9 Years

July 6, 2011 at 7:41 am (Dougisms, Family, Makes me Smile, Marriage)

So young and carefree!

I’m going to take a quick break from my never-ending re-cap today. It’s my anniversary, so I thought I’d do a little sharing about my fabulous married life! I have to tone it down a little bit, because I don’t want all of my many readers (hi mom!) to be jealous. If you know Doug at all, you know I’m married to the most romantic man … ever! (There really should be a sarcasm font!)

Look what 9 years does!

Last night Doug asked me if we should buy gifts for today. I told him I want him to just apply this year’s gift to the big celebration next year! The gift for 9 years is supposed to be pottery, and I’m all good on knick-knacks, so I’m waiting for the gift to be European Vacation without the children! We won’t out for dinner on Friday because we knew it would be impossible to get a sitter tonight because of Girls’ Camp and EFY. Besides, sometimes it’s nice to just cook a fancy dinner at home. Sadly though, I forgot to go to the grocery store before Doug left for work, and now I’m going to do my meal shopping with all 5 kids … slightly not romantic!

Sometimes I just need to look at this so I can smile through the madness!

So, you’re probably wondering how we do it, and how we make it look so easy? There are a lot of trade secrets that I’m keeping to myself until I publish the how-to book, but until then, just know that it helps to be married to a comedian! With 5 kids all under the age of 8, I need to laugh as much as possible! It also helps to be married to someone who is super smart. When I’m having those sleep deprived days where I can’t remember the names of my children, it’s good to remember that Doug wouldn’t marry someone stupid! Last but not least, you need to manage expectations. I think that’s a fancy way of saying don’t set the bar too high, but it helps to not expect flowers every day, then when they do come, I’m pleasantly surprised! This philosophy also works with my children!

So, happy anniversary do us! I hope I didn’t ruin it all for the rest of you!!

p.s. Should this have been a serious post … maybe next year? In case you’re worried, we’re all still very much in love!!


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Better Late than Never

August 2, 2010 at 9:37 pm (Family, Kids, Makes me Smile)

I’ve been going through Picasa trying to organize the photos and I came across Samuel’s last day of school. I can’t believe how much he grew this year. I also can’t believe that 1st grade starts in three weeks! I don’t know if I’m ready for sack lunches every day. I just hope that he love first grade as much as he loved kinder.

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What I did on my Summer Vacation: Part 1

July 1, 2010 at 4:39 pm (Makes me Smile, Marriage, Uncategorized)

Okay, I’m not going to bore you with all 173 pictures, but I just thought I’d write a bit about our wonderful time away.

We were so lucky that Doug’s parents agreed to watch our kids while we went to Europe. This is the first time that we had spent a night away from all of our kids … ever. I’m a big talker about leaving kids, but we just never had the opportunity to leave them all before this. I don’t know that I would recommend a twelve day journey … across an ocean for your first trip away, but we found a way to make it work!!

Originally we were going to do a three city tour of Italy, but then my friend Andrea found us a sweet deal on a Mediterranean cruise, and our decision was made. We flew into Rome and spent 3 days touring the city and then we boarded a very large ship and set about relaxing in style!!

Toulon Farmer's Market

We visited the ports of Genoa, Toulon, Barcelona, Palma, and Cagliari. Doug was a little apprehensive about the whole idea of cruising, but he adapted well. The only unhappy moment was the auction to win a tour of the engine room. If you know Doug at all you know that the engine room is where his heart was! Unfortunately the bidding went a little high for our tastes. More unfortunately though was the winner’s attitude. The tour was for a group of four and so Doug went to offer to split the bid with him and the guy told Doug he could have it … for $500, which was more than twice what he bid on it. It was a little annoying, but we survived.

Besides Rome, I would have to say that our favorite city was Barcelona. Doug only wanted to do two things in Barcelona and we managed them both. The first was a visit to the Sagrada Familia and the second was a tapas meal. The meal was probably the best meal of the trip. We picked a restaurant from our Lonely Planet guide and we were not disappointed. Bubo Bar was amazing. We just asked the waiter to bring us a selection of tapas and it was all delicious. The best though, was the roasted eggplant with goat cheese. After dinner we went next door to the Bubo pastry shop. Wow. I can’t even describe. Just go ans see for yourselves!

