Camping, Candy and Couponing

Pimp My Kennel

 In anticipation of our camping trip I got back Abby’s old kennel from a friend who had borrowed it so that Smokey would have her own little place to hang out while away.  Most of the stuff in it had belonged to Monsoon.  I attached the hammock with paper clips so that it would be low enough for her to climb into.  On the bottom is a polar fleece blankie and a polar fleece lined sleep sack.   I’ve also grabbed a blanket to throw over the cage at night for extra warmth.  This little desert dweller is just not used to the cold.

Both Abby and Smokey couldn’t keep away from the kennel this morning.  Everytime I walked out into the livingroom the two of them were in close proximity of it.  Smokey was in it exploring when she thought it would be a good idea to stand up on her hind legs while clinging to the door with her front paws.  The weight of her little body pushed the door open with her still holding on and she flew forward before falling flat on her tummy.  She seem to be in a state of surprise.  Wish I had gotten it on camera.  It was very funny.

The animals seem to sense that something is going on.  Abby especially can sense it.  I’m not sure how it is they pick this up but they do.  Smokey ran around with an air of excitement, too.  I swear sometimes they are part human.

According to hubby, there is snow on the ground where we are going.  He works in construction and had been talking to a trucker that had just come from there.  I’m not sure if there will be much on the ground when we get there but I wouldn’t mind at all if there were.

My MIL is not coming with us now because our nephew’s (her grandson) wife is having a baby shower this Saturday.  As this is their 4th child MIL had planned on still coming with us.  I think she was feeling some pressure from the rest of the family so she felt she needed to attend.  I felt very bad for her.  She called last night and I could just hear the disappointment in her voice.  My goodness, she is in her mid-70s now, has 5 children, 12 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren.  Is it really necessary for her to attend one more shower at this point?  Hubby was going to talk to her again today to see if he could persuade her to still come.

Adventures in Couponing

So last night after looking over the weekly circulars to see what was on sale I headed on over to Walgreens with my coupons to get some Halloween candy.  I thought I was getting quite the bargain by combining sale prices with a few coupons I had.  Fail.  Once I got home I still had the CVS circular sitting on the counter and saw that I would’ve gotten the same amount of candy for almost half of what I paid at Walgreens.  Live and learn.  This is really my first time messing with this stuff so I won’t beat myself up too badly. 

 After this I headed over to the grocery store to pick up some things we needed for camping.  I had a list of things I needed and I also was working within a budget.  What was really neat was that I was actually able to get some brand name items for cheaper than the store brand items that I usually buy.  That is a treat.  We’ve gotten used to the store brands, which is fine.  It’s sort of like getting used to drinking skim milk because its better for you than whole milk. 

All in all I was pretty happy with the result of this.  Between Halloween candy and groceries for the weekend I saved $13.  While not a huge chunk of change that’s still $13 more than I would have had if I hadn’t have planned ahead.    It really took a minimal amount of time to go through the circulars.  Most stores even have them online now.  Cutting coupons has been something I’ve done for years so I keep them in an envelope in my purse.  It also helps that I live in close proximity to three separate grocery chains and two drug store chains that also carry groceries,  so I’m not defeating the purpose by driving all over town.  I’m looking forward to the next trip.  My goal is to save more than $13 next time.  We’ll see what the Sunday paper brings.

 

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The Shady Dell – A Ghostly Tale

This is an another story from Bisbee, AZ that took place back in the spring of 2009.  I was truly terrified!

Over this past weekend I went down to Bisbee, AZ for a yearly trip I take with some girlfriends. Bisbee is an old mining town and the locals say there are more spirits than people. The town has quite the history.

For a change of pace we decided to stay at The Shady Dell campground which features a series of refurbished campers from the 1940s and 1950s that you can rent.  We decided on the Tiki Bus which is a converted 1947 bus done up in Polynesian style, complete with Tiki gods and a grass roof on the inside.  One thing I happened to notice is that this campground is at the edge of an old cemetery.  I didn’t think much about it though.

We arrived this past Friday and marveled at the outdoor bar and all the antiques inside, including old music records and funky 1950s lamps.  After relaxing for a while we three decided to hit the hay.  The bus has one full twin mattress and one smaller twin mattress.  Both are located across from each other.  I shared the larger bed with one of my friends and decided that I would sleep on the inside closest to the wall.  It was a windy night and the trees above the bus kept scraping the metal roof.  It was very loud at times.  After about an hour of sleep I woke up.  The mattress was very uncomfortable.

