Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Free Cookie from Kashi

I heard about Kashi's "Steal a Cookie" promo via TV commercials and the Freebies4Mom blog. Basically, head over www.kashi.com/stealacookie and either play the game or bypass that part and go straight to the registration for a free Oatmeal Dark Chocolate Chip cookie, mmmm.

If you're not familiar with Kashi, their products are full of good stuff, like seven whole grains. Did I mention these cookies rock? (And better for you than others.)

I registered for my free cookie a couple of weeks ago and it was a nice surprise to arrive home today and find the little package waiting for me. "Free" and "cookie." Two words that meld together like music.

Speaking of freebies, I'm still waiting for my Obama sticker. Think I ordered that in August. Maybe I'll receive it before the elections.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Do the Math, People, It's $425

I've received the same forwarded email a half-dozen times in the past week. You know, the one against the $85,000,000,000 AIG bailout with the Subject line reading "Now THIS is a Plan," signed T.J. "Birk" Birkenmeier, A Creative Guy & Citizen of the Republic.

Birk is against the bailout and claims to have done the math on how to distribute $85,000,000,000 (that's $85 billion) to 200,000,000 (200 million) Americans. Birk's plan is to distribute $425,000 per American in a "We Deserve it Dividend," which would actually put us further in debt. Birk claims to have sent the email out as a test to see if others do the math (you can read about that on his blog).

Guess what folks. Many of you aren't doing the math and forwarding this email. Stop it!

Do the math, it works out to $425 per person, not $425,000. Read more on Birk's blog about this little exercise.

Let me ask, will $425 to each American revive the economy? Well, were the stimulus checks successful? I think not. Extra money is nice but we need to look longterm. I don't have a solution to the current financial mess. Owning a home is a privilege, not an entitlement, and it's why I'm not a home owner. I'm so thankful I pulled out of the deal to buy a place in Sarasota four years ago. I put in a deposit for a $149,000 condo. Today, it's on the market for $69,000 (I did get my deposit back).

Giving me $425 to pay half my rent will help me out next month but where will it get me for next month? It may buy some time and that's it. What would $425 buy you?

Savannah Travel: Midnight Ghost Walking Tour with Sixth Sense

Earlier this summer I visited Savannah, Ga., for a weekend getaway. It didn't end up as I thought it would but that's besides the point.

I did enjoy the Midnight Ghost Tour with the company called Sixth Sense. I mean, how cool is it when your tour leaves at midnight? I was the oldest tour participant but that was fine with me, I had a great time, got spooked out and learned quite a few things.

Check out my latest article about the Sixth Sense Midnight Tour and if you're in Savannah, schedule a tour. Or, try and book a Haunted Oatland Island tour - now that looks spooky. From the description, it reminds me of my experience with the S.I.T.E. group in Tallahassee last year.


Saturday, September 27, 2008

All Aflutter About Butterflies in Orlando

Today was the BlogOrlando unconference at Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla. (Orlando). I'm extremely excited about the energy I absorbed, ideas generated and information learned and can't wait to go QKG2.0 - it's about time. But a recap of BlogOrlando is for another time (and so is EPCOT's International Food & Wine Festival. Now that I'm thinking, one is due about Gatlinburg, oy!).

During lunch, we were on our own and I had intentions of wandering to the Morse Museum but being navigationally challenged, I ended up in the opposite direction of where I was suppose to go.

Alas, life's about the journey. I ended up at the Winter Park's Farmers' Market. Sweet fruit, savory quiche and raw mixed nuts ended up on the lunch menu. Yum! The market, which is inside and out, was still hopping at noontime (signs stated it was a morning market).

While wandering the market, I found Nature's Way Butterfly Gardens. Entomologist Lorenzo Zayas (pictured) sells caterpillars in their own little containers, perfect for a desk. They eventually transform into butterflies or moths and children (and adults) can watch the gradual transformation. What a cool gift idea. Definitely much better than sea monkeys.

I spoke to Zayas a bit and he told me he's had an interest in caterpillars and butterflies since he was a kid. He raises the caterpillars and "adopts" them out to others interested in them [Note: adopt is my word, I just can say "sell" when referring to animals of any kind].

If you can't make the farmers' market, check out the Nature's Way Butterfly Gardens Web site, they'll ship! Zayas says most of his requests are within Florida but he's sent them throughout the country.

I was fascinated looking at the little cocoons hanging down, barely, but sturdily, clinging to a thin strip of fabric. They looked like mini David Blains hanging upside down in Central Park but I'm pretty confident that these caterpillars will have a positive outcome.

