Friday, December 31, 2010

A Year in Pictures (And My 2011 Word)

It's been a hell of a year, a hell of a ride and a year that I am happily packing back into its box. It's time to open 2011 and my hands are shaking at the excitement that is to be discovered there.

To the successes, challenges, lessons, losses and experiences gained; to the joy and the thrill of what this year was, I raise my glass. To the year ahead and all the potential it holds, I raise it again. Here's to the closing of this most interesting chapter. And here's to the first, crisp page of the next. Have your ink wells ready, folks, it's time to pen 2011...

In review, I went back through a few of the photos I've used in this blog over the last year, my first year in blogland. Below are collages of a few of my favorite moments of 2010:

Clock-wise from top left:
Fall colors along my beloved Clark Fork River.
Mom and I all dolled up in Disneyland celebrating my 25th Birthday.
Laguna Beach, California; my taste of the Pacific Ocean this year.
My front yard glider with my favorite alpine mountaineering reading material.

Clock-wise from top left:
Finding the therapeutic qualities of painting pottery! Done with my best friend this summer.
Skiing in an epic snow season!
Commemorating my late friend with my yearly hike around Missoula.
One of the lovely weddings attended this summer.

Have fun celebrating New Year's Eve! I am making a
few resolutions and wishes this year, but I also have
chosen a word to inspire me for 2011: Transform
There are going to be a lot of changes in my world this year!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Gift from Australia!

I must tell you all about my special package from Australia! I recently participated in a giveaway at Shabby Vintage Junk, one of my favorite blogs written by the sweetest lady! Well, I won! She had eight winners, and I was one of the lucky few. She did not reveal to us what our special item would be, so it was even more of a surprise. My package arrived the day before Christmas Eve! Perfect! I was at first confused when I picked up the cardboard box off my step, then saw where it had come from and started to bounce! I opened the box to find a Christmas paper wrapped box and a card. (I just loved the type of ribbon she used too. It's the kind with the little rib texture on it that I remember curling as a kid. Not that shiny stuff! Small pleasures...he he he)

I opened up the card and placed the gift under the tree. I was going to wait till Christmas! The card was an adorable Santa with a wonderful sentiment inside. One of my fave parts? The back of it which reads "Made in Australia." Probably not a big deal for her, but it was a fun little reminder to me that my gift was extra special and from the other side of the globe.

I placed it proudly on my little mantle beside my other cards I received this year.

Upon Christmas, I got to open that shiny silver package. Inside, was a red, vintage tool box. It was an old metal, socket-set box, now quite distressed and quite charming!

I loved it! It's bright red color worked great with my holiday decor at the time, and now that most of the Christmas has been packed away, the little red box remains in one of my vignettes.

I just loved the worn description on the inside! What a cool item! I am mighty pleased and smiley!

Thank you so much Tamarah for your generous giveaway! I am so excited to get something all the way from Australia! :)

And to all you other bloggers, head on over to Tamarah's blog. She has a delightful site and is the queen of vintage!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Tabletop Tuesday!

I am joining A Stroll Thru Life for Tabletop Tuesday! The idea this week was to show off something from Christmas, be it a table scape or a gift or anything festive! I chose a few pictures from my decorated house. I had a wonderful holiday and I hope you all did too!

My favorite gift this year? Cowboy boots! A Montana
Girl just has to have a pair of cowboy boots! :)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Merriest of Holidays!

I hope you are all enjoying this wonderful holiday. It has been an exciting two days here--and we're not done yet! :) Yesterday while my sister was away skiing I worked on some surprises. The first one being some new outdoor decorations. A friend of mine had a Christmas tree but she was leaving for Indiana for the holiday. She took the ornaments off and asked if I wanted it. I said "sure!" I set it up outside on my garden bench. (It's a short little tree.) How do I keep it up right? Zip ties! I don't have zip ties...or wire. So what do I use? Curling ribbon of course! LOL. With the tree upright I put ornaments on and strung lights. Underneath I put offerings for our squirrel and bird friends: old oranges and bread. They'll be pleased! My sister was too! She loves giving the fruit to the animals so I thought she'd get a kick out of our "offering" tree. Next up meant heading to my Mom's house to finish making beignets. My sister fell in love with these pastries when she was in New Orleans so to surprise her my Mom and I made some. After the dough is prepared and has risen, you deep fat fry them to perfection. Topped with powdered sugar, they're amazing! We ate quite a few while we were at it! My sister was quite pleased this morning when I presented the fluffy little treats. Wahoo! We went to my Aunt's house last night for snacks and conversation, like we do every year since I can remember. It just isn't Christmas without that visit! We all slept well afterward and awoke this morning to presents and orange rolls, good coffee and cheer. Tonight we'll go back to the parent's house for a turkey dinner, tasty cocktails, pie and board games. I love it! What a pleasant two days with my most beloved people. I hope you are having a fantastic time with your favorite people! Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope you sleep soundly tonight, pleasantly exhausted from the joy of it all.

