Thursday, September 27, 2007

Thai Beef & Basil + Chinese Fried Rice Deluxe

That's right, folks! It's a 2 for 1 recipe day! And the cool thing is, if you do it right, the Chinese Fried Rice will practically make itself the next day from the Thai beef leftovers--assuming there are any leftovers :-)

Thai Beef with Basil
The All New Good Housekeeping Cookbook
Serves 4


3 tablespoons Asian fish sauce--
if you've never used this before, just a warning--it's quite potent!
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 beef top round steak (1 pound)--you can also use top sirloin
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 jumbo sweet onion (1 pound), cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 head bok choy (2 pounds)
3 long red chiles or serrano chiles, seeded and thinly sliced (amt. can be adjusted for heat pref.)
3 garlic cloves, cut into long thin slices--you can also use 1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons minced, peeled fresh ginger--you can also use 1 teaspoon of dried ground ginger
1 cup loosely packed basil leaves--you can also use 1-2 tablespoons of dried crushed basil
2 cups cooked rice

In medium bowl, combine fish sauce, soy sauce and brown sugar. Cut steak lengthwise in half, then cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices across the grain. Add beef to fish-sauce mixture, tossing to coat well; cover and refrigerate beef 30 minutes to marinate--if you're using top sirloin, you can cut the marinate time down to 15 minutes.

In large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over high heat until very hot. Add beef mixture and cook, stirring frequently (stir-frying), just until beef is no longer pink, about 1 minute. Transfer beef to bowl.

Trim and core bok choy. Separate leaves from stems, then cut each stem lengthwise in half. Cut stems and leaves crosswise into 2-inch pieces; wash and drain.

Add remaining 1 teaspoon oil to skillet. Add onion and bok choy stalks and cook, stirring frequently (stir-frying), until tender-crisp, about 4 minutes. Add bok choy leaves and stir-fry until wilted, about 2 minutes longer. Stir in chiles, garlic and ginger; cook 30 seconds.

Return beef to skillet and add basil; heat through. Serve over rice.

Chinese Fried Rice Deluxe
Serves 4

This is a very flexible recipe, so feel free to add or omit ingredients based on personal preference or allergy (that's for you & your shellfish allergy Katie!!). Also the secret of making fried rice lies in the use of cold, cooked rice. Freshly cooked rice will only produce a sticky mess.


6 tablespoons cooking oil
2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
2 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup fresh shrimp, shell/devein--can use frozen shrimp, but thaw first (10 min. in bowl under cold running water)
4 cups cold, cooked rice
1/2 cup cooked peas--I would leave these out, since I don't like them, but Kyra does...
1/4 cup canned diced bamboo shoots
any combination of the following:
1/4 cup diced boiled ham
1/2 cup diced cooked chicken
1/2 cup diced roast pork, or leftover Thai Beef with basil :-)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons chicken broth (or 1/2 teaspoon bouillon powder)
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Heat 2 tablespoons cooking oil. Beat eggs with 1/2 teaspoon salt and scramble in oil until firm, breaking into small pieces. Remove and reserve. Heat remaining oil. Add green onion and shrimp and remaining salt. Cook until shrimp shows pink. Break up lumps of cold, cooked rice and add to shrimp. Stir until rice is heated (you may need to add a little more oil), and the grains of rice are separated. Make a hole in the center of rice. Add all the rest of the ingredients except for soy sauce, chicken broth and sesame oil. Stir until thoroughly heated and mixed. Add soy sauce, chicken broth or bouillon powder and sesame oil, and mix evenly through. Salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with additional chopped green onions if desired.

There you have it! I hope you enjoy your "international" cuisine :-)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Attack Ducks with Fangs

Have you ever done something, and then afterwards realize you shouldn't have? This was our fate today.

Kyra & I met our friends, Amanda & Klaire for a play date, and because we were meeting at a Starbucks within walking distance of a pond, we decided to walk around the pond after grabbing our coffee. I also thought I was being the most wonderful mommy ever, because I remembered to bring bread to feed the ducks!!!

