Friday, December 31, 2010

Last day of the year!

It's the last day of 2010 and although the sun is shining brightly it is cold! Last time I checked at 7:30 AM it was 33 degrees! So I decided that the best way to keep warm this morning (aside from throwing a log into the fireplace) was to bake something. The quickest and easiest was a batch of cornbread...yum! I also pulled out my brand new espresso maker that G&J gave me for Christmas. If you have never tasted Illy coffee then you are missing out! By the time I figured out how to run the machine the cornbread was ready. I served it with some of my pomegranate jelly and voila my last breakfast of the year was ready to go! It looked so pretty I took a picture of it to share it with you.
Yesterday I did a short little hike up to Skyline Drive in Fullerton to see the view. The last rain we had made for quite a bit of snow up in the mountains. Here is a view of the surrounding mountains. Doesn't really look like southern California does it?

Today I am trying to finish organizing all my filing. I have to admit this is one of my weaknesses. I am not good at keeping up with it all so it stacks up all year. Anyone have any ideas to keep this paper monster from taking over your desk? I think the fist thing I should do is invest in a good shredder!I better go and tackle the stacks and enjoy the rest of this beautiful day.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Enjoying A Busy Season!

Twelve days left until Christmas and boy has it been busy! I think I had something going on about everyday last week. In the midst of it all though, I am trying to be more mindful to take little moments to think about what we are really celebrating at this time of year. So here is a little run down of the past week or so...

Cookies! The week began with Christmas Chapel on Monday morning. What a blessing it is to be able to work at a place where we can take off an hour and go hear the wonderful message and music of the season! The following day was the annual cookie exchange at work. This year I made Pioneer Woman's Christmas Cherries and Martha's Rosemary Butter Cookies. Both turned out really yummy! About 10 ladies participated and I went home with a great assortment of cookies to mail off to the troops!
On Wednesday Biola held it's employee Christmas lunch. This year was a little more scaled down that in the past but it was good food and good fellowship time for us all as we all gathered in the gym. The president sang a funny rendition of "My Favorite Things" which I'm sure you can find on YouTube =)
Thursday I had lunch with the ladies from my Grace Group. It was a beautiful day outdoors and we had a nice time talking and watching their little Clara, Lena and Penny play by the fountain.

Friday (I told you this had been a busy week!) was our office Christmas lunch & party. Instead of potluck this year we had it catered which relieved stress for everyone. The food was great and we had a fun time together playing "Pin the Red Nose on Rudolph" and playing "Christmas Pictionary" on the white board.
That evening I babysat the two little Clarks (Kate & Savannah) so Mommy & Daddy could have an evening out. They are so cute!
More food!
Saturday after a lazy morning in my pj's it was time to get ready for my Grace Group Christmas party. I took PW's yummy Green Bean Casserole for the potluck. We had a ham dinner with all the delicious sides and dessert to go with it. For the gift exchange we had to bring something from our house we didn't want anymore. I found a 500 piece puzzle someone had given me a few years ago and happily passed it along to a new owner =) I ended up with a whiteboard calendar organizer... yay for getting organized this coming year!Church!
Sunday mornings in December have been great as we focus on the reason why Jesus came. Last week Erik preached and this week Dave continued the theme. What a blessing to hear them preach passionately from the Word! You can always find the messages online here if you want to take a listen. After the service I headed over to get my Christmas tree. Yes, it did seem a bit strange to be standing in line in 84 degree weather buying a tree, but I'm not complaining! I love warm, sunny weather! By the time it was time to go to the Christmas concert in the evening I had it all up and decorated. I love Christmas!

The Christmas concert at Grace was wonderful. We are so blessed to have amazing worship leaders, song writers and musicians who give us a beautiful gift each year. This year was no different. I left the evening feeling thankful and blessed to be a part of it all.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

"Yet what I can give Him: give my heart"

I woke up this morning humming this carol. I didn't really know all the lyrics so I looked them up. They were written by Christina Rossetti and are quite beautiful.

In the Bleak Mid-Winter

In the bleak midwinter,
frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
water like a stone;
Snow had fallen,
snow on snow,snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Our God, heaven cannot hold Him,
nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
when He comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter
a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.

Angels and archangels
may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim
thronged the air;
But His mother only,
in her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.

