Thursday, January 31, 2013

Dashing Dishes - Two Years and Counting

Interestingly my old Dashing Dishes reviews seem to get the most hits of anything I blog about, so I thought it was time for an update, as it's been two years this month since we starting doing Dashing Dishes. My last post about it was in August 2011, so it's been a while!

For a brief re-cap, Dashing Dishes is a sort of cooking club where you go once a month a make a bunch of meals to freeze. I really couldn't live without it! Trevor and I have it down to a science - we can go there, make our meals, and be home again with them in the freezer in about 45 minutes. It helps that we live about 90 seconds away from the community centre where they meet, but still...

My absolute all time favourite dish is the Kauai Mango Chicken Wraps. The wraps are stuffed with a chicken, coconut, and raisin mixture in a mango curry sauce. I LOVE THEM! My next favourite is Oyster Beef with rice noodles. I've become a sucker for pretty much anything with curry or oyster sauce. We also love Sweet Chili Chicken, and Pork Spareribs, which are done in a BBQ sauce in the crockpot. Another favourite are the Beef Dippers - the beef stews in the crockpot all day,  then you serve it on buns with au jus for dipping. Yum!

I print out each month's order and post it on the fridge, and then I assign each dish a number of stars. Most of them get three or four, which means they're good, but I don't rave about them like I do the dishes in the previous paragraph. If a dish gets one or two, we won't order it again, and there was actually one month when two dishes got Xs instead of any stars. That was unusual, because generally at most there's only one we don't like. But it turns out in this particular month we had ordered something we had given a bad score before - Rustic Tarragon & Tomato Roasted Pork Chops - and I'd forgotten about that. The other X was Greek Pasta which wasn't at all nice, either.

Sometimes I'll slightly alter the directions, or add my own twist. We really enjoy the Chicken Parmigiana, but I find it not saucy enough, so I add a can of diced tomatoes. The Lemon and Garlic Greek Chicken stir fry was fine, but not very exciting, so I served it on pitas, which was quite good. Recently I had ordered two of the Marinated Flank Steak, but we found it kind of dry. So when I got to the second one, I diced it up and made a quasi-Stroganoff with peas and mushrooms and sherry, over bow tie pasta, and it was delicious. Trevor just took the last container of it from the freezer and for lunch today.

A surprise favourite was the Asian Peanut Noodles. I ordered it because it sounded interesting, and when we got to the assembly station and I saw that it included peanut butter, I was a bit taken aback. But was it ever tasty! That was about six months ago now, and I'm drooling a little just thinking about it. :)

A couple of less than impressive dishes were the Black Bean Quesadillas with Sweet Chili Sauce and the Tomato Pesto Fish Dinner. Black beans and sweet chili sauce was just a strange flavour combination that didn't work for us. And recalling my previous dislike of pesto, we left the pesto out of the fish dinner, but then it was dry and sort of bland, so that was really my own fault. :)

I still can't recommend Dashing Dishes highly enough - it saves so much time, and money we would have spent on eating out, and it still feels enough like home cooking to satisfy me, especially when I freestyle with what we ordered. Their setup is efficient and their staff are great. Check out their website and see if they have a location near you! (And no, I'm not being paid by them... :)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Les Misérables

I went to see Les Mis last night. I remember attempting to read the book when I was a very young teenager, and only being hopelessly confused by it, so I wasn't sure what to expect. I do love musicals quite a bit, but this wasn't like any I've seen before. I'm still digesting, and mind that I've only seen it once, but so far my main impression of it/feelings about it sound something like this:
(grumpy cat face)

Seriously, all the miserable-ness pretty much guarantees that will be the one and only time I ever see it. My poor sappy heart probably can't handle another viewing! It's even more tragic than Hamlet!

I checked out some blogs about it, to see what other people were saying, and I found this one I quite like: Les Miserables: The Most Lutheran Musical EVER

What really broke my heart (after Fantine and É!) was Javert. Before I went to the movie, I heard some bashing of Russell Crowe's singing abilities, and so I was expecting something along the lines of Pierce Brosnan in Mama Mia, but I was pleasantly surprised by his portrayal. (Although it probably helps that I don't have any other performance of Javert to compare Crowe's to!)

I think I'm probably the only person on the planet who had NO idea about Javert's fate, but to avoid spoilers just in case, I'll only say I nearly jumped out of my skin! But the saddest thing about the whole movie was that in the end, despite having grace demonstrated to him by Valjean, Javert was SO enslaved to the law, he couldn't even begin to comprehend grace, and he took the terrible action that he did. Just...SO SAD.

