Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Can you help?


This is my 600th post! And later in May will be my 2nd blogiversary! I guess that's a lot of posts in less than 2 years - but it doesn't feel like it at all!

And I just happened to create this layout last week - with some pictures that had been on my table for a very long time and with some lovely new Making Memories papers and chipboard that Heather (thanks, H!) had given me. I had fun doing this and I am very pleased with the results, which are way better in real life. I have no idea about the foggy look - I think my scanner is conspiring against me :((

Monday, April 28, 2008

2008 Quad Trips - #1

Heading down the hill and out onto the trails! There were 15 of us and we had lots of fun on our first ride of the year.

Jill and Marcia did some riding on 4 legged animals, instead of machines.

My brother Del was holding his wife, Marcia's horse for her before we started out. The horse was pretty much doing whatever he wanted!

Our day included a poker rally, with Darrin being declared the winner. He is the luckiest guy in our family!!

This is some of what we went through!

At this stop, a very old Chevy car from the 1930's intrigued the guys.

My nephew, Ed, splashing through one of many mudpuddles.

My niece, Pamela, in one of the snowbanks.

Three girls and their quads!

Family photo of my sister, brother-in-law and niece - maybe for this year's Christmas card?!

A New Season of Fun!

We are home from a great weekend of quadding fun! It was muddy and snowy but we had lots of fun playing outside.

Our group picture, as organized by Kelsey who always sets her camera up and uses the timer to capture us all. Thanks for sharing!!

I'll show you more tomorrow - I need to go to bed now!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

These Two -

could watch videos of themselves all day long!!

She is fascinated with the "'puter" and even started the video playing all by herself the other day. She was so impressed and laughed and laughed!!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Food, Glorious Food!

Have you heard of this amazing product?

It's Norwex Fresh Wash and Heather and I love it! When you bring your produce home from the grocery store, fill a sink with cold water and add 4 or 5 squirts of this product. Soak your fruits and vegetables for at least 30 seconds (or longer) and their shelf life will be 2 or 3 times longer than if you store them unwashed. It really works!! I filled the sink tonight and started with the fruit - grapes, strawberries, apples and pears. After about 5 minutes, I took them out and laid them on a layered teatowel so they could dry. Then I put green onions, celery, asparagus and peppers in the water. After about 5 minutes (or longer, depending on where I get sidetracked to!), I laid them on a towel and put a head of green leaf lettuce in the water to soak. Then I drained the water, bagged all the produce and put it in the fridge. I had some red grapes that were purchased last Friday, soaked in the Fresh Wash and were still in perfect condition today. Since I started using this, I find myself using way more produce because it's already washed and ready to use. And I have virtually nothing go bad in the fridge. The product is bio-based, all natural and biodegradable. It's great to remove the waxy film that is on apples and other fruit. It's sold at home parties (along with other awesome natural cleaning cloths and products) and you can go to www.norwex.com to find a dealer near you.

So, how about a couple of recipes that you might enjoy for your weekend entertaining?! I made these two dishes to take to my brother-in-law's 50th birthday party tomorrow. We're going to be quadding - and seeing if we can get stuck in the mud and snowdrifts! My contributions to supper are these appetizers, both from the amazing book "Eat, Shrink and Be Merry".

The Big Dipper (layered shrimp dip)

1 tub (8 oz./250 g) garden vegetable spreadable cream cheese
2 cups light sour cream
1 1/2 cups chunky style salsa (mild, medium or hot)
1 cup packed medium cheddar cheese
1 cup chopped romaine or other crunchy lettuce
1 1/2 cups coarseley chopped cooked large shrimp
1/2 cup diced tomatoes
1/3 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup chopped pitted black olives (optional)

Beat together cream cheese and sour cream until smooth. Spread mixture evenly over bottom of a serving platter. (You could use a glass lasagna dish.)
Spoon salsa over sour cream layer and spread to the edges, leaving a 1/2 inch border. Top salsa with shredded cheese, then chopped lettuce, followed by shrimp. Sprinkle tomatoes, green onions and black olives over shrimp.
Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. Serve with baked tortilla chips or thick slices of bell peppers and cucumber rounds. Multigrain melba toast rounds are also a tasty accompaniment.
Tip: use a thick sour cream for this dip, so the bottom layer will better support the other ingredients. If the salsa is too runny, drain some of the liquid before spreading it on the sour cream layer. Use large shrimp - even though you are chopping them, they'll look much nicer and more impressive than teensy, weensy shrimp.