What can I give Him,
poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd,
I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man,
I would do my part;
Yet what I can give Him: give my heart.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Preparing my heart to celebrate Christmas

This year as we begin the final countdown of the days before Christmas I have been thinking about some of the old carols and the message of hope and the true meaning of Christmas that a lot of them contain. As I was editing some of the photos I took last month I came across this one that I took at Versailles. It reminded me of this carol that is not sung very often.

The Holly and the Ivy.
The holly and the ivy, When they are both full grown,

Of all trees that are in the wood, The holly bears the crown:

O, the rising of the sun, And the running of the deer
The playing of the merry organ, Sweet singing in the choir.

The holly bears a blossom, As white as lily flow'r,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ, To be our dear Saviour: Refrain

The holly bears a berry, As red as any blood,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ, To do poor sinners good: Refrain

The holly bears a prickle, As sharp as any thorn,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ, On Christmas Day in the morn: Refrain

The holly bears a bark, As bitter as the gall,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ, For to redeem us all: Refrain

The holly and the ivy, When they are both full grown,
Of all trees that are in the wood, The holly bears the crown: Refrain

(Click on the title above to listen to the tune.)

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Thirteen years ago today...

A few days ago as I was in my office cleaning out a desk drawer I came across an old employee newsletter I had saved. What were you doing on Monday, December 1, 1997? I was starting my first day of work as a Data Entry Clerk at the Registrar's Office. It seems like a million year ago and then again it seems like only yesterday. It has been an interesting thirteen years going through the Y2K scare, transitioning to new online registrations methods, new software, new job positions, and then in the last two years to a new ERP system. I have made some lifelong friends and been through some good times and some rough times. I am truly blessed be part of this great office family!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Night in the City

David was in town for the Thanksgiving holiday so on Sunday night Grace, Jon, and I tokk him to the city for dinner. We went to Pizzeria Mozza which is owned by Chef Mario Batalli. We enjoyed three different kinds of pizza and delicious hors d'oeuvres. For dessert we had olive oil gelato! I had never tasted that flavor before but it was great! Come back and visit us soon, David!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving weekend with the family

I just spent a great time in Yuma for the Thanksgiving holiday. The night before I spent it at Mom's and was busy trying out some new recipes (from the Pioneer Woman) to share. I made her Nantucket Cranberry Pie and her Green Bean Casserole. Both turned out delicious. Thanks for inspiring me Ree!

Didn't get much sleep that night because for some strange reason the smoke alarm kept going off. We were up and off bright and early to make the drive to Yuma. All the food we shared together was wonderful. Greg made an amazing ham and a few other side dishes too. I am very thankful for my family and how each one of them is a blessing to my life. The rest of the weekend was spent eating great food, wine, cheese, reminiscing about our trip through pictures and setting up the Christmas tree.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thinking about this week...

As I plan to get together with my family to celebrate Thanksgiving I am trying to make sure I take time to be thankful for the wonderful family God has blessed me with.

In the midst of all the busyness of life and everything going on around us I was reminded this morning to meditate on the things that I so many times I take for granted. There is so much to be thankful for even when we think things might not be the way we would like them to be. I hope this will be an encouragement to you as much as it was for me this morning.

Colossians 3:12 "Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." (NIV)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Au Revior Paris

I can't believe our time in Paris finished so quickly. Our last day in Paris we spent visiting Rodin Museum. It is the actual house he used to live in and the grounds are filled with many of his sculptures including one of his most famous, The Thinker. Inside there were quite a few more and also some of my favorite pieces, The Kiss and The Waltz by Camile Claudel. The feelings and emotions that are embodied in these sculptures are quite moving.
After that we took the metro to the beautiful, old Opera House (the setting of the Phantom of the Opera). It is truly one of the most beautiful buildings we visited. I can't imagine what it would be like to see a performance under the great chandelier and Chagal painted ceiling. It is enough to make you want to dance!
That afternoon we went on a final shopping spree and picked up a few more Christmas gifts. Grace and Jon went to a concert that evening and Abby and I went out to have our final dinner in Paris. This has been a great couple of weeks and I have experienced many memorable moments. So until next time... Au revior Paris... Hello California...

