Thursday, January 31, 2008

Photo 12.

Day No. 12: Shadows on the wall.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Chili contest.

Winn spent this evening concocting a perfect pot of chili for the men's chili cookoff at church tomorrow night. Perfect. He let me sample a serving, and I mean to tell you that it was the best chili I have ever tasted! And I've had a lot of chili in my day. After polishing off the bowl, my eyes were a little watery and I had to blow my nose, but it was worth every delectable bite.

Day No. 11: Chili King.

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There were too many white spots in this shot, but it made runner-up...

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Peggy time.

Spent a delightful morning with my sister. I don't do that nearly often enough. It started off with a cream cheese pastry and coffee at my house, and then it was off to Peg's eye appointment. She chose these glasses...

Even though I thought she should get these ones...

Photo 10.

Major blizzard here today. School was canceled, interstates were closed, stores were empty. The roads were treacherous, and I probably shouldn't have been out on them. But when one saves the birthday shopping until that very day, what's a gal to do? Learned my lesson. I knew that I wanted to get him a new drill. Just hadn't actually gone to pick it up yet. Anyway, treachery and all, the snow sure was beautiful.

Day No. 10: Untitled.

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Monday, January 28, 2008

Photo 9.

I had such grand plans for today. But several errands, an appointment with our tax accountant, lots of phone calls, grocery shopping for Winn's birthday dinner tomorrow night, transcript editing, and a couple loads of laundry later, and it was already ten o'clock at night! I hadn't even given a thought to today's photo yet. Sajak to the rescue again. I made him sit and stay on the rug in front of the fire for several "takes." What a handsome model he makes. And we're always marveling at the size of his paws (although it appears that his nails are in dire need of a clipping). Would you look at the size of those things! You should see how fast they can make dirt fly when digging for chipmunks in the summer.

Day No. 9: Digger.

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Cookie dough.

We learned this weekend that Sajak is a BIG fan of cookie dough. (But then again, who isn't!) I made a batch on Friday night, and as always, we left the eggs out of about half of it so that we could just eat the dough. Well, every time I get it out of the fridge to take some, Sajak runs into the kitchen, and if I happen to drop some on the floor "accidentally," he races over to it and gobbles it up lickety-split.

Day No. 8: Crumbsnatcher.

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Photo 7.

I think you're supposed to cover these things in the winter. But, like so many other things, it got pushed to the bottom of the list. Kind of like the pile of mail on the kitchen counter, or my homework that's due tomorrow night, or the inside of our oven, or like my dog who's in desperate need of a walk and some play time...

Day No. 7: Neglected.

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Photo 6.

Day No. 6: Snowfall.

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And a couple more shots of the beautiful snow that fell on Roch today, and Sajak enjoying it...

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Early-riser envy.

Today was the first time this week that a job didn't demand that I get up early. But I wanted to anyway. Well, it's not that I wanted to, more that I forced myself to in an effort to make a habit of it. I long to be one of those people who can just jump right out of bed in the morning. I love to sleep. Sometimes I'll have an early deposition at Mayo or a drive to an out-of-town job that will force my early-rising, but on my beloved work-at-home days, I'm left to my own devices. Like today. So I have a few tricks up my sleeve to help me in my endeavor...

{1} Have tempting breakfast foods on hand to lure you out of bed. Yummy pastries and a cup of coffee, different flavored bagels with hot tea or cider, fresh pineapple or grapes. This morning for me it was a tangerine, sausage links, and a cup of espresso. I love breakfast. Simply cannot get along without it.

{2} If possible, give yourself the option of taking a short nap in the mid-morning or afternoon. Now, I'm not much of a nap person. I usually feel tired and yuck after taking them. But if I just lie down and read for a little bit or close my eyes for a half-hour, it's a nice, relaxing time. If I know I'm going to get to take a nap in a while, it's easier to jump out of bed in the early morning (even if I don't end up taking myself up on the offer later on).

{3} Have something fun and creative on the morning's agenda so that you can be coaxed out of bed, even if it's just a short project. A homemade gift, a batch of banana bread for your neighbor, photography practice, phoning your grandma.

If you have any other suggestions for a reforming late-sleeper, I'd be glad to hear them! If you're one of those people who can just bounce out of bed in the morning all chipper, I'm rolling my eyes at you right now...

Day No. 5: Morning espresso.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Photo 4.

Seriously, how can I be expected to get any work done when there's a guitar in the corner, a piano in the next room, sewing paraphernalia downstairs, and books galore just begging me to come out and play...

Day No. 4: My friend, Mr. Fender.

