Ying’s Sesame Chicken Stir Fry

Being a writer, it’s a pretty amazing experience to have a personal relationship with your own fictional characters.  “Personal relationship”- It sounds pretty crazy.  Schizophrenia or something, right?

It’s not exactly the same thing; it’s not like our characters have audible voices or visual appearances (or at least not until we draw them.)  It’s all just in the head; like a daydream, a conversation you have with yourself, except one side of the conversation is a fictional character that you’ve written into a story.  Kinda like in the movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, except if Walter Mitty had been imagining fictional characters instead of his boss or the co-worker that he liked.

Sometimes, the conversation you have with a fictional character can be quite enlightening.

Lacy and I have been cooking stir fry for years now, but we could never figure out the way to master the meal.  Chicken, tofu, etc… no matter what we tried… it tasted… “home-made”.  Which isn’t a bad flavor, not bad at all.  But not authentically Asian take-out.

“The trick is sesame oil,” we would always hear.  But we’ve tried sesame oil, and it’s never worked well in our meals.  We just… always seemed to do something wrong.  The flavors don’t mix well with… whatever else we do… I’m not really sure why.

But finally, one day, we had the kitchen completely to ourselves as we chopped the veggies and prepared the chicken for the stir fry (which was as simple as opening the cans and draining the liquid from it).  We were having fun, joking around in the kitchen, and “hanging out” with a character from one of our stories, one of our Asian characters.  While I was on one end of the kitchen chopping garlic and onion and the veggies for the recipe, Lacy decided to take the advice of Ying – our character – and experiment with the chicken and sesame oil.  She voiced the conversation out loud so that I could be a part of it. (Hence, the “having fun, joking around… and hanging out with a character” mentioned above.)

Lacy: Ying wants me to do something different with the chicken.

Kat: (sidetracked with chopping carrots) Oh….kay?

Ying: Please, please let me try it.  I promise it will taste good.

Lacy: (hesitant) I don’t know… we don’t like sesame oil Ying.  I don’t want to ruin the food for everybody.

Ying: Oh, please.  It won’t be ruined.

Kat: (stops chopping to think) Well…

Ying: Please.  I know how to do it. I cook like this all the time!

Kat: How different will it be?

Lacy: (still hesitant) Well it won’t be that different.  She just wants to put the sesame oil and maybe some soy sauce and ginger on the chicken before she puts it in the wok to cook.

Kat: Hmm…

Ying: (begging) Please.  I promise, it’ll be good.  Everyone will like it.

Kat: Well… what’s the harm?  It’s not that much different.  We’ll just do it this once, so… just let her do it.  (joking) Besides, she’s Chinese, she’d know how to do it better than we would, right?  (to Ying) Go ahead.

Ying: Yay!  Thank you so much, I won’t let you down.

Lacy: Ok. (shrugs) Let’s do this, Ying.

We were hesitant about changing our recipe, because we’ve never been able to make the sesame oil taste very good.  But Ying was so confident in her knowledge on cooking Chinese food, we decided to take her word for it and experiment with the food.

What resulted was… by far the best stir fry meal we had ever made.

Lacy wrote down the recipe, in the diction of her character Ying.  Here it is below:

Ying'sChicken-Ingredients

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: about 20 minutes

Serves 8-10

Ingredients

Cabbage, about 4 cupscabbageHeadTip

Baby Carrots, about 4 cups

Celery, 4 large stalks

Broccoli, 1 (12 oz.) bag frozen

Onion, 1 sweet yellow

Garlic, 8-10 fresh cloves

Sesame Oil, 1 tablespoon

Ginger, 1 teaspoon ground + additional sprinkling

Canned Chicken, 2 (12.5 oz.) cans

Soy Sauce, 1 tablespoon + additional sprinkling

Coconut Oil, 3 tablespoon

Coconut Sugar, 1 teaspoon

Red Wine Vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon

Salt and Pepper to taste

Steps:

YingsChicken-Rice

If you want to serve rice with your stir fry, the first step is to put the rice onto cook. Having a rice cooker makes this very easy. I recommend jasmine rice as a wonderful compliment to this meal, but you can cook brown rice if it’s your favorite.

Step 1 – Open cans of chicken and drain liquid. Place chicken in a bowl and stir in sesame oil and soy sauce (1 Tbsp.), then evenly stir in the ginger (1 Tsp.).

YingsChicken-ChickenStep 2 – Chop the vegetables. Cut the cabbage into large shreds, baby carrots into chopped pieces, and celery into crunchy slices. The onion should be diced, and the garlic also. This is all very good for your muscles and diet, to stand in kitchen and cut, except the crying part when you cut the onions, although some even consider that cleansing. I don’t know if I do.YingsChicken-ChoppedVeggies

Step 3 – The best pan to use with this recipe is a wok, because it is a deep pan that you can cook meat and vegetables in with a searing technique. Pour coconut oil into wok until the bottom is covered. Swish it around, to cover it more evenly. Add cut onions and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes, until the aroma of the garlic fills the air and their colors change slightly (don’t burn it!). Drop chicken on top of the oil mixture, letting it stay on top, and cook on high heat until the garlic has browned, then stir, with a wooden spoon, the mixture together.YingsChicken-CookGarlicOnionsChicken

Step 4 –  Turn your oven onto “Broil” setting. Did you know that by putting the frozen broccoli under the broiler for about 5-10 minutes, you can remove the excess water and ice, and give the stir fry a better quality? That’s why you want the broiler on. Open the bag of broccoli and dump the florets into a cake pan, opening the oven and putting it under the heat. Watch it carefully because you don’t want the florets to get black on them; so in about 4 minutes, take it out of the oven and stir the florets, placing it back under the heat for another 2-3 minutes. When it’s finished heating, the broccoli will be less icy and a bit rubbery to the touch. That’s ok. You will cook it all the way in the stir fry.

