To Alex -

To Alex...who is far away in person, but never far from my heart. I miss you. Enjoy these snippets of everyday family life here in the states.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Joy to you.

You won't be with us this holiday. Can you see my sad face? I always want you home for the holidays (mom's are funny like that), but since I can't have you here, I'm sending the joy to you.
This is what I would have sent you had it been done in time. I'll save it in a very good place.
May your day be full of peace and joy. I love you Honey.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The extent of my handmades.

I didn't make a lot of the gifts for this year. It just didn't fit with how I wanted to spend my days leading up to the holidays. Just a few and I'm thrilled with the results.
Sketch kits for the Littles for Christmas Eve.

Cashmere mittens for my niece. A special request from her.

A letter satchel for my nephew. He'll be overseas for a year and I wanted him to have something handmade from the heart to hold cards and letters.

Simple, easy, and lots of time for me to relax and enjoy this most wonderful of days. I feel good!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Handmade Love.

When I began scrapbooking years ago, I was adamant, "I will not make cards!"

Ha...silly me.

I love making cards.
Totally C.A.S.E. from my local scrapbook store. She didn't mind. I bought my supplies from her. You can't tell but some of the Christmas trees are popped up.

Simply. Easy. Fun.

Just what these holidays called for.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I love these kids!

Their mom was feeling a little taken-for-granted lately. (She's been filling some tough shoes and playing both Mommy and Daddy.)

We went shopping to get her some special somethings. Somethings just for her.
She's gonna love her Somethings.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Always learning.

My sister and I visited a pottery studio during Art Prize and K mentioned that she would really like to learn how to make pottery.

As it happens, the proprietor teaches classes.

We signed up.

...and we've learned.
Simple techniques that we've had so much fun learning. I'm eager to see what they look like after glazing.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The real Santa

She asked to see his ears.

He was a bit taken aback.

She said if he was one of Santa's helper elves his ears would be pointy.

He showed her his ears. They were not pointy. She was so excited that he was the real Santa.
So she posed with him and Mrs. Claus.

Monday, December 12, 2011

A 'Little' Sporting Tradition

Great Grandpa was very involved in local hockey.

Grandpa and his brothers grew up playing hockey.

Daddy and his brothers grew up playing hockey. They still play.

Now he plays as well. A fourth generation continuing the legend.

Good thing she loves hockey because she'll spend many hours at the rink as well. Is it a time commitment? Yes, huge, but it's what we do. It's what we love. This makes me giddy.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Get Your Joy On

We've been seriously lacking in snow and it's been interfering with my holiday spirit.

Normally it sweeps over me naturally.

This year I had to go looking for it.

That's better. Nothing like a little Holly Jolly adventure to get my joy on. I love downtown in the winter, anytime really, but especially in the winter. So pretty.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Delightful Miss M

She asked me what I was doing.

I said I was knitting.

She said she wanted to learn.

She had my undivided attention.

The following week I bought needles just for her, I made plans to keep her for the weekend and the two of us raided the box of gifted yarn that is stored upstairs. Then, with her sitting on my lap, we proceeded to learn to knit. It wasn't long before she had the technique down and was knitting on her own.
This makes me incredibly happy. I love watching her little fingers work the yarn.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Granola Drops

Have you tried making chewy granola bars only to have them fall apart on you and turn into a big pile of chunky crumbs? Hmmm, well, I have and I had nearly given up on making the bars. I have a couple brands that I purchase that were suiting me well and I couldn't see going through the hassle of trying to duplicate them. There was that cost thing, but I was willing to pay to avoid frustration. Mm hmm, until I ran across these three recipes for granola cookies that don't use any sugar, dairy or flour. Oh my, oh geez, oh, these are delicious. I've been making them in cookie form, but got lazy this morning and made them into bars. Oooh, I can see the potential for changing out the dried fruit, using applesauce or pumpkin in place of the banana, using different seeds, etc. See, the possibilities are endless.

Here's my version:

Granola Drops

2 cups rolled oats
1 cup coconut flakes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup of mixed raw sesame and sunflower seeds
1 cup Medjool dates, pitted, chopped
1/2 cup chocolate or carob chips

2 large very ripe bananas
1/4 cup coconut oil, softened if solid
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350F. In large bowl, combine oats, coconut flakes, salt, cinnamon, sesame and sunflower seeds, and dates. I chopped the dates a little more in the dried mix to get them coated, otherwise, they stick together in a clump.

In a smaller bowl, combine bananas, softened coconut oil and vanilla. Mash the bananas until well mixed with oil and vanilla. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and drop by tablespoons onto a baking stone.

Bake for about 20 minutes until edges look golden.

Alternately, you can press the dough into a 7 by 11 pan and bake for 35 minutes. Cool and cut into 15 bars.
Perfect trail food! Finally!

Monday, October 31, 2011

North Country Trail

I had made plans to hike in a beautiful location on Saturday, but at 10:30 in the morning, my hiking buddies for the day bailed on me. Now what? I had already hiked this area several times, but had chosen it again based on their hiking abilities. Hmmm, going for a hike by myself in this area would not have been my choosing. Instead, I called a girlfriend and accepted the previous day's invitation to join her and her daughter for a Halloween parade, then I phoned another girlfriend to extend an invite to hike on the North Country Trail the following morning. I think K said yes before I had finished asking. I laughed and we made plans to meet at 8:30 Sunday morning. This would be her first time taking her new dog on the trail with her and she wasn't sure how he would behave, so it would be a relatively short training hike, 4.25 miles, but it would be through the woods and up and down hills. A good hike to be sure.

