Black and White Brownie Pops


I needed something easy to make but interesting for our Memorial Day picnic at church recently. I had eaten some brownie pops that my best friend sent me from  Shari’s Berries for Valentine’s Day and was craving them again. The brownie pops they created were adorably cute (and extremely delicious) lady bugs where the head was a dipped cherry. browniebitesMy brownie pops were very simple since I didn’t have a lot of time to make anything complicated, but it would be fairly easy to do more with these. If you are looking for a place to order from though, I can tell you the quality from these and the chocolate covered strawberries she sent me were great.


  • Brownies (I just made a box mix) – make sure you bake them for the bare minimum time so they are still gooey.
  • Powdered sugar
  • Dipping chocolate – there are many brands, follow the instructions for melting the pieces. I used Marzetti’s chocolate fruit dipping pieces because that was what I had at home.
  • Cookie sheet covered in wax paper


Cut off the edges and scrape the brownie out of the pan immediately after removing it from the oven. Put it in the refrigerator for a few minutes to cool it off, enough so you can handle it, but take it out while still warm.

imagePull off pieces of the brownie and roll them in your hands to make large gumball sized balls. (about 1 inch in diameter)

Refrigerate or freeze the balls when done to firm them up.


Take 1/2 of the balls for dipping in chocolate and the other 1/2 for dipping in powdered sugar.

image imageUsing tooth picks, roll the balls in your chocolate dipping sauce.
Put them on the waxed paper covered cookie sheet to drip. After you are finished dipping all the chocolate balls, put this pan in the refrigerator to firm up the chocolate completely.

Take the rest of the balls and roll them in the powdered sugar.





After the chocolate balls are firmed up, place all of them on the plate and enjoy!image

Tip: The chocolate covered balls did eventually start to get a bit sticky in our summer heat, though the powdered sugar ones did fine. But this would probably be better for an indoor party.

Doctor Who – Capaldi as the Doctor

Note: If you haven’t seen the series 8  – this will have spoilers. Be aware.

Full disclosure. My Doctor is David Tennant. I tell my husband this, and he has no idea what I’m talking about. For those of us who love the series, we know that we all have the one Doctor we really enjoyed watching more than the others. And then…we have our significant others in our lives who may not be Whovians and don’t want to watch the show. Yes, we sit through their shows. But they won’t watch with us. I was told recently that Doctor Who is “too hard to get into unless you’ve watched it from the beginning.” That may be, but most of us who like to watch it would be more than willing to invest the time to re-watch it with our loved ones to get them caught up to speed. Ah well. This post is not about that. It’s about Capaldi’s first season as the new Doctor. To look at that, we have to back to Matt Smith’s last couple of series.

It took me a while to get used to Matt Smith. I thought by the end of his first series, he had begun to really own the role and I finally forgave him for replacing David Tennant. I thought his relationship with River was great and the actors had a real chemistry. I liked that they expanded his companions so that it wasn’t just two series regulars each episode. I loved Rory and liked Amy. The entire arc with Clara was written well. But yes, it was time to try out a new Doctor.

I firmly believe a lot of the reason Capaldi has not grown on me is the writing for this series. Too much time was spent developing an un-needed arc for Clara Oswald rather than developing the personality of the new Doctor.

Capaldi was at a bit of a disadvantage, I felt, because Clara, had a huge and important story arc that was really finished under Matt Smith’s tenure. Her character was created because of the chemistry she and Smith shared. That chemistry is mostly lacking between her and Capaldi.

The writers will either complete a companion’s story arc under one Doctor (a la the best companion ever in Donna Noble), or they’ll extend the companion across a Doctor to give some connection with the previous incarnations. When they did this with Rose, her arc expanded into new stories that allowed her to become her own person. She matured and developed.

I felt that Clara’s story arc really should have finished with Matt Smith’s Doctor. Extending her story through this series felt forced. Her character didn’t really change and mature in any significant way. The way her love interest Mr. Pink died felt unnecessary to me, especially since we’d had an episode where she met their many-times great grandson. Who, unless we discover she’s pregnant in the typical TV melodramatic save-the-story way, will now no longer exist. After seeing the Christmas special, I’m thinking they are not going with that and are going to just accept that all of her descendants now don’t exist; that is rather depressing. Perhaps, they’ll come up with a way to bring Pink back. Who knows.

But, Capaldi still has not grown on me the way Tennant and Smith did by this point in time. He seems too stiff at times and too unpredictable. Tennant’s Doctor seemed like a man beginning to understand just how long and lonely his life had been and would be while still trying to connect with others. Smith’s Doctor developed a great feeling of weary age in a young man’s body; but Capaldi’s Doctor strikes more as a self-important grump that isn’t very trustworthy and not as wise as his younger self. Perhaps, I’m being too harsh. I do hope his version grows on me as much as Tennant’s and Smith’s. But when you have an episode with all the previous Doctors and your reaction is – “I wonder if they could just bring back either of those two?” It let’s you know that this version needs a bit more work before he becomes the real Doctor.

Sexism and Marvel

Note: Originally, I was planning on making this one post covering both Disney and Marvel and the issues they have with sexist attitudes. But I decided to split it up into two. Consider this part 1


I’m a fan of both Disney and Marvel. I love them. So this is coming from someone who wants to see something I really enjoy improve.

Sexism and Marvel

I do not believe that the folks at Marvel are all misogynistic pigs as some people truly do. But there are problems in Marvel movies and merchandising. I will address the merchandising issue in the second post since that is also a Disney issue.

Yes, Age of Ultron had some glaring problems. Many people probably missed the Prima Nocta joke. I missed it at first because I couldn’t hear what Stark said clearly. When I leaned over and asked Mike what he said, I was a bit surprised. Rape jokes are never funny. The only thing I can think is the folks at Marvel were thinking this is Tony Stark’s character. You expect him to make a stupid and ill-conceived joke like that. I would also like to think that if he tried something like that with Lady Sif, he’d discover how stupid it really was. I truly hope that is the take away that the folks writing and directing this movie had in mind.  But what it came off as was a crude and stupid joke about something that 20% of their female audience has probably experienced.  Yes. 1 in 5 women have been raped. Think about that.

The second big issue that I had with Age of Ultron was with Black Widow, the only strong female in the group. Yes, she makes a silly joke about having to always clean up after the boys, putting her in the mother role. That can be considered cute and funny. But, contrasted with her comparing her inability to have children to making her a monster like The Hulk, that joke takes on another meaning. Comparing herself to a monster because she can’t have children offended me. Here is a woman, who as part of a spy indoctrination is forcibly sterilized as a child. She is no longer able to produce a baby. That makes her a monster. Boil this down to the base thought: A woman who can’t become pregnant is no woman. I truly hope that was not what the folks at Marvel were thinking. But when the company has had so many issues with how they portray and treat women, one has to think there is a tone deafness that needs to be fixed at the company.

Final thoughts:

Here are two free suggestions for Marvel:

  1. Understand that women are your fans as well. Stop offending us.
  2. Take some of that giant profit you have and spend it to hire a consultant to read your scripts rather than the pre-pubescent boy you currently have. You might be surprised that they can still be great movies while not encouraging rape jokes or comments about what makes a woman a human being or a monster.

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Required Warning: This is going to have spoilers for this and possibly future movies.

These are my thoughts of the 2D version of the film. Mike and I got to see this movie last week. We saw this in 2D, mainly because we didn’t have a lot of choices in times since we had to get back to daycare to get The Boy, but also because it’s a bit annoying for me to watch 3D movies. When you wear glasses, having to wear a second pair over your eyes is a pain. Literally. The beginning of the film with the introductory fight scene was obviously designed with 3D in mind and probably would have looked awesome. The same holds true for the scene where Ultron is fighting his way around the ring of Avengers to get to the button. However, to me, it wasn’t worth the additional cost or hassle for two scenes to warrant 3D.

My creds:

To give an idea of where I’m coming from in looking at this movie, I’ve read some of the comics, but not a ton in recent years. I grew up watching all the Saturday morning cartoons, and have seen all the movies. We also watch Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and Agent Carter. I’ve read a lot of the back-stories online to try to catch up with what I’ve missed in the comics and I’ve talked about the stories with Mike, who has read all the comics and gives me the low-down on the story-lines. So I’m familiar with the universe, but not so much that seeing a photo in the background on someone’s desk would immediately give me a hint of a future character. I do miss things, for example, I had to poke Mike to find out why Wakanda was important after I heard him chuckle.

Overall thoughts:

This is definitely a film directed by Joss Whedon. The characters have a quick wit and humor that most people wish they had when replaying conversations in their heads. Like all of Whedon’s projects, we get to see actors that he’s worked with before. He seems to be a pretty loyal director when it comes to working with talent. He also gives a good amount of screen time not only to the big names, but to the entire ensemble and that is pretty hard to do for most directors.

I liked the movie. It had everything an Avengers movie should have: lots of explosions, lots of action, great banter between characters and hints of future tie-ins. Best line in the entire movie: Hawkeye giving a pep talk to Scarlet Witch. He’s the normal dude who goes to war with superheros armed with a bow.

Speaking of Hawkeye, I both loved and hated that they brought Barton’s family in as characters. I loved that they put the effort to develop his character and family –  since it seems he’s not going to get his own movie. I hated that this brings in the possibility for their deaths. I seriously don’t think Marvel could do that on the big screen. It’s one thing to have that happen in the comics, but when it’s splashed on a big budget action movie, that could really tear it apart. Please, please Marvel, don’t kill them off, especially the way it was done in the comics!

Nit picks:

Talk about over the top melodrama imagined death scene. Cap grabs Tony, saying “you could have saved us!” In this terrible interjection that is surprisingly loud and hale-sounding only to immediately fall back dead. On one hand, it could have been handled with a bit more understatement, but then again, this was in Tony Stark’s head. So maybe, the over-the-topness fits. Still, I don’t think  I was supposed to giggle at Cap dying. It was like watching the “I’m not dead yet!” scene from Monty Python’s Holy Grail.


I can accept the god complex since he’s Tony’s creation in this instance. But he also seemed to be a bit half-hearted about some things. This was a supervillain, who could split himself into hundreds of versions of himself, and decided to put all his eggs in one basket rather than splitting it amongst several world-destroying flying city plans (which seems a bit complicated when typed out). Who knows, maybe that’s also a by-product of being Tony’s “son.”  But when Raina makes her prediction in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, she specifically indicates multiple cities. So I had to think it was more a side-effect of movie budget and wanting to have all the heroes in one place than anything else. I also thought it was rather cute how they tried to make it look like not a single civilian was going to die as the city dropped to the ground below, or that the mass of the city was still falling and that blowing it into smaller chunks didn’t change that or affect all the people in the rest of the city that was still on the ground.

Marvel and women:

Marvel has taken some black eyes over their portrayal of women and the utter lack of female toys. I was going to write something here, but that’s a whole ‘nother post. Coming soon.

The Ending:

I was quite happy with the last scene. I loved how Whedon cut off Cap’s sentence at the perfect spot. Great way to lay the groundwork for future movies -which is exactly what a good Marvel movie should do. After watching this movie and all the others, it makes me so happy that Marvel created their own studio for these films rather than entrust their characters to another studio as they and DC had done in the past. These are the folks who know how to make a good story and that is what makes a great movie.

My recommendation:  Worth the price of full admission, once. (Though we paid matinee prices and preferred that)

Thoughts On Higher Education Conferences

Recently, I got to attend a higher education conference for our state. I was one of the presenters and had a really great time listening to what others are doing in colleges and universities around us. I’ve been to several conferences, usually as a presenter, and here are some thoughts I’ve had over the years. Let me say first, that the conference we attended this past week was really done well. For a small budget conference, we got a lot of high budget value in the talks and vendors and I would much rather attend another conference like this than some of the bigger ones I’ve been to. It was great being able to drive to the conference and have it only a couple hours from home and have the quality that we did.


This is the meat and potatoes of any conference. For those of us in higher ed, we often have two types of conferences we get. The first is the one I prefer, a conference that has others who work in higher ed talking about projects they’ve been working on. Sometimes, these are success stories, other times failures with lessons learned, but they are always informative and helpful. This is how the conference I just went to was. It was great!

The second is like a conference I went to last year. It was mostly vendors speaking. Those of us who were speaking from higher ed institutions were actually put up for speaking at the same times in the three competing tracks. That meant, they only had about 6 speakers from higher ed in two sessions and the rest of the sessions were vendors. (I’m sure I’m exaggerating slightly here, but that is how it felt at the time). Since I was one of the speakers, I only got to see one other talk from a peer and the rest were vendors.

Oftentimes, vendors have helpful things to say. They have solutions to problems we’re experiencing. But those solutions always come with a price tag attached. The difference between a vendor or a peer from another institution speaking is that they both might offer a solution, but the peer will often tell you about the solution they found that requires little to no budget. For those of us who work in higher education, we know how important it is finding a solution that is budget neutral or maybe even positive! Peers will also give talks on how to do things better, or new ideas they’re trying with training their students, or other neat ideas that just require a different way of looking at things we’re already doing than fixing a problem. Peers are the ones who challenge us to try things in new ways.


These are the companies who often pay for the conference. These folks are invariably friendly and are a great resource for finding solutions. Yes, their solutions will cost money. But it’s often better to find a good, workable solution to a problem we’re having than to try to re-invent the wheel by doing the work ourselves. One other benefit to having the vendors attend conferences is also having a good way to talk to someone involved in a company you already do business with. These folks have heard concerns and problems we might be having with their product and they will contact the company to help us find solutions to what is going on. I’ve seen vendors who hear an issue and later, their product comes out with a feature to do exactly what attendees at conferences have been asking for. Depending on the company, sometimes the vendor attendees are the ones who actually design the solution and if you meet with them at your institution, you end up just re-kindling a previous relationship at the conference. It’s a great two-way communication that is often overlooked. Plus, they usually give away cute little toys that The Boy loves. Thank you to the vendors, we really do appreciate you.

Conference Locations

Conferences often shoot for the big cities. Vegas, Orlando, Anaheim, all come to mind as prime conference locations. But those conferences I’ve been to that were in smaller cities, such as Chattanooga or Ithaca,  have often been just as interesting. It’s the content of the conference that most people are really interested in. Yes, we’d all like to have an evening to visit and site see. But if the conference doesn’t have good quality material, it can feel like a waste of time. That being said, I do love an Orlando conference since it is fairly easy to tack on a later flight and visit Disney….. Yes, I have decided. All conferences should be in Orlando or Anaheim.


It is always great when the conference can find a pleasant hotel where we won’t have to travel to the conference building from a separate hotel. Bonus, if the hotel is fairly large, you can still get most of your 10,000 step walking goal if you attend all the sessions. Sitting all day can be tiring and walking from one end of a large hotel to the other can help wake you up.


As a general rule, conference food usually stinks. It doesn’t matter if they use the hotel or if a vendor gets a good restaurant to cater one evening, the food is not going to be great. This is nothing new. It’s almost impossible to have good, hot food for hundreds of people that is kept perfectly cooked over Sterno.

The worst conference meal I ever had was where the organizers tried going high-end. I’d been to this conference a couple years before. The meal at the first one was a boxed lunch: sub sandwich, chips, cookie, drink.  Everyone was fine with this because it let us take the lunch and find quiet corners to chat with small groups. At the second conference, we had a sit down meal. Hotel staff brought us our meals. The only entree available was cubed tofu in a brown sauce with some type of vegetable I didn’t recognize. The entire meal would have fit on the palm of my hand. The presentation of the plate was great and very fancy, but even the lone vegetarian at our table thought the food was not good. Needless to say, most of us decided to not eat our expensive, conference provided meal and went out and spent our own money to get a restaurant meal afterwards. Those of us who had been at the previous conference said we would have preferred the boxed lunch. This meal did have one positive: it brought all the conference attendees together in a common joke the rest of the time, so it was a relationship builder, but maybe not in the way it was originally intended.

Lesson for conference organizers: Don’t try to impress us. If you must feed us, feed us something simple and easy. People who are attending a conference are usually on either a per diem rate or no rate depending on if the conference provides meals or not. Personally, I would much prefer to have a conference not provide me a meal so I could get a per diem rate and go out in a small group with other attendees, or even by myself, to eat at a restaurant and get something I know I’ll like.

Free Time

Every minute of the day does not need to be scheduled. I know there are some of those really out-going folks who enjoy meeting new people and talking to them for hours. My husband is one of those. Drives me insane. Birds-of-a-feather sessions are great to attend, but for those of us who are more on the introverted end of the spectrum, we are TIRED at the end of a day meeting people. We need some downtime. Don’t make me feel guilty by ducking out of a planned social gathering because I’m to the point where I don’t want to talk to another human being for a few hours. It is exhausting being outgoing for some people. Many people who meet me are surprised when I tell them I’m an introvert because I am pretty outgoing when it comes to meeting and talking to people. That is because I’m forcing myself to be outgoing. But after doing that all day, I’m pooped. Give me some time to re-charge, guilt-free please!

Final Thoughts

Higher ed conferences have different purposes to different folks. Some, I know, see them as excuses to get out of work and do something fun. Those are the folks that you never see at the sessions. Gladly, these people are pretty rare. For the vast majority of us, the higher ed conference is one of the best ways we can connect with our peers in person, get good ideas to take back to help our students, and get a bit of a handle on some of the new things that are out there. They are professional opportunities that we see as ways to improve our schools. We really appreciate when our departments are able to send us to a conference. We see it as a great way to research improvements and find solutions to problems we’ve been having. These are huge amounts of work for the folks who organize them and all of the people who volunteer to do this have my respect. The conference might not always be perfect, but the folks who plan them have put a lot of effort into them and these are people who are doing that on top of their regular jobs at colleges and universities. Thank you to everyone who has done this!