Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Recipe Madness and Reading Frenzy

My good friend Carol sent me a link to this: The Bacon Explosion
It's woven strips of bacon, wrapped around sausage, wrapped around bacon. It's made from 2 pounds thick cut bacon 2 pounds Italian sausage 1 jar of your favorite barbeque sauce 1 jar of your favorite barbeque rub.

It's worth clicking the link just to read how it's made. It contains over 5000 calories and 500 grams of fat. Now I know I'm up to a challenge, but I don't think I'll be making this any time soon - partly because I don't have a smoker!
In other news, since Dec 25th I have read 12 books! The widget down on the r.h.s of this blog is where I keep a record of what books I'm reading.

For Christmas I requested the 12 book series of Swallows and Amazons I read these books frequently as a child and it was nice to reacquaint myself with them.

They haven't held up very well to be honest. There is a fair amount of Racial and Gender Stereotyping that I hadn't noticed as a child. But it was still wonderful the spirit of nostalgia they invoked.

They make me want to take up sailing.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

New Music

I posted 2 new compositions on my music site recently.

One is a piece for Hand Bells and Hand Chimes. It incorporates 2 different hymn tunes 'O Sacred Head Now Wounded' and 'What Wondrous Love is This?' and you can listen to it here.

And the other is a choral introit. It's a 1 minute setting of a text from the psalms that you can listen to here.


Friday, January 23, 2009

In search of a good book?

My good friend the Network Geek posted this on his blog, but I wanted to keep a record of the site and let my readership know about it too. is an intriguing tool to help you pick fiction. It presents you with 12 different scales that their books are rated on.

Happy --- Sad
Funny --- Serious
Safe--- Disturbing
Expected ---Unpredictable
Larger than life---Down to Earth
No sex---Sex

When you click on any of these attributes a slider appears so you can choose a point between the two extremes. You can choose a maximum of 4 attributes and then hit 'Go'. The website will then give you a list of books that meet you criteria

(You can also search via Character, Plot and Setting but the sliders are more fun and yield unexpected results)

If you play with the site put a comment on here with what book it's telling you to read.

My next book according to this site is 'Easter' by Michael Arditti.

Spanglish Omelette (A Visual Recipe)

A traditional Spanish Omelette contains just Eggs, Potato and Onion. I was playing around with leftovers last night and thought why don't I put into the Spanish Omelette what I would serve inside a normal one? And in that simple flash of inspiration the Spanglish Omelette was born!

First cube a medium potato, cover it with water and then put it on the boil until it is tender.

Assemble the rest of your ingredients. I diced up some wonderful ham that I had in the fridge (thanks Paul) and also sliced up some mushrooms. The possibilities are endless once you know the basic technique though :) You will also need 4 eggs and some cheese.

Saute the mushrooms in a small skillet. While that is happening, whisk the 4 eggs together in a glass bowl and then mix in the rest of the ingredients except the potato) I used about 1/2 a cup sharp cheddar in the omelette I made last night, but it's all a matter of taste.

And speaking of taste, make sure you add seasoning too.

Drain the cooked potatoes and then put them in a small oiled skillet - make sure you have oiled the sides as well as the base as otherwise you will have problems later.

Pour the rest of the ingredients on top of the potato and quickly mix them together. You could actually dump the cooked potatoes in the egg mixture and then pour everything into the skillet, but I was being lazy last night!

Swirl the skillet around to spread the egg mixture across the bottom of the skillet. Put it on a medium heat for about 8 minutes. And while it cooks heat your broiler.

When the bottom is cooked put the pan under the broiler for a few minutes to cook the top through. Loosen the cooked omelette in the pan (using something plastic that won't damage the non-stick coating). Put a large dinner plate over the skillet and then invert everything so the omelette lands neatly on the plate.

Cut into wedges and serve with a nice leafy salad!


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Stretch or Crack

This is a reworking and expanding of a post I made here in preparation for this Sunday's Contemplative Service.

