Monday, November 30, 2009

Come on, Vogue.

What started out as a simple family picture before Thanksgiving on the Williams side slowly became the side show in a low-budget circus. No joke. We (Ben and I) have been anticipating this mini-photo session to get material for our Christmas card this year, but in the mean time we decided to get a few more pictures (courtesy of Amanda's facebook page since I am forever camera-less).

Grandpa Owens served as the photographer for this picture, he did a good job getting us all in, but the angle was just off giving the illusion that Ben and I are nearly twice the size as Craig and Regina, which does wonders for my self-image.

We were able to sneak in a good picture before the mutts jumped in and out of the frame. But that didn't detour them from getting in a few of the other pictures and totally distracting everyone.
Craig and Regina posed for a photo with the "grand-kids". Lucy (on the left) was much more inclined to having her picture taken than Macy (on Regina's lap). Frankly, she wanted nothing to do with these shanninigans.
If I do say so myself, I think the picture of Ben and his sister was probably the best of the bunch. They take such a nice picture together (can you feel the slight sense of jealousy?).

There are a few more pictures that aren't published and for good reason. I launched a full-blown tirade to get the "perfect" picture but my thoughts were as well executed as I had anticipated. I sat Ben down, in an uncomfortably crouching position no-less, and scooted in between his legs for a "posed" picture only to look like a giant hanging all over a decapitated knee. Maybe next time we'll get it right!
We're in desperate need of a quality Christmas picture for the card, I'm soliciting the help of just about anyone to get the job done. If all else fails I'll include the first snow-angel of the season from sunny North Dakota.

A little bit of Christmas to share.

Now that Thanksgiving is officially over - I can share the gifts I made for each of Ben's sisters as birthday gifts. They each had birthday's earlier in the fall, but we were waiting on a) 2 paychecks and b) closer to Christmas, since they are technically Christmas decorations.

The project was meant to keep me busy during Ben's frequent travels for work, but I think they permentantly raised my blood pressure a notch or two - but I enjoyed myself to say the least. My strategy was mostly as follows, I kept an eye out on the ad's at Hobby Lobby for items that had been marked 50% off during the pre-holiday season, worked on weekends and evenings when I was home alone, and consulted Ben as frequently as possible on edits and other suggestions.

Each is a 27" inch wreath purchased bare and I collected and added all the decorations to fit the theme I selected for each wreath.
I have to say, this wreath is my favorite. Anna (the red head for my side of the family who can remember the girls by their hair color), got this wreath. Inside the wreath is a 6" gold snowflake and all the ornaments have gold designs on them (they are shatter proof, my favorite part of the modern Christmas decorations). There are also jingle bells around the wreath, in case she wants to put it on a door.
This cowboy country wreath was made with Amanda (the blonde) in mind. There are also large bronze jingle bells in the center and a cowboy snowmen on the outside. I used rustic inspired decorations and rust red ribbon to frame this wreath!

The whimsical wreath was given to Lyndsey (the brunette) in mind. I loved this ribbon and was glad to find the mittens had the same design as the ribbon. I tell you what, I am very excited about my developing bow making skills, courtesy of the DIY instruction manual I picked up for FREE at Hobby Lobby in the wedding section! I knew Lyndsey already had an indoor wreath and I think with these materials, she can put it on the back door and it'll brave the elements just fine.

This wreath was the last one I made, just in case. I ended up keeping this wreath, partially because I couldn't decide whether I liked it or not (I reworked this wreath several times before this final product) and then I couldn't decide who would like this one. It matches the bulbs on my Christmas tree and I like the warm, dark bronzey colors. So now its hanging above our couch!
I know I'm opening up myself for a big can of worms with my side of the family. But if you talk nice, I might be able to make one for you!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Let's get political

While I've always veered towards the "Free Speech" state of mind, I understand that mentality comes with a price. The intent of the free speech movement and the perception it conveys to audiences are in most cases, very different. The same could be said with my personal lifestyle.

My personal political views differ substantially from my mostly conservative upbringing - let's face it as far as I'm concerned my opinions are just that "my opinions". So while I hold a special place in my heart for politics, I've kept "mum" on most of my views.

I read recently in an article that Sarah Palin has upset a subset of vegetarians. WAY TO GO SARAH! There is an exerpt from her new book, Going Rogue discussing her personal choice to be a meat eater. While I'm not necessarily supportive of Mrs. Palin as a potential candidate of the United States, I am supportive of her in her role as a professional women, mother, daughter and wife.

Regardless of someone's affiliation, I will think we should at least consider their point of view. Regardless of what view, industry or organization someone represents - I hope that whatever form of free speech that is conducted is done with a)integrity and b) passion.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Christmas with the Williams

If my photography skills were more on point to say, those of my college friends - I would have very elaborate and beautiful pictures of our Christmas tree. However, like I've mentioned before - a good "crash-course" in photography would make a world of difference.

Like I mentioned earlier, we purchased our Christmas tree at a thrift store here in Fargo (I'm beginning to really dig this bargin hunting business). Sunday afternoon Ben and I ventured down to Walmart (like the entire population of Fargo also did, man it's a busy place) and wandered up and down the Christmas aisles.

