Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Winter Wonderland in Aspen?

Doesn’t this look like a winter wonderland? It looks like Aspen, CO doesn’t it? Well it's not it is Seattle, WA. This is crazy! My sister has been giving us an update of the storms that have been hitting the North West area. I didn’t know Seattle could turn into an Aspen, Colorado? They have measured 28” in snow the past few days. The storms continues and we are not sure if we will be spending Christmas with family or on our own? TBD

Friday, December 19, 2008

Another neighbor becomes the victim of cold weather

Well it looks like another neighbor's house has become the victim of the cold weather. Can you say "thermal expansion" folks?

I guess many property owners have failed to understand the basic concepts of thermal dynamics when it comes to that most common substance WATER.

Whenver water freezes it EXPANDS, hmmmm...curious. When this happens to a pipe that's on the outside of your house, you have all the elements to a disaster, a broken water pipe!

I went outside this morning to shovel off a spot in the backyard for our dogs to "do their business" when I noticed a quiet hissing sound coming from our neighbor's house. I peeked over the fence and to my surprise saw that their outside sprinkler pipe had burst and was spewing out water.

This must have been going on for quite some time because the water was frozen all around it, despite the fact that water continued to run all over the ice.

Also, noteworthy was the huge pile of trash in front of their house on the street. Trash day was Tuesday and the trash people, it seems, refused to collect it. This probably had something to do with the fact that it mainly consisted of household furniture: I counted 2-3 TVs, a computer monitor, desks, mattresses, and other household furniture.

Being the "good neighbor" that I am, I decided to go around the back of their house and attempt to shut off the water. I tried the first valve, nothing, the water continued to pour out. Then the second one: success! With the water off I decided to call the City water dept. to have them come and shut off the water to the house.

I followed up this phone call with a call to the HOA to let them know of the huge mess out in the street. Not only does this mess make the neighborhood look bad, but obviously no one wanted the stuff given the fact that the monitors and T.V.s now had over several inches of SNOW on top of them!

P.S. oh yeah, when I saw "another neighbor", I'm referring to a prior incident that happened to the neighbor on the other side of us a couple of years ago. When the temperature drop outside combined with a blown out furnace pilot light, the inside house temperature dropped below freezing. This was enough to burst the pipe, JUST BEFORE the main water shutoff valve. The water dept. had to be called out in this case too in order to shut off the house's water and stop all the water that was leaking out into the living room, utility closet, and spewing out into the street from under their garage.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Cold in Colorado!

I don’t want to give you a weather forecast but I guess that is what I am going to do. It is freezing here, literally. The mountains have got most of the snow. We did get a little here in the city and with the temperatures the way it has been it has not melted away. Monday morning I woke up to -15 degrees outside, insane I know! I thought I had warmed up my car well enough but half way into work my clutch felt stiff. I just kept thinking please, please let me just get to work and don’t stall. Monday had a high of about 10 degrees. I found my window fluid to be frozen. I have to say, the magic of the season goes out the door, when you drive with out window washer fluid and the snow begins to melt. ERGH! Yesterday afternoon I finally was able to clean the car window without my help of throwing snow on it. My window fluid defrosted on its own. Yeah! I think today we are getting back into shorts weather at 35 degrees. I hope this cold front has passed, but I think we are still in for a treat with the cold and snow this weekend. With that said, I guess I need to look at the positive things that the cold brings. The fireplace running every night, family cuddles under the feather blanket, snowball fights in the yard, ice skating at the lake, drinking hot chocolate and skiing with no rocks!

The best part of today is knowing that one week from today we will be with my Sister, brother in-law, nieces, nephews, brother, his fiancé and her mother. We will be with family very soon to enjoy Christmas!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Hail to the Chocolate!

