Thursday, November 30

True Beauty?

This is a fascinating, short video. She looked beautiful before any makeup.

This is a fascinating, short video. She looked beautiful before any makeup.

Wednesday, November 29

I made Truffles tonight.....

...and I am pleased with the results. These are chocolate truffles, mind you, not mushrooms! This was my first attempt at truffles.

Total time to make them was probably 5-6 hours, which included chopping chocolate, toasting hazelnuts and coconut, making raspberry puree, mixing chocolate and heated heavy cream (did that on lunch break), piping, rolling, coating, chilling, "enrobing" in the coconut, cocoa or nuts. Danila came over tonight and helped with a key part where you really need two people (this is the recipe I used, by the way). We rolled the ganache with rubber gloves after I piped them out on trays in mounds and chilled them for a bit. We had to place our hands on an ice pack to cool them down periodically so as to not make the chocolate too soft.

I then coated the truffles in plain, melted bittersweet chocolate (not mixed with any heavy cream) with bare, clean hands (ran out of gloves). The coating will form a hard shell around the truffle.
Before the coating solidified, Danila rolled them in the various toppings. I tasted a couple of the truffles, and the slight "crack" of the shell is quite delightful, then you reach the creamy, rich middle. I believe my favorite is the coconut covered variety (shown in the back of the photo).

Oh, I didn't get any chocolate on my clothes or the carpet! Mom will be proud and will think back to all the times I got grated cheese all over the counter and floor as a wee lass at home (or a teen, really). Danila was pretty tidy too. Now for some more clean-up.....

Tuesday, November 28


Karen, one of my best friends, was here this weekend in Pittsburgh. It's an understatement to say that it was good to see her and spend quality time together. We never know when we'll see each other next, but the Lord has been pleased to work it out so that we see each other once, maybe twice a year. We've been friends for six and a half years, ever since we were on the RP Missions trip to Airdrie, Scotland in 2000. My, how we and our lives have changed since then! (picture taken with tripod and remote shutter release)

"As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens the countenance of his friend." Proverbs 27:17

24 Trailer

You can watch an extended trailer to Season 6 of 24. It looks intense...hopefully not too far out! (haha, like other seasons of 24 haven't been far out.)

My friend Joanne sent me this trailer link. I did not find it of my own accord or skill. Please direct all praise and commendation to her in your comments, and she will blush accordingly (Hi Jo! Is this satisfactory?).

Friday, November 24

Now It's Christmas Time!

Thanksgiving was fun and is now over (pics here). What a year it has been. I've never been more thankful than I have been this year. I've thought on Psalm 66 quite a few times in the last few weeks as I have looked back on this year. The whole Psalm is perfect (I encourage you to read it), and I think on verses 10-12 most often,
"For You, O God, have tested us;
You have refined us as silver is refined.
You brought us into the net;
You laid affliction on our backs.
You have caused men to ride over our heads;
We went through fire and through water;
But You brought us out to rich fulfillment."
Indeed He has. "Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will declare what He has done for my soul." (vs. 16). And because He has, I delight in the life He's given me, in simple things such as decorating for Christmas. I put up three trees today in my apartment dressed with old and new ornaments. Some are from my childhood and some are as recent as last week's purchase at Pottery Barn (with some surprisingly reasonable prices).

Some of my favorite ornaments are (you can see me reflected in the first one):

From my parents (found in Oregon):

Lastly, an old one from when I was a little girl:

Saturday, November 18

I am around and am learning

I haven't posted a new quiz this week. I am still alive! Just now, I am at the close of one of the first free and quiet evenings I have had in quite some time.

Miscellaneous bits:
1. I am well under way with Christmas shopping. I could possibly be halfway done at this point. What about you? My hope is to decorate my apartment for Christmas on Friday.
2. I made some chili tonight that I looooove. I posted the recipe in the entry below and look forward to lunches and dinners and lunches and dinners of chili in the near future.
3. I am now one of Those People who purchase dog clothing for their (family) dogs. See evidence below. Micah and Asher look quite funny. Too cute! It was a one-time purchase though! I promise. hehe.

