Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thankful for Small Town Fun

The other night, we went to the Boyne City Santa Parade. I love the Santa Parade - while it may be too cold and snowy for Great Grandmas it is perfect for toddlers. There is ample parking close by, free hot cocoa and cookies at several local businesses and the entire parade lasts about 20 minutes. You've got to love small town life!

I suppose we could have stayed after the parade to visit Santa and go on a horse-drawn hayride, but when you live on an island full of horses and get pulled by them regularly, driving through town in your minivan looking at Christmas lights is much more fun. Plus, Santa will visiting the island next weekend for the Christmas Bazaar - S and K can visit with him then.

My month of thankful thoughts has come to an end. This November I tried to stop and think about all the wonderful things in my life that I appreciate and I hope I've inspired you to do the same...

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thankful for Family

We had an unusual Thanksgiving this year... Great Grandma Mary (doesn't she look great?) took us all out to eat on Thursday. My husband offered to cook, but Grandma decided she would rather eat here. I must admit, I'm glad she did (though my husband is an amazing cook - much better than me!) Eating out meant no shopping, no cooking all day, and best of all - no clean-up! Dinner was great: the food was fantastic (except for the stuffing - which my dad and I agreed needed a lot more sage,) my amaretto sour was perfect, and the kids were well behaved. Plus, I got to sit next to grandma. It is hard to believe she just turned 88. We teased her that soon we'll be planning her 100th birthday celebration.

I am so glad that my children have gotten to know her. She is an amazing lady. I have learned so much from her and not just embarrassing stories about my mother. (Like the time she pushed her brother out of a second story window, or when she got a D in algebra.) Through Grandma's example I learned the importance family and why getting an education is worth the time and effort. And how writing down the stories of one's life is an amazing gift to give one's family. Thanks Grandma, for everything. I love you.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Thankful for Quiet Time

I'm trying hard to be thankful today...

The other day I finally finished the borders on this quilt. Yeah! I was all ready to sandwich it together and start quilting, but I discovered I miscalculated the size of the finished quilt and my backing and batting were about four inches too short! Aaarrrggghhhhhhhhh. So now I guess I will be ordering a king size batt and more backing fabric. The up side is this is the first top I have made since my children were born and I'm pretty excited about it. Though now that I look at the photo on the pattern I wish I had used more yellow, but oh well.

I've been getting better at making time for myself lately, and taking advantage of my husband's wonderful offers to "go sew, I'll put the kids to bed," so I've been quite productive lately. Also, my mom (who just moved to EGYPT - more on that another time) said I can use her Bernina with a stitch regulator (my older model doesn't have one) to quilt it and that is going to be a lot of fun. I am so looking forward to trying it out!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Thankful For Books

Did you know sea monkeys enjoy a good book every now and then? I didn't know either. Apparently pop-up books, like this one, are their favorite. Just ask my daughter, K. She asked me to get the little guys down from the shelf tonight just so she could read to them. It just made my book-loving heart melt...

It's scenes like these that tell me I'm doing the right thing with my children when it comes to limiting TV and reading to them / encouraging them to "read" often. She must enjoy hearing stories to assume her sea monkeys would like them as well. The Big Bug Book is her favorite right now - she "reads" it several times a day. If you have a little one in the house you may want to check it out.

I was supposed to be reading Twilight this weekend, but my friend forgot to bring it to work today. Oh well. I suppose I'll live if I can't read it until next week. Besides, without the book consuming my time I'll be able to spend more time on the ornament tutorial I've been working on.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Thankful for my Home

With the economy the way it is and all the foreclosures I hear about on the news, I am thankful for my home. We built it on the island just about four years ago. (Though I have lived here, year round, for the past 16 years.) In fact they set the house on the foundation on Halloween 2004, but we didn't move in until New Year's Eve.

You may be wondering what "set the house on the foundation" means. Many of the homes on the island are prefabricated. That means large pieces of the house are built on the mainland and then brought over and assembled on the island.That's what we did; here's how we did it...

First we had a large hole dug on the lot for the basement. Full basements are rare on the island, but I am so glad we have one - where would I keep all my crap, I mean stuff? Next we hired a mason to build the block foundation. Luckily out land was all pea gravel. If we had hit bedrock a basement would have been out of the question.

Next the pieces of the house were loaded onto a barge for the three mile trip across the straits to the island. Actually the pieces were built in southern Indiana and then trucked to Escanaba, Michigan, where the finishing was done (drywall, cabinets, etc.) Then the house was driven to the boat dock and ferried across the lake to the island. We joke and say we have a very well traveled house...

There are the first three pieces patiently waiting on the dock before being hauled up to their future home (no pun intended.) I had to work that day, but luckily my dad volunteered to ride on the barge with the house and take pictures.

