Softball Season: Week 2

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I can't believe I almost forgot to post a recap of this week's game......well, I guess I can believe it, since it the game was awful. I guess maybe not that bad, if you like losing. That's right, the Mixed Nuts has dropped to a record of 1-1 after a great first game.

This last Sunday night was a little chilly and the light sprinkles coming down didn't really excite too many people. But that's not the reason we lost. We lost because we had a terrible umpire. I'm just not saying that either. We had a couple of questionable calls, and of course, none went our way. The most important was a play at home in the bottom of the last inning. These early season games are never really defensive battles and we'd been on a scoring seesaw since the first inning. While we were done by a couple runs in the last inning, we had been steadily scoring a few runs each inning, putting us back on top. Well, needless to say there was a play at home where umpire called one of players out, then realized the catcher dropped the ball, called her safe, and then the other team began to argue which ended in a "but she didn't touch the plate" and the ump called her out again. We've been playing this game long enough, that if given the opportunity to cross home plate, we make sure we touch it.

Anyway, the game was over and we left a little bit miffed. On to next week, where the Mixed Nuts will be playing "For the Fun of It" --- I'm sure you can't wait.

Ron wasn't in the stands this week to give out a spirit award, so I guess you'll have to wait until next week for that too.

Time Warp Tuesday

Me and mom---wasn't I a cutie?

Sending well wishes

Monday, April 28, 2008

A little note to wish Adrienne and Nick a Happy Anniversary! You've surpassed the one year mark - I guess we can't technically call you newlyweds anymore!

Favorite Recipe Friday

Friday, April 25, 2008

Here's a Cheesy Potato Soup recipe that's easy and very yummy! This makes a huge amount, so I usually cut the recipe in half.

Cheesy Potato Soup

6 1/2 c. milk
2 sticks butter
1 heaping c. flour
1/2 to 1 medium onion
10-12 medium potatoes
sliced American cheese (*I use velveeta)
1/2 c. finely chopped carrots
1/4 lb. cubed ham

Heat milk to hot in large pan. Melt butter, add flour, stir until think. Add cheese, stir occassionally. Cube potatoes, carrots, onion; cook until tender, drain. Add to soup mixture. Add cubed ham. Heat until hot-ready to eat!

Softball Season is Here

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Well, this week has been busy. Softball season has started and believe it or not, the Mixed Nuts are 1-0. I've been playing on this team going on 8 years now. I can't hardly believe it. A lot has changed in that time - mostly my baserunning (as I will often be reminded, I'm not as young as I used to be). The original team was made up of crop science graduate students. Over the years, many have moved on. However, there are 2 of us left from the team I met so many years ago. And no, we're not still students -- we just happened to stay in Champaign. And even though the roster has constantly changed, we're still predominantly a team made of ag "kids" that love to play the game. So every Sunday night we'll be out there punishing our bodies - stayed tuned, I'm sure there will be some great stories over the summer.

This week I've also started my stint as a fastpitch softball coach for a girls softball team in town. I've got a team of eleven girls ranging in age from 11 to 14. This could be quite interesting as well. I inherited a team that went undefeated last season - only 4 players are returning, but the team did get 4 of the top 5 girls in the draft this spring. Looks like expectations may be high again. I'm sure it will be fun, its just been quite awhile since I've coached young girls. Practice starts next Saturday and we'll be meeting 3 times a week until the Bruins (that's us) make our debut at the end of May.

That's not the only season that's in full swing. Planting season is here too. Ron's been on the road getting trials out. After a long day in Monmouth yesterday, he got home after 1 am and then started again this morning in Urbana. The rain we got tonight may put a hitch in his plans for tomorrow, but I'm sure they'll be heading out again next week.

I too, have been on the road this week. Traps have been going up for our exotic woodborer and bark beetle survey. (I'll save those photos for another post.) I've also squeezed a few meetings in this week. I think we're both pretty excited tomorrow is finally Friday. The weekend can't get here soon enough!

I know I previously said I wasn't posting anything until later today, but during lunch I was catching up on my blog reading. One of my favorites Baking Delights had a fun post - What kind of cake are you?

You Are a Lemon Cake

Strong, sexy, and overpowering.

You know who you are, and you're not afraid to show the world your fabulous self.

You're confident, charming, and extremely popular.

It says I'm lemon cake..........what???? Strong, sexy, and overpowering? And I don't even eat lemon cake. Give it a try and let me know what you are.

No News is Good News

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Not a lot going on around here lately, although we're busy all the time. I thought I'd better put a little something on the blog for you loyal readers....all 3 of you (Ha!) It's kind of like that old saying - throwing the dog a bone - don't you think? What is it with old sayings or slang? They mean something different to everyone and are always being misinterpreted. So, we'll just say no news is good news (everyone should understand that, right?) and I'll try to do a more thorough post tomorrow evening.

Other big weekend news

Monday, April 21, 2008

Not my news, but the emails have poured in over the last 2 days with friends sharing their good news....

