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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Random Thursday

Life is slowly returning to normal in the Queen house.  Dennis is working Tuesday through today and then another four day weekend for him before he's back to 12 hour days.  After eight days in Hawaii and two four day weekends, I think normal life will be difficult for him.

This is how Chloe is recuperating after the weekend romping with Polly and Tucker.  They are really lovely dogs and very well behaved, but she was exhausted from all that playing.  And yes, we let her on the sofa, but notice the sheet covering.  It catches most of the dog hair!
 I don't remember if I've already shown you this picture, but if I have, please humor me.  It's rare that I get more than one child together at a time.  From left to right, son-Jamie, hubby, granddaughter, me, grandson, daughter-Mandy and son-in-law-Brad. Tucker is the black lab, Chloe in the middle and Polly a yellow lab on the right.  See how small Chloe is?  We had a wonderful time!
This is a wreath that Mandy taught me to make last summer. I keep forgetting to show it to you.  It uses one old paperback book and a wire coat hanger.  I love it!  I used a duplicate copy I had of a Debbie Macomber book.  Have you ever read her books?  If you knit, you'll love her Blossom Street series.  She even includes free knitting patterns in the books!

I made this ipad cover the day hubby bought me the ipad last week.  I used one of my Mom's buttons from her button box.  My mom died when I was 29 and I inherited the button box.  Everytime I get into the box, memories rush back.  I think the cover turned out well, don't you think?  It only took about 4 hours to make.  The pattern is a free download on Ravelry if you want one yourself.

Well there it is, a few random thoughts.  This morning I visited my friend in the nursing home.  She was not in a happy mood and nothing I could do cheered her up.  Some days are like that, but most are still good.  Then I took a big bag of baby hats to the local hospital.  The nurses ooohed and aaahed over them and were so grateful.  It's cold up here in the northwest and those babies need hats to go home!  It makes me feel good to see their faces and know they appreciate them.  I do a lot of knitting for online groups, but those items are all mailed away.  Sometimes it's fun to actually see the faces of the recipients.

Tonight is our annual Bible Study potluck and gift exchange.  We always do it after Christmas so everyone can relax more.  Usually it's in January!  This year we're squeezing it in before the end of the year.  It's always at our house and we have about 20 people here.  I supposed I better get off the computer and start cooking or my food will be the only food not prepared in time!

Happy New Year and Blessings to all of you in the coming year.

Betsy

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Back to real Life?

Well.  Christmas is over.  I wish these few days could go on indefinitely.  It was so lovely to have our oldest, Mandy and her husband Brad here along with our son and Jamie and his two children. His wife Crystal stayed home with strep throat.  Alex was in Japan, of course, but we talked to him on both Christmas Eve and Christmas morning.

Our church had a wonderful Christmas Morning service with the song service consisting of all Christmas carols.  Such a great reminder of why this day is celebrated.  Glory to God in the Highest and Peace to All Men on Earth!

We had a HUGE dinner of turkey and all the trimmings, ending with apple pie pumpkin pie, chocolate pie and pecan pie!  Our good friends Neal and Jenny came over to share pie with us in the evening.  That has become our tradition since moving to Spokane.  Our kids grew up together and loved sharing whatever had been given to them for Christmas.

A few pictures for you.  Remember---I am NOT a photographer.  I just snap the picture and run!

Here are the two cutest grandchildren in the world with the angel cookies grandma made for them.  They are so easily pleased at this age!
This is what we woke up to on Christmas Eve so they decided to help Grandpa shovel the driveway.  We didn't have three shovels, but they found brooms worked too!


