Wednesday, September 30, 2009

True and Utter JOY!!!!!!!

Jamie and Thad in Colorado this summer.... had to be one of the best days of my whole life. I got a call first thing this morning from my girl...and she excitedly told me that she and her husband were going to have a baby! Oh my goodness, you all know what she's been going! Such a surprise and a blessing, I just cried happy tears.

When Jamie called to tell her dad, he cried, too. I think I FLOATED for the rest of the day. I couldn't think and was discombobulated for hours. I am SO happy for my girl and her husband and thank God that this day came.

Thad's mom called me today, too and we had a happy mutually congratulatory conversation about our grandchild-to-be! Oh what fun we're going to have!

Now I'm just praying for a healthy grandchild and I know for sure that God hears our prayers.
(Lord, could you make him or her with red hair like the baby's daddy?)

So...what does that make me? Nana? Gamma? Oh, what shall I be?
Sometime next June, I'm gonna need a name!
What do your grandkids call you?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Quilts = Security + Comfort...

Quilts have always held importance for me. I really can't explain it, other than I love history, I love fabric, color and I love to sew. Any picture or drawing of a quilt instantly gets my attention. I like to imagine color combinations for them, and though I am not much of a quilter, I have made one or two, I still want quilts around me. I have no precious heirloom quilts (I wish I did!) but I like quilts simply for the warmth, weight and feel of them as I lay under them in bed.

Quilts may not be necessary like they once were, but is there anything more useful, practical and timeless? They are beautiful subjects for photographs, especially if they're flappin' in the breeze on the line on a beautiful day!

I have raised my kids to sleep under quilts, and they always have had one on their bed. I cannot even imagine sleeping a night without a quilt on me, even in the summer. I've tried to like comforters, but I can't. They're slippery and too light, they don't lay right.

Granted, in the summer, it's only ONE quilt....but now that fall has come, I've been thinking: it's time to go to the linen closet and pull out more and get them washed and on the line while the weather still allows. I will layer them now that the weather's getting colder. Quilts just make fall, winter, and early spring cozier and warmer, they help to make our house a home.

When a quilt is worn out, I have a terrible time saying goodbye to it. I have a couple in the house that are 25 years old, and I still keep them, even though they're threadbare and don't match anything that I have.

One of the most precious quilts I have is one that my husband's grandmother pieced together by hand in her late years as she was confined to a chair. It is made all of plaid scraps and is a nine-patch with each nine patch bordered. She hand quilted it once it was all pieced and we have used it for years. First on beds, and then as it aged, it became the quilt that we use in our Suburban, and has traveled with us all over the country.

It has been used in the back seat by the kids, for a cozy nap for us after a long stint of cross-country driving, on the beach, for picnics, and to cover ourselves with during cold and blustery football or baseball games. It has padded antiques and finds for a ride home from a flea market or a garage sale, been put under pets as I take them to the vet's office.

In that quilt are stitched many memories, not only of Momo, who made it, but of all the life that has taken place with it underneath or on top of us. That quilt is stitched into all of our lives over the years and I hope someday, that one of my kids will want it, threadbare and worn, to keep for their own family to make memories on.

I have plans, grand ones, for when I am all done raising children and I look forward to their visits, when I no longer need to dye my gray hair and I have "more time". I plan to make a lot of quilts and in the meantime, I love looking at and enjoying quilts, any chance that I get.


Monday, September 28, 2009

Never Wanna Say Good Bye....

Never Wanna Say Good Bye!
(An Ode to My Flip Flops)

I'll miss you
When the cold wind blows
And the rains are falling
And I have to dig
In the closet for some shoes
(OH NO!)
You know you're the best
And I won't be at rest
Until we are pals again
When the sunshine and
Warm weather are back once more
I will wash you and
Pack you away
And think of you often
In the coming eight months
Till again we can play
(In the green grass and on the beach, anywhere my feet will reach!)
Good bye, my colorful, faithful
Flippy floppy pals,
I love you and your noise.
(Slap slap, slap slap....)

