If You Don’t Like Snakes, Don’t Click This Link (Or: Museum Taxidermy Behind-The-Scenes)

Rattlesnake

Travel, lodging, meet-and-greet with Mr. Snake and all other experiences provided by Buffalo Bill Center of The West.

If snakes creep you out – I’m sorry, but I tried to warn you! :D Mr. Rattlesnake here would have freaked me out in the wild, but fortunately I met him within the confines of his glass cage at the Buffalo Bill Center of The West. As we toured the five museums within the Center, we were lucky enough to get a peek behind the scenes at the Draper Museum’s lab. This area is not usually open to the public, and was very securely guarded. There were all kinds of fascinating things within, including Mr. Snake – much like their Raptor Experience, the Draper also puts on a live snake show, which sadly I missed. I did, however, get the opportunity to be rattled at within the lab.

I thought this little guy was cute – but he wouldn’t be very adorable if I met him in the wild!

The Draper’s lab area was fascinating, and I really appreciated getting a chance to see it. Because the museum features a lot of stuffed animals on display and also does research on specimens, there was a whole lot of taxidermy in this room. I’ll take this opportunity to remind everyone that the Draper uses specimens that have been victims of poaching, accidents, or natural causes.

Flesh-Eating Beetles

Right next to the rattlesnake was a tank of flesh-eating beetles. I recognized these right away as the insects which are used by taxidermists to clean off the bones of animals – see, I learned something from watching reality shows about taxidermy! ;)

Bird morgue

Our awesome tour guide showed us some of the things they were working on, including this section which I have dubbed “The bird morgue”.

Bird bones in takeaway boxes

Ziploc body bag for birds

In case you were wondering…it smelled about as fresh as it looks. The surreal humorist in me thought it was funny that the bird bones were in takeaway boxes! Hey, if these birds had already passed away, at least their bodies can be used for research and educational purposes!

Tub of bones

There were also tons of plastic tubs full of bones!

Heron taxidermy

I was amused by this incredibly creepy taxidermied heron. I’m not exactly sure what happened to it, but it’s clearly seen better days as it appeared to be getting some repairs.

Taxidermied birds

Speaking of taxidermied birds, we also saw this shelf of ducks and other fowl from the 1800s. We asked if these were going to be put on display and learned that they can’t be put out in public, because taxidermists back then used arsenic when preparing the animals! However, they are useful specimens for the Draper to keep secured so that they can refer to what ducks looked like during that time period.

Fur stoles

Finally, we saw one of the more peculiar donations the Draper has received: Our guide showed us this plastic container of fur stoles which had been sent to her. “I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do with these!” she laughed. Apparently, the Draper receives some very bizarre packages from patrons wishing to donate specimens – I can only imagine!

Whether you find taxidermy to be interesting, funny, or a little creepy, we can all agree that the research and education provided to us by those like the staff at Draper is very important to society. I was very appreciative of our tour guide and all the staff of the museum for sharing their knowledge and anecdotes with us!

Would you enjoy a peek inside a lab like this? Or did you “Nope” right out of this post when you saw that snake?!

Busy Week Ahead – Blog Events Galore! (Will I Meet You at One of Them?)

I’ve only just gotten back from Wyoming, and now I’m hitting the road once again! On Wednesday, I’m heading to PDX to catch an advance screening of The Lone Ranger. Then on Thursday, I’m off to Eugene to visit a dear friend and attend a blogger event for the opening of a See’s Candies store. And Friday through Sunday, I’ll be back in Portland for FitBloggin’13! I’m very excited for the conference and will be participating as a liveblogger for a session on Saturday morning, Stop Keeping Up with the Joneses.

If you will be at FitBloggin’, please let me know – I’d love to meet you! Likewise, if you’re in the Eugene area and will be at the See’s Candies event (Or would like an invite), get in touch!

Monsters University Movie Review #MonstersU

Monsters University

Complimentary movie passes were received for the purposes of reviewing this film, along with a mini cupcake and plastic monster ring. :D

Last week, my family and I were able to check out an advance screening of Monsters University at Regal Pioneer Place in Portland. Our crew consisted of myself, Jai, my future sister-in-law and her 5 1/2 year old nephew. We were all excited to check out the movie – Monsters, Inc. was our nephew’s favorite film, and he had never seen a 3-D movie before, so we knew it would be a memorable occasion.

Monsters University follows the college years of Mike Wazowski and James P. Sullivan as they attend the school of scares. Mike and Sully butt heads when they meet, but when circumstances force them to work together in order to stay at Monsters U, they eventually start to bond. With the help of their underdog fraternity, Oozma Kappa, the characters learn to put themselves in each other’s shoes and value each monster’s unique talents.

