Monday, December 30, 2013

2013: In Review

SO normally Mondays are a day for Weekend Recaps because obviously, my weekends and life in general are thrilling. But today: today is the last Monday of 2013. Can you believe it?! I can't. But I also don't mind. If we're being honest here, I didn't like 2013 - mostly because it's an odd number and who likes odd numbers or the number 13?

Either way, I have much to be thankful about for the past 12 months. Family, friends, and fun are my fave moments of the year. But just for my own records, I'm going to recap the "highlights" from each month of the year 2013. And I'm going to limit myself to 1 photo from each month, otherwise this could get out of control. 

Spoiler Alert: It's pretty easy to tell which months are the "fun months" around here. The happenings in January through April kind of get the year off to a slow start as we try to make it through the final leg of the winter season. But as soon as the snow melts and lake season begins we definitely take life by the horns - all the way from May through December.

We rang in 2013 in Arizona with my husband's family.
On a sadder note, we also said goodbye to my Grandpa. 

We went on a trip with my family to Keystone, Colorado. Parker had never skiied before and I hadn't skiied in years - we.had.a.blast. And obviously he was way better than me.

Looking back at our photos from March, you can tell we were craving spring weather - and judging by my bare feet on the outdoor deck, we must have gotten a few early tastes of springtime, even with snow still on the ground. This photo is from Easter weekend.

In April we spent time enjoying the sunshine rays and trying, so hard, to say so-long to the snow.

I broke the rules on this shoot me. May is my birthday month and we always bend the rules for birthdays...
May involved a nice birthday dinner date with my husband, walking in our first-ever breast cancer walk with my husband's family on Mother's Day, and running a 4-person marathon relay. Phew, just writing about that month makes me feel tired. 

Summer has officially begun: weddings, lake season, walks outside, and fruity, summer cocktails.

My brother finally asked this girl^ to marry him! I don't even remember what else happened that month because the wedding planning officially began.

August involved many-a-days on the water with family. It's the best month around these MN lakes: temperatures in the 80s, sunshine, and pure happiness as everyone is trying to soak up the final days of summer.

 We celebrated our 3-year anniversary. Oh, and I went hunting and shot a rifle for the first time. NBD.

This month's highlight is definitely the weekend we spent in Minneapolis to celebrate our anniversary.

We finally got to see Parker's grandparents for the first time in almost a year. We drove the 8 hours to their place on Thanksgiving weekend. The weekend involved a Fish House Parade on Black Friday and the taking of our Christmas card picture^. Which reminds me, I should probably get those cards mailed out today.

Christmas, Christmas, Everywhere! The best holiday of the year kind of seems to take over the month of December, and who's complaining! Although there are still 2 days of the month left, I'm guessing they will not involve anything better than Christmas baking, family time, or presents. So I can officially say that spending the Christmas holidays with family was thee highlight of the month of December.

We are lucky, lucky people. 

2013 was a good year. Are there things I would have changed? Probably. Is life easy? Never. But it sure is a beautiful thing. And I look forward to the many good things to come in 2014!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

How-To: Comment using Disqus

I successful installed Disqus on my blog today!!! You have to understand, I am not extremely tech-savvy, good with HTML code in general, or known for forcing myself to step out of the box so this is kind of a big deal. And let me tell you, it wasn't even that hard. If you've been thinking about installing Disqus for comments on your blog, you totally should. Totes.

So, this is a short little tutorial on how to comment on my bloggity-blog now that you need to do so using Disqus. I am willing to bet that most of you already know how to do this and most of you have commented on many-a-blogs using Disqus. But I also know that some of you haven't: shout-out to my family members + friends who grace my blog with their presence on an every-other-day basis. A few of them have told me that they read my blog but don't know how to comment. Disqus makes the commenting process fairly simple and painless - right here, right now, I'm going to give you a step-by-step on how to do it.

Pammy, this is for you :)

Step 1: At the bottom of the blog post, click on the Comments link (in the example below, it says "6 Comments".
In the images below, I am using Laura Beth's blog for the screenshots throughout my example. She's my cool ND bloggy friend.

