Friday, January 29, 2010

CVS Commercial with The Osmonds !

I usually have the TV on the background and don't half-way pay attention to it and found myself singing "Double Lovin" by the Osmond Brothers.

It took me a second to realize .... HEY - that isn't my CD player, that is the TV ! I then re-wind my TiVo to see and listen to this! The Osmonds singing on a CVS commercial - whoo hoo !

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Clown Fear - Validated !

I've always had this weird un-natural fear of clowns (but I know I'm not alone out there in thinking this). They just have this kind of "creep" factor. Of course Steven King's "IT" didn't help matters one little bit.

That is why when I saw this USPS Priority Mail commercial - I laughed so hard. Guess I'm not the only one out there that thinks that clowns are just not a good thing.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

North Avenue Presbyterian Church

Here is a wonderful video about my church - North Avenue Presbyterian Church. Please come visit us! I feel so blessed to be a part of this family. You can also see it at http://deepandwide.ning.com/video/the-holy-spirit-wants-us-to


Find more videos like this on Deep and Wide
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Friday, January 22, 2010

National Blonde Brownie Day


My sis sends me a listing of Bizarre holidays at the beginning of each month. I usually don't share the whole calendar with the co-workers but sometimes will pick a day (such as national pie day, or national cookie day, etc.) and bring them a treat in for that day.

This month I decided to post the calendar in the break room - several of them were looking forward to National Blonde Brownie Day (today) and National Chocolate Cake Day (next week). Well... I'm not going to make them a chocolate cake (since I'm not overly crazy about it) and since I've never made blondies before, thought I would give my hand a try at that.

A while back, I saw a recipe for Snickerdoodle Blondies on My Baking Addiction's site (she had seen it on other sites) so I decided that would be one of the recipes.

Then I thought - let me seek out the World's Best Blondies - so I googled "world's best blondies" and of course several came up but the one at Simply Recipes caught my attention due to the addition of the butterscotch chips - which made these Blondies a bit different from the others.

Then I thought - well, let me try my favorite recipe site, so I went to Allrecipes.com and found this high rated Blonde Brownies I recipe and I liked that it had walnuts in it so picked it to try.

I tasted the batter of each one before I baked them and must say that I thought the batter of the Blonde Brownies I had the best taste. Then I tasted them all when they were baked and also thought that one was the best (I am sure the walnuts had a lot to do with that fact). My second fave was the Butterscotch Blondies and coming in a close third was the Snickerdoodle Blondies.

All three were great - my Snickerdoodle Blondies did not come out near as pretty as the ones on Simply Recipes and they were a tiny bit dry but I realized my mistake after re-reading the recipe. One, I melted the butter instead of letting it be room temperature and two, I attempted to mix all in one bowl instead of using two separate ones. They were still DELICIOUS but just not as pretty as moist as the original recipe.

My co-workers love them all but only one admitted to trying all 3 kinds - he liked the chocolate/walnut version the best too but admitted he was a huge fan of chocolate.

Snickerdoodle Blondies
Ingredients
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon grated or ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups packed brown sugar (I used light)
1 cup butter, room temperature
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
a pinch nutmeg

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease and/or line a 9×13 inch pan. Combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and set aside.

2. In large bowl, beat together butter and brown sugar for 3-5 minutes. Add in the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla, and beat until smooth.

3. Stir in the flour mixture until well blended. Spread evenly in prepared pan (mixture will be somewhat cookiebatter-ish, so it’s best to spread it out with a greased spatula or your hands). Combine the granulated sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a little bowl. Evenly sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture over the top of the batter.

4. Bake 25-30 minutes or until surface springs back when gently pressed. Cool before cutting.

Makes 20-24 bars.

Butterscotch Blondies Recipe
Adapted from Simply Recipes

Ingredients
1/2 cup of butter, melted
1 cup of tightly packed dark brown sugar (I used light)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon of baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 cup of all-purpose flour
1/3 cup of butterscotch chips

Directions:
1 Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly butter and flour an 8X8 pan. Whisk together the melted butter and sugar in a bowl.

