How to Make Homemade Caramel Apples

Nothing says fall quite like pumpkins and apples. There are so many wonderful recipes that create great Autumn smells in your kitchen! One of my favorite things is caramel apples. Usually people will find them at fairs or if you are lucky, a good one in the grocery store.   You might not realize this is an easy thing to make right in your own home!

First, make sure you set all your ingredients and tools.

What you need:

  • Caramel
  • Apples
  • Sticks
  • Double Boiler/sauce pan/microwaveable bowl
  • Big Spoon
  • Cookie Tray
  • Parchment paper/Tin foil
  • Cooking spray/Butter
  • Crushed nuts or other toppings (optional)
  1. Prepare the apples:

Before you start anything, you will want to make sure your apples are ready to go.

Wash your apples thoroughly to make sure all the wax and dirt is removed. Once done, fully dry the apples. Any moisture will prevent the caramel from sticking properly.

The next thing you’ll want to do is destem the apples and add sticks to them. You can use which ever kind of sticks you like. Pointed sticks do make it easier to add the stick to the apple rather than a duller stick.

After your caramel is ready, you won’t want to worry about it hardening or burning depending on how you are warming your caramel.

2. Prepare your station:

After you prepare your apples to be dunked, you will want to make sure you have a place to put them once you are done covering them. Take a cookie sheet and line it with parchment paper or tin foil. Since caramel can be so sticky, you will also want to grease the surface. You can spray it with a cooking spray or use butter. You can grease your cookie sheet directly, but cleaning up will be easier if you use some kind of liner in case any caramel does get left behind.

3. Warm up your caramel:

You can always make your caramel from scratch or you can use store-bought candies. This time, I used the store-bought candies. If you use them, you will want to follow the directions to add about 2TBS of milk, heavy whipping cream, or water (whatever the candy recommends) to the caramel and stir. If you are warming this on the stove top, make sure to stand by it and keep the heat low to medium to prevent burning.

When your caramel is melted, it should still be thick and gooey. If it is too runny, your apples won’t cover well. You will want to make sure that the caramel is smooth when stirring. If your caramel is still too thick after adding the 2TBS, you can add 1TBS at a time to have it get to the right consistency.

4. Ready to dip!

Once your caramel is ready, start dipping your apples! Submerge your apple as much as possible to allow for the best coverage. I like to use a big cooking spoonto add caramel to the top and then spin the bottom of the apple on the spoon to remove the excess caramel while keeping it coated. When dipping the apple, turn the apple in the caramel, this will allow for even coating.

5. Add toppings:

I prefer to add crushed nuts to my apples, but you can add anything you like. You can even drizzle them with chocolate. Whichever topping you decide to use, make sure they are small.

Immediately after coating your caramel apple, twirl the apple around in your topping and then place on your tray for the caramel to set.

6. Repeat:

Keep repeating this process until all your caramel is gone or until you have made enough caramel apples. Work quickly, but don’t worry, you can always warm your caramel back up if it starts hardening before you are done dipping.

Keep the apples refrigerated if you don’t plan on eating them right away. If you do keep them at room temperature, don’t place them in direct sunlight so the caramel won’t start melting.

7. Enjoy and share!

Once you are done and the mess is cleaned up, enjoy your fresh caramel apple and share with your family and friends (or don’t because they are just that good)!

Keep Celebrating!

Fall Mobile Home Maintenance Checklist

We’ve now arrived at fall and life just got a little more beautiful. With the change of the seasons, we want to check in with our homes and see how they fared the previous season as well as prepare them for the next. Fall is the time we want to make sure our homes are properly sealed for the coming colder air. We also want to ensure our home is ready to handle more heat inside.

Let’s unpack some easy maintenance items and get your mobile home ready for fall!

  • Clean gutters. This is the most common tip for fall! You may want to wait until the leaves start to drop, but you could start now! Make sure they are hooked up correctly, and if your gutter drain has any damage, be sure to repair it.
  • Add caulking. Checking to ensure your windows are sealed is a good place to start. Then you can move to the bathroom and check around faucets and shower heads. Then you can check other problem spots you may notice.
  • Check smoke alarms. Change those batteries! Be sure all your alarms are wired and working properly. You’re going to be lighting candles, using the oven more, and probably adding light and warmth to your home.
  • Put the garden hose away. If you leave it out, it may make a ring of dead grass for next year. Most importantly, you don’t want it to freeze and bust the pipe.
  • Clean your fireplace. It’s good to make sure your fireplace is ready to be used if you have electric or gas, but even more so if you have a log burning fireplace. If you have a damper, you want to properly remove it and check the structure of your fireplace as well as check for creosote. Creosote should be removed during a chimney cleaning.  Consider consulting a professional.
  • Repair/ replace skirting damage. Did you accidentally hit your skirting while weed eating? Are there some holes in your skirting? Repair that with skirting tape or get a new panel!
  • Gaps around/under doors. As heat is generated in your home, it may cause your doors to swell or your doors may just have never been level. Try placing a door snake underneath to fix the gap.

