grill envy

We’ve got a tiny (old, yucky) grill that (mostly) works fine for our needs, but this pint-sized Bodum Grill in a rainbow of delicious colors? Love! At just about $50, doesn’t this make a great wedding gift, or maybe a gift for yourself just because you always could use a little more color, right? I’m not sure what color I would pick because although my gut always screams “orange!” the others are equally yummy. What say you, dear readers? It also comes in black, off white and yellow. Love!

How’s your grilling going lately? I got some peaches at yesterday’s farmer’s market and I’m thinking of grilling a couple and trying this recipe for grilled peaches with fresh raspberry sauce.

Sounds (and looks) just heavenly, doesn’t it? Do you like to grill fruit, or do you think it’s a waste of a perfectly good piece of fresh fruit? Any tips you’d like to share with me?

Happy Thursday! Where did the week go anyway? Yikes.

dog days already?

With the national heat wave even reaching northern Michigan and a punchy orange nasturtium blooming in the garden, it feels like the middle of summer already. So I decided to check in with my summer list and see how I was doing so far.
  • pick lots of strawberries and blueberries to enjoy and put up for a long winter
  • enjoy a huge, fresh sandwich from the Village Cheese Shanty in Leland
  • feel good after running the National Cherry Festival 15K – this is coming up more quickly than I thought so we’ll see how good I feel… This Saturday!
  • I know I said (err, wrote) at some point about how I WAS NOT going to make marshmallows from scratch (so utterly Martha), but with it being s’mores season and all, I’m inspired to make some marshmallows, roast them (a bit burnt is my style), then sandwich them with some really good chocolate between a couple graham cracker pieces. Wondering if I will notice a difference. What do you think? I haven’t done this yet, but Chris made me an amazing s’more last weekend with the most gigantic marshmallow on the planet. Have you seen those in the stores? Crazy.
  • spend lots of evenings on the porch with dear Chris. Ongoing. More to come!
  • wear a pretty sundress while playing bocce and sipping a fancy cocktail
  • swim, swim, swim, swim. A lot. I’ve been swimming, but certainly not A LOT. More to come.
  • eat lots of salads and grilled meat. Yes!
  • enjoy my annual corn dog and maybe even an elephant ear or funnel cake… oof. We took in our fair share of the National Cherry Festival last night and I enjoyed my annual corn dog, a few fries and four of us shared an elephant ear. Delish!
  • make progress on my Dairy Lodge Diet. I’ve been slacking lately and I need to get back at it!
  • take Wren to her first Northwest Michigan Fair. “Goin’ to the fair, goin’ to the fair, goin’ to the Northwest Michigan Fair!”
  • frequent our local farmer’s markets and art fairs
  • have a big garage sale and get rid of some stuff (err, junk). Saturday, July 24! The word is out.
  • visit Werner’s vineyard. He makes my favorite local wine: Left Foot Charley’s Pinot Blanc. Lovely!
  • pickle something from my garden. Chris spotted a cucumber the other day so maybe soon?
  • make some kind of jam. Strawberry?
  • be overwhelmed with harvesting all the veggies from my garden. This would be a good problem to have. We’ll see… so far, so good. With this heat the spinach is going to seed and the lettuce is going crazy. The tomato plants are almost as tall as I am, which isn’t saying much, but it’s a little scary.
  • enjoy the summer sunrises as much as the sunsets
  • stay up late to be awed by the Perseid meteor showers in August
  • picnic, picnic, picnic. Doesn’t everything taste better when you’re eating it outside?
  • erect our hammock and enjoy a few lazy moments
  • read a book. The whole book. Wow, what an idea! Got any suggestions?
  • run through the sprinkler
  • chase the ice cream truck
  • be barefoot most of the time. My feet are dirty…
  • make Wren’s play kitchen – similar to this one
  • create bouquets from our zinnias and bells of ireland
  • dance with the little birdie at the Cedar Polka Fest. She is going to LOVE it! MISS! 🙁
  • get on the water in someone else’s boat… anyone?
  • take Chris out to eat at Siren Hall for a date night. It was absolutely lovely. The food was amazing and the company even better!

