Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ski Trip


I've been a bad, bad blogger.

What can I say? Sometimes life just gets a bit crazy. I know you all can feel me on that one.

The last week has been full of friends and family. Errands and craziness. Love and laughter. Going, going, going. Do, do, do. Bake, bake, bake.

Whew...I feel exhausted all over again just thinking about it!!!

I will be honest and tell you that I am happy it is over. Everything was lovely and I enjoyed it - but I am happy it is over. That is how I have operated this year, in a constant state of having to look, and move, forward.

It has been both my weakness and my strength.

That also goes for chocolate. And wine. Preferably a Pinot Noir. Pinot Blanc will do as well. Oh how easily I digress!



After all of the Christmas madness, my Dad, brother, sister and I decided to go skiing on Sunday. One of the things I love about living in Portland is that we are only about an hour or so from Mt. Hood which makes a last minute ski trip totally possible.



Here is my Dad and sister as we got ready to hit the slopes.



Before we knew it, we were in the chair lift and ready to ski. I do not get up to the mountain nearly enough and this is something I would like to change about my life. Skiing has always been a joy for me and shouldn't we all spend more time partaking in joyful activities? I do believe the answer is yes.



Here I am with my sister on the ski lift. I am wearing my new white ski jacket that I got for Christmas. I love my new ski jacket. L.O.V.E.





Can I just say that I love where I live? I have travelled a lot in the US of A and there are so many parts of America that have taken my breath away, but there is just something about Oregon that continues to amaze me.



Many only think of rain, hippies and flannel shirts when they think of our Beaver state - but the reality is so much more.



When I was living down in Southern California, it was the trees I missed the most - especially the ones covered in snow.



Trees as far as the eye can see. It is our equivalent of dessert after a mediocre entree of rain.



Here is my Dad in front of one of his favorite views. This is about as high as you can get at the particular ski resort we were visiting.



Me. Dad. Brother. Everyone in the family skis except for my brother - he is a snowboarder through and through. Those darn kids these days!

Just kidding all you snowboarders out there - got nothin' but love for ya!

***Side note*** - To any and all parents who want their kids to know how to ski: my parents literally took us to the mountain when we were YOUNG and sent us down the hills. It is the best way to learn. I highly recommend it. Dan and I plan on teaching our kids this way. Remind me I said that as I stand in tears while I send my precious wee one down a freaking mountain.



My sister and me. That girl drives me nuts, but I love her to death. I think we both know more about each other than we care to admit. It is the lifelong strength/detriment of having a sister.

All of you with sisters out there know exactly what I mean. Those who don't, well, I can tell you two things: 1) You do not fully understand the art of a good grab and pull of long hair, and 2) Laughing until you are crying takes on a whole new meaning between sisters.



Because we got up to the mountain a bit late, most of the trip was spent night skiing, which I actually love. It is less crowded and there is just something special about skiing in the dark. You realize what a small piece of the puzzle you really are - in a good way. Does that make sense?



Brother and sister on chair lift. I do love those little pain-in-the-butts.



Way up on the mountain near one of the lifts there is a little warming hut that was built in 1939 and it has a HUGE fireplace. They sell food, warm drinks and a variety of other little snacks. It is the perfect place to toast the fingers and toes. At the moment this picture was taken, I was loving my life. I had gotten pretty cold outside and there is nothing more lovely than coming in from the cold and being so, so warm. Delicious.



My sister and I taking full advantage of the fire.



It was during our stop in the warming hut that my Dad learned that his beloved team, the Denver Broncos, lost to the Philadelphia Eagles in a last minute field goal. There were a few moments of sadness at that table.

It's alright Dad - there is always next year...at least we can still beat the Oakland Raiders...oh wait...



Here is our little gang in warming hut. After this was taken we headed back to the slopes for some more runs until the cold got the best of us and we headed home. It was a really great day and I hope to get back up there soon. After all of the hustle and bustle and stress of Christmas, that fresh mountain air was just what I needed.

I hope that you all had a great Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Whatever this time of year means to you.

Next up: New Year's Eve! Nothing like New Year's to really remind you of who you are missing!

Now what did I do with that bottle of Pinot Noir...???

Friday, December 25, 2009

Noel


Merry Christmas to you and yours.
May you all have peace in your hearts and hope in your spirits.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

My Christmas Wish

I'm trying really hard.

I'm trying to be happy it is Christmas - this holiday that I have deeply loved my whole life.

I'm trying to look around and see all of the beauty. I'm trying.

The truth is, Dan and I found out that the US Embassy in London is backlogged in paperwork and they have pushed him being allowed to come here about another 2 months. We thought he would be here for Christmas.

We thought that for sure he'd be here by New Year's.

It has now been over a year we have been involved in this immigration process and will be the second Christmas in a row that the government has kept us apart.

