Sunday, December 20, 2009


Well, I thought that I might try blogging more often and get back into it, but it's just not happening. I don't really have the energy or the desire, and worse, I don't even read other blogs. So, I thought I might as well make it official and close the blog. Or at least, make it official that I won't be blogging.

Thanks for coming by, thanks for checking in, thanks for commenting. Thank you.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Jobs 4 Girls

While Jay and Mom were up for Thanksgiving, Jay, Al, and I went to the Strategic Air and Space Museum. It's a wonderful museum, really well done with interesting exhibits and history.


You knew there would be a however, didn't you?

So, we're in the museum gift shop. Lots of great models, t-shirts, and gifts to commemorate military, planes, and the mission. But they didn't want to leave out the girls! So, in the midst of all this inspiring stuff, here's what girls can aspire to be:

A Flight Attendant!

Really? OK, historically, women couldn't participate in nuclear military missions, but a flight attendant? For the record, they didn't have flight attendants on any of those planes, either. Sheesh!

Update: A source for a different perspective of gifts for girls: Women Fly gear.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A Study in Stubbornness

Cosette has an opinion of where she wants to walk, and many times it's not where I want her to go. This is how it goes . . .

But, but, but, I don't wanna go that way:

I wanna to go this way:

I don't wanna go that way. You never go where I wanna go:

OK, but I don't wanna:

Friday, November 13, 2009

Major knitting going on and pics to come. The women are getting fingerless mittens and the men are getting hats. One more hat to go, two more mitts, then I get to knit for myself! Unless I decide to expand my knitted-gift circle. A strong possibility.

In other news, I thought I'd share my latest exciting moment while walking the dog. OK, so there are rarely an exciting moment, that's what makes this incident so noteworthy.

(apologies to those who have already heard this)

Cosette (greatest dog in the world) loves her morning walks, right? And we walk forever in the mornings, right? Because this dog would walk to Lincoln if I'd let her. Well, every now and then we come across loose dogs who follow us then run away, and I'm always hoping they run home. This morning, a rat terrier mix, a little smaller than Cosette, was loose and came running up to play. I told him to go home and he ran in the opposite description, so we went on our way, me hoping he was going home because I hate the idea of a lost dog and I can't do anything about it. Then here he came, running up to us again--he'd found us. He came over for me to pet him, but he didn't have a tag, but this was obviously a well taken care of dog. He kept following us, but wouldn't let me get near enough to pick him up, so I just kept calling him to follow us. And he did. Followed us all the way home, with little side trips into the street, while I held my breath, hoping he wouldn't get hit by a car.

When we got to our house, I opened the gate for Cosette to run into the backyard, called for the other dog and he ran in, too. He was good dog and obeyed commands as well as he could, being excited to be in a new environment. So, we all went in the house, and I gave Cosette a treat while I put the other dog in the car to take him to a vet to see if he was chipped. And he was! He was also shedding like crazy because he was stressed and excited, but he sat in my lap and calmed down. The Home Again people left a message with the owners, giving them my phone number because I was going to take him back home with me. They told me his name was Emmet, so I said "Hi Emmet," and he tilted his head to right in surprise and I swear he smiled at me.

Cosette wasn't too sure about this. Emmet, as I now knew him to be, ran around with a rawhide in his mouth, looking for a place to bury it, jumping on the couch, into my lap, and all over. He put it down to eat some food I put in a dish for him, and Cosette grabbed the rawhide. They had both started to settle down when Emmet's owner called, and back we got in the car to take him home.

Yay! I love it when everything works out. If Cosette was loose, I hope someone would try to find out who she belonged to and get her home, so I'm glad it worked out for Emmet. I didn't ask any questions, but Emmet's owner has 2 small children at home and I think he was probably distracted and didn't realize Emmet had gotten out, but he was very grateful to get him back and Emmet was very happy to be home.

So, get your pets chipped if you haven't already. It's a wonderful service, which you hopefully will never have to use.

Here's a new favorite pic of Cosette and me. She's such a cuddle puppy.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Guest Bath Re-do is now Re-done!

After a long couple of weeks of working on it when we could, the updating and re-do of the guest bath is complete! Al worked so hard, and we both learned a helluvalot. Al learned the most because he did the majority of the work. We're taking all the old stuff that still works and leftover materials to the ReStore for Habitat for Humanity.

What we did:

New floor
New countertop
New faucet
New tile backsplash
New cabinet handles
New paint
New frame around the mirror
New lights
New accessories (towel rod, towels, switchplates, shower curtain...)



Cosette likes it, too, especially the new soft bathmats.

Friday, September 04, 2009

State Fair and a Chicken

On this gorgeous Friday, we went to the Nebraska State Fair, the last one in the state capital city. After this, it'll be moved closer to the middle of the state. The group that approved the move said it was to be more "fair" to other people in the state to attend and not have to drive all the way over here to the eastern side of the state. Considering that something like 80% of the state population lives here on the eastern side, I'm tempted to believe the rumors that the university wanted the land and by God they got it.