Eventually that (the photo below) became the first floor back of the house. Pretty hard to tell right now, huh.

The loons were quite curious about the whole thing, too.

Here comes the last piece...

The crane picked it up, swung it over...

and lowered it into place. Viola! instant house.

OK, it wasn't really an "instant house," but almost. The roof had to be finished, the porch had to be built, and the interior needed work. There were no stairs, and the four pieces had to be joined together and then the drywall finished, the flooring laid, etc.

You may be wondering, why not just build the house from scratch? People don't often do that on the island due to the expense. It is much cheaper to build a modular home. When building this way there is one vehicle permit, and one freight charge by the boat line instead of constant dray (horse drawn wagons) and freight bills for delivering building supplies to the sight. The horses are limited on the size loads they can carry, so delivering supplies to the building site is a huge cost on the island. So huge that my husband looked into hiring a helicopter to bring the supplies over. Pretty scary that the cost was about the same as the dray and boat charges would have been! Looking back on the whole experience, if I were to build again, I would do it the exact same way. Though I probably wouldn't choose to build a house and have a baby all within the same two month period. What were we thinking?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

I'm Thankful it's Snowing

I, for one, am ready for some snow...

It snowed for a few minuted this afternoon while I was baking a pie. (A delicious apple pie from scratch - not something I do very often.) While the snow didn't stick, that little dusting means winter is one step closer to Northern Michigan. 99% of the leaves are off the trees, all of the gardens are mulched, senior citizen transports have begun (on the island in the winter, those 58 and older can get rides from the Police in the Jeep,) downtown is completely deserted, and it is getting colder every day. Except for the snow, winter is pretty much here. (Isn't that snowflake photo amazing? If you like it, you can find a bunch more here.)

Before you decide I am completely insane for actually wanting snow, remember, I rarely have to drive in it, I don't have a driveway to shovel, and snow on the ground means I can hop on my snowmobile any time I want to. Snow means no more riding my bike or walking on icy roads. I must admit, however, I do have a love-hate relationship with my snowmobile. I hate the smell of the exhaust and I hate how loud it is, but I love being able to hop on my trusty Polaris and zip to where ever I need to go. When you live on an island where cars are illegal and you do everything on a bicycle or on foot, most of the year "zipping" is not an option. As soon as mother nature decides to blanket us with the white stuff, I plan to be zipping quite a bit. I guess I'd better go dig the helmets out of the basement and bring them upstairs. Who knows, tomorrow might be the day...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Thankful for Sticky Fingers

Despite the fact that I am deathly afraid of getting stung, I am very thankful for my husband's honey bees. I adore honey and I consider myself lucky that I get to enjoy their hard work all winter long. My husband, A, jokes that he is the largest employer on the island, and that all 80,000 of his workers are women...

One of my favorite things to use their yummy honey on is Three Corn Bread- it's delicious and super easy. I got the recipe from one of the parents at school last year. She brought a batch into school on Teacher Appreciation Day and I've been hooked ever since...

Three Corn Bread

1 stick of butter
1 cup of sour cream or plain yogurt
1 egg
1 can of corn, drained
1 can cream style corn
2 small boxes of Jiffy Mix Corn Bread or similar corn bread mix

Directions: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cream butter and sour cream (or yogurt) together in a large bowl. Beat in the egg. Next mix in the cans of corn. Finally mix in the boxes of Jiffy Mix corn bread mix. Place in a greased pan and bake for 45 - 55 minutes.

I usually bake mine in a large cast-iron skillet. I put it into the oven when I turn it on so it is hot by the time I am ready to bake. When I pour the batter into the hot greased pan it sizzles a bit. That gives it a nice crust on the bottom and sides. I have not had good luck baking this in glass- it tends to be a bit mushy.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Employed and Thankful

The bell tower on the island school

With the economy the way it is, I'm quite thankful that I have a good job in an industry that will won't go out of business. I've taught at my school for 16 years and have enough seniority now that even a drop in enrollment probably wouldn't cause me to lose my job. Which is a good thing when you tend to be a worrier like I am. A friend of mine recently lost her job, and my heart aches for her...

Friday, November 7, 2008

Thankful for High School

Today I am thankful I had parents who valued education, and made sure I got a good one. Sounds cheesy, I know, but it's true. I was lucky enough to to go to a really good high school and it's gotten me thinking about the fact that my 20th reunion is coming up in a few weeks. (Can I be that old?)

It's got me totally nostalgic for the 80s. So I, like thought I'd, like, take a walk down memory lane...

This is how I started the 80s. Lovely aren't I? I was 10...

By the time I entered high school in 1984, I was deep in the throws of 80's fashion. I desperately wanted Guess Jeans - with a button fly. Which was a big deal considering that they were $65.00 a pair back then. And all my money came from babysitting at about $1.50 - $2.00 an hour. That's a lot of babysitting for one pair of pants.

