Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas Morning

Ahhh ... what can I say ... we have strong Christmas morning traditions. I realized even the food I serve for breakfast is a tradition. At the last minute I added back the Cinnamon Pull-Apart that I had taken off this year's menu ... Tradition! Matt had shared with Kathy that I serve it every year ... oops!
We met for breakfast at 10 a.m. and enjoyed a leisurely meal sharing many Germer stories and isms. We always enjoy our time around the table.
We gathered around the tree and spent time in our traditional way of opening gifts ... one person, one gift at a time. This can take hours and usually involves a story behind many of the gifts. This year I added pictures for the gift tags so "santa's helpers" a.k.a the grandkids could hand out the presents without having to read names on the tags.
Just when everyone thought gift opening was coming to a close ... the finale was just beginning. It was time to distribute the Twelve Months of Christmas gifts -- see previous post. What a great ending to our fun morning together.
To continue our day-long celebration we enjoyed another tradition ... a sub sandwich bar for dinner and playing games. How I cherish this day with the family ... it truly is "the most wonderful time of the year."
What are some of your family traditions?
Template: Moriginals 365 Template No. 15
Paper: jld holidayheart bg4
Ribbon: LJD The season
Wordart: dranet Christmas09WA
Font: American Typewriter

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Pioneer Courthouse Square Bricks

While downtown on Christmas Eve Brian wanted to show Calleigh his brick.

Pioneer Courthouse Square was built in 1984 and my mom purchased bricks for our family as a gift in 1981. Matt was born in 1983 he is the only family member without a brick on the Square. The bricks were permanently placed in alpha order by first name so our family is not together in one area ... there are 71,165 named bricks in the Square. Seems like each visit to downtown Portland we plan time to look for our bricks but without success.

While researching for this post I discovered a brick locator online. Wow! I guess it never occurred to me to look for a map on the internet! So far Brian is the only family member to find his brick ... when the weather is warmer we'll need to take our map and locate each of our bricks. Sounds like a fun spring outing!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Eve Tradition

One of our Christmas Eve Traditions is to order a Starbucks and pose in front of the Christmas tree at Pioneer Courthouse Square in downtown Portland. This year I tried a Salted Caramel Mocha ... rich but tasty!
Tim and Rae were with us but missed the photo session due to some last-minute gift shopping.
This year our day began at Rose's on 23rd for breakfast with Byron and Heather and enjoyed a little shopping at our favorite shops in that area. We then joined our family at Pioneer Place. This year it was very crowded due to so many having the day off. Normally the crowds are quite thin on Christmas Eve.
We also enjoyed a wonderful dinner at Rock Bottom Brewery and visited Finnegan's Toy Store before leaving the downtown area. We headed south back home when the stores closed and added a tradition we haven't participated in since the grandkids were born ... we went to a movie. The guys saw Tron and the gals and grandkids watched Tangled. Following the movie we went to the TCC Candlelight Service at 11:30 p.m. We love this service ... so calm and quiet. I loved having lit candles for each attendee. We haven't done that since our Englewood days. It's a JOY to be a part of the true meaning of Christmas in word and song.
We got home after 1 a.m. and prepared ourselves for the next day ... time with the family!

Christmas Eve Snowfall

Each year we enjoy a little snow in downtown Portland on Christmas Eve. It "snows" at Pioneer Place.

The kids loved it ... they even made snow angels in the fluffy stuff!
It would have been nice to have a white Christmas but this will have to do this season!

Repeat: Secret Santas

Just in time for Christmas ...
We squeezed a Secret Santa Shopping date in before the holidays. With the POD move it was a little tricky finding just the right time for our traditional date night with the grandkids.
We gave them a dinner choice and Calleigh picked Wendy's ... she knows her grandpa's favorite place to eat : )
We headed over to the nearest Target and shopped for the perfect present for Mom and Dad. After much consideration we decided to buy them a combined gift of a Harry Potter Lego Wii game. We also included gloves for Mom because she needed them. I heard later that the second pair of the set will be shared with Dad!
We ended our evening with popcorn from the cafe while we wrapped and tagged our gifts.
What a fun evening out with the kids!

Glimpse of Christmas

It's always fun to play with Mosiac Maker at Big Huge Labs. I created a glimpse of a few Christmas decorations from our home this year.
Our unique pink Barbie tree is always fascinating for Calleigh. It's getting quite full -- so many Barbie ornaments to display.
This year the Christmas village was a delight to the grandkids. They had more fun rearranging the buildings, people and accessories. I painted the entire set about 16 years ago. Nice to see it provides fun and enjoyment many years later.
We always have a display of various angels and snowmen but the newest addition hanging on our tree was the angel we bought from the Murano glass factory in Venice. What a great reminder of our trip to Italy.
I found a few antique Christmas cards in the family trunk and displayed them on the bookcase we moved from our bedroom to the living room. My little birds were a great find at the Hen's Tooth in Sisters during our fall Sunriver getaway. It seems like nearly every blog I read has a glass displayed with shiny ornaments. I found this glass dome/plate at Goodwill this year and decided to fill it with colorful ornaments and display it on our china hutch. I always love my snowman shelf-sitter in our entryway ... a great holiday welcome!
This year I really tried to be more of a minimalist with my decor and found the house felt more comfortable without the holiday clutter. It will be a little sad to put it away but as the new year draws near, I am ready to have everything in it's place before heading back to work.

