2013 – A Look Back

Highlights from 2013..

Around the World in 2013 – Know your history!! Key events from around the world for the year 2013 can be found here, here, and here.

Image courtesy of here.

Image courtesy of here.

Personal highlights

  • Finally started my own blog. Hopefully 2014 will bring more dedication to actually posting on regular basis though.
  • Really dug in to beginning “DIY/Natural homemade lifestyle”. Some recipes that I made and actually continue to use include cleaning products, facial toner (this recipe), laundry detergent, and no-poo hair routine (similar to this routine). Made first ever maxi skirt (used this tutorial) and dyed my own shorts for summer. Actually completed some crafts that I have “pinned” on Pinterest and pictured in my head including turning wooden crates to bedside tablesdoor hanger, and flower tower.
  • Had a column published in the  local newspaper. And actually was paid for it!
  • Completed 12 hours towards my Master’s degree, while still working full-time and continuing to grow in expectations/responsibilities at work.
  • Was successful at first ever public speaking engagement that was actually for my job rather than for a grade in school.
  • Quit smoking!

Jekyll Island, Georgia – first full family vacation where Ronnie Dean got to experience a full week of vacationing with my family, and my family experienced a full week of vacationing with Ronnie Dean. This included:

  • Ronnie Dean was able to truly experience my sister’s love of “birding” – as in every time she yelled at Dad to randomly pull over on the side of the highway for a picture of a “rare” bird.
  • The family experienced the Montgomery focus and dedication when discovering a new way of hobby. Ronnie and I discovered the “old school” way of catching blue crab, and Ronnie also got to walk along the beach with a homemade spotlight looking to “spear” fish. Although they have heard me talk about it, they finally experienced first hand how Ronnie Dean is like a kid on Christmas morning when discovering a new kind of “hunting”. Poor Dad did not realize that staying with his daughter and son-in-law on the beach to catch crabs would last until 2:00 in the morning.
  • This family vacation also provided Ronnie Dean’s first actual flight and the first time we actually flew together. Saw Captain Sig Hansen from Deadliest Catch tv show in the Atlanta airport – Ronnie Dean got pretty excited! 😉
  • Ronnie Dean and I discovered that no matter where we go, we can always find a fellow “redneck” to discuss fishing/hunting and the different techniques in different parts of the United States, hence the “old school” crabbing and the spear fishing.
  • Whole family went deep-sea fishing. It was fun seeing my parents and sister, especially my mom and sister, reeling in the black sea bass. They even touched the fish! And of course we have the large fish we caught at the taxidermy to go on our wall and the piece of driftwood hand chosen by Ronnie Dean on driftwood beach for the fish to be mounted on!

Hunting highlights

  • Ronnie Dean broke his bad hunting streak and got that buck he has worked towards. Plus the freezer is full of venison!
  • Got my first coyote!

Family highlights

  • Ronnie Dean and I grew our first garden. And plants actually grew!! Abundantly!! We  are loaded down with pickles and peppers still. First garden and canning adventures were a success. This also led to my first ever HOMEMADE PIZZA!! and it was actually tasty!
  • Celebrated our third year of marriage, September 18th.
  • Our slobbery bloodhound turned three, July 18th.

It has been an eventful year with lots memories made. However as with everything I saved the most important change/highlight of 2013 for last. This past year, Ronnie Dean and I made the decision that we were ready to expand our little family. I did not refill my birth control prescription for June and we made the decision to not exactly “try” but rather to quit trying to prevent it and if it happened, it happened. In all honestly, we thought it would take months for the birth control to get out my system and there was no reason to stress/rush the process. Well needless to say what we thought would probably take months to happen, actually took less than a month. (Yes, turns out I was actually pregnant when we went on that family vacation. In fact, my sister informed me last night that while on vacation, she actually asked Mom if she thought I might be pregnant!)

