Monday, December 29, 2008

Lofty Goals

I'm not a NYR. New Year's Resolutioner. I made that up myself. Brilliant, I know. So here's the thing. I've never done it before and I'm not where I want to be, so what the heck can it hurt. Also, to further be self destructive, I will point out that when I make a goal* it generally has the opposite effect. Yeah, another thing I need to change.

Think. Positive. Thoughts. Maybe that should be my mantra this year. Ok, yeah, we're going with that. (Bear with me, this is going to be a somewhat rambling post, I'm thinking out loud here.)

*As opposed to "resolutions", I'm going to work towards "goals". I want to accomplish things, not necessarily change things. Those things that NEED changing will hopefully work themselves out while I am making the effort to learn, grow, and build a better foundation.

Here we go:

I've got this nice new camera. I want to branch out and use it for more than just for fun. I'm not 100% ready to do that, so I need more practice. I am going to try to post a photo a day to my flickr account (and here if I can). I've joined a 365 Group on flickr and am going to try their scavenger hunt (which will help with daily subjects). I'm pretty excited about this goal. It's a fun goal and it will be motivating to work towards completing something that I really enjoy.

No, I'm not jumping again. Though you could say that this whole post is one big emotional/spiritual jump. I don't do "working out". I'm not a gym person, I don't have the discipline to say "I will work out 4 days a week!!!!" I do have the discipline to say, I'm going to take more walks, visit more trails, get up off the couch more. I think Goal #1 dovetails in to this one pretty well.


I went to Eno River State Park, yesterday, and found myself a little surprised at how happy it made me to be on a bit of adventure. Climbing these trails, enjoying the weather, the outdoors. I mean, it had me thinking of going camping.....there must have been something in the air. The photos were fun to take, while I was having fun moving. See the pattern?


3. SAVE, Already!
This is a tough one. I did not inherit the saving gene from my parents. I am the definition of "burning a hole in your pocket". But, again, I'm not where I want to be and the only thing that will change that is doing something. So, I am going to save. We're not talking beans and rice here, we're talking baby steps. I'm going to do what I can. If I overextend myself, I am defeating the goal before I even start.

4. Visit, YOU.
I miss my family. All of them. It hurts my OWN feelings that I've never met Maggie and BW. I've never seen where JJ&C live. I want to visit C&C's home. I want to spend time with my Granny, without her having to endure the trip across the country. I want to go back to Portland and enjoy it without a 104 degree fever, and visit Allegra's beautiful home on the coast. I want to make more effort to spend time with the people I love. Here's the thing: this one doesn't dovetail so well with #3. But, I want to make an effort. I want to do WHAT I CAN. You know the saying, "Do Unto Others...".

5. STOP settling.
I am settler. No, I'm wasn't a pioneer or a wagon puller. I settle for the way things are. As much as it hurt to hear, as the truth usually does, I have a bad habit for "taking the easy way." Say it with me "I'm not where I want to be, so...". This one may sound a bit on the general side but if I use it as Mantra B, those baby steps will turn in to grown up steps.

Again, I don't want to over extend myself. I know my limits. Five is a good number. These are strong goals, something I can be proud of, a year from now. And you know what? It is ok to fail, because I am not perfect. It is ok to fail, as long as you get back up and keep trying.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Evening

Well, I have been a good American citizen, and ate like a pig today. The height of first world complaints, I am stuffed. Mom, Dad and I had a great day. We moved at a slow pace (sometimes to our stomach's dismay) and enjoyed our time together.

We did dinner a little differently, this year. Dad prepared a whole ham, instead of the pre-cooked kind we have had before. He got up this morning and made a honey-brown sugar glaze, and the ham started it's slow roast to deliciousness after breakfast. Behold the pork goodness.

Usually, our vegetable of choice is the tried and true Green Been Casserole. But again, we were mixing things up, so we decided on Creamed Spinach. None of us were brave enough to attempt making it from scratch, so we decide to buy it pre-made. There was no Boston Market brand to be found in the stores, but I lucked out again at Trader Joe's. For some reason creamed spinach does not have the most appetizing presentation...but it was very tasty.

