Monthly Archives: December 2011

On the Road

 Chad and I loaded up The Burb on Tuesday and were Mitten bound around 11:00 pm.  The plan was to drive until we couldn’t stay awake any longer, pull over and catch a few hours of sleep and keep driving.

We made it through Texas and into Arkansas

This is actually a picture of the Arkansas welcome artsy in Arkansas

We had to stop for gas in Arkansas. Chad was sleeping, this took place around 4am. Of course I pulled over in the most creepy town possible at the time. That’s just how I roll. It didn’t make me feel any better when this van pulled up.

We survived Arkansas and beat the sun to Missouri

Next up Illinois

Thanks to several podcasts and this jar of apple cinnamon granola that I ungifted this year I made it through the night…awake!

yeah, I ate most of this jar

 Then there was Indiana

And finally Michigan!

We made it just in time for me to jump in the car with my mom and drive to Detroit to pick up my sister who was flying in from her trip to Haiti.  Being able to spend time with the family has been SO worth all the driving. I hope you all are getting to spend quality time with your loved ones. Soak it up.

Merry Christmas friends!



Next on my list of things to do…make some goodies for a few of my friends.  Last year, I went all out and made SO many baked goods. SO many. Like so many that I missed my flight that morning because I stayed up all night into the morning trying to finish up. That morning happened to be Christmas Eve,  which in turn made me miss the craziness that comes with any Fairbanks Family gathering with my Aunt’s and Uncle’s and cousins, so sad.  So this year, this year…I decided to edit.  I saw a recipe for what is called “Moose Munch.” I’m sure it goes by several other names as well, but I like “Moose Munch.” It seemed pretty easy to whip up, so that was the plan. Then at the last minute I decided I needed to make some apple cinnamon granola as well. I’m not sure why other than that’s what I do. Make things more complicated for myself. All. The. Time. It was all gonna be fine though. I can handle two things. So I spent an evening putting these treats together.  An evening that I probably should have spent cleaning my apartment, packing my bags, making a dessert tray for a catering event I had the night of my departure…instead here’s what happened in my kitchen.

First, I  popped some of that poppity corn. About 2 bags per batch.

Rule #1, DO NOT burn the popcorn! My friend Natalie of the Messy Mom has this enduring little post about what she did when she burnt the popcorn once (I also happen to love the little cartoon on her bags of popcorn).

Rule #2, DO NOT under cook the popcorn in fear of burning the popcorn. I actually made a test batch of this stuff one other night and I was afraid to burn the popcorn, so I stopped the microwave a little early. The recipe that I was following says to remove the kernels from the popcorn, I decided to omit this step because it seemed an impossible and daunting task. Let me just tell you…REMOVE the kernels from the popcorn! These guys right here are nasty little wanna be tooth chipping culprits, you don’t want them in your Moose Munch.

At this point I went ahead and preheated the oven to 300 degrees.

On the stove top in a pan, I started heating up over medium heat:

  • 6 tbsp. butter
  • 3 tbsp. corn syrup
  • 3/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla

Cooking and stirring until the mixture boiled. Continue boiling at a steady rate for 4 minutes, don’t even think about stirring it.

Actually, you’ll think about wanting to stir, you’ll think about it a lot, but you don’t have to. For 4 minutes. Let it be.

Remove from heat and stir in 1/4 tsp baking soda and the vanilla.

Rule #3- Don’t forget the baking soda! Somehow I missed this step in the first batch. It wasn’t a huge issue, but the baking soda definitely has an effect on the caramel. Stir it in there! Then I poured that caramel over the popcorn and stirred it up until it was well coated.

Next I spread it out semi-evenly onto a greased baking sheet and put in the oven for roughly 15 minutes.

Look at me multi-tasking.

If you look closely you can see the Apple Cinnamon Granola baking on the top shelf filling my apartment with glorious smells! Yeah, sometimes I can do two things at once. Sometimes.

Once I pulled the baked caramel corn out of the oven, I sprinkled it with chocolate chips and M&Ms. I Let it cool for a few minutes, and then poured it into a bowl so that chocolate could melt and spread.

Easy as that.

Now if you happen to be one of my friends in the DFW area and at this point are beginning to question our friendship because you haven’t received a helping of Moose Munch…no worries, we are still friends. You see, I seemed to have bitten off more caramel corn than I could chew. When it came down to the wire, I had no means of packaging and no time left to deliever any of this popcorn goodness, so I had to tell myself I would NOT repeat last year. I would be ready to go at the appointed time of departure. So sadly for my friends you only get to enjoy this treat here online. Consider this recipe my gift to you, you just might have to do a little bit of the dirty work which isn’t so bad…except maybe the dishes. Love ya!

