May 22, 2014

Things I'm Excited About (told with dog pics)

I'm way too excited to do anything brilliant today.  So instead, I will tell you the 10 things I'm most excited about along with pictures of dog to illustrate.

1.  2 of our best friends are flying in tonight to spend the holiday weekend with us.  We are going to eat so much good food, enjoy so many good drinks and so much laughing.  I'm going to tackle them when I see them at the airport.

2.  It's birthday weekend which means the ultimate excuse to treat yoself OVER AND OVER again.  Plus, my husband & I have birthdays only one day apart so it's double the celebrations.  Cupcakes, cocktails, 3 days of Sunday strolling, lots of brunching and maybe even a Broadway show.

3.  Our trip to Minnesota is quickly approaching and our plans are all locked in.  We will be running around non-stop while getting a bunch of work projects done.  It's going to feel like a week long marathon, but it will be so much fun.

4.  The Rangers are back in NYC tonight.  I will not be shelling out $500 for 2 standing room tickets, but I'll be jumping and yelling in my living room watching the game.  I also will gladly take any tickets as a birthday gift.

5.  My inbox is under 100, which means I will be able to knock it out of the park and get those cleaned up before my 4 day weekend.

6.  I wore pink pajama pants last night and then watched Mean Girls and thought I was super funny.  My husband didn't get it.  I'm going to make him wear pink next Wednesday.

7.  We cleaned out our closet and dresser to put away the winter clothes and filled another 6 garbage bags with donations.  I must remind you, we just got rid of the majority of our belongings in November to move and we were able to fill another 6 BAGS with clothes that don't fit or that we don't wear.

8.  Congrats to Vivian for winning the birthday giveaway!!!!  I'm so excited for you to get to check out the BeNiceBox especially since the theme is food :)

9.  I found out that Ice-T is my neighbor and I think that's kind of cool.  And by neighbor, I just know that he shops at all the same stores as me... I have no idea where he actually lives.  I could be totally wrong.  (he wears pink on Wednesdays too)

10.  I have a few things scheduled for the next few days, but I will be away from the blogworld enjoying the most epic kick off to summer week (plus crazy work days).  I will miss you, but I'm excited to be out on the road.  Follow me on Instagram @stephgregerson if you want to keep up on our adventures.

May 21, 2014

An Update on my 30 Before 30 List

Lists.  I could go on and on about my love affair for them.  Making a 30 before 30 list was so much fun for me and as I quickly approach my 29th birthday this weekend, I figured I should revisit it and see what the next year brings.

1.  See a show on Broadway.  It's so funny that I made this list long before I ever knew that I would be moving to the east coast.  I've checked this one off multiple times and will continue to add to the list.
2.  See the sunrise on the Atlantic.
3.  Visit Disney World.
4.  Get 10,000 hits on the blog.  The original goal was 100,000 hits and then I thought that would be impossible.  Truth is, I think it will likely happen as long as you lovely people keep showing your pretty faces around here.  Crazy.
5.  Pretend to be a runner and participate in my first race.
6.  T-Shirt Quilt with old shirts.  This was done by my lovely friend, Annika, and we are forever grateful.
7.  Go kayaking.
8.  See Top Gun.
9.  Become a Vegetarian for 30 days... and this turned into WAY more than a month.
10.  Do a one month photo challenge.
11.  Spend a weekend with new friends.  I love these ladies.

12.  Shop in a store I cannot afford.  Thank you husband.

In Progress/Scheduled:
1.  Read the Bible.  I went to a Catholic school growing up, so I've been through the Bible before, but as an adult, I'm struggling with lots of questions and I felt compelled to dive back in and see what happens.  I'm about 1/4 of the way through currently and picking up the pace with only a year left.
2.  Raise $1000 for charity.  I've made it to $500 and I'm going to sign up for the MS climb in NYC next year and will be working to hit my final goal then.
3.  Complete our New York City bucket list.  Clearly, that page needs a little updating.  We are cruising on this list.  We have a few visitors in the next few weeks that will help us check off a few more items, plus I think I have a few more to add.

4.  Find the St. Paul Winter Carnival medallion... or work my ass off trying.
5.  See 5 more baseball stadiums.  I have marked off 3/5 with Miller Park, the Coliseum and Yankee Stadium.  This summer should include a game in Philadelphia and a trip to Citi Field to see the Mets.

The things I better get going on:
1.  See the sunset on the Pacific.  Technically, I've completed this, but Karl the Fog kind of ruined it for me, so I would really love to make it back to the west coast to do this again.

