Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Our Semi-official Christmas Letter - 2009

Greetings to you, our dear friends and family!

If you have a few minutes, settle into your favorite chair and catch up on our latest news.

As always, God has been good and our year has been full!  Most of you know that we have been empty-nesters now for a few years.  The photo of the whole family was taken at Disneyland for our one weekend all together so far this year.  We’re excited that we’ll be together again for the weekend after Christmas.  Now let’s see what the family has been doing…

Kevin recently spent about 6 months in Afghanistan conducting some top secret missions with the Air Force.  He’s not allowed to tell us what he was doing for at least 50 years.  (Safe bet that we won’t even be around by then, right?)  He was honorably discharged from the Air Force in August and is now working for a strategy and technology consulting firm.   His job is located in Meridian, Mississippi, a somewhat smallish town a few hours from the gulf. Quite different from anywhere he’s lived before.  All we know is that he’s doing curriculum development and training for the military, relating to the equipment that he worked on in Afghanistan.  He’s been there since early October and is still getting acclimated to the job and the terrain.

Amy and her husband, Andrew are living back in Southern California, just a half hour or so from where they grew up (in Santa Clarita).  She was able to transfer with her job from a similar position in Scottsdale.  She’s an editor for press releases, so gets in on the breaking news before any of us hear it, but isn’t allowed to say anything.  She’s also pursuing her dream of being a wedding and portrait photographer and had the privilege of shooting a wedding in Italy, as well as several others this year.  Her hope is to eventually do photography full time, so if you know of anyone who’s looking, please pass her name along.  She’s willing to travel.  Visit www.TeeganPhotography.com to see her work.  

Andrew has pretty much landed his dream job!  A few years ago he attended The Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences here in Arizona, and then was offered an internship at a recording studio in So Cal.  Since then he has moved to a new studio and has the privilege of working with and learning from a well-known mixing engineer.  He’s worked on albums by Green Day, Dave Matthews band, Hanna Montana and many others.  He also has a chance to do his own free-lance engineering work in his spare time.  He LOVES what he’s doing and is learning so much!

Terry is thankful to have survived a round of layoffs at American Funds and has been enjoying some special assignments in his job that keep him from getting bored.  He also loves the 10 minute commute!  During his free time he has been playing music a lot!  Just this month, in addition to the time he plays at church on Sundays, he played in a band for a Christmas concert for 2 nights, then with a different band at a CD release party at a coffeehouse the next weekend, and this weekend he played with a friend at the local Borders Bookstore.  He already has a few gigs scheduled in January as well. I'm so glad that he has the time and opportunities to express his gifts and talents in this way.  It's what he loves to do more than most anything.

As for me, I’m working 4 days a week for Uhlmann Family Offices http://www.familyoffices.org/ .  I enjoy a lot of variety in my position.  Parts of my days are spent assisting the non-profit organizations that share office space with us.  I have the chance to do a little bit of everything…event coordination, basic graphic design, photography, help with mailings, blog posts, website updates, and even a bit of bookkeeping.   I really love my job and my schedule!  My Fridays are precious to me because I have a chance to spend time with my mom and take her shopping, to doctor appts, lunch, the movies or whatever we decide to do together.  My sisters come along sometimes as well.  It gives me the chance to make up for some of the time that we lived in So Cal.  I love having that extra day to get things done either with family, friends or at home.   Speaking of extra time, I now have the time and energy to pursue hobbies like photography, blogging, crafting and hopefully sewing soon (when I get my machine).

Terry and I also were blessed with some fun travel this year.  We went to Steamboat Springs, CO for a week in the summer.  Kevin and two of our dear friends were able to join us too.  We had gorgeous weather and spent a lot of time outdoors.  In September we spent a long weekend enjoying Antelope Canyon and the north rim of the Grand Canyon with a couple of other great friends. The next weekend we drove to L.A. to go to Disneyland with Amy, Andrew and Kevin.  We had a blast!

In early November we spent a week with Terry’s dad and wife, Ginny in North Carolina.  We were treated to some amazing Fall colors and other gorgeous scenery there.  It was wonderful to have the chance to spend some extended time with them.

So what’s on the horizon for 2010?  You’ll have to ask the kids about their plans, but I’m hoping to travel to Fort Myers, Florida with my mom and sisters in February.  At 86, my mom still loves to travel, as long as one of us comes along with her.  We’re looking forward to visiting her half sister, Alice there.

