Thursday, December 6, 2007
Here is a sampling of recent inquiries for your amusement. How many of them could you answer without resorting to the internet--or sarcasm?
"How fast does a Beta fish's heart beat?"
"Why do they always make the words in books black and not other colors?"
"How many days until Christmas?"
"What does 'abrasion' mean?"
"What shape is an antibody?"
"What is the biggest number?"
"If a polygon had one hundred sides, what would it be called?"
"What does 'obliged' mean?"
"How do you say 'Breakfast' in Polish?"
"Do I have a leg-pit?"
"How many days until Christmas?"
"What is the capital of the World?"
"How cold is it on Pluto?"
"Why do they call it Iceland?"
"How many days until Christmas?"
"Why doesn't it lightning during a snow storm?"
"Do Caper and Moppett (the cats) dream?"
"Why does the moon follow us?"
"Why do I have to take a bath when it's not Saturday?"
"Can we go to THE Hotel in Ohio tomorrow?"
"What does 'grateful' mean?"
"Why does God love us?"
"Can we spend the night at Grandma's?"
"How many days until Christmas?"
"If you mixed all the colors together, what color would it make?"
"What is cyberspace?"
"Why does it take so long to grow up?"
"Can I have a pink wedding dress?"
"How many days until Christmas?"
My only question is this: If a tattoo is invisible, can you get it removed anyway?
Monday, November 19, 2007
You see, our family is working on switching over to Whole Foods. Now before you think that this seems very Un-Slacker-like of me, bear in mind that once I've done a bit of leg work, this should be cheaper, healthier, and Less work than what I'm doing now.
One of the things that I have been researching is Raw Certified Milk. Raw Certified Milk is the only milk in the United States, raw or pasturized, that is tested for Salmonella. Since my little brother almost died from Salmonella during the Jewel milk scare back in the 80's, testing is a good thing in my book. That, along with other things that I have read have convinced me that it would be worth it to try it.
Ha. Apparently, our great state has once again decided that We the People are incapable of making wise decisions without their intervention, and the sale of raw dairy products is illegal in Illinois. However...if you own a cow, they cannot prevent you from reaping the benefits of said cow in whatever form you like, processed or otherwise. And it just so happens that there are clubs to join, where for a minimal yearly fee you can own a "membership" in a cow, thus circumventing that particular law. While the thought of being in a "Cow Club" and having a "Cow Card" is just Oh So Far Side, I had to check it out. Basically, you join, place a weekly order, drive over an hour away to a private residence and pick up your milk. At $16 a gallon. And this isn't the certified stuff either, which means I wouldn't consider it at 1/4 that price. It comes in quart jars, which you rinse and return at the next pick up. Not that I'd really know, but this has the feel of an illegal drug purchase to me. But it's just Milk, for crying out loud!!!
Obviously, I have no intention of doing this. It would be cheaper to buy a cow and milk it myself.
Those of you in California that can purchase raw certified milk in the stores, have a glass for me and let me know if its any good. And tell those Alta Dena cows that I can hear them and it's not nice to laugh at people.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
everseenputyourshoesawaygoplayoutside...." This routine is broken only by the weekly trips to the grocery store and the breath of fresh air that is Sunday.
But everyday, when the kids are occupied by some all-engrossing project, this ordinary Stay-at-Home wife and mother assumes the secret identity of Nitrocat and enters the exciting world of Letterboxing! As this Alter Persona, she plans quests for hidden treasure, solves perplexing riddles, and can do things with an Exacto knife she never dreamed were possible. She can also imagine answering the siren song of Thru Hiking, feel the rain of the Moors on her face, and push herself beyond former boundaries. She is creative and deviously clever and has friends all over the globe.
Then the phone rings and the eye doctor wants to know when she can come pick up the new prescription and is she planning on paying the balance of the bill at that time? And Poof! Just like that the costume must be hung in the closet~right next to the dry cleaning~until another time. But inside there is still a sparkle, because she knows that there is more to her than most people realize.
To be continued...
Monday, November 12, 2007
And the stamps! When I left, I thought I had them all, but now I keep discovering ones I missed. Still, the toasters were a hoot and my favorite. I've already had to explain Mandie though~even the 5yo knows that's not a wedding dress she's wearing!
The food was delicious and abundant, as was the laughter. And unless there is one buried in the stew in the crockpot in my fridge, I didn't come home with one cootie!
One of these days, I will figure out a way to be organized at an event, actually use the camera that I bring and spend more time talking to people than stamping.
Atomic Beans, I hope your wedding is half the fun as Saturday was!
Saturday, November 3, 2007
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
It's Not a chain letter--or so it says in bold letters on the second page. But it works just like a chain letter. Send $1 to the six perfect strangers on the list, and then copy and mail the letter to 200 innocent, unsuspecting people and Presto! The money will start flowing in from around the globe.
