Friday, September 26, 2008

Need a Cake?

Note to readers:

If you are a boy, and are reading this, it is really a girly posting. If you are a girl, and are going to be offended by pictures of a lingerie cake, you probably shouldn't read this. These are not inappropriate, they are just clean, fun cakes for a soon-to-be bride, all in good taste. I think that bachelorette parties / lingerie showers should be God honoring, not trashy, and in celebration of someone entering in to marriage. But I don't know who all reads this blog, and didn't want anyone who does't know me to get the wrong idea, so just consider yourself warned.

I have had the chance to make the cakes for a few of my friend's lingerie showers, and it was really fun. How come I seem to only be good at women's intamite apparel when it comes to cakes? I feel like these ones look better than the ones I did in cake class, which seemed a lot more sloppy. These have lost of decorations though, which conveniently hides and non-smooth surfaces.

So, if anyone has a friend's shower coming up, and would like me to make a cake, let me know. Greg's hoping my cake business will take off so he can take next year off. These are cut out of regular rectangle cake pans, so I can do different designs, and different colors too. I will obviously not do anything distasteful. Here are the pictures of the cakes I have made so far. I need to get a little faster at making these. They take a LONG time. And the last one I attempted to make while watching the season premier of the Office, so that probably made me even slower. I think I need to re-watch the Office to see if I missed anything.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Recipes, Housekeeping, and Coupons

I tried this recipe tonight and it came out great. I found it in while flipping through Good Housekeeping in the waiting room of the dentist office. Then I went home and found it on their website. This was interesting because last week I got one of those coupons from Kroger that is printed out with your receipt, for a free 1 year prescription to Good Housekeeping. At first I thought NO...I cannot get that. Only moms are allowed to read that. I have a few more years before I can have one in my home. But then after realizing they have recipes in them, I thought hmmm....might be a good idea. I made Greg review the coupon and scan it for fine print, asterisks, and ambiguous binding contracts. He declared it scam-free so I mailed it in. I am now looking forward to reading up on some home tips and new recipes.

Speaking of coupons, does anyone cut coupons? Is it worth it? Abby mentioned in her blog recently that she started clipping some coupons and was pleased with the savings. A few weeks before that I had purchased the Sunday paper to do a little coupon experiment to find out if they are worth it. I excitedly sat down with the paper and a pair of scissors, eagerly looking forward to hours of coupon cutting bliss. I was disappointed to find few usable coupons. Most of the grocery inserts were just advertisements. Like, get excited, red seedless grapes for $2.99 a lb. No, I am not excited about that. That is not a pretty little coupon with dashed lines enclosing it that I can cut out. That is not helpful at all. I go to the same store for grocery shopping, and I just look at the prices of food when I'm there and decide whether or not it is worth it. I do not need to look through non-coupons before I go. Maybe it was just a bad week for the coupon section in the Chronicle. If anyone has good coupon tips, please let me know. I think I will try again, and see how it goes. Sometimes Kroger mails me coupons, and they are really good ones so I love using those. But those don't come that often so I need a better source of coupons.

Ok here is the recipe. And it is great because it is a recipe for the full meal.

Almond Crusted Tilapia

2 lemons
2 tablespoon(s) olive oil
1/2 teaspoon(s)salt
1/4 teaspoon(s) coarsely ground black pepper
4 (6 ounces each) tilapia fillets
1/4 cup(s) sliced natural almonds
1 small onion, chopped
1 bag(s)(12-ounce) trimmed fresh green beans
1 package(s) (10-ounce) sliced white mushrooms
2 tablespoon(s) water

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. From 1 lemon, grate 1 teaspoon peel and squeeze 3 tablespoons juice; cut second lemon into wedges. In cup, mix lemon peel and 1 tablespoon juice, 1 tablespoon oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper.

Spray 13" by 9" glass baking dish with nonstick spray; place tilapia, dark side down, in dish. Drizzle tilapia with lemon mixture; top with almonds, pressing them on. Bake 15 minutes or until tilapia turns opaque.

