Well back on August 14th Alyssa went to Flagstaff, but none of her stuff went with her! So Last week myself and best friend Laurie Stamas made a little girlfriends roadtrip up to NAU to deliver all her goods to her and help her haul them up the three flights of stairs to her new dorm room! We were lucky, athletes get to move in a day before everybody else so there were no parking problems or crowds to deal with! Within a half hour we had all her belongs moved into her new room. Her roomie was arriving the next day decorating would be happening after we left but I will share a few shots so you can see the bare bones of what a studio apartment dorm room is like... not bad in my opinion! They have a small but nice little kitchen that includes a little four burner stove with an oven a sink, and a 19 cubic foot refrigerator with a small freezer. across from the kitchen is a little eating bar with a couple of chairs. They also have their own bathroom , ( this is huge!) and a large living area that includes 2 desks 2 large bookshelves, 2 wardrobes, 2 dressers and 2 beds. They had more than enough room to add a futon end tables and and big chair and end tables to make a little mini living room. She gave me a mini video tour over an ichat session this week and it is really super cute now that it is all decorated. I will have to post some photos when she sends me some so you can see the finished room project! In addition to helping Alyssa get her room situated Laurie and I enjoyed some time hanging out together, which even though we live fairly close together we rarely get to do. While Alyssa was working out with the dance team we enjoyed a wonderful happy hour at a fabulous wine bar and restaurant called Brix . We had two hours of wine and chatting out of there beautiful patio in the glorious Flagstaff evening weather that was awesome! We are both rather obsessed with iphone/itouch apps and we were laughing that the other patrons must have thought us a bit odd as we were playing with our devices off on on throughout the discussion showing each other things we had recently downloaded and sharing photos. We also had some fun texting some old friends, Miley and Kelly from Nebraska while were sitting there who have been part of a few of our previous road trip adventures.... we miss those girls!! I will close with a few fun pictures of Laurie, Alyssa and I.
Not a perfect picture but it's the only one I have of us on her last day of summer. Last Friday Alyssa had to report back up to Flagstaff to begin athletic training camp with the rest of the NAU dance team. We had a nice time her last few days in town. We went out to lunch together and saw a great movie, Julie and Julia, which I would highly recommend! I also helped her decorate cookies and served as artistic advisor on a very cute scrapbook she created for her boyfriend. So many fun activities made it even harder to say goodbye. I dropped her off at her friend Ariel's house who is also a dance team member, they were making the drive up to Flag from Paradise Valley together. Tomorrow part II of Alyssa's migration to Flagstaff takes place, I will be bringing all her "stuff" up to her. Since the dorms are not yet open when training camp is going on she is staying with a team member who has an apartment. Athletes can move into the dorms slightly early on Wednesday morning so I will be driving up to help move her in. Since I am not a big fan of driving on curvy mountain roads my best friend from college. Laurie Stamas, who just happens to live close by was game for a 1 day road trip to Flagstaff to help me move Alyssa in! I hope Laurie knows what she is getting into moving all this stuff into Alyssa's 3rd floor room! Oh and of course Alyssa thought it would be a good idea if I brought up her beta fish "Biggie Smalls" so whoever isn't driving gets to hold the fish! When my husband saw all the stuff left for me to bring up to school he couln't believe she had brought anything with her yet! tee hee! Alyssa is happy that this year the has an apartment style dorm that has a small kitchen in it and a bathroom of it's own, ( a huge thing after having community bathrooms last year). So of course we have lots more stuff to fill up this slightly larger space! I's sure we will have pictures from the mini-roadtrip to Flagstaff this week so stay tuned.
