Tuesday, September 28, 2010

{ Pointing (chubby) Fingers }

Dear Pioneer Woman,

This is your fault. All your fault.

On second thought, I'll let you spread some of the blame on the ladies who introduced me to your blog over our bloggy-girls get-together in March. Clearly, this is when the trouble began. This was my introduction to your apple dumplings, your crash potatoes {smash potatoes? I can't remember}, and a whole world of hunger-inducing recipes and photos.

You did this to me, P-Dub. I've gained ** pounds this spring and summer. Not last winter. Not last fall. All of it has jumped on my hips, my thighs, and my tummy {oh! my poor, poor, roly-poly tummy!} within the past five months. Why do you tempt me, Pioneer Woman? How can the food you cook be so bad and yet so good?

Last night is a prime example. Husband does not like meatloaf. I made your meatloaf, that spectacular bacon-wrapped creation topped with the amazing sauce. {Three-fourths of a cup of brown sugar probably had something to do with that.} It was tasty. But not just tasty. It was tasty tasty tasty. Husband closed his eyes and breathed slower with the first bite. He proclaimed it not only the best meatloaf he's ever had, but the only meatloaf he has ever liked.

He went back for seconds.

Then he went back for thirds.

We are going to need new {larger-sized} clothing as a result of the peach pie, berry cobblers, fried steak, pastas, chicken curries, and rosemary rolls you've introduced to us. Help me, the rosemary rolls!! I've made them four times. The first three times I ate them all--all by myself--within an hour. All nine of them. I did that three times, Pioneer Woman! I need help! I need a support group!

Because of my newfangled eating habits, I've had to start exercising. I sweat and puff and pant in the living room every morning with my workout DVD. I do jumping jacks, pray I don't wake the downstairs neighbors, and dream of rosemary rolls for breakfast.

I lay the blame at your figurative doorstep, Pioneer Woman. My life expectancy is probably decreasing exponentially due to the buttery goodness of your recipes....come to think of it, my waistline is probably increasing at a similar rate. And while I'd rather be free of the excess jiggle I've accumulated in the past few months, I have to say....your recipes are the best.

With love and adipose tissue,


Thursday, September 23, 2010

{ Happy Birthday }

To you, Handsome!
I pray for God to bless you mightily in the upcoming year:
To give you courage, strength, wisdom, and joy.
To give you each day your daily bread.
To undergird you every moment with the knowledge of His everlasting arms upholding you.
To bless you beyond your wildest dreams, as you pursue Him boldly.
Happy Birthday to the man who follows Jesus and leads me.
Happy Birthday to the man who throws me over his shoulder just because.
Happy Birthday to the man who makes me laugh harder than anyone else.
{He's in the middle, in case you were wondering.}
Happy Birthday to the man who is courageous, talented, hardworking, good-looking, creative, not afraid to take risks, speaks the truth boldly, is passionate for the Gospel, has a servant's heart, can click his heels, and is going to be embarrassed that I wrote this post.
Happy Birthday to the man who loves to sing, anything, anytime, anywhere, even if a karaoke machine is hundreds of miles away.

Happy Birthday to the man who dances like he lives: passionately, exuberantly, wholeheartedly. Happy Birthday to the man who has perfected the art of the Car Dance.

Happy Birthday to you, Michael! Aside from Jesus, you are the greatest evidence of God's grace in my life. I am so glad that you were born!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