First, congrats to Dan and Jennifer Shike on the birth of Hunter James Shike on Thursday, April 17. Big sister Olivia is very excited!

Next, congrats to Eric and Kate Brucker who will be welcoming baby #2 in November. I'm sure Olivia will be glad to share her big sister wisdom with Alyson when the time comes.

And finally, Stephanie's younger brother Aaron, got engaged to girlfriend Kelly this weekend.

What great news for everyone!

Weekend Recap
Another weekend gone by, and my was it a busy one! Friday night we went out to eat and then have some drinks with Doug and Angie. It was a great night and we had a lot of fun.

Ron worked all day Saturday. He spent the morning at his uncle's house calibrating his new planter. Then it was off to the university to work on getting trials ready. We ended the evening with dinner with his mom and a quick shopping trip to get a bridal shower gift and some ammo (great combination, huh -- just so you know, we didn't buy them at the same store!)

As usual, Sunday morning church and we hustled home. I hurried out the door for skills assessment for the Jr. and Intermediate girls fastpitch league here in Champaign. I found out last night that I'd be the head coach of the Bruins intermediate team. I thought I'd be helping out on team, not necessarily be in charge. Oh well, it should be fun! Ron went to LeRoy while I was drafting girls onto teams. He met up with Doug and Nathan to do some shooting.

We ended up the day with my softball game last night. The "Mixed Nuts" made their season debut and I have to say, we played much better than I thought we would. Many of us had not dug our softball things out since last fall. Good news --- we did win and in pretty dominating fashion. I can't remember the exact score, but I think we won by at least 10. Ron would like to give out the "spirit award" to Stephanie Tautkus - she was an animal last night!

Silly Saturday

Saturday, April 19, 2008


Friday, April 18, 2008

Wow, imagine my surprise when I heard on tv this morning that there was a 5.2 magnitude earthquake that hit Illinois this morning. And the epicenter was only about 2 1/2 hours from Champaign. Don't worry, Ron and I slept through it all, which is really pretty surprising on my part. I generally wake up when there are strange noises in the night or the dog is wanting out at 3 in the morning. They're saying that there could be a series of after shocks this morning. Maybe we'll notice one of them. At the very least it will be interesting to hear all the stories this morning at work!

Favorite Recipe Friday
Something from Stacy this week:

span style="font-weight:bold;">Delicious Bars

2 sticks butter or margarine
2 c. sugar
4 eggs
1½ c. flour
4 Tb. Cocoa
Pinch of salt
Small jar marshmallow crème
1 c. butterscotch chips
1 c. chocolate chips
1 c. peanut butter
2½ c. rice krispies

Melt butter. Add sugar. Stir in eggs, flour, cocoa, salt.

Bake 20 minutes @ 350° in greased pan.

While still warm, spread marshmallow crème over cake. (Can warm 20-30 seconds if needed.)

Melt peanut butter, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips. Add rice krispies. Spread on top of marshmallow crème layer.

Ready in <30 minutes. Will go straight to your hips.

Time Warp Tuesday

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Want a blast from the past? Who is this pretty lady?

It's my mommy! Ain't she a doll?

I like being lazy

Sunday, April 13, 2008

After our long Saturday, we've been pretty lazy today. We were up early to head to church and stopped for a late breakfast on our way home. We also squeezed a quick trip to Kohls for me to pick up a few things (where we ran into the coffee-deprived Schuster's) and stopped by the bookstore before heading home. I spent my afternoon napping....and I liked it. It's now 7:30 and I should be cleaning, but instead, I'm blogging. Maybe I should get off the computer and heat that chicken up for supper....

Winner, Winner Chicken Dinner
Yesterday was the fried chicken dinner at our church we attend. Shiloh is known for its chicken dinners, ice cream, and pie socials. You wonder why? Because everything is homemade. Let me tell you, those ladies can cook!

One the menu Saturday night: fried chicken (of course), homemade chicken and noodles, gravy, mashed potatoes, green beans, corn, salad, coleslaw, applesauce, and of course pies. We spent a greater part of our Saturday helping out where ever we could - cooking, dishing up food, cleaning. The dinner was a huge success for the church- we served around 150 people. We actually ran out of most of the food. Even the homemade chicken and noodles I was hoping to have. We did manage to bring home a couple of pieces of chicken. Don't worry, I managed 2 pieces of pie for dinner instead.

Happy Birthday Stacy!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

It's a big day today! First, let wish my little sister, Stacy, a Happy Birthday! What a difference ten years makes!

Happy Anniversary Stephanie and Greg!
Wow---five years already? Best wishes to the funnest couple we know!

Favorite Recipe Friday

Friday, April 11, 2008

Some of the best food came from my grandma's kitchen. We'd spend Saturday mornings baking cookies, cakes, and bread. We'd finish just in time to help cook lunch and take it to the field where grandpa was working. Nanny had lots of favorite recipes - in cookbooks, torn out of magazines, and written on scraps of paper. Luckily after she tried different recipes, she'd mark next to them if they were good and add little baking tips to remember. This banana bread recipe is great tasting and super easy. I know why she starred it and wrote best!

