International Women’s Day

Happy International Women’s Day! As I think over the issues facing today’s women, I admire even more the struggles and efforts of our predecessors. To think that even 100 years ago we had no right to vote for our leaders or to really have any voice on major issues even affecting us!

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Women have come a long way since the 20th amendment was passed in 1920. However, we still have some ways to go. I think in many instances, today’s women grow disheartened by trivial issues, issues that in many ways do not make them appear superior. We choose to leave behind our grace, our very feminine qualities which make us special. Men and their masculinity do not exist to be without our feminine sides to balance and counteract. By seeking too much to dismiss our fundamental and biological qualities, we forfeit our very existence. The point of equality was not to overrun or grow manly! It was to let us finally have the right to CHOOSE for ourselves! To let our feminine virtues stand in equal consideration besides a man’s.

Being ladylike is not forfeiting the struggles of those before us. If anything it is using our very unique abilities to show that we are just as equal. These qualities are not a hindrance, but a strength. Forgetting those virtues allows the masculine traits to still run rampant and, in fact, appear the superior.

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Women should not attack on another based on their own personal, unique choices. A woman decides to stay home with her children? No, she is not a disgrace. She freely chose this as her role as a woman. A woman decides to work instead of staying home? No, she is not any less of a woman. She simply once again chose to follow her heart. Our ancestors fought for the right of all women to choose their destiny, to be able to work outside the home if they chose. A woman who chooses to do as she pleases and is FREE to do so: that was the women’s rights movement.

Yes, we deserve the right to equal pay. Yes, we shouldn’t be hindered because we can have children while men cannot. That doesn’t make me any less intelligent than a man.

In today’s world, I see many women in the limelight. Some are vulgar, crass, and very aggressive. Others are classy, use words instead of actions, and set examples through leadership only. To me, the ones who are true examples are not ones who scream out in protest non-stop. Instead, they lead through actions. They enter the world, ready to share their own personal contribution, come what may await them. They have stayed true to themselves, to their roles as women, and they have overcome obstacles awaiting them. They show class and decency, and change the system from within. These are the women I celebrate.

Thoughts on the Affordable Care Act from Someone Who Works With It Daily

This is a little off topic but I also felt the need to share some thoughts as it is a HOT topic these days.

As a current Health Coverage Guide with Connect for Health Colorado, Colorado’s state exchange and marketplace for the Affordable Care Act, and a previously licensed insurance agent prior to the law’s start, I have some insight into what many in my area feel needs to be changed for the healthcare issue. Along with this current experience, I also worked in law offices and studied medicine in school.

First, healthcare needs to be affordable. There is no denying that, and I believe the theory of the Affordable Care Act is 100% right. However, portions of the law and the burden on individuals and families far outweigh the pros I’ve witnessed in the law. The Affordable Care Act set out to make insurance accessible and affordable for everyone, but most of the people I meet with cannot afford the high premiums or fines associated with it, nor do they see the benefit in high deductibles. I am included in this.

Per the Affordable Care Act, my employer must offer health insurance as they employ more than 50 full time employees at the hospital in my very rural town in Colorado. Therefore, that means I cannot obtain any financial assistance through insurance affordability programs and must pay full premium costs. Also, the law states that if my dependents are also offered insurance like my husband is, we must pay full cost for him to be insured as well or face the penalty at the end of the year. My husband is currently not working for any employer as he starts his own business with photography after leaving nursing because he grew ill and now has recovered. Colorado state insurance law requires that employers only pay 50% of the cost for employee-only coverage. It does not state anything in regards to dependents. As my health insurance premiums for only myself are not more than 9.5% of our household income, I am required by the Affordable Care Act to pay full price for my husband and the full 50% of mine as the employee. Therefore, we are paying approximately $500 per month to have health insurance. This is another rent payment in our community or even two vehicle payments we could be making. If we opt to not take the insurance, we will need to pay $1,395 for a penalty at tax time when our return is usually only $400. This causes an enormous problem for us.

