Sunday, June 27, 2010

Vacation with Mom

My wonderful 2 week vacation is almost over.  It went so quickly!  Here are some photos I shot while my mother and I went out together on Monday and Tuesday.  On Monday, we went to the Lake Michigan shore and into Saugatuck, MI.  We also went to a large winery in Fennville.  

On Tuesday we went to Shipshewana in Indiana.  If you are not familiar with it, there is a large amish community there.  We drove through the countryside and also went to several stores.  Oh, and we even went to an amish garage sale.  

On Wednesday, Mom had set up a surprise for me in the AM for my birthday.  Then we spent some time with my grandma at the craft store and getting coffee.  We had my favorite pizza for dinner.  It was a nice birthday.  I spent an extra night so that I could go out for coffee with my dad the next day.
Thursday I spent the day in the garden planting all of the perennials that Mom had sent home with me from her own garden.  The sun coaxed some freckles out.  Friday I ran some errands and yesterday I spent most of the day making strawberry freezer jam.  So far, today, nothing is going on.  I'm going to persuade Charlie to take me to a movie and celebrate my birthday (belated) today.  Then back to work tomorrow.  This vacation has me dreaming more and more about how to become self-employed... any ideas for me?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Homemade elephant ears

I'm at my family's home tonight for Father's day because my Mom and I are going on a couple of day trips this week.  They decided to make some homemade elephant ears tonight so I thought I would learn how to do it and share the info with you.  Dad learned from a friend of his that makes them professionally (at fairs, etc).  

Start out with frozen white bread dough...
Let it thaw and rise...
Dad spread it thin -- very thin.  He says holes are OK...
Heat up oil to around 375 degrees -- you can test it with a little piece of dough.
Meanwhile, Mom was in charge of the cinnamon sugar.  There aren't any specific measurements -- just guess. 
Carefully drop the dough in...
Turn it over when it is golden brown...
Coat them in sugar when they come out and enjoy...

Trip to the U.P.

Charlie and I went to the Upper Peninsula this week for our vacation.  We went there on our honeymoon 5 years ago.  We celebrated our anniversary this week.  I thought I would include some of the photos I shot while driving around.  

We decided someday we would have a place in the U.P. -- even if it looks like this.  

We were driving down this road and saw a baby black bear tearing into a rotten log.  He ran away before I could get a photograph.  We never saw the mama.  

Wildflowers were everywhere.

This is Lake Huron -- we drove the long way home so we could drive along the lakeshore.  We didn't want the trip to end.  

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Fruit salsa

A friend of mine threw a margarita/sangria party last night.  We had the most awesome food and drinks! She made a cilantro pasta salad, layered bean dip, and an amazing sangria.  Another friend brought homemade margarita mix and salsa and chips.  I decided to make a sweet fruit salsa with cinnamon tortilla chips.  It went over very well -- I was pretty thrilled too because I basically made up the "recipe".

I used strawberries, kiwi, mango and pineapple chopped into tiny little pieces.  The fruit was fairly sweet on it's own, so I only added a couple of spoons of homemade strawberry freezer jam to pull it all together.
I also made my own cinnamon tortilla chips.  Take some tortillas and spray them with butter flavored cooking spray or brush with melted butter (I did both sides).  Then sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.  Then spray again with the cooking spray.  This step helps keep the sugar stuck to the chip.  Take a pizza cutter and cut into wedges.  I baked them for 8 minutes at 350 degrees.  Yum!
So the party was awesome.  It was a great way to celebrate the first day of my two-week vacation.  Woo hoo!!!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Garden construction photos

I finally have a photo to share of our new raised bed garden.  It is a work in progress, but I think it is going fairly well so far.  Things are sprouting up nicely.  I'm hoping the soil is deep enough to produce healthy fruiting plants.  

Yesterday I set up my salad tray.  I thought I would show you the basic construction in the photo below. The screen holds in the "dirt" (but you actually use a non-soil potting mixture) and then the wire mesh gives it support.  We weren't thinking and used treated lumber.  I'd prefer not to poison myself, so I took the left over plastic from the topsoil bags used in the raised beds to line the edges before the dirt went in.  

And here is what it looks like finished.  Well, almost finished.  It started raining before I could get it planted.  I have a lettuce blend and I'm going to see if radish will grow in it as well.  You really could grow anything that doesn't produce huge root systems.  Now I'll be able to walk out onto the patio, clip off some lettuce and make a salad.  I shouldn't have to worry about slugs or rabbits eating my lettuce (although if we had more deer, I'd be nervous).  

I'm keeping the garden kinda small this year.  It is taking up a lot of my time as it is.  I may add more raised beds in the future.  A tilled up plot of earth may be necessary too tfor the larger vining plants I'd like to grow.  
I had also wanted to keep some backyard chickens but need to find/build a coop first.  It may get delayed until next year.  
I do have some vacation time coming up soon.  Two weeks in a row!!!  I'm very excited about it.  I'm going to have some time to really finish unpacking and settling into the house (we have things in the pole barn that need to be moved to the basement, etc).  Charlie and I will be going "up North" for our 5th anniversary.  I also get to spend some time in Grand Rapids, MI.  Life is good.