Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Culture Cafe at the Music Hall & a poem about Darwin's wife

Today, Tekara and I went with my neighbor Margaret and her two friends, Mable and Sheila, to an event called Culture Cafe (Visit Website) at the Music Hall. They host this event once a month during lunch on a Wednesday. You pay £12 and get lunch and admittance into the show. Margaret joked that they should call it "Soup and Culture" because you have soup and sandwiches before the show.
 There were about 500 people there today because they had two very popular guests:

Carol Ann Duffy 

"In 2009, she accepted the post of Poet Laureate, making her the first female, Scottish Poet Laureate in the role's 400 year history."
- From:

Here is a poem she wrote that is supposed to be from the point of view Charles Darwin's wife. My biologist/science friends will love this:

Mrs Darwin
7 April 1852.
Went to the Zoo.
I said to Him –
Something about that Chimpanzee over there reminds me of you.
– Carol Ann Duffy

John A Sampson

John Sampson was very talented and entertaining. He plays all kinds of flutes, and his performance is very comedic. I wish I could have seen more from him. Here is a short video of what he does. I found it on his website.

After the show, we had coffee in the Mary Garden room, which is open from 9AM-4PM, so you should pop in one day! The room was lovely. They had soup and sandwiches for lunch. They also had various baked goods including donuts! Yum! We all enjoyed the show very much. The next one will be in February, I think. Hope to see some of you there. :o)
Mary Garden Room. Mary Garden was a famous opera singer from Aberdeen.

This is Mary Webb's piano, which can be found in the Mary Garden Room. In 1952, Mary Webb wrote the Northern Lights of Old Aberdeen (can listen to in video below).

Just for fun:
Crumpets cut in half make great little pizzas! It's easy and fast. Also cheaper than ordering pizza! Oh, what are crumpets? They are sort of like English muffins, but different (hehe). They are flat and smooth on the bottom like a pancake but have lots of holes on the top. They are sort of spongy. They are cooked on a griddle and typically topped with butter. They are also not usually split in half when eaten, but I did that for the pizzas or the "pizza crust" would have been very thick!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Recipe for Marinara Sauce - Guy Fieri is My Hero

Tonight I had another cooking adventure. I made my own marinara sauce using Guy Fieri's recipe.

  • 3 Tablespoons EVOO
  • 1.5 cups diced yellow onion
  • 8 medium garlic cloves - smashed
  • Three 28 oz cans of fire roasted diced tomatoes (he recommends Muir Glen)
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped oregano
  • 1/4 cup shredded basil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Unfortunately, I couldn't find fire roasted tomatoes at Sainsbury's so I used these instead:

In a medium-large sauce pan, cook the onions on medium low heat in the EVOO until translucent (about 4 minutes). While they are cooking, you can smash the garlic.

I use a knife, which I hit lightly, to crack the outer "shell" around the garlic. It can then be peeled away easily. After that, I use the same knife to smash the garlic. Just put a garlic clove under the flat side of the knife and slam your palm onto it to smash the clove. When the onions are ready, add the garlic and cook until the garlic pieces are just turning brown (about 2 minutes).

 Then, add the tomatoes and simmer for 20 minutes.
 Now add the oregano, basil, salt, and pepper and let simmer another 20 minutes. When it's complete, carefully transfer the sauce to a food processor to blend it smoothly.
You can use want you need immediately and then freeze the rest!

It goes great in spaghetti or as a dipping sauce for foods such as fried cheese!  Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did! It's great to have homemade items in the freezer that you know where all ingredients came from. Homemade sauces such as this may also have less sugar and less preservatives than what you find on the shelf. Moreover, this is a yummy and easy recipe for those of you needing special diets such as gluten or sugar free.

It's not my typical post, but I hope you enjoy it anyway. :)  Cheers!

What's Going On in Aberdeen?

I'm starting to learn that looking up community events is a really fun and important part of living... anywhere! There are so many free and inexpensive happenings that are so fun. One website that I really enjoy here in Aberdeen is "What's On In Aberdeen" shown on the City Council website here: This week the city had their switching on the lights parade where Santa comes and turns on Christmas lights down Union Street (the main street in the city). We missed the parade because we didn't realize the date, but we did get to see part of the fun at the Union Square Shopping Center. When we came out of the movie theatre we saw a Coca Cola lorry (truck) outside decorated in lights with loads of people queuing beside it. When we walked out to see what was going on, we found people were in the queues to get their picture in front of the truck, AND they had a snow machine. It was snowing! How fun is that? My grandma and grandad Nelson love Coca Cola products. They would have enjoyed this!

The lights that are switched on. There are lots of these lined down Union Street.
You can get more information related to the holidays on the winter festival website here: . The following information came from the two previous links on this page.

Here is a quick look at some things coming up in Aberdeen:
  • Christmas Tree Switch On - Date: 28 November - Venue: Union Street
    The festivities continue with the Christmas Tree Switch On which has been kindly donated by our Twin Town of Stavanger in Norway. A 30 minute carol service will be held prior to the switch on, where each year the Lord Provost and a special guest light up a beautiful spruce.
  • The Christmas Carol Concert - 21 Dec. - David Welch Winter Gardens, Duthie Park
    This popular event held in the David Welch Winter Gardens at Duthie Park. Come along and sing to favourite carols at the indoor garden, taking in the rare and exotic plants while listening to the accompaniment of music performed by the talented Bon Accord Silver Band.
  • March Hare Craft & Vintage Market - 30 Nov 2013 - Boys Brigade, Crimon Place 
    (just off golden Sq) , Aberdeen City, AB10 1RX
    The March Hare Craft & Vintage Market is a regular monthly market in Aberdeen City, Scotland. We feature an eclectic selection of stallholders from vintage fashion to handmade furnishings. Back this month is our popular Vintage Tea Party, hosted by the Boys Brigade, serving teas and coffees as well as pancakes, sandwiches and soups all day.
    Opening Days and Times:
    11am - 4pm

  • The Trickery - 01 Dec 2013 - 
    Do you like different nights out? Do you like gob-stoppingly good magic from some of the best magicians in the world? Of course you do! Magic, burlesque, and comedy!

    There is only one place and one night where you can see them in Aberdeen!  

    Opening Days and Times: Sunday
    Doors open at 19.30
    Show Starts at 20.00  Ticket Information:
    Due to the last two shows selling out it is advised to buy tickets in advance to avoid disappointment. 
    Link to Event Website:
  • Hogmanay Ceilidh - 31 Dec 2013 - Beach Ballroom, Aberdeen
    Bring in the New Year in style!
    The evening includes Scottish Stovies, music from Clachan Yell, Bucksburn Mini Pipe Band, Solo Piper at the Bells, and a glass of bubbly to bring in the New Year.

    Opening Days and Times:
    Start Time: 19:30
    Ticket Price: £39.50
    Tickets are available from the Beach Ballroom on 01224 647647 or by visiting in person.
Get out there and have some fun! The possibility of fun is something much better to look forward to than the TV shows that you know you can record. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Health Food and Vitamin Shops in Aberdeen

Now that I've lived here for a year, I'm starting to learn which shops I really like. I like organic foods, oils, and other products such as lotions, facewash, tea, snack bars, etc., There are two shops that I can recommend. One I shop at frequently, and the other is a recommendation from a friend.

There is Holland and Barrett. They sell all kinds of things from toiletries and oils to food, vitamins, and protein supplements. The staff are very friendly and helpful. They also have a rewards card. There are two locations:

49 Netherkirkgate
City Centre
Aberdeen AB10 1AU
United Kingdom ‎ 

Unit 2, Trinity Centre
155 Union St
City Centre
Aberdeen AB11 6BD
United Kingdom ‎  

Screen shot from their website

The other shop that was recommended by a friend is Nature's Larder. I hear you want to speak with Alan because he is super knowledgeable. I'm going to try to stop by this weekend because my friend, Kristina Pruett, suggested that I speak with Alan about using Nettle leaf tea and nettle root drops to help control my allergies. If you are interested in that, she sent me two links with more information:
Location for Nature's Larder:
60 Holburn St
Aberdeen AB10 6BX

From: Google Maps

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Man vs. Llama, Witching for Water, and Digging Wells - Story time

We had coffee one day in Texas with my Grandma and Grandad Nelson at Troy and Peggy's house (let's say uncle and aunt for all intents and purposes). Grandad started telling us about one day when my stepdad, Cace, and he had to go save a baby llama.

"The male in the group was trying to kill him. You know, some llamas will castrate other young males themselves to keep them from breeding with the females. He was trying to kill this one. We got the baby in the back of the truck but he kept a comin. He was chasing the truck attackin us. Cace kicked him, and he had on steel-toed boots!"

Me: "Did it stop him?"

"Noooo. He kept at us. Cace kicked him a few times. Darn thing spit all over him. You wanna talk about stink!? Woooooo! Anyway, then he grabbed a fishin pole. He beat that thing until the darn pole broke in half!"

Me: "Oh my gosh! Did it hurt the llama?"

