Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Home For Christmas (Almost Only in Our Dreams)

[Allow me to start by saying that I got about 4.5 hours of sleep last night; that might be plenty of sleep for the Energizer Bunny ever-ebullient Katie, but I assure you it is not enough for this redhead. So forgive me any and all errors; I'm sure there will be plenty. But this post has been bouncing around for days and if I don't get it out now it will be the new year (2009! OMG!) and then I never will (and I know at least two kind people want to read it). :) SO. On with the post.]

The Sunday before Christmas Jason and I loaded our bags into the car and headed off to the airport, bound for Portland, Oregon (PDX). As I mentioned in a previous post, it almost never snows at Christmas in Oregon. The few times I remember having a "White Christmas" when I was growing up it was either a dusting or just a few flakes that us kids used to be far too excited about. So although Jason and I heard, from family members as well as actual certified meteorologists, that it was snowing in Oregon--and was going to keep snowing--somehow it didn't quite really sink in. I still planned to pick up Starbucks gift cards at Costco and run a few errands. Saturday Market and Powell's (City of Books--OMG it's heaven) were still not entirely out of the question in my mind.

When we landed in Salt Lake City, they immediately informed us that our flight to PDX was cancelled and we were rescheduled the next morning. They gave us our boarding passes and (upon my request) a hotel voucher. Having never been in this situation before, I asked about our bags. The kind but obviously stupid customer service rep told us that we could pick up our bags in baggage claim, and if we didn't claim them they'd be forwarded to PDX the next morning with our flight. This didn't make a whole lot of sense to us, but we made our way to baggage claim anyway. Obviously, our bags never arrived. The line for the Delta Baggage Office was about 40 people long and there appeared to be one person working. By this point it was around 8 p.m. SLC time, which meant 10 p.m. East Coast time, which meant we were starving. [Usually I'm better about planning our eating schedules but I was fairly crazed and was lucky just to get my bags packed in time to get to the airport--I literally mailed out my last etsy orders on the way to the airport.] So we opted to head for the hotel and grab some dinner, since I had a contact case and lens solution in my carry-on (thank God!).


We actually made the most of our short time in SLC; our hotel gave us a shuttle ride over to another hotel that had a good restaurant, we ate and talked with another couple stuck for the night, and our Bosnian restaurant manager was delightful and very generous with his pours of wine. We heard that a big snowstorm was supposed to be blowing in around 2 a.m., so with hearts and minds full of dread we slept a few hours and were pleased to discover no new snow when we woke up! So we caught the hotel shuttle back to the airport.

Luckily we had our boarding passes, and since we only had our carry-ons we skipped the Delta counter and went straight through security towards our gate. There we realized how lucky we were to have boarding passes; the airport was full of people sleeping on every possible horizontal surface, not because they couldn't afford a hotel, but because they were afraid if they left the terminal without boarding passes they'd never get put on a flight! OUCH!

The Pilot came out a few times and warned us of the weather in Portland, so when they started boarding us just a few minutes late we were all excited and pretty hopeful. By this point Jason has missed his ski day with his cousins and I'd missed my PDX day, which was a bummer, but we were both excited to just get home to Portland.

So it didn't bother us too much when they delayed our takeoff for a half-hour--it was early, after all, let's give the PDX airport guys time to clean up the runway, right? And then another half-hour slipped by fairly quickly, filled with reading and short dozes moments of drifting off into some weird kind of half-sleep. :) By the time they announced the third half-hour delay, most of us were just praying we'd get to Portland, especially when the snowflakes started to fall and we all had visions of being stuck in SLC through Christmas! So when they announced takeoff after 90 minutes of waiting, we were all pretty stoked! We sent our last-minute texts/tweets and made our last-minute phone calls to the people coming to pick us up and then we were in the air. Woo hoo!!


We settled in for the quick two-hour flight and breathed a collective sigh of relief as the plane started to descend over Portland. And then we collectively gasped slightly when we started to ascend again. Huh? The Pilot came on and announced that Portland's long runway was totally icy and wouldn't be cleared for two hours (which makes me wonder why the heck we were ever cleared for takeoff in the first dang place), and the short runways were too short for our plane, so up we went to Seattle. GAH.

Obviously everyone figured we'd head up to Seattle, wait around for two more hours (or an hour and a half by the time we got there), and then head into Portland on a freshly-cleared runway. Right? Doesn't that make sense?

Nearly upon touchdown in Seattle the Pilot jumped back on the horn to say that the plane was heading back to SLC. We could get off in Seattle if we wanted, but the crew and all of our luggage was heading back to SLC. Further, we would be responsible for our own transportation from Seattle; they weren't going to book us through to Portland. And, we had about two minutes to decide what we were doing, because they were refueling and heading straight back.

Oh. My. STINKIN'. HECK!!!

Decisions, decisions! All of us were immediately on our cell phones--Jason and I were actually each on our phones to different people, which struck me as comical even at the time. Everyone on the plane was trying to figure out if there were any busses or trains running, if small chartered planes could get into the shorter runways at PDX, or if rental car places had any 4-wheel drives still available--all this in about two minutes! Meanwhile we're remembering the snowstorm blowing into SLC even as we sat on the runway and imagining being stuck there for Christmas, and of course wondering if we'd ever see our luggage again if we let it go back to SLC without us! [Especially since I had only two weeks previously laughed by ass butt off at this blog post from comedian Eugene Mirman about his luggage which Delta--the very airline now responsible for our luggage--lost. I spent most of our vacation trying to not think about his post. Which is hilarious, by the way, and you should check it out.]


Jason was on the phone to my Dad, who was at the PDX airport waiting to pick us up, and he told us to call my Mom. I'm unsure of the details but somehow she'd found out that her doctor's son (she's a nurse, she and Dr. Ellerbrook have worked together for almost as long as I can remember) was driving from Portland up to Seattle to pick up his father-in-law, who also was being re-routed to Seattle. So we got Jon's phone number and Jason called him to make sure he'd have room for us. We even managed a moment of levity when Jason said, "Oh, yeah, what about our stuff?" and I said, "Uh, babe, we won't have any stuff!" :) "Oh. Yeah!" :)

So the decision was made. About 75% of the people on the plane ended up getting off anyway, despite not getting any luggage and being unsure of how they'd get to Portland. (Further proof Seattle is a zillion times better than SLC, ha!) I don't understand why we couldn't have our luggage, or why we couldn't just hang out in Seattle for a bit, but at this point whatever, right? At least we were within driving distance of PDX, we had a plan, and at the very least (if Jon couldn't make it up), I know a ton of people in Seattle and I could start calling everyone I know to see who was still in town. :)

We had a crapload of several hours to kill in SeaTac (Seattle-Tacoma) airport before Jon arrived (he hadn't even left yet for what is normally a 3+ hour drive in perfect conditions and we all had no idea how long it would take in the ice and snow). So we did the best possible thing in these types of situations: first I cried a bit, and then we found a bar. Luckily we didn't have to go too far, it was just across from the gate we flew into. :) We ordered lunch and two big beers. A suitable time passed and we ordered another round (although I switched to wine since they were out of dark beer--another painful sacrifice due to the weather :)). We sat and made lists of all the good things that happened in 2008 and all our goals for 2009, although truth be told we were feeling pretty sleep-deprived and torqued-off and pitiful not to mention buzzed, so our lists were more hilarious than real (especially the 2009 goals--topping the list was "NO F***ING SNOW"). (Ha!) But it helped us pass the time. :)


Eventually Jon called to say he was arriving, and he really made remarkable time! So good, in fact, that his father-in-law hadn't even arrived yet! But since he was there he swooped us up in his Subaru all-wheel drive; it was remarkably easy to meet him, since I've heard things about him most of my life and he looks incredibly like his dad, so it was sort of like I already knew him a bit. He took us to another tavern near the airport to eat, since it was now dinner time. It was so nice to be out of the airport and it was also nice to not pay crazy airport prices! We ate and got to know each other and killed more time and pretty soon his father-in-law called and we headed back to the airport, and then soon--about 8 p.m.--were on our way back to Portland!

