Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Thunder Rolls

Yes folks, just like Garth sang, the lightning did strike.  We had a bit of a storm last week and lightning either hit our house or very, very close to it.  The sound was an amazingly loud crack accompanied by a bright, white flash of light.
It seemed all was well; no smoldering shingles or power outages or the like.  That is until I tried to use the Blu-ray player.  No connection to the home network.  So, after further investigation, Thor decided that I didn’t need two of the four LAN cables that were connected to our router.  Better to fry cabling than the Blu-ray player itself.
I thought we made out pretty well and decided to reward our situation with a router upgrade, since I was going to be in working on the system anyway.  I bought a Netgear N900 Dual Band Gigabit Router to replace the Linksys WRT54G.  What a difference in speed and connectivity.  I highly recommend this router for all your home network needs.  It even has USB ports so you can connect an external hard drive and printer.
The Netgear N900 also broadcasts a separate and secure access point for your guests, besides a 2.4ghz and 5.0ghz connection.  All in all, a very good unit.
imgresUpon further investigation of the household, I discovered that the lightning took out our Wii console.  It was plugged directly into a household outlet and not through any surge protection.  My bad!!!
I have always enjoyed watching lightning during storms and will continue to be awed by its unique beauty and unharnessed power.  It is truly amazing at the amount of energy it contains and the amount of damage it can do, even in an indirect strike.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Cheese Potato (hash brown) Casserole

Hashbrown Casserole (2)
It seems almost certain that you’ve had this dish at one potluck dinner, church supper, progressive dinner or cookout. I’ve seen variations to this recipe in numerous cookbooks in my collection, but I wanted to try this one for quite awhile because it has all my favorite things – sour cream, cheddar cheese and hash browns.
I made no modifications to this recipe except to include half a medium fresh onion instead of minced onion and I put it in a 9 x 13 glass cake pan instead of a 2 quart casserole. I wanted more surface area to put the cereal crunch top onto. This recipe came from More Steamboat Simmers cookbook by Cheese Potato CasseroleCandy Coleman for the Routt Memorial Hospital Auxiliary published in 1983.
  2 – 12 oz pkgs. frozen, hashed brown potatoes
2 cups sour cream
1 can cream of chicken soup
½ cup of butter, melted
1 tsp salt
1 Tbs. minced onion
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
2 cups coarsely crushed corn flakes
¼ cup of melted butter
Place potatoes in colander, let stand until completely thawed and excess moisture has drained off. Combine sour cream, soup, and ½ cup melted butter. Mix well. Add salt, onion and cheese. Mix well. Blend in potatoes. Place in shallow 2-quart casserole. Combine ¼ cup melted butter and corn flakes and sprinkle on top. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees about 50 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. This is at its best when assembled not more than 2 hours before it goes into the oven. Serves 8. Recipe provided by Jan Vail.
This was creamy, cheesy and delicious and was even eaten at my house leftover the next day by my son with no complaints about the sogginess of the corn flakes on reheating.
Hashbrown Casserole  3

Let us know your favorite recipe made with hash browns?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Marriage is a Dying Institution

I found out that the whole idea of “until death do us part” is no long valid, that is, according to Debra Messing of Will and Grace fame. It saddened me to read an article about an actress I’ve always liked in the June 2012 issues of Ladies’ Home Journal and find the following:
Would you say that you and your husband grew apart?
No. [She pauses again.] I think the institution of marriage is a noble thing. I think the idea of a partner for life is incredibly romantic. But now we're living to 100. A hundred years ago, people were dying at age 37. Til death do us part was a much differenDebra Messingt deal.
Messing was answering a question about her split from her partner of 20 years - husband of 10 years, as posed by Johanna Schneller, author.
Twenty-six years ago my husband and I exchanged wedding vows and included “until death do us part.” I didn’t say until I reach the age of 45 and get tired of being with you. My husband didn’t say until she starts to get gray hair and complains about her job. I totally get that people grow and change and perhaps aren’t perfect for each other anymore, but people should admit that and not hide behind some crazy statement. It’s ridiculous to declare that the institution of marriage was only really meant to last because people were only living until 37 and now they are living until 100.
Love is timeless: Lionel and Ellen Buxton, who have been together for an amazing 82 years, have joined Twitter to offer relationship advice
I hope Lionel and Ellen Buxton don’t read that interview.  This couple has been married 82 years and offered marriage advice on Twitter this past Valentine’s Day at!/lionelandellen
I guess what irks me more than anything about the quote in the LHJ interview is Messing made it seem that those of us who are still with spouses after years together – my marriage at 26 years and my in-laws at 61 years – just haven’t grown or changed. That’s what the whole idea is of partnering with someone for life. It’s to grow and experience life with them. It’s to see things through with them. My husband has stood by me through times where I’m sure it would have been easier for him to leave, but what would that have accomplished? We would have lost out on great memories together and the achievement of making it through tough times and celebrating happy times.
And again, I’m not saying that some people shouldn’t be separated or divorced, but claim it as a failure, learn from it and don’t put some lame excuse to it.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day 2012