{ Idaho: the Family }

Ahhhhhhhh, the family. I always save the best for last, don't I? Never mind, you don't have to answer that question. Just enjoy all the eye candy I'm about to share with you!
One of the things that makes trips back home so special is that it's an eight-hour drive. Eight-ish. Emphasis on -ish if you are under the age of sixty...it's more like seven-plus-ish. Regardless, it's a long trip and we don't make it very often and so it's always really special to see everyone. Especially seeing the babies, who are now kids and toddlers, and meeting the new babies, and loving on the old folks. {I do not mean my parents. I love on them, but I do not classify them as old. Yet.} Also, my dearest sweetest Julie-est cousin Julie lives at the opposite end of Idaho--it would probably take me twelve-ish hours to drive to her house--so when we are able to sync up our visit with hers {her family lives minutes from mine}, it's extra-special-wonderful! How was that for a run-on sentence? You know emotions are high when Nikki doesn't even care about run-on sentences. Enough talking, let's get to the good stuff!
My mama and my daddy with Audrey, my cousin Andrew's youngest daughter {they have four girls under the age of seven}. This photo was taken a few minutes after Dad, holding Charlotte {Julie's baby, a few days younger than Audrey}, declared, "Golly, she weighs two pounds less than a dead horse!"
I learn some kind of new, shocking, and colorful phrase every time I come home. Honest. Usually dead horses and five-month-old baby girls aren't referenced in the same phrase, though.

Me, Charlotte {left} and Audrey. Oh my goodness, are those flowery-feathery-headbands not enough to slay you?! I die every time I look at this picture. The cuteness is not unlike an acute coronary spasm.

Let me sidetrack for a moment to explain a bit of complicated genealogy. Julie, Andrew, and Christy are all my cousins. Julie is Charlotte's mama, and Andrew is Audrey's daddy, so Charlotte and Audrey are cousins. And they are going to be the cutest little old ladies together in 80 years, let me tell you!

How on earth does a two-year-old know how to pose like this?! Emily is the goofiest, clowniest little girl. She's Audrey's littlest big sister.

Emily again, her hair all static-y from jumping on the trampoline

Julie with five-month-old Charlotte. I love the expression on Charlotte's face: "Oh, here they go again, taking pictures of me. It's gonna be a looooong weekend..."

Lottie and Audie. Oh, the kissable squishable chubbiness of those two! I die!

This is my cousin Christy {auntie to all the children you see in this post} and her boyfriend Kevin. The revelation of Kevin as boyfriend was a really big deal. And I really like him! Well done, Christy. He loves Jesus, he's a nice guy, and he's funny. Probably shouldn't let him get away. ;-)

Emily was cold. Therefore, she requested {and was granted} admittance into her mother Corrie's jacket.

Eli is Charlotte's big brother. He's almost two, and anything to do with trucks, heavy equipment, driving, trucks, dirt, trucks, backhoes--did I mention trucks?--this boy loves. You would not believe how hard it was to get him to hold still long enough for a photo.

This smile could melt the coldest heart!

Now, before you see the next photo, I want you to know that I requested permission from the subject's mother to post this photo on the internet. Her response was essentially, "Oh, why not? Everyone who has seen her has seen it--it won't stay in her pants!"

{ Charlotte's crack }

This doesn't even begin to show you all the people with whom we laughed, ate, played games, and made fools of ourselves. I'm kind of afraid blogger will get mad at me if I upload any more pictures this week, though, so I'm going to call this the end of our Idaho adventures for the summer of 2010.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

{ Idaho: the Scenery }

Home, home on the range. Except it's not "the range." It's the mountains. Anyhoo, the juxtaposition of such brilliant colors makes my heart sing. God really is an artist, isn't He?

Above is the view from a neighbor's house.

One day, we drove down this incredibly narrow, winding road:
with views like this:
to get here, our swimming spot on the river.
I was so tickled to get to show Mike more of my old stomping grounds!
Below is the view from my cousin Andrew's {and his wife Corrie's} house:

Amazing as that is, take a look at this rainbow to the east, reflecting the sunset:

Monday, September 20, 2010

{ Idaho: the Critters }

For the past three years, Mike and I have gone to Idaho to visit my family over Labor Day weekend. In 2008, we'd been dating about five months...and he was the first guy I'd ever brought home to meet my family {I should probably clarify: Aside from a disastrous six-week relationship when I was 20, he was also the only man I'd ever dated.} It was a big deal. In 2009, we'd been married less than two months, and my family threw a big reception for us. It was amazing! And a big deal. Mike's family also made the trip and finally got to see where I grew up. In 2010, we actually went the weekend before Labor Day {that's when I was able to get time off}, and Mike's parents again joined us for part of the time. It was a fun, relaxing, laid-back long weekend.

