Wednesday, September 26, 2012

To paint or not to paint? That is the question.

To paint or not to paint? It wasn't really a question. The question should have been "when to paint?". After many weeks of shying away from choosing a color that is not too intrusive, but not white, a decision was made. We went with a color called Oat Straw. It looked kind of dark(ish), very neutral, fresh and clean. Great! Well, I finished the walls and my son asked me why I was painting the walls white. This is not what I wanted to hear, not at all. Now that the walls are done, the color is so non-intrusive that you don't really know that it's there. Well, I do because after all of the repairs to years of nicks and dents from countless children in the house, I almost screamed that I never wanted to fill, patch or sand another thing....ever. The small repairs had me crazed. Then I just kept seeing tiny imperfections on the walls and just kept fixing them. I know, it's my own fault, no one else to blame but me.

Things are rolling along well, just need to paint the ceiling and a few interior doors, but the bulk of the job is done. It's been very slow progress as everyone in the house has, one after the other, gotten "The Crud" that's going around. Me being the first one and right during the time that was my turn to paint. I did all of the walls, TM did the trims, and we'll do the ceiling Thank goodness. I just want my kitchen back in order. Not to mention the fact that it's impossible to decorate for fall when the kitchen is in a complete state of disarray. So, back to the painting and then I can get back to the fun stuff, like crafting, and decorating the house. No pics to show today, because I need all of my energy to climb up the ladder. And down the ladder. And back up the ladder. You get the picture.

Go play in the dirt!
It's a great time of year to get the garden in order for the upcoming colder months.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Jute Wrapped Apple

With autumn quickly approaching, I find myself thinking of apples, pumpkins, leaves, and snuggling into the warmth of home and the household schedule that comes with kids returning to school. My first thought is always the feel of the house when everyone is home in the evening. The smells that come with autumn, the deeper, homey scents that come from baking pies, breads, cookies, and the crisp scents from the outside wafting in through open windows. When those things fail to produce smells that make me want to cuddle up with a book, I turn to candles. In addition to the smells, what do I see in the house? Well, I like to decorate with each season, so for now I'm thinking apples. 

When TM and I went away for a weekend last autumn, we stopped in a tiny shop where I found the cutest twine wrapped pear. I only bought one, because I just couldn't justify paying that kind of money for any more. During the Easter and spring season, I wrapped eggs in jute, not to mention a tiny jar for a bud vase. I had lots of jute left over and used some to wrap a wreath that I am working on, and still had more left over. It was a pretty big spool. So onto the apples then, one cute little jute wrapped apple would be adorable. Having an abundance of fake apples from the past two years, I thought to use one of those. This worked out perfectly, as there was one little apple that had a hole in it that I kept trying to hide last year. Good thing I didn't throw it away, because now I can reuse it. Yippee!!!!!!!

 Here's the apple that I started with, the hole is on the other side. The stem and leaf came right off, it was just glued into the styrofoam on the inside.

Here you can see the hole. I grabbed some sand paper from the garage and scuffed the surface, it was quite smooth and I wanted to make sure that the glue adhered well. 

Other than the sand paper, this is all that I used: my trusty old glue gun, left over jute that I originally purchased at 40% off, glue sticks (those are a staple in my craft supplies), and one damaged fake apple.

Starting at the top, I put on some glue, then started to wrap the jute around the apple, making sure to use only as much glue as I needed to wrap one or to rotations at a time. I had to be careful not to cover the hole that the stem and leaf came out of, I used the same hole when it came time to reattach them. Careful, that glue gets really hot....really, really hot!

I kept this up until the whole thing was wrapped, about 20 minutes. Ta-da!!!!!!! Easy, easy, easy! And a lot less expensive than the store bought versions. Just needed to put the stem and leaf back on.

A little glue in the hole that was left when I removed the stem and leaf, and a little on the stem itself, pushed the little peg back in the hole, and done. How cute is that?!!!!

