Sunday, July 31, 2011

Waiting For A Baby. . .

About two and a half years ago, I flew to Colorado Springs to witness the birth of our first grandchild, Carly Amelia, who was born to our daughter Camille and her husband Dave. Last January, I was privileged to be at the hospital when our daughter in law gave birth to our second grand child, Enoch Wesley.

And tomorrow I am heading back to Colorado for the arrival of yet another grandbaby . . . a little boy yet to be named.

Camille isn't due until Saturday, so I was going to fly out on Thursday, but when I went to purchase my ticket, I had the feeling I should go on Monday, so I bought it for then. I guess now we will see if my inspiration is correct. :-)

I am very excited, and nervous, and worried.

Camille's last baby came via an emergency c-section. This time she is trying for an all natural birth so that makes me a little nervous. But on the other hand, I am so eager to meet this little guy I can hardly stand it!!!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wedding Reception Advice (Since Now Of Course I Am An Expert:-)

While still waiting for pictures from the photographer, I wanted to post some things I learned about wedding receptions this past month. Here is some of my best advice after two weddings.

1. Have a Theme
Of course this isn't necessary, but it does make decorating easier--or at least gives it direction. Since it was July in Arizona, being outside was not a possibility, so Kristen wanted to bring the outdoors inside with a garden theme. We collected a lot of plants and flowers from friends and neighbors to use and for the centerpieces we painted ceramic flower pots blue and filled them with fresh daisies. (This was just a picture where I was testing out the colors.)

We also incorporated the theme into the dessert bar. She wanted to have an ice cream sundae bar, so I covered a renovated cupcake stand in moss, and used plant pots to put the ice cream toppings. Her infamous cake sat on top. (Which we do not have a picture of right now.)

2. Make it Personal
I wanted there to be something about the reception that really made it personal to Kristen and Peter. True there were many things that reflected their personalities--we served Pizza and salad, (Kristen's favorite food) along with Peter's favorite punch and had a live string quartet instead of CD's and a disc jockey--but I wanted something more.

So incorporating the garden theme with Kristen's school teaching, we asked her third grade class for marriage advice (that you can read here). My friend Jenny then wrote the advice on canvas boards and another friend, Sonia, turned them into cute garden signs that we placed around the cultural hall. This turned out to be really fun as many guests walked around the room reading them all.

3. Have a Fun Exit Plan
I think it is nice to have a fun way to send off the newlyweds, plus give closure to the reception. My friend, Susan, removed the petals from fresh flowers and all the guests showered her daughter and husband with them as they left the wedding venue. I have also known people to light sparklers, and of course there is the throwing of rice or bird seed.

Being inside a church building, our options were limited. I also didn't want anything I would have to spend a lot of time cleaning up. In the end we chose to make luminaries for the guests.

We used small white paper bags that were trimmed down to about only four inches tall. We punched holes in each side and tied a ribbon through the holes to make a handle, decorated one side with paper daisies that we cut from yellow card stock and then taped a lit battery-powered tea candle to the bottom. (The batteries last for hours so you can turn them all on far in advance.)

At the end of the reception, we turned off the main lights and had all the guests line up in two columns, forming a path from the front of the cultural hall to the lobby. Each guest held up his or her luminary to make a lighted path for the bride and groom to pass as they began their life together. And then everyone cheered for them as they walked through the path.

I loved the symbolism of this. And clean up was easy.

4. Have a Wedding Coordinator for the Reception.
I asked a wedding coordinator what her best advice was and she told me to have a coordinator for at least the reception. I know that sounds exactly what you would expect a coordinator to say, but it turned out to truly be the best advice I received.

My friend Sonia accepted that responsibility. She is very detail oriented and a stickler for schedules so I was confident she would do a great job. And she did. In addition to handling any questions that came up from the many other wonderful friends helping out that night, and any problems that arose, Sonia got the musicians playing when it was time, made sure the young girls who were clearing tables stayed on top of their job, added more chairs when we ran out of tables, coordinated with the Emcee when it was time to cut the cake, etc., made sure Kristen had her tossing bouquet at the right time and handed out the luminaries at the end of the reception.

