Jenster's Musings

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Eggless Cookie Dough Recipe

I've just enough time to post the recipe I've been promising you guys. So here it is:

1 C. butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1 C. packed brown sugar
2 C. all purpose flour
1 pinch salt
1 C. chocolate chips

Cream butter, vanilla and sugar. Sift flour and salt. Mix into butter/sugar. Fold in chips.

The recipe says to spread in a jelly roll pan and bake for 20 minutes at 350. I don't recommend this at all, however. While the dough was delicious - especially without the chocolate chips - the cookies themselves weren't very good. They would probably be okay if you baked them in an 8x8 pan instead because they were just too thin.


Mused by Jenster :: 3:32 PM :: 5 People musing:

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Monday, September 25, 2006

No Time for Blogging

We had a great weekend. Lots of good stuff going on. Much to tell. But I don't have time write much so I'll give you the Reader's Digest Condensed Version.

Saturday evening was a neighborhood block party. There's only one way in and out of the subdivision so we blocked off one of the streets in the back and had tents with food, drinks, trinkets for kids, etc., and XM radio playing classic rock and 80's hits on speakers borrowed from a local DJ. Other than all the bikes and scooters racing around, it was very reminiscent of a highschool party. We met a lot of very nice people and I think we're going to really like living here. It's kind of like Wisteria Lane. Except without the perfect bodies. Or hot lawn boys. No real drama going on either. Haven't heard about any murders. Or arson. Okay. So maybe it's not like Wisteria Lane.

Sunday afternoon Taylor was baptized. That was an exciting thing for us because it's something he's been thinking about and praying about for several years now. Finally he felt the time was right so he took the plunge. Literally and figuratively. Todd baptized Katie in May and was privileged to do the same for Taylor yesterday. Our church just moved from a movie theater into an actual building, but it doesn't have a baptistry yet so Taylor and a few others were baptized in a jacuzzi. A 92 degree jacuzzi. They did turn off the jets before the baptism just because that would have been a little weird, doncha think?

Then last night he had his debut as a rock star. Well, he played his electric bass for the youth group band. It was so much fun! I was grinning like such an idiot, watching him up on the stage, rocking out. Awesome! His particular band plays once a month and I can hardly wait until October!

I probably won't be blogging much in the next week or so. My very dear friend, Beth, is coming to visit on Wednesday and I'm trying to get the house in some sort of order before she gets here. I also have a lot of running around to do because, even though I'll be here, I won't be here. Know what I mean? Of course, Beth and I are going to New York City on Thursday and coming home on Friday. Then a few more days of playing before she flies back home to Arkansas.

Also, I owe you all a chocolate chip cookie dough recipe and a book review on "The Devil's Delilah". I'll try to get that done tomorrow.

Mused by Jenster :: 8:08 AM :: 8 People musing:

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

MS 150

My husband, Todd, rode in the 26th Annual City to Shore Bike Tour this past Saturday. He colleted a good amount of money for the charity and I decided to post the email he sent his sponsors yesterday. After reading it I'm sure you'll feel a deep compassion for our children. The poor kids just don't have a chance.

The Ride – Todd and Stan’s Inaugural MS150 Bike Tour

I am sending this message to all of you that sponsored me in the 2006 MS150 Bike Tour to thank you once again for your kindness and to give you a run-down on how the ride went. I will provide an executive summary first and then more detail afterwards with as much humor as I can inject into a painful experience.

For those that do not know, Stan is a very good friend of mine and fellow staff member, that signed up for this adventure with me…..well we kind of coerced each other into it.