"Naw. He was seein red at that point. Nothin could stop him. He was after that baby. I kept drivin the truck. Cace had broken the pole so he could only punch the llama to defend himself."

Me: "Holy smokes! Did he hit him hard?"

"Naw! When he'd swing, he'd get nothin but air! (chuckles) Muhammad Ali couldn't hit that llama."

My Grandad

Grandma Nelson and I

Grandad and Steve

Grandad and I at Bucky's Cafe.


I love the way my Grandad tells stories. He is so funny! I could listen to them all day. Anyway, while we were there, Troy started telling us about a guy that can "witch for water." You know, where they use two L-shaped rods, sometimes clothes hangers, to find underground water? He said this guy could estimate depth, width, and direction of flow. Troy said the rods would start to turn in his hands when he was detecting water. People say that only some have the ability to do this. I haven't done any research on it because I've been so busy, but I'm totally intrigued. Right then. I got sidetracked. Once Troy knew where the water was, he started digging a well.

"I got me some post hole diggers and dug a hole right out there. Took me all day, but I found water. I decided to leave it until the next mornin when I could go to the store for materials. I got up the next morning and danged if that thing hadn't blown up on me! The whole darn thing was filled back up to the top. I should've just gone to the store right then, or at least secured the thing. Let me tell ya.. Have you ever dug a 20 foot well with post hole diggers?"

Me: "No"

"Well then, you ain't lived."


I love hanging out with my grandparents and them. We drank coffee and listened to stories around the table. It's so relaxing and fun! When we left Steve said, "Time just stops there." I think that means that he enjoyed himself. :o)  Troy and Grandad enjoyed hearing about Aberdeen. I told them about all of the local shops such as the butcher, fishmonger, and cheesemonger and the kinds of things they sell. Troy said, "Well damn. I live on the wrong side of the world!" Grandad told him to get on a plane, but Troy says he doesn't get on anything that leaves the ground. Grandad told him to prop one of his trucks up on some floaters. HAHA. They are so funny together.

Oh, and Grandad also showed me some animal tracks. I like stuff like that.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A brief glimpse of Fall in Aberdeen from an everyday point of view

Tonight has been super busy, so I'm not feeling up to story-time (tomorrow? Llama vs. Stepdad). Instead, I'll just post a few pictures of Fall happenings in my life. Click the pictures to enlarge them.

This is what it looks like at 2:30PM (14:30). You have to get stuff done early if you don't want to do it in the dark!

Frog's short hair doesn't provide much warmth. He wears this handsome coat and gets lots of compliments. :o)

Victoria Park is full of beautiful, bright colors right now!

Check out these leaves I pulled off some trees! So pretty!

I love Fall, but at the end of the day, I have LOTS of raking to do. City folk don't like to wade through leaves to walk past your house. We also got tired of digging through the leaves to open our gate! These pictures don't include the large compost bin that I also filled to the top with leaves!

I was out in the cold for 2 hours picking up all of these leaves! I had to use the poop scooper because I didn't want to pick them up with my hands. I watch dogs pee on those leaves as they walk by the house. GROSS!

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Schneiders Go Back To Texas - Picture Slideshow

Tonight is going to be a short post because I'm really busy trying to get back into our routine! Our second week in Texas was spent in the Dallas area. I think we were at a different house every day! We had fajitas with my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins (closest ones), and we got to hear Jeremy's new songs. I used one of his songs in my slideshow. We got to eat at Ta Molly's!! I ate two bowls of their salsa. We met up with extended family aunts, uncles, and cousins for that. We had a really good time. We had coffee with Grandma, Grandad, Peggy, and Troy one day (Great stories to follow on tomorrow's post. You won't want to miss this!) where I learned that if "you have never dug a 20 ft well with post hole diggers, well then, you've never lived."

We went to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science with Mom, Cace, Cacie, and Chloe. I highly recommend you visit this if you are ever in Dallas. There is parking across the street for $8. You will likely spend 3 hours or more in the museum. It is very hands-on! There are 3D movies that last from about 20 to about 45 minutes depending on what you want to see. Add extra time if you plan to do that. There was a sports room where you could race the projection of different animals on a wall such as a cheetah or a T-rex! You could touch a tornado and experience different earthquake intensities. There was a marvelous gem and mineral collection with a geode so large I could fit inside of it! The Animals Inside Out exhibit by the producers of Body Worlds was also really cool... and really REAL. I have a few pictures in the slide show. I built circuits and programmed robots. I quizzed Steve about the minerals on the wall. He did pretty well! Mom and Chloe created their own prehistoric creatures and then battled them on a simulator. For the finale, we went to Saltgrass Steak House for one AWESOME steak and one last margarita.... or two. :o)

 We drove to Bedford one day for dinner with my Pappaw and family. Then, we drove to see my cousin Patrick, his wife, Christina, and daughter, Journee. The next morning we drove back to Caddo Mills to see my sister's pantomime performance. It was really funny. The last morning, we got up early to have breakfast at Bucky's Cafe with family. Remember me telling you that I was looking forward to that? It was great! Then, it was time to get on the plane and come home.... weird.... home.... Aberdeen. :o)

Enjoy the pictures!