I laid there awake for some time when all of a sudden I heard what sounded like nails scratching down the side of the mattress.  Now I have a pet ferret who likes to climb on things.  The sound was identical to when she is trying to climb up on the bed and loses her footing.  The only problem was my ferret was at home.  My blood went completely cold.  I tried to reason with myself that it was the wind outside.  But then again, this sound was only inches from my face and it was definitely the sound of scratching on fabric –not metal.  Now my heart is beating out of my chest.  I calmed myself down when I started to feel something moving in the mattress.  I could hear it through the pillow.  What the heck is that?  After repeating the Lord’s Prayer several times, I convinced myself that it was the springs in the mattress.  After all, I thought, everything in here is vintage.  Why not the mattress?

I turned over on my back and started to feel like things were touching my face and hands.  It felt like a spider web at first and then graduated to what felt like someone sprinkling sand over my face.  I’d go to wipe it away and nothing was there.  Let me say that at this point I was completely terrified.  In addition to the Lord’s Prayer, I conjured up every prayer I had learned as a child and said them over and over again in my mind until what ever it was went away.  After what seem like an eternity, the sun came up.  I’ve never been so grateful!

One of my girlfriends went down to the restroom to take a shower and I let my other girlfriend know about the strange experience.  She and I lifted the mattress up to find that it was a futon mattress –no springs.  So that ended that theory.  I had also thought that maybe an animal had gotten into the platform the bed was at from the wheel well of the old bus.  Then I discovered that the wheel wells were not even close to where we slept.  I only told her about the scratching sounds and the feeling of movement through the mattress. I  did not mention the feeling of stuff falling on my face (this will come into play later).

After a wonderful breakfast at Dot’s Diner, which is a restored 1950’s diner on the premises, we spent the day downtown and explored the shops and galleries.  My birthday was last week so my girlfriends decided they wanted to take me out to dinner.  We ended up at the Copper Queen Hotel, which is the oldest continuously running hotel in Arizona.  They first opened their doors in 1902 when it was built for executives from the Phelps Dodge Corporation who ran the nearby mines.  I would also like to mention that Ghost Hunters did an investigation there a few years ago.  I actually got to meet the lady who accompanied them around the hotel on a different visit to Bisbee.

After dinner we sat on the patio to people watch and enjoy a few drinks.  I got up to use the lady’s room which consists of two stalls.  In the stall next to mine the toilet suddenly flushed.  That’s funny, I thought.  I didn’t think anyone else was in here.  I waited to hear if someone would exit but there was nothing.  Only silence.  I went to wash my hands and noticed that the other stall door was open and there indeed was no one in there. Needless to say I finished up quickly and went back to join my friends.

All day long I was dreading sleeping on that bus.  I thought about sleeping in my friend’s car.  Later in the night we stayed up playing dominoes.  I didn’t feel quite as frightened as the night before.  When it was time to go to sleep, my friends were nice enough to let me have the smaller twin bed. My one girlfriend who I had relayed the experiences to of the night before, decided to sleep in the spot I had then.

It took a long time for me to fall asleep but when I did I was awoken to sound of a gasp/scream from the girlfriend that stayed in the same spot I had on the larger bed.  I asked her if she was okay.  She said, yeah, bad dream.

In the morning she told me she had dreamt that she was being buried alive in a coffin and could literally feel -get this- like sand was falling on her where she was being covered up.  I had never told her that part.  I still haven’t.  I didn’t want to freak her out.

Most of the weekend I spent on the unnerved side.  I’ve been to Bisbee many times and although I have written about one other occurrence, it really wasn’t as terrifying as this.  The campground itself is very cool.  I highly recommend it.  Just beware that people there talk about the ghosts as if they may mention the weather.  I would definitely go back but I would think twice about ever sleeping on the Tiki Bus again!

Here is their web site: http://www.theshadydell.com.

Bake Quest for October: German Style Bratwurst with Sauerkraut & Apples

This recipe came from the Rival Crock Pot Cookbook published in 2006.  This recipe was very easy to throw together and was quite delicious.  Perfect for Oktoberfest!  I halved it where I have a smaller crock pot but the recipe here is for the full amount of ingredients.

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds bratwurst
  • 2 pounds sauerkraut
  • 6 apples, peeled and sliced thin
  • 1 white onion, sliced thin
  • 1/2 tablespoon caraway seeds
  • Fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • 5 bottles German-style beer

Add all ingredients to the crock pot.  Cover and cook on low for 4 to 6 hours or until apples and onions are soft.  Makes 6 to 8 servings.  Enjoy!

