October 31, 2013

The Big Move - 5 scary things & 5 exciting things

My friend, Heather, wrote this post before moving across the country and I figured I'd do something similar.  Today is our big packing day before we send our stuff via Uhaul Pods halfway across the country.  We've packed the dogs stuff and a week's worth of clothes plus an air mattress and a few other essentials to take with us in the car, but the rest of it will be packed carefully into a big orange box.

Here are the 5 things that scare me the most about moving to the East Coast:

1.  Adjusting to apartment life.  We have been in a house for the last 5 years.  Our dogs are used to a yard and plenty of running space.  They bark when they want to.  I'm worried that they are going to hate being in an apartment even with the abundance of walks outside.

2.  Living so far away from friends & family.  We are hopeful that people will take advantage of a free place to stay and will come and visit us, but what happens in between those visits?  Making new friends is hard as an adult.  We have a few friends in the area which we are extremely grateful for, but finding a new routine and building those relationships could be difficult.

3.  Getting around.  I feel pretty comfortable with public transportation, but the options don't seem as great in New Jersey.  We will have just one car and I don't know that I will like driving at all while we are there.  Good thing we are within walking distance of so many of the things I need.  Plus, the tolls will take some getting used to.  I will no longer call them "freeways."

4.  No familiar places.  We have a few places that we go to weekly or monthly.  We have routines, people that work there know us and are fantastic to us.  I know which Starbucks line is always longer than the other and which Target has the best clearance selection.

5.  New rules.  Who knew that you legally can't pump your own gas in Jersey?  Thank god someone warned me about that one before we got gas last month when we were apartment hunting.  I had to Google whether or not you tip them… because that's what you do at home for full service gas.  What other weird rules are there?  I will probably have some reading material for our road trip out there.

All that being said, there are endless amounts of things we are excited about.

1.  Our view.  Our apartment building is on the Hudson River and even though our apartment isn't on the water, we still have a pretty awesome view.  We will watch the sunrise over Manhattan while walking the dogs every morning.  I'm not going to hate that at all.

2.  New England.  We are so close to so many new places.  I'm so excited to explore Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.  Plus, Boston is one of our favorite cities and we will be a 3 hour car ride instead of a 3 hour plane ride.

3.  Food.  Living this close to NYC, we will be able to eat our faces off every weekend.  Last time we were in NYC, our friend took us around to some of his favorite places and I can't wait to give our visitors the same experience.  So many good restaurants and options.  I can't wait.

4.  Entertainment.  I'm very sad that I have to give up my Fitz & the Tantrums tickets for Nov 21, but I have to remember that so many good shows are in New York every single day.  We can see shows on Broadway, go to new baseball stadiums and see concerts we would have never been able to see before.  Plus, the Superbowl will be just a few miles away from us - think of all the things happening this year.  Oh yeah, and we are going to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade… in person.

5.  Our biggest adventure yet.  We have taken road trips all over the country and flown a few fun places, but this will be our biggest and scariest adventure yet and we are beyond excited to have this opportunity.

Any advice you have on dogs in an apartment?  Meeting new friends?  Places to eat in NYC?  Advice on moving away?  EEEEEEEEEEEK.  It's happening.

Happy Halloween!

October 30, 2013

Our Handsome Nephew (Insta-Gratitude Week 43)

So many exciting things that have happened in the last week.  Usually I go in order, but I have to start with the most exciting news!  Our new nephew was born and we got to love him and snuggle him.  He is fantastic.  His name is Sawyer Daniel and he was 9 lbs 5 oz.  LOVE LOVE LOVE him.

This is the proud big sister, Madelyn. 

The little girls all visited their new brother/cousin and fell in love.  I don't blame them.  He's pretty fantastic.  My sissy, Nicole, is doing well and being taken care of by her husband :)  I get to see him again on Saturday and I can't wait to snuggle him to pieces.  

