Thursday, January 28, 2010

thursday thoughts

~ the marriage retreat at Camelback Inn was so beautiful and relaxing.
~ went to Crate & Barrel, Anthropology and H & M for the first time.
~ overwhelmed with all the decisions that go along with a kitchen remodel.
~ my Amaryllis is blooming again.

~ I love when I can see Four Peaks covered in snow.
~ my dear friend Alice is visiting this week from PA.
~ I am so grateful for her wisdom & insight.
~ learning to trust how others see me... how God sees me.

Friday, January 22, 2010

IKEA slipcover switcharoo

First of all, because of bad weather and mudslides, our marriage retreat at Kohl's Ranch will now be here in town. I was hoping for some exciting weather up north but also aware of the potential danger in driving in such conditions. So I'm fine with staying at a nice resort in Scottsdale.
Anyway, I had some extra time this morning and ran to IKEA. I didn't actually run. But I suppose I could have, it's only a mile away. But I would never think to go without an empty van, you know, in case I find a deal I can't refuse in the 'as is' section.

So today I went to look at kitchens and counter tops just to get some ideas before we begin our kitchen remodel. But first, a quick browse through 'as is'.

And I was rewarded.

Let me back up and explain that when Miranda moved out I was anticipating that she would take her IKEA couches. But the house she moved into had no room for any more couches. One of her couches works fine for now but this black & white one did not match anything in my home.

Well, while browsing in 'as is' I noticed a huge bin filled with slipcovers and I found the beige set that I had drooled over when I had entertained the idea of a slipcover. But I felt that $139.00 was too much when it's not even mine. And I didn't have any idea how long I would be storing it for Miranda.
WELL, get this... because it was in 'as is', each piece was priced separately and all five pieces came to a whopping $20.00!! I am getting a whole new look for $20.00! And it's the look I wanted!

THANKS, I knew you would share my joy!

Oh and lest you think I visit IKEA often... well I don't. I know it's crazy, but I want it to remain exciting each time I go, so I maybe walk through it once or twice a year. I know... and I live only a mile away. But I will do occasional browsing through 'as is' when I am specifically looking for an item. We have yet to ever assemble an item... since we always buy 'as is'... where everything is already assembled.

SO, there you have it... tips from an 'as is' shopper.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Aldo clutch purse

I found the perfect clutch purse for Mrs. McGillicutty at my little thrift store. And just in time for the holidays.
We're talking an Aldo clutch for a couple bucks. Such a deal. But how about an Aldo clutch with buttons? Priceless. Cuz well, you know how much I love buttons.
And I absolutely love the aqua tree I found at Big Lots. How could I pack it away after Christmas... when it would look so cute in my aqua craft room.

It's been raining all week and I love it. Tomorrow we're heading up north for a marriage retreat and they have already gotten tons of snow. Tonight's storm should dump a ton more. So excited to hit the road, but hopefully not a ditch. So pray for our safety!

Monday, January 18, 2010

T-Rex & Tepees

We're suppose to get rain all week and I couldn't be happier. Rain energizes me. I do these crazy things, like cook and clean and stuff. I know! What's up with that. And the rain could not come at a better time. I have been rather down these past three weeks... emotionally and physically. I could use a pick-me-up. I came back from my Dad's funeral with a head cold that is just now getting better after 4 days on antibiotic. I am not sleeping but a few hours every night... so I'm pretty useless during the day. And my emotions are all over the place. I am easily burdened with the weight of the world. I ache for the people of Haiti. I ache for those with chronic pain and disease. And I ache for my kids. I know, I know, disappointments build character, but gosh darn, it's hard as a parent to watch your kids sad and discouraged when their dreams go unfulfilled. I just want it all better.

I am convinced that parenting adult children has been the hardest so far. Not that I'm actually parenting them... or at least I shouldn't be... but that's what's hard. Knowing when to enter in and when to let go. I am so proud of my kids and the choices they make. But when they are struggling and sad or disappointed... I want them to feel all better. So I pray a lot, to be wise, intuitive, discerning and sensitive. But quite often, I fall short of my intentions.

Anyway, I will leave you with one of my favorite pics from our drive home from WI. It's January 1st, we're cruising along at 75 mph, a mile from exiting off I-40 at Holbrook, AZ and we see this-

Quite frankly, I don't know what else to say. I mean, what in the heck is a T-Rex doing in a Native American tepee village?! Ha, you gotta love the Southwest.
Here's hoping it put a smile on your face this rainy... or snowy Monday morning.

*** The top picture was taken once we crossed the Mississippi River from LaCrosse, WI into Minnesota. Those HUGE frozen waterfalls are run-offs from the bluffs along the River.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Miranda- one year later

The day after we arrived home from WI, we moved Miranda out... almost to the day that she moved to England a year ago. She lived in England for 6 months and back home with us for 6 months. And now she's living in a lovely home with two other gals, finishing up her last year at ASU. She misses England. She misses her friend Phoebe that she met her first week at Royal Holloway. And she misses the day-to-day adventures of living abroad.