Poor Jamie.  The first entire day he was here was spent updating our computer equipment.  That's what happens when you live so far away.  Things pile up and then he has lots to do, but luckily, he loves computer stuff.  Kind of like a "busman's holiday".
 Our beautiful daughter Mandy.  If you ever need a nurse in Portland, OR, she's the one to see!
 All three of our dogs!  Mandy's golden lab-Polly.  Jamie's black lab-Tucker.  And our little British Lab-Chloe.  They all love each other and are very well behaved.  The kids loved to play with them all and believe it or not, even with all the dogs and kids, nothing was broken!
 The entire family except Alex and Crystal.  Not bad, we even got the dogs in!
 The grandbabies with their Hawaiian necklaces we brought for them. Kyleigh loves her new "Old Navy" hoodie I gave her.  She even wore it to church over her pretty dress.  We got clothing in Hawaii too, but it will have to be a warmer day to model those!  Sundresses and short sets don't mix well with snow and 10F temperatures.
 These two kids absolutely love Mandy's husband," Uncle Brad".  He's a pretty fun uncle.  He even lets them look into his nose, eyes and throat with the flashlights that Santa put in their stockings!  Flashlights are the best gifts you can give little kids.  [They're eating the last two sugar cookies, I ran out just as everyone was leaving yesterday.  Perfect timing, none left for me.  :-)]

Thursday night is our Bible Study Christmas potluck and gift exchange and then the job of putting all the decorations away for another year.  I'm trying very hard not to sucumb to my usual post holiday let-down.  I had planned to go to the nursing home this morning for a visit, but woke up to 5 inches of snow.  My car gets around very well, but I hate being the target for others to slide into me if I don't HAVE to go out.  So today will be dedicated to washing mounds of sheets and towels from the weekend!  After I shovel the driveway out.  So I better get moving.  I would love to see some of your holiday pictures too.  I hope you enjoyed our family Christmas.  We're a pretty informal group.  We open gifts in our jammies and just like to be together.

See you soon.

Blessings,

Betsy

Friday, December 23, 2011

Almost Christmas Eve.

Ahhh.  How nice it was to wake up slowly this morning.  Dennis is off work until Tuesday and no alarm went off.  We slept until almost 8:00 when he had a call from Nigeria.  It was nice while it lasted.  He's now off to the church for some last minute details for the Christmas Eve service and I'm about to begin pie baking.

I loved the message from you Kaylana.  What a wonderful way to live.  I love travel and meeting new people.  Now that Alex will be living in Tokyo it will be easier to go visit him.  No more bullet train, local train and car to get to him.  I don't remember if I told you that he has a new job beginning in February.  He will be translating at Keio University.  It's the oldest private university in Tokyo.  He won't be teaching anymore, but maybe in the future an opportunity will arise to teach there.  He's very excited, although he will miss the many close friends he's made in his years in Aomori Prefecture.  Sometimes it's hard for me to remember that he just turned 23 last week.  He's accomplished so much in his life already.  Much more than I have!

Jamie, (our son from Montana), his wife Crystal and our two precious grandbabies are arriving this afternoon.  Our daughter Mandy and husband Brad will drive from Portland, OR tomorrow.  Brad is working in North Dakota right now and will fly to Portland tonight.  I wish Alex were here and I would have all of my family in one place.  That rarely happens anymore.  But I will count my blessings and enjoy the family I do have here.

A friend was over last night and he and Dennis got my Ipad all set up for me.  I Love, Love, Love it already.  I wasted almost an hour this morning playing with it!  I've downloaded several book and I'm trying to find some cool knitting/crocheting applications.

Okay-last pictures of Maui.  Thanks for being patient with me and allowing me to post these. It's like reliving my time there.

I love the trees on Hawaii.  The way they frame the ocean.  The first two pictures are of beaches just off the highway.  They are scattered up and down the coast. Just pull over, swim, stand-up paddle, surf or snorkel.  It's wonderful.  Usually picnic tables and grills are there along with the wonderful smelling portable toilets!


 I have no idea what these flowers are.  But I think they're beautiful and purple is my favorite color of all.
 I couldn't decide which of the following two photos to include so I just put them both in.  We were sitting in the Kool Kat cafe having lunch one day in Lahaina.  The building is the Best Western Hotel just across the street from the Banyan Tree that takes up the entire city block.  The ocean and bay is directly behind the hotel.  This is the area that the tsunami from Japan hit last spring but we didn't see any residual damage at all.  I love sitting up in the cafe and people watching.

 Our last full day on Maui we went to Fred's, a mexican restaurant right on the beach.  No, we didn't take our pictures in the cut out but I thought it was cute.  If you like really spicey Mexcian food, Fred's is the place to go.  I don't.  Dennis got both of our lunches.  It was highly recommended by people we met in the hot tub at the condo so we decided to give it a try.  The atomosphere was fabulous though.
 Here we are, ready to say good-bye.   Never ready to say good-bye, but at some point reality sets in!
 I bought a starfish all glittered and shells glued on. It was made by school children in Lahaina for a fundraiser for the school.  The little girl I bought it from was the cutest thing!  The sparkles don't show well but it's very slivery with glitter.  And yes, it's a real starfish.

