Archive for February, 2007

Tro Tro Wants FanIce!

Posted by Karen in Holidays/Birthdays/Etc.
Sunday, February 25th, 2007 at 7:34 pm


A common form of transportation in Ghana is called a Tro Tro.  It looks kind of like a Volkswagon bus or mini-van, and they jam as mantro-tro.JPGy people into them as physically possible, and pile people’s stuff (goods to sell, baggage, furniture, goats) on top.  At some point during our trip to Ghana, Nate decided that my new name was Tro Tro. 

When you are driving on the roads in Ghana, there are always people selling things along the side of the road and at intersections, especially in Accra, the capital city.  But Steve and his friend Joseph had told us how even though you see the same stuff at every single intersection, the second you decide you actually want something and get your change ready, that thing is nowhere to be found.  And then we experienced this strange phenomenon ourselves.  One evening when we were driving back to Steve’s village from Accra, I said ice cream sounded good, and Steve said, "Ooh, let’s get FanIce!"  So we got our change all ready, and what do you know, no FanIce anywhere!  Even though we could swear we had been seeing it up until that very moment, there suddenly was no one selling it.  Watching our efforts at finding FanIce from the back seat, Nate commented that it would make a great children’s book, "Tro Tro Wants FanIce". 

And so, on Valentine’s Day, this was his present to me:  "Tro Tro wants FanIce", story and illustrations by Nathan Schroeder.  (the first one is the cover, then you sort of have to read it right to left and then down, the images are a little tricky.)
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In real life we never did find FanIce on the road, but we stopped at a petrol station and got some there.  I think he thought this might have been too harsh of a reality for the kiddies. 

So basically, coolest present ever!!!  That kid is so creative, and so talented… I still have hearts popping out of my eyes just thinking about it! 

audacity-of-hope.jpgMy present to him, though pretty darn cool, couldn’t even begin to compete with this.  But in case you are wondering what it was, it had 3 parts:  this book

street-food.jpgthis super awesome fair trade cookbook of street food from around the world so we can learn to make some of the yummy things we’ve eaten during our recent travels,
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and the remedy for our jealousy over Justin and Juliana’s ping pong table: 

We can now make any table into a mini ping pong table!  Our dining room table is perfect for it.  You are supposed to be able to suction cup the net to the table, but we haven’t quite gotten that to work yet, so we just kinda laid it across our tealight holder thingy. 

All in all, not a bad Valentine’s Day.

Some weather guy’s getting fired…

Posted by Nate in Weather.
Saturday, February 24th, 2007 at 4:51 pm


So we’re supposed to be in the middle of a HUGE winter storm.  They’ve been salting the streets since Thursday, since Friday rush hour was supposed to be an ice and snow fiasco.  It was, how do I say, not a fiasco.  Sure, it spit a little, but really nothing.  And today, we were supposed to wake up to 2-5 inches of fresh snow.  Instead, wunids_map.gifit spit some more ice for a while this morning, and we’re looking at MAYBE a quarter inch.  See the map at right, taken as I write this:

So far, like all winter, last fall, and summer, the storm is hitting south, east, and west of the metro area.  Major drought conditions here…  Sure, they’re still saying it’s going to turn it up a notch any minute now and start really dumping some snow, and sure, it’s snowing right now, but this still doesn’t look like the sort of storm that’s going to leave 15-18 inches by tomorrow…

Fingers crossed.  Come on, mama nature!  I’ve stocked up on brewing supplies so I’m ready to be snowed in!  Bruno wants to go snowshoeing!  Do it for old time’s sake!

Kegenator addition

Posted by Nate in Homebrewing.
Friday, February 23rd, 2007 at 4:05 pm


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An artist’s rendering of what the addition might look like.
(cutaway view)

The kegenator is almost exactly a year old.  It has faithfully poured many a hearty pint in that year, but lately it’s started to seem a little, I don’t know, lonely…  It must need a friend!

Our trip to Scotland gave us the chance to sample many cask-poured real ales (check out CAMRA), and gave me a hankering to replicate that sort of flavor at home.  A quick look at prices told me that a full beer engine was out of reach – let alone the two I wanted! – which left me looking for alternatives.  Real ale is often hand-pumped (via the "engine") from the cellar, but it used to be much more commonly poured from a chest-level cask.

