Austenland

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Austenland

Jane Hayes’s (Keri Russell) adoration of all things Jane Austen is complicating her love life. Determined to be the heroine of her own story, Jane spends her life savings on a trip to Austenland, an eccentric resort where guests experience complete immersion in the Regency era. Armed with her bonnet, corset and needlepoint, Jane strives to avoid spinsterhood … but has a difficult time determining where fantasy ends and real life—and maybe even love—begins. Jennifer Coolidge (Legally Blonde) and Jane Seymour (Wedding Crashers) also star in this charming romantic comedy.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Lemon Bars and a Lesson in Substitution

So, we've been living here for about five weeks. Has it really been that long? We spent last weekend finishing organizing the stuff in the basement into piles of trash, church garage sale, and keep. Thankfully, the keep pile wasn't humongous. I hate moving. If I didn't have to move ever again, I'd be happy. However, I'm sure my parents would like me to move out eventually.

My mom is on vacation this week, so she's been working on unpacking. On Monday, my day off, we cleaned the kitchen, and sorted our millions of mugs (We've collected SO MANY over the years).

This was cut down by a LOT. 
I did my first bout of real baking tonight, since we have a potluck at work tomorrow. Paula Deen's Lemon Bars are one of the easiest things in the entire world to make, and since they're basically just butter, sugar, and lemon, there is NOTHING wrong with them. They're actually the perfect treat.

Crust
2 sticks salted butter, softened
2 cups flour
1 cup powdered sugar

Filling
4 eggs*
1 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons flour
8 tablespoons of lemon juice**

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter a 9x13 pan.
  2. Stir flour and powdered sugar together. Add butter, and using a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour/sugar mixture until combined. The dough will be crumbly, like sand.
  3. Press into the pan and bake for 20 minutes. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes.
  4. While the crust is baking, beat filling ingredients until smooth.
  5. Pour over the cooled crust, and bake for an additional 25 minutes.
  6. Dust with powdered sugar.

*Now, there's a bit of a substitution in my version of the lemon bars. I only had three eggs, so after a little googling, I found this article that suggested using 1/4 cup oil for the last egg. I beat the eggs with the oil before adding anything else. Seems to have worked out great. 

**The original recipe called for six tablespoons of lemon juice, but I like mine a bit more tart, so I added a couple more splashes. Consistency still seems good. Just be careful in baking with consistency.



Voila!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Book Club Announcement!

Hi, everyone! I hope you're going to join me next month for the first installment of The Jane Austen Book Club. I'm about halfway through Northanger Abbey, and it was a lot more delightful than I remembered.

If I figure out how, I want to create a Google Hangout to discuss it, plus you can feel free to comment on the blog.

Have a great week, everyone!


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Living, Learning, Loving My Lord

I've been spending the last few weeks with my eyes on the news. From the hell that's raining down in the middle east, to the hell that's raining onto our own soil, I've been searching for answers by searching for God.



Not to say I haven't been aquainted with God for quite some time, but when things get especially bad, I call out and ask for reminders that He is the same God that brought the Israelites out of Egyptian slavery (Exodus 14), and the same God that brought down the walls of Jericho (Joshua 6), and who saved the Hebrew people by placing a single woman in a place where she could make a difference to the king (Esther). I'm constantly wondering how God wants me to be like these people, whether he's going to use me to change the world.



The more I learn of God, and truly understand his love, it completely floors me. A few years ago, I was living in a bad roommate situation. She was verbally abusive, negelctful, narcisstic, and selfish. I lost weight due to depression, and she chastised me for trying to entice her boyfriend (not even kidding), and spent most of my time alone crying out to God, praying for Him to fill the lonliness in my life, and if at all possible, remove me from the situation before it was too late. When my beautiful dog passed away in February 2010, I didn't get condolences from her, I got, "Why is the kitchen such a pigsty?" (It wasn't), or "Why do I have to do everything?" Nearly at my breaking point, the next day, God answered prayers that I'd been praying for nearly nine months: I could get out, cut all ties, and never see her again. I'm still convinced that I was at my breaking point, and God pulled me back before I did something completely regrettable.



Right now, we're living in a time of great trouble. I refuse to watch the video of the death of James Foley. When I read about him, and about the other, it breaks my heart. It was so senseless, and barbaric. They didn't deserve to die.



I don't feel completely safe in my country right now. I feel like generations of politicians fighting for their jobs instead of for the people they work for have brought us where we are. We haven't asked for it, but it's a cause and effect action.