Behold, Funeral Potatoes. Though they bear an unfortunate name and recipes really vary from person to person, they are some serious taste-ations.

By special request, I was able to partake in one of the heavenly parts of life. Bread, Bundt Bread. I don't know where Mom got the recipe (though I could go downstairs and ask her), but it is one of my all time favorite breads. Buttery, crispy outside. Soft, lovely inside. Please do not attempt to eat your monitor/screen.

As I mentioned, dinner came together very slowly. We were all pretty hungry by the time we sat down to eat. No sooner than we had a chance to look at the spread on the table before us, the phone rang. Wade called from his mission!! We had been waiting all day to talk to him, postponed our annual Christmas Movie Outing, so we wouldn't miss the chance to speak with him and he called right as we were about to eat. So, Mom put him on speaker phone and we talked to him throughout the meal, dishes afterwards and closed out the conversation while enjoying a post meal relaxation on the couch. It was great to hear his voice, which strangely sounds like Clarke more and more every day.

Mom and Dad talked to Clarke for a while this morning and we are all anxious to have him back home from Afghanistan. We've been thinking about spending next Christmas out in Salt Lake City with him and his wife Carrie. If we are lucky enough, and the weather is nice enough (Utahns are "enjoying" the ultimate White Christmas this year) James and his family might be able to join us for some of the festivities.

James called this morning to share the excitement of Carter's first Christmas. They sent a video of Carter enjoying his first experiences with unwrapping presents and riding his new rocking horse. What a great treat to be able to have the opportunity to live in a day and age where we are able to share in their day, like that.

Our evening was spent napping, snacking and desserting. In other words, generally enjoying our quiet happy day. I hope you all had a wonderful day. Merry Christmas.

Christmas Morning

Wade, James and Clarke: I want you to know how much I miss you today. It was great fun to spend Christmas morning with Mom and Dad and I know you are all living wonderful full lives out in the world, but I missed having you here with us. Pulling candy out of our stockings, eternal surprise that there is and always will be an orange at the toe. Taking turns opening presents, excited to see what everyone got. And last but not least, watching Mom and Dad feign surprise with Oscar worthy abandon, at their gifts to and from one another.

This year, the package was labeled "To Lori, From Jim" AND "To Jim, From Lori". I knew trouble was brewing. I asked who was going to open the present and Dad kept saying, "We will each open the half we bought for the other". Those two! Behold, I think this is one of their best/worst performances ever:

Mom told me a couple of weeks ago, that she had a wild idea to make me a gift this year. She had already given me something as a combined Birthday/Christmas gift, from both of them, so I certainly wasn't expecting her to make something. She said that she had a battle with it and she "wasn't going to let it defeat her". Way to build up suspense!!! I must say, it was BEYOND worth the wait. I am so proud of her work and so touched at the love and thought behind the gift. I have to say, this might be one of the best gifts I've ever received.

No holiday is complete without our special breakfast. This year had a twist with the absence of sausage, but bacon came in to save the day. Yum!

I've been on a flower arranging kick, of late. Couldn't stop myself and went ahead and brought some antique vases with me to, as Dad would say, bring on the Fufu. I would really like to find a flower market, where I can select flowers instead of buying pre-made bouquets at the store. I've been really lucky at Trader Joe's with such a great selection, but now that I'm going crazy with doing this, I want to try some new arrangements.

I hope all of you had a very happy Christmas morning. There is still lots of food to be eaten, so I will be back later today to share more.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Cookie Throwdown of 2008

It's that time of year. Presents under the tree, a chill in the air, twinkling lights and....

The Patterson Family
Annual Cookie Decorating Throwdown

I now present you with your 2008 Entries, eligible for voting immediately:

Even if you're lurking, having never commented on this blog before, please feel free to vote for your favorite. Not only do the three contenders want a fair competition, I would love to hear from those of you who are out there silently reading ;). Yes, that means YOU!


{more to come later}

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Lori Jean

Dear Mom,

On this day, all those years ago, a butterfly’s wings fluttered in to the world and set in a motion a life that so many people hold dear. Oh, how lucky we all are.

