Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Salted Caramel Comparison

A couple of years ago, Hubs bought me a box of salted caramels. I fell in love. With Hubs again, of course (every day) but also with the salted caramels. That twang of salt contrasted with the sweet of the chocolate and caramel. Delicious!

These coveted confections are only available during the Christmas season, which is unfortunate, because after that first taste (given as a Christmas gift) ... they were gone. GONE. I had to wait until December rolled around again.I discovered some at Sam's Club and picked myself up a box. Hubs found a package at Costco and purchased them for me to try.

I encouraged him to buy more of the Costco brand ... they were the least expensive.
Oh, I indulged!
I tried to limit myself to 2-3 per day.
I set one package aside and gave it to myself for Mother's Day.

This year, we were shopping together at Costco when ... there they were. Sea Salt Caramels. I bought one package (silly me, ONE?) Afterward I told Hubs he should go back and buy five more (each of the boys could give me one for Christmas) ... or even TWELVE more, and I could have one per month! The expiration usually does extend until the following season.

Grayson decided on diversity for Christmas. I got one of the Costco brand, one of the Williams Sonoma brand (this had been the original one I received years ago), and another from Trader Joes. How would they compare?  Here are my reflections ... now that they are all gone (sob).

  • Sanders (Costco): These are the least expensive option (which is actually appealing to me). The packaging is not nearly as pretty as when they are boxed, but they still tasted good. They were a bit thinner than any of the other brands. Milk chocolate coating only.
  • Maxfield (SamsClub): I can't remember how many caramels were in a box ... 24? It was one pound, and I'm thinking it cost around $10 (don't quote me!) These were packaged prettily, with Christmas decor. There were both dark chocolate and milk chocolate covered caramels in each box. I'm not a fan of dark chocolate myself, but I enjoyed both, not really even being able to tell much of a difference. These were thicker than the Costco caramels, although a maybe slightly smaller square. The caramel was a bit more solid than the Costco brand.
  • Willams Sonoma: These were fairly similar to the Sams brand, although I didn't try the two back to back. The caramel was quite solid. Milk chocolate covering. The salt crystals were smaller, more fine than the other crystals. The cost? $30 for 16 candies! That's almost $2 a piece. I almost can't even enjoy them at that price ... almost. 
  • Trader Joes: This brand was a new to me this year. They were quite unique too. Still salted caramels to be sure, but they definitely were different. The caramel inside was completely soft, it would ooze out when biting. The chocolate here was more of a hard shell. I almost felt like it had been formed first, and the caramel inserted inside (whereas the others seemed more like a solid caramel dipped in chocolate for the coating). The chocolate covering was dark chocolate, and again, while I'm not a fan of dark chocolate, I was a fan of these. The salt. Wow. Huge crystals (check out the picture up top!) Really too big and overpowering ... but, I have to say I liked it. It was like a little chocolate drizzle had been added to the top, and that was what the salt adhered to. Often, when taking a bite, the hardened drizzle and salt would pop off and I'd have to pick it up and manually stick it back into the caramel for my next bite. A girl has gotta do what a girl's gotta do, right? I'm not sure what the cost per box/chocolate was here ... and maybe it's better I don't know, as I do think I'd like to be spoiled with these ones again.
Farewell my sweet chocolate covered salted caramels ... until next year.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

6th Grade Science Fair

Ah, the science far. It is NOT my favorite assignment! It is a project that often involves the parent as much as the child. I was really quite impressed this year, as Cooper did most of his work at school (deciding the topic, the research, typing up and printing all the paperwork). We did do the actual experiment at home (I helped the first time, and then he did it on his own and took pictures). I helped with the paper-piecing of the volcano, but the assembly, positioning and adhering was all Cooper. His was just a simple water volcano (no baking soda or mentos and diet coke) ... showing that hot/colored water would rise to the top. The results were so-so.

After the projects were complete, 
they were all on display in the lunchroom. 
All the other grades got to come look over everything, and parents were invited in as well. It was fun checking out all the projects from Cooper's basketball buddies as well. I've gotten to know many of them as they have played together in Junior Jazz this year ( so if you've caught any of Cooper's basketball highlight videos, some of the faces might be familiar ... )

Here's Cooper's buddy Hunter. Cooper and the other basketball boys actually helped out with this experiment the other day. They attempted free-throws with no practice, practiced a while and then tried again. Practice IS important for improving performance!

