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Monthly Archives: October 2011

The Eagle Scout and his campfire!

Presenting…..The Eagle Scout and his campfire!!!  Mr. Fancy Pants and I were invited to a Halloween party this past weekend.  We had such a great time with new friends we’ve made up here in Portland. We threw around a few ideas of what to be but I had seen this idea on a sweet girl from my hometown’s blog and I decided we could do this too!  So, I’m sad to say this was not an original idea, BUT it still turned out great!  I began our costume gathering by asking my amazing mother-in-law to ship us William’s Eagle Scout uniform/get up from Dallas.  Not much else we had to do for him but buy him a pair of pants that would fit!  I used the ole Google tool to find some campfire costume inspiration and ran across this.

Now this lady made this costume for her daughter and theirs looks way more legit than mine (not to mention the fact that it lights up like a real fire), but I used theirs as inspiration and I was very pleased with the turn out!  I used a hula hoop as my structure, vinyl table cloths for the flames, fabric and tissue for the rocks, and foam sheets for the logs!

The campfire, flight attendant, egg (her other half was bacon), and an Ewok (costume contest winners! AMAZING costume!)
William & Eric (who will soon become some lucky Portland high school football team’s biggest fans)
The flight attendant and campfire (aka Sally & Rachel)

There were so many creative costumes at the party!  I was very impressed!  I will say that traditionally I am not one to plan and plan on my Halloween costume.  I’m more your ‘throw it together at the last second with whatever you have’ type girl when it comes to Halloween.  Not this year though!  I was SO excited about our costume.  I ended up wearing just some black running gear underneath the costume (hence the camera flash catching the reflector on my shirt in 90% of the photos).  Not sure if you can see my shoes in any of the photos, but I had on red shoes!

The ONLY thing that would have made it better (minus the lights like my inspiration costume had–which was WAY beyond my crafting abilities) would have been if my headband had been smoke not more flames.  But I never could find a way to make the cotton stand up!

Bacon and Eggs (aka Josh and Shannon)
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Us with Margot and Chad who were in from Chicago!!!
My sweet friend Elsa aka the Ewok!! She made these costumes for her and her husband! They were amazing!

One of the funniest parts of this whole experience was William telling everyone about being an Eagle. He spent about 30 minutes filling me in on all of his patches while I finished getting ready and then everyone at the party was so intrigued by it!  Several people didn’t realize that it was his actual get up from being an Eagle Scout.  We had to fill them in that he wasn’t EXACTLY dressed to regulation.  He didn’t have on his official scout belt or pants.  But considering the last time he was in those pants he was 18 years old…we weren’t going there.  A greenish pair from JCREW was as close as we were getting!

As great of a costume as it was, I would just like to digress for a second and say how proud I am that he finished his Eagle.  We dated throughout high school so I was there through all of the times he wanted to throw in the towel.  And while he was teaching me about the merit badges the other night was the first time I realized how much went in to and was required for each one that he earned!  Let me just say…for an 18 year old boy interested in sports and his friends and a little bit of me…I’m just impressed that he pushed through!  HUGE honor!  Way to go Eagle Scout William! 🙂  He would have NEVER finished had it not been for his best friend Ryan (also an Eagle Scout), Ryan’s dad Dr. B (who was his Scout Master–wrote a little something about him here), and his own daddy-o (my incredible father-in-law)!

The Eagle, the campfire, and the greaser witch (aka KBB!)
Just poppin’ a squat on the floor…because I was too round to sit on any of the furniture. So I sat in the middle of the floor.
Just sitting around the campfire…

One downside to the costume?  I took up a LOT of room.  I had a hard time mingling once all the guests started to arrive.  I camped (pun intended) myself in the living room and let people wander in my direction.  I had many a crowd gathered around the campfire throughout the evening.  What better place to tell stories!?  Ha!

I’ll leave you with one last picture of the Eagle Scout and his campfire!  Happy Halloween y’all!

The Bryants!
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Invitation to the first JLP Supper Club @ my house!

