it's beginning to look a lot like christmas...

finally -- usually this is up the day after thanksgiving -- can't miss out on a day of the christmas season...which for me, is the day after thanksgiving til new years day --- none of this beginning christmas after halloween for me.  i love thanksgiving.  it always gets the short end of the stick since it's only really lucrative for the turkey farmers and the tofurky people -- (although this year i bought a field roast celebration loaf -- vegan deliciousness -- i love tofurky too, but they were out when i went shopping).  even though starbucks brings out their holiday lattes at the beginning of november -- i don't have one until the morning of black friday -- it makes my shopping experience even better -- 

anyways -- so we put up christmas tonight -- we trekked out to the shop and gathered the boxes and bags of christmas decorations.  i don't know what i'll do when i don't have kim -- it really is a two person job i've decided -- or else your exercise for the day.  first we listen to christmas music, then we watch "the grinch"while decorating --it's tradition.

this is only part of it

now it's all warm and cozy and lit...
and way past my bed time

p.s.  interesting story #3 -- it's 5am -- walking out to your car when confronted by a lady asking you if you live in your house.  she's just making sure you aren't a burglar casing houses in the wee hours of the morning as your neighbors house was burglarized over the weekend.
she is doing neighborhood watch and is concerned for her neighbors --you are now aware of the increase in crime rate in the neighborhood -- she's lucky that you don't think that she was taking a look at your house in the wee hours of the morning -- or was she??  sad how hard it is to trust folks these days isn't it -- but that's a whole other post...

p.s.s  i live with three big dogs


a weekend of giving thanks

 it was a good holiday -- even if i have been sick the whole time.   finally feeling a bit better than i was --thank you thank you to the cough syrup.  this thanksgiving was spent with jon's family.  our nephew came over to hang out a few nights ( he is on break from school ) -- x-box and movies -- maybe a few tacos too.  on thursday we picked up julie and ryan (sister + brother in-law)  and started our snowy drive to grandpa's house.  of course -- jon thought we should begin the trip with coffee and doughnuts.  yum.  even though i only had a bite (resident sickie here ) -- we saw two interesting things on our drive -- first, as we are driving along in the snow - we see oncoming cars suddenly passing a vehicle -- at first it seems they are just a little reckless, but as we get close we see that a mini-van got a flat tire and the driver decided to stop dead in the middle of the road.  excellent.  we turn around and come back to help, about the same time a state trooper arrives on the scene (excellent timing trooper) -- jon went up to talk with the man and see if he needed any help getting his vehicle moved to the side of the road -- to which the man replied -- i can't, i have a flat tire -- hmmm.. jon explained to him that the trooper was going to make him move off the road, but the man still wasn't convinced -- at this point we continued on our way down the road to find a spot to turn around -- as we came back, we saw the trooper had had the man move his vehicle to the other side of the road and seemed to be trying to have the man move further off -- to which the man didn't look pleased and seemed to be arguing his point.  our next interesting scene was a sad one -- however, not one you see everyday -- an older woman, all bundled up, was in her motorized wheel chair attempting to drive through 6-8 inches of snow -- i say attempting because at the point we saw her she was stuck...and a kind rescuer was just pulling up to help her out.  hopefully, she was soon warm, cozy, and safe at home.  we made it to our destination and had a delicious dinner.  so many good things to eat and so very nice to see family who we haven't seen for awhile.  it snowed almost the entire time we were there -- so beautiful (i almost cried when all my snow started melting at home today).  julie and ryan have a new addition -- little miss bella, a cavalier king charles spaniel and mini poodle mix  -- she was lots of sweet entertainment this weekend.  lulu just didn't know what to think of such a little thing.

i emptied my purse today -- i had stuffed it to the brim -- good grief

today was such a busy and productive day.  the kind of day that just lets you breathe a little easier because you know that you accomplished so much.  so needed after 4 weekends in a row of traveling.  

hope your holiday was the best.

the roommates are home again.  homemade baked corn dogs and the bounty hunter -- which is almost over and means that it's time for bed --just as soon as i upload my christmas music to my ipod...


