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You're About to be Redirected to the New Home of Ground Control to Major Mom: 5/1/11 - 5/8/11

Saturday, May 7, 2011

To My RSS Subscribers...

Note: If you don't know what RSS is, it's short for "Really Simple Syndication".  It's a mechanism for having one's blog posts delivered to your inbox, Google Reader or other web syndication tool.  This keeps you from having to visit a webpage every few days.  My new posts can be handed to you on a silver platter!  I RSS-subscribe to about 20 blogs this way and it's great!

I want to apologize to my RSS subscribers in case you had every one of my 500+ blog posts pushed to you over the past 2 weeks as I'd been updating the "labels" on each post.  On 99% of the posts, there were no changes to the post itself, I just added a label or two, that's all.  On those that might have had edits, they were probably to clean out some dead links or freshen up some pictures.

Perhaps you're wondering "What is a 'label'?"  Well, at the bottom of this blog post (right under the time stamp) you'll see one: "blogging".  If you click on that link for "blogging", you'll find all the blog posts that I've labeled as such.

I didn't do this before and recently I've started to regret it.  I have so many smart-ass and punny blog titles that don't help sum up the topic of what I'm writing about.  I was looking for a blog post about Howie's recent injury and the title is "Oops He Did It Again".  (Not to be confused with "Oops I Did It Again" which was about Jim Cantore and The Weather Channel).  That title didn't help me find the post very well, but now that it's labeled "Howie", it'll come up when I do a search.

This will also help me when I'm searching for birds I've blogged about, or flowers, or our travels.

It'll help you too if you have a reason to refer to my blog.  If you only want to subscribe to my blog for certain labels (if you're only interested in my cooking or my moving antics), you can follow these directions.

With the labeling I'm able to bring a couple new features.

I installed a new widget called LinkWithin, which brings you relevant blog posts at the end of each of post.  The labels help the web crawler tool find the relevant posts more easily.

Another feature on the right hand side is the "Label Cloud".  You might have to scroll down a little to see it.  The most relevant labels are sized by how many of each post there is.  I like how it gives an idea of what topics I cover the most.  Click any one of those links and you'll be presented all blog posts with that particular label.

Finally, if you don't do so already, there's a means for you to subscribe to my blogposts via e-mail.  The subscription box is in the upper right.  If you choose to subscribe via this tool, it's anonymous...I only know how many subscribers I have, not who they are.

I need to thank Brandie at The Country Cook for some of the ideas I stole.  I had a pretty innovative blog back in the day when I first started things, but I guess I fell behind with the times.  I finally took the time to play a little catch up!


My First-Ever Blog Post, Revisited!

...which wasn't on this blog.

It was on MySpace in July 2006.

that's just the link to one blog.  To see everything I wrote between July 2006 and August 2007 -- I stood up this blog in December 2007 -- use this link and select the "More" button at the bottom of the page until you get to July 2007 posts.

I'm guessing most of you won't care, and that's okay.  I barely care myself.  I hadn't been to MySpace in quite some time and it's way different  now.  In fact, it's not even really "MySpace", but "My_".  Really???  I connected my Facebook and Twitter accounts to it -- so it isn't sitting absolutely dormant, but really I don't pay that site much mind anymore.


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Friday, May 6, 2011

Mother's Day...Geek Style!

Happy Mother's Day everyone!  Yes a little early, but I have a fun-filled weekend planned so I don't know when I'll write again.

Dave did really well this Mother's Day!

Okay, so he booked his annual trip to visit his model railroading/railfanning friends in Maryland and Pennsylvania for this weekend.  And that's where he is as I type this.  But that was seriously unintentional -- the group he hangs out with belongs to the Conrail Historical Society, and they planned this annual BBQ/membership meeting for the 1st full weekend of May.  That's usually when it is.  But this year, since Mother's Day is on the 2nd Sunday of May...and the 1st Sunday of May was not the first "full" weekend of head hurts just thinking about it.

As we usually do as a military family, when real life gets in the way of a particular holiday, we just choose to celebrate on a different day, so we went out to a nice family dinner last weekend.

But a package arrived yesterday from  I didn't expect anything other than the dinner out...I ask for the same thing every year: a nice day with the family.

Is it what I think it is???

At first I thought, "no", since the package was heavier than what I thought it was.  After all, I hadn't indicated to Dave that I wanted ANYTHING from ThinkGeek.  But he somehow knew.

I didn't know he even realized that there's a t-shirt!  I'd planned to just get myself one eventually.  But he knew, and he got me one!  Perfect gift, perfect size!

What was the heavier-than-a-tshirt item in the box?  It was this:

Does Dave know me or does Dave know me???  I'm so excited to get this book, Cooking for Geeks by Jeff Potter.  This book was featured on GeekMom last December (complete with a giveaway for a free copy) and I'd been interested in getting it for several months.

And before anyone asked, YES, I have the Alton Brown books!

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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Extreme Couponing? Not For This Military Family!

How many of you have seen Extreme Couponing, the reality show on TLC?  Or is it Bravo?  A&E?  Heck, they all seem to run together to me now...

By the way: When did the word "coupon" become a verb?  

I tossed the show on my DVR a couple weeks ago and watched a few episodes.  I learned a lot.

I learned that there are ladies who can invest 30+ hours per week clipping, organizing, planning and executing their weekly grocery trips.

I learned that some of these ladies were downright dishonest with the couponing: taking papers from neighbors' houses, dividing up their transactions to multiply how many coupons they could use, etc.

