Mr. Basketmaker’s Redneck Bootcamp

My nephew Ben is ten and lives outside of Chicago. And he is truly a country boy at heart. We don’t know how this came to be since he has lived in an urban area all of his life. But as they say, “being country is in your blood” and it’s certainly may be so in his case.

Needless to say, he loves watching Duck Dynasty, Call of the Wildman, Survivorman, Hillbilly Blood and all those other “mountain man” type of shows, as we call it in our family. In addition, he loves ALL cooking shows, especially Cutthroat Kitchen and Chopped, and is already an aspiring chef. Did I mention that he is only ten?

So for his summer vacation, he wanted to come visit Mr. Basketmaker and I down in Tennessee for a week. When we heard this, we were thrilled! Eric and I immediately got busy planning an entire week of Mr. Basketmaker’s Redneck Bootcamp.

I designed a cool logo that I thought Ben would love…


Eric got busy planning his “missions.” Here he is sketching out his first mission, finding the special Field Box that he would hide somewhere on our property.


We created a “camp central” board with all his missions and activities planned. I simply love Mr. Basketmaker’s little sketches. Aren’t they cute? And he drew these in a matter of minutes. He’s pretty fast….redneck-bootcamp-duck-dynasty
That weird little “doll” is Si Robertson of Duck Dynasty. Ben loves everything about Si. And if you press his tummy, you hear all kinds of “Si-isms”. We ended up wrapping this and putting it in his little pile of presents, one for him to unwrap each day he was here, and he wound up unwrapping this one first. He’s been playing it for the last two days straight.


Since Ben is only ten and has never travelled alone before, my dad, who has to be the best grandfather of all time in my book, flew to Chicago to accompany Ben on his first solo vacation. Here he is helping Ben read the compass to his second clue in finding the field box out in the back woods. Chance, of course is waiting for them to head in the right direction.


Yes, he did find it! Hidden inside a large hole in the curvy tree. Is Chance actually “pointing” to the treasure???redneck-bootcamp-hunt-field-box

However, Mr. Basketmaker did not make it so easy. The field box filled with “redneck must-haves” had a padlock on it. And Ben then had to search for more clues in finding the key that would unlock the box.

Some of the clues involved him using my metal detector that I got for Christmas. Eric buried little notes inside a metal lid. Here he is searching next to our grapevines on the side of our property.


Here’s Ben discovering how hard it is to dig into Tennessee ground! So Mr. Basketmaker was on hand to hop on the shovel every now and then.


Eventually he did make it through the entire “hunt” and had the numbers to a secret combination that unlocked a special compartment that held that little key. And this time, it was Jackson who wanted in on the action.


Overall, it was a great start to Mr. Basketmaker’s Redneck Bootcamp! More updates throughout the week!

Our Backyard Nature Walk

A couple days ago, I got a much-needed pep talk from my close and dear friend Karen. I’ve been in a bit of a creative slump lately. Well, more than a bit.

So at the end of our conversation, she instructed me to get my camera and take five shots. So the next day, I took a lunch break and went out in the woods at the back of our property and took more than five shots… I took over a hundred! Exactly what I needed.

So below, is a few of the shots I took — but nothing artistic with these. I wanted to show everyone how awesome Mr. Basketmaker is! He cleared all these paths in our woods out back so me and the dogs could go on daily walks out from under the hot sun. He really is the best.

And because of these nice walking paths, I was able to find so many things to photograph. I will share some of them soon! I have a lot of sorting to do first!

chance-walking-wood-pathway tennessee-wood-walking-path-2  tennessee-wood-walking-pathtennessee-wood-walking-path-dogs

Petey’s Place Hit by Tennessee Storm

Remember when I posted about our new “pet” lizard, Petey, and his updated-curb-appeal pad? (see full post here.)

Well, here was the tree…


And here was Petey sunning himself…


Now Petey’s “hip-pad-with-sun-porch” is no more! During last week’s storms our beautiful, quirky old crab apple tree split in three and fell apart.


Before there was a branch to the right of Petey’s entrance, which was not that large. Now it just ripped right off and revealed a large hole.


It’s been days of cutting branches and cleaning up—All while mourning “Petey” (we hope she got away safely… Yes, we discovered that Petey was really a ‘she’ after we saw her hanging with the babies) AND the loss of this sweet tree which was the center of our back ‘courtyard’ area.

Mr. Basketmaker told me yesterday that he was a little depressed looking out and not seeing the tree. I have to agree with him. From my desk, through the glass door was a full view of this beautiful tree. Now I simply see the doors to our ugly shed. It was hard to be inspired the last several days…

Definitely will take us some time getting used to…