November 23, 2015

The Way We Were: Technology

In Love...

It started with Netflix.  Oh, Netflix.  You great connection to the world!  You made me feel like I was back in L.A. watching Oscar nominees and catching up on series television.  My friends felt close again.  

"When you love someone, from Roosevelt to me, you go deaf, dumb and blind."--Hubbell

Things Are Off... 

Then I got the DSLR camera.  A major victory but aside from shooting on auto, I barely knew how to use it.  In order to learn and watch tutorials, I needed internet.  Maybe one day? We also have this wedding to plan! There are so many cost effective cute ideas online and you can search through dresses, invitations, etc.  I was down valley almost everyday using the library's wireless or going to cafes, spending money.  Everything requires internet!

"I don't have the right style for you, do I?... I'll change."--Katie

But We're Okay...

It was getting to be too much so we finally caved and got internet through DISH.  Yay!!!  I was certain that this would make flowers grow and would give birth to baby kittens that ride rumbas!  And because DISH is incredibly expensive and it seemed like such a slap in the face to pay so much for internet alone, we bundled it with the smallest cable package.  At the very least, Walking Dead, right??? 

"Maybe something terrible will happen-- maybe you'll have a good time."--Hubbell

No, Things Are Actually Very Off...

We didn't have a TV to get service installed.  They didn't tell us it was required or that we'd need one immediately.  Lliam quick got on it and borrowed a ginormous bulk tv from a friend.  We began to look for a cheap flat screen on all the local boards as our place is so small to have anything bigger feels like a boat is in the room.  We eventually got one online.  

"You think you're easy?  Compared to what, the hundred years war?"--Hubbell

Everything's Wrong...

It also became imperative to get wedding invitations done and printed.  I started to put something together when my Dell computer decided to crap out.  Hmmm... Wasn't planning on thaaaaaat eitheeeeeer.  With the camera and a photographer's future in mind, I upgraded on a payment plan to a refurbished MacBook Pro with retina display.  I figured I'd download Adobe Photoshop to edit photos AND do wedding invitations. Two birds with one stone... but many dineros! 

"People are more important than their principles."- Hubbell
"People ARE their principles."-Katie

The Break-Up...

Cut to the external hard drive... I ordered it online to transfer all of my files from my Dell to the new Mac.  It arrived completely dead.  Did I also mention that it's been almost five years since I've used a Mac and I didn't know how to use it then? Or the fact that Mac doesn't come with an internal DVD player?  I've been a Mac envying Dell girl my whole life, psyched to have something so fancy and stable and here I am trying to figure out how to cut and paste sentences.  I have used up 80% of our satellite internet for the month (!!!) trying to unsuccessfully download Photoshop!  And that was just by downloading the Cloud app to GET to Photoshop.  Ha! In the span of a month and a half, I am utterly overwhelmed as we are up to our ears in technology we never had or that I don't know how to use:

DSLR Camera
Flat Screen TV
A non-working 500 GB External Hardrive 
Refurbished MacBook Pro
Adobe Photoshop

"If I push too hard it's because I want things to be better, I want us to be better, I want you to be better.  Sure I make waves-- you have, I mean you have to.  And I'll keep making them till you are everything you should be and will be.  You'll never find anyone as good for you as I am, to believe in you as much as I do or to love you as much!"--Katie

The Last Hope...
Last night, I drove down valley, parked at the library, stuck my computer in the trunk and walked around for 4 hours in the dark until it completed downloading. It worked!!!

"Well then, why? ...Couldn't we both win?"--Katie

The Morning After... It's Really Over...

Today, I tried to use Photoshop for the first time to do wedding invitations... 


Trying to figure out Photoshop is like time traveling to the future. I now know how it would feel to live in a world with technology you can't understand. 

"You hold on and I don't know how.  And I wish I did.  Maybe you were born committed... I can't get negative enough.  I can't get angry enough.  And I can't get positive enough."--Hubbell

The Aftermath...

In the meantime, I am blogging from home and I've taken more pictures. I feel defeated but life continues... And it will continue always for the better.  

Click to enlarge if you'd like...

I posted this last blog as a black and white-- a bit too pixilated. Here it is in color.

A dreary day but everything is a picture if you look at it long enough...  There's so much to learn.

This looked so wintery sad to me...

"I don't see how you could do it."--Hubbell
"And I don't see how you can't."--Katie

The Way We Were...

It was quiet.  We were book readers before bed.  We went for walks in the snow with The Small Dog.  We raised chickens and ate 'farm fresh eggs.'  We gardened and drank craft beer on the patio Lliam made for us.  Life was good and full of possibility... 

