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Archive for July, 2011

2011/212: Summer Roadtrip, Michigan Part 3

On Saturday, July 9th, we took the scenic route (aka US 23) along Lake Huron in search for some lighthouses.  We still keep a road atlas in the car, and thanks to that, we knew where they were. Gravelly Shoal was the first one on our route, in Point Lookout, and without knowing exactly where, we made our way to the lake shore. We got lucky and found it, but it was just a little thing waaaaayyyy out in the water. We parked at the end of the street and walked closer to the water for some pictures, and see this woman pass us on her bicycle. She was probably wondering what we were doing, since this was just a little neighborhood. And sure enough, she stops and asks “are you really from Texas??” (“No, we’re aliens, but shhh, don’t tell!” We didn’t say that to her, though)  She was really nice, and told us about all kinds of things to see and do.

We did find some pretty lighthouses, like Tawas Point Lighthouse. It’s one of many that are in a State Park, and Greg went ahead and bought the yearly sticker, that’s valid at all the State Parks all year long. We just made it a point to visit as many State Parks as we could on this trip.

After the lighthouse, the kids got to spend some time at the playground before they had to sit in the car again.

Our next lighthouse stop was Sturgeon Point Lighthouse. Walking to the lighthouse from the parking lot, we passed Old Bailey School House and went inside for a little lesson. Didn’t want the kids to forget that the new school year is just around the corner!

The lighthouse was open for tours, and after viewing the living quarters, we climbed the spiral staircase to the top of the tower.

After climbing back down, we walked to the lake to look for petoskey stones, and actually found a few! Melissa seems to have a radar for those, because she wasn’t even really looking, and found several! Poor Sara didn’t have much luck, and she just looked for any kind of pretty rocks and seashells, and Melissa was sweet enough to give her one of the petoskey stones she found.

Our last lighthouse stop of the day was Forty Mile Point Lighthouse, and then ended our day in Mackinaw City.

2011/211: Summer Roadtrip, Michigan Part 2

Friday, July 8 we spent all day in Frankenmuth, nicknamed Michigan’s Little Bavaria. Many of you know that I grew up in Germany (even if it wasn’t Bavaria), so it probably won’t come as a surprise that we had to include this town in our adventures, and spend more than just a few hours there.
This was by no means relaxing, we did a LOT of walking (boy, did walking all those miles on the treadmill those last couple of years come in handy!! My feet didn’t hurt at all!). Our day started mid morning when only a few other people seemed to be around. This place wakes up in the evening and gets really crowded. We checked out a lot of the stores, did some wine tasting, watched the Glockenspiel at Noon, had a late lunch at the Frankenmuth Brewery, sampled some cheeses at the Cheese Haus (they had chocolate cheese, that was surprisingly delicious, especially the chocolate peanut butter cheese!). We went back to the hotel to get the car to drive to Bronner’s, supposedly the world’s largest Christmas store, because it was too far to walk, especially after walking around all day. It certainly is a HUGE store, and I browsed most of it by myself while Greg and the kids waited patiently at the snack bar. Check out their Trivia page!
After leaving Bronner’s, we walked next door to the Silent Night Chapel, which is a replica of Stille Nacht Kapelle in Oberndorf, Austria, where the Christmas carol “Silent Night” was first performed in 1818.

Frankenmuth is such a pretty town, and Sara loved it so much, she said she wanted to move there 🙂

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2011/210: Summer Roadtrip, Michigan Part 1

As my persistant stalkers faithful readers know, we had planned to head to Maine this summer, but because of rising gasoline prices we’ve had to change those plans and choose a destination that was a little closer. That lucky destination was Michigan.
On Thursday, July 7th, it was time to pack our suitcases, load up the car, and head to Michigan. We stopped at the Welcome Center just across the border to pick up some brochures. We kind of knew where we wanted to go and what we wanted to see, but you just never know what else you might find.

Our first stop was Saugatuck for some wine tasting at Fenn Valley Vineyards (they had an amazing icewine, but they were completely out of stock) and the combined tasting room of Free Run Cellars and Round Barn Winery. I even talked Greg and Melissa into posing for a picture or two at Fenn Valley Vineyards.

For lunch we stopped at DDD featured Rosie’s Diner in Rockford, just north of Grand Rapids.

