Monday, January 18, 2010

Our Stop in North Carolina

We couldn't get a flight to Michigan at Christmas, and after the snow storms causing delays in the airports we were kind of glad. Maranda was not thrilled about driving, she couldn't fathom that much time in the car. The owner where Wade works owns a house in North Carolina, and has offered it to us often. We decided to stay there on the way up. It is located near Murphy, and the Georgia, and Tennessee borders are not far off. It was so cold when we stopped on the way up, there was frost on my car in the morning. (The first time my car experienced frost). We don't own a ice scrapper so we had to let the car warm up to melt it. I had left my camera in the car overnight and it didn't work right for awhile until it warmed up I guess. So I couldn't get any photos of the beautiful day when we left. The sky was so blue and frost was still on the ground. In that area there are so many churches and I'm sorry I missed many photos of steeples against the clear blue sky! But I did get this one on the way out on the ride home.
This is Friendship Church, we look for that on the way in because that is where we turn in to get to the house in the mountains. I did decide that I really don't think I could live in the mountains. I mean it's a beautiful place to visit but, everything is on a slant and there is only one way in. What if there was a rock slide? You'd be stuck!

It was beautiful, even in the winter. This was taken from the lanai, (or maybe they call it a deck). The sun was just peaking up over the mountains. On the property (I think he owns 10 acres) they put in this swing. It was up so high and the rope was so long, they built a ramp that you take off from.
Wade was helping Maranda with her launch.

I was standing underneath to get this photo. That's how high up it was.


I think from this photo you can get a better feel of how far up it really is. I can't believe she liked this. I had a turn at it and I had to get off, (and I like roller coasters) whoa!

As they were swinging I ran over to get some pictures of the front of the house. This was no mountain chicken coop (as the owner calls it).
This isn't what people think when they are invited to stay here. They all come up here for Memorial Day and Labor Day so they can ride their motorcycles in the curvy mountain roads. The area is known for it. Even on the road that leads to the house there is a hairpin turn that almost turns into itself. There is a very famous road known as The Dragon, it attracts many motorcyclist from all over.

Here is a blip from Great Smokies website.
NC Highway 28 North — Hwy 28 through Stecoah to Deal's Gap. The 22-mile stretch known as the "hellbender" — from Johnson Gap (Hwy 143) to Deal's Gap — is a favorite of motorcyclists.

Deal’s Gap (The Dragon) — U.S. Highway 129, connecting Western North Carolina with East Tennessee, is world-famous among motorcyclists and sports car drivers, for its eleven-mile section with 318 continuous curves. Riding the Tail of the Dragon at Deals Gapyou closely follow an old Indian trail from Graham County NC to Fort Loudon TN. Take a spin through “Gravity Cavity”, “Pig Pens Bend”, and “Rebels Revenge” with beautiful views of the river along the way to Chilhowee Lake.

This is on the road out on the way home.

Okay I was able to get one steeple, although the sky was partly cloudy!

We stopped on the way out where they have all the dumpsters for everyone. There is no trash pick up so everyone has to take it to this area to dispose of everything. Not wanting to end on a "trashy" note. There was a dog laying in the grass on the other side of the stream. It was funny he was just laying there looking around, enjoying the day!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Thunder by the Bay...or not!

I posted this on my food blog too, so if you read both of them I apologize for the repeat!

This weekend is the 12th annual Thunder by the Bay . It's a motorcycle festival downtown Sarasota. Last year was the first year that I joined Wade on his motorcycle and we road to downtown and joined in the festivities. Usually it is a perfect time of year to do this....but not today. It feels like we are still in Michigan, but without the snow. We are 30 degrees below normal average temperature for this time of year. Wade is going without me this year and only a few of his buddies will be joining him. It's a better day to stay inside and drink some hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps!

It's still sunny outside though and it doesn't look like the cold weather did any damage to our tropical plants.

Just took these picture now, it doesn't look as cold as it is outside!

On Friday the kids at school were so excited with the anticipation of the slight chance of snow early Saturday morning. We were too far south and too close to the Gulf of Mexico...we just got rain. Being as close to the Gulf as we are we don't get freezing temperatures very often. It was funny because the had a delay at Sarasota airport due to frost on the plane. They had to wait for the sun to warm it up because they don't have a de-icer, they only use it about once every ten years or so. If we do get cold it never lasts more than a couple days. So this year is brutal to all of us who don't really have the gear to keep and stay warm!

So I'm catching up on my blogs and cooking some chicken here:

So we can add it to my White Chili later. Maranda wanted to make some, so I think I'll let her do all the rest of it. Last night I wanted to use my Indian spice box (it smells so good) so I just made some red lentils. It was actually a combination of my split peas soup (with parsnips, carrots, tomatoes, leeks, and sausage) then I had some red lentils, and added all my new spices, and some old, and fresh garlic, ginger, then some dried chili peppers, and a cinnamon stick! Ta da!

Just starting out...

After it was simmering for awhile.

I could make up some cuite-sy word for it, but I won't! Of course dals are an easy way to use the spices. I'm going to use them with an eggplant dish next I think... or a curry! Hope everyone is having a nice warm weekend!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Let It Snow, Winter Wonderland!

Maranda's first snow. Well, she actually has seen it before when she was two years old on her birthday in November over Thanksgiving, but she claims not to remember that!

