Saturday, June 29, 2013

Purple Sunsets Forever

Today is our 17th year as a married couple, and I thought I'd share a story that is uniquely ours.  Bryce and I didn't start seriously dating until it was close to our graduation from YHC.  After which I was slated to go to UGA and he was going to attend Iowa.  Of course, his parents came down for his graduation and they all stayed together at a hotel afterwards before traveling back to Iowa.  One of the things we loved about YHC, but were rather rare, were the beautiful purple sunsets over the mountains.  Bryce and I would have phone conversations (no cells phones yet!) but they were tempered by his parents being in the same room as he was and he was not yet ready for them to hear him say those three little words, "I Love You."  So he made up a substitute phrase, "Purple Sunsets Forever."

Fast forward to our wedding day, directly after we walked back down the aisle, and we immediately looked to see what we each had engraved in our wedding rings.  We hadn't shared that we were going to do it or even what we would engrave, but it was an exciting moment to discover that we had each engraved "Purple Sunsets Forever."  I cannot imagine traveling this journey with a better man than Bryce and I feel so fortunate to have purple sunsets everyday.

Thursday, June 27, 2013


Some of our hydrangeas have really popped this week and they are so gorgeous.  I love how they are different colors on the same bush!  I've really enjoyed bringing the blooms inside.

P.S.  Have you switched readers?  I think I'll use bloglovin but I've heard feedly is great too.  Follow my blog with Bloglovin or with Feedly.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

School's Out Celebration with UP

Yesterday was finally Harris' last day of school and we celebrated by watching a movie on the lawn.  Up was a perfect choice since it is about an adventure (though Grace and I cried a lot) and we are hoping to have some fun adventures this summer.

As a little surprise, I made a small batch of cupcakes and iced them simply to look like balloons.  I snapped the pictures of the children, blew them up to a much larger size, cut them out, attached a little twine to their hands and they were holding a bunch of balloons!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

New Cake Paintings

I've been very lax about sharing the past couple of birthday cake paintings that have arrived from Carey Haynes.  We've had a honey hive cake, a detective cake and an adorable baseball cake.  I just love our cakes on the wall, they make me so happy and remind me of all the years that have already gone by!  EEK!

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Weekend

We had a lovely, full weekend.  Bryce took the children (plus a friend) camping with Grace's classmates while I stayed home and did a bit of gardening, antiquing and spending time with friends.

On Saturday night, I attended a party at a friend's beautiful home.  She asked everyone to wear white and it was so beautiful to see a sea of white under that gorgeous Super Moon we had.  I wish Bryce could have been there!

We also had our pool's opening day picnic, so it truly felt like summer has finally begun!  Now if only Harris can finish up school!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Last Evening...

Last Evening, we had perfect summer weather!  It was dry, warm but not too hot, and beautiful!  Bryce had an evening meeting, and I wasn't thrilled about cooking a big dinner for just the three of us, so we packed up a picnic dinner and hit the road.

I had recently discovered a walking/biking trail just outside of our town and we headed over there to explore a little and eat a dinner consisting of egg salad sandwiches, cherry tomatoes, kettle chips, fruit and lavender lemonade!

We discovered that the waxed paper we used to wrap up our sandwiches also makes the perfect placemat for dinner.

Here's a snatch of a conversation that we had that made me chuckle, my boy really makes me smile...

Me:  It's sort of magical here isn't it?
Grace: It really is.
Harris:  Magical?  That's sort of girly, I'd say it's more gnomey than magical.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Chocolate Chunk Skillet Cookies

Years ago, we bought our first cast iron pan and have never looked back.  In fact, I still think longingly of the cast iron pan that my sister has that was our Grandmothers.  It's specifically a biscuit pan and is probably so thoroughly seasoned that nothing would ever stick to it!  When we started supplying the Airstream we immediately bought a 9 inch pan to be a regular cast member in the tiny kitchen.  It got quite the workout this weekend including sloppy joes, pancakes, and sausage.  But the best of all was the skillet cookie that I made to celebrate Father's Day on Sunday.  Bryce loves chocolate chip cookies and there was no way that I was going to make cookies in Silvie, but this giant cookie?  Perfection and then some.  It was so, so good.  I'm still sort of dreaming about it...