Meanwhile, in 12-inch skillet, heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil on medium-high 1 minute. Add onion and cook 5 to 6 minutes or until golden, stirring occasionally. Stir in green beans, mushrooms, water, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper. Cook about 6 minutes or until most of liquid evaporates and green beans are tender-crisp. Toss with remaining 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Serve bean mixture and lemon wedges with tilapia.

* Instead of the lemon mixture on the beans & mushrooms, I added 1/2 tbsp. of worcestershire, 1/2 tbsp. of soy sauce, and 1/2 tbsp. of sesame oil. Mmmmm!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Comfort After The Storm

I continue to see more and more effects of Hurricane Ike. Hearing stories and seeing the damage makes it so real. Greg and I continue to thank God for His protection and blessing on our lives. We have been so fortunate and so blessed that we did not suffer any damage or loss during Ike. But so many people did. I keep thinking of all the people who lived in Galveston, whose lives are now turned upside down. Who knows when things will ever go back to normal. And "normal" will look completely different for so many people.

The comfort in all of this is that God knew every single effect of the Hurricane before he even formed it. He has purposes that we know nothing of. We don't understand it, but we serve a supreme, all-powerful, all-knowing God who knows all events, all results, all hearts, all thoughts from eternity past to eternity future.

I came across some verses tonight that made me think about the people that are suffering as a result of Hurricane Ike. Paul writes a letter to the church in Corinth, and tells them how God is the God of comfort.

"For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows." 1 cor 1:5

When I first think of sufferings of Christ, I think of suffering by persecution, from sharing the gospel. And even though suffering from Ike is a different kind of suffering, it is still suffering (and God ordained for the benefit of believers), and our comfort still comes through Christ.

Also, I thought this verse was really good. "Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead." 1 Cor 1:9

A storm of this size proves that we cannot rely on ourselves. We can't build things that will last forever. We can't control circumstances. God is in control. He reveals himself through nature. It even makes me sort of laugh when we watch the forecasted eye path a week before the storm hits. Not because the forecasters aren't smart, but even with the best technology, all we can do is GUESS at what God is planning. He alone is sovereign.

I continue to pray for people affected by the storm (Sidebar: does anyone really know when to use affect vs. effect? I flip a coin every time. Sorry teachers.) But our God is the one who brings life from death. Freedom from captivity. Salvation to sinners. Healing from sickness. Joy from sadness. Comfort from a storm.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

How To Get Your Husband To Do Crafts With You

If you are feeling crafty, and want your husband to participate in crafts with you, work on something he loves. In Greg's case: flys. They are actually really pretty, with very intricate details. Here is a picture of one I found on the internet to give you an idea.

They are all different though - made to look like different kinds of bugs, flys, and small fish. Here are the homemade flys that Greg and I made today. This one is called Fuzzy Pop.

This one is Sassy Bassy.

This one is the Pink Prince.

This one is Lil' Stinger.

Now I will be really excited if these actually catch fish! I will post the results after we use these.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Surviving Ike

Ike has come and gone. Thankfully we are safe and didn't get any damage. The winds were really strong though and woke us so many times, with electricity off most of the night. It came on this morning, which is amazing because I think most of Houston is still without electricity. We are still waiting for the water to come back on, and getting stinkier by the minute. I am thinking about dousing my whole body in coco-butter scented hand sanitizer.

We walked and drove around this afternoon to document the effects of Ike. Here are some pictures, all within a mile of our place.

The tree was resting on the power lines....not good.

