Ten things I loved about Dan and Anna’s wedding

This post is long overdue.  A couple weeks ago I had the privilege of attending my friend Anna’s wedding.  It is one of the best weddings I have been to.  I will share with you some reasons that it was a favorite.

  1. Everything was beautiful.  I would describe the style as simple elegance with a splash of fun.  The bridesmaids wore adorable dresses from J Crew.  Anna looked beautiful in her dress.  The flowers were simple, but perfect.  There were so many darling details, down to the scalloped edges of the programs. 
  2. They didn’t take themselves too seriously.  Making vows to love someone and honor them and stay faithful to them forever is serious business.  They in no way made light of that fact.  But they didn’t seem hung up on having everything picture perfect (which made it so much better, because they were themselves in the midst of an incredible and special day in their lives).  They may have even high fived after getting the ring on.  Awesome.
  3. Throughout the ceremony and the reception, it was evident that their families mean the world to them.  Anna’s brother sang a beautiful Jon Foreman song during the ceremony.  He got choked up.  The guitar player sang alongside him to carry him through the song.  It was so great.  Her dad is the pastor of her church she grew up in, and he pronounced them husband and wife.  Before that though, he said a few words to the couple, especially sharing with Anna how proud he is of her.  I may have cried out of my left eye at this point.
  4. Not only did Dan and Anna make vows to one another, but then their parents and guests had the opportunity to also promise to continue to love, support, and pray for this new married couple.  I loved this.
  5. The reception was at Circus World.  Do I even need to say more? 
  6. Instead of a cake, they had cake pops!  They were in a variety of flavors and designs.  Super fun! 
  7. The rode away from the church in a horse drawn carriage.  Dreams do come true!
  8. There were adorably fun and thoughtful touches everywhere: color swirls on the paper straws, cones to fill with popcorn, Barnum’s animal crackers, mustaches and lips on a stick, and a delightful candy bar. 
  9. I repeat: the reception was at Circus World.  Who else can say they had an elephant at their reception.  Or a miniature horse that can do math? 
  10. Anna is one of my favorite people.  She is so genuine, loving, and fun.  She has such a big heart.  I was thrilled to see her marry an amazing guy, and am excited for them as they begin their marriage. 
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The perks of cheering for a losing team.

This weekend I somehow managed to find myself at three Twins games.  In the best of circumstances, this would be of utmost excitement.  However, these days in Twins Territory, we do not find ourselves in the best of circumstances, so I was unsure what number I should truly find myself at on the excitement scale.

All this time at Target Field did allow me to think through the silver lining of being a Twins fan.  I don’t think these principles necessarily need to be solely applied to the Twins.  Feel free to apply them to your child’s t-ball team, your friend’s city soccer league team, or your cousin’s intramural broomball team.

Perk #1: It is a no pressure situation.  You know that fun excitement/nervous/butterflies/anxiety you feel when your team is on the cusp of greatness?  I remember this energy at game 163 in the Dome in 2009 – it ended in a win!  I also remember this energy at the last play-off game we played at Target Field in 2010.  It ended so poorly.  Exiting that night was the saddest and longest walk down a ramp I’ve ever experienced.  When your team is expected to play poorly and lose though, it really takes away the stress!  How nice is that?

Perk #2: Giveaways have more irony, because you are also giving away players.  We traded Jim Thome this week.  I felt like there was no chance for closure or a goodbye.  He is a great player and a great man.  Ironically enough, the giveaway for our first game sans Thome was the Jim Thome Wind-Up Walker.  I guess if he can’t be walking across our field, he can at least walk across our desks.

Perk #2a: We can be happy for others.  Even though it makes me sad, I can see how it was the right move for Thome, and we still are cheering him on in MN, keeping track of his home runs past 600, even though he isn’t hitting them on behalf of the Twins anymore.