Mark 2:18-22

Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting; and people came and said to him, ‘Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?’ Jesus said to them, ‘The wedding-guests cannot fast while the bridegroom is with them, can they? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day.‘No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak; otherwise, the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and so are the skins; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.’

The problem was simple.

Jesus' disciples weren't behaving the way disciples were supposed to behave. They celebrated instead of fasting. They partied instead of looking miserable. They tasted the joy of life instead of rejecting all that life has to offer, and they didn't let their fear of getting it wrong (which they did many times) paralyse them into inactivity.

Jesus answer was simple.

God is doing a new thing - the old ways of being don't apply anymore. Don't sit around at the party looking miserable. The old and the new can't mix. New cloth on an old garment will tear. Old wineskins filled with new wine will crack.

Nearly all the images of faith I've grown up singing about have one thing in common.
A Mighty Fortress is our God
The Name of the Lord is a Strong Tower
On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand
How Firm a Foundation Ye Saints of the Lord.
They are all powerful images of Strength and Safety. Certainty and Solidity.

But here Jesus presents us with a new image, an image of Elasticity, of Flexibility. It's one excites me and makes me uncomfortable at the same time. My inner fundamentalist frequently asks me "Is that God stretching you? Or are you conforming to the world's standards'?" The 'world' of course being my inner fundamentalist's code for anything he disagrees with.

I want to know with absolute certainty that this is a work of God before I respond. Well, let me be honest here, what I really want is that other people will approve of what I'm contemplating before I respond.

When God pours out his 'new wine', I can either stretch or crack. My old framework of faith needs to be upgraded. But neither options seem very pleasant to me. I don't like it when God stretches my faith. I don't want to be challenged. I may enjoy challenging others, but I don't like it when they return the favor. Change is messy. It hurts. It's exhausting.

But I don't want to crack either. I've experienced the consequences of my own inflexibility - it led me to depression.

When I experience resistance to something I have to try and take a step back and ask myself 'Is God trying to stretch me here?' Many times my resistance is based more in my own fear and uncertainties than in anything concrete. My struggles are more emotional than theological.

If I 'stretch' myself am I saying that I was 'wrong'?

Why do I feel the need to speak with absolute certainty about Divine Mystery? Shouldn't grace leave room for change and doubt?

Maybe it's less about 'right and wrong' and more about 'growing into maturity'.

"When I was a child I spoke as a child I understood as a child I thought as a child; but when I became a man I put away childish things." 1 Corinthians 13:11

Growing up spiritually stretches us in ways we could never imagine.

1) As you look back on your life, how has your understanding of God and your relationship with him changed?

2) Where are you experiencing resistance right now? Why are you resisting? Is God calling you to stretch?

Monday, January 19, 2009

More Classic George Bush Moments

Following on from my classic George Bush quotes here are 10 classic video clips courtesy of David Letterman.

Heavenly Booze

Most images of faith that I have come across are very static, especially in hymn lyrics:

"A Mighty Fortress is our God"

"On Christ the solid rock I stand"

"How Firm a Foundation"

There is a strength and solidity that is comforting. People want a 'constant' in a world of ever shifting variables. KSJB the local christian radio station had a billboard that read 'The Music is Now, the message is Timeless' (In my humble opinion I would argue that the music is actually '10 years old' rather than 'now', but I digress).

The danger with all of these images of strength is that they also suggest immobility and unflexibleness.

I was reading 'Sacred Space' this morning and the passage in the Lectionary for today was:

Mark 2:18-22

Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting; and people came and said to him, ‘Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?’ Jesus said to them, ‘The wedding-guests cannot fast while the bridegroom is with them, can they? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day.
‘No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak; otherwise, the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and so are the skins; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.’

You cannot put new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, as it ferments and the skin tries to expand, it cracks and the wine leaks out.

This is such a different image of faith for me. God pours the 'wine of his presence' into our lives and we have two choices, we either expand or we crack. Christians called to be flexible? Who knew!!!!

