Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A Picture Worth A Thousand Words. (I'll Spare You Most of the Words.)

Ready. Set. GO!

Hi friends! The past week. It's been sooooo busy. 
(I know that is what I always say, but this time, this time  I REALLY mean it!)  ;)
School is ending in less than a week! We've had lots of end-of-the-year parties and birthday parties and jump rope performances and potlucks and playdates and swimming events and ceremonies. Such excitement leaves less time to write about it.

At any rate.................. here are the highlights in a nutshell.........................

UPDATE! Sorry, I typed the above a week ago, so I guess it's been a very busy TWO weeks! School is OUT! It's officially SUMMER around here guys! WOO HOO!!!!! Here's what's been going on..............

UPDATE! Sorry, I typed the above a week ago. Lol. 
Ok, here's what I've deduced: Sometimes life is too busy to blog. The end. 
We've been keeping busy and enjoying summer. Noah starts day camp next week, so then I'll start to have a little more of my usual blogging time.

In the mean time, I will attempt once again to share what we've been up to! (And this is only the first picture post. I started a second one already. I've been slowly working on both.)

Thanks to my two sweet, wonderful friends for checking in on me after this long, blog silence. They just wanted to make sure I was ok, and I appreciate their caring so so much. I love you guys! :) 

Hector had a good week, because he's Hector.

Willow had a week of wistful food staring because she's Willow.

And in other cat news, I actually called a pet sitting service for a first consultation!!! I can't believe it. Do you know how reluctant I've been to leave the cats since Willow came to live with us nearly two years ago? At first I worried about Willow's anxiety, and that fact that she is stuck to me like glue, but then I didn't want to leave them because of Priya's health issues. It was just really difficult to think of traveling without them.  It still is, but it's time.

The owner of the pet sitting service came over. She was great. Her business sounds very professional and caring. Now I just need to plan a vacation!

Moving on........I was determined to make The Pioneer Woman's recipe for iced coffee again this year.  Cool iced coffee, just as it's warming up again outside is just Perfect! It actually got up to 85 degree last week! First though, I tried out a new recipe for homemade sweetened and condescend milk. The Pioneer Woman recommends the store bought version for the iced coffee, but I wanted to make my own organic and high-fructose-free version. I LOVED THIS simple recipe from Kitchen Stewardship, that I found on Pinterest.

Basically you stir milk and cane sugar until it's combined, then you simmer it on low for about an hour and a half, (stir often!) You'll eventually find yourself with the most beautiful, thick, golden syrup. Then add in a bit of butter and some vanilla extract and you're done! I tripled the recipe and made it in a bit pot, in hopes that refrigerated, it'll last a long time. My batch filled a ball jar about 2/3 of the way. It is AMAZING, and a little goes a long way to both sweeten and make your coffee, (hot or cold), creamy! Oh, just so you know, by refrigerating my sweetened and condensed milk, it hardens everything a bit. That's the only issue. The syrup melts wonderfully in hot coffee, and you just need to do some extra stirring for the cold drink.

Then it was time to make the iced coffee! Cold press! This time around I let the coffee sit for about 18 hours. Overnight works fine. It turned out bold and flavorful. The only sad thing was, I didn't have room this time in the fridge for my big, glass dispenser. I quickly realized that the coffee wouldn't stay good very long if it wasn't refrigerated. :(
It was sad. I am going to start experimenting with small batches. It's just a lot of fun and iced coffee is a great summer drink!

Maybe only I find this amusing because I'm his Mother, but Noah excitedly called us into his room one night, right before bedtime. "Mom! I made a pod". I'm flying business class!" You'll get what I mean if you've ever seen those fancy business class divider pods that Delta has on international flights. I wish somebody would send me on a trip in a pod too!

Noah spent another weekend up north. This is what northern Michigan is about a lot of the time....bears made out of wood.

This is Noah's bedroom in the little cottage by the lake. Isn't this so sweet and vintage!? The house was built in the mid-1950's and still has it's original pine wood walls. My Mom sent me this picture to show that Noah had made his bed so nicely. Now if only I can get him to do this at home.....

While playing on the beach Noah looked up into one of the trees and thought that he saw a "giant squirrel!" (Lol.) He call my Mom over, and that's when she realized that it was a BALD EAGLE! A BALD EAGLE!!!! Isn't that so cool!!!! My Mom was able to snap this shot, just as he flew off. Amazing......

