Created equal

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Glennon inspired me to share my feelings on this…..
When I first heard about the immigrant children coming into the US recently, my first thought was “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'” Matthew 25: 35-40
As a Christian, these words of Jesus are familiar to me and his teachings are but one of the reasons I love him. As a mother and a human being, my heart mourns for the horrible plight of these innocent children and their mothers, who incidentally were created and born onto this earth the same way I was. Exactly the same way. As an American, these wordsGlennon Melton quoted in her blog post (see link below for entire essay)-“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

-these words humble me with extreme gratitude that I was born onto these United States of freedom and abundance of material things. I look around in so many areas, at so many situations, at my own heart and wonder where is the abundance of love for our fellow man, women, and children outside our loved ones and our own selves? I really want to be loving and unselfish and daily strive to do so even when it doesn’t look like I am. Who am I to think I deserve more love than any other person to whom I was “created equal”? God help me.

#theyarechildren
http://momastery.com/blog/2014/07/25/theyarechildren/

Extra Rich ‘N Chewy Brownie Bites

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I was enjoying a lovely afternoon at home when I decided to make the day even lovelier by whipping up a sweet treat. Inspired by an Instagram photo posted by my childhood friend @coachb308 aka Shelley Bishop, I set about to satisfy my sweet tooth. I scrounged around in my kitchen cupboards and pulled out the necessary ingredients to make Extra Rich ‘N Chewy Brownie Bites (I just made that name up. I know, I know, not incredibly original but whatever…I digress). Here’s what to do:

Ingredients

1/2 cup coconut oil

1 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 eggs

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a mini cupcake/muffin pan with coconut oil.
  2. Mix together the oil and vanilla and beat in the egg.
  3. In a separate bowl pour in the sugar, then sift in the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.
  4. With your mixer on low speed, gradually stir the egg/oil/vanilla mixture into the sugar/flour/etc mixture until well blended. 
  5. Spoon in about one tablespoon of the batter into each muffin cup in the prepared pan. I like to use The Pampered Chef’s Small Scoop and Deluxe Mini Muffin Pan.
  6. It took 12-13 minutes in my oven, so watch these little dudes very closely as to not over bake them. Mini hockey pucks aren’t very rich ‘n chewy.
Some of the stuff you put into this recipe.

Some of the stuff you put into this recipe.

Yeah, so I tested one before they cooled. So?

Yeah, I tested one before they cooled. So?

Pan and scoop

I didn’t wash the pan and scoop before photographing them. Sorry about that.

This sweet little platter that belonged to my Gran is just right for Extra Rich 'N Chewy Brownie Bites.

This sweet little platter that belonged to my Gran is just right for Extra Rich ‘N Chewy Brownie Bites.

These would also be delicious with a pecan on top of each one or some powdered sugar sprinkled on top. Let me know if you make some!

 

Unwelcome House Guests

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Unwanted guests (home invaders!) arrived at our house one recent spring day in the form of tiny black ants around the kitchen sink. My kitchen is one of my favorite rooms in the house, all bright and joyful with items I love and enjoy adorning the counters and shelves.

Kitchen windowEDIT

Imagine my dismay to wake up that morning to a dark cloud cast over my cheery kitchen. Okay, so it wasn’t that dark considering ants are so tiny, but you know what I mean. All I could see was lines of tiny, black ants scurrying about my sink and counter tops, no doubt being “extremely wise” (if you say so, Bible). While the best-selling book of all time recommends the ways of the ant – Proverbs 6:6-8, Proverbs 30:24-25, I personally do not hold the pesky creatures in such high esteem.

As I was hurriedly leaving for work that morning, I stopped and grabbed my spray bottle of ‘I Love Lemon’ (kitchen cleaner by Blessed Nest Natural Cleaning products that I like to make with essential oils – recipe here) and sprayed the little colony scurrying around. BAM! DEAD!