God promised long ago that when he was planning on sending Jesus back to earth to bring His followers to Heaven, life would be completely upside down. Today, September 11, a date which all Americans promised not to forget because of the trauma we all felt over it, feels like a date which would rather be forgotten. Our soldiers are turned away from getting their children at school, because the uniform might offend someone. The American Flag might offend someone. Speaking English might offend someone. Being born a certain color might offend someone. I've always believed that I'm going to offend someone no matter what I do, and it's getting to the point where I'm totally right.

I'm wondering if the world, on the cusp of being destroyed by politics, religion, and the selfishness of man, will be pulled from the brink, which will lead to the rapture.



My mind has been extremely rambly today, and I'm sorry that this post isn't as upbeat as some. If you have no idea about the End Times, or the Rapture, Nicholas Cage and Chad Michael Murray are going to be starring in a movie called Left Behind. It is based on a book series that came out around fifteen years ago. I saw the original version, starring Kirk Cameron, but this one looks like it'll be a bit more believable, which is a tad on the scary side. Gotta love Hollywood budgets.



Psalm 27:14:’Wait on the Lord, be of good courage and He will strengthen your heart. 





Monday, September 8, 2014

Lane Bryant Active: A Sports Clothes Review

I'm still working on 10k Trainer by Zen Labs, started week 2 today, running 90 seconds, and walking 2 minutes. It was difficult, but I powered through with my Francesca Battistelli Pandora Station, and it was in part because of my new workout clothes from the Active line at Lane Bryant.

The week before we left for Jake and Kat's wedding, Kiri and I did some shopping down at the Crossing, and stopped in Lane Bryant. I had no intention of buying anything, but they were having a Buy One Get One Free sale on everything in the store, except clearance, which had an additional 60% off the lowest marked price.

I got a pair of workout Capri Pants for $15, and they're VERY comfortable to run in, travel in, lounge in.

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I also got two sports bras, for $44, total (Gotta love those BOGO sales!), which, as a bigger girl with boobs, it's been necessary for running comfortably. I was using a regular bra with a cheaper sports bra doubled over, and it did okay, but I really wanted a legitimate sports bra that would let me run comfortably, without much jiggle.

I got two of the same bra (different colors), and they're VERY comfortable. There's a 4-hook enclosure in back, and the straps are adjustable, and you can change them to match whatever kind of top you're wearing (racerback, regular tank top, etc). They also cover everything up front, so you don't have to worry about popping out (woohoo!). 

The bras are a little hard to close, since they feel like they sit a bit higher than a regular bra, and the underwire feels a little high on the side, but not too terrible. 

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It's really nice to have workout gear that works WITH me instead of against me. I hope that having the right gear will help me keep running in at least a little bit of comfort. 

I was not compensated for this review, and purchased the clothes with my own money. I'm just a satisfied customer. :-)

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Jane Austen Book Club: Northanger Abbey

Time for a short little blurb before I turn of Parks & Recreation and settle in to read for the night. (Side note, how awesome is Leslie Knope? Love her!)

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But last week on my way home from the wedding, I thought back to the one time I met the Bride's mother, and I'd been reading at the time. Reading Pride & Prejudice, but when I told her, she got a little flustered and said she'd never read it.

To be completely honest, I don't know many who actually have read it.

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I promise. I won't judge you if you haven't read it. I could barely finish Insurgent, and couldn't get into Allegiant, despite them being the most popular YA books right now (After Hunger Games and Twilight). People like what they like, and will read what they want.

Since it's been years since I last read any Jane Austen, though, I decided now would be a good time to read through them again. On the way home last weekend, I started reading Northanger Abbey, the story of young girl who meets a handsome clergyman, and visits his family at their estate, where her imagination gets the better of her. It was Jane Austen's first novel, but it wasn't published first.

At the end of the month, I'll write up a blurb about the book, and if you join me, feel free to write up your own review and thoughts for us to discuss.

Have a great September!

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Monday, September 1, 2014

He did it!

The story of how my cousin Jake and I came to be friends is one he probably doesn't remember, because he was so little at the time. He's nine years younger than me, and the first time I held him, I was pretty taken with him. Teeny little bundle as all babies are. However, since he lived in Missouri, and I lived in Iowa, we didn't get to see each other much. For about the first two years, he didn't seem to like strangers very well (Honestly, I'm the same way).

Our first meeting, just days old
One trip that we made to KC, Jake was about three years old, we spent a lot of time running around town, and he and I were stuck in the back seat, and he was actually chattering around a bit. I decided to entertain him, because I'm sure he was as sick of errands as I was by that time. I was about eleven or twelve at the time, I believe. I started doing Looney Toons impressions, and I just made him crack up so hard. The rest of the trip, I taught him how to do them, himself, and he was hilarious.

