Archive for January 2011

Monday, January 31, 2011

Wedding Planning - Version 3.0

Well, you could just blow me over with a FEATHER.......or a SNOW BLOWER......either one will do.

You see, this very lovely couple pictured above has just decided to take the plunge.....

Yup, this afternoon our third child got ENGAGED to Darvonda's import/export guy!  Can you BELIEVE it?!

A few years ago they met while sitting in the French Horn section of a mass band.....

It was LOVE at first sight.

He kind of reminds me of the professor from Gilligan's Island, don't you think?  He's all serious and knowledgeable.  He's a NO monkey business kind of fella.

We hired him on at the greenhouse a few year's ago because he was so detail oriented.  We thought that he might be able to rub off on me and make me a little more organized. 

He is very organized.  Me, not so much. 

This afternoon, he pulled the Big Guy outside onto the porch to have a chat.

"Uh, I was wondering if I could have your daughter's hand in marriage?" he asked, all old fashioned like.

The Big Guy was flustered. 

"Well, I guess you can.  But you have to agree to washing my car every week for the next year, DEAL?!"

And that was it. No fireworks or fanfare.  My little girl was.......ENGAGED.

The Big Guy saunters into our room a few minutes later with a big grin on his face and says "You won't believe the conversation I just had with the Professor.  He asked me if he could marry our Opera Diva!"

You can imagine that I was calm, cool and collected upon hearing this news.

Yah, right!  I think NOT!

I started screaching and bounding out the door to go and congratulate my baby......but......I forgot that the Professor had not yet had time between asking permission from her father.......and getting down on one knee with the ring.

Fortunately for the Professor, he was very organized.  He already had the bling in his pocket.  He was totally prepared to pop the question.  A quick trip to White Rock was all it took.....

Congratulations guys!  May the Lord richly bless you as you plan to join together in His service for the rest of your lives.

In the meantime, I will definitely need to put my thinking cap on.  I've got a WEDDING to PLAN!  Anyone have suggestions on the theme that would best suit my Opera Diva and her Professor?!


Friday, January 28, 2011

New Additions

Today I would like to introduce you to the newest addition to the family.   She came all the way from Ontario to join my Little Angel's household as playmate and canine protector for the Wee One.....

 but, unfortunately for me, I have an intense fear of dogs.  I've always been afraid.  I don't know why.  It's a completely uncontrollable FEAR!

So, if I want to be able to see more of this.....

or this....

or THIS.....

Wee One eating the dog treats!
I am going to have to start facing my FEARS right now.

I checked the internet this morning and found out that Cesar Millan, famous dog trainer extraordinaire, offers on-line courses in "dog". 

I think I'm going to sign up. 

Either that or we fly him to Vancouver for an intervention!

Now, if only I could get some understanding and support from my family regarding this overwhelming fear that one day, some rabid poodle will come racing out of nowhere and maul me to death.

WHY do my kids's think this is soooo FUNNY?!

This is a SERIOUS phobia I have, people.  It is possible to be mauled by a stray poodle.....

You understand my fear, right my darling Little Angel?!

What do you mean, I am being ridiculous?!

Mini Me, I KNOW you understand......

Not you too!

How about you bunch of random 16 year old friends of Danny Boneduce who invaded my hot tub?  You understand my very real fear of dogs, right?

Anyone using my hot tub better say "YES" or they will have to leave immediately!

I guess I'm going to have to work on this little issue on my own.  You'll all be sorry when you get a call from the morgue one day, asking you to come down to identify the body of a 40 something year old woman who was viciously attacked by a poodle in down town Langley some day!

Now, next time I sit down at the FAMILY computer to do my blogging, I will have to remember to avoid having my hair done by my kids who want me to get off so they can get go on Facebook. 

They live to humiliate me!


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Dear Jamie,

Dear Jamie,

Last year I told my kids that all I wanted for Christmas was your cookbook.

Imagine how excited I was when I opened my gift on Christmas day and THERE YOU WERE!  Oh, I was imagining all the great times in the kitchen we were going to have over the next 12 months.

You never let me down, Jamie.  I've had so much fun learning how to cook with you.  Who knew that making soup or guacamole could be so tasty and so much fun?!

Now, I would like to introduce you to a new friend of mine.  Jamie, have you met "The Pampered Chef"?

Your recipe's call for a lot of cutting and chopping of fresh veggies and that means you have to have a good sharp knife in your drawer.

Seeing as I have been abusing my good knives for years, they were all dull and uncooperative until.......

