Monday, March 28, 2011

Going U.P.

The calendar may say that spring is here, but the weather begs to differ.  It is slightly above freezing, right now, and there is still a fair amount of snow on the ground.  The only thing that is keeping me going is the idea of taking a trip once the warmer weather finally arrives.  It doesn't help, any, that I keep seeing this commercial on television.

Every year, I request a copy of the Michigan travel guide.  It's full of gorgeous, glossy pictures of places I've never been (even though I've lived in Michigan my entire life), and places I'd like to go.  It's a good starting point for planning day and weekend trips.  Once I find a place of interest, I begin my search on the internet for more information.

We've been talking about spending a weekend in the Upper Peninsula, so I spent some time researching points of interest, there.  It is primarily forest land, which means that a trip to the area is not going to be full of amusement parks and tourist attractions.  Camping, hiking, kayaking, swimming, fishing and sightseeing are the standard.  There are dozens of state parks and state forest areas with campgrounds, and they all have unique features that I've been comparing.

The first thing I ruled out was any campground with the term "rustic" in it's title.  I love the outdoors as much as anyone, but when I read the following, it didn't inspire me to make reservations:
Rustic campground includes vault toilets and potable water from well hand pump.
Vault toilets?  Yeah, I know what they are.  Most of the scenic overlooks along the eastern part of the state have them.  On a 90+ degree day you can smell them from a half mile away.  Trust me when I tell you that you don't want your campsite anywhere near one.   

Another type of campsite I wasn't terribly familiar with was a "walk in" site.  Then I read this description of one:

Craig Lake State Park is the most remote state park in the system. It spans more than 6,900 acres in Baraga County. Craig Lake offers a touch of wilderness and access into the park is somewhat of an adventure. Vehicles with high ground clearance are recommended due to the rocky conditions of the road. The park contains six full lakes and numerous small ponds along with a variety of wildlife such as deer, black bear, beaver, loons and a portion of the Upper Peninsula moose herd. Craig Lake is 374 acres and features six islands and high granite bluffs along its northern shoreline.

A touch of wilderness?  It sounds like more than a "touch" to me.  You can drive into the park, but you must walk to the camp sites because there is no vehicle access.  I'm sure it's beautiful, but when you use "remote" and "black bear" together, I get a little worried.  We may consider visiting during the daytime, but I don't think we'll be spending the night.  While I may want to share some highlights of our trip on my blog, I don't want to be featured on an episode of "I Shouldn't Be Alive". 

I had read that some of the campgrounds are close to ghost towns.  An afternoon spent poking around an old, abandoned logging camp or mining town sounds like fun.  I also found that there is a place called "Willoughby Lodge" that sits on the foundation of the former sawmill in the now defunct town of Prentiss.  How cool is that?

There is still a lot of information to cover, so we don't have any concrete plans, yet.  Even so, I'm enjoying the planning because it keeps me from looking outside and noticing the snow that just won't leave.  Plus, Tim Allen is pretty convincing (he does the voice over in the Pure Michigan ads).
Do you have any plans for spring or summer getaways?


If you're planning a trip to Michigan, or want to spend some time on a virtual getaway, click
here to view the digital version of Michigan Travel Ideas.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Give Me A Break, I Haven't Even Finished My Coffee Yet!

The other morning I had the kitchen television on while I packed my daughter's lunch.  I was standing at the kitchen counter, sliced ham in hand, when I glanced at the screen just in time to see a close up shot of a cold sore.  I wasn't watching a medical show, this was a commercial for cold sore ointment.  I quickly looked away and went back to layering sliced ham on bread, but it wasn't easy with the image of an oozing cold sore burned into my brain.  Thank goodness my daughter likes mustard on ham, mayo might have been more than I could handle, just then.

With lunch making duty complete, I sat down to drink some of my coffee and forget the nasty cold sore image.  I grabbed the remote, scanned through the preview guide and found a movie that I like, a comedy, so I thought I might watch that for a few minutes.  I clicked over to it just in time for a commercial.  No cold sore this time, instead, acne treatment.  Before I go on, let me just say that I sympathize with anyone who has stubborn acne.  Who hasn't had the occasional pimple, right?  That said, I could live without images of erupting zits.

Over the next 20 or 30 minutes, I saw plaque along the gum line in a toothpaste commercial, before and after shots of an infected cut in an ad for anti-bacterial cream, cat urine in a commercial for carpet cleaner, nail fungus in an advertisement for anti-fungal treatment, skin erupting into goose bumps in a commercial for peppermint candy and filthy dog teeth in a commercial for canine plaque spray.  I won't even mention the number of commercials where people are licking food off their lips, their fingers, or in the case of the Doritos commercial, another person's fingers.  All this before 7:00 a.m.  When did watching television become so disgusting?  I can understand how all of these products work without seeing the oozing, dripping, crusted results.

