You've got to try this

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Monday night we checked out one of Pioneer Woman's recipes. Pasta carbonara was awesome! We highly recommend it--just don't think about how much bacon and butter you're eating!

Illinois Natural Survey Expo

Monday, September 29, 2008

Maybe this should be more appropriately titled "How we spent our Saturday". This was an expo to showcase our work here at the survey in a family/kid friendly atmosphere.

My booth --"I Spy Invasives" -- we highlighted the emerald ash borer of course, along with some other invasive insects and invasive plants. We made sure to have those purple sticky traps that everyone always ask questions about. They were a huge hit! For those of you wanted to have the latest info on invasive plants, be sure to request copies of Dawn and I's latest collaboration. Its a poster and factsheet series highlighting Illinois' top invasive plants in woodland, aquatic, grassland, and agriculture habitats. The requests are pouring in already :)

Anyway, it was a beautiful day with plenty of families and kids coming through to learn more about science. Here are a few photos from the day.

Setting up for the day.

Ron taking a break after helping haul everything from my lab.


Garlic mustard anyone?
I see Jen!
Kabe learning about transmitters and tracking birds.

Friday, September 26, 2008

A quick and easy snack from Dawn. Did I mention its pretty yummy?

Popcorn Cake

5 qts air popped popcorn
1 bag m&m’s
2 cups salted peanuts (optional)

Mix above in large bowl.

On stove melt together on medium heat (don’t burn):

16 oz marshmallows
1/3 c veg oil
½ c butter

Let cool a little so it won’t melt the m&m’s. Then pour over popcorn mixture.
Stir with spoon to coat the ingredients. Wet hands and press into a greased Bundt or angel food pan. Let sit for 20 min then EAT up!

Throw Up Your Rock Fists

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Picture this: grown adults on a Saturday night hanging out, having fun, enjoying each other's company. It's great to have such awesome friends. And now I have reasons to love them even more.

We've entered a new era in our lives: Rock Band - the video game. That's right, those adults spent Saturday night playing rock band. And I'm sure the others are really happy that the photos that were taken are on Dawn's camera and not public embarrassment. Anyway, I'm getting off the subject. Ron and I have not been privy to this game before. The others.....let's say they've been practicing. And they're competitive. SO DON'T SCREW UP!!!! Because when you screw lose your video game fans. That's right, you're playing gigs and earning fans...and probably other stuff too, I just don't know what that is. I was laughing so hard I was crying. I did take a shot at bass guitar though. And it was fun. I can't wait until the next time we can hang out, and throw up our rock fists!

Ron and I have been thinking though, we think the country version is definitely more our style and what would be better than getting to play the video game electric fiddle???

Wings for Wednesday

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Here's a beautiful Monarch we saw yesterday while down south for work.

Ron's New Toy

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A trip home this last weekend was great. We got to hang out with mom and dad, spend time with Stacy and Mike, and of course spoil the crap out of Madison. One downer on the weekend--it rained the whole time. No big deal for the guys though. Instead of working in the field, they did some truck shopping.

You guessed it, Ron found a truck and we bought it. We've been keeping an eye out for awhile now (the little Nissan isn't going to last forever you know, but we're going to keep it as it gets great gas milage). The truck is pretty sharp and I have to say, I like it quite a bit. Probably not as much as Ron though.

On the way home from Morrison I asked him if he was going to name it. I'll be honest, I've never named a vehicle before, but its seems to be a guy thing. Ron said he wasn't sure on a name yet, that it would probably come with time. He's pretty sure its a girl though :)

My thoughts on a name can best be summed up here:

Any name suggestions?


Monday, September 15, 2008

Republican or gotta love this SNL skit!

Friday, September 12, 2008

I love this stuff!


1 stick butter
1 box yellow cake mix
4 eggs
8 oz. cream cheese
1 box powdered sugar

Melt butter, add box of yellow cake mix. Add 2 eggs and mix well. Spread in 9 x 13 inch pan evenly. Blend 2 eggs, cheese and powdered sugar. Mix well and pour over first mixture. Bake at 325 degree oven for approximately 35 to 40 minutes or until lightly browned. Toothpick will not come out dry, it will be sticky.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

This last summer I received an old University of Illinois Agriculture Yearbook from a friend in Extension. He was cleaning out his office and realized he had two. He also realized that since my dad graduated early, he probably didn't get one and thought he might like this spare copy. It was fun looking through the Hoof-n-Horn pictures and all of the others. Included in these are all of the judging teams. Can you find my dad in this photo?

Family Fun

Monday, September 8, 2008

This weekend we had the Venable family reunion. It was a fun-filled Saturday with family, fun, and some Illini football. While we missed out on tailgating and the game, we were able to catch up with family, many of whom we hadn't seen since our wedding.

There was lots of great food, and we ate until until our stomachs were about to explode. We played games -- bags, washers, hillbilly golf, and volleyball. Now, I guess volleyball is a tradition in the family. Several hours of the afternoon were spent diving for and hitting balls over the net. I'm sure many hours are now being spent soaking aching muscles :)

Friday, September 5, 2008

How about a great recipe from Jen today? We tried these last weekend and loved them!

Glazed Bacon & Cheese-Filled Burgers
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoons paprika ½ teaspoons garlic powder
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 lb ground beef (or more if needed)
½ cup shredded sharp cheddar
6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
Rolls or buns

Heat grill to medium. Combine sugar, spices, salt & pepper & set aside. Form beef into 8 equal patties. Toss cheese & crumbled bacon and place equal amounts on 4 patties. --Place remaining patties over the cheese and bacon and pinch to seal. Generously pat each burger with reserves spice mixture. Makes 4 servings.

Windy City Wednesday

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

I'll have to get back to our trip to the zoo, but I wanted to share some favorite photos from Navy Pier.

Medieval Monday

Monday, September 1, 2008

Last Friday we headed to Chicago for a fun-filled weekend with friends. And oh what a weekend it was. It doesn't get any better than spending time with your best friends. Throw in the husbands and 3 kids and our multi-family vacation was quite different than the road trips of years past.

Friday night we headed to Medieval Times in Schaumburg. We didn't know a whole lot going into this outing except it would be a dinner and show - with jousting and all. Oh...and that we were going to have to eat our meal without silverware because as we were told, they did not use silverware in medieval times.

It was a very interesting evening. Both the food and show were pretty good. The show was based around a tournament with different sections of the arena cheering for their very own knight. How do you know what knight to root for you might ask? Well, they give you crowns that you are supposed to wear as you enter the building. You'll be able to tell, we were rooting for the black and white knight. As you watch the tournament, several courses of food are brought out to you and they even have a break in the show with Andalusian horses to that were amazing to watch.

Oh what a night!