Thursday, May 31, 2012

Chablis & Her Custom Rod

As many of you know, Chablis graduated from college last weekend.  We wanted to give her a special gift, something a little out of the ordinary that would fit her personality and passion.  Louie hit upon the perfect idea, and the only thing we had to do was find someone to make it.

Enter The Outdoor Blogger Network.

I knew that with their extensive database of outdoor minded bloggers, I would find somebody to help us fulfill our dream.  And I found the perfect person - Ed from over at The Four Season Angler.

I shot an email off and told him what I was looking for.  We wrote back and forth, throwing some ideas around and then finalized everything over the phone.  Ed was very easy to work with, had some great input and assured me that our gift would be in hand well before Chablis' graduation date.  Ed is a man of his word and we could not have been more pleased with the final product.

Here's Chablis opening her brand new, custom made, pink fishing rod!

She absolutely loved it!  I have to mention that I had a rod made for Louie about 25 years ago.  It's his favorite bluegill rod and has held up very well over the years.  In fact, Chablis usually tries to grab it and fish with it.  So now she won't have to, as she has her own little bluegill catcher of her own.  Her favorite color is pink, so that was an important feature to us.  It's ultra light weight and 6'6" long.

Ed even found a pink reel to round out the set.

Look at the beautiful eyes and the colored thread wrapping....

Take a closer look at the cork handle and the adorable little bluegill photo embedded in the cork.

The final touch tho is this.......

This rod is beautifully made, from top to bottom.  Ed did an excellent job on it and we couldn't be more pleased.  Chablis was genuinely surprised and has a special gift that she can cherish for years to come.  I can't wait to get her out on the lake and see how many bluegill she catches with it.  I'm sure she'll catch a bunch.

If you're interested in having one of these beauties made for yourself, I highly recommend Ed.  You can contact him through his blog, The Four Season Angler or through his FB page.

Ed, thank you so much for making our vision a reality.  Chablis loves it!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Amazing Tub Cleaner

Ok, I have found the BEST tub cleaner I've ever used.  We have a jacuzzi tub, and it's quite large.  I hate to clean it.  You know how it gets that soap scum that is hard to get off?  I have used every commerical product out there and can not find anything that gets it all off without me having to scrub my fingers to the bone.  My back is usually ready to break from bending over the damn tub for so long trying to get it clean.

No more!  A couple of weeks ago I pinned something from over at the site that screamed "Tub & Shower Magic."  Now this was something that I had to try.  Check this out - TWO ingredients....

  • Take 12oz. vinegar and heat it up in the microwave.
  • Pour it into a squirt bottle.
  • Add 12 oz. blue Dawn liquid detergent.  I bought the advanced soaking power because that's what they had at Costco.
  • Shake it to mix it well.

Squirt it in your tub and watch out - wow!!  I tried it for the first time last week.  I sprayed it in the tub and let it sit there for about 10 minutes.  Frankly, I wasn't holding out much hope that it was going to work.  Well, I was wrong.

I will tell you it makes a nice soapy scrub.  And my tub shined when I was finished.  I was so happy that I got carried away and cleaned the sink, the toilet and the floor right away.  Chablis walked in the house just as I was finished and I was so excited about my clean tub that I yelled for her to come look at it.  Her exact words were "Holy crap!"

Look at the size of the vinegar and dawn bottles I bought.  I got them at Costco and they are huge.  They cost me less than $ 10.00 for both.  I have enough stuff left to make a years worth of Amazing Tub Cleaner that I will also use in the kitchen.  Now that's a giant savings.

Enough said!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Q & A With Standing Bear 5-29-12

Mike's wife, Broke, has joined him on the AT.

Brooke arrived around 8 last night.  We ordered some pizza and are taking a zero day here while we catch up on some errands.  I'm at mile marker 1,016.

Why did you pick the trail name Standing Bear?
I've been planning on writing a blog post about this, and hopefully will have it posted today.
 (brooke on the trail!)

Your wife, Brooke, is joining you.  How will this change your hiking pattern?
It will change in several ways.  First, Brooke does not have her "trail legs" yet so I'll need to hike fewer miles each day than I'm accustomed to until she is physically ready to do more.  On the flip side of that, however, is the advantage of being able to camp more often instead of using shelters.  When hiking alone, I felt it was safer to use the shelters and never camped out unless I was camping with other hikers (by "camping" I mean sleeping in the wild instead of using a shelter).  This was influenced in part by the movie "127 Hours" as camping alone means that no one knows where you are.  Now that my wife is here I can camp more and use shelters less.  This will affect my mileage because previously if the next two shelters were 10 miles and 24 miles away, I would do a 24 mile day because I didn't want to just do 10.  With my wife here now though, we could camp after 17 or 18 miles instead of feeling forced to go 24 to the shelter.

