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Since I never seem to get around to sending out Christmas cards or letters, I decided to blog a bit to keep my fans updated. :-)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Cream Cheese Brownies

Here's a recipe for awesome cream cheese brownies!

2/3 cup All-Purpose Flour
1/4 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
2 oz. Unsweetened Chocolate
4 oz. Bittersweet or Semisweet Chocolate
8 oz. (1 stick) Unsalted Butter, cut into quarters
1 cup Granulated Sugar
2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
3 Large Eggs

8 oz. Cream Cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1 Egg Yolk

Preheat oven to 325°F. Spray an 8-inch square pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line pan with 2 layers of foil, with some overhang to make it easier to remove the brownies from the pan. Spray sheets with nonstick cooking spray.

Whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder in a small bowl; set aside

Gently melt chocolate and butter together being careful to not scorch the chocolate. Whisk in the sugar and vanilla; cool slightly. Whisk in the eggs, 1 at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Continue whisking until the mixture is completely smooth. Add dry ingredients; whisk until just incorporated.

Filling: In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese with the sugar, vanilla and egg yolk until evenly blended.

Assembly: Pour half of the brownie batter into the prepared pan. By spoonfuls, drop half of the cream cheese mixture over batter. Repeat, layering the remaining brownie batter and cream cheese filling. Use the blade of a table knife to gently swirl the brownie batter and cream cheese filling, creating a marbled effect.

Back until the edges of the brownies have puffed slightly, the center feels not quite firm when touched lightly, and a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center come out with several moist, fudgy crumbs adhering to it, 50-60 minutes.

Cool the brownies on a wire rack until they are down to room temperature. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 3 hours, before cutting. These are pretty tall, so you can get away with cutting them into fairly small pieces.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Comfort Zone

I like my comfort zone. It's comfortable. It's safe. It's secure. In my comfort zone, my typical Saturday starts off with a little down time -- reading a book or playing games on my ipod. Then I do some of the typical Saturday things -- laundry, errands, groceries. If I'm really inclined to be productive, I pay attention to the garden, mop the kitchen floor, and vacuum. As a reward for a job well done, I spend time with one or more friends -- share a meal, see a movie, or just chat.

Last weekend, this popped up in my google reader. Teachinfourth is a local blogger whom I started following a few months ago. At first, I didn't even realize he was local. I could tell he was in Utah, but it took me awhile to clue into the fact that he is practically next door. So...when the invite to attend "The Summer of George" arrived, I was intrigued.

Then started an internal debate -- am I cool enough? hip enough? to attend Festivus? Moreover, am I brave enough to attend a party where I will not know anyone beforehand?

On the other hand, how cool would it be to meet Teachinfourth? I've had such fun reading his blog this summer -- check out "Moments with Joey" on my sidebar if you'd like to sample his blog for yourself.

And then there's one of my mottoes -- A person can never have too many friends. Would this be a way to make some new ones?

In the end,curiosity won out and I sent my RSVP. And starting pondering what baked treat I should bring.

I didn't chicken out. I made cream cheese brownies and showed up at the appointed hour. And had fun. Teachinfourth was an excellent host, and the other guests were fun to meet and chat with. I especially enjoyed getting to know another blogger, Gerberta of Life As I Know It and her family. Her 7th grader and I had a lively chat as we discussed our favorite board games.

It was a good day to travel outside of the comfort zone!

Oh, and if anyone is interested in the recipe for the totally awesome cream cheese brownies, I will post it soon.

Friday, August 26, 2011

From Cedar City to you!

BYUtv will be broadcasting live from Cedar City on Monday, bringing viewers "A Midsummer Night's Dream" from the Shakespeare Festival. Here is a link to more information at www.bard.org.

Oh, and I saw "The Drowsy Chaperone" at the Hale Theater in Orem last night -- it was very funny. I didn't like the songs well enough to invest in a recording, but I laughed and laughed my way through it. It plays until October 1st -- surely you can find an evening between now and then when you will need a laugh, a chortle, a giggle, or two?

Monday, August 22, 2011

A nifty idea for tormenting colleagues

My office next-door-neighbor shared this today...the evil side of me LOVES it!


