November 30, 2012

Home for the Holidays

Now that the holiday season has kicked off, we have already seen a few of our favorite out of town friends as they come home to spend the holidays with their families.  Other than my brother, our immediate families are all in the Twin Cities, so we are able to see them often.  Our friends, on the other hand, are located all over the country (and world for that matter.)

Keith & Whitney came straight from Hawaii the weekend before Thanksgiving.  Somehow, we got roped into a Thursday night outing.  Yikes.  We started at Joe's Lowertown apartment and then headed to a few of our favorite Lowertown establishments.  The Gopher Bar was a great choice with the cheap beer and Whitney's music on the jukebox.  We danced and sang songs and took lemon drops.  It is a fun group and even though we usually only get together once a year, it's always a good time.



The next night, we had a girl's slumber party at Kirsten's.  Tido was in town from Colorado and so it was fun getting all the girls together.  I met a few new ladies and we had some cocktails, played some games and ate a taco feast.

Growing up, I always thought I was a guy's girl, but now that I'm older, I don't think that's a real thing.  I think it's an excuse because meeting new ladies is sometimes difficult and uncomfortable.  Guys aren't any easier, they are just different and there's no real competition with them.  I've recently realized that I have so much fun meeting new girls.  This slumber party was no exception.  I don't think I've laughed that hard in a while.

My camera only captured three photos that night, but someone else was able to snag a group photo before things got too out of control.  Oh yeah, and we watched Magic Mike, but just the scenes with dancing.  I think Channing Tatum is attractive, but the dancing isn't really that exciting for me... just entertaining.





Just this last weekend, we were lucky enough to catch up with Andy (in town from Chicago) and Caroline (in town from Washington.)  Andy did his usual get together with his 70 closest college friends.  I was kind of glad I had to call it an early night because usually hanging out with that group leaves me sick for days.  I was happy to see Caroline too and find out that she's home for the whole month of December :)

Just when I think I've heard from or seen all my out of town friends, I receive a FB notification today that Amy has posted a video on my wall.  It made my whole day.  She is currently teaching in South Korea and we only get to see her once a year (if we're lucky) and we'd love her to move home soon, but in the meantime, a surprise note every once in a while will get me by.  Here's what she wrote:
I just posted this same vid on Brady's wall, and I thought... I bet this would make Steph smile.  To be honest, I have no idea if you were ever an NSYNCer, but since we see eye-to-eye on so much else... I thought that this random Xmas tune would start your day off right.

Love her.  I have great friends.  So, for that, I'm super grateful.  I now must pay it forward and find another ridiculous holiday video and post it on someone else's wall.  Happy Friday!

November 27, 2012

30 Day Photo Challenge

I added a few things to my 30 before 30 list that would not be too crazy or expensive.  This was one of them.  It's something I see on Twitter all the time, but had never participated in.  I decided to rope in Annika, Katie & Justin as well.  Annika is the only one that actually finished with all 30 pictures.  The whole challenge was focused around gratitude.  Here was the list:

Here are some of my photos:

Smile
Leaves
Morning Skies
Favorite Color
Inspiring Person
Nature
Something Old
Hands
Written Words
Animal
Memories
Best Friend
Seasonal
Where I Sleep
Clothing
Gratitude
Transportation
Daily Routine
Nighttime
Light
Self Portrait
So that's that.  It was a fun little challenge.  It's fun to have these pictures on my phone to look at every once in a while.  I think we are planning to put the photos together and put them up somewhere. Helpful reminders to be grateful.  Here is Annika's collage:


And to end today's colorful post, the quote in my calendar today was from "The Buddha":
Set your heart on doing good.  Do it over and over again, and you will be filled with joy.  A fool is happy until his mischief turns against him.  And a good man may suffer until his goodness flowers.

November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Traditions

Traditions are important to families.  My family has been tightly holding onto the Hauer family traditions since my grandparents have both passed.  It's tough, but we get as many family members together as we can on Thanksgiving to have a big meal and watch a little football.  This year was no different, except for the preparation part of the meal.

We started a new tradition this year on Thanksgiving morning.  My mother needed assistance cooking a turkey, so I figured this vegetarian needed to add some comedic value to the affair.  Justin & I purchased 3 bottles of champagne and 2 large jobs of orange/mango juice.  We got up and started preparing food.  We turned the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on and poured ourselves some Mimosas.  We opened our front door and had all the neighborhood gang stop over as well as my brother & Jen.  We were lucky enough to be able to Skype with Jerry this morning as well.

New traditions are important because they allow you to include things you love into your yearly routine.  I had such a good morning watching the parade, cooking and catching up with family & friends.  Who wants to wait and celebrate Thanksgiving at dinner time?





So after a morning of searching for the giblet, the turkey was finally cooked.  Thanks to Jen for a huge helping hand (and forearm).  We headed to my parents house with a 12 lb turkey, 2 crockpots full of cheesy potatoes, scalloped corn and 2 pies.

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner with a few of my uncles and some of my cousins and my immediate family.  This was my first meat-free Turkey Day.  I ate so many vegetables coated in butter, some stuffing and of course a slice of my cousin's birthday cake.  





