28. September 2011 · Comments Off on Florida Discoveries 19: You Can’t Grow Hops in Florida!! · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , ,

Many of my more loyal readers know that in Nebraska Dave and I were able to grow hops in our backyard.  We had a cool landlord/homeowner who gave Dave permission to dig up part of our backyard and string up trellises to grow hops (among other fruits and veggies).

In summer 2009 and 2010, we had this EPIC WIN of hops harvests!  The vines climbed up so high, and it was a lot of fun to learn about how hops grow.  We left Nebraska last fall with about 3 ounces of vacuum-sealed dried hops ready for the next time Dave decides to brew…probably once the weather cools down.

Here is how awesome the hops got in summer 2009:

The top ropes on this trellis are 8 feet tall!  These were awesome!
These flowers were ready to harvest in late July 2009.


But here in Florida, the goal is survival!  I gave away several of our hops rhizomes and tossed a few in a lightweight pot when we moved from Nebraska to Florida.  This spring the rhizomes sprouted but without the appropriate humidity and sunlight (the sunlight requirements for ideal growing conditions are at 35-55 degrees latitude), we didn’t get much at all.  This morning I took some pictures of the plant at the most growth it had this year.  Here in Florida, all I can hope is that we keep these alive until we get back that far north again.  So far, so good.

You can’t make this stuff up!  About 2 feet long, compared to the 10-12′ vines from Nebraska just one year prior!

All I can do is hope that the plant remains alive while we’re living here….

27. September 2011 · Comments Off on Wild Sunflowers Revisited (from September 2008) · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , ,

When I was in Nebraska earlier this month, I was immediately greeted by the wild sunflowers that I loved all over the edges of the highways and empty fields. I had planned to take some pictures but forgot. Oh well. At least I have this blog post from September 2008 to remind me of how pretty they are. Enjoy this “Rewind”:

This type of sunflower is a Helianthus annuus.  The wild ones have smaller flowers (~5″) than the ones you plant for seeds, such as those in western Kansas and Nebraska.

Wild sunflowers are in bloom in E. Nebraska and W. Iowa. They just popped up all over the place, like how Queen Anne’s Lace pops up in PA and WV, and how wild thistle grows on the sides of the highways in NC.

So I pulled a Maryann and pulled over on the side of this country road while driving back from Toys R Us in Iowa and took some pictures.

This is what a single plant looks like…

And here’s a group of them.

There’s a HUGE field near Timmy’s preschool, I should get over there and take some pics soon before they’re over with.

26. September 2011 · Comments Off on Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

I got home from Air Force Reserve duty Nebraska last Wednesday night.  It was my birthday, and the boys picked me up at the airport and we went out for Korean food at our new favorite Korean restaurant, called Okie Dokie in Fort Walton Beach.  It was a good week in Nebraska but it was nice to be home.  I missed my boys!

I can’t believe I took this picture with my very own camera!  My iPhone camera, at that!  Sunset from Navarre Beach, Florida last Friday night.  This is what was awaiting me after 10 days in Nebraska!

It’s been very busy since I’ve been home.  Lots to do in the community: from helping out with the base spouses’ club, to writing for GeekMom, to supporting Dave’s squadron, to helping with the book fair at Timmy’s school, to helping in a new endeavor:

Yep.  That’s me in Boy Scout getup.  The pack needed leaders and since the rest of my family was involved, and I tag along on all the events anyway, it really wasn’t much more work.  So I’m Timmy’s Tiger Cub Den Leader and so far, so good!  The kids and the families are great!
The dynamic duo selling popcorn at our local Walmart last Saturday.  Timmy is destined to be a salesman when he grows up!  Jacob has become more shy in his old age.

I’m due back in Nebraska in about 3 weeks, but there will be plenty to keep me busy between now and then.

19. September 2011 · 2 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: ,

No, it isn’t working for me either.  I’ll keep the title as is, okay?

Greetings from Nebraska.  I’ve been on Reserve duty for the past week.  I hadn’t been here since May, so it was nice to see my colleagues and meet several new faces in my office.

Many of you know this already, but some of you don’t:  I was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel back in August.  I’d kept quiet about it because I wasn’t looking forward to the long…



…wait before I’d actually get to wear the rank.  I figured I’d keep mum till I was wearing the rank, I’d take a picture and type “SURPRISE!”.  Just ask my Dear Husband, who was notified of his promotion last August and STILL (as of this writing) isn’t wearing the rank.  (He’ll be officially promoted on October 1st, about 400 days after notification).

As for me, I was excited to receive my promotion news, but was disheartened by the promotion effective date that accompanied the news: 1 September 2012.  I had to put it in my calendar so I wouldn’t forget, ha ha!

Yes, that’s 2012, that’s 374 days after getting notified of the promotion.  I don’t even feel like explaining why this is.  Your head will explode.