Isn't it funny that the second you become more committed to the person they start telling you that you are not allowed to do about 20 million different things?

To say that news crushed us a little bit is an understatement. But we are trying. We have to. We have to keep hoping that they will give us the okay soon. We have to believe it is just around the corner for us. We have to feel resolute in our diligence of doing everything the legal and correct way.

So - there is my cloud. Now for the silver lining.

If there is one thing that I can say I have learned this year, it has been a true and unyielding perspective of what is really important in my life.

It is not anything that can be perfectly wrapped and put under the Christmas tree. It cannot be baked and decorated. It cannot be polished and displayed.

It is not money and it is most definitely not possessions.

It is people. The people you love. The people who know you and love you for who you are and support you and care for you. The people who will confront you when you are wrong, even if you don't want to hear it. The people who will still love you despite it all and who will always be there, despite it all.

That is truly what matters at the end of the day.

No amount of money could get Dan here sooner. We have tried. Suddenly little things like my house looking perfectly decorated and getting gifts for Christmas just doesn't hold the same weight as in years past. Sure next year I will probably be back in Christmas mode full swing, but this year of 2009, it has been all about growing up and learning lessons. It's been about sacrifice and saving.

It's been about learning what is important and taking comfort in the solid resolution that what I have waiting for me - and what I have been fighting for - is the most worthwhile cause that has ever come into my life. It is about trusting that this too, shall pass. It is about love.

So, my Christmas wish for you all this year is that you take a moment to take stock of those around you. Give yourself a moment to pause from the madness and tell those close to you that you love them. Give them a hug. Cherish their presence. Savor their being. Delight in their existence in your life.

It is, after all, what Christmas should be about.

May you all have peace in your hearts and a lovely Christmas.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Homemade Gift Tags


Anyone else tired of spending money? Bueller? Bueller?

I don't know about all y'all, but 2009 has been bloody expensive. Between the immigration fees, traveling to England 3 times to see Dan, wedding costs and everything else - we have spent a small fortune this year on very out-of-the-ordinary expenses. This coupled with a recent speeding ticket and my car breaking down last week - I am darn tired of spending money!!!

Somebody STOP the insanity!!!!

I found myself feeling a bit overwhelmed the other day as I was thinking about all of this and it left me needing a release. When I get like this, there are three things that I know will calm me down:

1) Cleaning
2) Working out
3) Doing a craft

On this particular day I had already cleaned and I just could NOT be bothered with going to the gym, so craft time it was. BUT - it HAD to be a craft that did not include spending money. This was rule number 1, 2 and 3. Fo' sho'. Yo.


About a week ago I was bored and so I googled "Vintage Santa" (this is when you get so jealous of my super exciting life) and this popped up. I immediately thought to myself, those would be cute gift tags and printed out a few pages.

Don't you just lurrrve Google?

So, on this day of a need for anything creative, I grabbed these sheets of paper and wasted no time.


This was a cute gift tag given to me on a gift this summer and it was the perfect size to use as a stencil. By this point, I was feeling better already.


Then I was able to scrape together this little grouping of craft basics. Now, I know there are blogs that show you how to refinish an entire kitchen with a toothbrush and turn your 1977 sideboard into a 4-story house, but this blogger right here, she is quite happy with some glue and glitter, thank you very much.


I wanted to put this up here as an example of one of the WORST photos I have ever taken. The color. The flash. The lack of focus. Wrong, wrong, wrong. I do like the glitter though.

I have always loved glitter. Since I can remember it has caught my eye.


Within 10 minutes I was using my little stencil and making some gift tags. I simply used a pencil to draw the outline and cut them out.


Again - another horrible picture. I don't know what my deal was but I was apparently not bothering with taking decent photos. See what glitter does to me?



I didn't want too much glitter on each tag, as less is more when it comes to this kind of thing, so I found a toothpick, dipped it into the glue and used it to apply a thin layer where I wanted it.


This Santa was my favorite. Here is the before.



And the after. Just a little bit of bling to his jolly 'ol cap and it was good to go!


Two more close-ups. Again - the photos...they are bad and I am sorry. The Santa on the left has a sparkly beard and the Santa on the right, a sparkly green sack.


One by one I glittered them all. By the time I had finished, I felt much calmer and less stressed - mission accomplished. PLUS - now I have gift tags to use that didn't cost me a thing! All they need is some string or raffia on the top and they are good to go.

It's about time something didn't cost me a thing. Everything costs something. It's a thing of life. Thing, thing, thing.

Aaaaand - I think that last little paragraph (for lack of a better word) is my cue to leave. Stick a fork in me baby 'cause I'm done.

Now if you will excuse me so I can wipe this tomato off my face.

Happy Holidays!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Solid Truths

The following statements I know to be solid truths:

1) Morgan Freeman's voice as he narrates March of the Penguins provides soothing relaxation equal to hot stone back massages, the smell of fresh lavender and laying in a hammock in Cancun combined.

