Professor Marble plays Kaleido Blast!

Hello now.  How may I address you? Friend? Colleague? Chap? Ah yes, that will do nicely, I say.

Hello, my dear chap.  I am Professor Kat I. Marble.  I do enjoy a good game now and again, even when it’s a game of solitaire: Bullseye Mahjong and TriPeaks, Solitaire Scrabble, crosswords and word searches, Spider and Diplomat and Royal Rendezvous.

I always like a game that works my mind and makes me think.  Perhaps that’s why my friend the fox brought me this game: Kaleido Blast!  It’s a solitaire dice game, like Phase 10, D-Day Dice, and Escape: The Curse of the Temple. It’s not LIKE them, per se, but it is fairly similar.  I’ve included a few shots of me, enjoying the game, below.  Watch the slideshow to see how it played out.

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But the thing is, chap, Kaleido Blast! has changed from the version that I played.  From what I’ve heard through the grapevine, there have been a number of changes made to the game. Here’s a breakdown of the alterations:

  • The enemy shapes are different, and the pieces are now plastic.
  • The shields are now asteroids to enhance the space experience.
  • The pawn has changed shapes, and is now plastic as well.
  • Life chips have been added to replace extra pawns.
  • The board- upgraded! Now better quality than it was.
  • The rules have been tweaked.
  • The box has been modified.
  • The storefront has been updated.
  • Website to Bookworm Games, coming soon.
  • The price has risen, but the game is better quality too!

Kaleido Blast! 2.0 will be available very soon. Keep in touch and stay tuned, my friend.

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Crazy Like a Fox

A warm ray of sunlight shone brightly into the open-air window, almost like the sun was smiling upon a magical spot in a teenager’s room. The room was a young girl’s fantasy, with pink sheets and curtains, and small angel trinkets on display. On the shelves was a small assortment of books, and around the room were display dolls of all shapes and sizes. A woolly gray teddy, with round spectacles balanced upon his nose, sat on a corner table studying a chessboard. A small pocket watch was sewed to his vest, and he looked quite intelligent.

The cheery, warm sunshine peeked in among the row of potted plants on the windowsill. It spied a small beanbag fox, lying lazily among the plants. It almost seemed as if the small fox had been lost among the plants, and forgotten since childhood. He sat there staring intently at the blue jays and sparrows flittering around the yard with a dreamy, yearning sparkle in his marble eyes.

“I want to go outside!” Foxxie called out. “I’m gonna run away, and have an adventure!”

Professor Marble looked up from the chessboard, and gazed skeptically at Foxxie. Foxxie watched the teddy bear closely, to see how he would react. The small bear just kept gazing at his worn-out beanbag friend.

“Well, aren’t you going to say something?” Foxxie questioned. “I’m telling you that I’m running away!”

Professor Marble cocked his head. “Will you enjoy yourself?”

“Dah!” Foxxie shot back, nodding his head happily. He was proud to use his wonderful Russian word. He used the word with the Professor so that he would sound more intelligent, just like his friend. Foxxie thought the word sounded smarter, anyway. It was his way of saying “Yes!”

Professor Marble gazed at Foxxie before speaking to correct his friend. “The word is da, Fox. It’s said with an aw, as in paw.”

“Oh…” Foxxie mused. “Well, ‘dah’ is my own word. I made it up.” It wasn’t smarter, after all, but at least he was unique.

“Well then, bon voyage. Have fun.” Professor Marble took one last glance at Foxxie, and then went back to his game.

“Oh.” Foxxie let out an exasperated sigh. He was disappointed that Professor Marble didn’t try to stop him. “Well, goodbye!”

Foxxie hopped out the window, into the thick carpet grass. A cool breeze blew, wiggling his whiskers. “Dah, that feels so good. It feels good to be outside! Free and wild! Free to be me!”

