Thursday, July 31, 2008

Thursday Walk

The Thursday walk is one of our favorites. Mainly because we get to look at the lake for the first half mile or so as we walk past the western shore. Sometimes, the local swim team is out on the lake doing laps, while the track team is out running long distance through the neighborhood. Makes me feel old, usually!

This particular walk doesn't have a lot of dogs out and about, but, there are funny mailboxes to make up for the lack of canine company. This one is obviously right on the lake...

And this one is nearby.

More Fair Baking July 31, 2008

Well, I think I have all my Fair enteries figured out. I have one big reservation. My chocolate cake--sugar free, extremely low fat and made with whole wheat flour. It actually tastes pretty good...until I had my friend Patti try it. And she didn't like it. Well that's not quite accurate. She couldn't even swallow a bite of it--she spit it out! LOL So, perhaps my taste buds are off. But, Rod likes it, so his birthday cake is this recipe!

It's only about 1 - 1.5 inches tall...LOL!

Patti did give me a thumb's up on the cookies though. So I am still hoping for a blue ribbon on that. I also have about 8 kinds of jam to enter. I will let you know what happens.

Oh, and I had a couple ripe, ripe, ripe Rod gets a banana bread for while I am gone.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Monday Walk

This is our favorite dog to see in the neighborhood! Sally looks to be a Siberian Husky and is very vocal as we walk her road. Sometimes we walk this little lake loop and get to see her up to four times a week.

And then there is poor, pitiful Shep! I really don't know what his name is, but, we find him laying or standing in the street almost every day. When I holler to him, he comes running, does the Bonnie sniff and then follows us to the corner. He is never too far from home. AND, boy does he need a bath!!

Today's Tally:
3 Leashed Dogs
2 Chihuahua escapees
1 German Shepard (above)
Miles walked 2 in the neighborhood
Miles walked at Disney getting people in at EPCOT, maybe another 1 mile!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Handmade Mulberry Tissue

Oh, I am so excited. I got in my order of handmade Mulberry tissue paper to wrap soaps. I have been thinking about going the handmade route for a while, but, every time I looked at the price of the paper I changed my mind.

Then one of my soap groups started talking about this company in Wisconsin that had ALL KINDS OF PAPER. I checked and they had beautiful stuff, but, the retail price was too high. I saw they did wholesale and I am happy to say that had good prices for what I needed. Only thing was they didn't have 500 sheets of any one color. In fact, they didn't have 500 sheets of any ten colors. LOL So, the next soaps you buy will be wrapped in a variety of gorgeous, colorful papers! I hope you love them as much as I do!

The weekend! July 25 & 26, 2008

Rod has a "Disney" kind of weekend meaning that he has Friday and Saturday off. This weekend he got friends into Disney while I had a customer stop by to pick up soap and then made a quick run to the grocery store.

My main reason for the trip was to get more nuts. I had coupons...yippee...but once again the cashier (yes, a Wal-mart cashier) forgot to ring up my coupons. She sent me to the Customer Service desk to get my $1.55 back. Anyone who has ever bought Christmas presents from Wal-mart knows that you DO NOT want to have to take something back. Because, that means waiting in line at the Customer Service desk.

One look at the line, and a quick check with a manager-type who "didn't work at this store" and a peek at the expiration date of the coupon (and the fact I wouldn't need more nuts until Christmas and I knew I wasn't getting my $1.55 back...ever. Well, maybe. I am so frustrated with the cashiers who forget to ring them up, I sat down and wrote a letter to the manager of my local store. Who knows, maybe I will get something back...maybe not. But, it sure made me feel better.

Back on the weekend routine. Bonnie Girl and I started our usual Friday morning walk which was to the end of the road and back, hitting a few cul-de-sacs to hit the two mile mark. This morning, we were greeted by two Sheriff cruisers blocking our progress. Checking the paper's website later in the day we sadly learned a 16 year old in his parent's Lexus had lost control at 4 a.m. and hit a tree in our 25 mph neighborhood. According to how the car looked he was going MUCH faster. It is so sad. Please, please dear blog readers--don't speed. Or don't let your teenagers drive so late at night. Walking/driving past the scarred tree will keep me in line. For a while, at least.

Then in the afternoon while he watched the Cubs lose to the Marlins, I sat down and made the dreaded BATH FIZZIES. They don't usually make me not want to make them, but, this time I had a LOT to make, so I guess that did it. I got all of them done and it should be plenty to last me into the Fall shows. Hopefully!

