Second Half of Summer Vacation 2018

It was 13 days ago that I announced the start of vacation season for our family. We were hours away from a cross country flight that would kickoff an exciting second half of July. Well, nearly two weeks later, the fun isn’t over yet.

Today, we will travel to Lake Keowee for some fun in the sun with Sidney’s family. Nestled next to Clemson University, it will be my first time visiting this particular lake. Word on the street is that Lake Keowee, a South Carolina man-made reservoir, is a great spot. Our group, 12 people strong (including babies), will be staying in a house that we have rented out.

We will travel to Lake Keowee today.

Call me crazy, but I feel I could use another vacation! Although our time in Spokane was better than we could have imagined, it has been an extremely busy time since we returned to the East Coast as I have scrambled to catch up with work as well as plan ahead for it as well.

We will hit the road in a couple hours. The plan is to enjoy several days at this little slice of paradise before returning to Myrtle Beach on Thursday. If the time at the lake is anything close to our experience out west, we are in for a treat! I am excited to spend time with Sid’s family.

Last year, we went to Hilton Head for Sidney’s family’s summer vacation.

I hope everyone has a great week! My blogging vacation will continue as we enjoy this latest summer excursion. Don’t worry, I will return to a regular Don’t Blink schedule in early August. Until then, happy birthday to my mom and my nephew, Harrison, who will both celebrate birthdays on Thursday. Don’t Blink.

A Special Time in Spokane

I would be lying if I said it was easy leaving Spokane. Truthfully, we didn’t want to leave. But all good things must come to an end. Before I recap our trip by mentioning a highlight from each day we spent in my childhood hometown, I want to mention the absolute best part of the trip:

The bonding.

Throughout the eight days, our growing family continued to come closer together. My brother and sister already have a special and supportive relationship with Sidney, one that will make most envious. But the brother-in-law/sister-in-law connection strengthened even more over the week.

Sidney has a strong relationship with both my sister and my brother.

Then you had the extremely special friendship that developed between Sloan and her cousins. You would think that a meaningful relationship between a 1-year-old and her cousins she only sees twice a year, a 3-year-old and another 1-year-old, would be very elementary or non-existent. Not the case. The kids grew to really love each other, so much so that Sloan would reach over to Mikayla to give her a hug and walk over to Johnny and kiss him on the cheek. It was so cute but also so genuine.

There is definitely a love between Sloan and her cousins.

Sidney and I had the pleasure of meeting Glen’s girlfriend, Carrie. We were so impressed with her as we all had the opportunity to spend a lot of time together. My brother has definitely found himself a great girl.

It was a pleasure to meet Carrie.

Last but not least, my wife and mom developed additional chemistry as well. Sid would go alone with my mom to run errands and they had several in-depth conversations that centered on a lot of topics, including me!

Sid and my mom had many opportunities to spend time together while we were in Spokane.

It was nice to see our family get along so well. But enough with the mushy stuff, let’s get to the highlights of the trip from the eight full days we were in Spokane!

Tuesday, July 17: Nephew’s Birthday Party – We were present when Johnny was born a year ago and we were fortunate to be in town for his first birthday. My sister held the party in a shaded part of her lawn on Tuesday evening. All of my parents’ children and grandchildren were present and I had the pleasure of meeting Carrie for the first time. Of course, the star of the show was Johnny. After we ate dinner he “smashed” his blue cupcake and then we moved inside to open presents.

I felt fortunate that I was able to attend Johnny’s first birthday party.

Wednesday, July 18: Swimming at Northside Aquatics Family Facility – We didn’t pack our swimsuits for nothing! On Wednesday morning, Sid, Sloan, and I went to nearby Colbert, WA, to enjoy one of Spokane County’s public swimming pools. A modern spin on a public swim center, we enjoyed the different water stations and laid back atmosphere of the Northside Aquatics Family Facility. It was a refreshing start to the day!

It was a refreshing time at the Northside Aquatics Facility in Spokane

Thursday, July 19: Visit to the Mobius Children’s Museum – This was a treat. The three of us went with my sister, Miranda, and her 3-year-old daughter, Mikayla, to downtown Spokane for an educational and fun experience. We visited the Mobius Children’s Museum, an interactive center where kids can play and experiment with different hands-on exhibits. Sloan and Mikayla blew bubbles, learned about electricity, built structures, played at the water table, and so much more. Afterwards, the girls rode the famous Riverfront Park Looff Carousel.

