Christmas Day

I am grateful for the chance to celebrate the birth of Christ and recognize the impact it has on my life. I am also thankful for the opportunity to be with family and friends, to reminisce, and enjoy a day together.

This year was different than the last few years have been. Our dear friend Dayna's father is in the final days of his life as he battles cancer. Typically, Dayna's family joins us for dinner, as well as her parents and my mom. But with her dad's health situation they spent the day with her siblings, their children, and her parents, which was exactly where they needed to be.

So our day was much quieter. We still had dinner with my mom - Prime Rib, scalloped potatoes, green bean casserole, brussel sprouts (blah), frog-eye salad, homemade rolls, and banana slush with banana cream and coconut cream pies for dessert. The meal was delightful! We exchanged gifts and had fun chatting with my mom.

The quieter day also gave me time to reflect on what is important, what I value, and my many blessings. I am so grateful for Christ's sacrifice for me. I am thankful to be surrounded by people that love and support me. Life is good!

Merry Christmas!

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Stockings were hung with care

We have a variety of stockings in our house. Two are hung on the mantel - the cross-stitched with love ones (mine and J's).

My stocking that K made for me two years ago

We have baby stockings hanging from the corners of the TV hutch. Four puffy, playful stockings hanging over the french doors to the deck. There are three or four more in the downstairs hanging from various surfaces.

But not a single one of these stockings is actually filled on Christmas morning - they are for decoration only (I'm too afraid to use my cross-stitched one - it's too beautiful!). On Christmas Eve we each place our stockings out on our designated seats in the family room. Mine is an Odie stocking (Garfield the cat's dog buddy) that says "The More the Merrier" that I've had for 20 something years. We each take turns filling the stockings of the other two, while our sock remains hidden beneath a towel. The last person to fill the stockings removes the towels and turns out the lights.

Christmas morning we go through our stockings first, which contain practical items such as hair dye, shower gel, lip stuff, and other needed items as well as a few fun items like iTunes cards, movie tickets, and goodies. J's sock always has an orange, because that's what her childhood stocking contained.

I love our stocking tradition and also enjoy the variety of stockings that grace our home.

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Winter Wonderland

The snow has arrived! Our neighborhood is coated in a snowy, white blanket that has enhanced the Christmas lights and other lighted decor. Mabel and I took a ride through the neighborhoods and captured a few favorite sites (she hung her head out the window while I tried to find strategic spots to take the photos without looking like a stalker). Enjoy!




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The Feast

Growing up the Christmas Day feast centered around a turkey with all the fixings. As an adult, our meal consists of prime rib, scalloped potatoes, and a lovely array of salads and sides. At one time we also included ham for those that weren't prime rib fans, but we've either converted people or they take the ends, which are cooked more.

The funny thing is, I can't remember when or why we started having prime rib, but I'm certainly happy with the decision. I wish I could take credit for the meal, but my contribution involves frog-eye salad, slicing potatoes for scalloped potatoes, frying bacon for the green bean casserole, and making the pretzel salad. The heavy lifting for the meal is handled by J and she does a fabulous job (although every year she stresses about getting it done enough without overcooking it).

The excitement over the anticipated meal is building as the days count down. I'm just grateful I'm a grown-up and DON'T have to eat the brussel sprouts. I'm off to dream of prime rib and other delights.

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'Twas the week before Christmas

And the packages are shipped!! Time for the happy dance. Best part, it didn't cost an arm and a leg to ship everything. I think I'll need to try this again next year :)


Life is good!

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It wouldn't be Christmas...

There are so many things that symbolize Christmas (spiritual, humorous, fun, celebratory, etc.). This post looks at the lighter side of what celebrating Christmas means to me.

It wouldn't be Christmas if...

  • I didn't start listening to Christmas music on November 1 (I get my iPod set up when the trick-or-treaters stop coming)
  • We didn't watch the movies Elf, Muppet Christmas Carol, and The Christmas Story
  • We didn't make cookies or gingerbread houses with kids, which means cleaning the house before they get there so everything looks nice and then cleaning the house after to remove the stickiness
  • I wasn't wrapping and shipping presents to my brothers the week before Christmas
  • We didn't experience at least one White Elephant gift exchange
  • We didn't start decorating AT LEAST a week before Thanksgiving (that way when December arrives, we can enjoy the decor - or that's the story I'm sticking with)
  • I wasn't begging on New Year's Eve to leave the decorations up until the weekend after
  • We didn't attempt a Christmas photo with the dogs
Barkley, Cleo, and Mabel - 2002

Mabel, Gracie, and Hazel - 2011

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To Snow or Not To Snow?

One of the things I love about living in Utah is the chance of a white Christmas. I recognize that I can celebrate Christmas without the white, fluffy stuff, but there is something so perfect about finding piles of glistening snow on Christmas morning.

The problem is there are no guarantees and as much as the weather people try to predict it, they don't seem to have a clue either (until it shows up).

