Search This Blog

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Forty Years Ago

Christmas Day has always been wonderful--sort of sad in a way, because I never wanted the decorations to go in a box, never wanted the preparations to end, or the anticipation to be over.  When I went off to college, I always made it home for Christmas with my folks on the Big Dry.  The last one I spent in Montana was forty years ago, and it is still special to me.  We all got up Christmas morning; Mom started handing the gifts out to everyone, and she handed me one that wasn't marked.  I eventually opened it up not really suspecting anything, and was stunned when I found  a diamond ring inside!  Bob mailed an engagement ring to my parents with a little note written on spiral notebook paper saying, "I would like for you to put this under the tree for Christmas morning and not let Rosie know about it until then.  I like to give her surprises, and I'm sure this will be the last thing she ever expects to get for Christmas, especially in Montana."  Well, we all know that girls love diamonds, and I was thrilled with this surprise!   Forty years later, I still have the ring, the note to my parents, and Bobby.  Today he and I celebrated Christmas with Robert, Marina, and little Rhys, who just turned one in November.  I can't think of a better way to celebrate a forty year anniversary.  Have a blessed day, and a wonderful new year!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


..How Luxury Lost Its Luster, by Dana Thomas.  Yes, I finally finished it.  Last year I read books like this to my homebound student--even read Atlas Shrugged to him.  Well, not all of it--there were parts I read only to myself.  Anyway, since moving up to the bigger 3A version of school, reading for pleasure has come to a grinding crawl, and that is one thing I do regret.   Paris Breakfasts (see Farmer's Wife's blog) mentioned Deluxe, so I took a chance and ordered it.   I loved Deluxe because it was such a revelation, such a peek inside the name-brand industry from the perfume to the purses, and how it has evolved from a small exclusive, elite industry to a mega bucks, mass production, money generating machine.   All of us who love to sport that designer logo make the industry what it is today.  I have made up my mind to never buy another "knock-off" because I do not want to help this counterfeit industry in any way.  Lots of little kids are used, yes, used to build the fakes.  Thomas interviewed someone who said, "I remember walking into an assembly plant in Thailand a couple of years ago and seeing six or seven little children, all under 10 years old, sitting on the floor assembling counterfeit leather handbags.  The owner had broken the children's legs and tied the lower leg to the thigh so the bones wouldn't mend.  He did it because the children said they wanted to go outside and play."  Now, whether this is true, I can't say.  I don't see how they could work with such pain, but even if it isn't, there are many kids, who are working in terrible conditions to produce a cheap version with a logo that people want.  Things do seem to make a full circle, and at the end of the book she tells about a couple of designers that haven't gone mass.  Christian Louboutin, a Parisian shoe designer (I love shoes) is one who has not sold out, and gone mega-mass. Stilettos, with his signature red soles are, are his trademark, and they are gorgeous.  Take a look for yourself at his own site (get ready for sticker shock if you want to buy). 

I like what he said about his industry, "I did not do a company to make money.  I made shoes and it became a company."  Something to think about in the age of the government trying to dream up "stuff" to stimulate the economy.                               

Another designer, who has remained exclusive, is Alice Cadolle in Paris, who specialize in luxury lingerie.  "The experience of having a custom-made bra at Cadolle is luxury in the old-fashioned sense of the term:  genuine personal attention, exquisite materials, beautiful handcraftsmanship, all to create something just for you."  A basic bra requires three fittings, and will set you back about $800!  Have a look for yourself at where there are no prices, but if you are interested you can probably arrange for your own personal fitting.  Let me know how it goes, because your description is about as close as I will ever get to this luxury.  School teachers' paychecks don't have enough lycra to stretch this far!  P.S.  I should be grading papers.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Chocolate Stout Cake

Finally, I had time to make a cake.  This recipe is from Bon Appetit--not anything I invented.  This is called Chocolate Stout Cake from the Barrington Brewery, Great Barrington, MA.  Here's how it went.   Since my county is dry, and no alcoholic beverages are sold here, I had to make a run to Midland for this dark, nasty beer.  It makes you wonder how a cake could be a cake with this stuff in it.
Sift the lumps out of the cocoa.
I added the cocoa to the beer and butter before the butter was completely melted.