I went to a Pampered Chef party.  The church threw a Pampered Chef wedding shower for Cinderella about a month or so ago and of course, I got invited.  Now, since every dollar I spent went to help her outfit her kitchen for free I decided to go a bit crazy on filling my own kitchen with some very cool new tools that I figured would inspire my whole family to use when they attempt to make me dinner.

Jamie, my daughter insisted I buy a knife honing tool from Pampered Chef that evening and I can honestly say that you need to recommend one of these to every woman in North America. I thought my "good" knives were junk.  I was ready to toss them and buy new ones.  And then, with a few passes through this magic new kitchen gadget,

my knives were like brand new.  As a matter of fact, they were so sharp I cut my finger nail right off

while preparing your Parsnip and Ginger soup.
NOTE:  For those of you who had dinner at my place the other night, rest assured that you did not unsuspectingly ingest my thumb nail.  I found the severed item before I put the veggies in the broth.  It went straight into the garbage.  You are safe.  

I not only bought the knife honing tool but also this really cool Mandolin gadget.....

which can slice onions so fast you almost don't shed a tear.  Unless you are Tamara.  Then you shed tears for hours AFTER slicing onions.  I don't know why, but onions get me every time.

I sliced onions for your fabulous Baked French Potatoes (page 224 of your Jamie's Food Revolution cookbook) and stirred them with my brand new Pampered Chef bamboo wooden spoon.
 Who knew I could get so much enjoyment out of a wooden spoon?!  Of course, Jamie, YOU knew I would love my new spoons, didn't you?  You suggested I buy good quality kitchen tools in your cookbook but I didn't listen at first.  It took me 12 months of dabbling in your book to finally bite the bullet.

WHY did I wait so long?! 

I love the slicer so much that I had to do the potatoes the same way!

Admittedly, it took me a fair amount of time to figure out exactly how this gadget worked.  I almost gave up at one point in time but I didn't want to let my favorite TV chef down.  Little did I know, the blade had slipped out of position and I was trying with all my strength to slice with absolutely no progress.  Eventually I clued in and then it was smooth sailing from there on.

Would you just look at how beautiful this recipe is once it's all put together?
And it tastes as yummy as it looks!  Perhaps it was that little extra dash of Parmesan cheese I added between the layers just because I wanted to try out my new Pampered Chef cheese grater....

Jamie, are you reading this?  Give me a call.  I've got a few pointers for you.  You need to add Parmesan cheese to your French Baked Potatoe recipe.  And there are a couple of mistakes in a few of your recipe's we need to talk about as well.

And you know what happened while I was busily making all your recipe's with my new kitchen toys?   The Big Guy started getting excited and wanted to join in the fun.  I set him to task on making the "Never Fail Gravy" recipe from Jamie's cookbook which really is a goof proof way of making delicious beef gravy!
Since the Big Guy doesn't really have any hobbies besides WORK, I thought I'd try to get him involved in the kitchen.  I watched your show "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution" and figured if you could get people into the kitchen who had never cooked before and helped them successfully make some simple meals, then I could do the same at my place.  The bonus here is that, not only does my guy do a great job as sou chef, he also looks really HOT in an apron!

Now, how can I get my GIRLS to start cooking?!  Jamie, that should be your next TV series, "How to Get Your Teen Aged Daughter's Into The Kitchen To Cook Their Parents A Gourmet Meal".  What do you think?  Can you get on it right away?  I really need help over here.

Well, Jamie, my roast worked out just fabulous as well, although I cooked it 4 times longer than you suggested in your cookbook. 
We dutch folk love our roast cooked to a pulp.  It's kinda like am American pulled pork recipe except it's beef.  It's the way my Gramma taught me to cook Roast.  As you know, you should never mess with a recipe from your Grandmother, right Jamie?

I served around 20 people that evening.  We had a great time eating your dishes with the exception of my sister Lisa who doesn't like Ginger and refused to try the Parsnip and Ginger soup.  She's a traditionalist.  I don't think Ginger grows in the Netherlands.  The dutch are more inclined to eating boiled potatoes, carrots and onions with a little sausage on the side.  You are going to have to visit Amsterdam some day and teach them how to add a little spice to their dishes, Jamie.  You are going to rock their world!

By the way, I showed everyone your cookbook and told them it was a "must have" in the kitchen.  If cookbook sales spike here in Langley, you know why.

So here's to YOU, Jamie......
Thanks for a great meal!  Sorry the photo of us is so fuzzy.  We took 4 different pictures but they were all just as blurry.  Or.....maybe I should stop using my blackberry and start using a PROPER camera?!