Perk #3: Fan greatness comes into play. When your team is doing well, fans aren’t nearly as impressive.  However, when your team forgets that they care, you and all your fellow fans will cheer your heads off for anyone who catches a foul ball in the stands.  You can bet that we just made his night by our applause.  You are welcome, kind sir.  Let’s hope Gardy saw you, and you might have a shot at playing tomorrow.

Perk #4: You can play games.  There is so much to take in at Target Field.  If there is no baseball to watch, you can play I Spy with your friends.  You are sure to see all the important and fun sights this way!  Another fun game is, “Which player from tonight’s line-up would you date?”  If you were busy cheering, you wouldn’t have time to talk about these important issues.

Perk #5:  Calling it an early night.  Normally I am a staunch “I will stay to the bitter end” sort of fan.  But when you are down by so many runs that it would take a true Mother’s Day Miracle to pull out a win, and you have had a long day at work (or the state fair) you could just walk away.  You won’t need to worry about missing anything.

Perk #6: Your expectations are lower.  On Friday, the Twins lost by approximately 1.2 billion.  On Saturday, we only lost by 2 runs!  I was thrilled to be at a game where our loss was so respectable.

Perk #7: The homerun derby comes to you.  Not everyone can go to the homerun derby, but when your team is playing really poorly, the other team may hit homer after homer.  It is like you aren’t even at a real game.  How many more can you guys hit?  Neat!

Perk #8: You can learn from other teams.  “Wow!  I think they call that a Double Play.  Maybe we will try it sometime!  That could be fun and different!”

Perk #9: PTL for an outdoor stadium.  Losing at the dome wasn’t nearly as fun as losing at Target Field, where you can enjoy some fresh air, a cool night’s breeze, and bugs zooming at your face.

Perk #10: You really get to know the minor league teams.  If your team is doing well and staying healthy, you just see the same old players all the time. But if players are on the “I suck list” and the DL, you get a chance to scope out the up and coming talent.

Perk #11: When you do win, it is so much sweeter.  Today we beat the Tigers 11-4.  (Special thanks go out to Luke Hughes for making that win possible).  I hadn’t heard Beautiful Day at the end of a game in forever.  It doesn’t raise my expectations higher for next time, but it sure was nice to head to Target Field and see the Twins actually play baseball!

In the jungle, the mighty jungle…

Welcome to part 3 of baby shower baking, in which I tell you about making the jungle animal cupcakes, and then we can safely move on to bigger and better things, like the MN State Fair, returning to work, Friday Fundays 3,4, 5, and attending lame Twins games. 

First off, I made two different types of cupcakes.  The main show: the jungle animals, were oreo cupcakes – one of my favorite semi-homemade cupcake recipes.  Here is a link to the recipe from Beantown Baker.  And I’ll fully admit I used store bought frosting.  Sometimes you just have to admit that if there isn’t enough time in the day, and people will enjoy them regardless.

The flamingo cupcakes were strawberry cupcakes, a’la Annie’s Eats.  The frosting was to die for.  I was a bit scared about it, because the last strawberry frosting I made was a bit runny, and the directions seemed a bit intense for this strawberry meringue frosting.  However, having made it, I will say that it tastes like strawberry ice cream, and is among the top five decisions I made in 2011.  Yum!  I used the cupcake recipe posted here and the frosting recipe posted here.

Alright, on to the business of decorating.

I got my inspiration from two sources.  You can find more detail directions on the water animals in this book: What’s New, Cupcake.  The land animals were inspired by Betty, and you can find the deets here.

