ISO: Booty Shakin', Get your Butt in Gear Music

Alright, so it’s no surprise, I’m swamped at work. Swamped probably isn’t even a good description, drowning is definitely closer to where I’m at. I’ve been jamming to various tunes on my iPod, (Steve’s upgrading me for Christmas! What a stud!). It’s been incredibly important because I have a lot of chatterbox’s around me and if I don’t have music to tune them out, I’m inclined to chat along with them. With the level of work I need to accomplish, I just don’t have the time to chat.

I need a new round of tunes to keep me going. I’ve been listening to quite a variety of tunes, and I think their cycle has been filled for now. Here’s what I’ve had in my play cycle: (Don’t laugh. Actually you can if you want – I would if I were you)

  • Britney Spears - Greatest Hits
  • Christina Aguilera – Stripped
  • Mariah Carey – Charm Bracelet
  • Mariah Carey – Greatest Hits
  • Jessica Simpson – A Public Affair
  • Nick Lachey
  • Jessie McCartney
  • Dixie Chicks – Taking the Long Way
  • Nickelcreek – All of their CD’s
  • Nora Jones
  • Rascal Flatts – Everything!
  • Toby Keith – Any mean, butt kicking song!
  • Eminem

Most of them are songs you’d find at a club, and have a great busy beat, so they’re easy to work along to and work FAST to.

What are your favorite jamming tunes? I’m taking about tunes that get you off of your butt, and start moving songs?

Welcome: Fourth Quarter 2006

Ever have one of those days… that turns into one of those weeks… that could quite possibly turn into one of those months?

That’s where I’m at.

Welcome to the fourth quarter of 2006, Ladies and Gentlemen!

Everyone at work has told me over and over… “Just wait until fourth quarter; you’ll be so busy you won’t know what to do!” (They should have just said wait until the end of November and all of December get here.. you'll wish you had another job!)

They were right. Don’t get me wrong, the overtime will be fantastic. Steve will be thrilled with the extra money. However, I’m going to be so tired – I wont be able to spend it (Steve will remain thrilled). It’s a blessing to have a job, and have the benefits – but my golly, my mental stamina might be completely gone by 12/31!

I worked 52 hours last week, and that’s with leaving work at 2pm on Wednesday and not working at all on Thursday.

This week is going to be even worse. I predict close to 68 hours, but I could be wrong.

Please, God, please let me be wrong!

The point of my rambling, whining post is that I might be MIA over the next few weeks. Don’t worry, if all fails, I’ll definitely be back in time to report about my incredible massage and a spa visit in January (I'm going to get that appointment scheduled ASAP, and am treating myself – go me! I deserve it!).

Do you ever....

Do you ever have one of those days where you realize that some things in your life just plain suck – and there’s not a dang thing you can do about it?

Today is one of those days. No, my life in general does not suck. Circumstances and attitudes/people beyond my control do. It’s hard. It’s especially hard when surrounded by these people, and when trying to do nice things for them that go completely unappreciated, unnoticed, or are just expected.

Maybe I’m just being overly PMSy hormonal and blowing things out of proportion (which could entirely be accurate).

One thing I know for sure, and it's become even more clearer over the last few days, I love, appreciate, and am incredibly thankful for my family – and for my parents and how they chose to raise my siblings and I. During days like today, the contrasts become obvious – and my heart is full of thanksgiving for them, and for their endless love and support.

I’ve learned a few things over the last few days and have made some decisions:

  • I will teach my children the value of working and earning.
  • I will teach my children the value in showing appreciation and giving thanks.
  • I will teach my children the importance and power of family relationships.
  • I will teach my children the importance of supporting others through their challenges, struggles, trials, and grief.
  • I will teach my children the importance of being independent, and self sufficient.
  • I will teach my children how to communicate.
  • I will teach my children the importance of being modest (in clothing and actions).
  • I will teach my children the importance of cleanliness (in all things).
  • I will teach my children to respect others and their beliefs – even if (and especially if) they are different from ours.
  • I will teach my children that they determine their destination and path in life.
  • I will teach my children that their attitude is up to them.
  • I will teach my children that they have the choice to react or not to various influences.
  • I will love my children – and they will know they are loved, without end.

I have much to be thankful for in my life – and I am thankful. I realize that life is not perfect, and that everything can’t be ideal. Realizing these things makes me recognize the blessings and wonderful people I (usually) have around me – and who continually support and love me. I have an incredible husband, who loves me despite my faults. I have an incredible family (two of them!) who love me without end. I have a home, a job, and many other comforts that others do not. I have a Heavenly Father who gives me comfort, knows my needs, and is there for me when ever I need or call upon Him.