 Chocolate Chunk Skillet Cookies
recipe found on Pinterest from Off-Grid Home Sweet Home

1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated suage
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 egg
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 cup chocolate chunks

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Melt butter in cast iron skillet (I used a 9 inch) on medium-low heat.  Stir in both sugars and vanilla and remove from heat.  Let rest until pan is warm, but not longer very hot, at least five minutes (if pan is too hot the egg will start to cook when added!).

Crack an egg onto the butter and sugar mixture, and use a fort to whisk it well into the mixture.  Place flour, baking soda, and salt on top, and carefully stir into the mixture until smooth and well-mixed.  Stir in chocolate chunks.  Place in the oven for 20 minutes, or until done to your liking (you might like crispier or doughier!).  

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Our First Airstream Adventure

This past weekend, we took out our Airstream (we call her The Silver Frog, Silvie for short) for the very first time!  Once we got past that first night we had a wonderful weekend!  Here's the story of our first evening traveling in the Airstream...

As I'm sure it is no surprise to anyone who knows us, it took longer for us to leave home than we hours!  Getting everything in the Airstream and figuring out how to organize took a long time and we had to make lots of trips back and forth!  Fortunately, the children really pitched in and helped, but we were all thankful to get on the road!  We stayed in a relatively local spot at the beach, only a couple hours away, and we arrived before the sun fully set, but by the time we were checked in the sun had completely gone down and it had started pouring rain!  Not exactly ideal for backing into a spot and hooking up!  I'm Bryce's official backer upper helper so I jumped out, fortunately I had a raincoat, and helped him ease into our spot.  He did awesome!

While Bryce hooked everything up, I got started making dinner.  It was already 9:00 and tensions were high (mine).  There might have been some yelling (me) at the children because we were in an enclosed place and they were super excited and very loud.  Have I ever shared that I don't do super well with chaos?  I don't.

We finally ate around 10pm (three tomato spaghetti) and got the children settled down for the night.  Somehow we had managed to survive the first evening - Bryce and I were still talking to each other and I hadn't killed the children.  I counted that as success!

We woke up the next morning and things went smoothly for the next two days.  In fact, we had a great time!  We love Silvie and how easy everything was in regards to cooking, sleeping and generally having a home base.  We had brought our bikes and so were able to explore around a bit and even got to spend Father's Day at the beach.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Time to Make The Doughnuts

Gosh, I have about a zillion things that I could post about, but I'm going to start with these yummy doughnuts!  Grace's last day of school was on Friday and to celebrate I made doughnuts.  I loved these doughnuts because they were easy (really easy!), they were baked and just to look at them made one feel happy!  I used a $10 doughnut pan that I picked up at Michael's that worked like a charm.

I used the recipe from Sweet Paul and I was pleased that the doughnuts didn't end up too heavy, though I might try to tweak the icing a bit next time since it was super sweet (the doughnuts themselves weren't though so it was a nice balance).

Friday, June 14, 2013

Mt. Rainier (part 3)

Gibraltar Rock (left) and Cathedral Rocks

Our last day on the Mountain dawned spectacularly! Cloudless sky, no wind, and warmer temperatures. The blue of the sky in these photos is unaltered (no filters, no Photoshop)...I have literally never seen a sky so blue! What was supposed to be our morning on the summit of Rainier was perfect...except that we weren't at the summit! We were up early, had a quick breakfast and then got geared up for glacier travel. We stepped into harnesses, strapped on crampons, donned helmets and wore avalanche transceivers. (At least we got to use all of our gear at least once!) Then we received some instruction on roped group travel, roped into groups of three, grabbed our ice axes and set off across the Cowlitz glacier.

After about a 30 minute trek and a short climb, we were at Cathedral Gap and the views were amazing.