Here it is--two cups of Guinness stout beer and two cups of butter heating with the cocoa.  It is pretty frothy, because the beer really foamed with the low heat.

While the beer mixture is cooling, beat the eggs with the sour cream until it looks like this.

Here is one layer, bubbles and all.  This looks different than any chocolate cake I have ever baked. 

And here is the Stout cake with the ganache icing.  You can see how thick the icing is, and it is delicious.  I am not sold on the cake.  It is dense, and not overly sweet--that is good, but it has a course texture, sort of rubbery and not tender.  I think there is way too much soda in this cake.  The next time I bake it I will use about half the soda, or maybe just one teaspoon, and see how it turns out.  The recipe called for three 8" cake pans that were 2 inches deep.  My pans were only8 x 1 1/2 inches.  You will need at least 2 inches because there was lots of batter  left over.
Here is the recipe, just the way it was printed in Bon Appetit.  This will serve about 16 or more people.  If you ate 1/12 of this three layer delight your beta cells would be in shock!  This is good for a leisure cup of coffee and good conversation.
2 C stout beer
2 C butter
1 1/2 C unsweetend cocoa
4 C flour
4 C sugar
1 T soda (I think 2 tsp. would do it, and maybe one, after all the beer has plenty of bubbles for leavening)
1 1/2 tsp. salt if using unsalted butter
4 jumbo eggs
1 1/3 C sour cream
1.  Preheat the oven 350
2.  Prepare the three cake pans.
3.  Measure the beer into a sauce pan.
4.  Add the butter, and heat on low until the butter begins to melt.
5.  Sift the cocoa into the beer and blend. 
6.  When butter melts remove from heat and cool slightly.
7.  Beat the eggs and sour cream until light and fluffy.
8.  Measure the flour, soda, sugar and salt into a bowl and blend thoroughly.
9.  Add the stout mixture to the egg mixture and beat just enough to combine the two.
10.  Add the flour mixture until it begins to blend.
11.  Get rid of the mixer and fold the batter until blended and no more--don't overmix.
12.  Bake about 30 minutes.
2 C whipping cream
1 pound bittersweet (not unsweetened or semisweet) chocolate
1.  Heat the cream in a heavy saucepan.
2.  Remove from heat and add the chocolate.
3.  Stir until the chocolate is blended, which doesn't take very long.
4.   Refrigerate, and stir from time to time.
5.  Ice the cake when the icing is thick enough to spread.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


 Homecoming pep rally was on the football field with all the elementary kids and parents.  What a week!!!!  We had open house, with Student Council in charge of registration, and guiding parents to the classes.  This is a first for me.  None of the other schools I have taught in needed guide services to find the rooms.  You just headed down the two halls and  found the room yourself, or just asked the person walking around with punch and cookies where they got them. Then the next day Student Council put on a feed for the Lions Club in my room.  We met on Sunday to do some of the fixings.  It took all afternoon to clean up, but at least the kids had to do it.  I did have to wash, dry, and fold all the napkins, and place mats, which amounted to about three loads.  Do the aprons and chef hats for all these classes is a pretty big job.  Now, I know how the coaches feel washing all those uniforms.  It was also six-weeks test week  (I invent and type my own), and then the Student Council was in charge of the coronation ceremony for the homecoming queen.  After all that stress, I managed to get some sort of respiratory virus the kids drug in.  All I can say is--next year will be a piece of cake, and to top it off this is just one more virus I am immune to.  The year is flying by, and I am glad to be in this new school.
Here are the cheerleaders and football players doing "Mustang Muscle."  It scares me half to death when they do these basket tosses, and it is even more dangerous when the football players help throw the girls up in the air.   
Here is an indoor pep rally in "The Dome."  This just about sums it up--all I do is school and more school.  Except today, I get to take care of the grand baby.  Have a good week.  May the Lord bless and keep you.

