Deck the Halls Holiday Home Tour Finale and Saltine Toffee to send you on your way, hey!

And Merry Christmas to all!

Merry Christmas from The Elves
Merry Christmas from The Elves

This is the happiest time of year for the Elf Family and they are especially impressed with the last two homes on our Virtual Holiday Home Tour.

The Quinn House
The Quinn House

As we wind down our First Annual “We Call Him Yes!Chef!” Virtual Holiday Home Tour (or WCHYVHHT for short), we are stopping in Placerville to visit the Quinns.  Yes!Chef! and I are planning to move to Placerville (the city of my birth) in early 2014.  So, it’s nice to be able to tour the “neighborhood.”

We have known the Quinn’s for several years now, and they are a fun and quirky family consisting of Mr. and Mrs. Quinn and two young men.  Oh, and they also have a dog named Honey (with whom Obie T. Dogg has been known to pal around.)  And some chickens.  They may have other animals (like cats), but I don’t remember at this point.

Let’s go on in and see what’s up with the Quinns.

Terri Quinn Ornaments

Mrs. Quinn is very artistic, as you can tell by her choice of decorations.  The ornaments with her sons pictures on them (they are grown men now), are very charming and makes me wish I had some with my children on them.  I know she is a painter, but I cannot tell you if she painted those ornaments.  Maybe she will comment.  (Hint, hint.)Quinn 2Her tree is beautiful and she tells me her minions decorated it.  I think the minions are jealous of my elves, so they had to get into the act.  That’s okay.  They did a great job.

Thank you, Quinn family, for allowing us to take a look at your lovely Christmas decorations.

Time for a snack…

When we were living in Moorpark, CA, and the kids were small I took a bunch of cake decorating classes and got pretty good with my skills.  In fact, I was able to make baby shower cakes, birthday cakes, Engagment cakes and I made two wedding cakes.  It was the wedding cakes that finally cured me of making cakes for people.  Too much stress involved in the whole wedding cake ordeal, from the ingredients to the actual taste of the cake, to the decorations and worst of all the transportation of the cake from the bakery (my house) to the venue.  I’ll stick with photography, thank you very much.

Where is all this going?  No, I did not make a cake for a snack.  I made Saltine Toffee!

Saltine Toffee
Saltine Toffee

The connection with my story is that I found this recipe in one of my cake decorating magazines all those years ago.  I’ve only made it a couple of times, but I thought it would be good to take it out again for our Virtual Holiday Home Tour because it’s fast, easy and tasty.  The saltine cracker dissolves into layers a little bit and the saltiness of the cracker adds just the right saltiness to the candy.  I add a little more nuts than the original recipe calls for because it helps to cut the sweetness.

Now that you’ve finished your snack (recipe at end of post), wash your hands (or lick off the chocolate) and let’s head to the small mountain community of Camino, where my friends, the Clarks, live.  Camino is also known as Apple Hill and in the fall it is alive with apples, craft places, fall activities for the family and as fall moves into the Christmas season, Apple Hill is where the flat-landers go to cut down Christmas Trees.  It is a wonderful area that you should surely visit when you come to Northern California.

20121017-_MG_8183-Edit webLast year I had the extreme honor of being able to photograph the Clark Family at a Christmas Tree farm in Camino.  They are a very fun and very attractive family.  I won’t put up their picture here because I don’t have permission, but take my word for it…they are adorable.

clark 1I met Mrs. Clark several years ago in a photography class.  She is a very fine photographer with a keen eye for composition.  They live in a very lovely country home where Mrs. Clark has her own “Ladies’ Porch”.  Ladies, honestly, wouldn’t you love your own porch where you could sit in a comfy rocker, read a good book and sip hot tea in the fall and ice tea in the summer?  I say “Yes!”.

clark 2Mrs. Clark is also an avid scrapbooker and her lovely scrapbook is featured at the top of this collage.  She has learned design and composition very well, as you can see by her impeccably decorated home.  I especially love her Snoopy Tree.

Thank you Clark Family for letting us traipse thru your very lovely home.  Merry Christmas!

Layers of flavor
Layers of flavor

Now for the very easy recipe for the Saltine Cracker Toffee.

Saltine Toffee


  • 4 ounces saltine crackers
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped pecans


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Line a cookie sheet with saltine crackers in single layer, salty side up.
  3. In a saucepan combine the sugar and the butter. Bring to a boil and boil for 3 minutes. Pour immediately over saltines and spread to cover crackers completely.
  4. Bake at 400 degrees F for 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips over the top. Let sit for 5 minutes. Spread melted chocolate over entire top, corner to corner and end to end so that the entire top is covered with melted chocolate.
  5. Top with chopped nuts.
  6. Cool completely and break into pieces.

I carried this recipe around with me for years and I’ve made it a couple of times.  Today, when I was writing up the recipe I wanted to credit the magazine, but I didn’t remember the name.  So I searched around the internet and it turns out this recipe can be easily found.   I’m not as clever as I thought.  Didn’t find the name of the magazine, though.

Nothing new under the sun, as they say.

Enjoy it anyway.  Merry Christmas!

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Published by

Karen Schmautz


3 thoughts on “Deck the Halls Holiday Home Tour Finale and Saltine Toffee to send you on your way, hey!

  1. Oh, you and your recipes!!! That sounds soooo yummy!
    No, I didn’t paint the boys’ pictures on the ornaments, back then I hadn’t taken classes. The Cheese dish in the background with the grapes? Done by my watercolor teacher who also paints on dishes. And the glass bulbs are from Mt St Helens.
    Thank you, sweet friend, for putting this together! If you do it again next year it will motivate me to drag out a lot more of my decorations. With boys only, it’s hard to get up the enthusiasm.

    1. That was the point! Next year I will probably get started a little earlier with my preparations and food. I did this as a lark and it turned out so well. I totally forgot to put up my pictures, so I will do that today or tomorrow. Ha! Merry Christmas, dear friend, and when I finally move to P’ville we shall get together often!

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