To decorate the lion cupcake: 

  • I used two shapes of orange frosting
  • The mane is caramel corn
  • The eyes and nose are mini chocolate chips
  • The mouth is piped on from a ziplock bag with the corner clipped
  • The whiskers are pretzels, broken into thirds
To decorate the monkey cupcake:

  • He is frosted with chocolate frosting
  • The mouth area color I created by mixing a little chocolate and a little vanilla frosting together
  • The ears are Junior Mints
  • The mouth is frosting piped on
  • The eyes are a dollop of white frosting piped on with a mini chocolate chip on top
To decorate the zebra cupcake:

  • First let’s say a word about making black frosting.  I did some googling, and the option I went with was starting with chocolate frosting and then adding blue and purple food coloring.  This worked pretty well!
  • Slice along the top of the cupcake liner to create a slit in which you can insert a Nilla Wafer.  Put a little frosting in the hole and/or on the wafer before sliding it in to help it stay put.
  • Frosting the cupcake with white frosting
  • Frost the wafer with black frosting
  • His ears are a black jelly bean cut in half
  • His eyes and nostrils are mini chocolate chips
  • His stripes are black frosting piped on
To decorate the tiger cupcake:

  • Like the lion he is frosted with two shades of orange frosting.  Ooh, here is a note about the orange frosting: I used a lot of red and yellow food coloring to achieve the color orange.  This meant a lot of mixing.  This meant that by the time I was ready to frost the cupcakes, the frosting was a drippy mess.  I put it in the fridge for a bit to firm it up and worked on some other cupcakes in the meantime.  Alright, let’s carry on…
  • His ears are Dots candy
  • His eyes and nose are mini chocolate chips
  • His stripes are triangle shaped and made of black frosting piped on
  • His mouth is also piped on
To decorate the alligator/crocodile cupcake:

  • Note: I made the head in the morning, went canoeing, came back and baked the cupcakes, frosted them, and plopped his head on the top.
  • To make the head shape, I cut off the sides of a Nutter Butter cookie/cracker/sandwich thing to create a triangular face for him.
  • To make him green, there were a couple steps.  1) Put some sugar and green food color in a ziplock.  Shake.  Put the now green sugar in a bowl.  2)  Frost the Nutter Butter, dip in sugar bowl to coat.
  • His nostrils are mini chocolate chips
  • His eyes are green Fruit Loops
  • The book showed teeth piped on with white frosting, but I couldn’t be bothered.
  • I frosted the cupcakes with blue frosting, then rolled the edge of the cupcake in blue sugar (created the same was as the green sugar)
  • Then I threw his head on top and threw the cupcake in the fridge so all the parts could become best friends and it wouldn’t melt apart.
Decorating the hippo cupcake:

  • This hungry, hungry, hippo was the easiest to make.  So if you are just making one animal, he might be a great option.  Adorable, yet simple!
  • Henry’s head (I just decided that is probably his name) is a Nutter Butter.
  • Use a dab of frosting to attach orange fruit loops for the nose and ears, and mini chocolate chip eyes.
  • I put it in the fridge at this point to help everything become one, and I left to canoe.
  • When I can back, I made the cupcakes, frosted them blue, rolled the edges in blue sugar, and set the hippo on top!  Done!
And, the flamingos: 

  • I started with the heads, and used a bit of pink melting chocolate to connect a pink jelly bean with half a Runts banana.  The picture showed eyes and a tiny black dot on the beak, but I was reaching the end of my decorating patience.
  • To create the wings I piped some pink melting chocolate onto wax paper in the shape of wings.
  • The neck is a pretzel dipped in pink melting chocolate and then I carefully attached the head, laid it all on wax paper and put it in the fridge.
  • After frosting the cupcakes, I stuck in all the pieces, and voila!

* With the strawberry cupcakes, I made 2 dozen flamingos and 1 dozen normal cupcakes, which I just shared with friends and family.  They did not come with the shower, but rumor has it, they are a delicious recipe worth repeating.