Goodbye Country, Hello Modern

One of my goals during the winter break was to move back into our bedroom. We have been living in our downstairs guest room since September while we updated our bedroom/bath. It wasn't so bad but I was definitely ready to sleep in our queen-sized bed again.
I spent two days before Christmas unboxing, moving, cleaning, purging, storing ... until it finally looked like a bedroom again.
I wish I had taken more pictures of the process involved in this transformation. The room was country ... floral wallpaper in mauve, blue and green. Mauve tile countertops in the bathroom ... my Barbie collection inhabiting a great deal of "real estate" and an large oak roll top desk that overpowered the room. It truly needed an upgrade!
Each addition to our bedroom caused new configurations in other rooms of the house. And I don't even want to discuss the garage ... overflowing! However, the room feels much more spacious and relaxing. It's good to see minimal decor ... much more comforting.
We spent Thanksgiving weekend stripping and painting/staining two dressers. They went from country-white to a mahogany top, black body and new contemporary knobs. They feel so updated! We tried to repurpose as many things as possible
We invested in a few new pieces of furniture -- a new sleek black desk, a chair from Pier 1, and a nightstand from Expressions Home Furnishings on 99W. Everything was on sale or clearance. These were great finishing pieces.
In the bathroom area we ordered a new solid surface countertop, stripped and stained the existing vanity, put up a new light fixture, mirror and faucet. What a transformation. Even though this round of remodeling was "lipstick" it is amazing to see how even small changes can make a huge difference.
We will be adding crown moulding this winter for a finishing touch. Even though it is still in-process we are finding this room a comfortable, stylish "retreat."
Truly a great Christmas gift!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Glitter Trees

I found this great idea at this site and wanted to make them for our home. I think a lot of bloggers liked them because I see them featured on many sites in my RSS Feed.
The subway art was a free download so the only investment I made was printing and the frame. The glitter trees required some time in gathering the materials. I wanted to use my Michael's coupon for each item: 3 styrofoam cones and 3 different colors of Martha Stewart glitter. I found the stands (candleholder) at the Dollar Tree and painted them black to match the frame.
I will not deceive you by saying it was a snap to make these. It wasn't so bad time-wise ... just a little messy. I worked on it in the kitchen because it was too cold in the garage. I placed newspaper on the table to protect the surface. The adhesive spray had a wider-range than the protection I placed on our table and attracted the leftover glitter : ( My fingertips were covered in glitter and I did this BEFORE heading off to work! I would recommend having UNDU available to help with clean up both with your work surface and your hands. I think if I made these again I would paint the cones the same color as the glitter. I think this would help with coverage. This might be a nice summer project where you could glitter these outside : )
I have really like the dazzle of color these simple elements have added to our home during the holidays and I have had many compliments. I am so thankful for the creative blogs I subscribe to. It has changed my decorating style to be more simplistic ... but elegant.

Merry Christmas From Our House To Yours

Homemade Marshmallows

My first Monday of Winter Break I wanted to tackle making homemade marshmallows to go with my December theme for "The Twelve Months of Christmas." I found a recipe on Our Best Bites and decided it had the best instructions for tackling this new cooking adventure. It was really a two-day process and they turned out well but the chocolate dipping was the most time consuming part. Dipping anything in chocolate seems to be a challenge for me : ( They are delicious and Walt wonders why you would go to all the work of making them when you can buy them at the store. No ... these are much better!
The packaging made a fun addition to my December theme. I would definitely make these again. However, if you are considering it, you really do need a stand mixer for the best success!
I feel like having a cup of cocoa right now with a yummy marshmallow afloat!
Template: In the Making V
Paper: Beth Long/Cold Winter paper 1
Wordart: In Winter's Arms/dydyge wordart1
Font: Chromosome Light, Pea Noodle's Girlfriend

A Taste of Italy

Still excited from our trip to Italy we wanted to include "A Taste of Italy" in our gift giving this Christmas. I remember our tour guide telling us we could find instructions for making Limoncello online so I did a little research. I found a site that included step-by-step instructions with pictures.
We gathered the ingredients, bottles, and equipment and started the process two weeks before Christmas. After mixing the ingredients the container is placed in a dark cupboard and stirred each day for 7 days. The final step is to add sugar and water and put it in bottles. Pierre told us about great glass flasks at The Container Store so we had several shapes and sizes to choose from. However, when we returned to the store for more, they had sold out! Very popular item this year. The added pleasure of the project was the Dehazes making it at the same time but using oranges instead of lemons.
I should have included a caution on the label: You only need a "thimble-ful" to enjoy the great lemony taste!