Banana Bread
1 egg
1 c. sugar
1/4 c. melted shortening
1/2 tsp. salt
3 rotten bananas
1 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. soda
nuts (optional)

To egg, add sugar gradually while beating constantly, add melted shortening and mashed bananas. Sift together flour, soda, and salt. Add nuts if desired. Add this with your egg and banana mixture. Bake about 1 hour at 350 degrees in a loaf pan or 10 to 15 minutes in muffin tins with cupcake papers. Test with toothpick before removing from oven.

Getting Ready for the Field Season

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Since Ron and I both are in the ag industry and run our own research programs, spring is a pretty busy time of year (realistically, when isn't a busy time of year?). The weather is starting to warm up and that means we get to leave our offices and labs and get outside!

Ron coordinates the Insect Management Trials for the Department of Crop Sciences at the university of Illinois. He works with ag companies to conduct sponsored research on products that different companies sell as well as other entomology research products. Bottom line right now -- Ron's getting his different trials set up, protocols entered, and waiting for the last of the seed and chemicals to come in. All with the help of his trusty comrades Nick and Josh -- luckily though, both Hannah and Caitlin are there to keep all three of them in line. While it's still early in the season, but the end of the year, all their hard work ends up in the annual program report: on Target.

On Target

I, on the other hand, coordinate surveys for invasive pests. I work with the department of agriculture and USDA to conduct surveys for insects, weeds, and plant pathogens that are a threat to Illinois agriculture and natural resources. The tricky thing for me - we're surveying for pests that aren't here yet (most of the time) or determining the range of the pest that has been discovered. Right, now I'm contacting cooperators for our exotic bark beetle and wood borer survey. Then its on to working on an invasive plant survey and publication and a soybean survey. All lot of people still don't have a good idea of what I really do. Hopefully as I keep you updated this summer, that will change. My website for work is slowly taking shape, but it still has a long way to go, but go ahead and learn more about the Illinois Cooperative Agriculture Pest Survey.

We both end up traveling all over the state, but while Ron and crew are trekking through corn and soybean fields, I'll be making my way through parks, soybean fields, pallet recycling places, industrial areas, and all sorts of odd businesses. Want to come along?

Stages of Spring

Look Who's Blogging Now

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

You can keep up with Leslie and the final days of being a high school senior at Leslie Estes-One of a Kind

And if you're interested in finding out what's on Kayla's mind, check out her blog

Tea Party Anyone?

Sunday, April 6, 2008

I couldn't resist posting these pictures. My mom emailed some photos this afternoon of my dad and Madison having a tea party......that's right my dad (referred to as Big Dave by my friends) had a tea party. Let's reiterate..big, tough, farmer Dave was playing make believe. I'd say Madison has done a pretty good job of wrapping Grandpa around her little fingers.....wouldn't you agree? It's still pretty cute though!

Spring Clean Up

What a warm, wonderful weekend! We spent the majority of Saturday and Sunday working outside in our yard. It's spring cleanup in Champaign, which means the city is picking up all lawn waste for free. Saturday was devoted to the front yard, and I have to say, its looking pretty nice after getting raked. Our trees in the front yard are always dropping limbs and branches - it was in desperate need of picking up after the winter. After getting some of the old, dead grass out, Ron put some more grass seed on it, and hopefully, it will fill in nicely. We have a rather shady yard, and growing anything is turning out to be quite a task. This afternoon we started to tackle the backyard. We live in a neighborhood that has quite a few pine trees. There's four in our back yard and four others on our neighbors side of the fence. So, in addition to being rather shady, we also have quite a few pine needles to clean up. We used up all the yard bags we had, and we have more than half of the backyard to go yet. Let's hope next weekend is this nice too! Until then, we'll be soaking some sore muscles. Raking and dethatching our yard has definitely used some muscles that haven't been used in awhile!

Favorite Recipe Friday

Friday, April 4, 2008

I love to cook, so I thought I'd share some of my favorite recipes. These cookies are great, although not very health conscious. Enjoy!

Everything Cookies

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup butter
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup crisp rice cereal
1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup ground walnuts (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 eggs
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips


1. Cream together the butter and the sugars. Mix in the oil and the flour. Add in oatmeal, crispy rice cereal, coconut, nuts, vanilla, salt, baking soda, eggs and chocolate chips. Mix until well blended.

2. Drop by teaspoons or tablespoons on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees F for 10 - 15 minutes.

April Fool's Day

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Did anyone get tricked this morning? I remember when I was little, it was a lot of fun to try to trick someone and then yelling at them "April Fools!" I can't really remember any of these stunts I tried to pull, but I'm pretty sure it was pretty easy to guess that they weren't true. Thanks for playing along though, mom and dad.

Now that I'm older, I do enjoy hearing about everyone else's misfortunes on April Fools Day. I haven't really heard too much yet today, but did see this article. Funny, but I haven't heard any "laugh so hard I cry jokes." I guess the day is only half done ....