Tuesday, December 24, 2013


The mighty Huron made her last trip for the season this morning. While it's been cold and the Straits have started icing over, the harbors have also been an issue. If the winds are just right, chunks of ice can blow in and fill the harbor; making it difficult for the boat to get in and out. The boats may start running again if the ice conditions improve, otherwise I'll be getting home in my other "car." It's a good thing I stocked up on necessities early!

Often the boats make it through the beginning of January and then we have to fly on and off the island through early spring. It's a quick trip - less than five minutes from take off to touch down. The only downside is the cost of freight. That, and the plane is much more dependent on the weather...

Monday, December 23, 2013

What's Wrong with this Picture?

With all the snow we've gotten lately, our snowmobiles are out and everyone is happy. Well, most of us are happy. I think the police are getting a tad frustrated with some people's parking habits.

As I was getting off the boat the other day I noticed this up at the head of the dock. This time of the year, parking downtown can cause issues - especially next to the Christmas tree. (It's in the middle of the street.) When people park on the street by the tree, the emergency vehicles can't get through. (Remember we do have an ambulance, fire trucks, and other utility vehicles on the island.)

Yesterday I noticed they had cordoned off that area with barricades so parking there is now impossible. As far as I know, our police department has never issued parking tickets, but now I'm wondering if they might start...

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Mackinac Moment

Hi. Yeah, I'm still here. December has just been crazy busy for me. People are always asking me, "What do you do up there all winter long?" It just makes me giggle because people think there is noting to do on Mackinac this time of year, but I'll tell you December has flown by. Between school, sporting events, the Christmas Bazaar and just every day life I feel like I've barely had a moment to catch my breath. Hopefully as things slow down a bit, I'll have more time to spend here.

Mackinac Island has gotten a ton of snow in the last week or so and its been glorious. Don't you just want to hop on a snowmobile and zip down that road? Just bring warm clothes - it's been really, really cold up here lately.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Minecraft Birthday Party

I love birthdays. To me, they're like a special holiday just for you. I really enjoy planning family parties for my children; I think I enjoy planning their parties almost as much as I enjoy being a part of them.

My son has been all about Minecraft these days. (Although World of Kefllings is running a close second.) So, of course, he wanted a Minecraft birthday party. What fun. Lots of kids love Minecraft, so I knew there'd be tons of great ideas out there.

We didn't eat anything fancy - just kid friendly hamburgers and hot dogs, but we did drink Creeper Juice, A.K.A. Diet 7-Up spruced up with new labels. I made them labels in photoshop, using this image as a starting point. Then I just added the "Creeper Juice" using this font. The image is sized to completely cover a Diet 7-Up label. If you want to use it, feel free. I printed three at a time in Microsoft Word. (The  image will appear cropped below, but the full-size image download.) I'm not sure if it will cover the labels for other brands. I suppose you could pull them off; Michigan has a bottle return law, so I didn't want to remove them. 

The table was tough for me because I didn't want to spend a ton of money on decorations what would just get tossed out after dinner. I bought one of those cheap plastic table cloths - brown of course, and then made everything on the table different shades of green. I did splurge a bit on the paper plates, but  when I saw the square ones, I had to have them. It worked out perfectly that scrapbook paper was on sale at Jo-Ann Fabrics the week before the party. I cut each piece into two inch squares and scattered them over the table. Each guest's place was marked with a name tag (free - made here.) My son loved how they they looked like they came right out of the game. I also printed out this wonderful (and free) Minecraft birthday banner

Of course, we had to make the dining room windows look like they were made out of glass blocks.

I was super excited to find the brown and green gift bags at Hobby Lobby - they were perfect for a Minecraft party We put the poppers on the table because in the game, Creepers (silent green monsters) sneak up behind you and explode. 

Since Allen is the cook of the family, he made cake. (He's an amazing cook. Although, if the challenge involves cooking a meal over an open fire or in an early American open hearth kitchen - I can cook him under the table!) While it may not look very cake-like to the untrained eye, trust me when I tell you that most nine year-old boys will immediately recognize it as a Minecraft Cake. 

I decided to do something different with my son's birthday shirt this year. Now that he's nine, the stuff I've been doing seemed rather juvenile. Plus, S and his dad both love tie dyes. Just look at those flowers! Can you tell, it's been a month or two since we actually celebrated?That garden is under two inches of snow this morning.

If you like the shirt, pop into this wonderful little shop over on Etsy. Cassie makes amazing custom tie dyes and can pretty much do anything you want. She was quick and even had shirt suggestions for my very skinny son.

It's hard to believe he's nine already - nine. It seems like not all that long ago he was off to his first day of kindergarten. My husband made sure to point out to me that our son's time living at home is (most likely) half over. Gasp!   It hadn't really hit me - we'll probably only get another nine years of  having him at home. Right now I simply can't imagine not having him around; I wonder if I'll feel different when he's 18...