YingsChicken-Brocolli

Step 5 – Keep searing the chicken on high heat. Juice is good. It keeps garlic and onion from burning. However, what you are trying to do is sear the meat until all the juice is gone and the chicken is being directly impacted by the heat, so you can brown the sides. Watch it carefully, letting it cook without stirring for about 3 minutes until you fold the chicken again, trying to turn it and let it cook on other sides. Cook until all the juice is gone and the meat is browned on different sides. (Some sides may be browner than others, and that’s good.) It’s about a total of 8 minutes cooking the chicken.

Juggle the task of checking the broccoli in the oven and chicken in the wok, keeping an eye on both while they’re cooking.

Step 6 – Add carrots to the chicken in the wok. This is a new layer, so begin with not stirring it in while you let it sit and cook for another minute on high. You can add more soy sauce if you want, and also, now it is time to season the stir fry with red wine vinegar and coconut sugar, because the carrots are delicious with their own seasoned taste.  After seasoning, stir the carrots into the chicken and let it cook for 2-3 minutes.YingsChicken-LayerCarrots

Step 7 – Add a new layer: celery. In this layer, you may add more ginger to your liking, sprinkling it in, to give the vegetables a bit more flavor, stirring the celery in after you season it. Cook for another 4 minutes on high heat.YingsChicken-LayerCelery

When you are able to slice a carrot with your wooden spoon, you are ready to move onto the next step.

Step 8 – Add broccoli on top. Do not stir it in. There should be enough liquid from the vegetables at this point, but if you need more (check the bottom to see) add more soy sauce. More ginger can be added (optional) in this layer, too, but only in a sprinkle. Cook for 3 more minutes on high heat.YingsChicken-Layerbroccoli

Step 9 –  In all it is about 10 minutes that you have been cooking the veggies. YingsChicken-CabbageAt last, add the cabbage layer and cook it only until the cabbage is slightly limp and less white in color, but it is best with a slight crunch which can only be kept with minimal cooking. Let the cabbage stay on top, and don’t stir until it’s almost ready to take off the heat. Salt and pepper this layer if you’d like to. I personally don’t like too much pepper but a little can add flavor. Add soy sauce, or take the soy sauce to the table for others to use it like they want. Some people like the saucy, salty taste while some the plainer flavor, I’ve learned.

Step 10 – Enjoy!

YingsChicken-Enjoy

 

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Papa’s Old Fashioned Movie Popcorn

Although she may argue when she sees this, I will admit that a lot of our cooking experience was taught to us by our mother.  She was our teacher in our home school years, so when Lacy took a “Math Chef” math class in 3rd grade, it began our learning how to cook.  Aside from the killer salad I learned how to make from watching my brother make the best salad I had ever tasted as he prepared for us to watch the Ten Commandments movie with him (This was before I could stand any type of salad), my mom is pretty much the one who taught me how to cook.  That and… well.  The old fashioned movie popcorn my dad proudly passed down to me from his father, who I called Papa.

Our family had a tradition of eating popcorn every Friday, whether we were watching a movie or not.   Even if we were doing our own separate things, Dad would always fix a pan of popcorn for us to take to our room.  I was so happy when he finally taught me how he did it.

Dad would actually take a bag of microwavable popcorn, cut it open and add some fresh kernals to the buttered kernels, and then pop the popcorn on the stove.  Since then, I’ve learned that coconut oil works just as well, and you don’t have to trouble yourself with cutting open a bag of microwave popcorn.

If you like the taste of the Orville microwavable popcorn (or any other brand!) but you want an extra freshness that makes the popcorn taste heavenly, feel free to try it out.  Just substitute the coconut oil and ½ of the popcorn kernels in the following recipe with the butter and kernels from the microwave bags.

Serves 6-8 people

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

1 cup popcorn kernels

2 tbsp coconut oil

salt

You will also need a medium or large pan with a lid.

Popcorn-IngredientsSteps:

STEP 1: Mash popcorn kernels into 1 Tbsp coconut oil until all the kernels are coated with the oil.

Popcorn-Oil&Kernels

STEP 2: Over medium-high heat, melt remaining coconut oil into a medium or large pan.

STEP 3: Drop one kernel into the melted coconut oil, and when the kernel begins to

Popcorn-cloudyKernelshow a translucent cloudy color, dump the rest of the kernels into the pan.  Yellow corn kernels will show the cloudy look better than the white kernels will.

STEP 4: Cover the pan with the lid, but keep the lid loose on the pan so that there will be room for the steam to escape the pan.  Very frequently, take the pan and spin the oil and kernels inside.  The movement will keep the popcorn from burning. (Be careful not to slosh the oil out of the pan though, because oil and fire does not mix well!)  If the popcorn takes forever to begin to pop, then you can heat the stove to high heat, but I typically keep the heat balanced between medium-high and high.Popcorn-WithLid

 

 

Get a very large bowl ready!  When the popcorn starts, you’ll be trying to keep up with the popping!  (Have you ever read the children’s book “Popcorn (A Frank Asch Bear Book)”?  It was my favorite storybook as a child, and that’s exactly what the popping popcorn experience reminds me of!)