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I love homemade. Like giving things homemade. Like receiving things homemade. It makes me feel all resourceful and organic and fuzzy inside. :) Plus, it's fun to create things with your hands! Baby receiving blankets are one of my favorite, and extremely easy, shower gifts to make. I've heard that babies outgrow the smaller store-bought blankets so fast, and moms usually love to have some bigger ones. So, armed with 44 inches (or 45 or whatever width of fabric it is, just so it's square) of cuddly soft cuteness from your favorite fabric shop, you too can make little receiving blankets. Just turn the sides under twice and stitch around the edges. I like to roll them up and tie them with leftover scraps of the same fabric, as I did here...

For a baby gift last week, I paired the receiving blankets with this baby bathtowel (a fabulous pattern that I got from Aunt Row, using a nice, soft towel and washcloth)...

DO try this at home!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Photo 3.

Day No. 3: Lemon anyone?

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Monday, January 21, 2008

Snowy drive.

I drove to the Cities this morning for a job, white-knuckling it the whole way because of the windy, snowy roads, only to get there and find out that the deposition would be rescheduled for another day. Hate it when that happens. But at least I had brought our espresso machine along to get it serviced in Minneapolis while I was there, so the trip wasn't a total waste.

This evening our neighbor Scott is out clearing our driveway (and everyone else's on the cul-de-sac) with his tractor. Last time it snowed our neighbor Glenn snowblowed our drive for us. We're so blessed to have such nice neighbors!

For today's photo I'm going to cheat and use one that I took last fall...

Day No. 2: Chiminea.

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Recently I got to participate with a team at church in performing this short but powerful drama called "Everything," based on a song by Lifehouse. Thank God that He's there pulling us back toward Him even after we've left His side...

Sunday, January 20, 2008

30 days of photographs.

Been having fun taking photos. I'm not so good at it yet, but I hope to learn more this year. Especially from Scott Schoeberl, the owner of Olive Juice Studios. He offers a class once in a while here in Rochester. Check out their website. Brilliant. In the meantime, I'm going to practice on you. I just have a regular point-and-shoot camera, nothing fancy. So if they don't turn out that great, let's just blame it on that. :) My goal is to post one a day for the next 30 days...

Day No. 1: Quadruplets.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

No news is good news.

Long day of depositions in Austin today. Work is finally picking up after the holidays. Went to my sister Peggy's basketball game tonight. We were late and missed seeing her play. Sorry, Peggy! I feel really bad about that.

Nothing exciting to write about, so I thought I'd post a couple of pics of the mittens that I made for Christmas stocking stuffers. I couldn't show them before in case the recipients might have happened to see them. :) It's such an easy project. you can find the pattern at this fun site: Sew, Mama, Sew!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Bucket List.

Winn and I saw Bucket List with some friends over the weekend. It's about two men with terminal cancer who create a "bucket list" (things they want to do before they kick the bucket). I just learned that Jack Nicholson (who looks more and more gnarly with each passing film) and Morgan Freeman (one of my favorite actors) were born just six weeks apart in 1937. It was fun to watch their chemistry on-screen, and some of Freeman's character's virtuous qualities did manage to rub off on Nicholson's character by the end of the show. The flick was entertaining, but I think this review that I read sums it up best: "Enjoyable for the most part and touching in others, but nothing surprising or groundbreaking."

I love John Mayer's song Say, which is featured in the soundtrack. Don't put off until tomorrow the things you need to say today.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

All is white with the world.

White carpet is great to disguise white dog hair...but it's absolutely horrible for disguising muddy paw prints when the snow is melting outside. So I'm thankful for our faithful Kirby (the shampoo-er attachment that came with it has saved us a lot of money in carpet-cleaning bills), and I'm extra thankful for a husband who cleaned the floors for me this weekend.

We had a full weekend. Dinner and a movie with friends on Friday night and lots of fun company on Saturday and Sunday. But we still took time out for our weekly date at Dunn Brothers Coffee on Saturday morning--I look forward to that time all week! Now I've just finished the last of my homework (which is due by midnight tonight) and am ready to hit the sack and rest up for another week. I'm looking forward to what it holds!

Saturday, January 12, 2008


We had one of Winn's colleagues and his wife over for dinner tonight. I decided to try some new recipes, and to my delight, they were extremely yummy (not to mention easy) dishes that I will be making again very soon. Who doesn't love a recipe (or three) that looks like you made a lot of fuss, tastes excellent, and is really easy to make and not too time-consuming?! I forgot to take pictures of everything when I finished preparing it, but luckily, I found the tantalizing photos online so you can be talked into making them yourself! (Just click on the dish titles for the recipes.)

