Sunday, January 30

Where Did January Go?

Valentine's Day
Wow, I can't believe that Monday is the last day of January already.  Where did the month go?  It seems as though I blinked and now we're approaching the new month.  I remember my dad saying that as you get older, the years go by much faster.  At this rate, by this time next year I'll be close to 60 years old!  (I'm nowhere near that right now :) ).
Oh well.  I know I've been busy, but I guess it's nothing to write home about.  I'm looking forward to Valentine's Day.  Last year, I surprised my husband with decorations, a gift, and a huge home-cooked meal served on our good china.  I even made pink, heart-shaped Rice Krispie treats, which looked great but were hard as a rock (I don't know what happened!).  It was really fun, and I was able to do it because 1) the holiday fell on a weekend day, and 2) I wasn't working, so I had plenty of time to plan and prepare.  I don't see this year being nearly so extravagant, unfortunately.  It was fun, though, and he liked it and was very surprised.  This year, I'm not sure what to do yet, but I ordered this t-shirt online (which hubby knows about) and I plan to wear it on said holiday.  I'm sure I'll come up with something!

Okay, Time For Spring
I'm very much looking forward to spring now.  It seems like every other day it's snowing!  Be careful what you wish for, I guess.  I still like snow, and I think that it's beautiful outside, but this year seems overly snowy and harsh.  More than once I've had to take the truck to work while hubby takes the car, because I have to drive through the country to get to work, and drifting snow is a common problem on the highways out there.  There is a pretty significant snowstorm forecasted to his us around mid-week here too, and possibly bring us over a foot of new snow!  If it happens as they are forecasting, it will be a slow drive to work, if I make it at all.  Is it wrong that I wish we could retire young, travel around and enjoy life, instead of the daily grind of the rat race?  I would like to be on some private island out in the Caribbean right now...I've never been there, but I'm sure it's nice this time of year.

I Need To Vent
I was listening to the radio one morning last week as I got ready for the day, as I always do.  I usually listen to the local conservative talk station here, and one of the topics this morning was a show on MTV that, while not a reality show, portrays teens that do nothing but have sex and do drugs.  Apparently, many conservative/family organizations have rallied and managed to get the paid advertisers to pull their support from this show.  I say good for them!  I am absolutely appalled at the television shows and movies that exist anymore.  I can't say that television and movies were pristine when I was young, and I admit that I watched shows that I was too young to understand.  I greatly expanded my vocabulary through the television shows and movies I was allowed to watch, including "Cheers", "The Golden Girls", "Back to the Future", and so on, and I tried to impress my parents a few times by repeating four-letter words that I heard on said shows but knew not the meanings.  While shocked that I would pick up the language, they also found it funny.  Oh well.  I probably sound like a prudish old woman, but when I watch old movies on TCM or AMC and compare them to the movies of today, I am terribly discouraged.  Even the Disney Channel is no longer a safe alternative, especially after ABC took over several years ago.  Not a single show on there is actually family-friendly!  No teen has any respect for their parents and they treat their peers with utter hatred.  Most shows on any given network has strong, independent female leads and sad, emasculated male leads.  (There is a book out right now titled "In Fifty Years We'll All Be Chicks...", and while I haven't and won't ever read it, I believe it's true).  One show out there is all about the supposed life of the average American teenager, and apparently all that American teenagers do anymore is sleep around and get pregnant in high school.  While I know that this is a serious problem among teens, I can't for the life of me understand why anyone would make a television series about teen pregnancy that makes it look like a good predicament to be in!  It's unbelievable that in our society, these things are not only accepted, but are accepted as the norm today.  Anyone who disagrees with it is considered intolerant and are ridiculed and mocked  for seeing these themes as wrong.  Where have the morals gone in our society??  What are we teaching children?  Wow.  Sadly, it will only ever get worse, and for that reason, I have to say that I would have no problem at all with completely getting rid of cable and only seeing very few movies.  Hollywood is the worst influence of all on our families and children, and yet we happily allow them to entertain us for hours each day, every day of the week.  I can't help but believe that our ancestors would be very disappointed in us and what we have allowed our lives and families to become.  If you have children in this day and age, you have a very difficult job of raising them.  Most of you already know this.  It will be an uphill fight all the way to make sure that they know and understand the morals and standards to which you, as Christians, must hold them.  I do not envy you, but I do pray for you.

