Tuesday, September 28, 2010

My New Friend ~ All Dressed Up!!

I made a new friend on Sunday.  We ran into each other at Target, and I quickly invited her home with me.  She's very sweet...I think you'll like her too. 

You can enjoy her just as she is, or you can dress her up like I did.  I felt like she needed a little snazzy-ing up, so I made up this recipe just for her.  I can't tell you how much this makes Fall jump alive.  The smell, the taste, even the look, I think.

These little beauties, a chocolate kiss with caramel apple filling!  Aaah!  Can you stand it?  You know a caramel apple with a chocolate coating is just a thing of beauty, right?!  Well, now it's all packaged up a little Hershey Kiss.  Brilliant.

Then I thought about how cinnamon could perfectly compliment this.  So I made a Snickerdoodle-ish cookie and topped it with this Kiss.  Oh.  My.  Loveliness.  Go to Target.  My friend will meet you there.  Bring her home and make these cookies.  It's good enough to make you forget all about this crazy humidity (which, by the way, is making my hair increase it's volume by at least 143%) and let you feel like Fall is in the air! 

Caramel Apple Snickering Kiss Cookies

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 3/4 cups flour
2 TBSP sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
Caramel-Apple Hershey Kisses

Beat together butter, shortening, and sugar.  Add eggs and beat well.  Add cream of tartar, baking soda and salt.  Mix until combined.  Add in flour and mix just until combined.

In a separate, small bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon.  Shape dough into 1-inch balls (use that cookie scoop to make it easy) and roll in sugar/cinnamon mixture.  Place on parchment paper-lined cookie sheets.  Bake at 400 for 8 minutes.

Remove cookies from oven and immediately place a Hershey Kiss on top of each cookie, pressing down slightly.  Let cool on cookie sheet for 3-4 minutes, then remove onto cooling racks to cool completely.

Yum.  Yum.  Yum.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Monday Menu ~ Simple, Straight-Up Banana Bread

I had to use up some ripening bananas last week...or maybe it was the week before.  Anyway, I pulled out a couple of my trusty cookbooks to find a good recipe.  I make my banana bread different all the time.  I'm continually searching for the "perfect" banana bread.  I add all sorts of things:  toffee chips, chocolate chips, peanut butter, nuts, ground nuts with ground coffee in them...sometimes I frost the loaves.  I'm all over the place when it comes to my banana bread.  This recipe comes out of one of those fundraising community cookbooks.  Those books are the best!  Everyone submits there favorite recipes, so you know they are tried and true.  This recipe jumped out at me because it looked so simply pure!  Just straight-up, plain 'ole banana bread.   And ya know what?  It's way better that way.  Nevermind all the added stuff.  This bread is the ultimate comfort food.  It's one that your family will walk into the house after it's baked and say "Ooooh, what are you making???"  Very homey.  Comforting.  Sorry for the lack of pictures, but you can probably picture it in your mind.

Simple, Straight-Up Banana Bread

3 medium bananas, mashed
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt

In a large bowl, combine mashed bananas and sugar.  Beat together until well mixed.  Add eggs, oil, and vanilla.  Beat well.  Add flour, soda and salt, mix until well-combined and lump-free.  Pour batter into a loaf pan sprayed with non-stick spray.  Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes. 

**These are also great baked in mini-muffin pans.  Freeze them in a gallon zip-loc bag and pull out a few at a time to put in lunches for school.  Put them in frozen in the morning, and by lunchtime they are thawed and yummy!!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I Don't Want To Be A Body Builder

What began this morning as a regular 6-month cleaning at the dentist turned into quite an adventure.  I wasn't much in the mood for an adventure, but I think it's going to be a huge positive a couple weeks from now.

Over the last six months I have developed a nasty habit of clenching my teeth when I sleep.  Sometimes even when I'm awake, truth be told.  I don't know why.  Have I been especially stressed?  Not really.  Busy, yes.  And when I get over-busy, my mind gets keyed-up and that must come out as teeth clenching.  Many nights I wake up several times feeling my teeth ache and trying to make my jaw relax.  So I confessed all this to my hygienist, who I love, love, love.  (If she ever leaves this office, I'm following her.  She is so gentle and thorough.  And even when she's reprimanding me for not flossing enough, it comes out sweetly.)  One comment led to another and another, and it was quickly established that my clenching has been "extreme" and I need to get a night guard made.  She quoted lots of statistics about the strength of your jaw muscles and how many pounds per square inch are exerted when you clench. 