  • take in a few films at the Traverse City Film Festival. Schedule comes out this Friday. Looking forward to it. I love the TCFF.
  • do a weekend camping trip and eat hot dogs, plain potato chips, a bottle of Faygo rock & rye and german potato salad from a can
  • sleep outside
  • enjoy a campfire and cheesy camp songs

How’s your summer so far, lovelies? Are you beating the heat? Is this expected to break soon? Please say it is because I don’t want to run ten miles in this on Saturday. Yuck. Here’s hoping for 70s again… Cheers!


The little birdie and I had a great time at the farmer’s market this morning while we let Chris enjoy some peace a quiet and a few more minutes of beauty sleep. We got ourselves a couple bins of lovely, organic “jam strawberries,” which are softer and a bit imperfect. Imperfect means perfect for chubby baby hands. Needless to say when you see the photos, Wren loved them!

I’m not even going to post any recipes or ideas on how to enjoy strawberries today because my favorite way is to eat them fresh. What’s your favorite way to enjoy fresh strawberries?

Michigan coffee?

First things first. I’ve been chuckling ever since buying this ‘Lake Michigan Morning Blend’ Michigan coffee the other day. The clerk at the grocery store said, “Wow! I like, didn’t know that coffee was even like grown in Michigan! That is like sooo cool!” Of course, the know-it-all that I am responded with, “well, it’s not actually grown in Michigan…” His eyes started to glaze over when I rambled on about the coffee being imported and then roasted in Michigan, blah blah blah.

I don’t even know how it tastes yet, but I was won over by the packaging. I’m a sucker for all things that boost Michigan’s image. Doesn’t this make Michigan look pretty dang cool? Michigan represent, woot woot!

Here are some of their other Michigan coffees. Cool, right?!

I’m partial to Lake Michigan so that’s the one I grabbed, but I’ve always wanted to go to Isle Royale so maybe I’ll try that coffee next. What about you? See any other cool Michigan stuff lately? I know Michigan needs a bigger boost (jobs, anyone?) than a few well-designed products, but it still makes me feel proud of this beautiful place we call home. All year!

Wren’s edible nests

Wren’s guests were wowed by her edible nests, which Grandma Judy made for Wren’s party. She makes these darling treats every year for Easter, but I asked (begged) her to make them for Wren’s birthday party too. She lovingly shared her recipe for the nests too. Here it is!

Wren’s Edible Nests

This recipe makes between 30 and 40 nests, depending on how large you make them.


12 oz chocolate chips

4 1/2 oz peanut butter

10 large shredded wheat biscuits

Bag of jelly beans – enough for 2-3 beans for each nest


Melt together the chocolate chips and peanut butter in the microwave or a double-boiler, if you have one. Meanwhile, break apart the shredded wheat biscuits while they are still in the package then empty into a bowl. Pour the melted chocolate and peanut butter goodness over the shredded wheat and combine. Form into nests with your hands and place the jelly beans in the centers. Form on cookie sheets covered in wax paper then chill in the fridge to retain the shapes. Enjoy!

Thanks, Grandma Judy!

Wren’s Birthday bash!

A few thoughts… and a few photos for you, dear readers.

90 degrees, buttercream frosting.

Hhhhmm, not exactly what I had planned, but most of the yummy cupcakes I made were thankfully consumed before they completely succumbed to the late May heat wave (and *they* say that climate change is a hoax, hhmph).

Taking care of a tired, hot, over-stimulated 1-year-old while frosting her cupcakes and placing cookies on a tray.

Again, never once when I thought about Wren’s party did I even–for one second–think that I would also be taking care of her at the same time. Duh. Hello?! Let this be a lesson, lovelies. Bring in the troops! Although I am 125% sure that I became a major pain in the a** to the people I love most, my family pitched in and made the party happen. “Mom, feel like doing a little ironing?”  To which she responded, “No… But I will.” Remember, it was 90 degrees.. Only a Mom will iron your party clothes when the needle hits 90. Thanks, Mom.

Go ahead and invite a bunch of your friends with small children, but don’t expect to be able to talk with them.

After a couple hours, the yard cleared out and just my family was left. But I hadn’t really talked with anyone other than to ask if they wanted something else to drink or to order them to “please come sing ‘Happy Birthday! Now. Before the frosting puddles on the table. Please?” Turns out when all the adults are busy running around after the little people, we all just orbit around each other and rarely connect except with a few knowing glances, shrugs and a quick hug. The upside of this is that you don’t need many chairs for a kids birthday party because only a few people have the luxury of sitting down for a few minutes.