Keep Your Home Energy Efficient!

Happy fall! We hope these tips help you prep your home for the season! Now that your home is ready, it’s time to decorate!

 

Oakbur Quill Co.

Decorating Ideas for Fall

Happy Harvest! Well, almost! We’re only a few weeks away!  We are ready to welcome in the changing season with some great decorating ideas. After the heat of summer – fall offers a breath of fresh air. It’s a moment to reflect and soak up the colors around you. We’ve compiled ideas that we love, and we hope you love them too!

Put the tea kettle on, wrap up in some plaid, and get ready to celebrate the harvest! These ideas are easy, cheap, and look gorgeous!

Fall is ALL about 2 things:

  1. Being outside
  2. Bringing the outside, inside

When decorating use:

  1. Leaves
  2. Branches
  3. Acorns
  4. Corn husk
  5. Pumpkins
  6. Greenery
  7. Moss
  8. Wood

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    Making a beautiful harvest centerpiece is easy and doesn’t have to cost a lot!

Go on a walk with the kids or the dogs and gather some of the things above to decorate with.

CENTERPIECES: Put vases around the house and on your kitchen table. Fill them with what you gathered on your walk! You’ve added instant fall to your house – without the cost! You can also add bird seed or coffee beans to jars or vases for a beautiful look that warms the mood of your home! For a more rustic look, place wooden slabs on the table and arrange some moss on top of it.

Make kid-friendly centerpieces!

DOORS/ ENTRY-WAYS: Make a wreath or garland with any of the items above. You can purchase a Styrofoam/wire ring and add anything you like to it for an easy wreath! If you’re not the crafty type, simply tie some branches together with an orange or brown ribbon and put it over the door.

HOME ACCENTS: Have some old glass bottles or aluminum cans? Wash them and paint them orange, red, or brown. Place them around the house in clusters for a great pop of color. Tea lights add warmth to any corner – place them in the containers you’ve painted for a beautiful votive.

FIREPLACE/ MANTLE: Grab some string and close pins – put it across the mantle. Gather your family to write what they are thankful for on some fall colored paper. Hang them up! You can even cut them out into pumpkins or fun fall shapes. Cover the top of your mantle with acorns and place a couple candles in the middle.

That was easy, right?! We hope these ideas have got you thinking! Your home can have that touch of fall with little effort and cost involved. Here’s to nights of football, apple cider, and savoring every moment.

Happy Fall, Y’all!

How to Start Building Your Fire Pit

There are few things more rewarding and enjoyable than a fire pit on a fresh, spring night. Fire pits quickly transform your backyard into a vacation spot with little effort and cost if you research your options. Plus, if you do it well a fire-pit you make yourself can last much longer than one you purchase. Let’s explore some options for you to have the ultimate backyard fire pit!

Find the perfect spot in your yard. You’ll need a moderately flat area for a fire pit. If you have such a place, you’ll want to level it out as best you can. Be sure to dial 811 or visit call811.com for information about underground utilities in your area. This is recommended before digging to ensure no buried lines are hit. Also, be sure and ask your local city officials about the local fire code.

Outline and Level You’ll want to outline the fire pit area. Do you want a circle, square, etc.? Do you need to cut it out with a small shovel, make a mold, etc.? Be sure to measure well and completely level the area you have measured by digging out grass or covering with special gravel, fire rock, or sand. Be sure the area you have selected is far away from any structures, bushes or trees.

Plan and plot Draw out what you want the area to look like and think of measurements. Layout sticks to the shape and size where you’ll place your materials. If you have a brick or one piece of the final material you want to use to enclose your fire pit, try sizing with that.

Choose you material There are tons of options when it comes to what material you want to use. Consider using brick, gravel, stone, concrete, etc. Be sure you ask a professional if the materials you plan on using are made to tolerate high heat. Check out options to find the look and efforts you want for your fire pit!

Maintain As you use your fire pit you may realize you want to secure stones or turn the material inside the fire pit. Be sure to maintain your space well and update it as needed. Be sure to pay attention to safety options you could add if you have kids or animals that will be near the fire pit.

Get to Gardening!

Easy Summer Outdoor Games

We’re taking a twist on some classics. We’ve put together this collection of games you can add to your evening to liven things up. Great for all ages, these games have just gotten better! We’re using stuff you have around the house and everyday items. We want to save you that trip to the store! Check out the games below to get started!

