Sunday, April 26, 2009

Time to relax, Part 2

May I highly recommend....

Mom and I picked up this wine on our vacation last September at Chateau Grand Traverse.  I had been saving it for the right time.  I had forgotten why I chose it over all the other wines we sampled that week -- but now I remember.  This is just one more reason I love Michigan.  I am not a wine expert but I do know what I like -- and this is it.  From the website:

$13.99/ 750 ml. bottle
This lusciously sweet wine was produced from late-picked Chardonnay grapes. It is a delicious sweet style wine with a soft, creamy palate, tropical fruit flavors and a lingering finish. Match with assertive foods such as Cajun, Thai, or Indian cuisine. Serve at 45-50ยบ F.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Time to relax

It is the weekend again and a perfect time to relax a bit.  The weather is warming up (70's and even into the 80's) and trees are budding.  The grass has turned green again and the birds are chirping loudly.
Mom came into town for the weekend to visit.  I'm very happy about it as our last scheduled visit had to be postponed due to medical issues.  We cruised around last night in her convertible and looked at a couple of the homes that Charlie and I have been considering.  Then we watched a movie and went to bed.
This morning we went driving around some more and ended up in Frankenmuth.  The photo below is from a kaleidoscope set up in front of one of the stores.  If you've been to Frankenmuth you probably know what I'd talking about.  I stuck the camera up to the eye piece and it actually worked (it is a little fuzzy, but still pretty cool)!

Anyway, we had coffee on the brain so we went to a newer coffee shop we hadn't been to before and took our time enjoying our drinks and biscotti.

No trip to Frankenmuth is complete for Mom without a stop at Rapunzel's.  It really is unique and they change their displays frequently.  There is a knitting section, home decor, clothing and jewelry.

We also went to Zender's bakery (yum), the health food store and the cheese store.  It started to rain just when we were leaving town (we got to the car just in time to put the top up).  We did a few other things and then headed back to our house.  Driving down some back roads we notice a few patches of gorgeous white flowers.  I'm 99.9% sure this is bloodroot.  I like the way this photo turned out.

P.S.  The mama barn cat had her babies.  Wednesday night she was big and fat and Thursday morning she was skinny and her belly sagged half way to the ground : )
I'll give her some time with them for now, but hopefully I'll find them later so I can get some photos.  

Friday, April 17, 2009

A Sunny Day

They let me out of work a couple of hours early today.  It was really nice outside so I tried to make the most of it.  I brought Sassy outside to get some sun and mingle with the barn cats (she has more courage every day - well, until Dave came around the corner of the barn with the tractor).  This is a photo of one of the kitties from last summer.  He is a ham -- he loves to roll over and beg for food, but he still doesn't like being touched.
Here is a photo of his mama, she is about to give birth again.  I put out a little milk for her tonight because she looked like she could use a little more than just the cheap hard cat food we get them.
Uncle Dave was out and about too.  He is spreading gypsum pellets on his fields.  This is a photo of him in the barn loading up the spreader.
Driving the tractor...
And finally a daffodil from the front yard.  Hurray for spring!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Garage progress

I mentioned a couple of posts ago that Dave and Mary (our landlords) were adding on a garage to their home.  Well, it is progressing very quickly.  I thought I would show what was going on.  The thing is massive and is going to block the nice view I had from our spare room (it is the second floor window that now faces a roof peak).  Oh well.
Charlie and I have been looking for a home of our own lately.  We aren't in any huge hurry to move (I've really enjoyed living here on the farm) but we would be stupid to pass up the current opportunity.  The market in Michigan is full of foreclosures and good buys.  Interest rates are low.  Oh, and there is a "grant" for first time home buyers this year.  We have to learn more about that and we definitely need to find a realtor (because we have no clue what we are doing).  We agree on the basics of what we want in a home, now we just have to find it.  I really want acreage (1+) to have a garden/orchard/a few animals.  I found one that I really liked the other day but Charlie is concerned about the neighborhood.  Then we saw another one with a nice house but the neighbors were trashy.  We've been cruising around on Sundays checking out any homes we can find -- this could take a while.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter

Yesterday we had an early Easter party with Charlie's side of the family.  We all went over to Charlie's parent's place.  Charlie has one sister and one brother -- and they are both married and have kids.  I had 4 nieces and one nephew who were running around looking for plastic eggs.  I have good memories of doing that same thing as a child, although I remember getting a nickel or a couple of jelly beans inside when I found one.  These kids have it made -- Grandma gives them cold hard cash.  They are growing up so quickly.  Marina, the oldest, just got engaged!  She was still in junior high when I met Charlie.  I feel old.
I also wanted to throw in a photo of Lily the dog.  She is such a sweet dog.  Here she is begging for food after dinner.

