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Two of my favorite words: Christmas and Dessert December 16, 2010

Filed under: christmas — ravennagirls @ 12:46 am
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Its an annual tradition at our church and for our friends…  2009 here…

And hands down what makes my holiday.

This year we had the extra special privilege of going on a Wednesday night, when our church’s senior girls choir performs.  Several of my small group girls are in Bel Canto, and they were SO excited we were coming to see them at their first Bel Canto Christmas dessert performance!

B and I both decorated tables this year.  I took a few pictures, but I would like to make a public shout out to our friend Jo who did a great job photo-documenting this for us.  Sometimes its just hard to talk to all the different friends we have invited, introduce people, see all the other tables, make sure all our candles are lit, AND take pictures of our tables.  So thank you : )

B’s table was a mixture of crisp greens, metallic neutrals, with a vintage tin container full of home grown paperwhites as the centerpiece. Around the flowers were laser cut felt placemats, christmas jars (inspired by Tortoise and the Hare), filled with sugar “snow” and glittered creatures, along with recycled glass votives, and glittered fluted pillars. Simple and clean, but still with the element of nature and whimsy.


B's table from above


Winter Creature Vignettes

Sparkly candle pillars


D’s table was inspired by some Scandinavian collector plates we found at an estate sale in the summer.  Each was different, but all were white and shades of dark blues.    Some had snowy scenes on them and others had images of biblical characters in the Christmas story.  Another woman came up to me at the dessert and asked me where I had ever found them… she has them too, but told me they were all limited edition in the 70s when she got them…  Her and I then bonded over Scandinavian dishware.  🙂

place setting....

The tablecloth was navy, but then I put hand cut snowflakes all over the top in white.  Just plain paper, three different shapes and many sizes.  In the center ran an old Ikea runner, white with red snowflakes.  I used my white candelabra B got me for my birthday a few years ago and loaded it with red candles.  I also made a pedestal/stand out of platter and a candlestick from the Goodwill that I then glittered.  On the pedestal was a glass bowl of ornaments with a branch stuck in it.  The branch featured a few vintage blue and red ornaments on it (a few were my grandma’s and the rest we have found to match..) . 

from above


my tabletop tree

warm candle glow

I then used some candleholders we already had for large and small light throughout.  It is amazing how darling a small candle in a jar can be!  That mixed with my fav Dept 56 birch trees, a few ornaments around from target, and two new additions to my Christmas collection 2010.  Winter birds!  I got a larger one over the summer (he and I may have similar hats…) and B got me a little one for advent at World Market.

sparkly reindeer and winter birds!

Wintery sparkly snowy wonderland!

Thanks all who attended, we certainly love it!

Now off to scheme for 2011!!



sometimes you go the wrong way and you end up in the right place… November 20, 2010

Filed under: adventures — ravennagirls @ 10:41 pm
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it happened to me recently.

A few weekends ago I took the junior highers on fall retreat.  It was the same location as last year… only sunny this time.

In fact, I had no idea that this mountain was right outside the big lodge windows!!

Pretty spectaular….

I love retreating, can I just say that?  It’s just so …. relaxing yet exhausting, goofy yet powerful, intense yet crazy… Its everything really.   It makes me thankful I have such great 8th graders, even though they woke me up in the middle of the night, even though they took pictures using a flash the entire way up the dark mountain, even though they brought makeup this year and talked about boys, even though they really want me to do everything they are doing every second of the day…

sitting by the fire

They are just seriously the coolest kids I know.

So cool in fact that we went on a little hike.  It was advertised to us by the lodge manager as a mild walk — level and very short.  Some of my girls came, and so did some other jr highers and a few other leaders.  But I drove the van that left the parking lot first and I had the map.

Now before I begin, when I say “map” I really mean a 4″ x 5″ paper with one dark squiggly road on it and a few labels along said road.    I am told, oh, you can’t miss it, it’s around a bend and there is a ranger station.  It’s supposedly called Artists’ Point.

I pull out of the lot, and begin going further up the mountain – winding winding around the curves.  Really spectacular  views … yes, but I was told this place was not far… so where is it?  (and for those of you that don’t know — unlimited hot chocolate at the lodge + switch back roads + the 12 passenger van + kids + too many minutes = a nervous leader who did not bring Dramamine on this adventure.)

