From my happiest place on Earth.

I went straight from Betty to Bass Lake.
That in itself is craziness, but it was just what we needed after this hectic summer, and right before school starts.

However, now the challenge is to force myself to unpack and do laundry, instead of baking up some yummy treats.
Not an easy task.
At all.
But I will be disciplined.
The oven can wait.

Even if I can't.

{The fact that I have a molar that is hurting SO BADLY, I cannot chew a single bite of solid food, and have heartily considered going all frontier on it with a pair of pliers, may be part of the reason for the willpower to stay out of the kitchen.  I hate you dental insurance.  Hatey, hate, hate.}

I'm not going to lie.
This summer has been tough.
Beautiful and fun.  But overwhelming and tiring.

My husband has been traveling a ton.
I have been traveling a ton.
It has been a constant dance of pack/unpack/pack/unpack, catch up, leave again... then repeat.

After two back to back trips and being without my husband for eleven days, a sweet and dear friend sent me the most wonderful text.

"I am bringing you dinner tonight."

Those were the exact words that I needed to hear that day.
Because it was one of those days.
A too long, short fused, counting down the minutes until bedtime, sort of day.
My girls missed their dad.  I missed my husband.
I was tired.  They were tired of me being tired.

Penny came in and brought happiness and comfort in a casserole dish.

Which led me to think about the single mamas who face what I was facing.  Except it is every single night.  The military wives who sacrifice so very much, while their dedicated husbands are fighting to keep this nation free.  The women who selflessly, lovingly do double duty, and deserve all of the support we can extend them.

My eleven days were hard.  But my eleven days were NOTHING in the grand scheme of life.

Think of a mama who could use a night off from cooking.
A mama who is so worthy of the comfort and thoughtfulness that a meal can bring.

Surprise them.
I promise that it will mean more to them than they will ever know.

I love to bring Brinner when I make a family a meal.
It is fun and unexpected, and who doesn't love yummy breakfast for dinner?
Monkey bread is a delicious and easy treat to make.  I have yet to meet a kid who didn't gobble it up.

This versatile breakfast bake can be assembled beforehand and also makes great left overs.
A two-fer.

I also send along a gallon of orange juice, as well as, pack paper plates, napkins, and disposable cutlery.  Because what is almost as great as a night off of cooking?  A night free from dishes.

I challenge you to think of someone you can bless.
Someone who could use some love in the form of cozy food.

There is nothing better.

I just got in from a whirlwind trip of awesomeness.

Awesomeness that involved making my very first crepe.

Pretty much, I could have stayed in Betty Crocker's kitchens forever and ever.

But my sweet family would miss me.  I would miss them.  Besides, who would I bake for?

So, I came home with so many ideas, inspiration, and recipes, that I can't stinking wait to share.

Be prepared for some crazy delicious, wrapped up in an easy and simple package.

I'm giddy.

It was sooooooooo wonderful!

Have you ever had a dream that you didn't even know you had?
Something that you wouldn't even put on your bucket list, for the very fact that it wouldn't occur to you that it could even be possible?

Today I am in the middle of such an unexpected dream.

I am visiting Betty Crocker's headquarters and ...
wait for it...


Someone pinch me.
This can't be real.

I had two goals for the night...

Make sure Jason wasn't tortured and to hear at least one of my favorite songs.
Both goals were brilliantly exceeded.
A quick pre-show dinner at Pei Wei.  Spicy goodness.
Lovey, love, love the self portrait feature on the iPhone 4.  How cute are we walking into the venue?
Our seats were better than decent.  They played a beautiful combination of songs from the new album, some crowd favorites, a few obscure treasures and covers.  I only heard one of my five that I was hoping for, but I have spent the last few weeks studying the setlists and figuring out my statistical odds of hearing each one.  That's the problem when a band has so many great songs.  There is not enough time in the world to play them all.  Especially since many of the songs turned into 13 minute jam sessions.

The best part, Jason wasn't tortured.  In fact about two songs in, he was completely won over.  He marveled at the crazy musical skills of each person on stage.  How could he not?  It is insanity.
I have a feeling that my husband has a new boyfriend.  

Somehow I will have to survive 2011 without them as they take a much needed break.
See you in 2012, my love.  

I drink a lot a lot a lot a lot a lot a lot a lot a lot a lot of water.
Then I drink some more.
I always have, and my mom is the exact same way.
I start to mentally panic if it has been more than about thirty minutes and I don't have water options in sight.  I think that my need for so much of it, and the fear that I might not have any soon, renders me so sensitive to the plight of those without access to clean water.
I know that I take my daily gallons for granted.
I try to remind myself of that every time I take a sip, a shower, a dip in the pool.

My water tastes have gone in phases.  There was the lemon years, the lime times, oranges, every kind of mint under the sun, strawberries, cucumbers...
But this summer a whole new flavor has taken a hold of my heart.
Lovely, aromatic, bright, elegant, basil.
My poor, dear, plant cannot keep up with my ravaging.  I am close to having to buy a new one.  Especially since yesterday, when on a whim, I threw some leaves in a tall glass of icy coolness.
The basil is unexpected.  Savory.  Refreshing.
My new fave.
Dare you to try it.
It's really, really, wonderful.
Then as you sip, sit down and check out Charity Water's September Campaign.  They have some world changing goals and dreams planned for next month.

I might not like to fly to Norcal.
But I love to be in Norcal.
I would like to take California, remove the middle (sorry, I could place it somewhere great, like next to Kauai...) and smash it right up against the OC.  Then I could just drive a few miles to see these girls.  No flying trauma involved.

What did we do while we were there?
Such, glamourous, unique, and extravagant things.
Go to Target.
Go to Joann's.
Not sleep.
More not sleeping.
Mainly talking and eating.

Holla for Monkey Bread Crack.

Holla for Crispy Crack.

Holla for Caramel Crack.  (Grovel, plead, beg for Mel to post the recipe.)

  Holla for Zachary's Crack.  (Which just sounds wrong on so many levels...)
Think that pizza can't be crack?
Back in the olden days when I was newly married, and Jason was on tour most of the year, I would frequently visit my besties who were in grad school up in Norcal.  That is where I met Zachary.  That is where I fell in love.  With a pizza that I have been pining for.  Dreaming about.  For over ten years.  Finally, we were gloriously reunited, and yes, it felt so good.

We became quite impatient, waiting for baby Cole to be born so we broke Heather's water.  That's what cool kids do.
{Or we staged a silly picture after one of many spills...  you decide.}

A Joann's run was in order to get fabric for our Sassafras shoes.
Notice the Stella & Dot gorgeousness?
Heather G. brought over her whole collection and we got to borrow whatever we wanted for the day.  Swoon.  How badly did I wish a few pieces would fall in my luggage...

While Heather M. helped me start my quilt, Erin was hard at work making our shoes.  Our stinking adorable, can make me totally forget about my love for flip flops, shoes.  A picture was in order of the final cuteness.    The empty shoe?  For our dear sweet Marta, who was missed every moment of the trip.  The shark?  It belongs to the shark-loving Heather G.  Not the shark-phobic yours truly... I have an otter tattoo, but that is a story for an entirely different time.

(Want your very own pair of Sassafras shoes?  You are in luck.  Erin has stocked her new shop Haute Blue B with more awesome than you can imagine.  Lovey, love, love.)

Over a year ago I began my adventures in quilting.
I fell in love.  I picked out fabrics for future quilts.
I even made two.
But then it happened.
Like it always does.
A.D.D. strikes back.
The fabrics were neatly folded and put away.  Only one of my girls had her own quilt.  I struggled with that.

Then Heather had to go and find this quilt pattern.  Not only find it, but immediately make one for her nearly born son.

I was smitten.  It was so different, yet so simple.  I knew immediately that I needed to make one.  How could I not?
Thankfully, I was about to see Heather.  She was going to be my personal quilting instructor. Yes, please.

She helped me (by help, I mean she used her crazy math brain) plan out the measurements and showed me some great tricks to assemble the blocks.  She even forced me to carefully trim each square so they lined up properly.  I am not always so good at proper.  While I was on my Norcal adventure I actually finished two blocks.  Two out of thirty...

When I got home I cut each square.  Lots and lots and lots of squares.  Cute, but boring squares.

Then I paired them up in as random of a pattern as I could.  This part was sort of fun.  Seeing how each fabric worked with another one.

Next was the sewing and the cutting.  Lots of sewing.  Lots of cutting.  Sigh.  This pile might not look like much, but it contains 120 unpressed, untrimmed little beasts.

Little beasts that need to be carefully, individually, precisely pressed.
Bore to the ing.
With my $12.00 iron.
Then the trimming.
Oh, the trimming.
A.D.D. is making it's presence known.
But I keep clicking back to Heather's quilt.  Thinking of what this will soon be.  Once I can force myself to get past this stage.
Keep me accountable.
Keep me ironing.
Or come over and do it for me.
It is sooooooooooooo boring!!!
But it will be soooooooooo cute.  Soon.  Soon.  I hope.