I am so blessed.

Thanksgiving 2006: Grandma's Green Bean Casserole

This is a tried and true family recipe. Once you make this dish, you’ll never want to go back to the traditional canned version again!


2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon white sugar
1/4 cup onion, diced
3/4 cup sour cream
3 (14.5 ounce) cans French style green beans, drained
2 cups shredded Mild Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup crumbled buttery round crackers
1 tablespoon butter, melted


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in flour until smooth, and cook for one minute. Stir in the salt, sugar, onion, and sour cream. Add green beans, and stir to coat. Transfer the mixture to a 2 1/2 quart casserole dish. Spread shredded cheese over the top. In a small bowl, toss together cracker crumbs and remaining butter, and sprinkle over the cheese.

Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven or until the top is golden and cheese is bubbly.

Thanksgiving 2006: Easy Banana Cream Pie

This pie is great for any time of year - and it's fast to make! When I make it, I normally use a vanilla wafer crust rather than a graham cracker crust. I like to add a few mashed bananas to the cream filling and real whipped cream instead of cool whip. This is a great recipe if you are in need of a quick dessert.


1 graham cracker pie crust
1 (3 1/2 ounce) box instant vanilla pudding
1 (3 1/2 ounce) box instant banana pudding
2 cups milk
8 ounces cream cheese, softened (at room temperature)
1 (8 ounce) carton nondairy whipped topping (Cool Whip)
3 ripe bananas
1/2 cup shredded coconut


Mix vanilla and banana pudding together with milk. Add cream cheese and mix with hand mixer until thickened. Place in graham cracker crust and top with whipped topping, sliced bananas and coconut. Chill for at least 1 hour before serving.


Take one or two of the bananas and mash them up and add them to the filling along with the cream cheese. Then slice the remaining banana(s) for the topping.

Thanksgiving 2006: Banana Cream Pie

This isn't my recipe - it's Emerils! I've heard that pieces of this pie are more requested at his restaurants more than any other. Steve's a HUGE banana cream pudding nut, so this was a definite addition to our menu. I know it looks like a lot of work - but it's worth it! I don't do the caramel or chocolate sauce - It really isn't needed. The one time I did use the sauces though, I bought them from the grocery store!


5 large egg yolks
1/4 cup cornstarch
3 to 3 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
3 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 ripe banana, mashed
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
3 pounds of bananas, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices
3/4 cup caramel sauce
1 cup chocolate sauce
2 cups heavy cream whipped to stiff peaks with 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract and 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
shaved chocolate
powdered sugar

Caramel Drizzle Sauce Ingredients:

1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1 cup heavy cream

Chocolate Sauce Ingredients:

1/4 cup half-and-half
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 pound semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions for the Pie:
In a mixing bowl, combine the egg yolks, cornstarch and 1 cup of the heavy cream. Whisk to blend well. Set aside. Combine the remaining 2 cups cream, 1 1/2 cups of the sugar, and the vanilla bean in a large heavy-bottom saucepan over medium heat, Whisk to dissolve the sugar and bring to a gentle boil, about 10 minutes.

Slowly add the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly until it thickens, about 5 minutes. Be forewarned: the mixture will break. Don't be alarmed! Pour it into a glass bowl. Press a piece of plastic wrap down over the surface of the mixture to prevent a skin from forming. Let cool completely at room temperature.

When cooled, remove the vanilla bean and pour the mixture into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a wire whip. Beat at medium-speed to combine the mixture. If it will not combine, warm another 1/2 cup heavy cream and slowly add it to the mixture. Whip until you have a thick and creamy custard.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a mixing bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, the remaining sugar and the mashed banana. Mix thoroughly. Add the butter and mix well. Press the mixture into a 9-inch pie pan. Bake until browned, about 25 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and cool, for about 10 minutes.

Directions for the Caramel Sauce
In a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar and water and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring often. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is a deep caramel color and has the consistency of a thin syrup, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in the cream, return the saucepan to the high heat and boil the sauce until it regains the consistency of a thick syrup, about 2 minutes. Cool.

The sauce can be refrigerated until ready to use. Allow it to reach room temperature before drizzling it over the pie.

Directions for the Chocolate Sauce:
Combine the half-and-half and butter in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Heat the mixture until a thin paper like skin appears on the top. Do not boil. Add the chocolate and vanilla and stir until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth. Remove from the heat and let cool.

