Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Best Buys 2009

As we looked to simplify life in 2009, two investments come to mind ... that we ask ourselves ... why didn't we do this sooner?!?!
  • we invested in a heated mattress pad and have noticed improved sleeping patterns. A coworker recommended this and it was one of the best investments of 2009. A good night's sleep can make all the difference in your day.
  • After waiting months after our Verizon contract expired, we purchased two iPhones on Black Friday for $49 each and love this powerful organizational tool. It includes a phone, iPod, camera (still and video), photos, calendar, a free texting app, Bible with many translations, Google Earth, a Basic Spanish app, games galore: Bejeweled 2, Skee-Ball, Solitaire, Hearts, Cribbage, Scrabble, Yahtzee, Jumbline, Sudoku, a GPS, iTreadmill, Walkmeter, SparkPeople, FastFoodCal.
My last cell was a flip phone and as a call came in I would flip it open ... and it would flip shut ending the call before I could even say hello. Sorry if this happened on your call : (

Home: Simplified

Monday I moved my new box of cookware to the kitchen to wash and put away (thanks again, kids!) and for some reason ... I made a decision to take all our holiday decorations down -- tree and all ... by myself. It took most of the day because as I packed things away I was also "simplifying" (purging) some of our Christmas decor. Yesterday I tackled the Christmas storage closet ... organizing gift wrap, bows, tissue paper and putting everything away until next year. I did discover a crate of gift wrapping essentials (that I couldn't find before Christmas) after stocking up on clearance items Saturday @ Target. I guess I'm set for several years now.
It's nice to have the house clean and in order ... it just feels peaceful and relaxing ... Simplified.
The lights are still up ... I will leave that to Walt. I'm not brave enough to get up on the ladder : )

Word of the Year 2010

Pronunciation: \vī-ˈta-lə-tē\
Function: noun
Date: 1592
Definition: the state of being strong and active; energy. Physically. Mentally. Spiritually. Creatively.
  • being able to survive and grow; the capacity to live and develop
  • energetic style
  • healthiness
  • power of enduring
After a six year struggle in my return to health, 2009 revealed a glimmer of vitality in my life. I have been giving my "word of the year" a lot of thought during the month of December and this one keeps standing out. My goal/focus has been shifting ... I want to be stronger. Making better food choices, joining a gym and working on fitness, scheduling an earlier bedtime ... working on growing mentally, spiritually ... renewing interest in projects and creativity.
As we near the end of the year, I have been reviewing my 2009 word: Simplify. I have worked at making life as uncomplicated as possible ... despite some pretty complicated issues I have had to face this year.
As I reflect back over 2009, I am so thankful for those who have come alongside me through prayer, support and friendship. And as Steve shared in Sunday's message ... in each situation we found ourselves facing this year ... "God showed up!"
Welcome 2010 ... I am excited about the coming year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

It has been two months ...

... since I've had time to sit down and read a good book! I'm working on the stack of books I brought home from work and the first one I finished is, "When Heaven Fell." It's the story about the 1975 Operation Babylift where more than four thousand Vietnamese children were flown out of their country to homes in America, Canada, Europe and Australia. I have read several other cultural books by this author, Carolyn Marsden and have enjoyed each one.
As I looked over my LibraryThing list I only counted 24 books read for 2009. Usually I read between 35-50 books a year so this is something I need to improve for 2010. I think starting a new job this year and working longer hours has changed my joy of reading. Maybe I just need a fresh start ... try a new author ... new titles ... a new genre. Any suggestions? Leave a comment : )

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Cookies Anyone?

Monday night I went to our annual cookie exchange ... my 20th year. I've missed a few along the way due to illness or ER visits but this year ... thankfully, I felt well. I made my favorite cookie recipe ... Chocolate Crackles. I love them but I have to say that my kitchen looked like a snowstorm had blown through after rolling all of them in powdered sugar. I packaged twelve dozen for the exchange, took a couple dozen to TCC's Tastes and Sounds and sent the rest to work with Walt.
Tuesday the moms at school invited the staff to a "cookie exchange" ... tables were covered with plates and platters of cookies they had lovingly baked for us. We were invited to select two dozen cookies but we were encouraged to enjoy another round as there were so many cookies leftover. What a thoughtful school community. I would love to have some of their recipes.
Needless to say, I will not have to worry about baking next week. If you stop by, please help us out and have a cookie or two. They're delicious!
P.S. Matt: I saved your favorite -- Loretta's candied nuts :)

Our Christmas Card

This year we discovered that Costco Photo has a new option where you can custom design your own Christmas photo card so we decided to give it a try this year. Walt tweaked the template I downloaded last year and we just added paper, embellishments, and photos. It was fun to have enough space to include everyone in the family ... including a few 35th anniversary shots.
Sending our Christmas greetings to all of you ...

P.S. Passing on a great idea ... we sent our Christmas card jpg file to Costco and ordered an 8x10 to insure the color was correct and that the pictures weren't distorted etc. before placing a large quantity card order. I framed this and displayed it in our home during the holidays. It was enjoyable to view this often since we usually send the cards and don't usually have one on display in our home. A good idea to keep in mind for 2010!

It's Been A Hard Days Night ...

This Beatle song was playing on the radio when I pulled out of the school parking lot yesterday ... the first minute of my two week winter break. Very appropriate for how much I have been juggling while working full-time and keeping up with Christmas traditions.
You know you're ready for a break when ...
  • While on lunch duty and trying to keep the cafeteria quiet, I walk by a second grade table with the intention of saying, "This table is too noisy." but in my fatigued mind I said, "This table is too quiet." ... and believe me, they haven't let me forget it : ) Now any time I'm near their table they comment loud enough for me to hear ... "Hey, we're being too quiet!" and laugh. OK ... hopefully they forget about that over the break. I think I'm starting to feel "at home" in my school community and find myself getting attached to so many of the students. There are more hugs, a lot of smiles and teasing ... and connection in seeing a student's love of reading. I think I will miss many of them over the next two weeks.
  • My RSS inbox shows 287 unread posts. I haven't had time to keep up with my favorite blogs and miss these "internet" friends and what is going on in their lives.
  • Shopping is only about a third of the way completed and I haven't started wrapping yet. Everything always comes together by the 24th and I'm thankful to be off work to pull it all together.
  • I haven't had the time or energy to make an appointment for a haircut ... my last one was in June >gasp<>

