Archive | February, 2010

The Light of God

28 Feb

Sometimes I just need a visible reminder that God is present in my life.  When it is possible, I light candles and just let myself be taken away by the flickering light.  I did this tonight.

Growing up, I would always help my mom lead the Maundy Thursday at our church (this is the service where many Protestant churches read the Passion Narrative where Jesus is put to death on the cross).  We would split the narrative into eight parts; we would start the service off with nine candles lit (eight taper candles and one pillar candle) and after each part of the narrative is read, one taper candle is extinguished.  At the end of the service only one candle remains lit – the pillar candle, the Christ candle.  This is the light that reminds us that even in our darkest hour – even on the cross – God’s light still shines.
Even in our darkest hour – God’s light still shines.

A Human Tragedy

27 Feb

After a long week, Bruce and I did not really have any Friday night plans other than cleaning up around the apartment and watching NCIS reruns.  My friend Beth stopped by to pick up her camera that she had left at an event at school and we ended up reading cooking blogs and deciding to make cake balls.  We had so much fun comparing recipes as things were baking and cooling, tasting as we went along, watching Friends and taking pictures of the whole process.  I fully intended to post the recipe today, complete with pictures, tips and metaphors for life.

But then I woke up and heard about the earthquake in Chile.  I’m watching live reports of Hawaiians bracing for a Tsunami.  I heard some heartbreaking news about a family friend.  I laid in bed and cried until Bruce brought me into our living room to watch TV.  I thought about drying my tears and proceeding with my intended post – but it just didn’t seem right in light of all that has gone on this morning.
This is the tragedy about who we are as humans.  You really never can plan for what is going to happen in life.  We all do our best to prepare for the unexpected, but often times it really does not to any good.  We constantly find ourselves in balance between the fun of friends and late-night baking with the bad news of natural disasters and friends in pain.  We have to find a way to live with this juxtaposition – and, to be quite honest, it just really sucks sometimes.
So today I am praying for all of God’s children all over the world who are looking for and worrying about loved ones, trying to survive amidst the rubble of disaster, preparing for the worst and making difficult decisions.  I invite you to do the same.
I look at this human tragedy as a challenge – and know that my faith in God is the greatest tool I have to keep me strong as I navigate through it all.
Tomorrow I will be back and post my Friday Night Fun.  Because even in the middle of tragedy we all have to find a way to live.  We have to smile, we have to laugh and we have to embrace each moment – because each one is precious.
May God grant us all peace, hope and courage through life.

A Sweet & Spicy Weekend – Spiced Applesauce Bread

26 Feb

I promised on Monday that I would post the recipe I used to review my new loaf pan from CSN stores and I am here to follow through.  This blend of sweets, spices and nuts will be the perfect way to kick off your weekend.  Enjoy!!

Spiced Applesauce Bread
1 1/4 cups applesauce
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
3 tablespoons milk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees 
Lightly grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan
In a large bowl, combine the applesauce, sugar, oil, eggs and milk; beat well
Sift in the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and salt; stir until smooth. 
Fold in the pecans. 
(this is Bruce chopping the pecans in our Tupperware ‘lil Chopper that I got years ago)
Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.
Bake in preheated oven for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean
Let cool

Note: I have no idea what it means to “fold in the pecans” – I just stirred them in, seemed to work out just fine!!
Everybody, have a great weekend!!

Excited Does Not Even Begin To Describe It

26 Feb
Guess … 
… what … 
… came … 
… today?
Now if I could just figure out how to speed up the shutter speed?  I’ve somehow slowed it down.

Taco Seasoning

25 Feb

Alternatively Titled:  Opportunities that arise when you fail to plan your menu and do not have all of your necessary ingredients.

After a busy weekend, Bruce and I did not do a very good job of planning out our menu for the week (maybe it was because I had a certain baby on my mind?) so we have kind of been winging it so far.  Actually, that’s a lie – I was in class on Monday night and ate leftovers and last night we went out to eat before going out to see our friends – so, technically, tonight was the first night we were home to cook.  Anyway, we decided to make chicken tacos because we had just about everything – except for the taco seasoning to put in with the meat.  The thought crossed my mind to just grill the chicken without it, but, really – who wants bland tacos?
Then the thought crossed me that I could probably make my own taco seasoning with the spices on the spice rack that I got for my wedding.  Sarah and I were talking today about how easy it is to make basic things that we normally don’t think twice about buying.  Sarah was reading a food blog that talked about making yogurt and I was telling her about making tortillas with Bruce the other night – both really easy, definitely cheaper than buying them and I love that I know exactly what I am eating.
I did a quick search and came across so many recipes for taco seasoning and tried it out – and it worked!!  Here’s what I did … 
Taco Seasoning 
(adapted from All Recipes)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic power
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon salt
In a small bowl, mix together all ingredients
Store in an airtight container

Baby Bliss

24 Feb

I really thought that I would have nothing to blog about tonight.  I was up until 2 a.m. this morning writing a paper, up at 7 a.m. to go to a meeting to go over said paper and then had class until 2:30.  Nothing overly exciting, but still pretty typical in my life.

