Sunday, September 26, 2010

{Personal} Home, Sweet, Home

The blog has been kinda quiet in the last couple weeks. Because I am overwhelmingly busy with wedding preparations and my varied responsibilities for friends' and family weddings in the next few weeks. AND because I am building a new photography website! So keep your eyes open for that, coming soon...

In the meantime, I'd like to share some personal joy-and-love.
My family lives on a mountain. At a place affectionately known as "Hidden Haven" (this is partially an inside joke referring to the necessity of giving all visitors very-specific directions + a reference to the complete restfulness of being on a mountain without cell-phone-reception). :) Anyway, I lived on said mountain with my parents until about 2 years ago. At that time, I purchased an adorable little house in a lovely historical town and I love it. :)

But sometimes, I confess.. I miss the mountain.

I miss the beautiful landscapes I witnessed every evening when driving home from work... the changing seasons... the mountains stretching onward as I topped another hill... the open skies. The feeling of open windows + rushing wind + the scent of crisp mountain air filling my nostrils + blinding warm sunshine on my arms. I miss the wildflowers surrounding the roadsides.. and my habit of stopping on nearly every walk to gather some beauty to bring home..

.... meandering down forest paths.. the only sounds are my feet shuffling through crunchy leaves, upon dark green moss, into meadows, down mountainsides and up to the next ridge... stopping to listen for the wildlife..

.... reveling in the saturated colors of changing seasons. Autumn's kiss of death is so gorgeous, don't you think?

.... missing my dear departed
Cooper dog always.. he's been gone for awhile. but still, every time I go home to the mountain, I expect to see him bounding through the forest or waiting expectantly for me on the front porch. Oh, the loyal love of a dog. :)

.. besides all that, I miss helping my mom garden (well, I could do without the working-part, but I like her flowers). :)

And lest you think I only love the mountain for its landscapes, I might also miss the lazy evening soaks in the hot tub under a brilliant star-filled sky.. including deep conversations with my brother or sister. funny family traditions, long laughter-filled suppers at the large kitchen table, short walks "around the trail" that generally become long hikes to another mountain. Memories, sweet times with family who are more like me than anybody else in the world...
Or maybe I'm more like them?

All I know is...
There's no place like home.

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Monday, September 20, 2010

{Personal} Welcome Home, Marine!

You might remember Matthew.

The Marine.

I've known Matthew for a loooong, long time. Since he was a little kid. He is a close friend to both of my brothers (which kinda makes him my brother, eh?). My sis was his youth leader. My dad was his boss for awhile. He spent so much time with my family over the years that I would forget that he was even there. :) Because Matthew just seemed to *fit in*. He even (no joke) spent one Family-Christmas with us on the mountain, in which we roped him into the handing-out-gifts job. hahahah, yeah, thanks for that, Matth! :D

Eight months ago, Matthew went to serve his country in a combat zone.
And by God's mercy, he came home. Matthew specifically requested to have his Welcome-Home party at my parents' house on the mountaintop.... see, I told ya he was like family!

He's not really one for liking the spotlight.. as you can tell from his face during this short-and-sweet welcome-home speech.

Yesterday was a wonderful time with him... Thanked him for serving our country. Hugged him, laughed with him, chatted with him, ate with him...

There were reminders of his fallen comrade.

It's sobering to understand that death is so near, and war is close to us. America is precious, freedom is worth fighting for.. and every veteran that fights, we love. Every one that dies in the fight, we honor. Every one that comes home, we cherish.

Welcome home.

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Thursday, September 9, 2010

{Local Life} Grange Fair

Ahhh, yes. Grange Fair.
And what is this Grange Fair, you ask?

Let me enlighten you... Grange Fair is a county fair. Sort of. It's like a county-fair-on-steroids. It's bigger and better and crazier and more unique than *your* county fair, I can guarantee. Grange Fair is a local --- maybe even a statewide-- phenomenon. It's famous for many things, but mostly for its unique tented encampments. These army-green tents are passed down through generations and the waiting list to get a tent is YEARS long.

The fact is: I'm not *really* from around here (born in Texas, y'all)... so I've never stayed in a Grange-Fair tent. Not sure I'd want to, actually... I have limited tolerance for large crowds + loud noises. And I have this strange idea that camping should be done somewhere that funnel cakes are not readily available. lol! But I usually visit the fair for one night. For a couple reasons!

#1 - Support my local 4-H friends!

Abbie is my good friend + also my second-shooter for weddings.. AND she really rocks out at raising sheep. Reserve Grand Champion 2010!

Aren't sheep a little weird-looking?

#2 Other cute animals.
Cows + bunnies + kids in cages (goat kids, that is!). :)

#3 The fair exhibits & contests!

Some exhibits are kinda disturbing... take this one, for example.

And you know me, always checking out the photography contests. Interesting.

#4 Fair FOOD! Delicious & calorific food.. Mmmmmmmmm yummy!

#5. The evening lights & sights!

Finally and most importantly, I like Grange Fair because I like my friends... everything is more fun with a group of people I care about. So whether we're munching on deep-fried food together, and critiquing an amateur singing competition, or petting animals, or watching tractor pulls, or whatever-we-do... it's always fun with friends. :)

Until 2011...
See you at the Grange!

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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

{Local Life} Cool Beans Coffee & Tea

I hesitated to write about this place for a long while. Why? Because when it comes to quirky, adorable, local coffee shops.. they're few and far between. And when one particular coffee shop is tucked out-of-sight on the main street of my historical hometown, I'd hate to see it become a (insert name of addictive coffee corporate conglomerate here) clone. ;) No chance of that though.. So I'm gonna share!

Cool Beans Coffee & Tea

Ya know the Cheers theme-song?
"Where everybody knows your name..
And they're always glad you came..."

It's true.
Well, for me, it's half-true. I frequent Cool Beans infrequently... sooo, while the cool Cool Beans staff does *not* know my name... they always are glad that I came. :) I love friendly coffee people.

Cozy spots for conversation...

Supporting other local businesses. Like myself ;)

Signs that make me smile! :)

In case you didn't catch it... "the Knotty Knitters AND BRAD."
I smile every time.

Oh yes, and did I mention that the coffee is good? And the fresh-baked goods are DElicious. I like it all...

Almond Joy is my favorite drink! Mmmmmhmmmm, yummy!
... And while I don't remember what day I consumed this scrumptious beverage, I do remember.. it was quite refreshing. :)

This is my recommendation! Go to Cool Beans. Eat, drink (coffee) and be merry!

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