I love going to the fair, but I gotta admit, I don't think moving will be such a bad thing. The fair grounds here seem more like a deserted parking lot than the dirt and grass of my youth. And going on a weekday is a bit of a disappointment because all the cool stuff like the dog herding trials, most of the sheep and goats, and the poultry and bunny exhibits weren't going on like the first time we went to the fair. I miss seeing those chickens, but we had a good time anyway. Think I'll let my pictures do the talkin'.

It was Veteran's Appreciation Day, and the parade was inspiring and emotional. All military and their families got in free this day. The parade started off with the Color Guard.

The Legion Riders were awesome

Gotta have tractors in a parade in NE

Of course there were animals at the fair!

I had never seen a 4-horned sheep. Looks like something from a sci-fi story.

The goats want some feed. No surprises there.

The AG Hall held the farming groups' exhibits. Of course there were the huuuuuuge veggies

The infamous fiberglass cow that has an udder you can milk from. The kids were just doing what we all wanted to do.

The infamous cheddar sculptor

And reminders that we are in Nebraska, after all

A new food offering. We did no partake.

And of course,

"Are you going to Heaven?" booth

Ice chest near the Methodist food stand

And since I don't have any pictures of funky chickens, I give you pictures of the chicken I knitted. I love her!

And the obligatory cute picture of Cosette, the sweetest dog in the world, asleep next to me on the love seat outside.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Lately, I've Been Knitting

Yeah, knitting has become more than a hobby. I can't tell you how satisfying it is to finally find something that I'm good at and I like. Yes, I said it: I'm good at this. You don't know me that well but just believe me when I say that I would have never admitted to being good at something, whether I thought I was or not. And if I did admit it, I would qualify it with "I'm pretty good" or "I'm OK at" or "I do OK but there's a lot I can't do." Pfffft. Enough of that.

So, here are a few of the things I've completed lately:

Cosette really wants to sit on the Modern Log Cabin Baby Blanket

Prayer Shawl

Fingerless Mittens (Christmas gifts this year!)

First attempt at Fair Isle

And the infamous (in the knitting world) clapotis pictures are on their way. Now, onto the next project! Or maybe I'll go back to one of the many I have already started. Choices, choices.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Mega Fun at the Mega Tasting

Years and years ago, a friend of mine was talking about liking scotch and I told her I didn't like scotch. She looked at me as if in shock for a second, then leaned in and said in all seriousness, "You're not drinking the right scotch."

She was so right. I had only ever had a blended scotch, which often is over 70% grain whisky (corn, rye) as opposed to single malts, which are made only from barley. That's not to say there aren't some good blends. Johnny Walker Blue Label, Famous Grouse, Dewers all perfectly good blends, but it's the force of the single malts that drew me over to the scotch side.

I've often talked about our favorite pub The Dundee Dell in Omaha, NE. For scotch lovers like ourselves, it's a mecca with over 700 single malts offered. As far as we know, that's the largest collection the USA that is also open to the public. There are larger personal collections, but you can't buy a dram of their whisky. Luckily, this mecca is only 20 minutes from our house!

There's a great group of people who get together once a month, at least, to drink and talk about single malts. Yes, talk about them. The complexity of single malts is vast, with different regions of Scotland contributing a different flavor. A whisky from the island Islay will more likely smell and taste of the peat used to dry the barley and the brine of the sea air that swirls around the barrels as they mature. A whisky from the Lowlands will more likely be light and floral, with hints of heather. And we haven't even begun to talk about the difference the wood of the barrel makes on the taste. A whisky that spent all of its life in a bourbon barrel is going to taste completely different from one that spent its life in a sherry cask. Here's a map from that shows the regions.

Really, I could bore you for hours talking about whisky--it's a little embarrassing, but hey, I could just as easily talk about knitting.

On the first Sunday in August (then again on the first Thursday), The Dundee Dell hosts its annual Mega Tasting. People fly in from all over the country for this event. For $100, you get 10 tastings of some of the oldest, rarest scotches they have. $100 is a bargain when you realize none of those samples come from a bottle costing less than $150, and several are in the "priceless" range because you just can't find them any more.

Since we missed last year's tasting, we were very excited to participate in this years. We were not disappointed. Wanna know what we drank? Well, I'll tell you.

We started out in the Lowlands, with a nice heathery, floral Rosebank 25 (25 year old). It's pretty rare to see a Lowland that old. Since they are so light in taste, there's just not as much flavor when they get that old. This Rosebank is the exception, proving that I really shouldn't assume anything with my limited knowledge. This whisky is cask strength, meaning it came right out of the barrel and wasn't watered down to the normal 40% ABV (alcohol by volume). This Rosebank is 61% ABV. That means it was hot hot hot. I added a few drops of water to it (as did everyone else) to drink it.

