November 29, 2013

Let the Madness Begin

It is officially Black Friday and the holiday season has kicked off.  We had a magical Thanksgiving but are both catching up on some work projects today, so I leave you with my first run at a holiday wish list.

this LUSH gift bag / 2 toms - silver / 3 kate spade - cedar street luciana / 4 cashmere hoodie from GAP / 5 And The Mountains Echoed / 6 holiday BBW candles

What's on your Christmas list?  Any crazy black Friday deals in your future?

November 27, 2013

Everyone Else is Doing it (Insta-Gratitude Week 47)

We have made it to the week each year where Facebook lights up with people's gratitude.  Doesn't make me mad, more power to you.  But it does make me secretly smile to myself and be extra grateful that I have made it part of my daily routine to take a minute and be grateful for something.  I don't always have some big glorious picture, but it's the day to day things that make me happy and make me who I am.  

Here is a review of my little happiness moments this week:

Lazy weekend snuggling with this little girl.  She was so cuddly and precious all week.

Our first trip to Times Square since we've moved.  It's not my favorite place in the world, but everyone needs to experience it once, so we brought Justin's uncle.

Junior's Cheesecake (yes that is a Maxim underneath my dessert).  We brought a slice home to enjoy the next day after our Times Square adventure.  It was amazing.

We had the most beautiful sunset on Saturday driving back from our shopping adventure.  Pictures never really capture it well but it was a beautiful one.

Our new neighborhood diner.  That French Toast is my new obsession.  See you Sunday :)

Already flew to Minneapolis for work.  It was a nice quiet flight with little excitement, followed by a productive few days in the office and a few quiet nights with family.

And these two, my sisters (in-law) who I love dearly.  We got together with the kids and made Christmas crafts and just caught up.  Even though I've barely been gone two weeks, it was nice to get a refill of sister time.

I'm heading to the airport shortly on the busiest travel day of the year with a winter storm creating chaos all over the east coast.  Wish me luck.  Happy Thanksgiving.

November 26, 2013

I Love S**t

One of my favorite people, Miss Samantha, called me out on her blog to answer these questions.  Since I can't say no when challenged with something like this (especially when it starts off with real housewives), here are my answers to her questions.

1.  If you were a real housewife, what would your tag line be?

Bitches be cray.

2.  What's your most embarrassing moment?

Hmmm… I always struggle with this one.  When I was younger, I ran full force into an opened door on a parked car - I still remember how much that hurt.  I've said and done many stupid things after a few drinks - my college friends could tell you stories all day long.

3.  Tell us something we don't already know about you.

I'm terrified of not making new friends here.  On a less serious note, I have a serious magazine addiction - not reading them, but saving them.

4.  Where is your favorite place to vacation?

Our favorite place to vacation used to be the East Coast, but since it's home now, I think the mountains are my next favorite.  Whether it's skiing or hiking or just hanging out, mountains offer lots.  The views are amazing, the activities are endless and it's my husband's number one happy place.

5.  What's your favorite word?

Shit.  I think I probably use that word more than anything.  I'm such a potty mouth, but it just comes out.

6.  Why do you blog?

This deserves its own post someday, but there are a few main reasons.  When it started, I needed a hobby and I liked having my own little place in the world to be heard (even if very few people are reading it).  Now that I've been doing this a while, I love the community and the people that I've met through this little website.

7.  What is your go-to outfit?

Right now, it's boots, leggings, a big sweater and all my favorite winter accessories.  At home, it's the closest pair of sweatpants and a baseball t-shirt.  And sunglasses - I always wear sunglasses.

8.  Cupcakes or cookies?


9.  What do you want for Christmas from Santa?

I'd like a few vacations, some money and one million cupcakes (yes, now I can't stop thinking about them.)

10.  What do you do for a living?

I work for a construction company in operations and systems.  Sounds thrilling, I know.  But I love the company I work for and I like what I'm doing.

November 25, 2013

Most Days I'm Really Fun

We had every intention of living it up this weekend, but instead, we acted like 70 year olds… I didn't hate it.  I swear most days I'm really fun.