Excitement at the Farmhouse....A Six Point Buck!

This weekend in Michigan was a youth hunt for kids who've taken their hunter's safety course and have their permit to go out to the woods with a parent and hunt and take either a buck or a doe. Luke was thrilled to be able to have a good shot at this six-point buck last night right before dusk. Dad talked him through the whole thing and was there for all of it. When they got it hung, they weighed it and it came in at 190 pounds!

It was an exciting time as they called from the woods and Luke's big brother Mark headed out with the pickup and a good flashlight to help find it and bring it back to the house. This boy is one happy hunter and I think dad and big brother and sister are just as proud. So's mom!

Luckily, dad already had today off work and can finish the processing without too much time passing. Thankfully, we had the fridge we took from our kitchen during the remodel in the pole barn and all we had to do was plug it in and then the quarters could be put in there for keeping cold while we get it ready for the freezer.

Today is
National Good Neighbor Day and we have our neighbor, the farmer whose land surrounds us to thank for this deer hunting success story. The farmer is the one who's willing to let all the men here hunt his land to help cull the deer herd, who consistently destroy his crops. He's happier, and we are too, and always make sure to share steak or jerky with he and his wife, for they are the ones who feed these deer a steady diet of good corn. Nothing like corn-fed venison in the freezer!

Friday, September 25, 2009

A Family Tradition...

Since my kids have been little, this has been the go-to snack for before bedtime. Yes, we sometimes would deviate, but going on the old saying "An apple a day keeps the doctor away!" I tried to get my kids to eat an apple every day. Throw in some saltines to balance out the sweetness of the apple and you've got a great little snack!

And...even though I have no "little" kids anymore, I still find myself a lot of evenings in the kitchen slicing apples and breaking open a sleeve of saltines and filling several bowls to pass out. This time of year, with fresh honeycrisps from the orchard, I hardly have anyone turn me down when this is offered.

Try it sometime...I bet you end up liking it!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Blogs Are Just Better Than Magazines....Hands Down

Real-time connections: what's going on NOW
Learning about what's going on in other parts of the country, and the world!
One can leave instant feedback to the author
Interaction with the author through comments or emails
Such talented people showcasing their work
Excellent writers and wonderful writing
Kindness and caring among friends
Excellent photography and advice for learning more about it
Etsy! (Need I say more??)
Endless talent
Sharing your favorite reads with others
Never ending source of useful, helpful, up-to-date information, and fast!
One good blog leads to another, which leads to another, which leads to another, and so on and so on...

AND BEST OF ALL....You don't have to sort them and find homes for or recycle them! They're all stored nicely on the internet. And I can search and access all that information with a search engine.

(Can you tell this post was inspired after a magazine purge?!)

What do YOU like best about blogs, bloggers and blogging?

I am off to clean the dryer out, I discovered last night about midnight (after a long day of salsa-making!) that a whole pack of STRIDE gum had been left in my son's jeans, and went through the washer and the dryer and it's quite stuck and it's quite blue...any suggestions? I'll be scraping and cleaning...ugh.

After that? I'm off to the garage to clean because it's total chaos after our kitchen remodel. Speaking of which, I should be able to show you the whole thing within a week or so. I got the curtains made and now I'm just getting to unpacking the stuff for the walls, shelves and over the cupboard displays. What fun I'm going to have putting it all up!

Have a great day, my friends!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Salsa Redux....

One more go-round with a huge bushel-basketful of tomatoes, a knife, hot steaming kettles of water, all that goes with turning this into something usable.

A neighbor recently called and ask if I'd like her jars, (OH YES!) so today I went out to the garden to see what I could glean from the pathetic looking tomato plants. Well surprisingly this late in September....there was well over a bushel so guess what I will be doing today?

I found this set of potholders at the dimestore yesterday, and I don't know why, but these lil' roosters make me smile! I'll break them in today.

What are you up to?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Mackinac Island: Getting There's Half the Fun!

Even the first weekend of September you can see the fall color starting here on the shore of the island. The little chubby lighthouse in the background is the "Round Island Lighthouse".
Click on any photo for a better view.

