November 22, 2017

Thank You Notes Vol. 14

We have been spreading ourselves a little thin recently. We've had parties, sporting events and work is  bananas. I'm so excited for this holiday weekend even though I'll find myself at work on Friday. Since it's been a full year since my last thank you notes post, I figured there's no better time.

Thank you Thanksgiving dinner for giving me the best side dishes known to man. I'm in charge of veggie sides this year for my dad's. My plans are to bring this scalloped cornthis vegetarian stuffing recipe and these Brussels Sprouts. I'm pretty damn excited about it - plus leftovers.

Thank you coffee & cough medicine for sponsoring this week at work. Working in an office means being exposed to all the germs and it's disgusting.

Thank you old age for giving me ZERO reasons to go out the night before Thanksgiving. Especially since I feel like crap, I'm super excited to get into my pajamas before dark tonight and not leave my couch.

Thank you Vikings for being awesome on Sunday. We had tickets for the Vikings vs. Rams game on Sunday and it was so much fun to watch. Adam Thielen is my new favorite player. He was undrafted and he's from Minnesota. Love a hometown hero.

Thank you magical body butter for saving my super dry skin. This winter is going to be no joke for me being back in Minnesota and my skin will continue to need your help. Now if only I could find a super awesome humidifier to help with my throat, I'll be set. I'm open to any suggestions.

Thank you Bravo for always overlapping real housewives cities. I never run out of crap to watch on television. That said, we still haven't finished season 2 of Stranger Things and have a million things in our list for winter.

Thank you meal subscription boxes for allowing me to skip the grocery store often. We are able to eat good food, have zero waste and not brave the grocery store as often. I'm a big fan. Purple Carrot is the newest one we tried. It's all plant based and we LOVED all three meals they sent last week.

Thank you online shopping. Black Friday is overwhelming and I've never been one to want to deal with that. But the idea that I can support small businesses out and about this weekend and then finish up any holiday shopping with one of the millions of sales online from my couch makes me so thankful and also so lazy.

Last, but not least, I'm thankful for our MN tribe that has been so welcoming to us as we've moved back, so supportive as we've dealt with some rough times and also so forgiving that we are forcing ourselves to say no to some things to remain sane and happy. The holidays are nuts. Things get crazy. Take some time to enjoy the little moments and stay sane.

Good luck to those that have holiday dinners with relatives that have differing politic views. Bring wine, wear sweatpants and try to stay in your happy place.

November 15, 2017

On Top of the World

I swear, I'm getting to the end of the Europe photos, but I've kind of enjoyed savoring them a bit. Every time I sit down to organize one of these posts, it leads to conversations in our household about how soon we can plan our next adventure and how much fun it is. So just enjoy the photos because the Alps are magical.

One of the best birthdays we've celebrated was this past year in Zermatt. On Justin's birthday, we decided to take a few different gondolas to the top of Klein Matterhorn. They have carved out the inside of the peak so you can see the inside of the mountain and it's amazing! We were the only people in the whole place. The trick is taking the first ride up in the morning. We were joined by skiers that were taking advantage of the altitude and getting some late May runs in.

The Glacier Paradise has tons of ice sculptures, displays and even a slide. We took full advantage of having the place to ourselves. Once we were frozen, we headed up to the cafe and the lookout area. We went snowtubing on the summit. We got some coffee and just enjoyed the view. You can see at least three different countries from the top and we had such a wonderful clear day.

The experience itself was expensive, but the views can't be beat. We planned ahead for this because we knew we wanted to do something extra fun for our birthdays. Personally, I think it was worth it, but would have been even more so if we had all of our belongings and were dressed appropriately (this was before my suitcase arrived.) We could have done a little more hiking and exploring if we were dressed better. 

Do you splurge on experiences on vacation? We try to pick one thing that is special and plan for it. I'm curious if others avoid these "tourist" things.

