“And when it rains on your parade, look up rather than down. Without the rain, there would be no rainbow.” – G.K. Chesterton

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Pumpkin Crunch

This morning at church many people were asking for my Pumpkin Crunch recipe. I will post it so that people can have access to it online. I actually got it from a BBQ restaurant in Franklin called Fat Buddies. Here it is:

Crust:

2 boxes yellow cake mix (reserve 2 cups for topping)
2 eggs
1 cup “good” butter substitute (or butter)

Spray your 11×22 (I used 11×16) pan with cooking spray. Mix the above ingredients together and spread on the bottom of the pan.

Filling:

56 oz. Pumpkin Canned
6 eggs
12 oz. Evaporated milk
2 cups white sugar
2 tbsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. ginger

Mix above ingredients with a whisk. Pour on top of the crust.

Topping:

Reserved 2 cups cake mix
2 cups pecan pieces (optional)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup “good butter” substitute or butter
Mix together – sprinkle on top of pumpkin filling

Bake at 350 degrees for 1.5  hours – Be careful not to burn it.

Tips & Facts About Cats

A new television show on Animal Planet called “My Cat From Hell” has caught my attention recently. The show is basically about a cat whisperer called Jackson Galaxy. He aims to help cats work through behavioral issues by giving their owners helpful tips and homework.

Here are some interesting tips and facts about cats that I never knew:

1) Petting a cat too much in one sitting can create over stimulation. This can cause the cat to become frustrated resulting in scratches and bites. You cannot rough house with cats like you can with dogs. Let the cat come to you.

2) Cats do not play like dogs. A cat doesn’t want to grab a frisbee, bring it back to you and play with it all day long. What does a cat want? It wants to kill things. It’s part of its nature. The cat needs an interactive toy where it can pretend to hunt, catch, kill and eat the toy. Then reward the cat by giving it a high protein treat so it gets the satisfaction of really eating its prey.

3) When a cat’s ears are straight up, it is in a relaxed state. When ears and whiskers are back, it means the cat feels threatened and ready to be attacked. When whiskers are forward, it means the cat is exploring something.

4) When a cat kneads, it means it is comfortable.

5) When a cat is stressed out or upset, try gazing in the cat’s eyes and open and close your eyes slowly. This shows your cat that you’re not a threat and relieves tension.

6) Cats that hide in their litter boxes have territorial anxiety. They are trying to regain their security by having their scent around them at all times. They’re trying to reassure themselves that everything is going to be okay if they surround themselves with their scent.

7) If your cat hides in its litter box then a) There may be something wrong physically – take your cat to the vet. If all is clear there then b) The cat is territorially anxious and you need to figure out why. There are many things that could make your cat feel threatened. This includes: new cat, new baby, new boyfriend/girlfriend, etc. Make sure you remove the lid to the litter box so that your cat won’t be prone to hiding.

8) If you have a cat that corners itself and is scared all the time, try to coax it out with food, toys, etc. that will associate you with good things.

9) Play with your cat everyday.

10) To introduce a new baby to a cat, start placing baby powder, Vaseline, and diapers around the house before the baby arrives so your cat can get used to the smells.

11) The nose pad of a cat is ridged in a pattern that is unique – just like the fingerprint of a human.

12) Cats wag their tails when they are in a stage of conflict. The cat wants to do two things at once, but each impulse blocks the other.  For example: If your cat is in the doorway wanting to go outside and you open the door to find it raining, the cat’s tail will wag because of internal conflict. The cat wants to go outside, but doesn’t want to go into the rain.  Once the cat makes a decision and either returns to the house or leaves into the rain, the tail will immediately stop wagging.

13) Don’t pick a kitten or a cat up by the scruff of its neck; only mother cats can do this safely, and only with her kittens.

14) The domestic cat is the only cat species able to hold its tail vertically while walking. All wild cats hold their tails horizontally or tucked between their legs while walking.

15) Sir Isaac Newton, discoverer of the principles of gravity, also invented the cat door.

16) A cat will almost never “meow” at another cat. This sound is reserved for humans.

17) A falling cat will always right itself in a precise order. First the head will rotate, then the spine will twist and the rear legs will align. Then the cat will arch its back to lessen the impact of the landing.

18) Cats are one of the few animals that know when they are looking in your eyes.

19) Give your cat a quality scratching post to deter him or her from scratching your furniture. Still scratching?  Try putting lemon scent or orange scent on the area. Cats hate these smells.

