Thursday, December 11, 2008

Let the Christmas Parties Begin!

I received this via email and thought it was too funny :)


1. Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet
table knows nothing of the Christmas spirit. In fact, if you see
carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they're serving rum

2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. It's rare.. You cannot
find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it
has 10,000 calories in every sip? It's not as if you're going to turn
into an eggnog-alcoholic or something. It's a treat. Enjoy it. Have one
for me. Have two. It's later than you think. It's Christmas!

3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That's the whole point of
gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of
your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.

4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they're made with skim milk or
whole milk. If it's skim, pass. Why bother? It's like buying a sports
car with an automatic transmission.

5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control
your eating. The whole point of going to a Christmas party is to eat
other people's food for free. Lots of it. Hello?

6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New
Year's. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do.
This is the time for long naps, which you'll need after circling the
buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of

7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like
frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position
yourself near them and don't budge. Have as many as you can before
becoming the center of attention. They're like a beautiful pair of
shoes. If you leave them behind, you're never going to see them again.

8. Same for pies. Apple, Pumpkin, Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or if
you don't like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have
three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day?

9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it's loaded with the
mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have
some standards.

10. One final tip: If you don't feel terrible when you leave the party
or get up from the table, you haven't been paying attention. Re-read
these tips; start over, but hurry, January is just around the corner.
Remember this motto to live by:

"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of
arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to
skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, body thoroughly used up,
totally worn out and screaming "WOO HOO what a ride!"

Have a wonderful Christmas season!!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

An Advent Conspiracy

I love this video...

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Vegas Recap!

Sorry for the slow update with my pictures and commentary from the Vegas trip. If I could sum it up in a simple phrase, it'd be..."total sensory experience." Some of it dazzling, some of it foul.

Day 1: Traveling to Vegas...our flights had some unexpected delays but we did finally get there. The SeaBands did their job effectively :) and we flew into Vegas at night. What a beautiful view! We made our way over to Bally's hotel and immediately your ears and eyes are overwhelmed. From the constant beeping, music, flashing lights of the casino to the marbled floors and brass fixtures everywhere. It's a tad garish.

Our hotel at night (Paris Las Vegas was right next door...more about that later!)

Day 2: The time change threw us for a loop, albeit the sunrise was beautiful! While Brent began his first day of meetings, I went on the Backstage tour of the Jubilee! show. The Jubilee! show is one of the last remaining traditional showgirls show, hence why I took the backstage tour, and didn't see the real deal! It was so fun to see these giant feathered headdresses and sequined costumes. Unfortunately, pictures weren't allowed, but if it was big, fluffy, and bright, it was backstage! :) We saw the girls' dressing rooms, wig repair room, and seamstress area. Huge productions have always thrilled me, even seeing behind the scenes concepts.

The rest of the afternoon prior to dinner, I walked the huge "Strip" down to the Luxor hotel (Egyptian-themed) to visit the Bodies exhibit. Once again, I wasn't able to take pictures while inside, but visit the site and you'll learn what I'm speaking of. Unbeknownst to me, the Bodies exhibit was more than an educational experience, it became one of worship too! I was constantly in awe of how God has so intricately and perfectly designed our bodies. I have always been fascinated with biology and especially anatomy, so this was just a little piece of paradise. And because Brent was in a meeting, it was quite liberating to go at my very own pace and read every single placard! :)

Afterwards, Brent and I had a buffet dinner organized by his company, so it was nice meeting new colleagues and catching up with ones I had met in Vermont.

Day 3: The first couple of hours were quite boring, because I was out walking on the Strip at 8 am, and I was unaware that all of the shops/malls open at 10. Bummer! Once again, I enjoyed the fact that I could go at a leisurely pace and look at all of the beautiful windows of stores. Vegas has lots of shopping available, but most of it is definitely high-end. I spent most of my time at the Venetian hotel where there are gondolas available to ride, indoors or out! It was beautiful, and since I've yet to see genuine European architecture, I enjoyed it for what it was.

I made my way to Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum, and had so much fun looking at all of the famous figures. My only regret was that I didn't have Brent with me to take more pictures while there. Unlike other museums, this one really encourages visitors to have fun with the fake celebs. I had to get one with my girl Lucy!

After my fun there, I met up with Brent for lunch at the Eiffel Tower Restaurant. It was divine! As soon as we were whisked off of the elevator into the kitchen, we were given delicate phyllo dough cups with crab dip inside. Amazing! We were taken to our seats where the views were amazing, since we overlooked the Bellagio hotel's fountains. Our waiter was actually from the south of France and had immigrated to the US only four years ago. His accent was to die for...I truly felt like I was in Paris. We ordered some succulent dishes that were no doubt 3,000 calories each. Before we left, our waiter brought over a complimentary dessert, chocolate ganache dusted with powdered sugar. I kid you not, it was the best dark chocolate I've ever tasted. I jokingly told the waiter, "This isn't Hershey's, is it?"