We had a lot of fun at the Mobius Children’s Museum.

Friday, July 20: Putt Putt with Glen and Carrie – Although Spokane can’t hold a candle to the putt putt courses in Myrtle Beach, it sure is enjoyable golfing 18 holes in zero humidity. Sid and I went to Wonderland Family Fun Center with my brother, Glen, and his girlfriend, Carrie, for some friendly competition. Before we hit the course, we sipped a drink on the patio as we enjoyed engaging conversation. Congratulations to Sidney for pulling off the upset and coming out as the big winner.

Enjoying our best lives playing putt putt at Wonderland Family Fun Center.

Saturday, July 21: Reser Family Cookout – My parents hosted an extended family get-together on Saturday. My aunts and cousins from my dad’s side traveled from Walla Walla to join us in my parents’ backyard for an evening of good food, cold drinks, and summer fun. It was so nice to see everyone and show off Sloan. With the weather perfect, the music playing, and the laughter abundant, it was a thrilling atmosphere.

A photo of all us “kids” (minus the aunts and my mom/dad) at the cookout.

Sunday, July 22: Mass at St. Thomas More – Every time I return to Spokane, I look forward to attending mass at the parish I grew up in. We worshipped at the 7 p.m. Sunday evening service with Fr. Pat Kearst officiating. My parents, Glen, Sid, Sloan, and I all sat in the same pew as the gospel was about Jesus having pity on the large crowds of people who crowded the shore to see him when he was out on a boat with his disciples. It was a perfect time to reflect and thank God for the great trip we were enjoying.

I always looks forward to attending my childhood parish of St. Thomas More.

Monday, July 23: Going on a Walk – Pacific Northwest evenings during the summer are the best. The temperature drops but the daylight lingers. This past Monday night, we went on a family walk through my parents’ neighborhood. We had so much fun taking turns pushing Sloan and reminiscing about who used to live in the various houses that we passed. It was special to walk side-by-side with family members I don’t get to see nearly enough.

We took a nice walk through the Camelot neighborhood on Monday night.

Tuesday, July 24: Family Dinner at The Onion – We concluded our last full day in Spokane with a very nice family meal at The Onion location in the north part of the city. As we sat around the table I took to heart how much I loved everyone and how lucky I am to have such a great family, even if I do live far away from them. The engaging conversation and endless laughter that was evident throughout the week was present once more in the restaurant.

Our table at The Onion on Tuesday night. It was a very nice meal.

Of course mentioning only one highlight per day leaves a lot out. I didn’t even mention morning coffee outings, shopping adventures, nightly ice cream treats, a trip to a hole-in-a-wall bakery, a Costco grand opening event, blowing bubbles in the front lawn, Jeopardy viewings, swimming at the house next door, donut runs, and so much more.

We had such a memorable time in Spokane.

But, in the end, it didn’t really even matter if we did a million things or not. Like I mentioned at the start of the post, the big takeaway from our time in Spokane was the love that was felt during the entire trip. Sidney, Sloan, and I might not be on the West Coast anymore, but we still feel the special bonds that were built and solidified. Don’t Blink.

Kicking Off Vacation Season With a Trip to Spokane

This year, the month of July is cut into two distinct halves for our family. The first half, which just concluded, was a couple weeks of summertime bliss right here in Myrtle Beach. We celebrated the Fourth of July, made several trips to the pool, ate lots of ice cream, and enjoyed some of the most carefree days of the year. It was all about taking it easy right here at home.

We enjoyed a relaxing and fun first couple weeks of July right here in Myrtle Beach.

But, with the first day of the second half of July now upon us, things are about to change. Get ready to do some traveling because It’s vacation season!

We are off to Spokane. If you have read this blog over the past few years, you know the drill. We will drive to Charleston to catch an Alaska Airlines flight that will take us all the way to Seattle. We will then do the famous one hour “backtrack” to Spokane. We will land in my hometown at 11 p.m. with my parents waiting eagerly at the airport to see their precious granddaughter and to take us back to their house for eight days of family fun.

We are off to Spokane!

