Summer Camp – A visit to Next Day Signs

One of my other favorite families to spend time with in Michigan is the McKelvey’s!  Shannon is my husband’s cousin which makes her ……..cousin in law?  Her husband Casey is a really cool, laid back guy who is a dedicated nurse.  I love talking to him about his job – he has had the most interesting experiences!  Harley, their soon to be senior in high school, is an amazing athlete and an all-around good kid!

But this post is about Shannon!  She owns a sign making company called Next Day Signs, a business she took over from her dad.  I’ve heard about the “sign shop” for years, but have never been there.  On this visit, I made sure to get a tour and Shannon was most gracious in allowing us to intrude during a work day.

I’m going to be honest.  I was super excited!  I’ve seen some of her work and have always been so impressed by her designs.  Here is a little of our visit…


IMG_2886-1 IMG_2889-1The front of the store is filled with display samples.  It’s really impressive!  The back rooms filled with supplies and tools are where all the magic happens.

IMG_2881-1 IMG_2882-1 IMG_2883-1 IMG_2884-1 IMG_2885-1 IMG_2879-1 Aaron is posing next to her humongous color printer. She made a sign for our family graduation party while we were there.

IMG_2893-1I loved looking at all the samples of her work.

IMG_2880-1 IMG_2888-1But this one by far was my favorite!

IMG_2892-1 If you live in the Toledo metro area (or anywhere – shipping available) and are in need of a quality sign, banner, car magnet, window wrap, etc., check out Next Day Signs!

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Summer Camp – Antiquing in Blissfield,MI

One of my favorite things to do while we’re in Michigan is to visit Blissfield.  It’s a really quaint small town with several antique/vintage stores. It has a Main Street with a library and an ice cream shop!  It doesn’t get more quaint than that!

I could literally fill a week’s worth of posts with photos, but I’ll condense it into these few…


IMG_2875-0 IMG_2872-0 IMG_2873-0 IMG_2869-0 IMG_2868-0 IMG_2874-0 IMG_2870-0 IMG_2865-0 IMG_2864-0 And, of course, we had to have lunch!  We picked this fun spot…


And I picked one of my diner favorites…

IMG_2867-0…a reuben.  What a great way to spend a day!


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Summer Camp 

This post was originally written a month ago, but never got posted.  It has such great memories I just had to post it anyway.

It’s officially summer!

And not just because the calendar says it, but because we are at summer camp.

Ok, Aaron and I aren’t officially at camp, but our Junior High church kids (including our youngest) are.  Every year for the past 8 (or 9 I’m getting too old to remember exactly) years we have brought students to Camp Patmos.  It’s located on Kelley’s Island in Lake Erie.

It’s a really great camp!  It’s such a quaint little island – you can even see Canada from one side!  We think it’s so great, that we are willing to leave at 4A.M. and make the 8 hour trip each year for our kids to catch a ferry to the camp.  Another great perk to such a long trip is that Aaron and I spend a week with his aunt and uncle, whom we absolutely adore! I absolutely love sitting on their porch with them and their dogs to catch up!  We do not get to see them enough, so I cherish this time.

This is the view…

IMG_0074What you can’t see is the wildlife out in the field.  That big field is home to turkey, deer, rabbits, and pheasant, just to name a few.

As much as I love to visit, Aaron is extremely excited each year we make the trip. Here he is about 5 minutes after we arrived…

It’s such a great week, I can’t wait for summer camp each year!

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Emptying the Pantry for Summer

We spend a fair amount of time away from home in the summer.  There are youth camps, missions trips, family visits, and a beach vacation to name a few.  Because we are often gone so much, I like to empty as much of the pantry and refrigerator as I can so nothing goes to waste or pests are tempted to invade in our absence.

It was with this intent that I made a little pineapple zucchini cake.  You can easily guess from its titled which components I was trying to use up.


The zucchini would have gone bad for sure, but you may be wondering about the other two.  The date on the pineapple chunks was actually for closer to the end of the year, but I really like zucchini and pineapple together.  The cake mix had actually expired in January. I’m not really sure what that means, but I wasn’t all that concerned.

Never having put these three teams together before, I wasn’t sure this would be a success.  I was sure that if I looked it up online, I could probably find someone who had done it before.  However, I was feeling lucky and decided just to wing it.

I started by grating the zucchini.

IMG_2842You may have noticed a odd things about the above photo.  First of all, I semi-peeled the zucchini.  I like all the green flecks, but I have a picky eater who is a little less interested in seeing the green.  The second thing you may have noticed is the healing injury on my thumb.  I’m not going to lie, grating the zucchini brought back some pretty painful reminders of the unfortunate cheese grating incident I had a few weeks ago.

I let the zucchini drain while I chopped up the pineapple in the food processor.


I had already drained about a cup of juice from them before chopping them up.  I decided I’d replace the cup of water that goes in the cake mix with some if not all the pineapple liquid.

