Friday, July 30, 2010

Toes in the Water, Ass in the Tube

Every year for the past, oh, maybe 10 years or so, a group of my friends head down to the Current River for the weekend. Nestled deep in the wilds of Missouri, we camp out, tube, canoe and relax. It really is one of my favorite times of the year. And that time is quickly approaching; we head down next weekend and I can't wait!

I love having nothing pressing to do for the entire weekend. I look forward to being able to sit around a campfire or float down the beautiful river having conversations with some of my best friends. Friends that have stood the test of time and continue to be there for each other. I really find it quite amazing that after all of these years we continue to be such a large, tight-knit group.  Numbers have fluctuated from 20-some to 50-some, and back down to around 34, but the same core group is still there, floatin along.

The cold beverages we share don't hurt the weekend either. 

Do you have a tradition with your friends that you hold close to your heart?  Please share!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

I was messing around with the settings on my camera and snapped this picture of one of the flowers in front of our house.  I think it's pretty, even though I have no idea what it's called.  Any flower people out there that can clue me in?  

The very next day the flowers were gone.  Hank ate them, ALL of them.  Go figure.    

For more Wordless Wednesdays, click here.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Spicy Southwest Pretzels

I've been addicted to this snack the last few weeks.  In fact, I am polishing off the last of the third batch as I type this.  Luckily, I have another bag of pretzels at home patiently waiting for me to doctor them up and then devour them.  What snack foods are you addicted to right now?

What You'll Need:
  • ¾ c. canola oil
  • 1 ½ t. lemon pepper
  • ½- 1 t. cayenne pepper (to taste)
  • 1 ½ t. garlic powder or salt
  • few dashes Chipotle Tabasco sauce
  • 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
  • 1 packet of ranch dressing dry seasoning mix
  • 1 pound bag of pretzels

What You Do:

Mix all ingredients except the pretzels together into a gallon Ziploc baggie. Squish together to mix well.

Pour in a one-pound bag of pretzels. Close baggie and shake until seasoning and oil is over all pretzels.

Let pretzels marinate for at least 2 hours before serving.  The pretzels will soak up the marinade.

Monday, July 26, 2010

It Ain't Easy

I read an article today on the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance website (featured below) on how you can go about getting youth involved in shooting sports as well as the outdoors.  I agree with everything Mr. Rollins says, but unfortunately it isn't as easy as sitting a kid in front of the tv and having them be endlessly entertained.  And if they do get bored with it, then they turn to an array of other electronic devices: iPod, iPhone, Xbox, Wii, NintendoDS, the list goes on and on. 

When I was a kid, we were forced to play outside.  Unless we wanted to sit in a chair and not make a peep all day long.  Even if our parents wouldn't have forced us outside, I'm sure that's where we would've ended up anyway.  There was always something fun to do outside, summer or winter.  We ran around, went sledding, built forts out of hay or snow, rode bikes, played games (and I mean the kind of games were you have to run and capture a flag, or catch a ball, not the kind you sit down with a controller in one hand and a twinkie in the other), even fired endless rounds from a BB gun.  We had FUN.  And even got some exercise along the way.  Sure, we had the original Nintendo console, and we loved to play on it. But that usually came after we were worn out from a full day of running around outside and doing chores.

I look back and fondly remember those days.  I want my child to have these same memories. 

One gun range in our area has an NRA Youth Camp every year.  This year it is August 5-8th.  If you'd like to sign your child up, go to Darnall's Gun Works and Ranges.  Once Monkey is old enough, she will be there!

It Ain’t Easy!

By Gary Rollins

How do we most effectively go about introducing a young person – boy or girl – to the indescribable wonders of the great outdoors?
It ain’t easy.

These days, we are competing with the omnipresent TV screen offering up who knows what kind of programming to capture and hold hostage the imagination of young people everywhere. And if the programming is just slightly south of “interesting” or even boring, kids can grab the video game controller and shoot the daylights out of hypersonic spacecraft or even ducks. How can we break through? How can we even begin to forge even the smallest beginning of a legitimate interest in what’s going on in the great outdoors?

It’s truly a challenge. It ain’t easy.

But, once you’ve hooked a youngster on the magic they can experience for themselves – up close and personal – it’s easier to take the next evolutionary step.

