Friday, September 30, 2011

Hello Dolly Bars With A Chocolate Twist

Growing up we lived on a farm in rural Manitoba. Our closest neighbour lived a mile and a half away down a gravel road. Conveniently our closest neighbour was also my best friend. As teenagers she and my sister and I spent a lot of time together playing board games, badminton, croquet, lawn darts and generally entertaining ourselves as only teenage girls can.

(Just as an aside I think they started putting safety tips on lawn darts because of us. There was a minor accident involving me, my sister, a renegade lawn dart and contact with a rather fleshy part of the back of my anatomy, which surprisingly enough is capable of bleeding quite profusely. It took a few days before I was able to sit down comfortably again. But I digress)

Sometimes we had sleepovers and these generally entailed baking some sort of sticky, high calorie dessert that we’d happily polish off as we sat up talking till the wee hours of the morning. One of our favourites was Hello Dolly bars. They were so easy to make and swimming in greasy, fatty goodness!

Typically the base is made from graham wafer crumbs and butter, but I recently decided to try substituting Oreo cookie crumbs. (It’s hard to go wrong with chocolate!) Here’s the recipe for Hello Dolly bars with a chocolate twist.

Chocolate Hello Dolly Bars

¾ cup butter
1 ½ cups Oreo cookie crumbs
1 cup coconut
1 cup chocolate chips
1 can sweetened condensed milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
Melt the butter in an 8” x 8” pan and stir the Oreo cookie crumbs into it. Spread this mixture evenly over the bottom of the pan and pack down lightly with a fork. 
Sprinkle the coconut over the base.
Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the coconut.
Drizzle the can of sweetened condensed milk evenly over the chocolate chips.
Bake for 35 minutes or until nicely browned.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

What's Enough?

Have you ever considered the word “enough”? I mean really thought about it, rolled it around on your tongue and tasted it or stared at it so hard your eyes crossed while you imagined what it looks like?

I vividly remember having a conversation about this word with a friend when I was ten. It took place on the big yellow school bus we rode each day. We’d had a spelling test and “enough” was one of the words. I’d spelt it wrong (probably using the popular “enuff” or “enuf” version) and was expressing righteous indignation over the fact this word dared to exist! It’s a silly sounding word...enuf...kind of like the sound of a sneeze, but phonetically how do you get “uff” out of “ough”?  What’s up with that!?!

This young fixation with the word was just the start of what I’ve come to realize is an ongoing issue in my life. What’s enough? How much is enough? Do I ever have enough?

The problem came to light when I cooked my first Thanksgiving dinner. I man-handled the frozen turkeys in the grocery store, heaving one after the other out of the deep freeze until my hands could have functioned as ice packs. I wanted to make sure the turkey was big enough to feed eight. None of them seemed up to the task but I finally settled on a 15 lb (6.8 kg) bird. Needless to say I had a “little” bit of turkey left over! Actually we ate turkey pie, turkey stew, turkey soup, turkey sandwiches, turkey tacos and turkey casserole for the rest of the week! Six months later we still had leftovers in the freezer!

When cooking for larger groups of people I’ve done the same thing with roast beef, steaks and even stir fry and desserts! (OK the desserts I generally make more than one because they’re just fun to do...but there’s always the chance ONE might not be enough!)

I thought this fixation with “enough” only encompassed the area of food in my life, but apparently I was wrong! Recently I created a new flower bed in our front yard and ordered a special blend of garden soil from the local “dirt company”. After the truck dumped the heap on our lawn I turned to my husband, saying dubiously, “That doesn’t look like very much dirt. Maybe I should have ordered more. I don’t think there’s enough there.” Then I started to shovel...and shovel...and shovel...and guess what...there was LOTS of dirt. Enough to fill the flower bed AND create another bed all around the front of the house!

You’d think I’d learn my lesson, but then there were the flower bulbs. In my mind I saw endless, rippling waves of yellows, pinks and purples bursting forth in bloom as the first rays of spring sunshine warmed the damp exposed earth. I bought daffodils, tulips, crocuses, anemones, and hyacinths and started to plant. I thought I’d dig a few holes, stuff in the bulbs and...boom; done in an hour. Three hours and 206 bulbs later...I thought I was single handedly planting Butchart Gardens!