Monday, September 20, 2010


Nope, not Vegas--Austin!  Weekend before last I went to Austin for the State Student Council Advisors meeting.  The conference was good, and I met people who had lots of ideas, got telephone numbers in case I need to talk.   At least half the state of Wyoming was there to support the "'Pokes,'" who were playing UT Saturday night.  I even met a couple from Chester, Montana on the elevator who flew in for the game.  They had UT apparel on (traitors).  One of the surprises was taking a rickshaw ride down town.  There were a lot of these contraptions on the street Saturday, before and after the game.  I was on the twelfth floor of the hotel,  and could see them wending their way from all the hotels to the stadium.  How these boys kept from being dehydrated, is more than I will ever know.  Most of them pulled with a bicycle, but a few did it the old fashioned way--on foot.  Another lady and I rode one down to 6th street, and that boy's clothes were soaked through, because Austin was hot and sultry. 
 As you can imagine, there wasn't a chunky rickshaw puller in the bunch.   We ate at the Thai Passion--first time for Thai food, and it was really good!  Sixth street is the old part of Austin, and has been renovated for noisy, rowdy  entertainment, and it is only a hop-skip-and jump from the capitol, where even more roudy, noisy stuff goes on. 
There is live music every where, which is just one of Austin's many boasts, so on the way back we did stop at Pete's Dueling Piano Bar to listen to some music. The piano playing was good, but their singing was pretty bad.  It was fun to watch the two piano players work the crowd, trying to manipulate more money for a song.
 Amongst all of the entertainment spots sits the Driscoll Hotel, all sedate and beautiful.  It was built in 1886, back when they knew how to build beautiful buildings, and it is open for business. 
I took this while I was in the rickshaw.

I didn't go to the capitol building , but here it is covered in scaffolding.  It is beautiful, and taller than the U.S. capitol building.  I think each capitol building I have seen is beautiful and special in their own way.
The only souvenir I brought back was a card advertising Coyote Ugly, which I will send to Cactis Lily as soon as I can find an envelope for it.  Some college girls were handing them out to anyone and everyone on the street.  
The t-shirts in the airport either have a long horn on them, or "Keep Austin weird."  It was a pleasant visit, but I am glad to be back where weird is not normal, and there is a little less burnt orange in the environment!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Once more--a Mustang!

I went to Garfield County High School in Jordan, Montana many years ago, and our mascot was the Mustang; our colors were black and orange.  The school was small--maybe  there were 30 who graduated with me;  every one knew each other.  I lived in the dorm part of the time, with all the other country kids; it was a fun time, and I bawled after graduation.  It was Gloria Rath's fault.  She was standing beside me in the line as people came by to congratulate us, and hug us, or shake our hand.  It wasn't long before Gloria started blubbering and I broke down with her.  I became a teacher and my entire teaching career has been in three small towns about like Jordan.  Well, here I am, a Mustang once more.  Our colors are black and gold, not too different.

However, the school population is a lot different.  At this point we have 850 enrolled in high school!  Heck, that is more than dwell in the entire city of Rankin, or Jordan, Montana.  I am in culture shock with 131 students, seven classes, and student council.  STUCO is a BIG DEAL here, and I am just praying every day that God tips me off before I make a mistake.    We are finished with the first two weeks of school, and what a workout it was--7 classes, and one conference, 131 students!  Luckily, I have a class period for student council with only the officers.  Somehow I have got to get FCCLA going, because there are kids in my classes who could really benefit from this organization.  I am still on a learning curve here, so I won't try FCCLA right away.  I am glad I have the opportunity to work here, because the people are great, and the kids are good kids.  It is nice living in a town with a full-fledged grocery store and a couple of Dollar Stores.  The best part is being 37 miles from my cute, and amazing grandson!  Have a blessed week.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

So Long, Rankin--

it's been good to know you.  After a total of 18 years I am going to move on up the road to a 3-A high school.