In France I really just wanted to go to the grocery store and the market. I picked up some fun stuff and we had what may have been the longest lunch of our lives. A relaxing lunch is not something we do very often so we were getting a little antsy at the end!

Rome was almost indescribable. It’s hard to really appreciate the vastness of all that city has to offer. It was also a little surreal knowing that everything was authentic. The Egyptian obelisks really were spoils of ancient war. Oh, and I also saw where Marc Antony gave his eulogy for Caesar. It was a special moment for me because I had to memorize Shakespeare’s version of the speech for Mrs. Merchant’s grade 10 honours English class.

This is a trip I would definitely recommend if you get the chance. If you do a cruise I would make sure you do your research on each of the cities. I think we saved a lot of money by not doing any of the organized port excursions. We just mapped out what we wanted to see before we left. It probably would have gone a little more smoothly if we hadn’t left two of the guide books at Doug’s parent’s house, but that just added to the adventure!

I don’t know when we’ll get the chance to do something like this again, but we definitely enjoyed every minute of it.

p.s. As per my usual we dealt with delayed planes, canceled flights and lost luggage on our way home!!

All these bags were carry on size!

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Like Manna from Heaven

March 31, 2010 at 7:18 am (Food, Makes me Smile, Uncategorized)

A couple of weeks ago I posted about my love for a certain Canadian margarine. Look what arrived in the mail yesterday:

Postal goodness from Canada


My dad sent this off to me before I wrote that post. It’s as if he is completely in tune but my margarine needs. For a split second I thought that I was getting some environmentally friendly boxed wine

What's hiding in th box?

, but then behold what to my wandering eyes appeared:

This should get me through the next year. There shall be toast in our home again … at least for me!

Thanks Dad!

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The New Blog

March 29, 2010 at 7:48 am (Fun Stuff, Makes me Smile, recipes, Things I love)

I thought about calling this post, “Our new project,” but I thought some of you might get the wrong idea!

My sister Christina and I have created a new blog and we think you should check it out:

Frankly  Entertaining

That’s right, Frankly Entertaining … it’s a double entendre! I know it’s seems obvious because, frankly, we’re both so entertaining! It’s a mix of recipes, cookbook reviews, entertaining ideas, and just general kitchen happiness brought to you by the Frank sisters! We’re really excited about this new project, and we would appreciate any feedback that you might have. We’re looking forward to seeing you over at the new site.

One of Christina's delicious desserts!

Don’t worry, I’ll still be posting my random nonsense here. The other site is a more focused effort! So, hop on over and let us know what you think!

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Dream a Little Dream

March 12, 2010 at 5:20 pm (Makes me Smile, Uncategorized)




So, it’s Friday night, and we have big plans here. I borrowed La Vie en Rose from the library, and I will be dreaming of moving back to France … just for a little while.

Sometimes Doug and I talk about how much fun it would be for us to have a short term international adventure. I would love to spend a couple of years in Europe. I think it would be an amazing thing for our entire family. Lately I’ve been think about it more because I have a cousin who is moving to Chile, and my brother is considering a job in the middle east.

I also follow a few blogs that make me dream. Do you ever read Stephmodo? Her experiences renovating a house in the french countryside make my heart ache just a little bit. Then today I was talking to a friend about some photography classes that she’s teaching. She and her friend are planning a French Photo Retreat at Stephmodo’s house. How amazing is that? Could I convince my husband to send me to France for a few days to learn how to make the most of my fancy camera?( I already tried to convince Candice to let me tag along as her interpreter, but apparently her teaching partner speaks french) Could I convince him to let me take Candice’s online class by showing him what a bargain it is compared to the trip to France? Would it be weird to take an online class from someone that you know?

