Saturday, July 30, 2011

A Week on Lake Michigan

We've just returned from a little summer trip up north in South Haven, Michigan...
It was our first visit to Michigan and I learned, or rather, confirmed something about myself.
I am more of an ocean girl.  Yes, the sand, waves, seagulls, and lighthouses were plentiful, but a summer vacation without the sea and salty air just wasn't the same for me. My boys, however, LOVED the warmer temps of Lake Michigan and were happy to play for hours in water that didn't sting their eyes or taste bad.  We actually spent more time on the beach with this trip than any in the past.

We rented a cozy (ie. tiny) little 2BR cottage full of white wicker, framed puzzles, creaky hardwood floors, stocked with plenty of board games, lincoln logs and beach toys.  
The entire yard, front and back, was enclosed with a pristine picket fence, 
blooming hydrangeas, and a retro-ish swing set.  

We quickly filled the home with sand trekked back from walks to the beach 
and made use of the grill and screened in gazebo for dinners with the boys 
in their jammies, all tuckered out from busy days.  
Our usual modus operandi is to eat out while away, 
but without the lure of fresh lobster, we opted to do most of our dining at the cottage. 
We kept it super simple and found it was definitely a nicer way to cap a long day of playing in the sun!   

Most of our week was spent at the beach.  
Feeding and chasing the "eagles" (C's word for seagulls), building sand castles, 
"boating" (in an inflatable boat) and swimming.

In between beach time we explored the surrounding lakeshore towns of 
Saugatuck, Douglas, and Holland.  
Each was charming in a midwestern sort of way.  

They were well equipped with the traditional tourist necessary fudge, ice cream, salt water taffy and T-shirt shops.  Honestly, what is it with beach towns and fudge shops??  
They also had quite a bit of beautiful art from local artists.  
Our favorite spot in South Haven was the Chocolate Cafe.

We chose the nicest day of the week to take a dune ride.  

It's a bit like a 45 minute roller coaster.  

I held on to Charlie and my camera for dear life.  
We rode to the top of the 2nd highest dune in the state and 
had an incredible view 35 miles out of Lake Michigan 
(which stretches 70 miles wide at it's longest width).  

Andrew and Jimmy spent an afternoon on a waverunner.  
Andrew drove (apparently like a wild man) tossing his poor Daddy off on more than one occasion.  Thankfully I was back at the house while C napped.  
I'm not sure my nerves could have handed all that action.
I honestly have a hard enough time when flocks of seagulls descend on us for bread.

And in the spirit of honesty, I feel like I have some blogging responsibility to say that every minute wasn't perfect, anyone with young children knows a week away from routines, combined with insufficient sleep, long car rides, small shared spaces, etc. is hardly a "vacation" for the parents, but we made LOTS of happy memories as a family and that is what it's all about.  
And it makes coming back home all the sweeter.

  {thanks so much for reading!} 

Friday, July 22, 2011

Swimmers, Take Your Mark....

A good looking bunch of swimmers. 
Andrew's in the green shirt.

Andrew swam 25 back and 25 breast in the finals.
He had his best times in each event during prelims and finals.

He might have a little competitive bone in his body after all.
So proud to see him want to do his best!

Little brother was there to cheer him on too.
And had to draw pictures of Andrew "swim so fast."

Mariemont won the league championships for the 3rd year in a row.
The 8 & under boys were the high point scorers for their age group too!
For all you non-swimmer parents this post likely means absolutely nothing.
Just a Mama proud of her big boy and his teammates.

Now we are heading out on a little family vacay, 
to be close to the water and hopefully much cooler temps.
 Be back in August!

(thanks to my Dad for the photos of the meet.)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Summer Days + Phone Picture Dump

Is it really July 19th today?  Really!!??
Where is this summer going?
I already saw the aisles filling with back-to-school supplies at the drugstore.
The air is thick and the temps are sweltering.  
My widows are steaming up in typically late July fashion and the mosquitoes are vicious.  
Tomorrow, Andrew has his swim team championships 
marking the final meet of summer and his last as an 8 & under.  
Say it ain't so.

