Sunday, December 28, 2008
Saturday, December 20, 2008
I wish I could claim some credit for the amazing young woman that is Amber Kruse. On December 18 I flew down to join Russ, Tyler, and Amber in celebration of her graduation. To truly appreciate how incredible this accomplishment is, one must appreciate the strong, independent streak Amber inherited from her mother, Sheila, and the natural aptitude for math and business that she inherited from Russ but has honed all on her own.
What was initially planned for a 7:30 pm dinner at Red Lobster had to be bumped back an hour and a half in the mess that was Portland International Airport. All flights to Spokane were cancelled as a result of the weather (this was the first wave of the ice and snow that blanketed Washington), meaning my plane, which was supposed to come from Spokane, was significantly delayed. Russ picked me up at just before 9 pm, and we hustled to the restaurant to enjoy a meal that EVERYONE now was looking forward to consuming. As it turned out, it gave Amber and Tyler a little more time to o their Christmas shopping.
Russ presented Amber with our gift to her: a Visconti Opera pen. The cap of this particular pen can be customized, so an AK (Amber Kruse, not Alaska) is on its way to grace to top of her pen. Amber has developed an appreciation for fine pens. It is our hope that this pen will be the one that signs her first contract. We also exchanged Christmas presents with Amber and Tyler.
For those who have not heard me go on and on about Amber's talents, Amber makes custom jewelry. If you find that you have lost a jewel in any of your jewelry or a mate to an earring that renders the jewelry less than what it once was, Amber is able to turn it into something beautiful. She and Tyler gave Russ a great pen (with German directions--well done-- in the father tongue no less) and a wooden cross puzzle. They presented me with the beautiful green bracelet and earrings pictured below. To say that I was touched would be an understatement.
As graduations go, it was a nice ceremony befitting all the hard work that we know Amber put into her achievement. My parents wanted very much to provide a college education for me, and so they invested in my own undergraduate degree. I contributed a little, but my mom and dad were the heaviest contributors. Amber did it on her own while living independently. She now hits the street with management experience at Office Depot as well as a bachelor's degree in Business Administration specializing in Human Resources. When we asked her what she plans on doing, she indicated that she is considering a lot of different options, but was looking at hospital administration as an option. We couldn't be more proud of her!
Friday, November 21, 2008
Dinner was scheduled for early afternoon with my parents, brother, and his family as the guests of honor (for a grand total of 11 of us eating). If I had been a little more proactive, my dining room furniture would have been refinished in time for the occasion. As it stands, if I had been a little more proactive, this blog entry would have been a little closer to the actual date of Thanksgiving, too, but the hustle and bustle of life and work seem to conspire to leave me less than motivated to wax eloquent about life in our corner of the world.
In a side note, as you look at the table, the china is a combination of dishes that both Russ and I brought to our marriage. When we were first getting to know each other, I mentioned that I should show him my china pattern. The Noritake Halifax was a pattern I selected in 1989 when I first got married. In the initial stages of our relationship, he and I happened to be unpacking some items he had gotten out of his storage unit in Sacramento, California. Lo and behold, the newly uncovered china revealed that he ALSO had the Noritake Halifax pattern. It has been discontinued; however, a couple of years ago I was able to find some incredibly good deals on it on eBay, so our china has been rounded out sufficient to entertain.
If the success of a celebration is measured by the people you enjoy leaving not much in the way of potential leftovers, this event could be deemed a success. I fixed two kinds of turkey breast for those in attendance, a cranberry sauce made from scratch, a stuffing suggested by my wonderful sister, Barb (whose culinary/hostessing activities are legend), mashed potatoes and gravy, a green bean casserole, and some peas and carrots in a honey glaze. It is a fine art to be able to have all the food prepared and hot for when everyone is ready to sit down and eat. It's something that my mother, Russ's mother, and other hostesses I admire seem able to do with ease. I came close--but that only means I need to continue the efforts in order to become more proficient. Mom Hardy provided TONS of delectable desserts.
There were a couple of people who asked for my recipes. . .so. . .for your cooking pleasure, here they are (and credited to those who contributed--all but the stuffing came from http://www.allrecipes.com/):
Slow Cooker Thanksgiving Turkey (contributed by The Mad Russian)
5 - slices bacon
1 - 5.5 lb. bone-in turkey breast (skin removed)
1/2 t. garlic pepper
1 - 10.5 oz. can turkey gravy
2 T. all-purpose flour
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 t. dried sage
1. Brown bacon and crumble it
2. Spray a slow cooker with cooking spray. Place turkey in the slow cooker. Season with garlic pepper. In a bowl, mix the bacon, gravy, flour, Worcestershire sauce, and sage. Pour over turkeyin the slow cooker.
