Cold Weather Solutions for Florida?

Cold Weather Solutions for Florida?

I came to Florida thinking I could get out of my hoodies and stocking caps and at least be able to wear a long sleeve T! But while we were staying in St Augustine, visiting my kiddos, it was COLD!!!

ย Woke up this morning and it was 45ยฐ outside! Wait, WHAT?!?!

Cold Weather Solutions

Now, let me start by saying I am originally from New Jersey, and then spent a great deal of time in Pennsylvania! So I’ve been in colder temps than this!

Cold. Weather. Wimp.

But it seems that after I moved to Florida in 2009, I underwent a major transformation and turned into a cold-weather WIMP! I get so cold that I shiver, then pretty much cry. Like shed actual tears ๐Ÿ˜ญ It’s pretty much the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen ~ and it’s me doing it! Not on purpose, I simply cannot control it. It’s embarrassing, but really, it is what it is!

So, back to cold St Augustine, FLORIDA! ๐Ÿ˜•

โ†—I was not liking the temps, so I dressed for the outdoors!ย โ†–

I was absolutely done with being cold!

These Thermajane Base Layer leggings and top are SO WARM, SO COMFY! I put them on, sat back in bed, and almost stayed there!

Fleece lined Fantastic-ness

Let me tell you all about their great features, because I cannot tell you how warm I stayed today ~ literally without a hoodie! I can’t tell you how long it has been since I have spent any waking moment without a hoodie!ย 

Product Description

Cold Weather Solutions

Cold Weather Solutions, Check!

My Day of Warmth ๐Ÿ˜Ž

We started our morning off normal, I cooked bacon and eggs (no potatoes, sorry Zach, I always forget ๐Ÿ˜† )

Cold Weather Solutions

So Zach, the comedian, decided it would be funny if he just called me his plum :p

Seriously, Grape Ape is more accurate!

Not sure which is a more accurate fruit nickname ~ but this color is ๐ŸŒŸFABULOUS! ๐ŸŒŸ

After breakfast, we took our doggies outside for some backyard fun! We are staying at a friends house, who happens to have a fully fenced in backyard! Such a huge deal for our pups to get some free run time!

Plants? Let me see ๐Ÿ‘€

There are beautiful plants and trees back there, so I (of course) had to go play too!

Cold Weather Solutions

I’m not really good at hide and seek, but I was hoping I would blend in to this plant! I think the colors did, but I did not!

So at this point in life, I’d be FREEZING! Already in tears being outside this long! Seriously, I have issues staying warm! But the Thermajanes kept me warm enough to stay outside for our entire dog “walking” time!

I never go on the morning excursions with the pups because I’m normally too cold! I’m pretty sure I can’t use that excuse anymore though!ย 


Cold Weather Solutions Cold Weather Solutions Cold Weather Solutions

I was able to get a lot of kitty time in too! Scabbers and Phil wanted to play hide and seek as well, but they are like me, and don’t do it very well! They are super cute tho! And always want to help in the garden! Or at least hang out with me ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚


Because why not hang from a kumquat tree ๐Ÿ™‚ I was really trying to see how flexy these leggings are!ย  And they are! I could have put my feet in the trees and not have any fear that the leggings would flex with me!

And I’m a pretty staticky person, my clothes, my hair… I constantly zap the dogs ๐Ÿ˜†

โšกZapโšก

And so the whole anti-wicking material thing never really worked for me. So I thought the same thing would happen here. That type of shirt always sticks to me, like static clings to me. It makes me constantly mess with the shirt. The Thermajane shirt did not cling to me. Not in the beginning, not in the end and not anywhere in between! No static, moisture wicking shirt? Count Me In!ย 

Next Stop ~ Another Ice Zone

When the doggies had enough of the outside world, we loaded them back in and took a ride to pick up my kids and take them to the movies!

The movies… another cold, freezing cold, place for me to sit for 2 hours and 5 minutes, plus previews and the little clips Marvel loves to put in after the credits.. you know, the one that keeps you in the cold theater just a bit longer..??

Well, I survived that too! Now I did throw a sweatshirt on to walk into the theater, but didn’t keep it on inside!

Cold Weather Solutions

Talk about Cold Weather Solutions Win!

I cannot say enough about this base layer solution! I literally stayed warm in a situation that I know I would not have been without them! We have been in much colder conditions (not intentionally, I promise!). But now I’m thinking winter weather is not out of the question! Seeing snow would be possible if I am warm! That opens up doors upon doors!ย 

But what I really want to know is… Why am I running? โฌ‡ Where did I think I was going when I hit the ground ? Guess you’ll have to read our next post to see where we ended up after I hit the ground….running?

Cold Weather Solutions for Florida!

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Copy Caturday ~ Popeyes Mashed Potatoes

Popeyes Mashed PotatoesPopeyes Mashed Potatoes

Somewhere along the line, someone in Instagram-land decided to make Saturday into Caturday ๐Ÿ˜น And while we love our cats, I can’t see making a post about them every single Saturday!

Popeyes Mashed Potatoes

They pretty much do the same thing daily, judge us ๐Ÿ˜ฌ


Caturday Revamped

So I decided to do a play on that and do “CopyCaturday”. Every Saturday I’m going to find a copycat recipe and make it! See which we find closest, or most improved from the original! We don’t eat much fast food, but we do think there are some good possibilities out there for a good home cooked version.

