Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year Reflections

I remember as though it was yesterday, sitting in Grandma Liddick's dining room on December 31, 1996, commenting to my cousin Kristen about how sad I was to say goodbye to 1996. 1996 had been a good year for me. It had been my senior year in high school, I'd had the lead in the school musical, I graduated and went off to college (which I loved). 1996 had brought me a lot of joy and I worried that 1997 would not be so kind.

I do not share those same feelings as I bid farewell to 2008. I'm relieved to finally be done with this year and hopeful that 2009 will maybe make up for the year before. You wouldn't know it by only reading our blog, but 2008 has brought us a lot of disappointment and heartache. Most of these things have been very personal and private and therefore have not been shared in this venue. Just know that it's been a tough year.

2008 has been one tough cookie. And she wouldn't go out silently; she had to have the last word. Here on the very last day of 2008, as I type this, my husband and father-in-law are out in -5 degrees (actual temperature- I just looked it up on trying to change the tire that just blew out on the truck. This is typical 2008 fashion.

Lord, have mercy on us in 2009 and give me a little dose of that joy I remember from 1996. I've had plenty of joy since '96, but that was a year that seemed to ooze with joy. I want the kind of joy that oozes.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A crazy coincidence

Mom and Dad Liddick flew home yesterday. Since the Mall of America is right across the street from the airport, we decided to head that direction a few hours early and catch a movie (Valkyrie) before dropping them off. David dropped us off at the door and left to go park. Unfortunately, 1) there were no parking spots to be had, and 2) he left his phone at home so we kind of lost track of him for a while. We tried to stay put at the door where he'd dropped us off trusting that he would eventually find his way back to us. We sent Dad up to the theater to get tickets and keep an eye out for David upstairs while Mom and I continued to wait by the entrance. We must have been waiting for at least 15 minutes before we finally saw a familiar face walk through the door. It was accompanied by another familiar face. Neither face belonged to my husband, but both faces mildly resembled him. David's parents walked in! They had been driving up to join us that evening and since they'd arrived a little early (knowing that we'd soon be leaving to take my parents to the airport) they decided to go play at the mall for a while. Of ALL the doors they could have walked through, they just happened to walk through the one we'd been waiting by because David just happened to not be able to find a spot there. We were still sitting there waiting 15 minutes after being dropped off because David just happened to not be able to find a spot until getting to the roof of the parking garage on the other side of the mall (this region of the parking garage was rightly named Alaska). David finally found his way to us not even 2 minutes after his parents walked in. It was just funny how if the slightest thing had happened differently, we may not have ever known that we were all at the same mall. Isn't it cool when God works those neat little surprises out for us?

Friday, December 26, 2008

What to do with leftover ham?

I just know that somebody is going to google search this question some day and find our blog. Oh well. If that's you, welcome.

We had several pounds of the most delicious ham leftover from yesterday's Christmas dinner. We cooked it in our George Foreman Rotisserie and let me tell you that baby knows what to do with a bone-in ham. Yum! We've fixed ham this way many times before but always threw the ham bone out afterward because we didn't seem to know what we'd do with the ham stock if we chose to make it. Last night Mom and Dad were recalling various soups that Grandma Liddick used to make with ham stock. So I called Grandma up to get some ideas.

We decided to make ham and bean soup with rivels for dinner tonight and it was INCREDIBLE!

We also made ham salad with some of our leftover ham. We all had sandwiches for lunch and they were quite possibly the best ham salad sandwiches we'd ever had. Both recipes we made today were great on their own, but I'm telling you, making them with rotisserie bone-in ham makes them unbelievable. If you decide to go out and spend your Christmas money on a rotisserie, I wouldn't blame you.

(I'm probably going to get google hits for the George Foreman rotisserie now, too.)


Well, I tried to upload a video of the opener from our Christmas eve service, but am having trouble. I may try again another time...

Mom and Dad Liddick arrived Christmas morning. We picked them up at the airport and returned to the house for a nice breakfast followed a little bit later by a showing of "White Christmas." They had a very early morning in order to fly from Rochester, NY and arrive in Minneapolis by 8:15, so we did a lot of resting and relaxing. David and I were ready for that kind of day after our Christmas eve service marathon we'd just finished. Here's Dad cuddling with Allie on the couch. Don't they look so cozy?

The afternoon was spent fixing dinner and playing Wii. Dad could spend hours and hours just playing Wii Sports.

After dinner (Rotisserie ham, sweet potato crunch, green bean casserole, homemade cressent rolls, chinese cabbage salad), several phone calls, and more Wii, we watched "Holiday Inn" while eating our apple crisp a'la'mode.

