Thursday, November 16, 2017

A Bridal Shower

Happy Two Month Anniversary H&M!

Time for another wedding post; this one will be about the bridal shower, which was kindly and thoughtfully hosted by Michelle's sister-in-law (the one with the house in Utah). Thanks, Elizabeth!!

By the Wednesday before the wedding, family had started gathering, which included the nieces from Atlanta. They were pretty excited to see Aunt Michelle again, and maybe even more excited for the chance to have a party.

The party food and decorations were simple and lovely.

Guess who had dibs on the cupcakes with M&Ms?
Michelle's good friend (whom she met when they were roommates at Helaman Halls) was in charge of the game, which involved bubblegum and trivia questions to help us learn more about the engagement story. It, too, was simple and fun. Thanks, Lexi!

Of course, the most important part of the evening, at least for me, was being able to meet wonderful new ladies, including Hayden's mother and aunt, all of whom love Michelle and just wanted to wish her well in this wonderful new adventure.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Saturdays and Holidays in October

Our September Saturdays were quite eventful, and I'll get to posting about them soon (hopefully), but our October Saturdays were quite busy and productive as well. It was nice to have Jeff and his family join us for some of them, and here are the stories for those of you who couldn't be there!

October 7 - Jonathan Dickinson State Park - The activity for this visit was to rent a canoe and spend some time on the river. We had a wonderful time - see here.

Columbus Day - Cypress Creek - Yes, October is still rainy season, but we thought this hike was far enough from water sources that we wouldn't be sloshing through water. We thought wrong. Read all about it here. However, it was a fairly short hike, and it was a gorgeous day, so afterwards we spent time at our neighborhood pool, and then tried out a new restaurant at the mall - Joe and Ray's Table. It was interesting, but we probably won't go back.

I enjoyed the Lamb Gyro Plate, but Wayne's Beef Burger was a bit undercooked. The traditional Egyptian cookies reminded me of Russian Teacakes or Mexican Wedding Cakes or Snowballs; they're known by many different names.

October 14 - Stake Conference - Once again we were responsible for the stake choir and once again we were pleased with the results. We have awesome members in our stake who are willing to go the extra mile. And we enjoyed our traditional Panera dinner between sessions on Saturday.

October 21- Service Project - One last "Mormon Helping Hands" project to help with Hurricane Irma cleanup. Wayne was surprised to find one of his Boy Scouts from 25 years ago also helping with this "multi-ward across stake boundaries" service project. Grant and his growing family are doing great. What a small world!

October 28 - Rainy Day - It was supposed to be a rainy day, so we postponed our scheduled trip to Lantana Beach. However, after breakfast it wasn't actually raining which meant we could work in the yard for a couple of hours. Thanks, Jeff, for helping us remove the stump! Once the rain came we moved indoors, trying a new recipe while watching BYU football on tv. It was nice that they decided to win that game!

Halloween - Celebrating our typical traditions meant we attended the ward Fall Festival and passed out candy to trick-or-treaters. You can read all about this year's activities here.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Halloween 2017

This year the youth dance was the same night as stake conference (still trying to figure out how that happened) so we didn't attend. That meant we didn't have to come up with a costume (like we did last year and the year before). That's totally okay with me. However, I did help with the costume for Savannah. Her parents came up with the idea; I just did a bit of sewing.

As usual we participated in the Trunk or Treat at the church, by bringing chili and cupcakes along with a few Tootsie Pop Ghosts. Can't forget Wayne's scary eyes! (Savannah was not a fan of them.) It was a nice activity, and we were extremely grateful it was held on the beautiful Friday evening and not the rainy Saturday one.

We didn't carve jack-o-lantern's, but we did put out a few lights in the yard and hang up our paper plate skeleton, which inspired comments from several of the 125 or so trick-or-treaters that came to our door.

Too bad none of these cuties visited our porch, but that's okay. We're grateful for Instagram so that we can still be part of the fun.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Marshmallow Ghosts and Cookie Spiders

Marshmallow Ghosts
Marshmallow Ghosts Recipe

This year's "new" Halloween treat comes from Taste of Home. Just melt 6 ounces of white almond bark for 30-60 seconds in the microwave. Then stir in 2 1/4 cups of mini marshmallows. Drop by spoonfuls onto wax paper, gently form into "ghost" shapes, and use mini chocolate chips for eyes if desired. Let harden and enjoy!

