Showing posts with label chocolate. Show all posts
Showing posts with label chocolate. Show all posts

Sunday, August 19, 2018

How to Make the Best Chocolate Icing

Review By Funkthishouse.com
Photos: Via Pixabay
My parents moved away from their home town in Manitoba, Canada when I was about five years old. We lived in many places throughout our country, but no matter where we lived, my dad would fly his mother out (our Memere) for visits. Oh wait a minute! She would take the train, she was terrified of flying!

I sure hope Memere knew how much I loved it when she would visit.

On one visit, while sitting in the kitchen doing homework, Memere had just finished making a cake. She was about to make the icing, when I decided I had to know how she made such delicious chocolate icing. So being an inquisitive 15 year old, I stood beside her while she explained her secrets.

"What this recipe is about, isn't the ingredients, it's in the mixing, texture and general understanding of what to add and not to add to get the best chocolate icing."

Lets start with the ingredients - They're fairly standard and well known:
Added Note: 

Below 'Sylvestermouse Cynthia' asked what Icing Sugar was. In Canada we (most everyone I know) call Powdered Sugar, 'Icing Sugar'. The only brand I use is Redpath Icing Sugar.

Turns out, Redpath Sugar is a Canadian Company as well. According to it's website it's been a part of Canadian kitchens since 1854.

Being Canadian I admit I should have known that, however in my defense Redpath Sugar and Fry's Cocoa have been a part of my family's kitchen since before I was born. That's a long time ago!

Redpath Sugar carries many sugar products, including Icing Sugar. You can find Redpath Icing Sugar at Amazon.ca (not .com), and of course, learn about their products via their website.

What makes chocolate icing awesome:

To no surprise, Memere never measured any ingredients, and to this day, neither do I. 

I learned to make chocolate icing just the way she taught me; by understanding how to get the right texture.

Here's the most important tip from my Memere:
When you need to thin out the icing, do it by adding more softened butter, not more milk
She explained this further: "Because adding too much milk will quickly make the icing mixture too runny, then to fix it you'll have to add more icing sugar to recover the texture from liquid mud to icing. So to avoid this, add more butter first, not more milk"

Putting the Ingredients Together:

Although I never measure, I'll try to put some measurements to the above ingredients
  • In a deeper mixing bowl, put in about two cups of icing sugar
  • Add about half a cup of Fry's Cocoa (add more for a richer chocolate taste)
  • Butter .. hmmm.. I can't give you a measurement - maybe start with 1/4 cup of softened butter, that's 'softened', not melted, not runny, not too soft either. Ensure it maintains it's thick butter texture.
  • Add a teaspoon of pure Vanilla Extract
  • Add a teaspoon of milk, or two teaspoons if the icing is too thick to mix
  • How to know when you've nailed it - For me, I like it when the Icing is spreadable but can hold swirl peaks on the cake, in other words, not too hard, not too soft, just right. 
With a hand-mixer, mix the ingredients together. It won't be the right texture for spreading yet.

This is where the Grandma touch comes in:

If your mixture is too thin and runny, add more Icing Sugar to correct the texture. Keep mixing it with the hand mixer. If you've had to add more icing sugar, you'll need more Cocoa so add a couple of tablespoons at a time. More icing sugar dilutes the chocolate, that's the reason for adding more cocoa.

However, it's more likely the texture will be too thick.

To thin out the texture, add another heaping tablespoon of butter, a couple of drops of milk, a half teaspoon at the most! Then stop completely with adding milk.

At this point, it should be getting to the right texture. If it happens to become too runny again, then add more icing sugar. Sorry I can't give you a measurement for that, just add a tablespoon at a time.

However if it's too THICK, then keep adding softened butter, one tablespoon at a time.

Thanks to Memere, I've never used store bought icing. I always make it from scratch.

If I had to choose the key ingredient (other than butter) it would be Fry's Cocoa. That's also the cocoa we use to make the chocolate cake recipe passed down from my grandmother on my mother's side.

My kids have grown up on our homemade chocolate cake and homemade icing thanks to our grandmas on both sides - and it's the only birthday cake they want. Store bought is a no-no.

