Tag Archives: California Rainbow for Girls

Ice Water Challenge 2014

13 Jul Mineral King Swimming Hole

I’ve blogged before about the importance of charity in my life. One of the biggest influences in my life was the California Rainbow For Girls. People have asked me where I became a well-adjusted (well that can be debated, lol) young woman, and I always point to Rainbow. One of the values they instill in their members is charity and community service. Each year a California charity is chosen as the state service project. When I was a state officer in 2002-2003, we raised just over $108,000 for Camp Sunshine Dreams, a summer camp for kids with cancer that started through the Valley Children’s Hospital in the Central Valley. This year money is being raised for the Scottish Rite Clinic for Childhood Language Disorders.

This year a challenge was put forth via Facebook, the Ice/Cold Water Challenge. This social media campaign has been used around the world by now for various charities. Early last week I started seeing videos pop up in my Facebook news feed from my fellow Rainbow friends dumping ice-cold water on themselves and each other and donating $10 to the Grand Service Project. After watching the third or fourth video I knew my dry days were numbered. Well on Thursday evening I received a Facebook notification that I had been tagged in a video by my friend Lauren Pinnella, who served as the same office as I had in 2009. I now had 48 hours to complete the challenge or pay $100 towards the Grand Service Project. As a poor, starving artist I knew I had to figure out a way to get dumped in cold water. With my trip to my hometown of Three Rivers the following evening I decided to do the challenge “country style” and jump in the cold Kaweah river!

Kaweah River Bridge 1923, Mineral King

Quick photo at the Historic Kaweah River Bridge 1923 in Mineral King.

I enlisted my sister and her boyfriend to help me and we went up into Mineral King and walked along the flume to a secluded spot that had a deep pool we could jump into. Because when you’re going to swim in snow melt water you don’t dip a foot in, you jump all the way.

Mineral King Flume

Liz and I on the flume on our way to a secluded swimming spot!

Mineral King Valley

Looking up the Mineral King Valley

Liz and I counted to three and made the leap. It was cold water indeed!!!

ice water play button

But it also felt amazing! Especially with the 100 degree weather that afternoon. We ended up doing a couple more jumps before leaving it felt so good!

Mineral King Swimming Hole

The secluded swimming spot. Ready to jump!

Post Snow Melt Water Jump! It feels good!

Post Snow Melt Water Jump! It feels good!

On our way home we even stopped at the infamous Reimer’s Candies and Gifts for homemade ice cream. Chocolate chip! Yummm!

Reimer's Candies and Gifts

Reimer’s Candies and Gifts, a local candy and ice cream store.

Part of the challenge is calling out your friends to do the challenge and continue the fundraising. I called out my Rainbow friends Jill Brown, Shannyn Allan, Erin Dunlap, Laura Gephart, and the Hopper family: Richard and Judi Hopper and Jana Ferguson. But because I want to spread acts of kindness everywhere, I challenge everyone reading this to the Ice Water Challenge. Pick the charity of your choice and get dunked with ice or cold water and give them $10 or stay dry and donate $100! This challenge is all on you and I obviously can’t track you down. But if you do the challenge by the end of July 2014 and either upload the video online (and be sure to tag me or send me the link!) or send to me to upload for you, I will donate an additional $2 to the Scottish Rite Clinic! I want to see the Unforgettable Unicorns raise boat loads of money this year! You have 19 days and I hope you’ll join me and the rest of California Rainbow on this challenge and spread a little kindness. Happy Dunking!

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Secret Kisses Cookies

6 Feb Secret Kisses Cookies cooling on the wire rack after rolling in powdered sugar.

I have a love affair with Hershey’s. Actually, I’ve always had a love affair with chocolate, ever since I was a little girl, but it wasn’t until near the end of my junior year, March 20o2 to be exact, that Hershey’s and I became inseparable. I was appointed to a state office in the California Rainbow for Girls, the Grand Representative to Ohio and Pennsylvania, and since Hershey’s was founded in Pennsylvania, my life was immediately filled with all things Hershey’s and all things chocolate. To this day I see something Hershey and I just have to have it. Earrings, necklace, hoodie, old candy tins, and of course, cookbooks. And so every year during my holiday baking I always use a recipe from these books that uses a whole Hershey’s Kiss. Last year it was chocolate thumbprint cookies and this year it is Secret Kisses Cookies from Hershey’s Kisses Brand Recipes (that is in the shape of a kiss, lol).

