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Life is Grand. Life is Random. Life Hurts. Life Comforts. Life Gives. Life Takes. Life Loves and You're Not Alone nor Lost

Love The Rambler


We Remember Aurora ~Three Years & 165 Counts of Guilty Later

As we waited for the vigil to get underway I stood behind the young lady and young man confined to their wheel chairs- dressed to perfection but dressed by someone else. My imagination could only construct some comic book scene of how it went down in that dark theater three years ago. Like BOOM. Maybe POW.  My mind couldn't do its horror justice. As the straps held him in from the chest, a straw at his mouth and his catheter bag to his right- my heart broke. As she spoke to those around her, bound on top of that thrown of heavy double wheeled reminder of her night at the movies. That could be me my son. That could be my daughter. That could be me.   How could this one person have caused SO much pain? Loss? Devastation?  My mind went to the depths of humanity and sadly to the power of evil and its incomprehensible grip when its wrath is unleashed with a fury. I wept, I ached, I asked 'why?'

The framed illuminated faces of the twelve lost,  the image of a baby stroller for the unfaced unborn child who was also taken,  made for thirteen and stood before each lively tree planted in their honor last year. Thirteen lives. Thirteen beginnings with thirteen endings. This evil took their heart beats pulse. This evil halted their blood flow vein by vein. This evil took their breath in but ultimately out. This evil took their future,  at least here on earth. No more new memories to be made. But OH how this evil couldn't take their life's memory. OH how this evil couldn't take their soul. OH how this evil couldn't take the impact on eternity in our world and hearts.

As I wallowed in the heated pain of this despair, all of the sudden-a light.  No it wasn't the lighting of the small white candles around me, but it was a light opening like a little window of God answering my question. Illuminated was both their faces as they chatted and talked and began to laugh and carry on as they waited too. Normal. Everyday. As any two friends would carry on. Her smiles to her family as they spoke and giggled- they weren't canned or staged, as they hadn't been focused on yet or put on a stage at all. Just waiting, passing time-like me.  The noise around me froze and all that was being shown to me was this whisper stating "this evil couldn't take their joy. Look! they smile and laugh and carry on too- there are moments of normal. Moments of happy. This evil has not won, however it may appear'  Their lives are unbelievably hard. The hours a day of pain and torment. Where the mind can see, the body won't deliver. Where the world must serve them when all they want to do is serve themselves. Basic daily functions become battles in and of themselves. YET GOD SPOKE: "DEVIL! You CANT take their JOY...you JUST CANT"....the verse 'touch not my anointed' came to mind.

Our church community planted living growing moving trees in Hope Park last year.  Just as their lives were living growing imprints on history. No marble statues- cold hard and immovable. These limbs reach out to the heavens and proclaim God's glory. These roots bury themselves deeper and deeper taking a stronghold under the earth for strength and growth. Their trunks stand firm and strong, no matter how forceful the winds may blow. They will weather the spring storms of Colorado, the brutal freezes of winter, the blazing sun of summer and the loss of needles in fall. But so will they bask in the warm sunsets, the cool breezes, the quiet chill and the new growth cones from rain may lead to a new generation. These trees will stand as the perfect representation of the memory and struggle these thirteen faced.

We remember three years later and were given a verdict of GUILTY on all 165 counts. As 165 counts was enough. There are 165 counts of pain every hour, every day for those that lived through that horror after the loss.  He wasn't considered insane. He knew what he was doing. He failed crazy tests. He gave no emotion. Maybe he was a lovely child or had a spark of love somewhere in his life. But somewhere somehow he ignored the 'energy' felt at the vigil. He denied the presence of God and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. He acted on his own, with attention to his own selfish desires of hate, death and destruction. We can only hope that sometime in the depths of his soul,  in his lonely cell or before his immanent death- HOPEFULLY. HE. WILL. REPENT....but even if he doesn't life and joy and love and memories will outlive his hate. Evil Loses. Gavel Slam.