Executive Summary:

I know some of you (i.e. Tom) like information provided in quick points of interest, so here you go:

Got up early…..rain
Made it to starting line……rain
Started race…..light rain
More rain……then heavy rain….then light rain……finally stopped after two hours……during this time – misery.
Totally soaked, but dried out after awhile
There are actually hills in New Jersey!
Made 1st rest stop (20 miles)….everything OK
Made 2nd rest stop (+ 10 miles)….ate lunch….fell because I had my feet clipped into my pedals and could not get them out in time……ouch!
Made 3rd rest stop (+ 15 miles)….exhausted…pain…nothing left in the tank.
Got on the bus to take us to finish line.
Betsy picked up Stan and I, or more appropriately what was left of us, and took us home.
Goal for race: 25 miles
Distance Traveled: 46 miles
Average Speed: 11 mph
Max Speed: 22 mph
Total Riding Time: 4 hours 30 minutes

This ends the Executive Summary

Juicy Details:

Some initial information:
When Stan and I signed up to do this, we did not even have bikes.

Our original goal was to ride the 25 mile course.

After we got our bike on July 8th, Stan road about 2-3 times a week; I however road only 1-2 a week, but was swimming in the mornings 2 times a week.

Our typical ride was around 12-15 miles.

I had one 20 mile test ride and did OK.

I had one 40 mile ride on the Saturday before the race and just about killed myself since I did not eat anything before or during the ride…..I know…..IDIOT!!!
Ok, on with the story.

First, I woke up ( 4:30am) and realized it was raining and asked myself if I was nuts to ride in the rain. I decided that I was and proceeded to get my bike loaded up and head on over to Stan’s house to pick up my fellow loon.

Got to Stan’s and loaded up him and his bike. Started for New Jersey while we steadily tried to talk ourselves into still riding in this thing in the rain. We saw cars passing us on the freeway with bags covering their bike seats and thought “that was a good idea, too bad we did not think of it”.

Traffic was absolutely horrible once we got closer to the Starting Line. There were actually people getting dropped off on the side of the freeway by friends or spouses, unloading their bikes and riding off the freeway to the Starting area……absolutely nuts!! Stan and I thought it best to wait in the nice dry truck.

Once we finally arrived at the Starting area, which took 45 minutes to travel about one mile, it was still raining. We got out of the truck and prepared for our adventure.

With bikes ready to go and riders pretty sure they were ready to go, we headed for the Starting area where there were 6,000 other folks doing the same thing. What a nightmare….rain, people everywhere all heading in different directions to check-in, pick jerseys, go to the bathroom, etc. I am not a big fan of large crowds, especially in the dark, in the rain, all with bikes…….I just wanted to get out of there and on the road.

Unfortunately Stan and I missed the team photo while standing in line to use one of the sparkling clean port-a-potties.

After our port-a-potty business was taken care of, we headed for the actual Starting line and embarked on our adventure like two intrepid explorers…..already soaked to the bone, cold, and questioning our sanity with each pedal stroke.

The first thing we hit was a hill……now we were told that there we not any hills on the bike route, but those that told us that were apparently either kidding or do not know what hills are!!

There was a mass of people riding, very close together with rooster tails coming off all of the tires….water was everywhere!!! Poor Stan wears glasses and could not see a thing; I left mine in the truck because I figured that I would not be able to see anyway.

Lesson Learned #1 – roadway stripes are very slippery when wet. I found this out the hard way, but luckily did not crash…..recovered gracefully, at least that is how I choose to see it.

The rain was light at first, then got really heavy, back to light again and then finally stopped just before the first rest stop.

I could actually feel rivers of water running down my legs while riding, pouring into the back of my bike shoes and squirting out the toe on each pedal stroke…..”we’re havin’ some fun now, aren’t we Stan?”..…Stan’s response as he raised his eyebrows and crossed his eyes at me, “Oh yeah, sure we are.”

Made it to the first rest stop at the 20 mile mark……madness!!! There were people and bikes everywhere. At least it had stopped raining by this time. Stan and I felt pretty good. We ate a banana, checked out water supply, and headed out after about a 10 minute break.

On the road again…..going places that I’ve never been….the life I love is making music with my friends-------oh wait, that is a song.

Heading now towards rest stop #2 where we will get lunch. This was an additional 10 miles out.

