October 30, 2014

The Facts of Steph

Let me tell you a few truths about my life.  I'm not that exciting.  I'm not that classy... yet.  I find myself entertaining.  I don't take myself too seriously.  I suck at duck/fish/teenager face.

I've done this post once before - facts of me from Jan 2013 - I'm a little shocked how many things are similar.  This was my very first link up in the blogging world.

I'm writing this while having a "me" night.  What does that mean?  A few things:

  1. Catching up on the Bravo crap saved on my DVR
  2. I ate Cream Cheese Wontons from my freezer and an entire carton of raspberries from my fridge for dinner.
  3. Red, red wine.  The drink, not the song.
  4. Online shopping - xmas presents & Kate Spade Saturday sale (no Justin, I didn't buy anything)
  5. My favorite PJ's
  6. A funny looking face mask
  7. My 2 favorite dogs snoring and cuddled up next to me on the couch
I hate laundry that requires anything more than wash in cold and dry.  Once a week, I do a gentle/hand wash cycle and have to "dry flat."  That means find places for sweaters and dress shirts to dry - over doors, shower curtains, dining room chairs.  

I've never felt the amazingly addicting gym thing that people talk about.  It's a struggle for me all the time.  I just try and struggle my way through it by tricking myself that it isn't exercise - it's just walking/biking/hiking to find the next bakery or happy hour.

I love lists and planners.

The best advice I can give anyone in a relationship is to road trip together.  You should sing songs loudly, stop at cheesy roadside attractions and talk about weird, random questions for hours.  Enjoy it.  Those are some of the best memories you will have. 

My husband grew up on the west coast, we met in the Midwest (where I grew up) and now we are on the east coast.  We have found out in the last year that we are a little more flexible than we knew.  Life is an adventure and we are living it.

Donuts are my favorite dessert right now.  Tomorrow, it might be different.

My main sports teams are:
  1. Baseball - MN Twins
  2. Hockey - NY Rangers
  3. Football - MN Vikings
  4. But really, I love watching live sports games and I will enjoy just about any game.
I don't have a favorite book, movie, TV show or food.  I change all the time.  The only thing that is constant in my favorites is color - all shades of green.

I sleep with 3 pillows, 2 dogs and 1 husband. 

I have blogged almost every day in October (I missed one) with Blogtober.  Boom.  You are welcome.

That's all I can think of now.  Game 7 of the World Series is in the 8th inning, so it's time I focus attention there.

What else do you want to know? Ask me anything below.  Maybe I'll do a real life vlog and answer questions. 

October 29, 2014

Love Your Neighbors

I recently read a study that came out that said many Americans couldn't pick their next door neighbor out of a police line up.  What does that say about the word "community"?

I guess that doesn't really surprise me.  People are stuck behind phones, iPads, computers and they stop paying attention to the things happening around them.  Everyone is freaked out by the recent dateline story and they've checked the sex offender website more than once in the last month.

In St. Paul, we knew many of our neighbors.  We grabbed mail when people were out of town, shoveled sidewalks if we were the first ones outside after a heavy snow and dropped off baked goods on random Saturday afternoons.

We are still trying to navigate that neighbor thing in our new home.  We've made some great friends with neighbors here since we moved.  The sad thing is that they are now moving out.  Apartments have such quick turnover compared to neighborhoods with single family homes.  Every week, there is a moving truck outside.

We have a dog park which has been the best place to connect with dog loving neighbors.  We have neighborhood events which can be a little too awkward and forced.  We make eye contact near the mailboxes and wave to the people we recognize walking to and from the parking garage.

Then last night, one of the lovely men that lives in our complex decided that he didn't like where J parked in the garage and thought that swearing at him and yelling was the neighborly thing to do.  I watched it all happen.  The guy had to walk to the other garage door because of construction material being in the walkway.  It wasn't Justin's fault at all, but he got so angry about an extra 60 paces that he had to call him an effing asshole.

Deep sigh.  

That kind of moment makes me not want to know my neighbors.

That's not an option.  One guy can't ruin my outlook, so I have to move on.  I have to smile at him the next time I see him.  He has his own battles and stories that I know nothing about, so I won't let him crap on mine.

Instead, I'll just go play with Wally (the puppy across the street), joke with the doorman and maybe leave some candy in the Halloween bowl downstairs.  I'll keep being the best neighbor I can be.  Maybe I'll even take a bottle of wine down the hall after work today and have a drink with one of my favorite neighbors.

Do you know your neighbors?

picture source

October 28, 2014

4 Words for 2014: Calm

Looking back on my 4 words for 2014 - I am pretty surprised at the changes I've made in small parts of my daily routine.  All are for the better.  I haven't recapped my create list because I still have a few things in the works, so I'll post it sometime in the next month.

