Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Happy 43rd Birthday To Me...

My birthday ended about 8 minutes ago. So, I am officially 43 years of age. I had many good wishes sent through Facebook from high school friends, fun gifts from current friends (like donuts from Heidi!), and a delightful afternoon spent with mom and Walt, who generously spoiled me with goodies this year. Then, I did something I should NOT have done. I read my senior year high school yearbook from cover to cover. I suddenly saw how far away those years, those faces, those hairlines, have gone. And then, I felt very, very old. It was nostalgic, bittersweet, funny, and something that was actually hard to do. Several teachers and friends have died, so they don't have a chance to sit on the floor near midnight of a birthday and reminisce like I did. Now I feel both older, and sadder, yet thrilled to have known so many wonderful people, many of whom contacted me today.

So, I leave you with some childhood photos taken long ago, although it seems like yesterday, and a quote that will explain it all, and will, I hope, help us to value time we have NOW rather than lamenting days or moments long gone by:

NOTHING IS FARTHER AWAY THAN ONE MINUTE AGO.


Friday, December 25, 2009

The Last Quotes: #5 and #6





As you digest your Xmas ham and sugar cookies (or your mince pies and "turpigen" as pictured here), I'd like to share with you the last two quotes:

Quote #5:
"It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air." - Ellis

Quote #6:
If you ever have the opportunity to see Patrick Stewart perform A Christmas Carol, his one-man retelling of the classic story, TAKE IT! Drive anywhere and pay anything to see him perform that show. From the moment it starts, you totally forget you are watching one man on an almost empty stage. You are transported to Victorian England and can see every character and every detail through his portrayal. You can rent the film version that was released on TNT and is now on DVD, but it isn't the quite as perfect as watching him do it on stage. So, my final Xmas quote comes from that story...

"I will honour Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all the year." - Dickens

(By the way, if you don't know what "turpigen" is, look it up! You can also induldge in "turducken" if the mood strikes you...you've got to love the English.)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Quote #4


Someone named Turner said something that is a bit more positive than quote #3:

"Oh let's never grow too old to smile anew when Christmas comes."

Quote #3


This quote makes me feel a bit sad and nostalgic.

"There's nothing sadder in this world than to awaken Christmas morning and not be a child."
Erma Bombeck

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Quote #2

























"Christmas is a necessity. There has to be one day of the year to remind us that we're here for something else besides ourselves."
Eric Sevareid

Quote #1

"Christmas is doing a little something extra for someone else." Charles Schulz


I have collected some meaningful quotes that express my feelings for this season. Those of you who know me well know that I am a secular person, but Christmastime seems to bring a certain feeling and nostalgia no matter what you believe or don't believe. So, I'd like to share a few quotes with you over the next couple of days, and add some pictures if I can.

You can interpret the quotes however you wish and find your own meaning, but I hope you will join me in trying to keep these positive and nostalgic feelings throughout the entire year, and not just for these few weeks. Regardless, I hope you have (in the words of the British) a "Happy Christmas."


(photo taken at Canterbury Cathedral, Kent, England)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

I HATE USC!

If you share my hatred for the USC football team, please read this article. It is FUNNY! You also need to have knowledge of the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey...because the author of this article creates the PERFECT analogy!!

rivals.yahoo.com/ncaa/football/blog/dr_saturday/post/USC-and-UCLA-get-territorial-over-Trojans-gratu?urn=ncaaf,205393

Don't Give Up On Us!

We have been TERRIBLE about blogging lately. Here are our excuses (please pick one or more): too much turkey and pie, sinus headaches thanks to the wind, pure laziness.

So, don't give up on us...check back soon. I can promise some good recipes in the near future, a look at Walt's latest drawings, and some other random news or photos guarantee to help you sleep.

Meanwhile, back to work tomorrow!

Sheila

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Happy 47th Birthday














For those of you who really know Walt, you will join me in wondering how he reached 47 so quickly. He sometimes seems 60, but usually seems 12. He was 24 when I met him, so 47 seems unthinkable - where did the time go? So everyone raise a glass of Guinness...Happy Birthday, Walt!

