Thankful for November – And All That Comes With It

I adore the month of November so much I got married in it. Lol. My sweet B and I will be celebrating 17 years of marriage this month – and we still love each other. Like a lot!

This guy is such a good dad, caring husband and all around best friend. The picture below was taken two years ago when we went to Oregon for our anniversary. Oh, how I want to go back…right now.

Thinking about how lucky I am and the approaching holiday of Thanksgiving, I decided to take on a gratitude challenge.

You may remember last year I wasn’t sure I was up for it. Well, I recently stumbled upon these cards from Proverbs 31. They’re daily prayer cards that offer a prompt for each day. Something about them felt right. Maybe it’s the timing or the topic – or both? I ordered them. And they arrived just in time for my first Thankful Thursday post of the season!

This is the complete set, which includes one colorful card for each day of the challenge.

Below is the first card in the deck to kick things off.

Day 1

Personal Reflection

I like the thought “worship puts our problems in the right perspective.” When I think about it, I probably let too many problems get blown out of proportion. There have been days when I felt so overwhelmed something simple, like one too many red lights on the way to pickup kids from school on an already tight schedule, have sent waves of anxiety through my skin. For what, really? Being a few minutes late somewhere? Will that matter in a week, a year, ten years, or more importantly in eternity? Definitely not. But the way I handle these times…the way I treat other drivers, greet my kids when they hop in the car, and view the overall stress around it? Probably does matter. There are bigger, more important things at play, here.

Today, I’m grateful for this perspective.

What were you able to get out of today’s prompt? I’d love to hear from you.

Many blessings,

Kate

PS. It’s not too late to order your own set of cards here.

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Five Highlights from 2015

As we ring in the new year, open our fresh planners, and start pushing ahead with new goals and aspirations, I decided to take a quick minute to reflect on what a blessing this year has been.

Of course it wasn’t all blissful, as I lost a friend, experienced ups and downs with work, and searched for ways to balance life with three tweens. But between the tears, questions, and touches of sass, there were some pretty special moments. In fact, here are five pretty incredible things about this past year.

{ONE} Getting our puppy, Leo

sleepy puppy

This bundle of Goldendoodle fur became an Andersen this fall. Leo Heath Andersen is his official name. His special talents include walking upright on his back legs – like a person – and finding all of our favorite socks to use as chew toys. He really is a doll, and we’ve loved getting to know him and adjusting our lives to include his sweet self.

rosie at the office

We think Rosie the Rabbit feels the same way. They don’t snuggle like something you’d see on a Hallmark card, but they’re co-habitating fairly well. Rosie loves it when Leo takes a nap. That means she gets to roam the house and help with the blog. #coffeebreak

{TWO} Visiting Oregon for our 15th wedding anniversary

K and B beach

Arborbrook Vineyard

Brandon and I officially made it to 15 years of marriage. Not that I questioned the milestone, I just can’t believe it has already been that long – and that we were able to sneak away for a long weekend together to celebrate. The stars aligned, so we hit the friendly skies and headed straight for the Oregon coast to enjoy some much-needed adult time, incredible food, and gorgeous scenery. It was such a treat and perfect way to celebrate with my best friend.

{THREE} Taking a fun summer road trip

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This summer, we packed up the truckster and hit the road for a two-week, Griswold-style family vacation. The adventure started by heading straight north to Minnesota for the Clark family reunion. (My maiden name is Clark, and this fun bunch of people are from my dad’s side of the family.) We only get together every three years, so it’s always a wild time catching up, and meeting babies and newlywed spouses. A lot can happen in three years, you know!

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emma and paul

After the reunion we ventured down to Nebraska for my niece’s wedding. It truly was a picture-perfect wedding, and we were honored to be able to share in their joy.

{FOUR} Watching my kids continue to grow into beautiful little people.

Christmas card

Life with tweens can be interesting – and entertaining. Somehow Brandon and I managed to get some really great kids with equally as sweet friends. I’ve heard the teenage years get more complicated, so I’m enjoying this phase as long as I can.

