Thursday, December 16, 2010

Oh gingerpig, oh gingerpig, how tasty is your frosting...

Maybe because its my first Christmas in 9 or so years without snow, but I haven't really gotten into the Christmas spirit all that much yet this year. So I decided to bake. Food is a great mood-altering substance.

Hmmmmm... What to make. Well, Christmas = Cookies. And the whole Birth of Jesus thing, of course. YAY for the Nativity.

But also... yay for gingerbread!

Nana shared a great recipe with me quite a few years ago. It's pretty much great. So great, in fact, that I don't even feel guilty for eating a half dozen-ish while catching up on The Biggest Loser. I mean, how can you say no t this. (Hint: The answer = you can't. Even Chuck Norris would cave)

I'm going to take some to work tomorrow to contribute to the growing stack of Christmas junk that is accumulating at the office.

Here's the recipe so you can make some of your own:

Stained-Glass Gingerbread Cookies

Preheat oven to 375 degrees


3 1/4 C. Flour
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Ginger
1/2 tsp. Allspice
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
3/4 C. Butter (room temerature)
3/4 C. Sugar
1/2 C. Molasses
2 Tbsp Water
Jolly Ranchers (or other hard candy)
  1. Mix all dry ingredients together and set aside
  2. Cream butter and sugar.
  3. Beat Molasses and Water into butter and sugar.
  4. Gradually add flour mixture, beating at low speed until completely mixed.
  5. Refrigerate overnight.
  6. Line cookie sheets with foil or parchment paper.
  7. Divide dough into 6 pieces. 
  8. Roll out one piece at a time to a thickness around 1/4 inch, keeping the dough you are not using cold in the fridge.
  9. Cut out cookies with your finest cookie cutters.
  10. Place unbaked cookies on parchment or foil-lined cookie sheet.
  11. (Optional step) Cut out smaller shapes from the middle of the cookies and fill with crushed hard candy. Crush the candy by putting in a sturdy bag (Each color in a different zip lock freezer bag inside a paper grocery bags work really well) and then smash them with a hammer. I take this outside and smash it on the cement. If the bag thing doesn't work, you can put the candies in a box, then put that box in another box, mailing it to yourself, and then smashing it with a hammer when it arrives. Either way. Put the cookies on the lined cookie sheet, and then put the candy powder in the cutout. Fill just to the top of the cookie. If you do this step, make sure to line the cookie sheets. I pity the fool who has to clean melted Jolly Ranchers off of their best cookie sheets.
  12. Bake cookies for 5-6 minutes at 375 degrees. DO NOT OVERBAKE. The cookies will puff up, but won't change colors. They may not look baked, but take them out of the oven. Take them off of the hot cookie sheet and put them on a cooling rack. They will cool and stay nice and soft. However, if you like your gingerbread a little crispy, feel free to bake them for a few more minutes.
  13. If you want to frost the cookie, do it after they are completely cooled.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

When life gives you pink lemons...

When life gives you pink lemons, you can consider yourself better than people that have been given boring yellow lemons.

Just Kidding!
 Did you know that there was such a thing as pink lemons? So cool! There was someone giving away a bunch of pink lemons at a garage sale, and I took a handful of them. Since life had given me pink lemons, I decided to make myself some pink lemonade.
Juicing the lemons gave me about 1 1/4 cup of juice. I put this in a 2 quart pitcher, added somewhere between 1/2 and 3/4 cups of sugar, and filled it with water and poured myself a cool tangy glass.

By the time it was diluted down, it was a pale pink, and was just as tasty as normal yellow lemonade.

Hooray for the citrus-friendly climate of Arizona! In a few more weeks, the lemons, oranges, and grapefruits growing in my yard will be ripe! Yummers!!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Violation of Jack, in Four Acts

Act One: The Acquisition of Jack

In contemplating a move to the greater Phoenix area, I decided that I needed a vehicular with working air conditioning. Ron helped me find a cheap truck that fit the bill. We pulled it down behind the U-Haul, and It's served me well so far. There is a bevy of problems with the truck, but it gets me from place to place and that's good enough for me. The suspension is a little wonky so it leans a bit. I named it Jack, after the guy in "While You Were Sleeping"

Act Two: Riding on the Metro

Since I've moved to Arizona, I park and ride to work. You see, the Metro Light Rail goes right through both ASU and downtown Phoenix. (♫ Riding on the Metro-o-o ♫) Some days I work at ASU, and some days I work at TGen in downtown Phoenix, and sometimes I go back and forth between the two. The Metro is pretty convenient for this. Plus, my work bought me a year train pass, so I get to ride the Metro for free.