The sauce can be kept refrigerated for several days, but it must be returned to room temperature before serving.

Assembling Directions:
To assemble, spread about 1/2 cup of the custard on the bottom of the crust. Arrange about a third of the banana slices, crowding them close together over the custard. Next, spread 1 cup of the custard over the bananas. Arrange another third of the banana slices close together over the custard. Top with 1 cup custard and the remaining banana slices. Top with the remaining custard, covering the bananas completely to prevent them from turning brown.

Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 4 hours.

To serve, cut pie into wedges and drizzle on the caramel sauce and chocolate sauce. Top with the whipped cream and shaved chocolate. Sprinkle with confectioners sugar.

Yields: One 9-inch pie, 8 to 10 servings

Thanksgiving 2006: Double Chocolate Pie

This is a rich and creamy chocolate pie. There are chocolate chips, squares of unsweetened chocolate, and lots of eggs and milk. The filling is cooked up until thick and lovely and poured into a baked pie shell. One of the best parts - Besides the taste of course, is that It can be made two days in advance.


1 (9 inch) pie crust, baked
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups WHOLE milk
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 (1 ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate, chopped
4 egg yolks, beaten
1 tablespoon vanilla extract


Combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a 2-quart saucepan. Stir in milk gradually. Add chocolate chips and unsweetened chocolate. Place over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils. Boil and stir 1 minute.

Place egg yolks in a medium heatproof bowl. Gradually pour half of chocolate mixture into egg yolks, whisking constantly.

Whisk egg yolk mixture back into mixture in saucepan. Place over medium heat and bring back to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla extract.

Pour mixture into baked pie shell. Press a layer of plastic wrap onto filling. Refrigerate at least 4 hours but no longer than 48 hours. Remove plastic wrap before serving and top with whipped topping

Thanksgiving 2006: No Roll Pie Crust

This pie crust is so easy – and clean up is a BREEZE! This crust works best for savory pies like quiche, and pot pies. But, its also awesome for fruit and cream pies. The best part? No rolling necessary for this pie crust! Just mix it in the pan and press into the bottom and sides.


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons milk


In a 9 inch pie plate, sift flour, sugar and salt. make a well in the center and pour in oil and milk. Mix with a fork, then press into the bottom and sides of pie plate.

To bake: Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C.) Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until golden brown.

If you’re using the crust for a quiche, use a bit less sugar and a tad more salt.

Thanksgiving 2006: a MEME

From Sophia's Two Peas Blogging Challenge:

Thanksgiving Twenty
  1. Do you cook all or part of the meal? Normally all, that is unless someone asks if they cam bring something with them.
  2. How much do you spend buying groceries for the meal? $150-$200?
  3. Do you eat at home or go to someone else’s? We don't have any family here, so it's always at our house.
  4. Describe your perfect bite? A little bit of mashed potatoes and stuffing together!
  5. White meat or dark? White!
  6. Stuffing with giblets or without? Without... but I cook the giblets and use the broth!
  7. Anything you won’t eat at the Thanksgiving meal? ummm the plates? :)
  8. Carve Mr. Gobble at the table or serve on a platter? Carve at the table! (if it doesn't fall apart when it comes out of the roaster or oven first!)
  9. Favorite pie? Pecan or Pumpkin
  10. Formal table or Chinet? This year it's Chinet all the way! Too many people!
  11. Your menu? See this previous post
  12. Favorite leftover? Frog Eye Salad
  13. Extended family, friends, both or just the immediate family for dinner? All of the above
  14. After dinner, do you go to the latest movie or football on TV? Neither - I always fall asleep!
  15. Do you watch the Macy’s Parade? I don't usually have time. :(
  16. Christmas decorations up before or after? After... RIGHT after!
  17. Black Friday shopping or sleep in? Neither. :( I am working on Friday.
  18. Any special Thanksgiving tradition? Everyone gets their own pie.
  19. Favorite thing about Thanksgiving? Spending time with friends and family!
  20. Favorite Thanksgiving memory? Golly so many of them are filled with great memories. But, the most unusual one was when we had a mexican thanksgiving and ate all kinds of incredibly yummy mexican foods. (I think it was when we lived in Geilenkirchen. Mom?)