This was another silly surprise for my sister. This "shelf" was put up around Halloween on my bathroom wall. I left it after the holiday ended, but it was looking a bit out of place. So, what do I do? Take it down? Nah! I just added holly. :) Perfect!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

What I'm Celebrating

I rolled home on Tuesday, from a long day on the highway, under the biggest, most yellow moon I had ever seen. I had to concentrate extra hard on the road so I didn't distract myself into a deer at it's sheer beauty. 'Twas the Solstice, and I couldn't imagine a better way to ring it in. Hours and hours earlier you would have found me chilly, in pajamas watching the eclipse of that very big yellow moon the morning before. My sister and I watched fondly as it slowly felt our shadow and then turned red. An article somewhere said that it's red because "the moon is seeing every sunrise and sunset on the Earth all at once." I liked that image. When I tucked myself in that night I was thankful I stayed up to see it. I think it was thankful I stayed up too. Its own little show for us Earthly viewers.

I have been thankful for a lot lately. I have been enjoying this special season for a lot of reasons too. Some folks struggle this time of year with how others celebrate the holidays. Some seem to struggle when they can't celebrate it exactly as they want. All I've got to say is that Christmas is what you make it. With decor, or none, with joy or none. It's up to you how you want it to pan out. There's folks out there with a lot less than me, that are just as happy and there are folks out there with a lot more than me who are very much not. My family has always felt the warmth and joy of this season. My parents were clever and savvy when they were newly married, making their own ornaments and cards. When us kids came along we were crafty and creative. The holidays were fun and exciting, and most of all full of surprises. Our family always finds cute ways to surprise one another. (My favorite this year? My mother sneaking into my house to leave the most hilarious topper on our tree.) That's what this season is about for me, what Christmas really means. It means family, and fun, and trees and lights, giving and caring, and finding the magic. It's making everyone around me smile, whether it's wishing someone on the street Merry Christmas, or bringing donuts to folks in the hospital. On the other end of things, to me, it's also about a very brave young woman who gave birth to an amazing boy who grew up always putting Good first. And that's worth celebrating. Even if you're not religious, that story and that idea alone is worth a nod and a raise of a glass. There needs to be more people on this earth that put that kind of goodness first.

I hope you are all enjoying your own reasons for the season. They are all correct and right and worthy. And most wonderfully: different for each person. :) Merry Christmas Eve Eve, folks! :)

Monday, December 20, 2010

I'm Ready for My Close-Up!

What an amazing weekend! Saturday was spent hanging out with the sister and then heading out to dinner with the parents. Afterward we cruised around the city taking in our own personal Christmas light tour. This city is alight with color! Great fun indeed! Sunday brought snowflakes and my very own photo shoot. Ya see, my favorite photographer who lives here in Missoula awarded me a free session! I was so excited to win this and we decided to head outdoors for my snowy shoot. I had a BLAST! This lady definitely knows what she's doing and is sooooo talented. I had a great time tromping through the snow, frolicking in flakes and even making a snow angel. Laughs and smiles abounded as she clicked away with her camera. I have been singing her praises for a long time, and now am more excited than ever. I can't imagine a nicer lady to have take your picture. :) Below is one of my favorites and if you hop on over to her blog: Kristine Paulsen, you can see a few of the others. I'm loving them! (And I'm so glad I wore that red coat!)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Things I'm Loving Right Now

1. Hot Cocoa with Raspberry flavoring. Mmm. It's like a cup of candy.

2. Earrings that are just heavy enough that I can feel them move when I turn my head or laugh. (I'm wearing my new pair from Chile today!)

3. A handful of particularly remarkable friends of mine who make me smile and laugh. And I am so eager to give them their Christmas presents!

4. My one strand of Christmas lights in my work window. They make people smile as they walk by outside (including myself).

5. Lunches with my Mother. Who would have thought that every time we get together we have MORE stuff to talk about? Where does it all come from? I have a lunch date today and I'm sure we both have lots to share, as always.

6. The way my cat pulls all of her toys out of her toy basket and then runs around the house until she ends up under the Christmas tree exhausted.

7. The way my cat tries to eat the FAKE Christmas tree.

8. A perfectly made bed with matching shams and throw. I'm one of those people with all those darn pillows on the bed and everything has to match. And in the morning, even if I'm running late, I'll take the time to make it up, every single day.

9. Successfully, and gracefully, jumping puddles on the way to work.

10. My trips home on the highway, when the moon's out, the stars are shining, and all the little rural houses are covered in Christmas lights.

