Family, Oregon

Home for the Holidays 2017

Originally, I had every intention of spending my holiday vacation time getting ahead on some blogging for the new year. But I ended up sort of naturally taking somewhat of a break from all things technology-related, and I am not one bit mad about it. Obviously my subconscious knew I needed it. But I am back to the regular grind, and now that I spent my first week in the new year getting myself organized for 2018, I want to jump back into a few posts to wrap up 2017.

This year I was able to go home to Oregon for Christmas for 9 days (plus 2 travel days) and overall I’d say it was a great, relaxing time with my family and friends. I saw the new Star Wars movie with my Uncle Josh (our yearly holiday tradition), as well as The Greatest Showman with my mom, sister and Grammy. Both were great movies and, as expected, I loved Hugh Jackman! Its just fun when you can tell that an actor put so much into a role. So yes, if you were to check my Spotify lately, the movie’s soundtrack is what is playing. I caught up with a few old friends, including Richole, who had just welcomed her new daughter Callie, earlier in the month on December 13. As usual, I spent some time at my family’s flower shop, helping out a little bit here and there, but mostly just distracting everyone from doing their work. I also traveled to Portland for a long day trip with my Grampy to watch my Uncle Jay coach his high school girl’s basketball team in a tournament and then over to the Moda Center to watch the Blazers beat the 76ers. I also spent time with dad feeding cows (a separate post on that later this week!) and shopping with my mom and sister. But most of our evenings were spent just the four of us by the fireplace watching a movie.

Of course, the main highlight was spending as much time as I could with my cousin Sawyer. She is just such a fun, sweet baby and definitely has the spotlight in my family right now.

Here’s just a few snapshots of my break.

On this particular day, I had Sawyer ALL DAY while her parents spent a day in Portland. All things considered we had a pretty good day together, except that I contributed to the demise of her napping schedule and she wouldn’t let me put her down for one second to put on my makeup. #parentingcrashcourse

It’s amazing what an adorable 5 month old baby will convince you to do.

Ego cousins!

Christmas morning with this babe.



Our Grampy is crazy, I’ve tried to warn her 🙂

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday!

Family, Love Letters, Oregon

Love Letter: To My Family’s Flower Shop on its 30th Anniversary

When I was in high school, we hosted a young woman who was serving as an Oregon State FFA Officer at our house and she asked my Mom a lot of questions about our family-owned flower shop. To one of the questions, my Mom explained that outside of the holiday season, Valentine’s Day and the week of Mother’s Day, it was weddings and funerals that led the core of our floral business. At the time I remembered feeling a bit embarrassed and uncomfortable that my Mom said that, but the guest saw a bit of humor in my Mom’s matter-of-fact answer, and a few days later we received a thank you card that was signed off with “Wishing you many weddings and funerals.”

Looking back, now it makes me laugh and for some reason that story has always stuck with me. When you think about it, owning and working in a flower shop, really means that you get a front row seat to helping people commemorate and celebrate the milestones and memories that make up their story. From new babies, sweet sixteen’s, get well soon’s, high school proms, graduations, holidays, job promotions, break-ups — and yes, weddings and funerals — we get to be a part of it all. And in a small town, where we have generations of families, that carries even more significance.

This year we are celebrating my family’s flower and gift shop, Cottage Flowers, which my grandparents bought 30 years ago and now my Mom owns. I’ve always told people that I grew up in my family’s flower shop — that it was our home base more than any house we lived in ever was. Sure, that might be a bit of an unconventional way to grow up but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. If anything, “the flower shop,” which is how we refer to it, is another member of our family.

So, to the flower shop, this love letter is for you:

I didn’t know the very first location on Main Street, but I do remember the location at the Plaza very well. I remember playing in the “silk garden” around the indoor gazebo where we were allowed to make a bit more of a mess. I remember holding tea parties with the glassware and stuffed animals, making Italian sodas when we had a cafe counter and the taste of the carbonated water when you accidentally chose it instead of regular water or Sprite. I remember “making arrangements” with the leftover stems in the trash, my hands going numb from filling water picks and when people camped outside the store for the newest Beanie Babies to arrive. I remember my mom’s back office where I spent every sick day away from school and that the dim back room where we cleaned flowers was scary.