"Wouldn't it be lovely if we were old?  We'd have survived all this.  Everything would be easy and uncomplicated; the way it was when we were young."--Katie

Your girl is lovely, Hubbell... 

November 05, 2015

Playing With The Start Of Winter

I'm in LA, Trick! 
Mazama is wonderful for so many reasons (especially the ones you'll see below), but once or twice a year, I really like to head south to reconnect with the crazy, creative energy that is Los Angeles.  I've had an inspired time the past couple of days talking with my friends and family that are auditioning, performing in shows, tapping into magic of their inner artists, whether creatively or personally in their everyday lives. 
It seems like the right time to be here. Everything in my world has been screaming at me, for me, to create. If I feel like singing, I start singing.  If I feel like writing, I start writing.  Unlike trying to make it as an actor in my early 20's, where I demanded so much of Inspiration.  I suffocated it and stuffed it into a very small box full of my plans for us. This creativity is my friend.  I want to take care of it. It isn't connected with expectation or demands.  I hang out with it solely for the joy of it.  What a difference...
Inspiration is kind of like The Small Dog, poking at me until I play 'pinecone' with it.  So here I am in LA, carving out a minute of alone time to be with this other very real and yet unreal friend.  Kind of crazy but that's how we're rolling these days.
My honey drove me to the airport on Monday.  I knew there was snow on the mountains but as we passed through on Highway 20 it was quite possibly the most sparkly, magical, hand-clappy beautiful that I've ever seen it.  It was breathtaking!  He offered to pull over so I could take some quick pictures. And then, because he is so perfect for me, encouraged me to break out the new camera and quick grab some shots.  It was a bit of a rush but I'm so glad I did.
This first one was shot with my iphone.
Camera phones are truly incredible.
This is with my Nikon D7000 and a 50mm lens.

Also, the 50mm lense.

I hope you enjoy!  I would love to hear your goals and projects... This friendship is such a gift.  I'm glad I'm relearning the value in it. 
Now back to the inspired flesh & bloods...  :)

October 21, 2015

Sadie Headshots

Like mother like daughter...  *sigh*

Our little Sadie is quite the drama queen!  Playing with my new camera last weekend, she asked me to take a whole host of 'looks' for her headshot portfolio. 

She said she no longer wants to be a Small Dog in a Small Pond and has bigger dreams and aspirations than to live with Lliam and I on The Compound.  Oy vey!  I didn't want to completely squash her dreams, however.  So we did have some fun playing around.  I also told her that when she's 18 and no longer lives under our roof,  she can make her own decisions. In the meantime, she needs to get a good education. 

This is her Commercial Shot for sure!
That's a face that could sell insurance to grandma!

Coy & Demure Sadie
Good for murder mystery or period pieces!
"Dogtown Abbey"

Film Headshot
She just needs a space suit & helmet!
Dramatic Shot
I'm sorry Meryl but the Oscar goes to The Small Dog for 'Sadie's Choice.'

Smoky Eyes Sadie
(I told her she's too short to model but she won't listen) 

Fragile Ingenue

**Sadie is available for weddings, bar mitzvahs and squirrel chasings.
Small dogs and big dreams,

October 15, 2015

Photography Day One

There are head decisions and there are heart decisions. 
Two weeks ago I made a HUGE heart decision that I am equally parts terrified and excited.  I bought a really nice camera.  I have wanted a camera my whole life but have no real experience outside of a black and white photography class I took in highschool (which I loved).  And yet, I was the kid in 7th grade, laying backwards halfway down the stairs with a crappy plastic box full of Kodak film, taking artsy fartsy shots, only to be highly disappointed come Rite Aid development time.  Whenever I asked about buying a camera with anyone I knew, I got the same reply over and over... "It's too expensive a hobby!" or "Oh, now you want to be a photographer?  I thought you wanted to start a business!"  And for Christmas, I'd always end up with a 'My First Sony!' point and shoot.  It was NOT legit but I would try... and then I would quit.

For the record, I LOATHE the idea that we're only allowed to have one passion.  I like to do LOTS of things and find that so often people pigeonhole themselves into one little box that they miss out on galaxies full of possibility.  With that said, it's totally my fault for not having a real camera  sooner.  The inquiry about owning a camera was really my pathetic need to get permission from the people around me .  If my heart said 'CAMERA,' I should have bought a damn camera!
So, with that in mind, when I saw a listing on our online Bulletin Board here for a Nikon D7000 that came with six lenses, extra batteries & memory cards, a tripod and only had a shutter count of 200 for $1500?  I quickly tallied what was in my account. 