It's Not a pyramid scam. That claim is made on the front page right under the ambiguous proofs by "various, highly-respected U.S. TV and Radio programs...". Oprah being one of them named (really, what hasn't that woman had on her show?). But when you purchase a $45 mailing list on the second page and use it to solicit money and other purchased mailing lists from the same company, well, that smacks of a pyramid to me. And don't forget the postage for all of this. (Hmmm. Maybe it's a conspiracy! Maybe email has hurt the PO more than we know.)
"A Fifteen year old boy could do it!" Of course he can. Fifteen year olds know how to do everything.
So let's actually do some math on this, shall we?
$6.00 sent to strangers
$45.00 to purchase mailing list
$82.00 for the 200 stamps to mail the letters
$6.00 to print 3 pages 200 times (both sides)
I'm being generous with that last one. It would cost me a lot more than that for the ink cartridges for my printer. I suppose you could scam 6oo copies from your boss, if you had one, but the guilt is worth the six bucks, I think. I'm also being generous in assuming that you already have 200 business size envelopes at home.
So far, that looks more like $139, not a six dollar investment.
Realistically, you could drop that by $45 if you went through your own address book and mailed the letter to everyone you know even remotely. But do you really want to risk sending this kind of letter to all of your friends and relatives this close to Christmas?
I think what bothers me the most about this is the declaration at the bottom of every page. "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:3
I've studied the Sermon on the Mount and I'm fairly certain that whoever started this scam is unclear on the concept of being "poor in spirit" as well as what it means to obtain the Kingdom of Heaven.
The company that sells the mailing lists is supposed to be listed with the BBB. Hmph. I wonder...
Saturday, October 27, 2007
But when I burnt the almonds that I was trying to toast the other day--twice, I started thinking. Is it really possible to multitask at all? Can our brains really work that way?
Some multitasking is foolhardy at best. Putting on mascara while driving, for instance. Other examples of multitasking confound me to no end. I am convinced that I never will figure out how to read in the bathtub and enjoy it. There are also tasks that undeniably require a singular focus, like Monday night football. But what about those times when I really think that I am doing more than one thing at a time? If I try to load the dishwasher while J is working on math, it never fails that I will have to stop at least 4 times to go and clarify something for her. Then I'm not doing two things at once, but switching back and forth between them. Or when I can tomatoes while supervising a story writing session, it is inevitable that someone will want to know how to spell "Uzbekistan" or need a pencil sharpened. Then I'm not multitasking, but holding off fulfilling the girl's requests with another "I'll be there in a minute" until I can break away from the tomatoes. While typing this post, I have had to answer the door twice and the phone twice. I'm beginning to understand why it takes so long for me to accomplish anything, and why even when I am doing several things at once, I feel like I'm not doing any of them well.
Now it's your turn. Is multitasking possible? I want examples! And they must be things that can be done simultaneously without any one task suffering because your attention is divided.
I'm going to go try the almonds again.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
And so, having just finished 4 weeks of reading and talking about Ancient Egypt, we hopped in the van and headed for Lake Shore Drive on Tuesday. Tuesday being Discount Day on the Museum Campus, not accounting for parking fees.
And the Field Museum is exactly as I remember it. It has been fifteen years since I last visited and it will be another fifteen before I visit again. It is still full of static exhibits with very little there to interact with. Taxidermy and fake plants behind glass, all carefully labeled, but in no way engaging. No background sound other than echoing footsteps and unnaturally hushed voices. It was like being in a library of the dead. We were done in under three hours.
But what about Sue, you ask? Isn't Sue, the most complete T-rex ever found, at the Field Museum? Why, Yes, she is. And completely unapproachable and uninteresting as almost everything else. The Sue gift store was more dynamic. I can say this because we went to see the traveling exhibit of Sue when it was at SciTech in Aurora. There, it was incredible with lots of hands on activities to draw the kids in. What a disappointment that Sue's permanent home has reduced her to the stereotype of boring archaeology that scientists try so hard to avoid.
The beautiful hallway of butterflies is gone and the Underground Adventure scared the daylights out of my 5 yo. An 8 foot earwig that moves and a giant spider that growls? Those were more terrifying than the real maneating Lion of Tsavo-carefully labeled and behind glass.
Lest you think that this entire post will be negative, let me tell you that we did have a good time in spite of the museum. But the girls and I can create our own fun no matter where we're at. And they did not know how disappointed I was. Where the information was lacking, we filled in the gaps from what we have learned on our own. We took pictures of all of the cat mummies in the building, stuck our tongues out at the funeral masks from Melanesia, and decided to go to the Zoo next to see the animals while they are still breathing. At one point, while we were listening to a tour guide drone on to a poor, captive group of High School students, J asked me, "Why doesn't he just tell them that they are Canopic Jars?" Out of the mouth of babes...."Get on with it already!"
I have not seen Night at the Museum. But if I understand the premise, the displays of the museum come alive and a night guard learns from them. Is that about right?
Not at this museum.
