Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year's Eve

My how 2012 has flown by, not my best year of chronicling its adventures, but still some wonderful memories made, and many lessons learned. 

To end things on a high note, please enjoy this video of two of my favorite people in Hollywood!

Happy New Year's Eve everyone!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hiking to 2002

In 2002, there was a huge fire in the San Gabriel mountains, it was so bad that we even got ash raining down on us in Orange County. I will always remember that it was the first weekend my parents came down to visit in me in college and ash was just everywhere.

This wasn't just a fire we heard about the news and hoped everyone was ok, this fire had a bit more of a connection for us. In the 1920s after the great depression hit, the state of California allowed several people to build homes in these mountains and they would be given a 99 year lease (because there had to be a time frame since they were allowing them to build within a state park). My Grandparents ended up buying one of these cabins that was built, sometime in the 1960s and in the early 1970s a tree fell on a portion of it, so my Dad decided to he would go live on the mountain and rebuild the portion that the tree fell on. Eventually, the family sold the cabin, but Dad still would share his stories of it and I was able to see how much it meant to him and the memories he had there.

When we found out a couple weeks later that the fire had blazed through Soldier Creek my Dad wanted to make the trek up the mountain to see if the cabin was still standing. They called the park and he was told the roads were closed because of how much damage the fire had done. He would end up calling a couple more times over the next four years, but got the same answer, that they were working on the roads and the park as a whole. In 2006 when I was moving out of my apartment and back to Paso for the month before leaving for New Zealand, my Dad came and helped me get all my things. We decided to take a bit of a detour and see how far we could get up the mountain. We got about half way before we got to a ranger station that said the road to soldier creek was still closed for repairs. He did tell us that two cabins had survived the fire, but everything else was lost. My Dad still had a bit of hope, but he knew for how far up the cabin was, it was a long shot.

Over the next six years we made more phone calls and waited on word that the road had opened up. Finally in April 2012 (ten years after the fire) we read an article that said Soldier Creek had opened back up. We made the plan for my parents to come down in the fall after Dad's surgery and recovery time.

So the other weekend made the hour and half drive north, parked the car on the side of the road where there used to be a mini lot for more than one car to park, and start the 1/2 mile hike up. Dad shared with Graeme and I that he used to carry 90 lbs bags of concrete up the mountain along with all his other supplies and that he used to run through this area; my Dad kept shocking me on this hike, all these little details I never really knew about him. He became even more of a stud in my eyes. We passed one cabin, so we knew there was still a chance. Then we passed a second cabin. We all thought the park could have gotten their numbers wrong and maybe there were other cabins that made it. But after turning the corner to my Dad's neighbor's cabin, he saw his former home's foundation...nothing more.

It was obvious a cleaning crew had been through, there was nothing left, but the rocks of the foundation, the shower Dad had built in the remodel, and his outhouse which had the only remnants of fire on the side of it. It was a bit sad to watch Dad walk around the old place. Both his parents are gone, his brother is gone too, most of his extended family is gone, and now the cabin is gone. I asked him how he felt and he responded, "ashes to ashes and dust to dust, none of this was ever meant to be permanent Heidi", in true Dad fashion. He explained he was just happy to know. He didn't have to wonder anymore. It was gone and now he knew.

We hiked around a bit more on that mountain and heard more stories from Dad. It was a wonderful day overall and even though something was lost, I knew my Dad was happy just to be making new memories and sharing a part of himself and his story with us.

The foundation of the cabin

Dad hanging out in what once was his shower

The front door to the cabin

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Autumn, Grapes, & Family

My family is a lot like other families, we have our own dramas, our losses, our gains, we come from generations before us who tried to give us a better life. I love my family and they probably really don't know how much.

They have taught me what it means to be there in the most exciting hours of life and the most devastating trials life can bring. They have taught me what hard work and determination can taste like. They remind me that I belong and that there are other people who look, act, and think like me.

What brings these thoughts up you ask? Getting the chance to spend time with ALL of them in one place.

Every autumn season my Grandpa has a wine harvest for his small vineyard on the property. He has been doing this for as long as I can remember. I remember it being him and my Grandma setting up for just a small group of family members, to it growing into a party of a couple hundred family and friends, to now being hosted by my Grandpa and his new wife Marie, and again being a small intimate group of these now two mixed families. Through the years it has brought people together to celebrate the changing of the seasons, catching up on years lost, remembering those who are gone, and welcoming those who have entered this crazy clan.

The grapes I have always thought, bring people together. My Grandpa is one of ten siblings, so this event always gave family the chance to see each other once a year. To meet cousins I had no idea I had. To hear stories about my family that I would never have known, if it not for my crazy wonderful Great Uncle Tony. To be reminded that I am very much like the Grandmother I didn't really get the chance to know, but so desperately wanted to. Maybe autumn is my favorite season, because I connect this grape harvest to it. It reminds me that no matter where I am in the world, I am connected to people, I have a history and a future thanks to these people.

