last summery swim?

We said bye-bye to summer last night with a warm sunset swim. It was a beautiful evening. The little birdie played on the big rocks with Papa while the full harvest moon rose over Old Mission Peninsula. The water was crisp and clear. With heavy hearts we dragged ourselves home, which involved a certain toddler flailing on the ground for a bit. If I didn’t have such a hard time getting off the ground right now, I might have done the same thing. We prolonged summer a bit more with a candlelight “smudge” (s’more) on the front porch. Thank you, summer!

soaking up summer

Even though the calendar says that summer will still be here for another month, I don’t trust it to stick around much longer. I’ve learned my lesson in the past. Sometimes we are blessed with a beautiful September, filled with water warm enough to welcome us until the leaves begin to cover the lawn. Other years, Labor Day hits, local stores begin to shorten their hours and boom, Lake Michigan turns frigid and summer is OVER. Sigh. Summer’s not even my favorite season, but it sure is fun to play at the water’s edge with the little birdie. And a husband who will swim no matter what the water brings. And the big belly. Swimming is one of the only times I feel a bit weightless; what a relief!

So we’re soaking it up while we can and enjoying the sand in our sheets for a little while longer.

blueberry bonanza

Happy August, lovelies! We started the morning out with an early blueberry bonanza to beat the heat. Apparently, I just can’t eat enough fresh blueberries because we picked some last week too, but my supply was already getting a bit low. They’re just soooo good right now. I’ve been eating them by the happy handful every day. And no, I haven’t turned into a Smurf yet. Yet!

Truth be told, the little birdie isn’t a great blueberry picker at this age – maybe next summer. She loses interest in picking after about, oh, 60 seconds. But she loves to run up and down the rows, check in with her friends (err, boss them around), and occasionally, pop a big, plum-sized one in her mouth. Pure northern Michigan summer!

She also had a great time with her good friend, Cora. And they didn’t even fight over anything today! Girls are so funny: one minute they’re pulling each other’s hair out over a toy and the next, they’re hugging and laughing. Or holding hands…

How are you celebrating the arrival of August and beating the heat in the midst of these dog days? Any great blueberry recipes I just HAVE to try? Send ’em my way. Until then, we just eat them straight out of the bowl! mmmmm.

Cyberspace friends, thank you so much for your thoughtful, thought-provoking, understanding and encouraging thoughts regarding my anxiety over the arrival of little birdie #2. Your support and advice means a lot. Thank YOU.

cha cha cha changes

You know the story, lovelies. When you’re completely immersed in life with a little person every day, most changes just creep up on you without too much notice. I often feel like a helpless frog in that proverbial pot of boiling water… One day, whamm-o! You wake up and they’re two going on fourteen. Where-oh-where did my little baby go?

Last year the little birdie wasn’t even walking yet at the Cherry Festival and this year? We walked up to her first ride and I told her that I could go with her. “No, Mama, I do it SELF!” I cried: happy | sad | proud | full of awe.

Just like that (frog talking here), the little birdie flew away. For a little while anyway. It’s like a dance we play at this age – pull away, come running back, pull away. Testing what independence feels like. Scary and fun, just like escaping into the unknown of a giant blow-up rainforest.


summer’s coolest cotton: Roen Design

A friend of mine launched a great kid’s clothing line this past year: Roen Design. I’m especially loving the Leelanau County map pieces, as seen above. Some are handmade like the dress and some are upcycled items like the darling collared shirt. You can find Forest’s unique designs at some of the Leelanau County farmer’s markets this summer or contact her with a custom order through her Etsy shop. Congratulations, Forest!

the summer list

Welcome, summer! We’re happy you’re here. So here goes, my lazy summer list 2011. Won’t you please join me, lovelies?

  • eat outside more than inside
  • make pizza on the grill
  • make a yummy vegetarian/vegan bbq dinner that anyone would like
  • learn to appreciate (beat? ignore?) the heat. Got ideas? Gin doesn’t count.
  • get work done early in the morning before the little birdie wakes up and the fun (err, mayhem) begins
  • enjoy my annual corn dog at the Cherry Festival
  • can and/or pickle something from our garden. Note: yesterday, I made this amazing rhubarb & rosemary jam with our rosemary so that kind of counts, but since it was before the official beginning of summer, we’ll have to try something else…
  • pick strawberries and blueberries to put up (freeze, jam, bake?)
  • become a regular at the beach. Bag packed in the front closet, ready to go!
  • say bye-bye to the little birdie’s diapers. This process has begun, but I’m thinking it will be easier in the summer?
  • wean the little birdie. This could generate several posts so we’ll just leave it at that right now…
  • enjoy the growing baby bump and the last few months with just the one little birdie: happy/sad, sniff sniff, smiles.
  • eat a huge, fresh sandwich from the Village Cheese Shanty in Leland
  • take Wren to the Northwest Michigan Fair. “Goin’ to the fair, goin’ to the fair, goin’ to the Northwest Michigan Fair!”
  • stay up late to be awed by the Perseid meteor showers in August
  • dance with the little birdie at the Cedar Polka Fest. She is going to LOVE it!
  • take in a few films at the Traverse City Film Festival
  • read a book. A whole book! Any recommendations for something beachy and easy, but not trite?
  • Say “no” to too many more commitments. It’s tough to do, but it’s no fun to be over-scheduled in the summer, right?