I know that I've made these before, but this is my favorite playdate snack.... a bunch of things in a cupcake tray. Kids love it. This is a mixture of crackers, cheese, raspberries, granola, jelly beans and seaweed. Just use whatever you have in the house. It's a lot of fun! In the past, if I really wanted Noah to eat, sometimes I'd fill a half tray with real "meal" foods, and he'd eat most or all of it every time!
It's a nice, little tool to have, especially with younger children.

On Sunday, three Sundays ago,  my Dad came through town on his way to New York. We walked over to our local farmer's market. I just wanted to share the handmade ice pop that Jon purchased from Detriot Lix's stand. Detroit Lix makes a WONDERFUL, delicious array of frozen ice pops. This one was coconut pistachio. It was fantastic! :)

Noah has his first shaved ice with syrup. That's a new stand this year, with a rainbow of colors and flavors.

Then we went to the village fair. This was the 51st annual fair for our town. Each year, in the beginning of June, the carnival rolls in and sets up their rides and games and food booths in the middle of the city. It's just two block from our front door! That makes for a fun + very loud weekend. The fair brings in huge crowds. It's funny because you can hear all of the screams of the adults and the kids on the rides, from our bedroom window at night. You couldn't pay me enough to get on some of those upside down attractions. I'd be screaming too!

Since Noah finally made it past the 48" mark this year, (by a hair) he is now able to go on some of the larger rides. I thought that he's be super excited, and begging to try them out. At first he was, but them when we got there, he became a little unsure. Honestly though, whether this is right or wrong of me, I was a little relieved. Something about a giant Ferris wheel that is put up and taken down over and over with each week, and the crazy, whirling thing that goes up in the air, they just make me feel a bit uneasy. So, when Noah was ok with the kiddie rides, I was ok with it too. 

This though. This was hilarious. They chose the pink spinning bear and it made me so HAPPY!!!!

He asked to ride the "Flying Firetruck" twice.

The one new event this year though, was that Noah could drive the bumper cars all by himself! He was beyond thrilled, and I was super excited for him too. Go Noah! :)

And this...... he was really into the mini-roller coaster. Especially when he got the front seat......

For some reason, the hands stayed up the entire time..............

This past week the last week before school ended, has been very productive out of necessity. There's just so much to get done. I LOVE nothing more than getting things done and keeping busy. If I stopped, I'd never start up again. I do take mini breaks though. The other day I realized that it had been hours since I slowed down, so I walked into the backyard for a minute to enjoy the view, and see how the Wisteria vine was doing. That's the big, old green vine that is sitting on top of the pergola to the left. It suddenly grew leaves this week! I snapped this picture and thought it was funny because it sums up my DREAM life. Just to lounge. But the reality is, I'm much much to antsy to ever lounge. I literally do not have it in me! It's a terrible thing, but I don't know how to relax anymore. I can't. I can't even make it through one television program without doing at least one or two other things at the same time. This summer I'm going to practice not always being so intense. It's healthy to relax sometimes. I need to work on it for my health and my sanity!

Also seen in the backyard this week.....George the duck at take-off.

You know, maybe I was wrong. There is one thing that I do that can be sort of relaxing, it's exercising. I love  like to go power walking as fast as I can around the neighborhood or on my hill. I listen to music while I walk, so it's only doing two things at once. The weather has been great, so I've been walking over to the upper school campus of Noah's school, where a shuttle bus brings him from the lower campus. It's about a 7/10th of a mile walk. Is that how you write it? So, the round trip is roughly a mile and a half. Every little bit of walking helps. Noah loves walking home too. It's great! This day it was super sunny and humid and in the mid-80's!

Oh! Something so exciting!!! I was really happy to see that Teddy the whistle pig is BACK! The furry groundhog made his appearance this week, and even came up on the back deck! He took one sniff of the cat food for the feral cats and ran away. It was kind of funny. The cat food freaked him out or something.