Act Three: The Violation of Jack

Today I drove Jack to the Park and Ride lot like I always do. I rode the Metro to TGen in Phoenix. I went to my meeting. I had lunch. I rode the Metro back to ASU. I finished my normal workday out. I rode the Metro back to the Park and Ride Lot. (♫ Riding on the Metro-o-o ♫) I went to where I had parked Jack, The first thing I noticed was bits of glass sparkling in the lamplight.
 The second thing I noticed was the lack of glass in the driver's side door of my truck.
 The third thing I noticed was a bunch of wires sticking out where my stereo used to be. A bunch of other things hit me faster than I could number them. My glove box was open, but the only thing that seemed to be missing was a small box of tampons. Maybe the thief was a female and had a need for such supplies. I resent the taking of the stereo, but I'd never begrudge relevant supplies to a fellow female in need. I had assumed that the thief was male, but I couldn't figure out why a dude would steal that and not the pair of pliers that were right there. Later, I found the box on the floor and alleviated that particular bit of confusion. I was back to resentment. I could tell they looked behind my seat, but I don't think they took anything else. I'll check a little more carefully when its light outside.

I dedicate the following song (starts at around 1:34) to my stereo...

Act Four: Comfort Food

The thieves took many things. They took my stereo. They took my sense of security. They took some of my time, as I called the police and such to report the crime. I'll get back to you on the other things they took.

One thing they didn't take? Maurice the dash pig. (crazy ol' Maurice, always good for a laugh). Also, they didn't take the ten dollars I had in the ash tray! I used this ten dollars to buy myself some comfort food, namely, a Sonic hamburger with green chile on it (hooray living in the Southwest again!), french fries, diet coke with the lovely little pebbly Sonic ice, and a chocolate malt. And then I went home and ate it all as I watched several episodes of "Jeeves and Wooster." There may or may not be a long list of chores that need doing, but I decided to neglect them all in favor of venting to you in this blog post. I think it worked, as I feel much better. A bit emotionally drained, but better.I'll just go to bed early tonight. Things always look better after a good nights sleep...

I'll most likely ride the bus to the Metro tomorrow (♫ Riding on the Metro-o-o ♫), so I can call around and find out the best place to take Jack to have his window replaced. It's not the end of the world. Its just a pain. At least it does't snow in Phoenix. In fact, it's supposed to get back up into the 70s this weekend.

Pros of living in Phoenix include the great winter weather. Cons of living in Phoenix include the rampant thievery. Also, people that with a lack of personal hygiene that ride the Metro. (♫ Riding on the Metro-o-o ♫) Seriously people, would a bath every few days kill you? Blech.

Ah well... C'est la vie... Such is life...

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

Several of the Merrells went and spent Thanksgiving with Brian and Caroline in Santa Monica. They recently moved to an apartment that is 11 blocks from the beach. A few of us took a jaunt down to check out the ocean on Thursday morning. Mom was determined to go into the ocean. It was much colder than she had anticipated...

They had lots of toys, and some of them were adult-sized. The boys took a turn climbing (well... trying to climb) ropes.
It was pretty funny. Allen made it up a little higher once he took his shoes off, but didn't quite make it all the way to the top.
Johnny had a great time. He's a fun kid. Quite the man-child. He's big enough that you forget that he's not even a year and a half yet.
Mom and Allen rushed between waves to write "Happy Thanksgiving 2010" in the sand.
 It was a beautiful day!
Here's a bit of a better angle on the beach writing.
I flew in a day early to start the cooking. I really enjoyed making so much food... I've had limited opportunities for cooking in Arizona. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. Not all that surprising seeing how much I love food. We had turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, stuffing, yams, corn, rolls, and green bean casserole. The green beans were kind of an afterthought. Mostly because we realized that we hadn't planned for anything green on the plate.

Here's the 'before' picture of my plate. The turkey is hiding under the ham, and the roll hadn't yet made it on the plate. But you get the idea.

And here's the 'after' picture. It was delicious. So was the Thanksgiving-induced coma.
It was a good time. I've missed hanging out with my family these last few months. Seeing family was just what I needed. I got to play with my nephew Johnny.
And I got to meet my newest nephew, baby Tyler.
I took this picture myself with my cell phone camera, and I guess I didn't aim very well. Little Tyler is a super cute little guy. Grandma loved playing with him as well. He was pretty alert for such a new baby. We all had fun passing him around.

