Monday, November 30, 2015

Finally...Christmas Season Is Here!

How was your (hopefully, long) weekend?

Besides a minor, pregnancy-induced hormonal fit that I had on Friday, our weekend was great. I'm going to blame it on being overly tired from all the festivities on Wednesday & Thursday...that's okay, right? 

I've always loved the weekend of Thanksgiving because it is always filled with family and friends, everyone is so laid back and relaxed. It's just a good time! 

The next best part is decorating the house, inside and out. And we always end up getting our tree. 

We didn't see our favorite photographer this year, so these are Kelly's mad skills with an iPhone :) Here is our tree from last year

It's been funny these past few weeks, we've spent a lot of time saying "This is our last time ever doing this alone!" 

And nothing is more official than having stockings for the whole family, right? I got one for each of us last month at Hobby Lobby when they were having their 50% off Christmas sale. They ended up being only $6.00 a piece - score! Since we don't have a fireplace mantel, I'm going to screw some hooks onto an old piece of barn wood and hang it with the stockings above our pellet stove. 

When do you put up your tree? Real or fake (no judgements, it's the Christmas spirit that counts!)? To be honest, we have one real and three, small, fake ones :) 

Hope you have a wonderful day.

Don't forget, it's Cyber Monday. Make sure to check if there's something you've been really saving for! 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, 1937. Photo: Walter Kelleher
Good Morning!

Can we just take a moment to appreciate that nose? 

Will you be watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade? My sister and I are going to be baking pies and dinner rolls while it's on. It's one of my favorite traditions, the smells of fresh cooking food and baked goods while the parade is on. And being dog lovers, we never miss the National Dog Show either. It always seems to set the festive mood for the rest of the weekend.

Lately I've been saying that our little girl can arrive anytime now. While talking this morning with Grandma L, I told her that now baby can wait until next week to come because we've got too many fun plans this weekend. She just laughed as we talked about how I have absolutely no control over it. It's hard! I'm realizing that I really like to have control over things in my life - more so, things going on with my body. So for the next couple of weeks, I'm going to try and not think about when she's coming. (yea, right)

Thank you for following along on my blog, I always look forward to hearing your comments. I really enjoy creating this little space and appreciate you following along. 

Here's some history on the Thanksgiving Day parade (see if you can spot some of the oldest balloons!)

Monday, November 23, 2015

Chickens in the Snow

We had our first snow this weekend and it was wonderful. The first snowfall always feels so magical, no matter how old I get, the feeling of waking up in the middle of the night to the first snowfall always makes my heart beat a little bit faster with Christmas magic. 

I popped right up out of bed Saturday morning, grabbed my camera and went outside. It was our chicken's first snow and I couldn't wait to see how they were going to act. 

Now I know where the term 'don't be a chicken' comes from! 

That's as far out as they would come. They refused to step foot in the snow. 

Then Kelly grabbed one and stuck her in the snow. She just looked completely unamused and refused to budge, he decided to take pity on her and put her back in the coop. 

Then we discovered that all they needed was a shoveled path! So simple! I mean, we can totally come out every morning after a snowfall and just shovel paths around the yard specifically for our spoiled sissy chickens! not happening. 

Apologies for the bad quality of this picture, but these were our three brave little chickens who actually got out and about in the snow, they're on their way back to the coop here. 

So that was their first weekend in the snow. The snow is, sadly, suppose to melt off today which I guess is a good thing because we have a few things that we'll be doing to improve their outdoor run and give them a bit more snow-free ground to play on. 

Do you have chickens? How are they in the snow? 

The Word I'm Trying to Ditch

There's a word I've been using more and more lately, and the more I notice it, the more I use it. I've used the delete button on my keyboard multiple times in blog posts to get rid of this annoying little word. I kick myself when I'm talking and it comes out of my mouth. 

The culprit: 'just'.

I just want... I just think... I just mean... I just have to... I just feel... 

It's almost as if by saying the word 'just' that you are demeaning the next part of your sentence. Especially with an opinion, like when you say 'I just think that...' Whatever it is you think now has less value because of that silly little word. You sound ten times more confident saying 'I think that...' instead of 'I just think...'

So here's my challenge to you: quit saying 'I just'. See how much more confident and assertive you feel when you kick that word to the curb. 

Friday, November 20, 2015

Have a Lovely Weekend

How was your week? The double rainbow from above happened on Wednesday and was absolutely gorgeous, it was the biggest, brightest rainbow I've ever seen. Followed by the prettiest sunset! 

Deer season opened this sunday and Kelly shot us two deer, so we're pretty stocked up in our freezer and it should last us until next season. We have a pretty relaxed weekend coming up with...cross your fingers, drumroll...snowfall!

Hope you all have a great weekend! Here are some links to enjoy...

Tried this recipe and it was delicious.

Simple, rosemary wreath place cards. (Could dual as napkin rings!) 

Fascinating video on how cranberries grow and are harvested.

