Wednesday, February 26, 2014

three sisters photoshoot ( & Riley:) )

We had a fun photo shoot for no reason other than I wanted some practice & a reason to spend the day outside.  I asked my younger sisters-in-law if they’d model for me, to which they sweetly obligedJ. Then, lo & behold, I showed up & Riley was all duded up too, so he got a few close-ups as well. The day was lovely: somewhat sunny & while not as warm as their cute little dresses might suggest, pleasant all the same.

As you can imagine with three sisters, I didn’t have to do a whole lot of posing. The laughter was natural; a few quirky poses got thrown in; we had fun. 
Riley made a great toter/hauler-through-the-mudder/chauffer. I didn't even have to ask. "Everybody needs a Riley."

(This photo's a little more in keeping with their personalities. They spontaneously decided to jump up & grab a branch: the look on their faces is due to a "crack!" we heard shortly thereafter.)
Katie's the youngest of the three. She's a sweet, innocent girl & can usually be found with her nose in a book. She's arranged her own song on the piano already & practices quite frequently, much to the chagrin of her 17 year old brother.
I LOVE this photo. I cajoled them into posing for me for future engagement shoots, etc. I just wanted to figure out the logistics for photographing shadows through the parasol, but it turned out pretty stinkin' cute with Riley's skinny little Wrangler legs.
As you can see, he wasn't a huge fan of that pose. 
This kid--his sisters had to hide his Wrangler's from him while their mom was in Hawaii, because he'd wear them no matter the amount of mud on them. He is such a farmboy, always out careening on the Mule (the Kawasaki kind), setting animal traps, faithful Buck by his side. Since he was an infant, he's been tagging along with the big boys, and I do mean infant. Trent would pack him up in his carseat & take him everywhere. Because of that, (& his name is Riley after all,) he's got a life of adventure & experiences that far outweighs that of other boys his age.

He was only too willing to pose for this one:).

Thursday, February 20, 2014

V-Day 2013

Technically it wasn't our first Valentine's Day: last year on this day dedicated to love, we met each other for the first time after our engagement. It couldn't have been a lovelier Valentine's Day, though we were both indifferent to the fact that it was actually Valentine's Day & were simply smitten with each other. :). Sappiness aside, this Valentine's Day was pretty great, too.

Both of us are a little food snobbish, & prefer our own cooking to going out. So instead of joining the masses at Olive Garden, we went grocery shopping (one of our favorite dates) & picked up some "special" foods. On the menu:
Olive Bread with Dar's Garlic Dipping Oil
Scallops & Prawns in Dar's Special Garlic Sauce
Mushroom & (more) Garlic Risotto
Fresh Green Beans (a major splurge this time of year--only for Valentine's!)
Greek Salad with My-Version-of-Dar's-Special-Dressing
Stoller Wine (our favorite wine! And it's made by distant relatives in Amity, OR. How cool is that?)
Creme Brulee with Fresh Raspberries 

I made some heart-shaped macarons (as promised!). And, okay, I'm cheating a little. I actually made these a week or so before V-Day. But it's the thought, right? They turned out pretty cute. And my mother is coming through in me mightily, but I caved & bought some "festive" sprinkles:). (She is the queen of all things festive & has a sprinkle collection to rival a cupcake bakery.)
 Dar does great in the kitchen. He's claimed one of my many aprons for his own. I think he looks pretty good in it. He prefers sauteing & adding a dribble of this, & a sprinkle of that, to following recipes. It's so fun to watch him at the stove; he gets into a mode & doesn't even notice me taking pictures. And he's got this little wrist shake to sprinkle in seasonings that I find adorable. He kind of lifts up his pinkie like he's sipping Earl Grey & delicately sprinkles...swoon. Ahem, anyway...I kind of like him.

 There's the spread. It was delicious. 
I'm so thankful for the 8 months (yikes! Has it really been that long already?) Dar & I have shared together. And as much as I thought I liked him last Valentine's Day, I love him even more today.

Monday, February 17, 2014

a prayer for those who sorrow

This weekend was one of joy here in Oregon with a wedding & many visitors.
But in Illinois, it was one of loss & sorrow.

I don't feel like I can post photos of anything beautiful or talk of the first Valentine's Day Dar & I shared or the rainbows from Saturday or my first wedding photoshoot as I'd planned to when there are two families whose lives won't ever be the same. I remember being in that cold, numb place & seeing people go about their everyday lives & wondering how they could be so cold & heartless. Yet, that will be me this time. My day will go one. I will complete my little daily routines as I always do. Not every waking thought will be an aching one, wondering why. 

My heart goes out to the Kuntz family--Rollyn was my Sunday school teacher when my dad died, & I have a distinct memory of his gentle sympathy to my eight-year old self then. He reminded me of my dad; both were pig farmers of less-than-giant stature. Back then, we had no way of knowing that someday, I'd be able to return the empathy he offered me then. But I can, & I do. Their family has a rough road ahead of them. But looking back on my own family's journey since my dad died, I can attest that God is a wonderful, merciful, faithful God. And I pray that the Kuntz family would feel that, too.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

w + k wedding weekend

Whew. The weekend was wonderful, albeit a blur of one. Wes + Kinsey make a...bright pair. They are both fond of humor, energetic, & love God in a lively way. My two brothers have both chosen to marry friends of mine (through no prodding on my part, I promise!) & it makes for an easy, natural transition into sisters-in-law. Living 2,000 miles away makes for some lamentable feelings of distance & being removed from the goings-on though. It was kind of strange to witness the weekend having only seen them together in person once. (!!). BUT, but, I know this is a beautiful arrangement of God & I can honestly say I have full confidence that their marriage will be one of vivacity, love, & illustrative of God's plan for a man & a woman. I only have small moments of worry & pity for Kinsey having to put up with Wesley's weirdisms. Kidding. Kind of. She will be able to handle him and laugh at his quirks. God knows what He's doing. 