Family...even though many of you don't even know I have a blog :) I love you very much, thank you for contributing to making me who I am. Challenging me to be better in every way. I wish autumn came more than once a year...

Monday, September 24, 2012


I can't believe it has been a month since I last posted but the months just seem to be flying by. My Mum always used to say the older she got the faster time flew and I am finding that to be true myself. These last few weeks have been filled spending time celebrating wonderful friends, getting the chance to disconnect and go on our first proper holiday, and anticipating the autumn favorite time of the year. 

One of the things that I have really enjoyed this season of life is being a part of a life group again (a small group of about 4 other couples that meet weekly to talk about life and God). These people challenge me on a weekly basis to think outside of the box that I grew up in along with encouraging and fostering who I am as a person. A year ago these people were strangers to me who practically had come from all parts of the country within a matter of several months of each other, but now they are so much more than strangers. 

One in particular Ally has really challenged me and encouraged me over this last year. Her latest topic of conversation has been a woman by the of Jen Hatmaker (yes, this is her real last name). She wrote a book called "7 : An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess and when Ally handed it to me last night, even in my skimming I couldn't seem to put it down. It was as though this woman had been reading my journal the last several months. The process would in no way be easy, but something worth the element of sacrifice. If you get a chance to take a look at her stuff I would already highly recommend it without even having completed the book myself. Graeme and I are in the process of discussing if this is something we could and would take on and I think I already know the answer which could make for a really interesting start to the new year ahead!

Friday, August 24, 2012

A Surprise in the Making

Graeme and I are in the process of creating what we are going to get/create for our loved ones for Christmas. This little display of love is part of some of their surprise and truly just a shout out to Graeme and his incredible skills in the kitchen. 

This is a celebrated chocolate cake within Graeme's family called Dana's Chocolate Cake. The recipe itself is pretty simple, yet ever so good! If you want to make it yourself you will have to translate its measurement as they are all in the metric system! Enjoy!

1 2/3 cups flour
1 1/2 baking soda
1 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups trim milk
100 g butter, melted
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

100 g butter
250 icing sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
milk to mix
1 tsp vanilla essence

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (I translated that portion for you :)). 

Grease loose bottom cake tin and line the base with a greaseproof paper. Mix all the main ingredients together and pour into prepared tin. Bake for at least 50 minutes. The cake will rise a lot and when cooked the center should spring back when gently pressed. 

To make the filing/icing, mix butter and dry ingredients together, adding a dash of milk and mixing together again, adding tiny amounts of milk until you achieve a thickish, soft, spreadable icing. Once finished add vanilla to the mix. 

Once cake has cooled spread filling/icing to your hearts content. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

4th Of July Pinterest Project

Summer isn't over just yet, so I thought I would finally blog about our 4th of July creations!

I saw these a couple of months back on Pinterest and I knew I wanted to make it my goal to make these for the 4th of July party we were going to and thought they would be the easiest thing to create and take!

Creating them really wasn't all that hard, I had found this ideal recipe (again on Pinterest) for the rice krispie treats and putting the fruit on skewers wasn't hard, just a little time consuming, but that was expected; it all came down to the transporting them that made it a bit rocky. I had purchased green planters foam for them to stick into inside the cute red tin I had found, but because the rice krispie treats were just a tad too heavy some of them started to "fall" off the sticks.

Overall they were a huge hit, super yummy, and no one really minded eating "fallen stars". If you want to try this fun little creation yourself even just for a random day no where close to the 4th of July look no farther than here.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Our Big C

No one is really prepared when you hear the word cancer in relation to those that we love.

Cancer sadly is a part of a lot of people's daily lives, I know, but nothing could have prepared me for that day in April when I got the call that someone I love very much was going to have to fight in a way they never had before. My Dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer on April 27, 2012; and yes, it is one of the most treatable kinds of cancer, but to me all I could hear were the words, "it's cancer Heidi".

The days and weeks to follow were a couple trips back and forth to the central coast, crying, lots of phone calls, crying, research, writing, more crying, and prayer. Over the months I really became numb to the whole situation and really just started to operate in cruise control mode, until a choice was made to which route he would fight.

July would be the month of his surgery, they would open him up, remove the cancer, and call it a day.

July has come and gone and that early Thursday morning seemed to drag on like no other day, but it all went well and they got it all! Some of the best news one could hear, but it was the days following that really showed me what I was made of and capable of. I learned how to be a "nurse in a pinch", communicate effectively in stressful situations, and learn to love my parents in a whole new way. I made a couple of new friends and I realized I just can't control or take care of everything no matter how hard I tried.

