Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Birthday
Saturday was Steve's birthday so we celebrated by eating dinner at our favorite Chinese restaurant in Lansing. We were missing Marta, especially, that evening. Next Saturday she and Gabriel are returning to Michigan from their visit to Spain. Our dinner seemed especially tasty that evening, maybe because the restaurant was almost empty and the chef had more time to devote to his cooking. Here's Steve on the sofa at home relaxing afterwards.

Sunday Tony barbequed steaks so here they are, Steve helping his dad with the barbeque. We had a good time and really enjoyed Steve's visit.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Hello and Goodbye

Here are two of my favorite little girls, Ann Marie and Mary Jo. Ann Marie is 4 years old and is a princess. She loves her bear, playing with puzzles and watching a Barbie video. Mary Jo is 2 years old, loves Dora and reading books. The girls visit me often and I always enjoy their sweet loving natures. When they arrive at my house, they run to give hugs and kisses, while shouting "Grandma". Aren't they beautiful?

My students move to our Michigan community, often staying four or five years, then returning to their homes in Japan. While practicing English we share much about life here in the Midwest. They become my friends. Friday afternoon Yuko came to see me before moving to another American city; we will miss her very much!

Today is August 26, Steve's birthday. He is coming home today and we will celebrate. More later........

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Old Friends

Old friends are the best! Here are my old friends today at lunch. We have been together for a long time, maybe 25 years or more. We all worked at the same school and shared many ups and downs through the years. From left to right in the picture please see Pat, me, Mickey, Pat (yes, two Pat's!) and Donna. The ladies in the picture are just a few of my old friends---there are many more and everyone is important to me! Now many of us are retired and we have time to get together for lunch occasionally. There are wonderful lively discussions which are a mix of what happened years ago with what is happening now. Sometimes we talk about local news or world events. Sometimes the discussions are “spirited”. I really appreciate and highly value all my old friends.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Zucchini Magic

Our garden is bursting with vegetables! Yesterday I harvested tomatoes, green beans, cucumbers, eggplant, and zucchini. Several packages of green beans were prepared for the freezer. Tomatoes were made into sauce and frozen. The kitchen counter is full of still more vegetables!

Zucchinis grow so quickly that we can’t imagine what to do with them. There are the zucchini jokes about how to get rid of them, for example tossing them into open car windows.
Cathy suggests slicing the zucchini, dipping the slices in egg white, and frying in olive oil until browned.

Zucchini bread is a family favorite. Pictured you can see the zucchini freshly picked from our garden and the resulting zucchini bread. Tony likes chopped walnuts added; our children do not. I’m planning to make several loaves to keep in the freezer. Here’s my recipe:

Zucchini Bread

3 eggs
½ cup oil
2 cups sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup chopped nuts (optional)
2 cups zucchini, shredded

Mix all ingredients. Fill 2 regular sized bread pans or 4 small pans not more than 2/3 full. Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour for regular sized pan or 50 minutes for small pans. I check the doneness by poking with a toothpick; if it comes out clean, they are done.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Last Day

All our house projects are done so now we’re having a day of relaxation. This morning we went hiking. There is a 1000 acre State Recreation Area near here where Tom often goes biking. We did a 45 minute hike there. Last night we spotted a large black bear crossing the road not too far from the house. I am just a little aware of bears now so I was on the lookout, but we didn’t see any today. At the entrance to the recreation area there were three minibuses full of prisoners working on cutting the grass. Everyone was very nice; theirsupervisors moved the buses so we were able to park and everything was fine. Here you can see a picture of Tony on the hiking trail.

The bottom picture shows my current projects. I’m studying sock knitting using the book, Sensational Knitted Socks. It contains a first sock called “class sock” designed to teach sock knitting. The purple socks in the picture are based on that pattern. I think they will be a good size for Scarlett. Next you can see a sock that I began yesterday in red and darker colors self striping yarn. I’ve restarted it several times because of needle size problems. I’m now using size 3’s so it looks like it might be okay. On the left of the picture you can see my latest dishcloth, almost finished. These are easy and mindless knitting. I’ve made several and love mixing the colors. The top left is a sock knitting bag I made.You can see Gabriel’s picture on it, and Scarlett’s picture is on the other side. I printed these pictures on a fabric printing sheet in the ink jet printer.
There’s nothing like a knitting bag with grandchildren’s pictures for a Crafty Grandma!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

What We Did on Our Summer Vacation!