Friday, we picked out a dining room table and chairs and I love them.  We loved them so much, we wanted to hang out with them all night.  We put in disc one of Homeland season 2 and settled in for the evening.  

Saturday was an adventure day.  Usually adventure day in our new home would be a trip into the city or a short drive somewhere really exciting, but not this weekend.  We drove to the outlet mall in the middle of nowhere New Jersey and got Justin a new winter coat and new shoes and I scored 2 new sweaters.  We enjoyed dinner at the Gastropub across our parking lot - Pier 115 - and then headed home for more Homeland.

Sunday morning was spent just like most others in the last year.  Coffee + books + blankets = Happiness.  We headed out in the middle of the morning to the diner down the street for breakfast.  It was AMAZING.  It's clear that I will be spending many Sunday mornings there in the future.  After breakfast, we went and saw Catching Fire.  I loved it.

The rest of Sunday was spent doing laundry, working, catching up on emails and watching Netflix.  I have my first travel week since we moved (yes, we've only been here 2 weeks) so it was kind of nice to just hang out at home.

Wow, what a boring weekend.  I love being boring sometimes, but I'm ready for some serious adventures over the holiday weekend.  I hope others had a way more interesting weekend.

Damn, it feels good to be a gangsta.

November 22, 2013

Pictures for my Senses

I'm going to start this by saying that I'm no photographer, but I do love pictures, so I'm so excited to look through other people's posts today.  For me, there are a few pictures that are able to bring me back to a very specific moment.  Those are my favorite.

1.  Feel - I love the feeling of sunshine on my face (even though I'm a little light sensitive and I get sunburned easily.)  This last weekend was our first in NYC and we enjoyed a full day of sunshine.  What a warm welcome.

2.  Smell - Now that I've shared my love of sunshine… I also love a rainy day.  I love a foggy day.  Not all the time or I would just move to the Pacific Northwest.  This picture has been posted on here before.  It was taken on our street in St. Paul on a quiet Saturday morning last fall.

3.  Sight - It was our 5 year anniversary this year and we celebrated with a trip to California.  The morning that we hiked around Emerald Bay was one of my favorite moments of the trip.  It is truly one of the most beautiful places I have ever been.  You can find more pictures here, but here is one of my favorites.

4.  Hear - I had one day all by myself in Big Sky last January.  I remember sitting in this mountain home and hearing silence, but at the same time, hearing all kinds of new sounds - the kind that come from a slight breeze, birds flying by and animals moving around in the woods.  It was amazing.

5.  Taste - You're probably wondering why there is a picture of a bunch of people, but this is from our most recent trip to the MN State Fair.  I'm no foodie blogger but I love food and the fair is one of those places where you eat everything possible.  Full list of food consumed can be found here.

6.  Because this is a random picture selection, I've been wanting to share at least one picture from a vacation that I did not go on.  My nieces all went to Disney for their first time in October.  It has been so fun to hear about their adventures and meeting ALL THEIR FAVORITE PRINCESSES.  This picture just makes me smile every time I see it.

So, Happy Friday.  Hope you have exciting weekend plans.  I'll be out exploring more of the city, shopping for a dining room table and jamming out to this song (because I already have to head back to the main office at work next week.)

t.o. & fro

November 21, 2013

Tis the Season for Holiday Cards

I just want to apologize in advance for the lack of creativity in our Christmas card this year.  I had every intention of sticking with our awesome idea (our dogs have matching lumberjack hats to prove it) but moving is hard work and I was on a deadline.  Plus, our photographer lives in the Twin Cities and I don't think I could get him to fly here just for a 15 minute project this year.

Two years ago, we realized that people don't care about our cards because they don't have children on them, so we decided to just get ridiculous and see if anyone noticed.  Here was our 2011 card:

Yes - we dressed up the dogs and they were horrified, but we rewarded them huge for that little stunt.  We actually got some response from people this year.  So, we continued on in 2012 with this card:

Yes, I wrote a limerick.  I loved this card.  It was ridiculous and cheesy and people liked it.  I had great ideas for this year's card, but instead, I ordered a whole bunch of boring this year.  For all of you, I will give you this - my cheap first attempt (pic monkey style) at a card from the dogs - now I'm just saving it on my desktop for my own amusement.

