Brownie Bottom Bourbon Pie

December 7, 2008

Brownie Bottom Bourbon Pie
Yield: 6 servings (or 2 sweet tooth lushes)

1     x        Brownie mix   (or purchase an Oreo no bake pie crust)
5     ea      Egg yolks
3/4 cup   Sugar  (or Splenda)
1      pk     Envelope unflavored gelatin
1/4  cup   Cold water
1/2  cup   Bourbon i.e. Jack Daniels
3      cup   Heavy whipping cream (or 1 cup heavy cream and cool whip)

  • Bake 1 brownie mix according to directions,but bake a few minutes less, in the bottoms of 2 pie tins. (or purchase Oreo no bake pie crusts)
  • Beat egg yokes until thick and lemon colored. Slowly beat in sugar.
  • Soften gelatin in cold water and add 1/3 of the bourbon. Heat this mixture of bourbon over boiling water until gelatin dissolves.
  • Pour into yolks and stir briskly. Add remaining bourbon.
  • Whip 1-cup of cream and fold into mixture. Pour filling into brownie crust and chill 4 hours.
  • Top with remaining cream whipped with a pinch of salt & sugar to taste (or use cool whip).
  • Sprinkle shaved chocolate on top.

Chihuly at Desert Botanical Garden

November 18, 2008

The Chihuly Exhibit will be at the
Desert Botanical Garden from Nov. 22, 2008 to May 31, 2009.
A good reason to visit Phoenix this Spring.



The perfect two cars – at least for us

September 27, 2008

Land Rover Defender and the Smart fortwo are the perfect cars for my household. One car that can hold haul more than 2 people plus stuff and the fun, fuel efficient car for everyday running. We have always had one car that was practical and one that wasn’t. I have the practical 2000 Chrysler Neon and my husband has the 1973 Jeep DJ5 postal jeep that doesn’t have doors or a roof. I love my reliable Neon with it’s 160k miles and 8 1/2 years on it. I expect to have it for a few more years to go. But when or if it’s time is over I will get a Smart Car.

I have been in love with the Smart fortwo since 1999 when I first saw this one parked facing out of a parallel space in London (see photo). I test drove one in 2006 and was surprised how similar it felt to driving my Neon. Only when I looked back to change lanes do you realize how short it is. It’s comfortable and sits a little higher than the Neon which is nice for visibility. It doesn’t get quite the mpg that I would hope for with it being so small but it does well.

My husband is in love with the Land Rover Defender. He learned how to drive on one in England at Boy Scout Camp. They are practically indestructible and just awesome looking. Old classic vehicles have only 2 reasons to not be on the road. First, we stop putting gas in cars. Second, the previous owners haven’t done any preventative maintenance. Everyone who stops, steps back, takes a look, crosses their arms and just thinks for a minute can do most work needed on an old car. Gas mileage may not be 30 mpg, but then again you can replace your radiator for $250 instead of $800 on a new car. You get in a fender bender…fine the new car that hit you suffers $5,000 dollars of damage and you might need to cough up $100 for a new metal bumper and $8 for a can of black spray paint. Oh well. Besides, there’s nothing like taking a spray hose to the inside of your car to clean it out. So satisfying. As an afterthought, have you ever tried replacing a fan belt on a new car? Yeah, not gonna happen… With a nice old classic, it’ll set you back $10 and 5 minutes. Nice.


Mountain Lake dries up and reveals secrets

September 23, 2008

Remember that beautiful lake in the movie Dirty Dancing? The lush green of the mountain and the dark blue of the lake were very relaxing. The lake is gone now. It sounds impossible but it is, and no it’s not global warming. Apparently scientists believe that the lake naturally drains and disappears. Historical records seem to back this up too. The Roanoke Times article, with an excerpt shown below, explains in more detail.

Mountain Lake may be the only known lake in the world to periodically disappear, sometimes for decades. This phenomenon has been recorded since the 18th century and may be related to earthquakes.