Added Tip: You CANNOT put icing on a cake until the cake is COMPLETELY cooled. I'll usually put the cake in the fridge to fully cool it off if time is an issue.

Happy Baking!



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Monday, October 23, 2017

Reviewing the Many Flavors of M&M's

Chocolate is my guilty pleasure.  M&M's are my favorite chocolate candy.  I love that I can keep a large bag of the little chocolate treats around and sometimes just one or two pieces are enough to satisfy my craving. Other times, I sit down with an entire bag. As Mars began adding different flavors to the M&M's line, I was fearful that they would ruin the original thing. We can all think of examples of when the "new and improved" isn't as good as the original. But that is not the case with M&M's. The original plain and peanut M&M's are as good as always. And the newer flavors are amazing. Are you familiar with all of the flavors? 


What are M&M's?


I can't imagine that there is a single person reading this review that doesn't know what M&M's are. But as a responsible reviewer, I will explain - just in case.

M&M's are delicious, roundish bits of chocolate covered in colorful candy shells.  

M&M's were first manufactured by Mr. Mars in the 1940s. It is thought that the idea for M&M's began in the 1930s when soldiers covered chocolate in a sugary coating to prevent it from melting. Mr. Mars created the shell coating over his small bits of chocolate for a similar reason - to be able to sell chocolate in even the warmer seasons. Thank you Mr. Mars!


Plain M&Ms and Peanut M&M's


Plain milk chocolate covered by the candy coating and peanuts covered by chocolate covered by the candy coating were the original M&M's. At least in my memory. I grew up eating them. They were my favorite thing to find in my bag at Halloween. I loved to find them baked in cookies. 


Peanut Butter M&M's

It is an entire bag of M&Ms day

More recently, Peanut Butter M&M's have been my favorite (as shown in the photo). These little treats are made with real peanut butter and I believe that is why they taste so good to me. I do not enjoy artificial peanut butter flavored candies. 


Caramel M&M's


Oh yes, caramel M&M's! I was so excited to find these on the store shelves. I love caramel treats: caramel squares, Rolos, and caramel apples - just to name a few. Even though I have been an M&M's fan over the years, I wasn't optimistic when I tried this flavor. I half expected the "soft center" to be a yucky, runny, caramel-flavored ooze. That is not at all what Caramel M&M's are like. They are delicious! 


The Many Flavors of M&M's


I guess rather than highlight each flavor, I'll just list them here. And leave it with my thought that there's not a new flavor of M&M that I haven't loved.  

  • M&M's Crispy
  • M&M's Pretzel
  • M&M's Dark Chocolate
  • M&M's Almond
  • M&M's Dark Mint
  • M&M's Dark Chocolate Peanut

Mars also offers seasonal flavors and limited editions. Some examples of those are:

  • M&M's Candy Corn Chocolate
  • M&M's Pecan Pie
  • M&M's Pumpkin Pie
  • M&M's Coffee Nut
  • M&M's Strawberry Nut

Intro photograph courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Related Links:


Amazon is one of the places that you can easily find any limited edition flavors that are still available. Have your chocolate treats delivered right to your door and eat chocolate without leaving that house. Click on one of the items below to search Amazon for M&M treats.

Are you already an M&M's fan? Do you want to design your own M&M's? Choose your own colors? Create candies that match your wedding or celebrate a special occasion. Would like like to give them as personalized gifts? Believe it or not, you can add your own letter, word, clipart, or photo with MyM&M's







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Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Chocolate Days of July in Review

Source: Pixabay

The month of July is a chocolate lovers paradise. There are two official chocolate-related days to celebrate.

July 7th is the official Chocolate Day. No one knows the origin of this day, but we wouldn't be surprised if it was created by chocolate confectioners! 

It's a day to enjoy your favorite chocolate all day long.


  • Breakfast could be chocolate cereal or chocolate cream-filled donuts washed down with a little hot chocolate. If you would rather be a bit healthier, but still have your chocolate, check out Buckhawk's Chocolate Smoothies
  • Enjoy a mid-morning snack of a chocolate candy bar.
  • How about a glass of chocolate milk with your lunch.
  • Then you could eat healthy (?) and have chocolate covered raisins for your afternoon snack. This contains both vegetable and fruit. Chocolate is a vegetable. It comes from the Cacao tree found in tropical rain forests. True fact! 




