Sunday, June 28, 2009

Riggins to Seattle '09: Part III

Saturday, May 30th. This was a special day. Not only were my favorite lovebirds still here visiting, but alas, I turned the ripe old age of 45! Sighhh. So, I can tell you that possibly the best way to greet 45 is to go wine tasting! Trust me on this. It dulls the pain! We hopped in the car and drove up to Concrete, WA to sample the goodies at the Challenger Ridge Winery. Our friends Ken and Danette (along with a group of their friends) own this winery. To say that it is the most charming plot of earth evahhhh would be an understatement! I mean really: Look at that view. Look at all those vines. And that is just part of the property. We went inside the Tasting Room, which is an ooold cabin. Very rustic and homey. Once inside, our darling hostess Cora hooked us up with tasting after tasting of wine. Three whites...then 3 reds. Each one better than the last. Good times, I tell ya! Lookie....future grapes! I just have to tell you about two of the wines we tried. "Gordon" and "Faye." Apparently these two wines are named after winemaker Randy Bonaventura's TWO DOGS...and their likenesses are on the labels of their namesake wines!!! Can you stand it? Anyone who names their wine after their dog is a star in our book! Missy Laura and I. We were still tasting at this point. This was right about when Laura decided to move up here and be my neighbor so we could go wine tasting every day! Yeah yeah....I made that up. My Boy and I. He's my Hunky-Monkey. I think the buzz was a little more apparent. I look WAY too happy to be 45. After tasting, we each got a full glass of wine and Cora then took us on a little tour of the winery. We got to see the whole production area from smashing the grapes to the bottler and labeler. We walked up to the upper level of the property where there is a little pond. As we stood there taking in the serenity of the pond, about 100 fish darted into view, scaring us and causing me to scream out loud. The buzz was very apparent at that point. We went back to the Tasting Room and got another glass of wine and sat in rocking chairs on the front porch and discussed how there really was no better way to spend the day. And that is when I took the photo of the wine glass and flag. We said our farewell to Cora and headed down the road to find something to soak up some of the wine eat. We came upon this place: These are the best places to nosh, right? Behold: Yeaaahhhh. I don't know if it was the wine or what, but this was the best burger I'd ever feasted on. (Except for Dano's home-made burgies. THAT goes without saying!) So, Laura and I ordered bacon cheeseburgers that came with everything, though Laura eats hers dry. Nothing on it. The guys, on the other hand, ordered regular old burgers with the assumption that their burgies would come with, oh I don't know, lettuce or tomatoes or onions or TOPPINGS IN GENERAL!!! I guess at Birdsview Burgers, you have to tell the little ladies workin' the counter exactly what you're expecting on your burger. Laura and I felt bad for the boys and their sad, plain, topping-less burgers, but the buzz of the wine left us powerless to do anything but snarf. We had the long drive home, during which Laura and I reclined the back seat and "rested our eyes." (That is Grandma Liebel's term for napping...and Laura uses it on occasion!) When we pulled up to the house, we all noticed this unsettling phenomenon. There was a dark ring around the sun. Very, very bizarre. I admit it fa-reaked me out. It finally disappeared, allowing us to relax a little, knowing the world wasn't coming to an end on my birthday! We spent the rest of the day looking at the houses for sale our neighborhood (the one right behind us is perfect for Laura and Corey...we even have a back gate to connect our backyards. Just sayin'...) For dinner, we'd originally planned to go to PF Changs. But after a day of wine-tasting, we were more inclined to hang around the house and let Dano feed us his version of Me 'n Ed's pizza. I KNOW! Dano has been on a quest...a mission, if you will, to duplicate the pizza from Me 'n Ed's in Long Beach, CA. We believe he has come out victorious! Trust's that good! A special treat for Corey in his visit up here was that his friend from his Navy days, David Shellhammer, was able to drive over from Bremerton and have dinner with us that evening. He's a sweetheart. The poor guy U-turned right into a grass-covered ditch at the bottom of our hill Sunday morning and he just took it in stride. They hadn't seen each other since Laura and Corey's wedding. We all feasted on pizza and then headed out to the firepit for an FPN...Seattle style. S'mores and mosquitos. Yay! Sunday morning, I woke up feeling amazingly good. (Considering the amount of wine and Captain & Diet Cokes we consumed the day before!) We headed to church and then to the Bluebird Cafe for breakfast. Yummy! Sigh. Sadly, we had to drive our favorite lovebirds to the airport on Sunday afternoon. We stopped in at the Pyramid Brewery right by Mariner Stadium for some grub, since the travelers wouldn't be getting any real food until late that night. A little Hef, some nachos, some BBQ chicken pizza and a rather eccentric History teacher who made our acquaintance because of Dano's t-shirt that had Ben Franklin's quote: "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy" made for a memorable lunch. Did YOU know that Ben Franklin and George Washington smoked weed? No? Well, this woman did. And she was all too happy to go on...and on...and on about it, while our pizza cooled! I think we all silently cheered when she finally left our table so we could eat! We got to the airport and sadly bid farewell to our awesome niece Laura and her sweet hubby Corey. Fortunately for Laura and I, a simple one or two word text brings all the fun right back! After all, "We live on the Rez!" Tee hee! Corey and Laura, come see us again when you can! We love and miss you!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Riggins to Seattle '09: Part II