We found another DDD restaurant just south of Lansing, that Greg wanted to try for dinner, but because Lansing isn’t that far away from Grand Rapids, we needed to find something to do between lunch and dinner.  The Lansing travel brochure I picked up at the Welcome Center really came in handy, and I found two free things to do.
We went to Cooley Gardens first. It was such a peaceful, beautiful place, with plenty of flowers to photograph… although the mosquitoes were a little annoying to say the least! We were almost the only people there, too.

Next on the list was Frances Park, with great views and a beautiful rose garden. I will bore you with rose pictures some other time, instead, here is one of the view of the river. … and one of Sara, trying not to smile. She was standing at the edge of the circle in the photo below.

When we all started to get hungry, we made our way to Joe’s Gizzard City in Potterville for dinner. Yes, they do serve gizzards, and NO, I didn’t try any! Greg did, though! I can’t remember what I ordered, but it had nothing to do with gizzards! *shudder*

We wanted to get a hotel near Flint, but actually made it to Frankenmuth. Our first hotel choice was completely booked, but thankfully we got a room at the second hotel we tried.

To be continued…..


2011/209: Vacation Family Portrait

I still have soooo many pictures to edit, I’m not quite ready to post the next installment of our summer adventures, but I do have a very “special” family portrait that I took during our trip. Don’t the kids look excited??

2011/208: Summer Roadtrip, Indiana Part 2

On July 5th, we planned on driving to Chicago and eat lunch at Chuck’s Southern Comforts Cafe, a restaurant featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins & Dives. Nikki didn’t want to go, but we talked Nick into going with us (he can’t say no to a free lunch, right?) and picked him up in the morning.

The food was good, and we drove to another part of Chicago to eat dessert at Lutz Cafe and Pastry Shop. Their Baumkuchen (“tree cake”) was featured on a different Food Network show (do you think we watch too much Food Network? 😉 ) and it looked so good, I just had to try it! Only problem was that we were so full from lunch, that no one wanted to eat dessert, and we each chose a goodie to take to the hotel with us to eat later. The Baumkuchen tasted just as delicious as it looks!

Here’s a little video that shows how Baumkuchen is made, and how it gets the rings that make it look like a tree

I finally gave in and let Greg pick up some fireworks, so once it got dark outside, we had a little belated 4th of July celebration in an empty parking lot next to the hotel. He let Melissa and Sara set off most of the fireworks – with supervision – while the rest of us watched… and took pictures 😉

Wednesday, July 6th was our last day in Indiana, and we spent it almost entirely with Nick. We finally found the time to stop at our favorite candy store. Simply a MUST every time we’re in Indiana 😉

It was a pretty warm day, and we dropped the chocolate and other candy off at the hotel before playing a round of miniature golf.

Cameron met us at the hotel after he got off work, but Nikki was nowhere to be seen, and she had ignored our texts and phone calls. Yup, she went a little… umm… “junior high” on us because she got into a fight with Cameron and couldn’t be an adult about it and at least let us or Nick pick up the baby for the day. I have to admit I’m still pretty angry at her for that, since she knew that this was our last day there. Next time we see her, she will be warned not to pull that kind of #&^% again or I will turn into the mother-in-law from hell!
The day ended on a sadder note than it should have. It’s already SO hard to say good-bye, but to not get to see your granddaughter/niece one last time….

2011/207: Summer Roadtrip, Indiana Part 1

Our vacation officially began at about 2:30 pm on Friday, July 1, 2011 when we locked up the house, got into the car and fought the beginnings of rush-hour traffic. Always fun, that part! We made it all the way to Miami that night. Miami, Oklahoma, that is! It took us longer than usual because of a back-up on I-44.  We stopped at the big McDonald’s above the highway to kill some time. Better than being stuck in the car, and inching along. We could watch the traffic from the windows, and when it looked like it was moving a little better, we got back on the road. We usually stop in Joplin, Missouri for the night, but because of the tornado earlier this year, we didn’t know if we would be able to get a hotel room, so we spent the night in Miami instead.
We were up early on Saturday because no one was able to sleep that well. Got on the highway and a short time later, Greg started weaving all over the road, just about giving me a heart attack! After what seemed like an eternity, he finally pulled over so I could drive.  Turned out that instead of his blood pressure pill, he accidentally took a sleeping pill!! I drove through most of Missouri while Greg got in a nice little nap, and he took over just before we reached St. Louis. We made it to Merrillville, Indiana by evening, and the kids met us at the hotel for a few hours. Sadly, Cameron only had the week-end and July 4th off, but Nick was off all week.
Sunday (July 3) they all came up to the hotel again, and after lunch we headed to Bakers Square for some pie, and to celebrate Nick’s Birthday a little early. The kids all had their uncle’s 4th of July party to go to in the evening, and we were on our own. Luckily we found a fireworks show to go to, although we didn’t exactly get the best spot to watch it. We decided to join a bunch of other people in a parking lot (which was free), rather than driving into the park and fighting all kinds of traffic on the way out.
On Monday (July 4) I finally got to meet my new daughter-in-law, Alexandra. Very sweet girl, but very shy around new people (totally like me!). Unfortunately she was only able to stay a few hours, and this was the only time we got to see her, due to her work schedule.

