June 28, 2013

My Nonadventures in Atlanta

Every year, I head to Atlanta for a few days for a work trip to visit our largest business partner.  We spend day after day in lots and lots of meetings.  I love the people that I work with, so it's not torture, but I don't love going to a city and not getting to explore.  We eat at the same restaurant, have meetings in the same two buildings and stay at the same hotel every time.  I've only ever seen the stretch of Highway 285 that runs from the southwest corner where the airport is to the northwest corner where we stay.

I would love to go to a Braves game, see downtown, meet NeNe Leakes (a girl can dream) and maybe even the aquarium, but instead I get a view of downtown and a nice king size bed.  

Now, just as I'm about to direct you to my girl Sara's blog, I realized that she is highlighting some things about Atlanta this week, so it's even more perfect.  Check her out.  She can show you the fun things to do in Atlanta.  I'm just going to hope that next time, I can sneak away for a little bit and have drinks with the ladies (and maybe Sara too).

Now I'm going to try to find my desk under all this paperwork and stuff that has built up.  But not without leaving you with my song for BACKTHATAZZUP Friday.

June 26, 2013

I'm a Happy Girl - Insta-gratitude Week 26

Spending the week in Atlanta for work means lots and lots of busy days and busy nights, so I'm extremely grateful to have a little time to write this.

Over the last 26 weeks, I have noticed a change in my attitude about little things in life.  Searching each day for my daily gratitude makes me so aware of the little things around me.  I've always been a pretty positive person, but actually talking about gratitude each day has given me an attitude of gratitude that I'm grateful for... too much?  I think not.

I never thought that other people would actually see any changes in my attitude, until last week.  I received this on Facebook from the mom of one of my best friends in high school.  I rarely see him now and miss his family tons, so this message came out of nowhere and took me by surprise.

Talk about making my night.  It's weird though because I didn't know why it made me so excited.  I don't think about people's perception of me very often (maybe I should more and I might actually brush my hair.)  It was weird that it had such an impact on me.  I loved that she took the time to send me a note.  I loved that all my thumbs up and cheesy smiles don't annoy her... at least, not that she says.  I don't really post that much on Facebook and have been annoyed of it lately, but getting a message like that reminded me that it's still a good way to keep in touch with people.

My conclusions =

  1. Daily gratitude is one of the best things I've started this year and I love recapping it each week.  Maybe I'll get around to making it a link up, but in the meantime, just join in and let me know so I make sure I read it.
  2. I'm staying on Facebook, but maybe cleaning out my friends list a little bit.
  3. Writing blog posts after hours of meetings means rambling on and on and on.  Sorry.

1 - Udi's Pizza - yes that's right - gluten free
2 - Justin & Joe on Sunday Funday
3 - Kendra & her 2 year old, Ava - such a fun birthday party
4 - A straight up sappygram that I don't apologize for.  My husband sent that text and it was the greatest romantic gesture using emoticons that has ever happened.
5 - Lights out Friday night
6 - A safe trip to Georgia
7 - Kenzy playing t-ball.  It was so much fun to watch her play.  More pictures to come when I get them off my camera.

Happy Wednesday.  

June 24, 2013

Lights Out

Oh Minnesota, just when I brag about summer having arrived, you went and messed with the weather again.  Thunderstorms and flooding led to a weekend without power.  I decided to enjoy every last bit of the peace and quiet on Friday night.

What happens when the power goes out?  A nice quiet relaxing weekend.

Friday night, we had a happy hour date with a few friends and got home just as the rain started to come down in sheets.

Saturday morning, we headed into work early to use the internet and get caught up on work a little.  After work, we headed to Eau Claire for one of my friend's daughter's birthday party.  We got to experience a little sunshine, air conditioning and functioning lights.  We had cake and homemade Oreo ice cream along with a taco bar.

Could those two be any cuter?  We headed back towards Minnesota to see if we were lucky enough to have our power turned back on.  Within a few blocks of our house, I could see a light turned on in our window.  So excited.  We watched The Switch on Netflix with Jason Bateman and Jennifer Aniston and had an early bedtime.

Sunday turned into a little bit of a fun day.  We enjoyed some reading time in the morning and then headed to the Bulldog for some PBR's and vacation chatting.  We then met up with some friends for dinner and Dairy Queen.  Fried garlic cloves??  Yes please.  I'm pretty sure that my breath still smells.

Finished the weekend with some quiet time and the SUPERMOON.

