A bit about us...

We are a modern family of three, living on less than two acres with a 3,000 square foot garden that meets our produce needs and allows us to share with friends and neighbors. Our laying flock of chickens seems to expand each year as we raise chicks each Spring to replace older hens. This blog is more of a journal, if you will, for us to chronicle and share our experiences in the yard, garden and kitchen. It is our hope that along the way a few folks might learn something, be entertained, or simply enjoy sharing in our stories and the lessons we learn on a daily basis. I named the blog after the times when I am the happiest, when I am elbow deep in earth.

Monday, April 30, 2012

A little pick me up

As always, be aware, this post may contain spoilers.  In most cases, we try to keep things vague and non-specific, but occasionally there may be pictures or descriptors that give some secrets away.  That said, enjoy the read about what was intended to be a quick trip out to lift my mood!

#82 was found near this area
Friday, April 6, we were off work for Good Friday, and I found my self in a bit of a funk. I couldn't seem to get my mood to match the gorgeous day outdoors, so Shane suggested we go out and grab a few caches as that always seems to fix it!
Geocaching offers me an escape from whatever is worrying me at the time.  If work is tough, or money is tight, it all melts away when we are out in nature on the hunt. We see beautiful places, we clear our heads and life finds some perspective. This day was precisely what I needed!  We started out near home with a guardrail find and discovered a serene piece of road that was therapy for the soul. There were remnants of some sort of structure, and a beautiful bit of the Saline River to admire from the road.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Frank and Beans!!!!

Once Josh got bitten by the geocaching bug, there was no stopping him.  After the 19 cache adventure, he wanted to get out for more. I had a couple of errands I had to run but knew that with Josh taking the day to get some errands run himself, there had to be a little caching in the day. After setting up his account the night before, where he used name made from his nicknames from his youth, we hit the road with the monkey for a little more "treasure hunting". The group consisted with two-thirds of the Unlikely Family and the newest member of the group, Ralph J. Beans.
View photo 1.JPG in slide show
Find #77

I needed to head to the local hardware store to gather some ideas for a project I am working on, so I checked the app on my phone to see if there were some caches in the area. Sure enough, right next to the store we were headed to there was a cache.  That was where we were going to start.  The GPS showed where the location for   You Silly Skirt Lifters are the Lowest was, but as we hit the zone, we had trouble finding it.  We searched some places where a cache normally would be hidden; there was a hollowed out tree nearby, a couple of light poles with "skirts", even a pine tree.  None of the tricks I had learned from past caches helped find this one.  Back to the drawing board.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A short trip out, er, um, April Fools!

As always, spoiler alert!

Looking back to April 1...
After a marvelous time with family, Lexi asked those who could to join us for a little geocaching so she could share her love and skill for it with them.  Unfortunately, most everyone had pressing plans, with the exception of her "Uncle Joshy."  He had expressed interest earlier in the day, so after a little clean up at the party, we headed out to see if we could show Josh how to cache.  We figured we would catch a few smileys and he would want to head home before it got too late in the evening.  After all, we didn't set out until after 3:00 in the afternoon...

#58, finally!
Conveniently, there was a cache hidden right outside our picnic location.  We had made an attempt on it before, without luck.  In fact, we had met a nice man and his two delightful daughters one evening while they were making an attempt on the same cache.  They were newer to caching than we were, and very excited.  We exchanged information and we shared with them our blog so they could follow along our journeys.  I am excited to say they have started a blog of their own,  Adventures in Geocaching, which you will see in Our Favorite Blogs to Visit list to the right of this post as well.  I encourage anyone who is excited about caching to follow them too.  They actually found the hide outside the brewery before we did - Go Cache Kids!  On this day, we made the find with a brand new cacher in tow.

Monday, April 16, 2012

One sweet haul and one heck of a good time! A lesson in life and the evolution of Ball jars (in part)

Saturday, I got a quick text from my dear friend saying, "Five boxes of used canning jars at an auction - 25 jars, many blue, per box - $5 each.  SCORE!!" This was followed by "Come see them!" How could I resist?

