Friday, May 30, 2008

Father's Day Gifts

I had a dream last night in which the perfect Father's Day gift was revealed to me. It was guaranteed to cause swooning and tears of joy by the bucketful.

What was this fabulous gift you ask?


This morning I have racked by brain trying to remember what I was so excited about but the notion eludes me.

What could it be?

A tie that doubles as a weed whacker?

A nuclear-powered coffee mug?

Maybe an all-expenses paid trip to Timbuktu?

Somebody help me! I need ideas for Father's Day gifts in case I never remember what I dreamed.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

And the vocabulary word of the day is:


N, meaning: things thrown out or away; especially, things excreted by a living organism.

as spoken by Remy the rat in "Ratatouille"
"You're in Paris now, baby. My town. No brother of mine eats rejectamenta in my town."

I tell you, those Disney/Pixar people are amazing!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Zebra Brownies

I made brownies like this for a co-workers' last day (though didn't have the presence of mind to take my own pictures so I borrowed this one. Trust me. They look like this). Everybody has liked them so far, though they gave me quite a hard time wanting to stick to the bottom of the pan. I used a smaller pan and doubled the cooking time.

I left them out to cool overnight and when I woke up, Steve had eaten two.I haven't tried them yet but I can see myself heading in that direction.

ZEBRA BROWNIES (recipe courtesy of

1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 egg

2 c. sugar
2 sticks butter, softened
1 1/4 c. flour
3 eggs
6 tbsp. cocoa
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine all brownie ingredients and mix well (about 1 minute on high speed). Set aside.

In small bowl blend all filling ingredients at medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute.

Grease bottom only of 13 x 9 inch pan. Spread 1/2 of brownie batter in pan. (this is easier said than done-batter is extremely sticky). Pour cream cheese mixture over batter, spreading to cover. Place spoonfuls of remaining batter on top of cream cheese. Marble by pulling knife through batter in wide curves, then turn pan and repeat.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Cool. Then refrigerate at least 2 hours before cutting (I do it overnight). Cover tightly and store in refrigerator.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Thank God for Our Soldiers

I just thought I'd tell a little about some people I know that have served in the military.

Of course, I have to start with my dad. He was drafted during the Vietnam War and was stationed in Korea. He never had to be involved in any fighting, a fact for which we are grateful. He worked as an automobile mechanic.

My uncle, Shelby Ferguson, was in France during World War II. All I know about the time he served is that he worked in "refrigeration." Once I got a little older and more interested in learning about this, I learned that he worked on a team that drove a refrigerated truck filled with blood available for transfusions. You can read a little more about it here. He has since passed away.

My husband's former pastor, Haskell Malone, served during the Korean War. He was taken as a Prisoner of War and kept for three years in horrendous conditions. His testimony is amazing to hear. I'll post it here at a later date. He has also passed away.

A member of our church, Jim Greer, was in World War II. He was in Ardennes during the Battle of the Bulge. America lost more than 19,000 soldiers there, but Mr. Jim survived to tell about it. He's still going strong at 85.

Thank God for our soldiers. I don't think we fully realize just how much they sacrifice so that we can be free.

If you have served or are a family member, friend, loved one of a soldier, thank you, thank you, thank you.

Happy Memorial Day!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Happy Birthday, Daddy!

My dad turns 63 today! I couldn't have asked for a more loving and devoted father.

My parents used to take turns reading my siblings and I stories at bedtime. My mom always read "Little House" books which we loved. My dad, on the other hand, read us arch books, which are Bible stories set in rhyme (which we also loved). He always sang rather than read them, usually with us singing along at the top of our lungs and yelling the words down the stairs to our mom. Quite a nice bedtime experience.

The picture above is from my husband's recent graduation. My parents drove 12 hours to get here! One beautiful thing about my parents is that they accepted Steve as family very quickly (once they got over the fact that their oldest daughter was getting married at 18...)

My father has worked his tail off to provide for his family, paying for college, weddings, taking care of grandchildren, and spoiling us all. He has a tender heart and and has never met a stranger. We used to tease him about saying "It's a beautiful day" to everyone on the street, but he could almost always get a smile and a response from people. Remind me to tell you about the ranger :) Nevermind, I'll tell you now. (*)

He has his mother's heart (more about Grandma later) and he always made her proud. He has child-like enthusiasm about learning and nature and the world. It's always a pleasure to get a call from him and find out what new things excite him. He was just diagnosed with glaucoma, and instead of being upset about the results, he asked the nurse at the eye specialist's office for a copy of his eye image because, as he put it, "the eyes are amazing!" He sees God's hand in everything.

I love my dad dearly and I strive to be more like him.

Happy Birthday, Dad!

(*) Once upon a time we were camping. We were, of course, eating s'mores. The ranger was driving through the campsite checking things out and my dad thought, "Hey! I'll go talk to the ranger!" So he made his way over, and they talked a bit. About what, I'll probably never know. When he turned back towards us, he had marshmallow stings hanging all over his beard. That poor ranger somehow managed to keep a straight face and not call for backup taking down some loon foaming at the mouth in his campsite. So from here on out, whenever my dad has anything on his face, his ever-so-loving family will tell him, "Don't go talk to the ranger!"