Popeyes Mashed Potatoes

This week I made Popeye’s Mashed Potatoes! When I lived in St Augustine, I didn’t have easy access to Popeye’s, so I had never tried anything there. When I moved to Jacksonville, there was one right around the corner from my apartment! I don’t eat much fast food, but I do enjoy really good mashed potatoes, so one day I decided to stop and try some fried chicken and mashed potatoes.ย 

I ALWAYS eat my mashed potatoes first, regardless of who made them! So imagine my surprise when I started eating what I thought was regular mashed potatoes with gravy (you know, like KFC), only to have some fire in my mouth! They are SPICY! In a very good way! At first I didn’t want to like them, I am super picky about my mashed potatoes, so I just wouldn’t allow it ๐Ÿ˜‚ But I really do like them !!

Popeyes Mashed Potatoes

Since Zach and I never get fast food, and he never tried Popeye’s Mashed Potatoes, I decided to give these a try! I searched around for a recipe and found a lot of different versions. How did I pick one? I made the one that I had all the ingredients for! Simple ๐Ÿ™‚ย 

Print

Copy Caturday - Popeye's Mashed Potatoes

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs potatoes peeled and cubed
  • 8 Garlic Cloves
  • 4 teaspoons Sea Salt divided
  • ยฝ Teaspoon Cracked Black Pepper
  • 1 Teaspoon Creole Seasoning
  • ยพ Cup Whole Milk warmed
  • ยฝ Cup Butter unsalted, melted

Instructions

  • Cut the peeled potatoes into cubes and add to cold water, enough to cover with water, plus about 2" above. Add 2 teaspoons of the salt and the garlic cloves and bring to a boil. Cook for about 15-20 minutes until the potatoes are tender.
  • Drain then return to pot.
  • Heat pot over low heat. Add the remaining salt, pepper, Creole Seasoning, heated milk and melted butter.
  • Mash until creamy.

Notes

When it comes to baking products my go to Company is
King Arthur Baking
 

When you don’t have Chicken Gizzards!

I know that Popeye’s has a fantastic gravy that goes on top, and while searching for a “copycat” of their recipe, I was met with ingredients I didn’t have on hand (chicken gizzards to name just one!) so I used a generic Cajun gravy!

Print

Cajun Gravy

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • ยผ cup unsalted butter
  • ยผ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth or stock
  • ยฝ teaspoon cajun seasoning
  • ยผ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 ยฝ teaspoons hot sauce
  • ยฝ teaspoon salt to taste

Instructions

  • In a saute pan or saucepan over medium heat, melt butter.
  • Add flour and whisk to make a paste (continue whisking until no lumps remain). Cook for one minute.
  • Slowly add broth to pan, whisking continuously. Add Cajun seasoning and pepper, whisking to incorporate. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until desired thickness is achieved, while whisking continuously.
  • Remove pan from heat and add hot sauce, stirring to incorporate. Taste test and add more hot sauce to taste. Last, add salt as needed and stir to incorporate (season to taste).

Popeyes Mashed Potatoes Recipe Review

So how was it ?

First, I used my Instant Pot to make my potatoes! I just find it less messy (I have a pot boil over issue!). I doubt that altered the flavor, since I only added garlic and salt to the water? But next time, more garlic!

I’m not sold on it being a copycat of Popeye’s ~ it’s been a minute since I had some! I guess I need to pick up a container the next time I see Popeye’s to compare! But I’m sure it isn’t an exact match. Maybe the lack of chicken gizzards? I’m willing to try again for the copycat version!

But as for the recipes in this post, I was impressed more with the gravy than the mashed potatoes. I haven’t had Popeye’s without the gravy (guess I’m getting 2 containers!)! But the mashed potatoes were very similar to my own, and I just use salt, pepper, milk and butter. So maybe an increase in the seasoning would have helped!?

The gravy tho… I would have added just a TAD more spice, but not much!! It was smooth and silky, and the flavor was definitely there! We just like things a bit spicy ๐ŸŒถย 

And we had leftover gravy to use the next day on open-faced roast beef sandwiches! I always have roast beef on hand, that I cook myself and then Zach slices for sandwiches! And this gravy elevated that already flavorful roast beef!

Double Win on the Cajun Gravy!

Popeyes Mashed Potatoes

I’m currently waiting on suggestions from Zach for next week, but I heard talk of Taco Bell Crunchwraps! I’m in! ๐Ÿ˜‹


Caturday Recipes Aplenty!

There is a site called Top Secret Recipes that has a ton of available fast food and restaurant copycat recipes. It is not a free site! You can buy recipes in different ways, individually or buy one of the books, there is also a membership that you get 8 free recipes a month, you get the picture! Click on the chef below to check it out!

Caturday

Another great resource is Copycat.com . Here you will find TONS of FREE recipes!! She also has a few books available on Amazon! Either way, it’s a win! ๐Ÿ˜‹
ย  ย  ย ย  ย  ย 


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Hair Woes on the Road

Sometime back in February of 2022 I had this brilliant idea to dye my hair purple, well at least streaks of purple! It was right before Skoolie Swarm, and there were lots of extra people staying where I was and (of course) someone had bleach, and I had the purple (it was supposed to be for my daughter then she changed her mind, teens ๐Ÿ˜)

Someone else decided to dye their hair as well, but he was going full purple! We used his black bus as a mirror, and proceeded to bleach our hair… which turned out epically bad! I missed spots that I wanted to bleach for a streak of purple, I bleached too much of the areas I didn’t want purple! But I went with it!

