Friday Favorites

Christmas Books with Animals, Shenanigans, and Things That Go

It’s Friday! It’s November! Yay!

We’re spending the weekend packing, hopefully taking some things to the new house, and trying to get Bert to let us listen to a little Christmas music. If you follow me on Insta, you may have seen on Instastories that I ordered Wacey’s big Santa gift this week (not premature–you have to get your orders in early for handmade stuff!!), so I officially have Christmas on the brain. Permit me this one holiday-y post and I promise I’ll do my very best to hold off until after Thanksgiving.

Sometimes when the holidays roll around, it’s hard to live in the middle of nowhere because you see everyone on social media doing all sorts of fun holiday activities like Christmas at the zoo, going ice skating, looking at lights, going to tree farms, etc., and it’s not usually possible for us to do all of those things since a real, actual big town is two hours away, and the cows need someone to take care of them. Also I don’t know about tree farms and ice skating in southeastern New Mexico.

One thing we can do, though, is read books, and we do a lot of that. We’ve started a little holiday collection for the boys, but this year I’d like to add a couple lengthier ones since Wacey is getting into longer stories. The reason I’m posting a book guide this early is that I find it can be so fun to sprinkle Christmas in here and there before getting out the tree and going full-on Clark Griswold, and books are a great way to do that. Also, even with Amazon Prime our mail is s.l.o.w so I order everything waaaayyyy in advance since it’s guaranteed to be late and there’s a decent chance it may not show up at all.

And, if your kid is like my kid, he’s been talking about Santa and Christmas trees and watching Christmas movies for weeks and you’ve got to do something to placate that little elf until you can set up the tree and go full-on Holly Jolly Christmas. Wacey is really into trucks, tractors, and trains, animals, and silliness, so that will be the realm in which we purchase books this year!

Books Collage.jpg1/2/3/4/5/4/7/8/9

This year, I’m definitely adding a few from this list to gift to the boys with (matching, duh) Christmas jammies in a couple weeks. The tractor one is already on order because my tiny tractor fiend just about lost his mind when he looked over my shoulder while I was typing this and saw there was a tractor Christmas book. The only one we have (that I had to include because it’s one of Wacey’s favorites) is Little Blue Truck’s Christmas.

I’m limiting myself to only buying a couple every year because I keep telling myself that we don’t need three hundred Christmas books.

Am I the only one who still struggles with need vs. want, especially around the holidays? It’s an affliction, I tell you.

Anyways. It’s Friday! The guys are working on getting equipment and cattle back to the pens since the sale of the ranch is scheduled to be closed next week and errthang’s gotta go. The boys and I are trying to find the motivation to do our part and start packing while really just running around the house and trying to convince Bert to take us to go feed cows with him.

We’re real handy to have around.



Family · Fun · Personal

Christmas and 2016


Hey y’all, I’m baaack! I know you probably weren’t really waiting on tenterhooks or anything but if you were…here I am. Kidding.

Anyways. We’ve had a really great two weeks. Between Bert being able to take it slow at work and spend a lot more time at home before he gets really busy, and Christmas, of course, we are set up pretty contented and well-rested for the New Year. Thanks to my amazing mom, we even got to go out to a movie–our first in years! We saw Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them and it was SO GOOD, and so worth it to see it in theaters. We even got popcorn and drinks and oh man was it great. Also, please can I have all the clothes from that movie? Tailored coat game was *thumbs up emoji*

(Sidenote: going to the movies is expensive.) 


Christmas this year was pretty low-key, which was perfect because both Wacey and I were feeling the excess of excitement (yes, I am a child) and the lack of sleep pretty hard. I managed to surprise Bert which is always a major win, and we got to see both of our families. We were all thoroughly spoiled with both the food we had (beef tenderloin Christmas Eve, Prime Rib Christmas Day because Beef It’s What’s For Dinner) and with the gifts we received.

I also have a confession: I’ve already put away all of our Christmas decor. I know. It’s not even New Year’s! But who am I, at almost 30 weeks pregnant, to say no to an urge to clean and organize?? Also, for me the weeks leading up to Christmas are the best part, and seeing all the decorations up after it’s over can get depressing. I did leave up the outside lights so Wace wouldn’t have to go through total “la-la” withdrawal.

