Dec 27, 2010

It's the holiday season...

Every holiday season I am reminded how much I love spending time with our family, despite the crazy winter driving. This year we managed to avoid snow and ice covered roads, for the most part, and travel to Eldora, Davenport, and Cedar Rapids. We have seen most of our family and even some friends who live out state. We started our holiday journey at my parents house in Eldora. We arrived before a big snow storm and had the pleasure of spending two and half days snowed in at the Ellefson lodge :) I always love the snow covered trees that surround my parents house. It brings me back to my childhood and trudging around with my brother in our snow gear trying to find a decent hill to sled down... which was a process since every inch of land surrounding us is either completely tree covered or flat. Christmas Eve we had a lovely time joining my parents for a potluck dinner at church, followed by a late church service. It was so much fun seeing both my parents singing in the choir! They just added a new choir director and pianist to their church music family. They are both amazing musicians! I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the choir director sing Oh Holy Night. Wow! It is exciting to see all the changes that have taken place since I moved in 2003.

Our next stop was Davenport for Christmas day where we joined Ben's family for a LARGE celebration! It always amazes me that they can fit almost 30 people in his grandparents house! We did a white elephant gift exhange. What a success! It was great to see the hilarious stuff people came up with. I think this will be  something to try again next year. I know we have some treasures lying around at home that would be perfect! It was great to see Ben's family. They are such a joyous and fun group of people :) They remind me of my dad's family Christmas in Hampton, IA when I was a child. The house smelled of delicious baked goods and coffee :)

We headed to Cedar Rapids Christmas night. On our way there, a beautiful snow fell. I haven't seen snow flakes that big in a long time. When we arrived in Cedar Rapids I expected to go to bed. I guess that was not my mother-in-law's plan! She wanted to celebrate and open presents! We had a fun time sipping egg nog, listening to Christmas music, and exchanging presents. My in-laws always seem to choose the perfect items for us. I love to see the creative things they come up with.  We went to bed late with full bellies and smiles on our faces :)

I have to say that we had a relaxing and great Christams this year. It was wonderful to not be rushed around or stressed about weather. A big thank you to our loving and generous families for their welcoming arms and kind gifts. Merry Christmas to all and all a good night!

Here are a few photos of the beautiful snow covered trees in Ben's parents neighborhood and the pups pretending to be watch dogs.

Dec 19, 2010

Sew fun!

I spent the weekend trying to catch up on sewing. My cousin asked me to make four stockings for her family. Here are two of the stockings I made. I just love the fun fabrics and colors used in these stockings. I wish I had more time to make my family some too! I can't post the other sewing projects because they are Christmas presents and I don't want to spoil the surprise!

Dec 15, 2010

New New New!

Here is where I spend most of my time these days.... South Prairie Elementary School in Grimes, IA. I am teaching the K-2 students art!!! So far, so good. Everyone at the school has been very helpful and welcoming. I look forward to spending the next few months with these folks! I am also teaching two classes at Dallas Center Grimes HS. I am finishing up with the art appreciation and painting classes and will start the next semester with Ceramics and Painting. Pray for me and my ceramics skills.... could be interesting. I am totally a 2D artist... but, I am slowly learning more and more about ceramics and other 2D media.

Dec 12, 2010

So long.....

After 17 weeks of early mornings, lots of caffine, and hard work.... I AM DONE STUDENT TEACHING! I will admit that I was a bit anxious at the thought of being a teacher 5 days a week. BUT, I have had soooo many great experiences and met the greatest teachers, students, and staff during that time. It is always hard to say goodbye to such wonderful people, but it is time. I will start Tuesday... yes, this Tuesday, at Dallas Center Grimes Schools as a long term substitute teacher for K-2 art and two HS art classes. I am subbing for a gal on maternity leave. Her baby came early and I am jumping right in! I hope I can figure it all out quickly, as I am THE TEACHER! Yikes! Honestly, I do not even know how to get to the art room in the HS... and I do not have keys. This could be interesting. Stay posted for my adventures as a sub. woo! Well, I have my second bachelors degree and a job with pay... life is looking pretty good right now. Thanks to all who helped me on this journey. I truly appreciate it :)

In honor of my time student teaching... I posted some fun pics of student artwork!

Dec 8, 2010

Belly laugh!

My cousin posted this photo on Facebook from a family wedding last month. This photo of my dad-in-law makes me laugh every time!!! I have no memory of this shot, but it looks like we were having a good time. :)

This photo is from a family wedding in St. Charles, IL. It was at a neat historical hotel in the downtown area. We had a great time catching up with family. Unfortunately, the dance floor was not hopping.... soooo... I coaxed a few poor souls out on the dance floor! Congrats to Danielle and Jason on their new marriage! 

Yum yum in my tum!

After a friend asked me for a recipe I made at a get together last spring... I developed a craving. The craving was for this delicious rice, black bean, and corn salad! Ooooo sooo good. I got the recipe originally from my mom-in-law. I thought it would be fun to share because it is a favorite!

This should serve about 4-5 people. You can make larger as needed!
1 cup cold cooked brown rice
1/2 cup cooked corn kernels
1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1/3 cup black beans
1/2 red onion. finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
1/2 jalapeno pepper, minced
1 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
(add avocado and any other veggies that are hanging around for more flavor!)
1. In a large bowl, combine the rice, corn, bell pepper, celery, beans, onion, cilantro, and jalapeno.
2. In a small bowl, whisk the vinegar, lime juice, oil, and salt.
3. Pour over the rice mixture and toss to coat. 
4. Refrigerate, covered, until the flavors are blended, at least one hour.
5. You can eat this recipe as a salad or dip with tortilla chips.

ENJOY! Happy Wednesday!

Dec 5, 2010

Lazy Sunday....

I started my day with church at Lutheran Church of Hope in West Des Moines. I love starting the day this way! The rest of my day was filled with couch sitting, chili eating, and puppy snuggling. I was pretty lazy all day, but I needed it after my busy day yesterday. I have the tree up, lights up, and decorations out! Now, on to present shopping next weekend.

I am not sure why, but the pups seem to think that their assigned seats are on either side of me! Here is an older pic of the two snuggling.... what     they do best!

Dec 4, 2010

I heart Glee... yah, I said it. :)

Today, I am downloading the Glee Holiday Soundtrack on iTunes this afternoon. I have recently found a strange obsession with the show Glee. I am absolutely captured by the drama and music on this show! Makes me wanna sing and dance every time I watch! SOooooo... what will be better than some holiday music sung by the cast of Glee?!?! While listening, I am making some more adorable produce bags... my new item on! Check out the produce bags and new aprons available today. Also, check out the coupon code for 10% off any regular priced item.

Its the most wonderful time of the year....

Nothing makes my heart warmer than seeing a person get what they truly need. Today our small group delivered presents to a family who was not able to provide Christmas presents for their family. We had the joy of shopping together as a small group and gathering to have a wrapping party to prepare the gifts for delivery. Not only was this a wonderful opportunity to gather as a group during the holidays, but a chance to touch lives. If you have the resources to participate in an Adopt a Family program, I highly suggest doing it. Seeing the happiness and relief in the faces of the people we were helping was the best present I could get this year. Reflecting on this experience reminds me that the purpose of this holiday is not about checking things off a 'to do' list, but celebrating the birth of our Lord and the love He gives us all year round. I feel blessed to be able to take part in an experience like this. God bless!