Monday, September 25, 2017

Vacation - Upper Peninsula, Michigan

(I had this in drafts for quite a while, waiting to organize pictures for it.)

This is a trip I have always dreamed of taking. Prior to marriage my family had talked about doing it but it had never happened.
Last year Wesley and I started working on some mapping, planning to take the trip ourselves at some point in time. That got the ball rolling. We were looking into camp sites and multiple hiking/area's to visit but as we started our planning my family joined in on the idea and with such a large group and so many littles we switched to looking for a rental cabin(s) or house.

About eight months ago we found and booked a house. It was right on a river that spilled out into Lake Superior, within view of the houses back porch.

It was quite the adventure. On Friday morning (much later than my itinerary planned for;)) my family picked my girls and I up. Wesley was working enroute to Michigan so the weekend before we had packed all of our things into his car so he could drive up straight from work. We drove until we arrived where Wesley was working and the girls and I switched over to riding with him.

First stop was to visit my grandparents in the mitten of Michigan. We spent the evening and night there before heading off in the morning for the UP.

Our stay in the UP was much of what I had hoped and dreamed of. We spent a few warmer afternoons at a public beach access about a mile from the house. We didn't have to fight for beach front as the weather isn't really worthy of swimming. My siblings all swam, as did Jerusha and Wesley, but, I never ventured beyond wading. I would sit in the surf and collect rocks or sit under an umbrella reading..
A lot of fishing went on but not a whole lot of catching. Wesley did catch a nice large Pike, I unfortunately don't have a picture of it though. I was very excited for him but mainly because I had gotten him a rod and reel and some gear for his birthday this year and I was happy it hadn't been a wasted gift.
One day most of the guys went on a charter fishing boat and combined with the few caught from the river we had a good fish fry on our last night there.
We went to the town of Marquette a few times and discovered a lovely shop, Donkers, that had a restaurant upstairs which served very good food, and an ice cream and chocolate shop on the main floor. We didn't try any of their chocolates as we found them to be quite pricey, but, they did look delicious. I can tell you, however, that their ice cream was incredible. We went there a couple times and tried a few different flavors. We had a specialty sundae on one of our visits and it was the best sundae I've ever had the pleasure of eating. I liked the place so well that I even purchased one of their shirts as my trip souvenir.
One day we went to Pictured Rock National Lakeshore and hiked a mile and a half to get to the shore. There were many times I questioned if it would be worth it, or if I would even make it there alive as my bottle of mosquito spray was quickly disappearing; well, we made it and it was worth it. The water was a little warmer in this area, my guess would be that the rocks hold the heat better. All of the kids swam and climbed all over. I explored a bit and got to enjoy some beautiful shoreline that I'd always wanted to see. Where we were the rocks weren't particularly colorful, as they're known to be in other sections of the Park, but they still were amazing.
A couple days into our stay my oldest sister, her husband, and children decided to drive up and join us. It was fun to visit with them and watch the kids all interact as we don't often get to spend much time together.
We created "teams" for the cooking, cleaning, and laundry chores and for the most part everyone pulled their weight. We definitely ate well the entire week.
the view from our houses porch

finally! Lake Superior!!

Pictured Rock National Lakeshore

Jerusha climbing around and exploring

Our little family all strapped in for the hike back. Both girls promptly fell asleep.. It made it easier for me but not for Wesley..

On our last evening Wesley and I canoed our girls out to Lake Superior for one last hurrah

heading back
 I'm so sorry it has taken me nearly two months to get this post up, I have had trouble getting blogger to work on my phone and rarely have energy to do anything on my computer once the girls are put to bed. I hope you enjoyed a glimpse of our vacation, even if it is incredibly late.

{Foodie Post No.11} Teriyaki Marinade

This was a childhood favorite. It is actually one of the first things I remember "helping" to make with my mom. It was one of those "Here, stir this" scenarios where it is nearly mess free and your toddler feels helpful, now, as a mom, I'm an expert at finding those sorts of jobs around the kitchen ;)

This recipe works great on a variety of meats and veggies but on this particular day I chose chicken, zucchini, pineapple, and onions.

