December 31, 2012

Holly and Jolly

Happy New Year's Eve!!

I'm sad Christmas is over. At this point it is silly to continue putting up decorations because it's almost the new year, but I haven't got my fix yet. I just want to keep decorating!!! I'm definitely not ready to take them down.

Instead, I will be throwing myself into wedding planning and finally get some things accomplished (fingers crossed). I already hit up some Christmas clearance for some decorating accessories and also did some more dress shopping!

But back to Christmas. It goes by too fast. Even when you try to drag it out, it just doesn't last long enough. We had many a celebration with ourselves and with family. We ate waaaaaaay too many cookies and really need to go take advantage of that YMCA membership we have now...

{ Christmas Eve and Santa had already stuffed the tree with presents }

{ Feeding the birds squirrels Christmas morning }
We were supposed to get a white Christmas night with 2-4 inches of snow, but no such luck. We were Snowless in St. Louis for Christmas, but we didn't have to wait long before we got our first snow and as I'm typing we are getting more!!

{ Dad walking down his road }
{ The view from my parents' dining room }

{ Out back from our house :: A winter wonderland for sure }
We had a winter marshmallow roast two nights ago. With all the snow and a bright moon it was a gorgeous night.

{ Actually feeding the cardinals }
I'm hoping to get enough for some New Year's Sledding tomorrow! 

Tonight we do not have plans set yet. We thought Tyler had to work in the morning, but he got the good news that he has the day off! So doors have opened now that we can actually stay up till midnight like normal 24 year olds and will be able to sleep in the next morning. Then snuggle up to watch the HGTV Dreamhome special, (my personal New Year's tradition). 

We also get to hang out with an old friend in the new year, because Stephanie's in town!!!

Cheers, everyone!


December 26, 2012

Mele Kali... oh wait, Merry Christmas!

Flashback to yesteryear...

We've been focusing on wedding things this holiday season and didn't get any cards sent out or even any Christmas pictures to use for an e-card, so I'm borrowing this from last year.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas, we sure did! Thanks to our families for making it special!

December 3, 2012

Growing Green for Christmas

Hola! Where does time go and why do I always feel behind on blogging? Really? Tell me how November felt like a total of 2 seconds long and now we're decorating for Christmas already.

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving vacay in Mexico with Tyler's family, but like all time these days, it went by too quickly. We had gorgeously warm weather and plenty of fun kayaking, soaking up the sun, and just hanging out with family. It was nice to be by a BEACH again... Oy, sometimes we get a little homesick for our Hawaiian beaches.

And speaking of warm weather... (bad segue, I know)... What is up with the weather we are having?

This weekend we spent  most of our time and energy putting up our Christmas decorations... in t-shirts. People were walking around in shorts! It's December 3 and it is dark outside and I have the doors open enjoying the not-so-cool-but-warmish night breezes.

Something feels a little off. This is not Hawaii. This is the Midwest and it should be cold.

We are growing green this Christmas. No plastic trees for us! No cut trees either.

I've always liked fresh trees for Christmas, but the thought of the mass tree murder  that happens around the season is a little sad (I know they plant 3 trees for every one they cut, but I think there's a little bit of Lorax inside of me). So this year we've followed a tradition of Tyler's family and we've welcomed a living, growing tree into our home. Its roots are lovingly packaged in burlap and it's nestled into a wash bin (double lined with painter's tarp). We had to bring out our Hulk muscles in order to get it into place because it feels like it weighs 3 tons, but eventually we got it situated to start the decorating!

It's still a work in progress. Though we've been together over 4 years now this is only our second Christmas we've spent under the same roof. We haven't had time to build up a large ornament collection. Each year Tyler's mom has given us a few special ornaments she's collected from different locations and we have one that we bought in Hawaii last year.  So we've been adding to our collection by making our own, and popcorn garland too! A labor of love that will probably last the whole season.

{ Remembering Christmases past - with an address on the other side }
We picked out our tree at Daniken Tree Farm, which was a little bit of a drive but totally worth it for the size of tree we got. The biggest ones we could find at stores like Home Depot or Lowes were about 2 feet tall. And even Eckert's trees only stood about 4 feet tall. The one we picked is a white pine grown right here in Illinois.

After the holidays we will be planting our tree so we can watch it grow for many years to come.

Planting this tree doesn't mean we'll have a cold winter next year with lots of snow, but we like helping our environment in whatever ways we can, even if it's just one tree. It's still one PRETTY tree, you guys! ...and think of the forest we'll have planted when we're old and grey!


I think I'm going to go hug my tree now.


November 22, 2012

Turkey Lurkey

Greetings from Mexico,
I hope everyone is stuffed to the gizzard, as well as celebrating friends, family, and all you have to be thankful for.
Feliz Thanksgiving!


November 17, 2012

You know you're loved...

... when your man will push a 200 lb. wheel down a creek bed and up steep hills just because you hoped to make it yours.

Guess what guys... WE GOT IT!

We tried a rope and pulley system but that certainly didn't work, so instead Tyler put his manly muscles to work.

{ Creek bed where the wheel used to lay }

Rolling, rolling, rolling.
Over the river and through the woods, and down the waterfall they go...