20) The Giraffe, Camel and Cat are the only animals that walk by moving both their left feet, then both their right feet, when walking. This method of walking ensures speed, agility and silence.

21) Cats can see in color but they are partially color blind. They have the equivalency of human red/green color blindness. (Reds appear green and greens appear red; or shades thereof).

22) Cats need 1/6th the amount of light that humans do to see. Their night vision is amazing!

23) Cats can see up to 120 feet away. Their peripheral vision is about 285 degrees.

24) At birth, kittens can’t see or hear. Cats open their eyes after five days and begin to develop their eyesight and hearing at approximately 2 weeks. They begin to walk after 20 days.

25) Kittens begin dreaming at just over one week old.

What Is Pottermore?

Four years have flown by since the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It seems like only yesterday, but I guess it is time we’ve heard from Rowling – what’s she up to?

A new website called Pottermore depicts a logo with Rowling’s signature and an owl on each side of the webpage. Clicking either owl will lead you to Rowling’s youtube channel. She will be making an announcement in 3 days 9 hours 38 minutes and 41 seconds!

I’m assuming this announcement has to do with the website, Pottermore… The name suggests there will be more “Potter.” But what could it be?

Immediately, the first thing that came to mind was a virtual encyclopedia. In more than one interview J.K. Rowling has hinted at the idea of creating an encyclopedia of everything “Harry Potter.” I honestly thought it would be a published hard copy encyclopedia, though it makes sense for it to be online. It seems like almost everyone has access to the internet these days… but I’m sure there are fans who don’t. Another benefit for having the encyclopedia online is that Rowling can post links to all of her charities so that fans can easily donate. With all the Harry Potter fans out there it would be dumb not to do that.

Some other speculations:

An 8th Harry Potter book? Maybe, but I seriously doubt it. We’ve already heard Harry’s story. It would have to be from another character’s point of view to be interesting and then it wouldn’t be called “Harry Potter”, would it? Also, none of the actors from the movies know what the announcement will be (so they claim) and I’m sure they’re ready to move on after 10 years of Harry Potter.

Digital Webcomic – That would be pretty cool.

Online Game – That would be really cool. Actually, a lot of fans think Pottermore will be an MMORPG – Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game.

Social Networking Site – The new site Pottermore could in fact be a social networking site in itself – people from all over the world sharing their thoughts and theories about Harry Potter on an official Harry Potter site. And perhaps Rowling could publish new stories on the site?

Out of all these speculations, I stand firm on the idea that this site will be a virtual encyclopedia. And if I’m wrong, that’s okay. It’s nice to be surprised every now and again!

What do you think Rowling’s announcement will be?

 

Favorite Fan Art

I want to give a shout out to The Geek Can Paint. This artwork is fantastic and truly magical.

Rainbows and Myths

~ Beliefs and myths about rainbows among different cultures and/or religions. ~

Judeo-Christian – God placed the rainbow in the sky as a reminder of the covenant He made to humanity –  to never again destroy the earth via flood.

Mayans – Similar to Judeo-Christian, but rather than the destruction of the world by rainwater, they believed their world was destroyed by fire rain. Those who escaped the destruction saw the rainbow in the sky as a symbol that their gods were not angry anymore.

Some Africans believed that the rainbow is actually a full circle, only half of which can be seen at any given time. Furthermore, they believed that circle separates the earth from heaven. (Scientifically, the rainbow is actually a full circle. We can only see half of it because the other half is below the horizon. That’s why you can see a full circle rainbow sometimes in sprinklers, fountains, and other mediums).

Some Buddhists related the seven colors of the rainbow to the seven regions of the earth. Viewing the rainbow is the highest state achievable before attaining Nirvana where individual desire and consciousness are extinguished.

In Islam, the rainbow is said to have only four colors – blue, green, red, and yellow – all of which are related to the four elements of earth, water, wind, and fire.

Beliefs about rainbows among Native American tribes were as varied and different as the people within. Some believed the rainbow was the drinking fountain for all the souls of heaven. Others called it the bridge between the human world and the world of the gods, although not necessarily heaven as we typically know it. Still other tribes believed it was merely the pathway the gods used to move between the realms. In other Native American cultures, the rainbow is believed to be the symbol of their healing goddess.

The Cherokee believed the rainbow represented the hem of the sun god’s coat.

