Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Only in CA

Can you go to the beach in December.....
I had to work today (poor me!) but Jay was off so he took Kendall and Nicole and Nicole's friend Maddie to Pismo beach to search for sea shells. Nicole told her friends back in Kansas that she would bring back some sea shells and today just happened to be a gorgeous day, so Jay took all 3 girls to Nipomo for some lunch and then took the new truck out onto the beach to try out the 4 wheel drive and then let the girls walk down the beach and collect shells. They had a wonderful time. After they finished collecting shells, they took the truck to the car wash and then visited Starbuck's and the pet store. Poor Jay. He keeps getting hounded by the girls to get a dog. I have to admit I've been getting the itch also. It would have to be the right dog for our family though and it's not easy to find just the right one. For now, we'll keep falling in love with other people's dogs until the right one for us comes along. I did miss being able to hang out with the family today, but I got a lot of work done and made some money, which is always a good thing :). I am just working a half day tomorrow and then I'm off for the rest of the week, so I should not spend too much time feeling sorry for myself!

Nicole and Maddie

I love this photo

Kendall holding her bag of shells

I'm assuming Maddie took this photo. I love the sun behind them.

The girls gave me these shells because they thought they looked like butterflies. Isn't that sweet?

Christmas with the Ketchum's (and Willett's)

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas. We heard of so many people that were sick and were fortunate enough that no one in our own household got sick. The bad news is that my Dad was sick and unable to be with the family and my brother Jeff and sister-in-law Lisa were both home sick all day as well. Being sick on Christmas stinks!
We had a very nice time this year. We were thrilled to have both of the girls with us and have the opportunity to celebrate together, on Christmas day, rather than celebrating in November. We went to Uncle Ken and Aunt Xenia's on Christmas Eve. It was a very quiet (except for the girls playing with the dogs) and mellow Christmas. My Dad couldn't make it, so we met Valerie in Ventura and she hopped in with us for the rest of the drive so that she didn't have to drive all by herself. Aunt Kelli and Jon were too sick to join us as well and Uncle Steve was home taking care of them. Kate was with her boyfriend's family and Liana was with her boyfriend's family and Jason was working until around 7:00 so it was just us and Grandma and Valerie and Uncle Ken, Aunt Xenia and Jenessa. Jason joined us when he got off of work. He got a new job at American Eagle in the mall so he had to work, but he got off relatively early and was able to eat dinner with us. Aunt Xenia made a delicious ham. Well to be completely honest, Costco made a delicious ham but Aunt Xenia heated it up really, really well :). We brought green bean casserole and Valerie made the world's most delicious potato salad and brought rolls and we had a spinach salad as well. We all fit around the table and Grandma was even up for joining us at the table, so she sat and visited with us and it was so nice to have her there. Sometimes she isn't up for the trip to the table so she just eats in the living room, but she was determined to eat with the family. We really missed my Dad and everyone else that couldn't be there, but the plus side of a small crowd is that everyone really gets a chance to visit.
The girls had a blast playing with the dogs. Uncle Ken and Aunt Xenia have the sweetest dogs who don't mind being badgered incessantly by sweet little girls. I got a chance to have a really nice conversation with Grandma, which I always appreciate so very much and Jay and Uncle Ken were off chatting about everything under the sun. It was just a really wonderful time of family and lots of love, which to me, second only to celebrating Jesus' birthday is the most wonderful thing about Christmas.

Kendall was actually helping in the kitchen. This is earth-shattering. She is a huge helper, but has absolutely zero interest in anything related to cooking.

Jay and Grandma snuggling on the couch. Grandma finally used the blanket we got her last year for the first time. She was saving it. For what I asked her? She said she didn't want to soil it. She's so cute.

Valerie and Jenessa

This is Flint. He's VERY cute and very wise and very understanding.

I had the best seat in the house

Valerie had to open all the presents to her and my Dad without him :(

Uncle Ken telling stories again and Flint wants in on the action

The girls got $50 Target gift cards from Uncle Ken, Aunt Xenia and Grandma and they were beyond excited!

Sorry, I forgot to take the red eyes out and am feeling lazy right now

Poor Jason got a nasty cut on his forehead. You would not believe it, but this metal shelf at work actually jumped off of the wall and cut his head. I don't think they are going to be friends after this.