 

Post Race and A Penny Saved

Saturday was the morning of the 5k race.  It was a lot warmer this year than it was last year.  Athletica picked me up and we headed over to South Mountain park early that morning.  I didn’t officially sign up so I just grabbed my bib from last year so I’d at least look like I belonged.  The only difference was the color in the numbers.  Last year was black and this year was red.  A man dressed as Wyatt Earp shot a gun and we were off into the early morning dawn.  I definitely was not in the best of shape for the run and tired quickly.  Where I didn’t officially sign up for it I didn’t feel this extreme need to keep up the pace.

After 50 yards or so from the start line, a little boy around 6 or 7 who was running along side his Mom started saying things that at first started to crack me up.  “This was not my best start,” he announced.  Then, “I think I am wearing the wrong shoes.”  Followed by, “My feet are hurting.”  At that point I decided to speed up ahead.  While funny at first, with running I find I really need to concentrate on breathing and finding a groove to keep going.  His words were only making me remember how not in shape I felt to run this race, and that, dang, my feet were starting to hurt, too!  I didn’t see the little boy again but I’m guessing they made it to the finish line some time later. 

There is a massive hill in this race which for some reason I don’t quite remember it being quite so steep.  My shins have been complaining ever since.  I asked Athletica later if it was the same course as last year and she said, yes, it was.  It’s funny how the mind tends to forget these things.  I made it to the end in about 37 minutes which isn’t my worst (that would be Tucson back in June) but it wasn’t my best either.  One thing about races is that they can become addictive.  The next one is in December so I will be training for that one for sure.  Following that is one in early February up in Sedona. 

Saturday evening hubby took me to dinner which was very nice.  We had sushi.  We realized, too, that it had been some time since we had been out to a restaurant.  I suppose that is not a bad thing since we’ve been eating more meals at home and not out.  Later on that night I met Athletica for a Drive In movie.  We saw Paranormal Activity 3 which was horrible.  When those in cars around you start yelling expletives at that giant screen its a sure sign you pulled into the wrong lot.  I still don’t quite get the plot.  Athletica and I were discussing this in the car on the way home and we could not make heads or tails of it.  It was just that bad.

Yesterday I picked up a carbon monoxide detector for the camper.  Our old one broke and where we will be camping soon in cold weather, the windows will be shut.  It came with a fire alarm as well.  Even though we have one already I suppose one can never be too careful.  I made the reservation today for the trip *doing the happy dance* and can’t wait.    

Later on in the afternoon I was cleaning out the Girl Cave in anticipation of a couple of friends who will be coming to visit in a couple of weeks and just happen to turn the tv on to TLC.  Extreme Couponing was on.  I had never seen this before but had heard of it.  It caught my attention so I sat down for a few minutes to see what it was about.  Families had built shelving units in their garages and basements to store all their purchases.  One couple had 45 bags of potato chips but I’m really uncertain why one would need so many in the first place.  Is it more the thrill of the deal?  It showed ladies going to the grocery store and filling multiple carriages with all sorts of groceries.  It was an all day event.  They would plan this for weeks and have everything outlined in a spreadsheet beforehand.  Their total would be something like $1000+ and with all the coupons they would use, the bill would drop down to a minor $25 purchase.  I do use coupons to save money but what I’ve been wondering since watching this is, is this real?  I mean is this kind of ‘enhanced’ for television?  Out of curiosity I went through the Sunday paper and took out all the circulars, including both grocery stores and retailers like CVS, Walgreens and Target.   While I’m not 100% sure on how much these people on the reality show are really saving, I wonder if there really is some kind of strategy to this.

While it’s just the two of us at home (and 2 perpetually hungry fur kids) I started thinking about the types of things we use and wondered if I were to put some more thought and attention into this that I might be able to save us money in the long run.  I don’t need a case of peas or stuff like that.  We tend to eat a lot of fresh veggies and fruit so that ones a no brainer.  However, there are things like tissue and toothpaste, not to mention laundry detergent, that we go through quite often.  I saw at CVS that if you purchased certain ‘buy one get one free’ items you get these Reward Bucks that can be used as cash on your next purchase.  So I thought to myself, what if I took advantage of that, made one purchase to pay for the things I needed and then turned around right after that and used the Reward Bucks on a few other things all in the same trip?  Out of convenience I shop at the same store every Saturday regardless of whats on sale.  Could I really save us some money if I put a little time and effort into it?  I’m willing to give it a shot.    Of course I won’t be spending money on the prepackaged stuff but this would be on a much much smaller scale than what they show on tv.  We won’t be building extra shelving or holding up any lines while we purchase 18 million rolls of toilet paper.  I’ll be really curious to see how this works.  Or if it works.  I will post my results.  The circulars come out usually on Sunday mornings but are posted on Thursday evenings on Couponmom.com.  We shall see.