But there’s a provision with type of Reserve promotion I earned that allows me to wear the rank earlier than 1 September 2012 if I can find a position (called a “billet”) that’s coded for a Lieutenant Colonel.  This is possible with my unit in Nebraska, but not for sure…so there’s a chance I can wear my new rank by the end of the year.  I’ll let you know.

10. September 2011 · 4 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , ,
The box on the right was purchased in mid-July.  I thought I needed two boxes of cake mix for something, but I only needed one.  The box on the left was purchased this morning.  Darned straight I took the box tops!  But note the size difference….did someone think we wouldn’t notice???

I’m baking Jacob’s birthday cake right now.  The final product is a surprise — even for me, since I don’t quite know what I’m doing yet — but I needed two boxes of cake mix for this.

I had a box of mix in the pantry from a couple months ago (the one on the right), and I prepared it as on the back of the box.  1 1/4 c. water, 1/3 c. oil, 3 eggs.

Just before I took the first cake out of the oven, I prepared the batter for the second part of the cake.  I was just about to add the same ingredient amounts as above, but I caught a glimpse of the instructions on the box on the left: 1 c. water, 1/2 c. oil, 3 eggs.

I fished the first box out of the recycling bin and placed them side-by-side: you see that photographed above.  Somewhere between July and now Betty Crocker decided to knock 3 oz (1/6th!) from their cake mix.  And I didn’t see a difference in a price.

Isn’t this the same thing that been happening with ice cream and salad dressing?


Thank you for letting me vent…time to get part 2 of the birthday cake out of the oven…yes, at 10pm!

09. September 2011 · 2 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , , ,

This is about 1/2 of the backyard in view here.  You can also see our backyard on our weather webcam here.  For some reason the homeowner removed every…single…tree…and…shrub from his lawn.  On Google maps you could see an area of pine trees in the middle of the backyard, but no longer.  More for me to mow.

I’d been wanting to do this for months, and it wasn’t till just before Labor Day that I finally did it!

I measured the distance covered mowing our big backyard.  I also measured the time and the calories expended doing it.  Remember, I’m a numbers girl!

It wasn’t hard — I guess anyone could do it with a pedometer, right?  But of course I had to get all techie!

We have an enormous lawn, and because we won’t be living here that long, we chose not to invest in a riding mower, and just tough out using our 11-year-old 21″ wide push-mower.  When we first moved here in the cooler season, this wasn’t so bad.  I didn’t have to mow at all for the first 3 months, and then it wasn’t often.

Note: Many of you know that I’m the one who mows the lawn in the family.  I don’t mind at all.  Until we moved into this particular house, doing this chore wasn’t a big deal.  In fact, if I mow on weekends, it’s a nice break from the kids!  Dave has horrible grass allergies, and I’d rather take on this chore than deal with his nose-blowing after he does it.

But by Memorial Day, in order to mulch the grass I was cutting (I can’t stand bagging/dumping grass), I had to mow no more than weekly, preferably every 5 days to minimize clumps of dead grass among the mulching.  It got really old really fast.  I need about 2 hours to do the entire lawn, but not while the sprinklers are running, or first thing in the morning when the lawn is covered with dew.  So I’d usually wait until as late in the evening as possible, and mow mow mow until I couldn’t walk in a straight line anymore because it was so hot.  And I’d still be soaked in sweat.

Between the sweating, sore arms and all the walking I was doing, I figured I’d regard this as a real workout.

There’s an app for that!

I attached my Nike+ sensor to my old running shoes that I wear to mow the lawn, fired up the Nike+ app on my iPhone and I got going with the lawn.  Here are the results:

Ignore the fact this is being called a “run”.  Obviously it isn’t, as seen by the 22:23/mile pace.  This is the front yard only.  It’s about 1/2 the size of the back.  The thin line is a micro-measurement of my pace, and it makes me wonder if there’s a slope to our yard.  I was mowing in rows parallel to the front of the house.  The deep plunges in the pace graphs are water breaks.
The backyard.  Almost double the distance and a slightly faster pace, which I can attribute to much much longer rows.

So I now know that cutting my yard takes about 1:15 hours (with no breaks, but I take 15-20 minutes worth of breaks), is 3.48 miles, and expends 420 calories (which for me is the same as a 3.5 mile run).

Want more geeky information regarding mowing the lawn?  Here’s some for you:

Earlier this year (in the middle of their summer lawn-mowing season I assume), two Australian mathematicians calculated the ideal pattern to mow your lawn with minimal mileage.

This past spring, Wired.com posted this How-to Wiki with ideas on how to make the dreaded lawn-mowing chore more tolerable.  From getting rid of grass in favor of flowers, trees and shrubs…to robotic lawn mowers (i.e. Roombas for your yard!).

