Sunday, January 27, 2013

New "Normal"

When going through life there is always a revolving door.  Especially for the military family.  Right when you get used to "normal" things can change.  We are just weeks away from being here in Vegas for 1 year.  It feels almost surreal to know it's been that long. 
Going back 2 years ago there has been so many changes.  Isabella was just a bitty baby, I was beginning to start my own business of selling baked goods and chocolates, Taylor was only in preschool, Eric was working insane amount of hours at his job and every side job he could find so we could make ends meet.  Life was hard, but life was good. 
Eric took the plunge to go out on his own after he got his A&P licence and that took another turn.  Soon it was apparent we were going to have to move one way or another.  So then it became a question more of do we stay civilian or go for a second go at active duty.  I can say without a doubt in my mind that we both went into that decision with pure trust in the Lord and lots of prayer.  The day he went into the recruiter's office, he came home with a spark in his eye that I hadn't seen in a long time.  Just a look was all I needed to know that that was the right choice.  God was in every part of him exiting active duty almost 5 years earlier and He was again very present in going back in. 
It's funny, we wonder all the time why.  I think just life experience and learning to trust God in all circumstances, good and bad, is a big part to why.  I know that Eric became content, happy, mature and grateful this time around.  Those aren't always things you see in guys (or girls) that have been in for years.  Sure, everyone has their good and bad days and things they like or hate, but I think to come back and be truly grateful for what the military gives us a family is rare anymore.  I know I'm grateful for so many things that it would be too long a list to write.
For me, moving away from family again was the hardest.  We were able to have 2 kids while back "home."  It's hard taking them away again.  I was beginning to get more orders and people talking about my business, and that was amazing, but that can travel.  So, here I am blogging about what makes me happy.  One of my specialties was/is biscotti.  I hadn't made any since being here, since leaving "home."  Yesterday I did.  I felt good.  It felt like the last piece of "normal" since moving here.  That may seem silly to you.  For me it just made the past 2 years feel like everything came full circle.  We made a full turn around the revolving door.  Life is good.  Our family is good.  God is good.
Now I'm not going to give you my biscotti recipe because, well, I have to keep some things secret!  Before I made biscotti I made cupcakes and toffee and those I will share with you.  See, I was back to me.  The last turn made.  Yeah!  So here we go!

Double Yum!
I was wanting something chocolaty and rich and at first I was thinking of brownies or a cake, then I browsed my favorite place, Pinterest!  I found the recipe for Black Bottom Cupcakes from The Capitol Baker.  Now she calls them Chocolate Cream Cheese Surprise Cupcakes, but I grew up with my grandma making these and we always called them black bottom cupcakes.  So you call them what you want, the point is that they are delicious!  It is a chocolate cupcake with a chocolate chip cheesecake filling.  No icing, because they are that good!  If you're a skeptic like me with online recipes sometimes, just know that there are no eggs in the cake batter and that is correct.  (Trust me, I searched 5 other recipes and they were all the same.)  I got 2 dozen regular size cupcakes and about 13  mini ones.  I also ran out of cupcake liners and had to get creative and used parchment to make my own.  Worked perfect!  So keep that in mind if you are ever in a bind like I was.  You have to try these though, simple enough and so so good!
My improve liners
(this was before I spooned in the filling)
I also made toffee, cracker candy, Christmas crack, Crunch bars, it also has many different names.  I'm just now realizing that this, too, my grandma used to make.  Looks like I was channeling her and didn't even realize it!  **Warning! This stuff is addicting.** 
I sent this to work with Eric and it was
gone in a very short time. Told you, addicting!
Cracker Candy
35-40 saltine crackers (or enough to fill the pan)
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts
optional 1 cup of other toppings: chopped pretzels, M&M's, raisins, coconut or anything else
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. Heat butter and brown sugar in a saucepan over medium heat until melted and well blended and beginning to boil.
3. Let boil 3 minutes without stirring
4. Meanwhile place crackers in a single layer on a foil lined baking pan.
5. Pour butter/sugar mixture over crackers
6. Bake 7 minutes in preheated oven
7. Immediately sprinkle chocolate chips over toffee and let sit 5 minutes
8.  Spread now melted chocolate evenly over toffee
9. Sprinkle with nuts and other toppings.
10. Let set until chocolate has hardened or refrigerate 10-15 minutes to set.
11. Once set, cut or break into pieces
So what makes your life seem "normal?" Is it something as silly as spending a day baking, making something that makes you feel at "home" like me?

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