Saturday, August 30, 2008

I Did It!

I canned today - for the first time ever! The kids and I picked apples in a neighbor's yard yesterday so I made apple butter. It was so easy - you've got to try it. It's a small recipe so it was a good way for me to give canning a try. Here's the recipe:

Crock Pot Apple Butter

3 quarts apples (peeled and sliced thin)
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
3 cups sugar

Put the apples in the crock pot and cook them over night. (The directions said on high but the apples were burning, so I used low.) In the morning add the spices and sugar. Stir well and continue to cook all day. At some point in the day, strain the butter to get out any core bits you may have missed. Use the back of a spoon to squish the mixture through the screen to get that nice apple butter texture. If it seems too watery, just cook with the lid off for a couple of hours. I stirred every time I happened to walk by which was probably every two to three hours.

When you are happy with the texture go ahead and can, freeze, or whatever floats your boat.

Yield: 4 pints

I'd love to tell you where the recipe came from, but I can't remember where my husband found it. Sorry - it was online somewhere. K tried some on her bread tonight, but I think she prefers papa's honey. That's O.K. that just means that there's more for me...

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Any ideas?

How about now?

You guessed it - it is a crayon holder for a purse or diaper bag. The only down side is the minty fresh toothpaste residue masks the crayon smell. I use to love that smell - especially the first time I opened the new box of 64 crayons in September (you remember - the one with the built-in sharpener.)

My swap partner, Mama Bird, has inspired me to try to be a bit greener. I'm getting there - baby steps. Does anyone else have any good ideas for what to do with old toothpaste tubes?

Thank you all for the warm wishes for my day off; it was wonderful. I slept in, lounged in my jammies all day, sewed, watched a bit of TV, blared BNL, and had an absolutely divine time. I think my husband may have to make this a tradition!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Mama's Day Off

Actually it is about 40 hours and 45 minutes, but who's counting...

Today is my day off. My husband took the kids yesterday afternoon and isn't bringing them home until tomorrow. In the meantime I am going to be like that spider. I plan to hang out and do whatever I feel like doing (except for the munching on insects part - I'll pass on the flies, thanks.) No laundry, no cooking for other people, no cartoons - just me... Me in my jammies with some very loud Barenaked Ladies on the CD player doing whatever suits my fancy.

I hope you have a great day too...

Monday, August 25, 2008

Busy Busy Bees

Suit up...
pull out the frames and brush off the bees...

and snicker at the bumble bee who couldn't resist stealing just a bit.

Ogle at the 37 pounds, about 17 kg, of frame, wax, and liquid gold.
(Yup, the geek in me had to weigh it.)
Just a few more minutes...
now slice off the caps...
crank the extractor to spin the honey out of the frames...
It's almost ready.But first, filter out the wax and wings.
Finally, it's time to enjoy...
the first honey of the season. It was delicious!

My husband is the island's only beekeeper and he has yet to find any wild colonies. That means his bees have no competition...

The one shallow honey super (one of the two shorter boxes on the bee hive) he harvested yesterday yielded around 24 pounds (about 11 kg) of honey - that's two gallons (about 7.5 liters)! He's got at least one more to go; depending on the bees he may have a third! It's a good thing we are a honey loving family...

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Snack Time

We thought we were going to have a raspberry-free summer since someone, not the property owner, trimmed back all the raspberry bushes on the empty lot near our house. (Grumble grumble.) But look what we found while we were out walking the other day...The wild raspberries are out in the State Park and the kids and I had a great time snacking for a while. I think S ate half his weight in raspberries! K didn't care for the seedy texture, so she picked berries for the rest of us. (Thank you K!) This summer we tried to go off the island to pick raspberries and strawberries at local pick-yourself places, (Strawberries in Cheboygan and Raspberries in East Jordan,) but the crops were so poor this year, neither place had enough and were closed to self-pickers. You can imagine how excited we were to come across this patch only a 15 minute walk from home. NO walk to the boat feeling like an mule laden with stuff, no boat ride, no car trip - just a lovely stroll up near the highest point on the island.
Then we found another, though smaller, patch just around the corner from our house. (Nobody has trimmed those!) We've been snacking there every day or two now. The berry crop on the island is poor this year too. Usually my student, M, is able to get enough raspberries to make a pie (and invite her teacher over for dinner to enjoy it) - but not this year. That's O.K. we're content just to snack... There's nothing like a few raspberries to improve the mood of a grouchy napless toddler on the walk home from the sitter's house!

I hope you are enjoying the last fleeting days of summer as much as we are.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A Walk Down Memory Lane

Well, for me anyway...