PopcornBook

STEP 5: When you hear the popcorn begin to pop, then get ready!  Keep the pan moving; while you spin the contents you can fasten the lid, but whenever you stop make sure the steam can escape.  It’s tricky, and may be intimidating when you first start.  But experience makes it easier, and the fresh popped popcorn is worth the effort!

Popcorn-SlingingPopcorn

STEP 6: When the popcorn starts to fill up the pan, go ahead and open the lid just enough to pour some of the popcorn into your bowl.  Be quick because you need to put the popcorn back on the fire to keep the kernels popping.  And don’t be startled when a kernel suddenly pops in the bowl!  By the end of the night, you’ll probably have popcorn all over your stove, and maybe even covering your kitchen floor.

Popcorn-IntoBowl

STEP 7: About every other time you pour some popcorn into your bowl, sprinkle just a little bit of salt onto the popcorn.  It’s always helpful to have a helping hand to salt the popcorn for you, but if you don’t have help, you can easily just wait until the end to do this step if you forget to do it now.

STEP 8: As the popcorn reaches the bottom of the pan, be careful!  You don’t want to burn the popcorn!  You may want to cut the stovetop heat down a bit if the popcorn is popping too fast for you to keep up.Popcorn-Everywhere

STEP 9: Serve and enjoy!  Another tasty way to serve the popcorn is by sprinkling Parmesan on top.

Puppet Skit: “Finding the Characterprints of Jesus” Part 3

COCOA: Detective Snowy, Detective Snowy, where are you?  (sniff, sniff) I smell trouble.  (sniff, sniff) Something is wrong.

(HAPPY and FABLE enter)

COCOA: Has anyone seen Detective Snowy? We need to make tracks and find the last clue. I can’t find my detective.

HAPPY: No, Cocoa. I haven’t seen her anywhere.  It’s not like Snowball to be late for VBS. Something must have happened.

FABLE: She was going to the mouse alley earlier this morning to visit her friends.  But she should be back by now.

COCOA: Detective Snowy is not here. I’ve sniffed everywhere. I’ve got to get busy and find her.

HAPPY: I’ll help you find Snowball. She might need some help.

FABLE: Yes. Let’s go to the mouse alley and find her.

(SNOWBALL enters “mewing”, without her spy glass and hat.)

COCOA: Detective Snowy. There you are! But, what happened to you? You look like you’ve been in a cat fight!

SNOWBALL: Cocoa, don’t call me Detective Snowy. I’m just plain old Snowball.

COCOA: Snowball, what happened?

SNOWBALL: I went to the mouse alley this morning. I was with my friends Stuart and Fival, telling them about VBS, when the mean cats showed up.  The cats started chasing all the mice in the alley.

FABLE: It’s not nice to bother the little guys.

SNOWBALL: Those mean cats hurt Stuart and Fival. I got really mad. I tried to hold on to my temper like Jesus would, but I got so mad.  I started yelling at those other cats.  They had no reason to be mean to my friends. And I got madder because they wouldn’t stop it when I told them to. They started calling me names and THAT did it! I started throwing things around. I scared all the ugly old cats away, and I don’t think they’ll be coming back; but I broke my spyglass and lost my cap.

COCOA: Wow, you’ve had a rough time!

HAPPY: We should have been there to help you defend the mice.

FABLE: Are you okay, Snowball?

AllFour

SNOWBALL: I’m okay, Fable.  You all are such great friends.  You are loving and caring, and so faithful. You’ve got the characterprints of Jesus. I wish I had found the last characterprint before I got so angry. I don’t feel like I’m very much like Jesus. I didn’t find anybody who was brave and courageous.

COCOA: Snowball, Jesus did act like that in the temple. You missed our Bible story today. The Bible says that Jesus got angry with the ones who were being mean to others.  God doesn’t like it when someone hurts others. Jesus showed us how mad God gets.  He threw the table down and ran the mean people out of the temple.

HAPPY: That’s right. God gets very angry at evil.

SNOWBALL: Yeah. But I still didn’t find the last character print. I’m not good enough to be a detective.  I needed to find someone who is brave and courageous.

FABLE: Snowball, I think we know who is brave and courageous.

SNOWBALL: Really? Who? Please tell me. Who is it?

HAPPY: It’s you, Snowball. You defended those poor little mice from the mean old cats, even when they insulted you.

FABLE: Jesus did the same thing.

COCOA: You are very brave, Snowball. Just like Jesus.

SNOWBALL: You guys can’t be serious! I can’t believe this. I have a characterprint like Jesus? Are you guys playing a joke on me?

HAPPY: No, Snowball. We really mean it.

SNOWBALL: Wow! I never thought I’d find any characterprints in me. I was surprised to find Cocoa was humble and loving, but me!? This is more than I ever expected! Are you guys positive I’m like Jesus?

FABLE: Yes, Snowball. We’re positive.

COCOA: So, Snowball. How do you feel now that you’ve found all the characterprints of Jesus? Are you proud of yourself?

SNOWBALL: Well, yeah. But not as much as I thought I would be. You all get the credit, too. A little. I did do most of it myself.

COCOA: What!?

SNOWBALL: Let’s review the character prints we found. Cocoa, you were humble when you took a flea bath, and you were loving when you let me change your name. Okay, it was ridiculous to change our names.

FABLE: Happy was faithful. He didn’t stop liking you when  you changed your names. He didn’t make fun of you either.

HAPPY: Fable was forgiving. He forgave Cocoa for what Cocoa said to him.

COCOA: You don’t have to  bring that up, do you?