We went and checked out the Santa Monica Pier the next day. There were lots of people there that day, including a bunch of people fishing off of the end of the pier. Yuck!
It was beautiful weather, and good times with the family. I took a few pictures of Caroline and Verenda, but they must have been with my mom's camera because I can't seem to find them. Caroline is looking very well, especially for someone who had a baby last week. Verenda looks like she's ready to have her baby any day now! I can't wait to meet baby Valerie, and hopefully, Verenda and Ron's new baby.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Remembering Cory

Wow. This is a hard post to start. It hurts to refer to a friend in the past tense.

Cory Jenkins was such a great guy. I first met Cory working with him in the Chemistry Central Stockroom at BYU. That was a fun job, and Cory was one of my favorite people to work with. He was a goofy guy, and always happy. Well, he was pretty miserable when his allergies acted up, but would still make the most of things.

He also worked for Lecture Prep., setting up all of the classroom demonstrations that the Chemistry professors use to spice up their lectures. Here's my favorite Cory memory: I was working at the stockroom, and Cory comes streaking in with a panicked look on his face. He grabs the green Merck index off of the shelf and searches the pages for a few minutes. He finds what he's looking for, lets out a sigh of relief, and only then tells me what is up. While working in the lecture prep room one day he had noticed a big bottle of Methylene Blue. For those of you not familiar with this gem of a chemical, it turns your pee blue if you eat it. I guess seeing this big bottle of pee-color-changing potential was too much for him to resist. He opened the bottle, got a scoop of it out, and then ate it. That is when the panic set in. In his own words, Methylene Blue is "OH, so bitter!" It was only then that he wondered about how safe it was to eat. Thus the panicked rushing into the stockroom to check the entry in the Merck Index.

The funniest part of this whole story is that this whole episode didn't scare him off at all. Rather, it made his scientific brain kick in, thinking of ways to mask the taste, alternative methods of ingestion (like putting it in gelatin capsules), and finding the minimum effective dose for effective pee coloring. He was going to use himself as a test subjects, as well as a few volunteer classmates. I'm not sure what came of all of the plans. I think he gave up after a few rounds. It's still pretty funny. There are still blue fingerprints on the Methylene Blue page of the Merck Index in the Chemistry Central Stockroom. Good times!

Cory graduated and I never saw him again. He moved away and got married. He went to PA school, and decided that he could get some good experience in the Army. His daughter was born a month before he was deployed.

Capt. Cory J. Jenkins, 30, of Arizona, died Aug. 25, 2009 in southern Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his vehicle with an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 5th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, Wash.
Since Cory was from Mesa, I thought I'd go pay my respects. It is Memorial day, after all. I went to a florists shop a few blocks from my house to pick up some flowers to take. Funny how its appropriate to take a guy flowers after he's dead, but kind of weird otherwise. Anyways, she was running a little low on red, white, and blue flowers, but she had a few left. I told her what I wanted to spend, and she put together a really nice bouquet. I have a feeling she gave me a bargain. Sometimes people are great. I'm definitely going to her next time I need some flowers.

It breaks my heart that a guy that was only over there to help people was lost to us. And that he was only 30 years old. He was such a great guy. My heart breaks for his family.

Here's a nice tribute I found on YouTube.

I count myself lucky to have known such a great guy... We'll miss you Cory!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Mrs. Rashae!

So my ex-next-door-neighbor Rashae moved to Arizona last year, met the man of her dreams and got married this last Thursday. I moved down here just in time to be able to make their wedding cake! I normally do one, maybe two a year, but this is my fifth so far in 2010!

l think it turned out really well. The reception was beautiful, with fall colors, great music, and amazing food (including an ice cream bar!)

Brian and Rashae are so dang cute together! Seriously adorable!

The place was packed, and the happy couple barely had any time to eat. They did manage to grab a few bites here and there!

They didn't shove the cake into each other's faces! They were very nice to each other.

Rashae's students will have to get used to calling her Mrs. Aldridge instead of Miss Holt. I remember when I was in 5th grade and a teacher got married in the middle of the year and I thought it was so weird that we had to call her a different name all of a sudden. Funny how things look different from the other side.

I almost can't stand how happy they look!

And I love the comfy footwear!

Corinne and Emily were thee too. It was really good to see Utah friends!

At one point the DJ had the groom pick 4 other men from the crowd, and then made them wear Village People headwear and dance to the YMCA. It was pretty random, but hilarious!

