Sunday, December 21, 2008

Saturday, December 20, 2008

A Christmas Tea With Friends Today I invited the ladies from work for a Christmas tea at my place. I had so much fun preparing everything, decorating and setting the table. On the menu were scones, cucumber sandwiches, sun dried tomato pesto chicken mini pitas, prosciutto & asparagus sandwiches, checkerboard cookies, pumpkin bread and mini chocolate cups filled with lemon cloud. Mmmmm! We enjoyed a great time of friendship and fellowship.

Emily sent me these beautiful little placecard holders for Christmas. They were perfect for the occasion. Emily you are the best! Remember when we bought this teacup together on my last trip to Texas? Love you and miss you so much. It's nice to take time during all the busyness of the Christmas season to relax and enjoy the wonderful people God brings into your life. Click here to see more pics: Merry Christmas ladies!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Cookies, ants, rain & snow, what a combination!
Yesterday we had our annual cookie exchange with some of the ladies at work. I made Italian Chocolate Spice Cookies. It was a relaxing lunch amidst the busyness of the season. We enjoyed chatting together and looking out the window at the relentless rain. When I got home that night I was in for a surprise. With all the rain (several inches since Monday) millions of ants decided they like the warm and dry inside of my house much better than the cold, wet outdoors! Grace and Jon had dropped by to help set up my Christmas tree so they assisted in the extermination. Ahhhh! I think I got them all but it wasn't easy. On a more cheery note, this morning we were surrounded on all sides by white snowy mountains (a rare sight here in Southern CA!). Snow levels were down to 2000 ft and the air was a crisp 40 degrees when I left for work. Brrrrr! Finally it feels like winter =) This was the view from my dining room window this morning:

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A strange but fun Tuesday...It was around 7:30 this morning as I was getting in the car to go to work that I got a phone call from one of my co-workers. She told me that a transformer blew up causing a major power outage in our office building. There was no estimated time for it being fixed but they were anticipating it would take at least 4 or 5 hours. Wow... and right in the middle of finals week! When I arrived at work the building was dark. Not only had it affected the electricity but also this is the main building with all the network, servers, main frame computers etc. This meant although there was power in other places on campus but the university was completely off line. So with no end in sight we were told we could take off and check back at 11:30. So I took advantage of the beautiful day outside to go with my friend Amy to buy my Christmas tree. I was a sunny bright day and after all the rain yesterday all the surrounding mountain were covered with snow! This was Amy's first time to go to a Christmas tree lot. How do you get your tree in Michigan, Amy?? I guess you actually go cut it down? Who knew! ;) We picked out a beautiful tree, loaded it up in the back of my truck and took it home. We got back to the office just in time for our office Christmas party. We had a wonderful "feast" with all the delicious dishes everyone brought. Abby came with baby Kate! I haven't seen her since she was a tiny little preemie in the hospital. She is doing well and weighs almost 8 lbs now. It was a blessing to share this time with the office family! Power was restored around 1:30 pm with the help of some generators that were brought in. Our work email is still down but hopefully everything will get back to normal soon! Check out all the pictures of today's adventure by clicking here.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

"Christmas time is here..." and a fun busy time it has been. Last Thursday I attended the BBW Christmas tea with some of the ladies from work. They had a local dance troupe come in and perform some Christmas songs. Friday after work I was on the road to Yuma for the weekend. Alyssa, Josh and my friend Frank were all performing in the Ballet Yuma's Nutcracker. Saturday morning I helped Donna with costumes and dress rehearsal. It's incredible how much preparation, organization and hard work goes into putting on a show. Later that evening I was able to watch and enjoy the wonderful show. You all did wonderful and are so talented! See lots of pictures of the weekend by clicking here! I spent a couple of great evenings around the fireplace with family eating and talking until very late. Sunday morning Frank and I went to church together. Pastor Sam had a thought provoking message about angels. After church I got back on the road for the long drive back home. After a quick lunch stop in El Centro to see the kids and enjoy an In-n-Out burger, I made it back in time to go to my church's Christmas celebration "Come Let Us Adore Him". It was an inspiring night of lessons and carols and new songs. I am so amazed by the wonderful talent of all of them!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

a winter wednesday...

sipping pumpkin eggnog...

outside it's cold but no trace

of snowflakes or fog...

sunshine on my face

thinking of what to blog...

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Birthdays and Christmas Parties...
It's been a busy weekend so far. Yesterday our office went out for lunch to Carinos to celebrate Terri's birthday. We always have a good time together. Today my Grace Group from church got together for our Christmas party at the Rolle's. Everyone brought a different dish which made for a delicious dinner. After opening our gifts we brought to exchange (the bronzed dolphine made a reappearance!) we all joined in together and sang some carols. I am blessed to have such wonderful friends in my life!

Speaking of wonderful friends, my dearest and best friend Emily's birthday is tomorrow... Happy Birthday!! I love and miss you!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The holiday season has begun!

Today especially I can say that "it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas" as Biola held a Christmas lunch for all it's employees. The food was really tasty, especially the risotto and the veggies. The theme this year celebrated Biola's 50 years in the neighbourhood of La Mirada. President Corey did his best Mr. Rogers impersonation and the carolers entertained us with their songs. I am so glad to be able to work here and have great friends to work with too!

