Archive for the ‘Family & Friends’ Category

Quick Trip Home

December 17, 2013

Well it seems that blogging has gone by the way side lately; time has been speeding by so quickly and all of a sudden it’s been two months since my last post. Eek! This can only mean one of two things: our lives have been unusually boring and therefore nothing blog-worthy has been happening OR our lives are full to the brim with things I wish I had time to share, but don’t…the latter is definitely the case :)

On a sad note, our sweet Otis went to doggie heaven a couple months ago. I honestly believe that the bigger the dog, the bigger the heart and our loving buddy was no exception to this rule; he was a big, tough guard dog on the outside and a cuddly marshmallow on the inside. I’ll never forget how he would bark and growl at Mark the first few years that we dated but over time Otis grew to trust him and finally they could wrestle and play together in the yard. You’re definitely missed sweet buddy.

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Mark and I went to Rogers for an extended weekend as sort of a pre-Thanksgiving visit and got to enjoy some relaxation time on the farm. It’s so nice to get away and just do nothing! Dad showed off his new remote controlled airplane and even let Mark fly it, I took some photos of the garden and of the newest litter of kittens and we went on walks around the property with pellet guns (our favorite).

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We also got in a little bodark bowling with Ben, a classic Baecker family pastime. If you are new to the sport, it is basically this: gather a wheel-barrel full of bodarks (aka: horse apples) after they’ve fallen from the Bodark tree, wheel them down to the top of the driveway hill and take turns bowling them down the gravel road to see whose can go the furthest.

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It actually takes more skill than you would think, after all the gravel is bumpy and the road curves a bit so you have to hit the rocks just right and keep your horse apple from bouncing off to the side. As kids we would do this all the time and then leave our leftover bodarks in the road for us to drive over later. I’d say our design this time was the best yet.

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Of course a Rogers visit wouldn’t be complete without a pic of our favorite feline, Mr. Jack. Here he is posing while he sits in the kitchen sink, patiently waiting for someone to turn the faucet on so he can drink from it (just a slow dribble, not too fast or he won’t drink). He’s definitely spoiled rotten.

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And our favorite canine as well, my Sadie May. She kills me with her sweet jealousy…I was sitting in a lawn chair with a cat sleeping in my lap and she comes over, puts her head on top of the cat and wags her tail, wanting a scratch behind the ear. Sweet, silly dog :)

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Maine 2013

October 17, 2013

Here’s a few pictures from our 4th of July trip to Boston and Maine this summer {crazy late, I know}. This being my third visit to camp, so many of my photos are looking identical to previous years but I just can’t get enough of that view.

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We ate lobster three times and it. was. glorious…I try to never have lobster anywhere else besides Maine, I just know I would be disappointed with anything less than the best.

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Brandy Pond was gorgeous as always, smooth as glass in the early morning. Our first few days were threatened with rain but we made the best of it and ended up having quite a few sunny days.

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We ended up buying a boat this year; it was such a good deal that Mark and Pat couldn’t pass it up. Now we’ll be able to have a boat no matter when we go up for a visit.

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This year was memorable in that it was Lilly’s first time at camp. She swam near the dock, slept on the boat and had her first taste of Dairy Bar.

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Logan rode on the infamous disk for the first time {with the help of Uncle Chris, of course}. Immediately afterwards he asked if he could do it again next year, not wanting to ride again on the current trip, haha.

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Lilly and I had some fun snapping pictures with my iPhone, she couldn’t stop staring at herself on the screen!

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Beautiful sunset from the marina dock while waiting for the fireworks to begin. We all watched from the comfort of the boat but stayed tied to the dock in case the kids needed to leave.

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Both Marks went out for quite a few early morning ski and wakeboard runs, it’s hard not to when the water is so perfect. Of course, I played spotter since I am officially terrible at all things water sports :(

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Lilly in her pretty red, white and blue dress watching Grandpa, Uncle and Logan move rocks in the water.

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And one of my favorite sights of all, my handsome hub behind the wheel of the boat on a perfect day on Brandy Pond :)

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Parents’ Weekend Visit

April 5, 2013

{I’ve gotten so behind on blogging lately and I have no excuse, except laziness. Does that count as a valid excuse? Eh, probably not…oh well!}

About a month ago my parents came to visit us for a few days and we had such a great time showing them around our new home. We knew that we wanted to take them to Monterey so on the morning of our first full day we headed out and didn’t stop until we hit the coast.

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We visited Lover’s Point Park, did some shopping and had lunch on Cannery Row, saw some sea otters and made our way down 17 Mile Drive, stopping at Pebble Beach along the way.