touring seattle with a few of my favorite people

in case you missed it -- this has been our month of traveling -- first to portland, then to colorado, last weekend to seattle and this weekend to idaho and spokane.  i'm not sure who scheduled four weekends in a row of traveling, but i think i'll have a word with them.

seriously though, it has been quite wonderful to be with friends and family.  our seattle trip was quite fabulous.  while it was hard to gear up for another weekend away from home, once off off and away the fun commenced --  might have had something to do with these girls:

kellie, alecia, me, and michelle
i really really really like them a lot

my friend, michelle (and her mom too) might be the best hostess ever.  we were greeted with warm beds, hot tea and fresh pumpkin bread.  saturday for lunch momma thelia made us chile relleno casserole and veggie burritos -- crazy goodness -- and look at these two boys doing the dishes:
troy and jon -- super husbands 

---i like this picture even though it's fuzzy--

next began our tour of seattle sweets -- i haven't really spent too much time in the seattle area, so it's fun to explore new places.  first stop:

my favorite was the aztec chocolate - "moist chocolate cake doughnut is iced with a cinnamon-cayenne chocolate & topped with gourmet chocolate shavings."  -- this is not it -- this is bavarian creme goodness

next came the theo chocolate factory - the tour was full, but we had a great time sampling -- the holiday bars are my favorite -- then jon found the truffles and the salted caramels -- of course we had to bring home a box to share with the roommates.  p.s - they let you sample almost every kind of chocolate they have, plus complimentary coffee and water -- did i mention that they are fair-trade and organic.  amazing.

just up the road from theo chocolates is caffe ladro  - it was frr--eezing outside and a hot drink sounded like it would hit the spot.  we all ordered the same thing in various sizes and shots: i think it was called the medici or something like that -- like a mocha with fresh orange -- not too sweet, just perfect -- p.s. did i mention that they only use fair-trade, organic, shade grown coffee and they make their own bakery items --fresh--daily--yum...

the nice man who's table we invaded took this picture for us

 seattle in the evening

rei -- a really really big one  -- almost as much fun as disneyland...almost -- we spent 2 (or was it 3) hours here  --hmm...sad thing is that we only covered half of one floor during that time -- then we had to leave because we were about to have to declare bankruptcy by rei and we were starving -- only to be satisfied by burgers from five guys  (our new obsession) and a great way to end the evening

we went to another caffe ladro sunday morning for another yummy latte -- did i mention that my husband has suddenly become a coffee drinker -- i am not sure what to think (tonight we stopped by dutch bros to see if they would be open thanksgiving morning -- who is this man i married?)

my sweet friends at the caffe

michelle -- making sure we won't be run over while we cross the street -- the yellow flags are at many street corners in downtown kirkland -- priceless entertainment -- i mean -- safety 

we left seattle about one to make sure we had plenty of time to enjoy the snow and scenery along the pass on the way home :)

so happy we weren't trying to travel back to seattle -- too much traffic -- and an unfortunate someones off road adventure

now it's time for me to head to bed -- i am still feeling like yuck -- i bought cough syrup tonight -- very rarely do i use any meds -- in the hopes that i will be well -- though having two travel days this weekend...  -- oh and i'm losing my voice (first time ever) and i sound like a frog -- an off tune frog

we hope your thanksgiving is full of warmth, family, food, and laughter -- and maybe an afternoon nap

 p.s.s.s  did i mention how much i love love love traveling with my husband -- it's pretty much the greatest -- good thing i married him so we can travel together often!


a lot of love for christmas cards

i woke up this morning at 4am -- 3:48am -- to be exact -- hacking up a storm and with an amazing sore throat.  excellent.

what better thing to do while coughing and blowing your nose than to think about christmas tasks -- specifically, christmas cards.  for the past however many years i have tried to faithfully send out some sort of christmas something to friends and family.  i rotate between a holiday letter, homemade cards, and photo cards.  last year, we sent new years photo cards -- this year is supposed to be homemade cards, but seeing as how i haven't quite got that far yet and it doesn't look promising -- i've been exploring my photo card options.

