Sunday, December 30, 2007

Christmas Miracles

So I witnessed a few Christmas miracles this year, and a few other not so miraculous things, but fun festivities all the same.......

I got to go to Zoey's dance concert....which was one of the cutest things I've seen!

Last year, Caroline's mom so generously gave me a "family heirloom" that is now my favorite Christmas decoration and I hang it up right at the top of my stairs--front and center. Coincidentally, I saw a very similar piece, also made of jewelry, hanging in Buca di Beppo!!! And we all know what a stylish place that is--w/such amazing decor! I was ecstatic! So I had to snap a pic!

Buca's is the red velvet one......and mine is the black! :) Even though they look about the same size, I am lucky because mine is much larger and much more magnificent! Thanks Neill!!!
6 of us gathered for a mini-high school reunion at Famous Daves. We try to do this every year--this year was the funnest yet! (L to R) Mailee, Jody, Laurie, Amy Vanessa & moi.
Now for the real Christmas miracles.....and I say this w/much emotion and appreciation: WE HAD A WHITE CHRISTMAS!!! Here's the view of Pleasant Grove and Utah Lake, etc. from my parent's window. I can't remember the last time we had a white Christmas! We've had 4 snow storms in 7 days--there's even snow on the ground as I type this.... I truly love it!
Almost a miracle....I almost got Lance in a picture. :) (L to R) G&G West, Lance, Granny B & Kyle.

I got to open presents Christmas morning w/the Roses. :)

And one more miracle: CARMINDY SMILED! I just said "Carmy smile!" And w/out warning, she turned to the camera and pulled this one out of nowhere! No one could believe it. Micah started telling people "Carmindy smiles now!" hahaha

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Diva Christmas Eve!

Diva Christmas Eve is undoubtedly my favorite party of the year!! It's the West Family Christmas celebration--and it just keeps growing as the years roll by. The last two years Mom & Dad have taken over hosting the always used to be at Grandma & Grandpa West's. And depending on the year, different cousins, etc. will come and go. But it is always a blast and this year was definitely one of the best!!!

This year I assigned myself as the official photographer...and so I snapped a few photos as the guests started to arrive...

Two of my sisters--the two that some people can't tell apart. Ally (#4) on left and Hillary (#1) on you can see they both came dressed for the occasion. :) You can also see we are all loving Viking Blue being back in style! :) Go PGHS!

Lindsey (#5), Micah and me (#2). I planned these first two photos to put the color-coordinated sisters together--but at the last minute we pulled Mikey into the picture, throwing off the whole look. But of course I'll never complain about being chillow to chillow w/him!!

My brother Jeff (#3) and his wife Aubrey. Zoey is not the only one growing her hair out right now!

This kids were having a blast from the get-go. L to R: Brooklyn Huntsman, Micah Morris, Brynnley Huntsman, Zoey Rose and Zane Rose in the back.

Grandpa loves his grandkids--and Carmindy was pretty much the best-dressed diva of the evening! (even if she never wears a smile!)
Both of my grandmas--West on left and Bird on right--looking very festive! Such a special treat that Grandma Bird has also been able to attend this party for the last couple years!
Me and Chaz Rose. How bout little baby blue eyes!! His hair--and his eyelashes are still growing! (Sina doesn't this picture make you excited to have a boy?)

And here's Mom taking her turn w/the little guy. Even cute when he's crying!

After a delicious dinner of turkey, ham, sweet potato pie, cranberry ice, and other various items, we moved into the living room for the annual Nativity play. Mom started out by leading us in a few carols. I included this pic b/c you can see the fabulous nativity I broght back from Krakow for my mom. She's got her nativities all over the's so festive and beautiful. And bonus--you get to see a few our senior pictures! haha only #3-5 though. (I spared myself from all of the rude comments about my baby's breath comb and white crocheted collar.)
Here's the whole group--you could cut the anticipation in the room with a knife! :)

The 2nd generation does the nativity play: (L to R back row) Zane (Joseph), Zoey (Mary), Brynnley (angel), Makayla Manwaring (angel). (L to R frong row) Brooklyn (baby Jesus), Savannah Manwaring (angel), and Mikey (shepard & a wise man!).