PS...Wonder how many tire sales started today? (that's an inside joke!)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

What An Accomplishment


I'd like you to meet my Sister-In-Law...Walt's Sister (obviously). Today she successfully defended her dissertation, so we will be calling her Dr. Minda from now on. She worked harder than hard on that Ph.D, and we are so proud of her. She did it while working full-time in education, raising two great kids, being married, taking care of family issues...she ROCKS!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Happy Halloween

Take a moment to look up the history of Halloween. So many people these days say it is "evil" but it has very religious roots. It seems like we often pick and choose our religious/historical "truths" and completely ignore other, valuable beliefs. Here comes the soapbox: why put the pagan symbols of christmas in your home (a pine tree and a yule log), but shun the pagan and early christian beliefs concerning Halloween? I think you can make October 31st as fun or as taboo as you choose, but at least familiarize yourself with the history. Read up at http://en.wikipedia.org

Meanwhile, check out this year's Halloween card!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Listen To Your Mother!

Remember when your mother told you to drink plenty of fluids, wash your hands, get sleep, and go straight to the doctor when you have a fever or cough? LISTEN! I have had pneumonia, which turned into a lovely case of acute bronchitis. At first, I thought I could handle it myself (tylenol, nap, cough drops). I didn't want to miss work, because that is hard on the kids and the rest of the teaching team. Then, I got very, very scared when I spent a night completely awake - every moment - coughing, vomiting, with a temp of over 100 degrees and with an ever-increasing blood pressure. The Urgent Care doctor (very nice) told me that my bp was going up because I could not get enough air into my lungs. Now, three days since Urgent Care, I continue to cough greenish-yellow stuff, I nearly pee in my pants every time, and I have just stopped running a fever...have had a breathing treatment in the clinic, have two antibiotics, and my own inhaler.

So, don't be like me...get your butt to Urgent Care if you have any sign of a fever, a productive cough, a sleepless night, etc.

MY THANKS go to the people who helped me: Angelica (who told me so, and who brought a bean burrito - the first food I'd eaten in two days), Mary Anne (who took control of my classroom and sub - a lot of work for her ...I owe her BIG TIME), my mom (for being a typical mom and for getting me there and back again), and Sharley (for arranging my subs, even when I called at the last moment).

Friends are the most valuable thing we have on this journey!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Excellent News!

I have to share a bit of good news. In August, I filled out a huge application with donorschoose.org, a group that invites teachers to ask for whatever they need and donors to help fund those needs. I asked for about $600 worth of leveled readers so my kids can take books home each night (books that they can read at their own levels). Tonight, I got the email saying that my project was fully funded by three groups (one corporation, one private individual, and one group of Inland Empire moms). Sometime in October, I will get over 100 new leveled readers for my kids to use...paid for by generous donors.

What an amazing way to end a great day! Thanks for letting me share my news with you!

Special Surprise

I barely had time to say "happy 20th anniversary" to Walt before we left for school at 7:00 this morning. Upon arrival at school, I found a gigantic yellow mum outside of my classroom door. Here is the funny part: I took a quick snapshot on my cell phone and sent it to Walt's phone, saying "look what someone put outside my door." Then, I went in, walked to my desk, and suddenly discovered yellow mums EVERYWHERE in my room. (For those of you who don't know - Notre Dame lines both sides of their football field with yellow mums on opening day...which means that yellow mums have become my favorite flower). On my desk was a beautiful note, that only Walt could write, and a gift card to Michaels (because we are both enjoying nurturing our creative side). I did what any smitten woman would do...cried my eyes out with complete and utter joy. Walt and I have had a standing "rule" that we wouldn't buy flowers - it is usually a waste of money that we'd rather spend on books or on ourselves. Also, since Walt always helps with housework, I decided the help was more valuable than any flowers. So, for 20 years there have been no anniversary flowers, making today's gift even more thoughtful and special.

So, enjoy the photos. We are ready to wake up tomorrow morning and begin our next 20 years! Love is a BEAUTIFUL thing!




Monday, September 28, 2009

Just 20 Short Years Later!

Well, Walt and I were married 20 years ago - September 29, 1989. I remember thinking that people were OLD when they had been married that long. I was right. We are old. I thought I would bore you with some fun and weird facts about us:





























1. We were married on a Friday night at 7:00 at Trinity Baptist Church in Redlands. About 225 people attended. We had our reception in the basement. Our music was provided by bagpiper Kevin Blanford, who has since died from cancer. Our get-away car was a pink Morris Minor, which has since been sold (and if anyone finds it, we want to buy it back!).