I have done lots of packing. I am starting to squirrel away piles of this and that as I prepare to make the big drive to Illinois. It hit me today that I won't be seeing Rod for about six weeks and that makes me very sad.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Baking for the Fair, week of July 21st

In my quest to win more blue ribbons at the esteemed Boone County Fair in Belvidere, IL, I have begun my baking experiments. So far I have made a variation of the Cockeyed Chocolate cake from Peg Bracken's, "I Hate to Cook Book" and some diabetic oatmeal cookies adapted from the same book.

Thumbs up on the cookies but I will make them even better over the next week. They are a tad too cake-like for my taste, so I will be adjusting the applesauce and the flour a tad to see if I can get what I want.

Thumbs down on the cake so far. Don't get me wrong--the recipe from the book is superb. BUT, I always have to tweak things a bit. Plus, I entered the diabetic cake category, so, I am stretching even further. The cake turned out to be the texture of a say.....a muffin. But the chocolate flavor was nice. Rod ate it, so that says something!

I have been on the phone a lot with my nephew Travis as he tries to duplicate my Mom's award winning yeast rolls. He poured boiling water on the yeast and lukewarm water on the fats, so he had to make a second batch. My sister assured me that the dough on the second run was delicious. The final batch turned out great and we will see what results he gets on his 4-H project at the Rock County Wisc. Fair.

Jodie, my sister, is also entering a diabetic cookie at the Boone Fair. SO, we will be battling over that...actually we will be sharing tips...I hope! She is the expert when it comes to making a recipe over to be healthier.

My Mom missed the entry deadline for the Fair this year. She had finally planned on doing a big decorated cake. That's ok. It will give her a year to plan her masterpiece! LOL

St. Pete Trip July 17-19, 2008

Did I tell you that Rod's vacation wasn't approved for the trip to Illinois? His plan was to come up at the beginning of the time I was gone...but he waited too long to put in for it, so he won't be up in Illinois while I am gone. I am bummed, he is bummed--but we'll get over it.

Can you tell what these are? We have passed this area a hundred times and have always wanted to know more. This time we at least got a picture from the road. It is various sized Airstream Travel Trailers buried in a field. It is located between exits 17 and 14 on I-4 between Lakeland and Plant City. Anyone know the real story??

So, we decided to take a mini vacation over in St. Pete. We were just there to see the Cubs play, but, we found an inexpensive but nice place (Homestead Suites on Ullmerton Rd) to stay. So we hopped on I-4 and headed due west on Thursday after Rod got off work.

We had planned on finding the Sloppy Joe's on the beach, but, Rod was nodding off shortly after we had unpacked the van. So, we ordered in a pizza and settled down to watch a movie. Rod was out shortly, which left me to do some work I had brought.

Friday morning we were up early and headed down to Ft. DeSoto. This is a county owned beachfront park that offers lots of beaching, fishing, fort touring and even a dog park. You can camp, you can rent kayaks, you can bring your own boat and launch it at the ramp. It is an awesome place.

We headed to the North beach access point passing most of the public areas of the park. They have lots of parking, nice restrooms, great picnic pavillions and showers there. We picked out spot, put up the umbrella (thanks Mom!) and set about getting a tan. There were lots of people out sunning, swimming and even a catamaran stopped at the beach. The county most have summer camps for kids here, because several of the pavillions had troops of kids hanging out.

We were pretty lucky with the weather. The forecast had called for about a 70% chance of rain while we were gone. We swam, walked and enjoyed the sunshine and stayed on the beach until about noon. As we were leaving it started clouding up--but we never got rain!

Friday night we headed over to the ballpark for tailgating. The stadium wasn't nearly as full as for the Cubs game, but, we still had lots of company as we all warmed up for the big game. Toronto Jays vs. the first place Rays. Our first surprise--$22 for two party zone bleacher seats. St. Pete is still a cheap seat! Then as we entered the gate, we received two $5 Hess gas cards. As we made our way up to the nosebleeds, we saw that it was $1 hotdog night AND $3 Dos Equis beer. LOL...HEAVEN! We had an awesome time and they even won.

The view from our seats of the stadium dome and the do you get up there...I want to go! And from the smoking lounge on the west side of the stadium that has a great view of the sunsets...and the Police Station!

Saturday morning we had to be on the road by midmorning to spring Bonnie dog from puppy jail. Great trip and what a deal...if we spent $300 it would surprise me. AND that even includes $100 for kenneling Bonnie and getting her vaccines! LOL

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Deadliest Catch July 11, 2008

Argh, I am so bummed. One of my favorites from the show, The Deadliest Catch, the show about the Alaskan King Crab fishermen was here in Orlando on Friday--and I missed it! Captain Sig, and his two brothers, Edger and Norm were at the Norway pavillion signing autographs and having photo ops.

