Friday, September 26, 2014

Binder Park Zoo Trip

We are lucky to have great zoos of all sizes in Michigan.  One of my favorites is Binder Park Zoo in Battle Creek.  I've been to this zoo several times and it never disappoints.  My children's schools and daycare usually take annual field trips so I try to make that one of the field trips I take with them.  
On this field trip, we started out with a special up close viewing of a few small creatures - the hedgehog...

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Where does the time go?

The past month has flown by and here is a little of the insanity that has been keeping me distracted...  First, there was the start of school...including the usual round of appointments that go with lining up all the paperwork and health appointments, yadda yadda.
Then there was this whole birthday deal which involved glamping - yes, that is a birthday invite shaped like a tent.  And yes, I will be sharing much more about this easy little invite and the rest of the party.  Just not going to promise when...

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Happy Birthday to My Baby Girl!


It's amazing how fast life moves.

Really, it feels like just a blink sometimes.  

One day not so long ago, we were going through the roller-coaster of emotions of trying to get pregnant.  

Friday, August 29, 2014

Farmers Market Friday

Happy Friday!  It has been a really long couple of weeks around here so I am so eager for the long weekend at home.  Of course, the project list is a mile long but I have been distracted with the mission of putting up all the seasonal goodies that are abundant (and free or close to it!) this time of year.  

Tomorrow the kids have requested to hit the local blueberry patch one last time so we can freeze a batch of those.  Our generous neighbor (of whose gardening skills I am horribly jealous) has been sharing sweet corn, tomatoes, zucchini, summer squash, and the most beautiful cabbage.  

This past week my grandma brought me sweet corn after putting up 16 quarts herself.  She brought me enough to fill an entire rubbermaid tub...  I groaned because I didn't really have time to go through all the steps to can it but I couldn't bring myself to turn it down.  Thankfully, as the kids and I were shucking, I remember the FoodSaver my mom bought me for Christmas (Mom to the rescue again!).  That thing allowed me to get it all processed in just a couple of hours.  No pictures though - no time for that!
The variety of farm market goods is also starting to expand and prices tend to go down a bit as the produce is more available and more people at the same market are offering it.  We were able to get this great haul for a grand total of $11!  Here's how it works out:

1 quart green beans .50
4 candy onions $1
3 red onions $1
1 sandwich bag snap peas $1
1 sandwich bag orange cherry tomatoes $1
1 orange tomato .50
2 green peppers $1
1 handful Kale $2
1 large quart tomatoes - red & 1 heirloom $2
2 rubberband bracelets $1 (These were being made by a young man about 7 years old and he displayed them very cutely on toilet paper and paper towel rolls.  I had to support a young entrepreneur and I had my 5 year old purchase them himself - both boys were quite proud of themselves.) 

Monday, August 25, 2014

My Baby is Moving On

 Today, this little guy graduates preschool.
With a lot more hair,
a pair of dimples that only come out when he gives his most charming grin,
and an awesome sense of humor.

Friday, August 22, 2014

All Dogs Go to Heaven

RIP Apollo
October 2002 - August 18, 2014

On Monday we laid to rest our friend.  
Our guardian.  
A king.  
A giver of kisses and receiver of hugs and tears.  
A lion who defended his family.  
One of our first babies before our human babies.
A silly goof and cuddle buddy.  
The best babysitter.  
Our tears are not yet dried.  
We still look for him everywhere and listen for his ever-present panting.  
My children have never known life without him.  
His sister mourns him with us and has been sticking very close. 
 Her sweetness and snuggles help.
We know that he is at peace and healed.
Our daughter has said he is helping Peter guard the Golden Gates.
I have no doubt.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Farmers Market Friday

Here in Michigan, this is the best time to start hitting the farmers markets.  
Nearly every community has one and there is the widest array of ripe produce available at this time.  

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Trying to Re-Balance

Part II…click here for Part I

We spent this summer catching up on the fun things and re-balancing life.  
Sitting around the bonfire with good friends, new and old, 
and talking about our country lives and telling stories of our youths.  
A weekend at the cabin getting to know new friends better – 
with a dozen happy, dirty kids sifting through the sand for artifacts from the past, chasing fireflies, riding quads, nature hikes, 
chicken on the outdoor brick grill.  

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

What Blog?

I have certainly been neglectful this summer.  
Life has come at a dizzying pace 
and I have been doing my best to just stay upright.  
And to work in a little fun when we have that moment to breathe.  

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...

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.

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...).  

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.  

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...