Unfortunately, once I put the purple in, it didn’t really take at all ๐Ÿ™ It was more of a light pink against the bleach blonde madness! I was so upset with myself for ruining my hair!

Not to mention it had completely ruined my new nickname for my friend who dyed his hair purple ~ Grape Ape! Now he was more like Strawberry Shortcake ~ but he rocked it, I did not!

Hair

For the next few months I spent my time trying to make it look semi-normal!

The last time I choose an odd hair color

I decided to go against the pink/purple/bleach blonde and got teal at the suggestion of my then-14 year old daughter. Well, I let Zach take the reins on this one! He was in charge of where the dye went! We started with a full bleach of everything just to kind of even things out, like a clean canvas (haha, my bleached, fried hair laughs at that!)

Then came the problems ๐Ÿ˜

I wanted streaks of teal within my as-close-as-I-can-get-it natural color. Started with the teal so I could just dye my whole head when I was doing my natural-ish color and hope it covered what wasn’t teal.

I guess Zach didn’t get the correct memo ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

He died ALL of my hair teal!!! This is what the end result was!

Ok, maybe not ALL of it! He did leave some untouched in the back ๐Ÿ˜€

Hair

After about, I don’t, know maybe 2 months of this color, I just really wanted to go back to my natural color! I was sick of the all bleached out or some kind of punk color, which I’m not against, but my hair was hating me! It was looking and feeling awful!

Off to Sally Beauty we went! AGAIN!

We got bleach to start over completely! I was trying to cover blue, which is the hardest color on your hair to cover! Of course ๐Ÿ˜†

At this time, we were at another Skoolie Event, Skoolie UP, and had a friend help Zach!

We decide to bleach my hair one day and color it the next day! The bleach worked fantastically!! YAY!!! Most of the blue came out, I was left with a very faint blue in one spot!

A Rainbow! ๐ŸŒˆ Just not in my hair

I was super excited!! We had bought a color which was very close to my natural shade, the only thing that didn’t come in the box was my beautiful silver streaks ~ the one thing I miss so much about my natural hair color, the beautiful highlights I was born with!!

I have TONS of hair! It’s long, and while it doesn’t look thick, it is!

I got two boxes of dye and not an ounce of it took!!! When it was done it was still very blonde ๐Ÿ™

Devastated, completely! I knew at this point that the dyeing game was over! There would be no more hair dye ~ I would just let it grow out.

Hair

Now that sounds really easy but I have very long hair, so waiting out the “grow it out” process was going to be painful!

At this point in time, I have about two to three inches of root grow and I’m super excited to see all that fantastic silver in there!!

Hair
Yarn organizing day!

I wish I had never, ever bleached it and just embraced the silver like I should have ~ And I say silver because it is silver and not gray! If it were gray, I’d embrace that too! It’s shiny, it’s shimmery and it’s beautiful and I bleached it ~ SO silly!

In the end, I decided I was going to have Zach just chop my hair off! Like just go for it! Or a little go for it!

He chopped about 6″ off ~ sad ~ and felt weird, you know ponytails were a little shorter (which I don’t wear often), falling in my face like I’m not used to! Needed but still weird! It was so damaged, so very damaged, and it still is! But it’s a start!

Hair
Static!!!!

Silver Lining …

But in all of this, I found this fantastic product! Daily Dose ๐Ÿค—

I’m not a big fan of putting anything in my hair, honestly! I wash with regular shampoo, no conditioner because my hair seems to love to hang on to that conditioner! So if I condition my hair, I must rewash it after I condition it! Guess how often that happens in a Skoolie??

This product is a lifesaver though! I can use it daily and it doesn’t build up! It doesn’t make my hair feel all funky, doesn’t give me bed head in the morning, smells amazing and keeps my hair under control (and not staticky)! If you are looking for a great leave-in conditioner, I definitely recommend this one!!

I have been using this product for about a month and I find even my hair loss isn’t as great! Normally when I brush through my hair, I get a brushful! Nothing alarming, and since I have a lot of hair, it’s pretty normal! Or I thought it was! Now my before and after brushing brush almost look the same! I’m in for that!

 

I will continue to use this product while my hair grows out, and beyond! I am going to start using it in Zach’s unruly hair and see how that goes! He says his hair acts the same way with leave-in conditioner as mine does with in-shower conditioner! So I’m thinking he might be game to try this, since I know it doesn’t make my hair feel anything less than clean and manageable!

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Happy Birthday Freebies!

Happy Birthday!

Zach and I both celebrate our Birthday in August! Yep, we’re both Virgos! But that’s a whole different story ๐Ÿ™‚

If you are celebrating a Birthday this month, we wish you the happiest of days! And we want to help you celebrate all month!ย 

๐ŸŽ‰๐ŸŽˆ๐ŸŽ‚

We love the month of August! We get lots and lots of free stuff that month! From free food to great discounts, we are always happy to get those emails! It’s great for us, as it helps with travel costs!

