Saturday, December 31, 2011

So long 2011

Today we will take down the last of Christmas and prepare for a brand new year. I always look forward to a new year, but never more so than this year. I'll be honest, 2011 was a hard year. Lots of changes, uncertainty, loss and sadness. But this much I know... one day I will look back on 2011 and thank God that He allowed it all to happen. But for now, it's daily choosing to trust God, die to self, letting go, trust God, be thankful, forgive and oh yes, trust God. 
I no sooner than published this post when I find this powerful quote on facebook ~ wow!

The decisions you're making today will impact your tomorrows. The way you respond to the interruptions you're facing now will have a bearing on the direction your life takes next. A year from now, a decade from now, a generation from now, you'll know whether or not you've walked with God in a faithful, trusting manner or whether you've left yourself wide open to doubt and bitterness and all the biting regrets of picking and choosing your obedience options. -Priscilla Shirer

So before I go changing my blog banner, I thought I'd give you one more Christmas post ~ the girl's visit the day after Christmas. What a treat to have them both here while their Mamma & Daddy went to a movie. Emolyn immediately had me set up the Fairy House. And that's always followed by armloads of 'pretend' firewood so she can build a 'pretend' fire in the tent. I think she saw that on Pocahontas or something.

And then for the first time, Elsie played dress-up, and let's just say, she didn't like it so much. 

So they eventually settled on a tea party with Pop pop. They love their Pop pop.

Before I sign off I wanted to share something that you might not have thought about ~ the importance of scanning old negatives and slides. I've sort of become a rescuer of old negatives and over the years I have uncovered pictures that no one remembers ever seeing before. I am sure it has to do with only ordering one set of prints. And if they gave that picture to someone, then many never saw the original image. 
It's a lot of work scanning old negatives and slides (for my husband), but so rewarding to discover a treasured photo that no one has seen before. In a way, it's like the thrill-of-the-hunt at a yard sale or a thrift store, you never know when you're about to rescue a piece of history. Only negatives cost you nothing. Just your time.
So the next time you're at a family gathering, spread the word ~ don't throw out old negatives or slides! Or better yet ~ they can throw them your way. Happy scanning. 
And Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas Day '11

Christmas morning at the Thompson's and waiting for Miranda & Tyler to wake up.
Hey, do you see that lighted barn & silo on the TV console? I found that in the basement of an old house in Appleton, WI this past October and hand-carried it on the airplane back to Phoenix. I paid $2.00 and I just adore it! But I just couldn't see putting it in my Church Village. So it has a place of its own. 


Check out the gifts my son Tyler gave me for Christmas (and rather nicely coordinated I might add) ~ oh my gosh, "A Camping Spree with Mr. Magee" is so awesome!! Randy & I read it this morning in front of the woodstove and we loved it. And the Lego Snowman gift card from Target was a complete surprise to me. I had no idea they were selling those or I would have bought one for myself, just to get the Lego Snowman! And the mint MnM's ~
well, I've about finished off that whole bag. Thanks Tyler!

I made the kids sit at Mimi's Cafe (that's what I can Emolyn's kitchen) 
and open their stockings. Could they be any cuter or what!

Later in the day we made our way over to Mamaw's in Surprise for dinner.
Along with the usual ham, raisin sauce & potatoes, she made pinto beans and fried okra.
Miranda's boyfriend Aaron was thrilled because he went to school in Georgia after college and loved the good 'ole southern cooking.

Then I asked Miranda & Aaron if I could do a little photo shoot of them outside
and they were more than willing. What a darling couple. Makes my heart so happy!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Eve '11

We had our family Christmas on Christmas Eve Day...

and it began with a yummy breakfast ~ tons of eggs, bacon and cinnamon rolls!

Our blue-eyed Elsie girl (1) is quite the character. I love how different her and her sister are. Makes me all the more excited to meet their little brothers in April. OH! Didn't I tell you? They found out last week that the twins are IDENTICAL BOYS!! I know!! Can you imagine a year from now?!

Two years ago we drove to Wisconsin on Christmas morning for my Dad's funeral.
We took so many beautiful winter pictures on that trip, that Randy had them put on a slideshow through his iPod onto our TV screen. 
We have them playing every day and I love it so much.