FABLE: Don’t worry, Cocoa. I forgive you.

SNOWBALL: And I was brave and courageous. I saved the poor lSnowball-ENDittle mice from the mean cats.

COCOA: Yeah! You’re not Detective Snowy – you’re Catgirl, champion of mice!

SNOWBALL: Catgirl?

COCOA: Yes, you can be a super hero….and….I’ll be your dog!

SNOWBALL: No, Cocoa. Let’s just be friends.  Let’s help each other be like Jesus. He’s the real super hero. Jesus Christ is the champion of the whole world.

COCOA: That’s right! Jesus loves everyone!

FABLE: And Jesus is forgiving.

HAPPY: Jesus is faithful.

SNOWBALL: Jesus is brave and courageous! He helps everyone who needs his help. He saves us all!

HAPPY: I hope everyone enjoyed VBS.

FABLE: I sure did.

SNOWBALL: So did I. I learned a lot and I hope I can come back next summer!

HAPPY: Well, bye everyone!

SNOWBALL: Yeah, bye everyone!

FABLE: I hope you continue to have the character prints of Jesus all your life.

SNOWBALL: Cocoa, why aren’t you saying goodbye to everyone?

COCOA: I’m thinking about changing my name to Champion.

SNOWBALL: Cocoa, say good-bye to the audience.

COCOA: Good-bye to the audience. Oh! Bye everyone. I hope you will go into all the world and make tracks for Jesus!

SNOWBALL: Hey, Cocoa, Fable, Happy, let’s go eat! I’m starving!

COCOA: Yeah! Let’s make tracks to my house! I’ve got some mice in the freezer!

SNOWBALL: Cocoa! Don’t make me mad!

COCOA: I’m just kidding, Snowball.

(All puppets leave stage.)

(Behind curtain) COCOA: Ow! I’m just kidding Snowball.

THE END

Puppet Skit: “Finding the Characterprints of Jesus” Part 2

(SNOWBALL and COCOA enter)

SNOWBALL: I was thinking, Cocoa. Do you think I should change my name?

COCOA: Uh, I don’t know. Snowball sounds “cool” to me.

SNOWBALL: I think I need to change my name to Detective Snowy.  How does that sound?

COCOA: Snowball, I think your name is just fine like it is. Come on, make tracks! Let’s find some more characterprints!

SNOWBALL: WAIT a minute! I’m the detective! I decide what to do! And I say I’m going to change my name. I’m Detective Snowy. And I’ll change your name to….um….YES! Your name is Sir Chocolate.

CCocoaOCOA: Sir Chocolate?

SNOWBALL: Yes, Sir Chocolate. It’s so much more sophisticated and mature. After all, it’s European.

COCOA: You mean I’m foreign? Do I lose my character prints if I’m foreign?

SNOWBALL: No, Cocoa, uh, I mean, Sir Chocolate.  You’ll be the same no matter what name you have.  Jesus had a human name but he’s still our Lord and Savior.  And he loves the whole world, not only one nation.

COCOA: Well, uh, I don’t want to change my name.

SNOWBALL: Oh, come on. Just for the next two days.  Then you can change it back to Cocoa.

COCOA: Okay. You can call me Sir Chocolate.  But you’re the only one.

SNOWBALL: Okay! Thanks! You’re a good dog.

(HAPPY enters)

HAPPY: Hiya, Snowball. Hey, Cocoa.

SNOWBALL: Hi, Happy.

HAPPY: Fable told me you’re a detective now. Where’s your detective’s coat?  All detectives have cool trench coats.

SNOWBALL: I don’t need a trench coat. I have my own coat of fur, thank you very much.  A beautiful coat of fur if I might add. And my name is Detective Snowy, NOT Snowball.

HAPPY: Oh. Well, Detective Snowy, I still love you no matter what you change your name to. And Jesus loves you, no matter how much you change.

SNOWBALL: How come everyone is being so loving and faithful today?

HAPPY: Well, Snowball, I mean, Detective Snowy, those are two of the characterprints of Jesus.

SNOWBALL: Oh, YES! I forgot all about the clues! What are the next two clues, Sir Chocolate? Get busy and sniff out our next two clues!

COCOA: (sniff, sniff loudly) I smell……sniff, sniff…..um……I smell something.

SNOWBALL: What do you smell, Sir Chocolate?  Tell me.

COCOA: I smell you, Detective Snowy.  You smell sweet.Snowball

SNOWBALL: Oh, Sir Chocolate…..you’re…..you’re so European.

HAPPY: Hey, Snowy and Chocolate, why the new names? I thought you were finding characterprints for VBS?

SNOWBALL: We’re looking for someone who is loving and faithful.

COCOA: Hey, Detective Snowy! I think we’ve found someone. Happy! He is faithful; he’s our friend even when we change our names.

HAPPY: That’s right. You can change your name all you want, and I still like you.  It’s not your name, or your parents, or your friends that makes me like you. It’s who you are. Sure, you have some flaws, but we all do. Jesus doesn’t just look at what you do wrong; he looks at what you do right. And there are lots of things you do right.

SNOWBALL: Absolutely! You’re right, Sir Chocolate. We have found a character print in Happy.  He is very faithful. But, what about loving?  Let’s keep looking….

(SNOWBALL wanders away, looking for clues)

HAPPY: Cocoa, why is she calling you Sir Chocolate?

COCOA: Oh, she wanted me to have a foreign name, but she’s just calling me Sir Chocolate for the next two days.  I finally agreed after I found out I wouldn’t lose my characterprints.