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Spend some quality time with the family and try some of these games!

  1. Washer Toss
  • Place a thin wooden board on the grass in a level area, place two recycled coffee containers on the board. You can also use old cups or recycled glass jars. You may have to tape containers down if they move.
  • If you’ve got old washers lying around use those. You can also toss old keys or pennies for the same effect.
  • If you’d like to do something different than the board, you can dig two small holes in the ground to throw the washers into. If you’d like a border around the holes, cut two squares out of cardboard and place them around it. Simply try and toss washers, etc. in the containers.

2. Tic-Tac-Toe

  • Grab some flat rocks and paint x’s and o’s, or two different patterns, on them. Paint the lines on a piece of wood or cut some rope and lay them out in the tic-tac-toe grid.
  • You can also use soda bottle lids instead of rocks, or cut out paper shapes.

3. Quick Water

  • This is the simple water game you’ve played before. It’s great for kids or to combat some serious humidity. All you need is at least two buckets or bowls. Then you can use a large sponge, another bucket, or cup.
  • Put everyone in a line with either a bucket at the end or beginning, or buckets throughout. Have players pass the full bucket or sponge to the end of the line and empty in the bucket. Mark a line on the bucket at the end. The first person to reach it wins! [The object is to pass the bucket as fast as possible without spilling!]

 4. Pool noodle limbo

  • Yes, it’s that easy. We recommend taping two noodles side by side and holding them up. Great for kids, they can do it themselves.

5. Three-legged race

  • Tie a bandana around the two runner’s middle leg. Mark off a finish line and start the race!

6. Don’t Spill the Beans

  • Have two or more teams race each other with a bowl or cup of beans!
  • The catch is the cup or bowl must be placed in another bigger cup or bowl of water. You can spill all the water you want but not the beans! The one with the most beans in a bucket at the end of the race, wins!

Get More Family Activity Ideas!

How to Make Your Own American Flag Cake for 4th of July

When it comes to celebrations – we all love to eat! Yet, cooking can add stress to an already long to do list. So, we want to alleviate those concerns by sharing our process for this simple favorite that’s so easy even the kids can help! You may even want to gift a cake to a Veteran as a thank you for their service. Or perhaps you can bake one for a friend or neighbor that is unable to leave their house or accept visitors due social distancing guidelines. Please remember to use caution around others and follow all CDC guidelines as you celebrate, share, and interact this holiday.

To get started you need these things:

  • White boxed cake mix
  • Mix usually calls for: eggs, oil, or milk
  • Whipped Cream (a good amount of it)
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Rectangle shaped pan

Once you have the items you need – it’s time to get started. If you don’t want to do it all in one sitting, you can bake the cake, take a break and come back to the toppings later. Whatever is easiest for you – go with it!

Step 1: Follow the directions on your boxed cake mix and let it cool.

Step 2: Cover with whipped cream. You can make your own or use frosting if you prefer. You also can skip the icing if you’re wanting a little less sugar.

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Step 3: Wash and place blueberries on the cake.

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Step 4: Wash and slice strawberries in half vertically. Then place on cake!

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Serve or chill or later!

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We hope this is an easy, fun addition to your day. Happy 4th! Thank you to those who have served and paid the ultimate sacrifice. Keep the party going with our firework safety tips below!

Firework Safety Tips

Kid Friendly Activities From Your Backyard

With springtime here, the weather is getting warmer and people are spending more time outside, especially kids. Here are a few activities that you can have your kids’ help with that will engage them in hands-on activities and encourage their curiosity.

Plant a Garden:

Teaching kids how to tend for a garden is a wonderful skill. It encourages responsibility, while also creates reward as a result from their hard work. You could choose a vegetable garden or flower garden. Either way, your kids will be proud to see what they grew from a small seed. These gardens can be low maintenance and you have a variety of options to choose from depending on your space. You could make a raised flowerbed or have a garden in buckets. You can even get creative with your containers with a little inspiration.

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Learning about gardening is super fun for kids – they are invited to get dirty!

Make a Bird feeder:

A fun outdoor activity is to make an up-cycled birdfeeder. There are the traditional bird feeders that you can build or buy, but you can also make one out of every day objects you would typically throw out. Create one by decorating an old milk carton, bottles, or cans. Once you have it made, learn what kind of birds are in your area and find out what kind of seed they like. When filled and hung, you can sit and listen to their songs and help your kids identify the different species right in your own backyard.

Make Wind Chimes:

Adding a little music to your yard is another simple craft for you and your kids. With this activity you can up-cycle a variety of objects from old toys, to cans, to silverware. Check out this article for some ideas ! Test out the sounds together to here how they clink together to find the right sounds. This fun activity will allow your kids to be creative and be proud every time they hear the wind blow.