I took a lot of pictures, feel free to scroll to the bottom for the recipe.

I didn't make a ton of marinade so I soaked the chicken over night and then just soaked each veggie option for about ten minutes prior to cooking.

In the back you may notice the pan of "sauce". Not everyone may be comfortable with this idea but I simply boiled the used marinade for a few minutes, trusting that to 'cook' chicken particles and it thickened it a little, as well.

1 c. firmly packed brown sugar
2/3 c. ketchup
2/3 c. vinegar
1/2 c. soy sauce
1/2 c. vegetable oil
5-6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tsp. freshly grated or ground ginger

Choose your favorite combinations
Pineapple, fresh or canned
Mushrooms (puking face)
Bell Peppers
Cherry Tomatoes
Zucchini or Summer Squash


Prepare vegetables and meat; place in marinade. Allow to marinade overnight. (Or for however long you have before dinner time ;))
Skewer marinated ingredients. Grill or broil to desired doneness, brush with marinade during cooking.
If desired place remaining marinade in a sauce pan and boil for several minutes until it begins to thicken. Serve over rice with your shish kabobs.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

23rd Birthday {Post No.2}

This could also be titled 'Pregnancy Tears From Mild Sorrow to Extreme Joy' or 'I Have An Awesome Brother' or many other variations.

It all started about 3 weeks ago....

I was at my family's and went with siblings for a walk down the road..

Actually... It all started about 3 years ago. When Wesley and I got married my grandma gave us an old couch of hers to help us start furnishing our home. It was one of those couches you find in, well, a lot of grandma's houses.

These are not blog worthy pictures but they're all I could find of the couches pattern

We were very grateful for it and it has served us but for a while now I have been looking to replace it with something that matches my decorations, other furniture, and is a little newer.

Back to the three weeks ago.

I was walking down the road, and there on the side next to a house who's previous owner we'd met and I'd have trusted to take furniture from, was a couch with a 'FREE' sign on it. I sat on it and although the pattern wasn't perfect it was closer to what I wanted, it was exactly what I wanted in shape and size and best of all, it was free. A quick call to Daniel and he was there with his truck. Daddy and he threw it in the bed and we all ended up back at my parents, waiting on Wesley to finish a run so he could help Daniel unload it at our home...

Wesley arrived... they left.. and a few minutes later they were back with a broken couch to throw on the burn pile..

I know it was mostly pregnancy hormones at play but I actually teared up. It must have been pregnancy because who, in a matter of an hour, becomes so attached to a free couch that one would cry over its loss.
I was pretty upset though because, it was perfect and free and lost only because of my brother's recklessness, at least that is what I assumed because, I've seen him drive.
So I was sad, I cried, and I avoided him because I truly knew it was an accident and that there was no reason for me to take it out in anger on him.

Later my mom told me he said to let me know he'd buy me a couch if I picked one out. Ever since then I've kept my eye out on yard sale sites for couches that met my criteria thinking I would take him up on it but I never found one.

So yesterday, on my birthday, he showed up with this lovely couch strapped into his truck. He bought it for me new and so, because I'm pregnant, I teared up again  ;)

This couch, next to the crib and changing table, is the third piece of new, store bought furniture, in our little home. And I'm sure it greatly exceeds those in value..
Although when Jerusha first woke up this morning she held her palms in the air and asked "Where's my couch?" she sat on the new one, patted it and said "don't like my new new couch, where's mine?" but then quickly warmed up as I told her how much I liked it and she was especially eager to accept it and sit on it when I told her I needed to take its picture.

I feel very special at the lengths and expense Daniel went through to make up for what truly was an honest accident. Thank you - love you!


23rd Birthday {Post No.1}

I acknowledge that I'm a tad bit behind on blogging... I haven't posted that Teriyaki recipe I promised, we've gone on a vacation and no pictures or details have made the blog.. but here I am skipping ahead and recapping yesterday because, well, it was an especially awesome birthday.

The morning didn't start all that great, the girls weren't getting along, the house was a mess, and I'm pregnant so dealing with nausea and lack of energy. I spent many years of my life hating birthdays but as I've gotten older, wiser, and have been receiving the best things in life throughout the years I have come to have a better attitude about them; so, in spite of the rough start I pressed on and little by little started overcoming the day.

Wesley is working out of town this week; too far to commute but not too far for a drive home to celebrate my birthday. He made it home at 4 and took me and the girls over to my family's where he had already stopped in to deliver my birthday presents, first of which he gave me right away; doughnuts for Titus Bakery, a shop we've heard good reviews from and happened to be on his route home. They were indeed yummy.

For awhile we just hung out and visited, waiting for more siblings to arrive home from work. One of my brother-in-law's was in the area ending his shift so we invited him to stay for dinner and cake, as well.

Eventually nearly everyone had arrived so we ate a delicious dinner of Italian Basil Toss, I really should make this and put it on the blog; it has been a life long favorite spaghetti style dinner, and that is coming from this spaghetti, pasta hater.

People swam, people visited, we ate, and waited Daniel to get home from work so we could do cake. When he pulled in the driveway it was immediately noted that there was a couch in the bed of his truck. In my next post I will share the importance of this item, it was unnecessary of him but oh, so very appreciated (and I currently sit on it as I write this post). I was very excited to check the couch out and was pretty overwhelmed that he was willing to spend so much on "fixing" what had been an accident. More on that to come.

Once Daniel and Shay had arrived my family sang 'Happy Birthday' to me, only made me blow out two candles as mommy chose to go with the numbers '2' and '3', and we all enjoyed (at least I know I did) my traditional mint chocolate chip ice cream cake.

It was present time as everyone enjoyed cake and although I know birthday's should be most remembered and appreciated for the people you spend them with I certainly felt extra special as I had already received a couch and continued to open gift after thoughtful gift.

From my parents I received an elegant pair of gold and ruby earrings, along with a beautiful string of colored fresh water pearls, AND more photo paper for Wesley's gift to me last year of the fuji insta max camera.

My little sister, Monta, gifted me with many of the special rocks she had collected last week on our trip to the Upper Peninsula as well as a lovely drawing.

And last, but not least, Wesley gave me a set of pearls and earrings as well as a new sewing machine.

The pearls are beautiful and I will love having both the traditional and colored versions, I find it special that my mom and husband both are in sync with things I'm wishing for ;)

The sewing machine is a bit bitter sweet. I am so very excited to have it and learn to use it but find it hard to finally admit it is time to let my old one go. I've had a very old incredibly heavy Pfaff since my second year in 4-H and I knew all its settings, its quirks and secrets. In the past couple years though it has had to go to the shop for the same repair over, and over, and always came back only to putt along on a few projects then have to head back: the time had come to replace it and I'm very glad for a husband who was willing to put in the research and pick me out one as I would have had too hard of a time letting go and choosing change. It is thrust upon me now and I am relieved and excited. I have soooo many projects now only waiting on me to read the manual and start in on :D

And there you have it, the first installment of how awesome and special this birthday was. I have finally learned how to age gracefully and enjoy birthday's, for which I am sure my family is very grateful, am I right, Mommy? Shelby? :P

Monday, July 10, 2017

{Foodie Post No.10} Honey Mustard Chicken

This past week I made two fairly healthy chicken dinners and I took pictures so I could put them on the blog!
Growing up these were two of my most favorite meals.

