Monday, December 27, 2010

58 and sunny

We are here!
We arrived without much hassle (finally no airport story!) to our house in Key West.

As you may recall, we were making some improvements to the lower level of our house by taking out some storage units and apartment. Well, it is finished, and we love it!
We tore down walls, put in pavers and finished off the ceilings with fans.
We still have a fence and gate to install, which we are hoping to have finished soon, but for now, this is such an improvement. It is so pretty!

I hope that everyone enjoyed their holiday. We certainly had a good gathering with our families.
Looking forward to the new year ahead of us...while still enjoying these last few days of 2010.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

I'm ready early!

Wow, for the first time in many years, I am bought, wrapped and ready to go for Christmas!
There are a couple that MUST wait for Christmas Eve for various reasons...
but really, other than those few, I am ready!

I am so happy to be finished. It means that now I have all of tomorrow to spend as my family and I want! We do not have to run around for anything (except to pick up a watch I had to have repaired) , think of any other presents....nothing.
Just relaxing with my husband, children and family...
(thank you to my husband for finding my Mom's was the hardest and last present that I had to buy this year!)

oh, and go to the Steelers game again!

I hope that you are having a blissful holiday season!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Pittsburgh times ten!

We had a Pittsburgh bonanza this afternoon!
My husband and I bought 2 tickets to see the Steeler game...
(yes, on top of the ones we had bought months ago for this upcoming Thursday!)

We had so much fun and had a true Pittsburgh feast...
Primanti's Bros. sandwiches, snowy flurries for the game, and my Steelers!

We lost, but that's ok...I was there! and it was GREAT!
Let's hope Thursday's night game has a better final score...
but the fun will be even greater because we will be sitting with family!

Go Steelers!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Airport Story #2 and #3

We did not make the flight...
not even close.

Ok here is how it played out:
the flight was supposed to leave Atyrau at 9:30.
We had a connection in Istanbul to London at 1:10.

When I realized we would not make the connection I got on the phone to make the inevitable change. We switched to a flight at 4:40...
for the measly fare of over $2,700.

Well, we missed that connection by 14 minutes. Yes, we were delayed in Atyrau for 7 hours. The flight left Atyrau at 4:30 and arrived in Istanbul at 4:40 (due to time change differences, these are all times local to the landing city). By the time I got to the transfer desk, they informed me that British Airways left 14 minutes before. Now, I am not sure why they didn't check for incoming passengers, seeing as we already had our boarding, I know of at least 2 more people expecting to go on that flight.

Anyways, got on the phone again, mind you, with roaming charges on a cell phone (can't wait to see that bill, NOT). They were nice ladies that were helping us luckily. They switched us to a Turkish Airways flight, costing somewhere close to $1,000. We got into London at 10:30 at no Lion King, no Eye...
just a hotel, midnight snack of cookies and ice cream and to sleep for barely 5 hours to wake up for the next flight.

Woke up for breakfast at 5...and woke up is relative, seeing as I woke up every half hour through the night anyways. Had breakfast and went to Heathrow Airport. Fairly calm sailing until...
the attendant could not find the flight for us to NY. So, we went to the ticketing desk for help. They claim that when the flights were being switched, they transferred us to a British Airways flight to NY around the same time. Once again, they were nice ladies and helped us get back onto our original flight to NY on American Airlines. Relatively simple right?
Well, seemed so...until we went to collect our bags in NY (you have to collect your bags when entering the 1st US city from an International destination...even if they are checked through to your final destination) bags.
So, we mosey on over to the luggage desk, and they inform us that the bags are still in London, waiting for a flight to Chicago that will get them in there at 9:30 in the evening. Then at this point, they will send them on to Pittsburgh...
seriously people, this has not been the best trip for me.
Now, my family is incredibly calm and understanding, but I am not that calm.

I am looking forward to getting to Pittsburgh and relaxing, but then, I guess I have to do some early Christmas shopping, (or quick laundry), until our bags arrive.

'tis the season

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Airport Story #1

You knew it was coming:
the start of the Christmas travel season...
and my airport stories.
I decided to number this one, because I have this feeling that there may be more than one!

We were set to leave today, Tuesday at 9:30 am. We were connecting in Istanbul and then onto London. We had lovely plans to spend the evening in London riding the London Eye

and then off to watch The Lion King musical. Then our travels would continue the following morning through JFK and finally into Pittsburgh.
Well, as of going to sleep last night, (Monday), the flight was already delayed, but only by a couple of hours, still allowing us time to make the connection. Unfortunately, when I woke up this morning to check on the estimated departure, it is delayed even further.
We will miss our connection to London.
There is another flight leaving Istanbul later, but I fear that we may miss that one also. Let's try to keep positive thoughts going so that we make that flight!
At least then we may still get to take the children on the Eye..