We went to a double birthday party for our friend's kids. It is a big, annual party that they throw in their backyard, complete with BBQ, beer and a bounce house. And two more B's.....bug bites.
Anyway, each year I wait sooooooooooo patiently for the last of the guests to leave, (usually around 10:00 or later) and then I hit the bounce house. It's the highlight of May for me. This year, I launched myself into an awesome swan dive, directly into JON'S KNEECAP. And that's where I got this black eye. In a bounce house. Those things are dangerous!

I made a Mediterranean quiche. I think this is one of my favorite quiches that I've ever made! HERE is the recipe. I added in some chopped onion and a little bit of sliced cherry tomatoes for the top. The rest was spinach and feta cheese. Yum!

I made a recent make up purchase that I wanted to share because I've been pretty happy with this product so far. It's Jane Iredale's Glow Time BB Cream.  I had mentioned to a friend of mine, who is also into using the most natural products possible, that I've been seeking out a new, parabene-free foundation. I don't usually wear foundation, but when I want to get a bit more done up, I'd like something that is healthy for me!

This BB cream is wonderful, it's moisturizing, carries a mineral SPF of 25, and it does a great job of evening out my skin tone. Especially for a BB cream, it has quite the coverage! A little goes a long way too. Click on the link below to learn more!

Remember the ducks in our mini-pool? We all thought they were so cute and sweet, but they're making a MESS of the pool. :(  They have mistaken the pool and the patio for their own, private bathroom. It can't be too healthy. Also, we have the feral cats who still sometimes stop by, and hawks, so I worry about them sitting out in the open all day. Jon bought a pair of plastic owls to deter them from possibly nesting next to the pool. Here's Willow meeting them......

And you know what happened next?

Yep. They loved the owls, and slept next to them all day. In the end, we figured out that floating a pink pool toy in the water would kept them away. Who would have thought!? I was really sad to see them go, but their real home is the beautiful, quiet, protected river behind our house. I think that's much safer for them. And our pool!

I just liked how Willow looked here.

And this picture.......

We had so many school events as the year wound down. There was a class potluck/swim party, a graduation ceremony (from "stage 3." which is our 2nd/3rd grade), a big birthday party, a field trip, and a going away party for a very special, sweet family in Noah's class. We lit paper lanterns and released them into the evening sky with wishes for this family. I'll always remember this.

Poor Jon. He's ok now, but the other week he was making a new recipe. It was some kind of marinated chicken that you needed to first sear on the grill, and then it cooks in the oven, in a heavy pot! Being that we never put pots in the oven, Jon forgot that the pot handles were going to be super hot when he took it out. It was so sad. Jon received 2nd degree burns all over his fingers and palm. I felt terrible for him. We went to the doctor, where they gave him a prescription burn cream and bandaged his hand all up. He had to wear it like this for a few days. Luckily, now everything is almost healed. 

My mother and father-in-law came to visit two Sundays ago. It was a lovely afternoon! One of the things that we did was go to the farmer's market. (I should have gotten more pictures. We all ended up squinting in the few that I took because it was so bright out there!) Here is one though, with Noah and his rainbow shaved ice. He's all about the shaved ice booth now.

Making Thank You cards for teachers.

Oops! An out of order, tangent-like picture! I haven't worked a ton on my crocheted laptop cozy, but it's coming along little by little. :)

Last day of school!!!!!! 
Fourth grade, here I come!

This was the graduation ceremony. We call it "Clap Out." Noah was so happy! All of the stage 3. parents (parents of 2nd. and 3rd. graders), line the long stairs and walkway towards the stage 4. buildings. They house 4th and 5th grade. The stage 3. graduates run through this tunnel of people and we all cheer and clap and give high-fives. It was great! :)

Look! I saw a House Finch at my feeder! I don't see them very often, but when I do, I love it! I also saw a Baltimore Oriel at the feeder this week. WOO HOO!!!!

One of the things that Noah and I are doing this week, are activities from......
Check it out, Little Acorn has so many great activity and enrichment guides and books available. I love their stories, poems, songs, recipes and crafts. Summer is meant for fun!

And that my friends, is just some of what we've been up to. More to come soon!
Until then, have a GREAT START TO THE SUMMER!!!!

Lauren :)


Loulou said...

Wow, you have been busy! Hopefully you'll find so e time to grab a book and sit in that gorgeous spot you have in your yard, and take a load off. Maybe now that the boy is on summer vacation you can.