After dinner, the snow started falling and it was the perfect lead in to my favorite Thanksgiving tradition.  Since I was in high school, I have always watched White Christmas on Thanksgiving night after dinner and for the longest time, I watched it by myself.  The first year that Justin & I were dating, we left right after dinner and headed up north to the Larsmont Cottages to spend Thanksgiving weekend with just the two of us.  I filled him in on my tradition and it turns out that he had never seen the movie.  We watched it together that night with Lake Superior right outside our window and a fire in the fireplace.  It has been a really fun way to get into the holiday spirit and relax after a big meal.  


Tonight, the movie is playing as I reflect on another awesome holiday with my family.  I am a very lucky girl with a really fun family.  It was a little weird to not see any of Justin's family today.  It was his first ever Thanksgiving without his parents.  They are having their own weekend away relaxing and I am super happy for them.  



Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.  Here are the things I'm thankful for this evening:
  • An awesome family that enjoys each others company but can tell it like it is when necessary to help challenge one another to be better people.
  • The best husband in the world, who puts up with my family and thoroughly seems to enjoy himself in their presence.
  • My other family that has taken me in as one of their own - they were very missed in our lives this Thanksgiving.
  • Our friends - near & far - for always being around to have a good time and be supportive of our endeavors and wanting to be a part of our lives.
  • Technology - being able to see a friend today that is halfway across the world and away from his friends & family serving our country.
  • My dogs - just because they are awesome.
  • Our home - even though there are things I am jumping at the chance to change, it is nice to have a place to come home to each day and feel completely comfortable.
There are a million other things, but I'll leave it at that.  Plus, my favorite part of the movie is coming up.  Happy Thanksgiving to you & your families.  Hope you enjoyed some good food today :)

November 20, 2012

When your friend gets Hermit Crabs...

Saturday morning started out with Kettle bells like most Saturdays should.  We were late to class and I feel like we paid for it because the teacher watched us more than anyone.  We dropped my mom off after class and went on a mission to find lunch.  We ended up at Shamrock's after a tour of St. Paul.  It wasn't brunch, but it worked.

After lunch, I was getting ready to bring Annika home and I remembered that we had joked about shopping for Hermit Crabs after class.  I offered to bring her to David's Bridal to pick up a bridesmaid dress, mostly because I knew there was a pet store in Har Mar.  We get to the pet store and it's DISGUSTING.  But, I've got her mind made up that it was the day.  We ended up at the Petco in Highland and $96.77 later - she had purchased these:


We documented their first car ride and were so excited to surprise Katie with her new roommates.


Once we got to the apartment, we starting setting up their "crabitat" immediately.  We did lots of research on these pets, which... oops, live up to 10+ years.  The crabitat was complete, so the next task was obviously to race these little guys and see who was the alpha.


After watching that video, you'll see that there was no alpha.  There were 3 confused Hermit Crabs that didn't know which way they were supposed to go.  We let them retire to their home for the night.


This was obviously a little too small for the crabs with a million names.  I have already brought them my lizard's old 10 gallon tank and they are much happier little crabs today.  I'm sure there's much more to come with these rug rats.  I'm so proud of Annika for knocking off her first item on her 30 before 30 list - own a Crustacean.  This was no small task and she is now committed for __ years... we'll see how this goes.

So, what do you do when your friend gets Hermit Crabs?  You support her and try and convince her to buy more and bigger... plus you help her accessorize their cage.  Obviously.  That's the classy thing to do.

Currently...

Reading: Insurgent & A Zoo Story

I love Goodreads because it helps give me so many ideas on what I should read next and allows me to see other reviews on books so I know if I'm alone in my opinions, positive or negative.

Eating: Stuffing & cheesy potatoes

Well, Thanksgiving is in 2 days.  I didn't think that I would still be meat-free when I started on my 30 day journey back in April, but I am, so this will be my first Thanksgiving without turkey.  Can't say I'm upset about it at all.  I don't even think I'll miss it.  Instead, I will stuff my face with unhealthy versions of vegetables.  I love cheesy potatoes, scalloped corn, stuffing and cranberries.

Listening to:  The Lumineers and State Radio



Watching: Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Well, I'm not watching it right now, but I plan to on Thursday.  I've never actually turned it on for more than 5 minutes.  This year, I want to have mimosas in the morning while I cook and watch the parade in the background.  It will help boost my holiday spirit.

Missing: Certain friends & family members

The first people that came to mind were Kelly & Anna.  Kelly is Justin's cousin that lives in Carroll, IA and Justin & I usually visit twice a year and we haven't been down there recently and so I'm really missing her & her kids.  They have a new house now and a new puppy and I really want to see them soon.  I miss Anna lots too.  I haven't seen her much since her wedding and I know life gets crazy sometimes, but I think we need to have a good catch up time soon... maybe catch some Real Housewives and have a bottle of wine - NBD.



