Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Year in Review



I honestly think that 2013 has taught me more about life than any other year of my existence, so I think it's pretty important to jot it all down so that I can compare it to what I'm about to learn in 2014 & beyond so here goes...

My family & friends
This year has proven more to me about the quality of the relationships in my life than any other year, with both family and friends. I remember when I first realized that the “friends” that we make over the years, the people who we considered some of our “best” friends in high school & grade school & college, tend not to blossom into true relationships & that’s totally fine. Those relationships are important because each person we encounter is probably teaching us something about our lives, about friendships, about what kind of friends we want to be and what kind we don’t.

I've learned that just because a person is related to you, doesn't mean that they will be involved in your life at all. I've learned that just because a person isn't related to you, doesn't mean they don’t care as much as you expect your family would. I have some of the truest, realest, best friends I could ever ask for & I consider them to be my family. They genuinely care about me & my life & I genuinely care about theirs. We try to lift each other up as much as we can. All three of the girls I consider to be my “best” friends have been around for a looong time, I know they say it’s not about who you've known the longest, but trust me, it has a lot to do with it. If I hadn’t known these girls as long as I have, then we wouldn't know every little thing about each other, we wouldn’t be able to relate as well as we do, be able to pick up right where we left off when we don’t see each other as often as we used to. I’m so thankful for my friends, every girl needs to have at least one (if not more!) true best friend in their lives & I’m very blessed to have three that are irreplaceable. Thank you so much to my 3 J’s, you guys rock!

As far as family goes, it’s amazing how the older you get the more important they become to you. Family is permanent, you can’t choose them, but I’m lucky to have some really amazing family members. I love getting together with all of them on any side because we always have such a wonderful time. From the monthly GNO with my cousins, to the Starved Rock Christmas Eve Eve stay over with my aunt & her family, the family Christmas’s & nights out at the bars, trips on the bike, we have many of our best memories & adventures with our family & I am so thankful for that. Of course there is dysfunction, but Aunt Nancy’s sweatshirt says it best, “we put the FUN in dysFUNction”



My Travels & Adventures
One thing we got to do A LOT of this year was travel. Mini-vacays, cruises, bike trips, we did it all. Our ski trip to Galena in January was an absolute blast, our day in Boston & our cruise to Bermuda for Joe’s 30th was completely unforgettable, the most beautiful island I've ever seen! A few thousand miles put on the bike this year on our travels to Bloomington Minnesota, Galena, New Glarus, Wisconsin, & beyond.  And our most recent trip to Las Vegas to watch our friends get married!  Travel is such an important part of life & I’m so glad that Joe and I have gotten to go to some really incredible places over the last 5 years. We took our first cruise for our one year anniversary in 2009 & have tried to make it something we do about every other year. We are so lucky to be able to have experienced some of the places that we have & we can’t wait to do more of it!


My Marriage
All I can say about my marriage is that it’s stronger than ever after the year that we have had. We have gone through a lot our first couple years of marriage, a serious motorcycle accident about 6 months after we got married & now our journey to get pregnant, it has been a lot, it’s been a challenge & I think we have only gotten through all of it as well as we have because we are a great team. We always take each other into consideration when we make decisions, even little decisions, once you have a spouse; they’re pretty much an extension of you. Of course we have had our downs, our arguments, and disagreements, everyone does and if you pretend you are perfect and that you don’t fight, then you’re living in an alternate reality. Joe is my best friend (and what a coincidence his name begins with a J!), everything I do I want him to be a part of; I want to experience everything in life with him. He is my partner in crime & I wouldn’t want it any other way. I can’t wait to see what 2014 has in store for us! We will be celebrating six years together, three as a married couple, it’s funny it already seems like we’ve been together for a lifetime. I know that there will be lot of wonderful things happening to us this year between trying for baby, & starting to build our home! Lots to look forward to!