Our timing couldn’t be more perfect. My nephew turns 1 tomorrow and we will be able to attend his big birthday bash. On Saturday night, my dad’s family will be in town for a backyard BBQ (out west that means a hot dog and hamburger cookout). We will also get the chance to meet my brother’s girlfriend for the first time. And, you can bet that throughout the week we will visit some of our favorite restaurants and bars.

Nothing too wild or crazy this time around, something we are certainly not disappointed about. We are just so thankful to visit Spokane and see the people who give our little family so much support and encouragement throughout the entire year. Group texting and Snapchat are both great ways we all keep in touch, but nothing beats being physically in the presence of each other. We can’t wait.

A vacation with Sidney’s family will come later this month. More details on that later but we got to hit the road now. To all my Spokane friends and readers – feel free to reach out. It always makes me happy when I get to visit with people I have not seen in a long time. Please know that for the next two weeks it is just not me going on vacation – the blog is too. I will try to write a few times over the course of the rest of the month but no promises. Please pray for our safe travels. Don’t Blink.

Pecan Thursday Rundown

We had a couple days of beautiful, humidity-free days here in Myrtle Beach. But the typical South Carolina summer weather has returned. Before I melt, let me get started with the Thursday Rundown…

Meeting a Star – Today I had the opportunity to meet Nikko Austen Smith, a cast member on the OWN television show “Queen Sugar.” How did such a thing happen? Well, Nikko is actually a CCU alumna. In fact, she just graduated in May! She auditioned for the show right before commencement and got the role. She returned to campus today to give an interview about all the exciting developments in her life (as always, Robin Russell did a spectacular job). She was gracious enough to grant me time to take photos and video of her for future social media content. Nikko is an individual with a BIG personality and no ego. It was a pleasure to meet her.

Nikki Austen Smith and I this morning (I did not mean to focus the photo on me…I feel like a jerk!).

Subway Drive Thru – Depending on where you live in the country, you might have Subway restaurants with drive thrus. Here in South Carolina, it is very common. As we can all guess, ordering a hamburger at a drive thru is much different than ordering a sub sandwich. A lot more can go wrong when you are ordering different types of breads, cheeses, veggies, and sauces. Because of this, I usually just go inside at Subway and order at the counter. Last Saturday, with Sloan comfortably in her car seat, we decided to use the drive thru. Although the sandwich artist only made one error on my sandwich (I didn’t want it toasted) it was the wait that made me wish we had went inside. With only a couple cars in front of us, it took about 15 minutes for us two get our two subs.

A photo I took at the Subway drive thru last Saturday.

A Resemblance? – On Sunday, I sent a photo to our very active Reser Pride 5.0 text messaging thread (it includes my immediate family and our significant others) of Sid, Sloan, and me at the bowling alley. It took just a second for my brother to respond with “Brent! Sloan looks just like you in that photo.” You be the judge. Here is a comparison that includes the photo that I sent to our text group and a couple photos of me when I was young.

Do you see a resemblance? The photo in the top corner is just a zoomed in photo of Sloan from the family photo. The two other small photos are of me.

Flying with Baby – A year ago on this date, Sloan flew on an airplane for the first time. We stressed ourselves out over how she would do on a cross country flight but she ended up doing great. If you are flying with a child for the first time, just make sure to relax and don’t care what other people think. For the most part, passengers will be understanding. Next week, Sloan will embark on her third plane trip. Traveling with a 16-month-old is different than traveling with a 4-month-old or a 9-month-old (Sloan’s ages on her other two trips) but we know she, and us, will survive.

Sidney and Sloan on the plane exactly one year ago today.

National Pecan Pie Day – Today we recognize one of the best desserts there is in this world. Treating yourself to a warm slice of pecan pie every now and then, especially on National Pecan Pie Day, is always okay. BUT, let me just reiterate that my Southern friends have it correct when it comes to the pronunciation of pecan – it is PEE-can, not PEE-con. Come on everyone, you pronounce it phonetically. Okay, enough with my lecture, go enjoy some dessert.


Things are getting very, very busy for our family. Hope everyone else is in a good spot right now. Thanks for taking time to read my blog and I wish you a wonderful summer weekend. Don’t Blink.

A Quirky and Fun Instagram Food Account

I usually don’t write a whole blog post to promote a random Instagram account but tonight is an exception.

When I posted about Blueberry Pancake Crunch, I followed the hashtag (#BlueberryPancakeCapnCrunch) and came across @mnmtwinz, an account shared by two dudes named Marcus and Matthew who happen to be identical twins. Don’t worry, they aren’t posting selfies or dog photos – they are posting food.