4. I have become a fan of Michael Buble's music. Listen to one of my favorites here.
5. What a wonderful time I had last weekend meeting and having lunch with Catherine and Hannah! Catherine made a beautiful lunch for the two of us, and it was a true delight to see them (and Josh) in person after being blog friends for some time. Yes, Reader, that was the very first time we met!

On a more serious note, God pricked my heart this week to consider prayerfully how I can best use my time (evenings, weekends, etc) at this stage of my life. I have been verrry busy the last couple of months and have enjoyed many things. However, that pace can only continue for so long. God has given me direction already in the last few days to be purposeful about what I do in the evenings as I consider my calendar the next couple of months. I've been compelled to remember that while activity and fellowship is great, I personally need a slower pace than having all or nearly all of my evenings booked with something outside of my home, as wonderful as those things might be. I need to pace my self and be at home more than I have been. God lead me as I thought through specific things that I do want to give my time to and also considered what kind of regular down time I need. I have generally been good in my life at not feeling like I have to say 'yes' to everything as is the tendancy, I think, in the church, whether it's related to church or not.

To sum up, below are the items that I have considered so far to be where I primarily want my time during the week to reside:

1. Developing more prayer time (serious weakness, great desire)
2. Auditing a seminary class on the Gospels
3. Seeing my family once a week outside of church
4. Exercising
5. Two evenings a week at home

I really enjoy having people over on the weekend for dinner and prepare as much as I can ahead of time so as to not be rushed that day.

I have benefited greatly from Sabbath rest for seven years (especially while studying for the CPA Exam). It is a haven for me to slow down and enjoy rest in the Lord. However, I don't want to go into the Sabbath worn out and desparate for that rest. I will welcome it either way, but some slowness interspersed in my week would allow me to skip a nap here and there if I am, say, having someone for lunch after church and want to use the afternoon for fellowship. It is a purposeful way for me to honor the Lord on the Sabbath by preparing for the Sabbath. If I run all week and collapse in a fit of nappiness after I get home church and am then too groggy to go to evening church, I am not resting purposefully but out of necessity.
Does that make sense?

Have you yet needed to pray and think through something like that before? Do you need to now?

All-American Chili

This is a blend of Cooking Light, Cook's Illustrated, Charlotte Deibert and me:

All-American Chili

2 cups chopped onion
1 chopped red bell pepper
8 garlic cloves, minced
1 chipotle pepper, chopped (2 if you like it spicy)
2 tablespoons chili powder (I use Ancho chili powder)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 bay leaves
1 pound ground sirloin
8 ounces hot or sweet turkey Italian sausage
1 1/4 cups Merlot or other fruity red wine
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 (15-ounce) cans petite diced tomatoes
2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, to taste
extra brown sugar to taste

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cook onions and red pepper 5 minutes. Add seasonings and cook 5 minutes. Add meats and cook 8 minutes or until sausage and beef are browned, stirring to crumble. Stir in wine, tomatoes, and kidney beans; bring to a boil.

Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally.Uncover and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Discard the bay leaves.

Note: Like most chilis, this version tastes even better the next day. This is due to the chilling and reheating of the chili.

Thursday, November 9

Quiz #8 Answers

The photos in Quiz #8 were pictures of:

Salt-water taffy and coal! Both were taken in Colorado. The coal photo wasn't cropped or enlarged, but the photo above is another one I took which gives context. Anonymous guessed taffy right (com'mon, just write your name. Or else I might not recognize anymore you if you win!), and no one got the coal picture.

Wednesday, November 8

Bird landing

This picture sequence is fascinating! Take a look; it's from a photography forum I visit. Once you get there, click 'New Window' at the beginning of each photo to view full images.

I'll be posting the answer to Quiz #8 tomorrow; get your guesses in while you can!