It’s been pointed out to me that why can someone only making $11 per hour fully support their family of 3 while I have a harder time for a 2 person household making a bit more. I want to explain to him that that person probably qualifies for Medicaid and other benefits. I obtained a degree in psychology and yet I am barely making it from check to check all because I am now over the Medicaid cutoff at $21,307 for a household of 2. So, in trying to better my life, it seems I’ve hindered myself. However, I am not a person who is content to work less and collect welfare. I believe in creating new opportunities and growing my husband’s new business as well. It simply feels that the way the system is established now, we are blocked from this opportunity routinely. People tell us constantly my husband needs to quit his dream of being a business owner with his photography and that we must both work 40 hours a week.

Also, the customers for the Affordable Care Act who visit me share repeatedly how they hate the requirement to pay for insurance that includes coverages they will never use. Many in our area are near retirement or at retirement. They do not see the need to pay for maternity & newborn care or pediatric dental. A 63-year-old confirmed bachelor with no children was angry in my office when I shared he was paying for that coverage. Even on Connect for Health Colorado’s site we must explain that if the carrier does not have pediatric dental built into their plans, we must have the customer purchase a separate pediatric dental policy to meet the requirements of the law, even if they have no one in the home who can use the coverage.

Like I mentioned before, I am a formerly licensed insurance agent. Why can’t health insurance be like auto insurance where we pick and choose what coverage we want or need? Someone with no child would choose to uncheck the box for pediatric dental. An older couple could choose to uncheck maternity & newborn care. This could lower the individual and family insurance premiums alone. If anything needs to be mandatory, make that emergency and hospitalization coverage. The insurance companies can still be required to cover all the other types, but the consumer chooses what coverages are included on his or her plan.

I firmly agree about creating interstate plans and removing state boundaries when it comes to insurance coverage. Our town in Colorado is only 17 miles from the nearest town in New Mexico. Many of our residents choose coverage in that town too. Because of insurance being limited to just our state, they are not covered for any procedures unless emergency. In one instance as an example a woman was diagnosed with cancer. Her doctor told her the best treatment was at the Cancer Institute in Houston, Texas. Since her policy was by an insurer limited to Colorado only, this customer could not do so without paying the cost entirely from her own pocket.

Another issue I see in the marketplace is that insurers have discontinued PPO plans in our area. Therefore, individuals are limited to just our state networks and cannot see a specialist without a referral from their primary care doctor. If one desires a second opinion he or she must ask the current primary care doctor for permission to do so. Should they opt to change their primary care provider, insurance companies now make them wait until after the first of the next month. Isn’t this preventing a patient the right to a second opinion? In many cases, a second opinion cannot wait.

On another front, the cost of healthcare itself is astronomical. When my husband was working in nursing and ordering supplies he noticed the price of a band-aid that probably costs ten cents at most to manufacture cost the providers $5. In turn, the provider then charges $10 to cover the cost of the staff meeting with the patient to put the band-aid on them. As someone who studied medicine for a while and then became an insurance agent, I understand the cycle that exists. Providers raised their costs to discourage the consumers who consistently go to the providers for even just the sniffles instead of real needs and to cover their costs. The insurance companies now had a bigger expense and raised insurance rates also, raising our premiums. When we also remove pre-existing conditions which I think has been a great benefit to the law, we increase what the insurance companies must pay again as they no longer have the luxury to pick and choose who they will cover. That, in turn, makes them raise our premiums even more. While I understand they need to cover their costs, I also don’t understand why a CEO of an insurance provider can take home a $35 million salary each year as we, the Americans required to have health insurance, can hardly afford to pay our regular daily life bills because of high premiums.