The rest of my week via my daily gratitude pictures looks like this:

The World Series started last week and the Sox came out hot in the first game.  It was really fun to take a break from packing boxes and watch some baseball.  My dad got my dogs shirts a few years ago - Quincy got this Red Sox shirt and Lola got a Yankees shirt (she's always been the black sheep of the family.)  These came from the man that rolls his eyes whenever he sees dogs in clothes.  Love.

I found this little gem of wisdom from my dad - he was quoting his dad.  Justin is considering getting this tattooed on his ribs in my dad's handwriting which I think would be awesome.  It was perfect timing to read this.  It's a lot of work, but we are making this happen and we are going to be just fine.

Friday night, Justin's family threw us a surprise party.  It was so good to spend time with friends and family.  It's amazing the people that show up with words of encouragement, lots of love & support and a few extra special gifts from those people shown above.  Minnesota shaped cutting board?  Yes please.

The rest of the weekend was spent packing and spending time with friends and family.  Plus, the concert I wrote about yesterday was amazing.

This last collage is pictures taken Monday night - our last night with just nieces.  We had dinner with these kiddos and heard all about their Disney trip.  Now there's a little guy in the mix and hopefully these three are inviting and kind as he grows up - but I also hope they help him build a bit of a backbone.  

Two final blog related things.  I hit 30,000 hits and that's a pretty big number for me.  All sponsor options are 30% off with code dirtythirty so come and join the party.  And… enter to win this giveaway, duh.  

 Ashley ::::: Melyssa ::::: Lindsay ::::: Caroline ::::: Steph ::::: Allie ::::: Magen ::::: Kippy ::::: Kayla ::::: Paulina ::::: Sevi a Rafflecopter giveaway

October 29, 2013

The Head and the Heart

I saw the Head & the Heart this weekend at First Ave with some of my favorite people.  The evening started with drinks & football at the bar next to the venue - and possibly a photo shoot with the band.

He might have been trying to hide his face.  Sorry.  Once we got into the show, we caught the second opener.  She was fun to watch, but the music didn't really do it for me.  We entertained ourselves before the main act by taking selfies and making friends with the world's tallest man.

The show was great.  The lone female in the band has incredible talent.  One of my favorite parts was her solo time on the stage at the beginning of the encore.  Lost in my Mind is probably their most well known song and they played that right in the middle of the set.  I have a few favorites after seeing the show too, but probably the best for me is Rivers and Roads.

As cheesy as I feel saying this, it's a fitting song for this point in our life.  It's even worse when your friends give you that look when they sing the line "all our friends will move away and they're going to better places."  I found myself looking at all of them during this song and knowing that I will miss their faces like hell.

Here is the City Pages review of the show.  I didn't take any good pictures of the band because an iphone won't work for that and you should just Google them.  The only downside of this show was the songs that were missing from the set list.  One of my favorite songs on their new album is Let's be Still.  Go read this post about it.  There were a few other new songs that I was surprised they didn't play, but overall I loved it.

If you've never heard of this band, I recommend you listen to Down in the Valley, Lost in my Mind, Summertime and Homecoming Heroes to get a good variety (along with the two songs listed above.)

In other news, packing sucks and moving is hard work.  We had the best distraction this weekend when J's family threw us a surprise going away party.  Also, I just got a message that MY NEW NEPHEW WAS BORN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   I'm beyond excited to meet him later today.

Also, Insert Classy Here is now on Facebook.  I figured I'd join the rest of the world.  Click here to like on Facebook!

October 25, 2013

Fenway vs. Busch

I'm sitting here tonight watching the World Series and I'm reminded how much I love this game.  Maybe you didn't know, but we are on a mission to see all the MLB stadiums in the country.  We have seen many, but we are only counting them once we see a game there.  Tonight, we came up with a scoring system and finally scored the 8 stadiums that we've been to so far.

Our scale is 1-5 and we have graded each stadium on 5 different categories and added up the total score:

Food & Drink - clearly, this is important to us.  The variety of beer, cocktails, junk food, healthy food - we try it all - well meat free at least.

Location - Is it easy to get to?  Can you see the city?  Is the surrounding area fun to party at before and after the game?

