Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Wonderful Christmas

It's been such a wonderful Christmas! Playing games, laughing, eating, relaxing, opening presents....Ahhhhhhh......

My parents are so generous and are GREAT at giving gifts! I'm so cards to Caribou, DSW, and Amazon, money for ski equipment, a board game, a little purse, ear muffs, AND a Twins jersey, Twins sweatshirt, and Twins purse!

My older sister spoiled me, too! In addition to A Christmas Carol, she gave me tickets to Gophers games, a book, a movie, and a gift card!

And of course.....the Advent basket from my little sister. Yes, I figured out it was from my little sister. I had to keep the secret to myself because there were other people who also got a basket from her that I didn't want to ruin the surprise for.

I figured out right away that the gifts were from her. Since I had opened the letter for the first day early, I decided to open the first gift early, too. It was a CD of Christmas songs. The songs were a dead give-away that it was from my sister. I called her and we had the most funny conversation. She was trying to lie to me about the basket, but I was giving her the many, many reasons why I knew it was from her. Also, the lies she told me were exactly the same lies I would have told if I was trying to keep the same secret......we think too much alike for her to fool me! We were laughing so hard!

She finally gave in and admitted the basket was from her. She said "well, you must have looked at the final card, too then". I hadn't, but I asked what it said. She told me that on the card that would tell her identity, she just wrote "CHEATER" because she was SO convinced I would sneak ahead! But I didn't need to sneak ahead to figure it out, so the joke is on her!!

She also included a reflection each day on a different characteristic of God (wise, loving, gracious, holy, transcendent, judge, merciful, all-sufficient, triune........etc.........). It is so fun to get gifts, but as my sister said in the final letter of her gift, these characteristics will lead us to worship the Father and thank Him for the abundant gifts He has given - most importantly, His Son.

Here is a list of all the gifts she gave me, with some pictures to follow (I know some of you were curious):

1 - the basket the gifts came in
2 - CD
3 - hand soap
4 - Hope ornament
5 - peanuts
6 - pashmina
7 - key covers
8 - hot chocolate
9 - socks
10 - magnets
11 - body wash
12 - chocolates
13 - vase
14 - notepad
15 - lotion
16 - candle
17 - candy
18 - note cards
19 - candle holder
20 - chocolate
21 - bookmarks
22 - journal
23 - sports ornaments
24 - sparkling juice
25 - picture/letter

beautiful vase!


key covers, magnets, note cards, socks



candle holder, candle, ornament, pashmina

hand soap

The final note in the basket

I also wanted to include the final reflection from the gift. It is "Advent Summons" by Mother Mary Francis, P.C.C.

Come forth from the holy place,
Sweet Child,
Come from the quiet dark
Where virginal heartbeats
Tick your moments.

Come away from the red music
Of Mary's veins.
Come out from the Tower of David
Sweet Child,
From the House of Gold.

Leave your lily-cloister,
Leave your holy mansion,
Quit your covenant ark.
O Child, be born!

Be born, Sweet Child,
In our unholy hearts.

Come to our trembling,
Helpless Child.
Come to our littleness,
Little Child,
Be born to us
Who have kept the faltering vigil.
Be given, be born,
Be ours again.

Come forth from your holy haven,
Come away from your perfect shrine,
Come to our wind-racked souls
From the flawless tent,
Sweet Child.

Be born, little Child,
In our unholy hearts.

Merry Christmas, everyone! I pray your Advent season was filled with reflections on the One who sent His Son to be born in a manger, live a perfect life, die and rise again to save us from our sin! What a gift!!!!

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Cozy Evening

Thanks to a rapid snowfall throughout the day, traffic was nightmare-ish all I was glad to be tucked in all night in my sweats with cozy Christmas lights twinkling, a cup of hot soup, watching the Vikings game.

When I was rescued by my uncle from the blizzard, my aunt had a yummy chicken noodle soup in the crock pot when I arrived at their house. I normally don't like chicken noodle soup because I prefer more thick and creamy soups, but she had doctored it to make it very thick and creamy. I'm glad I was inspired to buy the ingredients last week so I had them on hand when I got home tonight. Here's what she does:

Dump in a crock pot: one can of chicken noodle soup (with big noodles), one can of cream of chicken soup, one quart of half and half, two cups of cooked egg noodles, two cups of cooked and chopped chicken, two cups of whatever veggies you like. YUM!