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Master Class

February 1, 2010 at 10:02 pm (Food, Makes me Smile, Things I love)

Me, Doug H. and Dixie


I really should have written about this whole thing on Friday. I feel my excitement has died down a little bit, but hopefully you’ll get what an amazing experience this was. 

From time to time I head down to the Central Market to take cooking classes. I’ve learned about make ahead meals, all kinds of lobster, and southern specialties. Last Thursday was all about bread. I was so excited when I saw the class description that I really didn’t even research the instructor all that much. Dixie told me that she bought the book, and that was about it. 

Well, it turns out that the instruct or was Peter Reinhart. This man is amazing. By far the best class I’ve taken at Central Market. If he’s coming to a Central Market or a Sur La Table near you, it is well worth the money. He gave some very practical advice (like keeping a bowl of water nearby to dip your hands in when working with sticky dough), and he gave some very technical insights. He went a mile a minute and never lost track of anything. At one point he had 6 loaves of bread in three different ovens, and he still managed to explain the benefit of slurries. 

sitting next to Peter Reinhart

One of the keys to this particular class was the process of delayed fermentation. I’m no expert, but it has to do with activating all the components over time. On Saturday I made a beautiful chocolate babka. Well, it was beautiful all day long … until I burned it beyond recognition! That’s okay though. I was only depressed all night Saturday and most of Sunday, but I’m over it now, and ready to try again! 

As if the experience of the class wasn’t enough we also met a local celebrity. Well, celebrity to culinary geeks like me and Dixie. There is a pizzeria in San Antonio called Dough. It’s authentic Italian. They have a special wood burning oven that cooks the pizzas in 90 seconds. We first discovered this restaurant almost two years ago. I cannot accurately describe the joy that this food brings to me. Anyway, attending the class  Thursday night was Doug, the owner of Dough. 

At the beginning of the class, the instructor told everyone that he would be going to Dough after the class, and that we were more than welcome to join them. Once the class was over Dixie and I were very excited about the idea of eating at the restaurant with Mr. Dough and Mr. Reinhart, but we weren’t really sure if the invitation at the beginning of class was sincere. So, we went up to Doug, took a picture (because we’re stalkers that way), and tried to ascertain how serious the invitation was, because, at that point, the restaurant had closed. 

No worries. Doug said that if the restaurant was going to be open for him it would be open for all of us! After all, he said, we’re part of the Dough family! I wonder if I can use that line to cut down the hour-long wait on the week-end! 

We figured there’d be a half-dozen or so students from the class, but it was just us. There was me, Dixie, Doug, his wife, Peter, Jay (a fascinating person who I hope to meet again), and two chefs from Central Market. It was an amazing evening. It was fascinating to hear Doug ask Peter about different ways to perfect his craft. I’ve worked in a lot of kitchens, and chefs have certain reputation, but these two men were very humble about their craft. 

The after party

I learned so much. I felt like a celebrity. Sitting at a table after the restaurant closes with the owner and a world-renowned baker. This post in no way does this experience justice! I am so glad that I went to the class, and that we went to the dinner after the class. I stepped a little bit out of my comfort zone and because of that I wasn’t saying, “what if” on Friday morning. 

It was so perfect before it went into the oven!

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I was blind, but now I see

November 13, 2009 at 10:08 am (before and after, Makes me Smile)

october 235

There's a little boy under there somewhere!

I know that my second born is not Samson, but he has such beautiful hair that I hate to cut it. I take him to the salon because I don’t want Doug going anywhere near him with the clippers. His hair is a thing of beauty, and every day I am jealous! But, it was getting to be too much. He had a permanent kink in his neck because he was always trying to see by looking up from under his bangs.

october 243

That's right, I curled it!

