Friday, November 28, 2008

Friday Find #9: Cool Gifts for Teens and Tweens

I shutter. Gifts for teens and tweens is probably the hardest category... so to help you out, I've got three cool ideas...

1. Gift idea #1: 2009 Bubble Calendar -- Can you imagine how fun this will be to pop each day? I might need one for myself, because nothing says stress relief like bubble wrap and this might just be a stress preventer... one pop a day!!! Total cost... $30 + S/H

2. Gift idea #2: iPod to iPod Transfer -- Now, THIS is cool. (sorry -- no picture) Ever want to transfer songs from one ipod to another? Now all you need is this handy dandy ipod transfer gizmo. Cool, huh?

Not only can you easily transfer music, but videos and pictures from one iPod to another iPod without the use of a computer. It automatically recognizes when you plug in iPods (either Mac or PC formatting) on either end, and it can transfer a three-minute song in five seconds and a 30-minute video in three minutes. 3/4" H x 2 1/4" W x 3 1/2" D. (2 oz.) $99.95 + S/H

3. Cool shirts that ROCK C28 is the coolest store, HANDS DOWN, for Christian tees and other clothing for the young at heart. Seriously... my sister-in-law introduced me to this site last year, and i have since searched and searched, but haven't found another site nearly as cool. Why, it's practically a one stop shop for teens young adults. They have hoodies, t-shirts, button downs, thermals, pants, shoes, jewelry, music (oh, you know that ear-bleeding music young people listen to? Wish you could find a Christian alternative? They have it!) I'm telling you ... this store is a WINNER. Mark it in your favs.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday Finds #8: Cooking Delights

Good morning! Today I have a fun idea for Christmas gift giving ... affordable, practical, original---ish.

Giving cookbooks as Christmas gifts isn't necessarily an original thought. But... You know how you sometimes get a beautiful cookbook for a gift, open it up, and only find one or three recipes that you actually care for? What a waste of a gift... and how disappointing if you're the one that GAVE that gift to someone. Well. This year, try putting together your own cookbook for a Christmas gift!? A book with a collection of your own favorite recipes and tried-and-true recipes from other sources.

There are many sites that can make this dream ... the one of actually seeing your name in a book that you created ... next to a recipe you love ... a reality. They all offer pretty much the same thing, just different sizes and prices: you can use your own customizable recipes, or selected recipes from their site or others; standard, easy page layouts; standard covers to choose from; most places let you choose from hardback cover or softback cover (a more economical choice, which allows you to get duplicates, if you're planning on mass producing these as gifts).

Drawbacks: You will probably have to create an account or become a member (free) which means that unless you're already a member, you'll begin getting emails from them (which you can opt out of, too).

My favorite place is Tastebook. You can grab recipes from tons of different places with a click of your mouse... Cooking Light, Food and Wine, My Recipes, Food Network, Recipe Zaar, All Recipes, Better Homes and Gardens, Better Recipes, Southern Living, Simply Recipes, Epicurious, Bon Apetit Recipes, and more. Also, they print the books with a spine that allows you to add pages even after your book has been printed (very clever)! They print them beautifully and mail them to you and you just add it to your book.

Other places you can visit to decide which one will work out best for you are:

Kraft Foods (very, VERY easy to use)
Create My Cookbook

It's a good find for a Friday! You can spend the weekend playing, and create a Christmas gift all at the same time! Yay!

Have an awesome and warm weekend... and ... 4 more Fridays until Christmas Week!!!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Friday Finds #7: Practical Backup Solutions

Click HERE for my "Holiday Cooking, Blogger Style" recipes!

Good morning!

I have a practical Friday Find for you. This comes from first-hand experience of having my computer crash on me numerous times, as I'm sure has happened to you, as well.

So, in honor of crashing computers, today's Friday Find is practical, and has been around a while, it just deserves repeating and reminding everyone about it... The Portable Hard Drive. Perfect for the Christmas List, the stocking stuffer, or just for yourself.

Gadget: Portable Hard Drive -- The one I purchased was the Simpletech Signature Mini Portable 120GB Hard Drive - USB 2.0 in Espresso. I selected this one because it is only 3" x 5" x 0.625' -- small enough to fit in my purse and take back and forth to work every day. I can store 30 two-hour DVD-quality movies, OR 120 hours of VHS-quality video, OR 82 days of around-the-clock MP3 audio, OR 30,000 vivid digital photos, OR 170 action-packed games!