We're walking, the sun is shining, and the conversation is good. We noticed lots of evidence of ducks, but not the ducks themselves, which seemed kind of odd. So we continued walking, and then decided to stop for a minute to see if we could find the ducks. At that moment we looked across the pond, and swimming towards us are between 5-7 ducks. Hurray!

I get Kyra out of her stroller, take the bread out of the bag, and I kid you not, I am ATTACKED by these ducks. They are literally rushing me. So I throw a big piece of bread behind them, back into the water, hoping it will distract them. Only 1 or 2 of them fall for that old trick. The rest look at me, as if to say, "How dumb do you think we are? We know you have a whole bag of bread left!", and start advancing on me.

Kyra is just standing there petrified, and Amanda is saying, "What's wrong with those ducks? I've never seen ducks act like that before!" Then I mistakenly gave Kyra a piece of bread to throw at the ducks. Apparently she was too slow, because one brazen hussy of a duck literally came up and grabbed it out of her hand!! I'm just glad she (Kyra) didn't get hurt, because I probably would have drop-kicked that duck across the pond and then gotten a huge fine from the PETA people.

Anyway, we quickly ran out of bread, so I put Kyra back in the stroller, and we kept walking. It wasn't until we were almost to the far side of the pond that I noticed this little sign posted by the water. Its general message was something like this, "I know it's fun to feed the ducks. However it really messes their systems up, so please don't."

In my defense, we were having a very enjoyable conversation, and I guess my focus wasn't on all the pond signage, all around the pond. Oops! I guess that also explains why those ducks were so aggressive, as I would bet most good people obey the signs...

So, Kyra, I publicly apologize for leading you astray--Next time I promise Mommy will read the signs...


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A Night at the Airport

Katie and I were chatting the other day, and she asked me if my folks had gotten home okay from their Cruisin' Europe trip, as she'd expected me to have blogged about it.

Am I that predictable??


Truth be told, I had filed their "picking up from the airport" doings away for a future post, and had written about some other things.

So now, after they've been home for over a week, without further adieu, "the airport post" :-)

Their flight was to come in from Seattle at 10:10pm, so it made the most sense for me to go to the airport to pick them up---I'm the night owl in our family.

I made really good time getting to the airport, as there was no traffic at that time of night. I had brought a book, and expected to sit in the cell phone waiting area & read until they called. However, I was a bit tired, and decided to park the car, go in & get some coffee, and then read inside--it made sense to pay the extra $ to park the car, if it helped me to stay awake driving home.

Coffee People was still open, so I got a small coffee, and found my way to the waiting area by the security gates. I was stunned to see so many people at the airport, that late at night, and on a Monday! The waiting area was packed, and the crowd standing near the incoming passenger lane was 3 & 4 people deep. I wasn't too worried, however, as I was able to find a seat, and knew I had at least an hour before they were to arrive.

If you've ever spent any amount of time at the airport, you know it's a great place to observe people. Between the alarming number of young ones, who insisted on launching themselves on & off of the chair next to me--"why aren't they in bed?" I asked myself..., and the constant parade of interesting people, my book just couldn't compete.

Tell me, what would possess a person to fly in 4-inch heels??? Are you attending a stiletto convention in the sky? I would just love to see you have to run for your flight in those, without breaking your ankle...

And then there was this disheveled guy who looked like he was carrying everything he owned, just wandering around the terminal. Once he stopped a passing TSA agent, and it was just like in the movies when you see a guy on the street slyly approach someone, and say, under his breath, "You wanna buy a watch?"--I don't think he was selling watches, but it was too strange!!

The highlight of my evening though, other than when my parents arrived, was watching this one little girl (about 5 yrs old) greet her mom who had just come home. When she saw her appear in the crowd of people making their way to the baggage claim, she tore her hand out of her dad's grip, ran as fast as she could, jumped into her Mom's outstretched arms, shouting, "Mommy, Mommy, Mommy!" Her mom then smothered her with tons of hugs & kisses, and held her tight.

Absolutely priceless. I literally teared up, right there in the middle of the airport! And although I didn't yell, "Mommy, Mommy" when my parents showed up, I secretly wanted to.

