Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Wait, What?

Over the last few months I've participated in a Beauty Swap that one of my favorite ag bloggers, Crystal Cattle, co-hosts.  I've not had the pleasure to meet Crystal IRL, but I can imagine we'd get along great!  Corn. Cows.  Agriculture.  Make-up.  Boots.  The list goes on...

So last week she posted that it was time to sign-up for another round of swaps.  I immediately filled out the application to get a partner for this go-round and then waited to hear from Crystal about who I'd be paired with!

Last night after kicking some ass at our softball game (we 10 Run Ruled 'em), I checked my email and was excited to see a thread of email regarding next month's Beauty Swap!

Que the hilarity.

Email Oops

Whoa. WHOA. WHOA!!!  Due for WHAT?!?!

Shortly after (three minutes to be exact) the first email, this one showed up...

Email Oops

Bahaha!  I'm so glad the Crystal cleared up that I wasn't pregnant!  She had me worried. 

And my new pal, Whitney, she's not preggers either.  Her response to this was something like "well if I am pregnant I'd better do something about that sushi and whiskey I just consumed!" 

I like this girl already!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Weekend Festivities // Live Music and Fall Fun

Another great weekend has come and gone.  *sigh*  Thankfully, we'll have another one coming around again, but first a whole week of work!

Instead of diving into work, I'd rather relive this weekend's shenanigans...

Friday night we did a little drinking, dancing and singing to Mr. Aaron Watson!  Good times, great music!  Keeping my fingers crossed that he will be playing in Vegas when we head out in December.

Aaron Watson

After sleeping in 'til 10:30am Saturday morning I was feeling extra energetic and a little guilty about all those Redd's from the night before, so I headed out for a 4 mile run.  I felt extra spiffy in my coordinating workout gear!

Workout Gear

Matt and Bella headed to the farm to plant his deer food plot and I spent the rest of the afternoon in the kitchen whipping up some tasty yummies!  Broccoli salad, pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, bruschetta and apple crisp pie with salted caramel sauce.  The house smelled AMAZING!

After Matt got home and cleaned up we headed to Beitz's for supper and then we all headed off to hear some more live music!


Saturday night was Brushville, an up and coming country band who played at our wedding almost four years ago.  They've got two singles out on country radio, Bar Star and Baby's Got Her Boots On.  Check them out!  Here in central Illinois, they're a pretty big deal!

Since I slept like the dead Saturday morning, it was fitting that I was up bright and early Sunday.  But it was all for a good reason!  The first thing I did was prep a crock pot full of balsamic beef stew and then it was off to Apple 'N Pork Festival. 

Apple 'N Pork

Shockingly, I only bought one thing and it wasn't even for me... but a Christmas present!  I know... Christmas already!?!?  After checking out all the vendors that this year's festival had to offer it was time to head back and consume copious amounts of beef stew and apple pie while watching football!  After watching the Bears lose to the Packers (I guess it's only disappointing if you're a Bears fan, which I'm not... Go Broncos!) I started the process, and it really is a process, of decorating the house for fall! 

Fall Decor

What can I say, I love Fall!  We were married in October, so I have lots and lots of decorations left over from the wedding that I use to decorate the house every year.  I overheard Matt say to Bella, "Holy Fall shitzel Bella!  Doesn't it feel like we're in a pumpkin patch?"

Linking up with Biana and Meghan.

Friday, September 26, 2014

All Hail Friday!

It's sad when you have to refer to your calendar to remind you where and what you've done this week!  This week was softball, two nights worth for Matt and one for me... It was fun playing again!

Top that with meetings, FFA contests and yield checks for work.  

I can't forget those nights at the horse barn either!  Louie is riding really great these days!  We have one more IPHA show this season and then it's our 'off season'.   And all that really means is I'm still riding a couple nights a week, but not showing until next Spring.

To round out the work week, tonight my pal Maggie and I are headed to Springfield for an Aaron Watson concert!  I talked a bit about him in this post and I've heard some amazing things about his shows.  Pretty excited for some 'Red Dirt' country music to come to the flatlands of Illinois!

Then this weekend is the annual Apple and Pork Festival!  Close your eyes and envision: flea markets, crafters, all the apple things... Cider. Dumplings. Fritters.

It's a Fall lover's paradise!  Too bad (or not really if you're trying to keep your horse from putting on his winter hair coat for just another week or so!) there's talk of it being in the mid to upper 80's this weekend!

