Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Little Trip

I've just learned that my Uncle has passed away. We called him "Gooner," which is how he pronounced junior when he was a boy.
He was my mom's brother and they were extremely close. We spent a ton of time together growing up, and his 6 kids are my only cousins. Gooner was a very friendly, social guy - always dropping in to say hello and shoot the breeze over a Diet Coke. He called me "Legs."
I'm leaving town to head back to Sparta for the services. It will be absolutely wonderful to see all my siblings and their kids, plus my 6 cousins, and become reacquainted with them and all their children and even a grandchild! That part of the trip is going to be terrific. Saying goodbye to Uncle Gooner will be hard, but he was ready.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Cards and Catalogs

I was talking to my dear childhood friend, Betsy, about the holidays. The weather in NY had been hampering her holiday plans, her travel, and she was late in getting her cards in the mail...and we got to discussing whether it was environmentally correct to even send Christmas cards anymore... but neither of us want to give them up.
We love going to the mailbox and finding those envelopes from far and near, photos and letters and news from all our friends, even if it's only once a year. A letter is a good thing. And we decided to continue with cards. So what do you give up to make up for the cards we send? Catalogs!

I went into the den and grabbed all the catalogs I hadn't already recycled and went here. Catalogchoice.org. You can decide when and if you want to receive catalogs - you can use your current catalogs to jog your memory, or browse through their lengthy list - and remove your name from all the catalog mailing lists.

Let's face it, I didn't order one Christmas present because of a catalog I received. I hardly have time to read newspaper and my favorite magazines, much less pore over catalogs for ideas. That's what the internet is for!

I'm done with catalogs! Whew! That was easy!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

We always get up at 7am sharp, look through the loot in our stockings, and then come down to open presents. There's coffee and a big cookie platter, with a hot breakfast ready to pop in the oven when we're finished.

Christmas Eve. Hors d'oeuvres, martinis and champagne.
Cousin Charlie, Marguerie, Aunt Lelia and broth-in-law Larry.
Silly fun, old photos to watch (through Apple TV) and a few presents.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

2008 Cookie Exchange - pics only

TOO BUSY! Will fill in the details later. Just know that the party at my house was impossible, so we took it to a local pub. Claire and I hiked out of the neighborhood and snagged a ride from a neighbor, but everyone else walked - Joy even rigged up a sled to carry home groceries - all of us arrived in great form, ready for a super fun party, presents and cookies! The boys arrived later for a burger. It was a blast!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Just Shoot Me

Four dogs for the holidays.
Boomer, Lucy, Bean and Peter.
Behaving for the camera, but otherwise, not so much.

Everyone is here. She made it!

Whew! We had to go to the airport to pick up Claire this morning. We had a moment of worry when she called to say they were stuck on the tarmac waiting for PDX to find more de-icing solution. But minutes later she called to say they were on their way. Departure: 8:30am, arrival scheduled for 10:30.

We were nervous about the road conditions, so we left a 9am just in case.

The ice on the windows was super thick - we even broke the scraper.

Vermont hill... no sledders, but plenty of walkers. 30th Street was closed going downhill to Beaverton Hillsdale Hwy.

A little more traffic accumulated as we neared the airport. When we arrived, we found that most flights in and out were cancelled. There were people asleep everywhere, dejected travelers staring at the tv screens, some just learning that they had no way out or no connection.

We chatted with some lovely people from West Linn who were waiting for their son to return from a semester aproad in Seville. Their house has been on the market for 19 months and we talked strategy. We suggested a cute girl we know who goes to his college. We watched as soldiers arrived to sobbing mothers. Finally, at 10:40 her flight arrived, and Claire walked through, carrying a very wiggly duffel bag. Lucy was so happy to be freed!

The hills were so icy it looked as though everything was photographed in black and white. There was more traffic on the roads, but we made it home safely by 1pm.

Let the holidays begin! I can hear Home Alone playing in the next room!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Whew! Almost Everything is Done!