How often do you get to wash your clothes?
Once per week.

Do you brush your teeth every day?
Yes.  My toothbrush weighs less than an ounce.  I brush with water though and don't use toothpaste.  I also floss regularly.

What maps or guidebooks are you using?
I use the "AWOL" David Miller AT guide.  I started with the thru-hiker handbook but switched to AWOL's book because he shows the elevation profile and has more info and detail.
Did you read any books written by previous thru hikers prior to undertaking your hike?
Just Bill Bryson's book.  He is very funny but it was sad that he abandoned his thru-hike attempt after just 200 miles.  He quit so early, but then again so do many others.

Visit the Hike4kids FB page.

(all photos property of Mike Mclaughlin.  Do not reproduce without permission.)

Monday, May 28, 2012

Congratulations Chablis!

On Saturday my daughter graduated from college!

And she graduated Magna cum laude, of which I am so extremely proud of her.  School has never been easy for her.  In fact, when she was in grammar school I occasionally had my doubts on whether she'd finish high school.  She had a hard time with math - every single year.  She did poorly on any kind of test.  It took her hours to do her homework.  There was often crying and screaming and meltdowns involved.  I'm embarrassed to say that on more than one occasion I threw her math book across the kitchen in frustration.  School was never easy for her.

In high school she learned how to study.  She learned how to write really good papers.  She still suffered through math.  But she gained confidence. She studied for hours on end.  After the first semester of her freshman year, she managed to make the honor roll every time.

When she started college, she earned a scholarship to help pay for some of her tuition.  In order for her to keep the scholarship, she had to maintain a B average.  The pressure was on.  Again, math was a thorn in her side.  She studied, she cried, she had at least one melt down per semester.  "It's too hard, I hate school, I'll never finish," were all words that flew from her mouth multiple times.  She had a tutor, she went to math and science labs, she talked to her teachers, she learned to ask the right people for help.  And she did it!  She graduated with honors.  Because she believed in herself and she worked really hard.  She earned that Magna cum laude.

And along the way she learned to believe in herself and that she is smarter than she thinks.  She learned that nothing in life is going to be given to her and if she wants something, she is going to have to work for it.  Sometimes she has to work really hard.  But doesn't that make the victory that much sweeter?

Afterwards we had an awesome party with lots of family and friends.

Doesn't she look happy?  Congratulations Chablis - we are so proud of you!

Friday, May 25, 2012

How To Spell Family with COLEMAN

Do you know how to spell FAMILY?   I do - one of the ways I spell it is C.O.L.E.M.A.N.!

I was a kid in the 1960's.  And this Coleman thermos went with us on every single vacation that we ever took.  When that familiar green and white behemoth appeared on the kitchen table, we knew that a trip of some sort was on the horizon.  Mom would fill it with loads of ice and kool-aid, and it would get stuffed into the trunk alongside our suitcases and the picnic basket.  We'd hit the road with dad driving and mom riding shotgun, holding the map.  Most of our trips took place during the summer, so beaches and pools played a prominent role.  I guess that's why I love the water so much!

We drove up to Lake Delevan in Wisconsin during my earlier years and the Coleman thermos got carried along to the beach with us each day.  Our cottage was a couple of blocks from the water, so we'd pull on our bathing suits, roll our bathing caps into our beach towels, mom would grab the thermos, dad would handle the picnic basket and off we'd go.  We'd spend the day at the beach, leaving the water only long enough to swallow a couple of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and gulp a solo cup of nice cold kool- aid.  It was amazing how long that Coleman thermos would hold the ice.

When I got a little older we headed to Lake of the Ozarks, which involved an 8 hour drive.  After about 6 hours we'd pull over at the rest area and mom would spread the rose dappled tablecloth and pull sandwiches, pickles and brownies out of the picnic basket.  Again, that Coleman thermos would appear on the corner of the picnic table, the white spout hanging over the edge and we'd drink our fill of icy kool-aid.  I wish I had a dollar for every mile that old Coleman thermos traveled over the interstates during my formative years.