I didn't have to worry about anything. I just got to sit back and enjoy the reception. It was great!!

5. Looking for Material? There are many websites that sell ready made table cloths for a great price, but Kristen had her heart set on polka dots so I went on a search for fabric.(And then my good friend Lisa turned it into darling table cloths!) While searching, I found two wonderful websites for fabric. One is called . Another is . It really has just about anything you might want and you can search by color or pattern.

What I would Do Differently
1. We used the church cultural hall,which I am never excited about, but still it turned out beautifully. However, while at the reception I just saw the decorations, when I look at pictures afterward I just see the walls and that has been very disappointing to me. I think if I have to use the cultural hall again I will definitely tent it. Another option, that might be less expensive is to use all the partitions available and just drape gathered material over them and use them as backdrops all over the room. We did this in a couple places, but I wish I did more.

And since I still have two more weddings to go . . . I am interested in any advice anyone else out there might have to offer. Please, share!!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Georgia On My Mind . . .

We just got back late last night from a quick trip to Georgia where we attended an open house in honor of Kristen and Peter's wedding.

Lucky for us, Wes has both a brother and a sister who live there, so we received the royal treatment during our stay and had a great time visiting family.

His sister lives in a wonderful neighborhood. Many of the houses look like they came straight from the story books of my childhood. And the thick woods surrounding the houses seem so magical during the day, and almost eerie when you drive through them at night.
(The loud sounds from the tree frogs don't help that eeriness, I must say)

Being from the Arizona desert, looking out her back window to this beautiful, lush view was quite a treat.
While in town, we wanted to soak up some of the local culture, so we made a quick stop at The Varsity, a very popular restaurant in downtown Atlanta, adjacent to Georgia Tech, that specializes in healthy foods like chili cheese dogs, onion rings and orange freezes. This is a really bad picture (my husband took it very quickly) but I got such a kick out of the "tables" which were actually school desks!
We also had to make a quick run by "The Flying Biscuit" for a snack. We got a buttermilk biscuit and apple butter that was delicious!! (The picture is of Wes and his sister, who served as our Tour Guide Extraordinaire)
And in case you were wondering . . . we also ate some southern fried chicken! (Of course)

But our trip wasn't all about the food. We also had a little adventure. We decided to take a tour around downtown Atlanta on segways!!

Here Wes is practicing before we headed out across town.

And here is the three of us near the end of our three hour tour. The segways were a lot of fun and much easier to ride than I had anticipated. You only use the handlebars for steering. To move forward you just gently move your weight to the balls of your feet, to move backward you put your weight on your heels and to stop, you center your weight. That is it!

But as we scurried up hills in the humidity and heat, we did have a lot of fellow tourists give us envious looks. Seriously--I would look for this kind of tour in any city from now on!

And then of course, we also attended the wedding celebration at Peter's parent's house. They have a beautiful home in northern Georgia and just getting there was an adventure--due to bad traffic and gorgeous scenery.

Here they are greeting some of their guests.
We had a good showing from our family as well. Below are two of my nieces who made the drive up. Brittany (r) also brought along her two little boys.
Wes' brother's family also came along with a surprise--Aunt Celeste and Uncle Vaughn. In this picture is Sunny, Lexie and their mother Dawn (who is Wes' brother's wife-and yes, I know she looks like one of the girls rather than their 40 plus mother!!) And also on the right is my husband's Aunt Celeste.
She and her husband Vaughn totally surprised us by driving over from Kentucky!! Following the open house we went to their hotel and visited for about another hour and half.

And then of course we also got to spend a little time (and I mean very little) with the bride and groom who still appear happily married--after one entire week!
I am hoping to soon get up pictures of the wedding and reception in Arizona but I am waiting on the photographer. As soon as I get some though, I will post them.

And now we are back to our heat. I will have a little time at home before I head off to Colorado for the birth of our third grandchild!!

Life is good. And definitely brings . . . joy to my journey.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Summer Salads--Spinach and Teriyaki Bow Tie Pasta

Need a delicious pasta salad for dinner or a party? Here is a very good one I recently found. I have now made it three times and it was a hit every time!

