April 2015 archive

Salted Caramel Brownies

My mom made salted caramel brownies late last summer and they were a huge hit. I recently wanted to recreate the sweet and salty treat, and she pointed me in the direction of Ina Garten’s recipe (link here). My usual approach to recipes is to look to see if I understand it all and/or if there is a completely acceptable way to cut a corner or two (shortcuts are a completely necessary element to my cooking/baking). Although the ability level indicated “easy,” I read things like “melt in a bowl set over simmering water”  or “sift” (that’s right, “sift” can turn me away) and I thought “nope, not happening.” But wait, these are brownies. Totally acceptable to use one of many wonderful mixes out there, right? Ms. Garten herself uses a jar of caramel sauce to top the finished brownies, after all! Interestingly, I did make the caramel sauce from scratch (funny story about that in the “Reality Check” below). I like to have some element of a recipe be homemade, otherwise I may as well grab the treats from a lovely local bakery. Plus, topping a dessert with regular caramel and sprinkling salt on top doesn’t really seem like true salted caramel. Not that I am doubting Ina Garten, I just really have a thing for salt and wanted to have it as part of the sauce, not just as an added garnish. I went on the hunt online for a salted caramel sauce recipe. Keeping in mind my preference for uncomplicated recipes, I would immediately hit the back button if I saw a candy thermometer referenced. I found a great one here, and was really happy with the result. Original recipes in links above, with adapted recipe (with a range of various shortcuts) below.
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Lessons From a Splashpad

Today’s leisure post is the last set of pictures from our family’s recent trip to Grand Cayman that I plan to use on the blog and looking at these shots, in particular, brings up some interesting thoughts and emotions for me. When I think of this day at the splashpad I’m reminded of how much fun we all had on the trip and I get this overwhelming sense of happiness from looking at the huge smiles on their faces and still being able to hear their giggles in my head. But there is another lingering emotion – not really one of sadness, but it’s definitely an unpleasant feeling that results from the realization that days like this are so different that what real life is like and speaking personally, real life for me as a mom. I feel as though I spend 95% of my time with the kids telling them to do something or to not do something. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I was a different person while on vacation, but I was a different mom. The smiles on those kids faces and the giggles I still hear in my head are indecipherable from what I see and hear any time they have carefree play. The difference, in large part, is how much I allow myself to enjoy it. And these kiddos are smart, perceptive cookies – they get it. Looking at these pictures has been a powerful reminder to remember to take vacations from everyday stress, parenting overload, and maximum multi-tasking. Vacations don’t need to involve substantial time and expense. You know where else has splashpads? Minnesota. I can name three in a five-mile radius of our house. You know how often have we gone to one on a hot summer day or evening? Not a once. That needs to change. We need to – I need to – start spending more time enjoying things as simple and easy as a glorified sprinkler.

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Cover-up and Carryall

Knowing that the majority of the time on our recent trip would be spent at the pool or on the beach (and with kids – back and forth and back and forth), I wanted to find a few great cover-ups and a quality tote. The bright stripes of this super casual dress caught my eye right away when shopping online, and I wore it pretty much every day. It was so easy to throw on, and paired well with any suit. I had a more difficult time finding a good tote – there were several rounds of purchasing and returning for that item. There were bags that I loved (like this Tory Burch one), but that just weren’t practical for the trip. No longer am I toting magazines, lip gloss and a bottle of water to the beach for the day. My bag has half eaten suckers, kids’ googles, and sticky sunscreen spray. I can’t spend $300 on a beach bag that will end up with a melted Rice Krispie treat stuck on the inside. I ended up grabbing this Old Navy one at the last minute and it was one of my favorite purchases for the trip.


Kerry’s outfit details and links: Ann Taylor cover-up dress (Cyber special today – 50% off and free shipping) | Old Navy tote (now only $25, plus an additional 40% off orders over $50, today!) | Tory Burch shoes | Kate Spade sunglasses
Taylor’s outfit details and links: Hanna Andersson swim trunks, rash guard and swim hat (20% off nearly site wide)

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