welcome shutterfly.

i really have enjoyed shutterfly photo services this year.  particularly this summer, when i ordered a lot of prints while in montana.  their website is easy to use, they have great coupons and my pictures have turned out very nicely.  plus they arrive in a timely manner

this year they have some fabulous new christmas card designs --

the classic postcard -- send holiday wishes for less -- starting at .69 per card -- bright colors are in this year and i am loving it.  i also love multi-photo cards because it is always so hard to choose just one picture...

last year i sent out my first 5x7 cards -- i might be hooked.  starting at only .89 --  it is worth the extra .20 and there are lots to choose from -- i chose this one because their are 7 picture places -- 7 -- excellent.

next comes the card -- i just love love love this card.  orange and blue -- plus a cute baby -- i don't have a cute baby -- so my cards won't have quite the same "cuteness" factor -- still -- baby or no baby -- really great card -- modern and fun -- good for those of us who like to occasionally stray from the traditional red and green

 this is such a sweet card -- inside there is room for more photos and words -- i love the simplicity

cards range in price from $2.99-1.49

lastly,  i am especially loving their flat stationary cards --particularly the square ones.  so cute.   priced about the same as a card -- sorry that the pictures aren't as big :(

my favorite for words: love this idea for the top ten moments of the year -- a good way for those non-writers to share your doings -- in short. plus -multiple photos

more links
    ·         holiday cards: http://www.shutterfly.com/cards-stationery/holiday-cards
·         Christmas photo cards: http://www.shutterfly.com/cards-stationery/christmas-photo-cards
·         Calendars: http://www.shutterfly.com/calendars

remember -- one of the best things about shutterfly is that they almost always have some sort of coupon or special offer happening.  right now it is cyber week -- you can get 20-30% off of your holiday cards and 50% off of calendars and photo books through december 1 -- did i mention how big of a fan of photo books i am -- this summer i made 4 -- fantastic gift idea -- it is quite possible that this weekend i will make a few more and take advantage of this great deal -- and maybe you will too!

p.s. --  shutterfly is giving 50 free photo cards to bloggers who blog about shutterfly (form is here) -- turns out this is a great deal for a lot of us, especially for me -- since i like to blog about christmas cards and i got my cards from them last year --oh and the best part about getting them through shutterfly last year -- i picked them up at walgreens 1 hour photo day -- they were beautiful and i was able to get them so quickly -- especially good since i can get impatient about such things.  

well -- the schools are running on a two hour delay due to the weather --  i have contemplated staying home sick -- but after lemon water, salt water gargle, and lung tea i am feeling a little closer to human -- let the day begin


seattle + ama's

back from our weekend in seattle.  it was good.  so good.  really really good time with friends who i love so dearly.  time with my husband -- who constantly amazing me with his driving skills and ability to put up with girl chatter and

this boy has done quite well this year -- i hadn't heard this song before, but enjoyed it.  he won 4 awards at the american music awards, including artist of the year:

---make sure to turn off the blog music before playing or it won't sound so good --- unless your ears are amazing multi-taskers


colorado cold

we flew off to colorado on friday. 
our sweet niece, melysa, was baptized on saturday and we were able to be there to witness it.
it was most excellent to spend time with the family -- better than christmas -- which is good, because this year everyone is headed in different directions.
also, it was parent weekend at the academy and we were able to tour the campus, listen to the seniors (nephew nik's class) talk about their senior survival experience and see pictures at vespers and the literature evangelism team testimonies at sabbath school (melysa is on the team and also gave her testimony) - church was blessed with 3 baptisms -- melysa's included.  it was a beautiful event.

