Friday, August 28, 2009

Five for Friday--The Growing Big edition

1. A few years ago, when I was the compassionate service person in our ward, I started making up "welcome bags" for the new families that were moving into our ward...

I've still continued doing it even though I have a different calling now. I love putting these bags together and since we've had several new families move into our ward recently, welcome bags have been on my brain...

Here is what I've been including in each one...

  • Hershey bars--(Hershey, Pa)
  • Pretzels--(did you know that Pennsylvania is the pretzel capital of the world?--the hard pretzel came into existence in 17th century Pennsylvania when a baker's apprentice fell asleep while pretzels were baking. When the Master Baker was about to throw out the "hard pretzels" he decided to taste them first. He liked them so much that he decided to sell them.)
  • Brochures/Maps-- (I pick them up from a local hotel as well as have some sent to me)
  • Tasty Kakes--(delicious sugar filled hostess like cakes--made in Pennsylvania)
  • Crayons--(Easton, Pa is where the Crayola factory is)
  • Local Information--(A typed up a list of doctors/pediatricians, dentists, hair salons, grocery stores, veterinarians, etc...)
  • Ward Directory--(a picture directory of everyone who is a member of our church congregation)
  • Fun Things to Do in the Doylestown Area list--(a typed up list of festivals, events, scenic drive suggestions, etc.)




2. Look what was lurking in our zucchini patch! Have you ever had a zucchini go this awry?! It's beyond massive!!




3. I hosted a lunch yesterday for my friends Jenny Orchard, Olivia Webster and her daughter, Rachael. I couldn't resist taking a picture of these gorgeous hydrangeas...there's not many things out there that are more divine than freshly cut hydrangeas...I love the punch of those chartreuse plates...





4. This was one of Jake's summer highlights. He passed the band test to swim independently in the deep end. I could tell he was so nervous, but was trying to act like it was no big deal...
He was so proud when he passed it. He's been wearing the band around constantly. This has spurred Reilly (who is years away from passing the band test by the way) to wear her own form of a makeshift band made from an old hair tie.






5. This caterpillar transformation has been truly amazing! The eggs were hard to see...but then about a week later, I went in to check on their progress, and noticed that something had been eating the milkweed leaves...

I don't know why it shocked me so much to see actual caterpillars munching the leaves...







They had voracious appetites. We could actually hear them crunching the leaves when we put our ear up to the jar. They grew almost before our eyes...


Two nights ago, we noticed that the caterpillars had crawled to the top of the jar and were hanging in the form of a "J". When we went in to check on them yesterday morning, we saw that they had formed into a cocoon...


Now we're just waiting to see the transformation. Nature is truly a remarkable thing...



***Do you have any other suggestions for the welcome bags?
***Have you ever seen a zucchini that big before?
***Have you ever observed the process of a caterpillar turning into a butterfly?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Tie Dye = Cool Guy

My sweet friend, Leisha, invited us over to her house on Monday morning to tie-die shirts.
We thought it would be cute for everyone to have tie-dyed shirts for our upcoming camping trip.

She showed us how to swirl and rubberband our shirts...


Here she is giving Reilly the low down on the art of tie-dying...either that or she's telling her about the birds and the bees...either way, it looks pretty intense...(notice how her hands are all stained--what a friend to sacrifice on our account...



Tell me again why I thought it would be a good idea to wear a skirt?



Look at those artistic juices flowing!


We even made one for Brian! (He's so not a tie-dye person, but I quoted him what Leisha told me..."tie-dye = cool guy" and that seem to help ease his anxiety...

The final product! I'll get a picture of our whole peace lovin' family at our upcoming campout...
Jake is doing his cool guy/ ganster pose here...


***Are you a tie-dye cool guy?

Monday, August 24, 2009

balmat trip

I've been waiting for some additional pictures before I posted about my trip to Watertown, NY with my mom at the beginning of August.

Every year, we try to go somewhere together. It usually involves something associated with family history . Three years ago, we went to Cape Cod. That was such a fun trip because my sister, Katie, was able to come along as well.

My great, great + grandfather was John Lothrop. We went to the Sturgis Library, which includes the house that was built in 1645 by him. He was also the minister of the Barnstable church from 1639 to 1653. In the library, we got to see the bible that he brought over from England. It was so interesting to see the burn holes on the pages from the lantern that he used on the ship.

We also visited Greenbriar Nature Center which is where Beatrix Potter lived, as well as trespassed onto a cranberry bog. I think we hit just about every thrift store on the cape, too. We had a ball in Salem learning about the Salem witch trials.

Last year, my mom and I went to upstate New York (near the Canadian border) to tend an old family cemetery.

We decided to do that trip again this year, but to incorporate a few new adventures along the way...


We left Wednesday night, after Brian got home from work, so we could have a jump start on our weekend away. My mom made me a cute goody bag that was jam packed with fun stuff like chap stick, gourmet toothpaste, hand sanitizer, etc...and....these socks!!! Love them! Green and with polka dots...who wouldn't love that, right? I am a huge socks person...(It keeps me from stubbing my long toes all the time)

Unfortunately, the rain was coming down in buckets, so it made it hard for us to listen to our book on tape...THE DAY NO PIGS WOULD DIE.

