Thursday, July 31, 2014

Artisan bread

My aunt gave me a recipe for No-Knead Dutch Oven Bread.

I finally made it.

It is so easy! And unbelievable good.

I also found the same recipe on this blog and the writer discusses that this recipe is no-fuss. No matter what you do, you can't ruin it. I'm glad I read that. Sometimes that kind of advice helps me. Especially with dough and yeast. Those two things can be intimidating.

I made the dough yesterday, let it rise overnight, baked it today and we used it for BLT's for dinner.

Next time I'm going to use my smaller cast iron dutch oven. I'm hoping that will give it more height. Not that it really matters. It really is amazingly delicious bread.

Is it too obvious to give thanks for the bread?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

captive audience

You're all so kind. Patiently waiting for my next blog. Not harassing me, asking when I'll write again. I've said before, you can tell when I'm busy… I've been busy.

Monday morning, Bill and I went to St. Joe to spend time with our friends Jenny and John. It's there house where we stay when we go there. They spend most of the year in Qatar. We don't get to see them too often, so we took a few days to spend with them. Well, I did. Bill worked.

We went to the outlet in Michigan City, Indiana. We played the License Pl8te game, because there's an app for that. Check it out, it's great if you love playing that game!

Today, I went to the library to pick up a book, "Clara and Mr. Tiffany; a novel". It's by Susan Vreeland. Kim was telling me about it on our way to Cincinnati. Her book club read it and are going to see the Tiffany exhibit that is currently at the Kalamazoo Museum. I happen to be going to the museum for this exhibit on Friday with Nancy. I had no idea there was a book. But now I do, and I've checked it out from the library.

They just keep making the library easier and smarter to use. Of course that means one has to be smart to use the library. I'm going to have to read more.

I went in and found my book. It was on hold and fortunately I knew where to go. It was when I had to checkout that the trouble started. They don't do it anymore. The librarians. You do it. At a computer. All by yourself.

You need your library card and your password. The password is initially the last four numbers of your phone number. That's all fine and dandy like cotton candy unless you obsess over changing every password because "they" tell you to. Which is what I did.

The very nice librarian came over to help me. I'm very thankful for her kindness and patience. She had to change my password in order for me to check out but that came to an abrupt halt when we discovered I actually needed to renew my card! Huh, they still do that?

They do. And they did.

Back to business. I then went over and checked myself out. It's pretty fancy stuff. There's a specific spot where you have to set all of your books. Not one at a time mind you, all of them, all together. After you scan your library card, all of the books that you just set on that magical spot show up on the computer screen. How does it know?

It doesn't matter because now I know how to check out a book and knowing is half the battle.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Broccoli with our dinner

I haven't written about dinner or new dishes we've tried lately.

Lately, we haven't tried new dishes. I haven't written about dinners we've had.

We've eaten dinner, but lately haven't tried anything new.

It's clear as mud now, right?

I told you we had hot dogs Wednesday night. It turns out it was National Hot Dog Day!

Thursday night I had our Quota summer celebration.

Last night we had B.L.T.'s and corn on the cob. You know that is my favorite combo/summertime dish.

Tonight we had brats and… I made cornmeal broccoli cakes.

It was like a pancake, with cornmeal and flour. It had eggs and baking powder in it. It had a little bit of milk. And, it had cooked broccoli. Except Bill grilled it. So it was grilled broccoli. But it was still cooked. Just on the grill.

I'll stop now.

We had these broccoli cakes. The recipe said it makes 4 servings. Apparently a serving was eight cakes. I made them into pretty good size cakes. Seriously, it made almost two dozen cakes.

I know, my math is incorrect.

They were really good. They were different, but tasty.

Oh, we topped them with goat cheese and crumbled bacon, of course! I also chopped up fresh herbs (oregano, parsley, and thyme) and sprinkled those on top for flavor.

I hope we liked them because we'll be eating them for the next few days.

Friday, July 25, 2014

We're walking...