nik & uncle jon

melysa's baptism

i really really loved our hotel -- though it was filled to the brim over the weekend and a little noisy due to a swim team or ten of kiddos playing elevator tag on all of the 8 floors -- a military banquet, a warren miller film festival & booths, and the nightly manager's reception - featuring free snacks (nachos, gold fish crackers, chex mix, and m&m's...) and drinks by the fountain.  we were on the top floor.  on sunday night it was quite quiet and jon and i had the entire pool and spa to ourselves.  exercise equipment with t.v's on them.  really excellent smelling soap.  full breakfast included - made to order omelets - confetti vanilla bean pancakes, potatoes, fruit and more...we will return.  

sunday came and the girls were ready for shopping off campus

first came a stop at five guys -- my new favorite burger joint -- best veggie grilled cheese yet.
when we arrived at the mall the troops split down the middle -- boy's to the sporting goods store -- girl's to nordstrom's  --- our family and that store.  almost obsession.  we had a laugh when we came out though, as julie, jeanese, and jon all came out empty-handed --which could almost be classified as unusual.  

monday morning we awoke to winter wonderland

now we are back home - safe and sound -- with a few days off before we head to seattle on friday -- did i mention that we were in portland the weekend before -- somehow our calendar got booked with 5 out of town weekends in a row -- i might lose my mind.


the most expensive pizza

last night was kim's birthday.  we were going to get take-out thai food -- but they were closed.  plan b- homemade pizza.  my job - start the dough.  kim came home with a multitude of deliciousness and new yeast - because the first didn't seem to be working.  20 minutes later -- i decide that the recipe i have isn't complete and that the 2nd round of yeast isn't very bubbly either, but we decide to try it anyways.  a crust pre-bake and a taste test later, kim and i decide that it just isn't quite birthday dinner quality.  i call papa murphy's to see if they will sell just a crust.  they tell me that they can only sell a pizza with sauce or cheese on it.  ok - kim and i decide to go pick some up -- upon arriving, i state my request.  i would like to buy some pizza crust.  i would like to pay for a cheese pizza -- but with nothing on it -- "no, i'm sorry, i can't do that, if i let a pizza go out of the store with nothing on it i will be fired." -- even if i pay for cheese and sauce and you don't put it on the crust -- "i will lose my job, there has to be at least sauce on the pizza crust" -- ok -- i would like 3 pizzas with minimal sauce and nothing else -- he can do that.  ---oh and i have a coupon---  "your total is $19.67"

onward and out the door -- armed with our 3 crusts -- kim and i decide that we will be his story of the night

at home, we made 3 very delicious pizzas:
-- olive oil, mozzarella, brie, fig, and pineapple
--marinara with pesto, ricotta, mushrooms, fresh garlic and basil, and a mozzarella cheese blend
--pesto, with a little marinara, chevre, mushrooms and fresh garlic and basil, and mozzarella

it was a toss up, but my favorite was the chevre -- it is such a strong flavor, it's hard to think about anything else  -- however, the fig and brie pizza was the overall winner and really really delish.

it's ok.  i know you think we're crazy too -- we probably are -- but it was 7:30 and we were starving and had all these beautiful toppings to make our very special pizza on a very special night. -- oh and we froze our "pizza dough" for future "flat bread" pizzas -- as it was tasty but not what we were needing last night.

i have to get ready for work now -- i am 20 minutes past my 20 minutes for this blog post - due to some uploading and surfing of the web --  today i get to wear my sweats to work, eat nachos, and watch the movie "cars" -- it's a hard life isn't it?


7 happy rituals --the link

if you would like to read the full article:

[Live Creative] Current Ezine: "7 Happy Rituals for the Shorter Days of Winter"


just a quick one

today i am taking my lunch break at work so i decided to catch up on some emails that i haven't had time to read. one of my favorites is christine kane -- i get her emails and enjoy spending time on her blog (which is the link i posted). she is a women who wears many hats and i really appreciate her "get out there and do it" motivations --

since it is now dark when i leave work, i have been struggling with evening motivation to get my projects done -- last night i spent 2 hours cleaning and woke up this morning feeling like a new person -- this is partly because the darkness just makes me want to crawl in bed early, and also because we have been so very busy (our calendar has us out of town for 5 weekends in a row) and i have just been plain tired. ---so--- when i read christines's words a few minutes ago, i just had to chuckle because it was a topic i have been pondering --

