The Month of May, brought to you by my phone

My computer is broken. I think it committed electronic suicide, but Colin just said that a Trojan attacked it and wiped out my hard drive, which really confuses my history student sensibilities.

Because of the broken computer, I can’t transfer any of my pictures from my camera cards onto a computer, since Colin is silly and owns a Mac. For real Colin? Looooser. So instead I’m going to finally show you some of the gems that have been sitting on my phone for the last month. Please, enjoy the following montage….

 

Lens flare! Look at that mom, I’m learning all of these technical terms. Isn’t this a great iPhone picture though? I mean, the sunset can take all the credit for being so darn pretty, but you can’t deny that the camera on these little beauties is not half bad.

These are the stairs on the new Lighthouse Trail, which starts right next to my house. I was very thankful that I was only walking down these stairs. I hope to never have to do the opposite.

I’m in trouble.

Momma came to spend the day with us while we shopped in Nanaimo for bulk food. We took her out to a fun Mexican restaurant and then made her wander Costco with us. Moms: what would we do without them?

This is us driving in the middle of the road on our way home from Nanaimo. Colin was trying to maintain the radio coverage of game 7 of the western conference finals. Shockingly, we only had about 10 minutes without coverage in the entire trip. TEAM 1040’s signal strength = amazing.

When we got home from Nanaimo and I was finally allowed to open my belated birthday gifts (which are the best gifts, by the way. It’s alike a month long birthday extravaganza!). I said some choice swear words when I unwrapped this little beauty. While it isn’t the $400 cast iron Le Creuset that I am saving up for, it is possibly the best birthday present I have ever received in my life. My first Le Creuset! I cooked with it the very next day and I swear it made food more delicious.

Um, hello cavernous hole in my loaf of bread from Coombs. Yeah, that cave ran through the ENTIRE THING. I salvaged it by chopping it up and freezing it for croutons, but come on people. If I wanted a hole in my bread I would have bought the bagels.

It’s the mythical Saltines without the salt! I thought people just joked about their existence, but look at that! Here they are in my kitchen. I did not let Colin get off too easy on buying these, because hello, who buys saltines without the salt?

I live here. No big deal.

This was my view Saturday while I prevented errant cars from plummeting towards the crowds of people at the Dock Fest. I was clearly super dedicated to my job, since I had the time to take at least five different shots of Meares Island….

So that is about it. There are about 100 pictures on my phone just from this month alone, but I don’t think you would appreciate seeing all 12 pictures of the neighbor’s cat who is constantly trying to get into my house, or the 19 pictures of my feet in the sand.

You’re welcome.

So here’s to June! This month will be off to the most kick ass start, since I’ll be at Hot Springs Cove all day tomorrow, then getting a free massage, then spending the night at Pacific Sands in a private villa with the ladies of Tourism Tofino.

AND I’M NOT EVEN KIDDING ABOUT ANY OF THAT.  Love my job. Expect a very long a picture filled post in two days!


An Email I Sent Today

Today I sent this email to Colin with instructions on how to cook rice for dinner….

Subject: got RICE?

To cook deericious rice:

Put 1 cup of rice in a pot. Pour over a cup and half of water.

Turn the heat on to medium-high. Watch the pot VERY CAREFULLY until little bubbles begin to pop up to the surface, forming little craters in the rice. Craters are extremely important in the making of rice, did you know that?

Once the craters have formed (you should see this happen because you are carefully watching the pot) cover the pot with a lid, turn the heat down to low and simmer for 20 minutes.

DO NOT OPEN THE LID. If you take the lid off of the pot during the cooking of rice, the entire universe will implode. At least this is what my mom’s reaction to my taking the lid off of the rice pot when I was 12 implied to me. Hysterics, I tell you.

Once 20 minutes is up, it is safe to take off the lid without risking immediate death of entire civilizations. Fluff the rice with a fork and eat lots.

If you want to make extra rice for lunches or fried rice, increase the amount to 2 cups of rice and 3 cups of water. Same cooking time, same warnings about the lid.