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
The combining has begun and that means that for all impractical purposes, the girls and I are a single Mom and her children for the next several months. We will see Chad 1) when he gets hungry and we take food out to the field, which is not as often as one would think. 2) when the men need help hauling equipment from one field to another-which consists of following along behind at 10 mph with the blinkers on and then driving them back to where they left their pickup trucks. and 3) when he falls in bed long after I have given up the fight with the Sandman. This year the girls may get to see him a bit more if they decide that riding in the combine is fun. M already discovered last year that when you ride in the grain truck to the elevator, you get peanuts.
But it's not all bad. During this time, all the farming widows work to support each other by rallying to watch the soaps and eat bon bons together instead of each one alone.
Let me take this opportunity to bring you up to speed on some of the ins and outs of Farming.
- "Knee-high by the fourth of July" was for your Grandpa's corn. Modern day hybrid corn is usually pushing 5 feet or better by Independence Day.
- You can safely ignore all the fuss about genetically altered crops. They are all genetically altered nowadays. People use the hype as a political platform. Which makes the farmers frown and chew their wheat louder than usual.
- A word about Tinkering. Tinkering is a term that farmers use when referring to the need for fixing something on a tractor. A farmer's wife quickly learns that Tinkering is about 5% driving to get parts, 10% actual fixing and 85% staring at it.
- Time estimation. Farmer's are not very good at estimating time. A farmer's wife quickly learns to muliply a project's ETC (estimated time to completion) by a factor of 4 to get the RTC (realistic time to completion). The crockpot was invented by a farmer's wife.
- Farmers working in the field make slightly less dirty laundry than farmers Tinkering on greasy equipment. But only slightly. A farmer's wife quickly learns to double check a farmer's pockets for peanuts.
- When a farmer's child talks about The Elevator, they are not referring to the hydraulic lift at Macy's.
- The corn that comes out of the field goes through about 217, 691 steps before Kellogg gets a hold of it. You don't want to know what it looks like before that.
- There are about a bazillion moving parts on a Combine. Something always needs Tinkering.
- A Farmer's wife get dirty looks from her husband when she plants Morning Glories.
- Communicating with a farmer can be tricky business. "I reckon" generally means Yes, while "Whatever" has a range of meanings from agreement to a strong disinclination. If you want to get more than three words put together you have to ask about soybeans, "the ol' 33", or weather prospects. Don't try to combine more than one of these topic, however, or you will be seen for the novice that you are.
- Farmers have team loyalties too. Do not say, "That's a nice looking John Deere.", to a man who uses Massey tractors, or vice versa. He might actually spit out his wheat.
I hope this little educational talk has helped. If you know a farmer's wife, do her a favor and take her out to dinner. A crockpot carries on a really sorry conversation and you can only eat so many peanuts.
Monday, October 1, 2007
- The Fly Lady Oof! My head gets woozy just looking at the home page. Carrying a kitchen timer attached to my person is just so wrong. I don't even set a timer when I bake cookies.
- Uber nutritionist Gillian McKeith, I shudder to think of this woman shuddering in my kitchen.
- Stephen R. Covey, Franklin Covey, and anything else related to being Highly Effective. I find it rather suspect that they never say effective at What.
- Motivators--the name says it all. I personally prefer Despair, Inc. I can waste an entire afternoon laughing at their website alone.
- Side-Tracked Home Executives- There is a good reason why I'm sidetracked. Side tracks are infinately more interesting than the beaten trail. Robert Frost thought so too.
Well, that's a start at least. I'm sure I should probably add Martha Stewart to my list too. She is definately not slacker material (well, except for that whole slacking on the taxes bit), but I can't quite bring myself to find her website. The sight of all of those triple folded towels and milk glass compotes would probably be too much for me.
Sunday, September 30, 2007
I've decided that I really like boulders. They make good landmarks, and they're not going anywhere. They are impervious to lightning, termites and floating away in floods. Unlike dead trees. Some of my dead tree boxes will probably get moved as I get the chance. Two of the boxes that we did today were in a park developed on top of an old gravel strip mine. I'm going to have to carve more boxes just for that park just to make use of all the beautiful boulders there. Lovely.
Friday, September 28, 2007
Last weekend, I had the priviledge of meeting up with Questar and hunting some letterboxes with her. It was the perfect day filled with beautiful weather, great company and wonderful boxes. While stamping in a train themed box, a freight train went rumbling by less than 30 feet away, shaking the ground as it went. During our search for a box that mentions fire trucks in the clue, we saw and heard the engines come roaring out of the station. And a box dedicated to the victory of the soldiers and sailors during the war found us winning our own minor victory in sneaking past the construction workers and men painting doors to retrieve and replace the letterbox.
While the planters of those letterboxes could not guarantee that those additional elements would be in place every time someone came hunting, they did do a bang up job of placing them in way that could only add to the experience for their finders.
