June 30, 2014


Last vacation post. And I saved the best for last.

Rt 16A winds through Custer State Park, up and over mountains connecting Keystone (where Mt Rushmore is) and the towns south. It is wooded, smaller than a two-lane road, and about 15 mph. There are multiple single-lane tunnels through the rock, cliffs, and lookouts, which have spots to pull off of the road for viewing.

While along a secluded section of our drive on Thursday, my husband and I decided to stop and look for rocks and pinecones to bring home (this is allowed in marked areas). We parked the Suburban on the side and began to carefully wander, me in flip-flops for pete's sake.

Bryon was searching for the perfect walking/fire-poking stick for our campfire that night and I was hunting for fresh pinecones for this Christmas, and minerals. I lucked out, collecting at least two dozen pinecones as we walked along. I quickly ran out of ability to hold everything and so I carried the pinecones in the front of my tank top, turned upward like an apron. Weeds tickled my belly as we climbed.

We found several nice specimens of white quartz, rose quartz, and mica schist that day. My inner rock nerd was ecstatic.

When we had wandered far enough from the road that we couldn't see or hear it anymore, we made out like animals. The air was sweet and soft on my skin and the ground crackled under my feet. My husband put his hand in my hair and held the back of my head while he kissed me, coming up for air only to smile and sparkle his eyes at me some more. The mountain wind whipped around us and the trees swayed. Best makeout session ever.

When we couldn't carry any more, we headed back to the vehicle. I snapped this photo before we pulled back onto 16A because the memories are sweet and I want to remember how the sun cut through the trees that day. There was much love in this forest, between us and around us.

June 27, 2014

Stockade Lake

On the second day of our vacation, the rain was gone and the sun was glorious. I mean, wow.

We drove to Stockade Lake in Custer State Park to fish.

It was breaktaking. At 5,000 ft elevation, this lake was a sight to behold. The water was so clean and clear we could see the fish swimming 20 feet out.

It was a crappie, blue gill, and perch-like location for us. We caught more than twenty, but put them all back. Bryon saw a pike that was over 3' long swim under the dock, too. When I asked my husband what his favorite part of our vacation was, this day was it.

 Even the rocks will cry out. Even the trees will reach for their Creator God.

June 26, 2014

Things I Love Thursday

1. Ol' Queen Maya. She will be sorely missed. I LOVE this.

2. I'm not sure if this is a wedding dress (surely could be) or an evening dress, but my heart did a pitter pat when I saw it. The photo is styled so beautifully as well. I'd love to wear this you know, on a Tuesday, for no reason whatsoever.

3. Summer uniform.

4. The shift dress is so in fashion right now. I love this one - the gorillas are amazeballs.

5. Floral boho will forever steal my heart.

6. How cute are these plates from Pretty Little Thieves?

7. All china cabinets should be tomato red, in my opinion.

8. Okay seriously, this may be the biggest DUH moment I've had in a while. Paper labels over twine? Hello instant banner!

9. This looks like it is handmade from a stick, a quilting hoop, some yarn, and a mess of feathers. Sign me up!

10. I love this tattoo placement.

11. I love it when leather pops up in unexpected places. This leather tank top is killer.

12. While I don't usually love sporty gear, I do have to say that ever since my fitness habit picked up I do wear it a lot more. I love this retro sweatshirt!

13. *Faints*  This hat, this dress. This is what I wish I could wear every day.

14. I love this eclectic living room. The white and the fur steal my heart.

15. You tell 'em, Maya.

June 25, 2014


Folks, my brain is percolating this morning so it’s hard telling where this one is going to go. Thanks for reading without a Table of Contents is what I’m saying.

Since I started my new job I can tell you that I’m thinking of my work attire differently. The dress code here is casual. Like, jeans. However, I feel motivated to dress more nicely than I did at my previous job. I just… love it. I don’t want to wear holey jeans to work right now. I want to wear suit separates and shop in stores I haven’t visited in years. It feels good. GREAT actually. But you bet I wear a vintage tee under my suit coat!

Paleo is going great. It’s a lifestyle so I don’t expect it to change much. I haven’t accidentally glutened myself in months, so that is great as well. I have started to take activated charcoal capsules with every meal and those are helping to eliminate any leftover belly symptoms I had. It’s strange to NOT be bloated at all at bedtime. Feels so good. I got the charcoal to swish as a tooth whitener (totally works, too) and then once I read of the additional holistic benefits, I started taking some. It is wonderful for any type of digestive anything and cleans the toxins right on out of your body.

