Monday, December 29, 2014

Cookie Party

The weekend before Christmas we loaded up the critters and headed for my parents farm.  Mom and Dad had yet to meet Haddie and rather than throw her to the wolves on Christmas Eve, we thought a slow rolling introduction would be nice. 

I can report that our two dogs, my parents two and my sister's two all get along!  Now, it's not all rainbows and roses, but no one died! 

In addition to introducing Miss Haddie, I was up to decorate Christmas cookies with some of my girlfriends.  In years past, we tend to bog ourselves down with the sheer quantity of cookies made and our decorating rapidly declines after the first batch!  When we reached the point we were 'done' cookies would make a  careless face first dive into the frosting bowl only to be precariously sprinkled with whatever decoration was closest just so we could finally be done...

But this year it was quality not quantity and we had a much better time!

Not riddle me this, folks... What the H is this cookie cutter?

 I've gotten several guesses via facebook and Instagram, but tell me what you think it is?!?!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Viva Las Vegas

I'm on a mission to get all of 2014 highlighted before it's gone and I've yet to post anything about our recent Vegas trip.  This is the second year in a row that we've went out to LV for the National Finals Rodeo with our friends Maggie and Shawn. 

Sunday night after getting checked in at MGM and promptly headed to the bar.  We didn't venture to the dance floor as the drinks were more easily accessible where we were at, but Trick Pony was that evenings entertainment.

Bright and early Monday morning our group met "my" Ag girls for our breakfast that I wrote about last week.  After spending two hours visiting and eating, our group disbanded and we went on our merry way.  It was time for some SHOPPING!!  To Cowboy Christmas we go! 

Shortly after arriving at the convention center, we ditched the boys and us girls walked aisle by aisle looking for anything we couldn't live without.  Shockingly, it took quite some time to find that one item that breaks the ice!  For a minute there I was concerned I wasn't going to find anything I couldn't absolutely live without... Ha.  I should have known better!

My first purchase was a leather cuff made from an old leather belt that still has the white buckstitch threading.  I'm a sucker for cuffs.  And buckstitch!

I also pulled the trigger on some gorgeous turquoise earrings.  These puppies are going to get a LOT of use!  Like people may think I don't own anything else.

After grabbing an early supper, we headed over to the Thomas and Mack for Round 5 of the NFR.  This year marked the 30th anniversary that the rodeo has been in Las Vegas!  And for the last 28 years, the rodeo has been sold out.  I find that pretty impressive!

 The NFR always presents the American flag in fine fashion!

Grand Entry!
Following Round 5, we caught a cab out to South Point for the Buckle Presentations that air the following day on RFD-TV.  The go-round winners all bring their family and friends on stage and spend a few minutes recapping that night's events with the announcers.

The highlight of Round 5 was that Joe Frost won the bull riding and brought Clyde and Elsie Frost on stage with him.

Remember me talking about Lane Frost, well Joe is his cousin.  Talk about carrying on the family tradition!

Surprise, surprise, Tuesday we did more shopping.  I have to say, I was pretty picky about what I wanted and didn't want this year.  This year I gravitated to well-made leather goods and quality clothes that I didn't already have anything similar to at home.

LS Shirt//Small Town Gypsy, Dress//Wrangler, Wallet//Appaloosa Trading Company

The headband and earrings below are some of my "quality" 2014 purchases!  I adore them with the serape' dress I purchased last year in Vegas! 

Headband//Running Roan, Earrings//The Jewelry Lady, Dress//Tasha Polizzi, Boots//Minnetonka
When we got back from the rodeo, we headed to our fave hotel bar and ended up rubbing elbows with The King of the Cowboys, aka Trevor Brazile!  If you're not a rodeo fan and his name means nothing to you, let me give you some stats:

12 All Around Cowboy titles
21 PRCA gold buckles
And more than $494,000 in winnings in 2014 alone!

He's kind of a big deal!

