Sometimes we get stuck seeing things our way. Would you like to see some things through another set of eyes? Maybe it will make you think and stretch or maybe just chuckle or shed a tear. Here is my world through my eyes...

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Peanutbutter surprise cookies

Recently Hilary came up with another great cookie recipe.  She agreed to let me take some pictures and to share the recipe here on my blog.  She has made them a couple of times now and I've really enjoyed them.  Typically I am not a fan of chocolate cookies (everyone knows chocolate is for women) but apparently I've been around ladies enough now that I am enjoying some chocolate things.  These cookies get two thumbs up from me!  Hope you enjoy them too!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Surprise Cookies
(Hilary’s recipe)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar (plus more for rolling)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup creamy peanut butter, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
3/4 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 375ยบ F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together sugars, butter and 1/4 cup of peanut butter until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and egg, beating to combine. Stir in the flour mixture and stir to combine, blending well. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix together powdered sugar and remaining 3/4 cup of peanut butter until smooth.
Pull off a heaping tablespoon of cookie dough and flatten with your hands. Take about 1 teaspoon of peanut butter mixture and place it in the center of the chocolate dough. Wrap the chocolate dough around the peanut butter center, pressing to seal.
Roll the cookie into a ball and roll the cookie in the sugar.
Place cookies on the prepared baking sheet 2 inches apart. Using the bottom of a glass, flatten each cookie to about a 1/2 inch thickness.  Bake in preheated oven for 7 to 9 minutes. Let stand on the baking sheet for 2 minutes, then remove to a wire rack.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Spotlight on Women #3: Gospel--skimming the edge?

My father-in-law (when he was well) and I shared something in common.  And now I notice that my youngest daughter is picking it up as well.  We enjoy the edges and crispy parts of a nicely cooked pizza with lots of cheese.  My wife likes to make homemade pizza nearly every Friday.  In our home we are cheese lovers and needless to say plenty of cheese gets put on the pizza, not to mention plenty of other good things as well.  Sometimes when we are lucky a little of the cheese escapes over the edge of the pizza and gets cooked to a crunch on the edge of the pan.  That is good stuff.  Still though, we love the rest of the pizza.  I wouldn't give up the rest of the pizza just to get a couple bites of crispy cheese.  Not only is it our favorite but it is also the favorite of lots of other folks who have been invited or had one brought to their home when they needed it most. 
Sister Sheri Dew tells how in her visits to New York City that she heard many New Yorkians tell how they loved Central Park.  Well Sister Dew had been a number of times and didn't see what was so great about it.  It was big, but nothing spectacular about it.  Until one day she found herself going into the park farther than she had ever done.  She had been on the edges a number of times but not deep into the park, and when she went in farther then she understood why so many people praised and lauded Central Park.  She saw some of the treasures that make central park so great, memorable and lovable.  (No One Can Take Your Place, p7-8)
I have never been to Central Park but I can understand her story because I have seen many things in my life that don't seem all that great when viewed or only known on the outside.  Or even if a little effort is put into getting familiar with them.  People are often that way.  We know them a little and we think we have the book on them.  Books covers can also be misleading.  We often see books with fantastical art that the stories inside cannot keep up with.  But other books have rather plain covers that do not at all represent what great things are inside for us to learn or experience. 
Sister Dew tells how on that particular day she was going deeper into Central Park and seeing many things that amazed her that she had no idea were there because she had only skimmed the edges.  She didn't know there was a castle in Central Park for example. 
Those of us who are a little familiar with Sheri Dew will not be surprised that she compared this great increase in her appreciation for Central Park, as a result of her going further into it than she ever had before, to the gospel.  She suggests that the more deeply we go into the gospel, the more right down the middle of the doctrine of Christ we go, the more beautiful and amazing it will be to us.  Whereas if we just cut the corners and skim the edges that we will miss many amazing and wonderful things.
C.S. Lewis said "We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in the slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by an offer of a holiday at the sea....We are far too easily pleased" (A Mind Awake, 168).
Sometimes I can't help but think that members who decline or postpone preparing themselves for the temple are indeed too easily pleased with the gospel.  They are missing a major delicious part by convincing themselves that whatever keeps them from the temple is better because they can't imagine the blessings of the temple. 

