Sunday, December 30, 2007

Christmas Vacation 2007

This year's Christmas Vacation viewing was hosted by Krista. David and I had only been back a couple of days, so we did not get too crazy with out costumes this year. Thank you for the loan of the coat, Mom! :)

Todd, on the other hand, turned a roll and a half of duct tape into a silver jogging suit. It was really something!

Wedding Pictures on Flickr!

Wedding pictures are now on Flickr! Click here to see them. I picked 150 or so of my favorites from the 1700 pictures that our photographer took.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

At the Blue Heaven Rendezvous

On our last day, we had planned to go on a kayaking tour. We woke up to rain, heavy winds, and a call from the kayak guide. No kayaking today. I was disappointed, but now it's just a reason that we'll have to go back. The day was much improved by breakfast at Blue Heaven. Jimmy Buffett sings a song about the Blue Heaven Rendezvous. We never figured out whether the restaurant or the song came first, but we did find out that Jimmy once did an impromptu concert there and sang that song. On our way out, a couple offered to take this picture for us. It was their third day in Key West and the third day they'd eaten breakfast there.
Our wedding was not the end of our journey to wedded bliss. Here we are at Mile 0 on U.S. Highway 1. A new beginning on our road...

On our last day in Key West, we had lunch at B.O.'s Fish Wagon. Our friend Scott had recommended it to us. His description was perfect and we knew exactly when we'd found it. It looks like a strong wind might blow it down. An eclectic mix of woods and metals make up the "building" and large spools serve as tables. David had one of their world-famous conch sandwiches and I ate a deep-fried hot dog. Delicious!
The sunset cooperated on our last evening at Mallory Square with a beautiful display before fading into the clouds. We finished our day where we'd begun - back to Blue Heaven for dinner in their beautiful candlelit courtyard.

The next day, we woke up early and headed north to the Clearwater airport. It's strange to think that in just one day, we watched the sun rise over the keys and saw traces of remaining snow on the north side of our yard. Key West is a place that I'm sure will call us back someday.

Boats on Parade

Saturday found us at the beach again. We just couldn't get enough. It was an extremely windy day, which kept us nice and cool while we snoozed in the sun. Amazingly enough, neither of us got much of a sunburn. Even the groom, who is not much of a believer in sunscreen. :)
Earlier in the week, we'd seen a large sign advertising a lighted boat parade at the Historic Seaport. It seems that everyone else on the island had also seen the sign, so we joined the masses to watch the festive boats. All of the boats were brightly lit, my favorite was the large sailboat with a lighted outline of the world.

Havana Daydreamin'

We had visited the Southernmost Point several times, but it was always difficult to get a picture. Not surprisingly, it's a pretty popular photo spot. Once we realized that few people were out and about before 10 a.m., we decided that was the time to go. A nice woman from Canada took this picture for us.
Next to the Southernmost Point is the Southernmost Christmas Tree.
Next we took a tour of Key West on the Conch Tour Train. We saw parts of the island we hadn't yet been to, and learned a lot about the history of KW.
In the afternoon, David rented a scooter for us to tootle around on. Yes, we BOTH rode on it. I will admit that it was very fun, but I'll stick to riding on back and not driving.
Our scooter took us to the Hemingway House. We first opted for the self-guided tour. Quickly realizing that we didn't know anything, we joined the guided tour. There are currently 47 cats on the Hemingway property and Hemingway always kept 40-50 cats during the time he lived there. Many of the cats are polydactyl (they have extra toes). Hemingway was given a polydactyl cat by a ship's captain and many of the present day cats are descendants of that first one. You can read more about the cats and Hemingway's home here:

Toes in December Sand

On day 2 in Key West, we found ourselves on the beach with our toes in warm December sand. We arrived on a nearly empty state park beach around 10 a.m. When we questioned the chair rental man about the lack of other beach goers, he explained, "It's early in Key West." The beach was beautiful and eventually we were joined by the late risers.
After the beach, we went to Margaritaville. I've never been to a Margaritaville that did not have an hour or more wait, but this one had immediate seating. We sat in front of a cheerfully decorated Christmas tree with a parrot at the top. We overheard the waitress tell another table that Jimmy had been there yesterday, but we also read that telling tourists that is a popular pastime of the locals.
We spent another evening watching the sunset at Mallory Square.
David's friend Keith brought us some Key West magazines and information from his recent trip. We read an article about the Cat Man and had to see him for ourselves. It was a fantastic show! The Cat Man has trained his cats by becoming one of them. It is definitely a must-see if you find yourself in Key West. Don't miss the Cat Man's website:

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from the Downings!We picked up the DVDs of pictures from the photographer today. We're only through the first CD so far, but here is a sample!
Don't we have the best looking wedding party?
And a beautiful family?

