I’m still alive. In case you were wondering.

Hello, neglected readers.  I am sorry that I have been away for so long.  As usual, I started a project (this and one other blog) and then got distracted and left them shivering and alone and utterly abandoned.

I have been working on another blogging project, however.  This one with a friend.  It was her idea.  And, it has been quite successful and rewarding.  I really hope that we are helping people.  That’s our goal anyway.  http://theinnerviewweb.wordpress.com, if you’re interested.  We are always looking for contributors, btw.  Please reach out to me if you have a story to tell.  Anonymously or not!

Also, The Hubs’s new work project has been picking up speed.  And, we’ve had a lot going on in the home front:  another garage sale, family visits, family reunions, fantasy football draft parties, visits to my grandma, craft projects, road trips, etc etc etc.  Time is flying by at an alarming rate.

Our 20th wedding anniversary, which has forever seemed in the distant future, is only a month away now!  Goodness!  I can’t even wrap my head around being married that long.  But, we have.  The Hubs and I took a selfie Saturday evening while out to dinner with friends.  I almost gasped when I saw it.  We look….**insert tense, dark music leading up to a horrific reveal here**….middle aged!  Surely we don’t actually look like that in normal, everyday life.  SURELY I would have noticed…..

A small portion of my out-of-state in-laws recently left after a two-week visit.  That is always an ordeal.  The Hubs’s family is just so friggin’ massive.  We hosted a retirement party for my mother-in-law.  It was mostly local family that attended, and I would guesstimate that there were 50-70 people there.  We decorated for two hours.  Cooked for two days.  Planned for two weeks.  It was exhausting.  But, she had a good time, and that’s all that matters.  My right eye has finally stopped twitching.  (I kid….I kid….)

Anywho.  So, that’s my excuse for not blogging recently.  And, I guess that my 100 Day Song Challenge is a gigantic failure.  I’ll never catch up on that.  Oh well…..

Hope you are happy and peaceful and enjoying life.

Song of the Day

Numb by Linkin Park.  This is in honor of Chester Bennington, who committed suicide last week.  So.  Sad.  Suicide is NEVER the answer.  It breaks my heart to hear of anyone doing it…….

Recipe of the Day

Strawberry Jam-Filled White Chocolate Mousse Mirror Glaze Cake via http://www.casuable.com.  The Hubs and I tried to make this for his mom’s party.  It.  Was.  A.  Disaster.  In the end, we served a bowl of “cake salad”.  It was hideous, but very very tasty.  Sigh….

Ingredients

White Chocolate Mousse

  • 8 egg yolks
  • ¼ cup sugar
  •  cups heavy cream (for the eggs)
  •  cups white chocolate (over 30% cocoa butter)
  • 2 cups heavy cream chilled (for whipping)

Mirror Glaze

  • 300 milliliters water
  •  cups sugar
  • 1 14- ounce can sweeten condensed milk
  • 15 gelatin sheets
  • 26 ounces white chocolate chopped (over 30% cocoa butter)
  • Gel food coloring of choice

Mirror Glaze Cake

  • 1 recipe White Chocolate Mousse
  • 18 ounces strawberry jam seedless
  • 2 round vanilla cakes prepared with box instructions and trimmed to 1 cm thick
  • 1 recipe Mirror Glaze

Instructions

White Chocolate Mousse

  1. In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks with a hand mixer until frothy and airy, then mix in the sugar slowly. Beat until lemon-colored and fluffy.
  2. Heat the cream in a pot over medium heat until steaming but not boiling, then slowly mix in half of the cream with the eggs – being sure to not cook the eggs by pouring too much cream inside before it’s mixed.
  3. Pour the warm creamy egg mixture into the pot with the rest of the cream and cook over low heat, stirring constantly until the mixture has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon without dripping off too much.
  4. Mix in the white chocolate until smooth, then transfer the mix to a bowl and press cling film into the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Chill completely.
  5. Once the white chocolate mixture is set, beat the cold cream in a large bowl until stiff peaks. Be careful not to overmix, it’s safer to undermix than the over mix.
  6. Carefully fold in the white chocolate mixture into the cream, a little at a time, until folded in completely. Set aside for later use.