I may not have been too much help, but my part of the process came later. In the meantime I was obviously documenting the process and other pretty things I found in the woods. And these serious pictures of Ty, hard at work, are so worth it. He makes it look easy here, but that wheel is a beast. I can't even make it budge on  my own.

Flipping, flipping, flipping.

See... I helped.

Finally, a smile because we are almost there.

It was a lot of effort for picking up a piece of trash from the woods. A little over the top for neighborly clean-up. But it was a lot more fun than going to the gym.

And as a prize for our efforts Tyler has larger muscles and a fiance that fell in love with him a little bit more, and I have a giant iron wheel that I have no idea what to do with!! Yippee!

Tyler, Amy, and The Wheel 
Forever and Ever <3


November 11, 2012

And the wheel turns.

My how time flies... It's almost the holidays already (which, yay!), the weather is getting cooler, and it might even snow tonight!

Yesterday, however, was warm and wonderful.

A big chunk of our woods was recently bought by Greenspace and they put on a neighborhood hike to show the city what a beautiful place it is.

I already knew that it is beautiful of course, because I have been hiking all over these woods since I was small. I have still had this event in my calendar for weeks. And after all my planning for it, it turned out that we were late because they changed the time. Luckily, we were able to catch up to the main pack and lo and behold there was a big turn-out!

( The "Old Girl Scout Camp" }

I think Tyler got a kick out of the fact that the neighborhood was going on a hike together. At one point he smiled and shook his head and said, "Who does that?"

We do. and it. is. awesome.

After the group hike we were working on cutting some vines that were growing up our trees and we found ourselves wandering back into the woods. As I was walking up the creek I kept finding cool things I wanted to point out to Tyler but he was slowly lollygagging behind and building damns in the creek. Ignoring my pleas to "Come look!"

But then! I came upon something really exciting... You see, back in the day there used to be coal mining in the area and there was a railway going through our woods. There are still concrete pillars marking its way and many other pieces of its history hidden about the woods.

Mostly buried in the creek bed, I saw a wheel.

It was in an area that used to be a blockage of tree trunks, rocks, trash, bicycle, etc. for most of my days. For 24 years it probably sat under there without anyone knowing. But as nature does, it changed. The logs rotted, the rain swells swept them away, and it their absence my wheel was uncovered.

I called out to Ty long enough that he finally came and caught up to me.

The wheel is neat, and it's history! I found treasure and I wasn't about to leave it there. We wanted it. We got to work scraping rocks an mud off of the wheel.

Turns out it was double spiked, with very thick rims, and just... BIG. We worked and worked until it started getting dark deciding to come back to it later.

Today we went back down with extra supplies, a large iron rod was the most useful tool and Tyler pried the wheel up out of the ground. Then we started rolling it along the creek bed...  I say WE but it was a dangerous and daunting task. Did I mention the wheel is made out of iron and probably weighs a lot more than I do? Yeah, Tyler didn't let me near it in case it crushed me. So HE rolled it and I moved big rocks out of its path, supervised, gave advice, etc...

Unfortunately, getting back to our house is all up hill. Steep hills. We had other plans today and weren't able to complete the task. We left it on the side of the creek bed and I covered it with leaves in case the Hulk comes across it and decides he wants to keep it too.

We will be back for it soon! Even if we have to organize a second neighborhood hike the get enough people to lift it up that hill, we will do it!

I'll keep you posted.

October 24, 2012

haunting of trees

I am sitting here on the deck once again enjoying the SUPREMELY perfect October weather (high of mid 80's? Oh yeah!). My posts feel like they are getting all backed up, I was intending to add some other pictures and talk about some things that have happened over the last couple weeks (cause I'm always behind)...

All week I've been wanting to write about how fall is for taking the long way home, because last week I was taking detours like a crazy person just to look at all the changing trees.

AND THEN! As I was sitting here I started playing a THIS song/video (via one of my favorite blogs). And that was literally the first few lyrics of the song!

As if on cue after starting the song, I glanced up at my trees (which have dropped most of their brilliantly yellow leaves and now look more like those in this video) and a branch from the tippy-top of a giant maple tree fell off of the tree and crashed alll the way to the ground. We're talking a good sized branch too, not some puny twig. No wind nor squirrel provoked it to my knowledge. It just suddenly fell ...with the weight of my eye... (Creeeepy)

It was just haunting enough I took it as a sign I should most-definitely share this with you. now.



October 17, 2012

Raining Leaves

There is nothing more beautiful and fleeting as autumn foliage.

I am surrounded by gold, red, and orange hues, aglow. Yesterday I was sitting outside listening to an owl hoot and even watched it glide by silently. Way back then (oh, 24 hours ago), there were only about half as many leaves on the ground as there are now. Today the deck and garden seem to be frothing with golden maple leaves.

My pictures can never do nature justice. I've been taking them for days but they just don't turn out the same. Nature is always most enthralling in it's original state, but I continue to try to capture pictures anyway. Hoping for something to appear on the screen that is similar to what I see surrounding me on all sides. However the images always lack that luster that appears in the present.

