Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Three Simple Rules | Wednesday Wisdom

Source: via Jamie on Pinterest

Could it really be as simple as this? It's my mantra this week.

Happy Wednesday!


Friday, January 11, 2013

H54F | January 11

Thank goodness for the weekend.

Quick disclaimer: Just in case you questioning H54F (just like my husband!), it stands for High Five For Friday! It's a post where I celebrate the end of the work week & the exciting things that happened in the last week. As always, I am linking up with Lauren at From My Grey Desk.

I don't know about you, but this week seemed to take forever. It was my first full week at work in almost a month and it was the first week I have worked all five days in the office in what seems like forever. Plus, I had a rotten Thursday. I was anxiously awaiting an email with important news that I thought I should have received on Wednesday, which resulted in my checking me email every 20 minutes. And in the end, there was a voicemail there the entire time that I never noticed.

Talk about unnecessary stress.

And then later that night, I biffed it down the stairs while trying to carry two cups filled with cold, old coffee. Imagine a 24-year old covered in day-old coffee with a bruised hip and a bruised ego. That was me.

So here we are at Friday, a few more hours until the weekend and I am 99% positive that I will make it. Nothing can be as bad as the sopping wet hair I had after that coffee fiasco. :)

Here's five things that made this week great:

1. Family
{the beautiful women of the May family}
My brother & Betsey were back in Minnesota for the weekend and we got to spend Saturday celebrating at a family friend's wedding and Sunday celebrating Christmas. It was nice to have most of us under one roof and we even got to have a sleepover at the 'rents like the good old days.

2. Christmas is officially over.
{We finally remembered to take a "Christmas" picture}
I love Christmas (love might be an understatement), BUT I was ready for Christmas celebrations to be over.  We opened the last presents on Sunday and we recycled the tree on Wednesday. It's done. Thank goodness. No more appetizers or cookies, please!

{we didn't get to watch the game because of the wedding, but that didn't mean we couldn't show our Bison pride!}
My beloved Bison (and the entire state of North Dakota) traveled to Frisco, TX, for the national championship game last weekend and won. #BisoNation lives on.

4. Crafts are back

{new fabrics from Mills End Textiles - I may or may not have a fabric obsession.}
After I got through Christmas, I vowed to put my inner craft nerd to rest for a few weeks. But a few big things happened this week that will force me back in business shortly -- new fabric, an email that my "For The Makers" box is on the way, a quilting class this weekend and best of all, I finally got my Cameo out of the box. I just don't have the determination to avoid my sewing machine after all that in one week. 

5. It's National Milk Day

Enough said. Can we all agree to drink a glass to celebrate?

Happy Friday!


Thursday, January 10, 2013

2012: A Photographic Review

{2012 In Review | January 2012 - Upper Left; December 2012 - Lower Right}
2012 has come & gone, but before it's forgotten I wanted to put together a post with some of my favorite photos from the year. Above is photo collage featuring a favorite memory/event/highlight from each month starting with January in the upper left and reading left to right from top to bottom ending with December in the lower right.

Here's a little key:

Jan: Mexico!
Feb: Back To NDSU  
Mar: Little Bro's Big Win  
April: First 5k
May: Eric Church  
June: Cattle Shows
July: MJP Lut Wins!
Aug: Mashed Potatoes On A Stick & Fairs  
Sept: Blakeman Turns 1
Oct: Harvest
Nov: Breaking Cattle  
Dec: Homemade Christmas

Did you catch all that?

If not, here's a really quick month-by-month breakdown:

January: January brought my first every warm weather vacation and I loved every second of it. Free drinks, beach reading & a tan? Can a girl ask for anything better? I will take one every January.
{Perfect trip to Riveria Maya. You can read about it here.}

February: The highlight of February was that it was simply normal. Despite a quick work trip to the Gaylord Opryland hotel (which I will admit is completely ridiculous in its own right) in Nashville, I did a lot of relaxing, a little bit of crocheting and wasted a lot of hours watching Gossip Girl. Plus, we made a super fun trip back to our alma matter and I watched one of my favorites win Little I champion.

March: March brought amazingly warm weather so I decided to train for that what seemed like a marathon 5K I vowed to run. I also spent a lot of hours in the barn with my husband and we made a trip to SDSU to watch my little brother dominate the Little I sho.