I usually long for fall by this time each year, but I'm not there yet.
Last night I went on a bike ride with my boys to the library.  
Me on my bright yellow, one speed, beach cruiser 
(yes, I ride a beach cruiser in landlocked southern Ohio, what say you?!)
with the toddler chariot attached to the back, 
huffing and puffing my way to and fro despite our flat terrain, 
with a basket full of slightly overdue library books that were MIA for a few days.

Once home, I put the sprinkler on my poor wilting hydrangeas 
and then ran through the water holding Andrew and Charlie's hands for the next hour.  
Me, in a tank and skirt, totally soaked, and screaming with each icy blast of water... 
Charlie giggling and jumping in an ever expanding diaper...
And Andrew, the only one of us appropriately dressed, in a pair of trunks, calling the shots.  
This sort of impromptu-past bedtime-playing-in-water-silliness, 
that's the part of summer I'm not quite ready to let go of yet.

{andrew & payton, his best bud}

Our unhurried Thursday night Farmer's Market dinners 
where we sit around the fountain eating brick oven pizzas, 
snow cones and drinking mint ice tea while the air is hot 
and the boys throw pennies in the water and occasionally, often unintentionally, dance 
to the sounds of the solo guitarist strumming and singing as the sun begins to set.  
No after school activities, no homework, no obligations.

Leaving Charlie in his jammies while we take Andrew to swim practice each morning.
{This was snapped the day of their pancake breakfast.}

And just being lazy.
No, I'm not quite ready to pick up the pace...
Are you?


Sunday, July 17, 2011

For My Seamstress

This is the easiest way to share pictures with Linda, my incredible seamstress. 
(I hope everyone else doesn't mind reading too!) 
 I have worked with her for YEARS, on our old home and in our current one too.  
She is a master at making gorgeous, no, perfect, window treatments.  
(see, if I bait her with compliments I get better pricing!)  Linda, I'm kidding!!  :)

I am about to unload 45 yards of fabric on her this week....

Here what I'd like her to make with it:

For our bedroom:
Desk skirt/table cover, made out of the natural linen fabric....
Source: via Kara on Pinterest

Full bedskirt also in natural linen, queen size....

Source: via Tessa on Pinterest

Pleated drapes for bedroom, in natural linen, one set of panels with drapery hooks...

Source: via Tessa on Pinterest

Drapery panels for family room, out of the parchment colored linen, 
3 pairs of panels (6 panels total), with drapery hooks.


What would you say the above is??  Inverted pleat? 
 I like how casual it hangs without looking cutesy. 
My flouncy topped drapes in the gold color look too cutesy. 
Usually, I'm not a huge fan of inverted pleats. 
I also like these which I think are inverted. 
(design bloggers, help me out!!)...
Maybe, I'm a bigger fan than I thought!

Source: via Anna on Pinterest

Thanks, Linda!! (sorry the spacing is out of whack in this post,  I can't seem to fix it! Sorry!) 

You are the best!!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Friday Lovin'

For this Nantucket home feaured on Joni's blog, Cote de Texas....

For this skirt..

When I saw it in the most recent issue of Matchbook,
I had zero self control and ordered one with the frenzy of
someone who's very life depended on it.
It is gorgeous and made beautifully!
With satin lined pockets.
Too fancy for park playdates or making dinner, but perfect for a date night.
I neeeeeed a date night.

Gorgeous exteriors with grays, purples and whites...

Source: via Tessa on Pinterest

Now it's time to hit the pool for a little pre-dinner swim,
while we wait for our Friday night pizza delivery.
For those that are curious, Bernard and Bianca have not made a
return appearance the last two nights.
I'm praying they found a safe way out of our house and are traveling far, far away.

Hope you have a Fabulous Weekend!!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Uninvited Guests

Guess who had a party under my sink...
and in the playroom cupboard...
 the pantry...
and a couple utensil drawers..
behind the couch...
and under one of the slip covered dining room chairs???

That is what I woke up to this morning.
Some sort of middle of the night rodent invasion.
Maybe it was the lure of the homemade pretzels?