Rehearsal Dinner

Small Moments in Between
A perk about being there for a wedding was that we were forced to spend the whole weekend with family. Such a shame:). My nieces & nephews are as charming as ever. They all still appear to remember their Aunt Jenna which is very thrilling for her. Roxy told her mom, "Why can't Darwin just buy that field [one in Illinois for sale] & farm out here?" River still talks about "his other house & his other car" in Oregon from their September 2013 visit. Madeira chose my arms over those of a local uncle :)). Sad for him, happy for me. 

 I LOVE this photo of my littlest niecey & the lovely woman she gets her looks from. Just look at that sweet little hand pulling her mama in for a hug:). 
 David commandeered my camera (as he usually does) & took some photos. I always love looking at the photos he takes--it's very telling what a 10-year old boy finds interesting & worthy of a photo. Plus, there are usually some (unattractive, but at least they prove I was there) photos of me.
 doing what they do best. 
 The Reception
We arrived in Illinois from the West Coast to find a winter wonderland. Although the locals may feel differently due to the longevity of it, we found it beautiful! The sun came out Saturday & Sunday to transform the blankets of snow into fields of sparkling diamonds. The blue sky came down & met the snow-capped horizon in a blue so pale, they just melded together & it was hard to tell where land ended & sky began. If you must get married in the winter, this is how it should be. Wesley + Kinsey couldn't have ordered a more beautiful wedding day. God's presence was definitely felt through His awesome show of nature. The decor at the reception reflected that with its sparkly blue accents & show-stopping real-live silver trees. (I don't have a photo of those unfortunately).  

 a drink bar that was a HUGE hit: hot chocolate with peppermint sprinkles, chocolate chips, whipped cream, mini marshmallows; coffee, cappuccino. Absolutely perfect for the time of year & sub-zero temperatures my poor Midwest has been experiencing.

 My sister Lisa planned their honeymoon for them. Their request? "Somewhere warm." They didn't know where they were going until shortly before leaving the reception. Do you think they were excited about going to Cancun? 
 and here is a photo of the snow so you can appreciate what they are leaving behind. 

It was a beautiful wedding. And Kinsey, welcome to the family:)

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

lemon-raspberry layer cake

Dar accused me of choosing a dessert simply for looks when my sister-in-law Alicen asked me to bring dessert to a family gathering Sunday. Of course, he was right:). Dessert is probably my favorite thing to make. Because it looks so pretty. And I can use my china & cakestands. Naturally, taste plays a role, too, but I figured I couldn't go wrong with a lemon-raspberry cake covered in cream cheese frosting. I picked the lemons from my in-laws laden lemon tree (someday, my sad little tree will provide me all the lemons I will desire, but until then!) & used raspberries I'd picked from their garden last summer & put in the freezer. They are such wonderful people that way; what's theirs is yours, & if you don't pick/can/harvest it yourself, they'll do it for you & make you feel like you were doing them the favor in letting them. I feel 100% comfortable showing up unannounced, digging around in the snack cupboard, taking home some eggs from their chickens, taking home food coloring for some valentine's macarons (I'll post photos of that later). Every once in a while, I think with understated awe that I can do this. It's something I'm very grateful for. And they are always sufficiently complimentary of any food I make, which does great things for my ego & culinary confidence.

Monday, February 3, 2014

monday musings: art & a call to action

It’s Monday, and if you’ve read my blog for any amount of time, you know what that means: Monday musings. I don’t know why it is, but Mondays just seem to bring out the philosophical, deep, pensive thoughts in me. My brain feels like a carnival today, bright colorful thoughts careening about, along with a few darker, troubled ones. I am at the same time excited, yet anxious. Anticipating, yet lost.  Hopeful & hopeless.

Here’s an attempt at an explanation. One: I am job-hunting (have been for a few months). Nothing has come up so far. Which is okay. I am enjoying my free time & luxurious afternoons/lunch hours with my farmer husband. Recently though, I got the ball rolling on what could be a really neat opportunity to teach art. I’m not sure where/if it’s going to go. But I have an optimistic feeling about it, & the flutter of excitement at doing art again has me dragging out all my old drawings & pouring through art education books. Plus I feel like this is going to be more than teaching art; it will be a sort of mission field. (Is that too lofty?) Whatever it ends up being, or not being, I am feeling more alive & vibrant than I have for a few months, so it will all be worth it, no matter what happens.

 Some drawings & my planning mess. I feel like drinking from my Columbus, Ohio mug takes me back to my art school days & makes me more creative. 
Two: On a completely different note (or is it?), I’ve been stumbling across all sorts of human trafficking articles, conversations, organizations lately. (Isn’t that weird, Shara? I had no idea you were on the same page…think God’s trying to tell us something?) And I’ve been feeling a call to action. How, I don’t know. What I am supposed to do with my new knowledge that girls in Portland, an hour from my home, are being trapped into a living hell is a little unnerving. I don’t just want to sit & lament the fact that it’s happening. I want to do something! But what? What can I, a simple girl who’s never known such horrors, do? A radio conversation I was listening to pricked me, “You don’t have to do everything. You don’t have to save every girl, every child. But do what you can, where you are. Just do what you can.” And so I feel like God is calling me to do what I can. And I want to. I’m just not sure—outside of prayer & monetary donation—what that is yet. One thing I am sure of is this: God is good and what is impossible with humans is possible with God. So I will try to listen to His leading & be an empty vessel to be used by Him.

So there you have it. The swirling thoughts of my Monday brain. A little deeper than what I normally write, but what is going on in my life (the goal of this blog after all) nonetheless.