The bottom line, for me, was that she told me I had the jaw muscles of a body builder!!  Body builders have always given me the creeps.  Nothing, and I mean nothing, is appealing to me about a body builder.  Not even their jaws.

I asked if I could get some kind of note from my dentist to give to my doctor that shows how much "working out" I've been doing as I sleep.  I wish it burned massive calories.  I wish I could count it as a cardio workout, but no such luck.  Apparently, there is nothing good or beneficial about it.  Doggone it.  Of course I'd find something I excel at only to be told it's not good for me.  Bummer.

So then I had to have the impressions done.  Oh, I have done that to so many people in my past.  And now I was the victim.  They had a student interning and asked if I'd mind her taking my impressions.  I politely declined, for her sake.  I have a gag reflex that is ridiculous.  I can gag swallowing a pill.  I will resist the urge to go into any more detail.  She handed me a gigantic wad of paper towels "just in case".  Thankfully, the "in case" never occurred, because I'm not sure what good the paper towels would have done.  She woefully underestimated my abilities.  There's another thing I excel at that is not good for me.  Or for anyone.

So in two weeks, I get this thing to sleep with.  My dentist told me that there will be a slight adjustment sleeping with it, but then I won't be able to sleep without it.  He equated it to a baby with a pacifier.  First a body builder, then a baby.  But, the really great news is that my quality of sleep is supposedly going to dramatically increase.  Amen and hallelujah.  Bring it on.

So, here are the things I heard at the dentist that I wish I hadn't heard:

1.  I have the jaw of a body builder.

2.  My son, by dental insurance standards, is an adult.

3.  "Deep breaths through your nose!!  Slow, deep breaths!  Think about the rain!!!"

4.  There is some visible wear on my teeth from the clenching.  Ugh.

5.  In the near future, I'm going to need a pacifier to fall asleep.

The thing I said at the dentist that I wish I wouldn't have said:

1.  When the assistant was finding the right size tray, and realized she had to go up one size because the first on was too narrow, she said, "You are built just like me."

To which I replied, "Short and wide?"

(I meant, Lord knows I meant, my arch is shorter front-to-back, and wide side-to-side.)

As soon as I said it, my cheeks turned all shades of red.  I started to clarify I meant a wide arch.  I'm hoping she assumed that.

The trays of goop in my mouth were much more comfortable than my foot in my mouth. 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Monday Menu ~ Big 'Ole Yummy Chocolate Chip/M&M Cookies!

***By the way, Spanish "expert", I think that I should be addressed as Senora, not Senorita!  Gracias, amiga.***

I'm cranky this afternoon.  Straight up cranky.  I have a cold.  The left side of my face is all plugged up.  It feels like someone is shoving their fist into my sinus cavity.  Not that I've ever literally felt that before, but I think if someone did it...nevermind.  Even I'm getting lost in that.  I've been snapping at my girls for the last 45 minutes.  The boy is just not home yet, or I'd probably snap at him, too.  The man is not home yet either, but I probably won't snap at him.  Probably.  But he knows I'm sick.  He will enter gently, rub my back, and talk in a soft voice.  I think.  The kids know, and they say they are sorry I'm sick, followed by "Can you sign this?"  "What does 'relate to the previous values' mean?" "Do you know if we get our uniforms tomorrow?" "Is Daddy at my conference right now?"  (Which is tomorrow night, by the way.  "No", my sarcastic voice screams from the inside, "your father is coming home for dinner, to sleep in his own bed, going to work tomorrow, coming home for dinner, THEN going to your conference!!!")  But a gentle answer turns away wrath, even the wrath that is screaming inside your own head, so instead I said, "Isn't your conference tomorrow night?"  Ugh.  Now I've just vented my anger, so I think that makes me a fool??!!  I was on His mind when those words were spoken.

So...Monday Menu?  Is that what I'm doing?  Well, who doesn't love a little comfort food when they are not feeling well?  I know I do.  That's why a meatloaf is filling my home with scrumptious smells right now.  And that's why it's on my brain to share this cookie recipe.  Cookies are my love language, and chocolate chip cookies are my "I've never loved you more than this moment" language.  Make those cookies jumbo-sized, and add in some M&M's???  Oh, baby.  Stephanie Mills starts singing in my head her oh-so catchy "I Never Knew Love Like This Before".  Clearly the non-drowsy Sudafed has kicked in.  I'm so sorry.