Then, of course, because I collect angels, Dennis bought this one made of native trees and grasses.  It was at a bazaar under the Banyan tree with all of the proceeds going to the food bank.  A worthy cause and she's beautiful.
And,  one last sunset.  Our last night on Maui.  Very sad to go, but maybe next year???

I'll be back next week with Christmas pictures.  May you all have a very blessed Christmas and I pray you'll all have a wonderful time with family, friends or traveling.  Thanks for being my blog friends.  Maybe someday we'll even meet in person.  Wouldn't that be wonderful?  I always say, you can never, ever have too many friends and loved ones.

Blessings to you all,

Betsy

Thursday, December 22, 2011

More Hawaii and Christmas Cookies!

Good Morning Everyone!

Thank you for the comments yesterday from Olivia, Carol and Kaylana.  It's nice to know people are really reading the blog, otherwise it gets boring just talking to myself. I do enough of that already!  You all have such interesting lives.  Olivia in beautiful Bavaria!  I'll bet Christmas is amazing there.  Kaylana in Latvia.  May I ask what you do that you live in such exotic places all the time?  And Carol, I'm so happy to hear about the little one being so much better and will be able to celebrate Christmas with you and the family.

It's been a busy couple of days around the Queen house, preparing for 2 adults kids and their spouses and 2 grandkids too!  No big deal-the cookies turned out terrible!  It was my first time with a new sugar cookie recipe. I mixed the dough last night and refrigerated it overnight just like the recipe called for.  They were supposed to bake 5-6 minutes and when I checked the first batch after 4 minutes it was already burned.  I still have to ice the remaining ones, but I'm not optimistic.  It's okay, I can always throw them out and run to the store.  In years past I baked about 20 different kinds of cookies every year.  Now that we're alone, Dennis and I do NOT need all those cookies so I hardly ever bake anymore.  I did want to give the grandbabies their own sugar angels from Grandma though.  Oh well.

Last night Dennis surprised me with my Christmas gift early.  I thought our gifts to each other was the trip to Hawaii, however he presented me with an ipad last night.  I charged it overnight and just tried to set it up.  I'm so horrible with techy things, I can't even turn the thing on.  Thank goodness our son is a systems analyst and great at all things computer.  Hopefully he can get it all going for me this weekend.  Now....I have no gift for Dennis.  Can you believe he said my gift to him is just loving him for all these years?  How did I get such a WONDERFUL man?  I am truly blessed.  He said the ipad will be easier to keep track of all my knitting patterns and blogs.  He has one for work and loves it.  I think lugging around the laptop for vacation made him decide to get something smaller for me.

Okay, with no further ado, more pictures of Maui!  Of course we need to begin with yet another sunset because I do love the sunsets.

 Here we are at what is called the "whale nursey" of Maui.  It's just off Maalea Harbor and usually there are many whales and babies, but this year we didn't see any.  It was still beautiful but we missed the whales.  Taking pictures of yourself is always an adventure.  Arms out, head up, (or down).
 No whales, but beautiful nonetheless.
 This sign is at the pull-off.  I'm sorrry it isn't easier to read.
 Another of us at the Banyan Tree in Lahaina.  The tree takes up the entire city block and is amazing.  I know there are a lot of pictures of us, but normally we take lots and lots of the scenery and none of us.  We decided before we left that we would take more of the two of us.  Our son in Japan has requested pictures of family this year because he misses all of us, so we decided to try to provide some from the trip for him.

This is the view from upcountry.  We were on our way to the Ulupalakua Ranch and winery.  The previous picture was taken just around that curve at the top left of the picture.  The condo we stayed at is one at the very right of the buildings in the middle of the picture.


