Year in Review

In 2014, I Lived.

iswearilived

In 2014, I wandered.

Memphis. Philadelphia. Austin. Chicago. Des Moines.
Countless trips to Kansas City and Wichita.
From the Oregon Coast to my beloved Blue Mountains to home sweet home.
And I’m going to be ringing in the New Year down in San Antonio

My job took me to new places and on great adventures.
It also gave me the time to travel and visit those who mean the most to me.

In 2014, I celebrated.

Three of my best friends got married…within one month, and I was in all three of them.
Yah, that happened.
I became a bridal shower/bachelorette party hosting pro.
There was a speech to write, flowers to design, lots of accessories to keep track of, DJ-ing, nerves to calm, 10 different hairstyles to do and a few tears.
There was cake too, that was pretty great.

To Kyla, Leah and Richole, thank you so much for asking me to be a part your special days and, a part of your lives. You each are such vibrant, loving, beautiful women, and I am so blessed by our endless laughter and memories.

In 2014, I took big kid steps.

I might have graduated college in 2013, but since I continued to live with my college roommates for the remainder of the year I was kind of in limbo between college life and “post grad life.”

But in 2014, I made up for it.
I moved into my own place and cut 7 inches off my hair.
I fought the urge to get a puppy and settled for plants.
I bought good furniture, became a Kansas resident and a Manhattan townie.
I’ve started to cook more than ramen and pb & j sandwiches.
Heck, I don’t even think talking about budgets and retirement plans are boring anymore.

I realize I’ve barely made it past chapter one on all there is to learn,
but from where I’m sitting, this life ain’t half bad.

In 2014, I learned to enjoy this season of life.

Concerts under summer stars. A purple stadium to cheer in. Making last minute plans and random weekend adventures.
Visits from my family to Kansas and traveling home to surprise them for Thanksgiving.
I had time.
Time to think, read, explore and enjoy good wine.
Time to rediscover old hobbies and uncover new ones.
Time for successful DIY projects and failed attempts at new recipes.
It’s hard not to want to rush through toward the next bend in the road, but 2014 taught me to take a deep breath and take the time to enjoy this season, and live.

In 2014, I swear I lived.

Thanks to all who were part of a pretty fantastic year.
Looking forward to spending 2015 with you, and all that is to come.

Family, Oregon

Sister Tattoos.

So this happened yesterday.

01afb58a6a22332fd9ae41055c4e3a0dc68fd6e977

The Spoo sisters officially have matching tattoos.

Janci and I have been tossing the idea around for about a year now,
and finally agreed on what we wanted to get.

There were a few different designs that we considered. It was pretty important for us to do something fairly simple and symbolic. In the end we went with our last name in Mom’s handwriting.

This was Janci’s first tattoo and my second. My other one is on my shoulder blade and let me tell you, the pain was no where close to this the first time around. I hate to admit it, but my sister handled it quite a bit better.

010f77fcb275b971fe72485c5a727265b8f272d321

This fiesty girl below is my baby sister and best friend.
She’s smart, determined, beautiful, funny and stubborn.
Even as adults we would advise you to stay clear of our crossfire.
But now we can switch it on and off in a second, which tends to drive Mom crazy.
She loves pink, baking, cats and golf.
Most of the time we are as different as can be, but continue to surprise ourselves by how that’s not necessarily the case anymore.

We’ve spent most of our lives complaining about all of the things we’ve had to share.
But I’m not complaining anymore.
I’m sure glad that we share this tattoo Jancz,
and even more happy that I get to be your Sissy.

IMG_1171

Thoughts and Lessons Learned

The Good Stuff: Winter

To really know me, is to know that I hate winter.
Really “hate” isn’t even a harsh enough word.
I loathe, detest, despise, abhor and execrate it.

Yeah, I went there.

Sure, I might be a bit overdramatic, but at least you’re starting to get the picture
Sometimes I think it’s just because I love the other three seasons so much more, but alas, its not that simple.

I hate being cold, anything peppermint is gross and I’d rather dropkick the chipmunks than listen to them sing. I could write a whole other post just on the reasons that hate the snow, the static air drives me loony and I have this weird complex with cheesy Christmas anything. I don’t even have snow days and a true winter break to look forward too. And did I mention that I hate being cold?

Honestly, the list kind of drags on (as I’m already doing.) So if you still happen to be reading, I would like to share the things that I DO like about wintertime.
After all, that is what the title of this blog is all about.
And two months from now, being able to come back and read this list just might keep me warm enough to get me through until spring.

The Good Stuff about winter…

Wearing scarves. Starbucks #RedCupSeason Holiday Drinks. Giving presents. The smell of spices and evergreen. Basketball season. Getting cozy after being outside in the cold. Rich jewel tones. Christmas lights (NOT over done.) My Christmas traditions with Kayla and Richole. Sour dough cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning. Wrapping gifts with my mom. Fireplaces.