Wednesday, you guessed it... more shopping!  We had to go back for the stuff we initially passed on and couldn't live without.  No rodeo tickets for Wednesday evening, but we did get to go to Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill at Caesars Palace! 

Dress//Francesca's, Denim Vest//Kohl's
It. Was. Epic!

Some of the best food I've ever had in my whole life!  There's really not enough exclamation points to describe it.  And I was too busy "mmm"-ing to get an decent pictures of the food, but if you're going to be in Vegas to yourself a favor and get a reservation!  For appetizers we split the lobster tacos and the tiger shrimp.  For entrees, Matt had the lamb chop, I had the pork tenderloin and the Beitz's split the massive porterhouse.  Each plate came with sides, but we also had the sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts.  Everyone passed on dessert because even our hollow legs were full!

And all good things must come to an end... Thursday afternoon we flew home to blustery Illinois.  #wompwomp  

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas

Naughty or Nice, we wish y'all a very Merry Christmas! 

I hope you're enjoying time with loved ones, partaking in some holiday "cheer" and only eating half your weight in Christmas cookies!! 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Card Outtakes

With every good Christmas card, there's is always some pretty entertaining outtakes!  And the probability of the 'bad' outweighing the 'good' increase tenfold when you add critters to the mix... 

I hope these give you a giggle on your Christmas Eve!

Sun in the eyes, sun in the eyes!  Haddie has spotted something way more entertaining than whatever we're doing here...  And Bella, obviously she just woke up from a nap!

Again with the sun!  Haddie seems to less than impressed with "Picture Time".  Bella, you're looking cute!

More frown lines and squinty eyes.  And something beyond the camera has B's attention... Squirrel.

 Hey Matt, STOP SQUINTING!!  Everyone else has pulled it together, why do you have to keep dragging us down?!

Merry Christmas Eve!  
You'll know tomorrow if you were on the Naughty or Nice List!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Ugly, Uglier, Ugliest

Every year for the last six years, Matt and I have hosted a Christmas party for some of our closest friends.  Costumes are highly encouraged as each year is a different theme! 

We've done:
Dress as Your Favorite Reindeer
Favorite Christmas Movie Character
Pajama Party
Mele Kalekemaka
Awesome 80s

This year we finally decided to have an Ugly Christmas Sweater theme!

I probably started looking for my sweater a little too late and wasn't really surprised when Goodwill had nothing on the shelves.  I resorted to making both mine and Matt's.  All thanks to a little hot glue!

This year in addition to the food, I also made a 'photo station' and came up with a hashtag specifically for the event that everyone could use on social media.  #reallyuglyRinglerChristmas 
Everyone seemed to really dig the light up frame and I got quite a few good pictures of everyone in their finery! 

I was highly impressed that so many people decide to dig up their Christmas spirit, embrace the ugly and get dressed up!! 

In addition to eating and drinking copious amounts of holiday food, we always play a cut throat game of CatchPhrase and MarioKart on the Wii.  As you can imagine, the house gets really, REALLY loud during all the games!  

Our party always seems to put me in the Christmas spirit and I look forward to getting together with our pals each year.  

Next year's theme: Cowboy Christmas!!

Christmas is just a few days away!  Are you ready? 

Friday, December 19, 2014

5 Things Ag Girls Talk About

Quick Poll:  How many of you have met other bloggers who you're "friends" with online?

I can officially say I have!

Maggie, myself, Crystal and Darcy//Darcy's friend Anna behind the camera!
Prior to our trip to Las Vegas last week, Crystal, Darcy and I talked about getting together, having what the cool kids call a "blate" and meet IRL.  This chick is down with the lingo of the interwebs!!   After finalizing all the deets (okay, I'll stop now!), even deciding to include both the husbands and accompanying friends, we had a plan in place!  It was an interesting discussion with Matt trying to explain what exactly we were doing that morning eating breakfast with strangers, but I'm here to tell you it was a total success!!!