Oh to be young again, and not worried about what people will think about you...

P.S. They had a great time on their trip, but were absolutely exhausted, and all they wanted to do was sleep, sleep, sleep.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Where are your manners?

It might look like I'm piggybacking on Janet's post about holding the door open, but I've actually had this one in the back of my mind for a while now :-)

It seems like these days the use of simple manners, or even common courtesy is more a rarity, than the norm. Folks are in such a terrible "hurry", that they often "forget" how to be polite. And don't even expect to be let in, when we're all stopped in traffic, even if you have the "right-of-way". That is bound to inconvenience someone else, so forget about it!

So what has happened to our society? When did we become so "me, me, me"? Even the small act of saying, "You're welcome" when someone says, "Thank you", has seemed to disappear from our vocabulary.

To prove this point, a local radio station recently did an experiment to see what kind of response they would get when they said, "Thank you". They called 10 local businesses, asked where they were located, and then pointedly and cheerfully said, "Thank you." Only 4 of the 10 responded by saying, "You're welcome". The most popular response was, "Uh huh", with "No problem" and "thanks" close behind. The worst were a couple of the businesses that simply hung up without even saying goodbye! Now that's customer service.

Here's a challenge: In your conversations in the next few weeks, listen to what you say, and the others around you, when someone says, "Thanks". I think you'll be amazed at how absent "You're welcome" is...

All for bringing "You're welcome" back,

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Sweets for the Sweet :-)

Fall is definitely here, and that means pumpkin season is right around the corner!!!

Although I'm not normally a big fan of eating anything pumpkin, I have to admit, these Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars are to die for.

The recipe actually came from a local real estate agent, who included it with her monthly newsletter, so I don't know its original source...

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars


1 cup flour
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
5 tablespoons soft butter/margarine
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts (I leave these out as I'm allergic to them)
8 oz cream cheese
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon allspice
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup Libby's pumpkin (solid pack)
2 Eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine flour & brown sugar in medium bowl. Cut in butter/margarine to make crumb mixture (reserve 3/4 cup for topping). Press remaining mixture into bottom of 8 x 8 pan. Pat down & bake for 15 minutes. Cool. Combine remaining ingredients in large bowl. Beat until fairly smooth and pour over baked crust. Sprinkle with reserved crumb topping. Bake 30-35 minutes. Cool & refrigerate overnight. Cut & serve.

Just a note: I brought these to our family Thanksgiving one year, and they were the first dessert gone, even faster than the pies!


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Come read with me

Every Tuesday morning, one or more of our local library branches has Storytime for the younger set, and this has quickly become one of Kyra's favorite past times.

Last week the newest library in the Washington County group held their first story time to begin at 10:30am. They also weren't sure how well-attended it would be, so they opened it to all ages, from birth to pre-school.

Well it was so popular, that by 10:15, you could hardly find an empty spot on the story rug. Moms & kids were packed in like sardines. In fact, I overheard a mom afterwards on her cell phone saying, "Ack! I made the mistake of dropping by the library this morning, and they were holding storytime. There must be like 500 kids here!" Obviously a slight exaggeration, but there were a lot of bodies in a pretty small space.

We happened to get there a little early, so were able to snag a spot on the rug, near the far book shelves. Although this was good because we could see & hear everything, the nearness of all those books, just begging to be pulled off the shelf, was a little too tempting for Kyra.

As you can see in the picture below from their website, Kyra ultimately caved to the draw of the books. Every other child is at least facing in the direction of the story teller, while our daughter has her back completely turned away from her (she's the one on the far right, with the dark hair, by the book shelves--sorry about the smallness of the picture. I couldn't make it any bigger without losing the resolution).

So, maybe she's a little young yet, for organized story time, but it gets us a chance to get out, meet other moms with kids around her age, and she does love books. And regardless of how much she actually "learns", her great-grandmother, who was a librarian, would be so pleased!

I will leave you with words by a famous doctor, from one of Kyra's favorite books:
Left foot, left foot, right foot, right. Feet in the day, and feet in the night.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Here comes the sun...