I wish I could tell you I have far more answers than you have questions, but what I can tell you is this: involving young people in outdoor activities we have all come to appreciate and enjoy is a noble mission.

Allow me to share one of the basic selling tools that might just turn the trick if and when you have the chance to preach the gospel of the great outdoors to a youngster.

The premise is, you usually close on a sale after you’ve overcome three objections. Typically, a “prospect” needs to identify just what it is that is standing in the way of taking that first step.

Let’s say a kid is mildly interested, but maybe he is shy. Tell him he can bring a pal along for the experience.

Next, let’s say the idea of getting out into the field early is not that appealing to a fellow who loves to sleep late. Try going out early in the afternoon when there will still be lots to see and do.

Finally, maybe the kid has a single-parent mom who is wary of outdoor activities. What a great chance to meet with her personally and – if she is up for it – invite her to come along and see for herself.

Okay. That’s an overly simplified example, but I think you can get my drift. Be sure to take a camera along to record whatever it is that happens when you can successfully draft a convert into our own deep-seated appreciation for Mother Nature and all she has to offer.

The closer you look, the more there is to see and be seen.

Who knows? That “first time experience” might end up being an event that is treasured forever.

Hopefully, you’ll be successful and have an opportunity to recruit a young person who will embrace the same beliefs we all endorse and want to share it with others.

It’s certainly worth the time and effort.

But, as I said at the beginning, it ain’t easy.

Gary is a U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance Local Field Director residing in La Veta, Colorado and an outdoors editor for the Huerfano World Journal.

Gary has an extensive background in public relations work and advertising including thirteen years with a major advertising agency managing and developing with major clients, including Exxon, Gillette, Texas Tourist Development Agency and Pacific Northwest Bell. Duties included functioning as speechwriter for Governor John Connally (Texas Tourism), Governor Nelson Rockefeller (Presidential and New York Gubernatorial Campaigns).

If interested in joining Gary and others in helping the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance as a Local Field Director, please contact Frank Price in our national headquarters at 614-888-4868.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Answers and Winner(s)!

It's Friday! Woo hoo!!

Because today is Friday and I'm feeling especially generous, I'm not only going to give one person a little something special for participating in my measling attempt at Word Games puzzles, I'm going to award TWO people for playing along with me.

It could also have to do with the fact that ONLY two people tried.  But no, I'm going with the reason as me being a great, loving and generous person. And those two people tried darnit, so they will be rewarded!

So congratulations Bonnie and Joe, you've both won an all inclusive trip for two to Jamaica! Oh wait, for a second there I thought I was Bob Barker on the Price is Right. Sorry about that.

You both win awesome, amazing coffee travel mugs! Just doesn't quite have the same ring to it, does it? Maybe next time. (Send an email to to claim your prize.)

And without further ado, here are the answers:

Neon Lights


Space Invaders


Win with Ease


Forgive and Forget


Unfinished Symphony


Try to Understand


In Between Jobs

On Cloud Nine


Connecting Flights


A Walk in the Park


Red Herring


Top Secret

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Thursday Giveaway

I think it's probably fairly obvious to you all that I love to cook.  It brings me joy.  You know what else brings me joy?  Fabulous kitchen utensils and appliances.  They really make me happy.

I want to share the joy with you today by pointing you in the direction of a FANTASTIC giveaway.  The Pioneer Woman is giving away 3 beautiful, candy apple red Anniversary Edition Kitchen Aid mixers!

Please, if you win, don't come back and gloat to me.  I don't have a mixer and I want one. 

Also don't forget to enter my Word Game giveaway, winner will be chosen tomorrow.  I'm guessing the odds on my blog are a wee bit better than on Ree's, of course I don't have a mixer on the line either!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Making Hay While the Sun Shines

I've never met Doug Tomlinson.  But I want to.  I want to sit out in a hay field on the tailgate of a pickup, or on a hay rack and have a conversation with him.  Actually, I just want to listen.  I want to hear all the stories he has to offer from his many years of farming and life.  I would bet that he has A LOT of great stories to share.

95-Year Old Kelso Farmer Still Making Hay

Doug Tomlinson's family teases him that he spends so much time on his tractor, they're going to bury him with it.