I bought these gloves for the girls through Groopdealz
Thank you Heidi for sharing this awesome sight with me!

We got Emolyn (3) her very own microphone and let me tell you, she knew immediately what to do. The girl can sing and perform like nobody's business! She has every Taylor Swift move down pat. She writes all her own songs and the words are pretty hysterical at times.
I could watch her sing all day.


We always have the usual spiral ham and raisin sauce (made using our first lemons of the season), potato casserole and Rhodes rolls. Love that meal.

Then we gather around the table and decorate Christmas cookies for dessert. I have the best gingerbread cut out cookie recipe that I've been using since I purchased my large yellow fix-n-mix bowl at a Tupperware party in the early 80's. Feels kind of strange to find out that something I purchased new back int the 80's is now considered vintage. Mmm...

Our dear friends Terry & Nancy came over and helped us decorate cookies too.
Nancy has quite the artistic flare for decorating. Thanks Nancy!

Then it was time for jammies so these two could snuggle down for a long winter's nap.
Cuz guess what girls? Tomorrow's Christmas!
I'm sharing my story here ~
Saturday Nite Special

Monday, December 26, 2011

reflective moments

A couple weeks ago when the whole family was gathered around the firepot in the backyard,
I began asking everyone to share about what's going on in their lives...
it was then that my 3 year old granddaughter Emolyn pipes up and says ~
"Mimi, how 'bout we relax and just look at the fire".

Well, on this day after Christmas, I'm reflecting on those hectic days leading up to Christmas...
and I'm wishing I had heeded my granddaughter's perceptive words...
taking those much-needed moments to relax in front of the woodstove... mindful of the sweet memories that I might be missing in the midst of all the chaos and distractions.

One of those sweet memories ~
spending the day with our dearest friend Ed. What a precious, loving, Godly man.
We had him sit at our dinner table over a bowl of split pea soup and tell us his life story ~ 80 years of success and sadness, joys and heartache, blessings and hope. 
We sat there in tears at times, especially as he retold the story of meeting his beloved wife Nancy over 50 years ago on a blind date... and of her painful passing 5 short years ago. Oh how he misses his dear Nancy.

Ed also came bearing gifts ~ his signature Beef Jerky is legendary among the men of our church! And this year he made 4 kinds of Beef Jerky ~ Cajan, teriyaki, chipotle mesquite and jalapeno! Randy could hardly wait to sample them as soon as Ed left... but had to humbly admit that the cajan proved almost a bit too much for him, and that's saying a lot!
Ed also had a gift for me ~ a vintage wooden Stanley level!! Oh my gosh, does he know me or what! I will cherish it forever and ever!

Our traditional Rice Night means gathering with friends, eating their traditional foods, sipping Tom & Jerry's ~ and the ultimate crowning moment ~ a bowl of Steve's Norwegian rice pudding topped with a pat of butter and a sprinkling of cinnamon. Omg, you have no idea... euphoric.

I could hardly wait for Grace's hotter-than-heck sausage, my swedish meatballs wrapped in Barb's uffda-awesome lefse... and Michelle's mouth-watering Beef Wellington. And that's just naming a few of the many succulent dishes.

our son Shawn, Randy and his brother Don
I'm also thankful for our traditional night of caroling at Mamaw's, my husband's precious Mom. Have I told you that I have the best mother-in-law and that I love her dearly, and feel so deeply blessed to know that she stands in the gap as a faithful prayer warrior on our behalf every. single. day? Well, she is and I do and she does... every single day. She is truly a faithful friend and a steadfast, Godly woman. 

Aww, my favorite two Emolyn's in the whole world! 
I about cried when I saw this picture of the two Emolyn's experiencing the powerful spirit of music. I think it was during Randy's rendition of "Oh Holy Night".

I am half German (my Mom's side) and I have never tasted stollen bread... till this past week.
One of the preschool Mom's gave Kathy and I each a loaf of stollen bread made by her husband who is a head baker here in Phoenix. I'm telling you, this stuff is amazing! Oh, did I mention it's soaked in brandy? And I just may have singlehandedly finished off the entire loaf, after sharing only a few slices with a few select family members.

