Monday, December 31, 2012

Winter Tourists

We love them, but they make us giggle. Only tourists have coats and snow pants that match their snowmobiles. (Sometimes they even have matching helmets.) Usually we only get snowmobile tourists after we have an ice bridge, but this year we've has a few bring their machines over on the boat.

This gentleman, Hank, was very gracious. He let me take his picture even though when he asked why I wanted to take his picture I giggled and told him I didn't want to tell him until after I took it. He smiled, posed, and then chuckled as I pointed out how not one of the islanders driving down the street matched their snowmobile. My husband is now trying to figure out how hard it would be to get his snowmobile painted Carhartt brown... 

Friday, December 21, 2012


I know virtually everyone was unhappy about the gigantic storm that hit the mid-west yesterday. But, I've got to tell you, many of us on Mackinac Island are thrilled! We had a few days of snow back in late November and early December, but by the end of the Christmas Bazaar we were back on our bicycles. You can imagine how happy we were to hear that a "huge storm" was heading our way carrying with it 10 glorious inches of snow (about 25 cm.) Remember, most of us don't have to drive in it.

So I walked to school on Friday morning, watched it rain during most of the morning, and by the end of the day my husband was able to pick me up on the snowmobile. We went from mud and grass to a beautiful winter wonderland in less than 12 hours. 

Though they did end up canceling the last boat of the day on Thursday due to the storm and a few folks did get stranded on the Mainland, and then on top of that, the power in St. Ignace went out for three hours. And because of all the heavy wet snow lots of tree branches broke, so the fire department was out half the night  cutting trees and clearing the roads. (Thanks guys!) I suppose if I had to deal with all that, this post would have ended up being quite different. Thankfully, I was happily snuggled on my couch, reading under a warm fleece blanket. It was always one of my biggest fears that I would get stranded on the mainland, in the middle of winter, with a toddler and no clean clothes or diapers. Luckily it only happened once and then it was only for four or five hours and not overnight.

Now I just hope it stays cold enough for the snow to stick around...

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Halloween 2012: Little Brown Bat

He was so happy with how his costume turned out. My husband found the original idea here. I actually liked their more anatomically correct wing better, but I couldn't imagine my son being able to carry the 10+ pounds (about4.5 kg) of candy he would get that night with the wings sticking out past his hands. He made my day when he first looked over the costume and noticed the lines of stitching on the ears. He looked at me and said, "Nice detail mom. Good job." Such a sweetheart...

If you decide to follow the first tutorial above, measure the length of your child's arm first and shorten the umbrella appropriately. I didn't and just went ahead and used the full length of the spines of the umbrella. Even thought it was a small folding umbrella it was still much too big for my eight year-old's arms. I had to shorten the spines considerably. After cutting the spines and serging the raw edges of the umbrella fabric (it really started to fray,) it worked perfectly, and he had a ton of fun flying through the neighborhood on Halloween night.

Yes, we weighed the candy and he had every bit of ten pounds, as did his sister. Friends of ours, who have five children at home, came home with a total of 58 pounds (about 26 kg.)  It wouldn't surprise me at all if they were still getting Halloween treats in their lunch boxes!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Oh Happy Day!

As you know, I'm an early bird. My husband is a night owl, so you can imagine my surprise when I awoke to this amazing breakfast on our anniversary. Fresh fruit, crepes, coffee and candlelight - such a nice way to begin our 17th year together. Thanks honey, I love you...

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Christmas Bazaar 2012

This past weekend was a busy one - the kids, my mom and I spent lots of time down at the Island's annual Christmas Bazaar. So much to do, so little time...

The weather didn't really cooperate with us over the weekend and we lost all of our snow, but everyone had a good attitude and rode bikes to and from Community Hall.

As usual, the Bazaar had something for everyone: food, friends, treasures for sale, baked goods, auctions... 

the rummage sale (held in the fire hall,) 

and of course, Santa! By the time he reaches Mackinac Island, the reindeer need a rest. They kick back at the stables with their horse friends while the fire department makes sure Santa arrives at the Bazaar on time.

The kids love going outside, listening to the sirens and watching him climb down from the truck.

This year, for the first time, my daughter wanted to take a list with her. She wanted to be sure she didn't forget anything.  So, of course, the older brother had to take a list, too. Hopefully they won't be too disappointed when they don't find ipods in the bottom of their stockings. (My daughter won't find the $100 bill that was on her list either.)

You may remember a few years ago when HGTV came to the island to film the Christmas Bazaar.  This year Under the Radar Michigan was here. (The episode should air on PBS on April 6, 2013.) We didn't see them filming, so I doubt either the kids or I will be in it. Now, I need to crash - it's Tuesday and I'm still beat. Christmas Bazaar weekend is usually so crazy busy, that I feel like I need an additional weekend to recuperate!

