Thursday, July 23, 2009

Guess who the newest Schwalm will be?

All of our kids and their spouses and girlfriend came up here in northern Michigan for 4th of July. We are this little village along the bay of a large lake that has an old fashioned celebration. The kids wanted to be part of it so they all came up though arrivals and departures were staggered. Jeff and his wife Amber were the first to arrival followed by our older son Chris and his girlfriend Haley. Lisa and her husband Nate were the last to arrival. Anyway, fireworks here on the lake are held on the 3rd of July. We all gathered around the firepit waiting for it to get dark (which is around 10:00). Chris decided to take Haley out in the old rowboat to watch the fireworks. We cooked s'mores, made noises when they shot up the fireworks and had a great time. When Chris and Haley came back they made THE announcement...they were engaged to be married. Hope you enjoy our photos!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Does Bad Luck really comes in 3's or is it 6's?

You know, they say that bad luck comes in threes so how come I'm past three? Maybe I am headed towards six, which is two times the magical three. Over the winter, we had our lakehouse remodeled. In preparation for this, we purchased all new appliances. We had the stove and refrigerator towards the end of the summer. Love the new Kenmore refrigerator which has freezer on the bottom and French door for the refrigerator part. Number One: Over the winter, we ordered the Kenmore dishwasher and the Kenmore microwave/convection oven combination. My husband arrived here the third week of May and within days the microwave broke! He called the SEARS repair number and a week and a half later they came out, ordered parts and said that they would be back the next week. They "fixed" the microwave with the new parts. We used it for exactly a week and it broke again, the same problem as before. Grrrr. We are out of the 90 day return period but within the one year manufacturers warranty. Repairman will be out on Monday. They can either try to fix it again or declare it unrepairable. My guess is that they will try to fix it again. Number Two: Now, our refrigerator, which I love, does not meet the specs for its measurements. The cabinets were ordered based on the specs. Turns out our refrigerator bows out in the middle of the sides of the refrigerator. It barely fits into the space. The problem is that we have pull it out twice a year - to turn the water on for the ice maker and to turn it off when we leave in the fall. Hopefully the repairman will be able to look at that as well. Number Three: we ordered a new dining room set last Saturday and it was delivered last Wednesday. As they unpacked the dining room table, the delivery people noticed that the side off the table had a gouge. A new one is being delivered next week. Number Four: Last night at dinner, one of the dining room chairs split and a piece cracked off. Haven't called the furniture store yet but hoping it can be delivered when they deliver the table. Number Five: need to call Charter Communications because the DVR that we have through them does not record series. Sure I can go in and schedule one recording but not a series. Number Six: The dining room light fixture that we purchased and had installed this winter was warped and crooked. My dear husband had to take it down. buy a new one and then install it. Today I am picking up the new bicycle that I ordered last week. Hopefully it will be what I want; if not, I'll order another one. I wonder if I am working on my third set of threes? Only time will tell.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Quick and Easy Dessert to share

As I mentioned in my previous post, we needed to bring a snack to the barn on Friday evening. If you know anything about me, I never bring anything too plain. Simple yes but never too plain. So the thought process began in earnest Friday afternoon. I decided to combine chocolate chip cookie dough with a box of brownie mix. This was so simple that I am almost embarrassed to share it with you. Just don't give our little secret away.

Make the brownie mix according to the directions on the box for a 13 x 9 pan. Pour into the pan that has been sprayed with Pam. Then make any chocolate chip dough mix you like OR buy a box of chocolate chip dough mix at the grocery store. I believe that Betty Crocker has a mix. Once mixed, pour the mix over the brownie dough. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes. When it cooled I made a chocolate ganache to spread on top. Sounds pretty fancy but it is almost as easy as opening a can of premade frosting. To make the chocolate ganache place in a bowl 9 oz of bittersweet chocolate that has been broken into small pieces. At the same time, cook 1 cup of heavy cream in a sauce pot till just before boiling. Once at that stage pour the cream over the chocolate pieces. Let it sit for a little while it melts the chocolate pieces then whisk till it is smooth. Spread it over the brownies and let it sit - yes that is a must. Let it sit for about 4 hours before you cut the brownies otherwise the brownies won't be firm enough to handle the cutting and the ganache will drip all over. Enjoy your dessert.