"He's always on it, always doing something with it, whether it's moving something or even if it's just going to get the mail," said granddaughter Lisa Barber, 30.

Tomlinson, 95, was putting his 1949 Massey-Ferguson to good use Tuesday afternoon as he baled hay on Pleasant Hill Road north of Kelso for a good friend, Mike Patterson. In a little more than three hours, he and his baler had cleared about five acres of the sun-dried hay.

"I did 497 bales today at Mike's, then I baled 91 at another farm before I got home," Tomlinson said Tuesday evening. "Sunday I baled 700."

"When you get him haying, it's all business," Barber said.

Tomlinson, who has lived on Pleasant Hill Road for more than five decades, said he's been baling hay "ever since the 1940s." In addition to putting up his own hay, he's done "a lot of custom work," he said. In earlier years, he used a team of horses. He also helped build the Kelso dike with his Percheron workhorses, he said.

Tomlinson was born in St. Paul, Minn., in 1915. His family moved here in 1929, spent a brief time in British Columbia, then returned to the Longview area in 1932.

"My dad and uncle built a garage where the Woodshed Restaurant (now the Regent) is, and we stored cars for the loggers when they took the train to camps," he said.

He was a charter member of Carpenters/Millwrights Local Union No. 1707 in 1933 and helped build the Methodist church in Kelso and worked on several housing projects.

"I built all the fences around Hanford (in Eastern Washington) and all the lookout towers" in 1942-43, he said. "I had 11 construction crews working for me."

He also worked in the shipyards constructing kitchens on aircraft carriers. His last job before he retired at 62 was maintenance supervisor at a now-defunct chemical plant in Deer Island.

In his later years, he raised prize-winning Arabian horses.

"I've done just about everything in the book," he said.

In addition to all those full-time jobs, "he farmed the whole time," his daughter Alessa Beringer said, including growing cucumbers for Nalley's.

Beringer, who also lives on Pleasant Hill Road, recalled when she was a young girl and her father was working in the field.

"He would be baling hay, and it would be threatening to rain, so he knew he had to get the hay in," said Beringer, 59. "The tractor was broke down, and he was underneath it trying get it running. I came out with my doll bed and asked him if he could fix it, and he stopped right away to do it. At the time, I didn't realize (hay and farming) was how he paid for the farm."

To this day, Tomlinson gets antsy to make hay while the sun shines, she said.

"He likes to wait until the afternoon, so there's no moisture in the hay," Beringer said. "Back a few weeks ago when we had those 90-degree days, I told him he shouldn't be out in the heat of the day. He said, No, I've got to get that hay in.' So, he went out and did 400 bales."

Her father still grows a big garden every year and putters in his large shop making birdhouses and whirligigs, Beringer said.

"He's never idle," she said. "He gets up every day and he has a purpose."

Tomlinson said Tuesday's work was the last job of the season, but he's already thinking of tractor time in the hay fields next summer.

"The good Lord has been good to me. I enjoy that kind of work, it keeps me going," he said. "I'm looking forward to next year's baling."

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Toon Tuesday

This toon came from the Tampa Tribune, by Wayne Stayskal.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Hint Hint

Hmmm... either my readers aren't as into word games as I am, or I just don't have any readers.  Or the third possibility is that I made them too hard?  Let me walk you through one and maybe that will help....

There is a space in between Va and Ders...
Space in Va Ders...
Space Invaders, of course! 

Does that help?  Come on faithful readers, give it a shot.  There's a great travel coffee mug on the line here!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Word Games

Times up!  For the answers and winner click here.

Remember those brainteaser games from grade school?  You know, the ones where the words were all goofy or jumbled up and you had to figure out the phrase?  I loved those.

Since today is Friday and it's hotter than Hades outside what better way to escape the heat than to sit in your air conditioning and participate in a little word game giveaway!  I'd recommend eating a freeze pop while doing so, just to get the full effect of being a kid again. 

It's easy, just take a stab at what each of these puzzles mean.  I'll be rewarding one person that answers them all correctly with a handy dandy prize!



Good luck and happy solving!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

The photographer at Scott & Annie's wedding was amazing.  This is one of the photos she snapped at the reception of Monkey and I.  I love it!   