But I am definitely dreaming of a white Christmas. We've had two storms that have produced a significant amount of snow, but they had big gaps between them with warm days that melted the accumulation. But hope lives on and I have fingers and toes crossed that Christmas will dawn with an amazing covering of white goodness!

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New Traditions = New Treats

Over the years we have made a menagerie of gingerbread houses (some were technically graham cracker houses). We loved this tradition and looked forward to it every Christmas. As the Wheatley kids got older, we still enjoyed this tradition but one year switched to making cookies. The next year, we decided to make goodies for the Wheatleys to give as neighbor gifts. I poured through my cookbooks and found a variety of options. Boy did we have fun!!

Since then, we have continued this new tradition with a twist. Each year the kids picked a favorite from the previous year and then I added a couple new items. We've made:

Melted Snowmen sugar cookies
Oreo Snowmen (similar to these)
Nutter Butter Reindeer (similar to these, but with two pretzel antlers)
Plus, we've made Corn Pop Candy, spritz cookies, Peanut Butter cookies with Hershey Kisses, and other fun stuff.

I can't wait to see what we pick this year. I've heard rumblings of the Oreo Snowmen making a comeback. Good times!!


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Gift Wrap

I love to shop, but wrapping the gifts is one of the necessary items on the list to do. And yet, I have pinned many a beautiful wrapping idea on Pinterest. Given enough time, and energy, I can wrap a gorgeous package. So why don't I? Time, energy, I have no idea!

But just like other paper products (scrapbook paper, cards, etc.) I am attracted to it and find it very hard to resist buying. And I like buying ribbons and bows to match, not that they get used.

So yes, I have an addiction. And while my wrapping jobs would not grace a cover of Martha Stewart, they use lovely paper and usually have a coordinating or at least a matching tag.

Here are a few of the wraps I dream of including in my package decor some day. Enjoy!

Brown paper wraps tied up with ribbons (The Haystack Needle)
Lovely sheet music and bling (Paige Smith Designs)
Button tree - LOVE it! (Decoratrix)

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My Christmas Card to You

Merry Christmas!

I'm amazed how quickly the year has passed. The puppies have grown from cute bundles of energy to 50 pounds of energy. Mabel has decided that the puppies aren't so bad, as long as they don't wrestle around her, then they need to be put in their place.

At work I made it through an exciting year of scrapbook conventions where I saw lots of friends, bought supplies that I still need to use, enjoyed teaching a few classes, and worked with amazing people. Work also brought change as I switched from the Events team to editorial just two weeks ago. I will miss working with everyone in Events but look forward to new challenges with editorial.

On the home front, I learned to knit, which I'm not very good at or very speedy, but at least I'm trying. We vacationed at Disney World and Harry Potter World in September with Brianna and Dayna and had a blast. Harry Potter World was all we had hoped it would be. Fishing wasn't spectacular this year, but a few trips were taken. We celebrated K's 50th birthday with a fun backyard get-together.

And so another year comes to an end. 2012 was a good year and I'm looking forward to 2013. I hope you had a wonderful year and your holidays are filled with love and memories.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

The hounds send their Christmas wishes to you as well!

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Gifts of Christmas Past

It's amazing how memory works. I can remember the Christmas I received my first bike - blue with a little white basket. I remember the doll from my childhood that I loved as if it was a real baby. And I remember a beautiful cabinet my grandfather made to hold my tea sets. And yet I can barely remember the gifts from the past few years. Yes, I'm getting older, but is that really the reason?

What I do remember are the feelings from each Christmas as we open presents together and then later with extended family. The excitement and hope that what I am gave someone will be enjoyed. Trying to capture that perfect expression in a photograph and hoping it isn't blurry. And then sitting together afterward enjoying each other's company.

And so I will continue to remember the past, meaning my childhood, and keep the feelings of the recent past tucked away in my heart, because that's what really matters at this age.

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The party is here

Each December we play host to two holiday parties - an office party and a family party. The great thing about these parties is there isn't much to plan.

The office party is a large group - managers and guest (about 38 people total). We have dinner (everyone brings something - we provide the house) and then engage in a rousing White Elephant gift exchange. The gifts brought over the years have been memorable. One year it included hub caps from one of the attendee's truck that another attendee took off when he arrived "late" to the party. Then there was the year that things were taken from offices in the company and regifted, which prompted a lot of labeling of items the next year with tags such as "take this and die." The one rule is no animals because of a mouse incident and a beta fish. It is a loud and very fun evening with a few gifts worth taking home and the usual list of suspects that you know will show up at a future party. This is the party that motivates us to finish the decorating as quickly as possible because it is usually held the first weekend of December.

The family party is on Christmas Eve and the participants vary depending on who is in the area and who is visiting family in other states. The menu is the same: homemade pizza, chips and dip, seven layer dip, chicken nuggets from Chick-fil-a, chilled shrimp, orange frappe to drink, and a variety of desserts. This party also includes a White Elephant gift exchange that has provided a plethora of stories over the years. There was the year that granny ended up with the Monthly Doos calendar (pictured below). Or the ever stylish maxi-pad slippers. But the best is the gift that keeps on giving - Homer Simpson boxers that are accompanied by a photo of the previous year's recipient. There's always a few musical type toys that the kids love (singing Santa or carols that are mooed instead of sung) and gift cards that make less appealing gifts the target to acquire.