Sitting the group, 10 total, together proved to be a challenge for the restaurant and the girls ended up sitting at one table and the boys another.  Sink or swim!  Crystal's husband was the only one without a wing-man, but from what I heard he did all right!

Not surprising, us girls weren't short on conversation!  We all come from agriculture backgrounds and we spent two hours talking about...

Commodity Prices
Being farmers daughters, ranchers wives and women involved in the agriculture industry, we all know that the market prices dictate some much of our livelihood.  Darcy is from Oregon so her perspective and cropping is similar, but different compared to Crystal (who's from Iowa by way of Kansas and Canada before that!) and mine being from the Midwest.

Make Up
Would you believe it if I told you that it was make up that brought us together in the first place?  It's true!  Crystal is the founder of the Beauty Swap that I've participated in and done several posts about (here and here).  I was reading her blog lllooonnnggg before the Swap, but since participating I've "met" a lot of awesome ag gals who from time to time clean the dirt out from under their fingernails and enjoy getting glammed up as much as I do!

Darcy and Crystal raise cattle and I grew up doing the same.  Darcy refers to the "ranch" and Crystal talks about the "farm", but while the terminology and picture in your mind are different, the work and values instilled in are the same!

Cowboy Boots
Want to see a pair of beautiful cowboy boots?  Check out this pair that Crystal wore for her wedding!  In LV, I was on a mission to find a pair of boots that fit my long list of particulars and while I didn't come home with a pair, I do think I found THE ONES!  Finally.

Explaining This Whole Blogging Thing to Non-Bloggers
Are you really only "friends" with people you've met in real life?  I sure hope not!  There's quite a few ladies out there that I've "met" that I'm sure I'd be friends with if we both came out from behind our computer screens...  I totally talk about you or share you're experiences, reviews, etc. with other people saying "Oh, I have this friend who..." 

Go check out these two blogs because I'm here to tell you agriculture isn't all about cows, sows and plows!!

I hope you have a great weekend and enjoy your last weekend before Christmas!!

Linking up with Karli, Amanda and Christina.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Happy Howlidays

'Tis the season for rushing to the mailbox to grab all the Christmas cards!  Like a knock down, drag out fight to the mailbox...

I started mailing Christmas cards as a part of my 30 by 30 list and haven't looked back!  I really look forward to sending our card out to friends and family, almost as much as I do getting cards.

Typically I spend a week or so stressing about what pictures to use, but this year I knew it was going to be best to wait since we just added Haddie to the family.  So while we were down for Thanksgiving, my photography-inclined sister-in-law snapped a bunch of pictures.  Then I tweaked them in PicMonkey and uploaded them to Shutterfly to create the masterpiece you see before you...

Christmas Card

Christmas Card
 Happy Howlidays!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Christmas Everywhere You Look

Christmas Decor Tour

Since I can remember, I've loved decorating for Christmas.  Growing up my mom, sister and I would decorate the tree, hang the stockings and plaster decorations on any stationary surface!

Not only do I get it from my mom, but my Aunt Pat has helped contribute to the "sickness".  Each year she would give us an ornament and later she give me her Santa collection!
Christmas Decor Tour

It took me a while to collect all of the decorations that I have, but slowly I've accumulated a whole closet full of them.  And because said closet is reaching max capacity, I'm pretty selective about the new things I add.  Last year though, Matt and decided that we wanted a "grown up" tree.  So most of our "kid" ornaments stayed packed away and the new stuff came front and center!  The older ornaments that did make the tree this year have a special sentiment or story behind them and I couldn't help but not include them!

Our tree is a mix of glitzy, sparkly ornaments and rustic burlap with galvanized metal ornament accents, which is so totally "ME"! Thankfully, Matt likes it (and me) too!

Let's get this show on the road, eh?!  Starting with the tree...
Christmas Tree

The day after Christmas Matt and I ventured out to shop for our 'new' decorations and I totally swiped the button garland off a display tree!  I HAD to have it!!  The saleslady wasn't impressed that I took it off, but I still don't care...  The tree skirt I made a few years ago and think it goes well with the new theme.