An extremely pregnant women with a few questions for motherhood maternity customer service desk.

Home made peanut butter dog treats.

Really want to see this movie.

A new turkey brine recipe.

The 'official' Black Friday website.

**Also, I'm going to add the quote of the week that came from my sister. 
--"If I was your husband, I would want to cuddle you all the time because you're so fluffy!"

Thank you, thank you very much. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Thankful Thursdays

A cup of tea in the morning (or afternoon, or night...)

The barn, where everyone is loved and we all feel like family. 


Hallmark Christmas movies. 

Getting together with old friends. 

A safe harvest season.

Spa nights at sister's house. 

Michigan weather where it snows one day, then is 60 degrees the next.

Extra cheery attitudes around the Holidays.

Black yoga pants that I can stay in all day. 

What are you feeling extra grateful for this week?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Holiday Gift Guide: For the Hostess (When You're Not Sure What They Might Like)

Welcome to the first installment of this year's Holiday Gift Guide! 

Holidays are full of parties and different social events. You might not always have a personal relationship with the hostess to know her style, but here are some unique gifts that could work for anyone...

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Holiday Gift Guide

Can you believe it's that time of the year again? Tomorrow I'll be starting my holiday gift guides, which I'll be posting every Wednesday. I have so much fun compiling these lists, I hope you enjoy! 

You can find last year's gift guides hereherehere and here.

Monday, November 16, 2015

You Know It's Time To Buy A Maternity Shirt When...

You start looking like Gloria from Modern Family. And I don't mean in the Va Va Voom kind of way.

The other day, I was telling my sister how I finally caved and bought a few maternity shirts. Reason being this. I was out in the pole barn last week sanding a couple of boards when, all of a sudden, my belly felt cold. Like, really cold. So I looked down and lo and behold- my stomach is just hanging out! Yea. Not pretty.

This is the impression I like to do for my sister that gets her rolling every time...I shake it and everything.

But then she reminded me of Modern Family. Remember the episode when Gloria was pregnant for Joe and they were all trying to get her to realize that she needed to update her wardrobe?

That was me. Just chilling with my belly out. 

So that, folks, that is how I knew I needed to get some maternity shirts.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Happy Friday (the 13th)!

This picture kills me. Sometimes they remind me of Simba & Scar at the end of The Lion King. 

What are you lovelies up to this weekend? It's been windy as all heck for the past two days, our poor chickens look bewildered standing out in the rain and wind, every time I walk outside they come running as if to say 'help me!'. Poor little babes. 

My sister in law is in a Mary Poppins play this weekend, we will be heading to that at some point. Kelly is finishing up harvest this weekend in record time - they are usually finished around the first week in December, so it's pretty exciting that he'll have a little more time this year. 

Here are some links, if you're interested.

Craving something bad for you? Check this out.

This chain restaurant is the first to try out a 'no-tipping' policy.

I'm constantly referencing this guide for how to cook different grains. 

Had this porn for pregnant ladies site up the other day and got caught by my husband! 

Want to try this delicious looking recipe for a skinnier pumpkin spice latte.

Simple, beautiful Thanksgiving table centerpiece (would be a cute hostess gift too!)

Make this paw print ornament for your pup out of salt dough. 

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Thankful Thursdays

I thought I'd start a mini-series this month, being that it's the month to give thanks and be giving. Being grateful is important all the time, but it always gets special emphasis around the holidays. So, in light of all that biz, here is a list of what I've been thankful for lately.

Having a healthy pregnancy. 

A healthy, active baby girl in my tummy.

A hardworking, healthy, loving husband who keeps our home safe and happy. 

Trustworthy vehicles to get us back & forth to where we need to go. 

Having a comfortable home to call our own.

Living in the country and having sweet, sweet neighbors.  

Our four-legged family members who greet us with a tail wag and a kiss.

Our two-legged family members who provide us with eggs to fill our bellies. 

What are you feeling thankful for lately? 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Pregnancy: Tips for Second Trimester Bliss

During my first trimester, everything I read said that the second trimester would bring more energy and less nausea. 

Needless to say, I thought people were insane. What, my body just knows when it's been three months? Then - BAM - I magically feel better? No way. 

Yes way. These people do not lie. I remember being sick every single day, then waking up one day and feeling pretty good. That day I did get sick a couple of times, but overall felt pretty okay. It went on like that for about two more days then, just like magic, I felt one hundred times better.

By this time for me it was June, just beginning summer in Michigan. Here are a few things that helped to make the next three months comfortable.

1.) Maternity Shorts

I bought two pair. A grey denim pair for daily use that were a shorter length and had just two small, stretchy panels on the side that were easily mistaken for pockets. No belly panel and not one person realized they were maternity shorts. The second pair I bought for the barn. They were a longer length and had the full belly band cover - with all of the bending, stretching, turning and twisting, I didn't need any of my front or back accidentally popping out!