The calendar Granny ended up with
Close up of the Homer Simpson boxers
Once the gift exchange is over, we move to a more refined celebration that includes singing a few favorite carols and recently has the kids acting out the story of Christ's birth from Luke in the Bible.


These parties are some of the things we look forward to in December, but it is also nice to sit and enjoy a quiet evening with just the Christmas lights on and Christmas music playing. Balance is a good thing, especially during the holidays.

One note, after writing this I noticed a theme - White Elephant gift exchanges. Hmmm, might need to incorporate other types of parties. Nah! They're so much fun!!

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Advent Calendar

In October when I was at Gardner Village I found this adorable Advent Calendar (I have since seen them in two other stores in Utah - Sprinkler World and Evan's).






It comes with colorful pockets (already put together in four designs), cards for each day (plus several extra), and cards with instructions and supply lists. Each card contains an activity and scripture for the day. If you use the kit as is you fold the cards, stick them in an envelope, and string them on the red ribbon (also provided).

I decided to take it a step further and add additional decor to each envelope. It was fun decorating and I used up a lot of my stash.



I sent this to my brother's family for them to enjoy this holiday season and hopefully future holidays. Because you can remove the cards, you can change up the order each year and even mix in the extra cards to vary things up.

I recommend this kit - it was simple and fun, even if you don't add extra decor to the envelopes.

Happy Holidays!

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Visiting Santa

I remember visiting Santa when we were young in his little red house with white trim around the roof, windows, and door and a small, wood porch on the front. It was about the size of a small playhouse - enough room for his big chair, a black bucket with mini candy canes. and a little table. The little red house originally was located at the back of the lumber yard and later moved to a place on the way out of town (that I thought was totally random as it wasn't really associated with a business, but I was older then so I didn't care as much).

I don't ever remember waiting in line to see Santa - we usually just walked up and sat on his lap (Paradise wasn't a very big town and was mostly retired people so there weren't tons of kids). I also don't remember telling him what I wanted for Christmas, but I'm sure I did because I remember going through the catalogs to mark the pages with things that looked promising.

I do remember thinking how cool it was to see Santa. And I loved getting a candy cane. I feel bad that kids these days don't get a candy cane - that seems like the quintessential thing to get from Santa! Christmas as a child would not have been complete without a visit to Santa and his cute, red house.

This isn't the exact house, but pretty close to what I remember. Ahh, the memories!!


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Welcome December

I can't believe December is here already and yet, at our house it definitely feels like December. The house is decorated (well, except the rest of the ornaments on the last tree downstairs), the lights outside come on automatically now, and the kitchen counter graces a selection of candy and goodies.

December is my favorite month! It is full of traditions, color, festivities, and love. I look forward to once again recording the events and things I love about this month through words and photos.

Welcome December and bring on the fun!

Words to live by:

"I will honor Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all the year." (Charles Dickens)

"What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more." (Dr. Seuss)

"Christmas, children, is not a date. It is a state of mind." (Mary Ellen Chase)

"The best way to spread Christmas Cheer, is singing loud for all to hear." (Buddy the Elf)

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." (Luke 2:14)

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Traditions Revisited

Over the years much of the joy of the holidays involves children - nieces and nephews. The problem is, they grow up and the traditions change to accommodate their ages. One of those traditions was creating gingerbread houses. It was a yearly activity that we looked forward to as did the kids.

Tonight we started a new era of the gingerbread tradition and boy was it fun! Each child had a house (pre-built), a cupcake tin of candies and goodies, and a baggie of frosting. The two year old was fascinating to watch as he analyzed his options, sorted his goodies, and created a rather balanced design. The eight year old created a beautiful house with a high level of creativity. The six (almost seven) year old didn't like the frosting on her fingers, licked them, and then couldn't figure out why the candy kept sticking to her. Her creation was lovely as well with a definite design.

It was a wonderful way to spend a Friday evening and I am grateful for the rebirth of a beloved tradition. I also look forward to future years of decorating gingerbread. I am so blessed to have family member's who are willing to share their children.

Here are two pictures from tonight's activities.







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Technology rocks

I have traveled for a significant part of my working life and have watched technology change over the years, which makes staying connected so much easier.

Today I was able to keep up on work projects/emails between my laptop and cell phone. I could text home photos of the Powerball tickets I purchased (don't ask). I called home to chat about the day and as a bonus talked to a whiney Hazel (she didn't talk back but I could hear her whining for a treat).

I am truly blessed to have so many options for staying in touch. It makes my life easier and helps me not feel as far away from home. I am grateful for technology and the many ways it adds to my life.