That is the inspiration that I hope is behind how and where I plant my boxes. I'm pretty sure that someone hunting for "The Tyger" isn't going to want to come across a real tiger in the woods. But hunting a tiger in reality would be a bit of a challenge, so did I create that with my clues and hiding spot? Am I taking them places that they would willingly go if there wasn't a letterbox involved? Am I helping them to see things that are interesting or beautiful or have some redeeming value outside of adding to their "F count"?
I'm sure I have not succeeded in this with every letterbox planted. But with every box found, fantastic or otherwise, I am adding to a mental list of "best practices" for planting. And that is the way it should be.
On a different note, the kittens and I decided to create our own "Fall Fesitval" yesterday to celebrate the beginning of harvest. (As I type, our combine is undergoing it's last tweaking before heading into the field. That means I am officially a farming widow once again. More on that topic later.) We took Little Bunny Foo Foo and PiWi Reese to the pumpkin patch for some gourds and other fun stuff. The girls picked out white pumpkins and drank fresh apple cider. I, on the other hand, swallowed a bug of unknown species and spent most of the time coughing.
We also made pumpkin stew for supper, baked apple, pumpkin and bat shaped sugar cookies, painted dried gourds, and made caramel dip for whatever we decided needed dipping. The chocolate frosted sugar cookies were especially yummy dipped in the caramel and more than made up for the accidental protein earlier.
What is your favorite benchmark, activity or otherwise Fall related, um, stuff?
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Before you hibernate, you're supposed to eat yourself stupid. I could deal with that too.
When you're a girl bear, you birth your children (who are the size of walnuts) while you're sleeping and wake to partially grown, cute, cuddly cubs. I could definately deal with that.
If you're a mama bear, everyone knows you mean business. You swat anyone who bothers your cubs. If your cubs get out of line, you swat them too. I could deal with that.
If you're a bear, your mate Expects you to wake up growling. He Expects that you will have hairy legs and excess body fat.
Yup. Gonna be a bear!
Author unknown, but thanks Aunt Cheryl!
Blogger's note: It would be downright goofy of you to think I was actually serious about any of this, but especially the whole reincarnation bit and the swatting the cubs bit.
On one of those days when housework was Oh So Not Appealing, and we couldn't quite make ourselves knuckle down to the schoolwork, the kittens and I decided to spice up Teasel's priority mail box. The following pictures are the end result of our efforts. Teasel was pleased. The kittens both giggled uncontrollably. And best of all, the laundry remained status quo. Bear in mind that I was taking photos down inside a box, which accounts for the distortion.
The first room is the Kitchen, or according to Teasel, the most important room in the house. The picture on the side of the fridge is artwork by his niece, and the phone number is his favorite carry-out place, Slugs R Us. The other picture was procured through Ancestry.com and is believed to be a long-lost Uncle. More research is needed to confirm the fact though. He also keeps a running grocery list. The curtains on the window were made and sent to him by his Mum. The plants are a blue Cranesbill which he took from cuttings in my garden. The stereo is a garage sale find (which explains it's size) and helps him to pass the time when he is not boxing. He particularly likes the Fresh Aire CDs from Mannheim Steamroller.
Next in line is the Living Room, where he can enjoy reruns of his favorite show on the Discovery Channel: Porcupines, Extreme Defenders. It is also where he keeps his pet tetra, Argon, and a few mementoes of his travels. The poster is a reminder that his American citizenship is getting closer all the time! The bureau is another garage sale find and holds his collection of rose petals and other more mundane household items. The plant is a banded arrowroot, or prayer plant, that folds up its leaves in the darkness.
As we move into the Office we can see the computer where Teasel spends lots of time reading clues and following the threads on the message boards. The pictures are of his family. Mom and Dad are in the green and blue frames, and his brother, Spoke, is in the yellow frame. His backpack is all ready to go and he has a flashlight handy for those midnight trips to the fridge. The plant is a division of the Mother-in-Law's Tongue that everyone in my family now has at least one piece of. The art print, of course, reminds him of his childhood home in England.
The last room is the Den, complete with overstuffed chair (leather simply isn't practical for a hedgehog), reading lamp and his favorite books. The list of books includes: Watership Down (c'mon, don't tell me you don't know about Yona!), Hedgie, O Slug-a-Moon and Other Songs, and The Quill, a quarterly hedgehog newsletter. The framed collage on the wall is from Beatrix Potter's lovely story about Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle, one of Teasel's spinster Aunts on his father's side of the family.
Agreeably, the floor is not very exciting, but it does still tell us a little bit about him. The green rug is a souvenir from his trip to Macchu Pichu in Peru, while the blue striped monstrosity is yet another garage sale find that I cannot prevail upon him to get rid of for all the bulk Salami at Sam’s Club. But for all of his stubbornness, he is good at keeping in touch, as the letters on the floor will tell. He uses his laptop while in transit, when he does not have access to electricity (all of his other appliances run on solar battery packs, except the refrigerator, which is kerosene). The newspaper is actually a back issue of The Herbal Companion, which he stocks up on and saves for trips as a special treat.