Another favorite Coleman item is this cooler......

The bottom of it has this stamp on it.....

Does that mean it was made in December of 1976?  Could I have possibly have had it that long?  Can that Coleman cooler possibly be that tough and AWESOME??  Hell yeah!  Look at it, - it has really taken a beating.....

How many miles do you think this Coleman cooler has traveled over the last 35 years??  How many beer cans, pop bottles, bags of ice, sandwiches, watermelons, and condiments do you think it has held?  If I could open the lid and let loose the memories it holds I would see the last 35 years of my life fly before my parties, camping trips, canoe excursions, road trips, birthday parties, my kids' baptisms and graduation parties, picnics and boat rides.  Geocaching, hiking, swimming, kayaking.....  My parents, my sisters, my husband, my kids, my friends....  Coleman in the trunk, in the back seat, on the deck, in the boat, strapped to the rear of the camper, on the picnic table, next to the campfire......  Talk about awesome!  It may be a little beat up, missing its handles and looking a little worn, but let me tell you, - it still performs!  Did I mention it's 35 years old??

Coleman products are reliable and dependable - just like my family.  Always there when I need them -just like my family.  And isn't that what family is really all about?

Yes, my life has been crammed with lots of family, travel and fun.  And a Coleman thermos and a Coleman Cooler have been with me every step of the way.  Yep, I know how to spell family - its COLEMAN!

“Sponsored by Coleman and hosted by the Outdoor Blogger Network, this is my submission for the Coleman Camping Heritage Essay Contest.”

Thank You to Coleman for bringing such an amazing contest and opportunity to the entire Outdoor Blogging Community!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Del's Shells - I'm a Winner!

Last week Della over at Del's Shells had a give away and I was one of the lucky winners!  Della was celebrating hitting 100 followers on her blog by giving away 2 of her gorgeous necklaces....

The shell she used is beautiful and really different.  It's called a heart cockle shell and it really does look like a heart.  The chain is a copper coated brass chain and she attached freshwater pearls and crystal beads.

When Della ships out her beautiful creations she takes great pride in her presentation.....

Della is working very hard to get items prepared for an extremely special event.  She was recently contacted by the UCF and has been invited to perform a seashell jewelry demonstration at an Agriculture event that is taking place in October of 2012.  People from all over the United States will get the unique opportunity to watch Della make her beautiful jewelry.  At the same time she can also sell her jewelry so she wants to have a good inventory of her one-of-a-kind items.  Each piece is hand made and slightly different.  I just know that she is going to be a huge success at the event.

Please stop by her blog and say hello and go over to her Etsy shop if you're looking for a gift for someone special in your life.

Thanks again for my beautiful necklace.  You know I'm your biggest fan!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Q & A With Standing Bear 5-22-12

If you haven't already heard, I am reporting on the progress of Mike as he hikes the AT in his pursuit to raise money for under privileged children.

Welcome to Q & A with Mike, aka Standing Bear, as he hikes the Appalachian Trail.  I'm going to be sending him questions from time to time and Mike's going to answer them when he stops in towns to re-supply.

Mike after 963 hiked miles....

What do you like the best about being on the trail?

I'm not really a big fan of hiking, so what I've liked best has been the many acts of kindness shown toward me by people along my hike.  I've had people invite me into their home, prepare me dinner, give me a ride into town, and hand me a Gatorade on a cold day.  It's nice to know there are so many people out there who are eager to help out!

What do you like the least?

Hiking in the rain is extremely unpleasant.  Even if you have raingear and waterproof shoes/boots, you will still get wet at some point.  The ground turns to mud and rocks become slippery, so you move slower and have a greater risk of falling down.  If you cannot make it to a shelter and have to set up your tarp or tent in the rain, that is even worse.  Many people have quit the trail after hiking just a few days in the rain.  It is downright demoralizing!  

Tell me your typical meals for a day.

Breakfast:  fiber-rich cereal with a Clif bar
Lunch:  5-6 Clif bars throughout the day
Dinner:  Tuna in virgin olive oil, peanut butter, and a Clif bar
When I get to a town, I load up on fruit and ice cream!!  I don't carry fruit on the trail because it is too heavy.

Are you cooking meals or eating all cold, raw food?

I am a "cold camper" which means I do not have a stove and eat all cold food.