In May, Terry and I are hoping to travel to Bosnia with a few people from our church.  Open Door Fellowship has had ongoing relationships assisting several churches there since their war and unrest in the 90’s.  Terry and two other guys are planning to go and play music at several churches and coffeehouses.  The men who lead worship at these churches are often the pastors who end up doing everything on Sundays.  The guys will be able to give these pastors some rest from that portion of the morning and will give the congregation a treat by having some different music and musicians.  They’ll also play at local coffeehouses to begin to make connections between the churches and the community they serve.  I will be going along to help with whatever I can and document as much as possible with photos.  They haven’t had anyone go with them to Bosnia for the purpose of capturing the images of the people and places and I hope to be able to bring home visuals that will help them spread the word about the work they do there and the needs that are evident.  We will be raising money for the trip in the coming months, which will be a first for us.

We'd love to keep in touch thru-out the year and hear updates from you anytime. We’re all on Facebook  (except Terry), so look us up there. 

We trust that you have a blessed new year, filled with the love of family and friends.  We look forward to hearing from you and seeing you in the coming year!

I'll leave you with a photo that we took of the family just this week.  Amy made the beards and mustaches as stocking stuffers for all of us.  Fun stuff, huh?

Love from all,

Nancy (and Terry)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas Ham

Sorry to have been MIA this past week or so.  I'm sure you know that it's the time of year...see below for a holiday tip.

Of course, I have several events to post about, but no time at the present.  I thought I'd offer a quick suggestion for a great recipe if you're making ham this year for your holiday celebrations.

I found this recipe last year and it was delicious and so easy!  I substituted orange juice for the ginger ale and added a few extra cloves and brown sugar for a larger ham, but otherwise stayed pretty much with the recipe.

The awesome thing is that you can do it in a crockpot and have it cooking while you're at church or opening presents or busy with other things, then its' ready when you are!  It has amazing flavor and doesn't dry out!

Give it a try and let me know how you like it.

Citrus Crocked Ham Recipe  (compliments of BetterRecipes.com)
Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Day 8 - Journal Your Christmas

Are you wondering where the posts for days 1 - 7 are?  Well, for now they're in my head.  I've been too busy to do any posts, but I'm gathering lots of thoughts and ideas.  Once we get to Sunday I should have a LOT more time, I think... and maybe I'll try to go back and catch up on some of the journaling days that I've missed. 

This week we have practice on Weds night (which is also our 32nd wedding anniversary), our Home Group Christmas party (here) on Thursday night, Terry has a concert in Scottsdale on Friday night, we're celebrating our anniversary on Saturday and we will be helping with worship at church on Sunday morning.   Then I think the schedule is pretty open until Christmas.  Yea!  Oh, I still have some Christmas shopping and wrapping to finish up, but that's easy peasy compared to these last few weeks.


I thought I could post about today's topic since it's about the Sights of the Season.  I've already been snapping pics this month, so I can easily find what I need.

I love this photo above of our cat, Shredder.  She's trying to look so innocent, but you can see the evidence of her tail wagging if you look at the trees on the windowsill.
This past Friday and Saturday 12/4 & 5 - my hubby played in a Christmas Concert each night with some of our best friends.  (He's the third one from the right in the rust colored shirt.)  Randy Thompson is the featured musician in this band, since many of the songs were written by him.  Terry loves playing these concerts with Randy and I love going to them!  It's such an awesome way to start the holiday season.




Another one of my favorite sights in December is the bare branch that hangs in the living room.  It's so much fun to change the decor with the seasons.  This winter it's sparkly!  Silver, gold, crystal and white snowflakes, icicles and other various ornaments.  With these decorations it can stay up past Christmas and through the other winter months as well.

And here's a little peek at our Christmas bathroom.  This year, I made the two framed pieces on the walls.  The black framed picture is filled with holiday designs and expressions from scrapbook paper and the red one, framed in white is "Merry Christmas" greetings on wrapping paper.  What a fun and easy way to change out your framed artwork for the holidays!

Be sure to click to enlarge the photos.

Decorating our home is one of my favorite parts of the holidays.  Thanks for visiting!


Friday, December 04, 2009

Journal Your Christmas 2009

Yes, it's true!  I have signed up to participate in "Journal Your Christmas".  It started on December 1st and goes thru early January.  I just signed up last night, and as you can see, I'm already behind.  But it's all good!  See...the cool thing is that if you pay once, then you can participate every year until...forever.

So, here's what I'm thinking...this year will be my preview and warm up year.  I'll get all the materials and information and if I have time to post or scrap book, then I will.  If not, then I'll just start digesting the resources and thinking about what I'll do for next year.  Then I'll have a whole year to prepare and ponder and get ready to do it for real.  And next year they'll add even more cool stuff!

