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At one time there were several dairies in the El Paso Lower Valley where we live. One of the best had been started by Elmer Haffnhaff many years before when he was a young man.

For a while when our children were small, we had regular milk deliveries from the Haffnhaff Dairy. Quite often it was Elmer's only son Clarence, or Clabber as he was known to the family, who was driving the truck. He was getting his feet wet, or his boots messy, so to speak, by learning the business from the ground up.

I loved the convenience of having milk, cheese, eggs and sour cream always at hand. But of course the children (well, actually all of us) loved the Haffnhaff ice cream.

Our family favorite, however, was their asadero cheese. Next to the cheese made by the nuns at the monastery on Mockingbird Lane, Haffinhaff's was the best I have ever tasted.

Old Elmer used to conduct tours for schoolchildren at his dairy, and when we first moved here, he was a familiar figure walking along the road with a trail of cows behind him. But, as the city grew, there were more and more complaints from new neighbors about the dairy's smells and Haffnhaff's acreage shrunk because Elmer kept selling off parcels to pay for Clabber and his sister Lavaca's education and other matters. Eventually, Elmer moved his dairy further down the Valley close to the old family farmhouse.

Things were never the same after that, however; although we still had home delivery long after all the other diaries had given up that personal service when the cost of gasoline went up. Because the dairy was now so far from town, many of Elmer's former customers began going to WalMart for their milk, eggs, sour cream and cheeses - well, except for asadero cheese, which was never remotely as good as Haffnhaff's. Of course, the younger generation who had never been on a school tour or tasted Elmer's asadero cheese had no idea what they were missing.

Both my mother-in-law and my mother used to love to take an afternoon drive to visit the dairy and bring back as much as they felt all the family, including us and my sisters' families as well, could safely keep in our refrigerators. And, of course, like the other old-time customers, while they were there for the cheese, they also brought back other dairy products, too.

So, although considerably shrunken from its previous glory days, Haffnhaffs continued, thanks to its loyal asadero cheese customers and some sage advertising strategies. For instance, Elmer always made sure that Haffnhaff's always had a booth at everything going on in El Paso, from the Street Festival Downtown, to bazaars, to Octoberfest at Ft. Bliss and and all the feast day festivals at the Tigua Reservation.

Eventually, of course, Elmer began turning more and more of the family business over to his son. "Lavaca's always off gallivantin' around doin' somethin' with them indigenouses, so it's all gonna be yours, son," he told Clabber.

There was a big write-up in the paper when Clabber Haffnhaff married IdaClaire Togoodness, a sweet young thing from a well-regarded Lower Valley family. It wasn't long before Clabber had given his bride a nickname, too; Moo-Moo (it was a tradition in the family to give everyone a nickname). He also carried on the Haffnhaff tradition of cow-related presents. For years, every gift that Clabber gave his pretty wife for her birthday, Christmas, or anniversary was either black and white or mooed. (Ida Claire told me once that Elsie Haffnnaff, Clabber's mother, confided that she had given an entire pickup load of cow items to a fellow from Juarez. "I just had to get some of that mooing stuff out of my house," the older woman had said, nearly in tears.)

When both of the elder Haffnhaffs passed away, their daughter Lavaca was on an archaeological dig in Latin America. Clabber sent his sister a cable.

But she replied that she was happy to sell him her half of what was left of the family dairy farm and several generations' worth of cow memorabilia. "I am lactose and dairy intolerant, and you and Moo-Moo can have it all with my blessing. The only black and white I ever want to see again is the spectator pumps I left in storage and the daily newspaper," she ended her letter.

Not long after that, to IdaClaire's dismay, Clabber decided they should move into the Haffnhaff family farmhouse. "Why, Moo-Moo, you can become more involved in the business," he said, and "you'll be within smelling distance of where I am."

I knew she was quite unhappy at leaving their cute little home in El Paso that she had so carefully and tastefully furnished with nary a moo or cowbell anywhere, but she smiled grimly and made the best of it. As she told me once, she had been brought up to be a devoted wife, and was determined to make her marriage work. So, IdaClaire gritted her teeth and attended all the Dairy Festival committee meetings and dusted and polished the cowhorn chairs and butter churns and cowbells and all the cow-related knickknacks that filled two floors and an attic of the old house.