I'm trying to figure out when I'd ever have 30,000 photos... but right now, this little gadget fits my needs.

One last comment ... don't fully rely on an external hard drive as your one and only safety net to save your precious photos and documents. Please back things up on DVD also... one way you can do this is by uploading your photos for print at Costco (or your place of choice), and having them burn them on a CD/DVD -- it's a nominal cost (like under $3.00!) per CD.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Holiday Cooking, Blogger Style

Click HERE for Friday Finds!

It's the most wonderful time... of they year!!!

I love Thanksgiving and Christmas... hands down, my favorite holidays of the entire year! I love the happiness, the food, the reasons for the seasons... love it all. And I also love Overwhelmed with Joy's holiday tradition... Holiday Cooking, Blogger Style! So if you have a recipe to share, hop on over and link up, then read up on all the great recipes!

This year, I have two new recipes to share!

The first one is a Cooking Light recipe, a deep soul-warming soup called Golden Winter Soup. It has the delicious combination of leeks and potatoes, with the extra sweet surprise of butternut squash. A great soup for Thanksgiving! (picture taken from My Recipes)

Prep Notes: This recipe instructs that you use a blender to puree the soup. I do not have a blender, so I used my food processor in smaller batches, and it worked just fine. A potato masher, however, will NOT work, because the broth and starchy vegetables really need to be emulsified nicely in order to obtain its creamy texture.


2 tablespoons butter
5 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds)
2 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled russet potato (about 12 ounces)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups sliced leek (about 2 medium)
4 chicken broth
1 cup half-and-half
3 tablespoons chopped chives (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper (optional)


1. Melt butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add squash, potato, salt, and pepper to pan; sauté 3 minutes. Add leek; sauté 1 minute. Stir in broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until potato is tender, stirring occasionally.

2. Place half of potato mixture in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Pour into a large bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining potato mixture. Return mixture to Dutch oven, and stir in half-and-half. Cover and keep warm.

3. Ladle 1 cup soup into each of 8 bowls; top each serving with about 1 teaspoon chives. Garnish with freshly ground black pepper, if desired.

And now, one of my new favorites... Apple Pie Bars from Taste of Home -- ohmygoodness they are yummy! They have a rich apple taste, and they are the perfect dessert for pot-lucks, church dinners, and dinners to share with neighbors or for shut-ins. The recipe yields a lot, but none will be left!

Prep Notes: The dough is a bit tricky, as it is very crumbly, so if you are a novice baker, might I recommend the pre-made pie dough they sell in rolls? Otherwise, you will want to use the dough recipe provided as it has a nice texture-flavor thing going on! Also, I used a small pizza dough rolling pin to roll it into the pan because I found it to be so crumbly. You might want to try rolling the top crust out in several pieces to make it easier to handle. Finally: this is a forgiving recipe, so if you "forget" (ehem!) certain ingredients (like the crisp rice cereal) it will still work. The rice cereal is a thickening agent, and I don't recommend you skip it on purpose. Only if you're slightly distracted by a three year old that has been screaming in the background for over a half hour.


3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups shortening
4 egg yolks, lightly beaten
2/3 cup milk

1 cup crisp rice cereal
8 cups sliced peeled tart apples (about 9 medium)
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon apple pie (or pumpkin pie) spice or all spice
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 egg whites, lightly beaten

1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons milk

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt; cut in the shortening until crumbly. Combine egg yolks and milk; gradually add to crumb mixture, tossing with a fork until dough forms a ball. Divide in half. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

On a lightly floured surface, roll each portion into a 15-in. x 10-in. rectangle. Spritz some Pam in a 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in baking pan and place one rectangle in the pan; sprinkle with crisp rice cereal (see prep notes above).

Arrange apples over cereal. In a bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon and apple pie spice; sprinkle over apples. Top with remaining pastry; cut slits in top. Brush with egg whites.

