Saturday, January 30, 2010

Hubby's Favorite Dessert

Forty-four years ago...yessss, it's been that long, I learned how to make Jay's favorite dessert, Chocolate Pie.  It's a simple recipe, especially now that a crust that tastes better than mine, comes all ready to go.  Here are the ingredients you need to make a spectacular 9-10" Chocolate Pie.
Didn't I tell you this is easy?  First, open up your pre-made pie crust, pat it in your pie pan thus, and after making a nice little pattern of holes in it with a fork, bake it at 425ยบ for 8-9 minutes until just a tinge of golden shows up on the edges of your crust.  Let the crust cool for about 40 minutes.

Next, pour four cups of milk into a saucepan to cook on medium-high heat. Add two 4 oz packages of cook-to-serve chocolate pudding. (Jay doesn't like the instant and it DOES have a distinctively different taste.) It'll look something like this...stir continually to keep the pudding from sticking to the bottom of your pan.

It'll start to look like this.  When it reaches a rolling boil, take it off of the heat and let it cool for about five minutes, again stirring about every minute or so to keep the pudding from forming a skin while it cools.

Now for the fun part.  Pour that rich chocolatey pudding into the cooled crust. 

I usually put either waxed paper or plastic wrap on top of the hot pudding to keep a skin from forming, and then let the pie cool before topping with fresh whipped cream. 

For Jay, the whipped topping must be made from real cream.  Since we're trying (but not too hard) to keep an eye on our growing waistlines, I used about 2 tablespoons of Splenda this time (you could also use a granular Stevia or real sugar, of course) to sweeten the whipping cream plus a teaspoon+ of vanilla.  It looks kind of funny in the photo, but here's the mix before it's whipped.

Mmmm, I love vanilla!

Whip the cream until it forms nice stiff peaks.

Apply to cooled pie and voila!  You've made a simple chocolate pie that looks like it's taken hours to prepare and tastes like it comes from the finest restaurant, which is YOURS of course! 

If you're short on time, this pie also tastes great slightly warm, but Jay and I probably like it best chilled.  It keeps fairly well in the fridge, but over time, the crust softens and loses some of its flakiness.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Blackwood Brother Follow-up

Hey, look...I sent my blog address to the BB's and I got a nice reply from Randy Byrd:

Hey Susan!!!

Great blog!!! Thank you for allowing us to be a part of it!!! You all make us feel sooooo welcome!! We love coming to your church!! Thank you for being so wonderful!!
God bless,
Randy Byrd

Isn't that fun????

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Blackwood Brothers at our Church

Lf to Rt:  Wayne Little, Jimmy Blackwood, Billy Blackwood, & Randy Byrd
"The Blackwood Brothers Quartet was formed in 1934 with brothers Roy, Doyle, James and Roy's, son R.W. That heritage of gospel music is carried on today as James' oldest son Jimmy joins tenor great Wayne Little, the smooth bass of Randy Byrd and the baritone singing of Billy Blackwood to present a modern-day version of that great quartet." 
To read more about them and hear their great sounds go to:

Sunday, THE Blackwood Brothers sang at Oasis Church, our church, in our town.  This is the third time we've seen them, but this time I actually got to hug two out of the four of them, be photographed with Jimmy and Randy, AND Jimmy Blackwood sang with our choral group at practice (so I technically SANG with a Blackwood Brother)! 

Our small choir practices at 8:00 Sunday mornings, and as I entered the building,  Jimmy Blackwood was walking out!  I welcomed him and then spontaneously hugged him like I do my other Christian friends. That's how it is in the Family of God!

Now, I know, the Blackwood Brothers are just people...just like us, but STILL...They are also famous, well-respected, mighty ministers of God's music and joy.  I count it a privilege to not only have attended another one of their concerts, but to also have had a bit of one-on-one time with each of them, which they so graciously offered to anyone in our gathering.  (BTW, They gave me permission to post their photos on this blog.)

Sadly, I didn't have my camera at practice, so I missed the great photo of standing next to Jimmy in choir, but I did bring iPhone along to their second performance and J snapped these great photos.

Jimmy Blackwood and Me

Randy Byrd and Me

This is a nice one of Wayne Little and Jimmy B.

Oasis Community Church meets in the Mission Royale Ballroom. Here's a shot of the crowd at one of the performances. We had about 250 folks at this service. Many folks from outside of the Mission Royale Community came to see and hear the Blackwood Brothers.  It's a great outreach for Oasis. I met some fine new folks on Sunday.

