Favorite Things

diy fall wreath

I’ve loved fall before the advent of pumpkin lattes, the tall-boot trend and the  desire to add pumpkin to everything I stuff in my face.

These things have just deepened my love for fall.

In addition to these fall must-haves, I’ve discovered that I need a new fall wreath every year.  Not want.  NEED.

You may remember last year when I fell in love with this guy:

 this might be the winner for fall wreaths...love it.

My heart still skips a beat when I see this.  I love everything about it.

Problem was (and still is), is that it’s made out of cornstalk tops (yes, that’s the technical term).  And lots of them.  I don’t have access to cornstalk tops…so last year I settled for my second favorite wreath, the Nonna wreath from JDC:

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I still love the Nonna, and she’s proudly hanging in our living room again.  But I couldn’t get ‘ol cornstalk-top out of my head, so in an effort to deter myself from poaching a farmer’s field after midnight, I went back to Pinterest  to find an alternative option.

Autumn Wreath   Hand Crafted Fall Wreath   Front Door Wreath For Fall  Natural Wreath   Dried Wreath  Autumn Decor on Etsy, $70.00
Rustic burlap wreath.... Want to make one for our front door with some fall flowers added to it.
Love this front door decor for fall... especially the wheat wreath w/ burlap bow... simple but warm and welcoming
Burlap Fall Wreath for Front Door or Wall | WeHaveWreaths - Housewares on ArtFire  www.facebook.com/CraftCreationsbyJen Twig Wreath. For the front door for Fall.

I liked all of these options (especially the upper-right one)…but then I found this one:

StoneGable: RAFFIA WREATH TUTORIAL....I am for sure making this for the fall!!!

And I knew it was The One.  I mean, it was big, crazy, and disheveled…just like the cornstalk-top one.  Plus, it’s made of raffia, which is easily-accessible.  Unlike cornstalk-tops.

I’m not doing a tutorial here because the one at Stone Gable is great.  I will say a couple of things though:

  • I didn’t bother with hot glue.  Mostly because I bought the full-size sticks instead of the mini-sticks and I was too annoyed to wait until I had time to exchange them.
  • It’s a very messy project.  Don’t do it on your couch while watching America’s Next Top Model.  At least….I hear that you shouldn’t do that….it’s not like I watch that show.
  • The tutorial only instructed you to do 1 row of raffia around the wreath.  I did three.  I like it big.  But because of this, it took a little over 2 hours to do.  Not exactly a speedy process.
  • I can’t find those damn bleached oak leaves for the life of me (ok, I went to one store).   So mine doesn’t have them.  I wish it did though…

So…here she is in all her big, crazy glory:

(oh, and yes.  I did paint my front door black.  Thanks for asking!)

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It’s surprising to me that I like this unruly thing….but oh how I do.  The only thing that could make it better is the bleached oak leaves.  I suppose I could check out more than one a few more stores.  Or I could just strut around in my tall boots with a pumpkin latte eating pumpkin everything.

Yes.  That sounds like a better idea.

What about you?  Do you like clean-cut wreaths or crazy messy ones like this?  Have you made any this fall that I need to see?

P.S.  Did you know that if you subscribe to my blog, or “Like” twsst on Facebook, you’ll know there’s a new post up before everyone else?   You can do either from the right hand column!

34 years old; it ain’t the end, but it sure ain’t where I began…

The past two years I’ve written a post on my birthday and even though I guess I don’t write much anymore, I would feel remiss if I skipped this year.

I re-read both of my previous posts and wonder if I’ll be able to do them justice…they were just a perfect reflection of where I was at the time.   Funny how that works.  You can read 32 here and 33 here.

But I think the one that struck me the most was last years.  I had listed six thoughts about the coming year.  So I thought it would be fun to go back through them and see how things turned out.   Ready?  Ok.  (Hit it!)

1. 33 will undoubtedly be the hardest year of my adult life. I know this already because I’ve spent the last 10 weeks with a little taster of what’s in store for me.

I should probably just go ahead and buy a crystal ball to set up shop, because this prediction was dead ON.  Wow.  This past year has been hard.  Really hard.  I’ve struggled with a lot with things….big things like “who am I now?”, “what kind of mother do I want to be”, “can I handle this?”,  “am I happy?”  “do I want/need to work?”  and “how the hell do you get a kid to nap?”  to little things, like “what am I supposed to feed my kid?”, “should I really go to Target every week?”,  “where can I buy dry shampoo in bulk?”  and “can I really wear yoga pants every day?”