I am ashamed to say that in the cozy luxury of the back seat of the Subaru, safely on our way home with most of our worries past and our stomachs full of food and beer, Jason and I fell asleep almost immediately. I woke up about an hour outside of Portland and I think Jason woke up when we were almost in Portland; needless to say we didn't make the best travel companions, although maybe Jon was thankful for the peace and quiet. :)

The worst part of the entire drive was the distance from southern Portland through my parents' exit on the freeway (about 20 miles of pure ice with huge berms in the road). Luckily my parents were able to drive up part way to get us so poor Jon didn't have to drive us all the way down--we're sooooo thankful to him anyway, we were calling him our Knight in Shining Subaru, ha ha! :)

So we arrived at my parents' and fell into bed. The rest of our remaining visit was wonderful and fairly uneventful, at least in comparison, and I will post photos later this week/weekend of all the fun. But the good news is that we were able to get to a store to restock on essentials--I even found a pair of jeans that sufficed!--and we had a renewed sense of what was truly important about the holiday and our visit. Jason and I handled everything well and were a great team, we had a great visit with most of our family (except my sister's family who couldn't make it down from Spokane, which is a major bummer, and I'll work hard to see them soon!), and (thanks to my parents driving up to PDX on Christmas!) we even got our luggage back before we flew home (only by about ten hours due to our schedule at Jason's family's house, but still, what a relief!).

On that note, I will close out my last post for 2008. Tomorrow will be exciting, with a post about my One Word for 2009 and a special necklace offer!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Favorite {Photo} Friday! #28--Christmas in Prague

Happy Friday! :)

In 2005 Jason and I flew to Prague for Christmas. Cousin Steve is married to Katka, who's from Prague. They spend Christmas there on odd-numbered years, and since we were in Italy we flew up to see Prague and spend some time with Steve, Katka, and Katka's awesome family.



Steve showed us all over Prague and beyond. We took the train to a town where they make crystal to get it at rock-bottom prices; we saw a church decorated with thousands of bones; we visited Katka's grandma in a gorgous old town with an amazing Christmas market. We ate amazing food and drank amazing (and cheap) beer. Prague is one of my favorite cities in the world.

I'll tell you more about it but for now everyone's ready and we're headed off to the Ladies' Tea at Aunt Dee's. Hooray! Happy Day After Christmas, everyone!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

From Oregon With Love...

We had quite an ordeal getting here, which I'll write about later when I have more time. But today I went to Burgerville, so now all is right with the world (mostly, anyway). As if I didn't already love them enough, when I ordered my Chocolate Hazelnut milkshake it came in this awesome cup.


I love it! I think I'll use most of these sayings in my jewelry. Maybe I'll make a special "Burgerville Line." Ha! But I really love this cup and these sayings and that makes me love Burgerville even more. Which I didn't think was possible.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Create a Memory, Inspire Hope.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Favorite {Photo} Friday! #27

Holy stinkin' heck it's Friday!

I've mentioned before (all the way back in my very first Favorite {Photo} Friday post) that I really love this hat.


And I do. I adore it. I also love this photo and how the snow is piled up on top of my hat. I love how my cheeks get rosy out in the cold--I think I am a cold weather person, I'm much cuter in the cold than sweating in heat and humidity, blech!. :)

And I've also mentioned (very recently) that I love this coat.


Tomorrow I will be packing both of them as we head off on Sunday for the snowy wonderland that is... Oregon. What the heck? Oregon is not exactly the White Christmas capital so it will be weird to arrive there into snow. But I will be loving my cold-weather gear. :)

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I am making the COOLEST things lately, but they are Christmas presents so I don't want to show them yet! (Bummer!) I hope everything will be well received. And I'm taking photos so I can post them after all the gift-giving is over. :)

Last night I headed back to the super-cool knitting group I stumbled upon last week and they were just as cool this week. I mentioned that I wasn't sure if the person I was making a gift for would like it or not, one lady said, "Well, if not, bring it back here because I want it!" and another lady interrupted her to say, "You'll have to fight me for it!" Hooray! That's always a good sign, right? :) (I was not knitting, but no one seemed to mind at all.) :)

I had a hair appointment yesterday and we went with a darker red this time to help account for fading (it's a much longer story but who cares?). I love it--I also had all kinds of crazy shades of red in Italy where it's no big deal to have burgundy or fuschia hair. But someone today asked me, "Did you dye your hair darker? I really like the other shade you used to have, it really looked good on you." HA HA. Oh, Lordy. Good thing I am too tired and busy with my mile-long To Do list to worry about that right now, ha ha!

TONS to do in the next day and a half. TONS. I was originally joking when I mentioned that I might have to give my family IOU notes instead of Christmas presents but the closer we get the more realistic that's becoming! Oh, heavens. Wish me luck!

Have a great weekend, everyone! Stay safe out there in the insanity of the last weekend before Christmas!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Zoom Zoom Zoom...

I have a friend, Chuck, who hates those old "Zoom-zoom" commercials. That little kid saying "Zoom-zoom" in a kind of whisper used to just set him right on edge. We could all freak poor Chuck the heck out by whispering, "Zoom-zoom" anywhere within his hearing. Anyone even remember which car company those were for? Oh, my trusty Google has revealed it was Mazda, and poor Chuck was not the only Anti-Zoom-Zoom. Those comments are pretty hilarious!

ANYway. Yes. Zoom-zoom-zoom indeed.

I am sort of almost getting a handle on all the custom orders. Today (for part of the day) I sat in my pajamas and hammered 13 rings for my Circle of Love necklaces while watching my DVR'ed episodes of CSI Miami and that pretty much rocked. Relaxation (pajamas) + accomplishing something (hammering rings) + relaxation (watching CSI Miami) + accomplishing something (clearing out the DVR) = super happy Cameron.

I also discovered how many people have named things "Circle of Love" on etsy and it made me want to change the name of my necklaces.

I've been thinking of random things and wanting to blog but we've been in-and-out (mostly out) of internet for the past day+. The super-smart Jason has almost figured it out and so we have internet on two or three (out of four, including John's laptop) computers. And I am super happy about that. 28 hours without internet meant I had 60 something unread messages when I logged back in (not even counting the spam). I am much better at the check-and-delete-often method when it comes to keeping up on the internet; any backlog freaks me out.

ANYway. Here are some random things/thoughts/feelings/emotions/whatever. After reading all my old random Myspace blogs that documented our transition from Italy to America and military to civilian I was really glad I wrote about those random things--the things that made me happy, annoyed, etc, on a daily basis. So here we go again. :)

After dropping my packages at the post office today I swung by Starbucks, thinking I could use their Wi-Fi to catch up on a few things. I am a dummy because I never had a laptop before and didn't know that you have to have an AT&T or T-Mobile membership or pre-paid pass to get to it. Of course I didn't discover that until after I'd already ordered a Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate (SCHC) and settled into a comfy chair in the corner. The SCHC was okay as far as hot chocolate goes but not nearly as good as I'd thought it would be, and the $4+ I spent on it made me really glad I make my own espresso (cappuccinos, lattes, etc) at home. And you can, too--just buy one of these. (I also learned that Panera, Chick-Fil-A, and McDonald's all have free Wi-Fi. Take that, Starbucks!)