2.Everything that was associated with our wedding is now gone: the business where we met, the restaurant where we had our first date, the Officer's Club at Norton AFB where we had our rehearsal dinner, the cabin where Walt proposed the year before, the church itself has changed names, etc. However, WE ARE STILL HERE!!!

3.My dad was nervous about walking me down the aisle because he had severe knee problems and thought he would fall.


4.Our church did not have a central aisle...weird, huh!?

5.Two hours before the wedding, my dress was not finished and several bridesmaids were still working on theirs, too. Walt's Dad was a Lt. Colonel in the Air Force, and he made the bow on the back of my dress (which we called the "Butt Bow").

6.In the last 20 years, Walt has decorated our house with his favorite things, such as gorilla skulls and rocket engines. We call our house the Walt and Sheila Museum.


7.In the past 20 years, I have decorated our house with things from our travels to Europe, especially our 12 trips to London. My dishes are a combination of blue and white pottery from T.G. Green and pottery from Emma Bridgewater - almost all of my serving pieces had words on them...I love words!
















8.We have always owned animals, including dogs, cats, rats, pythons, guinea pigs, lizards, chameleons, various bugs (some on purpose and some not), an Australian parrot who camped in our backyard, a bird that died one year to the day after we bought it (the warranty must have run out), etc. Right now we own 4 indoor cats and one newbie that lives outdoors.

9.We are HUGE fans of anime, and have a very angry bunny in our living room.















10.We have not made our bed in 20 years. That makes my mother crazy!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Creative Every Day

I am writing this for my friend, Kathy. She has had some major stress lately...busy job, sick mom, her own physical pain. When I read this quote, I thought instantly of her. It comes from a unique website - www.creativeeveryday.com. You should visit. I found it in a unique magazine - Artful Blogging. You should read it even if you don't care about blogging, because the stories and photos are inspiring.

So, now the quote: "Explore the possibilities for creativity in [your] everyday life - whether that be through painting, cooking, putting an outfit together, singing, gardening, doodling, or playing with the kids...everyone is creative and we enjoy life more when we allow ourselves to play with creativity in everything we do."

Think about how much creativity you have. Do you sing in the shower? That's it! Do you play word games in the car with your child? Creative!! Do you use your imagination while driving or running or doing the laundry? See! I told you - creativity is in all of us and we need to recognize it so we never feel a day is wasted or that we are falling short.

Tell me what creative thing you did today. I wore shoes that matched my clothes!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Bowling. Yes, I said BOWLING

So, Walt is collecting discarded bowling balls. It is really not as strange as it sounds - his 8th grade science team is creating a lab for their Force and Motion unit, and need to have one bowling bowl for each kid in class. Here's the part I really want you to think about:

The Cabazon bowling alley is super nice. It was built in the old casino building, so they have 24 state-of-the-art lanes. The price is $2.50 per game before 4:00 p.m., and $4 per game after...plus shoe and ball rental fees I'm sure. As Walt says, that is a pretty cheap date! My next though is "I'm a really good bowler - on the Wii Bowling Game, so I wonder how I would be in a real lane?" The answer - probably pathetic, but I sure would like to give it a try.

So, we are desperately seeking bowling buddies. Wanna go with us some time...just for fun? Even if we all roll gutter balls it would probably be a hoot and wouldn't cost a lot. Let us know if you are interested.

Meanwhile, I'll keep practicing on the Wii and hope I don't pull any more back muscles (Heidi, stop laughing!).

Monday, September 21, 2009

Summoning The Gods Of Autumn




















I never felt that my family had as many traditions as other families. However, this is a tradition that I have honored for about 25 years now. When Autumn arrives, and it is still terribly hot in California, I make these cookies hoping to appease the gods of autumn so they will bring cooler temps. Do I believe they are listening? No...but I definitely enjoy making and eating these cookies with dreams of foggy mornings, a bit of rain, and the yummy spicy flavors associated with Autumn.

These cookies are crispier on the first day, but get soft and cake-like overnight. If you want to leave out the nuts and/or chocolate chips, they will still taste fine (although I don't know why anyone would pass up a chance to eat chocolate).