Without a doubt, my favorite is Krispy Kreme! Something about warm, fresh donuts! Free Donuts! A WHOLE DOZEN! We ended up sharing with friends, because everyone needs a warm, melt in your mouth donut ๐Ÿ˜

I’m still looking for the one place that makes me rethink the Krispy Kreme dozen donuts as my favorite!ย 

I’ve compiled a HUGE list of free things you can get during your Birthday month! I have successfully signed up for most of these offers!ย 

โ†˜Want to sign up for over 250 Birthday Freebies?โ†™

Happy Birthday!
Click Here!

 


Sign up now for Birthday Freebies for Next Year!

Most companies require sign up at minimum the month before your Birthday! So if you didn’t sign up, it’s never too late! Signing up for all of them at one time can be overwhelming, so I suggest looking through the list and finding those places you already frequent and start there! You can always go back and sign up for a few extra! I’ve signed up for most, but not all ~ it’s a long list ๐Ÿ™‚ย 


Happy Birthday

Please keep in mind that all freebies are subject to the terms outlined in the email you receive! Some don’t require a purchase but some do! It’s always a great idea to check with your server, customer service or call ahead!ย 

Part 18 ~ Journey into North Carolina

Journey into the mountains ๐Ÿ˜ณ


We drove out of Tennessee on some eerily foggy roads, so we didn’t go very far each day, intentionally!

Our first stop was in Mt Airy, NCย 

There we found The Whittling Wall! This was an exceptional piece of art! The bricks were laid out perfectly, the grout was placed just perfectly on each figure! And they are depicted after real life people!ย  Click on the picture to see more of this amazing wall!

Journey

Mayberry?

So while driving around Mt Airy, we realized that Mayberry was a predominant theme! While researching things to do in the area, Andy Griffith came up multiple times, as did Mayberry! So it’s no surprise we saw this parked on Main Street!

And this mural right around the corner!

It was a very cute town, and one I wouldn’t mind returning to! It wasn’t too crowded, but had lots of things to see and do!

Granite, Granite..Everywhere!

We also happened upon the World’s Largest Granite Quarry! But… we couldn’t do much more than drive by the Main Office ๐Ÿ™ Which was cool, since it was made entirely out of granite! In fact, the whole town was made of granite! Ok, not the whole town, but a very good portion of it was granite laden!

On our way out of town, this guy seemed content to send us off! I believe at one time, his hand waved! He was parked outside Young Enterprises, but seemed like the whole place was non-functional!


Slow crawling down North Carolina, our next stop was not too far away! We hit Winston-Salem next and found quite a few unique things there! Big things! I know we missed a lot, but it’s been cold and I simply cannot handle the cold! So we do short trips and I save some stuff for us to do the next time around! I usually find 20-30 unique things to do in a 30 mile radius of where we are staying and then narrow it down to 4 or 5 in one day! And those things are dependent on location! I have it down to a pretty decent science so we don’t do a lot of backtracking!

The Journey via Google Maps

My Google Maps is hilarious when I first open it, 7,000 saved places (ok, a bit of an exaggeration, I probably only have 100)! But the flags pop up when I open Maps! I have managed to group them together so that I can look at one specific type of place at a time! Groups like Big Things, Weird Things, Herb Shops, Campgrounds, etc! It really does help when we are looking for something specific to have just those pop up on the map!

The Big Things

So our first big thing was The Big Chair in Thomasville! Now, it’s not the “World’s Largest” Chair, but it’s the World’s Largest Duncan Phyfe Chair! Either way, it’s BIG!

From there we went to check out The World’s Largest Chest of Drawers!


How did we miss this on the Journey ?!?

And SOMEHOW we missed the World’s Largest Highboy Dresser just miles away from the Chest of Drawers!ย  UGG ๐Ÿ™

Guess we have to go back through that way now ! ๐Ÿ˜†ย 


But we did manage to find an incredibly cool Shell Gas Station on our way back to Winston-Salem!!

Now, it’s no longer in use, but it is definitely worth stopping to check out! Someone clearly cares about this location, because it is very well kept!ย 

Journey

Click the guy in the window to check out all the pics!! He scared me when I peeped in the window !!! Serves me right!๐Ÿ˜


Coffee…No Coffee

Our last stop in Winston-Salem was The Mickey Coffee Pot Marker! It looked HUGE in pictures, but when we arrived, it was smaller than we were expecting! I was kinda hoping it was a coffee shop! But, still amazing and a great backstory ! So that makes it way better than a random huge coffee pot!

Click For More Pics!

The Journey Continues!

At this point we headed further south! Our destination is St Augustine, Florida to see my children and help some friends! But that isn’t until the end of March, so we are slow going it! Not sure what we will find on the way, but we are open to whatever comes in our path!

Until Next Time!


Missed a few parts of the story?? Catch up here!!

Parts 1-10Part 11 Part 12 Part 13 Part 14 Part 15 Part 16 Part 17ย 


Love the hats we wear? Zach makes them! Check out his work here

UnBoxBoardom Subscription

UnBoxBoardom

Being on the road 24/7/365 is exciting… most of the time! But we get bored sometimes!

We don’t have a TV, but we will stream on our laptop ๐Ÿ™‚

Our favorite shows are baking and cooking shows, but we are fans of most reality type shows (well, not dating shows, sorry!)