Several months ago I read an article in Gourmet Live called “Whatever Happened to the Dinner Party?”  It’s a great article, you should read it especially if you, like me, grew up with your parents (and grandparents for that matter) constantly hosting or attending dinner parties, supper clubs, card nights, etc.  I loved growing up around that.  To be quite honest, I think it takes a special person to really “entertain” and to do it well.  My mom is an entertaining master.  She could write a book about it!  There is a LOT that goes in to entertaining a group of people and most become very overwhelmed by the entire ordeal.

Now thinking back on all of the company my parents hosted and fed over the years, there are a couple of key things I have taken away from those memories that I am constantly trying to adapt into my home when we have guests over:

– Have an appetizer.  Dinner does not have to be ready when your guests walk in the door.  While some might disagree with me, I think having some cheese, wine, grapes, a dip, etc. for the first little while gets everyone’s appetite ready for your meal and allows your guests time to get comfortable in your home.

– Discuss your menu with your guests before they arrive.  There is nothing more uncomfortable than trying to fake liking a meal.  If your guests don’t eat chicken and you make chicken…well then you pooped in the soup!  Remember you’re cooking for them, not for you!  You can eat your chicken later!

 Serve your dinner family style.  This is just fun because you don’t have to keep getting up for seconds (and maybe thirds).  Just have the food on the table.  Most people grew up having meals that way so it is subconsciously comforting.

– Let the dishes sit in the sink.  You can clean them later.  Enjoy your time with family and friends while you have it.  You can clean up after they’ve gone home.  No one likes a hostess that spends her time fretting over a mess.  Embrace it.  (this coming from one of the most tidy people you’ll ever meet. If I can do it, so can you)

– Enjoy yourself (YOU, the hostess).  Your guests are going to feed off of your mood.  Put away the stress of your day, the stress of the meal preparation, last minute cleaning (or throwing dirty clothes in the basement), throwing everything in the basement…you get where I am going.  If you are comfortable and relaxed, they will be too.

Lets just say no one went hungry that night…
Our fabulous table spread! I had a pretty table setting but my table runner wasn’t working out with all of our food so it had to go!

I mentioned a few posts ago that I would be hosting our first Junior League Supper Club at our house. There is a great group of girls that I have met through my Provisionals class with the JL of Portland and we decided to do a monthly supper club.  I offered to host the first and I was SO excited about it. Not only do I love having people over, but this group of girls is great.  Most of them are tied to the South somehow…either they went to college there, have family there, moved from there, etc. so we all have that in common!  For our first “theme” we chose “Blue Plate Special” (since we’re all from the South) and decided to have a bunch of good, home-cooked Southern food.

JLP girls! Thank y’all so much for coming!

I like the way we decided to coordinate.  Each girl brought 1 item which made it incredibly easy on me as the hostess (except for the fact that I ran out of time after work and didn’t have time to dry my hair so it is all curly and crazy!) All I had to do was make 1 item myself and make sure the house was clean!  Check and check!  I did run out that afternoon in search of folding chairs.  Several times since we have moved in we have needed more seating and all we have are 6 dining room chairs.  I was thinking we were going to have a few more girls so I grabbed some metal folding chairs at Target for $10.00.  But it actually worked out perfectly.  We did miss our girls who weren’t able to make it, but I had 1 chair for every hiney!

Fried chicken, corn bread, black eyed peas, brussel sprouts, mac and cheese, and a salad! YUM!

Our “Blue Plate Special” menu?  Fried chicken (that was me), brussel sprouts, mac and cheese, black eyed peas, cornbread, and a salad.  With TWO kinds of dessert.  These ladies can COOK.  It was all SO good.  And since I kicked William out of the house for the evening, I made him a plate to eat when he got home.  He agreed, it was all very very tasty!

Courtney, Ashley and myself
Casey and I! The Alabama transplants!
Another group shot!

Our November supper club is right around the corner!  One of the girls offered to gather all of our recipes together after each dinner and put together a little cookbook for all of us which I thought was SO sweet and such a great idea!  All I can really contribute is being the unofficial photographer so I think I will nominate myself for that.  We can have pictures in the book or something.  Might give it a nice twist!