I think I need to have more weekends without power.  So much good quiet time with the dogs and Justin.

June 21, 2013

I Have a Thumb Problem

This has been the craziest week we've had at work in a while and it doesn't seem to be slowing down even a little.

So, it is about time for...


If you haven't met my friend, Whitney, then you must be living under a rock.  She is amazeballs.  Thanks to her, I have the greatest Friday playlist in the world.  Also, I love Spotify.  Here is the newest addition to the playlist, plus my new favorite running song.

Here are my Friday letters:

Dear Atlanta, please have decent weather for my visit next week and go by quickly.

Dear J-Money,  You are my favorite person in the whole world.  Thanks for mowing the lawn, helping with laundry, finding awesome gluten free pizza and getting me out of the office for lunch one day.

Dear Ava, I'm excited to celebrate your 2nd birthday with you this weekend and I'm super excited to see how much you & your brother have grown.  And to have 3 of my college best friends in one room together will be the best ever.

Dear Summer, I am OH SO HAPPY that you have arrived.  I am going to take full advantage and find a way to get myself on a boat ASAP.

Dear College Friends, My life would be so boring without you in it.  Looking at the pictures of the last few months has made me extremely grateful for you.  Also, why didn't we take more nice group photos in college.  We are such adults now (until we show up at Perkins at 2 AM and demand crayons & kid's menus.)

What were we pointing at?  Nothing, and we thought it was the best idea ever.

Dear Baby Kimye,  I'm pretty close to just calling you Baby Yeezus, but I don't love that.  Also, please read one of my favorite things that was on the internet this week - A Letter to Baby Kimye from Back East Blonde.

Dear Alexa, Your comment today and the emails that followed made me laugh so hard and I desperately needed a laugh.  Anyone that sends virtual hugs is good in my book.

Dear Thumbs,  I'm truly sorry that I make you go through so much work whenever a camera comes out.  A recent group of Facebook pictures was posted by a friend and I found these and again it was made SO CLEAR that I overuse and abuse you and for that I'm sorry.  Maybe I'll work on the peace sign...

And with all that said, I hope your weekend gets 2 thumbs up.  I hope everyone can enjoy some sunshine & summertime.


June 20, 2013

I am a Pescatarian

As many of you know, I created a 30 before 30 list early last year.  One of the items on the list was to become a vegetarian for 30 days.  I've written about it a few times before here and here.
direct link to info page
I'm not a complete vegetarian.  I was for the first month and then I added fish back in every once in a while for a few reasons - the health benefits of including fish in your diet, Walleye is one of my favorites, having something to eat at weddings and the ease of ordering at a restaurant and having a few options instead of just a salad.  We don't eat fish very often, but it happens once or twice a month.

I also want you all to know that Vegetarianism is NOT for everyone.  I'm sharing my journey because it has been extremely rewarding and exciting for me.

It has now been over 13 months and I'm extremely proud of some of the changes I've made.

I eat way more fruits & vegetables and every week, I seem to get better and better.

The first week I cut out meat, I found myself eating just cheese pizza, PB&J sandwiches and macaroni & cheese.  That was NOT the direction I wanted to head.  I worked really hard on eating vegetables every day and trying new foods.  I fell in love with the farmer's market.  I realized that I love cucumbers, avocados, hummus, zucchini, blueberries, squash, sweet potatoes and kiwis.

I spend more time understanding food and learning about the things I'm putting in my body.

I'm a sucker for the documentaries on Netflix and the books that are out there, but I believe in arming myself with information.  Forks over Knives is one of my favorites.  I can't believe I haven't purchased their cookbook yet.  Also, there are some awesome books out there that I've read or plan to read soon.

I am helping the environment just a little bit.

DISCLAIMER: I have not watched any documentaries on why meat is good and why it helps our society.  That being said, all of the information I've read and watched has made the point that factory farms are a huge cause of pollution.  I won't go into all the details, you can research yourself, plus I haven't done intense studies and I really don't want to debate because I'll lose.  I just like knowing that I might be helping the world just a little bit by skipping meat.  Fair?

People around me are making different diet choices and exposing themselves and me to new foods.

My loving husband was a meat and potatoes kind of guy his whole life.  When I decided to try the whole vegetarian thing for 30 days, he was supportive, but not totally on board.  15 days in, he watched a few of those movies, had a nightmare involving our dog and hasn't touched meat since.  Sharing recipes, learning about new foods and trying things out are all things I enjoy with my friends & family.

I am improving my health by choosing a better diet.

