Tuesday, April 15, 2014

House Plans

We are officially in dream house-planning, architect-talking, site-investigating, contractor-vetting, well-testing, power pole-moving, view-deciding, MODE.

We have a plan we really like, but have some changes we would like to see to make it more functional for our lifestyle (and budget). After reviewing hundreds (thousands?) of house plans, the Amicalola Cottage is closest to what we want - but clearly with some changes. The photos they show - though gorgeous, with that level of detail are probably out of our price range! Dream big, right?

Some notes...
  • Dining area moved to back of the house. Possibly place in the "Screened Porch" area.
  • Combine Laundry/Mud room into one large room with quite a bit of storage. Change nearby Powder Room to include a shower stall. This area needs to be functional for the farming/hunting aspect of our lives so we  Chad can be clean before entering the rest of the home. 
  • Oversized doors the outside (for accessibility). 
  • Lodge Room size needs to be increased substantially. Possibly take square footage from Dining/Screened Porch and try to incorporate there?
  • Remove "Jack & Jill" aspect of Bathroom #2.
  • Ensure garage is oversized for some storage, but to also allow for large vehicles.
  • Bonus room above garage unfinished - potential storage and/or bedroom if needed.
  • Partial basement - square footage undetermined. We are thinking a large "Game/Hangout" room, storage room, heating/cooling/access, and a bathroom. May be unfinished for a while.
  • High ceilings are on Chad's "wishlist".
  • We'd like to stay around 3000 square feet on the main floor.
  • Master Bath can be smaller, but we like the walk-through shower with multiple shower heads. Neither of us use the bathtub very often, so its role could be lessened.
  • I think there is a bar off the Study, that is unnecessary.
Anyone dying to share their home building tips or suggestions? We are open to all ideas, but we can't promise we'll incorporate them. We want to make sure the "bones" of the house are at the level we want, and we may have to use lesser-quality materials in other areas (countertops, flooring,etc.) for the time being, until we can save the money to put in the fixtures we really want, like granite and hardwoods. For all you naysayers out there who tell me we "will never do it" - you've clearly never been involved on a project with us. We'll do it.

In the end, we will be the ones living there and it needs to work for us. I can promise you that we are fully aware there will be things we will wish we would have changed once we move in, but that is all part of the process. If you've been there, done that - or wanted to - or thought about it - or remodeled - or just have a suggestion - let us know!

P.S. If you haven't seen our property with its incredible panoramic views and are in the area - give one of us a jingle and we'll take you up there. It is kind of amazing and we are excited to be closer to being out there in a more permanent way.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

March BirchBox

Beauty Protector Protect & Detangle
As soon as I opened my March BirchBox, I was greeted by this wonderful musky smell - and it was coming from the Protect & Detangle. I have pretty long, decently thick hair and though I don't always use a detangler, I think I might just start. I really like the spray bottle application and it makes combing my wet hair out much easier. Did I also mention I really like the smell?

Coola Tinted Matte SPF 30 for Face
I really thought I was going to love this. I use a BB cream as a foundation under a powder finish, so this seemed right up my alley. It's got SPF 30, which is awesome - but I didn't think the coverage was as good as the BB cream I currently use. The color was a bit off of my skin tone as well. The texture was kind of like a mousse, which I liked because it seemed to sit well on my skin. Does that make sense? I'm going to have to try it a few more times before I decide.

Gilchrist & Soames London Collection Body Lotion
I can never have too much body lotion, but this was just kind of "meh". I've used the Gilchrist & Soames body products a few times while traveling - they were in the hotels and they are pretty nice for hotel samples. However, I think the texture is a little runny and it's just kind of boring.

Harvey Prince Cherie Blossom
I'm pretty sure the last time I purchased perfume for myself (other than when we were in Paris) was in high school. I still have it too! I guess that tells you how often I wear perfume. That's kind of the purpose of the BirchBox though - to branch out and try new things! The scent of this perfume isn't overwhelming or too strong, which is a positive in my book. I haven't had any compliments on how great I smell when I wear it though!

Tea Forte minteas
I don't "do" caffeine or energy boosting products, so this was a bust. I gave them to Chad. I think the package exploded when he tried to open the container. Packaging, fail. Once open, the mints looked funny too. Strange coloring and shape - not at all appetizing.

Ghirardelli Cherry Tango Square
I love most things chocolate. I'm not usually a fan of nuts in my chocolate, but this had just a tiny bit of almond and cherry mixed in with dark chocolate. Pretty yummy!