Chocolate Covered Fruit (Source: Pixabay)

 
For more fruit and chocolate recipes, check out these delicious looking chocolate covered treats by Sylvestermouse, found on her Cooking for the Holidays Site:



  • Dinner would be delicious with chocolate flavored coffee.  Dessert could be your choice of chocolate cake or pie, or chocolate ice cream if you prefer.
Brenda Little (Treasures By Brenda) brings us a special chocolate cake recipe which includes MY favorite chocolate dessert - chocolate pudding.  Check out her Chocolate Pudding Cake recipe for a mouth-watering dessert.





More Chocolate Days


If you missed Chocolate Day on July 7th, never fear.  Another chocolate holiday happens on July 28 - National Milk Chocolate Day. This is not an official holiday, but it is a favorite chocolate of millions of people and is enjoyed in candies and in baking.

Many more chocolate holidays occur throughout the year, including the whole month of February, which is known as National Chocolate Lovers Month.  For a list of more chocolatey holidays, check out the chocolate section on the blog article by Wednesday Elf about National Candy Month.

Chocolate Recipes Cookbook



Chocolate Dessert Recipes


If the recipes and suggestions here still leave you with a chocolate craving, this cookbook gives you 200 more reasons (and recipes) to enjoy chocolate in your favorite way!


Happy Chocolate Days!






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Saturday, November 1, 2014

Reviewing Chocolate Smoothies

Enjoying your chocolate is easy when you make it into a smoothie. Yes, I have gotten into smoothies lately. And since I can't not have chocolate as part of my day, a chocolate smoothie sounded great. So I went searching for the best recipes.

We'll start with the basic, high calorie, indulgent kind. Then move through some of the great options to make your chocolate smoothie healthy and nutritional beneficial.


Basic Chocolate Smoothie, or Dessert Time


It's Food.com that has the easiest and best basic recipe for a chocolate smoothie. Ice, yogurt and chocolate syrup all blended together.

Go even a step further to make the basic recipe into a full chocolate dessert. Instead of yogurt, add in ice cream. This chocoholic made a "Death by Chocolate" smoothie with chocolate ice cream, instant chocolate pudding mix and chocolate syrup. Delicious and high calorie.


Healthy Chocolate Smoothie



Get Lecithin here
The good thing about smoothies is that you can easily convert them from dessert style to nutritious style with just a few ingredients. SmoothieWeb has a yummy recipe for an Almond Joy chocolate smoothie. Not made with those candy bars, but with plenty of coconut and chocolate. The way this recipe is made, you end up with a healthy protein smoothie.

They also feature a great recipe called Help Me Study Smoothie. Besides chocolate, it includes strawberries, peanut butter and lecithin. Lecithin is a brain boosting nutrient that every cell in our body needs.


Power Chocolate Smoothies



So far, we have been talking about simple smoothies with few ingredients. But it's time to go with the power versions of chocolate smoothies. Healthy Smoothie HQ offers up recipes for more elaborate ingredients and more nutrient-rich results. 

One of my favorites is Chocolate Blueberry Spirulina Smoothie. This one is chock full of plenty of those superfoods that we can all benefit from. Not only cacao (which is the chocolate part), blueberries and spirulina (a complete protein with plenty of other nutrients), but also avocado and tahini. 

The good part about healthy smoothies is that you can basically put in any ingredients you want to end up with a powerfully nutritious and filling drink. Even if the name ends up as not truly telling what's in it, like Sexy Chocolate Smoothie, you can still enjoy the great benefits.




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Saturday, October 11, 2014

National Cookbook Month Continues with Chocolate

As we continue to celebrate National Cookbook Month on Review This, we go on to Chocolate Cookbooks. After all, if we're going to celebrate cookbooks, you just can't leave out the fabulous dessert ones.

