Sunday, October 30, 2011

Arguing with Insulting Squirrels

I admit it. Sometimes, I latch onto a topic and it can really consume my thoughts. I research it and try to fully understand it and then... I get into arguments.

I don't mean to start out arguing with people, but I'm sure you've been in the same situation. You know something to be true, and then some wisenheimer comes up and challenges you with a circular argument. You add new information supporting your side, yet this person keeps repeating, ad nauseum, the same diatribe over and over. Only, with each counter, they get more and more insulting.

I seem to attract the snide and self righteous. They like to call me "sweetie" or "honey" like I'm some bubble headed twit in Junior High who isn't nearly as well read as them. I hate that. It raises the hackles and makes me wish I could get away with shaking them until their marbles fall out.... that is, if they had any.

So, what has gotten me all irritated? Well there is this group called the Freedom From Religion Foundation that has made it their personal mission to obliterate the evidence of faith in our country. They claim it is a question of legality and constantly quote "separation of church and state" as their basis, as well as court cases they have won. They deny the faith of our founding fathers as well even though they quoted scripture liberally, and declared a national time of fasting and prayer during the Revolutionary War.

The beginning of my quest to more fully understand the 1st Amendment and Establishment Clause was due to a disturbing mass hysteria among the FFRF members, over a statue of Jesus that is at the top of Whitefish Mountain in Whitefish, Montana. It was a monument requested by returning WWII veterans, after time spent in Europe, where they saw many icons similar to it, in the mountains. The Knights of Columbus here in the Flathead Valley, requested to lease the land from the US Forest Service and have renewed the lease every 10 years without fail or objection. They maintain the statue and 25X25' ground it sits on. It is in essence, a war memorial.

It quickly became a favorite meeting spot for skiers on that particular run and many pictures have been taken of it. It's become a tourist stop, and even a place for reflection for some skiers. One skier, in an interview in a local paper, stated he stopped there from time to time to think about his mother who passed. No one goes and worships the statue. No religious ceremonies are officially held there. I know that ashes have been spread there, though that's unofficially, off the record. It has become part of the culture in our community and now, it is under attack.

What is infuriating, is that members of the FFRF like to claim this is just a legal matter, though their Facebook page is peppered with insulting quotes and cartoons that mock the Christian religion (only Christian). One member stated "I am giddy for the day the court rules in our favor and you are forced to tear that monstrosity down!" Nice. I thought they were above personal feelings and just out for justice? Guess not.

I found an interesting newsletter that is mostly about the teachings of ID, which I do not agree with, however they touched on the issue of "separation of church and state" since the government will not hear of metaphysical sciences being taught in school and give preference to Darwinism. This person claims, correctly as far as I can tell, that Darwinism is the state declared religion. But that argument is for another day. However, what caught my attention was a lengthy explanation that included citations from a well known court case and quotes from Jefferson, quoted within context, rather than out as the FFRF likes to do. Here is the summary:
In summary: The fiction of "separation of church and state" is a legal monstrosity. It is not the meaning of the clear simple words in the first amendment. It is counter to the intent of the easily ascertainable thoughts of the founders. It is based on the words of Thomas Jefferson written 14 years later in an incidental letter not specifically on the Constitution. Jefferson was not in the country at the time of the drafting of the first amendment. His meaning was the opposite of that interpreted by the Judge. He was referring to a sermon in which the "wall" protected the church from the state and not the state from the church. The first amendment had been properly understood for a century and a half. A former Klu Klux Klan member sat in judgment on the Supreme Court and passed a judgment that happened to coincide with the views of the Klan that his son said he supported. The judge wrote those words in direct and purposeful contradiction to the majority opinion that he was supposed to be expressing.
For further reading: Separation of Church and State Not In the Constitution