Let’s just say it’s been an adjustment.  Having kids is hard.  Do people talk about this?  Am I supposed to be talking about this or should I just gloss over all of the tough times?   I feel like it’s ok to talk about it, because yes, it’s hard.  It’s the hardest thing you’ll ever do….but it’s also the most important.  To acknowledge that something is bigger than yourself, and LET it be bigger….is very humbling and surprisingly rewarding.

2. 33 will also undoubtedly be the most rewarding year of my adult life. As hard as it’s going to be, I believe that it’s the most important job I’ll ever do.

Yes.  Just, yes.

3. I want need to make sure I don’t lose myself in all of the changes happening in our lives. I still want to be me.

This has been harder.  I had really good intentions to make myself a priority, but it’s obviously easier said than done.  I think the resounding question regarding this is….WHEN?  When can I focus on myself?   At 5:00 a.m. before Abby gets up at 6:00?  During one of the ONE hour naps she’ll MAYBE take?  Or is it after she goes to bed at 7:00 when I’m utterly exhausted?   To be honest….none of those are appealing.  Obviously.  I think that’s why I’ve struggled with blogging.  I desperately want to.  And I guess if it were more of a priority I would MAKE time.  But there are so many other things I need to do that it unfortunately takes a back seat.

So, obviously I need to work on this.  And I think I’m doing better.  Now that I’m done nursing, Abby doesn’t physically need me.   She’ll always need me, but not in the same way (where I’m her main food supply).    I think this has helped me mentally as well.  The Hubs can feed her just as easily as I can now.

I didn’t expect it to take so long, but I’d say now (within the last month), I’m finally starting to feel like me.  To feel adjusted.  To feel normal.  So I joined the gym so I can return to Oula (you should really watch that video, it’s kinda hilarious).  I signed up for a training class to run a half marathon.  I’m getting back to me.  Slowly but surely.   This is something I’ll continue to work on….and hey.  Maybe soon I’ll get back to blogging (I mean, I’m dying to tell you about the awesome rug and play area in Abby’s room, my ombre kitchen stools and my banishment of all-things-red from the kitchen!).

4. I want to create an environment where Abby can learn and explore her passions.

I consciously make an effort towards this everyday.  I know Abby is still young, but I think if I start now it will help when she’s older and starts forming opinions.

I just really hope she likes to ski.  Please please like to ski!

5. Speaking of passions…I want to explore my own. Lately I’ve been feeling a little lost…as if I don’t really know what I’m passionate about anymore.

Still working on this one too.  But after a conversation with my step-mom about this, I think I’m re-defining my view of passion.  Just because I don’t feel passionately about things like hunting, running or rafting ….doesn’t mean I’m not passionate.   I’m passionate about family.   Being a mom.  Being a sister, daughter, aunt.  I like to make things with my hands….like healthy meals and (ok) cookies.   But I also (strangely) like to build things with wood, paint, decorate and refinish things.  I like the outdoors….hiking, skiing, walking and taking in the beauty of this wonderful place.

I have a lot of interests and maybe I don’t need to have strong passion for one thing. Maybe it’s ok have a little passion for a lot of things.

6. I want to slow down.   I want to refocus on what’s really important: Friends. Relationships. Family. Memories.

I actually think I’ve done ok with this.  I don’t over-extend myself often.  I’m learning to say no.

Of course there are times when things just get busy.   For instance, this is our first weekend home in three weeks.   But you know what?  We were spending them with friends and family having fun.  Making memories.   Is my house a disaster?  Of course.  But it can wait.   And I’m learning to be ok with that.    It’s not easy, but it’s important.

So yeah, I guess overall I’m doing ok.   I would still love to blog more.  But I’d also like a new house and a stylist (seriously, probably shouldn’t be wearing yoga pants and torn jeans all of the time).

For now, I’m just trying to be ok with the way things are.  My best friend here in town has always worked hard to be happy NOW.   Not “when “x” happens,” or “as soon as “y” happens.”   Be happy now.  Because life is short and you don’t know what tomorrow holds.  And you know what?  She is one of the most optimistic, happiest people I know….even though life isn’t perfect for her.    Heck, is it for anyone?

If I know anything, it’s that life is precious…and tomorrows aren’t guaranteed.  So hug your kids (hug yer wife!) and live for today.

(Please tell me someone got that little play on words??)

Anyhoo.  Guess I’m getting all sentimental this year.   I’m sure I’ll read this next year and wonder why I’m being such a sap.

OR, I’ll be running a very successful psychic shop and TELL you why I was being all sentimental last year.

As always, I’ve borrowed my title from one of my favorite Jewel songs, Stephenville, TX.   This year I thought I’d share it with you so you know what the heck I’m talking about.

abby’s birthday

Let’s just go ahead and pretend that it hasn’t been 3 months since I’ve posted….ok?