Thanksgiving 2006: Crockpot Stuffing

As any Thanksgiving cook knows, oven space is especially tight on Thanksgiving (unless you have two ovens – I haven’t had that luxury!). I don’t cook my stuffing in the turkey (the timing always throws me off), and have always done it in the oven. Finding this recipe was a God send. It’s easy, keeps my oven free, and is very tasty. It’s one of those recipes that you need to adjust for your altitude and climate (warmer/drier climates would use more broth, cold/wet climates would use less). If you have a newer crock-pot (I find they cook a bit faster), periodically check on your stuffing to make sure it’s not cooking faster then you want.
1 cup butter or margarine
2 cups chopped onion
2 cups chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
12 ounces sliced mushrooms
12 cups dry bread cubes
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 1/2 teaspoons dried sage
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 1/2 cups chicken broth, or as needed (2-3 14 oz cans)
2 eggs, beaten

Melt butter or margarine in a skillet over medium heat. Cook onion, celery, mushroom, and parsley in butter, stirring frequently.

Spoon cooked vegetables over bread cubes in a very large mixing bowl. Season with poultry seasoning, sage, thyme, marjoram, and salt and pepper. Pour in enough broth to moisten, and mix in eggs. Transfer mixture to slow cooker, and cover.

Cook on High for 45 minutes, then reduce heat to Low, and cook for 4 to 8 hours. (If necessary, remove the lid for the last hour to eliminate some of the moisture)

Yields 16 servings

~ If you use store bought dry bread crumbs, use less water. (Less for fresh bread and more for store bought hard packaged)
~ Try adding sausage (go for the sage sausage and leave the sage out of the listed ingredients).
~ Alternative additions: 1/4 c. dried cranberries, 1/4 c. diced (cooked) pork tenderloin, 1/4 c. raw cashews, 1/4 c. roasted almonds and 1 t. each Emeril's Essence, Montreal chicken seasoning, celery salt, marjoram and onion powder

Thanksgiving 2006: Recipes!

I've had a few recipe requests for some of the items we'll be having this year for Thanksgiving. I'm trying to get them added into my Recipe Blog (From My Kitchen to Yours). So far, it's just my Cranberry Sauce recipe. I'll try to add in the rest of them later today, and this evening. There are a few of our favorite recipes there already - tonight we're having the Jambalaya! Yum!

What are a few of your favorite recipes?

Thanksgiving 2006: Cranberry Sauce

Seriously, this is SO easy - and very tasty. You'll never go back to canned cranberry sauce again!
12 ounces Cranberries
1 c. white sugar
1 c. orange juice
Optional: 1 t. grated orange rind (the orange part)

Place cranberries in a bowl of clean water. Pick through, discarding stems and rotten berries. Drain berries.
In a medium sized saucepan over medium heat, dissolve the sugar in the orange juice. Stir in the cranberries and cook until the cranberries start to pop (about 10 minutes). Remove from heat and place sauce in a bowl. Cranberry sauce will thicken as it cools.

Yields about 2 cups.

Check it out... Announcing the Maya Road Design Team Blog!

I bet you didn't know that the Maya Road Design Team has a blog - did you? If you didn't know, don't fret - it's new. It's only been on the net for a week or so, and is in the process of being developed. It'll be a place loaded with eye candy and other fun Maya Road product samples. Add it to your daily "must see" list. You never know when a RAK or posting contest will happen, and who doesn't need more Maya Road? :)

Budget Alert: Garage Sale Paradise

This Sauturday, Nov 18th at Magic Scraps {click for map} from 9 AM - 3 PM will be another mother of all Garage sales!!! Magic Scraps overstock liquidation, Scrapbook University final liquidation & individual tables from local scrappers (like ME!)! Come find amazing deals to create Christmas presents in bulk - or find something you've never used, but want to try...While you're there pick up a schedule of digital & hybrid scrapbooking classes for Polka Dot Potato and see the amazing print services they offer! The machine Ashley has in here is incredible & she can print anything & everything from photos to 12x12 layouts or your holiday cards!

Tonight is the Night... Emmitt or Mario?

I {love} to dance! I think it's part of the whole showtunes, Broadway, and choir part of me. I love to get my groove on. I don't go out dancing anymore, well not in a very long time (other than while visiting friends in Ohio), but I do dance around the house. Normally, it's late at night, when I'm all alone (Steve's at work) and I've got the cleaning bug. I'll crank up the stereo with some jammin' tunes, and rock out like I'm a teenager.

I'm not a graceful dancer. In fact, I'm somewhat of a clumsy dancer - but I enjoy it just the same. My mother tells me that I have rythmn - which may be correct. But, dancing (at least organized dancing) hasn't ever been easy for me. It's still fun though!

