by Melanie

Crazy Good Caramel Popcorn

February 7, 2015 in Kitchen by Melanie

When it comes to caramel popcorn, I believe there are two camps: those who like it crunchy like Cracker Jacks and those who like it chewy – like heaven. If you love caramel popcorn the right way, this will be your new favorite recipe. It’s so good, so simple, so quick, and crazy good.

caramel-popcorn


 Crazy Good Caramel Popcorn

  • 1/2 cup (1 cube) butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 can sweetened condensed milk
  • popcorn

Start by popping the popcorn. I use 2 big bowls so I have enough room to stir the caramel over the corn. In fact, my favorite bowls for this are some big, red, plastic bowls I found at Walmart for $1.50.

To get the perfect amount of caramel to popcorn ratio, I use a little more than 3/4 cup but not a full cup of popcorn kernels. It’s a good idea to pull out the unpopped and half-popped kernels that can end up in your bowl. It’s no fun to bite into what should be a bite of chewy goodness and end up with a hard, tooth-breaking chunk instead.

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While the popcorn is popping, it’s time to make the caramel. Start by melting the butter in a large saucepan. When the butter is melted, add the brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt, and bring it to a boil. If you’re using salted popcorn, leave the salt out of the caramel.

Let it boil for 2-3 minutes, then take it off the heat and add the vanilla and half can of sweetened condensed milk. A can of sweetened condensed milk is 14 oz, so you will use a little less than 1 cup.

Put it back on the heat just long enough to heat it through. When it just barely starts to boil and you see little bubbles, take it off the heat for good because it’s done!

Immediately pour the caramel over the popcorn and stir with a long wooden spoon until the gooey caramel coats every piece of popcorn. When I’m done stirring, I combine it all into one big bowl and try to restrain myself from eating the entire thing myself.  That’s all there is to it!

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This recipe leaves you with an extra half of a can of sweetened condensed milk. You can make something fun like Brazilian lemonade or another great treat, but I usually use that half can as a perfect excuse to make another batch of caramel popcorn. Yum!

Tomorrow on Made From Pinterest, I’m sharing how I kicked this caramel popcorn up another notch by turning it into a fabulous Valentine’s Day treat, including free printables and a microwave popcorn Valentine, too! Click HERE or on the image below to find that post at Made From Pinterest.

popcorn-valentine-7

When it comes to caramel popcorn, which camp are you in? Crunchy or chewy little bites of heaven?

by Melanie

52 Weeks to Fortify Your Family

January 22, 2015 in Family Room, Mailbox by Melanie

I have never been one of those moms who cries at every milestone, sad to see my babies grow up. I love my babies, but I love to see how they will conquer the next stage of life. It’s exciting to see them get older and grow in wisdom and beauty and see their personalities blossom.

There has been one HUGE exception to this general rule, however.

Junior High. Ugh.

There is just something about sending my sweet, innocent babies to junior high that knocks the wind out of me and leaves me gasping for air.

Kindergarten? Bring it on! High school? No problem! But junior high still gives me nightmares and makes me wish I could keep my family in a force field, a bubble of safety where my babies can stay young and innocent.

incredibles forcefield 1

But because school teaches much more than just reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic, and Steve and I believe it is important for our kids to learn those valuable lessons, we send our little girls off to junior high, cringing and holding our breath and hoping we have prepared them well enough for those difficult years.

Since I don’t have a force field, I have to find other ways to strengthen my family, to fortify them against the dangers of the world. The most important way I know to do this is to teach them who they are, to instill in them an understanding of where they come from and what makes them great.

Ultimately, I want my daughters to know that they have another parent who loves them and knows them even better than Steve and me, a Heavenly Father from whom they have inherited divine attributes that make them great. I want them to understand that their relationship to God is the most important relationship they will ever have and that it needs to be constantly nourished. I want them to know how to talk to Him and how to hear His voice. I know that their relationship with Heavenly Father will be the greatest source of strength in their lives and can be their “force field” to keep them safe no matter what they encounter.

Instilling this knowledge in our children takes time and consistent effort, but life is so busy! Between youth activities, church meetings, orchestra concerts, play rehearsals, and team practices, not to mention homework, playing with friends, chores, and a million other demands on our time, we are lucky to spend time together on any given day. I have gone a full 24 hours without seeing Beth at all — and we live in the same house!! That’s crazy!

website header amazon bestseller2

I was so excited when I heard about this new book from Nicole Carpenter: 52 Weeks to Fortify Your Family: 5-Minute Messages. The idea behind this book is so simple but so powerful: daily 5-minute devotionals for your family. Nicole has put together 52 weeks of daily devotionals, arranged by topic so you can find exactly what your family needs in any given week.

I love that each daily message is short, but even more than that I love the extras that really turn your devotional into something meaningful. Each daily scripture discussion is right on topic, and the weekly questions start real discussions with opportunities to learn and bear testimony. I love that Nicole has included a reference to a conference address each week for more insight into that week’s theme. This could easily become your Family Home Evening lesson for the week.

