Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Hiking Hogsback Mountain - Marquette, Michigan.

A few weeks ago, while vacationing in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, Brian and I headed to Marquette to do some hiking with my sister Michelle and her boyfriend Andrew.  Last summer, we hiked nearby Sugarloaf Mountain.  The views from the top were beautiful, and while the climb wasn't exactly a walk in the park, there were stairs to climb and wide paths to travel.

Hiking Hogback Mountain - Marquette Michigan

This year, when Andrew suggested hiking Hogsback Mountain, my sister was skeptical.  She suggested that Brian and Andrew hike the mountain while she and I hike something a little more manageable.  She's hiked it before and thought it was kinda brutal ... and she knows that she's in way better shape than I am!  The boys were insistent that we join them though, so I suggested that we give it a try.  The boys would go their pace, Michelle and I would go at my pace, and we'd see how close we could get to the top!

Hiking Hogsback Mountain - Marquette Michigan

We took occasional breaks, and I took that time to snap some photos of the beautiful surroundings.  The way the light came through the trees was gorgeous.

Hiking Hogback Mountain - Marquette Michigan

The paths are sandy in some places, with lots of stones and tree roots scattered throughout.  It's funny to see Brian and Andrew just float across all of the obstacles, while I struggle not to trip on anything.  I'm definitely not as graceful at these things!

Hiking Hogback Mountain - Marquette Michigan

Of course, the sandy trails eventually gave way to pure rock.  While it was actually easier to climb up the rock than some of the sandy paths, all I kept thinking was ... how in the world am I going to get back down??

Hiking Hogback Mountain - Marquette Michigan

Then the rock became smoother and more vertical and my focus was back on the 'getting up' part.  Holy steep.  I am not a rock climber, but I managed!

Hiking Hogback Mountain - Marquette Michigan

It was a pretty cool feeling to make it to the top.  Brian jumped down to grab the camera so that he could take photos of me reaching the top.  To say that he was excited that I tried, and succeeded, was an understatement.  

Hiking Hogback Mountain - Marquette Michigan

The views from the top are a breathtaking mix of blues and greens for as far as the eye can see.  There were even some fall colors peeking through at the top of the mountain.

Hiking Hogback Mountain - Marquette Michigan

Hiking Hogback Mountain - Marquette Michigan

Hiking Hogback Mountain - Marquette Michigan

Hiking Hogback Mountain - Marquette Michigan

Hiking Hogback Mountain - Marquette Michigan

Brian had fun running around taking photos while we took a break before the trip back down the mountain.

Hiking Hogback Mountain - Marquette Michigan

Hiking Hogback Mountain - Marquette Michigan

Hiking Hogback Mountain - Marquette Michigan

Hiking Hogback Mountain - Marquette Michigan

Hiking Hogback Mountain - Marquette Michigan

I love how flippin' happy he is in this photo!

Hiking Hogback Mountain - Marquette Michigan

When it was time to climb back down the mountain, I did a lot of sitting and scooting like a toddler learning to navigate the stairs.  Ha!  But hey, I made it!

Hiking Hogback Mountain - Marquette Michigan

Do you see those people sitting on the top of the mountain?  Brian snapped this when we were just a small way down the mountain.  I think it's the last spot where you can actually see people before continuing the hike down.  

Hiking Hogback Mountain - Marquette Michigan

If you ever get the chance to hike Hogsback, I highly recommend it.  It was hard, but so worth it.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Project 365: Week 23

Fun photos this week!  We're trying to squeeze as much fun as possible into the last few weeks of summer!

August 22 - Smug little swimmer.

 August 23 - Robot Kiernan.

August 24 - TT snuggles.

August 25 - Sleepyhead.

 August 26 - Berry harvest.

August 27 - Stoplight selfie .... heading to Girls' Weekend!

August 28 - Gorgeous.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Project 365: Week 22

August 15 - Driving home.

August 16 - Big jump.