November 13, 2017

A Feel Good Weekend

It's getting a little difficult to count the amount of times I've talked about feeling off or weird on this little space. In the last two months, we've left our favorite apartment of all time, spent a few weeks without our things bouncing from place to place, we lost our beloved Schnauzer and it's just felt so strange. I have just been sick of feeling so off.

Now it's Sunday evening and we are rewatching the end of How I Met Your Mother before it leaves Netflix. We had a weekend that felt good.

Friday night, we left work, went home and read for a while. There were Lola cuddles and left over Green Mill Pizza. We got dressed, grabbed a six pack of beer and headed over to our friend's for an evening of cheese plates, drinks and laughs. It's so nice having friends that live in the neighborhood. It's even better to have friends that don't get mad when your dog poops on their floor. Thanks Lola for showing us a new talent that we never knew you had... and another thing we have to worry about when we take you places.

Saturday morning was quiet. There was coffee, newspapers and scrambled eggs. We made plans to meet our friends and one of our favorite babies at Fort Snelling State Park just after noon. We did a little 4 mile round trip along the Minnesota and the Mississippi Rivers. There was good conversation, sunshine and a little hot cocoa. The time flew by and we found ourselves ready for a snack afterwards. We stopped at a new-to-us place in Saint Paul called the Highland Grille and enjoyed a $2.50 beer, the best brussel sprouts I've ever had and some other snacks. It's so interesting that we lived here for so long and there are so many places we never explored or tried. It makes me a little sad, but also really excited about the adventures in the near future.

After our snack stop, we tried to check out the MN Made Christmas Market at Lake Monster Brewing, but it was a complete zoo. We made a quick loop to see what stands were there, but we definitely weren't waiting in line for beers. We made the quick trip home and hit play on some Stranger Things. After watching the first episode of season 2, we fell into the black hole called YouTube and watched videos of the stars of the show on all the late night talk shows. I'm sharing my 2 new favorites here.

This morning (Sunday), we had another slow start. We finished library books, read the paper and snuggled with Lola. We did some house chores and got organized for our week. Late morning, we got ready and went out to brave the Mall of America. Justin needed some snow boots and we each had a list of items we need to fill out of wardrobe now that we have to be in an office every day and yoga pants and sweat pants aren't acceptable everyday wear. We survived. We made a loop on each floor, ate some good tacos and got out of there before it was too crazy.

We made an appearance in the afternoon at a one year old's birthday party. Whenever there is wine, pizza and cake, I'm pretty happy. Plus we got to hang with the family for a little while.

Now here we are. Lola is snuggled in on the couch and we are in pajamas. We have a fun week ahead of us with a few sporting events, a movie night and the possibility of getting a car. We have meals planned and groceries purchased. Plus we are purging our closets and everyone knows how much I love getting rid of things.

Things will probably never feel normal again because our little family is different. We are familiar with the "new normal" idea and I think we are nearing that. Things are put away in our house, we have a normal routine, we have adventures planned in the upcoming months and we aren't crying multiple times a day. We are working on the positive and the healthy.

We are finishing 2017 strong. Wishing the same for all of you.

November 8, 2017

Some Sunshine & Happiness

I have been living in the same cloud as Eeyore lately. It's dark when I leave work, it's cold as shit, Donald Trump is still president. But I was reminded earlier this week about my year of gratitude. I spent the entire year documenting #dailygratitude on Instagram and it was awesome. You can see my recap here - it makes me smile.

The last few years, I had a planner that had a spot for daily gratitude, so I was still in the practice of writing it down daily. This year, I tried a new planner and I just feel like I've lost that practice a little bit. With my gloomy attitude lately, I'm going to focus on it here a little bit this evening.

Here are the things I'm grateful for:

Our Christmas cards are ordered. We organized our props, took the photos, put things in order and got them ordered while Shutterfly had a sale happening. If you're new here, we take holiday cards seriously. We have no human children, so we fill people's mailboxes with ridiculous cards that will make them laugh. Snail mail is great and even though we strive to be paperless in many parts of our life - we love the idea of reaching out the old school way. Here is our card from last year (and yes, there's usually a poem of some kind):

 Elections happened. Reading the news today was actually happy and exciting. I read all the stories of newly elected officials that had overcome some crazy stuff, found the courage to run for office AND THEN WIN. It energized me. Now we have 363 days until the midterm elections and we need to keep being loud, respectful, loving, kind, smart and aware.