Ok.  Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I thought it was due time I shared a bit about Abby’s birthday with you.  She turned 1 earlier this month and we of course had a little celebration.   I actually really struggled with how much of a party it needed to be; do you keep it simple or do you go-big-or-go-home?   Part of me really wanted to have a big party with a theme and decorations and everything-Pinteresty.   But the other part of me just kept thinking….dude.  She’s 1.

In the end, my rational-brain won and we decided to have a small family get together with our immediate family.  Because when I actually sat down and thought about it, the only thing I really cared about for Abby’s birthday was (1) making it special to her and (2) making her cake.   Besides, we have about 18 more years of birthdays that can be over-the-top if she wants.  For now, we were keeping it simple…and just because it’s simple doesn’t mean it can’t be kind of Pinteresty (are you following me?  You should!).

The Hubs and I are lucky enough that both of our parents and all of our siblings live close enough to drive to town for the day.   Wait, let me rephrase.  The Hubs and I are lucky enough that we have parents and siblings willing to drive upwards of 2 hours for a 1-year olds birthday party.   And since her birthday is in February, we decided a sledding party might be in order (sorry Abs, you’ll probably have lots of sledding parties….at least until you can ski).

We have a big park in the back of our house with a couple of rolling hills (great for mini-sledding) and a bigger hill (great for big-kid or brave-adult sledding).

So the plan was to do some late-morning sledding, come in for some chili and  then do cake.   And even though nearly all of the snow melted into a giant ice/snow rink the week before her birthday (thanksalotglobalwarming) we were still able to get some sliding around done.   And it was a beautiful bluebird day to boot.

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I’d say she enjoyed it…..

So then it was time for chili.  Isn’t chili just one of those awesome comfort foods?  I love me some chili.  I made our favorite elk chili and then this tasty little number:


(image from ambitious kitchen)

Sweet potato, black bean and quinoa chili with smoked chipotle.  Go make it now.  Seriously.  Go.   Now.  It’s amazing.   I used to think nothing could beat our elk chili recipe but I was wrong….this is just as good if not better.  And it’s vegetarian (gasp).

We had all of the fixings of course, my award winning maple cornbread, fritos, sour cream, vinegar (please tell me you put vinegar in your chili too?), green onions, cheese….mmmm.   Maybe what I like most about chili is all of the fixings you get to put in it.  But I digress.

Birthdays are mostly about cake, are they not?  And I knew I wanted to make Abby’s cakes.  In fact, I hope I always make her cake…it’s something my mom used to do for me and something I want to do for her.

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Hellooooooo doll cake!   You were my favorite!  And wow, Mom, I just realized you broke out the CHINA for my birthday.  Looks like we were slumming it with the paper plates for Abby.

I’ll spare you the details of making Abby’s cake….but let’s just say making a cake from scratch is not always easy.  And sometimes one itsy teeny weeny mistake like using PAM can mess the ENTIRE thing up.   Don’t use Pam.

I have to say though, I am quite pleased with how this all turned out.   Yes.  Quite pleased.   Because no matter how many awesome ombre cakes there are on Pinterest, I guarantee you there is not ONE tutorial out there for how to do it.   I should write one; but who am I kidding, I don’t blog.

Gah.  Too many words.  Let’s just get to the pictures, shall we?

IMG_4975 Do you love that banner so much like I do?  I wish I could say I made it.

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 IMG_4992 I wish you could see the candle holders up close!  They are a fish, duck and pheasant.  So incredibly appropriate for a hunters daughter.  And actually pretty darn cute.

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The “1” was actually a last-minute decision.  But I’m glad I did it!

IMG_4997 And now…the Pièce de résistance

IMG_5036 Oh you pretty little cake…how you tortured me so.

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IMG_5029 Don’t let these pictures fool you.  She did not, I repeat not like cake.  There was no smashing.  No laughing.  No sticking her face in it.  No having to tear it away as she screamed for more.  She just really wasn’t interested.   Maybe next year.  Or maybe it just needs to be in the shape of a doll.

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IMG_4982 Here’s her birthday present.  She loves it.  Not actually sitting on it, but she loves standing on the chairs or laying on the table.  Cuz that’s safe.

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IMG_5005 Sorry, can’t talk right now…I’m riding a pony.

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And just like that, the party was over.

Sometimes I can hardly believe that she is a year old already and sometimes I think she ought to be 5 by now.   In fact I ran across a quote the other day that really resonated with me…

“The days are long, but the years are short.  Don’t blink.”

I try to remind myself of that often.  No matter how long the day (or night) may seem, these years really will fly by.

Now can we just look at this again please?