Foxxie looked around at his new surroundings. There were lots of beautiful flowers scattered around the yard, but Foxxie especially liked the exotic red flower growing in the flowerbed. He felt that he just had to get that beautiful hibiscus flower for his favorite person, Jackie Jackson, the young girl who had grown into a lovely young woman. Foxxie could imagine the lush red flower in Jackie’s thick golden hair. Foxxie suddenly felt forgotten and lost to his only love.

“I have to get her that flower.” Foxxie said to himself. “My future with Jackie depends on it!” He ran over to the flower and tried to break off the stem, but it was too tough. He tugged at it again, when he noticed a large bumblebee buzzing around the flower.

“Stay away from the flower, you bee!” Foxxie yelled. He glared at it, ready to attack if it came too near the flower. “You can’t have the flower! It’s mine. I’m gonna give it to Jackie, and you can’t have it! Go find your own!” The bee buzzed around a few seconds longer, then flew off to another flower. “Dah! I scared it away!” Foxxie said proudly. Then he looked back at the flower. “Now, how am I gonna get it? Hmm… I know! I’ll go ask the Professor!” He climbed up an old lattice next to the window and stumbled back onto the windowsill. “Professor Marble, how can I get a flower out there? I can’t get it off the stem.”

Professor Marble gazed patiently at the worn little fox, and gently shook his head. “My friend, you’ve got to think wild when you’re an adventurer. Would Christopher Columbus have discovered America if he hadn’t dared to imagine that the world was round? Of course not. As an adventurer, he dreamed something different and made it happen. How do you suppose Thomas Edison, a great adventurer into science, created the light bulb, or Alexander Graham Bell the telephone? They imagined. You, too, must use your imagination. Imagine some very sharp teeth in that soft little mouth of yours, and that flower will be yours in one bite. Imagination can get you anything.”

“Oh, dah!” Foxxie replied, a little embarrassed that he didn’t think as wildly as that. Then he cheered up. “I just thought! I need to add a note to go with the flower!” Foxxie dashed to Jackie’s desktop and rummaged around in her letterbox until he found a small piece of paper. On it was scribbled the words: “To the beautiful Jackie Jackson; the angel of my life. From your secret admirer.”

“Dah, this is perfect! It doesn’t even have a name.” Foxxie looked around, but couldn’t find a pencil small enough for him to use. He walked over to Professor Marble and held up the paper for him to see. “How can I write my name on this?”

Professor Marble glanced down at the small note and chuckled. “Fox, I believe a secret admirer’s name is to remain a secret, isn’t it?”

“But how would she know it’s from me if I don’t put my name?” Foxxie shot back.

Professor Marble let out a small sigh. “Well, if you want your name on the note, why don’t you imagine? Before people had pencils, they used feather tips dipped in ink. They used their imaginations. Why don’t you use yours?”

“Dah! That’s a good idea!” Foxxie shot out the window and landed on the soft grass. He frantically looked around, but to his dismay he didn’t see any feathers. But he did notice that the bumblebee was back.

“Hey, bee? What are you doing back?” Foxxie shouted. That’s when he saw the point at the end of the bee. “Hey! I got an idea! Hey bee! Come here!” The bee seemed to ignore Foxxie. It seemed preoccupied with the flower. “Hey Mr. Bee! Don’t ignore me! I need your help!” He ran up to the bee and watched as it landed on the flower and turned to look at him. “Please bee, I need to use your stinger! I need to write my name on this note, and I was wondering if you could help me.”

The bee looked at Foxxie for several minutes. Then it spoke up in a small voice. “I’d like to help you, little fox. But how will you be able to use my stinger?”

Foxxie looked thoughtfully at it, then said, “We’ll use our imagination. I’ll imagine you are a pen. You’ll go dip your stinger into one of those berries on that bush over there, and then I’ll write with the berry juice as the ink.”

The bee thought for a minute. “Alright, but be careful. My stinger is fragile, and can break.”

The bee buzzed off to the blackberry bush and stabbed a small berry cluster. When Foxxie pulled it off the stinger, he noticed a little bit of juice on the tip. “Dah! You got some!” Excitement was in the air.