Family Matters. We have been indulging in this 90's classic on Hulu for the last few weeks. It's amazing. Plus, we learned that the original Family Matters house on the north side of Chicago is going to be torn down. Good news for you - we visited it in September and took a picture:

Not sure what that house is to the left, but it definitely wasn't there in the 90's.

Sore muscles. Weird, I haven't really done much exercise lately. You know - all the life changes and craziness makes me put my own health on the back burner, BUT I worked out this weekend and my muscles were sore for two days and it made me so happy. I'm alive, my body still works and I made myself a little stronger. Now to figure out how to make this part of a routine that already feels so rushed.

Vacation countdowns. I love that apple allows you to name group text messages. We currently have one going with our friends in Colorado and every day we update it with the countdown until we visit them. I love racing everyone each day to update the number and watching it get closer and closer. Count downs are almost as awesome for me as lists.

Christmas Shopping Lists. This year will be a piece of cake. No more stressful shopping. We are not doing gifts for the nieces & nephews this year. Instead, we are picking a two on one activity and that's their Christmas gift. Our first one is going to see Annie with the oldest niece and I'm so excited. On top of that, my brother & sister in law don't want to exchange gifts this year. We are pretty much down to just spoiling our parents and a few friends and then doing some charity stuff. It will be a fun year of gifting instead of a giant list that we try and force things into.

Our Tribe. I haven't published my Quincy post yet, but it's coming. I do need to say that as hard as saying goodbye to my first four legged child, it's been so comforting to know that we have surrounded ourselves with some of the greatest hearts in the human race. Now that I've lived through this, I definitely know what made me feel a little peace and will make sure to pay it forward. I can't thank our friends and family enough for the kindness, love and support. So many tears have been shed in this house, but a few of them were just pure gratitude.

I'll wrap it up there for today. Remember, this is the month of thankfulness. It should be a daily practice, but if you fall out of habit like I did, take a minute and show some gratitude now.

November 7, 2017

Election Day

It's Election Day.

I still remember 2016 so clearly. I woke up early, grabbed coffee from Market down the street and walked to the elementary school a few blocks away. The lines were out the door. There was a lot of energy. I waited in the line for my block, chatted for a second with the people working the desk and got my ballot. I remember standing in the booth with tears in my eyes because for the first time in my life, I was filling in a bubble for a woman to be president.

We all know what happened after that.

For the last year, I have read more books about topics I didn't understand, marched, protested, called members of government, signed petitions, subscribed to a newspaper and had countless conversations with like minded people and people that have very different opinions than mine.

Every day, the news is exhausting, depressing and horrifying to some degree. It has gotten to the point that when a town is trending on Twitter, I immediately assume there has been a mass shooting. How is this real? How can we have these problems over and over again and nothing changes?

Today is Election Day. I've researched every candidate on the ballot. I learned all about the ranking that happens on the Minneapolis ballot. I have my top 3 candidates for mayor, for Parks & Rec board and city council. I've never been more excited about local government. I'm ashamed that I used to ignore those races because I didn't take the time to understand and make good choices.

I will vote today because it's an action that I can take to help make change and get my voice heard. Your voice is loudest within your own community so if you don't use it there, you're missing your greatest opportunity.

I will vote today because I really believe that parks in the city are important to community and education.

I will vote today because I believe that the mayors and small governments in this country can keep their commitments to the Paris Agreement and I believe that they should.

I will vote today because we need to continue the conversations about the police force and how they work with the community in Minneapolis.

I will vote today because I want my voice heard. I care about education, the environment, equality and continuing conversations that need to happen.

I will vote today because I've spent the last year feeling so many things and I refuse to be quiet.

Hope you get out and rock the vote today. Be heard. Get more info here.