Thank you Veterans!  And special thoughts of my father who passed away December 2001 and served in the U. S. Navy on the USS Jenkins 1954 to 1956.
Memorial Day (May 28, 2012) is a day to honor Americans who've died in military service.

A great site to spend some time on to reflect on the history and meaning of Memorial Day can be found at:

While viewing the site above, I found the following information on the proper way to observe Memorial Day, if you feel so inclined:

The "Memorial" in Memorial Day has been ignored by too many of us who are beneficiaries of those who have given the ultimate sacrifice. Often we do not observe the day as it should be, a day where we actively remember our ancestors, our family members, our loved ones, our neighbors, and our friends who have given the ultimate sacrifice:

  • by visiting cemeteries and placing flags or flowers on the graves of our fallen heroes.
  • by visiting memorials.
  • by flying the U.S. Flag at half-staff until noon.
  • by flying the 'POW/MIA Flag' as well (Section 1082 of the 1998 Defense Authorization Act).
  • by participating in a "National Moment of Remembrance": at 3 p.m. to pause and think upon the true meaning of the day, and for Taps to be played.
  • by renewing a pledge to aid the widows, widowers, and orphans of our fallen dead, and to aid the disabled veterans.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Important Members of our Family

We are a dog family. Our children have experienced fish in bowls and in tanks as pets, but for the most part, their pets have always been dogs.

We had our first dog for 13 years. Misty was a golden retriever/chow mix that we adopted from a pet rescue organization. She grew up with our kids. She suffered through their youthful exuberance and constant coaching to fetch – although she never would. She was treated with hugs and kisses from the kids for years. She was that silent companion who shared our secrets and our sorrows. Misty was a great member of our family and my husband and I cried like babies when we had to put her down. Misty had been sick for quite a while. We’d treated her for some issues with bowel and incontinence problems. And at the end she was losing use of her hind legs. One weekend our youngest was visiting her brother at college and Misty was in terrible pain and had lost all control. So we made the toughest decision of our lives and went to the vet. We came home alone that day, but Misty remains forever a part of our family.
Several months before we lost Misty, Graham joined our family. Graham is a 2nd generation cockapoo born to a litter of four. Our daughter introduced us to him and we met him when he was small enough to sit in our cupped hands. ByGraham 3 the time he was weaned he was long enough to cradle on our forearm. We had chosen the cockapoo as these dogs do not shed much, especially compared to Misty who shed like crazy.

Graham loved Misty and always wanted to wrestle with her, but she showed him who was boss and they kept their distance until the last couple of months when Misty was slowing down. Graham would lie down beside Misty and they would nap together.
When we had to put Misty down, Graham searched all over the house for her for several weeks until he realized she wasn’t coming home. With Misty no longer around Graham took up residence in the master bedroom and became best friend to my husband. They are best buds and he is a major part of our life. Even though Graham is officially our daughter’s dog, her moving away to college put the care of Graham on us.Graham
Cockapoos aren’t known for their fetching skills, but Graham loves to play ball and retrieve stray golf balls that end up in our backyard  and even plays Frisbee, oftentimes catching it with his paws. Graham’s antics may make it to the blog on occasion and we hope you will think he is as cute as we do.
Graham (2)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

It’s Been Two Years!!

That’s right, we’ve been waiting for new music from John Mayer for two years.  And it’s been a long wait.