2 Add the egg and vanilla extract and whisk.

3 Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, mix it all together. Add the butterscotch chips.

4 Pour into the pan and spread evenly. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool. Cut into squares and serve.

Makes 9 blondies. (I actually cut them smaller into 16 servings)

Blonde Brownies I
Adapted from Allrecipes.com

Ingredients
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Measure 1 cup sifted flour. Add baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Sift again. Add 1/2 cup chopped nuts. Mix well and set aside.
Melt 1/3 cup butter. Add 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar and mix well. If shortening is used, add 1 tablespoon hot water. Cool slightly.

Add egg (beaten) and vanilla. Blend well. Add flour mixture, a little at a time, mixing well.
Spread in 8 x 8 inch pan. Sprinkle 1/2 to 1 cup chocolate chips on top. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Cool and cute into 16 squares.

(note: the directions never tell you when to add the walnuts and it says to put the choc chips on top. I didn't use chocolate chips but used chocolate chunks instead. I mixed both the chocolate chunks and the walnuts right into the batter - I didn't sprinkle anything on top)
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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

B +


This year, I decided I would have a mantra...
my life will be like my blood type - BE POSITIVE (B +)

I don't want negativity in my life. I don't watch reality shows for this reason (although I am currently recording the Biggest Loser - I fast forward through any negative confrontations they have). So many "reality" shows have people fussing and arguing and yelling at each other. I don't want that in my life.

I decided whatever obstacles I am going to face this year (trying to lose weight, pressures at work, etc.) that I will work to maintain a positive attitude at all times.

It isn't easy, you know. You don't really realize how much negative energy is around you until you try to be positive all the time. I find I rarely watch the news now (just give me the weather and traffic report) - since 99% of the news is negative stories. Some of my Facebook friends (especially one in particular) seem to only post negative things such as "Jane is not feeling well", "Jane is tired", "Jane is disappointed that it is snowing today", "Jane had a bad day at work". Of course, the name has been changed to protect the negative person (none of my FB friends are named Jane) - So I decided to hide "Jane".

If there is something I deem as negative on TV or the radio, I change the channel. I don't keep myself in the dark with what is going on in the world but I limit my exposure to the hardships in the world. If someone says something that hurts me or disappoints me, in my mind I turn it around so that it doesn't effect me in a negative way.

I'm not normally a negative person but I haven't been known to be overly positive either, so I just decided to start 2010 with a positive attitude. It is something you have to work at but with all things, I believe that overtime, it will just be a habit !

Live life, Be happy, Be positive !
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Monday, January 11, 2010

Baby It's Cold Outside

I generally like cold weather but this is ridiculous - it has been in the teens every morning for about 2 weeks now - it is really and I mean really cold.

However . . . it does make for some cool photos. I love to see a frozen fountain. I spotted this one downtown near Woodruff's Art Center/Symphony Hall. I've always liked this fountain anyway but I was so excited when I saw it all frozen over like this.


Here are a couple taken at my friend's apartment complex. Very pretty !


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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Extraordinary Measures


Today is only the 7th day of the new year, and this is the 3rd movie I have seen in the theaters. I love going to the movies - I would go everyday if I could.

I was lucky enough to go to this advance screening of Extraordinary Measures, which isn't released until Jan 22nd. If you think I like going to movies, then you must know I LOVE going to advance screenings!

I wasn't sure how this movie would be. I haven't heard a lot of buzz about it but I had seen a preview for it. It is based on a true story. John & Aileen Crowley (Brenden Fraser & Keri Russell) have 3 children. Their 2 youngest have Pompe Disease, a severe neuromuscular disorder, which is fatal - at the time of their diagnosis they were not expected to live past the age of 9.

John has a MBA from Harvard Business School and a high position a Bristol-Myers but his daughter had a very close call and he decided he had do something - he couldn't just watch his children die. He has spent years researching this disease and found out about Dr. Robert Stonehill (Harrison Ford), who has done a lot of research about this disease. He left messages for Dr. Stonehill but just can't get in touch with him so he drops everything and flies out to meet him.