Just cook the rice and set it aside, I’ll do the chicken and stuff when I get home if you want.

Love,
Alex

Clearly I am losing it.


Bake My Bread

I’m pretty picky about bread. Generic sandwich bread makes me sad. And here in Tofino, it seems like that’s all I ever see. It’s either sandwich bread or the artisan stuff that costs nine bucks a loaf. I like bread, I don’t like it that much.

Colin and I considered bringing a breadmaker with us, but I really hate the things. I love putting a bunch of stuff in a machine and waking up the next morning to fresh bread, but the bread that comes out of those things isn’t that great. Those of you who disagree with me and really like your breadmakers, call me when that thing can churn you out a French baguette.

Before we left I scoured food blogs and online recipes, looking for a good basic bread recipe that wouldn’t require lots of attention. Colin and I both work full time and don’t really have time to babysit a ball of dough. Do you have any idea how hard it is to find an easy bread recipe? One that doesn’t require freaky ingredients, kneading, punching, rising and shaping? It’s pretty much impossible. I had resigned myself to eating crappy bread or investing money in the delicious but expensive 600 degrees bread from the Tofino market.

Then I found this recipe on the Tasty Kitchen website. Four ingredients? All of them currently residing in my pantry? Yes, please. It is a no-knead bread recipe, so all you have to do is mix up the ingredients in a bowl, cover it and let it rise for about 18 hours. Just forget about, forget you made it, forget everything for 18 hours until it looks like a bubbly creature from the dough lagoon. Then you put it in the oven with a pan of water underneath it so it gets steamy and thus fluffy with a crunchy crust.

When I made this for the first time, I freaked out. But not nearly as much as Colin freaked out. I thought he was going to drop down right then and propose.

No dice. I’ll let you know when I finally nail him down.

But he really really liked the bread. Loved it. Raved about it to everyone. Made me grilled cheese sandwiches with it. The last thing he said to me before going to bed that night was “Man, that bread is amazing.” For realsies.

Need to impress a dude? Make this bread. Your house will smell fantastic when it’s baking, and you can impress him with how it totally looks like that amazing bakery bread that is made in the shape of footballs. Yeah, that good.

Here’s the recipe below if you don’t want to use the link, you lazy bum you. I also added my own notes to the recipe below in hopes that it might help you along. Try it! It’s fun to make your own bread, and this is honestly the best homemade bread I’ve ever had.

Artisan Bread Awesomeness

Ingredients

  • 3 cups All-purpose Or Bread Flour, With A Little Extra For Dusting
  • ¼ teaspoons Instant Yeast
  • 1-½ teaspoon Salt (Note: I Started Out Using Plain Ole Table Salt But Find You Get A Much More Robust Flavor With Kosher Or Sea Salt)
  • 1-¾ cup Water, Room Temperature

I haven’t tried it yet, but fresh herbs would be amazing in this bread. Chop up some fresh rosemary or thyme, or even dill and add about a tablespoon or two to the flour before you mix the water in. Yummy.
In a large bowl, mix flour, yeast and salt together. Add water and stir till more or less blended. The dough will be thick and shaggy. Think Creature from the Black Lagoon.

Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at room temperature for at least 12 hours, but to 18 or 20 hours. Seriously.

I put mine in the window sill on sunny days because it’s cold in my house, and dough likes a little warmth. If you have this temperature problem, you can also turn your oven on for a few minutes, then turn it off and open the oven door to let the heat out. Just make sure your dough bowl is sitting near or on top of the oven, not across the kitchen, as this makes the whole thing totally pointless. WARMTH, people.

The dough is ready when it is swollen and bubbly all over the top. Think lunar surface.

I did none of the following steps up to shaping the dough into loaves. I tried it the first time and didn’t like how dense the bread was at the bottom. But try it, it’s fun to play with dough, and it might work for you.