It's hard to believe that it's been a year since we loaded her luggage, hugged her good-bye and watched her walk through security, out of our protective care. She wrote THIS on her blog while waiting for her flight. She would land in London knowing no one. She has to be the most courageous person I know. Thus began her journey that she documented on her blog "My Semester in a Castle".

Yes, this is where she lived near London. She attended Royal Holloway- University of London and traveled extensively throughout Europe for those 6 life-changing months.
She even circled her dorm room when she posted this pic on her blog. How cool is that! Oh and she does NOT miss the dorm life. The noise and chaos associated with 18 year olds living away from home for the first time... well, pretty crazy. And her bed was not much bigger than a cot and the internet was super slow. But otherwise, she misses everything else.

This is Miranda's new digs. Check out the lake in her backyard. Pretty cool. She's in walking distance to Jamba Juice and Starbucks. And she has two real sweet roommates.
It may not be the exotic adventures of a year ago but it's the journey that God has chosen for her right now. And I can't wait to see how 2010 unfolds. I feel that this year is going to be just as significant. I just know it.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Christmas Eve day

It occurred to me that I had not posted about our Christmas yet. We had our family Christmas on Christmas Eve day because we left for WI on Christmas Day. So, Shawn, Nicole & Emolyn came over early in their jammies and Emolyn woke up Miranda & Tyler and thus began our day.

Mimi & Pop pop gave Emolyn a table & chairs set. Perfect for all the faux foods and vintage melmac dishes I found for her to play and pretend with. She loved the food & dishes and let me tell you, this girl can pretend!

Tyler got her ELMO which was a big hit. Emolyn loves Elmo.

She loved her washable markers and immediately grasped them like a grown up. She's a natural artist.

Miranda was so excited about the Glee CD that our dear friend Nancy got her. Miranda didn't even know she wanted one, but Nancy did. Nancy is an awesome gift giver.

Nicole has been wanting a quilt rack for a couple years and I found this one for her online. It literally arrived at 8 pm the night before. Thank God. And she loved it.

Miranda got me this art piece from THIS Etsy shop that I fell madly in love with, when Amy sent me the link a while back. So you can imagine how thrilled I was to open this. Thanks Miranda! You know me so well.

Then Shawn wowed us with his culinary genius and made The Pioneer Woman's Apple Dumplings. OH. My. Gosh. I almost cried they were so good. I'm serious, they were so good they will now be a tradition at every family gathering. I'm only sort of kidding.

Here's a teaser... the recipe calls for Mountain Dew. Ok, nough said.

Here's my point... sorry, I can't let it go... my talented sons perform at every family gathering, so why not include apple dumplings. I can totally see the correlation. I can no longer have one without the other. Nough said.

The littliest culinary genius announces that it's time to decorate Christmas cookies. No one budges. She has to get rather firm. But come on, after eggs, bacon and apple dumplings for brunch and then followed by Honey-baked ham & scalloped potatoes for dinner, we couldn't possibly need a dessert! But Emolyn thought otherwise.

So we decorated the gingerbread cut-out cookies that I had made the day before and well, the creative juices started flowin.

Shawn honored our Phoenix SUNS with a special limited-edition cookie.

Emolyn does not like to get her hands messy, so she used a spoon to eat the frosting off her cookie.

A plethora of Christmas cookies for your viewing pleasure.

Emolyn fanagled another guitar pick from her Pop pop and loved teasing Koda with it. She figured everyone must love guitar picks as much as she does. Koda was not impressed in the least.

We look like a family that has had way too much to eat and needs to veg out. Actually, Randy was resting up for the 3800 mile round trip to WI that starts the next day. Can't say I blame him.

But not before he and Emolyn go out back and pick a bag full of lemons to take to my Mom. And as you can imagine, my Mom was thrilled.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Ginny's home

How much do we love the hanging half-tree in the entryway of my sister Ginny's home? A LOT! Oh my gosh, I want one!
One of the highlights of our trip was spending a whole day with my sister. And that can only mean one thing... the sewing sisters were at it again! Ginny had a new project for me to learn and well, drum-roll please... Designer pillow cases!

Remember the two pillowcases she made me for my birthday that I showed you HERE? Well, my son Tyler loved them too. So I surprised him with a flannel pillowcase. The John Deere logo/ Christmas/ snowflake print could not have been more perfect... symbolizing the memories we made while in Wisconsin. I made one for his brother Shawn too. They loved them.

I love my sister's home. I usually spend the first hour just walking around admiring her many creative vignettes that express her love of mixing the old with the new. No one does that better than her. But what made this trip extra special was to see her home at Christmas.

Love the oak curio cabinet that displays her glass collection. That cabinet has been in the Larson family for generations. It could not be more at home in her lovely home.

Click on the above pic and check out the inspiration for her dining room remodel... the vintage fabric on her dining table. She recently enlarged the windows and repainted the walls using this fabric as her inspiration. And don't you just love the way she draped her Christmas cards on her window valance rods. Oh and guess what she used to attach her Christmas cards to the windows? Photo corners! She just peeled them off and attached the cards. Looks so much better than using tape on the back. Great idea Ginny!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

one little word for 2010

What's up with 7 posts in the first 10 days of 2010? Well, the creative juices were flowin and I took advantage of the inspiration and wrote. Quite frankly, something's going on. I have oodles of energy and that translates into substantial amounts of progress on a number of fronts.

