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  • WE ARE…

    ... THE PERKES. We still consider ourselves newlyweds [we've been married for almost 5 years]. Our firstborn, Jace, is now 2 years old, and became a big brother when Sofia Rain joined our family in November 2012. We are from the East Coast [Luisa is from MA and Nate is from NH]. We are Bronco's Fans [We've lived in the Boise area for almost 5 years]. We are travelers. We are athletes and we are dancers. We are enthusiastic about food. We are spontaneous. We are addicted to the sun. We are in love.

    Most importantly... we are HAPPY. We are the Perkes.

Day #5 of the GRATEFUL CRANBERRY CRAVE COUNTDOWN

This year, my experience of ‘the Holidays’ has been much like that of a 6 year old trying to ride every attraction in Disney World in a day and a half. I have learned valuable lessons about procrastinating, prioritizing, simplifying, and focusing on what really matters.

Despite that into, Thanksgiving was so much fun! We stayed here in Star and had dinner with Jake, Kate & Co. Kate and I had THE BEST time cooking both of our first-time-ever full-blown Thanksgiving meals. It all began the night before when we tried to prepare the turkey. Ripping off the wings and scrubbing that gobbler down for some reason, at that late hour, seemed to be the most hilarious thing we had ever experienced. Part of that probably had to do with having lost the gibblets [I didn't know about the rear entrance]. Good thing we found them before we started baking.

We cooked ALL DAY but had a blast! With Christmas tunes on all day and the Thanksgiving Day parade on in the other room, their house was filled with the holiday season! We cooked stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, candied yams, jello salad, jalapeno corn and cranberry sauce. Jake contributed with the layering of the jello salad and the mashing of the potatoes, and Nate got creative with the Pope’s Hat napkins.

In the name of tradition, I made ravioli’s and italian sausage [which I burned... bummer] which my Mom has made probably EVERY Thanksgiving of my life [the blending of traditions has been one of the funnest of aspects of marriage]. EVERYTHING was delectable, and it felt SO good to feel ‘at home’ albeit 2,000 miles away from my family.

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Despite the moaning and groaning of the anti-sentimental boys that Kate and I married, we agreed that over dinner we should talk about the things that we are most grateful for… hence the WHOLE purpose of the holiday [*Rules: No Repeats. And No Stating Family or Church].

And so to wrap up my Grateful Cranberry Crave Countdown here is a sweet & condensed version of what I appreciate the most [not including the things I have mentioned on my previous posts]:
My Parents and Nate’s Parents, dancing, music, food, Christ, babies, health, laughter, sunshine, boating, our missions…
What a Wonderful Life
&
Happy Belated Thanksgiving!

Slendarella - Love your cranberry candle holders…gonna steal that idea! Marvy photos here too!

Day #4 of the GRATEFUL CRANBERRY CRAVE COUNTDOWN

I LOVE LAUGHTER… and though INCREDIBLY unflattering, these pictures show the unabashed guffaws with which we love life out loud. Life is so much more beautiful with laughter in it.
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Bree - Those pictures are absolutely adorable and are just a perfect show of how fun and full of life you guys are! Love it!! Hope things are great!!

Ken and Jen Perkes - I'm grateful for joyful memories . . . and so many of these photographs bring back some of those most cherished of times! And nobody laughs quite like you two!

Thanks for the giggles!

Love,

–Dad

Day #3 of the GRATEFUL CRANBERRY CRAVE COUNTDOWN

Ok… so I got a little overwhelmed with the pre-Thanksgiving prep and lost track of my countdown. I was very disappointed that this happened, but at the same time I decided that I rule my own personal blogging universe and I’m using my ‘powers’ to post date these next couple of posts so that I can continue to rave about the things I am most grateful for even after the holiday.

The next thing I’ve decided to feature would be our current jobs. In these ‘scary economic’ times, we’ve been blessed with great jobs and amazing opportunities and we recognize that this blessing is not available to all.

First, I would like to thank and congratulate NATE for working his tail off to get a job that will challenge and stretch him professionally in every way. I’m proud of him for not ‘cowering in the face of danger’ and I’m grateful that this opportunity came along and that those responsible for choosing him decided to give Nate a chance. Way to go, baby!

And secondly, I’m incredibly grateful for the job that has come to me to work for State Farm Insurance. I never would have thought that I would work in the Insurance industry, but the opportunity came along with a perfect location, perfect pay, perfect traveling arrangements, perfect schedule, perfect benefits. Along with that came the means with which I was able to get licensed in property and casualty… another great asset to have for our future.

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Bree - Luisa!! We miss you guys and our SUNNY days of summer in Boise!! :) So happy to hear that you both have GREAT jobs and that things are going well! Hope you don't get too busy to post, I love seeing what you guys are up to! :) Take care and drop a line sometime!!

Kami P. - cute posts Luisa. You guys are in Boise still right? or somewhere near? So where does Nate work?

Shannon - I love that you did a thankful countdown. I am going to also, albeit not a count down but a post on what I am thankful for. Much love to you!!!!!

Ken and Jen Perkes - Great job, Luisa!!!

–Proud Papa

Maritza Lastres - …Felicitaciones querida!.. muchas bendiciones.. entonces eso quiero decir que ustedes han sido muuuuy obedientes!!!.. aah estoy super feliz por ti y tu esposo tambien! .. espero que estes suuper bien!.. i miss you .. :) te amo amiga!

Harmatia - CONGRATS MY DEAR! I was so happy to see you read my blog.I know the grammar isnt all there. Somehow between the moves I missed that part of elementary school. I have to tell you that picture of the hummingbird made me think of that line "hummingbird heartbeat." I am so proud of you getting your license and all those triathalons. It inspired me to get into shape and try to do one of those myself.
God bless you and god bless our friendship that will grow along with our waistbands.
Loves and hugs,
Nellie

Day #2 of the GRATEFUL CRANBERRY CRAVE COUNTDOWN

Lately, reading has been a HUGE blessing to me. With an extremely mentally demanding job, I have been in dire need of an escape and a way to ‘wind’ down each day. On lunch breaks, I take a mental vacation and visit the distant lands of a wizarding world or the lands of the Greek Gods. I visit Ecuador with their Auca Indians or the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park. The characters become my friends and the stories become a part of my life, as if I’ve lived them myself.


I am SO grateful for good books and I try to follow the counsel: ‘Seek ye out of the best books, words of wisdom.’


I TRULY am grateful for a good read.

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* Note: On the sidebar, I’ve been working on a project that has been ongoing for quite some time: a list of all the books I’ve ever read. It’s been a feat and it is one of the great accomplishments of my life.

You are the Gobble of my Turkey…

I’ve never really understood the ‘apple of my eye’ phrase, so I decided to throw a similar nonsensical one out there, hence, my title! I LOVE this time of year. The holidays make the bitter, cold winters bareable. My mind goes back to a childhood memory: My mom was passing around a small jar, and in my hand are five kernels of corn and as the jar goes around, we each say things we were thankful for, placing a kernel in as we do trying to fill it up.

Mom, big Kudos to you for reminding us what Thanksgiving is all about. So THIS Turkey Day, each post, each day will be a little kernel of corn.

