Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy Almost New Year!!!

It's 11:15 PM as I write this, so we're really close to 2017, and I have high hopes for this brand-spankin' new year!!!

On Christmas day evening, I got the flu and it's been kicking my butt since then.
It is a terrible virus.  I am finally able to sleep again (starting last night), but I've holed myself up in the guest room so as not to infect Greg, if at all possible.  It's lonely!

Here are some random photos of what's been happening around here while I've been recuperating.

Here are some sights that brought me joy even during this illness . . . 

Juvy purring (turn it way up!):

Juvy chasing Allistair's tail:

Ha!  Stephen with poking-out tongue!

Allistair, all warm and cozy

the boys love to "help" me do yoga (this was before I got sick)

I hope your holiday festivities were healthier than mine and that you are looking forward to 2017 with joy and anticipation.


Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Eve!

It's here!!!

Yesterday I ran some errands, and here's what I wore - I liked the moss green and the periwinkle blue together.

It was a chilly day - and it's another chilly day today!  Woo-hoo!
We're expecting RAIN, and it feels homey and cozy and festive. 

On my drive yesterday, the mountains were obscured by low lying clouds . . . 

After errands, I came home and did a bit of tidying and cooking.

Last night I had a very small (three people) Christmas party / birthday party hybrid and it was lovely and the perfect way to start this happy celebratory weekend.

I made tasty food and we watched this cute French movie on Netflix:
Image result for french movie "chic"

Here's what I cooked!

Everything vegan.

This time I baked them instead of frying them and they were crispy and delicious and MUCH better than the pan version!!!
these are not my plates - this photo is from when I made the burgers
at my parents' cabin in Minnesota
because I forgot to take a close-up last night!

It was delightful!

Today I run the 1:1 (special needs) classroom at church during two services and then we come home and open our gifts and have a special family meal from Greg's side of the family.

And tomorrow we have some of Greg's work friends over for chalupas (stay tuned for photos and video!) and games.  Should be great fun!!!


Monday, December 19, 2016

2016 In Review

and may
the quickly-approaching NEW YEAR be good to you and your loved ones!!!

Time for the Priem year in review!!!
(I KNOW you're excited!)


In March, we celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary.

Then (1996):

Now (2016!):

To celebrate a meaningful 20 years of marriage and to put Greg's THIRD sabbatical to good use,
we did a whole bunch of traveling - yay!

TRIP #1:

First we went to New Zealand, where we fully enjoyed everything Hobbit-related!
visiting Hobbiton (filming location for parts of  "The Lord Of The Rings" and "The Hobbit")

Greg drove (on the wrong side of the road!) all over both islands and we had the blessing of seeing a lot of the majestic and rugged countryside.
Huka Falls

Franz Josef Glacier

Find out more about our trip to New Zealand by clicking here!

TRIP #2:

Less than two weeks after we got back home, we left again,
this time for Switzerland!!!
flag on scaffolding in a construction site in Lauterbrunnen

It was great to be able to travel everywhere by train,
though we did have to pack light.

In Grindelwald

Switzerland is exceptionally beautiful! 

the Kapell Bridge in Lucerne

Rhein Falls near Zurich

Switzerland is FULL of waterfalls!!!

We made lots of wonderful memories and saw amazing scenery.

Find out more about our trip to Switzerland here!


Greg keeps chugging along as a software engineer at Intel.  He's enjoying the newer position he moved to a couple of years ago and likes that his team and his boss are at the same location.
Since his campus has a Foosball table, Greg gets to unwind at the end of his workdays by playing, and this has become one of his favorite parts of the day.
We've been able to host his Foosball friends for a few holidays this past year, and it's been neat to learn more about different cultures (most of them are from India).


Christie continues to improve and distribute the Chirp Curriculum, a tool to teach young children and children with special needs Biblical truths in a way that's relevant and understandable.

This year, we've added bonus stories to help families and teachers discuss subjects like death, communion (The Lord's Supper), baptism, choosing to follow Jesus, and divorce.
the bonus story on baptism

We've also added Family Packs, which provide families the opportunity to teach and reinforce spiritual beliefs and practices.
lesson #24

The Chirp YouTube channel continues to grow, and I enjoy filming videos on topics that will help families (and other professionals or volunteers) better support kids with developmental differences and delays.  I love the feedback I get that my videos were encouraging and that families feel better equipped to deal with challenging behavior, sensory difficulties, and communication challenges after watching my videos!


We still have cats, and they are still cuddly and adorable.
Scroll back on the blog (if you are new to blogs, you can do this by clicking "older posts" at the bottom of the screen) to see them and get to know their silly sweet personalities.

I changed my diet drastically last summer, and it made a HUGE difference in my health.
For about six months.
Then I started feeling horribly fatigued again, and I've been struggling quite a bit to function.
I finally have found a great doctor who has run some tests that no one else has run and she thinks she knows what's going on.  Her office already called to tell me that some of the results are abnormal, and I see her Friday for the follow-up, where we'll discuss her recommended treatment plan.  I'm excited to finally have HOPE that I can get better all the way!
I'll post more details on the blog when we get them.

Thank you for keeping up with us this year and we look forward to sharing the coming year with you, too!


