Ocracoke


For the long weekend in September Tim and I decided on a whim to go down to Ocracoke, North Carolina.  We left at 2am to avoid traffic and by the time we arrived at the ferry 7 1/2 hours later, I was falling asleep and very glad I wasn’t driving.  We spent three days camping, fishing, riding our bikes all over it, eating seafood, laying on the beach, and spending a good deal of time at our favorite little coffee shop on the island.  It rained the night before we left and our tent and bedding was pretty soaked, but other than that the trip went off without a hitch.  I read “Cheaper by the Dozen” out-loud to pass the time on the ride home since Tim has never read it.  It was a wonderful get-away.Ocracoke Sept 09 (3)Ocracoke Sept 09 (75)Ocracoke Sept 09 (85)Ocracoke Sept 09 (82)Ocracoke Sept 09 (89)

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Some of My Lovely Baby Gifts


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Fox sporting his little hat

Thanks Auntie Cait

Thanks Auntie Cait

My sister Caitlin scored this most delectablesweater in Vegas before she knew she was having a boy.  I’m glad she didn’t know or I may not have gotten the sweater.  She said she would have kept it.

It is cashmere and nicer than any sweater I own.

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It was knit so I couldn't resist this little outfit.

My beautiful nursing cover.

My beautiful nursing cover.

My good friend gave me this nursing cover.  I don’t tend to swear by any baby gadgets but I love this one.  It has a little strap to stay on your neck so you aren’t left hoping that the blanket loosely draped about the baby won’t in one moment be thrown off you by one little swipe of their arm.  Great invention and yet so simple.

Fat Man


The Original Wall-E

Albert Einstein wrote a letter to Franklin D. Roosevelt encouraging him to speed up the experimental work in nuclear chain reactions to construct bombs- extremely powerful bombs, and it couldn’t be uranium; it was too heavy and in poor supply in the United States.  A reactor was necessary to produce plutonium necessary for the atomic bomb.  World War II was raging and Einstein had a solution the president needed to hear about.

Thus began the construction of the B Reactor, built in secret and in a hurry. A secret on a monumental scale, 51,000 employees worked on the project in the middle of nowhere north of Richland, Washington.

It was just amazing that a secret of that magnitude could remain a secret.  The logistics of keeping all those employees fed and housed in the middle of nowhere was astounding; eight mess halls the size of football fields served daily, 120 tons of potatoes daily, 9,600 pounds of onions, 8,000 pounds of coffee, 250,000 pounds of meat were used in one week, 7,200 pies for one meal.

With amazing speed, especially for government work, the world’s first large-scale nuclear reactor was completed on September 26, 1944 in just eleven months with the blueprints showing up for the project after it began operating!

The B Reactor caused America to emerge from World War II as a nuclear power and a world leader and changed the global balance of power for all time.  The reactor produced the plutonium necessary for Fat Man, the bomb dropped on Nagasaki and the Trinity bomb detonated in Alamogordo, New Mexico and arguably played a key role in ending World War II

Just one year ago the B Reactor was designated as a National Historic Landmark, the highest designation in the United States for historic properties.

The tours of the reactor are free but they are overwhelmingly popular filling within minutes of being available and you must be 18 or older to go on the tour.  The drive out and back to the site plus the tour takes about 4 hours.  This amazing bit of history is right here in my backyard!

Who's at the Helm?the reactor

Hebel of Hebel


“We want life to be trouble-free and entirely enjoyable, to be devoid of risk and suffering and death.  We cover reality with smiley faces and shallow clichés.  We talk about thinking positively or thinking good thoughts and everything will just be fine.  This is, at best, immaturity.  If we refuse to grow up to a better view, then it is more than immaturity; it is foolishness.”  (Table in the Mist- Jeffrey Meyers)

If we are really honest we admit that looking around, even only so far as a small church, the illness, misery, and suffering are great.  All are around is injustice and death.

So, how do we gain a better view of life without the Pollyannaish silliness but also without debilitating pessimism; where is the balance?