I am so thankful to have met these girls and to be in my first Supper Club!  It makes me feel oh so grown up.  As strange as it may sound, I know I will cherish each meal with these ladies just sitting, talking and getting to know one another.  No distractions from the TV, our phones, families, work, etc. etc.  Just plain ‘ole talkin.  Doesn’t get much better than that!

Caitlin and myself with the mommy-to-be Camden!

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Ladies Crafting Spectacular Pumpkin Carving!

On Monday evening, the ladies of the Ladies Crafting Spectacular carved us up some pumpkins!  We had such a great time! I had posted about our get together in conjunction with promoting Paperless Post which I used for the invitations (read about that here).  I have been looking forward to this for quite some time!  This is an amazing, crafting, funny group of girls and I was ready to carve me a punkin’!  We decided to include our men for this particular event–we needed someone to get all the pumpkin guts out.  Or that was our thought process.  Turns out the girls did most of the work and guys socialized.  Strange.

We, sadly, were missing a few LCS (yes, it now has an acronym) ladies, but we still had ourselves a grand ole time!  Some of my pictures aren’t the best and they are all grainy because it was dark outside, but I’m still pleased with how we captured our good times!

Gettin’ started with the carving!
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Miss Natalie working really hard on her pumpkin!  She gets the award for cleanest pumpkin insides.  Mine still had all kinds of goop in it…I just gave up after a while.
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And here’s my face about the whole matter. I had NO help getting the pumpkin guts out!

HUGE thanks to Rachel who thought to bring pumpkin carving knives.  They were WAY better than my kitchen knives we were trying to use. Embarrassing fact about me, our knives haven’t been sharpened since we got married.  3 years with 1 set of knives makes for VERY VERY dull knives.  I’m pretty sure someone might have lost a finger or a leg or something without Mrs. Rachel’s fancy knives that saved the day!

Here I go getting started!

Surprise surprise, I carved an Alabama ‘A’.  I did have a pattern that William traced onto the pumpkin for me.  I didn’t freehand it so don’t go getting all impressed on me.

OOOoooo… Ahhhhhh…
Some pretty girls I know.
Me and the pumpkin gutting champion!
Roll Tide!

Elsa of Always with Honor took the pumpkin guts, picked out a ton of seeds and made some amazing roasted pumpkin seeds for us.  She used maple syrup on one and the other had some great spices on it…I am forgetting right now what she used but they were great!  I have, strangely enough, never eaten pumpkin seeds before but they were quite tasty!

The best thing about the whole evening, besides the company of course, was the weather.  I cannot remember the last time I carved a pumpkin when it was COLD and felt like fall outside!  Actually I do, it was freezing in Mississippi one year when Mr. Fancy Pants and I carved pumpkins at MSU, but other than that…I can’t remember another time!  We discovered a new need for our backyard…a FIRE PIT!

This picture is so awkward and I love it. William was trying to use the lighter to make the ‘A’ light up…and this is what we ended up with.
TWINSIES! Let’s match more often!
Finished products!

From the top left down/top right down you have:

  • Tyler & Elsa’s lighthouse
  • Rachel & Eric’s initials
  • Natalie’s amazing faced pumpkin…that to me looks like he’s wearing an eye patch but I’m not quite sure if he actually is
  • Shannon’s (with the help of her hubby) cyclops
  • Lizy’s BOO pumpkin (with the help of Travis)
  • My Alabama ‘A’ pumpkin
  • And the winner, winner chicken dinner…best pumpkin I’ve ever seen… DEXTER!  Abby carved this so carefully and it turned out AMAZING!  If there was a prize, which there wasn’t, she would have won!
Two pretty pretty ladies that I love!
Two more lovely ladies!

I’ll leave you with this picture.  Mainly because Rachel and Shannon’s faces are hilarious.  And I am awkwardly about to fall into/on top of my rosemary bush.  That staircase is NOT very wide! Regardless, great time was had by all!  I love fall!  I love pumpkin carving!  And I LOVE the Ladies Crafting Spectacular!  Can’t wait for next month!!!!

We were about tired of the picture taking by this point!

