Monday, June 30, 2008

Paradise: For Sale

I was going to write about this, but Holly's comment on my previous post made me want to do it even more. Yes, indeed my mom has put her house on Lake Huron up for sale. For as long as I can remember it was my parents' dream to live on the lake. A few years after my dad died, my mom decided that it was time. She bought this house on the lake, cut the roof off, and added on the second level. Even before we moved in the house, I had bonfires on the beach. Since we moved in it has been a solace and oasis for our family. We have entertained many friends and family on the beach and around the fire pit. Amanda and I were married in the backyard. Tricia and Alex danced together on the deck at a party we had there after they were married. We have celebrated Thanksgivings, Christmases, and birthdays there.

Mom has been splitting her time between Florida and Alpena for the past two years. She feels like it is now time to make the permanent transition to Florida. Joe, Carrie, Drew and their soon-to-be-born baby are there and it is a good place for her. While we will miss her home, Alpena, and people that we love there, we know that it is a good move for Mom.

If you're interested in a piece of heaven in Northeastern Michigan that would be a bargain at twice the price, check out the link at the top of the page.

Monday on vacation

I'm on vacation! What are all of you people doing who have to work today? Yesterday I went and picked up Tricia, Davy and Jacob. Alex and they met me half way and I brought them back. We have been hanging out on the beach, the yard and taking naps. One thing I have been enjoying is taking photos. You can see today's photos here. Also, check out the video of Matthew below. We have been wanting to get this routine on video for some time. He is an absolute hilarity with this stuff!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Alpena Trip

We are enjoying the beauty of Northern Michigan. We spent this morning on the beach. The sky was overcast but it was a beautiful morning. After naps today we are back out to the beach. I am hoping for more of this. You can check out all of this morning's photos here.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Welcome back!

Welcome back the Falders to the blogosphere. Approximately a year ago Tricia was keeping a very interesting and regular blog. Then due to personal reasons (That's the reason celebrities give for quitting something. I think she just got to busy.) she quit posting and shut down the blog. This morning I received an e-mail that said they are BACK IN BUSINESS! The Falders have now gotten top billing on my friends list (on the right) and on my Netvibes page (my RSS reader). Check out their blog here.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Mocha Chip

This weeks ice cream is Mocha Chip. A few things went wrong with this one, but it still turned out pretty good. First the recipe called for a coffee concentrate that you make with a coffee toddy. I didn't have a coffee toddy so I just made a batch of REALLY strong espresso roast coffee. I added that to a basic sweet cream base. I wanted a little bit richer taste, so I melted some semisweet chocolate chips (about 1/2 cup) and added that tot he mix. Into the the machine it went.

Towards the end I thought I would add some chocolate chips. I wanted them to be smaller though, so I chopped them up in the blender. I made smaller chunks than what I really wanted. After the allotted 30 minutes in the machine what I really had was an ice cream soup. The ice cream is never "ready to eat" right out of the machine. It always needs a couple more hours in the freezer to firm up like I like it. But this was soupy. I consulted my Ben & Jerry's book and they said that whenever you add a liquid (like coffee) to the sweet cream base, it is going to affect your consistency and freezing time. I had a small cup (above) at lunch today and it is pretty good. It takes like a very rich chocolate with chips. With all the extra chocolate I added, I lost some of the coffee flavor. Amanda suggested that I leave out the extra chocolate next time. I think she's right.

Higher Call Quartet

I have been listening this morning to the CD from the quartet that Amanda's mom Shirley plays with. The name of the group is Higher Call. We went to the Minnesota State Fair to hear them sing last year and really enjoyed it. Shirley really enjoys playing for the group. You can check out more about Higher Call at their website. Also, watch the video below. Unfortunately this was before Shirley began playing with them.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Blueberries and Cream Ice Cream

Welcome to my first blog post exploring my exploits in homemade ice cream. I am hoping to make this a recurring part of the blog. First, a little background. I received my ice cream maker, the Cuisinart Automatic Frozen Yogurt/Ice Cream/Sorbet Maker for Christmas from my mom. I have made many different ice creams so far. My favorite is Chocolate & Peanut Butter, but I have enjoyed them all. Also for Christmas I got the book Ben & Jerry's Homemade Ice Cream and Dessert Book from Brad and Sarah. This was an essential piece in the great ice cream puzzle. The ice cream maker came with a small recipe book, but it left out what I found to be an essential ingredient: eggs. Ben & Jerry's recommends a least one or two eggs in each batch. The eggs seemed to really affect the consistency of the final product. I hope you enjoy this ongoing subject.

This past week we got a huge box of blueberries from Costco. I thought ice cream would be a good way to use some. I used approximately two cups of blue berries in my blueberries and cream ice cream. In my Cuisinart recipe book there is a recipe for strawberry ice cream that say to combine 1/3 cup of sugar, some lemon juice and berries and let stand for two hours. I only let the berries and sugar mixture stand for a little more than a half hour. This gave me more of a blue berries and cream taste than a blue berry flavored ice cream. It was very good though and I am finishing of the remainder of it this week.

Last night I made some "mocha chip" ice cream that I will write about next.

Boys+Gigi+Alpena=GOOD TIMES!

My mom spent this past week at our house. We had a good week of spending time together. She came over to see us and to pick up the boys.

This morning we sent Ben and Caleb off to Gigi's house for five days. This will be the longest time that the boys have been away. I am praying for them and for my mom. I think they will have a ton of fun. They plan to go ride go-carts, play on the beach, play in the woods, watch TV, eat junk food and play on the beach some more. I was home at lunch and Matthew already misses his brothers. Amanda and I are sure going to enjoy having him and Molly all to ourselves though this week. If you like the picture above, see more of the three boys here.

