A Weekend In The Woods

We arrived late Friday night to the White Mountains of Arizona.  We pretty much set up camp, had some dinner and went to bed.  Saturday morning while sitting outside with our coffee, I noticed the dirt moving near the fire pit when all of a sudden out popped this cute, little, fuzzy, gray mole face.  Apparently he was curious to his new visitors.  It didn’t take Abby long to figure out that there was something in there.  She stuffed her snout as far in as she could. 

A few minutes later the mole popped his head up from a hole a few yards away and watched Abby furiously dig at the ground.  I wondered if he was upset that all his hard work was being undone by a curious pooch.  I think he was mostly curious though.  I wish I had gotten a picture of the mole. 

Smokey did really well camping.  I did end up finding her a sweater, in the garage no less.  It must have belonged to one of my other ferrets at one point.  It was too bulky though and really impeded her ability to move her front paws.  The nights were really chilly.  We wore our winter clothes.  But the days were fantastic. 

A girlfriend of mine saw this same picture of Smokey on Facebook and asked if we had caught a squirrel while away.  I had to explain to her that this was my ferret; a much beloved pet.  Too funny.  Smokes loved camping.  She is such a little climber so I had to really keep an eye on her while out.  Sunday morning, while doing dishes, I turned around and she was up on the kitchen table with her nose in my coffee.  Little monster.  Luckily she is so darn cute.

She and Abby both did really well.  This time we stayed at a campsite so Abby didn’t have the luxury of running free.  Smokey sniffed around the campsite and when she was done she would stand up against my pant leg.  Two little girls from a neighboring campsite came by with their Dad to check out Smokey.  Smokey loved the attention.

Saturday was the perfect quintessential Fall day.  We had always passed by a sign in the small town of Strawberry that pointed out a historic school-house.  For some reason my pictures of the outside of it will not load onto WordPress.  This new camera phone has been very tricky.  I did, however, get a picture of the inside from the window. 

It’s not the best picture.  You can probably see my reflection in the glass but it shows a little of what was inside.  What you can’t see is the pot-bellied stove near the front.  This school was in operation from the late 1800s to the early 1900s. 

While we were there Hubby noticed a sign for a dairy up the street that sold cheese and fudge.  The man can smell food from a mile away, I swear.  We headed a few miles up the road where the asphalt gradually turned to dirt, until we came to Fossil Creek Creamery.

The creamery sold items made from goat’s milk.  Here are a few of the welcoming committee.  They also had llamas, including one I got to lead.  She was really adorable.  All white with a permanent smile on her face. 

Of course we didn’t leave without making a few purchases.  We bought goat cheese flavored with shiraz wine and marion berries, goat milk fudge with pecans, and then a few caramels to eat in the car.  We also purchased this hot garlic sauce that came in a small mason jar and was out of this world good.

We drove back into town via the dirt road.  The breeze picked up just as we were getting ready to pass a tree full of bright yellow leaves.  They flew over the truck and their scent mingled with the warm air.  For a second I thought I was back in New England. 

After that we stopped at a small market and a gentleman was selling homemade mango salsa and homemade tortilla chips.  He wore a Hawaiian print shirt which was as vibrant as his personality.  We sampled a few of his wares and purchased some salsa and chips (it was not a low-calorie weekend by any stretch).  There was a cozy little restaurant tucked into the ponderosa pines that we also have passed quite a few times.  Today we stopped for lunch.  It was really nice to sit and have a sandwich while drinking a cold Guinness.

We returned to the camper where Smokey was sound asleep.  I don’t think she even noticed we were gone.  Hubby took Abby for a walk and I took a nap.  We prepared a hearty beef stew dinner in the crock pot (thanks Zoom!) for later that night and ate it with crusty wheat bread.  It was delicious! 

My parents are making me wear this dorky jacket.

The night was really cold.  I haven’t worn a winter hat since visiting Alaska a few years ago.  We dressed Abby in her jacket and Smokes just stayed in the camper.  I meant to mention that when we got up on Saturday there was still some snow visible in the shadier areas. 

Hubby thought it would be great to bring the satellite tv hook up.  I was hoping he wouldn’t but didn’t say anything.  He tried setting it up Saturday morning and it just wasn’t working.  He spent some time on the phone with customer service who insisted it was the box.  He knew that wasn’t it.  I have to admit, I was secretly relieved that it didn’t work.  It was so peaceful up there and there were only a few other campers near us as it is off-season.  On Sunday morning, while packing up, he discovered there was a slice in the cable line which was probably the real reason it didn’t work.  Such is life.  And no, it wasn’t me that placed the slice in the cable.  😉

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.


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.


  • 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!