Then as a repellant, I flung a few drops of Peppermint Essential Oil* around the back of the sink where the ants seem to be entering the sink area, then I rushed out the door. I went home at lunch time and NOT ONE SINGLE LIVING ANT could be found in my kitchen! Several days later a few determined ants attempted to set up camp around my sink again. With another dousing of Peppermint Essential Oil – this time mixed with filtered water in a spray bottle, the problem was again taken care. It’s been weeks since I and my cozy kitchen have been bugged by unwelcome guests.

*I use Peppermint Essential Oil by doTerra, my favorite essential oil brand.

DAY TWO: Washington, D.C., 05.30.13

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Brad’s day began with meetings at the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). At 1:00 pm, I gathered in the lobby with some other MADD board members and staff to take the Metrorail to join Brad and the others for a tour of the Newseum. “The Newseum, a 250,000 square foot museum of news, offers visitors an experience that blends five centuries of news history with up-to-the-second technology and hands-on exhibits.”  Very interesting!

November 22, 2013 marks the 50 year anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The museum has on display fabulous exhibits of never before seen photos and artifacts.

Creating Camelot - The Kennedy Photography of Jacques Lowe.

Creating Camelot – The Kennedy Photography of Jacques Lowe.

2013-05-30 14.08.09

“We are going to sell Jack like soap flakes.” – Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr.

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“I am the man who accompanied Jacqueline Kennedy to Paris and I have enjoyed it.” -President John F. Kennedy

Along with the beautiful, happy photos of the Kennedy family were not so pleasant reminders.

Abraham Zapruder's famous camera. The private citizen captured the infamous deed on this home-movie camera.

Abraham Zapruder’s famous camera. The private citizen captured the infamous deed on this home-movie camera.

A sobering presentation of the Berlin Wall displayed actual sections of the Wall. East and West sides pictured.

Berlin Wall - East Side & West Side

Berlin Wall – East Side & West Side

Brad and I posed for a photo on the terrace of the Newseum. Notice the Canadian Embassy on the immediate left and the U.S. Capitol in the background.

American Citizens being all touristy.

American Citizens being all touristy.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

First Amendment Display. Shout out to MADD!

First Amendment Display. Shout out to MADD!

Washington D.C is steeped in the history of our nation’s founding and progress.  The historic presence was palpable as we walked the streets and were surrounded by artifacts. It’s a must-do trip for all Americans!

 

 

 

 

 

 

DAY ONE: Washington, D.C. 05.29.13

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My husband Brad is a member of the MADD National Board and Executive.  I’m so proud of him. This bittersweet appointment comes with an unfathomable price.  http://www.jedbulla.com

Brad's MADD nametag

I accompanied Brad to our nation’s capital on Wednesday, May 29, 2013 for a MADD national board meeting.  This gorgeous sunset welcomed us to town.

Sunset, Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C. is steeped in colonial history – our union’s founding, a northern perspective on the Civil War, intricate architecture.  This is a thrill trip for me as I am a lover of history and old buildings.

Practically Perfect White Cake & White Icing

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Practically Perfect White Cake

I found it!  The best recipe for scrumptious white cake!  Well, I found a recipe that I modified into what I want white cake to be – moist, light, moist, tantalizingly delicious, and moist.  One of my soulmates, Shelley Haynes Heile, had a birthday in March. Her favorite thing in life is white cake with white icing.  It’s never too late (early?) to celebrate, right?  Okay, so Shelley and I don’t need an excuse to indulge in this blessed confection, but I’d been promising it for two months.

Shelley & Tracy - Seniors at RCHS 1985-86

Shelley & Tracy – Seniors at RCHS 1985-86

Tracy & Shelley - 25 Year Class Reunion 2011

Tracy & Shelley – 25 Year Class Reunion 2011

Now on with the business at hand. CAKE!