DAY #1 of the GRATEFUL CRANBERRY CRAVE COUNTDOWN

The biggest blessing of my life just happens to be the love of my life as well. So before I begin to blubber, Thank you Natey, for making my life as richly blessed as it is. I am eternally grateful that you are mine.

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Ken and Jen Perkes - What a great idea, Luisa: THE GRATEFUL COUNTDOWN!!! That is one of your many divine attributes–your gratitude . . . and love!

Let me just add that I am surely grateful to have such a wonderful daughter!

–Dad

P.S. Do we have any photos of Nate WITHOUT a camera in his hand? : – )

Wishing for Warmer Weather…

As winter comes upon us, I find myself longing for the hot sun, for dark tans, for the smell of sunscreen and barbecues… picnics on the lakeside; warm, glassy water and cool sunglasses… aka the summer. Nate hasn’t helped my nostalgia as he’s made this fun video as part of a bid he is preparing for a corporate job.

Shout out to all of our boating buddies! See you all at Black Canyon in about … 6 months!

*Nate. I am so proud of you.
**Don’t forget to turn off my music down at the bottom!!
***Note: A while back I mentioned in one of my posts my skipping across the water experience. The video didn’t work then, but you can see it here!


Mike and Ariane - Editing to the music, that's talent! Nice work!

Ken and Jen Perkes - Mom and I have watched this over and over again! And, of course, love it. Luisa: you do skip well! Was Nate having more fun than he should have putting that scene to music? My favorite photo of Nate is one in which he is airborne and touching his board [which goes from upper left to lower right--not the way we usually see him airborne]. He included it twice; once in black and white. AMAZING photo [which you must have taken!] and amazing wake boarding. You all make it looks so fun and so cool! Glad you posted this. We are super proud of you guys!

Good luck with the corporate bid!

–Dad

Kim Davis - Luisa!!!! I'm sorry to say that I laughed really hard at you skipping across the water. That is exactly why I will NEVER tube again. What a fun video – it makes 6 months feel like FOREVER away.

Bon-Bon! Shake your Bon-Bon!

Let me paint a picture. 11:38pm Sunday night. We get the biggest junk food craving EVER. We run to the kitchen. What do we find in the fridge… cookie dough? No. Minced garlic and baking soda. In the freezer… Ice Cream? No. Frozen beets. In the cupboard… chocolate? NO! Cornstarch. We start racking our brains. What can we make???

Finally! We get it! Thanks to our big brother Josh, a recipe has come into the Perkes family called…. drumroll, please…. The Barbie Holden Breadsticks. I think these breadsticks will live in infamy as long as the Perkes family exists. Well, we decided, if we leave out a little salt and cheese and add enough sugar, we could make these things a dessert. Here’s the recipe we made up, with the breadstick recipe as the base:

The Perkes Family Cinnabons

3 1/2 c. flour
3 T. Sugar
1 t. Salt
1 T. Yeast
1 1/2 c. warm water

1 1/2 sticks butter
2 c. brown sugar
4 T. cinnamon
Powdered Sugar

Add all the breadstick ingredients into a large mixing bowl and mix with your hands. Cover and let rise AT LEAST one hour. When it has doubled in size, sprinkle some flour on the counter top and roll out into a long rectangle. Brush with 1/2 of the melted butter and then sprinkle with the cinnamon and brown sugar mixture. Starting at one end, roll as tightly as possible like a jelly roll. Cut into 1″ pieces and place them in a square baking pan. Drizzle with a little bit of butter and place in a preheated oven at 400 degrees.

Remove from oven when golden and place on plate to cool. Melt remaining butter and add sugar to thicken. Use milk and/or sugar to control consistency. When rolls are cool, drizzle with frosting or use as dipping sauce.

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Holy Cow. We were in 7th Heaven. They were the best Cinnabons we had EVER had.
It was more than we bargained for with our meager options.
Plus, we don’t have any fun when we cook together either.

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It seems all that I’ve been talking about lately is food and books. You can probably guess how I best like to pass the time. Doesn’t get much better than a warm, gooey Cinnabon, a fluffy blanket, a good book and my hubby close by.

Randi - you guys are so cute!!! its easy to see you are best friends! i miss you.
so our new bishop…..is FORSURE Nat in 20 years!!! LOL! i wish you could meet him! its mind blowing how much he looks and acts like Nat. he is an awesome person!

Maritza Lastres - tal vez la receta podria ser en español tambien :) ….
ja ja ja!.. buenas fotos :)
love you mi amiga!!!

Ken and Jen Perkes - Barbie Holden would be proud!

: – )

–Dad

The Irons - ha ha very cute. those look SOO yummy! love you!!
Queenie
p.s. oh nice CHILE shirt by the way :)

‘A Library is a Hospital for the Mind…’

My hubby knows that something BIG is going on when he hears me say: “Baby, I think that was the BEST book I’ve EVER read.” It would be a lie to say that I have never said that before, nor do I foolishly believe that I will never say it again.

Having seen and loved the movie The Count of Monte Cristo, with the dreamboat James Caviezel, I went into this book fully expecting to love it, while still hoping to experience something new, knowing that the book was entirely different than that portrayed on the screen. As in the movie, our protagonist, the dashing Edmond Dantes, meets his tragedy at the hands of Fernand, the jealous lover; Danglars, the spiteful coworker; Caderousse, the coveting neighbor; and Villefort, the ambitious lawyer. That IS, however, where the similarities end.

It was fascinating to watch the plot of this story unfold with SO many twists and subplots, suspense and surprises. EVERYONE, everywhere was somehow connected to the Count as he manipulated all of Paris to facilitate his complicated revenge.

When tragedy, inflicted in the name of justice, had caused immense suffering for the innocent ALONG WITH the guilty, Edmond finally desists. After inflicting this so called ‘justice’ on those who had depraved him of his every happiness, Edmond sadly laments: ”Pray for a man who, like Satan, believed for one moment he was the equal of God, but who now acknowledges in all Christian humility that in God alone is supreme power and infinite wisdom.’

Dantes, like Frankenstein, who was dubbed the ‘Modern Prometheus’, yielded to his irresponsible curiosities and yearnings to transcend the limits of human life which led them both to the disaster that WAS their lives. Before reading the novel Frankenstein, I never knew that ‘Frankenstein’ was the name of ‘the Creator’ and that the being he created in likeness of the human form never received a name. This self-titled ‘Creator’ ACTUALLY had the audacity to state: “I became obsessed with the power I had developed to instill the spark of life into my creation.” The actual Prometheus, in Greek mythology, defied the Titans and gave fire, ‘light and knowledge’, to human kind. As a punishment, he was chained to a boulder and daily, an eagle would come and eat his liver, which would grow back that night. It seems humankind has an innate urge to take matters into our own hands, defying the only Being who actually posseses an omniscience that puts our own intellect to shame. The last words of Dantes at the end of the novel was: ‘Never forget that, until the day comes when God will deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is contained in these words: wait and hope.’