Friday, May 23, 2014

A surprise hidden in our fern

We had a couple of frosty nights last week so I brought our new hanging baskets into the garage overnight.  I didn't notice at first, but the next morning my daughter pointed out that a large nest had been built in the fern that hangs closest to our redbud tree.  I carefully hung the basket back up where it was and it survived the second frosty night just fine under the protection of the tree.  

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Our New Fairy Garden

One of the things I love about the yard at our new house 
is the shady spot along the south side of the house. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Colorful Plant Markers/Garden Bling

Aren't these fun?  
This little bouquet of brightly painted plant markers/garden bling
 were the presents we gave this year for Mother's Day.  
Anyone recognize what they are made from?  
Yup, old canning jar lids!  
I always have canning jar lids that are dinged or scratched 
and can't be used again for canning, but I hate to throw them out.  
I used hot glue to add rings to a few to make them more "flower-like".  

Monday, May 19, 2014

Life is a Rose

My great-grandparents had an affinity for roses.  My great-grandma also had a love of quotes, poetry, and writing in many forms.  When she was limited in her physical abilities in her later years, she spent many hours studying her bible, reading Reader's Digest and writing notebook after notebook full of poems jokes and little stories she found that held her fancy.  When I was younger we spent long summer days reading those poems and stories together and discussing the meaning of them - both the obvious and the more subtle.  

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Coffee Stand Makeover

This little coffee stand came to me through my mom.  It has been a number of different colors over the years - always serving to hold coffee pots of microwaves and the little drawer full of little whats-its.  

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Where Pretty Comes From

I saw this posted by my niece the other day 
and it made me want to have yet another talk with my daughter 
about all of the things that make her special.

Pretty is definitely there - but its not the only thing, 
the biggest thing, or the most important thing.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Snow Day Activities

All these snow days (even Mom and Dad have had them this winter!) have caused a severe case of the house-bound-crazies with all of us - but they have also provided some fun opportunities for experiments and projects and I thought I'd share some of them with you in case you need more things to keep the kids busy.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Easy Ways to Warm Up at Home

Have I said how brutal the cold has been this winter?  Another big temperature drop has come our way here in Michigan and it has me thankful for the little things we have done around the house to make it a little more cozy.  Of course, there is the list of things you should do before winter to ensure your home is prepared - caulking and insulation and such.  But if you are having some drafty areas, noticing hot/cold spots or just want to reduce your heating costs in general, there are some things you can do quickly, easily and without a large expense.

Fleece Blanket Curtains
This was a thrilling find, I will admit.  We had bought the kids some little fleece lap blankets at Walmart for $2.88 each at Christmas and they had a large selection of patterns and solids.  After the ice storm and during the first big snow storm, I started looking at things I could do to contain heat and block out drafts as we learned more about this house.  My dining room windows face the west and while lovely to let a breeze in during the summer, they also let quite a breeze in when the winds were blowing hard too so I needed something more seasonally appropriate than the sheers I had been using.  I returned to Walmart thinking that even if I had to sew them together, those blankets were cheaper than most fleece I could buy by the yard and I had seen some colors I thought might work.  I found this adorable blues/greens/grays snowflake pattern and realized that their 50"x60" measurements meant I only needed two to form perfect curtains for my 84"x60" windows (that measurement included the frames and measuring from the curtain rod).  With their cute blanket-stitched edge, no sewing was necessary.  

Monday, February 24, 2014

Pallet Garden Placement

Good day to you, dear readers!  What a long and trying winter this has been, hasn't it?  While I normally don't mind the cold and snow much because of the fun it brings with it, this winter has certainly been a lot of work with not so much time left in the day to play.  In fact, it has been so busy that I have been neglectful of you all.  My mother prodded me by gently asking if I still had a blog, lol.  Time flies....

I'm guessing quite a few of you are like me and have started to daydream of green shoots, twittering birds, and any other sign of spring.  The seed catalogs have begun to arrive and the feed store racks are full of garden planning magazines.  I've noticed an increase in gardening posts (and generally anything with the sun in it!) on Pinterest so I thought perhaps this would be a good time to discuss a few of the things I've learned about pallet gardening through my own experimenting.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Baby It's Cold Outside!

Brrrr!  Its cold and snowy and blustery in many of the states today and its only going to get colder over the next few days.  So what do you do to keep warm?  Well you can bet we'll have the fireplace going, some hearty soups and stews on the stove and some bread baking in the oven at our house.  Slippers and fleece will be abundant and so will books and movies for snuggling.  The heat lamp is on in the barn and everybody gets a extra load of hay and scoop of oats to keep them warm.  I'm also hoping to drag out some of my excess fabric and get back to working on window coverings because this weather sure reminds me what a difference they make.  I hope you are staying toasty and safe this weekend - here's a few recipes perfect for warming your belly!