33911_A_01_Kisses_EBUI thought I would be clever and use not just regular kisses, but caramel filled ones too. Well…it kind of backfired on me, and while they were baking the caramel proceeded to melt and seep from the cookies. Well drat. Upon eating one later I discovered that the kisses became hollow. Drat again. While some of the caramel stuck to the bottom of the cookies, some melted to the pan. Oh well, have to try it at least once! I don’t know if I’d make these cookies again, I think I prefer the thumbprint ones better. Tell me in the comments below which one you prefer!

Secret Kisses Cookies Ingredients L-R: Flour, Milk Chocolate Kisses, Crisco Butter Flavor, Vanilla, Sugar, Caramel Kisses, Powdered Sugar

Secret Kisses Cookies Ingredients L-R: Flour, Milk Chocolate Kisses, Crisco Butter Flavor, Vanilla, Sugar, Caramel Kisses, Powdered Sugar

SECRET KISSES COOKIES (makes about 3 dozen)

  • 1 Cup Butter
  • 1/2 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla
  • 1 3/4 Cups Flour
  • 1 Cup Finely Chopped Walnuts or Almonds (optional)
  • 36 Hershey’s Kisses (I used Milk Chocolate along with a few Caramel filled ones)
  • Powdered Sugar for sprinkling, about 1/4 cup

DON’T preheat the oven as you will need to refrigerate the dough for an hour or two before baking.

In your stand mixer (or large mixing bowl if using a hand mixer), cream together your softened butter and sugar until fluffy on high-speed. On a low-speed slowly add in your flour (and nuts if you choose-I did not) and mix until well blended. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours until the dough is firm.

Secret Kisses Cookies

Creaming together the butter and sugar

Secret Kisses Cookies

Mixing in the flour to form the dough.

Once dough is firm, preheat the oven to 375 degrees and unwrap your kisses. Scoop out about one tablespoon of dough and form a  ball around each kiss. Make sure that the kiss is completely covered by the dough.

Secret Kisses Cookies

Secret Kisses Cookies ready for the oven!

Bake each sheet for 10 to 12 minutes. Start at 10 minutes and increase by 1 minute at a time if additional baking time is needed. When done let cool for about 2 minutes then remove to wire racks to finish cooling.

Secret Kisses Cookies fresh from the oven.

Secret Kisses Cookies fresh from the oven.

Before completely cool though, roll in powdered sugar (or sprinkle over cookies). Enjoy!

Secret Kisses Cookies cooling on the wire rack after rolling in powdered sugar.

Secret Kisses Cookies cooling on the wire rack after rolling in powdered sugar. You can see one in the upper right that has caramel leaking, lol.

Chocolate Cheesecake For My Anniversary

4 Oct Chocolate Cheesecake

So about a week ago was my 1 year blog anniversary. I couldn’t believe that it had been a year since I began sharing my recipes with everyone. I knew that I wanted to make something special, but it wasn’t until just a few days before my anniversary that I knew exactly what it would be: a chocolate cheesecake. Back home my dad is kind of famous for his baking. A jar of his cookies once started a bidding war at a silent auction for Visalia Assembly of the California Rainbow for Girls that even involved the jar being “misplaced” and a record winning bid. It was quite an eventful auction, and one that we still talk about, lol. Well his other signature baking dish is his cheesecake, specifically his chocolate cheesecake. Since I was in high school I would ask my dad to make one as my birthday cake. And when my dad came down for my birthday in 2012 he made one and bought a springform pan that he left for me so I could make one myself. I was always scared to make one because his are soooo good, even though he gave me the recipe while I was still in college. Well 19 months later I finally conquered my fear and made one myself. This one served as a birthday cake for my dad and my sister on a visit home. Enjoy!

Chocolate Cheesecake Ingredients L-R: Vanilla, Chocolate Graham Crackers, Eggs, Butter, Cream Cheese, Cocoa Powder, Sour Cream, Chocolate Chips, Sugar

Chocolate Cheesecake Ingredients L-R: Vanilla, Chocolate Graham Crackers, Eggs, Butter, Cream Cheese, Cocoa Powder, Sour Cream, Chocolate Chips, Sugar

CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE (serves about 12)

  • 1 Pkg. Chocolate Wafer Cookies or 1 Box of Chocolate Graham Crackers
  • 1/2 Cup (1 stick) Unsalted Butter
  • 24 oz. Cream Cheese
  • 1 Cup Sugar plus 3 Tbsp
  • 1 1/2 Cups Sour Cream (24 oz)
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Tbsp Cocoa Powder
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla
  • 10 oz. Chocolate Chips (I used Ghiradelli 60% chips)
  • 1/2 Cup Seedless Raspberry or Apricot Preserves (optional)
  • 9″ Springform Pan (an 8″ or 10″ one will work too)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Make your crust first. In a food processor crush the cookies until fine. You might need to hand crush a few larger pieces if you use graham cracker cookies (like I did). Transfer crumbs to a small mixing bowl. In a small pot melt your butter. Add the melted butter and the three tablespoons of sugar to the cookie crumbs and mix well.

