"only You can make every new day seem so new" ~Five Iron Frenzy

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tasty Tuesdays - Cheryl-tinis.

I apologize for not having pictures of my recipe this week - but it's still delicious :O)

My wonderful matron of honor at my wedding came up with this cocktail drink for my bachelorette party.  It is by far my favorite drink. 
Ever!

You will need:
Triple Sec
Vodka
Raspberry-Cranberry juice (we used light - less sugar)
Raspberries
Ice

-Put few ice cubes in your glass. 
-Add one shot of vodka, and one shot of triple sec.  
-Fill the rest of the way with ras/cran juice.
-Garnish with raspberries.

*works best with larger cocktail glasses - smaller ones make a stronger drink*

Making a whole pitcher at a time?
-Fill pitcher about 1/4 full with ice.
- Eyeball vodka and triple sec (remember - you can always add more at the end, if there isn't enough, but you can't take it out).
-Fill the rest of the way with the juice.
-Add a liberal amount of raspberries.

Enjoy!

Much Love to All


dance your way back to zion

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Deathly Hallows

SPOILER ALERT:
If you do not know how Harry Potter ends and wish it to remain a secret until you see the last movie and/or read the books - do not procede.

It's official.  I have finished reading the entire Harry Potter series.  And I must say - I have a new favorite fantasy series ... well, one of my favorites.  It is trumping The Wicked Years, taking third place below Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia.  Don't feel bad for it only getting third place though - nothing will EVER trump my love of JRR Tolkien's Middle Earth, and I've been reading about CS Lewis' Narnia since I was a child.  3rd is actually a very prodigious place for Harry Potter to receive - and 3 is my favorite number...

Anyway ... loved the ending of the story.  My biggest fear was that Harry was going to be killed off at the end - a mutual death for him and Voldemort - and I thought my fears were coming true when Harry found out that he needed to accept his death - and was SO relieved when he survived.

Honestly, from the moment he found out that he needed to die in order for Voldemort to die, until the moment when he was "killed" - I was a mess.  My eyes were so full of tears, I could barely read.  When he was walking through the castle and over the grounds - deciding not to stop and see Hermione, Ron, and Ginny - and when he stopped to tell Neville that Nagini needed to be killed - I thought I was going to have to stop reading for a minute to let myself sob like a child before continuing.

I love that Narcissa Malfoy had that redeeming moment - her love for her son overcoming her devotion to "the Dark Lord." I love that Neville pulled Gryffindor's sword out of the hat ("something only a true Gryffindor could do") - and that he was brave enough, when left to his own devices, to rally everyone together in revolt in the first place.  I love that Mrs. Weasley killed Beatrix in defense of her daughter, screaming "not my daughter, you b****!"  I love that Percy came back to his family.  I love that all those students and former students came back to Hogwarts to help rebel against Voldemort - all of Harry's quidditch teammates, all the Weasleys, and all the characters we knew.  I love that Kreacher was leading the house elves to fight.

True, I hated it when Hermione was being tortured in the Malfoy Manor.  I cried when Dobby died.  I sobbed when Fred died (if you remember from one of my first posts - the Weasley twins were one of my favorite characters).  I sobbed again when Lupin and Tonks died.

On the other hand, I did want to mention something about the characters, since the last time I did, I hadn't even finished the second book.

Harry - he gets frustrating when he's so edgy and angsty, but he makes up for it in the end.
Ron - not my favorite character, but I can relate to him because he doesn't have a whole lot of self-confidence, yet finds it in himself to return to Harry and rescue him and the sword from the pool.
Hermione - One of my favorite characters, I don't know many girls who wouldn't be able to relate to her.
Ginny - probably my favorite character.  I could relate to her most from the beginning, being a youngest child myself.  I love when she received more of a role in the story and her character developed more.  I confess it was mainly for her sake that I wanted Harry to live - they HAD to end up together.
The twins - I love their incontrovertible sense of humor - the fact that Fred was once again mocking Percy right before he died.  I love that their business was a success.
Neville - again, loved that he stepped up and revolted so fearlessly and that he was the one who killed Nagini.
Luna - love her character, she brings a lovely dynamic to the group.
Lupin - loved his character.  That's all, really.
Dumbledore - loved his wisdom and knowledge - loved even more that he wasn't perfect - that he made mistakes just like everyone else.
Severus Snape - after knowing the truth about him, I don't dislike him anymore - but he's still a little frustrating - the way he was always assuming the worst in Harry.
Minerva McGonegall - my favorite professor.
and lastly ... and this time, definitely leastly:
Professor Umbridge - I cannot close without communicating how much I thoroughly despised her character.  Until I read Order of the Phoenix, I didn't think it was possible to hate a fictional character so much.