Have you all see this pin?  The one about using two different size Christmas lights?  All the paint fumes I huffed from the frosting spray were totally worth it in my opinion!!  Yes, I could have bought frosted bulbs, but I had leftover lights from our wedding and a can of frosting spray paint...

DIY, thank you very much!

Christmas Decor Tour
Christmas Decor Tour

The Santa figurines start making their appearance on the entertainment center.  And of course, a nativity because His birth is the reason for the season!
Christmas Decor Tour
So the Santas...  Like I mentioned, they used to belong to my aunt.  For years they sat on the mantel at her house, but for about 5 years I've had them!  I should have counted the tubs in takes to contain them, but off the top of my head it's something like 7...  Not only are there figurines, but wall hangings and ornaments (a whole tree worth)!

Christmas Decor Tour
Christmas Decor Tour
Christmas Decor Tour
Christmas Decor Tour
Christmas Decor Tour

I'll never forget the first year I decorated the house with all the Santas!  I just kept unwrapping and unwrapping and unwrapping...  I couldn't even bring myself to unwrap all the Santa ornaments because of being overwhelmed by the sheer number of them!

Christmas Decor Tour
Two of the cutest photo bombers you ever did see!

And to keep up with the glitzy and rural charm, the dining room table is decorated with a burlap runner (surprise, surprise), sparkly cranberry swags and a lantern filled with glittered light bulbs!
Christmas Decor Tour

I wouldn't want to leave you hanging without seeing the outside decorations!  The porch isn't nearly as decked out as it is in the summer or fall, but it'll do in a pinch!
Christmas Decor Tour

Okay, spill!
Are you as guilty as I am of being a "Crazy Christmas Decorator"?

Holiday Linkup
Our Pretty Little Girls
Linking up with Lisa and Beth.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Proof of Life

No need to alert the media. 
All is well on the home front.
It'll be alright.

The last few days have been cray cray and I'm got so much to talk about, but today isn't gonna be the day for that sort of thing.  But trust me, I've got good things coming!

Until then, the pic below pretty much sums up what we've all been looking forward to since getting off the plane last week...

Naps on the recliner

Friday, December 5, 2014

5+ Things To Do Before Vegas

I'm a compulsive list maker.  My legal pad is typically at my fingertips.  It's actually right in front of me this moment.  #truestory  And I'm the happiest of campers when I can check stuff off of the 'Things To Do' list.

Leaving for Vegas on Sunday (and returning with only one prep day before our annual Christmas party) has multiplied my intense desire to have things done and checked off.  And to be completely honest, Matt and I got in a tiff this morning about what needs done and why he still plans on being gone all day Saturday hunting...

I'm still a little sour on this note.  Not that you can tell or anything!

So between getting home tonight and Sunday midday, I (b/c Matt will spend tonight getting his stuff ready for hunting, then spend Saturday in the duck blind.  Sunday he better be helping me!) need to:

//plant my fall hardy mums in hopes they come back next year
//finishing Christmas decorating
//pack for Vegas
//buy or make ugly sweaters for the party next week
//get all the non-perishable groceries for said party
//wrap presents
//pack the dog's food, beds, etc. because they're staying with family while we are gone
//and anything else that pops up...

Wish me luck!  And maybe say a prayer for Matt that I don't kill him before it's all said and done...

Linking up with Karli, Amanda and Christina.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Ending 2014 on a High Note

Who else out there thinks December comes and goes in the blink of an eye? 

It's always such a flurry of activity!  Christmas parties.  Holiday baking.  Decorating... I cheated and jumped the gun wiht this one.  Shopping.  Wrapping.  So many things! 

Here are just a few things I'm looking forward to this month...

