2017 Year In Review

I can’t believe another year end is upon us! This year has been a year of highs as well as a year of lows. Without further ado, here’s the 2017 wrap up!



  • Jan 21: Moving Day! After what seemed like the longest process ever, we FINALLY moved to our dream home and ranch! I still can’t believe it’s ours when I wake up every morning!
  • Jan 30: Filed LLC paperwork to open Black Dog Stables. Never in a million years did I imagine we would have our own business! It is so amazing to have the ranch and to be able to work with horses!



  • Feb 5: Superbowl Party. Our first get-together in our new home! Mike made ribs and we had an absolute blast!16826115_10155001342098895_8754661430342286694_o
  • Feb 18: Jeremy & Mary Ann’s wedding. I practically grew up with Jeremy, so it was wonderful to watch him find his true love and to marry her!



  • Mar 4: New chicks & ducks. We lost several chickens this year IMG_8313to old age and heat. I got a new batch of chicks and decided to give ducks a try. Enter Quackers and Cheese! They’re disgusting animals, but the duck eggs are absolutely amazing!



  • Apr 6: Shadow diagnosed with cancer. My little old man started showing signs of not feeling well in early April. We took him to the vet and found out he had cancer. We ran some tests to prep for surgery and discovered that it had wrapped itself around several organs and was inoperable. We brought him home to spend his last days in peace.032_edited-1
  • Apr 14: Shadow passes away. On one of the first beautiful days after a week or so of rain, Shadow went out, laid down by the pool in a patch of sunshine, and passed away in peace.




  • May 6: Run for Rory. I am beyond proud of my stepdaughter, Kayla. Her friend Rory committed suicide and Kayla organized a run that benefited the local suicide prevention group. It was a beautiful day and so good to see a large turn out!
  • May 7: Jenny joins the family! In what can only be described as God’s plan, little miss Jenny started hanging around Mike’s fire station. She was clearly a stray and we decided to make her ours! In a twist of fate, we found out that day that she was pregnant!
  • May 13: Kennedy Mine Tour. For Mother’s Day, we headed out to the local mine for a tour. It was absolutely amazing to see and to learn all about the history!



  • Jun 7: Seven puppies!!! The puppies were born just four short weeks after Jenny joined the family. It was absolutely an amazing thing to watch and Jenny is such a good mama! Little Tritip was the first born and I fell in love almost instantly!
  • Jun 24: Guild tea party. My mama is a fantastic quilter and a member of a guild. They had a tea party that also raised money for the guild and my sister and I joined her. It was so much fun and I can’t wait for next year’s event!
  • Jun 26: My “puppy shower”. My sister and best friends tricked me into thinking we were just having lunch, but it turns out they threw me a puppy shower! Everyone brought gifts for Jenny and it was absolutely the sweetest thing ever!



  • Jul 1: Mom’s Surprise 60th birthday party. We pulled off an epic surprise – a surprise “diamond jubilee” 60th birthday party for my mama! We held it at the ranch and had her friends from all over join in the fun! There was music and even riding the blow-up bull in the pool!IMG_3008
  • Jul 24: Tari joins the family! We own a horse ranch, so of course we were going to end up owning more than one horse! Tari joined the family and is retired. She gets to be ridden once in a while but mostly gets to hang out in the pasture with her friends and just be a horse!



  • Aug 5: Jamie’s baby shower. My good friend Jamie was expecting her first little one and her shower was amazing!
  • Aug 7: Epic dog collision. A game of ball turned into an epic mess. Jenny needed 7 stitches and knocked a tooth through her lip, while Brady broke a canine tooth in half.
  • Aug 10: Brady’s surgery. After the collision, poor Brady had to have his canine tooth removed.
  • Aug 15: Lady Gaga concert. I won tickets to the company suite at work – Lady Gaga was absolutely amazing!
  • Aug 19-26: Lake Almanor aka “Tippy’s Big Adventure”. Normally Brady would go IMG_8940with me, but he was recovering from surgery, so I decided to introduce Tritip to Lake Almanor! He was a mere 8 weeks old, but had a blast – he went for his first swims, rode in the boat, and did really well!