Born and Raised is John’s new offering and the cover art had me anxious and excited to hear the tunes it contained.  Upon listening to the tracks, I am a little disappointed that they don’t live up to my expectations.

If you are looking for catchy rhythms and crazy guitar licks that have been the staple of John’s previous recordings, then you may be disappointed too.  This album is a departure from that.  Sure, there are a couple of tunes that could be considered to be in the style of the past, but most of the tracks go in a new direction.

That’s not to say this is bad.  I was just expecting the John Mayer vibe and he has changed and probably grown up along the way.  This collection is somewhat folksy and most of the instrumentation is acoustic guitar, steel and the like.

When searching the internet for information on the release date and previews, I came across a review done by a student from Steinbrenner High School in their News Magazine called the Oracle. The young man is named Jake Bittle and is the A&E Editor and after reading his review, I can see a bright future for him.  Jake has a done a wonderful job explaining this album and it is well worth the time to give him a read.

Overall, I recommend giving Born and Raised a listen. I like a few of the tracks and the rest are growing on me.  I was just looking for more of the laid back, bluesy rhythms of the past in a new wrapper.  If you are a vinyl freak, this is being sold in both CD and Vinyl formats, so check it out and let me know what you think.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Pancakes Part II – Las Vegas

We planned a trip early this year to go to Las Vegas in March.  Last year, before our travels to San Diego, I’d read about a place called Hash House A Go Go ( ) located in the Hillcrest area of San Diego and had planned on going there on Sunday morning of our visit to San Diego. When we got there the crowd lined the streets out front and we drove around the streets near the building several times and finally gave up because we couldn’t find a place to park.  So, as we planned our trip this year to Vegas, I found that Hash House A Go Go had four locations in Vegas.  One of these locations was at the Imperial Palace, which was only two casinos away from The Venetian where we were staying. So I told the husband that our first breakfast in Vegas would take place at Hash House and we would wait no matter how many people were there.
When we arrived it looked extremely busy and there were probably 50 people waiting. They said the wait would be about 20 minutes. We looked at the crowd and figured it would be quite a bit longer. Note: Imperial Palace is owned by Harrah’s and if you have a Harrah’s card and are a high tier cardholder you have a separate line. Unfortunately we don’t have that prestige. But, indeed, the wait was less than 20 minutes.
We perused the menu. They are apparently well known for their chicken and waffles, but I kept leaning towards the pancakes or as they call them on their menu, flapjacks. I flip-flopped between getting the Apple Cinnamon (our waiter’s favorite) and the Banana. Again, just like at Aunt Emma’s Pancakes the year before in San Diego, I opted for the Banana.
The waiter told us that our food might take awhile, but he sat the plates (or should I say platters) in front of us less than 10 minutes later.
Hash House a go go 2
The batter on these flapjacks must have been concocted differently than most because while there was height to the flapjack it had a crispiness to the edge that was fabulous. There were at least two bananas sliced down the middle lengthwise and then in half. They were placed on top and the batter cooked up around them. The flapjack the waiter brought to the table was  gigantic. They gave me syrup to go with it, but the “cake” and the bananas cooked inside were so flavorful that I left the syrup untouched on the table. I did use a good deal of the scoop of butter on top to add a little wetness to the top. The portion was so large that I was only able to eat about half it.  To give you an idea of the actual size, the “plate” that it was on was the size of a charger plate.  The sHash House a go go 1econd picture shows the flapjack in comparison to my hand. At a cost of $8.95 it was one of the best bargains we had during our Vegas trip. 

 Check out their menu at the link above and see what tempting delights they have. My husband opted for a Farm Benedict - Andy’s sage fried chicken with fresh spinach, hardwood smoked bacon, market tomato, griddled mozzarella, chipotle cream and scrambled eggs. This was priced at $15.95 and was hugeHash House a go go 3. It came on top of biscuits and mashed potato with fried spaghetti for decoration.
Our visit to Vegas included four mornings and had I not already had other places to try out, we would have gone back every day of our visit.
And for those of you wondering, the Hash in Hash House is in honor of their seven dishes of hash – dishes made with a variety of meats and vegetables mixed together.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Pancakes Part I - San Diego

