DSCF0194.JPGIt’s December 1st, which means it’s the first day of Advent! Growing up, both Ed and I have fond memories of our Advent Calendars. We had several different kinds, but we always looked forward to that part of the day. Megan now has the one that was in the Furry household growing up and now Ed’s Dad is making them again! He’s taking special orders and has a few of them already to go now…so place your order now to have one for this season. They are $150 plus shipping. Please contact us at info@alwayshappylife.com if you would like to purchase one.

Here are a few more close-up photos to give you an idea of how great they are!

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Or…that’s what I like to tell myself.

whoopie pies 005Growing up during the summer at our cottage, the Mennonite family that lived down the road from us sold fresh baked goods on Fridays. We always stopped to buy fresh bread which was absolutely wonderful and Whoopie Pies. If you have never had a Whoopie PIe, you are truly missing out on one of the best things on the planet. Trust me.

Several years ago, when I worked on the Pediatric Intermediate Care Unit, I took care of the child from a Mennonite family very closely. I talked with the grandmother of that little boy one afternoon and commented that I bet the little guy would like a Whoopie Pie. She smiled at me and we started talking about my infatuation for them (and hers too it turns out). The next day, she brought me the family recipe handwritten on a small sheet of paper. There is nothing like the real deal…and I have tried various other kinds (as in whenever I see them…must try them) but nothing comes close to the ones from the cottage…except this recipe.

Cookies:

1 1/2 C Shortening
3 Eggs
3 tsp vanilla
6 C Flour
3 tsp soda
3 C Sugar
1 1/2 C Sour Milk
1 1/2 C Cocoa
3 tsp Salt
1 1/2 C Hot Water

Cream shortening and sugar. Add eggs and beat well. Add sour milk, vanilla, flour, cocoa and salt. Dissolve sodin in hot water and add to mixture. Drop by tablespoon onto greased basking sheet. Bake at 400° just until done.

Frosting: (Marshmallow fluff can be used instead)

3 Egg Whites
3 tsp Vanilla
6 Tbs. Milk
3 C 10X Sugar (aka powdered sugar)
1 1/2 C Shortening

Beat egg whites until stiff. Add vanilla, milk and 10X sugar. Add shortening and beat well.

When cool, put two cookies together with frosting.

They freeze really well too…just wrap them individually in plastic wrap.

I have a recipe for pumpkin whoopie pies from the family too…yum…yum…yum!

Thanks to Laurie from Welcome to the Mad House for sharing these pictures of her Red Velvet Whoopie Pies. It doesn’t look like little Gavin liked them very much though!?! 😉


We have a tiny garage…so tiny that neither of our vehicles will fit in it. Now, mind you, I have a Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ed has a monster truck…an F250 Diesel that is lifted. Mine might fit, but I probably couldn’t get out of it and Ed’s definitely isn’t going to even be close. That’s why we have barns…to house boats and our trucks. We’re set there (we have a total of four barns)!

So…what do we do with the garage? We definitely could use some functional project space around here. There’s no good place to spread out a project and leave it. I personally have an issue with clutter and having stuff everywhere. It needs a place. So, we decided to tackle the garage and make it a project/storage/workout room. Sounds functional, right? While I was away a few weeks ago, Ed took everything…and I mean everything…out of the garage. So, when I arrived home, the porch and living room were packed full of “garage stuff”. Ugh. Then we left and were out of town for a few weeks and guess what? The garage re-do fairy did not magically come by while we were gone and the “garage stuff” was still where we left it.

DSC_0001Since we were home last week, we made a conscious effort to tackle it. We filled the cracks in the concrete and skim coat the floor to prep it for an epoxy paint sealant (which Ed bought a few weeks ago during the garage clean out…he was being ambitious). We prepped the garage after the new concrete layer dried by etching it with citric acid and thoroughly washing the floor a few times. It took a few days to dry with the space heater and dehumidifier going non-stop and we were finally ready to paint. It’s definitely a huge improvement over the plain old, yucky concrete floor we had before. Light gray with blue, white and black flecks in it.