I went right over and while she washed, I did a preliminary sort. When I went home for the evening, I printed out some of the resources I have found on the history of the Ball brand and their logo, to take back with me on Sunday. Armed with information, we set about identifying what treasures were in her haul, and to determine an actual count. My preliminary sort from the day before was helpful here, as I had grouped by color and similar logos to try to separate time frames of production. When we were confident we had them all ordered chronologically, we began cataloging the inventory and photographing each style for reference. There was a marvelous mix of blue and clear Ball, aqua and clear Atlas, lavender and clear Kerr, as well as several other interesting fruit jars and miscellaneous jars produced by Ball and Atlas for commercial purposes (these originally came with food in them from the grocery store - pasta sauce, commercially canned fruit. etc.). The commercial jars were labeled with the actual product label, so the jar manufacturer was molded quietly into the bottoms of these jars.

Chronological lineup
I spent the entire day (from noon-ish to 7pm or so) with Vicki, organizing, cataloging, and all-around appreciating these beautiful and historic gems. We learned together about some of the history of the company, associated patents and government regulations, all of which shaped the history of this line of fruit/canning jars. We lined them up for a "family" photo and Vicki took a video of the progression.

Aside from the learning and productivity we experienced all afternoon, the greatest gift was not that she sent me home with some beautiful jars to add to my collection (although it was extremely generous and is unbelievably appreciated), but the amazing gift of friendship. We got to know each other better and had what we decided was a proper, soul-feeding Sunday afternoon. As humans, we all need a day now and then that recharges our being and revitalizes our spirit. This was the sort of day we had. We bonded, shared, laughed and let go of the stresses of the workweek together. It was, I believe, the greatest gift that can be shared between friends. I made sure to tell her how  much it meant to me and how blessed I am to call such a lovely person my friend. Everyone should be so lucky!

Enough with the mushy stuff. Let me cover some of the history we pieced together. Please keep in mind, this is the assembled history of only those jars she acquired in the lot. It is in NO WAY a complete reference, nor am I an expert in any way. All dates are approximate, as there was often overlap and ambiguity as to when the molds were removed from production and new ones were introduced. I will list the major resources from which I gleaned my information and I highly recommend anyone interested go check out the information for themselves. That said, here is what we learned:

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Happy 6th Birthday little monkey!

Miss Alexis turned 6 on March 27, which was a Tuesday.  We couldn't do much that evening since we get home so late and it was a school night.  We asked her where she wanted to have dinner, if she could choose anywhere; she chose Mario's, our family favorite Mexican place.  Of course, we treated her to ice cream after at the Spotted Cow.  It was a great evening as a family, but not much in the way of celebration and bedtime comes so fast on work nights!

With the weather being as nice as it has been, we decided a picnic would be great.  She could play on a big playground structure, we could eat and visit and celebrate her six solid years as a great kid.  There would be cake too!  Along came Sunday, and with it did NOT come warm, sunny weather.  In fact it was damp and quite cool...not very conducive to picnicking.  The only back up location we could think of that was kid friendly that would allow us to bring the picnic indoors (food and all) was OG.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A shot at redemption

With a bit of time to kill on a Saturday, what do you suppose we turned to?  I will tell you - redeeming ourselves.  We have been unable to find one cache in particular on more than one occasion so we decided to make a quick trip out and try to find it again. This cache is a micro (small but not tiny) that is supposedly hidden in plain sight, but cleverly so.  After a great deal of searching, confusion and walking in circles,we came up empty handed once again.  We will have to take another shot at redeeming ourselves another day, I guess. We didn't want to simply go home with tails tucked in failure, so we decided to attempt another to end on a high note.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

More after work fun

As always, this post may contain spoilers!

#51, first in a parking structure
Hitting a milestone like #50 didn't slow us down.  On the contrary, we were even more excited to get back out there.  On lunch, I decided to check the area around the office for caches, and, what do you know!? There was one located in the parking structure adjacent to our office building. I told Shane about it and we decided to make a quick trip over to locate it before it was time to get back into our day of meetings.  We had never located one in a parking structure before, so we weren't sure of the hide technique.  Being multilevel, we found ourselves searching several floors once we pinned down which side it was on (thanks to the satellite imagery on the app for our phones).  Shane made the find without too much trouble and we were logging another smiley.  There was a trackable inside this particular hide, but it had a huge laminated photo hitchhiker that would have been difficult to place in another cache, so we passed on it.  It was neat to score a find on lunch and leads me to think that we may have to plan a little picnic lunch caching later in the season.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Preserving the wild - Wild Violet Jelly

Just a weed, but so tasty!

