Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Trip to Big Sand via Ashland, WI

The kids enjoyed the UP so much last year, we decided to take the same route this year on our way to Big Sand.  The pictures and people may look the same as last year, but the memories are all new!

We broke up the ten hour trip from Grand Rapids to Ashland with an extended lunch break on the shores of Lake Superior.  The kids enjoyed wading and stretching out their cramped legs on this fairly warm and humid day.

At the Americinn in Ashland, WI we again enjoyed the giant  lawn games.  The beanbag pillow toss was actually quite hard!

Enjoying lunch on the patio while taking a break from swimming in the indoor Splashland water park.

The bay was quite rough both days we were in Ashland, but we were finally able to use the paddle boats the last evening when the wind died down a little.

Do you think one side might be a tad heavier?

Playing with the driftwood on the shore.

This year we also utilized the bikes that the hotel offered.  We were only able to reserve three, so Seth, Anna, and Caleb rode ahead of us on a bike path that goes around the bay.  The rest of us walked and enjoyed watching the birds--bald eagles and orioles.   I was surprised how much all of the kids enjoyed browsing the antique shops in downtown Ashland.  We didn't buy anything, but we had fun looking.  Ashland Bay Days were just getting started when we left on Saturday.  We did walk through a few artist tents on Friday evening while live bands played, but the fun things like sailboat races were scheduled for later on Saturday and we were well on our way to Park Rapids by then!

A young bald eagle.  We were not sure what bird this was until we saw two bald eagles around it and a kind lady told us that young bald eagles do not have white heads right away.

Down at the beach at sunset. 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Summer Creativity...

Caleb used some of his free time this summer to make a desk for his room out of wood pallets (all that shingling gave him some good material to work with!)

Nicolas continues to whittle knives and found Grandpa and Grandma's birch some of the best wood he's whittled with yet.

The girls and Seth have gotten Knifty Knitter out again on these hot, humid summer days.  It is a little hard to think about stocking hats and scarves, but I am glad it gives them something to do.  They usually ask me to read aloud to them while they knit.  We just started the Scout series--Seth and the girls have not read them, but this will be my second time reading them aloud as I read them a few years ago to Caleb and Nicolas.    I think it is cute that if Nicolas and Caleb are around they will usually meander into the room to listen. 

My creativity this past week centered on baking bars for Big Sand.  I looked at the extended forecast on Thursday last week and saw that the temps for this coming week were to be in the 90s--not ideal for having the oven on.  Since Friday was a beautiful day-not too hot or humid-and I had to work on Saturday, Friday was the baking day.  I made the mistake of asking everyone what they wanted and ended up with five requests.   Since I didn't know who to disappoint I made all five...in one day...plus a batch of cooked triple berry jam.   Not sure I'd do that again, but am glad to have it done, and my oven can stay off this week!

Chipper bars, raisin cream bars, and Big Sand bars (chocolate/marshmallow).  I also made rice krispie bars with caramel and scotcheroo bars so Russ doesn't have to raid Becca's cabin:)

Saturday, July 6, 2013

4th of July

This year for the 4th we headed to Dekalb, IL to help Russ' sister Renee shingle their rental home.  While the guys shingled, Renee and I kept busy baking and feeding them and the younger kids enjoyed time with cousins including picking sour cherries (and mulberries and black raspberries)...

They tasted great in cherry or a multi-berry crisp and in a multi-berry slab pie which is very similar to mom's apple bars.
Click above for a link to the recipe.

swimming in the pool...

jumping on the trampoline...

and eating lots of watermelon.

Karissa's face was so dirty we teased that she was working in a coal mine, not on a roof.

Josiah and Matthias drove down from Arlington Heights on the 4th to lend a hand for the day.  The guys got off the roof by 8:00, cleaned up, and then we all headed off to watch the Dekalb fireworks.

For all the shingling he has done this year, this is the first time Russ has had to leave the roof early due to heat sickness.  The rest of that afternoon the roofing was left in Caleb and Nicolas'capable hands.  

Friday, July 5, 2013

Sweet Cherries

Earlier this week, the younger three and I had our first experience picking sweet cherries.  We went to Gavin Orchards near Coopersville with a friend from BSF.  The weather wasn't great--we picked in the rain--but the cherries were awesome.  They hung in clumps like grapes.  Carrie said she has picked berries for years and this is the best crop she has seen.  She told me the best way to store them for snacking was to fill the fridge crisper drawer.  So that is what I did with all 19.5# of them.  At $1.50/lb I'll have to go back for more!  Sour cherries are also ready to pick so I may consider going back to pick some of those.  They are more work because you have to pit them before you can bake/cook/freeze them.  

We finished up our first cherry picking experience by going out for pizza and ice cream with Carrie and her kids.  

Thursday, July 4, 2013

First Trips to Lake Michigan this Summer

Between mowing lawns, painting, trimming bushes, putting down mulch, soccer camp, housecleaning, preparing for our church's NBS (Neighborhood Bible School), picking and canning strawberries and cherries, and youth group activities (and for Russ--preparing sermons, working for Dr. Murray, and visiting shut-ins) we found time to finally make two trips to Lake Michigan.  The first trip we went early (on the beach by 10:00) and the second time we went after work, ate supper on the beach, and then ate ice cream cones while enjoying the sunset on the lake.   Hopefully, we can make a few more before the summer is over.  The kids are waiting for a red flag day so they can jump the huge waves!

The sky was threatening for awhile and we could see it rain over the lake, but by the time it reached the shore the clouds broke apart and we only got a few drops.

The water is still freezing.  You seriously can't feel your toes if you are out there too long.

Caleb insisted I post this picture

It may have been a little windy for frisbee, but we didn't hit anyone, thanfully.

As always, we enjoy watching the fishermen on the pier

The sailboats were so beautiful on the lake that day

The lighthouse is so picturesque you can't help but take a picture even though you have several already

And, finally, the beautiful sunset