My aunt's mom passed away very unexpectedly this past weekend, so it was nice to make her soup tonight and have my thoughts and prayers with them as I did so.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Paper Chain Excited

There's excited, and then there's "paper chain excited"!

As if I wasn't already excited enough about our family cruise in February, my little sister sent me a paper chain to count down the days - complete with cute, cruise-themed paper!

70 days! We'll be cruising in 70 days!!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Christmas Carol

For our Christmas gift this year, my older sister was going to take my younger sister and me to A Christmas Carol at the Guthrie and out for a nice dinner on Sunday night. Unfortunately, thanks to the blizzard, my younger sister was literally snowed in and couldn't make it. So we found a substitute and had a nice night (though we definitely missed little sis)!

We ate at Masa - my absolute FAVORITE place in Minneapolis. It is a bit expensive, so it's only for special occasions, but I seriously crave their crab enchiladas ALL the time! Yum!

The show was great, too! I liked the call out they chose from the script for the program:
"Look at us, all gathered here together at this table. let us not dwell on the misfortunes - of which all have some - but rather rejoice upon our present blessings, of which we have many. Let us empty our plates and fill our glasses once again, and with a smiling face and a contented heart say, our life on it, let Christmas be merry and the coming year a happy one."
Sunday was a nice day, thanks to the blessings of family, following a chaotic day for me. I appreciated rest and relaxation, as well as the treat of dinner and a show. A magnificent way to end the weekend and begin more reflection on the Christmas Season!

Monday, December 13, 2010

There Once Was a Blizzard...

So, did you hear there was a blizzard in Minneapolis on Saturday?! Everyone will have a story about where they were and what they did during the blizzard of December 2010, so here’s mine [warning: it's probably a long one...]: (I'm a little embarassed to share it, since it shows pretty poor judgement on my part.....)

I’ve been told I have some hermit-like tendencies, so I’m certainly not someone who minds being snowed in for a cozy day at home. It actually sounds a little delightful. Baking, organizing, watching movies, relaxing…….all right up my alley. But my Saturday was anything but delightful….

I actually had a very busy Saturday planned. I was going to go to the Gopher game with my sister, head out to see a friend coach his high school basketball team later that afternoon, visit a friend and her new baby, have dinner with friends, and finally get to see my roommate sing with her folk band. I was looking forward to all of those things, but on Friday, as it became more apparent that I wouldn’t be doing any of them, I wasn’t extremely bummed. I actually needed an excuse to stay tucked in all day. I was coming off a week where I had totally over-committed myself and I was exhausted. It was a good exhaustion (since there were almost 50 people who showed up to the church singles Christmas party!!), but nonetheless, an exhaustion.

On Saturday, I learned that one small decision can lead you down a path where many other small decisions lead to a big headache. See, I was dog-sitting, so I had an additional element thrown into my snowed-in state. At about 10am I decided that I should shovel a little to keep up with the storm (the home owner had told me she would pay me to shovel in addition to sitting the dogs). I worked (too hard) for just over an hour and then decided that I should run to my own house for a minute to let out the dog there and grab a few things for the duration of the storm. At 11am, the roads were not good, but I was able to get home without an issue. It’s after I got to my house that the problems started....

Instead of just letting the dog out and grabbing some more clothes, I put a load of laundry in, wrapped some presents, and got generally distracted. Soon enough it was 2pm and I could see that my car had been plowed into where I had parked. I needed to get back to the dogs I was being paid to watch, so I grabbed a shovel and started to work my car out of it’s spot. Friendly Neighbor came over to help me out, and I was off. Friendly Neighbor also mentioned that I should throw my shovel in my car because I might need it, but I told him that I had made it over here no problem, so it wouldn’t be needed. I made it about one block before I got stuck again. Since I was shovel-less, I got down on my hands and knees (in only sweatpants) and dug around the tires. Red Stocking Hat Man saw me and came over to help dig me out. After just about 10 minutes I was off again. About a block ahead I saw two women working a car out of a spot, so I stopped to help. We worked on her car for about 10 minutes, and as I got back into my car, I realized I was now stuck again. The two women, along with Red Stocking Hat Man, helped me out and I was going again. I was now about two blocks from a snow emergency route that I knew would be clear. If I could just….make……………..NOPE. Stuck again. This time in the middle of an intersection. I was getting a little ticked at myself for waiting so long to leave my house, and I was also getting pretty tired, but I just needed to make it two more blocks. I worked with Man Without Gloves to get my car out, but I was stuck pretty bad. I said that we should work on getting his car unstuck since mine was so bad, so we did that and he was off. By that time we had gathered a crowd that included Friendly Neighbor, Red Stocking Hat Man, and about four others who were determined to get me out of the intersection.