Favorite Item: Detangler
Least Favorite Item: Mints

Sunday, March 23, 2014

February Rewind

Our second time out on the sleds was much more "snowy" than the first. There wasn't near the amount of snow on the ground as normal, but it snowed all morning - we had to keep moving to stay warm! We ended up going twice in February and had a lot of fun. The season ended on a not-so-good note when Chad's sled broke down after hitting a big rock. We were quite a distance from the trailers, but we made it back without too much trouble.
The wind was blowing like crazy up top, so we took cover in the trees for a bit.

I especially liked the "Fire Activity" sign - but it does show you the very low snow level.

Snowmobile Selfie: Tiffany & Chad
Chad putting on some dry clothes after a day of riding. "Beast Mode" - as he would say :)

February sledding - this shelf is usually filled in with snow by now. We saw a kid take his sled off the drop into the rocks (on purpose) - crazy!
Snow Days!
With what little snow we did have around the house - we made the best of it with a giant snow man. We tried to get him closer to the road, but the two of us couldn't push him any more. Then, we made the second piece so big, we couldn't lift it off the ground. With a lot of effort and some rebuilding of the second and third pieces, we finally got our snowman put together - complete with antlers. Of course. Roscoe also enjoyed the snow - he thinks writing his name in it is especially fun :)
Valentine's Day
We didn't do anything too exciting or romantic for Valentine's Day, but we did go to a surprise birthday party for Brandon at Raul's Bar that evening. The next day we celebrated with our neighbors/landlords, Dub & Shagay as they celebrated their 40th Wedding Anniversary! They are great friends and we are so lucky to have found them! 

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Banquet
We coerced our friends Justin & Courtney to come over to Ontario for the RMEF Banquet and I was thisclose to winning a pair of binoculars. Alas, someone else from Nyssa was the lucky winner. We did come home with a few goodies - a certificate for a beetle-cleaned elk skull, a snow-camouflage wild rag, a set of knives, and a RMEF shirt. We also had a delicious dinner and got to see lots of friends - even family! Dad and Jana were there and we all attempted to keep him from getting into trouble (no luck). "How's the duck hunting?" After the dinner, Justin & Courtney went to Fiesta Guadalajara with us and we splurged on fried ice cream and drinks! Best part of the night! 

Sunset Lanes - Grandma Nellie's Birthday
We celebrated Chad's grandma's birthday at Sunset Lanes with quite a few family members. Chance and Caitlin joined in as well as Chad's Aunt Cheryl, Uncle Butch, Cousin Dakota and his wife Christy. I'm usually not very good - lucky if I break 100, but for some reason, I bowled the game of my life our first round. 156! I had the high score of the night and was very impressed with myself - even had a Turkey (three strikes) in the first three frames. You can't tell - because Chad gave us all nicknames, but I am #3 "SL". I'll let you figure out what it stands for. :) We had a really fun time out with the family!

Shed Hunting
Chad and I don't know much about shed hunting. The only shed antlers we have found in the past are the ones we almost step on. After seeing a lot of people on Facebook having success finding all sorts of shed antlers, we decided to give it a go! We set out on the four-wheeler and then dropped off on a few mile hike. We decided if we found ONE antler, it would be a successful trip. About five minutes into the hike we not only found a nice four-point shed horn, but we found about forty deer and two antelope. Success! We continued to hike and ended up finding several other older shed antlers - including two sets. We were pretty excited! Now, we need to find some of those brown horns

Courtney's Birthday
We had a pretty busy month and packed a lot into those 28 days! We topped it off with a dinner at Justin & Courtney's house, which happened to be on Courtney's birthday! Justin cooked for us as we celebrated Courtney and her big birthday. Happy birthday, friend!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Birch Box: February

My sweet friend McKenzie gifted me a subscription to BirchBox for my birthday this year and I am beyond excited about it! I feel like I always describe McKenzie as my "sweet friend" - but that is because she truly is one of those people who is nice. She has such a good heart and I think the world would be a better place if there were more people like her. I am grateful to have her as a friend. Enough of the mushy stuff though - I'm in love with my BirchBoxes.
Here's what came in my February BirchBox...

Agave Healing Oil Treatment
This left my hair a little more oily than I would like - however, it was also very soft and I am sure it was beneficial to my oft-heat treated hair. I just don't like the oily look/feel on my hair.

Dr. Lipp Original Nipple Balm for Lips
Who doesn't love an extra balm/chapstick to throw in a purse, desk, vehicle, etc.? The Nipple Balm for Lips works really well and it makes Chad laugh every time I use it.