As of today, December 31, 2013, the last day of the 2013, I am 26 weeks and 5 days (based on my estimated due date). The baby is around 14-15 inches from crown to heal and weighs around 1.6 to 2.2 pounds. (Based upon three different pregnancy apps.)

Miss Harley Cheyenne Montgomery is expected to be here April 3, 2014.

Needless to say, 2013 was an excited year with lots of memories made and milestones. However, the year two thousand and fourteen is shaping up to be the most life-changing so far, and I for one cannot wait!

The Singing Made All the Difference….

Every year around this time, anytime you walk into a store (Wal-Mart, Kroger, etc.) you see the Salvation Army people out, ringing their bell, and asking for money. I know this is for a good cause and they should be applauded for volunteering to stand out there; but most of the time, they are just plain annoying. I have met some who are rude and or borderline pushy when asking for money. I hate to admit it, but usually I just walk right on by with a feeling of guilt that lasts about half a second.

But then last Friday happened….

I was heading into Kroger after work to pick up some medicine. As I was pulling in, I saw the old gentleman standing at the door, ringing his bell, and I began to dread having to walk by him. I pulled into my parking spot and began to walk to the door. On my way, I kept seeing people stop and just stare at the man. People heading out of the store, going into the store, stopping and watching this little old man, despite the fact it was cold and dreary outside. As I got closer, I realized the man was singing. Old, traditional Christmas songs. A Capella. With a beautiful, quiet voice. I watched as he stopped one man in his tracks. The man turned around, listened for a few seconds, smiled, and gave some money. At the same time, this other man with two little sons came out of Kroger. One little boy ran up to the Salvation Army man with the brightest smile on his face. The old man let the little boy ring the bell while he finished out his song. By now, I was at the door to Kroger and the Salvation Army volunteer had a crowd.

I went inside with a lump in my throat. I cannot remember the last time I saw a crowd gather around one of the Salvation Army volunteers. I cannot remember when I have heard one of the those volunteers sing such beautiful songs that would stop people in their track. Literally, make them stop, listen, and turn around. Most days it seems we are all in a hurry and do not have the “time” to stop and listen.

As I left the store, I made sure to walk by the old man again. This time a woman was standing next to him listening. “The singing makes all the difference!” I said to her. She replied, “Oh my goodness! It does! Doesn’t it!”. The Salvation Army volunteer simply replied, with the warmest smile on his face, “Thank you ladies! The singing keeps me warm out here.” And he began another song.

Times like this reminds you of the true Holiday Spirit we should have. Giving to others, connecting with strangers, and taking the time to listen to others. I got into my car and felt truly blessed and touched that I was able to hear that old man sing. He truly was, to me, an angel reminding us all what this time of the year is about.

Happy Birthday Oak!

Happy Birthday Oak!! Our pretty boy is 3 years old today!!

He is goofy, loud, slobbery, wrinkly, big, stubborn, hungry, playful, hairy and a complete mess. He is our “child”, and he loves us unconditionally!

Take a look back at the past three years of the crazy, loopy, howlin’ bloodhound that we call Oak!

“A person can learn a lot from a dog, even a loopy one like ours. Marley taught me about living each day with unbridled exuberance and joy, about seizing the moment and following your heart. He taught me to appreciate the simple things-a walk in the woods, a fresh snowfall, a nap in a shaft of winter sunlight. And as he grew old and achy, he taught me about optimism in the face of adversity. Mostly, he taught me about friendship and selflessness and, above all else, unwavering loyalty.” ― John GroganMarley and Me: Life and Love With the World’s Worst Dog

Rummage Sale-I just had to stop!!

I just couldn’t resist…. passed three rummage sale signs all advertising the same place on my way home from work. After the third one, my curiosity got the best of me. Whipped the truck around and went to see what they had to offer. Turns out I found some pieces to add to my closet! 😉

I apologize in advance for the awful pictures (bad lighting and bathroom mirror pic-ugh) but I just had to show what I found! Another man’s (or little old lady in this case) junk is going into my closet! 😉

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Blue jean jacket, two sweaters, silk button tank, and silk square scarf = $2.00!!