The year Clabber turned fifty, he began combing his thinning hair over his bald spot and bought a red sportscar. He hired a new secretary, Kim De La Kreme, who not only hung on his every word of dictation, but made sure her ample bosom hung over his arm frequently, too. Naturally, she went far at the Annual Lower Valley Dairy Festival, of which Clabber was chairman and IdaClaire his faithful assistant.

When IdaClaire found out Clabber and Kim had spent a stirring weekend in Acapulco, she was furious and gave him an ultimatum. "I cannot believe you could be so foolish, after all I have done for you and your stupid dairy. It's me or her, Clabber."

"Well, IdaClaire, I think it's her. I done ever'thang I cud to give you a comfortable life, but you never was able to appreciate all this," and he swung his arm at the black and white clutter of the old farmhouse living room. "And besides that, you never could make decent butter," he said, and he and Kim De La Creme left on the next Amtrack to tour the nation's dairy centers.

Before the two lovers had even reached Wisconsin, IdaClaire had contacted her lawyers.

By the time Clabber had purchased Cheesehead hats for himself and Kim, IdaClaire had cleaned out the Haffnhaffs' joint account.

While Clabber tried to catch his breath running after Kim through the gift shop at the next dairy exhibition, IdaClaire was talking to a real estate agent.

As Clabber and Kim were leaving the Cheese Museum, Allied Van Lines moved the entire contents of the Haffnhaff farmhouse into an old refurbished brick building on Alameda Street.

The day Clabber and Kim boarded a plane for Oregon, IdaClaire and Clabber's neighbor, Noble Brand, a cattle rancher, was helping her arrange a store display of Little People Cows, first made by Fisher Price in 1968. (My children had some of those toys and I always felt a bit leery about the way their tails hung down. )

And while Clabber and Kim visited a cheese factory in Tillamook, Oregon, Moo-Moo's was having a phenomenally successful opening, and business has been churning ever since.

It was Noble's idea to include a milk bar, and now every morning he ties on an apron and whips up delicious milk drinks for contented customers. Even though the store appears to be full, many dissatisfied wives of other dairy farmers are constantly bringing her new stock, and IdaClaire still has more items from the old farmhouse in a local warehouse.

Not long after Moo-Moo's was designated the El Paso Chamber of Commerce's New Business of the Year, Clabber appeared at IdaClaire's door, Cheesehead hat in hand.

"Howdy, Moo-Moo. I've come back, " he said. "Did you miss me?"
"Well, Clabber, matter of fact, I didn't," she responded, looking over her shoulder with a smile at Noble, who was preparing Beef Stroganoff.
"What's the matter, Clabber?" she asked. "Has Miss Milk Production dried up on you?"
"Well," he mumbled, "It turns out she's allergic to milk like Lavaca and I've come down with some kind of terrible disease."
"Well, all I can say, Hon, is that I did everything I could to keep that cow farm going, but I never did like buttermilk, and I think it's time for you to be put out to pasture," she said, and closed the door.

Moo-Moo's Cow Shop's doormat reflects IdaClaire's present philosophy of life. Personally, I think it is a bit disrespectful to old Elmer's memory, but who am I to say?

CREATING AND FILLING MOO-MOO'S

By some Darwinian coincidence, even the birds who followed IdaClaire to the new store had picked up cow markings. And some say if you look closely enough at them, you'll see something udderly unbirdlike

I was trying to come up with a name for the shop, pondering things like "Udderly Yours," and my daughter-in-law Bonnie asked, "Why don't you call it Moo-Moo's?" So, Moo-Moo's it became, and thus the story.)

That cow on the sign has given me fits. When I was working on the exterior, I asked my husband to come look at my new sign. He asked, "Why do you have a duck with a blob of bubble-gum on its head looking through a pair of binoculars?"

But it really IS a cow; she only has a really REALLY big nose and a cowbell! This loopy cow topped a bookmark. It was brought back to me from Hawaii by my friend Rosalinda, a teaching colleague when I first started collecting cows back in my teaching days. I cut off the bottom flat part and thought it would be perfect over the door.

Never dreamed it would look like a duck with binoculars instead of a cow leaning her arms on a fence!

This is the right end view of the shop. (Sorry for the quality - or lack of it - of this picture; they do get better.)