It takes a long time for eyes that are swollen with weeping to see clearly,’ and I believe that anyone in this life can attest to this truth uttered by Dantes; no one is foreign to suffering. Had he not endured such despair, I know that the havoc he wrought through vengence would not have come to pass, nor would he be a man of such depth and compassion or capable of such goodness at the same time. As he said, we must ‘wait and hope’ or in religious terms: Have faith and trust that Justice and Mercy will come from Our Father who ‘knoweth all things’ and will ‘exalt those who wait for Him.’

Ken and Jen Perkes - You and Mom impress me so much with your thirst for good books. I am also impressed with your ambition: not only do you not shy away from difficult classics, but you welcome them, devour them . . . and understand them! You are an enlightened mind. And as expressed so beautifully by Elder Uchtdorf, books are your current university!

You inspire me!

Love,

–Dad

Steak & Potato Salad…

I’ve always wanted to put a recipe on my blog, but at the same time I was waiting for something original that I’ve developed myself. This recipe is a hearty, manly ‘steak & potato meal’ meets ‘girly salad.’

Ingredients:
4 oz. ribeye steak / person
2 med. red potatoes / person
2 hearts of romaine lettuce
2 pkgs. Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Mix
Olive Oil

Dressing:
Fresh Parsley, Oregano, Basil
Capers
White Wine Vinegar
Soy Sauce
Minced Garlic
Limes
Sugar
S & P

1. Preheat the oven to 350.
2. Wash the potatoes and chop into bite size pieces.
3. Place potatoes in a large ziplock bag and add enough olive oil to coat thoroughly.
4. Add the dressing mix and shake well until all potatoes are coated.
5. Place a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet, and spread potatoes over it. Cook for about 15 mins.
6. Switch your oven to broil and cook for an additional 10 mins.
7. Wash lettuce and cut into a ‘disc’ about an 1 1/2″ half tall.
8. When the potatoes are about half way done, fire up the grill.
9. Slice the steak into 1/2″ strips and grill quickly, seasoning with S&P, until desired readiness.
10. While the steak cooks, place all dressing ingredients in a blender, or Magic Bullet. Unfortunately, I don’t really have exact measurements for the dressing ingredients, but ROUGHLY it is: a small handful of each fresh herb [washed, with stems removed], 1 T. capers & their juice, 2 T. Vinegar, 2 T. Soy Sauce, 1 T. minced garlic, 2 limes [zest lime peels on the smallest side of your grater, remove seeds and cut into quarters], 2 T. sugar and 1 t. S&P each.
11. Directly off the grill, place the steak on a serving of lettuce, and directly out of the oven, place the potatoes on top of the steak. Drizzle the dressing on top, garnish with a parsley leaf, serve and ENJOY!!!

*Note: Thanks to all who have helped me perfect this recipe, especially K-Toe for the pots part.

Bree - Yum!! I'll give a testimonial that this is delicious!!!! Thanks for sharing the recipe!!! I still need to get your ring of coconut cake and chicken milano recipes!! We should do an online recipe exchange or something!! :) Hope you guys are doing great! Sure miss hanging out!!

Ken and Jen Perkes - Hmmmm . . . that looks seriously good! . . . even to this RAW dieter.

Everything you do is cool; and even your recipes bring two uniquely great things together [just like you and Nate]!

HUGS and love!

–Dad

Book Worm…

as my big brother so affectionately calls me. The past 9 months have been the epitome of crazed reading for me. I have read 3 of the 9 books from the series The Chronicles of Narnia [having previously finished the first 7], 8 books for my Book Club, the trilogy The Uglies… and lately I’ve had a fixation with The Classics: The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Frankenstein.
But thanks to my Dad, I was introduced to one of the best books I’ve read in a LONG time: Dan Brown’s new novel THE LOST SYMBOL.


Aside from being a fascinating, suspense thriller, the story was riddled with theological and alchemical quotes and theories. The books main character, Robert Langdon, happens to be an agnostic/quasi-atheist. One line he delivers that I feel captivates his attitude is: “The Bible is all about the God above you and man as a powerless sinner.” While this may have been his opinion in the beginning of the novel, he passes through a spiritual journey that in the end converts him to at least a seedling of faith in a ‘higher power’ and our eternal and divine relation to ‘it’, whichever form ‘it’ may take.

Aside from Langdon and his realist views that set the tone of the book, the message of divinity and eternal progression was the main theme of the story. How refreshing to find a non-LDS main-stream novel laced with the eternal truths of the Restoration! It spoke of us as children of God and as potential Gods ourselves, yet still in our embryonic form. Two of my favorite quotes that I found in this story are: “Abandon the search for God… instead, take yourself as the starting place” and “a wise man once told me the only difference between you and God is that you have forgotten you are divine.”

Although not perfect, the story rang with truth and made me think ‘if there is anything… of good report, we seek after these things.’

I’m just finishing the original Phantom of the Opera, which, I might add, is COMPLETELY different from the story line of the Broadway Musical…

Coming up next on my Reading To-Do List: The Count of Monte Cristo, Dracula, Sherlock Holmes, Artemis Fowl, Jane Eyre, My Sisters Keeper and Eragon. Can’t Wait!

Anyone else read anything good lately?

Alexander - bobyyyyy i love you sooo much you beautiful woman!!!! hey i discovered this awesome series written by steve berry, its the cotton malone series and it is awesome… i started sort of in the middle of the series but you can start wherever right now im reading the charlamagne pursuit .. well actually im listening to it on CD but i started with the venetian betrayal but they are such good books. the auther incorporates myth, real history, and all this cool stuff into these action thrillers…

Meredith - Hey, don't forget Three Musketeers by Alexander Dumas. It is a wonderful classic. Actually, I have a lot of suggestions. Call me and I can email you the list. I love a good book!!

Shannon - I know. I was so disappointed when I read Phantom and found out that the production was not even close to accurate. They each have their merit though. What did you end up picking for your choices for book club? You have an extensive list here, I keep one in my phone for when I'm at the library. haha. Love you

The Irons - have i told you lately that you are my HERO!! seriously!! look at you you're beautiful! you're such an inspiration!! LOVE YOU FOREVER!! oh and I LOVE the main picture of you guys. you look SO happy and i love it! miss you:)

german&jenny - I absolutly LOVE the Langdon books! They are some of my favorites!! Im so glad that you found them…I still havent had time to read the Lost Symbol one but it is definitly my next book the read!

Ken and Jen Perkes - Luisa: Reading The Symbol with you at the cabin–stealing the book, back and forth–is definitely one of my fun memories from our trip. I still think about it and agree with you on its value: it is always fun to see our basic beliefs placed into a story as "mysterious and ancient truths that have been lost."

FOUND! RESTORED! Maybe we should start working on the sequel! : -)

HUGS!

–Dad

Emily - I LOVED My Sister's Keeper. Her books make you think afterwards. Quite a heart wrenching story though. You have a number of books on here that I might have to go look up. What is the trilogy The Uglies?? Love your blog! You look so happy!!

Coldsmoke Chalet!

