Monday, March 31, 2008

it is finished.

My day was filled with non-cash charitable donations, year-end inventory, commissions, sales tax, business expenses, household income, mileage, purchases... in other words - TAXES! I really mean it this time, "I hereby swear to stay up-to-date on my business paperwork." No more tossing order forms and receipts into a haphazard pile. For real.

For those of you who do not live in the lovely state of Minnesota - it is snowing... again. (The perfect day for paperwork.) Everything had pretty much melted over the weekend and now it looks like we're in the midst of a blizzard. I did manage to capture a couple of cool shots between Girl Scout cookies.

Here's one:

And another:

I'm not sure how clear the image will be but I was able to capture snowflakes in the photo above. You can trying viewing it on my Flickr page as well by clicking HERE.

While I have a busy week ahead, I am hoping to SLOW DOWN enough to work on some journaling posts and faithbooking lessons. But first I need to breathe. (And finish my cookies.) Have a great evening!

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Girl Scout Cookie Heaven

While stuffing myself full of Lemon Chalet Cremes, I decided to Google this delightful new cookie. The description alone will leave your mouth watering:

Featuring a design of Our Chalet in Switzerland, a beloved Girl Scout® World Center, this sandwich cookie has a touch of cinnamon-ginger spice that evokes the warmth of a fireside chat on a snowy evening.

If you're anything like me, you have a freezer stocked full of All Abouts, Samoas, and Do-Si-Dos. Did you know that you could use your Girl Scout cookies in recipes? No kidding!! Just click HERE and HERE to find some tasty creations.

For those of you who missed out on the last cookie drop, never fear... homemade Girl Scout cookie recipes are here:

Homemade Samoas (a.k.a. Caramel de-Lites)

1 cup butter, soft
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
up to 2 tbsp milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Mix in flour, baking powder and salt at a low speed, followed by the vanilla and milk, adding in the milk as needed to make the dough come together without being sticky (it’s possible you might not need to add milk at all). The dough should come together into a soft, not-too-sticky ball. Add in a bit of extra flour if your dough is very sticky.

Roll the dough (working in two or three batches) out between pieces of wax paper to about 1/4-inch thickness (or slightly less) and use a 1 1/2-inch cookie cutter to make rounds. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and use a knife, or the end of a wide straw, to cut a smaller center hole. Repeat with remaining dough. Alternatively, use scant tablespoons of dough and press into an even layer in a mini donut pan to form the rounds.

Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes, until bottoms are lightly browned and cookies are set. If using a mini donut pan, bake for only about 10 minutes, until edges are light gold. Cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.


3 cups shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
12-oz good-quality chewy caramels
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp milk
8 oz. semisweet chocolate chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Spread coconut evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet (preferably one with sides) and toast 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes until coconut is golden. Cool on baking sheet, stirring occasionally. Set aside.

Unwrap the caramels and place in a large microwave-safe bowl with milk and salt. Cook on high for 3-4 minutes, stopping to stir a few times to help the caramel melt. When smooth, fold in toasted coconut with a spatula.Using the spatula or a small offset spatula, spread topping on cooled cookies, using about 2-3 tsp per cookie. Reheat caramel for a few seconds in the microwave if it gets too firm to work with.

While topping sets up, melt chocolate in a small bowl. Heat on high in the microwave in 45 second intervals, stirring thoroughly to prevent scorching. Dip the base of each cookie into the chocolate and place on a clean piece of parchment paper. Transfer all remaining chocolate (or melt a bit of additional chocolate, if necessary) into a piping bag or a ziplock bag with the corner snipped off and drizzle finished cookies with chocolate.Let chocolate set completely before storing in an airtight container.

Makes about 3 1/2-4 dozen cookies.

