Monday, December 29, 2014

2014: a year at a glance

Time flies when you're having fun! Honestly, I think it just flies no matter what. I can't believe 2015 is just a few days away. What a year 2014 has been! As I transfer birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, and appointments to my 2015 planner, I have enjoyed looking back at the past year. *Also, this is my second year using Emily Ley's Simplified Planner & I love it! You should check them out!* This is just one of the many reasons I like keeping an agenda-- not only does it keep me organized for the future, it provides a great way to reflect on where we have been. Here's a glance back at 2014:

-first day of work in my first position as a dietitian
-we traveled to Texas with Dustin's work

-lots of Illinois wintery weather meant using 4wheel drive & the fireplace often
-lots of learning & growing in my new role as a dietitian

-March was full of madness & we enjoyed cheering on the CATS

-we had fun doing some updates around the house with the help of our family
-Dustin & I were baptized together, a moment I'll treasure forever
-we started our first garden

-I was diagnosed with a tick-borne illness, thankfully my coworkers encouraged me to see a doctor
-we traveled to celebrate two beautiful weddings of loved ones in California & in Tennessee

-we cheered for the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium a couple of times
-we received an opportunity to move from Illinois back home to KY
-many meals were enjoyed with produce from our garden

-we celebrated our 2nd anniversary
-we learned that we were expecting a baby
-I celebrated my 25th birthday

-we shared the news of our little one coming with our family
-we traveled to Florida for a work trip
-we celebrated another sister-friend's wedding in KY
-we put our house up for sale

-we shared the exciting news of Baby C with everyone
-we went to St. Louis for a fun concert & time with friends
-I started working as needed at a hospital back home in KY

-we finalized the sale of our home in IL & moved in with some hospitable friends in KY
-we found out Baby C is a GIRL
-we celebrated Dustin's 28th birthday

-Dustin went on a hunting trip
-I attended a week long course to become a certified lactation counselor
-we counted our blessings & ate tons of dressing with family & friends for Thanksgiving

-I received my letter stating I passed my CLC exam
-Dustin hunted anything that flies
-our puppy sisters, Callie & Chloe, turned 1
-we played Dirty Santa, drank lots of hot chocolate, & celebrated the birth of our Savior with family & friends

By no means is this an complete list of the highlights of the year. It would be an even longer post to try to include all of the laughter shared, tears shed, prayers lifted, & memories made. This year has been more than we could ever ask or imagine, which is exactly how our God works according to Ephesians 3:20. Thank you Lord for your faithfulness & provision. I am always amazed by & thankful for your mercy, grace, & love.

Looking ahead to 2015: we cannot wait to find a home to call our own, welcome our baby girl into the world, & continue to seek Christ & share His love.

Have a very Happy New Year, y'all!

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. 
{Ephesians 3:20-21}

Sunday, December 07, 2014

7 on the 7th: a few of my favorite things

7 on the 7th is a monthly post in which I share seven of my favorites with you. I always love when others share their favorites & I hope you do too! I chose the number seven and the 7th of each month because of the love I developed for that number once we set our wedding date, 07.07.12. I love that we continue to stumble across special meanings to or connections with the number seven. Some months I try to have a theme while other months I share a random compilation of sorts. This month I'm going smorgasbord style...

1. revlon colorstay gel envy nail enamel
I am a huge fan of getting a manicure and pedicure. Dustin (aka the Budget Police) is not which means mostly DIY manicures for me! Revlon Colorstay Gel Envy polish lasted a good week before noticeably chipping. I went with "Hold 'Em" which is a deep purple, and love it! They have several other colors I would like to try. Walgreens happened to have a coupon for $3 off two bottles so I snagged the Diamond Top Coat while I was there. I have been really pleased with the durability of the polish and love the rich color!

2. sparkly green earrings by melanie shankle
These next two favorites could easily be their own post but I wanted to include them as favorites instead. Sparkly Green Earrings, a memoir of motherhood tales, is so encouraging and uplifting. Melanie Shankle is the author of Big Mama blog, which is nice for a daily dose of her humor. I debated holding off on reading Sparkly Green Earrings until after our little girl arrives but I just couldn't wait. I am glad I didn't. I loved this book. Few people can combine sentiment, scripture, and sarcasm in such a beautiful, hilarious way.

3. the antelope in the living room by melanie shankle
This book is to marriage, what Sparkly Green Earrings is to motherhood. Hilarious, genuine, and honest. I laughed until I literally cried, which really doesn't take much for a pregnant woman, but Big Mama is seriously funny. She has the ability to share her experiences of motherhood and marriage in a way that leaves you feeling inspired without being intimidated. Both books are such easy reads. I can't wait for her next book about friendship to be released next year!