This is the most important for me.  My name is Steph and my family has a history of bad heart health.  I was 25 and I had to OWN that fact.  I requested a cholesterol test from my doctor.  He told me it wasn't necessary until I was at least 30, but I said I felt that I needed it and I was right.  My cholesterol tested high at age 25.  My father has been on medication since he was 30.

My grandfather died of a heart attack in 2005. 

My uncle died in July of 2008 at age 47. 

Sometimes, genetics just suck.  I needed to take control as early as possible.  I go in Monday for a physical and it has been 3 years since my last test and I'm going to ask for another one.

All of that being said, I still love pizza rolls, cupcakes and fried food... I'm not the epitome of health.  I have some weight I'd like to lose.  It's a journey.

If you're interested in learning more about it, I recommend any of the material above.  Try Meatless Mondays and experiment with some new foods.  I dare you.  Also, share any of your favorite recipes, books, movies or anything related to food.

Linking up for Thursday Thoughts and Just Because.

June 19, 2013

The Return of Summer - Insta-Gratitude Week 25

Hope everyone enjoyed National Splurge Day yesterday (aka Treat Yoself Tuesday.)  I didn't splurge on anything because I'm still so excited about the plane tickets I bought last week to sunny California.  

I had another great week of things to be grateful for.  I am almost halfway through the year and will explain a little more about why I do this next week when I hit the halfway mark.  I'm excited that one of my favorite people, Heather, started doing this last week (here's her latest).  Also, prepare yourselves to see her picture on this list when we play in San Francisco in less than 3 months!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Sorry, I'm a little excited.

1 - Actually stopping to smell the flowers.  They are blooming everywhere around my house right now and it's nice to take a second and actually appreciate them.
2 - Thursday was our of our first beautiful sunny days this summer where the temps were in the 80's and there wasn't a cloud in sky.  I should have mowed the lawn judging by this picture, but instead I went and hung out with my nieces for the day and played with the pups outside.
3 - A no-spend summer has led to some interesting evenings at home, like Saturday, we played Jeopardy on the Playstation. Yes, we were wearing our matching Mighty Ducks shirts and taking a shot or two of Fireball.
4 - Dinner on the patio.  Veggie burger topped with an egg and blue cheese, with Strawberries and Sweet Potato Fries on the side.

5 - Did a charity 5k last night and enjoyed the beautiful lake and the weather. Ran the first mile in 9 minutes and then had shooting knee pains (seeing the doctor on Monday).  Still happy to be outside.
6 - Fitz and the Tantrums - still can't get over how much fun that show was
7 - A nice little drive through downtown and over the river on a beautiful Monday evening. Summer makes me so happy.

What were you especially grateful for this week?  #dailygratitude on Instagram.

June 18, 2013

Treat Yoself Tuesday

Have you participated in treat yourself Tuesday?

If you don't watch Parks & Rec, then you are seriously missing out on Tom & Donna and I feel bad for you.  They are my favorite people, other than Ron Swanson (who has a lot in common with my husband.)

They are my inspiration in treat yoself Tuesday (or any day that I decide it works for me.)  

After work, I'm going to indulge in at least 5 no bake energy balls (thanks Erin for that obsession) and then participate in a charity 5k tonight for a good cause.  You can check out the Center for Girl's Leadership and even come and run with us tonight by clicking here. 

I plan to end my night with a glass of wine, possibly a bath (Lush bath bomb, check) and some patio reading time.  It is necessary to make it all about me sometimes.

Also, I guest posted in Cortney's world today while she's on vacation.  Check it out.

The Little Things and Vodka

June 17, 2013

Fitz & the Tantrums (and other weekend fun)

Quiet weekends are few and far between in our household, but we pulled it off this weekend.  Friday night, we had an awesome dinner on our patio.  FINALLY.  We walked the dogs to my parents to deliver a Father's Day gift and have a glass of wine.  Finished off the night with a little TV and some Italian ice.

I had to work Saturday for the majority of the day.  About ten minutes before leaving, the sky opened up and started to downpour.  So much for my sunshine and patio, we decided to meet my friend, Emma, for a margarita at La Cucaracha - mostly because she was obsessed with the fact that a restaurant was called the cockroach.  We finished off the night playing jeopardy on the Playstation.