So these cookies are baked in muffin top pans.  Muffin top pans!!!  I've been trying to get my hands on one for a couple months now, and finally found one at a Kitchen store in an outlet mall.  It is fabulous.  So cool what you can do to cookies in this pan!  Really, truly, go get yourself one.  Order one on-line if you need to.  But you need one.  Put it on your Christmas list if you can wait that long.  If you want to make the cookies before you get a pan like this, just pat them into hockey-puck shaped mounds on parchment-lined cookie sheets.  Still big, still great...just not "muffin tops".  This recipe comes off the Picky Palate blog.  I renamed it to suit my whim.  Cheers to clear sinuses, quiet-voiced children, and cookie happiness...

Big 'Ole Yummy Chocolate Chip/M&M Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 TBSP vanilla
3 3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
2 cups chocolate chips
M&M's (buy a big bag, you'll only use a bit but will have lots left to munch)

With a mixer, beat together butter and sugars until creamy and fluffy.  Add in eggs and vanilla, beat until well-combined.  Add dry ingredients slowly, mixing just until combined.  Stir in chocolate chips.

Scoop 1/4 cup of dough and press into a muffin top pan.  Press M&M's into the top of the cookie dough.  (My OCD went wild with this, making sure I had one of each color in each cookie!!  What fun to indulge a mind that craves that type of orderly candy placement!)

Bake at 350 for 12-14 minutes, or until edges are just browning.  Leave them a wee bit on the underbaked side in the middle...you'll be glad you did.  Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.  And, please, for the love of all that is chocolate and gooey, invite me over when you make them.  I'll bring the coffee.  Or milk.  Or whatever.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Uno Listo de Vente

Because of the ever-increasing need for efficiency in my life, I'm falling back in love with a list.  I'll make a list out of anything these days.  And because it's a rainy Friday night and I'm so very glad to be enjoying it at home, my brain is relaxing.  And because my brain is relaxing and it's a rainy Friday night, I'm making some cookies that I will simply say are going to have their very own post soon.  And because my brain is relaxed and I'm baking cookies and I have to stay out of my fuzzies until I go pick up Brenna at 8:30, I decided to sit down and make a list that I've been thinking about for awhile.  About 20 years, actually. 

(*** I interrupt this post to address The Spanish Expert (Brenda?  Amanda?).  Thank you for calling me out on my Spanish skills.  I believe "hombre" is the word I should have used.  Thank you Spanish/English translator.  And I'm sorry to my high school Spanish teacher.***)

Anyway, back to the list of 20 and my relaxed brain.  I've been thinking a lot about how fast 20 years have gone by.  I've listed, in my head, 20 highlights of the last 20 years.  I've thought about the top 20 things I love about Brad.  And on and on my thoughts have gone.

But what I settled on for this is 20 reasons we have a happy marriage.  Our happy marriage is not a happy accident.  It's not a lucky break.  It's not because we have figured it all out.  It's not because we don't have problems.  We are both aware of the fact that we don't have big beastly issues that we deal with, and we are so grateful for that.  But we also are aware that we have been very purposeful about some things.  There are things that may seem small in the moment but really have big impacts.  It all adds up.  We started young and grew up together, individually and together.  Lots of bumps and bruises along the way, but no breaks.  We've both been dumb jerks and messed up plenty, but we've both also received and given lots of forgiveness.  Two incredibly imperfect people do not live together for 20 years without needing to forgive and be forgiven!  So some of these have been from the get-go, some have been learned along the way!

Just over a year into our marriage, my mom began her long road of terminal illness.  That strongly shaped us in many ways.  We saw the fragility of life.  We saw how temporary our life here is.  In our very early years, we were forced to be continually aware of what really matters.

So this is no way intended to be "advice" or, heaven help me, a pat on our back.  It's just for fun.  It's just for me to reminisce.  And it's for my kids, who I pray will someday look at our marriage as something they aspire to for themselves.

20 Reasons We Have A Happy Marriage

1.  We each chose someone we liked.

2.  We each chose someone we were very attracted to.

3.  We each chose someone who had a relationship with Christ...a growing, active relationship, not just a belief.

4.  We waited.  It can be done.  Saving yourself for "the one" can save you from a lot of baggage.  And now it's always okay.