Foxxie gently guided the bee over the notepaper and started to write his name on the note. He soon ran out of his ink though. He was about to need more berry juice when he heard some voices on the porch. “Oh no, Jackie’s coming. I need to hurry and get the flower!” He glanced down at the note. All he had written was the ‘F’ and half of the ‘o’. “There’s not enough time!” Foxxie loosened his grasp on the bee and watched as it flew up into the air. “Thank you, bee!” He yelled. Then he turned and dashed over to the flower. He closed his eyes, breathed a deep breath, and took a big bite off the stem. It snapped in two, and Foxxie grabbed the flower.

Just then, a girl in her late teens walked up. Foxxie watched as she brushed a bang out of her beautiful blue eyes. Her shoulder length blonde hair was tied back into a large pink ribbon. She held a badminton racket in her hand.

“Where did that birdie go this time?” The girl looked around, and noticed Foxxie. “Foxxie, what are you doing out here?”

“Jackie!” Someone called out from the other side of the yard. “Come on! We’re waiting!”

“Hold on a second. I can’t find the birdie!” Jackie called back. She picked up Foxxie and glanced at her open window. She gently picked up the flower and read the small note with it. She noticed the letters “Fo” scratched out at the bottom of the note. She looked back at Foxxie with a puzzled look on her face.

Later, after Jackie had taken Foxxie back to her room and placed the flower in a vase on her desk, Foxxie was on Jackie’s bed examining a scrapbook she had out. The bee had buzzed in to hear the ending results of Foxxie’s quest. Foxxie had just finished reporting to Professor Marble and Mr. Bee all that had happened.

“What happened to your great adventure you had planned?” Professor Marble asked. “I thought you wanted to become an explorer, like Lewis and Clark? Didn’t you want to go out and find something great?”

“Dah.” Foxxie quietly said. “It wasn’t all that I expected it to be. It wasn’t as great as I thought.”

“Well, perhaps you shouldn’t let your emotions control your actions.” Professor Marble scolded softly. “You can’t lose control of your feelings like that. You need to keep your mind on your mission.”

“Dah, you’re right.” Foxxie agreed. “I totally lost control. Maybe I’m not cut out to be an adventurer. I’m not the right kind of person to be an adventurer. I’m more of the romantic type. I’m more ‘go for the girl you love’ rather than ‘go for the adventure’. I’m in love! I want to be Jackie’s Prince Charming. I will be the next Don Juan!”

The bee buzzed around the room with delight, obviously picking up on the excitement of the moment. “Yes, yes! You can star in the movie Gone with the Wind! You can play Rhett Butler and your friend Jackie can star as Scarlett O’Hara! You two can fall madly in love!”

“Or I could write letters to her!” Foxxie cried happily. “We could write to each other, and she’ll never know it’s me! Then we could meet sometime, and she’ll discover that I was the one writing the letters all along! She’ll realize that I’m the one she loved all this time!”

“Oh, what fun that sounds.” The bee exclaimed, then settled down and sighed a happy sigh. “Wow. What a romance story that would make.”

Professor Marble smiled kindly at Foxxie. “So, my little Romeo, have you learned anything new today?”

“Dah.” Foxxie said. “I didn’t impress Jackie by getting that big beautiful flower. She couldn’t read my whole name. She must not have known it was from me.”

“Good. I’m glad to hear that you have learned a lesson today.” Professor Marble gave a small sigh of relief and nodded. “Now maybe you’ll think twice before going out and trying to impress Jackie. After all, she’s grown up and doesn’t have time to play with small toys like us anymore. We are only for display now.”

Foxxie shook his head quickly. “Oh, no! That’s not what I learned. I learned that one flower wasn’t enough, and that berries don’t give enough ink.” Foxxie exclaimed. “I’ll have to use my imagination to think even wilder next time. I’ll have to think of something better to write my name with. And, I’ll just have to get her lots of flowers!”