My littlest brother, Obediah, with his two new horses, Teko and Bandit. I can't remember which is Teko and which is Bandit, but they are both gentle as kittens and love people. They think they are people. While both horses are very accustomed to humans, they are young {three and four years old} and need to be broken/trained. Obie has his work cut out for him--but if any not-quite-16-year-old guy can break two horses, it would be him!

My Dad petting two of his babies, Hokey Pokey {the Shih Tzu on his lap} and Ali {as in alley cat}. Or maybe that's Tu Tzu on his lap, and Bitty {as in bitty kitty} that he's petting. I really don't know. My parents have two Shih Tzus, which I can rarely tell apart when they're next to each other and never when it's just one of them. They also have two black cats with white markings, which I can never ever tell apart. Why they have nearly identical duplicate pets, I have no idea. It's probably to confuse the visitors. Come to think of it, Obie is following in their footsteps, getting two dark-colored horses, each with a blaze down his face, and I can't remember which of them is which either! Is it a conspiracy? I honestly never realized this before. It probably reveals some deep-seated psychological damage. I ought to suggest professional counseling for their duplicate-identical-pet issues.

Gus. Or, Angus Dougie McDog. This is sad. Gussie is now in the Happy Hunting Grounds. He was an old fellow, probably 12 or 13. {And there was only one of him.} Goodbye, Guster-buster. I'll miss you.

Either Bitty or Ali is an incredibly laid-back feline and will let Obediah do pretty much anything with her. As evidenced by this one photo, representative of numerous un-catlike poses that Bitty/Ali nonchalantly allows Obie to put her in. Bitty? Ali? Bali?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

{ Recipe for A Great Date }


1 Husband who loves Wife more than she can even imagine
1 Wife who tries to look cool in front of a strange fountain-thingy

Mix thoroughly in the Seattle Underground Tour.

Laughter, Wife snuggling under Husband's shoulder, rats, a musty smell, and education about Thomas Crapper, Puget Sound tides, and a detailed history of Seattle's early plumbing required.

Season with strawberry lemony iced tea and an iced caramel latte at Seattle's Best Coffee in Post Alley.

Optional seasoning: The gum wall in Post Alley. {Not recommended for the Wife portion of the date.}

Layer this with lunch at Kell's Irish Pub, complete with a view of the waterfront, a pint o' Guinness, and people-watching.

Surround with fresh flowers at Pike's Place; Wife should choose favorite bouquet, which Husband buys for her.

Note: Copious amounts of sunshine and balmy temperatures should accompany all above-ground portions of this concoction.

To finish, frost it with a trip to Anthropologie. Enjoy on a leisurely September Saturday.

Friday, September 17, 2010

{ Wreath Re-do }

It's certainly possible that this is the easiest DIY wreath ever.

Two years ago this winter that I had The Wreath Epiphany. I remember the specific shopping trip, walking through the home goods section of Fred Meyer after work one evening, and the sudden overwhelming need for a wreath. A wreath on our front door. A few months earlier, I and three other girls from church moved in together. We rented a spacious house, oh-so-lovely house on a quiet street in a great neighborhood--rent was darn cheap when you split it four ways! So much nicer than the apartment I'd been sharing with one of the other girls for eight months. And the closest I'd been to having space where I had a say in the decorating.

I realized that a wreath means home to me. It means someone is staking a claim to this place, putting down roots, taking responsibility for making this house a home. A wreath is a quiet declaration of belonging, and not just belonging, but enjoying and beautifying the space where you belong. All this came to me in a rush. I needed to get us a wreath.

I found exactly what I wanted: lots of bright red berries on a simple vine wreath. I loved it. I thought it was totally appropriate to leave it up till Valentine's Day, since the red makes it all lovely-dovey, right? I think my roommates were sick of it by then.