Friday, May 23, 2008

Not Jacquline, Please

I've developed a bit of a reputation at my job as a go-to gal. If you want something done, go see Sarah! She'll take care of everything. As a result, people call the office asking for me, my bosses call me constantly, my co-workers hound me mercilessly. This has made me absolutely dread the sound of my own name.

Therefore, as of this moment, I am renouncing my name. Henceforth I shall be known as Petunia. That is all.

Except for my loathing for the name "Jacqueline." If your name is Jacqueline, please don't hate me, but change your name, for Pete's sake! More on this later, if I can work up enough energy.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


The vocabulary word for today is


as in "Why don't you go eat a decroded piece of crap?" as uttered by Napoleon Dynamite in the movie of the same name.

I love this word! I was never able to decipher what he was saying until I watched the movie for about the thousandth time, this time with the captions on. I really hope this word catches on as I'm sure I'll be saying it quite often from now on. At least until a better word comes along.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Mmm, strawberries

I had some strawberries left over from a treat I baked for the church and dehydrated them, thinking they'd make a good, healthy snack. They sat. And sat some more. (While I devoured bag after bag of chocolate covered pretzels, thanks a lot, Steve.) Finally, not wanting to throw out perfectly good strawberries (that cost quite a bit, I might add) I went surfing for a good strawberry muffin recipe. I also wanted to try out my new Wilton jumbo muffin tin.

So here, without further ado, is the recipe for delicious strawberry muffins courtesy of (with just a few tweaks)

2 cups flour
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp sugar, divided
1 egg
1 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil or melted, cooled butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp strawberry extract
1 cup dehydrated strawberries, chopped (or fresh, if you like)
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease 12-cup muffin pan. Combine dry ingredients, flour, baking powder, salt and 1/2 cup sugar with a wire whisk. In a separate bowl, combine wet ingredients, egg, oil and extract. Add strawberries. Combine wet and dry ingredients only until moistened. Spoon batter* into muffin cups. Combine remaining sugar with cinnamon and sprinkle over batter. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

***If you're using dehydrated strawberries, you'll want to let them sit in with the liquid ingredients for a minute or two.

*For huge muffins only fill 6 to 7 muffin cups.
For large muffins fill only 9 muffin cups.
For regular to small muffins fill all 12 cups.
Please be sure to half-fill empty muffin cups with water to ensure even baking.

I let these cool in the tin for about a minute and then turned them out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Mr. Brown says it's best to let muffins cool upside-down to prevent them from losing their high crowns.

I love my muffin tin! I try to use Wilton pans whenever possible. Even with me and my messiness, the muffins slid right out without any cursing or crying on my part.

And they taste pretty darn delicious, too.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Writer's block, ugh!

I was on myspace for a while but dumped them to come here. It just seemed a little too much like high school to me.

I had a dream last night that I had a yellow squirrel as a pet. It was sort of animated-like, kind of Walt Disney. Very cuddly, though. I've been wondering about skunks, too. I've heard they're a lot like cats (minus stinky glands, of course).

Maybe this isn't writer's block. Maybe I've just got a really boring life. Nice.

My dad's having some issues with his heart. Left bundle branch block, just like Steven. My dad's dad died of heart disease at age 59. Please keep this situation in prayer.

Wow, I'm not sure how confidential this is, but this is better than therapy! More later...

Currently listening to:

Friday, May 16, 2008

Why PBS is the Best. Site. Ever.

I am totally hooked on this website.


1. Allows you to get rid of your old, outdated, or not-so-favorite books, freeing up valuable real estate on your bookshelf (and helping your oh-so-organized husband retain his sanity.)

2. Free books! What more can I say? All you pay is postage to send a book and receiving one is absolutely free! Free! How many more times can I say FREE!!!

3. Save gas (and headaches caused by trips to the Post Office) by using their printable postage feature. You don't have to leave your house at all! Just wrap the book and send it from your very own mailbox.

4. Keep track of your coveted books using the wishlist feature. Once a wanted book is posted into the site, it will automatically be requested for you. A lazy gal's dream!

5. And finally, the reason for this blog...refer friends (or enemies, I don't care) and once they post their first ten books, you get a free credit! Woot!

clicky, clicky now!

READ, People!

p.s. this site has expanded and now includes DVDs and CD's (click the link in my left column for more info...)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Pet Search 2

6. Rabbit
Cute and cuddly, long ears and a wiggly nose? That's why I married Steve!

7. Chinchilla
These guys are just adorable. So soft you wouldn't believe it. However, they are incredibly expensive. I've read that this is because when you purchase one, you're actually paying for the pelt. Apparently they're pretty popular for clothing, coats, and even blankets!

8. Hamster
Little, cute, dead in a year. Or, in my case, found dead, stiff as a board, inside a box fan. Cause of death? Apparent electrocution.