I have a decent sense of direction. (I'm being modest, I actually have a really great sense of direction.) I can find my car immediately in the mall parking lot. If it's less than three turns, I can find my way to anyone's house once I've been there (more than three and I can still figure it out, the only house that ever stumped me was Bill's house where he grew up in Kentwood, I know when we're close, but that's it). I don't get turned around in a museum even one as big as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC or one that's round like the Guggenheim.

All this to say while we were in Cincinnati, I knew where we were and where everything was. If I didn't know all I had to do was look at a map and I could get us there. I've been there once before; eight years ago when we moved here I drove there to meet up with Shannon and Greg who were there for a Youth Worker's Conference. I walked around with them for an afternoon.

When I went there last week, I knew exactly where we were and where I had been eight years ago.

Last week, anytime we went anywhere, I was in charge of getting us there. I didn't have my umbrella (have you ever taken a walking tour?) so I held up my hand and said, "Follow me, we're walking…" and I would lead the way.

Today, I went for a walk with our friend D.d. who I haven't seen for a year. She is entering her third trimester. She and her husband live about two miles away from us.

We started walking and talking. After awhile, I checked my clock. We had been walking for an hour! Since she and I were close to our house, I offered her some water and a break. Then I walked her back to the halfway-ish point.

I am thankful for all the walking I've been able to do recently.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Pictures of Cincinnati

I will now share with you the pictures that I took on our tour last Thursday.
 Here's the beautiful barn. 
 This is the horse that played Seabiscuit in the movie.
 This is the statue in the middle of the "cemetery".
 And to follow the somber moment, here's Kentucky Hot Brown.
 Dumplin Jean's, where we ate lunch.
Looking back at one side of the town of Midway. 

I took some pictures at the vineyard, but had my ISO set too high so it's sort of washed out. It was a field of grapevines. Google them if you want to see a picture.

I also didn't take any pictures of the hotel. The one night I walked around with Brenda, I didn't have my camera with me. It was after we had gotten ice cream. Here's the link to the hotel, you can at least read the history and see a few pictures. It was amazing!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

In a bun or on a stick

Welcome to 2014 where it costs money in fancy, ritzy hotels to use wifi. Except in the lobby. But because you're in a fancy, ritzy hotel everyone stares at you in disgust because you're blatantly using the free wifi in the lobby.

I got over it, but didn't have time to write. Convention ended with our Installation Banquet which was a lovely event as always. Our new president is Karen Murphy from Australia. Convention 2016 is in Brisbane. I'm going to start saving my pennies so I can go.

Speaking of pennies, I found a nickel on the street in Cincinnati. Yes, I still stop and pick up any change I see.

Did you know today is National Hot Dog day? I heard that on the radio today (although for all I know it was a playback from yesterday). Bill and I celebrated by eating hot dogs for dinner. The more important part of the story is that I grilled them. And they weren't burnt. They were also hot all the way through.

I'm not known for my grilling. The one other time I grilled anything it was burgers (at a friend's house) and I cooked them until they were leather. That has been the extent of my grilling experience. This is the reason why I'm so ecstatic that I cooked hot dogs successfully.

I don't think I'll continue grilling regularly, I'll leave that in Bill's hands. But I do feel as though I accomplished something.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Saturday at Conference

Technically it's called Convention. Conferences are annual events within our new regions. Don't worry, you don't have to remember it. It's all the hierarchal system within Quota.

The wi-fi in the lobby is not nearly as good as Panera.

We're on our lunch break. But I was working on something else and now it's almost time to go back into session.

I just wanted to write something really quick so you knew I was still here and still a part of the 21st century.

I will have to figure out how to link my Twitter and Instagram to my blog so you can see pictures faster! That will be something I'll work on when I get back home.

Friday, July 18, 2014

A Kentucky Tour

Like I said in my post earlier, Kim and I took a tour yesterday. Quota set it up and we were on a bus with about forty other Quotarians (and a few spouses).

We went an hour south to Old Friends, where former race horses go to retire. We got a tour of the facility and got to see many of the ninety plus horses they house there. We also got to pet and feed carrots to the horses.

I took pictures, so I'll have to post those once I get back home.

From Old Friends, we went to Midway. A small town full of southern charm along with train tracks that run straight down the middle of town.

