Monday, October 19, 2009

Yellow Flag Plagues Huskers

Huskers need to get past the yellow flag. Read my take at Bleacher Reports.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Mass Blogging Day - Family Relationships

According to author Thomas Wolfe, “There is no spectacle on earth more appealing than that of a beautiful woman in the act of cooking dinner for someone she loves.”

I wonder if Wolfe knew the females in my family.

My mom mixed, tossed, and threw ingredients into a pan. She seldom used a measuring cup. The dish would be delicious.

Both of my grandmothers cooked in that manner, too. Grandma Larson baked the best chocolate chip cookies. Nothing compared to the moist melt-in-your-mouth goodness. Grandma Fields made superb pies, but the ultimate delicacy was found her in canning room. Jars of pickled cherries lined the shelves. When we were young, my cousin, Brian, and I would grab a jar and wander around the farm, savoring the sweet-sour combination.

Each of my aunts is known for her specialty: Ginny’s popcorn balls, Joyce’s cherry fruit salad, Deana’s various soup recipes.

Sure, there have been a few failures in the kitchen. The skunk stew incident still causes laughter during family gatherings. And at my house, there mere mention of a certain concoction of lime gelatin, diced cucumbers, and mayonnaise elicits a nasty look from Scott.
For me, cooking is an art form. It’s self-expression at its tastiest. It’s a visual palette where the cook selects each ingredient and molds it into a masterpiece.

The kitchen is where I dabble in art. Sometimes, there’s a bonus to being a creative cook.
Last weekend, I was one of five finalists in the Nebraska Beef “What’s For Dinner” Cook-off. It’s the second time I’ve made the cut. I prepared beefy taco bells. In other words, I stuffed fresh peppers with taco meat and garnished them with cheese, tomatoes, salsa and sour cream. I finished in second place.

I enjoy cooking and sharing. I learned that from the women in my family.
For many families, food is a common bond that brings them together. Look beyond the platter of rib-eyes or the bowl of three bean salad placed in front of you. Glimpse into the kitchen in many homes across Nebraska and you’ll find something wonderful happening.

You’ll find families spending time together in the kitchen, cooking, creating, and conversing.
I learned to cook by spending time in the kitchen. I’d watch my mom, aunts, and grandma gather in that room and prepare fantastic meals. I observed how the simple tasks of slicing and dicing cut through more than vegetables; it cut to the heart of the matter –family time.

Cooking is a generational phenomenon.

When my kids grew up, I kept them in the kitchen with me and tried to establish that connection. It wasn’t always an easy task; between my school schedule and their activities, we often consumed more spicy nachos, lukewarm hot dogs, and bland sloppy joes than home-cooked meals.

But as they got older, they ventured into their great-grandmother’s kitchen and watched the magic. And they’ve learned the secrets of cooking.

Can there be too many cooks in the kitchen?

Not in our family.

from Nebraska-isms: A Fresh Look At Our State, by LuAnn Schindler

Monday, September 7, 2009

Want to Learn How to Milk a Cow?

Yes, I live on a dairy farm.

No, I've never hooked up the milkers to any of the cows.

But, I had my chance to milk a rubber teat of a fiberglass cow at the State Fair. Here's how you do it (except you don't look at the camera).

New stories @ Bleacher Reports

How did the Huskers fare this weekend? Check out my scorecard at

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

August Netflix Movies

A lot of afternoons, I'll drag my laptop into the living room and pop in one of the Netflix DVDs. Yes, I can multitask and write or edit while I'm watching a movie. In August, I viewed ten films, and with the exception of one, they were all great. Maybe I was paying more attention to the movie with the film I'm putting in the #10 spot, but I didn't get it. And that's strange for me, because I'm usually great at figuring out plot twists.

So here's my August Netflix cue top 10:

1. The Last King in Scotland. WOW! Forest Whitaker definitely deserved the Oscar for this one. But James McAvoy is equally effective. Idi Amin was a mean tyrant, but I guess I didn't pay attention to world events so much then. Heck, I was only in high school. I know; no excuse! Brutal movie, but captivating, at the same time. Must see!

2. Facing the Giants. OK, so some people might not think a religious football movie would be good. But I was impressed. Maybe it's because I taught in a parochial school and I understand the power of prayer and positive thinking. It works! Maybe I like an underdog story. And maybe, it's just a well-written movie. Definitely see!