HAPPY: Detective Snowy, I think you need to look a little closer than that.  Cocoa is very loving, and his love for you allows him to be your dog, and lets you change his name.

COCOA: Do you mean I’m humble – and now – I’m also loving?  Bow WOW, I thought I was just being nice to my friend!

HAPPY: You were, Cocoa. That’s exactly right. When you’re nice to your friends, that shows that you have character prints like Jesus.  You’re loving and humble.

SNOWBALL: I thought you had to be nice to your enemies, and all that stuff, before you could be loving like Jesus.

HAPPY: Well, that’s true, too, Detective Snowy.  Jesus says to be nice to everyone. But if you think about it – Cocoa would be considered as the enemy to most cats! You’re very lucky to have him as your friend.

SNOWBALL: You’re right, Happy! Thanks for helping me see that. Who would have thought? Sir Chocolate is loving! Meow! I solved the next two clues. Happy is faithful, and Sir Chocolate is loving.

HAPPY: Come on, Detective Snowy.  You, too, Sir Chocolate. Let’s go get a banana split.  I’ll make the best one you’ve ever tasted!

COCOA: All right! Make tracks!  Find me some pineapple topping!

SNOWBALL: I get the strawberry topping!

HAPPY: And I like the chocolate! But most of all, I like my friends!

(HAPPY, SNOWBALL and COCOA exit)

 

Puppet Skit: “Finding the Characterprints of Jesus” Part 1

SNOWBALL: Hello, I’m detective Snowball, and I’m here to see if anyone in this room has characterprints like Jesus.

(COCOA enters)

COCOA: Hey Snowball. Whatcha doing?

SNOWBALL: Well, if you weren’t late, you would have heard me the first time.  I’m a detective, and I’m going to find out if anyone in this room has the characterprints like Jesus.

COCOA: Hah! Hah! That’s funny Snowball.  You can’t be a detective.

SNOWBALL: Why not?

COCOA: You can’t even sniff out your own litter box! You can’t find any clues.

SNOWBALL: I can too!

COCOA: Can not!

SNOWBALL: Can too!

COCOA: Can not!

SNOWBALL: Fine. If you really want to help, you can be my dog.

COCOA: All right!  I’ll sniff out any clues there are! I’ll be the best dog detective anyone’s ever seen!

SNOWBALL: Cocoa?

COCOA: Yes?

SNOWBALL: You are NOT a dog detective.  I’m the detective. You are just the detective’s dog. Okay?

COCOA: Oh, okay.  Sorry. What clues do we look for first?

SNOWBALL: First, we’re looking for the meek and humble characterprints.  Also, the forgiving and merciful prints.

COCOA: Oh, yeah!  That should be easy!  Wait! (sniff, sniff loudly) I think I smell something! It’s… it’s… (sniff more, then pause)… IT STINKS! Who’s wearing dirty socks? Yuck!

SNOWBALL: Cocoa?  I think you’re smelling yourself now.  Which reminds me. Before we get started, you need to take a flea bath and get a leash.  After all, I think ALL dogs need to be on leashes.

COCOA: WHAT!?  No way! I can’t do that! That goes against my dog instincts!

SNOWBALL: Cocoa, even your instinct STINKS! If you don’t go get a flea bath right now, I’ll…..

(FABLE-enter-interrupts)

FABLE: Hi Snowball. Hey Cocoa. Um, Snowball, what are you doing?

COCOA: She’s Detective Snowball, and I’m her dog!  We’re trying to find someone with the characterprints of Jesus.  We don’t waste time sitting around writing silly fables!

SNOWBALL: Cocoa! You’re terrible.  Now I’m convinced you don’t have any characterprints.  That was a very rude thing to say to Fable! If you keep that up, I will have to disown you.  I do not want such a stinky animal for MY dog!

FABLE: That’s okay, Snowball. Don’t be mad at Cocoa.  I know he didn’t mean it.  Not everyone enjoys writing stories like I do. To Cocoa, writing fables might be wasting time, and I respect his opinion.  I don’t expect him to like everything I do. After all, none of us are ever exactly alike.  We can be totally different, yet we can still be very good friends.  We can still like each other.  Jesus wants us to be different, and he wants us to be very good friends to everyone.

SNOWBALL: Fable, that was such a forgiving thing to say. After all, Cocoa is only a DOG, and dogs don’t know anything when it comes to being polite.

FABLE: Well, Snowball, that wasn’t a very nice thing to say about Cocoa.  Do you realize that Cocoa is actually very humble by being your dog? He is trying to help you.

SNOWBALL: I guess you’re right, Fable.  Everything I said was true, but I guess I shouldn’t have said it.  Sorry Cocoa. I do thank you for your help.

COCOA: That’s okay! I forgive you, Snowball. Fable, could you do me a favor?

FABLE: What is it, Cocoa?

COCOA: Well, I sorta was just thinking….could you help me, um, take a flea bath?

FABLE: Oh, sure, Cocoa.  Come on. Let’s take a bubble bath!

(COCOA and FABLE leave)

SNOWBALL: Well, I guess I solved the first two clues.  Fable is forgiving. He could have gotten really mad at Cocoa, but he didn’t.  He didn’t yell; he didn’t throw things around, or anything.  Just like Jesus at the cross.  Jesus could have gotten really, really mad, and called the angels to help him get off the cross, but he didn’t.  He died because he loved his friends and his enemies.  And Cocoa, that silly dog, didn’t have to take a flea bath, but he did it for me, so I would be happy.  What a friend!  He’s a good dog.

