Saturday, November 12, 2011

Back At It Once Again....

Well, after a hiatus from my blogging, I feel like getting back into it.  Since my last post, my summer has literally zipped right by.  I find it so hard to believe that we've already seen the 4th of July, Labor Day and Halloween pass by.  We're now looking forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Last week as I walked into Walmart to pick up a few things, I began to hum along to the music that was playing overhead.  It only took me a few minutes to realize that the tune I was humming was "Jingle Bells!"  Really?  How is it that the Thanksgiving holiday is always skipped right over and we jump to the Christmas season--and this is all before Halloween! 
The month of November is the month for people to really look at what they have to be thankful for.  I've noticed on Face Book, a few people will write about what they are thankful for, on a daily basis.  Each day they stop and think about what they have, or whom they know, or what's going on in their lives and actually state those thoughts for the world to see.  No matter how minuscule or possibly silly it would seem to you and I, they truly are thankful for them.  Do you do that too?  I'm guilty myself for not doing so.  Don't get me wrong, I am grateful for everything about my life.  I'm just terrible at making myself stop my busy daily routine to think about it and appreciate everything about my life. 
I've been quite busy with my business, Tastefully Simple.  Especially the last few weeks.  This is a great time to host parties, as people like to be stocked up on snacks and such for the holiday get-togethers with friends and family.  So my schedule has kept me on the move.  I have recently done a couple of craft fairs as well.  Tastefully Simple has a wide selection of gift collections also and my customers are taking advantage of that. 
I know that I have two more parties before Christmas and then my party schedule slows way down as people are trying to relax and recuperate from the hustle and bustle of the season.

At the end of July, myself and about 25 other friends gathered in Blackhawk, Iowa for a weekend of camping and mud volleyball.  Most of us had tents and we were set up in the yard of my friends' Mom, Mickie.  She has a lot of yard and we took up most of it with our tents.  It was a blast!  The heat was relentless but the evening cooled down and all had a great time. 

Our mini tent city.  Mine is on the left, the beige top and green bottom. 

Our team....I'm in the front, center. 

Throughout the course of the summer months, as you all heard on the news, the Omaha/Council Bluffs area was dealing with Mother Nature and the wrath of the flooding that hampered our area for the better part of 4 months.  I-29 was literally under water and had to be shutdown.  I-680 that is part of the metro on the north side was also shutdown due to water.  Homes and businesses near the airport (Eppley Airfield) where I work, were also under water.  The airport took extra precautions early on and put sand bags all around the terminal and other structures that are an integral part of aviation.  This was done in anticipation of the levees (that surround the airfield) breaking and the Mighty Missouri making it's way onto the airport property. 

The sandbags around our bag room.
We survived without any water getting onto the airfield.  The airport authority employees were to thank for that.  They kept a twenty-four vigil on the levees and made repairs to sink holes or weak area on the levee walls whenever necessary.  We heard many comments from pilots and passengers both regarding what they saw from the air upon arrival into Omaha.  The water literally surrounded the airport.  The end of our runways are just to the inside of the levees and the planes flew directly over the Missouri and the flooded areas. 
Once the water subsided and the sand bags were removed, we still found ourselves walking the same paths that we had to with the sand bags in place.  They had been there for so long, it became habit to go around them, even when they were gone!  We're so glad it's behind us.  The interstates are now repaired and open and things seem to be getting back to normal. 

I hope you continue to tune in and I'll try to keep this updated.  Luv ya!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Flower Power

My flowers have once again gone beyond my expectations when it comes to their growth.  The only thing different this year is what types I planted.  I pretty much stuck with Moss Roses, Marigolds and Snapdragons in the front yard.  Even though a few of the plants have died off during the course of the summer heat, the majority have survived and flourished.  In the back on the deck I once again went with Pansies.  They like partial sun and it's the perfect place for them to show off their petite petals.  I also have a mixed basket containing flowers of which I don't know what they are.  But it was so pretty that I had to buy it!  

More pansies and the mixed basket

Moss Roses in my front yard

Moss Roses, Marigolds and Snapdragons. 

This was a new plant I found and I don't remember what they're called. 

This is the other half of the above photo that I separated into a second basket. 

Gorgeous large blooms!