Unfortunately, the video I uploaded to YouTube is not listed in "My Videos" due to new enforcement of copyright laws. If you have music in your videos, Google will scan, identify if possible, and then give partial rights to the owner of the music, who can then decide if how they want the video distributed. LAME. I can give you the link to the slideshow, which can be viewed on any computer (may not work for iPad as they consider this a mobile device that is often more regulated).

Houston, Texas - Our first visit home in a year

Man! The last two weeks were mental. We went back to Texas for the first time in a year. We visited MANY people and drove hundreds of miles. We ate tacos for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We had a BBQ at Mama S's house. Lots of people came. We had tons of food and an awesome cake (Thanks Jennifer!). One morning, Steve and I got up earlier than most in the house and decided to get breakfast. We walked to Shipley's Donuts. Mmmm! Every dog that was outside barked at us. Steve said, "You can tell they aren't used to people walking."

Hey (insert the voice of Uncle Si)! You are going to laugh at this. I went running one night at Steve's parent's house... well, around their neighborhood. I had on my headphones, and I saw something moving fast in the corner of my eye. I turned down the volume as I looked behind me. One chihuahua was running at the speed of a bullet toward me, and another one wasn't far behind the first. They were both barking hysterically. Apparently the owner lets them potty in the front yard. Anyway, I turned around, "AWAY!", I yelled as I stomped. He backed away but continued barking. I turned my head back toward the direction I was running. After about half a second I could hear barking again, and when I looked behind me, that little monster was right on my heels! I stomped my foot, hissed, clapped, and yelled, "AWAY!" again. Same routine. They backed off just long enough for me to be fooled into thinking I could continue running peacefully, and then they were back at my heels barking. Those vicious little monsters chased me all the way down the block! I had to stomp and yell SIX TIMES before we reached a cease fire. The owner stood in the road staring at me. I have no idea if she said anything because my music was still playing. She's lucky that I understand dogs and didn't punt her mini beasts like a football. A couple of days later they ran down the street to the house and started barking at my brother-in-law as he was putting things in his car. Seriously? Oh well... at least it wasn't just me. Control your dogs people. If they chase your neighbors, you shouldn't let them potty outside off lead....clearly.

While we were in Houston, we also did a little shopping. Did you know that there is a new outlet mall in Texas City? Tanger Outlets. Check it out! It's great! I also went with the ladies to the Antique Village and Flea Market in Pearland. That was interesting. Live music, knock off clothing and accessories, hot dogs wrapped in bacon, nachos, a Mexican food buffet, antiques, fun hats, and a haircut all in one place? Awesome. I was entertained. I also really enjoyed my hot dog wrapped in bacon. Seriously. It was good. I say, live it up when you get to play! I don't think the rest of the group enjoyed the experience as much as I did. hehe. From there we went to the Kemah boardwalk. It was nice to see the Gulf and to have some Mexican food and margaritas. It was a fun day. While we were out together, Mama S and Corinne bought me some cute gifts for my birthday (early).
Moving on. We spent one night with Erica and Sean, and had an early Thanksgiving dinner at Mama S's. Everything was so yummy! We spent a few nights playing board games. We also had a fajita night at Chris and Angela's house with friends. We did so many things in such a short time, one week, in Houston! We also spent loads of time in traffic. If I felt that I may have been missing Houston, I can assure you that feeling was quickly demolished by the millions of aggressive, cell phone texting, drivers crammed bumper to bumper for hours. Ugh. Traffic aside, we had a great time. On our way to Dallas after a week in Houston, we stopped in College Station to watch some Aggie football. Aggies won! It was so fun to get to go to a game!

Oh wow... it's 1:00 AM. I think I should get to bed. I'll post more tomorrow. I've also created a slideshow with all of our pictures. I'm just waiting for it to finish uploading. It's easier to do that than to post a hundred single pictures or try to pick only a dozen or so that I like best. :o)