A crispy, frosty morning to start.
After a short drive and vehicle staging, we were on the trail by 9:45, Dunloe in the lead, K and then me bringing up the rear. It was chilly, but beautiful...and the smell of the woods? Heavenly. I kept breathing deeply to take in more of the scent. I love the rich, heavy scent of the woods when they are wet.
We were past peak color on the trees, as witnessed by our leaf colored paths, but the outing was still spectacular. I think we saw an eagle, but I can't swear by it..
So much fungus and where was my mushroom book again? Yep, still in the bookshelf at home.
Nice views whether we were looking down at the trail, out through the woods...
or up through the trees.
We marveled at the size of these leaves.
Oh yes, we went up....
and then we went down and around, turning this way and that as the trail led us. The trail is well marked with blazes and we had no question about which direction to go. The trail I was on a couple weeks ago could have used a few more blazes on their trees...just sayin'.
All of us did great on the hike. We averaged about a mile per 1/2 hour and arrived back to the car just before noon. K & I both agreed we could have gone further, but we just didn't know how Dunloe would do before we started.

I loved this trail and will probably bring Sir S and Miss M out here to hike. K was delighted with how well Dunloe did on the trail. She was worried he would be straining at the leash the whole time, but the only time he did that was when the squirrels were taunting him. We were surprised that he even followed the correct path when the trail split. Pretty sure he sniffed it out. I think he'll make a great trail dog for her. lol...I suggested that I might borrow him for my solo hikes and she grinned and handed me his leash. Now that's the kind of dog I want. K has all the care and cost of owning a dog and I get to have the fun. Okay!

Now that's what I call a good hike in the woods.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Weekending in Michigan

Well, you left and the weather ushered in a decidedly different season. Goodness! I had a color tour paddling trip planned, but Mother Nature decided this was a good weekend for strong winds and gusts over 40 mph. Not exactly good paddling weather. Ah well, there's always this weekend to try again.

This is what the sky looked like for most of the day. It was beautiful while the clouds were whipping by, but you better have held onto your hat or it was gone in an instant.
I joined d-i-l and F.Y.S. at Sir S's football game. That boy is so intense when he plays sports, sort of reminds me of someone else, yes? He misses his dad horribly and is sure no one else 'gets' his football games the same way, but we try. I can't do anything to lessen the pain, but what I can do is help to keep him occupied. Guess he better dust off his hiking shoes. I wonder what his mom will think if I take him winter camping?
See this? It's a J Crew sweater that I picked up at a thrift store for $2, brought it home and promptly tore it apart. It will become felted slippers for me, and I'll need them since I'm bumping down the thermometer another degree this winter. I dunno if Tim can handle it though because his ears and nose are already cold when he puts his head against me. Poor kitty! Anyway, there are a lot of steps before I'm able to use this yarn again for knitting and I'm wondering if it's worth it. I suppose for $2 it is and, what the heck, winter is coming and I have nothing but time on my hands. ~grins~ You'll probably see all the steps in a later post. I know you'll be so thrilled about that.
I finished Appointment in Samarra Friday evening and spent a little time reading more of Justice after the game. I'm liking it, but I see what you mean about Sandel making his point and getting you in line with his thinking, and then switching sides in the next chapter. Liking it is an understatement. I'm really, really liking it is more the truth.
I'm torn on the next two. Do I read The Last Samurai...for the againth time...or do I start on Lightning Rods? Listening to you and Patrick talk, I realized I've forgotten so much of Last Samurai. It's sort of odd because I never understood how people could read more than one book at a time and now I do it all the time. I have two more books in the livingroom that I'm reading as well, but one of those is about nutrition and the other is on homesteading, you know, for when I get that cabin in the woods I'm always talking about.

I forced myself to get up and move in the afternoon. I was feeling a bit under the weather and wanted nothing more than to spend the rest of the day on the couch with a blanket and those books, but my list was calling me. I cleaned the house and switched all my summer clothes for sweaters and long sleeve shirts. Then, just because I could, I went for a very blustery walk. That perked me up and put a big grin on my face. I love this time of year!
I woke up to lots of clouds again on Sunday. I considered trying to clear out the leaves, but they were still too wet from the rains. It's not like they're going anywhere, darn it. Every year, after strong winds like that, I threaten to get myself some snow fencing to put across the driveway and side yard to keep everyone else's leaves from blowing into my yard. I have that one little tree, but leaves get piled up behind the house nearly to the windows. That's a lot of leaves to get rid of and they're not mine. Ha, I was raking earlier in the week and my neighbor said I should just leave them because they'll blow away. Um hmm, and whose leaves are in my back yard? His...<grumble>. Do you think he would notice if I threw them over the fence into his backyard? Do you think he would mind?
Anyway, what with the clouds and cold, it seemed like a good day for soup. And then I made more soup. And then I made some more. All told, I now have 11 pints of soup stashed in the freezer, I had a bowl for lunch and 2 more bowls were set aside for lunches this week. Not bad for a morning's work. As of yesterday, my house still smells d-e-e-licious.
Oh, recipes, in case you decide you want some yummy, easy soups to warm your soul when the rainy season hits for you. I ran all of these through the blender, but you don't have to do that. They're pretty darned good in their chunky form too. I think the recipes are all on my blog in different places, but here they are again.

Savannah Bisque - perfect because it's made with sweet potato and since you're back in the sweet potato...
Cream of Broccoli - I skipped the rice flakes and threw in a couple of potatoes to thicken the soup this time.

Sure would be nice if I could be eating these soups with you...just sayin'.