All summer Long my best friend Laurie and I have been saying we need to get together with our girls who have been good friends forever as well... but you know how it goes. Laurie has to travel lots for her job, all our girls have summer jobs, we have family vacations, the list goes on, well we are finally getting together right before the Lexi, Stephie and ALyssa all head off to college for the fall semester. As you can tell by the photo we are minus Stephie who was in California, so of course as tradition dictates we had to do a photo with "flat Stephie" to be sure she was in at least one group shot!( We are going to see her next week in person!) Our happy group met up at Z tejas in Tempe, for a wonder couple hours of dinner , and laughter as well as serious debate over the current results of "So You Think You Can Dance", we are all VERY serious fans. We also had fun exchanging birthday gifts since all the girls birthday's as well as mine fall in the summer months. As usual Laurie gave me the perfect birthday gift! I just have to share since many of the people who read my blog are scrapbookers I think you may be interested! Laurie gave me a 10+ Journal, it is the coolest thing! It is a journal that allows you to write a small amount of journaling each day of the year and on each page it has space for ten years of entries so when your journal is done you will have 10 years of journaling snippets for every day of the year... so cool. Here are a couple pictures. I am excited to start using it. She also gave me one other really cute little goodie it is a little necklace with a camera on it... how fun it is this? Laurie and I have a history of loving anything that is "trial sized" this little necklace is so darn cute, i know i will be wearing it soon. We got Lexi and Stephie some adorable necklaces from the Dogeared Jewels company, can't show which one since steph hasn't got her's yet check out their website.... I want to buy everything! The Stamas Family spoiled Alyssa with jewelry and clothing from Urban Outfitters which made her very happy... I think she will be wearing her new goodies by the end of the day! The only thing missing in the evening was a photo of Laurie and I, don't know how we managed to not take one of us!!
This afternoon I had the opportunity to help Alyssa and her friends Kaitlyn and Jenna make some pillows to decorate the dorm rooms that they will be moving into in a few short weeks. Alyssa and Jenna will be rooming together up at NAU in an apartment style dorm this year and are excited to have a small living room in their apartment, they resourcefully found and purchased an inexpensive futon couch on Craigslist last week with a nice black cover that fits with their coler scheme. Today we were creating bright colored throw pillows to put on their couch. Kaitlyn will be attending ASU and was also creating some fun pillows for the cool futon couch she also bought on Craigslist, zebra print and bright pink were her color choices. The girls did the cutting and pinning and I did the machine sewing. We all took turns sewing the stuffing openings closed. The girls did a great job. Sequined fabric on Kaitlyn's pillows was not making it through the sewing maching well so we even had a little hand sewing going on at the end, which was pretty funny. It has been quite awhile since I have sat around sewing with a group of girls it was really fun to just sit and gab and sew, I am so glad they included me in their afternoon. Listeing to all the things they will having going on when they return to school makes me remember how much fun college was. It is so hard to believe it has been over thirty years since I was in their shoes seems like yesterday sometimes.
It was hard to leave the beach after a week of perfect weather, family togetherness, indulgent reading and DVD viewing pretty much total relaxation. Every day the view outside our beach house was similar to this sunshine, clear skies, good waves! I am already looking forward to the next beach trip. Here are a few more photo favs from the end of the week.
Michael and Alyssa had fun playing smash ball on the beach, Michael also spent more time in the water than any one else this week becoming quite the accomplished boogie boarder.I ventured into the water a few times but spent most of my time on the beach reading, people watching and doing a little walking. Mike got more exercise in than any of us, he brought along his mountain bike and went on quite a few nice rides in the early morning in the Carlsbad/Oceanside area. I did manage to read two more books this week that I really enjoyed. The Longest Trip Home, by John Grogan was a memoir that I truly enjoyed. I could really relate because the author grew up in the same part of Michigan that I did, and I really enjoyed reading about some the familiar landmarks of my childhood. John Grogan shares with humor what it was like to grow up in a devoutly Catholic family, and even though I am not Catholic I knew many families and kids in my neighborhood who where just like his. I really loved this book and it definitely made me a little teary eyed at the end, I would highly reccomend it. My final book of the week was Rise and Shine by Anna Quindlen, it kept my attention and was a good beach read but I would have to say it was my least favorite book of the week. I liked the storyline, the relationship between two sisters with very different lives and how thy cope with stress and tragedy but it was a little obvious and contrived for me. Since coming home I have started on a literature classic I have been meaning to read for quite some time The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck, I am about a third of the way through and totally loving it! I will share a review after I am finished. One of our final celebrations on vacation was Alyssa's 19th birthday, we went out to dinner at a nice Italian restaurant in Carlsbad, opened gifts and had really bad cake we bought at the grocery store! It was fun and now our girl is 19 and ready to start her sophmore year of college in just a few short weeks.