What a nice way to spend Christmas!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Random things and snow

We just got home from what felt like a pretty long day. We started at church at noon for rehearsal for our upcoming Christmas eve services. We'll do 2 services on Tuesday, 3 services in Woodbury on Wednesday, followed by 1 more at our Hudson campus in the evening. So at noon we fed our volunteers a lunch of Sloppy Joe's from the Famous Dave's cookbook and got right to work rehearsing music. David took the band in the worship center and I took the vocalists in another room. We finished with about 10 minutes to spare before it was time to shift gears and rehearse for this weekend's services. That of course lead right into our 4:30 service. After church we went out to dinner at Yang's with some fellow small groupies, Stu and Sadie. In an effort to get them to start blogging, we told them we'd blog about them:-)

After our long, slow drive home we discovered what we'd pretty much expected: a very snowy driveway. It's been snowing pretty heavily and consistently all day. Our new rule this winter is that we won't drive on the snow before first trying to clear the driveway. In the past we've been a bit lazy with this and tend to pack the snow down with our tire tracks. So when we got home, since I had my snowboots on, I walked down the edge of the driveway, grabbed the shovel, shoveled a path back down the driveway right to David's door so he could walk down the path (still in nice pants and shoes from church) back to the house. I know, I know, it sounds like I'm a pretty nice wife doing that, but trust me, David got the short end of the stick because he then had to change, put his own boots on, and snowblow the rest of the driveway. I did make him a cup of hot cocoa, though:-)

(This was the view from the garage looking down my shoveled path to David's truck still sitting in the road.)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Weekend of Entertaining: Part 3

This afternoon/evening we had our annual Worship Arts Christmas open house for all of our volunteers at the Woodbury and Hudson campuses. This was our first time doing it on a Sunday afternoon; I think in the past we've done it on a Friday night. I feel like it was easier on us with the new time, but attendance seemed to be down a little from past years. I'm not sure if that's due to the time/day change or because of the yucky weather. Either way, we had a great time visiting with those who were here. It's such a nice opportunity to get to know some of our volunteers a little better, and also meet some spouses that we'd not been able to meet before (and maybe thought were just fiction! :-) As tradition holds, we seemed to have more food leftover at the end of the night than we started with. Hopefully we can pawn some of the leftovers off on our small groupies on Tuesday night!

(The Lord multiplied our loaves and fish. These are some of our leftovers.)
We got a kick out of this. We've mentioned our name twins, Dave and Melissa Belford before. They brought us a little gift tonight, but it totally looks like we gave it to ourselves:-)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Weekend of Entertaining: Part 2

David and his friends are downstairs right now playing World of Warcraft. Bryan has been playing the longest, David joined him last Christmas, and David Shivers is the newbie. Normally they'll just play online together (from their respective homes), but tonight they decided to all huddle in David's office and play together. Isn't that cute?

Weekend of Entertaining: Part 1

This morning we hosted an adoption baby shower brunch for a couple in our small group. I think we ended up having about 30 ladies from the church in attendance. It was a great time and Bryan and Emily received a lot of cute things for their little Jonah, who will hopefully make his trip to the U.S. in the next couple of months.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Like a good neighbor...

This morning I went out to shovel the couple of inches of snow that had accumulated since last night's driveway-clearing. I got about half of it done (one side) before having to leave for an appointment. (Technically, I got half of it done before getting snowed back in by the snow plow, then re-shoveled my way out, and was late for my appointment; but who's keeping track?) Anyway, I just returned to find the other half of my driveway mysteriously shoveled! My friendly neighbor Fred took it upon himself to finish the job while I was away. What a blessing!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

More before and after pictures

It has come to my attention recently that I neglected to show before and after pictures of the rest of the house. I gave you a tour of most of the main floor, and the tour stopped there. Please accept my apology and enjoy these pictures...

The master bedroom before... (The boxes on the floor are holding the wood flooring we were about to install)

Master bedroom after
... (Can you find Allie burried in the pillows? She'd spend her whole day in that spot if we'd let her.)

(The work to get here included: 2 new ceiling fans, a new floor, spackling and sanding the walls, painting the walls, window treatments.)

Guest room #1 before...

Guest room #1 after

(The work to get here included sanding the walls, spackling and sanding again, 2 coats of primer, painting, moving and installing the ceiling fan from master bedroom, and window treatments).

Guest room #2 before...

Guest room #2 after

(The work to get here included sanding, spackling, and sanding the walls again, priming the blue wall twice, painting, and moving and installing a ceiling fan from the master bedroom).

Guest bathroom before... (sorry it's sideways!)

Guest bathroom after
... (sorry it's sideways!)