Do you love Christmas cards?

November 20, 2013

One Whole Week (Insta-Gratitude Week 46)

Guys, we have officially been in our new apartment for one whole week and I'm in love.  Like I literally can't get enough of this place.  We ventured into the city both Saturday & Sunday.  I'm within 5 minutes of a Whole Foods, a Trader Joe's, a Target and there is a Homegoods right downstairs.  They are finishing up the dog park right on the river within the next week or two.  It's just amazing.

There was so very much to be grateful for this week and I could totally overwhelm you with pictures, but I'll stick to the usual 7.

These two have exceeded all expectations.  They were awesome road trippers and they have been adjusting very well to apartment living.  Lola hung out with me in the bathroom while the movers brought our things in, but other than that, there haven't been many incidents.

This view, this city.  Being right on the river is the best thing in the whole world.

A brand new couch.  This is something we've been wanting to get for months and it finally happened.  Turns out we fell in love with the exact same couch as our friends back home, but that just means they will feel more comfortable when they come to visit.  Also, the couch is clearly dog approved.

The Empire State Building has quickly become our favorite building in the skyline.  Each night, it's lit up with different colors.  You can check what the significance is on this website or by following @esbcolors on Twitter.

We have no TV yet in the apartment so we set off on the mission to find a place with the Vikings game on.  We found a bar called Bar None on 3rd Ave and it was the most entertaining football experience I have ever had.  I don't know if any of you watch How I Met Your Mother (clearly, I'm obsessed with the show) but this bar was very similar to the "Little Minnesota" they showed in an episode.

The weather this last week was nothing short of perfect.  It was sunny and in the sixties.  We were able to enjoy the fall colors and tons of outdoor activities without jackets… in the middle of November.  I can't complain about that.

And then there was this.  I made Chocolate Chip Banana Bread.  I am working really hard on not wasting food and I saw this recipe from Postcards from Rachel and realized I had bananas that were getting pretty mushy, so I baked for the first time in the apartment.  It was edible and made the whole place smell good.  And then, we had our first guest here.  Justin's uncle Chris is in town and he came to check out our place last night.  It felt good to have some company.

Now, before you throw up by all this positive mushy stuff, I will tell you that not everything has gone perfectly this move in week.  Our cable people couldn't get us scheduled until mid December (thank god for Netflix).  There was an issue with the plumbing in the apartment.  The movers broke our dresser.  And working from home so far has been frustrating because my computer is acting up, my keyboard will only work on half of the letters and my dogs bark whenever I'm on a conference call.  We are figuring it out.  We knew things would be hard at times, but so far, it's been easier than expected and we are BEYOND grateful for that.

What are you grateful for this week?

November 19, 2013

Project Declutter - Moving Tips

We are almost moved in.  Just need a few chairs and a table.  It feels fantastic.  I'll eventually post pictures when I find a camera that works again (any recommendations are appreciated - mine died.)

When I started my Project Declutter - I had no idea that my life would be shoved into 817 square feet.  Moving can be the ultimate project declutter.

In the past, moves have stressed me out beyond belief.  I put off doing what I need to do until it was too late.  I would pack a few boxes and label them to make sense.  Then I would give up and throw things into garbage bags.  The truck comes and you load everything up.  You pull up to a brand new clean place and unload things.  The same thing happens.  The first few boxes get unpacked and things get put away in their new places and then laziness sets in…

That is how I had garbage bags full of things in my basement for 4 years.  That means I had TOO MUCH STUFF.

The move this time was different.  We had a plan.  Moving across the country is stressful enough, we had to do this one right.  Now that I'm sitting here on my new couch less than one week after move in day, I feel like we did a pretty good job this time around.

