Thursday, December 31, 2009

Girlfriends!

I took the entire week off between Christmas and the New Year. Josh wasn't able to take time off too so I found myself with a few days free while he is at work. I met up with two girlfriends, Jaime & Marietta on Monday morning and played board games, chatted and drank lots of coffee. We had so much fun that we decided to do it again on Wednesday with a third friend, Angelica. I laughed so hard yesterday that I was crying. I walked away with such a warm and happy feeling. I thought that I should share some oldie but goodie pictures of us. I'm thankful to have such wonderful friends.






Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Flickr

This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Slow down and remember to breathe

After a busy week, Josh and I really tried to relax this weekend. We played board games, visited with family, made some home cooked meals and just put our feet up. Pictured above is Josh playing "Mastermind" - one of my Christmas presents. He's trying to break the code.

I'm looking forward to this next week. I have all week off and lots of fun things to do. Tomorrow morning I'm meeting some girlfriends at a coffee shop to play scrabble and rummy - something that we did often in our early 20's and can now barely fit it in once a year. Life seems to just get more and more complicated. So it is nice to just take a break and revisit some of the basics.

My friends Amber & Nancy Pilgrim have said it to me often over the years - "Remember to breathe." It is so simple, but oh so important. A literal and/or metaphorical deep breath of fresh air can really do a person good.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas day!

We had a nice Christmas day. We woke up early, picked up family at the airport and had a nice morning visit at home over cinnamon rolls and hot tea. Then, we all loaded into the car and headed down to Tucson for gift giving and dinner eating with Josh's family. We received and gave lots of great gifts. Is there a better feeling than giving gifts to the ones that you love? Honey had so much fun. She busily sniffed each package as it was handed out, missed no opportunity to be petted and enjoyed a few scrumptious bites of turkey. She's so tired now that I can hear her snoring as she slumbers next to me on the couch.


Dinner was great. Josh's mom made a fabulous turkey and her stuffing is always a huge treat. The family cookies that I made passed the test. Everyone seemed very pleased with them. Life is good.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Pepparkakors

Pepparkakors are a family recipe for Swedish cookies that was passed down from Josh's great-grandmother to his grandmother to her children and finally found its way to my doorstep. Josh's Grandmother taught me how to make these scrumptious treats this year. Although it is a lot of hard work, it was a big pay off to see how happy they made Joshua. It took me 3 days to finish them. I made the dough and then had to let it cool in the fridge. The next day, I rolled them out and baked. And finally, the icing was done today with the help of my cousin Loretta who is freshly home from New York City.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas from Josh & Sara!


Our tree! Although it is not quite straight, it smells wonderful and fits in our living room just right. We love tree hunting and decorating our house for this beautiful and lovely holiday. Our stockings are hung with care. We sent dozens of Christmas cards to friends and family, wrapped packages, tied bows, baked cookies and feel pretty confident that we are ready for the big day.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Josh in Washington DC

Joshua enjoyed a quick trip to Washington DC. He attended a conference on state budgets. Thankfully, he got a chance to see a few sights and was under strict orders to take pictures of holiday decorations for me to see. I'm sure the city is quite nice around the holidays.



Sunday, November 29, 2009

Post Thanksgiving


We had a successful and happy Thanksgiving weekend. I baked my first pie. It was an apple pie and it looked and tasted wonderful. Josh and I drove down to his parents ranch in Cochise County, Arizona for a wonderful holiday dinner on Thursday. Josh's mom is a great cook. I especially love her turkey stuffing....mmmmm, good! Then, we back tracked to Tucson and stayed at a resort for a few nights. Although we did get ample rest and relaxation, the resort itself didn't turn out to be as nice as we had anticipated. It had paper thin walls. We could hear entire conversations from our neighbors. We were sort of forced to unintentionally eavesdrop. On Saturday, we watched the University of Arizona vs. Arizona State University football game with Josh's family. This is always a nice rival game since half of the family went to ASU and the other half when to UofA. I entertained myself with a crossword puzzle and my Vogue Magazine. I'm just not a sports fan. I can see why people enjoy it and find it entertaining. It just isn't for me. Thankfully, I am rarely short on entertainment. I almost always have a book, magazine, beading project or something up my sleeve to keep myself out of trouble when some sort of sporting event pops up. Today, we did some preliminary decorating. We hung our outdoor lights and stockings. We created our holiday photo cards and submitted our order. I made my list for holiday baked goods and handmade gift items. I only purchase a few gifts each Christmas. I usually try to stick to baking and making my presents. Next weekend, we will get our Christmas tree. Yay!!!! All in all, we really enjoyed Thanksgiving. Josh and I both feel like we have a ton to be thankful for this year. Most of all: each other, our happy-go-lucky dog, our family and our friends. With a roof over our heads, food in our pantry and jobs that we can rely on, we count our blessings...each and every one of them. I hope that your Thanksgiving was as nice as ours.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

