Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Great Outdoors

This weekend we embarked on our first camping trip as a family of four. We joined some of our good friends for a few days of camping near Starved Rock State Park in Illinois. The forecast was for plenty of heat and maybe a little rain. Lucky for us, it didn't rain, but it was HOT--record-setting heat to be exact. Still, we've camped in heat before and it wasn't too bad.

Levi all ready to go
Our journey started off slow. We stopped along a country highway for the guys to change a flat tire on our friend's boat trailer.

Once there, we unpacked and set up camp. We joined some our friends' family and friends who were already there. After a night of fun around the campfire, we headed out for a hike at Starved Rock. It was packed with people, but is a beautiful park to hike in. We hit some of the overlooks with views of the Illinois River.

After a hike along the river trail, we made it to LaSalle Canyon where one of the park's waterfalls was active. It's been dry so all of the other waterfalls were dry. The waterfall was a great place to cool off a little.

Both our kids were in backpacks most of the way. Levi was so comfortable, he fell asleep. He did the same thing a few years ago when we were hiking here.

Back at camp, the guys started in on roasting their chickens over the fire. There was much discussion on the best way to do this and a variety of cooking strategies were employed along the way to our enjoying two very yummy chickens. Roast chicken is a family favorite, so now campfire chickens will be a staple on our camping trips.

The evening was spent hanging out around the campsite-making s'mores and telling ghost stories after dark. It was a great weekend, despite the heat. Levi had a great time playing with the girls around the campsite and Lillian was her usual easy-going self.

(Thanks to my friend for this photo)

I would consider our first family-of-four camping trip a success.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Na-Da Farm Barn Sale

On Saturday, my friend Amber and I headed out into the country to visit the Na-Da Farm Barn Sale. These kind of events are always a lot of fun. Even better without the kids and with a friend you don't see nearly often enough. And nothing beats a beautiful day in the country.

Anne Marie at Na-Da Farm puts together barn sales a few times a year. The vendors are a combination of local businesses, local artisans, and crafters/creators/collectors of all kind. At this sale there were over twenty-five vendors. There are some outdoor booths, while others are set up in the barn (what else?).

There was such a great variety of items for sale. Like some larger markets, you didn't feel like you were seeing the same things over and over again. My favorite thing about going to these types of events is the inspiration I collect. It would be hard to not be inspired when so many creative people are pulled together. Different styles are represented so there's something for just about everyone.

There's shabby chic/garden decor,


antiques and rustic/industrial pieces,


and my personal favorite, "eclectic".

Before leavning Na-Da Farm we posed for a shot together.

Then we headed into DeKalb, just fifteen minutes away, and hit a few shops there and enjoyed lunch at The House Cafe. Had we had more time, we could have spent longer in downtown DeKalb, but now we have a destination for another girls' day out.

As for the next Na-Da Farm Barn Sale, I'm anxiously awaiting the date so I can put it on my calendar. It's well worth the trip. Be sure to check out the vendor list from the sale to find out what talented people were there and where else you can find them and their things.

If you'd like more information on Na-Da Farm's upcoming barn sales, please visit their website

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Fresh Rhubarb Cake

When my mom came to visit me earlier this month, I asked her to bring me some rhubarb. She brought the little bit she had and I had almost forgotten about it in my fridge. Luckily, it was still good so I decided to make up a Fresh Rhubarb Cake. It's a recipe I had gotten from a friend of my mom's last summer.

I didn't quite have enough rhubarb to make a full recipe of the cake, so I halved it and put it in a round cake pan instead. It turned our moist and delicious. As with all the best rhubarb recipes, it has the perfect balance of sweet and tart. It's great by itself or you can top it with whipped cream or ice cream.

Fresh Rhubarb Cake
1/2 C. margarine or shortening
1 1/2 C. brown sugar
1 egg
1 C.buttermilk
1 tsp. baking soda (add to buttermilk)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
2 C. flour
2 1/2 to 3 C. chopped fresh rhubarb

Cream brown sugar and shortening together. Add egg, salt, vanilla, and buttermilk to which soda has been added. Mix well. Then add flour and rhubarb and combine. Pour batter into greased 9x13 in. pan and sprinkle with topping (see below).

3/4 C. white sugar
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 C. chopped walnuts

Bake for 40-45 min. in 350 degree oven. (For a round cake, bake 25 to 30 minutes.)
If you're looking for other ways to use your rhubarb, try Strawberry Rhubarb Bars or The Farm Chicks' Strawberry Rhubarb Pie.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Happy 1st Birthday Lillian!

The past year has sure flown by. I can't believe my little girl is already one!

This weekend we celebrated her birthday with a party for family and friends.

Lillian with Grandma K and Grandma Sue
She had a lot of fun playing and entertaining everyone with her usual silliness.

Unlike her brother, she had no problem digging into her cake with an audience watching.

First she was lady-like--just dipping a finger in the frosting.

Soon enough she was diving in head-first and picking the whole thing up. She loved it!

Later she opened gifts, including lots of cute clothes for the summer.

I'm so happy to have friends and family to share the milestones of life with. And I'm so thankful to be blessed with a sweet little girl. She's full of personality and can always makes us smile.

This is her latest "trick". How fun it is to hear your own voice inside a bucket!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

A Birthday Treat For Me!

In my family, we always had the cake or dessert of our choice when it was our birthday. There are so many yummy things, it can be hard to choose. This year, I took myself back to Daisy Cupcakery in Madison, WI. I was there last spring and brought home a variety of cupcakes, all of which were DELICIOUS! The one I didn't bring home was the chai cupcake, but my friend did and said it was equally awesome.

So, for my birthday treat yesterday, I looked up a recipe for vanilla chai cupcakes. Awesome!

Happy Birthday to Me!