What are you loving right now? :)

(Photo Credit)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Day to Decorate

Today my sister found her collection of ornaments for the tree. She'd lost track of hers, so I had filled the tree with my own. Well, she added all of hers and now the tree is simply stuffed! I think we need more branches...It looks like a very happy tree though! :) With a vintage star on top, and a lot of memories tied to each little ornament. I've seen a lot of themed trees out in blog land, and I do love them, but my favorite theme? Family. Friends. Childhood. I have a themed tree in my bedroom, but the big one in the window will always showcase a mix of new and old, pastel and bright, glass and porcelain and construction paper (yep, we have a few we made in grade school that are up on the tree. Glitter and glue? Perfect!).

After my sister was almost done I heard her wandering the living room. What was she doing?! Getting creative. :) I found glass balls all over and she even wrapped our grapefruit plant with a popcorn garland and beads!

As I looked around I found them on our deer skull in the living room, our tropical plant in front of the fireplace and joined in on the fun by hanging them above the sofa too. Very festive indeed! And a lot of laughs to go with.

Today has been filled with house chores, playing with the cats, adding touches to the decor and general merry making, cookie baking and coffee drinking. Tonight? Decorating those cookies. They're in the shapes of dog sleds and huskies. (I got the cookie cutters in Alaska!) I'll let ya know how they come out!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Photo Challenge: Festive!

Friday is upon us, and so is another Photo Challenge with RAZMATAZ. This week's theme was festive, which was perfectly fitting for this holiday season. :) My photo is a look at my Christmas lights through my glass of wine. Two things that I associate with this time of year. :) Nothing like a festive little party or get together to get you in the holiday mood!

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Christmas Questions!

This looked fun! I saw it on my Mom's blog, A Montana Life, and she got it from Pinecones and Roses! You should play along too! Each question should have only a one-word answer. Here we go!

1. Your holiday decor: Eclectic
2. The weather where you live this time of year: Snowy!
3. Your favorite smell of the season: Cinnamon
4. Your favorite beverage of the season: Spritzer
5. Something you wish you could avoid during the holidays: Ice!
6. What you typically bring to the potluck: Brownies
7. What you wish people would stop bringing to the potluck: Nuts
8. A word to describe how you feel about the word 'potluck': Weird
9. What is on your feet right now: Socks
10. How many layers you are wearing right now: Two
11. Where in the world you would rather be right now: crowd
12. Something that makes you feel invigorated this time of year: Lights
13. Something that makes you feel challenged this time of year: Highways
14. A cold weather comfort food you crave: Pie
15. Something you wish you were doing right now: Strolling
16. Something you SHOULD be doing right now: Vacuum
17. Your opinion of snow: Wonderful
18. Your opinion of those big furry-looking hats with ear flaps: Silly!
19. A tradition you'll be sure to keep this season: Baking
20. A tradition you'd like to start this season: Hand-made

That one-word thing is kind of difficult! :)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Gift from Chile!

Oh how excited I was when I got home from Alaska a few weeks ago. My sister announced "You got something from....Chile?" I jumped for joy! That meant that my giveaway prize from A Measure Of... had arrived from the Southern Hemisphere. Wahoo! The box was wrapped in what looks like pages from an encyclopedia, or illustrated dictionary. The best part? It's of course all in Spanish! I love the International sticker on it. :) It all seemed so exotic!

After opening the package I found a lot more than I was expecting! I mean, I'd won an earring giveaway, but the box was full! Inside I found a whole collection of awesome items from Chile. I was as giddy as a school girl!

First up was the adorable card. I love the photo clipping she pasted on the inside, and her sentiment was so sweet. This lady is just a doll! :)

Next up were two South American candies. They reminded me of the chocolates I ate when I visited Peru two summers ago! I will definitely have to share them with my sister so we can both reminisce. :) Next was a gorgeous green, sparkly scarf! I love it! Items like these are especially chic in Missoula, Montana and I can't wait to wear it around and share where it came from! What a delightful surprise indeed. :) (And the color is perfect!)

Lastly, was a small box wrapped in soft, green yarn. Inside were the lovely earrings I had been expecting. Even better in person! They are so beautiful and unique! I can't wait to wear them out. Oh how I love jewelry with a story! So much better than going out and buying some. :)

What a great treat to get in the mail. Thank you so much Heather! You are far too sweet and kind. You brought one HUGE smile to this Montana girl's face! And for all you other followers out there, hop on over to Heather's blog and take a look. She's right now in the middle of a move from Patagonia to the States. What a process! Her adventures and whit are addictive.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Come to the Party!

One of the blogs I follow, Shabby Vintage Junk, is hosting a wonderful giveaway in celebration of her 100th post! Please head on over and take a peak at her lovely blog. She has such a great eye and a way with words! What a hoot! You just can't go wrong with vintage, and she has it down to an art. :) Go on over and visit and you will be glad you did!

This photo is from her blog, and some of the items she's giving away! :)

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