Sunday, November 10, 2013

I See London, I See France, I See Captain Underpants

See that belly? It's the result of the 16 pounds (about 7.25 kg) of candy my son and daughter brought home Halloween night. OK, her belly isn't really stuffed with chocolate, but the kids did bring home 16 pounds of candy - and we only trick-or-treated through a small part of our neighborhood. Believe it or not, one of my students managed to haul home 30 pounds (about 13.5 kg.) (I asked the kids to collect data on their candy so we could work on mean, median, mode and range. Averages are more meaningful to kids when they use data that is important to them. But I digress...)

While the Captain Underpants books may not be among my favorites, my daughter adores them.  She's only in second grade, but she has read them all. When she told me she wanted to be Captain Underpants for Halloween, I honestly had no idea how I was going to pull it off. I mean, we live in Northern Michigan, so going out in undies or even a swim suit wasn't really an option. So, I started searching and managed to find this "skin suit" on line. It wasn't quite right, but after pricing materials at the fabric store, I realized it was my best bet so I broke down and bought it. Be aware that at the store I linked to above, the child size medium suit was large enough to fit me, which ended up being OK since we were enlarging her tummy, but otherwise it would have been way too big. 

After removing the face piece, the gloves and the feet from the suit, I tightened up and shortened the legs and the arms. It fit fine and it was stretchy enough that even with the gigantic tummy K could wear long johns underneath to keep warm. (Luckily her rain gear also fit.) All Captain Underpants needed was new undies, a cape, a bald cape, stuffing for that belly, and she was good to go.

We knew we were onto something when strangers started coming up to us the day we trick-or-treated through town asking to take K's picture.

Of course she needed a treat bag, too. Just like I did for her brother, I found a graphic on line, reversed it, and ironed it on. The graphic is below just in case you might want to make a tote for your favorite little superhero. Now I'm hoping that we have "dress as a character from a book" day during March is Reading Month this year, because I'm certain K will want to wear this again.

Right click to download the full-size image.

Captain Underpants TM by Dav Pilkey.
All rights reserved.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Guess Who?

I have several big Dr. Who fans living in  my house, so I wasn't surprised when my son announced, back in August, that he wanted to be Dr. Who for Halloween. Specifically the Eleventh Doctor. 

The geek in me was thrilled and I thought, "Cool, that's a pretty simple costume to put together," and I started looking for a child size eight  tweed blazer at my favorite thrift shops. I found lots of navy blazers with brass buttons, but nothing even remotely tweedy. By mid-September I still hadn't found one so I had to go to plan B...

I found a machine washable jacket for next to nothing,

and used this pattern to make a lovely coat for my little Doctor. I'm glad the blazer I found was a lady's size 18; if it had been any smaller, a few of the pattern pieces wouldn't have fit. If you ever need to make a blazer for your son, I highly recommend this pattern. The directions were quite clear and, even with deconstructing the other blazer, I managed to finish it in one day (although since it's a Halloween costume, I did leave off the welt pockets.)

The best part of S wanting to be Dr. Who was he decided he had to grow out his hair. Back in August, S had a buzz cut - a very short buzz cut. But once he chose to be Dr. Who, he started to grow it out so he could have that little swoop of hair in the front - just like "the real Doctor." Every now and again he would ask me to style it, just to see if it had grown out enough.

If you've been around here for a while, you're probably surprised to see my son's face smiling back at you today. I started blogging in 2008 - back when my son was three and my daughter was two. At the time, it didn't feel right to put their faces out there. These days, both of the kids have been asking me if I will stop "cutting off" their faces in my pictures. So, after a discussion with my husband, and since they are a little older I've  decided to ease off my "no faces" rule.

I always try to make my kiddos treat bags that coordinate with their costumes. (Plus, later on they make a great storage bag.) Dr. Who needed a bag with a little bit of British flair and a Tardis (the time travel machine the Doctor travels in.)

It was easy to make with iron-on transfers. Luckily, I remembered to reverse the images first! I sized each one to print out on a standard size piece of  transfer paper.

If you have a notion to make one, I've included the reversed images below. They're big (about 8 in by 10 in) so only a portion will show in the post, but you'll get the full-size images if you right click and download them. I just inserted each one into a Word document and printed them out.
I was glad I made the blazer a tad on the big side since it poured here on Halloween. Luckily it fit over my son's rain gear...

Keep Calm original art here
Tardis original art here

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Mackinac Moment

We were treated to a beautiful rainbow the other day just before school started. I've got to say, my classroom probably has the best view of any schoolroom in the entire state of Michigan!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


Fall on Mackinac is, by far, my favorite time of year. Things are quieting down, the air has that wonderful wet leafy smell, and the trees are absolutely gorgeous. Not to mention that fall is the only time of year that Mackinac Island is warmer than the mainland. All that water has been heating up all summer and now Lake Huron gives us beautiful "Indian summer" days. Though not today, definitely not; it was downright frigid this morning. But, while several towns near us got their first snow, we didn't get as much as a flake.

