Thursday, October 29, 2015

Our special volunteer

We have a special volunteer who comes to the nursing home every other week.  I think he may be the most anticipated volunteer we have.  His name is Bentley, and he's a dog!  He is very gentle and is well trained.  He stands right next to people and lets them pet him.
This week, he came in costume for Halloween.   I don't think he was too happy about this outfit because he didn't want to look at me for his picture. Our residents loved it though!

Isn't he cute?

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Cooking Thursday

This cooler weather is definitely chili weather!  I made a batch last week and tried out a new recipe.  It was supposed to be a copycat recipe for Wendy's chili, but we thought it was thicker than Wendy's and didn't have the same flavor.   It might not taste just like Wendy's but we both really liked it and I will be making it again.

Wendy's Chili

2 pounds fresh ground beef
1 quart tomato juice 1 (29-ounce)
1 can tomato paste 1 (15-ounce)
1 can red kidney beans, drained 1 (15-ounce)
1 can pinto beans, drained 1
1 medium-large onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup diced celery
1/4 cup diced green bell pepper
3 tablespoons chili powder 

1 teaspoon ground cumin (use more for real flavor)
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper 

 In a large skillet, brown the ground beef. Drain off the fat. Put the beef and the remaining ingredients in a 6-quart crock pot. Cook for 6-8 hours on low.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Wordless Wednesday

(These crates are filled with onions, waiting to be loaded on a semi)

Monday, October 26, 2015

The color in my neighborhood

I think the Fall color is at peak in our area.  It's not the best and brightest color we've had in recent years, but it's still pretty.  Here's a few shots from my street.

 This is taken out my front window.  We love seeing this beautiful beech tree in all seasons!

 Standing in front of my house looking one way...

And the other way.

It won't be long and the leaves will have fallen, and probably some snow too!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Happy Birthday Alaina and Ruby!

It was Alaina's 4th birthday on Saturday.  Ruby will turn one on November 5.  We had a birthday party for the two of them Saturday evening.  Laura and Aaron had it in a big room at their church, so that both Aaron's family and all of us could be there.  Laura is very creative, and it was such a cute party.   Warning - lots of pictures!

Alaina watching for her people to arrive.

 This was a farm themed birthday party.

 There was a "petting zoo":

Here's the animals behind the fence...

 Each child that came got an egg carton...

They had to find baby chicks that were hidden all over the room.

 There's one!

 The kids searching for chicks.

Here's Alaina's full carton of chicks.  Inside the chicks were animal temporary tattoos.

 There were lots of farm books scattered around.

Laura made headbands for the kids (and a few adults) to wear.  You could be a cow, rooster or sheep.

 Here's Laura and Ruby modeling their rooster and sheep headbands.

 The kids decorated pumpkins.

Hard at work!

 The adorable cake Laura made.

And the cute cupcakes she made...

 Time to eat!  We had hot dogs, pulled pork, pigs in the blanket, deviled eggs, cider...  So good!

These little pails were on each table with chex mix in them.

These were also on the table for everyone to take home.  There were yummy drop cookies in the containers.

Time for presents! (Do you see that Ruby's hair is starting to lay down?)

Ruby testing out our gift.  She climbs on everything!

Ruby watching people leave.  What a fun night to celebrate our little darlings!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Ottawa Station School House

While driving around, enjoying the Fall colors last week, we came across this old school house.  It's one we have visited before but it's been several years.  It was good to see that it's still in good condition and appears to be well taken care of.

 This is the Ottawa Station School house.  It was built in 1867 and was used as a school, community center and church.  It was closed in 1958 when some districts merged.  It's now owned by the Ottawa Center Historical Society.

 I'm sure this bell rang often, for both school and church.

 I love these old windows.

 Peeking into those windows is like stepping back in time.

I like the teachers desk too!

Isn't this place charming?

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Cooking Thursday

We made something yummy in our last MOPS group. It's a caramel dipping sauce that's so easy and good I have to share it with you! It tastes great as a dipping sauce, but if you reheat it a little in the microwave, you could use it as a ice cream sauce  or anywhere else you use caramel sauce.
We put ours in these little canning jars, then put the jars in a small cellophane jar with an apple on top. The bag was tied, with a tag attached that said: "To a sweet friend".  It was very cute and would make a nice gift for a friend, or even a teacher.

 Easy Caramel Sauce

1 stick butter 
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
a pinch of salt 

Melt butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add brown sugar and whisk vigorously to combine.
Add cream. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add vanilla and salt. Stir until combined. Cool, then store in refrigerator. Mixture will thicken as it cools. Can be used cool or warmed.

    Tuesday, October 20, 2015

    Wordless Wednesday

    (I don't think the bluebird read the sign!)

    Monday, October 19, 2015

    Messy visitors

    It's Fall and in our yard that means acorns.  For some reason, the last 2 years we have had more acorns than ever.  When they fall they hit the roof, and sometimes it wakes us up at night.  If it's windy, it sounds like they are being thrown at the house.  We literally cannot step on our yard without stepping on more than one acorn.  Bob has already removed several wheelbarrows full of acorns, and you would never know it.
    Bob isn't happy about all these acorns, but we have some visitors that are really enjoying them.

    Isn't this little chipmunk cute?  If you look at the background of these pictures, you will see the thousands of acorns that are filling up our yard.

    The funny thing is that these critters don't like to eat the acorns in the grass.  They take them to our front steps, sit there and eat them. Here's another front step visitor.

     "Well, hello there!"

     "Don't mind me - I'm just having a little snack."

    "What?  You don't like the mess I leave?"

     "Just leave me alone.  You can sweep it up when I leave".

    And this is what we're left with...   Oh well, I like to watch them!

    Sunday, October 18, 2015

    Fall in West Michigan

    Last week my daughter Heather and I both had the same day off.  It was a gorgeous day so we decided to drive some back roads and look at the Fall colors.  We also stopped at a few cute shops!  What a fun day!  I pulled off the road and took lots of photos.  Here's a few of them.  The color isn't quite peak yet, but it's close and it's so pretty.

     Lots of green here yet.

     A familiar scene around here.

     The plants in front of the trees are blueberry bushes.

    This is a celery farm I worked at in high school.  You can see they are still harvesting.

    What a fun day!