Environment - Are the fans in to it?  Do they have songs or traditions special to their team?  Are you swimming in a sea of the team's colors?  How is the 7th inning stretch?  Fireworks... any time during the game?

Stadium Itself - Does it show you the history?  Is it nice to look at?  Is it somewhat clean?  Does it add to the experience of a ballgame?

Our Personal Experience - Did we have a good time?  Yes, these are biased and everyone has a different experience, but we will at least explain the circumstances.  Each time that we visit the park goes into this score.

Today, in honor of the two teams in the World Series, I'll share the scores for Fenway Park and Busch Stadium.

Busch Stadium - Home of the St. Louis Cardinals - Opened in 2006

Read about our trip there

Food/Drink - 3 - It was 107 degrees the day we went to this game, so we just weren't very hungry.  The beer selection was good though, so we'll give them credit for that.  This score could easily improve if we make a return trip in the future.
Location - 4 - We are right in the city and there are a few bars and restaurants near by.
Environment/Fans - 3 - We were there cheering for the Twins and the fans weren't very fun.  I get it, we were routing for the opposing team, plus the weather was hot so it was hard to sit still.
Stadium Appearance - 5 - Statues all the way around the outside showed great pride in their history. Everything was clean and still pretty new.  Plus, I loved that you could see the arch from most seats.
Personal Experience - 3 - Like I said, it was hot, our seats were in the sun, so we were stuck watching much of the game on the TV's in the hallway in the shade.

Overall Score - 18 points (out of 25)

Fenway Park - Home of the Boston Red Sox - Opened in 1912

My Love for Fenway Park

Food/Drink - 4 - There was a decent variety, but the best part was the open area with the picnic tables for the ultimate people watching.  Plus, the beers... I love Sam Adams.
Location - 5 - Yawkey Way is the best place to get pumped up for a game, or maybe even watch an away game at the bar.  The park is also super easy to get to from the subway.
Environment/Fans - 5 - I don't even think I need to explain this.  Singing Sweet Caroline at Fenway Park is one of my favorite things.  Seeing the crowds of red and blue flood the city on game days is quite the experience.
Stadium Appearance - 5 - The history, the Green Monster, the red seat, the Citgo sign.  This place is a landmark and even though it's old, it's magical.
Personal Experience - 5 - This has time and time again been our favorite baseball experience.  The tour was great, the games are fun and loud and exciting, plus we just love Boston.

Overall Score - 24 points (out of 25)

Venus Trapped in Mars

October 24, 2013

A Little Happy, A Little Horror - Halloween Movies

I hate scary movies, but that doesn't stop me from loving Halloween.  My husband has convinced me to watch one scary movie each year on Halloween and so far, I've stuck with that tradition.  What I love are the movies that aren't scary.  Today, I'll give you my list and my husband's list, so there's something for everyone.

Here are my favorite movies to watch this time of year that won't give me nightmares for days:

7. Death Becomes Her - Goldie Hawn, Meryl Streep & Bruce Willis, yes please.  I just remember the hole in Goldie Hawn's stomach and Bruce with hair.  This movie will always be a classic.

6. Casper - Devon Sawa... enough said.  Don't act like you don't know all the words to this song.  My VHS was maybe worn out during this part of the movie.

5. Corpse Bride/Nightmare Before Christmas - Love me some Tim Burton.  We always watch these while handing out candy.  I sing along to all of the songs and I love the mayor of Halloweentown.

4. Beetlejuice - Justin will watch this with me all the time because he has a secret love for Winona Ryder.  Plus, this has the best dance worthy soundtrack ever.  DAY-O...

3. Ghostbusters - Rick Moranis is my jam.  Let's be real - he may look like a nerd, but he was in Little Giants, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and then he proved himself in the second movie.  You add him with 3 HUGE names in comedy (Akroyd + Murray + Ramis) plus the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man and you've got a hit.  Who you gonna call??????

