Monday, December 28, 2009

A Texas Christmas

What a wonderful holiday I have had here in Texas! I was lucky enough to be able to come home for 2 whole weeks and have enjoyed being able to relax and spend lots of time with family and friends. I got to see almost all of my good college friends at Kate Bailey's wedding two weekends ago (what a beautiful and fun wedding!)... and my four best friends from high school and I all happened to be in Waco for Christmas and we rendezvoused at Barnes and Noble, our old hang out. All of my mom's family traveled from Pennsylvania, Arizona, Abilene and Dallas to Waco before Christmas for a little family reunion. I loved having everyone in the same house again - a once common occasion that has become a rare opportunity.

My parents, Sarah, Taylor, Carter and I all went to the 7th & James Christmas Eve service which is one of my favorite Christmas traditions. The music and readings were wonderful and watching Carter and all of the kids at the service was quite humorous.

On Christmas morning, all of the Waco Carters gathered at Sarah and Taylor's house for breakfast and to watch the little guy open his presents from Santa. I don't think he had any idea what was going on, but he sure loved his Tonka truck and fake remote control! The Belfs arrived in town that evening and we all enjoyed a yummy Christmas dinner and spending time together opening gifts. The kids were completely wound up and full of the Christmas spirit which made for a high-energy evening!

All of my dad's side of the family came in town the day after Christmas and we had a good time hanging out, eating Mexican food, and playing Taboo together.

The Christmas season is my favorite time of year and it has been a wonderful Christmas vacation here in Texas! We even got snow on Christmas Eve - who would have thought!

the aprons I made for Hannah and Alice Anne - this shot shows a little of the chaos of the kids opening presents!

calmed down and ready for a photo shoot

Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy 3rd Birthday, Hannah!

Yesterday was my niece Hannah's 3rd birthday - she's such a big girl! My sister Emily said that the night before Hannah's birthday as she was getting in bed she said, "Mommy, what will I do when I'm three years old?" if the next day she was going to experience a big life transformation. Hannah had a dress-up princess party and she was so excited for all of her friends to come over to celebrate with her. All of the little girls and boys threw on prince and princess clothes, loaded up on sugary snacks and ran around the backyard like wild! Little Alice Anne took full advantage of having aunts and grandparents around who will spoil her and stayed close to the goodie table where people continued to hand her treats which she shoveled into her mouth. It was a crazy, but fun party! I can't believe Little Hannah is already 3 years old, but I also can't remember not having her in the family. I love you so much Hannah!

Friday, December 18, 2009

You're Hired

It's official! After 2 months of working as a temporary employee at Medical Teams International, I have been hired on as a full-time permanent employee. My job title is Auction and Resource Development Coordinator so I will be working on the Great Adventure Auction when it is in full swing and assisting in the development department during the down times. I am so thankful to have a job, especially since the Portland job market is one of the worst in the country. But more than that, I am ecstatic to be working for such an incredible organization as MTI. It is truly a blessing to be working in the development department for an international organization - my two sweet spots. And the fact that it's a faith-based organization makes it that much better. I couldn't ask for more. This phenomenal opportunity makes me think, "What if this is the reason I came to Portland?" I am confident that this is God's plan for me during this stage of my life.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Holiday Festivities

This has been a very festive week full of holiday celebrations. Tuesday was our Christmas work party at Medical Teams. We all gathered in the chapel for a midmorning brunch and wonderful conversation with coworkers about anything but work. We also had a couple of fun activities planned including a raffle and a game which involved Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas story. My team was given the task of telling the story "with an international twist". There are so many incredibly cultured and intelligent people at MTI who know several different languages. The people on my team quickly said, "Let's each tell a little of the story in different languages. I speak German." And someone else said, "I speak Dutch." I timidly admitted, "I don't have a foreign language to contribute." "Sure you do," they said; "Texan!" So I played little Cindy Loo Who and when my moment in the spotlight came, I buttered up the Texas accent and said, "Mr. Grinch (played by the organization's president), why y'all taking our presents?" We ended the party by singing several Christmas songs - with a Mexican flare.

This afternoon was the 1st annual Medical Teams Christmas cookie exchange (we really do find time to work in between parties). Everyone baked a couple dozen of their favorite holiday goodies and we all got to tak a variety home. I made candy cane cookies - a holiday recipe given to me by Katy Reynolds. Yum!

My home community group often volunteers at Marshall High school where my friend Amber runs the afterschool program. Tonight was their winter craft party where they made gingerbread houses, decorated cookies and could have funny pictures taken to frame and give as gifts.

And the week's not over... tomorrow night is a friend Terry's 50th birthday party. The festivities never end... party on!

Candy Cane Cookies
Mix together:
- 1 C soft shortening
- 1 C confectioners sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 1/2 tsp peppermint extract
- 1 tsp vanilla

Sift together and stir in:
- 2 1/2 C flour
- 1 tsp salt

Divide dough. Add 1/2 tsp red food coloring to half of dough. Roll about 1 tsp of each color of dough into a "worm". Twist into candy cane.

Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 until slightly golden (less than 10 minutes). Sprinkle with sugar while still warm. Best when eaten with a warm mug of hot cocoa!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Elk Cove Vineyard

Today my friends Katrina, Amber, Shari and I went wine tasting at Elk Cove Vineyards. Katrina's aunt and uncle started the vineyard, which is about an hour west of Portland, back in 1977. Elk Cove is one of Oregon's oldest and most respected wineries in Oregon and was named the "Pacific Northwest Winery of the Year" in 2007. It was so nice to spend the day out in the beautiful country and to just relax with a great group of women.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Christmas Time is Here

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas here at my house on Rhone Street! Christmas is my favorite holiday by far... how could it not be?! It's just so wonderful! I'm a big believer in waiting until after Thanksgiving to kick off the Christmas season... with two exceptions: Christmas lights and Christmas music. Lights take too much work and are too beautiful to enjoy for less than a month. And there is just so much wonderful Christmas music that you have to get a jump start in order to enjoy it all.

Last night my roommates Kathy and Tarah and I went out and bought our Christmas tree. This is the first real Christmas tree I've had since I was about 10 years old. I'd like to tell you a story of how we treked through the snow into a forest of douglas fir pine trees, labored to chop the tree down with an axe and then hauled it home in a trailer because it was to big to fit in our car. But we really just drove a mile to our neighborhood Fred Meyer grocery store and bought a $20 tree. The highlight of my night was when I was standing outside the store with the tree waiting for Kathy to pull the car around and a girl walked out, gave me a weird look and said "Why you hiding behind that tree?" Anway... we set the tree up in our home, decorated it and named him Rudy. He has already brightened and warmed our home.