Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas Ice Storm

My last post was perhaps a bit more fortuitous than I had intended.  The letting things go and getting down on the floor to play with the children and focus on our blessings became something a large part of state was nudged to do as a large ice storm hit Michigan on the Saturday night before Christmas.  It began as icy rain and turned more frozen as the night progressed.  I'll admit that I did not take it as seriously as I should have and there were a few things I would have done to prepare for an outage had I paid more attention to the weather reports.  But my mind was on the things to finish before Christmas and enjoying the fact that I had some much needed time off work.  So I went to bed in a blissful state of unawareness while my husband worried a bit about the sounds of the ice beginning to form on the tree branches.  

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Holiday Spirit

Well best laid plans have been foiled once again by busy schedules, the never-ending list of things to complete for the holidays and the parade of invitations to do fun stuff! I have so many posts in my head to share with you (and I even got some pictures taken!) but just have not had the time to get them written.  So anticipating that time will be even shorter over the next week, I will wish you a very Merry Christmas right now and leave you with this.

I hope that you will embrace every moment and opportunity to celebrate life and fun with your loved ones and friends this holiday season.  Its not about the perfect gift so perfectly wrapped or the masses of rich foods - it is about the moments we share and the memories we gather during these special times.  

Do not lose yourself to your desire to make everything perfectly perfect - its a losing battle.  Instead, turn up the music, get a little messy, laugh off the clutter and piles of ripped wrapping paper.  Get down on the floor and play Star Wars Legos and race Hot Wheels with your small son who will not ask you to join in such play for too many more years.  Snuggle up with your daughter (even if she is getting as big as you and has a hard time sharing what is on her mind - particularly with mom and dad) and discuss what are her favorite parts of the holidays so that you can remember next year which traditions are the most meaningful to your children and help them carry on to your grandchildren.  Jump on the ice and take a spin around the rink with them.  Do not be afraid to show them that you fall down - be sure that you show them you can do it with laughter and keep trying even if it is in front of their whole team and all the hockey moms, dads and coaches are watching.  Those are the stories your children will tell in the coming years and they will remember the spirit, rather than the particular toys, or that the house was totally dust free (for about 30 seconds), or that every ornament was hung perfectly spaced on the tree.  Show them the spirit in you.

Many blessings are wished upon you and yours!  Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Spiced Candied Nuts

This is a re-post of a little snack recipe that is perfect this time of year.  
A tasty treat with a mug of coffee 
(or a beer like my hubby had with them last night!).
It also works well as a small gift for teachers, neighbors, or co-workers.
You can do a big batch of these in about 10 minutes 
(plus they make your house smell great!).
I packaged them into jelly jars after they cooled and tied with a pretty ribbon.
You can vary the type of nuts quite a bit if you like different kinds.

Monday, December 9, 2013

25 Easy Secret Santa Gifts

It's time for Secret Santa exchanges and maybe, like me, you tend to forget to plan ahead for those with everything else going on.  Here are 25 simple ideas that can be found in gas stations, checkout lanes, dollar stores and local businesses for $1-$5 and will only take you a few minutes.  If you need more ideas for simple gifts, check out my post 25 Small Gifts for Kids, Co-Workers or Friends.  Happy gifting! 

1.  Scratch-off lotto ticket
2.  Snack size bag of chips or snacks
3.  Hair accessories
4.  Mini LED keychain flashlight
5.  $5 coffee shop gift card
6.  Special teas or cocoa mixes
7.  Funky pens
8.  Candles/votive holders
9.  Car fresheners
10.  Pre-paid car wash
11.  Tin/dish full of candies
12.  Bath items (sponge, scrubber, body wash, bath salts)
13.  Scented hand lotion
14.  Nail polish
15.  Car buffing glove
16.  Decorative sticky notes
17.  Decorated wine glass/beer mug
18.  Fresh flowers
19.  Small plants (mini ferns, spider plants, and other small houseplants are easy to care for)
20.  Decorative garden items (LED lights, statues, etc.)
21.  Old-fashioned soda in glass bottles
22.  Specialty popcorn
23.  Small puzzles
24.  Specialty pastry from a local bakery
25.  Book by a favorite author

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Looking for Homemade Holiday Gifts Ideas?