Well there.  That concludes this week's episode of "My Soapbox".  Thank you.

At the church we attend, we have just finished a three-part sermon on the sanctity of marriage, based on the teachings in Matthew 7:24-27.  I won't go into specifics here, but basically this passage says that marriage should be built on faith in Christ (the rock) instead of the standards of the world (sand).  (These are great sermons available online, and if you want to hear them, send me a message and I'll send you the link.) This is just as applicable to children, and what they are learning from the world today.  We, as adults, are responsible for everything that we teach them, whether we have children or not.  They learn from what they see and hear.  Proverbs 22:6 says, "Train up a child in the way he should go, even he is old, he will not depart from it".  Build your marriage on the Rock of Salvation, not the sand of the world, and your children will learn this as correct.  Teach them to respect and listen to you, because God commands it (Eph. 6:1-3).  It is important because with this knowledge, they will hopefully be able to face a destructive world of sin armed with the power of God's Holy Word, and withstand the temptations to follow the easy, but deadly, paths that will certainly and inevitably be set before them by the enemy.

Friday, January 21

The Most Incredible Confection Ever...You've Been Warned!

With the temperatures as cold as they are outside right now, I am busy indoors on my day off, cleaning and baking.  Earlier this week, I heard a recipe for a Milky Way Cake on a morning radio talk show that I always listen to.  They mentioned the ingredients but didn't go into detail regarding how to make it, so later on I did a little research and found the recipe that they had talked about: Charlie Manuel's Milky Way Cake!  (For those of you who don't follow baseball teams, and that includes me, he is a player for the Phillies.)  It is published in a cookbook that they released last year to raise money for charities called "From Our Home to Yours: A Collection of Phillies Recipes", so obviously I can't take any credit for this recipe, but I am sharing it on my recipe blog for any of you who would like to try it (while at the same time making your house smell like Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory--the old one, not the new one).  I'm also adding it to the bottom of this post.

This is what dreams are made of.

I started by melting the candy bars and butter together in the microwave, which probably took a minute to a minute and a half.  (I must stop at this point and say that I've never had a Milky Way candy bar to my recollection.  It looks like a Snickers without the nuts.  I am sad to say that I didn't really develop a taste for Snickers until a few years ago, and I am going to have to make up for that in the years to come.  That being said, I believe that I will like Milky Way candy bars.)  While those were melting, I began beating the cake mix together.  May I just say that melting candy bars and butter together smells awesome? An interesting thought: I think that if you wanted, you could melt the butter completely and melt the candy bars most of the way, and leave small chunks to find in the cake after it's baked.  Okay.  After the cake mix was ready, I added the melted mixture and vigorously folded it into the batter.  It took a few minutes before it was completely incorporated, but it is worth it.  I poured it into the bundt pan (its first use ever) and put it in the oven.  (A tip for those not used to baking: be sure to beat the cake mix according to the directions, timing each level.  For instance, if it says "beat on low for 30 seconds", do exactly that.  Your cakes will come out with just the right amount of air and make them light and fluffy.)

My house smells like heaven right now.

I haven't done much baking since I started working again, but that will all have to change with the discovery of this recipe.  My next blog:  How To Lose Unwanted Candy Bar Cake Pounds.

The cake baked for at least ten or fifteen minutes longer than the package directed.  Different ovens will bake at different temps, but be aware that with the addition of extra ingredients comes extra baking time.  But it is out of the oven now, and it is teasing me as it cools by sending tantalizing aromas throughout the house from the general kitchen area. 