Although we still have a couple days left of official summer, the weather is feeling & looking more like fall every day. And with fall in the Pacific NW, you never know what kind of weather you're gonna get, even on the same day: rain, sun, rain/sun mixed, all clouds, etc.

The other day was a perfect example of this. We woke up to clouds & overcast skies, but then partway through the day, the sun came out. Then the clouds took over again, and no more sun.

So Kyra & I are playing in her room, and the sun goes behind a cloud. She looks outside, looks at me, and says in a very demanding voice, "Sun back on, Mommy!", as if I had the magic ability to turn the sun off & on. I said, "Oh, honey. You'll have to talk to Jesus about that. He's the one that controls the sun, not Mommy." That seemed to satisfy her, and soon enough, the sun came back out, and she gleefully shouted, "Oh look!!!! Sun back on!"

Loving the simple things in life,

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Bon Appetit! Culinary Delight Take 2

By popular demand, here's an easy main dish that I think will make your tummies very happy :-)

It's another delicious recipe from Epicurious with our own special tweaks.

Easy Chicken Cacciatore
Serves 4


4 bone-in chicken breasts, skin removed

Marinara Sauce (you could use bottled spaghetti sauce, but the recipe below for sauce is so easy, and homemade tastes so much better!)

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, sliced
1 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1 28-ounce can tomatoes, chopped, juices reserved
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil, crumbled
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

To make marinara sauce: Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add onion; saute until tender, about 10 minutes. Add garlic; saute 1 minute. Add mushrooms and crushed red pepper; saute until mushrooms just begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and reserved juices. Cover and simmer 15 minutes. Add tomato sauce, sugar, basil and oregano. Cover and cook 15 minutes. Uncover and simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Place chicken in 13x9 inch baking pan. Pour marinara sauce over chicken. Cover with foil, and bake for 1 1/2 hours.

We like to serve this over spaghetti, though any kind of pasta would work. Pair it with a nice green salad, and enjoy!


So many to choose from...

It's Thursday, and once again, it's time for the weekly culinary delight posting. However, I'd like to get some feedback from my readers before I continue.

Remembering back to last week's post: How was the format? Was it easy to follow? Would you like a rating system, i.e. so easy, that anyone that can make toast, can make it, or you need to be a chef to take this on?

And finally, what "category" would you like to see today, i.e. Main dish, dessert, salad/side dish, appetizer, etc.?

I wait for your requests :-)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

If Trees could talk...

Our next door neighbors are the proud caretakers of an immense old oak tree that although stately and magnificent, unfortunately provides us with minimal shade & lots of debris in the fall :-(

Today, that tree, along with its neighbor, an equally impressive oak tree, are both getting much-needed haircuts to trim up all their excess limbs & dead branches. In fact, as I'm sitting here writing, chainsaws are revving, limbs are falling and every once in awhile, a big crash, which leaves me cringing...

Our morning began when a gentleman in a bright orange T-shirt & hardhat, appeared in our backyard, and starting rigging up ropes & harnesses. I opened the sliding door, and was told, "Please stay in the house today. We'll do everything we can to protect your house & yard, but it's safest if you stay indoors."

OK then. I'm not sure our poor old fence can handle many direct blows, but maybe it's time to replace it anyway...

What I find really interesting is how long that tree has been around, to be as tall as it is (we've estimated it's over 6o feet tall!), and as expansive. A recent publication of our neighborhood newspaper, the Oak Hills Oracle, quoted one oak tree owner as saying their tree was over 250 years old!!!

250 years. That would mean it was planted in 1757!!! To put that year in perspective, I'll give you a little history: In 1757 Alexander Hamilton of the Hamilton-Burr duel, was 2 years old. The French & Indian War had been raging for 3 years. The Boston Tea Party wouldn't happen for another 16 years, with the Declaration of Independence 3 years past that! And the land this tree sits on would not even become a state until 102 years later, in 1859.

Wow! That's some life story. And assuming we continue to take care of it, with regular groomings, etc., and make sure it doesn't get diseased, and we don't have an act of God, like an earthquake or lightning strike, it should easily stand for another 250 years~~in fact, the oldest oak tree on record is over 1400 years old!!! Now that's old.