3. Cover slow cooker and cook turkey 8 hours on Low. (I put it on high and wound up cooking only a couple of hours before the turkey button popped and it turned out just fine--in fact, it was so tender it was falling off the bone.)
Cranberry Stuffed Turkey Breasts (submitted by Esther Nelson)
2 - boneless and skinless turkey breasts
1 - 12 oz. pakage herb-seasoned dry bread stuffing mix
1.5 c. sweetened-dried cranberries
1 c. chopped pecans
1/2 c. pecan halves
2 T. olive oil
1.Prepare stuffing mix according to package directions, set aside and let cool.
2. With a sharp knife, butterfly breasts open to lay flat. Place each breast between two sheets of waxed paper and flatten with a mallet.
3. On each breast, spread prepared stuffing to 1/4 inch of the edge. Sprinkle with most of the dried cranberries and all of the chopped pecans. Roll up "jellyroll" style, starting with the long end and roll tightly. Tuck in ends and tie in sections with string, about 4 sections around middle and one running the length of the roll to secure the ends.
4.Place the olive oil in an oven proof skillet and heat. Carefully brown rolls on all sides. Place skillet in oven, uncovered and bake in a preheated 350 degrees F oven for 1 hour or until a knife inserted draws clear juices. Do not allow these to get overly dry. Allow rolls to set for 15 minutes before slicing into 1/2 - 3/4 inch circles. Leave one roll whole and slice the other for presentation. Stuffing will be spiraled into meat. Present on your prettiest platter on a bed for curly lettuce, garnish by sprinkling with the whole pecans and some dried cranberries.
Cranberry Sauce (submitted by Toni with variations by other contributors)
12 oz. cranberries
1 c. white sugar
1/2 c. orange juice
1/2 c. pineapple juice
6 oz. raspberries
14 oz. crushed pineapple
1/4 c. Grand Marnier
1/4 c. crushed (or chopped) pecans
1. Boil cranberries, sugar, OJ, pineapple juice until the cranberries pop. (I added sugar until it tasted sweet enough for me--I think we wound up using about 2 cups total)
2. Add raspberries and mash.
3. Add Grand Marnier, pineapple and pecans.
4. Cook until thickened and refrigerate.
(I did this the night before)
1 pkg. seasoned stuffing mix
3/4 lb. ground pork sausage
1/2 med. yellow onion
2 stalks of celery
1 can water chestnuts (chopped)
1 - 2 cans of chicken broth
1/2 c. pecans
1/2 c. dried cranberries
1. Brown the pork sausage.
2. Chop onion, celery, water chestnuts and add to the seasoned stuffing mix.
3. Add the pecans and cranberries to the seasoned stuffing mix.
4. Mix in as much chicken broth as you want so it is as moist as you like it.
5. Bake in a 9 x 12 inch pan for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
Campbell's Green Bean Casserole (submitted by Campbell's Kitchen)
2 - 10.75 oz cans Campbell's Condesned Cream of Mushroom Soup (I used Cream of Celery)
1 c. milk (I used half and half)
2 t. soy sauche
1/4 t. ground black pepper
8 c. cooked cut green beans
2 2/3 c. French Fried Onions
1/2 can of water chestnuts* (my addition--but the idea came from Barb Miller)
1. Cook beans (don't overcook--you want them to be slightly crunchy still)
2. Stir soup, milk, soy sauce, pepper, beans, waterchestnuts and 1 1/3 c. onions in 3-qt casserole dish.
3. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes or until hot. Stir.
3. Top with remaining onions. Bake for 5 minutes more.
Honey Glazed Pea Pods and Carrots (submitted by Michele O'Sullivan with additions by others)
1 pkg. baby carrots
1/2 lb. trimmed snow peas
3 T. butter
1/2 t. cornstarch
2 T. honey
1/2 t. garlic salt
1/2 t. oregano (I used sage since I already had used that with the turkey)
1. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add carrots and cook until tender crisp (10 - 12 minutes). Add pea pods and cook until tender crisp. Drain and set aside.
2. Melt butter in the same pan and stir in cornstarch. Return carrots and peas to pan and stir in honey. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until heated through.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Saturday, August 2, 2008
Thursday, July 3, 2008
There are a couple of big projects we are working towards:
- refinishing a hope chest
- refinishing an entire dining set (table, chairs, china hutch, and tea cart)
- finding a "free" hot tub and dragging it to our lair
We currently have Kolby and Kade visiting us (pictures to follow), and that has precipitated some of my projecting.
So here's where we are:
- Russ made some scale maps of our yard so that we could put our ideas on paper. Now the negotiating begins. Actually, we have the ideas, it is strictly going to be a matter of starting the process.
