August 27, 2012

MN Week Part 3

We wrapped up a week of Minnesota pride with a nice little weekend.

We enjoyed a beautiful day outside yesterday morning at the Farmer's Market.  We bought fresh apples, raspberries, baby bite size cucumbers and a fresh bouquet of flowers.
We followed it up with a good hearty lunch at the Lowertown Bulldog.  I continued patio fun with Katie & Annika throughout the afternoon and had an awesome Pizza Luce dinner.

So, I'm wrapping up this awesome week with a list (I know, so typical) of things I recommend doing if you are making a visit to the Twin Cities during the summer:
  1. Outdoor baseball - either the St. Paul Saints or the Minnesota Twins
  2. The MN State Fair - everything at least 3 things on a stick
  3. Visit the St. Paul Farmer's Market and wonder around Lowertown
  4. Hang out by the river - there are at least 5 awesome parks that are on the river and you can enjoy picnics or walks or whatever you want
  5. Find a boat and get out on Lake Minnetonka
  6. Patios, patios, patios - find as many as you can.  Some of my favorites are The Liffey, McGovern's, Burger Moe's and W.A. Frost.  The best part is 3 of those are within one block of each other.
  7. Go to Como Zoo - it's free and it's awesome
  8. Eat Walleye and enjoy an ice cold local beer
  9. Take a Sunday drive down Summit Ave
  10. Visit a museum - the sculpture garden in Minneapolis is awesome because it's outside
As we leave Minnesota week, we enter wedding week.  Justin & I are celebrating our 4 year anniversary on Thursday and then celebrating one of my best friend's marrying her college sweetheart on Sunday.  It's going to be a busy week but I'm so excited for them and so grateful that they've asked me to be a part of their big day.

August 26, 2012

MN Week Part 2

The celebration of all things Minnesota continued and we had a blast.

Wednesday night, we enjoyed a breakfast hotdish including eggs and fake sausage and lots of green peppers.  We used freshly grated cheese that I picked up in Wisconsin (I know, epic fail on the MN week.)  Hotdish is the signature food here in Minnesota.  You can actually purchase a hotdish cookbook.  Out here in the MN nice state, potlucks are extremely popular and bringing a hotdish to a potluck is just second nature for most.

We also finally enjoyed a bottle of wine from Winehaven that we purchased last year on our anniversary.  Check out their website.  Or even better, go see them in person.  There aren't too many things better than a nice fall day at a little family owned vineyard.  They are very knowledgeable and extremely friendly and they have a good selection of wine.  If you like sweet wine, this is definitely your place because they make some honey wines that are pretty tasty (although a little too sweet for my taste.)

On Thursday night, we did what every person in the country should do at least once in their lifetime - we went to the Great MN Get Together.  It is the state fair located here in the Twin Cities for those of you who didn't know.  It is the largest state fair in the country as far as daily attendance.  It lasts for 12 days and always end on Labor Day.  The total attendance in 2009 was equivalent to 34% of the entire state's population.  Trust me, this is a big deal.

We got to the fair around 4:30 and met up with Justin's sister and her whole family.  It was a much needed reunion because I was starting to go through withdrawals from all 4 Johnson's.  The girls had gotten their fair-do's and were just running around and having a great time.

You should see the amount of toys these kids had in bags.  They go every year on the first day of the fair and they put in at least 10 hours.  That's just crazy, but it's an awesome family tradition.  I like to go for a little while two times to eat the food that I want to eat without feeling like a balloon walking about the fair grounds.  From them, we were able to get our hands on some cookies from Sweet Martha's - a state fair classic.

After we wandered from them, Justin and I grabbed a beer and watched some people.  This event is one of a kind for people watching.  You think it's fun in Times Square?  I promise, you haven't seen anything until you come to the MN state fair.  My personal favorite is watching for families that are dressed alike.  My favorite this time was the family completely in bright orange jumpsuits and they had written in Sharpie on the backs "yes, we are all together."  

We met up with Brady, Kelsey and two of their friends shortly after our first beer and we headed to O'Gara's for some Blarney Beans or Leprechaun (deep fried green beans.)  They were delicious.  Also, the best part about O'Gara's at the fair?  They have the best bathrooms on the entire fairgrounds.  They are clean, indoor and air conditioned and there isn't really ever a line.  Obviously, we had to take a picture in the bathrooms.

After O'Garas, we stopped for Cheese Curds and Corn - conveniently located 1/2 block away from each other.  Brady & Justin stopped for a photo at the giant slide (a must at least once in your lifetime.)

