Saturday, January 29, 2011

Guess Where I Went?

This is your first hint!

I was invited to join a friend on a midwinter's getaway
at the Phoenician resort in Scottsdale, AZ
for four nights about a week ago.

They pampered us in every way. This is how we
were welcomed our first night there. Marshall came to our room
bearing a tray of fine china and silver and delectable treats of
cheese, fruit, crackers and bottled water in glass bottles!

I was blessed to be asked to join Kim for restorative trip
away from home. Kim is a dear friend that I've known for many years.
She has spent the last year caring for her beloved mother who
passed away earlier this month. It was her husband's idea to give
her a mid-winter break to rejuvinate after such a difficult time.

This is Michelle, the wonderful concierge who helped us
make the most of every moment we spent at the Phoenician.
Not only was she extremely helpful but she always had a smile for us.

I got a kick out of the giant stacks of towels in one of the
ladies restrooms. Every time we went in there the stacks
were completely full! Did they have someone on staff full time
just watching and filling those stacks of towels?

This is a photo I took of the resort from Camelback Mountain which we
hiked twice while we were there. The mountain was within walking distance
from the Phoenician so we laced up our hiking shoes and had a fabulous
time hiking the trails and taking in the breathtaking scenery on two
glorious mornings. You could see for miles from where we eventually
stopped our climb!

Two fearless hiking/talking/scrambling-on-rocks buddies.
It was a beautiful way to start the day.

This was the view from our balcony. It was such a
delight to wake up each morning and see the lovely grounds
with the mountains in the distance.

We sat out on the patio at night, enjoying a glass of wine
and watching the sunset with the lights of Phoenix twinkling in the distance.

They had these amazing tables with fire pits in the middle of them.
We sat around the table visiting with others before our meal. Such a delight!

We rented a car one day and drove outside of Scottsdale and visited Taliesin,
Frank Lloyd Wright's Arizona former residence and school for architects.
The tour and property are amazing and were fascinating to see.

Our lunch we shared (one delicious crab cake each) at
Arcadia Farms. I think I could eat there every day and never
get tired of food like that.

There's a part of the city called Old Town Scottsdale that
is filled with art galleries full of amazing art. I quickly snapped
a photo of these incredible wooden spheres in one of them. They
were quite large, maybe three feet, four feet and five feet tall
and smooth as silk with nary a seam felt in the wood.

Behind the resort is a beautiful cactus garden with walking trails.
I enjoyed checking out all the different desert vegetation.
It's so different from home but beautiful in its own way.

We enjoyed a high tea in the hotel lobby on our last day.
I think I could drink tea and eat like this every afternoon
with no complaints but it's probably better for my waistline that I don't!

Here I am on our last morning, in the depths of despair.
I'm begging Kim, "Please don't make me go!"

Saying good bye to the Phoenician in the gorgeous lobby.
I will never forget our wonderful stay in this most welcoming
and special resort. Good bye, Phoenician! I hope to return someday!
As fabulous as the Phoenician was, my time spent with Kim was even better.
It was a time of laughter and tears and reminiscing and healing. I will
treasure the memories we made here for the rest of my life.
Thank You, Lord,
for blessing me with a friend like Kim.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Do you remember my new year's resolution?

I gave God my year.

I said, "2011, it's all yours God, do with me what you will."


I had no idea what He'd do and if I want to be completely candid, I'll admit to being a little nervous about putting myself out there like that. Even so, I did it. I said the words and I meant them.

So here we are, not even two weeks later and I'm shocked. Perhaps you are smarter than me and this is probably painfully obvious to you but this is what I've learned thus far:

God wants me to be available for Him to use me.

Keep myself open and be willing.

Be willing.

Get that?

Mmm hmm - W. I. L. L. I. N. G.

No passing the buck, as in, "Can't you give this request to _________, God? She's better at that than I am."

He whispers, "My daughter, I didn't choose _________. I chose you."

No, "Sorry, God, I am really too pressed right to stop and pray with a friend. It'll just have to wait."

He tells me, "When it is convenient for you, it will be too late to bless your friend."

No, "I am setting such a lousy example of what a Christian looks like. There cannot be a worse example of how to live a godly life for my children to witness!"

He repeatedly affirms, "I gave you your precious children and I can think of no better example of a genuine Christian walk than for them to see your persistence and tenacity, even in your struggles."