Another athletically themed project by Ryan. 
Exercise and activity can improve your memory!

Parker's mom is an orthodontist, which provided their family with actual teeth to test! 
Soda Pop is not good for teeth!

Jamie studied static ... it always "shocks" me at Sam'sClub!

I had Zumba in the morning, and rushed right over to the school after class (Zumba ended around 10:00, and the science fair display closed at 10:30). So I was my sweaty, stinky self, but I made it!. It is funny how many of the kids recognize me as "Cooper's Mom" as I have volunteered in the class room and helped with the class parties for the past few years. It was fun to see all the projects ... and to rejoice that the science fair in concluded, at least for now ...

Friday, January 15, 2016

January Jaunts (Back to the Builder's Convention)

It's January ... so there's the annual Builder's Convention in Las Vegas. Gray went last year (Grayson Goes to Vegas) and took all the requisite photos then (and on previous trips, this work trip has happened several times over the years). This year, HE didn't take any! But that doesn't mean photos didn't exist.

The group went to a couple shows ... Mystere and Blue Man. In the first, Grayson was pulled up on stage and dressed in pink, with a big bow. I don't know exactly what it was all about. But ... pictures were posted on the Mystere website. Blue Man got a little interactive as well, as one of the gals in the group was pulled up on stage to take part.

Who says work is all work?

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Daddy Does Derbies

Gray does derbies ... everyone knows that, right? How many years has it been now? A lot! Grayson bought his track back with Landon was a cub scout. This past year was busy. My man ran 39 derbies! And while all the boys help out at one time or another, Keaton has been Grayson's main man. He really stepped up this year. Not only being willing to help, but able. Gray has told me how impressed he is at everything Keaton accomplishes. Maybe Keaton will run them on his own at some point?

Gray is always adding and updating his derby stuff. 
This year ... new tables. Black tables. 
They look pretty awesome, right?

Gray did put a limitation on travel for 2015, turning down derbies is Utah County, as it's just such a long drive. He still had plenty of business fairly close to home, and did some derbies in North Salt Lake, taking his trailer up to work with him. 

He just had his first derby of this year ... and three more scheduled for the last week in January. April is probably the busiest month. How many derbies will there be this year? We shall see ...

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

It's a New Year (2016)

 Not everyone made it til midnight ...

It's become an annual tradition. We invite my folks over on New Year's Eve for a Grandparents and Games night. Maga Pam has attended a time or two as well. The little boys really enjoy playing games with the grandparents, and sometimes the older boys stick around too. This year, Callahan was working (until a little after 11:00) but Keaton graced us with his company. We missed Landon. Landon is great at games!

We tried out our new game Tapple  (Cooper got it for Christmas)... it's a bit like Scattergories, thinking of things to fit a topic that begin with a certain letter. It was fun (silly Grandma ... something green that starts with K ... "kangaroo"??) We also played Speed RummiKube, which my parents introduced to us a couple of years ago. We do have our own set, but we rarely get it out unless the grandparents are over. Keaton rocks, but Colton, with Grandpa giving tips, did really well too! 

Then the "grownups" moved onto Progressive Rummy, which was a little too slow moving and complex for the boys. We actually played all seven hands (usually we skip the 5th/6th ones), and although Gray won the final hand, I won the game! Yea me! Colton and Cooper fell asleep. 

 We gathered around for a family picture ... and Cooper woke up.
Grandma is saying "close your eyes, go back to sleep"

Last year, my dad brought out a big box of "new year" stuff. Hats, tiarias, horns, etc. Then he gifted us with said box. I did store it for the year, but brought it out and gave it back to him! After we adorned ourselves in our New Year attire of course. We put a tiara on the still sleeping Colton, and Grandma couldn't stop giggling (she'd gotten a little silly during rummy too, I think it was past her bed time!) The little boy stirred and shifted, but slept on...

... even after I blew the horn in his ear!

Once the ball dropped and we got our smooches, the folks headed home and we headed to bed. It was past MY bedtime too. But with the holiday, we could sleep in.  Maga doesn't sleep in though, and she was busy working last night, making her famous pastry wreath.

We headed over to Maga's house around noon. She said this was the last year she was going to make the wreath ... it's just so much work. Of course, she's said that before! We'll see, and we'll eat it while we can!  Clay made his yummy pulled pork, so we all ate and ate, then came home and took a needed nap. Happy New Year. Welcome 2016!

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