We left lunch and headed up to the observation deck of the Eiffel Tower and saw some great views of the whole city, including the gorgeous mountains that surround the desert terrain.

We made our way down the Strip since Brent had yet to see it...he had been stuck in meetings the whole time, all the while my feet were dying from the miles I'd walked. He took a ride on the roller coaster at New York, New York and we made our way over to MGM Grand and had fun watching the lions play in their habitat.

Later that evening, I had two wishes come true....

We dined at Wolfgang Puck's Bar & Grill and we had front-row seats at Cirque du Soleil's Ka!

First, the food. Ever since I saw Puck's "Chefography" on Food Network, I've been hooked. His vision and philosophy of cooking truly ignites me, and I just knew his food would be out of this world. Ladies and gentlemen, it did not disappoint in the least! It was hands down, the best food I've ever eaten. So savory, flavors bursting like fireworks in my mouth, unusual, yet delicious flavor pairings....this was edible art my friends! I have never tasted anything like it. I had the pan-seared scallops with capers, almonds, raisins, parsley, and a cream sauce. And I could've cared less that I was snapping pictures of our food....why the heck not?!

Brent ordered the salmon filet which was equally superb. We had to go out with a bang, eating at one of Puck's restaurants and all, so we opted for two separate desserts! Heaven!!! I ordered the chocolate souffle with vanilla gelato and cream sauce, while Brent had the brownie bar (much more gourmet than it sounds).
After spending much too much on dinner, but let's face it, it was worth every single penny, we walked across to Ka. The lobby itself was magical, resembling the hull of a ship, and the staff wore medieval/vagabond-looking costumes.

As we entered the theatre, huge balls of fire would explode from the stage area, instantly warming our faces. All around the stage area was scaffolding, which performers did acrobatic flips and soared overhead before the real show began.

For the first time in a very long time, I felt like a child. It's an exhilarating feeling to be in awe and wonderment...truly not an everyday feeling in the life of an adult! I cannot do justice in attempting to describe what we saw, but in summary, it's as if I were in a living dream. Our front-row seats paid off big time since we were only feet away from characters, watching their facial expressions up close and their choreographed movements. I had a blast, and didn't want the show to end. I have a new goal now, to see as many Cirque shows as I can!

Day 4: Brent and I rented a car and drove out to Boulder City where the Hoover Dam is. We decided to take the insiders' tour and it was very cool! Amazing to see what vision the architects and engineers had in building the dam. Lake Mead, the largest U.S. man made lake was also gorgeous and right by the dam. After several hours there, we headed west of Vegas to see Red Rock Canyon. Even though the desert has a stark beauty about it, it has such depth of texture and color.

Day 5: A journey back to reality...we made our way home leaving sunny low-70s to meet frosty high-20s! Quite the shock to the system.
We had a fabulous time, and if you'd like to hear more about a specific attraction, feel free to leave a comment!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Blessings to you on Thanksgiving!

May you be reminded of all the good things that God has blessed you with; remembering that even during our bad times, that God is able to and will bring good out of it. He is the ultimate Giver; of life, love, and grace.

No matter what, praise Him for who He is, for He alone is worthy of our praise.

"The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Corinthians 15:56-57

Monday, November 17, 2008

"Cuz I'm leavin' on a jet plane...."

Tomorrow, Brent and I will be jetting off to....

Clue #1

Clue #2:

Clue #3:

Clue #4:

VIVA Las Vegas! We'll be there as part of a business trip, but I will definitely be taking advantage of some fun things there. I cannot tell you how much I'm looking forward to seeing Ka. Better yet, we have front-row seats! Yeah! I have lots written down to go check out, but don't want to post them all here quite yet. I figured pictures of our trip would be better :)

Have a great week...and pray I don't need to use my barf bag on the plane....

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

"Nanakorobiyaoki"....a Japanese proverb

"Fall down seven times, get up eight"
I wish I had some highfalutin parallel from my life to illustrate this proverb, but I don't. No mentions of emotional strife ending in triumphant glory here.

This morning as I was leaving our place, my heels, all 2 inches of them, slipped down some steps outside our condo. I truly think it was a combination of dewy steps, my gifted klutziness, and a pair of shoes that continually plots vengeance against me.