Anticipating: Travel plans for 2013

We are headed to Big Sky, Orlando and hopefully Iceland in the next year and I couldn't be more excited.  We are really trying to spend our money on things like travel instead of the things that end up cluttering our house.  Little by little, we'll get there.

This is a picture of Iceland... how could you not get excited?
Wishing for: A fun holiday season

I hope the weather stays clear and sunny on the days that people have to travel.  I hope all the holiday parties are big successes.  I hope families enjoy each other during the holiday moments and don't get too stressed out financially trying to make everything perfect.  I hope my nieces get what their hearts desire from Santa Claus this year and are grateful for the gifts they receive.

Drinking: Starbucks & Red Wine

Beer has not tasted as good as wine recently.  I would say that's a good thing because wine at least has some health benefits.  Starbucks is something I just can't get enough of.

Loving: My new slippers, my new pajama pants and my Kindle

These three things put together on a fall evening or on a cool weekend morning are heavenly.  I've had my Kindle for almost a year now and I still absolutely love it.  I makes reading easier because I have so many books at my fingertips without taking up extra space.  Oh yeah, and Lola is a really good cuddler.


Beginning: The busiest month of the year

Work is busy, my family is busy and our weekends are packed with get-togethers, family events, work and shopping.  I'm super excited about December, but I think it's extra helpful this year knowing that we will be spending New Years in Lutsen with my family just skiing and relaxing and then a few days after we get back, we are heading west with some friends to enjoy more peace, quiet & hill time.  I'll be able to catch up on sleep then.

November 19, 2012

Lincoln


Our usual Sunday morning ritual = movie and lunch.  This weekend, we went with a few friends to see Lincoln.  Daniel Day Lewis was so incredible as President Lincoln.  I can't wait to see him win awards for that role.  He was exactly what I imagined and better.  There were quite a few faces I recognized in the movie, but they all did an incredible job portraying their Civil War characters.  Here is a side by side picture of the man himself and the character in the movie.  You can see the details they looked at to make it so realistic.  Seriously - absolutely amazing!


I had a few different emotions while watching this movie.  I should start by saying that I will probably only see this movie once.  I might watch it again after a decade or so, but it is long and it is mostly dialogue.  That being said, it was a powerful movie for me.

The movie follows Lincoln during the few months that he's pushing to get the 13th amendment through and end the Civil War.  These are pivotal moments in history where big strides toward human equality were happening.  It showed how hard and passionate our government officials were on each side of the fight.  Although we are not fighting to abolish slavery in today's government, we are still fighting for equality.  It was so moving to have such a powerful example of this same battle be played out before me on the big screen.  It was empowering to know that these battles can be won and you have to keep fighting for them.
With malice toward none, with charity for all.  - A. Lincoln 
We have a President today that has spoken out for what he believes even if he knows that he will face opposition in many different parts of our country and our government.  He has come out and voiced his support for same sex marriages.  He supports equality for all people. It is a blessing that we are no longer fighting for the right for people to vote or to own property, but there is still inequality in the United States and the fight is not over.  This movie was a perfect example of how difficult it can be sometimes to fight for the right thing.
If you're walking down the right path and you're willing to keep walking, eventually you'll make progress. - B. Obama
As powerful as the story line was, the tears that welled up in my eyes during the movie didn't come from the passionate fight for freedom or the courage of our former leaders (although that was amazing.)  This movie really made me miss my Grandpa.  Papa Couture passed away last August after a rough summer of pain and hospital trips.  I am the oldest of his grandchildren and was so lucky to get to spend 26 years with him.  He was a teacher his whole life and during the summers, he would take a break from his real teaching job and take me around the Midwest to different museums and landmarks so that I could learn from him as well.

My favorite trip we took was across the Dakotas the summer after 3rd grade.  We visited the Corn Palace in Mitchell, the Badlands, Wall Drug, Mount Rushmore, Reptile Gardens, Custer State Park, Devil's Tower and then just about historical site in North Dakota (with a brief stop at the Bismarck Zoo.)  It was just me and my grandparents in their little car exploring the great plains.  History was so interesting when my Grandpa was teaching it, plus when I was that small, I just assumed he had been alive since the Revolutionary War.  I remember always being able to pick out items from the gift store and my favorites were the replicas of historical documents like the Declaration of Independence and the Emancipation Proclamation.  I loved the way the paper felt and I loved trying to read them out loud in my best presidential voice.

While I was watching this movie, I just kept thinking about how much Papa would have loved it.  He would have been able to answer all my questions after the movie.  Also, the way that Lincoln's character walked in the movie reminded me of the way he moved.  I miss him lots and there are certain things that really trigger that emotion.  He helped me realize how important it is to understand where we came from because it helps us on on the journey ahead of us.  He was a brilliant man and was able to teach many people.
The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads to you the threshold of your mind.  K. Gibran
Here are some of my favorite photos of Papa:
Papa is on the right - this is army language school (he was in the Korean War)

Newspaper clipping announcing Papa's doctorate degree in education 
That's Me :)
One of my favorites :)
 I am so grateful for the freedoms in my life.  I am also grateful for all the time I got to spend with my Grandpa.