Anyway, though I am finished with the books, I don't think those are my last thoughts on them, so I probably will do one more post after I've had some time to think them over.

Much Love to All.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Thankful Thursdays - Being an Aunt

Alright, I know I've raved about how much I love my nieces and nephews on here before, but I have to say - they are one of the biggest blessings in my life.

I was lucky enough to become an aunt at age 16.  It is one of my most cherished roles in life.  When I first held Sophia in my arms, I never thought I'd see such a precious, adorable baby again.
I was proved wrong ... 4 times.
I have loved getting to spend time with and spoil my nieces and nephews - and then hand them back to my siblings when they begin screaming :O)

(Sophia)

A few years ago, I began making the habit of calling my eldest two nieces on their birthdays - and let me tell you - it has been one of the best cures for a bad day.  If you're ever having a bad day - I highly recommend calling a small child on the phone - it's always hilarious, and you can't help but smiling :O)

(Gwennie)

I have loved watching Sophia and Gwen grow up and develop such strong personalities - such great senses of humor.  If they're in a good mood, you can't help but be in one too.

(Isaiah)

Several years ago - I was finally blessed with a nephew - my brother's oldest child.  And it was about time! Snuggling my baby nephews and nieces has done a great job of keeping my baby-needs at bay.

(Eleanor)

And though I've been at college, while these two were brought into the world - I've spent many a happy summer day at home babysitting them.  And you know what? My husband makes a spectacular co-babysitter ... though he would always hog the baby snuggling with Ellie, while I chased Isaiah around :P

(Jackson)

And the most recent addition to my every-growing number of nieces/nephews.
I've only been able to hold and snuggle him once - I problem that I will soon have to remedy.

There you have it, I am extremely thankful to be blessed with the most adorable nieces and nephews, hands down.  And I've been blessed with an ample amount of them too :O)
Babysitting them, talking on the phone with them, and playing with them, can always brighten my day.

Who has never failed to brighten your day?

Much Love to All,
Cheryl

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Humorous Harry

Well, it's been a while since I've made an update on my Harry Potter reading adventure, so here it is.

I'm a few chapters or so away from the end of The Half-Blood Prince and I cannot wait to finish this series! I really want to know how it ends...

It has taken me longer to read the book I'm on than it took to read The Goblet of Fire for a couple reasons - 
I could not put down the fifth book! I think it's going to be my favorite with The Prisoner of Azkaban in a close second.
I've realized that I have ample time to finish the books, and I've been making sure that I take time to, you know, clean the apartment and go to work ... dishes and dust were beginning to pile up ...

I am really enjoying book 6 - I just realized, while reading the other day, that JK Rowling uses a lot of humor - and uses it well - in these books.

I've mentioned my other 2 favorite fantasy series before - The Chronicles of Narnia and Lord of the Rings.  Lewis and Tolkien do both use humor - and quite cleverly too.  But Rowling uses it much more frequently.  I have actually caught myself laughing out loud reading these books.

Here's a couple of my favorite humorous parts in the 6th book:

Harry (while talking to Dumbledore about his conversation with the Minister of Magic): "He accused me of being 'Dumbledore's man through and through.'"
Dumbledore: "How very rude of him."

Harry - who recently discovered he had a crush on Ginny - wakes up in the hospital wing after a quidditch accident -
"'Ginny came into visit while you were unconscious,' [Ron] said, after a long pause, and Harry's imagination zoomed into overdrive, rapidly constructing a scene in which Ginny, weeping over his lifeless form, confessed her feelings of deep attraction to him while Ron gave them his blessing..."

Anyway, I am going to get back to reading so I can finish these books, and then watch all the movies before the final one comes out in July! Cannot wait!