I also had the impression that the movie had a lot of emphasis on works-based eternal life, although now in hindsight I can't pinpoint exactly what gave me that impression. Feel free to comment! :)

Also, the 'comedic relief' wasn't really that funny...I just sort of felt sorry for the Thénardiers and their rather pathetic life. I was also acutely aware of the irony of that fact that they regularly (literally...) robbed their customers blind, and yet never felt the weight of the law, whereas Valjean stole a loaf of bread and suffered for it for the rest of his life! Where's the justice there, Javert?!

I'm used to musicals having dance numbers, so I was a bit disappointed that the only dancing in this one was a few seconds at the wedding near the end. What's up with that?!

And in closing...Anne Hathaway had better win an Oscar for her HEART-RENDING portrayal of Fantine. I was exhausted by the end of her solo - I can only imagine how she felt!

There has been a lot of emotion in this blog post. The Dowager Countess of Grantham would not approve. I'm going to make tea now...

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Lola rennt / Run Lola Run

In my German class last semester we watched ein Film called Lola rennt, which for some reason is translated in English as Run Lola Run. I have no idea where the extra verb came from...anyway, I re-watched it over Christmas break to keep some German rattling around in my head, and it's really quite interesting!

The story is about a young woman named Lola, who's trying to save her boyfriend from being killed by a drug lord for loosing a bag of money. There are three different storylines, which is what really threw me/intrigued me the first time. The story starts from the same point, advances to the same point, and then re-starts with a slightly different set of happenings. It's hard to explain in English, never mind trying to do it in German!

But I had to, for one of my German exercises. So here is a (hopefully) grammatically correct, very elementary version of a film review in what I hope will be my second language. :) It looks VERY short here, but it was agony to write, and took ages. Plus several revisions to get it as accurate as it is now.

Learning a second language as an adult is a LOT of work, just FYI. Please teach your children a second language when they're very young and have more flexible brains!

Disclaimer: Ich spreche nicht gut Deutsch!

Lola ist eine jung Frau mit kurze rote Haar. Sie trägt eine grüne Hose, ein graues Hemd, und schwarze Stiefel. Sie trägt viele Ringe. Sie hat einen Freund, Manni.

Manni hat viel Geld für einen Gangster, Ronnie, aber leider vergisst er das Geld im Zug. Manni muss vor Mittag für Ronnie Geld finden, sonst will Ronnie Manni umbringen. Manni ruft Lola an, weil sie helfen kann. Lola muss schnell zur Bank von ihrem Vater rennen. Ihr Vater arbeitet in der Bank, und spricht mit seiner Freundin, weil sie traurig ist.

Der Film hat drei Geschichten und manchmal kann Lola Manni nicht helfen. Schließlich gehen Lola und Manni zusammen weg.

Der Film hat gute Geschichten und ist sehr intelligent und toll. Ich mӧchte den Film wieder sehen. Mein Lieblingsteil ist, wenn Lola im Casino ist und viel Glück hat.

So stay in school, kids! Learn a second language, and steer well clear of drug lords with bags of money, or you'll end up stuck running around Berlin in alternate universes while the life of a loved one hangs in the balance!

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Creation Ministries Conference

Trevor and I went to this conference back at the end of October, but my report wasn't needed until the next church newsletter deadline, which wasn't until this week. So of course I didn't write anything about it until late last week...and I didn't write as much as I wanted to, because it was already over a page long, and the longer it is, the less likely people will be to give it much attention! I'm a pretty passionate young-earth creationist, but mostly in writing, not so much in person because I'm just not that chatty, so hopefully this doesn't scare anyone away. :)

Creation Ministries Conference Report

At the end of October, Trevor and I had the exciting opportunity to attend a Creation Ministries International (CMI) conference in Red Deer. Trevor has written a five-page report on it, so ask him if you are interested in more detail, but here are some of the things I found particularly interesting.

To quote Pastor Joe Boot, one of the speakers, 'men are trying to bring the word of God in line with their sinful desires' by promoting evolution to the exclusion of a Creator. He also said that 'evolution is a religious ideology' and that 'modern evolutionists have replaced God with another idea'. It is a 'cultural myth' that many people 'believe without question', even though scientific evidence has yet to explain how it actually worked. According to the evidence, evolution could not have worked the way it has been theorized to, yet the theory is adhered to with religious fervor.