The film is really cute and silly, with humor for the whole family. I liked the attention to detail with the passing visual gags – for example, during finals week, we see a six-armed monster scurrying along with a latte in every hand! The movie has great voice acting, with Billy Crystal and John Goodman resuming their lead roles along with characters voiced by the likes of Steve Buscemi, Helen Mirren, and Charlie Day, who provided the voice for a fuzzy purple monster named Art. Day’s monster is essentially a G-rated version of his character on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, which is one of my favorite shows, so I enjoyed his segments! All of the adults in our group really liked the movie and the short preceding it, The Blue Umbrella; this film is a great one to watch with your kids because there’s something for everybody. The only complaint that Jai and I had was that the movie ran longer than it needed to – we felt that the plot could have been more concise. But to be fair, we feel like pretty much every movie we’ve seen in the last 10 years was too long!

The 3-D on the film is a lot of fun, although I think some of the smaller children can get tired of wearing the glasses after a while. The 5 1/2 year old that we brought seemed to enjoy the movie overall; but he did mention that the scene where Dean Hardscrabble (Mirren’s character) flies down from the ceiling gave him a start because he wasn’t expecting it. I know they worked hard to make this movie goofy and not scary, but if your kids are really small they might find Hardscrabble to be a little creepy in 3-D.

Monsters University opens today, June 21st – if you’re looking for a fun film to take the kids to this weekend, I recommend giving this one a look!

Travels Through Cody: Buffalo Bill Center of The West & Other Wyoming Adventures

My Wyoming Adventures!

Travel, lodging and other consideration courtesy Buffalo Bill Center of The West.

Last week, I had the pleasure of visiting Wyoming for the first time. My destination was Cody, the town which Buffalo Bill AKA William F. Cody helped to create. Buffalo Bill saw the potential this area offered as a tourist destination, and it is fascinating to see the sites that he developed still bringing in visitors in 2013. During my trip, I saw countless historical artifacts, stayed in the same hotel that Ernest Hemingway once visited, ate “Cowboy cuisine” and so much more. Here’s a brief recap of the adventures I had:

Buffalo Bull Center of The West

The Buffalo Bill Center of The West is a huge museum that houses everything from a rifle presented to Catherine the Great to paintings and sculptures by renowned western artists such as Charles Russell. The following is a just small sampling of what I experienced at the Center of The West.

  • Plains Indian Museum

Plains Indian Museum

The Plains Indian Museum features a wealth of history and artifacts. Their newest exhibit, the Dyck Collection, just opened this past Saturday and we had the privilege of seeing the collection before it was open to the public. Paul Dyck was an artist (You will notice some of his paintings in a separate exhibit below) and a private collector of Plains Indian artifacts, amassing a collection of important historical pieces. These are significant in part for their age, as these treasures date from the 1700s to the pre-1890s.

Paul Dyck Plains Indian Buffalo Culture Collection

  • Buffalo Bill Museum & Childhood Home

Buffalo Bill Boyhood Home

Of course, you will find a wealth of information relating to Buffalo Bill here! His childhood home can be found next to the Center’s sculpture garden – it was brought to Cody from its original location in Iowa in 1933 by rail. It was moved a total of four times before finding its current (and permanent!) location.

Holographic Buffalo Bill

Me posing with holographic Buffalo Bill!

My family has a small tie to Buffalo Bill – when my great-grandpa was a child, he saw Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show when they toured the UK. The Buffalo Bill Museum includes a large map of the world spanning a wall that shows all the places where Buffalo Bill traveled.

Holographic Buffalo Bill

  • Cody Firearms Museum

Teddy Roosevelt's Gun

The Cody Firearms Museum is home to a vast collection of historical guns, from firearms owned by presidents to experimental patent models. There are all sorts of curiosities here, including a Swiss army knife that has a revolver in it! I found this museum to be absolutely fascinating.

Swiss Army Gun

  • The Whitney Gallery of Western Art

The Whitney Gallery of Western Art

The Whitney Gallery boasts an array of western art pieces from the classic sculptures of Frederic Remington to the contemporary paintings of James Bama.

Paintings by Paul Dyck

  • Draper Natural History Museum

The Draper Museum

The Draper Natural History Museum gives visitors a look at the ecosystem of the Greater Yellowstone area, as well as conducting their own local research. The Draper also puts on a fantastic bird of prey show, the Greater Yellowstone Raptor Experience. The outdoor show gave us the chance to meet a great-horned owl, a turkey vulture, a golden eagle, a peregrine falcon and a red-tailed hawk. I love birds so I thoroughly enjoyed this show!

