Wandering in Wisconsin

Friends— We arrived in in Wisconsin for our John & Laurel’s wedding (more on that later!!) and since then have been taking in fun and food with our other kids winding our way across  the state.  A little “scrapbooking” of some of the best bits…

We crossed the Mississippi River into Iowa to explore the Effigy Mounds National Monument–a series of Native American burial mounds set in a forest overlooking the Mississippi.  A green and leafy afternoon hike.  Loved it!

     


photos:  forest, pretty lichen, Larry, Brian & Lois on the trail, the Mississippi River, The 3 Heungs by some burial mounds.

Next stop– the Great Wolf Lodge complete with the country’s biggest indoor/outdoor waterpark.  Aside from my first harrowing trip down a water slide, it was a lot of fun splashing with grand-girls in the water.

     

photos: Charlotte, Jobay & Maryann complete with wolf ears,  Jobay– the rope bridge champ!, 3 bathing beauties, in the lobby of the Great Wolf Lodge.

A trip over to Milwaukee, demands a brewery tour. A little beer sampling and an animated tour guide named Winston made it a lively afternoon.

     


photos: Lakefront Brewery building. after tour snacks, Winston, soft pretzels and savory spreads.

Next morning, we walked along Lake Michigan to reach the Milwaukee Art Museum, a monumental structure, by the architect, Santiago Calatrava (Spanish!).

     


Lakeside view of the museum, Ani in the reception hall, Larry by a Chihuly glass work, Lois on the prowl at the museum.

One more stop, at the Pabst Mansion, built in the 1890’s by the brewing family, an elegant look at their sumptuous life.

     


photos:  The Past Mansion, the womens’ salon, bathroom doors, our bright tour guide with Captain Pabst, the servants dining room.

Finally, Larry and I explored the Milwaukee Public Museum–a well done natural history museum–complete with butterfly room!!

     
photos:  Display of the museum exhibits back in the 1800’s. The butterfly room and a couple of it’s residents.

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It was a fine full week, traveling across the green and glorious state of Wisconsin– thanks to Micah & Jodi & those 3 fun girls, thanks to Ani & Brian and our littlest tourist.  You all made it such a wonderful time together.  I am thankful.

Our New Little Guy

He’s here!  Little Otto Acer, born on Monday, August 7th.  We’ve been waiting for this new little grand-guy, praying for his safe arrival and here he is, welcomed by his fine parents and big sis Mae and big brother Eero.  So so thankful for this new little life come into the big wide world.  God bless you Baby Otto in all that lies ahead.

     

 

A Big Day!

Hi friends!  Yesterday was a big day around here– Larry went off to his last day of work!!  He’s retiring so we’ll be two old folks rattling around the house together. Kind of.  Actually, we’re leaving in a few days for our daughter’s wedding in in the woods in Wisconsin.  And will come home to trek up to San Francisco to meet a brand new grand-baby!!

After that, we’re making plans.  Larry’s immediate priority is to “drink coffee and read books.”  But with both of us retired, there are so many doors open.   It’s wonderful to be looking to what God has ahead  for us…   Who knows?!

“In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed.
In your strength you guide them.      — Exodus 15:13

Chocolate Cherry Cake

Hi friends– Last weekend was a cake-o-rama around here.  My sis and I made cakes for a big family baby shower– anticipating baby Wyatt’s coming to the big wide world soon!  And our dear younger friends Travis & Bekah were married in this most hopeful happy wedding– simply beautiful.  More cake baking!

So here’s my favorite of the bunch.  Fresh cherries in the cake and in the frosting– with rich ganache and cherries on top!

CHOCOLATE CHERRY CAKE

Cake:
1 dark chocolate cake mix
water
canola oil
3 eggs
1 cup fresh cherries, pitted & chopped
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Frosting:
8 oz. cream cheese
6 oz. butter (1 1/3 stick)
4 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. amaretto (or vanilla)
2/3 cup cherries, pitted & chopped very fine

Ganache:
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tab. butter
1 cup chocolate chips

Garnish:
stemmed fresh cherries

Make the cake according to the directions on the box–mine used 1 1/4 cup water, 1/2 cup oil and 3 eggs.  Beat for 2 minutes with an electric mixer.  Then fold in the cherries and chocolate chips.

Pour the batter into 3 –9″ cake pans that have been sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake them up at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes–until they are firm to the touch.  Let them cool completely before adding the frosting!

To make the chocolate ganache, bring the cream and 2 tab. butter to a low simmer in a pan on the stove top.  Take it off the heat and beat in the chocolate chips for 2 or 3 minutes until they are melted and the ganache is glossy.  Let this cool completely before your pour it over the frosting (so you won’t melt the frosting!!)

With an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar and amaretto (start on the lowest setting so you won’t have powdered sugar flying out of the mixing bowl!).  When that is blended, stir in the cherries with a wooden spoon until they are thoroughly mixed in and the frosting is colored a light pink from the cherries.