Spread 1/4 to 1/3 cup of additional flour on a smooth work surface. Dump the dough onto the floured surface. Have a scraper handy because it’s pretty gooey and will stick to the bowl.

Sprinkle the top of the dough with a little more flour. Using a bench scraper or spatula, lift up one side of the dough, give it a good stretch skyward and fold it over the rest of dough. Repeat this process 2-3 times trying not to deflate the dough too much.

See? I skip those two steps and go straight to the following. I’m badass like that.

Flour up you hands and get ready to shape the dough in loaves or rolls on the floury surface. For rolls, divide the dough in half, halve again, and divide each quarter into thirds. For loaves, divide dough in half and create rounded or oblong free-form shapes. Work as gently as possible so as not to deflate dough very much.

Place these little gems on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Dust loaves/rolls with flour and cover with plastic wrap.

I also sprinkle a little kosher salt and pepper on top of the loaves – this made it extra yummy.

Let rise for 30 minutes while you pre-heat your oven to 475 degrees (F). The oven does need to be good and hot.

A few minutes before it’s time to put the bread in the oven, put a pie pan filled with 1/2 – 1 inches of water on the bottom rack. This creates steam — a “turbo boost” for the bread and creates a great crust.

Bake bread on middle rack till it’s a fine, nutty brown — about 15 minutes for rolls and about 20 minutes for loaves. Bottoms of your bread should be browned as well.

My bottoms were not browned enough at 20 minutes (story of my life, pale bottoms…) so I took them off the baking sheet and placed them back in the oven for an extra 2 minutes to brown the bottoms. This is important because you want crunchy crusts, not soft.

Cool on a rack, and as tempting as it may be to tear into your bread while warm, it’s actually way better once it cools. You have been warned.

I actually agree, even though I am the QUEEN of eating warm bread. Entire loaves have been consumed. But you should wait, because the bread gets chewier on the inside and it helps retain the shape of the loaves. You don’t have to go crazy with waiting though. A half hour will do.


Dock Festivals, Sun Burns and Corn Chowder

Yesterday I volunteered at the last Dock Festival for FeastBC’s month long festival. It was so sunny I wondered if I had woken up back in Maple Ridge. But then I remembered that if I was in Maple Ridge, Daisy would be taking up 90% of my bed, and I wouldn’t be waking up at 7am to Colin tapping on his iPhone. Oh the joys.

The dock fest was amazing fun as usual. This week’s theme was spot prawns, which are one of the few gifts from the sea I can eat without unintentionally gagging. Scallops, you’re next. Oysters, I’m sorry, but I don’t think we’re ever going to make it work.

I tried to eat everything, but again keeping kids from plummeting into the ocean is a full time job. That, and making sure the Europeans stay inside the liquor tent. They just don’t understand that they can’t wander around with their booze in Canada. Lucky Europeans and their lax drinking laws. Jealous to the max over here, sitting inside with my bourbon.

My favorite spot prawn bite of deliciousness was a yummy cracker topped with a prawn, strawberry and cucumber mixture from the Wickaninnish Inn chefs. It was girly. I like girly food.

For the second half of the festival I was stationed at the top of the hill that leads down to the dock. I had to stand there and keep cars from mowing people down.  I got to wear an orange vest. I felt powerful.

All of these fun volunteer duties were done while the sun, so rarely seen in Tofino, bore down on me. I had put on sunscreen in the morning, but it just did not hold up throughout the day. Luckily, most of my body was covered by leggings and a three quarter length shirt, but everything else was exposed. I am a patchy lobster.

I have a raging case of flip flop lines, a Rudolph nose, beet red forehead and a pretty nasty forearm burn. When I had a shower this morning, I also realized that I had forgotten to put sunscreen on my scalp. Ouch.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get any pictures of this week’s dock fest. I put my card in my camera before I left the house, turned it on to make sure my camera was happy and healthy, which it seemed to be. I guess going to the docks upset my camera, as it promptly crapped out on me when I arrived. Funnily enough, when I left the docks to go to work, it immediately started working again.