Was It The Ghost of A Miner?

At the end of this past March (2008), my sister, her boyfriend (now husband), my husband and I took a trip to Bisbee, Arizona for a weekend of camping.   Bisbee was known as a mining town throughout the Southwest in the late 1800s.   The Copper Queen mine opened up in the 1880s and the town became populated almost overnight with miners, saloon owners, and ladies of the evening.   A lot of the original miner’s cabins are still standing and there are quite a few stone foundations left from the ones that have crumbled.   These foundations dot the hillside like a rugged constellation.

In 1975 this mine closed for good ending an era that more often than not, contained three or more generations of people who had worked there. When the miners moved out, the artists and hippies moved in creating a laid-back, fun and historical place to visit and shop.

After an afternoon of sightseeing, the four of us returned to our campsite that was stationed directly to the left of the Copper Queen Mine.  There are tours that still take place in this now defunct mine and to give you an idea of how close we were to the mine, we had to cut through the mine’s parking lot to get to our campsite.   After enjoying s’mores and some music, we decided to all turn in for the night.   My sister and her boyfriend slept in a tent, and my husband and I turned in to our camper.   I had left the door unlocked just incase my sister and her boyfriend might need anything during the night.   I often read before going to bed and did so this night before I started to get tired and decided to turn off the lights.

While waiting for sleep to come, I heard the camper door open and someone come in.   I didn’t open my eyes assuming it was my sister’s boyfriend that had forgotten something inside.  I heard heavy footsteps which I assumed were hiking boots, walk to the end of the camper, back again, and then the door opened and closed.  It sounded like a man wearing heavy boots. I fell asleep and didn’t think much more about it.

In the morning I asked both my sister and her boyfriend what they had forgotten in the camper the night before.  They both looked at me blankly and said that they both had gone right to sleep after turning in.  I asked them if they were sure and they both said yes, they were sure.  My husband is also the type that will fall asleep within 10 seconds of closing his eyes so he didn’t hear it either.  So if everyone was asleep, then who or what had walked through the camper?  Could it have been the ghost of a miner that was checking us out? I have no idea. I do know that I was completely awake and I had not been drinking.

Ghost of a Miner

Another thing was that this ‘person’ did not turn on any lights. It was pitch black in there. They also walked in and walked out. I was expecting to hear a bag unzip but it was only the footsteps.

I’ve attached a picture of Bisbee. The town is literally carved into the hillside. If you look across to the mountain, there is a cave in the wall. Although you can’t really see it, the campground and Queen Mine entrance is located to the lower left of that mountain.

Update on Thursday

Its been somewhat of a whirlwind around these parts since returning from Florida almost a month ago.  I have found myself to be incredibly busy both at work and at home.  Although it does make the days go by incredibly fast I’m hoping that things will slow down a bit going forward.

We have a camping trip planned soon and I’m really starting to look forward to that.  My MIL is coming with us again so I hope she will enjoy herself just as much as she did when she came for the big Labor Day weekend trip.  We will be heading up to the mountains where the highs during the day will be in the 50s and the lows will be in the 20s.  Brrrr!  This will also be Smokey’s first camping trip.  I hope she will do okay.  My main concern is that she is warm enough.  I did find a ferret jacket (yeah, they do make and sell them believe or not) but I’m not sure if she would keep it on.

  Here it is.  It’s kind of cute but I admit feeling kind of silly.  I mean, come on.  A jacket for a ferret?  Anyway, shipping cost almost as much as the jacket itself so I think I might just take an old sock and cut some holes for her front legs and head.  And of course she won’t care what all the ferrets in Paris are wearing this Fall.  She’s kind of like her Mom that way.

Recently I read online about a girl who takes her ferrets everywhere.  She had been on vacation at a lake somewhere and she had pictures of her ferrets out and about on the lawn and running beside the lake.  She was also in a little row-boat with her husband and ferrets when the ferrets decided to jump in for a swim.  She jumped in after them and they all swam the rest of the way to the shore (not sure how far away from the shore they were).  People had asked her if she was concerned for her animals.  There are predators in the sky and just so many things ferrets can get into.  She said that she felt that she needed to take some risks with them because they can’t be cooped up in the house all day.  Their lives are so short that they need to get out. 

This really stuck with me.  Monsoon was very sheltered.  I don’t think I have ever kept such a close careful eye on any of my pets like I did with Monsoon.  Smokey has started accompanying us on our early morning weekend walks.  The first weekend I tried it with her she kept slipping out of her harness so I had to hold her most of the way.  This past weekend I found a harness that fits well around her skinny little body and that seem to do the trick.  She would follow behind me until she heard a dog bark or a rooster crow.  Then she would freeze and I’d have to carry her for a while.  I’m excited that she is going to experience camping.  While I will still keep a close eye on her I feel good about bringing her out to different places for her to explore.  I want her to experience different smells and to be able to dig in the dirt if she chooses.