How about you, what did you do this weekend?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Moonset over Mackinac

I took this picture Thursday morning before school as the moon was setting off the West Bluff. Such a pretty morning. Friday morning was cloudy, so I couldn't see the moon.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Just Barely

On Mackinac Island this morning, we woke to a beautiful blanket of white snow. It probably won't last, and it really is just barely enough, but the kids were thrilled to hop on with Papa for a quick ride to town. Keep your fingers crossed that we'll get more tonight...

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Mackinac Moment

We woke to fog on Saturday morning. It made for a beautiful walk as we headed to town for the first boat off the island. My daughter chatted away happily as the two of us walked together, while my son and husband discussed their current set of audio books - the Underland Chronicles by Suzanne Collins. They walked behind us so I couldn't hear their conversation - since I haven't read the books yet. It's killing my son not to reveal all he knows, but he's trying...

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Gales of November

Have you ever been up to the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum on Whitefish Point? I've lived up here for 20 years now, and this fall was my first trip to the museum.

We took all of our elementary kids up there on a field trip recently and they all really loved it.  For many of them the bell from the Edmond Fitzgerald was the highlight of the trip. It was cool, but I thought the two-ton Fresnel lighthouse lens that floated on liquid mercury (for virtually friction-free rotation) was also pretty amazing.

We also got to visit this place, which happens to be right across the street from the museum. I can't wait to bring my two little ones back next spring during the raptor migration. An afternoon at the museum and an evening of owl banding sounds right up our alley...

Sunday, November 4, 2012

More Fleecy Goodness

One day this past summer, I needed to stop at the fabric store. I try not to
drag,I mean take, my children into the fabric store because we all end up having a dreadful time. But on this particular day I was in desperate need of something and I wasn't going to be off the island again for a while, so we just had to stop. As we walked past the fleece to get to whatever it was that I needed, my daughter asked, "Will you make a me a kitty blanket? I love kitties."

I replied with a quick, "I don't know honey. Enough fleece to cover your whole bed would be expensive."

"But Mama, I only want a little blanket to snuggle with." And then she pointed to the big red sign and said, "I think it's on sale Mama. That 'S' word says sale, doesn't it?" How was I supposed to argue with that! So, of course, we left the store with 60 inches (a little more than two meters) of buttery soft kitty fleece to make a little square blanket for her to snuggle with. When we got home I rounded the corners with a dinner plate and used my serger to finish around the edges.

We also picked out some fabric to match my son's bedroom. I mean, come on - I would have been in big trouble if he hadn't gotten him a blanket as well. It's been so chilly in the house this fall, I've been glad we have them. Fleece is no nice and cozy to snuggle under, don't you think...

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Fleecy Goodness

It's been so chilly here these past few days, I had to make myself some new fleece socks. I tend to live in my Birkenstocks when I am in the house, so warm socks are a must. My daughter is perfectly happy running around a 65 degree  house (about 18 degrees C) in just her undies, but my old feet just can't take it. Really, none of me can take it - I'm always wearing a fleece or sweater or something when I'm home.  I get cold just watching her...

Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Haunted Birthday Treat

Is there a better way to spook your teacher than
with creepy crawly cupcakes? I don't think so.

Friday, October 19, 2012


Every fall we try to make the pilgrimage to our friends' annual fall hoedown. It is so much fun - partially due to the fact that they have a gaggle of kids. OK, only don't quite have a gaggle - just five. And let me tell you, they are five of the most wonderful kids you can imagine - even the teenagers. Anyway, my two little ones love going to down to the Reed's because it is always so much fun! And the fun just isn't playing and hanging out with friends, oh no. There's so much to do! Want to go on a hayride? OK, Mr. Reed may just take you on three or four of them.

Are you getting cold? No problem. There's a nice toasty fire going down near the front yard. Head down there to warm up for a while.

Or, you could hang up in the garage and dance to some great music provided by the Easy Idle String Band. If you'd rather just listen, that's OK, too.

Are you hungry? Grab a bite to eat from the desert table between dances and then go dive into the Corn Box. Yes, that's right, the Corn Box. (Picture a big sand box, perhaps six feet (about one meter) square and 12 inches  (about 30 cm) deep and then fill it with dry corn. The kids loved it! The only down side is my friend, Lisa, is going to find corn all over her house for the next six months.) 


Need a break from the corn? No problem. Walk down to the barn and check to see if there are any eggs. And while you're there, stop and visit with the ducks.

And that's just the start. There were sheep to visit, donuts to eat, baby chicks to play with and beads to string. We've been home for a week and the kids are still talking about how much fun they had.

Oh yeah, and I'm still finding corn in the bottom of the washing machine...