This is such a quirky, yet beautiful gift. Almost better than a bouquet of flowers or a box of chocolates. Unless the recipient was creeped out by these sorts of things. But not I [hint, hint].

Added 10/5/08: Be sure to check out my recap of BlogOrlando!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Hug a Bunny and Pick Up Trash: Saturday is National Public Lands Day

Saturday is National Public Lands Day, a day to spruce up some of the much-loved, and sometimes under appreciated, parks, forests, beaches and preserves. Personally, it's something that should be celebrated daily and after visiting Great Smoky Mountains National Park, I believe this even more.
So what happened out in the beautiful national park last week? Read my editorial to find out.

[Photo taken in Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains National Park]

Monday, September 22, 2008

Fireproof the Movie: Coming to a Theater Near You on Friday, Sept. 26

"Never leave your partner behind," is the theme throughout the new Kirk Cameron movie, Fireproof. I attended a sneak peek of the flick last month and it made me laugh and cry. Although laced with Christian messages, the movie is good and I highly recommend it to those considering marriage and even those who are married. Be sure to check out my review of Fireproof.

I can't change my past but I can make amends with myself and move forward.

[Note about the photo: Found this leaf next to my car door this evening and just had to snap a shot.]

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Celebrating Being Sassy and Single: National Singles Week (Sept. 21 - 27, 2008)

There seems to be a day, week or month for everything these days so why not an entire week devoted to us sassy and single Americans? For about 20 years, the third week in September has been designated Unmarried and Single Americans Week (or National Singles Week).

I have to admit, before today, I never heard of it. I even discovered there's an association for single peeps, Unmarried America. From what I gather, the purpose of the week is to educate government and society as a whole the contributions single people make. After all, there are about 100 million unmarried/single people (those who fit into this category are those unmarried or uncoupled) in the U.S., which puts singles in the majority.

The site has some other fun trivia about the single population and ideas on how to celebrate the week. Local governments around the country have recognized the week with proclamations and is endorsed by organizations, such as ACLU and NOW.

With it being National Singles Week, suppose the best thing you can do for your single friends is to buy them lunch and give them a hug.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Fun & Funky Gatlinburg

Yesterday afternoon was a quest to find Cooter's in the Smokies (aka: Dukes of Hazzard Museum; free admission) and the Salt & Pepper Shaker Museum (20,000 pair!; $3 admission and good towards the purchase of S&P set of your choice) And, the quest was successful in finding both. [ETA 9/23/08: Check out my article called "Two Quirky Gatlinburg Museums" about the two museums.]

Last night after the conference dinner, my friend SBC and I joined Haunted Ghost Tours of Gatlinburg ($18; couldn't find any coupons) for a 90-minute history and ghost tour, which ended in a cemetery. The site promises paranormal photos and I'm not sure if I captured bugs, water droplets, dust specks or paranormal orbs but something peculiar showed up in some of my photos. Check them out below - in two cases, I have a before and after shot - before with orbs and after without.

Tomorrow is shooting day with the group. Guns! Guns! When do we get guns? (Police Academy) I don't think I'll be shooting any of the handguns, air rifles or shotguns but will check it out to see what I'm responsible for setting up for next year.

I've uploaded new photos to the Gatlinburg album, enjoy and let me know what you think, orbs or dust?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Snapshots from Gatlinburg, Tennessee, Wish You Were Here

I'm in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, this week and I thought about naming this post, "It's Finally Time for a GPS" but the evening's late and I don't have time to explain. But, I will share a few snapshots from today with more to come. In addition to the conference, I've scoped out the Salt & Pepper Shaker Museum and Cooter's Garage (Dukes of Hazzard Museum) so stay tuned!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Dare to Challenge: Do Me a Favor, Help a Fellow Classmate

A high school classmate needs your assistance. He's entered a competition on LiveStrong.com (you know, Lance Armstrong's gig) and was challenged to explain how he dared to overcome an obstacle or challenge in his life. In a two-minute video, Chris (my classmate) explains the pivotal moment in his life that flipped it upside down and started him down a new path.

The winner receives a Trek Bicycle signed by Lance Armstrong and Chris plans to do more good with it if he wins.

I'm not telling you what happened or what he's doing but will say it was tragic, he's doing good for society and found love again. So, do as I say and do, visit Chris's video and vote.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

LOL! I Love the New Microsoft Commercials with Gates and Seinfeld

I absolutely believe the new Microsoft commercial called "New Family" with Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld is more entertaining than most of the shows on TV these days. It's something you'd expect to see during the Super Bowl when advertisers pull out their best of show to impress the world.