Despite this, I do believe the removal of pre-existing conditions is something we must maintain in the new law. I witnessed firsthand as an insurance agent how this helped individuals. A man retired at 55 years of age from his job. He used COBRA for the 18-month period and then decided he needed to purchase new, individual insurance. We looked up his rates and filled out applications. All of them were denied because based on the man’s age he was at risk for heart disease and potentially a heart attack he was told. The man was still only 57 and could not enroll in Medicare for several more years. In that instance, he ended up paying nearly double the initial premium with one carrier until he could obtain Medicare. Without pre-existing conditions this man never would have faced these obstacles. Health insurance is a necessity for those with health issues. That’s why I am glad that pre-existing conditions no longer exist in our plans and it should stay that way.

I wish that more states could follow Colorado’s example. We offer a discount plan to residents of our state called the Colorado Indigent Care Program. I assist people with this program every day at work also. It is not actual health insurance. Therefore, the people on it are not covered to meet the Affordable Care Act. If they do have regular insurance it will work almost like a secondary insurance to create a rate category for the ones who sign up based on their income. The income limits are 250% of the Federal Poverty Level and one cannot have Medicaid either. The rates then provide them with set co-pays for certain crucial services, even backdating 90 days prior to their application date. Those who have no insurance have opted for this to help with medical bills should they require them. This at least helps individuals with high medical costs obtain some type of assistance and can even assist with high premium, lower cost-sharing plans in the marketplace. A customer could decide to purchase a plan with lower premiums but a higher deductible, and then sign up for the Indigent Care Program to ease their out of pocket costs for services.

Just ramblings of real life experiences from someone in the trenches.

Thank you for listening and all the best!

Class and Femininity

Over the last few years and mainly with the current election and swearing-in of a president, there appears a growing trend in society. It’s one I feel increasingly leery of.  Today, for the first time, I felt myself reluctant to speak out and share my own opinion. That is until I realized I can share it more fully through this blog.

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Am I for women’s rights? Incredibly so. Am I for equality? Absolutely. Am I angry that women haven’t always shared that? Definitely. Am I thinking it’s time to bash men and declare that a woman must not show any femininity? A resounding NO.

We witnessed the woman’s marches across the country yesterday. I’ve listened to some people say they are voting for so and so because they have a vagina. I’ve heard others state I will be hated simply because I’m a woman. I’ve had “men” declare I don’t know how to make my man happy because I work for a living and need to be home in the kitchen. (Naturally, I use the term lightly about men in this instance. More like boys if you ask me.) I’ve been told I will make less than a man. I’ve witnessed it first hand in paychecks over the years. I’ve been harassed based on my gender in the workplace (suggestions I should wear such and such or I can’t do something because I’m not a man).

On the other hand, I’ve been chastised and told how horrible it is I let a man bully me into working outside the home. I’m told I’m allowing him to mooch off me. I’ve been told I should be the one staying at home, raising potential children, and that I need to force my husband to be the one outside the home. Wait a minute! Isn’t this a bit of a contradiction???

Some of you readers know my marital situation and agreement, which quite frankly should be entirely only up to him and myself. My husband is a licensed LPN. I hold a Bachelors of Science Degree in Psychology. Besides the LPN, my husband also has done forestry, cooking, and photography. He moved to our current area where we met to live off the land and he assumed he would live alone, building with his father a one-room cabin which would be his home. That is until he met me only 1 month into building it. I worked from the time I was 10 years old, in various offices, then at Disneyland. In the meantime, I took medical classes to follow my dream, a dream I later realized may not be realistic for me. Then, I worked in law offices and also obtained my insurance license for the state of Colorado. I write. I learned tax preparation and accounting. I continued my working as a child welfare case aide where I decided I wanted to return to my pursuit of a degree and obtained my bachelors degree strictly through online classes. From there I managed the business office of the local Chamber of Commerce, substituted as a paraprofessional for Kindergarten classes a semester, and then worked as a home visitor/parent educator for the SafeCare Colorado program for over a year. Now, I’m back with insurance as a Health Coverage Guide for the Affordable Care Act and our other local programs meant to assist patients with paying their bills at our hospital. The fact is I enjoy working and I enjoy relaxing when I choose too.