I'm hoping the festival will inspire me to dig out all my fall decor and get the house in the spirit of the season!

How did you spend your week?  Have any fun plans for the weekend?

Linking up with Karli, Amy and Amanda.  

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Vacation Recap, Days 5-7

The last half of my vacation to the East Coast was spent in New York City.  I had originally planned to fly home Tuesday midday, but everyone convinced me to stay a little longer so they could take me to the city.  Let me tell you, they really had to twist my arm!  I was able to get things squared away with work and graduate school to stay the extra time so I did and boy am I glad it worked out!!

Tuesday morning after breakfast, all five of us loaded up and hit the road to the big city.  It takes about an hour to get from Dan and Laura's to the outskirts of NYC, but obviously with traffic and what not it took longer to get into the actual city.  When we first got to town we headed to SoHo to go to Kelsey's favorite store.  From there we headed to Little Italy and Chinatown and did some window shopping and browsing at the store fronts there.  We ended up finding some cute purses and jewelry that no one could say "No" too.  By this time we were all starving and decided that lunch was next on our To-Do List.  The last time Laura and Dan were in NYC they found Heartland Brewery and wanted to share it with us.  I had the most amazing plate of Tex Mex Nachos and a delicious adult beverage, sorry no pictures.  After lunch we wandered in and out of some of the boutiques and shops around Seaport.  I was also able to see the Brooklyn Bridge!
I had great luck shopping in that area and ended up with three dresses and a bunch of accessories thanks to Dan and Laura.  I'm telling you these two people are the best EVER!

After leaving the Seaport area we headed to our hotel.  For our impromptu trip to the city we stayed here...
The hotel was commissioned by William Randolph Heart in 1926 as a statement of love for Marian Davies, whose picture is located everywhere through the hotel.  Many old time Hollywood celebs have stayed at this iconic hotel back in the day and it really is beautiful!

Around 6:00PM we hit the city streets to walk to supper, but along the way we went by...
 For supper we went to Gallagher's NY Prime Steakhouse.  This particular restaurant has been serving great steaks in NY for 85 years!  That's a lot of beef!
We dined on clams, crab cakes, crab cocktail, sauteed baby spinach, sauteed mushrooms and of course some very delicious steak!  I had the signature "The New York Strip" which is dry aged to perfection for 21 days.  To wash it all down we drank several bottles of champagne and toasted to great trips, great friends and a great meal.  After we left the restaurant we headed to Times Square, which was really magical at night.
Times Square is certainly a big draw for tourists and I had no shame picking out magnets, key chains and signs to bring home for Matt!  Somehow we also found ourselves in this store with giant statues, where Kelsey found some of her relatives!
Isn't the resemblance striking?!?!  Love you Kels!

By this time the rain set in and we took refuge in the the BIGGEST M&M store I have ever seen!  There was just about every colored M&M you could imagine, as well as clothes, jewelry, and statues of the characters.  Do you have a favorite character?  I've always like Yellow, he crack's me up.  I also had the opportunity to try the Dark Chocolate Mint M&M's, holy cow they were yummy!  The rain had begun to let up and we decided to brave the sprinkles and head back to our hotel.  Along the way, Kelsey climbed into a fountain on a dare.  Did you know you can get arrested for that?  Oppsy!  Thankfully, we didn't get caught.  To wrap up a great day we all had dessert and drinks in the bar of the hotel and then headed to bed.

Wednesday morning Dan and Laura headed back New Jersey and left Kelsey, Luke and I in the city to be collected by Tommy, my chaffuere.  We had breakfast downstairs in the hotel and then headed towards Central Park for a carriage ride.  While it may be touristy, I didn't care I needed some horse-time!  Joey took us on a great trip and our driver Ian told us all about the park and neighborhood.
 After leaving Joey, Kels and I broke off from the boys who wanted food and headed to Forever 21 and did some more serious shopping!  We both did really well here and came home with some cute clothes.  From Forever we walked down the block to Macy's.
This store is seriously HUGE!  Seven floors and a whole city block huge!  Ladies, there is TWO floors of just SHOES!  The building itself is really cool, my favorite feature is the old wooden escalators.  Talk about historic. 

