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The Adventures of 2015

Wednesday, December 30, 2015
When I look back at 2015 I think of ‘new.’ New experiences, new adventures, new challenges. It was a year full of firsts from the big things like visiting our cabin in Rosita, Colorado, for the first time, writing for The Wichita Eagle, to the small things like trying Blue Apron delivered meals.

Mike enjoying a turkey leg at the Jewell County Threshing Bee in July.

All of 2015’s new experiences have challenged me to be more adventurous, honest, forgiving, open minded, and willing to accept change. And, I discovered I absolutely love collard greens. 

I spent the majority of my time at home this year on the patio - my favorite room of the house!

It was a good year; full of wonderful celebrations with family, time spent with good friends, and many nights spent burning pinon wood in the chiminea on our patio. 2015 brought a new Volkswagen GLI, half marathons, lake trips, a Threshing Bee birthday celebration, weddings, Thanksgiving dinner in Mankato, Garth Brooks in Wichita and plenty of toasting, dining, tailgating, cooking, writing, traveling, running, gardening, and laughing in between.

There were days that brought smiles, and there were days that brought tears, but once again I end the year feeling so very thankful for my many blessings.  
Thanksgiving in Mankato was fun and delicious.

Mike eating a Blue Apron meal. We were so skeptical - then so impressed.

My motto last year was, “Attitude is the difference between an ordeal and an Adventure.” I’m so glad that for the majority of the time I did choose to look at things as an adventure – because that’s really what life is – a great adventure. 

Mike and I took the UTV to 13,047 ft to Hermit Lake in August.

Here's to the next one. Happy 2016, friends.

Merry and Bright

Wednesday, December 16, 2015
This time of year it’s easy for things to become a blur. The gifts, the parties, the food, the wine, the busy schedule – it all becomes a lot in the month of December. So often I think we tend to say, “If we can just get through the holidays.” With this mindset, it’s easy to forget the things we really love about the season.

I went on a run last Monday night in the unseasonably warm December weather. It was really beautiful and perfect out. As I was running in the dusk all the homes in our neighborhood began to light up thanks to their handy-dandy timers. It was really magical to run along and see these sparkling displays come to life. We live in a neighborhood where people really love their Christmas lights, so I was surrounded by bright, glittery colors for the remainder of my run.

It got me thinking about Christmas lights – it’s kind of a peculiar tradition we have to throw brightly colored lights all over our homes and yards. It made me realize that Christmas lights are a small part of the Christmas season that I just really love.

I use white twinkle lights all over our house from the trees, the mantel, baskets of pine cones, to above our cabinets. I think they provide a much needed sparkle and warmth this time of year when it’s so cold and dark. In January I always miss all the Christmas lights in my house and throughout our neighborhood so much. Everything just seems so dark and plain.

As I ran by the dazzling displays of glistening reindeer and sparkling trees Monday night, I realized it’s so easy to forget about all the small things that I love about the Christmas season. For me, it’s just those simple strands of twinkle lights.

As I walked in the door after my run, I was greeted by my living room lit up by twinkle lights as well. I thought to myself how lucky I was to live in a country and society where we welcome light into our lives during this season.

What do you love about this time of year? I hope you remember to slow down and enjoy it. It truly is a wonderful season. May yours be merry and bright.

Thanksgiving in Mankato

Monday, December 7, 2015
For Thanksgiving, I used my last day off for the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, so we could celebrate early in Mankato and be back home Thursday evening so I could go to work Friday morning. While it may have been a short trip, I was a very fun trip. Wednesday morning my in-laws Ron and Judy, their dog Sydney, Mike, and I piled into the car and headed north. Much to our surprise the traffic was really light and we pulled into Jewell County in record time.

My parents greeted us in the drive as Weston and Missy welcomed Sydney’s arrival in full force. My mother, always the ultimate hostess, had the house all dolled up with beautiful Christmas decor and a lovely spread of appetizers for us to munch on. We were also delighted to spot a special Bloody Mary bar to kick off the Thanksgiving celebration. Mike whipped up a round of Bloody Marys for everyone with all the fixings.

 We sat around and visited, and then Mike and I presented our parents with their Christmas gifts – premium seats and parking to the Garth Brooks concert in Wichita on December 6! I even created a special version of ‘Twas the Night Before December 6‘ to announce the news.

Wednesday was a great day weather-wise so we all enjoyed getting out for a pre-feast walk with the dogs, and my mother and I took Judy to Possibilities for a little hometown shopping.

Mike and I made a special visit to see Grandpa in Superior before picking up Grandma for dinner. It is always nice to spend time with Grandpa. He’s always appreciative of a visit and a good story.

Back in Mankato, Ron, Judy, Grandma , Aunt Barbara, my parents, Mike and I, and - don’t forget the three dogs - all gathered around to give thanks, make a champagne toast, and dig in to our feast.

The food was wonderful as always, and everyone was left groaning and shoving their plate away. I think that’s a good thing on Thanksgiving. I always eat waaay too much sweet potato casserole, but I love it so much, it’s always worth it.  

A big thank you to my parents for hosting such a warm, welcoming, and delicious Thanksgiving. It was a very special celebration!

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