Thursday, May 26, 2011

Thanks for coming to visit! Larry, Andy, and Susan came for about a 24 hour visit this past weekend. We made the most of it.

After a hearty breakfast we took them on an exploration of Nashville. Dane especially had fun coming up with a walking tour for us. And we got plenty of exercise! Andy's pedometer registered more than 20,000 steps.

Thanks for frying the bacon Larry!

Gathered 'round the table for breakfast. Susan was taking the picture.

Of course we've been wearing out the shoe leather visiting folks around the country, so having other people visit us was a welcome respite. What's more - the visitors were some of our best friends from Memphis. Dane especially enjoyed having someone to discuss engineering and urban issues with whose eyelids didn't begin to droop after a few minutes.

Currently accepting more visitors ;)

Monday, May 23, 2011


Out the top of our tent during our one great night of camping (including s'mores)

One of our goals this past year has been to see and try to spend quality time with our immediate and extended families. We are still lacking a few family members in our quest, but that number went down after last week and our trip to Indiana and Illinois.

We started with Indiana, making our way northward to Goshen, but stopping long enough to visit the Hummels (some long time Forlines' family friends) along the way where we were treated to a motorcycle ride!

In Goshen you will find Uncle Matt and his family. (Michelle's Mom's brother) Believe it or not, it was the first time to ever meet cousin Matthew, who is 13 years old! We enjoyed getting to see Uncle Matt "coach" a T-ball game, where the only rules are 1) you swing at the ball until you hit a fair ball, 2) When you field the ball, you must throw it to first base 3) you will never get out and 4) you will always make it to home base.

We also attended church with Uncle Matt, Aunt Melony, and Matthew, where they head up the children's ministry, The Son Shine Club!

Next we headed to East Moline, Illinois to visit Aunt Kathy (Dane's Mom's sister) .

Aunt Kathy leads a life that has many interesting facets. Notably she is a pool (billiards) champion and has the trophies to prove it. She is SUPER organized but not so much that she didn't make us feel at home while we stayed with her.

She took us to a Mexican Restaurant that happens to be called the Ice Cream Palace, but sadly doesn't serve a lick of ice cream.

Watch the video below at your own risk. Dane had fun reverting back to childhood at a park near Aunt Kathy's house.

Our last night of the trip was spent in Chicago, where we may one day call home....we'll see!

Yet again, we're so thankful for all the hospitality that has been extended to us by family and friends this year.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Strawberry Bliss

It is the season of strawberries. I love it. They are a reminder that spring has fully arrived. And such a sweet and delicious reminder they are.

Dane and I have gone strawberry picking a couple of times over the past couple of weeks at Circle S Farms in Lebanon, TN. The picking has been abundant and the strawberries beautiful.

The strawberries were either frozen, made in to jam or just enjoyed plain.

I discovered a wonderful new pectin for jam making. Pomona's Universal Pectin. You can make jam without sugar if you want! I opted for the low sugar version and it tastes so fresh without tons of sugar.

The process...

Clean 'em

Cook 'em

Can 'em

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Machu Picchu

After a wonderfully short plane ride we made it to Cuzco. We spent a couple of days exploring this old and very touristy city. There ware still so many reminders that this was first an Incan city hundreds of years ago. Many of their strong foundations still stand. While there, we discovered waterfalls, old aqueducts, beautiful vistas of the city, plenty of Llamas, and of course some new street foods.

one of the many fountains in Cuzco

As we mentioned, our primary reason for being in Cuzco was to visit Machu Picchu. So we headed out early one morning on a long (7-8 hours), bumpy and precarious van ride. One of the roads we took was literally hugging the mountainside and all you could see out the window was the valley below. Maybe a little dangerous, but our driver made it through.

After arriving at the Hydroelectric station, we hiked 2 hours into Aguas Caliente (also know as Machu Picchu Pueblo), the town from which you access Machu Picchu. By that time it was dark, so we found a hostel and had supper. We had quite a good room with a loud, raging river right outside our window. It provided some good white noise for sleeping. But we weren't to get much sleep or enjoy the river as we rose before dawn to start our steep 1 1/2 hour hike up to Machu Picchu in the rain. The rain soon stopped as dawn came and the misty clouds rolled around us.

Our entrance into Machu Picchu was shrouded in the mist, but it really only added to the splendor. We spent four hours discovering all of the nooks and crannies and terraces, imagining what life must have been like when the Incans were there, and coming upon beautiful views, weird looking animals, birds, and lovely flowers.

The Llamas help keep the grass at bay

The famous view of Machu Picchu (with us stuck in there)


Did I mention the weird animals? This appeared to be 1/2 squirrel & 1/2 rabbit

Dane showcasing some of the amazing Incan masonry built 500 years ago!

After our time there was over we hiked 3 hours back to the hydroelectric plan to catch our van back to Cuzco. Getting to Macchu Picchu the least expensive route (we did it for $98 per person and it's usually easily $250) may have been a bit of a challenge, but it was worth it. We slept soooo good after our day at Macchu Picchu!