There have been very few blank squares on my calendar this month. We have been to parties, cookie exchanges, school programs, dinner out with friends, church programs, volunteering time as stocking stuffers @ Templeton, shopping for presents, mailing cards ... all that is usually associated with the season. And it can all squeeze out the reason for the season ... Jesus' birthday and "making room" for Him in our heart ... and with our time.
I am looking forward to a relaxing vacation ... one of the great benefits of my job! I hope you are finding time for JOY ON YOUR JOURNEY this week.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Bargain Hunting

One of the fun things about Christmas shopping is stumbling onto a great bargain. Yesterday I found this blouse on the clearance rack at Kohl's for $3.20. I'm into brown now so even if I only wear it camping at Wallowa it was worth every penny. However, I'm sure it will get use beyond camping. But for now it will be stored with my spring-summer apparel ... bbbrrrr ... it's too cold to wear this today. The current temperature is 33 degrees. I'm heading downstairs to sit by the gas fireplace and warm up!

Ssshhhhh! We're Secret Santas

Last night we picked up the grandkids for a dinner date and Christmas shopping for Mom & Dad. We let them pick the place and it was WENDY'S ... honest, Grandpa had no influence on the decision : ) We enjoyed our favorite entrees and the best part of the meal ... a Leap Frog calculator!
Next it was off to the Tanasbourne area and their favorite place to shop ... Target. What fun we had looking at EVERYTHING ... especially the toy dept. We now have some good ideas for our shopping lists. Our favorite part of this adventure was in the Christmas aisle. Calleigh found all the dancing-singing stuffed characters and had an entire row "performing" at once. What fun!
We did accomplish our mission ... these Secret Santas are good. They picked out one gift for Mom and one for Dad. We even bought gift bags and tissue, went over to the snack bar in the store, ordered Colin's favorite --popcorn, and sat down to wrap our gifts before heading home.
I think this will be one of the highlights of the holiday season and could easily become an annual tradition. However, we need to plan "date nights" for the other 11 months of the year. I'll have to come up with some fun ideas ... do you have one to share?
The only disappointment in our outing ... my "purse" camera was left behind at home. It would have been wonderful to capture some of the magic of the evening!
I hope you are finding JOY in this season ...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Good Morning Sunriver

This is the view from our Sunriver window ... a wonderful wintery welcome for our day!
We are enjoying this very large, spacious house ... the snow is an added bonus.
What a wonderful family "retreat."

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Good Read

One of my favorite things about our fall "retreat" in Sunriver is uninterrupted time to read. I usually bring a stack of books and so far I have finished two. It seems like each year at this time Richard Paul Evans's newest Christmas book is released and is at the top of my Sunriver reading stack. And I was not disappointed! It is a story you do not want to put down.
Evans was inspired to write this book after recalling a seventh-grade assignment of writing your own obituary. Thus begins the story ... James Kier reads his obituary in the Tribune only to discover what people really think about him. With three weeks before Christmas he has no idea what this article is about to set in motion. It is a great story of redemption, forgiveness and our legacy.
Now it's time to get back to "Gone With The Wind" and the rebuilding of Atlanta : )

Friday, October 23, 2009

Living As A Desert

Not many people I am acquainted with have heard of Sjogren's Syndrome (pronounced SHOW-grins) but it affects 1-4 million people in the United States. Women are nine times more likely to have this than men.

Sjogren's Syndrome is a chronic autoimmune disease in which people's white blood cells attack their moisture-producing glands. The most prominent symptoms are dry eyes and dry mouth but it can also cause dysfunction of other organs -- kidneys, gastrointestinal, blood vessels, lungs, liver etc. It can also cause extreme fatigue and joint pain.

On average it takes about seven years to get a diagnosis for this disease and that is exactly how long it took in my diagnosis. For years I went to doctor visits with various symptoms only to be told I was suffering from depression, fibromyalgia etc. It wasn't until Ron, a Physician's Asst. investigated a little further. After I shared a strong family history of autoimmune disease he ran tests and sent me to a Rheumatologist.

Over the years I have had some ups and downs with symptoms, remission, medications but I have been able to tolerate most of it. However, in June I started having mouth sores and tongue cracks ... my mouth burns all the time. I find it hard to eat most foods and have difficulty talking for long periods of time. My mouth and eyes are so dry that I feel like my body has turned in to a desert!

Right now I am trying several remedies, medications etc. but so far all of this has had no impact on the cracks and burning. The Dr. says stress aggravates this disease and suggested I reduce my work hours / workload. This week I had two days off work so we rented a house in Sunriver for four nights. It has been so nice to rest, read ... relax. Hopefully, this retreat will be the perfect Rx to get this Sjogren's thing turned around.

Fall Family Fun

Sunday the family gathered at Lee's Farm for a fun fall day together. We were a bit concerned about the potential weather and bundled up in warm coats and boots only to be welcomed with patches of blue sky and warm temps. The perfect pumpkin patch day!
Our first order of business was to grab a bag of their delicious fresh pumpkin donuts. They melt in your mouth. Colin and Calleigh wanted to visit the face painting booth and each sat patiently while waiting to see the artists' creations. Colin chose aliens and Calleigh wanted to be a kitty.
We ventured over to the jumping castle where Calleigh had little interest ... her eyes were on the giant slide. Daddy was her first co-pilot and then grandma offered to go with her. I think the slide may be a tad bit too waxed because toward the bottom we were "airborne" and my head hit the slide pretty hard. Uncle Tim even got a turn at Calleigh's request. Our next adventure was riding the horses. I think Calleigh nearly fell asleep in the saddle. She is at the point of wanting to give up naps but still gets a little tired in the afternoon. The ride was much too relaxing!
After picking up a few pumpkins and gourds we drove back to our house for a meal of homemade soups and snacks. Of course, our day wouldn't be complete without our annual cookie decorating. There were some very creative designers this year ... after several decades of doing this, we are getting quite good at it : )
It was a very full, fun day ... LOVE spending time with the family. I hope you are enjoying some fun fall traditions at your house!

