Friday, April 29, 2011

Fairy Tale Wedding.

via CNN

Make way for the new order.

His Royal Highness Prince William Arthur Philip Louis of Wales, 
heir to the British throne, married Berkshire girl Catherine Elizabeth Middleton 
in a fairytale ceremony Friday that put the most glamorous of Hollywood weddings to shame.

Now let's see if they can figure out the happily ever after part. 

So who was up with me watching it live?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Royal Wedding Dessert.

The Royal Wedding countdown madness has officially reached fever-pitch! You certainly didn't think I was going to let it go unmentioned, did you?

Well, actually, I may have but for the fact that the internet is positively abuzz with news {and I use that term lightly} that Prince William requested  Chocolate Biscuit Cake adapted from royal chef Darren McGrady’s recipe as his dessert of choice for the festivities.

This no-bake cake may be lowbrow but one bite and I bet you'll be smitten too:  imagine a souped-up, chocolate covered Rice Krispies treat made with animal or graham crackers (American substitute for the traditional digestives the Brits use).

Guess what I'll be eating at 5am on Friday morning?

You are cordially invited to indulge royally!

Chocolate Biscuit Cake
authentic version by Darren McGrady

4 ounces dark chocolate
4 ounces granulated sugar.
4 ounces unsalted butter
1 egg
8 ounces Rich tea biscuits (Amy note: substitute animal crackers or graham crackers)
½ teaspoon butter for greasing
8 ounces dark chocolate (for coating)
1 ounce chocolate (for decoration)

Lightly grease a 6 inch by 2 ½ inch cake ring and place on a tray on a sheet of parchment paper. Break each of the biscuits into almond size pieces by hand and set aside. Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl until the mixture starts to lighten. Melt the 4 ounces of chocolate and add to the butter mixture whilst constantly stirring. Beat in the egg to the mixture. Fold in the biscuit pieces until they are all coated with the chocolate mixture. Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake ring. Try to fill all of the gaps on the bottom of the ring because this will be the top when it is un-molded.

Chill the cake in the refrigerator for at least three hours. Remove the cake from the refrigerator and let it stand while you melt the 8 ounces of chocolate. Slide the ring off the cake and turn it upside down onto a cake wire. Pour the melted chocolate over the cake and smooth the top and sides using a palette knife.
Allow the chocolate to set at room temperature. Carefully run a knife around the bottom of the cake where the chocolate has stuck it to the cake wire and lift it onto a tea plate.

Melt the remaining 1 ounce of chocolate and use to decorate the top of the cake.

Or, if you prefer a less authentic but easy-like-Rice Krispies version try the one created by Tea & Sympathy in NYC.

Prince William’s Chocolate Crunch Cake

For the cake
1 box graham crackers
¼ c. raisins
¼ c. nuts, chopped
5 oz. dark chocolate
5 oz. milk chocolate
1 stick butter, room temp.
1 14-oz. can condensed milk

For the topping
5 oz. dark chocolate
1 tsp. milk

In a large metal bowl, crumble graham crackers into bite-size pieces. Add raisins and nuts. In a saucepan, melt chocolates, butter, and milk. Stir frequently so chocolate doesn’t burn. Add melted mixture to crackers and stir until dispersed.  Line an 11-by-7-inch pan with waxed paper. Pour mixture into pan; spread evenly. Refrigerate for 2 hours.

For the topping, combine ingredients in a saucepan; stir until melted. Remove cake from fridge and cover with topping. Cut into squares and serve.

Watch a video demonstration of this version here.

Either way it sounds like ooey-gooey chocolatey goodness!

Do you have plans to watch the royal nuptials early Friday morning or otherwise celebrate William's and Kate's big day?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


As wildfires ravage the State of Texas, the Texas Forest Service 
estimates that year-to-date over 6,000 fires have burned over 1.8 million acres. 

Unfortunately, many fires remain uncontained.  

Please keep our state, the affected families and all the 
heroes fighting these horrific blazes in your prayers.

Wildfire approaching McDonald Observatory near Ft. Davis, Texas.
Photos by: Frank Cianciolo / McDonald Observatory

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Weekday Culture.

Charles Riley (a.k.a. Lil Buck) is a hip-hop choreographer; his specialty is a dance called the Memphis Jook. Yo-Yo Ma is the best-known cellist in the world.

Their collaboration at a benefit for art programs in public schools is, in a word, amazing!

For your reference, Yo-Yo Ma plays “The Swan” (a.k.a. “The Dying Swan”), by Camille Saint-Saëns; the piece is meant to evoke a body moving through water.