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Old is new again

As I mentioned a week ago I have switched positions in the company, which I'm excited for this new challenge. Yesterday I moved from my old office to a new office - officially called "The Cave" because there are no windows and it is long and skinny. But I'm fine with this location and actually really like it - I'm not big into fluorescent lights and so using lamps to light my office is a fun thing (and yes there have been references to vampires when people come into my office because of the lack of light).

But the really cool part is that the desk I had when I was with Paper Crafts magazine is the desk in my new office. It was so fun to sit down to a desk that I had used before. A desk that feels familiar. A desk that welcomes me to my new assignment.

I am grateful to have an old friend back in my life that will support me in my new job.

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Leftovers for dinner

Leftovers are a wonderful thing! They don't require cooking - just reheat. They are often times better than the first time. And they give you something to look forward to. We had beef stroganoff yesterday for dinner and enjoyed leftovers tonight, which meant no cooking for anyone.

I am grateful for meals that can be eaten more than one day and thankful to not have to worry about what to eat for that second meal. Plus, it tasted as good tonight as it did yesterday!

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Nylons and dresses, oh my!

Today's gratitude item may seem weird, but at this point in my life, it is a big deal. I am so very grateful that I don't have to wear nylons and/or a dress every day. Today was the first day I've been to church since my surgery (didn't want to take the scooter buddy with me, but today I could handle walking in and out). What this really means is it is the first time I've worn nylons in a month.

Putting on nylons is always an exciting experience. But imagine doing that while trying not to put weight on one foot - not an easy task. But I succeeded with the nylons, donned the skirt, found one of my flat dress shoes, and off to church I went.

Here comes the second problem with nylons/dress situation. The boot on my foot is secured in place by long velcro straps. They work beautifully, but they are not friends with nylons. I accidentally touched my nylons twice with my boot - those nylons will not be worn again.

So I'm grateful that for work I can wear pants (mainly jeans) so that I don't have to buy nylons on a daily basis :) Some times it is the little things in life that bring such happiness and today was a reminder of that.

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Holiday treats

Well, really what I mean is candy, but I guess some are treats too :) I love the candy and goodies that come with the holidays. The scale doesn't and my pants don't, but there is something lovely about mint M&Ms, Peppermint Bark Dove pieces, Almond Roca, Ghiradelli Peppermint Bark, Mint Truffle Kisses, and Chex Mix (I realize that Chex Mix is available year round but I rarely eat it except during the holidays).

And this year, I'm on the hunt for a couple elusive treats - Gingerbread Creme Oreos and White Chocolate Peppermint M&Ms. I've seen them advertised but have not found them in my local haunts. But I did snag a bag of Peppermint Muddy Buddies that I can't wait to break into.

Could I survive without these treats? Absolutely! Do they add to my life? Most definitely! Chocolate is a great soother. And so I'll enjoy my candy and treats during this holiday season. I'm grateful I live in a country with such indulgences and that I have the means to buy the things I enjoy. Once again, life is good.

P.S. I thought this image was appropriate :)


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Happy Movies

Spent a quiet day at home (except for the running to get new tires, oil change, and car inspection). We watched a few favorite movies on TV - Nanny McPhee, Frosty the Snowman, and Nanny McPhee Returns. Such heart warming shows - a little cheesy at times, but lovely sentiments. There's nothing better than a feel good movie.

I'm grateful that in these crazy times there are things to watch that can lift the spirit and bring a smile to my face. And who doesn't love those adorable Bassets in Nanny McPhee?? What a wonderful day.

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Traditions!!!

Traditions are those things that make life cozy, comfortable, and give you something to look forward to. The holidays are full of traditions - favorite foods, activities, people, etc.

Today I am thankful for Thanksgiving traditions - mincemeat pie, dinner at Harriet's, frog-eye salad, homemade rolls, Mom coming to dinner, spending the day decorating, watching football, and more. These are the things that make the day special. I am grateful for all my many blessings and the opportunity to reflect on all that I have. Happy Thanksgiving!

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Time...

Today I'm grateful for time. It comes in a variety of ways:

  • Time with friends - shopping, catching up on favorite shows, eating at favorite restaurants
  • Time with loved ones - sharing stories from the past, shedding tears together, looking towards the future
  • Time with the hounds - playing, snuggling, watching their antics
  • Time alone - peaceful evenings, reflection time, reading a book
  • Eternal time - the knowledge that I will be reunited with loved ones, that life goes on after this time on earth, that this is but a short time in the grand scheme
I pray that I might use my time wisely and I'm thankful for this time in my life.

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Memories

I was asked to spotlight my mom today, which meant going through photos to find a smattering that represented her life. As I picked through the books and stacks of pictures I was flooded with memories - holidays, playing with my brothers, the snow storm that took out the power, fishing and camping, college days, and so much more. There were also photos that brought a touch of sadness as I thought of what might have been, others that made me laugh out loud at how ridiculous I was at times, and then others that made me smile just because.