Dr. Stonehill tells him he knows what they need to develop - what other scientist are not doing - that will help Pompe kids, but he doesn't have the funding. John (right on the spot) sets up the Pompe Foundation and decides to raise the money on his own - all $500,000 thousand of it. The thing is, he only has a month to do it. Does he reach his goal? Well, I won't spoil that for you, you'll have to see the movie to find out.

Eventually, Dr. Stonehill and John decide to start a bio-tech company together, which is later bought out by a larger bio-tech company. They know they can't cure John's kids but the goal is to save their lives - which is what John wants. Dr. Stonehill is a brilliant scientist, but he also knows that and as a result can be a difficult person to work with. He likes things his way, he does not like others having control of his work. He doesn't like the business end of the drug business - luckily John can handle that but he doesn't always like the way John handles things.

A drug is finally developed but then they have to do a clinical trial and John's kids don't qualify since they are only testing the drug on infants. John is heartbroken of course, all this work and his kids won't get the drugs they need. In addition, there is another problem, since John works for the drug company, it is a conflict of interest so even if his children were infants, they still wouldn't qualify because of his position. It was like a double-whammy.

To make matters worse, he is on a race against time since they've been told that one child had about a year to live and the other had even less. He doesn't know what to do now, but Dr. Stonehill has an idea.

Does his children get the medicine they need? Do they both live? Well... once again I won't reveal that especially since the movie hasn't been released.

It was a good movie - a nice steady pace. It is heart-wrenching at times and funny at times - Harrison Ford delivers a lot of great one-liners. I enjoyed it a lot as well did others that saw it.
A bit of trivia: Harrison Ford also directs this film and it is the first film to go into production for CBS films.

This is probably not a movie that would have been at the top of my list to go see but I am glad I did.
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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Bee Taylor's Nesselrode Pie


Several months ago, a friend and I were watching and old Andy Griffith episode. It was the one where an visiting lecturer, Hubert St. John, had dinner at the Taylor house and he was very smitten with Aunt Bee, she even made his favorite pie - something something Pie.

What did they say that pie was I asked my friend? She said I don't know, we rewound (thank you TiVo) and listened again, Hassleback Pie? No..rewind again..Hasslehoff Pie...no...rewind again...darn why didn't they have close captioning on this show? After many attempts to figure it out we finally decided they were saying "Nesselrode Pie" - what the heck was that?

Well, we gave up watching Andy Griffith and we hit the world wide web to figure out what Nesselrode Pie was (by the way, Aunt Bee reminded Mr. St. John of his dearly departed wife and her speciality had apparently been Nesselrode Pie)
As it turns out, Nesselrode Pie is kind of a long forgotten dessert. It apparently was quite popular in Bee Taylor's day but since the mid 60s kind of disappeared out of cook books and bakeries. My friend said maybe there was a reason for this.

None-the-less I tried to find some recipes and did find a few on line but they varied and I wanted Bee Taylor's recipe so I read they had it in the Aunt Bee's Mayberry Cookbook and I almost ordered it right then and there. I also found out that her name was spelled "Bee" not "Bea" as I had always assumed (thinking it was short for Beatrice).

Well... I had just downsized all my cookbooks and only kept the ones I truly loved and used a lot so I was skeptical about getting a new one - especially for one recipe. I wanted to look through it before I bought it. I looked at a few stores but never found it and months went by. I would think about this pie from time to time but still never ordered the book and just was too reluntant to try an internet recipe not knowing which one was the "true" recipe.

Fast forward many months later and I find myself in a tiny gift store in Chimney Rock, North Carolina. Say... isn't North Carolina where Andy, Opie and Aunt Bee live? While looking at this and that, I stroll over to the cookbooks to look for one that might make a good gift for a friend when low and behold - angels start singing and a light shines down on a copy of Aunt Bee's Mayberry Cookbook. I'm pratically jumping for joy. I look through it and thankfully there are a lot of good looking recipes in there - enough to warrant the purchase. I go to the index and look up the Nesselrode Pie - whoo hoo - there it is on Page 194 and I turn to it of course.

