The Mug Club Mug Rug

The Mug Club Kid Giddy

Confession: I've never made a mug rug before.

If you know me at all you know I have a hard time working small. And a mug rug is very small. I absolutely could not resist, however, when Kerry Goulder at Kid Giddy asked me to participate in The Mug Club Sew Along. I'm rather an obsessive tea and hot chocolate drinker so capturing the best vessel seemed like fun.

There are 12 different patterns in the Mug Club. You can buy one or both series, each with six paper piecing patterns. Kerry sells Series 1 and Sue sells Series 2. They come in 6'' or 10'' finished sizes. Cozy tea time quilt anyone?

Did you know Kerry is a paper piecing master? It seems she can take nearly any shape or image and turn it into an easy to make paper piecing pattern. I'm in awe. Roller skates, Land of Magic, pugs, mugs, and more

The Mug Club Luchadores on a quilt

I'm also in love with my little mug rug. I picked the Vardagen mug from Series 1. It reminded me of one of my favourite mugs, the kind you can wrap your hands around to warm yet not so big that the tea gets cold before you finish it. I picked the silliest of fabrics because that's just how my sense of humour works. Luchadores on a tea mug?!

Check out all the other mugs made during this sew-along by following the #TheMugClub or #TheMugClubSAL on Instagram.  Both Kerry and her sister, Sue, are leading a beautiful parade of mugs!

Hot Cocoa for Brett

Not surprisingly, it snowed in Alberta this week. Saskatchewan too. (Hubby is snowed in there right now.) For all the grumbling of my mom and mother-in-law, it is actually expected. I remember more Halloween's with snow than without.

Snow means snowsuits, snow forts, snowball fights, wet mittens, and hot cocoa upon re-entry to the centrally heated house. Most kids these days are quite used to the package of hot chocolate, full of sugar and preservatives. Well, they don't know the last part, but they are used to the packaged taste.

I was watching some of my nephews and niece yesterday. All five kids ventured into the snow as soon as school was out. When the four youngest came in I set to making them a little treat. It was all for them, I swear. My 6 year old niece and Smilosaurus were keen on helping. I hope my brother doesn't mind them sitting on the counter. But they were quite into the whole process. I'm writing this post so my niece has the recipe for cocoa, she was trying really hard to memorize it yesterday.

Hot Cocoa - The Basics
1 serving

1 cup milk
1 tbsp cocoa
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

1. Heat the milk in a pot on the stove (ask Mom or Dad to help if Auntie isn't around)
2. In a small bowl, stir together the cocoa and sugar. Add a few tablespoons of warm milk. Stir well to make a runny paste.
3. Stir the cocoa and sugar paste into the hot milk. Add vanilla. Serve with marshmallows.

If you want to make this a little fancy, try some garam masala, chai spices, peppermint extract, orange zest, or raspberry syrup. And definitely add marshmallows. Personally, I am a huge fan of these ones from Aimee.


There are people who cannot start their day without a fresh cup of coffee. In my Hubby's case, it is a Venti Americano from Starbucks. (Oddly, he is too lazy to make a pot of coffee at home, but not too lazy to get in the car and drive to Starbucks or go for a walk with the girls.)

Me, I can't stand coffee. Hate it, hate anything that tastes like it. No mocha, no tiramisu, no chocolate covered coffee beans. And no amount of convincing or tastes of supposedly the best-cup-of-coffee-ever will make me change my mind.

But pour me a boiling hot cup of strong black tea, maybe with a touch of honey, and I am a happy girl. Generally, I have a pot in the morning, and maybe one in the afternoon.  Of late, however, my stomach hasn't been so happy with all that tea. So I have a cup, maybe two, and that's it. I can't break the habit of making an entire pot though.

So I do what any sane Ukrainian girl/miser would do. I pour the leftover tea in a jar and place it in the fridge. With a splash of lemonade or a bit of simple syrup I now have iced tea for an afternoon treat or with dinner.

You could cold brew your iced tea, sure, but frankly, I find that takes too long and uses more tea bags than necessary. And I already have the tea made and it would otherwise go to waste. It is perfect for a picnic or a hot afternoon.

