Friday, December 31, 2010

Our engagement ring!

We picked up our ring today. It is beautiful. I can't stop staring at it and I certainly cannot stop smiling. This ring is nearly 100 years old and so delicate. Not only do I share the exact same ring size with Josh's great grandmother, but we recently learned that we share the same birthday. When I first tried it on, it was like Cinderella and her glass slipper. The ring slid on my finger as if it was always meant to be there.

I am definitely starting to get more and more excited about our upcoming wedding. November feels like a long time from now, but I am sure that it will fly by. I just can't wait to be Mrs. Sara Oehler.

I'd better get back to staring at my ring and smiling. Love to all! Happy New Year's Eve.
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Thursday, December 30, 2010

A new year

We are planning a visit to Josh's parent's ranch in Cochise County. The picture above is from a few years back, but I expect that it might look fairly similar when we visit. I definitely expect at least a sprinkling of snow. Honey is going with us. I'm fairly certain that she has never seen snow before, and I'm curious to see her reaction. I'm not a huge fan of the cold, but I do think it's nice to experience it every once in a great while. If nothing else, it reminds me just how much I love living in Phoenix. Although our hearts are all still heavy and burdened with loss, it will be nice to have some of the Oehler family together. I'm looking forward to sharing the gifts that we so carefully chose for each person and having a dinner that I don't have to make. There are 2 new dogs at the ranch to make a grand total of 7 now. I'm looking forward to meeting the new pack members (I've been watching a lot of "Dog Whisperer" over our holiday break).

Next week, family will start to arrive from near and far to remember Grandma Evelyn. Funerals are always bitter sweet. It is nice to see familiar faces, give hugs and catch up - but it is such a hard and sad reason for everyone to come together. Evelyn was Catholic, so there will be a mass and a small reception at the cathedral that she's attended for the past few decades. I worry about Joshua. His grandmother was such an important part of his life. It just breaks my heart when I think of his sadness. But, it is times like this when I know that I have the exact right husband-to-be. He has such a special soul.

It's been hard when people ask, "How was Christmas?". You want to tell them "great", "fantastic" or even "wonderful". That would be my usual reaction because I love Christmas, but it just isn't true this year. It was the best that it could be under the circumstances. Explaining why it wasn't great, fantastic or wonderful is never easy. I still have her present tucked inside the branches of our tree. It is a bracelet. I'm thinking of making it into some sort of commemorative ornament so that she can be a part of our tree always. I think she'd like that.
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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Grandma Lenberg's Pepparkakor Cookies

Christmas 2009

Last year, Josh's grandma sent me her recipe for a traditional Swedish cookie that she had learned from her mother-in-law, Hilma Lenberg - she called her "Mother Lenberg". It is a cookie that Josh has enjoyed on Christmas almost every year of his life. She and Josh's great-aunt Eileen came over last year and Evelyn watched over me as I mixed the dough. We were in the kitchen on our own and our conversation turned to Joshua, as it usually did. She adored him. She told me how lucky he was to have found me. She said that she could see what good care I took of him and pointed out just how wonderful he is. Then, she said 3 magic words, "I love you." I remember pausing and looking at her as I was taken a little off guard. I had loved her since the moment I met her. I gave her a big hug and said, "I love you too." It was sort of like a floodgate. After she said it once, she said it a few more times that night. I remember that after Josh took her home, he told me that she told him just how much she loved me the entire way home. 

We talked to her early last week. She called to talk about Josh's great-aunt Dorothy passing. She talked to Josh for a little while and then Josh turned the phone over so she could speak to me. We chatted for a few short minutes about Dorothy and Christmas. I asked when I could bring her over some Pepparkakors and her Christmas gift. Thinking the conversation was over, I told her that I loved her. But, she had more to say and talked for a few more minutes and then she was very careful to remember to say, "I love you too" at the very end. And those were her very last words to me.

I know that my sadness can only be a small fraction of what Josh and his family must feel. I only got to know her for a short time, but my heart feels heavy and I have a feeling that it will feel this way for quite some time.

