Easter Weekend

Friday

I had the day off, but Colton had to go to school, so we got up at our regular time. After I dropped him off, I took Dixie and we headed to town to find a couple of caches.  There was one that had posted overnight and I was hoping to get an FTF on it. It was in the Veterans Park and it was a well-camouflaged ammo can called Jump: Veterans Ivy Box by cacher Jump1175.  I was REALLY hoping he didn't mean POISON ivy!  I found the box and a clean log! <insert angel sounds here> Signed the log and traded out some swag.  Then we headed over to Lick Creek Park to find his first cache, Jump first cache.  2TF on that one.  Another nice ammo box! I left my coin purse GeoKret trackables there.  I like the GeoKrets.  You can make anything a trackable and you don't have to buy the travel tag or coin.  You just print the label and attach it to your item for free.  I'm so glad to have another good cache hider in our midst.  I also picked up a couple of caches in the Pebble Creek subdivision while I was in the area.

Then I headed home for lunch.  After lunch, I headed over to Discount Trees of Brenham to pick up a couple of plants for our Native Plant Society of Texas (NPSOT) plant swap on Saturday (plus one for myself). While I was there, I talked to John (one of the owners) and he let me place a cache there. It is posted on Opencaching.us and Geocaching.com. I then turned up FM 390 and headed toward FM 50.  I stopped at the historical marker for Mound Hill School and created a virtual cache on Opencaching.us.  I stopped at the Old Baylor ruins, but my GPS was WAY off and there was no way to get an accurate reading on anything around there.  I'll try again soon.  I then made a stop at the Antique Rose Emporium for a couple of more plants (that I ended up keeping for my yard). I was told there were a couple of Letterboxes out there, so I'll have to look those up too.

When I got back home, I did some things around the house and then we got ready for Good Friday Communion Service at church. When I got home I made the Black Bean and Corn Salsa for Saturday's outing.

Saturday

Colt and I got up and got ready for the Plant Swap and Garden Tour.  I dug up a couple of Hardy Gladiola bulbs/plants and a couple of Manfredas to add to the plants that I purchased.  We made it out to Kathy Hall's place in Bluebonnet Hills just outside of Brenham for our Plant Swap, Tour and Lunch.  Her property is set up like a prairie and we walked around the area looking at trees and wildflowers.  If we had received our normal rainfall for this time of year, it would have been just gorgeous.  We had LOTS of plants to swap and I ended up taking home quite a few.  Kathy let me place a cache on the fenceline at the edge of her property and I called it Serendipity, since that's what they call their place.  It is on Opencaching.us and Geocaching.com.  We went down the road to Russell and Bobby Doty's place and toured their yard, then the last stop was the Clapp's place.  I love their furry-footed chickens!  All of these places were nice and I'm so glad that they volunteered to have us out to browse around.

On the way home, Colton and I stopped by Peppermint, another cache in Brenham that I hadn't gotten yet. Then we hit Wal-mart for new shoes for him, Easter candy and such.  Then home.  I borrowed Daddy's Z-trac mower and mowed my yard.  It's close to an acre and that mower makes short work of it. Mowing in dry conditions and high winds is NOT fun.  I felt like I had been sand-blasted.  I filled the hummingbird feeders and hit the shower.  Colton filled eggs for the Egg Hunt at church on Sunday.

Sunday

Christ is Risen!  Easter Sunrise Service at 7:00 am followed by a breakfast.  There was soooooo much food! After that, the older kids and some parents hid the eggs for the younger kids.  It's always so much fun to watch. We went home to change and rode with my brother.  He and I did some work in my yard - pulling weeds, weed-eating and planting a few of my new plants from the nurseries and plant swap. Thanks for the help, Scott!  Then we went to my cousin's house for lunch. It's always good to have the family gather and just sit, relax and chat. After lunch, we just went home to veg for a while. Later in the afternoon, I took Colton into town to go see Rio 3D.  We stopped at All signs point to this new cache on the way in.  I filled in 2 more days on the 366-day calendar this weekend.  The movie was really cute and we both enjoyed it.  It was a busy, but enjoyable weekend.