So, in my 25 years I have received a lot of birthday cards.   Not one, and I mean not ONE holds a candle to the card that our dear friend Cody Haltom made for me this year.  Cody is an incredibly talented designer and member of Public School in Austin, TX.  You should check out his work if you haven’t already…it is much more than superimposing people’s faces on other people’s bodies so don’t get the wrong impression.

Cody, knowing how much I love my alma mater, sent me this image on the day of my birth. Please see below, the BEST birthday card I’ve ever received.  Nick Saban’s (the football coach of Alabama) face superimposed on Brad Pitt’s body.  The caption in the email said that he just knew that I was going to leave William for the Pitt/Saban combo.  All I have to say to that is…don’t tempt me…don’t tempt me! JUST kidding!

Pitt/Saban amazingness

View from our campsite Saturday morning.

The Eagle Scout and I woke up early on Saturday morning to do some exploring!  Here’s an incredible photo of Lost Lake on Saturday morning.  There were some awesome clouds sitting on the water until the sun broke through.  I actually enjoyed seeing them “float” above the water, though it was pretty spectacular when the sun broke through as well!

We did some hiking on the Lakeshore Trail.  In total it’s about 3.2 miles but I think we only hiked half. We would have liked to walk farther but we got hungry!  Ha!

Morning kiddies! Can you say, “Hey, I just woke up??”
Lakeshore Trail at Lost Lake
Here’s The Eagle Scout standing on a big tree trunk looking out over the lake.

So I did break out the tri-pod while we were there.  Keep in mind that there weren’t that many people around so I didn’t have the opportunity to ask someone else to snap our photo AND this way we made sure we got exactly what we wanted.  What am I saying, I’m not even going to justify taking the tri-pod! I’M PROUD OF IT! 🙂

The Eagle Scout and I just posin’ for a picture!
A little Alabama shout out. Because they are always necessary. ROLL TIDE!

After our little hike, we headed back to our campsite.  The Eagle snapped a few pictures of the campsite in the day time while I was preparing breakfast.  He worked his magic with a hat full of wood-shavings (that he carved by hand with his knife) and had this fire up and going in no time.  Which can I say is quite an accomplishment because everything was so wet from the dew and cloud mist the night before.

View of The Eagle Scout’s superb fire making abilities.
A little ariel shot

For breakfast, we made Campfire Eggs.  I have no idea, other than the obvious reason, why they would be called that.  They weren’t anything that couldn’t be done over a normal stove.  But we were talking with a friend yesterday about how when you’re camping, everything seems to taste better over an open flame!  Ha!  To make the campfire eggs, we used eggs, turkey bacon, onion, peppers, and mushrooms.

  1. First I cooked the bacon in the skillet.  We didn’t have any PAM or butter or anything so the bacon grease served us well–no, not the healthiest thing in the world but that wasn’t what we were going for.
  2. Then I threw in all of the veggies and cooked them until they were browning.
  3. Last, just throw in the eggs and stir everything together until the eggs scramble up!
We sprinkled some cheese over ours when we were done and it was goooooood.  The one thing we did forget was a morning-time drink like OJ or the like.  In the absence, hot chocolate hit the spot–though I am QUITE sure I have never had hot chocolate for breakfast before!
Me cookin’ away on our campfire eggs
The smoke from the fire in combination with how cold it was outside steamed up the lens of the camera. To which, The Eagle Scout says “Hey! I have my very own Instagram filter now!” Ah…our life.
Happy Campers!

Here, courtesy of our tri-pod, we have a quick photo of us in front of our tent that we pitched together. GREAT tent!  I would highly recommend it!  The sales guy at Next Adventure worked really hard to sell us on this tent because of the ‘X’ shaped cross bar thing it has over the top.  Supposedly gives you extra room inside of there.  SURE does.  We actually commented when we were laying inside of there how happy we were that we bought it!  So great job Mr. Sales Guy from Next Adventure!

Us and our tent!

After we packed up, we drove around the campsite for a bit to see the rest of it in the day time.  Like I said, we did a great job picking a campsite in the dark, but we wanted to see the site from the other side of the lake as well.  For perspectives sake, our campsite was over the pack of trees on the other end of the lake on the left (in the picture below).