I couldn't wait until it cooled completely to take it out of the bundt pan.  Make sure you let it cool completely before removing it from the bundt pan.  It didn't come out clean, but it tastes delicious!  I mean, come on--candy bars in cake form??  How can it not be good?  Now, it's great plain, but if you need the extra oomph, try sprinkling powdered sugar over top, or frost it with chocolate frosting (my favorite recipe follows at the bottom).

Well, there you go.  This is an awesome cake, best to make when there are a lot of people to eat it with you.  I'm not even going to share calorie details, so don't ask.  Just know, the more calories, the better it tastes!

Charlie Manuel Milky Way Cake

Wow.  Very good.  Does not keep well though, so you should just eat it right away.

1 box yellow cake mix
1 stick unsalted butter
6 regular-sized Milky Way bars, cut into 1" squares
Preheat oven according to package directions for bundt cake pan.
Using a microwave, melt the butter and candy bars together, stirring occasionally.  Mix well.
Prepare cake mix according to the package directions, then stir in Milky Way mixture.
Bake as directed on cake mix package.

(Note: I had to add an extra ten minutes or so to the package bake times)

Hershey's Perfectly Chocolatey Chocolate Frosting
1 stick (1/2 C) unsalted butter (I don’t recommend using margarine)
2/3 C Hershey cocoa
3 C powdered sugar
1/3 C milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Melt butter.  Stir in cocoa.  Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating on medium speed to desired spreading consistency.  Add more milk, if needed.  Stir in vanilla.  Makes about two cups frosting.

Saturday, January 15

Snow days!

Been a while again since I've been on here.  I can't believe that January is half-over already!  I always thought that January was the slowest month of the year, but it's moving fast.  Before I know it, the Superbowl will be upon us, and I will be enjoying the antics of the Puppy Bowl :).  I can't help it; I enjoy watching the Superbowl for the commercials, as my husband will attest, but I get bored with the game.  Not to mention that the half-time shows have been incredibly bad ever since the Janet Jackson incident, what has it been now, seven or eight years ago?  Seems like they only want bands who have had recent hip-replacement surgeries that will ensure no "wardrobe malfunctions".  But, it is still fun to "watch" with hubby and we usually have some fun foods to go along with the game.  Too bad the Colts won't be playing this year!

Christmas Is Officially Over
Well, we finally went to see my in-laws for Christmas.  We were also there to help my husband's brother move into his new house, and we got to spend time with all of the nieces and nephews.  We had a good time, but unfortunately, it led to me catching the stomach flu bug from them, and I spent the first half of this past week in the bathroom.  Thankfully, though, my husband hasn't caught it, and his parents and brother and sister never caught it, which makes me think that they had it sometime in the past and don't have to worry about catching it again.  Nevertheless, I've been sanitizing everything I can think of in my house, just in case I'm wrong.  Seems like everyone I know has either had it or knows someone (besides me) who has this year, so it must be very contagious.  Just a warning: wash your hands and use lots of hand sanitizer!!

Some Sad News
I have some sad news to share: my sister informed me last weekend that her dog has lung cancer.  She had it before they adopted her.  She loves her dog, and I have had a photo or two and mention of Ninja the dog on here back when my sister and brother-in-law first adopted her (see November 1).  I would like to ask that you might keep them in your prayers, because this will be hard for them.  They can't afford to, nor do they think it would be right, to pump the dog full of medicines to prolong her life, so they will eventually need to put her to sleep.  It's too bad, because she is the sweetest dog I've met in a long time.  They don't know how long they will have, so just keep them in your prayers occasionally.  I would be grateful.

Serious Case of the Winter Blahs
I think it's true.  I have the mid-winter blahs now.  I'm itching to go on vacation somewhere, but it's not an option!  I usually start to get cabin fever about this time of year, since there is not really anything to look forward to for the rest of the season.  We seem to be getting a lot of snow right now, and the temps are forecasted to be bitter cold by the end of next week, which makes me want to stay home and sleep all day.  Don't get me wrong--I like winter.  But I think that I would be fine with snow in December and January, and then it can be spring from February through June :).  It's really almost time to start thinking ahead to my garden for this summer.  I need to figure out what I'll grow this year, at least...probably more green beans, onions, tomatoes, my row of asparagus, and lettuce.  It's so great to have fresh produce right in your back yard!  Perhaps in another year we can think about adding more garden beds. 