Feeling rather young and hoping our homeowners insurance is paid up :-)

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Slime shooters anyone?

Some of you may already know this, but it was a not-so-nice revelation for us, and I thought I'd share, to save you from the same fate.

Like most kids, Kyra loves bath time, and often is accompanied by so many toys, she can hardly move around in the tub. One of the toys she really likes is actually a set of rubber animals, that when you fill them with water, they squirt a stream of water about a foot or so. They also come in their own mesh storage bag so you can drip dry & "drain" them. This is a great concept, and like I said before, Kyra loves them.

However, last night we found out that they're not so good in the draining department. Even when you think you've squeezed every last drop out of them, before putting them away, they still seem to be able to maintain a little left inside. And as water does, when it gets to puddle up with its friends, a little light & warmth, a new friend emerges: mildew, or in this case, a nasty brownish-green slime.

And then unsuspecting parent takes slime-filled rubber toy, fills it with water, and proceeds to squirt brown/green slime all over her child. As we're not guest celebrities on Nickelodeon, the slime-shooters had to go, straight into the nearest garbage can. Of course, we had to wait until Kyra wasn't looking. Otherwise, all you-know-what would have broken loose, as we had some nerve throwing away her precious toys!

There you have it. And now that I think about it, I suspect this phenomenon doesn't limit itself to just bath toys. So unless you're wanting to add this element to your water fights, I'd check your water pistols & guns before you start. Otherwise, you may find yourself pretty unpopular, pretty quick.

Happy Saturday, friends~

Thursday, September 6, 2007

This week's Culinary Delight

I've decided to start a new post series, since I'm always looking for new recipes to try, and I'm sure I'm not alone :-)

Every Thursday (nothing special about Thursdays, it's just the day--today--when I came up with the idea:-) I'll share one of my favorite recipes with you, my faithful readers. It may be a main dish, it may be a dessert, who knows???

Most of these recipes I've found on the Internet, so I'll try to credit the original source if I can. Although I've heard if you change or add just one ingredient, or add a different way to cook it, then it's no longer "protected"--Karen, correct me on the copyright issues, if I'm wrong...

So, without further adieu, here's today's culinary delight:

Beef & Bean Burritos
originally from


1 pound lean ground beef
1 onion, chopped
6 large garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tsp dried cilantro
red pepper flakes to taste
2 15-ounce cans black or pinto beans, rinsed, drained
1 14 1/2 ounce can beef or chicken broth
1 4-ounce can diced green chilies
4 green onions, sliced

Warm flour tortillas--the size of tortillas will determine how many burritos you'll have. We prefer the smaller ones, because you can eat more of them :-)
Grated cheese (your choice--we like Monterey Jack or Cheddar)
sour cream

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Heat heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef and cook until brown, breaking up beef with fork, about 6 minutes. Add chopped onion and garlic and cook until onion is transparent, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Stir in cumin, cilantro & red pepper flakes and cook 1 minute. Add beans, broth & chilies and cook until beans are creamy and thickened, crushing beans with back of spoon, about 15 minutes. Mix in green onions.

Take warm flour tortilla & lay flat on plate. Put meat & bean filling in middle, cover with cheese, and fold up tortilla, burrito-style. Assemble the rest of the tortillas, and place in 13x9 inch baking pan, which has been lightly coated with cooking spray to prevent sticking. Sprinkle burritos with more cheese, and a few dollops of sour cream. Cover pan with aluminum foil, and bake for 30 minutes~~cheese should be bubbly.

This is a very forgiving and flexible recipe. We've also used leftover chicken or pulled pork for the meat part, which cuts down on prep time. The best part is you don't even need to heat it as it will get warm enough in the oven. Just make up the rest of the filling and add the meat when assembling.

I hope you enjoy these--they are definitely one of our favorite dishes, and so easy to make!

Happy Thursday, friends!

P.S. If you have a recipe you want to share, please feel free to email me at or just post it in the comments.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Just a little Kindness...