Monday, December 01, 2008

A Happy Thanksgiving
On Wednesday afternoon with my pies baked and safely stored in the cooler Grace, Jon and I loaded up my truck and drove down to Imperial. We caught a little rain along the way but otherwise it was a nice drive down only hitting some bad traffic on I8 as we were leaving San Diego. It is so wonderful to be able to get together for this special day! I think this was the first time in 18 or 20 years that we were all having Thanksgiving together. What a blessing! Also joining us for dinner were Frank, Jon's parents, Greg's mom, Monica's friends from Georgia. The grand total was 24 =) From ham & turkey, to the green beans and mash potatoes we all had a delicious meal. After dinner we took a nice walk around the neighbourhood to a little park. The kids (and kids at heart) had a fun time playing together at the play ground. Later we all played some card games and dominoes and had round two of pie and ice cream. Friday morning the Martins and Lozanos took off for San Diego for the day and Grace, Jon and I headed on to Yuma for the weekend. We had a lot of fun hanging out, eating, playing pool and enjoying each others company. After the kiddos were in bed the adults played some Poker. (My first time!) So there I am trying to remember what all the hands are and all the rules and some how I ended up winning every ones chips in the end! I don't know if the boys liked that too well ;) Saturday morning I went with Greg and Donna to watch Alyssa do a small performance of her part in the Nutcracker. She is dancing the part of Clara which she did beautifully. I am looking forward to seeing the whole thing in a few weeks when I return. Sunday was the first day of advent. The pastor spoke on the meaning and importance of keeping the perspective and meaning of the season in our hearts as we get ready to celebrate Christmas. When I woke up Sunday morning there was a song going around in my mind... "T'is so sweet to trust in Jesus". I think this has been one of the best Thanksgivings I have had. I am so thankful to the Lord for my family and friends who give me so much happiness and love. Click here to see all the pictures!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

On Sunday, November 9 we took a "Water Taxi" to the islands of Murano, Burano and Torcello. They are about 40 minutes away from Venice. Murano is famous for it's glass factories. Unfortunately because we were there on a Sunday the factories were closed but we enjoyed walking along the canals looking at shops and ate a wonderful meal. The it was off to the island of Burano which is famous for it's lace and very brightly painted houses. It is an amazing sight even in the waning light of the late afternoon when we arrived. After watching the sunset we took the boat again to go to Torcello. This is a tiny island that is inhabited by only 20 people. It was very eerie to get there after dark and walk around a completely desolate island. We didn't see a soul! The old church has some ruins in front of it that date back to Roman times. After walking around we hurried back to catch the boat. Christine who was always walking ahead of us made it on board but the rest of us got left behind. So we had to wait about a half hour for the next one and hope Christine was not "lost in Italy"! We didn't want to get stuck there since there was an transportation strike scheduled for the next morning =) Needless to say we made it safely back to Venice. Click here to see all the pics!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Visions of Venice Our next stop on the trip... beautiful Venice. We had a relaxing train ride through the countryside. There nothing like this city surrounded by water. The first thing you notice is that there is no noise coming from cars or motorcycles. It is a little more laid back. After a grueling long walk from the train station dragging our heavy luggage up and down many steps and little bridges we made it to our lodging place, B&B Corte Campana. Our wonderful amazing friendly host Riccardo was there to welcome us with a big smile. The place is beautiful and is 600 (?) years old and very close to Saint Mark's Square. After settling in we walked over to the square and and enjoyed a nice walk along the water. So many things to see this week... from the Basilica and bell tower to Doge's Palace, San Zaccaria Church to the Naval Museum our days were full of great history and awesome sights...and of course gondolas around every where. I'm hoping to get more pictures up soon. In the meantime you can enjoy some picture albums here: Pictures of our day trips to Verona, Murano, Burano and Torcello coming soon!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Rain, rain, go away... please come back some other day. Today we spent the day all about Florence in the rain. Sometimes it was hard and other times just a drizzle. Navigating through a sea of colorful umbrellas we went early to the Duomo Museum and saw the Pieta (Michelangelo's final sculpture) along with other pieces that used to adorn the facade of the church and baptistery. It was very interesting to see some of the art pieces and columns that date back to early 800 B.C. I kept thinking how insignificant that makes our own country's 232 years seem! We caught a bite to eat on the go near the Accademia where a group of little Italian ragazzi were lining up for their field trip. Can you imagine going on a field trip to some of the major art museums when you are in kindergarden?! They were too cute in their little raincoats hlolding hands two by two. After lunch the girls went shopping while Jon did the laundry and tried to catch up on some school work. It's been another long full day in Florence... I can't believe we have been here a week already!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Today we spent the day in Siena. It was a nice ride through the countryside. Siena is unique and has a more medieval feel to it. Of course we saw the main piazza where they hold the Palio (horse racing at neck braking speed) every August. The city is divided into seventeen districts all of whom become "mortal enemies" come palio time. We visited the Duomo, baptistery and crypt. It's late and tomorrow we have lots more to see... I'll try to post some more pics soon!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