3. Fracture. Anthony Hopkins and Ryan Gosling face off in a courtroom thriller. Hopkins attempts to murder his adulterous wife and her lover is the police officer who responds to the call. Multiple twists. And yes, I had this one figured out, but it's still a good movie. Hopkins never lets down the audience. See it! Now!

4. Hairspray. I've seen the Broadway play and I've seen the original movie. But watching John Travolta shake it in drag is worth it. A great ensemble cast, high energy, and an all-around enjoyable way to spend the afternoon. Gotta watch it.

5. The Nanny Diaries. I read the book. It's a chic flick. But there's something about the staging in the beginning of the film and again at the end that captured my attention. Cute. And I watched this one at midnight after editing stories. A fun way to unwind.

6. Bordertown. Hundreds of women have been killed in Juarez, Mexico. True. In the flick, Jennifer Lopez portrays a reporter who travels south of the border to investigate the gruesome deaths. I like how facts are intertwined into the fictional account. Should see.

7. The Invasion. After a space shuttle crash, people in the U.S. begin to act strange. Why? We're all turning into aliens. Nicole Kidman has a son who seems to be immune to the alien antibody attack. Will he save the world? Now, this isn't really my kind of movie, but it wasn't bad. If you have time, watch it.

8. Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. It's funny; crude funny at times. A spoof of Johnny Cash and all the other country rags-to-riches movies. For a good laugh, sure, see it.

9. Rendition. An American citizen who was born in Egypt disappears from an overseas flight. His wife tries to find his whereabouts and enlists the U.S. government's help, only to find lies and deceit. Will the young CIA agent save the day? Reese Witherspoon does not have enough to do in this film. Maybe, maybe not. It's not bad, it just doesn't have the WOW factor.

10. Revolver. A con man is released from prison...and then Big Pussy from The Sopranos shows up. I didn't get it. I even rewound it and I STILL didn't get parts of it. I must have missed something important in the beginning. Or this is a can miss movie.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Looking for Sources? Check the National Archives

If you're looking for historical documents, check out the National Archives. My article for WOW! Women on Writing's daily blog provides great examples.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

OMG, it's hereditary!!

So, the oldest daughter sends a text message that reads:

OMG I'm becoming u and grandpa. I just caught myself putting
a half-drank fountain drink in the fridge.
So what's the problem? :) I don't drink soda. But alot of times, I will buy two Route 44 iced teas from Sonic, and yes, I put the half-devoured drink in the fridge. I don't want the ice to melt quickly. I want cold tea.
I told her things could be worse.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Brilliant Idea Or Wishful Thinking

I love Nebraska.

I love to travel.

I love to write.

Why can't I combine the three into something bigger and better? Sure, I write about Nebraska for the newspaper and a regional publication. But, I've been kicking around this idea that I know would be fantastic. Plus, it would involve all three of the things listed above.

The idea probably resembles a regional magazine that comes out every two months, but I think if you went to each town in the state, and went in alphabetical order, and wrote a couple of blog pieces - historical and current - about each town, you'd have a hit. If you could highlight a town a week, or even every two weeks, it would work. Plus, you'd have photo opportunities. And, it would give me stories for other publications.

Of course, there's the money issue. I'd have to make money on it. Travel isn't free. But I do think it could be an outstanding blog. I'm still pondering my options. I'd like to start next month, if possible.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Yeah, ok, I'll post something

I had to post an interview for WOW! and decided that while I'm on here, I just as well post something. Nothing amazing here. I completed three projects today, would like to finish two more, and I need to clean the bedroom since everything is still out of our closet so they could get to the hot water heater to install the new one.

Yeah, back to regular programming later this week!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

OK, I need to get back on track. Schedules are so hectic during speech season and then when you add substitute teaching on top of it, plus all the writing deadlines I had, something had to give. And as usual, it's my blog that fell to the wayside. :( But now things are getting back to normal, so hopefully, I will get my sense of humor back and will write like crazy!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Calling All Chefs!!

What: A business venture
Where: Chambers, Nebraska
When: Cooking up an opening date
Who: Chefs, Culinary Experts, Businessmen
Why: Because this town is offering a great opportunity

Check it out. You know you want to.