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survival guide: the first six months

I consider myself somewhat of a minimalist when it comes to baby gear.   We don’t have the space for a gazillion plastic things around the house and frankly I don’t want them.   I mean, people have been having babies for thousands of years and been fine without bumbo’s, boppies and baby Einstein.

However,  that being said.  I acknowledge that there are some items out there that sure make having a baby easier. 

Now that Abby’s seven months (and crawling!), I decided to take a look back and document what worked (and what didn’t) during the first few months.   If anything else it will be good reference for me if and when we do another newborn round.   Besides, I’ve noticed a distinct change in what a newborn needs vs. what an infant needs, and I’m finding myself packing up some of my old standby’s and relying on new distractions and soothing techniques.  

The items I’m reviewing today will be more for the newborn/early infant stage…and I’ll be back with another round for the post 6-month necessities.   Sound good?

First things first:  you’re going to need some sort of cage. 

Er….wait.  That sounds bad…let me rephrase. 

You’re going to need some sort of contraption that essentially “holds” them so you don’t have to all of the time.  I know, I know, I’m terrible for not wanting to hold my baby 24/7.   So maybe I won’t have amazing mom arms, but I’ll be showered, the laundry will be done (maybe) and I’ll most likely get to eat because of this little bouncy chair.  We’ve put Abby in it since Day 1 and she still sits in it in the mornings when I’m getting breakfast ready.  Granted she has very little patience for it anymore, but I’m milking it for every last minute I can use it. 

Fisher Price Bouncer

Around three months was the ideal age for the bouncer.  She had just found her feet and would sit in it for-ev-er just looking at her toes. 

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Now that you have your cage established, work on finding a way to make the baby think you’re holding them….even though you’re still not.

Say hello to your next best friend, the Sleepy Wrap carrier.  This thing was a life saver in the first few months.  After you get over the intimidation of putting the dang thing on (it’s just one long piece of fabric, seriously like 50 yards long), you will never go anywhere without it.  And trust me, it only took 2 or 3 times to get the process down.  It’s not nearly as intimidating as it looks!

The sleepy wrap is great for walks (Abby h.a.t.e.d her carseat when she was little, so the carseat adapter for our stroller was really a waste), shopping (you know, in your spare time) and just getting sh*t done around the house.  You just snuggle them right in and they pretty much fall asleep (am I sensing irony here?).

The funny thing is, when I had Abby in the sleepy wrap and she moved, it felt just like it did when she was in my belly.  It was kiiiiiiinda trippy.  Or maybe I had it on too tight.

Anyhoo….this is another item we’ve used since Day 1 with Abby and still do.  There are several additional positions you can wear it aside from the newborn picture shown below….outward facing, inward facing, on your hip, etc. 

It’s amazing how you take using both hands for granted until you’re carting around a kid.

Sleepy Wrap Classic Wrap Baby Carrier

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Next up, an item that I knew I would love even before Abby arrived…the Aden and Anais bamboo swaddlers.  I got these as a gift (thanks Liz!) and absolutely love them.  They are lightweight, soft and stretchy and are perfect for swaddling or just a cute blanket. 

In all honesty, I only swaddled Abby a handful of times in these….and yet they remain a favorite you say?  Well yes.  It’s so nice to have a lightweight blanket to use on hot days.  I use these ALL of the time in the stroller to protect her from the sun, in the carseat, or as a nursing cover.   These are one of my most favorite things.

You may have seen the Aden and Anais muslin swaddlers, and these are similar except much softer and cuter.  In my opinion.

Aden and Anais Bamboo Swaddle Blankets

aden + anais Swaddle Blanket, 3 Pack

You may be wondering what I DID use to swaddle Abs with, since the aforementioned swaddle blankets didn’t make the cut. 

These my friend, are da bomb:  Summer Infant Swaddle Me.  They have velcro to keep that swaddle nice ‘n tight.  I mean, just look at these little nuggets…they ain’t goin’ nowhere.  And when you’re talking about swaddling, that’s exactly the effect you’re looking for.

I bought the fleece ones since Abby was using them in the middle of winter, but the cotton ones look nice too and come in cuter designs.

Summer Infant SwaddleMe

Summer Infant 2 Pack Cotton Knit Swaddleme

I’m pretty sure all babies get cradle cap…I mean, wouldn’t your skin be a bit dry if you spent 9 months in a swimming pool and then decided to get out?

This shampoo worked wonders on Abbys cradle cap and smells sooooooo good.  Again, it was a gift (thanks Cassi!) and one I was a titch skeptical about at first.  But oh my.  How sweet it is.  I would totally splurge on this next time around – even though it is a bit more expensive than what I would normally buy.  Especially since I’m just now running out of the one an only bottle I had – seven months later.  So the little splurge is totally worth it.

