December 31, 2014

2014 Favorites - Part 2

I recapped a few of my favorite things from the last year in this post last week and now I'm back to finish the job.  Everyone is doing it.  Here are a few more personal favorites from the last year.

Posts:

The Perception of Me - the time I wrote down the things I thought the people closest to me would say about me.  Clearly I'm a narcissist.

Be Inspired - a challenge for everyone and one of the most interesting mornings of my year.

That one time that I was Indiana Jones and it was awesome and terrifying.

Our thoughts on being Jersey kids for a whole year.

People:

J Money comes in at number one.  He's the absolute greatest sidekick that ever was and we are pretty much a power couple.

Teddy Bridgewater - rookie of my year.

The entire NY Rangers hockey team.

Jimmy Fallon (Remember that time we touched?)

Grandma Elly - she has sent some of the best newspaper clippings and cards this year.

Pictures:

Now, I must say that these aren't the most high quality photos taken with the nicest cameras, but these are the photos that take me back to a very special memory from the last year and that is why they are my favorites.













If you haven't already done so, you can go check out some New Year's Resolution ideas that I posted about on Venus Trapped in Mars.

Tell me below - what is your New Year's Resolution?  I'm still working on mine and could use a little help.

December 29, 2014

Gaze into the Crystal Ball




The New Year is approaching.  2014 was a great year.  I love looking backwards, but I also love dreaming forwards.  What will 2015 bring for me?

My 30th birthday.  I'm not freaked out about it.  I'm just a little freaked out about getting everything wrapped up from my 30 before 30 list.  The beginning of the year will be focused on those items: Canadian trip, European adventure, trying something off of Groupon, finishing the Bible, raise money for charity, try to find the Northern Lights and take in a few more baseball games.

More outdoor playtime.  New skis for the winter, so many new paths for the warmer months.  So much exploring to do.

Deflecting the baby question at least 15 times throughout the year.  Mostly at my little brother's wedding.

A big decision about our future.  Our lease is up in August and we have a lot of things to figure out about our future and where in the world we will be this time next year.

Less TV watching.  I think we are going to cut cable forever and the thought of it makes me weirdly happy.  The question is - can I live without Bravo?

Simplifying a little more.  Less stuff, more meaning.

Pancakes, green juices, mimosas, egg bakes.  This is the year of the breakfast and a better morning routine.  2 cups of coffee every morning isn't always the best way to start a day.

Homemade dinners, glasses of wine, vegetables and less money spent on eating out.  It's a little friendlier on the waist line as well.

A little more brain activity.  More writing, more reading and maybe learning a few new things.

What about you?  What do you see when you look into the crystal ball?

I'm linking up with these lovely ladies for their 2015 link up.

December 26, 2014

Trying to Look Productive? I Can Help

Hope you had the merriest Christmas and if you don't celebrate Christmas, I hope you got a day off.


We had a very relaxing day in our jammies.  I did actually voluntarily go to the gym.  We FaceTimed with family and made an epic brunch complete with Baked Eggs and bloody marys.  When they are homemade in our apartment, they come with a snit of beer and decorated with cheese & veggies.  The Midwest really does them right.

Now, I have a work day.  I have so much work to do.  For those of you that are working today with me and need to look productive without doing anything, I'm jealous, but I also wanted to put together a few things for you to stay busy.

Write:
- Here is a great list of holiday related prompts from Mr. Thomas & Me

Read:
A Post about quitting social media for a week by a friend.  Makes me think I should take more days off.
Pictures of 100 beautiful places in case you are plotting your next vacation or just want to daydream.
- Another article about my latest obsession, Tiny Houses.  Am I alone on this?
- This story about an airplane encounter.  As someone who sometimes gets annoyed by people during travel, this was important for me to read.
- If you need a new list or are looking for a New Year's resolution, here are 49 Life Skills Every Modern Woman Should Have.  How many of these have you conquered?  I have some work to do.
- This blog that has a little fitness, a little food and she lives in England... so that's way cool in itself.