The Mac and Cheese Comprimise

Image result for bacon macaroni and cheese
So most mac and cheese' follows a path. You're either in the baked camp or the sauce pan camp.  I prefer a great compromise.  I do consider myself a connoisseur to the great twisted noodle dish absorbed in ooze.  From the deep south accompanied with cornbread and greens to varietal gourmet types garnished with tempura lobster or truffle mushroom and chicken Florentine. They all boast a unique difference and flare of their own. I believe truly the great compromise is what I've come to.
 I found that the saucy pan types were lacking that southern comfort charm of granny pulling a casserole dish out of the oven piping hot to be cooled before burning the mouth.  But then the baked path can easily, ever so easily get over dried and lack that smooth squish you get when you bite down on the tender noodles.  So I, not being good at accepting dichotomies- found a way to have my cake and eat it too.  This recipe-ish is a saucy protocol, that's followed up by a granny style finishing touch.  While there are infinite garnishing ideas to compliment this timeless classic, I prefer bacon. Yup smoky, crispy home cooked thick cut goodness...and that's it. I want only a minor compliment not an overpowering selfish snob upstaging the main star....

This recipe makes enough for one 9x13 casserole dish

1 Lb Pasta (I'm a purest and use only elbow pasta-but if you must use what you like)
2-4 T. Better Than Bullion Chicken Flavor (or similar chicken base/cubes)
1/2c each shredded cheese of SIX to SEVEN of your favorite cheeses (with at least one being american or Velveeta type processed cheese for a shiny touch) I like Munster, Sharp Cheddar, Jack, and either a Fontina or gouda. Go with your normal preferences on this. If you love a stinky sharp cheese you can even go with blue cheese or Parmesan type power as one. Swiss and brie are even options.  If you like more mild cheeses go with mild cheddar, cream cheese or calmer types. {Save a bit extra to the side for the topping}
4-7 Cups of milk 
 8 T. White Flour
6 T. Butter
1 lb Bacon diced/fried crispy
Optional: French Bread Crumbs with garlic powder parsley and a little melted butter tossed through.

Directions:  pre heat oven to 350
Boil large pot of water adding 2-3 T of chicken base
Add pasta and boil for 8-9 minutes (should be aldente and still have texture it will soften a bit) then drain and set aside covered with a bit of stirred in butter or oil in pan to keep from sticking.

-In sauce pan start by making a roux which is bringing the flour and butter to a toasty brown on med heat stirring every 30 seconds.
-Add milk to pot and whisk immediately to avoid clumps.  Add most of the milk and 2-3 T of chicken base, garlic powder and black pepper.  Bring to a quick boil and remove from heat ( you DO NOT want to boil milk longer than 30 seconds)
- Gently start folding in the cheeses until melted. You may have to put back over heat for a few minutes to keep the melting going.
-You also need to assess your thickness levels. Either add more milk or more cheese to get a sort of nacho cheese consistency.  You don't want milky watery texture but you don't want super thick fondue caramel texture either.
-Taste this stuff BEFORE you put it on your pasta. It should be yummy on all account.  So add more chicken base for salt or seasonings at this stage.
-add pasta into cheese sauce- you want the pasta swimming in the sauce not an over abundance of noodles or it will absorb the sauce and make your dish dryer in texture. Remember pasta is thirsty for moisture so er on the side of more goey than dry.  Save any unused pasta to the side.
-Pour into casserole dish, cover with shredded cheese, bread crumbs and parsley and bake for about 15 minutes. Any more and it may get a bit greasy. You can then broil the top with the bacon on for about 3 minutes until toasty brown and delicious!

This recipe is BEST when fresh! Since the noodles realllly absorb the sauce-  if you think you will be serving in stages or saving some for 'tomorrow' I highly recommend keeping the buttered pasta and sauce separately until right before use. Just a particular observation I've come too:)


The Vicious Cycle of History's Repetition

We fill ourselves with books and blogs and articles galore.  We can write, teach, preach, speak and regurgitate the 'meat' like Sunday's dinner.  We think we get it. We think we know it. We think we can teach it but worst of all we think we live it.  We are flawed. We let history repeat itself. We forget what is so close to our distant past. We judge so barbarically those of old as if their ignorance is so archaic compared to our present properness.  We learn from our mistakes, we get better, we know better, we are immune. We are civilized.

