Sunday, November 30, 2008

"Stocking" Up

Well, the holiday weekend is almost over, and I'm going to miss it. Though the house and kitchen always stay much cleaner if I'm sticking to my regular routine. After mass this morning, we went grocery shopping and came home to some more yummy leftovers for lunch.

I set up bread in the breadmaker to bake and set up the turkey carcass to boil for stock. We'll have lots of really flavorful turkey broth once it's simmered all afternoon. I baked some eggs in a dish to cut into slices for breakfast burritos this week, and now all is quiet and Ben's playing his video game, so I think that I might hear a nap calling me. A decadent way to spend the last afternoon of our mini-vacation at home.

I have busy plans for the week ahead. I want to finish Dan's quilt, and put out the Christmas decorations, finish knitting Ben's new hat and matching gloves and sew the covers for all the microwave corn bags I made two weeks ago, plan some Christmas presents and get started on the homemade parts, bake muffins and make creme brulee (we always have lots of egg yokes, because we mainly eat the whites when we have scrambled eggs and such, and cream was on sale for $2 a pint, so I figured it would be a great time to try to make some. I love it, but I've never made it), can cranberry sauce and clean our bedroom really well, write an article everyday and think up another homemakers' t-shirt design.

I'm not sure if I'll get all that finished, but those are my goals for the week, and if I find myself slacking off in front of the computer, I can pick one and work on that instead.

I'm also issuing a little challenge to myself involving vegetables. I've been concerned that we don't eat enough vegetables, so this week the goal is for us each to eat a salad every day. Nothing big or all that special, just a nice green salad at least once during the day. It can be with lunch or dinner or just as a snack, but that's the goal. And to take care of the fruit, I got a 4lb bag of oranges at aldi, that just happened to have 10 oranges in it, so that's an orange a day for each of us during the week as well. I know it's a little silly, but we just don't eat nearly as many fruits and vegetables as we should be.

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Friday, November 28, 2008

Happy Leftovers Day!

Ben and I roasted our first turkey! We do turkey every year, but usally, we just make a turkey breast in the slowcooker, so it was fun trying to do it the "real" way. Yep, that's a canning rack. We don't have a roasting rack, but the canning rack worked perfectly. I don't think I'll bother with a roasting rack.

Today we're going to be working on Christmas projects. Ben's got his secret project going on in the garage, and I'm wanting to finish up Dan's quilt. I also made Ben pick out some wool yarn at Michaels last week for a hat and gloves that won't clash with his winter coat. Like his black hat and gray gloves do. He picked a really pretty blue that I can't wait to knit with, and that will make his eyes look so pretty. I wonder if that's why he picked it... because he knows it's "his color". Anyway, I'm thinking I'll put the neverending vest on pause (why did I think it'd be a good idea to knit him a vest on size four needles? ugh) and start the hat.

Hope everyone else is having a relaxed and productive holiday weekend!

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Baking for the Holiday

I've been having a great day all morning, baking up a storm for tomorrow's feast. I started with roasting a pumpkin for the pie.

You may think that my little decorations look burned, but I'm going with "carmelized". That's obviously just some carmelization.

And here's a nice apple pie, doing it's impression of a sand dollar. I'm not sure why my vent cuts opened up like that, but I'm liking it.

And a batch of molasses cookies, for snacking, of course. And also for the neighbors.
I have these really cute autumn treat bags that I picked up on clearance at some point, so I did up a nice little package for the cookies. No one was home when I went over to deliver them, so I just hooked them behind the door.
Still to do today are the cranberry sauce and tonight's dinner of oven fried chicken drumsticks. Ben tried to trick me into making sticky buns, by telling me we'd need them for breakfast tomorrow, but I told him he could eat the apple pie for breakfast. I mean, sticky buns have 3/4 of a pound of butter in them... someone has to watch out for our health. :)

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Flu

I'm feeling flu-ish today, and not really up to par. Well, actually, I was feeling more sick yesterday, with ear-aches, sore throat, and headaches. I think that I'm on the mend already though, because I don't feel fever-y or as ache-y today. So, I'll stick to some less strenuous housework, like laundry, and mainly plan to knit and drink orange juice. I certainly don't want to be sick later in the week.