Kyra & I went to Costco today--it seems we go every week now, as we are always running out of something, and never all at once...Grrr!

Anyway, today was without our faithful companion, my dear mom :-(, as she's still cruisin' Europe. Often times if I know we need to go to Costco, I'll call my mom & see if she also needs to go. That way we can save gasoline, which is good for the old environment, and I just like having her along--the company's great, and she's also a big help with Kyra.

So, I'm pulling into the parking lot, someone steals the spot I was heading for, which was right by the cart return--again Grrr!, and I end up parking near the door, but not near any cart returns. You moms out there will know what I'm talking about--the value of parking next to the cart returns~~less walking for the child, or less carrying of said child, the better.

We drop a small fortune at Costco, and then make our way out to the car. Normally, at this point, my Mom would take Kyra out of the cart, and get her situated in her car seat, while I unloaded the cart & then returned it to the cart return place.

As we're flying solo today, I start by resting the cart up against the back of the car as we were parked on a slight incline, and then put Kyra in her seat. I then left Kyra's door open so she wouldn't roast to death, and started unloading all the stuff into the back of the car. Costco has not helped me today, as I asked for boxes for all of the "loose" stuff, and they gave me 1 box, count it, 1! Plus, Kyra's Pack & Play was still in the back from Sunday at Grandma's, and the stroller, too, so there's not a lot of spare room.

But I'm doing okay, and just about to grab the last thing from the cart, when I must have bumped the cart the wrong way, because it started rolling backwards into the lane behind me. I quickly grabbed it, before either it or myself got hit, and put the last thing in the back.

Just at that moment, an older gentleman who was heading into Costco came up to me and said, "Can I take that cart back for you?". I sighed with relief, and said, "Thank you so much. I was just going to ask if you would." I don't normally do that, but I figured if I looked pathetic enough, maybe someone would take pity on me...

I got into the car, and before I backed out, I looked towards the store. The kind gentleman who had helped me, went way above & beyond, because he did exactly what he said: he took the cart back for me. I fully expected him to just take it as his, and go on into the store. Instead, he returned it to the cart area, and then proceeded to grab one of the flatbed carts for his purchases.

He had no need for my cart. He just recognized my need for some help, and acted on it, in a very unselfish way.

Who says there aren't decent people still left in the world?

Feeling very grateful,

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Our Labor Day Weekend

It's been a couple days since my last post, so I thought I'd get caught up:

Friday evening: My debris-blowing neighbor is fine, with no acrobatic exits from his roof, that day.

Saturday morning: Took my wonderful parents to the airport for their "Cruising Europe" trip, and cried like a little girl when we had to say goodbye. It was weird, because this is not the first time they've been gone for an extended trip. So I was trying to figure out why I was so emotional this time around, and I guess it was because they are all but unreachable for 2 1/2 weeks. Their traveling companion has international cell phone coverage but it's for emergencies only. And they're not the type of "addicted" people who would check their email (or a blog!) while on vacation. SO, for 2 1/2 long weeks, no parental interaction. This from someone who finds it somewhat strange if she doesn't talk to her mom at least every other day...

Here's a picture of my folks right before we left for the airport:

Saturday afternoon: Went shopping with my buddy, Diane, to find a dress for the wedding--even tried on the same cute red dress at Ann Taylor that Laura had, but alas it didn't fit :-( Did find a really cute dress at Macy's, and then of course, had to find shoes to match--hello Nordstrom's Rack!~~By the way, the picture of David & I at the top of the page is from the wedding, and I'm wearing the dress I found.

Sunday morning: Drove Kyra to her other grandparents' house (David's folks) who were to watch her as he & I were driving up to my cousin John's wedding in Union, Washington.

A little history here: My side of the family is quite small, as my Dad's only brother & his wife have no children. My Mom also has only one sibling, her brother. He & his first wife only had 2 boys, so when my sister & I were growing up, it was just us 4 cousins.

And as most extended families go, as you get older, you typically only see each other at holidays, weddings & funerals. Subsequently, I believe the last time I saw John was 5 years ago at our grandma's memorial service.