Irving Berlin’s movie “White Christmas”

Any Christmas music sung by Bing, Dean, Nat and Frank. They’re the exception to every terrible thing I have to say about Christmas music. And George Strait’s “Christmas Cookies.” Don’t ask me why I like it, I won’t be able to explain.

Snow…in the mountains. Or for the first five minutes, when it’s sparkly and I haven’t been out it in yet.

Making cookies with my Aunt Diane. Disney’s “Frozen”. Festival of Trees. The Christmas morning pact that I have with my sister. The yearly banter between my parents about getting the decoration out and putting them away. Celebrating a new year. Winter sunrises. Gingerbread houses. Hooded sweatshirts. Vacations to warm weather destinations (can I go back to Cabo please?)

My mom’s western Christmas decorations
IMG_20131225_131654

The bustle of the flower shop. Egg nog. A child’s excitement. Bath & Body Works Vanilla Bean Noel. Receiving Christmas card and annual letters. My Carhartt jacket. When the tree is the only light in the room. Nativity scenes. Soup. Flannel everything. My sister’s baking. College memories. Chai. Mixed popcorn tins. My uncles’ creative gift wrapping tactics. National Finals Rodeo (I’ll watch it in person someday!)

And quiet, warm moments like this.
FullSizeRender

What are your favorite things about this time of year?
Hopefully you’re not as much of a Grinch as I am!

Family

Happy Birthday Dad!

Amanda picture

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD!

Back  two years ago during one of my previous stints in blogging,
I  wrote: “12/12/12: 12 Reasons for Dad” (Go read it…now!)
It’s a pretty good snapshot of who he is, and rereading it made me laugh.

It’s easy to tell that I adore my dad.
But the thing that strikes me the most when I reread that post, is that now as a college graduate and “adult,” I see this list with new eyes. Sure my favorite things about him will probably always stay the same, but our relationship and my appreciation for who he is, seems to be growing in a new way. I have always been lucky to have a great relationship with my parents, so I don’t know if I’m alone in this, but I am kind of fascinated about “getting to know” your parents as an adult.

Over and over, I find myself laughing at habits and quirks that I inherited from him.
Some are irritating, while others are charming. Or at least that’s what we tell ourselves.
My sense of humor, selective hearing and ability to talk until the cows come home.

A strong love for gas station coffee, outlaw country music, reading and pigs.
We are outgoing introverts – we are social and comfortable,
but we definitely need time to step back and think.
We prefer to always be busy and may have an OCD tendency, or two.
I get all of that from him.

dad

But its the best things about him that I hope to be someday.
And there is so much more that I have to learn from him.
My dad values integrity, responsibility and hard work.
He is a lifelong learner, a true student of life.
When my dad looks at people he sees strengths, potential and progress.
He often ask a lot from others, but only because he offers twice as much of himself.
While so many other work to live, my dad truly lives to work.
To him, a career isn’t worth having if you aren’t passionate about it,
and to be honest I really haven’t come across many that are
more passionate about education and kids’ future as he is.

 Yah, he’s a pretty swell guy and I sure do love him.
I hope you had a wonderful day Daddy! I’ll see you in just a few days.

So There's That Series

So There’s That: Vol. 5

{Sort of like  a “Friday Five” except it’s probably not Friday and I gave up on the idea of a catchy alliteration. These are some bits and pieces of my glam #postgradlife.}

1. Thanksgiving Vacation in Oregon

I surprised my family by coming home for Thanksgiving. I was able to stay for a whole week and spent most of it just relaxing and spending time with my favorite people. Oregon had a break from the lower temps and Thanksgiving Day was warm enough that my family was able to eat dinner out on the heated patio. Yah, my grandparents live the good life.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and I was so thankful that I got to spend it with my family this year (for the first time since I moved to Kansas in 2009.) They are so patient as I do my thing out here in the Midwest. Over time I have come to realize that not everyone has this unconditional support, and for that I am eternally grateful. And I am thankful for my Kansas family. They’ve helped make this place my home and I am surrounded, in my not-so-humble opinion, by some of the greatest people around. I am thankful for this season of my life. It’s a season of constant change, challenges and more growing pains (do those ever subside?) But its also one of lots of learning, serendipity and just plain fun. There certainly is a lot going on in this world and I am thankful that so much of it is still beautiful.


2. K-State Kaiden

This story. This family. Cats man.

K-Stater’s have known about this little guy’s story for almost two years now, but ever since “Kaiden’s Play” during the 2014 Spring Game (featured below,) his story has spread. This is one of those things that makes it hard for me to understand people who don’t care for sports. Yes, I think Kaiden’s story would be just as special without K-State football, but the impact he has had on this team and it’s fans, that is what sports and family is all about. There are a lot of good articles covering this story but this one below is the most recent. Even if you aren’t a K-State fan or even a sports fan, go ahead. You will be glad that you did.

