Monday, February 28, 2011

A bit of kindness

Okay, I've been meaning to post this, but with all the reading I have to do for class, I've been swamped and I've forgotten.

Anyway, on Valentine's Day, I got a little surprise in the mail.

Lisa, from Two Bears Farm and the Three Cubs, sent me a little care package as a "thank you" for regularly participating in Memory Lane Friday.

She included some fun stuff: a travel journal, photo album, scrapbooking supplies, a magnet with some great sayings, a little jar of play dough from Pierce to Livie, a Dove dark chocolate bar for me.

(I had to put it all on a solid-colored towel, so I wouldn't have too busy a background to display the stuff.)

Anyway, it was fun waiting anxiously for the package, wanting to see exactly what was inside. And then finally getting it, now that was fun!

And the chocolate bar? I hid it so Liv wouldn't see it. And I ate some of it after she went to bed. I ate the rest after class the following day. It was gooood!

The magnet, with it's sayings like, "Your presence is a present to the world," and "Count your blessings, not your troubles," and "Have courage," went on the fridge right away.

Liv loved the play dough, especially because it was pink! She immediately began making various creations with it.

And when she saw the scrapbooking material, she got excited about a potential art project that she and I could do together.

Now I don't normally do scrapbooking, but seeing how excited Livie got about all that stuff, I figured that when my semester is over, she and I can do some fun art projects with it (and the photo album - and maybe even the travel journal, both of which Lisa included in the package).

So anyway, I just wanted to say "Thanks again" to Lisa. I look forward to using the travel journal, and doing some art projects with Livie and the scrapbooking supplies! And, of course, the photo album will be put to good use! (If you're new to my blog - I love taking photos!)

Friday, February 25, 2011

Memory Lane Friday - A Store

Welcome to Memory Lane Friday! This week's topic is "A Store."

I've been thinking about which store I'd write about, and finally decided on the L.L. Bean Flagship Store in Freeport, ME.

This place is HUGE! And, they're open 24/7/365!! Yep, they're open all the time!

Anyway, the first time I was there was the summer after my freshman year in college. One of my riding instructors from Culver Academies was the director of horsemanship at a summer camp in Maine. She had asked me and one of my jumping team/Equestriennes teammates (Sara) to head up there for the summer as riding instructors.

We gladly accepted her offer. 

Well, at some point in the summer when we had some time off, Sara and I headed to Freeport to have a fun adventure. Of course, we ended up at L.L. Bean, first the outlet store, and then the flagship store.

I was overwhelmed with the size and all the cool outdoorsy stuff they had. I'd gotten their catalogs (and, of course, bought stuff), but I'd never been to the store . . . until now . . . now that I was finally in Maine.

So . . . we'd had fun on our outing and ended up back at camp, continuing our summer, giving riding lessons to the girls at camp.

Well, at the end of the summer, since I'd flown in, and would be flying out, I needed to get back to the airport. Since Sara drove, she offered to drive me to the airport in Portland. We were going to leave early, so we could have lunch and do one last shopping trip at L.L. Bean before I had to get to the airport.

Guess what? On our way there, Sara's car? It basically went kaput! I don't remember exactly what had happened, but it was not going to be driven anywhere anytime soon. She had to call a tow truck! As for me? I don't remember how I ended up getting to the airport; I must've gotten a cab.

We were disappointed that our plans for a fun outing were ruined, but it sure made for some funny memories to laugh about.

Anyway, back to the store . . . fast forward a few years. When Andrew and I were stationed in the Boston area, we were just a few hours from Freeport. Our first summer there, we decided to take a weekend trip up to Maine, to shop in Freeport at the L.L. Bean store, and for some sightseeing in that part of Maine.

I'd been in Maine one other time, between teaching riding at the summer camp and this trip with Andrew, so I had been to L.L. Bean once more after that day Sara's car died.

But Andrew had never been there; it was fun to see his reaction upon getting to this HUGE store.

We browsed around and ended up getting a few things. Now, since we were making a whole weekend trip out of it, we were staying in a hotel in the area that night.