Katie called the other day and I wasn't here but she talked to Jason. They had an ice storm and are out of power and water and a tree had fallen across their long driveway, trapping them. Obviously I want to buy her a chainsaw for Christmas. Helloooooo, Katie? My friends must not be trapped. Give me a heart attack, why don't you? This is Mama Bear you're talking to!

Jen finally signed up for Inspired and I am SO FLIPPIN' BLOODY STINKIN' EXCITED I can barely stand it. I was ready to fly down to Georgia to drag her there myself. Thank you, Brett, Hater of Asparagus, for Jen's multi-occasion present! As if I could adore her any more, she went and posted this. I have no idea why but talk about making my DAY! :)

I adore Trader Joe's and their spectacular selection of super-cheap but super-good wine (not to mention their make-it-quickly foods that don't have high-fructose corn syrup). For real. They have Italian wine practically at prices we actually paid in Italy for them. It is amazing. All of their food is amazing! Yummy and healthy and amazing.


I delivered eight pearl necklaces to bride-to-be Sarah on Monday... she loved them so I'm thrilled! (Especially because I spent many hours on Friday and Saturday driving around to every bead store in a 50-mile radius to buy enough pearls!) She actually chose to have an all-pearl version rather than the Swarovski crystals shown here, but you get the basic idea. I made them 17" with a 2" chain extender; I wore this one tonight over a turtleneck sweater. I ended up liking it so much that I just might make it a normal listing in my etsy shop.

I went to book club last night as the leader of this month's selection, having read only 12 pages of the book. LORDY. Granted, I have read the book (The World According to Garp) before, but still. This is soooooo unlike me; hence, it's a good indication of how crazy things have been lately.

I really, really hate those Whopper Virgin ads from Burger King. They're so disturbing. Leave those people alone and stop poisoning them with that junk.

If I Were President I would enact a law that everyone who drives Mini Coopers, scooters, and motorcycles would be required to park in the back half of parking spots so everyone doesn't get excited about an open spot and start to turn in only to realize there is something already there that is just very tiny and then you have to do a weird movement with your car to stop turning in and it's just very awkward. If you drive a tiny vehicle it actually makes more sense to park in the back because eventually one of those people excited to find a spot who starts pulling in will just not stop in time (probably because they will be talking on their cell phone at the time) and will smoosh your cute little car or scooter. And that would be sad. So park wisely! :)

I love Abreva, even though it costs $17 for the tiniest tube of anything you've ever seen in your life. It works miracles. I also love Burt's Bees' Medicated Lip Balm with Clove Oil. It smells yummy, too!

I've been eating a lot of ruby red grapefruits because my awesome aunt Susan always orders them for us from Texas from Red Cooper. They are super sweet and so good! I really hate how your hands get gross when peeling citrus fruits (what is that, anyway?) but these grapefruit are totally worth it.

Okay, that's way too much all for now!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Favorite {Photo} Friday #26

Lately my Favorite {Photo} Friday posts have been more like Favorite {Photo and Story} Friday, but tonight I've just got a few minutes so we'll switch it up and be long on photos and short on chatter. :)

For Thanksgiving weekend in 2005 Jason and I headed up to Lake Bled, Slovenia with my church group. While we were there it started to snow.


Here you can see a few little flakes, it just started to snow while we were out for a walk. By the way, two things: first, I adore the coat I'm wearing in this photo. I bought it in South Korea in January 2004 when it was freezing cold. I almost didn't buy it because it was like $65, which seems like a LOT when everything else there cost like $5. It may be the best $65 I ever spent, I love it. Second, looking at this photo just now reminded me of something. Jason had just given me diamond earrings for my birthday that year (and also as a sort of "Thank God we made it through Korea" present, ha ha!) and they have the screw-backs. I was in the habit of checking them every so often, much like a newly engaged woman looks at her ring constantly. :) We got back to the room to change for dinner and when I felt my earrings, the back of one was gone. I was so shocked that I had to go check in the mirror. With all the times I'd taken my scarf on and off, I still can't believe that the back of my earring came off but the earring stayed in my ear! Whew! I totally forgot about that until just now.

Anyway, it kept snowing and snowing, and after dinner a bunch of the group went outside for a snowball fight while my girlfriends and I stayed warm and dry and fortified with Irish Coffees in the bar. Overnight it kept snowing and snowing and snowing more. When we went for the same walk we'd gone on the day before we saw things slightly differently!


Care to sit down on a bench by the lake? :P

Here is a great comparison. The first photo is from November 26, 3:49 p.m.


The next photo is from November 27, 3:00 p.m. What a difference a day makes!


Have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

WHOA!

So much I could say, but it is all covered by this:


OMG!!!!

I've been working my tail off on custom orders and prepping for two "shows" held yesterday at two different salons. Basically that meant that I made as many premade things as I could (hence the lack of blog posts lately!) and then brought everything into salons for the employees to see (and hopefully buy!). I sold a bunch and took some custom orders, too! Hooray!

Then since I already had everything with me, when I went to my physical therapist's office (to pay a bill) and my chiropractor's office (for an adjustment) I took in my jewelry and asked if they'd like to see what I've been working on. More sales and orders, hooray!

Today I hammered and hammered and hammered some more and finished up the custom orders for delivery this afternoon. When I showed up at the salon, I found out that all of the employees who'd bought items yesterday had been talking me up to their clients! One lady was even there waiting for me, and crossed eight names off her Christmas list--and thanked me for making her shopping so easy! Another woman with foils on came to check everything out and asked if I could make eight pearl necklaces for her wedding next week! A stylist rolled the little cart over to her station so her client could look at what I had while her hair was being blow-dried!

Then I drove to the other salon to drop off one custom order; it was pouring rain and I had to take the freeway during rush hour. Double ugh! But Ashley loved what I'd made, so that made it all worth it. Then just as I was about to go I decided to ask two of the other employees if they were interested in jewelry and if they'd like to see what I made; "no pressure, but since I'm here anyway I thought I'd ask...." One of them placed a custom order and as she was deciding what she wanted I was chatting and telling them about the woman at the other salon who had her Christmas list out and checked off names. And I could see a lightbulb go on and Ashley's eyes lit up; she ordered four more matching necklaces for her circle of friends, each with a different word! What I thought was a simple delivery of one necklace turned into five more custom orders!

I left the salon walking on clouds and as I was headed to my car I noticed a needlework shop. I haven't crocheted in a while but I always like to see what pretty yarns and threads and things they have, and I thought that there might be ladies working there who would be interested in seeing my jewelry. NUTS, right? Just walking up to strangers and asking them if they're interested in buying what I'm selling? Mamma mia!

So I bravely walk into the store, reminding myself that I'm nice and the worst anyone would say is, "No thanks, not interested." :) But I immediately hear laughter coming from the back, and as I come around a display I notice it's a knitting group! The employee (who I later found out is one of the owners) starts to get up and I tell her to stay where she is, I'm just browsing, and she invites me over to sit down and have a glass of wine! All the ladies were so fun and were handing me cookies and treats right and left, and as soon as I mentioned that I was in the area dropping off some jewelry they all wanted to see what I had! More sales and another custom order! The owners want me to make some stitch markers to sell in the store! Two of the women mentioned different women's groups that would be interested in having me as a speaker in the spring to talk about my business and have a display/sales table of my work!

Are ya' freakin' kiddin' me?!?!

I'm going back next week with some yarn and a crochet hook, and they made sure to remind me to bring my jewelry back with me, too!