2.  Go camping with my husband.  We are currently looking at weekends to head up to the Catskills and pitch a tent.  I'm pretty excited about this.
3.  Step foot on a different continent.  We are in the beginning stages of planning an Iceland/Ireland trip for the fall, but until dates are locked in, I can't count this as "in progress."
4.  Eat Lobster in Maine.
5.  Visit 5 Microbreweries.  I'm adding vineyards too, because we love those just as much.  I had to remove new restaurants in St. Paul since we moved, so I added this as a substitute.  
6.  Go Leaf Peeping in Vermont.  
7.  Zip line.
8.  See the Northern Lights.  Hopefully this will happen when we are visiting Iceland, but it's hard to plan on things like this.  Fingers crossed.
9.  Send a message in a bottle.  Still trying to figure out what to put in a bottle that would be fun to find.
10.  Give my parents an epic gift.
11.  Take a random class off of Groupon.
12.  Bring Justin to Canada - can you believe he's never been there?
13.  30 Day Yoga Challenge.

Looking at the items I have left, I would say this will be a very busy year.  We have been saving money and preparing ourselves for some epic adventures, so hopefully it will all fall into place.  If you have any suggestions on any of the items we have left, please let me know.  

Also, as always, share your lists with me.  It doesn't have to be a 30 before 30 list, just leave a link in the comments below. If you need me, I'll be searching for microbreweries in the area to plan for this weekend.

May 20, 2014

Writing about Writing

Do you have anything that you do but you aren't very good at it?  For me, that is writing.  I use run-on sentences and I overuse the ellipsis.  The thing is, I don't really care.  Writing is one of my favorite things to do.  Most of the time, it's blogging or writing in a journal, but sometimes it's a little more adventurous.  Doesn't matter what kind, I love it.

Most people would say that you get better over time, but I think I just change.  I think I used to be funnier, but I'm OK with that.  I don't lead a life now that is full of funny and ridiculous things (although they still happen from time to time.)

When I was sent these questions, I decided to write about writing.  I was tagged by my friend, Samantha.  Feel free to grab these and answer them yourselves and tell me all about it.  I love reading about writing.  Weird, right?

1. What am I working on?

I write on this blog - I think that's pretty obvious.  I have journal that I write in daily as well.  I find that writing helps me focus.  I am always taking notes because it helps me process information.  I think my journal and this blog help me focus on my life and make sure that I'm taking it all in.  I also write down ideas, stories and things that I could grow someday into something more than a bunch of typed words on a page.  I would love to write a book or even tell you that I'm doing that, but it's not really anything like that right now.  Just some ideas and words... maybe someday.

2.  Why do I write what I do?

The focus that I talked about is a big driver for me.  It's nice having my stories and thoughts written out.  I love getting feedback from others and knowing that I'm not the only person in the world who cries at every episode of Parenthood or has full conversations with my dogs.  It's a great way to connect with people and with myself.

3.  How does your writing process work?

Wine or coffee.  Comfortable clothes.  Laptop or notebook open (I don't know how anyone writes on their tablet or phone).  I just write.  I ramble on and on about whatever I'm thinking about or whatever I just finished doing.  Sometimes I hit publish without really thinking about it.  Sometimes, I hit save and walk away for days.  I am not a big fan of editing things right away, so usually my husband is the one that catches my errors.  I don't really have a schedule that I follow, although most of the time, I write at night.  Other than that, I don't really have a "process."

I'm a little surprised that I still have a blog.  I had started and quit so many times in the past.  I have wondered a lot lately if I would still be blogging if I had stayed in Minnesota.  But, in the end, I love this blog.  I love having a place to share things.  I also love writing in a journal and having a place that is just mine.  I love the idea that someday, I might write something bigger.

So tell me your thoughts on writing.  The why, the how, the where, the when.

May 16, 2014

Some Happy Things

My mind has been taken over by the New York Rangers and email land.  I have gotten my work inbox down under 300 and by the end of the work week, I am determined to be under 200.  I am the master of my own inbox.

Here are some of my favorite things today:

Today is Put on Purple Day for Lupus Awareness Month.  So put on your fanciest purple and send Miss Marla your picture.  Also, please go read her blog.  She is an incredibly strong woman and I'm inspired by her super hero attitude.  You will love her.

Sometimes I go back and look at what I posted a year ago on the blog.  The post from last year made me laugh out loud this morning.  Click here to take a look.  The pictures are just ridiculous.

My birthday is next Saturday and Justin's is next Sunday.  We have two of our best friends coming to town to celebrate.