1.  In 5 short sleeps, we will be headed out to Las Vegas for the National Finals Rodeo!  So many things to look forward to all rolled into one: yummy food, possible meet-ups with blogging pals and  I couldn't forget...
2.  Cowboy Christmas.  Yes, it warrants it's own because the shopping is incredible!
3.  Heading home to listen to my mom sing in the annual Christmas cantata.
4.  Watching the mailbox with bated breath for all those gifts I ordered to arrive!
5.  Baking and decorating cookies with my pals from back home.
6.  Our annual Christmas party.  It's always themed and this year it's an Ugly Christmas Sweater Party!
7.  Opening Christmas cards.  It's a race at home to the mailbox!
8.  The epic 5 day weekend I get the week of Christmas.  Hoping to do a lot of crafting!
9.  Attempting to make new Christmas stockings so we all have matching ones.  Say a prayer for me!
10.  Getting our Christmas cards in the mail.  Here's a sneak peek of our adorable little family!

Happy Howlidays

Are you looking forward to anything particular this month?  
Hosting a Christmas party?  What's on the menu?

Love the Here and Now
Linking up with Anne

Monday, December 1, 2014

Turkey Time with Family

Last Wednesday, we loaded up the goof troop and headed for Tennessee to spend Thanksgiving with Matt's family.  Despite snow, rain and narrowly killing my husband, we made it safely! 

After unloading the car and feeding the hungry pups, this girl poured herself a LARGE glass of red wine!  It was divine. 

Bless my sister in law and brother in law's hearts for putting up with 13 family members and 2 extra dogs!  Everyone converged on their house Wednesday night and Jennifer managed to get everyone settled, fed and hydrated.  Not only did she make food for Wednesday's supper, but also breakfast on Thanksgiving morning, the turkey and several fixins for dinner and breakfast Friday before everyone headed back out!  Super woman. 

Thursday morning was pretty low key.  Lots of catching up over coffee and breakfast casseroles.  Midday we started getting motivated to get our turkey dinner prepared!  The boys handled frying the turkey, while most of the gals made appetizers, sides and desserts. 
Matt's family also likes to indulge in craft beer, good wine and mixed drinks!  I fell head over heels for this recipe for an Apple Cider Moscow Mule...

Several of us headed out to battle the calories and snapped some great photos of the beautiful TN scenery!
After our walk, I put the hurt on some online shopping and knocked out several people on my Christmas shopping list.  Kohl's strikes again!  I also took advantage of Courtney's 50% off sale at Cowgirl Crush... Excited to see everything come in the mail this week!

Most of Matt's family took off back to their respective states (IL, NC, FL) after breakfast Friday morning, but we decided to hang out for another day!  And after being relatively contained by four walls, the four of us were ready to escape to town.  The four of us had lunch out, did some shopping and then headed back to the house to check in on the pups. 
Speaking of the pups... My girl Haddie was a rock star!!  She was a little timid (obviously), but warmed up to everyone pretty quickly!  She also found a buddy in Matt's cousin's daughter, Eve.  I was a touch apprehensive with the baby crawling all over, but Haddie handled it like a champ!  Everyone was smitten.

After an impromptu session for Christmas card pictures, we all headed into NashVegas!  The last time the four of us were downtown it was rainy and freaking cold, so the mild temps were so awesome!  We had supper at Demos' Restaurant and then went for drinks/live music on the patio at Rippy's.  Let me tell you "Rocky Top" sounds so much better when you're actually in Tennessee!

Sadly, our trip had to come to an end and it was time to go home Saturday.  On the way home we stopped for lunch at an old college fave, 17th Street, which is famous for pork barbeque!  We rolled into the lane at home around 5pm and EVERYONE, human and canine, was excited to be out of the car.  The rest of the night we seriously lounged on the couch and did nothing!

To round out the weekend, Matt and Bella got up and went duck hunting Sunday morning at the God awful hour of 4am.  Like the smart kids we are, Haddie and I slept in!  I was going to take Haddie for a run, but the 25 mph winds kept me in my pjs watching Christmas movies and decorating our big Christmas tree.  I'm pretty proud of the way it turned out this year!  Be on the look out for pics!

Linking up with Biana.