Here are my tips for moving:

  • Take your time packing and label everything.  
  • Have a schedule and stick to it - but schedule time off.  We would spend 5 days a week getting stuff done around the house and dropping off donations and the other 2 days - rest.
  • Research donation sites.  There are places in your areas that will take your things and do wonderful things with them.  Spend a few minutes to make sure you are taking advantage of those places.  We donated to the Lupus Foundation and they did three pick ups for us.  Our extra blankets & jackets will be used at a local shelter this winter.  Art supplies went to a young aspiring artist that we met through his parents.  
  • Pick PODS or U-Boxes over a truck if you can.  They drop it off, you load it up, they pick it up and bring it to your new place.  That allowed us to have a super fun road trip with just us and the dogs.
  • Decide if you are getting anything new when you get there.  We were ready to get a new couch and new dishes so we just waited until we arrived.  New place, new stuff - it makes it all so much fun.
  • Take your time unpacking and putting things away.  Don't get lazy.  If you rush through it, you'll never stay organized.
  • When in doubt (or when able) - just pay someone to do it all for you… but if you take that route, plan on at least one thing being broken.
I might not be an expert at this stuff - I don't move very often.  What I do know is that I have an apartment full of all my favorite things and none of the things I should have gotten rid of… because they didn't make the trip.  

Go get rid of something today that you don't find useful in your life.  If you need a little inspiration, check out Project Declutter - Part 1 and Project Declutter - Part 2.

November 15, 2013

A Little Midwest Competition

Have you met Margaret?  (say that like Barney Stinson)  She lives in Cleveland, Ohio (which is the home of Ted Mosby - OK enough How I Met Your Mother references.)

During our cross country move, we passed through Cleveland and I was intrigued.  I've never heard too much about this fellow Midwest city and we all know how much I love the Twin Cities, so we decided to get together today and do a little comparison between the two.

OH:  Cleveland has definitely become a foodie town.  Thanks in large part to Iron Chef Michael Symon and a huge number of other amazing chefs in our city - the restaurant scene is booming.  We have insanely fantastic gourmet restaurants right next door to amazing burger joints.  And we have Melt… which is ALL GRILLED CHEESE.  Yep.  Pretty amazing.  My favorite?  A sandwich with cream cheese and jalapeƱos, all battered and deep fried like a jalapeƱo popper.  They also have a sandwich with pirogues on it; another with lasagna; a third with cheese sticks and meatballs.  I think you get it.  Awesome.

We love our microbrews! Great Lakes Brewing Company (and their famous Christmas Ale...even though I don’t really like it), Market Garden Brewery, and Nano Brew- all of which are on the same stretch of road; makes beer sampling in the area pretty awesome. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. All across the state (even in my tiny hometown), there are microbrews popping up. Most of my absolute favorite beers are from small Ohio breweries.

MN:  Being a vegetarian, I can only take someone else's word for it, but we are the home of the Juicy Lucy.  Think Hamburger with a whole bunch of cheese and other goodies stuff inside the burger.  Take one bite and your face is covered in oozy goodness.  The MN State Fair offers a wide variety of crazy fried foods - thank goodness it's only 12 days a year or we would all be seriously unhealthy.  So many good restaurants in the Twin Cities with such good variety, it's hard to try everything.

Local beers are pretty fantastic - Surly, Summit, Premium, Fulton… just to name a few.  There is nothing better than an ice cold beer that was made just down the street.  Two Gingers Whiskey was also born and raised in the Twin Cities.

OH:  Cleveland is a hidden gem when it comes to tourist destinations.  Most people don't think of Cleveland as an overly exciting place to visit, but we have lots to offer.

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is an amazing museum highlighting the greats of the music industry.  Playhouse Square is our theater district and is the second largest theater complex in the country (only behind NYC.)  University Circle includes the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Natural History Museum, the Botanical Gardens, Western Revere Historical Society, etc Basically, a bunch of super awesome museums, a few of which are free/cheap.  The Westside Market is a huge indoor/outdoor market with anything you would ever want - fruits and veggies, meat and seafood, cheese and bread, spices and hot sauces.  It's huge and totally awesome.