The main dish was Spinach-Stuffed Pork Tenderloin. The celery salt, spinach, ham, and provolone inside the tenderloin produced a fantastic flavor. This really did only take about 15 minutes to prepare and another half-hour to bake. (I think the trick with this is to not overcook it.)

Asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce was one of the side dishes. This really was a tasty topping to spice up a plate of asparagus and, again, very fast and east.

And for dessert...(this was a fun one to make)...Poached Pear Surprise. The nut mixture inside the pears, combined with the chocolate, was a brilliant combination! We served this with mochas to drink.

We're having out-of-town guests here tomorrow evening as well, so now I've got to get busy planning another menu!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Not meant to be.

We took our house off the market yesterday. At first we were really bummed that the house we were going to buy was sold to someone else before we could sell ours. But the more we think about it, the more we're relieved that we don't have to pack everything up and move...even if it was only a couple miles away. We like the home and the neighborhood that we're in, and the only reason we put it up for sale in the first place was because of the opportunity to buy a place with a "country feel," a little more privacy, and lots of space for foster children (and Sajak) to run. But we're trusting that there was a good reason why we didn't get the place, even if we don't ever find out what the reason was. Maybe we would have found too many problems with the home since it was older...a crumbling foundation, water problems, rats in the attic. Maybe not. Maybe God just wanted to teach us patience. Contentment. Who knows. If there's one thing we're certain of, it's that God knows what He's doing.

So no more open houses - huge yay! - and I can put our pictures of nieces and nephews back on the refrigerator door. And besides, why would we want to give up this beautiful drive up the hill to get to our cul-de-sac?

And who would want to get rid of this incredible view anyway...

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

My non-goals of 2008.

{1} I will not strive to be Superwoman or try to impress people with my capabilities. I will simply live my best and enjoy the ride.

{2} I will not try to "have it all" (whatever all is). I will be content with the many blessings I've been given and try not to take them for granted. I will spend within my means and not fall into the keeping-up-with-the-Joneses trap.

{3} I will not attempt to keep every inch of the house clean at all times, at the expense of making time for things that really matter. Once in a while, I will leave dirty dishes in the sink, dog hair on the carpet, and (gasp) clothes on the bed. If you are a friend or neighbor just popping in for a surprise visit (please do, by the way!), I know that you won't mind.

{4} I will not expect too much of my husband. Instead, I will be his soft place to fall, his cheerleader, his helpmate. The world is hard enough on him as it is.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Back on the wagon.

Just got back from the gym. Winn and I 'like' to go in the evenings--fewer people there, easier to find parking, and we can go together that way. It was really hard to get back into the swing of working out after the holidays. Before, I was really enjoying running, but after such a long hiatus, I can hardly do three laps around the track without running out of breath. (Too many of those yummy little chewy Christmas tree candies--love those!) Now I'm enjoying a Braeburn apple, feelin' all healthy. I have to say that Braeburn is one of my very favorite of the apple varieties (second only to Honey Crisp). Fuji is up there too. And you know what they say: an apple a day... I wish it was "a DrPepper a day" instead, or a bag of dill pickle chips.

Proud aunt.

My nephews Grayden (5th grade) and Benjamin (2nd grade) both took first place at their spelling bee last week. They go to state in February (Iowa). Way to go, boys!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Gingerbread village.

One of the fun activities over Christmas in Iowa with our nieces and nephews...

Aprons from Grandma...

Such cute little artists, don't you think?

Glue gun to the rescue! Who really ever eats those houses anyway...

"Children will not remember you for the material things you provided but for the feeling that you cherished them." - Richard L. Evans

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Packed away.

I'm back from my blogging solstice. Just didn't feel too much like sitting at the computer over the holidays (have to do that enough for work). In my spare moments I only wanted to drink hot tea and apple cider on the couch with a warm blanket and my new book series, a Christmas gift from my sister-in-law Kim. Now that all the programs, travel, and hubbub is behind us (at least until next year), the normalcy is nice. The crowd-free stores are nice too. Our Christmas was were simple, many homemade. I think we will go that route again next year. So nice to concentrate on the things that really matter. The time with family was precious (more photos of that later), especially the late-night chats and card games with my sisters and their hubbies. I love those gals. They are amazing mothers, friends, people. I am blessed to have them in my life.

Today we took the Christmas tree down and packed up the lights and other decorations. The house looks a bit bare. I think I'll leave our wreath on the front door for a while...