Much Love to All,
Cheryl

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tasty Tuesdays - Dad's Iced Tea

Iced tea during the summers at my house growing up was a staple.
We drank it like water.
So much so, that I just assumed that everyone knew how to make a pitcher of iced tea.
Once I left home and entered the real world, however, reality sunk in - not everyone knows how to make a pitcher of good iced tea.

On beautiful warm days like today - treat yourself to this yummy, perfectly sweetened, yet not too sweet, iced tea.

Here's my dad's recipe for perfect iced tea:

1.  Fill a small pot (1 qt.) half full with water.

2.  Add 3 teabags for 2 qts. - or 6 teabags for a gallon - pitcher.
My dad would use Red Rose tea - which makes a really good iced tea.  Today, though, I'm using "Mad Hatter" tea - that I got in Ireland a year ago.  It makes excellent iced tea.

3.  Place pot on burner - slowly bring to a boil over medium heat.

4.  For a gas stove - allow tea to boil for about a few minutes before turning heat off.  For an electric burner - once tea begins boiling, turn heat off - leave pot on the burner.

5.  Allow to sit and continue to brew for about 15 minutes.

6.  Use two table spoons to fish out teabags and drain them.

7.  Pour tea into pitcher.  Add 1/4 c. sugar for 2 qts. - 1/2 c. for gallon.
(Use splenda for a healthier choice - you can always add more sugar if you prefer the southern sweet tea level of sweetness - personally, that's too much for me).

8.  Fill the rest of the pitcher with cold water - stirring as filling.

9.  Chill in fridge - or pour over a glass of ice to serve immediately.

I know those were a lot of steps - but they were all really simple - I'm sure you can manage! 
For extra yuminess - 
If you like lemon tea (which I don't...) - slice up a lemon and toss in the pitcher!
Try flavored teas! (like Celestial Seasons Cranberry Apple Zinger)


dance your way back to zion

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Flowers of the Field

Thankful Thursdays - Flowers

There are so many things in nature that I find absolutely stunning.  One of them is flowers.  I love taking pictures of flowers, I love smelling flowers, and I love getting them from my husband :O)

(Giant's Causeway - Ireland)

You'd think it was enough that God gave us life - that he provided a world that can sustain that life.  But He didn't stop at just giving us the minimum - He made that world absolutely breath-taking.
I am so thankful that we are surrounded by so much beauty.  Look at how those tiny little flowers pop up in the cracks of the rocks - really no detail is too small to be beneath God's notice.


This reminds me of one of my favorite verses - Matthew 6:28-30
"...And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow? They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you - you of little faith? So do not worry saying, 'what shall we eat?' or 'what shall we drink?' or 'what shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them."


As much as I worry - as many hours as I spend wondering where we'll get the money to pay bills, when will I get a teaching job, etc, etc - I forget that these flowers that I love so much were made by God.  He cared enough to clothe the grass and the fields - how much more does he care about me and my needs?  He will provide.

So today, take a deep breath - no matter what you're worrying about, no matter what's going on in your life - God cared enough to give us this beautiful world.  To fill it with tiny flowers, towering trees, and vivid skies.  How much more does he care about your needs?


So thank you, God, for the flowers.  And thank you for reminding me that you've got it all under control.

Much Love to All!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tasty Tuesdays - 5 Cheese Macaroni Chicken Cordon Bleu

So I got talked into doing Tasty Tuesday with my sister in-law.  Didn't I tell you that I buckle under the slightest bit of peer pressure?

I really don't have any of my own original recipes to share, but my husband is an excellent cook and loves experimenting, so until I find my own, I'm going to post his.

This week's recipe (like most of my husband's) isn't the healthiest thing you can it - it contains a lot of butter and cheese, but it is very, very creamy and delicious.

5 Cheese Macaroni - Chicken Cordon Bleu

Ingredients

1 lb. Macaroni pasta
1-2 Chicken breasts (or about 1 lb.)
6 oz. Pre-cooked ham
10 oz. Cheddar cheese, shredded
8 oz. Mozzarella cheese, shredded
8 oz. Velveeta cheese (about 1/2 of the 1 lb. block)
1/2 Container of parmesan/romano cheese 
1 c. Milk
1/2 lb. Butter (1 stick)
Salt
Pepper
Garlic powder

Directions

1.) Boil macaroni until tender, drain and set aside.