So. 2016. Everyone says it was the Worst Year Ever, but I think that’s ridiculous because there are a whole lotta years in not-so-distant history that were a lot worse. Lots of big, important, sometimes not-so-great things happened in the world, but that’s how every year is! There’s good things, there’s bad things, and in the end,

Our year was actually pretty amazing! We got to watch Wacey grow from a baby into the best, most wonderful, hilarious tiny human on the planet.Being his mama makes me an infinitely better person. We found out that he’s going to be a big brother and that’s a big, happy deal. We spent tons of time together as a family, and while we didn’t take a family vacation this year, we went to some bull sales, and a lot of fun rodeos to watch Bert and the guys kick butt. Wacey and I also got to go to Indiana for a wedding and to see my extended family, and that was so, so great.  I wish we all lived closer! I went to three beef industry conferences–a symposium about beef and sustainability at Colorado State University, the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, and the MBA Top of the Class training at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association in Denver–and learned so much. I also got the courage to finally start this blog, and I’ve already requested Girl Boss at the library so I can Girl Boss the heck outta 2017.

Yes, in 2017 I will continue to put things on hold at the library.

I also feel like I grew a lot personally. I still have a long way to go, but I’ll keep on keepin’ on, and that’s the best any of us can do, right?

I’ll write a post about my 2017 goals, but today I’m squeezing my boys, and being thankful for a year that was pretty darn good. We don’t have big New Year’s Eve plans but we’re continuing our tradition of Chinese takeout and a movie (Finding Dory), we got ice cream and pregnant lady champagne (aka sparkling cider), and donuts for tomorrow morning. We won’t be staying up until midnight, but I can’t imagine a better way to ring in the new year than snuggled in bed, fast asleep. #pregnantmamadreams

Happy New Year! Have a wonderful evening, whether you’re out on the town or home with your people. 2017 is going to be great!

Celebrate · Fun

Cowgirl Gift Guide

So, Christmas is in four more sleeps, y’all! I know it’s a little late to be posting a gift guide, but I know a number of people who haven’t finished (or maybe even started!) their holiday shopping. With the help of a good friend, I put together this handy-dandy gift guide for cowgirls, ranch wives, and amazing women everywhere!

It takes a lot to wear as many hats as most women do, and gifts that help her stay organized, look and feel good, and make things more convenient are always a win. If the person you’re shopping for is a working cowgirl, check out the ideas for custom gear on my Cowboy Gift Guide.


Heart of the Farm Planner: This is a farm-specific planner, and it’s beautiful and functional. Some others I love: The Anchored Press Devotional Planner (I got the gold stripe for 2017), the Kate Spade planner (for the gal who loves a little glam and a good sale as it’s hugely discounted right now!), and this planner from Etsy (for the gal who loves to customize and organize everything).

Pretty Note Set: Beautiful paper products are lovely to have around, and this set from Vera Bradley has several different sizes of sticky note pads. Plus, one thing I’ve learned? If it’s pretty, the guys will be less likely to steal it.

Rifle Paper Co Notepad: If you (or your gift-receiver) is anything like me, she forgets things unless she writes them down, and loves to make lists. This handy dandy notepad is perfect for either one of those things, plus it’s really pretty. I like pretty.

Let’s talk barn stuff. Many of the ranch/farm women I know spend their fair share of time in the barn, whether it’s working cattle, taking numbers and notes, lambing, kidding, calving-you name it, they do it. Here are some things to make that barn life a little better.

LL Bean Hunter’s Tote: I wish I had known about this sooner, because I would have put it on my own wishlist! This would be great for hauling anything–bottles, notebooks, laptops, much food–to the barn or anywhere, without having to worry about it getting beat up or ruining another bag. I love the zippered top, and how sturdy it is. They don’t have many colors to choose from, but I’d jazz this up with a monogram in a fun color, like bright pink or maybe lavender or teal. Not puce, though. Basically I want these for every member of my family for when we travel. Dreams.

North Face Tech Gloves: These would be great for taking numbers and notes at the chute or any other time when you need a lot of dexterity. Thin enough to hold a pen, but warm, and you don’t have to take them off to answer your phone, or maybe pull up your online database for info about a cow.

