Photo Shoot


We decided to do a preliminary photo shoot with the happy couple because photos the day of the wedding are usually a hectic affair, and Joseph’s breath-taking scenery was too good a back-drop to pass up.  So the day before the wedding, Caitlin and I helped Aileen, wedding dress and all, into the car and we drove out to the lake where she and Jason had their photos on the dock.  We made Jason close his eyes and then captured the moment when he saw Aileen for the first time in her gown.

We then headed for the barn I’d been fantasizing  about taking pictures with from the moment I first layed eyes on it.

Thumbing for a ride

Creating a stir with the locals

… and there were so many other pictures I’d love to post if I had infinite time.  There were a lot of incredible shots– this couple is just too photogenic!  But this will have to do for now.

Up next: the big day!

The day before


Friday morning all the family and friends were arriving in town, but the work was still in full swing, for this hand made wedding. At my house, the bride whipped up cream cheese frosting for her almond wedding cake. The bridesmaids frosted hundreds of chocolate, maple nut, and strawberry cupcakes and Meghan worked her floral magic in the basement.  Excitment grew as time ticked by.

A week of elbow grease


We thought we would do some of Aileen and Jason’s wedding photos in instalments.

So here is the week of set-up at Mount Joseph Ranch, where we held the reception. The weather was beautiful and the scenery was fantastic. Everyone pitched in with hanging lights, cleaning, making blackboards, setting up tables and chairs, sweeping the barn floor, and keeping an eye on the many little babies in tow. Aileen was one of the hardest working brides I’ve seen, and everyone did their part.

To be continued. . .next instalment: the day before the big day!

Sweet Victory


I had a terrible fear of canning.
All the equipment, messes, dishes, work, and possible waste if you did something wrong, made the 99 cent cans of beans at Winco look pretty darn good enough for me.
But something about canning always charmed me. And this fall I decided to finally just give it a whirl and decide for myself whether canning is joy or torture. I’ve decided I love it. And I think the key, if you are a can-a-phobe like I was, is to do small batches and start with foods you’ll love to eat.
This adventure in peach canning was finished by the time my kids woke up from their couple hour nap. Do yourself a favor and get this book. It’s like having a kindly old grandmother giving you directions. It takes the guesswork out of the whole thing. Also, for apple canning insipiration, see Erin’s expert endeavours here.

Peaches, washed and ready to have the skins removed by blanching.

Because a cowboy hat is more fashionable than a hair net.

Into the boiling water they go for 30 minutes.

Victorious. And I didn't even burn myself.

My husband and I did the dilly beans pictured here, but the peaches were my first solo act.

I may or may not walk into my pantry to gaze at the fruits of my learning and labor. Every few minutes. And make my husband do the same. I’m not admitting anything.

I’m on to jam next. Or a pear/apple butter type of thing.  What would you recommend for a newby? Something in season, that guarantees success. . . . . any suggestions? Favorites? Helpful hints?

Mod Kitsche


 

Found: An old cuckoo clock at a garage sale

Inspiration: The colors in my door mat and Martha Stewart tea kettle

End Result: Conversation piece in my kitchen entry

No More Cats


The beautiful wedding is now a memory, all the Japanese lanterns are flattened, the white lights back in a tangle, the wine glasses washed, linens laundered and  Aileen  and Jason are sunning themselves in Maui.

So, what do you suppose the thoughts of some turn to? CATS!

Andrew and I were following in our car while Taite, riding a bike from the home we stayed in back to Caitlin’s, spots  a black cat dart across the road and Taite jumps off her bike and run in hot pursuit. Driving up next to Taite, Andrew asked, “Can you catch it?”  “No,” Taite pants, “It ran into the bushes, but it was so cute, all black with green eyes.”  I mentioned that you can’t just be picking up people’s cats and taking them home with us.  Andrew and Taite thought that since we were from out of town they’d never catch us if we just drove off with it.

Then again later another black cat darts into some grass along the road.