Popcorn Shirts

I will be placing an order this evening.  If you would like any of the clothing, please let me know by 6:00 pm today.  Many of the styles are 20% off right now.

I will need to know the style, sleeve or skirt length, pattern color and size.  Most fit either S-XL or XL-3X.

There are also Children's Popcorn Shirts and accessories.

To browse our selections, check out my website at http://magicscarf.com/mixitup.

A Nice Afternoon

When I got home from work on this Friday afternoon, I went over to my parents house and my Daddy went out to the shop with me and helped me replace my rear tires on the truck. My son came out to help (involuntarily), and he was not happy at first, but after a bit, he actually enjoyed using the air wrench and adding air and checking the pressure. I had gotten these tires only 25,000 miles ago and the back tires were about worn out already.  I could have gotten new ones, but it would have cost too much for now. NOT happy with these tires.  Luckily, I have a friend that had a friend that had tires the same size that have barely been used for le$$. I feel safer driving on these now.

After we were done, I went back over to the house and sat in my yard watching the hummingbirds and sipping on a cold adult beverage. I saw a couple of the birds when I got home, so I filled 3 feeders and sat back to collect my reward. There were at least 5 that I could verify at once. These tiny flying jewels just amaze me at how they can fly in all directions. The male Ruby Throated Hummingbirds' throats just glow when the sun hits them just right. They were so focused on the feeders, that they didn't seem to mind that I was sitting only about 4' from the feeder filming and taking pictures with my Droid. In the picture to the left, there is a male and female in the foreground and there's a bird on the feeder in the Silk Tree (Click on the picture to see a larger view). There's also a little male sitting on the branch just below the clear bottle on the bottle tree. There was a couple of times, they buzzed right over the top of my head.  For tiny little things, they sure are vocal with their clicks and whistles.

This little handful of birds are the first-comers of the year. Soon, there should be even more.  Now...if the strong winds will quit, the feeders won't get blown around so much and some of the nectar won't spill. If you check out my little YouTube video, you'll see one hummer for most of the video. Towards the end, you'll see 3 or 4 more in the background and flying through the frame.
 

The hummingbirds always seem to be the last birds in the yard for the evening. Earlier, there were a couple of pairs of Cardinals who were flying around the yard between the trees and rose bushes. The "Papa" stood out like a Christmas ornament when it landed in the Montezuma Cypress tree in the back yard. Later, I walked back across the pasture and went to Mom & Daddy's house.  A pair of wrens have made a nest in one of her old hanging baskets in her garden shed out back and the eggs have hatched. They sure don't like it when the cats come into the yard. Fussy little things! Mom & I both keep checking our Bluebird houses, but nothing yet. My bluebirds hatched two clutches of 6 eggs each last year in the house closest to the road.

My April 12 of 12

Just another day in my busy calendar.

  • Went to work
  • Worked on budget for FY12
  • Went to lunch
  • Found a geocache
  • Got gas - OUCH!
  • Got WWFM door prizes in
  • Watered plants/walked around the yard
  • Played with my boy and my dog
  • Supper
  • Went to a Women's Missionary meeting at church

Visit my Facebook album for April's pictures.

Walk Across Texas

I work at the City of Bryan in the IT Department and we had a team again for the Walk Across Texas 8-week program called the "Bryan Rebooters".  Collectively, we had 1744.44 miles, which is 2x across Texas and then some.  I'm very proud of my co-workers for joining in this program and for doing so well.  Many thanks to my team mates Kara Daniel, Kurt Gammage, Dale & Kristen Kubenka, David Parker, Gus Roman and Matt Scoggins.  As of right now (and there may be teams that have yet to add final week's mileages), we are in 19th place out of 155 teams.  Out of 5 City of Bryan teams, we are in 1st place by several hundred miles.

Geocaching - Cheap Hobby or Not?

Geocaching is a great hobby/game/sport that people of any age can participate in.  It's a high-tech scavenger hunt played all over the world.  But, does high-tech need to have a high-price? Not necessarily.  I know some people's eyes may glaze over at the thought of buying a GPS, buying and sending out expensive geocoins, purchasing pathtags, wooden nickels or other signature items.  These are all fun, but not required. There are some necessities like internet access and a sense of adventure.  Beyond that, there are many ways to cut costs.