I am absolutely fascinated by how beautifully these two seemingly disparate art forms come together.  

Monday, April 25, 2011

They arise and call her busy.

A couple weeks ago I prepared a devotional for a women's group. It was a spin or parody on the Proverbs 31 woman. Unfortunately, as I admitted for that group, my children do not arise and call me blessed; but arise and call me busy

They see me as tired. Overwhelmed and over scheduled. But I take pride in the fact that I say "no" to activities that eat into our family time. I value simplicity and solitude. And yet, somehow in the midst of my un-busy life, I managed to be very busy. 

I cannot deny it because when people ask "How are you?" I generally reply with the sad cliché, "Busy!"

The hubs asks what I have going on this week and I say, "Oh, it's going to be busy!"

I bore myself with my busyness. But moreover, I fear that my children will remember me as busy. 

I fear they will not remember the countless hours I sat with them on our playroom floor building with blocks. 

I fear they will never know that I read Goodnight Moon five thousand times. In one day. Because they kept asking for "just one more!"

I fear they will have no recollection of the countless days we spent lounging at the park. Or the beach. Or in the backyard. 

Will they only remember the piles on my desk, the bags under my eyes and me screaming "Be quiet so I can finalize this blog post before we run off to our next activity." 

So last week I indulged in a little bloggy experiment. I stopped blogging entirely -- both writing and reading. I wanted Holy Week to be a quiet time. A time to snuggle up with my family and be still. I wanted time for introspection and reflection. 

I wanted time to focus on being more of what Proverbs 31 refers to as a "wife of noble character." 

Well guess what I discovered?

No matter how much time I have, I fill it. 

I should have had hours and hours to spare, but I didn't. 

When I have time I simply find things to fill such time. 

Were they "better" things? 

Maybe. Some of them.

At least for the first few days I did not sit down at my computer in the afternoon hours when the kids were home. And I did make a conscious effort to spend time just being with them. 

Not doing something with them, but just being available. 

It was Amy unplugged. 

But as I said, that was the first few days. 

As the week progressed, however, the obligations seemed to mount again. Family was arriving for the long weekend. There were meals to plan and prepare. Sheets to wash and beds to make. And, of course,  the Easter Bunny was not going to fill the eggs and baskets without my assistance. 

By Thursday I was back to frantic-busy Amy. Unplugged maybe, but not unengaged. 

But then I realized: The "wife of noble character" I so long to emulate is not idle. In fact, that woman is running herself ragged.  "She sets about her work vigorously." {Proverbs 31:17} "She does not eat the bread of idleness." {Proverbs 31:27}. 

And technology is not to blame for my busyness. 

This blog is not to blame for my busyness. 

Busyness is simply inherent in who I am. 

So while I may not yet be revered at the city gates, I realize that my busyness is nothing about which I should feel guilty. My kids and family are never rarely neglected. 

Quite simply, my busyness is a product of me doing all I do for my family, my community, and perchance, for myself. 

But moreover, my busyness and being a wife of noble character are not mutually exclusive. In fact, it is at least partly my desire to be a wife of noble character that lends itself to busyness. 

I know I still have much work to do in that regard, but I feel like I can now see the path in front of me -- a cluttered, messy path with unmade beds and piles of paperwork, but truly, that's the only path I know.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


Three Marys at the Tomb by Annibale Carracci, c1600
But the angel answered and said to the women, 
“Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.
He is not here; for He is risen, as He said." Matthew 28:1-9 


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Palm Sunday.

Palm Sunday commemorates the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. The gospels record the arrival of Jesus riding into the city on a donkey, while the crowds spread their cloaks and palm branches on the street and shouted "Hosanna to the Son of David" and "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord" to honor him as their long-awaited Messiah and King.

Palm Sunday is the beginning of Holy Week and a time for Christians to prepare their hearts for the agony of His Passion and the joy of His Resurrection.

As we begin Holy Week I plan to take a break from blogging. I want to set this week aside, clear my plate of distractions and spend time reflecting on the final week of Jesus' life.

In His name,  

Friday, April 15, 2011

Weekend Words of Wisdom.

So poignant. 

And true. 

I hope to impart this wisdom on my children.

Life is simply too short. 

And unpredictable. 

via Pinterest

I wish you all a happy, happy weekend. 

Mine will be just a tad too action-packed. 

I am looking forward to Sunday more than you can imagine!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Dear Apple.

Dear Apple, 

First of, let me assure you, I am still completely smitten. That has not changed. And, in fact, smitten is probably the understatement of the century. 