Imagine my shock and utter horror when I found out it is NOT Bee's recipe but instead it is Clara Edward's! Do you mean to tell me that Bee took the credit for that pie knowing full well it was Clara's recipe?! For shame, Bee, for shame! Maybe Bee was trying to get even since Clara won the pickle contest or had the prize winning rose. At any rate, I am finally making the long sought after pie.
Clara's (not Bee's) Nesselrode Pie

1 baked 9 inch pie shell
1 tsp. plain unflavored gelatin (which is 1 pkg of Knox geletin)
1/4 c. cold water
2 c. light cream
2 eggs, separated
1/4 c. sugar
6 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. rum (I used 1/2 tsp. rum flavoring)
Whipped cream (I used cool whip)
Chocolate shavings (I grated a Hershey bar on top)

Bake pie shell (either home made or I used a pre-made one and followed the directions for baking)

Soak gelatin in the cold water 5 minutes.

Separate the eggs, beat the yolks and add the cream and 1/4 cup sugar. Pour into a small saucepan and heat slowly until mixture is smooth and slightly thicken.

Remove from heat; add gelatin and stir until dissolved. Pour into a bowl and chill until it begins to thicken (it should thicken but not be totally set)

Meanwhile, beat egg whites to form stiff peaks then gradually add remaining 6 tablespoons sugar and continue beating.
Fold into chilled custard mixture and add the rum (flavoring). Pour into baked pie shell; chill 4 to 5 hours until set.

Just before serving, top with whipped cream and shave a square of chocolate over the top.


* * *The verdict on this much anticipated pie is. . . . (drum roll please). . . .it is good ! Yeah! I would have been very sad had it not been. The rum flavor is really the key element - gives it that kind of mmmmm, what is that kind of taste. It is also quite a pretty pie to serve. I called my friend and told her I made it, she wants to come over and try a piece of course. Will I make it again? Yes, I will. Thanks for the recipe Aunt Bee, uh, I mean Clara.

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Monday, January 4, 2010

The Soloist - Movie Review


Yes, I know this movie is not a new release but I've decided to write about all the new movies I see in 2010, not just the ones I see in the theaters. I noticed this was coming on HBO and wondered if it was any good. By coincidence, one of my friends posted on Facebook that very day "If you haven't seen it and are looking for a thoughtful and hopeful movie that demonstrates power and growth from unexpected friendships, see this film!!" and he gave it 5 out of 5 stars.

So I thought - okay, I'll watch it. Well, I didn't watch it, I recorded it and decided to watch it tonight. It was a good movie - I don't know if I'd give it 5 out of 5. More like 3 out of 5. The performances were great and I really enjoyed the story like but at times the movie was a bit to "artsy" for me and some scenes went on far too long. For instance, there was one scene, when one of the characters is listening to music, he closes his eyes and sees a lot of colors swirling about - that was fine but 5 minutes later, you are about tired of the music and the swirling colors - thank goodness for TiVo and the fast-forward feature. But overall, a very enjoyable movie and it really kept my attention.

The Soloist is a true story (which I didn't know until the very end when they told what happened to the people). It is about Los Angeles newspaper reporter Steve Lopez (Robert Downey Jr. ), who discovers brilliant street musician Nathaniel Ayers (Jamie Foxx), and the unique friendship that transforms both their lives. Mr. Lopez needs a story and finds Mr. Ayers and decides to write about him, he finds out that he had attended Julliard but quit in the 2nd year and now he is wondering how this talented man ended up homeless.

It doesn't take too long to find out, once he starts to talk to him, it is clear that Mr. Ayers is dealing with mental illness. We find out later that he hears voices (we can hear what the voices are saying to him).

Mr. Lopez decides he wants to help him, he tries to set him up in an apt., he gets him an audition, etc. The articles he writes about Mr. Ayers develops into articles about the homeless and all the articles are quite popular with the LA Times readers. Later, he writes a book about this experience and friendship and that eventually became this movie.

One of my favorite lines is after Lopez becomes kind of frustrated in not knowing what to do to help Ayers, he is told to not to try to fix him/help him, just be there for him and be his friend. That is the true definition of friendship.