Often times I wonder if God has His work cut out for Himself, considering that roughly, Heaven will be three times as beautiful as the Earth we live on. Based on what I can see, He has pretty fantastic taste and personally, I think my heaven is going to look a little like McCall.
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In honor of a visit from Mom and Dad, we made a trip up north to Cascade, Donnelly and McCall. We got a cabin named Coldsmoke Chalet for a few nights on the Tamarack ski resort! It was beyond schnazzy.
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We kept our days pretty action packed, trying to take advantage of every moment we had together! We celebrated TWO birthdays! Happy Birthday Gracie and MOM!!! We also went out to the piers in downtown McCall… tried out a local burger place… went hot tubing… had a little BBQ… played games… went 4-wheeling [We were pretty concerned about offending the local Democrats with the off roading of our 4-wheelers, but we tried not to be too destructive to the wildlife habitat].
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We went mountain biking [and Nate took quite a spill... thank goodness there were no major injuries, though].
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There was MUCH photography going on during the trip. Mom and Nate were in heaven with all the beautiful scenery… and people. Just kidding. I love that Nate isn’t scared to get down and dirty for the perfect shot.
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We went exploring around the lakes in McCall.
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Have you seen Nate’s amazing tree stump pictures on his blog?
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We did our research and found a natural hot spring!
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The cool thing about these springs was that we could control the temperature. There were a few little pipes that we could use to let in cool water if it got too hot. We rotated positions, because some spots were boiling hot, others were cool and they ALL felt fantastic. The water made our skin feel silky.
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And of course, there were some nature walks and hikes. Nate and I went 4-wheeling as far as we could up the mountain side and then we hiked farther because we could hear water. We found this beautiful little waterfall and boulders covered in moss.
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The deer weren’t very intimidated by us.
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Nate took this picture of me on a cute highway in Cascade.
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When we got back to Star, Nate and I decided to make a traditional African meal that he had quite often on his mission. It is called Pap [pronounced Pop], and it is white corn meal mush. It has no flavor, kind of like plain cream of wheat and you eat it with your hands. We had Seven Colors [which is usually reserved for special occassions in Africa and consists of vegetables, sauces, and meat to have in addition to your Pap]. Eating with my hands made me feel like such a kid again!!
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Having Mom and Dad with us is always an adventure and we LOVE being with them. They bring such happiness and excitement. Their grandchildren adore them. I consider them one of the greatest blessings that my marriage has brought to my life. Thank you Mom and Dad for an AMAZING weekend! We love you and we miss you already.

Shannon - That must have been so much fun. YAY for you guys.

Mike and Ariane - Fun. Great photos. Love the expression on Papa Perkes on the ATV!

Bree - What a gorgeous area!! Looks like you guys had such a BLAST!!! We miss you guys and sure hope to keep in touch!!

K. Elizabeth - Looks like you had a blast and it is beautiful!

Jeralyn - Hey Lady! Its true… We should be more in touch! Shame on me, or you, or someone! :) Darling post… WHAT FUN!! SO, I've decided that Mom & Dad have quite the life! I wish I could travel around and see all of us all the time ;) Your blog is always so cute. Love you & miss you guys lots. -jhp

Ken and Jen Perkes - Luisa, you sweetie, that was so kind . . . and wonderful! We did have a great time, didn't we?! The photos you posted and your skilled commentary brought it all back in such a beautiful way. What a treasure!

Much love,

–Dad

"Would you love me more if…

… I looked like Hugh Jackman?” -Nate
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Of course, my answer was: “There’s no way I could love you more than I do already.”
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*Note: When your husband comes to you impersonating your favorite actor, treat him like your favorite actor. -Dr. Laura

Ken and Jen Perkes - You guys are too funny!!!

–Dad

Blast from the Past…

As most of you know, Nate and I have known each other close to 9 years now. We are getting ready to move soon, so I have been dejunking and organizing to my hearts content. I found these pictures in an old shoe box. Our kids are going to get a kick out of these.
It was fun to see how much time has passed, to remember old friends and old jokes… just reminiscing about the ‘good ol’ days’, although we would NEVER trade them for our ‘todays’.

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Crazy, huh?

Guess we got kinda lucky.

Bree - Haha!! I LOVE these!! You guys (mostly Nate ;) ) look like babies!! I just love that you guys were friends for so long and ended up together! How perfect! I think I said this last time, but I hope we get together soon!! Maybe we can plan something for this weekend?? :)

Mike and Ariane - How fun! You guys look like babies! So sweet!

Pappa Perkes - Wowzers!!!

Talk about young love! How many people can go back that far? How fun you actually have pictures of you when you were teenagers together. Nate looks like such a kid! It is fun to be reminded that your lives have been drawing you to each other for quite some time.

HUGS!

–Dad

Jenny - My luisa!! I've missed you too!! I consider myself exteamly blessed to have your friendshoip in my life!! I am also very lucky in that I had the oppertunity to see you after the mish and meet your wonderful husband. I love the last picture at the MTC! It was great having you there with me and hearing your guys great love story! Where are you guys moving to? No worries somehow we will see eachother again. I guess what you would say is that we have a TRUE friendship going back about 6 years and only have seen eachother a couple times!
TE QUIERO mi querida amiga!

My Trip Home…

While Nate was away enjoying the California beaches, I hit up the opposite coast. I got to go home to Boston to be in my best friends wedding. It was a FANTASTIC time! I got to see and spend a lot of time with my family, and I enjoyed every second of it!
Here is my Nelly, the most gorgeous bride!
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And here I am with my two sisters! We made an Oreo cookie, since my older sister Shannon is such a whitie!
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At the wedding, I even got to meet and approve of her new flame; an innate sisterly responsibility that I take upon myself VERY seriously.

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The one thing I don’t like about New England is the humidity… it’s like being in a sauna. Well, one afternoon, we had a downpour, and it felt so fantastic I got my two youngest siblings to dance with me in the rain!
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…AND splash in the puddles.
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I went swimming at the beach in the FREEZING cold water with my amazing Mom and my little brother, Alex!
Oh, and that’s Earl the Seagull, making his claim to fame.
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After swimming, we got the famous Salisbury beach fudge and took these old fashioned pix, as well. Sorry, Bubba! Wish you could have fit!

Then, I got to spend time with my Grandmothers. Featured here is my Grammy Pat, but I was especially grateful to be able to see my Abuela, of whom I didn’t get to take any pictures. She just got out of some serious knee surgery and so I reveled in the chance to sit in bed next to her and drill her with questions. She always has the most amazing stories and she’s one of my heroes.
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My darling family is always so accomodating when I come home, and I recognize their sweet efforts in making me feel so special. From special traditions and family games, to favorite foods and local dives… sigh.
Home Sweet Home…

Janelle - You are so amazing!!!!!!!!! I couldnt have made it through the day without you. Gosh I wish our childhood dream would come true so that we could live on the same corner sipping lemonade with and getting waffle bottoms from our lounge chairs as we sit on the stoop. I miss youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu gosh i wish god could make the world a pangea already with your house right next to mine.

Ken and Jen Perkes - Your photos are like a window to your soul, Luisa: dancing in the rain, loving grandparents and siblings. I hurts that you were so close and that I was in trial mode.

But in just a couple of weeks . . .

Can't wait to be with you, Nate, and the rest of the Boise Perkes clan!

Love,

–Dad

Bree - Looks like you had such a great time back home with your family! Love the pics of you dancing in the rain!! :) Hope we get together soon!!!