If you are looking for ideas for homemade gifts, 
the Homemade Holiday Party hosted by Marilyn at 4 You With Love 
is a great place to look for ideas!
I'm linking up many of my homemade gift ideas and baked treats
that are perfect for sharing. 
The variety of items shared by others there includes
photo gifts, kitchen treats, decorating, advent calendars, 
sewing/knitting projects, wrapping ideas, and more!
Be sure to visit again over the weekend to vote for your favorite 10 projects!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

#GivingTuesday - America's Food Crisis

We are in the full swing of the holiday season and for many, that means time with family around a table piled high with food - gluttonous amounts of food.  What if you didn't have the means to put that food on the table?  What if it was a choice between feeding your children or keeping the heat going to keep them from freezing?  For a growing number of families right here in America, its a huge problem.  
How many frustrated moms and dads have told their picky eaters that there are starving children in Africa who would love to have that broccoli for dinner?  
Have you ever told them there are children at their school, in their class - maybe even a good friend - who go home every night and count the hours until they get the school-provided breakfast and lunch because it is all they get to eat for the day?  Have you ever told them there are children they know whose only food for the weekend is a backpack full of ready-to-consume snacks and foods provided by the local food bank that they share with their siblings and parents?

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Story of Christmas - The Goat

When people find out we have a goat, they are usually very curious to know why.  My husband always says he hasn't figured that out yet.  My son will say because Santa brought him - it was love at first sight.  My daughter will say because she asked Santa for a goat to keep her pony company because he was very lonely the winter after my old horse had to be put down - which is true.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Venison Recipe Roundup

Congrats to all you hunters who have bagged your deer!  Here's a roundup to help you make good use of that new stash of venison in the freezer.  All recipes contained in this roundup are ones I use for our venison - even if it says beef or ground beef in the recipe.  

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

November Storms = No Power

And he huffed, and he puffed...
and it sounded like the house was going to blow down...  

On Sunday, most of Lower Michigan was hit with tremendous wind storms that caused a lot of damaged and power outages across the state.  I had been in Frankenmuth for the day with the kids, my mom, my brother, my sister-in-law and two of my nieces.  If you have never been, Frankenmuth is a fun place to go and exactly the cure if you aren't in the holiday mood yet.  But I'll spare you the details on that since I promised no Christmas posts until after Thanksgiving (this was my one exception to the no Christmas festivities only because I couldn't get time to go after Thanksgiving).  

Friday, November 15, 2013

Happy Hunting

Happy first day of firearm deer season to all those Michiganders in the woods today!  I've already seen the success photos and can't wait to watch the news for the local buck poles tonight!  I guess you can tell this is a hunting-friendly post so if you are anti-hunting, you may want to stop right here - or you may want to consider another point of view.  This post also contains photos of weapons and animals who have been killed (though nothing gory).

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thanksgiving Recipe Roundup

I know, I know - this year there is so little time between Thanksgiving and Christmas and people just want to be ready for Christmas.  But so much about life is so rushed and hurried and we don't get the time to really enjoy it the way we would like.  I am determined to enjoy the celebration of Thanksgiving for as long as possible - especially in this year when there is so much to give thanks for!

I refuse to visit the Christmas area of the stores until after Thanksgiving.  I will not put up Christmas lights or decorations until after Thanksgiving.  I will not be starting any Christmas projects or gifts until after Thanksgiving.  And I will not be sharing any Christmas-related posts here until after Thanksgiving.  So if you want to live in the moment with me and enjoy Thanksgiving for a while, you are more than welcome to linger here in avoidance of all the Christmas-y posts, pins and tweets!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Project Sneak Peek

Part of the fun of moving to a bigger house is finding out that you need more furniture!  We now have a third bedroom, a second living room, and a bigger dining room.  Plus there is the stuff we are just tired of and wanting to replace or refinish to go with the new house.  One of the great bonuses of a mother who is a bit of an antique furniture hoarder (love you, Mom!) is that every once in a while she goes on a purging blitz and gets rid of some pretty cool stuff.  Result - score for me!  