I hope and pray you had a memorable Merry Christmas and that you will take the time to reflect on moments that may have gotten buried in the chaos of the season. It will warm your heart.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

all is calm...

Nothing feels more like winter in Phoenix than rainy, dreary days. And we've had plenty of them this month. And I am very thankful.
So yesterday as the clouds had me convinced that snow flurries were on the way... I put on a pot of ham & split peas soup, set out a pan of Rhodes rolls to rise near the warm wood stove... and I hunkered down.
But, (she sighs) no snow flurries. Ok, so we rarely get them. But a girl can dream...

My husband and I enjoyed a delicious meal, and then we headed over to Scottsdale to check out a possible Christmas gift for our son, that we found on Craig's List.
And along the way we saw beautiful light displays that calmed my heart.

My heart has needed lots of calming these days, as our future seems so uncertain and I'm not handling it as well as I had hoped. I can easily lose hope and fear the worst.
My husband has been looking for work for over 8 months now, and it has triggered my unresolved issues that seem to rear their ugly heads when I'm faced with trusting God and others with me. Instead I choose to clutch and demand and isolate... and the truth of my identity in Christ goes flying out the window. I know that God is at work. I really do. But I fear the suffering that may go along with God's direction for my life.

An amazing young man recently posted this on facebook ~

"We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us, we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be." ~ C.S.Lewis

The young man that posted that quote is 17 and his Dad's memorial service was Monday.
My heart goes out to this young man and his 16 year old brother as they grieve the loss of their father... and choose daily to believe that God is trustworthy and all-knowing. God is using this wise-beyond-his-years young man to remind me to walk by faith and not by sight, and to rest in God's love for me. And to pray.
It's as simple as that. But the journey is not always easy. 

 On a lighter note ~ I love my Waechtersbach Christmas dishes.
And as you can see from the top pic, we use them daily throughout the month of December.
I wrote about them on this Dec. 2007 post ~

I love displaying my Waechtersbach Christmas dishes every year!! They are truly my pride and joy of all my Christmas collections!
Many, many years ago I found six 'irregular' plates at a Christmas liquidation store for $6.00 each. I never dreamed I would ever add to those six plates. But over the years I found 4 complete place settings at an antique store in Pine, Arizona for $25.00! That is like the cost of one single plate! And then I got several more place settings and the matching wine glasses from my cousin Shelly. She brought them back from Germany many years ago. Can you believe it! 
I am forever grateful.

And then a few years ago my sister Ginny surprised me with "The Star" baking dish!! She had found it for a song. (retails for over $40.00!) And that big serving bowl was a TJ Max find for $5.00! I occasionally still find the mugs at thrift stores, so I have lots of them.
Thanks for visiting my little blog. Means more to me than you could ever know.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas in Paradise

That would be Paradise Valley, Arizona. But nonetheless, a Christmas in paradise the moment you walk through the front door of my friend Rob's lovely home. Oh my gosh, I was so honored when Rob asked if I would come photograph his home at Christmas.
You see I had heard that Rob worked with amazing decorators over the years and that Christmas was his specialty, but seriously, until I saw his work up close and personal... well, I had no idea. You guys, he's a creative genius.

First off, check out his front door!

Rob and I go way back to the 70's when he was singing with Glory Road at Hand in Hand concerts. Linda & I became huge groupies soon after we moved to Phoenix in 1977. And then over the past couple years we've reconnected on facebook. I adore this dear man.

His tree is simply stunning. And get this, he does something totally different every year!

Oh be still my heart. Love this!

His wife Toni is the resident gift-wrapper and let me tell you ~ WOW! 

Check out the original artwork in the background ~ one of the many stellar pieces they collect.

What was to be a one hour photo-shoot ended up being over 3 hours of deep, heartfelt, profound, kindred-spirit sharing with an old friend. Seriously, we could not be more alike as we shared bits and pieces of our life story. I came away inspired, encouraged, reflective, loved and deeply moved.
Thank you Rob for creating such a beautiful, safe place for me to share my heart.