I look at pictures of you as a young girl and see the sweet person that you have been at every moment I’ve known you. I have never known you to speak an ugly word about another person. Even those at their worst still receive a tender touch in your mind’s eye. You hold the faults of others as a reminder of how to be better, yourself. Never sharing the burden of their defect of character, moments of poor choices or life’s every day fumbles with the world. I appreciate being able to know the people in my life with the beauty you share with me.

Your love for your children is evident in a way I cannot begin to share with everyone. The example you set for your daughter and three sons, showing us how to love, respect and educate those around us. The joy in your voice when you hear the good news of our accomplishments and the forward paths of our lives is a touchstone. And, even in those moments where we falter on that path, stalling or dropping anchor, you are a light on the shore ensuring we know that there is always a rock for us to climb upon.

I am more proud than I can say that I have parents with a continuing loving relationship, filled with respect and support for one another. To hear Dad speak of his love for you is more than my heart can bear. To watch you still hold hands after 33 years of marriage is a gift you give your four children every day.

You have given us many gifts in your 32 years as a parent. The tangible ones, always given with much thought and care. But, I feel safe I can speak for my brothers when I say that the gifts we hold most dear are the priceless talents you have shared with us. Your love of travel; taking us on trips around the country, showing us sites and scenes many people take for granted or have never even seen. Your love of history; sure, we may have scoffed at playing that Constitution game from time to time. But, as children do, we grew to appreciate and share the love you have for our Country and its rich history. Your passion for nature and gardening; it is such a pleasure to arrive at your home and see all of your hard work growing and blossoming because of your efforts. Your yearning for knowledge; always reading, researching, seeking for better understanding and greater information. Your faith; such a peaceful part of life to witness your comfort in knowing that there is a Heavenly Father that knows us and will guide us in our lives.

Personally, I want you to know that no matter where I am in my life I will always love and cherish my friendship with you. Though I may not always take the path you would like for me to take, I want you to know how grateful I am that you still support me and love me. This year has been one that I have burdened your heart more than anyone should have to bear. For that, I want you to know that I am sorry. But, I also want you to know that your support was a lifesaver in a very deep, dark ocean. I would not have made it to the other side without you.

I love you. That’s all I have to say about that.

Always, Brooke Nicole

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Everything Cookies

I was invited to my first cookie exchange and have been spending all week trying to figure out what I was going to take. My favorite cookie is a chocolate chip by Nestlé Toulehouse. But, you can't show up with a simple, every day (although supremely delicious) cookie.

Finally, I realized that I had a resource right at my fingertips the entire time. I visit The Pioneer Woman several times a day. I would say there isn't a part of her site I don't enjoy, but I just don't get basset hounds. They aren't my forte. But, her cooking section? The pictures make you want to lick your screen in hopes of just a nibble of the mashed potatoes, a whiff of the tenderloin, or a handful of Hyacinth's Everything Cookies.

So, I borrowed the recipe and was Pioneer Woman for the afternoon. Cooking and taking pictures of the process. If you're running late and have never made the recipe before, I don't recommend trying to live up to PW's standards.

I don't usually like dried (or fresh for that matter) apricots but they were tasty as part of the cookie. You could probably use dried pineapple as a substitute, if desired.

Pecans? I like walnuts better. But (my Mom will laugh at this) I have a hard time straying when I'm given directions. I do as I'm told (depending on my mood, haha).

Have you ever seen eggs stamped with their expiration date? I haven't...weird.

4 eggs....4 cups of flour...this is a big recipe! I made the required 3 dozen for the party and still had about 4 cups of dough left over.

When making chocolate chip cookies*, this is the point I start eating the batter, right out of the mixing bow. Yes, I am one of those people. I didn't this time, since I was sharing with strangers.

Ready for the oven. I didn't have to worry about what size to make them, because I could tell I had plenty of dough. Nothing is worse than a tiny little cookie with a bunch of stuff packed in there.

Let's Eat!!!!!!

*ps: When I make the nestle toll house cookies, this is one instance I DO NOT follow the directions. I like a chewy cookie, and two eggs makes them a bit too crunchy for my taste. I just use one.