Eyeko Skinny Liquid Eyeliner
I love a good black eyeliner and I think Eyeko hit the mark. The application was easy - the liquid dried quickly and it had great wearability. No smudges or flakes on my face throughout the day. I just wish it was a bigger sample. Something I might buy in full size!

Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser
This was a really nice, large size sample of face wash with a cloth cleanser included. I haven't noticed any drastic changes in my face since I have used it a few times, but no complaints either!

Ahmad Tea London Assorted Teas
I don't drink tea, so these went in the cupboard. Maybe Chad will use them? 

Favorite Item: Eyeliner
Least Favorite Item: Tea

Monday, March 17, 2014

Famous! Kind of...

Oh, heyyy. If you're in the produce world, you might see a familiar face when checking out the Midwest Produce Conference & Expo promotional materials. That blonde girl on the website and in the print advertisements is Snake River Produce's very own Tiffany! That's me - in case you didn't know ;)

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Spring Brandings

I love the changing seasons we have in this area and each season brings something new. One of my favorite parts about spring is the brandings. Getting up on a horse and hanging out with friends and family in the crisp spring weather is one of the things I look forward to most during the year. It's no secret I love horses and having the opportunity to rope at brandings, but even working the ground crew is better than not being there at all! Like Winston Churchill once said, “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.” 

Since I never got around to posting any photos from 2013 brandings, here's a peak of what we have to look forward to in 2014!  


Tuesday, March 4, 2014


April 4, 2014 was my first due date. Probably news to most of the people reading this. Let me explain. 

I am a planner. I try to stay organized and when Chad and I want to accomplish something - we plan for it. So, when we decided we wanted to jump on the baby bandwagon, we planned. Together, we thought spring would be the best time to have a baby - it would be after my busy season and right at the end of school so we would both have plenty of time at home with a new baby. Chad also mentioned that most animal babies are born in the spring, so it only made sense. Typical Chad theory. He didn't like the idea of a summer baby, because he had his birthday in the summer and it "sucked" as a kid and he said he was always on the fence - too young for one group and too old for another. Obviously, he didn't like the idea of a fall baby, because of hunting season. And, he thought it would be a lot around the holidays. Spring it was!

I stopped taking birth control in January 2013. I bought the book, and got the app. We are both young and (for the most part) healthy, so we started trying to get pregnant this past summer. Late July, we found out we were expecting. We were over the moon excited. I informed Chad that this was our little secret because "things happen and many women experience miscarriages and you never know... blah blah blah". No matter how much you plan, you can never prepare yourself for a miscarriage.

In August, I experienced some bleeding. I was freaked out - and so was Chad. I called my OB/GYN and they did a series of "quant" blood tests and doctor appointments. If you are not fluent in this type of speak - there is a hormone  present in pregnant women called HCG. It's the hormone that makes the second line turn pink on the home pregnancy tests. In the first trimester or so, it is supposed to double every 24-48 hours. Test, get results. Test again, compare results. Test again, compare results. Mine were on the rise - doubling, tripling even. I was still not at ease, but it settled my heart a bit.

At six weeks, I went in for an ultrasound. My mom went in with me - as Chad was out of town. Everything looked normal - as good as it could look so early. We even got to see a little flutter of a heartbeat on the screen. Huge sigh of relief. My next appointment was set for ten weeks. We went on and everything was going great, I was feeling good for the most part and we didn't have any problems.
September 4th (10 weeks) came and I was an excited, but nervous wreck. Chad and I showed up to the appointment and when the ultrasound tech couldn't find a heartbeat, I knew something was wrong. She confirmed that I had experienced what is called a missed miscarriage. The pregnancy had not progressed past six weeks, but my body had not recognized it was not still pregnant. I was a mess - devastated, confused, angry, ashamed, you name it - if it is bad, I was probably feeling it. Heartbroken, really.

I had two options - schedule a D&C or wait it out. I thought on it over night. After hearing horror stories of people who had waited for the miscarriage to pass naturally, I called and was able to get in for surgery that Friday. I wanted to move forward. Filling out my medical history and going over the procedure with the nurse checking me in the day before my surgery was so uncomfortable. I didn't want to be there, I just wanted a healthy pregnancy. When she asked the reasoning for the D&C, I thought she had to be kidding. I was a mess, how could she not know? Shouldn't that be on the form? Did she really think that there was a possibility that I was getting an abortion - that was too much for me.