Oh, and I made the cupcake stand, following Annie’s directions posted here.  A couple of notes:
  1. You can buy the pre-cut circles at Michael’s in the cake decorating area.
  2. I used tacky glue instead of a hot glue gun (because that is what I had available).  It worked!
  3. If you start at night, then finish the next day, put the lid on your glue.  Otherwise in the morning you will stumble out of bed, go back to crafting, pick up the glue and think, “Jeepers, will the glue even still come out?”  You will then look straight down into it, squeeze as hard as you can, the spurts of glue will shoot out and attack your hair.  I mean… hypothetically speaking and all that…

And, I should say that the consensus after the shower was that I should open a bakery.  While I do not have plans to do that (I still am a fan of that teaching gig), if you need cupcakes (not necessarily of the animal variety) for an event/party, let’s talk!  Email me at merrydaysblog@gmail.com.

You are a trooper if you read all of this.  Congrats.  Gold star for you.

Lions and tigers and monkeys – oh my!

I promised a little tutorial on the cake pops and cupcakes I made for Steph’s baby shower, so here goes fulfilling the first half of my promise.  I will start with the cake pops and then someday soon explain the cupcakes.

It is said that a magician never reveals his secrets.  You should be glad that I am a baker, not a magician, so I am allowed to tell you my secrets.  (Ok, let’s be realistic.  They are not big secrets.  You can probably even figure it out just by looking at the pictures). 

Currently, I am mostly exhausted after a middle of the night run to the airport and then actually going to work (I know, I should probably take a nap now – I don’t want to over-do it!)  So we will start this post out and hope my coherency lasts to the end of it.  Good luck to us all – me: the writer, and you: the reader.

When I first envisioned myself making cake pops for the shower, I thought I would make some pink with white sprinkles and some blue with white sprinkles – simple and classy and keeping the “is it a boy or a girl” mystery alive.

Then we decided on this jungle theme, and I thought to myself, “Hmm… how hard could it be to make jungle themed cake pops?”  I did some google image searches and I found some inspiration.   

I didn’t take any pictures along the way – my apologies.  It was a long enough process without getting out the camera.  I loved making them, but if you add up all the baking and decorating I did last week (not all of it is pictured here, as not all of it was for the shower) the total time adds up to 5/6 discs of Veronica Mars Season 2, Free Willy and half of Free Willy 2.  The great thing about cake pops though is I didn’t need to finish in one sitting.  I rolled the balls and stuck them in the fridge on a cookie sheet and decorated them throughout the week as I had time.

First off, to make cake pops (sans fancy decorations), you need

  1. A box of cake mix (I used a fudge chocolate)
  2. A can of frosting (I used cream cheese)
  3. Sticks (I bought them at Michael’s)
  4. Wilton’s melting chocolates (At least that is the variety I use – also from Michael’s)

Make the cake according to the directions on the box.  Let it cool.  Then, in a large bowl, crumble it up and mix it together with the frosting, until it is completely mixed together.  Form it into balls, then chill.

Take a few out of the fridge at a time, dip the stick into the melting chocolate, then place it in the cake ball.  Dip the cake ball into the melting chocolate until it is completely coated.  Decorate the cake pop and let it stand in a block of styrofoam until cool and hardened.

To decorate the monkey cake pop: 

  • I dipped the cake pop in brown melting chocolate.
  • I used two cute little pre-made eyes* that I bought at Michael’s.  I promise they are from the edible section, not the kids’ art supplies section.
  • The mouth is a butterscotch chip with a smile drawn on using an edible marker.
  • The ears are Reese’s Pieces.

*My sister-in-law said to me, “We were walking in Target and we say little eyeballs and thought of you!”  So great 🙂

To decorate the lion cake pop: 

  • I dipped him in yellow melting chocolate.
  • I rolled the edges in yellow and orange fancy sprinkles by Duff (sold at Michael’s).
  • The nose is a mini chocolate chip.
  • The eyes and mouth are drawn on with an edible marker.

To decorate the tiger cake pop: 

  •  I dipped it in orange melting chocolate.
  • The eyes are the candy eyes I used for the monkeys.
  • The nose is a mini chocolate chip.
  • The whiskers and mouth are drawn on with an edible pen.
  • To make the tiger stripes, I put brown melting chocolate in a ziplock, clipped the corner, and piped on the stripes.  (Is that an appropriate usage of the word pipe?  I don’t know.  I will just go with it.  Act confident, Laura).

