Saturday, August 28, 2010

Mackinac: Where Horse is King

Both my children have been taking riding lessons through the 4-H program here on Mackinac and they love it.

I love that they are not just learning how to ride but how to take care of a horse as well. Horses are more than just riding - they're a lot of work!

My son loves riding the horse,

but my daughter loves telling the horse what she wants it to do.

Luckily Blaze is the prefect little horse for them to learn on, and their teacher, Leanne, has been fantastic. Riding has been one of the best parts of our summer. Sadly, tomorrow will be their last lesson. But Blaze will be on the island all winter, so I am fairly certain we'll stop by the barn occasionally with a carrot or two...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Homemade Button Storage

I am just in love with my new "button storage system."
(I know, I sound like an infomercial.)
It all started when we were clearing out my grandmother's apartment. My mother already had a wine rack, so she offered grandma's to me. Add in a $10.00 box of wide mouth, quart-sized Ball jars, some circles cut out of card stock, some double sided tape and viola!

Neatly organized buttons.

No more sorting through zip-locks for me. Plus, I love that every time I look at the rack on my shelf, it reminds me of my grandmother. Though, to be completely honest, I have more buttons than will fit in the rack and I did have to liberate a few of my husband's empty honey jars. I say I need another rack, but my husband thinks I just need fewer buttons. Despite my admitted hoarding tendencies, I do use them - every pair of mittens I make gets at least two buttons.

If you have an old wine rack laying around, and don't want to spend any money on jars, the large size Wal-Mart peanut butter jars fit in my rack as well. I was just so excited to organize that I couldn't wait. We go through a lot of peanut butter, but it would have taken quite a while for me to collect that many.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


Thankfully, we still have two weeks of summer vacation here on Mackinac Island. And yes, we plan to savor every minute. There are kites to watch, fudge to eat, bugs to catch, horses to ride and more rocks than we can throw in a lifetime. Summer's been good to us this year -

so very good...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

May I Borrow...

Borrowing things is quite common here on Mackinac Island. We all know each other so well and every one of us has been in a pinch at one time on another. On more than one occasion I have borrowed eggs and other ingredients from a neighbor when I didn't have enough to complete something. So I was not surprised when one of the island bakeries called me the other day hoping to borrow some powered sugar. (I am good friends with a number of the employees there and they knew I'd help if I could.) Their sugar was coming over on the boat later in the day, but they had cakes to make and needed the sugar that morning.

"No problem, I'm sure I've got some sugar. You're welcome to it; how much do you need?"

"Well," she said, "a lot. Four pounds would be good, but six would be better."

"O.K.," I said, "I'll run down to basement and see how much I've got."

Only on Mackinac Island would a normal person have six pounds of powdered sugar in their pantry! My hoarding, I mean preparedness, pays off again. Though I do have to admit, six pounds of powered sugar is probably more than I really need...

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

Meet Anna. She's a cutie, I know. According to my five and a half year-old her name is pronounced Ah-na, with the emphasis on the first syllable. (He's very particular and I know you'd want to get it right.) We caught her and four of her siblings (named Le-le, Lu-lu, Fi-fi, and Nemo) at the pond in front of Mission Point Resort back in early June. The pond use to be part of a small cove years ago, but when the lake levels dropped it was cut off from the lake and the pond was born. It was loaded with tadpoles this spring.

Anna's a big grown-up frog now, tail almost gone, breathing air and ready to live on her own.

Don't worry, we'll still be keeping tabs on her. She's only moving into our neighbor's pond. We'll be able to visit her anytime we want. And when we can't find her because, of course, her chances of survival aren't that good, I've got my reasons all ready: she's taking a little rest, she's visiting friends over in the garden, she's off looking for yummy bugs for [insert meal name here], and my personal favorite - she's playing hide and seek with us!)

Soon, it will be time for her sisters to join her. To be honest, we didn't sex the tadpoles so we don't know they are girls; we aren't even sure what species they are. It's just that in my son's eyes if it doesn't have very visible penis, it must be a girl. Makes sense to me. (I wish I had known that male frogs don't have penises when we had that discussion - I would have liked to hear my son's response. Perhaps we'll discuss it at dinner tonight.)

Good luck little frog. We've enjoyed getting to know you...

