Thursday, August 25, 2016

Jam Bars (healthy & yummy)

peach jam bars

Once upon a time, Naomi sent me this recipe for homemade jam bars. I've made the recipe more than once with homemade strawberry jam, and have received compliments on the end product. These bars are easy to make ahead and freeze to use later. Last week when I was home, I baked a batch of peach jam bars.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Oh Pickle!

premium pickling cucumbers

I've always been a fan of cucumbers and their tasty relatives: pickles.

When we were little, dad considered planting a field of pickling cucumbers for us kids to pick as a summer job (we would have sold the cukes by the pick-up load to a local pickling factory). But, just as dad was checking into the specifics, the pickle plant stopped accepting any loads smaller than a semi truck!

Even though I'm fine with the fact we missed out on the opportunity to hand-pick millions of cucumbers for the pickle plant, I've always been keen on planting and harvesting cucumbers. Most years, however, our cucumber plants fizzled out under bugs, disease, and weeds.

Not this year.

This year, dad's cucumber patches (yes, more than one) are going berzerk; dad has been picking pickling cucumbers by the wheelbarrow load! 

After our bike ride to Sanford Friday morning, Betsy and I went home and helped dad finish picking the long rows of cucumbers. Once the job was completed and the tubs were in the shade, Betsy sorted through and graded a big bin of baby cuckes for Libby to make sweet gherkins. The next morning, we sold most of the rest of the day's catch in various quantities at farmers' market.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Lake Michigan

(for better pics, visit Amy's blog and click on the "Michigan" tag)

On my summer Michigan list was a long overdue visit to Lake Michigan. Amy and I drove to Ludington Sunday afternoon, just in time to pitch a tent before rushing down to the water's edge to watch the last bit of sun ball drop below the horizon as the S.S. Badger steamed west to Wisconsin.


Amy, Lydia, and I spent the night on the lake shore, listening to the waves lapping nearby. Monday morning, we ate breakfast on the beach before driving up to Ludington State Park where we walked out to the Big Sable Point Lighthouse. Of course we also stopped in town for Ashby's Sterling [amazing] ice cream.

It was so wonderful to spend a day at Lake Michigan in such good company. It's been too long.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016


I decided to be 100% impractical with my latest linen purchase... 

just because

white bed covers are beautiful

Monday, August 8, 2016


Vicky and me posing beside the rental car's Pure Michigan license plate-- holding our
favorite Malawian tea in Hampton Inn to-go cups.
Corning, New York on our way to Ontario. 

Last weekend Vicky and I traveled north to Canada for a good 'ol road trip and some summer adventuring. As is usually the case with adventures, things never go quite as planned... take for example our night on the beach under the stars which ended abruptly when a lightening storm brewed over the lake and we were forced to make a 2am retreat to the cars to conclude our short night. Oh, and then there was the waterfall we drove two hours to see... but the recent weather had been so dry there was no water! There was also the waterfall where we planned to hike an hour down and back up the rocks again-- only to arrive and discover newly built, massive tourist-proof fences blocking guests from taking any risks in hiking the falls and surrounding area.

However, just because our weekend wasn't quite as planned doesn't mean it was a flop. Oh no. It was a wonderful weekend of fun times-- hours of bonding with our rental car, audio books, and each other (we drove around 1,200 miles), multiple trips to Timmy's, too much good (and healthy!) food-- including fresh blueberries from Michigan!, sister time with Amy, introducing Vicky to a sunset over one of the Great Lakes, a visit to Niagrara, and sleeping on the shores of both Lake Huron and Lake Ontario. Good times indeed.

Vicky, me, and Amy spent Friday afternoon on the shore of Lake Huron

went to bed on the beach...
woke up (sort of) in the car ;)

what's a road trip without tasting the local ice cream?!
I did a bit of research and we stopped at a place that had a less common brand which was supposed to be of better quality than the more popular rival. Kawartha ice cream rated fine-- overall a very mild and creamy ice cream.
Not over-the-top with sweetness, flavor punch, or selection. A nice, creamy ice cream.

breakfast on the shore of Lake Ontario...
a rain storm chased us off a few minutes after the picture

Thanks to Vicky for all the selfie shots throughout the weekend.

Friday, August 5, 2016


Sara and I booked a day off from work last Thursday and spent a few hours with our friends the Potts. While living in Choma, Zambia, we built a lot of good memories with each other (like this post, or this one, or this one), and so it was extra special to be able to spend a day together again after our extended time apart these past couple years.

We visited the Wilbur Chocolate Factory, shared a picnic in the park, and went out for ice cream.

It was such a fun, refreshing day.

Friday, July 29, 2016


When Amy visited in June, we stopped off at Fort Hunter so I could introduce her to some beautiful views along the Susquehanna River. The train bridge pictured above was built in the early 1900's.