A Reading Program? Sign Me Up!

Last Monday at my monthly UMW (United Methodist Women) meeting, we were chatting and laughing and getting down to business, when someone brought up this year’s reading program. Whoa, put on the brakes. Reading program? Sign me up! Anyone who knows me knows that I’m all about the reading (as my Books of 2011 page can attest to). They skimmed rather quickly over the program and I didn’t get a chance to look at the one copy of the handout that they had, so of course, I went home and looked it up on the internet! (You can check out the whole program here)

According to the website, the reading program “encourages members to think critically about current issues through an annual selection of member-reviewed books. It offers an excellent opportunity to deepen your spirituality and to broaden your understanding of our mission work.” Sounds good, right? There are four different plans. The most basic (which will be my first goal) is to read 4 books–one out of each of their designated categories–in a year. The books can be from this year’s list or from the past 4 years (so the lists for 2007-2011). I’ve picked out my books and even checked out my first one. Here’s the list of my first 4, a definitely achievable goal:

  • Amish Grace (Category: Nurturing for Community)
  • Not Just a One Night Stand (Category: Social Action)
  • Three Cups of Tea (Category: Education for Mission)
  • A Monk in the Inner City (Category: Spiritual Journey)

So, I’ll start there for now. Seems like fun and good reading. 🙂 Happy Friday!

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Christmas Things

Just in case you were curious, we did, in fact, take a decent number of pictures during our Christmas celebrations. However, our good intentions to blog about those things have seemingly faded into the background. With school starting back up, I don’t anticipate that we truly will get around to blogging about our delicious food and fun times. So, I posted pictures on our Shutterfly page, for all those interested parties. Enjoy! 🙂


Hubby’s Birthday Cake

So, anyone who knows my husband is well aware that his favorite type of cake is strawberry. Yes, pink, girly strawberry cake. And I love him for it. So…for his birthday, I made it my mission to make a strawberry cake from scratch (how hard can it be?) and to hunt down a good “white wedding frosting” for it (because, again, his favorite type).

After sifting through many, many strawberry cake recipes that involved strawberry jello, strawberry extract, and red food coloring, I finally cake across a recipe on a food blog that caught my eye. No strawberry jello. No extract. No food coloring. Just strawberries. (In case you’re wondering it is from the blog “Confections of a Foodie Bride” here) The comments on the post all sounded good so I decided to give it a shot. The batter was pretty pink color and had a definite strawberry flavor to it. Now, one thing that I did change a little was the strawberries. The strawberry puree in the original was no sugar added organic frozen. Well, we bought the sugar added HyVee brand….because it was the cheapest! *duh*

Anyway, moving on to the frosting, I know how to make basic buttercream (thanks to my cake decorating for beginning Wilton class). However, it’s never “quite right.” So, I commenced again with searching to find a worthwhile recipe. The one I ended up settling on was from the website/blog Dine & Dish. It looked simple (read: EASY) and not THAT much different that what I normally. The only differences were milk instead of water and half butter/half shortening instead of all shortening. They taught us that this was an option in class…but then your frosting is, well, perishable.

The frosting turned out pretty well. I was quite happy with it (and so was the boy). I took a little bit of the frosting and added a bit of powdered sugar and some of the juice drained off the strawberries and made a thinner strawberry frosting for between the layers.

Well, the only real problem I encountered while making the cake was….the middle. I wanted to make the center section just a tad thicker, so when I made my dam with the white frosting, I doubled it up (something they taught us that we could do in class). The problem: my white wasn’t thick enough to support this. I definitely needed to make a thicker frosting and maybe double the width of the dam as well. Perhaps needless to say, the cake did a fair amount of sliding as I attempted to frost the cake.

In the end, I couldn’t get the frosting as smooth as I like (because of the sliding)…so I covered it with sugar sprinkles and threw it in the fridge in hopes that it would get a bit more solid. It didn’t…not really. The top tried to slide off when you cut it!!

The cake was pretty good overall. The strawberry icing in the center was FANTASTIC (too bad I have no idea how much strawberry stuff I put in). The cake didn’t have a very strong strawberry flavor to it. The flavor was there, but it wasn’t very prominent. If you are looking for a strongly flavored strawberry cake, you probably should just use the box mix! However, it was delicious–rich, dense, and moist! I’d make it again in a heartbeat, especially with the frosting.