We hope that you have enjoyed this little tour of Teasel's pad. The author fully acknowledges that this post is in complete rebellion against the fact that I am stuck in the house on a quintessentially beautiful day cleaning my desk (well, that's the premise at least) when I'd rather be out in the woods looking for letterboxes, fuzzy caterpillars, tree fungus or anything else even remotely more interesting than piles of empty CD cases (in our house, that has taken the place of socks without matches), old catalogues and "Oh, Look. Another medical bill that was supposed to be paid weeks ago."
Friday, September 14, 2007
Sorry I haven't written sooner but it's a lot of work to hide from the giant Peanut Girl. When I first got here we went letterboxing most of the weekend. I have found a whole bunch of letterboxes in the wild and in PLB's too. There are some other buddies here for me to play with and plenty of stamping to do. (Please see the pics attached) Today we played hide and seek in the pile of PLB's from the weekend mail. It was fun until giant Peanut Girl tried to hide too. Did you see the pic of my logbook? I can't believe how many pages I've filled. I'm having a great time and I can't wait to show you all my adventures. I hope you guys are well and I miss you a lot.
I am so glad that you are having a good time and have lots to keep you busy. Don't worry about Peanut Girl too much. She probably just wants to love on you a little and that can't be as bad as what the cats here at home try to do to you! You know how to defend yourself from predators of all shapes and sizes, but try to be a gentleman whenever possible.
Your logbook looks fantastic. Now aren't you glad we stayed up so late adding all of those extra pages? I can't wait for you to come home and tell me all about your adventures.
Did you manage to paw off the cootie you took with you? The girls and I were discussing it and they were wondering, would a cootie passed off by a boxing buddy be called a "bootie" or a "cuddle"?
I plan to post pictures of your den in the next day or so. That way, everyone can see your sweet home away from home.
Be good and try not to eat up all of Happy Gemini's grocery budget. We'll talk to you soon!
Love and prickles,
Nitrocat and Kittens
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
Friday, August 31, 2007
By Stacy Christian-2006
You have already answered many requests
From the gigantic to the mundane.
Well, I've got another big favor to ask.
So here I am praying, Lord...again.
There's a pile of laundry I don't want to fold
Waiting for me on the couch downstairs.
Baskets of undershirts and pants and towels;
Bed sheets and crew socks-all needing their pairs.
If you could see fit to take us to Heaven-
The sooner, the better. We won't mind!
We would much rather be with You anyway,
And I could leave the laundry behind!
That being said, I found myself fleeing for my life while mowing our yard yesterday. There was a mutant dragonfly, which I initially mistook for a bird, that seemed extremely angry about something. It started chasing me and smacking into my head as I rounded one corner. On the next pass around, it hovered in front of the mower, looked me square in the eye, and by some extra sensory means, I could hear it lick it's lips. I decided to leave off mowing and find something in the house that needed urgent attention, like laundry. I could fix the swerving path in the grass later.
After some astute thinking, I have decided that the dragonfly must have eaten part of the mutant mushrooms in the yard. That would explain it monstrous size and ferocious nature. Now all I have to do is electrify some railroad tracks or design a gun that harnesses all of the sun's energy in order to destroy it. Well, at least that works in the Godzilla movies. In this case, a tennis racket might suffice.
This will be the last of our mutant mushroom pictures. I hope. I mowed them yesterday. It was very gratifying to see the ragged chunks spread all over the grass shrivelling in the sun. Unless the ominous black cloud that exploded from one of them when I ran over it means anything...
Sunday, August 26, 2007
So when some of the shrooms tripled in size overnight, the finding of information became a more pressing concern. Would the dog turn purple and swell up like a balloon if he sniffed one? Would the girls shrink and carry on conversations with caterpillars if they licked one? Then I found these lovely people over on the forum at http://www.mushroomexpert.com/ and quick as a wink they had several of my monsters identified. The whoppers above and the small, cottage cheese-like ones in the last post are both types of puffballs, and are edible. Cream of mushroom soup anyone? Me neither. But it is good to know that I don't have to worry about them. The others look like the common ones that you see growing in mulch and they are already drying up.
The internet may have it's draw-backs, but I love how quickly you can find the information that you need on any given topic from British pipe fittings to the micrathena gracilis. Now you know you won't be able to sleep until you look that one up!
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Here are some of the culprits:
I don't know what any of them are, but they all had one thing in common: They all get chopped up nicely and come flinging out of the mower just like the grass!
Here are a couple of other things I found today while mowing:
This baby bunny isn't much bigger than a field mouse and doesn't even have it's eyes open yet. The rest of his story is sickening and quite pathetic so if you want you can skip down to the tennis ball.
The bunny is currently in a shoe box resting. I had seen him from the mower and avoided his patch, but when I checked it out later, he was sitting at the top of his nesting hole--on top of several dead siblings who had drowned in the rain. He stunk something hideous, but has had a gentle rinse and now only smells slightly like fish. I won't say what he smelled like before. I have a friend who is a forest ranger and wildlife rescue-er (??) that I hope can help.