Luckily, just as I am about to be seriously worried… we pop out from the road into a parking lot.

No signs to be seen about what the trails were called, but there were tons of people there.  Not a spot in the parking lot.  

We all eagerly jump out kids start running around.  We find the trail head, and with other people all around start walking.  There were big  rocks the kids loved climbing, small areas of snow for a few snowballs, big puddles from melting ices to splash in. 

We keep going on this trail and pretty soon it starts to get steeper, and steeper.  The kids evidently slept way better than I thought last night, because they have energy to burn and still racing ahead.

And before we know it, we are all hiking up the switchbacks up this mountain.  Now, before you think I am whining… This was some serious steep-ness.  Most of the path became small rocks, which started falling as people were walking on them.   This cannot be right, I think.  This is not a short stroll through the woods.  This is like mountain climbing.   {kids beat leaders hands down though, for what it is worth…}

But finally, after what feels like forever… I realize we have not gone the wrong way.  Maybe different from what we set out to do, but certainly not wrong.  We have reached the top and you pop out right next to Mount Baker and all this beauty all around. 

mt baker!

It certainly was the right place to see all that splendor.


…and when we returned we played a very excellent game of  Ticket to Ride, our now yearly tradition….

…with more hot chocolate, but of course.

I hope every weekend is full of fun, laughter, games, deliciousness, and taking wrong turns to end up in exactly the right place.


prayers July 29, 2010

Filed under: friends and family — ravennagirls @ 10:27 am
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Sometimes life is just plain crazy.

And lately not in a good way.

Our friends Heather and Alex have a little baby girl named Madeleine.  She is just 9 months old.  {we posted about her birth HERE and a present B gave her HERE and Heather’s baby shower HERE…}

And over the weekend she got diagnosed with cancer.  Totally not expected, one of those one day fine the next day there-is-something-wrong type situations.

We ask you, whomever you are out there that reads this, for your prayers for this family.   Prayer for a tumor that shrinks quickly and responds to her chemo, that the nerve damage to her lower body will be undone, for easy nights of sleep so this whole family can get some rest, knowledgable doctors….

I wasn’t going to write this post, but frankly, I believe that prayer is really well…powerful.

Plus Madeleine was like extra smiley yesterday morning as we visited with her through breakfast and it was fun to take pictures of her : ) ….


hey! what are you doing taking pictures of me eating my breakfast? I’m not going to smile at you with that black thing over your face, D….

hey doctor, this is really interesting and all, but when are you going to stop talking so that I can get back to my fan club that is sitting here waiting to make funny faces at me?

ooo, clapping!

And Madeleine’s favorite part of all… the Navy let her Uncle Erik come home for a few days to see her in the hospital.  YAY!  Ok let’s get a picture…

M: oh hey Uncle Erik!

B : Madeleine, over here! 

M: why would I look over there?  I like petting my Uncle Erik’s hair!

M: Why are you shaking my toy over there?  Oh, yeah, I know I’m the cutest, but thanks for telling me!

M: Uncle Erik –lets forget this picture taking business and play this new game called who-can-stick-out-their-tongue-farthest!

M: That’s it! Off with your tongue!

{hugs to m’s amazing parents and kisses to baby!}

[to read more about m’s story… you can follow her mom’s blog here.]


retreat March 16, 2010

Filed under: adventures — ravennagirls @ 4:43 pm
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The weekend before last I went on a lil retreat with the Jr High youth I volunteer with. 

I admit, I went in with trepidation.  I admit, that after 9 months volunteering with the same group I am sometimes a little bit scared.   A whole weekend with Jr High kids still looks daunting to me.  (You can read all about fall retreat here….and how great that turned out!)

The weekend was wonderful.  Completely exhausting but incredible just the same.

On Saturday morning, our group had some free time.  A bunch of my girls and a few of the 8th grade girls came up to me begging to head out on a nature walk adventure. 

I am always up for a good adventure, they know it.  Plus it was sunny and crispy up there in the forest shadowed by Mt Rainier.

I was told there were many trails around the main lodge we were in and not to worry.  We took off walking around the outskirts looking for the sign of a well-maintained trail to lead us. 

We never did find one, but we did  find the next best thing:  a river.