Yet when the walls fall down and the pieces come crumbling down we cower. Do we stand up? Do we fight? Do we voice our loss? Our pain? Do we defend the weak? Dare we risk our skin...
We hide under the trees great shade and bask in the cool. What is the point? It won't change anything anyway. They won't listen. They won't learn. We justify our inadequacy and our fear under logic. Under the petty shade of an umbrella of wimp. Justified Coward so nothing changes and oh how sweet history repeats its debauchery.


Alfredo & Country Gravy - MINUS THE CREAM! Cauliflower Sauce !

Photo: Chx Alfredo w garden Tom and CAULIFLOWER sauce NOT cream!! Sooo goodThere are a few of these recipes going around Pinterest and when I saw them I thought "God is a God who answers prayers!"  I mean COME ON!!!?? Supposedly this packs on 50 total calories and under 3 g fat, over the cream sauce of 500 with 30+ g of fat!  
There are just some things in the world you know you will never really get to have too often if you want to be in any decent shape.  I get a little sad around ice-cream, milkshakes, cake, fried chicken, biscuits n gravy, and Alfredo sauce.  I just know its something I can only allow myself to have once in a great while.  This recipe can be made purely vegan or fully dairy free- and is naturally gluten free (cream gravy GF?!?!) . I do however in an attempt to replace Alfredo or an Italian type dish, think the use of a bit of Parmesan tricks the tongue into thinking its a full blown cream sauce, calories and all. Without the sprinkle of Parmesan and the addition of a bit more bullion it then tastes like an amazing cream country gravy.  


I used to live on such tempting things when I was under 23 and thin.  But now I know my metabolism can't keep up.  I can't make a habit of such debauchery. But I try my best to find WORTHY substitutions for the palate.  My other issue centers around dairy. I'm not intolerant, but its not good for my skin allergies. So I have to pass on it more than I can enjoy it.  The lactose is nearly gone in cheeses aged over 2 years so from time to time I will allow a nice aged cheddar or Parmesan.

Play around with these and see what suits your fancy! This made enough sauce for me and my kids- you could double for a bigger crowd.  Give it a try all the way to the table because at first I wasn't sold when I just tasted it by itself, but then after the serving of with pasta and biscuits!?  whoo hoo! Happy Girl!

1 lg Head of Cauliflower- steamed until fork tender, not too thick and not too soft

1-2 c. Broth (I love and can't live without 'Better than Bouillon' chicken base- use the veggie if   veganizing- if country gravy I'd make it a bit saltier than the Alfredo version)
1/2 cup Coconut Creamer or Soy Creamer substitute (NOT canned coco milk but unsweetened type for your coffee found in the dairy isles- see below)
5-8 Garlic Cloves (I actually roasted my garlic first and the country gravy option would use 3-5   cloves- I personally like the smokey smooth flavor of roasted garlic but you can raw it if ya like mega garlic or just saute it in a pan before blending)

1T Olive oil 

Salt & Pepper to taste

Chopped fresh parsley

FINELY PUREE ALL OF THESE IN A BLENDER OR FOOD PROCESSOR STARTING WITH HALF THE LIQUIDS, UNTIL SMOOTH CREAMY CONSISTENCY (Remember its easier to thin out this sauce than steam more cauliflower to thicken it- you can add a bit of tofu to this if you want added protein but go easy as tofu can have a sort of interesting after taste with this recipe).

Finish cooked pasta in this sauce in a pan on med low heat- don't over boil this sauce.  Serve and sprinkle each dish with a few spoon fulls of shredded Parmesan. Delicious with grilled chicken, shrimp, garden tomatoes and basil! If you aren't shy of cheese you could add about a 1/2 cup of shredded cheese directly to the sauce versus controlling the cheese portion per plate like I have to.

Cream Gravy:
Serve over biscuit with breakfast sausage crumbles or meat substitutes. Delicious on mashed potatoes, chicken and anything cream gravy goes with!

