Are you desperate to go viral?

If you have ever typed “how to go viral” into a search field, this infographic is for you. I would say that it’s good to sniff out the desperate social media “experts” among us too, but their frenzied efforts are rather obvious to the rest of us, no?

Are you desperate to go viral infographic

For the Love of Fudge

Fudge

I love fudge, I really do, but I try not to consume too much. I would hate to have a fudge related event similar to that of the tequilla incident of 1992. My fudge is just too good to have it on the Never Again list because of one night of chocolate debauchery.

Instead of eating all the fudge I make, I give it as Christmas gifts. I’ve been giving fudge for so long that people now ask me what my fudge making schedule looks like and when will I be bringing them some. If anyone ever said they did not like this fudge I would have to re-evaluate their place in my life.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 7 1/2 oz jar of marshmallow creme/fluff
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup topping of choice. (optional) My favourites are score bits or chopped and toasted pecans, walnuts, or almonds.

Directions:

  1. Line a 9×9 pan with foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray. It’s important to have this ready ahead of time. Trust me.
  2. In a large pot mix the first four ingredients.
  3. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture comes to a roiling boil.
  4. Continue to boil and stir for 3 minutes.
  5. After the 3 minutes of boiling turn off the heat and add the chocolate chips and vanilla.
  6. Stir until all the chocolate chips are melted and evenly combined with the marshmallow mixture.
  7. Pour into the prepared pan and spread evenly.
  8. Add the topping if using.
  9. Let cool.

The great thing about lining the pan with tin foil is that you can pop your square of fudge out of the pan to cut it. This makes things so much easier. I also spray my knife with non-stick spray before cutting the fudge to help it slide through easily and give me a nice cut edge.

Depending on the gift tins or boxes I have to use for food gifts, I either cut the fudge into 1-2 inch squares or I cut the whole 9×9 square of fudge into six chunks. If you happen to be making this fudge for yourself and not for gift giving, remember to please consume responsibly. No one wants fudge on their Never Again list.

My Gift to You: Apple and Cranberry Stuffing

Apple Cranberry Stuffing

Bring on the elastic waistband pants!

It’s Christmastime. A time for giving and, let’s face it, elastic waistband pants. Put on your stretchiest pair because once you try a bite of this delicious apple and cranberry stuffing, you won’t be able to stop.

My gift to you is the apple and cranberry stuffing recipe. It is inspired by Ruth Lamont’s recipe found in Tried and True (The Bake Sale Recipes Revealed) A Community Cookbook.

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 8 cups of fresh white bread cut into cubes
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 2 cups peeled and chopped apples (I use Gala)

Making it happen:

  1. Preheat your oven to 325.
  2. In a large pot, saute the onion, celery, and butter until the onions start to become clear.
  3. Add the salt, poulty seasoning, and pepper to the onion mixture and stir to distribute evenly.
    If you want to pretend like you are on a televised cooking show or you take yourself entirely too seriously, measure out your spices into individual tiny glass bowls first.
  4. Add the bread cubes and stir to coat them with the onion mixture.
  5. Whisk the eggs and milk, pour over the bread mixture, and fold until all the bread is moistened.
  6. Fold in the cranberries and apples.
  7. Spoon the stuffing mixture into a greased casserole dish (not into a turkey) and bake uncovered for 45 minutes.
    I confess that before I pop my casserole dish into the oven, I arrange the cranberries that ended up on top so that my stuffing will look pretty when it comes out of the oven. Don’t judge, a pretty casserole is a major win for me and I will take my wins where I can get them.

This recipe is my gift to you, but if you want to give to others, check out the Gifts From the Kitchen post over at Life In Pleasantville.

Merry Christmas!

* This post is a modified version of my Stuff It post. I know I just posted it in October for Canadian Thanksgiving, but it’s the best Christmas gift I could think to give to you. Enjoy!

Dear Revlon, I’m Available

Dear Revlon, Maybeline, Covergirl, Rimmel, Almay, Annabelle, and Loreal

Today I went shopping for a starter makeup kit for my tween niece. You know what you had to offer? Nothing. Nada. Zip. Goose egg. This is a serious misstep on your part. I know you as a group of companies cater to different age markets, but do you not realize that you have an opportunity to get in with a market group that has money now and will only get more later? If you start your relationship with tweens now, you could have decades of loyalty. You are missing out.

I want you to put out a starter makeup kit with a rainbow of colours in rainbow order (they are still kids after all). I want hues that are soft and subtle but fun. Nothing garish. I want you to make this so that I can buy it and feel good about my purchase. I do not want to buy the makeup kits that crop up at Christmas time that are produced in countries that have no laws about lead or other carcinogens in their products. I also don’t want to go to Sephora. It has exactly what you refuse to make, but it is in a mall and that makes me want to gouge out my own eyes with a fork. So, back to your soon-to-be-released makeup kit, please include ten eyeshadows, one brown and one purple eyeliner, three blushes, and a dark brown mascara. How hard is that? A couple of foam tip brushes and a not-the-crappiest-quality blush brush and we’re good to go. I’ll pay up to $50.00.

I am available for Christmas marketing consultation. Please, for the love of gawd, employ me, you need my help.

Regards,

Kelly Given Williams, gifting consultant

Candy and Snowmen, What Could be Better?

Snowman candy jar

I’m cute and delicious, what more could you want?

A very special lady taught me this snowman candy jar craft. I love her and I miss her. Sharing this craft is a way for me spread her joy and isn’t that what Christmas is all about?

Here’s what you will need:

  • round candle holder or vase (This will be the body.)
  • styrofoam ball (This will be the head, so choose an appropriate size in comparison to your body.
  • googly eyes
  • orange pipe cleaner
  • black felt
  • a sock that fits onto the styrofoam ball
  • yarn
  • scissors
  • hot glue gun and hot glue sticks
  • CANDY of course!

You can get everything from that list from most dollar stores except the glue gun and glue.

For the face:

  1. Hot glue the googly eyes in place.
  2. Cut a piece of orange pipe cleaner long enough for the nose plus a little extra to stick into the styrofoam ball. Jam that little faux carrot wherever you think the nose should be. It’s art, not exact science.
  3. For the mouth, cut five or six little circles out of the black felt. The size is up to you. They don’t have to be perfect circles, they are supposed to be coal remember. Hot glue those in place. Good luck not burning yourself with the hot glue.

Tada! you have a snowman head. If you want, you can quit right now. I won’t judge.

I have made many a hat for my snowman candy jars in the past. I have made top hats out of felt, ear muffs with a pipe cleaner and some pompoms, even crocheted little toques, but this toque is by far the easiest.

For the hat:

  1. Slip the sock on your snowman’s head.
  2. Gather the sock together at the top and tie a piece of your yarn around it tightly.
  3. Cut off the sock about an inch or so above the yarn.
  4. Tie the yarn into a bow.

See? Super easy.

For the scarf I just braided yarn together and knotted the ends. My snowman’s neck was about 24 cm (9.5 in) around, so I just doubled that to figure out how long my yarn should be. This is what to do:

  1. Cut 12 pieces of yarn 48 cm (19 in) long.
  2. Knot one end together.
  3. Divide the strands into three equal sections.
  4. Braid.
  5. Knot at the end of the braid.

Depending on the design of your snowman’s body, you might have to hot glue the scarf in place so it doesn’t slip off when you take off his head.

That’s it! Is that not the cutest, most delicious snowman you’ve seen?

Don’t Be a Rage Floozy

Raging bull

Let me at ’em!

Choo choo! The outrage train is leaving the station and I’m not getting on it unless it’s going somewhere that truly offends me as a human being. I’m no rage floozy going around giving my ire to every wanker that says something stupid (hello Chip Wilson), or small organization that lacks common sense (*waves to Manitoba’s Early Learning and Child Care Department*), or even to “role models” that lick hammers or publicly pee in mop buckets. My anger has more value than that and I simply do not have the energy to be incensed by every misstep people make. If people took a chunk out of me every time I said or did something dumb, there would be nothing left of me.

People in the public eye are still people. Yes, Chip Wilson said something really stupid. He also said there were problems with his product. Maybe he’s an asshole, but so what? Why are people giving this guy so much of their energy? Move on. Has Manitoba’s Early Learning and Child Care Department lost the point on their well-intentioned nutrition guidelines? Yep. Is it rage worthy? No. They just need some help with practical implementation.

If you want to be outraged, how about throwing your wrath at organized gang rape (yes, Roast Busters, I mean you), or the hypocritical cesspool of massive money-making organizations that do exactly the opposite of what they say they do (*cough* rhymes with RETA *cough*), or the majority of governments that will sell your country out for an extra dime and wreak horrendous environmental damage all while smiling at the camera (I’m looking at you Stephen Harper). That my friends is rage-worthy. Don’t give it away. Honestly, it’s too valuable a commodity.

My Precious

I don’t have a great intro for this post. All I can say is that I did this wine crate DIY project and I’m now referring to them as “my precious”. Check it out.

It all started with my mess of a baker’s rack. This is its before:

Bakers Rack Before

It was actually worse than this because it had a giant microwave on it. Can you say ugly clutter?

I knew something had to be done to tidy up the baker’s rack. I really need the storage, so containment or concealment were my two main options. After considering both, I decided I would go with containment. I remembered reading about how some liquor stores sell their used wine crates, so I decided I would give that a try. I popped into our local LCBO and spoke to customer service. Turns out the wine crates are handled by the Product Manager. The store that I went to didn’t “sell” them to me, they “gave” them to me but asked for a $3.00 donation per box to the Humane Society. Still, a beautiful wood box for $3.00? Yes, please.

Here’s an example of one of my crates:

Unstained wine crate

Even au naturel, it’s gorgeous.

I got three large crates. There is a smaller crate that you can get too, but I needed as much storage as possible. Next was a quick visit to Canadian Tire for a nice walnut wood stain, a foam paint brush, and some 120 grit sandpaper. I bought the Saman brand of stain because it said that it “doesn’t cause wood grain raising and doesn’t leave any sign of brush overlap”. I put aside my jaded cynicism regarding product claims and believed that this stain would do what it said.

Once home, I took my haul to the basement along with a disposable cup and a ratty dishcloth so I could get started. I lightly sanded everything then wiped it with a damp cloth. As far as staining goes here’s my master lesson: paint the stain on, then wipe it off. The longer you wait to wipe it off, the darker or more saturated the colour. That’s it. You’re welcome.

The walnut stain on it’s own was fine, but it made the wood look a little dry. There was no luster. I found some tips on Pinterest for making your own wood polish with beeswax and olive oil. I would like to say I followed a recipe but I didn’t. I threw maybe 1/4 cup of beeswax and about 1/2 cup of olive oil into a double broiler until the beeswax melted, gave it a quick stir and poured it into small, wide-mouth glass jars. I used another ratty cloth to rub the polish into the wood and wow, did it make a difference. See for yourself;

I did not think I would get so jazzed over homemade furniture polish, yet here I am.

I did not think I would get so jazzed over homemade furniture polish, yet here I am.

This one is my favourites:

WineBox7

It took a little bit of shuffling, but here’s what my baker’s rack looks like now.

Baker's rack after.

No longer the shame of my kitchen.

Have any pretty storage solutions you want to share? Seriously, I will take any help you lovely people have to offer.