Mirror Glaze

  1. Boil the water, sugar, and condensed milk in a pot for 1 minute, then remove from heat.
  2. Bloom the gelatin in 8 cups of cold water for 5 minutes, then wring the gelatin sheets of excess water and mix into the sugar mixture.
  3. Pour the liquid over the chocolate, letting it sit for 2-3 minutes to allow the chocolate to soften.
  4. Using an immersion blender, carefully blend the chocolate and the liquid, making sure that you are not blending in air bubbles by lifting up the blender too high. It’s okay to go slow, just make sure it’s all blended with as little bubbles as possible, which will show up in the final product.
  5. Sieve the mix into a large jug or vertical container to remove any excess bubbles. If there are still bubbles, continue to sieve back and forth. A trick to remove air bubbles from the surface is to manually pop them with a toothpick or to press cling film into the surface and remove the bubbles.
  6. Separate the glaze into different containers and color them to your desire. We used red and white for this cake. Blend the coloring with the glaze until the color is distributed evenly, then cover each container with the cling film, pressing the film into the glaze to ensure that there is no skin when you are ready to use the glaze.
  7. When you are ready to use the glaze, make sure each one is around 90-96°F, then pour the colored glazes back into one container. Swirl them if you’d like, then glaze your cake!

Mirror Glaze Cake

  1. Spread the jam evenly into the bottom of a round 8-inch cake pan, then place one of the cake rounds on top. Freeze completely.
  2. In a 9-inch by 3-inch silicone round cake mold, pour ⅔ of the chocolate mousse then tap the mold on the table to release any air bubbles.
  3. Place the frozen cake & jam disc on top of the mousse, jam-side down. Press the cake down slightly, then cover it with the rest of the mousse. Place the 2nd cake round on top, pressing down until the mousse rises to the level of the cake. Carefully transfer to a freezer and freeze overnight. It is vital that the cake is 100% frozen through.
  4. Place a can on top of a baking sheet, then carefully unmold the cake onto the can. Make sure to work quickly and that the glaze is already prepared.

Book of the Day

Image result for a painted house john grisham

A Painted House by John Grisham.  I just finished this one today.  I love books set in the ’50s.  I think it’s because my parents were born in the ’50s.  Life seemed so much simpler back then.  It definitely was harder, but there was no social media.  People lived slower.  They seemed to have more values and treat people kinder.  This book tells the story of 7-year-old Luke and his family, who are cotton farmers in rural Arkansas.  I really enjoyed it.

My Most Common Topic: Randomness

Hi.  🙂  How is everyone?  I’m good.  I’m kicked back in the living room listening to The Hubs yell at the Texas Rangers game on TV.  Apparently Sam Dyson is the source of much suffering for Rangers fans.  (The Hubs takes his Texas sports seriously.)

I just thought I’d log in and ramble about a few random things.

Last night I was reading my Bible study, which included Psalm 37.  This is very relevant to my life right now.  If you’ve read many of my previous posts, you may know that I am a disgruntled employee.  Most of my disgruntledness (is that a word?) stems from the wrongful firing of The Hubs by my boss.  I have been making a true effort recently to let it all go and not hold any ill will toward my boss or any of the other involved cast of characters.  I have been mostly succeeding at this.  I have been able to just smile and shake my head and move on from things that would normally have me up in arms.  It is VERY freeing.

Do not fret because of those who are evil
    or be envious of those who do wrong;
for like the grass they will soon wither,
    like green plants they will soon die away.

Trust in the Lord and do good;
    dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
    your vindication like the noonday sun.

Be still before the Lord
    and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
    when they carry out their wicked schemes.

Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
    do not fret—it leads only to evil.
For those who are evil will be destroyed,
    but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.

This may sound like I am wishing bad things on these people.  I am not.  I swear.  Basically, the message is that I should not let their deeds bother me.  I need to worry about my own life and not let bitterness toward anyone eat me up.  I kinda felt that having that as part of my daily devotional was God telling me to keep it up.  I will continue to try!  I hope that you are able to do the same if you have poisonous people in your life.