Finally with the cars loaded we set off for home.  Sailing down the highway, Andrew suddenly careened into a driveway and screeched to a halt in front of a sign that read, “Exotic Bengal Cats.”  “We are not getting a cat!” I screamed, I mean, said gently.  “Taite,” Andrew consoles, “We can’t get one of these they are too expensive.”  ”What! we aren’t getting a cat even if it’s free!” says me.

Three and a half hours later, home and with the cars mostly unpacked, I am now sitting in the living room with my glass of wine and happily playing solitaire when my mother comes in and wonders aloud, “Is it possible one of the cats went to the bathroom in my suitcase, it’s all wet in the bottom?”  Up I get from my glass of wine and my game of solitaire and I already know I will be figuring out a way to clean out her peed in suitcase.  It’s drying in the shower now.

Why not two or three more cats?

Tapenade


I just made fresh tapenade for the wedding:

38 garlic cloves

12 1/2 Cups pitted kalamata olives

4 cans black olives

1 1/2 Cups capers

1 Cup fresh Italian parsley (courtesy of Taite’s herb garden)

1 Cup curled parsley (courtesy of Taite’s herb garden)

1 1/2 Cups lemon juice

1 1/2  Cups olive oil

salt & pepper

Blend in food processor and quit before it turns pasty.

OK, this makes a truck load but wow! it is good on bread!

Ready to Go!


Littlest brother

Bigger little brother

Father of the bride

She was clearly told but did not listen


I love Andrew’s toast to Zac and Cait.  It was such a short time ago that Andrew was toasting them and now here we are again.  He clearly told Aileen to stay in her laboratory but she didn’t listen.
*
*
A Toast to Zac and Cait
So here’s a toast to Zac and Cait;
There are those who would tell you that this was fate.
But we take our stand in the kind providence of God;
And better than fate, He places one hand in another, he decrees
That the two will be one, and this is the date.
So here’s a toast to Cait and Zac;
We love her dearly Zac, but there’s no turning back.
Does any young man really know what he has done;
When he searches for that heart that he would make his own?
You have that heart now, Zac. Guard it, love her, and you’ll have ten-fold back.
So here’s a toast to Zac and Cait;
Our third daughter married so soon, and yet
We assumed that with each wedding the exchanges would become routine.
But as our home empties of daughters, it’s not as it seemed., so stay safely in your laboratory,
Aileen!
And God help the young man who comes looking for Taite!

Babies, babies everywhere!


Unfortunately, mine is justified...

I was totally bowled over.  Sitting with Matthias doing a jigsaw puzzle he got for his birthday and waiting to get Erin at the airport at 11 PM, we suddenly heard the back door open and around the corner comes this family of four singing, “Happy Birthday,” to me!  Caitlin and Zac had just been to a wedding and I knew they couldn’t be here, but there they stood!  I cried.

Monday evening we had a huge birthday dinner: Meghan, Eric, Anwyn, Canon, Athan, Fox, Erin, Valiant, Caitlin, Zac, Freyja, Jude, Aileen, Taite, Matthias, Andrew and me!  Prime rib for dinner and Aileen, since she’s hardly doing a thing these days, made me a Boston Cream Pie- triple layer- from scratch! (Jarrett was off hunting elk, and Tim is off buying and selling real estate)

This week is wedding week!!!!!

Omnipotence at Home, Impotence Abroad


Andrew brought home this article (How Obama Thinks by Dinesh D’Souza) last night and said I should read it, it would explain President Obama, why he’s not  a socialist he’s just anti-American.  It just made so much sense which was a real shame.  Love the guy or not, it is worth reading.

Light Reading After a Busy Day


Anyone who is familiar with Alexander McCall Smith will be glad to know he has another book coming out in October.

I first came across this author through his No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series.  It is very light, easy reading and you know, sometimes that’s all you want to read. That’s where I’m at these days.  And I have to put a plug in for the audio version.  We listened to Lisette Lecat read these books to us on a long trip and she is excellent, maybe even better than reading it yourself.  Try your library for an audio version and be delighted.

He has also done another strangely titled series, Portuguese Irregular Verbs series, one in the series titled, The Finer Points of a Sausage Dog (which I’ve reviewed here.) I bought that one for my mother-in-law one Christmas because she is a dog lover and I figured dog lovers always want to know the finer points of a dog even if it is only a dachshund.