Check it out, I'm sure it'll make you laugh. Can't wait to see what they come up with next.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Where Have I Been?

I've been out of pocket all week, we're hosting the Florida Outdoor Writers Association (FOWA) Annual Conference and I've been working to make sure all goes well. It's been tiring but fun. I did get a little Christmas shopping done with last night's live auction and bought myself a admission to a Ladies Let's Go Fishing! seminar ("The No Yelling School of Fishing"). I'll probably attend the Dec. seminar in Islamorada.

Tonight is the last function of the event and maybe tomorrow I'll get to sleep in a bit and catch up on some writing and blogging.

Tuesday, I hit the road to attend another conference through next Sunday, the Southeast Outdoor Press Association (SEOPA), which will be in Gatlinburg, Tenn. We're hosting that conference next year so once I return, it'll be time to start planning that.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

My Prince? Nope, Just a Frog

While waiting for a friend this evening, I noticed this tiny frog stuck on the window. I couldn't get a non-blurry photo (I was about ready to whip out the mini-tripod when my friend arrived) and this is the best shot. The frog is almost transparent. Cool!

Gotta run, my cat has found a toad out on the lanai and has chased it into the living room. Not sure how the toad ended up out there, it's screened in and the third floor.

ETA: 9/11/08: Yikes! This is my 666th post on this blog, hmmm...

Saturday, September 06, 2008

What's That Nibbling on My Toes?

Today I made my bi-monthly visit up to Sarasota to see Grandma. She's really making some progress and is talking about coming home by mid-October. That's good news. She was really zipping around today so maybe she'll be home sooner than later.

It was time for a pedicure and I had seen in the news about something called "live fish pedicures" at a salon in Sarasota. Hmm, this sounds a bit quirky, doesn't it? So I made the trip and what was it like? Finish reading about the experience over at Suite101.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Car Payment Kitty

When did having a cat get so expensive? I took my kitty to the veterinary tonight for her vaccinations. I ended up dropping more than $300 on her! I love her but she's a cat. I probably don't spend that much in a year for myself in medical expenses.

Growing up, we had cats that lived outside and I don't think they ever saw the inside of a vet's office.

Glad I don't have any car payments for awhile. At least I paid to keep her purring running. And in the end, I know she's worth it.

Florida: Are We Gettin' Ready to Roll? 'Tis Hurricane Season

With Hannah, Ike and Josephine churning in the Atlantic, Florida's getting ready for something. Ike looks like a big, bad beast and is appropriately named, I mean, another infamous "Ike" who was a bad-ass in a very bad way was Ike Tuner.

Stay tuned, I may be "reporting" from within a locked down building within a week's time frame.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Gettin' Figgy With It

Publix had figs on sale, buy one get one free this week. I had no idea what I was going to do with them, figs are kind of a strange fruit. Being from New York, the only thing I knew about figs was that they were in Fig Newtons (described by Nabisco as a "quirky, fig-filled cookie") and even then, I wasn't sure if they were a real fruit or some made up food like marshmallows.

Moving down South, I've gotten up close and personal with fresh figs at the area farmers markets and occasionally the grocery stores. (Pictured above - figs at a farmers market in Savannah.) For the benefit of Yankees, you eat the whole fig, skin, seeds and all.

Yesterday I embarked on a new adventure, making fig preserves from a recipe I found over at Bayou Woman's blog. It's pretty basic, figs, lemons, sugar, water, a pinch of salt and lots of time. She recommends cooking the mixture for at least three hours, I did mine for four hours.

The photo below is what the mixture looks like after about 15 minutes or so.

And below is what the mixture looks like after four hours of cooking.

Tah, dah! The final product (below). I ended up with four and a half jars of fig preserves and I must admit, this is much tastier and sweeter than a Fig Newton! I was afraid the lemons would make it over powering but they didn't. And, I was afraid it was going to turn out runny but by keeping it on the stove, it cooks down and thickens up.

So what will I do with the fig preserves? Not sure, but it's pretty tasty on my toast and I saw a recipe on the Food Channel last week using fig preserves. The preserves were spread on the bottom of a raw pie crust (not in a pie pan) then chopped plums were placed on top along with some butter and sugar. The crust was washed with egg yolk (I think) and sprinkled with sugar, then baked.

If I need a dessert for something, perhaps I'll try that.

Now, Bayou Woman is apparently in the heart of Hurricane Gustav. Send her some positive vibes that she and her family will be safe.