As a result of this, and after complete open discussion between my husband and myself, I continue to work. However, my husband grew ill while working as a LPN right as we were married and could not work for a year as we attempted to get him through the illness and also a hernia surgery. Then, he spent this summer finishing the house we are in now with his father. We’ve decided between us that it is best if one of us is not working. This allows the non-working spouse to work on our home, our vehicles, the chores, etc. Our decision together was that my husband would stay home. And, he is simply not staying home to mooch off me. He has started our homesteading! We have rabbits to breed and raise for meat. We have fresh microgreens and other vegetables growing.

Does this make him any less of a man? NO! Does this mean I am any less of a woman? No. Those who suggest I am ridiculous allowing him to stay home to do this and his dream of photography really make me shake my head. How is he mooching off me because we willingly and whole-heartedly agreed he can be the “housewife” in our marriage? The irony… the same women who have stated this to me on many occasions are the ones staying home in their marriage! So, are they mooching off their spouses? Are they lazy? Are we saying that women are allowed to just stay home like that and be financially supported by their husbands? Is that an entitlement for being a woman I wasn’t aware of? How is that fair?

Which brings up my ideas on this feminism debate. I am completely a feminist, no doubt. However, I must be a rare breed of feminist if you watch the mainstream media. I want equality between the sexes. That means that I should be allowed to decide for myself if I want to work or stay at home. Staying at home should I choose does not make me less of a woman or a disgrace because I’m not honoring what our generations prior fought for in the Suffragette movement. I firmly admire what those women did. But the point is to me they did it as women. They did not deny their feminine traits that defined them and kept them different from men. They only asked for the same rights, like the right to vote, like the right to choose. Plus, they did so with class and decent manners.

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In today’s world, I see a horrendous lack of manners existing in the general public. It really wears on my nerves, and causes questions of what is going on to wander through my head. Someone disagrees with us, we tear them down. We cuss with such vulgarity it is unbelievable. We are angry if a man holds a door open for us even though he is just being polite. I hold doors open for men myself. Am I saying they are less? We attack other women simply because they are stay-at-home mothers or they are wearing skirts and heels. Then we attack the ones working and wearing pants, calling them names too. And this just isn’t about the feminists. I see it among all issues: the man vs woman, woman vs woman, man vs man, black vs white, Muslim vs Christian, Democrat vs Republican, Straight vs Homosexual.

It’s as if everyone thinks they are entitled now to simply say whatever they want, to criticize anyone out there. You post something on Facebook and wham! Tons of new comments to posts telling you what you should do and how you’re wrong, as if we’re all experts on the subjects because we read about it online or saw it on the news. What happened to if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all? One example: my husband and I started a photography club in town a couple of years ago. We urged to spread the word, shared the posts of upcoming meetings and tried to get press to get new members to join. NOTHING! Then, the minute we closed down the club, suddenly we see it posted on a few pages. Oh, so now we get attention… I WANT MORE POSITIVE NEWS!

Do you guys remember Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman? This woman right here…

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She was one of the first pioneer doctors in a series on CBS, portrayed by the very lovely Jane Seymour. She fought hard for what she had and showed brains. Yet, she stayed feminine and showed integrity and decency. She didn’t resort to insults and rioting. She used her mind and showed she was capable. She didn’t blame others when she made mistakes or was discriminated against. Instead, Dr. Mike showed us that we can just continue to do what we must and through our own efforts rise above it. We can set an example and then others will see what we can do.

Even in the Netflix series The Crown which focuses on the early years of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, we see a woman with authority and power up against immeasurable odds in what was then still a “man’s world” far more than today. Yet, she has class and manners. She uses her mind to overcome the odds even then, hiring a tutor to educate her more when President Eisenhower is prepared to visit, asking her advisers for knowledge to make informed decisions, insisting despite everyone’s wishes to marry the man she wanted, then fighting to have him included. She wanted a simple country life as a wife with the man she loved and her family. Queen Elizabeth II has now been one of the most influential women in our modern history. She didn’t turn vulgar or crass. Nor did she once resent her marriage or try to dominate her husband. If anything, she attempted to accommodate him in his new role as less the “man” than her in the marriage.