One thing in particular I think that women miss a lot is information and doctrines related to the Priesthood.  I've heard ladies ask at times "why is he telling us about Priesthood stuff" when a Bishop took the opportunity to teach the Relief Society about the Priesthood.  The Priesthood is as important to the ladies as it is to the men, although possibly in different ways, so I would hope they would learn how the Priesthood fits into the gospel. 

When I was a young man and talked to my Bishop to tell him I was taking a vacation that could lead to a lengthy absence if all worked well, because I was asking a young woman in another state to marry me.  He said that was fine because I was worth more to the church married than I was single at that time of my life. (I suppose some might wish to debate that.)  Sister Dew asserts that the more we know and understand the gospel the more useful we are to the Lord.  I suspect that is true. 

She concludes quoting President Hinckley and then commenting: "'The gospel makes so much sense!'...It is the good news.  And the more we probe its depth and breadth, the more likely we will be able, regardless of the opposition, to once again stand loyally by God and by Jesus, and to do so without so much as even flinching at the onslaught of the world." 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Pictures from Girl's camp 2011

Well now that everyone has returned home and had plenty of time (several days) to recuperate from girls camp I thought it might be safe to place some pictures on my blog.  I heard it was a lot of fun and hopefully the pictures can bring back some good memories. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Modern Heroes #1: Paora Winitana

I recently learned about a professional basketball player in New Zealand who is a Bishop in the church there.  He has become my most recent hero because he chose not to play basketball for the grand final championship on the Sabbath day.  As a result his team lost.  Paora Winitana is the starting shooting guard for the HBS Bank Hawks and was missed by his team. 
He has played for a few different teams but when he started his professional career in 1996 he was Rookie of the Year in the NBL.  He was captain of his team when they won the title in 2006 and he played on the silver medal team in the 2006 Commonwealth Games. 
When his coach was given a chance after the championship game he admitted that they might have been better with Paora playing but would not say unkind things about him.  Instead he said the following:  "These things happen in sport. Paora's my brother and he's come into his faith so I respect him even more. To stand there [on the bench] and go through that - I look up to the guy as a human being. If everyone strived to be like Paora Winitana, the world would be a better place."
It is evident that Paora Winitana is a good ambassador for the church and lives the gospel in a way that shines forth to others.  It also seems clear that he doesn't do that in such a way that he comes across as "holier than thou".  I appreciate good examples of those willing to live the gospel even when it isn't convenient. 

Latter-day Saint basketball player Paora Winitana made a commitment long ago to spend Sundays with his family and as a day of worship.
He is sticking to his decision this Sunday and will miss the National Basketball League final."I love basketball, but I am a father, a husband and member of the Church first," he says.
"Basketball is what I do, not who I am."
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints set aside Sunday as a day to remember the Saviour Jesus Christ, to worship, and spend time with family.

Here are some highlights of an article from 2008 that feature his faith and family prominently which can be read in its entirety here:

Paora Winitana joins Adelaide 36ers NBL side   
"It is one of a number of anomalies about the ordained minister with the striking resemblance to former pro wrestler and actor Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.
"I'm very excited to be coming to Adelaide and grateful the club understands about Sundays," he said.
A bishop with the Church of Jesus Christ – Latter Day Saints, Winitana's faith prevents him from playing or training on Sundays.
Almost still a rookie at 31, Winitana played with the Breakers' breakthrough debutant in 2003-04, dropped out of the NBL to be with wife Tia and then-newborn son Paora, before returning to play last season with the Breakers' break-out team, NZ's first to reach the finals.
The NZNBL Rookie of the Year in 1996, he debuted for the Tall Blacks in 2002 after missing several seasons on a Mormon mission."

Here is a video that features Paora Winitana:
This from another article about the championship game that can be read in its entirety here:

As Wellington Saints coach Pero Cameron cut the net down from the hoop, about five metres away a well-known Hawke's Bay parent, beaming from ear to ear, played with his child.

Paora Winitana extended his arms in front of his chest in the shape of a hoop as his son, Mana, celebrating his third birthday, deftly sunk the ball with dead accuracy before yelping with delight.

That's all the action Winitana, a Mormon bishop, saw last night as the HBS Bank Hawks stumbled at the last hurdle of their Bartercard National Basketball League (NBL) campaign in Wellington.

Winitana laughed when asked if there was always next year, emphasising he battled with injuries for three years but this season played through without any hiccups.