The Twelve Months of Christmas ...

This year I wanted to do something different for Christmas with our kids ... a theme to go with a "Make It, Bake It, Sew It, Grow It, Repurpose It" idea. After pondering this during a January insomnia night I came up with the idea of the "Twelve Months of Christmas." I could hardly get back to sleep with all sorts of ideas floating through my head. By summer I had a few concrete ideas and I started collecting the items and packaging for each month's theme. Here's what I came up with:
January: Movie night (Regal tickets in a popcorn container)
February: Bouquets in Winter (vase with Trader Joe's gift card)
March: Car Wash (Kaady car wash gift card in a car holder)
April: Gardening (Bucket filled with gloves, garden accessories, gift card)
May: Cinco de Mayo (homemade salsa, Mike's, chips)
June: Summer BBQ (glass votive holder, BBQ sauce, 3 rubs)
July: A Taste of Italy (homemade Limoncello, shot glasses)
August: Happy Hour (gift card to McMenamins)
September: Romance (pasta, sauce, candles & holders, dessert, wine romance music CD)
October: Fall Baking (TJ Bread mix, ceramic measuring spoons, homemade dishcloth, printed freezer labels from Martha Stewart site)
November: Red Box Movie Night ($$$ in a RED box, theater candy/popcorn)
December: It's Cold Outside! (Ceramic cocoa set, homemade marshmallows and cocoa "accessories")
Yes ... that made 36 gifts to wrap, package, and hide : )
Christmas morning we waited until all gifts were opened and then celebrated "The Twelve Months of Christmas." What fun to give ... and share in the joy of the recipients.
It was a great year-long project for Christmas ... fun shopping, finding bargains, discovering a great container idea, trying new recipes, thinking of different things I could find used/repurposed, and getting inspired by the blogs I read.
I already have an idea for next year ... however, I cannot share it because the recipients are also readers!
I hope you enjoyed a wonderful Christmas with those you love!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Keep Calm ...

There are so many blogs sharing prints they've designed with the "Keep Calm" theme. I downloaded one, sent it off to Costco, framed it and hung it in our newly "refreshed" master bathroom. It's the perfect spot for a great reminder on how to start my day! How nice to have something on that big empty space above the towel rack : )
I did a little research and I found the history behind this quote from Wikipedia:
Keep Calm and Carry On was a poster produced by the British government in 1939 during the beginning of World War II, intended to raise the morale of the British public under the threat of impending invasion. It was little known and never used. The poster was rediscovered in 2000 and has been re-issued by a number of private sector companies, and used as the decorative theme for a range of other products.
P.S. If you're wondering ... we STILL haven't finished our bedroom yet. However, we are getting closer!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Thrifty Thursday

There has been a lot of chatter on the blogs I read about some fun finds at the Dollar Tree. I went in to pick up a few pieces to make this hurricane vase. You just have to glue one of the glass candlesticks and the vase together with glass glue and you have a great new addition to your fall decor. I found the colorful filler at Craft Warehouse and the candle was on sale at Pier 1 ... a wonderful spicy aroma!
The other item that has popped up quite often is the ceramic pumpkin ... yep, $1 and it matches the color scheme of our home so well.
I love a bargain and it's fun to see a touch of fall here ... there ... everywhere in our home! Even though it is in the 80's this week in NW Oregon, it's fun to put out our fall decor. I hope you have added a few great finds for fall in your home.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Subway Art

In my RSS feed I have about 65 blogs I subscribed to dealing with the home. I have found some fabulous ideas and I love how this generation loves to repurpose things and live frugally.
One thing that stood out to me was their creations of Subway art. I thought it would be fun to put a smaller one together with the names of all the cities we visited during our trip to Italy.
I have a wall in the family room designated for photos/art from our favorite vacation spots. We love watercolors and ink drawings. Those and Christmas ornaments are the souvenirs we usually carry home in our suitcases. Anyway, this is the new featured art on that wall. I love looking at it and being reminded of all the wonderful memories from our trip.
I purchased a 12x18 frame from Michaels and, of course, it was on sale @ 50% off. I created a new file in PSE to fit the frame and left a white margin with the inside filled with black. I downloaded Waukegan LDO font and placed the names ... adjusting as necessary. I specifically picked this size because Costco prints it in an hour for $2.99.
I have seen other bloggers create their family rules in this art form. Many have purchased canvases and painted the words on. My version was a bit quicker to complete : ) I wonder what it would be like to print out a Wordle Word Cloud and have it framed? Holiday words? The possibilities are endless.
I would love to hear your ideas ...