Tuesday, November 7


I fairly vocal about politics in person, but not really on here. I am, however, sorely disappointed that Rick Santorum lost the seat for PA and that things are shifting toward the Democrats for the Senate. I know I can't fully grasp the consequences of this change in power.

I often read Heart Aflame, which are daily readings from Calvin on the Psalms. A reading from last week was encouraging to me, and it applies to this time with elections:

On Psalm 118:22, "The stone the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone."

David proceeds to repeat, at some length, that it is erroneous to estimate the kingdom of Christ by the sentiments and opinions of men, because, in spite of the opposition of the world, it is erected in an astonishing manner by the invisible power of God. In the meantime, we ought to remember, that all that was accomplished in the person of Christ extends to the gradual development of His kingdom, even until the end of the world. When Christ dwelt on the earth, He was despised by the chief priests; and now, those who call themselves the successors of Peter and Paul, but who are truly Ananiases and Caiaphases, giant-like wage war against the Gospel and the Holy Ghost. Not that this furious rebellion ought to give us any uneasiness: let us rather humbly adore that wonderful power of God which reverses the perverse decisions of the world. If our limited understandings could comprehend the course which God follows for the protection and preservation of His Church, there would be no mention made of a miracle. From this we conclude, that His mode of working is incomprehensible, baffling the understandings of men. But if we call to mind this prophecy, our faith will not fail, but will be more and more confirmed; because, from these things it will the better appear that the kingdom of Christ does not depend upon the favor of men, and that it does not derive its strength from earthly supports, even as He has not attained it by the suffrages of men. If, however, the master-builders build well, the perverseness of those who will not permit themselves to be appropriated to the sacred edifice will be so much the less excusable. Moreover, as often as we shall, by this species of temptation, be put to the trial, let us not forget that it is unreasonable to expect that the Church must be governed according to our understanding of matters, but that we are ignorant of the government of it, inasmuch as that which is miraculous surpasses our comprehension.
God is building His kingdom in ways seen and unseen by us. We are not left without responsibility to honor and proclaim His name, and while we await the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, we can rest knowing that it is God who builds His church and is not twarted by legislation or earthly judgments. I'm so thankful that, as Calvin said, the kingdom of Christ does not depend on the favor of men!

"But the Lord will scorn them all; He will laugh who sits on high." (Psalm 2)

Saturday, November 4


The circus was great fun! Pictures can be found here. Have you ever gone to a circus?

Thursday, November 2

Wednesday, November 1

Playing around and other ramblings

I bought and arranged some flowers tonight and took out my tripod, remote shutter release and of course my camera and "wasted" about an hour whilst I could have been doing some other productive things. See? You get to benefit from it! For those who have a mild interest in photography, the first picture was exposed for 15 seconds and second picture for 3.2 seconds. And for the VERY few who have an interest in accounting, that is indeed an old book called Accounting Concepts at the bottom of the stack which I have not read and do not plan to read. The first is Frankenstein, one of my favorite novels, and the middle is Mrs. Mike, which I greatly enjoyed as did my mom. Now I know you wanted to know those particulars! Look, this turned into a book recommendation post.

On a more exciting note, I just got back from a trip to Colorado the other night. I had a great time seeing the many beauties of the state (including sunshine. Yay for being back in dreary PA!) and eating several meals of marinated chicken, rice, salsa, sour cream, black beans, and guacamole. I was quite content. Pictures are in my albums link to the left.

One last recommendation is a fun board game called "Loaded Questions". I have played it with several different groups recently
(5-6 people each) and have received rave reviews of how much the game was enjoyed. It was most recently played at our Reformation Day Pizza & Game night at church yesterday evening.

Oh! One more thing. The random comments have yet to end. I am going to the Ringling Brothers circus tomorrow with my family! I am really excited, particularly since I thought they might have moved by now to Oregon and we would never get to go again together. I grew up going to the circus and only missed a couple of years. Our tradition has been to get Chinese food before the show, so we're doing that too. Yay!