As I hopped back in my car to give it gas, Friendly Neighbor realized that my wheels weren’t turning. It was determined that I had overheated the transmission and would need a tow. And this is where I started to get upset.

I called Triple A and they put me on a list. I started to think through what I was going to do in the next five hours while I waited for a tow. I was getting cold – the inside of my boots had gotten wet and my feet were feeling that, let alone the fact that my sweatpants were drenched and starting to freeze solid. I waited for about 40 minutes when Triple A called to say that they were not allowed to dispatch any tows in my area due to the dangerous aspects of the storm and that I would need to call 911. Friendly Neighbor had stuck around to make sure I would be okay, and when I told him that news, he said we needed to shut my car off and see if it would cool down enough to get me going. We waited for 30 minutes (most of which I spent praying) and tried again……and my wheels turned!!! We dug me out and with the help of eight men pushing, I was OUT! I drove as quickly as I could to the emergency route and I was in the clear!!!........for now.

My next challenge was deciding where to park. Obviously a snow emergency had been declared, so I could only park on the side streets (since I couldn’t even get to the driveway of the house where I was staying). Parking on the streets proved to be an issue as well, since every street was simply a path down the middle with snow banks on either side. I drove as close as I could to the house (about two blocks away) where I saw a group of men with shovels. I got out of my car and (with tears) asked them what I should do with my car. They agreed that the only option was to put it into a snow bank as far to the side as possible, and they graciously offered to put it there for me. They shoveled some and then rammed the car as far to the side of the road as they could.

I was feeling delirious. I was so cold. I couldn’t feel my toes, and my legs were getting there, too. As I walked to the house, crying, I could barely lift my legs out of the more-than-knee-deep snow. I fell multiple times and cursed myself for not being in better shape (and for EVER LEAVING THE HOUSE). When I got back to the house, I realized that I had left my phone in my car. Before I got undressed, I decided to head back the car and retrieve the phone, since I needed to contact my family who thought I was still sitting in an intersection in a dead car. I got less than a block from the house when I realized I wouldn't make it to the car, trudging my way through 2-3 feet of drifted snow. I couldn't even get to the street where I could've walked in tire tracks. Back to the house.

Thankfully, my mom's number has only one digit that is different from my number, so it is the only phone number I know. I called her to get the number of the phone I was on from her caller ID, as well as to get the number for my sister, who I wanted to ask about how to warm my feet properly. I had a little breakdown while on the phone with my dad. I couldn't even begin to think about how in the world I was going to get my car out of the snow bank, let alone where I was going to park it once it was out (according to the snow emergency rules, I needed to move it to the odd side of the street, but that was also just a snow bank.....).

Mom and Dad helped me figure out that my uncle and cousins could come and pull me out of the snow bank in the morning. Then I would retreat to the suburbs with them for the day (where the streets were plowed!). I got up early to assess my car situation and see if I could find help from more friendly people in the streets, but I didn't come across anyone, and my car was VERY drifted in. I did a tiny bit of shoveling around my car, but I really could barely move. I COMPLETELY overdid it on Saturday and my back was in quite a bit of pain. My cousin recruited a friend with an Explorer and the boys and my uncle came into the city to dig me out. I was so stuck in the snow that we needed to use a tow rope. One tire wouldn't spin, but that was just because the snow was so packed around it. We got the tires spinning, navigated our way out of the city, and stopped at Perkins so I could at least buy them breakfast. After breakfast my uncle took me to a tire shop because he noticed they were low on air.