(COCOA comes back)

COCOA: Okay, let’s make tracks!  I’m ready to find the next two clues! What do we look for next?SnowCocoa

SNOWBALL: Cocoa, we can’t look for any more character prints today.  VBS is over and the kids are going  home.  But we’ll look for more tomorrow.  Come on, let’s go eat lunch.  I’m starving.  Let’s go get some hot dogs!

COCOA: Um, Snowball? Can we eat pizza?  I don’t like to eat hot dogs.

SNOWBALL: Okay, Cocoa. Hey! You look great! You’re really a “hot” dog!  And humble too.

(COCOA and SNOWBALL exit)

 

VBS & Puppet Skit Fun

As a kid, I loved playing with puppets.  I would always write my own puppet plays and play them out for Lacy or for my stuffed animals or parents (depending on if Lacy wanted to play puppets with me or if she wanted to just watch.)  In 6th grade my best friend and I were the puppeteers for the school counselor, although that wasn’t much fun because the voices were pre-taped and we just moved the puppets’ arms around and their mouths according to the voices talking.

In Sunday school, I was a puppeteer when my parents taught the children’s Bible hour.  It was loads of fun, and I loved helping my mom write the plays that would speak to the younger kids each Sunday.  I would have even more fun playing the voice of one or two of the puppets.

In the summer of 2000, my church was holding a 3 day VBS, “Finding the Characterprints of Jesus”.  There were 5 lessons:

Lesson 1 – Jesus was humble.

Lesson 2 – Jesus was forgiving.

Lesson 3 – Jesus was faithful.

Lesson 4 – Jesus was loving.

Lesson 5 – Jesus was brave.

The point of the VBS was to encourage the kids to be detectives and find out ways to be like Jesus Christ.  I remember, the instigator of the VBS was trying to come up with a fun way to close out each day’s activities, and so my mom offered us to make a puppet skit and put it on for the rest of the kids (and adults, too).  I had so much fun with VBS that year.  Mom played the cheery Happy the bear, Lacy played the lighthearted Cocoa the dog, I played the sassy Snowball the cat, and we got another gentle-voiced woman from church to play the amiable Fable the panda.  Needless to say, our skits were a hit.

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The Crux at Paradise

INTRODUCTION

At one point or another, I’m pretty sure everybody wonders what being filthy rich feels like. I never believed my mom when she said “Big pockets belong to big liars”, but after spending a week at the Bahamas with the richest scamp on the planet, I think I’m a believer.

As if that’s not shocking enough, this “rich scamp”? He might just be the ghost of a ruthless pirate.

I’m not crazy! Bahamian legends foretell about all the murderous things pirates are capable of. I have lots of evidence to back up my theory.

My suspicions all started after sitting in a squeaky clean limousine…

 

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Foxxie Compares Problems to Dirty Laundry

Foxxie is a life-long character (and beanie baby friend) of ours. He’s motivational, no matter what, although his ideas are a bit far-fetched. His creative personality encourages those he befriends, which is anybody who crosses his path. His favorite interjection is the word “Dah!” meant as affirmation and praise. He wanted to write on our blog this week to give workaholics some friendly advice.

What’s up? I’m the fox, Foxxie, and I have a question for you!

Do you work, work, work, all day and all night, just to SLAM brick into a wall? Not literally but. Do you ever topple into a dumpy slump? Like, when you’re doing your job, if you’re a writer, and you’re writing a book, you get writer’s block. I compare problems to a pile of dirty laundry! A big, STINKY mess of clothes! Yuck!

If you do get in a mess, don’t let it get to you! Those somedays of dirty laundry aren’t your fault. Dah! If it was up to you? You’d keep it clean, but it’s LIFE that makes it dirty.

Don’t nag yourself for the spiral going outta control. Like, when the big washer sloshes around – buh-roo, broo, broo,– making some sound: that’s your life forcing you into a swishy wad. You’re the victim to unfortunate events. Yeah? It’s not your fault.

Let me tell you what I mean! There’s five things I can think of, where the dirty laundry hatches its mean plans, and you’re just kinda holding your head… “Aww, what happened!” … cuz you were doing your job so well, then boom! Life gives you a stinky, soggy disaster.

foxxielaundry2

1. Overloaded Routine: Mixing Whites with Colors

Nobody mixes whites with colors in hot water or else stuff changes. It all ruins! Well, the same goes for routine: one task gets a little dicey, before you know it, boom, boom, boom! Everything white’s now pink! The whole schedule’s hours, days, even weeks behind.

But Foxxie’s got advice for you – dah, I can help. If your routine’s in a rut, sliiiide it off your back. Chill! On purpose. Wear the now-pink-white as if it was always the plan. Don’t fret it! You can do it!!! Keep reminding yourself you can do it and don’t count lost time, just move on! Start anew.

2. Sad Things: Splattering the Bleach

Isn’t it harrowing when bleach splashes your best shirt? You get it outta the dryer, and there’s an ugly spot sitting there, staring at you. SAD! Like, “Once upon a time I was your favorite shirt… now I’m history.” Wah! I compare that moment to when it all becomes too much. When you work so hard on the job, then that feeling creeps up, making you think: I’m a failure. My work isn’t good. I should do something else. WELL DON’T LISTEN! IT’S NOT TRUE! You’re a winner!! Never surrender to spotty thoughts blemishing you. Instead, put on some music and keep trying! Keep it up!! Get it done!!!