All day long, seven days a week and until nine p.m., these hydro ferry boats schlep people back and forth from the island. It's not a cheap trip, it was about $79 for the three of us, and it's more if you take your own bikes up to the island, but to rent bikes, it's $5 an hour per beware if you're planning a trip to research the costs associated with an island that is only foot or bike or horse for transportation.

This plume is typical of these big boats that transport people and their stuff to the island for a day trip or for a complete vacation. Kids are thrilled and I have to admit, I run for the top deck when we get on, I love the wind in my hair and the sea spray!

See the freighter in the harbor?

Can one ever be near the water, without trying to skip a few stones? Or taking off the shoes and wading in?

Sunny streets with people in the open air, walking, biking or horse-riding or being pulled in carriages.

The fort sits high above the town on a limestone stone bluff and beckons from the days of the fur traders. Not many important battles took place here.

And off, in the far, far distance, you can see the Mighty Mackinac in the sunny haze.

A view of the town's dock from up on top of the big hill at Fort Mackinac.

And, a parting shot of the Mackinac bridge as we leave the island to head for the car.
For the kids....head over to YOUTUBE and watch Mike Rowe, of DIRTY JOBS paint inside the massive columns on the spans of this bridge.

I hope you enjoyed the photos I've shared with you of our quick summer trip we took on Labor Day weekend. If you ever have the chance, Michigan does have its share of divine places to visit as a tourist.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

SCENIC SUNDAY: Butterflies & Blooms

Taken near the Mackinac Bridge two weekends ago...

I have a soft spot for zinnias and butterflies and felt fortunate that these monarchs posed while I took several shots.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

It Must be Saturday Morning!

Every other Saturday is a day off for dad around here. So every other Saturday morning, I cook a hot breakfast and today it's pancakes and bacon. Our youngest has a recreational league basketball double-header today, so we're off to the courts this morning.

I might be weird, but to me it's always pleasing when you're cooking a hot breakfast, and you're sure that your kids woke up and came downstairs just because they could smell the bacon...and that is the most pleasant alarm clock, no?

Do you remember in the Little House on the Prairie books when Pa would make the pancakes and he'd make a huge pancake first and then as the other ones came off the griddle, he'd "cover" the littler fellas with the big one to keep them warm?
(Sometimes, he'd make the kids pancakes in shapes they'd recognize. I've never been too successful at that.)

My stack is under this big "cover" pancake. Luke always wants the cover to eat.

Here in Michigan, there have been three straight weekends of gorgeous weather, which is something to be cherished. It's a beautiful, slightly breezy, chilly and crisp early fall morning.

Just right for pancakes and bacon!
(Gotta run and put the coffee on!)

What's YOUR favorite hot breakfast?
(Sometimes I like a good hot bowl of Cream of Wheat with a little sugar on top!)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Layin' By and Puttin' Up!

It's that time of year: those of us with gardens are "layin' by and puttin' up"! And, it must be a primal thing for a woman to LOVE getting food put in the freezer, canned and preserved. It keeps you busy, but it helps you connect with your mother, grandmother and those that came before you. It's a ritual of late summer, early fall.

Here's a delicious recipe shared with me by a friend for freezer corn that's super easy, and if you have a row that's a late crop, you're in for a treat!

5 c. corn
(cut corn off the cob & scrape the cob, too for more creamy deliciousness!)
1/2 stick butter
1 c. water
2 t. salt
2 t. sugar

METHOD: Put all ingredients into a kettle. Cook corn until warm and the butter melts, stirring to dissolve the sugar and the salt. Once corn is partially cooked and butter is melted, turn off heat and remove from burner to let the corn cool. Put the correct amount (for our family of four, I put in two heaping cups) in freezer bags to freeze flat.

Easy peasy!
And...when it's time to eat it this winter, it will taste fresh and wonderful!

Pine Hollow Lodge

Today is the first installment of a series I'll call Pine Hollow Lodge...
(click any photo to enlarge)
Here, the lodge porch beckons visitors to sit down and makes oneself comfy and cozy with pine rockers, twig tables, and a creative porch railing made with tree branches. On this foggy morning, the sound of the creek and the birdsong was my greeting.