God has been at work, using me. Me, a flawed sinner, being used by God to bless others. It is amazing beyond words. If you only knew how inadequate I have felt when being used, you might be surprised. I never feel completely up to the task. When I respond, I'm doing so out of obedience and trusting that God will do what I'm not capable of and He has been completely faithful to fill in my gaps.

Thank you for showing me yet again, Lord, that I can trust You. I'm looking forward to more adventures in the coming year and pray that You will continue to reveal more of Yourself to me.

To God be the glory.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Guess Who The Girls & I Saw In Concert?

If you're a fan of old musicals, this will mean something to you: Debbie Reynolds!

She sang at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis. I bought the tickets last summer as a special surprise for my girls. They both love Debbie Reynolds and were so excited to go. We watched "Singing In The Rain" on Saturday night to get ourselves in the mood. What a voice! Obviously many years have passed since she made that movie but even at 78 years of age Debbie can still belt out a tune.

She looked amazing, was quite a character and entertained us thoroughly. She told us she's been in show business for 64 years. 64 years! It was touching to hear all her stories about the people in show business that she had worked with that are all gone now: Frank Sinatra, Jimmy Stewart, Judy Garland and more.

I'm not a huge fan of the entertainment industry, in fact, I think it's pretty dysfunctional for the most part. However, I love the old musicals: Singing in the Rain, Annie Get Your Gun, Calamity Jane, Holiday Inn, White Christmas, Meet Me in St. Louis, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, My Fair Lady and more. It seems like Debbie Reynolds is the only one left from that era. I'm glad we were able to see her perform.

Bravo, Ms. Reynolds!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Must... Stop... Eating... Junk...

The last of the Christmas cookies we made last month. Mmmmm!

Okay, the house has been cleaned up so now it's time to tackle a few other priorities...

After a great summer of eating better I managed to get within five pounds of my goal weight but I've been stalled out for the last three months or so.

Could it be the large bowl of popcorn with real butter and lots of salt that I must eat whenever we watch a movie?

Could it be the Christmas cookies we consumed last month?

Could it be the countless loaves of Cranberry Bread that were baked for family, neighbors, friends (and us!)?

Could it be the Christmas candy that entered the house during the holidays and is still present (although rapidly disappearing, thanks to yours truly and others who shall remain anonymous...)?

Well, if I'm honest, it's probably a little bit of everything I've listed above. Thankfully, I didn't gain weight even with all the snacking and junk I've been eating, but I don't like feeling the way I do when I don't eat properly. I'd also like to get rid of the last five pounds and I need to make some changes for that to happen.

With that in mind, here are my eating and exercise goals:

- Limit myself to 20 grams of sugar per day

- Limit myself to 6 carb servings per day

- Begin baking bread for family via "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day"

- Healthy meal planning and preparing

- Drink at least 8 (12 oz.) glasses of water daily

- Sleep 7-8 hours per night

- Exercise 300 minutes weekly (roughly 45 minutes 6 x week)

- Begin lifting weights

An ambitious list, to be sure, but one worth striving for. I'm not planning on accomplishing everything immediately or even everyday, but hope to find a balance that works for our family. Now that I've written it down and posted it publicly I will have to be accountable so don't be afraid to ask me how I'm doing.

Here's to a happy HEALTHY new beginning of a new year. Make your own goals and join me, it's more fun with a friend!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Welcome 2011!

Hey, I just noticed that my last post was my 100th post! In blog world I think that's something to celebrate. It's a celebratory mood around here, all right.

The family and I are watching a Doris Day and Rock Hudson movie to celebrate. Celebrate what, you ask? Well, the hurculean task of putting away the Christmas decorations including the Christmas tree is done. D-O-N-E!

Every year it's the same old story. I drag out the multitudes of boxes full of all our Christmas decorations (um, well, actually my dear husband gets the boxes down from storage up in the shop) and decorate the house for the holidays. Five weeks later when it's time to take everything down and put it all away the job is not so fun and it seems like a lot more work. Every year my family wants to know why we go through all this work and sometimes I even wonder myself.

Anyway, it's all put away and the house is back to "normal", whatever that is. After all the excesses of the holidays I like the clean, uncluttered look.

Christmas is a wonderful, special time but I'm afraid that the true meaning gets overlooked with all the hoopla we engage in. I'm ready to put the hoopla aside and dig into God's Word and draw near to Him. If I'm serious about giving my year to Him, I need to be seeking Him today, tomorrow, every day!

So, what's on your agenda for 2011? As you know, a year is made up of 365.25 days. Don't let them get away from you! Make the most of each one for they all add up and they're shaping your future.

Welcome 2011!