I'm incredibly excited, obviously. :) I still have more custom orders to complete so I'll be busy all this weekend. I have a mile-long To Do list and the only thing on there that gets crossed out--and then rewritten, crossed-out, rewritten, crossed-out--is "finish and deliver custom orders"! I still have photos waiting to be edited and uploaded to Etsy. My house is a disaster. I'm two weeks late sending a package to my swap partner, Angelique. And I'm just crossing my fingers that my friends and family won't mind getting our Christmas card & letter in January, and that my family will be understanding when they open up their Christmas presents to find IOUs inside! :P

Friday, December 5, 2008

Favorite {Photo} Friday #25

Hooray, it's Friday! I can't believe I've been doing this for 25 weeks already. Almost half a year, and it's gone so quickly!

As cousin Ingrid reminded me, tomorrow is Saint Nicholas Day. I'm not Catholic (although my friend Deb calls Lutherans "Catholic Lites," ha ha! Okay, maybe that's a joke only Lutherans get. Haha! Okay, I'm done now. Sorry. :)) ANYway. Since I'm not Catholic the saints' days usually don't pop up on my radar. But a couple of years ago we happened to be in Salzburg, Austria on this weekend and we were introduced to a rather shocking tradition!

It seems that in Austria and Bavaria they have Krampus. On December 6 (St. Nicholas Day), if you've been a good child then St. Nicholas will bring you treats, but if you've been bad then Krampus will come and beat you. I'm not kidding. This is what they tell their children!

Jason and I discovered this as we wandered through the stalls of the Christmas Market and I asked several nice Austrians why they were selling candy and cookies decorated with faces that looked like a devil. I'm still not kidding.

To reinforce this lovely little tale, on the evening of December 5th (or the preceding weekend, it seems, since it happened on December 2nd in 2006), people dress up as Krampus and run through the streets carrying clubs and chains and try to scare the ever-living crap daylights out of people--especially children. I swear, I'm still not kidding. Really.

I was--as I'm sure you can imagine!--incredibly intrigued, and also slightly frightened. I wanted to witness this cultural spectacle, but I also wasn't crazy about the idea of costumed, weapons-wielding strangers trying to frighten me. Just the idea was enough, if you're like me and have an active imagination and a history of forensic novels under your belt. :)

And suddenly, there they were! We heard the bells clanging and the chains dragging and everything echoing off the cobblestones and then BAM, there's the freakshow parade! It all happened so quickly but out of the corner of my eye I saw one duck into a bar. So I ran over and he was already on the way back out--I snapped a photo just in time! And then I ran away quick-quick-quickly!


Okay, truly, isn't this frightening? It's hard to tell in the photo but he's in the mid 6-foot range. Tall. And in this getup? With real animal hair & fur? The only way to tell he's human is the hands! He looks a lot less scary surrounded by sunny yellow walls, but imagine coming upon this in the dark outside? It was crazy! Can you imagine being an Austrian child learning about Krampus? It turns out that Krampus has many names in many different cultures, all mentioned here. I would much rather grow up in Brad and Ingrid's house, where St. Nicholas delivers candy and tangerines into your shoes! :)

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When Ingrid reminded me of St. Nicholas Day I remembered this photo and I also remembered having written about it before. So I went on a hunt, thinking I could pull the old copy-and-paste trick (which didn't work this time, by the way), and my first stop was MySpace, where I did a little "practice" blog before I started this one (although when I was writing in MySpace I had no inclination of a "real" blog, it was just a way to keep in touch with a ton of my friends & family at once). As I remembered, I'd blogged just a little bit every now and then. But as it actually turns out, I blogged there all the freakin' time. There were posts on there I'd completely forgotten about ever having written! It is freaky, actually. I documented a lot of the transition from Italy back to the States, military to civilian. And I'm totally glad I did, but it was pretty surreal reading it all! So I might post a couple of those in the coming weeks just for fun!

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My vacuum cleaner is dying, and it's making me nuts. It's over ten years old and it spent 3.5 years in an Italian attic, so it's not a huge surprise; but having a half-sucking vacuum really, well, you know, sucks. I joked with Jason about asking for one for Christmas but of course that is just someplace you don't go, right? Besides being a lame gift, it's just too cliché. But if your husband has ever given you a vacuum cleaner for Christmas, or any lame gift at any time, then you should go check out this video here. Pretty funny stuff! Thanks to Kim for the link. :)

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I've been working to fulfill a ton of custom orders, which is awesome! But it's hard to upload stuff to etsy (despite my many promises to do so) when I'm working so hard on fulfilling these orders! I got a lot done and had a lot of fun today stamping with my new shipment of sterling silver shapes, but poor Jason is getting sick and came home early from work and fell into bed, so my hammering was at a standstill. I managed to take halfway decent photos of two new designs, which I'll upload to etsy tomorrow.


This ring is 1" diameter, hand-stamped with the word "Breathe" and finished in brushed-matte. The dangle is a hand-made (not by me) torchwork borosilicate bead that is gorgeous. The predominate color is a relaxing green but there are also blues and yellows (borosilicate is what Pyrex is made out of; it is very hard to work with because it requires such high temperatures, but it's much stronger than normal glass). I used a very nice thick sterling silver chain and clasp and will wear this necklace throughout December (and 2009!) to remind myself of what is important and what is not. Just breathe. I ordered this shape as a sample and now that I've fallen in love with it, naturally it's backordered. I must have one and that leaves only one left for purchase (until after Christmas!). I can stamp it exactly like this one, or with whatever word you want. The price is $52, $3 for shipping. First-come, first served; claim it and I'll send you a payment request! Tomorrow it will be listed on etsy for the rest of the world. :)

I also have a few of these gorgeous butterflies! I can stamp whatever words you'd like and use whichever colors of Swarovski crystals and/or freshwater pearls you like, each hand-wire-wrapped onto the chain.


I have one stamped Dream, one stamped Fly, and three blank ones waiting. The butterfly is just less than 1" wide and is finished with oxidized (black) letters and a bright silver finish. I can also finish it with a hammered silver texture or a matte silver texture for no extra charge. It's on an 18" sterling silver necklace; $32 each plus $3 shipping.

I can't wait to photograph my other designs and upload everything tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Today I...

Today I...

... threw a load of clothes down to the hallway in front of the washer and dryer, and then walked back and forth over them about six times before actually loading them into the washer.

... got my eggs almost perfect, so that just the very center of the yolks was thick but still runny.

... felt guilty wasting two whole paper towels to cook my turkey bacon in the microwave, but still did it rather than use another pan.

... laughed out loud at a joke I made in my head, and then laughed out loud at having cracked myself up.

... really need to vacuum and mop. Really.

... packed up and shipped etsy orders.

... danced a little jig when I got the shipping notice for my lastest order of sterling silver to stamp on.

... opened up my second Advent present, hooray!

... made two eggnog lattes, yummmm.

... am thinking that just buying everyone on my list Starbucks gift cards seems like a grand idea and a huge time and stress saver. :)

... figured out by accident that my order of CDs was actually cheaper if I didn't use the promo code they'd e-mailed me, which made me not want to order them after all.

... surfed the internet to find some gift ideas for my family.

... am totally overwhelmed by my To Do list.

... realized that we are almost out of bread and I didn't buy any on my trip yesterday, which means I have to make a special trip for it today.

... didn't check any pants pockets before loading things into the washer/dryer.

... am picking little shreds of paper off all the clothes from the blues/jeans load.

... wondered what that paper had originally been and whether or not Jason would miss it.

... am finding it annoying funny annoying that there are so many great sales precisely when nobody has the money to buy anything, and then when we do again there will be no more sales.

