Monday, May 24, 2010

The post that makes you gain a pound

So here goes. I've been on this kick for the last few months to BETTER myself, to kick the habit of drinking my all-time favorite DR. PEPPER (which I have been successful at for over 300 days now!!) and most recently I went on a NO SUGARY FATTY NASTY FOR MY BODY stuff challenge. Two weeks - that's what I was going for.

It was the longest two weeks of my life. It was terribly painful and traumatic. This is the post in which I heal from that horrid memory.

I made these today. Someone got me a birthday present and so I was trying it out. It worked goooood. (Too bad I didn't get out my REAL camera though - I just used my iPhone, bear with me)

These are Pioneer Woman's "Spreads". They are pretty easy cookie bars - and pretty easy on the eyes too. I only ate one.

At a time.

Then, since my wonderful birthday present was such a fun thing to use, I kept on going!
I couldn't stop at dessert...

Mom - don't look! Don't say I didn't warn you!!

How about some yummy yeasty delicious rolls!

Yes, they do taste as good as they look. Maybe even better. You'll have to come over and share some with me.

I didn't forget a picture of my birthday present. I knew you wanted to see what color it was :)
This is a teensy peek at my new Stand Mixer... to replace the hand-held mixer I've been using since 1994.

It's gorgeous! It makes me want to feed my family - and actually plan ahead. Nice thinking on my hubby's part, don't you think??

Monday, May 10, 2010

One great day deserves a great BIG blog post

To be classified as a good day - usually three out of six things must take place from the following list:

1. An activity or event that is not really planned, but anticipated
2. Some element of surprise - that isn't disastrous
3. Sunshine
4. People that we love
5. Good food and conversation
6. A wish comes true

To be classified as GREAT - then the number bumps up to five.
And excellent? All six.

The day before Mother's Day - in our family - is typically a day of tradition. We get up at the crack of dawn, find an outfit that is still clean, and probably not quite dressy enough, travel the hour and a half to my home town, attend the annual Mother's Day Tea/Brunch/Lunch/Whatever that the church has always put on since probably before I was born, and then we visit longer with my Mom & Dad, visit with my Grandma, and then we go home.

Usually that event fulfills three or four of my "good day" qualifications, but there's always something lacking. It's never GREAT.

I know someone will read this that knows me from way back and will wonder what kind of an ingrate I am. How dare I diss the Mother's Day Tea that practically helped me become the Mother I am today!? Well for goodness sakes, things like that have their place. They are lovely! But this year, I had more than just lovely to look for in making sure MY Mother felt honored, appreciated and enjoyed. I think we both knew that if we went to a Mother's Day Tea this year, that we'd cry more tears than we were prepared to cry, and we just didn't want to do that. Her Mom wouldn't be with us this year, and we wouldn't be able to go visit her either. How strange these first few holidays are after the death of a loved one. I'm realizing that I should be prepared to be continually caught off guard. Hmm... how to go about it?

So anyway, about my Mom, she never really verbalized that stuff to me, about how she'd probably get all emotional if she went to the annual Tea/Brunch/Lunch thing without her Mom and would rather not be there this time, but I'm pretty sure I can read her mind. (Gosh, sometimes it's scary in there) She did say she would rather do something ELSE with us this year - to which I almost TOO hastily agreed. (It's probably because I could sleep in. I'm shallow like that.)

We threw some general plans together. Nothing too detailed, but the general idea was in place and then we spent a couple days in anticipation. First, we ran into a problem. My in-laws had planned something else and we were invited. Then, the planned in-law event got canceled and we were all the sudden off the hook and back ON for our new-to-us-day-before-Mother's-Day outing. The best part about this outing? It included our whole family. Not JUST FEMALES. What's up with a bunch of women sitting around celebrating themselves anyway? I don't get that. No, wait... I do. Nevermind. *snicker*

So my parents showed up to our house around 11:00 as planned, 11:30 after a small delay, NOON because they stopped off at a place with nuts and chocolate along the way. We packed up our picnic lunch into the back of their new Chevy Uplander (yay Mom!!) and we all piled in. Our first stop was back at the haircutting place in the neighboring town where my beloved husband had left his coat behind after his haircut that morning. (I'm not the ONLY one who leaves things behind - I just prefer to leave my purse or wallet instead!)

Then, we went to a cemetery where none of our family members lived.

Yep. Umm hmm, You heard me right. We PLANNED to go to a cemetery.
After all these burials this past year, apparently cruising headstones had become somewhat of an interest to my Mother (and my kids) and they were off. I suppose if history and genealogy was something of interest, the rest of us would be doing that all the time too. It was fun actually. It was fun and sad all at the same time.

Here in this place, dozens upon dozens of people were memorialized by those who had loved them. It was touching. It was even more touching now that we'd all been there and done that too many times this last year.