An early giving of thanks...St. Mary's Food Bank

“The giving of love is an education in itself” - Eleanor Roosevelt

It is hard to believe that Thanksgiving is just next week. On the past 2 Saturdays I've volunteered for St. Mary's Food Bank in Phoenix with my Meetup Group. It has been a nice reminder of just how many things I have to be thankful for this year. For instance, I have food in my pantry and a roof over my head. I'm thankful. Josh and I both have jobs and each other. I'm a part of a meetup group that's only purpose is to volunteer in our community and there are 927 members. Can you imagine? Almost 1000 people that want to give a helping hand. How fantastic is that? I'm thankful! So, last weekend I went to the actual St Mary's warehouse and helped pack overnight food bags on an assembly line. I was the pasteurized milk girl, adding a small carton of milk to each bag as it rolled by. As I worked, I pondered on how thankful I am to live in a country where anyone can find a meal if they need a meal and the big reason why this is possible is places just like this. St. Mary's Food Bank was the very first food bank globally. It was founded by John van Hengel in 1967. Their history is a fascinating story and encourage you to read more about it. "Keeping pace with the incredible upturn in need that has followed the poor economic climate and the huge rise in unemployment and underemployment, the Food Bank will distribute more than 65 million pounds of food in 2008-09 to meets the needs of the ever-rising number of Arizona's hungry - providing enough food into the community to provide nearly 300,000 meals per day."

This weekend I worked at a turkey drive, again for St. Mary's. "Every holiday season the Food Bank distributes thousands of food boxes to Arizona families. These boxes include a turkey and additional holiday food items as a way for families in need to enjoy the holiday season. Last year, the Food Bank distributed nearly 20,000 holiday food boxes." They are expecting to find the community needs to be far greater this year. I learned $.97 to every $1.00 that is donated goes directly to food. Can you believe that? That is efficiency! They are able to do this because of volunteers. In times like these, there are more in need and less from previous years able to give. So it is more important than ever that people volunteer and contribute when they can. The most heart warming moment today goes to a woman who donated 10 turkeys. She explained that she received a Thanksgiving food box last year and that she wanted to return the favor 10 fold. WOW! So, if you have a desire to help after hearing about this neat organization, you can go here to learn more.
Do you know what else I am thankful for? My aunt and my cousin are walking the Breast Cancer 3day this weekend in San Diego. I am so proud of them. I personally know how hard of a walk that is since I participated last year. My cousin posted on facebook, "blisters-check, tears-check, exhaustion-check....day one of the 3 Day Breast Cancer Walk down and I'm ready for bed, only to wake up at 5:30 in the morning and start up again!" Oh, do I remember that pain! I believe that they are still in need of more donations to reach their minimum requirements. They will be finishing up their long and arduous walk today. Congratulations ladies, I am so thankful for you two and proud of the work you have done!

All in all, in these difficult times, I am thankful to see so many people giving so much of themselves, their time, their energy, their funds and food, etc. Being an eternal optimist, I feel like we can make it through anything if we are generous and kind to our neighbors in the process. Giving a helping hand just makes the world a little bit of a nicer place. What are you thankful for this holiday season?

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween



Happy Halloween!