Monday, November 15, 2010


Visiting Omaha Beach today was an incredibly emotional experience I will remember forever. See more pictures here.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Inspired by Monet

Today I saw a man get down on one knee and ask his girl to marry him right in front of Monet's most beautiful Les Nympheas... Imagine getting engaged in Paris, surrounded by this beautiful painting... I guess I can still hope and dream...maybe...

You can see a 3-D tour here.

It's cold and rainy in Paris

This is the view from our hotel window way up in the 7th floor.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Adios Madrid

Yesterday we took the train to Toledo and spent the entire day exploring this ancient city. There are ruins dating back to the Romans. With it's narrow winding streets and alley ways it almost takes you back in time. Click Here To See All The Pics!

We met up with a local guide, Margarita who took us around and gave us the history of the city. Toledo has Jewish, Christian and Muslim history intertwined into the fabric of their history. I really like this city! Here we are at a little place where legend has it if you leave a hair pin here you will find an excellent boyfriend! The little old lady was explaining the legend to us...maybe it will work?
Today was our final day in Madrid so we tried to make the most of it. The palace was closed because it was a religious holiday, a special day celebrating the Virgin Mary and patron of Madrid. The Plaza Mayor was cordoned off and we caught the beginning of the procession that ended in the main square where they were holding an open air mass. Next we went to the archeological museum and saw exhibits from prehistoric bones to Egyptian mummies to Roman scarophagi. It was quite interesting and it was Abby's first time seeing a real mummy! In the afternoon we had lunch at La Cabrera which by far had the best food I've tasted yet in Spain. It was wonderful and we even got to chat a bit with the Master Chef Benjamin who made our food to order. The dessert he created was amazing! It was a great way to end a wonderful visit in this beautiful city. Tomorrow morning we are flying back to Paris. Until then... Adios Madrid!

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Beautiful Countryside, Great Wine & New Friends

We spent the day today driving around several little town near Madrid stopping at a few wineries, a couple villages and even an old abandoned castle. Jaime picked us up in the morning and we began our wine tasting tour at a small family run winery that has been in the same family for centuries. The most exciting part was being able to go waaaaay down into the hand carved caves below where they age their wine. Next we drove to another village and viseted and even smaller winery where the owner still processes the wine in century old giant clay pots. These are no longer made (last ones were made almost 100 years ago) and when they break they are irreplacable. She carefully cares for and produces the wine as it used to be done by her father and grandfather and even farther back. We also tasted some wonderful olive oil there. After that we stop at a typical small restaurant and had a delicious meal of croquetas, sopa, lomo & ternera accompanies by delicious warm pan and patatas. We finished it off with hojaldras con crema for dessert.

The last place we went to was the best. We met the owner of the winery Carlos (who looked incredibly like Anthony Hopkins!). He has a great love and passion for the wine making process and loves to share it. He took us to his lab and explained all the intricacies of the winemaking process. Then we walked across the street and enjoyed a wonderful tasting served to us by his wife. Here's to great wine and making new friends!

See more pics by clicking here!

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Picasso, Tapas & Some Local Culture

Today we walked almost 13 miles, saw two museums, had a picnic at the royal park, came home for a two hour nap and did a tapas crawl for dinner! No wonder my feet are a little sore! First we explored the Reina Sofia Museum of Modern Art for a couple hours. Saw quite a few Picasso and Dali works including the famous Guernica. After that we picked up some food for a picnic and enjoyed that at the Royal Park. It was a clear, sunny beautiful day for a picnic in the park. On our way back we spent a few hours at the Thierry Museum which has quite a collection of impressionist art. There were Monets, Reniors, Manets, Van Goghs and many many more great impressionist paintings.
Back at the hotel we rested and napped for a couple hours then around 9 PM went out and did a Tapas Crawl for dinner. We started at La Casa del Abuelo (Grandpa's House), then went on to La Oreja de Oro (The Golden Ear), and finally ended up at Los Chanquetes. The food was absolutely delicious! From sizzling shrimp and prawns to chorizo and stuffed mushroom to Iberian ham, Manchego cheese and sauteed Bacalao (Cod). At the last place which was all local and no tourists we made friends with Mariano. He entertained us with his pleasant and funny interactions with Jose the waiter. He also gave us some inside tips on local places to visit. It was a good time to share with a local Madrileno. Click here to see more pics!