Step 2: That will bring you to a page that looks like this image below:

Step 3: Click in the "Join the discussion..." box. 
It will ask you to Sign-In in some way, and your screen will look like this:

Step 4: Sign-In. Click the Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, or Google icons to sign-in using one of those accounts. I always use my twitter one. If you do not have one of those accounts and have never used Disqus before, click in the box under "OR REGISTER WITH DISQUS". Enter your name, e-mail address, and a password. You can see below how I created an account for my husband as an example:

Step 5: Once signed-in, your name will appear in the "Post as..." box. You can type your comment in the box, click post, and you're done! Now that you have done this once, you will not need to sign-in or register again each time you want to comment (as long as you are doing so from the same computer or device).

Feel free to e-mail me if you have questions! Or comment below to let me know if this worked for you - happy commenting!

Friday, December 27, 2013

We leave for JAMAICA in 11 weeks!

Happy happy happy freakin Friday! woot woot! It's fiiiiinally Friday!

I really shouldn't be such a drama queen because I only had two days of work this week. So I should be more like, "It's already Friday?!" But let's be real: I'm already ready for the weekend. Unfortunately, this weekend is going to be pretty busy - not because I have lots of friends to hang out with or places to be, but because I'm going to force myself to start making something of myself. I need to be productive, organized, and healthy! This weekend I need to...

1. Unpack our Christmas presents. I am not complaining because we so very very lucky to be financially able to give and receive presents. But where are we going to put our new stuff?! Actually, it's more a matter of when and how...

2. Clean a little bit. If you know me, you know that the 'putting away of Christmas presents' will turn into a bit of a small clean sesh. 'Small' meaning I'll spend like 4 hours doing the two things.

3. Watch a Christmas movie. Christmas came and went way too fast! I am going to listen to Christmas music at least until January 1st. So this weekend I will let myself chillax and watch a Christmas movie, too. Because life is short.

4. Work on the bloggity blog. I'm sorry, blog, you've been neglected in the recent weeks. This weekend I will try to write posts, work on sponsorships, and get back to having a plan.

5. EXERCISE!!! (See title of current blog post.) We leave for Jamaica 11 weeks from tomorrow - myself, Parker, Ward, and Alyssa. Therefore, tomorrow morning I will go to the gym. I can't remember the last time I was at the gym and, not only is that a little embarrassing, but I miss the endorphins and stress-relief that exercise gives me. I also miss the toned body and confidence that exercise gives me, and I need to get that back in the next 11 weeks.

Have a great weekend, friends! Will you also be busy getting caught up on things now that Christmas is over?

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Our Christmas Story {2013}

Welcome back to regular life, folks! I guess I feel like I'm sort of eaaaaasing back into it - I was back at work today for a short two-day week, but with the holiday it should be pretty quiet. (Read: it might feel like the days are stretching on to infinity with no end in sight.) Nah, they actually shouldn't be too bad. In fact, sometimes it's nice to have the quiet days to catch up on things or organize files, etc. 

Plus, I'd have to say, this 26th Christmas of mine probably ranks up there in my Top 3 Christmases. We were home at my parents for 5 days, my brother and his fiancee were there the whole time, and we even got to see some out of town family. It was busy with food prep, cooking, drinking champagne (rough life!), presents, and catching up - but extremely relaxing at the same time. Does it get much better than that? Let me tell you: no. No it does not. Here's something I was thinking: don't you think we should have a holiday similar to Christmas like every 3 months? I mean, it's just an idea...

Saturday morning we sneakily opened presents from out of town family...shhh... Oh, and I think I might make myself a t-shirt with that wine quote. Would that be weird? I feel like a might make a few friends if I did.

The first of the Christmas festivities were Saturday night, with my mom's side of the family. We had Grandma's ribs, potatoes, swedish meatballs, green beans, and dessert. My Grandpa passed away last January so we didn't get together as a full group last year at Christmastime. It was fun for all of us to get together at Grandma's house this year. 
My cool parents:
Brother (Ward) + future sister-in-law (Alyssa):

Our second night of Christmas festivities was spent with Parker's grandparents. They drive to see us so we celebrate in their hotel room on the night they come to visit. We had sandwiches + wild rice soup, opened presents, and played cards.
Just a few views of Christmas prep: (Yes, that is my brother's GoPro in action...)