The brick was made from Magic Brik (not sure of spelling). This is a relatively painless way of bricking a large surface. The building was painted mortar gray, a stencil was taped in place, then the gritty brick stuff was glopped on. When the stencil was peeled away, there were red bricks! When it dried thoroughly, I applied several layers of different colors with a sponge to age the too-bright bricks.

I don't recall why the splotch of brown is on the window frame. Hmmmm ....

I don't remember where I got the cows standing on the red arrows. One became the back of a stool seat and the other just stayed a cow standing on a red arrow pointing toward something.


Notice the basket of antique cow eggs in the window, an example of painting things with black and white spots to make them fit the theme. (The straw is raffia, cut into tiny pieces.) I cut the sign out of a mail order catalog, glued it to matboard and darkened the edges after I cut it out. It was then glued to a toothpick.

This picture of the animals from the Brothers Grimm fairytale of the Musicians of Breman hangs just inside the window framework by the curtain tieback. It's a good example of how difficult it is to get clear pictures when things are glued in place inside a shop with access only from the top or through the windows.

I have a real-life sugar bowl and creamer, with the cow as creamer; pig as sugar bowl sits atop cow; rooster is handle on lid.

See what I mean? This purple Fimo cow towel holder is above the previous picture. It's a lot cuter than it looks here. lol

I learned from this experience to try to take pictures of things BEFORE I glue them into place in my scene. Unfortunately, I don't always remember.

The rather wild-eyed flocked cow head is on a grapevine wreath wrapped with ribbon and trimmed with real grasses of some kind..

This is an over view through the right shop window. You can glimpse the dairy bar and counter at the back, which is where Ida Claire's friend Noble whips up his now-famous concoctions. The tall two-doored object on the left is a refrigerator. Next to it is a curtain leading to the rear of the shop.

Originally I planned tiebacks at the front corners of the windows, too; but in order to provide more viewing room they are only used at one end of the side windows.

The cows in the shop are made from ceramic, metal, wood, clay, resin, paper, cardboard and plastic. Some were purchased at miniature shows, many were found at traditional craft shows and gift shops; many were made by combining various materials.

I did lots of contriving with buttons or stickpins. I made several cows (and parts of cows) from Fimo and other materials and did a lot of bashing of earrings, pins, necklaces and children's hair ornaments. The smallest cows were model railroad figures.

I also made use of many inexpensive little furniture pieces that I collected in my less discriminating early days. It didn't seem to matter here if they were a bit rough-hewn.

In those days before the internet and printies, many items were cut from mail order catalogs and magazines, glued to cardstock or thin wood backings. Some became posters; others were framed as pictures; some were added to plain items to make them cow-related.

The rocking cow in the center of the window was made by Julian Biggers. You can see some of the model railroad cows walking around a flower arrangement on the skirted table behind it.

The display ledge was already there in the windows; I added the white picket fence and sprinkled on fine green Easter grass to unify the displays. This made the biggest change when I was working on the shop. Everything looked too bland up to that point. As soon as that fence was added and the grass sprinkled around, it gave me the idea to add other farm-themed elements to the shop, which added more color and personality. A shop with nothing but cow items would be monotonous, it seemed to me.

For example, until then I hadn't thought about using this little Noah's Ark, which I had stashed with some items for a children's room. But it definitely adds personality to the front window.

Many white items, such as plain white Chrysnbon dishes and the stool in the right front window were painted with black and white cow spots (it was also given udders); other solid color items throughout the shop were decorated with stickers or cutouts from magazines, etc. (This was before all the internet printies became common.)

The cow pillow in the window shows one use of many different cow and farm related fabrics. I think at one time I counted seventeen different fabrics used throughout Moo-Moo's.

Although it is a bit distorted because I had to take the picture through the open top, this is a view of the right front of the shop.

The skirted table in the corner is made from a cut-down frozen orange juice can. Its fabric is used again on the stool covers and on the doorway curtain at the rear of the shop. I remember reading somewhere that if you use a color or fabric as a major element in a room, it's good to use it in at least three different places.

The red vase holding the flower arrangement is the cap from a felt marker. I set the vase inside a small gold tray made from a button; model railroad cows circle the base of the flower arrangement on the skirted table. One seems to be majorly tilting; maybe he's dizzy from going 'round and 'round that arrangement. lol

Here's a closer look at that little red box with the handle. It holds a roll of leftover wallpaper which was used as backing on the wall storage unit, and more cow pictures that I couldn't find room for anywhere else.