Lab Decor

My new employment location is in the testing lab. For students, coming to this room is about as exciting as going to the dentist for a root canal.
I have been busy doing software updates, installing the new browser, auditing computers and sanitizing keyboards and mice ... getting everything in order.
One thing left up to me is the room decor. I thought it would be great to put up some inspirational 18 x 24" posters and got to work creating them in Photoshop Elements. The room now has something of interest and looks a little more warm and inviting. I still have three more to create plus a welcome banner.
I am thankful that Loretta gave me a folder of jpg stock photos a few years ago and it was the basis for finding quotes to match. I also found a great site if you need photos for a project:
This kind of got me in the mood to start scrapbooking again. BUT first ... our iMac needs more memory ... a project Walt and I need to work on together -- hopefully soon!

Back to Blogging

Another reason I have not been blogging ...
At the end of August, without much hope of being hired by a school, I created a new blog with a different focus. I was going to focus on some of the things that worked for me when I was a stay-at-home-mom and where I was going in this new season of life ... "forced retirement." I had a theme for each day, recipes to share, craft projects -- digital scrapbooking, furniture before and afters, etc. I worked for days on getting it all set up ... and life changed within days of launching it.
So, I have been in a tug-of-war ... go back to the old blog or go ahead and kick off the new one? But for right now I just don't feel like I have the time and energy to do what I had created it for. Maybe at the beginning of the new year ... always a good time to commit to something new.
Keep watching ...

Hhhhmmm ... Where Have I Been??????

I have one steadfast rule when it comes to blogging ... posting about my job is off limits ... so I've been off the radar for a while.
As many of you know, the Media Assts. were RIF'd again in the district where I was employed and it did not look like they had an action plan to save our positions. So, for the first time in 40 years, I made a claim with unemployment over the summer. I wish that I could tell you that I enjoyed those weeks of filing claims, updating my resume, visits to the WorkSource office, taking tests, filling out applications and going for interviews ... but, sadly I did not adapt well. I never have been fond of roller coasters and this summer felt like the twists-and-turns, the upside-down-thrill-to-the-bone ride of my life.
Just when I had given up hope ... the Tuesday after Labor Day weekend I had an interview for a part-time position at a middle school and started work the following Monday. Even though I am in a different building and surrounded by students taller than myself : ) ... it is good to be back "home." I have worked in schools for over 20 years now and I just couldn't imagine employment in any other field.
I am so thankful for the opportunity to work another year ... and even with a part-time position ... to retain my rating/wage/insurance and PERS. Thank you to all who have been praying for me ... it's nice to get off the roller coaster for now!
Enough said : )

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Boxing Up Barbie

Once my party hosting was complete for August I vowed I would start on our bedroom remodel. I got the brainstorm to remove the wallpaper while taking a shower in the morning. Now we're committed! Yikes ...
I thought I had better start boxing up the Barbies to protect them from the upcoming project. I need to protect my collection from possible paint splatters or disaster.
I know one little girl who will be disappointed when the Barbies are no longer on display in Grandma's bedroom. Hopefully, we can unbox them soon!
P.S. Notice ... I am storing them in pink storage boxes : )

A Taste of Italy

Yesterday was quite a day ...
At 9:30 a.m. I had an interview in a neighboring school district. When I accepted the appointment time I knew I had a long standing date to host a luncheon for the RIF'd Media Assistants on the day we would have been scheduled to return to work. What a great group to spend the day with!
Planning the luncheon was actually a great distraction for feeling anxious about the interview. As I prepared the food ... set the table ... cleaned house, it was a great opportunity to go over potential interview questions and keep my mind busy.
What a fun day it was to spend time with gals I have worked with over the past nine years. Even though we were in different buildings we were always in contact through email, meetings etc. They were all a great support when you needed help with a book request, a Polaris question, inventory ... just a great group of friends.
In the coming year we will all be going in different directions. One gal has already been hired by another district ... congrats to Janet! Whatever changes are ahead ... I believe we will all stay friends.
P.S. I tried several new recipes and I thought the food was rather tasty! It brought my senses right back to Italy : )

Thursday, August 19, 2010

P is for Peaches

Monday the sun was bright, the sky was blue and the air ... hot and humid. It was a good day for a drive to Sauvie Island Farms to pick peaches ... EARLY in the day.
It didn't take long to fill my quota of peaches with the help of the grandkids. It wasn't my intention to pick them for canning at the time but as I drove home I felt inspired to dust off my equipment and see if I could recall the process taught to me by my good friend, neighbor and canning mentor, Barb. Here's a post from 2005 about "Canning 101"!
I am so thankful I stored my jars and canner on the top shelf in the garage when we moved here or they would have been long gone to Goodwill or a garage sale by now. You have to keep in mind ... I have not canned since the early 80's.
Due to my schedule I wasn't able to work on this project until Wednesday morning. By then, with the extreme temperatures, the peaches were a little too ripe but I decided to proceed anyway. I was amazed at how much of the process I could recall. Since I was working in a different kitchen I had to adapt to a new workflow. There were just enough peaches to fill six quarts and a few halves left over to top my waffles. It's great to enjoy a tasty breakfast during the water bath process.
The best part of preserving food is to hear the lids "pop" ... the sound of success!