Chocolate Graham Crackers

Chocolate Graham Crackers ready for the Cuisinart

Graham Cracker Crust

Above: The crust mixture
Below: The crust all set in the pan.

Transfer to your cake pan and press into the bottom and up the sides to form the crust (see above). It’s okay if the crust doesn’t go all the way up to the top of the pan.

Next make the filling. My dad uses his Cuisinart food processor, I used my Kitchen Aid mixer, you can also use a hand mixer or a spoon, it’s up to you. Mix together the cream cheese, remaining sugar and sour cream. Blend until smooth. Add in the eggs and mix well. Finally add in your cocoa powder and vanilla (on a low setting if using a mixer).

Cream Cheese, Sugar, Sour Cream, Cocoa Powder, Vanilla

Clockwise from Top Left: Mixing the cream cheese and sugar. After mixing in the sour cream and eggs. Adding in the cocoa powder and vanilla (so pretty!). After they’re mixed in the color doesn’t change much.

Melt your chocolate chips either in a microwavable safe bowl or in a double boiler on the stove. A double boiler consists of a pot of water with either a fitted pot on top (you can buy a set) or what I do, a bowl.

Chocolate Chips, Double Boiler

Melting the chocolate chips in my homemade double boiler

Add melted chocolate to mixture and blend until mixture is smooth.

Melted Chocolate

Melted Chocolate

Mixing in the melted chocolate. Isn’t it pretty!

Pour mixture into cake pan and put into oven. Bake for 50 minutes for a 9 inch pan (1 hour for an 8 inch pan). When done, remove from the oven and let cool. It will puff up above the pan (see photo below) while baking, which is completely normal.

Chocolate Cheesecake

Cheesecake is ready for the oven

Chocolate Cheesecake

Fresh from the oven! As you can see it puffed up about an inch. It will go down later.

Store in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve. When ready to serve melt about 1/2 cup of seedless raspberry or apricot preserves in the microwave and pour over the top and spread over the top.

Chocolate Cheesecake

After cooling for about 45 minutes or so it deflated and is ready to go in the fridge.

Chocolate Cheesecake

The ring has been removed and is almost ready for serving, just going to add the jam.

I recommend thin slices, as it’s very rich. Enjoy with a cold glass of milk or a cup of coffee!

Chocolate Cheesecake

It’s finally ready to be served.

Chocolate Cheesecake

Served best with a cold glass of milk! Enjoy!

Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies Redux

5 Apr

Remember when I made the Hershey Chocolate Thumbprint cookies during my Christmas baking spree? Well I decided to make them again, this time to take with me on my trip to Fresno, CA for Grand Assembly (GA) for California Rainbow For Girls (CRFG). I hadn’t attended GA since 2008, as life just kept getting in the way. I was in France in 2009, then I was working shows in Los Angeles, and while I am in a show this year, I was able to sneak away for 36 hours in order to attend my 10 year reunion with my fellow Whimsically Wacky Walruses. My year as a Grand Officer is a highlight of my life. I met so many amazing people, traveled all around the state and to Pennsylvania. As I’ve said before, Rainbow changed my life, and the ladies I served with are still among my close friends, and while many of us hadn’t seen each other in at least five years (some it had been a full 10!) it was like we hadn’t missed a beat.

Most of the 52 of us made it to our 10 Year Reunion Dinner. Still fabulous after 10 years!

Most of the 52 of us made it to our 10 Year Reunion Dinner. Still fabulous after 10 years!

Because I can’t go anywhere these days without making something (and for Rainbow events if I don’t show up with cookies from me and/or my dad hearts sink a little), I decided to make my Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies from my Hershey cookbook. Since it’s Rainbow that got me to start collecting Hershey stuff it was only fitting I bring cookies with Hershey kisses on them! This time though I wanted to try something a little different, and while at first it seemed my blondness had struck me down, it became a happy accident for a delicious new cookie! Instead of rolling the cookies in nuts I thought I would roll them in toffee bits.

Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies With Toffee Bits ready for the oven! Little did I realize what would happen next....

Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies With Toffee Bits ready for the oven! Little did I realize what would happen next….

And the toffee bits melted....

And the toffee bits melted….

Filled with Vanilla frosting and waiting for the Hershey Kiss to be pressed in.