The wooden cow has a sign on the other side which says, No Tipping. It holds an Easter basket.

Here's a side view of the basket.( Didn't realize how the handle tilted until I took this picture. Too late to change it now.) In order to make it stay atop the wooden cow, I first had to glue a larger wooden button in place, then set the basket inside it.

I made this at an Easter egg basket workshop in the days when there was still a mini-club in El Paso. While everybody else was using pastels, I decided to use black and white. Hey, somebody has to lay those cow eggs! The white bow on the left side has tiny silk blossoms in the center; that's a black bow on the right.

That little circle thingie in the center is actually white icing atop a chocolate egg. There's another fancy chocolate egg barely visible next to the left handle.

Next to the stools is a barrel with hay and corn. Beside it is a bag of cow feed. I think those were purchased at a show once. The small carved cat next to a milk can came from a little shop at the Pike's Street Market in Seattle.

Behind them you see the base of the counter, which is covered with paper Christmas ribbon with a cow design. In case you can't tell from here, those are the cows' rumps. lol

You can get another brief glimpse of more of the cow (red ribbon around its neck) here, just past the stool. I have lots of that ribbon left, but that's okay, because it was also perfect for this scene since it had the black, brown and red colors that are used throughout the store.

In fact, I have lots of little cow items left over, too; it's hard to stop collecting, even though the store is supposedly complete. Maybe I should make up packets to sell to others who want to do a cow scene. Hmmm....

A computer register occupies the end of the counter. The clip on the clipboard is a tiny wooden cow. The cup is made from a jewelry finding.

The glasses on the center shelf in front of the mirror are real glass; the mugs on the right are plastic, if I recall; all purchased at one time or another. I don't remember where I got the glazed brown dispenser

You get a glimpse here of the health permit behind the counter and a couple of cow prints. The counter was made from a piece of marble-look floor tile. After I got everything glued in place, my husband kindly pointed out that the faucets were crooked. Well, then what? ! Rip it all out? Nope; so they stayed crooked. At the far right of the picture you get a glimpse of a steer stickpin which was used to trim a dish of brownies.

Unfortunately I can't get a good picture of it so that you can actually see the brownies.

Oops. Here's an example of how difficult it is to take photos through a glass window when you're facing a mirror!

This is the wall at the right end of the counter.

The grapevine wreath with a cow resting comfortably inside it is resin. If you look closely, you can see the cow reflected a bit in the mirror which I glued to the back.

Here's the mug rack at the far end of the counter. Originally, it was red; I painted it brown to better fit the color scheme and because I wanted the red mugs to be predominant. I painted the spots on the white mugs.

I practically had to lie on the floor to get a picture through the front window of the letters over the mirror behind the counter. You can see the valance on the front window reflecting back through the glass. It's not very clear, but it was the best I could do. I bought the wooden letters and stained them, and added the cow head to the O.

Same problem here as I tried to get a picture of the lily plant in the cow accented wall planter. Why a lily? Must've had some good reason, but I don't remember. Maybe to get different colors in?

At this angle I got at least a partial glimpse of the shelves under the planter. Those are ice cream cups in the box on the top. On the bottom is a small glass bowl of lemon slices and some ripe bananas. I was really proud of them; they turned out pretty darn good, but I can't get a good picture of them. Shoot!

Red was used as an accent color throughout the shop, including the Chrysnbon pitcher and glasses, and canisters made from red beads over on the right shelf. I cut half away here in this picture, but the bottom shelf contains metal soda fountain dishes and Chrysnbon white goblets that I painted with spots.

That's a cow jumping over the moon over the shelf and I guess those are my fingers reflecting in the mirror!


These letters over the doorway are another use of images cut from a mail order catalog. I glued them to cardboard for dimension, gave them a coat of varnish and darkened the edges with a felt marker after cutting them out.

Here's another glimpse of the refrigerator to the left of the doorway. So that it would hang realistically, I pinned Nolan's apron to shape on a pinning board (looped over a pin) and sprayed it with Patricia Nimock's matte finish. This works great with items that would ordinarily be too flat and not hang right, spoiling the illusion.

In front of the refrigerator and behind the small bench with the pink quilt are a couple of churns and some milk cans.