Christmas day was a nice, mellow day at home. We got in at around 1:30 from Uncle Ken and Aunt Xenia's and then Jay Santa came and we had cards to sign and didn't get to bed until after 2:00. so we all slept in until around 9:30. We got up and opened our stockings and then opened presents next to the fireplace and then I made bacon and egg burritos for Jay and Nicole and I and waffles for Kendall (she doesn't like eggs). We all loved our gifts. The girls got clothes and new purses and wallets and lots of movies and music and some jewelry and gift cards galore. Jay got a new video game and some movies and cologne and a cool K-State football workout shirt. Dad and Valerie got us a new movie and a new boom box, yea! We have two boom boxes and both of the CD players broke so we were listening to CD's on the DVD player. The Ludingtons sent us a really cute picture frame and a yummy candle and the Bunns sent us a family portrait in a pretty frame that I can't wait to put up once we get the Christmas decorations put away. Yours truly got some cologne and a really pretty sweater and a digital photo frame (which is already loaded with 565 of my favorite photos) and some earrings and lots of cute little stamping goodies in my stocking. It's not about the gifts at all, but we did enjoy getting some new toys. After breakfast we showered and then visited with the Ludingtons and Bunns in VA on the webcam. That was so fun! I felt bad for poor little TJ though, he was sick and you could tell because he just kind of sat there and stared at us. We also got lots of loving phone calls from family. Even though we couldn't see everyone, at least we got to talk on the phone with them. After our visits, we watched, "It's a Wonderful Life" and had some homemade spaghetti and turkey Italian sausage and garlic bread, as is the traditional Christmas dinner, is it not?

All in all we had a wonderful Christmas. We missed lots of loved ones, but made the most of what we do have and we are blessed beyond measure.

The girls made cards for their Daddy

Kendall's new sweatshirt

Nicole's new Tinkerbell purse

As is a tradition in the Ketchum household, Jay and I have a tacky ornament contest every year. This year he got me this light-up Christmas ornament. It's motorized and has a scrolling marquee. You can change the saying but it's not as high tech as it looks. There is a template with each saying on it and you have to swap it out to change the saying. I don't know where he comes up with these things.

I got him his very own High School Musical ornament. And yes, it has a picture of Zac Efron on it. He's so dreamy!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Just a Little Reminder

My thoughtful husband got me several stamping goodies for my stocking this year and he also bought me this foam stamp set filled with beautiful butterfly stamps (my favorite). He knows me so well! Tonight while he and the girls were outside shooting our BB gun (not sure how I feel about that in the backyard but anyway), I sat down and made a little note card. The DP is from Costco and the stamp set is from the gift that Jay got me for Christmas from Michael's. I should have checked the brand before I threw away the box but in all my excitement I tossed it. The sentiment is from my Unity December KOTM and the ribbon is from Beverly's. I colored the stamps using my Prisma color pencils. The photo didn't turn out great, but you can at least get the idea. Now I just need an occassion to remind someone of something. Probably how much I love them....

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Visit from my Adopted Sister

My former roommate and adopted sister Susan drove up for a visit this afternoon. I lived with Susan for 9 years before I moved up to Santa Maria to be with my new family. Susan is so much more than a friend, she is like a sister to me. We don't get to see each other nearly enough and as much as I love living with my family, I do miss living with Susan as well. She is the most loyal, kind, generous person I know. She has been so good to me over the years and I know I can always count on her to listen, to give sound advice, to laugh with and as an incredible support system.

She couldn't stay long because of her own busy schedule, but she drove up this morning and arrived at around 11:00. Jay was taking the girls to the dentist, so we sat on the couch and drank coffee and visited with The Food Network on in the background (for old times sake, TFN is always on in Susan's home). When Jay and the girls got home, we took Susan to Kay's Country Kitchen in Old Orcutt for a late breakfast/lunch. We had never been there and we all loved it! It's an adorable little restaurant with photos from Orcutt from years past painting the walls and our waitress was not only a wonderful server, but a true joy, we just fell in love with her.

After we got home, the girls opened their presents from Susan. She got them each a Walmart gift card and she got Nicole a Now 28 CD (they are up to 28?) and Kendall the new Indiana Jones movie on DVD. So much more than the presents, it was a gift having Susan in our home, if only for a few hours. We all love you Susan!