You will need an account at geocaching.com or opencaching.us or other listing service(s).  You can do basic searches and get info on the caches for free at geocaching.com, which is probably the most popular listing site.  If you want to run pocket queries and set up alerts when new caches are published, then you will need to spend $30 for an annual Premium membership. (About 6 meals at McDonald's).  At opencaching.us, there is no premium membership - everything is free.

Most cachers will need/want a GPSr eventually.  You can get a dedicated unit or you may use a smartphone.  If you are looking for a dedicated unit, look in the geocaching forums for used items.  If you know of anyone that is upgrading to a newer/more powerful unit, you can find a good deal on their old units. I personally began using my Motorola Droid to find caches and I'm still using it over 750 finds later.  This is my personal opinion - and nothing more - but I think the Droid has a better GPS than the iPhone.  If you've already got a smartphone with data plan, you really have all you need.  If you're really on a tight budget and can't afford either of these, you can also print out the cache pages with detailed maps, descriptions and hints and search using that.  Or, for even more fun, find a friend that has a device and go with them.  "Park and Grabs" can easily be found using a printed map.

For the smartphones, there are numerous apps that you can get.  Geocaching.com has their own app that has a one-time cost of $9.99 and is available for Android and iPhone platforms.  It allows you to hunt for caches where you are without having to worry about downloading the pocket queries.  It's great for on-a-whim caching. You do have the capability to load specific queries and/or routes as well.  Want to save $10?  Try c:geo (my personal favorite).  It's free and allows you to find caches without loading queries as well.  It also has the capability to do live searches using the map, which I find handy as I am driving along a route. It will also let you visit/drop trackables in the field so you don't have to do a "Note" later. It seems to have better search options as well.  Both of these only work with geocaching.com listings.  If you want to find opencaching.us caches as well, you can try GeoBeagle or Columbus. Again, these are free apps.  GeoBeagle will require you to download queries from either or both listing services.  There are plenty others, as well as apps for Blackberry, but these are ones that I've tried and are familiar with.  Check the Market or App Store or check with other cachers in your area to see what they like best.

There are a couple of other free Android apps that I recommend in addition to the hunting apps.  GPS Status & Toolbox is a good Radar application that gives you lots of information besides just the location/direction of the cache.  For hiding caches, GPS Averaging is a must.  It allows you take multiple readings of the GPS coordinates of the location and then you can send it to a note app, email, Facebook and more.

Let's talk trackables.  There are all shapes and sizes of geocoins out there and they vary in price from about $6 for micro coins to $15 (or more).  For a little less, you can get travel tags, which look more like a keychain. They are just as trackable and are easily attached to an item.  If you want to make an item that you already have into a trackable, you can do that for free at geokrety.org. You can even make yourself trackable.  Just create (register) a new geokret and print a label. One option is to print it out with a QR Code so that you can scan them with a smartphone. They work the same as geocaching.com trackables in that you log it when you pick it up and you log it where you drop it. If you're dropping it in an opencaching.us cache, all you need is the OU number on the cache.  For geocaching.com caches, you will need the GC number AND the GPS coordinates. They can be used in caches from other sites as well.

What all do you NEED to carry when caching?  Just a pen or pencil. No matter what the size container or what the descriptions say, ALWAYS carry a writing utensil. If you're hunting micros, there's no room for anything else anyway.  If you're hunting larger caches,  you can hit the Dollar stores for cheap SWAG - bags of plastic army men, plastic animals, bouncy balls, little sets of colorful erasers, etc.  Do you have kids?  Check their rooms.  There's normally balls, little cars, small dolls, etc. laying around that they don't play with anymore.  If you go to conferences/trade shows at work or on your own, many have LOTS of swag and they're glad for you to take it.  Don't want to spend money on signature items? Print up some "business cards" with your trail name, tag line, etc through one of the free offers from VistaPrint.  Once you order from them, you'll get emails with offers for free items all the time. Keychains, pens, hats, t-shirts, magnets (also make great signature items to add to ammo cans), mugs.  Many of these are great items to use as door prizes at events.

