Monday, August 26, 2013

Monday Memory: Poster children for the late 80's

This picture is taken circa 1988. I'm probably 8 years old, Jen's 5, and Kasey's 2. Surely, the fact that is was the 80's allows much forgiveness and understanding here, right?

I can't remember sitting for this historical portrait, but I can imagine. Surely the photographer must have loved us.
Oh yes, lovely family. Ma'am I'm sorry but the sheer size of your hair is blocking my cell phone reception. Oh wait, it's 1988, I won't have a cell phone until 1995. Nevermind. But I am going to have to ask you not to spray the Aquanet directly on the camera lens. Let's see, let's see. Little girl, how about you cock your head so far over that your vertical bow is actually horizontal. Yes, yes, keep going, it's fine if it hurts your neck, just a little more. Perfect! Now don't move. Little boy in the baby-blue leisure suit, wait, I can't believe they still make toddler-sized leisure suits, you are one classy baby, anyway no matter what, DO NOT open your eyes. No really, it will make for a great shot and people will always ask if this really was the best picture you could get, because come on, the baby's eyes aren't even open. Trust me, it will be hilarious. And blonde girl with the oversized glasses, yeah, could you just stay out of the frame while I photograph this lovely family? Oh wait, you are part of this family? Sorry, sorry. Okay then, just sit here and look awkward and uncomfortable. No smiling, only a half-scowl from you young lady. Alright everyone, let's make this perfect. I only take three pictures and force you to pick the one that is least horrible because photoshop doesn't exist yet and I've never even heard of digital photography. One, two, three, SNAP!
 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Monday Memory: Cousins and Pigs

Growing up, my siblings and I showed various livestock animals at local shows and fairs for 4-H and FFA projects. We started out with pigs and had some we were preparing one summer when our Utah cousins came out for a visit. My young cousin, Joel, was probably seven years old at the time, and absolutely adored my brother, Kasey. Although Joel was initially terrified of our 200+ pound pigs, he got over his fears and kept up with his older cousin.
 
This might be my all-time favorite picture. Kasey (red hat) and Joel (blue hat) happily riding around the pen on the back of Mollie, our tamest pig ever. I love this picture because the two boys are adorable and so happy. I love it because it shows how close these boys were. And I love that it absolutely epitomizes what country kids do for fun. Not a lot of video game playing happened during that cousin visit, but we sure made up for it with pig rides!

 
These two are grown up now with college degrees and real jobs. They are both married to ladies way out of their league, and both would whole-heartedly agree with that statement. But no matter how big they get, or how mature they try to act, I think they'd both jump on the chance to ride a pig again.
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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Lana is pretty excited to tell you......

video
Yup, I'm already dreaming about little girls in matching pajamas and the bathroom being taken over by hairbows! Oh how I love little girls!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Cupcakes!

For months my sister Jen has been posting pictures of the most amazing looking cupcakes. She'd make them for any random holiday and they looked amazing. Teacher Appreciation Week? Every teacher gets a fancy-schmancy swirly-topped chocolate filled cupcake. Church potluck? Here are some fresh-from-the-oven cinnamon roll cupcakes. Grandpa is turning 80? Oh I'll just bring 100 cupcakes in my favorite five flavors. Seriously, if it weren't for the delicious confections, the family might have staged an intervention.

But then MY birthday came around. Jen did not make me gourmet cupcakes, but instead gave me a copy of her beloved go-to cupcake recipe book, complete with her personal opinions and tips. (Why she couldn't have made me cupcakes along with giving me the book is still a mystery. I like to eat decadent confections too sweet sister.) This book, (and the companion blog) Your Cup of Cake, had all the cupcakes I'd seen in Jen's facebook posts as well as dozens of others she hadn't made yet. The hubs and I drooled over each page and wondered what to make first. Dan shook us out of our indecision and chose these, cookies and cream filled cupcakes.


The recipe wasn't difficult at all. This particular one had several steps but none required an advanced culinary degree or chef's training, so we were good to go. This recipe (and it appears others in the book are this way too) was actually super easy to get my little "helper" involved. Lana Jean was so excited to make these fancy cupcakes the dear girl could hardly keep her skin on. Including her in the process was mandatory (seriously, she was begging to make cupcakes at 7 am, on a Saturday). She did a great job whisking ingredients, putting papers in the cupcake pan, separating (and eating) the cookies, and later decorating the finished product with drizzles (and drizzles and drizzles) of white melting chocolate.

They turned out so gooooood! It was well worth the early wake-up call to get these beauties made. I'd definitely make these again. The cake part itself is so moist and melty with a rich chocolate flavor. The filling is cookies and cream perfection without being too sugar-sweet or grainy, and the chocolate ganache topping is simply divine.

Obviously Lana and I enjoyed them, as did the harvest crew we surprised with a mid-day treat. Now, what cupcake recipe should we tackle next?