Peppakakor Cookies

Bake 375 degrees
6-10 minutes

Heat the following ingredients in a pot on the stove at a medium temp. Mix well.

2 c. sugar
1 bottle mild molasses
1 stick margarine
1 c. crisco

Cool and add 3 well-beaten eggs. Then, mix the following items.

6 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp cloves
2 1/2 tsp ginger
2 1/2 tsp all spice
2 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Add the two mixtures together slowly and refrigerate over night. The next day, roll the dough thin. It is best to do a little at a time and leave the remainder of the dough in the fridge so that it stays cool. The molasses makes the dough get sticky pretty easily. Also, be very generous with the flour when you roll the dough. It will make it a lot easier. Don't overcook. They get a little hard if they are in the oven for too long.

Evelyn's contribution to this recipe was adding icing and cutting the cookies into fun shapes. Traditionally, Hilma would cut them round and add just a half of an almond in the center. Also Evelyn noted that Hilma preferred Briar Rabbit Molasses but that she was never able to find that brand here in Arizona. I have used Grandma's (gold label).

Her icing contained powder sugar, hot water and a dash of vanilla. She didn't know the exact amounts of them. I just had to sort of play around with it until it was the consistency that would work best.

Fresh air

Sometimes Honey reminds me that it is the little things in life that can bring so much joy. She loves the wind in her hair. She looked so happy on the way to the airport to drop my mom off that I couldn't help but smile.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas 2010

I wish that I could say that today was merry, but that simply is not the case. Josh's grandma died yesterday. His grandpa passed away last month, his great aunt a few days ago and it has all just been too much. I really am not prepared to talk too much about it because Evelyn had a special place in my heart too. We've shed a lot of tears in the past two days. Having said that, we've both done our best to comfort ourselves with regular holiday traditions. Christmas was one of Evelyn's favorite times of year. I think she'd want us to still do our best to enjoy the time with family.

Josh with my mom in downtown Phoenix yesterday (Christmas Eve) afternoon.

A somewhat traditional Oehler breakfast. Not as good as Jeanne and John's but certainly an alright imitation.

Some of my presents.

Some of Josh's presents.


Holiday slippers.

Dinner. My mom (left), my aunt (right).


Scrabble. My cousin Loretta (left), my mom (right).

Scrabble. My aunt.

Loretta working on my present to my grandma.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Josh's Great Aunt Dorothy

Earlier this week Josh's great aunt Dorothy passed away. It was a little bit of a shock to us since she was so much younger than his grandpa, who also just passed. He asked me to write up a few words on our blog to pay tribute.

One thing that I really love about Josh (one of many) is his love of family. A few years ago when we were first dating, we went to Southern California to see my cousin graduate from high school. He mentioned that he had a great aunt and uncle up north in Montecito, CA. My cousin Loretta, Josh and I decided to take a day trip up to see them. It was one of those magical afternoons when everything just seems perfect. Do you know what I mean? It almost felt as if the birds were singing just a little louder and the sky was just a little extra blue. Everything was right in the world. We sat out on their back patio and had such a nice conversation. The kind of conversation that is so interesting that you don't want it to end. I remember that they served us crackers with smoked salmon and cream cheese - it was delectable. His great uncle opened a wonderful bottle of red wine. At that time, aunt Dorothy wasn't doing much walking and uncle John didn't have a good memory, but I remember enjoying how they worked together. He was bustling around doing everything with her constantly reminding him what it was that he was doing when he would lose track. It was sweet. I could tell that they loved each other and not out of sheer obligation - but real, true love. As we left, my cousin Loretta remarked that she had the best time. Josh and I did too. It was one of those days that I never want to forget.