Makes 12 servings.

Lord of the Wings

12 large boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 2.5 lbs.) I used chicken wings
1/3 cup your favourite barbecue sauce
2 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 tbsp. liquid honey
2 tbsp. lemon or lime juice
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. chili powder
4 to 5 dashes hot pepper sauce (optional)
1 tsp. cornstarch

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a 9 X 13 inch baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.
If using chicken thighs - trim fat and cut each thigh in half. If using wings - trim tips and cut apart at wing joint.
Place pieces in a single layer in prepared baking pan - I had a few more so ended up with 2 layers.
Whisk together barbecue sauce, soy sauce, mustard, honey, lemon juice, garlic, chili powder ad hot pepper sauce in a small bowl. Spoon sauce evenly over chicken pieces.
Bake, uncovered, for 1 hour, turning pieces after 20 minutes and 40 minutes, until chicken is cooked and sauce is bubbly. Arrange chicken on a platter and keep warm. Pour sauce from pan into a small pot. Combine cornstarch with 2 tsp. water and mix until smooth. Stir cornstarch mixture into sauce. Bring to a boil and whisk constantly until mixture has thickened (won't take long). Serve wings with extra sauce for dipping.
These are delicious and will disappear fast!

Sorry I don't have any pictures (Pioneer Woman would be disappointed in me!) - I totally forgot to take some!

Bon Appetit! Have a great weekend, wherever you are!

Thursday, April 24, 2008


Heather had a doctor's appointment yesterday so we came to babysit and play with Miss H!

She is talking up a storm with her favourite phrase being "Pa-a-a-pa, Pa-a-a-pa!" They are off to the park to play in the snow (there's still lots of it but the temperature is warmer today) and swing now.

Monday, April 21, 2008

South American Highlights #9


It's a cold snowy day in Alberta so come away with me to the Amazon Jungle!

While we were at the Eco Park Lodge, we took boats upstream a short way to visit a monkey rehabilitation center. Monkeys that have been taken away from smugglers would come here to be reintroduced to the jungle. Most of them are found at airports, drugged and stuffed into suitcases on their way out of the country. Poachers and smugglers are heavily fined but still some manage to get away with it.

Our visit was planned to coincide with feeding time so we could see the largest number of monkeys. They come in from wherever they might be roaming in the jungle to get some food. They hope that eventually they will be independent again but it's a long process.

There were about 25 monkeys in several species who came for lunch.

What a strong tail this guy had as he stretched to find treats. Love the jungle paint that Peter's wearing here. (As I've been reviewing pictures, I'm struck by how many pictures of Peter we have in our collection. I'm in the process of getting them together so I can print them for Annie, his wife. I think she's going to have a great collection of their last trip together.)

Lou, from Washington State, made a new friend.

I was holding a Brazil nut and this guy was quick to come and get it.

The Amazon jungle was a fascinating place - so much to see and do! And we only saw a small corner of it. This is definitely a place you need to put on your list of spots to visit!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Weekend Creative - part 2

It's still snowing here - I can't believe that it will be the longest day of the year in just 2 months! The temperature is -8 degrees Celsius so it's pretty cold and the wind is blowing too. Eastern Alberta is in the throes of a winter blizzard today. Hopefully this will all pass by soon. So it's a good day to do a bit more writing!

