Heather and Mark's Visit

19 – 23 October 2012

Heather and Mark drove up for a visit, arriving on Friday evening, Oct 19. Saturday, the 20th, was a beautiful, fall day and we enjoyed a trip to Mount Vernon, VA to see the home and grounds of George and Martha Washington's estate. It's only about an hour's drive from us, and we were able to go at a nice leisurely pace.

I posted most of these pics on facebook, but decided to include them here as well.
 Walking toward the house. . .

 Front of home

 View of the house from the attached portico

 The back porch

 View of the Potomac River, from the back porch

 One of several beautiful, and inspiring, gardens. . .

The blacksmith shop, for forging tools needed on the estate

We had a relaxing Sunday. Enjoyed our meetings at church, ate sloppy joes and asparagus for lunch and made a delicious, cheesy, pull-apart bread for an evening snack.

On Monday, we talked about going down to the National Mall and visiting the National Spy Museum. But, we changed our plans and went toward Manassas and Woodbridge, VA instead.

In Manassas we visited the Bull Run battlefield (first battle of Manassas). 
(Civil War battles were named differently by the North and the South. The North mostly named battles according to major rivers. The South named them for states or geographic regions. Hence, this battlefield was named for the nearby Bull Run River by the North, and was named the first battle of Manassas by the South.) 
We had a great guide and appreciated learning some of the details of that first battle of the Civil War (which occurred in July 1861.) Most of the landscape and grounds are pretty much as they were then. The second battle of Manassas was fought a year later.

The invaded farmland and (rebuilt) home of Judith Henry, the only civilian killed in that first battle. She was 85-yrs-old and bedridden, but when her family tried to remove her (at the start of the battle) she refused to go.
 Confederate cannons placed as they would have been during the afternoon of the battle.

Monument to Stonewall Jackson
In the morning of that first battle, it appeared that the North would be able to claim victory. But Gen. McDowell made a tactical error by not pursuing the rebels as they moved over a hill and into a wooded area. During a two-hour lull in which the Union Army rested, the confederates received reinforcements — including a brigade of Virginians under the command of Col. Thomas J. Jackson. Someone supposedly said, "There stands Jackson, like a stone wall." His nickname was born, and the South proved victorious that day.

 Heather and Mark walking toward the visitor's center, in the background

I'm always stunned when I see the number of casualties in the Civil War. Nearly as many Americans died in that war as in all other wars the U.S. has been involved in, combined. Perhaps it's a lesson to help us remember that internal conflict is always more destructive than attacks from without.

After seeing Bull Run, we popped over to Cafe Rio and had a great lunch, then drove to Woodbridge and spent some time at Ikea. It's always fun to browse there, and it was Mark's first time to see it.

We had to say good-bye Tuesday morning, but we made plans for another visit soon — when we actually will go to the spy museum.

Bob Got His Woodbadge Beads

Bob, with his Woodbadge beads and neckerchief.

The owl patrol flag I made for him between the first and second campouts.

13 October 2012

About nineteen months ago Bob embarked on a journey to earn the BSA Woodbadge award. The first camp out was held in Feb 2011, the second one in April, 2011, and then each scouter who attended had an individual list of goals to complete in the following months.
Earlier this year, Bob completed all of his requirements, and, at a ceremony held Oct 13, 2012, at the McLean Stake Center in Falls Church, VA, he received his Woodbadge beads and certificate. He was one of 17 scouters to receive the award that day, including our stake president, Lynn Chapman. (It was an unusually large group!)
Most of the scouters who started with Bob earned their Woodbadge. A few people who started out with him were beaded in June. (But, only one other person from the Owl Patrol was in the ceremony with him this month.)
I didn't realize until Bob set out to do this how much was involved in earning a Woodbadge award!

It's In The Bag

6 October 2012

Not long ago I ran across a book that has really helped me feel focused in terms of my food storage. For many years, we've had basic, long-term food storage and have kinda, sorta rotated/used it. And, I've always had extra amounts of our staple foods on hand.
However, I've struggled some with knowing that I actually have a three-month supply of meals that we can use to sustain ourselves, short-term.
Then I found the book It's In The Bag. I really love this concept! You store your food as individual meals, rather than just by having lots of assorted supplies on hand.
Each bag holds the supplies for one dinner meal. On the outside of the bag is the list of what's inside, plus a list of any extra items you will need to make the meal, and a sticker with a "use by" date. (Date is based on the nearest use by date of any of the items in the bag.)
Once I read about this, I knew I wanted to do it. So, I ordered some bags on-line, popped into the local Office Depot to get some paper CD sleeves, and set out to decide what will be in my bags. By looking at what I have on hand, I was able to quickly put together the meal cards for quite a few bags. Then, since I decided I'd like to have three bags each of 30 different meals, I went looking for other ideas for meals made from shelf-stable items.
It's In The Bag includes quite a few meal plans, but, most of them where not the kind of meals Bob and I would be likely to eat. Fortunately, there are many other resources available, and I soon had all the choices I wanted.
Once my meal plans were in hand, I designed the cards for my bags. Like this:
My bags arrived a few days ago and I've been busy assembling them ever since. Of course, I started with what I already had on hand, then made a list of other items I need. (I'm not planning to fill all 90 bags at once, but I have about 70 bags completed. The other 20 will get filled a few at a time over the next few weeks.)
A work in progress. . .
These are my initial set of bags — about 35 meals on these shelves.

If I use one of these bag meals per week, in less than two years I will have rotated through all of them. I'm so excited that I will actually be storing what we eat, and eating what we store — in a more organized way than ever before! It's taking a little bit of time to get it together, but, will be easy to maintain. Once I use one of the meals, I have a hook I'll put the empty bag on. Then, when I go grocery shopping, I'll buy the supplies to refill it, revise the "use by" date, and put it back on the shelf. (I'm trying to place the bags on the shelf in order according to the use by date.)

I quickly found, though, that I need more shelving.
Here's my overflow, at the moment. . .
For now, I may use a shelf in the garage (since we're into cooler weather) and work on a more long-term solution from there. . .

It makes me very happy to feel this focused about our three-month food supply!! Yay!!!

Living Room Change-up

6 October 2012

For some time now I've been wanting to change the throw pillows in my living room. I've had these same pillows for quite a few years and they were looking a bit tired. So, a couple of months ago I went fabric shopping. Loved looking at all the many choices of colors and prints!
Yesterday, I finally finished sewing them and I'm very happy with the outcome. A whole new look for under $100.

Now, Bob and I can snuggle into them and watch General Conference on BYU-TV all weekend. What could be better!!