Monday, December 8, 2008

A Week of Sleep

It went great. I learned a lot from preparing for and participating in the Art Show, yesterday. As tired as I am, it was motivating to have at least stuck my foot in the water of getting my photos out there.

I kept meaning to take pictures of the war zone that my room had turned in to, but really, it's for the best that the entire internet misses out on that. Then, I meant to take a picture of everything loaded in to my car, but I hadn't gotten to bed until 3 am for two nights in a row, so I was lucky to be dressed in matching clothes.

But, one of the many "just in cases" was a vase of flowers. I wasn't sure when I decided to make an arrangement that I would actually have room for them on the table. I was even less sure about transporting them to the show. But, of course, I had to get a few pictures of them:

So, I completed everything on my To Do list except for practicing my table layout. Even if I had, it would have become obsolete because of the space I utilized at the show allowed me to take advantage of some existing surfaces. Here's what my set up looked like:

I shared the room with my friend Janice, who makes beautiful kids items. She finds the most beautiful fabrics and turns them in to some of the snuggliest blankets, toys and cuddlies that I've ever seen. I want one of everything.

There were several other ladies there, selling their amazing handmade items. I bought something from both of the jewelers and if Nat didn't lose hair bows like some people lose their keys, I would have bought 29 of those cute things. Oh, and that mirror in the bottom picture? The square one with the white circles (they are actually handmade pinch pots)? I want that too.

But for now, I'll just take a week of sleep.

P.S. Big thank you to EVERYONE who came out and showed their support.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Half Way There

Am I going to make it to Sunday? I'm not sure how people who make their living selling at art shows do it. I'm sure there is a sense of stability once you have established your process and have removed the details from the To Do list.

As you can see, I've checked a few things off my list. But, some of those at the bottom were added on throughout the day as I realized more that needed to be done. The biggest project today was getting the 'storyboard' done for the portrait side of my new busy-ness.

I bought some letter cut-outs from the scrap book supply section at the craft store and let me just say, I can see how scrapbooking can become addictive (hella cute stuff). Of note, the package declared that upon opening I would rececive "2 complete alphabets & an extra set of vowels". Full of hooey, those people are. I have completely lost track of what was missing (my brain is on reserve energy power) but I promise, it was confusing getting them all figured out.

Moving on! The set also came with these cute little do-dads and it was the result of a lot of self-control that I didn't cover the story board with them.

I got the story board done, bought fabric to make a table cloth (would have been too easy to just BUY ONE) and got almost all of the prints priced (except for that one I ruined, good thing I had an extra 5x7 mat!). It's only 6:10pm, I might just get to bed before midnight if I allow myself to finish the other half of the to do list by Saturday. Heh.

Monday, December 1, 2008

This, That, & the Other

Ok, I've been a crazy woman for the past month or so. I've been doing family portraits pretty regularly and have been trying to prep for an Art Show (MY FIRST) coming up on Sunday.

Spent Thanksgiving at my parents house, and my Cousin Ry & his lovely wife Steph joined us. We had a great day and though "The Boys" are far from home, it was nice to have a chance to hang out with family. Clarke called from Afghanistan just as we were finishing the meal, so Mom got out of dish duty. Which really, she did so much to get ready, we would have pushed her out of the kitchen anyway.

(for mom)

Went to the movies, instead of shopping, on Black Friday. Saw "Australia" and I've been fighting the urge to go see it again, I loved it that much. Worked on getting some computer things figured out for Mom and tried to make sure that the printer Dad was giving me would work for my photos.

On my way back to Durham on Saturday, Steph called and invited me up to Weldon. So, I stopped in Durham, picked up what I needed to get all of my prints ready and headed up to my weekend Art Retreat. I pretty much took over their dining room.

printing up a storm on the fabulous life saver printer

cutting, mating, taping, signing, bagging

the finished product!!!

So, I've got some more to do before I'm fully ready for the Art Show. But, it is a huge relief to have all of the prints done! I told Ry & Steph that I never would have gotten that much done at home, alone. I would have given up half way through and watched a movie. Feeling like I needed to make sure I was done before I went home was a great motivator.

I promise to fill you all (all 4 of you!) in on how the Art Show goes. Thanks for all of your support!