It's no secret.
I hate to fly.
Hate it.
I like to go places.  Just not really the getting there.
So why, oh why, did I convince myself that a crazy cheap flight was a good idea?
Maybe because even flying first class (frequent flyer miles, thank you very much mom and dad) on Delta can be traumatic.

So come with me on a little storytime adventure.


Long Beach airport.

I totally got a tan cruising the tarmac for 50 miles.
Not used to that.
At all.
But all is well.
Remember, our flight was $19.99 each way.
Erin and I were seated together.
In an emergency exit row.

Which is shady, because I am pretty sure that if ever a plane would go down, I don't think I would have the ability to keep it together enough to open the door and do the other assorted responsibilities.  Seriously.  Airlines put lives in the hands of people who absentmindedly agree to do complicated tasks.  When I am fairly certain that the only reason people pick emergency exit seats is for the extra legroom.  Not because they are skilled and altruistic heroes.

Our flight from Long Beach was uneventful.
I started reading For Women Only on my iPad (men are really, really, weird), while listening to my boyfriend Dave sing on the iPod.  I totally ignored Erin.  Sorry friend.  I promise you this, it is better to be ignored than to bear witness to one of my spiraling panic attacks.  An entire Quantas flight back in 2000 can attest to that very fact. 17 hours of facts.

But back to the flight...
We landed at Stockton airport.
The same Stockton airport that 100% of the people we were visiting did not even know existed.  That's weird, right?
One gate.
Free parking.
Just about the easiest de-planing ever.
I am used to flying out of LAX.
This was no LAX.
Not a Starbucks in sight.
In fact, not a thing in sight.
Mel picked us up in the midst of cornfields and cows.
It was awesome.
I am so crowded by suburbia, I always appreciate wide open spaces.  One day I hope to sleep on the hard ground, with a pillow of blue bonnets and a blanket made of stars.  Well, not really, but the Dixie Chicks sure make it sound fun.

Fast forward to the flight home.
Wow.  Just wow.

Every pilot has to have a first flight, right?
Do they take their first flight with a plane full of passengers?
I didn't used to think so.
Now I know that they do.

All was calm.
I had the window seat.  Erin the middle.  Random dude on the aisle.

I sent my husband a text that basically said:
"Boarding Sketchy Air.  If this plane crashes, know I love you.  Thanks for choosing me.  Take good care of the girls.  See you in heaven."
I am not kidding.
Because if the plane indeed did crash, I wanted him to have a moment like in the movies when the forlorn widower listens to the answering machine over and over.  Yes, I am prone to drama and melancholy.  He's used to it.

So we take off.  I nervously wait for permission to put my headphones on.  Why, oh why, do they make you wait?  Can an iPod really jack up the plane?  Because if the plane is that sensitive, I am not too comfortable flying on it.
Finally, Dave sings.  I start to relax.

But that is where it ends.
Randomly the pilot, who I will call Ed, as in Driver's Ed, accelerates.  Decelerates.  Climbs.  Dives.  Repeat.
I did not sign up to be part of an air show.  Thank you very much.
I stare at Erin.
She stares at me.
We both decide that this is the end.
Random dude next to us is trying to ignore our freaking out.

Imagine that you are a passenger in a car where the 15 1/2 year old is driving for the very first time.  But not only driving for the first time.  Driving a stick shift for the first time.  But you aren't a passenger in a car.  It is a plane.  You are in the sky.  With a 15 1/2 year old.  Driving stick.  That is pretty much how the flight felt.

I needed a distraction, so I pushed up the window shade.
Bad idea.
The giant turbine was all up in my business.  Making that "I'm about to suck somebody up, or burst into a ball of flames", noise.

Erin says "That's so Lost!"

Lost is one of the reasons that I hate to fly.
I realize that when the plane goes down we are going to be part of the Tailies.  That means when we go down, instead of being with cute Charlie, I will be with lame Ana Lucia.  Seriously, Damon and Carlton, who did you owe a favor to when you cast her?

Then I look down.  I see Catalina island.  Except I convince myself that it is actually Dharma Isle.  I am pretty sure a polar bear runs by, that is promptly devoured by the smoke monster.

The plane dives.
Gravedigger comes on the iPod.
Dave.  Bad song choice for this very minute.
I start thinking that I won't need a grave dug.  Because we are over the ocean.  Sharks will take care of my remains.  How thoughtful and cost effective.  Two phobias for the price of one.