My Life Story
Part 2 - My First Home

My parents moved to a farm 2.5 miles west of Millet after they were married in July, 1954. Dad purchased this farm for $11,000 from Cliff and Alice Wagner, a local farm family in 1953. He had saved the money for the down payment by working for Calgary Power, installing power lines in the West Liberty area when electricity came into the area. The farmyard was partway into the quarter section at the top of a hill, behind a bluff of trees. The driveway came in from the north and curved up the hill. Big spruce trees separated the west side of the yard from the driveway. I still remember how they towered over us and how nothing would grow under them along that side of the yard. The yard site included a tall 2 story house that had been built in 1910, an big old shed that was used as a pump house and a log barn with several lean-tos, one of which later became a barn for the pigs. Across from the barn was a big granary with an aisle down the middle and bins on either side. Also on the yard was an old chicken coop and another small granary.

At first, we used only the downstairs of the house and I remember the living room/dining room on the north side of the house being closed off during the winter months. Mom says they had no furniture for those rooms so they didn’t use them. To us kids, the kitchen was the hub of our home. Here Mom was often busy cooking or baking. We gathered at the kitchen table for meals and to play. The table was positioned under a big window that looked south out on to the rest of the yard so we could see Dad busy at work outside or heading for the house. Mom’s uncle, Louie Tauber, had come during the summer before they were married, and installed this window after tearing down a lean-to outside which had been used to store extra wood. The lean-to was a haven for mice and they had no place in my parent’s brand-new-to-them home! Mom’s kitchen was along the east side of the big open room and a window over the sink looked out on to the garden and clothesline. As long as we lived in this house there was no running water - just a bucket of water with a big dipper in it on the kitchen counter beside the sink. Water was carried in from the pumphouse and heated on the big white wood stove that dominated the north wall of the room, right beside a washstand and mirror. I can still picture my Dad standing at that mirror and combing his hair back before coming to the table for meals. The kitchen also had a small black woodstove that stood along the west wall and heated the room. Between the washstand and this stove was a door that opened to the stairs that led down to the basement. When my brother Brent (who was 2 years younger than me) was a toddler, he fell down those stairs onto the dirt packed floor below. He needed stitches on his forehead to close the gash that resulted but I don’t remember the incident. Close to the front door of the house, on the side that had the master bedroom, was a small room where the cream separator and milk pails were kept between milkings.

Oh, my - the memories are coming! Funny how they flood back once you start writing.

ETA - We've had nearly a foot of snow now!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Weekend Creative

It's a cold, snowy day - a perfect day for writing assignments! Over at her blog, Ali Edwards has a weekend creative challenge to journal your life story. So I wrote a little part, after 2 phone calls to my mom for more details.

Part 1 - Birth
I was born on Good Friday, April 8th, 1955, right at midnight. Dr. Dykes, Mom’s doctor, asked her if she wanted the date to be April 7th or 8th and she chose the 8th. Later she said she wished she’d chosen the 7th as it was my Great-Grandma, Emma Tauber’s, birthday but she’d forgotten that in the delivery room when the doctor asked the question. Ramona Asp was the delivery room nurse. Through the years, my birthday has often fallen on the festival days of Palm Sunday, Good Friday or Easter. I was due on May 11th but my Mom has RH- blood, which can cause complications for babies. Fifty + years ago it was a pretty big deal.

I was born in Wetaskiwin Hospital, the first child of Gustav Eddy Lange and Elfriede Hulda Hetman. I was the first grandchild for Wilhelm Hetman and Hulda Tauber, my mom’s parents and the ninth grandchild for John Lange and Helen Pohl, my dad’s parents. My maternal great grandparents were Emma Becker and Ludwig Tauber and Gottleib Hetman and Amelia Krueger. My paternal great grandparents were Friedrich Lange and Julianna Kottke and Emelie Eckert and Gottleib Pohl. All of my great-grandparents were in Germany or Poland. In 1967, Great Gramma Tauber came to Canada for a visit but she was the only one I ever met.