The Rangers are playing tomorrow.  Hopefully I'll get through the game by taking deep breaths and staying calm.  Doubtful.

My favorite songs this week:

Don't forget to enter the giveaway from yesterday.  Did you miss it?

Last, but not least, wish me luck.  I'm running a 5K on Sunday.  Don't worry, it's at a vineyard, it supports animal shelters and adoption programs and my running partner, Samantha, has helped me get back on the running train so I won't die trying to run 3 miles.

Linking up with Amanda and Whitney.

May 15, 2014

Spreading the Kindness

Kindness.  It's such a simple concept.  We found this sign on a Sunday Stroll a few weeks ago and I just saw it and started nodding my head.

Today, I wanted to tell you all about a new subscription box I found and fell in love with.  It's called the Be Nice Box.

This is a monthly subscription where you receive a handwritten note plus 12 ideas of random acts of kindness you can perform along with some tools to carry them out (all things from small business and artists).  This was an idea that a fellow Minnesota blogger came up with.  I've been following her blog, a year of Minnesota nice, for about a year.  I love reading her stories every day.  She's incredibly inspiring and makes you feel better about the world.

Here's a breakdown of some of the things we received in the May box.  The theme was "feathers & fur" and everything was animal related.  She includes a note with a calendar of ideas for the month.

We received Honeystix with a little note.  I know exactly who in my building could use a little pick me up like this, so I think I'm going to tape it to his mailbox if I don't see him soon.  He's our elderly neighbor upstairs and he is always so cheerful and sweet - especially to Lola, even if she's barking at him.

Also, there were a few kinds of dog treats that our pups have shared with all their friends at the dog park.  It also got us talking with a few neighbors and we found out that one of the dogs has a sensitive stomach like Lola, so we gave them a sample of the food we use and it worked great for them!!

The seed bombs were supposed to be planted in the Poconos, but we forgot, we are going to take them into the city with us this weekend and plant them in a good spot.  Also, each box includes a treat for yourself.  The beeswax candles were included in this box as a little treat.

Her pictures are quite a bit better, so go check out her recap here.  Also, browse through the website and check out previous boxes.  Each month has a theme and I'm most excited about June's theme.

I wanted to do a little giveaway since it's my birthday month and I wanted to help share this awesome subscription.  Make sure to enter below and you will get the box for June as well as a $20 Target gift card to treat yourself to a little something... or maybe continue to share the love.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

May 14, 2014

Singing, Modeling and Monica

It is Wednesday and I have a few things I need to confess.  

I'm currently watching game 7 between the Penguins & the Rangers and I am WAY too involved.  Playoff hockey has been unbelievable this year.  I have to remind myself to breathe.

While watching the beginning of the game, I sang the entire National Anthem in my living room... loudly and proudly.

Moving on from hockey, I decided this week to finally wear the mint pants that came in my Stitch Fix last month.  They are soooo comfortable but I never wear color.  I was proud of myself... for wearing pants of a certain color.  Eventually I will tell you all about my favorite Stitch Fix items because I really do love that company.  The problem is photos of myself wearing clothes.  This is what happens - I get brave and tell Justin to take my picture... after a concert and a few beers... in a cabin at midnight.  You are welcome.

My work email inbox is over 400 and I'm totally freaked out about it.  I only keep things in my inbox that I have to deal with still.  I'm anxious just typing that out.

I'm still taking Buzzfeed quizzes.  I wrote a whole post about it here in February and I still find them incredibly entertaining.  Sometimes I don't even read the description and if I don't like the answer, I close the window and pretend like I never took the quiz.  

I am incredibly interested in the Jay Z vs Solange scandal and I still think the jokes about her being Jay Z's 100th problem are hilarious.

I kind of like Adam Levine's hair.  I don't know that it really looks good, but I like that he did it.

My dogs got a package from my mom last week that included new t-shirts.  I love that she sends them gifts and I might have made Quincy wear his shirt for the majority of the day today.  He didn't seem impressed.

And my last confession today is that my dog takes better fashion photos than I do.  Cool.

Now go visit Kathy and link up your confessions and come back tomorrow for a little pre birthday giveaway.

Vodka and Soda

May 13, 2014

Poconos Unplugged

Wow, I needed that weekend away.  We let the batteries on our phones die, we left our laptops at home and we spent a weekend in the Poconos with the dogs just enjoying ourselves.  It was magical.  We read, hiked, walked, danced, napped and ate.  I think we will be making this a monthly requirement.  It was a weekend full of wonderful moments.