Then it requested new batteries. Selfish camera. Thinks of no one but itself.

Alliteration Alert! Today I’m making a giant pot of chorizo corn chowder with corn we bought in Coombs. It will be grammatically correct and delicious. Here’s the recipe:

Corn Chowder (adapted from The Pioneer Woman‘s corn chowder)

Ingredients

  • 2 slices Bacon, Cut Into 1/2-inch Pieces (or Smaller)
  • 2 links of chorizo, cut into chunks
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1-½ whole Yellow Onion, Diced
  • 5 ears Corn, Shucked (about 4 Cups) or frozen corn
  • 2 medium sized potatoes, cut into chunks (no need to peel unless you are compelled to)
  • 2 whole Chipotle Peppers In Adobo Sauce, Finely Diced (chiptole powder would be fine too, use 1 tsp)
  • 1 whole 4-ounce Can Diced Green Chilies (you find these with the Mexican foods. Tiny can)
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1-½ cup Heavy Whipping Cream
  • ½ teaspoons Kosher Salt (more To Taste)
  • 3-4 slices of crusty bread, cut into cubes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Preparation Instructions

Slice corn kernels off the cob. I do this by standing up an ear of corn in a wide bowl and holding the top firmly while slicing the kernels off the cob, running my knife down the ear.

Cook bacon in a pot over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Throw in the chorizo and cook until both the bacon and chorizo are crisp. Throw in diced onion and cook for about 3-4 minutes, stirring to coat the onion with all the yummy bacon/sausage fat. Add butter and melt. Add corn and potatoes. Stir to mix the veggies and coat with all the deliciousness. Add both kinds of chilies and stir.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees

Pour in the chicken broth and cream. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Let it boil for just a minute, then turn it down to a simmer. Stir frequently, because you don’t want the cream to do weird things.

While the chowder is simmering, place the bread cubes on a baking sheet and toss with 1 tbsp of olive oil. Place in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until the bread is crisp all the way through and is a toasty brown color.

Ladle the soup into bowls and top with the croutons. I like it with some sour cream, because the chipotle can be a little spicy.

Die of happiness, because this chowder is so freaking good. It makes enough for about 8 servings and just gets better if you eat the leftovers the next day. Yum.


My First Trip to Tofino

My first trip to Tofino was horrible. It was traumatizing. I swore I would never go back. So much for that idea.

In August of 2007 – Colin and I had been dating just eight months – Colin’s dad asked him to come man his glass art shop in Tofino while he went for a two week vacation. I should explain here that Colin had been spending summer in Tofino for about nine years before he met me and decided he needed to spend a summer at home to “lock it down”. His words, not mine. He missed him summer home and surfing, so he said yes. And off he went, my boyfriend of eight months.

Of course, two weeks out of an eight month relationship feels like eternity when you’re eighteen. Being a recent high school graduate, I felt that I was both mature enough and responsible enough to take the bus over to Tofino for Colin’s last weekend there. So I told my mom I was going, booked the trip with her credit card and her begrudged permission. One week later, I was at the ferry terminal with my mom, ready to strike out on my own for the first time.

I remember the sunny day at the ferry terminal pretty clearly, because the day’s happenings cause me to carefully look back on everything I had done that morning. While at the ferry terminal I had to reassure my mom that I would be careful, phone when I got there, be safe, and not die. The one moment I remember the most happened just as I was about to enter the departures area to board the ferry. My mom, in all her motherly wisdom said to me “I have a bad feeling about this.”

At the time I brushed her off, telling her everything was going to be fine. Of course I did! I was eighteen and nothing bad was going to happen!

Of course, I didn’t tell my mom that the thought of getting on a ferry by myself, boarding a bus (which I had never done in my life – city bus or otherwise) and traveling across Vancouver Island to a town I’d never been and stay with people I’d never met before absolutely terrified me. When I sat down in my seat on that ferry, alone for the very first time, I was having my classic internal breakdown. I did not move once from my window seat on the ferry, barely able to focus on my book or the music on my mp3. I was so sure that somehow, if I moved, my mom was going to end up being right.