Maybe if we just work a bit harder, put in overtime on Sunday, things will work out for us, work out for everyone, things will turn around because of my effort and all will be well.  Reality will be bliss because of our efforts.

Our toil will not  to be the king pin for success rather it is a gracious gift from God, “There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil.”

Just as God so often does he  takes a thing and turns it on its head.  We think, we’ll give God a hand up, help Him make things right, and He turns it upside down and says, “Isn’t it great that you have work to do and I will do with it what I will.”

Just as it is foolish to slap a false smile on our face it is equally foolish to think that we are the key to God’s good name and our happiness.  And it is equally vain to think that we can leverage God with our hard work.  ”In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider surely God has appointed one as well as the other.”

In spite of life’s vaporous nature life can be enjoyed. Not with smiley faces and trite clichés, but because God rules.  The fact that life cannot be mastered, leveraged, or even fully comprehended by man should not cause us to lose heart. In fact, we need to rest in that, take a break from ruling the world from our tiny throne and trust in God.

Cheers!  Eat, Drink and enjoy the hard work you’ve done.

My Favorite Time of the Year


I hinted to Eric that my last bottle of parfume he got me was almost gone.  So, what do you know, I got a beautifully wrapped bottle of Versace for our anniverary.

I hinted to Eric that my last bottle of perfume he got me was almost gone. So, what do you know, I got a beautifully wrapped bottle of Versace for our anniversary.

For all the reasons stated before, I love fall.  Out here, anyway, the summers can be so warm that it seems the primary goal is to stay cool.  But when fall rolls around, I’m ready to pull out blazers, sweaters, wool socks, and boots.

My last bottle of parfume just ran out so I’m excited to have gotten this one.  I love to wear perfume and a beautiful bottle is an added bonus.  It looks great on the vanity.

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I love the detailing on this bag.

I’m very excited about this purchase.  I had been promising Eric that some day I was going to spend good money on a purse and I finally found what I was looking for.  I really wanted brown suede for the fall.  This one is large enough that it can do double duty as a diaper bag.

My vintage feather hat.

My vintage feather hat.

I couldn’t resist this- $5.00 at an antique store.  It goes perfectly with some of the vintage outfits from my granny.

These are a few of my favorite things…


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I have had this necklace for a couple years now but I never tire of it!  It is one of my best antique store finds, discovered at one of the little shops in Union Town, WA.

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I almost didn’t buy these boots when I was out on a recent shopping trip… I’m so glad I did now!  The low heel makes them very useful and the width of the ankle and calf area make them easy to tuck a slim pair of jeans into without looking bulky.

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Its bright colors really drew me to this scarf when I was perusing the streets of Paris this last May.  I saw these square, tassel-fringed scarves on most European necks when I was there so I figured it would be a good piece to pick up.

My wish list for this fall include some brightly colored scarves, like the one below, and cardigans to brighten up the rainy months.  Something else I have been bizarrely attracted to lately is jeans with low-set back pockets.  I don’t really understand this fascination, and maybe once I buy a pair I will be disenchanted but right now I really like the look.

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Tall to the Small for Fall


IMG_5062It's all in the details

This is just terrifically classic, flattering A-line skirt and cable knit sweater with a bangly necklace.

I am seeing a lot of orange, plum and chartreuse out there for fall and I am thrilled.  They are my favorite colors.  Vera Wang is a favorite of mine though I tried this one on it ended up looking better on the hanger than on me, it totally billowed at the butt!

silky chartreusepatent leather

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The shirts cinched at the smallest part of your body and then hanging loosely below cover a multitude of sin- errrr growth around the middle, for older women this is especially helpful.  To the dusty blues these plum accents are perfect.  The Peter Pan collared coat is a maternity rain coat at Target.

loving that deep purplesuedeI like big buckles

Leggings for fall

Leggings under fall dresses allow girls with really long legs to go ahead and wear the shorter dress without looking too, well, short.  Coupled with a pair of cute flats finishes the casual dressy look.