Thanks to all the snow days, everything is done!

All I have left to do is plan/make the food for:

Monday night's cookie exchange (a few munchies and a signature drink)
Christmas Eve (a heavy hors d'oeuvres fest)
Something for Christmas brunch - just us
Salad for Christmas dinner
Brunch for the big old friends gang on Dec 26

Claire arrives tomorrow - food & entertaining is the part where we're yin/yang. We get it all done quickly, her ideas are wonderful, and she makes it fun!

We're all decorated, shopped, partially wrapped, cards and gifts all mailed, & some cookies in the freezer. And it's only the 20th!

This afternoon we did a kahlua taste test!

Odds and Ends

A couple of photos that never got blogged, but I promised more pictures to far away family, so the few from fall that are still lurking around ...

One of the few pictures of Cam in his Oregon Marching Band uniform - this one on the way to the Civil War (Oregon -vs- Oregon State) on the day after Thanksgiving.

A Christmas card picture that didn't make the cut...

Bean and Peter enjoying a sunny day. (bean looks evil in this picture!)

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Thank GOODNESS I had several days with no appointments, as I've been slaving away over the CD burner, and making liner notes, and writing cards, and running out for envelopes and the proper stamps, in case I can't make it to the post office because of the weather, and just churning out greetings to my dear clients, who I LOVE, but this is taking a long time! Check out my production line... (I can safely post this now, since they are in the mail)

And in between, I've made the most incredible olives,
which forced me to have a martini, in which these olives are THE BOMB! (recipe upon request!)

And then I've also made some spiced pecans, and some sugar cookies with a bit of almond frosting, and I've tried out a new pork tenderloin recipe, and made chili.... and more cookies... and then more cards. Seriously, it's a production studio over here.

All we're doing is eating, and cooking, and baking, and writing notes and burning CD's...and I couldn't be happier, since I have one child at home - the funniest one - for comic relief, and luckily, we have a car that can get us to the grocery store, and today we are trying THE MALL, but in spite of not going anywhere, we have been busy and having a lot of fun!

Do you like the stamps? I love the chair and the coffee pot!

Seriously, this snow storm has made me the happiest I've been since the last snow storm. A Wisconsin girl needs snow, I tell ya.

Have fun! Enjoy the snow and the season...

Monday, December 15, 2008

Cabin Fever

Bean experienced his first snow yesterday.

He was NOT happy about it. Even though he was sporting an adorable Juicy Couture ski jacket, compliments of Claire, his little feet were just too cold. He spent most of the time standing on three legs and looking longingly at the door.

Finally. The torture is over.

Today he got stuck inside of his ratty old stuffed lion.

It is the kind of day we're having around here. Just playing around - making soup, decorating the Christmas tree, reading and listening to music.

Thank heavens for snow days.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

For everyone who is a girlfriend ...

Thank you, Terri, for this tribute to the friendships that women all over the world share. To my sisters out there. You know who you are!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

My progress so far

Here's what's done:

~ cookie exchange invitations out
~ cookie recipe tried & ready
~ family in far away places - gifts wrapped and ready to go
~ friends in far away places - gifts partially wrapped and almost ready to go
~ package mailed to friend's son in Irag
~ Christmas cards for clients and family ordered
~ Holiday gifts for clients/friends underway
~ two scarves knitted!

Not done:

~ tree
~ lights
~ house decorations
~ family shopping
~ cards
~ gifts for clients

So....the bottom line appears to be that I've taken care of pretty much everybody but my immediate family. Oh well, they're the FUN ones to shop for!

It feels like my deadlines are being met, in terms of mailing stuff. That's always the killer!

But right now? I'm off to the mall to return a few impulse purchases that just aren't going to work out... and maybe pick up my last gift for out of town mailing...

Cam and Betsy arrive home tonight! The holiday begins with the arrival of the first kid!


The New York Times says it so it must be true....

It may be time to think about buying a house!