When they came up for Christmas, he practically ran to the door, and immediately to me. It was the first time that a little kid had ever really paid me any attention, and I relished it. I loved talking to this little guy who was so starry-eyed and full of wonder and fun. When his little sister, Laura, was born the next year, I had two little friends that I adored.

After my college graduation
May, 2009
It was easier to see them both once I got to college, and lived closer. I went up to see them for weekends, and made it a point to attend most of Jake's school plays (I think I only missed two that he was in between sixth grade and twelth grade), and he continued to crack me up by his shenanigans (trying on my funniest-looking shoes, trying to beat me at a few Muppet video games, and playing constant jokes on each other).

While visiting his family, I gradually started to get to know this smart, funny, shy girl that Jake had been friends with for years. The first time I met Katrina, was at Jake's Gold Medal Ceremony for Royal Rangers at his church, and she, much like me, doesn't really talk to people she doesn't know (at least she did that day).

This intelligent girl won my dear cousin's heart, and after he finished his basic training for the United States Air Force, he proposed to her in front of penguins (her favorite animal) with a heart-shaped diamond ring, and she tearily accepted.

He was sent north, and they planned a June wedding, but the wait was too much for the young lovers, and she decided to switch to a college local to him. Their wedding was last night, and it was a gorgeous day. It was hot, but there was a decent amount of shade, and not a cloud in the sky. The day wasn't perfect, but life isn't perfect, and I believe they took it in stride, and enjoyed the love that their joining families bestowed on them.

Me and the Groom
August 31, 2014
I'm still single, and searching for my "Mr. Darcy," as it were, so whenever I go to a wedding and am requested to give the young couple marital advice, I quote Ephesians 4:32, which is just good advice for everyone, no matter what.

Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other,
 just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

I've been praying for this day for weeks now, praying that God would bless the day, the ceremonies, the families that are coming together, and most of all, bless Jake and Katrina, as they make their lives together. 

If either of you is reading this (if either of you actually reads my blog, lol), I love you both so, so much. May you both live Happily Ever After. 

Mr. and Mrs.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Kansas City Renaissance Faire Opening Day 2014

This weekend was the first day of the Kansas City Renaissance Faire. Usually, I'd have stayed home, since I live nowhere near KC, but this weekend is a big weekend for a special member of my family.

My little cousin, Jake, now an Airman in the United States Air Force, is getting married!

May 2010
Seems like just yesterday that I was teaching him the different catch phrases of different Looney Toons characters. *sigh* Love him so much.

But more on that later. Today, there was a TON of Ren Faire shenanigans going on, including a video of the parade, so let's get cracking.

Friends of ours were performing several shows throughout the day, so we got to see them, which was awesome. They're a married couple, who perform silly improvisations in the group Evengard.

Story the Fairy and Matthew the Northern Poet
 In real life, they're Matt and Lisa, and they're some of the kindest people in the entire world. Kiri and I didn't have much water (just the small Aquafina bottles that we bought with lunch), but it was really hot, so the water didn't go far. Matt and Lisa offered to share their water with us, and it was lifesaving.  Thanks again, guys!

Their shows are adorable, so please check them out on Facebook and YouTube.


Matt and Kiri have a funny story about how they met, involving Ren Faires and a Coconut Bra. They met up again later, at a singles Bible study in Omaha, and massive blushing ensued once they realized how they knew each other.

Longtime Best Friends
Matthew and Kiri
 

The nice thing about this faire is how shady it is. There are a lot of trees, as well as a lot of hills and valleys, which makes it a bit cooler than just a straight up field (I've been in some with NO shade, and it wasn't as fun.

Up in the back hills, there were some mermaids. They were lovely.


There were also murals everywhere in the mermaid area, and a contest to pick the best one.



I voted for this one.
I got two viewings of the parade. The second one was better, because no one stopped to stand in front of me, so I got to see more.



If you're in the area and interested in checking out the Faire, it runs every weekend between now and the end of October.

http://www.kcrenfest.com/

It was really hot, and by the time we were ready to call it a day, we got picked up and made it to our hotel, the Holiday Inn Express, took naps, went to On the Border for dinner. I got the fish tacos, and they were lovely and fresh and really filling.

Dos XX Fish Tacos with Black Beans
After dinner, there was swimming, and sleeping. Thank God. Today is Jake's wedding, so we've mostly been relaxing. I really hope I can get a picture with Jake, but if not, oh well. There's always my other lovely, Laura, who is a bridesmaid.

Me, Jake, Remy, Laura
Disney Dream 2011
How's your weekend?