Stormy Kromer Petal Pusher Cap: Stormy Kromers have ended up on all of my gift guides, and we can’t leave out the girls! I’m a sucker for a floral detail, so I love this style, but they have something for everyone (if you’re in a really cold place, this earflap model might suit a little better). If you’re not into full-blown hats or prefer to wear your hair high up, try out one of these messy bun hats!

Carhartt Coat: I love my Carhartt coats, and I love the look of this slightly longer one. It comes in more colors than your standard brown or tan, and you can trust the quality since it’s Carhartt.

Space Heater: This is for the gal who has to stand or sit by the chute in freezing weather. I’ve frozen many a hiney (or rather, my hiney many times) doing just that, and it always makes for a miserable day. It gets cold when you don’t get to move around a lot, and a space heater will keep you (and the crew, by extension) a much happier camper. I chose this tall one so that you get warm air from your toes to your nose, which sounds so great!

Now, every girl likes to have things that are functional, but let’s talk about stuff for when y’all go to town!

Bean Boots: These were on my list this year! I get tired of wearing my muck boots or Sorels to town, but often something waterproof and sturdy is necessary. I think these are a great compromise! A tip I got: get them unlined, so you can wear them both in the fall/spring when it’s warmer without sweating your feet off, and also in the winter with wool socks. Plus, lifetime warranty. Roll on over to Pinterest for how to style them!

Johnny Was Duster: Every girl likes something luxurious and pretty to wear to town, and a duster/cardigan like this one would go beautifully with everything from a dress to jeans.

Boots: Ohhhhh, boots. Everyone loves boots. I love these boots. I want these boots. They are beautiful. That is all. I will lust after them until they go on sale, in which case I will hope and pray that they have my size.

Whipping Post Vintage Tote Bag: Another thing every gal loves? High-quality leather bags. I received this exact bag for my birthday a few years ago and it is one of the prettiest things I own–I get compliments every time I carry it. Now, if the lady you’re shopping for has a baby, or will, get her one of these beauties. I treated myself to the Meggan last year, and it was such an excellent purchase. High-quality, tons of pockets, and four words: converts to backpack carry. Pricey, yes, but it doesn’t look like a diaper bag and the quality is so great  so  I’ll be using it (and my Whipping Post bag) for years. Or forever. Probably that. If it ain’t broke, and only gets better with age…

Now, sometimes things don’t fall into one category or another. Here are a few things that are for all aspects of life!

Seche Vite top coat: Not all gals like having painted nails, but for the ones that do, this is primo. It makes manicures last a week with no effort, even through barn work. Grab some Essie (available at Target and the Walmarts since rural America has yet to understand about Target) and you’re really on top of things.

Pendleton Flannel: Beautiful, warm, high-quality, and can go from the barn to town in a cinch, provided it’s not covered in poop or other bodily fluids.

Wild Rag: A gorgeous, feminine wild rag is one of my favorite things. It adds a little girly to barn attire, and dresses up a coat or vest at the barn or in town. Bonus if it matches that Pendleton 😉 Double bonus if you get a pretty rag slide to go with.

Yeti Rambler: Whether you’re a tea drinker or a coffee drinker, a good go cup is a must. I love the seafoam color, and the fact that you can get monogram decals from about a million shops on Etsy. Again, too pretty for the boys to steal, hopefully!

Now, after all the time put in wearing all those hats, it’s nice for a girl to have some comfy, pretty lounge clothes to change into when she gets home!

LL Bean Mocs: We usually get ourselves a small something with a tiny portion our tax return (because this year the big portion will be spent on Brother, #reallife), and these might be what I treat myself to this year. I seem to be very hard on moccasins and have worn all mine out, and I would really love a new pair to wear when I’m in the hospital in March. Also, again with that LL Bean lifetime warranty!

Handy AF: this shirt cracks me up. I kind of want one but feel funny getting one for myself. Whether you are (or your gal is) handy with a rope, or with a calving book, or with kiddos, or just life in general, this shirt is the perfect amount of brag. This is also a great gift for a friend who is needing a little pick-me-up, because every gal is Handy AF at something, and a reminder is nice!

Lounge pants: These are just pretty and look so comfy. Every gal needs (or would like) a pair or two of lounge pants that are a step above jammies but aren’t leggings. I promise. These specific ones are no longer available, apparently, but you get the idea.