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Shakespeare Festival 2011

I've just returned from Cedar City, Utah where I took in three of the 2011 offerings -- The Music Man, Noises Off, and A Midsummer Night's Dream. All three were absolutely delightful!

The Music Man
There are many things to recommend this production of The Music Man. I'm not sure why, but I've seen more live productions of this one than any other musical, play, or opera. This version has just captured *first place* of all the productions I've seen. Here are some of the reasons why...

Brian Vaughn was a FABULOUS Harold Hill. I posted something to that effect on Facebook yesterday, and my High School English teacher promptly responded with "and so was your brother!" I was amazed she remembered that he played that part at the high school 25 years ago!

Laura Griffith was the best Marion (the Librarian) I've seen/heard.

The choreography was playful and fun and very well executed. I loved it when the kids in the library acted out Romeo and Juliet (which is one of the other plays at the Festival this year)

The supporting cast members left nothing to be desired!

And last, but definitely not least, there was a live pit orchestra!

Noises Off
This was a British farce in the form of a play within a play. The second act (of three) was my favorite. It takes place backstage and had me in stitches. At the first intermission, I mentioned to my friend that this one just wasn't grabbing me and she said she'd felt that way about "39 steps" last year, but then the second act just sucked her right in. Well, that's what happened for me in "Noises Off". My favorite moment came in the third act (hopefully you don't censure me for this), when one of the characters falls down a flight of stairs, headfirst. I reminded me of a skeleton run in the Olympics without a sled or helmet. I was fascinated.

Afterwards, Quinn Mattfeld, the fall-down-the-stairs fellow, made a pitch for extra donations for an Artistic Initiative project they are doing and said he would personally fall down the stairs again for anyone donating at least $20. Alas, I only had $5 on me, so while I did contribute, I did not get to see the stunt again.

A Midsummer Night's Dream
I was happy to see Kymberly Mellen (Hippolyta/Titania)again this year. She became a favorite last year as Beatrice in "Much Ado About Nothing". However, I think Bri Sudia (Helena, Max Robinson (Nick Bottom) and Ben Charles (Puck) stole the show whenever they were onstage. Bri Sudia and Max Robinson also regularly stole the spotlight in The Music Man - she as Ethel Toffelmier, he as Mayor Shinn.

This show was a lot funnier than I remember -- I'm guessing this was just the spin that this group put on it. Towards the end when Nick Bottom's "Pryamus" character is dying (as his merry troupe puts on a play for the other characters), a young child in the audience giggled -- and "Pryamus" stopped in his tracks and stared towards the area from whence the giggle has sounded - and the audience howled with laughter. He acknowledged the giggle, then resumed his dying scene. It was priceless!

One of the best things about seeing the shows in Cedar? I never know who else will be there, but I always run into someone or two!

Sidenote: if you are a David Ivers fan and/or a Brian Vaughan fan, you might want to take in the Fall season. They are both in "The Winter's Tale", plus David Ivers is in "Dial M for Murder" with Brian Vaughan directing. A friend and I will be there for the evening show on Oct 21st and the matinee on the 22nd -- come join us! Here's the website for more info: www.bard.org.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Travel humor

I noticed a short article on MSNBC this morning that led to this video about airport security procedures. The Airport Director who commissioned this should get a gold star!

Click here if you desire to read the article.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Theatre fix

Last weekend I headed up to Logan to see some of the offerings of Utah Festival Opera and Music Theatre company. My friends and I started with Don Giovanni on Friday night, followed by South Pacific and Boris Godunov on Saturday. Whew. Three very different shows, each glorious in its own way. I think my most favorites thing about UFOMT is that you see the same people in different shows/roles. By the end of the weekend, the performers feel like friends since you've seen them in multiple shows. My second favorite thing (don't worry, I'll stop here even though there are other favorites) is that the theatre itself is small enough that every seat is great and it feels quite intimate. This makes it so easy to get completely caught up and absorbed into the happenings on stage. Rejoining the real world after three hours can be shock to the system!

Next year the musicals will be Kiss Me Kate and My Fair Lady, and I am already looking forward to them.

In a few weeks I will head to Cedar for the Shakespeare Festival. This year we are seeing A Midsummer Night's Dream, Music Man, and Noises Off. That should satisfy my desire for live theatre for awhile. At least until October when we are going back for the Fall season. :-)