I will miss the hills, and the little main street going through the middle of the town--a town where you really don't have to lock the doors when you leave the house.
  In this desert the  mesquites are short, and
 and the cacs are tall, and vicious;
the agave blooms are 20 feet tall,

and Pepe` greets us  when Rita and I walk. I will miss basket ball games in the new gym, and in

the old gym, and shoot I may even miss doing concession stands and proms!

I'll miss seeing the kids on the elementary playground, and
how could I ever forget the time I spent at Gossett Elementary?

 I will remember the track meets where Roberto threw the shot,  and

 Rankin High School, where I learned how to teach home economics, special ed., and enjoyed the day to day activities of Roberto and his friends when they were scholars there.  It was a magical time in our lives!
There are many special memories about Red Devil Stadium, where Bob and I watched Roberto play some great 11-man football, and the boys  put lots of points on the scoreboard (Roberto was named All State his senior year). 
Yes, there are many wonderful memories for us at Rankin.  I will especially miss my daily walks with Rita (she kept me going when I would have rather done something else) and talked me through some pretty tough stuff.  To my prayer partners, Jennifer, Anita, Evelynn, and Jo Beth--keep praying, and say some prayers for me.  Paula, I will miss our Emmaus reunion meetings.
We are only 100 miles away from each other, and that is not far at all.  So, I will just say--thanks for the wonderful memories!  I love each and every one of you who have been a part of our lives.  May God bless you, protect you, and make you prosper.


Friday, July 16, 2010

Living in Chaos!

No, chaos is not a small village west of Alpine or somewhere on the Mexican border.  It is in the newly remodled house I moved to, and now all my possessions are boxed and ready to move again.  After 18 years, I am going on to another adventure????  Only time will tell whether it was a smart thing to do.  One thing about it, I have cleaned out, thrown away, given away a lot of junk at school and here at the house. 
We have had a lot of rain from the hurricane, and the tarantulas, millipedes and turtles are on the move because of it.  I love to see the tarantulas walking in their mechanical gait across the highways, and I cheer them on, hoping they won't get squashed.  This one on the toe of my shoe was marching across the drive way at school. Here he is trying to escape.
At least I have had a little time this summer to enjoy the grandbaby, who is nearly crawling and loves to eat peas!
More later, and until then let God lead your life.  You will be in for excitement!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Germany Sent Us Their Best!

Just for the school year 2009-2010, though.  Miss Lena Burbach, our exchange student from Germany, made her way to West Texas for climate and culture shock!  It was August; the kids were running cross country in desert heat, and they had been in training for several weeks when Lena got here.  She opted out of cross country, but dived into basket ball and track.  She is an amazing student--speaks and reads, and understands English at an amazing level .  I had the pleasure of having Lena in Apparel, and also Nutrition and Food Science.  During the spring semester she a a couple of other girls tackled a design project for Texas Technology Student Association, something none of us had ever done.  The theme was business attire, and here she is in the pants and blouse.  We took a blouse, and suit pattern that fit Lena, cut them to pieces in order to move darts, change the shape of darts.  This was a button up the front blouse.
Then we made a yoke, moved all the front darts  into tucks attached to the yoke.  One of the girls sewed the
fluffy, gathered strips of bias cut chiffon on the yoke.
We made the plain cap sleeves into short puffed sleeves, and made it open in the back with a tie at the waist line.

Then we made a flared peplum for the back, and changed the princess darts into a semi-circle on the front.

You can barely see the semi-circular dart, but it ties in to the peplum.  We were disqualified at the gate, because the girls weren't wearing the TTSA uniform--my fault totally.   I don't know about you but when it's my first time out of the chute, I really don't know what to expect.  But the process was great, and getting to work with a smart girl like Lena was priceless.  Lena is on her way back to Germany as I write this.  God bless you! 

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Cowboy! I Found the Pictures!

Cowboy as a kid, about 17 probably, and here he is a young soldier boy in the mid-60s.