Question for reflection: How is God encouraging each of us to 'expand' right now? (No weight gain comments thank you!)

Friday, January 16, 2009

A Trinity of Randomness

Random 1

So, I said in my first blog post of the year that I was going to be working on my weight. My goal is to lose five pounds a month. I know that I could lose more, but it seemed like a realistic target for me. So far I've lost 4 pounds and January isn't over yet :)

I've been doing three things to lose weight so far:

1) Cooking and eating more healthily - this isn't too difficult as of course I leave to cook. The trouble is most serving sizes in diet cookbooks and magazines are ridiculous. I made a yummy pasta chili dish tonight and the recommended portion size was 1 cup. I can't just eat one cup of food and then push my plate away because I can't eat another bite - not realistic people!

2) Cutting down my Dr. Pepper consumption - this is hell on earth. I love Dr. Pepper. I've cooked with Dr. Pepper, heck I was once even paid for a wedding with Dr. Pepper. I'm now drinking just one can a day - and some days I just drink those cute half size cans. It sucks, but I can't argue with the results.

3) Increasing my metabolism - last time I did this by biking, and I'm sure I will do more of that when the weather gets nicer, but I had to find another easy solution.
Dance Dance Revolution!

I have an incredible sense of rhythm. I make my living as a musician. I've learned choreography for Stage Musicals. I took some dance classes at University.


It makes no sense. Yes, I have issues when the dance mat attached to the xbox starts twisting so that the button that is supposed to be due south suddenly relocates to the southwest, but I should be better at it than I am. It raises the metabolism and the sense of shame!

Two songs I've been dancing too - well I say dancing, it's more like angry stomping, are the following. I hope you enjoy them!

Random 2

I'm not much of a beer drinker - in fact I'm not a beer drinker at all. I will drink Hard Cider and even the occasional whisky, but in the main my drink choices tend toward the frivolous. I know I'm not alone in this however. In an episode of 'Scrubs', J.D. is mocked by Turk because he turns down a beer and he responds by saying -

"Even though I'm a man, I don't like beer. I prefer appletinis. They make me feel fancy. There, you hurt and embarrassed me - you happy?"

I like appletinis and I'm slowly discovering other drinks that I'm partial too - this is because when I turned forty I finally allowed myself to buy a cocktail shaker and a recipe book.

(Incidentally, one quick chorus of of 'Shout to the Lord' is about the right rhythm and length of time to shake a really good Cosmopolitan!)
But I digress, I wrote this random section because a miracle has happened!I've finally discovered a beer I like, though it is so unlike normal beer that I'm not sure it totally counts.

Lambic Beer. Well one type of Lambic Beer to be precise. Kriek (pronounced 'creek') it's a Belgian Beer that is made with sour cherries. It reminds me of the English drink Ribena though this one packs quite a potent alcoholic punch.

Random 3

Whilst meditating in the bathroom the other week I was flicking through a copy of P.C. Gamer Monthly and I discovered the following two incredible products.

How did I not know about these??? I LOVE bacon. I don't eat it very much because of Random no. 1, but I do miss it. Now with bacon salt imagine the possibilities. It might even replace Maldon Sea Salt as a must have pantry item. And Bacon Mayo? What sandwich joys could ensue? I could create the ultimate potato salad with it.

What other products could be improved with essence of bacon? Bacon Shower Gel would definitely make getting up in the morning a lot easier. Maybe Starbucks could create the ultimate Mocha Bacon Grande Latte.

I need to find a distributor quickly - or failing that a bacon buttie.

Friday, January 09, 2009

The 'Dangers' of Facebook

Facebook has been wonderful for me to connect with friends from the past and stay connected with friends and relatives in the U.K.

Occasionally though things do appear that make me shudder
This was me when I first moved to the U.S.

This is me in Guatemala helping lead a team of Tech Students to work at a Children's Home.