I remember when we moved the store across town to the old armory when I was 10 (I think?) and the true labor of love it was to flip. I will forever remember having to climb along the rafters in the ceiling to thread some wiring for Grampy and being told to “pretend the spiders aren’t there.” I both loved and hated the Event Center that we opened for many years. I loved the big open space to play when it was empty and seeing so many weddings and parties come together there, but I also hated setting up tables that were much bigger than me and being woken up early on Saturday mornings because the wedding from the night before didn’t properly clean up and there would be anxious people waiting to set up for the next one. I can almost remember the exact amount of steps it took to get from the front counter to the back loading dock and can vividly remember the well-crafted process I had for washing hundreds of folding chairs with the pressure washer machine.

As I got older and officially started earning a paycheck, it’s where I learned how to count back change, talk professionally on the phone and that the customer is always right. It taught me how to problem solve, plan a project and manage my time. I remember the exact smell of Comet from cleaning buckets, the sound of the wire service when an order was coming through, the fastest way to clean roses without getting poked by a thorn, being pulled out of school to work on Valentine’s Day and judging people’s ribbon color choices for their prom corsage and boutonniere. Though after you’ve made a few dozen boring ones in a single day, the crazy ones are a welcome change.

The flower shop grew my curiosity and love for telling stories. Every time I wrote a card for someone who’s order I took over the phone, I wandered, how did the woman receiving flowers on her 50th wedding anniversary first meet her husband? Who will this new baby girl that is receiving balloons grow up to be? Why is he sending her an arrangement with a card that says he’s sorry?

It fueled my creativity in a way you couldn’t bottle up and recreate. Yes, I probably inherited the creative gene from my Mom and Grammy, but it also comes from countless hours of watching them work, criticize their own work and somehow make the customer happy on those Sunday afternoons when all that was left in the cooler is three colors of carnations.

It showed me what it means to be a part of a community and the reward of pouring back into your local economy. I mean, I understood the impact of “shopping local” before the hipsters even made a big deal about it.

It gave me examples of what strong, entrepreneurial women can be. I’ve seen them both succeed and take the loss, embrace change, make hard decisions and challenge themselves to see goals through to fruition. Even with their own careers, the men in my family have certainly always played an important role, but celebrating this anniversary is also a celebration of the two women who have put their heart and soul into building a successful business. 

There have been many characters over the years that have played a big part in the flower shop’s story. Whether they only worked for us for a short while or for over a decade, so many of our employees have become a part of our extended family. And to our customers who trust us with their memories, thank you for sharing your lives, challenging our creativity and of course, keeping our doors open.

Most importantly, I truly believe the flower shop is why my family is so close. Sure, mixing business with family can be challenging and definitely not for everyone, but for us it somehow works.

Thank you for the random skills I hardly use like making bows, and the practical lessons I use everyday in my own chosen career. Thank you for showing me what hard work and empathy look like. Thank you for teaching me that love, heartbreak, hope and kindness come in all shapes and sizes.

And thank you, for the privilege of that front row seat.

Love, Mandy

P.S. I found a folder of photos from the flower shop I took my first Christmas home after I got my DSLR camera in 2015, and I don’t think I’ve ever shared until now. So here is a little behind the scenes!

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Family, Friendship, Oregon

#MeganFINALLYGoestoOregon Part 2: The Cabin

Earlier this month, I traveled to Oregon for a much needed vacation and visit home.

As I shared in my Part 1 recap last week, my best friend Megan (from Kansas) tagged along so I could FINALLY share my home with her.

My previous post shared about the time we spent in my hometown of Hermiston, and today I’m sharing all about taking her up to my family’s cabin “The Diggins” (my happy place) near Sumpter, OR.

We did a lot of relaxing, went on walks, played with my pup Jack, took the kayaks out on Philips Lake and Megan kept up with her daily yoga pose challenge. We explored nearby Sumpter, where Megan learned all about gold mining, and had dinner at the historical Geiser Grand Hotel in Baker City. We also hung out with my grandparents, who were also up for the weekend.

And of course, we took a LOT of pictures.











Megan, I am so happy that I finally got to share my home and my happy place with you. And if you weren’t considered part of the family before, you definitely are now.

And to The Diggins, thanks for always being exactly what I need.

Cheers!

Family, Friendship, Oregon

#MeganFINALLYGoestoOregon Part 1: Hermiston

Last week I traveled home to Eastern Oregon for a long-awaited vacation and this time around I had a tag along join me.