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I have been on the lookout for a silky, long button tank. Tucked in or left out, I’m pretty much loving it! And yes it is missing a button, but thats a quick fix!

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I can never have too many blue jean jackets- especially if I get it for $0.25! It did have a rip in it, which I can patch right up! Plus the fact that I have a new scarf to wear at the lake and on the weekend to cover my messy hair…. I am one happy girl!

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So I’m thinking…. this sweater, leggings, and boots curled up by the camp fire this fall. I am loving the pattern, plus it’s super soft! And yes… I so just bought a sweater in 100 degree Arkansas weather!

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Before you think I am crazy for buying an “old lady sweater” let me explain! I love cooler weather and oversize sweaters! They are awesome for cozying up in the cold. I love the colors, and with a scarf and boots, I will so be rocking this come winter!

Just remember that, ultimately, dressing is always about attitude, feeling comfortable, and confidence. -Kate Moss

Personal style is about having a sense of yourself….. When you have that confidence you can wear whatever you want. -Ralph Lauren

Can you find your style at a rummage sale hosted by a little old lady?

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Veggie Pizza – A Recipe Experiment Success!

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Our first garden is doing better than Ronnie and I expected, so we have been canning and trying out new recipes like crazy. Also, my husband has been working on the road during the week, therefore he is only here on the weekends to help me figure out what to do with all these veggies. When we decided to grow our vegetable garden, it was centered around having the vegetables to make pickles, in which Ronnie swore he would help with if the garden was a success. Well as you can see in the picture above, we are in veggie overload, especially on cucumbers and zucchini, and he can’t really help from a hotel room! It sucks when he has to work on the road and stay in a hotel room throughout the week, but it does have one advantage. I always try out new recipes whenever he is gone. This is because if the recipe is good (and I know what Ronnie considers good), then I have something to surprise him with when he gets home. If I try out a recipe and it is bad – no big deal. I can just eat it/dump it and no one has to know!

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Well last night was one of those “let’s try something new” night since I have all these veggies that need to be taken care. I had to stop by Kroger on my home anyway (needed ingredients to pickle my cucumbers!), so I went ahead and bought thin pizza crust dough and pizza sauce. I chose Prego Pizza Sauce Veggie Smart – no specific reason other than it was on sale. I chose Pillsbury brand for the dough because again, I just focused on sale items. If this recipe was going to stink, at least it wouldn’t cost a lot! I have on my kitchen bucket list to make my own pizza dough and pizza sauce, but for now these will work. In the end the pizza turned out AMAZING! This will definitely become a surprise for Ronnie when he gets home20130711-082004.jpg

Ingredients:

*Pillsbury Thin Crust Pizza Dough

*1/3 cup Pizza sauce

* 1/3 cup Zucchini – sliced

*1/3 cup Squash – sliced

*1/2 cup Carrots – shredded

1 pod –  Okra – sliced

*1/4 cup Shredded CheeseSeasoning/Fresh Herbs

*These are rough estimates of the amounts. I used these
numbers to enter data into My Fitness Pal in order to have the nutritional values found below.

-Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.                   -Bake 10-15 minutes

-While the oven preheated, I rolled out my dough. As you can see, I did not exactly get a round pizza. I think my dough got too warm on my way home (happens in 100 degree weather here in Arkansas). The package said it would just roll out, and well it didn’t. It still worked just fine, and the shape didn’t bother me. I used my pizza stone to bake the pizza on, but you could use a basic cookie sheet as well.

-Once you have it the size (or shape) you want, place in oven for about 5 minutes (followed this step based off instructions of Pillsbury container).

-While waiting for dough to pre-bake, slice the veggies you want. I used my Mandolin Slicer, so about five minutes was all I needed to get my veggies ready. We already had the shredded carrots in the fridge, so I added those as an afterthought.

