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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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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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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Friendsgiving 2018 Menu

Thanksgiving is a traditional meal — gotta have that green bean casserole, amirite?! But Friendsgiving has become a fun new tradition G and I began last year. This year had to be a much more intimate affair due to all those home improvements and limited amount of time to plan, but it was still a great time. We used the time for enjoying more delicious food and even better community.

Talking about food, I wanted to provide some praise for our menu this year in the form of a post. I could go into detail about how to plan your own Friendsgiving or games/activities to play at your own dinner, but I think those topics are too difficult to cover. I mean, you know what works best with your friends’ group and can Pinterest tons of ideas. Instead, I’m going to focus on the dinner table.

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Share Blog: Love What Matters

I am blessed to call some amazing women my closest friends. Playing off my last post on what and who is my Tribe, I felt it necessary to share this raw and inspiring story from one of my Pink Ladies, Katie, as it provides a beautiful testimony as to the characters of those in my Tribe.

Katie is one of those rare women who can take the worst situation and find the gem in its midst. Life happens to us all, and I know this girl has had a lot of lemons thrown her way lately. Yet having survived what some may say is the hardest battle of all — the battle for your own life — Katie persists with a smile on her face and overwhelming love in her heart. No matter what she is going through in her personal life, she makes time to check in on those she loves and be available for a chat or hug. For someone who could very easily choose to be selfish and focus on her own struggles, Katie will not allow anyone to feel sadness and pain alone. She is the very definition of a servant heart.

As I read through her inspiring testimony for the 65,245,897th time, I marvel at the determined, persistent, and optimistic woman I have in my Tribe. I could not be more humbled to have Katie call me her friend in return.

Please read her inspiring story here. (This story was originally submitted to Love What Matters by Katie Hess.

I love you, Katie, and all that you symbolize — you are more than my friend, you are a role model.

Defining My Tribe

A local winery owner I know launched a women’s group back in February called Women Among Women. I’ve attended a few of the monthly meet-ups and have loved participating every single time. The group is more than simply networking, and focuses on topics decided upon by the attendees. Sometimes there may be a guest speaker, but more often the attendees have an open discussion on the specific topic of the evening. Topics have included goal setting, switching careers, and getting over life’s missteps gracefully. The women who attend are students, entrepreneurs, managers, mothers, spouses, volunteers, and so much more. It is a warm and inviting environment where each woman can connect with one another, share their personal experiences, and learn.

I met an awesome hustler a few months ago through this group. This woman began a podcast last year which has become a weekly delight for me to listen to on Wednesdays while I go about my work. The podcast, Hustlin’ In Heels, gets “real about struggles and celebrations of being a modern-day badass babe.” Basically, it’s a podcast Uncorking Peonies can get behind (and I definitely encourage anyone reading to give it a listen!)

Last week’s installment was all about building your tribe. The co-hosts talked about how they define a tribe, who they invite into their tribe, and what being in a tribe means. Their discussion got me thinking about how my tribe is continuously growing and evolving, and how I got to be in the various tribes I now find myself. Thus, I figured I’d focus my “annual Thanksgiving post” on my blessing of friendship and tribe.

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Add Another Candle

I am now 27-years-old. Another candle is being added to my cake and I could not be happier. So many people dread the aging process and are “forever 29,” but I relish what each new year brings to my life. Every year I am taking another step in the direction God is leading me to go.

It has become a tradition with my blog to post on my birthday about my life and what has changed over the course of one year. I began this tradition in 2014 when I turned 23 in “The Life of a Twenty-Something” and talked about myself growing up. Then in 2015 I discussed finding my faith again in “The Year I Grew Up” and how life had changed so drastically in one year. Then in 2016 I wrote letters to my younger selves giving advice on how I would do things differently. This year, however, I want to focus on my future…

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