Here they are again: My favorite lovebirds. Hanging out on Deception Pass. On Friday morning, we drove up north to the little town of La Conner. It is impossibly charming with little shops and yummy places to eat. We settled on having a late breakfast at the Calico Cupboard. Trust me, it was to die for! On the way out, amidst the wafting aroma of fresh croutons being made, Missy Laura and I made our way over to the bakery case full of unbelievably decadent treats. It took about 10 seconds for both of us to lock eyes with the Chocolate-covered Coconut Bar and some homemade caramels. We'll talk about that later. We all had to walk off our breakfast just a bit, so we mosied up and down the main drag of La Conner, looking in the shops at all the one-of-a-kind goodies. Seriously, I could retire in La Conner where Danny and I could make crafty things all day to sell to the tourists. But only after having breakfast every morning at the Calico Cupboard!

Next, we drove up and over to South Whidbey Island. What connects the mainland with South Whidbey is Deception Pass. It is two spans of bridge and looking out on either side are beautiful views of the water WAYYY below and all the pretty greenery. It is quite breathtaking. Dano and I being tourists.

We drove all the way down through South Whidbey and then boarded the ferry to take us back across the Puget Sound to Mukilteo. Missy Laura didn't tell us that she gets a wee bit nauseous until we were already on the ferry, but she did just fine on the trip. How cute are they?

But really, when one is on a ferry with a little outcropping to stand on at the front end of said ferry, there is only one thing to do: "I'm flying, Jack!!!"

I know...we are dorks. We pretty much agreed on that fact when we turned around and looked up at the ferry pilots looking down at us through the window, shaking their heads. Yeah, like they've never seen that pivotal scene from Titanic recreated on the ferry before!!! Sheeshh.....

Anywayyyyy, we drove off the ferry at Mukilteo and took an immediate left turn into the Ivar's parking lot. It was a beautiful day and we were just starting to get hungry. And thirsty. We sat out on the balcony and I believe Missy Laura and I enjoyed some Malibu and OJ while they guys had beer.

This is Laura's first taste of her chowdah. Ivar's is famous for their Clam Chowder. I generally don't like clam chowder, but I do eat it at Ivar's. With a hot sourdough roll. Dano and I always split a bowl. Sadly, I cannot remember what else we ate at Ivar's. I think we kept it light because of everything we'd consumed at breakfast!

We went home and putzed around before having dinner. Missy Laura and I had not yet sampled the Chocolate-covered Coconut Bar. We set it out of sight where we thought it would be safe. It was not safe. To be completely honest, it would not have been safe anywhere in the house!

So, while Dano and Corey were out on the deck prepping the grill to cook dinner, my Laura and I had a VERY weak moment. It isn't that we nibbled on the Chocolate-covered Coconut Bar right before dinner.

No, what makes us truly weak is that we hid in the pantry to nibble on the Chocolate-covered Coconut Bar right before dinner. And we giggled. And nibbled. And snorted. We thought we would pee our pants because we were laughing so hard. Then Laura decided to move up here and be my neighbor so we could eat Chocolate-covered Coconut Bars every day.

Okay, I made that part up. THAT is the scene of the crime. THAT is where weak moments occur.

Tsk tsk.

But there is more. We thought our weak moment went unnoticed by anyone else in the house. Because we were hidden in the pantry. Unfortunately, we were found out! I'd asked Hayley to do something earlier and I never saw her do it. So, I asked her and she said she took care of it. I said, "Yeah? Where was I???"