It was a joy to review 4 different chocolate cookbooks for the website Completely Chocolate. (www.completely-chocolate.com/)   And of course, I just had to try out some of the marvelous recipes. Well, I had to make sure the cookbooks were as good as promised didn't I?

The featured cookbooks include the latest from the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company and a great one just for vegan chocolate desserts. Since I have a vegan daughter, I couldn't resist trying out those recipes. They did pass the decadent test.

Now, I will give you fair warning. Not all the recipes are easy to make. Some get quite complicated and require better chef skills than I have. These will take just a bit more practice on my part. But, even the failures were enjoyable to eat.

Each of the featured chocolate cookbooks also make great gifts. They each have beautiful
photographs, most that make your mouth water just looking at them. But, each cookbook also includes lots of extras. Things like how to work with chocolate, how to make chocolate gifts and plenty more.

Allow everyone of your family, friends and neighbors to enjoy National Cookbook Month with you. Get a copy of your favorite chocolate cookbook and try out a new recipe. A decadent dessert can work wonders for everyone.

More Chocolate Cookbooks:  www.completely-chocolate.com/wp/chocolate-cookbooks



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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Completely Chocolate and Coffee

For those of you who don't know, I am passionate about chocolate. In fact, I'm also the chocoholic contributor here on Review This. So it makes perfect sense that I would review a site devoted just to chocolate.

Completely Chocolate Site


Since we can never have too much chocolate, well in my view anyway, Completely Chocolate is an ideal way to share this passion. Of course, we can be talking about just the confection itself. But, there's plenty more.  (www.completely-chocolate.com/wp/)

If you didn't know, there are great health benefits to dark chocolate. Which is covered for all of us to read and learn more. How dark chocolate works to our benefit, some of those numerous benefits, even how much we should be eating. All pulled together on one page. I like that.

Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate:  www.completely-chocolate.com/wp/health-benefits-dark-chocolate/

How about a chocolate party? That's covered, too. Don't forget recipes. There just aren't enough ways to use chocolate in desserts. What about putting together your own recipe book? Just for chocolate treats and desserts, of course. That's included as well. Completely Chocolate is just that, completely chocolate!

Chocolate Party:  www.completely-chocolate.com/wp/chocolate-fondue-party 
Party Invitations:  www.completely-chocolate.com/wp/chocolate-fondue-party-invitations

What Goes Better with Chocolate than Coffee?


There is even a site devoted just to coffee. Now, we are talking about my favorite combination. Koffee Kingdom goes deep into the world of everything coffee. And I do mean everything. From roasting beans and how that affects flavor to the perfect Halloween coffee mugs. You can even find coffee themed home decor.
Coffee and chocolate.

My perfect kitchen is loaded with both chocolate decor and now coffee decor. And, yes, my favorite coffee flavor is chocolate.

So grab a cup of your favorite coffee, add a dash of chocolate and browse around these sites. You might just find the answer to that nagging question - what are the Review This Chocolate Contributor's favorite places on the Web? And we all want the answer to that!



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Saturday, August 2, 2014

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Yummy! We're making chocolate covered strawberries on Review This. Talk about my kind of food. Covering my favorite fruit with my favorite, well, food, and you have a treat that I just can't pass up. I am always on the look out for great pages about chocolate. Anything chocolate. And I found some.

One Can Never Have Too Many


Yes, I did get tired of seeing the number of pages that were about Chocolate Covered Strawberries. There are plenty. But, don't let that deter you. Every single one is different. Every single one gives us a unique and interesting look at these delectable treats.

Many feature how they make their own, including recipes for adding special touches. Some have recipes for making your own chocolate variations. Some show you how to make interesting and fun decorations with the chocolate covering. Others show you where to buy ready-made chocolate covered strawberries.

Featured Pages to Share


In other words, your own way of making chocolate covered strawberries always has a place on the Web. Here I feature 2 of those pages just to show you some of the variations.

The first page is one of those great "how-to's." How to Make Chocolate Covered Strawberries is by our own Sylvestermouse. She walks you through the basics. And she uses my cooking motto: fast and easy. Her yummy treats are definitely fast and easy. Whether you are dipping strawberries for the very first time, or you are a gourmet chocolate chef, you will enjoy her page.

