Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas Memories

Now that Christmas 2010 is a lovely memory, I figure I better capture some of the fun on the blog. The DH and I stayed home for Christmas and had no visitors, so it was a nice quiet affair. The weekend before Christmas was very busy. We went to an amazing Christmas concert put on by the Northwest Boy Choir and I made cinnamon rolls and we participated in the Sunday Christmas program.

On Christmas Eve, we both had the day off. We both slept in, then I went and worked out with my trainer and did some last minute shopping (though mostly for groceries, not gifts). For our Christmas Eve, we had Chinese food from Chef at Wok and watched a movie (Bounty Hunter and it was pretty good -- definite rental). We read the Christmas story from Luke 2 before going to bed and then called it a night.

On Christmas morning, we woke up fairly early (just after 6) and made sure Santa got the stockings filled. Then we both got up and went to open gifts. We were both excited to give our gifts to each other! It took us about an hour to open and look at everything.

Here's the low down on the loot:
I got 10 swimming lessons, and iPod touch, a cool ring, a bracelet made of Chinese tiles, a cool bee necklace, a blue paperweight, a painting from an Etsy artist with two birds on a wire with a cool background with gold in it, new running socks, a cool yoga top, a Gene Juarez gift card, and iTunes gift card, and various candies and toiletries from the DH. He did a great job finding just the things he knew I would love and going completely overboard in making me feel loved and pampered.

I also got a cool Space Needle lego set and an Etta's gift card from my parents; an Amazon gift card and star ornament (or sun catcher, depending on how I feel) from Colin, Sam, and Max; wonderful Hickory Farms food gifts from the Godfrey's; and a wonderful candle from one of my co-workers.

The DH got an overcoat, a Buck knife, a T-shirt that says "Meat is Murder, tasty, tasty murder" on it, an iTunes gift card, a pint glass with a skull and cross-bones etched in it, a Raiders mug for drinking tea at work, a bunch of handmade soap, and other candy and food items from me.

He also got a T-shirt from Colin, Sam, and Max that says "Bing in love is totally punk rock" that we both love, an iTunes gift card from my parents,

The two of us together got a Raiders blanket and stocking caps and pillow cases from his brother time, a couple of books that look really good from the DH's sister, some sparkling grape juice and candle from friends, a movie gift card from friends, and I'm sure I'm forgetting something here.
All in all, we feel incredibly blessed by all that we received and the wonderful opportunities to give.

After opening gifts, I talked to my family in Boise and cooked for a good part of the day. I made rolls, pumpkin pie, cheesy potatoes, green bean casserole, and homemade stuffing. The DH bought a smoked turkey from Jensen's (about which I cannot say enough good things) and that topped of the most wonderful dinner. We shared dinner with some friends and then called it a night.

It was a very merry Christmas for both of us.

Our Year in Review

The DH and I wrote a Christmas letter, then I forgot to tell DH that we needed to add it to the Christmas cards when he was helping and he sealed them all. He was being super helpful, so I take full responsibility. So, since no one got our letter with their card, I'll just post it here.

Dear Fiends and Family,

2010 has been a wonderful year for us! In January, Patrick got to take a photography class (part of his Christmas haul) and Noelle had the privilege of participating in jury duty. It may sound like a chore, but really was a unique experience getting to understand how our judicial process works. In February, we had the pleasure of flying out to Pensacola, Florida for a week to visit Patrick’s oldest son Daniel and his wife and three kids. It was one of the coldest winters on record, so we didn’t get as much beach time in as we’d hoped, but we had a wonderful time enjoying family for a few days.

February also marked the beginning of racing season for us. After starting workouts with a trainer, Noelle was able to run a full 5K for the first time in her life at the Valentine’s Day Dash. From there, we continued training and participated in several more runs. Noelle finally got to her big race, the Danskin Triathlon, in August. It was a sprint distance swim, bike, and run event and was a huge accomplishment for Noelle. She even felt so good about it that she did another triathlon a month later (also a sprint distance).

In May, Noelle headed off on her own to meet up with her mom and sisters in New York City to celebrate Whitney’s 40th birthday. They had a fantastic time seeing the sites, going to a Broadway show, eating great food, and shopping at fun stores. The activities were good, but the best part was the company!

In August, we enjoyed more time with the Robertson family at a reunion in Boise, ID. It was a great time to see all the nieces and nephews and catch up on what everyone is doing. We had fun with all the activities that mom and dad had planned, but again, the company was the best part. We also had a really nice trip to see Patrick's sister and brother-in-law just outside Hermiston, Oregon in the Fall. We came home with a car loaded with produce, much of which Patrick's brother-in-law grew organically on their land. We're still enjoying the home grown tomatoes and spuds!

