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 ...