5.  We have mutual respect for each other, and express it regularly.

6.  We are very affectionate with each other.  We hold hands a lot.  We hug and kiss every day. 

7.  We say "I love you" every day.  But more importantly, we show it every day.

8.  We fight fair.  Mostly.  We aren't afraid to argue and disagree, we'd rather get it out and express ourselves and know we are always being honest.

9.  We forgive quickly and completely.  (Brad from the get-go.  Me?  Had to learn.)

10. We spend time together.  Not just "quality time", but quantity!  Every Thursday night for the last 12+ years, with very rare exception, has been our date night.  We eat dinner together alone, without kids and just hang out.  Almost always at home.  The kids have grown up with this, so even they will say, "Tonight's your date night!"  We taught them from very young to respect that time.  Translation: to leave us alone!

11.  When we say something we don't mean, we take it back.  Somewhere along the way, most of us are taught that you need to be careful with your words (true) because you can never take them back (not true).  We all say something stupid that we wish we could take back, right?  So we gave each other permission to "take it back" and try again.

12.  We both put the other person's needs ahead of our own.  When we both do that, it's a win/win.

13.  We laugh with each other, at each other, and at ourselves.

14.  We make eye contact.  It's so easy to forget to stop and look at each other.  I married a man with amazing eyes: the color of chocolate!

15.  We speak highly of each other to other people.  We do not trash talk each other.

16.  We choose to stay best friends.  We do fun things together.  Lately, that's been running together or biking or even a very occasional swim.  (Just to make him happy.)

17.  We set each other up to succeed.  I've said for a long time that I'm his "set-up girl", providing the assist for his goal.  Whether it's reminding him of important dates he needs to remember, or slipping him an email about a kid that needs something from him, or sending desserts to work with him to make people like him (ha!), I set him up to look good. 

18.  We never make a big financial decision without being in agreement.  Unless he's surprising me with something, we always know about major purchases before they are made.  Total disclosure.  Oh, the stories of stereo speakers purchased...when we didn't own a stereo...  Let's just say we've taken the long road to learn that one.

19.  We talk to each other.  We LISTEN to each other.

20.  We pray for each other.  Big one.  It's pretty great to see how praying for each other makes all those previous 19 things so do-able.  And we know that:

"Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken."  Ecc. 4:12

Now it's time for my fuzzies.  The end.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Vente is muy bueno, mi mano!

I have no idea if that is anywhere near proper English.  Or Spanish.  Here's how this started:

Out of the clear blue, I had an absolute epiphany!  It has always bothered me that when you order at Starbucks, a "tall" is a small, a "grande" (which to me means very big) is a medium, and a "venti" is a large.  Too much to keep straight!  Until it occurred to me that vente is 20 in Spanish, so venti must be 20 in Italian, which then is easy to assume a venti is a 20-ounce drink!  Ta-da!!!  I was so thrilled with myself when I figured that out.  And Brad just shook his head and tried to act happy for me.  I had to go away to a quiet beach to figure that out.

So, here's where the randomness begins to make sense.  Today is our 20th wedding anniversary!  TWENTY!  I cannot believe 20 years has gone by since I stood in that church and pledged my life-long devotion to this man.  I meant every word I said that day, and  I've done my best to live them out.

Brad, you know I'm crazy about you.  I love you so deeply, and I like you so much.  We know each other so much better than we did when we married, and I still like you.  I'd still choose you.  You are still my favorite person to be with.  My best friend.  You make me laugh like no one else.  You laugh at with me more than anyone else.  You protect me.  You calm me.  You support me.  You encourage me.  You challenge me.  You have held me through some deep trials, and you've led me well.  Your love is such a gift to me.  It is proof that our God restores, redeems, and provides.  You make me proud.

Twenty years have already gone by.  It's already going too fast.  I'm so thankful we have so many more ahead of us.  I will always choose to love you.  Thank you for loving me, thank you for choosing me, and thank you for the absolute assurance that we are forever.

I've said it before, but this is a good time to repeat it:  I will love you as long as we both shall live...and then forever.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A List

Just a list for today.  Each of these items could be a very lengthy post with agonizing detail and description.  But, due to #8, I'm simply going to get straight to the point and make a list.  I do love me a list.