-After the dough is done pre-baking, take it out of the oven and spread your pizza sauce on. The recipe on the dough package called for 1/3 cup, but I just     eye-balled the amount until it looked right. After that I added my veggies and shredded cheese. I added some dried herbs on top. **Please note, whenever I try new recipes, I just grab random herbs/spices and then can never remember which ones I used. That is part of the fun of trying new things, you don’t have to be too serious about it. For this recipe, I used basil and Italian seasoning. I know I used one more, but for the life of me cannot remember what it was.

-Bake in the oven for about 10-15 minutes or until you reach the desired crust. **The package stated 6-9 minutes, but as my dough turned out a little thicker, I put it on for longer until my crust looked a little darker. I like my crust a little on the crispy side.

-Let the pizza cool, and enjoy! This took all of 30 minutes,which would have been shorter if I didn’t have to fight the dough with my roller! Simple, easy, and delicious!

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Please ignore the “Goal” column. These are my personal goals set up in My Fitness Pal, which is a free app that makes it easy to track your food intake and exercise goals. Plus it comes in handy for determining nutritional value for new recipes!

Thanks Mom!! My Mandolin Slicer

So yes, I am a dork. I am thanking my mom for a mandolin slicer. Back-story: my mom gave this to me over a year ago. We tried it out while she was at my house with an orange. It made a mess; I think we did it wrong. Ever since, it has been in its box in the back of cabinet. Last night, I decided to make zucchini pickles and was DREADING having to cut all the slices. I can never cut them even, and it just takes forever. Then I remembered that weird little slicer in the back of the cabinet. I decided to give it a shot, and the outcome: IT’S AWESOME!!! My slices were perfect, and it took no time to slice the veggies. YAY!

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So we are starting to get quite a few zucchini from the garden, and with the hubs on the road this week I am tired of trying to eat them all by myself. So after giving some away, I headed to Pinterest to find a zucchini pickle recipe.

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PERFECT SLICES!!

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I found this Pickled Zucchini Recipe at neckredrecipe.blogspot.com. Really simple recipe.

Sunday Afternoon Door Hanger

Yesterday afternoon I had time to kill so I decided to make decor for my front door.

20130623-185247.jpg For this project, I used an old frame I had, plus letters purchased from Hobby Lobby for our initials. As you can see, my “M” broke in half, which was quickly remedied with a hot glue gun and duck tape. 😉

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First I painted the letters and frame green. It looked a little plain to me, so I dug into my paint stash and found pink, white, and blue paint. 

I used a skinny paint brush to paint white on the frame. I added pink and white lines with blue dots on the letters.

After the paint was dry, I used clear fishing line to tie the letters together and attach to the frame. It still needed something extra, so I used colored burlap and burlap flowers (both purchased from Hobby Lobby) to add some depth. The door hook was also purchased at Hobby Lobby – I just love that place!

Oak keeping me company in the garage while I paint! Ain’t he cute??

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Finished door hanger for the front door! All together this project took me a couple of hours, including time for the paint to dry.

Just a little Backroad….

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There’s nothing like hitting a little back road. Cruising with the hubby while singing Ol’ Red with Blake Shelton. Checking out the corn, rice, beans, and peanuts growing in fields lining the road. Just a little relaxation and bonding time on an Arkansas Saturday afternoon. We haven’t gone on a Backroad together in a while, and it sure did feel good!

Saturday Morning Junk Patrol

Whenever we go to the lake, I take every available opportunity to make the thirty minute drive into Mountain Home to check out the farmer’s market, yard sales, and flea markets. This past Saturday, while Ronnie and his brother fished, I took advantage of having a few hours to do whatever I pleased. So when the boys pulled down to the lake at 6:30 Saturday morning, me and Hailey (my brother-in-law’s girlfriend) took off for Mountain Home to see what we could find.

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Cappuccino anyone??

