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.