This is the post that made me aware of the @mnmtwinz Instagram account.

It is no secret that I enjoy a good food social media account. However, @mnmtwinz might be my favorite. Why? Because what they do is so unique.

The @mnmtwinz account is wacky and fun. They post photos of product offshoots and unlikely combinations.

If you browse @mnmtwinz, you will quickly discover the account’s concept. Marcus and Matthew (it sounds like I know them, but I don’t) review snack foods and fast food. However, there is much more to it than that.

Who else would review Reptar bars and Reptar cereal?

Most of the snacks and fast food items they review are offshoots from popular products. For example, they recently reviewed the new Oreo flavors – kettle corn, cherry cola, and pina colada. They also did new M&M varieties – raspberry, mint, and espresso. Another time they did the numerous varieties of Brisk iced tea.

The @mnmtwinz account will review the obscure offshoot offerings of big time products.

Aside from the varieties of one snack, another direction the account will take is pairing various foods together. Usually the combinations are quirky and fun. For example, one recent image had Fanta, a rare type of Doritos, a chocolate fudge sundae Kit Kat bar, and homemade cheeseburgers. Another one had Arizona Half & Half, a Japanese variety of Cheetos, chicken sandwiches, and the new Reese’s Outrageously Stuffed Reese’s Pieces candy bar. Of course, the portions are always made for two.

The combinations might seem a little odd but there is usually always a theme.

The photography puts the focus on the products that are featured. Snacks are usually pictured both in and out of the package. Sometimes they have to squeeze a lot in a single image but the food is always laid out masterfully. The backdrop is usually mundane (purposefully) to spotlight the food.

The photos are usually taken against a black backdrop on a grayish floor. Gotta love seeing Jolt in a can!

Although Instagram is mostly about photos, the twins don’t slack on the text. You will immediately find out that they are very skilled reviewers. They describe the tastes and compositions of the products in amazing detail. They also format their captions in a clear and readable manner.

These guys are just too passionate and too creative!

If you like junk food and you are active on Instagram, you need to follow @mnmtwinz. They do an absolutely incredible job. Don’t Blink.

Animal Tales

Although I might not be crazy about animals, I always enjoy a good story or two about them. Inspired by today’s newspaper and a squirmish situation yesterday, I have a few quick tales to comment on.

Snakes in Church – I read a fascinating article this morning about where preachers go to get snakes for their church services. Say what? At fundamentalist churches in the Southeast, it is not uncommon for preachers to handle snakes during their services. To them, it shows their faith. Anyway, the article revealed that many of these ministers come here to South Carolina to purchase their rattlesnakes, cottonmouths, and copperheads because our state does not limit the sale of venomous snakes. The story did a great job at telling the history and scope of this practice, but it focused specifically on one minister who actually died in 2014 from a snake bite when a serpent he purchased in South Carolina turned on him.

Talk about guts (and faith). These preachers aren’t just delivering their sermons while clutching deadly snakes. They are dancing and singing with them too. Pointing to a bible verse that says they shall take up serpents, there is a literal reason for why they are doing this. I don’t think I could ever get myself to handle something that could kill me in an instant (let alone be in the same worship space as someone who could), but perhaps that is an indictment on my own faith. 

This photo is of Jamie Coots, the man who died preaching while holding a snake (photo courtesy of The State).

Turtle Farm – I read another really interesting South Carolina-focused animal story this morning. It just so happens that our state has a highly secure turtle farm! Well, it is technically a hidden nature preserve and it houses some of the world’s rarest turtles. The Turtle Survival Center is located east of Charleston but don’t think for a moment you will get an address. The exact location of the place is unavailable to the public for fear of thieves. Turtles at this place, more than 700 of them, are highly coveted around the world, with many of them worth $10,000. If people knew where to find the preserve, it would be a haven for criminals looking to steal and sell the creatures on the black market.

The Turtle Survival Center exists to reverse the trend of declining turtle populations. The turtle trade has done great damage and now the center has to do all it can to save numerous species, many of which now only exist on the premises. I think it is fascinating that the most exotic turtles from all around the globe are basically under one roof just a couple hours away from me. However, I also find it sad that the turtle population is in such danger.

One of the many turtles at the South Carolina preserve.