When the ferry docked in Nanaimo, I walked off with all of the other foot passengers. At the time, the Nanaimo ferry terminal was under construction and looked like a military barrack. Hallways made of plywood and tarps, no signs telling you where to go. I was so scared and confused that I didn’t even realize that I had not peed in about four hours. And by the time I found the bus stop for the Tofino Bus, I was not going to leave my spot on the off chance that I would somehow miss it. Who cared if I had a five hour bus ride ahead of me? Clearly I didn’t. So I settled in to wait for the bus.

So I waited.

And waited.

And waited a little longer. 45 minutes longer, to be exact.

Being someone who had never ridden a bus in her life, I assumed that buses were pretty punctual. In fact, I assumed that buses were somehow legally obligated to be on time. I don’t know how I got that high school diploma either.

Being already scared of my mind, the bus’s lateness was not helping my emotional state. I phoned Colin on my mom’s cell, which she had pressed into my hand in exchange for promises to call in case someone was trying to kill me, or something like that. Colin assured me that I had not missed the bus, and that late buses were actually pretty common, especially in Tofino. I, for one, was sure that the bus was long gone, because my mother said she had a bad feeling about my trip. I was sure she had jinxed it.

However, I was vindicated when the bus finally showed up. See mom? My trip was going just fine!

Again, having never ridden a bus or been to Tofino I hadn’t mentally prepared myself for the packed seats that I faced when I boarded the bus. As far as I could see, there was not a single seat available on that bus. It was a sardine can of hippies, tourists and smiling Germans.

I love Germans. Happy people.

When I spotted an open seat, I was relieved. I wouldn’t have to ask one of those selfish people who clearly didn’t want a seat buddy to move their surf magazines and accommodate my bum in the seat next to them. Yes, I was quite relieved until I politely asked the woman with the only open seat on the entire bus “Do you mind if I sit here?”.

Nothing. Not a glance, not a nod, not even a mumbled “yup”. What a peach. But my bum needed to sit down, so I sat it next to The Silent Lady. I finally relaxed a bit, since the portion of the trip that I was able to screw up was done. I was on the bus, the bus driver would take me to Tofino where Colin would pick me up and never leave my side ever again, damnit.

About an hour into the trip, I ventured a glance over at The Silent Lady. To this day I still wish I hadn’t. The entire time she had been quietly sketching in a small book. When I looked down at it out of the corner of my eye, I immediately concluded that this lady was disturbed. The page she was quietly sketching on was a collage of dead birds with a little boy in the middle, looking pretty….sad…. if you can derive a mood from an emo sketch. I’m not sure if she knew I was looking or not, but once I’d gotten a fairly good look at the picture she immediately stopped drawing and began to slowly flip through the book, which illustrated more dead birds of various sizes and more sad looking little boys.

I was clearly sitting next to an axe murderer.

I began constructing a pretty detailed picture of this lady, who I had become sure would try to kill me and/or glare at me severely at some point during the trip. I didn’t know much about Tofino, but it sounded like the kind of place an axe murderer might go. Remote, small, filled with kooky-looking hippies. If I were an axe murderer, I would go there. So, I concluded, that must be why she was going. To seek refuge from the fuzz in Seattle, where she had been tormented by the violent voices in her head and the constantly gloomy weather. But that didn’t really jive with Tofino, cause it’s waaay gloomier.Scarp that.

This is the cycle my brain went through for about another half hour, when we reached Port Alberni. By that time, I was pretty worked up. The lady next to me was an axe murderer and collector of body parts that were most certainly stuck in the bag she held firmly on her lap. Morgan Freeman was going to board the bus at any moment to arrest her, discovering that she had kidnapped a small child and was transporting him or her to Tofino in a bag stowed win the bus’s storage unit.

This is where my mind goes sometimes. I don’t know.