Let's just be honest: I am in love and horribly co-dependent.

I've handed my heart, my life, and every single detail of it over to you for care and keeping. You manage control every diminutive aspect of my life. You wake me up in the morning. You tell me where to go, when to be there and who I am going to see. You beep at me, tweet at me and ensure that I am never more than 30 seconds away from my next Facebook post. 

This all started so innocently about nine years ago when I left the practice of law {a hideous, PC infested field} and purchased my first iMac for the home. It was so cute. And user friendly. I quickly fell for the darling screen bopping above the small, circular base. I said goodbye to refrigerator-sized CPUs and have never looked back. 

Unfortunately, since such day it appears you have indeed permeated every corner and aspect of my life. And I have clearly proven myself loyal to an extreme. 

At last count I noted the following in our house alone {don't even get me going on the hub's office}:
4 iPods
3 iPhones
2 iPads
1 MacBook Air
1 MacBook
1 Mac mini
3 iHomes

Additionally, I recently upgraded the Mac mini to Snow Leopard so all computers have the latest and greatest. I purchased iLife '11 so I have the same version of iMovie, iPhoto and iDVD as the kids. Of course, I will upload all the photos from iPhoto to make an iPhoto book. 

I purchase all my music from iTunes. The kids and I are incessantly looking for new apps in iTunes and in the new App Store. Brilliant - I can now have even more apps on the computer.

The circle is complete.

But truly, don't you think that is enough?!? 

Now, I fear, you've simply crossed the line. I can deal with you controlling my contacts, my music, my calendar, my social media, my memories, my Internet addiction and my communication with the entire world, but truly, do not mess with my weight.

Honestly, you should have known this segment of my life is off limits. I do not own a scale. I do not like to weigh myself and I certainly do not want a WiFi Body Scale to sync my weight wirelessly among all my many devices. I thought WiiFit was bad enough with it's BMI index and telling graphs.

But now this!?!

The WiFi Body Scale takes it a step further and "automatically records all your weight and impedance measurements wirelessly to your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch thanks to its built-in Wi-Fi connection. You can see a comprehensive view of all your weight data collected by the scale (weight, BMI, fat and lean muscle mass)."

Thanks for that. Just what I've always wanted.

What, will the iHome start screaming in the morning: get up and take a run fat @*#!

Next time I cuddle up with my iPad to leisurely read a book it will sweetly *bing* and remind me that I have had three cookies this morning and have not run in the year 2011.

I can't take it.

Isn't any aspect of my life off limits?!?

It is just too much.

And yet . . .

I'm strangely curious. I wonder if "keeping my very own fitness coach right in my pocket" will truly allow me to "stay motivated by setting goals and monitoring my weight over the long term."

Because if it works . . . well, then not only will you make my life easier, more organized and so much more visually pleasing, but you will make me skinny too!

Oh my!

I think this love affair may indeed last until death do us part. 

Forever yours, 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Dog art.

If you visit this little corner of the blogosphere with any regularity you know I love my dogs. So it certainly cannot surprise you to find I've spent considerable time contemplating doggie portraits {stop laughing - I am quite serious}. 

When I ran across these stunning dog portraits I stopped in my tracks. Not only would it look great in my house {or any house for that matter}, but don't you think my sweet doxies would make an amazing collage?!

The artist is Sam Price and his portraits "are created by cutting and assembling a number of photographs (primarily from recycled magazines) onto a canvas fixed with a glue emulsion. This process can be defined as collage or more specifically, photomontage."

Photomontage. I think I tried something like that in my high school memory book. This, however, is much, much cooler! 

all images via
Don't you think they strike just the perfect balance between art and pet portraiture?!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Book Review - Heaven is for Real.

The latest book to top the lists (indeed the New York Times best seller list) is called Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back, by Todd Burpo, Sonja Burpo and Colton Burpo.

Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and BackAs I read through Heaven is for Real, I became increasing attached to the Burpo family. I wanted only the best for them. I felt vested in their story and was honestly pleased to think of them financially profitting from it. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

The book describes a story of a family, specifically their son Colton, who are a pretty typical Midwestern family. Living in Imperial, Nebraska the family seemed to be the average family: Working parents with two kids that are just trying to make ends meet. And by "making ends meet", I mean working two jobs and still not quite having enough to pay every bill every month.

After Todd, the father and a priest, had gone through a particularly trying year -- breaking his leg, not able to work in his side business due to injury and having a mastectomy {yes, the father had a mastectomy} -- the family was in need of a little family time away from the stresses plaguing their lives. The weekend away did not, however, provide the respite needed.