The Irons - bobbie,
You look BEAUTIFUL and SOOO HAPPY!!! i LOVe how happy you are with your family. I MISS that SMILE like crazy!! i LOVE YA TONS !
te quiero amiga,
Queenie
p.s. i'm so glad you were able to go back home for Nelly's wedding. she looked so pretty!

The California Adventures of Nate and Mom

Recently, my Mom and I had the opportunity to attend a workshop by Mike Colon, a high end photographer in California. But it wasn’t only the workshop that was amazing, although that was definitely the highlight of the trip. The entire trip was one amazing adventure after another. Mom and I had a blast and I have to publicly thank Mom for being online and calling me at 4 a.m. to tell me that Mike just posted a new workshop and spots were going quickly. Here’s how it all played out:

We both landed at about 11 am and quickly got our car, checked into our hotel (after doing a few ‘U-ies’ and thanks to Mapquest and my ‘amazing’ navigational skills [I mean, good thing I brought my GPS]. We then headed straight to the coast, which wasn’t far.

Here’s HUNTINGTON, a place I’ve always wanted to go!!! We hit up Newport as well. Here are some pics of both beaches and the surfers and the lifestyle and everything else that I LOVED!!! I could seriously get used to this kind of life: lunch on the beach, watching the surfers, going swimming, feet in the sand, sun, waves…

Here’s the Newport pier.
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The waves were 6-7 foot swells that day!!!
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Our friend Nigel.
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Half the fun for me was taking pictures of my Mom taking pictures. Here she is in her element:
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My Mom snagged this one when we traded cameras for a bit.
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At Huntington, Mom convinced me to rent a board and go surfing (you wouldn’t think I’d need convincing, but it’s true!) Here are a few surfing shots.
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And as our most wonderful day ended…
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We hung out around Huntington as the sun went down and just soaked up all the fun energy from that place. It was gorgeous. Perfect weather. Tons of laughing. Goofing around. Lots of photography. Plus, I didn’t die surfing, so that was a plus.
We woke up Tuesday morning, had a quick breakfast and then headed over to Mike Colon’s house in Newport. Check out his work here. He just shot Usher’s and Timberland’s wedding, and his minimum fee’s are 20k per event. He’s an incredibly humble but super succesful person and has built up quite a reputation for himself in the high end wedding photography world.
Now here, I’m not going to talk about the workshop and what I learned there. I did more of a technical post on my photography blog. But here are a few sample images from the shoot he provided for us. He hired professional models in designer gowns and we took them out at sunset. There were seven people in the workshop, including Mom and I.
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The workshop ended around 9:30pm and afterwards Mom and I were so full of energy and excitement from the things we had learned that we couldnt go back to the hotel. We drove south down the coast, past Newport, past Laguna until we found a cool little beach that I think was called South Laguna Beach. It was gorgeous. HUGE waves crashed right on the steep sand creating a salty mist in the air. What a great way to end a perfect trip. Great thanks to Mike for wonderful things learned and for being so hospitable and humble. And to Mom, thanks so much for everything! Can’t wait to do it again someday, maybe in St. Lucia with Joe McNally…

K. Elizabeth - Okay, so Nate – you don't know me, but I know your darling Luisa and i think she's amazing. I just have to tell you, I know a lot of people that call themselves photographers because they have a fancy camera and they take pretty cool pictures sometimes. I was kind of over the whole, "I'm a photographer" thing a while back, but every time I look at your web-site I am amazed at your talent. It's more than just saying, "I'm a photographer." You really have an incredible talent and it shows. Thanks so much for sharing your art and gift. I look forward to more pictures!

Bree - Gorgeous pics Nate!! Glad the workshop was so great!!

Ken and Jen Perkes - HEY! Isn't that my swimsuit you're wearing?!!

I hope it looks half as cool on me!

–Dad

Skipping Stones… or People??

I’ve never been one for fast paced adventure or dangerous athletics like Nate. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the thrill, it’s just that HE was entirely built for it. Knowing this about him before we were married, I shouldn’t be surprised as he surpasses me at every physical challenge we face. This summer has been one for ‘behind-the-boat’ action and wakeboarding has been our FIRST choice!

This is my very first time on a wakeboard. Note the surprise on my face that I ACTUALLY got up my first try.

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In stark contrast, this was Nate’s first try…
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Just teasing… it wasn’t his FIRST try, but close enough.
I’ve been spoiled with A LOT of glassy water…

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… but Nate doesn’t really need glassy water. He spends most of his time in the air anyways.
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My feeble attempt to be as cool as my husband!!

[Definition of Feeble: 1- markedly lacking in strength; indicating weakness 2- deficient in qualities or resources that indicate vigor, force, or efficiency. That's me.]
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He just chuckled and said: ‘Look what I can do! One handed!’ Personally, I think he looks like a figure skater when he lands with the one hand like that.
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I’m just happy to stay up as long as possible.

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Nate’s not ALL bravado, however. Turns out he has a weakness when it comes to ‘tubing’. These are our other ‘behind-the-boat’ activities.

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Wakesurfing is something new and exciting! We tried it for the first time earlier this summer and we LOVE it! It’s nice to crash when you are only going 10-11 miles an hour.
It’s so great we even have 3 surfer kids, too!
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This is the cool boat we use: The Epic! Here we are taking the office boys out on the same lake that we swam for our Emmett Triathlon!
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And finally, one of our ABSOLUTE favorite things about boating is how much time we get to spend with the kidlets. I adore these guys! Especially when Ben says to me before I go wakesurfing: “Wisa, you’re gonna do great! I KNOW IT!!”
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Maybe Nate’s got something right about being scared of the tube.
It seems the boys got a big fat kick out of seeing me skip across the water for about 30 feet.
[Video No Longer Available] – Refer to Post on 14 Nov 2009

That’s what I get for taunting my big brother…

Bree - Love the pictures and commentary, you are so cute Luisa! Glad you guys have had SO much fun boating this summer, we've sure had fun tagging a long a few times! :)

Mike and Ariane - Wow! I'm impressed you can ski in those ear rings!

Nate and Luisa Perkes - Hey babe…it's me! Nate, I know, weird commenting on our own blog…but this is really YOUR blog. So here I go. First off…if anyone didnt finish the movie…watch till the end as she skips across the water. Poor girl, but there I am in the background laughing. Love you! And second of all, I have to tip my hat, because her SECOND time on the wakeboard, as she's getting tired she decided she's just going to go dynamite on a jump and let go of the rope. That takes a lot of guts on just your second time up. Baby…you're amazing!

Love,

Nate

Ken and Jen Perkes - Luisa: Those pictures are GREAT! All of them. I love the look of surprise on your face in the first picture . . . and your pre-wipeout picture is pretty fun too. But, honestly, you look great on the board!

And Nate . . . my word!!! I can't believe his air pictures! There is one I really love [the second one]. Great shot!

Also, the one of Jake and Gracie is really cool!

But, being a grandpa, perhaps my favorite is you and the kiddies! Very sweet.

Most of all, it is just fun to see you all having fun! Thanks for sharing!

–Dad

Let’s Play Catch Up…

These past few months there have been SO many things going on that I haven’t been able to keep up. I thought that I’d make a giant effort on just one big post to catch up on everything I’ve missed!