Our third, and final night, of Christmas festivities was spent at my parents' house at the lake with my parents, brother + Alyssa, and Grandma. It was our first year with 6 stockings hung - Alyssa will officially join the family next August so she thought it was pretty special to get her own stocking. All of us kids helped my mom cook throughout the day, then we enjoyed the evening over prime rib dinner, presents, and homemade Bailey's. Yes. Homemade :)
I think that my mom's table, china, and crystal is one of the most beautiful things ever...
I made the cookie trays. And by 'made', I mean put-together the cookie trays with all the goodies that everyone else made :)

I suppose it's probably time to get back to a normal routine now. For example, I should probably eat regular meals throughout the day that do not consist of cheese balls, chocolate, salty chex mix, or sweets of any sort. I should probably start exercising, too. I'll think about that tomorrow though, because it's already 5:45 pm so it's not like anything of that sort will be accomplished tonight. And tomorrow's Friday, so I'll probably just save that for Saturday actually.

Have fun getting back into your normal routine. I'd take tips on how to do this if you have any :)
I truly hope you all had a blessed Christmas!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

'Twas the Night Before Christmas...

...the sun is sparkling on the fresh-fallen snow

...the stockings are ready for santa, hung in a row

...the cookies are frosted, waiting to be eaten's so cold outside, don't forget your mittens

...the tree is full of presents that are wrapped

...we'll get to open them later after everyone has napped

...we might bundle up and go skating on the lake

...what a fun (but chilly!) day that would make

...time with family today will make the day one of the best

...come back on thursday to hear about the rest!

Happy Christmas to all, and to all a Good Night! :)

Monday, December 23, 2013

Give Someone a Smile

So, I've decided that Mondays aren't so bad when you don't have to get up early, go to work, or have any form of an agenda. I mean, I guess I have a bit of an agenda because I do have an appointment this morning at 9:30 but I don't mind. Oh, did I mention that said appointment is a massage appointment? Yup :) #happygirl

Basically, our Christmas festivities began on Saturday so I'm not going to do my usual Weekend Recap post because I'm going to save all the Christmas Recap shtuff for the 26th, okay? Okay. Don't cry about it. 

Follow me on instagram if you're obsessed with me.

Think about your favorite parts about the Christmas Season. Obviously presents, festive clothes, baking, and the yummy food are ah-mazing. Love them - I love all of those things. But my absolute favorite part is not something you can describe. It's not something you can see, touch, or hand to another person so they can tear into the wrapping paper. It's the feeling, and I am not trying to be deep, cheesy, or mushy. I just seriously love the feeling at this time of year. 

It's the Christmas music, smiles, happy people, and overall atmosphere that I love. Yes, we can get a little caught up in presents and shopping, which are not the reasons why December 25th is a special day. But people are shopping for the people that they love. They put time, money, and thought into picking out a present and it feels good to give. It feels good to make people happy. It feels good to make people smile. 

Last week I was standing in line at Target and the lady in front of me was a total bi-otch. The cashier smiled and said hi, the lady mumbled something back and wouldn't even make eye contact, let alone crack a smile. She was having issues with her debit card and, long story short, ended up swearing while throwing the fake little pen on the credit card machine. The young, brunette, kind cashier was very professional and patient, while I was practically seething watching all of this happen. What I wanted to say was, What is your problem? What could possibly have happened to make your day so horrible that you need to act like that? Have a Merry F***in Christmas, lady.

