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!

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.

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!!

Happy Memorial Day!

Before I begin this blog post, I just want to wish everyone a Happy Memorial Day!!! God bless our troops – past and present! Thank you for your service and dedication to this wonderful country!

Free image from http://howtonestforless.com/2012/05/28/happy-memorial-day-free-printables/

Free image from new blog I found here.

For the past several years, my husband and I celebrated Memorial Day weekend at the lake. This involves fighting with the pontoon to get it running after sitting still all winter, cleaning up a bit around the camper, meeting up with our “lake friends”, and working on our tans (or sunburn in my case). This year however, we decided to stick around the house, get some yard work done, and (for me) complete a D.I.Y. project that I have had my eye on. I will admit, I was a little upset at staying at home – I was really looking forward to getting out of town, swimming, and perhaps trolling some flea markets and yard sales around the lake. However, I must say I actually enjoyed just relaxing at the house on my four day weekend. This is a little what my extra long weekend involved…..

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Friday, I decided to travel to a nearby town and check out some flea markets. Although I didn’t find anything I just had to have, it was quite relaxing. I did find some elephant decor that made me think of my elephant-obsessed coworker! Her blog (www.elephantgrace.com) is actually one that helped inspire and encourage me to create my own.

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Turned some plain wood crates into new night stands for the guest bedroom. Blog post on that project coming soon!

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Warning! If you happen to get wood stain on you, your legs WILL be stained for a couple of days! Needless to say, I could not wear shorts in public for most of the weekend.

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Although my husband has gotten to go fishing several time this year, I finally got the chance to tag along! First catch of the year (for me at least)!!!

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Weeding my garden was spread out over all four days. My garden makes me so happy!!

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Radishes fresh from the garden!!

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Found this recipe for pickled radishes here and here.

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Along with my co-chefs, made some pretty awesome radish dip with this recipe.

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Of course our Sunday afternoon was planned around the big race and grilling some burgers. While my husband and friends watched NASCAR, my previously mentioned co-chefs and I built a sleeping bag tent in the kitchen!

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Oak won that wrestling match!

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Poor Oak was wore out by the end of the weekend!

Hope you had a good weekend and enjoy this short work week!!

Tower Power – My Herb Garden

I have always wanted to do my own terra cotta pot tower. My aunt gave me the idea years ago, and with the dawn of pinterest, google, and my first ever garden, I finally decided to build my own. This year my husband and I planted our own vegetable garden and I wanted to grow my own herbs. After much consideration and research, I figured one of these cool flower towers would be awesome for herbs. When I found a box full of medium and small terra cotta pots at a flea market (all for $5!!) I decided this was going to be my next project.

While at Lowe’s picking up some supplies for a water line my husband was running out to the dog kennel (no idea why he sent me as I have no clue about pc pipe and couplings), I picked up some herbs that looked pretty good and were on sale. I also picked up a green rod at k-mart to go down the middle of the pots. That night, by the glow of the four wheeler lights shining on the flower bed as I got home after dark, I assembled my tower. I used a larger pot I have had in the attic forever as my base. I stuck the rod in my flower bed where I wanted the tower. I then placed my larger pot where the rod went through the hole in the bottom of the pot. Once I filled the pot with potting mix, I put a smaller pot on the rod (through the hole in bottom of the pot) to sit on the dirt. I then added each smaller pot to reach the top of the rod. Once I had the pots how I liked them, I added potting mix and plants.

After I placed the plants in the pot, I used green paint I already had (free with a coupon!) to paint the name of the herb in each pot. Note, I painted the terra cotta pots a bronze the night before in order for the paint to dry in time.

All together, it turned out Perfect and quite easier than I expected. Plus. It smells amazing!!

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The past two weeks…

As my computer decided to crash two weeks ago, and I have yet to get a new one, I am a little behind on posting. So as I am posting from my phone, I’ll give ya a quick photo tour of the past two weeks of my lovely world. Hope you enjoy!

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It’s been a fun two weeks that have included gardening (making my flowerbed, trees, and window boxes look pretty), a quilt show with my grandma, fun times at work (enjoying our strawberries and making-or watching my coworker make-a watermelon baby for a baby shower at work), and having some redneck fun (scouting for turkey, dirt track races, and eating some good ol mudbugs with good friends)!

My life may seem country, and perhaps a bit redneck, but sure is wonderful!