As soon as the ink was dry on the house papers, my mom already started tagging certain pieces she thought would work well for us like this adorable desk/shelf combo that is just perfect for my daughter's new room (can't you just see it full of model horses and chapter books!).

Then there is the little coffee stand you can see on the right in this picture - it has a ceramic top that makes it the perfect drink stand and that's what I'll use it for in the kitchen.  Wait until you see how cute it is with a pop of color (its been many colors over its lifetime!).

The big hutch is a special story all its own - my mom and I rescued it at auction for a steal when I was a young teen.  It too has been several colors over the years and has its own personality.  Its a fairly plain hutch but is big on memories for my mom and I.  Its not finished yet but I am so excited to see how it turns out.  I have scraped away some of the more recent years of paint to reveal even more of its story and I can't wait to finish peeling it and show you what I found underneath.  I have some awesome milk paint from Bungalow47 that I think will make this the superstar it deserves to be.

This is the top to the hutch and, while we don't know if they originally went together, they work beautifully as a set.  This piece can either hang on the wall above the lower cabinet or sit directly on top of it.  It is the perfect home for my grandpa's mother's china that was given to me by a cousin for a moving-in gift!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

What Are Your Thanksgiving Must-Have's?

Ever since I was a kid one of my favorite dishes at Thanksgiving was the stuffing.  Its just not a regular at the table and my mom rarely ever did Stove Top at our house.  Her stuffing is loaded with different kinds of bread and lots of onions and celery.  She uses a deep crockery baking dish that makes for an extra crunchy crust on the outside and super moist center.  Its one of those dishes that gets even better on the 2nd or 3rd day and goes with everything.  

My other favorite has always been her yeast rolls.  Soft, pillowy rolls with just that hint of sour.  I am a little afraid to attempt them because she just has "the touch".  I'm also afraid of what they would do to my waistline if I knew how to make them myself!
My Aunt Ann has always brought her highly-requested fruit salad.  I brought it to my in-laws gathering one time and now I have been tagged by my mother-in-law to bring that to the family Thanksgiving (which is good with me because it makes a huge batch so we keep a little at home for a late-night snack!).

My brother always requests my grandma's pumpkin pie.  My favorite thing at my mother-in-law's is her kapusta - a traditional Polish dish with sauerkraut, salt pork and onions.  My step-dad's favorite part is the sandwiches made with the leftovers of everything.
I think my husband and kids would say the bacon and crispy skin on the turkey are their favorite parts.

So what are the dishes that are "must-have's" for your Thanksgiving this year?  I'd love to hear from you!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Cement and Family

You may remember my grandpa had a serious fall in June that really impacted our whole family.  We (largely the sisters) have had to pull together once again.  A large family full of strong women.  Not the easiest group to get lined up on the same page and agreeing on movement in the same direction.  But when crisis strikes you have a couple of choices - you pull together or you fall apart.  And with these women, well, the second choice really just isn't usually on the table anyways.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Zebra and Cheetah Cupcakes

I will admit that with everything else going on this year I just did not have the energy to tackle the unique birthday cakes that I love to make for my kids.  I wanted to for my daughter's zoo party because the possibilities were endless but there just was no time.  So when I saw these fun animal print cupcake wrappers with picks and then found Duff Goldman's zebra cake mix I was thrilled.  