So, there you go!  Easy as 1-2-3.  Well, maybe the numbering should go up a little higher than 3 there.  I promise they aren’t actually that difficult, but they are a bit time consuming.  However, people love them, so it is worth the effort!  

Oh, and to display/serve them at the shower, I took a block of styrofoam, covered it in baby-jungle-wrapping paper, and then glued some zebra ribbon around the edge.

And as a little bonus, here is another cute picture of a cute baby! 

Wild to Meet You (in a few months)

alternately titled: Jungle Baby Shower

alternately titled: Why People Think I am a Cake Pop Dealer 

Sara and I had the honor this past weekend of throwing a baby shower for our dear friend Stephanie.  We are so excited for the arrival of their new little one this fall!  The new baby will have an adorable jungle themed nursery, so we decided that would also be the perfect shower theme. 

Sara is an incredible cook and she really out-did herself with so many delicious foods.  She also was a gracious host, and opened up her home for us – even with have a 16(?) week old baby of her own.  She is one impressive lady! 

The Menu:

  • Amazing hot sandwiches in two varieties: turkey or ham – I don’t know what they had on them, but they were super good. 
  • Deviled eggs
  • Cucumbers topped with delicious red pepper-ness
  • Strawberry Poppyseed Salad 
  • Broccoli Salad
  • Raspberry Lemonade
  • Almond Iced Tea 
  • Did I mention the delicious fresh fruit served in a watermelon that Sara carved to look like a baby carriage?  Seriously, she is amazing. 

I was in charge of desserts, and once we picked a jungle theme, that clearly would dictate what desserts I would make.  My sibs had given me a cupcake decorating book for Christmas, and I was fairly certain that it had some jungle animals.  So between that and the internets, I had all the inspiration I needed, and now I only hoped I had the skills to created something resembling animals out of baked goods.

I served oreo cupcakes frosted to look like:

  • tigers
  • alligators
  • hippos
  • lions
  • monkeys
  • zebras 

I served strawberry cupcakes decorated like flamingos. 

And I made cake pops to look like tigers, monkeys, and lions. 

For those of you interested in the how, I will share the details later this week.  If you make them and have extras, I can also give you tips of sharing them, including serving size and photo evidence that they are being shared by the recipients.  However, people might ask you if you are cupcake and/or cake pop dealer.  This may have happened.  People also may refuse to eat them, saying they are too cute.  Remind them that while it is awfully life-like, this is actually not a real animal.  If you don’t name them, that helps.

Sara also made a diaper cake with adorable jungle diapers and cute finger puppets and toys. 

We aren’t really big into the shower games, so I was excited when I saw this idea while doing some googling.  Each guest got a card with sentence starters to write a letter to the baby.  We also took a picture of everyone with Steph, and we are going to put them together into a jungle scrapbook for her to enjoy and remember this special time of  preparing for her son or daughter’s arrival. 

Other than that, we opened gifts and saw adorable little outfits and toys. 

It was fun to see the girls who were able to make it, as I hadn’t seen several of them in years.  I can’t wait for the arrival of Steph and Jonathan’s new little one – he or she is a lucky baby to have such loving parents waiting his/her arrival. 

p.s.  this little lady wins for most adorable guest and cutest party dress.  Seriously, how cute is she!?

A hipster I am not.

This weekend has been great!  Sara and I threw a baby shower on Saturday morning (I will share details and pictures later.  Right now I can’t be bothered to put the pictures on my computer).  We had so much fun preparing delicious foods (Sara) and fun desserts (me) for Stephanie, our guest of honor.  She and her husband are having a jungle themed nursery for their new little one when he or she arrives, so it seemed fitting to have a jungle themed baby shower!

