2018 In Reflection

My Facebook Year in Review has officially chosen the most liked pictures and created a little video for me to reflect on 2018 so guess what else that means? It is the time for my own reflections as well! The fifty degree weather, lack of snow, and limited holiday decor at our home are leaving me a bit on the Grinch-side. However, I am looking forward to 2019 and feel so incredibly blessed to have had all the experiences of 2018.

In tradition of the past few years, 2018 is being hailed as the newest Worst Year of All Worst Years. I didn’t get the message though. 2018 was by far my best year yet. 2019 has a lot to live up to when I look back at this past year, but I am so excited for what the future has in store.

But I am getting ahead of myself. Before welcoming the New Year, I want to take a second and be grateful for all this year has given to me.

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Christmas In Chicago

For Christmas this year, my in-laws took G and I on a weekend trip to the Windy City. Only two hours away from our quiet little country town, Chicago is a quick drive to experience city-life every now and then. It was a quick weekend full of memories and festive attractions. A big thanks to “Ma and Pa G” for this great Christmas present! It allowed G and I to get out of the house, away from work, and spend precious moments with his parents. We are incredibly blessed.

If you are visiting Chicago for a weekend around Christmastime, there are a lot of places to visit and things to do in the city. Though we couldn’t squeeze every attraction into our schedule, here is what we were able to see and do:

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Wine 101: Icewine

This past weekend I was invited on a wine tasting adventure with six other wine influencers (hailing from Chicago, Miami, Florence, and Brazil!) I visited three wineries with them and was treated to a behind-the-scenes look into the wine-making process. We visited Lake Michigan Vintners, Domaine Berrien Cellars, and Dablon Vineyards. Though I have experience in Southwest Michigan’s wine industry, it was amazing to learn more from the owners and winemakers of some of the area’s premier wineries as well as talk with my group’s attendees. I have a lot to learn still — especially when it comes to international wines — and I am excited to do so during my free time.

Moving forward on the blog, I’ll be sharing some of the things I learned from this collaboration as well as tidbits I’ve picked up during my travels and past work experience. Perfectly fitting with the season and weather, I want to talk a bit about icewine. This unique wine was always questioned in the tasting room and comes with a wealth of history and flavors. So it is a great topic for today’s wine discussion!

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6 Lessons I Learned In 6 Months Of Marriage

Today marks a half-year since G and I said “I do” in front of our loved ones and God. Honestly, I cannot believe it has only been six months. A lot has happened during that time including a career shift for G, both of us enrolling into coursework, a new truck and house, an adorable nephew, and all the other thrills of being newlyweds with busy schedules. While enjoying sushi at our favorite restaurant on Friday, we reminisced about all of our milestones since the wedding. The ink is barely dry on the marriage certificate, but we are excited for the next memory we’re able to make in this adventure.

One thing we had fun talking about over dinner was what we’ve learned so far as newlyweds. Some were foretold during marriage counseling and illuminated during our few months as newlyweds, others we’ve uncovered on our own. We have learned a lot in this short amount of time, and I can only imagine how much more we have to discover.

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What Love Isn’t

At the beginning of this week, I had a conversation with a dear friend of mine on the topic of heartbreak. Though not a topic I’ve discussed in awhile, it brought a lot of memories to mind as I recollected on my past. Then today as I was driving to volleyball I heard the song Love Ain’t by Eli Young Band on the radio. The song portrays what love is by giving examples of what “love ain’t.” It had me thinking even more deeply on the topic. Add this with the knowledge that this weekend marks six months of married bliss — something which I once could only dream of achieving — I formulated my own version of what love is not.

Playing off the idea from the song Love Ain’t, I began to take note of instances in my past which I thought were love but turned out to be a mirage. Fleeting and forced feelings, endless questions, and a myriad of memories where silver-linings are hard to find.  With all these circulating thoughts, I began to consider the misguidance and mishaps of my past which shaped what love truly means to me.

My love-journey captures a variety of things: from snippets of hurt I’ve seen in my friends’ lives to the pain of my own, as well as my own failings in relationships and regrets of what I could have done instead. Pain is unavoidable through Life, but I’ve always aimed to learn from the hurt. Without knowing what love isn’t, I would never have discovered what love is. As I move forward with joy over the true love I have found and relish in knowing the pain it took to realize what I deserved, here is my own version of what love is not…

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House Hunting Adventures v. 3

Lesson Learned v. 3: Don’t Force Feelings

G and I are loving being homeowners. We are continually working to make our new house a home and have completed a number of projects thus far. These include demolishing the wall between the dining room and living room, repainting six rooms, reflooring five rooms, trimming rooms, and hanging blinds. We both have the week of Christmas off in order to gut our bathroom and remodel. It has been quite the adventure already!

It seems crazy that we’ve only lived in our house for a little over two months. Not even four months ago we were casually house-hunting. I’ve shared with you our first six house visits here and here, but I have one final story in that journey to tell. It took visiting three more houses for us to find our little lovely corner of Southwest Michigan. Here are those final three tales…

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5 Wine Touring Tips For Beginners

Yesterday I was invited into a collaboration with a fellow wine friend I met on Instagram, and I am SO EXCITED! I miss the wine industry, and any excuse I have to participate with it, I take. I’ll share more information in a week or two once the planning comes to a close, but until then you can be sure I will be educating myself even further on Southwest Michigan’s local wine scene.

One key component I will share about this collaboration is that it will involve wine tastings and tours. The question of how many and which wineries will be on the tour is still up in the air. However, as I continue to prepare for this new event, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to share some of my wine knowledge with you. As someone who worked in the Michigan wine industry for over four years, I gained a few gems of information on the topic. Welcome to one of my passions: wine!

Southwest Michigan has become a focal point for any wine connoisseur. It is nearly impossible for visitors in the area not to pass a sign mentioning a local winery and allowing passers-by to, quite literally, taste the countryside. With the lake effect off Lake Michigan, Southwest Michigan has earned the privilege of having its own signature varietals, expressing the particularities of the local soil and climate. With a specific vocabulary and wide range of flavors to master, wine can be an intimidating subject. Do not let this daunt you though! If you’ve never been on a tasting tour, here are some basic tips to keep in mind as you sip your way along the lake shore.

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White Elephant Gift Exchange (With Printables!)

The holiday is quickly approaching and that means festivities are abound! One of my personal favorite parts of the holiday season is to attend and host Holiday/Christmas parties and be surrounded by family and friends. One fun way to increase the laughs and interaction from all those at your holiday shindig is to host a White Elephant Gift Exchange.

Not sure what that entails? In the case you have never participated in a White Elephant Gift Exchange, I have drawn a little list together of how to host one and even provided some graphics for easy planning! Here is how the exchange works:

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