Party Planner Hits Home Run

There’s something fabulous afoot when your 79 year old father PLANS a Fourth Of July Party. It is highly possible this is the FIRST party he has ever planned because MOM has always been the master party planner in the family.

DAD invited the kids (that would be my generation…far from ‘kid’ age) AND grandkids.

He put up a table on the backyard DECK, covered it with a patriotic tablecloth,

hung FLAGS everywhere, went shopping at the party store and RETURNED with:

FLAG napkins, red plastic MARGARITA glasses, and other assorted party decor.

He set-up the BLENDER on the outdoor table, WHIPPED up margaritas in professional style, turned up the PATRIOTIC tunes playing on his boombox and served those delicious libations to a very PLEASED group of middle-aged ‘kids’.

Shortly thereafter, he DISAPPEARED for 20 minutes for a quick trip to Taco Bell to pick up a travel pack of tacos and VOILA…dinner was served.

This 4th of July I was THANKFUL for my party planning Dad. May we all find ways to CELEBRATE our lives, families and blessings….no matter what AGE we are!

 

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Diamond Jack

For a man who loved cars,  Jack spent nearly his entire life buying and selling his favorite models as well as owning a multitude of businesses. Jack always felt he was a a very lucky man. In his younger years, friends used to refer to him as “Diamond” Jack.  The luck for which he was thankful, however, had nothing to do with the multitude of cars and business deals; rather, it had to do with the LOVE of his life, Maureen. Together they raised 3 beautiful daughters. Those four special women were the DIAMONDS in Jack’s life.

Over a 50 years ago, when my parents became engaged, my dad took mom to Lewiston, Idaho (his hometown) to meet his sister and brother-in-law, Jack. One of Mom’s favorite  memories of that meeting was as private moment when Jack pulled her aside, smiled and said, “Joanie, you are marrying into a wonderful family”. Jack was full of humor, loyal to family and friends, always full of new ideas, and once tried to lure my parents (who lived in another town) to give up their professions and move to Lewiston to open a sporting goods store. THAT, in his opinion,would not only provide income, add a valuable new store to the town….but would also keep the family in close proximity. He was the only one who could get away with calling my grandmother, Ruth…..Ruthie. That favorite nickname made its way down the family tree to his granddaughter.

My memories of my uncle include his big smile, his interest in us as we grew through the years and the wonderful relationship he and my aunt had with my parents. Those four were a very close group and their laughter, stories and camaraderie were witnessed by all five of us cousins. He had a strong faith, took care of his mother financially throughout her life and provided a wonderful life for his family.

Jack was part of an era that watched what they said in front of kids. I think the only time I heard him swear was at the tail end of a trip they took to visit us. Shari was in high school. In an attempt to load all of the girls’ suitcases into the trunk of his car (which was a herculean feat….,trust me. They did not travel light). Shari forgot to bring her suitcase out to the car until the very last-minute. At that point he had been outside for about 20 minutes trying to fit everything into the trunk; there was barely enough room left for air. When she walked out with her humongous suitcase and told him he needed to add it, he nearly croaked. He looked at her with great exasperation and said “Dammit Shari, why didn’t you bring this out when I asked  you to?”  We knew Jack had to be pretty frustrated to say that.  For the rest of the morning we renamed Shari,……  calling her ‘Dammit’.

It’s funny how our childhood memories are often the fondest, and for me Jack was huge part of those memories. I’m so thankful we got spend our summers at his home running through sprinklers, having cool-pops for an afternoon treat, riding in the jeep to go to swimming lessons, hitting golf balls and playing in the field across from his house, watching our grandparents and parents visit with each other on the back patio while we kids played, watching the thunderstorms that came through on those hot summer nights, going to the Clarkston A&W in the evenings for a frosty mug of root beer…..and my aunt Rene bringing ice cubes because they wanted theirs ‘extra’ cold, ….going for drives at night and listening to Uncle Jack talk about the town. As kids, we did a lot of playing, but we also did a lot of WATCHING as the adults in our lives demonstrated what ‘family’ is all about. My uncle Jack was a big part of that experience. I love him and will miss him. I know in my heart that as Jack’s spirit crossed into heaven, my Aunt Rene was there to greet him. They have likely begun their next adventure together…..and I bet it includes a new car.