1.  I had my first Pumpkin Spice Latte a few days ago.  Mmm.

2.  Starbucks has their Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate back on the menu.  Mmmm.

3.  A Mommy I admire hugely and has faced a heartache we aren't ever meant to face has a plan for the future that is going to make me a very happy girl.  And when the time is right I'm probably going to talk about it.  A lot.

4.  The Seahawks were a joy to behold on Sunday.  Loved it.

5.  Choreographing a cheer dance makes my head hurt.  And my hamstrings.  But mostly my head.

6.  I love my job.

7.  First graders crack me up.  Oh, the joy they bring without even trying!

8.  I bought a very large white board calendar last year and just hung it up this weekend.  Every kid has a different color marker.  Every kid activity is on the calendar.  My kids looked at it after I put everything on there and said, "Wow.  That's a lot of stuff for you to do."  From the mouths of babes.  Validation.

9.  Brad received a big 'ole pat on the back at work last week.  I love when that man is acknowledged for what he so quietly and consistently does every day.

10.  I love the coolness of the evenings, needing to grab a blanket when I sit down, and needing to burrow into the covers when I crawl into bed to read.  Cozy, cozy.

11.  I don't know what I was dreaming, but I woke Brad up at 4:30 this morning and asked him what was burning.  I'm sure I'll be questioned about that this evening.  I have no answer.

12.  After much searching, I finally found a muffin top pan and I can't wait to make cookies in it.  I'm sure I will follow-up with more on that later.

13.  It bothers me that the spell-check wants me to change "Seahawks" to "squawks".  That is just wrong.

14.  I have nothing else.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Monday Menu ~ Make Ahead Muffin Melts

Here's a new gem in my arsenal for feeding hungry kids!  Again, this tastes so much better than it looks.  You have to give it a try and listen to the taste buds.  They will be singing a happy tune!

I made these for the first week of school.  Offer them up with a wedge of melon and mouths will be happy and tummies will stay full!  You can make the topping up and keep it in your refrigerator, then just assemble and broil these guys right before you eat.  That may be my favorite thing about them.  I am NOT a morning person, so the more I can do on auto-pilot the better.  Whether you are a morning person or not, I hope you can give them a try!

Make-Ahead Muffin Melts
(from The Pioneer Woman, of course)

12 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
2 cups grated cheese (cheddar or cheddar jack)
1 cup mayonnaise
12 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 TBSP Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
3 dashes Worcestershire Sauce
6 whole English muffins, split

Combine all ingredients together, folding gently to combine.  Cover and store in the refrigerator.  Spread of English muffin halves and broil for 3-5 minutes or until hot and bubbly.  Serve immediately.

This made way more topping than I needed for 6 English muffins, so I must have not used quite as much.  But it makes gobs.  You could easily half this recipe if you don't need it to go as far.  A full batch made it onto 12 English muffins in my house, and I wasn't being stingy with the topping!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Very Special Delivery

Yesterday I received a very special delivery.  I do believe it is the very best thing that the Fed-Ex man has ever delivered to my door.  Love.  In.  A.  Box. 

Let me set the stage, if I might.

It was the morning of my 41st birthday.  Welcome, 41.  We're going to be good together.  I slept crummy the night before, my heart heavy with the heaviness of my child's heart.  So I started my day feeling very drowsy.  Once the kids were all off to school, I took a brief nap before I started getting ready for work.  Not nearly enough, but I was thankful for the time I did get.  I got some laundry going.  I baked a batch of mini banana muffins to freeze for school lunches.  I got dinner for the evening done so all we had to do was heat-n-eat before we headed out to the football game in the evening.  Way more productive than I prefer to be on my birthday, but that's the way life rolls sometimes.  And I really considered my weekend away with Brad enough celebration to carry me through a birthday, so it was all good.  I then took a quick shower to get ready for work and came out of my room just in time to hear the doorbell ring...

For the last few months, the only deliveries via the Fed Ex or UPS men have been either cheer uniforms or computer pieces of some sort.  To my utter delight, this box was PINK!! I immediately spotted the words "Georgetown Cupcake" on the side.  Nuh-uh!!  No way!!  I spun it around and checked the shipping label, and, sure enough, this was truly from Georgetown Cupcake!! 

this is the shipping box ~ isn't it pretty?!

Are you with me?  There is a show on TLC called "DC Cupcakes".  If there is ever a show on with the word cupcake in it, I watch it.  I devour it.  So when my sweet friend moved to DC, I gave her some time to catch her breath and then asked if she had been to the cupcake shop the show is based on.  Yes, she has.  Yes, she loved it.  Yes, I was drooling a bit as she described it.