About 16 Eastern Tailed Blues were "puddling" on one of Kirby's tennis balls. The whole time I was mowing, there was a thick cloud of these and other butterflies around me. It was too cool.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
So after several sleepless nights~one which included vast amounts of derogatory calories~I found myself yesterday hankerin' for something not quite Chicken Cordon Bleu; which I have never made anyway. So after J's EEG, a foraging trip to Jewel, and a make-it-up-as-you-go sort of plan, this was our supper last night (and I might add, it wasn't too bad!):
4 fat boneless, skinless chicken breasts halves
8 thick slices deli ham
6-ish ounces good Swiss cheese, sliced
2 bunches fresh asparagus, trimmed
1 can cream of celery soup
1/2 cup white wine (give or take)
1 1/2 T. mayo/mustard stuff (Okay, I went and looked. It is officially "Durkee's Famous Sandwich and Salad Spread-a tangy mustard and mayonnaise dressing"-happy?)
1/2 T. dried Tarragon
What I did...
Since I didn't feel like waiting for the whole thing to cook in the oven, I grilled the chicken on the Foreman and blanched the asparagus. Then I layered the chicken, ham, asparagus, sauce(the soup, wine, mayo/mustard stuff and tarragon) and cheese in a 3 qt. casserole dish and baked it at 450, covered for 15 minutes and uncovered for 15 minutes.
What I'll do next time(which indicates that it was good enough to try again)...
Put one cup of uncooked wild rice in the bottom of the casserole, than add the chicken (uncooked this time) and everything else (except the cheese) in the same order. Bake at 350, uncovered until chicken and rice are done. Add the cheese and bake until golden and bubbly.
I should add that while DH did like it, he also said that this was probably the first time in culinary history that Chicken Cordon Bleu had ever been made as a Hotdish. I took it as a compliment, mostly because I was too tired to decide if it was an insult or not. If you don't know what Hotdish is, then you have never spent any time in Minnesota.
This only relates to the laundry in that my laundry still remains unfolded because my family got a home cooked meal instead.
Maybe if you're good, tomorrow I'll post my poem about the laundry. Wait...don't all leave at once!
Friday, August 17, 2007
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Now I'm going to have to share.
On a more letterboxing note: we have begun the creation of our very first boxing buddy. His stamp and logbook with be finished tonight and his photo shoot should be complete tomorrow. I will post an introducion and he should be ready to travel on Monday!
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Boxes for Most of Us should include:
- Relatively safe locations free of eye-poking sticks and lurking law enforcement with nothing better to do than press the finer points of the law. (that last could be difficult considering we live in one of those places that prints every public service call in the weekly paper-and it still takes less than a page)
- A story line or twist to the hunt that gets the adrenaline pumping just a bit.
- A cool overlook or view of stars (sorry, no mountains or sandy beaches worth talking about in northern Illinois)
- Preferably no homeless people jumping out at you (I suppose that could cross the line from adrenaline to change-of-underwear in a quick hurry.)
Boxes for Kirbert should include:
- The need for typhoid and yellow fever shots
- Carrying a machete
- A rabid rhinoceros; or at the very least, several vampire bats
- A moving target
One last question...or two:
How far would you be willing to drive to find a Nighttime Letterbox? And, would it make a difference if there were several fairly close together, perhaps even in the same park/cemetery?
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Saturday, August 4, 2007
Or we can steal it.
My time has not been my own for an eternity it seems. Responsibilities at home with husband, children and homeschool, plus commitments at church and elsewhere have stretched me thin (but you already know the only thing I begrudge is the laundry). So when the slightest break in the schedule appeared, I took July and ran. It was a daring escape. With the help of the buddies we are hosting and a few "live" friends, I squandered the entire month away. I caught up on my logbook and read hundreds of backlogged messages. But mostly we dedicated the time we had to hunting letterboxes, and we were quite successful. 50 boxes were found and I passed my goal of 100. With that milestone reached, now I want to focus on the stack of 25 boxes that need planting. 25! Many of them are ready to go. Some of them need logbook alterations before planting. Some of them need Lock n Locks. And a few still have to make it home from postal rings. And I have no delusions about getting them all done in a month.
Because now August is here and I must once again spend my allotted time in a responsible, adult manner. But time can be bought even if the exchange rate is high. So maybe if I shave a little off here and there, continue ignoring the laundry and give up sleep altogther, I can save enough for a mad letterboxing weekend now and then. And like my finances, if I'm careful, I may be surprised at just how much I have left over.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
And that is where I left it, knowing full well that I could rest comfortably in the safety of Hubby's ridiculously long To-Do list.
But he tricked me. During his time off over the last few days, I have watched in morbid fascination as not one, but four perfectly positioned 50 foot long clotheslines have been erected across the backyard, per my previous request. And before I knew it, I was being domestic and hanging clean clothes in the sunshine to absorb all the wholesome country breeze. And as I carried a basket back into the house, Hubby commented, "Hey, they're already folded too!" I stood there with my jaw hanging as I realized he was right. Unknowingly, I had folded the clothes as I took them off the line.
