Author Archives: theessenceofcameron

Summer Umbrella Wreath

My friends would tell you that I decorate my front door for every holiday, I mean EVERY holiday. So from Halloween until Easter there is something decorative on my door at all times. There is always a depression that ensues when I can’t figure out what to celebrate between Easter and Memorial Day. This year I decided to celebrate the warm temperatures with a festive, bright and cheery paper umbrella wreath.

I first came across this idea on Pinterest and saw it again in Food Network Magazine.  Both places raved about how quick, easy and cheap this wreath was to make. So I gave it a try!

To start, you need to purchase a package of paper parasols/umbrellas, which can be found at Party City for only $5. Just a little side note, you will have tons left over for some Cinco de Mayo margaritas! You will also need a 14″ foam wreath, which I found at Michael’s for only $5.99.

Now just start opening the umbrellas and sticking them into the foam wreath.

About 15 minutes later you will have a complete umbrella wreath. This wreath is a great way to brighten up any door for the summer and just in time for a fiesta!

 

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Cookie Dough Truffles

Who doesn’t love cookie dough? I don’t know of many people! My sister and I have been known to buy the prepared cookie dough at the grocery store and eat all of it before the cookies make it to the oven. So in reality, what is the point of baking cookie dough? Paula Deen, not surprisingly, agrees with me and  created the recipe for Cookie Dough Truffles.

I first tried this recipe about a year ago and have been making them as gifts ever since. People can’t seem to get enough! The easy no-bake recipe will win you praise you can’t imagine!

First, mix the softened butter (best to leave out overnight so that it comes to room temperature) with the brown sugar until creamy with an electric mixer. Mix in the vanilla. Once creamy, add the flour. Now for the ingredient that makes these truffles so yummy, sweetened condensed milk!

The recipe then calls for mixing in chocolate morsels and pecans, but with so many people allergic to nuts, I left out the pecans.  Make sure to line a baking sheet with wax paper and roll out the dough into balls. I used a 1-inch ice cream scooper so that all the truffles would be uniform in size. Once rolled, place into the refrigerator to chill.

Using a double boiler (simmering water in a pan with a glass bowl on top) melt the chocolate coating. Use two forks to dip cookie dough into the chocolate. This step is kind of messy, but fun!

Place back onto the wax paper and into the refrigerator to chill for a final go around. Once set, the cookie dough truffles should look like this.

Granted they aren’t the most beautiful of candies, but the point is that they are supposed to look homemade. As I mentioned before, they work great in little goodie bags for takeaways from any event. I gave them to guests after Easter Supper to take home. A great way for party goers to really feel appreciated!

I hope your mouths are watering and that you are enticed to make  these for yourself. Or just give me a call! For further video instruction visit http://www.foodnetwork.com/videos/cookie-dough-truffles/45548.html

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup semisweet mini chocolate morsels
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1 1/2 lbs. chocolate bark candy coating, melted
Directions:
Cream butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer at medium speed until creamy. Add vanilla. Gradually beat in flour. Add condensed milk. Add chocolate morsels and pecans. Shape into 1-inch balls. Placed on waxed paper and chill for 2 hrs. Melt the chocolate bark candy coating in a double broiler. Using 2 forks, dip cookie balls in coating to cover. Place on waxed paper and chill in refrigerator for 1 hr.

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Larry Wayne (Chipper) Jones Jr., Thank You

My Dad and I recently made a trip down to Orlando for Braves spring training at the ESPN Wide World of Sports. It has been a bucket list item for both of us, so needless to say it was pretty exciting. Not only have the Braves kept my Dad and I close, but also one player in particular, Chipper Jones.

You might think it is strange that my relationship with my Dad centers around baseball, but you learn a lot about a person during all the down time at a ball game. Our conversations over the phone start out about how the Braves are “lookin” this year, but inevitably turns to what is going on in our respective lives.

Now let me explain how Chipper Jones connects us. Chipper is our favorite player, hands down. We both get giddy when talking about his amazing switch hitter abilities; in fact he ranks second on the all time switch-hitter RBI list. My Dad loves to brag that they share part of the same name because my dad’s first name is Wayne (along with millions of others I am sure!). We have both, admittedly, been on the “it is time to hang up the cleats” bandwagon because he cannot seem to run to first base without pulling a hamstring. My Dad still claims Chipper is a great fielder, which in reality we both know his age is showing on the field. All of this to say that since I was 5 years old, Chipper has been a Brave, which means he has been apart of our conversation for 18 years.