Oregon Culinary Institute

Last Friday evening we had the pleasure of sharing a new dining experience with Donna and Pierre at the Oregon Culinary Institute.
The dinner offering is a four-course meal from their Autumn menu at a cost of $18 per person. For a starter I selected the Smoky Lentil Soup and the Roasted Beet Salad from the salad choices ... both fabulous selections. With four choices in the entree section I chose the Maple-Brined Pork Chop that included roasted acorn squash, creamed brussels sprouts and chestnuts. I am not a big fan of brussels sprouts but these were delicious. To top off our meal I selected the Chocolate Dream Torte. It was hard to narrow it down with so many wonderful choices. Soft drinks, coffee and tea are only $1 with free refills and glasses of wine start at $4.
The Oregon Culinary Institute is open Monday through Friday. Lunch is served at noon and dinner at 7 pm. Reservations can be made at 503.961.6200. They are located at 1701 SW Jefferson in Portland.
We will definitely go back again. The staff was very courteous and attentive, the food was fabulous ... and of course, our dining companions are the best : ) I highly recommend giving it a try!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Blubel Studio

Last Saturday was probably the last window of opportunity to have our 35th anniversary pictures taken before the weather turned to the rainy season. In May Michelle arranged a photo shoot with photographer, Kim Harris (Blubel Studios) for our 35th anniversary. It seems like we started a tradition of posing for pictures in my wedding dress on our 25th and 30th anniversaries. However, for our 35th anniversary we wanted someone to take them with a professional eye.
It seems like the summer was overly hot and busy so we leaned more toward a fall date ... and then I got sick and had to cancel. Last Saturday Kim had an opening @ 4p.m. and it was the perfect day ... blue sky, gorgeous fall colors etc.
Our photo backdrop was the Nike campus ... what a beautiful place! Kim is so organized. She had a list of poses, location for photos ... so many great ideas -- even a bouquet! If you ever want a family photo taken, you will definitely want to consider Kim. She is also very fun to work with and puts you at ease.
Here's a link for a "sneak peak"-- That girls does wonders with her camera and photoshop skills. Also, check out the other photos she captured over the weekend ... just below ours. Fabulous!
Thanks, Kim ... you're the best : ) We loved working with you!

Friday, October 09, 2009

Goal ... Complete

A wonderful gift of a day off and I have spent all morning working on my scrapbook album. I just sent the last seven 12x12 pages to Costco for printing ... 2006 is done Yikes ... the album contains 132 pages! Let's not calculate the cost ... to me, each page is priceless : ) Now on to 2007 which includes big events ... our cruise and Calleigh's birth. New experiences ahead.
I would like to work on getting current so that I can concentrate on deepening my Photoshop Elements and photo editing skills. It would be fun to do a little designing someday. I am looking forward to the new PSE version coming out soon.
Well, now on to my to-do list. Closet organizing is at the top of the list. Time to move those summer clothes out and make room for sweaters.
I love days like this!

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Soup = Medicine

Brian and Michelle gave me a Rachael Ray Everyday magazine subscription for my birthday this year ... a gift that I will use year round. I love the recipes, food ideas etc. As soon as it arrived in the mail, I started making a list of recipes to try. One that stood out as an addition to my weekly menu planner was Chicken and Orzo Soup on page 105 in the October 2009 issue. It's in her 30 Minute Meal section so it is very doable time-wise. Since I've been sick Walt helped with some of the chopping and ingredient prep. I have to say it is THE best soup I've had in a long time! Each bite felt like a healing medicine.

Chicken and Orzo Soup
One 32-ounce container (4 cups) chicken stock
2 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 pound chicken tenders cut into small pieces
2 TBSP chopped fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, grated or finely chopped
1/3 lb mushroom caps, quartered
Salt and pepper
2/3 cup orzo pasta
2 cups arugula, chopped
1 cup fresh basil leaves, shredded or torn
1 tsp grated lemon peel
Grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese, for passing around the table

1. In a medium soup pot, bring the chicken stock and 2 cups water to a low boil.
2. Meanwhile, in another soup pot, heat the EVOO, 2 turns of the pan, over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes Add the thyme and bay leaf, then stir in the onion, carrot and mushrooms; season with salt and pepper. Cover the pan and cook the vegetables until softened, 6 to 7 minutes.
3. Pour the hot stock over the vegetables and bring to a boil. *Stir in the orzo and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the arugula and basil to wilt. Stir in the lemon peel, discard the bay leaf and season with salt and pepper. Serve with lots of grated cheese at the table.
Serves 4

Even though I am still running a slight fever, Walt took me out for a drive in the country between Wilsonville and Sherwood this afternoon. With the warm sunshine filling the truck and the relaxing view of the countryside ... I came home feeling a bit human again.
Now ... back to the couch!

*Revised 10.10.09 Michelle pointed out that I forgot to include instructions for adding the orzo, arugula and basil. Sorry about that ... it must have been the fever : ) Thanks, Michelle!

Flu Season

Friends have commented that when they see big gaps between posts they are worried that I am sick. Well ... that is exactly the reason this week. I went from having allergy symptoms ... to getting a flu shot ... to being very sick. I had to leave work Wednesday and stayed home Thursday and Friday. I have had quite the "laundry list" of symptoms! I went to Urgent Care Thursday and the Dr. gave me an antibiotic for a sinus-eye infection and that has helped. I have spent many days on the couch reading and sleeping. I did try to read the blogs I subscribe to but the ones featuring food and recipes made me ill to look at.
I have had many disappointing cancellations ... a long awaited Rheumatology appt., our 35th anniversary photo shoot, our Friday night dinner date with friends, and the annual Englewood reunion. Even though I am sad to miss so many fun events, I'm sure all appreciate that I have kept my germs to myself : )
I guess this is the first "welcome back" to school bug of the season but with my new schedule ... sad to say ... I think this may become a more common lifestyle until June.
On the road to restored health ....