My reputation may never recover.
- To those in Connecticut-I am so sorry for your loss. The product of your creativity, effort and giving spirit was appreciated by many. You freely gave so that others might enjoy and that effort was trampled on by a handful. Please don't give up. Take a season to protect and rebuild, but come back stonger than ever. Let us know how the rest of us can help.
- To those responsible-I am sorry that your life is so empty that doing something malicious and destructive is the only way you can enjoy yourself. Get help.
- To everyone else, like me, who is watching helplessly-Start carving! Stock up on Lock n Locks! Create logbooks! Let's not only fill our own corner of the world with lots of clever letterboxes, but let's also send some to Connecticut!
Monday, July 23, 2007
One year ago, we found our first letterbox and we were hopelessly and completely transfixed by this grand and glorious passion. We came, we carved, we searched. We spent way too much time on the computer and way too much money at the post office. We saw places that we never knew existed and met extremely interesting people. We ticked a few people off and hopefully encouraged many more. It was a good year.
This past weekend was a condensed version of our year. We found boxes and searched for boxes that were missing. We walked what seemed like an eternity and have the blisters to prove it. We found thorns and the bugs found us. We spent a wonderful time together away from all of the things that constantly demand our attention (like the laundry). We saw amazing things in God's Creation. We communicated with friends and received a couple of very special PLBs in the mail. We deciphered clues and studied maps. We read the message boards, sometimes laughing, sometimes not. We looked through our journal and shared favorite memories.
If there is one thing that we have learned this past year, it is that all of the negative things about this hobby cannot take away from the wonderful things that we gain. The disappointment of failing to find a box is softened by the excitement of being in a fabulous park. An incredible stamp image is more than worth the risk of poison ivy, ticks and mosquitoes. Coming face to face with breathtaking wildlife makes up for having to search in a pestifilent slough earlier in the day. And paying the bill at the post office seems trivial when a package arrives from someone who works magic with a Speedball.
We haven't learned everything there is to know about letterboxing. But we do know more than when we first started. And we know we are not going to stop here!
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
I pulled out the whistle and eventually brought the chaos to a halt. We decided that since they were all over the place anyway, we might as well have our own cootie event right then and there. With a little organization and cooperation, all the buddies were able to stamp about seventeen cooties a piece. I threw in an event stamp to finish things off and scooted the buddies upstairs for a nap so that I could clean up the mess.
I'm not sure what I'll do if it rains again tomorrow. I'm fresh out of ideas!
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Last Friday on the trail we ended up with six logbooks between us, and the stamping got to be really insane! And did I mention we had the crazy puppy with us too? We ended up paring it down to just the nephews' two logbooks and all the sig stamps. We stamped everyone into the letterboxes and then scanned and pasted the images into all of the rest of the logbooks after we got home. That worked. At least with that many buddies, each of the kids had someone to pair up with. It kept them engaged in the letterboxing and focused on what we were doing instead of getting bored 100 feet from the car. Which is a beautiful thing.
The rain this morning kept us all in, which meant alot of cootie mischief going on. I'm not sure what I'll do with all of them if it rains again tomorrow. Two kids, two cats, a puppy, a poodle, a bat and a moose can be a bit much! ;)
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
But then the Boxing Buddies arrived. Tweeter the bat for the 8yo who loves bats and wants to be a vet, Pinky Poo the poodle for the 5yo pink princess supreme, and Frankie the Moose for Mom just because. And last night when I suggested we take the buddies letterboxing today, there was no hesitation or murmurings. And when we came upon that monster slippery hill this morning, there was no griping or tears. And when the mosquitoes tried to stamp their signatures on us, there was no whimpering.
And we had a blast, found 5 out of 5 letterboxes, and discovered a little hot dog stand with the best Pina Colada shakes I've ever had.
I still can't believe how well it went. When I think about that hill, I realize that it wasn't the only hurdle that was crossed successfully today. I am immensely proud of my girls! They are the best letterboxing buddies I could ever have. Where are we going tomorrow?
Letterboxes: 33 Laundry: 1
Saturday, July 7, 2007
But it was worth it. Here is a list of some of the things we saw:
Little Blue Heron
Indigo Bunting (lots of blue today!)
White Tailed Deer
At least six different kinds of "dragonfly"
Lost count on the butterflies
Wild Monarda, Black-eyed Susan, Joe Pye Weed, and Spiderwort
The disadvantage to being on the trails so early is that you get to clear all the spiderwebs for everyone else. We found four out of five boxes and were back home by 9:15. I took some pictures and they will probably be on Frankie's blog later. http://frankiethemoose.blogspot.com
Letterboxes: 25 Laundry: 1
Friday, July 6, 2007
In the last year, I have planted a number of letterboxes covering a wide range of "types". There are drive-by, indoor, longer hike, kid friendly, straightforward walk-you-to-the box clues, and clues that are a bit more of a challenge. I have yet to plant a box designed for night time hunting, but that is coming. Basically, I have something for almost everyone.