These are just a few examples of areas in my life where I’ve been afraid of not having enough. I don’t know where this stems from – I grew up in rural Manitoba. Life wasn’t easy for my parents but we certainly always had enough food on the table, clothes to wear and toys to play with. I think somewhere deep inside we all experience the fear of not having enough.

In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul talks about contending with “a thorn in the flesh”. Three times he asks God to remove it and three times Paul is told, “...My grace is all you need...” Essentially God is saying “I’m Enough!” You don’t need the designer clothes, you don’t need the BMW, you don’t need the latest version of Windows on your computer, the new iPhone, or the 62” TV set. I didn’t NEED the 15 lb turkey and I certainly didn’t need the 206 flower bulbs!

What I do need is God in my life. I need to accept the grace He offers to me every day. Hopefully through acceptance of this grace I’ll learn to overcome the “need” for things that aren’t that important. If I let Him, God will be enough for me. Are you willing to let Him be enough for you?

Do you have any funny stories about things that weren’t “enough” in your life? Share them by clicking comments below.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Reading God's Word For Your Life

This week’s blog topic comes from Faithful Bloggers, a directory listing various Christian blogs.  You can visit their site at .

Do you have a love affair with books? Do you walk into a book store and lovingly caress the hard covers while soaking up the ambiance? I have a friend who views all unread books as potential friends. Is this you?

Maybe you’re more of an electronic person; absolutely hooked on your Kindle, Kobo or Sony e-reader and can’t wait for the next download! 

Maybe you’re like me. I’ve developed quite an attachment to my glossy, pink Sony e-reader but can’t give up completely on the hard copy book. An entire shelf of my bookcase overflows with books I’ve bought to read “one day”.  A number of books live on my Sony that fall into this category, too.

This brings me to another question. Of all the books you’ve read have you ever read the Bible cover to cover? And another question (more to satisfy my own curiosity to see if I suffer from a fear of not having enough – more on that in next week’s post) many Bibles do you own?

I’m rather embarrassed to say I own six copies, including the one on my e-reader; all in different translations. I’m not even going to mention the ones my husband owned before we got married because that throws the number of Bibles in our house way off the charts! Sadly in spite of all this ownership up until two years ago I hadn't read the entire Bible cover to cover.

This deficit in Bible reading certainly wasn’t from lack of available Bibles or from lack of trying. Many times I started a reading program at the beginning of a new year thinking, “THIS is the year I’ll stick to the plan and read the entire Bible!”

I’d focus on it for the first month, reading in bed. Too many times I’d wake myself up with an unattractive snort only to realize I’d fallen asleep yet again. I’d fall behind, get discouraged and eventually give up.

A couple of years ago I was working on growing my personal relationship with God. I was praying, asking Him to use me in His work when a vivid thought slashed across my mind, “How can I use you if you won’t even spend time in My Word?” Wow, did I stand convicted! That evening I decided it was time to take this Bible reading seriously. I pulled out the copy of "The Message" I purchased with good intentions a year earlier and started to read.

I didn’t work with a schedule. I didn’t let it randomly fall open hoping God would point out some life changing scripture. I simply opened the cover and started with the first chapter just like I was reading any other book. I changed my reading time. After dinner I shut off the TV and reached for my Bible instead. Soon I was looking forward to these relaxing, quiet reading sessions.

I don’t remember how long it took me to read through "The Message" the first time. I wasn’t on a time schedule. I was just reading and learning from God’s word. He spoke to me as I read and a number of times I found myself writing down thoughts and insights in a journal. Some of these thoughts even became messages my pastor encouraged me to share on Sunday morning at church.

Are you unsuccessful with your Bible reading? Stop pressuring yourself, approach it like you approach any other book. Open the cover, start in the beginning and read till you get to the end. You don’t need to read for a set period of time. Use whatever time you’ve got even if it’s only ten minutes at day. Eventually you’ll be surprised to find you’ve completed the Old Testament. One day you’ll finish the Book completely and want to start all over again.

Will you understand everything you read? No! But pray and ask God for wisdom and understanding. Surprising as it may seem, He WILL give it to you. Will there be sections that could potentially put you to sleep? Yes! Persevere! You’ll be amazed at the rich stories and history contained in this Book. There are stories of love and war, violence, hatred, reconciliation, failure, defeat and triumph. You’ll read of men and women of incredible faith and people with great trust and hope for the future.