Growing up in Germany, I remember many a dance where everyone did the fox trot (or other ballroom dance) to everything. Yes, everything. There wasn't much of the style of dance we see now. No line dancing. No booty shaking. No girls with their arms around the boys necks, and the boys arms around the girls waist. It was ballroom all the way. Imagine watching a bunch of otherwise modern teenagers and young adults dancing the fox trot to rap. Funny, eh?

You don't see it anymore, and back then I didn't think it was so strange, just a little bit unusual. Now I think it's downright hilarious - it cracks me up when I think about it.

What brings me to this thinking? Ahhhh Dancing with the Stars. I love to watch this ABC show. It's been fun to see each of the couples start out with stumbling and heavy steps to now where they dance with grace and finesse. Each week another couple has been eliminated - I admit to feeling some sorrow as they have left. (Getting to spend so much time dancing - and with a professional partner to boot - must have been a BLAST!!)

Tonight is the grand finale. We'll find out who the champion is! Could it be Mario Lopez or will it be Emmitt Smith? Personally, I find them both to be awesome dancers. They both have rythmn and they both have style. They're both incredibly fit - and quite nice to look at. I admit that Emmitt is my favorite - and not because he's a former Cowboy. It's because of his smile, and because of the personality he displays while dancing. He's awesome.

Go Emmit!

Thanksgiving Plans...

I can’t believe that Thanksgiving is just around the corner. WOW…. There’s so much to do, and work is going gung ho; so having extra time to be festive and decorative is at a minimum. (riiiight… I’ll probably get a wild hair going on sometime next week and feel the urge to do some major decorating and crafting before Thanksgiving!)

This year, we’re going to have a full house- isn’t that how holidays are supposed to be? One set of Steve’s parents (Russ & Jill) will be flying in this coming Sunday and will be with us for a week. Thomas will be here, as will Kimberlee and James – I’m pretty sure they’re both bringing a few friends along too. We’ve invited a few other couples to join us – seating will definitely be at a premium! We’re not a formal family – so it’ll probably be “squat where you find a spot.”

Despite the tight schedule, I’m really looking forward to Thanksgiving. Our menu is going to be fairly simple this year, but food will be plentiful! So far, our menu will include:

  • Turkey
  • Mashed Potatoes (using Grandma Cash’s yummy make ahead recipe – WAHOO!)
  • Homemade Gravy (using the turkey drippings)
  • Homemade Stuffing (I’m even making the bread for it this year – are you impressed Mom??)
  • Homemade Cranberry Sauce (LOVE it – and it’s so EASY it is to make!)
  • Homemade Rolls (can’t get by without them! It’s a Beste thing!)
  • Green Bean Casserole
  • Yams/Sweet Potatoes
  • Corn
  • Frog Eye Salad (It’s a Beste thing…. And it’s so tasty! You might have had it as Pearl Drop Salad)

Of course, that’s all in addition to the plethora of desserts we’ll have. We have a tradition at our house that calls for each person getting their own Thanksgiving pie – whatever pie they want. So, there will be LOTS of pie making going on at my house next week! I think I’m going to invest in the smaller pie tins (I think they’re 5” round) instead of making everyone 8” or 9” pies.

With all this food talk, I really want to get going on Christmas stuff already! My Christmas planner is almost done (thanks to Carolyn Peeler’s class kit from Silver Bella) and sugar plums are dancing around in my head. I want to put the Christmas Tree up now – especially since I have my German wooden ornaments out. Steve just laughs at me. J I love a Christmas house – someday I’ll have one, with a Christmas Tree in every room. I can’t wait! J

Welcome to the new members of the Maya Road 2007 Design Team

Today was the big day - the awaited announcement of the new additions to the 2007 Maya Road Design Team. I am in awe at the talent that applied to be part of our team - the various galleries have been over flowing with incredible projects with really creative ideas. I know the decision was hard for the Maya Road Team of Caroline, Deb, and Jessica - how they managed to narrow it down to the final 6 is beyond me. I know I couldn't have done it! (ETA: it looks like they couldn't narrow it down to 6 either! There are 8 new members of our team!)

Without any further adu, the additions to the 2007 Maya Road Design Team (with links to their 2Peas Galleries) are:

A huge congratulations to the new team members. I'm really looking forward to working with each of them next year!

To those who entered, but were not selected:
Please know that this decision does not guage your skill as an artist; nor does it make your work any less worth while. I would hope that the project(s) you created and submitted are something you personally love, enjoy, and treasure. Though in the end you may not have had the result you sought, but you do have something of value - if only of your time and of yourself. You are still valued, and so is your work!