I know ... it has been awhile since the last post. Life has been a whirlwind so in September I'm thinking I will be back on track ... perhaps with a different blog ... a new look ... a new focus. Just a few things I have been pondering. I have some ideas floating around in my head but I am waiting to see where life takes me in the next few weeks.
Anyway, this week our Tuesday @ Five Bible Study group celebrated Melney's birthday and since I hosted, I took the pictures. Here's a glimpse of the fun ...
Credit is due for the party ideas pictured:
Your Homebased Mom:
Paper Bouquet
Best Chocolate Cake Ever
Simply ... This. That. And The Other:
Fruit Jellies on a Stick

Layout Credit:
Template: Mandagirl, Template 26 -altered
Font: ChromosomeLight, American Typewriter
Paper: ae_bdaydoodles2_paper2
Wordart: ae_bday_wa_5 and wa_3

I haven't scrapbooked for nearly nine months and I have to say, it was fun putting a layout together. I need to get re-acquainted with my digi supplies. I found some great stuff while creating this page.
Perhaps the next "season of life" will provide opportunities to have more creative time in my schedule.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Adjusting Back to Reality

My "time clock" needs adjusting since we've returned from Italy. I have been waking up between 3:30 and 4:30 a.m. every morning and then I feel groggy the rest of the day.
So with my "extended" morning I have been working on a web page for our travel group. We thought it would be a great way to stay in touch, share our pictures and stories and preserve memories from our trip. We were able to get the basics up before leaving for Wallowa Lake and we'll add more detail when we return. It has been fun going through our 2,400 pictures and compiling information about each place we visited. Scrapbooking our adventure is at the top of my project list during my unemployment period.
Now I need to focus on packing lists, shopping, etc. for a week at the lake ... perhaps going "solo" for the first time. Will be interesting setting up camp on my own : ) especially with a new tent!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Vacation of a Lifetime

Italy has been better than we ever imagined ... here's a sneak peek of a few things we've experienced. We still haven't downloaded all the pictures from the past few days so I will post more as internet access allows. We move locations about every two days so I never know if internet will be available. I am sitting outside our hotel in Sorrento. It is warm and dry -- nearly 11:00pm ... a lovely evening. Tomorrow we will be in Assisi and will celebrate our 36th anniversary.

At the Vatican Square-Thursday

Visiting Piazza del Popolo -Thursday

A Glimpse of the Colosseum -Thursday

Scooters everywhere in Rome -Wednesday

Gelato as soon as we arrived-Wednesday

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Hello Wash and Wear ...

Goodbye curling iron ... Goodbye velcro rollers ... Hello wash and wear hair!
After wearing my hair the same way for twelve years it was time for a change. I gathered my courage and asked Alyssa to cut my hair. I have seen what she can do with scissors and a comb and I was impressed. I had complete confidence in her!
Well, she got rave reviews when I went to school the next day not only from the staff but the students. I was told that I had taken ten years off with the hair ... YAY! : ) One boy called me over during lunch duty and I thought he needed help with something. Instead, he said, " Mrs. Germer, that is the best haircut I've ever seen." So ... compliments to Alyssa on a great job!
This will be so much easier to take care of while on our trip. I think it only takes about four minutes to dry and style.
Thanks Alyssa for removing those ten year ... hahaha ... and helping to rid my routine of time and tools. This is so much easier and stylish.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Loads of Fun

The last piece to our remodeling project arrived Saturday afternoon ... our new steam washer and dryer set.
Wow ... I think we will have to take a class on how to operate these machines. They are much more computerized than our older set. The dryer even plays a song when the cycle is complete. I love these new modern conveniences.
This pretty much completes our basement remodel project. Great timing before our trip. When we return we will move to the guest room and then start on our master bedroom/bathroom. Depending on what the school board decides tonight about my job ... I may have a lot of time on my hands to tackle several projects around the house!

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Drumroll, Please ...

After five long months of blood, sweat and a few tears : ) we finally finished the last of the bathroom remodel yesterday. The entire project will be complete when our new steam washer and dryer set is delivered in a week or so. What a huge accomplishment! Walt did a fabulous job and we are loving the end result.
Here's a small preview of our remodeling journey ...