My final word in my 4 words for 2014 is calm.  It's a necessary way to end a wonderful year.  I originally had the word "chill" but this is the same and it seems more appropriate.

Incorporate Meditation into my routine.  Spend a little more time on Headspace.  Meditation is good for the mind and I love this website.

Yoga Practice.  Continue yoga at least twice a week.  It just makes me feel so much better.

Spend at least 3 days before the end of the year being quiet.  I did this back in April for Earth Day.  Other than work requirements, I refrain from using energy as much as possible for the whole day.  Lots of quiet reading, napping, writing, candles and sleeping when the sky is dark.  No TV, computer, Keurig, microwave, chargers, lights or any sort of machine.  I highly recommend it.

Enjoy a few phone free days.  Have at least 2 full days with Justin doing fun couple things without being concerned with Instagram, Twitter or emails.  Also, way more movie nights and dog walks on week days.  Not mindless TV watching while playing on iPads sitting on separate ends of the couch.

Update our bedroom.  Declutter the room and tone it down a little so it feels like more of a retreat.  It might be time to upgrade our bedroom furniture as well - but that might be a 2015 project.

Enjoy the first snow like I never have before.  You can thank the Gilmore Girls for this idea.

Find our own calm in the crazy holiday season.  There will be a whirlwind trip back to Minnesota, busy work weeks, an out of town Thanksgiving, guests in town and the usual hustle & bustle of the holiday season.  So many fun things, but it's important to remember to take some quiet time.

Sneak away for one more weekend in the woods.  This is more of a wish than a goal.  I would love nothing more than one quiet weekend away with the dogs and my husband.

Nothing like ending the year with a whole lot of deep breaths and a little more flexibility.  I know that I could use a peaceful attitude.

How are you doing on your resolutions?

October 27, 2014

The White Mountains

Our New Hampshire adventure continued with a trip to the Presidential range and then finally to the little town of Jackson where our Bed & Breakfast was located.

Mount Washington has an auto road that takes you 8 miles up to the summit.  It costs $28 per car and then additional money per person in the car.  We pulled in and the woman advised against going to the top because the visibility was low.  We took a few minutes, talked it over and decided not to take her advice.  The clouds were moving so quickly that we thought we might get lucky.  Our gamble paid off.

We got to the summit after an interesting drive in the fog.  We couldn't see anything, but it was amazing and beautiful.  Just stuck in a cloud.  We were a little worried that we wasted the money, but when we started our drive down the mountain, the clouds started moving and the views were incredible.

It was absolutely gorgeous.  The clouds would move a little and show us glimpses of a new valley or peak that we hadn't been able to see yet.  I would recommend this drive to anyone.  You can also take a train to the top.  

Once we got to the bottom, we experienced a little more rain and then a beautiful rainbow.  We ended our evening at our little Bed & Breakfast.  It was called the Inn at Jackson.  We weren't too sure about bed & breakfasts.  It had been a long time since I had stayed at one.  We loved everything about it.  There was a beautiful sitting room on the first floor with a huge fireplace and tons of books and games.  

The breakfast was amazing the next morning.  They had 3 different options for breakfast with tons of side dishes.  Between the fresh cookies, the coffee 24/7 and the amazing breakfast - I was sold.  We will definitely be back to this wonderful B&B, hopefully with skis and hot chocolate this winter.

The last leg of our trip was in Maine.  Then I promise my leaf peeping posts will be done.  

October 26, 2014

What I've Been Reading

I'm a bit behind on my reading goal for this year, but I'm blaming the weather and the place I live.  I feel like we are barely home.  

I did my first book round up in May and you can find it here if you missed it.  I'm in the middle of 2 books right now and I have a few queued up that I'm pretty excited about, so I'll do this one more time at the end of the year.  Here are my thoughts on these 9 books:

The Rosie Project - If you love the Big Bang Theory (or more specifically, Sheldon Cooper), then I'm sure you will love the main character in this story.  I can't wait to read the sequel that comes out soon.  This is a great book to cruise through and I definitely recommend it.

Tell the Wolves I'm Home - This book was quite heavy.  I loved it and I'm glad I read it.  I think heartbreaking stories stick with you longer than the happy ones when they are well written.  It isn't exactly a beach read, but it's definitely worth reading.

Beautiful Day - Hello Beach Towel.  This is the perfect summer day beach read.  Also perfect for a Sunday morning in your pajamas.  I love a wedding story and I'm also a sucker for big families with their fair share of drama, so this was perfect for me.

My Horizontal Life - I love Chelsea Handler.  I love having a funny book in my rotation at all times.  Hers are great because they are a collection of stories.

