Homemade Irish Cream

(As posted over in my foodie collection…)

At my last bookclub meeting, one of the ladies brought some “Homemade Bailey’s” (as she called it). I wasn’t sure if I had actually had Bailey’s before, to be honest. I’d had Kahlua, which I thought was similar. I’d always imagined Bailey’s to be minty. I don’t know if it is the whole Irish-green-mint association process that sparks off in my mind or what.

Homemade Irish Cream

At any rate, I tried Kelly’s concoction and it was good. I told myself that I, too, would make some Irish Cream.

Today was the day.

In anticipation for New Year’s Eve tomorrow, I wanted to mix up something a bit festive. Normally I’m one who strays from the recipe card, finding ways to insert my own twist to cast of characters. This time, I was good, and followed the recipe. I figured if I was going to spend close to $30 on a bottle of liquor, I didn’t want to waste it with one of my haphazard “interpretations” of a recipe I had not even tested yet.

I found many variations for Irish Cream, but decided to go with this one from One Perfect Bite:

Irish Cream Liqueur

1-1/2 cups whiskey (i.e. Jameson’s Irish whiskey)
1 (14-oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons chocolate syrup
2 teaspoons instant coffee
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

I mixed everything in a 4-cup glass measuring container that had a small spout, anticipating the pouring process from the container to my rinsed and empty cherry DaVinci syrup bottle. See, I’m an eager, impatient lady sometimes, when I’m bustling about the kitchen. I had to remind myself to be slow, stir careful and pour patiently. Good girl.

End result? Yummy. It’s a whiskey-tastin’ treat, yes it is. I filled my syrup bottle nearly to the top, and had about 1 cup of leftover. Frank and are sipping the extra right now over ice.

Dial-a-Brew 2

Frank wanted a coffeemaker for work. Nothing fancy, nothing expensive. At home we’ve had a percolator (electric) for years, but he wanted a drip one for ease of use. He’s been keeping his eye out for one for weeks. One day I was at Goodwill and saw an old coffeemaker that brought back childhood memories with its beige color, brown and orange “coffee brew strength” accents. My eyes lingered on it, and I moved on.

Wouldn’t you know, my husband nabbed it and slyly brought it to the checkout? Ten bucks. “Hey, a guy at work brought one of these for the breakroom a few years ago (at his old job), and it was the best drip coffeemaker.”

Normally I would have let it leave my house and not complained. I have no problem using cups, plates, bowls from Goodwill. I do have a some reservations about using things I can’t scour clean, that have inside mechanisms that I can’t inspect with my own eyeballs… Irrational thoughts of someone running their own urine through a coffeemaker. You know, things like that.

So, being the good wife I am (and having a strange magnetism towards this happy-looking little coffeemaker), I took it upon myself to clean any imaginary urine out of it by running vinegar through it 8000 times. It honestly didn’t look like it had been used at all. Although each time I ran the vinegar through there was always a bit of sediment (looked like dust) floating on top of the water. Finally I just went to the store and got some official coffee cleaner. Ran that through a few times and the water was crystal, spanking, clear.

After all that cleansing care, it seemed right to also do a “test run” and make some coffee.

“You like the coffeemaker, don’t you?” Frank sighed, seeing the signs on the wall.

I ignored his insinuating question.

In turn it seemed right to actually drink the coffee.

Frank’s eyes rolled, accusing me of latching on to the maker, and also assuming his search for a coffeemaker was not over, as it seemed it was when he walked out of Goodwill with his Norelco DIAL-a-BREW II.

Thankfully, we found a cheap-o special deal during the Christmas Special Frenzies a couple weeks back, ’cause that DIAL-a-BREW makes one mean cup of coffee, and I’m not letting it go.

Happy Birthday To You

First it was my daughter who turned sweet 16 two years ago. Today it was my second child, the oldest boy. He was bummed because he had a wrestling tournament today, and was hoping to spend time with friends instead. But he got up at 6am and took the bus to the tournament. We drove out a few hours later (about 40 minutes away) and watched the majority of his matches. I brought cupcakes for his team. He’s not big on celebrating, and really didn’t want to stray from that path today. A few years in a row now we’ve gone to his favorite restaurant, but it closed down this past year. He was never big on parties and isn’t one for being the center of attention.