~ I'm weeding out. De-cluttering. Down-sizing. Simplifying.
~ I had a yard sale Saturday. Had a blast! And I made money to boot!
~ I'm thinking about exercising again. Like walking or shredding or something.
~ I'm becoming more aware of some disturbing addictions... like sugar and facebook.
~ I'm dreaming again. About the future. And feeling hopeful.
~ I ordered pics on Snapfish. And I might actually scrap them..
~ I'm more focused. Intentional. Present.
~ I even chose my One Little Word for 2010. Trust

Something's going on alright.
And I like it.
And I'm liking that the ARIZONA CARDINALS WON!!

Friday, January 08, 2010

my Lutheran church

Upper Pigeon Creek Lutheran church is the church I attended while growing up, till I moved to Phoenix 33 years ago at the age of 20. I have so many fond memories of this special place... Sunday school, vacation bible school, Confirmation, Luther League, singing at Ladies Aid, Christmas programs, weddings and funerals for my Dad's parents. I even sang at my Dad's service.

Each of these stained glass murals cover the entire wall on either side of the sanctuary. They are huge. Oh the hours I spent looking at these exquisite pieces of art each Sunday while growing up. Clic the pics to see how large the windows really are next to the pews.

OK, cute story. This church also holds a rather peculiar memory for my husband. This is where he had his very first taste of alcohol. At 24.
Let me explain.
Soon after Randy & I met in 1977, I moved back to Wisconsin. My best friend Linda & I had lived in Phoenix for 8 months and decided to head back to WI for her upcoming wedding, unsure if I was ever coming back. Click HERE if you want to know how a farm girl ends up in Phoenix.

Anyway, the other Linda asked Randy to sing at her wedding. So he and his best friend came and stayed on the farm for a week in August. It was during that time that he attended my little Lutheran church and it was during communion that he had his very first taste of alcohol. Let me further explain. They only served grape juice in the Southern Baptist churches he attended while growing up... and he also came from a family that did not drink.

The funny thing is, while Randy was kneeling so reverently around the altar, he had no idea he was about to be served wine instead of grape juice. Needless to say, he was quite surprised.

This precious little church (storage for the cemetery lawn equipment) is a reproduction of the original church that was actually built on that very spot back in 1874. My Dad was laid to rest just a few yards from this lovely little church. Back in those days the cemetery surrounded the church building. When the church burned down they built the present one in 1910 and let the cemetery have it's own space where it all began back in 1874.
Oh the hours I've spent walking through that cemetery over the years. Four generations of my family are now buried in that cemetery. My Dad's grandparents, my Dad's parents, my Dad and his grandson Noel.

* Thanks to Noel's sister Kristen for taking the last picture.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

icicles to salt licks

Icicles are fascinating to me. Ya don't see them much around these here parts (I just typed that with a cowboy accent), so as you can imagine, I took my share of icicle pics. I remember as a kid, being told by my teachers that if one of those huge icicles fall, it could spear you through the head and kill you. So I never walked under one of those bad boys. Ever.

Speaking of teachers, this is the school I attended for 1st grade. York School is a one-room school, one teacher, 5 girls and 15 boys, 1st grade though 6th grade. They closed the school the following year and years later someone made it into a home.
Mr. Hanson's teaching was legendary. He taught generations of families. He was such a wonderful, gifted man. My most vivid memory from that year... when Beth Moe, the school bus driver (uh, station wagon) came to the school in the middle of the day. She stood in the back and whispered something to Mr. Hanson. He walked back to the front of the classroom and with a shaky voice announced that President Kennedy had been shot and that we all needed to go home. Even as a 5 year old, I knew the gravity of that moment. It is forever etched in my brain.

This is the little school house that the Amish children attend. Aah, so that paint horse & buggy that drove by the farm each day were taking their kids to school.

Love the Amish corn shocks.

My Mom is doing real well. Doesn't she look great! (she'll be 80 in April) She keeps super busy and active. We stayed a couple days after the others had gone home and enjoyed our time together. I made her a big pot of split-peas soup, using a spiral ham that traveled all the way from Phoenix with us. It was still frozen when we arrived! We also saw Julie & Julia one night while Randy & Tyler went to Avatar in Eau Claire. Tyler got me the dvd for my birthday. I just love that movie!

We decided to take a picture of the out-laws that married into the Larson clan. Did they have any idea what they were getting themselves into? I think not.

Now showing- Three Aunts & a Nephew! That's my brother Kevin's son Mitchel with his three favorite Aunts. He's one charming, cute kid wouldn't you say!

And finally, back by popular demand... the beautiful, the bodacious, the bovine beauty herself! Who seems quite taken with herself... or the camera...

... or maybe she just thought the camera was a potential salt lick. Mmm... food for thought.