maple Nut Fudge
1 cup maple syrup
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup cream
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Boil sugar, cream, and butter until soft ball stage is reached.
Add nuts and vanilla.
Beat until ready to pour into wax paper-lined pan.
"A piece for You. A piece for Me." 


You want reviews?
How 'bout,
"I Love... This!"

 How 'bout You?
Have a recipe you want to share on 
*I Cook Barefooted!*?
Show some Barefoot Love and...

Send it here: 
Want to include a photo? Fun!

What's on your table?

“Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions.
All life is an experiment.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

 *Barefoot Love* Airbrush By, Colleen 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Summer's End

Life's Inspirational Valiant Endeavors
~ Summer's End ~
"We carry within us all the wonders we seek without."  ~ Sir Thomas Browne

Summer's end always sets me on a familiar path; tender shoots of late summer grass beneath my feet, sunlight that plays on my face and warms my toes, cool breezes dancing through the trees, fire smoke on the air, and the promise of time to come shared with friends and family. Already well acquainted with autumn's glory, though having grown unaccustomed these last miserably hot months spent indoors; still the question is raised in my mind... am I living a meaningful life? If I am to believe 'to everything there is a season' then why do I always find myself contemplating my failures, rather than applauding my successes?

I, in fact, did plant my garden this summer... only to stand by, feeling incredibly lazy in my helplessness, as the fruits of my labor shriveled in the harshest drought these parts have seen in a long time. (Fail.) 

I did weep over my losses, and mourned as long as mourning was acceptable in the normal order of things. (Success?)

 I did refrain from smothering embracing my children when my needs exceeded their own. (No wait. I got this one. Suc-cess!... *High fives everyone.* I think.)

I do did, I occasionally, inflict self-loathing onto my sometimes delicate voracious psyche. 
(I suck.)

And I did, in fact, not speak when I should have cried out from the top of a mountain. I may have taken some liberties with this one a bit. Though still true. (Complete and utter failure.) 

I suppose one could argue (me) that I did, in theory, succeed at something. I did contemplate my failures, while at the same time basking in my success(es)... that I had, at the very least, truly contemplated my failures. So there's that.

"A time for every purpose under the sun" right? Perhaps the answer, interwoven deep within these failures of mine, is where I will triumph at last. At the moment, I think I may have forgotten what I have failed and or succeeded in to begin with. So the point is moot.
To everything there is a season,
a time for every purpose under the sun.
A time to be born and a time to die;
a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
a time to kill and a time to heal...
a time to weep and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn and a time to dance...
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to lose and a time to seek;
a time to rend and a time to sew;
a time to keep silent and a time to speak;
a time to love and a time to hate;
a time for war and a time for peace.
~ Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 ~

A meaningful life? 
Ahhh, September! 
How do I love thee? 
Let me count the ways.

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass on a summer day listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is hardly a waste of time. ~John Lubbock

On a good day, a day like any other, a day when searching for and accepting balance into my life is my heart and mind's sole purpose; I suppose that is a day lived in the pursuit of meaning. That is a day when love and wisdom take charge, watching over my successes and correcting my failures. And that is more than 'good enough'. That is a force for good. Though it always helps to be reminded, every once in a while. We learn through repetition, after all. And it all started...

Well, very close to kindergarten.

"All I Really Need To Know about how to live and what to do and how to be 
I learned in kindergarten. 
Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate-school mountain, 
but there in the sandpile at Sunday School. These are the things I learned:

Share everything.
Play fair.
Don't hit people.
Put things back where you found them.
Clean up your own mess.
Don't take things that aren't yours.
Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.
Wash your hands before you eat.
Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
Live a balanced life ~
...learn some and think some
and draw and paint and sing and dance and play
and work every day some.
Take a nap every afternoon.
When you go out into the world,
watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.
Be aware of wonder.
Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup:
The roots go down and the plant goes up
and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
Goldfish and hamsters and white mice
and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup ~ they all die.
So do we.
And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books
and the first word you learned ~
the biggest word of all...

Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. 
The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation. 
Ecology and politics and equality and sane living.
And it is still true,
no matter how old you are ~
when you go out into the world,
it is best to hold hands and stick together."

Love My Friends
... and happy learning!

“The best way out is always through.”
~ Robert Frost


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

"And they lived happily ever after!"

