Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Michigan Wine Tour and Other Birthday Weekend Fun

I had grand plans to do a post all on the wine tour - then we got to Round Barn Winery and tasted the first 4 wines, a martini and had a beer on the patio and I forgot to take pictures of the rest.  Guess that's the sign of a good time, huh? LOL.  So I thought I'd share all the special moments from my birthday weekend.

First, my sweet husband happened to be on the road for work on Friday and came to take me to lunch - are rare occurrence since he works an hour away.  Then these lovely roses were delivered from Jon Anthony Florists - if you are in the mid-Michigan area and need flowers - let me just say they always have the most perfect, fragrant and long-lasting roses.  Plus the elderly gentleman who delivers is very sweet and funny and a helpless flirt - a man who truly is doing a job you can tell he loves.

Then, it had rained and on our way home from the daycare and grocery shopping, the kids and I spotted this beautiful rainbow.

On Saturday, the kids were bundled off to Grandma's for an overnight while my handsome hubster and I met up with our high school friend for a road trip to tour some of our favorite wineries down in the Berrien Springs area.  The weather could not have been more perfect - not a cloud in the sky and a breezy 83 degrees.  Our first stop was St. Julian's tasting room and bottling plant in Paw Paw.  St. Julian's is known for both their wines and non-alcoholic sparkling juices.  They have a lovely tasting room that also features samples of their bread dipping sauces and other goodies.  They also have a banquet room that features a collection of vintage motorcycles, boat motors and other collectibles.  They do offer tours of the bottling plant as well but we decided to hit that another day.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Christmas the Goat aka Chris

I get asked a lot about why we have a goat and what we think about having a goat.  Personally, I love the goat.  My husband - well, he's still not sure what he thinks about it - although he appreciates the fact the I can picket the goat pretty much anywhere and he will eat whatever weeds are in sight so my husband has not had to weed whip since we got him.  The kids find the goat very funny.  

The goat was named Christmas by the kids because he was a gift Santa left in our barn a couple of Christmas' ago.  Yes, Santa really does visit and leave presents like a live goat in the barn on Christmas morning around here so be careful what you put on your wish list.  To protect Santa's privacy, I can't divulge on here exactly how he made that happen but if you are really dying to know send me an email and I'll fill you in - there are some funny side stories there.  :)  

At the time, we didn't have any big horses because my old man had to be put down the winter before.  The pony was growing very lonely and we had talked about how mommy's heart just wasn't ready to find another big horse to bond with just yet but maybe we needed a companion to cheer up our lonely little pony.  So the Princess had been reading horse stories and fact books and learned that many racehorses had goats for companions.  She added a goat to her list for Santa - actually, she very sweetly put the goat at the top of the list and asked Santa if he could bring a goat as a present for her pony and promised to take good care of it and love it too.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Photo Challenge - Yellow

Linking up here!

Manic Mother
Here are three pictures of some of my favorite yellow things:

One of my gorgeous yellow lilies!
Tasty little lemon cookies!
Look for the recipe here: http://www.aprilscountrylife.blogspot.com/2012/06/citrus-bars.html
Yellow makes me think of my Skidoo!

Pallet Garden Update, Lilies and Grill Goodies

Apparently, the tomatoes love being planted in the pallets.  These are the best tomatoes I've had yet.  And not a worm in sight so far (crossing fingers).  The peppers and squash seem to be doing very well too with the first zucchini starting to form.  Cucumbers have a nice little chain of flowers.  The Brussels sprouts and kale are doing well but the beetles or something keep eating the leaves so I might have to soap spray them.  Overall this is a very neat and tidy way to veggie garden - not a weed in site and watering is a breeze!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Homemade Mocha Frappe

I love a mocha frappe for an afternoon pick-me-up when I'm running errands.  Its been so hot that I decided to make this with my leftover coffee from the morning's pot.  Quick, easy, and super tasty!