Please keep the sarcastic comments to a minimum LOL

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Classic Bushisms

Selected George Bush quotes taken from the article here

"They misunderestimated me."
Bentonville, Arkansas, 6 November, 2000

"There's an old saying in Tennessee - I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee - that says, fool me once, shame on... shame on you. Fool me - you can't get fooled again."
Nashville, Tennessee, 17 September, 2002

"There's no question that the minute I got elected, the storm clouds on the horizon were getting nearly directly overhead."
Washington DC, 11 May, 2001

"I want to thank my friend, Senator Bill Frist, for joining us today. He married a Texas girl, I want you to know. Karyn is with us. A West Texas girl, just like me."
Nashville, Tennessee, 27 May, 2004

"The war on terror involves Saddam Hussein because of the nature of Saddam Hussein, the history of Saddam Hussein, and his willingness to terrorise himself."
Grand Rapids, Michigan, 29 January, 2003

"The ambassador and the general were briefing me on the - the vast majority of Iraqis want to live in a peaceful, free world. And we will find these people and we will bring them to justice."
Washington DC, 27 October, 2003

"Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?"
Florence, South Carolina, 11 January, 2000

"Reading is the basics for all learning."
Reston, Virginia, 28 March, 2000

"It's clearly a budget. It's got a lot of numbers in it."
Reuters, 5 May, 2000

"I don't think we need to be subliminable about the differences between our views on prescription drugs."
Orlando, Florida, 12 September, 2000

"Too many good docs are getting out of the business. Too many OB/GYN's aren't able to practice their love with women all across the country."
Poplar Bluff, Missouri, 6 September, 2004

"It would be a mistake for the United States Senate to allow any kind of human cloning to come out of that chamber."
Washington DC, 10 April, 2002

"I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully."
Saginaw, Michigan, 29 September, 2000

"I have a different vision of leadership. A leadership is someone who brings people together."
Bartlett, Tennessee, 18 August, 2000

"I'm the decider, and I decide what is best."
Washington DC, 18 April, 2006

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Swimming Naked?

Many people have asked me, especially after this last blog post here, how my Christmas was.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so here's my answer -

Here I am, overweight, depressed and with a slight hint of whimsy. There is a lot happening right now that I cannot control, so I've decided that I need to do something about what I still have control over.

My weight.

In the 6 months before mom died I lost about 25 pounds. I was biking regularly and eating healthily. After her death the grief piled on the pounds. I want to lose that weight again. I want to lose 30 pounds by next Christmas, realistically I think I could actually achieve that goal in 6 months, so I think I'll aim for 6 months, with the escape route of extending it to 12 if I need to. I'm already trying to cut down the quantity of food I eat as I usually keep eating even after I'm full up, and I'm cutting down initially to one can of Dr. Pepper a day (boohoo).

If this works then I'm guessing exercise will be the next thing added back into the mix.

Christmas had a lot of the joy sucked out of it this year for reasons I'm not going to into now. New Years was better. I'm sure Lubbock, Texas is not every one's idea of an anti-depressant, but it was what I needed. Getting to see old friends was a balm to my wounds.

We didn't talk much depth, though we did talk a lot of b.s.We didn't 'share our lives deeply with each other', we simply got to 'live our lives' with each other, and that was more than enough. Sometimes the deepest of intimacy is created not by sharing wounds, but by sharing laughter. I didn't need to talk about the crap in my life with them, I knew I had the option to do so, and just knowing they were available made the sharing unnecessary.

I've heard it said that it's only when the tide goes out that you see who is swimming naked. Well the tide went out at Christmas, and I'm glad to say I was still well covered up. Covered up by faith, covered up by prayer and covered up by friends. I don't know if it will be a long walk back to the beach, or whether the water will come back and I can float gently to shore, but I do know I'll be o.k.

Sometimes you need a shoulder to cry on, and other times you need a good laugh.

Thanks for the laugh Lubbock, you were much needed.