Wednesday, March 31, 2010


My husband reminded me today that I hadn't updated my blog since Chrisapalooza (and it should be noted that my niece wishes to no longer read about Chrisapalooza...done...until next year ;-) ), but there is a reason.  Last week I came face to face with a source of great pain for me and I just want to throw this out there...time does NOT heal all wounds.  It does, however, dull the pain.  A little.

And funny enough church service on Sunday seemed to speak directly to my heart.  We had a Pastor from our sister church speak about Jesus and what He went through before He gave his life for our salvation.  Loneliness (Matthew 26:56).  Check.  Betrayal (Matthew 26:69-75).  Check.  Ridicule (Matthew 27:39-44).  Check.  Scapegoat (Isaiah 53:5). Check.  One would think I would come out of church SO depressed.  But no.  I'm holding onto words of Joni Eareckson Tada:

You don't have to be alone in your hurt!  Comfort is yours.  Joy is an option.  And it's all been made possible by your Savior.  He went without comfort so you might have it.  He postponed joy so you might share in it.  He willingly chose isolation so you might never be alone in your hurt and sorrow.

It's been a difficult journey to joy.  But a rewarding one. 

Friday, March 12, 2010

And It Keeps Getting Better...

Well, Chrisapalooza comes to a close today and I cannot tell you how much I have EVER enjoyed HIS birthday week.  OH, it has been a "palooza" in EVERY sense of the word.  Allow me to share...

Sunday, Chrisapalooza was kicked off with drinks and the first of "our" gifts.  Actually, it was a little like Hanukkah as every day offered a new surprise.  The first surprise was mugs for each of us.  Lovely Asian inspired mugs...with holes strategically placed for straws.  We were touched.  Nothing says adult beverage like sipping it out of a porcelain Buddha/panda.

Monday our friends dropped off bottles...carefully hidden in ribbon tied brown paper bags.  BROWN PAPER BAGS.  The hidden meaning became clear.  SIZE DOES MATTER.  And yes, his birthday, HE drank it. (take note of my UNOPENED bottle, awaiting MY birthday...I AM the model of restraint).

Tuesday brought us special gifts.  REQUESTED gifts.  You scratch mine, I'll scratch yours...ahem...

Wednesday, as our friends dropped off our middle daughter from dance, we were given yet another gift with the message:  We can't remember whose is whose.  Uh...right...  HE got the big one...(no, I'll refrain from the standard response)

Thursday, the theme became apparent again.   Still, I'm sure my big toe, on one foot, would appreciate a 2 minute massage.  Or maybe my earlobes?
But,  imagine my surprise at returning from shopping (YES...birthday shopping) to be greeted with, what I initially thought was a sign for a garage sale at the top of our road, off the main county road, which many of our friends travel daily, a blown up Chrisapalooza sign.  And then a second at the corner of our yard.  I haven't yet determined how many of these signs there are about town.
 BTW...yes, that IS me in the bottom left corner.  Always a bride maid...

As I suspected, there was also one placed to maximize the exposure and incite some recognition of the birthday boy when we attend a local Wine Tasting fundraiser tonight.

I'm anxious to see how this all ends.  Regardless, it has been one hell of a ride!

Sunday, March 7, 2010


I'm a snob.  I not only admit it openly, but I embrace it.  Not with many things but with cookies...I AM a snob.  Not only that, but I am HYPER critical of my own abilities if I err.  40 lashes with a wet noodle it not uncommon penance for a cookie mishap of my own making.

I usually try and bake something sweet at least once a week.  If I'm in a rush, I fall back to my standard brownies (Bakers, one bowl...completely from scratch).  They take at most 10 min to throw together and 30 to bake (and I don't have to stand over them).  But even chocolate chip cookies are a fairly frequent visitor to our house (maybe twice/month?).  Today is YOUR lucky day!  I made them this afternoon and am going to share the recipe with you.  You do  need to know that this recipe is not your standard recipe.  I've tweaked it over the years and finally hit on "the one".  These cookies are soft but chewy.  They puff when they emerge from the oven but as they cool they flatten SLIGHTLY.  Imagine Mrs. Fields...only better.

First, let me give you a few small tips.  Sam's Club carries a heavy duty aluminum baking pans...I think they're 10"x15" (jelly roll size) and come 2/pkg for around $11.  I LOVE THESE PANS.  They do not warp.  The clean up very nicely.  I also use them to cook bacon on in the oven (no splattering, perfectly cooked bacon, no turning).  But with baking cookies, the color of the pan DOES make a difference.  A darker  pan (so, a teflon coated pan) will absorb heat and cause the bottom of the cookies to be darker.  Not necessarily burn, but be darker (than I want).  The light color of the aluminum reflects heat and the cookies are perfectly browned, even on the bottom.