We picked up this huge container of red, green and brown bulbs. Of course, my handmade ornaments were included, with some minor editing. I used ribbon as garland (I don't particularly care for the regular garland you can purchase) and then the jingle bells were left over from a recent craft project (check back after thanksgiving for this big reveal) and purchased at hobby lobby!

The only portion I am not completely satisifed with is the tree topper, after finishing the decorations I realized that it doesn't really fit with the overall "concept" of the tree. Plus Ben makes fun of it all the time. I think I'd like to have something a little more "shiny". I'll keep looking.

Although it's hard to tell, the lights are on in this picture. I think next year I'll add at least one more strand, but as most of you know - when decorating a tree, the lights go on first. There is no way I'm taking all this back off just to do it again (in the same year). Moreover, I personally like a little bit of raz-a-ma-taz so I'm making mental notes on how to "glam" it up a little more for next year.
Regardless, we do have a fabulous tree up and are thoroughly enjoying it for the next month-and-a-half to come.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Gearing up for the holidays.

Christmas time is quickly approaching, if you don't believe me - watch the television ads that are trying to entice shoppers out by offering "BLACK FRIDAY" specials every Friday up until the actual day after Thanksgiving.

In that spirit, I began the hunt for my Christmas tree. Remember from a week or so ago when I mentioned that I made some Christmas ornaments? I found and purchased that 7 1/2 foot Christmas tree from the thrift store last Friday.

It took all the restraint I have in me to wait until yesterday to decorate it! Pictures to come!

In lieu of the Christmas holiday, a little early (I have been well informed from family, friends, co-workers and facebook friends) - I wanted to share a little treat from my sister, Kait.

She submitted this picture to the HPJ (High Plains Journal) Christmas Coloring Contest. She had to submit this back in the first part of October to be eligible to compete against all the other 7 to 10 yr. olds who also drew Christmas inspired pictures.

I think she did a marvelous job, she's only 7 remember (a 2nd grader).

This is the link to the website and the rest of the pictures entered in this year's competition.

Good Luck Kait!

Friday, November 6, 2009

We might just be North Dakotans yet!

Disclaimer: Much of the information presented in the pictures is found from simple Google searches. What I am sharing is merely a glimpse of our new home intended for our family and friends only - not for historical use.

Since many of our family and friends have not been to North Dakota for any length of time, I thought I'd share a few highlights of Fargo, Cass County and ND (all places we call home)!

North Dakota, population 638,000
Cass County, population 137,000
Fargo/West Fargo, population 113,680

State Nickname: Peace Garden/Flickertail State
State Bird: Meadowlark (KS, right?)
State Tree: American Elm; Flower: Wild Praire Rose

Settled as Dakota Territory (with S. Dakota) : 1861 but admitted to the union in 1889
# Counties: 53
# Miles across state from East to West: 335 miles

ND is largely an agriculturally based state, relying on crops/livestock to maintain the livelihood of its residents.

Compared to the rest of the country, ND agriculture ranks as follows:
Wheat, all 1. Kansas 2. North Dakota 3. South Dakota
Barley 1. North Dakota 2. Idaho 3. Montana
Sunflower, all 1. North Dakota 2. South Dakota 3. Kansas
Canola 1. North Dakota 2. Minnesota 3. Montana
Dry Edible Beans 1. North Dakota 2. Michigan 3. Nebraska
Sugarbeets 1. Minnesota 2. North Dakota 3. Michigan
(From the ND Department of Agriculture)

As you can see, primarily cropping systems are the largest contributor to ND impact on US agriculture. However, ND does produce approximately +930,000 head of beef cows/calves and +181,000 hogs and pigs. No estimate was given for sheep, but there are a substantial number of sheep producers in the western portion of the state.

In Cass Co. particularly the livestock industry is a very small piece of ND animal agriculture. As of Jan. 1, 2009 there were approximately 5,000 hd. of beef cows; 1,800 hd. of sheep/lambs and 6,400 hd. of hogs and pigs.

  • Before the turn of the century there was a very well developed livestock market in West Fargo (the adjoining town to Fargo). The above picture is from 1938 looking over the stockyards. Hereford cattle are scattered in the background amidst the heavy snowfall and flat lands all around.
  • Below is a picture one of the most historic and core parts of Fargo, Broadway St. from the 1880's. If you visit, we'll most likely explore the shops and eating joints the historic Broadway has to offer.

Most of you are well aware of our fears of spring time flooding up here in the Red River Valley. Although the city/state and U.S. Army Corp of Engineers are working to help reduce the risk of flooding in the future my building multi-million dollar dykes and diversion - it wasn't in place this past spring. I included a few photos of the flooding in and around Fargo.