 

SNOW MELT HOLIDAY DONUTS

Recently Lacy and I got a new silicone donut pan, so we could learn how to make our own donuts.  We’ve been doing some experimenting with donut recipes, trying to learn the trick of baking a good batch of donuts.

Yesterday I was browsing the internet, wondering what kind of holiday treat we could make for the family this week. As I was browsing I discovered a “no yeast cinnamon roll” recipe.  Cinnamon rolls have always been a favorite around our house, but with my mother’s health issues, anything with so much sugar has been a complete and strict “NO!” in our family.  This time, however, the no yeast jumped out at me, and I decided to look further.

Anyway, I saw the recipe and wondered, what would a cinnamon roll donut taste like?  Would it be as much fun to eat if it didn’t have the rolled dough and the lovely delicious cinnamon and sugar glaze swirls? I brought the idea to Lacy and her curiosity was peaked too.

As we were preparing the kitchen for our cooking experiment, I realized that we didn’t have enough all-purpose flour to meet the requirements for the recipe.  We did, however, have a few odds and ins of other kinds of flours: coconut flour that we have on hand for experimentation sake and Bisquick which Lacy likes to make dumplings with.  We decided to use what we have and change the recipe, since we were already adding a few spices to make the recipe our own anyway.  The experiment turned out to be a success; the whole family enjoyed the scrumptious holiday donut.

Here’s what our final recipe looked like. It’s a complex recipe with a complex flavor that will make people guess what spices you used. If you don’t have donut pans then I’m sure you could use make the recipe with muffin tins instead.

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Makes 9 donuts

Expect about 1 hour to fix this delicious treat.

Ingredients:

Filling:

  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 2/3 cup sweetener (or more white sugar)
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground anise
  • 4 tablespoons coconut oil

Dough

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 2/3 cup Bisquick
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup milk

Glaze:

  • 1/4 cup whole milk or whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar

Step 1: Prepare the kitchen. Gather all the needed ingredients. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and spray each donut cup with a non-stick cooking spray.

Step 2: Make the filling. Mix the sugar and sweetener, coconut oil, cinnamon, and anise in a medium bowl.  Sprinkle a little of the filling into the bottom of each donut cup.

Step 3: Make the dough. Sift the all purpose flour, coconut flour, and Bisquick into a large bowl. Add the coconut sugar, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg to the sifted flours and stir. Then mix the coconut oil into the dry ingredients. It will now be a crumbled mixture. Form a small well into the mixture and pour the milk into the well. Stir until a soft dough forms.

Step 4: Alternate layers of dough and filling into the donut pan.  Fill each donut cup half-full with dough. Then spread a layer of filling on top of the dough layer in each cup. (Leave a small amount of filling to sprinkle on the top of each donut.) Fill the donut cups the rest of the way with dough. Sprinkle the remaining filling mix on the top of the dough in each donut cup.

Step 5: Bake the donuts. Cook the donuts at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.  Let the donuts cool for 10 minutes, then remove them from the pan.

Step 6: Make glaze. Mix confectioner’s sugar and milk or cream together in a small bowl until the glaze is creamy and the lumps are gone.

Step 7: Serve warm. Place a donut onto a plate and drizzle the white glaze over the donut. If the glaze is thin and runny, sprinkle or sift some confectioner’s sugar on top. Serve immediately.

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A Glimpse of Heaven

We all want to see heaven, want a taste of home, get a glimpse of it before we get there, otherwise how will it be home?

Why does a person have to die before going to heaven? Some claim to have gone to heaven while dying or in a dramatic event, and are alive to talk about it. (They may be the lucky ones.) Their stories are inspiring, but not everyone can feel that.

Our desire to know heaven is like Moses’ desire to know the Promised Land. He didn’t want to simply see it, he wanted to go there, experience it for himself, but sadly was not able to. In the same way, we cannot experience heaven in this life, because our mortal, imperfect bodies are unable to, but what we can do in the meantime is well worth our time. We should focus our minds on the beauty of the church (God’s people), making it the focal point of heaven. By doing that, we will begin to see the New Jerusalem, which is a shadow of the good things to come, like Hebrews 10:1 says the Jewish law was for Christ: New Jerusalem is where Christ reigns, His kingdom.

