Saturday, May 30, 2009

Jack In The Pulpit

Every spring I go out in the woods looking for Jack In The Pulpit and this year I hit the jackpot! I have never seen so many of these unique "flowers" in the woods, they are just beautiful!

When I was a little girl, my Mom and Dad would take me to the "Other Place" hunting mushrooms and often we would admire the trillium, May flowers, wild columbine and Jack In The Pulpit! Of course I was always instructed to just admire not pick and now I know why. Leave well enough alone and these beautiful specimens will delight the next generation. I should mention that the "Other Place" is a 40 acre piece of property that belonged to Uncle Alfred and he planted cherry trees on part of it and those trees brought forth much fruit that my family harvested (by hand). My profits went toward school clothes and also in a college fund. My Dad received the 40 acres after my Uncle passed on. The "Other Place" is now home to my husband and I, we have a five acre corner of the original 40 and are absolutely delighted to call it home!

This evening, after I took Mom home from having dinner with us, I spotted a Momma deer and her new little fawn out in the field. How adorable to watch the baby explore and prance around. We actually have two Momma's and two babies to watch, what fun we have in the woods. I am hoping to capture a nice picture of the fawn soon and will share it on the blog for you to enjoy!

Tribute to Zip!

Twelve years ago (June, 1996) a dear friend of our family passed on and the memories we have of her live on!

This particular ornamental flowering cherry tree was purchased by Zip and her husband Bob as a gift to us and he even planted it in our front yard. At the time Zip was hospitalized with cancer taking its toll on her and the treatments left her so weak but she called me the day that Bob planted the tree and we had a nice visit. She made it home from the hospital but was very ill...she always managed a smile and a few words though. Her name for me was Elizabeth (which is my middle name). I visited her the day before she passed and the following morning I had an appointment to pick up a graduation order for Coco and at the end of our road I debated whether I should go to Zip's first or head to Traverse City to get the food as it was pretty early in the morning. I opted to go and get the food...bad decision on my behalf as Zip passed while I was gone.

Both Zip and Bob are now resting in peace and enjoying good health but I sure do miss them. Bob always delivered corn stalks to me for fall decorating and they provided us with the best raspberries around. Another fruit that was always delivered to our doorstep was talamon (spelling unknown) sweet apples that I used for sauce or dipping in caramel.

My Mom, myself, Zip, and her son Frank walked to Bible School in the summer (about four miles) because the menfolk had the vehicles. We also walked to Frankfort and fished out on the pier and Bob took me ice fishing on Crystal Lake in the winter. Oh the memories and how special they are!

One other vivid memory is of Zip giving me a permanent the day before school pictures and believe me I was a curly headed sixth grader!

We love you Zip (and Bob)!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Update on Beth's Fundraiser!

Wow! According to Pastor Rick $17,000.00 was collected yesterday at the picnic/fundraiser for Beth! I am not sure if that is with the Thrivent matching funds or not, nor am I certain if that is the final amount of the auction.

What a wonderful gift for a family faced with mounting medical bills. Our community is small in numbers but it seems we always come together and help beyond compare! How blessed we are to be a part of this community of faithful people.

Although the cake pops did take time, making them was fun, and heartwarming. I am reminded that when people work together, they can accomplish wonderful things. The auctioning of a few cake pops wouldn't go far toward astronomical medical bills but when coupled with many other donations (large & small) they can make a huge difference in someone's life! I hope that I can continue to hear that voice inside cheering me on to love my neighbor as myself.

And by the way, Happy Memorial Day to all. My own father and Ben's father served this country proudly and we are grateful to them and to all the others who have and continue to serve the USA, keeping us safe.

Cake Pops for Beth!

This was my first attempt at making cake pops made famous by Bakerella. Coco came up to help make the cake pops for a fundraiser at Trinity Lutheran Church. Beth, who is a member of Trinity, has recently had medical problems that have landed her in a local hospital and then a trip to Mayo Clinic. If this wasn't enough of a problem, her husband suffers from Lou Gehrig's disease and they have no medical insurance. The Abbie's Angel's group at church decided to have a community-wide picnic/auction to help with Beth's medical expenses.

Coco had made cake pops at Easter time, so she was most helpful showing me the technique of shaping, dipping, decorating, etc. I would love to make cake pops again, the idea is unique and the possibilities are endless for decorating.

Many thanks to Bakerella for sharing her talent with us!!!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Bleeding Heart & Bumble Bee

I have not posted for about a week and a excuses but I must admit that I have missed it!

The bleeding heart is one of my all-time favorite perennials and when I spotted the feasting bumble bee I quickly grabbed the camera and attempted to get a good pic. I hope you enjoy the beauty of nature!

So much to be thankful for and that I am, a beautiful and loving family surrounds me and God has provided us with quite the landscape!

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Hummer's Return!

It is just amazing that the hummingbirds return for Mother's Day every year, what a treat for all Mom's!

This particular hummer returned the day before Mother's Day, guess he didn't want to be late for this very important date!

Our hummingbird feeder is hung above the kitchen window so I watch them quite often and am intriqued at their size and have you ever seen such a long tongue? The way they dive-bomb one another seems pretty frisky but I guess they must protect themselves.

So glad they are back and I will enjoy them until October!

I make my own nectar by bringing two cups of water to a boil, removing from heat, and stirring in 1/2 cup sugar until it completely dissolves. Allow to cool, while you are cleaning the feeder. I often place the nectar in the freezer for a few minutes to cool quickly because the hummer's just go nuts without their feeder!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Porch Pillar

My husband treated me to a new porch pillar and I am delighted with it! Our previous porch post was an unpleasant shade of green and it was "squarish", never cared for it.