There is the little pretty apple from the top, cute as can be. It's nice to have the apple shape, without the color, but a more neutral color, and the added texture from the jute is an addition to any spot in the house.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Sopapilla Cheesecake

You might want to put your diet on hold for a piece of this yumminess. You will want to eat it, and when you warned this is not for the weak, you'll want another piece. However, you won't get another piece because everyone else will have already eaten it, leaving you with a mere crumb. Awwww, sorry, buddy. This is a great and extremely easy recipe. Even you say you're not a baker, this is easy. One of the mom's from my son's swim team shared this recipe, she doesn't use the almonds, to be careful of nut allergies (good thinking), and she drizzled the top with honey while it was still hot (again, good thinking.) I did happen to find this online as well, at

The recipe follows and is for a 9 x 13 pan for the full recipe. I decided to try making a smaller pan, because I really don't need it sitting there tempting me for any longer than necessary. Instead, my pictures show that it is smaller pan (8 x 8), and that I have only used half of the ingredients. Therefore the pictures just show the steps.

Crescent Rolls, cream cheese, cinnamon, butter, honey, sugar, and vanilla. That's all you need.

Combine cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla in a mixing bowl.

Beat until smooth.

Roll out crescent rolls. One can is used for the top and one can is used for the bottom. (Since I was making half of the recipe, I used half of the can on top and the other half on the bottom.)

One can of crescent rolls pressed in the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan. I don't bother with using a rolling pin, just use the ol' fingers and press it right in the bottom of the pan, pinching the perforations together as well. Much quicker this way. (And one less item to wash afterwards.)

Spread the cream cheese mixture evenly over the crescent roll dough.

Tip: When rolling out the second can of Crescent rolls for the top crust, lay a larger piece of plastic wrap on the counter top, then roll the dough on the plastic wrap. The dough sticks to the plastic wrap (just enough), making it easier to put the dough on top. And no, I don't use a rolling pin, I just use my fingers to pinch the perforated lines together and spread it out as I go, until it looks like it's the correct size. (Very precise of me, right?)

With the dough pressed into the desired size, on the plastic, pick up the plastic on the long side, you can even hold onto the corners of the dough a bit. Then lay it flat on top of the filling, with the plastic side up. Then remove the plastic. 

Now the plastic is removed and your top crust is in place. How easy was that?

Add the remaining sugar and the cinnamon in a small bowl.

Mix the cinnamon and sugar together.

Melt the butter in a small dish. I find that the recipe calls for a lot of butter, I reduce the amount that I use.

First drizzle the butter over the top of the dough, then sprinkle the sugar & cinnamon mixture over the buttered dough. Put it in the oven and let it bake. The smell coming from your oven will have your family salivating.

The recipe that I found online doesn't call for honey, but the person that gave the recipe added this little step and it is much better. Don't mind the fancy honey, it was leftover from a gift basket I received last Christmas. All of the regular, Meijer brand honey was gone, so I used this wonderful Hale brand.

This is the what the dessert looks like when it comes out of the oven. 

While it's still hot, drizzle honey all over the top. How much? It's up to you and your personal taste. Use a bit, it will soak in as it sits. Step back, look at it and admire, but you must wait for it to cool before you cut it. 3 hours. After cooling, I like to put it in the refrigerator for a while. I find it much better served a bit chilled. This is a great recipe to make ahead, the night or day before. 

After it's been refrigerated, I cut it into small pieces, it's very rich. For a 9 x 13 pan I cut it into 24 pieces.

Eat up!!!!
There you have it, one quick easy and delicious dessert. My family loves it, even my wonderful husband, TM, and he is not much of a sweets eater. It's a crowd pleaser.

                Sopapilla Cheesecake Dessert

Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 45 Minutes
Ready In: 3 Hours
Servings: 12 (cut them smaller - 24 pieces)
"Cream cheese, canned crescent rolls, cinnamon, and almonds create this delicious, Mexican-inspired dessert."