If you’ve read my blog before (or know me in real life), chances are you know or have at least heard about my best friend Megan. We met on the first day I arrived at the scholarship house at K-State, quickly became inseparable, and went on to live together for 4.5 years. Friendships as an adult when you live across the country from each other can be rough, but we’ve managed pretty darn well.

Since we met I have always wanted to share Eastern Oregon with her, so about a year ago I basically told her that she was expected to come with me the following summer.

The first part of our week was spent up at my family’s cabin, but we took a ton of pictures up there on both our phones and my DSLR that still need a bit of sorting, so we are going to jump around on this  Part 1 post 🙂

Reunited! Megan’s hair has always been pretty short, but I just cut my hair shorter than its been since I was a kid, so this picture kind of looks strange to me.

Our first night in Hermiston, my sister took us out to a new-ish local winery nearby. Echo Ridge Winery has been around a few years, but this was the first chance that I have had to try it! I will always love small towns, but I also love seeing how Eastern Oregon is growing in fun ways that highlight what it has to offer, while maintaining its small town culture. We did a tasting, and after agreeing that the Syrah was our favorite, we bought a bottle to take up to the cabin with us the next day.




We packed a lot into the week, especially since Megan was leaving a few days earlier than I was. I showed her the high school and the flower shop, since those are basically the main places where I grew up. Of course we grabbed food at my favorite taco truck for lunch and we drove out to the house I grew up in (my parents moved a little less than a year ago.) We also spent an evening with my childhood best friend Richole, (and saw her beautiful new house!) I love that my favorite people from different stages of my life know each other. Richole’s little boy Wesley (who is a regular “guest” on my So There’s That posts), is officially in the toddler stage and is just as shy and cute, as his mama was when she were little. I can’t believe that I didn’t take any pictures that night!


Didn’t take any pictures with the grandparents throughout the week, but this Snapchat that my sister sent me definitely made me smile.


On Megan’s last day I took her to the Umatilla County Fair and the Farm City Pro Rodeo. These are two of the things that she has heard me chat about endlessly over the years so it was fun to share that with her. We had a blast with my sister to round out the end of her visit.

Megan and I are definitely “soul sisters” in every way, and a large part of that is that she has also become friends with my family. My family is VERY close, so they have always made the effort to get to know and invest in the other important people in my life. Believe me when I say that I know that combination is really special.





Visiting home during the country fair and rodeo has its ups and downs. It’s great because I get to see a lot of people in one location. But there are drawbacks when your family is still involved in many ways behind the scenes. I love that we were able to round out each of the nights during the second half of the trip by going to the rodeo together.


But the star of the trip was definitely Miss Sawyer June (sorry Megan). She was just 3 weeks old when I arrived and I really could have spent the majority of my time snuggling with her. As I mentioned in a post soon after she was born, it’s been 23 years since there was a baby in this part of my family, so basically she’s the shiny new toy that no one can get enough of.


Even her Uncle Tom and Uncle Jay slowed down for some Sawyer time.

So that’s Part 1! I will be back soon with Part 2 and an overload of pictures from the cabin!

Cheers!

Agriculture, Oregon, Photography

Feeding Cows with Dad

There are fewer things that I love more than being home with my family in Oregon doing everyday things, and there are even fewer things that I love more than seeing my family happy.

My parents have always dreamed of having property and cows, and of a farmhouse that they could call their forever home.

Once they found what they wanted there were a few frustrating years before it all came together, so when it finally happened it was that much sweeter.

It was a bit overwhelming at first when I came home. I was walking into a completely different place than where I grew up, but with every room and little detail that they showed me, it became more and more clear to me. This home is perfect for them.

I might take pictures someday of the house, maybe even on this trip.

But I knew even before I came home, that the first thing my camera lens would focus on were my dad and those beloved cows.

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In case you are wondering, these “Oreo” cows are the breed “Bue Lingo.”

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Breakfast time.

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I am only slightly upset that my family finally got cows AFTER I left home…

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This barn cat came with the property. My dad has renamed it “Talks a Lot.” It follows him EVERYWHERE, and well, never stops talking.

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This is what a very happy, new farmer looks like.

Cheers!

Family, Oregon, Photography

Oregon in July | Part 4 | Wedding Day

Hey! We are to my final post about my trip home and the wedding.

On the wedding day I did not pull out my nice camera because I was either busy, or just enjoying the day. Josh and Sonia also hired a great professional photographer, and while I manage to take a good picture every now and then, I have no problem getting out of the way of the professionals and letting them do their thing.