Heebie-Jeebies – I can do rats, spiders, and – as long as I am not holding them – snakes. But for whatever reason, I can’t do bugs. My skin crawls just thinking about them. Unfortunately for me, South Carolina is not only a breeding ground for cockroaches but it is home to a bug that puts the former to shame– the Palmetto bug. If you think of a cockroach on steroids with wings, then you can picture a Palmetto bug. They are all over the state and they find their way into everything.

Yesterday afternoon, I was finishing up in my office. Out of the corner of my eye I saw something brown inching its way up my wall. I looked to my right and frantically jumped out of my chair as a massive Palmetto bug was crawling on one of my frames. As I escaped, the bug fell from my wall onto my papers. I watched it quickly scatter away. Pathetic how a bug can traumatize a grown man, right? I was on edge for the final 15 minutes I was in the office. As I was about to leave, I saw the thing crawling on the floor. I was thankfully able to end my paranoia as I killed it (wait, was it the same one?). As a co-worker told me, seeing a Palmetto bug indoors has nothing to do with the cleanliness of an area nor does it mean there is an infestation. It is just a fact of living in this part of the country.


On that note, I am going to stop talking about animals, especially creepy crawlers. Thanks for reading my nature-related blog post and remember to do what you can to save the turtles. Don’t Blink.

Bowling Choices

As a young teenager, I fondly remember going with my friends to the bowling alley. We would go during the middle of the day in summer when games and shoe rentals were just $1 each. We would play four or five games and have an absolute ball, spending the entire afternoon at the alley.

I grew older and my fondness for bowling deteriorated. I no longer jump at the chance to throw a 12 pound ball down a greased up, narrow lane. I rather attend a ballgame, play putt putt, or hit a bar before going bowling. However, every now and then I do get an itch to bowl. Even the times I don’t feel up to it but go anyway, I usually walk out of the alley thinking I am glad I did that.

One thing is for sure: bowling has evolved.
One thing is also for sure: bowling has not evolved.

Your bowling experience will center on where you go to do it. There really is no right or wrong answer on where you go – it just depends on your mood (and what is available). Judging on my bowling escapades over the past few years, you can choose from one of the four options…

Trendy Game Center – Yesterday, we took Sloan bowling for the first time. We went to 810 Billiards and Bowling, a brand new entertainment center that opened in a former grocery store in Market Common. With a rustic but hip interior, the bowling balls are painted like billiards balls, brick covers the area above the pins, and you have to climb steps to enter the bowling area and descend down steps to bowl at your assigned lane. It feels like you are bowling inside a retro warehouse – a warehouse that has a cool bar, ping pong tables, and several billiards tables.

Why Go? If you want a “gourmet” bowling experience in a creative setting with plenty of other entertainment options.

We had a nice time at 810 last night.

In Da Club – When Sid and I spent a weekend in Charlotte, we went to a club. Wait, I mean we went bowling at a place that felt like a club. The space was intimate, the music blared, and the lights dazzled. Called StrikeCity, it actually is purposely designed as a bowling/club hybrid. Because the lanes are stacked so close together, human interaction with the people at the lane next to you is encouraged. Before we finished our first game, Sid and I were already pals with the couple next to us.

Why Go? You want to party! Get your drink on while mixing and mingling…just don’t forget to bowl when it is your turn.

Sidney bowling at StrikeCity in Charlotte.

Cosmic Fun – In the 1990s and 2000s, bigger and brighter bowling alleys were built around the country. These centers offered space and a modern appeal. They tried to attract both the hardcore bowler and the younger demographic. Bowling leagues would take place during the day and early evening but come night the lights would turn off and cheesy laser shows would excite people who wanted to “bowl in the dark.” This type of alley was what I grew up going to during my teenage years that I mentioned above. When Sid and I visit Spokane, we sometimes bowl at a place that meets this characterization with my brother.

Why Go? You want to take your family out for a night of good, clean fun.

This is me at Lilac Lanes in Spokane, one of the alleys built in the 1990s.

Classic Alley – You can identify one of these places even before you walk inside. As you approach the door, you can smell it. The scent of feet, sweat, and cleaner product will overwhelm you. Once you walk in, you will actually see it. A complete blast from the past, bowling alleys that have been around for three or four decades lack amenities but pack nostalgia. Dark and simple, these places have chipped balls, fading pins, and archaic scoring monitors. Believe it or not, the new era in bowling has failed to completely wipe these older places out. In fact, Sid and I have bowled in at least two of these alleys since we have been married.