We play cards, but with just 2 of us it does get old fast! And we switch back and forth between two games, Uno and Phase 10 ! We look for other card games, but haven’t found one we thought we would enjoy!

So I was thrilled when UnBoxBoardom wanted to work with me!

I LOVE board games!! And Zach likes games in general, so this is going to be exciting to learn and play new games together! Well, truth be told, we are SUPER SUPER competitive! (like Zach will cheat ~ make up rules that only he can follow ~ you gotta watch him ๐Ÿ˜‚) I’m excited to also play with our other Skoolie friends ~ both adults and kids ๐Ÿ™‚

Because we are so competitive, we tend to bend the rules on games we know well! Maybe not bend, but let’s face it, we all have our own set of “family rules” for most games! I can think of 4 different ways (or more, who’s keeping track ๐Ÿ˜† ) that I have played Monopoly! And Uno! Every one has a few extra rules or rules simply omitted! So new games that we actually have to learn the rules together will alleviate the “the way we played” rules!

Undoubtedly that won’t last and one of us will suddenly remember the rules differently

Here is an excerpt from their site!!

It’s time to unplug and play! With an UnboxBoardom subscription box you can easily discover and enjoy the hottest and best new board games. The risk of buying board games that are not fun or too hard to understand is minimized because we do all the research for you. We know which are the best board games because we’ve played them with our own families.

โ†˜And this statement right here is huge for me!โ†™

Also, because we want everyone to be able to enjoy the thrill, excitement and personal interaction from playing board games, for every 10 new board game subscription box signups, we’ll donate a board game to an organization that helps kids who can’t afford one.

UnBoxBoardom

So what kind of games do they send out ?!?! Here are last months choices!

They actually have 2 subscription options (which you can change by emailing them and letting them know in advance of your next shipment!)

The first option is picking the game yourself or “I want to be the Expert” ๐Ÿ˜ With this option you will get an email at the beginning of the month with three different games (with descriptions of each) for you to chose from. You then have 5 days to chose your game!

The second option is “Trust The Experts” ~ you get a surprise game each month instead of picking it out yourself!

Here is how the boxes shake out  ~ You have three choices on how often you want a box!

UnBoxBoardom Subscription Options

From here, you have three choices on how you can pay ๐Ÿ˜Š


The Gaming Guru (Monthly Game)

 


The Casual Gamer (Bi-Monthly Game)


Board Game Beginner (Quarterly Game)

With any option combination, the games are sent out on the 15th of the month (unless, of course, it falls on a Sunday!)


Our Readers Receive FREE Shipping on their first box at UnboxBoardom.com with Code: USFAMILY or you can click HERE for the coupon!

UnBoxBoardom

UnBoxBoardom Things to Know!

~ Shipping is $6 (after using the coupon above for free shipping on first game)

~ Love the game? It’s yours to keep ๐Ÿ˜€

~  DON’T love the game? Contact support and they will make things right!

~ Have a Trust the Experts Subscription and you receive a game you already have? Just reach out to customer service within 7 days and they will walk you through returning the game (unopened!!) and they will send you a replacement game or refund you, whichever you prefer!

~ Have a chose your own game subscription and you don’t like any of the featured selections? Again, reach out to them, they will have alternative options from the previous months!!

Seriously, all you have to do is reach out to them and they will assist you with whatever issues you have!



Happy Birthday Freebies!

Birthday Freebies!

Zach and I both celebrate our Happy Birthday in August! Yep, we’re both Virgos!

If you are celebrating a Birthday this month, we wish you the happiest of days!

๐ŸŽ‰๐ŸŽˆ๐ŸŽ‚

We love the month of August! We get lots and lots of free stuff that month! From free food to great discounts, we are always happy to get Birthday emails!

Without a doubt, my favorite was Krispy Kreme! Something about warm, fresh donuts! Free Donuts! A WHOLE DOZEN! We ended up sharing with friends, because everyone needs a warm, melt in your mouth donut ๐Ÿ˜

I’ve compiled a HUGE list of free things you can get during your Birthday month! I have successfully signed up for all of these free birthday items!

โ†˜Want to sign up for over 400 Birthday Freebies?โ†™

Happy Birthday!
Click Here!

 


Sign up now for Birthday Freebies for Next Year!

Most companies require sign up at minimum the month before your Birthday! So if you didn’t sign up, it’s never too late! Signing up for all of them at one time can be overwhelming, so I suggest looking through the list and finding those places you already frequent and start there! You can always go back and sign up for a few extra!


Birthday Freebies!

Part 17 ~ Mad Max Catio Phase 3

The Mad Max Catio Continues..

It’s been a minute since I did a Mad Max Catio update!

So, last update left us at the pass through between the shop and the house! We cut a hole in the wall to put a pocket door in so we have access to the shop from inside the bus, but can close it off when we need to. But that’s another project!

Mad Max Catio

โฌ‡โฌ‡โฌ‡โฌ‡โฌ‡โฌ‡โฌ‡โฌ‡โฌ‡โฌ‡

Scabbers decided to be in the pic, and we are in the middle of remodel, so it’s a mess ๐Ÿ˜‚


The Tree to The Catio

They needed a way to get up to the pass through, so Zach built a “tree” for them to climb!