With that in mind, I’ve set out to create an affordable-yet-delicious real ale serving setup at home.  I’m designing a separate chamber to hold the inverted kegs above the level of the faucets, and will rig up some ducts and a fan to pull in just enough air from the kegerator to keep this new chamber at "cellar temperature", about 52 degrees F.  The happy side benefit to this temperature and the fact the kegs are elevated is I’ll have plenty of room underneath for lager fermentation!  Holy two birds with one stone, batman!

… of course, we’re forecast to be snowed in this weekend, so I may be forced to delay this project.  Hopefully not too long, though, last night I transferred a British Bitter into one of the inverted kegs – it should be naturally carbonating as I type and ready within a week or two.  AND there’s a Scottish 80 Shilling fermenting now!  Yum…

Pictures of the build coming soon, I hope.

Bloggity Blog Info

Posted by Nate in Family, The Blog.
Monday, February 19th, 2007 at 10:26 am


So, looks like Feedshake underwent an upgrade and broke the combined Schroeder blog feed.  The Walker must have just dodged the bullet, we were using Feedshake to provide combined feeds to our homepage and others – and those pages break terribly if the feed stops working.  Luckily I rewrote the Walker scripts to bring them in-house a few weeks (a month?) ago and it’s working great, so I just adapted them to the Schroeder blog feed as well:

http://feeds.feedburner.com/CombinedSchroederBlogs

Also wrote a plugin so Duoteam images should come through the RSS even if they’re uploaded weird.  Sorry for the hassle.  Now that it’s on Feedburner it should keep the same URL forever, even if I have to move things around again.  Enjoy!

Christmas

Posted by Karen in Day to Day.
Sunday, February 11th, 2007 at 8:04 pm


Duoteam, Sierra, Justin, and Juliana hosted Christmas for the Schroeder family here in the Twin Cities. Christmas Eve was at J & J’s house and involved a delicioimg_4024.jpgus lasagna – and ping pong! Juliana had recently surprised Justin with a ping pong table in the basement, and it was soooooo awesome. We definitely covet it.

There was one… incident at dinner. As part of a Schroeder tradition, Sierra and Juliana had hidden an almond in the lasagna, and whoever got it in their piece won a prize. They made sure to warn us that there were almonds in the salad as well, so don’t mix them. But Rick either wasn’t listening, or just REALLY wanted that prize! He found the almond pretty darn quick, but Sierra and Juliana were a little confused since they knew where it was and that it shouldn’t have been in the piece he got. But deciding it must have moved, they awarded him his prize, a big ole bag of Jelly Bellies! However, not long after, Freddie also found an almond! After much commotion, it was revealed that Rick "hadn’t heard" the part about the almonds in the salad and had gotten them pretty mixed together on his plate, while Freddie’s almond was definitely baked, and definitely came from his lasagna which was far away from his salad on his plate. Jelly Bellies were re-awarded. Scandalous.

We all went to a service at Justin’s church, and it was cool not only to see the place for the first time, but also to see him in action. We opened presents from the Schroeder grandparents that night. Personally, I felt that the highlight was the "Lady’s Grab Bag", put together by Grandma Schroeder.

The next morning J & J came over for breakfast, and then we waited for like ever for Scotty Mowey and Rick VanRick to come over so we could open presents! Everyone got some pretty great presents, but let’s talk about what I got, shall we? Great. Turned out that Laurel was my Secret Santa, and boy oh boy did she go above and beyond the gift-giving call of duty! First: Smartwool socks! Everyone was all, "I can’t believe you seriously wanted socks for Christmas", but say what you will. I pretty much hated socks my whole life until I discovered these babies. Next was this awesome book that I also totally wanted, Worldchanging: A User’s Guide for the 21st Century. So I was super thrilled and thanking her, when she tells me I still have to open the card. I open it, only to find that she and Nate have collaborated to get us tickets to a Surly beer dinner at the Happy Gnome! (Fun fapict0010.JPGct – Nate and I are in 2 photos on Surly’s website. One is kind of Where’s Waldoey though, a little tough to spot us.) Seeing as the last beer dinner we went to was one of my favorite dates of all time, I was pretty excited! (Little did I know that in a tragic turn of events I was to get the stomach flu or food poisoning days before the beer dinner and have to cancel. We are rescheduled for a Bells beer dinner, which is still super exciting, but… it’s not Surly. Teardrop.) Quentin sent a pretty sweet package from Scotland, along with a letter that made us all cry – tho that might have been Sierra’s dramatic reading of it.