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The next morning we went into the city and since it was a nice, clear day we drove up to the top of Twin Peaks for a breathtaking view of all of San Francisco.

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From the peak we could see the Golden Gate Bridge, the Transamerica Pyramid, Coit Tower, the Bay Bridge and the other bridges in south bay.

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Then we drove north through the city towards Fisherman’s Wharf pointing out Union Square, Chinatown and Lombard street along the way. We parked at Pier 39 and walked down to Ghirardeli Square, making sure to pop into our favorite sourdough bakery too!

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We indulged in a little ice cream at Ghirardeli but were soon hungry again from all the walking so we made our way back to the pier to have a fresh crab lunch.

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The sea lions were fun to watch for a bit. They were laying out on the docks warming themselves on the beautiful, sunny day.

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To show my parents some more of the greater bay area we took the long route home; we left the city going north over the Golden Gate passing through Sausalito to San Rafael, took the Richmond bridge back over the bay then drove through Berkeley and Oakland before hitting 24 to take us to Walnut Creek then home to San Ramon.

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It was a fun visit and I’m sure we wore my parents out but we just couldn’t resist showing them some of the awesome places to go and see in California!

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New England 2012

August 1, 2012

Vacationing in the northeast is always such a treat; we get to spend time with family, relax on the lake, celebrate the 4th of July and eat ice cream every single day :) This year my parents joined us as well for a few days, it was great to be able to share our fun traditions with them.

Our first full day was all about farm tours. We visited Cider Hill Farm again just as we had done two years ago except this time we got a personal tour of the entire 100+ acres thanks to Grandpa Rand’s connection with the farm’s owner. Here we all are at the top of a hill near the apple orchard overlooking the rest of the farm.

Their farm store {once again} did not disappoint; they had tons of fresh produce, other local food items and wares as well as their delicious apple cider donuts.

Our first ice cream stop of the trip was at Hodgie’s and it was just as yummy as I had remembered. I had warned my parents ahead of time about the amount of ice cream we’d be consuming on this vacation but I still don’t think they really knew what they were in for!

Classic Mark.

The second day we stopped at Marty’s Donut Land in Ipswich which just so happened to be established in the same year that my dad was born. The coincidence merited buying a t-shirt for my dad and a few donuts for the road.

One of my favorite things about the northeast in the summer is the amount of flowers in everyone’s yard. Our theory is that they spend so much time indoors during the long winter that they are super excited to get out and do yard work once spring rolls around.

We visited Crane Beach and walked along the sands for a while. It was pretty cool to dip our toes in the Atlantic knowing that we were just near the Pacific a day earlier.

The next morning we drove up to Naples, Maine to celebrate the 4th and meet up with Mark’s parents at camp.

We watched the parade coming down the main street in Naples from the second story deck at Rick’s and did a little shopping at the boutiques around town.

My dad brought a washers set up from Texas so we could play a few games in the side yard. I think this will become a go-to fun thing to do around camp in the future.

Mandy and I got our Pinterest on with these white chocolate dipped strawberries. They were incredibly easy to make and I’ve already used this idea a second time for an Olympic ceremony watching party that we went to last week.

With the threat of thunderstorms and rain on the night of the 4th we opted out of watching the fireworks from the boat and instead enjoyed dinner all together at the Freedom Cafe. The rain cleared just in time for the fireworks display to begin and we had great seats on a patio overlooking the lake. Of course, we couldn’t pass up some Dairy Bar and their red, white and blue sprinkles!

The next day we all went to Bob’s Lobster Pound for a lobster lunch complete with corn on the cob and sweet potato fries.

My mom had never tried lobster before and my dad hadn’t had it in quite a while so it was a fun treat. I myself have only eaten lobster a few times, trying to limit myself to only having it in Maine or in really nice restaurants. A whole, red lobster always looks so pretty and perfect, it’s almost a shame to crack into it, haha.

After taking my parents to the airport the next day we headed back up to camp with Logan in tow. That afternoon Pat, Mandy and I made a trip to Freeport, the home of L.L. Bean, for some outlet shopping; we just so happened to be there during the celebration of L.L. Bean’s 100th anniversary and the entire town was having a huge party with tons of street vendors and live concerts. It was a fun place to be!

Our remaining few days in Maine were spent on the water. It’s kind of hard not to when the weather and scenery are as beautiful as this.

We had fun playing with the leftover sparklers on the dock at sunset.

One full day was spent cruising on the boat along the Songo River, through the lock and on to Frye Island on Sebago Lake for lunch. On our way back the boat decided to quit on us so we had to be towed back through the lock and the river; it was quite an experience but we made the best of it!