(I'm sure you know where this is going....)

Hayley: "You and Laura were in the pantry...giggling."

Stay tuned! There is still more Riggins to Seattle to come...

Monday, June 22, 2009

Riggins to Seattle '09: Part I

Just look at these two. I call them my Lovebirds. One year, three months and 14 days since they said, "I do!" Seems like it was yesterday!
Missy Laura and her boy, Corey flew up back in May to visit us in the rainy Pacific Northwest. Problem was, it wasn't rainy. It was gloriously hot and sunny. We couldn't have asked for prettier weather for our favorite newlyweds to experience.

After we picked them up at the airport and drove home, I had to show Laura one of the favorite things in my house...the Keurig. Laura, being the coffee drinker that she is, said a little prayer of thanks and immediately brewed herself a cuppa joe. I believe she chose the Island Coconut flavor, which opened up a whole new level of bonding for my darling niece and I. More on that in Part II.

By the way, that is my "Butler's Pantry" aka "The Bar." Remember, I don't have a butler. Heh heh. Laura was pretty much in heaven as the little Keurig quickly chugged out a fine cup of coconut-flavored coffee.

A dash of vanilla creamer... ...and Laura decided to move in and never go back to Southern California.

The End! =)

Sorry, I made that last part up. I was only wishing she would move up here and be my neighbor and we could drink coconut-flavored coffee together every morning. Sigh.

Laura has been to our house before. It was a whirlwind visit back in November of 2007 and spent a wonderful 48 hours in our pajamas making her amazing wedding invitations. Corey, since he was on a nuclear submarine at that time, did not come with and had never seen our house. So, while Dano showed Corey (whom Dano affectionately refers to as "Corndog") around the expanse of the yard, I showed Laura the really important things. Like the Keurig.

And my birdie nest, which was an architectural feat of epic proportions. It was lovingly built in the support beam under my bedroom deck. Some wonderful birdie worked awfully hard on this thing. As my dad would say, "It was strong. Like bull."

Remember in an earlier post, when I said there were three of the most beautiful bright blue eggs I'd ever seen? Remember? Check it out...photographic proof: Can you even stand it? Laura was amazed. Corndog was amazed. It was such a sweet sight. So we all went inside and toasted the birdnest and the bright blue eggies with some margaritas, chips and guacamole while Dano made a Mexican feast worthy of our out-of-town travelers. All was right in the world. All was good.


I let Abby and Sasha out for their morning potty time and in my sleepy daze, something caught my eye. Why, it looks like......

{{Insert horrified gasp here}}

IT COULD NOT BE: I know this will be painful for my Laura to relive (even more painful than the month-long wait for me to blog about their visit!) but I must do it to honor the birdies. First, click on the above photo. The big nest was truly a woven marvel. Nestled inside, yet completely separate from that was a super soft, delicate inner nest. And yes, those blue bits....egg shells. Can you see it? No?

How about now? Sigh. We don't know what decided to come into our yard during the night and rip the nest from the beam and then dine on some unpoached eggs. I'm not sure I want to know! It could have been a raccoon or a squirrel or even my Chippie the chipmunk (which my bowling friends told me that "chippie" was a term for a prostitute way back...shows what I know!) Danny thinks it could have been an owl. It could have been Rocky, looking for raw eggs to guzzle. We do know that Sasha woke up and went to sit by the open sliding door in the middle of the night so she must've known something evil was going on out there. All I know is, my Missy Laura and her Corey did not fly all the way up here to experience death and destruction on their first full day here!!!! We needed something to ease our troubled minds. Something soft and gentle.

Ahhhhh, that's better. This was right across the street from us. These sweeties were fairly small. New life. Gotta love nature!

So ends Part I of the Riggins visit. Check back tomorrow to see what fun we managed to round up on Friday! Hint: it involves the front end of a ferry boat!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Fathers Day!

The two men in my life. My Daddy and My Boy. This was just this past Spring Break. These two are buds. The fact that they get along so well is just icing on the cake of my life. I call Danny "My Boy." Always have. Always will. I think he kinda likes it.

He's such a good dad. He really is. Our children are so lucky to have him for a daddy.

He's a strong, silent type. Much like my own daddy. Always there when you need him.

Sorry... heart just melted.