Homemade Do-si-dos (a.k.a. Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies)

2-1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tbsp baking soda
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1-1/2 cups butter, room temperature
3/4 cup chunky peanut butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups quick-cooking oats


1-1/2 cups creamy peanut butter, room temperature
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Start with the cookies. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl, cream together butter and peanut butter. Beat in the sugars until fluffy, then add in the eggs one at a time, waiting until each is fully incorporated before adding the next. Stir in vanilla extract. Working at a low speed, mix in the flour, followed by the oats (if you don’t have quick-cooking, pulse whole rolled oats in the food processor to chop them up a bit). On a parchment-lined baking sheet, drop teaspoonfuls of batter (roughly 3/4-in. sized balls), leaving about 2 inches between each to allow for spread. Bake for about 10 minutes, until cookies are a light golden brown. Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, making small holes in 1/2 of the cookies (for the tops of the sandwiches) before they set up. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Once cookies have cooled, make the filling. In a large bowl, cream together smooth peanut butter, butter and confectioners’ sugar until very smooth. Spread 2-3 tsp onto half of the finished cookies and sandwich with the remaining halves. If you chose to make yours with GS-lookalike holes in some of the cookies, use these as the tops of the sandwiches. Store in an airtight container.

Makes about 48 sandwich cookies.

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Sunday, March 30, 2008

I guess there's only one thing left to say...

Welcome home coffee maker, welcome home.

It only took eight months to find a replacement. I brewed my first cup this morning, and oh, what a glorious morning it was indeed.

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Saturday, March 29, 2008

had enough yet?

In case you haven't, here's one more...

Please... make... it... stop!

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Help me, I can't stop!

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now if Tilly had a blog...

She could post a video like this in support of her notorious duo:

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Notorious Nellie

An anonymous poster asked for supporting evidence of Nellie's notorious nature. Since I happen to believe Nellie to be notorious, I offer the following "proof":

Nellie Oleson is the daughter of Nels and Harriet Oleson, the owners of the local mercantile. She has one sibling, Willie and both often tease Laura and Mary Ingalls. Nellie has a personality like her mother, both leading most of the town gossip and cruelty. (Retrieved from "".)

Nellie also has a MySpace page. You can find that by clicking HERE. Note that her heroes are Attila the Hun, her mom, Sally Struthers, Joan Rivers, Alexis Carrington, and Omarosa.

And, from TV Land:

Nellie Oleson is Walnut Grove's richest and best-dressed young girl in town. She's also the most spoiled, unpleasant and disrespectful girl as well. As the daughter of wealthy Oleson family, Nellie is used to having her way. Her mother, Harriet, insists on it. And when things go her way, everyone can be certain that Nellie will brag about it. Her condescending behavior makes her the least favorite with the boys. But Nellie doesn't worry about not being popular. She believes she's the envy of all the schoolgirls, all but Laura. Nellie thinks that Laura's impoverished upbringing is something to pity. It doesn't matter to her that Laura is smart, well-liked and comes from a respected family. According to Nellie and her mother, the Ingalls are beneath the Olesons. But Nellie is no match for Laura. She insists that she and her family are worthy of respect while Nellie contends they're not. The robust personalities are both young girls are sure to lead to a showdown.

"Notorious: Known widely and usually unfavorably."

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if you value your friendship

Do not, under any circumstances, play The Game of Scattergories.

Funny thing is, the hubby and I learned this vital lesson roughly 10 years ago. It almost cost us our friendship with Rob. We packed up the game and made a silent vow not to touch it again for a very long time.

Which brings us to yesterday.

Tilly and her family graciously allowed us to join their family outing to The Malt Shop, which by the way, was very good. (I'd recommend the Pumpkin Shake though the other 34 flavors looked equally divine.) We returned home and the kids played outside while the grownups discussed Very Important Things... such as Chocolate Rain (why have I not heard of this before?), toilets with powerful suction capabilities, and setting up a Duck Cam in the neighborhood. Then Tilly did it. She said, "Let's play a game. How about something new?"

Which sent me racing to the game closet in search of an exciting, new "old game" - one we hadn't seen in a while, one that still had all of the pieces, one that could rise to our high gaming standards. And then I saw it: The Game of Scattergories.

The game began innocently enough as each of us struggled to adjust to the unfamiliar format. Then it happened. The category was THINGS AT A CIRCUS, the letter was "W" - Tilly came up with Weight Lifter and a debate between Weight Lifter and Strongman ensued. (Just for the record, I gave Weight Lifter a thumbs-up.)

Things really began to heat up at this point. A chain reaction of sorts.

The game ended with a debate over which fictional character was more notorious - Nellie Oleson or The Dukes of Hazzard (a.k.a. Bo and Luke Duke). (Please bloggy readers, keep your comments to yourselves... this is still a sensitive topic as the wounds are still fresh.) It was during this eruption that my hubby recalled the last Scattergories incident.