2. Addam's Family (and their Values) - If you haven't seen these movies, just please... watch now.  I love both movies.  They are amazing Halloween classics that fit right in with all other funny family movies (like the Vacation series) with a few extra "twists" and characters.  Gomez and Morticia have a love that we should all envy.

1. Hocus Pocus - Weird, I fit right in with all other bloggers when I call this movie out as a favorite.  So many other people have written about it recently, go ahead and read The Daily Tay's post about it if you have any questions.

My husband loves scary movies, so if you're into that, here is his list (in his words):

7.  Friday the 13th - There are sounds in that movie that are indescribable and are scary by themselves.  When you add in a killer and twist ending, you've got a classic slasher movie.

6.  Silent Rage - This has Chuck Norris... that should be enough said.  However, he faces a killer who is brought back from the dead that can't be hurt - it's the perfect challenge for the man who makes onions cry.
5.  The Shining - Redrum, Redrum.  Jack's steady progression toward the ultimate creepy will give you nightmares for weeks.  Solitude will never seem peaceful again.

4.  Se7en - Everything from the town, to the development of the plot, to the unknown killer... all to find out what's in the box.  Mind = blown.

3.  Cape Fear - Bobby D at his finest.  "Come out, come out wherever you are."  You'll never look at him the same way again.  That man has talent.

2.  Silence of the Lambs - You've all heard of this one.  You get two killers, one helps catch the other.  Sir Anthony Hopkins plays his most iconic role.  The musical score alone will make your skin crawl.

1.  Psycho - Black and white has a special feel about it.  This movie was way before its time.  It was the first in ultimate plot twists.  Hitchcock started it all with this horror classic.

Are we missing any?  Let us know.  We would love to hear your opinion.  Happy Halloween!!!

Helene in Between

October 23, 2013

3 Weeks Left (Insta-Gratitude Week 42)

Less than three weeks to go until we head out of town, so each day is getting busier and busier.  Little but little, our house is getting packed up.  It's even more important to take a second and be grateful each day.  The best example I have from this last week was Saturday afternoon.  I had Justin stop before crossing the Ford Bridge and park so we could get out and walk on to the bridge and just take in the beauty of the trees lining the river and their changing colors.

Other than those few peaceful minutes, we had a pretty busy weekend.  Friday night was a girl's sleepover and we enjoyed an early Thanksgiving potluck dinner.  We had a surprise guest, Cole.  He is my friend's son and he is absolutely adorable.  

We were also lucky enough to spend lots of time with J's parents dog last week when his parents were out of town.  My favorite moment was catching him riding in my niece's carseat... he doesn't really fit.  The rest of the weekend was spent packing and cleaning - Lola was supervising.

Aside from the busy weekend, we got lots accomplished around the house, but also took a little time for ourselves.  Justin had his first hot stone massage and loved it.  I enjoyed a little quiet time.

So many things that put me in my happy place.  What were you grateful for this week?? 

October 21, 2013

Update on my 30 Before 30 List

Since we have a big move planned in the next few weeks and our lives will be changing quite a bit, there are some changes I have to make to my 30 before 30 list.  I told myself in the beginning that I couldn't change this, but I think this is a good excuse.  