Of course I didn't say that. Why? Because I'm too kind, nice, and compassionate, among many other attractive qualities :) No, I decided not to say that because maybe she really was having a bad day. Maybe her son died the day before. Maybe she just lost her job. Maybe she was buying granola bars because she doesn't have a home with an oven to cook. Or maybe she's just plain awnry. Either way, the last thing I wanted to do was be more like her. We need to spread cheer and love, even if others are doing whatever they can to be cranky. So instead, when she looked up, I smiled. She didn't smile back but that's ok. Maybe it warmed her heart. Maybe she walked out of the mall in a little better mood than when she walked in. Maybe she allowed herself to hear the Christmas carols and feel that Christmas feeling as she made her way through the hustle and bustle.

And even if it didn't and she doesn't even remember me smiling at her that day, it made me feel good. And it definitely made the cashier feel good when it was finally my turn and I gave her a smile, with very apologetic eyes, and told her Merry Christmas. Tis the season for giving, and giving does not always need to involve gifts, money, or the like. We give presents that cost money because it's fun to buy things for the people that we love. But we can also give time, canned goods, spare change, or a plain-old smile. Give something that will spread around that feeling, because that feeling is the best part at this time of year.

A smile is free to give but it could completely change someone else's day. And they're contagious - think of the chain reaction that your one smile could start. 

Plus, it just feels good to smile. Try it. 

See what I mean?

Friday, December 20, 2013

H54F #19 | Christmas Edition

It's finally Friday! Today is my last day of work until next Thursday and we're actually going to head out around noon today, so it's really only a half-day. It's been sort of a weird week - for awhile there it seemed like it would never end, then bam! it's Friday. I'm not complaining. The week's been full of ups + downs, Christmas shopping, and staying up late every.single.night. We never stay up late - in fact, 9:30 is sort of an average bedtime for us so the 11:30 bedtimes that have been happening for the past 2 weeks are really starting to kick me in the butt. But, it's Friday and it's Christmastime - the most wonderful time of the year! Here are my High-Fives from this week:

+ Our Christmas shopping is done and we even got to go out and finish it up together Wednesday night. Walking around the mall at this time of the year is one of my favorite things.

+ My laundry hamper isn't over-flowing anymore. That deserves a high-five fo sho!

+ All our presents are wrapped! In fact, they're wrapped, packed in the car, and ready to make the trek home.

+ Parker said he'd make breakfast this morning :) That maybe doesn't seem "big" enough to make my high-five list, oh but it is. Although, he hasn't made it yet and leaves in about 30 minutes so...

+ Noon today: we're heading out, in my new car that I love, to my parents to spend the next 5 days spending Christmas with all of our family.

Remember my list of 10 things I should be doing instead of blogging? At least I made progress on a few of those this week! Also, I'm going to vlog (with Parker!) as we're driving home this afternoon. I finally have this cool wi-fi jetpack thing so I want to try that out. Leave me a comment or tweet me with some questions we should answer! I think Parker's really looking forward to this...I bribed him :)

Happy Friday - Happy Weekend - let the Christmas festivities begin!!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Eat: Chocolate Corn Flake Cookies

I'm popping in quick on this night before "Christmas break" to share, as promised earlier today on Instagram, a favorite Christmas cookie recipe. I don't know that you can really call them cookies because you don't bake them and they don't look like a cookie, but cookie it is! We call them Chocolate Corn Flake Cookies. Not only are they super delicious, but the recipe is completely basic and these are a surefire way to blow any diet or healthy-eating plans you may have set you mind to when you woke up this morning.

I need to give all credit to my husband for this batch that you see pictured below. He got up early to make them this morning for our work potluck today while I made the Green Bean Casserole.

6 oz. chocolate chips
12 oz. butterscotch chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
4 cups Corn Flakes
3/4 cups salted peanuts

Melt the first 3 ingredients. We do it in a saucepan because it's easy to keep it on a low heat so that it does not burn. (It could also be done in a microwave.) Stir in the Corn Flakes and peanuts. Drop by spoonfuls on wax paper. Let the cookies stand, set, and harden. We then put the pans with the wax paper / cookies outside because here in North Dakooota the below zero temperatures get those babies hard in about 5 minutes flat. Yields: approximately 18 cookies, depending on the size of your spoonfuls.

Wipe that drool off your face and go treat yourself to a favorite Christmas treat! See you tomorrow for Vlogging like a Boss!

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