Prayer is an important part of any Christian life.  Without it, we are not doing much in the way of communicating with God, nor are we helping our relationship with Him grow!  He wants us to talk to Him, even though He already knows what we want, need, think, say, etc.  Luke 18:1-10 is the parable of prayer: "Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: "In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, 'Grant me justice against my adversary.' "For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, 'Even though I don't fear God or care what people think, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won't eventually come and attack me!' " And the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?"  Pray without ceasing, because God hears His children, and He loves us in the way only a parent can love a child.  He will always be there for us!

Monday, January 3

Happy New Year!

Come and Gone
Hello everyone!  I hope that you all had a great and relaxing holiday!

The holidays are over for another year.  I can't believe how fast it seemed to go by!  The decorations are put away, the tree has been taken down and is now awaiting its final trip to the tree recycling drop-off center, and I'm pining (no pun intended) for next Christmas already.  Is that wrong?  I look forward to Christmas all year long, and now I think I've crashed and am now a little bit blue.  January always seems so dull, since the only holiday is New Year's Day, which is at the very beginning of the month.  There's nothing to look forward to now until Valentine's Day!  I was given the Monday and Tuesday after Christmas off though, and I was very grateful for the extra days I was given off for the Christmas holiday.  (I didn't ask for them off!)  It made the trip to see my family in Michigan seem much less rushed.  We were even able to meet with some friends, who were also up in the same area, before we left.  It was nice, because we haven't seen them in quite a while.  How funny that we have to meet up in a state in which none of us live!  We do still have to have Christmas with my in-laws yet.  That will likely be coming up in the next few weekends.  Regardless, I am looking forward to a quiet rest of the winter, in which time perhaps I will be able to accomplish a few projects of my own, finally!

Auld Lang Syne/New Year's Resolutions?
We spent a quiet New Year's Eve here.  Hubby and I stayed at home and did absolutely nothing all day on Saturday, and it was great!  I do believe that I put my pajamas back on after I took a shower; I was that motivated.  It was nice!  We made a few foods that we don't normally make, to celebrate, and we watched the ball drop with Dick Clark.  Some far-away people shot off fireworks, so we enjoyed the brief display before heading to bed for the night.  All around, a well-needed weekend without something to do, and I feel much refreshed now.  We should have a quiet (and hopefully uneventful) beginning of a new year ahead of us.  So, how many people have made resolutions?  I don't do New Year's resolutions, generally.  I'm sure that there have been times when I have made them; however, they must not have been seen through, otherwise I think I would have remembered!  It's too easy for me to make promises to myself at the beginning of a new year, and even easier to forget them altogether by February 1.  For this reason, I restrain from making resolutions.  I hope that those who do vow to change something this year have great success, though.  Have a wonderful 2011!

For a great version of "Auld Lang Syne" by Barenaked Ladies, click below...special thanks to my sis for playing this album for me last Christmas!

Download this mp3 from

The current topic of many conversations is the new year, and all that will be new in the coming months. Did you know that it is also a common topic in the Bible?  In the Book of Revelation, God has promised to make all things new (Rev. 21:5, KJV).  He has also promised to make a new Heaven and a new Earth in the coming end times: " Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth.  The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind" (Isa.65:17).  I am looking forward to this new Kingdom!  It will be like nothing we have ever seen before.  Most importantly, though, we will be able to spend eternity in the very presence of the One who created us.  However, without Christ's forgiveness and intercession, that will not be the case for those who don't know Him.  With this start of the new year, if you don't know Jesus Christ, I urge you to consider starting a relationship with Him.  The Bible promises that this world will not last forever, and we certainly know that life is finite, so I encourage you to ask Jesus into your life and heart and make you new!  You will never regret it!