September 29, 2015

Winter Engagement Photos: Stacy Osterman Photography

Holy Crappoli is this blog way overdue!  My dear friend and fellow adventurer, Stacy Osterman, is an incredible photographer.  She used to live in Seattle and recently moved back to Los Angeles.  This would make me very sad except that now I get to visit her everytime I go back to LA! The way she lives, she could have moved to Northern Africa or something.  So, I'll take it!  ;)
Before she moved back to LA, she visited and said she wanted to take engagement photos for us.  Um, helloooo!  YEAH!  So one morning during her stay, we all woke up lazily, drenched ourselves in gluten free scones (Her choice, certainly not mine! Ha!) and good conversation and we took to the snowy streets.  I hadn't brushed my hair and any make-up was remnants from the Monday night trivia three weeks prior.  It was just that kind of delicious morning.
We just walked...

And this is what she captured... :)

This is one of my favorites.  I look like a baby. 

This is another favorite...  :)

That's my honey!!! 

This is the one we used for our STD's...
(Heh heh heh... SAVE THE DATES people). 
((Though we don't judge.))

And this was my other favorite we almost used! 
Oh, Small Dog!!!

Our 'full of beans' Sadie-kins... :)

Playing 'stick' with Sadie and Lliam.
Sadie's faster.  ;)

We also used this on our STD's.
The rash went away but Lliam's still around!


I loved this picture.
I am such a hobbit!!!

I cannot wait for winter!!!
I will NEVER tire of those snow capped mountains!

Hobbit lovin'.

I love this picture, too.  My hair was definitely having a 'candid' day but I think it captures the happy mountain girl in her black puffy and red scarf from my other dear friend Ellie!!!

She loves the water!!!

We look sleepy.
It was a beautifully lazy morning.  :) :) :)


Our county has wild fires. Lliam has wild hair.  Both tend to be 0% contained until reinforcements are called.

Lliam drooling on my hair.
It happens.

And our little house that could!
On September 25th, we moved into our cabin so this is a perfect way to celebrate!

Thanks so much, Stacer!!!  She is currently located in Los Angeles, California.  For more information, check out her blog:
Wedding Kisses,

September 11, 2015

Bourbon Pecan Brown Sugar Cream Pie

For the most part, I always post pictures to Instagram (under 'MandiCrocker') of the treats I make at the bakery.  And oftentimes, friends and family will plead with me to get the recipes.  While I would love to give away these recipes, especially to stop the whining (heh heh),  I just can't! Wah!!!  I know, I'm sorry!!! It's a business and that's how the store makes its' money.  And I post pictures-- it's terrible!  I am heartless and cruel.

BUT!  When everyone whimpered and cried to get THIS recipe... Weeeeeeeeell,  I have some GOOD NEWS.  Jesus is risen AND this one is mine to give!  I put my own spin on a recipe I found, and have never used it at the bakery!  It also occurred to me that I ain't done posted a recipe in a really long time.  So... YAY!!! :)

Now here's the deal with this pie... I know that rolling out a pie crust and par baking it can be a bit time consuming (for the busy & lazy & I'm Hungry NOW types, just buy a pie crust at the store), but know that on the other side of that baked crust, the filling?  The filling is the easiest freakin' pie filling  in all the live long land.

Second, YOU WILL NEED TO CHILL THE BAKED PIE OVERNIGHT.  If you don't, you will have the ugliest but most delicious 'pudding pie' you can imagine.  More like a smoothie in a pie shell (turtle power?) I am 'caplock-mentioning' it because I made the mistake of not reading entirely through the recipe first when I was supposed to bring said pie to my aunt's house an hour later. WHOOPS.  Pudding it was. Chill it, folks.  Overnight.  Overnight like your parents are out of town, you know what I'm saying?