We ate lunch there, I forget the name of the restaurant but I know it's in a picture, where we had Kentucky Hot Brown. If you don't know what that is I'll tell you. It's a piece of toast/bread (we never did figure out if it was actually toasted), covered with shredded turkey, diced ham, bacon, a rue with cheddar, mozzarella, and provolone, topped with a tomato and baked in the oven. It was delicious. This restaurant is also known for it's cobbler and we were all treated to apple cobbler a la mode.

From Midway we went to a vineyard called, Equus Run Vineyards. We got to sample a couple of their wines and then walk around and shop. The owner talked to us about her wines and her grapes. It was great; she was down to earth (she retired from IBM after thirty years to open the vineyard) and hospitable.

From there we came back to our hotel where we met up with other Quotarians to have dinner and ice cream. The local place to go for ice cream is called Graeters. I tried their Buckeye flavor.

In case you didn't know; there is a long running joke that between Michigan and any other state (in my case Indiana) the one thing we can agree on when it comes to sports and our universities is that Ohio State sucks, pardon my language. We have several friends who have lived in Ohio and have gone to schools in Ohio including my in-laws. But we are specifically talking about the Ohio State.

We also refer to Ohio as, "Land of Land". Have you ever driven through Ohio? You might agree. Especially after Kim and my drive down here Wednesday. We did not drive through the pretty side of Ohio.

So Ohio is the butt of jokes, at least around our house.

Which is why I surprised myself by trying the Buckeye flavored ice cream and then was shocked when I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed it so much that it may be my new favorite ice cream flavor of all time.

I know.

Okay, it could be my second because that Jersey Express with the chocolate fudge and peppermint that Hudsonville ice cream made a few years ago does take the #1 spot in my taste.

But still, second place. An Ohio named ice cream. Huh.

I told Shannon that statement because she had asked (or told me to) check out Graeter's. Her response is  very appropriate, "That is a statement with lots of research backing it!!!" How true!

My time is running short here at Panera where the lunch hour has arrived making it a busy place. Plus my laptop is going to die because I didn't bring my charger. I'll see if I can blog again while I'm in the expensive fancy hotel (wi-fi is free in the lobby I discovered). If not, you'll hear from me when I get back home.

Free wi-fi

I am in Cincinnati for our Quota Convention.

Kim and I drove here on Wednesday. It took about six hours with a stop for lunch. That took longer because Kim tried checking her email which decided to act geriatric. (The computer, not Kim.) But we finally made it. Even after driving through parts of Ohio that no one has ever seen. We have to check the setting on her GPS, we think it was set to "scenic".

At any rate, we're staying at the Hilton downtown.

Where they don't have free wi-fi.


It's 2014. The motel down the street has free wi-fi. Panera has free wi-fi.

In case you didn't know, the Hilton hotels are not cheap. So why isn't the wi-fi free? Kim decided to call the front desk because, after all, she is a Hilton Honors member.

She doesn't have the higher tier of membership though.


And then there's parking. Valet parking is as expensive here as it is in Chicago.

Our tour guide yesterday told us Cincinnati is the 26th largest populated city in the U.S. Except I googled it and on the top 50 list I found, Cincinnati did not make it. So how in the world can they charge the same for valet that a hotel in Chicago does? It's outrageous. They think very highly of themselves here at the Hilton in Cincinnati.

I'll end my rant for now and write another blog about the tour we took yesterday.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A fun day at Meijer Gardens

Last week we met friends at Meijer Gardens. I didn't post pictures then, so I'll share them today.

 The waterfall.
 Pretty flowers.
 Queen Bee.
 I have another photo just like this from seven years ago. Skylar is a little taller now. 
 The pond with shades of green.
 Aunt Em and Skylar.
 We saw a chipmunk,
 and several turtles,
 and a family of swans!
Skylar's hanging with her peeps, Mr. & Mrs. Fred Meijer.
It was a very fun day, and it was fun to hang out with the Robinson's.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Another road trip

I went to Shipshewana today with my friend Nancy. I'll get to that in a minute. What I want to share first is that as I was driving home on 131, I realized I just drove the entire length of it. Last Friday with Skylar we went as far north as we could and today I took it the rest of the way south. While it can be driven easily in one day, it took me four days to complete. It's 266 miles long. You can read more about it here. This kind of information fascinates me. I like maps, roads and road trips. Bill always says we should buy an RV and head out to explore. I am on board with that 100%.