Wandering through the stores in Jim Thorpe and laughing about all the awesome home decor pieces we could have taken home.

The smells of being outside.  When you spend most of your weekends in the city, you kind of forget what the woods smell like.  There were flowers blooming everywhere.

There were some epic naps.  One of my favorite moments of the weekend was during nap time.  I was reading and I could hear all the other living beings in the room breathing heavily and dreaming.

Fireplaces.  The wood burning kind.

Hiking with the dogs.  We did our best to wear them out this weekend and judging by our uneventful road trip home, I think we did just that.

We went to see Fitz & the Tantrums live at Penn's Peak which is a beautiful mountaintop concert venue.  The beers were cheap and the entertainment was amazing.

One of my resolutions for this year was to "connect" and I definitely think you need to disconnect in order to really connect.  It was so nice to have a weekend away from work calls and emails.  We enjoyed the peace & quiet and came back feeling quite recharged.

How often do you unplug?

May 8, 2014

Treat Yourself - $10 and under

Some mornings, you wake up and it's rainy and gloomy and you need a little pick me up.  I love a quick trip to Target to treat myself to a little something special.  I also love scrolling through Etsy with my coffee in the mornings to see what little treasures I can find.  It's amazing how one little $10 print can brighten up your day (especially when they talk about Mimosas - find that one here.)

Here are a few of the things I like to treat myself to that are less than $10:

Treat Yourself - $10 & under

Treasure Tromp

May 7, 2014

6 Months - We Are Doing Just Fine

About 6 months ago, I wrote about our big move in this post.  I listed the things that scared us and the things that excited us.  We have officially been on the East Coast for 6 months so I figured it would be a good time to look back and see if I was just a little paranoid.

Here are the 5 things that scared us 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.  

This was one of our biggest fears, but the dogs have adjusted so well.  They love the dog park here and all of their new friends.  We love being in a smaller place.  It's easy to keep clean and we have no unnecessary clutter.

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.  

This is still hard, but we have been lucky enough to have a few visitors so far with a few more on the calendar.  FaceTime has helped us stay in touch as well as good old fashioned mail.  Meeting friends isn't easy, but it's happening and probably deserves its own post.

3.  Getting around.  I feel pretty comfortable with public transportation, but the options don't seem as great in New Jersey. 

The options are great.  We have become pros at our bus system and the ferries.  We can get from our apartment to midtown in 20 minutes with ease.  We've learned the fastest ways to get around and how to avoid the tolls as often as possible.  Not a big deal at all.

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.

It didn't take us long to master our Target here, the Dunkin is downstairs and we have at least 3 go-to delivery places for food.  We settled into our new neighborhood pretty quickly.  We do still miss our neighborhood bar/grill at home.

5.  New rules.  Who knew that you legally can't pump your own gas in Jersey?  What other weird rules are there? 

I think I've already addressed how much I love this weird law in NJ.  In the middle of the cold winter, I kind of loved not having to get out of the car.  No Sunday shopping in our county has been helpful for my wallet, but that did take some getting used to.

Here are the 5 things we were most 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.  

Yep, still love that.  My Instagram feed is proof.

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.

We have been to Vermont and upstate NY so far with a trip this weekend to the Poconos.  I can't wait to get back to Boston.

3.  Food.  Living this close to NYC, we will be able to eat our faces off every weekend.  

Thank goodness we walk as much as we do or I would have gained at least 10 lbs by now.  There is such good food here and we try new places each week.

4.  Entertainment.  We can see shows on Broadway, go to new baseball stadiums and see concerts we would have never been able to see before.  

I remember being sad that I had to give up my Fitz & the Tantrums tickets in November, but now we are going to see them in a brand new venue this weekend.  I guess I'm over it now.  I just bought tickets for a show in Central Park in summer.  We have been to a few Broadway shows.  We've checked off one new stadium.  So much more to do.

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.

I don't even think I need to say anything about that last one.  We are so grateful to be where we are right now and are working hard to take advantage of every minute.  I'm so happy to revisit our biggest fears and be able to say that they really weren't an issue.  I think we are doing just fine adjusting to changes.

May 6, 2014

What I've Been Reading

I love reading.  I realized last year that I really don't read as much as I could or should, so I challenged myself to read 26 books this year.  I figure I'd set my goals at a very realistic number and if I beat it, I'll be super excited.  So far, I'm right on track.  Here's the books I've read so far this year.

The Light Between Oceans - LOVED this book.  When I started it, I worried that it would be a little slow, but you become really entangled with the characters and their story.  I would recommend this to anyone.