It's Thanksgiving! That's always such a fun and special time for me. A long weekend with Ben and the chance to bake lots of yummy treats. We usually pick a project to do over the long weekend, and this year I think we'll clean out the garage and put up the Christmas decorations.

The quilt top is still just a border away from being finished. I'm having sewists' block, because I don't want to have to match the seams on the contrasting corner blocks. Yes, I realize that's ridiculous and kind of silly, but there you have it. Anyway, I am planning to finish the top by Thursday, so then we can lay out any quilting or additional embelishments. Especially since finishing it should take about ten minutes at this point.

We've been getting Oz, from HBO, through our netflix for the last several weeks. And now we're at the last season, so we'll probably have a marathon and finish the whole season in one go on Friday or Saturday as well. I'm excited to find out what will happen, since it's such an interesting story. But I don't actually recommend watching it, because I'm pretty sure it's a near occasion of sin just to watch it, what with all the violence and sexualness and the occasional naked man. Really, highly inappropriate, but Ben wanted to keep watching it, and I'm afraid I don't often need much encouragement giving in to temptation when it comes to a really interesting story. I suppose if I really wanted to try to be good, I wouldn't finish the series and never knowing what happens would be my penance. I guess I'm just not that good. Anyone else find that it's difficult to deny yourself inappropriate entertainment?

There's lots of sunshine and I heard some birds chirping already, and I'm feeling quite chipper despite the virus and sore throat. I might get right into my sewing room and finish up that quilt top. Or I might end up watching tv all morning while I knit. You never know with me... I'm wily like that.

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Thinking of Thanksgiving

I've got plans today to make some pie crusts to be ready for Thursday. I might roast some pumpkins and get the puree ready. I'll wait on most of the prep for Wednesday, though. I'll peel the potatoes and start some no knead bread, and brine the turkey.

Pioneer Woman posted her Thanksgiving timeline here.

If you'd like to read a lot more about Thanksgiving planning and tips, check out my list of Associated Content articles here. I've got lots of different articles published there about Thanksgiving, turkey, baking, etc.

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Friday, November 21, 2008

A Quick Update

I've been writing articles for Associated Content these last couple of days. I've also been doing a bit of knitting and catching up on some deep cleaning, like the toilets and showers and tubs. The quilt is going well, I've got the top finished, and I'll lay out the backing and the quilting designs this weekend. I have converse with my co-designer, and figure out what kind of quilting or embroidery accents will go on it, if any. I'm using a layer of flannel in place of the batting, so technically, I don't have to do any quilting, because the flannel won't come apart the way batting would. It might come down to whether I want to put anymore time into this project. I do have some other big projects that should be finished before Christmas, like a denim quilt for Ben and his knitted vest.

Today, Ben's taking me out this afternoon to go see Twilight. Which I think proves he's the best husband ever, since he's willing to watch it, just for me. I'm pretty excited, we haven't been to the movies in a couple of months.

We have big plans for tomorrow as well. We're going to Sam's club to take advantage of their Holiday membership program and stock up on some staples, like bread flour, rice, and beans. And probably get our Thanksgiving turkey as well. We'll meet up with our friend, Ken, and get some lunch and then Ben wants to check out Rural King for a heated waterer for the chickens. They seem to be handling the cold fairly well, but Ben's concerned about keeping them warm enough once it snows. He says the warmer water will help a lot. We'll probably also pick up a shop light and a timer for in their coop, to help them stay warm and to give them more light through the short days of winter.

I'm running late today, I guess I've just been feeling kind of laid back and slow and time's gotten away from me, but I'd better get going now and get my lunch eaten and my afternoon chores finished, or I won't be ready to go when we head to town for the movie.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Mystery Science Theater 3000 Applique

I finished stitching down the applique yesterday, and when Ben got home, we decided on the rest of the design, so I'm thinking I might be able to finish the entire quilt top today. For now, here are pictures of the shadow applique.