The kids were fascinated by the names, we were fascinated by the dates. We tried to picture what it might have been like to be standing on this same hill in 1868. I think the one we pondered over the longest was a set of three headstones. All children. All siblings. All with the same date of death. We made up stories about what we thought might have happened. We decided, with our keen investigative skills, that it probably wasn't sickness - and for a moment our hearts broke for the family that was left behind after what must have been a most horrible tragedy.

We passed headstones of people that I knew in our community. Grave markers of the people whose names now mark streets and buildings in our little town dotted the hilltop and spilled down one side. Our interest peaked as we moved to the area of the more recent burials. Here, we came across a friend of my husband's who had been murdered when they were just fresh out of school. She was buried not more than three rows away from the young man who had taken her life. This one place, this quiet, beautiful place, held so many stories, and yet so many unanswered questions.

Then, we got hungry.

We traveled down the road a few miles to this adorable park that had been on my list of "places to return to" ever since we came upon it during a road construction detour a few years ago. I thought it would be cool to dine on the longest picnic table I've ever seen. It was constructed at one of our local sawmills out of a solid length of lumber that extends 85 feet from end to end.

That little dot at the end of the table is my daughter. I've told her not to sit on the table, but she just won't listen.This is her, pretending to be in trouble.

Which is pretty silly - considering she never gets in trouble :)

The views from this park were the kind of view I wouldn't mind having out my window or in a painting on my wall. Just beautiful. My Dad helped me compose a few...

I took one of my favorite parents (because my REAL parents aren't this much fun, right?)

After we ate lunch, played around awhile, and threw pinecones at each other... we proceeded to head towards Alsea Falls.

This is where the day moved from "good" into the "great" category. First, we parked at the campground entrance, which was about a mile from the falls, on a path that was on the opposite side of the river. No biggie, it was great weather (sunny!!) and I had on my new keds and was rearing to walk a mile. So we crossed the bridge and walked. And walked.... and walked some more. We found rushing water, but no waterfalls. About the time we came to another bridge that took us back to the original side of the river that we'd started on, we realized we had probably parked in the wrong spot. Thankfully it was only a mile back. Unfortunately, nature called and I had to hunt for a bathroom. I sent my kids further on down the path with my Mom, while my Dad hung back on a picnic table. I'm pretty sure my fast pace wore him out. (Riiiight!)

We searched around for a bathroom, but didn't have any luck. About the time the first raindrop hit my head I was already heading back down the hill towards the river to find the kids. The first raindrop was no big deal, but the next hundred that hit me a few seconds later were a surprise. (See... we just bumped up to the GREAT day category!) All the sudden, our perfectly sunny day - even according to the forecast - became a perfectly RAINY day. Not only rain, but hail. And lots of it. Bryan got the keys from my Dad and headed back for the car on down the road (instead of taking the trail on the opposite side of the river), Dad hid for cover under a tree after trying unsuccessfully to use a garbage can lid as some sort of shield, and then I slipped my way down the increasingly muddy trail toward the bottom of the falls to retrieve my excited children and my adventurous mother. By the time I got to my kids, they were squealing. I figured that like all hail storms, we'd be seeing sunshine in about 3 minutes. I wanted to get a good look at those waterfalls I worked so hard to see so I was really glad that I made my packhorse daughter haul my camera bag along.

Now at this point, you're not seeing any photos of a waterfall. The main reason is, the hail did NOT stop as anticipated. Matter of fact it began increasing in intensity and there was no way I could even get my camera out of the bag, let alone take any sort of photo that might resemble a waterfall. We all turned and dashed back up the hill (picture me dashing... try it... I dare ya). Ok, so I lumbered up the hill, while they dashed, and we all headed for cover. I tried hiding under a few trees, but fir trees with dead branches and bare limbs don't stop much hail. Wearing my sunglasses on top of my head provided some sort of protection from the bruising effects of the ice clumps falling from the sky - but they all got caught in my mess of hair.

Bryan showed up with the chariot and we couldn't get in fast enough. We were completely soaked. Nobody wore a raincoat, the boys just had on t-shirts with their jeans, we didn't have umbrellas or boots or anything even resembling protective outer gear. My light windbreaker soaked through to the front of my shirt and made it look like I was a mother to a hungry new infant - what terrible flashbacks that brought on! And what's worse is all the hail stuck in my hair started to melt. Fun stuff I tell ya! We dried off in the van with a roll of paper towels, and still the hail came down. Bryan drove us out of the hills and for a solid thirty minutes or so the hail came down like mad, the roads became covered in white, and my hair continued to melt.

Arriving home, we were surprised to find out that it was sunny as planned all day. We would have had to stay home to enjoy it. We finished off our evening with a yummy Taco dinner, our good friends the Anderson's joined us, and the conversation was delightful. After everyone went home - I sat down to practice my music for Sunday morning when one of my wishes came true. The weird part is that I noticed it in a text message. I'll save that for my next post - but let's just say I finally got to cross number three off my 101 in 1001 list and that, my friends, bumped my day right on up to EXCELLENT!

Happy Mother's Day Mom! Thanks for such a special day - one we won't soon forget.