Sunday, March 31, 2013

Bring the Dessert!

So orders the commander-in-chief (my mother) at command central (her home) relative to the extended family Easter dinner.  Where is daughter Sarah, the most excellent family baker, when I need her?  Way out in Ohio, of course.

This is what my kitchen looks like after putting together just two desserts for the grand shindig:

Well, minus the apron, minus the high heels, minus the little black dress, minus the silly hat, and minus the goofy and surely-not-helping husband.  Oh, and I do not do pots on the wall, either.  

So anyway, I started with a good old standby, which I adapt for whatever season or holiday I am in.  Back around Halloween, I called these treats "mini monsters" and used tiny edible eyeballs.

I told Brianna and Tori to give me their best monster faces.
Now that it's Spring, I call them "bird nests" and tuck tiny jelly eggs into the nests.

These are so easy to make that I often keep the ingredients on hand, in case I need a very quick make and take dessert.  

Gather up your ingredients:

one bag of chow mein noodles
one 12 oz. bag of semi sweet chocolate bits
small pastel jelly eggs
wax paper


First line a cookie sheet with wax paper.

Place the chocolate bits into a microwave safe bowl and heat on high for 30 second increments, stirring after each, until chocolate is melted.

Once melted, add the chocolate to the noodles and mix until combined.  It will look like a wormy mess.

Drop them by spoonfuls onto the cookie sheet and use your fingers to form them into rough nest shapes.  I dare you not to lick your fingers!

Add some "eggs" to the nests, then refrigerate them to harden them up a bit.

Here they are, all packaged and ready for the mother of all Easter feasts:

Oh, and I made some cupcakes too.

So we are all set and anxious to go pig out visit with family and celebrate the holiday.

Let the festivities begin!  Happy Easter!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

A Tsunami, A Survivor, and a Movie

Our local movie theater, the Campus Theater, had advertised a special program regarding the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.  Last night there was a scheduled showing of the 2012 movie, "The Impossible," preceded by a one hour presentation by a local man who had been there and survived that tsunami.  So we went.

Knowing a bit about the devastation of that earthquake-induced tsunami, I found it a little odd when we took our seats and watched many of the other patrons bringing in their popcorn, and laughing and socializing loudly.  Thinking about the vast loss of human life that had occurred during that catastrophe, I was feeling a bit somber, even though I had not yet seen the movie.

When we entered the theater, we were given a small card that listed some background information and facts about that tsunami to help us understand the extent of the devastation.  Here are some of the numbers:

1.  The energy released by the tsunami was equivalent to 23,000 Heroshima-type atomic bombs.

2. The Indian Ocean tsunami traveled as far as 3,000 miles to Africa and still arrived with sufficient force to kill people and destroy property.

3.   The tsunami resulted in at least 320,000 fatalities, 500,000 injuries, and damages that exceeded $10 billion.

4.  It is estimated that 5 million people lost their homes or access to food and water.

The evening speaker was Karl Purnell, who grew up locally and narrowly survived the tsunami on Phuket Island in Thailand.

He told of arriving there the evening before for a vacation following a long, stressful spell of his job.
The morning the storm hit, he was in a small internet cafe, right on the beach level.  When the first wave washed over the area, he found himself trapped in the small room, with the waters at his feet quickly rising.  The one tiny window in the room was not large enough for his body to escape through, and the door was trapped shut by a large piece of furniture that had washed in front of it.  He felt as though he would certainly die in there.

However, a wave of good luck (in his words) came then, in the form of the second wave surge.  It swept away the item blocking his exit.  He was able to force the door open, and then he swam to the nearest tree and climbed it.

After waiting until the waters calmed, he came back down the tree and swam to where the nearest incline would allow him to move to higher ground.  He had barely survived, although he had lots of bruises and scrapes and a large wound in his arm from something in the rushing waters that punctured into it.

He told of finding his way to the nearest hospital to have his arm treated.  However, when he arrived, he was so overwhelmed by the large piles of dead bodies that were already being brought in and stacked along the walls, and the thousands of injured folks being brought in, that he left.  He went back to that hospital the next day and received the treatment he needed.

The film, then, is a disaster drama thriller based on the true account of Maria Belon and her family's experience of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

The Belon family arrived Christmas eve for a family vacation where their accommodations were upgraded to beachfront at their arrival.  Maria, her husband, and their three sons were playing in the beachfront pool and were all swept away when the tsunami hit.

It's a miraculous and very intense and emotional story, for all five survived and were ultimately reunited.  That's all I will reveal, in case you plan to see the movie.  There is so much more to this movie than that.

Now let me go back and comment more about the speaker.

After his presentation, an audience member asked him how he had come to grips with the fact that his life had been spared.  Had it changed his life?

I must say I was very disappointed in his response.

He didn't say it made him appreciate his family more.
He didn't say he knew God had spared him.
He didn't say perhaps there is a divine plan for the rest of his life.
He didn't express appreciation for the chance to have more years on this earth.
He expressed relief, but not gratefulness.  There is a difference.