  • 1 1/4 cups Honey Teriyaki Marinade
  • 1 12 oz box Bowtie Pasta
  • 1/3 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1/2 cup White Vinegar
  • 1/4 cupGranulated Sugar
  • ½ teaspoons Salt
  • 1 bag Baby Spinach
  • 1 cup Craisins
  • 2 small cans or one large can Mandarin Oranges
  • 1/2 cup Cashews

Cook pasta the night before serving. Place in container with 1/2 cup teriyaki sauce and let marinate over night. This gives the pasta a lot of flavor.

30 minutes before serving . . .
Mix cooked, marinated pasta with craisins, nuts and oranges. In a separate container mix together remaining teriyaki sauce, oil, vinegar, sugar and salt. Mix well. Use sauce to lightly coat the pasta mixture. Just before serving, add spinach and toss. Add more sauce if needed.

It is possible to make everything else way ahead of time and then add the spinach just before serving. If you add it sooner, however, it will wilt.

VARIATION--if you want a heartier meal, marinate three chicken breasts in teriyaki sauce for 30 minutes. Grill and add to salad.

Serves 6-8

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sweet Tales from the Wedding

After months of planning, and countless hours of work on the part of innumerable people, Kristen and Peter’s wedding went off beautifully. I didn’t take very many pictures as I was busy with so many other things, and we had a photographer, but I hope to post pictures when they become available.

In the meantime, here are a few random stories from our weekend that I wanted to be sure to share.

1. Miracles of Miracles!! There were two miracles I witnessed this past weekend. The first is that my back held up through all the work and stress. I have a bad back and usually when I am in a highly stressful situation, or having to do a lot of physical work, my back flares up and I end up flat down in bed. This time I didn't have any serious back problems until the very end of the reception. But even then I made it through all the clean up!! Truly a miracle.

The second miracle was the weather!! It has been very hot here in Phoenix--about 105-110 degrees and somewhat humid. However, on the day of the wedding, I walked outside early in the morning and felt COOL air!! We had some pictures taken around 7 and additional pictures afterward and we never felt terribly hot. It was such a blessing!!!

1. I #2. A League of Their Own. I had a vision for the reception and worked for several months to make it a reality. The day finally arrived for us to set up and while my husband and several others tackled the drop ceiling, I went to work with two friends to create a faux gazebo where the musicians would perform. Before going to the church, I put together a box with everything I could think of that might be needed. I had string, wire, wire cutters, scissors, duct tape etc. I was so pleased with myself for being so prepared and proudly displayed my box to my friends. Sonia Holmes looked in it and then asked, “Where's the chocolate?” A big oversight to be sure. But soon Sonia and Michelle Hill were pulling out screws, screwdrivers and ladders from their supplies, and I quickly realized I was out of my league on this one. I was so glad they were there, and even happier to leave the construction of the gazebo to their capable care. They both were awesome and stayed many hours making sure everything was perfect!!

And here is a little sneak preview of how it looked. This was taken before the centerpieces arrived but gives you a basic idea. The structure in the back is what Michelle and Sonia put together using Kristy's 8 foot posts and 5 gallon buckets.

#3. DIY to the Extreme! I really wish I had a picture of the wedding cake!! Kristen did not want to serve cake and she did not want to pay for an expensive cake that wasn’t going to be served. So, being the resourceful, thrifty person she is, she decided to make the cake herself—with fondant frosting. Now she had never used fondant before, but she had seen several you tube tutorials, so she felt perfectly qualified. Unfortunately the frosting was very hard, did not roll out well, and consequently was rather impossible to smooth over the cake. In some places there were folds, and in other places very noticeable gaps, leaving the chocolate cake exposed. No problem! Ribbon and silk flowers rushed to the rescue. Personally, I voted to throw it out and replace it with something from the store (especially when a pink substance started oozing from one of the gaps in the frosting), but Kristen insisted on putting it on display. (Much to my chagrin. :-)When it came time to cut the cake, they could barely get the knife through it, but in the end they did, each took a bite, and after the reception I happily threw the poor little cake into the garbage