This applies to all you first timers, who have never owned a home. Most likely you are young, working people, with a steady income. Wouldn't you like to get a big fat tax write-off, and have your own little kingdom where you can decorate to your heart's content, have your own little garden, and new neighbors?

Get out your calculator and determine what 28% of your gross income is... divide it by 12 and that's what your monthly housing allowance should be. This has to cover the loan principal and interest, plus property tax and homeowners insurance. Just to give you an idea of what your payments might be, at 4.5%, your payment on a $100,000 loan would be just over $500. ($506) So if you have 3-20% down, do the math! What are you paying in rent?

You can probably afford a house! If you need to clean up your credit, get on it because there's no time like the present to invest in your first home!

Click on the link above and enjoy the entire article!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The end of falling home prices is in sight

Jerry Johnson is our favorite economist - and we look forward to his reports each year. Here's what he predicts for Portland.

A prominent Portland housing consultant predicts that Portland-area home prices may bottom out next fall, then fall closer in line with historical growth patterns.

Jerry Johnson of Johnson Gardner forecasts that the typical home price will fall to $261,000 in September 2009, a 12 percent drop from the housing boom's peak of July 2007, according to his analysis of data from the Standard & Poor's Case-Shiller index.

Going forward, Johnson -- who gave his annual forecast at a homebuilders meeting Wednesday -- expects the region will return to the 6 percent annual growth rate that simmered between 1987 and 2003. At that rate, Portland would not surpass the boom's price peak until early 2012.

Portland's housing market has held up better than the once fast-growing Sun Belt cities and the economically troubled Rust Belt. But the region is still working its way through the worst housing collapse in a generation.

Buyers steer clear, and people who must sell face a glut of competition. On average, people who bought a home after March 2006 have lost value.

Like most of the country, Portlanders saw home prices rocket up between 2004 and 2007, fueled by a boom in new buyers and speculators enticed by loosened lending standards. Portland didn't see the exploding prices reported in Los Angeles and Miami. But even Portland prices rose higher than incomes could support.
Now, the country and Portland suffer a housing hangover.

The Case-Shiller index shows Portland had double-digit percentage growth every month between September 2004 and December 2006.

In that period, the index showed home prices rose 36 percent from $211,000 to $287,000. The biggest gains hit 23 percent in February and March 2006, according to Johnson's figures.

Prices hit their apex in July 2007 at $297,000. Based on Johnson's analysis, home prices soared $66,000 above historical trends for that month.

By September, prices were still $28,000 above the typical growth pattern.

Johnson predicts prices will continue to decline as the credit markets remain stuck and the Portland market stares at a historic glut of homes for sale. But those trends could shift in another year. People continue to move to the region and help drive demand for that extra supply. And homebuilders have basically stopped building until demand catches up with supply.

If prices reattach to those historical trends, the typical Portland-area home will surpass the July 2007 price peak again in January 2012.

Johnson's forecast and the Case-Shiller index provide an overview of single-family home prices in the Portland region covering Clackamas, Columbia, Multnomah, Washington and Yamhill counties in Oregon and Clark and Skamania counties in Washington.

Home prices vary by neighborhood, and the recovery in value is likely to be uneven. Generally, Clark County and east Clackamas County continue to suffer the worst of the housing collapse. Neighborhoods closer to downtown have held their value the best.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

My boyfriend

Click the title to see my boyfriend.

Son of the nicest people ever! You should see my new Juicy Couture perfume set!

Ho Ho Gifts

I can't get over how many stories I've heard lately from friends and clients whose families are struggling with lost jobs, hard times, and money problems. It really makes you think about holiday gifting, and makes lavish displays seem more unnecessary than usual.

Far be it from me to trash extravagance, as my idea of Christmas is more more more. My family always had big Christmas celebrations and I've always done the same. There's something about childhood and Christmas and having my folks be gone, and no snow, and the music...I get all nostalgic and go shopping.

This year I'm seriously going to switch gears.

