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Poached Eggs in Tomato Sauce

Eggs with Tomato Sauce

I don't do well with scary movies. In many ways, I'm the person scary movies were designed for. My fear is real. It doesn't matter if the film is about a mad man, zombies, or a haunted house—in every case, I'll want to sleep with the lights on (if I can sleep at all).

My first introduction to scary movies was the movie Signs (and, really, it's not even intended to be a scary film). During the final scenes, I literally hid beneath the couch cushions with my eyes shut tight and my hands over my ears. Up until that point, Disney villains marked my experience with frightening scenes. I had much to learn.

Eggs with Tomato Sauce

Despite the fact that I shouldn't watch scary movies, this weekend my mother and I rented the movie Rose Red, based on Stephen King's novel of the same name. It's a four hour mini-series (meaning four hours of pure terror for me) in which a group of people with psychic powers spend the night in a haunted house. It didn't matter that the special effects were cheesy, half the ghosts/bad guys were puppets, and the storyline didn't always make sense—I was genuinely afraid.

I hid my eyes when the scary music started, regardless of whether or not something scary was actually happening. I jumped at all the right moments. Halfway through, I shut the doors leading to the room, just in case something happened to sneak in when I wasn't looking. My mother had to repeatedly tell me that "it's not real, calm down" when I'd start to get jumpy. Three hours in, I had to shut off the movie because I couldn't handle the fear, much to my mother's dismay.

I told you I don't do well with scary movies. Maybe I should start watching them in the middle of the day.

Eggs with Tomato Sauce

These poached eggs in tomato sauce make a perfect light breakfast or lunch (and eggs look like suns, which is something I desperately want to see after a night of scary movies). Tomatoes compliment the eggs in an unexpected way. Serve with a side of veggies for a balanced meal. Alternatively, if you have leftover spaghetti sauce from the evening before, top poached or scrambled eggs with it and achieve the same effect. Simple, yet delicious!

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Banana Pudding

Banana Pudding

This week has been full of sad, devastating, and difficult news. With the disaster of unfathomable proportions in Japan and the Libyans struggle for freedom, it's easy to feel upset or overwhelmed with emotion every time I turn on the television or glance at a newspaper. When I see the footage of Japan, I just get sick to my stomach. I feel helpless as an observer.

There are certainly ways to help or get involved; a donation to the Red Cross can aid a wounded nation. The simple act of sending out thoughts of hope and support can comfort others in the smallest (and biggest) of ways.

Though, for me, sometimes it just doesn't seem enough.

I admit I feel guilty when I see disaster or people struggling. I have so much (maybe too much?) while others have so very little. I have a roof above my head and solid ground beneath my feet. I can communicate through the telephone and internet; the news informs me of what has been and what is to come. I don't have the threat of radiation poisoning looming over me. I know where my loved ones are.

Banana Pudding

Today my biggest concern was what to make for dinner. It seems petty in comparison to the plight of others and, though it may be true, is that a fair comparison for me to make? I asked myself this question today. I don't believe it is. I could make this comparison every day of my life and there will always be someone who is struggling more than I am. There will always be someone who has less than I do. There will always be someone suffering more than I ever will. Feeling guilt for having more isn't the answer. Neither is feeling unworthy of what I do have. So what am I supposed to do?

I sincerely believe the solution can be found in appreciation. Appreciation for what you have and the good in your life. Appreciation for the troubles that do not plague you. Loss and devastation on the scale that Japan is feeling can seem like far off nightmares—too far to be recognizable; too far to be reality. Appreciation and sympathy for those who are suffering is the only way you can even begin to try to understand. You may not ever truly understand (and you won't unless you have personally experienced it), but it's a place to start. When was the last time you considered the washing machine or stove top a luxury instead of a necessity? When did you last sit quietly and truly feel grateful for the people in your life?

Do what you can to help those in need, in whichever way you are capable, but then help yourself. Acknowledge your blessings. Be grateful for everything good and bad in your life—without the contrast both are meaningless. Though today may hold peace and calm, tomorrow may bring new strife or tragedy. Appreciate your today.

Banana Pudding

This banana pudding is soft and full of banana flavor. It has a smooth texture that comforts the taste buds. The chocolate shavings make this simple pudding something special. Today I am appreciative that I can sit in the calm of my home, enjoy the sunshine of an early spring day, and eat this banana pudding in peace. That's just enough for me—I don't need anything more.

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Vanilla Almond Cupcakes

Vanilla Almond Cupcake

This past weekend I took some time off to be with family to go skiing. It's a spring break tradition we started when I was younger and have kept it up since. This year's destination was to Red Lodge, Montana. It's a small tourist town with the quaintest little main street you've ever seen, surrounded by mountains perfect for skiing or snowboarding (and hiking in summer).

The weather was perfect. It was bright and sunny with little wind and I couldn't have asked for anything better. With few clouds, the view from the top of the mountain was unbelievable. The mountains and country seemed to extend on forever. My sister thought she could easily see far enough to reach into the next state. I agreed.

Skiing in Red Lodge

Skiing in Red Lodge

Though the sun was shining, I still bundled up like I was headed into the arctic for the next year. Three layers on the bottom, five on the top, and a neck warmer that covered everything but the tip of my nose (which was the only part of me that sunburned, by the way. Call me Rudolph). Though, it was worth it. There are few things more exhilarating than skiing down a mountain as fast as you can.

Red Lodge Main Street

After a long day on the slopes, nothing seems better than a plate full of food. The main street is full of original shops and restaurants, including Bogart's (our favorite restaurant). Order the giant plate of nachos. And a margarita (or two). It's the best you'll ever have.

Bogart's Restaurant Montana Candy Emporium
Montana Candy Emporium

The town is also home to the Montana Candy Emporium. It is a renovated movie theater turned candy shop. It sells just about every discontinued or old-timey candy you can imagine, holding it all in rows of barrels. With vintage signs and paraphernalia, this place is really a sight.

Vanilla Almond Cupcakes

We stayed in a small cottage at the base of the mountain. Even though it was without internet (gasp), we found a way to entertain each other. Sometimes it just feels good to get a break from technology and reality, for just a little while.

Vanilla Almond Cupcakes

These cupcakes are light and subtly sweet. The vanilla almond cupcake has vanilla tones with sliced almonds right in the mix. The cake is barely sweet to allow the almond to shine. The frosting is a basic vanilla frosting with a hint of almond extract to cut the sweetness. The flavors in this cupcake really shine—neither the vanilla or almond outshine each other. These cupcakes are perfect for afternoon tea.

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