I was still furiously baking cookies all day, because I was sure we didn’t yet have enough to fill the lazy susan. A family tradition that may have been made up by my grandma was filling this big lazy susan with a million different kinds of cookies. When my aunt died last year, the lazy susan came home with me and was put temporarily in storage in our basement. In my head, the lazy susan had grown to a monster size, like a trout in a fishing story. So when we finally busted it out, I couldn’t believe how NOT huge it was! And how we could barely fit all of the different kinds of cookies on it!

While stuff was baking, it was time for the second annual Schroeder Jeopardy! This year it was brought to us by Rick and Marianne, and had categories like Quentin and Scotland, Significant Others, Geography, Birds, North Shore, and Schroeder family. I quickly dibbsed Laurel after hearing her say she had memorized Quentin’s blog and knew all of Rick’s most important birds. I was pretty sure we had all of the categoriesimg_4039.jpg covered between us. And I was right. We made a strong showing, but got tripped up with some of the wording of questions. Meanwhile, Freddie and Justin snuck up with out anyone noticing and nabbed a bunch of 500 pointers for the unexpected win. Prizes were awarded and suddenly there was a potato gun war. Such a great prize. Nate got a Scottish beer and I got a page-a-day calendar of Bushisms. One of my favorites so far: "The best way to find these terrorists who hide in holes is to get people coming forth to describe the location of the hole, is to give clues and data." Sigh.

Nate led the efforimg_4041.jpgts with the main meal, and it was a doozie, as usual: curry squash apple soup, vegetable pot pie, and cracked whole wheat rolls, all from scratch. mmmmm. Oh but it was not over yet. Nate had made little individual creme brulees for everyone. Probably just an excuse to show off his new fire toy, but who cares with results that yummy! By the time we were done with that no one really wanted Christmas cookies, but I tried to make everyone eat them anyway.

Marianne and Rick gave Nate an addition to the basement fun room, the game of Crokinole. I had warned her about his rage attacks when he plays games, so when he first sank into depression after losing a few games, then threw a little "everyone’s a cheater" fit, at least they were prepared. He has since discovered some new rules which helped the situation, thank god. It has been super fun having it down there. We even had a New Year’s day date in the basement with fondue and Crokinole.

One other exciting thing was that with the totally sweet present from mi madre Mary Jo, a shiny green iPod, I was able to fill the house with Christmas cheer for like 2 weeks straight with my awesome Christmas music mix. It made Nate so crazy that he bought me a new Christmas CD that he thought he might actually like in hopes that I would play it instead, but I just added it to my mix.

And lastly, a memorable Christmas moment for me was the night when I put something away in the freezer and accidentally knocked a can of Kong Stuff’n Paste off from on top the fridge. If you’re not familiar with it, Kong Stuff’n Paste is totally disgusting liver paste in like an EZ Cheese can that you squirt inside a Kong toy to keep your pooch occupied for awhile. Bruno is craaazy about the stuff. So the can fell off the fridge, hit the marianne-konged.JPGground, somehow got punctured, and started spraying EVERYWHERE! Marianne was in the kitchen with me, and we both started screaming and trying to dodge it, and I finally got my foot on it to block the spray. Nate comes running from the office, Bruno comes running and happily begins the clean-up effort, and Rick comes up from the basement and says "What’s this?" as he wipes some from the wall and puts it in his mouth thinking it was EZ Cheese or something! GRROSSSS!!! I take one look at Marianne and start laughing hystericaly, because she had a spray of liver paste starting at her toe, running all the way up her leg, all the way up her shirt, straight up her whole face and into her hair! I’m sure I must have looked pretty similar, but somehow no one got a picture of me…

The Aftermath

Posted by Karen in Day to Day.
Saturday, February 10th, 2007 at 7:17 pm


Here is the duck pinata, no longer haughtily mocking all of us.  We showed him what’s up.  We’ve actually left him up there, you know, as a lesson.  Any other giant paper mache creatures might want to think twice before stepping into Duoteam territory.
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Catching Up is Hard To Do

Posted by Karen in Day to Day.
Friday, February 9th, 2007 at 11:33 pm


Soooo… it’s been awhile.  I just complained for a good 5 minutes to Nate about how Wordpress blogs don’t make sense to me and I don’t know how to use it and that’s why I don’t post much since we switched from computer-dummy-friendly Blogger.  But let’s face it folks.  I’ve never posted as much as Nate, and ever since I stopped working in an office with a computer in front of me it’s been a pretty rare occurrence.  However… this week was my first week at my new awesome job that does entail some office and computer time.  So who knows what might happen?  Also, I bet if I would maybe make it a more frequent thing I might actually learn how to use it and not have to ask him every time I want to upload a stinkin photo.  So Wordpress, I apologize for laying all the blame on you.  (But I still think you’re not very friendly.)

