Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Boulder Ridge Animals

Each summer we go to the zoo, but today we didn't.  Instead we went to a wild animal refuge park near where the girls live.  It's really a very nice place with lots and lots and lots of room for the animals, interesting beasts we don't usually see....bison, giraffe, water buffalo, different antelope from around the world, porcupine, wallaby, emu, ostrich, zebra, and things I don't even remember.  It was pretty interesting. 

 This guy was very big. Whoa. And close. 

There was a reconditioned schoolbus painted in zebra stripes that took us around to the large animals.
 Did you know that ostrich eggs can support 200 pounds?  That means if you weigh less than 200 pounds you can stand on an ostrich egg and it won't break.  Really!  I wonder how the chick gets out!!
 The cage with bunnies was Adelaide's favorite, of course.
 Elizabeth waited and waited for the tortoise to move.  She was rewarded with a blink.
The petting pens held this llama, goats, bison, water buffalo, some antelope, the babies are here.
But this.  This was the highlight.  Those cases hold tarantulas.  I don't do spiders, not even in pictures.  No.  Nada.  Never.  Wet my pants no.   Well, Adelaide was being so brave. She wanted to see them, and got just this close.  For 15 minutes we heard, "Mommy see me being brave of it?"  and "Grandma, let me show you how to be brave," and she took my hand and tried to lead me into this little space with these ghastly things in it.  I told her no.  I can't.  Don't make me.  "But Grandma, I'm being brave of it,  let me take you."  Too darned cute with her little hand pulling mine but no. They know spiders are not my thing and I told her if I went in there I would cry.  I told her I was so proud of how brave she was, she was much braver than me, but

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Summer tradition

On the way here for their weekly summer visit the girls realized that summer is moving along faster than they'd like because there are still many things on their list that we always do but haven't yet.  So, today, we visited St. Joseph, Michigan, another beach town, that each summer displays artistically decorated "things" outside downtown stores and street corners.  Last year it was pirates, the year before barnyard animals, another year it was cows, another time, fish.  This year the theme is Trains, Planes and Automobiles.

We looked for the letters in their names on this one.....
This one was outside a burger restaurant and it was really cute.  The wheels were onions and pickles, you can see they're sitting on salt and pepper shakers, the rest was decorated as a stacked burger. The front was a tomato slice.  Cute.
I absolutely love watching them read the map to see where to go next and then afterward, remember which were their favorites.
Elizabeth kept us on the path....
... and I couldn't resist this picture!
But, ahh, what little girl doesn't love bling?  This decorated plane won hands down as their favorite.  It sparkled from the morning sun a block away. This belongs in their back yard.

Next stop, the carousel!  We had three rides and they chose a different animal each time.  For Elizabeth the horses just got prettier and prettier.
This one is part horse, part mermaid and she loved it.

"Adelaide, did you have a fun day?"

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Bits and pieces

 What to do with a handful of fruit?  I've never make a rustic tart before.  I'm more of a top crust pie person but I was also very lazy when I made these so I tried this.  No recipe, sorry.  Many times I don't use recipes, I just do it.  The blueberries were tossed with sugar, a little flour and a dash of cinnamon. 
 Same with the peaches.  Four peaches in this one.  A little sugar, some flour and a bit of cinnamon.  They were yummy.  And I think I'll go lazy and rustic more often!

Do you know about yarn bombing?  I'd never heard of it until the city of Lowell, Michigan decided to go for it.  They asked for anything people wanted to do, but it had to be done with yarn.  Thirty-eight trees were bombed. They're really colorful and creative and add a nice look to main street. 

 Elizabeth is partial to all of them.

Make yarn, not war!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

This one's a winner

This one is so good.  This one is like you've never tasted good.  It's fresh lemon ice cream (not sherbert or sorbet, but ice cream)  and let me tell you, it's slap the counter good.

  I got this recipe from a blog that I read all of the time.  It's from Sue at  The View From the Great Island.  I'd like to live in her refrigerator. Her blog tastes so yummy I feel like I've eaten after I've read it. 
   On July 1, 2013 she posted this lemon ice cream and since it seemed so very easy, no eggs, no cooking, just heavy cream, milk, sugar and fresh lemons, I got the stuff out and made a batch. And I really did. I slapped the counter when I tasted it.  I even turned out a second batch immediately!
    Now, she showed hers in a cute little fluted one scoop cup.  Notice... I have MINE in a soup ladle!
    I've been having lots of fun with my ice cream maker.  I've made vanilla, buttered pecan, peach, cherry with chocolate chunks,  mint chocolate chunk,  blackberry sorbet, and raspberry sorbet.  But this one.....oh, folks, this one is worth going out and buying an ice cream machine for.  And lemon isn't the first flavor I'd choose for anything!
    You might want to check her blog out...she's working her way through the summer fruits.  She posted a good looking nectarine frozen yogurt but nectarines aren't out here yet.  I'll have to use that yogurt in the fridge for something else.  Blueberry frozen yogurt?  Raspberry?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Preserve the bounty