My drama-free life.
After some thought on this topic, here's what I came up with, my life is relatively drama-free... I don't think I really have any "haters", and if I do, well I guess I wasn't giving enough fucks to notice & I'm completely content with that.  I don't think that the world is against us & people are out to get us & like I said, if there are, I really don't care.  I'm a grown ass adult now, this ain't high school & I'm so glad it's not.  I DO NOT hang around with people who just live and breathe negativity & think the world is out to get them & create drama.  I left that all behind & have never looked back because I have no reason not to be positive about the things in my life.  It's a waste of precious time to be miserable & unhappy & pretend that you aren't those things.  No one is perfect, & pretending to be so is just pathetic.  I feel like I've got a lot of supporters out there.  I surround myself only with people who lift me up, not who bring me down & I will continue to do so... forever!


My blog & readers
Last but not least, I cannot begin to thank everyone who has read my blog & left me a comment, sent me a Facebook message, email, or text in support of us. I had NO IDEA the outpouring of prayers and support that we would get by sharing this journey that we are on. So many wonderful messages of hope and positivity for us and what we are doing. I have found some amazing women in blogland that I have been able to connect with and bond with over infertility, and so many people that I know well & some that I hardly know at all have reached out to me. I can never thank you all enough. This blog has been a true blessing to me. I hope you all continue to follow along as we continue our beautiful journey.

I wish everyone has a safe & happy New Year!!

2013 Year in Review



I honestly think that 2013 has taught me more about life than any other year of my existence, so I think it's pretty important to jot it all down so that I can compare it to what I'm about to learn in 2014 & beyond so here goes...

My family & friends
This year has proven more to me about the quality of the relationships in my life than any other year, with both family and friends. I remember when I first realized that the “friends” that we make over the years, the people who we considered some of our “best” friends in high school & grade school & college, tend not to blossom into true relationships & that’s totally fine. Those relationships are important because each person we encounter is probably teaching us something about our lives, about friendships, about what kind of friends we want to be and what kind we don’t.

I've learned that just because a person is related to you, doesn't mean that they will be involved in your life at all. I've learned that just because a person isn't related to you, doesn't mean they don’t care as much as you expect your family would. I have some of the truest, realest, best friends I could ever ask for & I consider them to be my family. They genuinely care about me & my life & I genuinely care about theirs. We try to lift each other up as much as we can. All three of the girls I consider to be my “best” friends have been around for a looong time, I know they say it’s not about who you've known the longest, but trust me, it has a lot to do with it. If I hadn’t known these girls as long as I have, then we wouldn't know every little thing about each other, we wouldn’t be able to relate as well as we do, be able to pick up right where we left off when we don’t see each other as often as we used to. I’m so thankful for my friends, every girl needs to have at least one (if not more!) true best friend in their lives & I’m very blessed to have three that are irreplaceable. Thank you so much to my 3 J’s, you guys rock!

As far as family goes, it’s amazing how the older you get the more important they become to you. Family is permanent, you can’t choose them, but I’m lucky to have some really amazing family members. I love getting together with all of them on any side because we always have such a wonderful time. From the monthly GNO with my cousins, to the Starved Rock Christmas Eve Eve stay over with my aunt & her family, the family Christmas’s & nights out at the bars, trips on the bike, we have many of our best memories & adventures with our family & I am so thankful for that. Of course there is dysfunction, but Aunt Nancy’s sweatshirt says it best, “we put the FUN in dysFUNction”



My Travels & Adventures
One thing we got to do A LOT of this year was travel. Mini-vacays, cruises, bike trips, we did it all. Our ski trip to Galena in January was an absolute blast, our day in Boston & our cruise to Bermuda for Joe’s 30th was completely unforgettable, the most beautiful island I've ever seen! A few thousand miles put on the bike this year on our travels to Bloomington Minnesota, Galena, New Glarus, Wisconsin, & beyond.  And our most recent trip to Las Vegas to watch our friends get married!  Travel is such an important part of life & I’m so glad that Joe and I have gotten to go to some really incredible places over the last 5 years. We took our first cruise for our one year anniversary in 2009 & have tried to make it something we do about every other year. We are so lucky to be able to have experienced some of the places that we have & we can’t wait to do more of it!