The 5th Line Project

Yup, I'm shamelessly promoting my latest endeavor - The 5th Line Project.

It's so random, it's fun!

Do You Listen to What You Write?

Check out my latest blog at The Muffin, the daily writing blog for WOW! Women on Writing.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Yes, I'm married. And I've been married. Several times. So the other evening when we were watching the movie Fireproof, I started wondering if the "love dare" would have worked in my previous marriages.

It's tough to say because even when people say "I do", what happens if you fall out of love - or even fall out of liking - the person you married. People change, that's inevitable. Situations change. That, too is inevitable. But is it possible to rekindle the love you once had?

I can't imagine a life without Scott. This is the best relationship, and strongest marriage, I've ever had. Sure, he doesn't always 'listen' to me, which he admitted last night. And I don't always 'hear' what he's saying, which I admitted. But, there's just this chemistry and feeling of completeness that neither of us experienced before.

If this relationship ever disintegrated to the point in the movie, I would take the love dare with him. I think there comes a point in your life when you know you finally feel satisfied with yourself and you know what you expect from yourself and your spouse. Unfortunately, too many people make that mistake early in life and get married too young. One of my friends, Courtney, didn't get married until she was 28. Yes, she had opportunity with prior boyfriends. But she never felt satisfied with herself or the person she dated. Until 'the one' came along. And everything just clicked. I'm not saying they didn't have disagreements before they married. They did. But something clicked with them - and not just her biological clock - and they were both right in waiting to say "I Do".

Sometimes, I think a lot of it boils down to manners. How many times do you thank your spouse for even some little thing he or she does for you? When there is a lack of manners or respect, that is when a relationship seems to begin to break down. You can't just always take things for granted. Show appreciation and the rewards are returned several times.

As far as a review of the movie... is it Oscar worthy material? Probably not. But sometimes the message you get from a movie is far more important, and that would be the case with Fireproof. The message is a good one, and people should watch it. Maybe it should become part of marriage counseling - both pre-wedding and when a couple seeks help. Perhaps it would make a difference.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Can Your Blackberry Help Your Writing Career?

Find out at The Muffin, the daily blog for WOW! Women on Writing. It's my latest article!

The Whole Resolution Thing....

So, last month I mentioned that the Today show had an expert guest who said instead of setting big resolutions that aren't achievable, it's better to set small goals, weekly or monthly, and work to meet them.

Last month, I made five resolutions. How'd I do?
  • Blog on this blog once a week. Well, not so good. I think I only made one post in January.
  • Lost five pounds. Lost two.
  • Walk two miles every day. Most days, I did this.
  • Keep on with small tasks while I'm substitute teaching and coaching speech. If you look at the house, I probably did not succeed.
  • Catch up on writing projects. Made a good dent.

So, my February resolutions are simple:

  • Blog on this blog once a week. I WILL do it. I just need to make the time. Trust me, I have a lot to say.
  • Lose five pounds. I know what I need to do to achieve this goal.
  • Walk two miles every day. Again, I need to make it happen, even after long days at school.
  • Clean the house. I'm sure this will happen once I'm finished subbing (which is in two weeks).
  • Catch up on writing projects. That's my next priority today.

Do I have other goals? Yes, I will continue to post to my other blog, The 5th Line Project. It doesn't have a huge following, but I've had multiple hits, so I think that is a good start. I do wish people would reply and add a comment about the book or add their own 5th line.

I also want to list some items on eBay and clean out the closet or get ready for a garage sale that my mom and I will have when her town has city-wide garage sales in June or July.

Better get busy!

Monday, January 12, 2009

The State of Education

I'm spending the next five weeks (one down, five to go) subbing for the local 4th grade teacher who is on maternity leave. As a certified high school teacher in English, Journalism and Speech, I've discovered that teaching elementary school isn't as easy as most high school teachers are led to believe. Guess I'm lucky that I've subbed in elementary classrooms before. :)

Maybe it's the school district, maybe it's the class size, but there aren't many breaks in her schedule. I've seen elementary teachers who can't wait to send the students to PE, music, band, library, guidance, computers, art...the list continues. Because of the extra classes, some elementary teachers have large blocks of time on multiple days to grade papers or work on whatever it is they work on.