While riding with Stan on my back wheel, I hear this awful crack and clatter and instantly think that my pal has just exited the race via a nasty fall. I turn to see that he is still behind me, but slowing down. Come to find out it was the rear light he has on his bike which decided it had had enough abuse and went sailing off the bike and down the street. Stan collected said light, which no longer works…..go figure, and we were off again.

We approached an intersection where we had to stop. I unclipped my right foot so that when I stopped I could put my right foot down, leaving my left foot clipped for the restart. My body decided that it would rather lean on my left foot…one problem….my left foot was still clipped in the pedal. Thank God that Stan was there to catch me while I ranked my foot out of the clip before falling flat on my booty in the middle of 100 fellow riders. I have found that Stan is always there when you need him.

Lesson Learned #2 – unclip both feet at upcoming stops.

We reached the 2nd rest stop which was more crowded than the first. At this time we were not feeling as great as we did at the previous rest stop. We waited in line to get something to eat. I was really not feeling like eating much of anything, but had been scolded by several of you that if I did not, than I was in big trouble. I had a chicken sandwich and a bottle of some type of V8 Splash and I was good to go. Stan and I refilled our water supplies, used the wonderful port-a-potty again, and prepared to leave after about a 30 minute break. It would be at this time that I decided that I should really fall one more time just for the heck of it and proceeded to do so for the same reason as I stated above…shoes clipped into pedals. Damage was minimal and we headed out again for rest stop #3, another 15 miles away.

Lesson Learned #3 – pay attention to Lesson Learned #2!!

About 5 miles into this leg of the journey, things started to hurt….A LOT!!!. I shall not mention what those things are, but suffice it to say they hurt badly!! Stan was having issues with his knees as well. Both our rear-ends were killing us from sitting on these bike seats for so long.

Did I mention hills already…..this route did not have any huge hills, but it did have plenty of gradual hills that just sucked the energy out of Stan and I.

After trying about 15 different ways to sit on my bike seat without causing a considerable amount of pain, we pulled over on the side of the road at about mile 40 in total. This is where Stan and I had a serious talk about body parts, their usefulness (or lack there of), and the contemplation of the universe…anything to not sit on that blasted bike seat any longer.

We made the decision to suck it up and make it to rest stop #3 even if it killed us, which we thought was a distinct possibility. After patting each other on the back, saying our good-bye’s in case of our sudden demise, we started once again for rest stop #3.

Did I mention hills……the last 5 miles to rest stop #3 was all UP HILL!!!!!! Those were the longest 5 miles that I have ever ridden in my life.

We pulled into rest stop #3 running on mere fumes at best. When we stopped, we just stood there for what seemed like forever. I could hardly move.

There are busses that drive along the route to pick up folks that cannot make it any further. We eagerly looked for the bus and found it……way over there.

We walked our bikes….slowly….to the bus, loaded them up and got on the bus…..or as we called it, the “Bus of Shame”. Everyone on the bus had one thing in common, they all looked absolutely EXHAUSTED!!!! We were in good company.

I could go on about the bus ride and how much fun that was as we bounced down the road on what was already hurting, but that would take another couple of pages…… thing that did happen is that, because it took so long for the bus to get to the next rest stop, I had to use the restroom really bad. I finally had to have the bus driver pull over so I could run into the woods to go before my bladder burst.
Lesson Learned #4 – all modesty is lost when you have to go really bad!!

The bus FINALLY made it to the finish area and we picked up our bikes. Stan and I did not feel that it was right for us to ride across the finish line when we did not actually complete the 75 miles, so we walked them on the path behind the spectators….there was some comfort in that we were not the only ones doing so.

Lesson Learned #5 – Start at the appropriate Starting Line so as to finish at the
finish line. If Stan and I were to have started at the 50 mile point, we could have made it.....I know we could have!! Oh well, always next year.