Sunday was the highlight of my weekend.  We chatted with fathers and grandfathers in the morning and then enjoyed a lazy day around the house.  The highlight of the weekend came in the evening.  We got tickets from our friend, Brian, to see Fitz and the Tantrums.  He couldn't use them because he had to leave town for work.  I love the band, but Justin hadn't heard much of them.  The first opener was pretty good, the second band was a little boring and we were all a little tired.  Once they took the stage, it all changed.  They put on a show.  We danced and sang.  We ran into Caroline and Keiko.  It was SUCH A GOOD SHOW.  I recommend them to everyone.  They are opening for Bruno Mars later this summer and are labeled as "soul revival" and they are just a good time.

Let me know what you think.  Also, I'm guest posting today on Samantha's blog on the lessons I've learned from country music.  Go check her out and wish her a happy vacation.  Happy Monday!!

Linking up with Sami for weekend shenanigans.

June 15, 2013

A Real Classy Post

Venus Trapped in Mars

Translated this means Drunk (in French) +  I added the ending 'ster'
(because we are a classy bunch and French is classy)

(And with all due respect to the Leibster creator... 11 is a stupid number)
Acknowledge who nominated you
Answer the 10 questions listed below
Nominate 10 bloggers you think are excellent drinkers
You can't nominate the blog that nominated you (But why would you? They clearly just answered the questions already)
Don't make any more questions, everyone just answer these questions below... why are we making so many questions for this Leibster guy?
If you are nominated, just answer the questions and nominate 10 more people. That is it.
Why are there rules for this? Q&A. That is all. 

I was nominated by Miss Ivrester herself, VENUS, and then again by Chloe, clearly my mother should be proud.  I would have been way more entertaining if I would have answered these questions in college, but here we go:

The Q&A Section:

1. What is your favorite drinking game and why?  I am a big fan of yelling and screaming games, but my two new favorite games to play while drinking are Cards Against Humanity and Telestrations.

2.  It is your birthday, what is your idea of the perfect evening?  I'm a day drinker, so my perfect evening would be spent with fried mac & cheese wedges and some water preparing myself for a long night's sleep.  Obviously, I would be tired from my themed pedal pub (this actually happened.)  

3.  Money is no object, what is your go to drink of choice at a bar?  I don't have one "go to" because it depends on my mood, the weather, my company and the bar.

4.  How many times have you played the game "Edward 40 Hands?"  Never, and I don't feel like I missed out on anything.  Sorry.

5.  Take this alcohol screening quiz here, what score did you receive?  20% - is that a fail or a pass?  Also, there wasn't a "sometimes" option.  Sometimes, I do want a drink in the morning.  If you haven't noticed, I'm a huge fan of mimosas and bloodies.  Also, I don't sing karaoke without drinking, so in that moment, I drink to build my self confidence... this quiz was hard.

6.  What is your favorite memory with Alcohol?  Definitely Las Vegas for our senior year spring break in college.  I went with 6 of my best friends and we had an absolute blast.  

7.  What is your favorite song about drinking?  Or song to drink to?  Anything with Michael Jackson immediately transforms me into a performer.  Also, I'm really good at the Cupid Shuffle.  Final answer?  Ke$ha.

8.  What is your favorite activity to do while drinking?  I enjoy eating, dancing and taking pictures while drinking.

9.  In your opinion, which is the number one party school in the country and why?  I'm going to have to say the University of MN - Duluth (blah blah blah with your big schools and football shenanigans and sororities - we drank in basements).  We literally lived inside all winter.  The whole school including dorms is connected by tunnels because of the nasty winter and winds from Lake Superior.  We had nothing better to do than drink.  Hockey games were always fun.

10.  When do you know you have had too much to drink?  What are your signals?  Hiccups and sleepy eyes.  I get super cranky and when I'm ready to bed, there is a 15 minute window to get me home.  My husband is a pro at that.

So, I'm supposed to nominate people, but I would rather that you ALL fill out all these questions and post them whenever you want.  K?  Thanks.

June 14, 2013

I'm Just Sayin'

So, it's one of those Fridays where it's not really Friday because I have to work on Saturday.  That makes it the perfect day to link up with my favorite person ever (unless she's sending me Nicolas Cage pictures) Heather.  Every Friday, she just says some stuff.

fiery and opinionated

I love saying random stuff.  So, it's Friday and I'm just sayin'...

Southwest Airlines made my whole week.  Trying to plan our five year anniversary was proving difficult and just when we had settled on a Texas sized road trip to visit family because flights are usually pretty cheap to Dallas, Southwest decides to have a sale and our number one spot on our US travel list is all of a sudden cheaper than ever... Now we are headed to:

Yes, Tahoe, Napa and San Francisco.  Can't even handle my excitement.  Now begins NO SPEND SUMMER so we can save up some money to continue travelling.  Can't get enough.