So, now you must be with me.  She, together with her parents, had these cupcakes shipped to me for my birthday!  I really cannot describe the joy this has brought to my heart, my mouth, and my tummy.  I was all alone when the box arrived, and it was so beautiful and special to me that I actually took a picture of each stage of the opening.  Now you get to share my joy.

after opening the shipping box, a tightly wrapped insulating bag

then the sweet card. "To you who is as sweet as her tooth" made me smile...

then, opening the insulated bag, there are these two iced gel packs

then, the inner box, tied with a bow

And then, the center of the package reveals the core of the beauty.  One of the most beautiful sights to behold:

may I introduce to you to (from top row, left to right) the chocolate with chocolate ganache, the coconut, the key lime, the chocolate mint, the peanut butter chocolate, the salted caramel, and the precious additional chocolate peanut butter

As of this writing, I have eaten two of the chocolate peanut butter.  They are divine.  It is a rich chocolate cupcake with smooth and creamy peanut butter frosting, and then when you bite into it you find a most delicious chocolate goo of some kind that just completely sent me over the edge.  In a good way, of course.  The caramel is so good.  So rich that the roof of my mouth felt that sugar-rush burn that I'm so fond of.  I only ate a couple bites of that and forced Brad to finish it.  Poor guy.  The rest are soon to be sampled.  One daughter is a little downcast that I refuse to share the last chocolate peanut butter.  She thinks I'm kidding.  I'm not.

I can't wait to watch this show soon and see some more of the behind the scenes of where my cupcakes came from.  I love them.  They love me.  A perfect way to celebrate 41!

Hope you got a little joy from my joy.  If you ever swing into DC, make a point of getting yourself a fabulous cupcake.  (This is a perfect place to insert a political statement.  I'm choosing not to.  Just wanted you to appreciate my restraint.)

Have a sweet Saturday...

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Next week, as impossible as this is for me to believe, Brad and will celebrate our 20 year anniversary.  I just can't believe that.  20 years??  That's 2 decades.  Wow.  Yeah, we got married young.  But still.  TWENTY years?

Last year we started talking about what to do for this big milestone.  We had a lot of very grand ideas, but none that matched our budget.  Then, as I talked about in an earlier post, time became a huge frustration as we realized that our calendar was ridiculously full this fall.

But, with a little juggling and shuffling and releasing, we found a way to clear Labor Day weekend.  Brad is the one who juggled and shuffled and released.  And then he arranged.  Everything.  With the help of some kind gals at work, he found an amazing place in Cannon Beach on the Oregon Coast.  One of my very, very favorite places.  Then he made arrangements for the kids.  Then he told me about it a couple weeks ago.  Then I helped smooth out the crazy kid schedules so it wouldn't be too crazy.  And then Friday came and we were off for what would prove to be something better than we could have ever planned for...

I even have conflicted feelings about putting all this on here, because that involves some kind of acceptance that it's over.  And I'm notoriously slow to accept things I don't like.

I went to this place with zero expectations.  Zero.  Just so happy to get away with Brad...I didn't give a single thought to the weather or uncontrollable things that I wanted it to be.  There is no bad weather at the beach.  A storm on the Oregon Coast is fabulous...no weather would have made it a bad trip.  But, let me tell you...the Lord graced us with some weather that blew us away.  I still cannot believe how perfect it was.  Bright blue skies.  Warm sun.  NO wind!  I am not a fan of wind.  Especially when there is sand.  I have never seen so little wind at the beach as we did this weekend.  Except for our last morning there, there was really no wind.  Obviously, I cannot even believe it myself.  It was simply glorious.

The room?  Amazing.

The view of Haystack Rock?  Beautiful.

The sunsets?  Breathtaking.

This place provides "an endless supply of cookies" in the lobby.  That's my kind of place.  One of the gals at the front desk knew all that about me from talking to Brad before we arrived, so she put together this little box of cookies for us to take to our room one evening. 

One morning at breakfast, I was dishing up some oatmeal and complimented one of the chefs on the amazing smell coming from the kitchen.  "Coconut?"  I asked.  "Yes, we just baked coconut/golden raisin cookies."  Literally before I finished dressing my oatmeal, he appeared with a small plate with three warm cookies for me.  (And, for the record, I'm not a "raisin in my cookie" kind of girl.  But these were soooo good.  I'm going to try to replicate them.)