09. September 2011 · 1 comment · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

I haven’t done too much blogging this past week, things were crazy with Dave having a medical procedure last Friday.  Then we were stuck in the house for 3 days straight as tropical storm conditions and tornado warnings dominated the Florida Panhandle.  It was challenging keeping the kids entertained, but we came through it just fine and are now greeted with low temperatures in the upper 50s!  It’s been nice to open up the house….

I was happy to catch up on my Handmade Afghans to Thank Our Armed Forces Project work over the weekend, too.

I get the rectangles sent to me with the design plan and I assemble them into twin-bed sized afghans.  They’re then shipped to military hospitals worldwide.

1. My plans for Labor Day included renting a giant inflatable slip n slide for a unit BBQ at our house, but what really happened was we were inundated by a foot of rain and tropical storm force winds all weekend as Tropical Storm Lee made landfall just west of us over the weekend.

2. Call me crazy, but sometimes I just need to just sit and play some Bejeweled Blitz on Facebook.  I’m so addicted to that game.  It’s all my sister’s fault, she was always my #1 challenge since 2008 or so.

3. One of the funniest things I’ve seen lately is an older episode of Fox’s Family Guy, a show that I love (perhaps that’s a better answer to #2?).  The Emmy-winning episode is titled “Road to the Multiverse“.  Stewie (baby) and Brian (the dog) invent a machine that takes them to assorted parallel universes.  It was incredibly clever and creative.  In fact, there’s 3-4 minutes where the Family Guy characters were all drawn like Disney animation.

4. It’s strange, but folding laundry drives me crazy while vacuuming is perfectly fine with me!  I will vacuum 4-5x per week, but unfolded laundry will sit for nearly a week while I do all the other housework first.

5. One, two, buckle my shoe… three, four _open that door!  In the wake of Tropical Storm Lee, I can happily open up my house and turn off the air conditioner for the first time in about 10 weeks!  It’s magnificent!

04. September 2011 · Comments Off on Major Tom Made the News Again… · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

Canadian illustrator Andrew Kolb decided to illustrate a children’s book with the story told in David Bowie’s hit song “Space Oddity“.

Now, you should know why this is interesting to me….

Mr. Kolb had put a link to the PDF of this book on his homepage earlier this week, but then he received a cease and desist request from the song’s copyright owner and he’s since had to remove it. According to the news article linked here, he’s working out the legality of this, and he’d like to illustrate more ballads of classic songs.  Here is a You Tube video with the pages of the book set to the song that might or might not be available for very long.

I noticed the lack of capitalization of the words “Major” and “God”, that the spaceship looks like the Death Star, and that the spaceship is ENORMOUS, but the illustrations are very cute and my sons would enjoy this very much.

03. September 2011 · Comments Off on Road Trip III 2011: One More Thing · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

When my boys were doing the Turner Field Running of the Bases earlier this month, there was a photographer sitting just past 2nd base taking pictures of the boys.  Some dude handed us parents a flyer with a website and asked us to note the time because the pictures of the kids are displayed by time..

Being the sucker I am, I went to the website…and saw the pictures of my boys…and bought a pair of 5x7s.  I need to get frames for the boys’ rooms, but in the meantime, I’ve scanned them in to share with you.

I’m usually better than succumbing to this.  I’m very good at saying “No, thank you” to these photo offers.  I resist most easily when I’m in the picture looking stupid (which is quite often).  Or if my camera accidentally goes off in front of the computer terminal at the sales counter for such pictures.  Or if the salesman lets you walk around the gift shop with a copy of the picture to take our time deciding whether to buy the picture…and my darned camera went off accidentally AGAIN.  And AGAIN.  (Disclaimer: I may or may not have purchased these hard copies and just took pictures with my iPhone to share them digitally while on vacation).

But this time I did pay for the pictures for sure, since we were back home in FL by the time I could see the proofs.  Enjoy!  And yes, next time we ever do this we will make sure our sons are in real athletic shoes…

02. September 2011 · 1 comment · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: ,

Last weekend Timmy was finally able to don a Cub Scout uniform like his big brother.  They sold popcorn at our local Lowe’s store for about an hour.  They both did really well and they don’t think fundraisers suck.  We’ll see how long that lasts….

I remember when Jacob used to be Mr. Smiley.  Now it’s a struggle to get him to smile without (a) being reluctant or (b) being ultra-silly.

I’ll probably be the 4th scout in this picture within the month.  Tonight I tossed my name in the ring to be Timmy’s den leader…I did a lot of the legwork helping out Jacob’s Tiger den in 2008-2009.  

We couldn’t hand down as much of the uniform as we’d hoped.  The hat and scarf slide, that’s it.

We won’t talk about how many “takes” we had for this genuine smile.