We usually make it up to Michigan to visit family each year. Working in the school system I have the summers off too, so it's easy to travel at that time. Plus Michigan is so beautiful in the summer. My sister has a cottage (they call it a cottage, it's more like a summer house) in Traverse City. We were up there one summer for the Cherry Festival. My parents used to have a boat out at Grand Haven. Lots of things to do and see.

This year Maranda said she wanted to see snow, and decided Christmas would be a good time. We both had two weeks off from school. Wade was able to get the vacation time since he didn't go to the Jet Ski World Finals in Lake Havasu this year. By the time we could figure this out it was too late to buy air tickets. Maranda wasn't too excited about driving up, she has always flown, but we made it. We stayed the first night at a friends house in the mountains in North Carolina. As turned out with all the winter weather this Christmas, and airports full of people and was a good thing we drove. What clinched it for Maranda was when Wade told her we wouldn't get sick, like you do when you fly.

So here is the snow highlights of the trip.

We first spotted it in the mountains in Tennessee. Just a little dusting. It was funny, at one stop for lunch we made she said "look, snow droppings" pointing at a little patch of snow that had not melted yet. Then when we were driving through Ohio it actually snowed. Wade told her to look out the windshield, and she said "oh snowdrops". Okay, so I had to teach her "snow lingo". I told her they'd think she was a Florida girl or something. She said "I am a Florida girl"

She didn't go out and touch the snow right away, she did wait until the next day. On mom and dad's back deck we even got to see icicles!

Wow, they were even low enough where she could grab one.

I took photos from her phone camera too so she could send it to her friends.

I was telling her to be careful when she grabbed it in case it all broke off and fell. Which she was careful, (I think it's her middle name) when her aunt reached out the door and just grabbed one and ripped it off!

She finally picked up some snow. It was not the packing kind on this day. Just wait a few days after the rain. It snowed after the all day rain on Christmas and it packed good. She wouldn't through it at anyone though (she's so nice).

Her next winter adventure, ice skating!

My sister told us we should go downtown and skate! She needed a little help from her cousins.
But I give her credit for going out there when it was so busy and snowy! It was funny how you could catch a snowflake reflection with the flash!

She wasn't the only one hanging out around the edge of the rink. Of course mom, Karen and I were just watching. Someone had to take the photos!

It was chilly, but fun!

I had to show her how the snow was collecting in her hood. After skating we walked over to Friday's. We were all wet when that snow melted. There was even a bicycle taxi dropping someone off in the snow! Brrrr...

The day after Christmas we went to my other sister's house. First time that I've seen it since it was finished. It was pretty as a picture!
Across the street they had a hill, so Maranda got a chance to go sledding for the first time ever!! It was a nice small hill for her to start on.
There she goes her first ride down!

She was not sure about this at all. I wish I could of captured the panicked look her face.
Oh, you mean I have to walk up the hill?

Every one did join in, they all weren't just standing there. It was fun I even went.
Maranda with her cousins, Jessica and Kendra.
We did end up having almost everyone going down the hill. It was nice because we just went across the street and we could go in and get something warm to drink and sit by the fire.
But before we went in Kendra did get Maranda to make a snow angel! Everyone was asking if she's made a snow angel yet. Again, she still wasn't sure about laying in the snow!
Kendra's snow angel!
Let It Snow! Thanks all for looking!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Christmas in Michigan

As you all probably already know we drove up to Michigan to spend Christmas with family. This was the first time Maranda has spent Christmas at grandma and grandpa's, and with the whole family (well most of the family). Also the first time she saw snow. I will split the pictures that I took in different posts, so you won't be overwhelmed.
I wanted to get a picture of Mom and Dad's house before the snow melted.

I found out that I didn't have to hurry. We were supposed to go to Wade's dad's Christmas Eve which is an hour north, but there was freezing rain so we waited until morning. Christmas day it rained all day, but was warm enough it didn't freeze.

There are a lot of Amish farms around where his dad live. They work the farms with big plow horses. All of the Amish farms are kept up really nice. They were all going visiting, we passed around 8 buggies going up there and around 12 on the way back.

The roads were slushy, and slippery for what we were used to.

The passengers in the buggy have a barricade up in front of them where just their heads peak over the top and a hole where the reigns go through. I guess it keeps some of the weather off of them, burr. We passed a group of young people walking, one was pulling a sled with baked beans riding on top.
After we visited up at the farm (Wade's dad live on a dairy farm) we had Christmas with my side of the family. It's funny because we never had to worry about that before, where to spend Christmas, Christmas eve with who and when and where. We usually spend Christmas with our friends who are originally from South Africa and they don't have family in town either. So we make our own traditions, a little South African and a little American.
The food was already when we got there. One nice thing about coming in from out of state, everyone else did all the cooking.

Mom fit us all in. Of course the kids table was mostly adult kids :) not so bad for Maranda.

Our family, Sarah was in California and baby Ruby was sleeping, otherwise we're all here.

The first time my car had snow on it. In North Carolina where we stayed the night on the way up it was all frosty! It snowed after Christmas and became really nice snow. It wasn't the crunchy kind you usually get after it rains then snows. I think they ordered it that way so Maranda could see a little bit of everything.
Oh, I slipped this photo in the wrong spot. Karen got us all some fuzzy sleep pants to wear Christmas Eve. Just like when we were kids we got the matching PJs.

I don't know where Karen was in this photo though. Just us and our cousins at Grandma Bouwman's on Christmas morning. Fun, fun, fun!