Thursday, July 31, 2008

Summer Reading

My friend Erica has just published a book of short stories
(and weirdly enough many are set in Nebraska.)

If she wasn't such a nice person, I'd be totally jealous.

OK, I am totally jealous, but here's a blurb and a link in case any one wants to check them out.


Being haunted by unspeakably bad childhood photos, you would think I would have more compassion for my own children. I promised myself if I ever had kids I would never dress them up like Anne Geddes geraniums or humiliate them in any photographic fashion.

I would take an equal number of photos of each child and I would always treat them with the utmost dignity. Alas, I have not kept my promise. I think, however, it is a genetic anomaly that was passed down by our mother.

Case in Point : Sister Number One

The hat. The gloves. The patent leather shoes. Notice the matching purse.

In my estimation, this is a fine photo. (Trudy might beg to differ.) Especially when compared to the sorry snapshots of a fourth-born:

Of the seventeen pictures that were actually taken of me during my youth, nine of them could qualify as a mild form of kiddie porn.

Katie noticed it too as you can see in the caption she created on the Christmas calendar that she made. Strangely, none of Sister Number Two's horrible photos ended up in the calendar. At least none of the horrible childhood photos.

Adolesence is another story. This smashing shot, taken in 1987, really highlights our keen Schnell fashion sense.

And once again, Trudy looks lovely in her best formal attire. It's a little known fact that our gorgeous Sister Number One had the potential to become America's Next Top Runway Model. Hence, her credo "Happiness is a fashion show."

The 70's weren't always cruel. Here's one where we all look pretty good:

And here's one in the 60s with our Mulberry Tree growing Great Grandmother (and of course Trudy, the star of all albums):

Here we are in the 90s.
I think this was when the potographer asked if this was a "Four-Generation Photo."

I just like it because I've never had such curly hair before or since. Something about this California climate is very bad for fine hair.
I'll wrap this post up with a mother-daughter moment.

Here's me in front of Grandma Lou's with my snowman.

Here's Is in the same spot with her snowman. (Not as much snow that day though.)

Sister Two: You mentioned the "Happiness is being in a style show letter". I found it.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The best fruit pie ever

My aunt was the first to tune me into Pioneer Woman. My family life is so similiar and I can relate to all her cow stories. I know I will never make potatoes the same way again. I love her website

Because I live in the boon docks, I'm often at my aunt's house eating my peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch. Or just hanging out there, while the girl's are at one of their many activites. By the way, thanks for the home away from home.
We are often talking about cooking and Sue is always tellling me to put into the blog,
like Pioneer Woman does.

So for those of you they say I'm copying Pioneer Woman's style...... I am.
But I think there is enough room out in cyber space for all of us.

One of my favorite things to do is watch Food Network. I love Semi Home Made with Sandra Lee. It's the only way to cook. If something gets made from scratch at my house, it's becuase we ran out of the ingredient. And then it's just noodles and once in a blue moon a loaf of bread (zuchinni).

Okay Aunt Sue.... this is for you.

I'm been getting all the women's magazines with pretty pictures of pies on them. So I have been craving a fruit pie. Since Anderson won't send me any of his strawberries, I'm forced to buy them.

I picked this up at Safeway for $7.99. I realize that would buy 2 gallons of gas. But pie is better. Unless I'm walking to town, because I ran out of gas. Which just so happened to me this morning. As someone forgot that the gauge doesn't work on the pickup! Another story.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees along with the pie cooking sheet.

This coooking sheet was my grandmother's. I love it for baking pies.

Next, take the pie out of the box.

To give the pie a homemade look.

Mix one beaten egg with 2 oz. of water.

Mixture after beaten.

Brush over the top of pie crust. Do not do the edges.

Place pie in preheated oven on the cooking sheet.

Either use one of these handy dandy rings or foil to prevent over browning of edges.

Close oven door. Set timer for 60 long minutes. Go do the dishes. Make supper. Tell the kids again that the pie is still not done.

Remove finished pie from oven. Doesn't it look pretty.

Okay, the box says to let it cool. But in reality, does anyone ever let it cool. . Unless of course you just made a merguine pie.

You should serve with ice cream or cool whip.

It was the best fruit pie ever. It had strawberries, rhubarb, raspberries, and blackberries. It brought back memories of Granny's mulberry tree. I want to plant a mullberry tree. Where would I order that from.