So… body. Yes. I’ve been doing yoga now for almost 2 months and to say I love it would be a massive understatement. I go to a studio in town that offers hot sessions around 100 degrees with about 85% humidity. It’s possible to burn over 1,000 calories in one 60 minute class. But more than that? Yeah, confidence is there. Power. Peace. It is amazing. I go to a variety of class styles but my favorite is something called Yoga Sculpt. It’s taught by a friend of mine and she outright kicks my ass in every class – and I love her for it. My husband and my mother-in-law have promised to join me for a Vinyasa class, too. I can’t wait! Bryon’s totally adorable in downward dog. Ha!

Remember how I always get itchy in the summer? This year is no different. I have about a half dozen projects going on right now. I’ve started a quilt (black and white, flying geese) and I am itching to scrapbook. Yes, yes, you read that right. I actually went to the craft store last night and bought my first black Zig pen in about 5 years. HOLLAH.

Dear Hair, please keep growing. I still haven’t decided if I want to trim you up to take some bulk out or let you grow and avoid the expense, so in the meantime you should shoot out of my follicles at unparalleled speed.

Want to know something funny? I actually came across a Pin that described in detail a diet that will enhance breast size. I’ve discussed plenty of times how I love my boob size – and I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned that my boob size has increased about a full cup since I met my husband. I had to be remeasured, new bra size, and everything. We can’t figure out why (and don’t comment and tell me it’s aging because I don’t want to hear that shit) but this article made me giggle. The bigger boob diet = everything paleo. HA. Maybe it is the food I’m eating!  Wouldn’t that save a ton for the honeys who pay to increase their bust!

The other night I was feeling… empty of my nest. [As a side note: Lawsie, college years will be rough on this mama.] So I went downstairs into the pink bedroom and I sat down on Mabel’s bed. It’s perfectly made up the way she left it: her quilt and afghan on top, with her pillow pet and Clover the bunny on her pillow. I leaned down and smelled her pillow and my eyes filled with tears instantly. I laid there for a few minutes and said a prayer. I can’t wait until all three of them are back in my nest where I can love them best.

So Mabel is still having a very difficult time with homesickness. 5 ½ of their 9 weeks have passed and 3 times a week, she cries into the phone, “But, Mommy, I miss you-u-u-u-u.”  She doesn’t understand why I can’t just come get her. She wants to sleep in her own bed, she said. She told me she is ready to go places with Daddy and me. I asked her where she wanted to go and she said, “Anywhere you guys are.” Bless her sweet pickle puss. I did try to talk to Shoes about it a couple of weeks ago when Mabel asked for a picture of me, but he wasn’t having any part of that conversation. So I pray. Bryon prays. Friends on Facebook and Nana pray. Mindy prays. We all pray for all of them to have fun, but we ask for blessings and mercy on Moo Moo. I miss her back!

I wish I could tell you that we’ve worked on the downstairs and installed all of the doors in the 5 weeks the kids have been gone, but we have not. We HAVE done a lot of landscaping and recovery work after the 18” of rain we received about a week ago. Bryon has to redo our paved walkway on the north of the house this weekend. The sand was completely washed out from under the pavers during that storm. He and Trevor built it back up last Father’s Day. Sigh. We will get to them, I have no doubt. But time both drags and flies when they are gone.

Another of the projects I sorely wish to complete while they are gone is the painting of furniture. I have several pieces in the house that need to be painted, or repainted white. We have everything we need and finally it’s warm enough out to do my thing in an evening and have it dry by the next morning.  Must. Just. DO IT. One of the things causing me delay is that I need to find at least one more bedside table, preferably two. Those will probably need painted so… best to do it all at once, my brain keeps saying. Well, shut up, Brain, because I will just do it twice. Must. Just. DO IT.

About scrapbooking. The itch feels a bit foreign to me and familiar at the same time. I am in a different place in my life and I don’t know if my creativity will look the same way it did the last time I scrapped. Not that this matters of course, but it’s curious. I’m so anxious to stick my fingers in paint I can’t see straight. That black Zig pen is calling to me, I tell you what.

Football season approaches. My husband has given me Husker fever, I think. It’s fun to watch college football with him because he loves it so much. And then there is Trevor’s football as well, which starts 3 days after he gets back from his dad’s. Have mercy. It will be hot!

So I took Hayley to Ulta a couple of weeks ago and we picked up some scratch-on nail wraps. I did hers the next day because she asked me eleventy times. I did mine a week later. It’s been 5 days and they’re still going strong. I added another top coat today to keep the tips in shape, but I’m loving them so far! I am surprised there aren’t more to choose from though.