I haven't gotten a chance to talk very much about my engagement ring yet. I've been waiting to have the real thing on my finger first. But I would be remiss to not mention it now. Josh gave me his great-grandmother Hilma Lenberg's solitaire setting. Hilma was Dorothy's mother. The diamond was taken out of the ring long before I received it. Upon hearing this, aunt Dorothy offered to send us a diamond that she had. Well the diamond that she sent was about 4 times too big for the ring setting. So we were left with a dilemma of sorts. After careful consideration and a meeting with a jeweler, we decided to put a different diamond in the engagement ring and I'll just wear that up until the wedding. I will use great aunt Dorothy's diamond in my wedding ring. The jeweler warned me that since the engagement ring is so old (I am going to guess it is between 90-100 years old), it would break down in less than 10 years if I wore it on a daily basis and that was with some very regular maintenance. I'd like to be able to pass the ring down even further, so it actually is perfect for me to have a separate ring for day-to-day wear. I will be so proud to wear Aunt Dorothy's diamond in my wedding ring. Josh dropped the engagement ring off at the jewelers last weekend. So we should have that back right around the new year. I'll post pictures then. It is beautiful. It is not at all what I pictured, but once I saw it, I knew it was perfect.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ready, set, go!

The pile of packages under the tree continues to grow, and I think we are feeling very ready for the actual holiday to be here and also fortunate to love and be loved by so many. I'm officially done shopping and wrapping.

We had our first set of holiday guests on Monday night, Josh's brother Jody and Jody's girlfriend Meredith. They live in Tucson but had purchased airline tickets to fly out of Sky Harbor in Phoenix to visit Meredith's family on the east coast. So they stayed the night with us and left their car here for safe keeping. I dropped them off at the airport on Tuesday morning, but not before an early morning trip to Over Easy. When Josh's cousin came over the weekend before, he had brought a box of old family photos and mementos. The four of us sifted through the box again. Most of the pictures were from the early 1900's - 1950's. Some of the pictures are just priceless. We really enjoyed the ones of Josh and Jody's dad when he was little.

My Mom arrives tomorrow night from Montana. My cousin Loretta gets in the following night (Christmas Even) from New York. It will be nice to stick around the house, cook, play games, and enjoy good company. We have many wonderful blessings to celebrate this year, from our new home to our engagement, Josh and I both feel grateful and excited for the future.

Josh and I both sent a few messages today using a feature from Google Voice called Send a Call From Santa. It is sort of like mad libs. They have a preset list of words that you can choose from to insert into different parts of the message that Santa speaks to your family member or friend. We thought it was pretty entertaining.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Saturday, December 18, 2010

One week until Christmas...

What have I been doing? Baking lots and lots of cookies. I have baked so many cookies and still have to make Josh's family's favorite, the pepparkakors. I've also been hand-making a lot of presents for my family. My little packages are so cute this year that I'm using them as Christmas tree ornaments.

We've also been trying to spend time with family and friends. Tis' the season.

Last night, Josh's cousin came over. I made steak and potatoes, Josh's favorite dinner. It might be Robert's favorite too as he loved my mashed potatoes. After dinner, we looked through a bunch of old family pictures and shared stories. It is always neat to hear more about the Oehlers because in a little under a year, I am going to be an Oehler too. The family history is now going to be my family history. I know that it is more and more common for women to not change their name when they marry. But, I personally can't imagine not sharing my last name with my family. I can't wait to be "The Oehlers" or the "The Oehler Family".

Speaking of families. This morning, we got a visit from The Fagan Family.  The boys were just in time to jump into my final pile of leaves that I had just raked up in our side yard. Little Hudson looked like he was in heaven. He was stomping. He was jumping. He was picking up small piles and throwing them in the air or running through the yard and letting them float behind him. It was so stinkin' cute. Ethan found a branch on the tree and kept sling shotting himself around the trunk.

It was so nice to see them enjoy our yard. It really is a yard that is just meant for little ones. There are so much room to run and play. Kristen took home some oranges, although we both questioned whether they are quite ripe enough to eat. I'm still trying to figure out our fruit tree cycle. Best of all, Kristen gave us a beautiful handmade ornament. I love it, pun intended. 

Tonight we went to dinner at my uncles' house for their annual holiday get-together. It was tasty, per usual. My uncle Hal is an amazing cook. His pot roast was perfectly cooked. Josh and I both ate way too much. 

