Archives for May 2013

Low Calorie, Budget Friendly Drink

 

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I have to make a confession, I have a bad case of gourmet coffee drink envy.  The ironic thing is that I don’t even like coffee!  There is just something about watching people walk around carrying those whipped cream topped drinks that makes me long for something I could indulge in.  Teen daughter is obsessed with them and would buy one every day if her funds allowed it!  An alternative might be a fruit smoothie or shake, but I don’t want the added calories that come with those types of drinks.  Plus, I can’t really see spending so much on a drink, so I tried to think of more budget friendly, low calorie options.

I decided to use one of those reusable BPA free cups with a straw and make my own “fancy” drink.  Tea is my passion, so I bought some cold brew black and raspberry tea mixes.  I brew the tea bag in cold water for about 4-5 minutes and add some ice.   For the black tea, I sometimes add a splash of orange juice for a little touch of sweetness and there you have it, a super easy, cheap, low-calorie drink for the summer!  So simple, yet it really satisfies my craving for that special drink when I want something other than water.  Do you have a favorite homemade “fancy” drink recipe?  We would love to hear about it!

 

~Jen

 

The Swan Family Has Arrived!

 

Giving me fair warning to not hurt his family!!

Giving me fair warning to not hurt his family!!

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They are so sweet! I am happy that 6 of the 7 eggs hatched!!

They are so sweet! I am happy that 6 of the 7 eggs hatched!!

Well, the weather cooperated and I was able to get out to Lake Huron to snap some pics of this brand new family. They are so cute and Papa Swan was so protective! I know it seems like a simple thing, but I sure do enjoy watching these swans hatch and mature as the summer goes by. Sometimes I have found that it is the simple things that can make all the difference! I hope you enjoy watching their progress as much as I do as I am sure you will see more of them in weeks to come. (For  more views of the swan family check out our gallery under nature!)

Julie

 

Beautiful Blooms

IMG_2752 “You alone are the Lord.  You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them.  You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.” Nehemiah 9:6 (NIV)

 

The lilac bush in my backyard is in full bloom.  I endure the long, cold Michigan winters dreaming of this time of year when the flowering trees and bushes explode with beauty!  Lilacs are my favorite flower and the smell takes me back to my childhood where giant lilac bushes grew near my grandpa’s house.   I find it fascinating that one flower can evoke so many emotions in me.  What a gift God gives us through the wonders of nature.  I find that when I am feeling overwhelmed or anxious, if I can get outside and spend some time in nature I always feel better.  Looking at the beautiful world God created for us gives me a sense of peace and helps me feel close to Him.  What a creative, wonderful God He is to make and  share this beauty with us!  I hope you are able to take a break today and get out and enjoy some time outside, even if it is just to step outside on your front porch and feel the sunshine on your face.  Do you feel closer to God when you spend time in nature?  What are some of your favorite ways to explore this beautiful world?

~Jen

 

Spring in Michigan!

Swans

It’s springtime in Michigan and once again Lexington Harbor is host to Mr. and Mrs. Swan. I must admit it is the highlight of the spring for me to walk out on the harbor to keep tabs on these two, and witness the progress from nest, to eggs, to the most adorable baby swans you could imagine. These swans have lived here for a long time and many people look forward to this spring event. A little fact: did you know that swans mate for life, although their can be “divorce” if there are nesting issues!!! Who knew!! Mama moved a little the other day and let us see her 7 gray eggs!!!! I just received word yesterday that the eggs have hatched!!! Unfortunately today was a day full of storms here in the north so I haven’t got to see the little darlings for myself. You can be sure with the first peak of sun  I will be out there to capture that image to share with you all later! Doesn’t God create wonderful things!!!

Job 12:7-10 – But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.

Julie!

The American Soldier

FlagThrough A Country Momma’s Eyes’s Photos

 

One of the most inspirational groups of people I know are those that bear the title of an American Soldier.  My father served in the Korean War and I remember seeing photos of him in his uniform, but other than that, I did not know anyone that had served in the military.  Little did I know how much that would change in an instant when I met and  fell in love with the man of my dreams, my husband-to-be.  When we met, he had just graduated from West Point and was commissioned into the US Army as a helicopter pilot.  We spent the first seven years of our marriage traveling to whatever part of the United States the Army sent us.   During this time I was privileged to meet some of the bravest, most selfless people I know, American soldiers and their families.  I realized how sheltered I had been, not fully understanding the great sacrifices soldiers make to ensure the freedoms of this country are protected and also thinking of the families left behind, staying strong on the home front, waiting for their loved one to come home.

Today on this Memorial Day, I want to pause and say thank you to this group of men and women that span the ages, people who are willing to give everything, including the ultimate sacrifice, so that we can live freely in this great country.  There is something deep inside this special group of people, something that drives them to serve their country whatever the cost.  It is something to be honored and revered, remembered and always thankful for.

Do you know an American soldier that has inspired you?  We would love to hear your story!

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DH and our nephew at his commissioning ceremony this spring.  He graduated from Michigan State University in the ROTC program.  DH gave him the oath of office.

Dad militaryOur Dad, a veteran of the Korean War

Finally, I wanted to share a poignant quote from our cousin, a Marine who served in Afghanistan:

“Memorial Day…it’s just that. It’s a memorial for all of our fallen, no matter what generation they lived in or what war they served in. It’s a day to remember what the ultimate sacrifice is, and a day to remember those who paid the price in full. You can remember the good times, or remember the bad…but what really matters is that you remember something, and someone. The only thing I ask of all of you on this Memorial Day…remember our fallen, remember there are some still fighting after they’ve come home, and remember everyone deployed who can’t be here for the cookouts and the beers everyone else gets to enjoy. Today is bittersweet in every respect. But it’s a day to remember all the great things a serviceman has done for us time and time again.  For we are not the sheep we protect, yet the sheepdogs who keep the wolf at bay.”

~Jen

 

 

 

Roasted Vegetables

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Summer is approaching and already the markets are filling up with fresh vegetables. I love to create this recipe all year long, but it will be great with the fresher vegetables coming into our gardens and markets! I like to use a variety of different colored peppers, asparagus, brussel sprouts and most recently have started using some cauliflower! I think you could use just about any combination! The roasting seems to bring out a sweetness in any vegetable!

First preheat over to 450 degrees:

If you are using the brussel sprouts and cauliflower I like to cook them in boiling water for about 5 min. It helps speed their roasting speed.

Next spray a large cookie sheet with a non stick butter  spray.

Lay vegetables out in a single layer.  At this point there are 2 ways you can do this. I’ve done both depending on whether I want to save a few calories. You can drizzle with olive oil (which is VERY good for you!) or you can just spray them again with the non stick butter spray.

Next sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper and then some garlic powder. I like the garlic powder with parsley in it. If you aren’t a fan of garlic, the salt and pepper would be fine!

That’s it! Pop in the oven for about 20 minutes and you will have a delicious and healthy side dish! Even my husband loves these and he usually passes on just about every vegetable!

I have been amazed at how many people ask for my “recipe” after sampling these delicious vegetables!!

Hope you enjoy!

Julie