One of my favorite activities when going to the beaching is assembling a big stack of books to read. While at home I rarely have time to sit and literally read ALL day, while at the beach that is my primary activity. I have made a good dent in the books I have brought. The first book finished I would highly recommend, The Art of Racing in the Rain. I was a bit skeptical of reading another dog book but this one was super good. The story of Denny, ( the dog's owner) is told by Enzo the dog. I was hooked from the first page. It was a quick read that I couldn't put down, I laughed and definited cried. The ending was a bit predictable but I loved it just the same... go get this one! Next up was Pride and Predjudice and Zombies , I had picked this up many times and almost bought it, I was curious having read the Jane Austin original many years ago. I took the plunge and bought it at Target to read at the beach.I must admit it was alittle silly but it kept my attention and was definitely way different than most of what I read. I think die- hard Jane Austen fans my not care for it too much. Next on deck starting tomorrow is The Longest Trip Home. Both my hubby and my best friend loved this book by John Grogran and I am a big fan of Marley and Me so I am looking forward to this memoir of his youth! I will offer more book reviews as I work through my stack of books.
No better time to return to blogging than when on vacation right? We are enjoying the sand and sun of Oceanside, California. We really loved this particular beach house last year and were fortunate it was available during a week we were all free this year. I love this photo of ALyssa and Michael, when no one else is around they actually hang out together which is nice. The weather is wonderful and predicted to stay that way for the duration of our stay. So far I have eaten lots of food I have sworn off for the last couple months, had a couple margaritas and read two good books. I am looking forward to much more of the same.
Last weekend we had the opportunity to attend my niece Mackenzie's annual synchronized swimming water show, the weather was perfect and we had great seats!
Mackenzie has been a competing member of the Arizona Aqua Stars swim team since she was in elementary school, she toils in the pool with her teammates many hours a week during competiton season and has won many awards for her efforts, the annual watershow is our yearly opportunity to see her strut her stuff! I wish I was better at capturing the quick acrobatics and amazing synchronized movements her team executes in the pool check out some of the photo albums my cousin Dana( her mom) usually has posted in her blog sidebar albums to see what these gals can do!
I was able to get a couple cute pictures of
Mackenzie on the day of the performance with Alyssa and her college Roomate Riley and Mackenzie's other little cousin Katie, and a good picture of Michael with Mackenzie too. The costumes these swimmers wear are amazing as well sparkly and shimmering truly amazing... a tribute to all the moms to pitch in to do all the beadwork( I am talking bout you Dana!)
One of the things Alyssa had asked me to do for her over spring break was take some action photos of her dancing to attach to her 2009/2010 NAU dance team audition packet. I was happy to do it, but a bit nervous since photos capturing lots of movement have never been my specialty! I did have a location in mind though. The last few times I had been to down town Mesa I had taken note of very cool surfaces on the exterior walls of some of the historic downtown buildings, and cool paint colors as well!
We settled on a wall with a brick and plaster finish that looked cool behind the pictures and I got a few picture that weren't blurry yeah! I wish I hadn't clipped off her fingers in this leap photo, but it was the best leaping one we took so we went with it! Here are a couple more of my favorites of my favorite dancer we took that day.
Friday night, Alyssa came home from college at NAU for spring break week, Yeah! Other than Christmas this will be the first time we have had her home for this long since the beginning of the school year. we have plans to get manicures and pedicures and Alyssa was lucky enough to pick up a couple of shifts at Target over break as well. Other than that I think her primary plan is to hang out with friends and work on her tan! Yesterday we had some fabulous Arizona weather, 80 degrees and sunny, perfect weather for barbequing and being outside. We also had the pleasure of attending my niece Mackenzie's snychronized swimming water show,She swims or the Arizona Aqua Stars, I will post more on that tomorrow! In honor of ALyssa's return we had a nice little barbeque for dinner here was our menu: Marinated and barbequed steaks, corn on the cob, and Fire and Ice pickeled cucumbers and tomatoes. We also had some shrimp cocktail as an appetizer it was simply delish! I took a rare family photo minus myself of course during our appetizer course on the patio,
I am really going to attempt to snap lots of photos over the break, it is driving me crazy that I have absolutely no photos lately! I will close with my recipe, actually my mom's recipe for Fire and Ice pickled cucumbers and tomatoes. If you are looking for a good side dish this summer with a kick to it I would highly recommend it!
Fire and Ice Tomatoes and Cucumbers 6 medium tomatoes quartered 1 medium white onion slices thin 1 large or 2 medium cucumbers sliced thin 3/4 cup cider vinegr 1/4 cup water 1 tblsp plus 2 tsp sugar 1 1/2 tsp celery salt 1 1/2 tsp mustard seed 1/2 tsp salt 1/8 tsp pepper 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes Combine vegetables in a bowl. Combine remaining ingredients in a saucepan, bring to a boil and boil one minute. Pour over vegetables and mix, Cover and refrigerate 5-8 hours before serving.