View Part 1 about “Home and Wedding Prep” HERE
View Part 2 about our “Girl’s Day at the Salon” HERE
View Part 3 about the “Wedding Rehearsal” HERE

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The day started out early, but gorgeous.

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frog in flower

That is a little frog there hanging out in the daisy. We found him when we first woke up and let him chill out until we finally needed the flowers back.

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I woke up about 5:30 to start getting myself ready because I did hair for Sonia, all three of the bridesmaids and both of the flower girls. Sonia has really long hair, but it is both very fine and thin, so she decided to use extensions. This was my first time working with extensions, but after a little trial and error, I got the hang of it. It was amazing how much of a difference it made and how well her real hair blended with them.

Note to other newbies… fake hair does not curl normally. You have to cool down each piece for it to hold its shape.

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Taylor had fine, wispy bangs, and we wanted both of the girls’ hair to match so I did one of the tiniest (and probably most difficult) little french braids I’ve ever done, which meant that I needed her to hold REALLY still. Taylor’s favorite candy are tootsie rolls, so we told her that if she held really still and never took her eyes off of it, that she could have it.

PEOPLE, SHE NEVER MOVED.
It was hysterical. Even when I scooped her up to better position her for the hot curling iron, she still never took her eyes off it.

I just wish I could apply that level of concentration to anything at 25.

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We let the little girls pack their own flower pails and Taylor was convinced that we couldn’t leave any petals unused.

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Sisters.

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Excited to have a new aunt/sister.

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I posted this picture of Josh and I to Instagram with this overly cheesy caption:

“You may technically be my uncle, but growing up as your sidekick with you as my big brother you influenced everything from my taste in movies to my humor and so much about how I approach life. I am so happy that you found Sonia and that she’s so much cooler than you.”

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Aside for a short rain during dinner, it was such a beautiful day, and such a fun wedding. I am so happy that Sonia is a part of our family now and that I was able to be home for so long to help celebrate.

And before I go I have to share a few of the professional photos that were on Facebook. To my North Dakota friends, definitely check out Erin at Soulshine Photography. She did an amazing job! I can’t wait to see the rest of the pictures!!

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Photo by Soulshine Photography
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Photo by Soulshine Photography
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Photo by Soulshine Photography
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Photo by Soulshine Photography

Cheers!

Family, Oregon, Photography

Oregon in July | Part 3 | Wedding Rehearsal

Friends, I am SO EXCITED to share this post with you.

I was a little disappointed at how shaky my hands must have been that day, because there are a quite a few pictures that could have been much clearer. But as you can see I had a LOT of trouble trying to narrow down what I was going to share.

But I just love weddings, our cabin and so many of these people so much, and it really was such a beautiful evening and so much fun.

I mentioned in my first post about this trip that I got a new phone and so I wasn’t connected to my work email anymore. With the exception of a few Snapchats and quick social media shares, I shut out a lot of the outside world. And I am so glad I did, because I was able to soak in these memories.

View Part 1 about “Home and Wedding Prep” HERE
View Part 2 about “Girl’s Day at the Salon” HERE

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Brandt was Josh’s high school cross country coach and mentor, and now they have become friends and fellow coaches.

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dancing with namemark

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Their idea, not mine 🙂

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Josh's hand with namemark

short ribs with namemark

Nothing beats my Daddy’s cooking.

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Taylor with namemark

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The cook (Dad) finally got a moment to relax.

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Sonia’s Uncle Johannes came in from Germany to walk her down the isle.

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The guy (Josh’s friend Bryce) who was going to be officiating was not going to arrive until the actual wedding day, so my Grampy stepped in for the rehearsal. He might have had a bit too much fun with it.

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Josh and his groomsmen.

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My uncles Josh and Jay, and two of my favorite guys.

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The bridesmaids and flower girls.

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The Ego Men… can you tell they are related?

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Sonia’s family are so much fun!

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He is so weird. The rest of us are sort of wondering why she said yes 🙂

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Brian is Josh’s best friend from high school and his older sister Amy became friends with Sonia because they work together. And those are Amy’s little girls, Taylor and Elaina.

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After the rehearsal my Mom and Grammy were back to prep. Owning a flower shop comes in handy sometimes…

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My Mama doing her thing.

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Sonia and her Mom.

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Thanks for taking a look! I will be back soon with a final post about the wedding day. And for those of you wondering… yes, I will be posting a Facebook album with pictures from all of my trip posts soon.

Cheers!