 
This is the view from upcountry, of the island Molokini.  Lots of snorkeling and turtle watching out there.  The building you see is the Maui Prince.  This is the last hotel on the southern coast of Maui and the first place we ever stayed on Maui about 11 years or so ago.  It's very quiet and every room has a partial ocean view.  Very exclusive.  Very golf resorty.  We could never afford to go there now.  It's been sold and the new owners charge almost FOUR times what we paid for our room.  Isn't the ocean beautiful?  You can just make out the cinder cone on the left.

 The next two pictures are the Tedeshi Winery on the Ulupalakua Ranch.  It's the only winery in Maui.  Although we really aren't drinkers, they make a pineapple wine that you can't get anywhere else. Isn't it pretty decorated for Christmas?

 This is a picture of the black lava flow from the 1700's.  The road ends just past this.  Well, it doesn't actually end,  but there is a section so rough that it makes your rental contract invalid if you drive on it.  Who can afford to pay for the car if it's damaged?  We never go past this point.  If you could continue, you would be on the road to Hana.
 The cinder cone by the Maui Prince Hotel with the black lava beyond it, then the ocean.

  That's it for today.  A few more tomorrow morning for you and we'll be all done!  Tomorrow I need to bake pies and prepare the celery, onions etc. for the stuffing.  I try to do as much as I can before the kids arrive so I can spend time with them, not cooking.  Then I'm going to make my homemade noodles and chicken for dinner tomorrow night.  It's my son's favorite dish and I always make it for him when he comes home.  I do love to cook for my kids!

Hope your preparations are all going well also and you remember to make time to think about the reason we celebrate!

Blessings,

Betsy

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Finally! Pictures!

Whew!  It's been a busy morning.  Of course, when I went to the grocery store yesterday I forgot several items for this weekend when the kids will be here.  Must have been jet lag!  So this morning I was off to the grocery store at 6:30 a.m.  Then I had to shovel the snow out of the driveway when I got home.  I then vacummed and dusted the entire house, wrapped gifts and I just finished ironing 12 of my dear husband's shirts.  I had most of the gifts wrapped before our trip, but of course we  found several new things for our grandbabies and some small gifts for friends.  Tomorrow I'll clean all the bathrooms and finish last minute preparations.  Friday morning I'll bake the pies and the kids will arrive in the afternoon!  I'm so excited to see them all!

Mid-morning by best girlfriend called needing an emergency babysitter for her granddaughter.  Kaydence is six years old and out of school for the holidays and her mom and dad are both working.  Grandma had to work this morning unexpectedly so they were in need of a babysitter.  Kaydence helped me wrap presents and we walked to the mailbox together to mail the last of the Christmas cards.  She liked holding Chloe's leash while we walked.  She's now watching a Christmas video.

So with no further ado....some pictures from our trip.  I'll spread them out over the next few posts so I can enjoy the vacation longer.

Aren't the sunsets beautiful?  This was the view from our condo's lanai every night.  We would eat dinner while watching the sunset.

 Sorry for my husband's slicked back hairdo.  We had just been swimming and our hair was still somewhat wet!
 This is a more natural hair style for him.  But now he's squinting into the sun!  Never can get a good picture.  The one below is me doing the same squint!!!! These two pictures were taken at the black lava flow on the south end of Maui.  I think I read that it was from an erruption in the late 1700's.


 This is the living room of the condo.  Doesn't Dennis look excited there at the table.  We were playing a dice game called Farkle.  I'm standing by the lanai door.  The kitchen is there behind the breakfast bar.  Stainless steel large appliances except for the almond colored range and all the small appliances and dishware you could possiblly need.  There is a washer and dryer down the hall to the left.

 King size bed  and lots of closet space on the other side of the room.
 This is the floor of the shower.  Aren't those little swimming turtles cute?  They look like they're swimming toward the drain!  The walls and ceiling of the shower have the same rocks.  It's beautiful
 A few more pictures of the sunsets!  I took pictures every evening because they were just so beautiful.  It was hard to believe that Christmas was only a week away.  I'm used to snow, snow, snow at Christmas.

This was in Lahaina Town where we had lunch one day.  They had live music in the courtyard playing both Hawaiin music and Christmas music.  They were really, really good.  I wanted a CD of them but they were sold out.  Don't the Christmas decorations look strange with the sunglasses and green plants?

More pictures to come tomorrow.  Please let me know if they are boring to you and I'll try to cut back on them.

