Hey, it's great to be back home! Sheeba also seems happy--he's curled up on my lap as I type!
We spent a few days in Springfield, Missouri with Ken's mom and step dad. We had a really nice time with family. They both have had some past health problems, and some ongoing ones, so it was good to spend some time with them. I also got to meet Ken's stepsister and her husband, and I liked them very much. I'll get a picture or two up before too long. Ken's mom has a cat named Scamper, and I'll get a pic of him up, too. He's one of the fattest, funniest, and sweetest cats I've met! He's not as fat as Shane's lovable Peanut, but he looks bigger because he has long hair. And a big thanks to Uncle Shane for taking care of his "nephew." Thanks, Shane!
One of the places we went was the original BassPro store. Holy moley! The place is huge. I'd only been to the one in Gurnee Mills, Illinois. The whole hunting culture bothers me--I don't have a huge problem with people who hunt and do it honestly, but after living in close proximity to lots of wildlife, I really can't see how anyone can kill an animal for sport. (Forgive me, Ted Nugent.) I could do it if I were starving, but otherwise...no. Seeing all the mounted deer heads and stuffed critters kind of bugged me, and apparently it bugs Ken's mom, too. But like she said, if you can get past that, it's an interesting place. We had a beer in the lounge, and they have a huge aquarium behind the bar--we enjoyed watching the different types of (live) fish. They were beautiful! It was also fun to look at the boats, especially the pontoon boats. I can totally see us floating lazily along, enjoying the sun and the outdoors. However, due to a bit of a dearth of lakes close by, we agreed we'd be better off looking at a small travel trailer to use for road trips. One day, we hope...in the not-too-distant future!
Speaking of road trips, Route 66 goes through Springfield. Most of the original road in the city is obliterated now, but I think some stretches survive as frontage roads. We didn't have time to explore any of that, but I was excited to see several houses with great examples of stone siding, like this one place on Route 66--I can't remember if it's a motel or a gas station, but it has the flat stone siding. I saw quite a few houses like that. Some had white mortar, but I saw at least one with black mortar. In fact, Ken's stepsister and her husband have a really neat house that is a combination of this stone and wood. I wonder if it's a uniquely Missouri design, or if it appears in other areas? (In Indiana, we have lots of limestone houses, because there are huge quarries in southern Indiana. The house where my family lived when I was born is Indiana limestone.) I wish I could have gotten some pictures of the houses we saw in Missouri, but here's one I found on realtor.com:
I don't know if they still build them, but they look early- to mid-20th century to me. I think they look really cool and old-fashioned, like a little cottage in a little village. It's a hobbit house!
Another thing we did was watch a fun movie. Ken's mom had mentioned that they like the "Die Hard" movies, and wanted to see the new one. We got it and watched it Saturday afternoon--what a blast! We all really enjoyed it, and it made us decide to buy the boxed set of all the Die Hard movies. Bruce Willis can still kick some ass! I give the movie a definite must-see.
I forgot to mention that I have a whole bunch of new recipes to try. One of the things that Ken's mom and I have in common is a mutual love of cookbooks. She says she finds it so relaxing to page through a cookbook and think about whether or not she'd like to make that. I do the same thing! I went through a bunch of her cookbooks and found some things that I want to try. I look for recipes that don't have tons of ingredients, and use things that I'm likely to have on hand. I'm also wary of any recipe that calls for marinating steaks. There are some cuts that do well with a marinade, but T-bones, Porterhouses, and other such cuts need nothing extra. We bought some beautiful T-bones to take over to Ken's stepsister's, and had a great cookout. No marinating required! It makes my Dad crazy when he sees people put ketchup on steak. Ground beef is one thing, but ketchup on steak? Blasphemy!