Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 in photos and words

Here I sit on New Year's Eve slightly feverish and coughing my brains out. So I thought that since I'm not going anywhere I should update the ol' blog one more time. . . for auld lang syne. I figured I'd show some of my favs from the year, which, in hindsight, wasn't my most favorite year ever, but there were a lot of good things to remember. 

Best Projects of 2014:

1. painting the kitchen and dining room. We went with Valspar's Carolina Skies and ultra white for all the trim.
2. bidding farewell to the ugly 1970's fireplace in the family room/aka mancave. We aren't sure who painted the rocks the groovy multi-colors and only added white mortar to part of them, but I put up with it for nearly 3 years until I'd had enough. We sold the tv armoire and moved the tv and electronics to the opposite side under the heater.

It took 2 coats of masonry primer and 2 coats of ultra white paint and a lot of woman-power, but it's all pretty now. The top and bottom of the fireplace are white, with the exception of the hearth tiles which still need to be replaced. It changed the whole look and feel of the room.
3. the great spring break scrapbook room/office purge. So embarrassing, but here's the honest before. A disaster. It had become a catch all dump. It's a teeny tiny bedroom that had been a baby boy's nursery for the previous owners, thus the tan and blue. I was ready to brighten things up a bit.
I moved almost everything out to the living room so I could sort and give away and recycle. We sold the computer armoire which freed up a ton of space. The two bookshelves found new home in the other bedrooms and then we went to Ikea.
Here's the after, but obviously not the final after. I kept the white desk and moved it to the opposite wall. Everything was neat and organized and then, well, it's kind of a mess again, but at least the furniture's cute.
Favorite place with a favorite friend: the tulip festival with Jenny Wilen.

Best dog: my Wilsy-poo.

Favorite photo I took: this lighthouse, from our 10 year anniversary trip to Victoria, BC.
Favorite selfie: taken at Butchart Gardens on our anniversary trip. This was the main photo on our Christmas card this year. 
Favorite picture of myself that Phil505 took: also taken at Butchart
Most disgusting, but at the same time interestingly cool, thing I saw: the gum wall at Pike Street Market in Seattle.

Farewell, 2014. Hello, 2015. Bring on the changes that I'm not even close to being ready for.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

christmas at evcc

Phil and I (along with a bunch of other people) helped decorate our church a few weeks ago. I wanted to document it because some of it I made. . . like this pretty gold banner. I was very adament that we needed a Nativity somewhere, because if there's ever a place to express the birth of Christ in Nativity form, it's at church. The one that was purchased was a little bit smaller than I imagined for this space, but it's nice. The wall behind it, however, was clearly lacking in all its light beige-ness, so I whipped up a little sparkly gold lettered banner.
I also created this silhouette Nativity for the bulletin board outside the fellowship hall. It was based off an art project I did with several of my classes in year's past. That project was a much simpler barn outline, Mary, Joseph, and Jesus in the manger. The scene I got from google images had the donkey and palm trees. My trees look a little funky, and I'm just now realizing that I totally forgot the star. Oh well, there's always next year.
I spend a lot of time over here in this little corner of the sanctuary. And our two trees now have red and gold ornaments. In all the eight years we've been attending, these trees have only had white lights. The gold and red glitter add just the right amount of sparkle.
The last several years, we've purchased pointsettias in memory of Phil's mom and dad. We didn't get a flower this year, but we bought the two boxes of ornaments for these two trees.

In loving memory of Rev. Clifford & Dewyone (Devy) Bergland

Saturday, December 13, 2014

our christmas music date night

It's been our tradition every year to have a date night that includes really good Christmas music. This year we had talked about going to the Portland Symphony on December 21st, but when we went to get tickets, the show was sold out. I was a little bummed, but we persevered. I put a post on facebook asking for ideas of where to go and got a few. Several people said we should go to the Singing Christmas Tree, but you know, I have no earthly desire to ever see a singing Christmas tree program again thanks to Tennessee Temple University and Highland Park Baptist Church. Three years of that in a row was enough for me. We had a suggestion to go to a youth theatre musical, but that wasn't getting my goat either. There was a Bluegrass Christmas show that I would've loved to have seen, but it was on a Tuesday night and that totally won't work for Phil's schedule. We thought about having a repeat year, but I like it to be something new and different. Then Phil's aunt posted that they go every year to see a local group called The Trail Band. We checked it out, and got tickets. The next day she called and said they had tickets that they were going to give us, but it was too late.

After a quick stop at Burgerville, we headed to the old Aladdin Theatre in southeast Portland. Didn't see any genies, in case you were wondering.