August 17 - Literally the only photo I took this day - a blurry snap to show Brian how much of a shadow Cooper was that day.

August 18 - Kiernan's response to me telling him that coffee smells delicious.

August 19 - "Hey Mommy, take a breakfast picture!"

August 20 - Boys & tractors.

August 21 - Raspberry picking.

Monday, August 24, 2015

The very best Oatmeal Cookies in the history of ever.

Do you have a favorite cookie?  Mine is oatmeal reaisin.  I'm kinda weird and really don't care for chocolate chip cookies ... I'll pass 'em up anyday for a nice oatmeal cookie.  I'll even pass 'em altogether if there isn't something else available.  My husband thinks I'm straight crazy.  

Now, I don't discriminate between oatmeal cookies ... I'll eat any one that comes my way.  But my very fave is a nice buttery cookie.  Most oatmeal cookies have at least a little bit of cinnamon, and I'll gladly take that kind off your hands, but my true love is a nice buttery cookie.  

This recipe comes from my parents' neighbor.  She's been blessing us with them for years, and eventually my sister was able to snag the recipe out of her.  And because these are my very favorite cookies in the history of ever, I thought I'd share it with you.  (Pssssst, Kathy ... if this is some secret family recipe, let me know so that I can take it down ;) )

Alright, who's ready to make some cookies?  We start with gathering the goods -  flour, sugar, brown sugar, quick oats, baking powder, salt, raisins, shortening, vanilla, and eggs.  Once you have everything gathered, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  

Add 1 cup of brown sugar (Brown splenda works too!) and 1 cup regular sugar to your bowl.  Top it off with a cup of shortening; I use butter flavored shortening to get that buttery taste to the cookies.  

Mix up your sugars and shortening.  Add 2 eggs and a teaspoon of vanilla and mix some more, til it's nice and smooth.

In a seperate bowl, mix up your dry ingredients: 1 and 1/2 cups of flor, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, and 1 teaspoon of salt.  Seems like a lot of salt, right?  But it ends up being my favorite part of the cookie!

Slowly add your dry ingredients to the creamed mixture.  Have you ever dumped a flour mixture all at once into a moving Kitchenaid?  If so, you'll know why I emphasize the word slowly.  

When the flour mixture is completely combined, it's time to add 3 cups quick oats.  For some reason I don't have a picture of the oats dumped in.  But I do have a picture of them all mixed together...

Once the oats are mixed in, it's time to hand mix in any fixin's you desire.  I prefer raisins, but you could add chocolate chips, nuts, or some other kind of dried fruit.  

Once everything is nice and mixed in, drop rounded spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet and pop them into your preheated oven.  

Bake them for about 12 minutes, until they have a little golden tinge to them.  

Leave them on the sheet to cool for a couple of minutes before you move them to a cooling rack.

Then, you know, maybe sample a warm cookie before they get too cool.  Not all cookies are great warm cookies, but these are delicious.

And they're just as good cooled off.  They are the perfect mix of buttery, salty, and sweet.  

I usually prefer my cookies a little underdone, but I really like these with a little crunch on the outside and chewy on the inside.  So, so good.

These photos are making my mouth water, so I'm off to make batch!

Here's the condensed recipe for you...

1 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 cups quick oats
Optional raisins, chocolate chips, nuts, etc

Cream together sugars and shortening.  Beat in eggs and vanilla.  Combine dry ingredients.  Mix dry ingredients into creamed mixture.  Add oats.  Stir in optional raisins, chocolate chips, nuts, or whatever you'd like.  Drop onto ungreased sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 12 minutes.  Leave on sheet to cool for 2 minutes before removing to cooling rack.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Project 365: Week 21

Just a few photos from our vacation last week!

August 8 - The Bridge.

August 9 - Swingin'.

August 10 - Beautiful morning.

August 11 - Brother beachwalk.

August 12 - Mountaintop sitting.

August 13 - Buried.

August 14 - Relaxing.