2.) Using a sharp knife, butterfly the chicken breast(s), season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

3.) In a large skillet, melt 3-4 tbsp. of butter, cook chicken on medium high until lightly browned and cooked thoroughly.

4.) Cut cooked chicken into bite-sized pieces.

5.) Cut up ham into bite-sized pieces also, and cube Velveeta cheese (about 1/2 inch cubes).

6.) In a large saucepan, combine milk, 4 tbsp. of butter, mozzarella, 8 oz. of the cheddar, and parmesan/romano over medium heat - stirring often - until cheeses are mostly melted and sauce is runny.

7.) In a large mixing bowl, combine/toss macaroni, chicken, ham, and velveeta until blended well.

8.) Preheat oven to 375.

9.) Evenly spread macaroni mixture in a large (9x13), glass baking pan.  Cover with melted cheese sauce, sprinkle the top with remaining 2 oz. of cheddar cheese and more parmesan/romano.

10.) Bake for about 25 minutes or until cheese begins to brown slightly on top.  Remove from oven and season the top with salt and pepper - let stand 3-5 minutes before stirring.

Enjoy!



dance your way back to zion

Monday, May 16, 2011

Harry Potter and the Enticing Goblet of Fire

It finally happened.

On Friday, I got my hands on Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

I'm about 3/4 of the way through this book and I both love and hate it at the same time.

Harry and his friends are now 14 years old - high school aged, for us Americans - and there is a significant difference in this book from its three predecessors. 

Before I read this books, I knew that the author wrote each one according to the typical reading level of Harry's age.  The first three books were all fairly similar, there was a lot of continuity and fairly simple vocabulary.  Very appropriate for readers aged 11-13.  This fourth book however, makes a bigger leap forward.  
-It doesn't follow the same format (which is fine)
-The author throws in some difficult vocabulary
-The story line is becoming more complex.

I love that this book keeps you wanting to read more.  No wonder these books are quick reads - they are so enticing, that you can't put them down! And your speeding through, reading as fast as you can because you cannot wait to see how it ends!  I love that the reading is gradually becoming more and more suspenseful and that the story has more twists.

What don't I like about it? Well, this is difficult.  I really, truly like that the characters are very true to life - Ron and Harry especially - are very, very typical teenage boys.  They have short tempers, they get in fights, and they are clueless - especially when it comes to girls.  Unfortunately, all of this also makes them a little irritating for me - a girl.  It's especially irritating when they take things too lightly - like Harry's dream in the beginning and his scar hurting, or when he took forever to try and figure out the clue from the golden egg.  Yes, I find these teenage boys irritating - but would I have it any other way? Would I have them be polite, easy-tempered, and quick to admit when they're wrong? Definitely not.

On the other hand, I'm liking Hermione more with every book I read.  I've liked her from the beginning, but it was a little difficult for me to relate to her at first.  As much as I love school in general, I'm not nearly the over-enthusiastic, over-achieving student she is.  I'm almost the opposite - I care enough to get decent-good grades, but nothing beyond.  I can't even imagine taking more classes than there are hours in the day.
I'm beginning to relate to her a lot more, though.  Her constant struggles to get Harry and Ron to be friends again, and the way she gets up and walk away from them - rolling her eyes and muttering "boys" when they're being stupid.  She is extremely loyal, extremely smart, and let's just say that I can relate to a teenage girl a lot better than a teenage boy :O)

So without further ado, I am going to stop typing and go finish Goblet of Fire because I just cannot wait to see how this book ends, let alone the whole series!

Much Love to All!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Thankful Thursdays - Mi Madre

I know Mother's Day is now past, but since my mom won't get her gift until the end of this weekend, I was working on it yesterday.
Yes, my Mother's Day gifts are still homemade - though they've come a long way since the construction paper cards and homemade pencil holders proclaiming "#1 Mom" scribbled in crayon that I proudly gave as a 5 year old.

So yesterday I set out to make my mom's gift with a little inspiration ("I Love Lucy") on in the background.

I can honestly say, without a doubt, that I have been blessed with the best parents.  Ever.  Sure, they're not perfect, but if I said they were, you wouldn't believe a word I said from now on.

To help you understand how awesome my mom is, I think it would be best to tell you some of my childhood memories:


I remember breaking a beautiful, expensive, figurine that was perched on a shelf in the living room.  Horrified that I had broken something valuable, I started tearing up.  My mom very calmly came in the room, cleaned up the mess, and told me that it was okay, that I was worth much more to her than a figurine.