In early October, we set off on a grand adventure with another couple and visited southern Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. Patrick had never been to any of these areas, so it was all new to him. Noelle had been to many of the places, but had a wonderful time seeing some of the wonderful places she has such fond memories of from past trips. The best news of all is that we’re still good friends with the couple we traveled with. They were wonderful travel companions and we all seemed to travel at about the same pace.

We spent some time in Boise again for Thanksgiving and enjoyed visiting with the relatives that live there (and Ann!) for a few days. It’s been a busy December, but we’re looking forward to a quiet Christmas at home and a wonderful new year with more plans for fun.

Merry Christmas!

Noelle and Patrick McDonald

Monday, December 13, 2010

Music Monday -- Vampire Weekend

Several weeks ago, I kept seeing posts on an event list asking for tickets to Vampire Weekend. I thought it was some late Halloween thing. After a while, it dawned on me that it might be a concert. So many people were interested in tickets that I thought it might be worth my while to check them out. I was not disappointed!

Their latest album is called Contra and I took a listen and decided that I liked it. The songs vary pretty wildly in style, but I actually think that gives the album a lot more interest. I hate it when you buy an album and you can't even tell the songs apart because they all sound the same after a while. That won't happen with Vampire Weekend. The first song on the album is Horchata. It's the kind of song that just makes me feel good.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Feelin' It?

I haven't been lately. I just haven't felt much in the Christmas mood. I thought some Christmas tunes might help the situation. I really love this song. It's hauntingly beautiful and has all the right words.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Music Monday -- Florence and the Machine

Yes. I realize it's not Monday. It'll be OK.

I discovered a new band (well, new to me of course) a few weeks ago and I've been loving them every since. Florence and the Machine has been playing in my car more than the DH can stand, but I'm completely enamored. The album is called Lungs and I like just about every song on there.

My favorite song on the album is probably Drumming Song. It's great, but embedding was disabled for the song, so you'll have to click the link to hear it. (How does she dance in those shoes? Crazy!)

I also love the song Rabbit Heart (Raise it Up). I hope you enjoy it too!

Architecture of the Alpine Region

While traveling in the Alpine region, we visited many small towns with a variety of architectural styles. It was fun to see the paintings on the sides of buildings, the architectural embellishments, and the variety of styles. These are a few of the buildings that I enjoyed most.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Back to Bavaria -- The Final Installment

After having a wonderful time in Salzburg, we headed back to Bavaria. Our first stop was Herrenchiemsee. We had a bit of difficulty finding it to begin with. The instructions I read basically just said what town to go to and gave the impression it was close to the train station. We parked at the train station and I went in to ask about getting there. The man told me generally what direction to walk, but wasn't so clear on how long it would take. We started walking and saw nothing that gave us the impression we were walking in the right direction. We stopped again and Beep asked a guy on the street which way and how far. We were going the right direction, but he indicated that it might be kind of far. That's when we headed back to the car and started driving. It wasn't too long to drive, but it would have been an ugly walk.When we finally got to where we needed to be, we actually had to buy tickets for a ferry to get to the island where the Herrenchiemsee is. This is the third of the three castles built by crazy King Ludwig. He had a huge fascination with France's King Louis XIV, so he modeled this castle after Versailles and had a lot of art dedicated to Louis XIV and several portraits of the King. It also had large fountains and gardens out front reminiscent of Versailles, but on a much smaller scale. Apparently, he ran out of money before he was able to build things out to the scale he wanted.From there, we headed back to Munich. When we got there, we checked into our hotel and ran to the grocery store for a lifetime supply of chocolate to take home, and then went to the Modern Art Museum. They had some really great displays and we enjoyed seeing them. It was fairly late in the afternoon and we were concerned about the time, but we were able to see all the displays we were interested in before the Museum closed.From there, we wanted to go to the iconic Hoffbrauhaus for dinner. It was a Friday night and we didn't have reservations, so we had the choice of joining a shared table of heavy drinkers or finding a dinner alternative. After walking through the beer hall, we thought we may have had enough of the ambiance. It was fun to see the band playing and watch the waitresses hold ten liters of beer at one time, but it just wasn't the place for us to eat dinner. We didn't really have any ideas, so we went across the street to the Hard Rock Cafe. The dinner wasn't German, but it was still good. We all enjoyed interesting burgers and then spent our last Euros on Gelato.
From there, we headed to the hotel where we spent our last night before heading back to the airport and flying home. We had a great time with Bop and Beep, but two weeks was a long time to be on the road, so we were glad to be home and sleeping in our own bed again.