-in memory and with love for my Uncle Jack…..-Marsha 6/18/12

I Mus-Stash My Stuff At Your House

Last weekend’s 25th surprise party for my daughter’s soon-to-be maid of honor was a combination of high level covert activity and secret meetings in a house filled with smells of meatballs in spicy BBQ sauce, and roasted thyme nuts.

Tissue paper poms spread across the spare bedroom, photo booth props (mustaches, bow ties, lips and glasses), customized wine labels and all sorts of party picks, paper flowers and party ‘stuff’ took over the house.

I played the role of  ‘partner in crime’ as we scoured the local craft stores to make her party ideas come to life.  On the day of the party,  the party flair was loaded into my SUV and transported to Lonnie and Molly’s condo where friends showed up to decorate and lay in wait for the birthday girl.

Roasted Rosemary & Thyme Nuts (from Martha Stewart)

10 cups mixed nuts such as pecans, cashews, whole skin-on almonds, Marcona almonds, and peanuts

  •                                         4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  •                                         3 tablespoons packed light-brown sugar
  •                                         2 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  •                                         1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  •                                         1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  •                                         5 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
  •                                         2 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves only

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place nuts on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until brown and fragrant, 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, heat butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until melted. Continue cooking until butter becomes fragrant and golden brown, taking care not to burn. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, mix together sugar, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, thyme, and rosemary; mix in brown butter. Add nuts and toss to combine. Return nuts to baking sheet and transfer to oven. Bake until nuts are semidry, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely.

Gotta love 3 weeks filled with secrets followed by a “SURPRISE!” finale!  Happy Birthday Molly!

The MOTHER Of All Days

STAY in bed mom. This is the MOTHER of all days! “

I first heard those words from my daughters about 16 years ago and haven’t  really gotten that quote out of my head.  On Mother’s Day morning my two daughters, ages 8 and 6, rushed into my bedroom handing me magazines to read  and instructions to stay in bed because they and their dad were going to cook a special breakfast for me  and deliver it to my lap. They left the room and subsequently returned in waitress mode, donning aprons and carrying pencils and notepads to take my order. Like singer Tim McGraw says….you just don’t forget somethin’ like that.

Mother’s Day Denver Scramble (recipe below)

Clanging, chopping, be-careful-with-that-KNIFE instructions, daddy-how-do-I questions, backyard flower snipping, and excited she’s-gonna-be-surprised conversations could be heard from my upstairs perch as the chefs went to work.

Delivery included two big smiles and two little girls sitting next to me on the bed reminding me to smell my flowers on the nightstand between bites. I don’t think I’ve ever tasted better cooking than those mother’s day breakfasts through the years. To this day I absolutely love it when my daughter cooks for me.

She is now now 24 years old, engaged to be married…and coming over on Mother’s Day with our future son-in-law and BOTH WILL COOK breakfast for me. Nothing could be better.

Oh…and I’m pretty sure the ‘mother of all days’ quote

came directly from their dad.

 

Denver Scramble (origin)
2 tbs unsalted butter
1 small brown onion, diced
1 small green capsicum, deseeded and cubed
1 small red capsicum, deseeded and cubed
185g ham, cubed
8 eggs, beated
salt & groung white pepper
60g tasty cheese, grated
shallots, chooped for garnish- Melt butter in trying pan over medium heat. Add onion, capsicums and saute. Add ham and saute further.
– Add eggs to pan, season to taste over medium-low heat. Stirring until eggs form soft, moist curds. Stir in cheese.
– When done garnish with shallots.
 