Happy longest day of the year, lovelies! Any fun pagan rituals planned for tonight? Since I get up a bit after 5, I’m not much fun after 9 at night, but I’m going to try to stay up late to enjoy the longest day. Because as Chris likes to remind me, it’s all downhill from here to a long, dark winter…

Do you have a lazy summer list to share too, lovelies? Please send me a link and happy summer to you.

rhubarb gelato

Wow, what a weekend: sunny & 70s, lots of outdoor fun and projects, time with our family, no commitments. Yessssss. One of the highlights of our kick-off to summer weekend was taking a trip to our farmer’s market and loading up on rhubarb. I think rhubarb is one of those love/hate foods. Me? Love. In many forms I like to consume it, but I’m always looking to try something new with it.

Strange side story: we had a rhubarb plant growing here at 605 and harvested some of it last year, but this year, it’s completely gone. And in its place? About 6-8 fern plants. It’s almost like someone came and dug up the rhubarb and replaced it with a mini forest of ferns. I love the ferns so I’m not really complaining, but where-oh-where did our rhubarb go? The ferns marched on over from our neighbor’s ferny corner, so no real mystery there. Did you take my rhubarb, lovelies?

OK, back to our regularly scheduled program…

So my Mom bequeathed us with her ice cream maker last weekend (thank you!) and I loaded up on four pounds of local rhubarb. Things were beginning to come together… I decided to embark on this simple recipe for rhubarb gelato. It sounded perfect – easy and refreshing. Do you like Sweet Tarts? Yeah, me too. You’ll probably really enjoy this one then.

We all did. The little birdie kept saying, “sour,” but she continued to eat most of her cone. It has such an intense flavor that it’s very satisfying. Enjoy!

How do you like to eat rhubarb? Do you have a good strawberry/rhubarb pie recipe and if so, will you share it with me?

Happy Monday!

the beach!

Since it’s Spring Break here in northern Michigan, we decided to go to the beach. And it wasn’t crowded at all! I guess everyone decided to go to another beach a little further south? Although it was a bit chilly, the sun felt so good on our cheeks. And we actually enjoyed what’s left of this wacky winter without bemoaning being home when seemingly everyone else is someplace warmer and sunnier and more exotic.

Speaking (err, writing) of exotic. I’m not sure what the scientific name for this wild natural phenomenon is, but check it out. It’s just plain weird, no? And beautiful too. Oh how we love you, Lake Michigan. You and all your strange and wonderful ice formations.

It was a treat to find some open sand to walk on too – not even frozen! Before we know it, we’ll have sand in our sheets again. And probably complaining about the heat… Ha!

Do you find that when you spend time with a child, you use your imagination more? It’s fun to pretend that it’s summer sometimes, no? Chris and the little birdie decided to lie down in the sun for a little while… Such squirrely people, I love those two.

Happy Spring Break, lovelies, wherever you may be!

pizza party!

One of my favorite decadent foods is pizza. You too? I thought so. So I thought it would be fun to revisit the local-only pizza tasting party I had for my birthday last month. We are grateful to have a lot of independently-owned pizza joints in the Traverse City area and we love to support the mom-and-pops, but I always forget what I like the best. Hence, a pizza tasting party! Plus, wine and cheese tasting parties are so 2005, right?! Ha. Actually, if you invited me to one, I would be very excited and try to wear a pretty dress, but I digress…

So here’s how it worked. I invited a bunch of friends and their families to come to a local microbrewery that allows patrons to bring in their own food. Each family was assigned a different locally-made pizza to bring. I assigned the pizza place to each family based on geography so it would help with pick-ups on the way to the brewery. Each family got to choose what kind of pizza they ordered. I originally thought I wanted to have two categories, e.g., cheese or meat, to even the playing field, but Chris and I decided this would be too bossy (who, me?) and each family would have more fun if they picked out their own kind. People then ordered and brought the pizzas, or had them delivered to the brewery, around 5 p.m. on a Saturday. I thought this would be a family-friendly time for a party and also would be quieter at the brewery.

I created simple signs for each pizza that we posted and we cut most of the pizzas into smaller pieces upon arrival.

Let the mayhem fun begin!

I created a “Local Pizza Tasting Card,” that guided the tasting experience. The categories under consideration were: appearance, crust, toppings, cheese and overall favorite pizza. Each person circled his/her favorite choice in each category.

Hard work, but someone had to do it…

And the overall favorite? Pizza from our favorite Italian restaurant, Trattoria Stella. Crispy, airy, cheesy, fresh, seasonal toppings… ooh la la. Of course, there weren’t any pizzas that people didn’t like, but we all got great ideas for branching out into the cornucopia of toppings that our local pizza joints offer. Therein lies the beauty of a tasting party! Most of us wouldn’t ordinarily commit to a Friday night pizza for the family with something new like roasted eggplant and goat cheese, or chicken with blue cheese and bbq sauce. But now, heck yes we would! Delish.

Dear pizza, you are a wonder food that often brings me back from the dead. And unites my friends and family. For this I thank you, pizza!