Monthly Archives: July 2015

Microwave Hunting: The Many Misadventures

Microwave Hunting: The Many Misadventures

Let me start out by saying Sears and Walmart suck.

 
My day started out like any other, and yet somehow this object, that most take for granted, almost beat me.

 
A few weeks prior my mom’s microwave basically exploded – that was a god awful smell. My mom, being a certain type of person, decided she did not need a new microwave. Her reasons were “it was too big”, “I hate using it”, “we don’t need one “….

 
For the first few days it was fine then it started getting harder and harder to keep meals hot until dad came home, and finally my mom caved and said she needed a microwave. I went online and purchased her one from Walmart.

 
Big mistake.

 
The minute it arrived at the door the boxed looked beat up, and then when I opened it, the top of the microwave was bashed in. Looking back, I guess the UPS guy ringing the door bell and basically running back to his truck should have been a dead giveaway.

 
So, I returned it to my closest Walmart. That was fun. First I was in the “wrong” line ( totally was not marked right). Then the lady tells me it will take 7 business day for the money to return to my card, but I could get a gift card so I can purchase another microwave at Walmart. Ugh, no. I want my money back on my card – thank you. But, I guess she is required to ask me a couple dozen times before she believes me.

 
Once I wrangled my own money back from the determined sales person, I went in search of another microwave. Finding the right aisle was hard enough ( there is no rhyme or reason to how our Walmart is set up), then I reach the right location and what do I find? About 25 boxed microwaves that look like they have been dropped kicked by a giant, but don’t worry the boxes were taped back together – no one will notice.

 
Major bust at Walmart.

 
On to Target.

 
Nope, not happening there either.

 
Then I look at Sears online, and find the perfect one within my budget. We call the local Sears, and the nice lady on the phone said they have many of those in the store, and plenty in the color we want. Nothing could go wrong.

 
Great! So my dad and I head down to Sears.

 
The second we walk into the building no less than 5 sales associates are playing on their phones ignoring us. They ended up having microwaves in many places around the store, one looked like the microwave we were looking for, but the price tag said $15 more than the one online. Finally we convince a sales person to help us, and he says they have NO microwaves like that in the building. I argued with him saying we called first, but he adamantly said they have do not have this microwave in the building.

 
Ok, well then I take him over to some other corner with microwaves, and ask him to tell me the difference between the one that looks like the microwave I want, but is more expensive (because the numbers match). He said it was not the cheaper microwave. I asked why. He then goes” well, ok, let me check”. Low and behold that was the cheaper one ( but they have NOOOOO microwaves like that in the building).

 
I am an expert microwave hunter.

 
Then the guy tries to convince me to leave the microwave, that I had been looking for all day, on the self, and let the loading guys put in my car ( which I would have to drive around the building and find a parking space in back to receive).

 
NO NO NO NO NOOOOOOOOOO!

 
Well, I said no thank you ( which I had to repeat 6 times because he kept asking me if I was sure), and pick up the box and started walking towards the register.

 
The new microwave is now safely home, and so far has not exploded.

 
This is one of the many reasons I hate Walmart and Sears, and yet there are just some things I can’t get at Target.

 
What are the places you dread shopping at? Any urban hunting stories of your own?

 
Or, better yet – Why do people eat chicken wings ( at $2.99 a lb at that) when they could have a drum stick with more meat on it ( I get then for 49 ¢ a lb. California raised to boot)?

 
I was just wondering.

Frozen Blueberry Lemon Dessert

It is freaking HOT where I live right now, and thunder and lightning have been a regular thing. So, because of the heat I have been experimenting with cool refreshing desserts, and this little beauty came from that experimenting. It’s a mix of about 4 recipes, and boy the possibilities are limitless with the basics of this dessert.

There are a lot of little steps for this dessert, but truthfully most of them are very quick.

Don’t be intimidated, give this a try.

Frozen Blueberry Lemon Dessert

Filling Ingredients
• 2 large lemons juiced
• 1 lemon zest ( for decorating the top of the dessert)
• 1/3 cup puréed blueberries
• 1 can sweetened condensed milk
• 8 oz Cool Whip whipped topping
• 8 oz cream cheese, softened
Crust Ingredients
• 12 full-size graham crackers (about 6 1/2 ounces)
• 1/4 cup sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
• 6 Tablespoons butter
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• About 1/4 cup water or less – add slowly. The less water you have the crispier the crust, but add enough that it sticks together.
Grab your 9×9 Pyrex or glass pie dish, and let’s do this!