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency 5-Book Boxed SetThe Finer Points of Sausage Dogs

McCall Smith’s newest book is The Charming Quirks of Others which I’ve reviewed here. It is yet another series by this prolific author, The Isabel Dalhousie series.

The Charming Quirks of Others: An Isabel Dalhousie Novel

Countdown is On!


Aileen has single handedly made all the desserts for her wedding including the wedding cake!

It has taken five dozen- 60!! egg whites.  No yolks, just egg whites.  We have lately been having French toast, just yolks; scrambled eggs, just yolks; fresh rolls painted with just yolks on the top.

The wedding cake is amazing, an angel food cake taste but a pound cake texture perfect for decorating.  Four different types of cupcakes all incredible  and all from scratch!

Meanwhile, I had decided to whip up a couple flower girl dresses.  We bought dupioni silk in a rich chocolate.  It was sheer delight to cut that wonderful fabric.  We have one more dress to go.  Taite is tall and t-h-i-i-i-n   making it impossible to find a dress suitable for her.  The little girl sizes fit around but are way too short (and look babyish) and the women’s sizes are geared toward, well, a full grown woman’s body.  So, Erin will be making Taite’s dress.

Meanwhile, we had a dump truck load of rock delivered for a wall so Jarrett was just outside building me the most perfect rock wall.  He was hefting rocks of incredible size and placing them like a perfect jigsaw puzzle.  It is a work of art to behold.

And Meghan will be doing all the bouquets and flower arrangements, Matthias has drawn up the diagrams for food layout, and Taite is planning on doing some quick Irish Dancing to start off the partying at the reception.

Pesto with a Twist


The pesto craze came in like gangbusters  years ago, and I still love it.  The freshness of the basil and garlic with the nuttiness of the pine nuts mixed into the pasta.

Well, let me introduce you to a twist on that favorite:

Pesto Trapanese

3/4 lb. (2 1/2 C.) cherry tomatoes

a good fistful (about a generous cup)  basil leaves
1/3 C. almonds
1 good sized garlic clove
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 C olive oil (extra-virgin and all that stuff or just plain old olive oil)
Whiz that all together in a blender or food processor.
Cook 1 lb. spaghetti, drain and put in serving bowl.  Drop sauce on top and toss.  Add 1/2 C. parmesan and lightly toss.
Done!
The sauce can be made ahead and can sit for up to two hours on the counter.  And it also freezes well if you have extra.  That makes it a great last minute wonderful meal, with a loaf of bread and a salad.

I added way more basil than the original recipe of 12 little old basil leaves!

Even with the extra basil I ended up with a beautiful reddish yellow sauce

My favorite regular old pesto recipe arrived via a friend whose brother-in-law is Italian and made this in humongous batches and then froze it in family serving sizes.
I had never heard of this stuff about fifteen years ago and these friends were coming for the weekend and she said she’d bring dinner for one night.  That night she pulled out a small jar of green stuff and a couple pounds of spaghetti and I thought, “Are you nuts!?  This is no way going to feed all of us” but what I said was, “Looks great!”  (Do you remember that, Nancy?)
A few loaves of bread and a fresh salad and it really was a full meal!
10 oz. basil  (And right here I need to put a plug in for buying yourself a kitchen scale, it is the only way to know for sure on some ingredients and this is one of them.)
1/4 C. whole garlic
1 1/2 C. olive oil (you know, extra-virgin…)
2 C. fresh grated parmesan
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp pepper
1 C. pine nuts (lightly roasting them gives them an extra nuttiness)
Whiz up in a blender or food processor and done!
Thanks to Taite’s green thumb, I was able to get basil from her garden to do both recipes.

Hand wash only


Do you ever get an unexplainable bit of  happiness over something totally commonplace? I did last week when I tackled something that had been on my white board “to do” list for weeks: “Handwash vintage dresses”.

I had  found these four vintage dresses (ranging from the 1930′s to the 1960′s)  that needed a little TLC. As they hung to dry on the shaded patio, their drips drying quickly in the summer heat- I stood back and just looked at what a pretty picture they made.