We got there right after the doors opened, so we just hung out in the balcony and listened to the music that was playing before the show.
And took a date night selfie.
There are 8 musicians in the Trail Band and they all sang at one point or other and they played a ton of different instruments. My favorite was the hammered dulcimer, but they were all really good. They have an eclectic set of music - several Irish pieces, jigs and such, a little bit of New Orleans, Beach Boyish tunes with some Wipe Out thrown in, traditional, Gospel, and original pieces. They had a guest vocalist sing a few songs and another guy came and played the banjo and slide guitar. He was incredible. The whole crowd joined them on Silent Night and that was pretty spectacular too. Then they had a comedian come out. His schtick was that he was playing a kid, dressed up as a shepherd, and he used his toys to tell the story of Joseph and Mary in Bethlehem. It was hysterical. 
On the way home we were talking about whether or not we've gone on a musical date night every year since we've been married or not. Here are the ones I remember. . .

  • the Nutcracker
  • Michael W. Smith
  • Manheim Steamroller
  • Michael Allen Harrison, piano
  • Aaron Meyer, violin
  • Tuba Christmas
  • the Grotto Festival of Lights

I'll have to keep thinking and see if I can come up with any others.

This December date night is one of my favorite traditions. Thanks, Babe, for taking me out last night.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

christmas listing

Making these gooey salted caramel vanilla butter cookies. . . a test run as a potential cookie for the exchange on Sunday. If all goes as planned, these will be the ones. If not, I may have to resort to rolling 5 dozen buckeye balls because I don't really have a backup plan.
Planning to do Christmas cards this year. I think it's been at least two years since I sent out more than like 5 or 6. I may even throw in a newsletter this year. I got the stationery for super cheap last January.
Counting the cards we've received so far. . . 4. Three in the mail and one at church. 
Revisiting my old December daily and Christmas scrapbooks. I put them out in the living room for the month of December and it's just fun looking back at what we did, and how our decorations have changed, and where we went for our annual musical date, and all that jazz. For the record, I bought myself a sweater: my annual Christmas present to me. I haven't bought my Christmas CD yet, but I have two or three in mind that I'd love. 

Crossing off a few things on our to do list. First, the outside lights are up and done - YEAH! Sunday afternoon was a great day to get the outside stuff done. Bonus points to Phil505 for risking life and limb up there on the ladder.
Second, we went this afternoon and picked out our tree, a 6 ft. Noble fir from the same lot we went to last year. It's down the street and they have a good selection. Plus this year, the guy didn't charge us tax! It's currently drying out (it rained today) so I'll decorate it tomorrow.

Listening to channel 975 on Dish - The Christmas Message. I have yet to start listening to my Christmas CD collection. Right now, the tv is just easier.
Loving, loving, loving the Pentatonix version of Mary, Did you Know? A.MA.ZING!!! Seriously, if you haven't heard it yet, click the link.
Learning a new Christmas song, Come and Worship. Old familiar words, new tune. And it has a great piano part. We taught it to the congregation on Sunday and it was like they've known this song all along. It was absolutely beautiful.
Appreciating my parents. We love you.
Getting lots of requests to sub, but I'm booked thru Christmas break, so I'm turning people down almost every day.
Needing to get some stuff up on the walls. So boring around here lately. I took the stuff down in the kitchen and dining room when I painted and have only hung a few of the things back up.

Drinking ginger ale. Regular for now. Cranberry for the cookie exchange. (It's tradition.)

Thinking about buying a sewing machine. Phil's aunt has one she said she'd sell me. Question is, would I use it enough to make it worth while? I've wanted one for the longest time to sew on scrapbook projects and occasionally something else with fabric. We'll see.
Trying a new recipe. Actually I made it last night, so that should be tried a new recipe. Korean Beef. It's made with ground beef and has a little tiny Asian kick to it. Served it over rice with steamed broccoli. It was really good. I had leftovers for lunch and it was still just as good. Definitely going into the rotation. Pinterest for the win!

Deciding on niece and nephew gifts. Always a challenge when you don't get to see them nearly enough. 
Reflecting. Well, the lights are reflecting on the pond and I like it.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

winter wonderland

So yesterday was the ladies' event I've been planning for all year. Seriously, I picked the theme just a few days after the party last December and have been pinning and planning and crafting stuff for it ever since. It was such a fun theme. I envisioned tons of snowflakes everywhere. I pictured the stage decorated as if snow was falling. And since I had plenty of ladies sign up to host a table this year, I didn't have to figure out a centerpiece and set up a table. So I went full-fledged on making the stage look pretty. I don't think I did all that bad bringing my vision to life. I had help stringing the cotton balls, but the rest of it I did myself. I was at the church for about three hours three nights in a row to get it all made and up there.