When he got home, we went to the wireless store and picked him out a new phone (his old one was so crappy, and that’s all he wanted was a new phone – well and an iPod Touch, but, you know, money we are not made of). I used my “new every two” upgrade, but transferred the phone to him. Unfortunately the phone wasn’t in stock and we had to order it to be shipped to our house. The sale took a while, which frustrated him because he wanted to get going. He humored us with dinner – the whole family, which was nice; they brought out a sundae and did some clappy-clappy sing-song for him. Thrilled, you can imagine.

Then he went to hang out with his friends. Our daughter, we dropped at her friend’s house, him at his friend’s house, and the rest of us drove home, stopping to see the Christmas lights (on display each year in one of the city parks).

Parenting, raising children, is a strange process. When they were all young (oldest 11, youngest 3) it seemed like we would be there forever. It was stressful and exhausting, but wonderful at the same time. Having teenaged kids was just unfathomable. And here we are, our oldest 18, youngest 10). Moving out, driving, having relationships, employment issues… some of it is almost a flashback to my own youth, being 15, turning 16, meeting my future spouse, having kids, marrying. I look at parents of young children and wonder how I was them a blink ago, and here I am now. But then, really I’m just the same little girl in the blue dress and cap, 30 years later playing house and looking around in awe.

But now I’m talking about me. Wasn’t I just talking about birthdays?

We Came, We Lost, We Left

We Came to wrestle  another high-school in our conference.

We Lost the tournament.

We Left and picked up the younger boys some McDonalds on the way home. I took lots of pictures, but really need to take a photography class so I can utilize all the bells and whistles on my new camera.

Pear Cognac

Last winter we took a little picnic trip out to a small park a short way outside the city. We parked in the lot, grabbed the sleds and basket and hiked up a hill to get to a clearing where there is another small hill to climb. At the top is a fire pit and a beautiful view. But even better than that is the small Laura Ingalls style house that is set of at the edge of the treeline. It has a door, a table, wood and a stove. You can’t really keep too terribly warm in there or anything, it is all ambiance. Blissful, delicious ambiance. If it isn’t too chilly out, you can fire up the stove and remove your jacket, but I kept my snowpants on for good measure.

So last year while we were there, we brought hot dogs to roast on the open fire, cheese, chips, snacks for the kids. And my friend brought a pear-shaped bottle of congac. We had just enough to sip by the fire as the kids played in the snow, coming in to grab a bite or to “warm” by the stove. If they lingered too long and we ladies would shoo them out, urging them to catch as much daylight as possible before it got dark and we all had to squish and huddle in the tiny house.

belle de brillet

My whole point in sharing this is to tell you about the cognac. The sweet, savory, better-than-dessert cognac that I kept tasting days later. OK, a whole year later. It was a gift given to my friends by someone else and they were kind enough to share it with us. For an entire year I’ve searched for this ‘yac. I don’t even know if I’d buy it, as it was a bit pricey and chances are I’d make it into a snowcone, drink it all and end up in the emergency room with cognac poisoning. But I just wanted to see the bottle, caress it and reminisce over the day we sat in the little house, warm but chilly, listening to the rain coming down, the kids attempting to sled on a hill of snow while it rained, the men trying to keep a fire outside in the wet, peeing in the dark bushes, telling scary stories, getting a call from my oldest son to let me know he was home puking, slipping down the hill on our way back to the car… fond, fond memories.

The other day at our friend’s Christmas dinner party, she brought out a festive bag that she gave to me, and to my sueprise, guess what was in it? Belle de Brillet pear cognac!! I figured I’d save it for a fine occasion.

Apparently that fine occasion is a cold Wednesday night when the kids are tucked into bed and I’m doing computer work.

Ah well, savor the day, I say.

If you ever have the craving for a pear or pear cognac, let me tell you, Belle de Brillet is some fine stuff.



Possibly in other cities seeing this parked in the lot would be… weird. Here in Madison, Wisconsin– it’s normal.

Funny story. We had family over one evening, Frank’s cousin, husband and their four young kids. Two of the¬† kiddos immediately ran off to play with our bucketful of cars. They would scamper in to the kitchen where we sat, brining cars to ask uncle Frankie about them.

Spidey-mobile, Frank told him for one. Another was a police car. Third time he comes in with our mini Wienermobile.

What’s this?

Why that’s the Wienermobile, replies Uncle Frankie smiling at the peculiar, but familiar vehicle.