Ingredients:

-2 1/4 cups cake flour –  I use Swans Down Cake Flour but oddly, their cake recipe isn’t my favorite
-1 cup almond milk, at room temperature
-6 large egg whites at room temperature
-1 teaspoon almond extract
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
-4 teaspoons baking powder
-1 teaspoon salt
-1 1/2 sticks of butter (12 ounces) softened

Directions:

-Pre-Heat oven to 350 degrees.
-Grease or spray two 9-inch round cake pans (I use coconut oil)
-Sprinkle greased pans with flour
-Line the bottoms with parchment or waxed paper rounds (I cut some rounds out of wax paper).
-Grease/spray the wax paper rounds, place them in cake pans, and dust with flour

-Pour milk, egg whites, and extracts into 2-cup glass measuring cup/bowl, and whisk until blended
-Mix cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in bowl of electric mixer at slow speed.

photo 1

-Slice butter and add the pats to the flour mixture a couple at a time while slowly mixing.

photo 2
-Continue beating at slow speed until mixture resembles moist crumbs and all flour is moistened

photo 3
-Add all but 1/2 cup of milk mixture to crumbs and beat at medium speed  for 1 1/2 minutes.
-Add remaining 1/2 cup of milk mixture and beat 30 seconds more.

-Stop mixer and scrape sides of bowl.
-Return mixer to medium-high speed and beat 20 seconds longer.

photo 4
-Divide batter evenly between two prepared cake pans; using rubber spatula, spread and smooth batter.

photo 5

-Place filled cake pans on middle oven rack.
-Bake 23-26 minutes, until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean
-Let cakes rest in pans for about 3 minutes.

photo 1 (2)

-Cover wire racks with greased wax paper or parchment paper.
-Loosen cake from sides of pans with a knife (if necessary), and invert onto wire racks.
-Let cool completely, about about an hour or so.

Lovely, cooling cakes

While cake is baking or cooling, whip up some frosting from scratch, like this:

Lighter-Than-Air Cake Frosting

Ingredients:

- 3 egg whites

- 1 tsp vanilla extract

- 1/4 tsp almond extract

- 1 cup granulated sugar

- 1/2 tsp cream of tartar

- 1/8 tsp salt

- 1/3 cup water

In a large glass or metal bowl, add the egg whites and extracts, set aside.  In a saucepan, mix the sugar, cream of tartar, salt, and water; stir well and bring to boil until the sugar dissolves. This creates a sweet, syrupy concoction.

Start beating your egg whites and extracts on HIGH while slowing adding the hot syrup. Beat for 4-5 minutes with a stand mixer or 7-8 minutes with a hand mixer. Gorgeous, fluffy peaks will form.

Beat frosting mixture on high!

Hello there precious, fluffy, marshmallowy icing!

This frosting recipe makes enough to frost a three layer cake. Since my cake recipe is for a two layer cake, I had to eat the remaining delicious, fluffy, marshmallowy frosting with a spoon over the next couple of days as any self-respecting baker will do.  Fill a pastry bag or decorating tool with the light, airy frosting or easily smooth onto cake with a knife or spatula.  I used a Pampered Chef Frosting Spreader on this one.

Happy birthday, Shelley!

Happy birthday, Shelley!

I don’t want to cook dinner!

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At the end of a mind numbing Monday workday, I couldn’t bear the thoughts of cooking dinner.  I got home and scrounged around in my fridge and cupboards and came up with this:

Easily found, easily fixed.

Easy fixin’s.

  • A can of white albacore tuna – drain it.
  • Grape tomatoes – slice them in halves
  • Grapes – slice them in halves
  • Ranch dressing
  • Crackers
  • Best part – remember those fantastic crockpot black beans I made yesterday?
Albacore tuna and black beans.

Albacore tuna and black beans plopped in a bowl.

Slice the grapes and maters.

Slice the grapes and maters.

Mix it all together and serve with crackers!

Mix it all together and serve with crackers!

Brad! It's suppertime!

Brad! It’s suppertime!