I just started downloading the materials and supplies and I'm very excited about how much is included so far!  She is very thorough in giving you all the tools you need to complete an awesome project.

Don't worry, I'm sure I'll post something about Christmas in the next month or so.  It just may not be every day.  But even if it's not about Christmas, it will be interesting and insightful (at least I like to think so).  So please come back often or set yourself up as a follower on Google or add me to your RSS Feed so you can see my posts every time I add a new one.  That would be awesome!

See you soon!
 

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Antelope Canyon - Arizona 

So I've been falling behind on posting about travels.  I posted some photos on Facebook in September when we were there, but I know everyone isn't on FB, so here are a few of my favorites from Antelope Canyon.  I don't know about you, but I've seen pictures of Antelope Canyon for years, but never knew until recently that it was in Arizona!

We had the chance to go there with our friends, Marshall and Cathy on our way to a weekend at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and we were glad we did!

It's an amazing place for photography.  The only catch is that in the middle of the day when the lighting is best, there tends to be large numbers of folks in there for their tours.  There doesn't really seem to be any limit to the number that they take in at one time.  If there is, then the limit's probably a little too high because there were times when it was really quite crowded in those narrow passageways. I wish I would have taken a picture of the people inside the canyon to give an idea of how crowded it was.

The Canyon (and others like it) are all on the Navajo Indian Reservation near Page, Arizona (see map here) in a somewhat desolate-looking area near the northern border between Arizona and Utah.  It's amazing that these canyons are hidden in the desert there.  If someone didn't have photos and directions to the place, there's no way we would have found them.  There's no indication from the highway that these gorgeous formations are anywhere around.  And if you've been to the reservation, you know that the Navajo are not much for permanent structures, so we weren't quite sure where to go to pay and start our tour.  After a couple of stops we finally hooked up with a tour run by a woman (Carol Bigthumb) whose grandmother had discovered the canyons back in the 1930s. 

This sandy riverbed was the road to the canyon for much of the way.  It was very soft deep sand, so kind of strange to ride on.  The drivers tried to stay closer to the edge to keep from fish-tailing too much in the soft sand.

The tour guides were generally relatives and we spent most of our time with Gabriel , Carol's son-in-law (in the hat in photo below).  Turns out he is a believer and he was a great guide!  Very patient in pointing out the various rock formations with names, helping us find the best places to stand for photo ops and even looking at my camera to try to change some settings to get the best shots.  Now I'm sure some photographers would be offended by that, but I thought it was very nice of him to offer to be so helpful. 

The guides were also very good at directing traffic throughout the canyon so that photographers could have the "illusion" of being there alone.  They would hold up a group of people behind a curve in the canyon so that another group could take pictures of the space with no one in front of them.  Some of the photographers got a little pushy, but all in all it went quite smoothly considering the numbers.  I must admit though that as long as you have a tripod, and a camera that can be set to manual, it's really hard to take a bad photo in there.  The play of light on the beautiful red/orange rocks is simply amazing!


The first picture is near the beginning of the canyon and gives you an idea of the size of the space and the sandy floor.  If you go, please remember to wear closed toed shoes unless you want your feet to be totally dirty when you come out.

The rest of these are pretty much self-explanatory.  Let me know if you have any questions.  Enjoy!


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Happy Birthday Diane!


Today is my oldest sister's birthday!  She stopped counting birthdays long ago, and I honestly don't keep track, but I can tell you that she is the first born in our family and I was born 5th, so that gives you an idea how much older she is than I am.    Yes, I'm the one that was always pestering her and her girlfriends to let me play with them and they always thought I was just an annoyance because I was too young.

I do appreciate the fact that she laid the groundwork with the teachers in our small town by being a model student and getting good grades in her classes.  Of course that was all undone by the 3 siblings in between us, so it just depended which Perkins child they had in their class whether they thought I'd be wonderful or trouble makers.  I, of course was an excellent student so it was sometimes tough to undo the rebellious reputation of my other siblings, especially in the upper grades.  Oh well, that's life.  I learned to deal with it and my teachers and I learned not to judge a person by their siblings or by other people's opinions of them.  Good life lesson overall.

The first photo here is Diane and my oldest brother, Rusty.  The black spot on his nose is from a faceplant of some sort (he was a rambunctious boy - see reference above).  My mom must have taken a whole roll of film with him like that.  Not sure why...doesn't Diane look like the perfect big sister though? We won't talk about the time she accidentally almost killed him.

Next one is a family  photo before my youngest brother Michael came along.  Aren't we all so spiffy and sweet looking?  Diane's standing by my mom. (I'm in front on the left.).  Sharon always had better hair than I did.

