Please note that I’m not affiliated with, recommending or receiving payment from any of the companies, places or products mentioned in this post. It’s all just conversation around the campfire. The photos scattered throughout this post were taken today - after Mother Nature spent yesterday dumping a foot of snow on us.
Back in June of last year when Reflections Around the Campfire was just over six months old, I had posted a quiz about my personal preferences so that you, my friends, could get to know me a little bit better (link HERE). Since this blog celebrated its one year anniversary in December, I thought it might be time for another quiz. Let’s see how you do on this one!
#1. Wooded campsite with lots of shade or open campsite with lots of sun?
#2. Money magazine or Cosmopolitan?
#3. Sugar cookie or chocolate chip?
#4. L.L. Bean or Old Navy?
#5. Road bicycle or hybrid?
#6. Häagen Dazs or Ben & Jerry’s?
#7. Oatmeal or shredded wheat?
#8. Walking or jogging?
#9. Stack of pancakes or cheese omelet?
#10. Mexican or Italian?
#11. Regular Joe or French Vanilla?
#12. Colgate or Crest?
#13. Alaska or Hawaii?
#14. Chicken noodle or tomato soup?
#15. House Beautiful magazine or Country Living?
#16. January or July birthday?
#17. Sandwich or salad for lunch?
#18. Laundry or vacuuming?
#19. Cooking or grocery shopping?
#20. Cabela’s or Bass Pro Shops?
#21. Halloween or Thanksgiving?
#22. Crunchy or creamy peanut butter?
#23. Splitting wood or gardening?
#24. Nikon or Canon?
#25. Front porch sitting or back patio lounging?
#1. Wooded campsite – That was a giveaway. If you guys didn’t get that right, I’d be surprised. I’ll bet the rest of the questions were a little more difficult.
#2. Money – I subscribe to about a half dozen magazines and Cosmo will never be one of them. It clashes with my jeans and hiking boots.
|This is what it looked like around our house today.|
#4. L.L. Bean – I never find anything I like at Old Navy but I always find lots of stuff I like at L.L. Bean. My frugal heart doesn’t like it when I wander through an LLB store or browse through one of their catalogs because LLB products are fairly pricey. But the quality is excellent, the products hold up well, the staff provides excellent customer service and, if I watch for sales and use the Cash Rewards from my Discover card, I can keep my frugal heart from breaking when I shop there. I absolutely love their fleece-lined flannel shirts – an excellent addition to my wardrobe for winters here in the northeast. And our daughter, Kyra, and our son’s girlfriend, Anya – to whom we had given LLB’s travel organizers one year as Christmas gifts – have both commented that the bathroom organizers were a welcome and extremely useful gift. Another unique Christmas gift from L.L. Bean was a custom jigsaw puzzle of our neighborhood that I bought for my husband, Alan. I supplied our address, and a personalized puzzle was created detailing the roads and mountains in the approximately three mile area around our house. It even included a house-shaped puzzle piece representing us! I find a lot to love at L.L. Bean. Old Navy? Not so much.
#5. Hybrid – When Alan and I go biking, we’re out for a comfortable ride for the purpose of enjoying the scenery; mountain bikers we definitely are not. But, since we seek out bike trails when we travel, we never know what kind of biking opportunities we’re going to come upon. If all the trails we rode were smooth asphalt, we probably would have gone with road bikes. But, since each bike trail has its own personality, we’ve traveled on dirt and gravel, as well as blacktop. A number of years ago, a bike specialist at Sports Authority helped us pick out the bikes that would be most appropriate for the way we’d be using them. The resulting purchase was a couple of hybrid Diamondbacks (on sale!) that ended up being an excellent choice and have held up well in our travels.