Nick & Alex

The weather was so beautiful that we spent quite a bit of time outside on the hotel’s patio. It was so much nicer than sitting in the hotel room.

My daughter-in-law Nikki

They even had a grill available for the guests, and we grilled sausages for dinner that night.


Cameron, Sara, Melissa and Greg

2011/206: Bonus – Dahlia In Color

The black & white dahlia in today’s earlier post was red!
I usually prefer flowers in color, but in this case I prefer the b&w.

2011/206: Dahlia In Black & White

Anyone want to guess what color this really was?

2011/205: Family Reunion

2011/204: Sharing

Sharing her rocks with Auntie Sara

2011/203: Rock Collection

A certain little someone loves rocks, and has a whole collection at home. Here, she is picking the ones she wants to add to it 🙂

2011/202: Showing Scale

My contribution to Scott’s latest assignment, even if it is a day past the deadline.
Thought about some fish scales, but we’re fresh out of fish 😉

Not exactly what I had in mind (I wanted to photograph a seashell on a coin… didn’t work out) but I was able to come up with something.
Thank you Karen for the coin idea. Without that, I would have had to skip the assignment – again!

Can you tell how big this is?

Now you have an idea!


“A single rose can be my garden… a single friend my world.”
~ Leo Buscaglia

2011/200: On The Outside

Moth on the outside of my bathroom window.
The sky and clouds are actually a window cling, covering the entire windows for privacy.

2011/199: Hop To It!

Grasshopper on canna.

2011/198: Keep In Touch

“One of the sweetest things in life: a letter from a friend.”
~ Andy Rooney


Our vacation is over and we are back in hell Texas….. and came home to a broken air conditioner. It’s just after 2:30 pm and it’s already 102 degrees outside. Fun, fun! (NOT!)
A few vacation stats…

16       –  The number of days away from home
3543   –  Miles driven (5702 km)                   
6         –  States driven through
$1.89  –  The amount of money found by the kids
18       –  Lighthouses seen
16       –  Wineries visited
3         –  Diners, Drive-ins & Dives
1792   –  Pictures taken

Details to follow, but it’s going to be a while.

2011/197: Seeds For Weeds

I think these (former) weeds flowers are some kind of Queen Anne’s Lace variety, but not as dense. I found them in my yard and brough them inside for a little photo shoot. It was fun, trying different textures, and in the end made it really difficult to decide which one I liked best.

2011/196: The Best Things In Life Are Free

Like this cute little ring!
I received a $10 off a $10 purchase coupon from JC Penney in the mail (love those!), and found this ring on sale for $9.99! And you know me… can’t resist a heart 😉

2011/195: Still Irresistable

The last of the winecup pictures.

2011/194: Air Delight Hershey Kisses

They are so light and airy, they float right out of the wrapper! 😉
These taste just like the regular milk chocolate Hershey Kisses, but with a lighter texture (less chocolate for the same price?)

By the way, there was no “photoshopping” involved, other than the basic picture editing stuff, like sharpen, brighten, contrast adjustment, etc.
Anyone who can figure out how I did this, wins the Smartypants Award (aka bragging rights). If no one figures it out, I may or may not give away my secret.


2011/192: Birthday

Happy 20th Birthday to my son, Nick!
Unfortunately our vacation timing was a little off and we weren’t able to spend his birthday with him, but celebrating a little early is just as good 🙂

2011/191: Pink And Yellow

Or would you say this is purple? All depends on the light, doesn’t it?