Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Pool Days

It's been a little hot around here lately. We've been spending weekends indoors to escape the heat and humidity. The average heat index being somewhere near 104 for a few weeks, yuck. Well, that broke us down and we decided to bring out the old inflateable pool. What a relief, it's been super fun to sit in the pool when Andrew gets home from work and cool down.

We aren't the only one enjoying the cool water. Besides Dakota who jumped in once and jumped right back out. The praying mantis that populate the yard like it too.

This guy let me take a few pictures before he violently jumped at me. I admit, I fell over. I was crouched down and the unexpected attack made me lose my balance.

You believe me, right?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Book Survey

I found this survery over at Angie's Blog, where I think she found it from someone else. Such is the world of blogging. I like books and figured I'd give it a go.

1. Favorite Book - Hard, hard question. Tie between My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok, Snowflower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See and The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

2. Least Favorite Book - I don't think I have one, I always try and find one redeaming quality in a book I'm reading. Which, in turn, makes it hard to hate any books.

3. Book that makes you laugh out loud - A Walk in the Woods by Bills Bryson. I laughed, literally, out loud throughout most of this book.

4. Book that makes you cry - Harry Potter, this includes book 5, 6, and 7.

5. Book you wish you could live in - Tie between Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. I used to dream of living in the Shire.

6. Favorite young adult book - Only can think of books I loved when I was younger, Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell, The Red Pony by John Steinbeck, Princess Nevermore by Diane Curtis Regan. This is hard, I had a lot of favorites.

7. Book you can quote/recite - Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. "A single man in possesion of large fortune must be in want of a wife." Ha!

8. Book that scares you - Can't think of one.

9. Book that makes you sick - Can't think of one of these either.

10. Book that changed your life - I'd have to refer to more childhood favorites, Rascall by Sterling North, Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, The Hobbit by Tolkien and so many more.

11. Book from your favorite author - Same as favorite books.

12. Book that is most like your life - Please tell me my life can be more like Harry Potter. Sadly, the books I love are nothing like my life.

13. Books whose main character is most like you - This shouldn't be so hard, I find a lot of individual characteristics we share but not whole personalities. I'll go with Luna Lovegood. Andrew calls me Luna sometimes, I can be pretty spacey and quietly intelligent. I love being in my own little world.

14. Book whose main character you want to marry - Pride and Prejudice, come here Mr. Darcy! I mean, who can resist the eloquence of "In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you."

15. First "chapter book" you remember reading as a child - Hard one, I was reading chapter books like Little House in first grade.

16. Longest book you've read - No idea.

17. Shortest book you've read - No idea, I don't pay attention

18. Book you're most embarrassed to say you like - Twilight, it's a total love/hate relationship. I hate that Bella is such a spineless twit and rely souly on the guy to survive! However, the romance sucks me in.

19. Book that turned you on - Uh...

20. Book you've read the most number of times - Any Harry Potter book, I used to read in order 1, 2, 3, 4, and repeat adding the new ones as they came out. Book 3 and 4 are in the worse shape.

21. Favorite picture book from childhood - Tie between Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey and Make Way for Ducklings also by McCloskey

22. Book you plan to read next - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I didn't finish before the movie and just reread Half Blood Prince

23. Book you tell people you've read, but haven't (or haven't actually finished) - None, that I recall.

24. Book that contains you favorite scene - LOTR: Return of the King when Frodo is getting ready to sale to the Undying Lands. OMgoodness, cry fest.

25. Favorite book you read in school - Ishmael by Daniel Quinn and The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff.

26. Favorite nonfiction book - Unbowed by Wangari Maathai

27. Favorite fiction book - Same as favorite books

28. Last book you read - Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

29. Book you're currently reading - HP and Dealthy Hallows

30. Favorite coffee table book - Our America's National Parks book, absolutely beautiful

Monday, July 25, 2011

Harry Potter Three Ways

My love for Harry Potter has been a long road, an almost 12 year road. I remember reading the first book when I was about ten. I think it was a Christmas present and I instantly fell in love with Harry's magical world. I was ten, somewhere close to turning eleven when I recieved and devoured the first book. I remember because when my eleventh birthday came around in early September I waited and waited for my letter from Hogwarts. Yeah, it sucked me in. Of course, no letter came and I had to settle with waiting for every new Harry Potter book to come out and starting in 2001 for every movie to come out.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 2 was no exception. In fact, it was a must see at midnight since it would be the last opportunity to see Harry Potter on the big screen. So, Thursday, July 14th at 10:30pm we headed to the closest movie theater to wait in line and pay our respects with the last installment of Harry Potter.