Back to Shipshewana. I had never been there before. Nancy hadn't either. We drove into town, parked in the first lot we came to which was relatively empty (one row of cars out of six or seven rows had cars in it), and we walked down to the Visitor's Center.

It turns out that the Flea Market is today and tomorrow. The line of cars headed into its parking lot was astounding. The woman at the Visitor's Center told us about the downtown area and the 120 shops that fill that area.

One hundred and twenty shops fill the area around one square block.

We filled our day walking in and out of shops. We were surprised at how cheap everything is. We ate lunch on the rooftop of a large shopping center (that helped to explain several of the 120 shops) and split a piece of dutch apple pie.

As we took things we purchased back to the car, the parking lot got fuller and fuller.

We never stepped foot in the Flea Market.

We decided next time we need to check out the museum to learn more about the Amish and Mennonite culture and we will avoid Flea Market day. We will also be sure to check out some of the furniture stores (we didn't go in a single one today).

I'm thankful for simplicity and honesty.

Monday, July 14, 2014

I got it all done

My to-do list that is.

I can't believe it. Usually it takes me much longer and I panic and have to do things the following day.

I guess my time-management skills finally kicked in.

What all did I do today? Well, sit back and I will tell you:

I ran 3 miles, I did yoga and my exercises, I mowed the lawn, I trimmed the hedges, I weeded (which wasn't on the list), I planted three plants (bee balm, also not on the list), I ran to the store, I put gas in my car, I did two loads of laundry, I picked up stuff around the house, I balanced the checkbook, I paid bills, I made myself dinner, and I even had time to shower! Which was a really good thing because by then I was not smelling so pretty.

Also on my list was to run the vacuum, but I did that yesterday.

I'm ready for bed.

It's really not an amazing feat, all that I accomplished. I didn't cure cancer. I didn't end world hunger. But I can't look at it like that. It's the small things we do each day. I heard a radio DJ talking about a college graduation where the guest speaker was a four star general. He told the graduating class that no matter what they do each day they should get up and make their beds. That way, no matter what happens throughout your day, the one thing you accomplished was making your bed. And at the end of the day, when you look back at all you did, you crawl back into a bed that was the first thing you did.

I'm thankful for the ability to cross things off a to-do list.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Thursday & Friday with Skylar

Thursday we went Grand Haven. It was sunny and gorgeous. You can just make out the lighthouse behind us in the photo.
 Then we went to Jersey Junction.
We also baked cookies when we got home. Then we delivered a plate of them to our friend Jess who is nine months pregnant. It turns out she had been craving cookies that day!

Friday, we got up early and drove to Petoskey. Neither one of us have ever been there. It was a much bigger town than I expected. We shopped for a few hours and ate lunch at Parkside Deli which has delicious sandwiches. Then we drove over to Petoskey State Park and hung out on the beach.
It was a cloudy day, but the temperature was 75, so it was nice and warm. Skylar and I tried taking a hike, but we didn't have bug spray. About a quarter of a mile in, I looked over at her and her back was swarmed by mosquitos. She looked at me at the same time and said mine was also swarmed by mosquitos. We turned around and walked back out quickly.
Then we drove over to Harbor Springs. We walked around there, got ice cream at Velvet's, and sat down by the harbor to eat it.
Then we ate dinner at a place called Turkey's (named after the owner who got the nickname in high school after spraining both ankles playing football and was walking around the field like a "turkey" as the coach said). Later I sent Bill a text telling him where we had gone and he knows Turkey! Well, he met him once.