The first reference to what is now called Mountain Lake dates to 1751, when British surveyor Christopher Gist explored Giles County and West Virginia for the Ohio Company. In his journals, Gist describes climbing a mountain and finding a clear-water lake, a gravel shore and “fine meadow.” By 1768, however, settlers said such a lake was nowhere to be found in what is now Giles County. Instead, they used the site as a salt lick for cattle, hence the name Salt Pond Mountain.

Photographer Richard Cobb shows the dramatic change in photographs.

Mountain Lake Before and After

With the drop in water previously lost items are being found, including a body. It is believed to be a man from the 1930’s. The Roanoke Times describes the personal effects found with the bones.

He wore a belt with a silver buckle and carried a fancy silver cigarette box, both engraved with elaborate cursive initials that appear to be “SCF.”

His old McCreery wingtip shoes had Sullivan’s Safety Cushion heels held in place with six nails.

His gold class ring carried the initials “MC” on one side and “CA” on the other, above images of trees carved into the metal. It bore a date on top that appears to signify that it is from the Class of ’04 — most likely 1904, Giles County sheriff’s investigators say.

Hopefully someone will recognize the class ring, cigarette box. Maybe someone will remember something from half a century ago when the stone hotel was new. Perhaps this mystery will help bring tourists to the wonderful Mountain Lake Hotel that is now by a lovely grassy meadow.

********************* Update 10/16/08************************

The class ring found near the bones proved to be the biggest help. Investigators say it’s from Clemson University in South Carolina. University officials have provided Giles authorities a picture of a 1904 class ring matching the type found at Mountain Lake. Investigators say they have the person’s identity narrowed down to three possible names from that Clemson class.

************************Update 10/21/08**********************

Watch video from WSLS here

The layered mystery at Mountain Lake is unfolding.Two brothers, one from Virginia and one from Maryland say they’ve successfully closed the case and have the name everyone has been waiting for, Samuel Felder.

All the evidence found served as small clues into an unknown man’s life, but two tokens gave this mystery legs. “The main item was the ring, because once you can identify what college it came from it clearly on the ring 04, so that would have been 1904 and then the belt buckle initials were the clue that allowed you to find out what the guys name was,” said Jim Dalmas, in a phone interview from Maryland.

Dalmas makes it sound easy, but many questions have been looming since the remains, class ring, watch, shoes and belt buckle were found almost exactly a month ago.Dalmas took the initials and ring and called a number of schools searching for answers. “I hadn’t gotten to Clemson when the sheriff’s office discovered that the ring had come from Clemson University,” he said.

Clemson had three graduates of 1904 with the initials S.F.

After Dalmas narrowed it down to who he thought the mystery man was he did some searching and found a newspaper article from 1921 and in the headline it said “S. I. Felder, Troy, N.Y. Falls Overboard at Mountain Lake; Drowns.”

“As far as I was concern once we found the newspaper article from South Carolina it was a slam dunk,” Dalmas said.

Giles County investigators aren’t confirming the identity of the mystery man.

They tell 10 On Your Side they’re still waiting for a family member to come forward, so they can make a DNA match.By Lindsey Ward


Desert Botanical Gardens

September 16, 2008

Giving Blood

September 12, 2008

I gave blood a few days ago it was an eventful experience. I’ve been trying to give blood for the past 4 months. Every time I go my iron count is 35 and I get rejected. I was rejected the last 3 tries. However my difficulty in giving blood does not deter the callers from the United Blood Services. They call every week unless I already have an appointment on their books.

This time I made it; my iron was 38. I have been taking iron pills and didn’t drink any caffeine that day, only orange juice and water. The lack of caffeine probably was the cause of my headache and thus the new problems passing other requirements. My temp was 99 and my heart rate was 105. The 99 was okay but I wasn’t going to pass with 105 hear rate. It wasn’t that I so desperately want to give blood, I’m neutral there. I just didn’t want to get more phone calls and have to come in again in a week or two. The guy was nice and let me relax for a few minutes. Amazingly I got it down to 92, a normal rate for me, I always am running fast. Finally I made it to the long list of questions then out to the donor chair.