On vacation, Colton became ill. Very ill. Extremely ill. As all parent's do, they struggled with determining the severity of his situation. They waited thinking the next day he'd improve. When he continued to decline they took him home to their hospital where the doctors misdiagnosed him with the stomach flu. The Burpos continued to watch their son decline. After a few days of gut-wrenching uncertainty, the Burpos moved Colton to another hospital where it was determined his appendix had burst days ago. He needed emergency surgery. Railing against God for this Job-like testing, as Colton was wheeled into the operating room screaming, Todd thought he'd seen his son for the last time.

Against all odds, and through multiple surgeries, Colton miraculously recovered. The caliber of the miracle would not begin to be revealed till months later when Colton revealed to his family that he had been to Heaven. Over the course of time Colton would open up and share details of his experience; offering preternatural knowledge of things about which, his family says, Colton had no prior knowledge. As Todd described it, Colton's revelations came in the sort of call-it-as-you-see-it way of preschoolers who have not yet "learned either tact or guile." From details about Heaven to interactions with family members who passed on prior to Colton's birth, this story is one which invites the reader into contemplation of mystery.

The Burpos demonstrate an amazing sense of humility and circumspection in the narrative. They tread carefully with Colton letting him tell his story as he was ready. Seven years passed from the first inklings of Colton's experience to the publishing of the book. This was not a rush to the presses to make a quick buck. The Burpos understand that this story is a gift. They treat it gingerly and respect that, in order to maintain credibility, it must be told in bits, over time, and Colton was ready to share.

Here's a brief synopsis of what Colton shared with his family over the course of years:
  • He sat in Jesus’ lap.
  • He met his unborn sister (a miscarriage - his parents never told him about).
  • He saw John the Baptist.
  • There is a coming battle with Satan.
  • There are thousands of colors we have never seen.
  • He met his great granddad (who told him things about his father that he could not know).
  • He saw Jesus’ “marks” on his hands and feet.
  • All the people had wings of various sizes (including Colton) and flew around (except Jesus who moved up and down as if on an escalator).
  • Jesus had the most beautiful eyes, a beard, a white gown, a purple sash, and a crown.
  • All the people had a light above their head.
  • Jesus sits on a throne at the right hand of God and Gabriel is on the left.
  • He sat by God the Holy Spirit (who he could not describe) and explained to his dad that God is a Trinity.
  • It never gets dark in heaven because God the Father and God the Son are the lights.
  • There were all kinds of animals everywhere.
  • Nobody is old in heaven and no one wears glasses.
  • Jesus “shoots” power down from heaven to his father while he is preaching (like I hope he is doing for me while I am blogging!).
  • The gates to heaven were made of gold and pearls.
  • He was actually only there for three minutes (timelessness in heaven?).
This is not a book that affected my faith. I do not need a first-hand account to know that heaven is indeed real. The very foundation of my faith is based upon the fact that heaven is indeed real and that, despite my sin, I will one day be welcomed by God with open arms. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed reading about heaven and the love God has for all his children. It is an up-lifting and hopeful story {though the hospital portions had me crying like a baby}.

I do not suggest this book as a conversion tool or a life-changing read {though the hubs, a life-long Christian, was clearly affected by it}. And I certainly don't recommend this book as a basis for theological discernment about either the afterlife or the end of time. We already have a book for that.

But take this book for what it is: a sweet story of the love of parents for their child, the care of Christians for each other in times of crisis, and the amazing and unending grace of God. This book is a wonderful illustration of exactly that.

And can't we all use a little more of that!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Happy Birthday to the Hubs!

Today is the hub's 40th birthday. 

He likes to say he married an older woman. 
93 days older to be exact. 
But who's counting?! 

He is my rock.
My constant. 
My friend. 
And the first love of my life.

He's been with me through the worst of times
And the best of times. 

From the very moment our duo entered our lives, I gained a newfound respect for him. 
Instantly, almost magically, he morphed into exactly what 
I wanted needed my husband to be as a father 
{which means he is as good a dad as my dad}. 
And let the record reflect: my standards are very, very high. 

But he continually makes the mark. 

He reads bedtime stories. 

And shares his newspaper with precocious little girls.

He and the Little Guy check out the chicks on the beach. 

He ensures the Little Guy is properly dressed for game day.

And takes care of a sick little guy. 

He shops with us and innocently says: "We don't normally 
spend that much money on their clothes, right?" 
No, honey, of course we don't. 

He willingly takes on the role of "family clown."

