Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Brand New Temple

My "cute as" niece is leaving for her mission in June. She's going to be assigned to the Mormon Battalion Visitors Center in San Diego, and she's also learning Spanish. What a great mission she will have, panning for gold and taking pictures of wacky tourists:
Today all of her Stratford aunts and her Stratford grandmother, and her own mother went to the Ogden temple with her. She wanted to go before this temple closes on Thursday for remodeling. It will be closed for more than 2 years and won't look anything like this anymore:

It will look more like this:
Much more bride-friendly. It was bittersweet to walk through what has been my temple for the last 23 years. I've seen several remodels over the years- no more escalators that made black stains on my dress, the new marble floors in the lobby, and I hope they use the beautiful furniture, pictures and chandeliers in my improved temple. We'll be Temple Wanderers until it's done. So glad we went together today.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Oh, It's Down There, Alright.

 Driving home from Arizona, since I was by myself and didn't feel like diving the whole way in one day, I stayed the night at Ruby's Inn at Bryce Canyon. I got there about an hour before sunset and rushed right to the canyon to catch that great light:
Somewhere down there, in the bottom of that amazing canyon is my father's circa 1960's canteen. I can still see it in my mind's eye, rolling, picking up speed, bouncing, bouncing higher, then disappearing over the rocky edge and falling endlessly into the annals of family folklore.
 Some of you may know who it was that dropped Dad's canteen that day. (It wasn't me. Nope.) I do remember that my father showed off his considerable vocabulary. But the mystery canteen-droppers identity is safe with me. After all, she might have undisclosed pictures from my teen years. And we're just not going to go there.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Come Here, Bunny, Bunny, Bunny

 Did you know that there are adorable bunnies that live in the desert in Arizona? I met a few of them last week. They weren't too afraid of me and let me take a few pictures of them. It made a nice change from my usual Wild Chipmunk pictures. These must have been Cottontail bunnies, with their puffy white tails.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Don't Be Silly, It's Just The Sprinklers.

So, about that rattlesnake story. I really did almost step on a rattle snake. And it really did try to warn me by rattling. But it was dark, and I thought I was hearing sprinklers come on, not the rattle of a snake. Shannon saw the whole thing and I'm afraid I've put another entry on her "Reasons Why My Mom Is Clueless" list.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Nice To Meet Me!

Just a few more horse show moments for your viewing pleasure! Shannon and I set up the new barn display on Saturday night after we had driven 11 hours. The nice (but so very effeminate) trainer who shared our barn row chain smoked and chatted with us as we worked. Then his pug named Lana, (as in Lana Turner), went to the bathroom in our freshly-laid bark. But I love, love, love how the display looked! Shannon has named the 2 horse head statues Nigel and Octavius.
Rocko spent the first few days working out all those travel kinks. He got to run as fast as he could at the end of a very long rope. At the other end of the rope was a very small girl trying to hang on as best she could. He got away once and went for a little adventure, visiting horses from the other show going on at West World. He has a very healthy ego and we always imagine him saying to other horses, "My name's Rocko. Nice to meet me!"
I call this one "Little Girl Wear Ugly Rust Breeches, Fixing Jumps".
The obligatory shot of Shannon getting on Rocko. So entertaining.
Now that they are jumping so high, their division included a "jog" where the rider trots their horse into the ring and past the judge, so that the judge can see that the horse is sound and not lame in any way. This was a new skill for both Shannon and Rocko. Some horses don't like to do the jog and have to be chased in or have dirt thrown at them by their Mexican grooms to get them going. Rocko was a little confused at first, but caught right on and looks very happy trotting in with his little mother.
 (BTW, we don't have Mexican grooms. The rich people have Mexican grooms. We love to clean stalls and feed & water the horses. And, take my word for it, no one can shine up a horse as well as I can. There are Mexican grooms who just hang out at West World, hoping to get a job as the new shows come in every week. And we always tell them "no thanks". Then they laugh at us while we struggle with a wheelbarrow full of manure.)

Thank heavens we don't show on Sunday! While everyone else was having exhaustion-fueled meltdowns, Shannon could relax and just take Rocko for a walk to stretch his legs. He's a bit of a ham:
It was a good show. Nice and warm, S & R gained a bunch of important experience, and no one died.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

It's Hard Again

Well, Shannon and I are back from our wanderings (and horse showings) in Arizona. It's good to be home, but where did this snow come from? It's still supposed to be 85 degrees and sunny.