Frozen Desssert How to pictures
Instructions
Make Crust First
( Mini Step: take out the cream cheese and Cool Whip to soften, and zest your lemon and set aside)

 
1. Turn the Graham Crackers to Dust: Using a rolling pin and zip lock or a food processor, smash them continuously until the crackers are crushed into fine crumbs.
You should end up with about 2 cups of graham cracker crumbs, but I’ve never measured so I have no idea if this is true or not it’s just the rumor going around town.
2. Bring on the Butter: Transfer the graham crackers to a bowl. Add sugar, cinnamon, and salt. mix together. Then melt the butter and pour over the graham crackers, and add vanilla. Stir until the crumbs are evenly coated and look wet. If you press them, the crumbs should hold together; if not, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time till it comes together.
3. Press it, Press it Good: Heat the oven to 375° F. Pour the crumbs into a 9-inch pie pan or square Pyrex dish, and press them evenly along the bottoms and sides. (Note: only press the graham into the bottom if using square dish)
4. Bake the Crust: Bake the crust for 8 to 10 minutes until dry and fragrant. Cool completely in refrigerator before adding the filling.

 
On To The Filling….
1. Whip the cream cheese until smooth using a hand mixer or Kitchen Aid.
2. Add in the sweetened condensed milk and mix until smooth.
3. Then whip in blueberry puree and lemon juice.
4. Let the whipped topping defrost now if you haven’t already done it. Then add it to the cream cheese mixture, folding it in until combined.
5. Take out your completely cooled crust, and fill it with the mixture.
6. Sprinkle the lemon zest on top.
7. Lightly cover with foil while it sets. Leave in freezer for at least 4 hours to set.
8. Once set, give it a water bath. The best way to do this is to submerge the bottom half of dessert into warm water for a few seconds.
9. Stab it with a knife and it should pop right out of the Pyrex.
10. Slice it into desired size pieces, and place them in a zip lock bag and return it to the freezer till you want to serve it.

 
Note: You don’t want your Pyrex dish to be in the freezer to long it is bad for them, and creates a hazard for you. Like when you try to use them in the oven after leaving the dish in the freezer two weeks; trust me, not fun.

 
Also, some people like to leave the dessert out for ten minutes before serving. It softens the dessert, but I like it right out of the freezer like a Popsicle.

 

 

Good Luck and have fun! If you have any questions let me know.

Happy Birthday Disneyland

Gosh it’s already the 60th Anniversary of Disneyland. This day brings to mind Disneyland’s 50th anniversary which I was privileged to be able to attend.

 
My parents and I were in line bright and early that day ( 3am to be precise), not something they really wanted to do, but let’s just say I am very convincing. We stood there for hours while they shuffled us from one part of the quad to the next then on to DCA. While we were in line, we met a man that spent at least an hour trying to convince us he was there “just for the kids”, but frankly they looked sleepy, and he looked like a giddy 5 year old.

 
One of the things that made this trip special was it was a surprise for my dad. He turned 50 a month before, and he had no idea we were going to be at Disneyland to celebrate the day it opened 50 years ago.

 
But the best part of the trip was when they finally let us in the park. Cast members handed out Mickey ears, and classic Disney music was playing on the air. As we rounded the corner under the train, all of the sudden we noticed Main Street USA was lined with Cast members shaking our hand and welcoming us home.

 
I will never forget that day, and I wish we could have been there today to join in the celebration.

 
Alas, it was not to be.

 
Happy Birthday Disneyland. You look good for sixty.

 
Most of my favorite childhood memories involve you in some capacity or another.

 
I hope to see you soon old friend, I hope to see you soon.

 
But until then I’ll ” keep moving forward” and leave you with these words.

 
“To all who come to this happy place: Welcome. Disneyland is your land. Here age relives fond memories of the past, and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams, and the hard facts that have created America; with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.”

 
– Walt Disney, July 17 1955

The One: Fact, Fiction, or Faith

Since it’s wedding season, I thought I would weigh in on a very controversial topic within the Christian community ( ok, I’m kidding- but only a little).