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Davy Crockett Cookie Bars

Oh how I love to have something warm and scrumptious baking away in the oven on these chilly fall days.  I am often scouring my recipe collection for something I can make out of whatever is on hand.  I recently discovered these Davy Crockett Bars while searching for something sweet and rustic in a Bar Cookie Bonanza recipe booklet produced by Country Magazine (at the time of its printing in 1982 it was called Country EXTRA newspaper).  Many of my recipe books were passed on to me from women in my family and this one came from my grandmother.  I was partly drawn these cookie bars right off the bat because of the name - I was a big Davy Crockett fan after watching the Disney movie as a kid.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Safari Birthday Party

This is one of the most fun (and easy) parties we have had yet - planned around a huge adventure any girl (or boy!) would love.  My animal-loving daughter jumped at my suggestion that since we were in the middle of getting settled at the new house, perhaps a trip to the zoo with something smaller at home would be fun.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Things I Want to Teach My Daughter

Things I want to teach my daughter:

To take risks.
To get your hands dirty.
To not to be afraid to play with the big boys.
To have hope and compassion.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


There are those moments when you fear that the lessons you are trying to teach your children about life may not be sinking in.
Then there are those other moments when you learn from the rest of the world about how your child is teaching them.
You've read here before about bullying and my feelings about it - when it comes to kids and when it comes to adults.  You may have read the stories about bullying situations and my problems with the schools before.
My daughter knows first-hand how it feels to be on the receiving end.
Her school implemented Rachel's Challenge this year and my daughter has taken it very seriously.
When her teacher asked them to write an acrostic poem using the word CHARACTER, above is what she came up with.
Her teacher was impressed and wrote a commendation and sent her to the office to show the principal.
The next day I got a call from the assistant principal about how proud they were of her and how they were brainstorming ideas on what to do with it next.
My next project is to make a wall hanging with this on it - 
talk about words to live by...

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Country Crabapple Jelly

I just love discovering new things I can use on my own property.  I was mowing along the property line and discovered that hidden in the "wild" corner that we have been happy to turn over to the birds and bunnies, a crabapple tree sprung to life and was full of ripe fruit.  It took me back to the days of my aunt and I spending the summer riding our horses all over the county.  

One of our favorite spots was an abandoned gravel pit a few miles away on a sparsely populated dirt road.  It was one of those spots hidden between roads where, if you didn't know how to find its hidden little trail, you would never know it was there.  Because of the distance from my grandparents house, we often disappeared down there for the whole day - just coming home at dusk after all the big hills and valleys had been conquered.  Rarely did we prepare for the day with food but the tart little wild crabapples, black raspberries and sweet purple clover heads were just enough to keep us satisfied....

Friday, September 27, 2013

Can We Ladies Be Real with Each Other for a Minute?

Can we have a talk, dear ladies?  
I saw a few things this week about women having to defend the roles they have chosen in life that caught my attention and really kinda bothered me.  
Let me be the first to admit that sometimes I can be a little (or a lot) defensive of my roles in life as a woman.  Sometimes I say things about myself and I don't realize that other ladies take it to heart.  

I have seen so many posts from some women bloggers that I truly admire for their creativity, ingenuity and steadiness as they go about building lives around homesteading and focusing on their work inside their homes.  They possess traits and qualities that I really look up to and find inspirational.  

And so many times I have seen defensive posts from these same women who, while intending to convince their readers why they feel its important to do what they do, cast negative assumptions and broadly group people into the same sorts of categories they do not like.  

Monday, September 23, 2013

A Cheerful Treat to Start Fall!

I'm back!!  Life has just been very full lately and I have not had a chance to get my thoughts in writing lately.  I hope you have all been having a lovely start to fall.  Its certainly starting to feel like it around here with cooler temperatures, football, fuzzy critters and changing leaves.  We are finally settled in enough at the new house for me to get back to being creative in the kitchen so I have spent the last two Sundays baking nearly all day.  That is something I truly love - a Sunday with a house full of football cheering, snuggles and the smells of something tasty in the oven or simmering on the stove top all day!  I had a sweet tooth and decided to make some Rice Krispy treats but I wanted to do something special so I come up with these sweet little pumpkins and they were a hit!  My daughter has already asked that I make them for a class treat for Halloween - seeing as they were so fast and easy I am happy to oblige.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

We Will Never Forget

Reposting from last year because it feels the same today as it has for the past 12 years.

photo credit: Sister72 via photo pin cc

I was reminded today by a friend who was there, that we all experienced 9/11 a bit differently.  For her, it is not a day of honor but it is people that she knew, a tragedy that she survived, comrades that were lost.  Those people she honors and remembers every day.  The hoopla that surrounds the anniversary date stirs up harsh unwanted memories.