I've been freezing for the last 2 days. I've wandered my house , wrapped in a blanket, sleeping with socks on and turning up the thermostat.

The show went really well, most of which I attribute to Shannon's skill the 85 degree heat keeping Rocko's enthusiasm under control. The two of them made their debut at showing 3'3"- jumping 3 inches higher than they've shown before- and that was a big change, especially at an out of state show. Nobody died, and through the lens of my camera they looked fabulous! (If I'm looking through my lens, I'm not nearly so scared to watch them jump so high. Because it's really not happening. Because I'm looking through my lens.)
 And, although the show went well, every other part of the trip seemed to have a little glitch or two to give us a problem. Nothing big, but things always seemed to need 3 or 4 (or 7) extra steps to get done or to get to work. After a few days of this, we recognized a pattern and Shannon would say, "It's getting hard again."

But we survived. Even though we got a speeding ticket. And the truck's registration was expired. And we had to find a new motel at 10:00 at night because I'd booked a smoking room by accident. And the TV at the Smith's house was stuck on BluRay and we couldn't figure it out. And the trainer sharing our barn was so totally gay. And then there was that rattlesnake thing... Don't make me go on, because we really did have fun and even after 10 days we didn't run out of things to talk about. Great mother/daughter bonding goin' on.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patty's Day!

Although I'm not home to cook a corned beef birthday dinner for my poor husband, who might not be so poor because he's going to a cool play with his mom tonight, I wish you all a happy St. Patrick's Day!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Green Punch

We usually make this Green Punch for Bruce's birthday. That is, when we're home. It's pretty darn tasty and so appropriate for St. Pat's. Oh, and it's a Sister Recipe!

Green Punch- makes 20 servings
2 3oz. pkgs. lime jello
1 qt hot water
1 46oz. can pineapple juice
2 12oz. cans frozen orange juice, thawed
2 c. white sugar
4 1/2 c. cold water
2 liters Ginger Ale
In a large saucepan, dissolve jello in hot water. Allow to cool. When jello is cool, pour into a large punch bowl. Stir in pineapple juice, orange juice concentrate, sugar, and cold water, Stir until sugar is dissolved. Pour in Ginger Ale just before serving.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

St. Patrick's Prep

We're just about ready for St. Patrick's Day around here. With it being the hubbie's birthday, we probably make a bigger deal out of this holiday than most. Well, except for that city (Chicago?) that dyes an entire river green. We don't do that.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

By the time you see this, Shannon, Rocko and I will be on our way to Scottsdale for the big horse show. Oldest sister, guess what the temperatures are supposed to be all week? Mid 80's!! We may not come home until July... Like last year, there might be some of this going on:

Friday, March 11, 2011

We Have Lift-Off!!

After many hours of hair-tearing, brain-stretching stress, my photography website has been launched! Check it out and tell me what you think. Any constructive criticism and/or advice would be greatly appreciated!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

We May Not Have Fountains, But We Do Have Pansies

So, I've been working on our big barn display for this year. If you remember, last year I decided we needed a bit more class, so I brought an awning, made a nice barn logo sign, provided a card table and chairs and generally made a little living space for the barn riders. It was much nicer than the broken 3-legged white plastic table, cooler full of beer and dirty dog beds that we had before. In Arizona, big, nice, rich barns do that like this, sometimes with the addition of fountains or refrigerators or poster-sized pictures of themselves. Notice the sod.
We're not quite at that level yet. But I'm working on it. Our last years display was nice, but this year's is better. I'm donating my old wicker back porch furniture (with new cushions that I found on clearance last year), We have horse head posts  in front of our awning and we have palm trees and pots of pansies. I found the pansies a few weeks ago out at the best nursery in my area. They weren't really for sale yet, but after I explained that I wanted to force them, he sold me a flat. The first flat sale of the year, he said. I felt special. They've been happily growing in my living room with the palm trees ever since. I hope the heat doesn't fry them too much down there!
We'll see if my barn people appreciate what I've done enough to keep it all tidy. (In my dreams!) I'll be sure to take lots of photos!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Lil' Missionary's Springtime Frolic

After the kids were here on Sunday, I discovered that it must be P day, since Lil' Missionary was having a bit of fun with the St. Pat's mice that live on my windowsill. It's good to see him having a little fun!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Countdown Has Begun!