I miss TGIF on TV.  Why can't they just give us a good Friday night sitcom line up?  It might actually keep me out of trouble on Friday nights... just kidding, I have DVR.  But I do miss Step by Step.  Why don't TV shows have good theme songs anymore?

I'm not excited for the Superman movie.  My husband is about ready to cry because I don't want to go see it.  I always feel bad when he gets so excited for something that just looks boring to me.

I never win anything.  Like anything.  I was a second or third place kind of kid.  I feel like pouting all the time.  No giveaways, no lottery wins... one time I won $14.00 at bingo and I screamed with excitement.  One of these days, my patience and good sportsmanship will pay off... maybe it will be when my Superman costume wins me the "cutest child ever" award.  Have you voted yet?  Click here

I am liking Lydia on RHOBH.  The first few episodes, she didn't really do it for me, but this last one I decided that I'm on her team for now and I'm not ashamed of it.  Also, I'm not ashamed that I watch this crap each and every week.

It's #backthatazzup Friday and there are too many people going on fun summer vacations this week and I'm working tomorrow.  Boo.  At least I got to play outside yesterday and you didn't.  Here's my current summertime jam:

June 13, 2013

Notes from the Pups

Dear Internet people or whatever "friends" our mom has out there,

We are Lola & Quincy.  You met us once in this post.  We heard there were new puppy parents and people that are thinking about taking the plunge.  Are you looking to get a dog/puppy soon?  Do you look at us in the little window and your heart just melts?  Obviously, because we are clearly better than anything else you would find in a pet store.  We want to make sure you know what to expect.

Once we cross through the front door of your home, we take over.  The first few months are exploration to make sure we understand each nook & cranny.  Once we get through that phase, we get comfortable... like real comfortable.

We know when you buy the cheap stuff.  This applies to food, treats and toys.  We will retaliate.

We are experts at hiding things.  There is the boring bone in the yard bit, but there are also movies, socks and DVD's.

Remember that retaliation threat above, leave us for too long and we will shred magazines, toilet paper, kleenex and sometimes the things we've hidden.

You shouldn't buy cheap sunglasses either because we will chew those to save you the embarrassment.  Buy yourself a nice pair.

We will hang out on whatever furniture we want.  We age quicker than you humans, so we need to be comfortable.  If you think you're keeping us off the bed, you clearly have no idea what we do when you are at work.  Trust us, it's better to just let us do what we want.

You know those "dance parties" you have every morning where you make obnoxious noises you call "singing?"  Maybe it's just our parents that do that.  Anyways, we do that too.  Sometimes we sing and yell (aka bark) loudly just because we feel like it.  We don't tell you to be quiet, so don't tell us to be quiet.  Just enjoy the music we make.

Along those lines, dogs do some weird things, just like you humans.  Taking videos like this and posting them on Facebook is OK unless you're mocking us.

All of your friends will love us and want to be around us, but we will only like some of them.  We are extremely good judges of character, plus some of them just smell funny or don't scratch ears correctly.  We don't apologize for our high expectations either.

Dressing up animals is real funny... NOT.  We hate it.  We understand that all children go through a period when their parents dress them, so we're not saying that you have to completely refrain, but it must be designer (according to Lola) or bad ass (according to Quincy.)  If you don't know if it fits in one of those categories, don't get it.

We don't understand computers, TV's or any other electronics.  We might bark at a dog we hear on that television every once in a while.  We may sit on your computer when it's cold outside because it's warm.  We may convince you to start a twitter account for us and then never use it.  Just enjoy the fact that we show interest in these things you spend all your time on.

Last, but not least, here are the things we can't ever get enough of:  walks, treats, belly rubs, attention, dog parks, sunshine, laying in the grass, throwing the ball, tug-o-war, getting dirty, nicknames and getting into places we shouldn't be.

Every dog deserves a good life.  We both started our lives in different homes and ended up here. Adoption is AWESOME and it's not always easy.  Puppies are AWESOME and they aren't always easy.  We are worth it though if you are willing to work with us a little.  If you have any questions, always feel free to reach out to our mama - I'm sure she'll tell you how well behaved and awesome we are.

We have to race to bed so we get our favorite pillows.  Thanks for oooohing and aaaahing over our pictures.  We are pretty cute.

Linking up for Thursday's Thoughts.