When I was in elementary school - around third or fourth grade, I began getting terrible headaches on the bus ride to and from school.  My mom was able to rearrange her schedule at work so that she could drop me off, go to work, and get off in time to pick me up (the elementary school I went to was also out in the country - about a 15 minute drive).

When my brother, sisters, and I got a little older - entering our teenage years, we had received a Nintendo 64 from our uncle for Christmas.  Our mom was the "cool mom" out of our group of friends, because she would play Nintendo with us for hours on end.

One day when I was in middle school, I needed new clothes about halfway through the year (I was going through the inevitable 7th grade growth-spurts).  My mom asked me if I wanted to go with her to pick up my older sister from work - she took a wrong turn on the way, and ended up taking me up to Kalamazoo to go clothes shopping.

She has always tried desperately to keep the peace in our family - making our home feel like a very safe environment.

She gave birth to four kids in five years, and just when we were all beginning to grow up - she started the process all over again with my little sister, Laura.


She has been patient, caring, comforting, and strict all at the same time.

She makes the best apple pie.  Ever.

She is a strong woman of God and has a real heart for worship.

She has made mistakes (don't we all?), but she realizes when she's wrong, and tries hard to make it right.

So I am thankful that I have been blessed with an absolutely amazing mother who has taught me that all life's answers can be found in I Love Lucy, that taking time to pray and worship is essential, and that time spent with family is invaluable.

She has given me her knack for creativity and baking, her desire to always keep the peace, and her love for old shows and movies.

I love you mom!



Who are you thankful for in your life today?

Much Love to All!


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Tale of the Bumblebee ... And Softball

Yesterday we had apartment inspections, so I spent my morning busily cleaning the apartment whilst enjoying the beautiful day by opening our sliding door and letting the breeze air out our apartment.  
Taking a page out of my mother's book, every time I finish cleaning a room, I light a candle in it. So by the time our apartment was completely clean, I was enjoying the smell of a fresh spring breeze as well as honeydew and peach scented candles.

After the inspection, I lounged on the couch - perfectly content as I always am when I have a clean apartment - and began reading some Harry Potter.  There was a honeydew candle lit on the coffee table, and I looked up to see a bumblebee trying desperately to find a hole in our screen door.
You could tell he was just dying to immerse himself in my honeydew candle - he would only find out that it was just a jar of hot wax and a flame before it would be too late.
Now normally, I am quite terrified of bees.  Our screen door is perfectly sealed however, so I wished Mr. Bumblebee good day and told him I was glad to see that it was finally warm enough outside for insects such as himself (obviously, I was in an overly-contented mood - I'm sure I'll eat those words after a few mosquito bites this season).

Shortly afterwards, I had to say good bye to Mr. Bumblebee as Adam and I were leaving.  We were going to a church softball game.

Though it was a bit chilly yesterday evening at the game, I stayed warm enough snuggled under my Lord of the Rings blanket.  I ventured out from under it a few times, however, to get some pictures:
Adam at bat

Jake hitting the ball and running to first

Adam at third - about to run to home.

Jake catching the ball.

The sky was also quite beautiful to watch - here's a picture of it during the beginning of the first game...

...and towards the end of the second game...

That is the end of my tale for now.  Out of the two softball games, I believe both churches won one game (I think ... it shows you how much I pay attention to the score...).

The End.

Much Love to All!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Harry Potter - Quick Overview

Harry Potter checkpoint:  
I have now finished the first 3 books!
WooHoo!

I know everyone was telling me that they were "quick reads," but I'm such a slow reader that I thought it'd take me longer.  Imagine my surprise when I finished off the The Prisoner of Azkaban and I realized that it had only been a week since I began the first book!

Anyway, so far I've noticed a lot of continuity in the first 3 books.  They all follow this rough outline:

1) Harry starts out at his aunt and uncle's, and he does something that make them even more mad at him then they normally are.

2) Harry goes to Hogwarts

3) There's some type of mystery and/or danger afoot that Harry, Ron, and Hermione know a bit more of the truth about than the rest of the students - and of course, they're trying to figure it out and/or solve it.