A while back Jeanette over at Keep Me in Stitches tagged me for this meme, so I thought I'd play along.
Name: Elizabeth. That's all you get - just Elizabeth. Sorry - I'm just not comfortable giving my middle or last name out, given that I live in such a small town. I will tell you that no one calls me Elizabeth - not even my mother when she's made at me.

In kindergarten I discovered that all nine letters of Elizabeth took forever to write, but Liz was much quicker. So I'm Liz; all three-easy-to-write-block-letters Liz. That's my birth announcement. I was born in the US so why my dad used kilograms I don't know. (2.66 kg = 5 lbs 13 oz in case you were curious. I would be...)
Born: Grosse Pointe, Michigan. It is a suburb of Detroit. Grosse Pointe had fantastic schools and I'm so glad my parents decided to move there. Growing up in such a wealthy community when my family wasn't quite so wealthy was challenging at times, but getting to go to G.P. South High School made it so worth it! It is hard for me to believe my 20th reunion is coming up this November. (GPS always has them the Friday after Thanksgiving since many people will already be in town. )

Favorite Color: I love blue. Light blue, navy blue, colonial blue… you name it, I love it.

Favorite City: That is a tough one… there are lots of cities that I haven’t visited yet. Probably, right now, I would have to say Dublin, Ireland. I spent the summer there when I was 15 and spent a lot of time with my Uncle Bill and Aunt Felicity. They are both gone now… Dublin will always have a special place in my heart because it reminds me of them. (We use to walk over this bridge to get to my Uncle's shop.)

Photo credit:

Places I Want to Visit: Right now Colonial Williamsburg is at the top of my list.

Bad Habit: I have so many… Probably my worst one is being a big worrier - usually about things over which I have absolutely no control.

Favorite Animal
: I must admit, I am a turtle fan.

Past Love: hmmmmm… Not quite sure how to answer this one, so I won't...

First Job: babysitting at 12 – which was too young. Especially divorced parents who did not get along at all. The dad (the custodial parent) told me not to let the mom speak to the kids; take a message and tell her they'll call her back tomorrow. When I wouldn’t let her speak to the kids, she called the police. I was so scared when the police rang the bell and asked to see those kids. Needless to say I didn't babysit for that family again. That's me in elementary school - not twelve yet though. I couldn't find a middle school picture...

Current Job: I teach in a very small K-12 school on an island in Northern Michigan. I teach 4th - 7th grade math and science; so I have the combined 4th and 5th grade class (seven students) for half of the day and the combined 6th and 7th grade class (fifteen students) for the other half of the day. I love it. Tagging: Katie and Maggie

Monday, August 18, 2008

A Pirate on Horseback?

I'd like you all to meet Topaz...

He belongs to a friend of mine and she was kind enough to let S ride him this weekend in the 38th annual Island Horse Show. The island Horseman's Association and 4-H group do a great job working to keep horse culture alive and well on the island.

Since S is only three, he is too young to enter most of the events. However Lead Line and Costume Class have no age limit, so S entered both. In Lead Line the rider is simply lead around the ring seated on the horse, so no real skill is involved. S stole the show by waving to everyone the entire time he was in the ring. Lead Line is a great way to get kids interested in the show because they all get a blue first place ribbon - usually.

You'll notice that S doesn't have a blue ribbon, he's got a pink (5th place) ribbon. He told the judge and the lady handing out the ribbons that he liked pink and he hoped he could win a pink ribbon. "Pink is my faaaaaavorite," he said, and what do you know - that's what they gave him. How cool was that! Did it ever make his day...
The next event was Costume Class. It's simple - just dress you and your horse and be creative about it. We went with a pirate theme (though S would have preferred princesses,) since we already had the pirate costume I made from last Halloween. There were five other pretty impressive entries, but S managed to take a respectable 3rd place. The 3rd place ribbons are yellow, so S decided C (my friend's grandson, one of my students, and the boy leading S around the ring) should keep that ribbon.

In addition to the pink ribbon, S also won this little trophy for Lead Line. At first I didn't didn't think he was too excited about it. I knew I was wrong when he left his blankie on the floor last night and took the trophy to bed instead. Oh my sweet little boy...

I hope you all had a weekend full of fun and excitement too...

Friday, August 15, 2008


One of the nice things about living on the island is the sunsets, and we've been treated to some spectacular ones lately. Sometimes I find it difficult to just stop and be in the moment. There are just so many things to do: cook, clean, play, tend the gardens, sew... So lately I've been trying to slow down and appreciate the little things in life - like the sunsets.

This was from a walk home the other night.

This one is my favorite. I took it when my parents were here visiting and the kids and I met them down at the marina. This last one I took down at my parent's house near Petoskey, Michigan. They live out in farm country and often get pretty sunsets. The kids were in bed and it was wonderful to walk down the road just soaking in the evening - the scenery, the breeze, and the frog songs coming from the pond...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Naptime Productivity

Remember when I said I've been quite productive at nap time lately? Here's a peek at what I've been up to:

The rock candy isn't quite ready to eat yet. It needs another week or two...