I attempted to round the men up for a picture, since they seemed to be dodging my pictures all night. Lance still dodged this one though. :( L to R back standing: Mike Manwaring, Grandpa West, Dad, Kyle Morris. front: James Warnick (cousin) & Brandon Huntsman.

Unfortunately the Huntsman's always have to leave early for other family parties. (L to R) Brooklyn, Jeanette (cousin), Brandon & Brynnley. I don't know if Brandon knows it or not but he's the one who coined the term Diva Christmas Eve! Thanks Brandon! :)

And here's 3/5 of the Manwaring family: Savannah, Mike & Jalinda. Jalinda is my cousin....we're the same age and grew up together so of course I always love catching up. They live in San Antonio so we don't get to see them all too often.

Lastly, we exchanged gifts and me & Pop took a moment to stop and enjoy the festivities! Carmindy, as you can see, had a bit of a rough night! But w/her new haircut, she still looks cute even when completely disheveled! (still not smiling).

It was a great evening....sad to say goodbye but at least we had Christmas day to look forward to! More on that in the next posting. :)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Wordless Wednesday

Top Ten Tuesday: All I want for Christmas Is.....

Top Ten Tuesday is back! This weeks topic is all the things I want for Christmas....or at least 10 things that I want. Sina made her list too--although I haven't seen it yet b/c I don't want to taint my own choices. But I'm sure she has an awesome list so go take a look....

10. Ever since I read Twilight, I've wanted a black Mercedes like Carlisle Cullen. And since that's a bit out of my budget, I'll settle for a Mercury Milan.

9. Let's be honest--who doesn't want one of these? Well...most people already have one but to me it would be an amazing present!

8. I reeeaaaallly want a blue patent leather handbag....this one would do! :)

7. I want to get my craft room in order so I can stamp in there...and when I do, I'll need a TV/DVD player stand. But since it's an itty bitty room, I'll need this so I can mount them on the wall (work w/me here--totally lame picture but I'm sure you get the idea).

6. I would really love a chair for my living room. I've decided on a black and white one. This one is the wrong style, but I like the print.

5. Of course I want STAMPS!!! And w/our new catalog going live on January 1--there's a long list to choose from!

4. I really want some brown boots....and I love these!!!

3. My current suitcase now has square wheels so I need a new one....this is the one I found at TJ Maxx for an amazing price! :) Thanks Mom & Dad!

2. I have these 2 amazing purple lamps that need tables to sit on in my living room. I saw some at Tai Pan....and Ally got me a gift card so I can't wait to get them!

1. I'm getting a few new clothing items from Macy's and I am so excited!

HAPPY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE! And...I'm wondering what's on your list?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Budapest--2nd Time

Wow--ok so this is really the marathon trip report...(sigh) this will be my final posting....except I don't have some of Shiloh's pics b/c of technical difficulties. So if and when I am able to get a few of them, I will add a couple pics....but I've drug this on long enough and these postings take forever!! So this is it!!

But before I launch into Budapest, round 2, I have to share this one last pic of Krakow. Caro took this one--I just love it! It's taken from inside the Cloth Hall--with St. Mary's in the background. Possibly my favorite thing about Europe is just walking around and seeing amazing things like this all the time.

So anyway, Saturday morning we arrived back in Budapest around 9am--which was a nice normal hour for once. I took a pic of our train as we were walking away b/c it was a sad goodbye (yeah right). Ours is the one on the left....