What he did say, is that the experience led him to write a book, The Tsunami Principles.  In the book he examines why some people are "more lucky" than others.  He concludes that if you have learned to be a detail-oriented person who takes note of all things in the area around you (he is a journalist), and are realistic about your own self and your abilities, you will most likely survive a disaster.

In his own experience, he had noticed the nearby tree before entering the cafe, he had climbed a lot of trees in his childhood, and he knew he was a good swimmer.  Therefore, he basically gave credit to himself for creating own survival.

Tell that to the thousands of families that lost loved ones.
Explain that to all the parents who lost a young child.

What a disappointment.

Here's my take on it:  How about maybe the God of miracles, the God who is far more powerful than any tsunami anywhere, saved him?

This movie is all about a second chance at life, a new life, in fact.

And isn't that what Easter is really all about?

Friday, March 29, 2013


What do turkeys have to do with a night out at the theater?  Absolutely nothing.  However, I saw the largest flock of turkeys I've ever seen anywhere on my way to pick up grandtwins Tori and Brianna for our evening out on the town.

Usually we always dress up in our finery whenever we go to see a show, but this time, the girls told me they just wanted to stay in their play clothes.  Funny thing, I hadn't wanted to dress up either this time, and so I didn't, even though this is probably the fanciest venue I've taken the girls to yet.

Here they are, all charged up and ready to enter The Weis Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of Bucknell University.

The Weis Center is a beautiful venue, and its yearly schedule of performances typically includes an interesting mix of performers.  Usually there are several shows that offer reduced rates or free access for programs that are labelled family-friendly.  

The girls had never seen professional circus type performers before, so I thought they might enjoy "Circa."  Based in Australia, the Circa performers execute highly connected and often dangerous acrobatic and tumbling sequences.  Circa's signature style combines physical beauty, extraordinary circus skills, and an immersive use of sound, light, and projection.  

As we waited for the show to start, the girls were fascinated with the lit up performance mat down on the stage.

Of course, there were no photos allowed during the performance, but I did find some pictures from the Circa website to share with you of some of their acts.

The girls especially enjoyed a number in which a girl was able to keep five hoola hoops twirling simultaneously.  Another interesting act involved a guy balancing a tall stack of bricks and then doing a handstand on them as he built them into a higher and higher tower.  In yet another amazing act, a girl folded herself into a tiny hoop, got stuck and then ultimately passed herself through it.  

We all enjoyed the show, and afterwards we talked about other upcoming shows in our area.  

I don't recall if I've ever mentioned how much Tori and Brianna love horses or not.  I didn't imagine it could be possible, but they even located some horses along the upper mezzanine in the Weis Center.  For them, finding these horses was the icing on the cake of an already wonderful evening.

Brianna and Tori

As always, we made some good memories together.  
I sure do love those girlies, and we always have a great time together.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Time For Some Words

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you all know how much I love finding new words.

I especially like coming across a word I've never seen before, or a word that has a delightful or surprising meaning, or a word that takes a great amount of bravery in attempting to  pronounce it.

So I've been saving up a few such doozies for you, and it's time to let them loose.

Here they are:

1.  a)  novercaphobia - the fear of one's stepmother

No, I don't experience this type of fear.  I don't have a step-mother.  
My husband came across this word in a book he was reading.

   b)  vitricophobia - the fear of one's stepfather

   c)  pentheraphobia - fear of one's mother-in-law 

Again, I have no symptoms, as I have a wonderful mother-in-law, and we have always got along just fine.

2.  grinagog - one who is constantly grinning 

I don't know if the prince could truly be considered a grinigog, but when he does smile, he's most certainly handsome. 

And, I suppose this skull could be considered to be a grinagog:

3.  uxoricide - the killing of one's own wife

This word appeared as the weird word of the day on an app my husband uses.

4.  beatster - a fishnet repairer

I've been watching the History Channel's mini series "The Bible," and I've wondered a lot about the fisherman Peter and his crew mates.  Those guys lived a very different sort of a lifestyle.

5.  librocubicularist - a person who reads in bed

This word was sent to be by Debbie, a friend who reads my blog and knows I like words.  This word describes me.  I read in bed.  Actually I read a lot.  Anywhere.  Any time.

6.  prestidigitation - manual dexterity in the execution of tricks

I was so excited when I heard this word used several times in the recent "Oz" movie we watched.  However, I was wondering how many of the other movie patrons caught it.

And lastly, the husband/lover/maker-up-of-stuff reminded me that when we are at the beach in May, we will be experiencing the euphoria that comes from the amorphylization of  shellfish.

Now try to find that word in your dictionary!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Easter/Spring Mantel Reveal

It's time to show all of those Spring and Easter crafts I've been working on put in their final places up on our fireplace mantel.  Here's the St. Patrick's Day mantel decor as it was before this latest switcheroo:

Lotta green there.  Now onto the next display, but first, a little of my own philosophy.  