Coffee Then Cows shirt: This was on my list this  year because I just love it. I’m not into graphic tees, really, but I like this one because it’s pretty much true. It’s truer for Bert than me as mine would read “Frappucino or Black Tea, Wrangle Children, Then Cows,” but that’s not quite succinct enough for a good tee.

I’ll be taking a holiday break from blogging for a week or so to enjoy the last bits of 2016 with my boys. But, I’ll be back in 2017 with so much good stuff y’all–Stock Show and the start of calving season both happen next month,and that’s a whole lotta pretty cows and fuzzy calves to share!


Celebrate · Family · Fun

Little Cowboy Gift Guide


Shopping for little cowboys is a lot easier than shopping for big cowboys, but as a mom I know I appreciate reviews and recommendations for toys that kids will actually play with! We don’t go toy-crazy in our house, mostly because Wacey only likes a few toys and because he’d rather play outside or with a bucket or Tupperware.

And also because I hate cleaning up mountains of toys. Full disclosure, here.

Anyways. Here’s a list of tried-and-true (if not by us, then by someone I know) toys, clothes, and other things that would be great for the little cowboy in your life!

John Deere Tractor: I found one of these for Wace on a Facebook swap page (for $8, #momwin!) and it’s one of his most played-with toys. Inside, outside, upstairs, downstairs, he plays with it everywhere!

Toddler Stormy Kromer: This falls into the “something they need” category, especially if you live in a cold area. As Wacey gets older, I appreciate so much tiny versions of adult things, both because they tend to be made better and because he loves wearing things that are just like Daddy’s, which makes it easier to get him dressed. We got one of these for Wacey this year (we got the largest “toddler” size, for reference) and I’m hoping he’ll be enthusiastic about actually wearing it!

Little Blue Truck: We have all the LBT books and they are Wacey’s favorites and have been taped back together so many times. I wish there were more!

Rody Bouncy Horse: This is solidly in the “fun toy” category. We got one for Wacey last Christmas, but he’s only now really gotten into it. They’re pretty much a ranch kid staple, and seem to be made really well. You can even get little bucking chutes so they can practice their bronc riding skills!

Cowboy Small: This is the only book that is more beat up and read more frequently than Little Blue Truck! I love this book because it’s authentic, and a definite classic, with fun illustrations and short, simple words.

Toddler Armchair: Wacey is getting this for Christmas and we are so excited to give it to him, as he’s really into sitting on the sofa or in chairs. It’s a “something they want” and a “something they need.” It seems to be made pretty well, and is a great value compared to other toddler armchairs, plus the “pony” print is adorable. It seems to come in and out of stock on Amazon, but it’s also available elsewhere.

The Original Cowboy Toy: This has been requested by my husband as a gift that he and Wacey would both enjoy, so it will probably end up under the tree sometime in the future. It’s a great, inexpensive toy that apparently is for boys of all ages, though maybe not a destructo-toddler boy 😉

Duck Boots: Wacey has these exact ones (thanks, Mom!) and they are awesome. He wears them with thick wool socks, and they keep his feet warm and dry and aren’t completely hellatious to get on like some other boots.

Kids’ Rope: Every cowboy needs a rope, right?

Livestock Flag: When Bert’s parents asked what Wacey would like for Christmas, my answer was “A flag and a bucket,” because he really does need his own set that aren’t disgusting. He loves carrying his flag at the barn to “help” the guys, and plays with the feed buckets in the barn when he’s helping Bert with chores, or you know, for holding rocks and dirt and other treasures. In my experience, every kid needs a bucket!

Lil Quad Four Wheeler: This is Wacey’s “big” Santa gift this year, he rode on at my in-laws and had so much fun that we couldn’t not get one. He always wants to go on the real four-wheeler with Bert (again, tiny versions of adult things seem to be a major hit). If you’re in the market for one, I scored one on for a really excellent deal!

Resistol Cowboy Hat: Every cowboy also needs a hat! Wacey has one very like this one, and it holds its shape and has held up to some pretty rough toddler treatment.

All-Over Ointment: I know kids don’t care about lotion, but even little cowboys get dry skin and need some help every now and again. This is our favorite, favorite lotion for Wacey’s dry, patchy, eczema-prone skin and we have tried them all. If you live in a climate where you need a Stormy Kromer, you also need this lotion. Plus, it’s a mom-run company! 