 
I believe in “the one”. Go ahead call me crazy, say there is no such thing as “the one”. It’s not a mature concept. Who the heck raised you? Don’t you know believing this is detrimental to your future… Yada yada yada. Heck, I was raised in a church that believed it was a myth, and yet I believe that God creates people who complement us. If we are all unique, and He knows our names before we are even growing in the womb ( Jeremiah 1:5) then could He not create someone who is meant to be our partner in this world?

 
” For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” ( Jeremiah 29:11 ESV).

 
The arguments AGAINST “the one” are as followed:

 
– He only becomes “the one” when you marry him.
– The myth leads to unrealistically high expectations, and we overlook the great guys who are standing right in front of us ( side note: Here is a great article about ideals and expectations. Surprisingly enough, the only physical attribute that was ever on my list was I wanted a guy that was taller than me – still do in fact ).
– It allows us to assume we have no responsibility in finding and choosing our future spouse which enables us to be an inactive participant in this journey.
– The real search is not romantic enough for our Disney loving hearts, so we latched on to the fantasy because it feeds our little girl ideal of Prince Charming ( but I wrote about my opinion on that Here ).
– And lastly, by assuming there is “the one” (which is not a biblical concept BTW), we will be disappointed when we think we find them and he or she is not perfect. Allowing us to feel ok about the fact our marriage fell apart because OBVIOUSLY that was not “the one” ( sarcasm intended).

 
( For an article about why I’m crazy, check out Boundless.com. Hay, I’m all about freedom of speech, so I have to present the other side right?).

 
Did I cover all the reasons people will call me crazy? Probably not, but I got most of them – I think.

 
Here’s what I believe:

 
We limit God’s greatness by denying His sovereignty over our love life. I don’t believe in “the one” per say, I believe in ” the right one”. If God has a plan for my life, then It seems likely He has ideal match in mind for my future spouse. If this is the case, is that not the proverbial “one”?

 
I believe this anti soul mate mentality has sprung from fear. We are all free to choose, and considering the shacking up and divorce rates among Christians, we have chosen badly. Because of this fear, they say there is no such thing as “the one”. This opinion gives the green light to settle instead of waiting on God’s timing, and diminishes Gods guidance in our decisions. I do not mean you should be an inactive participant in the search. Just not desperate. Desperation leads to all sorts of trouble.

 
We all make choices, and sometimes choose poorly, but don’t blame God for that. He can bring beauty from the ashes. Just don’t limit Gods power and grace simply because you’re afraid that you made ( or will make ) a bad choice. In church we ask teenagers to pray for their future spouse, yet then we tell them there is no one person “meant” for them. I was told there could be tons of men that would work for me (Waite, you mean I’m praying for like ten thousand dudes? That just seems strange to me).

 
I will never convince the theologians, Focus on the Family, or Boundless to believe in “the one”, but let me ask them this; why is it so detrimental to my life to believe that God controls my path and will guide me to the man he wants me to marry? They preach this about every other aspect of my life, so why exclude my future spouse in God’s plan and timing?

 
“If you believe in a God who controls the big things, you have to believe in a God who controls the little things” – Elisabeth Elliot, Missionary Pioneer. I don’t think entering into marriage is a little thing, so I trust God in all things – even my desire for marriage.

 
“It is not every man’s fate to marry the woman who loves him best” Jane Austen’s Emma. However, should that not be our desire? To marry those who would love us best, and who we would love best in return?

 
Maybe I am in the minority of those who believe in “the one”, but I don’t expect the man I am meant to be with to be perfect. It seems to me I have yet to meet a perfect person on this planet, so why would I be waiting for this perfect specimen of male godliness. Also, I don’t expect him to magically appear, or worship the very ground I walk on ( that would be creepy).
Basically my ideal guy is a not-so-perfect Christian guy walking in faith, who at the very least tolerates my love of Disneyland, is ok with my artsy tendencies ( poor man that is a lot to put up with), wants a family (and all the messy craziness that comes with it), is loyal, respectful, honest, taller than me, good hygiene, expert spider killer ( somewhat negotiable), and likes dogs (non negotiable).

