Hello 2017.

2016 was a lot of things for us. It was change. It was adventure. It was new beginnings. 

While I dropped the ball on my healthy lifestyle the last half of the year and I still have not managed to figure out how to get all the things done and simultaneously finish my coffee while it’s still hot, this year did bring its share of accomplishments and positive changes. I still am not supermom (my son has confirmed this by repeatedly telling me that he cannot see my muscles when I flex for him) and I still have not made a single trip to Target in which I left with only the items on my list… however I have added “working mom” to my list of accomplishments and I’ve finally mastered the art of making the perfect flank steak +garlic mashed potatoes.

This year brought a lot of unexpected events. Within the course of 12 months, my husband decided to change companies (and had to spend 3 months away from us training across the country), we traveled to more destinations than we ever have before, I took on a part time job, my husband managed to break 3 iphones, I had like 4 different hair styles/colors, and our son developed a serious love for telling fart jokes to as many strangers as he can. There were highs and lows as there are every year, but overall I am ending this year feeling like one of those most blessed ladies on the planet.

If I was to narrow my lessons for the year down to one all encompassing lesson, it’s probably that things don’t always go to plan… and that’s ok. I have always been a planner. I try not to let anyone see the “notes” app on my phone because there are so many lists and plans going on in there that it’s honestly surprising that I haven’t started a line graph documenting how often my son makes comments about pooping/farting or how many times a day I say “honestly”. Planning and being prepared is my comfort zone and that’s how I like it, however almost nothing that went down this year was “in the plans”. And yet what do you know… Everything turned out ok. More than ok. Life has a way of working itself out and whether I care to admit it or not… Life does not care if I made a plan for this or a plan for that. Everything happens when it happens for a reason, and while I still have no plan to stop planning, I have learned to be more accepting of when things do not happen according to my schedule.

Going into the new year, I feel optimistic… I feel excited… I feel blessed. I have a sweet/successful/super handsome/loving husband who is currently in an ongoing battle with my grandpa as to whether or not he should grow out his beard. I have a son who is absolutely taking his sweet time at potty training but says the funniest things I’ve ever heard in my life and always tells me that I’m pretty. I have a job that challenges me and keeps my mind moving and allows me to still spend most of my time at home with my family. I have a home that makes my heart happy. I have a sweet puppy that won’t stop jumping on my house guests but has the most amazing tolerance for loud three year olds that want to use her as a jungle gym. I have a small but great group of friends who thoroughly enjoy getting down with wine/cocktails whenever I need one (or five). I have family near and far that constantly remind me that I am loved (even if it’s a string of texts at 5 in the morning or comes in the form of 6 back to back snapchats). I could not imagine needing anything else as I take on this new year.

I wish you all nothing but happiness. If this year was good to you…take time to count your blessings and cary that love into the new year. If this year was bad to you…take time to count your blessings and clear your head, and shake it all off. It’s time for resolutions and positivity and optimism and all of the cheesy “new year, new me” phrases that someone is bound to make fun of you for. It’s time to take on 2017… Happy New Year my friends.

Cheers,

The Whine Connoisseur.

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Zion 2016: some tips on”glamping”

A list of some things that I just can’t stand:
1. Bugs
2. Dirty things
3. Bugs

Despite this fact of life, I still love camping. I grew up going on several camping adventures every summer and so many of my favorite childhood memories are centered around it. But what I love even more than camping is glamping (glam+camping for those of you who are unfamiliar with the funny little term).

My husband has finally wrapped up his summer long work training and had a whole week back home between his travels. Zion has been calling our name all summer and so… off to Zion we went. I’ve always heard that September/October is the best time to visit the park + it’s only about a 2.5 hour drive for us + our garage has been exploding with all of the camping supplies that my husband insisted we absolutely needed at the beginning of the summer so the whole trip just easily fell into place.

One of my least favorite parts about camping (besides the bugs and decreased ability to maintain proper hygiene) has always been the mess associated with meal time. Fortunately for us, Pinterest has completely changed the game and is full of all the ‘make ahead’ meals you could ever want. I spent the entire day before the trip prepping all three days worth of food. I froze most of our food prior to leaving so that it would last longer in the ice chest and I double bagged everything so that it wouldn’t get ruined as the ice melted. The awesome thing about make ahead meals is that you wrap everything in foil and all that you have to do come meal time is throw it over a fire (or a small camping grill like we used) and 20 minutes later you’ve got a delicious hot meal with no dirty cookware.We keep all of our dry food in one large plastic container and keep the container in the trunk of the car where its guaranteed to stay dry and bug/animal free. I like to keep the container stocked full of lots of snacks because lets face it… there is nothing like kicking back in a fold out chair with your feet up on a log while passing around a bag of Chex Mix and seeing how many of the brown pieces you can sneak before anybody catches you.

**Tip: If you rely on your morning coffee like we do, a french press is an amazing way to make the perfect cup of coffee at your campsite. Simply grind some fresh coffee before you leave, store it in an air tight container, and boil some water in the morning. Easiest and freshest cup of coffee you could possibly have while camping. And let me tell you… Something about a good cup of coffee in the cool quiet morning as the sun rises over the campground that is just total perfection.