Chipper recently announced that the 2012 season will be his last. Although he has had his ups and downs personally, no one can deny what a great baseball player he is. I cannot deny that Chipper kept my Dad and I talking through the ups and downs of our own relationship. So thank you Chipper, and may my Dad and I have so much to talk about in your final season.

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Fair Tax, Wishful Thinking I know

After a recent conversation with my father about taxes, I began to wonder why our tax system has to be so confusing. Now to preface this post, I understand that a tax system such as the fair tax is not really in the realm of possibilities at the moment, but a girl can dream right?

If you had to choose a national tax system my guess is that it would not look like our current system. It would enable Americans to prepare their taxes without an accountant or software program, while also saving the billions of dollars spent each year on tax planning and audits. The fair tax is a plan to replace federal income and payroll taxes, including personal, gift, estate, capital gains, alternative minimum, social/security/medicare, self-employment, and corporate taxes. The fair tax replaces all of these taxes with a proposed 23 percent sales tax on new items and services, which means you could buy that used dream car and pay no taxes! Now I know that the arguments of this plan are formulating in all of your brains right now, but let me try to defend a few.

Many claim that the fair tax would just hurt the poor even, but what many don’t realize is that the fair tax would actually give out a prebate to make sure that no American would be paying taxes on necessities. If you take the poorest members of the generation born in 1990 under the fair tax, they would experience a 13.5 percent improvement in economic well-being, while the middle and upper class would receive a 5 and 2 percent increase. The last worry is what if Americans stop spending? The fair tax research has shown that consumption would increase by 2.4 percent in the first year and 11.7 percent by the tenth year.

Lastly, in these economic hard times, we need a tax system that helps keep jobs in the U.S. The fair tax exports more of our products rather than our jobs. By removing the cost of corporate taxes and compliance costs from  U.S. exports,  our exports will be on the same level as foreign competitors. This will increase the demand for U.S. exports, which will create a need for more jobs in the manufacturing sectors.

Now this is obviously just a snapshot of the fair tax, but go to the fair tax calculator and see how the fair tax would benefit you!

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An Alternative Meaning for Love

As a graduate student and former UGA tennis player, I wanted to investigate an alternative definition for the word love. Valentine’s Day, a red rose, chocolates and romance. These are all things that are associated with the word love. Love comes from the Latin words lubet, meaning ‘it is pleasing’, and lubido, meaning desire. Webster’s dictionary defines love “as a strong affection for another arising out of kinship, personal ties, admiration, or attraction based on sexual desire.” Seeing as how Valentine’s Day just passed, you would think I would be inspired to talk about love, but on the contrary I am a little bitter. To many people love is everything, but to me love is nothing.

That’s right I decided to research the meaning of the word love in tennis. Love in tennis means nothing, nada, zilch, zero, YOU ARE LOSING. Scoring in tennis for a single game goes love, 15, 30, 40, game. There is nothing worse than the feeling of the umpire yelling love-40 when you are about to serve. The use of the word in tennis is actually of much debate. There are three main arguments about how love came to signify zero in the game of tennis.

The first theory argues that tennis is a gentlemen’s sport and by using the word love, instead of zero or nothing, makes your opponent feel better.

The second theory claims that love came to be used from the phrase “to play for the love of the game” or in other words “to play for nothing”. It was thought tennis should be a cordial and fun game that did not deal with winnings, but only played for enjoyment.

Lastly, and my personal favorite, is the French egg theory. Many scholars claim this is the true origin of the use of the word love in tennis. Society at large thinks of tennis being played by English kings and queens and the historic event of Wimbledon, but tennis actually dates back further in French history. The value of nothing is symbolized by the number zero, which resembles the shape of an egg. French tennis players used the word for egg, which is “l’oeuf” in French, to announce “no score”. When tennis crossed over to the English, the word l’oeuf was changed to the English word love by British players because of the similar pronunciation and spelling.

As you can see, the word love can have several different meanings that are completely opposite of each other.  Hopefully one day I will understand a different kind of love, but just remember the next time you use the word love, especially when talking to a tennis player, it is not always a good thing.

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