Sometimes I take too long of a break from blogging and it makes it very hard to hop back in the blogging saddle again. Seems like even though I am busy, and lots of stuff if happening I keep thinking....well is it really blog-worthy? My friends, family and industry peeps are inquiring about an update so I here I go...... December is over but some definitely noteworthy things occurred so I will try to do a little recap! Christmas - it was wonderful, I was way more organized and prepared from a card sending, cookie making, shopping point of view this year largely because I took a great class from Aby Garvey at Simplify 101. I made a great Christmas binder that kept my holiday to-do's, lists, recipes and holiday stuff in order and accessible. I would highly reccommend Aby's classes on organization she has them going on her website year round check them out! Christmas did feel like it happened all at once though, even though Alyssa got done with class at NAU on 12/10 she was unable to come home from Flagstaff until the 20th due to an extended practice schedule with the NAU dance team. They are attending UDA College Cheerleading and Dance National Competition in January and had a short break 12/20-1/2 for the holidays so they could prepare. Mike had also had a crazy month of travel for work and was literally only in town on weekends, two of which he didn't feel so well on in December so we were doing much of our family shopping and planning over the phone, he finally finished traveling on the 19th! Michael was done with school on the 19th as well so Christmas hoopla officially started the weekend of the 19th!
We made a mad dash to finish up and wrap all the presents and 6 days later the holiday was upon us! Next up in my recap is the Dancing with the Stars Live tour show that my mom and I attended...... WOW was it fun. My mom and I both really enjoy watching the Dancing with the Stars program during the viewing season and we had attended the live tour show together last year too but this years show blew last year's away!To start off with we had AMAZING seats, we could see perfectly, some of the dancers even ran out down the aisles near us, and the choregraphy was so much better than last year, the numbers were all way over the top, with great costumes. All my favorite professional dancers from the show were there, as well as some of my fav stars from this season, i especially liked seeing Lacy Schwimmer and Lance Bass do some of my favorite numbers from the season. Mom and I may be making this a yearly event! The next season of Dancing with the Stars starts Monday, March 9th can't wait! As I mentioned in my uber-short 12/29 blog post I also did a fun Scrapbooking Segment on the Channel 12 Arizona Midday show. I have had the fun of appearing on channel 12 all through 2008 as their local scrapbooking expert, I really enjoy doing it, and the folks at Channel 12 a super nice. My after Christmas segment was on not being overwhelmed by your Christmas photos.
My favorite project was a little 6 x 6 book that was filled with simple pages showing my christmas card photos for the last 18 years, my family and friends have all enjoyed looking at it, and it is now a permanent part of our christmas decor. I am looking forward to getting it out again next year and adding the next picture! I used a super cute Album from American Crafts, all I had to do was slide in my mini pages, the page sleeves were already part of the book! We also had the pleasure of having some company over the holidays. Mike's sister Janet and her daughter Theresa stayed with us from the 30th -Jan 6th. It had been a few years since Janet had been to Arizona and we thrilled to have her back. We watched movies, played bocci ball and croquet, as well as Apples to Apples! We went shopping and enjoyed some fabulous dinners out! Janet and Mike both enjoy Mountain Biking so they took a bike ride in Usuary Park that Janet really enjoyed.
A few days later we all hiked up the trail to the Wind Cave at Usuary Park before coming home to watch the Cardinals play football. The photo at the right is proof that I actually went hiking, I am not the out-doorsy type but I have to admit I enjoyed the workout! I think Mike could convince me to go again, I do wish there were bathrooms at the top though, I drank lots of water on the way up and it seems like a long way down! The photo at the top of this blog post was also taken the day of the hike it is a great shot of what the desert looks like this time of year in my part of Arizona. We were all sad to see Janet and Theresa go because that signaled the end of the holidays, back to school for Michael and back to work and work travel for Mike, and work for me as well. The first week of January whizzed by, I had not really been on my computer much over the holidays and I had some work to attend to immediately,so I am sad to admit that I am just now taking down my holiday decorations, I am doing a little every day with high hopes that they will be officially stored away until next year by the end of this weekend. I am looking forward to seeing ALyssa and some of her dance team buddies tomorrow, they are driving down from Flagstaff so they can hop on a plane to Orlando Thursday morning to attend the UDA College Cheer and Dance Competition they have been prepping for, it will be fun having a houseful of girls for a night! Ok my recap is done.... I am going to make a concerted effort to blog regularly going forward.