#6. Ben & Jerry’s – A socially conscious company that began in an old gas station in Vermont with a $5.00 correspondence course in ice cream making from Penn State, Ben and Jerry’s somehow appeals to me based on its origin alone. (Häagen Dazs, while sounding very European, was actually created in the Bronx. Yes, Häagen Dazs is an all-American ice cream.) But, no matter what its origin, if Ben and Jerry’s wasn’t the ice cream designated by my palate as the most delicious ice cream I’ve ever had, I wouldn’t buy it. While I admire Ben and Jerry’s creativity regarding the names of their ice creams (The Tonight Dough, anyone?), it’s the super creamy texture, incredible taste and plentiful add-ins that made me a fan. Over the years, my favorite flavors have included Vanilla Health Bar Crunch and Coffee Coffee Buzz Buzz (the name is just as delightful as the taste) and a walk through the Flavor Graveyard at the Ben and Jerry’s Factory in Vermont would, no doubt, bring several others to mind. To be fair, I have given Häagen Dazs a shot, but it will be Ben and Jerry’s that you’ll find in my freezer. I have to admit that there is another ice cream company that gives Ben and Jerry’s a run for its money and that’s Oregon based Tillamook. You know, the Tillamook Cheese people? Well they make excellent ice cream, too. We can’t get it here in the northeast and our friend, Kevin, in Oregon occasionally reminds us of that by sending pics from the Tillamook Visitor Center or of a freezer full of Tillamook ice cream in his local grocery store. (You know, Kevin, that’s mean. Really mean.) The best solution Alan and I have come up with is to use up everything in our RV freezer and pack it completely full of Tillamook ice cream whenever we’re out west and turning for home. Hey! Don’t judge! If you’re an east coast ice cream connoisseur and tasted Tillamook, I’m betting you would do the same thing. When we get home, I tuck it all in our big freezer – right next to the pints of Ben and Jerry’s.
#7. Oatmeal – You might not believe this after all the talk about chocolate chip cookies and ice cream, but I really do try to eat healthy foods most of the time. Breakfast is usually oatmeal - the real thing, not the flavored-instant-won’t-hold-you-for-an-hour oatmeal that comes in individual packets. I don’t even dirty a pan to cook it. (No microwave in our house. Let me remind you again, no judging here, please.) I just put some quick oats in a bowl with a little brown sugar and cinnamon, add boiling water from the tea kettle and let it “steep” for a few minutes. Then I top it with fresh fruit and a small handful of nuts and I’m golden for the rest of the morning. Unless it’s one of my hungry days. Then I eat lunch at 10:30.
#8. Walking – I LOVE to walk! It doesn’t matter whether it’s walking through city streets, on country roads, through a mall or on a walking trail – I really do enjoy it all. When I was young, my Mom didn’t drive and my Dad was at work all day. So, we walked to the grocery store, the bank, the shoe store – everything was within a mile or so of our house and walking was just what we did. One reason I enjoy walking is because I simply like to be outdoors and, with a slower pace than jogging, walking really lets me enjoy the scenery. But I believe another reason I enjoy it is because it was something I did with my Mom a lot – and that always brings back special memories. Jogging? Well, I did try it a couple of times in my youth but both of my knees voted “never again” and they outnumber me two to one.
#9. Cheese omelet – An American cheese omelet is my favorite, but Swiss is okay, too. If you add in some fresh tomatoes (I mean real tomatoes as in fresh from the garden tomatoes) and some spinach that would make it just about perfect. Unless I can get a small stack of buttermilk pancakes on the side, then it really would be perfect!
#10. Italian - I regularly exclaim, “My mouth is on fire!” whenever one of my family members gets me to try anything even a little bit spicy. What really annoys me is when they say, “Oh, that’s not hot.” Well, tell that to my tongue which is usually demanding an immediate ice water bath. So, Mexican (along with any other type of spicy food) is off my list. Italian, however, is A-Okay. My Mom’s family was Italian but, interestingly, the only real Italian foods my Mom ever cooked were her pasta sauce and, occasionally, a pan of lasagna or baked ziti. But that sauce! As Kyra would say, “It’s AMAZING!” I remember when I was a kid, I’d walk in the door at home and immediately be enveloped in that delectable aroma of sauce simmering on the stove. So I have to smile when one of the kids walks in when I’m making a pot of sauce and says, “I smelled that as soon as I opened the door.” Good food and wonderful family memories – they’re both delicious in their own special way. Pssst! Want to know the secret to the best meatballs EVER? Form your meatballs from your favorite recipe and then let them cook all day in a pot of sauce on the stove. Best. Meatballs. Ever.