The views from our porch are absolutely stunning. Every instant things seem to get prettier. After living in Hawaii and Colorado, and visiting other places, this is still my favorite fall. Still some of my favorite views of all. Autumn in the Midwest; there's nowhere I'd rather be.

I always wish I could stop time and let fall drag on. It's something it never does. It is always too quick, things change too fast, and it seems like it's over before you can even grasp how wonderful it really is.

A storm is rolling in as I'm typing and I know the view out our window will be much different upon waking tomorrow... a little more brown and a little more bare.

Oh Fall, you bittersweet season, you've stolen my heart!


October 16, 2012

Plankton the Scarecrow

Meet our new friend! He is the fruit of our thrift shopping and love. This is Plankton our scarecrow.

The day after visiting the mine, he was born at the Scarecrow Jamboree. My FAVORITE fall tradition... One I used to get homesick for... A neighborhood get-together of near Gilmore Girls proportions that consists of scarecrow building, chili eating, square dancing, and neighbor mingling. A block of one of our roads is shut down and we all come out to celebrate the best season of all!

{ Scarecrow Birth }
We didn't enter Plankton into the scarecrow competition. We went for traditional and simple for Tyler's first Jamboree experience. But next year... I think we're going to be pretty fierce competitors.

We hit two chili cook-offs in one weekend and I still haven't had my fill of chili! I think Plankton has though... he always has a satisfied smile on his face.


October 8, 2012

Midwest Diving: Part 1

Busy weekend here! Friday, I took Tyler to his first ever Chili Cook-Off in downtown Belleville. It was a little cold and rainy but it was perfect for some hot chili. We started at the first booth and bought a sample and every time we finished one off we'd stop at the nearest booth to get another until we taste-tested ourselves around the town.

Saturday is the day that Tyler was most looking forward to. We woke up before the sun and headed to Bonne Terre, MO so Tyler could dive the old lead mine that has since flooded and become the largest underground lake in the world.

He was particularly excited about this site because it touts it's super clear water and was even ranked by National Geographic as one of it's Top 10 U.S. Adventures. And to boot it is only an hour and a half drive from our home.It's big enough that he can dive it many times and keep exploring new places within it. 

Driving into the town and even the parking lot,  you'd never guess there was a giant mine stretching underneath the ground in every direction. The entrance to the mine is very small and unimposing (the old entrance for the mules) but the inner expanse goes for miles and there are five levels in total.  It's big enough that there was even a Red Bull Wakeboarding Competition that was held inside (Link to a video Here if you're interested. It shows a lot of the mine in the beginning.)

There were some problems with Tyler's experience; in the dive group set to go out prior to his someone reported that their air smelled funny and was possibly contaminated. So all the tanks had to be drained and refilled from the compressor. This delayed their dive approximately 2 hours.

Meanwhile, I was sleeping in the car. I tagged along thinking we'd be able to hang out when he wasn't in the water but the way they operated kept us separated most of the day.

We did have the chance to get lunch and buy some scarecrow clothes for Sunday, but then it was time for him to go back down for more diving. He was assured by the staff that they would make up the lost time so he could fit in all three dives he had signed up for, but that turned out not to be the case and he only got in 2 in the planned time frame with no refund or credit. We headed home at 5 instead of him doing his last dive because we had plans that evening and it had already been a very long day.

Despite the few hiccups Tyler really enjoyed the diving. He got to use his dry suit to keep him warm in the 58 degree water and the experience was different than his past diving. There are no fish or animals to see in the water but the formations and old mining equipment provided plenty of entertainment. He's excited to go back  for more exploration.

During his second dive I went on a walking / boat tour of the mine and got to take these pictures to share!

And this doesn't even take us to the end of the weekend...


September 30, 2012

Pick Your Own

There are so many wonderful fall activities to do. It's almost hard to fit everything in on the weekends but so far Tyler and I have been doing a pretty good job. We've already been to Eckert's TWICE! Once a few weekends back to go apple picking and once again today to find some pumpkins to dress up our yard.


When picking apples you can eat as many as you'd like while in the orchards, and I think Tyler had a stomach ache by the time we left. We limited ourselves in our apple picking because it's easy to come home with waaay too many apples so instead we spent a little extra time in the orchard just clowning around.

I learned how to juggle when I was about 9 or 10 I think, and it has been a wonderful talent to have. It's perfect for a spontaneous performance pretty much anywhere. Tyler said he always wanted to be able to juggle, and with so many apples lying around it was the perfect place to teach him. He's been practicing a lot since and we've started coming up with some complicated tricks! (Yes, we are a really awesome couple who comes up with juggling routines in their spare time...)
{ Obviously, I have stellar fashion sense ;) }

{ Practicing away }

Today while pumpkin picking both on the trailer ride out and back, we were just about the only couple who didn't have a baby. We were definitely the odd balls out, but we found some nice pumpkins to bring home and picked out some cute little gourds too (for more juggling of course)!


It's still early in the season and I plan on displaying pumpkins through Thankgiving, so who knows, maybe we'll go back a third time! 

The leaves are starting to change here and it's only going to get more gorgeous from here. If you haven't been already, get out and enjoy this beautiful season and maybe learn something new while you're at it!