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Stop and smell the roses fresh baked bread

Like most of you I’m sure, I have this long list of things that I want to accomplish within the few short days left before the holiday.  On Tuesday night, my brother and I are hitting the highway and heading to Michigan to spend Christmas with our family.  One of the things on my list of things to do…experiment with some bread baking.  I’ve tried this particular recipe once before, but today I thought I’d try my hand at it again. This time I made smaller loaves. One was just a plain white bread, the other I went a little crazy and made a sun-dried tomato and basil loaf. I was lucky enough to have some left over sun-dried tomatoes in my fridge, so I added those with some garlic, some basil, and the little bit of mozzarella cheese I had left. That loaf actually turned out really delicious.  I may or may not have eaten a good 3/4 of the sun-dried tomato loaf already this afternoon. Yeah, totally did.

I hope you’re all having beautiful days full of productivity leading up to the holidays. Just be sure to slow down long enough to really enjoy the season and the things that are most important this time of year… like homemade bread. Ok, so that was a joke. There are way more important things in life right?

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STOP in the name of the law.

That's me on the right...always eager to drive. Lucky for me, sorry for you, my first driver's liscence is hiding somewhere in my parent's house in Michigan.

So it’s kind of a funny story (well my mom doesn’t think so).  I got pulled over last April.  Yes, April, as in 7 months ago. Like blue and red lights flashing in my rear view, a police officer with the uniform and all acting real serious like.  You see what happened was, at the bottom of the hill coming from the Wal-Mart parking lot there’s this STOP sign. If you know anything about the Wal-Mart in Midlothian, then you might know how frustrating it is that someone had the bright idea to build this super store jungle on the top of a hill. Maybe you hadn’t noticed, but I unfortunately spend a LOT of time there trying to prevent my cart full of groceries from rolling down the hill or from smashing into surrounding cars.

::Little tangent- Once I saw a lady chasing after her cart that was rolling down the hill picking up speed with her toddler daughter in the basket screaming her head off.  I proceeded to laugh my head off. Oh, sorry not funny::

So as I was saying, at the bottom of this hill is the STOP sign.  I may or may not have come to a complete stop at said sign. Ok, so most likely it was may not have. I did slow down, I did look both ways, I did see the stop sign.  I just hate getting stuck there waiting for the cars entering onto the highway entrance ramp. I know, no excuse.  So sure enough an officer pulled me over and issued me a traffic violation.

Let me take you back a few years now. Let’s say it’s the year 1997. Melissa is an eager 15 year old with crazy hair and a learner’s permit chomping at the bit to get her driver’s license.  Got a mental picture? Ok, now forget it:). One day, I was out driving with my dad trying to accumulate as many driving hours as possible (I really really wanted to drive), when we came upon a STOP sign on a deserted back road. I remember stopping (in my opinion) at the stop sign and then making a left turn. I’m going on my way, when my dad starts making a big deal about it and tells me that I didn’t stop at the stop sign and that I needed to back up, come to a COMPLETE stop and then make my turn. I informed him that I did stop and backing up would not be necessary.  He didn’t agree and sure enough, I backed ALL the way up.  I just remember being really frustrated and somewhat embarrassed about being called out about it.  After all, I did learn all of my driving skills from my father:).

Fast forward to yesterday. My mom called me freaking out to inform me that the Ellis County Police Department had issued a warrant for my arrest. You see for some reason I decided that I was going to ignore this ticket and not pay it because I didn’t have the money. I don’t know why in my right mind I would think that something like this would just disappear and all go away.  I knew it wouldn’t, but I think maybe that’s part of my non-confrontational personality.  That maybe if I just ignore the problem long enough it will go away or something will change.  Yeah, that doesn’t happen when it comes to the government collecting their money.  Still, the thought of getting arrested and going to jail didn’t really even motivate me to check on the ticket. I just expected that the fine would be outrageously expensive. Not gonna lie, I even contemplated turning myself in and doing jail time rather then shelling out the cold hard cash.  Jail almost sounded like a vacation to me, three meals a day…nothing to do, time to just sit and be. I’m crazy I know.  Needless to say, my mom made me promise that I would get the issue taken care of because worrying about me going to jail wouldn’t be good for her blood pressure.

Begrudgingly I drove to the court house to pay my fine, which actually was much less than I had anticipated (this only makes the whole thing worse).  As I walked up the side walk to the court building, at that moment my entire driving experience came full circle. From that afternoon at the STOP sign on Lincoln Street, where my dad tried to teach me a valuable lesson…to this moment in Ellis county as I painfully parted with a couple of hundred dollars because I guess I hadn’t learned that lesson well enough.  If only I had listened.

Let’s just say, I now always usually come to a complete stop at the bottom of the hill (I at least check the Pizza Inn parking lot for hiding police, some old habits never truly die).

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