Monthly Archives: October 2011

What to do in a Wisconsin winter?

Go to a water slide park of course 🙂

Not just any old water park with water slides. Indoor water parks for the whole family to have fun. Snow and ice outside, summer fun inside.

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Each of the indoor water parks have hotels. I would imagine there would be good package deals for a weekend of family fun. There are several of these indoor attractions throughout Wisconsin. The major fun area is the Wisconsin Dells with year round attractions that pull in families from Minnesota as well.

No time to stop and check this out. Maybe someone out there in Internet land has been to one of these indoor water parks and could tell us about them.

There is a big one, even has a park somewhere in Texas. Lone Wolf, or Great Wolf….some kind of wolf anyway.

We delivered in North Dakota this afternoon. Now we are heading to Cedar Rapids, Iowa for trucks going to Apopka, Florida. A bit chilly and breezy here in the “North Woods” 🙂 it will be warmer down south.

Happy Halloween to all of my friends.

Leslie

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Give this photo a caption

In 2010 I found barns and told you what they looked like to me. Now it is your turn.

This cutie is waiting for you 🙂

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Hello down there.

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The above photo is a satellite view of a granite or limestone quarry in Illinois, near the Indiana border.

As you can see, Interstate 80 crosses the vast open pit and is supported in two areas by “pillars” holding the road up.

The first time I went over this huge hole was while riding with Joe. Scared the bejeesies out of me. Heck, everything scared me in 1999.

Traveling across the bridge you don’t see much of what is below, except you do know you are traversing a big pit.

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We delivered trucks in the Chicago area this morning. Tomorrow we are picking up trucks out of Fort Wayne, Indiana and taking them to Fargo, North Dakota. Brrr brrr brr. The overnight temperatures in Fargo are going to range from 25 to 32 this coming week. The daily highs will be in the mid to upper 50’s.

Yes, you can hear it now, can’t you 🙂

This week and next we will be in for some massive temperature fluctuations. Leaving Fargo we will be staying in the colder climates while traveling to Cedar Rapids, Iowa taking trucks to Orlando, Florida where it is sunny and 89 degrees.

Leaving home in shorts and sandals we have changed to long pants and socks and shoes.

I grew up with people saying “shoes and socks”. My addled brain has always had pictures of socks over the shoes.

Is there a familiar saying in your life that, when taken literally, is backwards to what is meant?

Thank you all for leaving your comments on the Road kill legislation. I got a kick out of everything you guys said. I appreciate you all.

Leslie


Road Kill Legislation. They’re kidding! Right?

While driving through Missouri this morning channel surfing on the radio I heard a news report I could not believe.

The governor of Illinois has put forth legislation to allow people, ordinary citizens, to clean up dead “fur bearing” animals from the roads for the purposes of saving the fur hides and eating the meat.

Wait. It gets better. The caveat is the citizens can do this only when the dead animals are in “Season”. Hunting season I presume.

Would someone please educate me on hunting season for the following fur bearing animals. Badger, coyote, cat, dog, squirrel, possum, and I can’t leave out skunk.

You think I’ve been smoking “whacky weed”? Here is the link to the article.

Put your two cents in on this bit of Foolishness by leaving a comment. Am I the only one that is totally grossed out about this legislation?

If Billy, The Exterminator, is to be believed about the bacteria and diseases these animals carry, the hospitals are going to be full of sick and broken people. Sick from eating the meat, and broken from being hit by vehicles as they scrape up the delectable tidbits.

Leslie


Blue Beacon truck wash

A couple of titles for this post came to mind. A 1970’s popular song “Working’ at the Car Wash” was one I considered. The other is a computer jargon term “Debugging”.

Across the US Interstate system at quite a number of large scale truck stops is where to find a Blue Beacon Truck Wash.

Charlie Walker used to have a company named PowerVac that built the equipment to clean out furnace ducts in homes. It was essentially a 3/4 ton truck with a huge vacuum cleaner. The hose to clean out the ducts was 6 to 8 inches in diameter. The hose, with a brush attached, would be pushed in and out of the ducts cleaning out the accumulated dirt and debris.

Mr. Walker specialized in the old style gravity furnaces. 12 inch diameter ducts with no blowers started from the furnace looking like a metal octopus. Cold air and hot air ducts were in every room of old houses. This was before the current Forced Air or Central Heating systems of today.