Post-baby shower, my dad fixed my brakes!  My car now accelerates and stops.  Amazing!  And it seems as though I have a working air bag again as well.  I haven’t tested this theory though, as that seems unsafe and foolish since I just had all this work done my car.

He finished just in time for me to head to Amber’s for a little carpool action.  We went to a bbq for our friend Johannes, who lives in Germany, but interned at our church a few years ago.  It was super fun to see him again – I am glad he came to visit us in Minnesota.  He said that since I didn’t visit while I was in Deutschland this summer, that he had to come here.  I told him I waited for him for hours in Munich, and he never showed.  The jury is still out on what really happened 😉  Naturally I brought jungle themed cake pops and cupcakes to this party as well.  I mean – zebras, tigers, and alligators live in the Black Forest, right???

Then the carpool headed out to pick up a fifth passenger, our new friend Molly.  We headed towards the good old U for the West Bank Music Fest.  I really had no idea what I was going to, and mostly just like doing fun things with friends.  We ended up listening to three bands and it was delightful (even if it was past my bedtime).

Highlights include: electric mandolin, ukelele, and banjo.  And Farewell Milwaukee.  They are delightful chill music.*  I might be listening to them via their Facebook page as I type this.  When we left that night, I wanted to stop at their table and tell them I was their new biggest fan.  But I did not.  My friends suggested after we left that I walk past the window where they were sitting and bang on the glass, then mouth the words “I love your music.  And we want to know what conditioner you use for your long locks”  But once again, I did not.

Which leads me to my title.  This is absolutely a hipster music fest.  We were surrounded by plaid shirts, fedoras, and skinny jeans.  I was still in my baby shower clothes.  To say the least, my white ruffle shirt, bright pink cardigan, j crew sparkly necklace, and pink flower in my hair weren’t really blending in.  I don’t think I could ever pass for a hipster if I tried, but a) I do enjoy their music and b) I’d at least like to not stand out like a pink ruffle girl next time.  Oops.

*for clarification to my family, when I talk about chill music, I still don’t mean spooky-chilling music, but rather chilling as in the act of chilling/relaxing.  I will never have an itunes playlist of scary music.

less complaining and more listing

Right now my idea for a title of this post is “Things about my week that didn’t suck” (referring to the things, not my week).  But I’m trying to think of something more clever.  Or not as depressing sounding.  (turns out I went with more vague)

If I had to vote on a week of the summer to be the worst, it would be this one.

If I have to quote lyrics from the radio it would be, “It’s been a really really messed up week.  Seven days of torture.  Seven days of bitter.”

Then I said, “Laura, pull yourself together.  You are fine.  Stop crying at the grocery store.”  And so I decided to make a list of the good things about my week.  I was surprised at the length of the list, and it made me feel better/made me feel confused on why I still would rate it a 3/10.

So without further ado, here is less complaining and more listing:

  • everyone’s favorite German is back in town!
  • a wedding reception with an elephant at it!
  • tomorrow I get to celebrate with friends at a baby shower!
  • I got to bake lots of fun things.  I won’t tell you what they are yet, but I will give you a clue with this photo of the cake pop graveyard: 
  • Friends and a fav movie on the rooftop of Solera
  • Cute babies and one year olds having birthdays
  • A beautiful night for Twins baseball (we will work on the inspirational athleticism for next time)
  • My car now accelerates (we are still working on the stopping part.  But really, brakes are overrated, yes?)
  • Future Target shopping trips
  • A dad who will fix my brakes and replace headlights
  • A mom who will be stranded in her home so I can borrow her car
  • A tall brother who can reach smoke detectors and lightbulbs (I promise I have really tall ceilings – I’m not just a wuss who won’t stand on a chair)
  • Cousins and aunts and free lunches and Twins tickets
  • Friends who care
  • Canoeing on Friday Funday
  • Actually getting my to do list completed with seven minutes to spare
  • The way the accidentally squirting glue in your hair really helps your bangs stay in place all day…
I have less than a week left of summer vacation.  I plan for it to be awesome.  Get excited.  (no, I don’t have any actual plans.  but I will think of something, and it will be great.)