1 Timothy 6 says: 3 If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, 4 he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. (ESV)

Most public school (and even Catholic school) teachers and university professors unquestioningly 'believe in evolution', despite scientific evidence to the contrary. As Christians who are instructed to be ready to give an answer for the hope that we have (1 Peter 3:15), it is vital that we be familiar with the lies which the world overwhelmingly presents as fact, especially when they are presented as fact to children who do not know to question them. We need to teach the young people for whom we're responsible to have a Creator God-centered worldview, not an evolutionist one. When young people’s faith is built on the solid foundation of knowing God as their creator, and when they know that the Biblical account of creation and the age of the earth are true, they will be less likely to fall away when they go to post-secondary school and come under attack by the secular education system, which will tell them that the Bible is a myth.

Did you know that there is a very important distinction between the terms ‘evolution’ and ‘natural selection’, and that they are often used incorrectly? Did you know that ‘natural selection’ reduces genetic information and does not add new variations or improvements? Did you know that there is no such thing as a ‘simple’ cell, and that they are all too incredibly complex to have evolved by random chance? Did you know that there is only one ‘race’ – the human race – and that all humans are actually varying shades of brown? Did you know that not only did Charles Darwin likely plagiarized most of his ideas from his grandfather, Erasmus Darwin, he believed that women and people with coloured skin were inferior to white men, and that his work strongly influenced the Nazi regime? has hundreds of great resources with an excellent search engine, and from what I can tell, their theology is very similar to Lutheran theology. You can sign up for a daily email newsletter that contains a different creation-centric topic every day – and if it's not a topic that interests you, you can just delete it. I usually find about half of them every week to touch on something I'm interested in, and I highly recommended them! I can't say enough good things about how valuable CMI is, both as a youth leader and as a university student who hears Darwin's name almost every day, and sometimes multiple times every day.

When confronted with the university’s (false) absolute certainty that we evolved from pond scum and then an ape-like creature, I am comforted by these verses from 1 Corinthians 1:
19 For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” 20…Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?... 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. (ESV)

CMI is tentatively hoping to have another conference in Alberta in 2014, and I strongly encourage everyone to attend!  In the meantime, check out the CMI resources online, and pray for those people whose faith is under attack by the false teaching of evolution, and pray for those who teach the truth about God the Creator, that the Holy Spirit would enable willing hearts to hear the truth. And if you struggle with the false doctrine of evolution yourself, please talk to one of the church staff!

- Submitted by Michelle Heumann

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Hiking Johnson Lake

Trevor had December 22nd off work, and I wanted to get out of town, and the weather was decent, so we took a day trip out to Banff. I don't feel like a road trip is a road trip without Timmys, so we stopped in Canmore, and when we got to Johnson Lake, I posed my now-empty cup in a snowdrift. :)

I chose Johnson Lake for our hike from the Parks Canada Banff National Park website. I wanted something fairly flat, not too long in case it was too cold, and nothing further away than the townsite, and since I'm irresistibly drawn to running water, this hike checked all my boxes. :)

The exit for it is the first Banff exit off the Trans Canada, and coming from Calgary you turn right off the exit, instead of left to the townsite. It's only about a 10 minute drive from the exit to the trailhead, and it's beautiful and well-maintained in winter. (The trailhead only has outhouses though!) The hiking trail is a 3km loop around the lake, and took us an hour and 15 minutes, going slowly, and with a stop to eat. We chose to go clockwise around the lake for no particular reason...

Stream feeding in to the lake
Grand old tree leaning over the trail. It was around here that I started talking about Narnia. :)

The water tower in the very center of the picture should be recognizable to people who drive that section of highway often. Just to give you an idea of how close the lake really is to the road!
It was at this point that I said something to Trevor about walking to Mordor... :)
And then we saw this sign, and I told Trevor to watch out for sneaking Ents. He *may* have rolled his eyes at me, after I explained what an Ent was...
Pattertwig here was the only critter we saw along the trail, except for a dog that nearnly gave me a heart attack!
Endor, anyone?
On the way back out we saw two elk just on the side of the highway.
It wasn't terribly cold, and we were well bundled. The views were amazing, and it was quite quiet. I really loved Johnson Lake, and I definitely plan to go back in the summer! We also wandered around downtown Banff, and went to the hot springs. We had a quick dinner in the mall food court, and then I got one of my favourite things for dessert...there's a BeaverTails place in Banff! I ADORE BeaverTails, so it was a pretty great finish to the day. And we managed to get back to Calgary well before it started snowing, unlike last time we went out there this time of year. All in all it was a very successful day trip, and I highly recommend Johnson Lake.

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