Dutch Oven

Carrie Gammons' sister Elizabeth recently started a new food blog. I found it today when I was rolling through my blog list. The title is "Dutch Oven". Her motto is "Welcome to my adventures in cooking. I'm no professional, I just wanted a place to organize my thoughts and recipes, and share with others who may be interested. Enjoy!"

Scrolling through the recipes and pictures, my mouth began to water and my stomach gurgled. It is always great to see someone who is interested in putting together a family meal. Dinner time at our house is one of the most important and meaningful times of my day, thanks in no small part to the work that Amanda puts into it. Elizabeth's husband Bill is a lucky man! If you're looking for some good recipes that look like they are pretty easy to pull together, check out Elizabeth's new blog.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Weekend highlights

Here are a few highlights from the past weekend. You can find all of the photos here.

Monday, June 16, 2008

A weekend of celebration

This weekend we celebrated a lot. We celebrated Father's Day and Amanda's birthday. Amanda and I don't do very well with delayed gratification as it relates to gifts so I gave her her birthday present on Friday night (a salt scrub and long massage at Donovan's Serenity and Wellness Spa for while were in Alpena.) She gave me my Father's Day present the same night (a beautiful blue and white summer robe from Land's End.) I love the robe. If you are a man who is not into robes, you definitely have to give them another try. I have a GREAT chamois cloth robe for winter. Robes are the in-between that you need in the morning. It gets you from the bed, out to the kitchen to get your coffee ready and eat breakfast. Enough about robes.

Saturday night we went with Shirley to Benihana for Japanese cook at your table. This was Amanda's choice, but I think the boys may have enjoyed it as much as she did. I had a wonderful filet minon. It was melt-in-your-mouth tender. But Matthew ate most of us under the table. It was fun to sit next to him and watch.

Sunday we went to church in the morning. Have I written about how much we love our church? I know I have. Pastor John is preaching through a series on the Psalms. Based on Psalm 103, he spoke about how fathers need to bless the Lord in the midst of their children. We need to bless (or praise) the Lord for 1) His sovereignty, 2)His righteousness in the way that He works on the side of the poor and oppressed, 3) His mercy in forgiving my sins. That third one was the kicker! I need to let my kids know more about how much I need God's forgiveness and how amazingly he lavishes it on me. Later in the day, I called the fathers in my family and told them that I loved them and that I had prayed for them. Being a father is a difficult job. See Pastor John's sermon here.

After church, we headed to Amanda's dad's to again celebrate her birthday and Father's Day. The day was beautiful and the food and company were rich. All in all, it was a great weekend. Photos from the weekend to come tomorrow.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Dirty, dirty, guess who's 30!

Amanda will probably kill me for this, but on Sunday we will celebrate 30 years of life for Amanda Faith. Amanda is an amazing partner and gift from God. I am regularly amazed by the grace she shows, the strength she musters and the love she lavishes. Please join me in celebrating her this weekend. I love you Amanda!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Little Molly

Molly is growing more and more every day, both in stature and in personality. She is another in a long line of strong women: her mother, her grandmothers, her aunts, etc. Yesterday she decided she wanted to climb up the slide. Amanda told me this when I got home. She didn't ever make it to the top while Amanda was watching her. Amanda pulled her off each time. She said it was too dangerous. She could fall. While I was watching, she finally made it to the top. She doesn't walk yet, but she can sure climb that slide. She's something! I got a little picture crazy. You can see them all here.

Finger lickin' good

Yesterday Amanda made a dinner that will definitely be added to our normal rotation. Baby back ribs were on sale this week at the Cub so we decided to give them a try. We copied Shirley's method and boy were they good. Amanda put them in the crockpot for about five hours on high and then I finished them off on the grill. The grill really helped caramelize the barbecue sauce and crisp up the edges. The meat was falling off the bones. We had some skins in mashed potatoes and asparagus too. It was another home run on Amanda's part. We're very blessed that Amanda is such a great cook. She knows how to sling the hash.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Sweet Baby James

This weekend we are heading out to Brad and Sarah's to celebrate James' baby dedication at church. I was thinking of him and made up this photo. He has the bluest eyes. They really are that color.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Ben graduates from kindergarten

This morning we attended Ben's kindergarten graduation. It was a lot of fun to watch him and his classmates. Laying in bed with him this morning, I said to him, "In only twelve years you'll graduate from high school." That seems like it is right around the corner. You can see all of the pictures from this morning here and another video here.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Gammons/Nagel Guys' Camp-out '08

Last night we inaugurated the first annual Gammons/Nagel Guys' Camp-out. Brad, Dave, Ben, Caleb, Matthew and I all ventured to the Wm. O'Brien State Park for an overnight of hot dogs, campfire, ice cream, candy, hiking and hanging out. It was an absolutely great time. The only thing that dampened our time was the tornado warning and downpour that sent us running south in the minivan trying to outrun the hail. This will make for a great story though. And any story that ends with all of us eating ice cream is a good one. The boys did a great job with camping. By 10:00 PM everyone was sound asleep (except for the 12 ten-year-old girls in the tent next to ours.) Matthew won the prize by sleeping the latest. He had to be woken up for breakfast. We took a couple of hikes by the beautiful St. Croix River down a great path. The only thing that could have made it any better would have been more Gammons/Nagel guys. We are hoping that in the future, James, Gregg, Joe, Drew, Alex and Jacob can all make the trip. Maybe we'll venture a little further south to make this a possibility. Thanks to Brad and Grandpa for making it a great time. I hope you both were able to get a nap! Check out all of our photos here.