Josh and I are spending a nice low-key Halloween at home. Josh has carefully picked out a few very scary movies for us to watch. I carved up a pumpkin to light and roasted pumpkin seeds for a salty snack to go along with our ever-so-bad candy stash. I love holiday traditions. I hope that each and every one of you has a spook-errific holiday.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Feeding my body & my soul

I am celebrating the end of week 4 of intense, morning boot camp. As with most, I struggle from time to time with my diet and exercise regimen. Things get busy, I travel, I eat out......eventually, I have a problem. So to get back on track my best friend and I have been meeting up every available week day morning for a faux boot camp. We committed to 8 weeks. We hike most mornings and sprinkle in some weight training here and there. We are building up our endurance so that we can tackle some of the big summit trails in Phoenix - Camelback & Piestewa Peaks. I can't say that I entirely love waking up at 6am each day, but I've managed to make it work. Spending time with Erin each morning is priceless. So yesterday, I hiked the majority of the Circumference Trail at Piestawa Peak. This is not for the faint of heart. It is long with some pretty nice climbing areas (3.2 miles / moderate level). I hiked for a little over 2 hours straight. It felt GREAT! I definitely think that I am well on my way to accomplishing the summit trails in a few weeks and I am already feeling the benefits of regular exercise.

In other news, I've been feeding my soul with a little volunteer time. Yesterday morning, I spent time at an elementary school in Phoenix. I helped with the AR Store. It is a program that celebrates kids reading by offering them prizes that are ranked by the amount that they read. It is always a fun day to spend in the library. I look forward to their next RIF day (Reading is Fundamental). I love reading out loud to the kids. It is always fun for them and fun for me too.

Today is "Make a Difference" day. Josh and I celebrated by volunteering together at Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Area, south of downtown Phoenix. There was an event for World Water Day. I got to spend the morning talking to children about the things that they can do on a day-to-day basis to conserve trees, water and energy as well as waste and pollution management. With all of the neat technological advances we have made over the past 200 years, come some basic responsibilities to not abuse them. Reduce, recycle & Reuse! Joshua explained water surface tension to little ones by letting them us a dropper to add drops of water onto the top of a penny. Most kids were able to add 30 drops to the top of a penny and see the water dome. They LOVED it. I even met a fellow beader who was also volunteering.

Now, I think is a good time for some rest and relaxation. I hope that you have a lovely weekend.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

SoftFlexGirl in the Big Apple


First and foremost, check out VAharoni's blog entry about her visit to the Soft Flex Glass Art and Bead Festival in NYC. It is always a joy to meet online friends in person. I was very glad to meet Valerie in person. I actually recognized her by necklace! She was wearing one of her Flex Your Creativity Beading Contest entries.

It is always a treat to visit New York for the
Soft Flex Glass Art & Bead Festival (annual October). This year was cold and wet, two things that I am not accustomed to since I live in the desert. I can't say that I was particularly thrilled to tromp through the streets shivering and doing my best to hold my umbrella at just the right angle so that the wind wouldn't destroy it. But, I do have to say that Monday's weather made up for the 3 or 4 gray days. The sun was finally out and it was amazing how my whole attitude adjusted. I guess I am really, truly meant to live in the desert. I love sunshine. Rain or snow are okay for a short time, but I can't imagine dealing with it everyday.

The bead show itself was stellar. I'm not just saying that because I'm a Soft Flex'er. There really is a great mixture of different types of exhibitors at our
NY Glass Art and Bead Festival. There is a little bit of everything and it makes it very fun to look around. I definitely felt inspired. I picked up a few choice items for my bead collection. Some Soft Flex gemstones. I'm absolutely in love with our short strands. It really makes buying nice gemstones affordable. I don't normally need an entire strand because I like to mix and match beads. This works out quite well for me. I also picked up seed beads from Jane's Fiber, an adorable owl and bird toggle from Green Girl Studios and then a few clasps from Soft Flex. The new FIT location was really nice.

Lisa Kan gave me the most gorgeous set of earrings. They are beautiful. I am so appreciative to have such talented and generous friends. Thank you, Lisa!!! Thanks to Andrew for his generosity as well. I'm so lucky!

We use vacation rental by owner to stay in NYC each year. Since we need a fairly large staff to pull off this show, we have found that this is the most affordable option for us. We usually rent 2 condos and split the staff between the two spots. This year, I was designated to stay in an apartment on 58th St., near Central Park. Unfortunately, the location didn't work out so the rental owner upgraded us into one of the many Trump Towers in Manhatten. It was on 70th Street and Riverside. Here is our subway stop at 72nd.....

