Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Please Respect Veterans When Using Fireworks

While you celebrate this
photo credit: sunsurfr via photopin cc

Don't forget about this
photo credit: via photopin cc

Growing up, the pyrotechnics at our family gatherings were something we all looked forward to and there are many funny stories - well, funny because no one got really hurt.  Like the time we were sitting on the bed of the old farm truck watching from afar when the container launching bottle rockets fell over and shot them straight under the truck - never saw all us kids empty out of the truck so fast.  And the time one of those little spinner bee firecrackers took off and zipped right up great-grandma's leg and up her skirt...

Fast forward a few years.  Through my brother training with the local recruiters his senior year in high school, through boot camp, a deployment to Okinawa, 9/11, deployment to Kuwait to await the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom, several months of combat during the launch of the ground assault in Iraq.

photo credit: TraumaAndDissociation via photopin cc

My brother was on his way back from Iraq on what happened to be the week of July 4th and was granted immediate leave instead of going through a decompression time on base.  Well-intentioned family and friends had planned a big gathering and even made a special trip for some of the "big" fireworks.  It was torture for him trying not to react and pretending to enjoy the display while secretly fighting the urge to hit the deck.  No one seemed to understand why the boy who always had loved fireworks was now a man who was trying to talk them into not doing them.  

From the sister of a combat veteran, please try to respect local veterans when shooting your fireworks this holiday.  Limit your fireworks to the 4th or let veterans who live near you know when you do plan on doing them so they can prepare themselves if they need to.

Wishing you all a very Happy 4th of July!
Remember Freedom Isn't Free!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Summer Party Recipe Roundup

Are you still looking for goodies to impress your 4th of July crowd?  I've rounded up a few tasty recipes sure to be a hit whether you are feeding your own family, hosting a party or need a fabulous potluck dish.

Dip the rim in a mix of white sugar, red and blue decorator sugars!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Hockey Memory Jar for Boys

My son loves a project and loves to be a helper - he's 5 so I don't expect that to last more than a couple more years but I am taking advantage while I can.  He was all excited about doing a memory jar and came up with the idea of doing a hockey jar (big surprise right...not...).  He had a little plastic hockey figure that was originally a cake decoration that he played with after the birthday.  This little figure had broken off his base so he didn't stand up on his own anymore and he had lost his stick.  But that's no reason to discard a hockey player in our house.  So he had been floating around the bottom of the toy box for a while but my son knew right where to find him.  
We also had one of those small salt dough projects my son made at school that he had stamped his initial into and painted blue.  The edges were starting to crumble but art projects are also something we have a hard time parting ways with so we decided to use this as the "ice" for the hockey guy to skate on.  We started with some white sand in the bottom of the jar and a few blue decorator glass beads - the kind that you add to floral vases.  Then we put his dried blue salt dough piece on top, added a couple of fancy toothpicks and a little H candle (his initial) leftover from a set of birthday candles for some vertical interest, placed the hockey guy to look like he is skating, and added a little black button "puck".  
He also added some Detroit Red Wings stickers to the outside of the jar.  We put a lid on top to ensure if this gets tipped over in his room it won't be a mess.  He is thrilled and it makes a cute decoration on his dresser to add to his hockey bedroom theme.  

To see the fairy jar his sister made, visit here.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Farmers Market Fridays Are Back!

Happy Friday!  Summer is here and so are the local farm markets so I'm bringing back Farmers Market Fridays.  I hope to have a farm market, recipes using products from farm markets or tips on making the most of your farm market buys each Friday through the summer.  
I was so happy to learn that finding farm markets here in Michigan has gotten much easier thanks to groups like the Michigan Farmers Market Association - they have an awesome search directory!  Some state and federal websites have also gotten in on the act like the Pure Michigan site and this national directory through the USDA.  Many food assistance programs have been working to partner with local producers to increase access to fresh food for low income citizens - listings often include whether they are able to accept WIC or EBT payment.
We hit our first local farm market of the season last weekend and while I totally neglected to take pictures of our haul, here's what I got for $20:

1 bag dried homemade egg noodles
2 large muffins - blueberry & a cranberry/orange
2 dozen assorted colors of eggs
1 small loaf lemon poppy seed bread
1 dozen peanut butter cookies
2 locally made chap sticks
1 glycerin soap with a small floating fish (my little guy just had to have it for his baths)
1 bag mixed herb seasoning (snack sized baggie)
1 bag celery seed (snack sized baggie)

Its still too early for more local garden produce here but there was chard, onions and strawberries to be found, as well as honey, maple syrup, fresh floral arrangements and a variety of baked goods and snacks.  A few folks were also there with handmade crafts like bracelets and hand towels.

What are you finding at your local farm markets so far this summer?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Fairies: Recreate the Land of Lost Things

Children love "found things".  
Every small object found on a sidewalk or on the floor of the bus 
or in the parking lot of the daycare has great potential.  
My daughter has a grand collection of the "lost things" 
she has found over the years 
and finds it very difficult to part ways with any of them.  

In my Pinterest perusals 
I discovered creative folks making these very sweet "memory jars" 

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Hockey Mural

When we renovated our new house, we had some concerns about helping the kids feel settled and helping them feel involved in the process.  They had always shared a bedroom in our old house and over time it became a mish-mash of decorations and stuff.  Because my son loves playing mini stick hockey so much, it was important to me to set up his room in a way that he and his friends (or daddy) would be able to play hockey in there and I wanted to make hockey a part of the room overall, not just more stuff in the room.  I commissioned my brother (who also plays hockey) to paint a life-sized mural one wall.  

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Throwback Thursday

One of my favorite pictures of myself - with my beautiful Arabian gelding, Sam.  This was one of my senior pictures.  At the time, my aunt lived in what is now our "old" house, right next to our new house, and the photographer lived across the street.  My aunt was able to stable my horse at her house for a few days and bring him across the street just for these pictures when we were ready.  You can't tell because the photographer touched it out of the picture, but I actually have a fresh 3-inch scar on my chin that day that Sam gave me when he accidentally kicked me on a trip out west just two weeks before this.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Inside the Farmer

A year ago my grandfather fell 15 feet off a ladder onto a concrete pad 
while working on the big doors of his shop.  
His injuries were very serious and the prognosis was full of a lot of maybe's and lengthy steps to attempt to rehabilitate.  
You may have seen my past posts about his accident and recovery.  
That's him with my little brother and I in the photo above - 
you can probably guess about when by the truck in the background!

Today, blogger Chris Chinn shared her thoughts on that inside part of farming, 
that look in the eye - determination, strength, hope, eternal optimism. 
The video linked up at the end of Chris' post says it all.  
It could have been my grandpa and his daughters and grandchildren in that video. 
 The voice of the farmer's son speaking about that phone call - we know that feeling.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

You Know You're a Hockey Mom When...

Well he might only be 5 but it seems like my son has already been playing hockey forever.  And we are now fully immersed in hockey life as a family.  My daughter still enjoys playing at puck 'n' stick sessions but has decided that the intense schedule hockey requires would prevent her from pursuing other interests and be too much stress with her schoolwork - I'm proud of the maturity that decision shows.  But my son is totally obsessed with hockey in any form - that whole eat, sleep, play hockey saying - its no joke for him.  Even when we aren't at the rink, hockey seems to be present in some form.  I've heard many other hockey parents over the years that my brother has played talk about the unique life of a hockey family.  

So to all those hockey moms and dads (and siblings too) - here's an ode to you...

You Know You're a Hockey Mom When...