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Actually, when watching The Crown, I was struck at how similar I could relate to those moments in her life. We have roles to play. Maybe I’m not “Queen” in my marriage, but I am breaking the traditional roles established in the root of society by being the more dominant and known one, working outside the home.

However, I haven’t lost my feminine side. I love my husband remembering I love chocolate mints and picking them up for me at the store as surprise. I love seeing flowers on the table. I love having a soft, floral scent present on me. I enjoy putting on make-up and fixing my hair, and finding nice feminine outfits to wear. Making jams and preparing breakfast on my days off and cooking from time to time also appeal to me. I like being submissive in some ways with my husband. A nice soak in the tub after he’s prepared me a candle lit bath with lavender knowing I’ve had a stressful day at work means so much to me. I like being soft to his more masculine traits. Is it wrong of me to do this? No. I think it is us balancing one another. I do the things a woman can do and also the things he as a man cannot do.

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I admire the Duchess of Cambridge as well for this. It is obvious she is strong and her husband and her treat each other as equals in their marriage. She is feminine and classy. You don’t hear her vulgarly calling out another. Yet, she, too, is criticized by some as a puppet or merely a breeding doll for the royal family. She has a major role and she CHOSE the life she has.

After all, that’s what feminism is all about, right? Equality. Equality means we have the same rights. We are free to choose our destiny. We can vote. We can work or stay at home. We can stand up for ourselves. Let’s just realize though as the Dowager Countess declared on Downton Abbey, “Vulgarity is no substitution for wit.”

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So I choose to have equality. I choose to make up my own mind and not be forced into what everyone else around me thinks. I choose to work out of the home and love my husband for what he contributes in the home. I choose to love my husband and be soft to him. I choose to hold onto what makes me different from him, show a girly side. I choose to be who I am and feel what I feel, even if it differs from what some think. I choose to not blame others out there for any discrimination that comes along and take the responsibility to address it if I must. I choose to stand up for myself. I choose already who uses my body and how it is used. No one forces that on me. I choose to decide with my husband what we do as a couple and our present situation about who works. I choose to be a woman, but a woman of equality. However, a woman entirely on my own terms as I choose.

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We’re Homesteading for 2017!

Living in the mountains on 35 acres sometimes causes headaches, mainly worrying about a good 4 wheel drive vehicle to get down the mountain to work really in snow. Yet, most of the time, it is awesome. We get to wake up to not a sound by birds (and our adorable doggies prancing to see us). There’s nothing blocking us from gorgeous sights. And we frequently have wildlife walking through our immediate area.

Part of our goals changed too. The hubby decided he wanted to supplement our grocery bill by breeding and raising rabbits for meat. We’ve basically only started this endeavor with two does and a buck. It’s going to be hard, but the relief at least is that we are keeping our original three throughout everything. Rabbit meat surprisingly has tons of benefits, including artery repair and being awesomely lean for low blood pressure.

Along with this, my man also decided he would use some Aerogrardens and grow some herbs. Currently, we have dill, basil, mint, and parsley growing in one Aerogarden. In another, we’ve started miniature tomatoes. In a third, we’re supplied with three different kinds of lettuce for our salads. Super yummy! Then, he’s started up microgreens as well with sprouts. These are awesome, especially when added to the homemade egg drop soup I’ve made on our cold, wintery days. Another adventure for him is Blue Oyster Mushrooms which he’s obtained 2 crops from and last time delighted us with the most awesome appetizer: fried mushrooms with garlic and onion (pictured below). His next addition hopes to be some chickens or quail for our eggs and we hope to purchase seeds and plants soon for berries.