I did take a self-portrait of the 4 of us in this same spot but quite literally it was the worst picture I've ever seen of myself so of course I am too vain to put it up here. Plus--it's my blog and I can do what I want! :) For this final day all together, I managed to take a whopping 3 pictures (4 if you count the previously mentioned fiasco). So you can see why I wanted a few from Shiloh. So Caro sent me a few....THANKS AGAIN CARO!

We checked back into our hotel and wandered down to the market--the one I had been to the week before but no one else got to see it b/c of planes. Sadly, this pic is blurry but you can get the general idea....

I had the most delish fry bread w/Hungarian sauce! yummm! And we picked up a few souvenirs, etc. This place is so fun--totally bustling w/activity!

Next we headed across the river and went to the Cave Church....

This church was quite literally built in a cave. It was really amazing!!! Here's one on the inside....

Then that night we wandered around, wishing the Christmas market was already open (like the web said it would be), went to a delish Italian restaurant w/amazing electric guitar entertainment (words cannot properly describe), and ended up in McCafe for delish hot chocolate. As you can see, we had a great time just visiting and recapping the trip, etc.

The next morning, Christy & Caro headed home. Shiloh and I slept in, and then after much persuasion, I agreed to go to the baths. I figured we'd seen everything there was to see in Budapest so it was our only option. So....we headed out on the metro (oldest one on the continent).....

....and obviously took a few photos on the way b/c this metro was so much different from all the rest we'd ever been on. :) haha

And then we's a view of the Szechenyi Baths from the payment window. We just sat there staring at the grandeur of it all!!! All ages, shapes and sizes crammed into speedos and bikinis. SO MUCH FUN!!!!

I must also make mention that there don't seem to be a lot of razors available in Hungary. :) Of course we didn't have swimming gear so after a little persuasion, we were able to get "appropriate" suits. And our "towels" were more like table cloths.

But it was truly an amazing experience! The baths are all hot springs and are various temperatures. Some have jets, others waterfalls, and some have chess tables right in the water. Mind you, it was winter. But how great to sit in these amazing baths, with such beautiful buildings all around us. :) WE LOVED IT!!!! It was truly the best thing about Budapest!

So afterwards, we wandered back towards the city center and ran into a mini Transylvanian castle--really it was built as a replica. NICE!!! That happens to me a lot--you know just wandering through woods and run into huge, old and amazing things.

And then we walked back to town, through Hero's square or monument (??). It was really amazing!!! I loved these statues in the middle--Hungarians ready to take on the world!!
And that's really it for the pictures I have. Other highlights include going to the Terror museum which was inside the former home of the Black Arrow (i think -- or something like that) party--which was the Hungarian Nazi party, and then later the Hungarian Communist home. Not a lot of good things went on in this building. We missed a lot of what it was all about b/c of the language barrier--but the lighting and sounds and music and feelings were so incredible that we didn't feel like we really needed English to be able to understand everything. It was really interesting!

Since Christy and Caro left, we decided to rebel and go to all American restaurants! haha Shiloh had been in Europe for almost a month so she was ready for some mozerella sticks! :) So we went to TGIFridays for dinner! And then back to the hotel to pack.....

Shiloh left early to go back to Frankfurt for a couple days, but I didn't leave until Monday afternoon--so Monday morning greeted me w/a major rainstorm--so amazing! But then shortly after, the sun came out and so I snapped this little pic--the amazing view of the Danube from our room. So unbelievable!

My flight home was fairly uneventful....I got really sick though. That wasn't too fun. And JFK was a complete nightmare! By the time I got to SLC I couldn't wait to get off the I rushed and LEFT MY TRIP JOURNAL BEHIND!!! I'm so sad!! I was sooo good about writing in it. :( But in the end, at least I have my blog!

It was truly the trip of a lifetime!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Krakow, Poland

Ok it's time for another update....

We arrived in Krakow at 6am on Thanksgiving 6 inches of snow on the ground! After leaving Prague, which we all fell in love with, it was a pretty rude awakening. I don't know about the others, but I really started thinking WHAT HAVE WE DONE! But luckily, amazing things were in store.....