Next up was insulating the walls. We had some brand new insulation from the back porch project and another big bundle of a different kind that didn’t have a back on it, so I started measuring, cutting and tacking it up. We even had some old insulation that I reused out there. After using what we had, we really didn’t need too much more.

So, off to Lowe’s, our favorite store with a mere $200 cover charge (when we are lucky). We stocked up on another two rolls of insulation (one is getting returned…yipee!!), wood for the walls, electrical boxes, vapor barrier (must be 4 mil to be adequate) and a few other miscellaneous items that somehow wandered into our cart.

Back from our adventure to Lowe’s (since it’s 30 minutes away from us…we do live in the country, so any trip to the “big city” is an adventure) Ed installed the electrical outlets and I tackled the vapor barrier. Now we just need to get walls up and paint…but we’ve made huge progress pretty quickly. We’ll have some final photos to show you when it’s all finished and looking “functional”!

Have you done any garage redo projects? Any tips as we work on finishing it up?


Photo Credit: Bill Furry
Last weekend we headed up to Northern Michigan for the Iceman Cometh Mountain Bike Race. It was truly a family affair, since Ed’s brother Greg somehow managed to persuade us to join his entire family and then we all conned Ed’s parents into coming with us for support. Did I mention it was freezing? Frigid actually. As in snowing!!! I suppose they do call it the Iceman for a reason…

Anyways, we had a great time and aside from the fact that I acquired a cold earlier in the week…which for me means my asthma kicks into high gear and made riding my bike harder than it should be…I had fun. Hard to believe, but I would even consider doing it again. Everyone did a great job in the races (including the nephews, who competed in the 8-mile Slush Cup) and we were extremely grateful to have Ed’s parents with us. Hopefully they enjoyed it too and had fun celebrating Ed’s Dad’s birthday with the whole crew.

Greg did a great job summing up our weekend adventure, so I’ll point you toward his blog at Transparent Agenda for the details.

Greg finishingGreg Finishing~~~Photo Credit: Bill Furry
*****

This weekend my family and I competed in the Iceman Cometh Challenge. The Iceman Cometh Challenge is a 27 mile point-to-point mountain bike race from Kalkaska to Traverse City, Michigan. Depending on your perspective that sounds really hard or pretty easy. It was somewhere in between. Riding a bike 27 miles is really not that hard unless you have less than ideal conditions e.g. big wind, rain or snow. It might be hard if you never ride a bike but it is not hard for someone that rides or exercises a lot even if they are not an experienced rider. The course was not too technical for an experienced rider at high speed and my wife didn’t seem to mind it and usually she is fairly cautious. Read More


So you hear a lot from me…but it would be great to hear back from you, the readers. I love comments (hint, hint) and read every one. Ed and I get excited whenever we get an email with a “You have a new comment” subject…really…we do. It’s the small things that make life so much better.

So, tell us what makes you happy in life? What websites do you go to that make you smile? What do you see or do that is wonderful every time? Makes you laugh again and again? Run with it…

Lately, I’ve been loving snuggling in bed under fluffy covers, late into the morning (8am is late right?) with my favorite guy and our kitty, Noisy. None of us are quick to jump out of bed on these cooler mornings to start the day. It’s my favorite time of the day…and I am so not a morning person! It makes me wake up with a smile though and start the day right. And, after all, today is Friday! That has to make you smile just because…right?

Noisy Sleeping in


John Dear of Coopie, IncWe were really excited to be involved with this year’s Buddy Walk 2010 in Charlotte, North Carolina and from everything we’ve heard, it was a huge success. We started out supporting Chaser’s Racers, but through Laurie’s connections, we became involved with several teams and helped them create some adorable team shirts to wear for the walk (and around the house, to school, play, etc)!

