Thursday, December 30, 2010

Merry Christmas

Ahhh... the hustle and bustle of the busy Christmas season is over and here I am reflecting on another year that has come and gone. We had a quiet holiday with the kids. Analise was home for a couple of days and after Christmas dinner we played a few rousing games of Yahtzee and Scrabble - we are bit competitive when it comes to family games! Tim and Taylor tied on Scrabble, which might be a first at our house. Tim usually wins by a landslide!

Lise was playing Yahtzee, playing with her Nook and eating popcorn with M&Ms!
Taylor contemplating strategy?

A lot of thought went into game plays. 
As for a new year - I'm excited for new challenges and a lot of changes. Taylor is in his senior year of high school - so next year at this time he'll be a freshman in college. That'll totally change the dynamic in the house - we won't have any kids at home. Goodness, I get a little teary thinking about it.

Beginning January 3, I'll be taking on new responsibilities at work. I've been asked and agreed to be an interim manager at one of our CU branches. It means my commute will be triple for a few months until they hire a permanent manager. But the change will be good and I like a challenge.  :)

Lise and I will also be participating in The Brave Girls Club online Soul Restoration class. We are both super-excited to do this. I'll keep you updated during it. Soul restoration - here we come! 

New 360 photo blog is being created too! It'll be a year of changes, growing, goodbyes, hellos and creating. xo - Em

Boy, on edge of being a man. His eyes light up like a child's. Tolkien book.

Saturday, December 11, 2010


Today was a special day at our house - we adopted a 2-year-old golden retriever, Zoe, from a nice family who is moving. She is loved by them and by us too. The young girls and their parents brought her over this morning, before the winter storm hit.
The girls made an instruction sheet which I'll share because it's so sweet:

To Emma and family
* I got Zoe for my 5th Birthday. Please treat her like family. Her birthday is June 9th, mine is August 9th and Olivia's is July 9th. Her middle name is Reese, just like mine.
* When you open the freezer Zoe will come running and sit and wait for you to give her her favorite treat. ICE CUBES.
* Sometimes when she is in deep sleep she snores!
* Zoe has sensitive ears. She is afraid of loud trucks, horses clomping, and vacuums. (Even though it's funny to watch her run from the vacuums)
* Zoe LOVES family walks.
* When Zoe gets fed she waits for Gracie the cat to eat one of her morsels before she gobbles it down.
* Zoe burps and farts a lot. Please try to ignore the smell.
* Zoe loves her bone. When she is naughty we tell her to get her bone. It is her therapy.
* Zoe has a small bladder just like me. Please don't let her drink water after 7 pm.
* Zoe knows how to shake, sit, jump, and dance on your shoulders with you.
* Zoe's nicknames are Zo, Zo Zo, Zee Zo, or Z. She'll respond to all of them.
* We will miss her a lot. Please send pictures.

You Will Love Her. She Is The Best Dog In The World!

I read this aloud when the girls were here, they are 7 and 10, and I got teary-eyed knowing how much they love her and how hard this is for them. We are so happy and thankful they are sharing her with us.

Happy December night. xo - Em

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas spider

I've been on vacation from my day job this week but stopped in today for a few minutes to find a fun surprise in my mailbox. Handcrafted by Barb - who is Ms Craftylicious!

How fun! How sweet of Barbara to think of me! What's in the sparkly bag?

A lovely little spider and a sweet story about spiders wanting to be present for a visit from the Christ child. Miss Spider now hangs on my Christmas tree. Thank you Barb - you brightened my day.  xo - Em

Monday, November 29, 2010

New old treasures!

I snagged some super-cute vintage ornaments from my favorite shop, Sister's Garden, which is oh-so-close (maybe too close and I live in the country) to my house! I haven't decided how I'm going to use them all yet, but I'm sure I'll come up with something. Just adore the vintage silver garland - it is sooooo long - 10 yards - LOVE IT!

xo - Em

Thursday, November 25, 2010

So much to be thankful for

Happy Thanksgiving - I'm sure you are all incredibly busy preparing, eating and enjoying your time with loved ones. We are going to the home of Tim's sister to enjoy the day with her family and since she's hosting - she has the bulk of the work and cooking to do. We got off pretty easy this year by bringing rolls (from an awesome Amish bakery near our home!), pop and a dessert. As I'm writing this I can smell the yummy spices and pumpkin in the pumpkin cheesecake bars that are baking in the oven. Mmmm...