I did this applique by using that heat n bond stuff. We enlarged the design onto the paper backing, and then I cut it out and ironed it down. Since the entire piece gets flipped over after the cutting, you have to remember to reverse your design.

After I ironed it down, I stitched around the entire edge with a medium zigzag stitch.

A person could use a shorter stitch and outline the design with satin stitching, but I didn't do that for a few reasons. It's easier and faster to use the longer stitch, and if you make any small mistakes, they blend in better because the zigzag has a sort of spiky, deconstructed look to begin with.

I'm pretty excited to get going on the rest of it, and see how it all comes together this afternoon.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Menu for 11-16 to 11-22

Sunday
Leftovers all day... we had lots of this and that odds and ends to eat in the fridge

Monday
B: Applesauce Muffins
L: More leftovers
D: Steak with potatoes and green beans (We go the steak at Aldi (a box in the frozen foods), and though the quality was all right, it was flavor injected with a solution or something, and we didn't care for either the flavor or the thought of whatever was in there. I can't wait till the annual Omaha Steaks gift from Ben's work to get here!)

Tuesday
B: Pumpkin Bread and Yogurt
L: Quesadillas (Fried Rice from the Freezer for Ben)
D: Beans and Rice (This is a really great, simple, tasty recipe. Super cheap, and I love how filling and savory it is. I cut it in half for the two of us, and it makes enough for dinner for us both and one lunch.)

Wednesday
B: Breakfast Burritos
L: Leftover Beans and Rice for Ben and Baked Potato for me
D: Butternut Soup with a small side of pasta and garlic bread (Because I'm congenitally unable to eat soup as a full meal.)

Thursday
B: Breakfast Burritos
L: Leftover Pasta
D: Veggie Omelets

Friday
B: Crepes
L: Grilled Ham and Cheese
D: Homemade Pizza Night!
(I just realized that this is a pretty cheese heavy day... I might have to revise a bit.)

Saturday
B: Cereal
L: Leftover Pizza
D: Clean Fridge and Finish Leftovers... if none, Baked Potato Bar

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Monday, November 17, 2008

The Next Stage

Over the weekend, Ben and I worked on some projects. He's got a super-secret Christmas project in the works, and I kept up work on Dan's MST3K quilt. We used the projector thingie to enlarge the shadow design of the guys.

It proved to be a very straight forward process. I ironed the heatbond stuff to the fabric, used thumbtacks to hang the fabric on the wall, and then lined up the projection in sections by moving the ironing board where the projector sat to the correct positions. I'm pretty glad with the way it's turned out.

I've got it all cut out, and today I'll work on getting it appliqued to the background. I'm going back and forth on whether to use the machine or do the applique stitching by hand, but I think that in the interest of time and producing a very durable finished product, I'll use the machine. I think I'll save the hand stitching for any quilting I decide to put in it.

So, I've got lots of pretty detailed, though uncomplicated thought process wise, sewing to work on this morning. And this afternoon, I think I'll work on some more of the microwaved corn bags, which are neither detailed or complicated. On Friday last week, I cut and surged 15 of them, from an old unmatching sheet, and over the weekend I cleaned and dried enough corn to fill those. So today, I'll fill them, and surge closed the last side. Maybe next weekend I'll pick up some flannel, and make the outer covers for them after that.