We were talking in the office about gifts for special clients, and how in one of the most devastating years in a long time, my Realtor friend will still be giving gifts from Tiffany's. It's his way of saying that I'm still thriving and you can count on me. (And if you're reading this, Poopsie, I love your idea and it's really you!)

But now that I've spent time working on ideas, I think I'll take the opposite approach, and bake or give something home made. (even though I'm also still thriving and can be counted upon, LOL) I love something clever that someone took the time to actually make for me, and my gift will hopefully convey that it was made with love. There are no spoilers here - but if you're on my list, your gift won't arrive in a turquoise box.

Speaking of good, frugal ideas, this is a party waiting to happen... I got the idea from one of my favorite blogs/radio shows. I hope you like it!

Ho-Ho gifts that come with rules.

Rule One: You have one ho-ho gift wrapped for everyone you will share the holiday with (if it's a crowd, then you just bring whatever you can). The idea is that there will be several gifts for each person.

Rule Two: No money can be spent. Ho-ho gifts have to be things you want to get rid of. We are talking about anything - the uglier, more bizarre, more mundane the better.

Rule Three: All the gifts are piled together and then passed out one by one around the room from right to left as the group chants, "Ho, Ho, Ho; Ho, Ho, Ho," etc. Once everyone has a gift in their hands, they tear into it.

Rule Four: Now the real fun starts. Everyone has opened their gifts. Then they have a minute or two to decide to keep that gift or try to trade it for another person's ho-ho. Cajoling and begging are encouraged.

Then you pass the next round of Ho-Ho's. It's something to consider.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Here's a little card I received from several different friends .... and I should pass it on to you!

The turkey is in the oven, and I'm resting for a bit before I tackle all the rest...feet up, hot coffee and pumpkin bread at my side, all the kids home and safe, three dogs in the house, but nobody else is awake. Ahhh.

I am truly thankful for everything I have, including my friends. Have a wonderful day.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tag, I'm it!

I've been tagged by Blackbird

* Go to your Sixth Picture Folder then pick your Sixth Picture.
* Pray that you remember the details.
* Tag 5 others.

Jill and Kim - my favorite sisters! I love them a LOT!

Here they are in the kitchen on the evening of a little cocktail gathering last summer when my brothers came for a visit.

And as an added bonus, you get to see my ugly oak kitchen cabinets! WOO HOO!

And I'm now going to tag the following... you are it!


and just a reminder to go on over and register for a freebie giveaway on Preppy Princess

Here's what I'm thinking about....

Good news for home buyers

As of today, the Federal Government is finally taking steps to shore up the mortgage industry, and indirectly the housing market. (See Below)

With 30 year conventional rates at 5.25% today, it is a great time to buy.


“The Federal Reserve Board’s announcement that it will purchase debt of the Federal Home Loan Banks, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as well as the mortgage-backed securities (MBS) issued by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Ginnie Mae is a very positive step. This $600 billion program should be a major boost to the mortgage and housing markets. By providing more liquidity to the market FHFA expects these actions to help reduce the large interest rate spreads between mortgages and Treasuries, resulting in lower mortgage rates over time, assisting homeowners and home purchasers.”

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Last Home Game

Yesterday we went to Eugene to the last home Ducks game.

First stop: tailgate party. Grilled sausages, fried chicken, chips and dip, and beer.

They honored all the Seniors. Here's Max.

The Oregon Marching Band

The view from our seats. We love our midfield location, our neighbors, and the ease of getting in and out - two rows from the top, two seats from the aisle, and a quick hop to the concession stands and bathrooms.

Our seatmate's baby Addie. Her first Ducks game!

After almost blowing it in the second half, we won by 10 points. The fans party on the field while the band plays on.

After the game, at least 20,000 of the 65,000 fans trek back to campus.

It's a gorgeous walk, over a small bridge, through the woods, lit only by occasional streetlamps, the mist rising. Seriously! It's lovely. Finally, cross the big bridge across the Willamette river, rushing over the rocks, and at last, a short walk to our car, in Whit's super-secret parking spot, and off we go.