I’m from Chicago and am a city girl at heart. Despite the abundance of beach photos I share here and elsewhere online (i.e. Instagram), nothing makes me happier than wandering around a city. As I continue to backup and clear out old sets of RAW photos (read more about my 2017 goals over here), I’ve been revisiting tons of favorite memories from the past couple of years.
I visit Chicago at least once every 2-3 months because I still have family there, including my parents, brother, and brother’s wife. However, it’s rare that I have an extended period of time to take pictures, especially downtown. Usually, I’m sharing a quick snap, like this one from a day trip right before Christmas. Getting to wonder for hours with my camera for a few hours is an occasional treat. The photos I’m sharing today are from a day trip back in September 2015 (the one where I got to meet Edi and Paige!).
I talk frequently about how one of my favorite things about living near Lake Michigan is seeing how different the lake looks from day to day and even hour to hour. I enjoy the lake views all year round, which is why I created the hashtag #LakeMichigan365 (check it out on Instagram!) Many people live for perfect weather beach days with warm temperatures, clear skies, and great sand. But some of my favorite beach days are days with less than perfect weather. I took this set of winter beach pictures on a particularly foggy, slightly warmer than normal January day.
We kicked off the new year with a small herd of deer wandering through the backyard. Somehow I haven’t shared any deer pictures on the blog before?! There are quite a few deer in the neighborhood. It’s not uncommon to see them out and about, particularly at dusk. In 2016, I fortunate enough to snap pictures of deer right in the yard a few times. If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen the couple shots of the doe and fawn we saw over the spring and summer (here and here). I didn’t share any fall deer snaps here, though.
There were three deer wandering through this time. They stopped for a few minutes to graze. I’m not sure what they were eating, to be honest. There’s not much growing this time of year! But they found something to nibble, and then they moved along to the neighbor’s yard. I’m a city girl and have never lived anywhere this remote before, so it’s still quite the novelty to see so much wildlife in the yard. (We even had a fox visitor this fall!)
Over the weekend, we had our first major snowfall of the 16-17 winter. I’ve been on the beaches in southeast WI in the winter plenty of times. But I had never been on the beach, watching Lake Michigan, as it was snowing. Needless to say, it was a very neat experience. The views were so different from what you’ll see during the spring, summer, or fall (remember the rainbow I saw back in September?).
I’m structuring my late fall through early spring monthly highlights posts a little differently than my late spring through early fall highlights posts. There are happenings that I want to share here but not as many specific events (i.e. outdoor concerts, festivals). Hopefully, that makes sense, and you’ll stick with me through these less photo heavy months and more text heavy updates.
I know that it’s sort of a given this time of year, but this November, I’ve been extra conscious about taking time every day to count my blessings and be grateful for what I have. Over a two-week span at the beginning of the month, two friends lost parents (one of whom passed away not even two months after receiving a cancer diagnosis), one friend lost a grandparent, Jon Schmidt of the Piano Guys lost his daughter Annie in a tragic hiking accident, and Rob’s beloved Bella crossed the rainbow bridge after a 15+ month battle with cancer.
I have my own daily struggles and uncertainty in life. We all do, I know. Watching people I love suffer incredibly unfair, heart-wretching death of their loved ones puts things in perspective. Jake and I have faced multiple major challenges during our married life and continue to face challenges, but we have so much to be grateful for, too. I have been mindful of my blessings every single day this month, especially as I pray for those close to me who have faced loss.
For Thanksgiving, we stayed close to home, which is sort of the best thing ever. One of the major reasons we live in southeast WI is to be close to family. It’s so great to be able to drive a couple hours or less for major holidays and then get back home to your own bed (and kitties) that night.
My in-laws cooked on Thanksgiving, and then I cooked for myself, Jake, and my parents the day after, which meant my cooking was pretty straightforward and involved chicken (and a little steak) instead of turkey. Recipes: chicken and vegetables / sweet potato casserole / rolls / cranberry sauce / pumpkin pie (with a homemade flaky pie crust from How to Cook Everything). The rolls recipe is now up on the blog, just in time for Christmas and New Year’s meals! So excited! I’m not a big “it’s not X holiday unless we have X food” person. Except for these rolls. They’ve been a family tradition ever since I was little. It was so much fun getting to cook with my mom. We hadn’t cooked together like that in years.
Jake and I concluded the weekend with holiday decorating. We always get a real tree, which I look forward to all year. I’ve been filling in some finishing touches this past week, but we got the bulk of our decorations up during the last few days in November. I shared a few of the new decorations I picked up this year over here.
Otherwise, I’ve been working on the final adoption home study tasks, finishing up or at least making progress on a bunch of home projects, and working on lots of posts for the blog. Over the next month or so, I’m really excited to share some new DIY projects including DIY holiday wall art (the canvas art tutorial is already up right here) and my made over file cabinet (all pictured above!), more Christmas and general winter inspiration, best of 2016 (both photos and what I’ve been reading), and 2017 goals.
Finally, one of the highlights of November was seeing a fox right in our yard. There are foxes in the neighborhood. I’ve seen a few from a distance before but never one so close. He’s wandered through a few times now, always on the go, hence I’ve only snapped a few pictures of him. I can’t get over the dark red fur color.
How was your November? Are you mostly focused on the holidays this month or do you have other events going on as well?