February 29, 2012

Snow My God

It's been a quiet winter here in Minnesota.  We have only shoveled three or four times.  Every time it snows a little bit, it melts before I can grab the shovel.  Last year, we lived through a few of the biggest snow storms in the world.

Here are a few photos from last winter's crazy snow:

Snow has actually deflated the Metrodome.  It was awesome and amazing.  So, when we heard that we were getting the storm of the year yesterday and today, I was a little bit excited.  I love seeing the snow pile up.  Shoveling is therapeutic for me.  I race Justin outside each day so I can be the one that shovels.  I was very excited this morning to run out and have 6 inches of snow.  Instead. it was a whole lot of slush with 2 inches of pretty snow on top of it.  I just hope this doesn't ruin our spring.  No snow = no water = no flowers?  I love winter, but I only love it as much as the rest of the seasons.

Today is also a day that only happens once every 4 years.  There isn't really that many exciting things about Leap Day.  It is Ja Rule's birthday.  That is pretty awesome.  On a sad note, Marsha Brady is crying today because Davy Jones passed away today.  Rare disease day is also February 29th.  So, I'm excited to have this day over with.

Tomorrow, we head to the Big Apple.  I will have lots of photos and stories with that experience.  Happy Slushie Leap Day.

February 26, 2012

Happy Oscar Day

So, I know I have already professed my love for Sundays.  I think they are the best day of the week.  Today is Oscar day which is a very special Sunday in this house since we love movies.  I have a few favorite dresses of the evening:

I also LOVE how many red heads there are out there this year.  Emma Stone is even wearing red which is totally crazy to me, but she looks beautiful.  Bradley Cooper has a horrible mustache as well... it has to go.

My day today was pretty close to perfect.  I woke up early this morning to a wonderful cup of coffee and I read my book for a while.  The dogs were extra cuddly today.  I had a few errands to run, so I threw on a sweatshirt and headed out in the windy but not too cold day.  Forgetting that stores don't really open until 11 AM, I stopped at Starbucks and had the BEST surprise.
 Quick side note:  A few months ago, my sister-in-law told us a story about listening to the Christian radio station in the Twin Cities and they talked about "drive thru difference."  A cup of coffee or breakfast meal doesn't cost very much money, so you pull up to the window and offer to pay for the car behind you.  It is such a small thing, but can really make a difference in someone's day.
So, anyways, today I pulled into the drive thru line behind about 4 cars.  I ordered a grande caramel macchiato and got my total and pulled up to the window and automatically pulled out my card and handed it to the nice, young man.  He handed it back to me and said the person in front of me covered my coffee.  I was so taken aback by this gesture.  I've done it a few times before and it actually makes me giggle wondering what kind of reaction people would have when they were told that their morning "cocktail" is covered by a complete stranger that has already pulled away.  Here I was, not sure what to do... so, I asked if he could just put the next person's drink on my card.  He smiled and laughed a little and said that I was the third person in a row to do that.  What a small little chain of events that hopefully left everyone a little happier for today.  It sure worked for me.

So, advice today... wear awesome dresses, have red hair and buy someone coffee.  Happy Sunday to all.

February 21, 2012

Lower Bathroom Update

So, I put all the rooms in a cup and let Justin pick one out.  We started with the lower bathroom.  That doesn't exactly have a lot going on as far as clutter, so instead, I'm finally posting our before and almost after photos for the bathroom remodel.  We haven't quite finished absolutely everything.  We need to install the bath faucet and put the vent back on.  I'm also keeping my eyes open for some wall art.  I did scrub the toilet extra good, bleached the tub, cleaned the sink and new faucet, organized the vanity cabinets... I even rolled the towels.

Here is the 3 before pictures of our bathroom with dark green tiles, old fashioned white tiles, a large vanity and medicine cabinet:

We spent less than $750.00 and got a new vanity, new sink, new faucets, new flooring, new shelves and a new mirror.  Justin ripped the tile off the floor and wall and put up new drywall.  We painted the trim and the back of the door a pretty white color.  We put up bead board on the walls and painted it an off-white color.  We painted over the brown color on the top half of the room with a light and clean looking yellow color called Upside Down Pineapple Cake.  Here are the almost after photos:

Tomorrow will not be as easy, especially since I will be up at 3:45 AM to bring my parents to the airport so they can take off on a jet plane to Costa Rica.  I can't wait to see pictures from their trip.  They are taking a river cruise on Thursday morning with my Godparents.  I'm sure my father will meet some crazy characters at the shanty on the beach that sells beer for a dollar.  Uno Cerveza, por favor.  Have fun!