And since it was around dinnertime, we asked the sales associate for a good restaurant recommendation. She'd ended up recommending a place called "The Muddy Rudder," in Yarmouth, not too far from Freeport.

It was a good choice - we had a table next to a huge window, overlooking a beautiful river. Since it was summer, the foliage was lush green.

And the seafood? Can't get fresher than the coast of Maine, right? I, for one, was appreciative of the sales associate's recommendation. (And I happily ended up at that same restaurant months later with a friend and her daughter.)

So there you have it - a few of my favorite memories about a store.

Please come back next week when the topic is "A Favorite Subject."

Memory Lane Friday is hosted weekly by Two Bears Farm and the Three Cubs. Please click on the button below to read her entry for this week, as well as other participants' entries.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Liv's Birthday, Part I

Today's Liv's birthday. Look what she got to take to Pre-Kindergarten today!!

Yep, sugar cookies with lots of frosting!! I thought balloons would be a cute way to decorate them.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Friday, February 18, 2011

Memory Lane Friday - No Theme

Yes, I know I'm later than usual this week. See, Liv came down with strep throat yesterday, so I've been at home with a sick kid. Normally, I'd just post while she was asleep. But this week? It couldn't be done. We've been having internet issues at home, so I haven't been able to log on. And because she's still contagious, it's not like I could've taken her to the library with me and my laptop.

So I'm at a bookstore, in their cafe with free wi-fi, stealing about 30 minutes before I have to go home and give her a bath and antibiotics. Daddy, meanwhile, got home to a hot meal, and my practically waiting by the door with my laptop, just waiting for him to relieve me.

Anyway, this week's topic is another "No Theme."

So I'm going to talk about something Livie and I were talking about earlier today. Dogs. 

A long time ago, when I was very young, my family had a Doberman. She was a beautiful, glossy black dog named Tory.

I don't remember how Liv and I got on the topic of the family's dogs of the past, but somehow we were talking about them. Oh, I think it was because we'd watched the movie Beverly Hills Chihuahua, and there's a naughty Doberman in the role of "antagonist" - the breed, not the naughtiness made me think of Tory, and that's the beginning of our conversation.

Now, as we all know, chocolate isn't good for dogs, right? But they can eat carob, which is chocolate-like.

So . . . back in the days of Tory (early-mid-'70s), we had these carob "chips" - that were round, kinda flattened, sorta checker-sized pieces of carob, that served as dog treats. I can't remember the packaging, but I think that the box may have had a dog on it.

I explained to Liv, that these were Tory's treats, and although they tasted kinda like chocolate, they weren't, thereby being safe for dogs to eat.

But then I told her that humans could also eat carob; I recalled a boy in my 2nd grade class that was allergic to chocolate, and he'd eat carob instead.

And then I told her the most "amazing" thing. Sometimes my dad (a.k.a. Nonno) would get the box of carob down from the top of the fridge, and eat one! And to prove to me that they weren't all that bad, he'd let me eat one, too!

Liv was flabbergasted! We were eating dog treats?! (They were pure carob, by the way, without dog-food stuff in them.)

She couldn't believe it! She asked what Abuelita (my mom) thought of that and did Nonno get in trouble for feeding me these doggy carob chips?!

I actually couldn't remember if she actually knew. I don't think so, because I don't remember her ever spazzing out about it! Hahaha!

And then, of course, she asked me the most important question: how did the carob dog treats taste?

Well. . . if I remember correctly, they tasted like kinda bland, dry, boring wanna-be chocolate.

After asking me one more time, if Nonno got in trouble with Abuelita, she changed the subject, just like that.

And I was left sitting there wondering about those carob chips.

So there you go. There's my short and sweet memory for this week.

Please come back next week when the topic is "A Store."

Oh, and please don't forget to check out "Two Bears Farm and the Three Cubs," (just click the button below) because Lisa is the host for Memory Lane Friday every week. She's got a good story to tell.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Can't believe it's time for party #5!!