So after we found our apartment (which is too painful of a story to relate....look for pictures later in this post) we headed to Auschwitz. I'm still pretty much in awe of this experience. Here's a pic of the main entrance that you will probably recognize.

I really took that w/my own camera. For some reason it looks unreal to me--like a post card or something. It was almost spooky that when we were leaving, there were no other people around so I got these pictures at dusk w/out any strangers in them.

These are the was pretty awesome to go here on Thanksgiving Day. It was a pretty stark contrast of everything I have to be thankful for! It seems weird, I am sure, that I am not going into more detail but really it's too gross to put here. We didn't really take that many pictures either. But after months of thinking about this and a lifetime of watching movies about WWII, etc., it was just an extremely touching experience. I am so glad we made the effort to go!!

That night we went to a yummy Polish restaurant for a delish Thanksgiving dinner!!! I actually had turkey--which didn't look anything like turkey. But it was good. Here's Christy and Caro holding up their dinner--which I can't remember what it was but Shiloh had it too so one of you will have to comment what it was that you ate. :)

So the next morning we had to check out of our maze, I mean apartment. Which was really cute and right on the main square. But that night we left on the train again so we had to check out early. I snapped a few pics so you can get an idea of what a pain it was to get to our apt. These pics still don't do it justice: through a door, up stairs, down stairs, around the corner.....oh and they have these trick many times in either direction do you turn? Such fun!!

So after we stored our luggage for the day, we headed down to Floianska street, which is the shopping street, so to speak. The street runs from what used to be the outer wall of the city, to the main square in the center. This pic is taken from outside the wall, and then down the street. It was a really fun, funky, happy part of town. I LOVED IT! We did lots of fun stuff there too....
....browsed an art gallery (set up on the inside of the wall by art students)....

Shopped at Promod--a store I love going to in Europe. Majorly cute girls on this street w/cool style....e.g. this hair cut! And i bought my amazing silver handbag here too (in Tally Weijl)---which i will have to post later since somehow i manage to NOT have any pics of it yet....

We also went to McValut--truly the coolest McDonald's I've ever seen. My mom thinks it is actually McPrison though....

...and we ate the most delish Kebabs!!!!!Then after shopping....we headed back to the Old Town Square, went into a church which was amazing, but sadly all the towers in this city are closed for the winter. :( So we went to Cloth Hall--which is the big building behind us in this photo. It's just a totally huge, awesome market! And this is where we passed the rest of the daylight! :) We were pretty tired and needed a day like was amazing!!!

We spent at least 3 hours here, shopping for ourselves, and for souvenirs. This is the booth where I bought some nativities...I love this pic and all that you can see in it--mostly what you are seeing are different variations of nativities. Cloth Hall was probably 100 or so booths exactly like this!! But some were Amber, some were handbags, some were clothes. Amazing! :)

A better view of Cloth Hall....

And dinner that night.....where I had "probably the best" pizza I've ever had. :) Actually it probably really was the best.

And train ride #3. This time we had one compartment w/3 bunks, and one by itself. So lucky me spent the night w/non-English-speaking Slovakian woman..... the party took place here, before I went to my own compartment. Here's me and Caro taken by Shiloh from the top bunk. :)
The coolest things about this train ride were:
  • The bed was more cushy and comfy
  • We had awesome down comforters and complimentary water to drink
  • We met some cool people
  • We were finally experienced train travelers and used to it all
  • Slovakian roommate got out around 4am so I had the compartment to myself so I opened the window and did a freeze out!
  • and maybe the best thing: we got two stamps in our passports both times we crossed borders!!! plus Caro's fave thing was the passport guys didn't speak english but they did say "Bye Bye" when they left. haha :) so funny!

Only one more trip posting to go....Budapest for the 2nd time....and you won't want to miss it--trust me! :)