February 18, 2012

Happiness Quest

On my happiness calendar this week, there was instructions to ask yourself 3 questions.
  • What do you actually do when you have some free time?  Really examine it.  Be honest.  

I think my answer to this depends on how much free time I have.  I have a few vacation days to use this spring with Justin and a little extra money, so we are taking a 5 day vacation to New York City to wander the streets.  We want to check out some museums and new restaurants, but more than anything, we want to wander the city.

Getting in the car for an impromptu road trip is another one of our favorite things together when we have a few days and no plans.  Even when we have just a few hours of free time together, it's nice to get out and walk around.

I love the farmer's market in the summer and followed by a cocktail at a bar we've never tried (or one of our favorites.)  We also try to catch movies during the cheap ticket times on Sunday mornings.  Spending time with our nieces is always fun when we have a free day open because it allows us to participate in child activities that we wouldn't normally do alone, like dying Easter eggs, going to a pumpkin patch or catching fireflies in mason jars.

If I have some free time by myself, there are a few things that I always resort to.  I love curling up in my pajamas with a cup of coffee (with or without Bailey's) and a book.  It's the best when it's raining or snowing out and everything is quiet, including my dogs.  I also love sitting on our patio or at the kitchen table and having a glass of wine and catching up with a friend either in person, or over the phone.  If you've never had an over the phone happy hour, then you are really missing out.  I like to read blogs and news websites.  I love to sit and watch reality television and page through trashy magazines.  Sometimes with free time, I will go to the gym or go shopping, but those aren't quite as high on my list.
  • When was the last time you planned any kind of celebration, big or small, for someone? 
I don't think I can actually count our impulsive celebration of life for Whitney Houston the other night.  I can't really think of a specific time recently that I have planned something for someone.  I surprise my husband with things all the time, like yesterday, when I gave him an M&M dispenser that had Hans Solo on the top of it.  As far as celebrations are concerned, this will be a great year to put some effort into planning celebrations for others.  Both my sister in law and one of my best friends are getting married, so we will get to plan bridal showers, bachelorette parties and other fun get-togethers to celebrate.
  • Which of your possessions gives you the greatest happiness?
This is going to sound bad, but my dogs give me great happiness.  I know they aren't really possessions, but I felt like that sort of fit.  Also, my camera gives me happiness because I love capturing the moments and then laughing about them days later.  I also love my Keurig coffee maker for the convenience it provides plus the tasty cups that it gives me each morning.  I love the comforter on our guest bed.  I love everything in my linen closet.  I stash all my extra candles, soaps, lotions and blankets there.  It's impossible to keep organized, but it's always fun to pull everything out and find all the treasures that might have slipped to the back.  I know it seems like such a small thing, but I love having candles that smell like the season.  Roasting marshmallows is a flavor for fall that J & I buy each year.  

I think checking in with yourself every once in a while is important.  It made me happy just thinking about things that make me happy.  This happiness calendar was an interesting choice for me.  Each weekend, it gives two resolutions to consider - an example "Choose not to take things personally."  That example made me think long and hard today when I wanted to be offended that a coworker sent me a nasty email.  Deep down, I still think it was meant to offend me... I'm choosing not to take it personally :)  Right next to that on my desk is a family photo from my wedding of my parents, my husband and I.  On the other side of my desk are pictures of the girls and one of J & I at Fenway Park.  Surrounding myself with happy things makes for a happier me.  Just a reminder of some of my favorite things:

At the Children's Museum for a Sunday Funday 
At her Momma's Birthday Dinner

BEST facial expressions.