... am still totally creeped out by the phone commercial with the talking thumb-faces.

... metaphorically smacked my forehead.

... wondered if we could change our airline tickets and just fly to Italy for Christmas.

... actually pondered with whom we could stay in Italy and had a nice little daydream.

... wished for an "un-do" button.

... swallowed my miniscule pride and crossed my fingers.

... talked to three family members in one day (super unusual for me).

... folded a lot of clothes.

... listened to Christmas music in an effort to find my elusive Christmas spirit.

... watched American Chopper with Jason.

... wrote this post throughout the day.

... am heading to bed to finish my book!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Favorite {Photo} Friday! #24

It's Friday, it's Friday, it's Friday! This is very exciting but in a different way than Fridays are normally exciting. Since Jason took off work on Wednesday, had a holiday yesterday, and took a comp day today, today feels like the last day of a long and wonderful three-day weekend. Today feels like Sunday, and right now feels like Sunday night. So Jason and I keep looking at each other and giggling, saying, "It's Friday!" We have two more days in our weekend, and it feels a little bit like we are being naughty and skipping school or playing hookie or something! Hooray, it's Friday! :) And you know what that means--oh, yes, Favorite {Photo} Friday!!

But first, some background! :) I've mentioned before that Jason was stationed in South Korea for a year without me. It's kind of how the military works; volunteer for a really crappy assignment or "remote" (meaning without your spouse/family), and then you get to choose a follow-on assignment (meaning where you'll all go next). There are all kinds of other "rules" that I won't begin to bore you with (I yawned just typing this!), but suffice it to say that it's a wise idea to "volunteer" for a remote early on in one's military career. So for a myriad of reasons Jason and I decided to have him head off to Korea for a year without me so that afterwards we could go to Italy together for three years. Seems like a good trade, yes?

Now. It's Thanksgiving. A time to be thankful. Which I am (so very, very much). So all I will say is that no matter how strong your relationship is, HUSBANDS AND WIVES SHOULD NOT BE ON DIFFERENT CONTINENTS (separated by an ocean and a 16 or 17 hour time difference) FOR AN ENTIRE YEAR.

By the time we got to Italy I felt like we'd earned every second and then some of la dolce vita. I wanted to see everything and do everything and soak it all up and put that unbelievably shitty crazy year well behind us. I hungered for amazing European experiences that would make our year apart worth it.

Six months after arriving in Europe Jason and I drove five hours to Vienna, Austria for Thanksgiving weekend 2004. And there I experienced my first Christmas Market and, more importantly, my first glimpse that, "Oh thank God it may all have been worth it after all!!"


"Seriously?... No, really... seriously? I'm here??? This is all real???" That's what kept going through my mind as we approached the Adventzauber & Christkindlmarkt at Rathausplatz. Vienna's City Hall transforms into "The Magic of Advent" with a Christmas Market in the square; each of the windows has a huge number in it, like an Advent calendar. Adventzauber = Advent Magic. Christkindlmarkt = (literally) Christ Child Market or (more generally) Christmas Market. [Or if you're a fan of Talladega Nights, the Baby Jesus Market. :)]

In front of this gorgeous City Hall are dozens of great booths selling Christmas ornaments, wooden toys, gingerbread cookies, jewelry, all sorts of traditional and handmade gifts and items... and, of course, sausages and pretzels and glühwein, oh my! Glühwein is hot spiced wine and oh my stinkin' heck. It will take the chill off, let me tell you especially if you get the kind with rum added. :) There are many different flavors and you pay a deposit on a mug so as you wander the booths you're drinking glühwein out of a real mug that keeps your hands warm instead of some cheapy plastic cup that scalds you and then loses all heat within 30 seconds. What a concept.

As we explored the city we ran into smaller Christmas markets all over Vienna. And I just plain fell flat in love with Christmas markets.


How can you not fall in love with European Christmas markets? Just look at the sun glinting off those ornaments! :) During our three winters in Europe we went to many different Christmas markets (my favorites were in the Czech Republic, Prague is awesome!). And honestly, I love them so much that if I were to win the lottery I would schedule European vacations solely around the Christmas markets. Seriously.

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We had an AWESOME Thanksgiving with Susan & Bob, Will & Carol, and Patricia & David (and Cisco kitty). And then had a great visit with Andrea & Scott today. And I even got some work done today before heating up leftovers that were sent home with us (thanks, Sus!). All in all a great weekend-before-our-weekend. Are ya' kiddin'? We really get two more days? Sweeeeeeet!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Going Industrial

Hello Hello! Happy Thanksgiving! I hope everyone has a heart full of gratitude today... I know I do!

I haven't been posting a lot, and there is a very good reason for that. Orders have been coming in like crazy for customized necklaces because they just make the best darn gifts, don't they? Yes, they do! Go here to order your own! :) I was the very first client for my lovely hairstylist Cindy after she came back from maternity leave and I brought her a Circle of Love necklace with her new baby boy's name on it; within minutes I had orders for three more, and then more orders trickled in. When I went back last week they handed me a sheet of paper full of orders. Hooray!

Kellie made my first batch of fused circles for me, until I got in all my fusing supplies and could start making them myself. So I used up hers and needed to get fusing to fulfill my orders. I started fusing ten days ago. And while I conquered fusing small circles and/or thin-gauge wire, I had a little problem with making bigger, thicker rings... you know, the size I need for the Circle of Love necklaces.

So I took a break and asked Kellie a few questions and referred back to the book and tried again another day.

And more than once I wanted to throw my torch through the window.

So I took another break and pestered Kellie some more, and then I got scientific. I know the melting point of silver. I know how hot the butane torch gets (or is supposed to, anyway). I went on a trek to find higher-grade butane. I experimented with different levels of gas flow and oxygen mixture. I experimented with different heights and different speeds to ensure I was getting the ring as hot as I possibly could (which is fairly easy to tell since it glows orange!). I experimented using both my fusing torch AND my crème brûlée torch at the same time.

And the only fusing that occured was when I accidentally (in my frustrated state) set the base of my butane torch on my firebrick for a second, and the plastic melted instantly.

For real.

So I cried and bitched and whined and complained to Kellie, who was just as perplexed as I was. We went through everything I'd tried and she was baffled. Which made me feel better, but still didn't help much in figuring out the problem! The good thing is that we know each other so well that she didn't just write me off, she knows I'm a perfectionist so believed me when I told her everything I was doing. So she suggested I write to Liz, the author of the book. And I did, explaining everything, and she was baffled, too! She was incredibly nice and even offered to have a one-on-one with me to figure it out; of course the problem is that she's in Seattle with Kellie, and I'm clear over here in Northern Virginia. Boo!

Enter Jason, the grease-monkey, garage-junky, engineer. "Propane!" he says. "No!" I say, "Everyone else can do it with butane torches, I must be able to, too! Propane is much too hot! It's dangerous!"

Meanwhile, I'm getting more and more orders. Which is so awesome! But, ummm, there is a small supply problem here. I'm getting increasingly frustrated with my inability to fuse the exact size rings I need (although I had no problem with anything else), I'm more and more confused about what the problem is, and I'm more and more worried about getting my orders completed in a timely manner. I wasn't getting anything else done because the #1 thing on my To Do list had taken over my brain and I spent way too much friggin' time experimenting with different techniques, researching on the internet, signing up for online jewelry-making forums and asking questions, etc.

And still, no fusing is happening.

"Ummm, J? Maybe I should try propane?"