Peanut Butter Cookie Spiders
These creations are just our regular Peanut Butter Cookies topped with a mini Reese's Peanut Butter Cup as soon as they come out of the oven. Press in candy eyes while still warm (so that they stick to the melted chocolate), then let cool and pipe on the legs. I'm trying to decide if I prefer black icing or brown melted chocolate; what do you think?

And here are a couple of "old" ones that we're doing again.

Sweet and Salty Halloween Treats

Preheat oven to 350.  Cover a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper and place as many pretzels as you want on the sheet.  Unwrap and place a Hug on the top of each pretzel. Put the cookie sheet in the oven for about 3 minutes, just until the Hugs are shiny.  Pull the tray out of the oven and top each one with a candy corn, pressing down slightly.  Let cool.

Tootsie Pop Ghosts
Wrap a piece of white Kleenex (or tissue paper or paper towel around a Tootsie Pop). Tie a piece of yarn under the sucker. Draw on a ghost face if desired. Display by sticking in either a styrofoam cone or a small glass.

Jello Jigglers

Add 3/4 cup boiling water to one packet (4-serving size) of jello. Stir to dissolve then pour into molds. Chill unto set. If no molds are available, just pour the mixture into a baking pan and then use either a knife or cookie cutters to cut into desired shapes when set.

Orange Caramel Popcorn

Bring 1/2 cup butter or margarine, 1 cup sugar, 1/3 cup corn syrup and 2 drops each red and yellow food coloring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, then pour over a large batch (about 2/3 unpopped) of popcorn. Spread on waxed paper to cool. (Can also use brown sugar and omit the food coloring; see original recipe here.)

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Cypress Creek - The Third Loop

We decided to take advantage of having a Columbus Day holiday (no work) to return to Cypress Creek and do the thrid loop of the Osprey Trail system. 

Even though it was rainy season, we thought this trail would be high enough to be dry, and it started off that way. However, we hadn't gone far at all before we ran into water in the ruts of the trail.

And after a while, we realized it would be fruitless to try and avoid the water. So, we just made up our minds to enjoy our slosh through this beautiful area. As you can see, there were parts when the trail was actually a creek.

You can compare this crossing of Cypress Creek with our earlier ones here and here.

Although a bit damp for our feet, the day was absolutely gorgeous!

We made it to the canal boundary, but at this time of year there were no crops growing on the other side. 

The trail there was dry, but right about the time our feet dried, it was time to turn back into the wet trail.

Once again we took the little detour to the observation deck.

Thought you might like just a glimpse of what our hike sounded like!

One more picture of our beautiful day!

 And, yes, I was there :)

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Canoeing on the Loxahatchee River

Jonathan Dickinson State Park - The Ninth Visit, or An October Visit

This turned out to be an absolutely gorgeous day, and we were so glad we had planned to head to the local state park and rent a canoe. It was the perfect "stay-cation" activity, and a nice break after the previous weeks filled the stress of travel and hurricanes.

After leaving the dock, we headed up Kitching Creek. It was kind of cool to see the observation platform from the other side.

Back on the Loxahatchee we passed some wildlife on our way to the Trapper Nelson site.


Hurricane Irma didn't cause any lasting damage here, but the water levels were super high, and the main boat dock was still underwater. 

That meant the tourist trips were cancelled and we could explore the area without any large groups around. (There was another couple there when we arrived, and a caretaker when we left; much different from the last time we visited.)

The return trip was with the current, and although there were some spots where we had to row against the wind, overall this was a very do-able canoe hike and we weren't too sore the next day.

After returning our canoe and before driving home, we christened our brand new barbecue grill by making cheeseburgers. Delicious!

We're looking forward to our next visit to this beautiful park!

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Saga of the Dress

As mentioned in the last post, Michelle and I created her wedding dress together, and it's finally time to reveal the finished product, along with several stories surrounding it and her special day. I'm sure you'll agree that this isn't just a sweet tale, but a very suspenseful saga.