4. bacon wrapped dates
When I read Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist last year, I shared a couple of the recipes I loved from the book here on the blog. One that has been on my list to try is her Bacon Wrapped Dates. This year for Thanksgiving we finally did it! They are delicious! The perfect blend of salty and sweet. The recipe couldn't be easier, which makes it even better.
8oz package of dates
4oz goat cheese
12-14 strips of bacon
Slice the dates in half from top to bottom. Also cut the strips of bacon in half. Spoon some of the goat cheese into the dates. Wrap in bacon. Bake for 25 minutes at 400. Enjoy warm or room temperature. 

5. advent readings
I so love this special time of year. Last year I followed along with Ann Voskamp's Advent book, The Greatest Gift. This year I was excited when she released a new family Advent devotional and ordered while it was on sale. Even though I can't wait for our baby girl to be in our arms as we study and read about Jesus' birth, I am really enjoying this tradition we are starting now. I love love love Advent! 

6. trader joe's cookie butter cups
What's not to love about cookie butter and dark chocolate!? These delectable treats pair so well with a cup of coffee. I enjoy indulging in a sweet morsel every now and then. If you do too, make your way to the nearest Trader Joe's. 

7. gift bags
I love pretty wrapping paper & beautiful homemade bows, however, my gift wrapping is not my gift. Which makes a cute gift bag my BFF. Plus, I love the functionality of a gift bag. You can easily carry your gift home. Another perk: they're reusable, so basically a gift that keeps on giving. Of course, you have to watch for when the corners are crumpled and the handles are falling off. At that point, it's time to part ways. I picked up a few darling polka dotted bags at TJMaxx & love finding pretty tissue papers to spruce up more simple bags.

What are you loving right now? Do we share any favorites? 

Thursday, December 04, 2014

life of a hunter's wife

rifles & carharts, cabelas & camo,
waders & antlers, duck calls & ammo,
a day's limit of waterfowl tied up with string,
these are a few of my husband's favorite things

the first time dustin took me hunting was while we were dating. i may or may not have shown up to his parent's house bright & early, fresh from the shower. his response was "what is that smell!? are you wearing perfume!?" well duh. what girlfriend doesn't want to smell good for their boyfriend!? how was i supposed to know that you should either be odorless or smell like deer urine while hunting?! nevertheless, we trekked over to the deer stand & proceeded to wait for a few hours with no luck. apparently deer don't find vanilla body lotion an attractive or natural scent. i also have yet to receive another invitation to go hunting.

i've always admired my husband's love for the outdoors, despite the hard time i give him for leaving me early in the morning. i may not fully grasp the thrill of waking before dawn to spend hours outside in the cold and sometimes wet conditions but i appreciate the fact that he, along with many others in our neck of the woods, do. i've learned that the hunting seasons go quickly so it's important for him to take advantage of the time, even if it means him being gone for days. what i haven't convinced him of yet is that i need to plan a spa getaway with the girls that coincides with his week long hunting excursions. he can hunt for the perfect buck or duck; i will hunt for the perfect nail color.

since dating & marrying dustin i have definitely expanded my palate & culinary abilities. growing up my meme prepared fried venison occasionally but only a handful of times that i recall. my mom could easily be a vegetarian & the thought of bambi or daisy duck being on her plate could bring her to tears. she struggles with beef & chicken too! i, on the other hand, need my meat sources of protein, which has now expanded to include deer, duck, and the occasional quail/pheasant/dove. deer stew, deer chili, & deer meatloaf have all been somewhat mastered. ground deer meat is pretty versatile and can be used for just about any recipe calling for ground beef. duck is still in the works. our favorite ways to prepare it: wrapped in bacon & covered in brown sugar or stuffed with cream cheese & jalepenos. seriously, what wouldn't be enjoyable with those ingredients?! i'm hoping to branch out a bit, though. his uncle makes a delicious duck stew & while in san antonio this past january we had some wonderful duck gumbo. i've learned that brining & marinading are absolutely essential. one time i skipped that step when attempting to prepare pheasant, or maybe it was quail. it was so bad, the dogs wouldn't even touch it.

being a hunter's wife is pretty awesome. if a situation ever arose where we had to fend for ourselves, i'm confident & glad he could do it. while i don't deck out in camo on a regular basis (ok ever), i do keep a pair of his hunting gloves in my coat for those super cold mornings. sure i miss him during the long hunts, but i think there's some truth to that old saying: absence makes the heart grow fonder. i also think it's important for both spouses to have their own hobbies & interests. last, but certainly not least, it's nice that he puts food on the table, both figuratively & literally.

are you married to a hunter? or maybe you are a huntress yourself! what are your favorite aspects of this role? any favorite recipes?