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Happy Anniversary TCC

Sunday we celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Tigard Christian Church. Since we have only been members for 20 years, it was fun to journey back over the adventure of breaking ground for the new church in 1959 and all the lives that were impacted by this body of believers on Hall and Omara. It was fun to spend the day with pastors and members from the past ... to see children who have grown to adulthood ... to reminisce about where we've been. But it was also a day to look forward to where we are headed.
Leroy Lawson, founding pastor of this small church, shared the message today. He encouraged us, as we are in the process of searching for a new pastor, to make this church one your grandkids want to come to. So often we get "stuck" and find it hard to change ... we stick with OUR likes, OUR ways ... "this is how we did it back then." I checked our website and the sermon hasn't been uploaded yet, but I would encourage you to check back soon and listen to this great message.
Happy Anniversary TCC ... for 50 years you have been a shining light in the Tigard community.

Potato Packin'

Saturday we spent the morning at the Oregon Food Bank with a group of eight from church. This visit included a new experience ... aprons, gloves and hairnets! We were assigned to pack 5 pound bags of potatoes and when that was finished ... it was on to packing pears.
It is amazing what a large group of volunteers can accomplish working side-by-side for a good cause. One thing that impressed me was the age range of volunteers ... from the elderly to school-age children. I was reminded that we are never too old to give ... there are chairs available for those who are not able to stand for long periods of time. I love seeing the children involved. They have such enthusiasm! Thinking back ... I wish we would have involved our kids in family service projects.
Our two-hour shift always goes by much too quickly due to the good conversation, laughter and an occasional find ... like heart-shaped potatoes! You don't seem to notice the backache or sore muscles ... until much later : )
With the combined effort of the potato/pear team we packed 26,480 lbs of food which contributed to 20,698 meals and each volunteer packed food for 244 people. It's amazing how so little time can make such a huge difference in someone else's life.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Two-Page Designs

Up until this point all of my digital layouts have been one-pager designs. I am finding more and more two-page templates online to download so I thought I would give it a try. While creating a layout for our 2006 Sunriver Thanksgiving trip I found this family photo to be the perfect fit for cropping. I completed the layout in a 24x12 format and cropped it to a 12x12-left and a 12x12-right.

The crop lined up perfectly between Tim's shoulder so no one was cut in half. I enjoyed working with this layout format ... but maybe it's because I like these photos so much. What great family memories from that trip.
I have all remaining 2006 photos organized in folders by date/topic waiting for a layout design, then sent online to Costco for printing, ... and finally into my album. Because of digital scrapbooking I think I will be able to fit an entire year in one album where before it took at least 2 ... maybe 3 to hold a year full of memories.
It has been fun to once again "experience" the JOY of the 2006 family events ... good memories ... but I am still determined to get caught up!
Font: Trajan Pro, CK Ali's Writing, RamRod, Pea Bandit
Template: Shandy Vogt -Double Vol 2

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Went with the Wind

O.K. ... so ...
I hardly EVER buy myself a Barbie. I usually receive them as gifts. BUT I stopped by Tuesday Morning after work one day and saw this 50th Anniversary Bob Mackie in-the-box Barbie and I had to add her to my collection. Why?!?!?!?!
  • I am reading Gone with the Wind right now
  • I love a bargain (it was a great price!)
  • I loved this Carol Burnett variety show episode
  • I am a Barbie collector
  • I survived my first week of school with students!
However, she may be the last in my collection for a while due to lack of display space. I think we need to create a Barbie "museum" someplace in our home. She's crowding us out : )
She is cute though ... don't you agree!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Seasonal Change

Even though the calendar shows us inching toward fall, the temperatures contradict the seasonal change. The expected high temp for today is 88 degrees. What a change from last Saturday's downpour and cooler temperatures.
Since I am back to work ... school ... my mind is focusing on fall. Today I have a roast in the crockpot and as I'm dusting the house I am putting out the autumn decor.
As I opened the storage box the scent of clove and cinnamon assailed my senses. Since the color scheme aligns with my furnishings, fall is one of my favorite seasons to "accessorize" our home ... even more so than Christmas.
Even though I have enjoyed the warm sunny days of summer and all those things that touch our senses ... I am kind of ready for the seasonal change. Less yard work, more relaxing evenings, soups and stews bubbling on the stove, bundling up in front of the fireplace, etc. ... life seems to move at a slower pace in fall.
The pumpkin patch, family cookie day, our Sunriver getaway ... many great fall family memories to look forward to. I hope you are enjoying the last sunny days of summer!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Cookie Monster

I am working at staying less than three years behind on my 2006 album and I have been "cruising" through the fall events.
I had to post this one of Colin because not only do I love the fall colors but the subject (Colin) is adorable.
Each October we plan a family day to decorate cookies for Halloween. In 2006 2-year old Colin was at the perfect age to join in the frosting frenzy ... and as you can see ... "a spoonful for my cookie; a spoonful for my mouth" was a great decorating plan.
I love looking back on all the fun. It's hard to believe that next week Colin will start preschool. Where does the time go?!?!?
Brush: cinnamon brushed alpha
Font: ChromosomeLight, Rough Typewriter, Traveling Typewriter
Paper: LJD Autumn Days ppr03
Template: LJD Template 82

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Remembering Kathy ...

Our Englewood group is so precious to us. We met many of these dear friends in the early 70's & 80's. We have shared our joys and our sorrows ... we share such a rich history.
Several years ago Nola & Larry made sure we had a reunion gathering scheduled at their home each fall. Even after 52 weeks have come and gone, when we get together, it only feels like a few days since we last visited.
Saturday evening we received sad news. Kathy ... circled in red ... passed away early Saturday morning. I guess my heart just wasn't ready to absorb this news.
Kathy & I taught a 5th grade girls Sunday School class together in the early 70's. She was a teacher in a school for the deaf and was a great mentor in my new adventure/ministry. I remember her encouragement ... she always mentioned what a good teacher I would be and asked if I had ever considered that as a career option. As the years went by, I did seek out employment in education as a classified employee. It's funny because this week as I returned to work, her comment came to mind again. Sometimes you never know what an impact your words of encouragement have on someone's life.
Three months ago at Lori's memorial service I spent most of the reception time visiting with Kathy & Fred. Good conversation ... warm & encouraging. I'm glad I had this time with them.
Our reunion is scheduled for October 3rd this year ... it will be a joy to be together again ... but we will be missing Kathy. Our love and prayers are with Fred and the family.