Pancakes. I am a huge fan of these lovely creations. When both of our kids were still at home Sunday mornings meant either pancakes or Belgian waffles. The kids and I would all sit around the family room and yell our encouragement to their father as he whipped up the pancakes.
Now that the kids are gone we don’t have our Sunday ritual like before. But that doesn’t keep us from enjoying the hunt for great breakfast food when we’re on vacation.
Last year we visited San Diego and happened upon a place called Aunt Emma’s Pancakes (
Aunt Emma's
Located in Chula Vista, in what looked like an older Perkins or Denny’s building, this place was very busy on a Friday morning with local construction workers, business people and some tourists. The wait was less than 15 minutes long as the turnover was quick.
As we poured over the menu we were astonished at the variety of food. I couldn’t decide between a protein breakfast of eggs and bacon or pancakes – so I had eggs and bacon with a side of pancakes. I chose the Banana Nut --made with fresh bananas & pecan nuts topped with powdered sugar.
This pancake was very dense, but delicious. It’s been over a year since I had it but I can still remember the sweet Bananas Foster-like taste to the sliced bananas, pecans and powdered sugar topping. I ended up eating only half of the eggs and bacon so I could concentrate on the dessert-like breakfast treat.

Aunt Emmas

The menu at Aunt Emma’s extends beyond pancakes. My husband ended up with a California Omelet which was basically a Denver omelet with avocado, hash browns on the side and fresh squeezed orange juice. Even with the large size of the omelet, he was able to empty the plate and have a couple of bites of my pancake.
This huge meal was eaten in anticipation of our visit to the San Diego Zoo and a day full of walking that we’ll discuss in a later travel post.

Friday, May 18, 2012

But You Bought More…

The other day I was at the cash register in the grocery store trying to finish my shopping. I had stopped in to pick up 15 32 oz bottles of Powerade for my daughter and two items for dinner that night. The store was offering one of those buy 10 get 5 free coupon deals on Powerade.
The cashier finished with my order and I handed her the coupon. She appeared to be about 18 or 19 years old. She was a very cute young girl. She could have been anyone’s daughter.

She looked at the coupon and down the belt and said that I couldn’t use the coupon. I asked her why not and she looked at me and honest to goodness said…”you bought more than 15 drinks.” I was dumbfounded and asked her what the problem was – I was sure I’d only picked up 15, but why would there be a problem if I bought more. She looked me in the eye and said “the coupon says buy 10 get 5 free and you bought more.” I had to hold back my chuckle and my slightly rising temper with this young lady. Before saying anything more, I glanced over at the grocery bagger. Thankfully she laughed out loud and told the cashier that the coupon just meant that I had to buy a minimum of 15 but I could buy more. The cashier just kind of looked at her and said, “Oh,” scanned the coupon without a problem and completed my transaction.
I walked out of the store shaking my head in disbelief. Hopefully the young cashier was new and was schooled in coupons and their use, but I imagine she’ll not make that mistake again.
Have you ever experienced an absurd situation like that? I was certainly glad there was the experienced bagger there so I didn’t have to try and get the cashier to understand what the coupon meant. I think the young bagger needs a promotion to cashier.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Black Bottom Cupcakes

Black Bottom Cupcake 9More Steamboat Simmers is a cookbook in our collection that was put together by The Friends of Routt Memorial Hospital Auxiliary in 1983 by Candy Coleman.  Many of our cookbooks, including this one, were picked up at the annual Greater St. Louis Book Fair benefitting education and literacy programs.
Throughout the cookbook are recipes and interesting stories about areas in and around Steamboat Springs, Colorado.
The recipe below caught my attention and we had to try it.  This cupcake is more like a muffin with a creamy chocolate chip cheesecake center.  The recipe says it makes 24 cupcakes and I may have put too much dough into the cupcake liners but it made 12 cupcakes and 2 ramekin sized cupcakes.
The recipe says to refrigerate before serving, but I’m not much about waiting, so I had a muffin about a half an hour after they came out of the oven. The cream cheese was still somewhat gooey and not set up. These muffins have a very rich flavor. It is moist like a typical muffin. The cream cheese –chocolate chip layer is enveloped by the cupcake batter and fills the inside of the cupcake with a rich cheesecake.