Mandy and I both tried our hand at fishing on Brandy Pond this year and though we both ended up catching one fish each, they were a bit too small to keep.

On our last day in Naples Mark and his dad played a round of golf while Pat and I did some shopping in Bridgeton. We met up with them for lunch afterwards before heading back to the Boston area that afternoon.

I can’t really explain why I’m so in love with this place…it must be the perfect combination of family, nature, sunshine, water and ice cream :) I can’t wait to go back next year!

Friends in the City

June 8, 2012

Our friends Megan & Kenny came to visit us in California! Well, sort of; they didn’t specifically plan their trip around coming to see us :) they had already booked their California adventure before we decided to move. Nevertheless, it was so much fun to play host to our first guests!

We spent an entire Saturday together in the city. We walked through Chinatown where we bought matching chop sticks and paid $1.50 for some fortune cookies just so we could use a restroom…

Then we took a taxi over to Golden Gate Park where we spent a few hours in the California Academy of Sciences Museum. This place was awesome! I mostly wanted to go in because the building was designed by famous architect Renzo Piano; it featured a green roof spotted with porthole-like skylights.

The skylights provided sunlight to the enclosed rainforest exhibit below. We also got to watch a production about earthquakes in the museum’s planetarium, touch a starfish and see an albino alligator…science is pretty cool.

We were so happy to be able to see some familiar faces again but it was so hard to watch them leave. I really miss hanging out with these two and having them here definitely made me a feel a little homesick. Thankfully, July is coming fast which means another trip to Maine and a few more visitors coming to see us!

Christmas Time

January 5, 2012

Christmas 2011 was jam-packed with family, friends and fun. It’s always nice to be able to spend a good amount of time with both of our families and I am incredibly grateful that Mark doesn’t have to work between Christmas and New Years.

We spent the first few days of our holiday vacation in Rogers with my family. Once again the annual Christmas Eve barn service was cold, wet and muddy; to be honest I wouldn’t have it any other way, it’s kind of a tradition now. We also got to hang with our favorite fat cat, Jack…if you received a Christmas card from my parents you already know but Jack has officially changed residences. He is much happier living in a big house with more room to roam and he loves to go outside and climb trees and hang with his other kitty friends. My parents are quite smitten with him and I don’t think they would give him back even if we asked. He still loves when we come to visit though and we found out that he especially loves Christmas trees…

…and tissue paper. He played in our giant paper pile for hours and even took a nap hiding beneath the crumpled sheets.

Though the weather was a little icky during our stay in Rogers we made the best of it. On the 26th my mom and I went shopping all day while the boys went to see a movie and go bowling. I always love looking at the discounted Christmas decor and for once I splurged on some pretty ornaments at Marshall’s. My mom and I had so much fun spending the day together :)

This year I was inspired by some snow globes made using bottle brush trees in mason jars from Anthropologie. I couldn’t quite handle their $30 price tag so I made some of my own to give out as little gifts to Mark’s coworkers and some family friends. They were so simple to make!

After spending a few days in Rogers we headed to Houston to be with Mark’s family for New Years. When we got there the table was cleared and covered in puzzle pieces…they had a puzzle made from our family picture taken on Memorial Day. It turned out to be a lot harder than it looked and we finally completed it at 2:15am on January 1st! We all decided that this needed to become a tradition so we took a picture of ourselves with the finished puzzle and a puzzle of that picture will be made to be worked on during our July 4th trip up to camp in Maine. Once that puzzle is finished we’ll take a picture with it, and so on and so on…

While in Houston we stayed pretty busy; we assembled Logan’s new bike, we went indoor rock climbing, I went to a painting class, Mark played golf, we watched some movies and got lots of great quality family time!

Happy 25th, Hubby!

August 31, 2010

This past weekend we celebrated Mark’s 25th birthday in Houston with his family. His dad was in town from London so it was a great opportunity to see everyone all at once. At first, I thought this little road trip would cause me to break my tradition of baking Mark a birthday cake; but in the end I decided to make it at home and bring it along.

After seeing this rainbow-colored cake on Swiss Miss, I knew I had to try it myself. But first I needed a good yellow cake recipe. Sure, I had a few in the ol’ recipe box but I never remembered any of them being amazing, so to the internet I go. Any time I’m looking for a specific recipe I always search for it on Smitten Kitchen first and if she has it, I try it. Luckily, she’s dedicated an entire post to the “best birthday cake” and I decided to give it a go. Let me say this: that recipe produced the most moist, fluffy and delicious yellow cake I have ever made, period; I will never use another from this day on!