How do you push yourself to keep going when you’re exhausted and want to quit for the day?

I don't typically have trouble pushing myself.  In fact, I typically have the opposite problem:  I push myself a little too hard.  Many, many times I have reached a shelter late in the day, looked at the time, and decided to push on to the next shelter even though I had little daylight left.  This often results in me showing up at the shelter after dark.  I almost always push on if there is daylight remaining because I figure whatever miles I don't hike today, I will have to hike at some point in the future.  Some people will stop at a shelter at 3 o'clock in the afternoon to socialize with other hikers and hang out.  It's great talking with other hikers, but my main priority is to finish the trail, so if it's daylight I'm almost always hiking!  

Do you listen to music or audio books while you’re hiking?

I have listened to music for about 10-20% of the hike.  I recently tried my first audiobook, The Trial by Kafka.  I enjoyed the book but it was difficult concentrating on the narration while trying to navigate rocks or difficult terrain.  The trail isn't always an easy path, and sometimes you really need to pay attention to where you're walking.  Music is easier because I can tune for a few minutes and simply miss a song instead of an important part of a book.

What part of the hike is more difficult than you expected it to be?

The elevation changes and climbing are much more difficult than I expected.  I knew the trail followed the mountains, but I expected to climb perhaps one mountain per day.  Instead, I frequently climb several mountains in the same day.  Some of the elevation changes are very strenuous, such as The Priest and Three Ridges Mountain in Virginia, where I descended 3,000 feet and then immediately ascended 3,000 feet.  It rained that day which made it extra challenging, especially when I neared the top of Three Ridges and was basically climbing up a pile of rocks!

Mike has just passed Harper's Ferry....

And this weeks exciting news is that his wife, Brooke, has joined him.   I'm looking forward to hearing how Brooke is enjoying her hike on the AT!  Visit his Hike4Kids site.

(all photos property of Mike Mclaughlin.  Please do not reproduce without permission)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Lavender Dreams & Sunshine Bliss

A few weeks ago Diane over at Lavender Dreams had a give away featuring jewelry made by Shanti over at Sunshine Bliss.  And I was one of the lucky winners!

I received this beautiful, and right up my alley, blue bracelet that is accented with a tiny turtle and seahorse.  It's made of recycled sea glass colored beads and lead free turtle and seahorse dangles.  The leather cord is a pretty blue and feels nice and sturdy.  It's also accented with a wave button.

When I received the package from Shanti, this is how it was wrapped....

Here's a few more photo's showing off the bracelet....

It lays exactly where I like it to fall on my wrist and it matches nicely with my silver bangle that I never take off and my blue ring.  It's a winner!!

Shanti has a FB page and an Etsy shop.  She has a wide variety of jewelry and I particularly liked the combination of blue and frosted blue beads that are in the bracelet I won.  Please check out her shop.

Many thanks again to Diane and Shanti for having such a fun give away!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

BB Guns and Birdhouses

Remember last week when I told you I re-painted my patio furniture at the lake?  Well, here's what it looks like now.  I have one purple chair and that one's my favorite.

This is my view towards the lake from the patio.  Isn't that relaxing?

In April when we were down at the lake, I was taking a little afternoon nap when I was jolted awake by the sound of somebody shooting the BB gun off the back deck.  Since Tony wasn't with us for that trip,  I knew it had to be my nephew Kyle.  But for the life of me,  I couldn't imagine what he was shooting at.  So I got up to look.

Do you see that birdhouse over there hanging on the tree to the right?

This is what he was shooting at.

This is a birdhouse that a friend of mine recently made for me.  Hello!!!???.... Kyle, are ya crazy??  I walked out on the deck and asked Kyle what the heck he thought he was doing????  Only I didn't say heck.  I used a much stronger word, one that won't be appropriate here, but would get through to an 18 year old street wise Chicago kid.

So Kyle looks up at me and very sweetly says, "The hole wasn't big enough, so I made it larger."  Let me tell you, he was all proud of himself.  Now, I have to admit that I cracked up.  After all, Kyle is a pretty good shot.  Look at the distance he was shooting from......

And the good job he did........

I just shook my head and told him to knock it off because that birdhouse was a gift and I didn't want it riddled with BB's.  Then I went back to bed. 18 year old boys are so nutty sometimes.....

In case anyone was wondering, NO birds were yet in residence and no birds were harmed in the birdhouse attack!
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