My Marriage
All I can say about my marriage is that it’s stronger than ever after the year that we have had. We have gone through a lot our first couple years of marriage, a serious motorcycle accident about 6 months after we got married & now our journey to get pregnant, it has been a lot, it’s been a challenge & I think we have only gotten through all of it as well as we have because we are a great team. We always take each other into consideration when we make decisions, even little decisions, once you have a spouse; they’re pretty much an extension of you. Of course we have had our downs, our arguments, and disagreements, everyone does and if you pretend you are perfect and that you don’t fight, then you’re living in an alternate reality. Joe is my best friend (and what a coincidence his name begins with a J!), everything I do I want him to be a part of; I want to experience everything in life with him. He is my partner in crime & I wouldn’t want it any other way. I can’t wait to see what 2014 has in store for us! We will be celebrating six years together, three as a married couple, it’s funny it already seems like we’ve been together for a lifetime. I know that there will be lot of wonderful things happening to us this year between trying for baby, & starting to build our home! Lots to look forward to!


My drama-free life.
After some thought on this topic, here's what I came up with, my life is relatively drama-free... I don't think I really have any "haters", and if I do, well I guess I wasn't giving enough fucks to notice & I'm completely content with that.  I don't think that the world is against us & people are out to get us & like I said, if there are, I really don't care.  I'm a grown ass adult now, this ain't high school & I'm so glad it's not.  I DO NOT hang around with people who just live and breathe negativity & think the world is out to get them & create drama.  I left that all behind & have never looked back because I have no reason not to be positive about the things in my life.  It's a waste of precious time to be miserable & unhappy & pretend that you aren't those things.  No one is perfect, & pretending to be so is just pathetic.  I feel like I've got a lot of supporters out there.  I surround myself only with people who lift me up, not who bring me down & I will continue to do so... forever!


My blog & readers
Last but not least, I cannot begin to thank everyone who has read my blog & left me a comment, sent me a Facebook message, email, or text in support of us. I had NO IDEA the outpouring of prayers and support that we would get by sharing this journey that we are on. So many wonderful messages of hope and positivity for us and what we are doing. I have found some amazing women in blogland that I have been able to connect with and bond with over infertility, and so many people that I know well & some that I hardly know at all have reached out to me. I can never thank you all enough. This blog has been a true blessing to me. I hope you all continue to follow along as we continue our beautiful journey.

I wish everyone has a safe & happy New Year!!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Now that Christmas is over & I've finally given these presents, I can share them with you all! 

I'm really big on making something homemade or at least giving something from the heart each year.  The first year that I started this I made a bunch of different Christmas cookies & gave them on pretty red glass plates. The second year I made homemade spaghetti noodles & canned spaghetti sauce.  It was a  huge hit.  This year I decided on homemade vanilla.   It's easy, it's practical, & everyone uses it.  I'm so happy with how it turned out.  I bought the vanilla beans from Indri Vanilla. I bought a half a pound of premium beans which ended up being more than enough than I needed to make around a dozen or so bottles of vanilla.  They have a blog on their site too about what the different beans are & when you should use which one.  They ended up sending me an additional package of beans too since the ones I had originally ordered were out of stock at the time. Bonus for me!!




I read so many different ways to make it, but ultimately decided on using Bacardi Rum to make the extract.   I started them back in October.  I ended up using 3 750ml bottles of rum, one bottle per jar, and I don't know how many beans per jar, I just eyeballed the bundle into thirds & cut the ends off of each bean, put them in the jar & poured the alcohol over the beans.  I turned the bottles about once a week to shake everything up, and keep them in the kitchen cabinet, in the dark. Seriously, this was the easiest homemade gift I've ever made!  