This isn't at ALL how I wanted to spend my snow day, but I'm so grateful for a few things:

  • Since I don't have a garage, my car would have needed to be dug out no matter where I had left it on Saturday. If I would have been at home, I could have moved it to my driveway, but then the boy we pay to snow blow wouldn't have been able to clear that area, and I would have been plowed in by the snow from the alley. If I would have left my car in the driveway where I was dog sitting, I also would have been plowed in.....and that snow was up to my thigh on Sunday morning! I'm thankful that it was relatively straight forward to move it from the snow bank where I ended up, and that I wasn't towed or plowed in.

  • I'm so glad my tires started moving again and my car is not in the shop. I can't imagine if I would have actually needed a tow on Saturday.....I think my car would still have been in that intersection on Sunday morning.

  • I'm thankful that I wasn't in any fender-benders.

  • I'm thankful to the WONDERFUL help from friendly neighbors to dig me out (multiple times) and park my car for the night.

  • I'm SO thankful for my uncle, cousins, and their friend who drove all the way from Blaine the morning after a huge storm to help me, and that my uncle drove my car so I didn't have to, and that we got my tires all squared away. Ahhhhh. So relieved.

  • I'm grateful for muscle relaxants that helped me sleep last night, and that my back does feel a bit better today (it was SO painful last made me sick to my stomach with how much it hurt).

I'm sure you also have a story from Saturday - hopefully you didn't make such poor decisions like I did! The morale of the story: listen to the weathermen and get hunkered down sooner than later!!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Weekend Away

I'll admit that I've had PLENTY of weekends away this fall. It has been great, but it has also felt very busy. Many of the weekends have been jam-packed with activities, so this past weekend at Quilt Retreat was just that: a retreat.

There's not much I love more than driving through central Minnesota on a quiet morning after a huge weekend snow storm with just a few flakes floating to the ground while I listen to a great Christmas CD and drink coffee. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Everything was white and beautiful and I was able to reflect on a nice weekend, as well as the entire past year as I drove.

The weekend was relaxed - full of food, friends, family, and fellowship. Oh, and quilting. Even my quilting was relaxed. Often I'm rushing to get a project completed because I know I won't break out my sewing machine once I'm home, but this time I just worked on old projects here and there to get them closer to completion (go to this post to see pictures of the old quilts - I finally put a binding on the blue one and I put a border on the black/neon one. And I still love the maroon/tan quilt - I've finally put it on my bed for good.....totally doesn't match my room but I don't care).

I also learned the EASIEST bag in the world! I went straight to a baby shower on Sunday, so I had made some burp rags, but I also made a bag and put the gifts right in there! I will be doing more of that in the future.

Look at that cute little elephant poking out!

I've definitely decided this is the most efficient way to make burp rags - with a fabric (or ribbons) down the middle. Now I just have to wait another 6 weeks to meet the little baby these are for!!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Growing up, each of us girls got an Advent calendar filled with chocolates every year. I loved the calendar not just because I got a chocolate each day, but also because it was the perfect countdown to Christmas! I loved that tradition so much that I often buy myself an Advent calendar each year.

Well, today is the beginning of Advent, and I got the BEST surprise!

When I came home from Thanksgiving, there was a huge box with my name on it sitting inside the door (my roommate had brought it in from the steps). I opened it up and found a beautiful basket full of GIFTS for Advent!! I was SO EXCITED!! And, of course, since I am a horrible cheat with insatiable curiosity (and a to-the-end-flipper....) I promptly opened the letter that said "DO NOT OPEN UNTIL DEC 1!". My first thought when I saw the gifts was "whoever gave me this has NO IDEA how hard it will be for me to not open all of these gifts RIGHT NOW"! On the other hand, maybe the giver knows me really well and knows how much I LOVE surprises and that giving/receiving gifts is definitely one of my top "love languages". And the letter offered me no clues as to who the mystery gift-giver is, so it just made me more curious!

I have a reputation with my family for being the worst gift-sneak in the world. I used to UNWRAP the ends of gifts and wrap them back up just so I would know what I was getting! Mom typically did all of her shopping and wrapping on Dec 23 during our growing up years.....I think she may have done that because it worked best with her schedule, but I also suspect she did that because she wanted to keep me from sneaking until the very end!

So, since I should have just opened my letter today, I decided that I could open the first gift instead. After all, I'll be gone this weekend, so I should be able to get ahead just a little bit.....right?!?!

This will be a fun Advent season! Thanks, mystery gift-giver!