I personally do not think that the message of Easter (new life through Jesus Christ) and the appearance of Spring bunnies, chicks, and eggs needs to be kept separate.  To me it all comes together in the amazing and inspiring reminder of hope and new life.  

Therefore I've collected some of each together on my 2013 Easter/Spring mantel.  

First, let's look at what all will be up there.  If you want to read about how I did the twine wrapped bottles, go here.  Then you can read about my first experience making string eggs in this post.  

Finally, I need to show you the last piece, the centerpiece of the display.  I found a free sign about the meaning of Easter on the internet and printed it out in pastel colors.  

Because I simply printed it out on a flimsy piece of printer paper, I needed to find a way of making it look good enough to be the highlight of all the stuff on the mantel.  

I found a large frame in a color matching the wording of the print, and then I glued strips of colored scrapbook papers on the frame backboard to make somewhat of a mat effect.  

And here it is, front and center.  I like how it is the first thing to draw your eye up there when you enter the room.  I placed some old store-bought spring things that I excavated out of storage on either side.

Here are those twine decorated bottles I recycled.  They kind of give an earthy, natural look to the display, and blend in nicely with the background stones.

On the other side of the mantel is a tree all decked out with those string eggs we had fun making.

And there it is folks:

I'm ready now, in my heart and my home, for the Easter holiday.  May you all enjoy a blessed Easter and Spring with those you love.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Road Trip Part 3: Heading Home

Sunday we began heading home from our weekend road trip, and as on any other Sunday, we tried not to think about the looming Monday.

We didn't want our fun to end too quickly, so we stopped at a movie theater on the way and took in a movie, "Oz The Great and Powerful."

Although we did not see this movie in its available 3-D version, it was still a fun fantasy/adventure film,  filled with loads of stunning visual effects.  If you are planning on seeing it, don't wait to rent it.  My recommendation is to see the 3-D version on the big screen in order to fully enjoy the special effects.

This movie is basically the prequel to "The Wizard of Oz."  Oscar, a small time magician, is storm catapulted into an enchanted land where the folks are convinced he is the one who can deliver them from the evil witch.  He is forced to decide if he will continue to be a con man, or become a good or even great man.

I was amused by the casting, and at first I even found myself unsure of exactly who was the evil witch.

If you've watched a fair amount of movies, the cast members will all feel familiar to you:  James Franco as Oz, Michelle Williams as Glinda the Good Witch, and Rachel Weisz and Mila Kunis as the others.  I won't give any more than that away lest you enter this realm of fantasy yourself.

Be careful if you have young children, though.  This film might be a bit too intense and scary at parts for them.  For us, though, it was a relaxing two hours escaping from this gray and never-ending winter of central Pennsylvania.

We made one last stop before returning home, at the Bamboo Palace in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania for a mid-afternoon Chinese food linner.  We were too late to call it lunch, too early for dinner, but too hungry to wait any longer.  The Bamboo Palace is a tiny little hole in the wall type of place, but makes good Chinese food, primarily for carry-out.

To end this blog post, I thought I'd share with you what I found in the fortune cookie that came with the meal.

Look closely in this next photo, and read the fortune.

Pretty darn appropriate for us at this time of the year, don't you think?

Just an interesting and thoughtful way to end a pleasant road trip, I guess.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Road Trip Part 2: Pet Expo 2013

After the failed Meet and Greet between granddaughter Ellie and the Easter Bunny, we needed to move on to something more fun for her.  We had tickets for the 2013 Pet Expo in Reading, Pennsylvania, and so we left the Easter Bunny in the dust and headed to the pet show.

Guests were allowed to bring their pets along to the show, as long as they were not using retractable leashes, and as long as certain breeds were registered prior to the event.  We literally walked through the building among hundreds of dogs, some as big as small horses.  Yes, this was way more to Ellie's liking.

Although we didn't sit to watch any of the scheduled shows in the main arena, we did take Ellie into the small petting zoo and left her roam to whatever animals caught her fancy.  If the animal or bird was her size or smaller, she liked it.  If it was larger than her, she walked a wide circle around it.  Alpacas were in the scary category.

Ellie got the giggles and squeals around the goats.  She kept wanting to go back to visit them.

And she loved the bunnies too.  These were nothing like the horrible beast she had fled from earlier in the day.  

Pigs were a little puzzling to Ellie.  She didn't know whether or not to think they were worth petting.

And this silly pig, although he had several luxury beds available to him, just preferred to sleep on a floor mat.

There were all sorts of chickens, some looking more like poodles.

Ellie tried her hand at some fishing, and the whopper she caught allowed her to select a miniature stuffed animal from a bin.

Everywhere we turned there was something interesting to see, including this tired puppy watching the dog show in the dog ring.

This guy was watching the Parrot Show, but nobody seemed to want to sit anywhere near him and his "pet."  Me neither.  

Overall, I'd say we redeemed the day after our failed Easter Bunny encounter.  And frankly, I enjoyed looking at all the animals just as much as little Ellie did.  

Sometimes it's just the simple things that are best, especially when done together with those you love.