As he’s been doing this, I started up crocheting. I LOVE IT! It is so relaxing and I quickly get carried away, not realizing how much time has passed. Since I’m very new to it (try New Year’s Eve as my start), I haven’t really started much on patterns. However, I do think I’m getting the hang of it quite well. It’s a nice hobby to pass the time.

I’m also now making homemade jams more frequently. My Christmas gifts to the family were blackberry jam, strawberry jam, then a sugar body scrub, and a whipped coconut oil body butter I made too. The hubby threw in some of his homemade beef jerky to go along with it. Plus, he’s brewed a great batch of a Colorado Amber Ale to enjoy.
In case, too, no one knew, we adopted another dog this fall. Really, it was one we decided to invite to keep with us as my in-laws left because she got on so well with Bailey. So, now, we are a family of 4. Aren’t they just adorable????

On another note, I binge watched The Crown on Netflix over the New Year’s. I loved it. I highly recommend any royal watcher. My respect and admiration for the Queen rose even more so…

And that’s all from the ranch today!

Too Long a Delay

Dear Readers,

I apologize so much for the long delay. I can’t believe it’s been 3 months! After a very chaotic summer of moving us into the house as it was completed, my husband and I tried to get back on our feet and caught up. Unfortunately, that also delayed us in time to write this blog.

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Add in a few weeks of a kidney stone nightmare for the hubby with visits in and out of the hospital just as Thanksgiving approached and not to mention Open Enrollment for the Affordable Care Act in which I am the sole health coverage guide to assist individuals with their insurance needs in my entire county. However, that is not an excuse and I am so sorry for not updating.

On the positive side though, my husband and I have started homesteading! He will be raising rabbits and breeding them. Along with this, we also are growing a garden of vegetables and herbs, including mushrooms and tomatoes to substitute our grocery needs. I’ve also started many homemade items including luxurious bath salts, scrubs, and lotions in addition to jams. He also is creating beef jerky tailored to tastes and fruit leather. So, we’ve started to truly adapt to the county living, but yet living with grace. I’ve also started up stress relief through adult coloring books and also as I start learning how to crochet.

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Many more blog entries await, including a couple this coming weekend with the new year. My resolution is to get back on track and proceed with updates on how to live With A Little Touch of Grace as we continue developing our life on the ranch.

With much love and gratitude,

Michelle

Adventures in Starting to Homestead & the Royal Canadian Tour – Outfits to Die For

Well, we’re officially moved into our house. After six months of residing on the property with us as they finish the interior, the in-laws have headed home to Texas and we are left to put our touch on our home and set up shop. With everything all brand new, yet smaller than we had before, we’ve had fun incorporating both of us into the home. Our previous home I’d lived in on my own for several years before meeting the hubby and we were slowly bringing him into it. Now, this is full on a reflection of both of us from start to finish. It wasn’t too hard to bring in some classic refinement to our humble abode though. Especially because I have a hubby who loves my classic taste.

Our bedset is almost a key focal point inside the house, updated with a new comforter set to be both masculine and feminine

The outside, on the other hand, is not quite so set up yet. This will definitely take a touch of refinement from us. Yesterday, for the second Saturday, my hubby spent hours raking and weeding the landscape around the entrance. We plotted, and I laid out a quick draw up of our plan to make the outside just as rewarding and comfy to us. I also went on Etsy and discovered an amazing shop called Natural Potions that specializes in seeds for many plants, some even medicinal. We’ve put together our shopping cart already and I can’t wait to see what awaits us. 