I found some killer cheap amber bottles here.  They cost about $.68 per bottle.  I made my own labels which was kind of a pain but I'm really happy with the way they turned out.  I used glossy white Avery labels, (22830) that are 2.5" in diameter.  The "Homemade" font is Penelope Anne and the banner is KG A Little Swag both can be found here.



this little funnel, which I thought would work great, turned out not working well at all
the liquid kept filling up & spilling everywhere so I just ended up pouring it from the jar into the bolttle

I cut the beans in half at this point & added a couple to each bottle.  The black slimy stuff on the 
cutting board is the inside of the vanilla bean.


the finished product!




I'm thrilled with the way these turned out.  They were really easy.  I ended up filling all 15 bottles that I had ordered with enough left for maybe another bottle or two, so the extra I kept for myself.  


Homemade Vanilla Extract

Now that Christmas is over & I've finally given these presents, I can share them with you all! 

I'm really big on making something homemade or at least giving something from the heart each year.  The first year that I started this I made a bunch of different Christmas cookies & gave them on pretty red glass plates. The second year I made homemade spaghetti noodles & canned spaghetti sauce.  It was a  huge hit.  This year I decided on homemade vanilla.   It's easy, it's practical, & everyone uses it.  I'm so happy with how it turned out.  I bought the vanilla beans from Indri Vanilla. I bought a half a pound of premium beans which ended up being more than enough than I needed to make around a dozen or so bottles of vanilla.  They have a blog on their site too about what the different beans are & when you should use which one.  They ended up sending me an additional package of beans too since the ones I had originally ordered were out of stock at the time. Bonus for me!!




I read so many different ways to make it, but ultimately decided on using Bacardi Rum to make the extract.   I started them back in October.  I ended up using 3 750ml bottles of rum, one bottle per jar, and I don't know how many beans per jar, I just eyeballed the bundle into thirds & cut the ends off of each bean, put them in the jar & poured the alcohol over the beans.  I turned the bottles about once a week to shake everything up, and keep them in the kitchen cabinet, in the dark. Seriously, this was the easiest homemade gift I've ever made!  





I found some killer cheap amber bottles here.  They cost about $.68 per bottle.  I made my own labels which was kind of a pain but I'm really happy with the way they turned out.  I used glossy white Avery labels, (22830) that are 2.5" in diameter.  The "Homemade" font is Penelope Anne and the banner is KG A Little Swag both can be found here.



this little funnel, which I thought would work great, turned out not working well at all
the liquid kept filling up & spilling everywhere so I just ended up pouring it from the jar into the bolttle

I cut the beans in half at this point & added a couple to each bottle.  The black slimy stuff on the 
cutting board is the inside of the vanilla bean.


the finished product!




I'm thrilled with the way these turned out.  They were really easy.  I ended up filling all 15 bottles that I had ordered with enough left for maybe another bottle or two, so the extra I kept for myself.  


Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas 2013

What a wonderful Christmas we had this year! We got to see our family & friends, exchange gifts, eat lots of food, & have an all-around awesome time!


Christmas Eve started at the Ridley’s for dinner with roast beef sandwiches and potato soup before heading to church. After church we made a quick stop at my uncle’s house which just happens to be right down the street from the Ridley’s church so it works out well. About 9 we headed back to Joe’s parents’ house for our gift exchange. We always get matching pj’s every year & this years were so cute!! Us kids did a gift exchange which went over great, we got a lot of laughs out of it & some really fun gifts. Joe’s parents got all of us ENO hammocks which my litter sis-in-law said she saw on my blog & told her mom about! We were all excited! After all of the gifts were exchanged we got our Coke’s in glass bottles & listened to Joe’s dad read Christmas stories, one of my favorite traditions on Christmas Eve. This year was a very special year because all of us were together for Christmas. This was the first time in 10 years that all of the Ridley kids were home, together, with their spouses/kids, & it was wonderful. Now that Joe’s brother Jon, who is in the Air Force, is recruiting in Lafayette Indiana, they are only three hours away & we get to see them all the time now. It’s been a huge blessing!