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Small Doings

Cookies for a Bake Sale
Fall 2006
-----I've had a pretty productive morning so far. I've done my morning cleaning routine, taken the trash out to the road, and submitted another article to Associated Content. I'm feeling very accomplished.
-----I haven't decided yet what I want to do today. I'm at a pausing point with the quilt, because Ben has to help with the next step, which is to enlarge and transfer the MST guys to the fabric I'm using to applique them. I have all the fabric cut to size and pressed, and ready to go, so we'll do the drawing tomorrow, I suppose.
-----I might make some more corn warming bags this morning before lunch. I bought a forty pound bag of whole corn, thinking I'd make a couple for Ben and myself, and then feed the rest of the corn to the chickens. But the chickens don't like it and just leave it lying when I give some to them. Either they can't eat whole corn, or they're terrible ungrateful spoiled chickens. I'm leaning toward the latter. Anyway, that's a lot of corn to use up, so I'm planning to warm some cold relatives.
-----After lunch, I think I'll go visit with my elderly neighbor for a little while. I haven't been over there in a couple of weeks, and I know she's going to be wondering where I've been and saying that she kept hoping I'd come. Ugh to the guilt trip, but that's what old people do, I guess. And she's so sweet and lonesome, I really do want to spend time with her, if that makes her happy. And after that, I'm going to settle down with a movie and knit.
So I guess I have decided what I want to do today. :)

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Finished Embroidery Panel


I did it. Sorry if you'd worked out some really good names to call me, you'll have to wait till next time I put something off for way too long. I'm sure that won't be too far off.
The quote is a joke from a Mystery Science Theater 3000 movie. The whole quilt is sort of a MST3K collage, with this panel as sort of the focus. The area of the writing is about 20X15. I used my multiposition hoop, and it still took me fifteen rehoopings to do it all.
I also got two pairs of flannel jammie pants cut out to make for Ben for Christmas. I don't think I'll get to sewing them up today, since I have a lot of cleaning to do. Ben hasn't been around much the last couple of days and so I haven't been much keeping up with the kitchen. It's getting much messier than I'd like, even with me just eating leftovers, so I want to really get everything cleaned up today.
I'm planning another article to write this morning as well. I'd also like to get the background piece of the MST quilt prepared so that we can move on to the next step of transferring the characters. Ben designed it to have the shadow of the characters across the bottom of the quilt, like Mike's pointing at the quote. There's also going to be a planet, which may or may not have the logo stitched on it, depending on what we decided and how much time I'm willing to spend digitizing. It should be pretty cool when it's finished.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Distracted

Gargoyle
City Museum, St. Louis, MO

I'm feeling very easily distracted this morning. I'm sure that's because I just spent an hour or so reading blogs and looking at Associated Content articles. Sometimes I just don't focus well, but luckily I'm not a rocket surgeon, and I'm not really in a line of work that requires utmost concentration.

I wrote two article ysterday morning, and I'm planning to write at least one this morning before I turn off the computer and start on something else. I don't why I didn't realize before, but one of the best things about AC is the fact that the more articles you have published, the more the performance payments will add up each month. And since lots of my articles have to do with the holidays and gift giving, they earned more than five dollars in the month of October. That might not seem like much, but that was for writing I did a year ago, and it's way more than Google Ads or Project Wonderful accrue. So, writing more doesn't just earn me up front payments now, it also will increase that monthly payment.

Another nice thing about AC is the function that allows others to leave comments on the articles. Sometimes people can be harsh, like the slams in my wedding cake article, but as a whole, I really enjoy getting the comments and discussing articles with people. (BTW, I haven't responded or blocked those comments, because I won't respond to critism with censorship or fighting. I usually only delete useless or spam comments from any articles or blogs.) I really enjoyed reading all the discussion on my article about cooking turkey in the slow cooker.

So, the "other things" I'm headed off to do after I write this morning's article include finishing the embroidery panel for Dan's quilt. I'm serious! If I don't post pictures of that finished panel tomorrow, you all get to yell at me and call me names. And while the embroidery machine works, I'm planning to cut out pajama pants for Ben and get all the serging done on them, which will just leave the flies and hems to finish on the sewing machine when it's finished being an embroidery machine. Every Christmas time, I realize why people buy non-convertible embroidery machines... that's the time of year I always want the embroidery working, while I'm sewing something else. Any other time, it seems like too much of a luxury to have separate machines.