Then we vowed (verbally this time) not to play this game for at least another 10 years.

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Friday, March 28, 2008

playdate w/Pippy

Ren had his buddy "Pippy" over - the name is their creation, not mine! Two peas in a pod, that's what they are. Last year, they created names for themselves and another friend - Dack, Catrenzo, and Suck. Yep, two peas...

Unfortunately, the hubby and I have been so tied up with things we haven't arranged very many playdates. (Where does the time go?) Pippy said he was so excited about coming over that he woke up really early, got dressed, brushed his teeth, and ate breakfast - all without any prompting from his mom. Just too sweet.

We really need to make a habit of this.

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

I was so going for a cool shot...

but four wiggly kids and a stubborn autofocus prevented that from happening!

Too, do your remember our Singulair incident? My sister-in-law just sent us a link to this startling StarTribune story: FDA investigating possible link between Merck's Singulair allergy drug and suicide. Click HERE to read more.

Edited to add: The StarTribune article is no longer located at my original link. Click HERE for a similar story by Fox News and HERE for one by USA Today.

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Ross and the leather pants.

Remember this episode? I spotted it on television tonight and was bustin' out loud. I especially love the part where he smacks himself in the head... only Ross.

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I went to Space Aliens and all I got with this lousy sweatshirt

It really is a *very nice* sweatshirt but that wouldn't have worked as well in the title :-)

My hubby was tired of sitting around the house (especially with it being Spring Break and all), so I suggested a road trip to Albertville. Our first stop was the Space Aliens Grill & Bar and I am happy to report, it met every one of our expectations. They offered an extensive menu, everything from loaded baked potatoes to fire roasted pizzas. I had some sort of barbeque wrap filled with coleslaw and fried onion petals. Very yummy. There was even an arcade!

Our boys LOVED IT - both agreeing it was better than Chuck E. Cheese. (Now that's sayin' a lot about the place.)

We were also in Cabela's territory, which meant a fudge run was in order. More yummy goodness.

Fudge, multiple french fry dipping sauces, a new sweatshirt, the shooting range - a day of indulgence, because that's what Spring Break is all about.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

there's a light at the end of this tunnel

Tunnel by Third Day

Well I won't pretend to know what you're thinking
And I can't begin to know what you're going through
And I won't deny the pain that you're feeling
But I'm gonna try and give a little hope to you
Just remember what I told you
There's so much you're living for

There's a light at the end of this tunnel
There's a light at the end of this tunnel for you
For you
There's a light at the end of this tunnel
Shining bright at the end of this tunnel for you
For you
So keep holding on

You got your disappointments and sorrows
You ought to share the weight of that load with me
Then you will find that the light of tomorrow
Well it brings new life for your eyes to see
So remember what I told you
There's so much your living for

There's a light at the end of this tunnel
There's a light at the end of this tunnel for you
For you
There's a light at the end of this tunnel
Shining bright at the end of this tunnel for you
For you
So keep holding on
Keep holding on

So remember what I told you
There's so much you're living for

There's a light at the end of this tunnel
There's a light at the end of this tunnel for you
For you yeah
There's a light at the end of this tunnel
Shining bright at the end of this tunnel for you
For you yeah
There's a light at the end of this tunnel ooh
For you, for you yeah
Shining bright at the end of this tunnel
For you, for you
So keep holding on
Keep holding on
Keep holding on now

You got your disappointments and sorrows
I'm gonna try and give a little hope to you

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

an attitude check.

I love this Joyce Meyer quote: It's not our circumstances that make us so unhappy. It's our attitude toward our circumstances. For years I struggled with depression - happiness was a fleeting experience. Contentment was only a dream. People used to tell me my life was like a soap opera - one torturous saga after another:
  • I lived in a house with bats in the basement and cracks in our walls that led outside.
  • My boyfriend of five years was cheating on me.
  • Money was so tight I was forced to sell plasma to help make ends meet.
  • I was evicted from my apartment.
  • My employer was taking advantage of me.
  • My family didn't understand me.
  • I was alone.

The truth is, these less-than-ideal circumstances provided me with the perfect excuse for one continual pity party. I was a victim, powerless to stop it.