So we have some catching up to do!  We’ve got a birthday party, a Christmas celebration, a crazy adventure in Ghana and Scotland, a new job, and the moving out of a member of the Duoteam household to cover.  So let’s get to it.
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Sierra’s birthday is December 11 (which also happens to be my sister’s birthday, weird).  A long time ago she was pretty dead-set on wanting a hot air balloon ride for her birthday.  But after some research, I had to break it to her:  honey, we love you, but we ainpict0024.JPG‘t spending no $400 on your birthday present.  So then she decided she wanted a party with a pinata.  Done.  Nate let her choose a beer for him to brew for her, and naturally it was a jalapeno cream ale for the little pinolera.  We had fun and festivities, so much so that we forgot to bust out a whole tray of 7-layer dip, some cool noise makers we got, and even her birthday pie!  But the pinata was a thing of glory.  We got one at the Midtown Global Market that was locally made and sooooo cool.  Sierra started it off, and almost everyone got to take a turn.  The thing was kind of unreal – even after a little candy started spilling out it still took a few more people to decapitate it! 
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Although the party was for Sierra’s birthday, it really was (for Nate anyway) kind of a basement release party as well.  Nate proudly gave tours of his amazing work and was quite happy with the reaction.  Everyone was pretty impressed with the super cool floor.  And everyone kind of ended up hanging out down there, which was great since that was kind of the point of it all.  Yay.  All in all, it was a good time, and the Birthday Girl partied it up till there was nothing left to do but curl up with the dog for sierra-steals-bs-bed.jpga little nap.  But eventually the dog was crowding her so she claimed his bed for herself.  That’s a sign of a good party. 

Stay tuned for the next installment: Christmas!  Maybe I’ll even get to it while there’s still snow on the ground!  But I make no promises.

 

(not) pictures of our trip!

Posted by Nate in Bruno, Friends.
Wednesday, February 7th, 2007 at 10:59 am


Cutest picture ever:
(Bruno playing in the snow)
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Creepiest picture ever:
(Cody on Halloween)
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Quick update

Posted by Nate in Broomball, Bruno, Day to Day, Travel, Work.
Friday, February 2nd, 2007 at 12:11 pm


  1. We’re back!  Ghana and Scotland each deserve their own post, but the brief summary is: unbelievably cool.  Really interesting, educational, and fun, great people, great scenery, and delicious food and drink.
  2. Broomball is back!  This week we had games on Tuesday (we won 3-1, I scored by batting one in out of the air and Peter K had two amazing goals), Thursday (we won 2-0, I scored from the edge and Jason worked some serious magic), then have a makeup game scheduled tomorrow!  (plus normal games in the week, plus my team at work is playing Monday)  Holy broomball, Batman!
  3. It’s cold.  Really, really cold.  -9F air temp when I walked Bruno this morning, we only made it two blocks before his little paws got full of ice and he was limping so we hustled back — too fast, it turned out.  He got all excited running home and saw our neighbor and picked up speed and I caught my boot on the sidewalk and wiped out really hard on my bad knee.  Damn.  Probably ok, but man did that dog walk suck.
  4. Yep, cold.  The next three days the high temp is going to be maybe 0F with windchills in the -20 to -30 range.
  5. Karen got a job!!  She can post more, but briefly in her words: "I get to be outside in beautiful places, working with people and ecology, educating and raising awareness about issues that are important to me, and facilitating restoration and land conservation.  I pretty much feel like I just won the lottery.  Like I can’t believe I get to do all this stuff AND get paid for it!"
  6. Her having a steady job is actually a really excited new phase for us – when I arrived in St. Paul she had just quit the nonprofit she’d been with for years and picked up temp work before deciding to go back to school.  It’s been a hectic three years, and I gotta say I’m looking forward to this next step – and super proud of her.  Way to go, kid!

More as we continue to catch up and recoup from our trip – we’re both still fighting colds, her more than me.  Stupid colds.  Peace and stay warm!  Go Bears!