The craziness all started on June 29th… Kate’s Birthday! Here’s to our lovely Kate who thrives as the mom extraordinaire!! What an example she is to me, and I am eternally grateful for her kindness and support!

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We next celebrated the 4th of July!! It was a fantastic time! We collaborated with friends and family to have a KILLER firework show right in our own front yard! HURRAY for our free country!

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The day after that, July 5th, was “Baby” Nate’s Birthday, who is not so much a baby anymore! He is one of the cutest kids around! Last night at a restaurant, when he was served his meal he said, referring to our waitress: ‘That lady was so nice! She brought me macaroni and cheese!’ I love this little boy and HE sure loved that Lightning McQueen cake!

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July 5th – With all of the celebration of life – births, birthdays, even the birth of our country- I guess the heavens would tend to remind us that death, as well, has an important part of our existence. My Grandfather, Bernardo Morales, passed away the same day as Nate’s birthday. My fondest memory of him is a pair of pajamas he gave to me when I was probably 5 or 6 years old. On the front was Garfield hugging his Teddy Bear, and saying ‘Te Quiero.’ I asked my Abuelo what that meant and he said: ‘I love you.’

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July 11th – A few days after that, the ADVENTURES WITH KAIA began [I'm sure you've seen some of the pictures Nate has posted on his blog]. This gorgeous little gem is Nate’s cousin and we watched her for a week while her family took a not-so-baby-friendly vacation to the San Juan Islands. She was such a delight! I LOVED having the sights, the sounds, and yes, even the smells of a baby in our home. She was exuberant and a joy to us. I miss her dearly.

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Julia was blessed on July 12th and it was a beautiful day to me. The little dress Jules is wearing was the same dress Kate AND Gracie wore for their blessings. I believe it was made by Kate’s Grandma. And the bracelet was provided by Mom Perkes, which tied all the loose ends together. Despite what this picture might say about Julia, she is NOT a grumpy baby. That grimace is just due to those chunky cheeks!

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July 13th – Jake’s Turn!!! Happy Birthday to the big brother I never had! This day marked the starting point of all the wake boarding madness that currently encompasses our family. Kate planned a surprise birthday party for Jake and I haven’t been that giddy in a long time. Kate put a TON of time, effort and research into picking out the perfect gift for him. It paid off. It was a top of line ’09 Hyperlite Wake Board! More to come on THAT topic on a later post; wake boarding is taking over our family!!!

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July 15th, two short days after that, another member was added to our family!! Claire Brooke came into the world, perfectly healthy and happy, as our newest niece. She is Nate’s oldest brothers’ fourth child!

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July 25th- My turn, I guess! I’ve never been treated so well as I was on this day. Nate went ALL OUT and gave his all in planning the perfect day for me. He surprised me by taking the day off, taking me jetskiing, planning the perfect picnic lunch, and then taking me to the AMAZING Harry Potter movie. After that, we went home, had my favorite pizza EVER [DiGiorno's Stuffed Crust Rising Pepperoni Pizza], and fell asleep to School of Rock, one of the funniest movies of all time. During our picnic, Nate made me cry, which is a technique that many a seasoned jeweler has used before: ‘Make her cry and the diamond not only sparkles, but looks twice the size as well.’ Using the excuse of cleaning my engagement ring, he went and bought a wedding band that matches perfectly. It is beautiful and I finally have a band!!

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This is how I felt by the end of the day….

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As if to complete the perfection of my day, I got an impromptu visit from one of my dearest friends and mission companions. Ashlea Hass is one of my cherished ones and she came to ID with her sweet husband Eric for a family event. And look at her belly!!! She’s NEVER been more beautiful.

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I LOVE entertaining guests! This is us at breakfast: Stuffed French Toast! YUM!!

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I had one more visitor for my birthday. Does it get any better?!?! Since childhood, ‘Bindy’, or Belinda has been one of my favorite aunts. She came to visit us with her husband Paris, and two crazy dogs! I love my Aunt Bindy.

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August 5th – 11 VERY short days later… Nate got his birthday wish granted. I found a SMOKIN’ deal on this get up…

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…and this was his reaction. As a wife, can it get any more satisfying!?!?

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This is Nate, trying his cool moves on his new wake board. Jake was kind enough to help me with the execution of this day.

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After a LONG day of wake boarding in the very hot sun, we went home, took an hour nap and then got all dressed up to have a nice, classy dinner in downtown Boise. The Melting Pot, a fondue restaurant, is our new favorite place to eat. They treated us LIKE ROYALTY, with complimentary Pina Coladas, a birthday presentation and a coupon for $20 off!

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After that, we watched Nate’s favorite TV Show, Wipeout, and presented him with his FAVORITE cake ever, ‘Ring of Coconut Bundt Cake’! It was a VERY intimidating recipe. Mom, thanks for your help!

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August 7th – My Dad also had a birthday this month. Wish I could have been at home to celebrate with him. I miss him dearly. This picture, although humorous and endearing, has a lot of symbolic value to it as well. It embodies two of my Dad’s favorite scriptures: ‘…wear yourself out in the service of the Lord’ and ‘…you should not run faster than you have strength.’
I love you Daddy and Happy Birthday.

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Canning & GardeningA never ending part of this summer!! I LOVE gardening! And now I LOVE canning as well!

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To finish it off, we had one final visitor… actually, captive, I guess. I did catch him and trap him in a vase for a couple of hours. That eliminates the ‘guest’ possibility.

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This has probably been one of the happiest months of my life. I feel SO full and complete.
Life is good.

Marlie - Your post is a timely cobitrnution to the debate

miss jen - Luisa, I hope you don't mind but I found your blog and just had to peek at it. I'm THRILLED that you have become the woman you are today. It looks like you've got a great guy and a good life. Good for you. Love you, Jen Lambert

Mandy - WOW! What a fun and fulfilling summer you guys have had! Way to go on the veggies! You are amazing Luisa!!

Linda - Sounds like a great summer, and I'm glad Kaia was one of the good things about your summer! Very impressed with the garden. I have my worse garden in years, and am sad I don't have more produce! Maybe next year! I love reading your blog because you make everything seem like a party! It jsut makes me happy to read it!

Bree - Holy cow–what a FUN month! I'm glad we got to have a little part in some of it! :) You two are such a fun couple!! I love all the pictures!! Oh, and HELLO—your veggies are awesome!! You've gotten me excited for our garden next summer!!

Jen Perkes - What a fun whirlwind of a month or two. Wow! And that didn't include your triathlon adventures. What great photos and sweet words to express your months.

I LOVE the picture of Katie,….my goodness she looks happy and content — you'd never guess that she was a mother of 4 rambunctious kids (not to mention a rather rowdy Jake)!

The cake looks amazing!!! Definately a contest winner.

Thanks so much for sharing. Can't wait until next month to get to see you and get in on some of that play action.

Love! Mom

Ken and Jen Perkes - I can't imagine why you haven't had more time for blogging this summer! Ha!

Anyway, I loved the summer update. Great photo of Kate and "Baby" Nate. As always, your blog is a delight to see and read!

I think I will copy you and do a one-post catchup of our summer fun on our blog . . . I am SO behind!

Love,

–Dad

Try-Try-Tri!!