 Chicken, Vegetarian, Beef, Shrimp, Mushroom MM!                    Unsweetened Coco Creamer

Church Can Hurt

I wish I could say that church is only all the great things it is. I wish it was only friendships, community, the place I found my husband, missions and all the great things it really is.  But sadly it is more. It is just like real life. Not all its cracked up to be sometimes. Sometimes it hurts. Sometimes it aches. Sometimes, like in life, it ends.  While it won't wave my belief in Jesus it surely supports my belief we humans are flawed, deeply flawed and in need of great salvation.  I am flawed but sometimes I have hope that others will help me get out of that place.  Others wiser and more mature than I. They do.  And sometimes they don't.

As I read the below blog called "I AM NOT ANONYMOUS" all too many wounds came to the surface.  I have had this (below) happen to me in ministry twice already and I'm only 34.  Its the reason I am not pursuing a career in clergy.  Not to say someday God won't lead me back to church leadership, but for now I just need a break. After all I'm ok wrestling with the fact that many people out in the world are narcissistic, misogynistic, racist, power hungry, self centered, greedy, talk behind your back and are generally super messy people. I love those people thus I love ministry and missions.  But what I'm not in the mood for these days are that Church Leaders are also all these things. And I don't mean as in they have temptations like the rest of us,  but surely not that they condone or model this as legit and moral precedent.   I guess I do hold them to a higher standard. To whom much is given, much is required.  I don't believe they need be perfect, but surely those attributes can't be their main operating system.  Surely it can't be and shouldn't be. And when will they learn they can't hide these? They ooze from their being like stale liquor leaks from the pores of the alcoholic in the morning. Everyone knows, who is close enough to their stench. We are to be the light in the world, at least most of the time.

With time I am sure I will get my hunger back but for now I will teach young children and start my own business. Church on wed and sun will suffice for me. I'll drop my work in the offering bucket and volunteer where I see I'm needed. Bake some cookies maybe, and sing a song.
Take the time to read this below blog, it is very worth the time!




Easy Ice 'Cream' Tart- Dietary Needs friendly!

I will do the following example for the Chocolate Pretzel Almond Ice 'Cream' Tart

Have you ever been asked to bring something or make something dairy free, gluten free, vegan or all of the above?!?!  Well I have...often...so off I went into challenge mode! Kickin wheat & dairy and taking numbers lol!   Here is a very satisfying EASY recipe (because good God have you looked up Gluten and Vegan baking-yikes! Looks like it takes awhile to master!)   This can be whipped up quickly- but take note you need lots of time for chilling so THINK ahead!  This can also easily be modified to a non chocolate flavor profile too if need be- the possibilities are endless!


1 Pint Coconut Ice 'cream' (Chocolate)
1 c gluten free Graham cracker or cookies ( I love the snickerdoodle bunnie grahams)
1 c gluten free pretzels
1/2 cup butter (or for vegan canola butter substitute)

about 1/4 cup melted Nutella (I prefer the Justins all natural Hazelnut choc spread)
1/4 c Dark Chocolate Chips (My new fav is the Lily's sweetened w/ stevia!)
1/4 c Sliced or slivered almonds and a few pretzels

This can be made in a pie pan or similar size tart pan- based on it cutting kind of messy I actually think it could be done better in individual tart pans or even muffin tins!

-Allow Icecream to sit on the counter until melted - about an hour and a half, if you're pressed for time you can microwave it in 1 minute increments being careful not to heat it too hot- stir inbetween so some doesn't boil while the center is still hard

-Microwave butter in med bowl 30-45 seconds until fully melted into liquid

-Pulse in a blender or food processor the grahams and pretzels until a grainy corn meal type consistency. I notice GF pretzels are a very hard texture to blend so start with those then add the softer grahams halfway through

-Stir in meal to the melted butter and fully stir around until all the crumbs are coated with butter. If it looks too dry add more melted butter if it looks too wet add more pulsed meal.  The texture it should look like is if you were working with wet sand. You need it wet enough to bind when it chills but not sooo wet it comes out more like chilled butter with crumbs, clear as mud?

-Press wet meal into the bottom of your desired tin/pie pan. You want to use a fist or a rounded small bowl to help push it up the sides of the pan like a pie crust would be. It doesn't have to reach the top top but at least about an inch up the sides. Try to avoid holes or your icecream will melt through the holes.  It should be all even and uniform.

-Put crust in freezer for 5 min- then drizzle the melted Nutella or nut butter on the bottom of the crust so that each piece gets a nice chilled choc layer inbetween the crust!