When we went north over Labor Day weekend, my sister and her family were going to be out of she loaned us her house to use for our lodging. What an enjoyable stay we had! I got her permission to share her home with you.

This home was originally built as a summer home for a lumber baron from Saginaw. A few years after he built it, he contracted TB and had to move to New Mexico for the cure. He donated his home in Saginaw to the city, and his cabin in the woods to the YMCA. He was a big game hunter and had many mounts on the walls. This was the first home in the county to have a radio. When they stayed here, they would invite the neighborhood kids over to listen to the radio and older people from the area still remember coming here for that.

My sis and her husband bought it from a judge and a realtor, it had been a YMCA camp with an addition that was still set up like a camp with three bathroom stalls, three sinks and three showers, the upstairs was open with rows of beds lined up under the eaves.

Purchased in 1987, it was their cabin for weekends, and they had a lot of fun having friends and family in to stay and fish, swim or tube in the creek or in one of the many lakes nearby, and watch wildlife. Eventually as her husband's job became something he wanted do from home, they decided to make their permanent home in the woods. They sold what they had downstate and moved in 1995 and remodeled what was there and lived and raised a family in it, and eight years ago, decided to add on and take on the lodge look for the exterior, and for part of the interior.

My sister is one of the most creative and artistic people that I know. Most of the ideas for the inside of the home were hers, and she hired an excellent woodworker to help her make her ideas come to life. She has imagined and then seen delivered some wonderful cabinets and pieces of furniture you could ever want.

What satisfaction she must have as she uses these useful but gorgeous pieces of furniture every day.

The woodworker did a wonderful job and with her help in imagining and with her artists eye and can see that she has a one of a kind home. For instance, above you can see some custom cabinetry she drew up and ordered (the designs inside the cabinets are just as detailed as the outside!) and some of the artwork she had done on the doors embellished with birch bark and twigs, with door pulls and drawer pulls being deer antlers! The paintings in the cabinets here are oil paintings done by a local art teacher.

On the table in the foreground, is a photo of the original structure.

The gorgeous fireplace reaches to the high ceilings...artwork on the TV cabinet doors stands in as a painting that would normally be hanging on a wall! Her husband and children did their part to restock the lodge once again with lots of mounts on the walls by bringing home the mounts year after year from hunting trips near and far.

And I remember the day we both spotted these twin Woolrich wool plaid hunting couches in a nearby town's furniture store display window...what could be more fitting? And they're complete with bullet-shaped nail heads on the front of each arm! This wool pattern reminds many of us of our dad's hunting clothing worn back before hunter's orange was required.

Mary had these insets made for the railing and posters were cut apart and are mounted in the ovals cut out of a piece of birch bark. Each one a different outdoor or wilderness scene! A lot of the pine used to make the tongue and groove on the ceiling, the doors and trim and entertainment centers and living room cabinets came from the land where this home sits. The stairway, hardwood floors and kitchen cabinets are ash, and it was cut when the ash borer plague hit Michigan, thereby making it a good buy. This home sits in a huge forested area where lumbering is king. So there are plenty of lumber mills nearby that will work your trees into usable lumber.

The chunky 4" ash stair treads are such a work of beauty!

This coffee table was designed by Mary and the workmanship is delightful, her ideas for trimming the drawer with twigs are seen here.

An extra seating area in the living room near the window showcases some gorgeous antique finds that have been reupholstered to match the lodge theme.

A view from the stairway and landing overlooking the living area.

A grouping of outdoorsy "tree" mirrors with a birch bark planter beneath them. Mary loves to decorate for Christmas and she pulls out all the stops and this place lends itself to old-fashioned Christmas decorating...I hope to be able to show you that in December!

Delightful cabinets hold some of Mary's collection of china sets, this one being an outdoorsy pattern.

Want to see more?
Next up in the series? A blueberry kitchen in the lodge! Soon.