Maybe it's just me.  It's certainly possible that other people aren't as easily grossed out as I am.  We occasionally go to a particular restaurant that has big screen TVs mounted above the bar and in different locations around the dining area. Usually, they will have sports or news on, but once while we were there, they had the Dr. Oz show on several of the screens.  The topic of the show had something to do with plastic surgery and they were showing the removal of skin tags.  I saw people glancing at the screen while they were eating so I can only assume that no one complained or asked that the channel be changed.  I couldn't see it very well, but it's not something I would choose to watch during a meal (or at any time, really).

How about you?  Do these images gross you out, too?


Monday, March 21, 2011

I Might Buy It If I Had A Coupon

Sometimes our dinner table conversation gets a little carried away.  A few days ago we started coming up with unnecessary products that aren't (yet) available.  Have a look and see if there is anything you can't live without. 


Kwick Kill Brand Vitamin Enriched Rat Poison - Only the best will do for your family.  That's especially true when it comes to eradicating vermin.  Our tasty pellets are enriched with calcium for strong bones and flax seed oil for a shiny pelt.  Simply distribute Kwick Kill Brand pellets in areas pests are known to inhabit.  Once consumed, death should occur in two to four hours.  Your family will have only the healthiest dead rodents.  Guaranteed or your money back.

Kids Love Em Brand Bone-In Fish Sticks - Because our product is minimally processed, our fish sticks are more economical than the leading brand.  Your children will delight in finding and removing the bones from each tasty, batter dipped morsel.  Serve with tartar sauce and fresh lemon wedges.  Note:  Pliers may be required to remove larger bones.  Caution: Potential choking hazard.  Do not serve to children.

Caliente Pharmaceuticals Jalapeno Flavored Antacid Tablets - Other antacids may work, but they leave an unpleasant, chalky aftertaste.  Caliente brand antacid tablets have a mildly spicy flavor that can be enjoyed after any heartburn inducing meal.  Dosage:  Chew one or two Jalapeno Flavored Tablets to stop heartburn.  If pain persists, discontinue use.  Caution:  May cause heartburn.

Boheme Pilsner Super Light Beer - This is no ordinary light beer!  Full bodied, crisp and refreshing, Boheme Pilsner Light Beer weighs in at just 99 calories per bottle, but that's not what makes it the perfect beer for today's weight conscious beer consumer.  Boheme is blended with diuretics.  If you thought beer ran through you before, just wait until you try Boheme! It doesn't stay with you long enough to cause weight gain and think of all the calories you'll burn running to the bathroom!  Boheme's Motto - Through the lips, over the gums, look out kidneys, here it comes!

Today's Gourmet Breath Mints - You may not be able to afford to eat gourmet foods, but you can afford to smell like you did.  Choose from one of six varieties;  Lamb with Rosemary, Boeuf Bourguignon, Oysters Rockefeller, Trout Almondine, Osso Bucco and Chicken Florentine.  The flavor and aroma last for hours.  You're wallet may give you away, but your breath never will.

Cozy Home Coffee Flavored Tea - Can't decide whether to have a cup of coffee or a cup of tea?  With Cozy Home Brand Coffee Flavored Tea, you never have to choose!  For a complete breakfast, serve with our omelet flavored pancakes and sausage flavored bacon.