He's a proud daddy. We took Brian out to celebrate Straight A's on his recent report card and Dano must've mentioned it to the waitress no less than 5 times.

Watch out boyfriends of that cute little Minnie Mouse. Consider yourself warned! Heh heh.

He has taught our babies all about camping and fishing. Much like my own daddy.

I love my Daddy.

And I love My Boy. Along with our babies, he is everything to me!

Happy Fathers Day to My Boy and My Daddy...and to all the daddies out there!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

A Sneak Peek

Literally. Just a little peek at what is to come in the very near future.

Yes, the three photos in this very abbreviated post all have something in common. Can you guess what it could be? Above was a peek into the bird nest under my bedroom deck. Can you stand it? Yeah...enjoy that charming little photo for a day or so. I'll explain why later.

Below is a little peek at a Coconut-Oh-My-God-Chocolate treat. It was that good.

Finally, we have Missy Laura and her hubba bubba, Corey. Could they BE any cuter? No, I just don't think so.

Do you give up? These three photos all happened while Laura and Corey were visiting us a few weeks ago. (It seems like a lifetime, especially when Aunt Diane has not had time to properly update the blog in a timely fashion!) I had a little text-versation today with Laura and I cannot handle the guilt any longer. (Arrrrghhhh...the PAIN!!!) I promise, nay, VOW that "Riggins to Seattle '09" will be posted on Monday.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Drum Roll Please...Spring Break '09

Any guesses where we flew off to for Spring Break??? If you said sunny'd be correct! Since my parents and both of my brothers and their families are all now living in the Phoenix area, it made sense for us to head down their way for some fun in the sun and get together for a Rydin Family Reunion.

We said goodbye to our furry babies and flew down on a Friday afternoon. Josie Grandma had a wonderful dinner waiting for us when arrived at their house. That probably didn't need to be said because Josie Grandma and Grampa always feed us as if we just got rescued from a desert island...there is no shortage of foodies!

Saturday morning, we headed to the Renaissance Festival. Have you ever been to a Renaissance Festival? You should really go to one...if only to fully appreciate the modern convenience of throwing on a pair of shorts and a tank top! The outfits that the regulars wear are amazing. Heavy layers and layers upon layers. And it was hot. And everyone calls each other M'lord and M'lady. While we were waiting for the gates to open, the Royal Court addresses the crowd and some of the entertainers come out to...entertain. The bagpiper on the left was about 7 ft. tall and probably weighed a good 120 lbs. And yes, the photo is black and white because somehow I flipped to B/W mode on the camera without even knowing it.

This guy was pretty amazing. So were his tights. Hahaha...just kidding. I love how this shows Dextre with his umbrella on his unicycle on the high rope and behind him is the painting of Dextre with his umbrella on his unicycle on the high rope.

This is Maiden Hayley, wearing as much of a wench costume as she could muster. And no, I do not believe they had sunglasses back in medieval times. Or Abercrombie & Fitch. I think this was right after one of the Renaissance dudes walked up to her and stuttered something in his medieval language like, "Thou art wondrous fair, M'lady!" which roughly translated meant, "Hot damn, can I get your phone number!"

Anywayyyyy, there was lots of food to eat, shoppes to browse, jousting knights to cheer for, privies to visit (ahem!) and elephants to ride. Sorry, there will be no photographs of someone riding on an elephant. We just can't go there. You can ask someone about riding on an elephant, but I guarantee that someone will not even pretend to know what you are talking about.

Moving on. Sunday of our visit, we had the big Rydin Family Reunion. Ummm...well...hold on..oh wait, this was from another Rydin Family Reunion... 1998! Ha! Had you goin' there, huh?

Yes, Danny and Karin are missing from that shot because Danny had to stay home and work and Glen hadn't met his wife Karin yet!

Here we all are! The Rydin mob-scene. That's what we like to call these shots where everyone gathers in for the photo. Closer....squish together more....move over some...THERE! Say cheese! L to R: Cody (17), Allison (15), Grampa, Taylor (almost 19), Karin, Joy, Glen, Keith, Dano, Brian (15), Hayley (16), Diane and Josie Grandma. We have about 15 more of these in varying degrees of smiling, not smiling, squinting, leaning, blocking each other and I think there is one that cut poor Cody in half!

Josie Grandma made me very, very happy and got a carrot cake from Costco. The angels sang a song of glory when we cut into this baby! Sorry...I got carried away with dessert first! Can you blame me?