Barn Dancing

We are beginning to have a social life here in our new community thanks to the YMCA. While playing tennis there, Darrell met a woman who invited us to go to Clark's Ole Time Music Center at Clark's saw mill in Raphine. We were game for anything so we put on our best country clothes and joined Renata and her date for a fun evening. We were instructed to being a noni-alcoholic drink and a snack to share. Renata is well known there and she had a table reserved for us at the saw mill.

$5 admission is what they charged for a night of clean fun, country music by a live band, door prize and snacks from the communal table. Well, if you know anything about me, I don't know anything about country music. I grew up in the big city (Boston) and moved to a larger one (metro Washington DC) and just wasn't exposed to it. Darrell and I stumbled along learning the 2 step and a few other dances.

As we are dancing around the dance floor, we look up at the decorations on the wall. There is a large Confederate flag, pictures of General Lee and other Civil War southern generals. A little out of our element but fun nevertheless. We opened ourselves up to try something different and it was fun, clean entertainment. Everyone was very friendly to us.

Last night we went back for our second time. When they announced a Paula Jones dance, I vaguely remembered what it was - women in the inner circle, men in the outer walking in opposite directions. When the whistle blows, the man nearest to you grabs you and takes you for a spin till the whistle blows again.

What fun we had and I am sure that we will go back again to Clark's Saw Mill. Before we do that, Darrell wants to go to a western wear store and get a western shirt to wear. He's even talking about buying me boots! (these boots are made for "dancing").

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Stash Sewing Challenge

I belong to an online group over at Delphi Forums comprised of women who love to smock and sew heirloom clothing. If you are a sew you are familiar with your fabric stash. Stash are those pieces of fabric that we buy knowing exactly what we are going to do with it but just don't get around to do that sewing. Then we see another gorgeous piece of fabric and buy that as well. And we keep buying and buying. The purpose of this contest challenged us not to purchase anything. However, if we need something to finish an outfit such as a button, then we are able to purchase it. We get points base how much smocking there is in an outfit, whether it was a new technique, how old the fabric is, etc. I entered this challenged not expecting to win but instead being challenged to finish some UFO's (unfinished objects) and to use some of the fabric that is taking up space in at least one closet and a chest of drawers! Anyway, I wanted to share a few of my favorite outfits that I sewed this past month.

If you are a smocker, let me invite you to our site:

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Big Read

Okay, okay...I've been amiss and haven't written in awhile...okay it's been longer than awhile. We have settled into our new home and our community and are constantly finding to new things to see and do.

In February we learned about The Big Read. What the heck is The Big Read you ask. Let me tell you. Here in Staunton we have a Community Foundation that ordered thousands of copies of a book that they had chosen for the community to read. These books were given out free encouraging everyone to read this book together. Last year was the first year that Staunton participated in The Big Read and they read "To Kill a Mockingbird." This year the Community Foundation chose the book "The Maltese Falcon" by Daschiel Hammett. Every day there was at least one activity to participate in. Daily the public library had a community leader come to the library and read a chapter aloud and then discussion followed. One evening the costume designer from The American Shakespeare Center spoke about the fashion during the time of The Maltese Falcon. One Friday evening there was a mystery dinner tied in to the book. When I say that the community participated in it, you have to realize how many did. Senior high students were required to read the book across the county; books were given out at the YMCA, bookstores, banks, etc. Tonight was the culmination of the month long study. It was a free showing of the movie at our local independent theatre. In attendance was Hammettt's granddaughter Julie as well as another individual (and I forgot his name) who has made Hammet a study of his. Every seat in the theatre was filled. Before the movie his granddaughter told us to look for scenes that were added and not in the book as well as scenes that were deleted from the book. It was so exciting to see all these citizens watching the movie and then staying for the question and answer period. Here is the link to the NEA's site about The Big Read across the country: I encourage you all to go to your community leaders as well as your public library and have your community participate in The Big Read next year.