Friday, December 21, 2007

Cruisin' Down US 1

Margaritaville may be just a state of mind, but it is a state of being in the Conch Republic. After the wonderful wedding weekend, we left freezing rain in Springfield for the sunny wet heat of Florida. We spent a little extra time in the Springfield airport while we waited for our plane to leave Toledo for Tampa so that it could come to Springfield for us. The trip was well worth the wait! We spent the night near Sarasota, FL then headed to Key West in our rented VW convertible. I wanted to get off the interstate for a more scenic route, which added about 3 hours to our drive. We soon realized that neither of us had packed CDs. Can't drive to Key West with no Buffett music, so we stopped at Wal-Mart.

As we left the tollway outside Miami, the sun was beginning to set, so we drove through the keys in the dark.

It made it easy to pretend that there was land on either side rather than water as we crossed the many bridges. Our first day in Key West, we set out on foot to explore the old part of town. It was just like being in one of Jimmy Buffett's songs! We walked all the way from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean on that first day! Okay, so that's only a mile and a half or so. Exhausted from our trek, we stopped for gelato. Sitting in the sun eating ice cream in the middle of December? Must be paradise.

We arrived at Mallory Square just in time to see the fading sunset.
To be continued...

One Perfect Day

Erin and Dawn
Erin and David - Cake cutting and toast
Erin and Dad

In the wonderful world of wedding planning, I never expected the big day to go perfectly. Weddings never do. But wonder of wonders, this one did! There were little things I guess -one of the large wreaths took a tumble. A wedding cake topper was placed on the cake instead of on the groom's table where we had planned for it to go. It was really foggy with a forecast for ice. But nothing disastrous really happened and it was a fantastic evening. Our friends the Halls and Houges did a phenomenal job of decorating the Discovery Center. It was beautiful! The food was great, our DJ did an excellent job, flowers were beautiful. I know when I start listing those sorts of things, I will forget something or someone very important! Our photographer has our pictures ready, so I will start adding those as soon as we can meet with him to get them. In the meantime, here are a few pictures from my aunt Connie.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Weather Outside Was Frightful

But the wedding was so delightful! Many thanks to those who braved the forecast and fog to share the big day. We were hitched without a hitch. :) Everything turned out beautifully thanks to our family and friends who took care of so many things. A bigger and better post with pictures to follow, but for now we are off to Florida!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Santa's Little Elves

Check this out! Todd made us elves! Click HERE to see us dance! It takes a little while to load, but is worth the wait.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Can’t Get There From Here…

As the big day gets closer and closer there may be some folks who need another look at the map and driving directions.

Here is a link with a larger version of the map:

So far the weather looks like it will cooperate for next weekend. Forecasts are calling for partly cloudy skies with lows in the mid 30’s and highs in the mid 50’s. Not exactly tropical… but better than ice and snow. Erin and I look forward to seeing everyone.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

One Week

One week from today, we will be official!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Olly Olly Oxen Free!

One of many reasons that I love David is "Henrietta Hide and Seek." It's not as weird as it sounds. Or, maybe it is. Occasionally, I'll realize that one of the cats has been mysteriously absent for the evening. Usually it is Henrietta. Gracie is easy to find - she answers to her name. Henrietta will wait silently for you to discover her, even if she has been in a closet all night. I'm unreasonably afraid that one of the cats will escape from the house. If I can't find Henrietta quickly, I begin to panic. All logic is tossed out the window. Even if no door has been opened since the disappearance, I go outside and call her name. Are you wondering yet what this has to do with David? My groom joins in the search. Every time. He remains rational and knows she is in the house somewhere. But he goes around, calling her, opening cabinets, looking under beds. He's never rolled his eyes or suggested that I might look nice in a straight jacket. He joins the search until she is found then goes back to whatever he was doing. I really like that about him.
On a barely related note, the title of this post reminds me of one of my favorite Robert Fulghum stories. You can read it be clicking here.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Warm Feet

We have had several calls and requests for information on where we are registered. Erin and I are registered at Target, J.C. Penny Home, and Crate and Barrel.

With less than two weeks until the big day – I’ve made sure to wear multiple pairs of socks – just to keep the feet from getting chilly. :<)

We look forward to seeing everyone.


Friday, November 23, 2007

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas!