Scotch and ...

In a fit of accidental drinking and eating Hubby and I discovered a fantastic food/liquor combo. Scotch and caramel corn.  In particular, peanut and sea salt with my caramel corn and a smoky scotch like Caol Isla. Okay, so the drinking wasn't accidental, but the insane hunger that led us to the Scouts caramel corn was.

Not wanting to repeat ourselves, nor get into that beyond sweet caramel corn again, as well as prep for My "Whiskey for Dinner" class tonight I set out to make my own caramel corn. How refreshing it was to discover that it is so damn easy. Pop some popcorn, make some caramel, toss together, and bake at low heat. That's it. I even encouraged the men in our class tonight that it was dead easy and hopefully they are logging on to get the recipe right now.

One of the surprising things in my research was that 99.99 % of the recipes I found used brown sugar.  Actually, I didn't find any that used white sugar, but I can't conclusively say that there isn't one out there. The first batch I made was with the "best brown" sugar I keep in the house for oatmeal and cookies.  It was good, once I got over the concept of adding baking soda to the recipe. But I knew I wouldn't have enough, plus I wasn't that fond of the colour.

The second batch was with the "yellow" brown sugar I borrowed from the neighbour when I realized that the nanny had used the last of my brown sugar making cookies - not that I was complaining. And, I'll admit it, I was afraid to try white sugar since I found no recipes with it. So yellow brown sugar it was. 

Can you tell the difference in the photo above? Best Brown on the left, yellow brown on the right.

So I had my caramel corn ready to go. Good to go. Loaded up I joined a great group of guys at J. Webb tonight. Where are my single ladies?  Seriously, develop a taste for scotch or an open mind, because there are always a fun, intelligent group of guys at scotch tastings. 

The caramel corn was on deck to serve with those lovely smoky or peaty scotches.  When it comes to scotch and food pairings you don't want to pair smoke with smoke. The sweet and salt of caramel corn matches perfectly with the smoky drinks. Actually, the caramel corn went with almost all the scotches.  As does chocolate, especially the fruity ones from Venezuela and Guatemala.

But pairing scotch and food is more than the sweet stuff. At its most basic level, pairing is pretty straight forward - match the basic characteristics of the scotch to your food. For example, the Lowland scotches are lighter, so they work well with rich cheese, honey, and fruit. Something like a pear and brie tart, or a cream of leek soup. And think about where the scotch comes from, The Island and Speyside styles work really well with seafood and both clean and salty flavours.  Even sushi works really well, or mussels with fennel.  The Lowland and Highland styles lend themselves to the richness of game meat, the sweetness of peppers, and even some spice.

But the star of the night was the caramel corn.  And the Glenfarclas 17 year old.

The caramel corn recipe I used was a slight variation on this one.  I added a bit more salt, used the roasted peanuts I had in the cupboard, and that yellow brown sugar. It isn't cloying, has the burnt sugar saltiness, and the baking soda makes the carmel crackle, but not crack.

Caramel Corn
Makes about 10 cups

1 3/12 ounce package plain/orginal/natural popcorn
OR 10 cups air popped popcorn
1 cup yellow brown sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 tbsp water
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (cut this back if you prefer it without the salty taste)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup peanuts, cashews, or pecans

1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper or spray with non-stick spray. Spray a large bowl.
2. Pop your popcorn and toss in the bowl, being careful to keep out any unpopped kernels.
3. Whisk sugar, corn syrup, butter, salt, and water in a small saucepan.  Melt and boil for 3-5 minutes until it reaches 250 degrees F on a candy thermometer. You need the candy thermometer, so don't try to just eyeball this step.
4. As soon as you reach temperature stir the baking soda and vanilla into the caramel.  Pour over the popcorn, add the nuts, and stir together.  You won't get a complete cover over the popcorn, but stir well and try to get a little on each bit of popped corn. Spread out on the cookie sheet.
5. Let cook slowly in your low oven, stirring gently every 20 minutes, for 1 hour. Let cool completely before enjoying.