My home for the week was on the 19th floor of the tall building at the end of the block. It was a nice walk home from the subway stop, when the sun was out on Monday when this picture was taken.

The best part of our apartment was the view. We had a gorgeous view of the Hudson River. Here is the sunrise view....


Here is the sunset view.....


I spent quality time with my cousin Loretta. She started attending Copper Union in Manhatten this fall. She has been in NYC for about a month and a half now. It was great to see her dorm room, meet her roommates, check out her neighborhood and shower her with winter items like hats, gloves and socks. I don't want her little fingers and toes to freeze off. She is from the desert just like me.

I also got a chance to visit with my boyfriend's brother and fiance. They live in the Bronx and always go out of their way to visit me in the city to have dinner and catch up. They are working hard on their wedding arrangements for a Tucson wedding on January 2, 2010.

All in all, I was cold from the weather but warmed by the love of friends and family. Gave and received gifts, shopped and ate too much good food, enjoyed the bead show and the view....life's not too shabby. The hardest part of traveling is missing Josh & Honey. I was really glad to be back home with them.


One last thing, our friends at the BSGNY are selling tote bags. I use mine all of the time. It is sturdy and fashionably chic for carrying around a bundle of stuff. It is lightweight and washable. So many tote bags look so cheap. Not these! They are really nice! It is only $30.00 plus shipping. All of us Soft Flex ladies love our tote bags. You should get one too and support the Bead Society of Greater New York.


Friday, October 9, 2009

Nobel Peace Prize


From: President Barack Obama
Subject: A call to action

Friend --

This morning, Michelle and I awoke to some surprising and humbling news. At 6 a.m., we received word that I'd been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009.

To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who've been honored by this prize -- men and women who've inspired me and inspired the entire world through their courageous pursuit of peace.

But I also know that throughout history the Nobel Peace Prize has not just been used to honor specific achievement; it's also been used as a means to give momentum to a set of causes.

That is why I've said that I will accept this award as a call to action, a call for all nations and all peoples to confront the common challenges of the 21st century. These challenges won't all be met during my presidency, or even my lifetime. But I know these challenges can be met so long as it's recognized that they will not be met by one person or one nation alone.

This award -- and the call to action that comes with it -- does not belong simply to me or my administration; it belongs to all people around the world who have fought for justice and for peace. And most of all, it belongs to you, the men and women of America, who have dared to hope and have worked so hard to make our world a little better.

So today we humbly recommit to the important work that we've begun together. I'm grateful that you've stood with me thus far, and I'm honored to continue our vital work in the years to come.

Thank you,
President Barack Obama

Sunday, September 27, 2009

"Pointless" Plant Sale



Reno - June 2009


Josh and I drove down to Tucson to spend time with his parents yesterday afternoon. Despite the heat wave that has some what squelched my excitement for Fall, we had a lovely day at the Tucson Botanical Gardens. Josh's parents specialize in scented geraniums but carry lots of different types of plants. They seemed pleased with how the sale went this year. You may remember that I posted a few months ago about them losing a dog named Patch. Oh, how I loved Patch. Well last weekend, they lost a second of their five dogs - Reno. They now only have 3 dogs. It is unfortunate that all of the dogs are the same age because now they are on pins and needles about the last 3. I am so sad about Reno. She was so kind, affectionate & easy going. She was just a really great dog. Thankfully she lived a wonderful life, out on a ranch, roaming free. Geez, just writing this, I'm tearing up. I just really loved her. Anyway, we thought it might cheer his parents up a bit if we dropped by for a visit. Losing a pet can be so difficult. If you are in the Tucson area, you can find Josh's parents selling plants every Saturday at St. Philips Plaza. They have a wealth of horticultural knowledge. In the Phoenix area, you can find them in a few weeks at the Fall Plant Sale for the Desert Botanical Gardens.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Fall in the Desert