So off to the hardware store we went. We're lucky to have an old-fashioned True Value in our neighborhood, the kind where every inch of available space is filled with dusty bits and pieces and parts and tools and things you didn't even know existed, and the employees actually know where stuff is in the store and are happy to help you. A very cute young lady offered to help and led us to the torch section after I explained my needs. She showed us all of the options and said, "This wouldn't have the fine point that you're probably used to using for this type of work..." and I believe my exact words were, "I don't even care, at this point I just want to melt some shit."

After he finished laughing, Jason helped me set up a station in the garage, and with a nervous and hopeful heart, I set at the first ring.


There is a sheet of stainless steel underneath and then two firebricks on top, and a fire extinguisher nearby. I wasn't messing around. I adjusted the flame a bit and then started heating up the ring.


And then, it happened. That magical moment with the silver starts to melt and looks "flowy," that state I had never reached with the butane torch!


See at the bottom of the ring there's a bright yellow bit? That's where the joint was, until my propane-wielding self fused that shit together it and turned it into an unbroken circle.

Oh, happy happy day! Oh joy of joys! Hallelujah and praise Jesus! At that moment a huge weight started lifting off of me, and it just kept lifting as throughout the day yesterday I formed more rings, fused them, and then filed, flattened, hammered, tumbled, and polished them.

I must admit that it made me feel like quite the Bad-Ass Artist to fuse with propane in the garage and then hammer hammer hammer away and end up with a gorgeous pile of silver rings out of what had been a spool of silver wire.


So we are back in business around here. The best part is that once I got going, the anxiety-fog that had clouded my brain lifted and a deluge of design ideas flooded in. Oh, I am so, so stoked! Now I can finish up my orders, upload more to my etsy, and work on bringing my new design ideas to life. After I eat a ton of turkey with Aunt Susan, Uncle Bob, and gang, that is. ;)

Today is a very special day because it is Katie's birthday!!!


Happy, happy birthday, my dear friend! I am so happy that we both took the very last mini-workshop at Inspired, that there happened to be a seat open next to you when I came in late, that there was a crazy lady who made us giggle and snort and started our amazing friendship! You are one of my very best friends and I'm so thankful to have you in my life! [In case it's not clear how much I adore her, click here.] The photo is one she took during her quick visit to D.C. on the Fourth of July. It rained, obviously. That didn't dampen our enthusiasm, obviously. :) Happy Birthday, Katie!!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone here in America! I have a lot to be thankful for, and I hope you do, too!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Favorite {Photo} Friday! #23

It's Friday! Wait, where did the week go?


I took this picture with the brand-new DSLR camera body that Jason gave me for our anniversary in March of 2006. I've always loved driving past orchards. They are so neat and straight and when you're driving past you can look in so many different directions and see straight lines leading away from you like so many paths you could follow. Jason and I were spending the weekend up the the far northeastern corner of Italy and over into Slovenia and I made him pull over so I could take a picture. Lately the trees in the back of our house have been so beautiful to me (especially when I am sitting in a hot bubble bath looking out the window!) so I just had to choose a tree photo today.

I've been working on photographing all of my latest jewelry creations, editing photos, writing descriptions, and getting them up on my etsy. And let me tell you, all that is not nearly as fun as making stuff. So I'm getting increasingly less picky about my photos and descriptions the more of them I do, 'cause I just want to get back to creating! :)

I got a lovely phone call from the lovely and practically phone-phobic Katie last night, and that just made my week. With me practically falling asleep and her coughing up a lung we were quite a pair but it didn't even matter because it was just great to talk to her. Thanks for calling, Katie!

A few more of my friends have signed up for Inspired which just rocks my world! There are only 3 spots left so come on already, Jen. :)

I am really panicking because I don't have a single good photo of Jason and I from this entire freaking year to use for a Christmas card. I mean, seriously. In the whole year. That is pathetic. So that's moving to the top of the To Do list, but you know how well that usually works out... the pressure-is-on-to-get-a-super-great-shot, forced-smile-I'm-sick-of-pictures-already photo shoot? Sweet. :P

Tomorrow I'm driving up to see Claudine demo her new line of products from one of my favorite companies, Ranger. Fun! Then I might try to drag Kerry to Barrel Oak Winery to try their just-bottled-today Chocolate Lab (they're big on dogs and this wine is actually fermented with cocoa nibs, hence the name). Wine with chocolate in it? Uh, that's a no-brainer. Yes, please!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

HOLY MOLY!

Things are nuts around here, and I mean kookoo for cocoa puffs! I met Jason at an appointment tonight and on the way home I was following him down a twisty back road when suddenly--on a straight stretch, no less--the truck he was following veered off the road and slammed into a tree. Of course we slammed on the brakes, threw on the hazard lights, and were out on the road (cell phones in hand) almost immediately. I was so happy when the guy climbed out of his truck and was okay! But there was the small matter of half a friggin' tree in the road. I totally felt my Oregon roots because I immediately asked Jason, "You have a saw in the back of the truck?" As it turned out he didn't, but what we did have was a truckload of awesome Latino guys who baled out of their rigs and helped Jason and the driver, Joe, get the tree out of the way and then get the truck out of the ditch. Then Jason helped Joe torque his bumper back out of the way of his right front tire and we were on our way. Crazy, man. Today I am grateful for: people who stop to help strangers, for truckloads of workers in the right places at the right times, and that Jason and I haven't slammed into any trees. Oh my stinkin' heck.

After all that excitement I called out for pizza, 'cause really, I should have to cook after that? :P (Okay, I was planning to call for pizza anyway.) :) When I went to pick up the pizza and had to wait a few minutes, two of the people eating dinner started spontaneously telling me about their divorce stories. I am not even making this up. One lady said that she found out her husband was cheating on her when she fell asleep early one night and woke up to her husband doing it with her sister. In the bed she was sleeping in. What the bleep? Number one, that is just too ridiculous to believe, which means it's probably true. Number two, Lady, I don't even know you, I'm just here to get my pizza. For Pete's sake! I told you it's kookoo for cocoa puffs around here! Today I'm grateful for: a life that does not in any way resemble an episode of Jerry Springer.

I'm still working on my photos and wording for etsy... it's all that's on the books for tomorrow and Friday (besides making eight custom necklaces that the ladies at my salon ordered, woop-woop!), so I should get a fair amount listed. For now, here's a little cutie that I love:


I photo'd it in my hand to show the scale. Note to self: apply hand-lotion before you take any more shots like this, Dude. Seriously. Anyway, it's a cute little sterling silver heart that I stamped with the word "LOVE" and then hand-oxidized and polished to show the details. The wire-wrapped drop is Swarovski crystal and the necklace is 18" sterling silver. It's $22 and I have exactly one on hand until I get my next supply order in. So if you want it post a comment claiming it and we'll arrange payment, otherwise I'll list it on etsy tomorrow or Friday!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Finding My Voice

Ciao Tutti! (Hello, everyone!) I've had a few worried e-mails arrive in my inbox since I have been fairly absent here lately and that is just so stinkin' sweet I can't stand it. So please let me assure you that I am fine. Super, actually! Just super busy. :)

On Friday I did eventually get to Teri's and had a great time chatting with her. I met her through an online message group for Close To My Heart Consultants who are also in the military or are military spouses (or were, in my case). Pretty specific group, I know. :) Anyway, she posted a message that she was moving to this area and did anyone have any advice for her... and long story short she now lives five minutes from me! She's so fun and it's great to have her here in NoVa (Northern Virginia), let alone so close to me! :)

Saturday I finished up my Christmas Advent swap; I'm so excited about this one! There's an online group for those of us who either went to Inspired last year, are going next year, or (like me and so many of my friends, hooray!!!!) BOTH! Someone organized an Advent swap, which means that 25 of us signed up to make 25 of the same little thing and wrap each one up in a cute little package. Then we send it all to the dear sweet swap-hostess Marsi, who divvies everything out and sends it back to us so that we each get 25 different presents, each labeled with a number. Starting December 1st we'll be able to open one little present per day, through Christmas (just like an Advent Calendar, hence the name of the swap)! Isn't this a great idea? I made necklaces and that's all I'm going to say 'cause I want it to be a surprise and I know a couple of the other girls read my blog. :) I will say that I was super-mega-über stoked to be surfing etsy (after I finished my necklaces) and stumble upon a very similar design selling for $18 each! Sweeeeeeeet.