3 of my favorite people in the whole world


Nicole with her new CD

Kendall with her new DVD

Spirit of Christmas

Jay and the girls are out Christmas shopping, so I had time to make two cards while watching White Christmas. I had to watch the movie after going to see the play on Saturday night. It's one of the movies we do not yet own and I think we are going to have to buy it before next year. I used SU cardstock and DP for this card as well and the stamps are both from an SU kit that I bought a couple of months ago. This tree is absolutely gorgeous. I had to use the felt flurries on this card as well, I think I have used them for just about every Christmas card I have made this year, they are just so adorable. I hope you and your families are enjoying this wonderful season and remember that we are celebrating the birth of our Savior.

Among all the hustle and bustle, the baking, the parties, the shopping, the gift wrapping, the overeating (hopefully not too much)....take time to enjoy the precious moments with your loved ones and reflect on the greatest gift of all. That child that was born in the most humble of settings who gave His life for each and every one of us.

Smitten With You

I made this card tonight for one of the girls (I haven't decided which one yet). I just got my new December KOTM from Unity Stamp Co and couldn't wait to use the mitten stamp! Isn't it so adorable? The sentiment, snowflake flurries, DP and cardstock are all from SU. I colored the base of the mittens with my Prisma markers and used a square card from Beverly's. I think it turned out really cute. I don't know what I am going to do after Christmas is over. I think I am going to go into mourning....

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Irving Berlin's White Christmas

Last night we went to the PCPA Theaterfest to see Irving Berlin's White Christmas. The play was incredible! The PCPA is a local theater group. They have an outdoor theater in Solvang and an indoor theater at Alan Hancock College in Santa Maria. Both theaters are very intimate and there is not a bad seat in the house.

We were seated off to the side, but in the 3rd row. The acting, singing, and dancing were all amazing. They did a great job with the casting and it was so much fun to see the acts and hear the familiar songs. I was sad hearing, "Sisters" and wishing my sister were there to see it with me. But, it was a wonderful evening and the girls really enjoyed it. They got all dressed up and we went and had dinner at Red Robin before the show, to make it an extra special evening. Their favorite part was when Bob and Phil had to do the "Sisters" act with their trousers rolled up and their sock suspenders showing. I think that was my favorite part also :).

The photos are not from my camera. They would not allow photography inside the theater, so I copied these from the PCPA website.

Sisters, sisters, there were never such devoted sisters!

Rhoda and Rita, these ladies were a riot.

Susan, the general's granddaughter
Martha, she stole the show. She had the most incredible voice!
Betty - out on her own
Phil singing to Susan
General Waverly

Saturday, December 20, 2008

3 Years of Wedded Bliss!

On Wednesday, Jay and I celebrated our 3rd wedding anniversary. I can't believe it's already been 3 years. My loving husband came home with a beautiful flower arrangement for me and we got changed and went to Alex Madonna's Steakhouse at the Madonna Inn for a wonderful dinner. For our first wedding anniversary, we went to the Madonna Inn for dinner and spent the night in one of the theme rooms. I had always wanted to stay there and my Grandparents used to go for their wedding anniversary so we thought it would be a special way to celebrate our first year of marriage. We liked it so much that we went back last year and again this year and it's now become a tradition. The wait staff is so nice and they bring us a Happy Anniversary balloon that hangs from our table and we get seated in one of the cozy pink booths and the food is absolutely amazing (I always have the halibut and Jay always has the bacon-wrapped fillet) and they also end our meal with a scrumptious piece of complimentary cake. If you have ever been to the Madonna Inn, you KNOW how amazing their cake is! The entire hotel is decorated to the hilt for Christmas and they always have a live band playing Christmas music in the bar located right next to the restaurant and this year we were seated right next to them so we had some wonderful music to accompany our great conversation.

We decided to bring our gifts with us to the restaurant this year. I will post photos of them later, the one I took at the restaurant of the gift that Jay bought me did not do it justice. We always follow the standard anniversary gifts and this year the modern was glass or crystal and the traditional was leather. Jay gave me this gorgeous glass candle cube that holds lamp fuel and is engraved with two wedding bands with our names on it and our wedding date. I did not find something as romantic and went with leather. Since he just got a new truck, I bought him a leather case that came with a flashlight and pen and tire gauge for him to keep all of his important papers, maps, etc. stored. It's debossed with his initials and I thought he would be something he would like (and he did!)