The stockings have been hung by the chimney with care,
The tree has been decorated with ornaments and cat hair...

Fortunately, I am better at decorating than I am at poetry. I celebrated the annual "wrestling of the Christmas tree" today while the cats looked on. It's a good thing that I will forget that part of Christmas decorating by this time next year. The other part I'd like to forget about is crawling around in the closet under the stairs dragging out boxes of decorations. The rest of the decorating is lots of fun. Harry Connick, Jimmy Buffett, and I spent the morning hanging the decorations on the tree. It's fun to remember where each ornament came from as they're unwrapped from the tissue paper. I was ready for a nap after finishing the tree, but kept opening boxes of Christmas goodies. Apparently I have quite a weakness for Christmas knick knacks. The candles are all in the windows and Tuley's wreath is on his house. A tree from my Aunt Connie has been decked out in homemade ornaments to make the kitchen festive. A really good bride would have a plate of homemade cookies ready when the groom arrives home from work, but David will have to enjoy leftover pumpkin pie instead. :)

Happy Birthday Todd!

Today is Todd's birthday! Happy Birthday!

Happy Turkey Day!

We celebrated Thanksgiving in Monett with Steak Oscar. Yummy! Steak Oscar is a steak with crab meat and asparagus on top. The whole thing is covered with Bearnaise sauce and is delicious!
We also had picture-perfect pumpkin pie that my mom made using my great-grandmother's recipe. Last weekend at the family shower, my grandmother gave me this recipe accompanied by the story of Grandma Good's pumpkins pies. Grandmother asked her once for her pumpkin pie recipe. She said she didn't have a recipe, but Grandmother could come and make pies with her to learn how. So while Grandma Good pinched and dumped the spices into her hand, Grandmother measured with teaspoons and tablespoons and wrote everything down. Pretty soon they had 2 beautiful pumpkin pies ready to bake.
While the steaks were being grilled, David got to try out my dad's latest toy - his new riding lawnmower. It is FAST! I snapped this picture just in time to dodge out of the way. :)

Hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

License to Wed

We are one step closer...we picked up our marriage license today. I was sure that she'd made a mistake on the form when I saw that my age was 31. In disbelief, I turned to David. Did I turn 31 this year? Uh, yeah. Pretty much. Time flies when you're having fun! :)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Are We There Yet?

I am not the best car-traveler. David would agree. It's hard to sit for so long. I sigh, whine, and often ask the dreaded "Are we there yet?" question. It's a lot like traveling with a small child I guess. As we get closer and closer to wedding day, I feel a little like being stuck in the car. I want to get out and DO SOMETHING! Put on the dress, eat turkey, dance! As we wait wait wait, here's what we're doing to stay busy:

We received an invitation to David's niece Erin's wedding on Friday, ate dinner, and rushed our reply to the main post office. We hope to be the first response!

We spent Saturday cooking up a storm for the annual viewing of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. It was a good time, and we all ate way too much. David had smoked 20 pounds of pork shoulder. We had 10 people (I think). For those who are math-impaired, that is 2 pounds of meat per person!

On Sunday, we got a paper so we could see our engagement announcement. You can see it by clicking here. We also picked up my wedding band. Wahoo! We already had David's, so we are that much closer to being official! Sunday afternoon I went to Monett for a family shower at my parents' house hosted by my Aunt Connie. It was lots of fun! She'd sent recipe cards in the invitations and asked the guests to bring a recipe and an ingredient or utensil used in the recipe. I really like to cook (DON"T tell David!) so it was great to get all the family recipes to try. I managed to get there with no camera, so I am hoping that maybe someone will e-mail me some pictures (pretty pretty please?).

Hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A Project for the Groom and His Faithful Assistant

Today David built boxes for dancing on at the reception. Okay...not really for dancing. They're for elevating Christmas trees to different heights. Charlotte at the Discovery Center is letting us use some of their trees, but we wanted them a little taller. Our initial discussion was about using milk crates, but like most projects at the Downing Ranch, it turned into something a little larger.
Tuley was of course tons of help - emphasis on tons. He specializes in sleeping, stepping on the project, and kicking things just out of reach.

Mean while, I was busy putting on my bridezilla routine at Wal-Mart, where they are holding our engagement pictures hostage. I should have seen this coming, but did not. I need a release of copyright from our photographer, which won't be a problem. Except, that they are HOLDING THEM HOSTAGE in the meantime. Grrrrr.....

All in all, a good and productive weekend. One weekend closer to the big day!