Now, I am not about to get lost in the woods with a bunch of 13 yos.  That would be seriously bad.  I may do crazy things {like bribing buying my kids girl scout cookies so that we can eat them while having small group before bed}….but i do actually try to be responsible most of the time.

So I decide lets just follow the river, you know all over the river and through the woods style.

We start on the banks, looking at every piece of moss around, hiking further and further into the beautiful trees with the sun shining through the branches. 

After a few minutes we discover a GIANT log bridging over the water.  The girls are adventurous too, and well, they started tightrope style walking over it. 

We jump down, all alone in the big forest and hop into the water.

My girls had never been rock hopping before, you see.

And well.  I love hopping through rivers. 

Off we went, me snapping pictures of them every step, they falling ever-so- gracifully into the water at every step. 

Down the river they splashed and fell in many times.  Most of them were soaked in the cold water but laughing through every minute.  We discovered caves, mini waterfalls, rocks, laughter …and what a gorgeous setting that He created for us to play in. 

And, the best part of the whole trip came as we were hiking back to camp, most of them wet and muddy  {i was wet and muddy too, just had lacked falling into the river dozens of times}  …

and they thank me

for driving them, taking them for a hike, not getting them lost, taking photos of them splashing about, trying to answer all their questions about faith, teaching them how to use my camera that I am usually extremely protective over.

they thank me

not just for being the driver of the 12 passenger van, not just for holding all their stuff on our hike, not just for bringing the “bestest” board games, not just for always dancing with sillyness when we sing a certain song during worship, not just for always telling them what time it is and making sure we never miss lunch,

But for being their leader, friend, confidant.

They seriously thank me.

Seriously I should be thanking them.  They have no idea how much of a difference they have made in my life.


{and if you need more evidence of this fact, God gave me girls who ask me to wake up even earlier than our seven am weekend alarm.  Why you wonder?  To play a new board game I brought to teach them, of course!  Seriously, how perfect are they?}


a christmas in two places December 31, 2009

Filed under: christmas,friends and family — ravennagirls @ 12:56 pm
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my (d’s) christmas was spent partly in seattle and partly with my family in new jersey.

it was double the fun that way!

The weekend before Christmas was spent in Seattle, being cozy at home by Matilda and exchanging gifts with friends.   The girls all went out for our annual dinner to exchange and celebrate.  {i was so excited about giving my presents i could barely sleep the night before!}  We had much to be thankful for, much to celebrate!  You will all see this coming year how big 2010 will be for friends of ours!

{I have planned some posts for the new year that include some crafty how-tos for some of the things I made for family and friends.   It has been so hard to wait to share them, but I didn’t want to ruin any surprises!}

B and I also saw the Christmas Ships near our house.   We stood on the banks of the lake where luminairies glowed, and listened to the Northwest Girls choir sing while riding upon ships adored with lights.  It was like magic.

I then carefully packed my remaining gifts into my luggage and boarded a plane. {and all of them arrived still looking darling this year!}

I spent a week in NJ visiting with family and friends, having a white Christmas, seeing West Side Story in the City, baking some Molly chocolate chip cookies, playing board games I received.  It was quite delightful, yet busy.  {and i ate my weight in stuffed shells and sauce and rice balls and cheese, yumyum!}

My family now opens presents on Christmas Eve {i just know that Santa delivers to our house early as continued thanks for all those great cookies we fed him all those years…} 

and as usual, i got some very thoughtful, neat-o, spledid things.  {you might even see pictures, if i ever unpack} ….But, much like my Seattle Christmas, I simply love giving gifts.

I love how excited i feel, when I know what’s in that box, when I imagine what the recipient will do when they finally lay eyes upon it.

Because Christmas is all about reminding us, all of us, how great gifts are.  How one day, a long time ago, we all received a gift of far greater magnitude then we can even realize.  Because of that gift of love, we are called to GIVE to others.  Not just on Christmas, but though gifts all year long.

we wish you a very happy, content,  peaceful, cheery, fulfilling new year.


the beginning of the christmas season December 3, 2009

Filed under: christmas — ravennagirls @ 11:47 pm
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…it starts really with the trek to the forest to discover our tree.  I will tell you about that later, though. 

Really, the beginning of the Christmas season for me inside is at the Christmas Dessert.