Monday, August 12, 2013

Monday Memory: The Silly Hat

I love this ridiculous blue hat.
I usually think Lana looks pretty dang adorable in about anything, but this hat just gets me. Lana received it as a Christmas present from my mom when she was eighteen months old. Lana didn't have much (if any) hair at that time and we were always covering her bald head to keep it warm in the winter. Little Lana had worn hats since birth and was used to such treatment. I think my mom seriously wondered if Lana was EVER going to get hair and maybe this fluffy, bold, and hairy hat would get things progressing.

Well, I can't say the blue hat got Lana's hair growing, but I can say it was easily Lana's favorite bald-head cover-er. In fact, it became more than just a hat - it became her security blanket. Some kids have a well-loved stuffed animal or baby blanket that calms and soothes, Lana had the Silly Hat. On road trips when she fought taking a nap, I'd have her hold the hat to get calmed down and fall asleep. When we visited new daycare facilities, she'd keep it on while playing with the new kids in the new space. The picture above was taken at the town Easter Egg Hunt. It was no longer stocking cap weather, but Lana just wanted to wear it because it was comforting and safe in a foreign environment. She never minded that her hat got her several long looks and finger points; she only knew that the hat made her feel good and she was going to keep it on. Dan and I also never minded what others thought. If  the Silly Hat made a tough thing easier, by all means we let her wear the Silly Hat.

Lana's grown and matured a lot since the Silly Hat days. We still have it and will pull it out again this winter, but it will serve the exclusive purpose of head-warmer. Lana has all the confidence she needs to face new situations without it now, and I'm grateful to that ridiculous blue hat for helping her through some rough months. I know developmentally toddlers go through a lot at 18-24 months and that time can be pretty tricky. Parents of teenagers, tell me - should I save the Silly Hat for the middle school years too? I hear those years are even trickier.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Monday Memory: Dress Shopping

 It was right at about this time six years ago that my mom and I made the trek north to the Big City of Spokane for a day of wedding dress shopping. Many newly-engaged gals spend weeks or months shopping for their perfect dress, going from town to town and store to store. But that wasn't going to work for me. Dan proposed in the middle of July and we set a wedding date for October 20th, leaving three short months for wedding planning - including finding the all-important Dress. There just wasn't the time for hemming-and-hawing and ordering and altering the latest, trendiest style (typically a 6-12 week process). Nope, I was planning on doing all of that in a single day. It was a good thing I had my mom there to help me and offer her critiques and encouragement the whole time (and snap about a million pictures).
We started at the Spokane bridal salon where my sister had found her perfect dress years earlier. I specifically remembered the shop having a large selection of off-the-rack dresses and that's specifically what I needed. We had a set budget in mind and told the attendant not to bring me any dress that was  more expensive than the amount decided on. I tried on about 15 dresses in two hours. Some were stunningly gorgeous, but not quite "me" enough. Some were utterly horrific and unsuitable for anyone, and others were just flat-out laughable. I think at one point I tried on three hilarious dresses in a row and my mom and I were laughing so hard the attendant had to give us a few minutes to get calmed down before we could get back to work.





But there was one - the second dress I tried on - that we kept going back to. It accentuated some of my positives and minimized some of my negatives. I loved the delicate bead work on the the bodice and the unadorned skirt. I loved how its price tag came in under budget. But mostly I loved how it just felt easy and right on me. We finally decided to quit comparing all the other dresses to this one, and just get the dress already.

That was a good choice.

I've never felt more beautiful in my whole life than I did on our wedding day, and my perfect dress was a big reason why.

When Lana's older (a lot, lot older) and engaged to the only man on the planet good enough for her (we've yet to determine if he exists), I so hope she chooses me to accompany her on a great dress-shopping adventure. It's a very special mother-daughter memory for me, and I'd love the opportunity to live it with her too.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Whew! Where did July go?

July was so full of awesome summer activities we couldn't have added another fun-filled weekend had we tried. We started by heading to Lynden for fabulous Fourth of July festivities with friends and family. (Click on collage to enlarge)
 
(Lots of kids, sparklers, fire, playing, etc... This weekend had it all.)

The next weekend I sneaked away with friends (and about 6000 other folks) for the Run or Dye color run in Kennewick. It was a hot, dusty race, but by far the most colorful one I've ever been a part of.
 

And then the next weekend we drove to my parents' place in Oregon to see them as well and my sister and her four kiddos. Lana absolutely adores her cousins and we had a jam-packed day of swimming, horseback-riding, and watching the baby smash her 1st birthday cake. It's a shame they live so far away - I think Lana could happily play with these kids everyday.
 

Of course we couldn't leave out the last weekend in July, could we? So on Saturday Lana and I went to a friend's outdoor art party where the kids happily painted and crafted outside and made huge messes and played to their heart's content. Playing and painting? Lana was in her element.
 

Then on Sunday we headed to Spokane to meet up with my brother and his wife who were making a quick visit from Alaska. Lana adores her Uncle Kasey and Aunt Christina and she wore us all out playing and running around Riverfront Park all afternoon.
 
Whew. I guess that's where July went. I think August will slow down a bit, although we certainly have enough activities already planned for this month to keep us more than busy.