These two little guys sit on the floor just past the churns and milkcans, next to the curtain to the back.

Here's a partial closeup of the bench behind the milk cans and churns. The quilt was a piece of quilted fabric that was folded and glued over the end of the bench. That's another print pillow behind the cow doll. The same print was used for a seat pad on the bench, but it hardly shows.

The little cow doll is made of wooden beads tied together with twine. The tuft of hair atop her head is a knot in the twine. I found her in a craft place in Tennessee when we went for a visit when our son and daughter-in-law lived there.

The birdcage atop the refrigerator was a tiny white Easter ornament. In order to make it stand right, it's glued to a pronged jewelry finding stuck inside a button, all painted pink. I replaced the bird with a model railroad cow and decorated the cage with a silk ribbon bow, tiny silk ribbon roses and natural greenery that is now brownery! Nowadays I know how natural materials fade, and when I use them, I paint them if I want them to retain color.

To the right you get a glimpse of the curtained doorway. The curtain is the same fabric as the skirted table and the stool tops. I pleated it on a pleater, glued jump rings to the top of each fold, then slid a painted bamboo skewer through the rings. Above the birdcage is a cow clock and a sign that I can't get a good picture of otherwise.

To the left you get a glimpse of a multi-opening wooden unit which had no back. I covered cardboard with Joe Hermes cow wallpaper and glued it to the back of the open frame. Oddly enough, in the pictures the unit shows up green, although it is painted blue.

Although a bit dim, here is an overview of the left side of the shop through the window. You can see the unit I am referring to at the back.

Hidden by the valance in the above picture is this pastel cow resting atop the storage unit.

Unfortunately this is the best I can get of some of the figures. The tiny items on the top shelf are pictures glued to cardboard or tiny pieces of wood so they would stand upright. The vase is another red bead with a cow sticker on it, glued to a grommet for a base.

Man, that cow in the pink dress sitting on the wood block is one ugly angel.

I managed to get a good shot here that shows the Hermes wallpaper better. The cow on wheels is made of wood. My little cow on the right is Fimo. Hey, his nose looks like bubblegum, too. lol

On the bottom shelf is a white milk jug, a write-on calendar and a Fimo cow sitting in what appears to be some kind of tire tube. The yellow edged cow in front sits atop a breadbox on a table in front of the unit. On the far left you see a little cow head sitting atop a standing paper towel holder.

To the right of the Fimo cow you get a glimpse of some pink towels. In front of them is a bathroom plunger which I made. That's a plant sticking up but I couldn't get a picture of its container.

Here you see the breadbox more clearly. It was an inexpensive purchase; I added the cow on top. To the left you see the towel holder behind a wooden box with a matching cow on the end.

Just past the towel holder is a tiny shelf unit just big enough to hold four Chrsynbon glasses that I painted with spots.

Here is the wooden box on the table under the above shelves. I believe it contains napkins and utensils, etc. To its left is an open drawer in the red cupboard. That's a dishtowel and potato peeler in the open drawer.

Here's a close up of the red cupboard in the back corner. The top part of the red storage cabinet was a wall shelf unit. It sits on top of a dry sink to form a china cupboard. Painting them both barn red unified the two disparate pieces. The back of the cupboard was lined with more cow wallpaper from Joe Hermes.

The salt and pepper shakers are earring catches painted white and black spots added.

There are more cows along a molding on the left wall, including a clock. My goodness; I have no idea how that stain between those two cows got there!

This checkerboard cow also resides on that piece of molding.

Here's everything under that molding strip. The two boxes atop the cupboard were kits that I purchased on a trip somewhere long ago and finally put together for this store. The wooden piece with cow, pig, duck and rabbit is a peg rack. The shadowbox holds more tiny cows, milk cans, etc.

I tried to get a better picture of the bench with the sunflower and coordinating prints cushions but this was the best I could do. I am not sure why the red line is there. I painted the bench with the same barn red as the cupboard and made all the pillows. The checkerboard table in front of it was an inexpensive wooden Christmas ornament that I doctored a bit.

Here are the bench and table from another angle. The pillow at the end of the window is another different print. The lamp is made from one of those old-fashioned wooden milk bottles. The little planter with the yellow rosebuds was made from a bottle cap with a calf button glued to its side.

