Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Flower Garden

Those of you pining away for blossoms, mournfully shoveling snow out of your dormant beds, thinking longingly of honeybees visiting the blooms, try this.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Halo 3 Game Fuel

Barry Blogs about Halo 3 Game Fuel

New French Bakery, Minneapolis

If you ever find yourself in the vicinity of 2609 26th Avenue South in Minneapolis, please make a stop at the New French Bakery and pick up some of their Take & Bake breads. These are wonderful bread loaves that are sold just a few minutes short of fully baked. You can freeze them for a few months or take them home for immediate use. You pop them in a hot oven for a few minutes - like 10 at the most - and they come out so fresh smelling/tasting, they are heavenly. We can get them at a grocery store down here in the LaCrosse area, but the bakery also sells direct to the public.

I would heartily recommend the Natural Whole Grain loaf and the Asiago Garlic Ciabatta. Both are wonderful. I think they are the only ones we have tried.

Birthday Tulips in Full Bloom

Barry bought me a pot of tulips-to-be for my birthday. In the past couple of days they have bloomed all over the place. Hard to tell in my blown-out photo but the blooms are lilac-purple in color. El Gato Libre likes them, too, as you can see.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Attention: Iowa is NOT BORING!

Two people within the past couple of days have found my blog by searching "Iowa boring". Well, this message is for the next person to do that search: Iowa is NOT boring. We moved here from Southern California because things were a bit too interesting there.

Besides, as I always tell my children, intelligent people don't get bored. Intelligent people use their minds to find something interesting to do.

New Albin Free Garage Sales, a.k.a. Spring Clean-Up Day

Every spring and fall, we have one trash pickup where we are allowed to put all kinds of stuff out and it will be hauled away, as long as it isn't toxic waste or old tires. Barry and I are proud to announce that we had our biggest throwaway pile EVER. The pile diminished as the day grew nearer (we started putting stuff out Saturday and it will be picked up this morning sometime), not because we changed our minds, but because people actually wanted OUR JUNK.

I thought the word had gotten out that if the Stahls are throwing something away, it's really hopeless. Anyway one man came by for an old garage door, and another went through the whole pile and pulled out all the metal, presumably for scrap. At any rate, everybody considers everyone else's junk piles as fair game, so there is a lot of swapping going on in the days before a Clean-Up Day. Lots of pickups cruising slowly around the neighborhood, lots of kids on bikes rescuing toys from each other's piles. It's fun.

I was quite restrained, considering; usually I manage to scrounge more immeasurable treasure from other people's piles than we can throw away in our own. I did find one thing, though, that I couldn't believe: A vintage Pyrex Flameware 6-cup glass percolator, complete with the stem and filter baskets and everything, dirty but otherwise perfect. Unbelievable. I have it soaking in oven cleaner at the moment and am going to eBay it as soon as I can. People who hesitate to cook with aluminum love those things, and they're getting harder to find these days (I don't believe they have been made since the 1960s). In the same pile I found a bunch of unused padded shipping envelopes, neatly packed in a plastic bag. Nabbed those babies too, of course. Yesterday, in someone else's pile, I found an old wooden nail barrel, from a hardware store. I can probably get twenty bucks out of it on eBay.

I try not to go look at the piles but then it starts nagging at me, wondering what is being picked up by the Trash Men right this very moment, what is likely to be smashed beyond recognition in the truck, what is going to a landfill right now that I really need, so I jump on my bike and take one more cruise around. That's pretty much what happened with the Pyrex pile this morning. I had dropped the girls at Driver's Ed and was on my way home when I spotted a pile that hadn't been there on my last Junk Cruise. I'm glad I stopped.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Jacksonville, Florida, Humane Society Fire

A fire at the Jacksonville, Fla., Humane Society destroyed the facility and took the lives of many animals in this no-kill shelter over the weekend. Firefighters rescued animals up to the last possible moment, when the roof came down, and were responsible for the fact that more than half the pets in the shelter were saved.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Driver's Ed breakthrough

She drove to class this morning. She didn't hit one single fawn, her friend did not laugh at her, she did not fall asleep and she was able to see just fine. (It's no longer dark at 6:30 a.m. here.)

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Laptops always tend to run a little hot

To some, this is actually a good thing.

New kitchen goodies: Cast Iron Loaf Pan by Lodge

I bought two of these for baking, and I love them so much, I am now thinking of replacing all my glass loaf pans with more of them. They make such a lovely crust on breads! Pretty nice looking, too. Lodge made them here in the USA. Lodge has a lot of nice baking pan designs but they never seem to stick with anything long enough for it to become a kitchen staple. They keep caving in and resorting to cheapo iron imported from China, which is really a shame, as Lodge is the only surviving US foundry from the old days.

Take the Geek Quiz Free Online Dating67% - Free Online Dating

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

To the Grandmas: Do Not Read This Post

We're using this photograph of the children to make Mother's Day gifts for the two grandmas and one living great grandma.

Driver's Ed

If learning to drive is a huge milestone in a young person's life, watching that young person learn to drive has got to loom nearly as large in her parent's life.

