Thursday, May 19, 2011

Look who's home!

Andy is home from Afghanistan for 2 weeks leave!
He's had quite a trip to make it back. He left his base on Sunday for another location in Afghanistan, then went to Kuwait, and on to Germany by Wednesday. He flew overnight to Atlanta and finally made it home on Thursday night.
He was ready for a shower and a bed, although the bed had to wait a bit!

We're looking forward to some good time together. We'll be celebrating his birthday on Saturday and plan to spend next weekend with Laura and Aaron next weekend.
I'm going to be taking a bit of a blogging break during this time. I may show up occasionally, if not I'll be back in a few weeks.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Cooking Thursday

Sandra, over at Diary of a SAHM is hosting Cooking Thursday today. Stop over at her place for some great recipes!
The recipe I have today is one I got when I was in 9th grade, from the wife of one of my teachers. It's easy to make, but really good. Sorry I don't have a picture, you'll have to take my word that they are really quite pretty!

Thank You Squares

1 cup butter
1 1/2 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon almond flavoring
2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 can Cherry Pie Filling
Powdered Sugar

Cream butter, sugar and eggs until light and fluffy. Add almond flavoring, flour and baking powder and mix in.
Pour into greased 15"x 10" pan. Cut into 24 squares. Drop 1 tablespoon cherry pie filling into the center of each square.
Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
When cool, sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

(If only you could smell these!)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Come walk with me...

Bob and I went to our favorite park to enjoy a beautiful day and do a little walking.
Here's what things are looking like here in West Michigan.

This bridge crosses over a small river. I think it's such a pretty bridge!

In some areas around us, the trees are mostly green, but the leaves of the trees in this park were barely open. As you can see, the other plants are really green though!

We enjoyed watching several kayaks on the river.

We found some Trillium blooming!

These pretty little yellow flowers were blooming near a little stream.

This tree stump doesn't look like it will be around for too much longer.

This is one of the biggest beech trees I have ever seen. It's just beautiful!

We saw several dogwood trees as we walked. I love these flowers.

This is so cool - the tree had fallen over, but a little stream is now running through the roots.

The ferns will soon be open.

The maple tree leaves are opening too.

We saw a fallen tree that was host to some fungi.

Do you see this little guy we saw scampering around?

I love the dappled light through the trees.

Toward the end of the walk we came upon this tree, with such neat roots!

It was a beautiful day, and I was reminded again of why I love Spring!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Happy Birthday Mom!

We had a celebration on Friday night! Bob's Mom turned 80 in March, but she was in Florida at the time so the party had to wait.
The party was at a place called Noel. It's in an old church, and has been decorated in a Victorian Christmas theme. It's not like a regular restaurant, as you can only go if you come with a group and make reservations. They are usually pretty busy, so you have to plan ahead to come here.

I think these big wooden entry doors are pretty.

One of the stained glass windows.

This is the birthday girl! She doesn't look 80, does she?

There were lots of people there - uncles and aunts, along with sisters and brothers. This is Bob's sister Karla with his Uncle Jack. It was nice to see some of the relatives we hadn't seen for a while.

Here's one of the guest tables, waiting for supper!

There is lots of stained glass, as the church was left the same structurally.

Some of the decorations inside.

The front of the building.

Mom and Rog

Bob's Dad passed away before I met him, and Mom married Rog almost 22 years ago, so he has been a Grandpa to our kids.
We are so blessed to have both of them, blessed to have a wonderful Mom and Grandma, and blessed to have had her for these years.
Happy Birthday Mom!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Cooking Thursday

Today's recipe is smashed potatoes. I like to make these when I'm making a nice meal, but won't have gravy. They are a nice substitute for regular mashed potatoes, and are so good! (but not real good for you) :-) This recipe makes a big bowlful.
For more recipes, visit Sandra at Diary of a SAHM.

(you'll have to excuse the poor picture - I didn't think to take one of just the potatoes)

Smashed Potatoes

5 pounds small redskin potatoes
1 stick butter
8 ounces cream cheese
8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
seasoned salt and pepper to taste
bacon bits, optional

Wash and quarter the potatoes. Boil for about 30 minutes or until fork tender. Remove from stove and drain.
Return to stove, and with burner on low, break up potatoes with a potato masher. Turn heat off and add butter and cream cheese. Using potato masher, mash the butter and cream cheese into the potatoes.
Stir in the cheese, salt and pepper and bacon if desired.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Works for me Wednesday

Car repairs! No one likes them. It seems things break when it's the worst time. On top of being without a vehicle, there is a bill coming when it's fixed.
I recently found a great website that's really helpful for anyone that owns a car. The name of the site is RepairPal. Here are a few ways you can use this site.
  1. One of the things you can do is check out car repair shops near you. Click on Find a shop and put in your zip code and the make of your car. It will then show you the places near you and give you a rating for the shop and some of them have reviews from customers. While looking at that section I discovered a bonus - some of the places had coupons for things like 10% off your repair bill!
2. You can use this site to keep track of your car repair history. Click on my car and you will be able to put in information about what repairs and maintenance you have done.

3. Get estimates on repairs, by putting in your car make and the type of repair you need done. It's nice to check what a repair should cost you.

4. The car info tab gives you information about recalls or problems, and it also lets you ask questions that other members may be able to answer.

5. A section called Encyclopedia gives all kinds of information about different areas of your car. You can go into it and check for information on things like buying tires, saving money on insurance and more.

I was really amazed at all this site has to offer. RepairPal works for me and it's free!
For more tips, visit Kristen at We are THAT Family.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Tulip Time part 2

Yesterday I showed you tulips and a windmill. Today I want to show you some of the tourist things seen at Tulip Time.

Wooden shoes are everywhere! You can get shoes to wear, small shoes to display, shoes that are painted, shoes that are plain and shoes that have your name burned into them.
I remember going to Dutch Village with my 4th grade class and getting a pin of a wooden shoe with my name carved on it. Fun memories!

Speaking of Dutch Village, it's a fun place to visit. It's set up like an old Dutch town. There are shops inside, demonstrations of wooden shoe carving and things that show how the Dutch people lived and worked in the past.

There are even canals!

And how do you like this old Dutch mailbox?

Seeing a scene like this makes me feel like I've been transported to another place.
So, if you ever have the chance to come to Michigan, be sure you stop in Holland!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Tulip Time

This week is Tulip Time around here. Tulip Time is a festival that is held every May in Holland Michigan. It's a celebration of Dutch heritage and culture, celebrated with parades, costumes, Dutch Dancing, concerts, dutch food and lots of tulips!
It started Saturday and we braved the crowds to wander around. (People come from all over and it was crazy busy!)

The tulips weren't as pretty this year, because it's been so cold that many aren't open yet. However - these fields of tulips are still gorgeous!

There are people walking around in dutch costumes, and even some statues are in authentic gear!

I love the way these are planted, like a stream through the white ones. They'll be beautiful when they all open up!

This is the DeZwaan Windmill. It's an authentic, working Dutch windmill, that was built near Amsterdam in 1761. It was heavily damaged and the Dutch government sold it to the city of Holland in 1964. It was the last windmill to leave the Netherlands.
It was reconstructed and now sits on Windmill Island, which also has replicas of other historic Dutch buildings.

I'm sharing this picture to show you how large the windmill is, with it's blades showing over the trees.
I have more pictures of the village that I'll share with you tomorrow.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Mother's Day is coming...

So Sunday is Mother's Day and I bet a lot of you Mom's have received some fun things from your kids in years past. I thought I would show you a few of the things I've saved. These are things my kids gave me when they were young, and they were so proud to be giving them to me.
Of course, I loved them all!

This bowl came from Andy. He made it in second grade. I still have it on my dresser, and I use it for my pens and name badge for work.

This is a necklace that Heather made for me when she was 8. I put the quarter in the picture so you could see the size of it. :)

Laura made these earrings when she was 9. Again I added the quarter so you could see the size. She told me they were for me to wear to church, so I did - then I told her they really went better with jeans, for things like her ball games, and she was good with that. :)

This is a Build-A-Bear that all three kids did for me when they were a little older.
She's a nurse bear, wearing scrubs and a stethoscope. She even has on Sketcher brand shoes, which is what I always wear to work. She has something special though, that you can't see.
It's a sound button in her hand. The kids each recorded a section of a phrase from a book I used to read to them, and I love that I have their voices on it. The phrase is:
"I love you forever" (Laura)
"I'll like you for always" (Heather)
"As long as I'm living" (Andy)
"My Mommy you'll be." (all three together)

It's fun looking at these things and remembering those days when they were young. I'm so blessed to be their Mom!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Slow Cooking Thursday

Every Thursday I join Sandra in her Cooking Thursday feature. This week she is going back to her roots, and is having a Slow Cooking Thursday post.
I used to take part in this and it was fun to come up with a slow cooker recipe again.
I've shared this one before, but it's been a long time and it's one of our favorites. I don't know about you but we eat more sandwiches in the summer, so this is good for the season too.
For more recipes, visit Sandra at Diary of a SAHM.

French Dip Sandwiches
1 3-lb beef chuck roast
2 cups water
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp garlic powder
3-4 whole peppercorns
1 tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
slices of swiss or colby jack cheese
bakery style hot dog buns
Place roast in slow cooker. Stir together water, soy sauce and seasoning. Pour over roast. Cook on low for 10-12 hours till meat is very tender. Shred meat with 2 forks. Place on hot dog bun with a slice of cheese. Pour broth into individual small cups and serve with sandwich for dipping.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Works for me Wednesday

Have you ever made a photo book online? I recently did this after buying a groupon to Shutterfly. It was really quite easy and I had such fun doing it.
I used pictures I had taken a few years ago when Bob and I went to Colorado, to see Andy when he was at Fort Carson.
I was amazed at how quickly the book came to me. I put in my order last Friday and the book came to my house the next Wednesday. It looks great!
Here is a link to it if you are interested in looking.

Click here to view this photo book larger

I will definately be doing this again!
For more tips and ideas, visit Kristen at We are THAT Family.