Where a Kid Can Be a Kid

All summer we've talked about a family tour on the Hood River Fruit Loop over Labor Day weekend. We were looking forward to the fresh produce, BBQ lunch, homemade desserts that make your mouth water, and the spectacular views of Mt. Hood. It was a good idea until we saw the weekend weather report. If you live out of town or were on vacation, you missed the .75 inch rainfall we had yesterday after a long, dry summer.
So ... this called for Plan B. Where can you spend the day that's enjoyable for all ages? Chuck E. Cheese's! I'm not sure who enjoyed it more ... the kids or the adults! Between all family members we had 300 tokens to use and 3.5 hours later we had nearly 2000 tickets to redeem for prizes. Matt, Walt and I enjoyed the Skee-ball game where Matt won the grand prize four times -- generating hundreds of tickets at a time. I think he should be on a league tournament team : )
Sometimes in life Plan B turns out just fine. In fact, maybe we should celebrate Brian's birthday there every year. Our family loves a new tradition! (just kidding Brian!)
As for the Fruit Loop ... maybe next weekend.
Font: CK Ali's Writing, Pea Fay, ChromosomeLight, American Typewriter, Stone Sans
Template: Lina's Layouts -Template 24
Paper: Cathy K Designs -Summer Treats, Paper Yellow Burst
Elements: Welli Designs -Happy Birthday Ticket

Saturday, September 05, 2009

A Motherlode Meal

Usually we enjoy a meal out with friends after church on Sundays. Last week we were invited to dine at Claim Jumper and this was Walt's order --
The Motherlode Sandwich ...
Stacked 8 inches high on a toasted French roll this sandwich included the following:
Cure 81 ham
roasted turkey
cheddar & Swiss cheese
1000 Island dressing
How does one take a bite out of this monstrosity?!?!?! You can bet there was a take-out box involved in this dining experience and the leftovers were used creatively in another meal the following evening.
Thanks, Ward for capturing this fun experience in picture.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


People have asked if I've been sick since I haven't posted anything in over two weeks. No, I've been fine ... just enjoyed a "last of summer break" routine. Kinda of a "blah"-ger these last few weeks.
Last night was a "girls night out" and it was scheduled at the perfect time ... my last evening before heading back to work. What a great way to celebrate the end of my summer break.
Fiddler on the Roof was a special treat. I've seen the movie many times and know several of the songs by heart ... but it was something about seeing it LIVE ... and something about seeing it at a different season of life and relating to it in a different way. It is the story of survival, through tradition and JOYfulness, in a life of uncertainty ... it is the story of a father's attempt to maintain his family and religious traditions while outside influences invade their lives. Even though the story takes place more than a century earlier ... it is relevant to the same issues and choices today.
I got home at midnight and it was hard to face a first day on a new job with so little sleep ... but I knew I was backed with prayer and support from family and friends to help me get through the day. AND it was a great first day! I think I need more "girls nights out" and definitely need to go to more plays/musicals!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Serve Us or Service?

Sometimes summer can put churches in an attendance slump ... vacations and sunshine can beckon us away from consistent attendance. Not so at Tigard Christian Church ... this summer our focus has been on a "portrait of a disciple" ... serving like Jesus.
Yesterday we utilized what we have taken into our hearts and shared it with our community. Following our worship service approx. 175-200 people from our congregation spent the afternoon cleaning the Templeton grounds and building, preparing it for the opening of school. We pulled weeds, spread barkdust, washed windows, painted the entry sign, powerwashed sidewalks and the building, picked up trash, etc. And when we left there was a noticeable difference made not only physically to the building but in our hearts. It was a day for building community within our body -- for working alongside someone you may not know or rarely get to talk to ... a time to just have fun together. It was a day to realize how much we want to serve and love on our community. It was a day to get out of our pew and into our community as a conduit for God's love.
Our pastor, Steve shared that Dave Thomas (Wendys) had an MBA ... Mop Bucket Attitude ... what a great illustration on what it means to be a servant.

P.S. A special round of "gratitude"... and applause to our extremely organized Regional Ministry Team ... for all your passion, hard work, and attention to details!

Friday, August 07, 2009

More Finds

Today I was scheduled to report for Jury duty in our county. I left nearly an hour before I was expected to sign in. I took the back roads, got lost due to road detours, went the wrong way down a one-way street : ( , and forgot to put the parking sign in my car before I left the parking garage. To top it off my shoes set off the security alarms. The least I can say is that I was stressed and a few minutes late. I am just not familiar with this part of the county and NEVER travel there! What a frustrating morning ...
After the orientation and spending another hour reading it was announced that we were all excused due to changes in the four trials scheduled for the day. I was happy ... it was nice to return to my summer break schedule and not have to worry about returning next week.

As I left, I decided to spend some time shopping, taking advantage of the opportunity to browse through a few stores in the area that I never get a chance to shop in. I went through Craft Warehouse and then over to the Cornell Goodwill. Wow! I hit the jackpot again this week ... just what I was looking for ... a Black & Decker rice/veggie steamer. Ours went out this spring after more than 10 years use and Matt let us use his -- a "loaner." The one I bought today is in new condition and I'm wondering if it was ever used. I also found two sweaters, one from Banana Republic, and more glassware. I love it when I find deals : )
Even though the day started out harried and stressful I returned home happy and content!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Photo Album Warning!

I am probably writing this to Baby Boomers or to those who may have inherited magnetic photo albums from relatives from that generation . I found a little history on these albums from the internet ...
"These were made from a thick paper stock and coated with glue strips. There was a Mylar plastic covering both sides of this stock and it was claimed that this was a good way to preserve photographs. After being on the market for about fifteen years, conservators recognized that the glue being used had a very high acidic content. So much so, that after only ten to fifteen years in storage, new photographs were starting to show signs of deterioration. The acid was eating through the backs of the photographs and the Mylar was sealing in the acidic fumes causing a deterioration on the image side as well."
My summer project during the heat wave has been to scan hundreds of photos from our first year of marriage. We put them in magnetic photo albums during the 70's and I could not believe the damage ... many were permanently adhered to the album page and could not be removed without ruining them. Several were discolored from years in this type of album. What a mess! I tried using every method possible for removing them in one piece.
I have been working for days ... scanning, color correcting, cropping to save the best parts of the pictures ... and I only have 92 finished : ( It's very sad to see such a special time in life ... ruined.
Anyway, if you have precious memories stored in this type of album, find time to archive them before they are permanently damaged. It will be a good investment!