Cheerio!  Check out Jamie's tips on essential kitchen equipment.


Friday, January 21, 2011

Party Clean-up and a Musical Interlude

I don't know how it happened but the whole party is all cleaned up already.  My son Junior and his bride are off to Mexico for their honeymoon and the entire wedding set up is already packed and put away.

Elvis has left the building.

Personally, I wanted to leave it the way it was.  It looked so pretty.  We took a vote.  I lost.

The Big Guy said we had to get back to work.  

So, we gathered up a few strong men and removed the piano first.

Next we worked on returning all the rented tables.  It was so hard to see all that hard work dismantled so quickly!

But, we have to get back to what we do best or we'll be late with our spring planting.  There's so much to do to make sure that we are ready for the spring bedding plant season.  Our propagation house is getting full with cuttings that have arrived from all over the world.

The ladies are working hard and fast at getting everything stuck and rooted as soon as the cuttings arrive.

It's a race against the clock to make sure the new plant arrivals get put into soil and set under a computer regulated mist to keep them healthy and get them making good, strong roots as soon as possible.
Our team at Darvonda is the best, though, and the little baby cuttings are doing very well so far.

The Big Guy and I decided to go out and celebrate a few nights ago, to relax and take a little time for a short romantic evening.  We were gazing into each other's eyes and lovingly whispering sweet nothings, sipping a lovely glass of red wine and munching on a few light appetizers when suddenly......

one of my front teeth popped out!  It landed right in my glass of red wine!!  I had always had nightmare's that something like this could happen.  Luckily I was only with the Big Guy when it happened or I would have been mortified.  Can you imagine if this had happened while I was entertaining a customer.  Even worse, what if this had happened at the wedding?!

When we arrived home that evening my children all gaped in horror and exclaimed in unison


"What does it look like happened?  My tooth popped out.  Dad put it in his shirt pocket to keep it safe till I can get to the dentist."

They all turned away in revulsion.  I don't know what it is about me, but for some reason my kids are very embarrassed by their mother.  Can you figure out WHY?!

It doesn't look THAT bad, now does it?!

Yesterday I had an appointment to fix me up with some permanent teeth that will hopefully never pop out again.  The procedure included a SKIN GRAFT and a DENTAL IMPLANT, all on the same day.  I've decided to take a little time off from work so that my mouth can heal up.  I figure one day of lying on the couch in my house coat should help me heal faster, right ladies?!

The Big Guy keeps phoning, though.  "Can you just stop in the greenhouse and take a look at this sample for me?" he asks so urgently.

"Uh.  How am I gonna get better if I don't rest like the doctor ordered?" I ask sweetly.

Half an hour later he calls me again.  "We have a meeting in a few hours.  Are you going to get dressed?"

Sigh!  I guess I'd better get dressed and meander over to the office.

In the mean time, I would like to leave you with a little musical interlude that I taped a week before the wedding.  Danny Boneduce had a big concert at Kwantlen University with his cello group and, even though I should have been folding wedding programs at the time, I snuck out to watch my 16 year old baby boy play his heart out.  He's the skinny one, second on the left, with the long legs and the white hair.  When I watch this video the thought crosses my mind that soon he too will leave the nest like his big brother.  He'll get married and leave his momma behind.  It's rather heart breaking and exciting all at the same time.  I feel very blessed to be able to enjoy these special moments while he is still here!


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Wedding Video Highlights by Hello Tomorrow Wedding Films

We are right back to work at the greenhouses, busily getting our fuchsia's and geraniums planted as soon as they arrive at the loading dock door.  Cuttings are being misted.  Baskets are being planted.  Planters are being unloaded.  Catalogs are being printed.  Spring presentations are being finalized.  In short........we are back to normal here at Darvonda.

Junior, however has gone off on a Mexican cruise with his sweetheart, Cinderella.  I am being kept up to date on how things are going out on the Royal Caribbean cruise ship via blackberry.  Once in a while a picture or a message comes through, showing me how hot and sunny it is way down south where my darling children are on their honeymoon.

What would I do without my BLACKBERRY, people?!  Seriously, getting regular updates is something I treasure as much as.......

as much as.......

as much as this phenomenal VIDEO I just got from Hello Tomorrow Wedding Films.  They already have a 3 minute teaser video of the wedding for us to enjoy, can you believe it?!

ENJOY the show.....

erin + lawrence || the practice paid off from Hello Tomorrow on Vimeo.