February 15, 2012

Remembering Whitney Houston

So, I felt it inappropriate to instantly write my thoughts about Whitney Houston.  It's not like I have ever met her or worked with her.  In all honesty, she was not an inspiration to me in my life.  I will say that her voice is amazingly beautiful and many of my favorite memories living with Emma in college happened while listening and dancing and singing along to her songs.  If anyone was a fan of Whitney Houston, it was my roommate.  Two nights before my wedding, we went to the state fair and had the best day ever.  Towards the end of our day, we sat down to have a beer at the beer gardens and watch karaoke.  Emma made the mistake of using the restroom and Mary & I signed her up for one of Whitney's greatest hits, I just want to dance with somebody.  Emma was not impressed when she got back from the bathroom and realized what we had done, but when she hit the stage in front of 250 people, she totally rocked it.  It was the most unforgettable wedding gift I received.

Trust me, there are many more memories that involve hairbrush microphones and a coffee table stage in our small but cozy living room in the "owl's nest."  I loved watching her music videos at friend's houses as a preteen.  We did not have cable and I did not have access to MTV.  We also didn't have access to the Internet as freely as now.  Kids should be happy that they can see the latest Katy Perry or Lady Gaga video within seconds.  I am also happy now that I can catch a good old fashioned Whitney video with a few taps of my fingers.  Here is one of my favorites:

So, as much respect and awe as I have for Miss Houston, I feel as though our response was a tad inappropriate, but it fit the relationship that I have had with the Queen of Ballads.  Mr. Peters was checking his twitter and saw Drake tweeting a simple "RIP Whitney."  Our table instantly whipped out our smart phones and started googling.  Much to our dismay, we discovered that it was true.  Whitney Houston had been found in her 4th floor room of a Hollywood Hotel in a bathtub.  We were shocked at first, and then felt only right to celebrate the life she had and the impact she had had on each of us.  We took a shot of liquid cocaine (I told you it was inappropriate) and each sang our favorite Whitney Song and then toasted her and her beautiful voice.  I definitely sang out proudly a few of my favorite lyrics: "Give me one moment in time, when I'm all that I wanted to be..."  After our small memorial ceremony in the middle of the Muddy Pig at 6:00 PM, we decided that we must head to uptown to our favorite karaoke bar.  There were quite a few Whitney songs sung and the whole bar sang along.  It got a little emotional at times, but I will say that I was proud to know the lyrics to so many of her greatest hits.  I spent Saturday night with a few of my best friends and definitely the people that I would have wanted to celebrate the life of the one and only Whitney.

The group reacting to the news
Me & Annika
Singing Peace Train... Not quite Whitney, but still AWESOME
Patrick & Mary singing I Will Always Love You

Katie & I - always seem to be causing trouble.
I love my husband... and pizza.
These 2 are so fabulous and wonderful... we had at least 15 pictures from this conversation.

Rest in Peace Whitney Houston - August 9, 1963 – February 11, 2012

February 6, 2012

Mondays = Lame

Monday is my least favorite day of the week and I'm sure that almost everyone would agree with me.  I had such a fun weekend and that just makes getting up on Mondays EXTRA hard.  I have a meeting right away at 8:30 AM each Monday, which I have to rush and get ready for.  I know I could be prepared Friday before I leave for the day, but it is sometimes really hard to get focused and remember the tasks from the week before.  Each Monday that goes by, I feel myself understanding Ron Swanson more and more...

On a different note, I had a wonderful weekend.  Friday night, as you saw, we went to support Katie at the bouncing team tryouts.

Saturday, my Grandma & Mom came to see me for a little while and then I bundled Quincy up in his Marty McFly vest and brought him to my dad's outdoor hockey game.  He coaches the St. Paul Blades - which is a High School Varsity Team made up of students from 7-8 public schools throughout the city.  From the game, I dropped the dog off and picked up my husband and a few friends and we made the trek downtown for the Torchlight Parade (a.k.a. Vulcan Victory Parade.)  My sister-in-law and her family came down as well and we watched the whole parade and the cheesy acted out fight scene between the Winter Royal Guard and the St. Paul Vulcans.  The weather was beautiful.  It was so awesome to have so many different things to do outside that night.  We headed to Wild Tymes after the parade to watch some live music and hang out for a while.  We made it until midnight... dicey I know.