This One is Mine - I loved Where'd You Go, Bernadette, so I was really excited to read something else written by Maria Semple.  I did not like this book.  I hated all the characters.  It's like they want you to hate them and I don't like stories like that.

No More Dirty Looks - I read this as part of my clean learning and I thought it was put together really well.  I learned a ton and have made some pretty big changes to the products I buy for our household. I would recommend it to anyone that is looking to clean up their routine a little.

Dark Places - Gillian Flynn did not disappoint in this book.  I love her writing style using different perspectives.  I could not stop reading this one.  If you liked Gone Girl, I think you should definitely give this one a try.  I can't wait to read her other book.

Allegiant - I finally finished the Divergent Trilogy.  Liked the first two books and I hated this one.  That has been my thoughts on a lot of trilogies that I've read in the past.  From what I've read, many people agree with me on this.  I just don't like the turn it took.

30 Things Every Women Should Know or Should Have by the Time She's 30 - I knew a few people that read this and liked it.  I'm kind of over lists and books written by other people about what I should do.  I like to make my own lists.  I would say if you like these kinds of things, it's not too bad.

The Husband's Secret - I really liked this book.  It was another story written from multiple perspectives and that seems to be my thing right now.  I would recommend this book to anyone.

When She Was Gone - This was another one that I wouldn't recommend.  I didn't love the story.  I liked some of the characters, but I didn't get too into the story.  I feel like this is a book that others have really liked, so maybe it's just me.  It was written in a few different perspectives, so I don't just love all books written that way.

To keep on track for the summer, I decided to participate in the Summer Reading Challenge that I've seen a few people participating in.

I love challenges like these.  I haven't figured out all the books I'll be reading to fit into the categories, but I'm just going to go through my "to-read" list on Goodreads (be my friend here.)  Here are the categories:

5 points: Freebie! Read any book that is at least 200 pages long.
10 points: Read a book that was written before you were born.
10 points: Finish reading a book you couldn't finish the first time around. (You must have at least 150 pages left in the book to use it for this category.)
10 points: Read a book from the children’s section of the library or bookstore.
15 points: Read a book that is on The New York Times' Best Sellers List when you begin reading it.
15 points:
 Read a historical fiction book that does not take place in Europe.
15 points: Read a book another blogger has already read for the challenge. (Yes, you will have to wait until the first check-in to choose this book! So no one will be able to finish this challenge in only one month; sorry!)
20 points: Read a book with “son(s),” “daughter(s)” or “child(ren)” in the title. No other words will count—including kids, offspring, etc.—so please don’t ask. :)
20 points: Read a book that was/will be adapted to film in 2014. (Here are 16 ideas to get you started, but I know there are plenty more options.)
25 points: Read a book written by a blogger. (Submitted by Jessica of The Tangerine.)
25 points: Read a biography, autobiography or memoir.
30 points: Read a pair of books with antonyms in the titles.

Let me know if you have any suggestions for the categories.  Also, let me know if you've read any of the books I talked about today and what your thoughts were.  

Erica Jacquline

May 5, 2014

Pinball & Psychics - My Last 10 iPhone photos

I saw this brilliant list of 36 blog post ideas and decided to play along.  Since I'm still exhausted from a super fun weekend, I'm doing a very brief recap of my last few days according to the last 10 photos on my phone... aka I don't take very many pictures on my phone.

You've all seen the picture on the right, but my college roommate requested that I send her the one on the left because she thought they were almost the same picture of me, so I downloaded it to my phone to send her.  She's right.  They are pretty much the same.

I didn't feel very good last week which means the heating pad comes out and my dogs instantly try to steal it.

We had a friend visiting this weekend and we had a beautiful Saturday morning in Central Park.

We always visited the Oyster Bar in Grand Central.  Yep, I've officially eaten Oysters twice and I still like them.  I did discover that size matters... I like the smaller ones better.

We enjoyed some beers in Williamsburg and played quite a few rounds of Pinball.  My husband was in his own little wonderland.

Sunday morning, we ventured to the Top of the Rock to start our Sunday Stroll.  This is one of my favorite places in New York City even though it's filled with tourists.  I love being that high up and just sitting and taking it all in.

After a really good deal on pitchers of beer in Greenwich Village, we decided to stop at this Psychic and get Katie's palm read.  We were laughing that she has a random picture of Drew Barrymore and Ben Stiller in her window.

We finished another successful Sunday stroll right before the rain started.  We headed home to watch hockey and order in tacos.  I'm tired and now it's Monday.