#11. Regular – I’ll drink regular coffee and, later in the day, decaf coffee, but it’s generally just plain ol’ Joe with a little sugar and a little milk or cream. I do like an occasional cup of flavored coffee (nothing crazy – just something fairly common like French Vanilla or Hazelnut) but my go-to is a steaming hot cup of regular Joe.
#12. Crest – I think Colgate must be made in a Mexican restaurant because it’s too spicy for me. It is. Really.
#13. Alaska – Alan and I spent our 10th anniversary in Hawaii exploring every inch of the island of Oahu and we loved it. (For the record, despite the attractions in and around Honolulu, it was the beauty and solitude of the north shore that we enjoyed the most.) But it was Alaska that won my heart for several reasons. One, life there is simply different. Of course, tourism is huge and provides a large number of jobs. It’s the second largest component of Alaskan industry, second only to oil and gas. But other jobs that we wouldn’t even think twice about are critical threads in the Alaskan fiber of life. How many bush pilots or commercial fisherman do you know? Lake Hood, near Anchorage, is the largest and busiest float plane harbor in the world. How many people do you know who travel by float plane? Consider the fact that Alaska is the largest state in square miles at approximately 665,000, but has less than 40,000 road miles. Texas, our second largest state at approximately 268,000 square miles, has more than 675,000 miles of roads. See? Alaska is just different from the lower 48 and I like that. Two, Alaska is gorgeous, as in drop dead gorgeous. True, much of the Alaskan environment is a great deal harsher than Hawaii’s, but the natural world in Alaska is one that I feel more at home in than the tropical paradise that is Hawaii. For me, there are more ways to play in Alaska and that includes the exploration of several large National Parks - and I like that, too. Three, Alaska is unique. Juneau, the state capital, is accessible only by sea or air, moose can be found on the trails in the park adjacent to the state’s largest city, Alaska’s Turnagain Arm is one of only two places in North America where bore tides occur (the other being in the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia) and glacial calving is a spectator sport. With apologies to the delightful state of Hawaii, 49 comes before 50.
#14. Chicken noodle - I like my tomatoes fresh from the garden, on a sandwich, in a salad or in my American cheese omelet. Tomato soup, while loved by many, just doesn’t do it for me.
#15. Country Living – My house is beautiful to me, but I don’t think you’ll ever find photos of it in House Beautiful. Country Living? That’s what we do. It’s comfy, it’s cozy and it makes us happy.
#16. July – The 21st to be exact. Why don’t you go mark it on your calendar so you’ll remember to wish me a Happy Birthday? Go ahead. I’ll wait.
#17. Salad – The roast beef subs at our local deli counter just can’t be beat but, nine times out of ten, you’ll find me having a salad for lunch. Not only do I enjoy the taste of salads, but I like the opportunities they provide to make flavorful meals from leftover veggies. Sometimes, I like to top my mixed greens with bean salad or a little tuna. And I usually use my own balsamic vinaigrette but, if you put a homemade Thousand Island dressing in front of me, I can’t say no. Have you ever been to the Thousand Islands? I have, and I like them as much as I like my salad!
#18. Laundry – I’ve never minded doing the laundry (even though it feels like a never-ending job), but I decided a long time ago that vacuuming is simply an evil thrust upon us by society.
#19. Grocery shopping – Both grocery shopping and cooking involve food and, in case you haven’t noticed, I like food. But, while I enjoy shopping for it, I don’t like cooking it. I have minimal patience with recipes and lots and lots of other things I’d rather be doing with my time. It’s not that I’m a bad cook – I can do things up well when I make the effort – I’m simply an uninspired cook. However, based on the facts that (1) Alan is even less inspired than I am and (2) there are a couple of “memorable” dishes of his that the kids would be more than happy to tell you about, I do most of the cooking at our house. I aim for quick, easy, healthy and tasty, but I’ll settle for three out of four. Two out of four on really bad nights.