9. Pot Bellied Pig
Cute but smelly. I can't imagine this as a cuddly pet. Aren't their bristles a little rough?

10. Mouse
Hmm, this could be interesting. Why would I try ever so hard to keep mice OUT of my house and then keep one as a pet? People are weird.

The Pet Search Continues...

and here are a few that have been recommended...let's hope I can narrow it down soon.

1. Guinea Pig
Hmmm, the only thing that disturbs me is their teeny tiny lifespan. As soon as I start to get attached to it, it'll surely die.

2. Rat
I'm a little freaked out by the long, worm-like tails...

3. Garter Snake
An unfortunate incident during a Girl Scout meeting has somewhat diminished my love and respect for all things serpent. I smell a reminiscent blog.

4. Red Cherry Shrimp
How this qualifies as a good pet is beyond me. Shrimps is for eatin, not for petting.

5. Ferret
Incredibly cute and incredibly smelly. It was difficult to leave the pet store today after watching them play for a while. They remind me of my kitties back home in Michigan and how they used to chase each other around the house and play fight. Sigh, tear.
Then again, I did have a family member who kept ferrets and they stunk to high heaven. High heaven? Well, they just smelled bad.

Think, think, think.

Tons more suggestions to ponder. More later...

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Deer in the Headlights

My husband and I are weird, yes I know this. We have this thing where we'll just be sitting together, minding our own business, or maybe he'll just walk through the room where I happen to be and then it happens. He turns into a deer in the headlights. He'll just look at me with this wide-eyed, terrified look and I'll know, I've got to chase him. He's the antelope, I'm the lion and I've got to catch him or die trying.

See? Weird, I told you.

So anyway, the other day, he was getting ready to take a nap (in between church services on Sunday...preaching really takes it out of you) when suddenly, I became the antelope. So I fly off the couch and start running with all my might when the lion suddenly leaps and tackles me on the floor of our recently emptied dining room. I landed hard on my hip and now have a ginormous bruise to show for it. Or not to show, I AM a little modest. I'd take a picture to share with the world if I weren't so dern modest...poor little antelope.

Friday, May 2, 2008


I just finished the His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman and I'm disappointed.

I always get excited about books that are controversial (ie, Harry Potter, banned books) but this was a bit of a letdown. I guess that's what I get for reading a controversial book for the sake of controversy.

Here's the controversy (this book is bad news, man): he states that God was created as an angel out of Dust (which represents Original Sin) and became the "Authority" by telling all the angels created after that he had created them. He set himself up in the Kingdom of Heaven as a fraud posing as God. Pullman states that God is a metaphor, however, he calls God by name in the books: "The Authority, God, the Creator, the Lord, Yahweh, El, Adonai, the King, the Father, the Almighty—those were all names he gave himself. He was never the creator. He was an angel like ourselves—the first angel, true, the most powerful, but he was formed of Dust as we are, and Dust is only a name for what happens when matter begins to understand itself. Matter loves matter. It seeks to know more about itself, and Dust is formed. The first angels condensed out of Dust, and the Authority was the first of all. He told those who came after him that he had created them, but it was a lie. One of those who came later was wiser than he was, and she found out the truth, so he banished her. We serve her still. And the Authority still reigns in the Kingdom, and Metatron is his Regent." --The Amber Spyglass

Not that I think anyone is going to read this book and take it as the gospel truth. It's clear it's meant to be a work of fiction and nothing more. It's just a bit scary that anyone has the audacity to make such claims. I'd be a little scared of being struck with lightening or something. But, I guess if you don't believe in God, or that he's nothing but a "metaphor" you don't really have anything to worry about.

For a pretty good interview, click here.

To be honest, the book is poorly written in my not so humble opinion. It was just plain boring and I had a really hard time finishing it. The ending is anticlimactic and doesn't really wrap things up properly.

On a side note, READ, PEOPLE! I never would have found The Catcher in the Rye if it hadn't been for the ALA's Banned Books List.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Regarding the Perfect Steak

At the risk of being sued, here is the recipe for the perfect steak, courtesy of Alton Brown (he's my hero!)

Use any kind you like (i get the inch or so thick ones from sam's)

Rub each side with oil-be sure to use oil that has a high smoke-point (i use peanut)

Sprinkle each side with salt and pepper (mr. brown recommends kosher salt)

Preheat oven to 500 and put your cast iron skillet in.

Once it's hotter than the devil's eyebrows, pull it out of the oven (with an oven mitt, please) and put it over a burner set to high heat.

Put your steaks in the pan and sear each side for 30 seconds.

Immediately put skillet in the oven and cook each side for 3 minutes.

Remove from oven and set on a plate, elevated (put a bowl upside-down on top of a large plate and lean the steaks against the bowl-mr. brown says this keeps the crusty goodness from dissolving in the steaks juices)

Let it rest for a few minutes, covered with aluminum foil, before devouring it like your life depends on it.

(this is especially tasty when served with twice baked potatoes and cali-blend veggies)