Second, cookie dough often takes on different texture in different months and you need to learn what your dough should be and adjust accordingly.  I like the dough to be stiff...but still hold together easily.  I've learned over the years that in the winter, I need to usually add more flour to make this happen.  I usually start with  the measured amount of flour and by tablespoons add more flour IF NEEDED until I get the texture I'm sure will work.  If there is not enough flour, the cookie will be flat.  If too much flour they will be like pellets.

Third, most ovens are unique and you really need to watch your cookies to determine doneness.  Also the size of the cookie will also be a factor so make sure you adjust accordingly.  I'll try and be as specific as I can in my recipe.  IF you know your oven runs hot, set the timer for a minute UNDER the recommended time and watch for when they hit YOUR level of doneness.

Fourth, I have found that using a mixer is NOT a good idea.  It tends to put too much air into the cookies.  Work your arm and shoulder muscles by doing these by hand.  The only exception I would say is that you CAN use a mixer ONLY to cream the butter and sugar. So, are you ready for some COOKIES?????

Chocolate Chip Cookies (adapted from LHJ) preheat oven 375
2 1/2 cup all purpose flour (I have used bread flour as well and use a titch more when using bread flour)
1/2 cup oats (I've used both quick cooking and regular and both work)
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
(occasionally, I'll throw in 1/2 tsp of is very subtle but yummy)

Combine these 4 in a small bowl with a whisk and set aside

1 cup butter (DO NOT SUBSTITUTE...I will NOT be responsible for the outcome when substituting)
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar

Add to butter/sugar:
2 large eggs (I sometimes use extra large which may require a tad more flour)
2 tsp vanilla

Mix well.
Then add..are you ready for this? 1/2-1 tsp fresh lemon juice (yes...lemon juice..DO NOT...NOT use).

Mix well.  
Gradually add flour mixture.  When dough is well mixed, add 1(12 oz) bag chips, 1-2 cups chopped nuts (OK...side bar...I KNOW I KNOW...not everyone likes nuts.  I'm of the opinion that nuts are NECESSARY*.  Choice of nuts (and chips) is at your discretion.  My favorite is milk chocolate chips and macadamia nuts.  But I also like semi sweet with walnuts.  There are LOTS of combinations, use the one YOU like best.  Today, I used a half bag of milk chocolate chips (that's all I had), 1/2 bag of heath pieces and 2 cups of macadamia nuts.  Mix the chips and nuts into the dough well.  I use the medium Pampered Chef scoop (I think it's 1 Tablespoon) and on the UNGREASED alumimum sheets I place them 5 across and 3 down (well, depending on how you're looking at the pan)

I bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 11-12 minutes (again...set timer for 10 minutes and watch for the edges of the cookie to SLIGHTLY turn brown then remove from oven.  Initially the cookies will look like this, puffy in the middle:

Cookies will continue to cook while on the cookie sheet.  When they cool slightly they will "fall" and look like this:
Then you move them to a wire rack to cool completely.  Or maybe, they won't get that far...

Made on Saturday, the 45 cookies produces MIGHT last until Monday.  But that's MY house.

*Necessary...means different things to different people.  Necessary in this case means that NOT using them WILL change the overall character of the cookie.  Because I always use them I would suggest that if you don't use them you need to substitute the unused nuts for more chocolate chips.

Friday, March 5, 2010


March is a busy month for us, birthday wise.  My daughter's 14th birthday is  Sunday but she is having 5 friends over for a sleepover tonight, one which she has planned all on her own (I, of course, foot the bill).  

Next is my husband.  His is the 12th.  Mine is the 15th and what I have learned to refer to after effect.   If I am not planning a child's birthday, I'm being reminded by my husband, a good month in advance, that Chris-a-palooza is looming, almost upon us.  Chris-a-palooza is not just him celebrating his birthday...but him celebrating his birth WEEK.  Yes, Chris-a-palooza is a week long celebration of HIM!

Yesterday, our local (weekly) newspaper came.  I placed it on the table waiting for a few quiet moments when I might scan the paper looking for interesting tid-bits of news from our charming little metropolis when my eyes were drawn to the upper corner of the third page.  I laughed.  And laughed.  And laughed.  You can laugh too!

And laughed.  That picture was taken at our Fall Ball, when my husband, dressed as Braveheart switched wigs with Rachel, who was dressed as Dolly Parton.  The catch 22 of living in a small town...nothing is ever private for long.  THANKFULLY no one had a camera on him when he showed us what he had on under his kilt! (or if they did, they're saving that for another occasion)

This may be the first time in Chris-a-palooza history that I make it through the week chuckling each day as I think of that ad.  I also have to say how blessed we are to have friends who make us feel special.  

I'll let you define "special".