Here’s how I put it all together:

I mixed three eggs with 1/3 c of canola oil.

Next I added the box mix.  I wanted to wait to add any further liquid until the end.

I incorporated a cup of zucchini and a cup of the now shredded pineapple.

I decided to add 2/3 c of the pineapple juice because it was already a pretty loose batter.

I finished by added a tsp of ground cinnamon and 1/2 tsp of nutmeg.

I put the batter in two loaf pans and baked them at 350 degrees for 35ish minutes (somehow I missed the oven timer ringing while I was upstairs gathering laundry).

The result was rather impressive since I had no recipe.


The two younger guys got home and we tested a corner.  Delicious – not as sweet as I thought it would be though.  I checked the refrigerator and found a stick of cream cheese that had already been opened.  I already had a few sticks of unsalted butter on the counter, so making a little cream cheese frosting to put on top was a no- brainer!



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Going Bananas

One would think by the title that I’m planning to share about all the events that surrounded my oldest son’s high school graduation. While it would be an apt title for how I was feeling- it is not the subject of this post. It’s literally about bananas – an over abundance of bananas.

Trying to be a good hostess to all who were visiting, I bought lots of fruit to have on hand. This meant that when everyone left, I had a large bunch of bananas that needed to be used for something.

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of always making banana bread!

I decided to make a batch of my new favorite banana cupcakes with cinnamon honey buttercream frosting a la Martha Stewart.  I wrote about them once before here.


They were so delicious!  However, I still had more bananas with which to contend.  I searched high and low for a new dessert recipe using ripe bananas.  I finally ran across a great recipe for banana whoopie pies!  Never having made whoopie pies of any kind before, I was unsure if they would come out all right.

I had no need to worry. They were amazing!

I filled them with cream cheese frosting which worked well. In hindsight a chocolate buttercream or even a peanut butter frosting would have been great options as well.

Like most whoopie pies, they had to be kept refrigerated and were really at their best for a few days. I think if they had lasted longer the color and flavor would have changed.

I’m actually looking forward to my next  batch of leftover bananas

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Back in Paradise

Well, I’m actually on Paradise- Paradise Road that is. 

Now that graduation for my oldest is over, we’ve come to my parents to be a help around the farm in any way we can. I wish everyone could experience this place. Right now the weather is perfect – not too cool or too warm. The peonies are still in bloom along with all the summer flowers. 

My mom put a bouquet in my room.  


The scent absolutely fills the whole room.  I think I’ve slept better because the flowers have perfumed my dreams. 

Another favorite – the herb garden. It’s filled with every herb imaginable and lettuces. It allows us to have really great salads like this…

The last of my favorites today would have to be my view this morning. 

What can I say?  Sunrise – check. Deer browsing in the field – check. Songbirds filling the air with their morning songs – check. The occasional croak of a fringing the pond – check. The hum of bumblebees and hummingbirds – check. 

It really is Paradise. 

Of course, my uninterrupted view did last. One of the pups needed some lap time. 


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Who doesn’t love a fritter?

So, I’m on a new thyroid medication- one I’ve been reading up on for the last year. I can’t tell you how excited I was when my endocrinologist recommended it. I was sure it would be the answer to all my nagging symptoms. My Dr. cautioned me about losing too much weight or feeling wired long into the night. 


I don’t feel any different!  It’s been about two weeks and, not only have I not lost weight, but it’s a miracle if I stay awake past 6 PM. 

Actually, there is one thing that has changed. In the past I rarely ever felt hungry. I would often forget to eat lunch and spent more time snacking to stay awake than fulfilling any hunger pangs. Now, I feel hungry!  Sometimes, I feel hungry before lunch!  Sadly, this feels like more of a problem than a solution to my thyroid issues. 

I’ve decided I need to really give the meds a chance and continue a daily workout and healthy eating. With that said, all the craziness of our month of May(hem) has left my workouts a little sporadic and my eating a little out of sorts. Yesterday, I opted to have a nice big salad for dinner and some zucchini fritters. 

Here’s how it started…

Shredded zucchini!  I salted it a little and let it sit for 10 minutes to draw out some of the liquid. 

In the meantime, I chopped some spring onion, garlic and fresh basil. 

After the zucchini drained for a while, I wrapped it up in a towel and squeezed out the remaining liquid. 

I beat one egg in a bowl and added the zucchini, onion, garlic, and basil. To bind it, I added a little flour and some Parmesan cheese. 

I added a little olive oil to a sauté pan and cooked the fritters over medium heat. 

Because I salted the zucchini to draw out the water, I waited until they were cooked and let each person salt and pepper to their own taste. They were delicious!

They were a great complement to my salad!  

Thinking about serving them to company next week!  If you’re looking for a great vegetarian option, zucchini fritters are a great option!

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