Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Kitchen Cutie

apple pie

We had a great weekend up with dear friends in Milwaukee celebrating two birthdays. Gracie enjoyed herself silly at the Hawaiian luau.  I'll get some pics up here soon. AND we brought home some bounty from our other Grandma's house...home grown apples that are absolutely GORGEOUS!  So tonight we stayed home & baked an apple pie. Our first together...Gracie adores helping me cook and aside from her master taste tester job, she also cut up the butter, rolled pie crust, spread the apples in the crust, sprinkled spices, dumped cranberries and sweetened it all up with a good bit of sugar.  I know...what do I do except peel the apples?? Not much!  Anyway...I just love creating memories with her & I get such a thrill out of her excitement in the kitchen. She'd choose cooking with mom over most anything...maybe not a popsickle...possible, as she calls them. :o)

Anyway...the pies's about ready to come out of the oven. Here's to a yummy treat made by sweet hands. :o) the way, we have our preschool orientation tomorrow where she meets her teachers, finds her cubby and other assorted activities to aid the transition to school.  Her 1st day is next Tuesday...she's so stinkin excited (that's Sarah speak), but I'm on the edge of weepiness at the thought of it all. Time has gone by too fast... Any advice from you who've lived this day of hellos & goodbyes??

PS...that's not my pie...thanks much to Google images

EDIT:  Now THAT was tasty!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Wild West Days

Grace & I had a great time at the annual Wild West Days in Crete this year. Our 1st stop was the European market where we enjoyed a snowcone (Gracie) and mango on a stick (me). YUM! I ate mango the "traditional" way with lemon juice, salt & red pepper. Who knew it would be sooooo tasty?! We bought some fresh blueberries (we're making pancakes)and scrumptious bread & scones.

Afterward, we headed over to the festival grounds (aka-park) for all things western...except for horses. Where are the horses?? was a delightful time with activities, games, wild west show, petting zoo, & yummy fest food! Grace won a hula hoop playing the ducky game...except it was with little frisbees instead of ducks. Anyone wanna talk about hula hooping??? I'm just not good at that yet, as Grace would say. :o)

I like this Smilebox-scrapbook thing~ I can even print it! Print it & put it in an album~ Gotta love that!

Wild West Days 2007
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Friday, August 24, 2007

2007 Summer Favorites...with Smilebox

Ok...trying something new here with the Smilebox thing! Let's see how it goes~

Our favorites Summer 2007
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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

2007 Southern Tour: Part 4 Atlanta Times (cont)

After relaxing with Sarah, Grace & I headed to the other side of Atlanta to visit former CLC-er, Holly. What a treat to see her as well as visit with another old friend, Pat, from CLC Shorewood campus. Moriah was willing swim buddy for Miss Grace.

We certainly enjoyed hanging out by the resort-like pool at Holly's apartment complex. The whole place was awash with vivid colors from all the flowers. Really impressive & a great retreat for a couple of days.

Thanks to Holly, we had abundant choices for delectable dining. We ate at Mimi's...a charming French Bistro. Yeah...there's one in Orland! But the highlight was an evening spent in the Highland neighborhood of downtown Atlanta. Quite the quaint village-esque area with cutsie shops & one of a kind neighborhood eateries. We had a great time at Wired & Fired: A Pottery Playhouse, indeed! Can't wait to get that truly calico-ed kitty that Grace painted. Let's just remember it's not the finished product, but the process that counts.

After we were all wired (Gracie) & fired (me...for gelato) up, we indulged in GELATO at Paolo's. It was scrumptious & quite the authentic Italian gelataria experience. Now I'm not saying it brought me back to Venice but it was certainly the best I've had this side of the Atlantic. YUM!

One of the highlights of this portion of the tour was a very spontaneous trip to Helen, GA. Grace & I passed up mall strolling for bumping over the cobblestones in this little Bavaria right in the USA. Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains on the Chattahoochee River, this Georgia village is a re-creation of an alpine village complete with cobblestone alleys, old-world towers, German folk music & bands, shops, restaurants, mountains, beautiful scenery, family activities, waterfalls, museums, history, art, fishing, tubing, golf, and more.

We had a GREAT time splashing around in the river, dodging tubers as they meandered down the lazy waterway. AND then there was the serenade by some hokie karaoke on the opposite side of the river bank. It was actually hilarious to hear some of the "talent" & things got progressively better as the coolers were emptied. was quite funny in a painful sort of way.

There was ample opportunity to practice our Deutsche sprachen in the shops & restaurant. Gracie was delighted to drive the horse drawn carriage and even more so when she got to feed the horses a bunch of carrots.

If I haven't mentioned this already, my camera petered out just after Dollywood, so most of these pics are from my mobile phone & a big thanks to Holly for sharing a few of her pics.

Anyway, this was a great way to end the Southern tour...actually, we had another great evening with Jennifer & Gabi on the way back to Chi-town. While waiting for the Anderson's to come back from church, Grace & I played around in the swimming pool. I enjoyed a beautiful sunset behind the mountains & it just felt right. Not saying I'm moving or anything, but it sure reminded me that the city or even the suburbs doesn't suit me much anymore. :o)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

2007 Southern Tour: Part 3 Atlanta Chillen & Grillen with Sarah

We met up with my good friend, Sarah, whom I met while living in Amberg, Germany. With just a couple of days, we simply relaxed & enjoyed catching up on what's new & reminiscing about times past. Sarah wowed us with a divine choc chip cinammon coffee cake...Gracie is the master taste tester!

Talk about YUM!