(You can almost see Billy Blackwood, on the left, at the piano)

Here he is!

That's J helping Randy with the last of the packing up.

Bye Blackwood Brothers!  Thanks for another great time of ministry, worship and laughter!  See you next year. May God's abundant grace and power be with you every where you go and in all that you do! 

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Arrogant Christians

Think of the book of Job Christian friends...think of how we read about Job's friends reasoning WHY all the destruction came into his life. They thought they knew the whys...they couldn't leave it alone and just come alongside of Job, tend to his needs, weep with him, they felt the need to answer for God.

Haiti...No words for this disaster fit but words of supplication to our God, Who, as Creator of each individual affected by this catastrophic earthquake, grieves along with us like a parent would if his/her children were suffering. Couldn't He have prevented it...IF He is God, you say...How can we know that? We, with the pea brains, who can't even cure the common cold? 

Here's an article, by Greg Albrecht, I want to share from PTM that I think addresses this arrogance well.


Did Haiti deserve this earthquake?

Q. I am amazed to hear a respected televangelist say that the earthquake in Haiti happened because long ago the nation of Haiti apparently "swore a pact with the devil." I think I know what your response to this kind of nonsense is -- but please speak out!

A. Here we go again. Remember Katrina? MANY Christian ministers and pastors, trying to "make sense" of Katrina, said that God sent Katrina as punishment for the permissiveness allowed and practiced in New Orleans. Remember 9-11? Two prominent, well-known televangelists said that 9-11 was proof that God had removed his "hedge of protection" from the United States because of, among other things, homosexuals.

Now we have a prominent televangelist saying that Haiti has been cursed because long ago, in order to earn their freedom from the French who occupied their country, they made a pact with the devil. I have never read such a thing in a history book. What proof is being offered of this pact? And even if there were a pact, even if a contract with the devil exists, executed in the name of the people of Haiti, does the devil have the power to instigate deadly earthquakes? Is that the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ? This kind of stuff sounds like more religious superstition, ignorance and fear.

Even if some pact could be unearthed, with the signature of the devil and of Haitian political leaders (?!??! -- don't hold your breath) what exactly was the Resurrection of our Lord all about? I thought Jesus defeated death and the grave, the devil and his demons. Given the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, I have a hard time understanding how anyone who calls themselves a Christian could actually believe that God would be "bound" to some pact that someone made with the devil?

I have also heard that some are saying, in God's name, that Haiti was asking for such a disaster, among so much other suffering they have endured, because of their practice of Voodoo. The one, true, loving God of the Bible continues to be painted and depicted as a primitive, pagan mythological god -- by people who call themselves Christians!

In the Plain Truth November/December 2001 cover story I asked "Did America Have it Coming?" Of course not -- not in the sense that Americans are, or were, more sinful and more deserving of a "special, God-given curse" than citizens of other nations! Did Haiti have this killer earthquake coming! No, not at all ! May all of us turn our hearts and minds away from futile and vain attempts to determine what might have motivated God to cause or allow this catastrophe in Haiti, and rather turn our hearts and minds toward prayer for all those who are affected, and those who are courageously involved in relief efforts -- and will be for some time to come.

In Christ
Greg Albrecht

Copyright © 2010 Plain Truth Ministries -- Worldwide.

I confess my arrogance Lord. Please forgive me, a well-fed, prosperous American, for even trying to understand WHY. Instead show me WHAT I can do to help these people now and in the future as they try to rebuild their world.  C'mon people...let's pray for this suffering nation and send money or whatever type of support we can manage.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Where have I been?

My blog is missing me...where have I been since Riley's birthday celebration?  In a funk?  In bed asleep?  On the dance floor?  Buried in studies?  Ladies Bible study?  Walking Sherman?  Playing Wii?  Watching movies?  Watching football?  Taking photos?  Shopping at flea markets?  Laughing with friends?  Playing Balderdash?  YES>>>> all of those!  Which one should I have blogged on?

When we lived in Australia, we often used the expression that would be appropriate here.  Hmmmmmmmm...You might see me with my hand on my chin, eyes gazing upward, with a wondering look saying...Hmmmmmmmm...

Actually, I've had a few ideas, but haven't been organized enough to put them together and now this morning, well, I just can't STAND it anymore!  I miss A WRINKLED TIME!  Love posting!  It's addicting like Chai, chocolate, Wii, iPhone Scrabble---you name it. If it's fun, I can be addicted...hmmmmmm...maybe I'm addicted to FUN!!!   