We met up with Betsy, our savior with a vehicle. Proceeded to get something to eat, which looked great, tasted good, but I could just not bring myself to eat hardly anything.

Stan and Betsy dropped me off at the Starting Area so I could transfer my bike to my truck and head home. We said our good-byes and headed for the house.

Got home a little after 8pm, this made for a long day from 4:30am to 8pm. I took a shower, visited with the family for a little while, and then passed out in bed…apparently sprawled out with the TV on and the remote control in my hand. My loving wife moved me into my proper sleeping position and away I went to dreaming about riding in the race again next year…….

All in all this was a fantastic experience. So many people involved, people lined up on the roads cheering everyone on, kids waving and smiling at you as you rode by….even in the rain. The cause is a just one which made the pain all worth it and already has me thinking about riding next year.

Once again thank you so much for your generosity and support.

Mused by Jenster :: 9:20 AM :: 8 People musing:

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Avast, Me Hearties!

Today is September 19 - better known as International Talk Like a Pirate Day to buccaneers and scaliwags alike. A time to grab yerself a pint o' grog, admire Capt'n Jack Sparrow and say things like "Argh" and "Shiver me timbers!" Just go check out the website. It's a hoot!


I finished Viscount Vagabond last night. It was quite a contrast from the previous book (Fool Moon by Jim Butcher). One thing I got a kick out of was the hero's manner of speech. Max is an English Viscount who, before obtaining the title due to his older brother's death, adventured to America. So when he has to come back to take his place as heir, his formal English is peppered with Americanisms, like "ain't". Not something you see in your average Regency novel. Now I'll have to start The Devil's Delilah just to see Max's friend, Jack, get his Happily Ever After.

Mused by Jenster :: 8:56 AM :: 0 People musing:

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Monday, September 18, 2006

Funny Video

My cousin, Charmian, posted this video at our family Yahoo group. It's just too funny not to share. Rather impressive, if you ask me.



Mused by Jenster :: 12:40 PM :: 3 People musing:

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Sunday, September 17, 2006

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

I had a life-altering experience on Saturday. To some it may seem like nothing to get worked up about, no big deal. But to me it was like a gift from God, better than sliced bread (which truly doesn't excite me).

You know how there are special moments in your life that are so full of elation you become overwhelmed? Marriage to that perfect someone, the birth of a much-loved child, an event that proves incredible friendships... This was like one of those. I'm not an overly emotional person, but this experience brought a tear of joy to my eye.

I found an egg-free recipe for chocolate chip cookies. Terribly unexciting on the surface, but then it hits you. "I can make a batch of cookie dough and eat the entire thing without worrying about Salmonella!"

There are those who will consume great quantities of raw cookie dough without giving a thought to the raw eggs. Chances are they won't suffer anything more than a minor tummy ache. But after dealing with suppressed immunities last year, I've become very dubious of anything that may cause a problem.

I may be the last person on the face of this earth to find out there is a recipe for egg-free cookie dough. It could be old news to the rest of you. But for me it's an astonishing revelation. I'm still giddy just thinking about the perfect weekend - cold, rainy, good movies to watch - to make this chocolate chip cookie dough, possibly sans the chocolate chips, and eat without fear. It's very liberating! And while the dough is delicious, the cookies were less than stellar. Evidence that the dough is meant to be eaten BEFORE it's baked!


I am currently reading Viscount Vagabond by Loretta Chase, published together with The Devil's Delilah. Ms. Chase is one of my favorite authors. I've only read three books of hers before - Miss Wonderful, Mr. Impossible, and Lord Perfect. These would definitely fall under the category of fluff, though she does include interesting bits of history (which I personally believe makes them educational), and I found them extremely enjoyable. Great characters, good story lines and lots of humor. It's obvious that Viscount Vagabond is one of her earlier works because the writing isn't quite as smooth as her more recent writings, but it's good enough that I'd rather be reading than doing anything else. But alas, the family expects clean clothes and dinner and the dust needs to be taught who's in charge. I imagine when I do finish it (probably this evening) I'll immediately begin The Devil's Delilah.