Watch:
- 12 Dates of Christmas.  It is cheesy, has Zack Morris and reminds me of Groundhog Day.
- Parks and Rec.  The end is coming and I'm beyond sad so I'm watching every episode before bed.
- This mash up of popular songs from 2014:


Just need to get through the piles today and I'll have a weekend.  I love these holiday short weeks.

December 23, 2014

Lights, Plants and Trains - Holidays in NYC


I promise you - there are lots of magical places in New York City around the holidays that aren't within walking distance of Times Square.  We spent the weekend checking out a few that had been recommended by a few friends and I'm so happy we did because they have become two of my favorite holiday activities.

First, we traveled to the Bronx to the New York Botanical Gardens.  We are members here and have enjoyed the beautiful grounds throughout this last year, but this was my favorite visit.  If you already have spring fever, click here or here for other seasons at the garden.  During the months of November and December, they build a miniature New York City out of different plant materials and run trains through it.  It is absolutely incredible.  I'm going to post a few pictures, but they really don't do it justice.  My advice is to get your tickets in advance and try for the first slot of the day if you don't like lots of people.











It is definitely something worth checking out.  Once you are ready for more holiday fun, get yourself out after dark to see Christmas lights.  We have a favorite from last year in Queens.  It's one of the champions of the Great Light Fight.  We returned again to check it out.  There were even more people there this year on a Monday night than there were last year on Christmas Eve, but it's amazing to see.




After visiting this house in Queens, it's about a 30 minute drive to Dyker Heights in Brooklyn.  We headed there and refueled with some pizza from Tony's Pizzeria.  There are blocks and blocks of great light displays and beautiful homes.  It was 50 degrees out and an absolutely perfect night to be out getting some fresh air.




Celebrating Christmas in New York City is absolutely incredible.  I'm so excited that we made it to these places this year and hope that this will continue to be a tradition for us.


December 22, 2014

The Importance of a Safe Word

'Tis the season of family gatherings, holiday parties with lots of cocktails and lots of judgment on your current life situation from people that "know better."  Just kidding, I really love this time of year and we had an absolute blast on our trip home.  BUT sometimes you need to plan for the crazy.


One of our favorite Christmas movies is Four Christmases.  Vince Vaughn is a favorite in this household.  If you've never seen the movie, it is about a couple that has to visit each of their parents and put up with the craziness that comes with it.  They have a safe word in the movie - "mistletoe."  Turns out, this theory is brilliant when traveling with your significant other over the holidays.

We joked about "mistletoe" for our trip, but agreed that if anything got to be too much - we could use the word and take the time we needed to regroup and the other would hold down the fort.  

Turns out, we needed it a few times:

Mistletoe - Justin was repeatedly being jumped on by our three nieces for a good 20 minutes while we were supposed to be having "movie time."

Mistletoe - After a Friday night xmas with my family and an early coffee date with my sister in law, I needed a 20 minute nap before meeting friends for a late lunch.

Mistletoe - Chuck E. Cheese - there were multiple mistletoes here which resulted in handing off the tokens to each other to shift the attention from all the children.

Mistletoe - 10 hours into our final day of driving and we both needed fresh air and to move around.

Not so bad, right?  If you take any advice from me this holiday season, come up with a safe word.  Enjoy your time with family and don't get overwhelmed.  If the safe word doesn't work, then just go shopping - or at least enter this giveaway.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

December 19, 2014

Holiday Road Trips


Road Trip Essentials

We just returned from our holiday trip back to Minnesota to celebrate Christmas and take care of some work stuff.  It is exactly 1203 miles each way in the car with dogs (they DON'T fly and we wanted to take them.)  We did each leg of the trip in two days.  It was good quality bonding time for us and the dogs.  The weather was awesome, the hotels we found were decent and the Chicago traffic was barely a thing.  I think we are getting good at this road trip stuff.

In my opinion, you need 5 things for an easy, successful road trip.