After a visit with Sarah's crafty mom, Michele, we took a chilly dip in the pool. That Gracie is a fish for sure, undaunted by lack of sun & occasional raindrop. We rounded out the visit with some tasty grilling at Sarah's hand. I'm trying to think if that yummy fresh pinapple even made it to the grill. Oh, well....good times with a good friend indeed! AND it was a treat to get to know Chad a bit more as he came home at the tale end of our visit. Just in time to share some blackberries with Grace...or rather watch her eat them ALL. :o)

Sarah's wedding Feb 05

Sarah & Grace at 3 weeks old

Pre-wedding play Feb 05

Sarah to the rescue when Gracie needed help up in the climber at Chic Fil-A.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Dancing with our Maker

Sooner or later you figure out life is constructed specifically and brilliantly to squeeze a man into association with the Owner of heaven. It is a struggle, with labor pains and thorny landscape, bloody hands and sweaty brow, head in hands, moments of severe loneliness and questioning, moments of ache and desire. All this leads to God, I think... Matter and thought are a canvas on which God paints, a painting with tragedy and delivery, with sin and redemption. Life is a dance toward God, I begin to think. And the dance is not so graceful as we might want. While we glide and swing our practiced sway, God crowds our feet, bumps our toes, and scuffs our shoes. So we learn to dance with the One who made us. And it is a difficult dance to learn, because its steps are foreign. - Donald Miller

Situations that force the question "WHY" to our lips are not meant to break us, but rather move us to a place of intimacy with our God. I really can appreciate this analogy...

This quote was posted on Tim Bettger's journal/update page as encouragement as he recovers from a tragic motorcycle accident on the autobahn in Germany two weeks ago. Check out the link for an update or more information.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

In the waiting

The moment we get tired in the waiting, God's Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don't know how or what to pray it doesn't matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That's why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

Romans 8:26-27

What a great word...a timely word posted in the header of a site visited this morning. One of my favorite scriptures, but this is the 1st I've read this translation. Good way to start the day~

Thursday, August 09, 2007

2007 Southern Tour: Part 2 Kentucky Friends

Leaving Santa Claus, Grace & I made our way down to the Cumberland Mountains, Barbourville KY, to visit Jen & Gabi.

Jen & I were colleauges by chance & friends by choice during my term in Germany. Our babies were born just two months apart, so Jen & I grew together in more ways than just out. :o) Gracie loves to hear me tell how she kicked Gabi's behind when she was a "teeny tiny baby" in my belly. I hung out with Jen alot, especially after Gabi was born, to practice my baby skills & help out where I could. We were both a long way from home. I remember resting sweet Gabi on my 8-9 month pregnant belly. It was like someone announced "Let the kicking begin" as Grace pushed back on the pressure little Gabi was putting on my belly/baby. It is still as funny to me today as it was then. Gracie and Gabi both get a "kick" out of the story. :o)

Grace & Gabi had quite the time polishing their nails, riding bikes, swimming, dancing, tumbling & playing dress up! It was like they were old best friends or something. :o) They were 1st friends, but now much more interactive than just cooing, reaching for & rolling around each other. :o)
Here's a picture of us the day before we left Germany.

We tried our hand at flying a can see from the girls' expressions just how thrilled they were. It was a hot day with little wind. Jen helped us all be successful in our kite flying debut.

Princess play

We were priviledged to join the Anderson's at church on Sunday. Talk about instant in season, Jen had me lined up to sing for Sunday service. Thankfully, I had a couple soundtracks in the car. Gotta love Nicole C. Mullen~

For some time now, I'd harbored wishes to return to Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg. Mom, Tracy & I enjoyed ourselves there a number of years ago. I was really looking forward to enjoying treasure memories & making some new ones with my Gracie girl. I mentioned to Jen I would probably make a stop in Gatlinburg on my way further south to Atlanta. Jen's connections net free passes to Dollywood! Whoo hooo! Thanks, Jen, for helping make this dream a reality. :o) Even better than was a day shared with treasured friends!
Dolls in Dollywood

The "spray"ground

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

2007 Southern Tour: Part 1, RR 2007

We are back from our southern tour...had a great time at each stop. I wish I had time to thoroughly narrate but time eludes me...I guess it's catching up on the laundry, cleaning & work I left behind for a couple of weeks. And then of course, there still so much summer to enjoy...who has time to post much? So here's the picture story a little bit at a time~

Roommate Reunion '07: Santa Claus, Indiana

The roomies & kids come together again for our annual reunion, this time heading south (it's always south for me) to Santa Claus, Indiana...yes, an entire community dedicated to the love of Christmas and Santa Claus. We camped at Lake Rudolf in this huge RV with the boys pitching a tent in our spacious "yard". We opted to skip Holiday World amusement park and just hang out together since our time was short. We enjoyed lots of pool play, the park, mini golfing, and paddleboats (umm...not sure who really enjoyed that was so dog gone HOT under those mandatory life vests).

Of course, we reminiced and giggled over our college roomie antics. We cooked up some of our most delectable roomie dishes and tried some new ones as well. Thanks, Jules, for those yummy creamy tacos. I'll try it myself sans the sweetened condensed milk. :o) My big goof was forgetting the paddle to the ice cream maker. I had to rig one up using a spatula but the strawberry ice cream turned out delicious. We used frozen strawberries Gracie & I picked a few weeks back.

It's always a good time getting together with these girls. We've walked together through thick & thin; witnessed the best & worst of each other. Here's to friends for life~

santa claus IN santa bunny Can you see Grace on that huge Santa statue? She is nose to nose with a bunny peeking out of Santa's bag.

golfing off group Gracie's 1st mini golfing experience - stand clear folks.

my little putter safety girl Paddle boats on the lake