The way our pay periods fall, October randomly had an extra paycheck.  I also found it extremely intriguing that I was getting random checks from my insurance company and credit card companies, etc. for 'overpayments' which, who are we kidding, NEVER happens.  I had exactly $1500. 
"Oh, it must be nice to have $1500."
Yes!  For that 3 & 1/2 seconds, it was AMAZING!!!  I WAS RICH!!!  You should try it and then buy a camera.  Also, we're changing some details for the wedding.  The BBQ reception has been cancelled for the more casual smorgasbord of  packaged condiments.  Nothing says 'Thanks so much for coming to our special day!' like a few packets of Arby's sauce. You're welcome! 
Anyway, when the stars align, they align-- And I listen to my heart.  During my Great Debt-pression in my earlier years, where I racked up all my debt, I regreted those $300 runs to Target for SHIT.  But during that time I never regretted Windy, my Kitchen Aid Mixer, or Louise the Cuis(inart).  Or my fancy knives.  I don't regret quality... especially when it feeds my soul.
So I bought the thing and let it sit there for two weeks because I was too overwhelmed.  I couldn't even figure out how to get the zoom lense detached.  HA!  But between Lliam who reads manuals like I read funny birthday cards (I do not have his gift) and my own messing around, I'm officially snaphappy!  I'm shooting everything on automatic for now.

 Yesterday I hiked to Blue Lake with the Sadiekins and here are some of my first shots.  This first one is by far my favorite.  

Not only do I not know how to actually use my fancy camera, I have no idea what even makes a good picture.  I know a little about balance & composition from art classes. Yes, I had a point and shoot camera and would experiment with food photography.  Otherwise, I'm pretty clueless! Some of it is technical, sure- like baking!  If you don't get the chemistry right you just have a mess of lumpy mounds.  Some people, however, like a crispy cookie.  Others, like a cakey cookie.  In photography, a lot of it is preference, too!  So these first four Blue Lake pictures are my favorites BUT... hell if I know which one would be considered the better shot out of all of them.  And I have no idea what they might taste like!


These are all shot with the 18-70 lens.  It was such a dreary, dismal day. Lighting was terrible.  Mountains are really hard to shoot regardless. I went home soooo sad.  They all looked like poodely oodely.  And then I color corrected them!  See?  My days as an L.A. actor prepared me for this!  YOU JUST FIX IT IN POST, YAY!  *the sound of 1,000 professional photographers cringing*

So I would LOVE feedback.  I think the first four are pretty. Whether or not they're technically great photos, I doubt it.  But it's a start and I'm okay with pretty pictures just for me right now!

This one was shot with my 70-300 zoom.  I'm just using Irfanview to color correct my photos. I want to invest in Photoshop but my laptop is so crappy, it doesn't make much sense to do that until I upgrade.  Also, it's probably best for me not to depend on color correction when I'm starting out.  (BARF). By the way, how does one color correct anyway!? Are their rules? Is that a class in Photography School? Are my photos super color correcty?  I overspice my soup at the bakery.  I'm sure I overcorrect my photos.  Damn it, Crocker!!! 


 But really... This is why I'd be super grateful to have feedback.  AND... here we are again with the same picture taken fifteen times... Which one is the most powerfully composed?  This is what I ask myself when I'm shooting... "Mandi, are you composing this shot powerfully?"  And before I can answer I fart in my shorts.  Moving on!


This one below looks like a painting so my guess is... YES.

Too color correcty.

(Technical term).


But if you saw the original photo, you'd be glad I made it look like a painting!  HA!  Self depreciating humor... Very important to maintain one's sense of shutter neurosis.


This looks like a Pixar movie.

Or something out of Avatar. 
(Which was EXACTLY what I was going for!)


So these were shots with my 35mm. This is Buttermilk, our rooster.  He was walking around all "bug up my ass!" I soooo wanted this picture to be colorful, crisp and vibrant.  It just didn't happen.  Even with color correcting, this is as good as she got! 

One of Moonbeam's roses.

I like how the sun is peeking over in this one.

But the light on the mountain in this one.
Neither are great!
I've taken better shots with my iphone.

Liberty Bell. 
This might have been with the zoom.

And this is Nora!

So there they are folks!  I'd love your thoughts...
I'm sure there will be a-PLENTY more.

But it's SUPER FUN.
I already look at the world differently.
:)  :)  :)  :)  :)  :)  :)  :)  :)

"HELP ME, I'M POOR"- Bridesmaids,


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,