Joe knew Charlie Walker while living in Abilene, Kansas where Mr. Walker, of Salina, Kansas, did heli-arc welding for Joe. Sometime after Joe moved away Mr. Walker started the Blue Beacon Truck Wash.

Each Blue Beacon has two wash bays large enough to accommodate a tractor trailer.

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A system of spray nozzles for degreasing and high pressure wash and rinse are on both sides of each bay and located at the front and back.

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Soft bristle brushes are located at several areas in each bay.

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Getting a wash job at the Blue Beacon does not take long. There are about 8 young people that wield the spray wands and brushes to clean the trucks or both truck and trailer.

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A final rinse and we are bright and clean once again 🙂

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This is one of those cases of “I knew you when” 🙂 with the various people Joe knows.


Halloween Spectacular

Have you seen this video?!  You simply just HAVE to watch it.  Okay, okay, so I like it a bit too much but I thought you might enjoy it if you have not seen it.  If you have seen it, watch it again 🙂


FoodSaver as a money saver

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This is NOT a paid advertisement for FoodSaver.  As a matter of fact, they don’t even know I am going to be writing about their product.

As a kitchen appliance, this one gets the most use in our house.  A FoodSaver machine can be purchased at Bed Bath and Beyond.  The machine we have is, more than likely, out of date.  There are newer models available.  You can also purchase the FoodSaver at Costco (I think) and at Sam’s Club.

This appliance is pricey.  You can expect to pay a hefty $125.00, or more, for the machine and another $40 or more for the bags.  Initially you will choke at the price of this machine and the bags but I have to tell you, it pays for itself in the long run.

If  you buy in bulk and freeze the food this is the best way to go.  I have purchased the Glad and Ziplock freezer bags from my local grocery store.  They do a good job but have their drawbacks.  Just getting the air out of the bags to prevent freezer burn is a problem in and of itself.  The FoodSaver takes care of that and you will see the process as we go through in this post.

As pictured above, there are buttons to press to get the machine to do all the work (sort of) for you.  Seal the bottom of a bag is as easy as pressing a button and waiting for the machine to let you know when it is finished.

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The inside of the machine is where all the work is done.  There is a place to store the roll of plastic, there is a cutting blade to slice off the amount you need, and there is a vacuum well to place the top of the bag in to suck the air out and it seals the bag automatically once all the air is removed.

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I purchase a box of bags from Sam’s Club and they are, as I’ve already stated, around $40.  You get three gallon sized rolls and three quart sized rolls.  Because of the features of this machine we have I can freeze french bread loaves without sucking all the air out of the loaf leaving a flat blob.  The rolls of plastic bags are my choice because I can make the bag as long or as short as I need.  You can’t buy a Glad or Ziplock bag large enough for a loaf of french bread.

The other bonus is the box.  In my crafting I have made books from the cardboard.  It is very thick and sturdy and makes for excellent covers and spines.  The cores are very strong.  I have not found a use for them, yet.  Unlike a paper towel core that can be smashed flat the FoodSaver core is very hard and does not easily collapse.

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Included in the box of bag material are about 10, maybe more, gallon bags that are already sealed at the bottom.  We don’t use them much so I transfer the unused bags from the previous box to the new one.

If you have a painting project going on in your home and don’t want to clean out the paint brush because you are not finished with it….seal it in a FoodSaver bag to use when you get back to the painting.  The brush will remain soft and pliable.  Any paint left in the brush will not dry hard.  There are many ways to use this machine.

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This is a very special and integral piece of our routine.  Joe took a scrap piece of wood I had in my craft room.  Drilled a few holes.  Bent some steel rod to the height and shape he wanted.  Poked the ends in the holes he has drilled and I now have a stand for the bags when I have to do this by myself.  We use this piece a lot.  If you wish to have one of your very own, I’m sure I can get Joe to create one for you.

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The roll of bags have increment markings on either side of the bag.  The markings are the same on both edges and can easily be lined up under the cutting blade for an even cut.  This takes out the guess work of how straight the bag is cut and how much you will need to use.  We usually count out five (5) marks for the size we need to store his stews and chilis.