(This picture should go further down but all this text with no photos started bothering me!)

Saturday afternoon I headed up north to meet with some lovely ladies for my first-ever event with the NoVa Kappa Kappa Gamma Alumnae chapter. It's the 60th Anniversary of this alumnae chapter so they organized a High Tea (is your pinky extended? :P) and we also did some of our ritual, which I haven't done since college. It was awesome. I am totally a ritual person; I admit this freely. I'm a Lutheran and I love our liturgy; this could be a wholly separate blog post, so we'll just leave it at I love ritual. Depending on the ritual, it makes me feel centered, part of something, relaxed, etc; I even have a "nighttime ritual" to help get myself ready for sleep. Ritual reminds Jason of a cult but we'll leave him out of it for now. :) It was great to go through our ritual with a bunch of other women I had never met and yet am connected to in a way that is important to each of us. It was also awesome that there was a lady there who received her 50-year pin; she's been a Kappa for 50 years! That in itself is cool, but what is even cooler is that she was such a firecracker that all of us "youngsters" were yearning to be her friend! I'd say that I hope I have that much energy when I'm her age, but I barely have that much energy now. :P

On Sunday (yesterday) I started silver fusing! I followed along with this book that Kellie got me for my birthday and the ease of making my own ball-end head pins alone is worth the cost of the torch. Holy moly! How awesome is it to think, "Oh, I wish I had some (insert previously dearly-paid-for item here)... oh wait, I can make those now." Puh-lease! I also got a few rings fused but let's just say I need some practice--or something, anyway!--on some other aspects of fusing. Today I was at it again and in these two past days of metal-stamping and fusing I've made some pieces I'm really happy with. Which will be going on etsy this week (really this time)! I feel as if I'm finally "finding my voice" when it comes to jewelry making and design.

And out of that, I have a new favorite necklace! Can I just tell you that photographing shiny silver is hard?! So I'm cutting myself a big fat slice of slack and carrying on with it. :) Here it is:


I love it! In fact, I'm wearing it right now! :)

Tonight I'm running off to book club to discuss this book. It's my first meeting with this group and the author will be attending... good thing I don't think the book sucks, huh? :P

Have a great week!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Favorite {Photo} Friday! #22

Holy stinin' heck how is it Friday already? I honestly don't know where this week has gone. There's that whoooooosh again! I almost didn't post today but then I remembered, it's Favorite {Photo} Friday! And I'm shaking it up a bit by posting two photos today.

Our neighborhood has lovely trees in it, which Jason and I both love. Here's some pretty blossoms on our neighbors Steve and Roxanne's tree (just after a rain).


And here's a gorgeous leaf that fell from a tree and was in Steve and Roxanne's front yard (thanks for letting me trespass, Roxanne!).


Since I usually do a theme of some sort every week, can you guess what my theme is? Spring and Fall, you say? Do I hear yin and yang?

Actually, these two photos were taken on the same day. Today. The weather has been so crazy here that the leaves are changing and falling off the trees and some of the trees are blossoming! Tomorrow is supposed to be rainy and 65 degrees, and Sunday is supposed to be gorgeous and sunny but with a high of just 42. Crazy, I tell you. But I'll take it.

So that's the theme of the week; crazy things comin' at me, some of which I've expected and some of which I haven't, but I'm just rollin' with it all.

Today I got in a couple orders I've been waiting on and so tonight I'm a metal-stamping fool. I hand-stamped 25 little pendants with the word "JOY" and let me tell you that any word starts looking awfully strange after stamping it that many times. :) I'm hoping to get things finished up enough so that I can pack it up and take it over to my friend Teri's to work on finishing the necklaces; she's having a scrapbooking crop at her house and I'm going there to chat with everyone while they scrapbook and I make jewelry. :)

Tomorrow I'm headed to meet some other Kappas and have a fancy High Tea. Time to break out the dress-up clothes. :) After that I'm switching gears and trading my high heels for safety glasses; I got in the tumbler and razor flush cutters Kellie kindly bought at discount and shipped to me, as well as the fine silver wire I ordered and the butane I picked up at the cigar shop for my torch. That means tomorrow I will be fusing silver, baby! Can't wait--I already have ideas for jewelry I'll make so I dang well better be good at silver fusing, that's for sure. :)

Alright, I'm off and running to get to Teri's. Have a great weekend!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Happy Birthday, Inez! & Gratitude Day 7

I am super-duper happy to announce that Ingrid delivered Inez Josephina into the world yesterday!


Mother and baby are doing well (and father Brad, big sister Francis, and formerly-little-brother-now-middle-child Zephyr are doing well, too)! Isn't she just so, so... oh, I have to say it!... pretty in pink? :) I just want to touch that soft new baby skin! Congratulations, Ingrid and Brad and family! Inez is beautiful and I can't wait to hold her when we come home for Christmas!

I can hardly believe that it's already been a week of the Gratitude Project! Today will mark 140 things that I'm grateful for... things that I've noticed and thought about more in order to document them, thereby appreciating them more and focusing on the more positive aspects of life. All this sunshine is driving Jason nuts, ha ha! :) But it's been great for me, and I'm so, so glad that I've done it! And I am positive that I will keep this project in my back pocket to whip out again if I start focusing on doom and gloom everything that annoys the crap out of me politics the state of the world the wrong things. :)

I am thankful (for):
  1. The safe delivery of Inez!
  2. Learning to think outside of my way, way too small and constrictive box.
  3. Full-face motorcycle helmets.
  4. Enlightening and validating conversations.
  5. Acceptance and patience.
  6. Perspective.
  7. A great one-liner full of dignity and grace that also puts someone in his/her place (although I never think of them, Cynthia's dad sure can!!).
  8. Adverbs and the people who know how to use them perfectly. :)
  9. Where you've been not dictating where you can go.
  10. Greg's gorgeous repair of my China hutch cabinet!!
  11. Jason's support (especially about a specific subject lately).
  12. Online stores with free shipping. :)
  13. Jason and I both having vehicles that are safe and reliable (and paid off).
  14. Our house and my studio in the basement (which is still coming together but will rock!).
  15. People who share their passion and knowledge with others.
  16. All of our travels and everything we've gained and learned from them.
  17. Pumpkin spice bisque (oh my heavens!).
  18. CHANGE.
  19. All the Veterans who have served our country; remember to thank a Veteran on Tuesday!
  20. Every day I have to learn and grow and love and create and live and laugh and enjoy and try to become the person I truly want to be.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Happy Birthday Kel! & Gratitude Day 6

Today is Kellie's birthday! I'm thrilled to wish her a wonderful, glorious day. Kellie and I are friends from college and Kappa. When Jason was living in South Korea and I was in Oregon I stayed in Seattle with Kellie and Alex on a fairly regular basis. :) I think it's safe to say that I really don't know what I would have done without her that year!