So here we go... The below ingredients are what you will need:


1 single crust par baked pie shell

1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. dark brown sugar
3 T. flour
pinch of kosher salt
2 cups of heavy cream
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 T. Bourbon

1 1/2 c. heavy cream
2 T. bourbon
1/4 cup of powdered sugar

1 cup of candied pecans
a sprinkle of powdered sugar

For the crust: 

  • Roll out the pie crust on/into your pie plate. Stick it in the freezer for an hour. Cover the dough with parchment, press it down and fill the pie with pie weights or dry beans.  Bake at 425 for 20 minutes.  Let cool.  Remove the beans/weights.

For the filling:

  • Lower oven temp to 400.
  • In a bowl, whisk together the sugars, flour and salt. Gently stir in the heavy cream, vanilla and Bourbon.  Be sure not to  'whip' the cream, it will prevent the pie from setting. IT'S THAT EASY!  Dump it in the par baked pie shell and bake for 45 minutes.  Large bubbles should cover the surface.  (The pie will look like fresh vomit.  It will NOT look set).
  • LET IT COOL OVERNIGHT.  OVERRRRRRNIIIIIIGHT.  Go to sleep, wake up the next day fresh face and rosy fingered...

For whipped cream topping & decoration:

  • With a sieve or sifter, sprinkle the crust with powdered sugar.  This is totally optional.  I just liked the look of it.  :)
  • In a mixing bowl, whip the cold cream until it begins to thicken.  Add the bourbon.  Then add the powdered sugar.  Spread out onto cooled pie.  Smooth as best you can.
  • Sprinkle the candied pecans around the outside of the pie.  
  • Keep refrigerated until ready to eat. 


I hope you enjoy.  It's different!  And a great pie for fall.  


September 01, 2015

To Be Like White Licorice

The play ended and not a week into my bliss of gardening and regular sleep, we got hit with another overwhelming fire season.  The Okanogan Complex Fire is now the largest fire in state history, stripping last year's Carlton Complex Fire of its title, and is just one of many  massive fires burning in the state.   Everyone is exhausted.  

Due to the events of last year, all of the resources that were used, the emotional energy, the lack of dollars spent in our tourist towns, everyone was already struggling greatly and then to get hit again seems almost impossibly overwhelming.  A lot will change this year.  

Once again, we are totally safe in Mazama and aside from a day or two of craziness, not knowing the who-what-when-where-why of evacuations, we are totally fine.  There was only one day where we lost power and only a night without cell reception. In that regard, our community here is even more lucky than last year.  The only thing we've had to deal with is unhealthy levels of smoke and the hit in business.  And even there, we've learned to have a sense of humor about it. 

And yet, despite our luck, I still don't want to write about it.  It's exhausting.  It's sad.  It's courageous and brave.  It's heartbreaking. It's losing your house a second time.  It's not having the words. It's being Methow Strong.  It's ghost towns. It's tireless.  It's thankless.  It's the little things.  It's so many things...
Down valley, they were not so lucky.  The Twisp Fire, a part of the Okanogan Complex, took three firefighters from us.  One of them was a young college kid named Tommy, who died defending his own hometown.  I didn't know him having just moved here, but in a community this small, everyone else did. And they're deeply affected. The ultimate kicker? Prior to the start of the fires, he had just put in his two weeks notice.  He only had days left on the crew.

He was a bright light-- a friendly kid, acted in plays, won awards doing spoken poetry, physics major. It's unfair.  The only solace I have is the belief that we're all connected and he was such a bright light that his energy was needed elsewhere. He sounds like a Jake Merrill, a young man that lived in Mazama that died in an avalanche a year and a half ago now. Also, young and magical.  Also, senseless. Also, a bright light.  It makes you wonder... That kind of exceptionality.  There's something there, something they knew that resonated in every part of their being, something that required their freedom from this world... I have to believe it... while the rest of us still run around like chickens with our heads caught off, left to ponder the mystery...

Driving home from work I came across these cattle walking up Lost River Road.  They apparently didn't like the smoke and came down from the mountain where they were grazing.

...And yet life continues and we all adapt.