Liv is going to turn 5-years-old next week! It seems like just yesterday that I ordered her a unicorn cake for her 4th birthday. And it feels like just last week when I moved from the greater Boston area to New Mexico with a 4-month-old Baby Liv.

Anyway, since Andrew and I are in grad school, with little time for fun, we're going to have a low-key, low-fuss party for Liv this coming Saturday.

We're going to have her grandparents (both maternal and paternal) coming to visit. Maybe her great-grandmother, Oma, will be able to come. We've also invited her Uncle Joe, Tia Pia, and little niece (my niece, that is - Liv's cousin), as well.

I've got her cake ordered. It will have a princess on it, and be full of pink and purple, you know - the girly, princess colors.

And we'll have pizza. What kid wouldn't like that?!

I can't wait til she gets to open her presents. She's going to have a blast.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Memory Lane Friday - Valentine's Day

This week's Memory Lane Friday topic is "Valentine's Day."

Okay, I know I haven't been posting much lately. But I do have a good excuse. For those of you new to my blog, I started grad school mid-January. Since I'm in two literature classes, that means I spend nearly all my free time reading, reading, writing. . . oh, and then reading some more.

Anyway, I typically have my Memory Lane Friday post written by Thursday at the latest, and then I just schedule it to automatically post at 6 AM (CST) on Friday morning. Well, I had both a test and a paper this week, so that didn't happen.

But here I am now, ready to talk a little about a cute Valentine's Day surprise I got one year.

Back when Andrew and I were both still on Active Duty in the Air Force, we spent a year at an assignment in southern New Mexico. It was when we were in New Mexico that Andrew surprised me with a Valentine's gift at my office.

Anyway, this was Valentine's 2007. That year, February 14th occurred on a weekday. Needless to say, we went about our day, just as we did any other weekday.

My days, at that point, started at about 4:15 AM. With having to get baby Livie to the on-base child development center, getting to my squadron's PT (physical training, a.k.a. the squadron's workout), and then getting to work by 7:30 AM, my mornings were packed; generally, I didn't think about anything other than "What time is it, and what do I have to do next?" Valentine's Day was the last thing I would've been thinking about.

Well, after making it through the busiest time of my day (early morning), I was in my office doing work. I think that on that day, I may have had some meetings, some stuff I needed to accomplish in the warehouse, or perhaps simply a task or two to do somewhere other than at my desk.

At some point, early in the afternoon, an NCO (non-commissioned officer) knocked on my door. When I told her, "Come on in," she came in with a bucket of carnations, and a little box.

The little box contained a little ceramic jar with a heart on it; inside were a bunch of Hershey's Kisses - the silver wrappers with the red stripes, and also the ones with red foil wrappers (instead of the traditional aluminum foil). And sitting on top of the jar, was a little pink and white stuffed bear, with a heart on its tummy. And there was a note from Andrew saying, "I love you." Plus, I got a red carnation.

It was all too cute.

Apparently, there was an organization on base (perhaps the Company Grade Officers' Association or the Air Force Sergeants' Association, or even The First Sergeants' Association, I'm not sure which) that had been selling these little Valentine treats as a fundraiser for their group. I vaguely remember seeing fliers, or maybe hearing an announcement about it. But having a small child (Livie was almost 1 at the time), working full time, and having my days start so early . . . well, you can see why I hadn't really paid attention to those ads, right?

So I was really surprised that Andrew had remembered. It was a very sweet little gift. I ended up keeping the little bear on my desk for the rest of the time we were there. And that little jar? Once I'd consumed all the Kisses, I ended up keeping it filled with those delish caramel Kisses. Let's just say that those caramel Kisses made my desk popular.

Memory Lane Friday is hosted by Two Bears Farm and the Three Cubs. Please click on the button below to read her post for this week, along with other participants' posts.
Please come back next week when we have another "No Theme" week!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Memory Lane Friday - A Hiding Place

Today's Memory Lane Friday topic is "A Hiding Place."

I don't remember having a specific hiding place when I was young.

However, I remember a time when my mom came to me for help regarding my brother Joe and his hiding spot.

