Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Favorite Posts from 2014

Yo. So a lot happened in 2014.

Peaks and valleys and everywhere in between, although I have to say that this year was mostly peaks. Like, I keep waiting for a piano to fall out of the sky on to my head... but let's not jinx ourselves here.

I started this blog in the last days of July this year. It was something that I had wanted to do for quite some time, but just thought that I couldn't do it. So firstly, I would like to say Thank You.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading, commenting and supporting me in this adventure! I thoroughly enjoy sharing our little slice of life with you all, and love hearing your comments and feedback. You guys are the bomb. In the words of Joe Dirt, Keep on Keepin On!  \\m//

Here are my favorite posts from this first year of blogging, in no particular order. Hope you enjoy!

Silver Lake because it was my first post and my first trip to the dunes.

Part one, part two and part three or our kitchen project. It was the first major project that we completed together and we made it out alive! We're going to start ripping those top cabinets out in the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned!

Bear Lake, Colorado where we spent a day of our honeymoon hiking and took pictures of the beautiful scenery...and a hungry chipmunk :)

Competing at a recent Arabian show at MSU Pavilion for the first time since I was a little girl.

Remembering this weekend full of fishing, bonfires and friends.

A DIY corn swag how-to because it helps me remember what sunshine feels like.


And the weekend that we blazed a giant trail in the woods out back.

It's been so fun to be able to look back on the posts and see pictures, remembering everything that I otherwise might forget. Looking forward to the New Year and new posts to come!

Thank you all for your support. I hope you ring in the New Year safely and happily!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Happy Holidays

I have the next four days off of work I am just so excited to be able to relax and spend this Holiday Season with our loved ones. I'm wishing for lots of laughter and new memories. Whatever the Holidays may entail, I hope you enjoy them!

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Gingerbread Houses

I slept like a rock last night...actually, I'm pretty sure it was a sugar-induced coma.
The culprits? A couple teenage girls and gingerbread houses.
Kelly's sisters came over and we watched movies, ate popcorn, and got crafty. We built the houses using chocolate graham crackers and hot glue, which Honey was very upset about because, "How am I going to eat them if you hot glue them together?!"

We watched a few different movies, but my favorite was Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas. Kelly's mom has been talking about it we were finally all able to watch it together, it was hilarious. Madea is one funny lady.

Nicole made hers have a barn roof- and how cute is that little flower box?

And Allison's (yes, another Allison- we go by Thing 1 and Thing 2) gumdrop roof and necco walkway- adorable!

His grandma had been at his mom's house helping to make candles and when they were finished, they came over to visit.

You can't see Kelly, but he is sprawled out on the couch next to his mother. See, he likes to gripe and complain about the chaos- having to hook up the DVD player for us, moving the kitchen table into the dining room, us making a mess with all of the sprinkles, the dog's stinky breath while he's begging to be pet, his mother and grandma stopping over when all he wants is peace and quiet... but really, it's all pretend. He loves it. He had big manly plans to be out working in the pole barn, or upstairs wrapping presents, but where do you think he was all night? On that couch, watching movies and hanging out with us girls.  He gets all of the attention from all of the ladies in his life. He gets to pick on all of us and in return, we pamper him. And we just laugh because we've got his number.

When I took the girls home on my way to work the next morning, his mom sent me with a warm, fresh baked loaf of beer bread and homemade jam to share with the office. I tell you, between three of us we had that loaf gone before the end of the morning. Isn't that horrible? It was so yummy.

Christmas Traditions

Hello Lovelies :)

Today I wanted to talk about Christmas traditions.

My younger sister was born on Christmas Eve morning when I was just three years old. My grandma stayed with me during those days and nights while my parents were at the hospital, but luckily they were able to come home on Christmas day. I thought my sister was the greatest Christmas gift ever. On the home video from that day, we are all surrounding the tree in the living room, toasty in front of the fire. Mom would hand me a present to open, but then partway through my new baby sister would make a little peep, so I'd drop the gift and go look at her. Then I'd go back and continue to open my gift, but she would peep again and I'd run over to her. Needless to say, we sat in front of the tree just a little bit longer that year.

Once we got older, my parents wanted to make it a little more special so that her birthday didn't get lumped into Christmas. When she was old enough, they made a big deal about putting on a fancy dinner and she got to choose whatever she wanted for dinner. What did this little girl choose? Crab legs. Crab legs and artichokes. She's always been a high roller. Mom would get out all of her Chritsmas china and fancy silverware, we'd set the table in the living room- the living room with white carpet that we never ate or drank in (or walked in for that matter). Friends and family would come over and it was 'Happy Birthday', not 'Merry Christmas'. We'd have dinner, play games and watch sister open gifts after cake and ice cream. She was so sweet because after a night of it being all about her, she would let her other sisters open a small Christmas gift before going to bed.