(The work to get here included removing the wood cabinet from the wall, sanding, lots of spackle, sanding again, painting, and installing mirror and new towel racks, etc.)

Living room before...

Living room after

(The work to get here only indcluded priming over the ivy, minimal spackle and sanding, and 2 coats of paint. This may have been our easiest room.)

Christmas Baking

The weekend of the 13th/14th is going to be a busy one for the Gafford House. We're hosting a baby shower brunch for our friends, Bryan and Emily on Saturday. All of our small group ladies are throwing the shower, but it will be at our house. Then, on Sunday we're hosting our annual Christmas open house for the Worship Arts participants and spouses. When all is said and done, we'll probably have had over 100 people pass through our doors that weekend. Knowing this is coming right around the corner, I'm trying to do what I can to prepare for it in advance. Yesterday, Emily came over and we baked cookies for the open house. We made a batch of spritzes and finally figured out my Pampered Chef cookie press... kind of. We also made a batch of snickerdoodles and chocolate chip cookies. I already had a batch of monster cookies in the freezer from a couple of days ago. I think I'm probably set in the cookie department. Now I just have to figure out what else I can do a week in advance...

Here's Emily working on decorating her little spritz wreaths. They turned out very cute.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

To Indiana and back

We've just returned from our trip to Indiana and back. It took us a very long 11 hours to get there and a much more reasonable 9 1/2 hours on the way back. (Don't worry, it wasn't all due to speeding.) We just decided it wasn't worth the extra hour and a half to avoid Chicago by taking a bunch of country roads, so we sailed right through the Windy City today in order to shave off some extra time. It proved to be a good decision (in spite of the probably $10 we spent on all the tolls). Allie was a trooper and with the help of half of a little pink pill, slept contently in her crate the entire trip.

We arrived Monday night after the above mentioned 11 hour drive. We hate long drives, so that was a very long day for us. But we made it:-) Tuesday we awoke and promptly got busy helping Mom Gafford in the final Thanksgiving grocery shopping and early food preparation. I proudly baked my very first (solo) pies.

The Apple Pie

The Cherry Pie

I also made a batch of my mom's cresent rolls, but forgot to take a picture of them... David made a peanut butter pie (his own creation) that tasted just like a Reece's cup. Again, no picture. Sorry.

After seeing the new Bond movie with David's parents and brother-in-law, Nate, we met David's sister Julie and kids for dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant in Marion: La Charreada. After dinner, Allie met her cousins Emily, Lauren, and Olivia. Throughout the evening with the safety of Allie staying leashed on our laps, the girls gradually worked up their courage to pet Allie. The real courage came out the next day.

Wednesday was occupied with more food preparation and the arrival of David's cousin Shawna's family. Little Lauren grew more and more brave around Allie and later declared Allie her new "best friend" because "Allie is so so cute!"

That evening we celebrated Dad Gafford's retirement from Delphi as most of the remaining family members arrived.

Thursday was a typical American Thanksgiving. Parade, eating, football, eating, etc. All the food was delicious!

On Friday we had the opportunity to meet up with David's college roommate and his wife, Steve and Lori Anthony. The four of us traveled in the University Chorale while at IWU and we haven't been able to see each other in about 2 or 3 years. We enjoyed dinner together (at La Charreada's again), drinks at Starbucks, and ended the evening at Nate and Julie's new house in Sweetser. Steve and Lori's little boy Aiden and Lauren became pretty good buddies right away. Here they are dancing to the music coming out of whatever toy was sitting at their feet.

The Gafford Family
November 2008

Friday, October 31, 2008


Like many of you, I'm sure, we've had a big problem with Box Elder bugs this fall. We vacuumed up at least 100 in the 3 seasons porch as we were preparing for our party last weekend. However, as the last couple of days have been a bit warmer and sunny, they're back. Last night David and I were sitting in the living room watching t.v. and I reached over to take a drink from the cup of water next to me. As I pulled the cup away from my mouth (after consuming some water) I saw a Box Elder bug floating in my cup. Gross! David took my cup and flushed the intruder down the toilet, but I was already so disgusted. I felt like I had pieces of Box Elder bug stuck in my throat (surely it wasn't just the popcorn I had been eating...) After that, David got a can of pop for me and I insisted in setting an upside-down cup over it between sips. That was an experience I did not want to re-live.

So, here's my question. What home remedies have you all used to battle the Box Elder Bug home invasion? I've heard of spraying soapy water, but I wasn't sure if that would leave a strange residue on our cedar siding. I was also told to spray Windex, which I did after our Box Elder clean up last Friday, but it apparently didn't work because they're back. I'd love to hear your ideas.