With experience under our belt we will tackle the master bed/bath when we return from our trip. Seems like there's always a new adventure ahead as a homeowner!

Sixteen Days

When I arrived home from work one evening last week I found a package on our front porch ... our "Best of Italy" itinerary and ticket information.
Only sixteen days to get ready ... most of the shopping and "gathering" has been done. Now we're down to buying lightweight luggage and getting everything in them -- and still getting them zipped -- I have to remember there's a weight limit : )
With this extremely wet NW spring we've experienced this year it is nice to see that Italy is in the 80's right now. Hoping to enjoy some warmth and sunshine while there!

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Here We Go Again ...

In the "Waiting Room"
... a repeat end of the school year ... the District is recommending RIF'ing the Media Assts. once again. We are now waiting to see if the Board approves ... as we did last year, we are making adjustments in life.
Here's what I'll be aligning my life with ... I always find encouragement in the Psalms ...

"She is not afraid of receiving bad news;
her faith is strong and she trusts in the Lord.
She is not worried or afraid ..."
Psalm 112:7
I did change the he's to she's : )

I'll keep you posted as decisions are made. Would appreciate your prayers!
Thanks ...

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Merrell Shoes It Is

I spent a Sunday afternoon with my dear friend Donna shopping at the Merrell store for a pair of comfortable walking shoes for our trip. With the great suggestions from Merrell expert/shopping assistant, Cindy I found a great pair of shoes.
Here's a little info on these beauties:

A Mary Jane that’s neat, easy but close-fitting and quick as needed, thanks to a breathable mesh-line canvas upper custom-cinched with a click-down adjustable strap. Supportive, ventilated, and stride-aligned in the Merrell manner, with an encore sole with wide-range grip.

• Strobel construction offers flexibility and comfort
• Vegan friendly footwear
• Mesh upper
• Adjustable strap with clip closer locks in fit in one adjustment
• Breathable mesh lining treated with Aegis® antimicrobial solution
• Ortholite® Anatomical Footbed

• Molded nylon arch shank
• QForm® comfort provides women’s specific stride-sequenced cushioning
• Merrell® air cushion in the heel absorbs shock and adds stability
• Merrell encore Sole/Sticky rubber
• Weight: 14 ozs.

I have to say I LOVED everything in this store and would fill my suitcase with an entire Merrell wardrobe if I could afford it. Thanks Cindy for helping me find just what I was looking for! Just think of how comfortable I will be walking the streets of Rome : )

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Thirty-Seven Days

We're starting to count down DAYS until the "Best of Italy 2010" ... 37 to be exact!
Today I cleaned out the guest room closet and started pulling potential articles of clothing/accessories to set aside for packing. All the websites I've studied say to gather everything and then pack half of it! I've narrowed my color scheme to black & white while coordinating that with red and turquoise tops ... so that it doesn't get boring or colorless. I'm thinking the weather will be warm so I've packed with layering in mind. It's hard to think of everything I'll need for 16 days and still stay under the 50 lb. luggage weight limit : )
I am now down to finding the perfect -- comfortable but stylish -- shoes. Any suggestions????
We are nearly done with our bathroom/utility room remodel so now we can concentrate full-time on our exciting adventure ahead! Can't wait!

Friday, May 07, 2010

They're Engaged!

It's official ... they're engaged! Whooohooo ... we are so excited.
This evening while shopping at Lowe's for trim boards and a bathroom light fixture a call came through my phone from Scottsdale, AZ from Matt sharing the good news.
It's so exciting to have another girl in the family ... Welcome Kathy! We love and adore you : )
Colin will be especially pleased with the news!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Happy Birthday Grandpa

I thought I would try out a new template downloaded from Ali Edwards site. The theme seemed to fit the occasion. You can almost hear Colin describing how he picked out his special gift for Grandpa and look at the anticipation on Calleigh's face as she patiently waits for Grandpa to open her present.
I love how the grandkids know just what we need!

Font: Pea Quinn
Template: Ali Edwards
Wordart: Unknown

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Wanna Look Like You

Colin just needs sunglasses and these guys would be duplicates! Nice style Uncle Tim!