But I also have a dilemma. At what point (if at all) do you give people help to send them in the right direction to find a box? It does not bother me if everyone does not find each of my boxes on the first try. A couple of them are actually designed to be...Hard. *Gasp* It isn't supposed to be easy to hunt a Tiger in the jungle or rescue a Princess from a dragon or spot the elusive Mermaid, is it?
So, after careful consideration, here is a compilation of possible scenerios and my likely response to them (any similarity to actual occurances is purely circumstantial evidence no matter how familiar or likely it sounds):
- Contact: “Your letterbox is lost because the building it was in moved.”
Response: Stupified stare complete with chin drop and stunned silence. Extreme urge to respond sarcastically about their future in letterboxing.
- Contact: “Which fork in the trail were we supposed to take again?”
Response: No response whatsoever. Identifying trails when you aren’t even there is much worse than trying to identify which fallen tree a clue is guiding you to.
- Contact: “I was in the woods and saw the bridge in your clue about a quarter of a mile ahead on the right. Didn’t find the box though.”
Resonse: A raising of the eyebrow (because the clue does state that the bridge should be to their right), but only a vague email in response suggesting that they follow the clue more closely.
- Contact: “Looked for your box today, but the plant overgrowth made it difficult to follow the clue. Will try again.”
Resonse: A sheepish grin and self-kick in the pants for writing a clue that couldn’t be followed in all seasons. Plans to remedy that problem ASAP.
- Contact:“Your clue states that the letterbox is in Such n Such park, but we can’t find an address for that park. Can you tell us where it is?”
Response: Palm smack to the forehead for stupideocity. Just because it was called that when you were a child and everyone around home knows what you’re talking about even though the park has been through three name changes since then doesn’t mean a non-local would. Email the corrected information with apology and change the clue.
- Contact: “We found your box even though the sign mentioned in the clue was vandalized and found lying in the parking lot.”
Resonse: A congrats email sent thanking for the update and an immediate rewrite of the clue.
- Contact: “We turned over every leaf and stick in the forest and found pieces of the container and stamp embedded in Racoon poo. Sorry, we couldn’t find any of the logbook to stamp into.”
Response: Another chin drop and stunned silence followed by the immediate mailing of a full color copy of the original stamp image, a handmade logbook as a thank you…and a box of disinfectant wipes.
How do the rest of you decide who to ignore and who genuinely could use a nudge in the right direction?
Thursday, July 5, 2007
On the down side, the vacuuming and laundry screamed loud enough this morning to wake me up. I had no choice but to attend to them. You can't win them all!
Letterboxes :22 Laundry :1
Tuesday, July 3, 2007
- Never Assume. Anything.
- Following clues is all about perspective. One person's large field is another person's wide spot in the grass.
- There is hope for the puppy. After today, he deserves his own stamp.
- The AQ patches are even cooler than they look on the web. Thanks, PD!
- The Cottontails are seriously awesome letterboxers! I hope I get to meet them someday. Happy Anniversary, Cottontails!
- There are lots of skinny trees, fallen trees, giants trees, and tree stumps on this planet.
- Cooties happen.
Thanks for a fantastic day off, ladies!
Letterboxes: 21 Laundry: 0
Saturday, June 30, 2007
The spot I had in mind to replant the Favoritten wasn't so hot, so I'm still looking. It will be hard to choose another spot since the stamp was almost sight specific. Too bad people have to be juvenile and vandalize in graveyards. I know it wasn't letterboxers that did it, but the caretaker doesn't, which is why he requested I remove it.
The Lake Mermaid box was a little trickier and I may reconsider and find a different spot later. For now, I'll just wait and see.
The puppy that I bought to be my letterboxing buddy just isn't shaping up like I had hoped. He puked in the car this morning and doesn't like to get his feet wet. I, on the other hand, don't consider it a successful letterboxing outing until I am wet half way to my knees and caked with mud.
But we got 2 out of 3 planted and we've both since had baths, so I guess it was an alright day after all!
Letterboxes: 2 Laundry: 0
Friday, June 29, 2007
Only it didn't work. I sat with what looked like printer's ink on my hair for a full 15 minutes, but when I rinsed it out, nothing. No change at all!
I won't bore you with the details of how, but by the time I went this morning, my hair did look and feel like I had dunked my head in a bucket of Tempera paint. And the kids loved it. And the dog growled at me. And it washed out on the first try, which means my DH is happy.
And now VBS is done until next year. I am going to take a nap now. But in the morning, I have several letterboxes that I want to plant, a letterboxing buddy to create, postals to mail, plus a whole myriad of other things that I want to catch up on. Not one of which is laundry.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
So here follows an account of the many things--but heavily leaning toward letterboxing--that fill my time when I am avoiding folding the laundry; a skill which I am proud to say that I have achieved no small mastery at.