Now, I'm just counting down the days until my Mom is here. She arrives Thursday evening. I think it is going to be a very nice Christmas. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Locked out again...

Josh's Mom and Grandma

I've locked myself out of this house twice now in the past two weeks. I seriously need to hide a key somewhere outside. This time was a little more precarious. Let me preface my story by saying that Josh's Grandma just had surgery on her knee and she is 90 years old. Yesterday, she came over in the late afternoon because her bathroom is being remodeled and she needed a place to rest and relax. I got her settled on the couch to watch tv and then decided to set a cookie baking station on the table so that I could chat with her and bake cookies at the same time. I love holiday mail. So as soon as the mailman comes, I immediately head on out to the mailbox (any other time of year, I practically avoid picking up the mail). I got outside so quickly this time that the mailman was still in the front yard. Again, Honey put up her best imitation of a guard dog, barking like a wild animal. So what did I do, I gently nudged her back and closed the door. And again, the door locked behind me. AGAIN! This time I was locked all the way outside of the security gate so I couldn't even knock on the window to get Evelyn's attention. I spent the next 10 minutes doing my very best to get a 90 year old woman, who is pretty hard of hearing, to hear me. Thankfully, after throwing every piece of mail, a few rocks and some candles that I found on the ledge from Halloween at the window, I finally got her attention. She was my savior. I was even in time to get my cookies out of the oven before they burned. I felt terrible making her get up and walk. In hind sight, I must have looked and sounded pretty funny to my neighbors. I was yelling her name at the top of my lungs and jumping up and down for close to 10 minutes while staring into my own home. Such is life...

Saturday, December 11, 2010

My best girlfriend

My friendship with Erin is priceless. We have shared ups and downs, rights and wrongs, sadness and happiness, moves, break-ups, weddings, funerals, vacations and a whole lot of laughter as well as tears (sometimes in the same sitting). I look forward to having her by my side as my maid-of-honor next November. Today is her birthday and I just felt as if I should pay tribute and honor to my beautiful and best girlfriend. I would be hard pressed to find a friend as loyal, as caring or as patient as Erin.

Happy Birthday, Erin! We love you!

Friday, December 10, 2010

One massive tree

Our tree is taking up half of our living room. It is huge and beautiful. Yay Christmas!


There was an indoor security system in place when we purchased our home. We haven't had time to investigate how it operates. As of recently, this alarm has started to go off 4-5 times a day, at least twice in the middle of the night when we are sleeping. Yay! I cannot figure out any rhyme or reason as to what is setting it off. I suppose we'll have to contact the company to see what we need to do to stop this nonsense.

Earlier this week, Fedex showed up with a package. As you all know, Honey is about as docile as a dog can get. However, she does a very good job of pretending to be a rabid beast if anyone in a uniform dares to walk up to our house. So, as I answer the door, I typically shut the front door behind me so that I can sign the paperwork at hand and grab our new package. I turned back around and realized that the door had locked behind me. Our security is so good, that I was trapped outside for 2 full hours waiting for Joshua to come home. I walked over to the neighbor's house barefoot and begged to use their internet and phone. Unfortunately, Josh was knee deep in a meeting and not accessible. UGH. So I left a message and returned home to patiently wait for him on the back patio. I turned on some Christmas music and tried to relax. Not 5 minutes later, the security alarm in the house started going off. Poor Honey! She was trapped inside. I was trapped outside and she could not understand why I wouldn't let her out or at the very least come in and turn off the awful noise. Needless to say, it was a terrible mess.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Amazon for a wedding registry?

Joshua and I are both huge fans of technology and even bigger fans of convenience. We are regular users of In fact, we have a prime membership that allows us to get just about anything shipped to us for free. We both have wish lists, which make is easy to share gift ideas with each other and our families: Sara's wish list and Joshua's wish list. I love amazon for holiday time because I rarely have to go to the post office to ship anything. I can pick out my present, have it wrapped and ship right to the recipient. Joshua often finds deals on amazon that you just can't find anywhere else.