So, my conclusion is that either knowingly or unknowingly, they have taken up a grudge by a racist KKK member and run with it. They pervert the language of the Constitution and truly desire to scrub our history clean of all mentions of faith because they personally have a dislike for it. I can't tell you how many times I've been told that the founding father's were deists, as though that meant they had no intention of including God in our government. However, I submit the following as proof, straight from our government pages (Religion and the Founding of the American Republic)
  • At its initial meeting in September 1774 Congress invited the Reverend Jacob Duché (1738-1798), rector of Christ Church, Philadelphia, to open its sessions with prayer. DuchéDuché.
  •  On July 4, 1776, Congress appointed Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams "to bring in a device for a seal for the United States of America." Franklin's proposal adapted the biblical story of the parting of the Red Sea. Jefferson first recommended the "Children of Israel in the Wilderness, led by a Cloud by Day, and a Pillar of Fire by night. . . ." He then embraced Franklin's proposal and rewrote it. Jefferson's revision of Franklin's proposal was presented by the committee to Congress on August 20. Although not accepted these drafts reveal the religious temper of the Revolutionary period. Franklin and Jefferson were among the most theologically liberal of the Founders, yet they used biblical imagery for this important task.
  • Congress proclaimed days of fasting and of thanksgiving annually throughout the Revolutionary War. This proclamation by Congress set May 17, 1776, as a "day of Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer" throughout the colonies. Congress urges its fellow citizens to "confess and bewail our manifold sins and transgressions, and by a sincere repentance and amendment of life, appease his [God's] righteous displeasure, and through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, obtain his pardon and forgiveness." Massachusetts ordered a "suitable Number" of these proclamations be printed so "that each of the religious Assemblies in this Colony, may be furnished with a Copy of the same" and added the motto "God Save This People" as a substitute for "God Save the King."
  • The war with Britain cut off the supply of Bibles to the United States with the result that on Sept. 11, 1777, Congress instructed its Committee of Commerce to import 20,000 Bibles from "Scotland, Holland or elsewhere." On January 21, 1781, Philadelphia printer Robert Aitken (1734-1802) petitioned Congress to officially sanction a publication of the Old and New Testament which he was preparing at his own expense. Congress "highly approve the pious and laudable undertaking of Mr. Aitken, as subservient to the interest of religion . . . in this country, and . . . they recommend this edition of the bible to the inhabitants of the United States." This resolution was a result of Aitken's successful accomplishment of his project.

Many would like to deny that our country was founded on Christian principals, and much of that information has been withheld in schools for a long time. Universities that employ leftist and atheists who are antagonistic towards Christianity are ripe with religious intolerance.

The reason this concerns me, is because I feel that if we as Christians, do not fight (peacefully) against this trend, that we hasten the time when we are openly persecuted with violence. Because we know, that this is what it all leads up to in the end. It is already happening all over the world. Now, there are many who are demanding our government be destroyed and rebuilt as socialist/communist. Do you know what they do with Christians in communist China? There are also many working very hard to put into place Sharia Law in our US courts. Do you know about the brutality that is suffered by Christians in Islamic run countries?

So, it begins with a statue of Jesus. A memorial to WWII veterans returned from war. This is what they want destroyed, now, after 58yrs with no complaints. A group, out of Wisconsin, is gunning for this historic, artistic memorial. Will you stand up and say, "No!" to government sanctioned oppression and persecution? Here is their counterpart's Facebook page: Save Jesus In Whitefish Montana and if you are interested, here is the Knights of Columbus website. Congressman Denny Rehberg has come to the rescue with a page (Mountain Jesus: Let Your Voice Be Heard) where you can have your comments sent to the Forest Service. I urge you to do so if you are in support.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;...
The so called "wall of separation between church and state" isn't Constitutional either. Rather, they are some incidental words written by Thomas Jefferson - obviously a founder - written in 1802 that spoke of this "wall" between church and state. A Baptist community in Danbury Connecticut had written a letter to Jefferson in 1802 congratulating him on his successful election to president. As part of his response Jefferson celebrated that the American people had passed the first amendment and that that amendment gave the protection to the Baptists that they desired. That is, the amendment protected the church from the state. Here is the snippet.
"Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church & State."
Ironically, Jefferson intended for his letter to the Danbury Baptists to reassure them that the new federal government would not endanger the free expression of their religion. This is widely known. But what is not well known is that Jefferson did not actually coin the phrase "separation of church and state." (The Marketing of Evil by David Kupelian, p 56, 2005).
So now we have another mystery. Who was Jefferson quoting and what did that person mean? The answer is that they were words from a sermon written by Roger Williams, a prominent Baptist.
That sermon, rendered by Roger Williams (the founder of the Rhode Island Plantation colony, and a Baptist), depicted the church as a garden, the world as a wilderness, and the wall as a device of the Creator's invention that protected the garden from being overrun by the wilderness. Williams explained that, from time to time, for the purpose of disciplining sin in the church, "it hath pleased" the Almighty to break down the wall. Thomas Jefferson, ever the politician, knew when he communicated with the Baptists that "The Garden And The Wilderness" was well known and widely read nearly two generations later. He appealed to them in the terms of their own great man's idiom. (Jim Henderson, letter to the editor, *Whistleblower* magazine, December 2003, 43.)
So now you see, what a mess one man made of our judicial system by using phrases out of context and reinterpreting the 1st Amendment. Because our public school system derives it's textbooks via approval by the government, people in power who use their position freely to suit an agenda that is to destroy religion, it's historical context within our country's founding and the expression of it publicly, we have generations of people who don't know any better. I urge anyone who reads this to seek their own answers from unbiased sources. Do not just trust websites. Look for your answers in textbooks and also let your heart guide you. Pray about any information being received and for discernment to know what is truth and what are lies.
Snow Jesus: The Skiers Mascot