I was a busy little beaver this past weekend - feverishly working on Halloween costumes. My son's is finished and I'm about 80% through my daughter's - I just need to alter her "nude suit." (Don't worry - I'll share soon.) What have you been doing with your time?

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Minecraft Cake Pops

Since my last attempt at cake pops didn't turn out so well, I thought I needed to give them another try. This year my son requested a Minecraft party (he's kind of obsessed these days) so I thought I could make cake pops in the shape of the blocks from the game. Luckily, we tend to plan these things early, so when I saw these molds at Meijer back in August, I bought three of them for $1.00 each. They were perfect - each little side of the cubes was about an inch (about 2.5 centimeters) long.

I followed one of the many cake pop tutorials out there and just made cube-shaped pops using the molds instead of rolling the dough into balls.  I squished as much dough as I could into the molds, too; I wanted the pops to be really dense. I was glad I bough three of them; I had one sit out and thaw for a few minutes, one fill, and one to sit in the freezer. It would have taken much longer if I'd only bought one. And, since they were so cheap, it wasn't a big deal.

I dipped the  pops into white candy melts, this time using the brand sold at Hobby Lobby instead of Wilton. I did not have a good experience with Wilton last time. I also melted them in the microwave rather than using the double boiler. I'm not sure if the difference was the chocolate or my newly improved mad-cake-poppin skills, but either way, they turned out so much better this time.

After dipping them in the white chocolate, I sprinkled the sides with brown decorating sugar and the tops with green so they would resemble a grass block.. They weren't perfect, but my son's second and third grade class didn't seem to mind.

I made sure to save one for myself. Quality control you know, they looked like grass blocks but I needed to make sure they were fit for the kids to eat.

It's a good thing there weren't a bunch of them left over - they were that good. The creaminess of the candy coating with the crunchy sugar was delicious!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Chippewa Falls

Our next stop on Allen's Waterfall Tour was Chippewa Falls. The Trans-Canadian Highway crosses right over the Chippewa River, so the falls are visible from the road. And, they were totally worth our time to stop and explore. 

The rocks in this part of Canada are mainly granite - much of it being a beautiful orangey-red color. It's amazing to me that the rocks are so different from the gray limestone of the Straits of Mackinac - just an hour or two south. 

  The trails along the side of the falls were absolutely breathtaking; like something out of a movie. Plus, it was sprinkling the afternoon we were there, so everything had an greenish ethereal glow.


The falls were lovely as well. I had fun playing with the shutter speed on my camera.

In a few spots we were able to walk out into the rocks. My daughter was very frustrated that we wouldn't let her swim, but was happier when her father walked her out into some of the slower moving water. Luckily she didn't see the folks jumping off rocks into one of the pools upstream. We wondered how they knew how deep it was. At each of the falls we visited there were signs warning visitors about how quickly the flow rates of the falls can change. Apparently, many of the falls are used by hydro-electric plants to generate electricity, and if they open up the gates, the amount of water flowing over that falls can increase dramatically in the blink of an eye.

Such a beautiful spot... 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Ours to Discover

The license plates in Ontario, Canada say, "Yours to Discover," and that's just what we did this Labor Day weekend.  The Provence of Ontario is about four times bigger than the state of Michigan, so while we really only got to discover one tiny corner of it, we loved what we saw.  Allen made sure to point out the geography of the Eastern Upper Peninsula to the kids as we drove through so they could better appreciate the different geography they'd see in Canada. (Yeah, I know... we're geeky.)

We spent the night in the Canadian Soo so we could get an early start on Saturday morning. Our first stop was Kinsman Park just a few miles away from our hotel. The park is home to miles of hiking / ski trails and a beautiful waterfall.

The falls were magnificent.
We hiked right along side them.

In a few spots the river widened into small pools.
We didn't even think about stopping for a swim!

Down below Crystal Falls, the river opens up
into a small lake. 

Of course, the great frog hunt began,

though they stopped long enough to enjoy the teeter totters. (Sadly most parks we've visited in the US have removed them. Bummer - they're so good for teaching physics.)

We ate breakfast in the back of the van, used the outhouse, and then headed on our way - wondering where Allen was taking us next. He completely organized this trip - from the itinerary to the reservations and meals.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Band Aide?

I went up to my bathroom the other day and discovered this on the floor in front of the closet. It struck me as odd because I am the only one in the house who would have need of that box, and I knew I hadn't left it on the floor.

When I went outside to water my flowers I noticed my son's leg:

When I asked him about it he explained that he'd scraped his leg and the regular sized band aides weren't big enough so he needed to get out one of the really big ones.

He had a friend over so I  waited until his buddy left to explain that they weren't actually band aides...

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Mackinac Moment

Out under the Mighty Mac...