3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese,
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 (8 ounce) cans crescent roll dough

1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup sliced almonds (optional)
Honey (added touch)

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Beat the cream cheese with 1 1/2 cups of sugar, and the vanilla extract in a bowl until smooth. Unroll the cans of crescent roll dough, and use a rolling pin to shape the each piece into 9x13 inch rectangles. Press one piece into the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Evenly spread the cream cheese mixture into the baking dish, then cover with the remaining piece of crescent dough.
Drizzle the melted butter evenly over the top of the cheesecake. Stir the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar together with the cinnamon in a small bowl, and sprinkle over the cheesecake along with the almonds.
Bake in the preheated oven until the crescent dough has puffed and turned golden brown, about 45 minutes. (This is when I drizzle honey on top) Cool completely in the pan before cutting into 12 squares. (I cut them smaller)

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Fallasburg Covered Bridge

One of the stops we made this summer was in Lowell, Mi. There is a covered bridge there, it was featured in my wall calendar for the year. And seeing that all of the other bridges were in other states, and this one was pretty close and on our route to camping, I had to see it. TM obliged and we made the stop, I think he enjoyed it more than I did, and that was a lot.

Fallasburg Covered Bridge

My wall calendar for the year show 12 different covered bridges from around the country. I have spent quite a bit of time looking at them online as well.

Sign: $5 fine for going faster than a walk
The sign is awesome! Of course, there was no one around to collect the fines, but hey. They should put a little bucket out and let people pay using the honest person's merit system. I bet this is beautiful during the autumn.

It is a historic site
Lots of interesting information was offered throughout the little historic district where the bridge leads.

Over the side looking at the river

Better view of the river. Where are the kayaks when you want them?

Inside the covered bridge
Have you ever walked on a covered bridge? It just feels old and historic, it's a nice feeling. Try it.

The architecture is amazing
The structures are fascinating when you think about how long they have been standing, it's had some work done on it, but the design is the same.

Yes, I'm still in the car.

The old school. Note the outhouse.
Imagine back in the day when little Susie or Bobby had to use the rest room during arithmetic lessons. On with boots and heavy coats and out to the out house they went. Brrrrrr. Sounds a bit chilly doesn't it?

Farm machinery?
Love this picture. It just makes me smile. Something about old farms and machinery.

The Farm
Again, this is just a wonderful picture. Grab a blanket, a book and a glass of whatever you like to sip on  and hang out under the tree for a while.

Misner House built in 1850.
The trumpet vine is quite lovely with its red-orange trumpet shaped flowers. Very pretty.

Tower Farm built in 1896.

Fallass House. 
Love this little house. It is so quaint. Just imagine the hustle and bustle when it was a family home.

It just looks homey.

Want to go for a ride?

Inside the bridge.

Fallasburg Park Sign.
So there is the shortened version of the picture tour of the Fallasburg covered bridge and park, not to mention the historic district in Lowell, MI. Beautiful area. I will visit again someday, hopefully at the peak of the color season during the autumn. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Still here....June, July, and August whereabouts?

Goodness gracious. Oh me. Oh my. Where did the time go? Busy. Busy. Busy. Life happens in the summer. The kids have been out of school, TM works less hours in the summer and that means more time for doing, stuff. We've had our share of outings.

Organizing? NOPE! And I say that with dread as my plan was to get the house well organized this summer. Oh well, that comes soon, as in starting today, now that the kids are back in school and the house is relatively empty, except for the college student child that seems to pop into the kitchen just as I am cleaning the swath of destruction left by the morning rush. Next week he gets his own pair of rubber gloves to help clean.

Back to the subject at hand....the waning summer. We stayed busy and were gone a lot, maybe too much, but what a fun summer, not to mention really hot. Here are just a few pictures of our travels, a very small fraction, I should have kept you up to date with each trip. Sorry.

On the highway, even this horse thought it was too hot. Catchin' a little air.
On our way home from a camping trip, going down a busy highway, and there was a horse trailer. The horse has his head out the window, like a dog. It was funny and oh so cute.

Tiger's baseball game at Comerica Park. Go Tabbies!!!!!!!!!!

We went to a Tiger's baseball game on a tour bus with about 60 people total, co-workers of my husband and lots of friends and family. This was a fun time, I would do it again. Fun was had by all.