This spring I bought a plain vine wreath at Michaels. It cost all of $2.99, maybe $3.99 tops. I remember being shocked by how cheap it was. Armed with a ready-made bouquet of silk flowers {40% off}, raffia-covered floral wire, and wire snippers, I cut apart the bouquet and made this wreath:

I don't remember the exact number, but the total cost was less than $15. Compare that to store-bought wreaths, which are often still upwards of $30 when on sale, and that's not bad at all! Plus I like mine way better. The floral wire ended up being unnecessary, because our door opens into a covered walkway with a wall facing it--so there is literally never wind or weather of any kind threatening to undo my work.

Last week, I bought a bouquet of silk mums and three individual sunflowers {40% off again!}, took apart my summery wreath, and put this together while waiting for Mike to get home from work:

The sunflowers were kind of pricey, so the flowers alone this time ended up costing around $10. I didn't use floral wire at all, and so far nothing is drooping or falling out. I saved the other silk flowers so I can re-make that wreath come springtime. I am so excited about being able to make such pretty wreaths so cheaply! Can you tell?

But I can guarantee you this: The day after Thanksgiving, I'll be hanging up my beloved red berry wreath again.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

{ Games with Babies }

These pictures just crack me up. I'm going through the photos from our trip to Idaho last month, and I can't help but grin when I see these two. My beautiful cousin Julieanne is certainly a pro when it comes to balancing babies {here it's Charlotte, her five-month-old} and fun! They both look pretty intent on something in that first shot...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

{ Camping, Take Two: Deception Pass }

Can it really be a month since we packed up for a weekend at Deception Pass?! My stars, time flies when you're having fun! I consider this our first "real" camping trip as a married couple, because unlike Take One, it was more than 24 hours long. And it was so. much. fun.

That's Deception Pass and Whidbey Island in the background--our campsite is in those trees to Mike's left!

A glimpse of the bridge

Looking down at the island that connects the two segments of the bridge. See that huge mass of seaweed in the water?

We walked along the first part of the bridge, then climbed underneath for some spectacular views of the second bridge span. Can you imagine the bravery of the men who built it?

*Home Sweet Home*

You can't see it, but just through those trees behind Mike is a road, and on the other side of the road is Cranberry Lake. We were literally steps from Puget Sound and the lake!

Cranberry Lake, mirrorlike in the setting sun. We arrived on a Friday afternoon, and on Saturday Mike convinced me to go kayaking with him on the lake. I had never kayaked before, and though we both wore life jackets and there were lots of people around, it took me about 15 minutes to calm down to the point where I could actually enjoy myself. I'm really glad Mike convinced me to do it, because it was a lot of fun! Even the time we ran into a submerged tree stump...

Our campsite is just through those trees. You wouldn't think such an innocent-looking lake could stir up such terror in my heart, would you? I love looking at water...not being on top of it...or in danger of being submerged in it, fully clothed and without any sort of towelage.

Because the campsite is at the very northernmost tip of Whidbey Island, there is water {when I say water, I mean Puget Sound} on both sides. I loved having so much water all around us: the sound of waves lulling us to sleep and gently rousing us in the morning. We meandered up the west beach on Friday evening after dinner, moseying through gentle sunlight and happy families.

{ skipping stones }

After a hearty, manly breakfast o'er the campfire on Saturday, we sallied forth and spent several hours exploring the length and breadth of the east beach. Though the day began foggy and damp, the fog eventually burned off.

{ I sure married a handsome man! }

{ Yup, he's a keeper. }

{ Posing in the bottom of giant triftwood tree }

Do you not find the warning sign above hilarious? This is a manhole of some sort just outside a public restroom at the park. "Enter by permit only." Really? Really?

{ The view looking straight up from our firepit }

This is my new favorite camping spot. New, because I've never had a favorite camping spot before...wait, I've never even liked camping before, so this is quite epic. And, because there are hot showers on the premises { a three-minute shower costs one dollar, I think }, my curly hair did a little dance for joy. My hair and I could camp for more than two nights! Yippee!