Life's Inspirational Valiant Endeavors
~ "And they lived happily ever after!" ~
Let's see if I have this right. The prince wanders too far from the castle one night seeking good deeds to be done and a good time, inadvertently crossing paths with a witch of a woman (it's always a woman) that's just stumbled out of crazytown looking for a wayward prince she can undo (in the philosophical sense). Calling on her extensive knowledge of the black arts and the widely accepted truth that amphibians are a buzz kill in the bedroom, she promptly turns the young, impulsive, wet behind the ears prince into a toad. When asked why all the hostility, she grumbles, "...because, Dearie, I can." 

Cue the dewey-eyed, virginal prin-cess: merciful, sincere and a free spirit. This trusting, but clever young thing too big for her britches, strays too far from the watchful eye of those who practice common sense (her royally wary parents) searching for true love in the form of anything-not-resembling-a-toad... and a good education. 

The prin-cess falls head-over-heels for the toad.
The prince/de-cursed and reformed toad is humbled by his good luck.
They are wedded, bedded (in that order) and wake to a Whole New World where they all too soon stand facing the true meaning of marriage, parenthood... and, as is the way of the world and gravity,  inevitably a mid-life crisis in the halls of an empty castle, no longer ripe with their own youthful, wide-eyed optimism and the sweet anarchy which their children so generously delivered. But, glory be, if their luck has held out, they still have each other and all is well enough.

The witch still creeps about wreaking havoc on unsuspecting travelers, and kids with candy . The murky depths of the swamp still  shelters a toad or two. And dewey-eyed prin-cesses continue the search for themselves in fairy tales. Life goes on. The world still holds its place, inexplicably, in the universe. A moral can still be found in a good story.

"And they live happily ever after!"

Here's what boggles my mind, and disrupts my calm. The closer I inch toward the end of my life... Married: check. Babies: check. Empty castle: looming... the less infinite it becomes. (Why yes, I am married in my mid-forties with babies who are all grown up with one foot out the door. Why do you ask? ) 

People, please... for argument's sake:  If any point in an infinite universe, whether real or imagined, is in fact the center of that universe, does the fact that I recognize my own mortality, in my shriveling womb, somehow explain why I no longer feel like the center of my own universe? And if so, why'd I have to go and have a mess of kids that are, ultimately, just going to fly the coop ( the castle, in which, I live ) with their little royal tail feathers dancing in the winds of their own storybook universes, following dreams of their own making in search of their own happy endings? Is this circle of life thing meant to leave us doomed-to-be-empty-mortgage holders floating aimlessly in one gigantic, but limited, universe wishing for our carefree toad and prin-cess days again... and not merely as the victims of the stereotypical characterization and plot?

Searching for the answers to nonsensical questions like these keep this forty-something year old prin-cess up at night. I find the most reasonable path to sanity is to simply take a deep breath, place my head on my pillow, and try to think happy thoughts.

Like this one.

When my little prin-cess was still a little girl, I tucked her into bed listening as she, in her still infinite universe, stalled her bedtime with her own questions.  

"Mom," she asked, "what would you do if you were adopted by aliens?"

"I guess I'd ask 'em for a new spaceship," I answered. Why not, I thought. Isn't that what any prin-cess might ask for when presented with their new storybook alien parents?

She looked relieved. "So, you could come back to Earth then... anytime you wanted," she asked.
I realized then, of course, what she'd meant was "abducted". What would you do if you were abducted by aliens... not adopted. Not taken in by those who would give you your very own spaceship, dote on your every prin-cess need or whimsy, but rather those who might tear you from this world of castles and toads and fairy tale endings, thereby introducing you to real terror. 

And... there it is. The answer to my question. The very meaning of life all wrapped up in a little girl/prin-cess poised, ever so delicately, in the center of her infinite universe on the very edge of reason. 

Frightened by what tomorrow might bring, it is in our very nature to try to predict what may happen next week or next year or when we're old as dirt... as our light in this Great Big Universe passes on. Will evil ("the nasty old witch") reign? Will someone ("the strong and handsome prince") come to our rescue? Could I ("the equally strong and lovely prin-cess") summon the strength to rescue him right back? As children we are in constant motion, exercising our bodies and our senses, observing our world around us, asking questions... writing our own stories and our own endings. 

How often I do find myself lost in a fairy tale of my own making, and asking this question... Is my life a comedy or a tragedy? Well, I guess I'd better get busy writing!

Peace My Friends
... and happy writing!

“The best way out is always through.”
~ Robert Frost