The ones in bold below are the ones that will be changing.
  1. See a show on Broadway  check it out
  2. Read the Bible - 19% complete
  3. Raise $1000 for Charity
  4. See the Sunset on the Pacific 
  5. See the Sunrise on the Atlantic check it out
  6. Go Camping with my Husband
  7. Step Foot on a Different Continent
  8. Drink a Margarita with my Dad in Costa Rica
  9. Disneyworld EpcotMagic KingdomAnimal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios
  10. Get 10,000 hits on this blog (20225/10000) Halfway and I did it!
  11. Knit a Sweater or Mittens
  12. Grow Raspberries in my Yard
  13. Zip Line
  14. Visit 30 new Restaurants/Bars in St. Paul (13/30 complete)
  15. Find the St. Paul Winter Carnival Medallion - or work my ass off trying. - 2011, 2012, and 2013
  16. See the Northern Lights
  17. Pretend to be a runner   The Color RunWomen Run the Cities 2012Securian Winter Run 2013 and Get Lucky 7k
  18. Send a Message in a Bottle
  19. Give My Parents an Epic Gift
  20. Take a St. Paul Ed Class
  21. Make a T-Shirt Quilt
  22. Go Kayaking - Mpls Lakes
  23. See Top Gun - Danger Zone
  24. See 3 more baseball stadiums
  25. Bring Justin to Canada
  26. Shop in a Store I Cannot Afford
  27. Go Vegetarian for 30 days details herehere. and I am a Pescatarian
  28. Do a One Month Photo Challenge - see photos here.
  29. Spend a Weekend with New Friends  - details here.
  30. 30 Day Yoga Challenge
We were originally going to Costa Rica this spring with my parents but that is the same time that our new business will be kicking off and there's no way we'll be able to leave the country for a week or two.  My knitting plan involved a few people here that were willing to help me, I'll have to find a new craft project to do there as a solo mission.  I won't have a yard to grow raspberries in for at least another two years.  I'd like to get halfway on the St. Paul restaurants plan before leaving and then continue with new restaurants in NYC/NJ but I might make it a little more challenging.  Last, but not least, I think taking a St. Paul Community Ed Class will be very difficult not living in St. Paul.  I haven't finalized the changes I'm going to make yet, but I have a few ideas.  
  • Make a trip to the Carolinas
  • Attend the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in person
  • Eat Lobster in Maine (Road Trip New England)
  • See a certain number of concerts
  • Visit 10 NYC tourist attractions with friends/family
Any other ideas?  I will probably add a longer distance to my running goal, add more Broadway shows and definitely see more baseball stadiums.  Let me know your thoughts.  

October 17, 2013

It's Sunny in San Francisco

For the last five years, San Francisco has been high on my list of places to visit.  When plane tickets dropped in price for a 2 day sale, it became the destination of our 5 year anniversary trip (along with Tahoe & Napa). As soon as we crossed the Golden Gate bridge, it was easy to see why it's one of the top destinations for tourists from around the world.  Plus, the weather we had in the four days there was nothing short of perfect. 

We got checked into our hotel and settled on a dinner plan with Justin's friend Anna.  She writes movie reviews here and they are always hysterical.  She suggested a food truck park where there was something for everyone.  Our walk there was... well, we walked through the Tenderloin.  We were a little disoriented leaving our hotel and decided it was beautiful and we could make the 1.5 mile walk to this place.  We were greeted by a few homeless man and one woman with a needle in her arm and I kind of had a feeling we had gone through the neighborhood we were warned about.  Oops.  A few blocks isn't too bad.

Justin and I got there and had a drink and listened to some music (and I took one stupid picture.)  After hanging out for a while, we realized that the park was closing right at the time she had set up to meet us.  It was Sunday and they close early.  She picked us up instead and we went for Mexican.  Best fish tacos ever.  We sat for a few hours chatting with her toddler and meeting her husband.  Who can say no to a few Corona's?  

We returned to Union Square where our hotel was and met up with one of my best friends, also named Anna, and her husband.  Crazy coincidence, but they were celebrating their first anniversary in San Fran.  I was in their wedding last summer and it was really fun to celebrate together in a city miles away from home.

The next day, we had plans to meet Heather & Chris at "the best pizza restaurant" in town.  We headed their way early, got coffee and breakfast at a great Italian place and then walked up the hills to the Coit Tower.  The views were amazing.  We skipped paying to take the elevator to the top and just sat on the steps outside and finished our coffees and enjoyed the sunshine.

We walked back down hill and headed to the restaurant.  We laughed out loud when we realized they were closed that day - only because that had happened the previous evening.  We waited outside until I recognized Heather and knew we weren't being catfished.  We headed next door and had tacos instead.  Literally, I only ate fish tacos on this trip and I LOVED it.  They were possibly a few cocktails involved.  It was awesome.  We had been counting down the days and weeks and the whole day went absolutely perfect.  So perfect that we never stopped for a single photo.  I didn't even take one of their puppy (who I might be obsessed with).  We ended the night with a nice Italian dinner and a promise that we would meet again somewhere in the country.

stole this from Heather's blog
The first two days of our trip were filled with lots of friends.  We are pretty lucky to have friends in all different places in the country.  As much as we love traveling together, it's really fun to have a night out with other friends to catch up.  More pictures to come from the rest of our trip.  Stay tuned.