Which leads me to another item.  Many local geocaching events have little or no charge to attend. Find a group and go hang out, make new friends and have fun. If there's not a group near you - start one!  Caching with others can be fun.  At today's gas prices, it's good to have a friend or two go on a cache run and split the fuel cost.  Need some exercise?  Find a trail to walk or ride a bike.  Sometimes it's better to have more sets of eyes looking or more brains working on a puzzle.

If you're wanting to hide caches, you don't have to spend money buying ammo cans or Lock & Lock containers.  You can use pharmacy pill bottles, aspirin bottles, film canisters (ask your local film processors for their throw-aways), etc.  If you use any containers that once held food or anything scented, thoroughly wash it several times to get rid of any scent.  A hungry squirrel can demolish a peanut butter jar in a matter of seconds.

This hobby is fun and can even be good for you.  It can cost as much or as little as you make it.  Go hit the trails and HaPpY CaChInG!

Cachers of the Round Table-Responsible Geocaching

This month's Cachers of the Round Table Episode 35 has some really great tips and guidelines for being a responsible finder and hider of caches. I personally think every geocacher - new and/or experienced - should listen to this. Great show guys (and gal)!  Listen at their site.

This podcast is a group effort of different geocachers from other podcasts who get together once a month to discuss a variety of topics. It is normally aired on the first Thursday of the month.

From their site:

Join Art (Centennial State Geocaching), DarrylW4 (Cache-A-Maniacs), Firefly03(Cache-A-Maniacs), and xpunkx (Geocaching Podcast) for a discussion on the geocaching in a responsible manner. Geocaching picks are available at the follow links:

Weekend Events

This past weekend was busy, but we had fun and it was rewarding.  Friday was my Aunt's last day in town and my brother and his roommate came out. We all went to College Station to go to Fish Daddy's to eat. When we got there, there were tons of people waiting to be seated inside and out, so we decided to try a less crowded place in Bryan. We ended up at Cotton Patch Cafe and we were seated right away. I think everyone got something different. The food was really good and we had a good time visiting with each other.

Saturday morning, we got up and headed to our church for a workday. There was a list of chores and tasks to be accomplished and everyone headed in different directions.  I worked with Connie and Betty most of the time trying to organize lots of books, Bibles and pamphlets into a Library. Daddy left around 11 am to go get my Aunt and take her to the Austin airport for her flight back to California.  The Youth Group was providing the lunch. The kids seasoned,  prepared and cooked the hamburgers and chopped the veggies and did the whole thing (with a little supervision). They even made strawberry shortcake. Yummy!  For once, all the kids stayed back and let the adults go first in line. It was great! They really did a good job and we're all proud of them. After lunch, Colton and I went into town to run errands and get his hair cut.  The stylist I normally use was busy, so we did our errands. We got some mulch for my front flower bed, hit Hobby Lobby, then went by the grocery to pick up items for breakfast for Sunday School (we take turns bringing it). The stylist was still tied up, so we went home and I plugged in my trimmer to charge and decided to just cut his hair on my own. A nap was in order first and then I went to pull weeds and put down the new mulch.  Looks MUCH better.

Birthday boy and Grandpa
Sunday morning, I got up and made Orange Danish rolls, Cinnamon Rolls and Piglets in a blanket (Little Smokies wrapped with part of a Crescent Roll). I enjoy our women's Sunday school class. We laugh and learn at the same time and everyone has a chance to participate. Our study right now is on Miracles and it's an interesting study. After church, Colton had a couple of friends (and some of the adults) go with us to eat at Genghis Grill (or what we call the Mongolian Grill). His birthday choice!  The kids love that place. They get to pick out what they like - which usually ends up being all meat and little or no veggies. Then we headed over with the kids to Southern Oaks Park to play a couple of rounds of Disc Golf and have cookie cake. My Daddy even played the first round with them. After we took Colton's cousin home, we went to my parents' house and tried figuring out a game my brother suggested for Colton.  It's called The Settlers of Catan. It was pretty involved, but we had fun playing anyway. Daddy won! We didn't get any caches this weekend, but it was a good one anyway.

Learn OneNote Conference 2018 Kicks Off

The Learn OneNote Conference officially starts today. I'm so excited to be a part of this 3rd Annual event!  If you haven't signed u...