Decorate your Pathway:

If you have a front pathway or maybe just want to add a little flair to your garden, you can collect rocks with your kids and then paint them. You can pick a theme you want to stick to for the ideas or just go crazy with it! Let creativity be your guide. Once completed, you can line your walkway or make a rock garden with your newly decorated rocks. You can also decorate clay pots and arrange them on your front stoop or porch.

Get Even MORE Ideas!

Whichever craft you choose, remember it will encourage creativity while letting their personalities shine through and create life long memories that you’ll kids will take with them as they grow.

How to Maximize Your Free Time

Cleaning is a tasking chore. There is no doubt about that. For me, it felt like I was stuck in the same routine every Saturday. I worked hard all week and yet when the weekend came, I was still working. It was exhausting and I just wanted to take a break! So what is the solution? Hire a maid? Nice idea, but it wasn’t for me.

Here are some tips to make life a little easier when it comes to cleaning.

Make a schedule:

Who knew mom would have had genius ideas? As a child it seemed like the chore list was put in place to create torture. A rotating schedule that meant you had to do one of each thing as a child, yuck! And now as adults, it is all left up to us to complete.

Implementing a family chore list, or one even if you live alone can be a huge help. It’ll help you complete all the tasks throughout the week so when Saturday morning comes, you are free to relax without housework looming over your head.  Plus, if you have a family, you’ll have help around the house and won’t have to remind anyone what chore they have and on what day.

Feel free to take this with you to make your own chore list that works for you!

Chore List Template Sheet1

One Extra Thing…

If you have too many horror flashbacks from implementing a chore schedule or it just doesn’t work for your lifestyle, try to do just one extra thing a day. This could be doing a load of laundry after you get off work, or going grocery shopping during the week. Doing just one thing extra a day will help for your house to be fresh all through out the week and maximize your weekend time.

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Keeping up with clutter keeps it from happening!

Put it away, right away:

Yet again, mom was right. How many times did you hear, “pick up your toys if you’re done with them?” A thousand times at least, right? This holds true with clutter. For me, the clutter is always the worst, especially junk mail. It just seems to creep up on me. But, if I take care of it right away it won’t be there later; simple enough concept.  The same holds true with putting away laundry, folding blankets, etc. If you do it right when you are done with whatever it is, it won’t be waiting for you to do later. The extra 3 seconds it takes to toss the junk mail out or fold the blanket you are done with will save you more in the future. It’ll be a moment here or there rather than all the moment compiled at once. Plus, you’ll continue to have your house tidy even if you haven’t had the time to sweep or vacuum.

Check out the Interactive Chore List!

Remember, any change of routine can take a little bit to truly set in and the more people in the household, the longer it probably is going to take. Try to be patient with yourself (and your family) with getting there. But once you are, you won’t regret the extra time you have!

Staying Connected: Making Mother’s Day Special During a Pandemic

Your mom has been there for you in certain and uncertain times of your life. She fed you, changed your diapers, taught you how to walk, talk, the list goes on and on for how far a mother’s love extends. So how can you show your appreciation for your mom during a global pandemic? Maybe she lives in a different state than you or in the same town, but it is still discouraged to visit anyone where it isn’t essential. Here are some suggestions for making your mom feel special even if you can’t spend some quality time with her the old-fashioned way:

Call Her:

Zoom, Facebook, Google, Facetime, Skype, the possibilities for a video call are ENDLESS. Take the extra time to see your mom while keeping her safe.

Drive By to See Her:

A lot of people are planning parades. Get your siblings together and find a good time where you can all drive by your mom’s house and honk the horn. You can make signs and decorate your cars for when you make your appearance.

Send a Meal:

Maybe you want to treat your mom to a meal or a dessert of some sort. You can either make it yourself and drop it off at her doorstep or you can call a local restaurant and see if they offer delivery. If they don’t offer delivery, but offer curbside pickup, let your mom know about the surprise and plan a good time for her to go get her special dinner.

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Make mom something sweet!

Give a Gift:

A lot of pampering places are currently not opening and may not be opening for a little while yet until we know how this virus will shake out. Give her a gift card or gift certificate to her favorite nail salon, hair salon, or a massage. If she’d rather go to the movies, give her a gift card to the movie theater in her town that way when they open back up, she can enjoy it then.

Send Flowers:

If there are any local florists open near you, send her flowers if that is her thing to let her know you are thinking of her.

Make this Mother’s Day extra memorable by thinking outside of the box to show her how much you care. After all, she deserves a little extra sunshine and love.

Get More Ideas!