I love the paisley pattern. I REALLY love the paisley pattern. Recently, when reorganizing my patterned paper (from being all sorted by manufacturer to being mostly sorted by pattern) it became even more obvious. I have at least 2” of paisley patterned paper. WOW… I didn’t realize I was such an addict.

There’s a darling little girl at church whose name is Paisley. Ooooh, if only I can convince DH that we should name our future daughter Paisley. Hmmm Paisley Linette…. Paisley Lou… eww no. Paisley Anne? Hmmm there are plenty of options that we could use. Do you think she’d get teased with the Paisley Ales vs. Pale Ale similarity? I think way too much into these things. (Note: No, I’m not pregnant!)

Is it any wonder, that with this addiction that these dishes are calling my name? I really want to have the serving platter – how gorgeous would it be with my fall table settings? It would be fantastic for Thanksgiving, It would definitely look beautiful with scones piles onto it. The colors would go quite nicely with my kitchen decor and scheme. Don’t ‘cha think?

Holiday Happiness

I SO have the holiday bug.... I'm not referring to the ick I still have - I'm referring to the holiday urge to decorate and celebrate!

Years ago (when we lived in Berlin - before the wall fell, if I remember correctly) my mother purchased these little wooden people ornaments for our Christmas tree. I have always loved them, and have always looked forward to seeing them on my parents tree each year. Over the last few years, they haven't made their holiday appearance. As things often do as they age, they've started to fall apart and the time wasn't available to spend putting them back together.

Mom knew how much I loved them, and when she came to visit a few weeks ago, she brought me a delightful box full of little wooden people (and... tee hee hee a grundle of Dad's karaoke cd's to croon away with!). I knew that they'd need a little TLC, and this weekend their time arrived. A few of them have missing arms, a few need to have their paint touched up. The viking warrior's shield has chipping paint. Lady Liberty's flame is blowing upside down. The little devil needs his horns and ears glued back on - and the angels wings are askew. They've all seen much better years. But, I can't express to you how happy they make me.

They remind me of the happy Christmas's I've had with my family - of the incredible memories and fun times we've had. The hours we've sat around the piano singing together; how I enjoyed my fathers deep bass voice, my mothers beautiful harmonizing alto, my sister's sweet soprano, one brothers incredible tenor and the other's great bass - all partnered up with my soprano (or attempting alto). For me, music has always been an integral part of the Christmas season.

These ornaments remind me of the places we've lived, countries we've visited, people we've loved and served, happy memories that were created, and the REALLY tasty and yummy foods Mom made (ooooh talk about happy memories there).

As we get ready to celebrate the holiday season (I can't believe that Thanksgiving is RIGHT around the corner!), I'm going to make sure I take the time to journal all of the things I remember about holidays past - so that they're available for my holidays future. I want to make sure that the good times are around for a long time - just like these awesome wooden ornaments.

Color Me Productive!

I know this is going to sound vain.... but... dang it, I'm impressed with myself! :) Thomas (my bro in law) popped over at 630am this morning, and I was actuallly coherent enough to manage a full conversation with him - AND make scones for breakfast. Ahhhh this doesn't happen often, especially when I'm feeling icky (but feeling MUCH better!), so I have to honk my own horn when I can. :)

My family LOVES scones. Actually I fell in love with them when we were in California for Kim's high school graduation. I hadn't had them before, and was able to enjoy them a few different times. Talk about heaven. I must admit, my favorite was from this cool mendo coffee shop in Ukiah called the "Coffee Critic". They were orange and cranberry flavored with just a bit of chopped walnuts.

As soon as we got home from that trip, I was running full throttle to find the perfect scone recipe. While it might not be perfect - it is yummy. We've tried lots of different variations on the recipe and have tossed lots of different flavors into the mix. Today it was cranberry (using fresh cranberries versus dried) and orange (using the dried peel found in the spice section of the grocery store). They are tasty... the boys were thrilled. I'm happy that I could do something so simple to make them both happy - and fill all of our tummies at the same time.

Tom actualy stopped by to see if one of us would go to IKEA with him. Oh would I??? Please, that's one store no one EVER has to ask me if I'l go to.. it's always a huge yes. Duh... love that place.

After that, it's onto getting the front flower garden tidied and ready for the fall. Fun times I tell you, fun time.

Off to IKEA....

Make it a great day!

Bad Blogger.....

I know, really it's not much of a shock to you. I am a baaaad blogger! Over the last few weeks, I've had oodles of things going on and haven't taken the time to sit down and keep everyone appropriately updated.

