April 21, 2012

Clinking Drinks & Little Surprises

It brings me so much joy to see my friends enjoying themselves in St. Paul.  As I mentioned, my friend, Joe, moved last weekend to St. Paul and he joined us last night for a little patio time.  The sun was shining and we sat and clinked drinks to celebrate a nice little Friday afternoon.

I'm sure people get sick and tired of my endless love for St. Paul and the fact that I talk about it at least once in every social gathering, but I truly feel that it's completely underrated.  I am well aware that there is little nightlife in downtown and there is no baseball stadium or football field, but there are lots of Irish pubs, beautiful parks and history.  Have I sold you yet?  If not, don't admit it, because I promise, I will not stop.

On that note, I think I should get weekly checks from Keurig.  I have convinced 4 people to purchase these lovely coffee machines and have planted the seed with at least 3-4 more people.  I know that it seems like a waste of those little cups, but you can buy an insert so you can pour coffee grounds into the cup and you don't need to always buys and use up so much plastic.

Rewinding one more day, Katie found out some great news that isn't quite public yet to the world, but we decided it needed to be celebrated, so Annika & I planned a small surprise for her on Thursday evening.  We made a plan to meet across the street from her apartment at around 6:45, but I secretly went over there at 6:00 and Annika had strung streamers throughout the hallway and living room.  We put together awesome glow-stick glasses and made a "finish" line in the hallway for her to run through.  We had jalapeno poppers, taquitos (obviously, I didn't indulge in those meaty little rolls of amazing), red velvet cupcakes and Honey Weiss.  Annika got a little concerned about Katie getting a paper cut on her eye as she ran through the streamers, so we taped this to the front door:

I have not been so giggly and nervous for a long time.  We heard her keys jingling and started to panic, good thing we hit record on the camera.

I've said it before and I'll say it again.  It is the little things that can be game changers.  It's the flowers you buy in the dollar section at Target and the 4 inch Ivy plant with a good luck balloon stuck in the dirt.  We laughed the whole night and had such a good time being ridiculous, and it's safe to say, Katie won't forget this for a long time.

Cheers this weekend to April Showers, Awesome Coffee & a new found love for radishes that I acquired yesterday as part of the "Fancy Greens" salad I ordered from the Liffey.  Congrats to Katie!

April 15, 2012

Rainy Sunday Morning

Good morning St. Paul.  I regret to inform you that I'm cheating on you today with your bigger bully of a twin, Minneapolis.  Don't be too upset.  We gathered last night and clinked glasses to welcome Joe Peters to his new neighborhood of Lowertown St. Paul.  His apartment looks down over the Farmer's Market and is only a few blocks from some of my favorite restaurants.  I'm so happy to welcome another friend to this side of the river.

Today, we are heading to Minneapolis to support at least one local Como Park boy.  A few friends started Fulton Brewery a few years ago and they recently opened a brewery/tap house that you can visit and sample beers in the warehouse district of Minneapolis.  We have enjoyed trying the different beers you can find in the bars around here.  I think it should shape up to be a nice little Sunday afternoon.

We are staying strong with no meat and we did watch another documentary about eating a plant based diet called Forks Over Knives:

This was almost as amazing as Life in a Day that we watched last week.  There were so many different facts & figures throughout this documentary, but the one that sticks out the most to me is regarding cancer & genetics.  For the last couple years, I've had this feeling in the back of my mind that tells me that no matter what I do, I'm going to get cancer because it's in my family.  In this video, they said that only 1-2% of cancer cases happen because of genetics alone.  The rest has everything to do with what people expose themselves to and put in their bodies.  Plant based diets can help with so many different ailments and make a person feel better all over.  Even my husband has been meat free for the last few days and if you know him, you know how hard it is for him. 

Aside from meat-free life, the topic of the Lowe's commercial was brought up again last night.  My husband has always said that this commercial reminds him of me.  Not the having children part, but the fact that the woman in the commercial jumps out of bed and starts dancing.  My husband claims that this is me every morning.  At the same time, I'm convinced that my husband should adopt the old man's style once he gets older.  I have to admit, this is a great commercial.

So, enjoy your rainy & cloudy Sunday.  Dance a little this morning, eat a lot of plants and maybe even enjoy a local beer somewhere.


April 11, 2012

Becoming a Vegetarian

It is April 11, which means I have been a vegetarian for 11 days.  My goal is 30 days, but I have a feeling that this may be a lot longer than that.  I have fun into a few struggles.

On day 1, we helped Justin's grandparents move and his parents ordered pizza for everyone to eat.  All three pizzas had meat on them, so I ate Doritos and drank a Bud Light Lime.  There have been a few other moments since then, but so far so good.  I made my first ham ever for Easter and couldn't try it, but I heard it was pretty good.  I received chicken breasts that I ordered months ago for a fundraiser came in on day 6.  Justin also breaded his own chicken strips, which I was also sad I couldn't try.

Another big struggle for me has been eating food other than cheese, bread and sugar (none of which have meat.)  I have tofu to try this coming week.  I've been doing OK with fruits, but I am lacking in vegetables.  I love vegetables, but it's just hard to eat them all the time.  The second half of my 30 days is going to include more new recipes involving different kinds of vegetables.  I have the Jessica Seinfeld book where she purees different kinds of vegetables and uses them in regular cooking, which I might try as well.

I did yoga for my first seven days as well so I could start introducing my body to that feeling.  It is amazing how you feel when you let your body and breath listen to the instructions of the teacher.  My husband laughed and told me I was turning into my college roommate who does a lot of yoga and has been a pescatarian for quite a few years now.

