Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Five Years Ago

Five years ago today, I was getting a manicure/pedicure with my matron-of-honor.

Five years ago today, Philip put a million bobby pins in my hair to keep the pretty flowers in place.Five years ago today, we had a wonderful time visiting with family and friends, some we had not seen in many years.

Five years ago today, I was this happy.

Five years ago today, Denis was this relieved that it was all over.

Five years ago today, we took vows to love and cherish each other, in good and bad, sickness and health, a serious covenant we were reminded of this week when we attended the beautiful wedding of our pastor's oldest son.

Five years ago today, we were pronounced husband and wife.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

It's almost Christmas!

Well, it's Christmas Eve. The presents are all bought and (almost) all wrapped and under the tree. The cats are waiting for all the action to begin... I thought I'd put up a bit of Christmas music on the blog to get us all in the mood. These are all from Sufjan Steven's 5 disc set that we own. I love his sound - it's a nice change from the usual stuff. I hope you're having a wonderful Christmas with your loved ones around you.

Two weeks ago, we went to get our trees along with my mom.

Denis didn't have to work and it was so nice to have him along to man the saw. He's much stronger than my mom and I. We were very impressed with how quickly he muscled right through our little trees.

Here we are with our tree.

And here it is all decorated. Joey has not been messing with the tree as much this year. But he seems to really enjoy pine-scented water to drink... And a few ornaments have "fallen" off during the nights.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Mission Accomplished

I didn't get a lot accomplished today, but what I did get done was significant. I finished up my Christmas shopping. I had heard some terrible stories about the traffic around town, so I wasn't looking forward to getting out in it. But this afternoon I finally bit the bullet and navigated the streets. I think that I just happened to plan the right route so that I didn't get stuck in the really bad areas. For one thing, I didn't go to the mall. A friend of mine called me just the other day from the mall parking lot where she had been stuck for 45 minutes trying to get out! Ugh!

I also sent out my Christmas letters via email. I had to find people's emails one by one on Facebook because they don't have a feature for finding them easily. Annoying! You have to go to each friend's profile and click on the info page to find the email address. Oh well, it's done now. :o) I still need to send out by snail mail the letters to friends and relatives who are not regular internet people.

And can I just say that I'm really digging that first song in my playlist? (Arise by Shane and Shane). I found it by browsing some other playlists - I'd never listened to Shane and Shane before. I haven't really figured out all the lyrics to the song, but I really like the sound of it.

Pretty soon I will be able to answer that question, "Are you ready for Christmas?" with a firm "yes!"

Saturday, December 20, 2008


It's been a while since I've given any movie reviews or reports. Here are a few we've watched lately. * ratings are out of a possible ***** (five stars)

The Bridge **** - a documentary about people who kill themselves by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. There were 24 suicides in the year 2004... Who knew? Not an uplifting film, but an interesting look at what drives people toward taking their own lives.

Sweet Land *** - We just watched this one the other night. I was looking forward to it because Kristina said she really enjoyed it. This is a story about a mail order bride who comes to Minnesota during WW2 and how difficult it is for her to be accepted because she's German. The first few scenes were confusing and I thought that it could have been improved on to eliminate the confusion. The story itself was nice, though.

Darwin's Nightmare ** - a documentary about the massive export of a non-native fish species that is devastating the habitat of Lake Victoria, while the local Tanzanians suffer from a famine. We have friends who were missionaries in Tanzania, so the topic was very interesting to me. However, the filmmaker seemed to have his own agenda and he took his time making the point. The movie just dragged on with the same topics being covered over and over. So I ended up turning it off without finishing it.

The Devil's Playground **** - this was a fascinating and disturbing documentary about the teen years in Amish communities. Apparently, the doctrine of the Amish religion says that church membership and baptism cannot happen until you are an adult. In the teen years, you are allowed to experience "the world" and decide whether or not to get baptized and join the church. In some Amish communities, the teen years seem to be a huge distorted experience of "the world" that is just drunken parties, drugs, etc. The doco follows about 6 teens as they decide whether they are going to join the church or not. After watching the film, I did some searching on wikipedia and found that this is certainly not a universal experience in the Amish church. Some communities do not give their teens such free reign. But the movie seems to be an accurate portrayal of some Amish communities. It made me really sad to see that, at least these Amish groups do not have a true understanding of sin and grace...

Who Killed the Electric Car **** - another documentary... This one about an electric car that was produced by GM in the 70's in response to a mandate by the state of California that a certain percentage of cars on the road be electric by a certain deadline. As the deadline was approaching, three auto makers worked on producing the electric cars as they simultaneously fought the mandate. When they finally won and the mandate was removed, they removed every last electric car from the roads. Again, a disturbing look at the auto industry.

Letters from Iwo Jima **** - We'd been looking forward to this one for some time. It was very well-done. Interesting to see WW2 from the Japanese perspective.

The Railway Children **** - placed on our Netflix list because Ruth is so fond of the book. This was a nice story about a family having to give up their privileged life, but keeping faith in each other and God's care of them.

Wah-Wah *** - kind of a quirky story, a period peice set in Swaziland in Africa. An alcoholic father, divorce, remarriage, a child trying to figure it all out. It was interesting.

Stranger Than Fiction **** - This one was really well-done and interesting. Emma Thompson is writing a novel and Will Ferrell is her main character who figures out that he is at her mercy. Dustin Hoffman is the English professor who counsels Will in what to do about it. Some really funny lines and a clever plot.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The quest for poached egg perfection.