It happened so quickly, I barely knew what had befallen me until I was in pain, sitting upright on my knees with the stone stoop and insulated lunchbag cushioning my fall. I totally figured I had lost a toenail or three since I was wearing sandals in November. But aside from some chipped polish, the toes looked okay. Instead, it was my poor left shin that took the brunt of everything. Saved by my polyester-synthetic blend pants fabric, thankfully my skin was spared a couple of layers. I still couldn't move for a couple of seconds because I had the horrid thought of "what if I broke my tibia?!"

Nah...just a flesh wound. It's a mysterious shade of dusty blue, purple, green, and caucasian. I wanted to cry out "BRENT!" but I refrained from doing so, since I was collapsed on my neighbor's doorstep. Lovely. Can you imagine opening your front door to find some bedraggled girl kneeling in pain with her purse's contents strewn everywhere? Yeah, neither could I.

I knew Brent was right there at our front door because he was leashing Cubbie up for her morning walk. I just waited til I heard his feet on the landing and Cubbie's fluffy face look at me quizzically, "What is she doing down there?"

Brent quickly came down as I began uttering through tears "I fell...." I must have looked like a complete idiot. He picked up my purse and totally crushed lunchbag (and contents) and helped me dust off. I drove off to work wincing from the scrapes.

Thankfully, one of the many perks of working at a doctors' office is unlimited access to first-aid supplies and thoughtful coworkers. Karla offered to bandage me up, and I'm impressed, it truly looks like I survived a fall from a three-story building, and not a fall down two steps. Ice has been my new companion for the day...amazing how something so simple can help so much.

Meanwhile, the fate of the cute, strappy sandals remains unknown....

Friday, November 7, 2008

Chocolate Week: Day 7

Now it's your turn!

Send in your favorite chocolate recipe or link to your blog with one.

Oh, S'mores how I love thee! Let me count the ways...

And before I forget to mention it, November is Godiva's Truffle month! There are a couple of dates listed for free samples.

So yesterday's chocolate cake recipe is a great one to serve for entertaining, but what about the times when you just want a simple piece of chocolate cake? This is definitely the weeknight cake :) I came across it in my Betty Crocker cookbook, simply because I didn't have any eggs, but I wanted a dessert. My husband requests this almost on a weekly basis.

Chocolate Chip Snack Cake

Prep: 10 minutes
Bake: 35 minutes
Cool: 15 minutes
Yield: 9 servings

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup baking cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. white or cider vinegar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup cold water
1/3 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 Tbsp. sugar

1. Heat oven to 350F. Grease bottom and sides of 9-inch round cake pan or 8-inch square pan with shortening, lightly flour.

2. In medium bowl, mix flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. In small bowl, stir oil, vinegar, and vanilla until well mixed. Vigorously stir oil mixture and water into flour mixture about 1 minute or until well blended. Immediately pour into pan. Sprinkle with 1/3 cup miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips and 3 Tbsp. sugar.

3. Bake 30-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 15 minutes. Serve warm or cool with ice cream.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Chocolate Week: Day 6

The Power of Chocolate:

Feeling dark? Dark chocolate has proven health benefits (Thank You, Lord!) Among them, lower blood pressure and antioxidants that fight free radicals in your body. Before you run to your nearest Godiva counter, remember people, moderation!

Is chocolate an aphrodisiac? According to this article, no. But I did have to laugh when I read "The most recent study, published in May in the journal Sexual Medicine, looked specifically at women, who are thought to be more sensitive to the effects of chocolate." Ha! Really? They honestly needed a research study to conclude that?

I mentioned I craved the sinful stuff on a daily basis. But little did I know, it's because of the bacteria in my gut?! And yet another great quote from researchers, "In fact, the study was delayed because it took a year for the researchers to find 11 men who don't eat chocolate." Combining that with the aforementioned research, I'd say it'd take about 10 years to find 11 women who don't eat chocolate.

And with all my heart, I truly, truly pity those who have a genuine chocolate allergy. (P.S.- If you are one, I guess this week of cocoa-goodness on my blog has been disheartening to say the least). But hey, you've still got carob chips. Just in case you didn't know this, dogs should not be fed chocolate, but carob chips are okay.

And this could easily be a myth, but carob pods are believed to have been eaten by John the Baptist while in the wilderness; hence their nickname "St. John's Bread." One more Biblical reference for you, the prodigal son from Luke 15 ate carob pods with the pigs after he had squandered his inheritance.

Enjoy the recipe below, it's carob-free :) Nuthin' but the good stuff!

Milk Chocolate Bar Cake (the crowd pleaser!)

1 (18.25 oz) pkg. Swiss chocolate cake mix (Duncan Hines)
1 (8 oz) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
10 (1.5 oz) Hershey's milk chocolate candy bars with almonds, divided
1 (12 oz) whipped topping, thawed

1. Prepare cake batter according to pkg directions. Pour into 3 greased/floured 8-inch round cake pans. Bake at 325F for 20-25 minutes or until wooden pick comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely on wire racks.

2. Beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, and granulated sugar at medium speed with a mixer until creamy.

3. Chop 8 candy bars finely. Fold cream cheese mixture and chopped candy bars into whipped topping.

4. Spread icing between layers and on top/sides of cake. Chop remaining 2 candy bars. Sprinkle half of chopped candy bars over cake. Press remaining chopped candy along bottom edge of cake.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Chocolate Week: Day 5

How is chocolate made? Here are two different methods; handmade versus factorymade.

This video shows how chocolate from scratch is made. He makes it look so easy too!

This one shows how molded chocolate is made in a traditional factory. I especially enjoyed watching the "whacking" tool :)

Chocolate Crinkles

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Start to Finish: 3 hr. 45 min.

Yield: about 3 dozen

1 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp. butter or margarine, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
2 oz unsweetened baking chocolate, melted and cooled
2 eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup powdered sugar

1. In large bowl, mix sugar, butter, vanilla, and chocolate with spoon. Stir in eggs, 1 at a time. Stir in flour, baking powder and salt. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours.

2. Heat oven to 350F. Grease cookie sheet with shortening or spray with cooking spray. Drop dough by teaspoonfuls into powdered sugar; roll around to coat. Shape into balls. On cookie sheet, place balls about 2 inches apart.

3. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until almost no indentation remains when touched. Immediately remove from cookie sheet to wire rack; cool.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Chocolate Week: Day 4

What's in a name?

Oreo: The people at Nabisco aren't quite sure. Some believe that the cookie's name was taken from the French word for gold, "or" (the main color on early Oreo packages). Others claim the name stemmed from the shape of a hill-shaped test version; thus naming the cookie in Greek for mountain, "oreo." Still others believe the name is a combination of taking the "re" from "cream" and placing it between the two "o"s in "chocolate" - making "o-re-o." And still others believe that the cookie was named Oreo because it was short and easy to pronounce.

No matter how it got named, over 362 billion Oreo cookies have been sold since it was first introduced in 1912, making it the best selling cookie of the 20th century.

M&Ms: One of the Ms comes from Forrest Mars Sr., while the other M comes from Bruce Murrie, son of long-term Hershey president William F. R. Murrie. Conflict of interest?? Not so much. When M&Ms were first produced, Hershey's chocolate was used as the M&M core. And these yummy candies were introduced to WWII GIs first.

Kit Kat: No one really knows for sure, but the name apparently came from the Kit Cat Club. This club was an 18th century English club with strong political and literary associations, committed to the furtherance of Whig objectives. And creepy/cool thing to note, they aren't just "bars" of a Kit Kat, they're called "fingers!"

Oreo and Fudge Ice Cream Cake (Very easy to make, and everyone loved it!)

1/2 cup hot fudge ice cream topping, warmed
1 tub (8 oz.) Whipped Topping, thawed, divided
1 pkg. (4-serving size) Chocolate Instant Pudding
8 OREO Cookies, chopped (about 1 cup)
12 vanilla ice cream sandwiches, unwrapped

1. Pour fudge topping into medium bowl. Add 1 cup of the whipped topping; stir with wire whisk until well blended. Add dry pudding mix; stir 2 min. or until well blended. Gently stir in chopped cookies; set aside.
2. Arrange 4 of the ice cream sandwiches, side-by-side, on 24-inch-long piece of foil; top with half of the whipped topping mixture. Repeat layers. Top with remaining 4 ice cream sandwiches. Frost top and sides of dessert with remaining whipped topping. Bring up foil sides. Double fold top and ends to loosely seal packet.
3. Freeze at least 4 hours before serving. Store leftover dessert in freezer.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Watch out Apollo Ohno, here I come!

Check out these fun floor dusting shoes I bought! I came across these at Bed Bath & Beyond the other night and they are so much fun to sliiiiiiiiiide and skiiiiiiiiiiid my way acrooooooooossss the rooooooooooom!!! Wheeeeeeeeeeee!

*Note: Per the Slipper Genie's instructions, ahem, "User should not slide or run in slippers."


Chocolate Week: Day 3

That chocolate looks good on you....

More chocolate favorite, chocolate SHOES!!!!

Chocolate Cake-in-a-Mug

1 - coffee mug (microwave-safe)
4 T. - cake flour (plain, not self-rising)
4 T. - sugar
2 T. - cocoa
1 - egg
3 T. - milk
3 T. - oil
1 - splash of vanilla
3 T. - chocolate chips (Optional)

1. Add dry ingredients to the mug; mix well with a fork. Add egg and mix thoroughly. Pour in milk, oil, and vanilla, and mix well. Add chips, if using.

