Saturday, October 30, 2010

Girls Stockholm Trip

The Smiling Pelican Bakeshop in Maiden Rock, WI.
An unbelievably good bakery - worth the trip!
We bought cookies, muffins and a loaf of bread just waiting to be tasted.

Mom and the girls just outside the bakeshop with our goodies. Yum!

The old post office and now museum in Stockholm.

We usually eat at Bogus Creek Cafe in Stockholm.
The food is good and they always give you a basket of fresh
baked breads with flavored butter. Mmmmm!

Leah sees what is left for her after Emily ate her fill.
(Not really! It's a joke guys!)

My lunch, Chicken & Dumpling Soup. Yum!

Leah sitting in the arbor and petting the
Bogus Creek dog.

The entry to a lovely amish furniture shop.
I'm a sucker for a red front door!
This sign was inside the amish shop.
I think I need a sign like this to hang in my house!

Stockholm has blue bicycles located throughout the town
that you are free to borrow and ride about.

Leah showing me the Zak bowl she wants for Christmas.
She's already got a Zak cup that she loves!

A cute little hut at the Chicken Coop Antique shop.

I loved this display of antique colored glass in the window.
Isn't it beautiful?

Today was the day my mom and daughters and I made our annual fall trek down to Stockholm, WI. It's just over an hour south of us and it makes a delightful day trip. We've been going down there since Leah was a baby and she's now 14 so you have an idea of how many trips we've made.

It all began fifteen years ago when my dear husband and I were driving south for a special anniversary outing to a bed and breakfast. Just so you know, Mike is not really a B&B kinda guy. He's not all that into "quaint" and he deems B&Bs very quaint. Even so, way back then it was our five year anniversary and we wanted to do something special and so he was willing to endure quaint for a couple nights. As we drove to our first B&B we drove through Stockholm at night and I oohed and ahhed over a beautiful old building all lit up. It was an Amish quilt shop and it just beckoned to me. Did we stop? No, we did not. Mike is not a shopper and even the pull of Amish quilts was not enough to make him change his mind! He told me to go back and visit with my mom at a later date and I took him up on it!

So, for about 15 years we've been enjoying visiting Stockholm. Some shopkeepers have grown to be old friends through the years. One woman in particular has helped me decorate my home! I've got things from her shop all over my house! Sadly, (for me) she just sold her shop and today was probably the last time I'll see her. I had my daughter take a photo of the two of us "just because". Other shops have come and gone through the years. We still miss Pepin Toys, a wonderful toy shop run by two sisters. That place was a treasure! Still, many wonderul old favorites remain and we are always making the acquaintance of new people as well.

The weather was cool and fall-like but the sun was shining and we enjoyed a box of chocolates I grabbed for the road. Mmmmmm... It was truly a delightful day. I'm so blessed to have these special times with my mother and daughters. What a treat!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Shredding It Up!

Okay, for those of you who are out of it like I am, you may think I'm talking about cleaning up my desk and getting rid of old papers. Ha! I wish! No, I'm talking about a new (to me) work out that I'm doing with my girls. It's a Jillian Michaels DVD called "The 30 Day Shred".

I'm so out of it I didn't even know what the heck a "shred" workout was. Now that I've done it twice I'm still not sure. I guess it means being willing to abuse your body and get yelled at by Jillian for 20 minutes. Okay, I'm kidding. It's not that bad and she really doesn't nag that much.

I don't watch a lof of TV so I've never seen this woman in action but according to my beloved children she yells at the contestants on "The Biggest Loser" and runs a boot camp to keep them moving. You probably already knew that.

We're only on Phase 1 out of three phases but I like that it's doable and that it's only 20 minutes long. I can do just about anything for 20 minutes! It's a great workout for my upper body which gets neglected on my walks with my sister and/or the dogs.

I'll let you know if I make the entire 30 days and what kind of results I get with it. I'm all for working out if it means I can eat buttered popcorn when we watch a movie or sample all these treats we've been baking lately!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Pumpkin Carving Party!

My brother-in-law bought his own apple cider press.
They pressed a bunch of apples and we enjoyed fresh cider.

Pumpkin carving artists at work.

A sweet angel checking out her pumpkin.

My girl, giddy about carving her grandma's pumpkin.

Daniel showing off his masterpiece.

My nephew sporting his super-crusader mask and cape.

The girls hanging out.

Isn't she a sweet angel?

My niece and her soldier son.

Daniel's glowing friend "Jack" smiling on the front doorstep.

Today, after church, family and friends met at my sister-in-law and brother-in-law's home in the country for a fun afternoon of fellowship, food and carving pumpkins.