Gotta love any couple that will make a silly face for the camera on their wedding day!

Hooray for the newly-formed Aldridge family!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

So far in the AZ...

I know some of you have been patiently waiting for an update from me. I have been living here for two whole weeks now, so I understand the frustration with the waiting. Especially since I don't really know anyone here yet. And I live alone. How is it that I haven't found time to satisfying my blog-reading public?

All of these things are true, and I sincerely apologize for any anxiety I may have caused any of you. I'm fine, really I am.

I've been waiting to take pictures of where I live when I get everything unpacked. Seeing as organization does not come all that natural to me, unpacking has been pushed to the back burner in favor of other pursuits, like catching up on the most recent episodes of "Lie to Me" and "The Gates" and such. Oh, and I've discovered some great new podcasts. Check out NPR's "Wait, wait, don't tell me" If you want to LOL out loud. Pretty funny stuff.

Whilst you wait with bated breath for photo documentation of my current living quarters, I'll regale you with some thoughts and impressions I have of my time here:

  • Arizona drivers are a different kind of crazy than Utah drivers. They accelerate fast, and follow close. Merging onto the freeway usually requires cutting someone off. Surprisingly, they don't speed nearly as much as do Utah drivers. Most of the people driving between Provo and SLC go a minimum of 10 mph over the speed limit. People in AZ seem to stick much closer to the speed limit. It could be that there are so much more people on the road.
  • The roads here are pretty well organized, with a street going North-South or East-West every mile that has at least two lanes going each way that has a speed limit of 45 mph. I like it, but I do miss having numbered streets. Thank goodness for GPS on my phone!
  • I should have never complained back when BYU charged $60/yr for parking. At ASU its more than $700/yr. Luckily, they can just split it up and deduct it from my paycheck. I'm planning on just pretending I make that much less and that parking is free. It'll be less painful that way.
  • I've found a great butcher. Like, an actual individual that gets his meat in carcass form and chops it up into the different cuts of meat in the back of the shop. For all of you "So I Married An Axe Murderer" fans, yes he does link his own sausage. They double-smoke their own bacon, make their own beef jerky, and have kinds of meat other than beef, chicken, and pork. Its more expensive and a little out of the way for me, but I'm excited to get my meat there when I can.
  • Working at the Biodesign Institute is going to be great. I'm working with some great people on some fun research. I haven't done that much yet, but its going to be good. Plus, they have an eye-scanning thingy that lets you in after hours. It doesn't have lights like they show in the movies, but it does say "Scan Accepted" or something when it matches your eye-scan.
  • I love living alone. I wasn't sure I would, but its great. I love having the fridge to myself, and I love not having to worry whether or not the mess I have created by moving in, etc. is invading someone else's personal space. I love being able to use iSnooze to blast music from my itunes at 6:30 in the morning to help me wake up. I love having only one covered parking spot and being able to park in it every day.
  • I forgot how it felt to have sweat running off of my body. One day I was talking on the phone outside at lunchtime. After 5 minutes, there was sweat dripping from the crook of my elbow on the arm that was holding my phone. Gross. Luckily, every building here has pretty amazing air-conditioning.
  • My left leg has gotten a pretty good workout from driving stick-shift for the past month. I really like driving stick. It could be that the suspension of my truck isn't very good, and so it makes driving feel a bit like an interactive video game. Good times. Until the charley-horse in my left calf last night. It was killer. My calf is still aching.
  • I am going through a lot of ice. I can't get over how thirsty I am all of the time. Must be my body adapting to the heat, but I'm turning into quite the heavy drinker, as it were. The water here does taste a bit musty. I'm going to have to spring for a Brita pitcher or something.
  •  Its fun living so close to the Mesa temple, but its driving me crazy that I can't find my recommend. I'm not giving up on it until I've actually unpacked every single box. I drive right by the temple every single day, but I haven't been able to do a session yet.
Well, its time for me to hit the hay, so I'm going to leave it at that for now. Feel free to leave questions in the comments section if there's something specific you're wondering about that I haven't addressed.

Love you all!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

4th of July 2010

I didn't have any plans for the 4th of July, so I just tagged along a group of people from the area who went up to Park City to see the fireworks there.

The view was great. We went up behind The Canyons resort to watch. There were way too many people in front of the stage where the band was playing. We could still hear the band, which was fun. They were doing a little holiday homage to funk. Play that funky music white boy indeed.