3. Uninvited Company: Grass and Ink Stains

It happens! Like, when you’re about to start typing a new chapter in your story, then a person comes to your house and starts babbling nonstop: it’s like the nasty grass stains on dirty clothes that no stain remover can remove. You’re sitting there, staring at your screen, crying in your mind, because your precious story won’t write itself… you wanna put the blame on the uninvited company… creativity whooshes to the far reaches of your mind, perhaps never to be inspired again, it seems… the stain of interruption forever changing everything…

If it’s a salesman, that’s abominable rudeness, but if it’s a friend who interrupts, they’re ok. They need love!

So I’ve heard – you think it’s true? – smart folk say socialness helps your mind get more creative, not less! Maybe they’re right. Hard to say. Take a break from work, then, and you’ll do even better than if you’d been left alone! You’ll return saying, “Hey! I know how to make my story even better!” So I guess it’s ok to sacrifice a little of your time, when people are involved.

…If you’re not convinced, hey, think of it this way! Unless you wanna be Emily Dickinson and wait post-mortem for fame, you gotta get fans somehow!

4. Machines Stop Working: Washer Stops Washing

You know it! Air conditioners go out. The coffee pot stops brewing. Or your computer’s the problem. It stops working right in the middle of your best work. It freezes, turns blue, becomes a zombie! That’s when your life is like the washer that stops washing. You either can’t work at all – waiting for the maintenance man to come fix it – or you have to work in an inconvenient way. Kinda like scrubbing clothes by hand, scrub’o dub dub.

Broken machines make your life impossible! But it’s really not your fault. Hey, give yourself a pat on the back. Say “It’s ok! I got this.”

5. Yucky Health: Running Out of Soap

My personal worst is when the soap runs out! Dirty laundry can’t be washed and just keeps getting dirtier: hours get too long, body runs out of energy, and you just have to sleep in order not to die. Seriously! If you feel this happening, take care of yourself! Get some sun, or shade if your work’s outside. Drink some water! Watch TV! Take a nap. Care about yourself. You gotta stay well to see your dreams through ’til the end. It kinda sounded like I was teasing Emily Dickinson before, but hey, maybe she had to stay in her room, to stay well enough to write all those poems. It’s ok to rest. Foxxie wishes you well.

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When bad stuff happens, if there’s no way out of the dirty mess, and the only thing you can do is wait, no need to sit and mope. Have a pizza party! That’s what I do! It’s fun not to work all the time. Dah?

Captain’s Log: Scary Seabiscuits!

September 24, sometime in the Baroque Era, with a touch of present day.

Written with penmanship of Pachelbel, the cook of the Phantom Acoustique, who has quite the opinion about what makes good food…

Umm… who would want’a buy yummies with ugly dead bones on them? Scary! I tri’d to tell the designers it was a BAD IDEA! But do they listen to me? No, sir!

I love baking. My dream is to start my very own bakery in the heart of Netherlands, my home. But for some reason, d’spite my expertise, the designers decide to put a SKULL on some seabiscuits and morsels. If it were me doing it, flowers ‘r letters ‘r hearts it would be, but Lacy told me, “No, Pachelbel, we can’t do that for Halloween. People want a scary theme for Halloween.” I don’t agree!

All Hallow’s Eve doesn’t need to be scary! What hapen’d to “Happy Halloween”? Angels should be popular again, why ghouls! Samurais’r better than pyrates cuz they’re heroes, right? I don’t like pyrates. They’re evil. Just cuz I’m the cook on the Phantom Acoustique does not mean I like pyrates, and neither should anyone else. (“Tis rude,” my lady master Baroque repli’d. “Second chances be our motto, remember? Judge not, be not judged.”) But I say we are pyrate hunters! Only pyrate hunters onboard our ship, not pyrates! That’s the point of a second chance – the second chance turns you into a goode hero. Otherwise, no second chance; only first chance continu’d and fail’d!

I stray’d off subject. I will introduce to you, even though I am not happy to share with you a series of cookies I don’t like, the new seabiscuits available for sale. I do it only cuz the boss told me to write something to present the new products, since I be the food lover ‘round here, and cuz the designers surely do need investors. I’ll do the job…. but I don’t have to be happy ‘bout it!

Cake Pops

12 Skull & Crossbones in a Cannon Barrel Cake Pops

 

 

 

 

 

An ingenious morsel of cake! The stick coming off the top gives you something to hold, when you bite into the drizly, chocolatey bite-sized piece. Don’t misunderstand. The pops look tasty! But I do not know why anyone would want to bite into a smiling skull looking out a barrel of a cannon. Maybe if you had a scary All Hallow’s Eve party?


Dipped Oreos

12 Skull & Bones in a Cannon Barrel Dipped Oreos

 

 

 

 

I get hungry looking at it! Although the biscuit looks a bit like a cannon with that painting on it.  Round, black, chocolate dip’d: they come in a dozen and would be startling for a pirate them’d event, or maybe an especially special game night, one where all y’friends are onboard.

Hardtack Biscuits (actually shortbread cookies)

Pack of 4 Skull & Crossbones Hardtack Biscuits Round Shortbread Cookie

 

 

 

 

Fresh for 2 weeks after baked…. hmm, that’s what the seller says, yes yes, but I don’t think they will last that long on a ship with hungry crew. The hardtacks look similar to the seabiscuits below but they taste different (sweet and buttery!), are smaller, and come in a 4 pack.

Seabiscuits (actually sugar cookies)

12 Skull & Crossbones Hardtack Seabiscuits Sugar Cookie

 

 

 

 

Mm, mm! These seabiscuits’r topp’d with icing! Although they seem sweeter and more flakie than I’m used to… They wouldn’t last long on my sea voyage – a dozen becomes zero ‘fore I know it, they’re all gone!

