Monthly Archives: March 2013

March Photo shoot: Landscapes

For My monthly photo shoot, I will come up with a theme and document it to the best of my ability and talent- and will complete a goal on my 2013 Manifesto. Come along on the ride with me- oh, and strike a pose.

My theme for the month is landscapes, hope you enjoy:

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The Reason For God by Timothy Keller

The-Reason-For-GodThis year I will read all of the Timothy Keller books I own– five of them, and will complete a goal on my 2013 Manifesto. 

The first book up is ‘The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism.” This is a wonderful book. Keller does a great job explaining things I’d never thought about before- and things that I had- and putting forth reasoned ‘clues’ as he calls them as to why we should believe in God.

It is the perfect book for everyone- believers and non-believers alike. Faith is a leap no matter what and it takes faith to believe and even more faith to live one’s life in a relationship with Christ. No one is perfect and everyone will always have some doubts and questions- that’s human nature (and also one of the clues).

In the first half of the book he takes conversations that he has had with multiple people in New York City where he lives and preaches and used their arguments against belief, or doubts that they expressed as the clues toward believing. He covers thoughts about exclusivity, human suffering, freedom, cultural diversity, injustice in the church, hell, judgement, science, and the idea as the entire Bible is a story of legends. Keller takes each of these overarching topics and delves into details and then takes them back to the broader picture. He patiently and succinctly goes over these thoughts and shows how they can be clues toward the existence of God. And the sum of these clues adds up.

In the second half he states he doesn’t want to ‘argue why God may exist’ he wants to show us that we already know God exists. The topic in the second half are more difficult to list, but in general Keller discusses human nature, morality, sin, human hope, forgiveness and the Resurrection. It all culminates into the epilogue where he invites the reader to examine their motives and take inventory. Faith is after all, not a technique we can learn, as he writes- but God given. At the very end of the book he speaks of a woman he met who was frustrated that she still did not believe after having prayed over and over for God to help her find him. A Christian friend recommended that she might change her prayer to, “God, come and find me. After all, you are the Good Shepherd who goes looking for the lost sheep.” She concluded that the only reason that she was able to tell Keller her story was that she had in fact been found.

Breakfast food and a snow storm… 2nd March Recipe test with Anna!


This winter has been extra snowy in the Midwest- and three days into Spring it decided to have one last (hopefully) hurrah. In order to avoid the roads during the storm Anna and I had our recipe test at my parent’s house this past Saturday morning for breakfast. I chose a fruit and yogurt parfait, and Strawberry Almond Stuffed French Toast. Both keepers for sure!

Mixing the ingredients for the creamy filling in the french toast. I replaced the sour cream for a healthier option- vanilla yogurt. Also included, cream cheese, powdered sugar and almond extract:


Cutting ‘pockets’ into the french bread- along side the mixture for dipping: milk, eggs and vanilla extract:


Loading the creamy mixture and fruit into the bread pockets. We used strawberries and blueberries:

Picture 2

The finished french bread for everyone!:


The finished parfaits for everyone:


So easy- and tasty!:


The finished french toast:


You can add some more filling and strawberries on top – SO GOOD!:


That afternoon the storm started, and we got about 8 inches when it was all said and done Sunday morning. Here’s hoping Spring is right around the corner!



Strawberry Fruit and Yogurt Granola Parfait


  • Light Vanilla Yogurt
  • Oats and Honey Granola cereal
  • Strawberries (or another fruit)

Layer ingredients and enjoy!

Strawberry Almond Stuffed French Toast
A delicious stuffed French toast with strawberries, sweetened cream filling, and almonds.
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1½ cup sliced strawberries
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1½ cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 loaf French bread, cut into 12 sliced 1 – inch thick
  • Garnish – ½ cup confectioner’s sugar and ⅓ cup slivered almonds
  1. Using an electric hand or stand mixer, beat the cream cheese, sour cream, confectioner’s sugar, and almond extract until light and creamy. Transfer the cream mixture to a a bowl and cool in the refrigerator.
  2. Sprinkle the sliced strawberries with sugar and gently stir the strawberries to evenly coat them.
  3. In a flat based container, beat the eggs, milk and vanilla extract.
  4. Make a deep cut in the center of each slice of bread to form a pocket.
  5. Remove the cream filling from the refrigerator. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of the filliing inside the formed pocket of each slice.
  6. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of sliced strawberries inside the formed pocket of each slide.
  7. Gently compress the opening of the pockets closed.
  8. Heat a non-stick skillet on medium heat.
  9. Spray the pan with non-stick spray
  10. Soak a slice of bread in the egg mixture on each of its side. Do this to as many sliced that will fit in the pan comfortably. Cook each side of the French toast until golden brown. Do this until all twelve slices are cooked.
  11. To finish the dish off, dust each slice with confectioner’s sugar and slivered almonds. Left over strawberries and cream can also be spooned on top of each slice. Serve with maple syrup if desired.