Everyone brought a different kind of soup. I brought Italian Vegetable with Ham and there was Curry Vegetable, Chicken Wild Rice, Mexican Chicken Chowder, Sausage and Cabbage, French Onion and more! That was just the soups. In addition there were too many yummy treats and desserts to list. Let's just say we eat really well at these family get-togethers.

After we ate, everyone moved to the garage to begin the pumpkin carving. We had young and old alike creating all sorts of goofy, pretty, silly and scary pumpkins. It was a lot of fun to watch.

We're home now and getting ready for the week ahead, but we had to put Daniel's jack-o-lantern out on the front step and light a candle to put in it. Jack is out there, smiling and glowing. A fitting end to a wonderful day.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Fabulous Fall Days!

A beckoning fall path.

I love old stumps!

It's fun to walk in the crunchy leaves!

More paths, leading to more trails in the woods.

Don't forget to look up!

When the corn has been picked we can walk out that field, too.

Daniel and I like to make a game out of catching
leaves as they fall from the trees.

The colors were so brilliant on this bright autumn morning.

Here in Wisconsin we've been blessed with a spectacular autumn. It's been warm and sunny and the foliage has been breathtaking. Daniel and I were out for a walk in the woods a couple weeks ago and I snapped a few photos of our lovely outing.
I walked the same path this morning with the dogs and while still beautiful, it looks decidedly different. Most of the trees are bare with just the oaks and buckthorns still clinging to their leaves. Everything is fading and withering, preparing for the winter ahead.
It's time to clean up the yard, burn the brush pile, empty the planters and (finally!) fill the birdfeeders. I couldn't stand it any longer and a couple days ago I decided to take my chances with the bears and start feeding the birds again. They are just rediscovering them so I haven't seen a wide variety yet, just the white breasted nuthatch, chickadee, downy woodpecker, goldfinch and blue jay.
Have a glorious day, whether you're in the country or city and may you be blessed!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

It's Our Anniversary!

Anniversary coat #1 - chosen by yours truly -
it's very warm but not so stylish.

Anniversary coat #2 - picked out by my two daughters.
Not as warm as the other coat, but in their words, "Who cares?!!"

A close up view because Emily insisted it was necessary.
She really digs those very large buttons!

Dear Husband and I have been married twenty years as of today.


And I wasn't that young when we got married... The ripe old age of 25. Boy, I thought I knew it all back then. Heh, heh, heh... Mike would probably say I haven't changed all that much. But, really, I have! Twenty years of marriage and three children later, I've grown up and matured a lot.

Mike and the girls went on a secret shopping mission last night and today I was the lucky recipient of their labors: a darling new winter coat! This is a rather odd coincidence because LAST year I also received a coat for our anniversary. Never before other than this year and last have I received a coat from my husband for our anniversary or for any reason at all for that matter. As I reflected on the choice of coats I was bemused by the differing tastes between my girls and I. If you look at the photos above you'll see what I mean. The first coat is extremely warm and utilitarian. I like it a lot but it's not exactly a fashion statement. I probably don't need to tell you this, but it's the one I picked out.

Then there's the second coat. Well! Va-va-voom! (If a Wisconsin winter coat can say such a thing.) It's a racy little red number that my daughters say Barbie would wear. Mind you, they're both way past the Barbie stage but they don't mind when I try to dress up and look a little more fashionable. I almost (ALMOST!) wish it would get cold so that I could wear it.

So, which do you prefer? Do I even need to bother asking?

Happy Anniversary Honey and thanks for the fun new coat. Hope you love those SuperCedar fire starters I got you! ;)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Baking Cookies!

Frosting and decorating our yummy fall cut-out sugar cookies.

Mmmmm... Don't they look good!

Chief cookie decorator hard at work!

Hurry up so we can enjoy the fruits of our labor!

I posted last month about spending an evening in the ER with chest pain. Not a fun night. Well, today I followed up on that with a stress test at the hospital. I'm pretty sure I passed with flying colors because the doctor and two nurses commented on my level of fitness. I made it over 13 minutes on the treadmill before my heartrate reached 160 bpm. Apparently most people only last 6-7 minutes before they get there. Every three minutes the treadmill incline increases 10% and it speeds up, getting harder and harder. I was really huffing and puffing at the end! Then they have you jump off the treadmill, quickly lay down on a bed and a doctor looks at your heart with an ultrasound wand. They tell you to breathe out or hold your breath while you're gasping for air, not an easy thing to do!

It was interesting seeing my heart beating on the ultrasound screen. I've seen various parts of my body, but never my heart. It looked pretty good, beating a steady thum THUM, thum THUM, thum THUM...

So, to celebrate my successful stress test it only makes sense to bake cookies, right? That's what I did this afternoon and this evening we frosted and decorated them. A warning to all young parents out there: For years my children would beg me to bake cookies that we could frost. It's a time consuming and messy job so I would sometimes hesitate or say no. Well, guess who was asking everyone to participate in the big cookie bake? Yep, the tables have turned. I now have to beg my children to bake with me apparently. Once they got into it however, we had a ball.