It is a common misconception that we don't have 4 seasons in the desert. I don't agree. Our Summer, Fall, Winter & Spring may not be conventional, but you can definitely feel the changing of the weather. Basically summer is our reverse winter. We hide out inside, we head to the movie theatre, we get out of town in search of cooler weather. Summer runs from June-August. September, October & November (Fall) are still warm but, I find by mid-September I can get out and hike, walk my dog, ride my bike, etc. January & February are cold. Okay, it isn't REALLY cold - but it is coldER, especially as compared to 116-117 in the middle of Summer. Winter comes and goes in a blink of an eye (much like Summer for most of you non-desert dwellers). And Spring seems to last the longest. It starts to warm up in February and reaches 100 degrees sometime in May. Although we don't have a changing of the leaves or snow to mark the movement of the seasons, I can definitely feel the seasons change. For instance, the temperature finally dipped down lower than 100 degrees this past week. Guess what I did? I hung my Halloween lights and hung my pumpkin wreath on the door. Then, I laced on my hiking boots and took the nearby city park - Piestewa Peak (Squaw Peak to natives) for a hike. I didn't have to look at the calendar to know, it's officially Fall. Low and behold, today is the last day of Summer. Being a desert dweller, that is wonderful to hear. Yay for Autumn!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Josh in Baltimore

Joshua visited Baltimore this past week. He attended a conference for work. He got a chance to visit with his brother James and girlfriend Christina from New York as well as take a cruise of the harbor. It sounded like a nice trip, although I'm sure he missed me. :)



Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Sara's last day in London

Well, this is it. My last day. The show was slower today, as the last day of most shows are. I had a lovely Coq Au Vin at a small French restaurant for dinner. I'll miss Earl's Court (our little section of London). There are lots of really great places to eat. On one little side street (shown above), there is English, Chinese, Indian, Thai, French & Japanese. What a selection?! Although I am a little sad to go, I must say that I'm quite excited to get home to Josh & Honey. I miss them.

What's next? Well, I have one day to recover before I will head down to Tucson for Saturday and Sunday for the Best Bead Show. Thankfully, Josh is probably coming with me. That will make it extra special.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Hyde Park in London

This morning, I got up early and took coffee and oatmeal down to Hyde Park before the show this morning. I sat on a park bench and ate my breakfast in the "Rose Garden" (my favorite part of the park) and then took a nice fast paced walk through the park. It's a beautiful place to visit and I think I might go back again tomorrow. Here are some pictures. :)


This little guy was hoping that I'd trade oatmeal for a his singing me a song. He was pretty cute and friendly.





Monday, September 7, 2009

Another day in London....

This is what happens if you don't take time to figure out the coin system in the UK! Anything under 5 pounds ($5) is in a coin that includes 1 & 2 pound coins. Of course, this was pretty confusing at first. Now, I'm getting more accustomed to it. Mike, however, decided to only pay with paper money for everything so far this week and had not used any of his pound coins. Needless to say, his pockets were getting a little heavy with coins. So tonight at dinner he decided to unload at the restaurant and obviously, it looked very strange. I just can't get used to a coin being worth 1-2 pounds. That just seems so strange to me - but I suppose that they feel the exact same way about our $1 bills.

At any rate, today went by as quickly as yesterday. My math conversions are getting better and better and my ability to pick out the right coins seems to be getting quicker. Now if we can just work on Mike with that! I took a nice video of Mike in the booth, but it looks like I can't quite load it due to the type of internet connection I have here in London. So, I will load it onto You Tube and share when I am back home next week.

Cheers from the UK!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Day 2 - Sara in London

Well, Saturday was busy. In true Sara fashion, standing in awe of the London Tower, I tripped and fell down. I guess I forgot to "mind the gap" as they so frequently say on the subway. So unfortunately, I strained my ankle first thing this morning. After a long day full of more walking, it is quite sore this evening. But being that this was really my only full day available, I just couldn't stand the idea of staying in to rest my silly ankle. Thankfully, there is a stool for me to sit on tomorrow when the IJL show opens and I am demo-ing. We stopped by the HS Walsh booth where we will be demo-ing our products and saw the IJL show this afternoon. Holy moly - it is huge! I'll get some good photos of the show tomorrow. There was lots of eye candy! Anyway, here are my pictures from today.


London Bridge
London Bridge

London Tower

Changing of the guard - London Tower

Scott and Mike on subway

The London Eye

Buckingham Palace from the London Eye

On the London Eye
The London Eye and Thames River

West Minster Abbey

Methodist Church

Cityscape

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