Ten more minutes of crazy, which seem more like one hundred million.
Jerk flight attendant tells me to turn off the iPod.
Doesn't he know that this is the WE ARE ABOUT TO DIE part?  That when the plane snaps in half, I want Dave to be there with me?
But he doesn't care.  Dave gets packed up.

Random dude has gone from laughing at us to a full white knuckle mode.

We approach the runway.
Crazy fast.  Like crash into the terminal fast.  Starring in an action movie fast.
Then we suddenly veer right.  Skid, skid, skid, skid, skid, stop.
That plane might need a set of new tires.
I almost needed a new pair of pants.
I have never wanted to kiss the ground more.
Will I fly them again?
Honestly, yes.
Because I like me a good deal, and I love adventures with the Hollas.
Plus, this month prices have dropped to $10.99.

Not the real Holland.
Although, that would be amazing.
I am heading north to see my fave Hollas, which somehow got auto corrected to Holland.
So now we call it our Holland trip.
Dorks?  Yes.  Not ashamed.

Erin will be my flying partner.  On an airline that pretty much nobody has ever heard of.  Did I mention that I hate, hate, hate to fly?  I do.  Add a flight on a sketchy airline...  deep breaths, Xanax, my boyfriend Dave on the iPod.  She better not read Twilight out loud to me.  Or I will jump out of the plane.

Mel is our hostess for the adventures.  She is driving past two closer airports just to pick us up at the shady airport that Sketchy Air flies to.  She has promised to make monkey bread.  That alone will get me on a plane.  Yes please.

Heather M. may or may not give birth to her fourth child while we are there.  That would be lovely if he choose to make an appearance during Holland fest.  But if she doesn't I want her to help me start my next quilt.

Heather G. is bringing her snackable baby girl Gianna, who may just be the second happiest baby girl I have ever met (right after bald baby, obvs.)  Love her.  She also is solely responsible for my Stella & Dot obsession.

Marta, my favorite resident of the Show Me State (Missouri, for those of you who don't know your state nickname trivia) will be with us in spirit and with us in Pottery Barn Dip.  Sad face.  Sad face.  Marta,  it will not be the same without you.  Seriously.  I want a Star Trek machine to get you there.

We have grand plans of shopping, eating, crafting, eating, being dorks, eating, and enjoying all that Holland has to offer.

I love these girls.  We forged friendships over Twitter.  We built wells together.  They are my hollas.  They are everything that is good about these here internets.  It is going to be a really good few days.

Unless my plane crashes...
$19.99 each way?
That can't be good, right?

Harvest Crusade was phenomenal.
What an event.
I can't tell you how exciting it is to be at Anaheim Stadium.
Hearing God's word.

Singing praises to Him.
Seeing lives changed.

{photo by Ariel Amaro.
He is going to take over the world soon with his filmmaking and photography.
Mark my words.  I am continually freaked out and inspired by his talent.}

Bald baby could have used a headband or something.  She totally looks like a boy.
It was an adventure trying to keep her from eating off of the stadium floor.

Someone was perfecting their stinkeye.  Perhaps she thought that we were all there for a grouchy child competition.  Even my dad couldn't coax a smile out of her.  He made a valiant effort though.

But as soon as her daddy came on stage, the grouch left the building.

Halley made sure that her doll could see the whole time.  Even if it meant sacrificing her own view.

I sent shirts to Nookie Scooter and she made the best dresses ever.  With matching doll dresses too.  Can you handle the cuteness?  There are not enough words to even come close to describing how much I adore what she created.

 I love seeing this crazy reunion tour through their eyes.  To them it is totally normal to have a dad that plays drums at stadiums.  Normal and magical.  That is how childhood should be.

The price of razor refills is ridiculous.
(That's right.  I'm talking to you Gillette Venus.)
However, the cute Venus-esque Target brand one?
Not the same.  Unless you like cuts and blood.
Trust me.

Suave conditioner is a beautiful alternative to shave gel.
Helps lessen the sting of the cost of the dumb razors.
But do not, I repeat, do not use it on your hair.  Unless you like dreadlocks and crying.
Again, trust me.

If I ever invent a new hair care line, or if a hair care line ever asked me what I want most, this is it.
Conditioner bottles should always be twice as big as shampoo bottles.  But cost the same.

Tip of the day:
Don't accidently shut your flat iron on your earlobe.

Alba products rock my world.
I pretend that I am in Kauai every time I use them.
I am in pretend Kauai a lot.
I wish I was in real Kauai more than pretend Kauai.

Dental insurance is an oxymoron.
I think it would be much more fun to throw money in a trash can and light it on fire.
Then roast s'mores on the flames.

That is all.