Capri Sun pouches make great luggage tags. The ones with a clear back work well...

Another recycled bag...
This time out of an old pair of my husband's rain pants.
(This is a different pattern than before - each side of the bag is cut from one leg. I love how I was able to keep the pockets. Email me if you would like to know more about the pattern.)

Two matching hooded towels for my little ones to use at the pool...

And some gifts for one of our babysitters; she is due in November. Toddler bibs...
Burp cloths and a receiving blanket...

Have I mentioned that how much I love my serger?

Is anyone else out there having issuse with Blogger and hard returns or line spacing? I am and it is driving me crazy!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Follow the Road

The Roadshow that is... I have to tell you how impressed I was with Antiques Roadshow! De Voss Place in Grand Rapids was transformed into a well oiled machine for the day.
Each ticket had an entry time - ours was 8:00 am. We could get in line 30 minutes before your scheduled time. If you came early, you were stopped and told to wait. We got there a little past 7:30 so we walked right in. As you approached the head of the line your tickets were checked again and then you were taken to a group of tables for sorting. We were given three "jewelry" tickets for the jewelry items and one "tools and implements" ticket for my spinning wheel. Then we were taken onto the Antiques Roadshow set... (Sorry - no photography allowed.)

The set was round with an area for filming in the center. All around the outside of the circle were the appraisal tables. They had tables for everything: jewelry, pottery, glass, furniture, paper items, ceramics, toys and games, folk art, tools and implements, musical instruments, sports memorabilia, and more. I half expected to see an "everything else" table... Our guide walked us over to the "tools and implements" table where we waited in another line for our turn to speak with the appraiser.
After I put my spinning wheel up on the table, (its small - the wheel is smaller than a dinner plate,) he asked us what we knew about it. I explained that, according to family stories, it was brought over from Germany when my grandma's (yes, the new-hip lady) grandma's grandma came over in 1867. Supposedly her father had made it for her. She was a little girl when she came over, which explained why it was so small.

He agreed with the story... It was 1860s European - from the Black Forest region of either Germany or Switzerland and quite small. She said its small size was uncommon, but he doubted that it was homemade since it was too well made. He felt like a homemade item wouldn't have been turned so nicely or have bone/ivory pieces. I had been told the spinning wheel was rosewood, but he said no - instead he said is was beech and some kind of fruit wood. He also said that spinning wheels don't have a lot of value - that they are often more valuable to the family they came from. Final value - about $350, though we might see it go for twice that in a retail setting due to its small size. We have no plans on selling it, but it was really good to find out the family story was, in fact, true.

Except for the gold paint part... I got the wheel from my grandma's cousin, Jean, when she found out I knew how to spin. When she gave it to me she told me that it had been refinished in the 1940s when a family member borrowed it for his shop window display. Jean said her mother was furious when she walked by the store and saw he had painted it gold! The appraiser disagreed... He said he would be able to tell if it had been painted, that there would be signs - none of which he saw. He felt it had the original finish. (Sorry there is no photo. I would have to put it together again - not a good idea with toddlers around.)

Then is was on to another line to wait for the jewelry appraisers. We took a bracelet and broach set that belonged to my Great Grandma Nell:
Final word: 1890s, costume jewelry made of brass and glass, value $125-150 each. (The date tells me it must have belonged to Nell's mother or mother-in-law as Nell turned 11 in 1900.

A "thingy" that I inherited from my Grandfather Reyniear:
Final word: 1890s silver Scottish match safe with agate inlay, made in England, value $150. The age of this piece and the fact it is Scottish tells me it actually came from my Grandma Lilly's family (married to Reyniear.) She came over from Scotland when she was a little girl. The date tells me it probably belonged to her father...

The last thing we took was a set that belonged to my Grandma Lilly: Final word: 1930s, 10K white gold with artificial aquamarine (aka glass) and man-made pearls (aka fake.) Designed to look like the popular platinum and aquamarine pieces of the day. A step above costume jewelry due to the use of gold but only worth $125-150 each.

That well oiled machine had us packed up and walking out the door by 9:30 am. Pretty good considering the throngs of people who were there. You know, I really don't care about how much my spinning wheel and the jewelry are worth- they are family pieces and I have no plans on selling them - it was just fun to go and be a part of the Antiques Roadshow experience. Even waiting in the lines was fun. I loved looking at everyone else's treasures. It will be interesting to watch the Grand Rapids show (which will air in January 2009) and see if any of the treasures we saw made it into the show.