So much has been going on - and so much is on the horizon! I think I'll be running full speed all the way to my birthday in January. {Note to self: schedule pampering massage for your birthday.}

It's been a VERY long week. I'm still struggling with the sicky thing. It's definitely not been pleasureful - but it's been survivable. Mucinex is really a GREAT thing (and the Walmart brand is less than half the price and does the job just dandily!). Fourth quarter has started at work, which means that my life basically revolves around tax deadlines. From what I understand, it's not unusual to work 20+ hours of overtime per week November - December. Ohhh what fun it's going to be.... :)

I'm still unpacking from Silver Bella. I have glitter EVERYWHERE. I don't know what it the TSA thought it was but every single little tiny bag (they're like 2"x3" bags - if that!) of glitter was opened. EVERY bag. Most of the bags were NOT reclosed, so as a result every stitch of everything that was packed in a suitcase is sparkly. Not that I'm complaining of course. I'm sure Steve will get worried when he finds glitter in his drawers though. :) (By the way, if you're a glitter addict like myself, be sure to check out an incredible store: Splinters and Rags. She has an awesome selection, incredible customer service, and high quality glass glitter. I've ordered from her and am VERY pleased!)

Yesterday the team at Maya Road announced the 13 finalists for the 2007 Design Team Search. It's been such a joy and a pleasure to see so many incredible projects that so many artists have entered. I haven't seen the actual entries (thankfully), but from what I've seen on various boards, I know the competition must have been incredibly stiff. I've been inspired many times over. It would be wonderful if Deb and Caroline could accept all of the artists who applied, but it's just not feasible. They have been kind and generous enough though to send each artist a little something in the mail for entering. How fantastic! I don't know about the other Design Team members, but I'm on pins and needles waiting for next week to get here just so I can find out who the 6 new members of our team will be!

Tonight I'm going over to the Lewisville Scrapbook Warehouse to visit with some of my scrapping friends. Amazingly enough, i'm actually packed and ready to go. I know - shocker! It was such a hard thing to accomplish - especially since I had everything packed for last weekend! :) I'm planning to complete one of the class kits I purchased last weekend from the instructors of the classes I didn't get to attend. It's one of Carolyn Peeler's classes. Both were absolutely adorable. I can't wait until all of the projects are done - my house isn't going to know what hit it!

Honey.... I'm Home!!

WOW... what a whirlwind of a weekend it was. Pure bliss, delight, pleasure, and more than my fair share of glitter. The weekend was fantastic, with the exception of a grundle of "minor" challenges (does my life EVER go smooothly??), I had a complete blast.

I arrived Thursday and met up with Jana at the airport. Talked with the airline folks, with great hopes that they'd be able to locate a VERY important missing box that had been checked in with luggage. It didn't make the trip - but was to be waiting for us at our hotel the following day. After a short delay, the shuttle to the hotel arrived. Rather than checking out the nightlife, we played it easy; ordered a pizza from Godfathers and watched Grey's Anatomy (surely you didn't think I'd miss that did you??)

Friday morning a little suprise was waiting for me from Mother Nature. Yes, that's right... she sent my dear Aunt two and a half weeks early. What a delightful treat to wake up to.

After we checked out of our hotel (we weren't able to stay at the Hilton the entire weekend), we mozied on over to the Silver Bella hotel, got ourselves checked in, and then we took a much needed (and now required) trip to Target. What a fun trip it was! It was a sparkling new Target, loaded with many things I simply HAD to have. :)

We spent the rest of the afternoon checking out the fun Old Market section of Omaha. What a delight it was. We found a wonderful old shoppe and bumped into the fabulous Bellas; Teresa, Kim, Becky, Carolyn and Pam (Kelly and Cori too!). It was nice to see them prior to the event, and most definitely in their element. The shoppe was packed from basement to ceiling of fun and wonderful antiques. I purchased a few items and I can't wait to put them to creative use.

We returned to the hotel and got ready for the beginning of our grand event. Maija, Jana's most AWESOME and fun roommate joined us and we had a GREAT time. She is a doll!

After checking in to Silver Bella, we entered a room full of glittery and girly bliss. Each table was adorned with the coolest sparkly snowflakes, and plates filled with gorgeous glass glitter. At each seat was a pink cake box filled with the supplies we would need to complete our project for the night - a bella garland. Mine isn't finished (I didn't want to put it together and then figure out how to transport it safely on the plane). The one here is Teresa's sample one (image is from her blog).