Filled with Vanilla frosting and waiting for the Hershey Kiss to be pressed in.

Welllll, I sort of forgot that the toffee bits would melt (which they did), so for about half an hour while they cooled and I continued making more cookies sans toffee bits, I was disheartened that my idea didn’t work. Once I put my final batch of cookies in the oven I decided to try one. Oh. My. God. I had my roommate Janelle try one too and we were both very satisfied. So delicious there are no words to describe it. I gave one to my boss at work (who is a foodie) as well as my parents when I went home that Friday night. We were all in agreement, I had a new cookie that was oh so good. Yay for happy accidents! Will have to make an entire batch that way now! Enjoy!

Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies With Toffee Bits on the right and regular on the left.

Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies With Toffee Bits on the right and regular on the left.

The Liebster Blog Award

26 Jan

Wow! I was nominated for The Liebster Blog Award from my fabulous blog mentor Mary Ann Williams (aka, School of Moxie)! When I received her post on Facebook I was so stoked that I almost squealed aloud in my office! But I didn’t, I kept my decorum and squealed on the inside. It was because of Mary that I started blogging and my followers have been steadily growing (I think I got my first Facebook follower that I have absolutely no personal connection to which is pretty exciting!). After reading Mary’s post of her own nomination, I immediately googled it and discovered it’s been around for a couple of years and it’s for small, upcoming blogs with fewer than 200 followers (although at one point it was more like 3000 followers-huh?), and once you receive the nomination/award you must nominate fellow bloggers that you love. There are a few simple rules:

liebster_award_badges

Liebster Award Rules and Requirements

  1. Post eleven facts about yourself.
  2. Answer the questions the nominator has set for you and create eleven questions for the people you’ve nominated.
  3. Choose eleven people (with fewer than 200 followers) to give this award to and link them in your post (can’t include your nominator)
  4. Go to their page and tell them.

So while I don’t always like starting where I’m suppose to, I’ll start with the first one: facts about me.

  1. This is my favorite: I’m either 1/8 or 1/16 Chinese. My maternal grandfather was born and raised in China and is at least half Chinese. His father was a Swedish businessman but we don’t have a lot of information regarding his mother as she was raised in an orphanage.
  2. I hate “diets”, especially fad diets. The idea of cutting entire types of food out of your diet or feeling ashamed if you decide to eat dessert is just wrong. When people go on diets and then “cheat” they inevitably feel guilty and more often than not they go off their diet. I believe in learning how to eat right-right portions and the right types of foods. Did you know that a piece of steak should be about the size of a deck of cards? Think about that the next time you go out to eat.
  3. I’m a huge Friends fan! I can quote probably every single episode and relate most life events to episodes of Friends. Yes, I’m that geek.
  4. I’m OCD about odd things, most noticeably my books. I can’t buy them if they have a “movie” cover, and if it’s a series, they all have to be with the same cover art. Insert laughter here.
  5. I love to cross-stitch. When I’m caught up on other work I love to watch a movie or a bunch of TV and cross-stitch a project (see below for a favorite project of mine).
  6. I had a breast reduction. And I’m damn proud to say it. I always encourage women to talk to their doctors about their choices. I was fortunate that I had insurance when I got mine. My mom likes to say I have a BMW on my chest now.
  7. I love to read. Had I not chosen acting as a career I may have been a librarian in another life. And I love reading real books, not e-books. The smell of a book is something I never get tired of. Drop me in a used bookstore and I’ll spend money that I don’t have in a minute.
  8. I love to cook and bake. (Hello-that is what my blog is about right? lol) And I dream of one day having a big fancy kitchen and hosting lots of dinner parties with all those fun party dishes I see at Pier One.
  9. I collect walruses. I’m the happiest girl in the world when I see one. No joke. It was my mascot when I was a state officer in the California Rainbow For Girls and they’ll never leave my life. Ever.
  10. I’m a country girl at heart. I grew up in the country and as much as I’ve grown to love LaLa Land, every time I spend time back in Three Rivers I remember how much I love the country. My favorite song of all time is “Cowboy Take Me Away” by the Dixie Chicks.
  11. I started acting because my older sister was doing theatre and I wanted to do everything she did. I honestly don’t know if I’d be an actor without her. Love you Liz.