My hubby hard at work in the morning, still clearing out more of the weeds and undergrowth natural to the land

Part of our goal for the ranch life too is not only peace and quiet in the country, but also to get it to work for us. Some people think ranches and think cattle or horses. Well, unfortunately, we will have neither (I would have LOVED horses – I’m a huge horse lover and ride whenever trips allow which is not too often I’m afraid). The ranch community is in agreement with a cattle ranch to allow their cattle to open range up here every summer until October.This keeps our property taxes low as an agricultural zone. So, indeed, that is cattle enough for me. However, we do intend to purchase rabbits and also quail for us. Not many know but I do have an allergy to eggs and also cow’s milk. Of course, neither allergy will kill me, but I must watch my limits and not go overboard.I do know that when I consume the products I am indeed not feeling too keen afterward. The hubby has researched and found that rabbits are amazing for meat and not too costly. Quail eggs are considered a delicacy and have been shown to not bother people with egg allergies as it is not chicken eggs.

A few hours later, the area is almost clear and I planted my wildflower seeds in a little bed, carved out with rocks to mark where our paths will go. It’ll be a nice outdoor area as the hubby grills too

Along with this, we are going to plant herbs and vegetables.The husband has already started and now we’ll add a few more seeds. One lucky thing was we discovered wild Colorado tomatoes growing just outside our front door. So, we transplanted it to help it grow minus the weeds around it and are waiting to see. But so exciting!

Replanted a wild Colorado tomato plant growing just outside our door

Our other herbs and veggies we’ve began on our homestead

After the Tetons vacation I know we shared a huge love for the huckleberry margaritas we shared there. Huckleberries will indeed be a treat in our homestead project.However, yesterday as I researched I was amazed to learn that huckleberries are good for digestion, blood sugar, and other remedies. I can’t wait to start planting those seeds. We will definitely be sharing a lot more blogs now that some peace and quiet has returned but also along the way of our homesteading project.
But also with this post I wanted to share how I’ve been observing the Royal Canadian Tour the past week and I must say, “Wow!” Not only was it so fun to see how adorable the young Prince and Princess were, but also to see how incredible William and Kate are with one another. They both really are growing into their roles and still seem so in love. One thing that frequently shocked me was how the media seemed surprised they appeared to provide loving glances to one another after five years of marriage. Really? Imagine a married couple in love and hanging onto what made them fall in love every day. Brent and I laugh as we seem more and more in love with each other and more lovey dovey now officially one year and a week since our wedding day.

Yet, what I loved was the Canadian sights too! I love Canada. There are fond memories from my childhood of visiting with my grandfather and family. However, I never made it to the west coast or Yukon, just to Banff and Lake Louise/Glacier area. The photos from their travels really struck my interest.

Kate checks out the rainforest and scenes with style in Canada

And Kate’s wardrobe was awesome! She shared more laid back and casual looks with us on this tour and I loved them. The day of her trip to the rainforest, her trench and boots with the delightful blue sweater and skinny jeans – I could see myself wearing this around here for a dressed-up casual Friday or a date night easily. It was just so cute!

An easy look with class I could fit into my work wardrobe with no problem as Kate spends her final day in Canada

Then I adored the nice white blazer, shell, and the black skinny jeans she wore yesterday on their more indoor visits on the last day. It looked like something I’d wear to work and was so new for her to show us. That is definitely one look I want to emulate. 

My favorite look! Where can I find a sweater just like this in an affordable price range? Kate has great taste!

But by far my favorite look was her gray, wool cardigan and skinny jeans with knee high boots in Carcross! LOVE THAT SWEATER!!!!!! So wish I could find an affordable alternative just like it! (Any hints????? If so, please share!) I love wearing my skinny jeans for a casual day and the sweater just struck me as so cozy and comfy for ranch, autumn days and mild winter ones as well. Not to mention, I’d wear it to work in a heartbeat with my dress pants and heels. So now I’m on the hunt for a similar item in my wardrobe. 
And many more posts to start appearing again – sorry for the delay with our company for six months and also building. It just got too chaotic. But now follow along again with our homesteading and adding refinement around the ranch.

One Year and Counting

A year ago today I married the man of my dreams. I still can’t believe I found him, or more he found me. After time passing and believing I’d never find my Prince Charming, he walked into my life like a gift. Every day I adore this man more and more and cherish every minute of our precious time together.