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Bacon stands alone as one of the top great inventions in food. It can stand alone or be added into almost any food and that dish will be better for it. From the simple perfection of a BLT.... a moment to adore the lovely BLT...

... to the surprisingly wonderful Bacon Chocolate Bar, bacon DOES make everything better!
The wonderful guys at J&D's have made it their life's work to infuse our lives with bacon. I fell in love with their bacon salt and use it on just about everything.

So, of course with both mother and father loving bacon, would it be any wonder that our offspring would also have an almost unholy love for the smoky pork goodness of bacon? My son Connor... he is whip smart and funny. He loves... LOVES bacon. So, one morning, he was reveling in the flavor of dad's latest pick of bacon from the store and took us all with a phrase that we have now copyrighted:


After a day of chuckling about it, my son asked if we could make a tshirt with that on it. So, I set to creating a design and what we came up with seemed pretty awesome. I put it up on my art gallery under it's own category. I'm hoping, even if it's just for my son, that the idea takes off. He is constantly asking if anyone has bought a shirt yet. Only two so far, but I hope that other like minded folks will notice and find it clever enough to buy a design. If you are such a warm soul, you can check out the products by clicking on any image below.

Danger Tastes Like Bacon shirt
Danger Tastes Like Bacon by cnlbell

Danger: Bacon Flavored shirt
Danger: Bacon Flavored by cnlbell

Danger Tastes Like Bacon hat
Danger Tastes Like Bacon by cnlbell

Breakfast Mug mug
Breakfast Mug by cnlbell

There are more designs. Kid's and women's tshirts and I even made a dog tshirt. So, check out the whole line and maybe you will find a great gift for someone you know, who loves bacon.

Crusty Genious

How many times have you, my fellow bakers, been disappointed by soggy crust? You bake a lovely pie, and by virtue of the fact that it has fruit or pudding, and those are wet ingredients, the bottom of your pie is soggy. Of course, it doesn't affect the flavor, but still, you were striving for flaky and crispy throughout the crust. Well, I think I have a solution!

My searches on how to combat this issue, have turned up various strategies. Everything from prebaking with a brush of fruit jelly, or butter, or egg wash to create a moisture proof barrier. Also, there was a lengthy set of steps where you would prebake, then fill the crust, then bake for a set amount of time on the floor of the oven (only if your oven was flat on the bottom of course) and then moved to the center rack for the remainder of the time. Well shoot! There has to be an easier, TASTIER way to improve on this! Right?

Yes. Yes there is. How about, a toffee like crispy thin moisture barrier, that actually adds to the crispiness and gives your pie a salty sweet crunch to it? Well, I can say, "Eureka! I've FOUND it!"

Don't you want a slice?
I decided to make a Cherry Cheese Pie, which seems very classic and yet just a little bit naughty. The tartness of the cherries are the first thing you taste, then the rich creamy smooth cheese mellows out those cherries. Then, the crispy, crunchy crust, has to be a little salty and sweet to bring it all together. Because, it's like chips and guacamole. You can't eat either by themselves. You MUST have the salty crunch of the chips married with the creamy smoothness of the guacamole.... oh goodness... I need to buy avocados and chips tomorrow! Ahem! Back on track! So, here is both, Cherry Cheese Pie and Crispy Toffee Pie Crust!

(crust must come first so it is cool enough for the filling!)

Crispy Toffee Pie Crust
  • 1 1/4 C. flour
  • 1/2 C. cold butter cut into cubes
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/4 C. (approx) ice water
Measure flour and salt into food processor (or bowl if you don't have one). Add butter and pulse until blended to resemble coarse meal (cut in with fork or pastry cutter if working by hand).

Next, add ice water one tablespoon at a time, just until dough starts to stick together. Seems closer to 1/8th of a cup most of the time.