Little People Farm: Wacey got this as a first birthday present from my mom, and it’s still one of his favorite toys! It’s also great to help kiddos learn animals names and sounds, and it makes not-too-annoying noises.

Cowboy Boots: Rope, hat…and boots! Wacey grew out of his first pair of boots and has been asking to wear them, so it was time for a new pair. I found these incredibly reasonably-priced boots on Zappos, and they seem to be a good buy. They have a real leather upper (necessary, folks, don’t bother with the fake stuff), and side zipper to make getting them on easier, and they don’t look stupid. If he likes them, I’ll probably just go ahead and buy more sizes as he always needs boots that fit, and Little Brother can wear them, too!

Little People Tractor: A perfect addition to the Little People Farm, and again, a very played-with toy.

Carhartt Overalls: We gave these to Wace early when it got frigid and we all went out to chop wood, and they are great! I’d size up–he’s a bigger kid, but still pretty normal, and there’s no way the 2T would have even come close to fitting. The 3T has plenty of room so that he can wear it over clothes, with room to grow. I’ve heard the Oshkosh ones are warmer, but these seem to be more durable, which is what we’re after. Plus, again, they look like Daddy’s!

Pickup and Trailer: Again, just like Daddy’s. They make different models of pickups, too, so if you’re a Dodge family like us, they have one to match 😉

Feed Bucket: See “Livestock Flag” above. Plus, at that price, you can have one for inside and outside, which is ideal. (“That’s what we said, Bob, we looked at this big ski lodge and said “isn’t it ideal?”)

There it is!




Celebrate · Family · Home · Personal

Decking the Halls

If you’re anything like me, you love seeing the inside of other people’s houses. Have you ever been walking or driving at night, and come across a house with curtains thrown open, and lights ablaze? It’s hard not to look in, right??

No? I’m the only incorrigible snoop out there? Ah, well, there are worse things to be. It is hard, though, being a snoop in a rural area, because that’s pretty much trespassing.

Anywho. Here’s what our house looks like this Christmas. One thing about working for a ranch is that housing is typically part of the package, and we don’t get to choose where we live. (We don’t, however, live in one bunkhouse with the entire crew, as my OB had thought, based upon the bunkhouses in old westerns. For this I am very, very thankful. I mean, our crew is great, but is any crew great enough that co-habitating sounds excellent? Likely not) I’ve lived in five different ranch houses, ranging from just-barely-modernized homestead cabin to triple-wide modular to our current house. This one, though? I never want to leave. It has excellent bones, and although it’s in need of some upgrades, it’s such  a great house. It started out as an original homestead cabin, too, but has been added onto three or four times in the hundred-plus years it’s been standing (judging by the dates on the cemetery behind the house), and is perfect for what we need.

And, you guys? It has three bathrooms. Having had just one, three is a dream.

As far as our Christmas decor goes, you’ll find nothing white, nothing matching, and nothing Pinterest-worthy, but gosh is it cozy of an evening with the lights on and the woodstove blazing. I also don’t decorate every room, as much as I’d like to. I have in the past, but with a toddler running around and a belly in the way, I opted to simplify a little this year.


dsc_0693This is my favorite part of the house this time of year. There’s a sofa and a TV just out of the frame to the right, and we’ve spent so many pleasant evenings up here after Wacey’s in bed, cozy by the fire (and lately, watching the NFR!). I also like to snuggle up here in the morning before the boys are up with my Advent devotional–it’s magical. PS–did you catch that there are four stockings? I got one for littlest bub this year to make sure he’d have a matching one (these are super affordable from World Market–their stock leaves pretty fast, but they have an adorable fair isle one on sale right now!) and I couldn’t resist putting it up. I plan on embroidering everyone’s names on them someday, but figured I can have a pass this year since we’re keeping LB’s name a secret until he’s born!


dsc_0721…these actually stay like this all year, lights and all, much to my husband’s chagrin. He says twinkle lights are for college, I say they are for every day of every week and are appropriate for literally every occasion. I’m considering bringing several strands to the hospital delivery room. I’m not kidding.