October 16, 2013

Love Fests (Insta-Gratitude Week 41)

My last week has been sooooo full of love.  I've started to get a little sappy about the people that we'll miss.  Here is the last week summarized in my #dailygratitude pictures on my Instagram account @stephgregerson  Come join the fun and tell us what you're grateful for this week.

Last Wednesday, we had wine and appetizers at a brand new restaurant for us in St. Paul.  Check another one off our list for my 30 Before 30 list.  Muffuletta has a great happy hour on the deck with small plates and great house wines.  Nothing too crazy or special, just a nice catch up time with Caroline.

Happy hour with Anna & Aaron last Thursday at McGovern's was wonderful.  It's so good to get an update on their life as newlyweds.  I love those two and I wish we got to see them all the time.  

My weekend = autumn leaves, celebrating all of our friends and cuddle time with the dogs.

Monday night included a bad new restaurant that I don't even feel good writing about, but they did have this wall and this picture happened.  It might be my new favorite.

You can barely see the guys in this picture, but our Tuesday night involved a quadruple date night and I finally remembered to make people take pictures. 

Like I've said quite a few times, we are filling up our schedule with happy hours, dinners and love fests and looking back on my gratitude from the last week, I feel like we've nailed it so far.  If you missed yesterday's post about blogging, you missed a secret code for sponsors.  If you use the promo code UFFDA on either of the sponsor options, you will receive $2 off.  Come join the fun.

Insert Classy Here - Gratitude

October 15, 2013

A Bit About Blogging

This little blog got a nice little face lift last night.  Do you know Erin?  She is pretty fantastic.  She prettied everything up for me and I love it.  As I'm figuring out how to capture my gratitude in a single snap chat, it got me thinking.  This whole blogging thing is pretty crazy.  A whole bunch of friends that I've never met before, but I feel like I know them.  For the longest time, I always felt weird talking about it, but lately I feel like that has changed.

It all started that one time that I didn't get catfished by Heather and Chris.  Justin and I met them on Labor Day.  We had a nice lunch, then a nice visit to a little place called Rogue, then a rooftop visit to see their beautiful view and hang out with their dog & meet their neighbors, and then finally a really nice dinner complete with dessert.  A full day... hanging out with someone I had never met in person.  I've been so bad about posting the rest of our San Francisco trip, but I can tell you that that was one of my favorite parts.  I wish I could prove to you that I met her, but I took one picture that whole day...

It just doesn't seem that weird to me anymore.  We chat back and forth all the time.  I text ridiculous pictures to Alexa and it doesn't seem weird at all.  I've learned lots of things from reading blogs.  Thanks to the blog world, I know about Watermelon Beer, Fifth and Mae, too much about Miley Cyrus and the power of GIF's.  I feel comfortable wearing yoga pants everywhere.  I feel constant support and get great advice from people all over the country.

On the other hand, I have real life friends that read my blog and sometimes ask questions about it.  They probably don't understand link ups and sponsors, but knowing that they are out there sometimes makes me smile.  Even my mom and dad check in sometimes on the blog.  People that know me know that I'm ridiculous, cheesy and sometimes inappropriate, so nothing on my blog would surprise them... hopefully.

All that being said, I love having a blog.  As much as I'd like to pretend that numbers don't matter to me, that would be a lie.  I love getting comments from people.  I love the people that I've started a relationship with just because of this blog and I LOVE that people I know take time out of their day every once in a while to read my blog.  

Thanks to Erin, I added a few new pages and I'll be updating those over the next few weeks with the big move coming up.  I did update the sponsor page and for the rest of the week, you can get $2.00 off either spot with the code UFFDA.