The little boy looks at it, curiously. Turns it around, contemplating it. It’s a wiener? It took a few seconds for us to realize that not everyone sees a wiener-shaped car, and not everyone calls a hot dog a wiener.

Crest White Strips Give Me A Headache?

I’ve been using Crest White Strips for about a week now. I should restate that. I’ve successfully completed approximately 7 days (2x per day) of the Crest White Strip regimen. They were not all back-to-back, however. I notice that I’ve had a headache on most every day that I’ve used them. Correlation? Maybe. I believe it is because of a very sensitive tooth that I have on the left side of my mouth. Possibly.

I do notice a difference in my teeth. Not dramatic, but definitely a bit brighter.

I have no trouble getting the strips on my teeth, as some reviews I’ve read. I did have one strip that left the gel behind and was rendered useless. Also, when I have the strips in my mouth, I spit. I don’t swallow my saliva for a half hour. Maybe it is weird, but I really don’t want that gunk in my tummy, just as I don’t want toothpaste or mouthwash in there either. I don’t need a whitened tummy.

A Clean Garage Made Him Cry

Our garage has been… in a state of disarray for years. Basically ever since I had my candle shop in the garage, we haven’t used it for a car. I claimed 1/3 of the area, the rest was available for bikes, seasonal decorations, camping gear, pantry, or whatever else we wanted to shove in the garage and forget about. Our van didn’t fit in there anyway, and our car was not worth pulling in a garage only to leak oil all over the floor.

In comes the new Toyota (the oil-leaker has since been retired), a little snow and the absence of a candle being made in the past couple years.

In comes a husband who listened to my pleas to knock off a couple items on the Honey-do list.

I definitely don’t give him enough credit; guilty as charged, because he surprised me one day.

Pulling in to the driveway, as I do most every day after work, entering the garage, I can see the floor. He had boxed up my shop stragglers, threw out the garbage that was taking up space, and neatly stacked the rest against the wall. Not quite enough to get the car in, but enough to motivate me to finish the job (just… whatever, you can’t have perfection all the time).

It took a bit more compacting, a bit more rearranging, a couple of choice words mixed with sweat and determination, and finally. Finally, we are able to put a car out of the snow, into the garage.

The sight of it made his father teary-eyed. Yeah, that was written correctly. Made. His. Father. Cry.

Frankie. The garage… it’s clean?! (choking up) Your grandpa would be SO proud, Frankie. So proud. He loved a neat, clean garage.

Ten years ago I probably would have rolled my eyes and upchucked a bit. Today, it warms my heart in a funny, gotta love ’em sort of way. Happy to have given that gift to him, as it was also a gift to me.

Christmas Party

Last night we went to a friend’s Christmas Party. It was more of a dinner party, with four couples and children. The kids played outside most of the time, while us adults stayed in, chatted and enjoyed being together. We weren’t all close friends, but we were familiar with one of the other couples. It was enjoyable, and I was able to, for the most part, take my mind of the everyday stress and simply enjoy myself. It’s been a while since I’ve had a relaxing night. I very much needed it. I need it on a more regular basis.

Tiger Woods

My thoughts on Tiger are limited, because I don’t give him much thought in the first place. But since I can’t make it through an hour-long news show without hearing about his situation, so I let my fingers crawl the keyboard, danging on the idea of it all.

I don’t like to hear of infidelities. I don’t think it is “no big deal” or a “big whoop” or anything other minor, skimable matter. It is a sad reminder of our slowly degrading society, a bar that is constantly being lowered for us grown women, and our daughters. Cheating is normal? I think not. I’m no fool, I know that people have been cheating for years. Doesn’t make it right or more appealing simply because it is becoming more standard.

Why it is such big news, I don’t know. But then when you consider that, in our country, people can make a living and be on the level of a societal diety for doing something that many people do in their leisure time… you kind of put yourself out there for critisism. Much like a senator, mayor, congressman. We pay your salary, we want to know what’s going on behind closed doors. Apparently, mean. I don’t speak on this from my own emotional base necessarily.

But sometimes when I think, like really ponder the craziness that is our world, it makes my head hurt. Tiger gets paid to play golf, and gets paid well. It’s a game. It’s sport – fun. Fun stuff. You don’t have people performing heart surgeries for “fun” or social work for “leisure play.” But you do find people playing golf/football/tennis, etc. for fun.

Play a sport for fun, become popular, make bank. Practice medicine on the side, read to kids, mission work… we call that volunteer work and what a nice person you are for doing it.