1 Year, 100 Movies: #83 Titanic (1997)


For 1 Year, 100 Movies, I will watch all of AFI’s 100 Years, 100 Movies list (compiled in 2007) in one year- and will complete a goal on my 2013 Manifesto. Come along on the ride with me- oh, and please pass the popcorn!

I can’t believe how much I’d missed seeing this movie when I watched it! It’s been literally years. What’s funny is I’d never been super emotional about it before, but the end serisouly choked me up- especially *MOVIE SPOILER* at the very end of the movie when the present day elderly Rose passes away and ‘returns’ to the Titanic where everyone that perished whom she knew is there- with Jack at the top of the stairs by the clock waiting for her.

For everyone who has been living under a rock, Titanic was the love story of Jack and Rose, two people with similar wants in life, who grew up either without privilege (Jack) or with TONS of privilege (Rose) – and Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet are magnificent in their representations of the characters. The story is fiction, but based around the all-to real true story of the Titanic. They meet as she is thinking about throwing herself off the ship because she feels constricted and is being forced to marry a verbally abusive and unloving man who has money. Jack talks her down, and as a thanks her family invites him to dine with them. Jack and Rose start a relationship and spend several happy days aboard Titanic before the incident with the iceberg. Rose has to rescue Jack from inside the ship and then they spend their time trying to survive. At last once they have made it to the point where they are in the ocean – but no lifeboats- Jack has Rose float on the clock (I still think they didn’t try too hard to make it work for both of them) and they wait it out. *ANOTHER SPOILER* Jack dies in the freezing water and Rose has to say a heartbreaking goodbye to him before she jumps in the water and takes a man’s whistle to alert the distant lifeboat that she needs to be rescued. Once they are on the Carpathia she gives her name as ‘Rose Dawson’ taking Jack’s last name.

I love the end scene where Rose is back where she belongs with Jack because the premise around the story is that we are in the present day where they are recovering objects and learning about the Titanic. We see Rose and Jack’s story come full circle. I’ve always had a thing for the story of the Titanic- owning several books on the subject and basing several class and 4-H projects around the event. I’ve been to the mini-Titanic exhibit in Branson, and when the Titanic Artifact Exhibition came to KCMO last year I had to go- you can see that post here. This movie is just another way for me to express my interest in Titanic. It’s awesome it’s on the top 100 list, and is one of the most recent movies to boot.

In my humble, non-professional, average movie-goer opinion this movie earns:


Old movies and munchies… 1st March Recipe test with Anna!

March’s first recipe test- garlic parmesan rolls, caprese lasagna roll ups, and cinnamon roll cake. All three of these recipes are keepers! The caprese lasagna roll ups especially. The cake was a little gummy in places, so I’d play with the recipe a little to make it turn out better. Fun evening with good food, company, and a cute old movie I’d not seen before- ‘Bachelor Mother’.

The cast of characters for the caprese lasagna roll ups- and putting them together:

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The Cast of Characters for the garlic parmesan rolls, and putting them together:


The Cast of Characters for the cinnamon roll cake and putting it together:

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Dinner’s served! (YUM!)

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Anna’s cats- watching our every move:


The Recipes:

Caprese Lasagna Roll Ups

Yield: 8 servings


  • 8 lasagna noodles, uncooked
  • 14 oz freshly shredded, low-moisture part skim Mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 3/4 cup Ricotta cheese
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1/3 cup freshly, finely shredded Parmesan cheese (about 1 1/4 oz)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 – 4 medium Roma tomatoes, thinly sliced (about 1/6 inch thick slices)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, plus more for garnish
  • 1 cup marinara sauce, recipe follows
Simple Marinara Sauce
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic finely minced
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta according to directions listed on package to al dente. Drain pasta (DO NOT rinse with water) and align lasagna noodles in a single layer on a large sheet of parchment or wax paper.
  • For filling, in a large mixing bowl, whisk together ricotta cheese and egg white until well blended. Stir in Parmesan cheese. Mix in 12 oz. of the Mozzarella cheese and season with black pepper to taste (I wouldn’t recommend seasoning with salt just because the cheeses already have plenty of salt).
  • Place 1/4 cup of the cheese mixture over each lasagna noodle and spread into an even layer, going from one end of the lasagna to the other. Align 4 thin tomato slices over cheese mixture then sprinkle fresh basil over top. Snugly roll lasagna noodles to opposite end. Spread about 1/4 cup pasta sauce in the bottom of an 11 x 7 inch baking dish. Align lasagna roll ups, seam side down in dish. Top each roll up with about 2 Tbsp of the pasta sauce (covering edges of pasta so they don’t dry out while baking). Sprinkle top with remaining 2 oz. shredded Mozzarella. Bake in preheated oven 30 minutes. Remove from oven, plate pasta and garnish with plenty of basil ribbons. Serve warm.
Simple Marinara Sauce
  • Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Add onions to hot oil and saute about 3 minutes until soft, adding garlic during last minute of sauteing. Pour in crushed tomatoes and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring mixture just to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and allow sauce to cook for about 25 – 30 minutes (which will allow some of the water in crushed tomatoes to evaporate) while you prepare pasta and lasagna filling (you can freeze or refrigerate left over sauce in a small airtight container for later use, adding fresh basil if desired).

Garlic Parmesan Knots Recipe

Ingredients: 1 (16 oz) pack of your favorite Biscuits 3 tbsp of grated Parmesan Cheese 1 tsp dried Parsley 1 tsp dried Oregano 1 tsp Kosher Salt 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder Butter Spray ( or 2 tbsp butter melted)

Method: – Start by cracking open that pack of biscuits. – On a lightly floured surface, roll a biscuit into a sausage shape. Once it’s around 6-7 inches long, tie a knot with the dough…a simple knot, just as you would a rope or shoe lace or whatever. – Pull the one end over and tuck it in the back and push the other in to the back as well….ta da, looks fancier already doesn’t it? – Bake the knots according to the instructions on the pack (mine said a 425F Oven for 15-17 minutes). Bake them in the oven for a few minutes less than what the pack says. I baked for 10 minutes. – While your knots are baking, lets start with what makes these rolls so good -The garlic parmesan topping. Grate about 3 tablespoons worth of fresh parmesan cheese…and if you must you can resort to the powdered parmesan that you get in a jar. – Add a teaspoon each of dried parsley, oregano and kosher salt and add just 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder. Mix well. – After around 10-12 minutes take the rolls out of the oven and spray with some butter (or if you’r using regular melted butter, brush it) on each roll. – Sprinkle your topping over each of the rolls. Be generous! – Pop the rolls back into to oven till they turn a beautiful golden.

Cinnamon Roll Cake

3 c. flour
1/4 tsp.salt
1 c. sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 c. milk
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. butter, melted

1 c. butter, softened
1 c. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. flour
1 Tbsp. cinnamon

Mix everything together except for the butter. Slowly stir in the melted butter and pour into a greased 9×13 pan. For the topping, mix all the ingredients together until well combined. Drop evenly over the batter and swirl with a knife. Bake at 350 for 28-32 minutes.

2 c. powdered sugar
5 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla

While warm drizzle the glaze over the cake.


1 Year, 100 Movies: #84 Easy Rider (1969)


For 1 Year, 100 Movies, I will watch all of AFI’s 100 Years, 100 Movies list (compiled in 2007) in one year- and will complete a goal on my 2013 Manifesto. Come along on the ride with me- oh, and please pass the popcorn!

Two friends sell a bunch of cocaine and use the money to road trip on their motorcycles from LA to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. It’s a depressing journey with a mostly awful soundtrack (there are a few good songs) and they are stoned out of their minds for much of the trip. The transitions from scene to scene are jarring and choppy and the characters are given the most ridiculous stereotypes possible. The only positive note at points were Jack Nicholson and Peter Fonda’s performances. I’m not a fan, and frankly, this movie was a waste of time.

In my humble, non-professional, average movie-goer opinion this movie earns:


Cake Decoration 3: Grandma Jan’s Birthday!

For one year I will make a birthday cake for all of my immediate family and close friends- and will complete a goal on my 2013 Manifesto. Come along on the ride with me- oh, and can I borrow a cup of sugar? ;)

For my grandma Jan’s birthday this past weekend I got a little more creative, and made some gum paste flowers and went to a multi-level design. Making the gum paste, dying it light pink and making the flowers in the mold:

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The finished cake!

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We were all dressed up for the Emporia State women’s basketball final game in the MIAA Tournament- and we won! Check out the video below- and see if you can spot my brother doing his job as a yell leader on the cheer team: