We all know that I'm obsessed with Fall.

Crisp Air. Football. Tailgating. The coming of the Holidays. Coats! Boots! COLORS! Leaves. Hot Cider. Homemade Donuts. Carving Pumpkins. Picking Apples. Golden light. Chili. Scarves. Sweatshirts. 

I could go on and on. This time of year just makes my heart smile.

I've been on the search for some good fall recipes to send the scents of the season throughout our abode. I made homemade chili in the crock pot yesterday, and it was absolutely heavenly. Is there a reason that candle companies don't make crock pot scents? Someone needs to tell them they would sell like wildfire.

Here are a few recipes I'm planning on experimenting with in the coming weeks (experimenting as in, trying to find a "healthy" way to make them...and if that fails, I'll throw in the towel and add the butter!)


1) Crock Pot Apple Butter. I use to buy Apple Butter every year in Charlottesville at Carters Mountain (oh my gosh do I miss that place right now!)

I found a great recipe here. 



2) Pumpkin Cheese Bars. Anything with cheese + sugar = comfort
You can find the recipe here 



3) Harvest Chipotle Chili, found at Midwest Living



4) Pumpkin White Hot Chocolate, found here



5) Pumpkin Spice Latte Pancakes. Don't these just scream Saturday mornings?
You can find the recipe here: 




Do you have any favorite fall recipes?! I'd LOVE to hear them...and then make them:)




Kyle is in the middle of three weeks on nights. It's a serious drag (for both of us). I miss my hubby like crazy, but I'm thankful for that one hour a day we get to hug each other, go for a walk and play with Maizy.
And those other times?
Well, I've found myself somehow fulfilling every television show that portrays every depressed single girl. Now, I'm clearly not talking about dressing up and going clubbing (let's be honest, I wouldn't even know where to start with that one!), I'm talking more along the lines of PJ's and wine. And food. And girls nights, where we all eat ice cream (so thankful that I'm not the only one :)

Furthermore,

- Maizy and I cuddle every night on the couch. Then, she sleeps next to me in bed. It's funny that I'd ever admit that, because one year ago, that completely grossed me out. She's actually a great spooning partner. 
- White wine with fresh fruit accompanies me more than necessary.
- I have a plethora of chick flicks from RedBox.
- I had a turkey hot dog for dinner, which I made in the microwave. Enough said.
- I tip toe around our apartment during the day.
- I've seen way too many episodes of The Real Housewives. 
- I've found myself at Target three times in one week. 
- The house is spic and span between the hours of 6:00 pm to 2:00 pm, then Kyle wakes up.
- We have dinner at 3:00 pm each day.
- I can't watch any detective shows, then I just sleep with one eye open and our knife set on the bed stand. 
- I'm convincing myself that I need ice cream, because that just makes sense when you look at this whole picture.


You may feel a bit depressed for me right now, but trust me, this is typical. Thankfully, so many of my girlfriends experience this every month, that somehow all of this is simply the normal routine of a resident's wife. 

More ice cream, please :)
Okay, now you may have pity on me. And my hips.






I shared a few weeks ago about my collection of images that I have tucked away for when we finally get a house. However, I can't help but continue on this theme of crazy  different ideas.

I stumbled upon one photo, which led to another, and a half hour later I was still consumed in imagery of some very different homes- my mind just swarms with questions!! Where is the bathroom? How do you get in? How much did it cost to make it look like a fish? Was the owner trying to make a childhood dream come to life? I'm all for being unique, but these houses have a curb appeal all their own.


Now, I don't prefer the basic '50s ranch on the street. But, I get a bit weary when I'm not sure if my house will properly stand up if I walk to one side. It could, however, be a fun game for guests!




What happens when it rains?!




This must be very child's dream playhouse, but I'm not convinced that I could live with the squirrels and birds.




Does this look like a melting marshmallow to anyone else?




Okay, this may be crazy, but I not-so-secretly love this. I can just imagine the views this place gets. It may make it worth living in a spaceship.




Sometimes there are simply no words. Just extremely gracious husbands or a single woman.




My question is, why don't they have these in Ann Arbor? The Midwest needs to step it up a notch. Enough with the basic colonial, I'd like a seashell for goodness sakes!





We were at the store the other day, and our conversation turned to this:


Me: Oh, perfect! I love these jeans!
Kyle: How much are they?
Me: Just as much as all my other ones.
Kyle: Can't you go to Meijer and get a pair for $10.00?
Me: Hunny, the jeans you are wearing are $100.00.
Kyle: NO! They are NOT!
Me: How do you know? You didn't buy them.
Kyle: Well that's just stupid. I could go to Kmart and get a pair for $10.00.
Me: But baby, you're ghetto booty makes it hard to find pants for you - only certain brands will fit. Same with me!
Kyle: Unreal. I'll never understand girls.


30 minutes later we find ourselves in Cabela's...


Kyle: I just want to look at the fishing gear. I need a new one!
Me: WHAT? NEED?!
Kyle: Yes, for river fishing...oh, and a reel too.
Me: I've never met someone with more fishing rods than you have. I think need is the wrong word here.
Kyle: Did you need new jeans?! ...Oh yes! This one is PERFECT!!
Me: How much is it?!
Kyle: It's really inexpensive, and look at this reel. I absolutely need this.
Me: Can't you go to Meijer and get one for $10.00?!
Kyle: Not an option.
Me: Unreal. I'll never understand boys.


Marriage in a nutshell.


I find I have a soft spot in my heart for conversations like this.
The end result is each of us looking at the other with the  "crap, I know I'm wrong but I'm reallyyyy going to try to convince the other person of how "important" this is." Then comes the tilted smile, the drooping of the head and shoulders and the somber reply of "dang it, I know, I know. You're right."


It's our way, and I wouldn't have it any other way.






**Our internet has been down...so now that it is back up, I'll continue with this post. PS. I wrote this at 9:00 am, so my energy is back to normal ;)**

I just returned from a 9.5 mile run, full of energy and ready to start the day! I even get to spend a few hours with Kyle before I head out of town to shoot a wedding, and he heads back to the night shift.
Last night, we attempted to stay up as long as possible to make it easier for Kyle to transition back to nights, so that naturally led us to play scrabble. Yah know, the most exciting game EVER, one that is bound to have you on your feet, full of energy. Okay, so we could have picked a better game but neither one of us felt like moving boxes to find the Wii.
I was sorting through photos on my phone to pass the time between turns, and realized this little gadget holds so much of the everyday, in-between stuff that makes life, well, life. I find that sometimes it's fun to share about such things, the seemingly simple puzzle pieces that hold together our days and memories.


Last Saturday, Kyle and I got to go to the Michigan Game together! Front row seats in the student section - nothing like reliving the glory days.



I think six years ago I would have greatly appreciated being right next to the band, but these old ears were ringing all night after the game. 



I have this problem of going to the store and immediately tailing it to the kids section. I'm such a sucker for the ADORABLE baby clothes. I won't even get into the Halloween costume options this year, thankfully I had a trusty friend convince me that Hannah didn't need five of them. I also picked up a hot pink tutu for her, I mean, come on, how is anyone suppose to resist that? Hannah was very excited about it too:



I cut it WAY to close this week, and also learned to use 'neutral' while driving. We were out seeing houses and our agent had to follow us to the gas station to make sure we didn't completely run out of gas. While the tank filled up, our agent and I sat in our car and looked through pictures of our fishing trip. We're serious BFFs. 



No, we didn't escape to some exotic island for the weekend...but I could probably convince you of that by the gorgeous sunset we had the other night. We went out to celebrate my in-laws 30th wedding anniversary (!!) and got to enjoy a beautiful view while we chomped down on shrimp, chips, salsa and beer. Good combo, eh?



And just to wrap this little random thing up, guess who was completely losing to her husband, only to catch up and TIE him in scrabble? Okay, most people wouldn't be too excited about this. I, however, am thrilled. I've been reminding Kyle of it all day.



Hope you have a wonderful weekend! Full of college football, hot cider and donuts :)



This past week was one of Kyle's vacation weeks, so naturally, I found myself fishing more than necessary. If you know anything at all about my husband, it's that he is obsessed with fishing (and hunting.) There's a reason he had trouble deciding careers between a professional fishing guide and a doctor, no joke.
We made a four hour drive up to the Manistee River to do some river fishing for the salmon. I adequately can't explain Kyle's excitement about this trip. I am not that crazy about sitting in a boat all day holding a pole, but I will admit it ended up being much more adventurous than I thought it would be. I only broke out the magazines once. No cameras were allowed, so I had to rely on my trusty iphone to capture the entire day.

The Crew (aka, My Dad, myself, Huby and Andy)



We started the morning at 4:30 am, so by the time we hit the water, we got to enjoy the sun rising.




After hearing Kyle's stories about ALL those salmon in the river (he had already fished this river earlier in the week!), I set a goal for us: We had to catch as many fish as the hours we spent in the car. Well, we didn't catch 8 fish, but we hooked 7, caught 2. I deemed that a successful trip.

And guess who caught the first one?!!



Kyle is such a teacher, I love it. REELREELREELREELREELREEL.KEEPREELIN'REELREELREEL.
and Oh yes, I did say HOLY MOLY & OH BABY!
Yes, I almost fell out of the boat. TWICE.
YES, I CAUGHT A SALMON! 11lbs of fishy goodness, that is now sitting in our freezer. 





Then, Andy caught one too! (and made it look way too easy)



(I love that my dad and I are both laughing at Kyle's instructions: YESYESYESYES REELREELREEL) 



Okay, so Andy's was a LITTLE bigger. But guess whose fish is going to be tastier? I have to get credit for something around here. 




Oh!  I mentioned that Kyle had been to this river earlier in the week: Check out their catches!!




Needless to say, half of our freezer is full of fresh salmon. Who wants to come over to dinner?!


Also! Did you see this?! Sign up for a time slot today! 




Would you LOVE photos of your family this fall?
Have you been stalling on photos because of prices or timing?
Need some new photographs for your holiday card?
Now is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of a FALL MINI SESSION.

(Can you tell that I'm really bad at any sales pitch, I just really want you to have some great photos of your family!)





I'll be doing mini sessions in THREE different cities in Michigan this Fall!
Below is all of the information:
 (also, click on the flyer above, print it off and put in on your frig. Better yet, send it via email to a friend! I'm excited about the prospect of meeting new families & friends this season! :)

DATES & LOCATIONS:
Saturday, Oct 13th: Lapeer, MI
Saturday, Oct 27th: Grand Rapids, MI
Saturday, Nov 3rd: Ann Arbor, MI
*you'll receive detailed information with location & directions after you reserve a time slot.

SESSION INCLUDES:
- 30 minute photo session with up to six people
- 2 high-resolution digital images 
- 15 images in an online gallery
Most importantly, there will be LOTS of cider and donuts. 
$125.00

RESERVE A SPOT!
I'll be shooting from 9:00 am - 12 Noon and 
from 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm each day. 
Contact me to reserve a time slot!


HAVE QUESTIONS?
Feel free to contact me via email or 
visit my photography website:



Can't wait to hear from you!





*Before we dive into pretty kitchens this morning, I wanted to take a second thank each of you for the sweet emails, texts and calls after my post yesterday. The encouraging notes mean more than you know and left me feeling so uplifted and loved. THANK YOU! {sniff sniff- wiping eyes now}*


I showed you some of my least favorite kitchen options last week (which, by the way, some aren't too far off from what we've seen while house hunting) so let's move on to bigger and better things, shall we?

I've noticed my eye is immediately drawn to white kitchens with a lot of natural light! They seem to give that crisp, clean feeling. I also love pinches of texture; slate, range hoods, wood floors, backsplashes, open beams, etc; details that give it character and charm and go against the stiff mold of an everyday average room. (I'll do another post later dedicated to DETAILS!) But for now, let's stick with the bigger pictures:


Glass cabinets + wide plank floors = drool.


ALL that light + open concept = :)
I'd be a shame not to mention that gorgeous farmhouse table to the right. Can't you see so many family get-togethers there?!

                  Contemporary Kitchen design by Minneapolis Architect Charlie Simmons - Charlie & Co. Design, Ltd.


I know I said I love white, but hints of color make me happy. Plus, that farmhouse sink! Nostalgia at it's finest.



High ceiling with open beams. Some may call that wasted space, I call it lovely.



Talk about making the most of a small space and taking advantage of greenery outside. It almost reminds me of a small greenhouse renovated into a kitchen. (Maybe it was? I need to track down the origin of this pic!)



so crisp, so clean.

                                Traditional Kitchen design by San Francisco Interior Designer Fiorella Design

Perfect symmetry!
(Side note, I'm personally not in love with the bar stools.)


                                            Traditional Kitchen design by Denver Interior Designer Chalet


This is so cozy but clean at the same time, perfect combination between old and new.



HALLELUJAH! HALLELUJAH!




I realize the image below doesn't fit into the mold of the other photos, but I'm in love with all of the textures and colors being used.




Okay, I'll stop there. You'd be here all day with all of the photos I've collected.

Beware, you have more eye candy coming your way. It is weird that I get some sort of high from ORGANIZATION and DETAILS?!!

Are there certain kitchens that your eye is ALWAYS drawn to?!



Living in transition is an opportunity to learn. I should have known this from previous experience. It's become a theme in my life.

I too quickly forget about the time when I returned from Africa. I was looking for a job, wasn't sure where I was going to live, and adjusting to counter culture-shock. I remember laying in bed crying because I felt so unsure and full of fear as to what my next steps were. I found myself fluctuating between fear and faith for months.

Now, I sit in my living room that doesn't feel like home, and I find my heart in a similar place. The well laid out plans, my plans, haven't worked out the way I'd hoped. The unknowns that keep me continually praying are the same ones that can produce doubt. To trust in a bigger plan than my own is a difficult task. I'm an organizer, a planner, and I prefer things 'just so,'- isn't life just a little easier that way?

Isn't it so much easier to become discouraged, take another nap, eat another brownie and complain? For the past few weeks, I've felt this discouragement begin to rise to the surface, and my attitude beginning to change. I've found it's in those tiny moments when you catch a glimpse of what is happening that you have the chance to change it. To choose faith over doubt. To choose thankfulness over desires.

If I think back to what the most difficult times have showed me about myself, have revealed to me about the Lord, and have taught me about life, I'd never desire to relive it another way.
It's these "in-between" times that catch me off guard, they force me to find my strength in Christ every day, sometimes every moment.


But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. 
Isaiah 40:31


Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with THANKSGIVING let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 
Philippians 4:6-7







I vow not to overload this blog with football posts each weekend.
However, yesterday was the first home game of the season and I'm sure that deserves a little love and recognition.
Although our defense needs some work, we pulled off a win vs. Air Force. I must admit, it was strange cheering against a team that helps protect our country. It somehow felt unpatriotic. The fact that each of their jersey's names were either "SERVICE" or "FREEDOM" made it that much harder to cheer when Mr.Freedom was squashed in the backfield. Maybe I'm over thinking this.

We spent a good 9 hours on our feet, tailgating, watching the game from the 3rd row, and tailgating some more. I have a serious obsession with all things Fall, and the smile glued to my face and the random leaps of excitement clearly showed my love for the crisp air season on the horizon.




PS. I'll give you ten bucks if you can figure out who is in the plaid shirt in the lower right hand corner.
PSS. Alright, I won't give you ten bucks, but I will give you a virtual high five and {maybe} take you to his restaurant.


GO BLUE!



I currently owe you a few posts that I've promised, but that won't come until next week. I may be delaying because things have been so crazy lately, I'm not sure how to put it all down without sounding, humm.. crazy.

Moving on, it is Friday and I personally think that this day always deserves posts that require little mind activity.
At first, my idea was to share with you a small folder on my desktop that's named "reno." This came out of the assumption that we'll have a home that needs some work. Each time I come across a picture online (ahem, Pinterest), I tuck it away in this little folder, hoping it will draw some inspiration when the time comes.
However, for each gorgeous kitchen I come across and 'pin' onto my desktop, I come across one that makes me scratch my head in confusion. Let's be honest, those are more fun to share.

Let me introduce you to what will NOT be in our home:



Goodness, no. no.



This just hurts.



Unless this is is the size of a dollhouse for a 3 year old, this is not okay.



Yellow may be one of my favorite accent colors, but this gives it a bad name.




My head hurts from looking at these.
Maybe I'm just a plain jane, but this is definitely more my style (I'll share those next week:) :




It's normal to have your kitchen open to a pool, right?
Thought so.






Moving back to Michigan has given us as opportunity to see our grandparents more regularly.
With that, comes the reality of life.
It's a strange feeling when you reach the age when you begin to understand so much more about those people who used to pat their leg for you climb up on their lap and cuddle in. It's almost as if the blinders finally come off, and the real world struggles and reality of older age are so obviously apparent. Instead of convincing them that you can, in fact, have another cookie because "mom said so," your conversations turn to health, marriage and family. (Although when I was five, getting another cookie was truly a real life struggle for me. hello elementary obesity.)

It seems some of the best memories result from the phenomena referred to as, "no filter." I think it is God's way of always giving us laughter during otherwise unfortunate times.
Family secrets? Forget 'em. Have an issue? Share it. Irritated? Just tell me how you really feel. Bowel movement? Sure, I'd love to know all about it. It's those conversations that make you want to freeze time and take a mental snapshot of the laughter and joy. They bring you back to those childhood moments free of worry and struggle. (Okay, maybe not the ones about the bowel movements.)


Some of my favorite memories involve experiences with my grandparents. Listening to their love stories, Christmas mornings at their home, tailgating at football games...
Recently, I've been writing them down as they come up in conversation.


Over the past few weeks, I've added to this list with a thankful, full heart.




Although you do, technically, see him everyday, Dr.Oz if not your family practitioner. It's no surprise that your doc was a bit insulted by that comment.

Even though someone is on the larger side, they don't need to be told by you. Especially a stranger in the department store.

You are not allowed to snap your fingers at the waitress

You always told me that my husband should be my best friend. You were right.

When I was helping pack your closet a few weeks ago, I noticed something. OH MY GOSH, I know where my OCD came from. Pants, shirts and dresses, perfectly pressed and organized by color, fit and season. WITH LABELS.

You look cute in your PJ's, it's cool if you stay in them all day

Although I know you love Michigan State, I know you love me more. Which actually means you love Michigan. 

I pledge to you that I will never drive a foreign car. Specially because at Christmas, I would hate having to park on the street due to you not allowing them in your driveway. 

I told you I'd help you interview a housekeeper. But I'm afraid you'll micromanage them too much and tell them how to properly clean a sink. 

Your garage is full of purchases from infomercials that promise weight loss results. I think a garage sale is in order.

You're the best caregiver that I've ever met. Makes me wonder if I could ever live up to you.

Pistachios remind me of our days tubing on the lake.

Your hugs are my favorite hug. They are painfully strong for a person the size of a twinkie. I like to think it's you putting all of your strength into showing how much you love. 

One of my favorite pictures is of us jumping on the trampoline with you at the lake years ago. The expression on your face is full of life and joy.

I was truly scarred as a child when I saw you with your dentures out. 

I loved sitting in Florida in your sunroom, with you and gramps teaching us "how to *crap* on your neighbor." We played that card game the entire trip.

Your love story needs to be a movie. I'd love to write a book about it one day.

You're saved every penny you've every earned, and when I asked you how, you're wife replied, "we didn't eat. That's how I stayed so skinny!!...that was the trick to being hot!"

Grandpa would sit in his chair because it was hard for him to breath while walking. You would jump on his lap and smooch him all over, right in front of all of your grandchildren. He'd call you beautiful and you'd call him your sexy man. It's one of the sweetest memories of love.

I got my stubbornness from you. I'm thankful for it because it's what has kept you fighting for your life.

You told me to never stop trying to look nice for my husband. When I'm tempted to get into my pajamas at 6 pm each evening, your voice is my guilty conscience.

You always looked like Santa Claus when I was growing up. I loved you way more than the pretend one :)

You once called the bank because your checking account was exactly 1 cent off. After two hours, you got that 1 cent back. You were so proud. 




It's hard to imagine a life without the memories of each of my grandparents' idiosyncrasies, personalities and life experiences. It's helped form who I am, who our family is, where we've come from and where we are now.
Let the stories continue.






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