We can't leave you in suspense, though; the story has a happy ending.
Soon after her engagement, I checked Michelle's Pinterest board and discovered she had pinned only one dress. That struck me as a bit odd, because I imagined most brides-to-be would have a lot that they liked, but it was quite apparent that she knew exactly what she wanted.
She had worked with this designer during Provo Fashion Week, and knew that she would be happy with the finished product. While compared to a lot of bridal gown budgets, the price for this gown wasn't too outrageous, it was still a lot for our budget. Besides, in the back of my mind I'd always planned on at least trying to sew our only daughter's wedding dress, which I knew we could do for less money than purchasing one. So, we bought Michelle a plane ticket to Florida and ordered some guipure lace.

Our inspiration dress was actually a blouse and a skirt, and originally we were going to do that, but then decided that having the skirt attached would not only save fabric, but would prevent the worry of a blouse becoming untucked. We didn't have the pattern from the designer, but that just made the project more exciting and allowed Michelle to unleash her own creativity. We started with the pattern we did have - the one for my wedding dress.
She didn't want ruffles or a long train, and definitely didn't want poufy sleeves, but my old wedding dress was a great starting point and resource for making something that did work.
Since Michelle also needed a "regular" temple dress (so that she wouldn't have to rent one each time she went), we thought it might be wise to use that dress as our "practice" dress, so that's what we did.

After completing that dress, and being satisfied with how it looked, it was time to create the real wedding dress. I'll admit there was a fair amount of mind changing and picking out threads - and wishing the bride had followed the counsel to not show "in progress" pictures to the groom! - but overall the experience was a positive one, and we met our goal to complete it during her visit.

Because the airline had misplaced Michelle's luggage on her flight to West Palm, we didn't trust them to not do that again. Besides, her suitcase was pretty full. We decided I would bring the wedding gown in my carry-on luggage when I went to Utah for the wedding. She made room for the temple dress, which could be a "Plan B" if  necessary.

All ready to be packed for the big day!
Fast forward a month. Michelle had originally wanted a Labor Day weekend wedding, but we had already planned to go on an Alaskan cruise with Wayne's family that week. So, they picked the next available Saturday, September 16th. Our plan was to fly home from Seattle on the 9th, and then fly to Salt Lake a few days later for their wedding.

As we were packing for the cruise, we noticed a little thing called Hurricane Irma forming in the Atlantic, but didn't concern ourselves with it too much because the reports had it moving slowly to the south and we would be home and gone again before it reached Florida. The reports changed, but that story deserves its own post.

Bottom line, our flight from Seattle to West Palm on September 9th was cancelled, so we rescheduled it to the 11th. When that one was also cancelled we had a problem. We were in Washington, the dress was in Florida, and the wedding was in Utah.

One of Michelle's friends offered to let her borrow a wedding dress. That was super nice of them, and it would have worked as a Plan C, (not sure why our original Plan B was vetoed at the time), but it really wasn't Michelle's style.

Since the airlines wouldn't change our flight to a different city, Wayne had the brilliant idea to drive to Utah, so we rented a car and did just that (and rescheduled our flight home for a week later). That got us to the wedding, but not the dress. The obvious solution would be to have someone go to our house, get the dress and mail it to Michelle, but the only way into our house is with a key, and we had our keys with us.

We did some research and found a FedEx office just off the freeway in Oregon, made a quick stop to mail a friend a key, and crossed our fingers. Unfortunately, our "overnight" delivery wasn't delivered the next day; our key was stuck in Tennessee because flights still weren't going into Florida. We tried to make things better by creating another wedding dress.

That didn't really work to alleviate the stress. However, being able to share the news at the bridal shower that the key had finally made it to the most amazing visiting teacher in the world, who had already boxed up the wedding gown and sent it on to Grandma's house was cause for celebration.

Fortunately, this overnight delivery really was overnight and Michelle's dream creation arrived before her special day. "All's well that ends well." As Michelle put it on Instagram:

  • mwhit17My dress made it, the flowers made it, my family made it, Hayden made it & now we're married! Thanks to everyone who made it wonderful. We love you 💕💕💕

This is actually a picture of her arranging the flowers on her cake, but I found it's also the best picture to showcase her dress. Maybe she should have done a "bridal" session after all!

I used lace leftover from the wedding dress in the dresses for the nieces. That was a fun project as well.
A final thought from Michelle:

  • mwhit17Wedding photos arrived today 🎉🎉
    Going through them reminded me of the three things I wanted most out of our wedding and I think we accomplished them!
    1. That all my immediate family could be there.
    2. That everything we did had a purpose and meant something to us personally.
    3. That we did what we could ourselves.