Here's an overview of the left end of the room. I repainted the chair and made the cushions (same fabric was used elsewhere a couple of times.). The black and white cow standing beside the chair was a show purchase.

The red cushion-topped storage bench filled with pillows in front of the table was made from the lower half of a Michaels hutch. (See Michaels Hutches in Tutorials.) The material covering its cushion/lid is the same fabric that was pleated and used for the tiebacks at the end windows and the valances on the front windows.

I learned early on to keep the door firmly shut because people kept trying to turn the doorknob to open it and messing stuff up generally. Unfortunately, this means these items in front of the storage chest/bench are rarely seen because they are behind the door. The little box contains a collection of cow bells. The cow chair on the far right is really nicely made. I need to move it someplace else so it will show up better through the front windows.

This is about the best you can see it through the right front window over the green pillow.

The mirror and clock show how metal cow buttons were used. One was used to trim a picture finding that I painted to match and turned into a mirror. I glued a clock face covered with plastic and topped with a jump ring to make the clock on the other button. I found the wooden cow with jointed legs at a craft show. I added the blue bow.

The cow sitting on the end of the table was a show purchase, made by Yahna. His striped legs are crossed; that's why you don't really see the second one.

Here's the view looking back toward the doorway and fountain area.

Here is the view through the left side window of the shop. Unfortunately, it's a bit dark to make out the curtain tieback.

This cow hangs inside the window frame behind that tieback curtain.

The cow head here was going to be an entire cow but I got tired and just glued it to a painted Valentine woodsie.

I added the bandana to this cow for another accent of red.

This "black-eyed Susan " wreath at the left corner was made with brown painted florist wire, starflowers with painted brown centers, a model railroad cow (I painted the spots brown), and a tiny piece of gold silk ribbon.

Here's another view of the left front window.

The lattice back bench and matching table to the left were plain white. I added the cowhide print cushion. The two cowhead pillows were made from wooden buttons painted with acrylics and given cardboard ears and red bows. The apple tree pillow was cut from a print featuring varied farm scenes. It fits with the color scheme of black, white, red, and brown, and the secondary farm theme.

Although they are blurred, the two items in front of the bench cannot even be seen from the front of the shop! The little pull toy is wood; the towel rack was contrived from a readymade piece with tiny wooden cows glued on the ends.

I purchased this little brown china cow on a trip up the West Coast. He stands next to the sunflower wreath in the left front window.

The barn display shadowbox shows several more uses of model railroad cows and milk cans. I added more tiny farm cutouts, a red heart and some greenery-that-is-now-brownery in a tiny white bead vase.

To the left is a cow reindeer pull toy by Karen Markland.

I can't believe I didn't get a clearer picture. However, you can see it again in the full picture of the window above.

Here is another little china cow that was in my stash, probably from a long time ago.

Here is another glimpse of the storage chest made from the bottom of the Michaels hutch.

Here is the mailbox, originally bright red.(Sorry the picture is so dim, but I am tired of taking new photos. lol) I grunged and rusted it, added the cow on the heart to the flag. It used to contain mail - letters, advertisements, catalogs, etc., and that pot underneath used to have a pretty respectable looking plant in it. However, my grandchildren have loved moving that mailbox and the wooden cow on the right (they are the only things not glued down and I told them they could play with them if they would put them back.) I have found them all over the den at different times. There used to be two wooden cows that stood on either side of the brackets on the ledge above the windows. They disappeared a long time ago.

And here's the little fellow with the milk bucket who has also gone on trips around the house with the grandchildren.

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After I first put up my website with the earlier pictures of Moo-Moo's, I got the neatest gift of mini Wisconsin cheese from "Peggy in Wiscowsin," as she called herself. I knew it had to become Clabber's and Kim's Cheese-Head hats.

Which reminds me, I need to conclude our story of IdaClaire and her faithless former husband ....

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After Clabber succumbed to Mad Cow Disease (it was not a pretty ending), Ida Claire sold the Haffnhaff dairy and bought a new condo which she has tastefully furnished in English chintzes.

Noble greets her each morning with a latte.

Business at Moo-Moo's has been so successful that IdaClaire has now opened an Annex. I plan to go over to Alameda Street soon for a visit and to check out what she has in there.

Oh, and did I tell you Noble talked her into selling asadero cheese?

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