My dad chose my name, Crystal Louise. Other names they considered were Gwendolyn (can’t imagine that!) and Teresa, after my Mom’s aunt in Germany and which they later gave to my sister.

Mom stayed in the hospital for a week and then took me home to the farm, 2 miles west of Millet. Two days later, Dad drove to Onoway and picked up Gramma Hetman, who came and stayed with Mom for a week. Dad went back to work that week with Tauber Construction, where he worked with plaster and stucco. In the evening after work he came home to more work on the farm. They had a few cows to milk, including a red one named Bossy, which my grandparents had given to them as a wedding gift.

More to come soon, I hope!

A Very Good Day

One of my absolute favourite educational conferences is the International Reading Association's spring gathering. So yesterday I had a chance to hang out with other teachers and learn more about reading. Several speakers shared ideas on the best ways to teach reading and writing and how to encourage a love of reading in kids. Good stuff!!

One of the best things about this conference is the book display area and the opportunity to buy the newest and best children's books!! I got some great new titles for Meadow and Helayna :))

My good friends DonaMae and Audrey. The three of us have sat together in many professional development sessions over the years and we've added good ideas and strategies to our teaching repertoire.

And this was the menu cover at Earl's where our visiting continued after the conference. I loved it!!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Photography Practice

Remember that marvelous camera lens that I got for my birthday? I've been playing with it - and it's making me very happy!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


I have so much to be thankful for this week. I am blessed every single day.

1. Warm weather and sunshine in the spring time. We've enjoyed a few days of it but it's not going to last - the forecast is for -4 and flurries on Saturday, Sunday and into next week. That just means lawn and garden work will have to wait yet - and that's something to be thankful for!!

2. Walks with these two special people!

The plan to get up on the rock didn't work out so well!

3. New recipes - I tried Sauerkraut with Apples and Pork Chops this week.

4. Learning with and helping my confirmation class to understand God's word, what it means to believe in Him and how to live your life as He intended you to do. Teens can ask the hardest questions! But that's a very good thing when we are learning.

5. Learning new creative techniques

My sister and her friend are always finding something new to try and yesterday I got to join them. I was the rookie so I got the job of sprinkling glitter all over things - and then trying to put the extra away and brush it off everything!

These are going to become cards very soon! They were made using tacky tape, punches and 3 colors of ultrafine glitter. They are so much better in real life!

6. Happy mail like cards, invitations and notes - I so appreciate the time and effort that people take to send these along.

7. Haircuts and new hairdressers - it worked out just great!

8. Phone calls from loved ones - this morning the first call of the day was "Hi, Gramma!" - what a sweet sound!!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Creating Getaway

I came over to my sister's for a little creative time and we are having a great time together. Today we:
- had Eggs Benedict for breakfast
- went for a walk on the crocus hill
- had pizza and pineapple for lunch
- learned a new technique using tacky tape and glitter (so, so pretty!)
- worked on albums using Stacy Julian's "Finish Line" concept (basically creating an album in a short period of time with minimal time spent choosing/debating)
- had Thai Ginger noodle bowls for supper (do you see a pattern here? It's all about the food!!)
- visited with Jill (my niece) who will be finished her education degree after exams next week - she's knee deep in applications and resumes
- laughed alot
- made an appointment for a haircut
- chatted with Larry (my brother-in-law) in between his trips to the grain elevator with loads of canola
- scratched Watson's ears (he's the family beagle)
- baked Monkey Bread (after waiting 18 hours for it to rise!)
- enjoyed every moment of our time together!!

I could stay here for a week and still have things to talk about, to create and to laugh about. It's always a great place to visit and feel loved!! Thanks, E!!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

South American Highlights #8

Sugarcane Fields

Welcome to the sugarcane field!

The top of the irrigation pivot is just visible over the top of the plants. They can grow to 20 feet tall. Brazil is the world's #1 producer of sugarcane and it is widely used in the production of ethanol. It produces a lot of fuel per tonne of crop, unlike corn which requires lots of raw material to get just a little fuel. Wikipedia says that in Brazil, 30% of the automobile fuel is made from sugar-based ethanol.