1. Entertainment - We caught up on Serial and a few other podcasts, listened to part of a Bill Bryson book and had a 3 hour 90's music singalong with Spotify.

2. Comfortable clothes - Fleece lined leggings and warm socks are requirements for me when traveling by car in the winter.  My husband usually rocks some sweatpants and a comfy hooded sweatshirt.  Who cares what you look like when you have to sit in the car for 10 hours?

3. Health food - We stocked up on juices before we left because otherwise we knew we would stop for sodas and sugar drinks all the way through the Midwest.  The juices were in a small cooler along with carrots, apples and other healthy finger foods.

4. The opposite of Health food - We always share a bag of combos.  Even though we packed mostly healthy stuff, you have to have at least one gross item.

5. More comfort - I packed our U-shaped travel pillows for ourselves, but we quickly discovered that Lola fits right inside of those and they were perfect for her to sleep in.  Everyone was more comfortable when she was comfortable.


What do you need when you travel?  Are you headed anywhere for the holidays?

December 18, 2014

2014 Favorites - Part 1

The year is coming to an end and the gift guides are starting to die down.  That means it is time for 2014 in review posts.  I love these, so I'll be sharing a few.  Today, I'm sharing a few of my favorites. I should warn you that I'm not always on top of the newest trends, so some of these did not come out this year, but I enjoyed them this year.

Books

These were my 3 favorite books that I've read this year.  I know they are a little random, but these are the three that I couldn't wait to pick back up every time I put them down.  Plus, we all know how much I love Andy Cohen - total guilty pleasure.




Movies

Gone Girl & This is Where I Leave You were my two favorite movies.  Turns out I didn't see many this year, but I have a lot I want to see this holiday season.  Hopefully I'll add a few more to this list.  The plan is to see: Wild, Unbroken, Mockingjay, Into the Woods and the Theory of Everything.  I better get to the theater sooner rather than later.

TV Show Binges

Breaking Bad - We started the first season over a year ago and then realized that it would just be easier to wait until the show was done and watch the whole thing beginning to end.  Incredible.

Scandal - I get the Olivia Pope fascination now.

Gilmore Girls - Not sure how I missed this show the first time around, but it's my guilty pleasure now.

30 Rock - Because Tina Fey

Songs  - I'll admit that I loved Fancy for the first three weeks it was out around my birthday and then I started to hate it.  These are all songs I have listened to a ton this year and have not gotten sick of yet.  I'd call that a win.








The Best Songs Of 2014

Linking up with Helene for the best songs.  Tell me your favorites from the year.  I could use some new stuff to check out.

December 17, 2014

I'm BACK!!!!

I'm back from the motherland of Minnesota with an extra 5 lbs of fat and my sanity intact.  The craziness that usually comes with the holiday season has passed for us.  We celebrated a work holiday party, both family Christmas parties, 4 weeknight dinners with friends, one large friend get together, 2 brunches, 1 trip to the Minneapolis holiday market, 1 Chuck E Cheese date and a successful bridesmaid dress shopping trip.

source
Our next few weeks are just the two of us with the pups.  It will be quiet and peaceful, but better than last year because we got our family time in face to face.

When we arrived back home late Monday night, it felt so good to be home.  I missed certain little things about my routine that I had never really thought about before.  In Minnesota, we were jumping from guest room to guest room.  

I missed my Keurig that I can start in my underwear in my kitchen before I jump in the shower so I have a hot cup of my favorite coffee as soon as I'm ready.  I missed my closet where things can be hung up.  I missed being able to just throw dirty clothes right into the washing machine.  I missed my couch (although our friends, Brady & Kelsey, have the same one, so that was nice.)  I missed my early AM/late night reading & writing time.  I missed my treat cabinet that I can sneak into if I need a little snack.  I missed the juice place downstairs that can help me bounce back if I spend too much time in my treat cabinet.  I missed walking.

I could go on and on, but I have a point.  I realized how much I enjoy my daily routine.  Traveling is so much fun, but I finally feel the same amount of joy when I come home.  I've never been able to say that in the past.  Maybe it's our current location or maybe it's the awesome daily routine I have, but whatever it is - I like it.

There is so much laundry and work catch up to be done, so I'm off to have my second cup of my favorite coffee.  Happy Hump Day all.

December 10, 2014

'Tis the Holiday Season

Minnesota is not as cold as it probably should be this time of year which means I haven't had to purchase additional long underwear yet.  We have been busy hopping from place to place and filling our week days with work meetings and lunch dates.  It's been hectic, but it's been absolutely wonderful.  This is the motherland and these are our people.

We have some pizzas cooking in the oven and some dogs that just visited their favorite vet and need some love, so I'll leave with you my favorite picture from last weekend.


If you want to see pictures of the happenings, make sure to follow me on Instagram @stephgregerson and you can also follow J @justingregerson.  In the meantime, I just wanted to remind you that the giveaway for the Etsy gift card ends tomorrow night and I have some awesome ladies on the side bar for you to check out.  Hope you are having a wonderful week and staying warm wherever you are.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

December 5, 2014

Home for the Holidays + a Giveaway

As a teenager, I would watch The Family Stone and think how awesome it would be to someday go Home for the Holidays.  I'm officially there.  We made the trek back to the motherland this week and I can't wait to do holiday things with family.  We will be watching Frozen with our nieces, make gingerbread houses, get some work meetings done and have lots of happy hours and get-togethers with family and friends.


I'm also going to eat Christmas Tree Cakes for breakfast as many days as possible and drink Caribou Coffee and find myself some hot dish.

While I'm frolicing around the winter wonderland in the Twin Cities, I'm leaving you with this giveaway to help you finish up your Christmas shopping (or start it like many of my friends.)  Go check out some of the awesome ladies on my sidebar and win yourself a gift card.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

December 2, 2014

Beers in New England


Back in October, we took the most amazing road trip through New England.  The one part I left out of our recaps was our brewery tour.  One of the items on my 30 before 30 list was to visit 5 new breweries and we were able to accomplish this in one week as we trekked through the northeast.

Vermont Breweries





The brewery at the Von Trapp Family Lodge near Stowe definitely had the best scenery.  You are looking out over the Green Mountains on a deck with sheep and other animals running around below you.  They have a deli with some snacks and 4 different brews to sample.  We loved being outside.




Harpoon Brewery in Windsor also had a great location.  It was located near lots of other shops and eateries.  They had bonfire pits set up outside and a great hang out atmosphere.  Plus, I just love Harpoon beer :)




Our favorite brewery of the whole trip was Long Trail.  We stumbled upon it accidentally, but I was super happy that we did.  They had food, beer and a beautiful setting with a "backyard."  If you ever find yourself in the middle of the Green Mountains (which you should), then I would definitely recommending stopping here for a bite and a drink.

Maine Breweries

Our trips to breweries on the coast of Maine were a little quicker, but enjoyable nonetheless.


Our first stop was to Atlantic Brewery in Bar Harbor, ME.  They had a Leaf Peeper Ale which was meant to be for us.  The blueberry was also super tasty.  In the middle of a busy cruise port, we were happy to find this treat.


On our trip down the coast of Maine, we stopped at the Marshall Wharf brewery.  This was my least favorite of the places we stopped.  The beer was a little too hoppy for me.  We didn't even finish the 2 oz samples that we shared.  This would be a great place to go if you are an IPA lover that enjoys the tiny places.


Our last stop was Shipyard.  This was a recommendation from lots of friends.  You watch a quick movie and then you get to try a few of their beers.  There were also having a sale on their summer beers, so we stocked up on some watermelon and grapefruit beers... which only lasted a week once we were home.

And then in Portsmouth...

We had deviled eggs and beers at the Portsmouth Brewery.  Our goal was five breweries in seven days.  What can I say?  We are over achievers.


What is your favorite brewery to visit?