“Donors pitch in to send boy with leukemia to K-State’s bowl game”

 


3. Pinterest Cats

I’m really not a big fan of cats. But according to my Pinterest “Easily Amused” board, I sure do love a solid funny cat meme. It may or may not be from antagonizing all of my sister’s cats growing up…

And despite what she says, her current cat is well on it’s way to looking like that fat one.

(Click on the individual picture to zoom in. Links in captions.)


4. HannahBrencher.com

Been really digging what this girl has to say lately. She’s the mastermind behind The World Needs More Love Letters movement and is a true artist of words. I recommend checking her blog out.

IMG_1065
Instagram @hannahbrencher

 

5. Festival of Trees

IMG_1131

Enjoyed a fun “Ladies Night” at the Manhattan Festival of Trees with my bestie Leah. There was wine, yummy treats and lots of fun browsing and shopping. My family’s flower shop has always done a tree at our own local festival so seeing all of the creative, festive decorations was my favorite part. I’d say these three below were my favorites!

So, there’s that.

Family, Oregon

Thanksgiving Surprise.

This would have been my sixth year spending Thanksgiving away from home.
I hadn’t been home for the holiday since I was in high school.
So this year I decided it was about time to change that.

Woke up at 4 am to catch my flight....toooo much coffee!
Woke up at 4 am to catch my flight….toooo much coffee!

When I bought my ticket back in August I decided that this was the perfect time to try to surprise my family. It was something that I had always wanted to do, but this was the first time that the opportunity had presented itself.

Texting with my Mom the day before....if only she had known :)
Texting with my Mom the day before….if only she had known 🙂

I enlisted the help of my sister’s boyfriend Justin and decided that I would try to surprise everyone in my family. Now people, you have to understand, keeping a secret like this for three months was a BIG DEAL. There were so many times that I either almost slipped or gave in a told them.

So here is how it all went down.

IMG_1090
Countdown on my phone!

Justin picked me up from the airport and we went straight to my family’s flower shop. I had written up this poem (pictured below) in Christmas cards to be handed to my family right before I walked in.

IMG_1094My grandparents were in the shop and my mom was across the street getting lunch with a family friend that had stopped by. Justin delivered both of the cards and then came back to get me from where I was hiding in the back hallway.

My grandparents were a bit confused by the card, so when I walked around the corner I more startled them, then surprising.

Since my Mom was across the street, she was more confused that Justin had came in, handed her a card and then ran out again. It took her a bit to put together my handwriting and the cards message but as I headed over there she came running out too.

My sister screamed publicly. It was pretty funny.

My favorite reaction was my Dad’s though. He walked into the store an hour later, looked at me like I had three heads and said “What the hell are you doing here?” I love you too Dad.

Josh (my uncle) was out of town so I just tagged him in my Facebook status. His reaction there was about the same as it would have been in person.

IMG_1095Everyone in my family was genuinely surprised and I am super excited to be spending this entire week with them.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Music - What I'm Listening To

Friday Jam Session: The Voice S7: Part 1

I’m a tad bit late to The Voice craze. I’ve always known what it was, mostly because my sister is an avid fan, but I didn’t have TV (or even Netflix for that matter) in college so my screen time was extremely limited. But I knew I could be a fan because I usually found myself binge watching YouTube video of highlights and performances. So this season I have joined the club. Up until the “Live Playoffs” I’ve been recording it on my DVR and watching it throughout the rest of the week. Two hours is a little too much time to dedicate to sitting and watching one show.

 A few of my early favorites have been cut, but for the most part I can follow the coaches’ train of thought. Lots of great voices come through this show, but there seems to be a specific formula and checklist to be a good fit for this particular environment. Speaking of the coaches, Blake and Adam are both artists that I have been a longtime fan of, and their bromance is just plain hysterical. As for the other two, from what little I’ve seen of past coaches and now of Pharrell and Gwen, I think they’ve got a really strong group. Gwen is the pennant bearer for girl power for all who grew up in the time of No Doubt’s reign. And while Pharrell is an artist that I’ve only become familiar with in the last couple of years, this guy is a master at giving pep talks. Seriously, I kind of wish he could be my life coach.

This week was #TheVoiceTop12 Playoffs where all twelve artists performed live and America chose the Top 10 to move on to next week.
For this post I split the Top 10 down to my Top 5 artists, which was really difficult because I could see myself being a fan of quite a few of them. Now if I was just doing the Top 5 performances, my list might look a little different because that would be heavily influenced by what were already some of my favorite songs. But I chose my Top 5 artists based on their overall appeal, including voice, style and personality, and whether or not I think I would go out and buy their music. This list is not in any particular order.