Out For A Walk

This Saturday there is another 5k race which will be the first of the season.  The last one I did was down in Tucson on a crazy hot night back in early June.  I don’t feel particularly prepared for this one so we’ll see how it goes.  This one I did a year ago and a part of it is uphill.  Athletica has been training like mad for all these upcoming races.  She has been getting up at 4am to run 8 miles each morning before work. 

While I absolutely love my job, I seem to have entered into a strange phase.  There has been a lot of back tracking lately on certain things.  A few weeks ago I transposed a number in a client’s phone number that was listed on at least 100+ pages of documentation I had given him.  This resulted in having to have the client come back in with all his paperwork while I restapled the page with the corrected number back into the packet.  Luckily this error was only on the last page and not somewhere in the middle.  Another client wanted changes to a document but I was able to talk her out of it luckily as it was in her best interest to leave things ‘as is’.  And yet another client wanted extensive changes to a document that our contractor wasn’t happy about.  In this case the client was in the right.  These are all normal things that happen.  It just seems like lately there have been lots of fires to put out.  It’s definitely keeping me on my toes!

The weather here has been beautiful.  The days are still warm, with temps hovering around 100 degrees, but the nights are just gorgeous.  The winter comforter hasn’t made its way back to the bed yet but I have had to throw an extra blanket on to feel comfortable.  One thing I notice is that in October the light really starts to change.  While we don’t have many trees here to witness Fall foliage on, the evening sun casts an orange glow on the mountains surrounding the city and everything for a few glorious moments appears to be golden.  So beautiful and so different.  It can only be Fall in the desert.

Two girlfriends of mine will be visiting in a few weeks from back east.  One is coming to attend a conference and the other heard we were getting together and wanted to come, too.  The first one is the same friend I met in Florida a few weeks ago.  We’ve been friends since second grade.  It’s kind of funny that we hadn’t seen each other in 4 years and now we will have seen each other twice in a matter of months.  The other girlfriend I have known since highschool.  She is flying in from Boston. 

The plan is to go down to Tombstone and Bisbee, AZ for sightseeing, and then head over to Sonoita for the wine tastings.  We will most likely do a ghost tour in Tombstone which is supposed to be one of the most haunted places in the US.  While the paranormal aspect of it is interesting, what I like about these tours is learning the history of a place and also some of the local folklore.   

Halloween is right around the corner.  We have no plans for any parties.  Most of our friends have kids so the concentration tends to be more on kid related activities.  I am,  however, sitting outside with my next-door neighbor to pass out candy to the kids.  We may dress up.  We haven’t decided yet.  Last year we forewent our yearly Halloween activity because she was working.  The tradition is that we set up a table for snacks for us and whatever adult wants to join us, and then we drink pumpkin beer out of plastic cups (we want to at least give the impression that we are responsible adults).  In the early days of our Halloween get togethers in her driveway, we didn’t disguise our beer bottles.  One year a parent grabbed his kid’s pillow case and held it open in hopes we would drop a beer in it.  We all got a good laugh over that.  In later years we thought it best to place it in plastic cups so kids coming over for candy would have a hopefully better image of their neighbor ladies. 

Bake Quest for October: Apple Crisp

 After purchasing all those apples over the weekend I was unsure on what to do with what I had left.  Upon checking the pantry I noticed that I had all the ingredients needed to make an apple crisp.

 With the demise of my last cell phone, I went ahead and purchased an Android phone and discovered a free app called ‘Recipes’ by allthecooks.com.  You type in an ingredient and every recipe with that ingredient pops up.  When you are finished trying the recipe, you can upload a picture to the site and write a review (to the left is the actual picture I used for the review).  There is an area also to create a profile and to also chat in a forum.  I highly recommend this if you have an Android phone.  If not then I’m guessing they have a regular site you can check out as well.

 

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups sliced tart apples (about 4 medium) -I used MacIntosh because I still had so many of them
  • 2/3 to 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/3 butter, softened
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp ground nutmeg

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Arrange apples in greased square 8x8x2 pan.  Mix remaining ingredients; sprinkle over apples.  Bake until topping is golden brown and apples are tender, about 30 minutes.

Serves 6.  Serve while still warm with whipped topping or vanilla ice cream.  Enjoy!

https://akamonsoon.wordpress.com/2011/10/05/bake-quest-11-for-october/