2. Put mug in the microwave, and cook for three minutes at 1,000 watts. Cake will rise over the top of the mug -- do not be alarmed. When finished, carefully remove mug from microwave and allow to cool a little. Tip onto a small plate prior to serving, if desired. Yields one generous serving or two "more virtuous" servings.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Chocolate Week: Day 2

"Man cannot live on chocolate alone; but woman sure can."

"This guy found a bottle on the ocean, and he opened it and out popped a genie, and he gave him three wishes. The guy wished for a million dollars, and poof! there was a million dollars. Then he wished for a convertible, and poof! there was a convertible. And then, he wished he could be irresistible to all women... poof! he turned into a box of chocolates."

"Strength is the capacity to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands - and then eat just one of the pieces." Judith Viorst

The following recipe is one of the easiest and tastiest fudge versions that I've found on I was intimidated to try making fudge, but it's actually quite simple! If you've never tried it before, go ahead, be brave!

Aunt Teen's Creamy Chocolate Fudge

1 (7 ounce) jar marshmallow creme
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1/4 cup butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk chocolate chips
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Line an 8x8 inch pan with aluminum foil. Set aside.
2. In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine marshmallow cream, sugar, evaporated milk, butter and salt. Bring to a full boil, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
3. Remove from heat and pour in semisweet chocolate chips and milk chocolate chips. Stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Stir in nuts and vanilla. Pour into prepared pan. Chill in refrigerator for 2 hours, or until firm.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Chocolate Week: Day 1

I promised you recipes and tidbits during this week, so it's quite fitting to see where chocolate began...

"The tasty secret of the cacao (kah KOW) tree was discovered 2,000 years ago in the tropical rainforests of the Americas. The pods of this tree contain seeds that can be processed into chocolate. The story of how chocolate grew from a local Mesoamerican beverage into a global sweet encompasses many cultures and continents.The first people known to have made chocolate were the ancient cultures of Mexico and Central America. These people, including the Maya and Aztec, mixed ground cacao seeds with various seasonings to make a spicy, frothy drink.Later, the Spanish conquistadors brought the seeds back home to Spain, where new recipes were created. Eventually, and the drink’s popularity spread throughout Europe. Since then, new technologies and innovations have changed the texture and taste of chocolate, but it still remains one of the world’s favorite flavors."

Chex Muddy Buddies aka White Trash aka Puppy Chow:

Prep Time:15 min
Start to Finish:15 min
Makes:18 servings (1/2 cup each)

9 cups Corn Chex®, Rice Chex®, Wheat Chex® or Chocolate Chex® cereal (or combination)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Peanut butter and chocolate are a favorite flavor combo, but peanut butter lovers can substitute peanut butter chips for the chocolate chips to intensify that flavor.

1.Into large bowl, measure cereal; set aside.
2.In 1-quart microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter uncovered on High 1 minute; stir. Microwave about 30 seconds longer or until mixture can be stirred smooth. Stir in vanilla. Pour mixture over cereal, stirring until evenly coated. Pour into 2-gallon resealable food-storage plastic bag.
3.Add powdered sugar. Seal bag; shake until well coated. Spread on waxed paper to cool. Store in airtight container in refrigerator.

High Altitude (3500-6500 ft): No change.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Coming soon to a tummy near you....

Chocoholics rejoice! (And please, wipe your drool off of the monitor....) It will be CHOCOLATE week here before you know it on my blog! A week of yummy choco-decadence to get us primed and plumped for the upcoming Thanksgiving/Christmas season :) And I can say this with authority, but chocolate is one of the few flavors that I crave every day. With a different chocolate recipe every day and a couple of cocoa tidbits scattered along the way, this is some blog reading that your tummy won't want to miss!
Chocolate week begins Saturday, November 1st....

Monday, October 27, 2008

Brown Sugar Meatloaf

No need to drown it in ketchup (cuz it's built in)! Hooray! Seriously, what is not to love about combining sweet & savory flavors? This meatloaf recipe is the only one I make, and people and animals love it. The brown sugar truly makes this, and it has a touch of ginger to boot.

Serves 8, Ready to devour in approximately 1 hour 20 minutes. Save time for the future and make up an extra loaf to freeze.

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup ketchup
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
3/4 cup milk
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 cup finely crushed saltine cracker crumbs or packaged bread crumbs

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 5x9 inch loaf pan.
-Press the brown sugar in the bottom of the prepared loaf pan and spread the ketchup over the sugar.
-In a mixing bowl, mix thoroughly all remaining ingredients and shape into a loaf. Place on top of the ketchup.
-Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour or until juices are clear.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Pro-Life & Politics Post aka The Big One

One of my "Matters of the Heart" on the left pane of my blog tells you I'm pro-life. With the upcoming election in a matter of days, I feel personally compelled to shed light on how pro-life and the Presidential election go hand in hand. This post will mostly be filled with links and videos, and I would request that you take the time to explore them.