  He gives motivational speeches when circumstances warrant intervention. 

 He comes with me for drop-off on the first day of Kinder. 
Because he knows I'll be the one crying. 

 He spends countless hours in the middle of the lake . 

He coaches the kids' sports.

 He brings flowers to his girls. 

He relishes in our silly family jokes.

He carves pumpkins to exacting specifications. 

He is supportive and loving but pushes us all. 

He puts his family first and always has our backs. 

And through it all he always makes time for his first best girl.

So, here's to you babe!  

Happy Birthday!

And here's to spending the next forty together!


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Twin emails.

They may have shared a womb, but that is where the similarities begin and end. 

I once shared that I created Gmail accounts for my duo so I could easily send them notes from time to time. Things I would not remember to write down in their baby books. Those fleeting moments - equal parts precious and rare - that we so easily forget when when we are in the grind of everyday life. 

I opened their accounts in 2007 when they were only 4. I didn't have a plan for sharing this treasure trove with them. I just hoped I would know when the time was right. 

And apparently this week the time was right. I configured their Gmail accounts to feed into Mail on their Mac Book. I told them they could now read their emails and send emails to anyone in their address book {me, the hubs, nana and grandad for now}. 

I walked away allowing them a bit of privacy to relish in all the joyous little morsels I'd shared over the past four years. 

I just couldn't wait to see what they'd say. 

So I waited. And waited. 

Ultimately they didn't "say" anything, but I received an email back from each of them that pretty much says it all. 

I was amazed by the dissimilarity of their reactions! And equally perplexed by Little Miss Thang's apology for biting me?!?

But isn't it interesting that they both chose to respond to me via email? I suppose I set the stage for that. 

I should be thankful they didn't write on my Facebook wall, text or tweet me. 

It's only a matter of time before these smart little thangs figure out they too can blog.  

Lord, help me then!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

One Day Without Shoes.

Today I'm blogging barefoot. 

Of course, I am in the comfort of my own home. 

Where the floors are clean {relatively - I do have 3 dogs}. 

I will not contract a disease or an infection. 

I will not have painful sores or open wounds which I cannot properly clean. 

I will simply go a day without shoes. 

Just one day. 

Not a lifetime. 

It's hardly worth mentioning. 

It's not much of a sacrifice at all. 

But my One Day Without Shoes is the least I can do. 

To raise awareness

To show a spirit of service.

For others who are not so fortunate. 

Join me today.

Without shoes. 

If you don't blog, grab a button or post a picture of your bare feet on your Facebook page. 

Monday, April 4, 2011

Riley's new friends.

There is truly nothing that puts a smile on my face like a new Spring dress. 

I know.  I know. 

I should probably say "nothing puts a smile on my face like seeing my darling children each morning." 

And I might utter those words if I were wearing a new Spring dress. 

Because everything is better when I have a new dress into which I can effortlessly slip.

And I do not say this in jest. I honestly love dresses.

I adore the instant chic and put-together look they provide.

I can use all the help I can get and Lesley Evers has done it again. 

Her new Spring line launched this morning. 

Here are a couple exclusive shots of a couple darling new prints:

I own Tilda in Red Sateen. Believe me when I say this dress has a gorgeous 
and very flattering cut. People ask if if I've lost weight every time I wear it. 
Hmm, do I need to lose weight or do I otherwise just dress like a slob? 
Please don't answer that. 

Grace and I have yet to meet in person. I, of course, plan to rectify
that situation straight away!  

And yes, I own a pink cruiser. With a basket!  

So don't mind me if you see my cruising down Ocean wearing my 

Of course I'll have two kids behind me screaming: 

"Mom, he tried to cut me off." 

"Mom, she nearly knocked me into the curb." 



Well, I'll still look effortlessly chic
{even if it is taking every fiber of my being to maintain my a smile}!  

Check out Lesley's entire Spring line
{which also includes darling skirts and tunics starting at $125}!

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Wife of Nobel Character.

Source: via Amy on Pinterest
Today is a good friend's, Linda's, birthday. She is my mentor, my bible study buddy, my prayer warrior,
my biggest fan {possibly my only fan}, and, at times, my mom-substitute. I adore her. I respect her. And above all, I believe ever word she tells me when it comes to relationships.

She is a Proverb's 31 wife.

And I pray that one day, I will be more like her: a wife of noble character.

A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
She gets up while it is still night;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her female servants.
She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.
In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.
She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
Honor her for all that her hands have done,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

Proverbs 31:10-31

And I ain't foolin'!
But Happy April Fools' Day as well!

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