Okay, I'm promising finished project (or at least great progress) pictures tomorrow. Because I seriously can't handle being called names. :)

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Day in the Kitchen

I had a marathon eight hour day in my kitchen yesterday. I made a big batch of pasta sauce in the slow cooker (in the muffin pan. I freeze it like that, so it's all portioned and ready to go in the freezer), put together a pot pie for dinner, baked applesauce muffins for breakfasts this week, made a pumpkin pie for snacks, made pumpkin bread for Ben to take to a meeting he's having with a bunch of guys from work this morning, baked italian bread and made garlic butter spread to have homemade garlic bread slices in the the freezer. I also prepped veggies for snacks this week, and grated some big blocks of cheese, put together some pudding cups, and turned some regular butter into butter spread with canola oil.

It was a big day.

It was nice to get so much done, but it kind of burned me out as well, and now I don't want to set foot in the kitchen today. But I did plan for that, and dinner this evening is chili from the freezer, so I don't really have to cook anything today. So, instead of cooking or baking anything, I'm goint to knit today (after I finish an article for AC... I have to, I'm trying to be disciplined). I'm working on a vest I started for Ben out of dk weight wool/acrylic blend yarn. The yarn is "vintage" from my mom's old stash that she let me have. It's pretty slow going, with size four needles and a big guy size, so I'm only about four inches from the bottom now. I'm hoping to finish another two inches or so today.

Yes, I know I should be working on that quilt that I started and then stalled on... but I'm feeling very unmotivated. Everytime I think about working on it, I just can't bring myself to listen to the noise of the embroidery machine all afternoon. Maybe if I get sick of knitting, I'll just suck it up and finish that off. I really should try to get it finished soon, because it is a really big project and the sooner to have it done the better. Not to mention I have Christmas gifts for Ben to work on as well.

I ended up giving him the fingerless gloves that I made him, because he kept saying that his hands were cold, so I got them out and let him open them early. He really loves them, but that's still one less present under the tree for him. I'm hoping to have this vest done for a Christmas present, and perhaps a denim quilt and also a couple pairs of flannel jammie pants. I'd also like to make him another winter hat and a matching pair of gloves, since the ones he has now are black and red, and his coat is a dark brown color, but I don't know if I'll finish those before Christmas, because I'll have to buy yarn for them (I can hardly believe that I have no appropriate brown wool in my yarn closet, but I really don't), so maybe I'll wait and see if I get some KnitPicks gift credit for Christmas from anyone and buy the yarn with that.

Anyway, I'd better quit stalling and buckle down and write my article. I'm trying to use my associated content earnings to get enough money to buy yarn to make myself an alapaca throw for the winter. I think alpaca would make the best blanket, since it's so light and warm... but it'll be expensive, so I want to earn extra for it, instead of blowing my regular spending money that should be used for better things... like books. :)

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Keeping Warm Cheaply: Corn Bags

Last month, I was talking about Christmas gifts and I wrote that I'd like to get Ben (and myself as well) a hot water bottle since we keep the temps so low in the house all winter. One of my readers, Holly, suggested those microwavable bags instead, since I wouldn't have to worry about wet sheet from leaks or anything like that. Well, Holly is a genius.

I found instructions here that are very thorough and informative, since the lady who wrote it looked into using the microwave heated bags for patients at a hospital, and so did lots of research and thinking while preparing her page.

Anyway, I whipped some up out of scraps of flannel from Dan's (my BIL) quilt that I'm making, and they're so warm and nice to have. The heat seems to last most of the night under the blankets when we tuck them down by our feet. I'm addicted to microwaved corn warmth. I told Ben that I'll be making us full body microwave corn suits for Christmas. Probably not, but perhaps some nice footwarmers or little pocket sized hand warming ones.

Maybe I'm crazy, but I'd actually prefer to keep the heat quite low and warm up my toes and lap with this sort of heat, but not only to save money. Also, because I'm usually very uncomfortable and hot in the artificial heat from our central heating system. I seem to overheat easily, but when it's slightly chilly in the house, and I'm toasty from a throw on my lap and the corn bag on my feet, it's easy to cool off if I feel too hot.

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Saturday, November 08, 2008

Catnip Harvest

I got all the catnip cut and brought in yesterday, because I figured we're in for a hard freeze soon, and I didn't want it all to die. Here it is hung for drying.