In last week's Menard's ad I noticed and pointed out to Ben that they had a porch pillar on sale and it was just the ticket! He had a dental appointment in Traverse City and stopped at Menard's on his way home and picked up my dream pillar.

There was quite a bit of work involved to get it in taking down the old post, and part of the porch ceiling. He did just a great job and painted it the perfect color for my liking! A sweet fella' he is and so talented!

It seems good to finally get outside and enjoy working around the yard and in the flower gardens and then admire the new porch pillar!!!

Mother's Day, 2009!

Since my Mom enjoys hotdogs we decided to have an indoor picnic for Mother's Day in her honor! We had hot dogs, chips, pretzels, rhubarb salad, pasta salad and strawberry shortcake! Happy Mother's Day, Mom!!!

The menu consisted of a pasta salad that I doctored up with a variety of fruits and vegetables. My husband purchased sea shell macaroni and it cooked up nice. To that I added diced sweet onion, green onions, halved red grapes, diced carrots and celery, pineapple tidbits, and chopped red pepper. I thawed peas and corn (about 2/3 cup each) and added to the pasta. I hard boiled six eggs, keeping two of garnish. I chopped the other four eggs and added it to the pasta mixture. I poured Zesty Italian dressing, to taste, over the mixture and sprinkled with dill and thoroughly mixed and placed in fridge to blend the flavors.

Recently, I purchased a rhubarb cookbook, and found an interesting recipe for a molded rhubarb salad with fresh strawberries and orange. Our family found the salad tasty and we will serve it again.

Rhubarb Salad

4 cups diced raw rhubarb
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
2 - 3oz. packages strawberry gelatin
1 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
2 cups fresh sliced strawberries
Strawberries, mint, cream for garnish-if desired

Combine rhubarb, water and sugar in saucepan. Cook until tender over medium heat. Pour hot rhubarb mixture over gelatin and stir until completely dissolved. Add orange juice and peel. Chill until syrupy. Fold in the sliced strawberries. Pour into a 6 cup mold. Chill until set. I made this the evening before. Garnish before serving. Serves at least twelve.

I always unmolded salads like my Mom using a hot towel but I never had great luck. Something struck me today when I prepared to unmold the salad...why not use my hair dryer for the source of heat. Don't laugh, it worked like a charm! You have complete control of using warm heat and believe me it was amazing!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Asparagus/Mushroom Tarts

When I saw the asparagus/mushroom tarts on the Good Things Catered blog I just knew I must try them. I thought I would use fresh Michigan morels from our very own woods but day after day my husband went out shrooming with his mighty fine shroom bag and arrived home with an empty bag and a puzzled look on his face. This is the second year that he has had no luck finding the morels and we can't figure out what the problem is. Perhaps the deer are feasting on our delicacy.

So my bright idea for using morels didn't pan out which was disappointing but the white mushrooms from the grocery store were just fine!

I must say that the tarts are a bit on the fussy side, which I don't mind, but be warned. Believe me, they are worth the added effort. You must "carve" out an area in the puff pasty for the mushroom, gruyere, and asparagus filling. The complete recipe can be found at You will love the blog, it has so many wonderful ideas and inspiration galore! I so appreciate bloggers sharing their recipes!!!

It was seventy degrees here yesterday and today at this very moment it is only 48 degrees, what's up with that?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

New Toy!

Actually it is not a toy but a real necessity in photo shooting! I am no photographer but my new tripod makes taking pictures much easier. I have discovered that progressing age brings about an unsteady hand sometimes and the tripod is just the trick for steadiness!

Coco introduced me to this nifty gadget and when Mom and I went to Target recently, the tripod was on sale and my dear Mother treated me to my very own! Believe me, the size is great and no more camera shaking for me!

My particular model is a Targus universal tripod that folds to 9 inches, extends 42 inches, and weighs about a pound.

Thanks Mom for the gift!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


The woods are alive with Trillium and I just had to share a photo with you of a perfect bloom!

We look forward to spring every year, anticipating the Trillium's arrival, along with the Mayflowers, and nature's own Columbine and Bleeding Heart! I am still waiting for the Jack-In-The-Pulpit to erupt and I will have the camera ready!

How blessed we are to have such beauty surround us and it is free!

Almond Ciabatta French Toast

If you enjoy the taste of almonds and love ciabatta bread, this may be the recipe for you!

3 large eggs
2 pinches of salt
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon pure Madagascar vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
Eight 1 inch slices Ciabatta
Unsalted butter
1 cup sliced almonds

In a medium bowl, whisk eggs well then add the salt, sugar, vanilla, and almond extract. Gradually whisk in the milk and cream. Pour this mixture into a shallow baking dish. Place the bread slices in the dish and allow to soak for 3 minutes on each side. If you have a griddle you could prepare all the bread slices at once but a large frying pan works well. If using a frying pan, you will do the bread in batches. Butter the griddle or fry pan generously and place almonds where the bread slices will go (the size and shape of slices). Place the soaked bread slices on the almonds, pressing down firmly. Use medium low heat and cook until golden brown, approximately 4-6 minutes...then flip over and cook until done.

I served the french toast with candied bacon slices, and for color added fresh sliced strawberries. You can serve the french toast with your special blend of maple syrup and sprinkle with a little powdered sugar. As you can see, I garnished with a fluff of whipped cream, mint and violet.