Lots of kayaking down the White River.
I have kayaked more this summer than in my entire life. What a blast and a great way to spend an afternoon, lazily paddling down the river.

White Tail Deer Farm. Really? A deer farm?
 Okay, they are beautiful, but why the farm? Did some research, and there are quite a few deer farms in Michigan. They are also in the wild!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Old Tractor. I love old machinery, it must be from being the mother of boys.
 This reminded me of one of my kid's toys when they were little. What a great old tractor. It just sits there calling to me every time we pass it.

Neat old farm.
 This farm is on the same 2 lane highway, I love the way the plants climb the silo.

You can just barely make out the horses just past the trees. Yes we were driving down the two lane highway.
Don't you just love snapping shots as your ride along in the car? The horses were doing their horse thing as we whizzed by on the same 2 lane highway.

Who doesn't love a turtle? Kayaking down the White River again.
Okay, so more kayaking on the White River. I do believe this is a painted turtle, the picture is a little blurry, but that's what it looks like. More lazy days on the river, sometimes with friends, sometimes with family, sometimes just by ourselves. What fun.

Same day on the White River.
How beautiful everything looks from a kayak. We actually saw a pair of bald eagles and a baby at the beginning of the season. Really wasn't expecting it and it was a little scary....two huge birds just took flight from one tall tree to another as we rounded a bend in the river. Sorry, no camera with me that day. After researching, it was true, that is what we saw, bald eagles.

A campfire is a must, especially if you want to roast marshmallows.
Lots of campfires this summer, I'm not sure that some of my clothes will every lose that smell. Not sure that I really want them to, I do love a good campfire. Many an evening spent with friends and family this summer around a campfire. Luckily, campfire season is just gearing up now that autumn is on its way.

The next day on the White River. We did a lot of kayaking this summer.
What lovely photo of a place we like to take a little break on the banks of the river. Bittersweet memories, as it was the last photo that I took with that particular camera. My trusty point and shoot Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5 finally bit the dust. Well technically, it swallowed water. After much thought, months and months, I made the decision to get a big girl camera. You got it, a brand spankin' new Canon Rebel T3 was just what I wanted. TM told me to go for it, and I did before he changed his mind, possibly before he got the words out of his mouth. So I had my old faithful point and shoot and a nice new big girl camera. About a week later, shortly after this photo was taken, while at the half way point of our kayak trip, 3 young ladies had tipped their canoe and I needed to get out and go the the little girls room, a.k.a. the port-a-pottie. Wouldn't you know it, distracted by trying to tell the young ladies to flip the canoe to get the water out so they could drag it onto the shore, I forgot about my camera, stood up, and it fell into the water. Dang, it was like a dear friend whom I had known for many years.

This is what pictures look like after you've dropped your camera in the water. Not good, not good at all.
Yes, this is what it looks like when your camera has been dropped in the water. So long old friend. I dried it out in a bowl of rice for about two weeks, but it still has some issues to say the least. It works, just not very well. So another new camera? You got it, I love a good point and shoot....easy to pack, but I won't pack it in my kayak again unless I have it strapped around my neck and enclosed in a waterproof case. So, meet my new Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS8.

Sleeping not disturb!!!!!
Still takes great pictures for a point and shoot. Btw.......teenagers growl when you try to wake them up with a camera pointed at them and hide very quickly. This is inside the camper.

Not a Los Angeles Kings fan, but always a hockey fan. This was cool as cool can get.
Yes, the Stanley Cup came to town and we had to see it. Mike Greene of the L. A. Kings brought to his home town here in Michigan and we live pretty close. It was not an option not to go. Yep, a double negative, that means we were definitely going to see the cup.

I take that back, seeing the Stanley Cup was as cool as cool can get. Yes!!!!!!!!
It's a thing of beauty!! No more can be said. Well it would be even more beautiful had it been the Red Wings that won the Stanley Cup. Oh well, there is alway the upcoming season. Go Wings!!!!! Big hockey fan.