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Evan completed his first 5K this year, as well as a full season of cross country. This translates into a growing boy who eats like there’s no tomorrow. Seriously. That boy can eat. When he stands still long enough for me to get a good look at him, I’m amazed at the young man he’s becoming. He’s officially taller than I am, but still says he loves me when I drop him off for school. He can officially stop growing, now.

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The girls entered 4th grade this year and played soccer for “coach dad.” They’re super active and are starting to show an interest in swimming. So there’s hope for a few more fish in our family. These two are total peas in a pod and are always up to something creative – and stuffed-animal related. For instance, I recently found them duct-taping stuffed animals to the fan blades in their room giving free “carnival” rides. They figured out how to get up there from the top bunk bed. It’s never a dull moment with my twinsies – and I wouldn’t trade a second of my life.

{FIVE} Celebrating my first blogiversary

Blogiversary-Thank-You

I was so surprised by this sweet gesture. I might have teared up a bit. In hindsight, I probably should have showered before I had this picture taken.

I was so surprised by this sweet gesture. I might have teared up a bit. In hindsight, I probably should have showered before I had this picture taken.

This blog has been one of the most rewarding creative endeavors. I have loved meeting other bloggers, sharing my experiences, and having a space where I can feel truly comfortable with my writing – typos and all! 🙂 I’ve definitely learned quite a few things in this first year, and I’m beyond excited for the adventure ahead.

Thank you for being here with me. Here’s to an incredible new year for all of us!

-Kate

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A Lovely Oregon Adventure

K and B beach

Brandon and I just returned from an adventurous trip to Oregon to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary. We chose this area because we wanted to visit “wine country” and also dip our toes in the ocean for a bit. I love that we went this direction (instead of traditional Napa) because it was such a different and new experience for both of us!

We packed up our cozy sweaters and headed for a gorgeous getaway along the Oregon coast, as well as deep in the Willamette Valley. Now that we’re home, I thought it would be fun to share some pictures and take you along our little adventure.

Starting from the sky…

This was the view from the plane on the way to Portland. B took this picture, which was perfect timing to get Mount Hood peaking through the clouds.

Mt Hood

Once we landed, we rented a car and high-tailed it to the beach. I was taken back by how tall the evergreens were. The ground was sprawling with ferns as big as our car and every now and then you’d see pops of bright yellow from the maples that were still trying to hang on to their leaves.

oregon treesAs soon as we arrived at Cannon Beach, which was less than two hours away, we checked into Stephanie Inn. As you can see, it’s right on the water. The sky was foggy, which gave it a mysterious backdrop. Our room was on the second floor, so we had a perfect view of the Pacific.

Stephanie Inn

Ready for the view from our room? This was taken at sunset when we arrived. I felt like an ocean princess sitting on our balcony taking in this view and the salty air.

sunset on the beach

I couldn’t wait to throw on my boots and go for a walk down the beach. The sand was so compact and easy to walk on. And the views…

cannon beach sunset_rocks

If this looks strangely familiar, you might remember it from the movie The Goonies. It was filmed in this area.

So, B and I ran into a super interesting guy who was meandering along the water with his dog. He graciously took our picture. (It was windy, which is why we’re squinty and my hair is crazy. Lol.)

K and B on beach

As we got into a conversation with our photographer friend, we learned he was nearing the end of a 45-day drive from one coast to the other. He was inspired by his dad, who made the same trip more than 20 years ago. We didn’t catch his name, but we were introduced to his dog, Bernie, who was very well-mannered. (Our Leo would have sprinted off the moment he laid eyes on a seagull.)

Anyway, he was the first of many cool people we met along the way…

photographer

We woke up the next morning at 4am, not just because we were excited to get back on the beach, but also because our bodies were used to being two hours ahead! I love this picture of my sweet B drinking his coffee.