My grandmother has been gifting us pieces of this nativity for the past several years, and it was finally completed last year. I seriously love it. It’s the first thing to go up when I decorate, and the last thing to come down.


dsc_0717Wacey has recently learned about noses, and yells “NOOOOOOOOOOSSSSSEEEEEEEEEEE” whenever we go past the nutcrackers. Apparently their olfactory appendages are particularly impressive.


dsc_0703I made actual cranberry garlands this year, and sealed them with acrylic so they’ll last a couple of years. It was a pain to make them, but I’m really happy with how they turned out!

dsc_0691One thing that’s kind of lovely about this house is that the ground-floor bedrooms (it’s kind of a split level) get a little sun in the morning, but stay pretty grey most of the time, which is ideal for toddler naps and resting during the day. However, it doesn’t make for a great picture, but you get the idea!

The top picture is the window in our bedroom, the bottom is one of the windows in Wacey’s.


Not pictured: the disaster that is my exercise con gift wrapping room that is literally brimming with so much Christmas cheer I have to jump over all of it to get to the treadmill. It’s festive, and just a little bit dangerous.

There’s more Christmas-y things sprinkled here and there–apparently I have a penchant for holiday handtowels–but nothing too crazy. Someday I would love to have real greenery everywhere instead of artifical, and do more in the playroom (we will have a kids tree down there next year, since we have a spare smaller artificial tree we don’t use), but we’re off to a cozy and festive start and I just love it. Of course, it’s all made more magical by the toddler running around exclaiming over the lights and the ornaments like he’s never seen anything like it in his life.

Merry Christmas, indeed! I hope your gift wrapping situation’s middle name isn’t Danger like mine is.

Celebrate · Fun

Friday Five: Gift Wrapping

I love wrapping gifts, just like I love sending and receiving Christmas cards. Basically, paper goods are one of my love languages. I get everything ordered/bought, and once it’s arrived I put it all away in the guest room (or in a sneakier locale if it’s for Bert, as he isn’t as easily fooled as a toddler, bless him). I set aside an evening or two to wrap in the light of a Christmas movie and the tree, or, in this year’s case, in the light of a Christmas movie and, well, regular lights, since the tree is upstairs, Wacey sleeps upstairs, and for whatever reason the sound of paper always wakes him up. In years past, I’ve wrapped everything and then put the non-Santa/Christmas morning/super obvious gifts under the tree, but again, toddler. So I wrapped a bunch of empty boxes and they’ll be placeholders for the next, oh, ten years or so.

Also in years past, I’ve really put a lot of thought into wrapping gifts, and did a sort of theme each year. This year I’m going pretty basic as the boys could care less how their gifts are wrapped, but I do love gorgeous wrapping paper and am happy to lust at beautiful and festive wrapping from afar. I love things that are simple, colorful, and not too fussy, but are a little more than paper and box.Or a bag. I’m kind of against gift bags for stuff that gets left under the tree for a long time, because it makes it waaaaay too easy to peek, and I’m all about the element of surprise.

Not because I ever peeked at my own gifts inside gift bags, of course.

Although, for those oddly-shaped, don’t-fit-in-a-box gifts, give me allll the gift bags.

Letter tags: I think this would be so great for older young kids to help them figure out whose gifts are whose (provided everyone’s name begins with a different initial!) Plus, glitter and baking twine are two of my spirit animals. I might go so far as to try this for some gifts this year. I know, I know, slow your roll, Martha Stewart.

PS–can you imagine what Martha Stewart’s gift-wrapping is like? In my mind, it’s so lovely.


Buffalo Plaid and Kraft Paper: I kraft paper and buffalo plaid is pretty and festive and rustic, even without the evergreen topper. I also love mixing patterns, so throwing in another pattern would work here too! You could use any plaid with this, too, if buffalo isn’t your style.


Sharpie Labels: Again with the kraft paper, I know, but it’s vintage-y and simple, comes in giant rolls, and is thicker than regular paper so you never have to worry about sharp corners poking through. It makes a great neutral canvas (yes I just used “neutral canvas” to refer to gift wrapping), and the red ribbon is simple, easy, but also elegant. I like the idea of writing the name of the recipient directly on the paper–it eliminates the whole gift tag step, and is informal and fun. You could also do this with a chalk pen!