This is my brother Glen's wife Karin and my hubba bubba.

This is Glen's son Cody talking grill-talk with Grampa.

Glen is a chef and Cody is following in his footsteps and already pursuing a future in cooking. Cody told me about his possibly being on a Top Chef for younger chefs. Could anything he said to me make me any happier? I love me some Top Chef!

Josie Grandma and Hayley. I used to think Josie Grandma was so tall, but your perspective changes when your kids grow as tall as your parents (and you.)

Chef Cody and Josie Grandma. Cody is taller than she is.

We grew up playing games, so what better way to spend some time than good old Yahtzee?

Uncle Keith thought he was going to blow us all away with his mad Yahtzee skillz...

...but I think you can tell from the smirks on our faces, it was not to be. I'm pretty sure Uncle Keith was counting up his dice for a 12 on his Chance there. Heh heh...

Like I said, the food never stops at Josie Grandma and Grampa's house. The brats, lovingly arranged on the grill.

Nobody does pork and beef roast slow-cooked like my Mama.

Though she taught me and now give her a run for her money on the whole pork-roast thing. Just sayin'...

We all ate outside since it was perfect weather. This was the kids table. Our kids are all in their mid to late teens now.

We're going to have to allow them at the grown-ups table soon. Actually, Taylor did take his spot at the grown-ups table.

We had to get shots of the just the grandkids together. Ahhh, I crack myself up! Again, circa 1998. (As if you couldn't tell from my mad scrapbooking skillz...nice die-cut flowers on those corner cuts Diane! Heh..) But seriously, can you stand it? Just look at those cute babies!!!

And look at them now! Sigh. They do grow up fast! And they're still cute!
I thought Hayley had long legs. Allison might have her beat by an inch or two. And yes, Hayley is doing that thing with her fingers behind Brian's head. I think secretly...he knew.

Let's try this again. Perhaps just letting them be themselves... Nope. Okay then. Time to pull out the big guns.

I may or may not have resorted to fart humor...
What? You've never had to resort to fart humor to get The Shot? Whatever.

Hayley can't handle it!

Neither can Brian.

Well, it was a lot of fun trying to get a photo of these jokers!

While we love Josie Grandma and Grampa and we love hanging out at their house, the real attraction is the pool. Don't worry, Josie Grandma and Grampa feel the same way. They love us, but when it's pool time, it's POOL TIME!!!! (Scroll all the way down on that link to fully understand Noodle Soup!)

There was a lot of this: The worshipping of the sun. For comparison purposes only, that is my lily white leg in the forefront of the photo. Please refrain from all comments regarding "Casper the ghost" and "Owwwww, its BLiNDinG my eyes!!!" and "Gosh're so white!" Yeah, I've heard 'em all. They're very hurtful. Just kidding...I totally embrace my lily white-ness, even when sitting next to my tan daughter.

There was a lot of this: The girl-child is a mermaid. She can hold her breath for-EVER under water.

There was a lot of this:

See previous statement about the holding of the breath.

There was a lot of this: Uncle Keith is the Cruise Director. He is the Ringleader. He is Uncle Keith. Don't ever change!

Now, these two are sneaky. Perhaps a bit camera-shy. But Allison and Cody are no match for Aunt Diane, who pretended to not be taking a photo when she snapped this one! But Keith's son Taylor...he was a worthy adversary. I could not sneak a good shot of him.

His father, on the other hand...not so camera-shy.

"Uncle Keith, Veech vay to Muscle Beach?"
"Zees vay?"

"Ohhhh, eez eet zat vay?"

"Ohhh, vee are already at zee Muscle Beach!!"

Good times! These two are a pair to draw to. I remember commenting to Keith's wife Joy, as we watched our hubbies saunter off to get into mischief, "It's probably a good thing we don't live close to each other because we'd have to take turns babysitting those two!"

Joy laughed and agreed.

We also shopped til we dropped, we bowled, we played some serious Gin, I finally got to get a Cherry-Limeaid at Sonic (which did not disappoint) and there was plenty of golf to keep everyone happy. Sigh, we had a fun, relaxing time in beautiful Arizona. Then we had to say goodbye and come home. =(

Thank you Josie Grandma and Grampa for everything! We miss all you Rydins!

P.S. We think the next Rydin Family Reunion should be up in Washington. Just sayin'...