This started out as just a leggy little baby plant, and it got so lush and big. It was by far my most successful herb.

And here is Smudge-bear waiting for some catnip treat.

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Thursday, November 06, 2008

New T-Shirt Designs for Homemakers

I've been wanting to add more to my cafepress store, and after throwing some ideas around with Ben and Adam this week, I added three more. I think their pretty funny, myself. And I know Julie's a fan. ;) Here's one of them above, but the others are on the desktop computer, so I'll send you here to check them out.

I've got a busy day planned catching up with things I hadn't had time for while Adam was visiting. I have to get the machine embroidery finished for the quilt for Ben's brother, and I'm hoping to brainstorm some more t-shirt designs. I've got a few ideas for associated content articles I'd like to get outlined and written as well. I've got a great audio book to listen to while I work, so I'm looking forward to it.

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Cooking with Adam


He seems completely unable to just smile when I point the camera at him.

Yesterday Adam cooked lunch and then we baked together.


He made a sort of italian sub, with peppers, onions, and sausage all sauteed together. And potatoes out of a box. (Yes, this is cooking his way... we had to go buy all the packaged stuff, becasue I don't have any of that around. I'm not judging.... I'm just saying.... potatoes from a box. lol)

Cooking with Adam is fun. He had been issued a challenge from a friend to prepare a dish involving meat, peppers, and feta cheese, that wasn't pizza. It was fun throwing ideas around.

This is what we came up with: A sausage and peppers hoagie with garlicky white sauce (from a jar!) and feta cheese. I forgot to have a bite, but Ben and Adam really liked them.

And then we baked a coffee cake.

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Monday, November 03, 2008

Happy Monday!

I hope everyone else is having a great Monday and had a good weekend. We had a nice weekend, Adam and Ben got to go to the Blues game Saturday night, and they had lots of fun. The tickets Ben got from work were in the club, where the food and drinks are included, so they got free dinner too.

We've gotten the sound and the computer and the dvd player and the wii all connected and working well now! It's so awesome to get to watch the netflix instant player and hulu.com on the regular television. We used a VGA cable to connect the desktop tower to the television permanently, with a wireless mouse and keyboard. So the picture and the sound are really good. So, this was all quite a splurge, but we're enjoying it very much, and it's our Christmas present this year to each other. Last year, when we moved here, we talked about getting a new television, so we saved all year, and now we've got a great set up. I think Ben is really thrilled with it.

Yesterday Ben and Adam watched football on the new sweet tv after we got home from mass, and then after Adam went to Bally's to work out, we have a yummy meal of roast chicken, mashed potatoes, stuffing, homemade dinner rolls, and corn. (Yes, I know, starchy... I tried serving salad and green beans, but they didn't want them, lol) With pumpkin pie made out of real pie pumpkins for dessert. Then we watched a crazy movie Adam wanted to show us called Reefer Madness: The Musical.

So, I think Adam's been having a good visit. I know I've been having a good time hanging out with him. Today and tomorrow, we'll be fitting in baking coffee cake and a visit to Our Lady of the Snows shrine, and pretty much whatever else he wants to do. I'll take pictures of all the fun!

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Saturday, November 01, 2008

City Museum and Halloween!

The City Museum and World Aquarium in St. Louis are so cool! It's this museum made up of salvaged things from around the city, and there's tunnels and warrens and places to climb and crawl all over the place. We enjoyed the aquarium a lot too, and they have lots of cool animals to look at, and some you can touch too. They had these crazy fish that wanted to suck at your fingers. It was crazy and mushy feeling.




Here's Ben trapped in one of the tanks. They even had a tunnel through the shark tank you could crawl though.


Someone threw away this perfectly good raccoon! His sign says they take him for walks a few times a day.

Here's Adam climbing around in the kid-sized tunnels and such. I told him if he got stuck, I was leaving him.

Ben's pumpkins. Yes, that's a small jack o'lantern being eaten by the bigger one. That's his favorite pumpkin carving trick.

Here I am dressed up for Halloween! Can you guess what I was?

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