Stylemaster Temporary House Paint - Selecting a color for your house can be difficult.  What may look good on a small sample might not look great on a large scale.  With Stylemaster's Temporary House Paint 3 Step System, you can take the guesswork out of choosing the perfect color.  Step One - Thoroughly clean siding with our liquid Prep Cleaner and the blue sponge that comes with the kit.  Be sure to saturate well.  Primer will not adhere to any untreated surface.  Step Two - Using the two inch foam brush that comes with the kit, apply Stylemaster Temporary Primer in a short stroke crosshatch fashion.  Be sure to apply liberally.  Paint will not adhere to any unprimed surface.  Step Three - Apply Stylemaster Temporary Paint (in color of your choice) in horizontal strokes using the two inch bristle brush that comes with the kit.  Vertical strokes may not adhere properly.  That's it, you're done!  Stand back and admire your work.  If you like the color and wish to apply it permanently, you will need to purchase the Stylemaster Temporary House Paint Remover system to remove the temporary paint.  Warning:  Do not use if rain is predicted within 30 days of application.  Direct sunlight may alter color and finish of paint.  Paint may adhere permanently to skin, clothing, masonry, auto finishes, trees, grass, shrubs and ornamental plants.  Stylemaster products may leave a residue that will prevent any paint (including Stylemaster brand) from adhering, in which case, sand blasting may be necessary.    
Elegant Hostess Disposable Outdoor Dinner Gloves - It happens every time.  You set your outdoor table  for an al fresco meal, when suddenly the wind picks up and blows the napkins away.  With Elegant Hostess Disposable Outdoor Dinner Gloves, you can leave your worries behind.  Each diner removes their gloves from our lovely, weighted pop-up dispenser just as dinner is served so there are no napkins to blow away.  Your guests will love the convenience of being able to pick up buttery corn, juicy chicken and saucy ribs without getting their hands sticky.  And who needs a napkin when you can wipe you face with a gloved hand?  Made of soft-spun paper, they are disposable as well as elegant.  One size fits all.  Also available in poncho style.

Grandma's Kitchen Salted Sugar - Have you ever confused the salt container with the sugar container?  Never again with Grandma's Kitchen Salted Sugar.  Each bag contains 2 1/2 pounds sugar and 2 1/2 pounds salt blended together.  Note:  May make sweet dishes overly salty.  May also make salty dishes overly sweet.

Ultra Secure Screaming Bathroom Door Lock -  If there is one place you want privacy, it's the bathroom.  But how can you be sure the door is locked?  You can check and double check, but do you really feel secure?  The Ultra Secure Screaming Bathroom Door Lock will put your mind at ease.  Immediately upon locking the door, the hinge mounted speaker will broadcast a 120 decibel blood curdling scream to let you know that the lock has been activated.  Now that's peace of mind.  Easy to install, battery operated.

YouNeek Fragrances Unscented Perfume - Sometimes you feel like putting on perfume, but you're bothered by the smell of it.  YouNeek Fragrances has created just the product for those days.  Made with an exclusive blend of hydrogen and oxygen, it's fragrance free and hypo-allergenic.  $165 per ounce.  Available at a high end fragrance counter near you.


Sunday, March 13, 2011

I Do Actually Know A Thing Or Two About Knives

I remember watching my grandpa use a sharpening steel to hone knives when I was a kid.  He could do it really fast and it was amazing to watch.  He came from a family of butchers so he knew the value of a well maintained, sharp knife.

Cooking is something my husband and I enjoy doing together, so, from time to time, we watch cooking shows to get some new ideas and techniques. Professional chefs have some impressive knife skills, but many of them do something that surprises me.  They use the sharpened edge of their knives to scrape food from the cutting board.

If you look at a typical chef's knife, you'll notice that the blade is curved on the cutting side and flat on the top.  There are a number of reasons knives are made that way, but one of them is to make scraping food off of your cutting board more efficient and save the blade of your knife.  Using the sharpened edge of your knife to scrape your board can dull the blade and, potentially, nick it.

Some professional chefs don't seem to know that, but, if you didn't before, now you do.  Next time you chop an onion or slice an apple, don't forget to flip your knife over and use the straight side to scrape your food into the pan.  Your knives will stay sharp longer.


Monday, March 7, 2011

Blame Me, It's Probably My Fault

Winter just keeps dragging on around here.  Every time we get a sunny, slightly warmer day, the snow melts a little bit, but then we get hit with six inches of snow.  It's two steps forward and one step back.  I've been complaining about it for weeks, but here's the kicker, it may have been my fault all along.

You see, a few days after Christmas, we took down all of our indoor and outdoor decorations, but I left the crystal wreath on the front door.  I decided that it was more of seasonal adornment than a specifically Christmas-themed decoration.  What's the harm, I figured, in keeping it up, especially since it looks so beautiful when the light reflects off the glass crystals?

But then today, out of nowhere, it hit me.  Mother Nature has seen the wreath still hanging on the door, celebrating all that is winter, so she thinks I'm enjoying the snow, the ice and the cold.  She's not punishing me with what seems to be the never ending winter, she's giving me what she thinks I want.  How could I not have seen this before?

So this afternoon, I am taking the wreath off the door.  Before I do, I consulted with the weather forecast for the next five days.  You'll notice that snow or a rain/snow mix is predicted for two of these days.

If I'm right, by taking down the wreath, Mother Nature will get the hint and we won't get any more snow.