We left Port Alberni right on time. Only an hour and a half from there to Tofino, and despite my creepy as all get out bus buddy, I was pretty happy. Relaxed, even.

About a half an hour outside of Port Alberni, I was rocked by a huge bump. And then a loud “BANG!”

Morgan Freeman?

Nope.

A big fat flat tire on the big fat bus. Mom’s foretelling had finally materialized in the form of a giant hole in the tire of the bus. After attempting to ‘raise up’ the bus with the air line, the bus driver told us that he would have to turn back to Port Alberni to get the bus fixed, a delay of likely two to three hours.

I don;t know how many of you have driven to Tofino, but the road there is skinny, twisty and usually hugs cliffs the way I hug my Le Creuset before bed. Turning around a Greyhound bus on one of those roads is no small task. I was sure, as the bus driver squeaked his way back and forth to turn the whale of a bus around, that this would finally be the moment when I would actually have to phone my mom and tell her I though I was going to die. I really, really didn’t want her to be right on that one.

It took a little longer to get back to Port Alberni, what with the giant tire flapping along underneath the bus. We were quite the attraction driving through town. Flapping tires are not quiet, let me tell you. When we got to the repair shop and all thirty-five of us unloaded from the bus, we were told to be back in three hours, at which time the tire and the damaged air line would be right as rain.

Stranded for three hours in Port Alberni? I had myself a little heart attack right there. Can’t go anywhere, might get lost! Can’t stay on the bus. Can’t sit on the sidewalk looking sad, someone might think I’m cute and take me home and love me forever.

Luckily, there was a Dairy Queen just around the corner. I plopped myself down in a booth with a large order of fries and a Reese’s Pieces Blizzard and hibernated for the next three hours. Thank god I had packed extra Nora Roberts books. Nothing like a little cheesy romance to pass your time in a Dairy Queen.

Unfortunately, I did have to call my mom and get the exasperated “I KNEW I shouldn’t have let you go!”. Secretly I agreed, but I wasn’t going to tell her that. I was a mature and responsible high school graduate with a reputation to uphold.I told her I was just fine, I would just be a little (LITTLE!?) late getting to Tofino, but Colin was still going to be there waiting for me. at the other end.

I was going to be fine!

Three hours and 2,000 calories later, I boarded the bus. Thankfully, the axe murderer chose to find another seat after the bus had emptied out a bit at previous stops. I was a little disappointed that Morgan Freeman wasn’t going to make an appearance, but since my day wasn’t exactly batting a thousand, I was taking all I could get.

An hour and a half after leaving Port Alberni (again), I was finally pulling into Tofino. The sun was just setting over the water and I was falling in love with the town already. I stepped down the bus steps, expecting to see my loving boyfriend waiting for me in the dying sunlight.

No dice.

No boyfriend either.

I waited, and waited, and waited a little while longer. I had told Colin that I would be exceptionally late, and even called him when we got to Ucluelet to let him know I was exactly 30 minutes away. So where was he? 25 minutes later, even the bus driver was feeling sympathy for me. He very sweetly offered me a ride, but seeing as how I didn’t even know where I was going, it was a sweet but useless gesture. He left with a wave and a smile.

I was almost in tears when Colin finally walked up the hill at last. The sun had set, the town was dark and I was terrified. I was ready to beat him with my LuluLemon yoga bag. I had braved ferries, buses and axe murderers on a godforsaken bus just to see this boy.

And all I got from it was  constant replay of my mother saying, in my head, “I told you so.”

Some mother-daughter lessons are taught, others are demonstrated through axe murderers and flat tires. My lesson to learn was that my mom’s intuition about bad things happening is sometimes right, and that a few days away from a boy won’t kill me. In fact, it’ll probably save me a ton of trouble.


Funny Things Visitors Asked Today

*Pointing at the long term weather forecast*

“Is this true?”

Are you asking me if I know, right at this moment, whether or not the weather forecast for Friday will be correct? I realize that seeing rain for the next three days can be upsetting, but let’s not start hoping that the Info Center girl has any sway over Mother Nature. If she did, would it be raining right now?