The best part was the cards. I cried (of course!) when I read Jay's words to me. I'm still amazed every day that of all the women in the world, this amazing man wants to be with me! I have heard that marriage takes work and to a degree, that is very true, but one thing that does not take work is loving my husband. Loving him comes automatically, like breathing, hunger, fatigue. I don't have to write on a Post-It note or send myself a task reminder or repeat words to myself over and over, "Love Jay today." I do have to make the effort to show him my love, but loving him comes easily to me. I have no doubt that I am the luckiest woman in the world. I am married to a man that is kind, funny, romantic, thoughtful, loyal, hard working, a good provider, an incredible father, ridiculously handsome and deserving of so much more than I can give him. But, some gifts you accept whether you deserve them or not, and Jay's love is one of those gifts. I know that we will have times of trial in our lives and no, we don't agree on everything and sure, we disappoint each other and get frustrated with one another, but there is no one on earth I would rather spend my life with than Jay Ketchum and I thank God for him, and the girls every single day.

The arrangement Jay surprised me with. The roses are so perfect!

Our waitor took this photo for us

The incredible cake!

I don't remember the carrollers last year, I think they had deer last year in this spot.

Right out in front of the restaurant entrance they had thousands of Poinsettas

The End (of our evening....just the beginning of our lives together)

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Little Christmas Creation

I made a little Christmas card tonight (most likely for one of the girls). I was a little disappointed that I got a couple of small ink spots on it (I was using clear stamps and it's sometimes a challenge to get them inked properly without getting any ink on the acrylic block. Other than that, I think it turned out fairly well, considering I sat down with absolutely no clue of what I wanted to do (well, no clue accept that I wanted to make a card!) I got these great clear stamps from an Inkadinkadoo set from Costco. It came with 5 sheets of all different holiday stamps for $20 so I couldn't pass it up. I may have to put up with a little trouble now and then getting them inked properly, but I am running low on my cardstock right now, so I didn't want to start all over again. Besides, it looks more rustic this way :).

Rigatoni with Creamy Sausage Sauce

I tried a new WW recipe tonight and it was fabulous! It took a little more work than some of the other recipes I make and it took a lot of dishes (poor Jay) to put together, but it was so good that it was worth it!

Points Value: 9
Servings: 4

8 oz uncooked rigatoni
1/8 tsp table salt
8 oz raw turkey sausage, Italian-style, removed from casings (the grocery store was out of these the other day, so I bought the new Jennie-O Italian seasoned ground turkey and it was great)
8 oz cremini mushrooms, or Baby Bella Mushrooms, trimmed, quartered
1 Tbl minced garlic (I, of course, went over this silly little measurement)
2 Tbl all-purpose flour
1 1/2 c fat-free skim milk (we had 1% in the house, so I used that)
1 c frozen green peas, petite-variety
1/2 tsp table salt, or more to taste
1/4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
1/2 c roasted red peppers, water-packed, sliced (condiment aisle)
1/2 c scallions, sliced
3 Tbl grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta to boiling water and cook according to package directions.

Meanwhile in a large nonstick skillet, cook sausage stirring and breaking into chunks with a wooden spoon, until browned, about 3 minutes; remove to a bowl. Add mushrooms to skillet and saute until browned and tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook 30 seconds until fragrant.

In a measuring cup, whisk together flour and milk until smooth; stir into skillet along with peas, salt and black pepper. Bring sauce to a boil; simmer until thickened and peas are tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in sausage, roasted peppers and scallions; remove from heat.

Drain pasta; return to pot. Add sausage sauce and cheese; toss to coat. Transfer to a serving bowl. Yields about 2 cups per serving.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

I've Been Tagged

I've been tagged! And, being a rule follower, I guess I should follow the rules. I was tagged by my friend Michelle Shuman who is one of the most creative people I know, so for her to tag me for a creative blogger award is beyond flattering!

So, 7 weird/random facts about myself......