There were so many trees down in the neighborhoods near us. Lots of people were out there with rakes cleaning up the mess. We just found out that there is a city curfew from 7pm to 6am. We were going to have a hurricane party at our place but due to the curfew (and no water), we can't. So we will have to find other ways of entertaining ourselves. Here are some things we have done this weekend:

Played 3 games pool (at our apt. complex)
Played Mario Kart
Watched about 4 episodes of 24
Went on multiple walks
Played cards
Drove around
Attempted to go fishing but the security guard wouldn't let us
Cleaned house

Tonight will probably include a couple more episodes of 24 and some chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream :)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Let's Hunker Down Folks

Today, at 10:00 AM I am blogging...from home. Yippee! We just got sent home from work. They had to shut down the system to back it up, which means no one can do any work. The office officially closed at 11:00AM, but everyone was told to leave as soon as their desk was cleared off. While I am hoping Ike will avoid us, I am extremely excited for the days off. I don't think any work was getting done in our office anyway. We were probably overloading the internet server with everyone refreshing the projected paths in 5 minute intervals.

Now thanks to Ike I have a 4 day weekend. But it is a big storm and could possibly cause lots of damage. I am praying that it would be in God's sovereign hands. Also, I am praying for Jenny and Bonnie's weddings, which are this Saturday! My friend Lindsy is getting married on Saturday too (which we are unable to attend), but hers is in Dallas so hopefully the effects won't be so bad. I am just praying that no matter what happens, all 3 brides will have a wonderful, special wedding day they will enjoy, even if it is not exactly as planned.

So what does one do for the rest of the day to prepare for a hurricane? Well I was going to do all of our laundry and dishes so that if they electricity did go out tomorrow night, at least we would have clean underwear. I divided the laundry into color sorted piles, then went to put the first load in. The washing machine won't start. Hmmm. No water. I go to the sink. No water. How is this happening already? I am hoping it is just a fluke and comes back on soon. But now I am trying to decide what to do. It is very pretty outside. I am considering putting on my swimsuit, grabbing a book, and going out by our pool. Would that be ridiculous? Or just plain fun? Hopefully they don't have to ask me to get off the lounge chair so they can put it all away.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Adventures in Fishing

The other weekend we went on a little fishing adventure in Katy. Greg found some lakes and creeks so we brought our poles and a picnic lunch and headed out. This was Greg's first time to use his new fly rod. Fly fishing is all he has been talking about for weeks. He has been searching ebay auctions for flys. Making me quiz him with name-that-fly. We just watched a River Runs through it. Has anyone passed by a field and seen a man standing on the 30 yard line practicing casting a fly rod? That would be my husband. So I'm glad he finally got a chance to use it. We only caught one fish each, but it was fun, and we will definitely be going back to find more lakes. Here I am trying catch us some dinner.

Here is Greg's catch - an infant perch. I caught the same thing.

In case it is too microscopic to make out in the picture, here is my catch on the 5x zoom.

At some point in our trip, I contracted poison ivy on my ankle. Poop buckets. The only good thing about poison ivy is that it is an excellent threat to your husband when he has you in a headlock. It is like the secret weapon. "Keep it up and I will rub my poison ivy all over your whole body and face." It would be the best special power in Mario Kart. Bowser may have the spiky turtle shell but you have poison ivy. Anyone who rams into you or that gets rammed into, will immediately begin itching all over, rendering them temporarily useless and unable to drive.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Unlock the Magic

And then devour the magic.

Thanks to my friend Katie, I discovered these delicious beauties. She made them once and they were sooo good. I looked up the recipe on the internet and made these last week. Can't wait to make them again!

Oreo Balls

1 package regular size Oreo cookies, crushed
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 package white almond bark
1 package chocolate almond bark

Using a blender or hand held mixer, mix Oreos and cream cheese together. Roll into walnut size balls. Chill for an hour.

Melt approximately 3/4 package of white almond bark. Stick a toothpick in an Oreo ball and dip it in the melted white almond bark. Allow to harden on wax paper. While waiting, melt about 1/4 package of chocolate almond bark. When Oreo balls are no longer sticky to the touch, decorate with drizzles of chocolate and white almond bark.

*Pictures by Greg :)