Mad Max Catioย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย  ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย 

Zach added a larger platform at the top so the cats had more room to turn around if they need to. He attached some grippy carpet to the top so they could grab on when going up!

We decided to put the cat food area on the top of this location! First, it was a great way to make sure they went up there. Second, our dog, Louie, LOVES cat food ๐Ÿ˜ก

ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย ย 

Less Mad Max, More King of the Jungle ๐Ÿ˜

From the “Kat Kitchen” they need to traverse over the tree limb to the other side, and either do the same on the second limb or tightrope walk along the bookshelf edge ๐Ÿ˜‚

The boys have the tree part down to a science

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Heddy jumps from the kitchen area to the area above the bathroom. We don’t really want them over there, as it’s a storage area for things that don’t need cat hair on them!

However, Heddy is a work in progress, she has been spotted on the tree, but mostly not ๐Ÿ™


The Mad Max Catio Obstacle Course begins…

And that brings us to the pass through! We plan to put a trap door there so we can prevent them from either side when we need to! Like on days we are parked in a WalMart just to go shop, and don’t want cats escaping. We can close them off in the shop while we unload!

From the house side
From the shop side

To begin, they need to walk along a small beam

then embark onto a larger board (Scabbers has to tummy crawl through this space!)

after that, it’s onto the cabinet inside the shop

And onto the back brow area, where they will find the hole to get into the cabinet!

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They do have an alternative route to the top of the brow from inside the shop, and the boys have been seen using it!

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Finally, down into the cabinet to the litter box through the shelves.

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Success!

The litter box belongs in the bottom drawer but we have been acclimating them to the new location a little at a time, and the bottom shelf is it’s last stop before the drawer!


We added a cat door for them to get outside too! It can be kept locked if we don’t want them outside during travel.

Mad Max Catio

This is their path inside the cabinet! It is accessible from the top shelf!


Stay tuned for Video of them traversing the entire obstacle course!!


There are a few things resting against the cabinet that allow them to get down ~ when they finally figure that door thing out ๐Ÿฑ Clearly we need to work with them more!

There are plans for that area that haven’t been completed yet, so the “rug slide” we are currently using is completely temporary ๐Ÿ˜น Obviously!

Our intention is to have the back deck area as clear of items as possible so that we can put some cat play zones out there.

Or maybe just a cat tree ๐Ÿ˜‚

Stay tuned for scenes from the next Mad Max Catio Phase…



Missed a few parts of the story?? Catch up here!!

Parts 1-10Part 11 Part 12 Part 13 Part 14 Part 15 Part 16ย 


Love the hats we wear? Zach makes them! Check out his work here


 

Can We Revisit the Instant Pot?!

Revisit the Instant Pot?!

Why yes,  let’s revisit the Instant Pot!

I’ve learned to appreciate it so much! Well, for a few things anyway! Apparently there is a vast world of Instant Pot recipes, and for that reason, I’ll continue using it!

Let’s talk about my favorite food item in the Instant Pot! Or at least the ones I have tried!

POTATOES!

I absolutely LOVE potatoes! But honestly, the prospect of making mashed potatoes on the stove top is daunting! Especially with my heat intensity issues on the current stove!

So the first thing I love is how easy it is to set up! Seriously!

Peel. Cut. Drop in Pot. Cover with Water. Go.

Ok, so let’s go a bit more step by step!

Cut potatoes in equal sized rounds and toss them in the pot! There is no specific amount, I just cut enough to cover the bottom, but not overlap too much!

Cover with water and add Salt and Pepper to Taste!

Set your lid, close the vent and cook on manual pressure for 8 minutes! I always turn the Keep Warm button off!

Once the timer goes off, do a quick release !

Drain your potatoes! Add in whatever you normally use in your mashed potatoes! I use butter, milk and S&P! Or add in sour cream!

Then just mash away!

Delicious! Every time! And I don’t have to worry about a pot boiling over on the stove! Obviously a very important thing, since I mentioned it earlier!

Revisit the instant pot
Finished Product

Making mashed potatoes in the instant pot significantly cuts down on the mess I have to clean up afterward with boil overs! This will be a continued theme throughout this post! Obviously boil overs drive me nuts!


Baked Potatoes…๐Ÿ˜‹

I love me some baked potatoes! But honestly, it’s not something I think of immediately, usually not until it is entirely too late to go baking them in the oven! And since we don’t have a microwave, there wasn’t another option!

Before NOW!

I love how simple it is!

First ~ Put the steamer basket in the pot!

Second ~ Put a few washed and poked potatoes on the basket.  I use about 4 or 5, depending on size. I always go for uniform size so that they cook evenly! Uniform(ish) ๐Ÿ˜† No 2 potatoes are the same!

Anyway, 4-5 potatoes, kinda close in size. Don’t forget to poke some holes in the potatoes.

Last ~ Lid on. Vent closed. Pressure cook on high as follows:

Small ~ 5 oz ~ 12 minutes
Medium ~ 6-7 oz ~ 14 minutes
Large ~ 8 oz ~ 16 minutes
Extra Large ~ 10-14 oz ~ 18-20 minutes

At the end of the cooking time, allow the Instant Pot to do a natural release. Open the lid and pop those babies out with some tongs!

Then, of course, top with your favorites!

Clearly faster than the oven!


I have made Hard Boiled Eggs as well!