 
I don’t believe I have unrealistic expectations, or a Disney princess view on love ( though I do love me some Disney movies as you can see). I believe I was meant for someone. You could call him the one, my soul mate, the right one, or whatever you want. I have the freedom to choose him when he crosses my path, and I have the freedom to walk away ( which is a little scary). The point is, God will present the best option to me. I just have to choose it. “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps” Proverbs 16:9 ESV.
If nothing else my Dad said Billy Graham believes in “The One”. So, there you go – Billy Graham said so ( Side Note: This is not a researched fact, but my Dad’s never wrong, sooo… no reason to question – right? )

 
What do you believe? Am I completely crazy, or is everyone else?

 

Personally, the second option is my favorite.

My Hope is Built on Nothing Less

This is a very long post. You have been warned.

 
We live in a time without much hope or joy. All I see on the news is doom and gloom. As Independence Day has come and gone, some are questioning America’s future. “Are we a great nation still?” “Can we reconcile the things that divide us?” “With the government run amuck, can we actually return to the democratic republic we once were?” – Truthfully, I don’t know the answer to the questions. But what I do know is this, I can’t persevere in an environment that constantly tells me there is no hope. That head space for someone like me is a deep pit of despair, and climbing out of it is extremely painful. I have a hard enough time dealing with an uncertain future, but to have this joyless dejection shoved in my face 24/7 doesn’t help.

 
I am proud to be an American. Not because I idolize my country like some false God, but, even with all her troubles, this is still the ” last and greatest bastion of freedom” ( first inaugural address of President Ronald Reagan) on the planet. We have gone through trials before, and come through in the end. There is nothing new under the sun. The politics of the past are just as hate filled and brutal as they ever were ( and from what I read of past politics, they were worse). History shows us the trials we go through now are not new. Can you imagine being at the foot of the cross watching Jesus get crucified? I’m sorry, but I think it would seem like end of days right there – yet it wasn’t. Or when our country erupted in Civil War. You can’t tell me people didn’t start questioning whether this was the end of our nation. How about the Jewish people sitting in internment camps under Nazi rule watching friends and family slaughtered by an evil dictator who some were calling “not that bad”.

 
It seems to be human nature not see evil for what it is (even when it’s standing right in front of us with a sign around its neck saying “Hi my name is evil – what’s yours?”). We play with it like children intrigued by fire. Getting just close enough to feel the heat, but not close enough to do too much damage. What we fail realize is fire is unpredictable. At any moment that tiny flame, we thought we had control of, can spark and start a fire that destroys all we have built.

 
However, if God can turn beauty from ashes then he can turn that blaze into a refining fire. That is my hope for my country. That this fire some intentionally and some unintentionally started can be turned around and refine our nation.

 
For all the people out there preaching this is the “end of days” or “there is no hope for America” do you honestly think you are the first to believe this, or heck that you will be the last? Because history tell us otherwise. Instead of planning for the end, I challenge you to plan for a beginning. I don’t assume this will be easy, or that times of sadness will not overcome you. But I truly believe that America can be great again. As a young nation, our country is experiencing the issues other nations have, just in a shorter amount of time which means she could come out of it far more quickly ( because let’s face it Europe is still having issues – Greece anyone? ).

 
I don’t assume to know the heart of God, and I know The United States of America is not guaranteed to succeed. But “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness” (Edward Mote, 1834). God has known this was coming, and knows how it will end ” For I know the plans I have for you , “declares the LORD, ” Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV). I plan to seek my God for hope in our future. For I see a potential for greatness again, and a way to a prosperous future. I am not ignoring the bad things that are happening, not only in the US, but in the world around us. Ultimately though, My freedom is God given so “I walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments” (Psalms 119:45 NLT).

 
If you still doubt that we have seen days such as theses before, I direct you to excepts from Thomas Paine’s essay The American Crisis which was a call to arms. We have see before “times that try men’s souls” and ” a ravaged country — a depopulated city — habitations without safety, and slavery without hope”. If you cannot see the parallels to our current troubles then I cannot help you. However, as for me and my house, we are trying to choose joy and a hopeful future.

 

Without further ado, the words of Thomas Paine:

 

“THESE are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated. Britain, with an army to enforce her tyranny, has declared that she has a right (not only to TAX) but “to BIND us in ALL CASES WHATSOEVER” and if being bound in that manner, is not slavery, then is there not such a thing as slavery upon earth. Even the expression is impious; for so unlimited a power can belong only to God.