Mustela Foam Shampoo for Newborns

I debated about including this next one (the Beco carrier).  I wouldn’t say it’s one of my favorite things…but I sure do use it a lot.  And I figured that since it’s one of the things that I find myself continually grabbing for and packing for trips…I had better include it.   

While similar in concept to the sleepy wrap, this carrier can be put on fairly quickly and is a bit more of a traditional carrier.  I looked at all (and I mean all) of the carriers before deciding on the Beco.  What won me over on this one was the fact that the baby can sit forwards, backwards OR on your back…all with the same carrier.  None of the others (the Ergo, bjorn, etc.) can do all three.

I imagine we will use this carrier for several more months, if not even longer.

As an added bonus, the Beco comes in some reallllly cool designs.  I went ahead and got the black one because I thought “oh, the Hubs will be more apt to wear it if it isn’t all trendy and cute.”  Whatever.  He’s worn it once.  So next time I’ll get the cute one like I wanted in the first place.

Beco Baby Carrier  Gemini

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I’m sure you’re wondering where all of the survival stuff for mom is, right?  Well I’m getting to it.  And ladies you are in for a reeeeeaaaal treat, because first up is a lovely nursing bra!

Bravado Designs Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra

So glamorous.

So necessary.   I tried nursing with a sports bra and trust me,  you don’t want to do it.  It’s almost more annoying that the permanent mono-boob you’ll be sporting. 

Invest in a couple of good nursing bras because you’ll literally be wearing them morning, noon and night.   These Bravado Designs bras are suuuuuper comfortable.  There’s no underwire (which I was slightly nervous about, but read that they’re bad for milk production anyways) and they are actually fairly supportive.   This is important because we all know about nursing mothers and there ta ta’s.   Plus they come in some cute colors.  So you can kind of feel cute in it.   Kind of. 

But bra’s aren’t all I’m recommending for you mom…there’s also this:

Medela Freestyle Breastpump

Medela Freestyle Breast Pump

Again, so glamorous.   (p.s. you may as well forget about anything glamorous for at least the first 6 months to a year after your baby).   Sorry if I’m the one to break that to ya.

All I have to say about this, is that P-U-M-P spells F-R-E-E-D-O-M in my book.  You want it and you’ll need it.  

Buy a pump.  A good one.  This one is sweet because it’s small, portable and runs on batteries.   I can pump anywhere…in the car, at the mall, on the moon.  This is important.  You want other people to be able to feed your baby so you don’t have to be there every 3-4 hours. 

Now. 

Along with good things come bad things.   Here are a few of the duds I’ve come across in this journey.   Maybe you’ve had luck with some of these, and if you have….bravo.   I did not. 

First up, our carseat. 

Gah, I know.  Something as GD important as our carseat makes the crap list.   It’s not that it’s actual crap, per se.   It’s just that I don’t like it.  

Chico Keyfit 30

Chicco Keyfit 30 Infant Car Seat and Base

I don’t like how heavy it is (what is it made of?  cement?!).  I don’t like the sunshade (I wish it would tilt forward to shade the sun from the front.  I’m not always walking with her back to the sun for petes sake).   I don’t like that it’s expensive and it seems cheaply made.  And you’re on crack if you think I’m keeping her in there until she’s 30 lbs.

Oh, AND….it’s name is annoying.  Did you know you’re supposed to pronounce it “KEY-KO.”  Lame.  So if you pronounce it like it looks, “CHI-CO” you sound like an idiot.  Thanks.  Not only am I lugging around a 30 lb child in a 20 lb carseat, I also sound like an idiot talking about it.

On the other hand, installation is a cinch and it is rated one of the safest carseats out there.  So at least there’s that.

Next up on the dud list – our sound machine.  God I hate this thing.

First Years Sound Machine

The First Years Sounds For Silence Nursery Sound Machine

First of all, the “six special white noise” options are all pretty much crap.  Unless you think high-pitched screeching sounds are soothing.   Or freaking seagulls chirping during the “ocean” sound.  Really??  Water is soothing.  Seagulls are not. 

AND there are six “Mozart” melodies available, which are basically keyboard-eske melodies that will make moms want to poke their eyes out. 

I don’t recommend it. 

What you need is a sound machine that has good noises, that you can plug in, and that doesn’t have a timer.  You want that sucker to go all night long (that’s what she said).  hee hee.   Sorry. 

If you have a sound machine that you like (and fits the above noted criteria), please let me know.  We are currently getting by with the “heartbeat” sound because it’s the only halfway decent one on there.