Oh, yeah there are three tickets on that book. That's because we saw it opening night at 12:20am in 2D, Friday evening at 7:45 pm in 3D and Saturday at 11:00am in IMAX 3D. Yeah, we saw Harry Potter three times opening weekend. Not only was it completely worth watching this movie three times, we contributed to some record breaking stats!

If you haven't seen the movie and aren't prepared to spend the money to see it three times, it's not necessary to see it 3D, it doesn't add much. I noticed it in the scenes with the dragon and Dementor scenes at Hogwarts. However, if you are near an IMAX, that is definitely worth it. Harry Potter on an even bigger screen is always better.

I'm super excited that soon Andrew and I will be heading to New York to see the Discovery Museum's Harry Potter exhibit, where they have movie props from all the movies! We'll be there in one of it's final US tour weekend and will get to see it before it heads of to Australia.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Dakota Details

What do I do in the afternoon's blazing heat? I take pictures of my panting dog. I sprayed a bunch of water into the air while Dakota ran around under the hose like a crazy dog. I swear he loves it! That's why the hose is out and the patio is wet. Because, of course, I always roll up the hose after using it.

Dakota makes hot afternoons way more enjoyable.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wild Souvenirs

If you know me, or read my blog, you know how much I love mugs from places I visit. Well, the Wilds was no different. I knew I wanted at least a mug and told Andrew before we left to budget about $30 for souvenirs for wherever we were going. He laughed and said that's a little much. To which I replied, "two mugs, stickers and maybe a shirt". I'm pretty sure he shook his head and walked away from me.

Well, my guess was pretty close. I found this cool window sticker, about $4 of this sticker went to conservation and it sticks on the inside of a window instead of the outside which I prefer. Oh, there's a cheetah inside the rhino. Don't laugh, it took Andrew a little while to figure that out.

Please excuse the chapstick stain. I had just finished up my tea and was too lazy to wipe it off. It's ok though, it's a mug, it doesn't know it had a photoshoot.

Once I saw the mug selection I knew I had to get one that said "Nomad Ridge" where we slept and one the said "the Wilds". My two mug prophecy was coming true, mwuahaha! My Wilds mug is more of a cup, it's the cool kind with the twist on lid and plastic straw. Ohmygoodness, this cup is my new favorite thing ever. I can pack it full of ice and water and it stays cold forever and condensation doesn't pool up on the sides. Plus, it's spill proof and I kind of need that. I didn't find a shirt, the sweatshirts were really nice, but I couldn't justify the money for something I wouldn't wear for at least another 3 months.

Grand total $26 something something. We both laughed when she rang us up and she probably thought we were crazy. It's ok, because I've been using my Nomad Ridge mug with morning tea and my Wilds cup every afternoon for ice water and sweet tea.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Tomatoes and a Hydrangea

This morning, while Dakota frolicked in the back yard. Yes, my dog frequently frolics. Anyway, while he was doing whatever hyper-active dogs do, I was taking some pictures of my growing tomatoes. They are looking amazing! I'm figuring another 3-4 weeks and I'll be eating tomatoes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Plus, making homemade spaghetti sauce.

First up, the pretty funny looking Romas. I've never grown Romas and the funny shape makes me giggle. Round is so boring.

Although, round isn't so boring in the form of teeny tiny cherry tomatoes. They are so cute! They are so delicious!

A lone hydrangea blossom is blooming on this bush by the garden shed. The previous owners planted it, and I'm thinking they didn't put any pennies in the soil because it's not very prolific. On the other hand, the lady's hydrangea across the street has to be close to 50 blossoms. Oh well, I'm more of a coneflower, daisy and dandelion type of gardener.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Anniversary Trip: The Wilds Safari

Now for all the pretty animals we saw at the Wilds for our anniversary trip. Andrew signed us up for the Sunset tour and all through dinner we could hear people taking about what to expect. Employees were talking to guests and telling them that Sunset was the best tour to take because Animal Management went around before the buses and feed the animals close to the road. That way the animals are up close and personal when we get out to pasture. Needless to say, I was getting pretty excited!

