Feb 9, 2008

Today's Bouquets


I am writing a cheerful addendum
to a post that I wrote back on October 15, 2007 called "Harvest". I have been blogging since last June and I am drawing spatially closer to my 200th post with a pace that astonishes me! Anyway, I digress. In the aforementioned post, I illuminated the principles of giving, basically stating that we cannot out-give God!

I will get to the cheerful part in a moment, but first let me set the stage. In my August 6, 2007 post, From Here to There, I shared in depth about my family's financial challenges. I'll be honest, life has sometimes seemed like a "trudgery"! Yet, much like trudging through the deep snows of winter, with Christ, the hope of spring delivers us onto the awakening soil of renewal.

Recently, we learned that Barry's boss is secretly selling his business and doesn't want to my husband to know. Most likely, his boss is doing this out of fear of losing Barry prematurely and not wanting a customer fallout. It's fair to say that this is selfish, especially considering that Barry's boss is paying him a pittance of what was promised. In addition, his boss decided not to pay Barry for the month of February; a long story, but a reality.

So, here we were with this recent revelation 2 days before rent was due. We had no other recourse but to trust God. On the due date, we went to church and Barry gave his last $60.00 into the offering. Before leaving church that evening, a dear couple felt led to give us $400.00. The following day, my aunt sent me a belated Birthday check of $50.00. In the meantime, eviction papers were served to us, giving us until Friday the 8th to pay or quit.

On, the morning of the 8th, I was scheduled to lead Worship at a breakfast meeting. The Lord brought back to my memory the recent message that our retreat speaker had exhorted us with. I began to say aloud, "The facts are these: rent is due today, we don't have the money, and we're scheduled for eviction. The truth is this: God owns the cattle on a thousand hills; He will never leave us or forsake us; He will supply all of our needs according to His riches in Glory; and Luke 6:38 (NKJ) "Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you." Facts don't set us free; the Truth sets us free.

While leading Worship at the meeting, I encouraged the audience with what I had rehearsed in my spirit. Barry arrived towards the end of the meeting to receive some prayer. A gentleman approached us with his checkbook and told us that he felt directed to pay our rent. He wrote out a $2500.00 check (more than what we owed) and gave it to us! Two other precious ladies slipped checks into my hands for $300.00 and $25.00, and another dear soul gave me a $5.00 bill, apologizing for the amount. That $5.00 bill was gold to us!

We paid our rent as well as another obligation. In a span of 3 days our "facts" were resurrected by "Truth"!

Feb 6, 2008

Williams-Sonoma - Bittersweet Chocolate Cake

Valentine's Day is synonymous with CHOCOLATE. I'm sure there won't be too much disagreement. Here is a yumcious recipe with heart from Williams-Sonoma.

Bittersweet Chocolate Cake

3 Tbs. cake flour
1 Tbs. Dutch process cocoa powder
2 tsp. instant espresso powder
5 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chunks
6 Tbs. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small cubes, at room temperature
4 eggs, separated
1/2 cup superfine sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

For the whipped cream topping:

1 cup heavy cream
2 Tbs. sour cream
2 Tbs. confectioners’ sugar
1 Tbs. finely grated orange zest
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Preheat an oven to 350°F. Butter and flour an 8-inch springform pan with 2-inch sides.

In a bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder and espresso powder. Set aside.

Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set over but not touching barely simmering water in a saucepan. Melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally. Remove the bowl from the heat and stir in the butter, a little at a time, until blended. Let cool slightly.

In a large bowl, combine the egg yolks and superfine sugar. Using an electric mixer set on medium speed, beat until creamy, 3 to 4 minutes. Beat in the chocolate mixture until blended. Fold in the flour mixture and then the vanilla.

In another large bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Stir one-fourth of the whites into the batter, then fold in the remaining whites just until incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and level the top. Bake until the top is risen and crusty and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out almost clean, 30 to 35 minutes. The center should be soft and moist. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 10 to 15 minutes. The top will fall a bit. Remove the pan sides, loosen the cake's edges with a knife, and slide the warm cake onto a serving plate.

To make the whipped cream topping, in a bowl, whisk together the cream and sour cream until slightly thickened. Whisk in the confectioners' sugar, orange zest and vanilla until soft peaks form.

Dust the warm cake with confectioners' sugar. Cut into slices and top with whipped cream.

Serves 6 to 8.

Adapted from Chuck Williams Collection, Simple French Cooking, by Chuck Williams (Time-Life Books, 1996).

Feb 5, 2008

An Apron Giveaway

Calling all apron lovers! The Apronista is hosting a Giveaway that features some well crafted and eye-pleasing aprons from Carolyn's Kitchen. You will be directed to click over to Carolyn's site and choose your personal favorite!

Deanna, half of the Apronista dynamic duo, has showcased a yummy red apron with white polka dots and a heart-shaped bodice; a perfect selection for Valentine's Day! I cozied up to a sweet little aqua and white polka dot apron with black and white stripes.

When you arrive at Carolyn's site, click on the photo of the 3 pictured aprons. To enter the Giveaway, click HERE.

  • "St. Arbucks", 1 post down...
  • Updated post, "An Experiment", 2 posts down...
  • Daryl Hannah has a "green" website called dh love life. The site highlights interesting and entertaining videos pertaining to subjects such as recycling, organic eating, energy consumption, etc. Daryl, of course, appears in these videos.

Feb 4, 2008

St. Arbucks

Close to Home by John McPherson -

When I first laid eyes on this cartoon, I responded with a heartfelt, "Yes!" John McPherson captured my feelings perfectly. No, I have not launched a boycott of any sorts against St. Arbucks (Starbucks), and I have been known to give away their gift cards, even recently on this blog. Simply put, St. Arbucks is never my first choice in coffee as long as I have other options. And certainly with this caffeinated institution so prominent in our communities — sometimes only an inch apart — my visits are based solely on convenience and a lack of choices.

It has nothing to do with the product. It has everything to do with the neighborhood bully. I have seen many thriving Mom and Pop coffee businesses forced out of existence by a
St. Arbucks moving in next door when there was already another location a minute or so away. The charm and hometown atmosphere of a privately owned business slowly disappears into the shadows of corporate domination.

This was proved out when a quaint little coffee shop opened its doors near Long Beach State University. It began to draw customers content to have decent coffee without logos stamped on their beverage containers. Within a few short months, a representative of
St. Arbucks showed up to make an offer on their business, explaining that their facility — located 1/16th of a mile up the street — didn't have enough parking. Their offer was declined; however, when the owners had to sell their business due to health issues, that St. Arbucks rep had vaporized.

I have never understood how something as enormous as
St. Arbucks can feel threatened by small business. Some people aren't happy until they have it all. As a kid, I was not fond of bullies. I don't like them any better now.