New Jerusalem is described in Revelation 21-22. It is pictured as a place where, because Jesus is the eternal ruler, everyone is without pain, tears, and troubles, gates are made of precious jewels, and colors shine brightly from a pure light not parented by the sun: God and Jesus Christ are the light, there is complete fullness of life, and no one thirsts or hungers. Churches ought to be a reflection of that. If a member feels disconcerted at the thought of attending church, or the people sitting together in the church don’t like each other, that is not a place where Jesus rules, and that place is not New Jerusalem, and so the picture not accurate. However, if the church leaders obey Jesus as their ruler and God, and the members of the church strive to remove tears, feed the hungry, provide healing, and give their hearts to Jesus who can provide fullness of life, then a glimpse of heaven will be seen here on earth.

Even in the First Century it was a lot to ask for, to gain “perfect bride” status. In Revelation 2-4, letters were sent to the churches warning them not to sin and behave evilly. And even within the reading in Rev. 21, in verses 6-8, there are certain standards that must be kept, to receive the heritage of New Jerusalem:

And he {God} said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” (ESV)

Despite how grim it sounds, what will happen to the ones who do evil, we should be hopeful and not let it deter our thoughts. My father said to me today regarding the subject of judgement, “Punishment is not bad, unless you are the one that is bad. Judgement is what is just and fair. God will judge everyone the way they should be judged, and he won’t get it wrong.” So the message is not hellfire and brimstone. The message is do good and gain the reward.

In this life, work to make heaven more beautiful. Work hard. Maybe we cannot see heaven right now, not only because God has not revealed it to us, but also because we are workers who must work day and night to build it. Heaven is not built yet.

We are the builders: heaven is the city we built together. We are the planters: heaven is the harvest we have sown. We are the vineyard servants: heaven is the vineyard, and it is beautiful because of how we cared for it. God is counting on us to make heaven our home, by helping our favorite people arrive there with us, and if we wonder about the location, the destination – where will heaven be? Will there be rain? Will there be waterfalls? Dogs? – that part of it we can leave to the Creator of the coral reefs and everything in it, the newborn babies, the Dalmatian puppies, the volcanoes, the nebulae, the giraffes, the wild and the wonderful.

 

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God’s Not Dead: A Movement or a Movie

I was skeptical. “Join the movement”, everyone was saying.  It was a nice thought, but its hard to find a dynamic Christian movie.  I’ve seen many inspirational titles, including The Christmas Candle, Amazing Love, and A Horse for Summer. I love inspirational movies, but many are lacking… something more, to give it that extra “umph”, the appeal that it needs to really hit home.

There have been a few movies that I think have that extra something -the dynamic appeal- that it needs, including Faith Like Potatoes, The Ultimate Gift, Unconditional, War Room, and Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story.

So when my family decided to watch God’s Not Dead, I was skeptical.  Would it have the extra quality to really start a movement, as it claimed?  From first glance it had a few of my favorite actors playing in it: Kevin Sorbo and Dean Cain, as well as a guest appearance and performance by News Boys; so my curiosity was sparked.

The story was great, the acting was superb.  I was impressed.  I was sold when I heard that they were making a sequel, God’s Not Dead 2, especially when I heard that Melissa Joan Hart would be playing a part in it.

I loved Sabrina the Teenage Witch when I was a kid. Since then, of course, I’ve realized that it was Melissa along with Beth Broderick and Caroline Rhea that I actually enjoyed more than the story itself.

Anyway, I was eager to see Melissa again, and was very happy to see the return of some of my favorite characters played by Paul Kwo, Benjamin Oyango and Trisha LaFache.

I personally enjoyed the second movie more than the first.  The courtroom theme appealed to me more than the college campus did, and the teacher being sued for “proselytizing in the classroom” seemed more believable to me than the teacher who resented God, although they’re both based on true stories.