Greater One-Horned Asian Rhino

Bactrian Camel

Sichuan Takin

African Wild Dog and Homo sapien : )

Bactrian Deer
One-Horned Asian Rhino. We got to feed this one sweet potato chunks!
This Oryx only had one horn left, some people think these animals spawned the unicorn myth. Their horns are an extension of their skull and do not grow back when broken.

Scimitar-Horned Oryx
Sable Antelope

After the tour they had a special treat and we got to see a Cheetah from the Columbus Zoo up close and personal. It sounds like they do something special after every Sunset tour, but the animals vary. The dog is Carlisle and the Cheetah is Moya(spelling is probably wrong), they are raised together and Moya feels safe and comfortable when Carlisle is around. It was funny to see that the Cheetah was way better behaved than the dog.

Our tour guide was pretty cool, with all those typical cheesy animals jokes. I have to admit, I laughed at all of them, because cheesy animal humor makes me laugh like a 5 year old. The tour was informative and ran almost 3 1/2 hours! The three different safari buses didn't seem to mind slowing down and taking their time.

We are definitely looking into a membership for this place, which also includes discounts for zoos all over the country. Since we love zoos and now this place, I can see us visiting a lot. Staying at The Wilds was a wonderful experience and a great gift from my husband. I asked him how he was ever going to top this first anniversary, and he didn't really know yet.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Anniversary Trip: The Wilds

For our anniversary, Andrew decided to surprise me. What I knew was we were driving 2 1/2 to get to the destination, staying overnight and I definitely wanted my camera charged and ready to go. Saturday morning we woke up bright and early due to excitement, sat around and waited for an appropriate time to leave. We didn't want to be too early because check in time was 3pm.

Before we got in the car to head out, I made Andrew take a "before we leave" photo, because I'm silly like that. We drove and drove and eventually got off the interstate. After a few miles, we finally saw a sign for The Wilds in Cumberland, Oh and I mostly didn't believe we were actually going to stay there. But, my amazing husband booked us a night and safari at The Wilds. Which is a huge acreage of animal park, where they focus on research, conservation and education about wild animals.
Not only were we staying here, but we were staying in these amazing Mongolian style Yurts. We arrived almost 40 minutes early, but they checked us in and we were able to unpack and relax before dinner.

Yurts are super cute and functional round structures with minimal "stuff". The bathroom and shower are behind the curtains to the left and right of the bed. Which was, ohmygoodness, the best bed I've ever slept on.
It was difficult to get over the excitement of actually being there and then getting out my camera and taking blog worthy pictures. I even remember asking, probably with a stupid grin on my face, "do I get to see the animals??!!?!??!?!" Once I got my camera out I took so many pictures I have to split our stay into two posts. This first post is our room, the surroundings and the different spaces for visitors. The next will be of all the awesome animals we saw.

We were staying at Nomad Ridge, Yurt #9 which gave us a reserved table at the Overlook Cafe and access to the dinner menu or the buffet they were serving for Sunset Safari. Since we were going on Sunset Safari we decided to eat from the buffet and it was so delicious. All the employees were super nice. Within minutes of sitting down we were asked if we wanted water or lemonade or a number of other drinks. I thought they were doing this because we were at the reserved table, but they were doing it for everyone. Everyone seemed genuinely pleased to be there and were helpful and informative.

On the safari we stopped at the midsize Carnivore Center and saw these funny signs (not so funny if you don't take the warning).

The Carnivore Center had a huge viewing platform that overlooked a section of the enclosure. The spaces are huge, but a raised boardwalk gave a good vantage point no matter where the animals were.
It's a huge place, I think they said it was over 10,000 acres. Most of which is just rolling hills and grass, very few structures interefere with the landscape or wildlife.

This is the community deck by the Nomad Ridge. They have fires out weather permitting and we did sit outside for a little while after our safari finished. But, we were exausted and went to bed shortly after.

And just because it would be mean not to show a picture of an animal. Here's a SNEAK PEAK of what we saw on our safari trip.