I am grateful for these trips down memory lane, even if they do bring up emotions that I may not always want at that moment. And I'm thankful for the many things I've experienced that have created these memories.

Here's a blast from the past photo compliments of my brother Casey. Enjoy your trip down memory lane!


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New adventures

Today I started a new adventure - I moved from the events team to editorial to be the Digital Managing Editor for Creating Keepsakes magazine and Paper Crafts magazine. I am so excited!!

I loved working on the Events team. I met so many amazing people at the conventions and events I've attended. I've worked with amazing exhibitors. And I've shopped a lot :)

But it was time for something new and this position was to good to pass up. Plus, I'll will continue doing one of my favorite things - teaching at events. I am so grateful for the various jobs I have had over the years that have given me the skills I have and the confidence I need to try new things. I have been blessed to work with wonderful people, learn so many things, and enjoy what I do.

I am thankful for those that are willing to let me stretch my wings, give me the opportunity to be the best I can, and share in my passion. I am one lucky girl! Here's to new adventures.

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Helping Others

Today I had the opportunity to help a neighbor with a computer issue. It wasn't a big deal, but she was so appreciative. Better yet, I left feeling so good - I had shared something that I could do with someone else and it had helped them.

I know that losing ourselves in service is far better for us, but it is good to have a reminder. I am grateful for the opportunities I have to help others and pray that I will find other ways I can serve and lift those around me.

P.S. And yes, I realize that service is a never ending circle - it makes me feel good so I serve someone else and when they feel good then I feel good again and serve again. And yes, I am the one who truly benefits, which in some ways makes serving selfish, but I know it is the right thing to do no matter how I feel.

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Expanded Family

I have been blessed to be part of several families that I was not born into, but feel as if I were. They have acted as mother, father, sister, brother, friend, and more over most of my adult life. In a time when so many families are experiencing struggles it is good to be surrounded by so many that care and love me.

One of these adopted families are dealing with a new cancer diagnosis. My heart is breaking and yet as we visited this amazing man today chatting with him was a comfort as he talked about the wonderful life he has had, his desire to not draw out his life but let it come to a natural end, and that he looks at dying as a part of the process and a new adventure. He also spoke of the work he'll do in the next life, the loved ones he will be reunited with, and his knowledge of a Heavenly Father that loves him. Yes, there were tears, but only because we will miss this man more than words can express. At this point we don't know the time frame. But I do know that I am a better person because of my association with him and the love he has shown me. I do not look forward to the day when he will pass, but I am grateful to know that he is at peace.

So today my heart is full as I have thought about the many "family" members in my life, whether they are part of my birth family or those that have graciously adopted me. I am so very, very thankful!

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A good nights sleep

Some nights you sleep good, other nights not so much. Last night was a wonderful nights sleep and what a difference it makes. I am grateful for a comfy bed, lots of pillows, and a ceiling fan that keeps my room cool (because I like to burrow in the blankets), which all factor into a good nights sleep.

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Wonderful, lovely vacation days

Most years when I get to this point in the year I either am scrimping on my vacation time or trying to figure out how to use what I have left. Our company does not allow you to carry over vacation time, which is fine, but I typically end up with about half my days to take in a six week period.

That is the case this year and tomorrow I am taking advantage of this surplus and taking a vacation day. There is something so wonderful about knowing that I don't have to set my alarm for the morning or think about what to wear to work or dream of the weekend, because the weekend is here!!

I am grateful for my wonderful job and so thankful for the vacation time I am allotted, but even more grateful to be taking one of those lovely vacation days tomorrow. Oh the joy of it all.

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Contemplation

It's not like it was a bad day, but this week has been very long and so today I'm grateful for time to contemplate life and review the things I have that make my life wonderful. I am truly blessed - a beautiful and comfortable home, surrounded by people that love me, a good job that I enjoy, hounds that are excited to see and be with me, and so much more.

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Tired puppies

Today was a puppy day care day, which Gracie thinks is the bee's knees! She is the socialite of the facility and starts fussing as soon as she realizes she gets to go. But the best part is the evening after - the puppies are so tired that they eat their dinner, do their business, and then settle in for a long winter's nap. They might wake up for a quick romp at around 9:00, but it doesn't last long.

It's a peaceful night as they each pick a spot, curl up, and sleep in their variety of contortions. Ahh, nothing like a quiet evening, for which I am very grateful. Love these sweet babies.

I love that they still pile on each other when they sleep. The ride home today.

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Unexpected gifts

I had to work half the day today but K and J did not (Veteran's Day). When I got home, I had two unexpected gifts from their day of shopping - a new insulated cup ('ve dropped mine multiple times in the past two weeks and it is cracked) and a necklace & earrings (the Christmas variety). It made my day!! This time of year I wear a different Christmas jewelry combination each day. The new pieces - a cute snowman that is either a necklace or pin and matching earrings. Can't wait to wear them tomorrow.

Some days it's the little things, like unexpected gifts, that make the day extra special. I am grateful for these fun perks in life and for the wonderful people that think of me and know how much it will mean to me.