Sunday, we had a date with Kenzy, our 3 year old niece, to go to the Children's Museum.  They have 2 new exhibits, one called Grossology about bougars, vomits and other nasty bodily functions, and the other new one is called Storyland, which allows children to walk through some of their favorite stories.  We had so much fun and were absolutely exhausted by the end of it.  On the car ride back to her house, I had the funniest conversation with this extremely intelligent 3 year old:

Kenzy:  Auntie Steph, I have a lot of secrets to tell you.
Me:  Are they your secrets?
Kenzy: They are everyone's secrets.
Me:  Do people tell you secrets a lot?
Kenzy:  No, I'm a good listener.  I hear other people's secrets.

I had to do everything in my power to not laugh out loud, but I immediately warned her mother when I dropped her off.  This kid probably overhears a lot and now has more power than a 3 year old should have :)  The fact that she is extremely cute with big blue eyes and blond curly hair doesn't help.  Once we dropped her off, Holly invited us to stay for the beginning of the Super Bowl.  We had so much fun laughing with the kids, drinking a few beers and eating Wyatt's dinner.  He used Tomato Basil Soup instead of marinara sauce.  It was awesome mixed with noodles and chicken.

The Super Bowl was lame and the Giants suck.  Madonna did a decent job.  Her new song sounds like it was written for Miley Cyrus.  There were a lot of pom poms flying around.  LMFAO made an appearance and was comical as always.  Nicki Manaj is always fun.  It was definitely better than the Rolling Stones were.  The  commercials were pretty funny.  My favorite was the M&M commerical:

Tonight is our second go at Films with Friends evening.  Our category is adapted screenplay and the votes are still coming in.

February 3, 2012

When Your Friend Bounces

We just returned from witnessing one of Katie's "30 before 30" items.  She tried out for the St. Paul Bouncing Team.  This is the team that throws girls up in the air during parades.  This team started in 1886 with the very first St. Paul Winter Carnival.  Watching the tryouts was really cool, but for Katie, participating was even cooler.  She was a little nervous, but held herself together VERY well and did such an awesome job.  I am so happy we talked her into this, although it wasn't very hard.  I am so happy that she did it.  She flew super high.  She came in 5th out of 13 girls and they only take the top 2.  There is a little bit of politics involved in this judging and they made that pretty obvious, but Katie did awesome.

Here is her warm up video.  Reminder... SHE HAD NEVER DONE THIS BEFORE:

Here is the video from the 2nd round.  During her first bounce, she was a little off and decided to do the running man while in the air, but her second jump has perfect form.  She was eliminated after this round and the finalists were chosen.  We didn't stay to watch the end, but we will see the winners in tomorrow evening's parade.  At least she tried something new and was able to "fly" in the air :)

Katie has knocked one thing off her 30 before 30 project.  We worked on our lists after the competition at Great Waters Brewery Company.  There are a few "naked man" moves and a lot of travel and extreme sports, but it is so fun to talk about.  I think it helps everyone erase the anxiety that comes with getting older.  Setting goals is really important.

Tomorrow is the torchlight parade and after all of our efforts, we will not be involved in the parade at all, but we gave it our all.  Instead, we get to be on the sidelines and watch the amazing St. Paul past time that is the Winter Carnival torch light parade.  Hail Vulcans.

February 2, 2012

Perfect Way to Start the Day

This quote this morning could not have been more appropriate after the week I have had. I am so lucky to be surrounded by awesome people. We had so much fun looking for that silly medallion and even though we didn't win this year... we had one hell of a laugh!

February 1, 2012

Picking Up the Pieces

Hiding the Medallion

The video above shows the Clue Writer (my best friend & worst enemy) when they actually hid the medallion this year.  Yes, that means it's been found.  I shot out of bed this morning ready to go hunt.  I checked the 11th clue and that's when I saw the article.

Heartbreak doesn't exactly describe my feelings.  I was a little relieved, really sore & tired and all of a sudden, really excited for next year.  I had so much with my all my friends and we even gained a few new noodlers for next year.  Katie found a few new treasures that she will be able to laugh about in 5 years - that's more than money in some ways.  So after all is said and done:

11 clues in 11 days
25 hours of digging in 7 days
6 parks - 4 of them were brand new for me
$0.00 richer

Another successful medallion hunt...  Thanks to all for helping us with noodling, feeding us & giving us warm shelter, providing important tools like headlamps & newspapers and for all the good laughs.  Now we are on to the St Paul Bouncing Team and getting Katie one of three spots.