A few posts ago, I mentioned having an MRI.  Well, the results of that came in, and they weren’t what I had hoped.  But, that’s okay.  I was diagnosed with MS 16 years ago, and I have been much healthier during that time than I deserve or could have ever asked for.  The disappointing part is that my neurologist (who I love, love, love) wants me to start taking medication again.  Boo!  Hiss!  I stopped taking all medications several years ago, and I have not missed any of it for a second.  The thought of getting back into all of that has been dragging on me.  I am yet to call him back and make the necessary arrangements.  Why do label side effects have to be so awful???

I love watching #LivePD.  I just wanted to throw that in there.

I also love Carpool Karaoke.

Two more days and that wonderful, awesome, three-word phrase that office workers around the globe rejoice in will be here!

THREE DAY WEEKEND!

Can I get a woot woot?  Do you have any fabulous plans?  I am going to go see my grandma and aunt.  I cherish every visit that I get with my grandma.  We live close enough to each other that I get to see her fairly regularly, but far enough apart that I can’t just pop in whenever I want to check on her or take her out to lunch or invite her over for dinner.  I don’t know what I’ll do with the rest of my time off, but I would bet good money that I won’t be spending too much time being a responsible adult and doing chores!  😉

May you and yours have a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend.  Much love to you all.

Song of the Day

When you are doing a 100 Day Song Challenge, it is downright difficult to pick a song of the day.  I’m just saying….  I think everyone needs to tap their toes to something.  Why not tap them to Square Dance Rap by Sir Mix-a-Lot?

Recipe of the Day

Beer Cheese Soup via http://www.foodnetwork.com.  (I have used this for the recipe of the day before, but I’m posting it again to add an important note.)  I made this for the second time last night.  The first time, I used a Coors Light.  Last night, I used some funky IPA that The Hubs had in the fridge.  Let me just say that beer choice matters…..

Ingredients
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 carrots, finely diced
2 stalks celery, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, finely diced
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder
Pinch cayenne pepper
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken stock
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 bottle pale ale, such as Pabst Blue Ribbon
2 cups shredded sharp yellow Cheddar
1 cup shredded gruyere
1/2 cup half-and-half

Directions

Melt the butter in a Dutch oven or large saucepot over medium heat. Add the carrots, celery, garlic, onions, mustard powder, cayenne and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sweat the vegetables until tender, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and cook, stirring constantly, about 1 minute. Pour in the stock, mustard and Worcestershire and simmer until the veggies are very soft, about 15 minutes. Add the ale, simmer, about 5 minutes, and then puree with an immersion blender until smooth. Add the Cheddar, gruyere and half-and-half and stir until melted through and smooth. Adjust the seasoning.  Enjoy with a 30-pack of your favorite cheap beer.

Book of the Day

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah.  Every book I have read by Hannah has been an absolute tear-jerker, and this one is promising to be no different.  I have a thing for books set during WWII for some reason.  I have no idea why.  They are so heart-wrenching.  I cannot imagine how people managed to survive the things they did.  I cannot imagine having to rely of food rations or having people take over my home and confiscate all of my belongings.  I cannot wrap my head around a whole group of people being denied the basics of life.  I would like to think that I would have the courage to lay my life on the line to stand for what is right, but I have not had that tested yet.  I am about 1/3 of the way through this book, and I am enraptured by it.

 

Mental Pictures that Make Me Giggle

Just a couple of random thoughts:

  1.  I had an MRI yesterday.  I’m an old pro at these, but never before have I noticed an MRI tech’s badge being pulled toward the magnetic machine.  It was a bit amusing.  He was standing there fiddling with the screen, and his badge was being pulled away from his body and toward the machine.  MRI protocol differs depending on the facility.  This particular venue wanted me to leave my shoes on despite the metal eyelets.  Seeing the tech’s badge made me have mental visions of my feet being pulled up over my head toward the machine while I was being slid into the machine until I was rolled up like a shrimp.  Giggle.  I wish I could draw more skillfully.  I would love to sketch that out…..
  2. I have a friend who is being ordained as a minister a week from tomorrow.  Thinking of this earlier made me realize that this will now mean that I will have more friends in ministry than in prison for the first time in my life.  What does that say?  Ha!

That’s all, folks!  Have a fabulous evening.

