Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Cooking Thursday

We had a potluck at work this week and I brought this salad.  It's got an unusual mix of ingredients and is so good!  I got the recipe from Carrie of Northwoods Scrapbook. Her recipe called for pecans, but since I don't like them, I used almonds instead, so take your choice!  Thanks Carrie - it was a hit!

Broccoli and Grape Pasta Salad

8 ounces bow tie pasta
1 pound fresh broccoli
1 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup diced red onion
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups seedless red grapes, halved
8 slices bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
1 cup Fresh Gourmet honey roasted almonds

Cook pasta as directed on package, drain and rinse with cool water.
Cut broccoli florets from stems and separate into small pieces.
Whisk together mayonnaise, sugar, onion, vinegar and salt.
Stir together pasta, grapes and broccoli, then stir mayonnaise sauce in.
Refrigerate at least 3 hours before serving.  Stir almonds and bacon into salad immediately before serving.

$100 Million Day

Are you a member of Swagbucks? I've used Swagbucks for about 3 years, and have earned a lot of gift cards through it. They have some special deals going today that I thought I would share with you!
After 7 plus years, Swagbucks has reached a major milestone today - $100 million in gift cards and cash paid out to its members! To celebrate, they’re giving away tons of points (called SB) that you can use to get free gift cards or cash back!

1. The World of Millions Swag Code Extravaganza 

6 Swag Codes throughout the day:

10 am - Answers 
12 pm - nCrave  
2 pm - Watch 
3 pm - Shop 
5 pm - Search 
7 pm - Instagram 

2. Earn 100 SB Get 100 SB - For the 30th only, you can earn up to 400 bonus SB combined through the following activities
  • Discover = Earn 100 SB get a 100 SB Swag Up
  • nCrave = Earn 125 SB get a 100 SB Swag Up
  • Answer (Surveys Only) = Earn 150 SB get a 100 Swag Up
  • Watch Mobile = Earn 200 SB get a 100 Swag Up

Not a Swagbucks member yet? With back-to-school shopping completed and the holidays quickly approaching, a lot of you are probably thinking about your gift shopping list. Swagbucks is a fun rewards program that gives consumers free gift cards and cash and helps families pay for the holidays simply by doing what they are already doing online like shopping, searching the web, watching videos and sharing their opinions. Here’s a video showing how fun and easy it can be…

There is no limit to how many points Swagbucks members can earn and they never expire. Points can be redeemed for cash via PayPal or for gift cards for hundreds of retailers like Amazon, Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Toys R Us, and more. Sign up today and if you earn 300 points, called SB today (that's equivalent to a $3 Amazon Gift Card), you’ll get an additional 300 SB bonus on top of everything else! It’s simple, it’s free and it works. Click here to join today!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Wordless Wednesday

(Autumn Joy Sedum)

Monday, September 28, 2015


Our church recently started a MOPS group in our town, with 2 other churches. MOPS stands for Mothers of pre-schoolers. It's a group that is set up to support young moms.
The moms are put into a small group with an older mom - a mentor mom. That's where I come in. I'm a mentor mom for 6 young moms.  My friend Arlene, from Nanaland is also a mentor mom at a MOPS groups that she has been helping with for several years.  I've enjoyed her posts about what they do at their MOPS.
We had our first meeting last week and it was a hit. We had 25 moms and lots of kids.

The tables were set up so cute, with fabric flowers, signs with verses on them and jars with ice-breaker questions.

Everyone got one of these cute name tags.

 We mentor moms had made up a questionnaire and had a little chocolate for each mom.

 We had a lovely brunch of breads, bagels, yogurt, granola, coffee slush and juices.

We played games, and there was lots of laughter!

 We watched a short video and had a time of discussion.

 While the moms were doing their thing, the kids (or moppettes) were having fun at their own activities.

 After the discussion, there was time for a craft.  We each made a necklace.  It was a nest necklace, with one bead in it, for each of our children.

Here's the necklaces from my group.  We had 2-5 eggs in our necklaces.  Mine is the one with 3 pearls in it.

We had a good time, and I'm looking forward to getting to know these women better!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Flea Market Frenzy

On Saturday there was a huge flea market near me. It was full of vendors selling old and refurbished things.  I went with my daughters, Laura and Heather.  Since Aaron was out of town, we took Ruby and Alaina too.
We soon found out that it appeared every woman in West Michigan wanted to go too.  There were cars filling every street around.  We ended up going to a nearby park and walking to the venue.  At this point we were wondering about our sanity and if we would even be able to find anything with all the crowds!

Here's Ruby, ready to fight the crowds!

 We decided to check the outside booths first.   It was crowded, but do-able.

 There were a lot of cute things, most were reasonable priced.

 Then, we went into the buildings.   This is what it looked like inside.  It was so crowded that you really couldn't even stop at a booth.
We decided it wasn't worth anymore shopping and walked back to the car.

 As we walked back through the park, Alaina had to go down this slide.  When she got to the top, she wasn't too sure, and Laura ended up going down with her.

Fun ride!
And that was it for our flea market shopping.
I did make a few purchases.  Want to see?

I found a pretty ironstone plate and bowl.  (Bonnie would have loved shopping here)  The plate was only $1!  I also got the Give Thanks sign which will soon be out with my Fall decor.  The other sign can go into that frame when Thanksgiving is done.
It was a fun day, even with the crowds!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Meyer May house

Our last outing on our vacation week, was to visit the Meyer May house in Grand Rapids.  This house was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and was built in 1908.  It was used as a private residence until 1985, and was quite run down when the Steelcase corporation bought it and restored it.  It was restored to the way it was in 1916.