2) Egg nog can only properly be enjoyed warm with a nip of brandy in it.

3) Too much egg nog with nips of brandy will exponentially increase the size of your bum.

4) Saying 'bum' sounds much nicer than saying 'butt.'

5) The Dollar Tree is an amazing place to go for all things having to do with the need to wrap a gift. I discovered this today and felt quite cheated by my years of purchasing gift bags/wrapping paper elsewhere.

6) Rarely do you have to buy things full price. This is a relatively new discovery for me that has been both eye-opening and liberating.

7) Working out is as much about your mental health as it is about your physical health.

8) Making yourself workout is a huge pain the BUM.

9) The Wizard of OZ is the best movie ever made.

10) Birkenstock shoes should never, ever, EVER be worn to any kind of formal affair. This also applies to Crocks. Just don't do it people.

11) It is impossible to feel lonely in a good book store.

12) Long distance relationships can work.

13) It is not long after you get engaged that parents can no longer resist talking about you giving them grand kids. Especially if you are the first born.

14) Dark purple looks good on everyone.

15) In England, 100 miles is a long way and in America, 100 years is a long time.

What are some solid truths that you know???

Friday, December 11, 2009

Maddie My Love


This is Maddie. She is one of the true loves of my life.



That face! I will never get enough of it.



She is the quirkiest dog I have ever known, but that is what makes her so fantastic.



Yes Maddie - I'm looking at you, you little Border Collie and who-knows-what mix.



She usually lives at my Dad and Step-Mom's house but she is still our dog. The day I took these pictures, my sister, Caitlin, (who is also my roommate) had taken her on a big hike and she was tired while sprawled out on Caitlin's bed. When I got home from work to find her there sheer joy overtook me in about .348 seconds.



Here I am giving her some lovin'. See how she is leaning her head against my hand? I LOVE when she does that.

Thank goodness we have dogs in this crazy world. Do any of you have dogs that you would give your left leg for?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Decorette Shop


Before I start this post I would just like to share that when I left my house this morning it was 9 degrees. That's right - 9 degrees!!! Yet - there is not a drop of moisture in the air which means no snow. Sigh. At age 27, I still wish for snow days like a child. Anyway...


This past weekend I was on the quest for little wedding favor boxes and it was recommended that I check out a place called the Decorette Shop just outside of Portland. I had never heard of it but my Mom and I decided to check it out. As we pulled up to this tiny little place we both remarked that the sign which looked straight out of the 1950's.

"This reminds me of the little shops that I grew up with!" my Mom said with excitement.

My Mom grew up in Pennsylvania and, despite having lived in Oregon for about 28 years now, stills sees herself as an East Coaster. She often laments about the lack of real deli's, bakeries and specialty shops out here in the West and, after having experienced the real thing back East, I am afraid that she is totally, totally right.



We really didn't know what to expect but as soon as we walked in we were greeted with bin after bin of cupcake toppers. They had every character imaginable to decorate a cake.


I liked this little one.



This is a place for serious bakers. They. Have. Everything. I didn't even know that shops like this existed but now that I know it does, I might have to find a reason to bake a 7 layer square cake.


These little adornments aren't quite my style, but I liked that they were there. Kind of like lace doilies or tartan fabric - you will probably never see those things in my home, but I certainly don't want to live in a world without them.


Every shape you could imagine. To be honest - this overwhelmed me a bit. I had visions of lofty dreams of a cake shaped like a castle and then me, brokenhearted, as the cake won't come out of the pan. I have a bit of a problem with over-analyzing. I like to blame it on being the first-born.


Need a fancy little do-da to put the cake on? Check!


Cookie cutters in every shape ever made in the entire world? Check!


Candy mold in every shape ever made in the world? Check, check, CHECK!




This place seriously has everything people. I felt inspired. I felt happy. I felt...




...liked I wanted some chocolate. Can you blame me?



These mushy tubes were full of lemon, strawberry and other assorted fillings.


Frosting. That is all that needs to be said about that.



Oh SILPAT mats - I love you. I already professed my love of these mats here, but I will just say again that these make baking 12,456 times easier. If you like to bake, GET ONE. DO IT.


Pie plates, pie covers - pie everything.


Little sugar things to decorate with. I am sure these are officially called something, but know it, I do not.

Apparently I have decided to sound like Yoda. Or should I say, sound like Yoda, I do? I will stop now.


Ah ha! Boxes! We finally found them waaaaaay in the back. Of course there were a million choices. I picked out a few sample boxes to show Dan via Skype (which is how we have pretty much planned our entire wedding) and was a happy girl.

If any of you are ever in the Portland area and want to hit up an old fashioned and totally rockin' baking shop, I highly recommend this place. The customer service was top notch and we had a lot of fun.

Bake on, sistas, bake on.
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