So…this is Nate. Now, I know I rarely [if ever, I think] post on this blog, but I’m making a special guest appearance to post about Luisa’s SECOND and my first triathlon. She’s amazing! I do have to apologize in advance, however, because this won’t be quite as witty and clever as Luisa’s posts are. Let me just start out by talking numbers so you can get an idea of how wimpy I am, and what a tough cookie my wife is:

Nate’s Sprint Tri:
Swim: 500 Yards
Bike: 12.4 Miles
Run: 3.1 Miles

Luisa’s Olympic Tri:
Swim: 1 Mile
Bike: 24.9 Miles
Run: 6.2 Miles

As you can see, Luisa’s Tri was twice as long as mine in almost everything except for the swim, which was THREE times longer. Here are some pictures from the day.
Here’s Luisa and I before our swim…feeling nervous!!
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Here’s Luisa and Chelsea, our friend from Church who also did the Olympic Tri with Luisa.
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Here I am stretching…..or something.
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Luisa’s last leg of the run.
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Finish!!
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The power team of girls that did the Triathlon after finishing!
[Luisa's Inspirational Friends- Chelsea and Blu!]
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The weather was much nicer than Luisa’s last tri, which was about 104 degrees. The morning was quite cold and the water was freezing, but other than that, it was ideal for a triathlon. Overall, it was an amazing experience. I honestly think I had a smile on my face for most of the race because it was just so wonderful having everyone there cheering you on. Even people as they passed you or as you passed them, would say, “Way to go! Keep it going! You’re doing great!!!” Although, I do have to admit, while doing the Triathlon in my mind I was saying: “WHYYYY?!?!?! What on earth would provoke me to do this!?!?! I’m never doing this again!” and honestly, the minute after I crossed the finish line, the first thing I thought was, “Let’s do that again!” It was a fabulous day! Hopefully, there will be many more events to come and, of course, we’ll post about them all!
…..
P.S. Luisa Here. I just needed to add a side comment to Nate’s narrative.
It was a really tough experience. I don’t think I’ve ever challenged myself physically as I did that day. It paid off though! Apparently, I burned about 2300-2500 calories!! Aside from that, I feel like a tribute is in order for a person I “met” during this event. Right off, during the swim I was one of the slower of the Olympic women. I found a person who I thought I could match in speed and promised myself to stick with that person for the rest of the swim. All I could see was #359 on her swim cap. I passed her about half way through the swim, but when I was in the transition area preparing for my bike, I saw her and she was actually an older lady. I headed off on my bike, and about half way through I peeked back and saw her on my tail. We kind of passed eachother back and forth for a couple miles, but eventually, she over took me and I saw written on the back of her leg [where they write our age, number and the event we are doing, whether it be the Sprint, the Olympic or the Aquabike], and Mrs. 359 was 69 years old!!! I couldn’t believe it. I was competing for endurance, fitness, strength and speed with a woman who could be my grandmother.
…..
*Dear #359: You are amazing. I hope someday I can write ’69′ on the back of my left calf and know that I have lived as fully as you. My admiration is yours. Sincerely, #203

Shannon - Oh my goodness. Way proud of you both!! Natey, I told you the day you got married that you would never have the upper hand again. LOL! Here goes Luisa, still proving it.

***Wisa, I had a Mom moment. I was totally tearing up when I read about the 69 year old woman.

Smooches to you!!

The Perkes Family - You guys are awesome, I love hearing about everyones experiences as they accomplish their goals, and prove to themselves that they can exceed all expectations of themselves. Its the best feeling, Way to go you Two!

Ken and Jen Perkes - Nate: Guess you really are an ATHLETE!!! We are very proud of you. Now let's see what you can do when you train! Just try and keep up with your amazing wifey!

Luisa: YOU ARE AN UBER-ATHLETE!!! I don't even know anyone who has completed an Olympic Triathlon! And it is so you to feature another inspiring woman–quickly diverting the spotlight off of you. Luisa, there is no doubt that you will be sucking the marrow from life well into your sixties and beyond! I am so incredibly proud of you!!!

Wish I could crown your head with a wreath of laurel leaves. You deserve it, you mighty Olympian!

Hugs with deep admiration!

–Dad

Mandy - WAY TO GO you guys! You are awesome for doing that! I love the grandma story…how awesome is that!!?? We should all be that motivated.

Bree - Wow wow wow!!!! You two are so awesome!! Nate–you didn't even train?? You're crazy, but way to go!!!! :) Sounds like you've got "the fever". Luisa–how are you smiling thru it all?? I love how happy and positive you are! I'm proud of you!! I have no doubt you'll be doing this in your 60s. :D

Brooke - I AM AMAZED! Way to go Nate…that's exactly how I feel, too…why on earth am I doing this! And then the minute it's over I can't wait to do it again. I'm really impressed! And Luisa–you are Wonderwoman. I really am blown away that you completed those distances. YOU ARE AN INSPIRATION TO US ALL. I actually can't wait to get back into tri's. First things first, though…I'm still working on having the strength to vaccuum. During our date last Friday, Josh and I spent a few hours at Scheels. I bought some Zoot tri shorts in anticipation of the day I can compete again. We should pick a race next summer, maybe when we come visit in Boise, that we could all do together. I would love do one with you. Great job, both of you!

‘By the Sweat of Thy Brow Shalt Thou Eat Thy Bread…’

I remember being a little girl and being slightly opposed to my mom buying beer for the strawberries in our garden. [Apparently it scares away slugs or something]. Since then, I have always been intrigued to know the secrets of botany, specifically pertaining to a family garden. Nate and I are renting the house we are living in at the moment, so having a full garden wasn’t an option. When, at church, they announced the ‘community garden’, I was excited for the opportunity to learn from the pros. Since then, I’ve been obsessed.
Let me explain how it all works:
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The county donated this vacant lot of land to the two women who headed up this project. We began with about 11 families, but currently we have five. Each family is to work in the garden approx. 4 hours a week. We water three times a week, and we are each assigned a day. We have planted SO much that dividing up the produce fairly and evenly has not been an issue.
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The first things we planted were onions, beets, radishes and carrots. These are ‘cold hearty’ plants so they could survive the last frosts of Spring.By April14h, we had EVERYTHING else in the ground. ‘Everything else’ entails: watermelon, honeydew melons, cantaloupe, pumpkins, squash, zuchinni…
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… tomatoes, peas, green beans, potatoes, cucumbers, peppers, broccoli, cabbage…
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… and corn!!! We have a cherry tree on the property as an added bonus!!
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We planted everything from seed besides the peppers and the tomatoes. Those particular plants are too sensitive to the cold, so it would have been too late to plant them when the weather finally warmed up.

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Not only have I learned about planting, I’ve been learning about how to use all the produce we grow. My first lesson in canning was with pickled beets. We will be canning A LOT and I’ve been collecting jars from garage sales since March. We’ll can sour kraut, LOTS of pickles, tomato sauce, soup and salsa. I’ve been learning how to make zuchinni muffins, brownies, bread, and cookies. I’ve cooked stir fries using peppers, radishes and peas. I’ve made a super easy, fast casserole with chicken, cheese and broccoli.