So recently, we noticed that you can do a wedding registry on amazon. I've never gone to a wedding where the bride and groom registered on amazon. I think that most of our guests have access to the internet but I'm not certain that all of them are as comfortable buying online as we are. So I wonder if what seems very convenient to us may not be so convenient for our guests. I also noticed a service called gift registry 360, which seems to allow you to register at several well-known and accessible stores at once.  I still cannot figure out if the gift registry is available in the stores or if it would only be available online. So I am left wondering, should we stick with the old-fashioned tradition of actually going to a store or selection of stores or should we try the online version? Any thoughts?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Full of energy - house update

I was really energetic this weekend. I think that I'm finally feeling like myself again. The hard work before, during and after the move was really exhausting. It definitely took its toll on me. But, I feel back on track. It is really easy to get overwhelmed when there is so much to do. I'm just set one foot down right after another. In other words, focus on the project at hand, don't focus on the next 10 projects after that.


One really GREAT change is that we got our kitchen leak fixed. They didn't have to take out the cabinets, he just cut right through the back. Whew...that had me very worried. It doesn't look too bad and Joshua can definitely fix it eventually to look almost like new.

I finished tearing out the liner in the remaining cabinets. I would estimate that the last cabinet took me longer than all of the others put together. It was terrible. They had put liner on top of liner. It took a lot of grit and determination to get it out of there. Also, it is one of those cabinets that goes all the way back to the wall but you really can't access the back half of it. I was contorted and twisted into all sorts of crazy positions to get into the back end of the cabinet. Thankfully, that's done now. And I was finally able to unpack some more boxes. The kitchen is officially ready for its paint job. I'm not sure that I'll get to that until the new year.

In other kitchen news, we picked up our dishwasher. Josh also purchased a garbage disposer (not a misspelling - apparently that is what they are called, not "disposals") as it would be easiest to do both at once. Again, neither project can really get underway until the new year, but at least the parts are all here so that he can tear into it when he's ready. After washing dishes by hand regularly for the past few months, I am pretty happy and excited about the new dishwasher.

I made some headway in the spare bedroom as well. You can see the floor again. So that is an improvement. More importantly, I set up my bead table. I can't tell you how important that is over the holiday season. It was  very nice to see my beads again. I set it up so that it is right in front of the window so that I can open up the drapes and have real light during the day or pause and look at our lovely rose bushes. It definitely feels more guest friendly in there now, even if it is our catch-all.

And, a few photos of our storage room. This was one of my projects from last weekend. I moved all of the tools and what nots into this area so that we could use it as our project headquarters. Perhaps it is the de-cluttering that is finally bringing me new energy. It feels really nice to be able to put things away.

What I'm not showing you is our main bathroom. It had to get worse before it could get better. Joshua yanked out some original hooks for towel racks and being that we have plaster walls, it is not pretty in there. We also removed the doors and bought new hardware. So now, we just need to clean up the cabinets and give them a good paint job. All in due time.....

And finally, I cannot have all work and no play on the weekend. I took a good friend to breakfast to make up for missing her baby shower. It was the same day as Josh's Grandpa's service. Jenn is due on December 22nd (I think), but she is ready to go any time now. She looks gorgeous and healthy. I gave her a beautifully made bib and blanket that I purchased from Baby Mae Boutique on etsy. I also found time to take Honey to the dog park on Saturday and we both (Honey and I) went for a nice long with Joshua tonight to look at Christmas lights in our neighborhood.

That's a lot of energy, right?! It feels so good to be getting back to normal. Yay!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Our wedding website

We've set up a wedding website so that our friends and family can easily find information as it becomes available. To make it easy to find, there is a link on the top left side of our blog or you can click here. If you get a chance, sign our guestbook.

Josh mentioned to me that between our blog being and the picture on our save-the-date (as shown above), it may seem as if I'm the only one in love. So just to clarify, Josh loves me too. :)


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