I do recommend this movie but be prepared for the "artsy" scenes and have your remote handy to get through some of the scenes that should have been cut a wee bit shorter. Overall, a very good movie that kind of sticks in your mind.
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Sunday, January 3, 2010

It's Complicated - a/k/a: My Annual New Year's Meryl Streep Movie


Here I am seeing a Meryl Streep movie at the beginning of the year - just like I did last year - maybe this will become a new annual tradition for me. This movie is very different than last year's movie though. Last year so serious and this year so funny.

Oh my gosh - what a great movie - how could it not be with Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin - all of whom I just love ! These actors can reveal so much with just a look. You can see the slight fear in Jane's (Meryl's) eyes when she undresses in front of her ex-hubby, Jake, who hasn't seen her naked in over 10 years. Then you see relief in her face when it is obviously he likes what he sees - also revealed with a look. Plus the look that Jake (Alec) has when he is walking out of Jane's house with her and all the kids eating at the table - the look that says - I could have had all this - I had it and I lost it.
Basically, this movie is about a couple, Jane & Jake who've been divorced for 10 years. He had an affair, then the woman he had an affair with briefly left him, had an affair, got pregant and they got back together so he has pretty much raised her little boy, who is now 5. He married the woman he had an affair with. This woman is now wanting another baby but he seems to have a bit of a problem with his swimmers.

Jane & Jake have a daughter planning a wedding and a son graduating from college, while the youngest one is moving out getting ready for college. Jane is living alone for the first time and has always wanted to remodel and get a kitchen of her dreams (she is a pastry chef by trade). She hires cute architect, Adam (Steve Martin). He is still having a bit of a hard time getting over his divorce that happened 2 years ago. But he is intested in Jane and she seems like him too.

Jane & Jake go to NYC when their son graduates. Jakes wife stays home because her son Pedro is sick. Jane goes down to the bar/restaurant after her kids leave to go to a party and guess who is there drinking - Jake of course, they continue to drink and dance a bit, one thing leads to another and of course they end up in bed together - they both had a great time and before you know it they are having an affair. During this scene, one of the best lines "Home-Sweet-Home" is uttered (you have to have the visual to get the humor)

It is obvious he is still in love with her and probably never stopped loving her. She loves him too but has learned to live a good life on her own. None of their three grown children know what is going on but their future son-in-law (Harley played by John Krasinski) does when he sees Jake check in to the hotel, go upstairs, Jane go upstairs, doctor come later and go upstairs, then back downstairs then doctor gives thumbs up.

There are many funny scenes, but one of my faves is when Jane and Adam get stoned, then later go into the bathroom to finish up and before you know it Jake and Harley are in there joining them - too funny !!

I won't reveal the ending - but I liked it - but I also would have liked it if it had gone another way too - but I think the ending it had was the way it should have. Go see it, especially if you are over 40, you won't regret it !
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Saturday, January 2, 2010

Disney's The Princess & The Frog


I was so happy when I first heard of this movie and especially happy when I found out it was a hand-drawn film and not computer animated. Don't get me wrong, I love computer animation movies too (Toy Story, Shrek, etc) but... they are just not the same as hand-drawn movies.

This movie was cute, cute, cute ! I loved it - I wish it didn't have voo doo in it but it did take place in New Orleans and they had to have some magical way for the prince to turn into a frog. The characters were true Disney form and like most Disney movies at least one of the heroin's parents were dead - well not at the beginning but her dad did die, at least they handled it well and didn't show the means or make it overly sad and tramatic. One minute Tanina was a little girl and her dad was alive and the next scene she was grown up with a picture of her dad in a military uniform and you just kind of knew - handled very well.

The friends they meet along the way are funny and interesting - Raymond the lightening bug with the cajun accent provided quite a few good laughs (although he did have a somewhat sad tragic death but not drawn out). Louis the Gator (obviously a nod to Louis Armstrong) reminded me so much of Baloo from Disney's The Jungle Book (especially when he danced) - which is not too uncommon for Disney characters/scenes.

I really loved this movie (of course - it is DISNEY after all) - I highly recommend it - even if you don't have kids !
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