How about some Quetzales?

My car and I are in a fight.  It thinks that it wants to be fixed, and I think that I want to have money in my bank account.  What a quandary.

In light of our argument, I have been brainstorming alternate payment ideas.  Here is what I have come up with.

  • I could bake cupcakes for the car repairmen every day for the next 20 years.
  • I could buy a llama and ride it to work each day.
  • in the same spirit, come winter, a horse drawn sleigh could be used.
  • I could quickly marry someone rich and be driven everywhere in a limo by my chauffeur.
  • A lemonade stand where I sell really expensive lemonade (I think I know some kids who could do some advertising for me).
  • I could sell all my headbands
  • I could record and sell CDs of ridiculous children’s songs that get stuck in your head for years (I’m pretty sure my family is still singing “Days of the Week”).
  • I could be a street performer with my piccolo and/or recorder.
  • Tap dance performer?
  • I could teach seminars about Canada Day and why it is awesome.
  • I could open my own marionette theater.
  • I could do dramatic readings of the phone book.

I can’t decide which path to go down, so in the meantime, I will be grateful that my awesome dad can help me with some repairs to save me a few dollars.

Oh look, my small stash of foreign currency!  No longer will I hold onto it to show the kiddos… I have a much better cause to put it towards now.

Excuse me kind sir, I thought I would offer you these Quetzales instead. They are much more colorful than American dollars. Don't you want the pretty money??

Loving the Lake: highlights from our week

Because I am at the lake, obviously I can’t be bothered to type in full paragraphs.  Instead I will just share with you a bulleted list of some quality lake-side moments with the fam this week.

  • David discovering his secret talent at Yahtzee
  • The neighbor girl getting a butterfly net stuck on her head
  • Rachel’s super creepy hood on her super cute shirt 
  • Rachel asking, “Do I need to wear pants?”  which out of context is amazing.
  • Fishing 
  • Seeing an Eagle catch a fish in the water
  • Seeing what we are pretty sure is a volcano erupting over the tree line 
  • David convincing me that one of the loons is all brownish because of an oil spill
  • My mom suggesting that for their anniversary, she and my dad go tubing together while I drive the boat – my dad replying by offering to go fill up the tube.  I don’t like to drive the boat, but I might have done it to see that
  • The moment in which I thought I saw a giant purple Care Bear waving at me from shore.  (clearly I was not wearing my glasses).  After I blinked, I realized it was hanging purple flower plant things.
  • Celebrating Rachel’s birthday with angry faces that her friend already got her the same gift as us.
  • My dad trying iced coffee.  He concedes it is better than lukewarm coffee.
  • The time us kids went out for a boat ride and my brother cautioned me to wear my rain jacket.  Then THIS happened.  And yes, I was the only one in the boat who was wet. 
  • Playing Boggle with “Zach” and “Meredith” (we clearly couldn’t be bothered to change the names on the ipad)
  • Lining up on the front porch, facing the lake, reading books (we were in chairs, not lined up like the Von Trapp children…)
  • Having Muskrat Love in our heads all week long after our nature sighting. 
  • Watching the neighbor girl push her brother’s clothes into the fire pit
  • Watching Pippi Longstocking (ok, I only watched like 10 minutes because of the spotty internet, but it was an amazing 10 minutes of standing in the middle of the room, next to my brother, holding my ipod at the perfect angle to get maximum internet bars while my brother did the same thing trying to download ipad games)
  • Googling things like Psalty the Singing Song Book and singing along in efforts to be fully prepared for our week at the cabin 
  • Watching the neighbor boy push his TINY little wheelbarrow filled with beer cans down to the recycling
  • Dad making delicious breakfast for us every day (Speaking of, Dad – I’m feeling a bit hungry now.  Could you come make me some pancakes please?)
  • Ice Cream!  (this is the before picture, when things are going well.  I will start taking ice cream eating lessons soon, because not long after this picture was taken, I somehow broke my cone in multiple places, causing it to ooze ice cream everywhere and eventually forcing me to abandon my ice cream eating efforts) 
  • Spending time with my family
  • Perfecting the art of relaxation 