52 Weeks to Fortify Your Family book cover Armor Your Children

I love that the book is small. That may sound strange, but it’s just not intimidating. At first glance it looks like something we can manage and enjoy. I have been thinking for months that I want to print a weekly quote and and display it in a frame where we will pass by it often and read it. Nicole is right there with a weekly quote, too! I can’t wait to get it printed so it is right in front of us and on our minds all week long.

I believe one of the best tools for strengthening our family is to make the gospel a part of our everyday lives. We live it, of course, but it’s also needs to be a normal topic of conversation. We talk about scriptures we have read, lessons we have learned, times that we have seen the hand of God in our lives and received answers to prayers.

“And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins”  (2 Nephi 25:26).

How will our children know the importance of the gospel in our lives if if’s only something they see on Sunday? We need to make sure we’re bringing the gospel into focus every day. I love that 52 Weeks to Fortify Your Family: 5-Minute Messages brings the gospel into focus for a few minutes each day. I am so excited to make it through all 52 weeks.

52-Weeks-to-Fortify-blog-tour1

I am even more excited for the chance I have today as part of this blog tour to give away a copy of Nicole’s book! You can enter using the Rafflecopter below. Or you can order your own copy of 52 Weeks to Fortify Your Family: 5-Minute Messages today and get to work building that force field around your family!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Does junior high scare you, too? What do you do to fortify your family?

by Melanie

Lesson Learned: Never Update your WordPress Theme

January 15, 2015 in Office by Melanie

wordpress-update



Tuesday night after I got home from a meeting and the kids were all in bed for the night, I sat down to do a little blogging… and that’s when the nightmare started.

Let’s rewind a bit to the end of 2013 when I was just starting Forty Eighteen. I spent a LOT of time finding just the right wordpress theme for the look I wanted. I didn’t want to spend a million dollars, but I wanted some flexibility. Being able to customize it was a must, and there were some features I wasn’t willing to budge on. After a lot of searching and trying things out, I found the perfect theme for me. And the best part??? It was free! It still had tons of options and plenty of flexibility that you would normally expect from a fancy theme that cost a pretty penny, but mine was free and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

This miracle theme came with a warning. It was out of date and a new version would be coming soon. You could pre-order the premium version of the new update and get some extras. But the free version had everything I wanted, so I didn’t bother with it. I didn’t think much of the update. I figured I would see it when it was available.

Fast forward to Tuesday night. I logged into the admin side of my blog and found a few available updates waiting for me. For the first time EVER, one of them was the update for my theme to the new version! It’s time to update, baby!

This is where the nightmare begins. Like a complete IDIOT, I just clicked update. I didn’t look at the theme page, check out the demo, try out the live preview, or even look at screenshots. I figured the version I had was so wonderful that the update would be like that only better.

I cringe when I think about how naive I was.

The update finished and activated, I clicked on “Visit Site,” excited to see how amazing my blog looked now.

Everything

was

gone

 

 

GONE!!!

 

I’m pretty sure I stopped breathing. ALL OF THAT WORK!!! My header was gone, replaced by my blog title in a generic font. My sidebars were gone, replaced by nothing, absolutely nothing. All of my features and customization were gone. I had a generic title and a post and that was it. I was absolutely sick.

What was I thinking??? I know better than that!

I started frantically hitting ctrl+z hoping by some miracle that I could just undo that last little bitty change I had made to my site.

Did you know ctrl+z doesn’t work in every situation??? Aargh!!!

Google will know what to do! I started searching for how to rollback to a previous version of a WP theme. Surely I wasn’t the only one who had made such a colossal mistake, so there must be someone out there with a you tube video explaining how to recover all of my hard work.

Nope. Aargh!!!

Time to pull up my big girl panties and deal with it. I decided it was time to get to work. I had made this moronic mistake and now I had to live with the consequences and recreate my blog. But when I got to work I realized that some of my no-budge features weren’t even options in this new and “improved” version. Aargh!!!

Fine. So instead of recreating my blog with this new theme, it was time to intensify the search for the old version. Wonder of wonders! I found a zip file of my old version of the theme! Hallelujah!!! Time to install it.

The folders already exist. Installation failed. Aargh!!!

The folders already exist? Oh, that’s right, of course they do! I have to delete the current version of the theme before I install the old one. But when I clicked on the theme, “Delete” wasn’t even an option.

Back to Google! Unfortunately, Google told me to do exactly what I had already done to find the delete button. Luckily, that’s when I had an epiphany. I couldn’t delete the theme I was using! So I switched to another theme, and the delete button magically appeared. I clicked delete, accepted the warning that I wouldn’t be able to undo it (believe me – I know ctrl+z doesn’t work in theme installations), and watched it disappear.

That’s when it hit me… I just lost everything! All of my customization and settings and code that I had spend so many hours tweaking was all gone. Aargh!!! I felt sick again.

Oh well, too late to do anything about it now. I installed my zip file and miracle of miracles it worked!!! I clicked on “Visit Site” and stopped breathing again. My header was back, but my sidebars were still gone. Aargh!!!