You can see the 2 crops growing side by side.

There was a group of workers in the field and they had this collection of things at the end of the row. It reminded me of the coolers and water jugs that our guys take to the fields too.

This researcher from a national research institute knew everything you could possibly want to know about breeding and growing sugarcane. Standing beside him is Brian, an American who now lives and manages a farm in Brazil. Brian was our Portuguese interpreter for the farm visits in this area and he did an awesome job of getting the answers to all of our questions.

This piece of cane would be placed in the furrow and new plants would grow out of each nodule. Once the stalks are mechanically harvested, new plants would grow from the rootstock that was left in the ground. Fields used to be burnt off before harvest to reduce the leaves but that resulted in lots of air pollution so the practice has been reduced.

It grows really tall and after it's cut down, it will regrow several times. Sugarcane requires at least 1500 mm of water and this research facility is trying to produce varieties that can thrive with less.

Taste testing! It's really fibrous and sweet. AFter you chew it, you end up with a mouthful of stalk that you just spit out.

Even the bugs are bright and colorful in Brazil!

Busy paying attention! We learnt alot about another new crop on this day!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

South American Highlights #7

Sugar Cane and Pineapples

First, there were a couple of questions about this area of Brazil. One was about the climate. There are 2 definite crop seasons here - the wet season and the dry season. The dry season begins in June and lasts until September. There's not enough rainfall during that time for crops so irrigation needs to be used then. Of course that adds to the cost of production so only high value crops would be grown that way (think coffee and fruits!). The wet season lasts the other 8 months which means that sometimes 2 crops can be grown, depending on the time period needed for each crop to mature. We saw late soyabeans being grown where early wheat had already been harvested. The actual amount of precipitation varies depending how close to the 'cliff' (the Rio Francisco river banks) you are. Land closer to the cliff is higher priced because you can usually get higher production without irrigating. There's an incredible amount of sunlight here, being so close to the equator, so different varieties of wheat, corn and soyabeans are grown here than in Canada.

Secondly, about 25,000 people live in the town of Luis Eduardo Meghalles, in a variety of housing. There is a rich section of town with large houses and gates and then there's the rows of brick houses for the working class. Nearly all landowners live in town and drive out to the farm daily. Workers usually live on the farm in housing provided by the owners during the week and go home on weekends. Labour laws are very strict in Brazil (coming from a long tradition of slavery) - I'll tell you more about that in another post.

I hope those answers aren't too involved! It's kind of important to help you understand agriculture in another part of the world. Thanks for hanging in with my explanations. Now let's go out to the farm!

There isn't much infrastructure here and roads are a prime example of this. Main highways connect the towns but when you leave them, local roads are built and maintained - sort of! - by the farms that they lead to. It had rained the night before so we delayed our visit because there was some concern that the bus would have trouble getting us to the destination. This is some of what we had to navigate through. Our bus driver was very skilled and we did get safely in and out of here! Our destination was a farm that grew sugarcane, pineapple, coffee, citrus groups and a whole lot of other crops. We weren't able to meet the owners but we drove through the workers' village and over the river dam that creates a lake used for irrigation. Before we entered the farm property,because citrus crops are grown here, the bus had to drive through a fumigation station where a special water bath was sprayed over it (like an outdoor car wash).

When we got to the field, on one side of the road were pineapples and on the other side was sugarcane. We had come to see sugarcane and hear about how it's being used in ethanol production. Brazil is the world's #1 producer of sugarcane. The guide we had this day was a researcher for the sugarcane institute so he was an expert on everything you could possibly want to know about crossing varieties, water requirements, sugar content, and using the cane for ethanol production. This area is just moving into sugarcane production. The dry season which lasts for 4 months here means the cane has to be irrigated and the cost of doing that has been prohibitive to large scale production previously. That's changed now that the price of oil is so high. Brazil has encouraged the production of ethanol and biodiesel for a long time and most cars can run on either straight gasoline or ethanol.