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Quiet Sundays

I'm grateful for quiet Sundays at home. For time to knit, play with the hounds, be with loved ones, and relax. Quiet is a good thing. Thanks!

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Sleeping in on Saturday morning

I admit it, I love to sleep in. For me, the perfect day starts with no alarm and waking up when I'm ready. I can stay up late, but mornings are not really my thing. This morning, I got up and fed the dogs and then went back to bed. It was delightful!!

I am grateful to live with people that understand this need/love and only occasionally harass me for this indulgence. I'm also grateful for Saturdays when I don't have to set an alarm. Life is good!

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Beautiful, peaceful snow

Oh the loveliness of snow falling. It brings out the child in me as I dream of making snow angels. Watching the snowflakes softly flutter to the ground is mesmerizing. And watching the hounds bounce through drifts as they frolic in play makes me smile.

I am grateful for the moisture snow brings for the coming spring, but more importantly, for the beauty it provides in the moment. Today I give thanks for snow.

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Recovery, slow but steady

A little background about how this title came to be.

I had a bone spur in my left heel and after months of cortisone injections and limited relief surgery was the next step. As I waited out the summer/fall travel season I was scheduled for surgery the end of October. During the summer I also hurt the muscle/tendon in that same heel and re-injured it multiple times.

Day of surgery, showed the doctor a couple of bumps I had on my heel as well that were not from the bone spur. Two hours later he reported that the one hour bone spur surgery turned into an additional hour to repair a partially ruptured achilles tendon. The good news, it wasn't a total rupture. The bad news, no weight placed on that foot for several weeks.

I'm in a boot now and working to stretch the muscle/tendon so that I can place my foot flat on the floor, but until then, I'm slowly working to get it flatter in the boot. Today, I only have one lift in my boot and I can put limited weight on it while standing. Say hallelujah!!

I know that it will still be several weeks before I'm out of the boot and fully healed, but this small step towards recovery has me very thankful.  Life is good!

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Grateful to learn

I took the first half of a knitting class about three weeks ago. I was concerned about whether I would pick up the skills or not since the two friends I took it with learned to knit AND perl and I barely managed to knit - a meager four rows in two hours. Tonight was the second part of the class and even though my friends moved on to new projects, I stuck with my scarf with a promise from the teacher that she'd teach me to perl before the evening was finished.

I'm proud to say that not only can I knit AND perl, but I finally got the hang of cast on - something that took me about a half hour to do in the first class.

It makes me feel good to know that I can still learn things and I'm grateful for patient people that are willing to teach those of us with a desire to learn, even when it is a slow process.

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Christmas Music Sing-a-long

When I need a quick pick me up, singing at the top of my lungs is the perfect fix. And this time of year, a Christmas music sing-a-long is just what the doctor ordered. Lots of traffic on the drive home, but singing "Merry Christmas Darling" with Karen Carpenter makes the time pass effortlessly. The only problem, there are times I can't sing along, like this afternoon as I was stuffing ticket envelopes at work in a shared office (the perfect boring activity to sing while doing) and so I have to watch myself so that I don't create an embarrassing moment.

Regardless, Christmas music makes me happy and I am thankful for the bright spot it provides in my days over the next few months.

P.S. - my Christmas playlist has 276 songs. My favorites - Josh Groban, The Carpenters, SHeDAISY, Voice Male, MercyMe, David Archuleta, Lady Antebellum, and Johnny Mathis. What's on your playlist?

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My own car

Cars are wonderful things, until they quit working. My car died last Wednesday and today it is fixed!! I am grateful for those that gave me rides and shared their cars so I could get to work the past few days. But today I am so very, very thankful for mechanics that can fix problems and grateful to have my own car back.

I think the puppies will be grateful tomorrow when they realize having my car fixed means they are headed to daycare (their favorite activity of the week).

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Corn Chip Scented Basset Babies

There's nothing like a Basset waking up from a nap - they smell of corn chips! They are snuggly, warm, and so adorable. And this is the case for our lady Basset as well. Love having one or more of them cuddled up next to me and am grateful for the comfort and love they provide.

Gracie and Hazel - they love sleeping with each other

Mabel sleeps near wherever you are

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Getting Lost in a Good Book

There are times that escaping to a good book brings such joy. I love finding a story that draws me in, keeps my interest, and is intriguing. The only problem, I want to read all the time! But that's okay, I can pace myself and enjoy the journey. I am grateful for wonderful story tellers that produce books I enjoy reading.

Love the way John Grisham tells a story!

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Grateful for Home

Home is...

  • comfortable
  • a place I belong
  • where I unwind
  • filled with people and pups that love me no matter what

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Gratitude - it lifts my heart and soul

In this month of thankfulness, referred to as November, I have chosen to reflect on the blessings I have. The funny thing is, this week has been a rough one and so identifying the blessings in my life reminds me how good my life is instead of wallowing in self pity, which was not part of the original plan but definitely a benefit.

