Posts Tagged ‘chocolate’
Posted on September 17, 2013 - by Stacy Monson
Isn’t the phrase guilty pleasures an oxymoron? Or maybe it’s just that as women, we tend to feel guilty when we take too much time doing something we enjoy. But then THAT is an oxymoron – can we possibly take too much time for ourselves with so many other things pulling at us?
But I digress. This isn’t a post about oxymorons. It’s about those things in life I love, love, love! There might be a twinge of guilt once in awhile, but for the most part – bring it on!
* Sitting in the sun (that’s it – just sitting under a comfortably warm sun enjoying the outdoors)
* Dinner out with my girlfriends
* The change of seasons (yes, even into winter – which lasts until January 2 and then I’m ready for spring, which is pretty funny considering I live in Minnesota!)
* Singing praise and worship songs (which I only do alone in my car, or in the house with all the windows closed – trust me, it’s not pretty)
* and of course, M&Ms – plain
Now I have this sudden need to go shopping with my girlfriends for new office supplies with a bag of plain M’s in hand. Then I’ll have to stop by the Dairy Queen before heading home to settle in for a good long soak in the tub. Sounds like a perfect evening to me!
What are some of your guilty, or not-so-guilty pleasures? We’re giving away a gently used copy of Sarah Sundin’s On Distant Shores to one lucky reader this week, and a copy of Laura Frantz’s Love’s Awakening to another reader. Every time you leave a comment over the next two weeks, your name will be entered.
The two winners will be chosen after midnight on Friday, Sept. 20 and posted on Saturday!
Posted on September 10, 2013 - by Shannon Vannatter
When this topic came up, I wasn’t sure if I could come up with ten guilty pleasures. But the more I thought about it, there’s way more than fifteen. I’m doing a countdown to number one to stir things up.
10. A dollop of caramel in my coffee. I’m not even going to list coffee, even though I put three creamers and three sugars and hummingbirds would love my sweet brew. It’s the dollop of caramel syrup that puts my fave beverage over the top.
9. Hallmark movies. They’re so clean and sweet. Why do they make me feel guilty? Because there’s always something else I should be doing other than watch them. But I have gotten book ideas from them. If you take a thread from five different movies and put them together, it’s not plagiarism.
8. The Chronicles of Narnia. I started reading the books back when the first movie came out in 2005. Why? Because I never read them as a kid. I finished the final book just today. Now why do I feel guilty? Because they are children’s books and I really shouldn’t be enjoying them so much. But there’s such an innocence about them, they take me back to a child’s view of the world. I think I’m going to start reading them over again. With writing books and reading inspirational contemporary romances in between, it took me so long to finish, I don’t remember what happened in the first few books.
7. Chocolate covered coffee beans. I consistently pop three at a time at least twice a day. I’ve gotten immune to regular coffee, but the beans rev me up. Plus, there’s chocolate involved.
6. Nabisco Chips Ahoy cookies. Especially dipped in a bowl of milk until they’re so soggy they almost fall apart.
5. Cedar Cove. It’s been a long time since I got hooked on a TV series. But this Hallmark series is based on books by Debbie Macomber. I looked forward to it all summer. Then as the school about to start frenzy got underway and final summer guests visited, I forgot and missed the first episode. But I’ve recorded every episode since. It’s a chick flick, so I have to wait until the roosters are gone to watch. And when the roosters are gone, this hen should be writing.
4. Lunch or dinner with friends. I have one friend I try to eat out with monthly. When we do, we linger for hours just catching up.
3. Reading inspirational contemporary romance. I should be writing it instead. But I’m studying my genre
2. Ice cream. I don’t know why something so delicious has to be so loaded with fat and calories.
1. Shoes. I try to keep my collection down to 60 or less. I even gave some away to the Rotary Club a few years ago when they were asking for donations for teens who couldn’t afford prom attire. I only have two pair I paid more than $15.00 for. And most of my shoes were less than $10.00. Last weekend, I bought a cream-colored satin pair of heels for $4.00. I couldn’t just leave them there, now could I?
Notice how many items on my top ten list involve food.
Posted on February 14, 2012 - by Lorna Seilstad
Movies seem to go with Valentine’s Day . On one site, I discovered a list of the 50 Most Romantic Movies of All Time according to Time Out New York. Their list surprised me. (See it here.) Edward Scissorhands would probably not make be on my top 10 romantic movie list no matter how cute Johnny Depp is.
So, Dawn and I created our own list. Do you need a little extra romance this Valentine’s Day? Consider curling up with a tub of popcorn (significant other optional) to watch one of these heart grabbing favorites. With so many great romantic movies out there, this list is far from inclusive. Instead, it offers a little something for everyone. Here they are—in o particular order.