Jingle Bells: Isn’t this the cutest bow alternative?? It adds just a little something extra, to quote Elle Woods, and bonus points it you color-coordinate it to your outfit. You could go gold, silver, or colorful depending on your decor, and vary your sizes if you’re really looking to win at the wrapping game. I think this would be exciting for little kids, too–Wacey LOVES bells, and if nothing else it might buy you a little time on Christmas morning.

Actually, I’ll take my own advice here, as I have several too-large-to-choke-on bells in my Christmas stash. Of course, the ultimate toddler packaging would involve some lights, too, and something that buckles or zip. Basically, a light-up backpack with a bell tied on. Do it.


Mixed Patterns and Plaids: How fun does this look?? My mother-in-law gifted me with some beautiful wrapping paper for my birthday, and I mentioned that it was almost too pretty to just be ripped apart on Christmas morning. My father-in-law said “Why don’t you use it for the fake presents under the tree so they stay wrapped?” and basically, he’s a genius. Like I said above, I’m not putting actual gifts under the tree until the Johnston household is a toddler-free zone (soooooo in the next decade ha) and I love this idea with the different plaids and patterns, it fits our whimsical (okay, juvenile)-yet-traditional vibe to a T. Plus, it won’t seem so futile to make things pretty if I keep bringing them out year after year! I still haven’t found the perfect plaid paper (okay, I haven’t looked, but when we went to get wrapping paper Wacey spent the entire time using his roll as a stick and getting pretend cows up like he does in the barn, so we weren’t exactly in perusal mode)


Now, if wrapping gifts isn’t your bag (see what I did there?), or can’t be because you have a house full of tiny destructive tornadoes, I feel you, because sometimes I just want to put everything in trash bags and hand it over. They do make mint-scented trash bags (to repel varmints), so that’s pretty festive, right? I remember asking my mom if I could help wrap presents and her being like “YES! In fact, you can do it all by yourself!” Now I see what you did there, crafty lady.

Celebrate · Fun · Personal

Cowboy Gift Guide

Happy holidays, it’s December, so here–have another gift guide! I’m sure your blog feed is flooded with them, but if the fella in question is anything like Bert, he’s pretty darn hard to shop for, and probably doesn’t have a Pinterest of things he just stumbled upon online and just loved so much, so maybe one more won’t hurt?

To be fair, this year Bert did give me an actual list, which I promptly emailed to his dad since it was all leather tools and way out of my sphere of expertise. I’m happy to report that I’m now significantly better-informed about various tools and their purposes, and managed to track down some really great things. At least they sound really great!

If you’ve got a cowboy in your life, or a guy that’s into western or outdoorsy-type stuff, I put together a little gift guide for him.

All of the items on this gift guide have been gifted to Bert in some form or another, or he purchased it for himself. Custom bits, boots, hats, and spurs are also great options, but obviously much more pricey and person-specific, so I didn’t include those. If you are looking for those sorts of things, we recommend Jayson Jones, Cowpuncher, Beck’s Boots, and Powder River Hats.



Hot Chillys Long Underwear: Bert loves these! They’re not too expensive, and I’ve washed his one pair at least once a week all winter long for gosh, five years? Maybe more? And they look like new. Minus the fact that the tag is faded beyond all recognition. I should follow my own advice and get him another pair! They’re warm but thin enough that they can be worn under his jeans.

Wild Rags: These are a staple for wintertime, and between the two of us, we have like, 30 or 40. I’m not kidding. You tie them around your neck and they keep the wind and snow from blowing down your shirt. These are great (if unconventional) for the skier/hunter/winter hiker in your life, too–we don’t leave the house without one all winter! There are tons of different places to buy them, and you can also make your own like my mama does, especially if you have a Serger. 100% silk are our fave–they keep you warm without making you sweat, but I’ve found imitation parachute-silk-like polyester that works really well, too.

Fixed Blade Knife: Boys love knives. It’s a known fact. Again, you can find these at many different places, made by many different people, with many different options and styles. The one pictured is the actual one that is on my husband’s person all the time, literally. His uncle made the knife, and his dad made the holster, I’ll link to his dad’s site because he does beautiful work!

Roper Gum Sole Chukkas: Bert and I both have these exact shoes, and they are SO comfortable, and would be appropriate for town and country guys alike! We both (and half the crew) tend to wear them on cow working days because they’re a lot more comfortable to stand in at the barn than regular boots. If you’re looking for a deal, hunt around–I found mine for $27 on eBay!