That’s right Hail to the Chocolate. I have a deep love for chocolate. Not just any kind but the really good stuff. Any chance I can get some really good chocolate I am so there. My love for chocolate began I am sure in my mothers womb. As a child I could only order the chocolate milkshake, chocolate ice cream, chocolate chip cookies. Anything sweet had to have chocolate in it or I would not eat it. As far as I was concerned it was waist of a good cookie if there was not chocolate in it. Then when I was 10 years old I was diagnosed with being allergic to chocolate. My world turned upside down. How can anyone be allergic to this sinful treat? So my chocolate ordering days turned to vanilla shake and carob. Carob, all I have to say is yuck! I still can’t bring myself to eat it. So I would rather go without. As the years passes I snuck the chocolate back into my life. I lived with the consequences of eating this treat. Which were a stuffy nose and a rash on my arms. But that didn’t keep me from the indulgence. As I grew older I think I gained a tolerance to chocolate and it didn’t affect me as much anymore. My favorite candy bar growing up was a Snickers and thus my nickname growing up was “snickers or snicker doodles” If you use this knowledge against me, I will need to retaliate. I still have to watch my chocolate intake and have to keep the amounts small. My love of chocolate will never subside no matter what the consequences are! Rock on Chocolate!
As a family tradition we hand make chocolates and box them up and tie a ribbon around the box and give it away as a Christmas gifts. I remember growing up with tins filled with chocolates at Christmas time. I would sneak into them and eat one and then go back an hour later and eat another one. I would hear my mom saying. “stay out of the chocolates” Yes we would take turns creeping into the dining room and carefully removing the lids as to not make a sound and grab some chocolates, you had to pop one in your mouth and then what you could carry in your hands. Then carefully put the lid back on and the container exactly back where you found it. With 5 kids doing this the loot would go down pretty fast and my Mom would know we had been in there. We would have all sorts of flavors, including orange, cherry, mint, coconut and the Olympian cream. Some years we get creative and produce new flavors. But we seem to go back to our favorites.

Last Wednesday I started to prep for the grand chocolate dipping event. I hoped the stars in the sky would be in alignment and the weather would stay cold and my filling would not turn to sugar. And so I begin with my beautiful red cast iron pot and begin the tradition of making our family chocolates. One batch takes about a solid 2 hour process. If the filling doesn’t turn to sugar than you are jumping up and down with joy. It is a natural high to see it come together and it turn into a creamy wonder. So Wednesday night I made two batches and a batch of toffee, then Thursday night I was able to get another batch made. Friday I was prepared to make the caramels and dip the chocolates. This year I made Olympian cream, you know this one because we always put a piece of a pecan on the top of the chocolate. I also made orange, mint, coconut and cherry. Friday I got off work early and headed home to begin the task. I figured I would do what I could do and then have Adam help me when he got home. So I began with cutting the chocolate. You see I am serious about this; I get my chocolate in a 10lbs brick. So with a sharp knife and a lot of strength I begin cutting the chocolate to be able to melt it for dipping. After the chocolate is cut, or until I am tired, I pulled out the filling and began rolling the balls. This was the first year I did the whole process alone. I would dip with one hand in chocolate and the other hand was free to add the nut on top or the sprinkles. I love to dip chocolates. There is this sense of peace I have when I am sitting at the table, listening to music and you just get in a flow with the chocolate. It is very relaxing. The only relaxing part of the whole process I think. It took me 5 hours to dip about 300 chocolates, make caramels and clean up the kitchen. When Adam got home from work the kitchen and dining area had trays of goodness all over the room. Later that night we decided to go ahead and box them and get ahead of the game. We usually wait a day to box, but they were settled and ready. So we began. With our list we made the night before we produced about 60 boxes to hand out to friends this year. And Saturday and Sunday were the days for deliveries. I think that is the fun part is giving a box of homemade treats. It is the love that is made with each chocolate, the care that is given to each one. With the making of the filling, then the time for it to sit before you can roll. Then each one is hand rolled and then the dipped, and carefully placing on the paper and last the special pinch of whatever is put on the top of the chocolate to mark its identity. I am not sure if those who receive know the love that is behind the generations of this family tradition? It has been passed down and I can proudly say I am a four generation candy maker. I hope that I have the same love given in eat bite that has been passed down with each generation and I want to pass down to my children. I hope they will have the love of sneaking in to grab the treat and enjoy it as I did. I hope they will find the love of making them with me and then eventually when they are old enough to be trusted with the family secret. I hope my children will then pass it on to their children and the tradition remains forever in our families.

I realized after we had boxed them all up there was none left for Adam and me. So Saturday night and Sunday I made a batch each night. And for our family home evening tonight Adam and I will be dipping our own chocolates to eat for the holidays. These will not be boxed, they will be stored in our Christmas tins and when ever a visitor comes to our home for a visit or stops in, we always offer a chocolate to them.

I have to say it’s nice to be the adult and I don’t have to go an sneak a chocolate, I can now just go get one or two or three.