Why Go? You are an avid bowler and want a no frills place to pursue your hobby.

Sid and I at a classic bowling alley.


Pumped up to bowl? Not me. Since I went yesterday I am good for a couple months. But if you decide to hit the alley tonight, make sure to throw a strike for me. Don’t Blink.

America Thursday Rundown

Quick! What day is it?! If the Fourth of July holiday has you messed up, don’t feel bad! Because your trusty Don’t Blink blogger is just about to deliver his latest Thursday Rundown, you probably now have a good idea what day it is. Let’s get started…

Oscar Mayer Wienermobile – When I read in the newspaper that the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile was making a supermarket tour through Myrtle Beach, I knew we couldn’t miss it. The vehicle was in town at the end of last week and, lucky for me, CCU employees work only half days during the summer. So, that afternoon, Sid, Sloan, and I went to a Publix grocery store to visit the Wienermobile. It was quite exhilarating to see the iconic “hot dog on wheels” in person. We touched it and took photos with it. But the best part was what you can’t see in the photos. Off to the side of the Wienermobile was a food trailer giving away free Oscar Mayer hot dogs. Score!

On Friday, our family visited the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile.

Fourth of July Recap – We had a nice holiday! The three of us woke up early (when don’t we wake up early?) and ate breakfast at a diner right next to our house. We then hit up our neighborhood pool before it got too busy. Next we headed over to my sister-in-law’s neighborhood to watch a Fourth of July golf cart parade her family was participating in. We ate an all-American lunch (chicken sandwiches) and watched the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. A little bit later we went swimming for the second time that day. After taking an hour or so to rest at our house, we went out on the boat with my in-laws to watch fireworks from the water. We anchored at Barefoot Landing and had an enjoyable time hanging out before the show started. When we walked through our front door to call it a day, it was a little past 11 p.m. ‘Merica.

We had a nice Fourth of July. We ended the holiday on the Intracoastal Waterway watching the Barefoot Landing fireworks.

Eating Breakfast – Of course I couldn’t mention that we went to a diner to eat breakfast without giving more details. After all, I am the blogger who believes that everyone should go out to breakfast every now and then. We went to the Early Riser Diner, a neighborhood restaurant located in a small strip mall not far from our house. Sidney had a Belgian waffle and Sloan had pancakes. I too had pancakes but did you think I would get them plain? I ordered the sweet potato pecan hotcakes and they were delicious.

We had a delicious breakfast at the Early Riser Diner on the Fourth of July.

Leftover Fireworks – On Fourth of July Eve, Sidney let me put on a fireworks show for our niece and nephew. My display attracted a lot of neighbor kids as well! I had a great time setting them off but because of bed times, I didn’t get to blow up my entire arsenal. I have some heavy artillery still left over. I am talking mortars and other powerful aerial fireworks. With us arriving home late last night, I didn’t have the opportunity to light them off. My question is this: How do you dispose of fireworks? I don’t want them around the house. I would rather give them away but if no one wants them, I need advice on how to properly toss them. Thanks.

Want some free fireworks? I did not finish the contents of this big box that we purchased over the weekend.

Taking Back My Words – Okay, I have to come clean. Last week, I sounded a bit irriatated when I mentioned that a Mr. Softee ice cream truck was cruising our neighborhood at 10 p.m. Let me take those hostile words back and say this: Mr. Softee is welcome in our neighborhood at any time! On Saturday, Sid and I bought a cone from the Mr. Softee truck and it was the best soft serve I have had in a long time. It was so good that I tried to hunt him down for another cone after he had left our street (no luck). If you haven’t had the pleasure, make sure to try Mr. Softee sooner rather than later.

Sidney with the Mr. Softee ice cream cone we shared on Saturday.


For those who made this an extended Fourth of July weekend, I hope you are enjoying yourself. Thanks for reading my blog and God bless America. Don’t Blink.


On Friday night, Sid and I attended a surprise birthday party. When we left the celebration venue we thought dang, Sloan is with her grandparents, we might as well extend our date night just a bit. So, instead of going directly home, we headed to a favorite restaurant for a late dinner.