Friday, November 05, 2010

The Prado and Botanical Gardens

It's 1:20 AM and we just got back to the hotel from another full day in and around Madrid.
Believe it or not we went to a restaurant tonight at 9:00PM and we were the first customers of the evening. By the time we left almost at midnight after a delicious meal of traditional iberian cured ham, wild boar and venison the place was full of regulars. Yes, people were sitting down to dinner at 11:00PM!

This morning we visited the tapestry factory and got to see how they make them. It is a very intricate process and takes a year to complete one all done by hand. The aproximate cost per meter is 12,000 Euros! We took a quick walk through a famous cemetery and then we were off to El Prado Museum. I think if you had a week yyou wouldn't be able to see all the paintings there. After a few hours there we had lunch at a vegetarian restaurant to catch a bite to eat and rest our feet for a bit! We've been averaging about 10-12 miles a day... that makes for some sore tired feet! After lunch we headed over to the botanical gardens for a liesurely walk among all the trees that are changing colors.
In the evening after resting a couple hours we headed out to dinner at Savador's Restaurant (as seen in No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain. It's so interesting to see how many people are out and about the city taking leisurely walks after their late, late dinner. Tomorrow we have a lot more planned so I better get some's 1:30 AM. Buenas Noches!

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Royal Palace, Gardens & Sunset

This afternoon we took a walk over to the royal palace and gardens. It was a beautiful afternoon and the weather was perfect. After a stroll around the grounds we walked up to a hill to see the sunset. It was beautiful!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

A very long travel day

Our travels started yesterday at noon when Bill dropped us all off at LAX. Check in and security was a breeze and then we waited a few hours for take off time. I was on a non stop to Paris while the Grace, Jon and Abby went by way of Amsterdam. The fight was pretty uneventful and I was quite impressed by the well behaved French children. Didn't really hear a peep out of them all flight! Total flight time was 10 hours. I arrived a couple hours ahead and then once we were back togeher we took the final leg to Madrid arriving aroun 8:00 PM local time. All of our luggage made it! After checking in to our hotel and a quick freshening up we went to Casa Labra, a little place famous for it's tapas. It is 150 years old! We had croquetas de bacalao (cod), tapas de bacalao, and a sandwich of queso manchego. It was delicious! to top it off we walked to a famous choclaterie and had churros and chocolate...yum! I guess after being up for over 24 hrs it's time to go to bed. Tomorrow we plan on seeing the Naval Museum and catch a flamenco show among other things... Hasta manana!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Spain & France Here We Come!

The long awaited vacation is here! Abby and I were up late last night packing and deciding what to wear... so many choices... Up early this morning to vote run a few errands and will get on the road in about thirty minutes. So excited! More posts from the other side of the pond coming soon!

Monday, November 01, 2010

2010 October 31 Pumpkins & Pomegranates

Just had a wonderful fun filled weekend with the kids!

Now it's time to pack!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Office Dress Up Day

6:00 AM Alarm goes off... hit snooze three times

6:45 AM Standing in front of my closet contemplating what in the world can I wear for "Office Dress Up Day". I find my snow pants way in the back of the closet and decide to go for it.

7:00 AM Turn on TV to check weather forcast... it's going to be 86 degrees! No time to come up with another outfit so I just decide to grin and bear it or should I say grin and sweat it!

I think the ski ensemble coordinated well with Reggie Strar, our resident polar bear =)

A few other colleagues joined in the fun.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Prayer of Release

"I know the one in whom I trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until the day of his return. 2 Timothy 1:12 NLT
Heavenly Father, I release to You the burdens that I have been carrying, burdens that You never intended for me to carry. I cast all my cares upon You—all my worries, all my fears. You have told me not be anxious about anything, but rather to bring everything to You in prayer with thankfulness.
Father, calm my restless spirit, quiet my anxious heart, still my troubling thoughts with the assurance that You are in control. I let go of my grip upon the things I have been hanging onto, with opened hands I come to You. I release to Your will all that I am trying to manipulate; I release to Your authority all that I am trying to control; I release to Your timing all that I have been striving to make happen.
I thank You for Your promise to sustain me, preserve me, and guard all that I have entrusted to Your keeping. Protect my heart and mind with Your peace, the peace that passes all understanding. Father, may Your will be done in my life, in Your time, and in Your way."
--Roy Lessin (Meet Me in the Meadow)