Can you say big bluish-green bubble? No, it's not an indoor driving range.
Big, blue....thingy in the museum district in Flint, Michigan. My cousin got married and the wedding was in the Planetarium there, with the reception held in the museum across the street. I know!!!!! Really?! It was very cool!! They got married under the stars, how romantic. A museum for a reception hall? Great idea. Decorations are built in with all of the history that is in the museum. What an experience, and we even got treated to a nice laser light show after the ceremony while they did their wedding photos.

A nice view after a wonderful dinner with my husband after our romantic anniversary dinner.
TM and I celebrated our 5th anniversary and had dinner at one of our favorite places, The English Inn. It is so beautiful there, I just love it. We took a walk around the grounds and sat on a bench on the river bank for a while after dinner. Aaahhhh.

Stopping to find the rainbow. It ended in the middle of the field and no one would go look for the pot of gold.
If you look closely, you can see the leprechaun and the pot of gold out there in the field...not really. But how pretty to see a rainbow end in a field.

A double rainbow, the top rainbow is a little hard to see in this pic.
Amazing, rainbows are such a beautiful occurrence. They make everyone smile. Right?

Note to anyone who will listen. Don't feed cats at a campground, you'll have instant weekend pets. But they are so cute!!
Stray cats at the campground. There were 2 kittens about 2 weeks before, by the time we got back there was only the momma cat and 1 kitten. Some lucky kitten found a home. TM graciously name these two Smoke and Fire.

A nice Amish family with their new fangled sign on the back. There are debates about using the signs or not.
Driving through an Amish community on the way to Higgins Lake we saw a few Amish "cars". They lead such simple and productive lives. Humble people with great work ethics, we could only hope to achieve such high standards. Weeks before we drove through the same community on a Sunday, everyone was dressed for church. All dressed in black and white and very dapper.

Nice old farm.
Farm country. I just like farms, just imagine all of the work that goes into farming. Early to bed, early to rise.

Big machinery....again, I raised boys. Enough said. 
More machinery, my boys would have been bursting to get closer to this when they were little. Now I get a grumble...."Mom, I know.....I know, it's a farm equipment." One day the will again be fascinated by these big monsters, probably when they are grown and have children of their own.

On the main highway, what a cool building, it was for a college, but I don't remember which one.
I just don't know, but it warranted a picture. What a neat building.

We even saw vicious bear. Oh how scary. Chuckle, chuckle, snort, snort.
Sometimes you just have to laugh.

Someone threw away a perfectly good Sunoco sign. 
Well, have you ever seen a huge Sunoco sign sitting next to a dumpster? Is it waiting to be picked on trash day? I found this absolutely amusing and giggled for quite a while.

Obscured sunset on Lake Michigan. Beautiful.
Back at the beach on Lake Michigan. The beauty of this state is breath taking. Between all of the waters and the trees, it just doesn't get any better than this. Check out some of the Pure Michigan Ads. Make sure to scroll down also. What a great state.

A pier (one of many) on Lake Michigan.
Again a great state. This was just to the left of the above picture, a ways down the beach.

My furry girls look thrilled to have me home. Don't they look like they missed me? Cats.
This was so cute, they look like they are guarding the top of the stairs. Watch out, they might move if you get too close. Probably not, you have to be careful when you step over them, because they won't move. Sometimes they're like little rugs. Those are my furry girls, Dahlia on the left and Daisy on the right.

June, July, and August brought many a sight and lots of fun. The Higgins Lake beach house rental complements of my MIL for the entire family was another success this year, sisters, brothers, nieces, friends, you name it. A good time was had by all, even though it was a little quiet this year. Year One was in Michigan City, IN. Year Two was in New Era, MI. An then this year at Higgins Lake. It's a fun time.

So there you have it, all caught up. Now it's time to settle back into home life as school has started and Autumn is just around the corner, you can feel it in the air. I'm ready to start organizing, cleaning, baking, decorating and crafting. Anyone want to join me? But I still have to take care of the garden first.

Go play in the dirt!!!!