Christmas morning Joe and I got up and exchanged gifts. I got my bar cart, a Harley Davidson sweatshirt, a gift card for Skin Dimensions, & some décor from West Elm. I got Joe an oak whiskey barrel from Uncommon Goodss & he loved it! He was so surprised & happy. He can make his own homemade whiskey now which he’s been talking about forever. I also got him a ukulele, & some movies & other random stocking stuffers. We headed back over to his parents’ house to watch our nephew & niece open their gifts from Santa. They are 6 & 7 & still so excited about Santa, it’s so much fun!


The rest of the day was spent at my mom’s where we ate a huge breakfast & opened gifts, followed by several other stops to my dad’s, aunt’s, Grandma Ridley’s, & Jessica & Mike’s. We finally got home around 5:30 or so. We were so exhausted. The house is an absolute wreck of boxes, wrapping paper, & general disarray, but I am so thankful for such a wonderful Christmas. This year did not disappoint at all. Getting everything & more, being with our entire families, & enjoying a beautiful Christmas Eve & Day was all I could really ever ask for.



I hope everyone had a wonderful & blessed Christmas this year. We are still hoping for one more special gift from Santa which would really put the cherry on top of an already amazing Christmas & would be such a great way to start off 2014!

Christmas 2013

What a wonderful Christmas we had this year! We got to see our family & friends, exchange gifts, eat lots of food, & have an all-around awesome time!


Christmas Eve started at the Ridley’s for dinner with roast beef sandwiches and potato soup before heading to church. After church we made a quick stop at my uncle’s house which just happens to be right down the street from the Ridley’s church so it works out well. About 9 we headed back to Joe’s parents’ house for our gift exchange. We always get matching pj’s every year & this years were so cute!! Us kids did a gift exchange which went over great, we got a lot of laughs out of it & some really fun gifts. Joe’s parents got all of us ENO hammocks which my litter sis-in-law said she saw on my blog & told her mom about! We were all excited! After all of the gifts were exchanged we got our Coke’s in glass bottles & listened to Joe’s dad read Christmas stories, one of my favorite traditions on Christmas Eve. This year was a very special year because all of us were together for Christmas. This was the first time in 10 years that all of the Ridley kids were home, together, with their spouses/kids, & it was wonderful. Now that Joe’s brother Jon, who is in the Air Force, is recruiting in Lafayette Indiana, they are only three hours away & we get to see them all the time now. It’s been a huge blessing!



Christmas morning Joe and I got up and exchanged gifts. I got my bar cart, a Harley Davidson sweatshirt, a gift card for Skin Dimensions, & some décor from West Elm. I got Joe an oak whiskey barrel from Uncommon Goodss & he loved it! He was so surprised & happy. He can make his own homemade whiskey now which he’s been talking about forever. I also got him a ukulele, & some movies & other random stocking stuffers. We headed back over to his parents’ house to watch our nephew & niece open their gifts from Santa. They are 6 & 7 & still so excited about Santa, it’s so much fun!


The rest of the day was spent at my mom’s where we ate a huge breakfast & opened gifts, followed by several other stops to my dad’s, aunt’s, Grandma Ridley’s, & Jessica & Mike’s. We finally got home around 5:30 or so. We were so exhausted. The house is an absolute wreck of boxes, wrapping paper, & general disarray, but I am so thankful for such a wonderful Christmas. This year did not disappoint at all. Getting everything & more, being with our entire families, & enjoying a beautiful Christmas Eve & Day was all I could really ever ask for.



I hope everyone had a wonderful & blessed Christmas this year. We are still hoping for one more special gift from Santa which would really put the cherry on top of an already amazing Christmas & would be such a great way to start off 2014!
 
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