But THEN – Bruce and I went to visit some of our friends from church who had a baby two weeks ago and … sigh … I literally sat and held a precious sleeping baby for two and a half hours!!  Seriously – y’all with children – how do you stand it?  They are SO CUTE!!

So anyway, the funny thing about little Max’s birth story is that I was having an e-mail conversation that night with Angel – who had the little one – ten minutes before her water broke about a camera I wanted to buy!!  I literally did a double take when I woke up the next morning and saw the e-mail that said he was born, because I was so confused as to how someone goes from e-mailing about cameras to welcoming a baby into the world in five hours!!  Childbirth really is miraculous.

Anyway (there is a point to this story, I promise) Angel asked me tonight if I had ordered the camera and I told her that I kept chickening out because of how expensive it is.  But she swore up and down it was a worthwhile investment and got me thinking about possibly finally placing the order.  I had been given some money for my birthday and had a positive balance on my Amazon account so I realized that the cost wasn’t nearly as much as the bottom line said it was.  I also found this while I was cleaning out my closets this weekend …

… pennies that I have been collecting since college.  I never really thought pennies were worth much, but it turns out that when you save them for three years, you get something that looks like this …

… $25.50 worth of wrapped pennies!!  Yes – you read that right.  $25.50.  I was shocked.  Before I wrapped them, Bruce and I tried to guess how much money it would add up to.  I said $9, Bruce said $8.50.
In the end – I am glad that we were way off.  All of that money went into the camera fund!!
Okay, so back to the drive home. (I swear this story has a point) I had actually asked Bruce not to buy me anything for my birthday (other than the cake of course!!) because I wanted to put that money into the camera fund.  He respected this request (which is hard for him, he loves giving gifts) and we have also been really good about our resolution to cook more and eat out less.  So I was really left with no more excuses.
So I came home, took a deep breath and clicked, “Proceed with Order.”  It was terrifying and thrilling all at the same time.  In a few short days I will be the proud owner of a Canon EOS Digital Rebel XSi.  And I absolutely cannot wait.
There you have it.  I held a sleeping baby in my arms for 2 1/2 hours and bought a dSLR camera.  Never mind the fact that I am operating on less than five hours of sleep, I would say that makes for pretty much a perfect day.
And you know what?  I am not tired whatsoever. 

CSN Review

22 Feb
Do you remember this post?
If not, let me catch you up.  I was contacted by CSN stores, an e-commerce company based out of Boston, about doing a review of one of their products.  I decided to review the Reston Lloyd PrepCo Bake Porter Loaf Pan with Serving Cover.
Let me start of by saying that I was extremely impressed with the staff over at CSN.  Not only did they give me (and other bloggers) the opportunity to review and giveaway their products, but they were also incredibly accommodating and prompt with everything from helping me find something to review to getting it shipped as quickly as possible.  Ever since I received the loaf pan, I have gotten some great coupons by e-mail ($10-$15 off, 20% off, etc.) so I look forward to ordering form them in the future.
Okay – now onto the fun stuff!!
So how do I like my loaf pan?  I LOVE it!!
Here I am getting it ready to be used.  There are several basic reasons why I think this is a phenomenal product:
1. It has a cover (perfect for storage and traveling for potlucks and coffee hours)
2. The cover has silicone edges, which makes it really easy to get it off and on
3. It is nonstick
4. The cover can be used as a serving dish (and it comes with instructions on how to create both a hot and cold serving dish)
5. It comes with recipes!!
Bruce and I made Spiced Applesauce Bread, which was definitely going to put this loaf pan to the test in the oven.  The bread needs to stay moist, but also needs to be cooked through without burning or drying out.

It was phenomenal.  I took the bread out a few minutes earlier than the recipe called for, but that had more to do with my oven than the pan.
After I cut into it – the inside stayed so moist, I was amazed.
And the best part?

Easy storage!!  No messing with tinfoil or trying to find a container to store it in.  I love the top.
If you are interested in the product, check it out here.  And I would definitely recommend checking out CSN stores for all of their products.  The price is right and the selection is incredible!!
Want the recipe?  I will post it later in the week (trust me, you’re going to want to stick around for it).
Have a great Monday!!
Now for some legal chatter:  I was contacted by CSN to do a review of one of their products and was given this product free of charge.  However – the opinions I expressed in this post were completely my own and not prodded by anyone over at CSN.