Kinworm gives us great tips on making unusually decorated strawberries. If you are adventuresome, you might try your hand at here plaid chocolate covered strawberries. It sounds easy to me. In How to Decorate Chocolate Covered Strawberries, she also gives you plenty of ready-made versions that will make great gifts or even inspiration for your own artistic talent.




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Saturday, July 26, 2014

The History of Chocolate

You learn the most interesting things on the Web. For me, it's the history of chocolate. OK, what else would it be considering I'm a major chocoholic. It also turns out, I'm a bit of a history buff, too. So lisadh's page, Who Invented Chocolate: The Sweet History of Chocolate was a treat for me.

The Cacao Bean


In case you don't know, chocolate is made from grinding cacao beans into a fine powder. Then that powder is mixed with liquid. Anything from oils to heavy creams will create the various types of chocolate. The more ground cacao bean in the mix, the darker the chocolate.

The cacao bean grows on a bush similar to the coffee bean. So I guess the question should be who discovered that grinding these beans will make something different? And lisadh tells us.

Thank You Christopher Columbus


More that I learned from Who Invented Chocolate was that we have lots to thank Christopher
Columbus for, including introducing the cacao bean to Europe. He brought the bean to Spain where the powder was used to make chocolate drinks.

Of course, that are many other people who had their hand in developing the confection that we now enjoy. Lisadh gives us a good overview of the various names that are credited with these developments.

Fun Chocolate Trivia Facts


Besides the amazing history of chocolate, lisadh also gives us some fun trivia facts. If you are a trivia fan, these are for you. My favorite is the last one. In the movie "Psycho" chocolate syrup was used as the blood in the famous shower scene. Can't you just imagine how great that set smelled? Yum.

Along with Who Invented Chocolate, you can find plenty of pages loaded with great trivia facts. I include lots of trivia in my pages as do many others. If you love chocolate like I do, you will certainly enjoy the trivia found by lisadh.

You can share you own favorite trivia facts, your favorite chocolate recipe, or just about anything you consider a favorite through Web pages. If you love it, you will write about it with passion and fun. And that's what makes a great page. So what are you waiting for?


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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Release Your Inner Chocolate Story Teller

Riddle me this, Batman. What's special about chocolate for you? Well, let go and tell your chocolate story. Allow that child in you to release the joy. In my mind, chocolate is about joy, so you are going to get the benefit of my story.

My story will be part example for you, and part my own release of that inner story teller. As your favorite chocoholic, I get to share my joy with many.

My Chocolate Story


Every summer of my childhood, we traveled to my grandmother's home. For years, she had ready my older sister's favorite, butter pound cake. Then one year, she made a Devil's Chocolate Cake. I remember clearly that first bite. The creamy texture on my tongue, the indulgent flavor on my taste buds, the immediate need to have more. I was hooked.

Oh, yes, Gramma's Devil's Chocolate Cake was one of those highlights of my summer from then on. She even joked that her cake was more important to me than her. Uhhh...no wait, it really was a joke.

But, that memory still joyfully bounds around my brain whenever I see a chocolate cake of any kind. Whether that was my first introduction to chocolate, I don't know. I do know it was my first memory of eating that yummy confection. And I will be forever grateful to Gramma for giving it to me.

Go Ahead, Release Your Own Story


My story was about a memory. Yours maybe, also. But it doesn't have to be. It can be about anything
that makes chocolate special for you.

Easy Chocolate Mousse by Jodi_K includes her story. A young girl who could even make dessert for the family. Honestly, this looks like my kind of chocolate dessert.

If you have a great story, share it. It doesn't need to be a dessert recipe, it can be any story about your own inner chocolate... Er, inner chocolate story teller. Anyway, write your own story, with or without recipe and let me know. You may just find yourself featured by this chocoholic!




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Friday, March 21, 2014

Creating Chocolate Fun in the Kitchen

Go ahead, admit it. You love getting creative in the kitchen. And when it involves chocolate, whoa, even better! Throw in a healthy helping of laughter and you just can't have more fun. Aren't you drooling to find out what I'm about to tell you? Well, get ready. It was all around a Web page.


So, stop thinking about making a page as boring writing. Thinking of it as telling your story of the day you decided to make Chocolate Lab Cupcakes. Of course, chocolate is involved in this.

The Story of Chocolate Lab Cupcakes


Our very own Cooking for the Holidays reviewer makes amazing cupcake creations. Snowman Cupcakes, I just had to try my hand at making Snowman Cupcakes myself. My first mistake was not following her directions. But, my hilariously miserable attempt turned into a page.


My second mistake was failing to use chocolate. Ergo, the idea of Chocolate Lab Cupcakes was born. Don't you know the entire effort, which took all afternoon and into the evening, was documented in photos. This was meant to be a page, you know.

Creating Fun in the Kitchen


In my kitchen that day, I was quite busy creating chocolate fun. OK, my kitchen turned out to be a mess. But, the clean-up was worth it! A day of hilarious fun was set up to be a Web article.

My bet is that many of you enjoy getting creative in the kitchen. Whether a masterpiece like the amazing Snowman Cupcakes, or one hilariously miserable attempt like my Snowman Cupcakes, a Web article is easily available from it. 

Don't forget to add the chocolate. Because, well, everything tastes better with chocolate.

Take bunches of photos of the whole process. Even jot down some of the jokes that came from your attempt. Or jot down serious notes if you must.

That combination of notes and photos can easily turn into an article. A page that will forever give you the memories of one time of creating chocolate fun in the kitchen.




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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Sharing Chocolate Recipes

Favorite recipes are always fun to share with others. Anything chocolate is a favorite of mine. So share your chocolate recipes with me. Well, lots of other people, too. Simply by writing them out as Web articles.

Chocolate cake, chocolate brownies, hot chocolate, dipping chocolate. Whatever recipe you love can be shared.



Along with your actual recipe, feel free to offer tips or suggestions. Things that you've found to make it easier, tastier, or more elegant. Even offer some of the unique products needed to make your recipe. You can choose your products from the amazing number available
through Amazon.com.

  • Is your brownie recipe called the best ever by your family and friends? Then share it like Pukeko did here. 
  • Do you like to add interesting ingredients to your chocolate brownies? Then share it like I did with my Decadent Brownies. 
  • Maybe chocolate eclairs are a specialty of yours. ItalasDesigns shares her recipe.
  • If hot chocolate is your thing, share your favorite way to make it. Sylvestermouse shares hers here.

No matter what kind of chocolate recipe you have, you can share it. When you finish, be sure to share it by adding your link in the comments below. That way I can feature your chocolate recipe page. Being the chocoholic that I am, mostly likely I will be trying out your recipe, too.


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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Meet BuckHawk, Review This Writer


Writing is more than a passion for me, it's part of my life. So when the opportunity came to write on Review This, I grabbed it. With my pen name, BuckHawk, I'm thrilled to be one of the featured writers here on Review This.

You can find me on Review This writing about chocolate, recipes, holidays, toys, home decor and online writing tips. And as we go along, count on me adding more topics to my list. You can read my reviews all you want.

 

The History of BuckHawk Writing


Online writing was another progression in my long history of writing. And yes, writing everything from business proposals to cozy mystery novels. In early 2006, I started writing online product descriptions. And went from there to writing online articles and pages.

By the time 2010 rolled around, I was launching my first website. While I continued to write for online sites like Squidoo, Wizzley, Hubpages and a few others, I put my focus on writing for my own growing list of focused websites.

All the time striving to improve my writing style, making it more readable for the online audience. I'm happy to report that both my articles and sites earned accolades and awards. I'm doing something right!

 

My Online Writing Name


Starting out online was a venture that I needed as the director of an animal rescue center - my other major passion. Fund raising via the Internet became a reality and my writing helped with that effort.

The name of the animal rescue center is BuckHawk. It was a simple choice to make my online pen name the same.

My online writing is still a benefit to the Center and probably always will be. That is where my two major passions intersect. 




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Review This is Dedicated to the Memory of Our Beloved Friend and Fellow Contributor
We may be apart, but You Are Not Forgotten

Susan DeppnerSusan Deppner