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Shutterfly Free 50

Hello blogger friends and fans...
yes, it is that time of year again. The time when memories are cherished just a little more, warm feelings invade our thoughts and hearts, and hopefully, selflessness is a word that does not usually come in to my mind, but rather, the world becomes a bit more giving.

We all like to share our holidays with family and friends, and of course, sharing of ourselves through our blogs. So this year, I want to share with you my participation in a promotion by Shutterfly. For writing this post I am going to be able to receive 50 Christmas cards, for free!
This is not the first time that I use these cute cards that Shutterfly offers. I have used their Christmas cards for many years. I always seem to hear compliments from friends and family like...."Look how cute these cards are!" "We look forward to your card every year!"

Another favorite amongst our families are Shutterfly's calendars. Every year for Christmas we give each family member a calendar full of pictures from throughout our past year. Shutterfly is easy to use, so this calendar is as simple as uploading the pictures and finding the perfect arrangement for them. You also can personalize specific dates to reflect birthday, anniversaries and anything else you'd like to remember. Since we live so far away from our families, this is a perfect reminder of us each day when they look at our photos.

Shutterfly has also helped me in my gift giving...and not just for Christmas! My Mother and Mother in law have benefitted numerous times on Mother's Day. Shutterfly has helped me design photo mugs and even a cute purse with a photo of our children. Grandmas certainly LOVE that to carry around!

Well, Shutterfly has been there to help me! There are many more ideas for photo gifts also...
so take a look through their site, and find the perfect card, mug and gift that fits you and your family!

Thank you Shutterfly! Enjoy browsing friends!

Friday, December 10, 2010


The Ural River is starting to freeze!
I guess the weather is finally staying cool enough overnight that the freeze is setting in.

I hear that later in the winter season you can actually drive a car on this River!
Amazing, isn't it? I can't wait to have that photo opportunity!

Today's morning temp, when I took these pictures, was 19F, -7C

Thursday, December 9, 2010

counting down

I am in such a Merry mood...
I have been playing Christmas tunes and even doing some slight decorating
(all of my Christmas decorations are on their way here, so not much this year!)
with a few bits and pieces that I found at the local grocery store!

The kids had their first caroling and it was just slightly cold. Then they had their parties and Christmas concert. It is such a festive time of year, and I love it!

I think trees are one of my favorite images of Christmas...

Counting down until our travels
5 more days!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Different signs(not so wordless, though!)

Wordless Wednesday

I can only understand this to mean:

No sardines or bottles for the next 35M

From what I understand from folks that have lived here for a little longer than we have, especially during the winter months, when there is a lot of ice and snow, cold temperatures, and they are still fishing and enjoying the Ural River...
there is a lot of discarding of Vodka bottles and sardine cans!

Should be interesting!

Monday, December 6, 2010

My morning wake up

Seeing as we are 10 hours ahead of EST, I get to wake up a little early when my Steelers play an evening game.
I haven't posted about them much this year,
but last night's win was another great game between these two tough hitting football teams. I still have watched every game though I may not have enlightened you with the stats like I used to do!

My Steelers came out with the win and the lead in the AFC North:
Steelers 13
Baltimore Ravens 10

This was an important game, partially, it always is since Baltimore is in our division, but also because this year both teams were with 8 wins, 3 losses. This helped decide who is the leader going into the last few games before the playoffs.

I am excited also because we are going to the game on the 23rd against the Carolina Panthers.
It should be cold, and I am hoping for snow....I really want to be sitting in the stadium with snow flurries! I know, I am crazy right?! But that is Steeler football to me...
snowy, cold, rough and strong defense!
Go Steelers!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

December 1st

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas....
I so enjoy that song this time of year!

The air is getting chilly here. The days still have been incredibly warm, hovering around 54 degrees, unheard of for this time of year!
But today, my husband sent me a note of a winter weather advisory for an area fairly close to Atyrau! The night time wind chills are expected to drop well below zero and there is a chance of snow!
I am actually quite excited to experience this...even if it does mean the start of a long winter!

There are a few decorations going up around camp and around the city...I only have pictures of these blow up figures, but there are Christmas trees and lights hanging around, too.

We have caroling and Christmas concerts coming up this weekend...
exciting times are upon us;
including getting ready to leave for the US to spend Christmas with our families in a few weeks!

I love this time of year! ho, ho ho :)