Friday, December 31, 2010

A Happy Happy Meal

Ella recently experienced her very first McDonald's Happy Meal. We took her down the hill to one of my very favorite McDonald's locations, lovingly referred to as "McDonald's on the Rocks" in the Scott family. So many memories.

Honestly, I was a little bummed that we didn't get her meal in one of those cool boxes with the golden arches on the top. Maybe next time.

This girlie loves her fries!

This must be why they call them Happy Meals.

It's just not complete without an ice cream cone.

What a treat it was!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


On Christmas night, Pete, Ella and I braved the cold and wind to experience Bentleyville, a display of innumerable lights along the Duluth harbor. While we were dating, Pete & I started going to Bentleyville. At that time, the smaller (yet still incredible) lighting attraction was outside a small town near Duluth in a family's yard. It's grown well beyond that now with free cookies & hot chocolate, fires in barrels for making free smores, and of course, they big guy from the North Pole. With all the distractions, Ella didn't mind the cold a bit! She was quite a trooper and we were able to hustle through nearly the entire little city of lights in about 20 minutes.

Daddy started by pulling her in her new sled, but then we realized all the paths were cement and very well shoveled. The sled went back to the parking lot.

Ah, the ever-impressive entrance to Bentleyville.

Ella met a penguin!
Mama & Ella in the tunnel
The enormous Christmas tree kept time with the music pumping through the speaker system. I love the look of the lift bridge behind everything.
Maybe next year we'll go in time for Ella to visit Santa. We'll just make sure the weather is above 20. Well, we'll try anyway.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Our Wisconsin Christmas

Last Wednesday morning we loaded up the Jeep and drove four hours to Pete's parents' house in Wisconsin. Auntie Kat flew in from Baltimore and Ella's godmother, Auntie Kristin, came from Appleton. Ella absolutely loved all the attention she got for two whole days. We had a big Chrsitmas feast complete with meat balls and mountains of cookies on Wednesday night and spent most of the Christmas Eve Eve (Thursday) relaxing. Ella and I developed a lovely pair of colds following all the gift-finishing hubub, so a time to rest was quite welcome. What a time we had at Grandma & Grandpa's!

Here are a few pictures from our days in central Wisconsin. Although I usually take most of my pictures on my iPhone, it wasn't ideal this time around since the gift-opening happened at night. Next time I'll be sure to have the regular camera on hand for the tricky, darker shots.

Grandma & Granpa and Auntie Kristin with Ella.

Daddy, that's one big bow!
Ella in her new sled from Grandma & Grandpa (with Pooh, too)
Faster, Daddy, faster!
Pete, Ella, Grandpa Olsen
We had a lot of fun in Wisconsin, but our Christmas had only begun. I'll post more pictures soon from the Scott Christmas at our house in Duluth, as well as our Christmas Day festivities.

One more thing. I'm super excited to share that I received word last Wednesday that I've been accepted to grad school! I'll begin my Master of Education in January through the University of Minnesota Duluth. A lot of the class load is online, so I'll continue to be at home with Ella while completing the two-year program. I'm happy to be working toward furthering my education and continuing to prepare for my dream of teaching abroad. Your prayers are very much appreciated as I prepare to begin classes and make arragements for Ella so that I will have enough time to study each week. Yay!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

the Olsen family card
(one year pics by our friend & photographer extraordinaire Sara Montour)

We hope that you have a very Merry Christmas! May you be filled with peace and find happiness in this time of true celebration. What a gift that has been given to each of us!

Although I've been on a short (unintentional) break from posting, I'll be back at it this week. There are so many pictures and stories to share! Ella is loving the holiday, especially all the time she gets to spend with Daddy during his vacation this week. Check back soon for all the fun that is to come!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Why I Love Duluth

Reason #43: Fog rolling over the water on a cold winter morning. I absolutely love this city. This picture was taken this morning along the canal. Gorgeous.

I have many, many new pictures to post. I'll try to find the time later today to get a few up. I'm also working on finishing my classwork before finals next week along with all the other fun Christmas hoopla, but I will do my best! Isn't this a fun time of year?!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


So it turns out that 18 dozen cupcakes is a lot of cupcakes! Who knew? I baked and baked the second half of last week and ended up with 7 varieties of the little cakes for a women's event at our church on Saturday morning.

Vanilla cake with almond frosting.

Vanilla cake & real raspberries with raspberry frosting.

Dark chocolate cake with mint frosting.

Devil's food cake with chocolate frosting & mini Oreos.

Dark chocolate cake with vanilla frosting & festive gum drops.

I had so much fun with the colors.

And with the sprinkles.

(Check out this cupcake post for frosting tips & recipes.)

Little labels like this one printed on cardstock helped clear up any flavor confusion for event guests. (This was another flavor that I didn't capture in a picture. They were all chocolate with mocha frosting and brown & white sprinkles. Probably my favorite flavor.)

I displayed the cupcakes on a decorated table near the coffee bar. A string of silver star garland and bowls of silver Hershey kisses made it feel quite dressed up.

Someone asked me yesterday if I'll be making cupcakes again any time soon. My answer was yes, but probably not 18 dozen. When I took on the challenge, I had no idea how I would do it exactly, but I thought I could figure it out. I was so glad that the ladies heading up the event at the church trusted that I could actually produce something decent, and for the women who so sweetly washed all my dishes! And for Pete who ran to the store when I ran out of flavoring and powdered sugar. And for the girls who played with Ella for hours on Friday night while I was decorating and Saturday morning during the event. Goodness, what a team! It was a ton of fun, honestly, and it really is a great feeling knowing that I made over 210 cupcakes. Yay.