A few of our favorite meals on the trip were:

 

Campfire Breakfast Burritos:

(This recipe is even better if you sub the frozen potatoes for freshly chopped red potatoes tossed in olive oil/garlic powder/onion powder/paprika/chile powder and add some salsa verde before you roll it all up! We also sub turkey bacon instead of regular bacon)
http://www.justapinch.com/recipes/side/potatoes/bacon-egg-and-potato-breakfast-burritos.html

 
Campfire Potatoes:

http://www.cleverlysimple.com/campfire-potatoes-on-the-grill/

 

 

Campfire Sandwhiches:
(we substituted the roast beef with turkey)

https://www.keyingredient.com/recipes/923025032/hot-roast-beef-sandwiches-pioneer-woman/

 
To “glam” up the site a bit, we brought a tapestry for a table cloth, which I think added a lot of character to our camp and was super easy to just bring home and wash at the end of the trip for plenty of future use. I also got some cheap wine glasses that come 4 for $5 at Target. They’re perfect because if you break one its not the end of the world since they’re so cheap but they are so much better than drinking wine from a solo cup. We brought some decorative candles for the table that we found at homegoods and they doubled as additional light sources in the evening.

Overall I would say the trip was definitely a success. Our camp seemed to have been situated on top of the central meet up point for the entire ant population of Zion, which was less than ideal, but beyond that everything was great. We were able to accomplish an entire 2.2 mile hike that went along the river . Normally I wouldn’t be bragging too much about 2 miles, but when those 2 miles consist of a three year old hiking *mostly* all on his own, I think it’s pretty justified. There was a bit of rain on our second day so we hid out in the car for a while and went for a scenic drive until it passed while The Lumineers and Deathcab For Cutie sang our tired little hiker to sleep. When it wasn’t raining, we played by the river and my husband and son caught little frogs and lizards while I took probably way too many photos.

Zion will forever hold a special place in our hearts because it was the first destination my husband and I ever visited together back when we were dating. Sharing it with our son and watching him find so much happiness there was everything I could have asked for to close out the summer.

Cheers,

The Whine Connoisseur

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Three.

We’ve officially got a threenager on our hands and he certainly seems to have gotten the memo. With all the attitude of a teenager packaged into a toddlers little body, that kid  has been giving me a run for my money these days. With his new age has also come a whole new world of vocabulary and while he thoroughly enjoys arguing with just about everything that I say, I cannot help but to burst out laughing at half the sentences that he manages to put together. One moment the kid has got me on the verge of fuming, the next moment he’s squeezing my face saying “mama, love you soooooooo much!” and in those moments, all I can think is that motherhood is the most amusing and beautiful journey I’ve ever been on.

To celebrate three, we hosted a brunch themed birthday party. I’m fairly positive that Liam would be perfectly down for eating turkey bacon and donuts at every meal for the rest of his life if I let him, so I figured nothing would make him happier than a house full of his favorite people and a table full of breakfast.

I centered the decorations around shades of blue with silver/metallic accents. As always, with the help of Etsy I found a donut banner here for the photo backdrop, and I also found the cake topper and drink stirrers here. For the photo backdrop I used a metallic tassel garland that I found on Amazon.

For food, donuts were obviously the star of the show. I ordered a variety of gourmet  styles from PinkBox donuts, 80% of which were gone in the first hour. I tell ya, say the word “donuts” and people come ready to eat their weight in sugar. Of course there was also turkey bacon–three entire jumbo packages of it because well, people like their bacon just as much as they like their donuts. Keeping with the brunch theme, rather than filling the cupcake stand with cupcakes, I filled it with blueberry muffins and a spinach-artichoke crustless quiche (Pinterest recipes for the win). I made pancakes and as much as I would love to say they were from scratch, given the mass quantity of pancakes that I needed to whip up real quick, I got shake and pour Bisquick (which ended up being such a lifesaver time-wise). To top it all off we had sausage patties, my family’s traditional super chocolate cake, and a bunch of fruit.

No birthday brunch is complete without a mimosa bar for the adults, which is always a hit. We stuck strawberries and raspberries on the drink stirrers, had grapefruit juice and orange juice to offer, and an ice bucket full of champs.

Activity wise, I was able to find the perfect sized kiddie pool on Amazon that we put in the backyard along with water guns and a water table. Put a bunch of kids in a backyard with multiple water activities and they’re happy for hours, it’s awesome. Luckily the weather was on our side and the backyard was actually really comfortable to be in, which is almost unheard of for Vegas in July.

Most importantly, my son had the best time ever. So many of his favorite people were able to make it, he had like 3 donuts and a stack of turkey bacon to himself, and our living room was covered in new toys for three days straight.

This house officially has a three year old, and we are so excited to see the new developments that come with this age.

Cheers,

The Whine Connoisseur

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Moms, don’t feel guilty.

I recently had the opportunity to guest blog over at Positively Oaks. To check out my post about 5 things that mom’s just shouldn’t feel guilty for, head over to:

http://www.positivelyoakes.com/blog/2015/07/29/moms-dont-feel-guilty/

Cheers,

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