Mts. Adams, Hood and St. Helens (left to right)

 Little Tahoma Peak

From our vantage point at Cathedral Gap I was finally able to see the upper mountain and the edge of the crater at the top of Mt. Rainier! The guides also pointed out our intended route to the summit.

Cathedral Rocks, Disappointment Cleaver (right) and the crater rim (top center snow)

This would have to be our summit photo...for this trip

After about 30 minutes at the Gap, we started back down to Camp Muir to pack up and make our decent to Paradise. The trip down was much quicker, much sunnier and much warmer than the trip up! But it was still exhausting...we post-holed into more then knee-deep snow nearly all the way! At least this day we could see around us and look back at that majestic mountain!

Starting down the Muir Snowfield

The Mountain was definitely out!

We even got to do a little seat glissading at a couple of points on the way down. A much faster and easier way to travel!

We rode on our backsides for a good 80-100 feet!

Mt. Rainier

We were down to Paradise around mid-day. After a drive down to IMG in Ashford to return rental gear, we had a final team meeting and said our goodbyes. All in all, it was an incredible trip and adventure. Jack and I are already talking about a return trip - in the summer this time, when our chances of having good weather and no avalanche conditions are higher! We are both very blessed to have such wonderful wives and children who enabled us to have such an amazing time celebrating our 40th birthdays! I think they even want to come with us when we return*!

*Note from Anna- to visit Seattle, not to climb the mountain!!

Mt. Rainier (part 2)

Our second day of the climb started with another great meal in the WxPort - pancakes, bacon and coffee. The night had been pretty chilly and a hot breakfast really hit the spot! The weather was good but additional precipitation was in the forecast. Also, our lead guide, Chris, informed us that conditions higher up on the mountain were dicey at best. The upper mountain had received a number of storms in the week or so before we started up to Muir and there was a lot of unstable snow. In fact, no one had been higher than 12,700 ft in the past 10 days. However, Chris was sending two of our guides across the Cowlitz glacier to investigate snow conditions above the Cathedral Gap and on towards our high camp in the Ingraham Flats. 

IMG WxPort (partly buried in the recent snow)

Meanwhile, we were scheduled to do a good bit of mountaineering training while still at Camp Muir anyway, so no deviation from that plan was necessary. After breakfast we grabbed our ice axes and headed to the hillside behind the WxPort. We practiced the rest-step climbing technique we had used most of the day before and also learned some other methods of efficiently and safely moving in snow at rather steep angles, both going up and coming down. We also learned how to stop a downhill slide, in every possible attitude, with the use of an ice ax (ice ax arrest).

Executing a head-first, back-side ice ax arrest

We ate our lunch back in the WxPort, had some hot drinks, reviewed some knot-tying and waited for the return of the guides surveying snow conditions up-route. They returned and we got the bad news that avalanche conditions were still too dangerous to permit us to move to high camp that afternoon for a summit attempt the next morning. The guides were very clear on the conditions and answered a lot of questions from the group. The fact was no one, with any guide group or on their own, were climbing on our route in these conditions. We were bummed but our first priority on this adventure was coming back from it!

We also learned that we would need to set up tents in which to spend the night as another group had dibs on the shelter we had used the night before. At least we'd get that part of the experience of being at high camp, just down a bit lower! So, we dug out, flattened and roughly leveled a section of snow at Camp Muir and set up our accommodations for the night.

The weather had been getting poorer throughout the day and the snow had started up again. However, after the tents were up and gear moved in, a couple of guides agreed to take us up to the summit...of Muir Peak! We grabbed our ice axes, donned helmets, and make the short climb. At least we got to the top of something!

Muir Peak and part of Camp Muir (taken the next day)

Jack and me on Muir Peak

Over dinner, our guides said that the forecast was calling for perfect weather the next day and, if that was the case in the morning, we would take a trek across the Cowlitz glacier and up to Cathedral Gap. We planned for an early start and got to bed. (Again, I slept perfectly horrible! Must have been the altitude...not my age!)

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