After our class, it was time for the Bella Boutique. Oh boy! Oh boy! I managed to spend an indecent amount of money (well compared to what I had planned to spend anyway). There were treats for every fancy, and sussies to fit every princess. There was SO much talent and skill in each piece that each artist had brought to sell. It's a shame I wasn't able to buy more - there were three booths that I wanted to shop at, but alas I was out of money. :(

One of the things I was most looking forward to at Silver Bella was getting to meet some of my online friends, and to enjoy their creativity. The fabulous Cari Kraft (can you believe it - love her last name - it fits her PERFECTLY!!) was #1 on my list of artists to meet. This woman ooozes creativity - and coolness. Her Bella Boutique table was loaded with items you could special order (and boy will I be!!)

After calling it a night, I rested for a few hours so that I'd be bright and perky for the next morning. Classes were set to start at the un-bella hour of 8am - but I managed! :)

My first class of the day was with the incredible Pam Garrison - "Two Turtle Doves". Now, this is a woman who I could watch for hours and NEVER be bored. She's amazing. This class was for a gorgeous holiday banner. Mine is in the process of being recreated - my birds died a slow death in my luggage (I thought I packaged them safely enough - with tissue paper even. But alas, the wings were amputated... how sad!) I'll share photos when I have it done.

My next class was with Miz Foof herself, Teresa McFayden - "Christmas Card Stashaway". This was a cool creative project - and honestly mine is almost 100% complete. I have a few things to do to it to make it mine, but it will be ready to share sometime this weekend.

After the second class, we broke for lunch to enjoy delightful box lunches.

My third class was again with Pam Garrison - "And the Stockings Were Hung". VERY VERY VERY fun and cool project. I loved seeing everyone's creativity in their stocking (or banner as Amanda created). I can't wait to finish up mine and share it with you! I have a feelign that I'll be making several of them for the holidays this year!

My fourth class was also... again... with Teresa - "Crown of the Town". However, I was definitely feeling under the weather at this point and chose to take a nap. I managed to make it back down to the classroom though and enjoy everyone's crowns. Cori made an especially awesome one! I picked up the kit, and will share mine with you all when it's done.

We broke for dinner at this point, and I enjoyed myself with Maija and Jana in the Lobby of our hotel. The wait was too long

Leaving on a Jet Plane...

Well ladies and gents, the time has come! It's finally here! Silver Bella 2006, ready or not here I come!

My bags are totally packed.
My carry-on is loaded with things to keep me entertained.
My body is exhausted from last minute preparations - and the oodles of crazy hours I had to do at work to clear up some time.
My attire has been selected.
My toes are appropriately painted (well as appropriately as Tina - my nail tech - can do when you try to explain what a Siver Bella is... tee hee hee) and my fingernails tidy.
My class supplies are collected, organized and packed.
All of my ATC's are ready to be shared (once a few of them finish being assembled on the plane)!
Gifts for the fabulous instructors (with Texan style to boot!) are packed.
An extra book of checks are ready to be written.
Caffeine pills - check.
Sassiness - check!
Ready to have some fun and get glitterfied - check check check.

Have a great weekend, ya'll!

Ready or Not.....

I can't believe it's almost here! Silver Bella that is! I'm flying out tommorrow afternoon and will meet up with my pal, Jana, in good old COLD Omaha, Nebraska! I've got my "Naughty or Nice" ATC's ready to share, and the ATC's for the other group are ready to go too... well almost! I'll probably finish them up on the plane or in our hotel room on Thursday night. Is it too vain to put a photo of yourself on your ATC's?

My room is reserved and Beth is set to be my roommate for Friday - Saturday nights.

My supplies are laid out and ready to be packed up. I need to pull an extra suitcase out of the attic... just in case. :) Camera is charged and the memory cards are clear. My Nick & Nora flannel pj's are in the middle of being laundered and my bunny slippers are ready to be worn.

I'm really looking forward to the event. I know that Teresa has put an extraordinary amount of time into planning it, and the other instructors have put a grundle of time into it too! I can't wait to take the classes I was able to register for! I'm planning to purchase the kits for the ones I wasn't able to register for - so I'll be totally bella'd out! Is that even possible?

I always look forward to events such as this with much anticipation. There's something about attending a smaller event, there's a more intimate atmosphere. You're able to get to know the other participants and enjoy their creativity and personalities. There will be glitter and glitz a plenty - more than I'll know what to do with - I'm sure! I know that this weekend will be such fun!

Ready or not... here I come!