As a high school teacher, I had one 50-minute block of planning every day, but rarely did I get to spend it planning. Usually, a student who needed help was in my room, or during speech season, kids would come in and practice, or meetings were scheduled during this so-called break. Grading papers and planning were pushed to MY time, which meant after the 8th period bell rang at 3:15.

So I'm wondering if this classroom is 'reality'? Do most elementary teachers not have much time? In the morning, there are ten minutes while kids do "administrative" chores, like sharpen pencils, take lunch count, and say the pledge of allegiance. During this time, I'm entering attendance on the computer system. Then it's full steam ahead until the lunch break, which is three and one-half hours later. OK, sure, there's an hour break at noon, but if you eat lunch (20-25 minutes), have recess duty (which I did last week), or have kids waiting in your room to finish assignments, you're really not on a "break," are you?

The afternoon gets a little better. There is a whole 30-minute block immediately after lunch when the kids go to social studies. Then there's another half hour of reading class, followed by 30 minutes of study time or AR. Trust me, the kids need the time to get homework done, but it's not a break for the teacher, because the hands are high in the air and I move from one desk to another. So, at the end of the day, there's about a 40-minute period -some days - where I have time to check papers. That is, I can check them when I'm not planning or dealing with student problems or entering grades into the computer gradebook or..... you continue the list.

Teaching can be a difficult job, especially when it's done the right way. I think about the teachers who made an impact on my life. They were dedicated to their career; teaching was more than a paycheck. They possessed a passion for learning and it spilled over to the students. They put in extra hours grading assignments and furthering their own educations because they enjoyed learning. It showed in their classrooms, their assignments, and the respect they earned.

I know that when I first started teaching, I had that passion. It's possible that I let it slip away after my husband passed away, primarily because I felt so tied down by the responsibilities I was given at school. And I know that when I left a full-time teaching position to concentrate on a freelance writing career, I didn't have any second guesses about it. I was burned out because of all the other 'stuff' that teachers are expected to deal with that does not have anything to do with teaching the subject matter. I enjoy substituting, but I sure don't miss being in the classroom on a full-time basis.

I am, however, enjoying teaching 4th grade. It's been a whole new experience teaching English at this level - how simplified I have to make it - and teaching math has been a good exercise for my brain. Obviously math was not a strong subject for me. Yeah, come on, I'm an English teacher! :)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Food Writers: You'll need this site

Check out my latest blog post at WOW! Women on Writing's daily blog, The Muffin. It talks about What a great source for food writers and lovers.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

One More Resolution

One resolution I forgot to mention: well, technically, it's not a resolution, but....whatever :)

I'm going to blog at least once a week this month on this blog. Part of me things a blog should be a way to showcase work, and I'd like to make sure each entry has a meaning. But sometimes, weird stuff happens here at dairy farm central, and I have to write about it and share. I'll find a balance. :)

Also, I had an idea for another blog - that I'm hoping leads to something bigger - and I've set it up and started. You can visit it The 5th Line Project. I will need to post to that daily. It's just a matter of finding time - even if it is at 11:59 p.m.


Every year, I make a mental note of resolutions and goals for the new year. Sometimes, I even manage to meet one or maybe two of them.

But after watching a segment on The Today Show last week, I decided to change my thinking. Instead of making a laundry list of resolutions, I'm making small resolutions for each month. This should give me a better chance of meeting my goals. I hope it works!

I also think if you set monthly goals instead of huge, year-long goals, you are able to take into consideration what is happening in your life and plan accordingly. For instance, I'm subbing this month for a teacher on maternity leave. It's also the kickoff of speech season. Will I be keeping and/or sending 13 queries for writing? Probably not. I'll keep busy with writing for the newspaper and as the end of speech season looms in February, I will get back to my rule of 13.

So, here are my January goals ( and yes, it's already day 4 of the new year):
  • Lose 5 pounds this month.
  • Walk at least 2 miles every day. (Thank goodness for Leslie Sansone!)
  • Stay on top of tasks while subbing daily and practicing for speech.
  • Catch up on writing projects I've started.

Hopefully, my Blackberry will help keep me organized during school! And as for my first goal, I've already met it, although the results are due to my recent bout with the flu...or food poisoning...or whatever the doctors think was ailing me. But I'll still work to lose five more!