Need Help With A Name

     Meet our latest bit of insanity.  Do you guys remember how we decided no more animals? 
Yeah, that was a golden retriever and one kitten ago.  
This sweetheart showed up at the office.  It was near the door but hidden in a cement block and panting like crazy.  Karen had offered it water, but it wasn't interested so she called me.  I did the same thing and cautiously picked her up.  She bolted, but we managed to nab her.  She instantly began purring.  Do you know how hard it must be to purr while panting?  Cyndie, the pessimistic, gloom and doom, office worker declared it was distemper and it was dying.  I didn't think it was distemper .... her eyes were clear and she didn't smell at all.  Her nose was crusted over and she continued to pant, even in the cool office.  I got on the internet and searched her symptoms and decided she had an upper respiratory infection.  Karen was taking her dog into the vet the next day so she said she would just take her along.  
     She couldn't wait and took her in yet that night.  My computer-chair diagnosis was correct and she got amoxicllin drops.  It didn't take but a day or two before she was looking and acting much better.  Unfortunately Karen is allergic to cats.  She had decided to bite the bullet and live on Claritin, but that didn't even seem to help.  So of course I volunteered to take her.  Sucker that I am.
     But she needs a name and nothing is coming that seems to fit.  Karen had been calling her Missy, but I think my Missy from the Zoo Crew might be offended.  Of course my niece and nephew have the same names as a rabbit and dog that I had.  So maybe that's not such a bad thing. We'll see what they think as they get older.  Do you suppose they'll really believe that Mom and Dad had no clue?
So any suggestions and ideas would be welcome.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Up Close and Personal

This little guy has taken up residence in my front pond. He seems to think he owns the place and didn't even flinch when I began snapping his picture.

He spends a good part of his day swimming around. The orange underneath him is one of the goldfish that I moved from my back pond. It likes to nibble on the frog's back legs.

I've also discovered that we now have snails, a tiny toad and minnows that are barely visible with the naked eye. It will be interesting to see what happens with all of the minnows.

For the past two years, I have ordered Heritage Raspberry plants from Gurneys. Each year I have purchased 18 plants, and put them in the ground and babied them.

Lat year they all died within a month of being planted. I chalked it up to being too hot because they didn't arrive until the end of June. I just figured that they didn't have a chance to get established before the heat set in.

This year, however, I ordered extra early and they arrived in late March/early April. I planted them right away and lucked out with no late frosts. They took off and looked great.

However, Goliath and Chip laid on two of them. Bless their hearts. Snapped 'em right off at the base. I was hopeful that the roots were intact and they would send up another shoot. No such luck.

So I'm down to 16. Six just never really grow. They would get one little leaf and then it would shrivel and dry up. I thought perhaps they weren't getting enough water so I upped the water schedule. That didn't seem to matter.

Little by little, my number has dwindled until I am down to three plants. But, even though I only have three measly plants, I am pleased to announce that I harvested my first crop of berries. You wouldn't believe how long it took!

Next year I am going to order 100 plants. With any luck I should end up with at least a dozen berries then!

Now, if you'd like to talk about weeds ..... I am a champion grower. I weeded all of the gardens/flowers before we went to Vegas. You sure can't tell it now. I spent an hour tonight pulling grass out of the strawberry patch. Of course, I can't get grass to grow out front where I have planted it. I think maybe I'll plant strawberries instead and then I might actually have a lawn.

The back pond isn't even visible anymore .... between the weeds and the chocolate mint (which is nothing more than a weed that smells good). Who knows what is living back there?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Santa Cruz Trip

We spent the weekend in Santa Cruz because Andrew had a dentist appointment on Friday. (He's had the same dentist since he was a kid.) We went to a cool Farmer's market at Cabrillo College.
Isabella got a big old ear of corn

and a humongous balloon horse from the balloon guy.

(You can tell she's related to the person who was told to go buy a balloon at the circus and came back with a twenty dollar elephant instead of the $1.50 Mickey Mouse kind.)

Then we went to Watsonville and picked strawberries.

I don't know if you can tell from this picture, but Anderson is double fisting berries plus his cheeks are packed full. He will probably be very annoyed some day because he had to wear his sister's pink hat because we couldn't find his red one.

The next day at Rio Del Mar Beach, we made Isabella into a sand mermaid

Anderson liked running after the waves

and playing with Agnes.

I was very excited when a little critter came close to shore. I think he thought the body surfers were seals because they were wearing all black wetsuits.

We bought a bunch of veggies while in Santa Cruz. Because they grow so much in that area, it's really cheap. They had 20 artichokes for $1 and crazy sales like that.
Even though it's really hot here, we were still glad to be home. The kids both took a three hour nap today because we're still recuperating from all of the running around we did in Santa Cruz.

Friday, July 25, 2008

I'm Home, I'm Exhausted and I'm NEVER Flying Frontier Again!

I had hoped to post while I was in Vegas. In fact, I carried my 18 pound laptop with me for that purpose. Connect fees were a mere $11.99 per day; however, if one forgot to lug their 18 pound laptop with them, they provided kiosks where one could connect for 25¢ a minute!

Missy and Jamal, our Zoo Crew, showed up last Thursday to stay the week with the beasties and do water duty for all of the weeds. Can't let them go while I'm gone.

On Friday morning, Missy and I got up early to do the morning chores. I had written her a 33 page instruction manual for her convenience. Fortunately, that didn't scare her off.

We finished packing. Actually to be honest, we started packing. Why rush things? We weren’t leaving town until 1. Somehow we managed. We even went to town to see Mom before we left.

We picked up Vicki and Ken and drove to Longmont. Mary was kind enough to offer to drive us to DIA so we didn't have to pay to park the car. Of course, we didn't tell her beforehand that we were flying out at 9:04 p.m.

We ate supper at Qdoba's, my favorite place to eat in Longmont, and then we headed for the airport. Check-in was very smooth and uneventful, leaving us with two hours to kill. We should have spent it in the bar. Had we only known that we needed to!

We finally boarded the plane when we SHOULD have been landing in Vegas. They were just a little behind schedule. However, the arrival and departure board had stated that they were on-time .... right up until the actual time they were supposed to show up and then they indicated the flight was delayed.

So now, instead of arriving at 10:29 like we were supposed to, we finally arrived just before midnight. We had all been up since 5 a.m. and were beginning to get a little grumpy. It took nearly two hours to pick up our luggage, get our rental car and drive to the motel. Dani texted me at about this time to see where we were and if we were having fun yet. Ummmm, no..... but little did we know that the real fun was just about to begin.

We arrived at the motel. Circus Circus hides their lobby behind and around three casino floors with poorly marked signage. Do you suppose there is some psychology to this? It only took us three tries to finally find where we were supposed to check in. We had chosen this motel because:
a). it was cheap
b). it was directly across from the Riviera
where the conference was being held
c). we didn't know better

We were on the 14th floor so we get into the elevator and go to the fourteenth floor only to discover that rooms 14732 and 14733 did not exist. We wandered down hall after hall trying to find the right tower with the right 14th floor.

Had we known that the motel and Vegas in general would look like this at all times, we would have reconsidered!

The next day we were scheduled for a Gray-Line tour. We had arranged this on-line. It was a day long tour that took us to the Ethel M chocolate factory, a riverboat cruise on Lake Mead, and a tour of Hoover Dam. We were to meet at
the clown sign at 8:25. Keep in mind that we hadn't gotten to our room until after 3:00. Naturally, they were late at didn't get there until after 9:00.

Our first stop was the Ethel M chocolate factory and cactus botanical garden. Of course, they weren't working because it was Saturday so all we got to see were empty rooms of equipment. It wasn't very exciting, but we enjoyed the free strawberry chocolate sample at the end of the tour.

I kind of went crazy with my camera in the cactus garden.

I really liked this particular cactus ...
... and this blooming one ...
... not to mention the Mexican Bird of Paradise.

Do you suppose this will grow in our zone?

I didn't know that creosote came from a tree.

Martini, anyone?

I really liked this tree, but could never find a label telling me what it was. So I still don't know, but I'm guessing it won't grow in good old Nebraska.

If anyone knows what it is, let me know.

I told you I went crazy with the camera.

Mardell really liked the palm trees.

We wanted to buy chocolate there, but it was 108 degrees and we were opposed to expensive chocolate soup, but I did get Dani and Krista a small memento for back to school.

Our next stop was Lake Mead where we went on a paddleboat cruise.

We had time to kill before the cruise started and the cruise line thoughtfully sold food to feed to the scavengers. Bags of popcorn were only $3.60.

Before we got on the paddleboat, they took our picture for posterity .... or else to identify the bodies in case of a disaster.

Would you believe this is the first picture of the two of us together for many, many years? We even look happy.

At least happier than Vicki, my co-teacher. She was threatening to do mean things to me with my camera if I took her picture.

Her hubby was oblivious to us. Or at least pretended to be. When we started talking about the book shelves he was building for our class room, he tuned in.

Lake Mead provides a great place for recreation. You can see how the level has dropped as the water is used for municipal water in Vegas. It drops about a quarter inch every day.

We really enjoyed the cruise.
We ate lunch on the ship and had the opportunity to walk along the deck and take pictures.

Jet skis whizzed by,

people were tubing,

and sailboats lazily floated by.

After the cruise, we went to Hoover Dam and took the tour into the belly of the dam. We were directly underneath the stored water. It is 726.4 feet from foundation rock to the roadway on the crest of the dam. The towers and ornaments on the parapet rise 40 feet above the crest.

This is the generator room on the Nevada side. The Arizona side has one more generator. All in all, there are 17 main turbines in the Hoover Powerplant. The original turbines were all replaced through an uprating program between 1986 and 1993. With a rated capacity of 2,991,000 horsepower, and two station-service units rated at 3,500 horsepower each, for a plant total of 2,998,000 horsepower. The plant has a nameplate capacity of about 2,080 megawatts. This includes the two station-service units, which are rated at 2.4 megawatts each.

Can you believe I remembered this? I didn't .... I googled it as I was doing this. It was very impressive. More impressive than my memory.
Here are a few more facts to impress you. Hoover Dam provides generation of low-cost hydroelectric power for use in Nevada, Arizona, and California. Hoover Dam alone generates more than 4 billion kilowatt-hours a year - enough to serve 1.3 million people.

All in all, it was a great way to spend my 45th birthday. Even if it was 108 degree with 65% humidity! So much for dry heat!

We got back to the motel and only spent 45 minutes looking for our room. I think they move the towers around while you are out of the room ... just so that you'll have to walk through their casinos to find them.

The next morning Vicki and I rose very early so that we could beat the crowd to pick up our packets for the conference. It was held at the Riviera.

The Riviera probably is better known for this image. You wouldn't believe the number of men who get their pictures taken next to this!

By the time we were done for the day, Vicki and I were exhausted. The conference was superb and we were pleased with the sessions that we had chosen for the day. The best part was the exhibit hall. Many, many vendors with lots and lots of books. So much for our pact not to buy any more books!

Mardell was brave and drove to the Fabric Boutique quilt shop. After having ridden with Ken to Circus Circus from the airport, I thought she was crazy, but she was back in the room unscathed when I returned.

I crashed for about an hour and then we braved up and ventured out amongst the masses to get supper. We ate at The Garden Grill. We had margaritas, crab and shrimp nachos and a scrumptious desert called Crepes of Cajeta. The margaritas were for medicinal purposes ... of course!

The next day Vicki and I attended the conference again. We bought more books. It seems that they put new ones out on the 50% off table each morning. Of course, we were compelled to check them out!

That night Mardell booked us a Neon Lights Night Tour. It was fabulous and well worth the money.
Our first stop was Caesar's Palace. We browsed around the forum shops while we waited for the fountain statues to come to life. This alone was worth battling the crowds!

The Luxor has the strongest beam of light in the world. It costs $56 an hour to power it.

Next we went to Bellagio's. We got to see the fountain as well as the indoor garden, glass flower ceiling, and a chocolate fountain that was one story tall.

Our last stop was Fremont Street for the Fremont Street Experience. We had $1.99 shrimp cocktail at The Gold Nugget while we watched the light show.
We arrived back at our motel after 11. It was a great evening and we both enjoyed it very much.

The rest of the time was spent at the conference. Vicki and I bought so many books that we had ship them home because they wouldn't fit in our luggage. Fortunately the Riviera thoughtfully provided a UPS shipping site in their Convention Center.

Vicki took Ken, Mardell and I out for supper at The Steak House for our birthdays. It was very expensive .... I ordered medium rare prime rib. It was literally mooing when it came to the table. I've gotten away from eating such rare meat .... I usually order medium to medium well anymore. But the coolest part of the meal was the pats of butter. I also had black bean soup which was delicious. It was a lot of fun and took me back to eating at the Country Club with Grandad Jiggs and Grandma Lou. The interior was dark like it used to be out there.

That left Thursday for us to play tourists. Ken and Vicki stayed to gamble while Mardell and I ventured out into the city. We went to a few more books stores, the quilt store, a fabric store and we ate lunch at Olive Garden. We picked Ken and Vicki up at 3:30 and returned the car to the rental place. Checked in our luggage and went through security. Our flight was scheduled for 8:04 so our timing was good.

I spotted an Ethel M chocolate store so I went to buy some more of the strawberry chocolate candies that we liked so well. The store was closed with a sign that they would re-open in fifteen minutes. The slots were close by so I put $5 into a Texas Tea machine and played. I was down to 33 credits when it hit and I won $59.10. I cashed out and then put $5 back in and hit $11.25. I figured that was about all the luck I would have, so I quit.
I bought us a sandwich at Wolfgang Puck's and some chocolate covered strawberries for supper. I figured that would tide us over until we got to Denver.

Our plane was late .... of course. It finally arrived at 8:40 and they had to service it and clean it before we could board. Finally got on board only to discover that a sensor on the landing gear wasn't working. Minor detail. It would be about fifteen to twenty minutes for the guy to service it. To appease us they turned on the free t.v. and handed out glasses of lukewarm water.
An hour later they announced that the plane could not be fixed in a timely fashion and they were going to de-plane us and wait for the one to arrive from Denver. It was due in at 10:39 and we would be on our way.

To make a long horror story short, we finally left Vegas after midnight and arrived in Denver at about 3:20. By the time we got our luggage it was 3:40. Mary picked us up .... we are so indebted to her. We drove to Longmont and dropped her off and then headed home. We finally arrived home at 8 a.m.

I am too damn old to pull two all-nighters within a week's time!