Mused by Jenster :: 4:51 PM :: 5 People musing:

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Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Anniversary Cake

As probably all of you know, I had a left mastectomy on May 3, 2005 due to breast cancer. On May 3, 2006 this cake was delivered to my door:

Two of my friends, Lisa and Amy (hi guys), sent this to me for an anniversary cheer-me-up. Along with the cake they sent a card. I don't have it in front of me and am waaay to lazy to go to my room to get it, so I'll paraphrase:

Thank you for having your boob cut off a year ago so you're still here for us to send tacky and crass gifts to.

Now some people probably find the whole thing offensive. But if you know anything about me you know this sort of thing appeals to my depraved sense of humor. The poor lady who baked the cake was so worried that it would upset me that I had to go in her shop the next day and assure her I was rather pleased.

And really, how could I argue with what they said in the card? I'm glad I had my boob cut off so I'm still here to receive gifts, tacky, crass or otherwise.

By the way, it was chocolate and one of the best bakery cakes I've ever had! I only wished I looked more like the cake - flat stomach, tiny waist, etc. And eating that cake certainly didn't help my figure any!


I'm still working on the Jim Butcher book. I am enjoying it so will finish, but it's not holding my attention very well.

Mused by Jenster :: 10:29 AM :: 17 People musing:

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Saturday, September 09, 2006

42/42 & Rocky

Todd is 42-years-old today. He was 19 when we started dating. It's weird to think of him as a middle-aged man. It's downright horrific to think of myself as a middle-aged woman. Where have the years gone? Of course, most of the time I still see us as those crazy twenty-something, newly married kids. But since 50 is the new 30, then I would guess 40 is the new 25. So I don't suppose I'm too far off. It does make explaining a 14-year-old and 11-year-old a little difficult, however.

To celebrate his 42nd birthday, he is bike riding 42 miles today with some buddies. They're starting 21 miles from the Philadelphia Museum of Art and riding there and back. -- Isn't it a beautiful building? -- Actually, it's not exactly a birthday celebration. They're in training for the MS 150 next weekend. Just so happens the ride today is 42 miles. Coincidence? Or something else??

Sylvester Stallone was at the museum just last night, dedicating his Rocky
statue. There was a big hullabaloo about where to put the statue, if it belonged at the museum at all, etc. Considering the museum received world recognition after Rocky Balboa ran up all 72 steps (known as the "Rocky Steps"), it was decided in a 6-2 vote by the museum's Art Commission that, although it's not precisely a "work of fine art", Rocky is definitely associated with the museum. Countless numbers of tourists jog (or at least attempt to) up the steps each year. I don't figure any of the bike riders will be running up the Rocky Steps today!

After that he's settling into his chair (see "What a Monday" below) and watching the Penn State/Notre Dame game with Taylor, the latter in his Notre Dame T-shirt. That's Todd's story, anyway. It's going to be awfully hard to watch the game with closed eyelids.

Following a birthday dinner of stacked enchiladas we'll have chocolate cake. I'm sure the cake won't be as good as his dad's. It never is. But I have a feeling he'll be too wiped out to notice. Then tomorrow will be just another day, except we'll have chocolate cake for breakfast.

And a happy birthday to Dana today, also!! Hope it's a good one. :o)

Mused by Jenster :: 8:39 AM :: 4 People musing:

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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Scary Signs and Wawa


I have now lived in the Northeast for three months. While I would have been perfectly happy to live out my days in the south, I do love it here.
It's beautiful country and the scads of American history is fascinating. But I keep hearing, "Just wait until winter."

I was able to ignore that much repeated statement until I saw this sign. I have to admit - it's kind of freaking me out. I keep thinking of that movie "Storm of the Century" and wonder if this "Snow Emergency Route" is some sort of Noreaster precaution. Really. Does anybody know? What the heck does it mean???