I learned that with those practices, they could cut their food bills down to $20 per week...and even used the stockpiling techniques to build up a balance on their food bill which they could apply to non-couponed foods, such as meat and produce.

While giggling at this incredible drama the show applies to these ladies (really?  you're mad that you only saved 96% instead of 99% on your grocery bill?  you didn't want to spend more than $10 on $1000 worth of groceries?  then put back 20 of those 50 bottles of mustard!), I learned that I have really slacked off on the work I used to put into my own "couponing".

Jacob actually gets a kick out of watching the show.  Ever the numbers guy, he gets SO excited when they show the cash register reducing that final total.  He's cheering on the ladies and everything!

Of the 8-10 profiles of women on this show that I've seen so far, I've only liked the ones who gave their stockpiles to charity, or to family members.

Extreme Couponing was the name for this movement before the TLC show brought it to mainstream America.  I used to be a diligent (no, not "extreme", just "diligent") couponer from before I got married.  Growing up I helped my Mom clip coupons from the Sunday papers, scoured the sale ads and organized everything in Mom's coupon keeper.  I'd see her save 15-20% on her grocery bills, and it was as simple as tailoring our family's meal plans to what was on sale and what had good coupons.

When I grew up and out of my house, I continued clipping coupons.  I did most of my grocery shopping at my local commissaries, so there weren't the same type of sale ads as in civilian grocery stores.  It was nice having all those special commissary-only coupons.  Also, when we were stationed overseas, our commissaries would take 6-months expired coupons, whoo hoo!

I got a bit lazy in North Carolina.  I began to shop at specialty stores more (Whole Foods, Trader Joe's) which features a lot of non-mainstream brands for which you rarely find coupons.  We weren't near a commissary either.  Our food bill skyrocketed.  I attempted to keep tabs on the sales at our local Harris Teeter and Food Lion stores, but with a newborn and a toddler, it wasn't a priority in our lives.

I severely slacked off clipping the coupons while living in Nebraska.  We didn't subscribe to the newspaper there, which would have been about 1/2 of our coupons.

As fuel prices climb, food prices are climbing industry-wide, and my days of spending $80-100 per week on groceries are now OVER.  It's now a struggle keeping the food bill under $150 per week.

It's time to get back in the saddle and invest a couple hours per week in clipping and organizing coupons!

I don't have the time, fortitude or space to do the "Extreme Couponing".  We are a military family and stockpiling 50 jars of peanut butter simply isn't practical.  Perhaps if I get more diligent I can apply some of the techniques for charitable uses.

I need to take time to get smart on the online, printable coupons available to me.  I also need to learn to mix things up a bit and venture into other stores.  I recently learned that my local Publix grocery store will take coupons from several competitor stores: Winn-Dixie, Target and Walgreen's.

I found this website that features a "Super Couponing 101" guide.  This is probably more my speed and I plan to check it out.

How many of you clip/use coupons?  Are you an "extreme couponer"?  A "super couponer"?

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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Florida Discoveries 10: Dr. Beal's Shell Museum

I call it "Pulling a Maryann".  I see something while driving down the road, so I pull over and take some pictures.

When it's in my neighborhood, that's one thing.  I don't have many problems doing that when I see some pretty flowers.  But today I screeched onto the shoulder off Highway 98 (4-lane, speed limit 55) to get pictures of this building and the historic marker in front of it.  It's a little scary doing ANYTHING other than driving in a straight line, eyes on the road, when on U.S. 98 between the base and Navarre.

But I've been wanting to learn more about this building and today I finally had the time to do it.  It's right on the Santa Rosa County/Okaloosa County line on the north side of U.S. 98.

This is a house that looks seriously out of place on the highway.  It really stuck out and I wondered why it was there.  There are businesses near it, and you can see the recently built homes behind it (on the left edge of the picture).  I don't lose sleep about it or anything, just an observation.

About 2 weeks ago a blue historical marker appeared.  Today I decided to check it out and here's what I learned:

Unfortunately, I can't find anything else about this building or Dr. Beal.  The Summerhouse Restaurant is now closed.  There's a Beal Blvd. in Fort Walton Beach, likely named after this guy.

Here are other pictures of the house that I took today.  

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Sunday, May 1, 2011

Mark Twain Said It Best...

‎"I've never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure."

Dave and I got the news at the same time as most Americans who were watching "live" TV tonight.  We can't believe it!

We knew something was up when Dave got a phone call during church this morning. I was convinced it was related to our killing Qaddafi's son last night with a NATO airstrike in Libya. Dave's commander was on vacation so Dave had to take the lead to get over to the base ASAP for a meeting. It was rather embarrassing to yank the kids out from the 2nd row pews in the middle of the hymn of the day, but I guess by now most of the folks will understand why.

We've been virtually "celebrating" with our Facebook and Twitter friends, first by posting this You Tube audio clip:

Then by posting that quote above by Mark Twain.

If it weren't for our early mornings tomorrow, I'm sure Dave and I would be pouring scotch and tequila and toasting the victory right now. It's neat to see the Americans celebrating in the streets in Washington, D.C.

I can't wait to find out which great Americans were actually there during this mission, and which one pulled the trigger that actually took him out. As one of my Facebook friends declared in his status, that individual will probably never have to buy his own beer again!

But let's keep our diligence America! Terrorist organizations are like animals that can regenerate lost body parts, they can regrow leadership and inspiration so we need to keep aware!

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