One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to start writing on this blog again. I got so focused on my Etsy Shop that I only wrote 4 posts last year! And I even came up with a new theme to keep me motivated: A Year of Living Joyously – Celebrating all the wacky but fun national days and holidays that permeate our calendar.
I was planning to jump right in on Jan 1st with National Bloody Mary Day, but to be honest, it’s been a rough start to the year.
To make a long, upsetting story short, I have skin cancer again.
Some of you may remember the last time I had skin cancer, back in 2004. And if you do, you probably remember that I didn’t handle it well. Not because it was life-threatening or anything so serious but because the cancer was on my face and I made one of the colossal blunders:
I researched skin cancer on the Internet.
And the Internet, surprisingly, is NOT filled with pictures of people who come out of skin cancer surgery looking like supermodels. The Internet tends to focus on more shocking imagery and bombards the innocent searcher with photos of people who have had their noses removed.
If you are one of the people that I called after that unfortunate research decision, I should probably take this time to apologize again for screaming “Mutilating Disfigurement!” and hanging up. I’m sure that was a little disconcerting for you.
In any case, the cancer is back. And, although it's still not life threatening, it's on my face again in 2 different spots. Plus it’s worse than it was last time. And, once again, I'm not handling it all that well. Especially this week when I found out I have to have a horrible procedure known as a "forehead flap." I actually can’t bear to get into too many of the details now but trust me when I say you should NOT Google “Forehead flap" unless you’re prepared for some really horrifying imagery that might cause you to call your family and friends screaming about mutilating disfigurement.
We should all probably take a moment to feel a little sorry for Opie who can’t just hang up and get away from the disfigurement shouting and is instead forced to answer questions like “Be honest, do you think I’m going to look more like a troll or a zombie?” and “Are you still going to love me when I’m wandering around here WITHOUT A NOSE?!”
So, as you can see, I haven’t exactly been in a blog-writing mood.
But as luck would have it, today January 8th is National English Toffee Day. And my mom makes the absolute best English Toffee in the world.
I make her recipe sometimes and it’s good when I do it but not as good as hers. I’m not so secretly convinced that this is because she hasn’t given me the REAL recipe. I think that at some point she sneaks a healthy dose of black tar heroin into the mix and that’s why I can’t stop eating it. Once, years ago, she gave me this huge container of her homemade deliciousness to take home after Thanksgiving, so I could serve it at a Christmas party. But it didn't make it to the party. In fact, it didn't even survive November. My friend Eric and I ate through the entire batch in one afternoon…and I mean we chowed on it until we were lying on the couch, sick to our stomachs, muttering “This is my last piece, I mean it this time."
It’s probably hard to see the connection between toffee and skin cancer. And I admit it is a bit tenuous until you realize that I've been reading back through my old emails and blog posts from the last time I had skin cancer. I was single then and my mom was with me through it all (and you can see how amazing she was here) A few minutes after that, I saw something online about it being English Toffee Day. Which made me think of my resolution...I decided that I’m going to try to be strong too. The surgery isn't until March and in the meantime, I’m going to celebrate all the things I can and laugh as much as possible…I'm probably still going to bombard Opie with awkward questions and brief bouts of hysteria but I'm also going to shove English Toffee in my face with reckless abandon.
So, in the spirit of this determination and in honor of National English Toffee Day, here is my mom’s recipe for English Toffee (minus the black tar heroin!)
2 sticks of salted butter
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons of water
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
3 Hershey Bars
Put the butter, sugar and water in a saucepan and slowly bring to a boil over low to medium heat. Stir often until the mixture reaches the hard crack stage (approximately 300 degrees). Remove from heat an stir in baking soda and vanilla (be careful as this sometimes splatters). Pour into a cake pan –use a thin sheet cake for thinner pieces or an 9x13 for thicker. Put the candy bars on top of the candy while it’s still hot and spread to cover.
It won't be as good as when my mom makes it but I bet it's still pretty good!