After a quick trip through McDonald’s drive through (I was really needing caffeine and was craving my caramel mocha!) we stopped by the Mountain Home farmer’s market.  First purchase of the day – fresh strawberries, blueberries, cucumbers, freshly baked banana bread and AWESOME homemade guacamole and salsa! I also completely forgot to take pictures of these finds as I was too overwhelmed with the thought of eating it all right there in the parking lot of the farmer’s market. I’ll do better next time! 😉

As we had a few hours to burn, we decided to just drive around and whip the truck down any road that had a yard sale sign posted. We also threw in some flea markets  along the way.

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This was a tent set up in the middle of town named The Weathered Window. Check out their Facebook page. Apparently, they set up once a month and we picked the perfect weekend! Although I didn’t buy anything, the items at this place were perfect inspiration for future craft ideas!

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More Inspiration from The Weathered Window!

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Inspiration for a pillow (The Weathered Window), outdoor plant (yard sale), and patriotic quilting (Mountain Home flea market)!

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Awesome wood piece at The Weathered Window.

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Loving this ladder at The Weathered Window. Now to find my own wooden ladder…..

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When I found a box full of old chicken feeders, I was interested but not sure of what I would use them all for. But when the lady told me I could have them all for $1……SOLD! Can you guess what I have been searching all over Pinterest for this week? 😉

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Possible Planter???

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Mail Holder???

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Utensil Holder??

 

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Can you tell which shirt cost $1 at a flea market, and which one I bought at the department store??? Yea, me neither —SOLD!

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Just another addition to my burlap sack collection!

When we got done shopping, we met up with the boys and spent the rest of the day on the lake!

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Silly Husband!

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Me and Hailey

20130611-212839.jpg“On the pontoon.. Makin’ waves and catchin’ rays up on the roof.. Jumpin’ off the back, don’t act like you don’t want to.. Party in slow motion.. Out here in the open.. Mmmmmmmm…motorboatin” — faboulous lyrics from “Pontoon”, Little Big Town

 Family + Junk Patrol + Farmer’s Market + Lake Time + Cold Drinks = PERFECTION!

Outdoor Oasis

With the dawn of Pinterest, it seems as though you can get ideas and instructions for almost anything. I can get inspired from my couch as I click-through that nifty app on my phone. However, the absolute best inspiration and my favorite type of “research” involves family.

Below are pictures from the yard of one of my aunts. She is a Master Gardener and my go-to for flower questions. She is the one who came over and helped plant my front flower bed when we first bought our house. Every trip to her house includes a stroll through her yard. Her use of flowers, pots, plants, and decor motivates and inspires me as I create my own backyard oasis.

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Love the different aspects of color and types of containers she uses. I absolutely love her red deck with the water feature and planted containers all over.

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These were some of my favorite flowers I found. I am inspired by all of the different colors and textures my aunt uses throughout her landscaping.

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She ties in ornaments, tables, and rocks to provide places to sit and walk through all of the flower beds.

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Just another example of the several types of colors and plants she incorporates.

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Besides providing a beautiful picture, this tree was also home to two bird nests, with one being a hummingbird nest!

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This has to be my favorite yard ornament ever!

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As I smell the flowers, you can see my sister photographing everything in sight!

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Aunt Cindy includes different aspects throughout her flowerbeds, including several rock pathways such as this one.

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This is part of the border separating her property from her neighbors.

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These awesome pots lined the steps leading up to her back door on her deck. I must have something like this whenever we finally build on our back deck!

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Yet another seating area in my aunt’s yard. These are hanging from a tree with seating below. Can you guess what I will be on the lookout for on future flea market trips!?

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Even Dad enjoys strolling through the flower beds and yard, as my sister is still photographing everything in sight in the background. I do believe he wished we would focus more on the flowers and less on taking pictures of him!

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My aunt always likes to share some plants as well. Here is a crepe myrtle that she gave me for my yard.

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She also loaded me down with some gardening books!

Hopefully this has inspired you as much as it did me!!