The brothers are part of a crew on the boat The Northwestern. The pictures below are from the Orlando Sentinel website. The brother I love is the one in the dark shirt...with his back to the camera. He remains cool and funny even when the seas are rocking the boat and his brother Sig is losing it in the wheelhouse. The other brother, Norm, never ever talks on camera on the show. EVER!

Sig Hansen(Joe Burbank, Orlando Sentinel / July 11, 2008)

Sig Hansen, star of the Discovery Channel reality series 'The Deadliest Catch,' clowns around with Epcot guests Angela Ullmayer, Nicole Ullmayer (left) and Peter Ullmayer (far right), during his appearance at the Norway pavilion.

Sig Hansen(Joe Burbank, Orlando Sentinel / July 11, 2008)

Sig Hansen, star of the Discovery Channel reality series 'The Deadliest Catch,' sprays water on Epcot guests waiting in line during his appearance at the Norway pavilion. Hansen met guests and signed autographs with his two brothers, Norm Hansen, and Edgar Hansen (background), who also appear on the show.

Sig Hansen(Joe Burbank, Orlando Sentinel / July 11, 2008)

Sig Hansen, star of the Discovery Channel reality series 'The Deadliest Catch,' sprays water on Epcot guests waiting in line during his appearance at the Norway pavilion.

Sig Hansen(Joe Burbank, Orlando Sentinel / July 11, 2008)

Sig Hansen, star of the Discovery Channel reality series 'The Deadliest Catch,' signs an autograph as Epcot guest Kathy Markey (center) talks to Hansen's colleague and show co-star Phil Harris on Hansen's cell phone during Hansen's appearance at the Norway pavilion at Disney's Epcot. Looking on (left) is guest Lisa Dugas.

SeaWorld After Dark July 13, 2008

My friend Patti invited me out to SeaWorld yesterday afternoon to see the "After Dark" summer event. The weather forecast wasn't good for Saturday...70% chance of rain. So we checked about 4p.m. and it looked like we might be in luck, so we left for the park.

We had a few sprinkles in the parking lot and a few more as we walked up to the gate, but, that was it. Neither of us had been to the park in about a year, so, we talked to the guy handing out maps to get his take on what we shouldn't miss. Then I asked Patti if it was more important to her to walk around or to try to see ALL the shows. Luckily she voted for just walking around!
We started on the "left" side of the park...stopping in at the turtle pond, the ray petting pool and then the dolphin pool. At the dolphin pool they have made a not so great change. Now, if you plan on feeding the dolphins you are channeled into a special line with all the others feeding the dolphins. Those people not wanting to pay the extra are relegated to the end of the pool...where since there is no one feeding them--they are no dolphins. Luckily they still have the underwater viewing area so we still got to see some up close.

Since Patti isn't a roller coaster rider, I skipped checking out the new coaster so we could visit. On the way over to the Hospitality House (sponsored by Annheiser Busch) we stopped to see the penguins, the sharks and the clydesdales. We got yelled at for trying to pet the donkey! LOL

At the Hospitality House we were going to get something to eat and have a beer. But Patti had an awesome idea--why not head over to the Cheesecake Factory after the last show for some appetizers and a slice of cheesecake. That was a no brainer when our choices were hotdogs, hamburgers, brats or beef stew! LOL So, even though I was starving...we waited.

I sampled Shock Top Belgian White Ale and Stone Mill Pale Ale...both yummy! We then headed over towards Shamu Theater where we had plenty of time until the last show. We decided to hit the polar bears exhibit. Both bears were sleeping, as was the walrus--but we did get a blurry but hysterical picture of the walrus' butt against the window of the underwater viewing area. The beluga whales were swimming gracefully to make up for the sleeping bears and walrus.

At the Shamu Rocks show, we had a seat on the top row of the stadium. That was pretty nice as we had a great view into the training pools and got to see the big guy doing some "practice" leaps! The show was great--don't miss it if you have a chance to see it.

On the way out of the park, we stopped by the Bayside Ski Show. We weren't really impressed. It moved too slow. But the entertainers singing were great as was the jet skis pulling big lit kites that showed up so nicely at night. We skipped fireworks since we both can see them from home just about nightly.

Cheesecake Factory wasn't too busy--we even got a parking spot right up front. We were told the wait was going to be 10-20 minutes, but, we didn't even wait too much more than 5 minutes. Apps were delicious. Cheesecake was too! I had the Pecan Carmel Turtle Chocolate Cheesecake. Patti went with the White Chocolate Carmel Macadamia Nut slice. We both had plenty to take home...mine didn't make it past lunch time the next day!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

It's been a Soapin' Frenzy! July 12, 2008

Many of you know I go to Illinois and Wisconsin to work and play in August. This year I will be up there in time for the highlight of the trip--the Boone County Fair. It's held during the first full week in August. I love getting to see my nephews and nieces show pigs in the 4-H Fair and entering items in the Home Economics Open show. Every year I have won a ribbon, so that's the hope again this year when I am entering several jams and a chocolate cake. Last year I got first place on my sugar free cookies! A bunch of us usually enter chocolate chip Dad won first place two years he is the one to beat. Mom enters her yeast rolls and finally got her blue ribbon last year.

So, the biggest part of my summer is trying to make enough soap to do three shows. If they were shows like we have in the summer in Florida, it wouldn't be hard. The Florida shows are slow, which is basically why I don't do many anymore! But, one I do up there, the Schaumburg Septemberfest, is like a big Fall or Spring show down here. For those of you familiar with the Delray Affair or Market Days in Tallahassee it is very similiar.

So, the hard part is finding room to store it all!

The main storage rack in what used to be the little bedroom...

Some more on the guest bedroom dresser...

Some more on a table set up in the guest bedroom...

More in the hallway closet...

Another table full in the guest bedroom...

and finally the last little bit on another dresser in there!

I even got an idea for this year's Christmas soap, so I did that too. Like I said, I have a LOT of soap around right now!

I do the labels at the same time...and the new printer gave me fits for a while. I had to call the local repair place and they told me what was causing the problem. With Rod's help we got the printer tilted at the right angle and the little piece of solid ink that was holding up the works out of there. Jeez, what a pain.

I also decided to start wrapping the soaps with handmade mulberry tissue and I am waiting on my big box to get here. I couldn't get all the sheets I needed in one color, so I have an assortment of about 8 colors coming in. The best thing is that they offered paper cutting, so I won't have to do that any more. Yippee!!

Next up is to rework the incense display, then make body polish, fizzies, pour oils and then I think I am ready for the Fall shows. I think...

Saturday, July 5, 2008

July 4th Weekend, July 5, 2008

Great Holiday weekend at my in-laws. Rod's Dad is recovering nicely from his hip surgery--they have moved back upstairs into their lair. He says he still has pain, but, my sources have found him working out under a car, crawling around the garage and getting ready to re-caulk the house windows once again. Cody is going crazy with him asking her to repeat things. Maybe, just maybe he will get that hearing aid one day before she is driven completely around the bend. Rod Sr. says he will be getting the cataract surgery too! That's a big surprise, but I am sure he will love it once he's done.

Thursday evening we were at Deb's house. We munched on ham and then took a great walk around the development after dark. They are in the process of painting their house--a cute beach blue with cream trim. That project is on going, but, the painters are doing good work!

Friday morning I worked on the computer while Rod helped trim some plants. Then Jan dropped off a new grill that we were in charge of putting together. Deb ran to pick up some last minute things, while I finished up...and then we made a liquor run and picked up a couple more things at the grocery store. It was busy in the Publix...almost every register has a cashier!

We ate early as Jan had to work, but, the grilled burgers, brats and dogs were delicious. I started getting a headache about this time...which kinda nagged me the rest of the day and into the next day. But that didn't stop us from going out when it got dark and enjoying the fireworks!

We didn't get any pictures--you all know how those fireworks pictures turn out! Fireworks at the beach are awesome. You could see all kinds of public and private displays running up and down the coast. Any direction you looked--more fireworks. Rod and I marveled how far home fireworks have come--from our days of smoke snakes and sparklers--the people around Rod and Cody's house (the in-laws) had fantastic displays. They were being shot off until almost midnight.

Had two great walks with Bonnie...the first day would have been a great day for pics, but, the camera battery was dead again. I saw a striking cardinal, sitting up above us on the power line. We crossed the big grassy area at the main beach and walked on the boardwalk. Not too many people out. The second part of the walk is nice and shady. We have gotten to meet some of the dogs in the subdivision back here. Joey a little terrier mix and Marlin a big pointer. Joey's Mom said he was part Jack Russell, like Bonnie, but I sure couldn't see it in him. He was cute and, nah, I don't think there's any Jack Russell is in there.

Hope you all had a great Fourth of July, too!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Tuesday's Walk July 1, 2008

Many of you know that for the last year I have been on a walking program--mainly to lose weight. (Unfortunately, until I do something about eating after dinner, I don't think walking 2 miles a day is gonna help!) But as a hiker, I do love getting outside and enjoying whatever presents itself in my path.

Having a VERY high energy dog who was stuck in the backyard, the walks presented a great way to "wear" her out. So, now little Bonnie Dog stands on my chest every morning I am not up and out of bed by 7 a.m. Usually this act is accompanied by whining. Ah, much to be grateful for...

Each day of the week I take a different route around the neighborhood. On Tuesdays we go to the "bad" part of the 'hood. What I mean by bad, is that scenically there is not too much to see. Part of the route is on the major road that borders my neighborhood--not a bad thing necessarily. It's just that when I go the other way, there is big, beautiful Lake Cane.

So Bonnie and I start out by getting her harnessed up, grabbing keys, sunglasses, camera and trying to do all that while she is still whining and trying to get me to hurry up. Of course she has already had to wait while I go through my email and pack any orders that came in, let's just say she is READY to go.

The first thing of interest we see at the corner is the poor German Shephard who lives across the street...let's call him "Shep". Sometimes he escapes the yard but doesn't make it back home until after his owners have gone to work. So, he is locked out of the yard. He waits pitifully at the driveway for someone to let him in. When he sees us, he sometimes crosses the road to visit...usually he doesn't look both ways...resulting in rapidly braking drivers, honks, bad words and me cringing on the sidewalk, hoping he doesn't get hit. He is sweet and I think he reminds Bonnie of our big dog, Sonny, who died of bone cancer a couple years ago.

So, once we convince Shep to go home, we walk down the street past my friend Patti's house. Down to the busy road and make a right turn. If we are lucky, the little kind elderly lady is sitting out on her bench by the driveway and we stop and chat. She thinks Bonnie is "sweet" and she wishes she had a dog like her. I tell her a dog like Bonnie would drag her into the next county in two seconds.

On the next street we make another right turn and we continue to zig zag through the streets in this neck of the woods. We hope the lady who walks her three little white dogs does not come out to walk at the same time we are going by--this usually causes a big to-do for all the dogs and worries the owners that one will break loose and really cause us a problem. Bonnie just wants to get to know them, but, both us owners seem to know this would not be a good idea.

The next interesting thing is the house on the corner with the stealth cats. I swear these cats are not afraid of anything. One laid in the grass about 2 feet from the curb as Bonnie and I approached. Neither of us saw her and by the time Bonnie did and yanked the leash the cat's way, I was already walking past her. That cat did not move a muscle!!! Smart or dumb...I am not sure. We have passed here before many times and seen cats in the tree, on the fence, under the car or by the back door. Very interesting house for a dog to walk past.

On the same road is the scary, big, fat rottweiler, Adolph. Actually Adolph's owner, is the scary one-he's big and fat too. The first time we met Adolph he was out sniffing by the mailbox. The owner was leaning against his car. As soon as Adolph saw us he headed our way--not apparently aggressive. The owner casually walked down to the mailbox, but, didn't call to the dog or try to warn us. When an unknown dog approaches I always stop, Bonnie settles down while she gets sniffed and I eventually move on...sometimes with the other dog in tow. As we appoached the mailbox, the owner called for the dog who was following behind Bonnie. He kept saying "that was close"...which I think meant that he was glad his dog didn't attack us. If your dog might attack someone, it would probably be a good thing not to have him unleashed in the front yard, ya think?!

The rest of this street is pretty quiet. We pass the funny "Air Mail" mailbox up on a 15 foot tall pole, the beagle who we have seen grow up from a new Christmas puppy and the house where the kids are out playing sometimes.

The last loop is one we do several times a week. It borders Lake Marsha, there are pretty houses with nice landscaping. One has this pretty blue flower that I love and wish I could find out what it is. We pass Bonnie's favorite dog buddy, Sally, a beautiful Siberian Husky. We met Sally face to face once when Bonnie pulled the leash out of my hand as we were walking past Sally's house. By the time I recovered from the shock, Bonnie was already wrapped up in Sally's cable tie-out. Sally's house is one of those weird architectural ones and I could not see the way to the front door to get her owner's help--plus I wasn't sure how long that cable was. So, I just approached very slowy, got down low and extricated Bonnie's leash from the cable. Sally was just happy to meet Bonnie I think and didn't pay me any attention. I met up with the owner several weeks later and told her about the chance meeting. She said Sally is usually not people-friendly so she was just glad it ended ok. Me too!

Well, that is pretty much the story of our Tuesday walks. We usually see a couple more dogs at one of the last corners we pass. Bonnie loves them as they are loud and boisterous and always bark out a greeting. Me, I am just glad to be back home with Bonnie in one piece. Now if I can just get the arm with the tennis elbow pain to bend into my pocket to get my keys out!