While vacationing at Wallowa Sharon told us of a online site, that helps you manage a healthy lifestyle. It tracks your food, exercise, water consumption, weight, etc. Each day I receive emails with great tips, recipes and encouragement to help keep me motivated. I have loved using this tool and have been very successful. Many times I will change my mind about a food I am reaching for when I realize I would have to record it on my Nutrition Tracker. On days when I feel lazy and need a nudge to go for a walk or workout with Wii Fit I am reminded that I can add this to my Fitness Tracker for the day. Give this site a try and see what you think! Let me know how it works for you.
Today I enjoyed the best lunch idea using a recipe they emailed to me:
Greek Hummus Wrap
1 Best Life Flatout Bread Multi-Grain w/Flax
1/4 cup Athenos Reduced Fat Feta Cheese w Basil/Tomato
1/4 cup onions, raw, sliced
1/4 cup red peppers, raw, sliced
1.4 cup diced cucumbers
2 leaves of romaine lettuce
4 T Atheno's Roasted Garlic Hummus
Makes 1 Greek hummus wrap
Spread 4 T of hummus on the bread. Sprinkle a 1/4 cup of feta on top of the hummus. Add all of the veggies. Roll the bread in a burrito style and enjoy!
Number of Servings: 1
Nutritional Info
Amount Per Serving:
Calories: 295.2
Total Fat: 14.2g
Total Carbs: 31.5g
Dietary Fiber: 11.7mg
Protein: 21.1g

Good Goodwill-ing

While running errands this morning I thought I would stop in and check out Goodwill. It's been quite a while since I've dropped in and Thrifty Decor Chick always inspires me on her blog with her incredible finds.
The mornings there are much quieter than when I usually go so it was nice to leisurely look at everything. What great finds ... a Barbie camping chair for Calleigh, a beautiful dark red ceramic platter, a serving dish for crackers (October Cookie Day is coming up!), 2 pillows I have had my eye on @ Target (they are in brand-new condition) and a few pieces of glassware. I was tickled to discover these hidden treasures.
When I went to check out the clerk said I had a birthday discount I could use ... 25% off and when I told her my birth year she said I also qualified for another 10% because Wednesday is Senior Discount Day ... I know ... sad to say that I qualify BUT, I'll take it. I saved more than 8 bucks today on these great finds : ) Gotta love it!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Farmer's Market

Saturday morning we woke up to a long to-do list but all that had to be put on hold. I have wanted to go to the Beaverton Farmer's Market all summer but some other priority always "bumped" it off the calendar. I am so glad we made the time to go ... what a fun experience! Walt was kind of dragging his heels but once he got there he was "sold" on the whole idea.
We weren't prepared for how crowded it was on such a hot day. We found parking a few blocks away and even in the crowd we saw familiar faces. It was fun to catch up with a former principal and her husband. She had some great suggestions for where the best deals were on flowers. I couldn't believe it ... the huge paper-wrapped beauties were only $10 ... yes, just ten dollars!!! We picked up some great produce and sampled some wonderful treats from several booths.
If you've never experienced the Farmer's Market, I would encourage you to go. I know I will be back again before the end of summer. Next time I'm going to bring my appetite and buy some of the tempting food items. Yum

Monday, August 03, 2009

The Official 2009 Wallowa Group Photo

Here it is folks ... the official 2009 Wallowa group photo. Can't believe we squeezed everyone in. Ten people had to be photoshopped in as there were several early departures. The picture was also complicated by the fact that half the group is in the shade and the other half in full sun. It came out quite well despite the odds : ) and I did learn many new techniques in using Photoshop Elements.
Next year ... let's make it easy. How about setting a time to meet for our annual picture before Friday down at the Day Picnic Area?!?!?!? LOL It would be great to get everyone in the "original" photo.
What a great memory of such a fun week together!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Escaping the Heat Wave

The Portland area reached 106 degrees yesterday and predictions are that we will see that temperature again today. To escape the heat I picked up mom yesterday morning and drove over to Lincoln City. Whew ... the high there was 76 degrees ... a perfect day at the beach.
We set up the sun shelter and enjoyed a "picnic" lunch while delighting in the view of the ocean. After a long walk on the beach we drove down to Mo's for lunch, browsed through the Christmas shop and the outlet mall before heading home to the extreme heat. What a great escape! Hope you are finding ways to stay cool!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Twenty Years Ago ...

I keep meaning to blog about this but somehow it keeps getting put on the "back burner" of my blog to-do list.
July 3rd marked the 20th anniversary of our move to Tualatin. We only moved 20 miles from Portland but it seemed more like 200 when you consider that I lived in the same 10-block radius for the first 36 years of my life.
When I first toured this home it was exactly what we were looking for. The neighborhood was a wonderful place to raise 3 boys ... great schools and parks nearby. We have great memories within these four walls.
Now that we are empty-nesters the house seems quite spacious for just the two of us. We still love our neighbors and the location so we have no desire to move. We have plenty of home improvement projects to keep us from getting bored. This house is still a good "fit" for us.
I am so thankful for the twenty years of memories we have shared as a family in this home.

Wallowa Photo Fun

As I'm going through our 500 Wallowa vacation pictures, I have been thinking of a few creative ideas of things to do with them.
Sharon had this idea for the canoe. She wanted a picture with an old-fashioned postcard look. I thought it would great converted to B&W but colorize the canoe. Of course, there's a story behind the canoe ...
Sunday afternoon Tim M. took Nancy and Chris out for a canoe ride on the lake. Nancy was hesitant but was overwhelmingly reassured that this canoe was designed in such a way that it would not tip over. Well, guess what ?!?!?! While watching them enjoy a leisurely paddle ride quite a way from shore, the canoe rolls over! I think Nancy was a bit shocked. She decided to swim/walk back to shore only to be discovered by a row of geese swimming rapidly toward her ... did they have dinner on their minds?!?!?! It did look kind of scary at the time ... you had to be there! This definitely will be a "legend" talked about around the campfire for generation to generation.