Eight frantic hours of non-stop cleaning,
checking every conceivable corner of our home with a
flashlight, and nearly coming close to hyperventilating,
I'm now getting ready to turn in for the night.
I figure if I can picture them as Richard Scary characters,
maybe then I stand a chance of getting some sleep.
I was blessed to have children who entertained themselves ALL DAY,
and for a dear friend who loaned me her handy husband for the
night to seal up what we think was their entrance.
Plenty of bait has been set, should they care to make a return visit.
I'm hoping for a better wake up call tomorrow.
Pray for me! :)

(not even sure how to label this post!!)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Doughnuttery + Other Summer Adventures In My Kitchen

Hi, friends!
I have a feeling this post will be all over the place.
There are so many food adventures and new recipes I'd like to share with you.
I really should split this into more than one post, but time is short these days for blogging --
too much sunshine, pool time, and summery things going on.

Source: None via Tessa on Pinterest

So, where to begin....
About 4-5 month ago we made a pretty big shift in how we eat after
discovering Andrew was "sensitive" to certain chemical additives.
As a family we eliminated all artificial colors and artificial flavors - completely.
As well as certain "worst offender" preservatives like BHA, BHT, TBHQ.
Zip, Zap, Boom, Bah, - ALL GONE
I'm not going to blog about all the details, 
but the reality is more money spent on groceries,  
more time spent in the kitchen, and we eat out less.
Is it worth it? Yes.
Is it for everyone? No.
Should you feel bad if your children are eating 
goldfish crackers or skittles as you read this? ABSOLUTELY NOT.
Do I feel better eating all natural food? Healthwise, not one itty bitty bit.  
I feel exactly the same, 
but it makes a big difference for my child 
and as mothers we all know how much that means 
and the lengths we will go to make life better and happier for them.

Source: via Tessa on Pinterest

That brings me to doughnuts....
There are a few things Andrew really "misses" from the old days.
One is doughnuts.
In the summer we'd all ride our bikes to Graeters for a doughnut
after swim practice on Friday mornings.
Unfortunately, their ingredients didn't make the cut,
and thus began my search for an easy "homemade" doughnut.
Afterall, I kind of liked doughnut Fridays too.  A lot.
I tried both cake and yeast doughnuts.
In several varieties:
Cinnamon Sugar + Chocolate + Banana Chocolate
They were the perfect rainy day food project and we had MANY rainy days in June.

The winning recipe is this one:
Cake Doughnuts with Chocolate Glaze
(recipe at end of the post)

I'm grateful the yeast ones weren't a huge hit.
They were messy and too time consuming.
Too fiddly for my liking.
And cleaning a deep fryer is, well, gross.
I do have another yeast doughnut recipe in my queue though, without banana.

Next up on the request list was soft pretzels....
My first effort was with an Auntie Ann's copycat recipe and it was a total failure.
Then this weekend I gave this recipe a try.
Holy pretzel making!!  These are UNBELIEVABLE!!

(sorry, phone picture here)

I followed the recipe to a T and they came out better than I expected.
Except I ended up with 9 instead of 8. No complaining!
I will make these monthly.
They are so, so, soooooo incredibly good.
Doughy, fluffy, light, salty.
Better than anything you could ever buy.
They take about 2 hours to make, an hour of which is time for the dough to rise.
I made them on Sunday while C napped.
I prepped dinner while the dough was rising.
There were too many dirty dishes in my tiny kitchen
and I vowed next time the pretzels would be dinner.
Seriously, dipped in melted cheese or tomato sauce with a few raw veggies on the side.
That works for me.

Ok, I have one more recipe to share, but I'm going to save it.
 It is the best thing I've made all summer.
It's from Ina (of course) and it doesn't involve yeast or deep fryers.

(PS.  If you want to read more details about our diet,
my friend Linsey wrote an excellent post about it here.)

Cake Doughnuts 
2 C cake flour, sifted
1/4 C granulated sugar
2 t baking powder
small pinch of nutmeg
1 t salt
3/4 C buttermilk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 T butter, melted

Preheat oven to 425.
Spray doughnut pan with cooking spray
In mixing bowl combine all ingredients, beat until combined.
Fill each doughnut cup 2/3 full.
Bake 7-9 min.
Let cool in pan for 5 min. before removing

Chocolate Glaze
In microwave bowl combine 1/2 c semisweet choc. chips, 1/4 c whipping cream, 2 T butter
microwave 1 min. stir, microwave 30 sec more,
whisk in 3/4 c powdered sugar until smooth and 2 tsp light corn syrup