And of course who would be seen in public without pegged jeans. I mean come on! (For the record, that is not my foot. - I do not have a Roman toe.)

And of course, what preppy 80s girl would wear anything other than Reebok high-top aerobic shoes? In white. They had to be white. The black ones were, like so gay. (At least that's what I told my mom.)

My favorite TV show of the 80s was The Monkees. MTV aired every episode starting in February of 1986, and yes, I taped every one. (Yeah, I was geeky then too.) I wasn't in love with Davey though- I liked Micky; he made me laugh. Mike was a close second...

I wasn't as into music as a of of my friends were back then, but I have vivid recollections of watching Live Aid on TV in 1985. Bob Geldof, one of the organizers, was Irish and we were living in Dublin that summer. I remember having a ton of people over and all of us crowding around the little TV in the living room. Everyone went crazy when U2 was on, and the funniest part was that my mom didn't understand why. (U2 is an Irish band.)

My favorite movie of the 80's - Ferris Bueller's Day Off. I am proud to say that I never skipped school - not once. Well, not unless you count the times Mr. Blain, my high school auto shop teacher, told us to take both lunch periods. I wonder if it had anything to do with the fact that I was the first female student Mr. Blain had ever had...
Thinking about it now reminds me I've got to add that to my NetFlix list...

Another favorite from the 80s - my prom dress (and my date.)

I picked the pattern and the fabrics and my mom made the dress. I loved it, partially because my class color was pink. I loved my date, too. - his name was Jon. He went to U of M, while I went to MSU, and somehow we managed to stay friends. Jon and I still talk occasionally and I still have the dress...

Here I am at the end of my 80s experience. (Well almost - I graduated from high school in 1988.) Older, wiser, and better looking than I was in the beginning - despite those awful glasses. Most of my friends took their glasses off in their senior pictures, but I decided to leave mine on. I wore them every day and I just didn't feel right not wearing them. Besides, now my kids will have something to tease me about.

I'd love to offer you all a lovely gift for stopping by, but I think they stopped making these about 20 years ago. What could beat a Swatch Watch? I wanted one so badly in 10th grade. I think Santa brought me a Casio instead.

Photo Credits:

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Thankful #4

I am so thankful that I live where I do. The little island where I live has such amazing natural beauty, I just can't imagine living anywhere else. Even when I have to ride my bike uphill in the pouring rain to get home, or when I have to walk a mile to work in a blizzard when it is -25 F (about -31 C) because my snowmobile wouldn't start, I love living where I do...

How about you - what are you thankful for today?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Thankful on Election Day

Today I am thankful I live in a country where I have the right to vote. My Great-Grandma Nell was born in 1889, so she didn't have the right to vote until she was 31. My Grandma Mary was born in 1920, the year women "got the vote" as she puts it. I exercised that right today - as I have in every election since I turned 18.

I'm thankful I don't have to wear a burka, have my husband's permission to travel, or have to worry about the secret police breaking down my door in the middle of the night. And while I don't think the United States is perfect, I certainly am thankful and proud to call this nation home.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Twice As Thankful

Every day I give thanks for my children. My son, S, is 4 and my daughter, K, is 2 1/2. They light up my life and make me smile every day. For years I didn't think I would ever have children and now I can't imagine not having them.

(S a few minutes old)

We tried for two years to conceive S, but I was pregnant with K the very first month we tried. S wanted to come out six weeks early. K on the other hand was pleased as punch to wait for the scheduled C-section to make her appearance. S was a quiet happy baby while K had reflux and was horribly colicky until we discovered infant Zantac. S didn't nurse well while K was a nursing champ. Such different beginnings...

(K just a few minutes old)

Looking back, though, I wouldn't change a thing. (OK, except for the reflux part.) The older they get, the more I enjoy my time with them. Each day brings new adventures, new squabbles, new discoveries, and new messes. And I enjoy every one, I mean most, of them. I can't imagine my life any other way...

Sunday, November 2, 2008


This month I am going to try to focus on all the things in my life that I tend to take for granted, but that I really do appreciate. Starting with...

My husband, to which (as of today,) I have been married for 13 years. Jokingly I sometimes say, "The happiest eight of my life," but that isn't true. I am sincerely thankful for him, all that he does, and how supportive he is of me.

So here's to you honey. I love you and look forward to our future years together.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Family Affair

It was beautiful here in Northern Michigan this afternoon. Sunny, warm, and perfect for spending some time outside. Everyone got in on the action. Grandma dug holes faster than I could fill them with tulip and daffodil bulbs, while Papa and the kids raked leaves. We also cut back all the perennials, mulched the roses, and raked out all the flower beds. My back is a bit achy tonight but it sure feels good to have that all done. Winter is welcome to stop by any time now. What are you up to this weekend?