I cannot put it any plainer, but human life matters to God.

"Do this so that innocent blood will not be shed in your land, which the LORD your God is giving you as your inheritance, and so that you will not be guilty of bloodshed." (Deuteronomy 19:10)

"Therefore as surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I will give you over to bloodshed and it will pursue you. Since you did not hate bloodshed, bloodshed will pursue you." (Ezekiel 35:6)

"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy." (Proverbs 31:8-9)

And what is being "pro-choice" truly about? Giving the woman the choice to kill. After all, if you're not choosing life,'re choosing death. From 1973-2005, more than 45,000,000 legal abortions were performed in the U.S. alone. "It is thoroughly inconsistent for anyone who supports abortion to be unwilling to face the reality of what abortion does." WARNING: Very graphic photos...These are real and untouched photos of the results of abortion.

Anything and everything related to questions you might have regarding the abortion debate.

What is Planned Parenthood? (Honestly, before I was knowledgable about the abortion issue, I only thought it was a place to receive birth control).

Abortion clinics prey off of the disenfranchised, destitute, and minorities. It's a big business to say the least. Want to hear an actual recording of a phonecall to Planned Parenthood?

Why should abortion be a major factor in deciding about whom to vote for? What about ending the war? Getting us out of this economic crisis? John Piper explains why it's okay to be a one-issue voter.

Randy Alcorn explores Obama's pro-abortion stance and includes clips from Rick Warren's debate at Saddleback Church.

Voting matters too. We're instructed to do everything for the Glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). And we will be giving an account before the Lord one day, as to everything we've done (Romans 14:11-12).

Here's a clip of NARAL (Pro-Choice America gleefully endorsing Barack Obama below.

So what about the other side of the coin? Those moms who choose to have the baby even when it's not convenient or wanted? Desiring God writes a piece that I have referenced mentally time and time again about how the baby saves the mom. Just this past Tuesday at the Salvation Army, as I was chatting with a young teen celebrating her son's 3rd birthday, she mentioned how he had changed her life for the good. By the grace of God, this baby got her off the streets, and she's pursuing getting her GED and enrolling in beauty school.

Let me make it very clear, if we who are pro-life want to talk the talk, we must also walk the walk and help women at pregnancy crisis centers. They're making a huge decision, and they desperately need encouraging support and financial help. Let us not forget the couples who choose to keep their baby despite a diagnosis of Down's Syndrome or a terminal disease like Trisomy 18. One of my very favorite video diaries is about a very special baby with Trisomy 18.

All children have the right to life. Aren't you glad your mother chose life??

Friday, October 17, 2008

Thoughts on the current election Q&A

Just a side note into politics here:

Q.Who the heck am I supposed to vote for?

A. For various reasons, you may not feel gung-ho about either major party candidate. Understandable. There are things I like about both Obama and McCain, as well as dislike. But what do I do if I'm in a quandary about whom to vote for? And what about the "lesser of two evils" approach?

Here's a snippet from LadiesAgainstFeminism, "I would really encourage you to go back and read the sad history of compromise coming from voting for the "lesser of two evils." Instead of standing against evil, Christians are capitulating to it as long as it is "slower" evil. This does not work. God has clear commands for us in Scripture that deal with the qualifications for civil rulers. He also assures us that He is the one Who puts rulers in power, including wicked rulers as judgment when His people disobey Him. We cannot "do evil that good may come" (Romans 3:8)."

Q. Okay, so now what. Is anyone else running for President?

A. Oh good grief, I had no idea...there are dozens more?! I'm leaning towards Mickey Mouse; again.

No, seriously, my wonderful, albeit persuasive husband introduced me to Chuck Baldwin. Read about him, you may like him, or you may not.

Q. Will I be throwing my vote away if it's not for the major party candidates?

A. Just what exactly is a wasted vote? "A wasted vote is a vote for someone you know does not represent your own beliefs and principles. A wasted vote is a vote for someone you know will not lead the country in the way it should go." (written by Baldwin himself)

This article helped appease this line of reasoning for myself. Worth the read...


A. And now for some great election humor....Maybe it's your civic duty NOT to vote! Watch the hilarious, frightening clip from John Stossel on 20/20.

Or perhaps you should know whom you're voting for? I mean, weren't you aware that Obama's running mate is Sarah Palin???