  • Sept 1: Jenny gets spayed. As much fun as the puppies were, it’s not something I wanted to undertake again, so little miss Jenny had to get spayed. She did really well!
  • Sept 15-17: Cabin trip. I loaded up the horse trailer and headed out for a great weekend of riding with my friends – it was amazing!IMG_8980
  • Sept 19: Mike promoted. I am beyond proud of my hubby – this year he was promoted to Division Chief! I had the honor of pinning him – so very proud!



  • Oct 14: Juliette’s 3rd birthday. My sister knows how to throw a party and Juliette’s Paw Patrol birthday was no exception!
  • Oct 20: Preston Castle Haunt. I went with my sister in law Nicki and her friend Lori to the Haunt – it was so much fun!
  • Oct 22: 6 Year Anniversary. Time flies while you’re having fun! We took our anniversary trip a little later this year, but spent some time together on our special day!


  • Nov 2: Nate pinned as a battalion chief. I’m so proud of my brother in law who was promoted to Battalion Chief this year!


  • Nov 10 – 14: Chicago anniversary “roadtrip”. We spent 5 days in Chicago and had a blast! While we were there, we went to the Shedd Aquarium, caught a Chicago Bears game, visited the “bean”, and stood on the glass in the Willis tower!
  • IMG_3772Nov 20: Oma passes away. After a hearbreakingly long battle with Alzheimers, my sweet Oma passed away. It was difficult, but I had a few days to go visit with her before she died and I’m so thankful for that!
  • Nov 26: Seahawks vs. 49ers game. As a surprise birthday present for Mike, I snagged us tickets to see the 49ers play the Seahawks at Levi stadium. Our good friends Sean and Erin came along with us – we had a really wonderful time!


  • Dec 1: Oma’s funeral. It was a beautiful day to lay my Oma to rest with my Opa. 25440003_10108098813654360_5736622663435040773_o
  • Dec 16: Chloe’s 5th birthday party. This sweet little girl had the best princess birthday party!
  • Dec 24: Christmas with the Blankenheims. We had a great Christmas at my in-laws!
  • Dec 25: Christmas with the Smithsons & Barcklays. It was a wonderful Christmas at my parents house!
  • Dec 27: Tritip gets snipped. Keep him from running, jumping, and rough housing, they said. Yeah, right.

In Memorium: Cory Iverson

I have struggled about what to write in this post for the last few days. I can’t do what I’m feeling justice with words, but I’m going to try.

You see, on Friday, a CalFire firefighter died battling the Thomas Fire in Southern California. His name was Cory Iverson and he was 32 years old. He leaves behind a wife, Ashley, a daughter, Evie, and his wife is pregnant with their second little girl. When I heard the news, it was like a kick to the stomach. It literally took my breath away. I called my husband (who had just come off a different fire) to see if it was someone we knew.

This is every fire wife’s worst nightmare. We send them off to far away fires, and most of the time they return home, tired, hungry, and a little smokey. But sometimes (thankfully very rarely) they don’t make it home. We try not to think about it because we’d never make it through the day if we did, but when it happens, we sit in our car and cry silent tears. Tears of sadness for the mother, the sister, the child who’s hero isn’t coming home. Tears of relief that it wasn’t ours this time. We get home and we hug our husband a little bit tighter.

When I married my husband, I was blown away at just how strong the fire family is. It’s not only a brotherhood of firefighters, but a ridiculously strong sisterhood of fire wives. We don’t know the Iversons personally, but I want to help Ashley, yet feel completely helpless. So, I’m asking you, my friends and family, to help me help Ashley. There are two things I need everyone to do:

  1. If you can, please donate to the Go Fund Me set up for Ashley and her family. Large or small, your donation will make a difference!
  2. Please share the Go Fund Me (or this blog post) with your friends.

Many streams make mighty rivers! Thank you so much for your help!

In Memorium: Gertrud Burtscher

Today the world lost a wonderful woman. Gertrud Burtscher was my Oma (that’s German for grandmother). She had battled Alzheimer’s disease for a very long time and the last few years were difficult. We were blessed to be able to visit with her last week to spend some time with her and to say our goodbyes.


I will forever remember her amazing cooking, her beautiful garden, her love for her family, and her stunning blue eyes. Rest in peace, my Oma.




Puppy Update!

I’ve had a ton of people ask me what’s going on with the puppies, so I thought I’d get pictures from all of their new owners and share! They’re not exactly little puppies anymore – they’re 5 months old now and everyone is doing really well! They’re all super smart, crate trained, and finding new ways to be adorable! Tritip might be the smallest (at about 35 pounds) and Ike might be the biggest (pushing 45 pounds)!