Brandon in his happy place

The daylight brought with it some interesting treasures along our walk, such as sand dollars, washed up jellyfish and all kinds of shells.

shells on beach

I couldn’t figure out what made all of the squiggle marks in the sand. This jellyfish was larger than my head. I should have dropped a penny next to it for scale. Trust me, it was huge.

jellyfish

Look at this sweet seagull chillin’ in the morning sunshine. I wanted to just perch next to him for the day.

Seagull at Cannon Beach

Oh, I also spotted this cute little fella. He was hopping around the property of the hotel nibbling on herbs from their garden. I swear he had to be someone’s pet. Look how tame he was!

Kate and bunny

When it came to food, we decided to splurge. We also tried to eat things native to the region, which were all kinds of berries, nuts and seafood.

I snapped this picture of a hazelnut grove along the way. I’ve never seen this before!

Hazelnut trees

Back to our hotel…the restaurant was led by Executive Chef Aaron Bedard. He served up a meal that could have broken records. It was pretty much the best pecan-crusted salmon that has ever touched my lips. I can say that with authority.

After dinner, we received this surprise treat at our table to celebrate our anniversary. May I introduce you to my new best friend: The Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Tart consisting of Belgian dark chocolate mousse, Oregon hazelnut crust, huckleberry compote and chocolate fudge sauce.

anniversary dessert

After our time at the beach, we headed inland for a few days. We stayed at Le Puy Inn. It was a lovely house owned by a couple, who are both architects. Every detail was in place, including complimentary wine glasses and chocolates in our room, as well as organic bath salts and candles next to the tub. It was heavenly.

le puy

We toured the Willamette Valley visiting local vineyards and wineries. This area is home to some of the best Pinot noir in the world. Apparently the area has the same latitude as the Burgundy region of France, and has a similar climate in which the finicky Pinot noir grapes thrive. Cool, right?

vineyard

There are more than 400 vineyards in this valley alone. Needless to say, we had a few options to choose from. We started off at Hawks’ View, which ended up being our favorite destination. You can see Mount Hood in the distance.

Hawk's View Vineyard

We lingered in this spot for quite some time enjoying their wine, as you can see below.

Oh, and notice the flared lip on the glasses? We discovered these are designed specifically for a Pinot noir. It delivers the wine closer to the middle of the palate, which allows you to better experience the flavors. We felt so smart learning that.

Hawk's View wine glasses

The day was simply gorgeous. We had sunny skies and didn’t even need jackets. We kept hearing how this was going to be the last sunny day in the area until next year.

Arborbrook Vineyard

We woke up to this scene the very next day. It was a breathtaking rainbow over the valley. It also meant rain was on the way. It didn’t stop until we left. Although, we came prepared. Boots and umbrellas are an Oregon staple.

Rainbow

One of the tasting rooms we picked (on day two) was called Elizabeth Chambers. They produced their wines in town and purchased their grapes from various vineyards in the area. This made it a bit different. I also loved their logo. When you have so many wineries to choose from, you start picking them like race horses – go with the look.

Elizabeth Chambers Cellar

This whole place was beautiful. It was an old power plant and is on the historic register in McMinnville. They rent it out for parties and weddings. Perfect setting for something like that for sure.

Elizabeth Chambers inside

We made time along the way to sample some craft beer and seafood chowder, which I had been craving since the moment our plane landed from Arkansas. It was delicious. I would have taken some home in my purse if it weren’t so messy.

Golden Valley beers

Our dinners in the valley were insanely good. Our first night was spent at Recipe, Neighborhood Kitchen and we hit the Dundee Bistro for our final night.

They were both highly recommended, and we understand why. You couldn’t go wrong with anything on the menu.

Recipe

That pretty much concludes our tour. B and I had such a memorable trip. I hope you enjoyed a little sample of it all. Be sure to see it in person if you ever have the chance. I’m pretty sure I’ll be going back at some point. Let’s just hope it doesn’t take another 15 years 😉

Here’s to plenty of adventures, my sweet friends!

-Kate

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