There were some clouds lingering that morning so we weren’t able to see Mt. Hood from the campsite because it was covered up.  BUT we were really close to it.  And we saw it later on that morning!

Lost Lake–Oregon (Mt. Hood was hiding that morning behind some clouds)
I like this one of us!
The Eagle Scout lookin’ all handsome.
Me, just thankful that for once in my life I packed appropriately and wasn’t cold.
This picture is funny because we look hilarious. AND because The Eagle almost tripped and fell into the lake trying to get to where I was before the self-timer on the camera went off.

We took the “scenic” route home.  Probably a bad idea.  There was a good 15 miles of gravel road and we did take one detour because there was a huge sign up that said “Road Construction-Detour”. HUGE mistake. We should have just stayed on the road because it was fine but instead we traveled another 5 miles into the middle of NOWHERE.  There was no road, just a path where some construction trucks had driven.  It finally dead ended in the middle of the woods.  Not a good time for us.  I was a little nervous.  My little car is NOT made for off-road adventures.

We did finally make it back to the correct road (after turning around and driving back through the middle of no where to the “detour” sign…and then ignoring it which we should have done in the first place).  On our way home we got some BEAUTIFUL views of Mt. Hood.  We stopped about 6 times to take pictures.  I’m sure you can understand why!

Mt. Hood from Mt. Hood Highway
SO crazy to see it so close!
And again. This is a beautiful picture but it doesn’t even do it justice!

I will leave you with this picture.  Because I laughed for about 25 minutes after I saw it.  He really wasn’t posing.  And he has his hat like that to keep the sun out of his eyes.  But doesn’t he look like some sort of cowboy model!?  I tried to find a picture that looks similar because to me it is reminiscent of John Wayne but I couldn’t find the one I’m thinking of.  Oh well.  It’s still HILARIOUS!  Happy Camping y’all!

The Eagle Scout aka model extraordinaire!
Here was our campsite marker! F8 was great! Considering the fact that we picked the site in the dark having never been there, we did a DANG good job!

Our camping adventure was amazing.  Like can’t wait to go again amazing.  We left Portland a little later than I wanted to AND turns out Lost Lake isn’t the easiest to find.  Ha!  We got to the campsite a little after dark.  Mr. Fancy Pants (and for purposes of this post we’ll refer to him as The Eagle Scout) had our game plan.  Tent pitched, fire started, dinner begins.  I was supposed to handle the tent on my own, but I ended up needing help.  The two of us got the tent up and ready in no time.  Then I set out to inflate our mattress pad things and get our sleeping bags out.

As the weather forecast said, it wasn’t raining per se, but the closer we got to the mountain the closer we got to an immense cloud of fog that seemed to be sitting at the base of the mountain.  The Eagle Scout said it best–it was like we were in the cloud.  It was the strangest combination of snow, light LIGHT rain, and mist.  It wasn’t really falling but it never seemed to settle.  It didn’t bother us much but it did mean that the ground was wet so it made The Eagle’s job of getting the fire going a little tougher. No fret though, that’s why he’s an Eagle Scout.  He had us ready in no time.

William and his headlamp getting the tent ready to be set up.
Looking like a tent!
Tent is up! Now for the rain cover!
Inside the tent! It was my job to get our beds ready!

Notice, The Eagle Scout’s new Pendleton hat!  He broke it in well this weekend!  On it’s first outing it was pretty wet from the cloud moisture and filled with wood shavings The Eagle Scout carved with his pocket knife for fire starters!  He did look mighty cute in it!

Luckily, and maybe for the first time in my adult life, I planned my wardrobe perfectly.  I wasn’t cold at all–even with the temperature being in the high 30s.  I wore my ColdGear Baselayers, jeans, thick sweater, one of The Eagle’s flannel shirts, a Windbreaker vest of The Eagle Scouts that was handed down from his dad, a big thick scarf, my Alabama hat, and my L.L. Bean boots!

Tongs. One thing we forgot. The Eagle Scout used two sticks to flip our hobo dinners over. Creative, yet didn’t work very well.
Happy camping y’all! Here we are with our headlamps!
Cooked hobo dinner! Not going to lie. REALLY REALLY good.