4) Harry and Ron manage to get into trouble (this can happen any time during this sequence, not necessarily in this place).

5) Draco is being a bully, delighting in making fun of Harry and/or Ron.

6) There's a quidditch match - something drastic usually happens to Harry during these, but not always.

7)  Harry, Ron, and even Hermione break some more rules in an effort to solve the mystery at hand (or in the case of Azkaban, in an effort to help Hagrid or visit Hogsmeade).

8)  Harry, Ron, and Hermione think they have solved the mystery and set out to rid Hogwarts of the danger at hand (or in the case of Azkaban, the "danger" grabs Ron and drags him away - of course Harry and Hermione must follow).

9)  There's an interesting twist(s) that the trio did not expect whilst facing the danger.

10) Harry nearly dies.

11)  Harry wakes up and talks to Dumbledore.

12)  Gryffindor manages to win the house cup.

13) Harry meets uncle Vernon at the train station.

I've also noticed that the culprit behind the mystery is never the one you'd expect (like Snape in Sorcerer's Stone or the cat - as I suspected it was - in Azkaban).  No, the villain usually turns out to be the weak, sniveling one (Prof. Quirrell and the sickly Scabbers/Peter).

Some things I really like about these books - 
The kids act like normal kids - they make mistakes, they get in trouble, they argue, and Harry and Ron - a couple of preteen boys - have problems controlling their anger at times.

The mystery in them - the fact that there's always some type of puzzle to solve or a truth to uncover.  My two favorite fantasy series (Lord of the Rings and Chronicles of Narnia) are excellent reads, but they don't have much mystery in them (ps - not saying that's a downfall of those books, just a difference).

Anyway, that's all for now! It's going to be a few days or so before I get the rest of the books, so that will slow down my reading some :P
And true to my word, I have not eaten any sugar this week ... with one exception ... we went to brunch yesterday for Mother's Day and I had a caramel cinnamon roll - sorry, wasn't going to pass up that opportunity :O)

Much Love to All!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Thankful Thursdays

My new brilliant idea is to do one post a week on something I am thankful for.
This week, in light of starting a new job, I am thankful that I have a job!  Now this is not really my ideal job, or one that I want to keep for the next several years, but I am still thankful for it.

My ideal job would be actually doing something in my field of study - teaching.  But there aren't exactly a bunch of teaching positions popping up all over the state.  In the mean time, I need to be doing something, namely making money, and I am extremely thankful for this job.

I am beginning work work - part time - at Cabela's, and you know what? I could do a lot worse.  Cabela's seems like it's going to be a really fun place to work. 
To begin with, it's an awesome store in and of itself.  To add onto this, all of the employes ("outfitters") are very nice and helpful - and not just to the customers, but to each other also.  The managers also seem to be very helpful and friendly.  Granted, I have only worked there for a few days, so this picture might be slightly glossed over, but out of everyone I talked to, they all said they really enjoyed working there.

So thank God that I not only have a job, but a quite decent one, until I am able to find a position teaching!

Much love to all,
Cheryl

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Harry Potter Challenge ... and pomegranate tea...

As you can quite easily guess, for my weekly literary postings, I have decided to read the Harry Potter series.  I have been wanting to read these books forever.  Why haven't I yet? A couple reasons:

a) when they first came out, I was boycotting the whole series (books and movies) because, quite frankly, I was a rather pretension high school student and I thought they looked stupid and way over-hyped. Then my dad started reading them ... and having a lot of respect for him and his taste in books (it's where my love for them comes from, after all...), I finally decided that they couldn't be all that bad.

b) By that time, however, I had started college and between friends, homework, friends, classes, theater, friends, and theater, I didn't really have much time left for leisurely reading - at least not enough to take on HP.

Then came the decision to start blogging about literature. I really wanted to do HP, but didn't think it would happen since I don't have the books ... both my brother and father have them, but they live a small distance away - it wasn't likely that I'd get a hold of them soon.  Then, last Friday, I was having dinner at my in-laws, when my M.I.L. said that she had read my blog (this post) and had the HP books, if I wanted to borrow them.  Within about 2 minutes, I was holding the first three books in my hands. 
This was my face :D

My friend Kate has challenged me to read the series before the final movie comes out in July.  My response was "Challenge Accepted!"
For most people, this wouldn't be much of a feat, but I am a surprisingly slow reader, so this is a real challenge for me.

*sudden epiphany of brilliance*

I am going to make this interesting!
I need really to lose weight, so ... until I finish the HP series, not one ounce of sugar (with the exception of natural sugars in fruit, etc.) will pass my lips.
If I can finish by the time the last movie premiers, I am making a HUMONGOUS cake and celebrating ...

... If not ...

I will not eat sugar for another four months.

*GASP!*

Game. On.

Anyway, the first few books being quick reads, I did manage to finish the first book already (I've barely put it down).
My thoughts whilst mulling them over a cup of pomegranate tea?
I think I have a new love affair...

Seriously, whoever said these books were evil because they dealt with witchcraft and sorcery and magic, are insane!

Just as in Lord of the Rings/The Silmarillion, there are dark magic/powers ... and good, the same is true about HP.  Magic/Wizardry is neither good nor evil, it is a tool that can be used or misused towards either end.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is about using these powers to overcome evil.  It's the classic story that is been told a hundred times ... in the bible alone ... about good triumphing over evil.  

My favorite characters so far are:
Hermione Granger 
(ps-how do you pronounce her first name? I've never watched the movies, so I don't know)
Dumbledore
The Weasley Twins
(C'mon, they're just funny)

Surprisingly, I actually really like just about every character
(at least the ones I'm supposed to like).  I don't know why, I never seem to really care for the "hero" of the story - I can never really relate to them, but I like Harry well enough.  I even like Ron quite a bit.
Just curious - those of you who have read the books - who's your favorite character?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Monkey Muffins and A Marriage

For some time now, I've been dying to try this recipe for Monkey Bread Muffins that my sis-in-law posted. I modified her recipe a smidgen, for the original, visit dance your way back to Zion or click here to see the post.

This is one of those rare instances where the modified recipe is actually a little more complicated than the original, it all depends on what you have on hand when you go to make these delicious heaps of sweet-goodness.

Monkey Bread Muffins (modified)

What you will need:
Bisquick baking mix
Butter (or margarine)
Sugar
Cinnamon
1 c. Powdered Sugar
4-5 Tbsp. Milk
1/4 tsp. Vanilla

This recipe yields about 18 muffins

1.  Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

2.  Follow the directions on the side of the Bisquick box for making a batch of biscuits (it's a "just add water" recipe).

3.  After rolling out your biscuits on a floured surface, instead of cutting out the biscuits, cut dough into 2-3 inch strips.  Take each strip, and cut diagonals across it, making triangular-shaped chunks (kitchen scissors worked well - a pizza cutter might be easier).

4.  Take out your muffin pan, put about 1/2 tsp. butter/margarine, a sprinkle of sugar, and a sprinkle of cinnamon in each cup.

5.  Fill each cup with your biscuit chunks (about 4-6 will fit in each - depending on their sizes).

6.  Top off each with another small pat of butter, about 1/2 tsp. of sugar, and another sprinkle of cinnamon.

7.  Pop in the oven for about 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown around the edges.

8.  While your muffins are baking away, prepare some powdered sugar icing to drizzle on top! (from Better Homes and Gardens original cookbook).  Begin with 1 cup of powdered sugar in a small mixing bowl.

9.  Add 1/4 tsp. of vanilla and 1 Tbsp. of milk.

10.  Mix together with a fork or small whisk until combined. Continue to add 3-4 additional Tbsp. of milk until it's at a drizzling consistency (this is according to the cookbook, I only needed 2 more Tbsp. of milk...)

11.  Once your monkey muffins are done, take them out of the oven, and drizzle on powdered sugar icing liberally (may need about 1 1/2 batches of icing, depending on how much you use).
12.  ENJOY!!!!


Notes:  
Again, this is more complicated than the original, so if you think this is too much work, you can still enjoy them, check them out here!!!
If you are single/married with no children, I highly recommend cutting this recipe in half - these are delicious, but very rich and fattening, you don't want to have a bunch of extras hanging around waiting to be eaten :O)

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...in other news, a couple good friends of ours got married yesterday! I've never been to an Orthodox wedding, let alone an Orthodox Church at all, but it was a beautiful ceremony!
 Congrats to the newlyweds, Mr. and Mrs. Sellers! 

Much Love To All,
Cheryl