I just love having all the color mixed in with all the landscape plants.  It's definitely eye-catching to see the vivid shades of all the blooms. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Blackhawk Days

The annual event, Black Hawk Days, in Lakeview, IA, is always a blast.  This year was no exception.  I never got an actual head count on how many people were all staying in the yard of Steve's Mom, Mickie.  But I'm sure the number was somewhere in the upper 20's.  Plus there were some staying in her house as well.  So roughly 30-40 people were all camping/partying/eating all in her yard!  Along with the human population that took over her house, there were 6 dogs and 2 cats staying inside as well!  Crazy!!!
Mickie has a gorgeous, spacious yard that she and her sons continue to work on each summer.  There is a dock all set up for the paddle boat, an area for dogs to walk down into the water with ease from the otherwise steep banks, a ladder for swimmers to use to climb out of the water, an enclosed hot tub, a huge all-season porch, an area with the fire pit and benches and beautiful landscape work all around the yard. 
All of my friends were there with me:  Steve, Tammy and two of their kids, Dee, Chris and baby Ian, Trisa, Jamie and Gavin, Tina, Teresa, Lisa, Scott and their 3 kids, Tracey and Garry, Jenine, Mike and their two boys, and other people that I didn't know well but had met before.  
 It was actually a pretty smooth event.  The sharing of the two bathrooms wasn't usually an issue either!  We all had a great time just playing games, swimming, grilling, drinking adult beverages and overall enjoying each other's company.  The weather was very hot and humid.  It cooled down at night with a nice breeze that made sleeping in our tents comfortable.  The first night we were there, a thunderstorm rolled through. wouldn't be our normal "Blackhawk Days weekend" if this didn't happen!  We woke in the middle of the night and went into the garage to wait it out.  Everything survived the wind and rain and back to bed we went. 
In the back corner of Mickie's yard is a nice quaint area with a fire pit and benches to sit on to enjoy the fire itself.  The adults stayed up quite late each night laughing and drinking.  The second night we actually played a game.  I believe it was about 3 AM when we all retired to our tents! 
Prior to the big weekend, we organized what our meals would be.  Each family brought his/her own meat for grilling, a large side dish to share for each meal, their own beverages, snacks, buns/plates/toilet paper, lawn chairs, shower supplies, etc., to use.  It was perfect.  All the coolers that everyone brought were lined up in the garage to keep the hot sun from aiding in the melt down of the ice inside them. 
 The main event for our group was the Mud Volleyball tournament that was held on Sunday morning.  Teams consisting of a minimum of 10 players were entered in the single elimination contest.  Matches of 3 games were played.  We only played our first 3 (losing 2 out of 3) games and were done but it's always fun to get down and dirty.  The way we rinsed off was to walk over to the nearby Black Hawk Lake and get in the water.  It was the best way of getting the mud off of our clothes and out of our shoes.  Showers were taken later on back at Mickie's house.  The massive amount of people in attendance was unbelievable.  It grows more each year. 

Enjoying the shade.

Cooling down.

Tent tent is on the left with the green bottom.  I believe there were 9 tents in all once everyone had arrived. 

Enjoying the paddle boat and a blow up floaty.

A nice shady place to hang out in the back yard.

Mike, Tracey, Chris, Steve and Scott....just trying to stay cool in the heat of the day.

The girls favorite place to hang out.  The bottom of each seat has mesh and allows for the water to keep you cool.

Ian and Mom Dee.  He's so cute!!!

Madison, Me and Sadie, the Chocolate Lab.

Our mud volleyball team enjoying a beer after the mud volleyball games were done.

Doesn't it look fun?  It was a blast!  I'm in the front row, middle spot.
I don't go to BlackHawk days every year but when I do it's always a blast!  Thanks to Mickie for allowing all of us to invade your space!  You're the best!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Tanya's 21st Birthday!

My friend Tammy's oldest daughter, Tanya, turned 21 this past weekend!  It's so hard to believe!  I've known her since she was a young girl.  It's scary how the years have sped by.  Her actual birthday was spent with a group of roughly 20 friends in Lincoln, NE, where she lives and attends college.  They all took her around town where she had 21 shots of liqueur throughout the night!  She did it the smart way though.  She drank lots of water in between the shots.  Each one was a different flavor and they documented each one with pictures!  Her birthday gift from her best friend was a small home made picture book and in it was the description of where they went and what she drank, in numerical order!  Apparently it was very fun and she remembers all of it! 
So this week, her Mom Tammy and the rest of her family decided to have their relatives and friends over to celebrate with her as well.  Tanya made the drive from Lincoln to allow for all of us to see her.  Of course, more alcohol was consumed...I know, shocking. 

Tammy and Tanya

Celebrating together!
Happy 21st birthday Tanya!  Thanks for sharing some time with us!!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Studer Birthday Boys

My friend Lisa and her spouse Scott have three children, two of whom have birthdays over the fourth of July weekend.  Logan, the oldest at 7, celebrates his day on the fourth and Kaden, the youngest at 3, was born on the sixth.  And each year there is a party for both of them coinciding with a party for the fourth itself, at Scott and Lisa's house. 

Kaden and his "class clown" smile!  He's a funny kid!

Kaden on the bottom of the slide and Logan, third from the bottom.  Their sister Madison between them. 