Oh, a little note about water here--please don't add ice to your single malt. Not only is it cold and will cover up the taste of the whisky, but it will melt quickly and add more water, which will also cover up the flavor. That said, I don't have a problem adding a few drops of water to open up the nose and palette, but I want to control the amount of water I put in. If a whisky is so high in alcohol that it burns my taste buds, it's not enjoyable and adding water takes care of that. Think of it like taking the seeds out of a jalapeno pepper to control the heat in a salsa.

And one more quick note about age. The age on the bottle represents the youngest whisky in that bottle. Different whiskies from different barrels at the distillery are blended to keep a consistent taste profile. This way a Glenfiddich 15 always tastes like a Glenfiddich 15. That also means that a Glenfiddich 15 could have some older whiskies like a 25 year old in there, but the youngest whisky is 15.

OK, let's speed this up a bit or we'll be here all day.

Glenlossie 27
is a Gordon & MacPhail bottling, meaning it wasn't bottled by Glenlossie but by the independent bottler, Gordon & MacPhail. Sometimes a distillery has a barrel or cask that doesn't quite fit in their usual taste profile and they will sell it to an independent bottler to sell. It opens a whole new world of single malts. Glenlossie is a Speyside, a large region in the northern center of the Scotland. This whisky smells and tastes of honey and green apple. To me it did, anyway. You may smell and taste something completely different.

Balvenie Rose
is ultra special because you can't get it over here and it's a limited release. The general manager of the Dell bought it on her last trip to Scotland and opened it especially for this tasting. But this lovely 16 year old spent it's last 3 years in a port barrel, giving it a light pink tinge and a sweet, floral flavor with a hint of the oak it spent most of it's years. Several people thought it too light, being fans of the 12 year old Doublewood, but I thought it was a light and lovely change of pace.

Glen Keith 39 (Gordon & MacPhail bottling)
, a Speyside whisky, is known for being the first to use gas-fired stills and the first to bring in computers to run the distilling process. Spicy and sweet, with a hint of citrus for me. Others got baking spices like cinnamon and cloves.

North Port 23 (Rare Malts bottling) as a single malt is really rare because the majority of the whisky produced went into blends. A Highland whisky, the distillery, alas, is no more. There's a Safeway in its place now. But, thanks to Rare Malts independent bottler, we can enjoy a wee dram, even though I wasn't really impressed. Everyone else around me was, but I just didn't think it was exceptional. I got mostly baking spices, and the hubby smelled butterscotch.

Glenfarclas 40
(Scott's Selection bottling) is a rare thing. You hardly ever see Glenfarclas in an independent bottling because being a family-owned distillery, they are very careful about what is released. Glenfarclas is my of our favorites, not just for the lovely whisky, but also I love that they are still family owned after all these years. Therefore, it was sad to taste a Glenfarclas I was disappointed in. It was Glenfarclas-lite--it still had some spice, some sherry, maybe some anise, but it wasn't the full body experience I've come to expect of Glenfarclass. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't the normal great.

Bruichladdich 35 125th Anniversary is a special bottling that the general manager bought during our last trip to Scotland in 2007. With this whisky, we venture over to Islay. Ah, Islay. A small island that is the home to 9 distilleries (counting Port Charlotte); 9 tasty, lovely distilleries. Bruichladdich was one of our best tours in 2007 because of the passion of master distiller Jim McEwan. It's a kind of boutique distillery, with some pretty wild expressions. This particular whisky comes from a 1970 vintage which is legendary for being one their best, then it was finished in the barrels of a well loved Pinot Grigio. The original barrels give an oakiness while the wine barrel supplies fruits like banana and apricot. I also get some honey and vanilla. No heavy peating here, as with so many of the Islay whiskies.

Coleburn 21 (Rare Malts bottling)
is the rarest whisky we tried, and you can't even get it at the Dell any more because we finished the bottle. Our taste was very little, but even in that wee drop of whisky the character and complexity were evident. Light and floral with a little peat on the nose, a sweetness like toffee in the taste, and a long, warm, peppery finish made this a lovely sample. Oh, and at 59.4% ABV, I added a drop of water.

Brora 25
is from a Highland distillery that has been mothballed since the 1980s. It used to be called Clynelish, but a new Clynelish was built across the street. Being aged in bourbon barrels, the nose and taste is earthy, with vanilla and oak. There's a little puff of smoke, not really typical of a Highland but the history of Brora is linked with Islay, helping out by producing peated whisky for blends. The finish is long and warm with that hint of smoke making this a really lovely whisky. If you hadn't guessed, this was one of my favorites.