To see more of her work go to All About You Photography

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Grilled Stuffed Roasted Red Peppers

I made these little pockets of love for the first time the other day and I thought I was going to die.  Or be constipated after eating so many of them.  I couldn't keep my grubby hands away from them!  Lucky for me, neither of those things happened. 

What did happen though was that I forced my little sister Bonnie to try one.  She hates almost all vegetables and I wanted her to try a bite so badly because I just knew she would like them.  It only took me wrestling her to the ground, hog-tying her, holding her nose shut until she had to open her mouth to breath, and then shoving a bite in there to accomplish my mission.  But I came out the victor!  And I was rewarded by her saying, "Oh, those aren't so bad afterall!"  Yep, mission complete. 

What You'll Need:
  • 4 large roasted red peppers, drained well and dried
  • 4 slabs of mozzarella or provolone cheese, about an inch wide
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • A handful finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • Kitchen twine or toothpicks, soaked in water

What You Do:

Slice the peppers open, remove all seeds, blot dry and reserve.

Add the cheese to a dish and sprinkle with the red pepper flakes, cilantro, a little lemon zest, lemon juice and a liberal drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. Toss to coat the cheese chunks in the marinade.  You can either immediately go to the next step, or let the cheese marinate in the fridge for a few hours.

Wrap each chunk in a roasted pepper and tie with twine or stick a few toothpicks thru to secure it.

Heat grill to medium, and grill the bundles until the peppers are evenly charred and cheese is browning at edges, about 8 to10 minutes.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Turnip Trouble

I need help. 

Not the psychiatric kind, but help in the kitchen.  Okay, maybe the pyschiatric kind as well.  But today let's focus on one thing at a time. 

JC likes turnips; I'm not the biggest fan.  He normally just eats them raw, but our garden has an over abundance this year and there is no way he is going to eat all of them.  So I've been experimenting with making turnip dishes. 

So far, I haven't found one that I'd want to make again.  That's where you, my loyal reader, comes in.  Do you have any turnip dishes that you could share with me?  I need help, man.

I made a cheesy turnip gratin one day last week.  Not the worst thing I've ever eaten, but I could probably go an entire year before eating it again and I wouldn't miss it.

And last night, I tried turnip fries.  Again, I didn't want to gag when eating them so it wasn't a complete failure, but neither of us were impressed.  I do think I'll try this again, next time using the grill instead of baking.  Grilling makes everything better, right?  Right?  Can't make them any worse at least. 

I've got a couple of other ideas, but to be honest, they really don't even sound that appealing, so I can't imagine they'll be anything amazing.  Please help me.  I'm officially begging now.

On another note, today is a pretty awesome day.  My amazing Daddy is celebrating another birthday!  Happy birthday, Pops! 

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Hanky Doodle Dandy

What did you do on the 4th of July?  Did you go to a cookout, maybe hang out in a pool or on a lake?  Or maybe stay home and watch the fireworks with your family? 

Know what we did?  We went and got a new puppy! 

It's taken us a while to make a decision on if we should get a new dog, and if we did, what kind to get.  We knew we couldn't try to replace Dewey, but we also want Monkey to grow up with a dog since we both grew up with them.  They definately are a man's child's best friend. 

We finally settled on getting a German Shephard and I think we've made a good choice.  Hank is fitting in so well already!  He follows Monkey around everywhere and the first thing she does every morning is go searching for him, and once she finds him she lights up with a smile and points.  I think they may have taken a liking to each other.

Hank met his cousin Rosie too, she seems to like him as well.  It's hard to tell though, what do you think? 

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

I got my hair chopped off! 
Like it?  Hate it?  Indifferent?  Tell me what you think... really, I can take it.

For more Wordless Wednesday, click here.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Back in the Saddle Again

Well it's back to the daily grind for this gal. 

We went on vacation last week to Bull Shoals Lake in Arkansas and had ourselves a great time.  Monkey was a little unsure of the water at first, but she ended up liking it and loved watching the other kids jump in off the dock.  I have a ton of catching up to do at work, but I'll leave you with a few pictures from the week.

AACK!  That really is a tarantula!

And one of all the kids, minus Monkey since she was napping.

Looking forward to the next time we go!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Independence is Awesome

Have a safe and happy 4th of July!