Lastly (and I’ll probably get some flack for this one) the baby swing.

Fisher Price Cradle ‘n Swing

Fisher-Price Cradle 'N Swing

It’s not that I didn’t like it, or like the idea of it….it’s just that Abby never liked it.   She would scream bloody murder in it most of the time.   But I kept trying…Lordy I kept trying.  I probably got her to nap it in three times. 

And then I have friends who swear by this thing….it literally saved their lives

I guess I’m just saying….it wasn’t our gig.   And I kept thinking “oh yeah…I’ve got this swing in my back pocket man.  Whenever I think all hope is lost I’ll just pull my ‘ol swing card and peace will be restored.”   Except it never quite worked like that for us.    It usually made a bad situation worse.   So the swingo was a no-go for us.

So there you have it.   Our list of must-haves for those first terrifying precious months.    I acknowledge that every baby is different; and what worked for me may not work for you.   Here are my biggest pieces of advice: 

  • Don’t go crazy buying stuff the minute you see your two pink lines.  Hold off on buying every baby contraption out there…because you never know what’s going to work for you. 
  • It’s ok to buy stuff AFTER the baby arrives.  You’ll have a better idea of what might work for your munchkin.
  • Borrow what you can.  Many moms are ecstatic to have someone get more use out of their expensive baby items.   And bonus:  if it doesn’t work for you, you didn’t spend any money on it.     
  • Buy used.  I’ve seen soooooo many lightly-used baby items (in great shape) for sale at second-hand stores for kids.  I know this is a tough hurdle  to jump sometimes (you want everything that touches your baby to be sparkly new), but you can save a ton of money if you’re willing to get past it.

In the end?  I strongly believe that less is more when it comes to baby gadgets and the best comfort you can give your baby is her momma.  

Gotta work on those mom arms anyway, right?

have I told you lately…

Five years ago this Saturday I married my best friend.  In some ways it’s flown by faster than I would like (i.e. holy cow, we have a kid?!?!), and let’s be honest, some days it feels like….”is that all?  We’ve surely been married at least a century.”   That’s a normal feeling, right?  haha.

I loved everything about our wedding….the planning, the details, the lunch-time runs to Michaels and JoAnns, the projects, the crafts…and even the chaos.  It was a day we will never forgot.

Two weeks prior to our wedding I ran my first (and only) marathon with one of my girlfriends…I guess I was a glutton for punishment.  So when I reminisce about my wedding I often find myself reminiscing about that too….from the early-morning looooooong runs and hill workouts to the laughter and tears we shed along the way.   Both the marathon and my wedding are oddly intertwined in my memory and my heart.

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But today, in honor of our five years together, I want to share some of my wedding pictures with you.  I had so much fun going back through these….it was hard to pick just a few to share.  I (with the help of my amazing family, sisters and friends) DIY’ed a lot for the wedding.  I wasn’t blogging back then or you would have heard all about it.   

You know it’s true. 

I’m one of those people that would totally have a wedding once a year if it were (1) free and (2) socially acceptable.  Since it’s neither, I must relive the one I had…which was pretty freakin’ fantastic in my opinion.   

Anyhoo, enough from me.  Here are some pictures of our very special day.

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I absolutely adore this picture of me and my dad.

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Duuuuude.  This was a big deal….I somehow got the lead singer of my favorite band (The Clintons Band) to play acoustic during the ceremony and MC our reception.  He did an amazing job. 

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Now that’s a big dress….

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We got married in Missoula at a golf course/restaurant called Shadow’s Keep.  We literally got married on the ninth green, which is just off of the back patio.  The general manager just drove a golf cart over (stocked with beer) to the tee box and asked the golfers to relax with a cold one while the wedding took place.  How cool is that?  So there were no stray golf balls flying at us or an unsuspecting guest. 

I may have been enamored with the fact that it looks like a castle.  What girl doesn’t want to get married in a castle?

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Here’s the back patio of the restaurant….I love the draped linen and pink pom poms!  I distinctly remember walking in and tearing up as I saw how beautiful it looked. 

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Our cake was am.az.ing.   Enough said.

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Our favors…hubby’s favorite candy:  M&Ms….and mine:  circus animals.   I can’t wait until Abby is old enough to start buying them for her.  Ok, for me.  Whatever.

And how about a big shout-out to my sister Amy for picking out all of the RED M&Ms for these favors?  Ha Ha Ha.  Yeah, I may have been a bit bridezilla at times.  But red SO doesn’t go with pink.   And it was only like 10 giant bags that she had to do.

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Now, if there was one itsy-bitsy-teenie-weenie thing I would change about our wedding, it would be our flowers.  While they are certainly pretty…they are not what I asked for or envisioned. 