Okay y'all...a question for you.  I have exactly seven commitments per week that roll around leaving only Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays free.  (Some days I have TWO commitments)  Now I'm looking at taking on one more, but this one sounds SO once-in-a-lifetime-ish!  

Thursday nights at Central Arizona College (about 10 min. from here), a class called the Fundamentals of Publishing is starting.  It'll be from 6:00 to 8:45 and will cover internet opportunities, self publishing, types of publications, editing, style, agents, copyright, cover design, printing contracts, and that's not ALL!!!  Hands-on workshops...Oh...doesn't that all sound like a writer's dream?  I WANT to do it, but then I want to DO everything don't I?!

My fears---taking on too much, no time left for blogging (ha), giving up another evening, tests, homework?  No time left for Scrabble?  No time left for hubby and friends? 

Hmmmmmmm....any advice?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Look Whose Big Day it is TODAY!!

TA DA!!!!

 by GrammiSu

Hey Riley, it's your B-day
How we thank God for you
You add joy to our lives
You're ALL boy--that's so true

Today you turn six, but
you're smarter than eight
full of mischief and might
with your sister you're great!

So we celebrate your big day
Say how much we love you
As we hug you, give you presents
And sing "Happy Birthday to you!"

Do you have Cochineal Scale?

If you have prickly pear cactus (Opuntia spp.) in your landscape, you might have cochineal scale. If you have Santa Rita prickly pear cacti, you probably do have this obnoxious invisible insect weaving its snowy-looking, cottony masses of wax on the surfaces of your plants’ stems (pads). If you’ve investigated closely, or tried to scrape off these tiny webs, you’ve uncovered the blood red liquid ooze, (see close-up--upper left-hand side of pad..tiny drips of red) and can be sure you’ve discovered cochineal scale (Dactylopious spp.)

The Aztecs used this red inky substance for dying and painting. Jeff Schalau, in his article of December 22, 2004 in the Backyard Gardener, states, “Cochineal scale remained one of the most important sources of red dyestuffs until the 1850’s, when the first synthetic dyes, called aniline dyes, were produced. Cochineal is still commercially produced in Mexico and India to furnish the permanent brilliant red dye for foods, drinks, cosmetics and artists’ colors.” I don’t know about you but that freaks me out a little—to spread that stuff on my lips?  Here's another close-up of the "scale." I don't think it's pretty.

Schalau’s article further states that this insect “uses the cottony wax to shelter female insects (that produce the red dye) and egg masses. The eggs hatch into nymphs (called crawlers) that feed for about three weeks before settling and becoming immobile. The crawler stage is when they spread on and among cactus plants. Once settled, they spin the waxy fiber that shelters them from predators and the weather. Multiple generations are produced each year in warmer areas.”

Don’t panic immediately if you notice these white spots all over your prickly pears, but you might eventually choose to address the tiny nesters to rest your plants from their sucking appetites. I panicked as I watched “multiple generations” make their tiny white castles on my beautiful Santa Rita. I wasn’t thrilled about the polka-dotted look, and our plant began sicken and lose its color. We had sprinkler drips on this cactus and watched it grow a number of plump pads until these microscopic (you can’t see the actual insect) fellows moved in.

On our walks, we’ve noticed several Santa Rita prickly pear plants in our neighborhood covered with the scale.  I began to ask around. We found that we could wash them off with our high-pressure hose, but also discovered that the scale are drawn more readily to the well-watered cactus (possibly over-watered), so we removed the drips from our cactus and voila, they’ve been free since.
I realize, we’re all different. You may like seeing your Santa Ritas looking like they’ve been through a snow storm, (one man I talked to did), but I prefer to see their clean faces. It is a natural symbiosis between the prickly pear and the cochineal scale. If you like to dye your own fabrics, make paint and your own lipsticks, I say let them camp out on your cacti, but I think I’ll hose ‘em off of mine if they show up again.

I like the way this one looks. This one isn't in our yard--ours isn't this mature yet, so it didn't make the blog.  I notice the drip next to it, and surmise this neighbor isn't overwatering this Santa Rita prickly pear. 

Saturday, January 9, 2010

70's Family photo

One good thing about cleaning out the garage, treasures pop up along the way.  Here's a great old photo of our family, (before our youngest daughter arrived) that we've always thought was fun...from the day it was shot, and now to see it again thirty plus years later!  Do you recognize these people?  It was after seeing this photo that I decided to remember to "smile" in every photo from now on, no matter what the photographer said.