 This house is in an area of Grand Rapids called Heritage Hill.  The streets are still cobblestone which I think is so cool!  The houses in this area are old and beautiful!  Here's a few that are on the same street.

There was even this fun, old truck.

Here is the Mercer May house.  It doesn't look like it belongs with the rest of those old beauties, does it?

 This is a photo of the house, with Mr May, his wife and 2 kids in 1916.

 Steelcase spared no expense in restoring this home.  These rugs were specially made, following instructions found in Frank Lloyd Wrights papers on the house.  The colors were specially dyed and this individual run was done for 4 sets of rugs.  They also ended up doing a special run of fabric for upholstering the furniture.

 The windows in the house were just gorgeous!

This mural was hidden under 6 coats of paint, that had to be specially removed so the mural could shine again.

 The dining rom.

 Light switches...

 A shower that was ahead of it's time. It mixes the water to ensure it was at the right temp!

 This is the master bedrooom.  How do you like those little beds?

 Pictures of the kids who lived there.

 This is the young daughters room.  I could stay here!

A section o the living room.
What a fun  place to tour!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Cooking Thursday

I made these brownies for the first time last week. They had rave reviews on Pinterest, so I thought I would try them. They are a little more time consuming than my regular recipe, but not bad. Bob thought they were awesome, and I'm warning you that you might not want to even try them, because they are so good, and they'll make you gain weight just by looking at them!  Because they are so rich, they don't replace regular brownies, but they are a good occasional treat!

Flourless Chocolate Brownies

2 cups (12-oz. pkg.)Semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, cut into pieces
2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup cocoa
4 large eggs
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

Preheat oven to 300ยบ F. Line 9-inch-square baking pan with foil. Grease bottom and sides.

Heat 1 1/2 cups morsels, butter and water in medium, heavy-duty saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly, until morsels and butter are melted and mixture is smooth. Stir in cocoa until smooth. Remove from heat.

Beat eggs and sugar in medium mixer bowl until thick, about 4 minutes. Stir in vanilla extract. Fold 1/3 of egg mixture into chocolate mixture. Fold in remaining egg mixture, one half at a time, until thoroughly incorporated.  Pour into prepared pan.

 Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until risen in center and edges start to get firm and shiny (center may still move and appear underbaked). Cool completely in pan on wire rack (center may sink slightly). Cover; refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.

Place cream in small, uncovered, microwave-safe dish. Microwave on HIGH (100%) power for 25 to 30 seconds. Add remaining 1/2 cup morsels. Let stand for 2 to 3 minutes; stir until chocolate is melted.

 Spread ganache over chilled brownie. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Using two opposite sides of foil, carefully lift the entire brownie out of the pan and place on cutting board. Carefully peel away foil from brownie. Cut into bars. Store in tightly covered container in refrigerator.

* These brownies are almost like fudge, cut into small pieces!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Monday, September 21, 2015

Week away activities

Here's a little more on what we did last week...

Monday, we visited a nursery and a greenhouse to buy bushes and plants to put around Bob's new gate.  He put a trellis on the side and planted a clematis to grow up it.  He also put down that brick walkway, then planted the plants.  It may look a little sparse now, but should fill in soon!

 On Tuesday, we took Alaina to her first movie.  We saw Shaun the Sheep, which she enjoys in the shorter version.  This one was a little long for her (1 hr, 25 minutes), but she enjoyed herself.   We got some popcorn which was a huge hit!

When we got in the car, the sun was shining on her face, so she snatched Bob's hat to shield her face.  We went for supper, which was her favorite - hamburger and fries!

Wednesday was a day of working at home.  I did some cleaning and sorting, also worked on a few projects I've been trying to get done.  Bob worked on a new end table for our living room.

On Thursday we visited the Michigan State Extension Garden in Grand Rapids.  It's an idea garden, where they try out lots of different plants, and people can wander through and get ideas of their own.

 They had some beautiful plants and we did take note of the names of some.

 I think these are the handprints of many of the gardeners who worked here.  I thought it was a nice piece in the middle of the garrden.

There was a pretty water feature too.

 The bees were very busy, buzzing around the flowers.

I have one more outing to share, but will do that later in the week so this post doesn't go too long!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Vacation and blog break are done...

We had a wonderful time on our vacation last week. We didn't go away, but took some day trips and accomplished some things at home. The weather was beautiful and we enjoyed spending time together. One of our first outings was to visit the Frederick Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids.  It is on 158 acres and features over 200 sculpture works.

We have visited here many times, but we always enjoy it.

 One of the best known sculptures is this horse.  It is 24 feet tall and is cast from a work of DaVinci.  One was cast for Meijer Gardens, another for the city of Milan, Italy.  It is really amazing to see in person.

 One new section has opened since our last visit is the new Japanese Garden.  It covers 8 acres.

 There is a Japanese tea house, which we didn't go in because there were a lot of people waiting in line.

I think this bridge is so pretty!

 There is a display of many bonsai trees.

As we walked along the edge of the lake, we saw this heron standing and watching.

The lake is beautiful!

 Another section of the Gardens, is the childrens garden. It's filled with fun activities and plantings, water activities and tiny passages.

Another cute sculpture.

We also visited the woodland garden which is one of our favorite areas.  It's always good to visit the Gardens.
Tomorrow I'll share a few more things we did during our time off.