Skylar and I headed back to Grand Rapids.
We stopped to take a picture and another car pulled over to ask if we needed help. We found that to be Midwestern at its heart, but also funny because we counted at least twelve cars that were randomly pulled over to the side of the road in the course of the entire trip. No one else was stopped at the 45th Parallel to take pictures. We're awesome like that.
Here are some stones we found at the beach. At least two of them are genuine Petoskey stones, the rest are just stones we found in Petoskey. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Me, Myself, and I

Skylar went home today.

Bill is in North Carolina.

I'm all alone. All by myself.

It's always quieter here after Skylar has come for a visit.

We had a lot of fun.

I realize I didn't blog Thursday or Friday. My goal is to do that tomorrow along with a few pictures.

The only good part about being home alone is that I can go to bed whenever I want to. Tonight, that is going to be right now. Good night.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Wednesday with Skylar

Our day was a little quieter.

After a lazy morning, Skylar and I met friend's of mine (and Bill's) at Meijer Gardens. The family Robinson (yup, that's their name) are vacationing in South Haven (they live down in Indy). That's an annual tradition for Chris and Leslie but this year they brought the whole family. When they've gone to South Haven in the past, they have also made the shorter drive to GR to visit us.

We had a fun time at the gardens. I have a couple of pictures. I didn't have the chance to get them on my computer because once Skylar and I came home we went out to dinner with Uncle Bill before he leaves early tomorrow morning for his work camp trip.

Then we watched Ghostbusters.

Skylar and I are going to see Uncle Bill and the Sr. High youth off in the morning, so it's off to bed.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Tuesday with Skylar

We had a very busy day.

After staying up way too late blogging and chatting, I got up this morning way too early.

Once I finished getting ready, I woke up Skylar and we went to Meijer. We also stopped at Russo's for root beer. Greg and his family have a summer bucket list and they had a root beer tasting (read about it here). Skylar and I picked out four root beers to try; Virgil's, Dog 'N Suds, Boylan, and Henry Weinhard's Root Beer. They also had Dang (which we've had) and Dad's (which we've had). There were a few others but we limited ourselves to four.

We did not do a blind taste test. We did have a sample of each. My favorite in order were the H.W., Dog 'N Suds, Boylan, and dead last is Virgil's. The guy at the store said Virgil's was his favorite. Unfortunately for us it has licorice in it and neither one of us is a fan of licorice. Anise. Don't like it. So if anyone reading this blog does like it, leave a comment and I would be happy to let you have the other three bottles.

We went downtown to the city market. That was the first time I have been there. It's fantastic! We bought some Michigan cherries and blueberries at one of the outside farmer's stands. We bought some chocolates and breads inside and walked around. There are still a few empty spaces but it seemed to be busy.

After a quick stop at CVS because Skylar accidentally forgot some medicine (just amoxicillin, nothing too important) we walked to Ken's.

Then we made No-Bake cookies, Rice Krispy treats and we were going to make white chocolate chip, dried cranberry oatmeal cookies but we used all the sugar. We took another trip to Ken's to buy more sugar and we came back and made the cookies.

I made Club Em's for dinner (chicken, bacon, avocado, cheese - Gouda today on a hard roll - pretzel bun today) and beer battered onion rings.

I washed dishes and we watched the Tigers game. Now it's time for bed. We have another long and fun-filled day tomorrow.

Monday, July 7, 2014

summer 2014 visit with Skylar

Skylar is here!

This is news because up until about 9:45am this morning, we weren't sure if she was going to make it up here for a visit.

Back in early May she tore her ACL playing soccer. She had an MRI because they weren't sure if it was her ACL or her meniscus. Thankfully it's just her ACL but she has to have surgery. Her doctor referred her to an orthopedic surgeon who referred her to a pediatric orthopedic surgeon because her growth plate hasn't fused. She's 15 years old and she's still going to grow. The surgeon had an open spot for an appointment this morning. They scheduled her surgery for next week which meant she could come hang out in America's high five! Woo hoo!!

I'm excited.

I'll be sharing what we do this week. She says, "This is so rad."

Clearly I'm thankful that she is here. She says I should be thankful for her awesome view.

I'll just leave it at that.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Small Fish

You must be able to tell by now when I'm busy having fun. I don't blog. Unless I have time to tell you about how much fun I'm having.