Emily Creations!

I want to give thanks to Emily for the awesome Christmas card she designed for my family this year. I had to put it on the head of our blog.

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it! Thanks for sharing your talents with us!

Every family should be able to elf themselves and send out the fun!

Actually I have seen a few and it has been awesome for those of you that have shared it with us. We enjoyed them. We have see about 3 families we know who have elfed themselves and sent us get video footage of their families.

Merry Christmas and enjoy the fun!

Go elfyourself this year!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Memoirs of the islands...

This is a picture I actually took myself when I was on one of the islands. I told you I enjoyed photography. I'll have to post more images when I find them.
This one was taken from a rooftop on a particularly clear day. On clear days you could see between one island and the other. Notice the round water tanks on top of the roofs. That's how they got their water into the apartments.
This next one is actually from a postcard that I scanned in of the local plaza. Large cruiseliners would come in here on one of their "ports of call". This was the destination on one of my famous "jetfoil rides". Notice how green it is!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Excuse for a Date

Saturday night Adam and I went to his work Christmas party. It turned out to be a fun night. We arrived at 630pm, expecting to stay for maybe an hour or 2 but we ended up staying for like 5 hours that night. Their Christmas party was at the museum of nature and science; they rented out the whole building. We arrived and after meeting a few of his co-workers and spouses we were ushered upstairs to eat dinner. We ended eating in a room with Mountain goats. We were able to hang out with a couple before they headed off to their Imax movie, after they left another co worker of Adam’s found us and came and ate with us. We spent the most part of the evening hanging out with Andrew and Tatiana.

They were a great couple to get to know. They have a 3 year old daughter and Tatiana is pregnant with their second. We will be anxious to find out the sex of the baby in a few weeks. Andrew works with Adam and his wife has a very interesting job that takes her around the world. It was really nice to chat with her about all the places that she has gone and is going in the next few months. It was a pleasure to meet them and spend the evening with them. After dinner we went to try out a few desserts and chat some more. The desserts were in the other end of the wild life exhibit. So we enjoyed our little cakes and cheesecake while admiring the different kinds of cats jumping in the air. Lucky for us we all had tickets to the 8pm IMAX Theater there at the museum and so we went together to view the movie, which was on Alaska. It was good. I think my favorite part of the movie was the big black bear playing in the water. He was splashing around like a child in the water. It was fun to watch. After the movie we went to go see some more of the exhibits. Where we were able to find some hands on items, with help from Adam he taught me how to park a space shuttle at the dock before running out of gas. It took me a few try’s to get it docked. Adam seemed to pick it up quickly; it must be the pilot in him? After the fun we made our way to the Chocolate fountain where there I found my love of treats and goodies to dip. BTW the chocolate was really good.

Adam and I then decided to get a portrait taken together. As we are standing in line with the other people, I felt like I was at my prom, waiting to take my formal picture together. The picture I think turned out just as cheesy! After our picture we decided to end the evening with a carriage ride. We were taken away with a white carriage drawn by a white and black spotted horse. There was a heavy velvet blanket that he had on our laps to help us stay warm for the ride. I loved to hear the clicking of the horse’s hoof as he walks on the pavement. The ride only took us around the museum, but there was the one point on the ride you could view downtown and all the lights at that point Adam leans over and gives me a kiss. It was the kiss that warms your heart and the chills that you were feeling all go away. He wraps his arms around me and we sit in complete silence just enjoying the rest of the ride. Over all it turned out to be a very romantic date night.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Learning how to create my first DVD

Last night I played around with making my own DVD and it was kind of fun.

I have been recording one of Nikki's favorite soap opera's "Days of our lives" with our new TV card. Trouble is the recorder doesn't seem to know when to shut off :-)

So, then the files are so large there's no room for anything else. I figured out how to save them to DVD and have made a few DVDs for Nikki so she can watch her shows when she's ready.

My Brother, Nathan, learned how to do all this years ago, but I never had the right computer gadgets to do it until now. It's kind of fun. I'm planning on making some more DVDs from family videos of the past.