We tracked down mini donuts after that and headed to the free show at the Leinie's Lodge.  I regret to inform you that this was not a MN band, but they were fantastic anyways.  The band is called Dawes. I'm including my new favorite song of theirs as well as a photo that my co-worker/photographer friend took.  Please check out his website too - he is a pretty talented kid.

It was perfect.  It started to rain right at the end.  Justin & I ran through the rain to get my dad his favorite fair food - a hot turkey sandwich.  We get him one of those any time he gives us a ride there.  It's only a few miles from our house, but our bikes don't have headlights so it's nice to have someone that can give us a ride.

Friday night, we hung out at home and watched Young Adult which is a movie that is based in Minnesota staring Charlize Theron.  I wasn't a huge fan of the movie.  Justin liked it a little more than me.  It was extremely awkward and he likes that kind of stuff.  I didn't hate it, but I just didn't get much out of it.  Saturday, we spent the day just lounging and enjoying a weekend that doesn't require a lot of activity.  We saw The Campaign in theaters and enjoyed the rainy Saturday afternoon - caught up on a lot of reading and a little bit of cleaning.  

Today, we will be finishing up our MN week with a trip to the Farmer's Market and possibly even a bloody mary at our favorite St. Paul weekend lunch location, the Lowertown Bulldog.  

I will wrap up my MN week with a post tonight including all my favorite MN summer things to do - even though I didn't get to all of them this week.  

August 23, 2012

I love lists.

I realized recently that I have a weird obsession with lists.  I use them for everything and the feeling of crossing the last item off your list feels great and horrible at the same time.  Horrible because it means your list is done - great because you get to make a new list.  I understand and acknowledge this is a problem... there are worse obsessions out there.

My best friend is getting married in less than 2 weeks and she sent me the list from and I got excited.  She has almost everything completely under control, but knowing that I might get to help her cross one thing off her list was thrilling.


I know that I have a few people in my life that are tired of hearing how awesome I am... I mean, how excited I am about my 30 before 30 list and that's OK.  I completely understand what it's like to feel lost without a purpose, so I'm making an attempt to help :)  I had a blast helping my friend, Janna, come up with her list a few weeks ago and now another friend, Chelsea, has decided she wanted to come up with one.  Here are my recommendations for creating a "list" of things to do (doesn't just have to be a 30 before 30 - it could be a 37 before 35 - you get my point.)

  1. Make sure you can afford the things you place on your list.  I think putting at least 3 free things on your list is helpful - finish a project you've started, walk around a new neighborhood that you've never been to, complete a fitness goal you've been thinking about.
  2. TRAVEL - be prepared to bust out of your comfort zone.  It is so exciting to experience places that you've never been.  Pick something EXTREMELY random and be specific about it.  For example, I wanted to see a Broadway show in Times Square and it was awesome.
  3. Include your significant other or close friends.  Take them somewhere that you absolutely love.  Share a hobby that they think is weird and help them appreciate it.
  4. Include your family.  If you have parents that you love & respect (or grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles...) then you will feel your heart get happy by doing something for them or with them.  
  5. Learn something new.
  6. Try something in the food or drink category.  The Food Network is extremely helpful in this regard.  
  7. ROADTRIP - always include a good road trip.  If you've never sang Sister Christian while driving down a two lane highway, then you really haven't lived... seriously.
  8. Inspirational - include something religious or inspirational.  Attend a service at a church you've always driven by or wander around and appreciate the latest art exhibit at a quiet museum.  Take some time and dig deep inside and find some inner peace.  It's not the easiest thing to do for everyone, but you may discover something you never knew calmed you.
  9. Put one thing down on your list that may seem impossible, but you know exactly what you need to do to work towards that goal and even if you get to the end and it didn't happen, you are able to confidently say that you did everything you could and you had fun doing it.  (plus, it gives you the first item on your next list.)
  10. Did you write down some "free" things?  Awesome, now bust open your piggy bank and grab all the money you haven't already spent travelling and treat yourself.  What a fantastic way to end your list.  

Need inspiration?  Check out the rest of my blog.  I share my own list and my adventures surrounding it, along with my husband and my best friend, Katie.  Happy Listing!

August 22, 2012

MN Week Part 1

When you don't really anything exciting to blog about, you make up your own holidays.  It's a new thing I'm starting and so far, it's pretty awesome.  I am a person that functions off of lists.  I am absolutely obsessed with them.  I love the feeling of crossing off the last thing on a list and moving on to the next one.