Carter and Eagles: my fishing nemesi

Wictionary tells me that the plural of nemesis can be nemeses or nemesi.  I think nemesi sounds away cooler even though spell check is not a fan (you can’t see the red squiggly lines at home, but trust me when I say they are here as I type).  Anywho, back to explaining the who and why of my archenemies.

Traditionally when we are at the lake, all six of us pile into the boat, and in the fashion of a clown car, go crappie fishing at night.  My dad takes care of the trolling motor and generally let’s us do our thing until all pandemonium breaks loose.  My mom and I fish and catch respectable amounts of fish, Rachel catches a fish every time she even thinks about casting, my brother takes off the fish for us, and other Rachel attempts to fish while being relegated to minnow duty (because she is brave and willing).  Whew, I am exhausted just typing all that out.  (p.s. do you love that you never know which Rachel I am talking about??  Welcome to my life).

That is the last few years.  This year we wised up and took turns fishing in the evenings so that we stop stepping on each other.  Probably in protest of our change in fishing tradition, the crappies decided to leave their home where we have consistently caught them by the dozens.  We spent the week following their scavenger hunt clues to find their new hang out spot.  

The night I caught the most fish, I caught two.  (I know, I made it sounds more impressive in my facebook status.)  But since I was the first in the boat to catch a fish that night, my dad asked how I had been fishing.  I said, “um….” and I turned to look at him, and he said, “Never mind, I can’t take you seriously in your hot pink sweatshirt and floral sunglasses.”  To which I sassily replied, “um, these are the sunglasses that caught the fish.”  and my mom said, “yes, I want to hear what she has to say.” I could tell by her tone of voice, she knew whatever I came up with would sound ridiculous to anyone who knows anything about fishing.  My strategy went something like, “Well, you know.  I cast.  And then I let the boat drag my minnow for a bit.  And whenever I got bored I’d reel in a little.”  I clearly am a pro.  Or at least felt like one until we were fishing near Carter and his stupid boat. (we are not bitter).

Carter caught a fish pretty much every thirty seconds.  After Carter caught a fish, his entire family would cheer for him.  Before they were done cheering, he would catch another.  It would have been really quite impressive if we hadn’t been busy angrily muttering to ourselves. (we are not bitter).

I looked at their boat to try and figure out what they were doing that we weren’t.  We were fishing in virtually the same spot.  We all had fishing poles.  We were all casting and reeling in.  Why did the fish like Carter so much better than us?  The observable differences: Carter is 8.  Carter’s boat is very noisy with the chatter of his three year old sister.  Carter’s boat says “Pro Fisherman” on the side.  A HA!  Carter is clearly a professional.  I don’t feel so bad anymore.  (we are not bitter)

Just when you thought we couldn’t be more impressed than by Carter and his awesome fishing skills, an Eagle swoops down and catches a fish in it’s talons.  I can’t even catch a fish with a fishing pole, and now this Eagle makes it look SO easy.  It is like it was saying, “Hey Laura!  Just use your hands.  It’s super easy!  Watch me!  C’mon!  Just grab the fish!”

So, while my dad and I didn’t get to bond this year through me being the assistant while he cleans the fish each night (due to the distinct lack of fish to clean), the rest of us did bond over being jealous of a small child.  And an eagle.

p.s.  Carter, don’t let my tone of bitterness fool you – somewhere deep down inside, I am happy for you.  Maybe next time you could toss me a couple of your catches and I can feel like a champion too??