Pumpkin Cookies

1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
1 and 1/2 cups sugar
1 egg
1 cup canned pumpkin (just the puree, not the pie mix)
1 tsp. vanilla
2 and 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
1 cup milk or semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in the egg, pumpkin, and vanilla. Don't worry if it looks a bit separated. Sift together dry ingredients and stir into creamed mixture, mixing well. Stir in nuts and chocolate chips. The dough will be sticky. Drop by spoonfuls onto baking sheets, spacing 2 inches apart (I cover my baking sheets with baking parchment, or you can spray them with non-stick spray). Bake for 13 minutes - cookies will be set and golden brown. Cool on baking sheet for about 5 minutes, and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely (eat one while warm, though!!). Store leftovers in an airtight container...they may stick together a bit, but they still taste great.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

If only this were the real world...

Just listen to this phone message which is supposedly from an Australian school.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

We Need To Pay Attention, For Their Sake





















In the last week, I have heard several horrible stories about people letting animals suffer. One person watched a chihuahua die because it was in a small, backyard area with no shade and no water. Another person has started feeding the 3 cats who were abandoned by people who moved due to foreclosure. Walt and I are doing the same...we now have "Scruffy" (pictured in this blog), who comes around nightly with a beautiful, lyrical meow and has trained us quickly to come running with dinner. Scruffy even has a shaded mat and water bowl, but won't let us pet him yet. One final story with a better ending, a teacher friend of mine saw an old dog whimpering in an animal shelter, and a day away from euthanasia. She adopted the dog on the spot, took it home for pets and walks and comfort, and the dog lived four more happy, loved months.

Here is my soapbox speech - we need to be on alert and watch out for the animals in our neighborhood or the ones we see each day on our drive to work. And, if we see something suspicious, or signs of neglect, we need to call. Hey, you wouldn't let children get treated that way, so why let animals. The tough economy means that people might not be able to care for their pets, but they shouldn't have to suffer. Join me in a "neighborhood watch" for animals. If you can help even more by spaying or neutering, that is even better.

Sounds a bit crazy, but I truly believe animals are people too!! Feel free to email photos of your beautiful animals. Thanks for taking care of them, and thanks for listening.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Dino Tour with Dr. Peter Doyle

In February of 2002, we were treated to a personal tour of the Waterhouse Hawkins dinosaurs at Crystal Palace Park in south London. While it was closed to the public, we donned hard hats and safety vests and met up with Dr. Peter Doyle who took us through the mud to see the reconstruction efforts (which opened to the public about a year after our visit, but could only be viewed from a distance even though we got up close and personal!). Waterhouse Hawkins designed and created life-sized models of dinosaurs, which were supposed to be accurate but have been proven incorrect since he created them in the 1850s. In case you don't know, Walt is a science teacher and dinosaur fanatic, and has used the tour yearly in his lesson plans to show how our understanding of concepts change as new information becomes available.

Why am I telling you this? On the weekend we tuned into the History Channel, and there was Dr. Doyle supervising and archaeological dig of the WWI trenches in France and Belgium. While dinosaurs are his specialty, which he teaches at Greenwich University (and he recently discovered a large, fossilized Mosasaur puke pile), the battlefields of World War I are his hobby. It was cool to see him on TV. If you have the chance to watch the show, I highly recommend it...I think the title is something like "Digging Up Trenches".

These are photos from our 2002 private tour of the dinosaurs. Our thanks continues to go out to Dr. Doyle for taking the time to meet with us - a meeting which has added to the science education of hundreds of middle school students!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

All Dressed Up With Somewhere To Go


Walt has a bit of a non-conformist streak. Lately it has manifested itself in a weird way. At both of our schools, Friday is school spirit day, and most teachers wear t-shirts. It is a school version of "casual Friday." So, Walt decided that he would remain casual Monday through Thursday, wearing jeans and a button-up shirt as he always does, but dress up on Fridays. So, he came out of the bedroom on August 28th, the first Friday of the new school year, in navy Dockers, a long-sleeve shirt (with a weather forecast of 110 degrees), shined shoes (Dr. Martens from London), and a new tie. The tie, by the way, was a series of Bohr Atoms - very scientific! He is committed to dressing up each Friday, and thinks we should now dress up and go out to fancy dinners occasionally (I think we should eat at home and be comfortable). I have known him for 22 years, and I have seen him in Dockers and a tie perhaps 3 times. I think this new desire to dress up might be a part of his mid-life crisis, but he does look cute...don't you think?!?