Monday, October 8, 2012

A Haunted House Birthday

Our dining room has been a wee bit haunted lately

because my son requested a "Haunted House Party" for his birthday this year. Of all the parties I've done, this one was probably the easiest. I bought two of these from Oriental Trader to drape over the windows, a ton of Halloween spider webs from the Dollar Store, and covered all the furniture in the room with white sheets. (Thank goodness his birthday is in the fall rather than in, say, May.) The banner you see on the china cabinet (it says Happy Haunting) can be downloaded here. I just stitched the pieces into a length of double fold bias tape.

My husband and our friend, Miranda, made my son's cake. Very spooky, don't you think? I think my favorite part was the sugar windows - they looked amazing when lit by candlelight from behind. (My husband found the cake recipe and pattern  here.)

Of course we had to have the traditional new birthday napkins and crazy place card holders. This year they were vampire teeth spray painted silver. The font I used for the names is Magic School - you'll find it here. The vampire teeth and all the little spiders were also from Oriental Trader.

I did a lot of spray painting for this party. Back in July I started searching thrift shops for old candle holders and by early September I had 20 or so and was ready to paint. Each one got a couple coats of basic black and then a coat or two of this stuff in aged iron. Basically it made the candle holders look like they were made out of stone. I bought the cheapest candles I could find, let them burn an hour or two the night before the party (helping the drips along with an additional candle,) and the table looked great the next day. 

I used candle holders made out of wood, glass and metal. None of them were primed - I just went to town with the paint. If you want to replicate these, just remember you need to use a base coat of black first. I tried using the texturizer first - without black underneath and it didn't work.  I used an entire can of the stuff and it still hadn't covered up the original color of the candle holders. So I grabbed a can of black from the basement, did a base coat of that and then used the texture. I did spend about $30.00 on all of them, plus another $12.00 or so on the paint, but I'm sure I'll get them out and reuse them every year for Halloween. I probably wouldn't have spent all that if they had been just for the birthday party, but since I'll reuse them I didn't mind.

Now he's engulfed in Halloween spirit and is chomping at the bit to dig out the outside Halloween decorations. Mama just needs to find some energy...

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Mackinac Moment

Mornings on Mackinac Island have been stunning lately. I snapped this at about 7:45 on Friday morning from Windermere Point. It was so quiet and still - with that fall chill in the air...

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Classroom Redo: Chair


My desk chair as she use to be: gray, plain, and utilitarian. She was fine as chairs went, quite comfortable in fact, but she was just so boring. Well, not any more!

I recovered her in a lovely lime green. (Well, I think it's lovely.) Lime green with hot pink trim. As cute as that piping looks, it actually was a necessity.  After removing the hardware from the back of the chair, I had to get the two pieces apart. They were joined together with four plastic rivet-like thingies that I  had to cut with an old long serrated bread knife. The plastic pieces were meant to be permanent, so there was no way to replace them. As I was searching for suggestions on recovering office chairs, I found a woman who shared her frustration at not being able to get the two pieces back together as tightly as they were originally. She didn't like the small gap left between the two them.  (I wish I could remember where so I could give her credit.)

I thought piping would do a good job at covering up that space. The two pieces are screwed and glued together, but they are not was snug as they once were. I'm so glad that  little pop of color does a great job of hiding that fact. What do you think?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Best Year Ever

Two weeks? Really? We've been back at school for two weeks? I feel like I've blinked, and in the millisecond my eyes were closed, those weeks have whizzed by. Do you ever feel like that? I have clear memories of those weeks,  but I'm not sure where they went.  Then again, I kind of feel that way about my teaching career. This fall I started my 20th year. I have clear memories of those 20 years, but it certainly doesn't feel like 20 years. Guess I'm officially a "veteran" teacher now.

My school year is off to a pretty fantastic start, I've got to tell you. I'm teaching a combined 4th and 5th grade group this year and have the privilege of working with 13 of the most amazing kids I've ever met. They're going to achieve great things this year; I can feel it.

My two little ones are off to a great start as well. My daughter, pictured above, is so excited to go to school all day this year now that she's a big first grader. My son, now a second grader, has moved up into the 2nd-3rd grade classroom and is loving his new teacher...

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Excursion: Round Island

We have been wanting to get over to Round Island all summer. The weather and waves were perfect this morning, so we borrowed a friend's boat and made the mile trip in no time. 
There was so much to do the kids couldn't
decide what to do first.

Should we explore the lighthouse?

Smash rocks?

Or find new friends?

 We were only on Round Island for a few hours,
but we had a great time.

The kids were disappointed that the door to the lighthouse was locked. (Surprise surprise.) I suggested we come back next year for the Open House, which is usually the second Saturday in July. Until then, I temporally satisfied their curiosity with this: