Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Cooking Thursday

Earlier this week I shares some pictures of my Saturday.  One of the photos was a pan of cheesecake.  I thought I'd share the recipe with you today.  It's a recipe a friend put on facebook, and it's unusual because it uses a cake mix.  Part of the mix makes the crust and a little goes into the cheesecake layer.  I thought the crust was a nice change from the usual graham cracker crust and the filling was good too.

Cake Mix Cherry Cheesecake

1 pkg yellow cake mix
4 eggs
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 - 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 c sugar
1½ c milk
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 - 21 oz. cherry pie filling (may use blueberry, strawberry, peach...)
Preheat oven to 300 degrees and grease a 9 x 13 pan.
Set aside 1 cup of the cake mix.
In a large mixing bowl, combine remaining cake mix, 1 egg and vegetable oil (it will be crumbly) and press into greased pan.
In large mixing bowl beat cream cheese and sugar together until fluffy.  Add remaining eggs, one at a time.  Add in remaining cake mix and beat on medium for 1 minute.
Add milk, lemon juice and vanilla, mix until smooth.
Pour over crumb crust and bake for 50-55 minutes or until center is set.
Allow to cool, then spread pie filling over cheesecake.
Cover and chill in refrigerator for at least one hour before serving.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Monday, April 28, 2014

A little bit about me

It's been a while since I've done something like this, and I thought it was time I updated some of my newer readers. So - here's a little bit of information about me!

Here I am at one month old.  I was born on Thanksgiving Day, in 1960.  I was the first child in my family.

I'm 4 here, my brother is 3.  We also have 2 younger sisters.  My brothers name is Duane, my sisters are Terri and Cheri.  So - Mari, Terri, Cheri... What were they thinking naming my brother Duane?    :)    Our family is very close and we all live within 25 minutes of each other.  My sisters both work at the same place I do, so we are blessed to see each other frequently.

My Dad was a farmer, so we grew up in the country.  We had no close neighbors and played with each other.  We had lots of area to play in, hills to sled on in the winter and a creek to catch frogs in the summer.  Dad had cows and chickens, we had dogs and cats also and there was no time to be bored!

I can honestly say my parents were wonderful.  There was never any question of their love for us.  They passed on their Christian faith, both in word and deed.  They taught us respect and how valuable work is.  One of Dad's famous quotes is "A little work never hurt anyone"...  Mom and Dad were married for 43 years when my Mom passed away.

I'm 19 here, just graduated from nursing school.  At this time, we still wore white uniforms and hats.  My first nursing job was in a hospital, working on the ortho/neuro floor.  I was constantly knocking my hat off on those trapeze bars used for orthopedic patients.
I worked for 10 years at the hospital, before beginning to work at the nursing home that I still work at.

Shortly after starting at the hospital I met this nice guy!   Bob and I got married when I was 21.  We've been married for 32 years and he's still a good guy.
I'm a Christian.  I believe in salvation through Christ's death on the cross.  Bob and I are active in our church, Lighthouse Community Church and are so blessed to be a part of this fellowship.

We have 3 kids.  Our daughter Laura is married to Aaron, they are Alaina's parents and are expecting another baby in October.
Our daughter Heather lives at home, but spends a lot of time with her boyfriend Andrew.  We do enjoy it when she has a free night.  :)
Our son Andrew was in the army for 6 years.  He spent a year in Korea and a year in Afghanistan.  He got out last year and now lives in Kentucky, where he works for Lockheed Martin on the Apache Helicoptor.

We live in Allendale, Michigan.  Allendale is about15 minutes from the beaches of Lake Michigan and about 20 minutes from Grand Rapids.  I think it's the perfect location (except when the winter is bad).   :)

I think that's it for now! 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

A Happy Saturday

Because I work every other weekend, I really enjoy my weekends off.  We usually have Alaina overnight on that Friday.  We love spending time with her and it gives Laura and Aaron a chance to get things done at home without having a two year old getting into mischief!
I thought I would share some random photos of this past Saturday.  Bob and Heather were both working, so it was just Alaina and I at home.

It was a beautiful day, the sky was clear, the sun was shining, but it was pretty cool outside.  The flag was flying nicely in the breeze.

Alaina spent some time playing on the slide.

 We walked around the yard and were happy to see all the buds on our maple tree.

 We admired the daffodils!

 Alaina took a ride on this little tractor, which belonged to our son when he was little.

We had to go inside to check the dessert Alaina "helped" me make earlier.  It was done so we took it out of the oven.  It's a cherry cheesecake dessert, which looked better once I put the cherries on top!

Here's a view of our living room - can you tell a 2 year old is in the house?

Time to do a little cleaning.  I love this stuff, it cleans counters, tiles, walls...  and it smells wonderful!

One last hug for Oliver before Alaina goes home. (She thought she needed to sit in his bed to hold him) 

The house is clean, the toys are picked up, the dishes are done and it's time to relax.  This candle is another thing from the Mrs Meyer's line.  It isn't strong or overpowering, just has a nice clean scent.
Hope you all enjoyed your weekend too!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Cooking Thursday

I don't know if you have a Chipotle Restaurant near you. We do and one thing we really like is their Chicken Burrito Bowl. I have to say, I'm not sure why they call it a Burrito Bowl, because it doesn't have burrito type ingredients, but I do like it.  They fix it in front of you, and the last time I was there I thought - I could make this myself!   I bought some ingredients and set out to re-create this dish.  It turned out really good; of course not exactly like the restaurant version, but we really liked it and I'll make it again.

Burrito Bowl

3 boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 envelope Chi-chi's restaurant seasoning
   (found by the taco seasoning - onion, garlic and green chilies)
1/2 cup water
2 cups cooked rice
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
shredded mexican cheese
sour cream (optional)

Place chicken in crock-pot.  Sprinkle seasoning over meat, then add water. Cook on high for 3 hours or until cooked through. Shred chicken.
Stir chicken into hot rice, then add black beans. 
Serve with salsa, cheese and sour cream.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

(ready to get to work!)

Monday, April 21, 2014

Bob can build it!

A few weeks ago, my friend Jennifer, over at Thistlebear posted some pictures of her husbands workshop.  That made me think I should do the same.  I've shown you pictures of his work - from furniture to his caricature carvings, but I don't think I've shown his shop.
He has a separate building that he put up about 15 years ago.  It's heated and well insulated.  He's even got a stereo system out there, so he's pretty comfortable!

When you open the door to go in, this is what you see.  He built all the cabinets and work stations in here.
You can see his latest project on the table.  It's an old rocking chair that belonged to my Grandpa, who's been gone for over 30 years.  My Dad gave it to Heather, but it was in really rough shape, so Bob took it apart, stripped it and is now finishing it up.

This is a poster the kids gave Bob a long time ago.  He's kept it up ever since.   :)

This is an old hand powered drill press.  Bob loves old tools, and this one belonged to my Grandpa (same Grandpa who had the chair) so it's a special one!

Speaking of old tools, here's a collection of old planes.

Here's something else from the same Grandpa.  This used to hang in his house.  Bob's always liked this verse, so when my Dad was cleaning out some of  Grandpa's things, Bob claimed this for his shop.

One more area!  Bob says he can never have enough clamps, so you see a whole bunch of them.  The wood stove keeps him toasty in the winter.  I've been blessed by his talent and I'm glad he has a place where he enjoys spending his time.

Sunday, April 20, 2014


Our snow has melted, but it's left the ground pretty saturated. We've had quite a bit of rain, and now there's some flooding going on. Last year the flooding around here was really bad, this year it hasn't hit us nearly as bad. I went to the Grand River, which is about 1 1/4 miles from our house and took a few pictures to show you how it's looking.

Here you can see the bridge over the bayou.  Behind me is the actual river, but the flooding affects the bayou too.  The area up front is usually just grass and weeds, with the water back where the bridge is.

You can see that they've closed this drive off.  You can't drive to this parking area!

And here is the parking area - all covered with water.  The river usually doesn't reach the big tree in the middle of the picture.
I'm thankful that so far this is the extent of it.  There have been some people evacuated in other areas, but our spot has missed most of it this year.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Alaina has some news for you...

Alaina has some exciting news to share....

She's going to be a big sister!

The baby is due at the end of October, right around Alaina's 3rd birthday.  The pregnancy is going well, but Laura has been feeling pretty crummy.  Hopefully she's be feeling a little better in a week or two.
We're all excited to welcome this new baby.  :)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Cooking Thursday

I'm continuing to pass on some of my Moms old recipes to you.  I remember her making these chewy, yummy bars frequently. They're something I make often too, and I'm frequently asked to bring them to work or to church functions because everyone likes them!  Maybe you have this recipe, but I'm always surprised by how many people ask for it, so I thought I would share it with you.


1 cup sugar
1 cup corn syrup
1 cup peanut butter
6 cups Rice Krispies
Stir sugar and corn syrup together in large saucepan.  Heat on stove, stirring frequently just until mixture begins to boil.  (If you let this mix boil, your bars will be hard, not chewy).
Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter, then Rice Krispies.
Pour mix into greased 9x13 pan and press it down.

1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips
Melt together and spread over bars.  Refrigerate to harden topping, then take out of frig.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Wednesday Photo

This little flower has been hanging on to our hydrangea tree all winter.  It won't be long till new growth forces it to fall off.

Monday, April 14, 2014

A stop at the park

We had Alaina overnight on Friday. We went out for supper and on the way home when she spotted this playground. Grandpa is a pushover for her, so we stopped to play.

When we walked up, we found this playground mainly consisted of a tall tower and some slides.  There were several older kids playing here, but that didn't stop Miss Alaina.

Look at that smile as she climbed the stairs...

Somehow, I thought she would go to the first slide and come down.  No - she kept going.  See her little arm way up there?   She climbed all the way up, then turned around and came back down.  No need for the slide, I guess it was enough to just climb up.

There were a few toys for smaller kids, so we tested them out.

By this time she was shivering, but she still protested our leaving.  Next time we'll find a park that's a little more geared toward a toddler!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

April Yard

Things are really changing around here. Spring is here, so I walked around our yard on Sunday to show you what April is looking like in our area. I heard that nasty, 4 letter word in the weather report": expect some snow on Monday". Hope they got this one wrong, but even if it does come - it can't be for too long!

The snow is almost gone!  There are just a few small piles hanging around the yard yet.

This is a red twigged dogwood. The red color really shows up this time of year, when there are no leaves.

The red berries have been hanging on the tree all winter, providing a nice splash of red against all the white we saw all winter.  I imagine they won't be there for very much longer!

This little toad has been waiting patiently under a blanket of snow.  The snow is gone, now to get rid of all the dry leaves surrounding him.

Signs of spring!  Our maple tree out back has buds on it!!!

What a difference a week makes...   Last week this ground had a snowy blanket over it, this week we see crocus!

What a cheerful sight!

Thursday, April 10, 2014


I came across this crazy scene outside my town.  The field in front of this house has all these poles (which are almost as tall as telephone poles) lined up in a regular pattern across the whole field.  As you can see, there are lines of some sort running across the top of them.  What in the world is the purpose of this?
I found out that they are growing hops here, to use in making beer.
I feel sorry for the people who built that house, thinking they had a nice farm field next to their house, only to find this being put in.  What a view!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Cooking Thursday

I'm sharing another one of my Mom's recipes today. This one goes with my banana post from Tuesday - it's what I use my frozen bananas for! I've tried several different banana bread recipes, but I always go back to this easy recipe from my mom.

Banana Bread

Cream together:
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
Add 3 mashed bananas
Mix in:
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
2 cups flour
5 tablespoons milk

Pour into a greased large loaf pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 - 1 1/4 hours, until bread tests done.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Turkey time

I was driving the other day and had to stop for a couple of turkeys in the road.  They were in no hurry, and meandered across the road in front of me.  Just when I thought it was safe to go ahead, they turned around and crossed in front of me to the other side.  When they were in the middle of the road, two more came out, they turned again and finally all made it across the road.

Once they made it across, this one turned and looked at me. 
"What are you looking at?"

Monday, April 7, 2014

Tip for Tuesday

I've got a few banana tips to share with you today.  I don't know about you, but I tend to often buy more bananas than we eat, and before you know it, they're turning brown and no one wants them
When they're good and ripe, they're perfect to bake with, but usually I have one or two, and not enough time to bake right then.  If this happens to you, throw them in the freezer, peel and all.  When you have enough to bake with take them out.  (They'll look brown and unappetizing, as you can see in my picture)  You can microwave them for a minute, just enough so you can peel them.  You won't have to mash them, just pop the peeled banana in your bowl and you're ready to go.
Tip 2 - I learned this from Heather's boyfriend.  I always opened my bananas from the top by the stem.  He said to try opening it from the bottom.  It's so much easier!  Try it for yourself!

Sunday, April 6, 2014


Several of you have asked how the snow situation is here.  Has Spring arrived?

There's still snow, but it's almost gone in many places.  This is what it looks like along the wooded roads - some snow and lots of standing water.

This is our front yard.  It's quite shaded so a lot of snow remains.  It looks so ugly this time of year.  As the snow melts, what's left looks dirtier all the time.  Our little glass globe came off the hanger during the winter, but thankfully it didn't break.  This is a huge improvement - for much of the winter this whole hanger was under snow.  We couldn't even see the black ball on top!

Look at the back yard!  This is the chair and fence that was almost covered with snow.  Only a few patches remain back here.  I'm not sure if our little bush is going to make it though.  At one point the snow had buried the whole tree, pushing in over on it's side.

Although we have no flowers poking through the ground yet, I think it's safe to say that Spring has arrived!