By the way, if you talk to Walt, talk in a high voice or a low voice. He went to the audiologist on Thursday and has lost a significant amount of hearing in the mid-range...which also involves an increase in tinnitus...for every 5 percent of hearing loss, your tinnitus increases by 10 percent. Ah, the joys of approaching 50 (Walt will be 47 on November 15...if you send a birthday card, make the print large as our eyesight is going south as well!).

Sunday, August 23, 2009

School Starts Tomorrow

School (with kids showing up) begins tomorrow, Monday, August 24, for Walter and for me. All I can say is "wish us luck"! I have gone from teaching 20 Kindergartners to teaching 33, with some VERY challenging kids placed in my classroom this year (the kind who throw things, run, hide, hit, scream, etc.). Walt has classes of 40, and does not have the usual 40 minute prep period because he is teaching during that time, too! We are both going to attempt to do this without enough books or supplies due to significant budget cuts.

While I will be looking for some fun photos to create new blogs, I will probably not accomplish that goal until a week or two go by...so don't be surprised if you don't hear from us until that blessed event known as Labor Day weekend. Don't give up...as soon as we have the strength, we will be back to frequent blogging.

Hope all is well with you and yours!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Sassy Stamper: Pay It Forward Givewaway

Sassy Stamper: Pay It Forward Givewaway

Pay It Forward

Are you familiar with the concept of "Pay It Forward"? You do something wonderful, big or small, for someone and expect nothing in return...instead, ask the recipient to "pay it forward". This gives that person an opportunity to do something wonderful for someone else. In a world of depressing news and uncertainties, this "random act of kindness" brings joy to us all. I think there is a Nicholas Cage movie about this, which I haven't seen.

I was recently reminded about the Pay It Forward concept by visiting a new blog written by a talented stamper. Be sure to visit, too. It is http://sassystamper.blogspot.com/2009/08/pix-attchdpay-it-forward-givewaway.html

I hope you will join me and think of a way to Pay It Forward. Make someone's day!!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Art and Artists

This summer I have experimented with different forms of art: collage, painting, drawing. For the first time in my life I feel like calling myself and artist (an amateur, but an artist nonetheless). Maybe I will even get the courage to post some of them on this blog soon. In the meanwhile, they will be on display in the back of my Kindergarten classroom (which, some might say, is right where they belong).

I came across this list, created by an artist named Lisa Engelbrecht, that describes how I'm feeling as a new artist. It also makes me think of my friend Brynn Hoffman, who is a true artist:

Top 10 Why Nots of Doing Art?

10. ACCEPT where you are now.
9. TURN OFF the inner critic and TURN ON your imagination.
8. BE INVOLVED in the process...not just the product.
7. Make art EVERY DAY.
6. Always BE A BEGINNER - act like you've never done anything like this before.
5. Allow yourself to FAIL now and again - to help you from always playing it safe.
4. LEAP and let the net appear (a la Julia Cameron).
3. PAINT as if no one will see it.
2. OWN that you are an artist.
1. USE your art to change the world.

They're Baaaaaaaack!

I have loved Mother's Circus Animal Cookies since I was a kid. They were a major snack for me - an event, even, right up there with Strawberry Frosted Pop Tarts and Cap'n Crunch Cereal. Then, last year, the Mother's Cookie Company became a victim of the recession and went out of business. It was a dark day for me. It could not have been worse. No more frosted Circus Animal Cookies. Yes there were other brands, but they suck. Nothing could replace the real thing from Mother's Cookie Company.

And so for months I dragged myself through my existence, wondering if life would ever be the same again, when, suddenly, a couple of days ago, I found them! There, on the shelf of Stater Brothers, were Mother's brand frosted Circus Animal Cookies! Yes! Kellogg's has purchased the Mother's Cookie Company and has started up production again!

They are back on the shelves, and life is great! Suddenly, even the threat of the upcoming school year, looming over us as it always does at this time of year, seems to be a minor thing now that I have my Circus Animal Cookies.






















Here I am, enjoying the treat I feared I would never see again for the rest of my life.