- The hope chest was started. I stripped it and, to use Kolby's description, "fabricated the top." Perhaps that would be re-fabricated. I am doing some repair work (where a corner was nibbled on) before I finish the staining process. It's definitely coming together and a picture will be forthcoming.
The other two projects will get their own pictures. Right now, Russ is installing our pool with the help of the boys. The first one was on a tilting slab. . .not the best. . .we have gotten a new, improved version, and the birthday boy is helping to dig a less uneven foundation even as I write.
That's right. . .in case I didn't mention it a while ago, Kolby turned 12 today. We get to enjoy him for his birthday. Lucky us! We are thrilled to be getting the visitation. And we're looking forward to David getting home from a visit with his dad in Boise, ID.
Okay. . .we're caught up for the moment. . .well, almost. . .I'm off to make chicken enchiladas and twisted mac and cheese for our big 4th of July celebration tomorrow with Scott and Barb.
Oh. . .and did I mention? Pictures will follow.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Monday, April 28, 2008
All this was compounded by the blessing of having our current home rented as of May 1. We knew it was going to be a tight turn-around (close on Monday--start moving in on Monday finish moving on Tuesday--clean on Wednesday, give the keys to our new tenants on Wednesday night), but felt it was a blessing that we would not have a lot of down time trying to rent our place. We have a wonderful Russian family moving in, and they are quite excited about living here.
Friday at 5 pm (with what in retrospect were small hints, but in reality was NO warning), we got the call that the sellers of our new home have retained/talked to an attorney who has advised them to NOT "abandon" the property which (s)he states will put them in a tough spot when negotiating with the bank. This meant that our family had one of two options: choose to not honor our agreement (in spite of the deposit given) with our new renters or try and figure out how to move all our remaining stuff as well as the items purchased specifically for our new home into some temporary facility for however long it might take for the home sellers to resolve their issues with the bank. Neither of those options was appealing.
God is SO good. Both of our insides were churning, but I can tell you that I understand the "peace that passes understanding" part in the Bible. I have come to understand that God is amazing, and because I KNOW how much he cares when any of his children hurts, I had utter confidence that he was looking out for us. On Saturday, when Russ and I woke up, we had a calm discussion about what our options were, and, I believe, God inspired the solution. We would find a vacant house (preferably new construction) that had sat on the market for a while, and would tender an offer. Because we had completed our part of the requirements to purchase the new home, we already had our down payment and the loan in hand and in escrow. The only thing we would be lacking is an appraisal on the new property, and that can be done rather quickly. We were going to offer to pay the owner of the house $50 per day to rent it until it closed and move in on Monday, as planned, IF our other deal fell through. It also means that our closing time is greatly reduced since all of our documents are in order and current.
So. . .as of Monday. . .we don't know WHERE we are going to move, but we do know WHEN. I keep likening it to Abraham's experience. God told him to get moving, he just wasn't sure where. Add the kink that, once again, I am fighting the flu. . .and it's been a hoot.
Stay tuned sports fans to find out how it all turns out. The good news is, we KNOW that all things work together for good for those called to God's purposes (Romans 8:28--thanks Mom Hardy for teaching me). It gives us all the more reason to make sure that we have a purpose in His plan.
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Everything I know about life, I learned on Match.com. . .
1. No matter what they say, people are looking at the pictures not reading the articles.2. A picture IS worth a thousand words--especially if it is recent and doesn't feature a friend who is cuter than you are.3. Attractiveness is not always conveyed by a picture. It's something you know when you see it--although if the item isn't as pictured, no great personality is going to help you out.4. Attractiveness is inversely proportional to the maintenance level. If I'm high maintenance before you meet me, it's all downhill from there.5. Patience is a virtue. The older I get, the more minutes I need to catch up on my e-mail.6. ISPs don't always play nicely with each other. If I haven't answered, I may never have gotten the message.7. Variety is the spice of life, but as you mature, too much spice can give you heartburn. I prefer to think of myself as salt. It's in all kinds of sweet things (cookies), it's the kind of thing you like to have around every day, it's pretty versatile, and you really miss it if it's removed from your diet.If you got a chuckle out of my profile, GREAT! That was the intent. I don't take myself too seriously, but I take my deep friendships VERY seriously. My ideal friend would be an attractive guy who is willing to put up with my warped sense of humor but otherwise laid back attitude. I also believe that attractive is in the eye of the beholder. I am a supportive friend who has a history of sticking with the ones I love regardless of the personal cost. I would like to find someone who appreciates my qualities and balances those parts of my personality that I would like to change. I especially admire a good sense of humor coupled with good common horse sense. I enjoy a wide range of activities; however, I do not dance or ski as a public service.