And so I'll attempt to capture the people, things, events, and more that make my life meaningful and oh, so wonderful. And no, these will not be listed in any particular order but rather influenced by the events of the day.

Today I realize how many wonderful people I am surrounded by. People that are willing to help when needed. Those that are willing to pick up and do what I can't do for myself right now. Loved ones, friends, family, co-workers, and strangers. My heart is filled with gratitude and my eyes with tears as I think of the acts of kindness received this week and especially today.

Image from Remodelaholic and Lexiphilia

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Blogging Utah Style

Friday evening I had the wonderful opportunity to attend my first Utah Bloggers gathering. What a wonderful bunch of women! Everyone was kind, welcoming, and easy to talk with.

The gathering was held at Gardner Village, a lovely group of homes converted to a quaint shopping area in West Jordan, UT. We started the evening enjoying delightful appetizers from Archibald's Restaurant (fried green tomatoes, fried avocados, and spinach dip). After picking up my name badge, bag, and card to mark the stores I visited, I headed out. As a bonus, they said we could take pictures of anything in or outside the shops, so I took advantage and captured a few of my favorite things.

The following photos are in no particular order and I apologize to the stores that I photographed items from but can't remember which store it was (if it isn't written down....).

The Gathering Place - we wrapped up the evening here with prizes, a chocolate fountain, and lots of chatting.

Adorable tea set - reminds me of tea parties from my childhood.

Pine Needles is an adorable sewing and stitching store and I LOVE this cute Basset. Might need to warm up my sewing skills.

Elegant chandelier at the Sassy Babies shop and it isn't just a decor item, you can buy it.

Beads, beads, and more beads at The Bead Farm. Love the clear jar storage.

The Cottage Retreat Salon & Spa was inviting and relaxing as evidenced by this clever corner shelf display.

Another adorable dog found at Pine Needles.

The Naborhood Bakery caters to humans with their cupcakes, rolls, cookies, and other delights. But how could I pass up doggy treats for the hounds? The review - snarfed in two bites!

Halloween decor was everywhere but the purple ribbon around the door caught my attention at Aunt Elsie's Trinkets.

Love the dress form especially as a creative way to display jewelry.

Plum Dandy had something for everyone and everything was displayed so invitingly.

Sassy Babies had the cutest clothes - too bad there are no baby girls in my life right now cause these ruffles and adorable tights were calling to me.

Down to Earth is a store I have frequented often over the years. This leaf pillow captures the essence of the season.

Dried oranges in clear glass reflect the color of the season as did so many items displayed at Country Furniture & Gifts. This store is a favorite and never disappoints.
Seeing these Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls transported me back to my Grandma's house and spending nights there. Georgell Doll Shop had an incredible variety of dolls.

Love the saying, but it was the cool, purple background that caught my eye.

Loved these over-sized pumpkins and their wavy lines for depth and definition. Highlite Photography was decked out for the season and a friendly place for a quick photo shoot.

Yes, more beads from The Bead Farm. Oh to have so many beautiful, purple beads displayed so inticingly.

Walking amongst the Halloween decor with so many excited and pleasant women definitely put me in the mood for fall and the mood to shop! I bought an adorable Halloween bracelet, fudge for home, doggy treats, and an Advent Calendar kit that I'll use for a Christmas gift.

Many thanks to Gardner Village and the many shops (each store gave us a little something to remember them by and my bag was stuffed by the time the evening was over), My Craft Channel (Lori Allred), and the wonderful group of women I associated with throughout the evening for creating an inspiring evening. I can't wait to attend another gathering. And thanks to The Bead Farm for donating the prize I won. It almost seemed unbelievable when my name was called for this prize - can't wait to shop!

One last thing, I did go to every shop at Gardner Village and took photos of something in each shop. Unfortunately, my photography skills are still developing and so several pictures did not turn out. My apologies to the stores that I did not post photos of something from their shop. It wasn't that I didn't enjoy what you had to offer it was my lack of skills.

Sweet dreams and may they be filled with creativity!

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And the Unity Stamp winner is....

I want to thank everyone again for all their wonderful comments this week. Like I said several times, I thoroughly enjoyed the excuse to create this week and especially to use Unity Stamps on my creations. It definitely has renewed my desire to include creative time in my week.

And as promised, I picked a winner from the comments left this week. This person gets two Itty Bitty stamps from Unity Stamp Company. And the winner is......


shuggy

She said...    i love this! so pretty!

Shuggy, send me your email address and I'll get you set up with Unity Stamp Company.

Have a lovely rest of your weekend wherever you are.

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Smashin' It!

The first time I saw a Smash book at CHA Winter a few years ago I instantly fell in love. Funny thing is, I just recently acquired one, but it was worth the wait - I LOVE it. I can doodle, stamp, capture ideas, save fun things, and so much more. The possibilities are endless.



Today's project shows inspiration pages from my book. One side is inspiration related to a design to try. The other page are quotes, images, and doodles to look at when I need inspiration or a lift to a day.