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corduroy- very cute!

I love the corduroy with floral accent.  It looks like Anthropolgie vintage look, but this is the real thing.  This little girl’s mom said, “I hope it won’t ruin things to tell you I got them at the Goodwill.”  Even better!  Great finds for cheap are the way to go!  Cute little plum sneakers would go great with these vintage cords.  I am liking her grey flannel shoes too!

IMG_5096IMG_5108for the occasional shower

What I’m Loving for the Fall


I know it’s Fall when I start pulling the sweaters down from above my closet!  It’s not cold enough to warrant a coat but still, you need something a little cozy.  I love this shawl-collar type of sweater (a gift to me when Tim and I were dating) and the fact that it’s made of cashmere puts it a notch above my ordinary knits.  I’d love to get some more of this kind in a variety of colors to help dress up a bland outfit.Fall Fashion 094Color:  Away go the bright pinks and reds of summer and out come the mature, deep hues of fall and winter.  I love this shade of purple/brown– at a glance it almost looks black, but it doesn’t go quite that far.  Save the goth look for Halloween, wear this throughout the fall.Fall Fashion 099I include these simply because they are my favorite colors of the year– bright celedon green and a strong orange/red with a hint of coral.Fall Fashion 090Jewels:  Moving away from the pearls and pastels of summer but not quite into the glitter of winter, it’s time to pull out the gold and color!  I love this ring that Cait and Aileen gave me for my birthday.  The coral necklace is a statement on it’s own.Fall Fashion 061Outerwear:  One of my all-time favorites– the timeless bomber jacket.  I found this one in an antique shop years ago and have never gotten tired of it.  For some reason it seems to have outlasted the trends of most leather coats.Fall Fashion 072Accessories:  A good belt can dress up even a tee shirt and jeans.Fall Fashion 089Boots!  A cool-weather must have!  This awesome pair actually belongs to my mother-in-law but I asked Mere to borrow them for the photo shoot.  I like the casual, flat heeled boot with a tucked in pair of pants best.  I’ve been on a kick lately of wearing them with stretchy pants instead of jeans for a riding-boot look that’s more comfortable than bulky jeans.Fall Fashion 051Not to be forgotten, the indispensable bag.  With my mother-in-law’s help, I finally got a grown-up purse for my birthday that I hope I’ll have for a long time.  I like to think it’s old-Hollywood-ish.Fall Fashion 100 (2)

One thing I’d like to pull together this year is the ever-popular layering and accessorizing effect.  Usually I just satisfy myself with one accessory and un-creative layers.  The other just requires so much thought and work!  And often it just looks contrived.  I think sometimes JCrew (where this photo is from) over-does it, but occaisionally they have some inspiring ideas.  It’s something I’d like to work on anyway…layering

Fall Chic


It’s fall when ….I polish my beat up cowboy boots and buy new socks. 

 

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Fall makeup: I stumbled on my new make up routine mostly because it takes 10 minutes to do. And because it’s a fresh change after wearing all that bronzer over the summer.

Apply foundation and leave your face clean with just a hint of blush on the apple of your cheeks. Add minimal or no eye shadow, but apply plenty of mascara. Then use a punchy red lipstick before you walk out the door. Make sure to apply a moiturizer first so you get a soft  look, instead of too much color. I was excited to discover a $1 lipstick at drugstores: Wet n’ Wild 519A. Cheap enough to try a few shades!

 

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I’m keeping my eyes peeled for: a cozy but elegant,  long sweater that will cover my growing belly….something like this. It’s from Isabella Oliver, a line of beautiful maternity clothing that makes me drool. Isabella Oliver Maternity

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Accessories: This costume jewelry is just the right colors for going with fall’s warm browns, greens, reds, and golds. I don’t wear it in the summer so it feels new again every autumn. I got this at a garage sale for 2 bucks but it still makes me feel dressy when I add it to a t-shirt and jeans.