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Once the bag is cut to the desired length, the bottom is sealed, we make a “cuff” at the top of the bag and drape it over the steel rod things Joe has made.  The bag is secure and upright.  I don’t have to fool with a floppy bag when I’m trying to add wet stuff to the bag.  Love this device my Joe made.

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I have scooped out a little over 4 cups of the chili Joe made yesterday.  It was left to cool in the pot overnight.  This is the amount for two of us to have a good bowl of chili later this winter when we need something quick.

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Pour the contents into the bag held upright by Joe’s creative genius 🙂

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Wipe off any spillage on the cuff.  One problem with the FoodSaver is if there is any liquid or food at the place where it will be sealed the machine does not seal well.  So to have a successful seal and not worry about getting air in for freezer burn it is necessary to wipe the cuff well.

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Put the mouth of the bag in the vacuum area.  This can be a tricky part of this whole process.  Keeping the bag mouth in the proper place while balancing the weight of the contents.

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Once the bag and contents are in the vacuum area, and secured by the lid being closed tightly, press the button to start the vacuum process.  You might think we have wasted a lot of empty space by having so much bag at the top of the food but we have a method that works for us.

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Once the bag is vacuumed and sealed it is placed on a large cookie sheet and the contents are pressed to spread it out evenly within the bag.  It will remain on the cookie sheet during the initial freezing part.  Once it is frozen solid the bag will then be placed in our freezer on its side, like a book.  This allows for easy access to the chili when we want to have it later, it also takes up less room in the freezer.

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There is a white strip on one side of the bag to write the date and contents of the bag.  Inside the machine, on the lid, is a place to store the marking pen so you don’t have to go on a hunting expedition for the marker pen 🙂

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Joe has chosen to store the chili in our new refrigerator until it gets really cold before we put it in the freezer.  He has his quirks and I love him for that.

When we go to the grocery store, we purchase a lot of meat at one time.  When we get home I have a ritual.  The meat is portioned out into packets of what I will need for any given recipe.  The portions are then worked through the FoodSaver then placed in the freezer.  I absolutely hate buying three pounds of ground beef and freezing the whole thing.  When I need a portion of it I have to nearly thaw out the glob to cut off what I want and then run the risk of contaminating the meat and getting us sick.  By portioning it out after we get home from the shopping trip then I don’t have to worry about contamination or spoilage.

When I have, for example, a green pepper to chop up and will only be needing a small amount for a recipe I put the excess in a FoodSaver bag and freeze it for later use.  Break off the frozen bits of green pepper and take that portion out and reseal the bag for later.  I do his a lot.

Strawberries, bananas, and blueberries can be sealed in one of your “cut to fit” bags.  When you want to have a smoothie cut the bag open, add the fruit to a blender with your milk or other liquid then set that thing to whirring around.  The frozen fruit will take the place of ice you normally put in your smoothie.

Why pay for grocery store frozen strawberries or blueberries when you can do it yourself?  Joe delivered groceries for a time around 1998.  Not all of the frozen foods delivered to the stores got put away immediately before they had a chance to thaw.

If you have gone to the FoodSaver website you may have watched one of their videos about heating the contents in a boiling pot of water or in the microwave while in the sealed bag.  I have tried this.  The plastic bags leave a taste to the food when it is heated in the boiling water or the microwave.  I don’t like the taste.  I just let the food thaw, cut the bag open, remove the contents to a pan, then heat it on the stove in the normal manner.

If you are one that reuses your plastic bags, this is easy to do.  Wash the bags well in hot soapy water.  Make sure to get out all of the left over food bits from inside the bag.  Rinse the bag in HOT water and let dry.  The bottom of the bag will still be sealed.  Add your contents and go through the vacuum and sealing process for the new stuff.

If you have boiled the bag to heat up the contents the process does damage the bag and reusing is questionable, at best.

If you have a FoodSaver and use it, let me know how you like it and how it has saved you money.  I know we have saved quite a lot of money over the past year with our old refrigerator not working as it should.  The only things that had to be given away were fresh produce.  Lettuce does not freeze well 😦 nor does celery :-(.  Produce was given to our neighbor when we left town so it would nourish them and not spoil and rot here.

Have a great weekend.

Leslie