Thursday, October 16, 2008

No one likes to hear truth if it's opposed to what they know.

"You're going to find that there will be times when people will have no stomach for solid teaching, but will fill up on spiritual junk food—catchy opinions that tickle their fancy. They'll turn their backs on truth and chase mirages. But you—keep your eye on what you're doing; accept the hard times along with the good; keep the Message alive; do a thorough job as God's servant."
2 Timothy 4:3-5 (MSG)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Making a Leap of Faith

As believers, we are challenged to do many things: be holy, forgive, evangelize, give, love. All of these require faith. Sometimes I have strong faith, and other times weak faith. Being the non-confrontational person that I am, I am often gripped with fear despite numerous remindings from God's word that He didn't give me a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and self-discipline (1 Timothy 1:7).

I took God's word seriously today, took a leap of faith, and admonished someone through a lengthy letter. Admonish means to caution, advise, counsel against something. What compelled me to do such an unorthodox thing?

A troubled marriage of a loved one, on the brink of divorce.

The past week God has subtly and overtly given me nudges to do this. The thought of not doing something, scared me enough to actually do something! It all started with this convicting post from Voddie Baucham, and yet another post from Carolyn Mahaney. It then culminated when Brent and I finally went to see Fireproof last night. Everywhere I turned, I kept hearing messages of covenantal marriage. How could I be blind to what God would have me to do?

Believers must speak truth in love. We aren't doing anyone any favors if we watch someone racing towards a cliff without flagging them down with a stern warning...STOP!!! Really, who is the more loving one then? The one nodding quietly in approval or the one speaking up to help save you?

I only pray that this letter will be received in love, because I was firm yet gentle in my writing of it. Please pray that God would mend my loved ones' marriage.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Autumn in Vermont

We had a wonderful time in Vermont, visiting Stowe, Waterbury, and Burlington. It truly made me miss living in the mountains. The brisk air, heavy winter coats, and the smell of hot apple cider wafting in the air. Truly a season to behold!

Taking in the beauty of bright golds, vibrant reds, and garish orange was a visual wake-up call for me. Simply being in the midst of nature did my heart good. Autumn is my favorite season of the year, it's filled with anticipation for me. Rearranging my closet with turtlenecks, sweaters, scarves, and coats. The smell of cinnamon-scented pinecones at the hearth, with a robust pumpkin sitting idly by. Making fresh loaves of pumpkin bread. Having reasons to cuddle up close with someone on hayrides. Bonfires. Toboggan hair. (And I realize a toboggan is a sled too). Watching my dog sense the nip in the air too, and even she walks a little differently ;)

All of this to say, is that now more than ever(!), having just tasted Autumn in Vermont, I am very excited about Autumn rolling into my backyard. Though with temperatures in the mid-high 70s, I think it will be a couple of weeks longer.

To whet your appetite, here are some pictures from our trip:

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Off to Stowe!

Tomorrow, Brent and I will be jetting off to Stowe, Vermont for a few days to enjoy the autumn foliage. While he's busy with some meetings, I'll be taking in the rustic scenery....

On my agenda will be reading some books, knitting a scarf, studying my Bible, and most of all, simply enjoying God's beautiful creation. We hope to bike on the recreation paths and also drive over to Waterbury, VT to visit the Ben&Jerry's factory, Cabot Cheesemakers, and Cold Hollow Cider Mill. Okay, so I'm kinda a foodie, or at least I like to think I am. :) (Unwrapped is one of my favorite shows).

Please pray for safety as we travel, mellow weather, and God's blessings of patience over us!

Psalm 96:12-13, "Let the fields and their crops burst out with joy! Let the trees of the forest rustle with praise before the Lord, for he is coming! He is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with justice, and the nations with his truth."

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Update on 30-day Challenge with Basic Cable

So far, so good! It's amazing that by limiting our channels to all of 15 (I think?) that I really don't care to watch much tv. On the contrary, when we had 75 channels, then down to 30 channels, even when "nothing" was on, I could still manage to find something. And I was probably worse for the wear afterwards.

Now that basic cable has freed up some time, I've been enjoying doing my Bible study, writing letters, chatting with my husband, and doing delayed household chores. And I feel less frantic too.

Speaking of reading, I finished a wonderful, insightful book last week, that I am eager to re-read already and this time, I will underline!