I got this at a garage sale for 2 bucks but it still makes me feel dressy when I add it to a t-shirt and jeans.

Fall Fashion


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Fall is probably the most fashionable time of the year  and makes us all crave back-to-school shopping–  even if we’ve long outgrown it. Layers of leather, tweeds and scarves, lovely tall boots and plenty of warm color makes us swoon.

So pull out your off-season boxes, and make a list of things to add to your wardrobe. That’s what we’re doing this week….

 

 

What the Parents Don’t Know- Yet.


We got back from visiting Meghan and Fox in the hospital with everyone wanting baby holding time.  I badgered Canon to give up Fox and the first time he said, “Not quite yet.”  The next time, “I’m not quite done.”  So I can see already that with three older siblings, two local uncles, one local aunt, and a grandpa, I am going to have one heck of a time getting that little guy.

But, that’s not what Meghan and Eric don’t know.

After seeing Meghan, we took the kids to buy four boxes of chocolate covered doughnuts and then met Eric at their house.  Half way into the first doughnut, Athan realized the chocolate was melting all over his hands and decided the sticky mess was just not worth it and put the doughnut on the counter.

Meanwhile Andrew, Eric, Jarrett and I sat out on the porch having beer and chips (they say the salt and vinegar ones grow on you, but I’m not there yet).  Eric was carded at the store and because Jarrett was with him they wanted to see his driver’s license too which he didn’t have.  So the gal said she was not going to sell them beer.  After a little tussle and persuasion with the manager they bought the beer and we enjoyed it.

But, that’s not what Meghan and Eric don’t know.

When we got home we skipped dinner being full on chocolate doughnuts, beer and salt and vinegar chips.

We got the kids ready for bed and I read them the revised version of the Three Little Pigs, prayed with them, tucked them in, turned off the lights and…

Half way down the hall I heard a cry from Canon that I knew to be a real cry.  The kind where you first hear the whimper of a cry and then nothing and then out comes the real cry.  It’s that momentary silence that lets you know this is the real thing.  I turned back, turned on the light asked what happened and there lay Athan looking a little bit sheepish.

It turns out Canon said some annoying thing and Athan had just had it.  He hauled off and punched Canon in the eye.

This morning Canon had a black eye and Meghan and Eric don’t know it yet.

They will soon, we are taking them back this afternoon.

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A 7 pound 4 ounce Fox, looking a lot, to me, like Athan, born September 17 very soon after Meghan and Eric walked through the hospital doors!

FoxEric pleaded with Meghan to please let’s head to the hospital and reluctantly she finally agreed.  She just really wasn’t sure if this was the real thing and was busy dusting and cleaning. AND did I mention she managed to teach a full day of school too!   An hour after walking through the hospital doors, Fox was born!  The doctor said he had never in his life seen a woman so in control through the entire delivery; and did I mention totally, totally drug free!  I am glad the doctor was able to make it.

parents always look about 15 years old after a baby is born.

Eric zipped over to our house, dropped the kids off and then went back to take Meghan to the hospital or at least attempt to talk her into going.  When we got the call that Fox had arrived, we gulped down dinner and went to the hospital.

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Tell Athan he's a big brother now and he'll tell you he already is big.Old hand, Canon, at big brotherhood statusAnwyn contemplates her new set of rules now that she has three to keep in line

Fall Apple Picking


The week before last we had some Fall-ish weather for the first time, chilly with clear skies and that bright, slanting sunlight that feels worlds away from the sticky, hazy sun of summer.  For some reason Fall makes me more sentimental than most seasons, as though the memories made during that time of year are etched more deeply– a walk in Hyde Park, hiking to some castle in Germany, the buzz of students returning to classes, Halloween with doughnuts and cider.  I start itching to travel somewhere with cozy pastry shops and pubs, reminisce about college; and I am filled with a longing to drive to an orchard, fill a truck-bed with apples and take them home to make apple butter, press cider, and can pie filling.