Monday, October 27, 2008

I've been in the kitchen putting groceries away and knew Allie had gone into the dining room. I figured she went in there to scrounge around for crumbs under the table since I haven't yet vacuumed since our party Friday night. I was partially right. I poked my head around the corner to check on her and found her on top of the table licking the table cloth. Well, that's a first. Let's hope she doesn't make a habit of it.

Update 20 minutes later: I've since put the table cloth in the washer and just caught her on top of the table again! What in the world!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

First Snow

I don't have a picture to prove it, but we had our first snow this morning. Big fluffy white flakes blew through during church this morning. But as is normally the case with the first snow, it didn't accumulate and had melted by the time we left. It's still quite cold and VERY windy!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

More grilled pizzas

If you haven't figured it out already, grilled pizzas have sort of become our trademark meal for entertaining. Last night we had the church staff and families over for what were probably our last grilled pizzas of the year. I think we probably had close to 40 adults and children here. It was a fun evening together (and also great motivation to get the basement and sun porch in working order)!

Haiti Love Bags

Every year about this time, our church comes together to make Haiti Love Bags for children in an orphanage in Haiti. The bags are delivered to the children in January, I think. Our small group took on the task of filling 12 bags this year. This past week we skipped the study in order to go shopping for our bag ingredients. We split into four teams, each shopping for a different category (hygiene, school supplies, candy, toys, clothing, etc.). Then we came together, realized how over- budget we were, spent a half hour modifying our carts, and finally checked out. From Wal-mart, we went to Stu and Sadie's house where we worked together to fill the bags. Here are some pictures of the fun!

We all met at the Wal-Mart Subway for dinner before shopping.

Finally ready to check out...

Filling the Love Bags...

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Renovation Update #?

The master bedroom is finally painted! Colleen came over Monday night to help cut in because she LOVES painting. We were glad to let her:-) David gave me a break from rolling, since I'm pretty sure I've given myself carpal tunnel with all the painting that I've done. I just had to play Statue of Liberty and hold the trouble light for the painters (since we were painting after dark). David just put the second coat on this evening, with the help of my lighting assistance. So, tomorrow I will replace all the electrical and light switch plates, clean all of the dust from sanding on Monday, and put the room back together again. We still have to put down wood trim along the floor (since we had to rip up the old stuff when we laid the wood floor), but that will probably wait until Mom and Dad Gafford come in a few weeks.

Nothing too exciting to report, but I'm banking on "boring news is better than no news."

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Memo to the Next President

We've just started a new sermon series at church called Memo to the Next President. Stop by and leave your own memo to our future president at If you'd like to hear this weekend's sermon, you can download it here.

I'm it!

I was tagged by Jessica the other day on the latest blog meme. (I don't even know what a blog meme is!) Here goes:

Meme Rules: Each player answers the question themselves.
At the end of the post, the player then tags 5 people and posts their names, then goes to their blog and leaves them a comment letting them know that they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve answered the questions on your blog.

10 years ago (1998):
1. I was 20 years old.
2. I was a junior elementary education major at Indiana Wesleyan University.
3. I was Secretary in the IWU Chorale.
4. I roomed with Kristen, my cousin (and my husband's ex-girlfriend:-). We lived in a little house on the edge of campus.
5. I left a message on my friend Kayla's answering machine and accidentally ended with "amen" instead of "goodbye". We had a good laugh.

5 things on today’s “to do” list:
1. Go grocery shopping.
2. Return DVD to Redbox.
3. Sand and spackle the master bedroom walls.
4. Write this blog.
5. Make dinner.

5 snacks I enjoy:
1. Anything with peanut butter
2. Chips and dip/chips and queso
3. Dark chocolate
4. Cashews
5. Dad's homemade brownies with vanilla ice cream on top

5 things I would do if I were a millionaire:
1. Tithe
2. Pay off our house and all renovations
3. Replace both vehicles (buy David the Dodge Viper he's always wanted...)
4. Help our friends Dan and Angie and Bryan and Emily who are adopting children.
5. Save for the future.

5 places I have lived:
1. Cottage Grove, MN
2. Woodbury, MN
3. Shelby Twp., MI
4. Marion, IN
5. Sturgis, MI

5 jobs I have had:
1. Third Grade Teacher
2. Fourth Grade Teacher
3. Interim Day Care Director
4. Preschool Teacher
5. First Grade Teacher

Now, I’m supposed to tag 5 others:
1. Emily Mueller
2. Laurel Sprang
3. Dorreen Torres
4. Donna Hall
5. Joelle Mabey

New Haircut

Check out my new do:Do I look old enough to vote now? Old enough to not be living with my parents? Just checking:-)