She and Alex came to visit us while we were living in Italy (okay, so we all know that they came to see Italy, but let me keep my illusions, okay?) and we traveled all over, including the most stressful driving situation I have ever had to endure. Going to Florence? Yeah, take the train. :) But no matter where we are or what we're doing, when we're together we're having fun!

It doesn't hurt that our husbands were separated at birth are so similar it's scary (and funny)! And that we both love to make things and be artistic and creative and crafty, and that we're passionate about so many of the same things. But most importantly, Kellie is just a wonderful soul. She takes time to cultivate her friendships (and somehow forgives me that I'm such a flake sometimes). :) When we were in Italy she called me more than almost everyone else combined; she even writes letters and cards (and has the most beautiful handwriting)! She strives to constantly improve herself and wants only the best for her friends, and will go to great lengths (despite her busy schedule) to help them. She's smart and kind and compassionate and strong and hopeful and determined and humble and funny and beautiful inside and out; all those things that we all hope we can be, she is. She is one of my very favorite people on this planet, and I am so very blessed to call her my friend.

Kel, I hope you have a wonderful day today and that it's the start of the best year yet for you. I wish I were there to help you celebrate (oh wouldn't that be fun!!) but I hope you know that I love you dearly and hope you're having an amazing day! :)

I can't believe it's already day six of the Gratitude Project!

I am thankful (for):
  1. The "soul sister" I have in Kellie!
  2. My now-clean floors (oh how I hate vacuuming and mopping but I'm sooo glad to have it done!).
  3. Eating breakfast at the table this morning instead of on the couch and the surprising and insightful discussion with Jason that resulted from it.
  4. Jason discovering this morning that his OSU game won't be on television (even though we're paying extra for the sports package), so we had time to plan for him to go into a sports bar in DC to watch it! [Alternate phrasing: I am thankful for a narrowly-averted major crisis that almost happened at 5:50 p.m. when Jason would have tried to tune in to the game! LOL]
  5. The deal I just got on the Silhouette and the fact that I hadn't spent all of my birthday money yet so I could take advantage of it!!
  6. That I decided to not care that the people coming over this morning would see me in my pajamas because I wanted to clean the house after they left (instead of taking a shower before they got here and messing up the rest of my plans). [Alternate phrasing: I'm thankful that I decided to go about my day instead of caring too much what other people think of me when they probably didn't give a rip that I was in my pajamas with bed-head anyway!]
  7. Jason's funny observation that it must be weird to be a girl because, unlike boys who are born with all of their "parts," girls have the chance to realize that they're going to get boobs at some point, and to wonder what it will be like to have them and what they will look like when they grow in. HA!
  8. Oprah's all-about-sex show with the sex therapist on Monday, did you see it? Oh my goodness. But very interesting!
  9. A hilarious e-mail from Sooz.
  10. Taking time to tell a few people how awesome I think they are ('cause I do) and having them tell me they think I'm awesome too! Oh, oh, oh, I love it when that happens!
  11. Our super-cool washer and dryer.
  12. NO CAR PAYMENTS.
  13. My aunt Susan being so easy-going that I can just call her and say, "Can we come over in a couple hours and hang out all afternoon/evening and maybe stay the night?" and she says, "Okay, see you then!"
  14. A digital photo storage system that works for me.
  15. Facebook now that so many other people have decided to hop on!
  16. High school being not even close to the best four years of my life. :)
  17. Jason being such an easy eater; he will eat anything I make even if it is just whatever is left over in the fridge + popcorn. :)
  18. Finding the book I need for book club next Wednesday (whether or not I finish it, at least I'll have started it!), and realizing that it's better to go and socialize even if I haven't finished the book by then. I never would have done that five years ago!
  19. A clean car with an oil change (thanks Baby!)!
  20. Jason selling his truck this morning, wooo hooo!! I will miss that turquoise beast; Jason bought it brand-new about the same time we got together ten+ years ago, so we have a lot of history with that truck! But it was past time for it to go. Bye-bye, truck; we had so much fun and now it's time for you to live with someone else! :P

Friday, November 7, 2008

Favorite {Photo} Friday! #22 & Gratitude Day 5

Happy Birthday to my aunt Susan! Jason and I lived with her (and my uncle Bob) for two+ months when we moved back to the States and I just can't tell you how much I treasure her (for that and two hundred thirteen other things she's done for me over the years). I hope you have a wonderful day, my favorite aunt! :)

I'm still so in love with the shirts I got from courierfontwear. And if I'd known what a deal I was getting on them (vs. their regular price) I would have bought every design the store had... so it's probably good that I didn't and have "just" four of them! :) When I was getting dressed on Tuesday to head to the polls I almost just threw something on but then caught myself and thought, "Waaaaaait, a second... I have just the thing..."


I topped it off with the necklace Kellie made me. I love the necklace and it seemed perfect because 1) she's a huge Obama supporter (click here to check out photos of her and Carrie making Obama cookies to "trade" for campaign donations at the Obama rally in Seattle!); 2) the necklace is kind of two "O"s; 3) I am a big fan of symbolism and to me these rings symbolise inclusiveness and being centered (which is just the miracle we need, if you ask me).

I'm so happy that I remembered to have Jason take a photo before I changed into pajamas. :) I'm sure some people will wonder why I didn't bother to include, you know, my face, :) but that wasn't the point... I wanted to remember the feeling and any expression on my face might not capture what I wanted to remember. It was an easy choice for this week's Favorite {Photo} Friday! [And it's sooooo getting scrapbooked!]

I am thankful (for):
  1. The ladies I delivered necklaces to yesterday loving them (one even got a little choked up, oh, love that!)!
  2. Potential new customers who saw the necklaces and want to order them as Christmas gifts!
  3. Catching myself when I very nearly fell down the stairs because my stupid high heel caught on the carpet (and oh it would have been a disastrous fall I know!).
  4. Having a renewed appreciation of what my legs do for me every day since I didn't break anything falling down the stairs because I caught myself!.
  5. John being so compassionate and helpful (and appreciative of my cooking!) and making it so easy to have him in the house.
  6. A new "-er" philosophy that I'm developing and will be probably sharing more about here next week.
  7. Heather's fabulous sense of humor that makes me literally laugh out loud on a regular basis. :)
  8. Third Watch on A&E. I watch it every morning with my cappuccino and I wonder why I never watched it when it was on "normally." It has such great storytelling and character development, and I especially love that I only have to wait one day for the next episode instead of an entire week, ha ha!
  9. Being part of the inspiration for Heather C to start blogging and join our Gratitude Project, and what may come from that.
  10. Jason possibly finding a buyer for his truck (fingers crossed!).
  11. My Grandma Lois sending me a receiving blanket from when my dad was born. How cool!
  12. The inspiration I've received from Donna, whose motto is "You're perfect just the way you create." She has taught me to just friggin' do it and forget about perfectionism. I'm almost there. :) Join her Campaign for Creativity!
  13. Ross, Marshalls, and TJ Maxx.
  14. Sara Groves' song Roll to the Middle and talking with John and Jason about it last night.
  15. Not having any reason to have to roll to the middle lately. :)
  16. Grommets, oh my stinkin' heck how FUN.
  17. Knowing how to make homemade pasta.
  18. Comfortable, supportive, properly-fitting bras. Sorry if that's TMI but really, can't a bad bra just ruin your day?
  19. Tampons. Again, sorry for TMI but I was organizing the bathroom yesterday and when I saw the box I just thought, thank goodness tampons exist. I mean, really. See what this gratitude project is doing to me? :P
  20. Ingrid may be giving birth soon, hooray! I love her blog post about "PregoLog '08" and I hope to hear about Inez's arrival soon!
Happy Friday and I'll see you tomorrow for my next 20 things! :)