This past Sunday our dear friends Betsy, Marvin and their kids had us over for dinner. I am so thankful to have them as friends. Our sons are the same age - high school seniors, we met and became fast friends when the boys were in Kindergarten. It seems like just yesterday -  how fast time goes. Betsy works at a fabulous second-hand shop, The Crowded Closet (a Mennonite thrift store in which the proceeds benefit needy people here and in other countries). It's a fabulous shop if you ever get a chance to stop by! Betsy has a skill in decorating their home with nifty items she purchases at The Crowded Closet. I wish I was half as talented as she is!

Dinner was delicious, of course. Roasted chicken - raised by them, beef, mashed potatoes, green beans, carrots, rolls, pie - all so tasty! Good friends, good food, good conversation - can't ask for much more than that.

I'm thankful for so many things this year: my loving healthy family, dear friends, a roof over our heads, food on the table and clothes in our back. We are truly blessed. What are you thankful for this year?

Oh, the pumpkin cheesecake bars are done, here's the recipe if you'd like:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
5 tablespoons softened margarine
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans (I just chop them - not finely)
8 ounces of cream cheese
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup solid pack pumpkin
2 eggs lightly beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice (I use Watkins pumpkin pie spice instead)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine flour and brown sugar, cut in margarine to make a crumb mix. Stir in nuts. Set aside 3/4 cup of the mix for topping. Press remaining mix into bottom of 8x8 baking pan and bake in preheated 350 oven for 15 minutes. Cool slightly.

Combine remaining ingredients in large mixer bowl. Blend until smooth then pour over baked crust. Sprinkle with reserved topping. Bake an additional 30-35 minutes. Cool before cutting.

Much love - xo - Em

Monday, October 18, 2010

Pretty pictures

Want some creative photo inspiration? Then you have HAVE to check out these three eye-lighters: Visual Poetry, Photojojo and Expressive Photography! Love LOVE them!

Oh, and here's a goofy pic of Ellie watching me take pictures of the moon. You can see one of her gazillions of play toys behind her. I thought it was bad to pick up after a toddler but Ellie takes the cake, at any given time she'll have 7-10 toys strewn throughout the living and dining rooms.  xo - Em

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Just feeling a little (ok, a lot) frustrated. Lost about 50 pictures on my flash drive today. The real bummer is that I think they were really good. Most of my photos from last night and today uploaded fine, but not the ones I took at a sweet little lake this afternoon. The light was perfect, the setting was serene. Giant colorful fall leaves drifting along the shoreline spotlit by the sun peeking through the clouds. Nice movement along the shore with slow, lazy days waves. Some of the leaves looked like little miniature boats just the right size for a fairy. The water was only a few feet deep along the shore and there were several leaves that were at the bottom of the lake looking upward - small fish swimming over and around them.

Oh it was so lovely today! And I'm sooooo frustrated. I also snapped a couple of photos of this cute home built in 1871 (it's on the National Historic Registry) and is for sale. So super-adorable. But they are gone too. At least the photos Taylor's high school marching band contest turned out ok - not the best, but ok. Here's to a better photo day tomorrow! xo - Em

Thursday, October 14, 2010


My dear friend Lanie has been down with health issues recently so I got her a little pick-me-up. She and I took a cake decorating class together last winter (so fun and messy!). Once she's feeling better I hope we can spend an afternoon making some super-cute cake pops! Get better soon my friend.

If you like to bake yummy treats or like some eye-candy ;)  - check out the new book from Bakerella!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Pumpkins everywhere!

Drove to Kalona for breakfast this morning and on the way there's a cute old wagon chock full of pumpkins, gourds and mums! It's a self-serve roadside stand that is set up every fall. So today we stopped snapped away and bought a couple of lovely pumpkins. Happy pumpkin pickin'! xo - Em

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Fall Fun - ps: I wore the flower at to the UI football game :)

Here we are a few weeks into my FAVE time of year - autumn. I love LOVE fall! Football, colorful crunchy leaves, pumpkins, apple cider, marching band, all hallows eve, harvest moon, homecoming, hay rides, crisp cool air, caramel corn, and sooooooo much more!
Started getting the autumnal decorations out and having a little fun with them. Chaperoned the homecoming dance at T's high school last weekend. He and his Miss Thing were lookin' sharp.