Every afternoon, they host a complimentary wine/cheese hour in their "library room" that overlooks the ocean.  We were never there during the time, choosing to instead be out walking the beach in the glorious (no wind) sun.

Then in the evening they have night caps available in that same room.  Brad brought those up to our room...because I wasn't remotely interested in being social with anyone other than Brad.  And the chef.  But mostly Brad.

I took many baths.  One of them in particular?  Best.  Bath.  Ever. 

We slept to the sound of the ocean.  We woke to the sound of seagulls.  We ate when we were hungry.  Very little thinking involved.  Lots of conversation.  Lots of reminiscing.  He even took me shopping for my early birthday present.  And we walked the beach.  For miles and miles each day.

On Sunday, we walked for an hour and a half and came upon this little gem near Hug Point.  We were completely alone for almost 2 hours, with the brief exception of one couple that walked through.  Totally alone on the beach in beautiful weather for almost two hours?  You can't plan something like that.  It was not lost on us that we were having a day that we would remember forever.  Felt like a little kiss from heaven...

this is our little private beach.  the dot is me.  Brad took this with his cell phone because we didn't even bring our camera that day!!

Sweet memories added to a very sweet life.  Interesting insight into an interesting life.  Overwhelming appreciation for that life and the man I'm blessed to share it with.

I will never forget it...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Perfectly Mixed

This last-born of mine is quite the unique child.  They all are, I know.  But the blend that makes up Beth is really something special.

Usually when I make chocolate chip cookies (stay with me, here) I follow my favorite recipe and know exactly what I'm adding.  Sometimes, though, I get a wild hair and start adding in extra things.  Sometimes different nuts.  Sometimes different types of chocolate.  Sometimes pudding.  Sometimes chopped up candy bars.  Whatever I'm in the mood for or curious about.  I think the Lord had a head full of wild hairs the day He made Beth.  I believe He must have been quite pleased with Himself as He took His standard recipe and then started adding a little of this and a little of that.

A little extra curiosity.  A little scoop of creativity.  An extra heaping tablespoon of an adventurous spirit.  Stubborn determination?  "Yes!  In fact, she's going to need that in extra doses, so I'm going to double that!"  Tenacity?  Oh, yes.  And then I think He cranked up the blue scale when He colored her eyes, just to make sure the cute factor was there.  And He pinked the cheeks a little extra rosy, too.  Made that girl beautiful, He did. Then He added an overload of tenderness and adoration for those she loves.  And He took that brain and wired it in the most amazing way.  It's wired perfectly to keep up with and understand her curiosity.  And then some.  And just for kicks, He thought He'd make her a little extra tall.  And make her love dirt.  That girl loves dirt.  Perfect for her sense of adventure and exploration.  And I think He sealed all that together (the eggs of the recipe, if you will) with a sticky-sweet love.  This girl is slow to warm-up, but deep in her love.  Once you are her friend...oooh, does she love you. 

Now this beautifully mixed creation has grown slowly into her girlhood.  Being comfortable, shoot, being dirty, has always been preferable to being cute.  She has now been scooting more to the side of being cute.  Which is both a delight, as I'm not taking this child into public looking like we were crying out for help, and a challenge, as I now have two girls to please in the "how do I look???" department.  The child that would not keep a hair band in her hair for anything now wants her hair "just right". 

Anyway, today has been a day full of all those ingredients that make Beth Beth.  She found the PERFECT Converse shoes for school today.  Perfectly Beth at age 9.  A little touch of girlie with a lot of kickin' comfort.

And then, I walk in to my kitchen to load the dishwasher for the 112th time today, and see this:

One of her best buddies gave her this rubber dinosaur at cheer practice last night, and Beth wanted to see if it would grow bigger in a cup of water.  And what mother doesn't want to grab a cup off the counter and have a little dinosaur smile up at her?  The gift that keeps on giving.  Thanks, Grace.

This picture was taken a couple weeks after her accident, Brad's first day back at work.  I sent this picture to him, simply titled "She's back!"  It sums her up perfectly.

SO Beth!  Lace sleeved, flower-dotted t-shirt, covered in dirt!  That's my girl.

She's a little of this and a little of that.  And perfectly mixed.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A Beautiful Girl...

...just became even more beautiful with the addition of some expensive jewelry!