April: A lot of things happened in April but none of them hold a candle to my first 5k. I was the girl who hated, maybe even despised, running and I did it. 3.1 miles conquered. It was a great feeling.

May: May is my birthday month so it was bound to be fabulous. We celebrated with an awesome trip to Church on a Thursday (Eric Church, friends!), a few trips to Twins game, a weekend trip to the lake and a lot of family time.

June: I could describe June with two words. Cattle. Shows. Luckily I got to spend a lot of time with the four people below and good cattle which made all of the sweat & disgustingness worth it. Another highlight? I donated my hair to someone who needed it more than me. Check that one off my 101 in 1001 list.
{Maynard, Jason, Matt & Mark - my summer travel companions.}
July: Would you even be surprised if I said July brought even more cattle shows? This resulted in NO blogging and a lot of road time, but the purple banner from Louisville and a new maroon jacket for my little brother made the road trips completely worth it.

{MJP Lut & the Purfeerst family}
 August: August was a bittersweet month for the May family. We had a lot of lasts. The last 4-H steer in the cooler, the last Dakota County 4-H beef show, the last championship drive as a nervous sibling and the last Minnesota State Fair auction. It was a fun run and we came a long way from that skinny dairy steer Andy May showed nearly 20 years ago. August was also the month we packed Jason up and sent him off to Kansas...and didn't anything hear from him for 2 and a half weeks.

By the way, the picture in the center square of the collage at the top of the page is my favorite photo of the year. I am so lucky to have all of them.

September: September flew by. We spent the month breaking calves and harvesting corn - a definite snapshot of the rest of my life. It was also a learning month for me. I learned how to rip (think tractor & field work), how to weigh corn and what it meant to officially be a farm wife. (You can read more about that here.)

October:  October 2012 will forever go down in the record books. Last year I was worried that everyone would be harvesting corn on my wedding day; in 2012, our last kernel was tucked safely in the bin on October 7th. Regardless of how unheard of it was, it meant I got my husband back, which was a definitely plus.

November: November marked one year as husband and wife for Mark & I. Our first year made me a firm believer in the power of marriage - you may have the very best relationship, but I promise, it will even get better when you say "I do" and I love that.

{christmas favorites | tree, skiing & mittens}

December: And then there was December. Could you agree that December was a completely exhausting month? Maybe we should blame it on my Type A personality that vowed to make everyone I know a homemade Christmas gift (there will definitely be a blog about how this might not have been the best idea) or that my kitchen became a mitten-making factory for a few weeks or that I am obsessive-compulsive when it comes to wrapping paper?

Anyway, besides the stress, December was the best. I learned how to ski, spent a lot of time with friends, was able to see my crazy family a lot and had a really gorgeous red & green house for a few weeks. There is nothing better in my opinion.

And now it's  January 10th. If the last 10 days are any indication of what's to come in 2013, it will be full of both challenges and blessings. And hopefully a lot more photos that capture more fantastic memories. :)


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Wednesday Wisdom | Stay Positive While Climbing That Mountain

Source: via Jamie on Pinterest

I absolutely love this quote. In fact, I actually might make a sign just like this when I finally get my Cameo out of the box. I have been in too many fabulous situations with a crabby person that tries to bring everyone down. So it's a challenge? So what? So we are we walking down a freeway off-ramp in France looking for a hotel that we have absolutely NO idea where it is - so what? We're in France. Doesn't that make it fabulous regardless? (I have been there, done that, if you couldn't tell.)

I dare you to live by this. Life can get hard. I know that, however, we can always find a positive in any situation...even if the only positive you can find is that you can't hear my stellar singing voice while I climb ahead of you.

Happy Wednesday!


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Time I Tried To Be A Family Photag

What I learned? It's a lot harder than it looks. 

I've owned my D7000 for nearly four months and I am confident it's one of the best purchases I could have made. I am starting to get all the fun features figured out...though I have yet to figure out how to do video -- any help?!?...and really having fun with it. I am always amazed on how sharp & crisp the photos are, and you want color? The D7000 delivers.

However, I will be the first admit that I am not a professional. A lot of people think that if you buy a nice camera, you can immediately take great pictures. But it's not that simple. It takes so much time and practice to really get to know your camera, let alone perfect your craft, but I do think the camera is a start and any time I can shoot pictures, I will. It's all about learning.