MN:  Lakes, lakes, lakes (and the Mississippi).  The landscape is the best part.  Many people come to town to go to the Mall of America, but personally, it's my least favorite part.  Sure, the indoor roller coaster is fun in the winter, but it's busy and HUGE and there are way more fun things to do.  

OH:  Ohio, in general, is blessed to have multiple professional sports teams - 3 in Cleveland, 2 in Cincinnati (Reds & Bengals) and 1 in Columbus (Bluejackets.) Clevelanders love their sports teams more than is probably healthy.  Because they tend to lose…a lot.  Especially the Browns.  So just know that we always say, "there's always next year."  We drink a lot on game days (see: they lose a lot.)  And if you mention Lebron in our city, you will get things thrown at you.  And the Buckeyes?  Doesn't matter if you went to Ohio State or not… the majority of the state are OSU fans.  If you tell, O-H anywhere in the state, someone will reply with I-O.  And Michigan?  We all hate that state.

MN:  We may not have great teams, but we have great athletes.  Adrian Peterson is Mr. Fantasy Football (and my favorite player.)  There is always some sort of soap opera with the Vikings (3 quarterbacks, Brett Favre, Sex Boats).  We have hometown hero, Joe Mauer, playing for the MN Twins and Target Field is an awesome place to see a baseball game.  Ricky Rubio & Kevin Love are the most loved Timberwolves.  Our MN Lynx (women's basketball) are the champions in our state.

Oh yeah, there is also the MN Wild and the MN Gophers, but I went to University of MN - Duluth, so I'm a Bulldog and I don't care about the Wild… sorry, I'm still bitter that the North Stars left.

OH:  We love our city; we love to show off our city. As long as you don’t speak poorly of Cleveland, a Clevelander will embrace you and be happy to have you. I love being out of state (or country) and finding out someone is from Ohio. There is an instant connection, normally over sports teams or what college you went to (I absolutely love that there are Bobcat’s everywhere). Ohioans truly care about the people they meet. Yes, they actually want to know where you’re from, what you do for a living, what your parents do for a living, where you went to college, how you met your significant other, etc… Overly chatty? Maybe. But all done with the best intentions.

MN:  Have you heard the phrase Minnesota Nice?  It's real folks.  Everyone smiles and waves.  Everyone loves everyone (except maybe Packer fans.)  There is an amazing sense of community.  I love it.

What do you think?  Have you ever been to Ohio?  I think I want to go back and spend a little more time there.  I think these two places have more in common than I thought.  Microbrews, awesome sports teams and great people.

Go get to know Margaret a little bit better.  Start with this post and then read this post which is when I realized how much we have in common.  You can find her on FacebookTwitter and Bloglovin.  Go tell her Hi.

November 13, 2013

A Brand New Home (Insta-Gratitude Week 45)

WHIRLWIND week in my life.  I definitely still remembered to take a second each day and enjoy it.  These next 22 months are going to fly by and it will be so important to stop each minute to take it all in.

This is Tim.  When we had no furniture left in our house besides the air mattress, he came over and laid on the air mattress with us.  That's a true friend.

Our work family threw us a going away lunch complete with cake and a message that we WILL be back.

Friday night, we had a bonfire at my parents house with a few close friends to say farewell for now.  It was a night full of laughter and hugs.  I refused to read any cards until I was in the car and could cry by myself.

 Our last look at St. Paul for a while.  The cloudy skies remained our first two days of driving and it seemed fitting.

Our friends that made trivia games, bought us travel bingo boards, made us playlists on Spotify and sent snap chat after snap chat to keep our road trip entertaining.  We are the luckiest people in the world and I can't wait to send them all surprises.

Our first new place - Niagara Falls, NY.  I've been to the Canadian side, but never the NY side and Justin had never seen the falls from any country.  It was a rainy afternoon, but the falls were beautiful and we had a blast just walking around and enjoying the views.

Here we are.  We are in the middle of moving in.  As we walked the dogs tonight on the river walk, the sunset was reflecting in all the skyscrapers that make up Manhattan.  This picture doesn't really show how cool it was (thanks iPhone).  Our first night.  (insert sigh of relief and happiness here)

More soon, I must put my feet up now and relax.