Yeti Rambler Tumbler: I’m sure you’ve heard of Yeti coolers, but they also make tumblers and water bottles and things! This one keeps beverages ice-cold or hot-hot for like, a thousand years or something. Bert mostly uses his for water in the summertime when he’s horseback, and also? It’s dishwasher safe, and tough tough. #win.  Of course, you could go the whole hog and just get him a Yeti cooler, but if you’re not prepared to spend hundreds of dollars, I recommend this route. If you do have that kind of money to burn, want to send over one of those new seafoam green Yeti coolers to my house? Great, thanks!!

Softshell Jacket: The guys LOVE these, and they all have more than one. They’re so versatile! Once again, everyone and their mother makes  these, from Ariat (pictured) to Patagonia. Costco makes a really nice, inexpensive one, too. My tip: don’t dry these, just wash and lay flat or hang dry. Drying makes them fall the heck apart and it’s pretty sad.

I’ll Drop You Off Devotional: If you’re wanting to focus more on the reason for the season, or simply have a guy that enjoys devotionals  or is needing a departure from the traditional ones, I highly recommend this one. Bert and I both have a copy, and it’s really unconventional but wise, easy-to-understand, and relatable, even if you’re not a cowboy. It was written by the manager of the Bell Ranch before he passed away from cancer this past fall, and it’s really a neat take on the good book from a really amazing person.

Contigo Go Cup: We have a thousand of these. Okay, not a thousand, but when they all show up at once in the dishwasher (or sink, or the mudroom windowsill) after being stashed in tractors and pickups, it feels like a thousand! I put these instead of the Yeti cups because they’re a lot more affordable (Costco has GREAT deals on them), and if you have a husband who’s hard on go cups like mine is, then that matters! They keep things hot literally all day, do not spill (seriously, even when rolling around on floorboards or being smushed under a tractor seat), and fit in a cupholder. Also, they come in more colors than the Yeti, so you can differentiate between his and yours, so yours stay pretty and dent-free.

Scotch Cap: A must have for a guy that’s out in the cold all winter. These are basically a wool baseball cap with a flap to keep your ears warm, so the Luke Danes staple of the winter!

Moccasins: It’s no fun having cold toesies in the house, so mocs are basically a necessity in the wintertime, especially since muddy and snowy boots come off at the door. L.L. Bean’s (pictured) are AMAZING and last forever, but we’ve also had good luck with Minnetonka.

Jeremiah Watt Ring Snaffle: Obviously this isn’t the greatest gift if your fella isn’t horseback (unless he’s into equine decor projects), but these are great basic bits that every cowboy should have in his arsenal. Bert has a few, including this one, and uses them particularly on our young horses but also on a couple of the older ones that are…young at heart? Okay, mostly Asa because he’s a goob but he’s my favorite goob. Reasonably-priced but well-made!

A good jacket: this Schaefer jacket is on Bert’s wish list this year, and is a great choice if your dude likes to wear jean jackets–it’s cut pretty similarly, without a lot of the bulk of say, Carhartt jackets, and Schaefer is great quality stuff. This particular model comes both lined and unlined, in a couple different colors, and is a unique take on the canvas coat. That being said, Carhartt is also a great option, and they offer so many different styles and colors! Again, it’s all about the style and fit he’s going for.

Shawl-collar sweater: Bert lives in these in the winter, and I have a few myself. Keeps your neck nice and toasty (especially with a snazzy wild rag), but can be worn on its own to town or what have you, and are a simple, classic style. We like the wool/cotton blends (although cashmere is heavenly), as they can be washed and dried–dry-cleaning is just not happening round these here parts! This one is from Amazon, but my mom has found so many great ones at Kohl’s! This is a great option for any guy, since they fit so many different styles.

Leatherman: Again, boys and knives. This is a great gift for any guy ever, and you can get so many different models based upon what he might use/need it for. Bert’s has a bottle opener, multiple screwdrivers and knives, a little saw thingy, and probably like a hot dog skewer or something too. A multi-tool comes in handy anywhere from an office to the woods, so you really can’t go wrong. I should actually get one to keep in my diaper bag! Seriously though…

Happy December!