Black Bottom Cupcake 13
The sugar and almonds on top add a lovely crunch. I did make a ramekin with no topping and it did not brown or have the crunch the others did. In my opinion, it was not as pleasing.
I’m not sure exactly why these are called Black Bottom Cupcakes as the chocolate chips did not melt to create a “black bottom” but just appear to float as they would in a chocolate chip cookie. Nonetheless, the recipe was quite tasty and was eaten at our house as a quick snack throughout the day.
Black Bottom Cupcake 8

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

My Cookbook Obsession

I have always had a passion for all things in printed form.  I love books, magazines, newspapers, and even the backs of cereal boxes.  This has caused me to have shelves of books, including cookbooks.  My absolute favorite are those spiral-bound books created by different groups for fundraisers.
  Cookbook Collection

These books inspire me with their quirky recipe titles like “Nightie-Night Puffs” from Crestwood Christian Church 2003’s Variety Recipes book.  These books provide any number of ideas for using Velveeta, french fried onions or cornflakes.  On occasion I will share with you some of these recipes that we have tried and liked.

Bach for an Encore
And sometimes you just find a cookbook that you can’t pass up because of the name and/or cover like this one from The Junior Committee in Cleveland, Ohio to benefit The Cleveland Orchestra.

Monday, May 14, 2012

They Did It Again!

Once again, in their own sort of brilliance, the TV networks have thrown their darts at the programming board and cancelled shows.  Some darts actually hit their target and picked shows that were awful and had no business being on television, wasting people’s time.  But others veered from their intending, so I assume, and hit shows that I watch, and that’s not good with me.
(Photo Source:
One such errant shot hit Fox’s Alcatraz.  Too many questions are left unanswered.  How did the inmates vanish?  Where did they go?  Who has the keys and what are they for?  Besides, it’s set in San Francisco, one of my favorite cities, and I enjoy seeing the town on a weekly basis.
(Photo Source:
Another wayward dart hit ABC’s Missing.  Will Ashley Judd ever find her son and thwart her evil mentor?  Come on you guys, give a show a chance.  Who doesn’t like a series based on spies with chases scenes and shoot-outs and such?  I know I do, or should I say did?  How can you say that Don’t Trust the B in Apt. 23 is worth keeping over Missing

(Photo Source:
And what is Ben Bailey going to do now that Discovery cancelled Cash Cab?  Another errant shot that takes an enjoyable show away from me.  This show had a unique spin on trivia game shows and allowed us to see all sorts of people test their knowledge.

All in all, the networks managed to keep a lot of the programming I enjoy in the mix.  And truth be told, there are way too many shows for me to watch.  But I will do my best to see as many as possible and write about them in the future, hopefully before they are cancelled! 

Did any of your favorite shows get cancelled? Find out at

Sunday, May 13, 2012


In addition to having two children of my own and their furry little brother, I was told the other day by one of my co-workers, “You’re our Work Mom.” 
The situation that started it all was on our way, about 4 to 5 miles from the office, to a company outing that was 40 miles away and at that time I said, “This might be a bad time to ask, but does everyone have their ticket?”  One of the guys in the car patted his pockets and said that he had left his ticket on his desk. So we turned around and went back to the office.
Once we got to the event the story was passed on and that’s when one of our co-workers said that I was the “Work Mom.” I realized that this was very true. I have two adult children of my own, but I still consider myself a nurturer. I work in an industry that is very deadline driven and I’m usually checking on my co-workers to see if they require any help. Co-workers often seek me out for advice and often times I serve as the ears for a vent session.
Years ago I worked in academia and had several work study students who assisted me. Many times these workers would seek me out with questions or problems and I realized that many times they saw me as their “School Mom.” Many times they just needed a shoulder to cry on, someone to cheer them up and encourage them if they were upset about a test or their study load. I was happy to offer that help to these workers as I would hope that my children, one of whom was in college at the time, would have someone on their campus to support them.
Look around you and see if you have a “Work Mom” or perhaps you are the “Work Mom.” Take the time to thank that person for their support or if you’re the one your co-workers look to, remember that you can make a difference in a person’s life with just a kind word at the right time.
Do you have a work mom? Is she nurturing or is she annoying?