Disclaimer: I am well aware that 3 out of the 5 are guys with long hair. Despite to my extreme dislike for guys with long hair, they all still made the cut. They should feel honored…

1. Matt McAndrew

So I kind of lied, because I know that Matt’s song choices have definitely influenced his spot on this list. “Yellow” and “Drops of Jupiter” are two of my all-time favorite songs, and I think he did them justice. With that said, I’m oddly fascinated by this guy. I like him now, and I think I could like him in 40 years – even with that ridiculous hair. Then the morning of the playoffs this week I was listening to Hozier’s “Take Me to Church,” (one of my favorite songs of 2014) and thought it would be a great fit for this guy…and what happened? BOOM. I’m a psychic. And while it probably wouldn’t have as much star power with America, I’m dying for him to sing some Mat Kearney…

2. Taylor John Williams

This guy was my early favorites, and no, not just because he’s a fellow Oregonian. Like Matt McAndrew, I’m oddly fascinated by Taylor and his voice. He might not be singing all my favorite songs like Matt is, but each time his performance end, I want to hear more. His blind audition of “Heartless” could have been his own song, “Stuck in the Middle With You” took me back in time and I thought his battle round duet of “Jolene” was endearing. And while I think that he has improved with each week (as they should) my favorite performance of his so far was in the Knockouts with “Mad World.” Guys, the 1:45 mark says it all. Give me this on repeat.

3. Danica Shirey

This girl has some soul pipes. I’d definitely say that this season is male dominated, but homegirl is holding her own. It seems like those who are successful on The Voice are the ones who are really able to sell the big note moments. Danica does that in every performance. Plus it helps that she comes across as extremely down to earth, and even a little shy from too much attention. She makes you want to know what her story is. I’d buy her music AND feel like I could grab a cup of coffee with her. “Creep” and “Help Me” were great performances, but “Saving All My Love for You” was my favorite.

4. Chris Jamison

I like Chris because at first glance he doesn’t seem as unique as Matt and Taylor do, but he quickly makes you forget the pretty boy stereotype you were putting him in and instead creates his own niche. When it comes to his voice think Adam Levine’s sexy falsetto meets Michael Buble’s warm and smooth croons. Just watch Pharrell’s face at 00:45 of his blind audition of “Gravity.” And there’s versatility. He nailed Nick Jonas’ new beat above and threw it back with Otis Redding’s “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay.” I wasn’t a big of fan of “Don’t”, but I definitely want to hear more from this kid.

5. Craig Wayne Boyd

I’ll admit I was weary of Craig at first. My taste in music ranges far and wide, but at the core is country music. And well, the definition of “country” has been thrown around like a rag doll lately. Bro country, nashville, outlaw, red dirt…it all has a place, but it is all making my head hurt. But kind of like his journey on the show, where Craig keeps fighting his way through, he won me over. His voice is most comparable to Travis Tritt’s and he’s got the southern vibe like Confederate Railroad, Shenandoah and maybe even Sawyer Brown that sometimes walks the line between country and rock. To me his turning point “statement moment” was his performance of Marshall Tucker Band’s cover above. He also took on “Some Kind of Wonderful” and the King’s “You Look So Good in Love”.

Favorite Team Performance So Far…

I haven’t really enjoyed that many of the team performances, but I did really like Team Gwen’s performance of “Riptide.”

The Artists I’d Like To Bring Back…

Despite my comments about country music above, I really do wish that James David Carter was still on the show. He had my overall favorite blind audition with “Nobody Knows”, I enjoyed his very laid back persona and his voice was just about as pure, stripped down country as they come. His performances of “Two of a Kind Workin’ on a Full House”  and “You’ve Got a Friend” were good too.

I was really disappointed that Pharrell didn’t save Taylor Phelan when he had the chance. His blind audition of “Sweater Weather” was my next favorite, and considering I really don’t like that song originally, thats impressive. One of the coaches made the comment during his audition that he reminded them of Ryan Tedder (of OneRepublic) by the way he became apart of the music. I agree. He was someone who I wanted to hear more from. He also performed “Rather Be”  and “Cool Kids.”

Other favorite performances

Ryan Sill – “Ordinary World
Luke Wade – “Rich Girl”

Reagan James – “Try”
Taylor Breshears – “Landslide”
Damien – “How Do I Live”
Ricky Manning – “Lay Me Down”
Troy Ritchie – “Hey Ya!”
Jessie Pitts vs. Ryan Sill – “I Need Your Love”
Troy Ritchie vs. Menlik Zergabachew – “Maneater”
Elyjuh Rene vs. Maiya Sykes – “If I Ain’t Got You”
Griffin vs. Luke Wade – “Maybe I’m Amazed”
Jonathan Wyndham – “Say Something”
Anita Antoinette – “Turn Your Lights Down Low”
Menlik Zergabachew – “Santeria”