And Dear B: Just thank you. I thought we were tight before but after Sunday, I have to say - I love you so much more. Your eyes are burned into my brain in a new way. And I trust them so, so much. You are so good to me. Thanks for taking care of my heart, for listening to me, and for making such great effort to learn me. And thank you for letting me learn you, too. I love you so, so much. We are worth every moment and every effort. It just keeps getting better, Baby!

June 24, 2014

Rock On

Oh for serious. If you're not a rockhound like Mabes and me, you can skip this post. But I can't wait to show my baby girl what I picked out for her while we visited the Black Hills.

This tiny shop had bulk minerals by the pound and then smaller specimens (2" or so in diameter) for 50 cents each. FIFTY CENTS. Most of the rocks are indigenous to the Black Hills. Are we lucky to live around here or what?

As a child, I collected rocks and minerals. So I was like a kid in a candy store in this quaint little store!

The agate, selenite, and amethyst are my favorites. Hayley loves the aventurine we brought home. Only a few more weeks until Mabel can tell me her favorites.

Next time, I'll buy some larger rocks, too. At $2 per pound, we're talking a total score for the real thing. Agate bookends, here I come!

June 23, 2014


Keystone is just north of Custer State Park on rt 16A. Well, there are multiple ways to get to Keystone but that's our favorite. It brings you up and over a mountain instead of around it. At the top of the mountain is the Norbeck lookout. Across from which are these guys.

Hello, Founding Fathers! I mean seriously. How gorgeous! And also... how tiny we are in this great big world we live in.

The weather was kind of spotty as we drove through Keystone on the first night, toward our campground. So we stopped in some of our favorite shops. First, the Native American store.. my absolute favorite spot. We found a collection of horses that Mabel would squeal over.

Always fresh taffy.

I read recently that when we are on vacation, creativity abounds. Everything becomes potential inspiration. This vacation certainly provided plenty of inspiration. Most of that inspiration came from the authentic Native American sculpture, artifacts, and history. When I was little, we studied the Indians indigenous to our area - the Shawnee. My brother took me to an outdoor play of Tecumseh and I was hooked. In LOVE with these people and their history. My heart breaks for all that they endured and yet, they have persevered in so many ways. Now I live in an area that celebrates the Sioux and while on vacation, I am blessed enough to experience a piece of their history.

While in Keystone, my favorite smell found me... rain on hot concrete.

And I disovered a new place to shop during this visit to the Hills. A quaint rock store where I spent almost an hour touching, squealing, and talking minerals with a mountain man. Did I ever mention I was a rock collector as a child? Ohmyheavens. My husband watched me a smiled and then carried the back of rocks I picked around for the rest of the day. He's my favorite, that guy.

Like her mama, Moo Rae loves some rocks and minerals. I can't wait to show her what I brought home for her collection!

June 20, 2014

Our Custer Cabin

Previous visits to the Black Hills included hotel stays because we weren't sure which campgrounds to take a crack at. This time we took the leap and booked a cabin inside of Custer State Park. The campground we picked was wow. At only $50 a night (sleeps 5!, has electric, AC, heat, firepit) it blew me away.

When we finally arrived the first night, it was raining full-out.

We stayed inside and enjoyed a few cider beers (gluten free!) while we waited out the rain. We were starving, but wanted to eat off of the fire so badly. We watched a few whitetail does wander through the campground as well, flicking their cute ears as the raindrops landed on them.

Finally around 8pm, the rain stopped and the clouds parted - literally. The sun came out just long enough to set shadows across the mountain in front of our cabin.

The fire took a bit because of the humidity, but between his Jedi skills, my girlscout training (yes I did just say that), and a friendly neighbor's lighter fluid, we were finally in business. And my husband was entirely in his element, and smiling.

I prepared foil dinners before we left the house with steak, red potatoes, mushrooms, and snap peas inside. After 15-20 minutes on the fire grate, they were ready and smelled so good that we were worried the mountain lions would creep out of the woods to eat with us.

We used pine needles from the ground in the fire. The smell is whole and clean, with a hint of rosemary.

In addition to regular marshmallows, I brought organic, gluten-free marshmallows for myself. Without any artificial ingredients, they tend to caramelize when heated. Which means they are like a creme brulée explosion in your mouth. Which also means that Bryon at mine instead of his. And I ate 4. But who's counting?

The nights dropped to about 45 degrees. We shared two sleeping bags zipped together on a full size mattress in the cabin, and it was perfect. I'm all about the snuggling and chest hair. Our cabin was within easy walking distance of the shower house, too.

We did discover we'd forgotten the coffee maker the next morning, but we survived.

I'm sorry we waited so long to camp together. It was really fun!