Laphroaig Cairdeas
was our last taste and as we usually do, we finished with a bang--a complex, warm, peaty bang. I'm not sure which year this bottling was, if it was for the 2008 or the 2009 Islay Festival. I don't even have notes because I knew what to expect and that this would be my favorite of the evening. The best thing about drinking an Isaly whisky is that I can close my eyes and as I nose the whisky, I'm back there. I smell the brine of the sea air, the smoke of peat drying the barley, the wood of the barrels, and the all over earthiness. The taste adds a little sweetness to the party and the long finish fades out on a light puff of smoke. Yummy.

All in all, a very successful tasting. As you might have noticed, I like back story about the distilleries and the whisky as much as I like the tasting. My tasting notes aren't very descriptive because I'm still trying to put words to what I'm tasting, but that will come. With more practice!

Oh, and for the grammar geeks, I apologize for tense being all over the place. I couldn't figure out which one to use. The event was in the past, but describing the scotch felt more natural with present tense because they are still present. Maybe someone can let me know how to handle it.

And because I like to end my posts with a picture of Cosette, the greatest dog in the world:

Wednesday, July 08, 2009


I never seem to be inspired to post any more. Just too lazy, I guess. But I can find a few seconds to Twitter! I have a hard time keeping it to 140 characters, though. I'm constantly editing.

So, come see me on Twitter.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Happy Days and Happy Pics

I had a new adventure! Today (Saturday) I went to the Great Nebraska Mushroom Festival and hunted for morel mushrooms. It was rainy, freezing cold, muddy, early on a Saturday morning and much fun.

In case you're not familiar with morels, you can go here and get more information than you ever wanted.

It's a big deal here. There's a short window when you can pick morels and that window opened this weekend. Even though the ground wasn't over 50 degrees yet and it wasn't warm and rainy long enough and some flower hadn't bloomed yet (all part of the myth of when to find morels), we went hunting and were successful. Well, my friends were very successful with two big bags full. I did find about a dozen or so and was ecstatic that I didn't come home empty handed. Actually, my hands were overflowing as one of my friends gave me all of his mushrooms. I was excited because I had big plans!

I wish I had more photos for you, but I forgot my camera and my phone was dead. So, I took a couple of pictures when I got home.

I didn't collect the mushrooms in a plastic bag--heavens no! One must use a mesh bag because that way the spores can shake back onto the ground to ensure more mushrooms next year. But I didn't want spores all over my kitchen floor that I had just swept and mopped the morning before, so I put them is this trash bag to bring them into the house.

It's important to wash morels because, after all, you did just pull them out of the dirt a little while ago. People have definite ideas about how to clean these mushrooms, but I decided to follow the advice I got from the experts I met today. I split them in half lengthwise then soaked them in salty cool water and left them that way for over an hour. Yes, I said I soaked mushrooms in water, don't freak out. Have you seen these things? See all the those wrinkly crevices? Dirt and bugs hide in there, and the salt water kills the bugs. Al may have eaten bugs during his survival training, but he doesn't have to eat them at home. So here's the last picture of these little delicacies that I have, the mushrooms soaking:

It's important to slice them in half because the rule with morels is "if it ain't hollow, don't swallow." If it isn't hollow, it's poisonous so just throw it away.

So, what does one do with morels, you might ask. Well, I'll tell you what I did. Basically, anything you can do with mushrooms, you can do with morels, you just get a richer, meatier flavor. They're like little portabello mushrooms. I dipped some of them in egg then in Panko bread crumbs and fried them in an iron skillet full of butter to keep us happy while I made the entree. For that entree, I sliced up the 'shrooms, sauteed some finely diced onions and garlic in olive oil then added the 'shrooms and a splash of white wine. After some of the liquid had cooked down, I poured in a half-pint of whipping cream (oh yes I did), grated in some nutmeg, sprinkled in some salt and pepper and let that come back to a boil, turning the heat back down after I got big clear bubbles. I threw in a little fresh parsley, then poured it over some bowtie pasta. Even Al, who isn't really wild about mushrooms, loved them. He was most impressed and I was most pleased. And most tired. Good Lord was I tired. I've had a rough week with my MS, so trapsing around in the cold and rain might not have been the best idea, but it was totally worth it.

This is the best thing about being in military--you learn something new everywhere you move to. I'm already looking forward to the next Great Mushroom Festival.

So, I promised some happy pics. Of course, they're all about Cosette because pictures of the cutest dog in the world makes me happy.

First pictures at the dog park. Cosette loves to go, so we introduced my friend and her dog Topsy to it. Topsy is usually a little nervous around other dogs, but not here. They had a great time. Topsy is a cockapoo--cocker spaniel and poodle--obviously more poodle in the legs.

What a good girl coming when I call.

With spring comes mowed lawns and with mowed lawns comes green noses.

Cosette loves her new bed. Only $20 at Costco!