I simply can't believe I didn't write about this last year the first time I made it.  If I did, I sure can't find the post now.  Wild Violet jelly is such a unique and short seasoned treat.  I read about it last spring and decided I had to try it. I just went out and picked the required two cups Saturday morning for a new batch this year.  I hope to make several.  

Since I have had some interest in folks purchasing some of my canned and homemade goods, I am trying to think outside the box and include in my canning some less-than-common items that may appeal to those looking for something different for themselves, or for a gift.  If nothing else, this is a cute novelty item.  It doesn't have to be though, it's actually quite tasty.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

A nice round number, like 50!

After being so close to our 50th find, we couldn't wait to go out and hit our first milestone! March 18, we headed out with just that goal in mind.  We didn't have a lot of time, so we got right to it to get the two finds we needed.  We found yet another local park we never knew existed, and wandered in to check things out.  There were some teenagers that acted very suspiciously when we arrived who made haste in departing at the same time.  Maybe I am getting old, but A LOT more people behave suspiciously to me than what I used to see. However, in my defense, it is also in the news a lot more than in the past as well. :-)

#49 just waiting for Shane!
With all the rain we have had this season, the trails were pretty muddy and soft.  When we realized how far off the path the cache was hidden, Shane decided to grab it himself while we waited on higher ground.  It was tucked under a log and just waiting for him.

This one was one we had saved for some time, as it had the requirement of swapping out ONLY dinosaur prizes.  We had to wait until we found one in another cache to move to this one before we could hunt it.  Today was the day!

St. Patty's Day hunt for treasure

Find #43
As always, WARNING, this post may contain spoilers.  I do my best to conceal the actual location and name of caches to keep from giving too much away, but beware as you read on: :-)

Shane was presented with the opportunity to golf with a coworker from his department St. Patty's Day morning.  OF course, he jumped at the chance.  He rarely spends time "out with the guys" like that, so I was all for it.  I had some errands to run, including a manicure appointment, so I just took the little monkey with me and started the day.  When we were done with our nails, we ran a couple more errands and Lexi thought it would be a good idea to do some "treasure hunting" until Daddy was done "playing with his friends." :-)  Sure do love that little girl!  I agreed, so we headed out.
I spotted one that I thought would be an easy park and grab for Lexi, so we drove up to this light post. I was wrong.  It was not at the base like I expected.  We couldn't find it quickly, so we took a few minutes for a bathroom break and returned to take a second look. With more careful inspection, we found it in that metal box that was hanging on the side of the pole, in a magnetic key holder.  Sneaky! We logged our find and moved to a less populated area to avoid the prying eyes of "muggles."

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Just a fun Friday

Another beautiful day greeted us on March 16.  Lexi had a half day of school, so Shane picked her up and spent the day with her until I could get out of work.  They washed the car, ran an errand or two and set out to log a couple smileys.  They discovered a sweet little natural area nestled between office complexes and searched for the cache that was supposed to be hidden there.

Lexi really enjoyed the opportunity to sit and admire the view.  It was a marshy area with lots of "locals" (ducks, geese and other critters).

#35 - It was all her!
They searched for quite some time with no luck, so they decided to move on to another hunt and to come back with me in tow to help out.  Lexi's special skills came in handy at the next stop.  It was in a place that required a small person to maneuver over some rocks UNDER a sign.  She was extremely excited to make the find herself.  Find #35 goes to her!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A little jaunt after work

Shane meets regularly with Lexi's mom so that they can work together on cohesive parenting in two households.  This often happens on one of our evenings which means that the little monkey and I get to hang out for a while, to let them talk business.  March 13 was one of those meeting dates and it happened to be a particularly lovely afternoon, so we decided to grab a few caches.

The first park we navigated to was gated off and closed for one reason or another, so we headed out to another in hopes of finding some success. As we pulled in, I recognized it as one we had been to a few years ago when Shane and I first started dating.  It's a nice park and appeared to have several caches ready for a hunt!