Dream Shard Blog: The Scintillating Adventures of Our Household

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Nov '10


We hosted Thanksgiving for my mom and sister’s family. What is Thanksgiving without a formal table setting?

The kids were more informal.

And because I’m a giver, here’s the recipe I used to make Chocolate Bavarian Pie, the pie which, when John tasted it, caused him to exclaim, “It tastes good! I’m surprised!” Which basically sums up my sad baking skills.

But the reason it tasted so good is because I followed the recipe (from Hershey’s Best Loved Recipes).

Chocolate Bavarian Pie


* 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
* 1-3/4 cups milk, divided
* 2/3 cup sugar
* 6 tablespoons HERSHEY’S Cocoa
* 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
* 2 tablespoons butter
* 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1 cup (1/2 pt.)cold whipping cream
* 1 baked 9-inch pie crust or crumb crust, cooled


1. Sprinkle gelatin over 1 cup milk in medium saucepan; stand several minutes to soften.

2. Stir together sugar and cocoa; add to milk mixture. Add corn syrup. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture boils. Remove from heat. Add butter; stir until melted. Stir in remaining 3/4 cup milk and vanilla. Pour into large bowl. Cool; refrigerate until almost set.

3. Beat whipping cream in small bowl on high speed of mixer until stiff. Beat chocolate mixture on medium speed until smooth. On low speed, add half of the whipped cream to chocolate mixture, beating just until blended. Pour into prepared crust; refrigerate until set, at least 3 hours. Just before serving, garnish with remaining whipped cream. Cover; refrigerate leftover pie. 8 servings.

Nov '10

And I Conquered the World!

Have I ever mentioned how I’m scared of heights? Actually, it’s more like a fear of falling. Even watching actors in movies come perilously close to a cliff edge makes me nervous. And flying in airplanes? Well, I’m becoming braver the older I get, but I still get butterflies.

So last weekend John and I went with friends to an indoor rock climbing place. It was our first time. We rented harnesses and got a lesson in belaying. This was a new concept to me. You work in a team of two. One person knots the rope to their harness. This rope goes all the way up to the top of the climbing wall, loops around a metal bar, and falls back down and is hooked to a special pulley on the other person’s harness. So you’re both attached to the same rope. As the climber climbs, the other person belays. This means he controls the amount of slack in the rope and acts as an anchor. If the climber lets go, he won’t fall far. The belayer ensures the safety of the climber.

But the climber has to trust the belayer. We started on the easy walls, where the grips are large and easy to grip. But the higher I got the more I found myself calling down to John, “You still got me?”

And he always did. I enjoyed the physical challenge of climbing. But I couldn’t stop myself from feeling afraid the higher I went. My friend Alicia gave some good advice after her first climb of the night (she’s also a little afraid of heights). She said, “I was as scared as heck, but I just kept going. I knew if I didn’t push through it, I would never make it.”

So that’s what I did. Pushed through the fear. And it was awesome to hit the high metal bar and realize I made it all the way. And once you reach the top you can sit back in your harness and let your partner release the rope and guide you back down to the ground. It’s like you’re flying.

The other nifty thing we did that night was try a new restaurant. We were going to Olive Garden, but it was packed with a 45-minute wait, and we only had 45 minutes to eat. So we walked across the parking lot to a Japanese place that we’d never tried. The hostess asked us if we were there for sushi or hibachi, which made me realize how uncultured we are, as I had no idea what hibachi was, but I knew I didn’t want sushi. So we said, “That other one.” And we were seated right away in front of a big steel grill.

Turns out that you order your food and the chef prepares it right in front of you, fresh. Call me nerdy, but I thought it was really fun. He did a little performing for us, setting things on fire and such, and tossing shrimp pieces into my mouth (I caught at least 50% of them). And the food! So good. John had NY steak and chicken, and I had filet mignon and chicken, and that it was so tender and flavorful. And did I mention fresh?

So I basically conquered the world that night.

Fear of heights? Check.

Ignorance of hibachi? Check.

Fun time had? Check.

Nov '10


I had kind of an epiphany coming home tonight from teaching Zumba. It was our last class in a two-month session, and it was a blast. It is always such a treat to meet new students at the start of a session and see their Zumba love grow and grow, along with their physical abilities and emotional well-being. Zumba Fitness is a wonderful thing.

But I digress.

As I was driving home I thought, “I am so glad I’m not perfect.”

A simple thought, maybe even too obvious? For some reason tonight it just clicked that it’s a GOOD thing to not be perfect. Or anywhere near it. I am like everyone around me–striving for betterment, gradually, but not perfectly. And this is a good thing.

Recognizing my imperfection reminds me of what I really am, of who I really am, and of my potential to be better, and all this brings into sharper focus my more positive traits. As John often reminds me, if we were perfect there would be nothing to learn in this life.

Being imperfect is a good thing.

Nov '10

Counting My Blessings

Lately I have been grouchy. “Grouchy” is not a word I have often used to describe myself, but it is now. I attribute it to a consistent, annoying lack of sleep and trying to lose weight. Both those things together leave me emotionally drained, physically strained, impatient, discouraged, and certainly not my best.

I feel bad for John because he gets the brunt of my emotions every day. Poor guy. But he gave me some good advice: Count my blessings. (And “go to bed earlier.” Still working on that one.)

Last night I was hitting a wall of negative thoughts and feelings, had a headache and was tired, and was not at my best. I determined that instead of grouching about everything that seemed bad, I was going to count up the things that were good.

The first thing to make my list was John. He came upstairs as we were scrambling to get out the door for a family dinner and, while I was busy doing something else, asked what he could do to get Wesley ready to go. Blessing #1: John and his every-wonderfulness.

I can’t remember now everything that made the list that night, or what order they came in, but I know John made the list twice. I was at times grateful for a healthy body, good food, kids I love, and a bunch of small, almost trivial things. Taking a moment to recognize the good things I have made me less grouchy and more content with things as they are.

On a related note, lately I’ve been realizing what a treasure my kids are to me. It’s hit me more now that I have two of them. I always knew I loved Wesley, when we had just him, but multiplying one to two makes my awareness greater. They are so precious. I don’t have a lot of jewelry you could call costly; I think my kids are my gems.