I remember a few years of going to church and singing carols. I always loved it because I got to hold my own candle while we sang. Honey laughed at me the other day when I told him that I used to go caroling with our church when I was younger. I loved it! I wish people still went caroling. I mean, people are probably thanking The Lord that I'm not caroling, but it was fun!

So that's our tradition that has carried on steadily through the years. Mom's house on Christmas Eve for crab legs, prime rib and artichokes. We head home with full bellies that guarantee we're asleep when Santa comes.

As young girls, on Christmas morning we'd get up and run to the family room to open our stockings. After stockings, we ate a breakfast of French toast, then waited for grandma to open our gifts together. A couple years ago, mom broached the subject with us girls about trying a new recipe for Christmas morning. It was some egg casserole or something crazy and she was met with a resounding 'NO!' from all of us. Think we like to stick with our traditions?

When Kelly was younger, his family always watched 'It's a Wonderful Life' together. Then on Christmas day after opening gifts, they would make homemade pizzas and spend the day together.

I'm so very excited that we get to make these memories together now! I have a four day weekend and look forward to doing nothing but spending time with our friends, family and loved ones. 

We were watching a reality show called 'my obsession' the other day and they had a guy who celebrates Christmas every. single. day. Everyday.

Do you have any special traditions? Do you travel anywhere? Or maybe you stay home and drink too much eggnog? Whatever you do, I'd love to hear about it!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Overnight Visitor

The other day while sitting at work, my cell phone started ringing. I see that it's Kelly calling and when I answer, I hear "I JUST CAUGHT A LIVE ANIMAL"!

Of course, my response what "WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU CAUGHT A LIVE ANIMAL?!" I'm thinking....a deer? A raccoon? A rhinoceros?!

A pigeon. A white homing pigeon.

Isn't it sweet? There was a band on each of it's legs and one included a phone number. When honey called, an older gentleman answered from a town about 30 miles away. He explained that the bird had probably been released for either a wedding or a funeral (and we always thought they were romantic white doves) and that he'd really like to come pick up the bird, but he wouldn't be able to get to us until tomorrow. Imagine Kelly's enthusiasm at an overnight guest? 

These pigeons are trained to always find their way home, but sometimes a hawk or falcon will go after it so the poor bird gets all off track and tired- hence the reason that Kelly was able to walk right up to it and catch it.

Since he was still at the farm working, he put it in a live trap with some corn and a little dish of water. The big black barn cat was hungrily eyeing the bird, so he hung the trap up in the rafters with some rope (this poor bird, I'm telling you).

He brought the bird home where we put a little fluffy grass in there for him, then left him in the mudroom for the night.

When the gentleman came and picked him up from the farm the next day, the self-proclaimed 'city-boy' was blown away by all of the farm equipment, so he exchanged numbers with honey and is going to call next fall for a ride in the combine.

After a little research, I found that the common pigeon is actually a type of dove called the 'Rock Dove' so, technically, the pigeons they are releasing really are doves. Romance is back.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Monday, December 15, 2014

Christmas Ornaments

We started our first Christmas tradition last year while we were dating.

Confession: I stole the idea from a Hallmark movie.

We decided that, for a Christmas Gift each year, we pick out an ornament for the other person. The ornament has to represent a memory that we made together in the previous year. We open them together on Christmas Eve and hang them on the tree.

Last year was so fun. I loved opening this:

And remembering one of our first dates. We went with friends to an outdoor concert where they shut down the main four-way intersection in the middle of the town and set up a big stage. My cousins were there and they met Kelly for the first time- he also gave me one of our first kisses. You see- I hate PDA, so I should've known something was happening in my heart when I didn't even flinch!

From there, we all went on to the casino for gambling and a little 3am breakfast. I don't even know what time we ended up getting home, but I'm pretty sure everyone but the driver was asleep for the ride!

Then for his ornament:

Kind of weird and not very Christmas-y, I know. This represents the giant, thunderstorm-of-the-century that we got stuck in while on the lake that summer. Our pontoon was anchored next to my mom's out in the bay and we were all lounging in the water on our floats. All of a sudden out of nowhere, the wind kicked up and it started to sprinkle. As we doggy paddled back to our boat, the sky went black started pouring buckets. I hid under a towel while someone pulled up the anchor, then we booked it across the lake- rain pelting us like airsoft ammo. All of a sudden, my mom's pontoon comes speeding by us at mach 10 and we're all looking at eachother thinking how the heck are they going so fast? Turns out, we didn't have just one anchor down- we had two.