Oh well, at least I have the right version of the theme now, so I know I can get it all back. Time to put on those big girl panties again and get to work! I started setting up my sidebars and recoding things. Then I scrolled down a little farther as I was moving things around and noticed EVERYTHING at the bottom of the page in an “inactive sidebar” section. I didn’t lose everything after all!!! Yippee! Wahoo!!!

It was 3:30 am by the time I got to bed. After a night of drag and drop, cut and paste, code and tweak, I was pretty proud of myself for fixing my major screw-up. My site was back – and I even made a few of the changes I had been thinking about making for awhile.

Most importantly, I learned a very valuable lesson: NEVER EVER update my wordpress theme!

Have you made any colossal mistakes lately?

Interested in some more lessons I have learned?

I attended my very first blog conference last year and learned how to rock it.

blog-conference-tips

This little trick I learned has saved my sanity every school day morning.

morning-rush

When I learned what my family wants from our family home evenings, I was able to make it a better experience for everyone.

Improve your Family Home Evenings with this free printable from Forty Eighteen

I learned that my young kids are great at cleaning their rooms when they have some direction.

clean-your-room-chartWhat have you learned lately?

by Melanie

9 Health Challenges to Kickstart your 2015

January 3, 2015 in Craft Room by Melanie

9-health-challenges


Feel Great in 8

  • make healthy choices
  • small fee to join
  • following the “rules” earns you points
  • top earners win prize money

30 Day Clean Eating Challenge

  • eat whole, clean meals
  • no refined sugars and flours
  • no prepackaged or processed foods
  • tips for success

Simple Green Smoothies

  • drink one green smoothie every day for a month
  • recipes and shopping lists emailed weekly

Weightless Workout Challenge

  • no weights required
  • video tutorials
  • beginner/intermediate/advanced workouts

3o-Day At-Home Crossfit Challenge

  • no gym or equipment necessary
  • detailed workout schedule with rest days

Fit Food Challenge

  • daily health challenges
  • email reminders
  • weekly meal plans

Drink Your Water

  • drink 64 oz water every day
  • printable calendar

30-Day No Sugar Challenge

  • guidelines and tips for success
  • shopping list
  • Facebook group with recipes and support

4 Week Health Challenge

  • daily health challenges
  • free eBook with email sign up (totally worth it)
  • add one new habit each day as you go along

Want to improve your health this year? What are you doing to get started?

by Melanie

2015 Resolutions

January 1, 2015 in Craft Room by Melanie

resolutions-pin


One little word that strikes fear in the hearts of so many.

Resolutions

When did that become a bad word?

I guess I’m just a weirdo, and I do things a little differently when it comes to setting resolutions, but I LOVE it. I absolutely love a new year and a fresh start. I love thinking about where I want to be a year from now.

I have been known to set 84 resolutions in one year. Yes, 84. Of course, I wasn’t successful with every single one, but when you set that many you’re bound to get lucky with at least one, right?

I’m not quite that extreme anymore, but seriously, I love it. And I will happily set resolutions every single year of my life.

So here are my resolutions for 2015 (I’m keeping it down to 5):

resolution1

1. NO shooting in auto

I have been learning how to use my fancy camera, and it feels like I’ve cracked a secret code. So now it’s time to really get serious. This year I will only shoot in manual mode. I can’t wait to see how much I learn and improve (Surely I will improve, right???) by this time next year.

resolution2

2. Hugs, lots and lots of hugs

There are days when I finally collapse into bed and honestly can’t remember if I took time to cuddle with each one of those sweet little people who call me mom. I should never EVER have a day when I don’t hug and love on those precious girls every chance I get.

resolution3

3. Date like we’re in college again

Once upon a time Steve and I were young college students who were madly in love. We made time for each other and spent every moment we possibly could together. Then we got married and got real jobs and bills and had kids and a million things pulling us in many directions, often away from each other. We still have all of those grown-up responsibilities, but this year I want to act like those college kids more often, still madly in love and spending every moment we possibly can together. Sometimes that needs to be out on the town, away from those adorable kids of ours.

resolution4a

4. Hone healthy habits

You know there’s got to be some kind of health goal in this list, but this isn’t about a drastic diet or unreasonable exercise plan. It’s all about habits. And not just physical healthy habits but also mental health, spiritual health, emotional health. There are a bunch of little habits I want to work on, but I’ve learned that when I’m more disciplined in one area, that discipline bleeds into other areas of my life and I do better in other things, too, so it will all work together.

resolution5

5. Learn something new

Sometimes I feel like my brain is turning to mush. It is frustrating to remember when you used to be really smart and not feel that way anymore. I was a fabulous student all throughout school, but now I struggle to find simple words to complete basic sentences in day-to-day conversations. It’s about time for me to wake up my brain and really work on learning something new and challenging. I have a few projects in mind that will require me to learn some new skills. It will be hard, and I’m excited to get started.

Do you set resolutions? Tell me what you’re planning to accomplish this year.

If you want some help with your resolutions, here are a few things you might want to check out. I break just about every one of the experts’ rules, but I love the way I set my resolutions.

keep-resolutions

This is a great reminder of what is really important and where I need to be spending my time.

spend-time

Happy New Year!!!

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