That is not to say that my colleagues from school didn't send me from my life of a bathroom all to myself to a shared bathroom without some celebration. Joan Enders hosted a wedding shower with a little help from our friends. I was amazed and touched at both the generosity as well as the number of partygoers who came to wish me well and celebrate the fact that I would now be known by one last name only.
How does one even begin to describe the emotions that are evoked when she is surrounded by friends and family all wishing her well? I tear up a little bit just thinking about it. From the amazing card that Jaylene made to the delectable (in more ways than one) gift basket from Cheryl, Cheryl, and Sheila to all of the nighties and lotions. . .and, did I mention FOOD?!? It was what every other shower aspires to be.
All weddings are bound to have glitches of some sort. Ours was finding an officiant. The wonder of the Internet provided a ton of possibles, but this seemed too solemn an occasion to risk a hiring a yahoo. . .sooooo. . .we decided to get married by a judge at the courthouse. Now everything was all out of whack because we had reserved the Mt. Hood Suite at Skamania Lodge for our family to witness the exchanging of our vows. So in the spirit of multicultural exploration, we decided to extend our wedding to two days instead of just one. We had the "legal" ceremony at the Clark County Courthouse on March 28 and the ceremony where we exchanged vows (and I got to wear a beautiful gown for the occasion) on March 29.
I've heard that rain on your wedding day is supposed to be good luck (unless you are having an outdoor wedding). We had snow. Who would have thunk? When it is supposed to be springy, it was slushy. Perhaps it portended a slippery slope of some sort, but we plowed ahead.
The Honorable James P. Swanger (trivia alert: Judge Swanger graduated from Brigham Young University--Russ's alma mater) officiated. In all the excitement of moving and preparing for a wedding while still working full time, I managed, as is my tradition, to get sicker than a dog. In spite of it, Russ agreed that he would take me in sickness and sealed it with a kiss. Our vows were witnessed by our Best Man and Matron of Honor, Scott and Barb Miller, my parents (who braved the inches of snow on their hill at home), and our sons David and Zak. Am I looking a little hefty in the pictures? It would be because we took the boys to Olive Garden thereafter to celebrate our nuptials.
The next morning we all got up and prepared for the big day. We picked up the most decadent Nougat Tort cake from Larsen's bakery (http://www.larsonsbakery.net/cakes.htm) and headed on up to the suite to set up for our guests. We originally planned to say our vows (a copy of mine is after the blog) and then take Barb and Scott out to the 13th hole and tee off. Mother Nature wasn't too cooperative, showering us with rice sized hail instead. . .so we took the coward's way out and took our wedding party to the dining room for a meal instead. Afterward, we all trouped upstairs, made our sparkling cider toasts, indulged in our sinful cake, and then said good-bye to our guests. I get warm fuzzies just thinking about it.
My brother, Ken, and I reprise a photo from younger years.
Hair was much bigger in the eighties.
Inlaws and Outlaws
From left to right: Russ's parents (Ray and Betty Eades), Russ,
Me, and my parents (Ken and Susan Hardy)
wedding photos courtesy of Dayne Miller
In August of 2005, I sent you an e-mail that described what you could expect of me when I told you I loved you. In that e-mail, I made a pledge. Today, I have the privilege of renewing that covenant. I am taking my vows from I Corinthians 13.
I vow to be patient both with you and with the circumstances of our lives. When stress comes or things in our relationship are not going my way, I will give it to God and trust Him to handle the timing.
I will be kind. Instead of going first to hurt or anger, I will think about the way to say and do things that will foster growth in our relationship.
I will look out for your best interests. I will put you and the needs of our family before my own.
When good things happen to you, I will rejoice with you rather than be envious because I rest secure in the knowledge that your good fortune enhances my own.
When good things happen to me, rather than look for opportunities to boast about them, I will share the glory of those accomplishments, knowing that we are a partnership and that it is your support that helps strengthen me.
I will write your many kindnesses in marble and your frailties in sand.
I will be joyous in integrity and make that the foundation of our relationship. I will not look for or spend time remembering hurts or wrongs, but will gently bring them to your attention with prayer, and then let them go.
I will be supportive of you through the good and the bad, the successes and the defeats, believing in God to bring us through the challenges and thanking Him for the many blessings we enjoy.
I will be loyal to you, and will believe in you as you strive to do those things which are best for our family.
I will not give up on you or us.
Before God and our families, I make these promises to you—trusting in His strength to help me keep them—for as long as we both shall live. This ring is a symbol of that commitment to you and our family. When you wear it, remember my love for and appreciation of you as a man, and as my husband.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
The evening then took the gents to Dayne's bachelor pad where Sam (the "original" redhead on the Shasta trip) and Dayne hosted a poker game worthy of Russ's skills.
Though it wasn't a rousing success in terms of winnings, the guys had fun.