Sunday, January 16, 2011

How To Plan a Stress Free Wedding - Get Lots of Volunteers!

It's all over folks!  The kids are hitched.  Junior and Cinderella tied the knot.  The party is over.

Not for them.  Just for me.  What am I gonna do with my life now that the wedding has come and gone?!  They got to go on an exciting honeymoon in Mexico and I get to sit here with my feet soaking in a tub of hot water wondering what's next?!

These past two weeks have been a flurry of frenzied activity, what with building an 8,000 square foot tent inside the greenhouse.....

 and building two FABULOUS chandeliers out of a little plywood....

a few hooks......

and a hundred or so strands of glass beads.

It was a beehive of activity, everyone working in tandem toward the same goal.

Friends and family stopped by to check on our progress and we immediately put them to work doing SOMETHING!

Mother of the Bride working her fingers to the bone!

Not even the GROOM was immune to being put to work on projects for his own wedding.

The Big Guy was in charge of all things electrical....

and upon a close inspection by all parties involved, it was decided that his work would get a passing grade!

I just love the way these very simple frames made from crown molding and a couple of staples just perfectly highlight the beautiful planters we positioned directly in front and just below the lighting.

Here they are in the daylight.....

and here they are at night.

Early on in the planning process, Junior and Cinderella decided that they wanted to have a black and red themed COCKTAIL LOUNGE that had a little bit of an Asian feel......

and a black and white themed DINING ROOM where we would sit for our sumptuous 3 course meal.

I have to hand it to the kids.  They had a great VISION.  The whole thing just looked like a fairy tale come to life once all the details were in place.

And as you all know, DETAIL is my middle name.  There were 200 linen napkins that needed to be folded just the right way.....

Glass vases to be washed.....

Planters to be planted exactly according to a pre-determined recipe.  My sister-in-law Fifi designs the most beautiful planters you could ever imagine on a daily basis.  Good thing the Retail Garden Center is closed till the spring so that she could make some amazing pots for us!

The work was endless.  It went on and on for days. 

The piano had to be moved from my house to the greenhouse....

Commercial ovens had to be brought in for our favorite Chef and chief Logistics guy at Darvonda, Gary.....

and all the while I was coordinating the pick up and deliveries of all sorts of necessary items on my super duper, never to be misplaced blackberry.

I think I should have a blackberry implanted into my head some day since it is a vital tool for me which, unfortunately, is just so darn easy to lose when you have a lot on your mind.  Has anyone heard yet if Microsoft is working on something like that?  I will be the first one in line when those things come on the market.

The day prior to the wedding was the busiest by far.  My most favorite florist trio in the world, Phil, Sharon and Shelly, worked feverishly on all the flower arrangements.....

incorporating a super cool black feathery, grassy type thing I bought on my last trip to China.

In the end, the flowers were just STUNNING!  We had so much fun watching them all come together in under 12 hours.  You guys ROCKED IT OUT!

Meanwhile, in the kitchen, some volunteers were coralled to help make bite sized meatball appetizers.....

while others were given the task of tasting each dish to ensure that everything would be just perfect for the bride and groom.

Father of the Groom and Father of the Bride taste testing
But even still, the work was not yet done.  Oh NO WAY!  No one was left out when it came to volunteerism.  Late Thursday night and into the wee hours of Friday morning, everyone pitched in to fold programs.....

and make little cucumber Bride and Groom party favors.

My Little Angel designed this cute little pair.....

for everyone to take home and enjoy at a later date. 

Note:  Upon the commencement of clean up today, I did notice that quite a few of the cucumber couples were poorly treated last night and met a very grizzly end due to decapitation and a myriad of other gruesome tortures.  It was a gory sight to see.  You CUCUMBER MURDERERS!  You know who you are.  You better watch out the next time you go to the fridge for you Long English veggie snack.  You never know when they will take revenge for the death's of their fallen comrades.

Finally the BIG DAY arrived.  I hate to admit it but I barely took any pictures.  Seriously, I was just enjoying myself so much that it completely slipped my mind to snap pictures.  Fortunately for me, Ashley and Dane from Dragonfly Photograpy were on the job to catch all those special moments in a far more professional manner than I could ever achieve.  So now, I hereby leave you with a sneak peak of the wonderful pictures they took which tell the story so much better than any words I could have written.

We feel so truly blessed to have you two as our children!  May the Lord guide and keep you as you journey on in faith together in His service.

But.....once in a while, we mother's still wish you would have stayed little forever, right Ailleen?!

(video produced and edited by Mini Me - Music by Jon Schmidt)