We had never given him a short hair cut before, but it was time. I hate haircuts. I hate being reminded that my boys aren’t babies anymore. We convinced him that he wanted a haircut by saying that he would look just like his older brother. That was working great until we were all done and he realized that his hair was still black! I wanted to cry for him. He isn’t Samson though, cutting his hair did not remove his monster strength, it just let everyone see his eyes … oh and that bruise on his forehead! I wonder how long that’s been there?!

october 236

Ignore the grapes

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Helping Hands: Part IV

September 14, 2009 at 10:54 am (Family, Lists, Makes me Smile, Miracles)

saturday 014

(Hopefully) Last, but not least, and in honor of my dad’s birthday, the final installment of the Helping Hands series. This entry has taken me the longest to put together mostly because my dad was here for a month. If you know my dad, you know that it wasn’t a month spent relaxing!

I have compiled a condensed version of some of my father’s activities while he was here. There is no stopping my father. When he first arrived I was worried about his shoulder injury, but apparently, he would let nothing stop him! It’s almost embarrassing how little I did while he was here. 

I was a little worried about having my dad here for a whole month, but it was great. It really took the stress off of the final weeks of the pregnancy. My dad pretty much ran the house, including teaching the kids how to swat flies! The day after my dad left, Samuel came out looking for his clothes, because for a month my dad laid out the kids’ outfits every morning! he also made sure that the boys were bathed which is something that I don’t take too seriously!

So, here is an idea of what to expect when Bill Frank comes to stay:

2 – vacuum cleaners

1 – mop

1 – ceiling fan

20 – trips to Sonic

100 – Buddy Bucks received

1 – trip across town in 100 degree heat, with two toddlers, to find sheet metal

1 – car detailed in preparation for sale

3 – meals of grilled steak

4 – evenings babysitting so Doug and I could go on dates

1 – citizenship swearing in ceremony attended

1 – shelf installed in master bath

3 – light sabers purchased (plus one for Jason Hunt)

1 – complete day watching three boys so I could deliver my baby in peace!

1 – new iron (plus much, much ironing!)

1 – office chair (apparently doing work while sitting on a kiddie chair isn’t cool!)

1 – alarm clock

5 – people flown in from Seattle

1 – grandma flown in from Halifax

1 – yard tended to for large item trash day, plus a hedge trimmer

– Countless groceries and cans of Fresca

– Hanging of pictures and curtain rods

– Driving Doug to work and therapy almost every day

I am noticing  a trend toward cleaning supplies. I’m wondering if dad is trying to tell me something?! Every time I try o finish the list, I come up with something else, so know that this list is incomplete. He took my boys on errands every day, and he sacrificed a month of time with his wife. Thankfully, grandma also got to come out when Christina was here.

I know at the end we were wearing on my dad, but I hope he knows how much we appreciated everything he did for and with us while he was here.

Happy Birthday Dad!

dad 008

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Before and After: the Car Seat

August 8, 2009 at 5:45 pm (before and after, Dougisms, Makes me Smile)

A seat fit for three boys!

A seat fit for three boys!


To Whom it May Concern,

                                                      Apparently you didn’t appreciate my husband’s sense of reduce, re-use, recycle. Or maybe you just knew that I had asked my husband for a new car seat because I thought 3 kids per car seat was enough. You knew my husband’s response was something along the lines of, “Plastic doesn’t go bad.” Or maybe you thought that the blue circus theme wasn’t appropriate for our new little girl.

                                                       Whatever your reasons, I was very pleasantly surprised to arrive home from a date with my husband to see this on the front step:


                                                        We asked the babysitter if she saw who dropped it off, but she said whoever it was ran really, really fast. Doug wondered what was inside (appearances can be deceiving!). Then he wondered who would do such a thing. Who thought our car seat wasn’t good enough?! His first thought was my dad, but I told him that my dad hadn’t commented on the car seat, so I was pretty sure it wasn’t him. I asked around on Facebook, and someone suggested that it might have been Greg, but that didn’t ring true either! I thought it was a particular friend. Doug decided to do some detective work the next day at church. Who would look at us funny for not bringing the new car seat with us (it was very late, and church starts very early)?!

                                       When we got to church Doug agreed with my original hypothesis. All I can say is, thank you so much for being so thoughtful. We love the new seat, and even though I know plastic doesn’t go bad, I think the baby is all the safer for being in the new seat.



Afton's new ride!

Afton's new ride!

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