Now for the questions that the always fabulous Mary has asked:

  1. What was your inspiration for starting your blog (and for some of you a business, as well)? The fabulous Mary Ann Williams and her School of Moxie blog. As an actor I knew I wanted to do something on the web, but I don’t consider myself a writer, but after watching Mary and hearing the joy it brought her, it just became the obvious thing to do. Once I came up with the cooking idea it all fell into place rather quickly (like one weekend).
  2. If you were a cereal, what kind of cereal would you be?  And why? This is hard. And odd. And as an actor there’s always some teacher who asks a question in this vein and I’ve always hated it. But if I had to choose I guess it would be Honey Nut Cheerios. It’s a little bit sweet, but still good for your health. I like to think that’s me.
  3. If you won a million dollars, what would you do with it? Just like Mary said, I know there would be taxes taken out so it wouldn’t be a true million dollars (damn). After paying off my student loan and credit card debt, I’d take a chunk and finally start that 401K I’ve been saying I would start for the last 18 months. Then I would take another chunk and donate it to the various non-profits and schools that have made a difference in my life: CAIORG, Woodlake High School, Three Rivers Elementary School, Towne Street Theatre, The Blank Theatre, Alzheimer’s Research, Camp Sunshine Dreams and the Sigma Kappa Sorority Foundation. I’d also take another chunk and finally take care of some dental work I need, and then I’d buy a set of non-stick pans along with a set of nice knives. I’d make sure there was a small chunk to put in my checking account too, so that I could still pay my bills. But if there was any left over, I’d buy myself a pretty dress and a pair of shoes to go with it. Yup. I’m kind of a geek, but that’s what I’d do.
  4. Vanilla or chocolate? Um, chocolate-duh! always.
  5. Shaken or stirred? Stirred. Have you ever had a tequila sunrise? Gotta stir those.
  6. If you weren’t blogging about the topic you write on now, what else would you blog about?  Books. Definitely books.
  7. What does your ideal day look like?  Have you ever had one of those yet? This is über hard and I had to sleep on this question, but here it goes. I’d wake up and after a quick jog and a yummy breakfast, I’d head to set for a show or movie I get to work on. At the end of the day I’d relax with the man of my dreams and nice glass of wine. And no, that hasn’t happened yet. Le sigh.

And here are my nominees! I don’t follow that many blogs (does that make me a bad blogger? Oh well.) so I don’t have the requisite 11, but here are the blogs I do follow and love and have less than 200 followers.

liebster-blog-award

  1. Frugal Beautiful by Shannyn Allan. She’s amazing. I met her in CAIORG and she was the first person I knew who had their own blog. I thought it was the coolest thing ever and when I met her for dinner after she moved back from Chicago she inspired me to push forward with my blog. I was a little nervous and had only discussed it with Mary, but hearing her words of encouragement helped me realize that I could do it. (And I know she was already nominated, but she’s just that amazing.)
  2. Today Be Beautiful by Jill Brown. Jill is another amazing woman I know from CAIORG. We served as state officers together and we bonded over our short statures 😉 She is a strong, funny, smart woman and she runs THREE blogs! I envy her in the most positive way ever. While I don’t follow her other two blogs I am still going to include them below.
  3. Skulls and Skeletons by Jill Brown. Her second blog and what I like to call her “fun blog”. Weird and crazy and beautiful and vintage, you’ll find all her amazing finds here!
  4. Daily Diabetic by Jill Brown. Jill is a Type 1 Diabetic and she chronicles her health here. I think being this open with the public about your health struggles is one of the bravest things a person can do. Who knows the inspiration she will bring to her readers. Rock on Jill!
  5. We’re Calling Shenanigans by Kristen and Amelia. When I found this blog I immediately started following them. They take all those crazy Pinterest Projects and put them to the test. How cool is that?! I think they’re close to the 200 mark, but not sure if they’re over. Oh well!
  6. Diary Of A Mid-Life Crisis by Susan Lee. You may remember Susan in a post last fall, No Mo Chemo Lasagna. Susan was one of my first two friends here in LA and over the last three years we’ve grown closer. She is one of THE strongest women I know. Life has dished her a number of curve balls and she keeps knocking them back. I hope that when I reach her age I’m half the woman she is.

The other blog I wanted to nominate already received the nomination in December but I’m still going to give her a shout out, at350degrees, a fabulous baking blog. The other blogs I follow all have more than 200 followers so I’ve officially run out of blogs. And now for my questions for my nominees:

  1. What was your inspiration for starting your blog? (Loved this and totally stole it from the fab Mary)
  2. If you could live anywhere in the world (besides where you currently live), where it would be?
  3. Who would play you in the movie of your life?
  4. If you could only save two things from your burning home, what would they be?
  5. If you could meet anyone from history, who would it be and why?
  6. Sweet or Savory?
  7. Medical or Law TV show?

Whew! That was the longest post ever! I hope you check out these amazing blogs and hey, maybe you’ll find a little inspiration.

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