Or so I thought.

Which brings me to the point of this entry - our thoughts. The Bible has a lot to say about our thoughts:
  • "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." (Romans 12:2)
  • Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. (Colossians 3:2)
  • For the weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood], but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds, [Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One). (2 Corinthians 10:4,5)
  • Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies. (Philippians 4:8-9)
It was upon entering the Eating Disorders Research Program at the University of Minnesota that I first discovered the importance of taking my thoughts captive. Not only did I have faulty ideas about food and eating, I had faulty ideas about myself and others as well. Treatment centered on deliberate thinking. In essence, we had to begin thinking about what we were thinking about.

Ever have thoughts like these run through your head?

I can't do it, it's too hard.
I have no will power.
People must think I'm nuts.
This outfit makes me look fat.
I really screwed that up.
There must be something wrong with me.
I'm too busy to think about my needs.
Things will never change.

This is called, "Stinkin' Thinkin'" and we all struggle with it at one time or another. It becomes a problem when those thoughts are accompanied by self-defeating feelings and behaviors (e.g. drug or alcohol addiction, self-injury, eating disorders, and depression). For those of you in this boat, please know that freedom is possible! First and foremost, I would encourage you to find a reputable therapist (I've had experience with Life Development Resources and would highly recommend their services). Secondly, I would encourage you to take a solid look at your thought life. Joyce Meyer has written a wonderful book called, "Battlefield of the Mind" which offers a great deal of insight into the importance of thinking about what you're thinking about. Much of what we think and feel is learned behavior. The good news is that any learned behavior can be unlearned. Many are even able to defeat depression without medication by learning to replace the Stinkin' Thinkin' with positive, affirming thoughts. This is where God's Word comes in. I often rely on this book for quick references to scripture - the verses are categorized by topic: Help, Comfort, Peace, Courage, etc. For example, if I am feeling overwhelmed by a situation and am desperate for help this is what I will read or say aloud:

How gracious God will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. Isaiah 30:19

Surely God is my help, the Lord is the one who sustains me. Psalm 54:4

We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. Psalm 33:20

You will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help and he will say: Here am I. Isaiah 58:9

I find assurance, comfort, and peace in God through His Word and the dark cloud passes. My thought life was radically transformed through this process. Though I continue to face very challenging circumstances at times, they longer steal my hope or joy. I am choosing to make the most of this life, one day at a time.

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the completed project

Here are a few pages from the hubby's chipboard "album"; the project satisfied every painting, stapling, and rub-on urge I had. My youngest wants one now for himself!

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Is there more to life than this?

I've talked about the Alpha course here and there throughout my website and at the monthly faithbooking events. It's a great way to learn about the Christian faith in a relaxed atmosphere. Listen, learn, discuss and discover. And ask anything. Alpha is a place where no question is too simple or too hostile.

Here's an excerpt from the Alpha USA website:

Over 10 million people worldwide have now attended an Alpha course, an opportunity to explore the meaning of life, running in tens of thousands of churches of all denominations, and at universities, in prisons and on military bases across the world. At an Alpha course people explore the Christian faith in a relaxed setting over ten thought-provoking weekly sessions, with a day or weekend away. It is low-key, friendly and fun – and is supported by all the main Christian denominations.

I know that several churches in the area will be starting up a new session within the next month. To find an Alpha course near you, click HERE.

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shots from the day, part 2

Here are a few shots from my side of the family:

That's my niece above and grandma below. My grandma does not smile for pictures. When coaxing her didn't work, we pulled out Stinky Face... sure enough, it worked!

And here's my mom again, this time in her own picture (see previous post).

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shots from the day, part 1

The shots above were with the hubby's side of the family. I'll share a few shots from my side tomorrow!

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three's a crowd.

I thought I'd have a lovely self-portrait to share but my mom had something else in mind. I took at least three shots before realizing she was making bunny ears behind us.

Yep, that's my mom.

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Saturday, March 22, 2008

family photo shoot

Here we are in our Saturday finest. I've had a hankering for a photo shoot but the weather hasn't been cooperating. Instead of playing outdoors with my camera, we cleared the dining room for a quick indoor session. Here are a few of my favorite shots:

I'm not sure about the rest of the family but I had a TON of fun!!!!!

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