After spending hours and hours and Hours and a few late nights, my photography website is just about ready to launch! It's been a huge learning experience and I'm sure I'm missing half my hair from pulling so much of it out. But I'm liking the way that it looks and I've proven to myself that I can do something hard. By myself. Hopefully it will actually function when we turn the switch!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Caramel Apple Streusel Bars

Yum, yum! I made these after Sunday dinner yesterday and they are SO good! Half the pan is gone, and I don't have much hope for the lifespan of the rest. Seriously good dessert.

Caramel Apple Streusel Bars- 12 servings
1 8 oz. can crescent rolls
3 c. peeled and chopped cooking apples
1/2 c. caramel topping
1/4 c. flour
3/4 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. quick cooking oats
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 c. butter or margarine, softened
Heat oven to 375. Spray a 13x9 in pan with non-stick cooking spray. Unroll dough, pinch seams to seal and press into bottom and 1/2 inch up sides of pan.
 Sprinkle apples over dough.
In a 1 qt, saucepan, heat caramel topping and 1/4 c. flour to boiling over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil 1 minute, stirring constantly, until thickened.
 Drizzle over apples. But don't get any on your self, because it will burn to China.
In a medium bowl, mix brown sugar, flour, oats and cinnamon. With a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture looks like fine crumbs.
Sprinkle over apples.  
 Bake for 18-20 minutes or until top is golden brown and apples are tender. MMMMmmm.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Learning is Hard

So I took all of my new camera equipment to the barn yesterday because all of the riders were there for a clinic. Easiest new camera lesson of the day: I learned that my new camera eats up memory card space and battery power. I'm going to need more memory cards and another battery. Hardest lesson of the day: Barbara, even though you are snapping away at 8 pictures a second, you really should increase your shutter speed so the focus can keep up. Too bad I didn't learn that important lesson until the last half hour of shooting. Lots of my early pictures were blurry. The ones that weren't- well, that was just dumb luck. But at least I know what to do next time!

Here's some pictures of Shannon and Rocko from yesterday.If you click on them individually you will see what I mean. So, so sad. The last one is not too bad, though. I'm learning, but it's hard.
 Early in the day, Rocko was outside getting some fresh air. By the look on his face he just can't figure out why I'm so far away and why am I not over with him, feeding him an endless supply of treats?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Photoshop Baby Steps

Look carefully at these two pictures:


And after:

Can you tell a difference? (Please tell me that you can tell a difference.)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Can There Ever Be Enough Fleece?

Can't find Xena? Look for the closest fleece blanket and you will find her. Even better if you are laying under the fleece blanket, just to add that extra warmth. The old girl is 10 years old now and enjoys her creature comforts which are a) food and b) fleece blankets. That actually doesn't sound like that bad of a system!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Tuscan Garlicky Bean Soup

 Want to try an easy Crock Pot dinner? One that will make your house smell so good? One that costs less than $4.00 to make, total? One that makes you feel like you're eating something super-healthy? Then you might want to try this recipe- Tuscan Garlicky Bean Soup.

Tuscan Garlicky Bean Soup- serves 8-10
1 lb. dry Great Northern, or other dry white, beans
1 qt. water
1 qt. beef broth
3 Tbs. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 Tbs. chopped parsley
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

Plan ahead, because you need to put the dry beans in a bowl, cover them with water and let them sit for 8 hours or overnight.
 Drain and rinse well. Yes, my colander is ancient. It belonged to Bruce's grandmother. But it functions, ok?
 Combine beans, 1 quart fresh water,and beef broth in a slow cooker. My CP is circa 1983. Still going strong. Come to think of it, that measuring cup is circa 1983 also. Still measures just fine. Do not mock me about the age of my appliances.
 1983, close up. Sidenote: Don't you just love those CP liners? Whoever invented those should get a Nobel Prize or a very nice raise, at least.
 Action shot: Beef broth goin' in. I think I will give my new camera special name: Awesome New Camera Stratford.
 So now we have a murky looking liquid in the CP, with a few wimpy floating beans. Believe me, it gets better.
 Now you saute the garlic and parsley in the olive oil in a skillet. If you've never smelled what this smells like before, you will want to saute garlic and parsley every day, just to smell that smell.
 Stir the garlic and parsley into the CP. Add the salt and pepper. Now you have murky liquid, a few wimpy beans and some floating greenery- looking good, right?
Cover and cook on low 8-10 hours, or until beans are tender. Yum. Bruce had several helpings. BTW, this recipe is from the Lazy Day Cookin' cookbook that I know several of my blood relatives already own. Because I was there when they bought it. Enjoy!