#20. Cabela’s – Bass Pro Shops acquired Cabela’s more than a year ago for approximately $4 billion dollars. (That chunk of change would buy a lot of fishing rods, wouldn’t it?!) Despite the fact that they’re both under the same umbrella now, I still think of them as completely separate entities. I have nothing against Bass Pro Shops but neither Alan nor I ever got into fishing. (No need to share that with Brad, Ladona.) So, we tend to spend more time in Cabela’s and often buy our hiking boots as well as some home décor there. Although I’ve not been to Bass Pro Shops since the acquisition, I am hoping that they continue to extend the same courtesy to RVers as Cabela’s always has. Time will tell.
#21. Thanksgiving – I think my aversion to Halloween comes from a childhood experience. I was severely frightened by a particular costume and I don’t think I ever saw Halloween in the same way again. (Sorry, Janis.) Thanksgiving, on the other hand, is always a warm reminder of the many blessings in my life – family, friends, health, and opportunities – and, while I do try to maintain an attitude of gratitude year-round, I love the idea of having a special day to express my thanks for the sheer abundance of those blessings in my life.
#22. Creamy – When I make a PBJ sandwich (on those days when I don’t have a salad for lunch), I want to feel the creamy smoothness of a natural peanut butter in my mouth. (Smuckers is the yummy best!) I don’t want to feel like I just ate a bag of peanuts. Beside, one of those crunchy little pieces will, inevitably, get stuck in my back teeth. No, thanks. Creamy is dreamy.
#23. Splitting wood - I’ll give you a hint: I have a plant based allergy. Do you want to change your guess? We use Ryan’s wood splitter, so I don’t mind the chore at all. It’s not like I’m swinging a huge monster maul to physically split the logs. Thanks to the wonder of hydraulics, splitting wood is a pleasant way to spend time outdoors and, besides, lifting and moving all those logs is good exercise!
#24. Canon – Well before digital photography was even a gleam in someone’s eye, Alan’s wedding present to me was a Canon AE-1. It was a practical and perfect gift as far as I was concerned since our 4 week honeymoon was spent tent camping across the United States to visit a number of iconic National Parks in the west. Fast forward 39.3 years and I still have a Canon in my hand. Now it’s an EOS Rebel T3 and I have to admit that I appreciate the digital aspect. I don’t consider myself a serious photographer and the purchase of one additional zoom lens made the T3 sufficient for my needs. The funniest thing about my current Canon is the pictures I find on it when I leave it out during camping trips and holiday get-togethers and our son, Ryan, is around. After spending time this fall at Great Lake Sacandaga, I found an adorable selfie of Ryan and his girlfriend, Anya, on the camera. Usually though, the pics are of breakfast cooking on the camp grill or plated meals on the dinette table. (What can I say? The guy loves his food. I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.) If the photos aren’t of food, they’re usually of me with terribly embarrassing expressions on my face – which are easily and quickly deleted. Yup, I do love digital!
#25. Front porch sitting – We have a couple of rocking chairs and a small table on our front porch, shade from the afternoon sun, mountains across the way dressed in the finery of whatever season we’re in and a wide expanse of sky filled with the most delightful cloud arrangements. With a glass of iced tea on a hot summer afternoon or a hot cup of coffee on a cooler morning, the front porch is the perfect respite from the day’s chores and a place to dream about our next road trip. And that, my friends, is one of my favorite things to do.
|The view from our front porch|
Well, how did you do? Each question was worth 4 points. Please do share your score with us – I’d love to know if anyone nailed 100! And let me know, too, if you came across something you never would have guessed about me. Thanks for stopping by today. I do appreciate the fact that you take time from your busy week to visit Reflections Around the Campfire, and I encourage you to sign up to receive posts via email if you haven’t already done so. (Just scroll down to the last item in the column on the right.) That way, you won’t miss a post – or the next quiz!