I could go on and on but it's best to experience it personally. You'll find your faith strengthened, changed, and renewed. Post your comments below – Have you read the Bible from cover to cover? What works for you?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Who's In Your Driver's Seat?

Four months ago we acquired a small, grey ball of fluff with eyes, teeth and a fluffy tail who goes by the name of Zeus, affectionately nicknamed the “Jaws of Destruction”.

He’s capable of chewing through any cell phone charger, speaker cable, phone cord or headphone wire faster than a chainsaw eats through a 2 x 4. He’s very efficient, one...two...three bites and he’s done – the cord is in pieces.

Lately when we open the door he’s taken to dashing through our legs, scurrying down the sidewalk and charging across the street. He’s three lawns down before you even know he’s escaped. Fearing for his life we went to the pet store this weekend in search of a device to serve as a barrier on the porch to slow his race for freedom.

When we pulled up to the pet store this is what we saw. 

I couldn’t resist turning to my husband and stating the obvious, “Look there’s a dog driving that car!” It actually looked quite natural, and yet...not!

This made me stop and ask the question, “Who’s in my driver’s seat?” Do I cling desperately to things in life beyond my control, stressing myself out? Do I trust God enough to open my clenched fists and relinquish control to Him? Am I trying to be tourist, navigator and driver all at once or have I allowed God to take over the role of navigator and driver while I enjoy the journey?

I must confess I have a few “control issues”.  Anyone who knows me is rolling on the floor laughing at the magnitude of that understatement. OK, I have HUGE, GIGANTIC, GARGANTUAN, HUMUNGOUS (insert any other “large” adjective here) control issues! I like to do things my way, on my time schedule, in the location of my choice. 

I’ve read various articles over the years indicating the need to be “in control” stems from a low self-image, and feelings of inferiority and insecurity. I can honestly say this holds true in my case. Over the years I’ve struggled with all three of these self-defeating attitudes.

There's good news though. In the last few years I’ve relaxed my tight grip on control. Why is that? I’ve found someone I can trust who always provides for me and meets my every need; someone who always gives what's best for me, even when I don’t know what "the best" is.

Any idea who I'm talking about? God. I’ve learned to give up control and trust God with a lot of things in my life. I’ve learned I don’t always have to have the answers, that sometimes it’s OK just to ask questions, ponder the possibilities and leave the answers up to God. Life isn’t perfect and I’ve realized I don’t have to be either. I just need to be genuine, truthful and teachable.

You can trust God in your life, too.  Here’s some reassurance straight from God’s word, the Bible...

“For I know the plans I have for you, “ says the Lord, “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)

“So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time He will lift you up in honour. Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7 (NLT)

“I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” John 14:27

“The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring.” Isaiah 58:11 (NLT)

“Don’t worry about anything; instead , pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.  His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)

It’s time to finally let go of that exhausting need to be in control. It might take a few attempts before you succeed, but start by asking God today to take your cares and burdens on His shoulders. Then keep coming back to Him in prayer with your worries and learn to trust Him fully. Who do you want in your driver’s seat?

Comment by clicking on “comments” below.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Ice Cream Sandwich Dessert

Wow, time is flying by faster than cars in the final lap of a Nascar race! I'm absolutely loathe to write these next words, but find I have no choice. The final long weekend of summer is upon us (or about to be) and it seems like summer just started last week (when the 30 degree weather finally showed up).

I know a lot of you are planning to gather with friends or family to bar-b-que and enjoy the long weekend. Don't waste a minute of the weekend slaving in the kitchen - keep it simple! Here's a recipe you can throw together faster than your dog can steal steaks off the bar-b-q. (Be sure to put this together the night before so the flavours have a chance to mingle.)


1 box of 24 ice cream sandwiches
1 large container Cool Whip (thaw this ahead of time)
1 package Skor bits (find these in the baking aisle with the chocolate chips)

Cover the bottom of a deep 9" x 13" pan with a layer of ice cream sandwiches. You'll need to cut a few to make sure the entire bottom is covered (squish in the pieces if you have to).
Spread half the container of Cool Whip over the sandwiches.
Sprinkle about half the package of Skor bits over top.

Add another layer of ice cream sandwiches, again being sure to cut to size to fill the entire pan.
Spread the rest of the Cool Whip over the sandwiches.
Sprinkle the rest of the Skor bits on the Cool Whip layer.

Cover and freeze.  Enjoy!

If you try this recipe please come back and leave feedback on how you liked it.