“Alex is a boys name where we come from.”

I realize this isn’t a question, but sometimes visitors tell me the funniest things. I know I have a boy’s name. There were too many Allie’s in my kindergarten class, so I decided that I would be edgy and change it to Alex. Or maybe I didn’t, all I remember is that around the age of 6, people stopped calling me Allie and started calling me Alex. I never know what to say to that statement, though. All I ever say is “Nope, I’m a girl!” and hope that is enough to satisfy their need to inform me about how gender-confusing my name is.

Often, when I first meet locals who regularly get emails from me, their first statement is “I thought you were a boy!”. I have been tempted to change my email signature and name tag to the full Alexandria just to avoid the occasional surprised local or visitor.

Just for the record, I am a lady.


Back to Ohio

Because I’m still sleeping almost twelve hours every night, I have no time for fun things to post on here. So I’m going to take a step back in time and show you more of my Ohio trip.

That’s right, twelve hours. It’s great, but I’m just exhausted all the time. Must be fighting off a cold or something. Or it’s just the sea air knocking me out. One or the other.

Way back when I was in Ohio, I took Colin to the Longaberger Homestead, which is the root of those giant baskets you see everywhere. The Homestead is the headquarters, and is a great place to shop for – what else? – baskets. They have house stuff too though. And sweaters.


I have dozens of pictures of myself and my sisters with this bear. It used to be located in the most wonderful teddy bear store in Dresden, but when that shop closed the bear moved into the Homestead. Colin joined years of Ohio tradition by having his picture taken with the bear (which Tarah once said she would marry – it never worked out. Long distance thing).

Colin also fell prey to the tradition of making his own basket at Longaberger.

Colin was an amateur. While his basket did end up looking good, it was clear there was no Ohio blood in his veins.

Mom howled at this picture. This is my “Yes mom I will look up at you and smile to accommodate your picture taking obsession, but make it quick cause I have tools in my hands and am making a work of art” face.

Look back up at the picture. You know it’s exactly what was running through my mind. Look at that clenched jaw. I’m expressive like that.

The red eye really enhances the crazy look though. Must get Photoshop.

Colin and my Auntie Deb had a good time together.

Princess Shinyface, Nice Basket Man and Colin. We worked well together. Aren’t our baskets pretty?


More baskets! This one looks so ugly because they are re-weaving it for summer. Not because it was a sad reject basket that didn’t make the cut to become this basket:

Those wee little people are Colin and I, just to give you some perspective.

Everything’s bigger in Ohio, and by everything we just mean the baskets.

We also took Colin the ‘The Place Where The Magic Happened” also known as the place that facilitated the love of his life being born. Or, Ohio State University.

This is the Schottenstein Center. It is the Ohio State University hockey/basketball arena. It is just slightly smaller than Rogers Arena. People take their Ohio State sports seriously, which explains why Columbus Bluejackets tickets are only $25 for decent seats.People just don’t have room for any teams other than the scarlet and grey!

This might look like a cathedral to you. Well, I guess you could say that the OSU football stadium is kind of like the church of Ohio State. Yeah, this is the entrance to a football stadium. Stained glass windows and vaulted entryways.

If you can tear your eyes away from the architecture, please also note that Colin and I are working it out for the paps (Momma). Thank you.

I know it’s not a church. You know it’s not a church. But it still feels kind of…spiritual in a way. It’s the social and entertainment center of the campus. I attended a game here a few years ago, and I finally understood what my parents were carrying on about all those years. Ohio State football is a big deal. Tailgates and matching outfits and more tailgates and all night parties, all surrounding one Sunday game of football. It’s pretty amazing.

Our trip to Ohio was everything I wanted. At the heart of it, I wanted Colin to meet my family. I wanted him to understand where my family comes from and why they’re so important to me. And I wanted him to understand why Ohio is the symbolic place that means so much to us.

I think he liked it.