On Monday morning, I wrote a SUPER lame blog post just because I hadn't in a while and I was a little ashamed of myself.  I decided that I needed to find something to write about.  Being a St. Paul girl, I figured that Minnesota is something that everyone wants to read about and anyone that is missing Minnesota or looking to find out if it's a place they should have on their "states to visit" list would be interested to hear my favorite things about MN.  I will sit down to compile my list at the end of the week and summarize my findings.  In the meantime, I'm out to discover as many awesome things about Minnesota as humanly possible in one week.

Monday - I came up with this glorious idea, so I instantly set my Pandora to Prince.  He is an obvious choice for MN musicians and I have a special attachment to the song, Raspberry Beret.  My mother clearly remembers listening to it on her way to the hospital on May 24, 1985 (my birthday.)  For dinner Monday night, Justin & I decided we needed to kick off the week with a walleye sandwich so we went to McGovern's and had Summits & Walleye and enjoyed the beautiful August weather while sitting on one of our favorite outdoor St. Paul patios.

Tuesday - I started off my day with a nice kick ass gym session (totally irrelevant, but I'm proud of myself) and then jammed out to Bob Dylan for the majority of the morning.  It was a crazy day in the office with quite a few organizational changes, but the most exciting was Justin's promotion to regional manager.

We decide to celebrate with a MN beer happy hour on our patio.  We had Finnegan's, Crispin, Surly & Fulton Beer.  Fulton beer is one of my favorites since it has a neighborhood connection.  One of the guys I worked with at Creamy Cone is one of the founders of Fulton Brewery so it's extra special to visit their building and support their business.

Justin made a special dinner.  It was somewhat of an experiment but it worked out BEAUTIFULLY.  He grilled some Morningstar Veggie Burgers on our grill and used the side burner to fry eggs.  Once the burger was done, he topped it with blue cheese crumbles and then laid the fried egg on top to let the blue cheese melt.  You throw that burger on a fresh bakery whole wheat bun and spread avocado on top.  I will have to ask him to name the burger so I know what to call it... for now, I'll just call it FREAKIN AWESOME.

So, the rest of the week is still up in the air.  Stay tuned to find out what other adventures I find for myself.

August 20, 2012

Happy Monday

Happy Monday to all.  I am working my first full week of work in over a month.  My husband & I have a lunch date together in less than 30 minutes and I can't wait.  I am extremely excited about a "normal" week with 5 days of getting stuff done at the office and at home and then a full weekend with absolutely nothing on the calendar.  It feels marvelous.

The Great MN Get Together starts on Thursday, so Justin & I might bike there and eat some food and check out some weird items.  I also really want to see The Campaign.  Nothing too crazy though for plans.  I also booked our mini anniversary vacation to the North Shore for the week after Labor Day.  We leave with our dogs for 4 days to enjoy quiet time on the beautiful shores of Lake Superior.  We plan to do some hiking, some biking and some kayaking along with some wine drinking and some fresh walleye dinners.  15 days and counting...

August 16, 2012

Busy, Busy, Busy

I have been insanely busy with weddings and work.  I'm a lucky girl to get to celebrate with all my favorite people almost every weekend in August or September.  I will be posting my favorite photos from my sister in law's wedding on Sunday when I get back in town.  The photos turned out awesome.  Last weekend, we celebrated with Mr. and Mrs. Scott Peterson down in Rochester at the Rochester Art Center.  We had so much fun at the reception and the afterwards.  It's awesome to have all the bulldogs back together.  The guy friends I had in college have picked the best girls and I have had so much fun getting to know them all.  Here are a few of my favorite photos from the wedding last weekend.

This weekend, I am headed to Hayward, Wisconsin for Anna's bachelorette weekend at the Smith family cabin.  We are going to have an absolute blast with all the girls.  I'm so excited to hang out by the lake, maybe light a fire and make some s'mores.  Oh yeah, and I made some awesome mix tapes :) More soon...

August 2, 2012

Wedding Season 2012 Begins

My sister in law is getting married on Saturday and the festivities begin this evening with the Fling before the Ring.  I rented a room at Toby Keith's for about 19 of her closest friends & family.  I have done an ecard countdown on her Facebook wall and I'm very excited to celebrate with her this weekend.  I am also really excited that the majority of the Gregerson family will be in town.  Kelly & her boys are coming to the cities and they are staying a few extra days so we can do some fun things with them, like boating & the zoo.

Here are the 4 ecards I used for Nicole.  I love

Happy wedding Nicole & Brian!  Thanks for letting me be a part of your special day!