I have a vivid memory of Honey Mustard Chicken, I don't know if my mom made it often or if this particular time just imprinted on me but, one evening, when I was probably no older than 6, I remember my mom was working on dinner and I was laying on the living room floor entertaining my baby brother with blocks (aka duplo's). At some point in my efforts I must have fallen asleep because the next thing I remember was waking up to the sun having set and finding my mom cleaning the kitchen up, everyone else having eaten. She uncovered my plate, a divided winnie the pooh plastic plate and on it was a piece of chicken, rice soaking up the honey mustard juices, and peas, not those nasty mushy canned kind, either, no, my mom fixed the frozen ones that still have life to them.

And that is it, that is my memory of eating Honey Mustard Chicken as a kid and I don't know if that's the first time I had it but I have loved it ever since. And, to this day, it is best served with rice and pea's.

all the ingredients

melting the butter in the baking dish and adding everything else saves dishes ;)

Jerusha is my ever enthusiastic helper :)

Dip the skin side 

turn it over for baking

four chicken thighs ready to go in the oven
I failed to take a picture of the finished product :(. It was thoroughly enjoyed even though I served it with brown rice and sauted zucchini.

Honey Mustard Chicken
1-3 Pounds Chicken Pieces
1/4 cup Butter
1/2 cup Honey
1/4 cup Mustard
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Curry Powder

Melt butter in 9x13 dish. Stir in remaining ingredients. Roll chicken in mixture to coat. Arrange in pan. Bake at 375 for 1 hour uncovered. Use sauce over chicken, rice, and vegetables.

I cut the recipe in half when fixing it for us.

Friday, June 16, 2017

{Foodie Post No.9} Ice Cream Cake

This year for Wesley's birthday I made an almost traditional Ice Cream Cake. This is the best, no, make that, this is the only Ice Cream Cake ever. Nothing else compares. My family has been making this recipe for years after our aunt made it for my sister and cousin joint birthday celebration.

Every year my younger sister, Shelby, has The Traditional version of it for her birthday.
On my birthday, every single year, myself or my mom makes the Mint Chocolate version.

So, this year I chose to make an Ice Cream Cake for Wesley's birthday because (No.1) He loves ice cream (No.2) He is trying to make June a perfect healthy eating month with his birthday being the only cheat day. And (No.3) He loves ice cream.

It was a close choice between the Ice Cream Cake or Peanut Butter Pie because, he really loves that, too, so I decided on Ice Cream Cake with Reece's Peanut Butter Cups chopped up on top.

 Yes, I have a 20lb bag of sugar, I bake and sell at the Farmer's Market, remember ;)
(The cocoa somehow didn't make the picture, ooops.
 Melt the butter with the cocoa
 After adding the milk and sugar and boiling until thick.
 Process the oreos in a food processor and add melted butter
 the most effective way of pressing the crust into a pan is NOT with your fingers, use the bottom of a glass, measuring cup, or fairly flat spoon.
 Slicing the block of ice cream. Mine was a little more melty than necessary.
 At this point put the base in the freezer and wait until your fudge sauce is cooled. I was tired, and didn't want to wait so I poured my fudge sauce on while it was still too hot which resulted in it melting through in spots, hence the bubbling in the next picture.
 Fudge sauce on..
 Cool Whip topped and Reece's Cups chopped and spread over the cake, which by the way, my sister Shelby considered absolute desecration of Ice Cream Cake. In her opinion nothing but sprinkles belong atop this cake.

A slice at the birthday party.

Ice Cream Cake
Fudge Sauce:
1/4 cup Cocoa Powder
1/2 cup Butter
1 cup Sugar
1 large can Evaporated Milk

Combine cocoa and butter in sauce pan. Melt until smooth. Add evaporated milk and sugar. Boil 15-20 minutes, until thick, stirring frequently. Cool.

1 pkg. Oreo's crushed
1/2 cup Butter
Finely chop oreos in food processor. Add soft butter and press into 11x17" pan.

1/2 Gallon of your choice flavor
Slice and layer over crust. Freeze.

Spread Fudge Sauce over cake.
Top with 1 tup of Cool Whip.
Decorate as desired.