What Remains - It's no secret that I love the real housewives and Carole is one of my favorites.  Her memoir was beautifully written.  She has quite a story.

The One & Only - This story was weird.  I love her books and usually cruise right through them, but the love interests in this book were weird and I just couldn't get over it.

Love with a Chance of Drowning - I don't know how I ended up finding this book, but it was a great read.  It made me want to get on a boat and travel the world.  I am a big fan of travel books and stories and this was one of my favorites.

This is Where I Leave You - I read this book a month before I saw the movie.  I loved them both.  Funny family dramas are my favorite.  I loved the casting for the movie too.  I can't wait to read another book of his.

Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore - This is another very strange story.  I was intrigued to find out where it ended, but I didn't love what I found when I finished the book.  It was a little too weird for me.

Have you read any of these books?  What are your thoughts?  Any good suggestions for my reading list the rest of this year?

October 24, 2014

Thank You Notes Vol. 5

Today's Blogtober prompt had something to do with beauty products, which I'm not really the right person to ask.  My "beauty" regiment involves chapstick with sunscreen, face lotion with sunscreen and whatever Mascara was on sale at CVS.  And sometimes I paint my nails.  So instead, I'm going to pull a Jimmy Fallon and show some gratitude.

Thank you rain for finally moving on and giving us back our awesome autumn weather.  However, thanks to you I was a little more productive this week since I couldn't go outside and play.

Thank you Juice Journey for being open finally.  Now we have a healthy, easy food option and your Nutty Rabbit smoothie (carrot juice, bananas, sprouted almonds, goji berries & agave) just rocked my world.  No gluten, soy, dairy or processed sugar for the win. If you live anywhere in North Jersey, you should come and check it out.  Bomb.com.

Thank you Day Designer for giving me a place to write down daily to-dos.  I'm confused by my relationship with you.  I feel horrible anytime I neglect you.  If you aren't full of check marks, I show up the next day full of shame.  You are keeping me organized and in line most days and I'm extremely grateful.

Thank you Spotify for allowing me to listen to Disney songs whenever I feel like it.  Also thank you to anyone that follows me for not calling out my weird elementary school choices today.  I might turn on Taylor Swift or a boy band next.

Thank you Candy Crush Saga for reminding me that I'm friends with people on Facebook that I shouldn't be.  Every time I get a request, someone gets unfriended - except my uncle.  He posts funny cartoons, so I'm keeping him.

Thank you Buzzfeed for this article that has convinced me that I need to visit a specific bakery this weekend for a donut.  We are heading into the city to cross another something off the New York City Bucket List.

Thank you Milestone birthdays for making sure there are endless lists that tell me all the things I should have accomplished or figured out by now.  I just read the 15 work out habits you should establish in your 20's and realized I'm going to have a busy winter.  Or I'm always going to suck at working out.

Thank you husband for building me this home sometime in the next decade.

And last but not least, thank you Friday for consistently showing your face around these parts every 7 days.  I'm ready for a bath, hot chocolate with a splash of butterscotch schnapps, pjs and Friday night pizza.  Also, I swear I will put real clothes on and leave my house this weekend, but tonight I will be 90 years old.

October 23, 2014

The Kancamagus Highway

When we told my dad that we were planning a leaf peeping adventure in New England, he launched into a full sales pitch about the Kancamagus Highway, which is a 34 mile stretch of New Hampshire Route 112.  He said it was one of the most beautiful drives he had ever done.

We woke up in Vermont to a rainy morning, but we grabbed hot coffee and headed towards our breakfast destination before beginning our Kancamagus journey.  We went to Polly's Pancake Parlor.  This is a MUST if you are in Northern NH.  You may have to share your table with some strangers, but everyone is friendly and the food is worth it.  Plus, when you have many meals in NYC, you are so used to uncomfortably small eating areas.

Whoops, no pictures of our actual pancakes because we inhaled them.  We did a variety plate plus a full plate of the classics.  The thing I loved most about this place was the fact that they served you 3 hot pancakes and when you cleaned your plate, your next 3 showed up.  It's just the way that my dad makes them and serves them.  Oh man, it brought me back to my happiest childhood mornings.

Once our bellies were full and happy, we set off in the rain.

visit their official website here
My dad was so right.  We were bummed to have such a rainy drive, but we snuck back later in the afternoon and drove part of again for a second time.  I'll just let the pictures do the work, although I can promise you, they didn't capture even a sliver of how beautiful this place was.

I have said a few times that New Hampshire was my favorite part of this trip.  The Green Mountains & Vermont could be described as quaint and beautiful, but the White Mountains & New Hampshire was just breathtaking.  I've got more pictures from the rest of our New Hampshire adventures, but I figured I overloaded enough for today.

P.S. Dad - you were right.  Thanks.

October 22, 2014

Broadway Round-Up

The best part about living so close to NYC is that everything you could want for entertainment is within reach.  We almost always take advantage of the TKTS booth in Times Square or the South Street Seaport. Most of the shows are 50% off and since we are happy seeing most of their options, we usually have a back up plan if our first choice isn't available.

We have seen a few shows since we moved and we have so many more on our list.  I figured I'd recap the ones we've seen so far.  The list is in order from my least favorite to my favorite (so far.)

Cinderella - At the Broadway Theater - Tickets available at TKTS

We saw this in February when Carly Rae Jepsen and Fran Drescher were starring as Cinderella and her stepmother.  We knew that it would be different than Disney's version going into it, but we just felt like the songs and story weren't as memorable.  Even though this was our least favorite, we still enjoyed it, but there are so many good shows that I probably wouldn't recommend it.

Rocky - We were lucky enough to see this show during its run on Broadway this spring, but it is no longer playing.

This is a show to bring your husband to.  The music was good.  Nothing was quite as amazing as the last scene when the entire theater is transformed and you feel like you are at a boxing match.  Everyone is on their feet.  If this comes to a theater near you, take your favorite Rocky fan - it will not disappoint.

Chicago - Playing at the Ambassador Theater - tickets can be found at TKTS

This is a Broadway classic.  What shocked me the most was that one of the lead actresses has been doing this show on and off since it first opened on Broadway in the 90's.  The talent was incredible.  I loved how simple the sets, costumes and stage were and I love that the orchestra is right on stage the whole time.  This was a TKTS purchase for us and it was worth every penny.

Rock of Ages - Playing at the Helen Hayes Theater - Tickets can usually be found at TKTS.  We bought in advance to get 4 tickets together.

We went to this show with our friends, Caroline & Tony, when they were visiting at the end of September.  Constantine Maroulis was playing the lead role and my husband was a fan of his when he was on American Idol (which sadly was almost 10 years ago.)  This show is like going to a party/concert.  There are jello shots and loud music and lots of laugh out loud moments.  And then we met Constantine after the show.  Caroline even got her t-shirt signed :)

The Newsies - Unfortunately, it is no longer on Broadway.  It finished its run this summer.

The show was phenomenal.  It is clear why it won the Tony award for best choreography.  That movie is one of the greatest things to happen to my junior high self.  It took every ounce of self control I have to not jump up during Seize the Day and start dancing.

I will tell you that the lyrics are not all the same as the Disney movie, so you will look silly if you do sing along.

Aladdin - Playing at the New Amsterdam Theater - buy tickets in advance

We just went to see this show on Saturday.  It was my favorite so far.  We bought the tickets about a month ago to go with our friend, Jen, before she moves to Florida.  The music was fantastic.  The show was so entertaining.  It had all of your favorite Disney songs, plus a few new songs.  The genie was amazing and a Tony winner for obvious reasons.  Our seats were expensive and way up high, but once the show started - it was clear that we were going to get our money's worth.

That's the list so far.  We have so many more that we want to see and have a few on the calendar for November.  Jersey Boys, Lion King, Kinky Boots, Cabaret, On The Town, If/Then.  The list could just go on and on.

Since the Blogtober prompt today is pet peeves, I figured it would be a perfect time to share these top 5 theater pet peeves.
  1. PUT AWAY YOUR CELL PHONE.  Stop recording the whole damn thing and don't take pictures during the show.  The flash is annoying and you are annoying.
  2. Get there on time.  Nothing is ruder than making an entire row of people get up.
  3. Sit in your assigned seats and keep your legs to yourself.
  4. Be quiet.
  5. Cool it on the $20 cocktails.
You would be surprised how many people are so out of control rude at these shows - don't be those people.  

Helene in Between Blogtober

If you made it through this super long post, you are a star.  What's your favorite show?

October 21, 2014

Vacation Daydreaming

It's true.  My daydreams consist of vacation dreams.  Every time I pick up Afar magazine, I come up with 2 or 3 new places that I would like to visit.  This list could be different in 6 months, but I'll document today's list here.

Outside the United States:

Honorable Mentions:  Ireland, Denmark, Indonesia, Montreal and Switzerland

Places in the United States:

Honorable Mentions:  Sedona, Los Angeles, Austin, Charlotte/Asheville and the Grand Canyon

If you would like to offer me any free flights, vacation homes, guest bedrooms or food in any of those places (or really anywhere), let me know.

Also, tell me what I'm missing.  What's on your travel bucket list?  I'm going to spend my evening creeping on other people's lists to find out.

Helene in Between Blogtober

Pictures from sourcesourcesourcesourcesourcesourcesourcesource and source