Mom and Chad were there with me at the hospital on Friday. It was horrible - sitting in the waiting room making small talk knowing what I was in store for. At risk of being called a crazy person, I kept thinking - maybe I am still pregnant, maybe they are wrong. I knew in my heart, but I didn't want it to be right. They made me take my wedding ring off before going into surgery and that bothered me very much. I can remember waking up shaking and sobbing in the recovery room. It was horrible. Thank goodness for the nurse. Seriously though, that woman was a God-send. The next few weeks were HELL. Not only was I going through physical pain, but I was too stubborn to just let myself heal (somewhat) emotionally. Nope, I was going to get moving and stay busy when I probably should have just stayed home and cried it out.

So now, I am one in four. That's what they call it these days. Apparently one in four women will experience a miscarriage. And that doesn't even touch the number of women dealing with other infertility issues. I am a member of a club that is fiercely private for the most part. Why is that? If one in four women go through this, why isn't it talked about? Why is miscarriage so guarded and private? Why was I so horrified to have to tell my boss that I needed the day off to go have a D&C? He was totally supportive, by the way.

Something is wrong with society here, I wanted someone to talk to and luckily I had that in a few close family members and friends. What about people who don't? I felt like a shadow of my former self - and sometimes still do. Going through the motions, putting on the happy face. Fake it 'til you make it, right? Miscarriage is a huge loss - that baby created in love was now gone and it should be okay to grieve, not plaster a smile on your face and pretend in front of your friends and family that nothing happened.

And then there are the pregnant people. They are everywhere at my age. I had to stay off Facebook for a chunk of time because so many of my friends were/are expecting and that was just too much to handle. Why me? Why can't I have a healthy, boring, normal pregnancy? I have had plenty of "poor me"  and "that should be me, too" moments during these trials. And you know what, I am okay with that. It's not just something you "get over". It's a huge loss. Period.

On top of the wild and unpredictable emotions, I had to deal with people asking me when I am going to have kids. I don't know. Honestly, I don't know. That is something that is completely out of my control - as I have fully realized. Chad keeps telling me that "everything happens for a reason" and I keep telling him that is a bunch of bullshit. Seriously though, that does not make me feel any better. He knows that - and several months later, it is kind of a joke in our house when something bad happens, "everything happens for a reason" pops out of one of our mouths.

Anyway, my point is here - don't ask people when they are going to have kids. It's actually none of your business and unless they volunteer the information, it's rude to ask. You have no idea what they might be going through (or have gone through). Clearly, there are exceptions to this, but honestly - random people I see once or twice a year think it is okay to ask me those types of questions. I don't ask about your sex life or reproductive organs. Keep your nose out of mine. It's frustrating, and sad, and a reminder that I'm not pregnant and having that baby that was supposed to be. Sidenote - if you are a friend - those rules may not apply to you. If you need someone to talk to about these types of issues and want to chat with me, I am open and available.

After the D&C, I had a follow up appointment with my doctor and he explained that everything went normal. Everything looked normal physically, and the test results came back normal on the D&C. Sometimes these things happen and we don't know why. We talked about the statistics of pregnancy and miscarriage and a number of other things. Miscarriages happen for a variety of reasons and we almost always never know exactly why. Apparently, my chances of having a miscarriage the second time around were exactly the same as if I had never gotten pregnant. He made a few suggestions with regard to vitamins and supplements and recommended two to three normal cycles before attempting to get pregnant again for physical and emotional healing. I was on board with that and we were busy trying to sell our house, traveling for work, and hunting season - of course.

Chad worked hard to keep me busy and out of the darkness that was my own personal pity party (for which I am very grateful). Mom, Alisha, and my sweet friend McKenzie helped keep me going with positive vibes, food, funny messages, and simply checking in on me (even though sometimes I felt like they were all in cahoots - taking turns making sure I didn't need to be put in a padded room). Joking, kind of.

I have had my fair share of meltdowns. At a September wedding, one of Chad's fraternity brothers' wives wasn't drinking and they mentioned they were trying to get pregnant. As I downed glass after glass of champagne and wine, she talked to me about their situation and I was probably the most awkward person ever. I pretty much listened, nodded, and drank (probably not the best idea for someone who hadn't drank for several months). And tried not to have a public meltdown. I cried the entire drive home. Like, ugly cry.

Two of my very good friends told me they were expecting within a week of my D&C. Their due dates are also in April. It was hard to be excited for them as I held back the tears. I tried, but I don't really think I pulled it off. I am happy for them, but sad for me. I bawled at my desk after receiving one phone call and had to bite my tongue (literally) when I received the news of another just three days after my D&C. It's complicated. I cried. A lot. In the shower, in bed, at my desk, in the car. Anything and nothing could set me off. Until you have been in this situation, you have no idea - and I hope you never are in this situation. I still cry.