side note: i really love the changing seasons. i really really love fall. i love during the summer when you smell fresh cut grass, play at the park, walk the dogs, laze around outside riding the bike or reading a book...how the sun shines down on you and makes you wish for a constant popsicle in your hand...how you stay up late and eat fresh produce from the garden - like cucumbers, tomatoes, and zuchinni...and of course watermelon after watermelon -- but then comes fall -- with it's sweaters and scarves, boots and mittens, the warm glow of candles and hot tea every night, a good book, tv season, or movie....with dinners in of roasted root vegetables, soups, and crockpot cooking --or casseroles , don't forget the casseroles-- with smells of warmth and cozy -- or is it just the homemade cookies?
so even though i don't love love love driving home in the dark, i embrace our ever changing world and am finding so much to be happy about -- hopefully you are too -- and just in case you need another little nudge -- here is an excerpt from christine's newsletter -- which it isn't letting me post right now so i will link the full article later -- for now, here is the short and simple list:

7 happy rituals for the shorter winter days
by christine kane -- with comments by sierra :)

1. create a glow -- candles, lighting -- something to make you love that it's dark outside and your warm, cozy and "glowing" inside
2. start a gratitude journal - it's the season of thanksgiving -- how much do you have to be grateful for? --i am going to make one this next week!)
3. feed the birds -- and wake up to their song -- hang those feeders!
4. catch up on movies -- we watch epic movies, and favorite tv seasons
5. morning workouts -- take advantage of the lighter morning hours and get your workout in early in the day -- it's hard to get up, but it get's you going for the day and let's you come home and relax in the evening --this i know, as 5am came quite early for me this mornings...
6. complete a project -- one you have in progress or start a new one -- learn a language, scrapbook, knit, join a book club or take a class
7. get out! -- bundle up in warm fleece, hat and mittens -- take a hike, play with the dogs, -- smell the fresh, crisp air

p.s. -- how is your 21 challenge going??


winner winner!

congrats to marisol!  message me with your address and favorite color :)


21 challenge + sunday morning

happy happy sunday --- especially this sunday -- the one where we got an extra hour of sleep and an extra hour hanging out with our portland buddies...

how is your 21 challenge going?  did you pick something?  here are the links for today and yesterday (or you can start today to and just follow along at your pace :))

day two

day three

remember -- leave a comment (for one entry) and subscribe (for another entry) to be entered into the giveaway -- tomorrow night i will choose the winner and send them something cute to use on their 21 challenge.

alright - i am off to feed myself "australia breakfast" that my friend, melissa, is making for us -- it's a giant breakfast and a movie like  we used to do on sunday mornings when we were going to school in australia -- she bought grand's biscuits in the can, toaster waffles, veggie stripples, and all sorts of other delicious doings.

oh and cupcakes too -- last night we went to cupcake jones -- so this morning we have deliciousness to delve into -- cupcakes for breakfast are the best!

don't forget to enter the giveaway and join in on the 21 challenge!


the 21 challenge + giveaway

it starts today!

i meant to post sooner, but the week just got away from me.... so much going on in the morning and at night and then during the day -- you know how it is.


one of my most favorite design artists, Rhonna Farrer, does a "break a bad habit or form a good one" 21 challenge -- 21 one days to change.

you will find all the information you need if you want to play along here on her website: rhonnadesigns
--if you scroll down and around you can read more about it as she has been posting for the last week or so--

today is the day : day one

also -- on facebook (with lots of links on the side) - the 21 challenge

my 21 challenge is going to be focusing on my family -- i love them so, and want to be sure they are at the top of my priority list!

what's yours going to be?

 i really love this idea and i want everyone to play along -- so i am encouraging you to think about it with a GiVEaWaY!

subscribe (if you haven't already)  and leave a comment with your habit to break or habit to make --- on monday night i will choose a winner (double entry if you subscribe and leave a comment) and send you something fun, and probably adorable, to use on your 21 day challenge!