Discover the Forest aka Everybody Poops, Even Raccoons

(I was asked to share this campaign with my readers and was compensated. However, the opinions and the heartfelt poop stories of my childhood in this post are all mine.) 

I was really into poop when I was little. Ahem, I mean scat. I had a field guide poster on my wall. We lived in NH and I'd troll our woods looking for fresh matter to identify. At "Kids College" over the summer of second grade I dissected an owl pellet (technically this would be barf) and pieced together a mouse skeleton. Later living in Vermont on 10 acres I used these "poop detective" skills to identify deer trails and locate where they bedded down. No staring contests though.....

I think what I'm trying to say here is that you should get out and into the outdoors with your kids. Poop and pawprint ID skills are how I learned that a raccoon was eating our garbage and a skunk was hiding under our porch

This summer our wildlife experience will be a little different as it is our first summer here in San Antonio. The girls and my husband are headed to Big Bend National Park soon and I'm sure the How to Put Out a Campfire Snapguide on Discover the Forest will be a big help since the kiddos can't stop talking about s'mores.

After a long day of hiking there is nothing better than s'mores around a campfire so I am finally going to reveal my super secret s'more recipe to the world.

- Put marshmallow on stick.
- Take a square of Hershey's chocolate and shove it against the stick into the middle of the marshmallow.
- Roast the marshmallow.
- Take it off gently and place between two graham crackers with 3 squares of chocolate on each side.

The end result is the ooey gooeyest s'more of all time.

You're welcome.

(Middle of the winter? Never fear- you can make Oven S'mores.)

We have managed to haul the kids into the great outdoors at all ages so head on over to Discover the Forest to find great outdoor attractions in your area. I can't wait to explore my new city!

Join @Cheecker and @kimorlando for a fun Twitter Party all about the great outdoors with the US Forest Service at 1 p.m ET on June 26th.


How Not to Be a Jackass at Starbucks

Spending a lot of time on the road for work pretty much ensures that I find my way into the green machine a few times a week. Between the clean restrooms, free wifi, and the fact that they are all over Texas it's inevitable. And even though I'm cranky that they have gluten in their caramel sauce (sneaky) they do have a gluten-free Zesty Black Bean Chicken Salad that I like. Coffee shops tend to bring out the best and worst in people so I thought I would share 6 ways to NOT be a jackass at Starbucks.

1) Get off your damn phone. You are NOT that important. If you were someone else would be fetching your coffee. When you get up to the register you should be at attention and ready to order. If you are sitting in the cafe you should not be the only person people hear.

2) Sure you may see articles online talking about how to "hack" the system and get your drinks cheaper. Let me just say that if you do #1 more than twice in the same store you are just causing those espresso shots to be decaf from that point on. It's just an asshole move to do that. (Some of the other ideas are not as sketchy.)

3) If you are using the drive thru it is because you are in a hurry, or have kids in the car, or are just too lazy to walk through the door. Or it's Texas and it's too damn hot to get out of the car and walk in, besides the 110 degrees will flatten your hair. Whatever the reason the drive through is not the place to be indecisive. If you've never seen a Starbucks menu before go inside. If you are ordering 8 drinks, go inside. It is not the time to stop and stare for 5 minutes while you decide and people are trapped behind you.

4) Asking someone to watch your stuff and disappearing for an extended period of time. First off you're asking a stranger to watch your laptop. There is a 5 minute grace period on that, it should be a quick bathroom run. I'll give you a grace period of 10 minutes if you're moving your obnoxious cell phone conversation to the sidewalk after I've been giving you stink eye. But true story today a girl asked me to watch her stuff and disappeared for 41 minutes. Seriously? I didn't come to Starbucks to babysit your stuff.

5) Starbucks is not your office. Yes, it has free wifi and is a pleasant place to sit and wile away an hour or four. When you start laying down a protective ring of papers and using extra chairs to sort and staple you've gone too far. It's called a communal table for a reason.

6) I love dogs. I do- I have one and he is often my favorite child but there are some indicators that your dog is not patio-worthy. If he/she is shaking uncontrollably and looks utterly petrified bring it home, if it barks shrilly for 10 minutes anytime anyone walks by within a 10 foot proximity it is not patio appropriate. If it lifts it's leg and urinates on anything (especially another patron) leave. It's not cute, we don't think it's ha-ha funny, and it's cruel to the dog to make them that uncomfortable.

So go forth, caffeinate and make good decisions boys and girls.