I had glittery snowflakes, styrofoam snowflakes, cotton balls, and these big 3-dimensional snowflakes I made hanging on fishing line from a wire. The shadows on the wall really added to the effect. I learned about those snowflakes several years ago. I taught my 3rd and 4th graders how to make them and we had them hanging in our classroom from the ceiling. They are big and so pretty. I just used regular copy paper.
We had 11 tables set up. I got to sit at this one. My friend Kathy crocheted the huge snowflake in the center, the smaller snowflake coasters (which we got to take home), and the trees. She also made all of us a pair of earrings which were in the boxes that she also made. She has a degree in art, that girl, and she is amazing.
There were lots of cute snowmen all over the place, but these cookies won the prize in my book.
We brought back to life the metallic cardboard trees that I cut out and spray-painted last year. This table holds all the baby clothes, diapers and wipes, toiletries, and blankets that we collected for Options360, our local crisis pregnancy center.
My dear friend Barbara made the banner. They all have a little bling with glimmery jewels. Barbara is all about the bling, and this was perfect.
Barbara's sister-in-law, and a dear friend of mine, Sue, was our guest speaker. She shared an amazing devotional with us. Her husband is a pastor of one of the churches in our conference and she was recently voted as our new conference women's president. She is a super talented paper crafter, so you know we're kindred spirits there, but she loves the Lord and she is a faithful prayer warrior, and she was the perfect choice to have come and share with us.
So now that it's over, I can work on getting our house decorated (we did the outside lights today) and get the tree up (probably Tuesday), and get ready for our musical date night (Friday) and my cookie exchange (Sunday). After that, things should slow down a bit :)

Saturday, December 6, 2014

great and precious promises

So I mentioned the other day that I'm going through an Advent Scripture reading plan every morning. Yesterday I happened to read the account of Abram in Genesis 12 when God told him to pack up his family and move to the place He would show him. "I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you."  I thought about how we, as Christians, are a recipient of that blessing. Through Abraham as the first listed in the geneology of Christ in Matthew 1, we have received the promised one. Emmanuel, God is with us. That led into more thought about promises in Scripture. I sat there and thought of a few and reflected on how He will never leave us, that He will complete what He has started, He will satisfy our needs, He heals the broken-hearted, He will give you rest, His love is unfailing. So many wonderful things. In fact, we briefly touched on the same topic in church recently. The pastor had people in the congregation call out promises that we can claim.

So, I get in my car and leave for work and as I turn off our street, I see the most amazing sunrise. You know what immediately popped into my head? His promises are new every morning. I kept adjusting my side mirror so I could see it better. 
The sky was like electric. That yellow was glowing. I finally had to pull over in the Safeway parking lot so I could snap a picture. I think when God is pounding something into your head like that, it's good to stop and take a picture. It's kind of like how the Israelites built the stone altars to remember the things God had done for them. I zoomed too far and it turned out blurry, and rarely does a picture ever do any sunrise justice, but it was too beautiful to pass up. I was also hoping to snag Mt. Hood in it, but I'm pretty sure that it's hidden by the trees.
So I continue on my way and I get into traffic and head for the freeway. I turn right to merge onto it and what do I see right in front of me? A rainbow. Anybody seeing a theme here? 
I get off yet another exit and turn right again, and I kid you not, there's another rainbow. Well, maybe it was just the other end of the first rainbow, I don't know. I didn't take a picture of that because, well, I do mostly try to drive safe. But it was the neatest thing, to have that all play out right before my very eyes in the matter of about two hours time. 

And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. 2 Peter 1:4

Thursday, December 4, 2014

santa came to school

I was subbing for a reading intervention teacher today and had a bunch of small groups. Just after lunch I had a small group of 2nd graders come in. The first boy said, "Look Mrs. B., I got new shoes!" I oooed and awwwwed and made it out to be a big deal, because to them, it is. These kids don't have a lot. Most of them get free breakfast and lunch, they go home with food bags, they visit the family resource center for school supplies and clothes. Getting new shoes is a pretty big deal. So I was surprised when another one of the boy says, "I got new shoes too!" I was like, "No way, you both got new shoes?" And then one of the girls pipes up and says, "Ya, Santa came and brought all of us a new pair of shoes, our whole entire class!"

You guys, these kids were so excited about their shoes. They had the biggest, happiest smiles on their faces. I don't know, it's like I immediately felt the spirit of Christmas wrap around my heart, and if I had a moment, I would've teared right up in front of them. At recess a little while later, I went in and talked to the teacher and told her how stoked her kids were about their new shoes. She said, "I know, isn't it great?" And I think we both got a little teary eyed.

So, whoever it was that donated shoes for an entire class of 2nd graders, thank you. You reminded me again of what it's all about.