Next is a photo from 1960, also pre-Michael.  Diane is on the left in this one.


Then one of the 4 remaining siblings in our family (L to R) from youngest to oldest. The photo above is at least 15 years ago when all of us sisters happened to wear pink, which was very unusual.  We are all VERY different from each other in oh so many ways, not the least of which is fashion choices.


The next is a Stratton family photo.  We miss their son, Nick and it was good to see Steve on Thanksgiving Day.


Lastly, these next 2 are of us 3 girls on a trip to Breckenridge with my mom a couple of years ago.  The last few years since Terry and I moved back to Arizona from California, us girls have been trying to do a trip each year together with my mom, who loves to travel!  She will be 86 in a month and we have a trip planned to go to Florida in February to visit her half sister, Alice.  Mom is looking forward to it and these trips have given us sisters a chance to get reacquanted after living apart for over 18 years.  I've learned to love and appreciate them more as we spend quality time together.

This last pic is an awesome sailboat ride that we took in Colorado.  It was the first time on a sailboat for most of us, which is pretty surprising considering we grew up a few hundred yards from Lake Erie.

I'm thankful for my sister, Diane.  She has been a sweet friend and big sister.  It's been fun hanging out with her these last few years since I've been back.  I look forward to many more years of "hanging out".

Diane, I hope you had a Happy Birthday!  Love you lots!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

I trust that everyone had a great day, filled with the love of family and friends.  We shared a great meal and did some catching up with the Perkins family today.

This is the gang (above) that was there for dinner.  I'm right there behind the camera, as usual.  I didn't want to take the time to take the picture with the timer while the food was getting cold.  I'm not sure why Terry looks so puzzled.  Oh well.

There were 11 of us all together, which is a small group for our family, but since our kids live out of state and weren't able to come this year, that reduces our numbers by 3. Both my sisters'other kids were out of state too and Dustin was at his girlfriend's house, which reduced the numbers even more.  Left to right around the table: Terry, my brother - Pat, my oldest sister - Diane, Russell's friend - Sharon, my mom - Jaye, my sister Sharon's son - Russell, Diane's daughter - Lisa, Diane's ex-husband - Steve, my sister Sharon's husband - Steve, and my middle sister Sharon.   Kind of funny - 2 Sharons and 2 Steves in that small group.  Steves kind of run in our family for some reason.  None of them are Perkins', they just joined the family one way or another.

Here are the girls in the kitchen getting things ready. I was kind of surprised that we 3 sisters have so many different ideas about cooking the traditional Thanksgiving foods.  You would think that we would have all learned the same way, but I guess over the years we've discovered new recipes.  I did realize that we never really all cooked meals together with my mom when we were young.  I guess it's because when I was getting to be old enough to be interested in cooking my sisters were both already out of the house.  So now we get the chance at least once or twice a year to spend a little time in the kitchen together.

Doesn't this look like the refrigerator of a Grandma?  I think it's sweet that bits of Kassidy, Jacob and Josh's names can be seen in the alphabet soup there.
Our family never seems to be short on desserts.  In fact, we had 6 different desserts for 11 of us!  That works out to more than a half a pie each.  I think that's a bit of overkill, but we divided up the leftovers and managed to send it all home with someone.
Nothing significant about these peppers.  I just like the way they coordinated with the plate they were on.  Aren't they lovely?


This is a little bit of the fresh cranberry orange relish that I made.  I'm not a big fan of the canned stuff so thought it would be fun to try a recipe with fresh cranberries.  It was so easy!  Here's how to do it.

1 bag fresh cranberries (washed and bad ones discarded)
1 orange with the peel left on (washed)
1 apple with the peel left on (washed and cored)
1 cup sugar
Cinnamon, nutmeg or ginger (optional - to taste)

Throw everything but the sugar and spices in a food processor and chop.  Place in bowl and add sugar and spices.  That's it!  This can be made 3 - 5 days ahead and it tastes even better.

I also added some of this same mixture to raspberry jello to make a cranberry jello salad.  I think that was even a little better than the relish by itself.  But both of them turned out pretty good, I think.  They're not nearly as sweet as the traditional canned or cooked cranberry sauce.  The orange rind gives it a citrus tang, which I personally prefer over the ultra-sweet of the other kind.  Try it sometime with ham too!

This last photo is a little centerpiece that I put together to transition from fall to Christmas.  Fall items with Christmas colors.  The green apples are faux, but there are two huge fresh pomegranates in the jar as well.  I hope they stay fresh for a while.  I love the deep red color of them.