I convinced Chesed, who had never canned anything before,  that the latter would be a good idea.  To my surprise, she found a u-pick orchard about an hour away free of the face-painting, petting zoos, hayrides, and other gimmicks they parade for city-folks-visiting-the-country around here.  It was perfect!  There were a couple of goats (I love goats, almost as much as monkeys), orchards, and a produce barn.  After petting the goats and watching them play king of the mountain on their walkway elevated about 20 feet above us (if you click on the picture you can see it better), we grabbed a wheelbarrow and got to work.  The Honey Crisps were by far the best apples we picked, but we threw in some other varieties to make it interesting.  Earlier I had read a sign that said you could get 20 cents off per pound if you picked over 20 lbs of apples, so we wanted to at least reach that mark.  When we went to check out, we found we in fact had EIGHTY pounds of apples.  On the way home we stopped at a little French bakery for a sandwich and a wonderful pastry– the perfect ending to our outing.

The following Thursday afternoon we filled my kitchen with apples and started canning pie filling.  Washing, peeling, slicing the apples in a processor, packing them into clean jars, pouring hot apple pie filling over them, wiping the rims, applying the boiled lids, and then putting them into a boiling water bath for 20 minutes.  Pouring the liquid pie filling over the sliced apples was a new method for me so hopefully the recipeturns out to be a good one (I added more of the nutmeg, cinnamon, and also some allspice).  In the midst of it, a girlfriend, Emily, stopped by with some fresh bread from the bakery she works for (which quickly became my lunch and dinner) and helped us with the peeling and slicing.  The following morning we got right to work on the apple butter and completed everything by the afternoon.  We used all but two apples, every jar sealed, and we only had two casualties– a couple of quart jars of apple pie filling that entered their bath too cold and broke inside the canner.

Because it’s unlikely that I will make it to either England or Germany in the next few weeks, I have just one request, and that is, that while I’m back home we make cider and home-made doughnuts in anticipation of Halloween!

Early morning catch


Drinking coffee in bed while Freyja enjoyed her bottle next to me, I roamed onto craigslist at 8 a.m.

Every once in a while I check the free listings to see if there is something in my neighborhood that looks worthwhile. But if you see something, it’s usually gone already. People move fast when it comes to free things.

Something caught my eye. It was old and dirty and covered in bits of white plaster. And it was sitting on the side of the road not a mile from my apartment. That is, if no one had already taken it. The picture had only been posted half and hour ago so I threw on pants, wrapped Freyja in a blanket and jumped in the car to speed madly toward my prize.

Low and behold it was waiting for me.

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Knight in Shining Armour


Isaac teaching Taite her AlgebraIsaacHappy Matthias

Tooling around our kitchen about three days into our school year, Isaac suddenly asked, “Would you like me to teach Taite and Matt math.”  After a nanosecond consideration, “Umm, YES!”

So, Isaac has been coming over every morning at 7:30 AM and teaching Taite and Matthias their math lessons and then furthermore being available for all their questions as they work through the lesson.

AND THEN, following a week of teaching Isaac said that he would be able to teach Taite and Matt even when he started back to Community College!  He doesn’t leave for his first class until 9 AM.

So, while this knight is busy teaching Algebra to Taite and Matthias, I am busy doing laundry, figuring out my plan for dinner and any other thing that needs done.

Hurrah for Isaac!

I’m having a… what??


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Maybe subconsciously, I was starting to think with the logic of my niece Bella.

When I asked her if she thought my baby was a boy or a girl she said, “It’s a girl.” ” “How do you know?” I asked. “Because, you’re a girl, you can’t have a boy!”

But there HE was in all his black and white, grainy, ultrasound glory yesterday. I was in shock.

I’m trying to imagine Freyja with a brother. When I asked her if she wanted  a boy or girl she just pointed to a piece of hamburger on her highchair tray. Well, hamburger is about all he’ll be to her for a while I’m sure, but then one day they’ll realize they are best friends.