Recently, Ben in Australia (who I did not meet in September because I had not yet made his acquaintance in the blogosphere at the time...) wrote a post about his poached egg conundrum. He's taken a fancy to them, but has not figured out how to achieve a nice consistent result with his cooking method. When I mentioned my egg poacher, he said he would like to see it in action. And so I present "The Quest for Poached Egg Perfection, a Pictorial Demonstration".

Here is the egg poacher. This device was created for the sole purpose of making poached eggs. The cups hold one egg each. The legs hold the eggs out of the water and no precious egg white is lost.

The first step is to lightly oil the egg poacher and place it into a pan with some water.

Notice that the poacher will hold three eggs, which generally compels me to make three poached eggs at a time even though no one person should really consume three eggs at a time. So for the purpose of this demonstration, I restrained myself and left one egg cup vacant.

Next, the lid is place on the pan so that steam will be retained. I generally cook them on medium heat since the food channel shows always cook eggs on medium heat. I'm not sure it makes any difference in this case since water boils at the same temp no matter what the heat is under it...

While the water is coming to a boil, one has time to prepare the toast. Now, don't think me strange, but I have a very specific technique for my poached egg toast. It must be cut into squares before receiving the eggs. I'll explain the reason a bit later in the process.

It is very important to STAY IN THE ROOM where the eggs are poaching. It is very hazardous to leave and PLAY FACEBOOK GAMES while eggs are poaching. It tends to result in the very disappointing overcooked egg. To test for doneness, check the whites with a fork. When the white are fully cooked but the yolk is still runny, they are perfectly cooked.

The extraction of the eggs from the poacher is not explained in the user manual of the egg poacher. I had to learn by trial and error that a knife inserted into one of the slots on the top allows you to suspend the entire device over the toast and then a fork can be used to gently dislodge the eggs. We're almost done.
The whole point of the runny yolk is for it to soak into the toast - ideally, there should be yolk in every bite since it's the best part. This is the reason for precutting the toast. As soon as the eggs are cut, you can mix the whole mess together. Perfection!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Travel plans

So I was chatting with Rachel the other day and she said, "When is your next vacation? It seems like it's about time for you and Denis to have another one." (She thinks we're always gallivanting around... :o)

Well, okay, I'll admit it. Yes, we are planning a couple of more trips for the coming months. We'll go to Bend, OR (in Central Oregon) for a quick weekend anniversary trip. We have some friends in Bend who we'll get to hang out with, probably go snow shoeing one day. Meet their baby for the first time. Other than that, we'll just be hanging out. We got a cute little cottage right in town for about the same amount as it costs to stay in a hotel.

Next, we'll be travelling to Pasadena, CA with some folks from our church to attend a training conference put on by Joni and Friends Ministry. Eight of us are attending from our disability ministry group to learn some more nuts and bolts about getting our church up and rolling with this new focus. Denis and I plan to leave early and take our time driving South. Then, in Pasadena, we'll be sharing two suites with our team - 4 people in each one bedroom suite. It was the most economical arrangement. It will be fun to spend so much time with the team.

Finally, our summer vacation this year is going to be a long road trip out to OH to attend my niece's graduation in June. We'll stop on the way to visit Denis' family, conveniently located right along the driving route. And since we're going to be in OH, it's only a 7 hour drive to ... guess where! ....... Upstate New York! We're going to spend a few days visiting our blogger friends Martha, Priscilla and Rachel. (and the crowd goes wild...) This vacation is in the planning stage. I've planned out our driving route and how many days it will take. We have to map that out on a calendar and figure out what date to leave so we arrive in the locations on days that work for family and friends. What fun!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

New songs

I've added some new songs and rearranged the playlist on my blog. I hope you enjoy the new stuff. I was getting a bit bored with the way it was. Some of the songs that were at the bottom are now nearer to the top. Remember, you can always click on whatever song you want to play and it will go from there through the playlist.

World's Best Peanut Butter Cookies

This recipe was created by a friend of a friend when she was in high school. Andrea had a chronic illness and died suddenly while she was in college. They really are exceptional cookies.

Cream together with electric mixer on medium speed:
1/2 C shortening (I used coconut oil, which is solid at room temp, instead)
1 C creamy peanut butter (I used Adams all natural)
3/4 C sugar (I used Splenda granulated)
1/2 C brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Add 1 egg and 1 Tbsp milk and beat until well-blended.

Combine separately:
1 1/4 C flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Add to wet ingredients and mix all well together. Form rounded balls of dough and place on ungreased baking sheet. Flatten with a fork in a criss-cross pattern. Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes.

New Post

I can't believe that it has been over a month since I last wrote something... I guess I've been suffering from the same blog inspiration drought that a lot of my friends have been. Maybe it's contagious!

Well, it's time for it to end, so here I am typing something... I have had several ideas about things to write over the last month and a half. Hmmm... Let's see now.

Okay, here's one: Bad news - I got another traffic ticket. It happened the day before we left for Australia.
Good news - I can take the online traffic school again to have it removed from my record.
Bad news - I still had to pay a heft fine.
Good news - at least I'm supporting our city's budget in these rough economic times.
Bad news - I felt more annoyed than guilty when I was pulled over this time. It was a rolling stop at a four way stop. No school zone this time, no one's life in danger. I honestly think that he was giving a rookie cop some practice at writing up the ticket since it took him about 10 minutes to write it up.
Good news - I have till Jan 12th to do the online school. I'd better get going on it...