Well this year they still had the big birthday party but decided not to do a big bang party to celebrate the fourth, due to cost and lack of funds to support such an event.  However, all of our closest friends still gathered for the birthdays and cake.  We also each brought a side dish to eat along with the hot dogs and burgers that Scott grilled.  I had made a dip consisting of Mexican Velveeta Cheese melted down and stirred together with browned hamburger and served it with tortilla chips
It was unusually cool (the normal humidity levels was low for a brief time!) for the weekend of the fourth of July.  So we were able to be out on the deck without being in misery and watch the kids swim in the above ground pool that sits in the back yard. 
It was a short night for me as I had to work again the next morning bright and early.  But we ate heartily and had a few adult beverages as well.  It's always good to gather with my friends and even get in some girl talk. 

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Trisa's birthday

Today I joined my friends Trisa, Brenda and Tina for breakfast.  We were celebrating Trisa's birthday!  I couldn't join a bunch of other girls yesterday for breakfast as I had to work.  So a few of us took Trisa out today, on her actual birthday.  She chose Harrah's Casino buffett.  They always have so many different food bars to pick from.  It was a Sunday morning and there were hardly any people in there.  So we had a nice quiet breakfast.
The day before, four other friends had surprised Trisa. She was actually thinking that she would be babysitting for my friend Dee. So after she arrived, three other girls were already there and had the plan to go for breakfast instead! She was shocked, from what I was told.  They gave Trisa a birthday gift from each of us during that time as well.  Earlier in the year we had gone on a wine tour.  I sent one of the pictures from one of the tour stops to a local artist so she could use it as reference and draw a picture of us all together.  This is the finished picture. 

This is the picture I sent to her for her reference.  

  Breakfast at Harrah's was delicious as always.  I made many trips back to the buffett and it wasn't long before I was wishing I had stopped with the last plate full!  We made our way out to our cars and decided that we wanted to go the Nebraska Furniture Mart.  It was simply a "window shopping" spree.  No one had anything in particular to buy but it's always fun to look and wish. 
I think Trisa's weekend over all was pretty good.  She loves to have all her friends together and just have fun.  Happy birthday girlfriend!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Flood of 2011; Nebraska and Iowa

The Mighty Missouri River actually began to swell back in late May, after having record rainfall in both Nebraska and Iowa.  But going up river towards South Dakota, Gavins Point Dam near Yankton, SD, began releasing water to ease the concerns of flooding in that area, which, in true domino fashion, began the unforeseeable and what would be record-breaking flooding down the river. 
I know the flood of 2011 has been on the news non-stop, especially in Minot, ND.   But here in Omaha, the main flooding concern has been at Eppley Airfield, the airport where I have spent the last almost 16 years working.  So far the levees around the airfield have held up but not without the extraordinary efforts of the employees of the Airport Authority.  They keep a 24 hour watch on them and make repairs where needed.  It's been a battle too.  They have been re-doing drainage pipes, adding pumps to take ground water back out to the river and repairing sink holes and sand boils.  Here is a timeline of all the major occurrences since May 20th.  I feel like I work on an island.  We are literally surrounded by water.  Carter Lake, IA, sits to the west of the airport terminal and has more water in it than I've ever seen.  And the river itself curves around from the north, around the east side and then back around on the south edge of the airfield.  So many businesses have moved out as a precaution or have been forced out because of the water. 
Portions of Interstate 29 and I-680 have been closed as well because it's under water.  There are many people that work at the airport that have to take other routes which in turn creates longer drives for them to get to work.  Many live in Iowa and commute (under normal circumstances) an hour or two.  Now, those people have to allow at least another 45 minutes to be at work on time.
There have been many aerial photos taken of the Missouri and all the victims of the flood.  You can view them here.  As for my own house, I'm in no danger.  I live on the west side of Omaha, nowhere near the Missouri River.  But my heart goes out to those that live near the airport, either in Omaha or Council Bluffs, IA.  Numerous homes have been flooded and property destroyed by the water.  Council Bluffs sits directly on the east side of the river.  Many businesses and home owners have been evacuated over there as well.  The water levels aren't expected to go down anytime soon either.  Reports have stated that it may be into September before any relief is seen. 
I've seen endless photos on Face Book that have been posted from all the devastation up in Minot, ND too.  I grew up in that area and I've never seen anything like it.  I have extended family and friends as well, that have had to leave their homes because of the Souris River/Mouse River overflowing it's banks.  The national news provided coverage from that area for several days.  Amazing....
As far as my job and airline service at the airport here in Omaha goes, it's a day to day thing.  As long as the levees aren't breached, I'll be able to go to work.  If flooding occurs right at the airfield, that's another story.  Efforts would be made by us as employees to get some of our equipment to higher ground and try to salvage as much as possible before the water would reach the actual terminal where we work flights.  That is, as long as we can get to the airport or just happen to be there if it happens.  But my own vehicle is a priority as well as far as I'm concerned!  I'll be making sure I get it away from the airport so that I still have something to drive!
Cross your fingers that Mother Nature decides to have mercy and soon!  She has been quite the force to reckon with this year.  It hasn't been very pretty to this point.