The group played card games while they waited for the fireworks show to start. Well, everyone but me. I just read my book. And shared food with people. I took a lot of food. I'm always worried that someone will be hungry. I think I get that from my Dad's Mom. Thanks Grandma!

Here's me. I look a little worn out, but I was really just in a mood. And not a good one. Just one of those things that happens every few months. I usually avoid people when I get in one of those moods, but I tried my best to be social, in the interest of patriotism.

The fireworks happened. We went home. The scenery was fantastic, and the company was good. Well, present company excepted. Not my best 4th, but I'm still proud to be an American, and feel grateful for all those who have served, are serving, and those who will serve to protect this amazing country we live in!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Kaila's Cake

So my cousin Kaila asked me to make her wedding cake. She found this picture and asked me if I could make a purple version of this:
I said, sure why not? I'm always up for a food adventure!

It kind of looks like fondant, but it's actually molding chocolate, also known as chocolate plastic. It's basically chocolate melted and mixed with corn syrup. It has the texture of tootsie roll, and tastes 3 bajillion times better than fondant. I hadn't ever made it before, but thought I'd give it a shot.

My mom came over a few days before the wedding and helped me out. I had made several batches of the white molding chocolate before-hand and my mom helped me to figure out how to work it.

We basically rolled out some of the white, and laid a strip of the dark purple across them. 

We then used a pasta-roller to attach the strip to the background and to get the strips to the thickness we wanted.

We layered the strips around the cakes that we had previously frosted with buttercream frosting.

We started making dark purple roses, and then added white to make gradually lighter shades of purple. The molding chocolate got pretty soft with the heat of our hands, so we had to work fast. Mom was better at making the roses than myself. We dusted them with purple luster dust to make them shimmery. They turned out real purdy.

A local florist donated some African Violet leaves. We assembled the cake on-site.

Here it is on the table outside, ready to be served. I think we got it pretty close to the picture. I'm pretty proud of this one!

A shot from above...

And, the ever-popular side shot with water cups in the background.

Here's the happy couple cutting into the cake...

And here they are shoving it into each others faces. Notice Sydney taking notes in the background :)

I was pretty impressed that none of the cake got on the dress. It was red velvet, at the bride's request, and all that red food color could have been bad news for everyone involved in the cake-face-shoving that was wearing white.


I used several websites to try and find out how to make and use molding chocolate. One of the most useful ones I found on the Chef Talk forums. Here's the text, just in case something happens and that resource becomes unavailable at some point. Thank you chefpeon!

You need to stir the corn syrup/chocolate mixture just enough to incorporate it fully. Too much stirring (like I did) makes some of the cocoa butter separate out. It makes hard little lumps that you either have to work in or pick out. We picked them out.

Also, I made way too much white. I was nervous that I wouldn't have enough to cover all three cakes so I went a little bit overboard. I used 12 lbs of white chocolate buttons. I got the chocolate at Bakers C&C in Salt Lake. A great place for all things cake-making since Shepherds closed. (A store in Orem. My previous supplier of chocolate and cake supplies.) I made the modeling chocolate in half-batches of the recipe. So 1 1/2 lbs of chocolate at a time. I think we only needed 3 batches to cover the cake. Maybe 4. I definitely didn't need all of the 8 that I made.

In the words of the chef:

There's a lot of recipes around for modeling chocolate, but here's mine:
A NOTE: all brands of white chocolate are DIFFERENT. You may need to adjust the amount of corn syrup you add depending on what chocolate you use and your personal preference. My recipe works perfectly with Guittard White Satin Ribbon, which unfortunately, isn't that easy to find. Do NOT use white chocolate chips!!! Pistoles or disks are fine. Or chop up a bar.

Modeling Chocolate:
3 lbs white chocolate (broken into small pieces, if not already)
1 1/3 cup light corn syrup

Put chocolate into large round plastic microwave safe bowl.
Melt in short time increments of about 2 minutes and stir very well between each increment. White chocolate burns VERY EASILY. If your microwave has adjustable power levels and you have a high wattage microwave, you might want to use 50% power. I do, because I have one of those microwaves. You want to just melt the chocolate with no graininess or lumps. Make sure you stir it well to let any residual heat melt the chocolate, rather than keep sticking it back in the micro. That's a sure way to burn it. If you notice that your white chocolate starts feel thicker, then you've already burned it. I cannot stress how careful you need to be when melting white chocolate. Microwave a little at a time and stir stir stir.

When it's all perfectly melted, stick your corn syrup in the micro for about 1 minute to warm it.