After packing up Saturday we decided to take photos of all the Third generation Wallowa campers in the Mooney's canoe. Yesterday while looking through an old photo album we found a picture of the Second Generation campers from 1988 in the Jackson's boat. I thought it would be fun to put the two together. I see a few family resemblances between the two photos. Such a nice reminder of the fun we've had through several generations. Next year is the 30th anniversary of our family's first camping trip to Wallowa Lake. So many good memories : )

The Wallowa Diaries

We are home safe and sound from Wallowa Lake, unpacked and easing back into reality. I thought I would share a few highlights from our trip ...
I typed this on our laptop during our return trip. Just needed to include photos when we got home ... we took 500 photos between our two cameras! Yikes!

Saturday –“We’re Off!”
We left Lewis and Clark State Park at 6:30am for the traditional start of our caravan to Wallowa Lake. We arrived at the registration booth at 2:30 and had our home-away-from-home campsite set up by early evening.
For several of us, we were setting up in new sites in the D Loop. We loved the layout of our new site, and with our group forming a circle we had a nice grassy area in the center for the kids to play in. I’m sure these will now be our favorite sites in Loop D.
Since we didn’t have much of an appetite after setting up, we had Mt. Huckleberry ice cream for dinner. What a great way to start our vacation! By the end of the week ... we really don't care if we have ice cream again for a LONG time!
We ended our evening with a great fireside conversation about our Adams High School years that Brian said resembled the movie, “Dazed and Confused.” Well, it was the late sixties - early seventies AND it was quite a unique school : ) It was nice to enjoy a good laugh and unwind from our travels.

Sunday –“Floatie Fun”
After a leisurely morning routine we spent most of the afternoon down at the Marina cruising the lake on our floaties. Our special treat was having Tim join us after dinner. He stayed until Thursday afternoon.

Monday – “Fun Galore at the Shore”
We spent the morning in town to pick up our rodeo tickets, shopped a few of the stores and enjoyed a special treat at Mad Mary’s Soda Shoppe. A new lake activity included the game – Ladderball. We had fun playing some very competitive rounds … guys against the girls. We enjoyed a very “gourmet” steak dinner with some tasty additions prepared by Tim. He has become quite the chef. Must be all those Food Network programs : ) Following dinner Brian and Tim joined us for a trip to Joseph for a visit to the Ember Brew House. We love the ambiance at night.

Tuesday – “iHike"
Our activity for the day included a quick day hike from the trailhead to the bridge on the Mt. Joseph trail. We had quite a large group for this very entry-level trail. After the first lookout we left in two separate groups. Several went left; the others went right. Those on the left were heading to Ice Lake (the wrong direction) We sent our Tim to jog back to find the group and we were now separated into three groups. In the meantime Calleigh fell asleep in my arms. We decided to have our Tim jog back to find the other group. He did not return but the “other” Tim finally found us and led us to the correct trail … but we still couldn’t find our Tim. I decided to sit with our little sleeping beauty at the intersection of the two trails and finally saw Tim running down the trail. How could such a simple hike turn into such a complicated event?!?!?!

We decided to reward our persistence with an ice cream cone from the Matterhorn. Nothing soothes away frustration like a waffle cone filled with Tillamook ice cream.
Another way to cool off was an afternoon down at the lake. … so cool and refreshing … and a little floatie time plus a few competitive card and board games. Many days during our week long stay we enjoyed the marina activities so much that we stayed until near dusk.

Wednesday –“Let’er Buck”
Our day included several rounds of “I’ve Got It,” and “Left, Right, Center” which were both new games to our full table of players. Several fit in a lake visit, some read, others napped while waiting for the evening event … the Chief Joseph Rodeo. This year we dressed in full cowboy regalia and the Mooneys were voted, “best dressed.”
As usual, we dined at the Ember’s Brew House before heading over to the Harley Tucker stadium for several hours of thrills and spills. The big let down was the elimination of Barrel Racing (my favorite) due to the slippery surface ... disappointing.

Thursday –“Surprise!”
What an awesome surprise party Michelle and Jenn put together for my birthday … a day early so that Tim could participate before heading back home. I was totally surprised! The girls planned an ice cream bar down at the day picnic area -- colorful custom-made garland hung from trees, there were goody bags for the children, and a special sundae dish for the “birthday girl.” With a July birthday it is usually hard to put together a surprise party – so many people on vacation or busy with summer activities. Michelle and Jenn are amazing party planners. If you ever need to add a creative touch to your next party, you need to talk to these gals! They are a great team.
Following our refreshing dessert we grabbed our floaties and headed out to the lake. Nothing compares to this relaxing activity … in fact, Calleigh fell asleep on my lap while the gentle waves rocked her to sleep as we floated near shore.

Friday –“Happy Birthday”
My celebration destination choice was a family lunch at Terminal Gravity Brewery in Enterprise. The Schleining family ate there last year and it was highly recommended. And they were right … we were not disappointed. I think it has the best food in the Wallowa area. I ordered the Aloha Chicken sandwich on homemade Ciabatta bread … delish! Next year we’ll go back for dinner since that is when they serve their wonderful pasta dishes. If you’re ever in this part of Oregon, plan to enjoy a meal here.
No Wallowa birthday would be complete without a little afternoon lake time. What a great cool down on an extremely hot day.
To round out our day’s activities we enjoyed the evening around the campfire with the girls … chatting, roasting marshmallows and baking potatoes over the fire …a great midnight snack before heading to bed. I can’t remember a better birthday celebration!

Saturday –“Pack It Up”
We woke up in the predawn hours to a busy campground – tents coming down, blaring rap music floating from a truck cab, several car alarms going off. Oh, yah … it’s rodeo weekend in Wallowa! This was the first year our pack up went smoothly and quickly.
We were able to take photos of each departing family. Keep watch for the official photoshopped edition … coming soon. Yes, I wore my official “going home” shirt. Explanation: After looking through years of Wallowa photos I noticed that I consistently wear this orange shirt in all of our group photos and is a must for heading home.