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I’ve made ‘Corned Beef and Cabbage’ with potatoes, carrots and cabbage.
[My mom would be so proud. She's Irish.....

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... AND Italian]. Using my mom’s famous spaghetti sauce recipe, I used onions from the garden.

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I think the favorite thing that I’ve made would be a salad with cucumbers, beets, feta cheese and a light dressing I made with limes, soy sauce, and fresh basil and oregano from my herb garden. I use the same dressing on a steak and potato salad I make using potatoes from the garden [featured above].

It feels so good to be able to eat organic produce for so cheap. Monetarily, I’ve only had to contribute $20 to pitch in for some straw and the starter tomatoes. I LOVE eating the ‘fruits of my labor.’ Nothing is so satisfying, especially after tasting that first vine-ripened tomato of the season.
Some Things That I’ve Learned:
  • Tomatoes HATE wind and they don’t have high light requirements because they are tropical plants.
  • Marigolds and chives are natural bug repellants… especially to aphids. Plant them around the border of your garden or sporadically in your patch.
  • Plant garlic in the fall and you’ll have a spring harvest. They are a cold hearty plant.
  • Rabbit manure is the best fertilizer overall, but turkey manure makes the best strawberries.
  • Onions and cucumbers require A LOT of water. If cucumbers don’t get enough water, they’ll be bitter.
  • Hill [pile large mounds of dirt] around your potato plants to get twice as many.

Belinda - Luisa, I am so proud of you! You are following in your grandfather's steps as well as your mom and dads. Grampy had a share in a community garden when we lived in Amesbury as well. As you know he was an avid gardener. I have been wanting to have a garden for a while, but I haven't had anyone standing there teaching me like you have. What a great opportunity that was for you. Now you can do as the Prophets have counseled and grow your own food. I love you so much. It was great to see you and Nate as we were passing through Boise on July 26th. I was impressed with the life you and Nate have made for yourselves. You are a beautiful couple! Keep it up! Learn as much as you can. Who knows when the little ones will come and then you will be very busy.
I look forward to your next blog!
Love Auntie Bindy

Ken and Jen Perkes - P.S. I LOVED the garden tour! I heard it mixed with "Dream Big." It was the perfect background music!

Ken and Jen Perkes - These last three posts say it all: LUISA YOU ARE A WONDER WOMAN!!! You ambitious lady!!!

I love your garden; it's beautiful.

Save a tomato for us in September!!! . . . or sneak one on the plane in August . . .

Can't wait to see you guys!

–Dad

Home Improvement…

Most married couples can sympathesize with having an empty house at the beginning of their marriage. They’ll understand the echo that happens in most rooms of their house. They’ll understand having picnics for all meals or eating at their Grandmother’s card table or sleeping on an air mattress in the living room. Piece by piece, Nate and I have been making our empty house a home. But the newest item has been something of a growing experience for me.

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I found this table at a garage sale about 3 months ago. I bought it for $125. I was told that was a steal for a real maple table. I thought I could kind of jazz it up, refinish it, buy some cool chairs. You know, make it our own. Nate wasn’t AS enthused as I was for this project. He didn’t quite have the vision I did, but part of the reason I bought the table, was that at R.C. Willey, this style was his favorite and was what we were saving up to buy for $900, 4 chairs included.
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Things I love about it: the counter height, the drop-down leaves, the jig-saw puzzle pieces, the square AND circular shape, and the SIZE!
It is a 46 1/2 inch square and a 66 inch circle.
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I researched for weeks. I didn’t want to ruin the wood by making any mistakes, nor did I want to paint it, hearing that ‘painting real wood is a cardinal sin’ in the carpentry world. Originally, I went with a dark red mahogany stain. I had a deadline, with Nate’s aunt and uncle coming to stay with us in ONE WEEK!
Stripping the wood was the hardest part. It took 3 days and multiple applications.
The DAY BEFORE they came, I bumped into a professional refinisher who told me [long story short] that I couldn’t get the look I wanted with a stain. I changed my game plan, bought ALL new materials, and went to town on my table for the next 14 hours. Since the hardest part was already complete [stripping the wood], I did some very light sanding, an application of wood conditioner, two coats of black paint, more sanding, two coats of sienna glaze and then 4 coats of varnish. What you get after all that is:
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We got the chairs [4] and the stools [2] at a couple of different locations. They cost approximately $370. After all the materials, the table, stools and the chairs, I spent about $550. My neighor who also happens to be a carpenter estimated the post-refinishing value of the table alone at $450-500!! YAY!!
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I used an antiguing technique called ‘distressing’ to get the edges to have that burnt look. The glaze I used serves two purposes: it gives the edges that orange color, but it also helps the table have some depth so it is not just a flat blue-black color. FINALLY, we have a place to eat and a place to feed company and play games!! It feels great!!!
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*Special Thanks to: Todd for all the amazing advice and coaching, Mike at Dreamworks Furniture for saving my skin, Brother Marlin for the wood conditioner, Jake and Kate for the tarp and especially MANDY for inspiring me, motivating me and for being my ‘mode of transportation’ with this thing!

Belinda - Luisa you are an inspiration! It really is beautiful. I felt honored to be able to sit at your table with such good company when we visited. I'm just sorry that we couldn't have stayed longer, although I don't know if you could have taken anymore of us! Especially witht the dogs barking the whole time. Sorry about that. Thankyou for your hospitality and the sandwhiches to go! You are very thoughtful. I know what you mean about starting out with very little! Paris and I had to sleep on the floor in our second apartment in SLC(the first one was furnished). We didn't have room for a table like yours. It was a little tiny apartment. But we could dream. I told Paris that I wished we could have a fireplace so we could snuggle by it. So he made a fireplace out of paper and taped it to our old fashioned steam heater that would go clunk clunk all night.

K. Elizabeth - I am so glad you explained what you did because I'm planning to do the exact same thing to our table and you saved me a lot of time researching. Not to mention – it looks amazing!!

Bree - Luisa–I LOOOOVE it!! It turned out so great. You are such a Renaissance woman!

The Perkes Family - It's more beautiful in person! I can't believe you actually went through with it. I would sit and stare at it telling myself, I need to work on it, then 5 years would go by and I would just end up buying a new table, never to have finished the first! =) Way to go girl!

Ken and Jen Perkes - And she runs triathlons in her spare time . . .

I LOVE the table, Luisa! When Mom and I were at your stage, I made our table out of a wine barrel and a round piece of plywood. Not even close to as cool as your table–which I guarantee you will keep. It is a classic!!! [You will notice we don't still have the wine barrel.]

GREAT JOB!!!

–Dad

Mandy - AHHHHHHH! I'm stunned! It looks GORGEOUS Luisa! I'm SO jealous we don't live here, because I totally would have had a bidding war with you when we picked up the thing! HAHA! Way to go girl! You are SO talented! What a DEAL in the end! I would pay like over a 1000 for this with the chairs and stools included! Awesome!

Nathan - Luisa doesnt quite do herself justice. She worked on this SO stinkin hard. And it turned out amazing!!! She did all the research, talked to so many different people, and busted her bum off to finish this project. In short…you're amazing baby. Great job!

Jennifer - Luisa~

That table is BEAUTIFUL! You did a great job. Congrats!