Miss B is in Driver's Ed. Three mornings a week she meets her classmates and teacher at 7:00 a.m. in Lansing (12 miles away) for class, and then Tuesdays after school she practices driving with her teacher, who must have nerves of steel.

I and another mom take turns doing the morning delivery of grouchy, semicomatose girls to the class. This morning it was my turn. I tried to make polite conversation, getting a grunt from my daughter and nothing from the other girl, and gave up and just enjoyed the drive along the Mississippi, which is in floodstage at the moment and had a mist twisting over the water. I joined the line of cars dropping off students in the high school horseshoe drive, and noticed something interesting: The other cars had sort of a Chinese firedrill action going on as they pulled up, the student driver leaped from the driver's seat, the parent accompanying him or her jumped out of the other side and ran around to get in the driver's seat and pull out again. My car? Nope. Miss B really doesn't like to drive. She wants to sleep and she (thankfully) realizes she can't do both at once. So we have to force her to practice driving. So far she has excused herself from driving with the following excuses:

  • It's too dark and she can't drive in the dark yet.
  • It's fawning season and she's afraid of hitting a fawn.
  • It's raining a little and she can't drive in the rain yet.
  • We're in the Jeep and she is not familiar with stick shifts yet.
  • (My favorite so far) She wants to do homework in the car on the way. (She promptly fell asleep anyway.)

At least we don't have one of those kids who is trying constantly to weasel the car keys from us.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Trying not to freak here.

My brother Aaron, sister-in-law Vania and two nephews and niece are back in the Midwest, visiting family. They are starting with Vania's brother's family, then moving on to be with my parents, and then they will come down here for Easter. We can't wait.

But wait, that's not all! We've been unhappy with how far they live away from us for some years now. They moved to Northern Virginia for a job, and while they have certainly made the best of things there, they really miss the Midwest, too, and it's been a tough place to raise kids. Of course I was pestering Vania about what a great opportunity this trip would be for some serious job-hunting. But it's really up to my brother.

So guess what? - He had a first interview for a REALLY GOOD JOB in the Twin Cities today! Second interview is tomorrow afternoon. God willing, there will be another interview after that. I would so love to see them go back East with some firm plans to move, say after the end of the school year.

*pant pant pant*

Okay, I've got to stop hyperventilating about this. If God wills it it will happen.

Cheap, easy smoked salmon spread

I love this. :) Everybody thinks it's something much more special than it really is!

Cheap, Easy Smoked Salmon Spread
1/2 can red salmon, drained and with the large bones removed if possible
1 8-oz. package cream cheese, softened
1/2 tsp. liquid smoke flavoring
2 green onions, sliced fine

Mix the salmon, cream cheese and liquid smoke flavoring together till as smooth as you can get it. Stir in the green onions. Turn into a pretty bowl and serve with crackers or crisps. That's it. Can't get much easier than that. And compare the price of canned salmon with real lox and you'll see why it's so cheap.

Banty Eggs update

The incubation period is now a little over half gone. I tried candling the eggs but couldn't see much; probably my flashlight isn't strong enough for those thick brown shells. Some of the eggs are quite a bit lighter in weight than the others and I think the light ones are probably dead. We still hope to have a few good chicks out of the deal. Watch them all be boys, though. (Thanks to the Neighbors Who Hate Us, we can't keep any boys.)

I wish The Girls would go broody. Any time I DON'T want them broody I can't get them off the nests; now, when it would be great to turn the incubating over to professionals, they have no interest whatsoever in their nests, spending their days pacing the wire of their pen and longing to run around on fresh green grass. One hen did spend a few minutes snuggling with one egg the other day, but when I took it away, she just shook her feathers into order, sort of a chicken shrug, and hopped down out of the nest. No growling, no puffing up and glaring, which is what they do when they want to brood.

Something was tunneling under the wire and stealing eggs from the nests. Not sure what it was. I thought possum, but whatever it is, it's active during the day. So maybe a rat. It didn't bother the hens. Too smart, which also makes me think rat; whatever it was had figured out where the eggs were coming from and wasn't about to kill the golden, um, chicken, that was laying those delish eggs. The hens were so used to whatever it was that they weren't even scared. No alarm clucks, or I would have figured things out quicker than I did. We dug down deeper and put wire down lower to keep the critter out and all of a sudden I started finding eggs in the nests again. I am getting one egg a day now from somebody; a couple of days ago there were THREE eggs. My girls are getting pretty old for laying. They'd make wonderful mothers, though, if they would just get into the mood.

Update: Another 3-egg day today! Not bad for a trio of old ladies!'s Annual April Fools Joke

2007: Serenity and other movie original negatives destroyed in Universal vault fire by that brat Chrisisall

And just for fun, catch up on past years' hoaxes here:
2006: Adam Baldwin comes out of the closet by Ilgreven who we hardly hear from anymore
2005: Bad News; Serenity going straight to DVD, a masterstroke by Blackoutnights, who we NEVER hear from anymore
2004: Vivendi Universal Acquires FIREFLYFANS.NET in Move to Strengthen Web Audience for Universal Studio's Firefly Movie 'Serenity' from Haken Himself, who likes to mess with stuffs but breaks them