The Hindu, on the other hand, believed that it represents the archer’s bow of their god of war. They further believed that the god used the bow to shoot arrows of lightning to kill a demon that threatened their land and people. Many Scandinavian cultures held similar beliefs.

According to Germanic myths, the rainbow was the bowl that God used during creation to color the world.

The Incas believed it was a gift from their sun god.

The ancient Arabians thought it was a tapestry woven by the south wind.

Some cultures took it as a symbol of something mysterious and “lucky.” Being part Irish, I was raised on tales of leprechauns and the pot of gold that could be found at the end of the rainbow.

Poland holds similar folklore. It seems, however, that they believed the gold left at the end of the rainbow was a gift by the angels.

In many cultures, however, the rainbow was nothing more than a symbol of the gods and goddesses. To Aborigines, for example, it represented the Rainbow Serpent Mother who they believed to be the goddess of creation. A similar belief existed in parts of Africa. They believed that it represents the Rainbow Goddess.

In Greece, the rainbow was the symbol of the goddess Iris who was also the goddess of healing. Iris always dressed in colors and delivered news.

In Roman mythology, the rainbow was believed to be the pathway used by the messenger god, Mercury. There was a similar belief in Polynesia, where the rainbow was believed to be the route taken by all of the gods.

Norse – One of the most celebrated rainbow bridges in Western mythology is Bifrost, which connects Earth with Asgard, home of the Norse gods. Bifrost can only be used by gods and those who are killed in battle. It is eventually shattered under the weight of war – the Ragnarök. The notion that the rainbow bridge to heaven is attainable by only the good or virtuous, such as warriors and royalty, is a theme repeated often in world myth.

Peruvians held the rainbow in such high esteem that they didn’t utter a sound during its duration.

In Bulgarian legends, it is said that if you walk beneath a rainbow, you will change genders: if a man, you’ll begin to think like a woman, and if a woman, you’ll begin to think like a man.

A few cultures even managed to turn the rainbow into something negative. For example, in Honduras and Nicaragua, the people believed it was a symbol of the devil and they would hide inside their homes until it passed. They believed that looking at it put a curse upon them.

At a certain period in Japan’s past, the rainbow was viewed as a bad luck omen because it reminded them of snakes, which were generally considered evil.

According to Slavic mythology, a mortal once touched a rainbow and was turned into a demonic-creature by the god of lightning and thunder.

In Amazonian cultures, rainbows have long been associated with malign spirits that cause harm, such as miscarriages and (especially) skin problems.

Many different cultures and groups believed that the multi-colored bridge spanned the distance between heaven and earth. Some simply called it the gateway or bridge to heaven, believing that it only shows up in the sky on those eventful days when St. Peter opens the pearly gates to usher in new souls. The rainbow colors were believed to represent the magnificence of heaven itself.

Some cultures think it is a link of six or seven bridges (depending on each culture’s belief about the number of colors in the bow) that souls must successfully traverse in order to reach heaven.

No matter what culture, group, or religion, the rainbow is an enchanting phenomenon – perhaps one we aren’t supposed to dissect with reason and logic. Sometimes we just need to enjoy the beauty of nature!

Lazy Lasagna

Crock Pot Lasagna

It’s Italian, y’all! This is one of my favorite recipes of all time. Why? 1) It’s easy to make and you can forget about it for a good amount of time while it’s in the slow cooker. 2) It contains cottage cheese which happens to be my favorite food. :)

Ingredients

Makes 6 Servings

1 lb. ground beef, browned
32 oz. jar spaghetti sauce
8 oz. bag curly-edged noodles, cooked, or lasagna noodles cut up, cooked
16 oz. carton cottage cheese (I prefer 4%)
8 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
Parmesan cheese to taste

1. Combine beef and spaghetti sauce.
2. Combine noodles, cottage cheese, and mozzarella cheese.
3. Layer one-third of the beef mixture, followed by half the noodle mixture in slow cooker. Repeat layers, ending with beef mixture. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
4. Cover. Cook on low 3-4 hours.
5. Serve with salad and French bread.

Where seldom is heard a discouraging word, and the skies are not cloudy all day.

Last weekend, my dad left home to take a trip out west. He called me today to tell me he was in Yellowstone National Park. He’s been taking lots of pictures – I’m so excited to see them! Then I remembered…

I have photos saved on my computer from when I went out west seven years ago. They were taken with a 35 mm camera and there are orange date stamps on them, but I will share them anyway! They aren’t great, but they aren’t bad either considering I was 14 when I took them. :)

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