It’s where volunteers decorate tables for the season, invite some women friends to come, and enjoy a evening program – filled with songs and stories and the meaning of Christmas –  to go with your dessert.

B and I… well, it’s not a secret that we are decorating nerds.  We have so much Christmas decor it doesn’t all get used in one year.  Which really is why the dessert is perfect for us.  We each order a table.   That’s right, I said each.  I mean, when you have that much great material to work with….

We still love to make a few new things for our tables… Nothing like a few new things for the holidays!

So without further ado…

B’s table is what I am going to call “The Rustic, Glittery Woodland.”

Thats right, someone loves the new Martha glitter line AND the beauty of wood.

B created a river RIGHT down her table.  On sides of the banks were found rocks from Washington beaches, pieces of our past Christmas trees as stumps/logs, and beautiful creatures.  The animals were from a variety of locations, all ornaments, and made from natural materials.  Some of the small owls had little cut wood parts making feathers. 

Her forest was complete with the addition of her trees.  They were a Martha craft project last year.   Using different sized circles, you fold the paper to look like darling evergreen.  A little glitter on the edges and a champagne cork as a trunk complete the crafty trees. 

B also lit her table with bronze and white tapers.  The tapers stood in candlestick holders she bought at a thrift store this summer.  She didn’t just leave them brown though… She painted them green and then… POOF! Glitter-ified them in peridot.

I love them.  They are going to look so good on our mantle!


My, D’s, table was “Snowy Village in the Mountain with Sparkle.”  You must have sparkle,after all. 

The base of my mountain had large presents with handmade bows (a litle diy in the future for you!)

The central, eye level area was the village part.  I got all these crazy houses for a buck or two at various Goodwills.  then i spray painted like crazy and white glitterd the snowy roofs.  I love my new village more then anyone I have seen in a store so far… and for QUITE a lower price point as well!  (the houses only cost me 20 bucks and a little time..)

(in fact — here is a BEFORE pic!)

The tippy tippy top was a combo of my new advent wreath i just bought myself from Rare Device (SWOOOON!), the Baby Jesus/Mary/Joseph from my Nativity set that my parenst got me for my last birthday,  and this little glass ornament I have.  The ornament was the inspiration for the whole table.  It is a church, covered in glittery wonder.

But really, although our tables were great and I got to use my 12 days of Christmas plates again AND we got to have four {small} desserts…

It is really about the great company of friends and the celebration of a birth that truly is the greatest gift that any of us will ever receive.

{and that night, as i slept, visions of my Chrismas Dessert table 2010 danced in my head}

{ps, thanks to Jo, who took more pictures then me – gasp – and nicely allowed me to borrow a few so you could see all the details.  her blog has even more pictures.}


it was a long weekend, so it’s a long post… October 23, 2009

Filed under: adventures — ravennagirls @ 12:28 pm


Its the perfect mix of sleepy and crispy, beautiful and foggy, relaxing and busy. 

Kind of like my weekend.

b-fall retreat 006 editLast weekend, I (d) had the honor of going on a little trip.    Where and with whom?  A little backstory…  Since June, I have been a volunteer youth leader for junior high students at a local church.  I have had so much fun!  {actually, yes}  In my small group are  8 girls that are in the 7th grade this year.   So, when a fall retreat was planned for the 7th and 8th graders I was asked to come along and lead. 

Now, at first, the thought of {50} 12-14 year olds and I (along with some other leaders of course!) going on vacation seemed a little lot scary to me.  Do I like kids, especially these girls?  Yep.  But a whole weekend? 

Yeah, I thought I was nuts too.  I mean, I remember what it was like to be a 13 year old girl.  And sleeping in bunk beds with 8 of your closest friends?  Sounds like a party!

Yet, after thinking about it, being so nicely hounded by my girls {PUH-lease, we can have pillow fights in our room!}, and learning that my co-small group leader could also attend… I signed up.