….

Ohh!! I take that back, they do know how to design! After looking at their store, they offer other All Hallow’s Eve cookies. They offer brownies, too. The jack-o-lantern brownies are charming. I didn’t understand at first, why peculiar faces were on pumpkins. Kat explain’d to me: “It’s an emoji, a modern type of smiley face on a pumpkin.” I repli’d “Oh, so it is a pumpkin! In the 21st century, it’s pumpkins you carve and call jack o’ lanterns, right? Well, in my time period, we didn’t know about pumpkins, but pray tell, we knew of the story ’bout Stingy Jack and how he wander’d the netherworld ‘tween Heaven and Hell cuz he wasn’t welcome either place!” Course, it’s only a story. In Ireland, it’s turnips they carv’d faces into. Yum, yum! Turnip soup. One of my favourites to make onboard, when we got the ingredients! That determines all things. What we got in the stowage.

Awww, why didn’t they tell me to advertise this design instead? I would have been happy to do that! Look at ‘em. For yourself!

Smile-O-Lantern Brownies

This brownie wo12 Smile-O-Lantern Browniesuld make me glad on the holiday. It is also better for kids which is why one celebrates All Hallow’s Eve. Children want to dress up and play and ward off ol’ Stingy Jack. I could see this hapening better with happy pumpkins!

 

 

Cute-O-Lantern Cookies

There are nin12 Cute-O-Lantern Sugar Glazed Cookiese other designs ‘sides the two I am showing, expresing all kinds of, what’r they call’d, emojis? Never heard of it. I wish you could buy a dozen cookies each with a different emoji. But please, don’t let that stop you from treating yourself with these funny yummies I can support!

 

Thank you for reading my post, I am truly apreciative. Perhaps in the future we shall meet sometime. I will be honor’d for you to show an interest in my crew. Come the ‘morrow and Captain Gavotte will announce our plans for traveling the ocean… if you’re a gamer, you can be our shantyman!

 

 

 

 

Captain’s Log: Shut the Box

September 23, sometime in the Baroque Era, with a touch of present day.

Written with penmanship of Baroque, the beautiful red-headed quartermaster of the Phantom Acoustique.

I shan’t be named as best scribe of the seven seas, but at entertainin’ I know it all. Fer gamin, me choice hobby be Shut the Box. All o’ the power seadogs ‘r’playing it. It takes no time but, maybe a slowish count o’ 20 on yer fingers, and can be 1 player, 2 player, 4 player, however many mates ye want until the box is shut. Aye, it’s just as it sounds, a box without a lid won’t do. Ye have’ta shut it to call victory. … Or a’least be the mate scorin’ the lowest most skimpiest number.

The rules be simple, so simple! Roll o’pair’o dice (six sides) and 2 numbers be showin’.  Ye count up the total an’ decide which planks (‘r panels) y’shut. Maybe 1, maybe 2, 3, is perfection. Traditional-like, thar be a row o’ 9 planks, each with numbers 1-9. Be closin’ the box be t’object o’ t’game. T’ close it, ye gotta shut each plank, turn ’em over,  ’til none ‘r’ left showin’ numbers.

So roll yer die. Imagine ye got 5 an’ 1. Yer total bein 6, y’can shut 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 ‘r 6 planks, to make t’sum o’ 6. which’ee gonna choose? It’s up t’yerself not to end in a deadlock! I’d say choose t’shut 1 an’ 5, which would total 6; but 4 ‘n’ 2′; ‘r 3, 2, ‘n’ 1; ‘r 6 all be others you can play, savvy?

The reason why I choose Shut the Box o’er any other proud title is fer the feel o’ rollin’ the dice. I fancy t’play it while sittin’ ther hearin’ me Captain play his harpsichord. He works his skill’d hands fer hours! Me b’rollin’ t’dice. Although countin’ up t’twelve eventually do tire out yer sore eyes… surely ye’ll relate when I say as I gotta pass me time somehow, whilst that keyboard never stops o’playin.  I gots me games to pass the sand in the hourglass with, though now that Madrigal, our swabbie, gave Cap’n a coocoo clock fer the cabin, th’ lil bird pops and says “coo coo” once on t’hour, and interupts the music. (Har har) Cap’n furrows ‘is brow and heaves a sigh ‘n’ shoutin’ “Arg, someone shoot that bloody bird! I playin’ me music and ne’er be ended!“Yar har, ’tis only a jest, ther’s naught be but gentleman qualities in Gavotte.(It be me brother I act out.)  Gavotte ne’er speaks an ill word. Rather boring!  Nay, be a lie of me. Reliable and noble, that he is. That he is now. Don’t be listenin to a ill word said about he aboard me ship.

Goin’ back t’Shut the Box, if yer findin’ yerself a want fer the game, shops sell it everywhere. Quite the unfortune that it’s a mighty-like doubloons to get a copy. Aye. Free copies’r floatin’ about, but ther imitations. Cheap. Forgive me!!! But I tell’d it like I see’d it, and any good blokes gonna check the depths o’ the web to snatch a version money-a’lackin, and they’ll know meself’s o’fool. No no, ’tis me naught, but thar that copy yer tryin!! Buy yerself a real box. DO NOT go tryin this online version. Shan’t be clickin it, I say! Er’else ya might’s well be lame as a barnacle, cuz yer missin’ ev’ry opportunity to experience a real treasure. Bein the real shuttin’ game.