It's no wonder we've gone on to bigger and better things, ayyy? 

Oh yes, and then in the 80's Baby L came she is at about the same age of her own baby now!
CUTE huh? 
Do you see any resemblance to J? 

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Does it look anything like this?

I've been guilty in the past of praying for such virtues as pa-ti-ence, kind-ness, long suf-fer-ring, but for some time now, I've noticed a lot of my behavior problems (large psychology term) revolve around a lack of con-cen-tra-tion. Do you think that is a virtue?

When you run these three syllables together, it equals a tall order for some. If you're young, you may find this easier to do than if you're wrinkles are pronounced. If you're hovering around my age group, might understand---maybe.

Remedy?  If I knew, would I be talking about it?

Surprisingly, I think blogging is helpful. Staying aware that I want to keep the blog press rolling, causes me to pay at-ten-tion to the seemingly insignificant daily details that if lacking even a snippet of intentional con-cen-tra-tion swirl by me unnoticed.

So all that to say, G'morning.  I hope you have a blessed day.  Still a little nervous about teaching this morning (see yesterday's blog), but I know Whom I serve, and He will intervene.  Still, a little con-cen-tra-tion might come in handy.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A little nervous today...

Why, I ask myself, am I sitting here blogging when tomorrow morning, Spring Session of our Ladies' Bible Studies begins and I need to finish my lesson. The next twelve weeks, our fellowship will host three studies with about fifteen ladies present at each one.  The one I'm leading will be a study of  Esther and I'm nervous.  I find this task overwhelming, don't consider myself "teacher" material, do it because I see a need and want to fill it, and because I love ministering to ladies, I am ready to lead this study, but not completely finished with the lesson, and writing about it here!  Hello?  Anyone home here?  Not always.

Anyway, every week I try to write a poem pertaining to that week's lesson.  I usually don't get the inspiration for the poem until the last day and it happened again.  Thought I'd share it with you.  I hope the spirit of it inspires you to cuddle up with God's Word on a regular basis.

Here we go:

Prayer for our Study of Esther

by Susie Talbot

Dear Father in Heaven please join us
As we study the life of Esther
Guide us through each and every chapter
Nurture us with Your answers

We acknowledge our lacks, our ignorance
We admit that we are weak
We plead for Your inspiration
We depend on You to speak.

For our deepest needs, for our health,
For each one who meets in this room,
We pray for Your grace and mercy
On our lives not late, but soon

Let each one of us never forget
It is You Whom we glorify
Whatever we learn in this place
Flows from Your abundant supply

So help us to learn more than knowledge
From Your Blessed Holy Word
May we gain sound wisdom for living
May we know it’s from You we’ve heard.

Eagerly, we approach You
Bow low at the foot of Your throne
Fill our lives with Your infinite goodness
Make Your gentle presence known.


Friday, January 1, 2010

"Home, home on the range..."

Happy New Year Friends!

     A new year--a new day!  Each morning can be a new start if we choose--and I do--today can be an opportunity to extend a helping hand to a stranger, better yet to family and friends--to help them out by offering grace, a smile, or an encouraging word, one tiny step at a time.

"...where seldom is heard, a discouraging word..."

     But, an encouraging word will first have to be alive in my own heart. Where will I find that?  Who will fill me with grace, with warm fuzzies, put a smile on my face, show me the way?  Do I have to admit that deep down, I don't often feel all the mushy goodwill?  I don't always have a smile to give---I have my own lot of troubles, thank you.

     Hold on... I've been in that place of receiving, <the quiet place.>  Sometimes I find it before my feet hit the floor in the morning, or during a shower, yes, a subtle burp of time in the midst of busyness, where I'm able to stop, to call on the One who smiles on me no matter what condition I'm in, Who sticks by me even when I don't remember to acknowledge Him, Who'll never leave me because I've asked Him not to, but more accurately, because He is faithful, He is waiting with loving arms extended to each one of us on an up-close-and-personal basis.

     My New Year's Day resolution is to recognize daily my own emptiness, fall on knobby knees and beg Him (with every sincere nerve of my being), to fill up the holes in my heart with the putty of His gentle expertise, His peace and joy, and then allow me to be His emissary to each person I meet along the way.

     If each of us could only stop, shift down a gear, and choose to focus on Him.  If we could leave behind our own agendas and tune into His, what a change we'd see in ourselves, around us, and in our troubled world.  It's all about Him.

     "...and the skies are not cloudy all day."