 

Random Thoughts on a Rainy Evening

It’s Monday evening.  Another day at The Unhappiest Place on Earth survived.  I’m sitting here with all of my windows open anxiously waiting on this spring thunderstorm to make its appearance, enjoying the therapeutic peacefulness of God’s creations–the birds singing, insects chirping, squirrels chattering, the breeze making my wind chimes tinkle,–and thinking deep thoughts:

  • This morning I had an incident where some of my coffee went down the wrong pipe.  I choked on it, had a violent physical reaction, and the coffee was forced up into the sinus cavity underneath my right cheek.  I swear it was.  Is that possible?  My sinuses have been aching ever since.  I keep envisioning Texas pecan coffee sloshing around inside my face.  How can I get it out?  Eventually, it’ll turn…..  Will the doctor believe me if I have to go ask for antibiotics and tell him I have coffee stuck in my skull?
  • Should we go with solar roofing tiles for our house?  Is it a sound investment or a rip off?  I have read both marvelous and disappointing things about it.  Will Tesla’s new solar roofing tiles be better than previous products?  Would it be better to put solar panels over the deck we’re building?  Can I fix my foundation problems, rebuild two retaining walls, pour a new driveway, build a new deck, put on a new roof, install solar panels, and repaint our house for very little money?  Does anyone have a time machine I can borrow?
  • Do I want to make wonton soup for dinner again?
  • Could I talk all of the people that I love into moving onto the same piece of land and starting our own community?  Could we all get along?  Would the outside world think we were members of some crazy cult?  I wonder if there is a real pioneer living inside of me.  Maybe deep down inside I’m a badass who can kill a deer, process it, make delectable dishes from the meat, a cute dress from the pelt, and a snazzy little coat rack from the antlers all with tools I’ve made by hand.  But probably not.
  • Will I EVER finish reading Cloud Atlas?
  • Which of our many possible futures will become a reality for me and The Hubs?
  • Why do my eyebrows act like I feed them Miracle-Gro?
  • What can we do to celebrate our 20th anniversary this year?
  • Why am I wearing mismatched socks?

And on and on and on it goes.  I hope you are having a wonderful night.  I hear the thunder coming!  Going to go sit on my porch and breathe in the fresh air.

Song of the Day

Bother by Stone Sour.  Just because I heard it this morning for the first time in a while.

Recipe of the Day

Baked beans for a crowd.  This is a recipe I came up with a few years ago by smushing together the best parts of three other recipes.  Every time we have a get-together with my in-laws, I am asked to bring these.  The recipe fills a 9×13 cake pan.

6 15-oz cans pork and beans, drain juice from 4
1 pkg bacon
1 onion, diced
1-3 jalapenos, diced
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
3 Tbsp spicy mustard
3 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp red wine vinegar
2 cups BBQ sauce
1 cup catsup
Salt & pepper, to taste

Cut bacon into small chunks and cook with onion and jalapeno. Mix that and everything else in a large tin pan or cake pan. Cook at 350 for 1-1 1/2 hours.

Book of the Day

Image result for twilight novel coverImage result for eclipse novel coverImage result for short second life of bree tannerImage result for new moon novel coverImage result for breaking dawn novel coverImage result for life after death stephenie meyer

The Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer.  Yes yes.  I know that these book are often ridiculed, but they played an important role in my love affair with reading.  I read all of the time when I was a child.  My mom worked at a library, so it was quite natural.  Then, I took a long hiatus through most of my adolescence and early adulthood.  In my twenties, my mom got me hooked on the Harry Potter series, which rekindled the fire.  My reading may have halted there if it wasn’t for my friend, Lynn, and her overwhelming obsession with Twilight.  She talked about it so much that I just had to see what all of the fuss was about.  And, I have to admit, that I loved the first book.  I quickly followed that one up with the next three books in the series.  And then I heard about the unfinished Midnight Sun and read that one.  (I so wish Meyer had completed it!)  And then The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner.  I am very grateful that I read the books before watching the movies because I probably wouldn’t have bothered if it were the other way around.  The acting in those movies really is pitiful.  My love for this series has since waned.  That point was drilled home when I made the mistake of reading Life After Death, which is the original story “reimagined” with gender reversal.  It is terrible.  Terrible!  Anyway.  Mock me if you will, but the Twilight series is a part of history now, and I am happy that it catapulted me full-force back into the literary world.  No regrets!