 
Whether the independence of the continent was declared too soon, or delayed too long, I will not now enter into as an argument; my own simple opinion is, that had it been eight months earlier, it would have been much better. We did not make a proper use of last winter, neither could we, while we were in a dependent state. However, the fault, if it were one, was all our own; we have none to blame but ourselves. But no great deal is lost yet. All that Howe has been doing for this month past, is rather a ravage than a conquest, which the spirit of the Jerseys, a year ago, would have quickly repulsed, and which time and a little resolution will soon recover.

 
I have as little superstition in me as any man living, but my secret opinion has ever been, and still is, that God Almighty will not give up a people to military destruction, or leave them unsupportedly to perish, who have so earnestly and so repeatedly sought to avoid the calamities of war, by every decent method which wisdom could invent. Neither have I so much of the infidel in me, as to suppose that He has relinquished the government of the world, and given us up to the care of devils; and as I do not, I cannot see on what grounds the king of Britain can look up to heaven for help against us: a common murderer, a highwayman, or a house-breaker, has as good a pretence as he.

 
‘Tis surprising to see how rapidly a panic will sometimes run through a country. All nations and ages have been subject to them.”

 
“But, before the line of irrecoverable separation be drawn between us, let us reason the matter together: Your conduct is an invitation to the enemy, yet not one in a thousand of you has heart enough to join him. Howe is as much deceived by you as the American cause is injured by you. He expects you will all take up arms, and flock to his standard, with muskets on your shoulders. Your opinions are of no use to him, unless you support him personally, for ’tis soldiers, and not Tories, that he wants.

 
I once felt all that kind of anger, which a man ought to feel, against the mean principles that are held by the Tories: a noted one, who kept a tavern at Amboy, was standing at his door, with as pretty a child in his hand, about eight or nine years old, as I ever saw, and after speaking his mind as freely as he thought was prudent, finished with this unfatherly expression, “Well! give me peace in my day.” Not a man lives on the continent but fully believes that a separation must some time or other finally take place, and a generous parent should have said, “If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace;” and this single reflection, well applied, is sufficient to awaken every man to duty. Not a place upon earth might be so happy as America. Her situation is remote from all the wrangling world, and she has nothing to do but to trade with them. A man can distinguish himself between temper and principle, and I am as confident, as I am that God governs the world, that America will never be happy till she gets clear of foreign dominion. Wars, without ceasing, will break out till that period arrives, and the continent must in the end be conqueror; for though the flame of liberty may sometimes cease to shine, the coal can never expire.”

 
“I thank God, that I fear not. I see no real cause for fear. I know our situation well, and can see the way out of it. While our army was collected, Howe dared not risk a battle; and it is no credit to him that he decamped from the White Plains, and waited a mean opportunity to ravage the defenseless Jerseys; but it is great credit to us, that, with a handful of men, we sustained an orderly retreat for near an hundred miles, brought off our ammunition, all our field pieces, the greatest part of our stores, and had four rivers to pass. None can say that our retreat was precipitate, for we were near three weeks in performing it, that the country might have time to come in. Twice we marched back to meet the enemy, and remained out till dark. The sign of fear was not seen in our camp, and had not some of the cowardly and disaffected inhabitants spread false alarms through the country, the Jerseys had never been ravaged. Once more we are again collected and collecting; our new army at both ends of the continent is recruiting fast, and we shall be able to open the next campaign with sixty thousand men, well armed and clothed. This is our situation, and who will may know it. By perseverance and fortitude we have the prospect of a glorious issue; by cowardice and submission, the sad choice of a variety of evils — a ravaged country — a depopulated city — habitations without safety, and slavery without hope — our homes turned into barracks and bawdy-houses for Hessians, and a future race to provide for, whose fathers we shall doubt of. Look on this picture and weep over it! and if there yet remains one thoughtless wretch who believes it not, let him suffer it unlamented.

 
December 23, 1776”

 
And like any good American I leave you with three final thing:
1. A funny puppy commercial
2. How to cook the perfect steak
3. Ron Swanson

Ron Swanson

Ron Swanson Picture found on Online