Sentimental Momentos

The day we moved our belongings to a new home I remember my mother directing my dad’s friends where to put the boxes they hauled  in from the rented moving truck. Each box was marked by room. When one of the men read the label on his box he asked, “What room do the Sentimental Momentos go?” The men got a big laugh out of it, especially when they discovered how many boxes were marked that way. Somehow mom’s endearing box label stuck with me.

Certain pieces of jewelry fit into my ‘sentimental momento’ category.

Sterling Silver Love You To The Moon And Back Necklace ….available at Etsy.

Sterling Silver I Carry Your In My Heart Necklace…words from E.E. Cummings

The Golden Love Personalized Necklace…from the Golden Pearl

The Sterling Silver Charm Necklace made by…Wonderfully Handmade

Hand stamped Personalized Gold & Silver Charm Necklace…available Etsy

On MOVING day a box of these sentimental momentos…would be easy to carry

and EASY to put away……no joke.

 

-Marsha 5/5/12

 

 

 

 

Changes Were Required After Your Swan Dive

Those words sting in my ears as my husband describes the reasons behind a ‘venue’ change for our anniversary dinners.  In 2008 he planned what turned out to be a catastrophic attempt at romance on Valentines Day. He booked a table at Anthony’s Restaurant in Kirkland, known to us throughout the previous 26 years of our marriage as our ‘anniversary dinner’ spot. Somehow the sunsets looking through the sailboats over Lake Washington stuck a very solid cord with us on our first anniversary (1981) and since that time we returned yearly, like salmon returning to spawn.

 In 2008…he chose to take me to Anthony’s for Valentines Day as well. We had just put our 18-year-old  daughter, Molly, on a plane heading to Utah to visit her friend Abbey for her winter break.

That evening the main floor was very crowded and we were seated on the second floor…..complete with sunset view over the water. Following dinner we headed down the stairs and my new ‘sexy 2-inch valentine’ boot heel became caught in the carpet runner on the stairway. Before I knew it I was flying down the stairs, airborne, landing head first at the bottom of the staircase, facing the ceiling in the waiting area. Aside from creating horror for the waiting restaurant patrons, I knew something needed to be done about the position in which I found myself. I checked to make sure I wasn’t paralyzed and then flipped my feet over my head to stand up, smiled at the people and walked outside. Shortly thereafter I discovered my hand was broken…wedding ring had to be cut off. Not fun.

For our anniversary two months later, Greg booked a table at another restaurant. I’m sure he was not quite ready to repeat that experience….or he didn’t want to be seen with me at that restaurant so soon afterwards. At any rate, we ate seafood at an overpriced fancy schmancy famous chef’s place in Bellevue and pretended it was the best thing we had eaten since sliced cheese. It took 2 years before we returned to “OUR’ place.

So tonight…we returned to celebrate our 31st anniversary. He said “I love you. Try not to do a swan dive from the second floor”.

Doc Holiday and My Husband Were Friends

The Wedding Bee

By all accounts it appears I’ve been stung by the Wedding Bee . Our daughter is getting married soon and the fun, excitement, planning and Big Bertha Loan application have begun!   Little did I know the wedding industry is where I should have been working all these years.   It’s entirely possible I could have retired early had I specialized soley in wedding florals. Who knew that flowers are as good as gold?

Am I loving this? Absolutely! Okay, so I was kidding about the Big Bertha Loan, but things have changed since my hubby and I got hitched. For those who love parties, planning, crafts, color, food and ambience………this experience is the ultimate! The best part of all is knowing that my daughter is so happy and has chosen the most wonderful man with whom to share her life.  

The bride has selected her dress, which shall remain undescribed  and unphotographed until the day of the wedding, and ‘day-of’ plans have been underway for a few months now.  At this point it is time for the lengthy and probably frustrating process of finding a suitable dress for the mother. Crisis management might be required.