- Somewhere in Time
- Sense and Sensibility
- Ever After
- 50 First Dates
- The Princess Bride
- The Lake House
- Sweet Home Alabama
- 16 Candles or Pretty in Pink
- The Notebook
- Notting Hill
- Bridgette Jones Diary
- Gone with the Wind
- Any Cary Grant movie you choose
- North and South
- Sleepless in Seattle
- While You Were Sleeping
- Pride and Prejudice
Did your favorite make our list? Do you have another romantic movie to
recommend? Let us know. We may need to make a stop at Redbox.
P.S. If you haven’t watched North and South, run –don’t walk– to Netflix. Although the title makes many Americans think it is a Civil War story, this BBC miniseries is set in England. It is a marvelous, romantic story that you do NOT want to miss.
Posted on February 13, 2011 - by Brenda Anderson
Thanks to everyone who stopped by Inkspirational Messages these past two weeks, and to those who shared a comment or more with us. We love having you visit and hope you come back again.
Now, for the winner of one box of Fannie May Assorted Chocolates.
!!! JUDY MILLER !!!
To claim your prize, e-mail your mailing address to Brenda AT BrendaAndersonBooks DOT com and we’ll get that delicious chocolate shipped right out to you.
Posted on February 9, 2011 - by Brenda Anderson
I love the character Dory from the Pixar film, Finding Nemo. She’s a blue reef fish who suffers from short-term memory loss and often can’t remember what happened merely moments ago. Just think how frustrating that would be. It would be easy to find yourself confused and swimming in circles.
But Dory doesn’t let that get her down. Yes, at times she swims in circles, and it seems like she won’t make it anywhere, but she doesn’t let that stop her. She says that when life gets you down you, “Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming.”
Like so many of you, the ACFW Conference in Indiana last year was a defining moment in my life. I finally got to meet most of my fellow writers/friends from Inkspirational Messages. What a treat that was. I had the honor of singing in a fabulous choir, and I learned the craft of writing from seasoned professionals. Does it get better than that?
Yet, I drove home disappointed. For the first time in five years of attending various writing conferences, I left for home without a single request for more of my work. It made no sense to me. I’d spent years writing and learning and honing, yet no one was interested. I even presented a romance, a book written out of my comfort zone. And nothing.
Had I just wasted all those years of writing? Was this truly my calling? I felt like I was swimming in circles in the ocean of publication.
And that was a very quiet place. A place where God seemed silent.
But, I knew God was there. I knew he swam beside me, and I knew writing was his gift to me. To let it lay dormant would be mocking him.
So I looked at my body of work. I had no work-in-progress and no proposals or queries to piece together, but I did have my favorite book that I’d been longing to edit for a few years. Finally, I had nothing stopping me. And I had a dozen other ideas for stories. At last I could work on them unhindered.
So, I started writing, writing, writing.
Those circles I’d been writing in created momentum and spun me forward. Writing freed me from listening to naysayers, enabling me to focus on him alone. When I put fingers to keyboard and kept typing, I could hear him again. And that place that had seemed so quiet bloomed with the pleasure of feeling God beside me, of hearing his inspiration in my imagination.
Even in those silent circles, he’d never left my side.
And for him, I’ll keep writing, writing, writing.
“Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 3:13b-14
Love chocolate? Then leave a comment below and we’ll enter you in a drawing for a box of Fannie May Candies.
For complete contest rules click here.
Posted on February 1, 2011 - by Shannon Vannatter
I’m in a rut. I’ve been in this rut since the American Christian Fiction Conference in Indianapolis back in September. I put everything in high-gear and got all my commitments done before conference. I set my personal blog up for two weeks, sent all my interviews to the interviewers, and met all my deadlines.
After conference, I couldn’t seem to get in the groove. Every day, I have a Post It note with a list of what I need to achieve for the day. Interviews, publicity, blog posts, booksignings, classes to teach. Notice writing isn’t in there. I seem to be stuck in a publicity vortex. Every day I spin my wheels and get countless things done, but the next day, I have just as many to do.
Part of my rut is that I haven’t had any deadlines to meet lately. Before I signed a contract, I wrote thousands and thousands of words, completing eight books with no guarantee that any of them would ever see the light of day. When I finally got a contract, writing the second book threw me into writers’ block. I worked through it and churned out the hardest book I’ve ever written. But I learned I could write under deadline. Book three wrote itself.
After I met all the deadlines, I turned in a new proposal for a potential new series. I felt like I was limbo. What to do now? I should work on the first book, but things changed. Writing something my editor may not like and won’t publish is a waste of my time. It seems I need deadlines to keep me on track. I needed a green light before committing my time to the project.