We enjoyed our last ice cream cone of the Wallowa year, headed down to the marina for a last hour of enjoying the lake, picking up last minute treats and souvenirs in Joseph and then hitting the road for a long 6.5 hour ride home.
The closer we approach home the more anxious I am for the feel of carpet between my toes, the fresh sheets on my comfortable bed and reaching in a refrigerator for food instead of picking up bobbing bottles in the cooler. As much as we love the Wallowas and the sadness we feel each year we leave the lake, we find ourselves thinking, “There’s no place like home.”
As we continue on I-84, we are already planning for next year … the 30th anniversary of our first family vacation to this beautiful part of NE Oregon. We have been reminiscing about all the great memories during those years … those who have been a part of our Wallowa history and the “legends” that are being passed down from one generation to another. No matter what other vacation destinations we have enjoyed … none compare to the beauty, friends and family, and the fun of Wallowa Lake.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Another Wallowa Tradition...

Seems like I have dried bananas for Wallowa since the 80's so yesterday was the perfect day to reduce 15 bananas into a tasty treat in a ziploc bag. They are great for hikes and take the edge off the sweet tooth while also providing a healthy snack ... great for the grandkids. I am not a big banana fan ... it's a texture thing : ( so this is one way I can enjoy a banana.
I do have to share a great hint: I found a kitchen gadget down at the outlet mall that evenly slices a whole banana in a one-step process. I think it was on clearance for about $2. What a great time-saving tool. It now only takes seconds to peel, slice and fill the trays.
I love my food dehydrator and can't believe it still works nearly three decades later. What a great investment.

Wallowa Baking Day

I was asked to provide cookies for a memorial service at church this weekend so I thought it would be good to also bake for Wallowa. After going through my recipe cards -- old technology! -- I decided I would make a few of my favorites from the past.
Chocolate Crackles have always been my favorite. It is much like a powdered sugar brownie if under-baked a bit. Seems like I only bake them at Christmas now that we are empty-nesters. Rae is a big fan of these cookies so they made the top of my baking list.

Chocolate Crackles
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate pieces
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/3 c. salad oil
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
1tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c. chopped walnuts (never have added this)
about 1/2 c. powdered sugar
Melt chocolate. Combine with sugar and oil. Add eggs one at a time; beat well. Add vanilla. Combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add to chocolate mixture. Stir in nuts -if using them. Chill dough. Drop teaspoonfuls of dough in powdered sugar. Roll to coat. Place on greased cookie sheet. Bake @ 350 degrees for 10 mins. Cool on rack. Makes 4 dozen

Every Tuesday -when the kids were little and I was a SAHM- was baking day on my weekly schedule. It was nice to have one day where the aroma of fresh baked cookies, muffins, cakes, cobblers, crisps, and an occasional pie filled the kitchen. I think when Costco came to town and we got so involved with sports, my Tuesday baking days became history : ( Also, trying to bake in an oven nearly as old as our firstborn can be challenging at times, too.
Ranger Cookies were one of my all-time favorite cookies back then. I copied the recipe from a Current cookbook ... remember Current, Inc.???? In fact, the recipe card is so worn, it's hard to see the ingredients/measurements. Well, okay ... my eyesight is not the same either : )

Ranger Cookies
1 cup margarine
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups old fashioned oats
2 cups crisp rice cereal
1 cup coconut
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together margarine, sugars, eggs and vanilla. Add flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Blend until smooth. Fold in remaining ingredients. Roll into balls and place on greased cookie sheet. Flatten with tines of a fork. Bake 10 mins.

Another Wallowa favorite is marshmallow treats. I also make Chocolate Peanut Butter Crispies that are hard to resist. Seems like marshmallow treats taste dull after a few days so they need to be consumed at the beginning of our vacation. I know there will be "volunteers" to solve this dilemma.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Crispies
2 cusp chunky peanut butter
1 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 TBLS margarine or butter
1 tsp vanilla
5 cups crispy rice cereal
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
In a 2-qt saucepan cook peanut butter, corn syrup, brown sugar and margarine over low heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture is smooth (5 to 6 minutes). Stir in vanilla. In large bowl add mixture to cereal; stir to coat. Spread into greased 13x9-inch baking pan. In 1-qt saucepan melt chocolate chips over low heat, stirring constantly until completely melted (4 to 5 mins). Spread over bars Cool completely. Cut into bars. Yield: 36 bars

Well, the kitchen is nearly back in order and time to take a break from the cookie sheets and oven. I am so thankful for AC on a day like today : )

Monday, July 13, 2009

Goal Reached!

I just sent down an order to the Costco Photo Lab for the last scrapbook pages of our 2006 Wallowa vacation.
NOW ... I can start packing and planning for Wallowa 2009 and leave with peace of mind that I am still less than 3 years behind : )
I spent most of the morning working on layouts, the afternoon going through my camping wardrobe, and then before and after dinner finishing the last few pages.
Tomorrow I will be working on meal planning and making a grocery and packing list. Life has been simplified with our website. A big help with organization in getting ready for our trip.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

"Pamper-ing" Day

Today was the day ... the second annual Wallowa girls Pedicure and Lunch event. We met at the salon at 10:00 and enjoyed a morning of bonding and beautifying before next week's vacation. It's always nice to start off those first few days with lovely nails before sitting around the dirty-dusty campsite.
This year the Mooney girls and Beth joined us. Savannah had the most pampering ... she looked like Dorothy of Oz being attended to before seeing the great and powerful Wizard. She had several nail technicians working on both her feet and hands. She did a fabulous job for a 5 year old.
Melissa and Calleigh joined us for lunch at Red Robin. A great time of fun and fellowship! Now on to making those lists, shopping and packing for Wallowa Lake where the camping experience all started back in 1980!
Paper:Lindsay Jane Designs -Just Pink 2 BG01
Template: Andrea Gold -502 Template Square
Element: KHM Cover Stories14-Freebie-pink-girl; 1 Girl Stuff -polish
Font: Problem Secretary, An Unfortunate Event, Cricket, ChromosomeLight, American Typewriter