Lucky for me, Karl and I had planned a trip to visit his brother Christopher and sister in law Natalie right when we needed it most. I kid you not, God knew we needed that holiday. We weren't even planning on going to see them at all this year, but decided a couple months ago to bite the bullet and risk taking time without pay in order to head out to Alberta for a few days. My mind and sanity are so grateful we did.
Natalie and I are very different people. We get along fabulously, but without an attraction to a couple of red neck brothers our paths would never have crossed. Kansas girls and BC girls just don't normally find their way into each others lives.
Usually when the four of us get together we go bowling, drink beer and margaritas, go to the movies, and play endless board games. We also eat a lot and go for coffee. It's kind of our thing. It's not a Morton sibling and wife hang out without going to Starbucks. Now that I don't work there anymore, those trips have gotten somewhat less economical.
We only hit up the Starbucks once this trip. Since giving up caffeine (5 1/2 months!) I don't do London Fogs anymore so the whole Starbucks experience is less exciting. I just get decaf americanos with a pump of white mocha, in case you're wondering. I don't really buy into the whole pumpkin spice thing, but everyone else does. Karl, Christopher, and Natalie all did, too. This sign might have had something to do with it:
I'm going to be totally honest with you, I have no idea what this is all about.
Natalie is also pretty easy going with her food measurements. It made me feel empowered. If Natalie can do it, I can do it. And I do do it. Regularly. Except now I feel even better about it because I know I'm not the only Morton woman that is a bit of a free spirit in the kitchen.
That's where the similarities end, though, and Natalie just keeps getting more amazing. Friday was spent pre-making everything for the rest of the weekend. Every. Little. Thing. Within reason. Steaks were not pre-cooked, but everything else was ready to go into the oven whenever we wanted to eat it.
Not only did Natalie exhibit an extraordinary amount of forethought (last time they were here we had pizza), but she also made entirely new recipes. Everything came out of a cooking magazine and was totally new to her.
She even adapted a pinterest idea to make Karl a race car birthday cake.
As you can see, it was quite the hit.
Natalie really brought her A-game in as non-competitive a way as possible. Since she introduced me to the idea of taking charge in the kitchen days in advance (never going to happen, FYI), I thought I'd introduce her to favourite pastime: Spray painting stuff.
Behold! A pair of stools that came with the house:
Cute and country kitchen-ish. But are they living up to their potential?
Natalie having a go. I had to share the spraying, even though I didn't want to.
I'm not sure if it was the heat or just the kind of paint we got, but the nozzle started to get gunked up shortly after we started painting. It made it hard to keep spraying so we called in reinforcements.
Karl showing us how it's done.
The finished product was something to be proud of. Even though Natalie didn't go for my dark blue of choice, I still think she made a good call on the colour.
I wasn't planning on wrapping up our whole trip to Swallwell in one post, but since it looks like I pretty much have, I'll share one more favourite moment.
While Karl and Christopher partook in another traditional activity, fixing Samson, Natalie's Jeep, us womenfolk walked their dog Wishbone and met some locals.
I'm not as city as I might look. I have been around horses before.
Natalie knows horses, too. She's a country girl.
And, finally, since I'm on such a picture sharing roll, I'll end with a photo.
Put out your jazz hands for rural Alberta!