Speaking of dinner, of course we had tons of food.  Mom-in-law always goes out of her way to make sure that I have something yummy to eat too (vegetarian).  She is always trying out new vegetarian dishes when she sees one in a magazine.  Yesterday was a southwestern pasta -- pasta and tomato sauce with corn, black beans, bell peppers and cheese.  It was quite good!  I just really appreciate all the effort she puts into cooking for me.
Overall, it was a very nice day.  The only thing that I disliked about the day was that my own Mother couldn't come out for a visit.  She has some very legitimate reasons why she couldn't come (family health issues) but I am still very sad.  Hopefully we can have our weekend together soon.
Happy Easter everybody!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Weekend cooking

We made some yummy food this past weekend.  I made some fresh butter from whipping cream - shaken in a mason jar.  It was easy!  Just put the cream in a mason jar, let it sit out for 12 hours -- it will start to sour a bit.  
Then shake, shake, shake.  It looked like whipped cream for a long time, then all of a sudden it separated and began to look like butter.  After the shaking, I poured off the buttermilk into a separate bowl.  Keep the butter in the jar and add some water.  Cover and shake some more.  This ensures that all of the buttermilk is gone (which could spoil the butter).  Pour off the water into the sink and voila!  Butter!  
You can add a pinch of salt if you want salted butter.  We used the buttermilk to make some whole wheat waffles and used the homemade butter on the waffles.  To top it all off, a friend from work gave me some maple syrup they boiled down from their own trees.  Wash it down with some chickory coffee -- yum!  If heaven serves breakfast -- this one is sure to be on the menu.
I also wanted to show off dinner from the night before.  I started with mushrooms, zucchini, green beens, green onion and garlic (ginger too if you have it)... 
Start chopping and throw in a wok with some vegetable dumplings (they have them in the freezer section at any Asian grocery store).  I just used a seasoning packet from the store with some soy sauce and a touch of sugar.  I'm sure you could use any number of different sauces though.  Serve with rice.  
Take the leftovers to work for lunch the next day.  Two days of healthy food for 20 minutes of cooking.  
Sorry for the long break from posting blogs lately.  I had a touch of late winter blues and didn't have much to write about.  Be sure to check back often now that spring and summer are starting up.  Things should be more interesting...

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Lovely day

Yesterday turned into a gorgeous day.  I was supposed to work all day but only 3 1/2 hours into my shift they told me I could leave.  It worked out perfectly.  I went to the laundromat and got the laundry out of the way.  Then I came home and hung out with the cat while some clothes dried on the line.
If you ever met Sassy you would know that she is really a sissy.  She gets scared by strangers and little barn kitties -- even the wind freaks her out.  She usually stays up by the door when I let her out (just in case she needs to run back inside).  I was so proud of her yesterday though.  She came all the way out to the clothesline then over to the side of the yard by the lilac bushes.  Oh, speaking of which...

Things are starting to come to life outdoors.  The lilacs are budding.  My starter plants are coming along nicely as well indoors.
Anyway, I was able to do some cleaning in the kitchen yesterday as well.  My mother is coming over to visit next weekend and I have a lot to do before she gets here.  The place is a mess and could use some spring cleaning.  My excuse is that all of the overtime I've been getting prevents me from cleaning (but it is just an excuse).

I also managed to cook up a gorgeous dinner last night.  Charlie had steak with onions and mushrooms and I had a veggie stir fry with vegetable mandoo (pot stickers) over rice.  I was excited because the rice turned out perfectly (I always struggle with either scorched rice on the bottom or not cooked enough).
I felt like I accomplished a lot for a Saturday -- although I missed out on all that overtime money.  I'm going to try to post later today as well -- I'm going to attempt to make butter today.