Roll into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for 2 hours. When 2 hours is up, work quickly so you don't warm the dough up too much.

Put plastic wrap down on your counter to prevent sticking and flour your rolling pin. Roll out to a round that will fit your pie pan. I use glass, because I think it is more even than aluminum. To check the size, I always lay the pie pan on top briefly, and make sure the edge of the dough come about an inch to 1 1/2 inches past the edge of the pan.

Next, if you lay the pan in the center of your dough and hold onto the plastic and flip everything right side up, you can peel the wrap off your dough and it's centered in you pan. Fit, and trim to suit the pan. Next, the syrup to seal your pie from moisture!
finished crust next to syrup

Toffee Syrup Pie Sealer
  • 1 C. Sugar
  • 6 Tbsp butter
  • 1/8 Cup hot water
Note: this wasn't exact science. I was experimenting, so all I know, is these measurements worked for me. You may need to adjust your measurements as you play with this idea.

In sauce pan, melt butter on medium heat. When fully melted, add sugar and water. Cook until sugar dissolves stirring constantly. You may need to turn heat up slightly until it begins to bubble on the edges. Continue cooking until in starts to turn slightly golden and when tested in ice water, a drop of the syrup into the water, turns to the soft ball stage. Remove from heat.

Sprinkle the prepared pie crust with cinnamon, all over. Then, with a silicone brush, brush syrup all over the pie. Even the top edges. Next, prick the bottom of the pie with a fork a few times, to prevent bubbling.

Place in 350° F oven and bake for approx 15 min, or until golden brown. Set aside to cool while making pie filling.

Cherry Cheese Pie
  • 1 (8 ounce) pkg cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/3 C. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 (21-ounce) can cherry pie filling, chilled
In either a stand mixer fixed with a paddle attachment or using a hand held electric mixer, cream the cream cheese until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. 

Slowly add the milk mixing on low speed until well combined. Stir in the lemon juice and vanilla  until smooth.

Make sure your pie crust is fully cooled. Next, pour into the crust. Place the pie into the refrigerator for at least 2 hours up to overnight, until well chilled and set.

Top the pie with the pie filling just before serving.
I am dedicating this blog post to one of my favorite fellow baking moms:  

Modern Mrs. Cleaver
This is a blog, definitely worth checking out. She has a gift with food, photography and wit. She often has recipe contests and other fun things to try. Just drop on by and while you're there, tell her I said hi!

Friday, October 14, 2011

When the Going Gets Tough....

You know how bad things seem to happen in clusters? You can't just stub your toe. You have to then, in the process of hopping about in pain, step on an errant lego piece with your unhurt foot, which effectively takes you down where you bruise your knee. It never fails. Me, I grit my teeth, and huff and puff and usually try to blow it off. I'll hobble back to bed, and maybe sigh at how clumsy I am. The next morning I can tell my husband the crazy night wandering I had was a near death experience and laugh. Then, it's all okay.

But sometimes, bad things seem to happen over and over, and you wonder if you'll ever get a break. It's happened often in my life. I try to have that enduring faith that God has a purpose for the direction my life is taking. That the bumps are character building, and pushing me to prove my devotion. One time in particular, was a family experience. I kept telling my husband and kids, "Keep praying! God is looking out for us, and it's all going to be okay." but it didn't turn out the way I thought it would. I didn't understand for a year why, but then, things were slowly looking up. I let go of what I thought should have been and realized it wasn't meant to be. That God had better things in store for us. The excitement of the change of course God made, was amazing.... then I stubbed my toe again.

That's life. Nothing stays on a plateau for long. The tide never stays in. Eventually, you have to go down and the tide rolls out. The trick is not continuing to fall or be drawn out into sea. You have to fight the current. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start climbing again. Every time you do, you get stronger. You grow closer to a God who doesn't let you settle for just you, but pushes you to be the best you.
I'm in a valley right now. It feels cold and dark. I'm not sure how I will get out, because I lost some of my resources. Still, I know I have to keep going. Because if I give up, then the ones around me, who are counting on my strength will lose hope and I cannot let that happen. Every choice we make creates a ripple and effects someone around us. If our choice is a poor one, without even knowing it, we can hurt someone who needs our strength, courage, perseverance. I haven't always been the strong one. Sometimes I need someone to be strong for me. But when there is no one physically near, I have to learn to trust in God. Because He is the only one who won't fail me.

Past Musings You Might Ponder

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