I got situated, the nurse checked for a long time to make sure she could find my vein. Mine apparently hide very well but I have been lucky to have always had good nurses that get it on the first try. Unfortunately for my shirt we took so long looking with the tourniquet tight before starting that I shot out blood. It was a work shirt, not important to me so it was kind of funny to me. I was thinking up some horror story to tell husband when I got home.

The last time that I actually passed the iron test, I almost passed out when I finished giving blood. Loud buzzing in the ears room going dark. Not a happy feeling. Still they keep calling sweet as sugar asking when they can put me down for an appointment. I was more careful this time. I ate before going in and had an apple pie and Gatorade afterwards.

It was after driving half and hour back to my town and stopping by an office close to home that I had problems. Jane and I had been talking inside then walked outside to the mailboxes for the storefront and were finishing up our conversation in the shade in front of her office. I’m not sure why we stood outside, perhaps we both had other things to do and figured we would talk for much longer if we went inside. It was a typical hot AZ summer afternoon. I was perfectly fine until we said goodbye. Then the buzzing started, I couldn’t focus. I was stubborn and thought I could walk it off. I took a few steps and then (I think, based on the pain) smacked chest first into the glass front of the neighboring nail salon. I must have scared them and caused a few nails to be repainted. Something Jane had seen in me made her come back outside immediately and saw the last of my fall. She was such a sweetheart and gathered me back into her office, into the cool air and gave me a coke. We called my husband to drive me home. Here I sat, embarrassed, hair everywhere, blood on my shirt and white as a sheet. This is what I get for trying to do a good deed. At least this good deed I am not allowed to attempt again for 8 weeks. The phone calls will gloriously stop for a couple of months.


On a tangent: Why can’t more men man up and give blood so those of us who only succeed in giving blood a quarter of the times we try can be left alone. Men have more blood to give, rarely have too low of an iron count and generally do better after giving blood. Women endure child birth; men should at least give blood. I know low blow, but I’m desperate here. I can’t force my husband. He gets a pass because he might have mad cow disease from living in England. In 40 years when he’s cleared I’ll drag him in.


WAKA – World Adult Kickball Association

August 21, 2008

I never knew such a thing existed as the World Adult Kickball Association until a few weeks ago. I thought kickball was a game that we sadly left in grade school as we moved up into sports with harder balls that hurt more when you get hit.

Softball is a good example of one of those sports we moved up to. Unfortunately for me my softball career consisted of two attempts, 8th grade and the company team two years ago. The first attempt was marred by the fact that my head seemed to be a homing beacon for the ball, even if I was in the stands. The second attempt, I didn’t get hit but my legs reminded me that I am not 18 anymore, buckled in a sprint, and I rolled into home base. At least I scored in that embarrassing moment and had some good wounds to show for it.

Soccer was my other sport of choice for getting hurt. I broke my nose by stopping a shot with it and split my thigh muscle on the knee of a brat that didn’t like girls playing in a boys league. I was terrible at the game but enjoyed it anyway. I was really only good at being an obstacle that wasn’t afraid of getting hit. To this day my leg still hates me for that.

So I once again have ventured into the world of organized sports. I joined a team with WAKA. I shall be hurting myself on a weekly basis this Fall and hopefully enjoying it. Unlike the kickball we remember as children, these leagues seem to revolve around drinking and are sponsored by Rolling Rock. The names in the leagues are also quite entertaining. Imagine flocks of people with shirts reading: Booze Hound Gang, Rubber Balls and Liquor, Train-A-Balls, Remedial Runners, and Sir Kix-A-Lot. I must say if you are going to combine sports and liquor at least it’s on grass and with big rubber balls. Wish me luck and that the booze dulls the pain.