One of my new favorite friends is Piper. She was my Dad's main nurse and truly such a thoughtful, caring, attentive individual. Come to find out her life had been impacted by cancer as well. Just a couple of years ago her husband lost his battle with cancer and because of the interactions with his nurses and the lack of interaction, she thought she could do a better job and went back to school for her nursing degree. It broke my heart to hear her share this story, but I was so thankful for her story too, that she chose not to roll over and die herself after losing the person she loved. She chose to make a difference in those who were fighting the same fight she and her husband had. I loved getting to know Piper, seeing her put up with my Dad and his stubborn side, along with dealing with my somewhat overbearing Mum. She's an incredible person and if it were only for this reason for my family to meet Piper and get to know her, it would make sense in a strange sort of way.

Cancer has been around my life, but now it has been a part of my life, and will continue to be as Dad gets his regular check ups and tests, but like so many other things in this life it doesn't define me or him. It just changes you and impacts you in a way I think most of us are never prepared for.

On a lighter happier note...this is Max. Since he couldn't come to the hospital with us, he wanted to make sure to send Dad a get well and come home soon bouquet...

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Local Travels

Grae and I have some major set goals for us financially for us over this next year, so it has caused us to be creative about taking time away from Orange County. So a couple of weeks ago we had the chance to go up to Santa Barbara. This was a duo purpose trip with getting a chance to see my parents while showing around some of Graeme's friends who were visiting from Australia. 

We drove up the coast to Santa Barbara and this is a place that I have spent a ton of time in especially with one of my best friends having lived there for several years. Every time I had the excuse to stay with her for a couple of days I took it. The Santa Barbara I knew with Rachel was the home-grown, little secret hangouts, the Santa Barbara away from the beach. The Santa Barbara we got to experience was a bit more of the touristy State Street part, which had its own fun parts to it. 

We had lunch at a cafe right on the beach (literally our table was on the beach) with seagulls snatching up the lady's sandwich right next to us! After lunch we explored State Street, walking down the pier and looking through all the little shops that reside at the end of the pier. Graeme and I then went and explored a couple of the hotels just for the fun of it, because who knows when we'll be coming back and want to stay a few extra days!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Vegas in 48 Hours

A couple of weeks ago Graeme and I got the chance to celebrate two good friends and their union into marriage. For this wonderful event we traveled to Las Vegas and this would be Graeme's first time to Sin City and I couldn't wait to see his reaction.

Our adventure started by having to taxi on the airstrip in Vegas till our gate was cleared while sitting in front of the party row; informed the whole plane they had been drinking all day to prep for their weekend...brilliant idea.

Once we got out of the plane and into the terminal Graeme's first statement is, "there are slot machine's in airport?" I knew going forward this was just going to be so much fun to see his shock and awe face and it totally was! Our weekend continued on with people watching in the taxi line for about an hour, walking down the strip late at night, getting to see the human body exhibit (that Grae is still talking about!), celebrating with Tiffany and Larry in the "world's largest limo", and getting to see the Bellagio fountain go off!

It was a great jaunt over to Vegas and I think Grae had a pretty good time himself and is still in a bit of shock from the whole experience! Enjoy a few snapshots of our adventure!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Celebrating Life

My family as a whole is going through a lot right now. Empty nest syndrome, health concerns, college tuition issues, the teenage years, things that come with aging, and more. Some are easy to laugh at, some have caused us to get angry, and others just leave us in a state of shock; but all in all there has been something sweet about coming together as a family and being there for one another through each situation.

Graeme and I traveled up North to spend time with my parents, to say goodbye to a dear friend, celebrate my Grandpa and Uncle's birthdays, along with celebrating my Mum for putting up with my Dad and I all these years!

It was a truly a fantastic trip and I have to say that I don't think Grae and I were expecting that with all the things that were going on with the family. I had just come back from a work trip in Vegas that week and so getting to spend 10+ hours in the car with Grae was fun, just getting to catch up and talk about our summer/future plans. Spending time with my parents was sweet and being able to help around the house and cook brunch for Mum for Mother's Day did a bit of spirit lifting for he and I.

Yet, I think it was my Grandpa's birthday that was the most shocking fun part of the whole trip. I was under the impression that my family knew Grae and I were coming with my parents, but when we arrived everyone was in shock with lots of shouting and hugging. My Grandpa had the best reaction, laughter and tears and his wife was pretty sweet too, not believing that we had made the trek to spend the afternoon into the evening with all of them. Getting that time is rare and it made me love my family all the more. They are these creative, generous, stubborn, loud, and most loving bunch I could have ever asked for. They love me whether I have shown up to these or events or not these past 15 years and they have embraced Graeme in a way like he has been a part of their lives this whole time. I love them so much for that alone.

For coming off a very long week and jumping right into what would be a long weekend, it was a ton of fun, with memories that will be tucked away for those rainy days when I miss them the most.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

April Showers Bring May Flowers...

Though we didn't get a ton of April showers, these May flowers sure are pretty! Graeme and I had fun little adventure down to the Carlsbad Flower Fields, can't believe it was my first time!

After we went to the flower fields we stopped in San Clemente to have lunch and we found this "vintage" type sweet shop that had some of our favorite kiwi candy and we decided after a mini adventure like that we should get flowers for the house too!