Saturday, December 17, 2016

Non-Toxic & Cruelty Free Make-Up Routine

Over the past couple of years I have been working on revamping my beauty routines to substitute in less toxic products that are also not tested on animals (it's cruel and unnecessary).  But of course, I still want the products to work!  I know a lot of us are cleaning up in similar ways, so I thought I'd share the products that have been working well for me.

I have finally figured out how to get the look I'm going for: 
fresh-faced and energetic (even when I'm not feeling energetic!)
I'm willing to put forth effort to look my best, but I don't want to LOOK as if I'm putting in a lot of effort!

Here are my every-day products.
On special occasions, I use the same products, just in a different way.

All of the above products are cruelty-free and very low (which is good!) on the toxicity scale as measured by the Skin Deep Database created by the Environmental Working Group.

Foundation: Alima Pure Satin Matte Loose Powder Foundation - LOVE!!! I don't like liquid foundations or BB creams, so this is perfect for me.  I use the color Neutral 1.  This is on the expensive side, but I haven't found anything that works as well, so it's worth it to me.

Blush: I love blush because I'm sort of pale (especially when I'm fatigued) and I need the bright pink flush to look alive and alert!  I use Physician's Formula.

Eyelash curler: I have sort of squinty, Asian-shaped eyes, and most eyelash curlers pull my eyelashes out or pinch my eyelids.  This one is great (for me).

e.l.f. eyeshadow: from Target, $2, if I remember correctly!
Wet And Wild eyeshadow primer: I get slippery eyelids, and this helps a lot!

Eyeliner: I like the Physician's Formula pen version (especially because it contains a serum that helps lashes grow and my health challenges make my eyelashes fall out in clumps sometimes!)  
I draw it just along the lashes on my upper eyelids.

Brushes: e.l.f. cheap and cruelty-free!

Pretty simple!
That's it!!!

Check out this awe-inspiring bird-of-prey who visited our yard the other day!
We have a nice nature friendly backyard with good plants for birds and bees, bird food provided regularly, and a water fountain, so it makes sense we'd attract some predators . . . 

Monday, December 5, 2016

9 Things I Want To Do In December

The house is all cozy and the Christmas tree is up!

Over the weekend, Greg put up the outside lights.

Hello!  Welcome!

Now I'd like to think about ways I'd like to celebrate this season - yay!

1. Fill out Christmas cards 
while watching Christmas movies!!!

I might start this tonight, in fact!

My favorite Christmas movies are:

White Christmas (Diamond Anniversary Edition)

Robbie The Reindeer Triology: The Whole Herd [DVD]

The Ref

The Christmas Card (Hallmark)

Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Deluxe Edition)

Image result for seoulmates northern exposure raven
The Seoul Mates (Christmas) episode of Northern Exposure

2.  A chilly hike!

I am not sure which trail yet . . . I'm pondering!
Possibly Peralta trail or maybe even one I have never yet done.

3.  Make Christmas cookies & pumpkin pie
while listening to Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker" at high volume!

Gingersnaps are probably my favorite cookie, and I found this delicious vegan and gluten-free pumpkin pie recipe that I can hardly wait to make again!.

4.  Find a great dress for Christmas Eve
(Secondary goal: find the perfect set 
of extra fancy underthings for under that dress!)

Here are some dresses that are lighting my fire . . . 
(both dresses by Antonio Melani - I ordered both from eBay for a STEAL and I'll let you know how they fit.  They're expected to arrive on Friday.)

Addendum: I returned both of them because they didn't fit appropriately . . . too narrow in the bust/shoulders.  So sad!  I'm still looking for a Christmas Eve outfit and I'll keep you informed!

5.  Test and approve a wonderful 
vegan hot chocolate recipe!


Addendum: Low-effort version was best!  I bought unsweetened chocolate almond milk (this one) and drizzled some maple syrup in it!  DEEEEEEE-LICIOUS!!!

6.   At least five (5) evenings in, reading good books, 
listening to music, and warming myself 
with cat snuggles and my DVD "fire"

7.  Make the house smell like Christmas!

Maybe like this . . . 

Place 4 to 6 cups of water in a pot on the stove. Add orange peels (from 1 or 2 oranges), 3 to 4 cinnamon sticks, 1 tablespoon of whole cloves and 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract. If you want to get fancy you can add cranberries and some ginger. Bring the contents to a boil and then reduce the heat so it is left to simmer.

Addendum: I tried the above and it didn't smell good!  It smelled sort of like old fruit and I didn't like it.  I decided to use more peppermint in my essential oil diffusers and that makes a festive smell!

8.  Make cinnamon bun muffins 
(gluten free and vegan) to enjoy while we open presents on Christmas morning!

Maybe this recipe.

9.  Take a load of no-longer-worn clothing to the consignment store or Goodwill.

As I try on items and decide I don't want to wear them, I put them aside to donate or sell.  I have a bunch waiting . . . and at least $50 waiting for me at my regular consignment shop from stuff I took there previously!  This is a task I frequently put off because the shop is a little out of my way.  I need to go through my sweaters because there are a whole bunch I just don't wear because they look droopy or because they don't flatter.  Sweaters.  That's where I need to focus my energies this year.  Get rid of the bad ones, love the good ones!
(I'm wearing a good one right this minute.)

What do you like to do to enjoy this festive season?