April Birthdays

Last weekend a large group of family and friends once again dined at our annual Poor Richard's Germer-Gearhart Birthday Celebration.
This tradition started over fifteen years ago when we discovered that, while both of our families lived in NE Portland and didn't know each other, frequented this "two-fer" dining room ... and from there it is history.
Our group of 16 is large and laughter fills the room ... o.k. ... maybe a little too much! However, I think we bring some life to this quiet little establishment.
This year was memorable since Jason turned 30! Just think ... when we first started celebrating together he didn't even have a learner's permit. So much history since then ...
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Font: Didot


I just finished downloading photos on our camera and this one caught my eye. It was a goodbye hug from Calleigh on Easter. It just captured what a loving little girl she is and even though you can't see my face ... a small glimpse tells you I am loving this : )
Thank you, Lord for these precious little ones you have brought into our lives.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

April Kickoff

So far this month ... excitement and surprise has been plentiful for our family. Brian and Michelle sold their house and bought this wonderful home. What an answer to prayer and the plan has been orchestrated better than we ever could have ever imagined. It was amazing to see how God provided every step of the way! What a blessing to have all that extra square footage. It will truly be a wonderful family home for them.
This week we also took the plunge and committed to a "Tour of Italy" in June to celebrate our 35th anniversary ... just a hair before it's our 36th! This has been a dream vacation on my "Bucket List" for years. After reading Beach Music by Pat Conroy my heart's desire has been set on visiting Italy. We wanted to do this last year but I was RIF'd in April and, since we are cautious people, we put our dream vacation "on hold" until we could see a change in the economy. The additional hours provided by the position I was eventually recalled to, provided the financial incentive to book the tour.
We are thankful for friends and neighbors who have traveled there before us and have given us great insight and suggestions. Please leave comments if you want to share info. with us. We'd love to hear your ideas!
I can't believe we are actually going!

Ciao ...

Friday, March 26, 2010

Dreaming of a 5k

Recently Matt ran the Shamrock Run and it sparked an interest in me to try a 5k run someday. After 12 weeks of working out at the gym ... mostly on the treadmill and elliptical 5 to 6 days a week ... I was surprised and a bit disappointed to find that running OUTSIDE requires much more training and dedication. I am in no way ready for a 5k at this point in my fitness regime.
While I was off work this week I loaded my iPhone with a fast paced playlist, familiarized myself with Walkmeter app and hit the pavement. What an awakening ... I was ready to give up after running only a few minutes where at the gym I can stay on the equipment for 45-60 mins. Hmmm ... this will require much training and take longer to build up the required strength and stamina.
The same day I tried this I discovered one of the blogs I follow started a new fitness blog and she is training for a 5k . She was actually the inspiration / motivation to get me started on a new fitness regime for 2010. Di Hickman is a fitness instructor and personal trainer. I found her design blog through a scrapbooking/card making connection. If you are presently working out or making a decision to get started, check out her fitness site for inspiration and encouragement.
In the meantime I'm going to supplement my gym time with a short run outside on "fair weather" evenings and I'm hoping to build enough stamina to run at least a mile. I will say that after two short runs I feel muscles in my thighs that I haven't been acquainted with in quite some time ... ouch : )
Whatever form of exercise you choose ... keep moving and motivated : )

Spring Break Activities

Today was my last day of Spring Break and I am sad to see it come to an end. What a fun-filled week it has been.
Sunday evening the grandkids came over to spend the night and we had a delightful time with them. They are so artsy-crafty (I think they get this from Mom) and we spent quite a bit of time in the kitchen coloring and painting. I ended up finding old coloring books from when our boys were little ... a great "retro" find ... I can't believe I kept so many of them.
After driving the kids home Monday morning I stopped at a few stores in their area ... fun to have the time to shop/browse. I found a few fun items for the deck at Craft Warehouse. Despite the forecasted weather report, I am ready for spring and pleasant weather.
Tuesday and Wednesday were bonus days -- blue skies and warm sunshine. I washed the car and cleaned the flower beds in the backyard. Amazing to see the new growth shooting up through the earth. Our Bleeding Heart is enormous and it's only March ... love the plants and flowers of spring!
Thursday I joined Donna on a shopping excursion to a new store ... new to me anyway. It's Real Deals Home Decor in Hillsboro. Check it out here. Your first visit to the store requires several trips up and down the aisles. Each time I discovered something I hadn't noticed before. It was fun to find that even the smallest, most inexpensive item added such a nice touch to our home. Many of my purchases were for our yard and deck ... another reason I would like to see pleasant weather ... I want to put out all the yard decor! We made many other stops to stores/malls in the area and even enjoyed a Newport Bay lunch. Can't think of a better way to spend spring break : )
Today I spent time getting my mindset back on work ... cleaning house, doing laundry, baking etc. I didn't mind too much as I have a new audiobook and this gave me an opportunity to get more involved in the story ... multi-tasking at its best.
I hope you had an opportunity to discover new things, spend time with those you love and enjoy some pleasant weather this spring break!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Great Finds ...