I can’t wait until God’s Not Dead 3 is released, although I do realize it’ll be a long wait. IMDB doesn’t even show it in the pre-production stage yet.  But that’s ok.  I’ll eagerly wait to see how our favorite Reverend Dave gets out of the trouble that he’s in… I hope to see Paul Kwo and Benjamin Oyango playing alongside David A. R. White.  I’m also curious to see who else they choose. Could it be someone who I’d like to see again?  Alexa Vega perhaps?  Maybe David Gallagher or Katie McGrath or Aaron Yoo?  Abigail Breslin, or maybe even Jonathan Rhys-Davies?

…Probably not.  But maybe.  I’ll be looking forward to learning more about God’s Not Dead 3. I don’t know if it’s started a movement or not, but I’m hooked.

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Christianity is not a Democracy T-Shirt

As Psalms 24 asks, who is the King of glory? The answer is Jesus our Lord! As Christians, we are not free to live the way we decide is best; instead, we are to submit to God’s reign and serve Him, the Loving One who cleansed us and gave us the power to enter God’s holy place, His temple and His mountain.

Prayer Power!

I have an exciting new story to tell this week about prayer and its power. If you ever doubted that praying matters, I can encourage you.

Last month, I decided I wasn’t doing enough to help children living in poverty. Providentially, an ad flashed onto the computer screen, displaying compassion.com, a website that gives donors the chance to sponsor a child in need – now I see this ad a lot, going to Christian sites and such, but this time, seeing it was an answer to my prayer of charity.

So I decided, with Kat’s support, we could work as a team, and we began praying for one child a day. By searching the children on compassion.com (they let you pick from a variety of details), we take the picture and bio of a child, and we print out the info to tape it into our prayer journals. Every night, we pray for God to provide the child a sponsor or help in other ways, like with education, health, and a good life.

21 days later, here’s our testimony to the power of prayer: Kat decided to search for these children again and could not find but 1 child! Some of them, like a 4 year old girl from Ghana, had been waiting over 300 days for a sponsor, so unless there’s another reason they might be gone, I imagine life is better in the lives of these 20 children. Is that not an amazing thought? For those of us tight on money, until God provides us with more fortune in our pocket, there is a way we can help!

Knights, the Crusades, and… Syria? Talk about Obsessed

It’s weird how when you’re obsessed in something, everything feeds your obsession, rather than distracts you from it.

While trying to figure out this week’s blog post, I passed time by reading news on Syria. Not much more about how the Aleppo residents are doing. So I moseyed to my home library in search for a book, any book, that would provide inspiration, and among an assortment of fiction, religious writings, technical books, and self-help, one called out to me: “Knights of the Crusades”, A Horizon Caravel Book, authored by Jay Williams, 1962.

This’ll give me material for my History category, I thought, but where do I start reading?

Lo and behold, as I flipped through it, the word “Syria” jumped off the page into my brain. No way! I checked the index to find out just how much Syria was a part of the Crusades, and as it turns out, oh yes, it does have something to do with that time in history, simply for being a neighboring country and main route to the main contention, Jerusalem.

In the 11th century, Muslims dominated Jerusalem. As the story goes, the Catholic pope decided it was time to gain the support of the masses and take back the Holy City in a religious escapade, with dreams that it would bring the entire world closer to God. There followed battle after battle, cities conquered, and crusaders named king over middle eastern lands, and can you imagine, in some unsettling way, it seems like the reverse of what is happening today. The Muslims have begun to thrive in regions of Europe, taking advantage, sometimes, of lenient governments. Not all Muslims are bad, true, and I wonder if the same was said about Crusaders a millennium ago.

Whether then or now, religion remains a strong influence on mankind. Early 1000s, Crusaders wiped out any people who got in the way of their religious victory. Modern day, jihadists do much the same, infiltrating their agenda within the hearts and minds of cultures, worldwide, slowly reaching higher heights. Yet people are harmed, voices are silenced, lives ended. How has time changed us, or does history fall victim to a cycle of sad fates?

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