2 cups coffee, cooled
1/2 cup milk
1 tray ice cubes
chocolate syrup (not even gonna pretend to give you an amount on this - just add it until it tastes good!)
chocolate whipped cream

Blend the first three together until smooth.  Drizzle a good amount of chocolate syrup in there and give it another whirl.  Taste and add more chocolate syrup if you need it.  :)  Drizzle the edges of your glasses with chocolate syrup so it looks all pretty.  Add your frappe and top with a generous amount of chocolate whipped cream.  Makes 3-4 big glasses of frappe.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A little favor to ask - and a fun little fairy tree!

I know we haven't known each other all that long but you all are so sweet and helpful I thought I'd ask for just a teeny tiny little favor.  I would just love to reach 50 GFC followers and 150 Twitter followers by my birthday this weekend.  So could you please, pretty please, with sugar on top...put the word out to your peeps about my little blog?  I'm also now on Tumblr (haven't found a button to add here for that yet), Pinterest and Google+.  And there are buttons for Linky Followers, RSS feed subscribe and email subscribe.
If you are a lurker who has the page bookmarked, thank you so much for coming back - did you know there is an easier way to follow blogs you like and know when fresh content has been posted?  If you aren't active in other social media accounts like Twitter, you can get updates right in your email inbox through email subscribe and RSS feed subscriptions.  This will save you all that time coming back to blogs to check and see #1 if there is new content and #2 if the new content is relevant to you on that day.  Hint, hint - following in any of the above mentioned ways also helps bloggers know how many folks are really visiting and returning (as in, continue to find my content valuable and interesting!) and it helps build the credibility of the blog to other readers.

So enough begging for now and on to the fun stuff!  :)  You may know how much my daughter and I have gotten into the "fairy garden" thing.  If you haven't seen the tour of our fairy garden and the pictures from our annual fairy day trip, be sure to take a look.  Several years ago we made a fairy tree craft at the fairy day event at Heavenly Scent Herb Farm and it was so much fun we have talked about making others ever since.  

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Save it for the Girlfriends Mac'n'Cheese

This, my friends, is called "Save it for the Girlfriends" macaroni and cheese...

As in, this is not your "from a box" mac'n'cheese that your children beg for every night.  In fact, I'm going to tell you right now - do not make this for your kids and hubby.  Don't do it, I'm trying to save you here.  This is not the kind of mac'n'cheese they expect or will appreciate.  You know, there are just some things you save for the girlfriends.  Like those cutesy Sandra Lee table-scapes.  And asking how your new haircut looks.  And Oprah reruns.

Your husband and kids will look at it and say "What are those black thingys?" with a wrinkled little nose and "I don't like the crumbly stuff...blech."  And then you will once again wonder why, oh why, did you waste your evening trying to glorify mac'n'cheese when you could have spent 10 minutes and $1 making it from the box and they would have eaten it happily instead of sneaking peanut butter crackers and yogurt...

Monday, July 23, 2012

Lots Going On Around Here!

Good morning, all!  Welcome and thank you to all my new followers and visitors - and to those who are sticking with me.  :)  Lots of lovely friends - if you have left me a comment or followed me I have visited your site and followed you.  I've been trying to make the rounds to all the fun linky parties - whew, who knew there were so many!

Here's a sneak peek at fun and yummy things I'll be blogging about this week:

The dudes needed haircuts badly so my sweet girl and I had some girl time Saturday morning to hit the farmer's market and get our errand-running done.  We scored a very nice haul and made a deal for some work at home in exchange for the handmade bracelets she wanted.

My hubby decided it was a good time to tear apart his snowmobile for some summer maintenance.

Here's mine - ah, love my "helmet time".  Just me, myself, and I in there for as long as we are on the trails.  :)

We grilled out and had an early little bonfire complete with smores...and ended up in a water fight after dear daughter dropped the hose right on its handle and it sprayed daddy and I...good times.