-- Adam

Magic in the Air

Yesterday was a normal day with a magic twist. As I was driving into work there was a light snow falling. I had expected there to be more snow when I had woke up that morning. But through out the day I would head to the windows and peek out and watch the light snow falling. It snowed all day but the snow falling was so light and fluffy. When it came to going home, the sun was almost set and the wind was blowing and the snow was still falling. As I am walking out to my car I notice a twinkle here and there on the ground. I begin to look at the snow filled parking lot, then the trees and cars which are covered in a white blanket of snow. Everywhere I look I see twinkling. It is as if the snow is magical. This precious white blanket has thousands of tiny gems in it. I thought to myself how beautiful it was and enjoyed the rest of the walk to my car. As I pull out of the parking lot, onto the road my radio is turned to Christmas music and the song that is playing. “let it snow” I have to laugh to myself because it was so appropriate to be listening to a song about snow when it is snowing outside. The commute home was long and slow and as I am driving at 30MPH I am pondering many thoughts from the day, and from the week. The excitement from an email we received on Monday to our weekend plans. The drive into my neighborhood was nice and quiet, the roads where snow packed and you could hear the crunching of the snow as the tires drove on the street. As I walked in the back door I am greeted as I am every day by Roxie who is so excited to see me and wags her tail with excitement I lean down to give her a pet and tell her hello and I missed her too.

This gave me a memory from last year at this time. When my sister and her boys were living with us, I would come home from work anxious to get home because I had a house full of people. The boys usually were sitting at the bar eating an afternoon snack or working on homework. Foster would be in his highchair eating his snack or crawling around on the floor chasing the dogs. This one day I came home and as I come through the back door like I do everyday I am greeted by Roxie and lean down and pat her, said hello and she ran away. I walk a few steps and Lizzy came up. I leaned down and pet her, said hello and she ran away. Then I walk a few steps, I am greeted by Foster who has just crawled over to me and I lean down and pat him on the head, said hello and he happily crawls away. I continue to enter the room to take off my coat and put down my stuff. While I am doing this my sister Chris is standing there watching this whole thing and bust out laughing. She says to me. “Hey don’t treat Foster like a dog” I looked at her with a puzzled gaze, I didn’t even realize what I had done. We both start to laugh and the whole experience.

It was the best experience to have her and the thress boys come and live with us. We were unsure if it would all work, but all I have is wonderful memories and the opportunity to really build a relationship with my nephews. Oliver will not know us as well as he was still in mommies tummy at the time, but with the relationship I have with the other boys they will let him know that Uncle Adam and Aunt Nikki are ok. I can’t wait to meet Oliver in person. But for now we have Skype and that is how I am able to keep up with the boys.

I know I have been sharing a lot of memories lately, but "it’s all good'. Life is about making memories. Each thing we do will become a memory and then over time you find that those memories that may have been hard or those memories that were so joyous become the best ones ever, because they help you find strength in the future.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Welcome Christmas

This is our favorite time of the year. There is something magical about this time of year as I have mentioned before. We enjoy christmas lights, christmas music, baking goodies, giving of ourselves, rendering service, and thinking more about our Savior and all that he has done for us.
As soon as Thanksgiving is over I pull out the boxes of Christmas decorations and fill every room with something. This year we started a bit earlier. I came home from work last Wednesday and went to work at making pies and stuffing to bring to our friends for Thanksgiving dinner. I was in the kitchen cooking and listening to Christmas music. When Adam walked in we greeted each other and he then went back out to the garage and the next thing I know he is bringing in the Christmas boxes full of decorations and pulling them all out. I later asked him why he did it, and he told me. He said when he came home and heard the Christmas music playing and the pie baking he thought it was time to put up Christmas decorations.

Welcome to our home! Where we love to celebrate Christmas. The lights stream across and down the banister which light up the garland. We have the Christmas tree decorated and full of meaningful ornaments. I want to show you my favorite one. This star is the very first one Adam and I bought together our first year of marriage. We bought it in the summer in Park City, Utah. I just fell in love with it and it has become one of our traditions to purchase one ornament each year to add to the tree. It doesn't matter when we buy it. It can be any time of the year, but it is the one we find together and it speaks to us that it is the one that belongs on our tree. This is still my favorite after all these years.