I must say, I was a little skeptical about the hobo dinners.  Wasn’t quite sure what to expect!  BUT it was really good!  Granted we had worked really hard to get the tent up and the fire going and we were both starving, but it was still good.  I actually prepared them while The Eagle Scout got the fire going. Here’s what I used:

  • 4 red potatoes (cut in half and then sliced)
  • 2 large carrots (chopped into bite-sized pieces)
  • 1/2 white onion (chopped)
  • 1/2 green onion (chopped)
  • 1 lb. of hamburger meat
  • salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste
I mixed all of it together in a bowl and added the seasoning.  Then we just spooned it into the foil and wrapped it up!  We ended up about halfway through putting a second layer of foil on each of them because a few got some holes in them from our make-shift tongs!
Ready to eat!
EXTRA ready to eat! Notice his dirty knees. He worked HARD! The boy earned his dinner!

After dinner, I was in charge of making the s’mores!  I didn’t get any pictures of them (surprisingly) but they were so good.  You can’t go wrong with a good s’more!  After that we had some cleaning up to do and it started getting a bit chilly so we packed away all of our food back in the car (yes there are bears out there so we left nothing in the campsite overnight) and got in the tent!  We played a few games of cards and then called it a night!  We knew we wanted to get up early to go and hike and possibly catch the sun rise so we zipped up our sleeping bags and shut our eyes.

Sadly, this was the part of the trip I was most worried about.  And even more sadly, I know myself all too well.  I was awake for several hours.  Since it was misting outside, we had the tent covered so we couldn’t see outside.  It was so dark.  In the summertime, the campground is full and there are people within shouting distance.  During the cold months, not so much.  I will admit to getting a little scared about being alone out there in the wilderness with no one around.  It kept me awake for a while. FINALLY though, I did fall asleep.  And slept quite well actually!

Since this post is getting a little lengthy, stay tuned for our camping adventure part II tomorrow!

Pile – O – camping gear!

Well.  Today marks my first camping trip!  We packed up the camping gear last night!  I am quite confident that when you are actually camping or backpacking (aka NOT car camping like we are) you probably take WAY less stuff.  Pictured above we have:

  • Ice chest for dinner and breakfast
  • Plastic plates I insisted on buying
  • My sleeping bag and pad thingy
  • William’s sleeping bag and pad thingy
  • 2-person tent
  • 2 collapsable/foldable chairs
  • 2 head lamps
  • Not pictured above, BUT the tripod is traveling with us.  I know I’m nuts but I want to have some pictures of us around our campfire and I’m not going to go disturbing the neighbors
Mr. Fancy Pants planned our menu.  We’re having hobo dinners for dinner tonight–still not quite sure what that is.  Smores for dessert (YES!)  And Campfire Eggs for breakfast–again not quite sure what that means but all of the ingredients are familiar.
We packed extra warm clothes and layers.  Looks like we should be free and clear of rain but it’s going to be a little chilly!  (but that’s half the fun right!?)  When I called the campground to ask a few questions she told me about 8 times to dress warmly.  Yikes!  Good news is we shouldn’t have any trouble finding a good campsite!  We’ve packed cards for some entertainment and Saturday morning we’re going to try and check out some of the hiking trails that are around the campsite.  It is such a beautiful area.  I hope to snap some good photos!
Map of the main campground

Can I just say that I LOVE that it say on the map that the nearest phone is 12 miles down the road at the FIRE STATION.  I hope ours fall in to that “most” cell phones category that work in the vicinity. We’ll be letting people know when we arrive and what campsite we’re at so that if the boogie man comes to get us, someone knows where we are.  We’re leaving right after work today!!!  AHH! Can’t wait!  Secretly, and I guess not so secretly since I just posted to the entire internet, I hope we’re home in time for me to watch my Crimson Tide beat Vandy tomorrow afternoon.  Mississippi State plays at 9 a.m. our time so we’ll miss them.  Boo!

Happy Camping y’all!  Stay tuned for a full report on Monday!