Unity Stamps have amazing quotes/thoughts! They speak to me and lift my soul. They remind me of what is important. So stamping them in my Smash book is like a personal card to myself. And who doesn't like receiving an uplifting card?

I also like having a place where I can capture ideas and record things to use later. Because I have to confess, my brain doesn't remember things as well as it used to so if it isn't written down, it likely won't happen. And how many times have you looked at a stamp and thought "Oh, I should .... using the color...." I know I do. So why not use the stamp as a way to capture that idea in your inspiration journal or Smash book or whatever you use to record you ideas?

Here's a close up look at the quote page - I even did a little watercoloring on the butterflies. The pages are nice and thick so they handle the water beautifully.


I also found a fun way to use my baby Sharpies that I have in about a dozen colors - love those cute, little pens! Perfect for doodling.

I hope you've enjoyed these projects as much as I've enjoyed creating them. One thing for sure, it's made me rededicate myself to setting aside time to create. I need it - it fills that inner need to express myself.

Here's your last reminder that I'll be selecting a winner from the comments left this week to choose two Itty Bitty stamps from Unity Stamp Co - you have until midnight tonight to leave a comment. I hope whoever wins enjoys Unity's stamps as much as I do.

Happy Friday! Enjoy your weekend and try and find a little time for creating.

Supplies:

butterflies, Faith hope love, Believe deep down, You deserve happy, Imagine dream fly stamps (October 2011 Kit of the Month; Unity Stamp Company)
Never let yesterday's and Don't forget to love yourself stamps (April 2012 Kit of the Month; Unity Stamp Company)
Pinwheel and Smile giggle laugh stamps (Smile, Giggle, Laugh; Unity Stamp Company)
Watercolor pencils (Staedtler)
Waterbrush (Kuretake Co.)
Perfect Little Black Dress ink (Hybrid Ink; Clear & Simple Stamps)
Lavendar, purple, light orange, pink, blue pens (Sharpie Mini)
Doodle Style Smash book (K&Company)

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Tag Your Addiction

I understand that the first step in overcoming an addiction is admitting you have one. Well, I have a few, one of which is ribbon. Unfortunately, I have admitted this addiction many times and yet I still find the need to save scraps of ribbons from gifts, packages, and any other item containing the beloved piece.

This is a picture of my "traveling" bag of ribbon. I have jars at home containing scraps (organized by color) and ribbons on spools line my work area as well as other jars containing smaller spools. But, I do use my ribbon stash so I'm hoping that justifies my need to acquire every pretty piece/style I come across.






Now that I've explained this addiction, let me show you how this factors into today's project. I'm in St. Louis for a scrapbook convention and so my ribbon "travel" bag came with me. And deep in the depths I found the perfect ribbons to finish the tags I created.


These tags take advantage of stamps from the December 2011 and April 2012 Kit of the Month stamps. And I used one of my favorite stamping techniques - watercolor. And before you start saying to yourself how hard watercoloring is let me tell you about my watercolors - they are pencils and a waterbrush. The pencils allow me to color around the edges to add shadows and highlights. I don't have to be perfect - more pencil in some places, outside the lines in others. I then use the waterbrush to pull the color from the edges to the middle of the image, thus creating the shadows and highlights. It truly makes me feel like an artist!

The best stamps to use for watercoloring are line drawings or open designs because they provide areas to color. That doesn't mean you can't use solid stamps (notice the Made with Love stamp), it just means you have less areas to color.

I love each of these tags, but the poppy (you bring me sunshine) tag truly speaks to me. I love poppies, well actually I love flowers. And flowers are the perfect design to watercolor. And while I love pinks and purples, the oranges of poppies make me happy and fills me with sunshine - which is why the sentiment I used seemed perfect.

The jar, well it offers multiple possibilities and the stamp set comes with three labels. But don't let that limit your creativity. I have visions of filling this stamped bottle with actual buttons on a project. Another addiction I have - collecting buttons.

Tomorrow wraps up this week of creating with Unity Stamp products. Come back tomorrow for the final project. And thank you so much for all the wonderful comments. And remember, feel free to point me in the direction of some of your creations. I love seeing what others create!

Supplies:

Jar, thank full, heart with flowers, and made with love stamps (December 2011 Kit of the Month; Unity Stamp Company)
Poppy and you bring me sunshine stamps (April 2012 Kit of the Month; Unity Stamp Company)
Watercolor pencils (Staedtler)
Waterbrush (Kuretake Co.)
Perfect Little Black Dress ink (Hybrid Ink; Clear & Simple Stamps)
Vintage Photo Distress Ink (Tim Holtz; Ranger Ink)
manila tags
ribbon pieces


Size: 2 1/4" x 4 3/4"

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About This Blog

My posts are random. They cover a variety of subjects, but are mostly about things I enjoy, am inspired by, or catch my attention at that moment. I don't ever want to offend anyone by anything I write. This blog is a way to express myself and the interests I have. I hope you enjoy what I share.

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