I'm sure those of you who have lived in places where it starts snowing in September and the kids are still skiing come Memorial Day are laughing at me. That's fine. Laugh away. I'm a Southern California girl who thought the mild Arkansas winters were cold.


This next part is for my friend, Beth. She thinks the name "Wawa" is funny. And it is. It took me a while to be able to say, "I'm going to Wawa for a hoagie.
You want one?" with a straight face. But it's truly one of my favorite places to go. Not only is it the best place to buy gas around here, the sandwiches and coffee selections are great. She's coming up in a few weeks and we'll be making Wawa one of our first stops.

I wish I was smart enough to play the radio commercials for Wawa. They're extremely funny. But since I'm not that computer savvy, you'll have to take my word for it. Do any of you have a Wawa near you and know the commercials I'm talking about? With the Wawa pedal that makes everything better? Definitely snort-worthy ads.

By the way - I had a ton of errands to run today. Guess what I had for lunch? A Venti White Chocolate Mocha (capitalized to show the reverence it deserves) from Starbucks in a fantabulous Barnes & Noble and a jumbo box of Goobers!!

Mused by Jenster :: 3:12 PM :: 15 People musing:

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Monday, September 04, 2006

Invincible, Previews & Goobers

Seeing as how we live in the Philadelphia area, it was our civic right - nay, our civic duty - to see the movie Invincible. Just as the plot summary says, it's a "real feel good movie". After several losing years, the Philadelphia Eagles hire Dick Vermeil (Greg Kinnear) from UCLA to coach the team. In an effort to inspire some team spirit in the fans, he holds open tryouts. One guy surprises everyone, including himself, by making the cut - Vince Papale (Mark Wahlberg), a 30-year-old substitute teacher and bartender.

It's the classic underdog story and it leaves you cheering in the end. Vince Papale ended up playing for the Eagles for three seasons and Dick Vermeil went on to take the Eagles to the Superbowl in 1981. But more enjoyable than that was the 1970's fashions and music. It was a two-hour look back into my childhood.

Some of the cinematography left me a bit dizzy which was easy to do since I'm recovering from a slight case of vertigo. Okay. In retrospect maybe it wasn't the movie.

One of the best parts of seeing a movie in the theater is the previews. The more the better. Tickets are expensive, after all. May as well get my money's worth. We saw about five previews today - all movies that look pretty good. The one I'm really anxious to see, however, is The Prestige. Yes, Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale are in it, but they're not the only reasons I want to see it. It just looks really good!

The other best part of seeing a movie in the theater is the candy. DD was getting picked up at the theater by a friend to go rock climbing so I waited out front with her while DS and DH stood in line for the candy. I said, "I want Goobers." A waste of breath considering that's what I always get at the movies. The theater was packed and by the time the guys got up to the front they were in such a hurry they forgot my Goobers. I tried to be an adult about it, but Goobers are a huge part of my movie experience. Even while engrossed in the film, I still kept thinking of Goobers and what might have been. *sigh* We've been home several hours and I still have a craving for them. And just so there's no misunderstanding, I harbor no ill will towards DH. I still got popcorn and Twizzlers out of the deal.

Mused by Jenster :: 7:14 PM :: 2 People musing:

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Saturday, September 02, 2006

Lots of Rain = Movies

It's been raining nonstop since about noon yesterday. Last night the winds got pretty fierce, but it seems they've calmed down some. As much as I lament the fact we didn't get to go camping, I am enjoying the cooler weather. I've been ready for fall since the end of spring. And there's no denying the wonderful fresh smell the rain brings.

Since we weren't able to spend time in our RV we decided to watch the movie RV instead. Very suitable, don't you think? I'm sure this movie is funny even to non-RVers. But this movie really struck a chord with this RVing family. Hilarious!

As of this very moment, Monday looks to be a nice day. Maybe this holiday weekend won't be a total loss after all.

Mused by Jenster :: 12:11 PM :: 5 People musing:

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