Again, not much different in the timing as compared with stove top, but definitely worth not having to watch for pot boil over ๐Ÿ˜†

Besides, they are super easy to peel! I love that aspect! I hate when I have to pick at an egg ๐Ÿ™„ Mostly because I have very little patience in the kitchen ๐Ÿ˜ work in progress, obviously ๐Ÿ˜‘

 

Perfect Egg ๐Ÿ˜

Yolk just the way I like it!

Eggs, Eggs, Eggs….

First, put the steamer basket in the Pot.  Second, Place the eggs on top. I made 6 eggs because that’s how many fit in without being crowded!

I have a 6 qt Instant Pot and the minimum amount of water is 1.5 Cups, so that’s how much I put in.

Finally ~ Set your lid, close the vent, and Manual Cook on low for (3 minutes for soft boiled, 4 minutes for medium boiled, 5 minutes for hard boiled). Turn Keep Warm Off!

Allow to do a Natural Release.

That’s it! Once the pressure is released, pop open the lid and have some delicious eggs!

Obviously an easy alternative to the stove! In fact, it’s the only way I will cook them now!


And White Rice was a definite try!

Again, super easy. Same rules apply here as with stove top.  Two cups of water to one cup of rice. I’m sure you can adjust the water ratio to your liking, we like our rice a little sticky and this ratio works perfectly! So adjust accordingly ๐Ÿ™‚ Clearly sticking to your instant pots minimum amount!

 

High Pressure Cook for 4 minutes, and do a Natural Release!


Will I continue to Revisit the Instant Pot?

Heck yes!

I’ve really just done these few things successfully! Tried other things, such as frozen chicken when we forgot to take something out for dinner that morning, but it was meh ๐Ÿ˜!

Of course, I wish I had gotten one a long time ago! At this point, it has made my starch making so much easier, and best of all, cleaner!

Next thing for me to try is proteins ! Let’s see what kind of recipes I can find for that! Soon!

Time to experiment! Along with my Personal Taste Tester, Zach ๐Ÿ˜

Part 16 ~ Tennessee Bound!

… Finally Tennessee Bound

Because Friday the 13th seemed like the perfect day to continue our eastward trek!๐Ÿ™„ But we were determined to be Tennessee bound ! Of course, we had no idea that it was, in fact, Friday the 13th๐Ÿ‘ป

We decided that since we are not pressed for time in our travels, we would take shorter trips! Travel around 100-150 miles a day, find some random places to stop at rather than just passing by! Seeing more things using the same amount of gas!

We continued our work on the Mad Max Catio, and updates are coming soon on that! It’s super exciting how well the cats have adapted to the additions, and the journey to the back patio! Stay tuned for that!

Little Rock, Arkansas

Before we officially headed out of Arkansas, we stopped at a Harvest Host just outside of Little Rock! There were a few things we wanted to see, plus it was a great stopping point in the trip!

One of the best parts of my planned “excursions” to find anything weird, wacky, large or small, is that most times I only have an address! No business name, just the address, sometimes just a crossroad, sometimes an entire block location.ย  So lots of times I don’t know what is at the next stop! It only tells me the address!

Nancy’s Mystery Excursions ..?..

Not sure how “fun” Zach thinks that aspect is ๐Ÿค”

The first oddity we found was The First Human Dissection Location! After a few laps around the park, we found the monument!!

Click the Pic for more!

When I plan our trips at our stopping points, I have a ton of places I look for things to do! I always look for “World’s Largest” near me, and the most hilarious stuff pops up! But lots of times, unique things do! And this next location was one of those things! It was listed as “an 80-ton Chinese Gate”, so that was enough for me to want to check it out!

Click Me for More Pics!

And what we found was pretty cool! The H.U. Lee International Gate and Garden!

In the middle of the concrete jungle was this cute little South Korean Garden. It wasn’t overly large, or small, but just right! Enough to find some peace!

Peace and Quiet


Right around the corner from the Garden was this Marker! I thought it was a clock at first, then a sundial, but it is, in fact, a compass! Clearly ๐Ÿค”



In my quest for all things large, I came across The Trail of the Whispering Giants! It’s a series of wood carved sculptures by Artist Peter Toth. There are at least one in every state. I know that I read some of them have been moved, destroyed by whatever, or simply missing! But I love looking for series of things! So, we stopped and found this guy hiding in the park! Our first, but definitely not our last!


On our way to our last stop, which also happened to be where we were eating lunch, we ran into this lady!

Not sure what she is doing here in the middle of nowhere(ish), but we found her! And I’m pretty sure she isn’t the only one! ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿค”

Soon I’ll have to plan on taking Zach to see the real one! Since that’s not something he has done, and I have!


Choo…Chew?

Now we are getting to the best part of the day! Where we ate lunch!

The All Aboard Grill & Restaurant in Little Rock!

Seriously, they bring your food out by train! What is not to love! The food was good too! There are two tracks with two trains on each track, so the food moves out fairly quickly!

This is the kitchen window where the train picks up its delivery ๐Ÿ˜‹

We got a Shrimp Po’ Boy to split (we always do this when we are out since we never each individually eat an entire meal! Saves on money, and leftover space!)


Finally Tennessee Bound

Our travels finally took us out of Arkansas and into Tennessee!