Hope your Christmas preparations are all going well and I'll be back soon!  Kaydence is getting restless for her lunch so I need to run.

Blessings,

Betsy

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Home Again!

I guess it's time for real life again isn't it?    Eight days on Maui was wonderful but now it's down to the wire for Christmas!

I'll try to post some more pictures of our trip tomorrow but for now I'm just passing through to let you know we made it home safely. 

Our flights were both late, (of course), so we didn't get home until after midnight.  Dennis had to be up at 5:00 a.m. to go to work so it was a short night for him.  I've been up and running since 6:00, laundry, sorting mail cuddling the dog.  Then it was errands. The post office, bank, grocery store, nursing home, drug store.  I'm finally home and it's almost time to think about cooking dinner.  Tomorrow should be a stay at home day to clean the house and bake a little.  The grandkids come on Friday so there's no time to waste.  We bought all of them a few things in Hawaii so there's more wrapping to do to!  Whew!  I'm tired just thinking of it.

Back tomorrow with more pictures. 

Blessings,

Betsy

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Hawaii


Guess where I am this week?  One guess would probably be sufficient!  This is the view from the condo we're staying in.  Isn't it beautiful?  We're about 30 feet from the ocean!
 I thought this flower was absolutely stunning.  It was by the highway and I made Dennis stop so I could take a picture of it.  Flowers are absolutely everywhere!
These next two pictures were taken on the Road to Hana of Elvis Presley fame.  There are 617 curves and 67 bridges on this highway that is about 60 miles long.  The drive can be very scary at times but the views are worth all of the "white knuckle" driving.
We're having a wonderful time and have three more days here in Paradise before we have to return to the cold and snow in Spokane.  I'll see you all again next week!

Blessings,

Betsy



Friday, December 9, 2011

Some Pictures for You

Well, I've suddenly found myself with a few spare minutes.  I've packed all that I can, until I do the last minute laundry tomorrow, (you know, undies and such!).  Little "Miss E" is asleep right now too.  Very unusual.

My blog friend Teresa posted some pictures of some of her favorite ornaments the other day and I thought I would do the same.  I hope you enjoy them.  Most of the bloggers I read are such good photographers.  I am not.  My photos tend to be dark, blurry and cut off.  But, there it is, the best I can do!  :-)

This nativity scene is 47 years old.  It was given to me by my Sunday School teacher when I was 4 years old!  The wooden star behind it was made by my husband's cousin for us the year we moved across the country from them.  Each piece was hand cut and burned.  It makes the perfect backdrop for the nativity scene otherwise it tends to get lost in the tree.

This knitting basket was a gift from a friend last year.  Isn't it cute!  Knitting needles, yarn, buttons and thread.  Even a pincushion!

 This angel was made for me by Alex when he was 4 years old in 1992.  I cherish her.
 This angel was made for me by my son Jamie when he was 3.  He's now 28!  It has graced the top part of our tree for 25 years now.  It's one of my favorite ornaments.
Jamie also made me this pinecone and cardinal ornament in cub scouts.  It's about 9 inches tall without the ribbon!  Isn't it cute though?
 I bought 6 of these glass balls for our first Christmas 33 years ago.  We still have 4 which I think is doing very well since we've had 3 kids, many pets, grandchildren and a home daycare!
 This picture and the one below is of a sea shell angel a group of Japanese students gave me in 2003 when they stayed with us for the holidays.  They each wrote a message on the back.  Unfortunately without Alex I have no idea what the messages say!  I should have written it down in English when I was told what it said.

This is a little snowman "tree" that has each member of our family on it.  Dennis and I are at the top.  Jamie and his wife Crystal are middle left.  Mandy and Brad are middle right.  Bottom left are Caleb and Kyleigh our grandbabies and bottom right is Alex.  All alone.  I have more snowmen/ladies to add as more are added to our family.  I think it's cute and the grandbabies love to play with it when they're here.

As you can probably tell from these few pictures, I absolutely love angels.  I have several dozen of them around the house.  I love knowing that there are angels watching over each of us.
That's it!  If I can get the computer to work I'll try to post some vacation pictures while we're gone.  If I can't, I'll show you when I return.

ALOHA and have fun preparing for the holidays!

Blessings,

Betsy