1. I can't stand long fingernails or toenails. For whatever reason, they drive me CRAZY and I get really grossed out when I see someone wearing flip-flops and they have long toenails. I keep my comments to myself, but I cringe and flip out a little on the inside.
2. I need to drink a crazy amount of water every day. I don't know why, but I am constantly thirsty and have to have a bottle of water with me everywhere that we go, even on short trips to the market.
3. I take almost 30 minutes to get ready for bed in the evening. I have to clean my contact lenses, wash off my eye make-up, wash my face, use toner on my face, take all of my vitamins, moisturize my skin, use my under eye gel (to fend off wrinkles), put Vasoline on the tip of my nose (little trick I found to help alleviate dryness), floss my teeth, brush my teeth, put on lip balm, brush my hair, put on lotion and in the winter time my fingers crack so I have to put on Neosporin and Band-Aids to help the cracks heal. Thank God for double-sinks in the master bath and a very understanding husband!
4. I love, love, love to give gifts to people. I have been told by friends and family members that I have a gift for picking out just the right thing for people. I try to put a lot of thought into gifts before I purchase them and not always, but most of the time I end up finding just the right thing that I know that they will love.
5. I don't like change. Before I met Jay I lived in Camarillo for 20 years, lived in the same house with the same roommate for 9 years, stayed at Surfware for 9 years, drive my cars until they won't run anymore, and have stayed in relationships well beyond when they should have ended. I can handle change, but I just don't like it! You can imagine the shock I went into when I married Jay and moved to a new house, in a new town, living with new people and then changed my job. I am growing!!!!
6. Christmas is my absolutely positively favorite time of the year. I love the lights, the music, celebrating Jesus' birth, buying presents for loved ones, baking cookies, decorating the house, celebrating our wedding anniversary, egg nog Lattes, Christmas movies, parties - all of it!
7. I am an extremely loyal friend and God has blessed me with so many wonderful friends. I think I am the richest woman on earth.

Guidelines for Kreativ Blogger Award:

1. The winner may put the logo on their blog.
2. Put a link to the person who sent you the award.
3. Nominate 5 blogs.
4. Put links to their blogs
5. Leave a message for your nominees.
And the nominees are....

1. Michelle (of course!). She nominated me and she has one of my favorite blogs so I am tagging her right back.
2. My friend Corey, who is also a friend of Michelle's. We all met at Pam's Stampin' Up workshops and Corey is now coming to our church so we sat together at the Christmas Tea and she does way more than card making. She just posted an adorable shadow box that she did and she makes crafts with wood and jewelry and just about any material she can get her hands on.
3. Donna who I have never met or chatted with, but whose creations I absolutely love and her blog has quickly become one of my favorites. I follow her blog and get super excited when she posts a new creation.
4. Amber who is a designer at Unity Stamp Co. Amber is incredibly creative and she inspires me to think outside the box. She also stamps using butterflies a LOT and being the butterfly finatic that I am, I really like her work.
5. Kristina who posts this wonderful videos on Make a Card Monday and Finally Friday and has color inspirations once a week, which I have yet to participate in, but I am anxious to try when things slow down a bit. Kristina makes simple cards, but they are beautiful and I love learning from her.
6. Jennfer whi is another designer for Unity. She does some really creative things with color and is always coming up with something fresh and new. I just love going to her blog and I visit often!
7. Patter is yet another designer for Unity. Patter is a Christian and is always making cards with scriptures and has wonderful tips on her blog, in addition to her creations.
To all of these bloggers (and so many more!) thank you for inspiring me and I hope I can do the same in return.
Merry Christmas everyone!

Back to Stamping

After a short haitus (too much to do this time of year) I sat down to make a Christmas card for my friend Pam tonight. I was still multi-tasking mind you. I had a batch of gingerbread cookies in the oven and was watching a movie with the family while making the card, but it was nice to sit down at my craft table and make a card for my dear friend Pam. Pam is one of the most amazing women I know. She can be 15 places at once and never runs out of energy. For example, she got home Tuesday night from 3 days at Disneyland and went over to the church to wash sweet potatoes for 275 people and then came back the next morning at 9:30 to make a full ham dinner for the all church Christmas party and she wasn't even that tired! Because of all she does for everyone else, I wanted to do a little something for her. She runs the coffee shop at church that Jay and I serve in and so I know how much Pam loves coffee, so I made her a little gift basket with an adorable coffee cup and a few packets of SLO coffee, some mint truffle kisses (the Michelle turned me onto) and a couple of packs of her favorite mints. I also made her this card tonight and tried to express in words my appreciation for her, although I am certain I fell short.


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