So we laughed and laughed and that summer, it kind of became the norm that most of our best times together happened in the rain. It was funny to take out the ornament this year, decorating our first tree together, and realize that on our wedding day, one of our best days, it rained and poured the entire day. I guess rain really is our thing!

I already have his ornament wrapped and ready for Christmas Eve... I can't wait to see what he picked out!

Until next time,

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Gift Guide: Your Best Friend Who Flies Across The Country For Your Wedding, Matches Her Underwear To Her Shirt, And Loves A Good Cocktail.

This week's Holiday Gift Guide? Your bestie, of course!

Festive, Simmering Potpourri Recipe

Scents are one of my favorite things about the holidays. The smell of pine needles and mistletoe. Peppermint sticks and hot chocolate. Sugar cookies and cinnamon pine cones. All of it. As a young girl, when our family decorated the house we always had a pot of potpourri simmering on the stove.

This year I tried my own recipe. It was kind of a 'find-anything-you-have-in-the-kitchen-that-smells-festive' kind of recipe, but oh did it smell yummy!

First, I peeled some Cuties, then added a couple cinnamon sticks. Then I cut two sprigs of evergreen from our Christmas tree and sprinkled in some allspice. I usually like to throw in an apple cut in half, but there weren't any at home and I wasn't all about running to the store for an apple.

Heavenly, I tell you. Honey came home and the first thing he did is ask what smelled so good.

To leave it simmering all day, I suggest making your potpourri in a small crock pot and leave the lid off. Just remember you'll need to add water at different intervals, please don't forget about it!

Have you tried this before? What do you throw in your pot?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Teaching My First Therapeutic Riding Lesson

It finally happened. After six years of volunteering, first with the Cheff Center, then the Allegan County Exceptional Equestrians (ACEE), and now Renew Therapeutic Riding Center, I have finally taught my first few lessons!

Was it one of the most overwhelming things I've ever done? Yes. But it was also one of the most exciting. This is something that I hope to continue for the rest of my life, so although I am very anxious to get more experience and improve with all aspects of teaching, I know I'm going to be learning for years to come. 

I'm currently in Phase II of my certification process. Phase I consists of passing two exams, completing CPR, First Aid & AED training, a skills checklist and procuring a mentor. As soon as that was completed, I recieved my Instructor in Training letter, which means I'm officially in Phase II- woohoo! Now onto 25 hours of student teaching, followed by a 2.5 day workshop, then passing certification- well, either passing or failing after being scored on personal riding as well as teaching a lesson.

For those of you unfamiliar with therapeutic horseback riding, here's a little information;

  • Equine-assisted activities and therapies (EAAT) are used by people around the world to assist with physical, cognitive, or emotional challenges.
  • For each horse and rider, there is at least one horse leader and up to two sidewalkers. That's a five-body team! Depending on the program, there are usually two or more riders per lesson. For example, a typical four-rider group would have one instructor, four horses, four riders and twelve volunteers. 21 independant bodies! And that's an example of just one lesson.
  • The body motion created when a person is seated on a walking horse closely mimics a human walking on their own. In fact, it's closer to our natural movement than anything a man-made machine could create. This helps riders with physical challenges work muscles that aren't able to be worked in their normal daily lives. It helps with flexibility, gaining muscle strength and balance.
  • Relationships formed between horse and rider lead to increased confidence, patience, and self-control. This happens naturally, as horses are living, breathing creatures with feelings and a mind of their own. The rider and horse learn to work together as a team.
  • Group lessons provide a positive enrivonment to improve social skills.
  • The ultimate goal of lessons are for the riders to become independant.
  • There are programs for wounded military veterans and active service personnel through Path Intl.'s Equine Services for Heroes (they've also partnered with Wounded Warrior Project)
  • In addition to riding, a few specialty programs include driving, vaulting, and hippotherapy.

The informative links provided in this post are from the official PATH, Intl. website. If you have time, please visit the website. Who knows, you might have to find a center near you!

Here is a little poem that's a favorite in the equine world...

I Saw A Child
by John Anthony Davies
I saw a child who couldn't walk,
sit on a horse, laugh and talk.
Then ride it through a field of daisies
and yet he could not walk unaided.
I saw a child, no legs below,
sit on a horse, and make it go
through woods of green
and places he had never been
to sit and stare,
except from a chair.
I saw a child who could only crawl
mount a horse and sit up tall
Put it through degrees of paces
and laugh at the wonder in our faces
I saw a child born into strife,
Take up and hold the reins of life
and that same child was heard to say,
Thank God for showing me the way.

Our First Christmas Tree

Together, that is.