I’m not going to lie, I was nervous.  And then, after we all left the church on Friday in our vans headed north… I thought– there is no turning back now!  Let the fun begin!  {I will admit, I thought about turning back when I heard one of the girls in the back of the van I’m driving exclaim “are we there yet??” after we had driven 10 miles on the freeway. I seriously thought about reversing.}

b-fall retreat 145 edit

The destination was a lodge up in the Mt Baker National Forest, a good 2.5 hr drive north.  It was the perfect set up for this type of weekend.    … First floor covered in tabletop games.. .. Second floor with a huge dining area and a room full of couches with a fireplace and windows looking out to the mountain….Third floor was girly rooms…and the fourth was boys only.

We got there on Friday night very excited.  {Might have had something to do with the fact that I secretly stopped for Dairy Queen with my van-full and won enormous praise after that.  eh, so I bribed some 13yos with ice cream. }  None of the kids were tired, {this was typical all weekend actually} but I was ready for bed at 9 pm.  ha.  There was coffee though, and we all sat around the fire chatting for a bit about what the plan was for the weekend and having some worship time. 

 b-fall retreat 113

The next day, Saturday, really truly was perfect.

Thinking back, I’m not sure how we even had enough time for it all… It seems like I could write 10 blog posts!

After breakfast, I started teaching some of the girls to play Ticket To Ride, one of my favorite board games.   At the close of the two hour game, one of the girls bursts that this is her favorite board game of all time.  My heart skips a beat; I am so proud!   Seriously, how’d I get the cool girls?

b-fall retreat 010

We had some worship time and a little group talk about prayer where the kids were asked to do a little exercise associated with the talk.  We all went back to our rooms to discuss it in small groups.   While the girls are typically great talkers on Sundays, I must admit we rarely stay on any sort of topic.  I often leave wondering how much they really understood or what was not said.  But today seemed different.  Most of them had something really great to share.  They were excited to share with the group what they have been praying for and really thinking about what God has been saying to them. My kudos went out to the girls that were not sure what God was saying.  Gosh, they were so brave, I thought, asking for such clarity and help.  They wanted to know about me, my experiences and I opened up to them.  I think it’s important sometimes to know that simply because I am an adult (?), it does not mean I don’t struggle with things or sometimes doubt. 

A lot of doubt runs through my mind each day, a lot of guilt, sadness sometimes, worry.  Sometimes I have trouble praying and struggle with my faith too.  And I explained that to them, honestly.   To me, faith is not just about saying you believe and that’s it.  It is a constant work in progress.    And sometimes it is hard. 

b-fall retreat 029 edit

I think a lot of the girls took something out of what I said to them.  It has different meaning for each of them and each one of them has a diferent situation in life.  I truly am honored that many have even opened up to me and their peers about themselves/things going on with them.

In fact, after this little group time, two of the girls said, hey can we talk, just the three of us?  They wanted to talk to me about their “stuff” and their friendship and just it all.  They totally trust me, which is pretty great, I have to say.  I had so much to say after I listened to them.  I felt like–hey, this type of stuff is why I am here right now.   Board games are pretty great.  But — having a kid tell you all this stuff and you feel like you helped a smidge is pretty darn awesome.

b-fall retreat 025 edit

Also awesome was a little afternoon hike in the rain that some of us took.  It was pretty crazy raining out there, and most of the kids wanted to stay inside, near the warm fire.  But, one of my girls wanted to go, and so did I, and there it was, a perfect time for us to connect.  Plus, it was so gorgeous around us, even in the rain, that I wanted to get out and walk a bit.  So off the group goes, into the forest, surrounded by mountains and fog, where we followed a wild river.   My shoes got all muddy, my face was chapped from the wind. 

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But then, After a few bends in the path we saw it.  We turned the corner of the mountain…


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and there was a beautiful glacier. Solid ice, and we took off skating.

 b-fall retreat 061 edit

It was kind of like the weekend.  I wasn’t sure about volunteering because I wasn’t sure I was good enough for it.  I made excuses and doubted.  But I turned the first bend.  It was hard.  Every step got easier though, somehow.  I realized this was just as much about me getting to know these girls as it was about me reconnecting with my faith.  Something about that weekend made me turn around that bend, see how beautiful it is and really believe that I am supposed to be right in this exact place. 

For knowing that I am truly grateful.  And for getting the opportunity to retreat away, hang out with some amazing people, and connect with God so easily through worship and prayer.  Those two things have been a struggle lately and this weekend they come so naturally and so much deeper then they have in a while. 

b-fall retreat 148 edit