Here’s a little recap and some pics from Laurie of Chaser’s Racers and Welcome to the Mad House about why the Buddy Walk is so important. We are happy to have Chase as our buddy!

******Did you know that October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month? Most of the Down syndrome organizations choose to hold their annual Buddy Walks this month because of it. The Buddy Walk is the child of the National Down Syndrome Society (www.NDSS.org), and was created in 1995 to bring awareness and acceptance of people with Down syndrome. It is also most organizations’ main means of raising money for their local programs.

Down syndrome didn’t mean a whole lot to me until April 23, 2007. Well, actually 5 days after that when it was confirmed that my new baby boy, Chase, had it. Because we had such a limited knowledge of what Down syndrome meant, my husband and I were completely crushed. We mourned the loss of the child we thought we were supposed to have…and worried about what the future would bring with this new twist.

John Dear of Coopie, IncI’m happy to say that we didn’t stay in that dark place for very long. We didn’t have time to…! Chase (and his 47 chromosomes) was our BOY…my child…and has a face and a personality that you can’t help but love. And it is with that love that we give him every possible chance at life to succeed- through early intervention therapies, through new medical knowledge, through inclusion of every form. Chase will be successful, independent, and lead a fulfilling life…because he is loved and accepted.

My mission now is to show that off to everyone else. Because I can’t imagine life without my little spitfire, and it pains me- actually physically pains me that over 90% of mothers receiving a prenatal diagnosis of Ds choose to terminate their baby. NINETY PERCENT. Also over 90% of the funding for research through the National Health Institute is delegated to prenatal testing. How morbid is THAT? It is assumed that the ‘cure’ for children like Chase is to never let them be born. Unbelievable.

They have it totally wrong, though. The cure is acceptance and understanding. The cure is opportunities, high expectations, and research money siphoned into isolating the genes that are responsible for the cognitive delay (of which there is HUGE progress on…see www.dstrf.org for more information and how you can donate to their research).

And THAT is why we walk for Chase, and for all our little friends with Trisomy 21. We walk for awareness of the possibilities and the blessings that Chase brings to us, and we want to share them with the world.

A BIG thanks to Always Happy Life, who sponsored our team, Chaser’s Racers, and provided us with awesome team shirts to wear to the walk. We know Becky and Ed couldn’t be there with us in body, but they were there in spirit!

They missed a fantastic event, filled with bounce houses, ice cream, face painting, and happy, sweaty kids. Everyone was exhausted at the end of the day, in that good I-can’t-fit-any-more-fun-into-my-tired-body kind of feeling. The DSAC raised over $140,000 (double last year’s total!) and we hosted 1,800 people at Freedom Park in Charlotte, NC. 1,800 people who will never be the same, because they know someone like my Chase.

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I had the chance to do a quick session with one of my best friends, Emily and her little Luke earlier this week. Luke has the best little pout and one of the cutest smiles around. Can’t wait to head back to Annapolis in the next few weeks to do a family session with Emily, Chris and little Luke!

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How cute are R & P?!? Love their sweet little faces! They absolutely adore each other!!!

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Ed and I had a great time Trick-or-Treating with friends and their families in Annapolis on Sunday. I’m not sure if the kids or the adults had more fun! Thanks Emily & Jay for hosting the festivities. The kids were absolutely adorable. 🙂

DSC_0059Here are some of my favorite shots from a night of hanging out with Spiderman, a Storm Trooper, Woody from Toy Story and his sidekick Bullseye, the Little Mermaid and an adorable little ballerina. The full gallery can be found here.

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Remember this cute little guy?

DSC_0123Well…he’s six months old already and adorable as ever!!! Here’s a sneak peak from his last photo shoot. 🙂

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I’m definitely enjoying doing these photo shoots…would love to add some more babies, kids and families to the group! Feel free to contact me at Becky@AlwaysHappyLife.com if you are interested in a session or have any questions. Since I’m always traveling for Sail22 and I’m usually shooting regattas, it’s nice to do some other sessions as well during events or in between.