First off, Tritip. Yup, you’ve probably seen a thousand pictures of this little bugger by now!



Next up, Ike! He’s with my friend Megan, her hubby Matt, and their adorable Boston terrier, Roxy!


Then we have little Ryder. He with home with my friend Angel, her husband Dan, and their three sweet kids! This little boy is so loved by his kids! He was our blue-eyed chocolate lab, whose eyes have now changed color but are as stunning as ever!



Next up, Blitz! He went home with my sister in law, brother in law, and niece. He’s fitting right it with big dog-sisters Ruby and Molly! He even came over to spend the night and reunite with Tritip… it was a blast!



Now, onto our sweet girl, Zeva. She went home with our friends Ashley and John… and is doing very well with her big sister Mia! Something in her eyes totally reminds me of Jenny!



Next, Toby. He went home with my friend Sharon, her husband, and their sweet little boys.



Last, but not least, we have Harrie. You may recall that at one point Harrie was actually called Rebel. He went home with my friend Sarah from work who has fallen completely and utterly in love with him!



Mental Health

My heart weighs heavy with thoughts of the terrible mass killing in Las Vegas this week. I’m still working on my 49 Random Acts of Kindness in honor of the Orlando Pulse nightclub shootings.

As always, the media and social media are quick to blame gun laws, asking for stricter rules and changes to the Constitution. It may not be a popular opinion, but I honestly think the issue is not about the number of guns the man owned. Did he need 42 firearms? I don’t think it matters. Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols used a rented truck and fertilizer-based bombs to kill 168. More and more we hear about people driving cars into crowds. Heck, September 11th was accomplished with box cutters. My point is that if someone wants to kill, they will find a way.

Yes, I know that access to guns may allow a person to kill more people, but the real issue, in my opinion, is mental health. We don’t do nearly enough in this country to help identify mental health issues and then to take care of them. I’m not talking about lock them away in some institution, but really help. There is still such a stigma around mental health issues that I think people are afraid to seek help. And I think that we are terrible at identifying them until it’s too late. We always hear “they were so nice” or “we never saw it coming”.

I don’t have an easy answer. I’m afraid that by focusing on taking away guns, we won’t focus on the real issue – what it is inside a person that allows them to think “I am going to kill people today”. I just know that all killers have one thing in common – something that is not a weapon. They have some sort of mental issue. And until we take care of that, I’m afraid we’re going to continue to see killings like those in Las Vegas.


Thoughts on Whole30

Just like that, my first Whole30 experience is over. I am so amazed at what this process has taught me. Here are a few of the things I’ve learned:

  • I actually like healthy food! Who knew Brussels sprouts could be yummy?
  • Until now, I was eating WAY too much sugar.
  • I’ve learned to pay better attention to labels. Is there any reason my blueberry Eggo waffles should have black carrot juice in them?
  • I don’t need Diet Coke nearly as much as I thought I did.
  • Real, restful sleep is amazing. So is not having the 2pm slump.
  • I’m a car snacker, especially on the way home from work. I don’t need to be.

I highly recommend this process to anyone looking to “reset” not only how they eat, but their relationship with food. I had two eye opening experiences – I came down with a cold at the end and when I took my first shot of DayQuil (I’ve always liked the liquid because it coats your throat and just feels like it’s working), all I could taste was sugar. Same thing when I had half a glass of Sprite with lunch – sugar.

Don’t get me wrong… I had a bowl of ice cream and it was wonderful. But I am going to be more mindful about what I eat and when I eat it. I plan on making decisions on when I choose to eat carbs and sugar, not assuming that every meal should include them.

Was it easy? Absolutely not. Was it worth it? For sure!!!

Whole 30 Taco Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing

I promised to share any delicious recipes I found, and I sure am finding some yummy ones! Something that has been really neat about this process is discovering how easy it is to make some of our favorite things. Mayonnaise, for example.

Last night, in honor of taco Tuesday, we had taco salad for dinner. I found the recipe for the taco seasoning at Our Paleo Life and the recipe for the cilantro lime dressing at Stupid Easy Paleo. In about 1/2 an hour, we had the delicious creation below!!!