So when my sister asked me to do an casual family photo shoot for Christmas card photos last fall (I know...just posting about it now!? don't have to remind me), I hesitantly agreed.

Don't get me wrong, I was really excited. This would be a great opportunity to practice photographing people (I tend to get a lot of practice on cows, not always people) and all I needed was one good one, right? But there was that nagging voice that kept reminding me how terrible it could go. You know, the whole "I am not a professional" thing kept dragging me down.

Then I reminded myself that Cathy wasn't paying me, so I warned her a few times that it could go terribly wrong, put on my big girl shoes and did it.

Here are some of my favorites.

All in all -- it turned out pretty well! We ended up with some photos that not only will work, but also managed to capture the personalities of my niece and nephew perfectly. (Aren't they the cutest?) That's definitely the bonus of having your sister be your photographer. We didn't have too many forced smiles, managed to escape with only a half-crabby kid and got to enjoy a beautiful fall day tromping around the woods together. 

I'll mark it down as a success.

Hopefully we can try it again in the spring and hopefully by the time my kiddos role around (in the far, far future), I will be a professional a little more confident.

By the way, a downfall (and a perk) of having a grown-up camera is all the photos you take. In less than an hour, I snapped 546 photos. WHAT?! That, friends, equals a LOT of editing.

And finally, I have no idea what settings I used to take these photos (literally, I had owned my camera for less than a month when I took the pictures), but I did do most of the editing with the help of good old PW's photoshop actions. You can download them here

So what do you think? I'm open to friendly critiques. When I took the photos I was so frustrated with the amount of bokah in some of the photos, but luckily Cathy liked it...and unlucky for me, I haven't figured out how to come even close to the same results again. Suggestions? I am also on the lookout for a good photography book to read this winter -- let me know if you have a favorite!


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Here's To 2013

As we welcome in 2013 (with friends and remnants of last night's fun littered all over our house), it seems impossible not to log on to the sorely forgotten Cows, Corn & Country Girls and reminisce on a really great, nearly perfect 2012.

We were blessed. 

There are no other words that do 2012 justice.

We are blessed to have each other and our families who drive us to do better and love deeper. We are blessed to have friends that are there to celebrate our greatest accomplishments and build us back up when we need their support. We are lucky to have jobs that remind us that life requires work and dedication, but also provide us with the means to try new things, splurge every once and while and live comfortably. We are blessed to have a happy little home that afforded us the opportunity to explore a new community, find a dive of a bar that we love and enjoy Sunday morning coffee shops and quirky dinner dates. And we were blessed to have a year that allowed us to fall in love with each other and life even more than we thought possible.

{love him}
And I fully expect 2013 to be even better.

Hopefully it will bring a vacation of a lifetime so we can finally check that honeymoon off our to-do list and if we all cross our fingers (are you crossing them?!), maybe by early summer I will be looking out our window at cows on pasture and be spending my nights checking for heat and weeding the garden. (Doesn't that sound amazing!?) Oh and another potential game changer will be a legitimate craft room where I can maybe finish a quilt or two.

2013 will likely bring a lot of cattle shows and road trips to watch our little brothers and family accomplish big things and we will spend a lot of Saturdays celebrating the weddings of our friends. We will hopefully babysit our niece and nephew a little more, have more nights relaxing with our families and find reasons to laugh until we cry. And hopefully, in between the adventures, we finally find our purposes professionally and continue to grow in our careers.

There is no doubt that there will be challenges. I hope and pray that everyone I love and everyone that they love stays safe, happy and healthy, but I know that won't always be the case, so hopefully Mark and I can find trust in God and find peace in even the most heart-breaking moments. 

2012 ended with some unnecessary tragedies. My heart hurt for my friends, family and even complete strangers too many times in December. If nothing else it reminded me to love each and every person in my life to the fullest, to wear my seatbelt and stay focused on the road and cherish the life I have. Every moment is a gift.

Like every year, I hope to read a few more books, make a few new friends, reconnect with old friends, continue blogging and get high-school skinny again. Those resolutions are oldies but goodies and somehow make the list every year. Hopefully I can actually accomplish a few in 2013 (especially the high-school skinny & blogging...). But I also have a few big dreams for the year ahead. Big, scary ones. And I can't wait.

So here's to you, 2013. Let's make it a good one. I plan to love every minute.