Must go...the faithful assistant must've worked up quite a hunger this afternoon. He's demanding to be fed NOW! :)

Friday, November 9, 2007

Chewy Pumpkin Caramel Bars

Here's another wonderful pumpkin recipe. A small bar goes a long way - they are VERY sweet!

Chewy Pumpkin Caramel Bars
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 2/3 cups granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup solid pack canned pumpkin
3/4 cup vegetable oil
27 caramels, unwrapped (about 9 ounces)
1/4 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup chopped nuts, divided

Combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large mixer bowl. Add pumpkin and oil; beat until blended (batter will be thick). Spread two-thirds batter into greased 13 x 9-inch baking pan. Bake at 375 degrees F for 20 minutes.

Combine caramels and evaporated milk in small saucepan; stir over low heat until caramels are melted. Pour caramel mixture over baked layer; sprinkle with 1/4 cup nuts. Drop remaining batter by heaping teaspoons over caramel mixture; sprinkle with remaining nuts. Return to oven for 20 to 25 minutes (top layer will be slightly soft). Remove to wire rack to cool completely.

It will seem like there isn't enough liquid in the batter, but it works. The easiest way to spread the first layer in the pan is to spray your clean hands with Pam and press it down with your fingers. Recipe is from

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

It's Beginning to Taste A Lot Like Christmas

I just received menu options from the reception caterer. Yum! Reading them just makes me hungry! In recent years, my family has often forgone the traditional holiday meal in favor of Mexican food, ribs, tri-tip, or lasagna. I like that we don't do the same thing every year. Keeps it interesting. But...for the wedding reception, David and I have picked a traditional holiday meal. Something between Thanksgiving and Christmas - Thanksmas, I guess. Get your tastebuds primed - Thanksmas is one month from tomorrow!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Suit Blues

Who would guess that Men's Wearhouse does not let you order pants and jackets in different sizes when ordering a suit? David's suit was ordered based on shoulder size, so when he tried on the pants, I think I could have hopped in there with him! They were very much too big. The solution? The tailor will take the pants apart, cut a lot of fabric out, and then stitch them back together. Seems like it would be easier just to order pants in a smaller size, doesn't it? Why doesn't everyone see things my way? :)

It was another great weekend. Thursday night, we celebrated 29 years of Monett Glass with my parents at Hickok's. We were surprised to see a For Sale sign in the window of the original reception location. Glad that we decided to change the location several months ago. On Saturday, I went to a Drury basketball game with Christina (thank you Christina!). It was an exhibition game, but I was still impressed when the Lady Panthers scored over 100 points! David and I went to Branson Saturday evening to enjoy our favorite Chinese buffet. Springfield has no shortage of Chinese restaurants, but that doesn't stop us from driving a few extra miles.

Today we took Tuley to see the new boathouse at Springfield Lake and walk him on the paved trail. He walked a lot of it without a leash (shh!) just trotting along behind us. The new boathouse is very cool! Since we got back, our lazy dog has been awake just long enough for dinner. He's spent the rest of the evening snoring and farting. What a life! :)

Even with the extra hour, time flies! Hope everyone has a good week!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Beautiful, Disposable Wedding Dresses

At the shower Saturday night, we split into two teams to make wedding "dresses" out of toilet paper. Aren't they gorgeous? The dress making was made easier by having two lovely and cooperative models - Rachel and Molly.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Crab Dip Recipe

Robyn made a very yummy crab dip for the shower on Saturday. I strategically sat in places where I was always in reach of it. Here's the recipe:

2 (8oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 (8oz.) container sour cream
1/4 C. mayonnaise
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 T. lemon juice
1 t. dry mustard
1/4 t. garlic salt
3 (6 oz.) cans Lump (or med. grade) Crab meat, drained
1 C.(4oz.) shredded Cheddar cheese
crackers or toasted French bread rounds

Combine first 7 ingredients, stirring until blended. Add drained, canned crab meat and mix well. Spoon mixture into a 9 X 13 baking dish that has been sprayed with Pam; sprinkle evenly with Cheddar cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Serve immediately with crackers or French bread rounds.


Saturday, October 27, 2007

Stevie Wonder Gets a Gift

Christina, Dawn, and Robyn hosted a wonderful shower for me tonight. I am often reminded how lucky I am to have such great friends and tonight was one of those times. When everyone laughed at the bright yellow wrapping paper stuck to my bum, you could actually feel the love. :) Since we have posted somewhat embarrassing pictures of others, I'll be a good sport and post a couple of pictures from tonight. I call these the "Stevie Wonder Gets a Gift" pictures.