"I played every game, bar the Sundays, and if I'm healthy I can always help," he said, revealing he had signed for two years with the Hawks.

Hawks franchise owner Rod Earnshaw didn't mince words, saying the timing of the play-offs in Wellington was nothing short of "political" considering they had banked on a Friday/Saturday series.

"It was changed because Sky TV could only cover [the grand final] on a Sunday and that had an immediate impact on us," Earnshaw said.

"I'm not a sore loser but I just didn't agree with the decision on Sky.

"I mean if you take the top man out of any team you're going to struggle," Hawks to 'learn from this', he lamented, lauding Winitana for standing by his religious beliefs and stance but feeling the code should accommodate for such commitment.
He took his hat off to the Hawks for a great season.

"The difference was we came out aggressive tonight and the guys were knocking down the shots," he said, adding Wellington upped the tempo and the Hawks got into foul trouble.

"Definitely, they [the Hawks] missed the Bishop. It's always good to have Paora on and they could have used him tonight," Johnson said

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2

My wife told me a couple of weeks ago that we would be going to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows as a family.  Harry Potter has really been a part of my girls life since it has gotten started about ten years ago.  The books have made the rounds in the family and now the movies.  It has really had an impact.  I think the youngest two have read the books multiple times and we own a few of the movies and several of the soundtracks. 
I have read about the first four books and then got diverted and never have returned to the books.  I think I have seen the first 3-4 movies then missed a couple and then I saw the Hallows part 1 a couple times.  The last time was last night to get ready for seeing this movie in the theater.  I was glad that we watched it again so I didn't have any lag time in figuring out what was going on at the start of this movie.  This movie starts fast and doesn't give you much time to catch up.  
So we got our tickets in advance and went to the theater earlier than we normally would so we could have our choice at seats.  We got there so early that the credits were still running from its last showing.  I'd never gone to a movie early enough to see that.  The theater wasn't quite packed but it was fuller than I have seen since it was built.  I noticed the ages of the people there were largely about my girls ages which range from older teens to mid twenties.  There were some parents and some younger children too. 
The movie literally started off from the end of the last one.  That very last scene from Deathly Hallows 1 is shown and then goes right into this movie.  I liked Hallows 1 all right but wasn't overly excited about it.  I was kind of expecting to like this one about the same. 
What I found though was that it was a great movie.  The action was much higher and interested me from that aspect.  However, what really interested me was the good versus evil theme that was very strong here.  As a matter of fact there were some very strong Christ parallels, if you look for it and can accept comparing Harry Potter to Christ.  If that bothers you then there are some other things that do not parallel the gospel. 
It really was an enjoyable movie and all the family enjoyed it.  So did the people.  There were a couple of --I guess you would have to call them "minor swear words"--and one mother versus daughter scene at the end bothered me a little because of the satisfaction the victor had--but aside from that I could see shades of epic battles from the Book of Mormon, Lord of the Rings, and Old Testament battles as we watched the good versus evil.  Lots of people were killed but very little graphic slaughter--and what was a bit graphic (I can think of two instances) was much muted over what has become acceptable in other movies nowadays. 
So it all boils down to a great movie that struck a couple of cords with me despite my not having read all the books, nor having kept up with all the movies.  One thing that strikes me about this movie is the modesty was excellent.  There was a slight amount of romance which was acceptable for all ages (a couple kisses) and was actually improved over the one questionable scene in Hallows 1.  So this may fit your criteria for a family show that is acceptable to all the family members.  I think some of the scenes could be a bit much for youngsters, so I wouldn't take them under age 8 or so.  One of my girls has been really sensitive to movies (her first movie was the original Shrek and she wanted to leave after five minutes) but she handled everything well. 

I'd be interested to hear what you see as parallels to Christianity if you see it. 
Older Harry Potter and wife
P.S.  It's possible you will think the movie is over at least once before it finally ends.  Seeing the adult Harry Potter and friends with their children is a good flash for those of us who remember being a teen but now find ourselves middle aged. 

P.P.S. it is fun to see Neville return and oppose Satan, oops I mean Voldemort saying in essence that good can be in our hearts even if our exemplar is not here.  Again Neville is made fun of but steps forward at the right time and does the right thing just when it is needed--yeah for the underdog!

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