Are you reaping the bounty?  Are you the proud owner of a sweet cherry tree?  Do you live near an orchard so you can go pick your own by the buckets full?  We do.  Live near an orchard, that is.  And last week when the girls were here we went picking and came home with buckets full.  It's really hard when you're in the element - trees, fat dark sweet cherries, birds, little girls - to stop picking and so you get a little carried away.  But then the girls went home and Patient Husband and I were left with our bucket full.  We ate and ate and then I went shopping on Pinterest for some ideas.  I found a couple that looked promising and this one at foodepix for a sweet cherry sauce seemed right.  I even happened to have all the ingredients on hand, including enough sweet cherries. 

So, this morning we went from this.....

 to this....and yes, I pitted them by hand, slicing them in half and scooping out the seeds.  It turned my fingers yucky but I wanted that half cherry look.

 It's a really simple recipe, and this was the gorgeous finished product.  It's really easy, the pitting is the most time consuming.

It's absolutely luscious.  I got two nice good pints and after it cooled in the jars I put it in the freezer.  If you're preserving, you need to preserve till January when a sweet cherry will taste even sweeter.  Truly, go visit the site:  foodepix and preserve some Sweet Cherry Sauce.

Friday, July 5, 2013

4th of July

How was your 4th of July holiday?  We had a few members of the family here for a cookout and then in the evening some fireworks for the kids.

 Elizabeth started out a bit apprehensive of her sparklers ......
 Not too sure what was going to happen with them......
 But she came into her element and by the time she went to bed she had had the most fun night of her life.  We had big sparklers.  She choreographed the fireworks show, handed out treats for us spectators,  she organized and led a parade of five people, waving flags and singing 'Yankee Doodle Dandy' as we marched in the street.  She was in charge of the party, she was up waaayyyy past bedtime, she had all the adults doing what she wanted...what more could a six year old ask?
 Adelaide was not feeling well all day, she ran a fever and had a bad headache and spent the day sleeping or being held.  Poor baby, she didn't want anything to do with sparkly things.
 But by this morning she was about 90% and was climbing ladders at the cherry orchard picking fruit.
We picked and picked and picked wonderful sweet cherries.  Then came home and ate and ate and ate wonderful sweet cherries.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The urge to purge

 I have the urge to purge.  And I always say, strike while THAT iron is hot, you never know when you'll be in that mood again.  Well, since I've been retired a whole month, I've been trying to attack a few closets and drawers and cupboards.  One of the projects is my scrap drawer. Over time I had saved anything that looked like a bitsy could be cut out of it again.  And to give credit, sometimes I DID rummage through and found something I could use.  But holy cow,  I've had it.  
SO  I took all of the bags (don't you love those zippered bags sheets and pillowcases and tablecloths come in?  Great for scrap sorting.)  that one day last winter I had presorted by color, took the batting that I had cut into squares, thanks to a blog tip, and started sewing strips on.  At first I tried to be coordinated about it but after awhile I just dipped my hand into the pile and sewed on anything that fit. 
At this count, I now have 45 of these 6 inch squares and ten 9 inch squares.  And two good ideas how to use them. 

Those two good ideas work in my dreams but I haven't tried anything yet for real.  No time.  You can't believe the mess I was in the middle of, but had to put it away for a few days due to the 4th of July holiday.  One of my ideas is to just attach them to each other and back them.  Maybe cut them diagonally and reattach yet again?  Another idea is going to take some thinking but if it works, it's going to be great.  Who knows....these are all scraps and I can do whatever I want.  If anything at all works it's a bonus.  AND I'll have gained a drawer!  I can go shopping!!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Summer in the country

Yesterday I went looking for some cherries because I wanted to make cherry chocolate chunk ice cream.  I have a policy of picking my own fruit.  We live between two and six miles of any summer fruit you could want so I take advantage of this luxury and only eat the fruit  I picked  myself.   There are a couple of reasons, really.   When we were kids we 'learned' to pick and went out a lot with mom as a summer-something-to-do thing.  But I learned to love everything about the experience.  It's quiet.  It's beautiful.  It's peace filled.  It's delicious.  It's cheaper.  It's just too easy to NOT do it.
So, living in the midst of orchards and pick-your-own farms, I pick.  It's what summer is for me.

 I couldn't help but notice as I went down the road just how many fruit/veggie stands there really are!
 You can't go a country mile without finding yet another place letting you know there's something fresh and good on a makeshift table waiting for someone's dinner....or dessert.
 There is just so much to choose from!
 For a city girl the eggs are really the fun part. 

Oh, and just leave your coins in the jar, thank you very much.

And, yes, I did get the cherries.  The place was absolutely packed with people.  So I got just what I needed and knew when I needed more I could just wander back and pick a couple more pounds.  Now, on to that ice cream!