One afternoon, maybe it was a Saturday, I was off doing my own thing, probably holed up in my room, reading. I'm estimating I must've been around 14 or so at the time.

My mom was busy doing one thing or another around the house (laundry or cleaning, or some such thing), as moms tend to do.

Well, at some point, I vaguely remember hearing her calling to Joe . . . or "Joey" as he was known back in the day. He was about 4 or 5 at the time (yes, there's an 8.5 year age difference).

I hadn't seen him, as I was in my room minding my own business.

Every so often, I'd hear her calling out to "Joey."

At some point, though, she came to me for help. "I can't find Joey anywhere. Have you seen him?" she asked me.


"You are clever and much closer to his age than I am. You're good at thinking like him. Can you please help me find him?"


"I think he's in or near his room. I keep thinking I hear him laughing in his room."

So at this point, I went to his room, quietly calling, "Joey . . . Jooooeeeey!"

Then I'd hear his cute little giggle. He was somewhere in his room. But where?

As I looked around, I saw the afghan blanket on his bed moving, ever so slightly, at the same moment I heard him giggling.


He'd been in his bed, trying his hardest to stay as still as possible. He also made sure his blanket was as smooth as possible.

My mom hadn't looked very closely at his bed. I almost didn't either!

I walked over there and pulled down the blanket, and there was his cute little face, sporting the biggest grin!

Come back next week when the theme is "Valentine's."

Memory Lane Friday is hosted by Two Bears Farm and the Three Cubs. Please click on the button below to read her post for this week, and this week's other entries.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Bringing Some Flavors of New Mexico into My Iowa Home

I love the Southwest. For those of you new to my blog, I used to live in various places throughout the Southwest, from El Paso, TX, to Alamogordo, NM, to Tucson, AZ.

Sure it's dry, brown, hot. But it's beautiful in its starkness. There's something amazing about the wide open spaces, the turquoise blue skies, the sunsets rich in reds, golds, raspberries, peaches, the billions of stars in the nighttime sky, the fresh, clean smell the rain imparts on the copper landscape.

I love it all.

Anyway, I've been kinda homesick for my beloved Southwest. Maybe it's because of the winter storm Mother Nature is bestowing on the Midwest, where I now live. Maybe it's because of the readings from the Native American Literature class I'm taking.

Regardless of the reason, I'm homesick.

So, when I take a break from all the reading I have to do for my literature classes, I'll sometimes flip through a beautiful book called Tony Hillerman's Landscape, with breathtaking photos of Navajo country. Or maybe I'll take a look at an old issue of New Mexico Magazine.

Know what? In looking through New Mexico Magazine's June 2010 issue, I found an ice cream recipe that I'd marked and had really wanted to try. The flavor combination made me think it'll taste like that "perfume" of New Mexico that I miss so much.

Well, one thing led to another, and somehow I still haven't yet tried it. But, since I've been missing New Mexico so much lately, I may have to try it, even with Old Man Winter literally howling at my door.

This recipe is for Taos Cow Lavender Ice Cream. The recipe is courtesy of Jamie Leeson, owner of Taos Cow Ice Cream Company. He was kind enough to allow me to post the recipe here. 

Taos Cow Lavender Ice Cream

  • 16 oz heavy cream
  • 16 oz skim milk
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 to 4 egg yolks
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon ground culinary lavender flowers
  1. Heat cream and milk in the top of a double boiler.
  2. Add sugar. 
  3. When sugar is dissolved, add egg yolks.
  4. Still heating, mix completely, but do not let boil. 
  5. Add vanilla and lavender flours.
  6. Pour mix into ice-cream maker and freeze, according to manufacturer's instructions. 
-Makes about a quart.

-Garnish with lavender flowers, piƱon nuts, or fine chocolate sauce.

Now doesn't that sound awesome?!

Taos Cow Ice Cream Company is located in northern New Mexico, in downtown Arroyo Seco on the road between Taos and Taos Ski Valley. They're open every day from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM. Their phone number is (505) 776-5640.
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