My folks had gone to a huge hockey equipment sale with JD to see what deals they could score and came back with new skates, gloves and real hockey shorts for Little Man.  He was sooo excited and they wanted to see his reaction so we went over Sunday afternoon to check out the goodies.  My step-dad and hubby tackled repairing the axle on our snowmobile trailer (it broke on hubby's way home from the last ride of the season this year).  So they worked in the shop while JD got Little Man all fitted into his equipment.  Once the excitement wore off Little Man crawled up on my lap and passed out for over an hour.  I had a lot of fun watching my brother help my son get everything adjusted just perfectly and Little Man loved trying it all on.  Now the test will be tomorrow night to see if he can actually skate with the padded pants on, hahaha.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

One Roast Chicken - Many Meals - Part #1

In case you missed it the first time around, here is the guest post I did over at Michelle's Tasty Creations.
Hello!  I'm April and I am soooo excited and honored that Michelle has given me the opportunity to do my first ever guest post.  I started my blog just a few months ago and Michelle has been such an encouragement and inspiration from the beginning - I can see why you all love her so much.  I am mom of two awesomely funny, brilliant and loving kids (I know we all say that, right? OK, so while that is true they love animals, hockey, crafts, rough-housing with their dad and currently, smart-mouthing).  My daughter is my mini-me and my son is a small total guy already.  My husband and I are your not-so-typical-anymore high-school sweethearts and he is my perfect balance and compliment.  We have two handfuls of critters running around the mix and we both work full-time.  I'm probably a contradiction to myself most of the time because I like a little bit of everything and while I am a total Type-A, I usually have way too much going on to stop running in circles.  I started my blog to meet friends like you and I hope you'll become a regular visiting with me there!

Frugal, cheap, penny-pincher...whatever you like...I'm not offended.  When times were good those were bad words and everyone steered clear of them.  Since the crash of the housing market and the recessions began, those words and things like re-purposing and up-cycling have become all the rage.  

Growing up in a small farming community, we always did things the frugal way.  My great-grandparents lived through the Great Depression and never lived in excess.  My grandparents got married and had babies young and bought their farm and saw up years and down years and never knew what kind of year it would be.  They had 5 girls to provide for.  Food was precious - much of it was grown right there.  My mom was the oldest of her sisters so she had had the job of making most of the meals while Grandma and Grandpa were out in the fields and had learned how to stretch basic ingredients to satisfy growing kids.

Friday, July 20, 2012

This Is How I See Summer - Photo Challenge Link Party

I'm taking part in the This is How I See Summer - Photo Challenge Link Party...come see all the great photos and meet some new friends.  Here are three views that say summer in the country to me!

Teaching Stranger Danger

Do you find it hard to talk with your kids about stranger danger?  Do you wonder if they get it or if after years of reminding them they are blowing you off?

Natalie Morales is one of my favorite reporters and she did a special on stranger danger that I watched with my daughter.  By the end of the show, both kids were very somber curled up on my lap (yeah, not easy when she's almost as big as I am!) and I was in tears.  So was Natalie Morales as she asked her son "Why? Why did you get in that ice cream truck?".  Gut-wrenching mommy moment.  You could feel what she was feeling in that moment - she was so sure he knew what to do - and he did - but for a crucial moment the "coolness" factor took over and he put himself in a situation that would have been terrible if it hadn't been staged actors posing as the strangers.  Kudos to Natalie for putting herself out there so we (and our kids) can learn from it.  Here she is talking with Anderson Cooper about what that experience was like for her.

We had an excellent conversation about it and even my son, who I sometimes forget is big enough to understand these things, reviewed the rights and wrongs.  We watched that episode when it first aired and he mentioned it the other day when we were headed to a crowded event and I reminded him that he needed to stay with me "a'cuz there might be bad people who want to take me away from you and daddy and sissy and won't bring me back like on that show what we watched with the kids and you were crying, Momma!"

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Polish Pierogi & Sausage

Oh how I wish I could give you the recipe of how to make these!  But I have yet to perfect them.  You see, this is one of those simple but magical foods you have to have the touch to make properly.  Otherwise they taste like paste or rocks...  Real pierogies or pyrohy - or as I have heard it pronounced with a roll of the tongue "ped-o-he" - yes, its one of those things I try not to say in public like Worcestershire...

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Will the Drought Alter Your Menu or Grocery Shopping?