Most of the women in our group were really interested in pineapple growing but our guide didn't touch on that topic. I want you to meet Alberta, a sweet, sweet lady from Ohio. We never forgot her name at all since it's the name of our province!! She and her husband, Ken, were the newlyweds in our group - they've only been married 2 years. They did get teased about that occasionally!

These pineapples were grown in fields irrigated by big pivots - you can see the wheel tracks going diagonally across this picture. These are fairly new plants - I have no idea how old they are and there were some parts of this field where mature fruit was being handpicked on this day.

This is what a pineapple looks like when it's very young. Did you know that each pineapple is actually made up of a group of tightly packed fruits? You can see each little fruit on this plant.

This is an older fruit but it still has a ways to go. After a fruit is mature and picked, new shoots will develop on the plant and it will continue to produce for several years.

I found this visit just fascinating and I will definitely be visiting a pineapple factory if I ever am near one. The pineapple we ate in Brazil (usually on the breakfast buffet) was delicious!!!

In tomorrow's post we'll walk across the road and see the sugarcane!

Friday, April 11, 2008


Naomi had to go pick up her new glasses at Costco yesterday so I tagged along. I thought I might be able to help her a bit with Meadow. It was a lot of fun and a very busy time!! I know I've forgotten alot of what it was like having 4 little ones and today confirmed that for me. Meadow is so energetic and is becoming quite a talker. It was non-stop chatter all the way to the city. We ordered some pictures at Costco (I'm going to scrapbook with my sister next week - yeah!!), looked at this awesome playhouse they are selling, went to the children's store (found the cutest little girl hair clips), and then headed to the mall for lunch. Naomi did some shopping for herself while we cruised around in the stroller and then we picked up our pictures and headed home. I had to have a nap after supper - I was kind of tired :)) And Naomi had to go home, make supper, and continue her day with an active toddler! I like being the gramma now!!!!

My camera stayed in my bag - in the car!! - the whole time so I only have these precious memories of our day together. Meadow doing things like:
- hiding between and under the clothes racks at Baby Gap

Aren't these the sweetest little girl clothes? There were lots more!!
- smiling at herself in the mirror in the change room while she tried on hats and jackets
- sitting on the pony ride in the mall (one of those that you put coins in to get it to move but we just pretended today)
- leaning up beside the fountain in the center court - and really wanting to get in the water!
- drinking V-8 juice - nearly the whole can in just a few minutes
- filling the basket with many pairs of shoes at Once Upon a Child
- wanting to get up into the playhouse (it was mounted on a stand about 5' up
- noticing all the babies in strollers wherever we went (I noticed that and all the seniors that shop in the middle of the day!)
- peeling stickers off the sheet and pasting them all over her dolly
- calling "Gramma, Gramma, Gramma" - she can melt my heart in an instant!

It was a very good day! I am SO lucky to be able to spend all these days with my daughters and their daughters.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


My reflections this week are made on the day after my birthday - such a good time to think back and give thanks. My list of gratefulness:

1. The One who gave me life, continues to sustain, supports and loves me beyond anything I can ever imagine. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for another full year of living and all the goodness that you shower on me every day.

2. Good health - I really have no health issues at all and I am so grateful to be well, energetic and capable.

3. Quiet time to do the things I love - read, study, sew, work with pictures, scrapbook.

4. Lunch at the Eco Cafe' with Naomi and Meadow yesterday. I had a delicious Portabello Mushroom Panini Sandwich and Saskatoon Plum Pie for dessert. We had a lovely time together.

5. New books to read - I got some for my birthday and a box from Amazon also arrived today.

6. Bright new plates and a table runner to use every day. Thanks, E!

7. Birthday wishes and treats from so many special people. I really am blessed!

8. Birthday celebrations with famiy. My aunt has a tradition of inviting us for a birthday dinner - it's always such a nice treat!