For the next month, I’m teaching an adult education course at the local two year college. My topic: Let’s Write a Novel. I hope to help writers who’ve been writing a while and are frustrated. Maybe my class will give them that piece of the puzzle that makes everything fit into place. I hope to help brand new writers just starting out. Maybe my class will give them a leg up in their journey. I hope to help writers stuck in a rut.
Hopefully, being around writers two days a week, teaching about my favorite thing will get me out of my rut. If not, the dim glow of a green light is blinking in the distance.
By the way, I learned something last week while helping my son study for a test on inventions. I hated school and really didn’t ever want to go again, but through homework, I’m vicariously in the 3rd grade again. Anyway, Spencer Silver invented a new glue, but it was weak and didn’t hold things together for very long. His friend, Arthur Fry knew about the glue. He was tired of losing his page in his church hymnal and used the weak glue to invent Post It notes. Just thought I’d throw that bit of trivia in since Lorna always shows out on what she knows.
Back to ruts and grooves: Do deadlines (not just in writing) spur you on or stall you? And remember: We’re giving chocolate to one lucky commentor.
Posted on November 25, 2010 - by Marlene (aka Marlo)
I have to admit I have a weakness…I love my chocolate. And a dessert without chocolate is like a sundae without a cherry. It’s just missing something.
I dug among my favourite chocolate chip cookies recipes, and realized most of the come from Lorna LOL Since I didn’t want to step onto Lorna’s cookie territories, I chose a recipe from my daughter’s best friend.
Since it’s cold out here, and I don’t have much plan for the rest of the week, I may just bake some for my friends.
Double Chocolate Chip Cookies
1/2 cup softened butter or margarine
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups unsifted flour
1/3 cup cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk
1 cup chocolate chips
Cream butter, sugar, egg and vanilla in large mixer bowl until light
Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Add alternatively with
milk to creamed mixture, blending well.
Stir in Chocolate Chips.
Make almost 3 1/2 dozen cookies… and they are delicious still warm.
Tip from the North Pole… Santa loves them with a big glass of cold milk.
Posted on August 5, 2010 - by Marlene (aka Marlo)
Initially, I was not going to do a cross-country trek, but Lorna’s fried cheese sent me on a trip back East.
Like Kav said on Monday, the only thing we fry in our neck of the woods is French fries and onion rings, and sometimes fish. So, what do we do with cheese curds besides eating them fresh from the bag? It’s called Poutine.
Poutine (pronounced poo.tin) is a French-Canadian dish that dates back from the mid 1950s. It consists of French fries, topped with fresh cheese curds, and covered with a copious amount of brown gravy. In Québec, poutine is as common as French fries and pizza. Doesn’t that look appetizing?
Now, back on the West coast. Also in the mid 1950s, a woman from Nanaimo, British Columbia, entered her chocolate squares into a local cookbook fundraising event. Her chocolate squares became known as Nanaimo bars, and they are delicious.
There are three layers to a Nanaimo bar. The bottom layer is a no-bake chocolate crumb-based. The middle layer is custard flavored butter icing. And the top is a layer of chocolate. In most recipes, the bars contain nuts or walnut, but since I have a child who’s allergic to nuts of every kind, I modified the bottom layer to meet her needs.
MY SPECIAL NANAIMO BARS
¼ cup melted butter or margarine (I use margarine)
1 cup chocolate chips
1-1/4 cups graham crumbs
¾ cup coconut flakes
*Blend crumbs and coconut into the melted chocolate, then press the mixture into a greased square pan. I use a fork, but feel free to use your fingers.
*Place in the fridge. I find it easier to add a new layer when the previous layer is cold.
2 cups icing sugar
2 TBSP custard powder
2 TBSP milk
½ tsp vanilla extract (or orange or mint or whatever flavour you like)
*Mix with an electric mixer. The icing should be thick.
*Spread over the bottom layer, then send the pan back into the fridge.
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 cup chocolate chips
*Melt chocolate chip in oil. Again I use my microwave and stir every 10 secs until the mixture is all smooth.
*Send the pan back into the fridge for a few minutes until the chocolate solidifies. Cut into small rectangles. Keep refrigerated.
*It makes 24 bars.
Posted on August 4, 2010 - by Dawn Ford
Two years ago during my turn to hostess our monthly Secret Sisters meeting, I threw a spa themed party which included homemade, cost effective spa recipes. The majority of the ingredients could be found at my local grocery and Dollar Stores, with the exception of Turbinado Sugar (I had to go to a larger chain grocery store) and Sea salt. Sea salt is expensive so I used Kosher salt instead. Some of these recipes are actually good enough to eat. Here are a few of my favorites.