Our chickens started laying eggs!
Little baby eggs to start.
This was our first one.

And after a couple weeks,  Mary laid a huge honker!  I've heard the ladies at work talk about how their chickens stopped laying once all the smoke hit us.  Mary had something to prove apparently.

 And now they're slowly but surely starting to lay more continuously, getting bigger and bigger.  The slacker chickens have started to lay and I make corny jokes to Lliam.  He rolls his eyes but I'm pretty sure my excessive use of the word "eggsactly" is quite charming.

And people are wonderful.  Lliam's been working in Okanogan where the air levels are considered 'hazardous.'  I can't even imagine.  Aunt Nora, his sister, made us both some adorable egg collecting aprons. They came just at the right time and were huge spirit lifters! 

"Efficient and adorable!!!"  
(The APRON, Jay).

The girls are obliviously happy and healthy.  The smoke made our pompous rooster sound like a deflating elephant, a gross blow to his ego but wildly amusing to us.

Our rose bushes have been blooming.  Moonbeam decided her job, especially at this time, was to create more beauty.  I was grateful.

And she outdid herself.

The way she grows, I think Flora secretly wants to be a bonsai tree.  It tickles her mom.

I have no idea what these flowers are called but they remind me of the tropical plants in Hawaii.  For as long as I could endure the smoke (some days were better than others), I've taken quite a few vacations from a seat outside, a cocktail in hand, looking at these beautiful flowers.  Can you hear the waves?  

We started harvesting quite a bit.
We got some beautiful kale this year.

Made some kale chips and a terrific kale salad with walnuts, raisins and pecorino cheese.  

Our edamame was tasty.  
We've gotten some maters.

Looks pretty, doesn't it?

But Ay yai yai!
My tomatoes were infected apparently.
Zombie tomatoes.  No bueno.

Lliam, thankfully, has some really beautiful beefsteak tomatoes.

Our cucumber plant started taking off!

When cucumbers start growing, they are absolutely adorable!  
Like little cornichons!

Until they are grown cucumbers!
It's magic. Life magic.
I love it.

Zod keeps growing little zucchini weiners.  They don't seem to get much bigger and then they turn yellow and fall off.  I'm not really sure what to say about that.

Our Anaheim pepper plant is doing his thing
which is totally awesome.

Lliam gave me plant starts thinking they were watermelons.  As they grew and we watched the leaves, we were pretty sure they were just more cucumber plants.  Alrighty then, cucumbers for days! Let the pickling begin, right?

Then they started growing these little guys.
"Honey, they're squooshes!"

But then I found this one, as big as a baseball.
"Honey, they are watermelons!"

And then I found this guy hiding under a leaf!!!
"Honey, they're freakin' CANTALOUPE!"
Cantaloupe in Lost River!??

So we've got a few cantaloupe growing.  It's nuts. 
It kind of looks like a planet.

But this is life, man.  It ends.  It continues.  New life begins.  
And then the miracles... 

This is White Licorice.  She's our rose bush that has never bloomed.  She was moved early on so we weren't sure she was going to survive the replanting.  But she was steadfast, got healthy and started to grow.  We were hopeful when she and waiting... when she was utterly chomped to death by deer.  I was so very sad.  

I had such hope that she would come back. After the replanting, I just knew she was a fighter.  And she was!  She grew these buds...

Then she got chomped again.

I thought she was through.  But we clipped her back anyway, I brushed her petals everyday very gently and a couple weeks passed.  She started growing new red and green leaves like on Aurora pictured below.  She grew red and green like Christmas.  Like a gift.    

And slowly she began to bud.  
I held my breath for deer...

And today?  White Licorice has fully bloomed for the first time. She's beautiful and a reminder to me of perseverance, hope and adaptability.  It felt like a beautiful miracle.  She never gave up.  We never gave up.

I saw this a day or two after she bloomed.
The yellow made me think of her.
The fires made me think of us.

They say children teach us to be better people.
I think the same can be said for plant babies.

Much love,