Justin and I have been watching this documentary from National Geographic, Youtube, Ridley Scott & Tony Scott where they asked people to film their life for a day on July 24, 2010.  It is incredible all the different perspectives you see.  Relating to my 30 before 30 list, they show a cow getting killed and it was one of the most horrifying things I've ever seen on camera.  It made me never want to eat any sort of beef.  The documentary is only 90 minutes and they cover births, love, fears, death, children, families, violence and life.  I strongly recommend this because it makes you think about many many things and become very grateful for things you have and very sad that you will never experience some of these places in your life.  One man has been biking around the world for 9 years, has been to 190 countries, hit by a car 6 times and in surgery 5 times for those accidents.  They show people in a lot of pain.  It's touch to watch at quite a few points, but I'm glad we gave it a shot.  There are amazing people out there who find peace and happiness in things that don't cost a dime.  Life is about experiences.  Good luck.

In the meantime, I'm back to taking this all in and eating vegetables. The movie just got over and I feel like I'm still holding my breath.

April 4, 2012

Smaller IS Better

There are many people who thoroughly enjoy getting huge gifts for their birthdays and anniversaries and holidays.  I am not one of those people.  I really prefer small things randomly throughout the year.  Does that mean I would turn down a brand new diamond bracelet or a brand new car?  No, it does not.  If someone asked me if I would rather have that or a small box of Jacques Torres chocolates, I truly believe I would take the latter.

Gifts can be a dangerous thing in some relationships.  People don't like show-off's, so you have to be careful that you're not getting something that people will feel guilty receiving.  Gifts should always be sincere and thoughtful.  (Remember, this is just my opinion.)  I enjoy taking time to pick out gifts for my friends and family.  I enjoy opening a card in the mail that has a funny picture on the front that perfectly describes my relationship with the sender.  It makes my whole day when my husband picks up my favorite drink at Starbucks and leaves it on my desk with a post-it note.  One of my mom's friends made me a special batch of her Christmas cookies that she knows I love and she dropped them off at my front door one day... it was the most thoughtful thing in the whole world and I smiled the rest of the day while I ate the ENTIRE bag.

Last night was another great example.  I went with Holly and her girls to the Mall of America to visit Sealife MN because teachers got in free and their guests were only $5.00.  After the aquarium, we went to dinner at Noodles & Co and then walked through Nickelodeon Universe (Kenzy went on the log ride with her mom - so brave.)  We stopped back at the Aquarium so Holly could get a free membership for the year and the girls were pretty tired.  They were being such good sports about waiting in line.  We ended up following Kennedy into the gift shop because she wanted to explore.  She kept picking up a bright orange stuffed turtle that had big, blue eyes.  Kenzy was playing with the same toy, but a blue sparkly version.  No one was asking for anything or throwing a tantrum - remember, we're talking abotu a 3 year old and a 15 month old and we were nearing their bedtime rapidly and we had been walking around the mall for a few hours.  I grabbed both toys and threw them up on the counter to purchase them.  $22.00 later - both kids were so excited about these new friends they were bringing home and they were running to show their mom.  They both snuggled with the turtles the whole time we were in the car on the way home.  That tiny little gesture meant a ton to both of them (even if they forget about it the next day) and it made me happy at the same time.

I urge everyone to take 5 minutes in the next few days and purchase something little online or at the store to gift to someone.  If you're standing in Walgreens and a magazine cover reminds you of a funny story with a good friend, buy it and give it to them.  $3.99 and it will be something that they can appreciate.  People like to know that you're thinking of them and in the age of Facebook and Twitter - reaching out with something tangible can mean the world to someone.  I know they say that love is the best gift of all and I know deep down that that is true, but I do feel like sometimes you need to show someone in a different fashion and I don't believe that super expensive gifts or gifts of money are the ticket.

"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give." - Winston Churchill

April 1, 2012

Ever-Changing Saturdays

Saturday is the one day each week that is never the same routine as the last week.  Every other day of the week has a certain routine.  Sundays involve a nice slow morning with some reading and coffee, a workout of some sorts during the day and some laundry.  Wednesdays include bingo or happy hour somewhere and the same meetings during the workday that the last Wednesday had.

Saturdays are more of a mystery.  Last Saturday, Katie & I dropped my mother off at the Half Time Rec and had a bloody mary.  12 hours later, the same things were happening at the same place except there was loud music and dancing.  We had a blast.

This Saturday started with my taxes, downloading new music and coffee.  We coordinated with some friends and went to the Lowertown Bulldog and enjoyed some bloodies, beer, coffee and hot dogs.  I am beginning my 30 days of being a vegetarian and also my 30 day yoga challenge.  All I wanted was a hot dog from the Bulldog.  It was a great group of friends and we chatted and had some lunch and some beverages and caught up.  Our waitress was one of a kind.  She was packing heat... literally.  She put her leg up on the wall to show us.  Here we are in downtown St. Paul in the artist's area and our waitress is a self-proclaimed redneck with a loaded gun.

The best part was the reaction:
Notice Emma's nervous laughter...
After lunch, we headed up to Blaine because we had babysitting duties.  We brought Maddie over to Holly's and had dinner with all three nieces and had some catch up time with Holly as well.  This even included a Taylor Swift dance party in the dark.  When a three year old is planning your evening, weird things happen.

So, I went from this last Saturday:

To this last night:

So, as much as routine is important in a person's life, I really enjoy having Saturdays as a free day, a different day each week.  It brings variety and adventure.  Enjoy your Saturday.