Sunday, August 8, 2010


Now that my grandma has moved into an assisted living apartment, she didn't have room to keep all her stuff. She had an estate sale when she moved up north a number of years ago so she had already gotten rid of lots, but she still had quite a few mementos from her lifetime of travels. Mementos like this little iron cannon.

According to my mom, my grandma and grandpa picked it up in the 1950s during a summer they spent living in Mexico. Grandma even had the gun powder container it came with, with the price still on it - six pesos. Six pesos in today's currency is about fifty cents; makes me wonder what the cannon cost in those days.

I have very fond memories of firing it from Grandma's front porch on New Year's Eve. So when it needed a new home I immediately asked if my house was an option. Of course, as soon as we got back to the island we had to test it. It is such a little cannon, we didn't realize quite how loud it was going to be. It sure packs a wallop!

Now we just have to decide what memories to build with it for our family. New Year's Eve? Good report cards? So many possibilities...

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


You know it is really darn hot when your husband drops into the kiddie pool after his walk home. If I hadn't been holding my camera I probably would have joined him.

I may not be ready for school to start, but I am ready for the cooler temperatures fall will bring.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Maker Faire Detroit 2010

Fun For All Ages

The Maker Faire Detroit was a fantastic event. You may remember we went to the Mini Maker Faire last summer, but this year's event was much bigger. Don't for a minute think this was just an event for adults. My little ones (almost six and four) loved it! They held on from 9:30 am until 4:30 pm and behaved quite well. I'd love to credit my above average parenting skills, but it really has more to do with the Maker Faire holding their attention. OK, and snacks. I did bring a well packed stroller; nothing brings out the grumpies in our family like low blood sugar.

The day began perfectly because both kids got their own tickets - that they could hold. Having something to hold makes the 45 minute wait until the gate opens much more bearable. (And before all my friends think it was me that had us there 45 minutes early, you're wrong. This one was all my husband!)

There was stuff for kids everywhere! At the Kid Robot's Wrecklab they had tools and electronics for kids to take apart.

There were robots everywhere.

Some of them the kids could even try out.

After making this little fella scoop up wiffle balls, shoot them at a target and then return to his parking spot, each child earned a driver's license to wear for the rest of the day. Then, all day long people commented on how the kids had them - which, of course, they loved.

The Lifesize Mousetrap game was also popular. Especially when the safe hit the mini van and we could feel it through the ground 40 feet away.

My daughter loved the arduino powered target shooting game, while my son preferred the arduino skeeball game.

We spent a lot of time at table where the kids could build vehicles from reused materials. The car that traveled the farthest won a prize. Sadly, we weren't contenders...

Then, who could resist making their own non-Newtonian fluid to take home. Here's the recipe if you want to try. It's cheap, easy and oh so slimy. Just keep it off the carpet - trust me.

The Art Dog table was fun too. The kids made clay designs and then...

used them to decorate paper mache dogs.

There were old puzzle pieces brought back to life with a coat of spray paint, some hot glue and a pin back,

beads to string,

and uber-cool Coke and Mentos fountains. (It's old video, but it gives you the idea.) Luckily we arrived early, had a decent place to stand, and most importantly - avoided the "splash zone." My son was quite sad when we weren't willing to wait in line for one of the 105 half-full bottles of flat, slightly minty Coke Zero they were giving away after the show, but he got over it quickly.

By far, for my two children anyway, the hit of the day came next. They both claimed to have other favorites, but in terms of how long a display or activity held their attention, this was "it." It wasn't the snacks, the tickets, the giant flame shooting bicycle, meeting good friends or staying with relatives, it all came down to the fish. Yeah, you heard me, the fish.

All 250 of them.

My photo just doesn't do it justice. Pop on over to their web page and watch some of their video clips. You'll see why the kids loved it so much. My daughter just wanted to pet the "little cute ones," but if you know my son, then you can imagine him dancing and spinning around the car singing along to Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen as sung by 250 hacked rubber fish. (He knows the lyrics thanks to this.) It was a sight to behold.

The entire 2010 Maker Faire Detroit was a sight to behold - and we didn't get to see everything! All I have to say is there had better be another one here next year, Make Magazine. Because if there isn't, you're going to have some very unhappy kiddos. Myself included...