I can't say for sure whether the removal of the wreath will change the weather beyond my local area, we'll have to wait and see.  However, if it becomes suddenly spring-like where you live, you can blame me.


Sunday, March 6, 2011

Cutting Words

My husband and I were watching a cooking show the other day and one of the dishes the chef prepared was oatmeal layered with sauteed apples.  It looked good and since I have some apples that are starting to get a little soft, I thought I would make it for Sunday brunch.

While I was peeling the apples, I flashed back to a memory from thirty years ago.  I was at Girl Scout camp and I had been assigned to cooking duty.  I was asked to prepare the salad.  The scout leader handed me a bowl full of lettuce and assorted vegetables, a cutting board and a knife and told me to get started.  I washed everything, tore the lettuce into a big bowl, cut up the tomatoes and then started to peel a cucumber. 

"What are you doing?  Are you trying to cut yourself?"  she shrieked at me.  "Who on earth taught you to peel vegetables?"

"My mom,"  I answered, sheepishly.

"Well, it's wrong.  Hand it to me.  I'll do it."  She said, while my troop mates looked on uncomfortably.  "You can go set the tables."

I was about twelve years old when this exchange took place, but I was not new to cooking.  My mom had been letting me cook, with supervision, for two or three years by then.  I had peeled more than a few vegetables and I had done it the way my mom showed me, by using a paring knife held perpendicular to the vegetable and pulling it toward my thumb.  It was the she did it and the way both of my grandmothers did it.  I was pretty good at it and had never cut myself.

Courtesy of Google Images
I was upset about it, at the time.  The scout leader managed to make me feel stupid, embarrassed and insulted with her comment.  Most of all, I felt like she was insulting my mother by suggesting that she was incompetent and had taught me something dangerous.  I hadn't been enjoying camp much up to that point, but after that I was downright miserable.  I couldn't wait to go home.

Maybe it wasn't as much about what she said as the way she said it.  After all, when she asked who had taught me to peel vegetables, what did she think I was going to say?  Had I been a little older at the time, I don't think it would have bothered me, much.  I never liked her or enjoyed Girl Scouts after that.

It's probably silly that I remember that after all these years, but it really made an impact.  Words are powerful, and if you're not careful, you can cut someone, even if it is unintentional.

How about you?  Have you ever had a similar experience that stuck with you?


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

And The Winner Is.....

First of all, I'd like to thank you all for entering.  If you've been a follower of my blog for any length of time, you know I prefer the low tech approach of selecting a winner to a giveaway.   I think it's more fun and so does my daughter.

Here's what we did.  We listed all of the entries on little slips of paper, folded them in half and placed them in a bowl.  We shuffled them up really well and then my daughter closed her eyes and selected one.
The winner of the $40 CSN Stores Gift card is.......................L.B. of the blog Muddy Runner!  Congratulations!  I hope you enjoy your prize!


Statistically Speaking

Statistics are endlessly fascinating to me, especially when applied to real life situations, so I've decided to create a scenario that everyone can identify with to glimpse some of the mundane, funny and downright strange statistics I've found.

Our scenario, for this example, is going to be the supermarket on a weekend afternoon.  We're going to assume there are 100 people, including employees, milling around the store and parking lot.  Based on percentage statistics (which I admit may not translate accurately to a number as small as 100, but work with me here), you would likely rub elbows with:

10 people who have been involved in a menage a trois
1 person who bites their toenails
40 people who make New Years resolutions
25 people who are afraid of spiders
1 person who can ride a unicycle
31 men and 14 women who sleep nude
1 person who practices a vegan lifestyle
3 people who are ambidextrous
17 people who talk to themselves
75 people who are dehydrated
19 people who have travelled outside of the US in the past year
56 women and 38 men who believe in ghosts
3 people who have been to a Barry Manilow concert
27 people who are left handed
3 twins (just because the term "twins" relates to an even number doesn't mean they shop together!)
2 people who can juggle three or more objects
5 people who think they've been abducted by aliens
33 people who don't wash their hands after using a public restroom
65 people who can roll their tongues
25 people who name salsa as their favorite condiment
41 people who like Justin Bieber
24 people who have at least one tattoo
75 people who like roller coasters
50 people who's second toe is longer than their big toe
3 people who are severely allergic to bee stings

Did any of those numbers surprise you?  Did you see yourself once or twice?  Think about it next time you go to the supermarket!


I will be choosing a random winner of the CSN Stores $40 giftcard giveaway later today.  If you haven't entered yet, or would like to enter again, you have until 7:00 pm Eastern Time to enter.  Click here for more info.  Good luck!