We are at Tom and Kelly's lake house in Eldred, New York, and here you see us hard at work. Here I am in my painting outfit, brush in hand, and a can of wood stain. I am staining the deck and stairs which go across two sides of the house including the front which faces the lake. Yesterday and today I worked on the surface of the deck and stairs. Luckily I came prepared with old clothes ready for this task because my shirt and pants quickly became covered with stains. I like working on the deck and stairs because the wood stain just has to be slapped on. Not shown in the picture is the greater challenge, applying the wood stain to the trims of four windows on the lower level. Windows are a little frustrating because the stain wants to drip and run on the window glass and everywhere! Then I need to stop and scrub it off. It takes a lot more time to do the windows than the deck and the stairs.

Tony has been working on several tasks as well. Here you can see him, shovel in hand, in the driveway. The lake house has a steep downhill driveway, pretty rough, and a little tricky to drive down. After every winter and spring season, it needs a lot of attention because it loses its gravely surface. This spring there were floods here on the East Coast; the nearby Delaware River was flooded as well as many houses. A lot of the driveway gravel has been washed out and Tony was replacing it and making it more level.

Tomorrow we're going to have a fun day before returning to Michigan. We 're going to an interesting place for hiking and we'll have a seafood dinner in a restaurant recommended by Tom and Kelly. The weather this week has been so beautiful and we're enjoying ourselves very much. It is good to change your routine and get away to a new spot.

Monday, August 14, 2006

The Lake House Part 2
The Grillman was doing his magic at the barbeque. Here you can see him at the grill on the balcony overlooking the lake. The menu was shish kabobs with beef and veggies. Friends came to dinner Saturday evening and everyone enjoyed it.

Sunday morning we went to church and then went on a hike to a waterfall. Here are Tom and Kelly in front of the falls.

The weather is so beautiful, a little cool and really comfortable. A light jacket feels comfortable in the morning and evening and it warms up pleasantly in the afternoon.

Now Tom and Kelly have returned to work in the city so Tony and I will spend a few days here. It is very quiet and relaxing. We start off each morning with a long walk and then do a few chores. We're going to have a nice time here.
Lake House Visit
We are spending a few days at Tom and Kelly's lake house near Eldred New York. We drove here on Friday and had a very smooth trip. Kelly received a new sewing machine for her birthday; here we are Friday night investigating it. There's nothing a Crafty Grandma likes better than a new sewing machine fresh from the box!

Here's a picture of Tom and me on the lake in the Kayak. It is a small lake with no motors so kayaking is peaceful and beautiful. I'm not very daring and kayaking could be scary, but I really enjoyed being out there with Tom.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Today's Visitors

My student's son is visiting our city from Tokyo so today they came to my house. We had a little tour and a very pleasant visit. I really enjoy meeting visitors and having a chance to introduce them to our life here in small town America. Sometimes foreign visitors are surprised by our lives and sometimes they have questions. I wish all the world's people would have a chance to meet in a casual friendly way.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


This afternoon I was very pleased to have a visitor from Japan. My student's mother, a very charming and elegant lady that I met previously, returned to Jackson and came to my house. In the pictures I am wearing a Haori, which is a short silk garment resembling a kimono but much simpler and easier to wear. The colors of the silk are very beautiful.

The second picture shows my student and the last picture also includes her two daughters. It is so lovely to have three generations visiting today!

Weekend Report
Saturday afternoon we headed out I-94 on our way to Steve's house. Just a few miles out of Jackson all the traffic was stopped. We sat for a few minutes watching police cars, ambulances, and fire trucks zoom by on the shoulder. It turned out there was a major accident caused by someone trying to make a U-turn across the median of the highway, crashing into oncoming traffic. If you look closely at this picture, you can see a helicopter just taking off with one of the accident victims after landing right on the highway. Traffic was stopped for three hours!

Sasha, Cathy, and Scarlett met us at Steve's house. Here's a picture of Sasha on Steve's tractor. I think Sasha really enjoyed riding on it. He said it's like a Disney ride.

We all enjoyed Tony's barbeque. He made shish kabob with steak, chicken and veggies all on sticks.
Here's Scarlett modeling her new sundress. I bought it for her in the Philippines when we were there in April. It's a little long now, but I think she can wear it next summer as well. She looks so cute in it!