Now of course, many people would wonder if this is a healthy and nutritious alternative to, say, fresh fruit? Duh, not even close.


I think it's cute that somebody figured that six cookies are considered to be one serving. Nobody. Ever. Eats. Only. Six.

So, my life is better, and birds are again singing in the trees.














LIFE


IS


GOOD!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

This One Is A Keeper!




One more recipe and I will change my blog themes for awhile. This is one of those recipes that has been around forever - chances are, you already have it. However, it is so damn good that I plan to make it once or twice a month from now on. The leftovers are as good as the day you make it, and it is something that doesn't have to be measured precisely. Also, check out my thoughts below for ways to change it. If you haven't taken my advice and put your name on the mailing list to get the Penzey's catalog, you should: www.penzeys.com.

Cheesy Tomato Bake

3/4 sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 cup mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
(I use a blend that you can get at the grocery store...if you have a Trader Joes nearby, get their "quattro formaggio" and use about 1 cup and a half, skipping the cheddar)
salt and pepper to taste
2/3 cup milk
2 cups biscuit baking mix
2-3 tomatoes, chopped
1 zucchini or yellow squash, shredded
3 tsps. or Penzey's Pasta Sprinkle, or some oregano, basil, and parsley

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 9x13-inch baking dish. In a medium bowl, mix milk and baking mix until roughly blended. Pat into the bottom of the baking dish (wet your hands to make it easier to pat dough across bottom of dish). In a large mixing bowl, stir together sour cream, mayonnaise, cheeses, salt and pepper. First, sprinkle tomatoes and squash evenly over baking mix layer. Then, spoon the sour cream/cheese mixture over the top and gently spread out to cover surface. Sprinkle Italian herbs over top. Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Let cool about 10 minutes before serving.

You could add sauteed onions, sliced turkey, chopped water chestnuts, small broccoli flowers, cubed pepperoni and a drizzle of pizza sauce, or whatever else you have on hand. Experiment with the ingredients your family likes. As long as you make the milk and biscuit mix base, I think you could put anything in the middle before topping with the sour cream mixture. Watching calories? Use light sour cream and mayo and reduce your cheese. Finally, I think this could be easily cut in half to make a 9x9-inch dish (although you really should make the bigger size and live on the left overs), or doubled to make enough for a potluck.

Let me know how this works for you. We love it!! The first 5 people who email me their thoughts before August 10, 2009 will receive a complimentary container of Penzey's Pasta Sprinkle (subject to availability and access to your mailing address...allow time for shipping, please).

Saturday, August 1, 2009

If You Love Food, Do This!

If you don't love food, then the last three blogs have been very boring for you. If you do love food, you need to do this: go to www.penzeys.com and ask to be put on their catalog mailing list. Not only will you have access to some of the best herbs and spices on the planet, you will get a catalog each month that is filled with recipes. Here is a recipe I found that my friend, Heidi, should like...she makes the most beautiful and delicious breads.

Whole Wheat Apple Bread

Makes 1 loaf - each slice is 90 calories

1 cup vegetable oil (not olive oil)
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 cups whole wheat flour (or 1 and 1/2 cups each whole wheat and white flour)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 cups chopped, peeled baking apples (McIntosh or Granny Smith)
1 cup chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts), optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour an 8x4-inch loaf pan (or spray well with non-stick cooking spray). In a large bowl, combine the oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Sift in the flour(s), salt, baking soda, and cinnamon. Stir just until dry ingredients are incorporated into the wet ingredients. Fold in apples and nuts. Spoon dough into loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 1 and 1/2 hours, or until toothpick inserted into middle of loaf comes out clean (start checking at about 1 hour and 15 minutes). Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack and cool completely. Serve with butter, apple butter, or plain!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

New Recipe - You Gotta Make This!

Two recipes in two days...trying to make up for the weeks when I forgot to post one. This is another pasta-type recipe, but totally different from my mom's macaroni salad. This one has an Asian flair. Run, don't walk, to your nearest high-end market and get the ingredients. I suppose you could use linguine noodles if you can't find the soba noodles, but I believe soba has more nutrition and they seem to have more body. You won't regret it...this is easy and delicious!