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Yes, I rented a cotton candy machine.  And yes I made the cook in the kitchen make it.  And yes, this guy probably feels like a tool handing it out. 

But how cute does he look?

And how awesome is cotton candy!?  Hello.

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You know you are loved when your brothers and brothers-in-law spend all morning making pink pom-pom poofs for you. 

Well, either that or I owe them big time. 

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And he doesn’t even like cotton candy.  What a sweetie.

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What a wonderful day.  I am so lucky to have such amazing friends and family.  And I am so thankful that I have a loving, caring and adventurous husband.   Someone who will go along with my cotton candy schemes and daydreams, but also someone who pushes me to be a more outgoing/adventurous person and soak up my beautiful Montana surroundings.   We may not have the perfect relationship or marriage; it’s hard at times.   But I suppose that just makes you appreciate the happy, carefree times that much more.  So, in case I haven’t told you lately, Hubs….I love you!  And happy anniversary!    And in case you don’t remember (it’s ok, I know you don’t have an eye for details), this was the song John sang during our ceremony.  :)

Have I told you lately that I love you
Have I told you there’s no one above you
Fill my heart with gladness
Take away my sadness
Ease my troubles, that’s what you do

Oh the morning sun in all it’s glory
Greets the day with hope and comfort too
And you fill my life with laughter
You can make it better
Ease my troubles that’s what you do

There’s a love that’s divine
And it’s yours and it’s mine
Like the sun at the end of the day
We should give thanks and pray to the one

Have I told you lately that I love you
Have I told you there’s no one above you
Fill my heart with gladness
Take away my sadness
Ease my troubles, that’s what you do

the best of twsst, 2011 edition

Can you believe that it’s almost been a year since I started this blogging thing?   

It all started as one of my New Year resolutions last year because I think I do cool stuff.   And sometimes I’m funny.  And I can be witty.  And I’m learning to be crafty.  And apparently I’ve got a lot to say. 

So far I’ve written and published 111 posts.  I know, right?  Holy cow.  My site stats say that I average 150 visits per day, which is amazing considering I haven’t really done anything to try to attract readers.  Honestly I’m amazed that anyone (other than those obligatory followers…like husbands and family) take time to read what I write.  Because I know I can be wordy — sorry aboot that.

Site stats, comments and subscribers aside though, I have to say the best thing about blogging is making connections with other people from around the blogsphere.  It really is amazing to me that such strong relationships can be made through writing.  I mean, I feel like I really know some of the bloggers I read about.  Perhaps some of you feel that way about me?? 

Anyhoo…I’ll probably get all sappy on you in an “anniversary” post next month on the actual day of, but with 2011 coming to a close I thought it would be fun to look back through some of my posts and pick a few favorites.  To be honest, when I pull up my list (of 111 posts!!) there are some that I vaguely remember writing at all and others that I thoroughly enjoyed reading through again.  Cuz remember?  I’m funny and witty sometimes (and mostly in digital formats). 

So without further ado…here’s my 2011 wrap-up of favorite posts.  Who knows, maybe this will become a tradition around here. 

And since I’m also a bit Type A, I’ve categorized them for you. 

Other Type A-ers:  you’re welcome.

Ribbon mobile – remember this lovely lady that I made for our Nursery? 

Mini-blind roman shades – one of the easiest fixes for those outdated mini blinds.  

Fabric wall panels – such a high-impact project that literally took me 30 minutes.  Unless you count the 300 days it took me to pick out the fabric.

Painting an old dresser - this one took a lot of time, patience and hand massaging…but I love transforming furniture into something so special.

The sheep head and the elk rack - ah yes.  How could you forget this series of posts?  I get a lot of feedback/comments about these posts…but I think it’s only funny to everyone else because they don’t have to live with el Sheepo and Monsieur Elk. 

Creating a photo wall galleryas part of our living room redo, I created my first wall gallery and I’m still loving it!  And bonus points:  I included one of The Hubs mounts.  I’m officially the best. wife. ever.

Backyard master plan – I know The Hubs thinks I’m on crack for wanting to landscape our backyard, but I think he’s on crack for NOT wanting to.  So I guess we’re even.

Hamper liner – because dirty laundry doesn’t have to be ugly too.

Sassy apron – A full tutorial on how to make one of these for yourself.  Wanna make one for me while you’re at it?

Creating our Square Foot Garden

Building flower window boxes – the project that gave me a new appreciation for anyone who works with wood, but also taught me how many good “that’s what she said” opportunities there are in that profession.

Yurtski - one of our backcountry ski trips last winter.