Frost the 3 layers of the cooled cake, stacking as you go.  When the ganache is thoroughly cooled drizzle it over the cake letting little streams pour down the sides.  Top with a mound of fresh cherries– Done! and so pretty!

Sweet Times in San Francisco


Bayside in Marin

Hello all– Back from 10 days in San Francisco with our kids– lot of kid cuddling, book reading, house visiting and a lively 4th of July!  Hope you will be so kind as to indulge my little scrapbooking post with some favorite moments…

Celebrated Aaron’s birthday with some cake help from Mae & Eero …
     


Aaron talking through the photos with M & E from his new birthday book.

And then we headed north for a day away from the city–lunch on the deck, making s’mores, looking for ladybugs and Eero on the “porch swing!”

   

Back home Jessica & Mae started by making berry muffins and ended with morning kitchen hugs.
     

Then I moved over to stay with Ani & Brian. First stop– over to see the remodel progress on their house!  Peeking out the back window– and Brian at the future front door!

   

On the 4th of July we crossed the bridge to Sausalito to watch Brian play with the Cal Alumni Band in the 4th of July parade–and Little Lois was a the flag waver with her Grandma Jackie!

     

And we had some great days out & about in the city– having fun in the local library, special lunch at Hook Fish Co., Super Duper Burger picnic in the park, “field trip” to Fort Point.

     

And a highlight was hanging out with Little Lois while her mom went to work for 3 days of our week.  (She’s learning to creep & crawl!!)

Truly so thankful for sweet times with AA & Jessica, Mae & Eero, with Ani & Brian & Lois.  Loved every moment!!

 

Best Baby Books

Hi all–I know a lot of you like reading with kids.  Me too.  And the last few days I’ve been in reading heaven.  First, reading I Love You Stinkyface! at least 17 times, staying with grand-kids Mae & Eero– and now I’ve moved over to stay with baby Lois and Yum Yum! seems to be the favorite.

So for all you who love kid reading out there, here’s a few favorite early baby books, beloved for the pictures, rhythms and rhyme.

I pretty much adore any book illustrated by Stephen Cartwright.  And this super simple book of farmyard animals making their respective “animal noises” is a perfect early book.

 

Baby Babble by Kate Merritt is just right for babies– bright, simple and absolutely “chew proof.”  It says so on the cover (also is nontoxic & 100% washable!). Love the colorful friendly illustrations–part of a series of 20 similar  baby books made of plastic, not cardboard.

 

Featuring a series of hungry animals and their favorite foods, Yum Yum! by Yusuke Yonezu is a delight.  Each animal has a cut out mouth that “devours” a carrot, banana…  All her books are inventive and sweet.

 

And an old favorite–Brown Bear, Brown Bear (board book version) by Eric Carle, is the perfect chanting rhythm and rhyme book for early listeners.  Bold illustrations and repeated color words are a big plus.

 

P.S. top illustration thanks to biblioteques__UVEG

 

 

Grammy Camp 2017!!

Hi there fellow grandmas (& potential grandmas!!)– Just finished up 4 days of Grammy Camp with the 3 oldest Grand-girls.  It’s an annual event around here– Lots of crafty messes, early morning baking, a little pool time, library scavenger hunt, girls’ night out to the movies and a kidseum!

There’s just 2 rules for Grammy Camp–
#1.  One ice cream every day.  #2.  No grumping.

So here’s the highlights– lots of girly (& grandma) fun!!:
Art projects– painting initials & making Fathers Day notes and the tackiest puffy painted t-shirt!

   

Treasure Hunt– following clues to find the treasure — Squirt Noodles!! sorry, no photos. We were having too much fun squirting each other.

We had a couple park stops.

     

The girls’ favorite was splashing in Great Grandma Lo’s pool.

And we started everyday with Breakfast & Bible stories.  (Here’s the view sitting across the table from Jobay! Note the oatmeal is not disappearing.)
    

Spent our last day at the Bower’s Museum Kidseum!  Lots of hands-on fun for 3 girls.

     

Thanks Charlotte, Maryann and Jobay for tons of fun!!  It’s always makes my heart happy when you walk in the door!

P.S.– A few friends have asked about how Grammy Camp works, so here’s our schedule:

Saturday–
*Make your own pizza for dinner.
*Bedtime movie & ice cream sundaes

Sunday–
*Breakfast& Bible stories
*Church
*Backyard hot dog feast with Great Grandma Honey
*Fathers Day notes & puffy paint a t-shirt for Dad
* Crafty initial painting
*Dinner out on the town & movie: Beauty and the Beast

Monday–
*Breakfast & Bible stories (Maryann bakes breakfast!)
*Library Scavenger Hunt
*Park reading picnic
*Swim in Great Grandma Lo’s pool
*Taco dinner with Grandpa Larry
*Yogurtland!!

Tuesday–
*Breakfast & bible stories
*Bowers Kidseum
* Lunch on the road
*Trek on back to the girl’s home in Ojai

Grandma gets home and collapses!!