For me, it was a knot in the pit of my stomach that grew as the day progressed.  I remember being at work when the first plane hit and racing to turn on televisions and pull up news feeds online.  Then, as we watched live, the second plane hit and we were all sent home.  After checking in with my husband and mom, I raced home to sit glued to the TV as the news continued to pour in about the plane at the Pentagon and the on in Pennsylvania.  My friend was in the Pentagon.  I sat for hours with the phone in my hand awaiting a call from my friend's mother telling me that she was OK.  As the news grew more and more frantic and gruesome and reports on the terror attacks became more defined, the implications for my brother began to set in.  He was a Marine sitting at Camp Pendleton just a few months after finishing boot camp.  I was terrified about what this might mean for him.  I felt powerless to do anything for any of them beyond praying.  

Then the images and messages of support around the country began to play.  Everyone I knew did every patriotic thing we could possibly think of.  Every flag in the area was put proudly and defiantly on display.  Everyone asked people around them if there was anything they could do to help them.  Yellow ribbons and red shirt Friday's appeared.  Songs of strength and pride began to play on the radio.  And it made me feel even more pride in this country and her people.  

No matter what your feelings about this day, whether you were there at one of the sites or home praying for those who were, remember that it is tragedy that brings us together and makes us stronger and emotions that make us human.  Honor those who were lost, honor your country, your community, your neighbor, your friends, your family in your own way and treasure every moment you have together.  God Bless America!

Monday, September 9, 2013

10 Things You Take For Granted Growing Up In Michigan

The Landmarks - Michigan is full of beautiful places and vacation spots that people come from all over the world to see.  When you grow up hitting Mackinaw Island every summer and crossing the majestic Mackinaw Bridge a couple times a year, its easy to become blase about these glorious sights.
The Water - there is water everywhere around here.  My brother commented often when he went to Twentynine Palms and then Iraq while in the Marines about how much he missed the water.  We have not just water but fresh water - some of the most beautiful lakes, rivers, waterfalls, streams, ponds anywhere.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Farmers Market Friday - Big and Small

Welcome back to Farmers Market Friday!  
After a couple of weeks focused on the house I finally have some more farmers market finds to share with you.  
This is the perfect time to hit your local farmers markets - big and small.  
The summer produce is a little behind here in Michigan this year due to the wetter, cooler summer but goodies like tomatoes, squash and peppers are coming out in force.  
Its the tail end of sweet corn, peaches and blueberries so if you see some, grab them now.
Roadside tables and stands are popping up with extra garden goodies all over the place.  
Many times folks with extra garden produce will only be asking a pittance for these awesomely fresh and tasty morsels - 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

How I Do It All - A Confession

Sometimes people ask how I do it all.  Here's the answer.

I don't.
I fail.

I am usually washing pots and pans before I can start cooking the next meal.  

My daughter reminded me halfway to school that I have not packed silverware in her lunch all week even though it has contained things like fruit cups and yogurt.  
While work paperwork is neatly organized and I have a whiteboard I use as a project manager, paperwork at home tends to be in piles or might ride around in my shoulder bag for 3 months until it gets too heavy to carry around.

Thursday, August 22, 2013


Hello sweet friends!  I have so much to tell you and show you but have not had a free hand to take pictures and type it all up for you yet.  

Exciting news is that the house is COMPLETE (well, as complete as any house ever gets) and it is beautiful.  Carpet was laid yesterday and it was totally the icing on the cake, the topper on the wedding cake, the cherry on the sundae and more!  