Not in a rush to eat because we had an unpredictable toddler and with both of us pretty hungry, we decided to order an appetizer. We decided on nachos and it was so worth it. The platter of crunchy, flaky chips topped with fresh cheddar cheese really hit the spot. Let’s just say that when we left the restaurant we weren’t talking about our entrees.

Fast forward 20 hours to us discussing what to eat for Saturday night dinner. After some thinking, Sidney came up with a genius idea that was inspired by last night’s experience: let’s make homemade nachos!

I said “YES” to Sidney’s suggestion and this is what she whipped together.

When she said that, I couldn’t help but remember my childhood. Growing up, our family would eat nachos on several Saturday nights each year. It was special because we would break the dinner time routine that my parents so rigidly set. Instead of sitting around the table eating our meal with no electronic or outside distractions, the rules were pulled back. We would head down to the basement, start a movie, and eat nachos.

I can visualize it right now. My mom would put a pan of chips covered in shredded cheese into the oven. While they baked, my parents would put the finishing touches on a platter that included refried beans, veggies, sour cream, and salsa. Once the nachos were done in the oven, my mom would take the pan out, the cheese bubbling on the chips, and place it on the kitchen table. We could grab however much we wanted and put them on a plate. We then went to the topping platter and added whatever we wanted on top. Once we had what we desired, we marched downstairs. It was a lot of fun!

With the good vibes flowing, I watched Sloan while Sid went to the grocery store to purchase ingredients. She returned and emptied an entire bag of tortilla chips onto a pan. She proceeded to top it with a package of shredded cheese, a tub of queso cheese, a pound of ground beef, and a pound of sausage. Keeping Sloan occupied meant I didn’t see the final product until Sid had placed it on the kitchen table and told me to look back.

We had enough nachos to feed an army.

A close up look at our nachos from Saturday night.

Digging in, I couldn’t believe how good they tasted. In fact, they were better than the nachos we had the night before. However, we still couldn’t even out a dent into them without our stomachs exploding. We still have leftovers in our fridge.

We gave it our best effort, but this is how much was left after our first round with the nachos on Saturday night.

So I know it took me forever to get to the main point of this blog post but here it is: Need a dinner idea? Make nachos! It is fun, easy, inexpensive, customizable, and a whole lot of other things. Add your own twist and add a little variety to your regular dinner lineup this week. Don’t Blink.

A Wedding Clipping to Save

It was almost as if I was reading a recap of the Royal Wedding…

This article was written about my grandparents’ wedding in 1942.

These days when you read the newspaper you might see a paragraph or two about a couple becoming engaged. Unless you are reading a tabloid, you very seldom see any article actually reporting on the intricacies of a wedding ceremony.

This wasn’t the case 76 years ago.

Over the weekend, a distant relative sent me the newspaper clippings of an article written about the wedding of my grandparents. In 1942, my mom’s parents got hitched at St. Francis of Assisi church in Walla Walla, WA. According to the town’s local newspaper, it was “one of the most beautiful weddings of the season.”

I read the article in amazement as the journalist went into thorough detail. Everything was recorded from what the wedding party wore to the gifts my grandma gave her bridesmaids to the amount of people who attended the reception. Information on the people who usually get overlooked at weddings, such as the ringbearer and the musicians, all received their due.

Besides the reporting, the writing itself was just a treat. The bride, a striking brunette, was lovely in her white velveray marquisette gown fashioned with shirred bodice with sweetheart neckline and long sleeves, full at the shoulder, and long train.

I mean come on. When Sid and I tied the knot, I think our local newspaper just carried a sentence on its website declaring that we were now legally married. Not even a quick mention that her gown was white.

Of course, I realize it was a different time back then. Without the internet or a 24-hour news cycle, media coverage was very localized. In a small town like Walla Walla, there was space in the newspaper to write a couple columns about the latest wedding.

Besides the exquisite detail and the glimpse at journalism during a different era, the article made my day because it was a record of the beginning of a very special marriage. My grandparents were married for over 60 years and their relationship bore so much fruit. Although I remember them in my heart as “grandparents,” it was neat to read the article and see them as a young adult couple just starting their lives together.

A newspaper clipping from the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin announcing my grandparents’ 60th anniversary.

What a joy it was to read. It was truly a blessed day when my grandparents stood before the “altar lovely with whit chrysanthemums and ferns and palms” and said I do. Don’t Blink.