Glacier National Park – guest post from The Hubs about skiing in Glacier.   (And you thought I was wordy).  At the time he wrote this, it was my longest post to-date.  Don’t worry Hubs, I’ve out-worded you by now. 

Run Down Memory Lane - this whole post was written in my head as I ran an 11-miler through my old stomping grounds in Seattle. 

Meet Summit – This post can still bring tears to my eyes.   What?!  She’s my little girl!

My birthday post - I wrote this for my 32nd birthday to allow myself….to introduce….myself.

What I probably shouldn’t say - I hesitated to add this to my favorite list because it’s quite a bit more serious than my normal posts.  BUT.  It’s been one of the most healing things I’ve ever written and also one of the most read posts on my blog.  So I’d be remiss to not mention it.

A little reflection with a red chair - I wrote this after my first day of Avi 1 (Avalanche 1) certification training.  I think the instructors try to scare the poo out of students that day…and it worked.   Don’t worry, I got over it.

Knowing where your food comes from – wrote this one after watching Food Inc.   Gah….I can’t believe I’m re-posting a picture of raw meat!

The perfect chocolate chip cookie - because there is nothing better in my book, and these really are perfect.

I have to admit, it was harder than I thought to narrow the list down to a few favorites.   I could have probably added 10 more to this list! 

It’s crazy to see how my writing, documenting and photos have changed over the year.  I can definitely tell which pictures were taken with my new camera and can’t wait to keep improving next year. 

Speaking of next year, I want you all to know that I am planning on keeping up the blogging thing. 

Even. after. baby.   …wait for it….

GASP.

Now pick your jaws up off the floor and quit your side-eyes.  I will try my best to blog when I can.  I can’t promise I’ll have time to work on, document and complete projects like I do now, but to be honest I’m finding more benefit from blogging about other things right now.   I always receive more feedback and comments when I write a “Good Read” type of post and it’s always so fulfilling see those comments pop up.  You know, just to remind me that someone’s actually reading?   By the way, a huge thank you to all of my readers who stop by everyday!  I like to think I would blog regardless of whether or not people stopped by, but I can assure you that each of you are a huge motivator to keep it up.  So thank you!

That being said, I also can’t promise that I’ll blog with any sort of regularity after bambino arrives…but I’ll update you when I can, ok? 

Ok!

So here’s me tipping my sparkling (sigh) wine glass to 2011 and hoping that 2012 brings just as much fulfillment and joy!

merry christmas…to me?

That just sounds bad, doesn’t it? 

Maybe I could spin this by saying it’s a Christmas present….to the blog.  Or…hey…even to YOU!  (Ok that’s really pushing it).

But I couldn’t help myself.   I’ve been crushing on DSLR cameras ever since I started this blog….knowing one would drastically improve my photos.  I’ve been so frustrated lately with getting bright, light photos for posting.    And since it’s looking like I’m going to be around here for awhile…I felt semi-justified splurging. 

The rest of the justification has been walking around with me for the last 9 months.  I realllllllly wanted a nice camera for capturing all of the special moments after baby arrives. 

So I bought this:

It’s not their entry-level camera, but the next level up.  So hopefully it’s one that I can learn on, but don’t have to worry about out-growing it anytime soon.  At least that was my justification for the more expensive option.

Eek.

I’m so excited!!! 

I took a photography class in highschool so I know bits and pieces about aperture, shutter speed and all that other stuff.   The challenge will be trying to remember it.   But luckily the Hubs is actually pretty knowledgeable about this stuff too, and even has a big ass zoom lens that I can use from his old Canon Rebel.    I’ve also ear-marked camera tips that other bloggers have posted about when I run across them.  So hopefully between all of those resources I can get started and on my way to better pictures. 

Oh, and since we’re being honest.  I may have purchased this too:

The bag.  Not the girl…that would just be weird.

Because why can’t I take good pictures AND be stylish? 

Plus, I obviously needed some sort of camera bag to protect my investment.  So:  Merry Christmas, self!  May this camera be all you ever wished for and more…cuz it’s probably the last nice thing you ever get to buy for yourself.  At least for the next 18 years.   

Now, do tell.  Do any of you have the same camera, or are you crushing on one like I was?  Did anyone else take advantage of the amazing deals to buy a present for themselves this Holiday season?  Has anyone ever regretted puchasing a DSLR?!  I have to admit, I got the camera in the mail last week and I’ve been too intimidated to use it much…so don’t expect fantastic improvements around here immediately.  It may take awhile for me to learn the ins-and-outs of it!   Let’s just say my trusty point-and-shoot is always close by.  For now.

Canon Rebel T2i photo found here, Jo Totes photo found here.