To make the batter more colorful, I divided it evenly into six bowls {for the six different colors}. At first, I added 6 drops of dye into each bowl thinking that should be enough; I was way off…it ended up taking a total of around 20 drops each to get the color dark enough to where it didn’t look like Easter pastels. I have to admit, the purple didn’t turn out as I had hoped; you would think equal parts red and blue would equal purple but apparently not.

Then I simply poured half of each color into two 9″ round cake pans, starting with red and ending with purple, and gave it a little swirl with a spoon.

After the layers were cooled overnight in the fridge, I cut out the shape of the Apple logo with a stencil that I had made on the computer. Icing it was definitely the hardest part. I think it would have been easier if I had made the icing from scratch because the store-bought stuff is so darn thick that it tends to pull crumbs off of the cake more.

Transporting it in the car for 3 hours took its toll on the icing; the leaf started to lean quite a bit and the icing between the layers bulged out at the sides a little. But we got it to Houston in one piece and the husband definitely enjoyed it!

Look at all those candles! Someone’s finally old enough to rent a car, haha!

The best part was cutting that first piece out and seeing all the colors pop against the white icing. I was going for a play on the new & old Apple logos. :)

The other event of the weekend was the black light party that was thrown for Mark and Daniel’s birthdays {his was only a few days before}. Daniel and his roommate spent a pretty penny to replace nearly all the light bulbs in their house with black lights and it…was…awesome.

Mandy and I went out and found some neon-colored clothing and some cheap sunglasses that we popped the lenses out of and painted with fluorescent paint. Once we got to the party we painted ourselves with black light paint and drew on each other with highlighter {did you know that highlighter glows in black light? I sure didn’t}.

They even made punch that glowed by adding vitamin B12 to the mix {thank you Google for that little tidbit of knowledge}. It was a pretty fun time and it made for some great pictures.

Overall a wonderful, long weekend spent celebrating the life of my favorite person in the world!

Memorial Day Weekend

June 2, 2010

This year we had another very enjoyable Memorial Day Weekend on Lake Conroe with Mark’s family. We spent the whole three days sunning, boating, tubing, wake boarding, eating and having fun!

For the first time we attempted a crawfish boil and it turned out great! I’m still learning to love eating crustaceans but I’m slowly getting better; I still refuse to touch a live one though.

Mandy bought Logan a slip ‘n slide but he didn’t have near as much fun with it as we did.

We tested the new tube to its limits, with all five of us “kids” hanging on for dear life. The boat couldn’t pull us very fast but it was definitely humorous.

And then there’s my husband and Daniel, being their usual selves.

What a great weekend with family, I can’t wait until next year!

Granny’s Cinnamon Rolls

May 28, 2010

Remember when I said I had lost my baking touch? Well, I’ve got some good news…

I HAVE REDEEMED MYSELF!

In preparation for our three day weekend on Lake Conroe with Mark’s family, I made two dozen gooey, homemade cinnamon rolls. I just love making these things, mainly because it brings back so many fond family memories.

My granny made THE BEST cinnamon rolls ever, no doubt about it. I can remember back when I was around 5 or 6, helping her drizzle icing over the pans of warm rolls. I’m not sure why but that is my favorite memory of her; well, that and the smell of Avon perfume. I actually bought a small, carriage-shaped bottle of Avon perfume from an antique booth because the smell reminded me so much of her. I have it sitting on my dresser and every now and then I’ll open it up and take a whiff and be reminded of her.

I love my granny and I miss her very much but every time I make cinnamon rolls, I think of her and know she’s looking down on me and smiling. :)

It’s Camping Time!

March 5, 2010

Spring is slowly beginning to show its lovely face around here; highs in the upper 60’s, lows in the 40’s and sunshine abound. It’s cool enough at night to merit huddling around a campfire and warm enough during the day for hiking and biking in shorts…perfect CAMPING weather if you ask me!

Growing up, our family along with 5-7 other families from our church held a bi-annual camp out every April and October. Some of my most cherished memories were created during those times with good friends and family. We have probably 6 giant photo albums filled with packing lists and pictures from every single outing and I love to pull those out and reminisce about all the hilarious happenings that made each camping trip so special.

This group shot of all of us back in 1997 makes me laugh so hard, I wonder what humorous comment JK made to make all the adults smile like that. For me, this photo is a reminder of how meaningful this little tradition was for all of us. Sadly, all good things must come to an end…kids grew up, went off to college, some people left the church and the camping no longer happens.

But now, I think I’m more thankful to have all those memories of the past than I am upset that they no longer continue. I’ve come to a new place in my life, one in which I have the joy of creating new traditions with my husband. Of course I enjoy looking back on those fun times but I’m sure looking forward to what is yet to come. Hopefully it will involve lots and lots of camping!