I found this Santa mail box a few years ago and boy did we have fun with it last year. I was thinking about what we were doing last year at this time. My younger sister who was pregnant at the time and her 3 boys came to live with us temporarily while they were in transition for a move to Germany. Her husband is in the military (in the Army) and he was away. So last year when I pulled out Santa's mailbox we learned how magical it really is.
If you put a letter in the box and put up the red flag. The next day your letter is gone and within a week your get a response from Santa. Last year Ethan, our 6 year old nephew, decided to try out the mail box. Ethan and his Uncle Spencer each wrote Santa a letter. I found out that Uncle Spencer asked Santa to bring his sisters what ever they wanted for Christmas and to keep all the families safe. Ethan asked Santa to send him a picture of himself. About a week later we hear Ethan screaming at the top of his lungs that there was a letter in the box. Santa had sent him a letter from the North Pole. In the large envelope was a letter that was hand written on Santa's personal stationary. The top of the page read "from the desk of Santa Claus" Then the letter proceeded to talk directly to Ethan.
Did you know that Santa's favorite color is Red? Well, so is Ethan's. Santa's letter was written with very shaky handwriting. But of course, because he lives in the North Pole and it is very cold there. There was also something else in the package to Ethan. It was a hand drawn picture of Santa. He said his elf "Art" drew it for him at his last Christmas Party and he wanted Ethan to have it. The picture really captured the gleam in Santa's eyes. It was a treasured experience for the kids and for the adults. I am sad my newphews are gone, but it has now become one of our family traditions to send Santa a letter directly from our magical mail box.

My parents gave this to us as an early Christmas gift and told us we could open it up when we pulled out the tree. What a great surprise to find this beautiful handmade Nativity. My parents just returned home from Singapore, where they have been living, just over the past 2 years. They did a lot of traveling while they were there serving a Public Relations Mission. On their travels they went to Indonesia. They purchased this incredible Nativity from Darno, an Indonesian young man, he had hand made this to sell so he could pay for his schooling. He was a senior at Indonesian Nazarene Bible College, preparing for the ministry. Thank you Darno for sharing your talent and the detail is amazing. It is made out of Bamboo. Thank you Mom and Dad for an awesome gift.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Day of Cookies and Games

It was so nice to have 4 days off from work and stay home. Saturday I decided it was time to kick off the Christmas season and make sugar cookies. Mostly because I wanted to eat a few, and then that means we need to take them to people we know to get them out of the house before I eat them all gone. So that afternoon that is what we did. We made trees and stars. After we got them cut out and baked we decided to go and play a little Warcraft on the computer. This is something we have not done for a long time together. I remember when we were first married we would spend our Saturdays playing Starcraft. There was this one time I remember when we lived in North Carolina. We were renting this awesome farm house and it had an attic that we housed our computers in. We woke up not getting dressed and ran upstairs in the attic and played. We played for like 10 hours. We didn’t even realize the time had passed and what got us to thinking about the time was our stomachs were growling. So we called and order a pizza and continued to play into the night. It was the best game ever! We were so silly and I miss those days, but every so often we find a few hours that we can go back and get lost in the wonderful world of alienation. What we have learned from our gaming experiences it is best we are on the same team. There are hard feelings when we play against each other. LOL to keep our marriage healthy and our feelings from being hurt we work together to conquer the enemies that we play.

So after our game we went back downstairs and Adam began to make up the colors of frosting. Somehow our red turned out more like a pink and our green looked mintier in color. But who cares it still tastes good. So Adam frosted the cookies and I wanted to add more detail to the trees and stars and put frosting in a plastic baggie snipped of the corner and piped out frosting to add details to our cookies. With all the colors on the cookies and the sprinkles each cookie looked like a master piece. Then we decided on a few families we knew who would enjoy eating them. I think that is the fun part of the cookie making is the delivering of goods part. I enjoy seeing the reaction you get when you knock on a door and they open it up and find you standing there with a plate of cookies. We get invited in and have a sweet conversation at the doorstep. And then we leave each house with a little kick in our step anxious to get to the next house to bring them a little yummy treat. One of the houses we decided to give them a poinsettia instead because we knew they had a special diet and they invited us to hang out with them for the evening. So we finished our rounds stopped and picked up a movie at the Red Box. (love getting a movie for a $1) and heading back where the Sushi had already arrived and we ate sushi and watched this really weird movie. I still don’t get it? Oh well, it was about the company and I got to hold the baby so that was the best part.

I love this time of year. It brings out the best in people and I find we are so much more open with sharing our feeling about the love of our Savior. There is something magical about this time of year. I felt it as a child and the feeling has never subsided. I hope that the children who come into our home will be able to experience the magic that this time of year brings.