Sunday, July 31, 2011

Saying Farewell

It threatened to rain on our little farewell gathering for Luke today. And even though the weather was hot and humid, we enjoyed the shade under the deck and all went well. Plenty of friends, family, food...that's about all that is required. Oh, and did I mention that Luke did a terrific job on his talk in church? Well, yes he did.

It was a nice relaxed afternoon.

We had all three sibs...or as my husband likes to refer to them, the fruitlets of his loins. He's silly...but they ARE a handsome bunch.

The honoree...

 ...his sister and brother-in-law ... and nephew on the way...

His older brother...

...pulling faces... I think he learned that from his granny... she's the master at that.

 Mr. Blue Bug who did a little aerial acrobatic show for us...

And just as the party was over, a huge rockin' thunder storm moved in...and then moved on. The air is fresh and clean. And all is well at our house.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Which Came First? The Cookie or the Egg?*

Which really DID come first? The cookie or the egg? Ahhhh, who cares? But here's a sweet treat for you that does require an egg!

Nanaimo Bars - a Canadian favorite. 
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup white sugar
5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 egg, beaten
1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds (optional)
Custard layer:
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons custard powder (I used instant vanilla pudding mix instead)
2 cups confectioners' sugar
"Icing"'s not really icing but rather a layer of chocolate on top:
4 (1 ounce) squares semisweet baking chocolate
2 teaspoons butter

1. In the top of a double boiler, combine 1/2 cup butter, white sugar and cocoa powder. Stir occasionally until melted and smooth. Beat in the egg, stirring until thick, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and mix in the graham cracker crumbs, coconut and almonds (if you like). Press into the bottom of an ungreased 8x8 inch pan.
2. For the middle layer, cream together 1/2 cup butter, heavy cream and custard powder until light and fluffy. Mix in the confectioners' sugar until smooth. Spread over the bottom layer in the pan. Chill to set.
3. While the second layer is chilling, melt the semisweet chocolate and 2 teaspoons butter together in the microwave or over low heat. Spread over the chilled bars. Let the chocolate set before cutting into squares.
It's not a very hard recipe...just a little time consuming to make. It's super super rich...a little goes a LONG way!

*my Saturday Centus for this week...the recipe comes from

Friday, July 29, 2011

Getting It All Out of Your System...

Five days and counting...

He's one funny guy. Gonna miss his antics.

Good Sons

While we're on the subject of missionaries, let me tell you about another one. While not officially my son, I think of Ryan as part of my extended family and even like a son. We recently asked him to speak at a youth conference, and without hesitating, he said yes.

Were he to introduce himself, he would say he's an ordinary Joe, a stats nerd at BYU who happened to serve a mission and play some sports. But since I got to introduce him, I got to paint a little more accurate picture of who he is. Ryan was the US national rugby player of the year this past year. He was selected for the all-American traveling team this summer. He served a two year full-time mission in Romania, where he learned to speak the language fluently. He's not really a nerd, but he is studying statistics, a subject that most people stay as far away from as possible. He's smart, kind, funny, humble, selfless, a great athlete, a powerful leader and many more things.

I'm grateful for these fine young men who are great examples of how to live a good life and who are good sons. What a joy they are.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

One Week Countdown

I could just show you the irrigation ditch I mentioned yesterday (I still think it's pretty and thought I'd give it one more chance to be photographed) or the horse grazing happily in the meadow next to it, but there's something else on my mind.

One week from today we'll be making that seemingly endless drive to the Missionary Training Center in Provo where we'll drop off Lucas to begin his two year mission to Edmonton Canada for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Lucas is an amazing young man. I don't think I could write all the ways in which he has impressed me, but let me try to capture a few. First off, he's genuinely pleasant to be around. He's very even keeled and positive. I can't say I've ever really seen him in a funk or mean or nasty, even when he's had ample reason to be that way.  Second, he's always helpful - he does dishes without being asked, clears the table, sets the table, compliments the cook (ah, yes that would mostly be me) and offers to help with whatever he thinks might be needed. Third, he's far more mature in his thinking and demeanor than one might expect of a 19 year-old, and at the same time he definitely knows how to have a good time.  He knows the difference between right and wrong and when someone is yanking his chain. I admire his resolve in doing what's right, even when it's not popular or easy. And fourth through whatever, he's creative, smart, funny, serious, committed, kind, thoughtful, unselfish, determined, etc etc etc.  One thing for sure, I'm going to miss having him around, and so will his dad.

  Without him, we'd have had a hard time making as much progress on the garage/studio. He was right there, eager to help tilt up the walls and set the roof beams. I wish I had a photo of him rappelling off the walls as he waited for his dad to cut the beams. You'll have to imagine it for yourself.

Yup, we're going to miss that guy, with his dirt biking, snow boarding, and all the other things he does. We'll miss his great friends who've been regulars in our home. We'll miss the puppies' excitement whenever he comes home. We'll miss his laughter, good humor and his great spirit. 

I think it's only just beginning to set in how much we're going to miss him, especially his dad who knows he has a kindred spirit in Luke, his youngest child.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Doing What I Do

Yesterday I whined and complained about not getting out and shooting. Today I should probably whine about not getting any work done, but I won't. Suffice it to say that I did get out and shoot.

 My first stop was to photograph a pretty little irrigation ditch I pass on my morning runs. It's lined with daisies and looks fresh and peaceful. I brought my knee-high rubber boots so I could stand in the middle of the stream to shoot it. (I keep them in the car just for times like this). When I stepped into the stream I immediately sunk up to my ankles in the soft mud and probably would have kept sinking had I not changed my mind. Thus I decided that this stream didn't really need to be photographed after all. I shot the barn next to it instead.

 Thimbleberries...we had these growing wild behind my childhood home. They have huge velvety leaves. Each plant has only a few berries on it, so it was a race to see who could get the ripe ones first. They grow wild behind our house here, but this is the first and only one I've seen with a ripe berry on it.

The other subject I had in mind to shoot was these popcorn ball looking flowers. There's a patch of them on the historical pioneer trail that runs behind our property. I've never seen them anywhere else. I was hoping that neither the bear nor the cougar that had been seen in the area were awake and hungry. My husband assured me that I was safe to hike up there during the day. (I don't sense that he's in any hurry to get rid of me, so I figured it was OK...and happily, it was).