Little did we know that at the very same time we were driving through the Poconos, there was a tornado that was touching down not far from where we were...



I remember this Amish woman selling things in front of this Walmart last year when we came. This year, we stopped and bought some of her baked goods. They do not allow photos to be taken of them, (which is why you never see faces on the little Amish dolls), but I sneaked this shot from a distance just...well...because I couldn't resist...

Whenever I see an Amish person, I feel like I've stepped back in time about 100 years...


We found this fabulous thrift store in Watertown...
Guess how long we spent in there?--Would you believe 3 1/2 hours?


This was one of the guys who helped us load up our loot. He was such a nice guy, we couldn't pass up the chance to document our new found friendship...

Two thoughts I have about this picture...1) I look like a total dog! and 2) it looks like my mom has known this guy for years!





Our adventure continued with a white water rafting trip...




We had so many laughs about these corny shoes my mom found at Goodwill. We needed sturdy footwear for the rafting trip and she didn't want to ruin her good tennis shoes. They literally arched like this even after she got them on her foot.

We also couldn't stop laughing over the fact that she went the whole day with a body warmed limp stick of string cheese in her pocket in case I got grumpy from being hungry. She offered it a few times to some of the macho (at least they thought they were) guys that were on our raft.



Here was my fashion statement for the day...Fortunately, we were able to rent water booties, which came in handy at the moment I needed almost an entire raft full of men to pull me up out of the water...(We were able to get out of the water at a certain point to swim in the current, and when it came time to get back in, it almost didn't happen for me) It was grossly embarrassing to say the least. I'm not known for my grace...


Here we are hitting the deck!


Good times...

video


It was an exhilarating day...
My mom was able to check that one off on her "bucket list"...
We had a great time meeting up with our cousins, Maurine and Brian
who both live in Watertown. We met them two years ago when we went up to Balmat to help fix up our family cemetery and represent the Balmat family in a centennial celebration that was going on in the town of Balmat.
We enjoyed Thai food one night and Italian the next...
I was so extremely lame as not to take ONE photo of any of us together or the delicious food we ate...grrrrrrr
Maurine surprised us at dinner one night when she gave us a picture that she had taken of my mom and I whitewater rafting. Apparently, unbeknownst to us, she snuck over to one of the banks and watched for the moment our raft was in view and then snapped a picture...
My mom and I were both in such awe with her thoughtfulness...


I bought this tupperware lunch container at a tag sale just outside of Balmat. When we were trying to get the mulch out of the car at the cemetery, I put the container on the top of my mom's jeep thinking that I'd remember it when we were finished.
About an hour later, as we were leaving, we just happened to take a wrong turn and so had to turn around and head back in a different direction.
We both spotted this familiar looking thing in the road at the same time. It was the funniest thing ever! We couldn't stop laughing...
It appeared to have been run over, but was still in tact! Good ol' tupperware!


This was the family headstone at the entrance of the cemetery...


We were really surprised with how good everything looked. We weren't sure how our plantings and mulching from last year would hold up, but with the exception of a bit of munching from the deer, it looked great!


The cemetery is in such a pretty location. It's set back in the woods and is shaded with bits of filtered light that shine through.
Unfortunately, the house that is in front of the cemetery is a total dump and the people who live there, (although nice enough in their backwards kind of way), appear to have been extras on the movie "Deliverance."



We bought this bird bath last year and planted some hostas and ferns around it...
My mom added her signature touch...half buried china plates...

video

I'm so glad that we have this tradition to get to do something together every year.
It's nice to be able to incorporate something meaningful like learning about our family history...
I always come back from these trips feeling recharged...
Thanks for such a great trip, mom! I'm pretty sure you and I could go anywhere together and have a wonderful time...

***Have you ever visited the place where your ancestors are from?
***Are you facinated by Amish people?
***Have you ever been white water rafting?

Friday, August 21, 2009

A promise kept...

We rescheduled our Enrichment group's beach trip for yesterday...

Spring Lake, NJ is about 1 hour 30 minutes from here...I've never actually made it there without getting lost--yesterday was no exception. (I swear the GPS woman sounded irritated everytime she said "RECALCULATING!") I wish she didn't have such an annoying voice...




This town is so ritzy! Can you imagine living in a place like this?...


Or this?

After schlepping our stuff onto the beach (leaving all food and drinks on the boardwalk, ugh!--rules!), we finally got set up and were able to relax...

Ellie is doing one of her Elaine Bennis dances...(she is SO my daughter!)


The kids wasted no time getting down to the business of having fun in the waves...





Initially, it was this woman's swim cap that first caught my eye...I loved it! (Even though I'm not a swim cap kind of girl)...but then, I noticed how sweet this couple was together and couldn't resist snapping a photo of them standing in the water...

Lily is my friend Leisha's baby...She is the most layed back baby ever! Not to mention one of the cutest I think I've ever seen...I'm pretty sure she's going to be pooping sand for the next week...