This is the last photo I snapped in the city and it's very "New York"...
Someday I hope to come back with Matt and actually go up inside.  That and do some of the serious tourist attractions too like the Statue of Liberty and a Broadway show!  Crowds aren't really Matts thing so it might be more like dragging him...

Leaving the city we went through the Lincoln Tunnel, which spurred an entire conversation of Elf quotes!

"I passed through the seven levels of the Candy Cane forest, through the sea of swirly twirly gum drops, and then I walked through the Lincoln Tunnel."
" I'm a cotton-headed ninny-muggins."

I seriously love love love this movie!

Once we were back in NJ we were all spent!  Exhausted hardly covers it.  The evening was spent watching movies, eating Chocolate Covered Pretzel ice cream, and relaxing. 

Thursday after packing and breakfast, Tommy showed up and took me back to the airport in Philly.   Matt and Bella both showed up in Bloomington to collect me, talk about the welcome wagon!  I'm not sure who was more excited to see me, Matt or Bella?  The trip out to New Jersey was wonderful and I'm so grateful for the Muirhead/Young family for having me out to see them!  I'm ready to come again whenever you are! 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Life Lately

I know I'm not the only one, but holy smokes y'all life is a little crazy right now! 

My last post was all about the excitement leading up to seeing Mr. Garth Brooks in concert (which was AMAZING and will get it's own dedicated post at some point), but while that was happening I was also busy tying up loose ends at work, cleaning out my office and saying good-byes at my old job! 

Yep, I left my job with U of I Extension.  I was sad to leave some of the fantastic people I worked with, but the opportunity for change was so enticing I couldn't resist!  And I'm so stinking excited about it!!

In this new position, I will be going into local schools and sharing information on all sorts of ag-related topics with students and teachers through hands-on activities and curriculum.  I could walk in the store room where the kits are kept and literally teach about more than 50 topics...
Careers in Ag. 
The list goes on and on!

On top of just starting a new job, there was also a big educational event scheduled for this week!  In two days time, we hosted 38 teachers and 912 students at our local community college to teach them about agriculture, conservation and food through demonstrations and learning stations. 

To sum it up, this week has been like trying to drink water from a fire hose... 

Friday, September 12, 2014

5 Favorite Garth Brooks Songs

Remember back when I was going on and on about how I couldn't believe that Garth Brooks was FINALLY going back out on tour after a 17 year hiatus?

The day the tickets went on sale was absolutely crazy!  Not only was I searching for tickets, but so was my friend Kelsey.  She was convinced all she wanted for her birthday this year was tickets to the show and we were hell bent on making it happen!  Originally we only knew of the one show on 9/4, but that morning media outlets in the area were announcing he was going to do a total of four shows in Chicago.

This obviiously increased our chances of seeing Garth, but still didn't guarantee anything!

At 10am on the dot, we started our ticket search.  It was a frenzy!

We weren't having any luck, but the good news was they (Garth. His people. Whoever makes those decisions?) kept announcing more shows!  It even got to where he will be playing a 6pm and a 10:30pm concert!  In-freaking-sane.

By the grace of God, we ended up with our 6 tickets on the floor for tonight's 10:30pm show!!  To add to the awesome-ness, Trisha Yearwood is singing with him!  Um, She's In Love With The Boy... don't get me started!

Can you tell I'm beyond stoked?!?!

And in honor of the epic-ness of tonight's festivities I've compiled five of my favorite songs that are sung by the one and only!

Garth Brooks

The Ropin' The Wind album, and Rodeo specifically, was on repeat at my house for months and as a girl who grew showing horses I obviously LOVED this song!

Friends in Low Places
This song.  It's a Garth classic.  The legendary third verse of this song seals the deal for me!

That Girl is a Cowboy and Fishin' in the Dark
One of my favorite CD's is The Lost Sessions and these two are probably my favorites!  That Girl is a Cowboy registers with how I was raised and act, even now.  If you've never heard Garth's cover of Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's Fishin' In the Dark, you need to.  It's worth the listen.  He has changed it enough, but also kept the integrity of the original.

If Tomorrow Never Comes
While I prefer more of Garth's honky tonk, beer drinking stuff to his softer love songs, If Tomorrow Never Comes really pulls at the heart strings.  In the song he's talking about the woman he loves, but you could relate it to just about anyone who means something to you.  Life is short.  Tell them now, just in case!