Have no fear - we have been assured that unlike other areas that experience massive and wide-spread flooding, the people of ND and Cass Co. really rally around one another in these situations. NDSU students were released from school but many stayed to help the residents sand-bag for 2 weeks to divert water from damaging more homes.
The hardest search is finding pictures of Fargo in present day. This is an aerial view that overlooks Fargo. This is what we see on a daily basis, and we're enjoying it up here!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Our very own "devil dog"

The third member of our family has been on an extended vacation at "Grandpa and Grandma Godsey's" since well, forever. My mom and dad graciously allowed Gage to stay at their house until we were settled in. This morning, during our bi-weekly chat, mom informs me that our sweet little puppy is quickly growing into a large, unruly monster. Unlucky them.

We have carried on conversations that focus on the Gage's "sire" but have continued to come up just short of a clear-cut answer. Most recently Mom has suggested a rather "large" male dog who is owned by a frequent visitor of Gaylord. This dog has a) no name; b) no identifiable breed; and c) is a monster in size.
These photos were taken during September on my last trip home. You can see he does have long legs and gigantic paws. These traits have only seemed to become accentuated with age. He was fortunate enough to be blessed with his momma's good looks (Zoey, not me).
While my Mom suggests that he's a WILD THING, when I visit he's quite the opposite. I've suggested that they spend sometime "LOVING-ON-HIM", as he's a big fan of tummy rubs and car rides.
Since Pudgy is the only dog typically allowed inside, I had to make a plea with mom to allow him limited access to the living room. Hence the blanket. While I didn't include the picture of him torturing the family cat, he did spend a good deal of time getting "man-handled" by her cat-nip toy. The poor thing was in pain, or so Gage thought. Each time he tried to clobber it and the thing squeaked he came running and whimpering in my direction.

Hopefully we can get him up here (I know I say that alot) but I think he's about to the age that we'll have some really bad habits to break (barking, jumping, pooping where you sleep) if we don't get started soon. Craig and Regina may have a houseful of dogs at Christmas time!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A new look, a new attitude.

As most of you know, for almost my entire natural born life I've been a blonde. UNTIL NOW. With a new career, I thought "what the heck" lets do something different.

Three days before I started my new job I happened to meet a stylist up here who has a real skill! So, I went for it. She also gave me a killer haircut, which I might even like more than the color (which I have falled completely in LOVE with!). We had to re-dye it only a week later, those "silky smooth blonde strands" (as my stylist would say) didn't quite take during the first attempt. However, during the second a darker "CHESNUT" color was used, leaving me with a more reddish appearing mane. It'll blend nicely, I've been assured!

Ben snapped a couple of pictures on the morning of my first day of work, in my 4-day a week garb, "Business Casual". We exercise this quite stringently here - which is nice. It gave me a chance to exercise my shopping bone. ENTER BURLINGTON COAT FACTORY.

Some people do not care for this store, I am aware. But in leau of a TJ MAXX (not a fan), I found 4 pairs of nice (brand name no less) dress pants for $14.99 EACH! Needless to say, its my new favorite discount store! Anyway, my shopping was temporarily halted due to the increasing proximity to Christmas - but I'm always on the lookout for a "SALE" item. I think I got that from my Mom.

My staff can't believe that I was blonde (I apparently wasn't very memorable during my interview, just kidding). But I'm sure they'll get a feel for my true nature on those oh-so-rare occasions I forget that "brain-to-mouth" filter that is synonomous with us blondes.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Our humble abode!

Most of you already know that Ben and I took a huge chance on an apartment when we moved to Fargo back in August. The following were the things we knew for certain about the apartment

a) 2 bedrooms, split by the living room on the 3rd floor of a secured building
b) heat and a 2-car garage were paid
c) 6-mth leases are available for the same price
d) pets are not allowed

We had no pictures, no website or any general idea of what we were getting ourselves into, but we did know that we had to move up north in less than 10 days and we were running out of options. We got REALLY lucky, by far not the worst we've lived in.

I've had pictures of our apartments stored on my computer since September. Can't you tell from the watermelon on our table, my gift from mom and dad at Gaylord Watermelon Day!

First off, the ever important kitchen. If you've been friends with us for awhile you'll notice the same kitchen table that Ben's had since junior college (like Stephen Linnebur noticed right away). Also, you'll notice that I'm a big fan of the "Stuff on the Fridge" - we have family and friends pictures, announcements and invitations all over the place!
Nextly (is that a real word) we have the living room with the balcony exit. Notice again (with the exception of the coffee and end tables) that we haven't upgraded to the big kid furniture yet. Maybe soon!

This is the lonely guest bedroom. Maybe someday we'll have visitors! This rooms also doubles as storage, but that's been stragetically hidden from view!

Finally, our bedroom. Not much to say, other than notice the stack of Ben's clothes on the left-hand side. This is a daily struggle - I fold, he puts up. We absolutely love our king-sized bed - its a struggle when we travel now though, we're definitely used to our own space.
I didn't include pictures of the bathrooms (yes, we did score 2 bathrooms - so no more sharing (Corineah likes)), laundry room (which could double as a third bedroom, that's how big it is) or any of the storage space (like closets).
I need to create a little mystery for those of you thinking about packing up for a visit north! We haven't truly moved in - we hope to settle in somewhere (buy a home possibly?), which is when buying the new furniture will come in!