Zac is happy we’ll be evening the odds and he’ll have a boxing partner.

I’m just plain happy.

Stocking up


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I am sad to say I photographed the whole process of making chicken in my own little kitchen, but somewhere in the mahem of the last couple months the photos got lost in cyberspace. So this is all I can offer, some stranger's photo off flikr.

Making home made chicken stock is one of those things that sounds absolutely not worth the trouble, but is.

It is easy, done in as little as two hours, super inexpesive compared to buying the canned kind, and improves the tastesof any sauce, soup, or dish you cook.

I was inspired to try it by The Supper of the Lamb and used my leftover Costco rotisserie chicken carcass to make my first pot. It turned out great, and there was nothing as satisfyingas stacking the happy yellow jars labeled “home-made chicken stock” in my freezer. It’s a perfect project for a cool morning when you are around the house doing work anyway, because you can throw it all together and walk away feeling twice as productive while it cooks and does all the work.

This might not be the way Julia Child would do it, but I cobbled this method together because it is easy, which means I will actually do it.

1) Take roasted chicken carcass, cleaned of meat, and set in large pot.

2) surround by any of these ingredients you have on hand:  (all roughly chopped)  onion, celery, carrot

3) cover with water

3) season with: salt, pepper, saffron (makes the broth a beautiful color and makes me feel gourmet), fresh parsley (finely chopped if you like the green bits in your broth like I do) maybe some oregano or whatever sounds good from your spice shelf.

4) turn heat on high and simmer, covered,  for up to 4 hours (I’ve done it for as little as an hour and a half with good results)

5) once all the bones are falling apart and the veggies are mush, strain, discard the solids, and cool the broth.

6) transfer into jars, tupperware, or plastic ziploc bags, in 1 to2 cup measurements so it will be the right amount for your recipes. Freeze for up to several months.

Happy Birthday Mom!!!


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Living with Aunt Beanie


Bridal Bliss


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On the way to the ceremony

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The bridal bus, 8 bridesmaids, 2 flower girls, 1 ring bearer and 1 bride made for an excited, happy, loud ride to the ceremony. On the way, Anna was thirsty so we pulled over and made a stop for her favorite peach smoothie.

 

10 days of pre-wedding preperation and lots of celebration left me a little sad it’s all over but happy that everything went off without a hitch and the love- dovey couple is off honeymooning in Mexico.

I’d been looking forward to my sister-in-law’s wedding all summer and it really was a week to remember. A bridesmaids dinner at an old fashioned Swiss Restaurant on the lake, two bridal showers, lots of work parties, and the general happy frenzy of getting everything in order made the time fly by.

 My mother-in-law,Becky, worked her magic as she did at my wedding, with her trusty sidekick Cindy Barley. What a team! I don’t know when either of them found time to sleep all week! 

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Anna and Becky crafted these intricate inviations with the wedding's theme: Asian inspired with rich reds, golds, and purple.

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Wonderful engagement photograph by Anna's new brother-in-law Jack Knecht.

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I love this quote they chose to go into the invitation.

Prep party for Anna's shower. Everyone helped, even my little brother Jarrett lended his culinary skills.

Prep party for Anna's shower. Everyone helped, even my little brother Jarrett lended his culinary skills.

We assembled cob salad wraps for each guest and wrapped them in parchment paper, gold paper to match the wedding inviations and a bit of raffia.

We assembled cob salad wraps for each guest and wrapped them in parchment paper, gold paper to match the wedding inviations and a bit of raffia.

Then we placed the lunches in individual baskets for the guests to take home. Cindy Barley made her incredible sweet sherry dip for the fruit skewers.

Then we placed the lunches in individual baskets for the guests to take home. Cindy Barley made her incredible sweet sherry dip for the fruit skewers.

The weather was perfect for a sunny lunch on the deck at the Rim Rock Inn.

The weather was perfect for a sunny lunch on the deck at the Rim Rock Inn.

A shower of gifts for the bride!

A shower of gifts for the bride!