The cookies turned out great, everyone had fun, the dishes are washed and the counters have been wiped down. All in all a successful venture, I'd say. The cookies are out on the screen porch. Tomorrow we'll enjoy them with milk and I'll look at my precious children and hold these moments close to my heart. My blessedly full, healthy, life-giving heart!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Busy Fall Days

Lacey inspecting the empty-looking screen porch.

The pantry now, after many hours of hard work!

The pantry before which does not reveal the true mess in there!

I don't know what it is about fall that makes me want to clean and declutter, but that's what I'm up to these days.

Today I did not accomplish everything I hoped to but I did get a number of tasks done:

Cleaned and reorganized the pantry. Whew! Big job and I'm glad it's done. You can actually walk in there now and I have open shelf space - Woo Hoo!

Closed the screen porch. :( I'm always sad to do this as it means that summer is officially over. The cushions have been brought in the house to hide out under the stairs and covers are on the furniture to protect them from winter's harsh conditions.

Moved the deck furniture under the deck and brought the table into the screen porch. Our patio table is all metal and it becomes my giant cooking and baking cooling rack. This is probably the best thing about closing the screen porch.

Well, that and filling up the bird feeders and putting them back out. I love watching birds. I have been patiently waiting to put my bird feeders out and I want to do it NOW! The big question is, do I dare? We have bears in our area and they love to destroy bird feeders. It's been a warm fall for us so I doubt that they are sleeping yet but I want to attract the migrating birds. Hmmm... What to do?

I also burned off the brush pile in our back yard. We had an old straw bale for Daniel to practice using his bow and it was sprouting so my husband put it on the burn pile. It was rather damp so we created a LOT of smoke with our little fire. Sorry, Mom! (She doesn't live that close but it was a still day and the smoke went through the valley and hung around her place for a little while!)

So much for cleaning the house. I guess that'll have to happen tomorrow, or the next day!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Mom and Daniel's Day Out

Old jewelry in an antique store in Stockholm, WI.

Daniel's new "prize" that I let him pick out at the curiosity shop.
It's a magnetic base with little men and bars that you balance.
The whole family is having fun playing with it!

Daniel giving me the thumbs up in a little park in Stockholm.

Yummy grilled cheese! Was it worth the hour wait?
Doubtful! Did we have fun getting to know our "neighbors"
while we waited? Of course!

Our favorite pumpkin patch where we loaded up the car
with pumpkins of many varieties and squash and indian corn.

Daniel and I had a fun Mother/Son day out on Saturday. We drove to a little town called Stockholm just over an hour away. The fall colors were breathtaking and the weather gorgeous so it was a good day to go.

I have been going to Stockholm with my mother and daughters for years and we always come home and tell Daniel how much fun we've had. Finally he had had enough and decided it was HIS turn.

There is a wonderful old curiousity shop in town that I knew Daniel would love and I was right! He and the wonderful old proprietor talked for over an hour. He had a lot of treasures that was right up Daniel's alley.

Now Daniel is not so sure that he wants us to go without him so we might have company when we venture down there again in a few weeks.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A New Goal For Myself...

My full freezer in the garage.

An equally full freezer in the house.

The overcrowded pantry begging for mercy!

Perhaps none of you suffer from this problem, but it's an issue for me. I'm in the grocery store and I see something that I think would be fun to cook at home and so I buy it and then it sits on my shelf, ignored, until I look at it blankly six months later and wonder what on earth I bought _____________ (fill in the blank) for. I'm also a sucker for a sale. Buy one, get one free! Who can resist? It's all fine and good, unless the food ends up going to waste, getting freezer burn in the back recesses of our freezer.

Or maybe I get all virtuous and decide we will never eat white sugar or white flour again and then I go to the co-op and fill bags with bulk ingredients and bring them home, unlabelled and unloved and, eventually, uneaten.

So, here's my challenge to myself: Use up all the stuff I've bought before I go out and buy more. Of course I am not going overboard here, my family will have fresh milk and eggs and other produce but I really want to clean out the freezer and pantry. They're both pretty darn full.

This will save us money and give me more storage space. That's a win/win, people.

I ran out of traditional oatmeal and so I used steel cut oats this morning to make homemade oatmeal with an apple cut up and thrown in. Wow! Everyone loved it! Delicious! Would I have made it if we had those little flavored oatmeal packets? I doubt it. This little project is going to force me to try new ingredients and recipes in order to use everything I've purchased. I like it!

I'll keep you posted on my progress. Let's hope I do better on this goal than the giving up shopping goal!