So...what's next??

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Wheels on the Bus

The cupcakes were a success! I ended up making 210 of them and had just 10 remaining at the end of the event. I do have pictures, but Pete has the computer with him while he's on call until tomorrow morning, so I have to wait to post them. I was pretty excited with how they turned out, so it will be fun to share!

In the meantime, here is a picture I took earlier this afternoon. It was Ella's first time on the city bus! We had great fun. We went to pick up the Jeep at the hospital since this mama didn't want to get up long before the crack of dawn this morning to drive the Doc in. The stop is half a mile from our house, which is lovely. Thanks to my free student pass, I'm sure we'll be taking many more rides on the good ol' DTA through the next couple years.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Challenge

A few days ago, Ella and I needed to get out for a while. It was a snowy afternoon, so we decided to go to Barnes & Noble to look at books. The girl was in heaven! We read book after book and played with countless toys. As always, Miss Social also wanted to chat with the older kids hanging out in the area. Ella does a lot of chatting now and clearly expects that we understand every word. Her expression and intonation are excellent! (Another public speaker, perhaps?)

Ella was in love with the Backyardigan stuffed characters. She won't stand to watch anything else. I've tried Clifford and other PBS shows, but she has her favorite! I'm okay with that.

It was not an easy task to leave the store when it was time for dinner. One, she was hungry. Two, there were so many more books to read. And three, she wasn't finished socializing with the big kids. No worries, Miss Ella, we'll visit again very soon. After all, our indoor hangout choices are somewhat numbered during long Duluth winters.

On to the challenge, as mentioned in the title of this post. I am currently sitting on a stool in the middle of the kitchen. I'm completely surrounded by bowls and spoons, mixers and measuring cups. The challenge? I've volunteered to make 17 dozen fancy cupcakes for a women's event this Saturday at our church. I'm also making the same number of cookies. I'm beyond excited to do this. Just ask Pete. It's going well so far! More than half the cupcakes are baked and I've got a good start on the cookies. Tomorrow afternoon I'll lug everything to the church kitchen to do the actual decorating of the wee cakes. I'll post pics after Saturday. Onward!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Oh Christmas Tree

I'd like to start by saying that we're in the process of learning in the Olsen house. New Christmas "toys" are very interesting! We've discovered, though, that these balls don't bounce. "Uh oh," as Ella says.

The day after Thanksgiving presented itself as the perfect day to "deck the halls" of the Olsen house. This is one fun place to decorate! We put our tree in the living room, right in front of a window that can be seen from the street. It makes the house look quite festive. It's little and lovely and just the right size for our growing ornament collection, which includes these three playful ornaments. They were on my Grandma Johnson's tree while I was growing up.

You can see that Miss Ella is quite fond of the lights, but I can't seem to convince her that she won't be able to blow them out.

This year we feel extra festive with TWO Christmas trees. We've had one for a couple years and put it in the corner of the dinning room. It's entirely red and gold with a couple sparkly white and gold ornaments that look a bit like snowballs.

And this is our main tree. It's warm and bright in the evening. We've already enjoyed many hours sitting near it while reading or playing. I'm not sure I'm going to want to take it down after the new year.

Happy beginning to an exciting Christmas season!

(You can see one of the new curtains I made in the picture above. I still have one to make, but the other two are up. I'm quite pleased with how they turned out. They go up and down like roman shades and provide a bit of rich color to the room. I'm procrastinating on the last one since I'm having far more fun working on Christmas gifts!)

Friday, November 26, 2010


Such a Thanksgiving! Pete was on call until 8am on the big day, so we decided to celebrate here in Duluth. It was quite convenient since Jake, Becky and Malena also live here. Here are a few pictures to cover our day.

We Skyped in the morning with Grandma & Grandpa Olsen and Auntie Kristin. So much better than a phone call! (In the evening we Skyped with Auntie Kathryn, too.)

Then I set the table.

When I was growing up and my mom would make pies, she would cut up the extra dough, sprinkle them with cinnamon & sugar, and bake them like cookies. I did the same this year for each place setting.

The turkey was a success! I honestly didn't know how it would go since Pete does the cooking around here while I do the baking. He was working, though, so it was up to me this time. I made a rosemary roasted turkey, classic sage & parsley stuffing and cranberries along with Mama's Perfect Apple Pie. Grandma Scott and Mama Bex added to the spread, which equaled a crazy amount of food. It seems inevitable, doesn't it? Pete used his amazing surgery skills to beautifully carve the bird.

A bit blurry, but this was our meal!

My clean-up helper.

Dinner was followed by naps all around. (Uncle Jake & Malena)

And play time with Grandma's shoes.

When our food had somewhat settled, we pulled out the desserts.

And that's all we could handle. Ella & her baby expressed it for all of us.

I think the classic Thanksgiving meal must have been designed so that the leftovers would taste just as good as the original meal. Today's meals were delish!

I do hope you all had a very happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Turkey Trance

This pic pretty much sums it up for the Olsen family. After all the turkey, stuffing, cranberries, and grape Jello jigglers (in fun fall shapes!) we were all pretty wiped. Ella is now tucked in bed and Pete & I are sitting in the quietness of the living room listening to the fire. Just one thought remains on my mind...

Shopping, anyone?

Just kidding. No one's pulling me out of the warmth of my bed at the wee hours of the morning for a trip outside. Instead, we'll be hauling boxes of decorations out of the attic to dress this place for Christmas. Now that's something that might get me out of bed at an early hour!

More pictures & recipes from our day to come...

Happy Thanksgiving to you, my friends!


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