I've always had a Christmas tree because I'm a normal, Christmas tree loving kind of gal. Kelly, on the weird other hand, was a nice mixture of Scrooge and the Grinch (I can say was now because his heart has grown three full sizes).

During the first year that we became friends, Christmas rolled around and he told me that he didn't plan on getting a tree. I understand maybe that's normal for a bachelor, but I went on to tease him about being a Grinch. So much so that one day he asked me to stop over. He met me outside and covered by eyes while he walked me inside. As soon as I stepped through the door, I could smell it. Greens! Not of the medicinal kind. I opened my eyes to a beautiful, freshly cut Christmas tree! That might have been when I started to fall in love.

Last year we were still living separately and went tree hunting with a few of our good friends. We cut one for my house and one for his. But this year, this year, we had the full tree-hunting experience, horses, bonfires and all!

Meg Day Photography

After we (Kelly) cut our tree and they shook off all of the loose needles and tied it up, we waited for the horse and wagon to load up our tree and ride back to the barn to pay. As the wagon pulled up, who should jump off but our wedding photograher! It was so nice to see her and her mom, and she was sweet enough to take a picture of Kelly and I to remember our 'first' tree cutting.

I try not to compare myself with others because I think it can be a nasty habit to get into, but sometimes it's so hard! On Instagram, I'm seeing all of these beautifully decorated trees with tree skirts and lovely wrapped presents underneath. Well, this tree has been up and decorated since Thanksgiving weekend. Notice the lack of tree skirt and wrapped gifts underneath? So that's on my to-do list tonight because this poor tree just looks so sad underneath! I am so very ready for a quiet night at home and I think a little spicey spiked eggnog will hit the spot and keep me nice and warm :)
How is this Holiday Season treating everyone so far?
I am sorry for the lack of posting lately. Life has been crazy busy (hello holidays!) I've been at the barn overtime lately and have finally started teaching! More on that soon....
Until then...xx

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Gift Guide: Your Kind-Hearted, Outdoorsy Husband Who Can Fix Just About Anything

Today's Holiday Gift Guide is for the lucky men in our lives. Not just for husbands or boyfriends, most of these ideas fit for brothers and friends as well. Take a look and you'll see why I say most...

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Making Memories

Hello Lovelies :)

I hope you all had a wonderful, meaningful Thanksgiving weekend. I was not ready to go back to work Monday. A nice, relaxing, four day weekend then Monday rolls around and I can barely open my eyes.

Remember this post about Thanksgiving traditions? A few suggestions were game playing and watching old home videos. By no doing of mine, we did both!

After we stuffed our faces with turkey at my moms, we played the name game. It's where each person writes a name on a piece of paper and you put them all in a bowl. It can be any name. Some from this past time were Rumpelstiltskin, Blues Traveler, Kim K., Snuffalufagus, Kevin get the picture. Then someone reads all of the names and each person gets a turn guessing who is who. If you guess the correct person, they are on your team and you get to help eachother. It gets a little tricky at the end because sometimes a name will get forgotten and there's no re-reading the names.

I will have you all know that for the final game, I won. I had everyone in the house on my team and Kelly was the only person left. Who was he? Bill Cosby. Winner Winner Turkey Dinner.


From there, we went on to Kelly's Aunt & Uncle's house where we got to see all of his family, dogs included. They have a German Shepard, a Mastiff, a three or four month old mini Austrailian Shepard and a Hound dog... I sincerely apologize right now for not photographing of all of that cuteness to share!

When we walked in, everyone was snuggled cozy in the family room watching old videos. They videos started from when his grandparents were dating, through them getting married and all the way until their youngest daughter (Kelly's Aunt) was born. There was no sound to the videos, but you could just feel all of the love by simply watching. It was so sweet to watch their interactions and the progression of life over so many years.

On the way home, Kelly and I were talking about the videos. I'll admit (although I blame it on one too many drinks) I was a little tear-eyed because they were so touching. We were talking about how the videos weren't about the clothes they wore. They weren't about how their houses were decorated. Not about how many hours per week they worked or getting that promotion. Not about having the best toys for their children, or buying the latest and greatest iPhone.

They were about family and love. Flirting with your husband while your kids play in the garden hose. Visiting your sister while her husband is in the service. Worrying that your daughter is going to topple off of the hammock because her 17 other cousins are also piled on. And okay, maybe a little bit about your grandpa's favorite old car in the driveway.

I think those family videos were the perfect reminder of what Thanksgiving is all about. Loving the people in your life. Being happy with what you have. Making memories that will last for generations to come.

I think it's safe to say that this has been the happiest Thanksgiving yet!
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