Bake at 350° for 50-55 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely on a wire rack. In a bowl, combine confectioners' sugar and enough milk to achieve a thick drizzling consistency. Drizzle over bars. Store in the refrigerator. Yield: 3-4 dozen.

Monday, November 03, 2008

I'm DONE with it!

Politics... Again. Sorry. Bear with me.

I am SICK TO DEATH of this entire election process. Here are some things that I'm particularly sick of...

I'm sick to death of the childish antics Obama supporters have regressed to when they came ONTO MY PROPERTY to steal my McCain / Palin sign... along with hundreds of other people's signs. My street alone has had a MINIMUM of 6 signs stolen alone.

1. We're not doing it to you...
- and I can say this simply because all the Obama signs in my neighborhood are
still standing.
3. It is rude
4. Offering FREE PIZZA for stolen signs is a cheap shot
- stand up and fight your battles the right way and VOTE.
5. Did I mention... we're not doing it to you???

I'm sick to death of stuff like THIS, where Obama flips McCain the bird in a speech. I know -- it isn't CLEAR that he did, but you decide.

I'm sick to death of Angry People.

I'm sick to death of marxist threats to shut down our power plants by bankrupting them ... why? So government can hold the "solution" and "come to every one's rescue"??

I'm sick to death of Fashion Critics. WHO CARES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What about the issues?!?!?

I'm sick to death of "Stage Men" -- Hispanic Democrats are NOT for Obama... even in his own home town. Actions speak louder than words, and Latinos who supported Hillary will be voting McCain / Palin. The Hispanics have sent a message ... Obama is not applying for American Idol!

And I'm outraged by certain... people in association with the Democratic Candidate ... that the media doesn't care to discuss. Appalled, in fact. It worries me, and in my mind, brings into question Obama's ability to formulate clear judgment calls if our country is ever attacked again... because I just don't understand how someone can sit for 20 years with a Pastor he calls friend, listen to his radical messages from the pulpit (including profanity, which just blows my mind), and NOT think something is wrong with that... or serve on a board with a man that was a part of a radical underground group that bombed federal buildings. A 50 million dollar grant to improve schools was brought to Chicago by Bill Ayers, and they worked together for 7 years on a board that gave funds to external small schools program like Anenberg Challenge and the Woods Fund?? How do you NOT know someone and what they believe after working with them for 7 years?

How many coincidences can this man have while people turn a blind eye and a deaf ear?

Friends.... obviously, I'm a McCain/Palin supporter -- and while I may not fully agree with his (or her) platform, it is by far, the least threatening, least liberal, least Marxist, and least frightening platform out there.

If you're still unsure on how to vote ... Vote the Word of God.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

What is Change... REALLY?

Friends, before you go off to vote, please consider this letter I got from my mom.

My mother used to live in the Washington, DC Metropolitan area and worked for the Secretary General of the oldest Diplomatic International Organization. She sent me an email last week, and I wanted to share parts of it with you.

She is from Peru, and while she worked for the Diplomatic International Organization, she had the opportunity to work, meet, and see hundreds and hundreds of Cubans who fled their country when Castro turned their Island into a Communist regime. They lived for years and years -- to this day-- with the hope that they will return to their beloved land. They put their trust in John Kennedy and his famous invasion of the Bay of Pigs that never happened, and the rest is history. They are still waiting; in the meantime their country has been destroyed by the false promises of equality and the "redistribution of the wealth" (spreading the wealth around). [Sound familiar?] Their Justice system is a sham, thousands are languishing in jails because they dared to speak up against the government. Everybody is poor, except the ruling class. Havana, is a decrepit old city, people are still crying for freedom, the one we still have here. Cubans are so desperate that they still get into rickety boats in the hope of reaching our coasts. Many perish in their efforts. My mom was born in Peru but "made in the USA." This is her country now. She became a US citizen years ago, and proudly works in the judicial system as a translator. She said, "I don't want to see it [my country] destroyed. Let's continue to pray like never before that God will intervene and save our country by allowing the McCain-Palin ticket to win. What happened in Cuba, could happen here."

Are you ready to cast your vote? Do you know what each candidate stands for? Even if you don't agree with any of them, please ... vote for the lesser of two evils! And pray that God will prevail.

She ended the email with three profound words.

Let's be diligent.