Tuesday, December 11, 2018


We had such a fun baking extravaganza this weekend!  My mom, a cousin from Indianapolis, two cousins from Ann Arbor, the kids and I all baked up a storm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

We made most of the family's traditional cookies; many of which my great-great grandparents brought with them when they emigrated from Germany. I have clear memories of making many of these with my mom and grandma when I was a little girl, though as a kid I was blissfully unaware of just how much work went into some of them.  
Some of the recipes are amazing. A couple are so old they still call for baker's ammonia, and others just seem like they would have taken an incredible amount of work. The springerles, for example, need to be beaten for 30 minutes. I can't even imagine doing that before the invention of the electric mixer. Even with a hand crank mixer - doing it for 30 minutes would get really old really fast. I guess that's what kids were for, and why these cookies must have been such a special treat. They definitely weren't something mom was just going whip up.

I'm listing what we made here so I'll remember who liked what.  The only bad thing about them is that we're enjoying them so much there may not be any left for Christmas!
Springerle - molded (and then dried overnight) traditionally flavored with anise; we also made lavender

Nuremburger - slightly citrus flavored rolled and cut cookie, decorated with sugar (the kids' favorite to decorate)

Chocolate nuts - meringue-based drop cookie made with chocolate and hazelnuts (my mom's favorite)

Zitronenherzen - lemon flavored, heart-shaped, glazed cookie made with almond flour (my son's favorite)

Zimtsterne - cinnamon flavored, star-shaped, meringue based cookie made with ground almonds and hazelnuts, topped with meringue
Mandelberg - meringue based, drop cookie made with slivered almonds (my daughter's favorite)

Scottish shortbread - baked in a ceramic mold as well as cut out; not German, but still a long-time family favorite  (Liz and Allen's favorite)

Friday, December 7, 2018

One Guess

One guess what's on my agenda for this weekend!

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Best Pancakes Ever!

Often in the fall, when the hotels close for the winter, they donate their leftover food to the school. Our school cook is amazing, but there are certain things she can't use. If containers have been opened or she can't be certain about expiration dates, she isn't allowed to serve the food. But if the items are still good, they are often shared with community members. 

I love it when she gets five pound containers of sour cream. (A container spoils before the cook can use the whole thing.) What could Liz possibly want with five pounds of sour cream, you ask. Why make pancakes, of course. And not just any pancakes mind you, sour cream pancakes - the best pancakes in the world!

They're literally the most delicious pancakes I've ever tasted; light, fluffy and super easy to make. The original recipe can be found here, but it doesn't make enough for a family of four. I double the recipe and it's just perfect.

 Sour Cream Pancakes
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 3/4 cup + 2 Tbs all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 whole large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • butter for frying
In a small bowl, whisk together eggs and vanilla. Set aside.In a separate small bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt.

In another bowl, stir together the sour cream with the dry ingredients until just barely combined (don't over mix.) Finally, whisk in the egg mixture until just combined.

Heat a griddle over medium-low heat and melt some butter in the pan. Drop batter by 1/4 cup scoops  onto the griddle. Cook on the first side until bubbles start to form on the surface and edges are starting to brown. Flip to the other side and cook for another minute or two. Don't worry if the pancakes seem off they will be a little on the soft side. Serve them with softened butter and syrup. Be prepared to get requests for these!

Monday, November 26, 2018

New Toy

Allen got me a Silhouette Cameo cutting machine for our anniversary and yesterday I finally felt confident enough, and had enough time, to play with it. (You know me, I had to read the manual and watch about 15 YouTube videos before I dove in.)

S and K each chose a design and now have brand new, customized shirts made with heat transfer vinyl. This thing is going to be so much fun. One guess which shirt is for the 12 year-old girl and which one is for the 14 year-old boy...

Sunday, November 25, 2018


Those may just look like random trash bags to you, but to me they look like a job well done. Yesterday, the kids and I spent several hours cleaning out their bedrooms. We were ruthless. Too small? No longer played with? Not particularly important? It all went into a bag. The bags (and boxes) above, are the donate pile. Next time I head to the mainland, those eight kitchen trash bags and three boxes full of toys, books, stuffed animals and clothes will go with me and get dropped off at Goodwill.

These five bags are the trash pile. If I learned anything yesterday, it's that both of my children are in desperate need trash cans for their bedrooms. 

It just feels so good to have crossed that job off the list.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018


Usually creepy crawly things don't really bother me. Often I pick them up and investigate them, but there was something about this bug that made me keep my distance.

Maybe it was because the thing was gigantic - over three inches long. (Those paper clips a the jumbo sized ones, not the typical-sized paper clip.) Then again, it could have been those huge eyes. I swear the thing moved its head and watched my hand every time I opened its box. It also could have been its giant arm-like legs.  It held them open - like it was just waiting for an opportunity to latch onto my finger.

Two of my students knew what it was,  "It's a toe biter. We see them sometimes in the Grand Pool. Well, not ones thaaaat big."

I refused to touch it, and I'm glad I did (I wouldn't let the kids touch it either.) Apparently there are five species of these giant water bugs that can be found in Michigan and they do bite. They inject toxic saliva that liquefies the tissues of their prey and causes paralysis. I kills the prey but we're so big, their bites just hurt like there's no tomorrow. Check this video out if you're curious.  (Skip ahead to about 13 min 30 seconds if you just want to see him get bitten.) And for the record - ours was every bit as big as that one.

I still haven't figured out what this thing was doing walking along the sidewalk near the high school entrance to our building in November. I'm really hoping we don't find any more, and I think I need to exchange the flip flops I usually wear when the kids and I explore in the summer time for a pair of closed-toe water shoes...

Thursday, November 8, 2018

So Glad

So glad I dove, head first, into yard work last weekend. 

It looks like we may end up with five to eight inches of snow this weekend. So thankful to have this off of my "To Do" list - cleaning up in the spring is so much easier when I do a clean up in the fall.