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ChocoMom

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  1. @Tiffany B ASpecialtyBox has some boxes/inserts that are pretty similar to what you've got there. Not the actual pattern, but the style is quite close from what I can tell. FWIW, their rigid boxes are top notch, and the price reflects it. Sometimes though, items do go on sale. (They kill me on shipping, but I still order my premium corporate gift packaging from them.)
  2. This is the first time I've done stripes- and they ended up on a car. Its meant to be a replica of a classic car that my friend's husband owns. She asked me to do a dozen of these for his 80th birthday... Edited to add that the colors are from Roxy & Rich - Yellow Chrysoberyl and PIrate Black.
  3. Wandered out to the grapevines today. Most of the snow has finally melted, but there is still a little. (Had a goofy little snowstorm Wednesday night). Noticed that the blackberries spread voraciously amongst the grapevines, so I spent two hours out there chopping away at the bases of the blackberries. I love the blackberries, but they have their respective patches: One way out back, and one up front. We figured a bear took to munching on them years ago, and his/her droppings "planted" the ones we're trying to get rid of. My arms bear the markings of thorn exposure. Should look stunning when I dress for church tomorrow....in my cap-sleeve dress.
  4. @Kerry Beal... I'm not sure. We've had a mix of young and old hens, and I don't really know which ones popped out the doubles. I always thought their productivity - single or double yolkers - was related the amount of sunlight and nutrients they received. I do recall that when the younger ones had just started laying daily, some of them would pop out 2 eggs per day, so, maybe that could segue into one egg with two yolks later on. (?) I will report back, should I come across any doubles with this gang.
  5. With zero time for planning out the cake for a double birthday (oldest kid and youngest kid), and being pretty exhausted from a long work week, managed to throw together a 4 layer cake with candy layers. Ran to the store twice for ingredients as the cake layers were cooling. Top two layers are pistachio-vanilla swirl, chocolate diplomat creme filling with chopped twix and MM's in between layers. Bottom two layers are yellow cake with the chocolate diplomat creme filling, Reeses pieces, MMs and chocolate covered pretzels. Outside is a fluffy vanilla bean buttercream. Keto diet be damned. I ate a goodly amount of that frosting. =)
  6. Haven't had to buy eggs this week. My geriatric chickens seem to be adapting to the warmer weather. Got six of these beauties yesterday! No double-yolkers, though.
  7. Nashville Wraps has a line of Eco-friendly gift bags and tissue papers. They are made from 100pct recycled paper. =)
  8. I felt a little odd buying a gazillion lemons and limes this past week...I feel better knowing I wasn't the only one! Needed Key Limes for a ganache in the shop. Lime zest for the raspberry-lime diplomat cream (filling for one of tomorrow's desserts.); Lemons for my lemon meringue cheesecake; Lemon juice for the hollandaise sauce for tomorrow's pan roasted asparagus side. The glorious thing about it all, was that the lemons were on sale 2/$1 for 1 day this week, and I hit the store on that day. =) We're having 19 people for dinner tomorrow...so....needed ample desserts and sauce.
  9. I grew up with a mom and two grans that wore aprons. I inherited my one gran's apron collection- which is no more, but it was classic. She had everything from cocktail waitress to grandma styles. I have two aprons now....one with a pattern of chocolate pralines all over it- that a dear friend made for me (with a set of matching potholders)...that one stays in the chocolate shop. The other one is longer, and has a large rooster on it- which i use almost every day in the home kitchen. We sometimes end up with too many people in the cooking area, which equates to bumps, splashes, sorry Mom, oops...etc. So, I need protection from splatters, flour and whatever. Now that I am back to work outside the home, I am particularly protective of my work clothes. In my haste to get ready for work, and also get meals ready for the fam, I use the apron for protection so I don't have to change clothes in case of an accident.
  10. Re: blueberry ganache. I did this a couple times, pre-fire, and lost the formula I had worked on. I recall using milk chocolate ( I know, weird...but it worked well), blueberry powder, and essentially, blueberry "jam" strained through mesh. If memory serves me, I may have popped in a bit of blueberry schnapps, and a few grains of tartaric or citric acid. The blueberry powder is indeed a little pricey. 4 oz of the organic blueberry powder on Nuts.com runs $20.99. There must've been a price increase, because I don't think I paid that much before. Having said that, a little of the powder goes a LONG way. Have not tried doing a lemon PdF, so I can't offer much help there. I have done other PdF's using Agar - which were very successful, so perhaps trying another gelling agent might yield a different result?
  11. @Ann_T Thank you so much for posting the link to the Kaiser rolls!!! I was surprised to have some much-needed down time this week, and a need for Kaisers. So....I made them- not once, not twice, but three times this week!!! (There was a fourth time, but I had a temporary memory lapse, and ended up making a round loaf of bread in my Dutch oven with that same dough.) My entire family thanks you, as well!! The recipe is now engrained in my memory.
  12. Consistently great food and atmosphere are both top priorities. Service is a close second. And the reason I say that, is because "service" can be rated in different ways. Length of time in having the order taken, length of time to receive the food, waitstaff attitudes/behavior, etc. So, if a great plate of food takes longer to get, I can forgive the time issue. A prime example of a restaurant with a perfect balance of great food, great atmosphere, and a fabulous staff- (IMHO) would be the Dearborn Inn. I've been going there for nearly my whole life, more sporadically in the last 20 years. But, never once has the food, atmosphere or service been anything short of perfect. (Their coffee is amazing, too!) The staff we've dealt with there are the kindest people, as well. My Dad had always made an effort to learn the names of everyone he met. He'd say their name, shake their hand, and say their name again. One of the waiters must have been quite touched by that, and for decades, he was always there when our family would visit, and would serve us. When my Dad became confined to a wheelchair years later, this particular waiter wanted to be alerted if my parents pulled in, so he'd do his best to meet them near the entrance, wheel him in, seat him and my Mom, serve them, and then wheel my Dad out, help him into the car, fold up the wheelchair, put it in the back, and help my Mom into the car. He even came to both of their funerals. He took care of me graciously, when I went there a couple times, after my brother died this past August. The hostess knew my parents well, also, and would alert the waiter whenever she'd see them/us come in. The pastry chef and/or servers even knew how fond my mother was of raspberries. Whatever she'd order as a dessert or breakfast side, if it was appropriate, ended up with mounds of extra raspberries., or a bowl of raspberries on the side. Its like they just knew. And honestly, I don't know that my parents were really singled out, because the Inn had/has many "regulars". The staff really seems to dote on every patron. Its just that extra effort they put forth with fantastic attitudes that makes you feel welcome and well-cared for. There are certain places that just seem to tick all the boxes, and that one is at the tippy top of my list.
  13. ChocoMom

    Aldi

    There are two Aldi stores we go to, whenever we're nearby. They're both 3 hours away. They both had 1 pound packages of butter for $1.99. Apparently, they don't let you buy more than 5 in one trip. (I tried to get 6 one time- right before Christmas. ) I don't get there too often. My husband has a newly remodeled Aldi near a couple of his hotels in WI, that he frequents during his on-site visits. I text him my grocery list, and he gets whatever he can find. It is always packed with customers, and food does not stay on the shelves long there.
  14. I'm no expert on French pastry cream, but if you're interested in adding powerful raspberry flavor minus the weight of a puree...raspberry powder made from freeze dried raspberries works wonders. HTH.
  15. I've been pleasantly surprised by my favorite grocery store's pricing lately. Usually, the pricing, esp. produce, is quite high this time of year, but, blueberries and strawberries have been insanely inexpensive as of late, with exceptional quality and flavor. The blueberries, 2 (pints) for $5 , were plump, juicy and not one squished little bub in the whole bunch! Strawberries- 2 (quarts) for $5 - same deal. Ripe, none were moldy or squishy, and they actually tasted like a strawberry. Most of the winter berries we get up here look more orange than red, and the flavor has no resemblance to a strawberry. Asparagus was only $2.99/bunch- about a pound or so. Melons, pineapples, lettuces, cukes, spring onions, ....the list goes on and on. Chicken breasts were on sale as well, and the dairy dept. blew me away. Almost everything I needed was buy one, get one free. Special K - all the varieties were 2/$4. My favorite coffee- Cameron's, was 2/$10. Normally, it's $6.99/lb. This blew me away yesterday. My hubby and kids love the store-made fried chicken from the deli. Normally, it's $8.99/8 pc bucket. Yesterday, I was gobsmacked. I was in a hurry to get lunch on the table, but I was stuck in town for longer than expected. So, I ran into my favorite store, for the chicken. Not only did I get the 8 piece bucket of chicken, but also a TUB of mashies, a TUB of gravy, 2lb of coleslaw, AND 4 dinner rolls.....for $8.99. Felt like I won the lotto! I don't buy that food very often, but wit h my daughter, her boyfriend, hubby and the moose to feed...that whole spread was greatly appreciated. When hubby heads out of town again, and he does the Aldi- trip for me, I'll have him stock up on the favorites - butter, salmon, turkey bacon, and the take-n-bake breads. I'm going to be saving up dough for a more lengthy Aldi trip when I do another show in May down in Escanaba. I'd love nothing more than to stock the freezer with salmon, and turkey bacon!
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