Happy Independence Day! (A day late, but still being celebrated by many.)

We finally made it to Cicero, Indiana for the 4th of July fireworks. Bill also got to experience the Symphony on the Prairie

I hope that it's been a fun way to celebrate our Independence Day and that he got a small taste of what I grew up experiencing.

Growing up near Morse Reservoir meant that we had fireworks no matter what (a few summers ago was the first time since my parents have lived here that they had to cancel the fireworks because it was that dry). For this tiny town, the fireworks show is amazing. The town has about 3,000 people. The fireworks are huge and last a good twenty minutes. I haven't seen a show this good since Bill and I went to South Haven a few years ago.

In 2009, the town celebrated its 175th anniversary. They had a huge celebration with civil war reenactments, vendors, games, and live concerts in the park. From then on the vendors and reenactors have come back. It's not just a one-day celebration but it all lasts for three days. Also, the 4th is when the fireworks display is set off no matter what day of the week.

The UMC I grew up in has always held a fish fry around the 4th too.

It has always been a big deal in this small town.

When Bill and I were first dating, he was in the boating business (retail, not marina). Summers were not his down time in case you aren't a boater.

Two or three years ago I said something to Bill about Symphony on the Prairie and he reminded me that he had never been to a show. It was then that I declared we were going to go to Cicero for the 4th. Last year he was unable to make it because the Sr. High left on the 5th for their work camp trip. Which was fine because I drove to Cicero and had food poisoning (I thought I blogged about it but I did not, instead I blogged about this, which I played the other day and got to 44 on our way to Cicero). Since the 4th was on Friday this year, I put my foot down and said we were coming to Cicero.

We made it.

I had a wonderful 4th just like the ones I remember.

I'm thankful for our freedom.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

wedding attire

As the Wedding Coordinator for our church, I see a lot. Specifically the tardiness of guests along with their attire.

If you're offended by this post, then I'm talking about you.

In my humble opinion I believe that if you are invited to a wedding that is taking place in a church, regardless of what you typically wear to church, you should dress up. Jeans and t-shirts are not acceptable. Save that for the wedding that is at a ranch.

Perhaps wedding invitations need to start doing what cruise lines do; tell their guests what to wear.

Suggested attire for a casual wear: sport shirts and slacks for men (this does not mean a sweat-wicking athletic shirt), sundresses or pants for women.

That seems reasonable, as long as you know what sport shirts are.

Smart Casual: Jackets and ties for men, dresses or pantsuits for women.

That leaves formal, which most people know but don't necessarily follow: Suits and ties or tuxedos for men, cocktail dresses for women.

In my opinion, a cocktail dress does not mean a brightly colored and sequined dress that a teenager might wear to a homecoming dance. I looked up the actual definition and am surprised, so I'll let you read about it here.

Maybe I'm old-fashioned, or was raised conservatively but the things I see people wear make me shudder. I wouldn't even consider buying something like that let alone leave the house in it if I did. Unless it's Halloween.

I'll have to talk about the tardiness of guests at a different time. In the meantime, just know that the sport shirt I was talking about is the reason for this post. Bill asked that I make sure he never leave the house for a wedding dressed like that. Considering he wore a suit to the wedding on Saturday, I don't think I'll have to worry about how he dresses. I'm thankful that Bill knows how to dress and look good.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

road side attractions

Typically when I drive up north, I see interesting things along the road. For instance, yesterday morning I saw a mama duck and little baby ducks crossing the road. I spotted them from far away and slowed down to let them cross.

I've seen wild turkeys.

Yesterday I saw a boat. A small motorboat in the median. The boat was upside down!

How does that happen?

It made me wonder.

On our way back to Heather's house this afternoon we saw Bambi! I don't think I've ever seen a baby deer that had similar spots to Bambi. It was cute.

It's fun to see all the wildlife up there. We've seen a Bald Eagle and it's nest (and now it's young eaglets). We saw a painted turtle. We've seen a Great Blue Heron.

Now I just have to stay awake late enough to see a starry sky.