In and around Firenze...
After a day in the Tuscan country side and a visit to San Miniato last night we began today by visiting Pitti Palace. It is huge and reminds me a lot of visiting the chateaus in France. Very large and ornate it is also surrounded by the Boboli Gardens. The weather has gotten warmer and the rain seems to have passed. By the time we got out it was so warm we had to go change into something cooler. After lunch we went to Santa Maria Novella and then to Santa Croce (my favorite). The leather school is adjacent to the church. It has been a good day! We are going to go out to dinner this evening to a restaurant right on the Arno River near Ponte Vecchio. Ciao!
Click here for pics

Saturday, November 01, 2008

A Day in Beautiful Tuscany

I've posted some pics on Facebook. I will try to get them all up on Flicker soon!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Fantastic Firenze
Today was our first full day in Firenze. We started off our day with breakfast at a little place called Caffe Latte. I had a delicious caffe latte with a cake covered with homemade yogurt. It was very good. Then we were off to see some of the museums. We went to San Marco then to the Accademia where we saw Michelangelo's amazing David. The highlight of the day was going to the Duomo and climbing the 414 steps of the bell tower (Giotto's Campanile). The climb up was exhilarating and the view from the top was quite breath taking! You could see the city all around and the wonderful panorama. Is it possible to take too many pictures of the Duomo? All in all it was a pretty amazing day. Italian shoes, chocolate, cute guys and gelato how could you ask for more ;) Check out the pictures of our first two days here:

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Goodbye LA, Auf Weidersien Germany and Ciao Italia!
After a very looooong day we traveled from LAX to Frankfurt (big long layover) and finally to beautiful Florence. The flight was good with not too much turbulence. Christine was very excited to get her very first stamp in her passport. After about a 6 hour layover we were on our way to Florence. We arrived around 7:30 pm local time. The weather in Florence was great unlike Germany which was freezing! (Well, maybe not "freezing" but you know me). The transition from airport to taxi was pretty luggage lost. Our taxi cab driver was the very capable and cute Milco who despite all the rush hour traffic navigated us through the maze of minis, smart cars, yarises, and motorcycles to our hotel in the center of town, Soggiorno Magliani. It is very close to the Medici Chapel and Mercato Centrale. After getting situated at the hotel we all went for a walk around town to see Florence at night. We saw the Duomo, Ponte Vecchio, walked along the Arno river and ate some amazing yogurt and kiwi gelato. Can't wait to see Florence again in the day light! I'll be posting pictures soon.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Apple Picking at Cedar Glen
Yesterday I spent a wonderful day up in the mountains near Lake Arrowhead. Megan invited me to go spend the day with her family and go apple picking. The day was beautiful and sunny and we had a great time picking many many apples. There were red, green and yellow ones. After our bags were brimming full we went back to the house. I think the last time I picked apples was when I was 8 years old... way back in the seventies!!! Later we drove to Big Bear and browsed around little curiosity and antique shops. It was a very fun and relaxing day. I'm so thankful for great friends! Check out all the beautiful pictures here:

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Bocce Ball & Chick-fil-A for Lunch Today all of us bocce ball tournament participants got together for lunch thanks to the friendly folks at Chick-fil-A. Thank you Linda!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Miracles... big and small
On Saturday bright and early Grace, Jon and I hit the road to drive down to El Centro to see Timothy and Monica's new house. Yes, it has been a big and exciting miracle how despite all that is going on in the economy and housing market they were able to sell there house in Georgia, move to California and finally buy a new house. The Lord is good and we have seen his hand every step of the way. It was wonderful to see God's provision and faithfulness. After a great lunch together and helping them unpack the U-Haul truck it was time to head on over to Yuma, AZ. We enjoyed a yummy grilled dinner outdoors and enjoyed a fun evening together. Frank and a couple of Greg's friends joined us for the evening. It was very fun! Sunday after church and lunch we drove back to El Centro on our way home.
Monday evening after work a few of us drove over to St. Jude to see Abby, Michael and baby Kate. She is a tiny little miracle that is continuing to grow and get stronger every day. What a blessing and answer to prayer! We got to look at her through the glass window and see her get weighed, bathed and dressed.
You can see all baby Kate's pictures here

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I watched a beautiful sunrise this morning... and thought about how with so many uncertainties and economic chaos it is good to be reminded that kingdoms come and go but the word of the Lord stands forever. He is our refuge and strength in times of trouble. This past week has been going by so quickly! In less than two weeks I'll be going to Italy on vacation...can't wait!! But in the mean time there is lots going on. Last weekend Grace joined me in what has become an October tradition for me...picking and juicing pomegranates. They were very big and extra juicy this year. We picked quite a few of them and got about 10 quarts of juice and still had some fruit left over. We all took turns at juicing. Even Jon joined us on Sunday afternoon! It's a messy job but the fruis tastes so good! I am making jelly from the juice and have already done about four batches and have a few more to go. This week we also had the bocce tournament finals which had a very exciting finish. You can see pictures of the tournament here. I feel very blessed to live and work where I do. Today the girls at work took me out to lunch for Bosses Day. I am thankful every day for each one of them and all they do!