Our first stop was an overnight stop in Brownsville, Tennessee. Where we saw this amazingly odd metal sculpture!


Big Cities ย ๐Ÿ˜ฏ Tennesse

Then we stopped at some of the larger cities along Route 40 ๐Ÿ˜.

Nashville. And Knoxville.To be more exact!

We stayed a few miles outside of each city, but did travel in to see what they had in the weird and wacky realm.

Here’s what we found!

Nashville Tennessee Area

We only planned one overnight in the Nashville area, so we stayed at another Harvest Host location and got an early start the next morning to sightsee in Nashville, and the surrounding area.

Once again, we were on our “Mystery GPS Stop Excursion” so I never knew what was coming next! I know what’s on the list of things to see, but just not in what order we are actually seeing them !

Let the fun begin

Our first stop was the Giant Whisk!I love to bake (I’m not Baking Show worthy, but that’s a whole different story in this bus!) This also doubles as a bike rack! I’m just glad I didn’t have to move anyone’s bike for this pic!

๐Ÿ˜„Kidding, I wouldn’t, plus they’d be locked in place๐Ÿ˜„ Obviously ๐Ÿ˜„


Mariachi Frogs in Tennessee

Then we passed these dudes on the way to our next stop, so I grabbed a few quick pics!ย  Frogs are cool little creatures๐Ÿธ


We stopped in Shelby Park next to find something that was called the dripping bird. We found a stainless steel bird that appeared to be melting. Reflection. It was unique, and looking at it through the swirling hole in the big piece of granite!

Tennessee Bound
Click for More pics!

Music Fans…

Finally, the last stop on our mystery excursion … The Grand Ole Opry!

Figured we couldn’t be in Nashville and not stop by! It was a quick stop, since it was still freezing outside (ok, maybe not freezing, but freezing to ME!) Definitely worth a return visit (in warmer months!)

After all, it had HUGE guitars ๐Ÿ˜€


Knoxville, Tennessee…

This was our last stop in Tennessee! It was kind of a dreary day, but we didn’t have the luxury of waiting for a better day! Especially since the weather didn’t appear to be improving drastically in the next few days!ย 

So we made the best of it! Ran to and from some locations in the cold, shivered a bit, bailed on some stuff. Yet overall, we had a great time!


Our first stop was the SunSphere!

We paid $5 each to go to the Observation Deck just because we wanted to see what it was all about! It took about 3 minutes to purchase the tickets on my phone, right there at the base of the elevator!

The views were great, but I’m sure on a sunnier day, they are amazing!


Next stop … The Knoxville Convention Center!

My main goal at the Knoxville Convention Center was seeing The World’s Largest Rubik’s Cube! I’m an 80’s kid, so it was kind of an absolute must for me!

It was large, and it almost took me out! I honestly thought it was a stationary cube, so when going to get my pic by it, I leaned fully into it! And went tumbling down! Did some kind of pathetic front roll, laughing the entire time! This video is me after I ran off, laughing so hard I had to sit down!ย 

Good thing we were alone in the building ๐Ÿ˜‚

Click on the Rubik’s Cube to see more pics of it, plus all the other artwork we found while we were there!


Is that a HUGE Ball ?!?!

So while we were up in the Observatory, we saw a HUGE basketball!

Yes, of course we went and checked it out! And it was actually next on the list ๐Ÿ˜„

It’s the World’s Largest Basketball! That sucker weighs 10 Tons and has 96,000 dimples on it! It’s definitely LARGE!

Click For More!

We found some randomness as well! Weird stuff, big stuff, artsy stuff… our kind of stuff ๐Ÿ˜

So first, we have some random “trippy” stairs! The pics don’t give the same effect that it does in person! It was also a very drab day, so the lighting was non-existant!! Still an amazing piece of art!


The Torchbearer

This guy always has his torch lit! I just love that!ย ย 

ย ย  ย 

He also has a dog, at least that’s what I’m going with! He was hanging out in the same park, so there’s that!


Walking back to our car, we ran into this dinosaur in the “weeds” ! It wasn’t really in the middle of nowhere, it was near the entrance to the McClung Museum of Natural History! Click on the pic to check out the Museum’s Homepage!


So we spotted this dude, just out doing his job! Delivering some hungry college student their food!

And that concluded our time in the Nashville area! It was very busy, so we limited our sightseeing, knowing we will be back around!


Headed out of Nashville early the next morning, and arrived at our next stop not too long after! We are still doing short drive days to enjoy the sights, and to allow the bus to rest more while driving through the mountains!

We stopped in the Johnson City/Kingsport Area to check out some of the things they had there! It also happened to be the right distance to drive for the day๐Ÿ™‚

Our first find was another Peter Toth Sculpture ~ Junaluska!

ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย ย  ๐Ÿ™‚


There we found more randomness. Seems like so many restaurants have HUGE stuff!ย 

โ†˜Click Here to see all the Large Food Randomness in this area!โ†™


And our last stop in this area was pretty cool! It was a random hand holding molecules, and another set of molecules !

There’s More Here!

 


And now…. we are …

Out of Tennessee Bound!

So Until Next Time!


Missed a few parts of the story?? Catch up here!!

Parts 1-10Part 11 Part 12 Part 13 Part 14 Part 15ย 


Love the hats we wear? Zach makes them! Check out his work here


 

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