He makes me laugh and smile and always manages to touch my heart and soul along the way. His integrity, determination, and lovable nature always win my heart. Watching him strive for his passions and chase his dreams amazes me.

And, now, he’s built us a home together on the ranch, slaved away at something I know he’s not too fond of (construction) to put a roof over our heads. His next goal is to homestead for us on the ranch, vegetables, herbs, fruits, and some livestock in efforts to create a more natural, healthy life together, and to contribute to our family.

Happy anniversary, babe! I’d never trade you in a million years and can’t imagine a life without you in it. You’re truly my best friend! 

What We Wish For…

There’s an old saying regarding be careful what one wishes for because we may just get it. In my case, I’m glad I wasn’t careful.Back when I was a teen my favorite television series of all time was “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman,” and it continues to reign as such today as I’m in my 30s. Even visiting the set and watching the filming, as my friends and I posed for photographs with the cast, and carried on conversations with Jane Seymour even, my friends would tell them how much the show resembled my life. I was the youngest of all girls (2 girls versus 5 in my family), loved medicine, had a big age gap, lived in a city on the coast and vowed to move to Colorado… LOL.

Now, here I am, at basically the same age Dr. Quinn was on the series, and find myself reflecting with the passing of my birthday year. One of my old high school friends commented upon my engagement even, “You finally found your Sully (Dr. Quinn’s love interest and mountain man turned family man husband).” My husband attempts watching the show with me and we’re amazed thinking over similarities. 

First, again, I am the youngest of girls in my family – no brothers. My sister is about 7 years older than myself. She had the boyfriends and popularity while I was noted as the bookworm, brainy one. This reflects much like Dr. Quinn herself. I grew up in the city very near Los Angeles with a modest family, often told I take after my father. I was incredibly close to my grandfather in my case too while Dr. Quinn was quite close to her father. 

Second, I always showed an interest in medicine, taking years of classes even. The only reason I didn’t go through with it was I worried about being on-call or also having the years of internship and residency before me. Yet, I nonetheless always research medical conditions and remedies and quite frequently am called upon by friends and peers to offer an opinion on the subject. One bit of irony, my husband is an LPN, and we both also display a great akin to natural remedies such as what Dr. Quinn explores with the Cheyenee Indians. Another touch of irony: I have Cheyenne in my genetics… 

I left my city life and moved out to the “west” to live in a small, rural community here in Colorado. While I’m about 2 hours south of Colorado Springs where Dr. Quinn took place, it is Colorado nonetheless and quite rural compared to today’s Colorado Springs. We have one train a day each way that comes and goes, no other transportation service available here other than car. I lived on my own and had to forage on my own for the first adjustments here, learning to handle and shovel snow, making a living here. Now, I work at a hospital, not as a doctor, but with a degree in psychology and helping people with their health needs. Our town is trying to bring in money and progress, much like what the townspeople on Dr. Quinn did.

Now, here is the total irony my husband and I considered. I met him 3 years ago after being here several years. He had just moved here (unlike Sully who was there before Michaela) but he is indeed a renaissance man. He’s cooked, he’s traveled, he’s done maintainence work, he also did trail crew in the rugged Alaska wilderness. He loves photography and being out in nature, celebrating our lands and greatly into green living. He loves Native American history. I never expected to meet him. I’d finally just accepted that I would be single. Then, here he is and he won me over. He believes in my greatly and I love it. So, at the same age as Dr. Quinn I found myself marrying my “Sully.” 

Plus, we’ve moved to a smaller but perfectly adequate house on acreage in the mountains that the hubby has built for us. It’s about the same size as the homestead Sully built for them too on the series. He plans to be our stay at home husband (father when the day arrives), working on his projects, growing herbs and vegetables, taking care of our land, working on his photography dream and he has a disposition much like Sully’s on the show as well… if a bit more sarcastically playful. 

Just gets one thinking… I apparently was careful with what I wished for, and it did just come true…

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