Anyway, when we got the Save-the-date notice in the mail last June, we thought it might be fun to drive up for the day, and this was a Happy occasion :-) to get together.

We gave ourselves plenty of time to get there, as you never know what Labor Day weekend traffic catastrophe can occur, and arrived around 2pm--the ceremony was at 4:30 with dinner & dancing afterwards.

The wedding site, the Alderbrook Spa & Resort, was this absolutely beautiful place, right on the waterfront. I knew it was supposed to be "fancy-schmancy", because I'd looked it up ahead of time, on their website, and also saw that it's not cheap to stay there. So, here I am, expecting beautiful million-dollar lake houses, picturesque scenery and the wildlife in tuxedos.

We pull off Hwy 101, onto SR 106, and I thought, "Have we taken a wrong turn? How could a resort like that be down this way?" What I didn't realize is part of SR 106 goes through a kind of depressed area before you hit the vacation homes part. Maybe it's different coming from the other direction???

Here are some pictures of the resort--I apologize for the grayness of some of them--it really was a nice day, although a little overcast, and I didn't realize I needed the flash:

if you click on the picture to enlarge it,
you'll see, off to the left, where they got married--
where all the white chairs are

An interesting note: right next to where they were to get married, was the outdoor bar. Normally this wouldn't be a problem, but about 20 minutes before the ceremony was to begin, a lounge lizard announced he would be the entertainment for the afternoon, and proceeded to sing & play a ukelele, all while being accompanied by tracks. This is literally spitting distance from the ceremony site. Although he wasn't half-bad, I'm sure this isn't what they had counted on for wedding music! Also, another family member was to play some nice prelude music while the guests were being seated...

Luckily, said lounge lizard made a little speech, after one of his tunes, saying, "Apparently there's a wedding here in a couple minutes (DUH!), so I'll be taking a short break, and then I'll be back!"

My uncle, who is a judge in Reedsport, performed the ceremony, although he had to get special certification to be able to "practice" in Washington. He tried to play the "visiting judge" card, but they wouldn't go for it, so he went to Rose Ministries online, and for only $39.95, he can now do weddings in 46 states (for some reason, Nevada is not one of them--might we say they're worried about cutting into their business???). Just like Joey on Friends, who became an ordained minister online. Too funny!

Anyway, the ceremony was very sweet, the weather held--there was a slight chance of rain, and then on to the food!!! Alderbrook has amazing food! In fact, one of my family members, who is very into food, said, "This is the best wedding buffet food I've ever eaten!" The appetizers served out on the lawn included huge crab legs, chilled jumbo shrimp, oysters on the half shell, cheese, crackers, fruit and a seafood pasta salad.

Then on to dinner, where they had another buffet filled with 3 kinds of salad, rolls, potatoes, salmon fillets, chicken breasts & beef medallions, and then cake, wonderful cake!!! They also showed a great slide show~~Windows of course, as they both work for Microsoft :-), and then after their first dance as husband & wife, the mother/son dance & the father/daughter dance, everyone got to dance. And they actually had a real band, who were quite good, instead of the typical DJ with his/her mp3s. And I have to say, I got up and danced with the groom, although the family I married into, doesn't dance, as a general rule~~I had to include that for David's sake, hee hee!

All in all, we had a fabulous time and Kyra did really well at Grandma & Grandpa's~~she even stayed over night as we knew we'd be back really late Sunday night. The only really scary thing happened when we were driving home from the wedding. We were on that same SR106, and it was really dark. All of a sudden, out of nowhere, this crazy woman appeared right in front of us~~well, I don't know for certain that she was crazy, but I don't know any sane person who would just jump out in front of a car. Luckily David was able to slam on his brakes to avoid hitting her. Otherwise, we'd probably still be up there, while they sorted everything out--What is with people?

I'll leave you with some more pictures of the wedding--By the way, yesterday (Monday), was pretty quiet--a little yard work (for Labor Day!), and just hanging out.

my cousin, Noah, my cousin, John (the groom), his new wife, Cait,
and her sister, Bridget
The family
Dancing the night away

Blessings friends,