It always makes me laugh to see how excited Ellie gets with even the little things...



This was one of the reactions I got when I told the kids it was time to go...
I hate that I'm always the bad guy! My kids never seem to remember that I actually TOOK them to the place that I'm having to drag them away from...they only seem to focus on the fact that I'm making them leave!


We didn't go on a beach vacation this year so it was nice to be able to get our beach fix even if it was for only a day...I never feel like it's been a complete summer until we've been able to spend some time at the beach. We're going to try to go again next Friday...as long as this crazy hurricane doesn't cause too many shore troubles...

***Does your GPS woman get annoyed with you?
***Do you need a trip to the beach to make your summer complete?
***Would you have taken a picture of that elderly couple?
***What does your kids' "It's time to Go" face look like?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A little bit of this and that...

Last Thursday, our Relief Society's enrichment "Out and About" group was scheduled to go to the beach for the day...

I had been using this trip as a major trump card with my kids...("Empty the dishwasher, or you won't be going to the beach."--"Get your rooms cleaned up, or don't plan on joining us at the beach")-- You know, stuff like that.

So as you can imagine, when the trip had to be cancelled due to rain, I was in major scramble mode to come up with the "beach equivalent"...





I was planning on taking my friend, Leisha's, girls with us to the beach in the first place, so I invited them to join us on a rainy day afternoon excursion...


We started off with lunch at Chik-fil-a. Doesn't it seem like I document this place a million times? What's up with that?


We stopped off at Wawa (similar to a 7-eleven) for a quick candy fix...(I'm the biggest candy nut EVER!)




Then it was onto the movies. None of us had seen "Up" yet, and so this is the movie we chose to see. This was the first actual movie at the theatre that Ellie had ever seen. She probably would have been fine with just seeing the previews, because after each one, she said "Is the movie over now?"

I'm not usually a fan of cartoons and animated movies, but I really fell in love with this one. It had a very sweet message.


I couldn't help but notice this random sign in the bathroom on our way out...
What the?


My neighbor told me that on every milkweed plant, there are monarch butterfly eggs.
She showed me where there was a milkweed plant on our street and I snipped a few leaves that appeared to have tiny eggs attached.
A few days later, to our delight, there were tiny caterpillars that had hatched. We're all very excited to watch them grow and turn into butterflies...I'm taking pictures every few days...

Reilly and Jake have both started soccer. This is Reilly's first year and she is absolutely loving it!
I had to laugh the other day when on her way to practice, she turned around and said, "Mom, this is how you're supposed to hold the ball." She's all about fitting in and looking the part...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The results are in...

We went to the grange fair on Wednesday night and had a ball. I seriously love going there each year. There's just so much energy to be found at a fair. The smell of a funnel cake alone makes me feel like all is well in the world. Talk about good, clean fun!


Before I post the results of our winnings, I just had to poke fun at a few of the items that DID get ribbons that were just down right awful...I'm not sure if they had blind judges this year or what...I'll let you decide....



This was what my little arrangement in the boot was competing with...and mine didn't even get a ribbon...
Is it just me, or is this horribly unoriginal and bland? And what's with the mug? Seriously!

THIS got first prize for the arrangement in a cookie box category? How did that even come to BE a category? Ca'mon people! Get some taste already!



So Jake got a blue ribbon for his bark poster...(my bruised brow bone is healing nicely)


Ellie came in first for the sand art category...


My marjoram won a blue ribbon



As did the basil



and scented geranium



Brian's spaghetti squash won 1st prize!



As well as the hot banana peppers




and the wax yellow beans




Reilly's cute bean flower won 2nd prize!



As did the peppermint


and butterfly bush specimen (not to be confused with a urine speciman)



my hybrid lily came in 3rd




As did the hybrid tea rose



and the apricot colored climbing rose


the lemon thyme took 3rd




as well as the parsley



and sage



the india relish won 4th place



and last but not least, the zucchini bread that I was certain was undercooked, won 5th place...(I think they had the same person judging this as that arrangement in a mug!)
(they probably just felt sorry for me)
All in all, it was another good year at the fair...


We got to see the baby chicks that had just hatched in the day...


and we had fun looking at all the animals...
this one bunny was a real show stopper...he looked like a mop!
We never could find his face! Can you imagine being that furry?



Dear funnel cake...will you marry me? yes or no (circle one)

Sue, my old roommate from NY was there with her husband and son. It was great to catch up with her while we watched the kids go on rides...I could just kick myself for not getting a self portrait of the two of us! We were just too distracted--
Sue and I both used to fly international. Often times, we would bid to work on the same flights together. We were reminiscing about the good old days. We talked about our Brussels layovers and how delicious those Belgium waffles from the street vendors used to taste and how tan we used to get in Rio. It's hard to imagine that we had that kind of life at one time. But we both agreed that nothing compared to the life we're living now, with our husbands and children and the sweet simplicity that everyday life brings...
Truly, life is good!
***Do you think that hideous mug arrangement deserved a ribbon?
***Do you enjoy going to fairs?
***What's your favorite fair food?