Fast forward a few months to December and we were ready to give it another go. Well, I was ready to give it another go. Chad was apprehensive for multiple reasons - including the fact that if we did get pregnant in December, the baby would be due over Labor Day Weekend. That is Chad's favorite hunting weekend. I wasn't too concerned because I didn't really think we'd get pregnant right away anyway, but I jokingly told Chad if we did get pregnant, I'd consider "Hunter BowTech" as a name. Obviously, joking.

Well, wouldn't you know, during the move and the house sale and all the drama, we managed to make it happen. I had a dream a couple weeks into the month of two giant pink lines. I knew I was pregnant, but waited it out before taking a home test. I should have known by Christmas and so I took a test that morning. Surprise! We were expecting and I really felt like things were going to turn around for us. Due September 5, 2014, I was positive, excited, and ready to kick some pregnancy ass. We had sold our house, moved into our rental, and were expecting - again. Things were looking up.
A week went by and we went to dinner with some friends and stopped by the Elk's Lodge for New Years' Eve. As the night went on, I didn't feel well and wanted to go home, because I knew. Five weeks in and I knew it was over. Again. I prayed myself to sleep that night just hoping I was wrong. The next morning I started bleeding. What a way to start the new year. I really thought 2014 was going to be my year, but instead it started out with heartbreak. I know the "new year" is kind of arbitrary, but to me, it was a clean slate. A fresh beginning. To be quite honest, 2014 started out pretty shitty.

I skipped work the rest of the week to wallow in my depressing hole, lied to my neighbors about having the flu, and spoke with my OB/GYN to schedule a series of tests to see if we could find answers. From what I have read (because you know I have been researching in books and online), most doctors won't even run these types of tests until you have had three miscarriages. Long story short, the only answer we found was that I'm healthy. For that, I am grateful. We can get pregnant, but haven't been able to stay pregnant. For that, I am not.

Unexplained infertility and recurrent miscarriage is what he called it. He explained that sometimes infertility isn't just those who cannot get pregnant, but the doctor was hopeful. He had suggestions including progesterone support if we are to get pregnant again. Google luteal phase deficiency if you are curious about the reasoning behind that. No firm answers though. No magic pill to take, I asked him about some vitamins I had read about and he basically said they couldn't hurt. We also talked about statistics and the future - he told me that if I experienced another miscarriage he would be referring me to a specialist. I don't want to have a third miscarriage.

You know, you think it is going to be so easy. And for some, it is. I'm jealous of those people with their innocence and naivety. My body was made for this, and when it doesn't do what it is supposed to do, I feel broken. After reading this, a long-lost friend with similar experiences told me, "You are strong and amazing, and your body is remarkable, even if also imperfect and fragile." Never again will I ask someone why they "don't have a bun in the oven". Close friends aside, that's just not an appropriate question or conversation. And it comes up all the time. And you know, we've talked this topic to death in our house trying to find answers - but we chose to wait almost five years before giving it a go -and maybe that is our downfall. Who knows? I don't regret not trying, because I surely cannot change it now. I just wish it was easy. If it was, I'd be eight months along ready to kick onion season to the curb and have a healthy baby. But, it's not.

How do I move forward from here? My hope has to outweigh my fear, but we are different people than we were in July when we found out we were pregnant, different than in September when we found out we miscarried the first time, different than in December when we found out we were pregnant again, and most certainly different than in January when we miscarried for the second time. This was posted on a blog I occasionally read and I think it really sums up what I am feeling a lot of the time.
Now what? I don't know. This has kind of been all-consuming for us and it has been tough for both of us and even friends and family who are aware of our situation. Who knows what the future might bring, but I can tell you with certainty that we are not in control here and sometimes you just need to throw your plans to the wind and live the life in front of you.


A few blogs that have inspired me to share my experience include Northwest Nightingale, Golden Moments, and many others. The Lewis Note has an interesting post on Why Miscarriage Matters When You Are Pro Life. For a list of ways to help someone going through this (or any loss), I suggest reading Do's & Don'ts for Supporting a Grieving Loved One. And, if I were a better writer, my blog post might sound something like this article, What Not to Say to a Woman After a Miscarriage - complete with a list of things not to say - but, since she missed a few, here's another list of 10 Things You Should Never Say to a Woman Who's Had a Miscarriage.


I've been working on this blog post for a couple months - adding to it as I had time and was in the "right mood". It is mostly for me. It has been therapeutic to write it all down. I'm not looking for pity, I just wanted to get it out there. I feel a little better now that it is written. Tiffany & Chad "in real life" is not always happy and this blog is supposed to be a reflection of our lives together. So there, it's out there. Maybe my writings can help someone else.
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