#4. Secret Elves . . . I am so grateful to the many, many people who helped set up for the reception. They truly were a little army and did an amazing job. Wes and I worked from around noon to 4:30 but then had to leave to attend the wedding dinner—the night before the wedding. Our friends kept working, however, and when we returned around 9:30 there were only a few minor detail things that were left to do. Since we had an early day ahead of us, we went home around 10, leaving the mess from setting up in the cultural hall, with the plan to return after the wedding to clean it up. But when we returned the next day, we discovered that everything had been cleaned, the floor swept and the halls and lobby vacuumed!! I honestly started to cry. Thanks so much to the Carlini family and Doug Nelson for all their hard work!! It was very much appreciated. Thanks also to Doug for spending so many hours fixing the electrical problems so we could have all the lighting!!

4. And speaking of thanking people . . . thanks to Lisa Nelson for sewing the cute table cloths, Suzie Jones for the darling aprons, the entire Sheffield family who came to set up, Kristy Rose and family for the posts we used for the “gazebo”, as well as the lights for the ceiling, Jodi Poston for the plastic used for the ceiling, David and Vicky Goss for the backdrops, my daughter in law, Kali for the cute floral swag she made and the other decorations she borrowed from her cousin Becky Stone, Susan Hunter and Jenny Carlini for the food table display, Connie Purtymun for her table cloths, Bryan Purtymun for all of his help with the ceiling along with his son in law Andrew Darrow, Phyllis Leber for loaning me her chair covers, Matt Bullock for serving as Emcee, Jen Collins for the beautiful flowers used by the wedding party and Jackie McAfterty for the gorgeous centerpieces—as well as a thank you to all who helped set up, take down and donated greenery, cut up fruit in advance and served the food at the reception. Whew!!!! ( I have more thanking to do but will save it for other posts.)

It was a wonderful, beautiful day for our family, and there is no way we could have done it without all of your help!! How blessed we are to have you all in our lives!

We love you all!!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Change is in the air!

I have a new church calling!

I was recently asked to serve as the First Counselor in the YW Presidency in our ward.
In other words, I will be working with the 14 and 15 year old girls in our church.

I am very excited about this, although I will severely miss my Sunday School class of 16-18 year olds.

However the timing on this new assignment is a bit of a challenge.
True, with the ever present, all consuming wedding just a week away, starting something new is a bit difficult.
that isn't the hardest part.
What makes it harder is the Young Women's president, the Laurel advisor, and the Mia-Maid advisor are all out of town!


So what that means is that we are combining with the 16-17 year old girls for all the Sunday instruction and Wednesday night activities
I am pretty much alone to muddle through and try to figure it all out.
And tomorrow I am supposed to teach both Sunday School and YW!


The good news is I LOVE the youth!!
And I am so excited to be working with the young girls in our ward.

Just pray for me to get through this week!

Quotable Quotes: (Overheard at the grocery store) "Be young for as long as you can, because once you are old, you are old forever."

Thursday, July 7, 2011

So What Is a Haboob Anyway?

This is what we watched spread across the Phoenix skyline on Tuesday night.
It is called a Haboob

Photo courtesy Arizona Republic

Or in other words . . .
A powerful sandstorm caused when a thunderstorm collapses.
The intense winds then stir up loose sand as it travels across the ground.

This particular storm has been described as the most powerful in Phoenix over the past 100 years.
It reportedly was two miles high and traveled at speeds up to 60 miles an hour.

Pretty impressive, I must say.

And I almost missed it.

My daughter called from Colorado to tell me our storm was on their news. I asked, "What storm?" Then I looked out the front window and gasped. The storm was far in our distance, but we watched it travel about 20 miles in 20 minutes--completely engulfing everything in its path.

We were glad to be north of it and inside.
But storms like this and the fact that you can touch an outside doorknob at 7 in the morning and burn your hand
are good reasons why most of Arizona leaves town in July.

Which also doesn't make it the best time for a wedding.
But, the few people who remain in town should have a fun time when they come to Kristen's reception.

Only one more week to go!