Teasdale the Great-Horned Owl

  • Plains Indian Museum Powwow

Plains Indian Museum Powwow - June 2013

The Plains Indian Museum Powwow is an annual event that took place from June 15th-16th this year. In addition to enjoying the wonderful dance and music, we were also able to pay a visit to the on-site Learning Tipi, where Lakota educator Gloria Goggles discussed Powwow history and traditions.

  • Shopping

Souvenirs

Powwow also features 40+ vendors booths with food, drinks, jewelry, art, and so much more. I spent about an hour looking through all the stalls and bought a beautiful necklace that matched the turquoise and brown dress I was wearing perfectly; I also bought several lovely bracelets to bring home as gifts.

I also picked up a few souvenirs at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center gift shop. Jai loves new socks, so I got him a fun pair to commemorate the trip, along with a cute tea towel for my dad.

Everything that I’ve shown you so far are just the activities that took place within the Buffalo Bill Center of The West – which, as you can see, is a lot! The following are other things that I experienced in Cody:

Cody Nite Rodeo

Cody Rodeo

The Cody Nite Rodeo has been taking place for 75 years, and is a uniquely American experience. I’m sure I looked like quite the city slicker making my way over the bleachers in my business suit! ;) For a little glimpse of the rodeo, check out this video I took during the event:

The Chamberlin Inn

My room at the Chamberlin Inn

I stayed at the Chamberlin Inn, a beautiful hotel that was founded in 1900. My room was charming and comfortable, with a very soft and cozy bed, coffee, and chocolates on my pillow. Ernest Hemingway stayed at this hotel in 1932, so I got a kick out of being a blogger working on my laptop in the same place where Hemingway finished writing “Death in the Afternoon”. ;)

Dining

Cassie's Supper Club

From a bordello converted into a restaurant to Buffalo Bill’s buffet, Cody is full of delicious eats housed in curious historic buildings. I wrote a detailed recap of the restaurants I visited over on my food blog.

I really enjoyed my visit to Cody and although I was there for three days, I feel like I only just began to see what the area has to offer. There are still things in the Buffalo Bill Historical Center that I didn’t see – it’s that big! – and I never made it to any of the stores in downtown Cody. Oh yeah, and I hear that there’s a little place called Yellowstone National Park nearby, too. ;) I was surprised by how much there is to do in Cody and I hope to return in the future so I can explore it further!

Skin Tight Lotion Review

Skin Tight

Thanks to Skin Energizer for providing samples for review purposes. This article is a recounting of my personal experience using this product – I am not a doctor (As I’m sure you can tell!) and this article is not intended to prevent or treat any condition.

I have really dry skin, so I go through a lot of lotion. I have to keep lotion on my hands all day, or they get very dry and parched, which is unpleasant; I also like to use overall body lotion, although I tend to forget to put it on. Recently, I received samples of Skin Tight Body Firming Lotion from SkinEnergizer.com, and it couldn’t have come at a better time, as I had just run out of my usual hand lotion.

Skin Tight comes in a long, tapered bottle that holds 8 ounces of lotion. It has a creamy, moisturizing consistency with a pleasant scent that is not overpowering. It works pretty well on my dry hands and makes a lovely all-over lotion as well. If you look around my house right now, you’ll notice a few bottles of this dotted around – one in the bathroom to use after the shower and one by my desk where I work, as I have to re-apply hand lotion throughout the day. The instructions recommend applying to targeted areas twice a day, but I’ve been putting it mostly on my hands.

As for the firming aspect, I don’t know – really, any areas of my body that need to be firmer are that way because they need more time at the gym to tone up, so that’s really not something a lotion can help with. Personally, I don’t believe any lotion can eliminate double chin. However, just as a stand-alone lotion, Skin Tight is moisturizing and smells good, so overall I’ve really been enjoying it.

Heading to Wyoming

I’m excited to announce that this week, I will be heading on a complimentary press trip to the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming on behalf of MomStart and this blog. I leave on June 13th and will return on June 15th – I’m excited for my first visit to the state and can’t wait to experience all of the history, culture and dining that the Buffalo Bill Center of the West has to offer. I’ll be sharing photos and updates during the trip on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, with a full recap when I return!

Have you ever visited Cody?

Welcome to Beeb-Log!

Hello and welcome to my new blog! You may already be familiar with some of my other sites, including Super Coupon Girl and Contest Corner. I launched this blog as a home for my photos, reviews, recipes, and life adventures; since Contest Corner has grown and expanded, I saw a need to re-focus its content so that readers there can focus on its great contest listings, giveaways and sweepstakes tutorials. I’m excited to introduce my new site to you – let me know what you think and what you’d like to see!