Lauren said...

Hi Loulou!!!!! :)

Awww, you are so sweet. You're always doing fun stuff too!!! I love it.
I think you're right, kicking back with a book by my pond/pool sounds pretty nice.

Hope you're enjoying summer as well! Thanks so much!

Unknown said...

Greetings and Salutations!

First to begin - Lauren no more jumping castles for you young lady. Those black and yellow daisy-like flowers are called Black-eyed Susans not Black-eyed Laurens. Best for you to stick to brisk, long walks while you check out the latest and the greatest in your neighbourhood, crocheting, blogging and critter-watching. Between you with your black eye and John with his burned hand it looks as if you've gone a couple of rounds. It's a split decision if you ask me as to who the winner is. I guess the one who heals the fastest takes the title.

Secondly, it's fab to read that you're considering a little get-a-way-vay-cay this summer. Sounds as if you've found a gem of a pet-sitter who'll take great care of the kitties and the backyard buddies too so that you can go off and commune with nature and collect more blog fodder.

This is the eve of my baby's high school graduation and there's a bittersweet feeling in the pit of my stomach. On the one hand, excitement and anticipation about the future abound. She's headed off to university in the Fall and I'm poised to write the next chapter of my life. On the other hand all of the chapters up until now have been rewarding and wonderful which makes bidding them farewell all the harder.

I like the idea of the "Clap Out" that Noah's school holds annually. Our school's tradition is to have what they call Closing Day Ceremonies. They're a very big deal, at least to the students, their parents and their extended families. Over 2,000 people arrive en masse to recognize the accomplishments of our kids, cheer on the graduates and wish them and the returning students well.

You have a way of capturing the essence of the moment in photographs Lauren. I wish I had your knack. Me, I'm more of a head-cutter-offer kind of shutter bug, or should I say shudder bug. My main hope for tomorrow is that I snap at least one moderately good pic of my girl on her last day of high school. Oh, where's the paparazzi when you need them?

Wish me luck with my Canon (Un)Sure Shot and please keep those fun adventure stories coming Lauren. Maybe some of your other readers will feel like sharing end of school tales about their kids.

Hugs from the other side of the lake,


Lauren said...

Hiiiiiii Christine!!!!!

A BIG hug to you for your wonderful comment! You had me CRACKING UP. You're so funny!!! (>^-^)>
Thank you for all the love from your side of the lake!

OK! Know that today, I am sending all of the love and thoughts in the world to you and your daughter as she graduates! WOW! A congratulations is in order! I can only imagine the mixed emotions that you've expressed. I just love though, the thought of a "new chapter." How are you going to write this new chapter!? Oh the possibilities are endless! :)

You're in my thoughts friend. I know everything will be great, and I know you WILL take FAAAAAABULOUS photos. Now most of mine are just from my phone, point, shoot, take a ton and hope one works out! Lol. ;)

Love you lots Christine. Thank you for your always super uplifting words and support and love. It means the world to me!!!!


Valerie said...

Awww...what a fantastic post! What a busy lady you are. =) Your yard is simply lovely. What a wonderful spot to sit and relax. Although, I know exactly what you mean about not being able to fully relax. I stay busy most days from morning till night and then some. Hope your summer is simply wonderful. My Espen will be in fourth grade this coming school year too! Congrats to Noah.
Your hubby's burns sound painful, Ouch! Glad he's getting better.
I took a few days to read your post...but I finally finished. I always get interrupted. =) Such a fun read. Sorry about your black eye too! Double ouch! Stay safe and have a fun weekend! Blessings and Sunshine, Valerie

Lauren said...

Hi Valerie!

A big hug and thank you for your sweet comment. As they always are! <3
I can just imagine how full your days are. They must be MUCH busier than mine. You have such a lovely, vibrant family. :)
I need to send congrats to Espen too! Hooray! That's so sweet. Onward to the big 4th grade.
Jon has been traveling again this week. This time to California! When he is home and day camp begins, I will be back to my blog reading and writing schedule. Can't wait to catch up and hear more about the wedding! And how your summer has been. I hope wonderful. :)
Thank you again Valerie, you do bring so much sunshine with you!

Fay said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Unknown said...

Believing in yourself is the first secret to success. Thanks for sharing your knowledge :)