2.) Forever 21 Tank Tops

These camis are the best. They are thin and come in a ton of different colors, but my favorite thing about them is how nice and long they are. Instead of spending $10 or more for those shirt extender bands that only work as shirt extenders, I recommend investing in a few of the F21 tank tops. 

3.) Maternity Pillow

My sister surprised me with a full body, maternity sleeping pillow. It's great! I even took mine camping with us to Silver Lake. There are several options out there for different shaped pillows and it will make your nights much easier having one, especially when you get into the third trimester. One tip, don't throw away the nice zip-up bag it comes in, save it for storage. 

4.) Air Conditioning

Okay, I realize that if you don't have air conditioning, you are most likely not going to put it in solely because of your pregnancy. I feel for those poor mommas who have to spend their third trimester in the hot summer months. 

In June, we had our family reunion in Charleston where we all played 18 rounds of golf. I was on a team with one of my cousins and our grandpa, and by the 17th hole I just couldn't play any more, I was dripping hot and so uncomfortable. That was when my saving grace grandpa did something wonderful. He dipped one of the golf towels in our cooler full of ice water, rang it out and draped it over the back of my neck. Today, I can still remember how absolutely amazing and refreshing that felt. Same idea here, if you're going out, take a frozen water bottle with you. When you get hot, you can rest it on the back of your neck or hold it up to your face. 

One of my favorite things to do is sit outside and read, so I just moved my chair under our giant shade tree, filled up our kiddy pool with ice cold water from the hose and stuck my feet in while I read. If there's no breeze, take a fan outside - you might get some laughs, but who cares, you're pregnant! Try anything to keep you from becoming overheated because, when that happens, life becomes unbearable for you and everyone around you. 

5.) Lumbar Pillow or Stand Up Desk

When working at the office, it suddenly got quite uncomfortable to sit at a desk for eight hours. My back would get quite sore, which never happened before. 

I found what helped is when I took an extra sweater and rolled it up to form a sort of lumbar pillow to set behind my lower back in my office chair. This lumbar back support pillow would work perfectly for something more long term than a sweater.  Another option is to use a stand up desk. I was able to use this standing desk, which was awesome because it sits on top of your current desk and is adjustable. That meant I could stand up for an hour, then it easily drops back down so that I could sit for a while.   

So that's it! A pretty short and sweet list because, like I said, I felt much better the second trimester. A few clothing items to make you slightly more comfortable in your growing body and remembering to stay cool in the summer months. 

What season was your second trimester? Any suggestions for making it more comfortable? 

Friday, November 6, 2015

Maternity Leave

I'm on it! Officially as of today :) 

With just four and a half weeks until this little girl's predicted arrival, I decided to take the last session of the year off. It happened to be perfect timing too, because it's been getting too much to throw saddles around, arena set up, mounting & dismounting riders and all of the other physical aspects of being a therapeutic instructor. 

So this will be crazy. I haven't had four weeks off since I was seventeen. And in all actuality, it's more than four weeks because I'm not going back until the end of January, but I figure getting acquainted with our little one and learning the ropes of being a momma and a three person family is going to be a 24-7 job in itself. 

Crossing my fingers that my to-do list, combined with a good amount of afternoon naps, will keep me busy enough that I don't drive everyone and their brother up a wall! Wish me luck...actually, wish my husband luck :) 

Hoping you have a great weekend! 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Candy Cookies

Are you ever at a loss as to what to do with all of your candy from Halloween?

I mean, of course you could just shove it in your mouth every time you walk past the candy bowl...that's what I like to do. But I figured if I magically turned all of that candy into cookies, we could eat half and give the rest away. Or put them in the freezer for later :)

Here is the recipe I used from Sally's Baking Addiction.

Instructions were to chop the baby Butterfingers, but in an effort to save yourself from extra dishes, feel free to use a meat tenderizer. I gave them all two light whacks and they were perfectly crumbly. Oh, also, I used ten instead of eight...rebel yell.

Feel free to make a gooey chewy cookie tower while you're at it.

They turned out melt-in-your-mouth delicious. Please don't take my word for it, you have to try. It's only 6 ingredients. You probably already have them in your cabinet. (Yes, I moonlight as a professional cookie pusher)

The recipe says to use an ungreased cookie sheet, but you will have to grease it or use a sheet of aluminum foil, because these puppies definitely stuck to the ungreased sheet.

Here are a few more recipes using other chocolate candies you might have left over.

Kit Kat Cake (say that five times fast)

Now, if only there was something to do with banana Laffy Taffy. Come back and let me know if you try any!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Pregnancy: Surviving the First Trimester

The first trimester was not fun. I suppose that the first month and a half really doesn't count, because I didn't even know I was pregnant until I was about a week late and took a test. 

About 2 months was when it started to be not so fun. That was when the sickness started. 'Morning' sickness...ha. 'All day all night' sickness for is more like it. Here are a few things that helped me through, in case you're in the same position as I was. 

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