- Pour melted icecream in the pie crust and smooth out with a serving spoon or spatula so it looks even....Add your garnish on top if it is not damaged by being frozen (for example fruit should wait)

- Put in freezer for an ideal 2-3+ hours until center of pie is firm.

To serve get out of freezer about 5 minutes before serving time. Garnish with additional toppings or fruit! 

Salted Caramel & Dark chocolate & Pretzel
Caramel icecream, caramel drizzle, and light salt sprinkle, dark chips
Peanut Butter Chocolate Banana
   Melted PB, choc icecream, sliced bananas & peanuts for garnish
Key Lime
   Lime or coconut icecream, lemon/lime extract, lime zest and limes for garnish
Pina Colada (add mango and call it tropical)
   Coconut icecream, w pineapple chunks, coconut shred/ sliced or grilled pineapple for garnish
Chocolate Covered Strawberries
    Strawberry icecream, choc chips, nutella & choc dipped strawberry slices for garnish
Almond Joy
Same as above but add coconut shreds into icecream and for garnish
Apple Cinnamon Carmel
Cinnamon icecream, melted almond or cashew butter, sauteed green apples in brown sugar and cinnamon in 'butter' and chilled - garnish with caramel & walnuts
Pistachio Peach & Dark Chocolate
Pistachio icecream, melted nutella, dark choc chips in icecream, garnish with fresh peach slices an chopped pistachio nuts
Almond Cherry
Fresh cherry chunks in cherry or vanilla icecream (and add almond extract to melted icecream) almonds and fresh cherries for garnish- maybe dark chips too!
Lemon Blueberry
Lemon Icecream and lemon extract garnish with lemon zest and fresh blueberries!



Finish What I Start---Returning to School After 13 Years

There is also a separate self satisfying piece that is just for you deep in your soul, even if you never get to apply it like you had once hoped. I have really grown into loving the craft of learning. From random philosophical principles to plate tectonics its all so fascinating!   Its funny since I used to hate school, but I guess we all grow out of certain things as we age.  For now I am getting a chance to do something for me. I've given to so many others along the way, sowed into my kids and my family and even my community- but this piece feels so good because its really for me!  I know I can use it for other benefits and service too, but this is sooooo for me baby!   

I accrued a stack of books, all of which were read. Well almost read. I read all but the last two chapters or so.  What's wrong with me?  Was I too board of them? no. Was I in disagreement with all of them? no.  Was I afraid to have them be over? maybe. Did I feel I already 'got the point'? ya.  So I took a few months and literally read a bunch of the ends of all the books I had never finished. I still have a few more to work on.  This is merely symbolic of many things in my life.  I love my excited ADD ambition as I always believe Ignorance on Fire is Better Than Knowledge on Ice.  I've seen so many examples of the latter and I loathe it.  

Working in the various jobs I've had, I've always been surrounded by people who make the money I make- only they carry student loans, and I don't.  That made no sense to me.  It took awhile for me to meet people who inspired me to finish my degree. I love all those around me with degrees but a lot of them weren't using them. So why be indebted to the man? Sometimes it wasn't their fault, but sometimes it was.  What if I made the same mistake? Why spend so much to work in some crappy job?  It never clicked. Until this year.

Last year I registered my tween for her LAST year of middle school! This year I register my teen (yes TEEN!) for high school.  It may sound competitive but OH CRAP! I gotta beat my kid to a degree!!!  It never occurred to me that time would fly soooo fast.  She was just in diapers the other day it seemed.  But I don't need to beat her to a degree just to say 'na na na boo boo!' but rather I need to be more educated than my kid or how else could I lead, help and guide her!??? I wasn't so mad I couldn't do algebra like her, but surely I want her to see me with a cap and gown on.

There have also been a few people in my life that hold their degrees as accomplishments and prized possessions no one can take away from them!  It was always warned to me: "Don't go to school to get a 'good job'" which I never really got. I mean isn't that the point?  Yes and no I suppose. Yes when you are really into a specialized field that absolutely requires it.  No when you are not sure how your future will end up or what you're really passionate for, in that case you are going to school to find yourself and what will eventually fit you best.