Now, using a rubber spatula so you can scrape the sides of the bowl, pour the warm corn syrup all at once into your melted white chocolate, Stir quickly, using a folding motion, scrape the sides of the bowl. Your goal is to incorporate the corn syrup COMPLETELY into the white chocolate without it becoming too oily and separated. You will notice that as you stir, the chocolate will seize into a thick gooey mass and will clean the sides of the bowl. Look closely to make sure you don't have any streaks of unincorporated chocolate.....this unincorporated chocolate will become lumpy grains later, and you don't want that.
The mass will seem a little oily, that's OK. But the more you stir, the oilier it gets, and you don't want oil dripping off it either. It's a delicate balance.

Line a cookie sheet with at least 1 inch sides, or a rectangular pyrex dish with plastic wrap, so the wrap hangs over the sides. Pour your white chocolate mass into the dish or cookie sheet and press it down with a spatula to flatten it out all the way to the sides of the sheet or dish. Bring up the sides of the plastic wrap to completely cover your brick of modeling chocolate. Place the whole thing in the fridge for a couple hours.

After it's set, bring it out to come to room temp. When it's room temperature, break up the modeling chocolate in easy to handle pieces. The pieces will look very rough. Now you have to knead it smooth. Depending on the ambient temperature of the room and the strength in your hands, you may have to stick the pieces in the microwave to warm up for a few seconds so they are kneadable. Be careful not to overwarm the pieces, because the warmth of your hands will do the rest of that work for you. This is the moment of truth when you'll know how well you stirred it. If you have a lot of lumps and grains, then you know you didn't stir well enough, or perhaps burned the chocolate a little. Most of the time you can knead or roll them out, or if they're really big you can pick them out. But, if you did it right, this shouldn't be a problem. Once kneaded, the chocolate is ready for use. You can color it with any type of coloring....I prefer concentrated gels or powders. Liquid is not recommended, just because it makes the chocolate too slack without coloring it completely enough. However if you desire a light pastel, liquid is ok.

When working with modeling chocolate and especially when you are doing ribbons and such, I highly recommend using a manual pasta machine. The evenness and thinness of rolling is invaluable. At about 40 bucks a pop, it's a reasonable investment. I have one that I use JUST for modeling chocolate and nothing else.

When working with modeling chocolate, dust with cornstarch....not flour or powdered sugar. Always take care to brush off excess cornstarch with a soft brush when your pieces are done.

There are lots of places on the web that sell powdered color. You can google it, or go to or Country Kitchens.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Trever and Kaila Wedding

My little cousin Kaila got hitched this summer! To a great guy named Trever. The wedding was outside her Dad's house in Mapleton. The sky was an amazing blue, the sun was shining, and everyone was civil to each other. Nay, more than civil. I'm going to go as far to say that everyone was friendly and happy to be there!

 See exhibit one: Randy and Nana hugging before the ceremony even started!

Robyn and Babs always have a good time. No surprises there. Always a party when any of the Capener daughters get together.

Here's the people walking down the aisle. I don't know these two...

Here's cousin Jeremiah (one of the Graves twins) and one of the other bridesmaids...

Two more people I don't know...

Groomsdude and cousin Aja (the other Graves twin)

Another groomsdude and oldest Graves offspring, cousin Erica...

Adorable flowergirl Sydney...

And at long last, the beautiful beaming bride and her daddy...

Everyone made it down the aisle without so much as a stumble. Even the bridesmaids in their heels! Pretty amazing...

Here's one of the wedding doggies. He had a little tux of his own...

Allen, Ron and Jer, kickin' it old style...

Ah, sibling togetherness...

The other brothers. One of my siblings thought one of the step-cousins was cute in his face...

Sisters with their mommy. If I was any good at photoshop I would have inserted an Aunt Julie head between Barbara and Nana...

Lots of Merrells! (and Nana)...

Happy Grandparents!

Nana and Nana. No, I'm not going to post the other picture. If you want that one, I'll email it to you. I promised one of the Nanas that I wouldn't post that other one...


Even some of the Great-Aunts made it down!

More Merrell wackiness...

And last but not least, the video I took of the actual ceremony. The audio quality is terrible, and the video height/width ratio is messed up because I had to rotate it in Windows Movie Maker. Don't be a hater... I'm doing this on the laptop I got in 2002. It's a brick and really outdated, but this beast got me through graduate school. Don't judge. With all of the drawbacks, I figured someone might be interested in watching it. Without further ado...