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 #11 for October

The suggestions are in and here’s what we have:

  • Create or share a recipe made in a slow cooker/crock pot
  • Make something using maple syrup (preferably the real stuff but I know it gets expensive)
  • Make your favorite baked goods.  This can include cookies, breads, pies and rolls











The rules are to make a recipe or provide your own take on one of the items listed above.

When posting your recipe, include any helpful hints you may have found, like for instance, say a recipe says that it yields a certain amount but you found that it produced more or less, etc…  Also, give credit to the recipe provider.  It doesn’t matter if it’s your great aunt’s recipe or it came from a cook book.   If you’ve stumbled across this page and would like to participate, please leave a comment and I’ll add you to the blog roll.

Please feel free to bookmark this posting.  Once you’ve posted your recipe for the month if you would like, include a link back to this page.  That way everyone participating can check out your creation.  Have fun!


Wednesday Update

Tomorrow I leave for Florida for a fun girls weekend with my best friend that I have not seen since her wedding almost 4 years ago.  I will admit that I feel a little pang leaving hubby here for the weekend.  The town where we are going is St. Augustine, which boasts tons of history.  Hubby loves history and I know he would really enjoy this place.  The plan is to fly into Tampa tomorrow to meet my friend.  Then she and I will drive to St. Augustine to stay at my Aunt’s condo on the beach. 

My Mom sent an email with what she heard the weather should be like there.  She said it would be in the 80s which would feel like winter to me.  I wrote back and told her I planned on packing my winter sweaters.  Of course I am kidding, but when temps are 100 f or above most of the year, 80 degrees starts to feel cool.  60 degrees is downright frigid!  Brrrr.

This past Saturday I finally caved and took my buttinski down to the urgent care center to see why it is I’m still coughing and dragging after a month. It was determined that I have some kind of infection.  Sinus?  Bronchial?  I really don’t know.  I just want it to go away.  The doctor started me on a Z pack which I also started on Saturday and finished today.  I have to admit that I’m really not feeling all that much better.  Even as I type I am resisting the urge to put my head down.  Maybe this will be one of those delayed reaction medications.  We’ll see.  Tonight I have a hair appointment after work which I have been looking forward to but it is feeling more like a chore I don’t want to do rather than being something relaxing.

While going on antibiotics is usually last resort, I like to give homeopathic remedies a try.  My favorite so far is apple cider vinegar.  Ear infection coming on?  Place a few drops in the afflicted ear, wait about 10 minutes or so and then let drain.  I started making a tea adding 2 tablespoons of the vinegar to an 8 oz cup of boiling water.  This really helps to clear up any congestion.  The problem I had was that I couldn’t really take it consistently while at work because the stuff smells so bad and I didn’t want to be meeting clients smelling like Easter eggs.  At night though I will fix a cup and it is really great stuff.  It doesn’t taste the greatest but it does offer up some relief for upper and lower respiratory stuff.  My Grandfather swore by it.

 Race season is also upon us and due to the aforementioned cold/infection/bubonic plague, I have not been actively keeping up with the regular exercise routine.  It was a relief at the doctors when I was weighed and hadn’t gained anything despite the diet debauchery that took place over Labor Day weekend while camping.  Hopefully after a few days of fun in the sun I will be feeling up to par again.

 We had our niece and her family over for dinner this past weekend.  It’s so nice to see her so happy.  She and her husband have two kiddos; a little girl who is almost 6, and a little boy, 15 months.  The little guy tore through our house like a mini tornado.  I have not seen that much energy exhibited in such a small package in quite some time.  He was absolutely adorable though.  My niece mentioned how my MIL thought the little guy resembled hubby as a baby.  From the pictures I have seen I can definitely agree with that.  Also, this little munchkin managed to somehow push the screen off the sliding doors which missed my head by inches.  Even Abby, who loves children, was walking with a limp at the end of the night.  I was instantly reminded of how when hubby and I were first dating, the wine glass population diminished to a mere glass after about six months or so.  I can only deduce that it must run in the family.

Temps here are slowly starting to cool down.  Cool being a relative term.  Nights are comfortable and days so far are either in the high 90s or low 100s, and it is dry, dry, dry!   Finally!  We will be camping up north in a few weeks and already we are looking forward to beef stew and warm clothing by a blazing fire.  Fall is just the best!




“For man, autumn is a time of harvest, of gathering together. 
For nature, it is a time of sowing, of scattering abroad.”
–   Edwin Way Teale

“I cannot endure to waste anything as precious as autumn sunshine by staying in the house. 
So I spend almost all the daylight hours in the open air.
–  Nathaniel Hawthorne









“Delicious autumn!  My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth
seeking the successive autumns.”
–   George Eliot









“Once more the liberal year laughs out
O’er richer stores than gems or gold:
Once more with harvest song and shout
Is nature’s boldest triumph told.”
–   John Greenleaf Whittier