Well, I'm planning to do a little bit of Christmas shopping on Black Friday.  Terry has to work, so I have the day to myself.  Not sure if I'll go out or if it will be online.  I never go out early...usually sometime mid-morning.  As are most people, we're cutting back some on Christmas this year, so I have to be more selective in what I buy.  It's hard for me because I like to show love by giving gifts.  It's also tricky because Kevin will have to carry everything back on the plane and A & A are in a tiny studio apartment so don't have much room for anything of any size.

I just realized that this is getting pretty long so I'll close for now.  I'm thinking about trying to journal about Christmas every day in December, but we'll see how that goes.  Be sure to check back again soon.  There's lots going on in the coming weeks.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Christmas ideas are brewing...

I just opened one of my favorite emails from Better Homes and Gardens (BHG.com) and with just a few clicks found some great Christmas ideas


Below is the description that shows with the first photo, but the idea that I like best is having the pegs by the front door and a shelf too.  We don't have a fireplace, hence no mantle and I haven't found a great place to hang our family stockings, but I love this look and it would be so fun to have stockings hanging by the entry and a shelf to put our favorite Christmas trinkets.

"Set near the front door, a multi-tiered dessert stand offers departing visitors an array of thanks-for-coming confections, including cellophane-swathed molded cookies, bags of crimson candies, and tiny baskets chock-full of sweets."

I also like the idea of painting or writing on glass.  They show a mirror here, but you could do the same thing on a window or glass door.  I was thinking of some simple snowflakes and a few cheery greetings.

This same email also had some fun ideas for non-traditional holiday color schemes.  Since we have a red sofa in the living room, our Christmas colors pretty much NEED to include red, so I'm a little bit limited.  Soon I'm hoping to get a neutral colored slipcover for my sofa (it's on my wish list) so I can branch out to some new colors.  Anyway, this year I bought some natural colored kraft paper and some simple red and white print paper to wrap gifts.  I'm thinking of throwing in a little touch of black to make it a little more classy.   Picture brown kraft paper and red/white papers with red or black twine or ribbon of all sorts.  I'm not sure yet...we'll see how things turn out when I get everything out to decorate.

I'm looking forward to getting started with decorating this weekend.  Even though it's not the end of the month yet, we have a busy December so I want to start early.  Besides, last year we were out of town for part of December so I didn't do much decorating.  This year I hope to have some more time to work on it.

What are you planning that's new for your holiday decor this year?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TED!


Ted is Terry's 4th oldest brother.  From oldest to youngest they are Terry, Tom, Tim, Ted, Tod (and Julie).  Talk about a tough time getting to know their names when I first started dating Terry.  It was crazy!  This photo is before Julie came along.
Ted's the middle one in the front row of kids above.  I'm sure he was a busy little guy, keeping up with his 3 older brothers.  See next photo.


I've known Ted over 30 years and these are just a few bits of info I can share about him in honor of his birthday.


  • He doesn't particularly like to get his picture taken.  These 2 photos above are his favorite poses.  Either he covers his face with his hand or makes an ugly face (sticks his tongue out or something).  He also gives me a really dirty look sometimes, like he's going to deck me. But since it's his birthday I didn't want to show you his "mean" face.  Anyway, I have DOZENS of photos in one of these 3 poses of him.  Sigh...maybe someday he'll come around.



  • Once in a while when he's distracted by kids or others, I can sneak in a photo of him and he looks great!  
  • This picture of Ted and Kristi holding Amy at their wedding when she was just a couple of months old is one of my favorites!  Don't they look too young to get married?  
  • I think they were more excited about me being pregnant than I was.  They used to bring me pickles and ice cream every week and they watched Amy and later Kevin for us all the time.  They have always been a great aunt and uncle to our kids.  Well except maybe for the time that they lost Amy under their bed or let Kevin get his head stuck in their stairs, then made him sit there while they took a picture.  (Oh well, nobody's perfect.)   Who has that picture anyway?
  • We loved having them nearby when we lived in So Cal.  It was so nice to have family around to share our holidays and special occasions with or just to hang out on a quiet weekend.  We miss seeing all of them more often.
  • Did you know Ted loves to dance.  I'm not sure he'll admit this one, but as you can see, I have several photos to substantiate this rumor.  I'm also aware of a video that's floating around somewhere from a decade ago which can also confirm that fact.  Unfortunately, I couldn't get my hands on it or I would have posted it here for proof.  True story.
(just kidding, Ted)
    I guess that's all I'll share for now.  Ted, I hope you have an extra special day.  Just wish we could be there to share it with you!

    Love, Nancy and Terry too.


    q