So spill, did you get tickets for a show near you?  Can you pick just one favorite Garth song?   

The Grits Blog - Little Friday Linkup
Linking up with Bri, Karli, Amy and Amanda.  

Friday, September 5, 2014

Components of a Great Trip!

Last month, Casey threw down a challenge to all those Fresh Face Friday linker-uppers.  In place of simply linking up, she asked that we write in response to a specific prompt!  Fun right?!

And I don't know about y'all, but when someone else does half the work by giving me a topic, creating blog content becomes way easier! 

Today's prompt was 'The Greatest Trip of Your Life'.  In the last year, I've gotten to go on some epic adventures {Disneyland, New Jersey, Colorado, Puerto Rico} so picking just one was a bit of a struggle!  After doing some thinking drinking, Puerto Rico really stands out in my mind.  And instead of just rehashing the awesomeness when you can read about it (here, here and here) I want talk about what makes a great trip!  So with out further yammering on my end...

La Cueva del Indio

Stellar Companion, Check.
My pal Allis is the bomb.com.  She is literally the reason this trip was possible!  You see, I'm what you call a Conference Wife.  Do I really need to explain that?  Basically, she goes to really awesome places for work and she asks me to tag along!  And traveling with Allis is awesome.  We both enjoy a plan, like to do some researching before we pull the trigger, but are always up for an adventure!

Food, Check.
Every great trip has to be accompanied by great food.  The food in PR didn't disappoint!  We treated ourselves to an amazing meal at Marmalade and ate mofongo with the locals.  Both were delicious!


Drink (Food's Bestie), Check.
We may have drank the pool bar at the hotel out of Bombay Sapphire gin.  Please don't judge, their concoction was delicious.  Allis also introduced me to a delicious Spanish wine, Tempranillo!  To be clear, it wasn't all about the booze.  The fresh squeezed OJ was fantastic. Oh, but I forgot to mention the margaritas...  Maybe it was all about the booze!

Margaritas and Coronas

Scenery, Check.
Allis and I decided that we wanted to do some local sightseeing, but would rather explore some of PR's hidden gems rather than the touristy places.  After asking our concierge, he recommended La Cueva del Indio and it was so worth the winding roads, rain storms and U-turns!  The view from our balcony didn't suck either.

La Cueva del Indio

La Cueva del Indio

Beach view in Puerto Rico 

Adventures, Check.
Salsa dancing by the beach.  Exploring Old San Juan.  Kayaking in the bioluminescent bay.  Gambling with Brown Dog.  Paddle boarding.  La Cueve del Indio.  It was all fantastic!

Paddle boarding

La Cueva del Indio

Gambling in Puerto Rico

Now it's your turn!  As this month's Fresh Face Friday co-host I want to hear all about the greatest trip you've ever taken!

Welcome to the

Hosted by: Casey @ We Took the Road Less Traveled

This week's writing topic: 
Tell us about the greatest trip of your life!

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Thursday, September 4, 2014

If You Knew Me In High School

I went to what could possibly be the smallest public school in Illinois.

My senior year there were 12 of us!  Seriously.  That year, the whole school touted 60 students.
Small, huh!?!?

The size of the school definitely had some things going for it, but it was also part of my issues with high school.  I actually don't keep in contact with any of my other 11 classmates.  Despite our class/school size, we weren't close at all.  We were for the most part "friends", but I contribute that to size and proximity.  If the 12 of us went to a big school, there is no doubt in my mind we wouldn't have been in the same clique.

While I was not Suzy High School nor did I win any Best (whatever) yearbook contests, I was a cheerleader for all four years!  Shocking I know.  I really enjoyed it too! 

Other than cheerleading, I was also very involved with our school's FFA chapter.  FFA really gave me a 'home'.  I met some fantastic friends through my involvement with that organization, as well as 4-H!  After connecting with other kids who shared my passion for agriculture, high school got much easier.  It no longer bothered me that I didn't really fit in with the other kids, I had my own clique!

Outside of school and my other youth activities, I also worked part time at the horse barn where I took riding lessons.  My riding instructor and I are still very close and without her, I don't know where I'd be!  During summer vacation, I took up residency in their guest room.  My horse even stayed at their farm because he needed to be where I was!

 photo IfYouKnewMeInHighSchoolButton_zps30597f9b.jpg
Linking up with Libby at Health, Love & Fire.