Passionate Housewives Desperate for God by Jennie Chancey and Stacy McDonald is a book I highly recommend. It is worth your time and a very fast read. What this book is not: a how-to guide on getting pesky stains out of your rug, a SuperWoman 101 crash course, or a manual on how to discipline children. This book instead is about how feminism has deeply distorted and tricked capable and intelligent women into believing that careers outside of the home are the best use of their time.
Both authors use Scripture to validate and encourage women to change the world through their home and its occupants. And I should stress that this also covers the issue of attitude in the home. A home cannot be a haven if it isn't filled with grace and humility. A word of warning, I realize that this book may very well likely offend some of its readers. Only a couple of years ago, I would have scoffed at this nonsense and closed the pages smugly. If it doesn't agree with you, or maybe not all of it suits you either, I encourage you to read it with an open mind and willing spirit.
Romans 12:2-3 reminds us, "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you."
Okay, so shut off your tv now and go read this book!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Got Music?

I love music. It helps me engage my soul and it's amazing how it affects my emotions. Below are three very cool free music sites that will suit your mood, craving, and explore your tastes.

Musicovery: Addictive site that will actually play music according to your current mood. You click on the spectrums of energetic and calm, positive and dark. Even better still, you can choose your mood within a specific genre, and even limit it to a certain decade. Not all jazz is mellow, ya know? Not all pop is peppy. And if your feet get the best of you every now and then, visit the dance music section.

Accuradio: Not as intense and personalized as Musicovery, but you can listen to a genre and deselect the artists you don't want to hear....i.e. Ace of Base. I got turned onto Accuradio initially because of its comprehensive Christmas music section with genres of it too :) From Country Christmas to Gospel/R&B, there is everything in between. And it fulfills my occasional need of hearing "Silver and Gold" in September (i.e. today). There's also a Christian Contemporary station that is broadcast via KLove.

Pandora Radio: the place where you get to discover new-to-you artists that sound similar to what you already like. How refreshing...Search artist, song, station, or friends' playlists. You get to create your own station of ear-tingly-happy music.

Hope you enjoy them, and let me know if you have any favorite music places you visit.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A house divided against itself will not stand

Nowadays, there is a lot of political talk going around. People voicing their gifted opinions about certain candidates, and wanting to reform or change our government. While the US is going on and on about the same issues, and the news media is burning up with empty campaign promises, let's step back for a second and learn about something that's happening across the pond in the United Kingdom.

It hasn't gotten that much media attention which I find intriguing given that we just honored the lives lost on 9/11/2001 a couple of days ago.

A little background information:
It is reported that there are over 1.5 million Muslims in Britain; with others suggesting more than 2 million. There is great tension among Brits and what has been deemed 'islamophobia.' The largest Muslim communities are in Greater London, the West Midlands, West Yorkshire, Lancashire and central Scotland. Most belong to the Sunni tradition of Islam, which accounts for 90% of Muslims worldwide. Only a small proportion of British Muslims are Shi'as. Perhaps half came originally from Pakistan, with the Middle East and North Africa accounting for around a quarter. Several hundred thousand originated in Bangladesh, with India also contributing significant numbers.

Numerous articles have been written regarding the tension that has been mounting from within. (Please take the time and quickly review these articles). I include all of this information to provide the foundation and context behind what recently came out yesterday.

Revealed: UK's First Official Sharia Courts

Yes, it is true and it is real. Why is it important? There will now be two parallel legal systems operating in one country. Can you even imagine? The British courts will now have the authority to enforce sharia law. It is worth noting that sharia courts have been in existence (in Britain) since August 2007, but their rulings could not be enforced (given that these tribunal courts had no actual legal authority granted to it by the nation). Times are changing, and Britain has willingly subjugated it's own authority!

As Jesus told the pharisees, "Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand" (Matthew 12:25). I truly sympathize with the British people. Their country is quickly losing its identity and being swallowed up.

It's ironic that hundreds of years ago, America's forefathers left England to have religious freedoms. The Puritans and Pilgrims desired freedom of expression as well. Using their experiences of intolerance and prejudice from England, the founding fathers included the legal and political principle of separation of church and state found in the first ammendment of the U.S. Constitution created way back when in 1787 (later ratified in 1789).

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

What will all of this come to mean to the British people? How will they be affected? Only time will tell...this will definitely be one for the history books.

Monday, September 15, 2008

30-Day Challenge with Basic Cable

A couple of weeks ago, my husband asked what I thought of us downgrading from our Family choice plan to Basic cable. For me, it is not about the quantity of tv I watch, it is the channel itself. Most of the time I watch 1 of 2 channels: Food Network and HGTV. Sadly, these are excluded from Basic cable.

Last night, we reached a compromise. We will try Basic for 1 month and see how well or badly we're off. I might note that the tv battle is nothing new for us.

The happy husband called me at work saying that we officially have Basic cable now. He mentioned something that somewhat makes up for losing Food Network and HGTV, we now have TvLand which we lost from going to the Family plan. Yay for I love Lucy!
I have only one thing to say about that.

"Lucy, I'm hooome!"