Kind of a bizarre print, but I think it will make a fun party dress.

This is the other thing that gives me joy lately. I tear around on it like an 8 year old whenever I get the chance.

Tormenting Myself… On Purpose.


There are certain blogs I go to every few days just to torment myself.  Please, please tell me Pinkpeppers isn’t your secret torment!

One, for me, is decidedly Christian and the Christian part is  fine, in fact a great Christian blog would be, well, a great thing.  But the one I go to when I feel like tormenting myself, never disappoints.  It always has posts that let me know I’ve missed the mark… again.  Things like, “God needs to be first in your life, and if you are not waking up at 5 AM for your quiet time with Jesus, you are doomed for failure.”  Or, “When your kids are sick and throwing up every hour, toss a picnic blanket into the middle of the living room and make it fun, make them little rocket ship shaped sandwiches and watch a fun movie… if you’re a godly mother”    ”Cranky kids at bedtime?  Just toss them in the car for a jolly ride around town and end with an ice cream cone and then they will sleep like angels.”  Or, “If you are having problems with your marriage, focus on your husband’s godly traits, say godly things to him  and poof he will be godly, the end.”  And, I think just ’cause it’s so dang easy to do, modest dress is always  a ready post, good for poking you in the eye, swimsuits are the easiest and then it moves into cleavage and the length of your skirt, and you call yourself a Christian!

Of course, somewhere in the midst there is truth; it’s just that the delivery is so, Camelot, so, life is perfect here, hope you can get your act together too.

I much prefer to hear from someone who is willing to say, “you know, I’ve been there,”  I prefer honesty  like, “Have you lost the reality of God, not the belief in God, but the reality of His sure presence?  Do you have periods in your life when you pray, read your Bible, lead a decent life and you just feel empty and alienated from God?  You’ve checked off the “Good Christian” to do list and you still feel depressed.  Do not lose heart, this condition will come upon you if you are a Christian.  David cries out about this in spades, Job was put through a wringer which made him question everything.  Christ on the cross even asked, My God, my God why have your forsaken Me?

Even though we are mere mortals, this deadness and drought may not come necessarily because you’ve done anything wrong. “I will say to God my Rock, why have You forgotten me?… Why are you cast down, O my soul?  And why are you disquieted within me?”

We need encouragement that sometimes the kids will be throwing up and you will not feel like throwing a picnic party and in fact, you haven’t read your Bible that morning (and maybe you skipped the day before too)  because you were up to your ears in dirty sheets and just now you would like just a little more sleep and furthermore, you probably won’t have it together by dinner time.  We need to know that we will go through periods of darkness, deadness and drought and it might not be the result of any particular sin and  that there is a way out.

So, I go off into cyberspace and torment myself at Christian Women’s blogs like a cat with a mouse and then head straight to the man who has changed my life.

Addictive Granola


Add this to your favorite yogurt and it will make you want to leap out of bed for the shear pleasure of this start to your day.

One little, teeny, weeny promise you have to make though, is that you absolutely can NOT go skimping on the honey and oil.  Promise?  Promise!? Okay, then here it is:

3/4 cup canola oil
2 cups natural honey
2 tsp. vanilla
1 lb. 2 oz. box old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup dried cranberries or cherries
1/2 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
6 oz. almonds
8 oz. walnuts OR if you are feeling amazingly decadent make that 8 oz. macadamia nuts instead
8 oz. cashews
1 cup shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 300-deg F
Heat oil, honey and vanilla until warm

Meanwhile, in a large aluminum roasting pan (17 x 12 x 2) stir oats, seeds, nuts and coconut together. (NOTE: Raisins and cranberries are added at the very end.)  Add warmed honey mixture and mix until evenly coated.

Bake for 1 hour.  Stir every 15 minutes with a fork or wooden spoon.  During the last 15 minutes add the raisins and cranberries or cherries.

Remove from oven. Cool to room temperature and store in an airtight container in the fridge.  I store any extra that I won’t be eating within the week in quart size bags in the freezer indefinitely.