The drought stretching across more than half the country has been headlining all over.  Now, the true costs are starting to sink in.  If we don't get substantial rain in the next couple of weeks, the chain of events will continue to steamroll.  Poor crop yield for things like corn affect more than most of us think.

Let's start with how livestock will be effected.  Livestock that typically is feeding on fresh grass this time of year, which costs pretty much nil, are already being fed the generous amount of hay that was put up this spring.  Hay that was being counted on to feed them this winter after the grass stopped growing.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Breakfast Burritos

If there is one thing my family seems to look forward to on the weekend it is a big breakfast.  My husband and I are not big breakfast eaters during the week and the kids usually eat theirs at daycare.  So Sunday mornings are usually a nice homemade breakfast.  

But I don't always feel like putting out a big spread and sometimes I haven't even been to the grocery store yet so one of my favorite fall backs is breakfast burritos. I pretty much always stock eggs, tortillas, shredded cheese so that part is easy. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Weekend Wrap-Up

Good morning!  Lots of good stuff happened over the weekend.  First, my first ever guest post over at Michelle's Tasty Creations.  I tried to make it extra special by doing a multi-recipe, budget-friendly post that I hope appeals to a variety of folks.  I took a single deli roast chicken and showed how you can break it down and make multiple creative but easy meals - would you believe 3 family dinners and 2 work lunches out of one $8 chicken?!  Part 2 posted here yesterday showing the final recipe and how to make a wonderful, low sodium chicken broth that you can continue to use in the rest of the recipe or freeze as it is in 2 cup containers for future use.  I hope you'll check it out!

Secondly, after 3 weeks of attempting to go kayaking and interference from the weather, we finally took the kids on their first kayaking trip - it was a great trip!  The kids both did awesome - Little Man helped me in the two-person kayak and the Princess navigated on her own like a seasoned pro.  Not one fuss or whine or bit of nervousness out of them.  They really loved it and enjoyed seeing the nature along the riverbanks as well.  Besides the usual birds, fish, and turtles, we had a blue heron linger nearby while we got a great closeup view of him and a deer who was unfazed as the Princess tried to paddle up to get a look - she says he was a buck - he disappeared before we got close enough to tell.  Of course, it wouldn't be a trip with us without a bit of a fiasco...

Sunday, July 15, 2012

One Roast Chicken - Many Meals - Part #2

Hello friends and welcome back!  If you missed yesterday's guest post over at Michelle's Tasty Creations, please go check it out here.  It will make today's post make a lot more sense, haha!

Making Stock

So, we left off yesterday with your carcass.  Now I've shown you recipes for multiple days but on the carcass, you are still on day one after you've stripped the "good" meat off the bones.

In a large pot, toss in about 1/2 cup of chopped carrots, 2 chopped celery stalks (including the leaves), 1 chopped onion and drizzle with a little olive oil.  Saute until the veggies start to soften and there is nice caramelization (spell-check says this is not a word but Food Network stars use it all the time so I'm going for it).

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Another First - A Guest Post!

I am thrilled to be doing my first guest post today over at Michelle's Tasty Creations today!  Be sure to check out my "One Roast Chicken - Multiple Meals" post there for more on how to turn a single $8 deli chicken into 4 tasty but simple meals and then check back here for one more meal you'll get out of that same single chicken! Those of you with a bunch of hungry mouths to feed on a budget will especially love it! And be sure to look around Michelle's site for her awesome recipes and crafts too! Have a great weekend!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Summer Weekend Fun - Neverland Party

Well I don't know about you, but I have had just about enough of this week already...  Not one night all week has been "normal".  But tomorrow I am kissing it all goodbye for the day!  We are so excited to take the kids on their first ever kayaking trip on the beautiful and pristine Muskegon River.  We had planned this trip a few weeks ago but then it was way too hot to have the kids out in the sun where we couldn't escape if they got overheated and then it was supposed to thunderstorm.  So they have been geared up for 3 weeks to go - I'm sure everyone will be bouncing out of bed early in the morning.  

If you are looking for something fun to do on a summer weekend, you might take a look at this awesome "Neverland" party we had for my daughter's birthday a couple years ago.