Chocolate Facial Scrub
1/3 c. Cocoa Powder 3 Tbsp. Heavy Cream
2 Tsp. Cottage Cheese ¼ c. Honey
3 Tsp. Oatmeal
Mix all ingredients together in a blender. Smooth onto face. Relax for 10 minutes, wash off with warm water. For a body scrub you can substitute Olive oil for the cream and turbinado sugar for the oatmeal. Refrigerate after using, throw away after 24 hours. Warning, this recipe is addictive.
Coffee Body Scrub
2 c. Used Coffee Grounds (keep in freezer until you have enough)
½ c. Turbinado Sugar 2/3 c. Olive Oil
1 tsp. Vanilla extract for scent Brown Sugar-add until desired consistency
Dash of cinnamon for scent
Mix together in a bowl. Scrub into troubled areas where there may be vericose veins or cellulite. You can also substitute Kosher salt for the Turbinado sugar. This recipe can be kept for a couple of days in the refrigerator.
Strawberry Foot Scrub (for summer fresh, sandal ready feet)
8-10 Ripe Strawberries 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 Tsp. Salt
Mix thoroughly until a paste forms and apply to feet. Massage gently for 10 minutes. Rinse and apply your favorite moisturizer. Refrigerate after use, throw away after 24 hours as strawberries tend to break down quickly after use.
Fruit Smoothie Hair Mask
½ Banana ¼ Avocado
¼ Honey Dew Melon 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
2 Tbsp. Plain Yogurt
Blend all ingredients until smooth. Apply to damp hair and allow to soak for 15-20 minutes. Rinse well. As this is used once a week on hair, I would not store and reuse it.
Oh, and did I mention the homemade pumpkin body butter recipe…
Posted on December 31, 2009 - by Regina
Christmas traditions . . . . we’ve covered a lot, haven’t we? As a musician, I would have thought music would be at the forefront of my memories, but it wasn’t, although Perry Como, The Carpenters, and Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops provided the soundtrack for most of what I consider our Christmas “traditions.” I have the basic memories of playing “Mary” in the church pageant as a preschooler and leaving out cookies and boiled custard (never milk, for some reason) for Santa.
But as I sat and thought about what icons constitute the traditions “Christmas” to me, the first thing I thought of was fire, and then, close after that, chocolate. What a combination, right?
One of my earliest memories of Christmas was at my grandparent’s house. In winter, they staved off drafts on ordinary days by covering the large doorways with dark green woolen army blankets and stayed close to the heater in the “dining room,” which turned into the “everything” room in winter.
Except at Christmas. I remember one Christmas, in particular, when we arrived to find the blankets gone, the couch moved from its place along the one long wall in the living room, to a place of honor in front of a roaring fire in the fireplace.
I don’t remember much more about that Christmas, or even how old I was, or if we ever did it again. All I know is that we sat around the fire—my grandparents, parents, aunt and uncle, and cousins (was Jeanie even born yet? I’m pretty sure my sister wasn’t . . .)—just enjoying the warmth of the fire and of family spending time together on Christmas day.
And then there are the candles. My mother always had lots of candles burning in decorative holders. At some point before bedtime, many times in the weeks leading to Christmas and New Years, we would turn off all the lights, the only illumination coming from the lights of the Christmas tree and the candles. It’s a tradition I carry on to this day in my own home. It gives us time to relax, to decompress from the day, and to settle our minds and hearts on what Christmas is REALLY about—the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ.
And then there is chocolate. There are many kinds of candies and pastries I love to make, and love to eat even more, but this year, when I made that first batch of creamy chocolate fudge, my youngest daughter said, “Christmas can come now. Mom’s made fudge.” It’s MY mom’s recipe, except I don’t infect it with those silly pecans . . . Between what we have consumed and given away, I think I’ve made five batches this season.
Flickering logs, candles, and a dish of fudge does much, for me at least, to downgrade the stress and worry of the season. And yes, I’m one of those people who tend to dwell on getting things done, on not meeting grandiose expectations, and on the season rushing by before I’ve had a chance to sit and enjoy time with my family and friends.
When I stop and think of the blessings I’ve been given, the family that is still around me, and the loved ones that I’ve been able to enjoy yet another year, I smile. I smile at being able to celebrate not only Christmas, but my grandmother’s 89th birthday. I smile at the look of glee on a 20-year-old’s face when she sees “Beatles Rock Band” under the tree, and I smile when I see the utter concentration on the face of my nearly-fifteen-year-old as she dices garlic cloves with a precision that an Iron Chef would appreciate.
I smile when I think that, to my children, flickering lights and chocolate mean that “Christmas can come now.”
Thank you, Lord, for the gift of your Son, and for the gifts of fire and chocolate.