Now for some eye candy. So glad I asked my (favorite) brother to be my official party photographer. Don’t you think he did a great job?

Only once in your life do you get a plate of “1” cookies. This photo makes me smile.

“Wren’s nests,” courtesy of Grandma Judy.

Wren knew the party was all for her, especially the round of “Happy Birthday!” Here she is, so excited about being the center of attention. Trying her best to be as cute as possible. Funny how the wee ones pick up the signals, eh?

Happy Birthday, dearest Wren Sabina!


Dig for Victory

While on the one hand I’m immeasurably happier when there’s a full bag of pretzels in the cupboard, our nest is consciously trying to eat whole foods, more locally grown produce and cook most days of the week instead of going out to eat. We’re also working on getting the garden going too so I’m inspired by the timeless nature of this quote from 70+ years ago: “We want not only the big man with the plough but the little man with the spade to get busy this autumn. Let ‘Dig for Victory’ be the motto of everyone with a garden,” – Rob Hudson, Minister for Agriculture, in October 1939.

So this Etsy find appeals to my sensibilities. It’s a new design based on a US Food Administration poster from the World Wars. Have room in your kitchen for it?

I’m equally as smitten by this t-shirt, which is based on a Depression-era design as well. What do you think, dear readers? Although it comes in other colors, isn’t this green the best choice?

How’s your Victory Garden coming along? Mine is WAY behind or maybe these 90+ days are making me feel like it and I’m OK. I noticed LOTS of starts at the farmer’s market this past weekend, which made me smile. Don’t you love the hope that’s embodied in the first leaves of a musk melon? Cheers, lovelies!

rhubarb-lovers only!

Don’t get me wrong. I love the juxtaposition of rhubarb and strawberry, I really do. But I love the occasional sour treat and rhubarb delivers. If you’re a rhubarb purist too, you will likely enjoy these muffins. Heck, go ahead, throw in a few strawberries too… if you have to.

Rhubarb-lover’s Muffins


2 cups all-purpose flour   (I like to mix white and whole wheat or spelt flours and a small handful of flax, but that’s just me)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup yogurt
I stick (8 T) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 large eggs
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups 1/4-inch-diced rhubarb (7-1/4 oz.)


Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with baking cups or spray with oil. I like to spray the top of the tin too so when the muffins bulge over, they can easily be removed.

Make the muffin batter: In a large mixing bowl, combine the flours, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt and whisk to blend.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the yogurt, melted butter, eggs, and vanilla until smooth. Lightly stir the yogurt mixture into the dry ingredients with a spatula until the batter just comes together. Gently stir in the diced rhubarb. The batter will be thick.

Divide the batter among the muffin cups, using the back of a spoon or a small spatula to settle the batter into the cups. The batter should mound a bit higher than the tops of the cups.

Bake the muffins until they’re golden brown, spring back most of the way when gently pressed, and a pick inserted in the center comes out clean, 18 to 22 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let the muffins cool in the pan for 5 to 10 minutes. Carefully lift the muffins out of the pan—if necessary, loosen them with the tip of a paring knife—and let them cool somewhat. Serve warm. Enjoy!

Note: As with all fresh-baked goods, these are best eaten right away. If you’re not going to eat them right away, freeze them and then toss them in an oven to reheat when needed.

This recipe has been adapted from this one, found at Fine Cooking.

Asparagus & Bacon Wonders


I think I could eat these every day. What a tasty combination of fresh local asparagus and its good friend, bacon. Further proof that simple is better (and easier!) Bonus: you can eat these with your hands.

  • A bunch of fresh asparagus (This is usually about 1 1/2 pounds asparagus with the woody ends trimmed, if needed)
  • Olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 slices bacon (pancetta or prosciutto are great too, but bacon is cheaper and usually already in the fridge)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Brush or spray asparagus spears in olive oil. Season the coated spears with black pepper. Take a quick count of the spears. Divide the total number by four. Gather that number of spears and use a slice of bacon to wrap the bundle and secure the spears together. Repeat with remaining ingredients.

Place bundles on slotted broiler pan in the center of your oven. Bake about 12-15 minutes.

Have you had any asparagus this week, dear readers?  This time of year, I could easily eat it every day and not tire of it. Thanks, local asparagus farmers!