Saturday we tailgated with good friends before the UI vs PSU game. Of course our beloved Hawkeyes won! It was Homecoming at the University of Iowa and each section was assigned to wear black or gold. Our section was gold. It was a night game and I LOVE those the best. It was cool out, the stadium looked awesome with the sections alternating black and gold. AND WE WON!!! Go Hawks!

Sunday afternoon I took our dog Ellie and drove up to Cedar Falls to see Lise. She took us on a fabulous walk around her favorite little lake up there. Ellie (who's half golden retriever and part lab) thinks she doesn't know how to swim! But we showed her she does - poor pup - there was a look of pure panic on her hairy little face for a just a second - then she doggy paddled a whole foot until she could touch the bottom again. Good times! She was wore out and slept most of the way home (almost two hours). 

Happy Autumn to you! xo - Em

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity Art & Flower Festival

The weather is a'changing and with it brings fun new fall activities. Saturday we checked out the Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity 7th Annual Art and Flower Festival at Anna's Cutting Garden in rural Oxford. The weather was cool, an autumn chill in the air, as we took in the sights and smells of the festival. Approximately 15 local artists (a potter, artist, photographer - to list a few) were selling their wares and some even demonstrated their crafts. Music from Court Hill Woodwind Quintet and Marc & Brandi Janssen added to the festivities with the sounds of old-time fiddle tunes, country duets, and early-bluegrass songs on fiddle, mandolin, banjo and guitar. The smell of wood-fired oven pizza and fresh apple cider tempted our tastebuds. Mmmm! Kittens roamed the country garden grounds and fresh flowers and herbs were picked and arranged. We snagged a lovely bread bowl from potter Val Neumann - her pottery is amazing! Also, purchased fab homemade bar of soap from a soap maker - it smells so good! Here are a few photos from the festival. I can't wait for next year! xo - Em

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

To Flower or Not?

Do you ever have those moments where you are a little afraid of what other people think of you? I hate to admit that I certainly do. The other day I got caught up in the whole Hawkeye accessories madness - you know what I mean when you have a game or event and want to buy stuff that matches it. It’s similar to buying the cool t-shirt from (insert your vacation city here). So I was at Walgreen’s before the first home football game when I spotted them. Flowers - yellow, white. Pretty. Like candy for your hair! I bought two. One yellow, one white, of course! 
Back at the office, I carefully clipped the yellow one in my hair above my ear. I turned side to side, admiring it. Smiled. Then it hit me and the questions started taunting me. “Won’t people laugh at you with that silly yellow flower in your hair? Seriously, aren’t you a little old to wear that? Tacky. Really? Seriously? WOW!”
So, I did the safe thing and took the flower out. Fixed my hair back the way it was. Put the flower away. Calmed those pesky critters in my head who question everything I do. For now anyway.
But last weekend the flowers caught my eye again. The white one sits on my dresser, tag still on. The yellow one was still shoved away in my purse. After work last Saturday I put it back in my hair. I wore it into Carlos O’Kelly’s and to the store where Taylor works. Sweet son - he told me he liked it. Maybe it’s not so bad. Maybe there weren’t too many people who laughed at me. Maybe nobody did. Maybe I don’t care if they did.  xo - Em

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Goodbye August

As this last weekend of August was winding down and the sun was setting I grabbed my camera and prepared to head out. But there was no keeping Ellie home. She met me at the back door when she heard me putting on my shoes, tail wagging and all - I had to bring her too. Now I need to say she isn't the best dog in the car. We have leather seats so I put an old flannel sheet down to keep her from sliding around and scratching the seats - she just won't sit still in the car! Of course, summer in Iowa is hot, hot, HOT! With the heat index, temps today were around 90 and it was sticky - that darned humidity! On our drive we alternated between having the air conditioning on and turning it off to open the windows to feel the hot breeze.

We saw a couple of deer, a cat, a few dogs, lots of sheep, goats, cows, children throwing a football in front of an old farmhouse, an Amish girl waved to us, rows and rows of corn, fields of soybeans, fresh cut hay, oodles of dragonflies. We finished our drive by stopping at a nearby enchanted cemetery where we were nearly eaten alive by mosquitoes but got a few pics despite them.

September is calling to us, teasing us with falling leaves, warm colors, football games, apple cider, leaves that crunch when we walk upon them, The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown trying once again to kick the football. Oh Autumn, we await your arrival and embrace the cool air, bonfires, pumpkins. xo - Em