I've got a kitchen backsplash to show you, you haven't seen the new floor in the fireplace room, there is an awesome hand-painted mural of Jimmy Howard (you Red Wings fans will drool!) that my brother is working on, the carpet, a hutch with a great back story that I'm working on refinishing, window coverings, and much more ground to cover.  

I've been tackling sorting one area at a time with the mindset that if I don't love it, use it, wear it, or its broken - out the door you go.  Which feels great but takes time and results in the old house filled with piles of stuff waiting to be able to move to the new house or haul away.  

We expect to finish moving by Labor Day so you may not hear a lot from me until after that but expect a blitz of posts once we are done!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Closet Door Becomes Hockey Lockers

If you will just indulge me with a mommy story as to why I even did this project...  You see, my little boy is totally obsessed with hockey - how that happened from birth I have no idea.  This is a kid who at the age of 3 months was laying on the floor actively watching the Stanley Cup Playoffs , "Goal!" may have been among his first words, by the time he could walk was trying to copy the moves the hockey players made and chanted "Let's Go Red Wings!", and when he was 2, he took the white press-board cover off his car table (the kind with the roads built in) and laid it on the floor and proceeded to "skate" in his socks...  

Monday, August 12, 2013

New House Update and Ceiling Fan Makeover

We've been pounding away at the new house and with the major projects out of the way we have been working on some of the finishing touches while we wait for new carpet to be installed.  One of the rooms that needed the least amount of work was my daughter's room.  She had floors in good shape and the walls didn't need much patching.  The trim had also been redone and just needed a gloss coat.
She was not thrilled with my "boring" colors in the rest of the house and went for a bold bright pink called "Sweet Sixteen" (big surprise, right?) for her own room.  

Monday, August 5, 2013

Farmers Market Friday on Monday! Who are the Vendors?

Did you miss Farmers Market Friday last week?  Well, the USDA is celebrating National Farmers Market Week all week long so you'll probably see lots about farmers markets around the country this week.  If you are looking for a market near you, the USDA has a list of over 8,000 farm markets across the country in their searchable directory.  The directory even contains information on what products are offered and what types of payment are accepted.

So who are the vendors at your local farmer's market?

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Turn an Old Trunk into a Cute Side Table

This great little trunk was something I found at a garage sale a few years ago for I think $2 and just couldn't resist.  It had already been painted a very pale yellow but was generally in good shape so I had high hopes for it.  I started painting it a pale green but got distracted and never got back to finishing - spray paint is becoming my new best friend!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Chicken Garlic Parmesan Pizza

That thing about my husband loving Buffalo Wild Wings?  Did I mention my 4-year-old son loves it too because there is always at least one TV playing hockey and there is a Red Wings jersey on the wall of our local one - oh yeah, and they have mac-n-cheese, so, of course...  They always order the same foods but I love to order different things much of the time and try to come up with copycat recipes I can make at home - BW3 makes that easier because they sell bottles of the sauce to take home.  Well, last time we were there I tried the Garlic Parmesan Flatbread Pizza and everyone else ended up eating it with me because it looked and smelled so great.  So we grabbed another bottle of sauce for the road and I thought I'd try making a similar version at home.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Peeks of the Weekend Action

Just in case you think the slow-down on posting means we're resting on our laurels around here, a little photographic evidence to the contrary!  While this would be a lovely little spot to curl up and hide (as the kids often do), I have not had time for more than a momentary perch on these lovely cushions I found on clearance this weekend for less than I could buy one deep seat cushion.  

Friday, July 26, 2013

Farmers Market Friday - Farmers Market Blogs

Welcome to Farmer's Market Friday!  Today I have a roundup of 20 great farmer's markets with blogs of their own.  Fun pictures, basic info on hours and locations, features on vendors and recipes and tips on how to use the goodies you can find there - take a peek and be sure to visit if you are in the area!