The New Job

So, I figure since it’s my fourth day at my new job, I should go ahead and write a brief blog about it. Something to look back on in a year, I suppose–to see how I was doing today and how much I grow. (Or at least HOPEFULLY how much I grow/learn)

First, it is such a different work environment from the previous job. The atmosphere is friendly but much more…professional? I don’t know if that is really the word I’m looking for. At all. Anyway, it’s quiet. I think that’s the biggest difference. To go from an office where people are always moving around and visiting with each other and everyone has a radio playing (well, it was a radio station so I suppose that’s a given) to an office where I think I’m the only one with music playing at my desk (couldn’t handle the quiet) and everyone is kind of secluded in their own offices, well, it’s a big change!

The people here are very nice. Don’t get me wrong, I miss my old coworkers, but I really to have welcoming new coworkers. It always takes me a little time to really warm up to people and get comfortable with them, but I know in time I’ll feel perfectly comfortable here. And…eventually they’ll learn just how quirky I tend to be, lol.

Also, this is a DESK JOB. Plain and simple. I mean, I thought I had a desk job before…but I was wrong. HAHAHA. I’m considering getting one of those ball chairs so I can work on my posture and keep my back “healthy.” It’s, of course, not really in our budget right now, but I think I’ll try to start saving some of my weekly personal budget for one. Guess that means I’ll have to stop spending money on coffee. Good thing I got coffee gift certificates for Christmas!!! Also, working in the library means working in a building with a coffee shop. (*hehehehe*) I already purchased myself a new Bookmark Cafe travel mug. 🙂 They sell Kaldi’s coffee, so it’s pretty good stuff. I need to figure out if they would accept a Kaldi’s gift certificate…then I’d have it made!!

I’m still in the process of learning a lot about what my job really entails and how to do everything. It seems like such a slow process! The only advantage is that I already know how to do the basics using MU’s system. If I didn’t know that, I’d be lost!

So, anyway, I need to get back to my spreadsheets and other work, so I’ll leave you with a picture of the building that I work in now. No more Jesse Hall with its dome!


Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow


Radiant Shadows

So, today I finished Radiant Shadows by Melissa Marr, the third book in the Wicked Lovely series (YA fiction). I thoroughly enjoyed the first two books and actually expected to be disappointed in the third because it dealt with entirely different characters. However, I was pleasantly surprised and this may have actually been one of my favorites in the series. The characters were dynamic and well-thought-out. I felt like you learned a lot about the characters, whereas in the first two you were really learning about all the characters the entire time. This book got you through a lot without being overwhelming and brought out a lot of previously minor characters. The budding romance between the two main characters of this book, Devlin and Ani, was well-done and true to the characters’ personalities. I still wish I could know more about what was going on with the main characters from the other books during this time, but overall, it was a very enjoyable read. Hopefully the fourth (and I believe final) book will fill in some gaps when it is released in February.


Quentin Helps with Christmas Baking


Saturday Surprise

So, this is the first weekend that I haven’t had to work since October. This morning my awesome hubby rolled out of bed first to head up to the post office to pick up the mail (oh, the joys of a PO box). I got up just a couple of minutes later and started the pot of coffee (because really, I can’t begin my day without a cup, let’s be honest). So Dan finally comes back from the post office and what has he brought with him? This:

There happens to be a bakery next to the post office and apparently these were just begging to be purchased for a delicious breakfast. Best hubby ever? I think so. 🙂


What I Have Learned Today About Viking Women

(1) They are tramps

(2) They are deadly

(3) You should never, EVER, slap one, no matter how much she deserves it.  You WILL end up dead.

(4) They are a LOT of fun to read about, even if you are still way, way behind on your deadline…


Always Look on the Bright Side…

So, this evening, I locked my keys in my car. Now, I have class this evening, so you would think this not a big deal. However, I locked them in the car right after I returned to work with two large containers of coffee for 100 classical musicians. All of the coffee–locked in my car–with the spare set of keys 35 minutes away in Prairie Home. 😦

However, I have the best husband on the whole planet and when I called him and said I need you to drive to Columbia NOW, please–he came to my rescue. Also, I have to look on the bright side and realize that it’s a 35 minute drive from Prairie Home to Columbia (without traffic) and I was actually running about 35 minutes early for the set-up time. So, all in all, not a disaster…but my afternoon could have been better.

One final shout out to my hubby–YOU’RE THE BEST EVER! LOVE YOU! ❤

Well, now I’m off to work a bit more and then go to class…and then work a bit more. Oh Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra…why must you require so much coffee??