Cold Soba Salad

8 to 12 oz soba noodles (a buckwheat noodle packaged like spaghetti)
2 T. soy sauce
2 T. rice vinegar
2 T. sesame oil
2 T. sesame seeds
dash fresh ground pepper

You can cook a lot of noodles or fewer...just adjust the other ingredients. The package I bought (at Clarks, for those of you in my neighborhood) had three 3-oz packets inside and I used them all. Break noodles in half and cook in about 8 cups of rapidly boiling, salted water for 5 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water. When drained, mix with remaining ingredients, tossing well. Store in airtight container in refrigerator, tossing again before serving. These are so cool and flavorful...I could eat them as the entree! Post a comment if you have a question or want to share your opinion. As always, enjoy!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Summer Survival

It is hot. It is damn hot. If you are like me, you don't want to turn on the oven or slave in the kitchen. So, here is a remedy for the heat: my mother's recipe for Macaroni Salad. Sounds simple, and it is, but it is my absolute favorite. Give it a try, and let me know what you think!

Mom's Macaroni Salad

1 large bag pasta (we like shells)
1 jar sweet pickles
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 larger can sliced olives, drained
about 2/3 cup mayonnaise
about 1/3 cup ranch dressing
1 T. mustard
salt and pepper to taste
dried Italian herbs - I like the "pasta sprinkles" from www.penzeys.com

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse in cool water and allow to sit. Cut up as many sweet pickles as you want - we use a lot and cut them into chunks. In a large bowl, place drained pasta and diced pickles. Add shredded cheddar (my mom cuts a cheddar brick into small cubed pieces) and drained olives. Stir together. Add mayo, ranch dressing, mustard, salt and pepper, and herbs (a sprinkling of oregano, parsley and basil - if you don't have it, skip it). Stir together and decide if you think it needs more mayonnaise or mustard - it should be wet and held together, but not soupy. Put into airtight container and keep in the refrigerator. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I Made This!


During the summer I spend much less time thinking about school, and much more time thinking about my hobbies and crafts. I end up trying to do something creative every day. Some days I succeed, some days I don't. Today I did. I decided I wanted to to a bit with cross-hatch shading and color shading, so I decided to draw some trees. Sheila liked it so much she insisted I post it. So, here is my shading exercise for the day...

Friday, July 17, 2009

For Better, For Worse...In Sickness and In Health

Walt bought a plant...a fake plant. It is from Japan. You are supposed to talk to it and nurture it and it responds. The video you are about to see is my fifth attempt to film him talking to this damn plant (the first four video attempts ended in my laughing hysterically). I guess this is what happens when someone stays home every day, and possibly spends too much time outside in the heat. Just remember...those marital vows we took twenty years ago apply to mental health, too, I suppose, and I'm sure Walt could blog all the crazy things I do in my own home (even though nothing I do is as wacky as this video).
video

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Gotcha!

Thanks for commenting (now that we got the commenting glitch fixed). As for those of you who wonder about the polka dot pajamas...they belong to my mom. We brought our Doc Martin's back to the hotel and my parents (all ready for bed) tried them on for a photo opportunity we still giggle at. So those feet, and those pajamas, belong to my parents...the shoes belong to Walt and me!!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Favorites from England February 2000

We took my parents to England in February 2000. While it was cold and rainy, it will always believe it was the best decision Walt and I ever made, because my dad really wanted to experience the UK, and he died two months after this trip. I wish we could have done more, perhaps visiting Ireland as well, but we accomplished a lot in a very physical trip. I am eternally glad we went.

Here are the four of us enjoying London and Windsor:







Monday, July 13, 2009

This is only a test...

We have made some adjustments to the way comments are handled. This should hopefully take care of the problems that some people were having. Please feel free to post comments. And please let us know if you continue to have problems.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Just For The Fun Of It!

Just for fun, take a moment and try this...leave your results in my "comments" section.

Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
* Turn to page 56.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post that sentence in my comments section. Read other people's sentences, too.
* Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST book....

Friday, July 10, 2009

Favorites From France

Next, here are some of our scanned favorites from earlier trips to France, including World War II sites in Normandy, downtown Paris, Disneyland Paris, and some of our trips on the Eurostar. We travel first class on the Eurostar, which includes really uppity dinners, like foie gras and all-you-can-drink champagne (the last picture was taken on my birthday, and I have enjoyed a bit too much of the free champagne!).