Look ... it's back on the store shelves ... my favorite salad dressing!!! For several years this product has not been available -- at least not at the stores where I shop. It was a great find at Fred Meyer this week. Litehouse ... you have me back as a loyal customer.
Another find I discovered on the Fred Meyer shelves ... Lemon Wafers. They are similar to Vanilla Wafers. Only 130 calories for 7 ... the problem is stopping at 7 : ) I bought them to crush over berries and adding a bit of whipped topping ... my version of a yummy light dessert.
Saturday night we made a stop at Teavana. My tea selection was getting a little slim. I used to buy Mrs. Earl Grey there but for some reason they discontinued my favorite tea. One of the employees suggested adding Tarocco Ruby Orange with regular Earl Grey and I have to say ... this is the best. What a wonderful way to start my day with a delicious cup of tea.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Gone With the Wind

After a long nine-month journey with Scarlett, Rhett, Ashley and Melanie the last pages of this great book were read this week. You may be thinking ... why did it take so long? A new job with longer hours, the holidays, a new exercise routine ... reading books from work, knitting projects etc. Gone With the Wind seemed to get pushed aside wherever the wind took me : )
The book pretty much followed the movie ... with the exception of Scarlett's older children. I was a little surprised by Rhett ... I don't think his motives were fully played out in the movie.
Well, now I'm a bit lost without these fictional "acquaintances" and even though I would like to read the sequel for the second time I think it's time to move on to something else. A trip to the library is in today's plan ... right after I finish cleaning up the backyard flowerbeds.
Oh, how I love Spring Break ....

Thursday, March 11, 2010

An Amazing Day Off

Today was the beginning of a 4-day weekend ... and much needed time off. I dedicated today to doing things I can never get to ... I actually finished a book this morning!
This afternoon I thought I would give a new nail salon in our "neighborhood" a try. This place was recommended by the gal who cuts my hair. She raved on their service and reasonable prices. What better way to pamper myself than with a manicure and pedicure. I was there for over one and a half hours ... and I was not disappointed. She did a fabulous job and it was fun to see how another salon provides their services. Their prices were indeed reasonable ... a french pedicure for $20 and a manicure for $14. I highly recommend this business and I know I will be back.
In addition to this relaxing experience I had the opportunity to read more of Gone With The Wind. For those who have been following my long journey with Scarlett ... I am now at the point where Rhett and Scarlett return from their honeymoon and are in the process of building their home on Peachtree. I have about 250 pages in the large print edition to go before completing this lengthily read. Donna ... it has been tempting to just stick the DVD in and finish it up : ) but I will keep going. I'm kind of persistent in that way. Then I'll sit back and watch the movie again. It's one of my favorites!
To top off my relaxing afternoon I stopped at Starbucks and used a Christmas gift card from my coworker. She recommended the chocolate cherry mocha ... and it was divine!
Tomorrow it will be time to get down to business and do all the prep and cleaning for the Bunco event of the year ... at least it is when I am the hostess hahaha. It always seems a bit overwhelming getting ready but so much fun when everyone arrives ... such a fun group of gals.
Hope you are finding ways to unwind from your busy schedule and discovering unexpected JOY in your day.


As Calleigh gets older, sometimes a memory is triggered while we are playing together. I'm not sure what takes me back to the late fifties but I think it's her hair, skin and eye color that remind me of my childhood friend, Debi.
Debi lived across the street from my daycare provider and we met as toddlers. I remember playing together at her house or mine. We both loved dolls as you can see by the picture -- it was taken in my bedroom. What an awesome "girlie" room I had : )
The school years can change routines and friendships and Debi was a year behind me in school. She attended a neighboring grade school even though we only lived about 4 blocks apart. When the school district changed the boundaries in the mid-sixties she was transferred to my school. We crossed paths again in high school and she married one of Walt's best friends. We share much history together and even though we haven't seen each other ... (except at a memorial service for Marie, my daycare provider) ... I still think of her often.
The memories of Debi became so strong after Christmas that I had to locate her. I found her email address and contacted her a month ago. It was so nice to get a response and hear about her family and her life. Do you have someone that comes to mind often? Follow the prompting and get in touch. I'm so glad I did!

Women's Retreat ... Priceless

Our attendance was smaller this year but the fun was mighty big at the Tillikum Retreat Center! What a perfect weekend to get away ... to be challenged ... to laugh ... to rest ... to find JOY ... and we were not disappointed.
This year's theme was, "Loving Well" and our speaker was Beth Moore via DVD. She is an enthusiastic, honest and open woman ... full of energy and a great sense of humor with a challenging message.
With the temps in the 60's we also enjoyed walks around the lake and good talks on the deck in our free time. I enjoyed the retreat more this year ... sometimes it's easy to feel lost in a crowd and with the smaller group I had the opportunity to get to know many of the women better than just "hello" in the church foyer.
And an added benefit of the weekend ... Walt turned our water off while I was gone so he could work on the plumbing in the basement bathroom. For that reason ... my weekend away was priceless : ) Perfect timing!
Thank you to our retreat planning team ... it was a great weekend getaway.