January 29, 2015

Status Report: NYC Bucket List

It has been just over a year since I wrote up my New York City bucket list.  We were pretty new here still and just threw together a list based on what we had heard or read about.  We only have a few things left on the list to complete before I turn 30.  There are so many things I would add now and a few that I would tell people to skip.  When we are all completed, I'll share a few more of those, but today, I just wanted to give you an update.

The Classics - 100% complete - This was the first group to be completed as a whole.  This is the basic NYC stuff.  The Empire State Building is the only thing we missed, but we included the Top of the Rock.

Get to the Top of the Rock when there are leaves on the trees in Central Park.
Visit the Statue of Liberty.
Explore Central Park.
Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.
Visit Coney Island.

The Food/Drink - 77% complete - We have a little more work to do to finish this off, but no one complains about eating.  Because we have amazing friends, we have gift cards to Clinton Street Baking Company & the Farm on Adderly, so those will be checked off soon.  Steve's Key Lime Pies is where I plan to have my birthday dessert this year.

Find a good New York bagel and see what the fuss is about.
Get Frozen Hot Chocolate from Serendipity.
Take advantage of one of the many outdoor food festivals.
Eat a slice of heaven at Steve's Key Lime Pies.
Enjoy lunch or dinner at the Farm on Adderly in Brooklyn - Thanks Erin & Nick!!!
Try Arepas at a Street Fair or Caracas.
Treat ourselves to cupcakes at Magnolia Bakery.
Explore Eataly.
Try Oysters for the first (and possibly the last) time.
Brunch at the Clinton Street Baking Company.
Sit on the patio at Pure Food & Wine - a strictly raw restaurant.

Outdoor Activites - 40% complete - This is what springtime in the city is for.  We are signed up for the MS Climb to the Top of the Rock (help me hit my fundraising goal here or join our team) on March 1st.  We have plans to see a Mets game in the spring as well.  We have a lot of walking to do to complete our city walks, but we are excited to explore Harlem and Brooklyn a little more.  One of our favorite surprises from this list was the George Washington Bridge.  We made the trek across the bridge on foot a few weekends ago and got to the lighthouse underneath.  Such a cool area if you are looking for a new place to explore.

Find the lighthouse under the George Washington Bridge.
Take the tram to Roosevelt Island.
See a game at Yankee Stadium.
Rent bikes for Riverside Park.
Sign up for a run or charity event in NYC.
See a game at Citi Field.
Visit Governors Island.
Complete all 50 City Walks: New York that we received from Katie. (29/50 are completed)
Take a ride on the Beast (a gift from Pam & Whitney).

Museums & History - 66% complete - If I made this list now, I would have so many other museums on the list, but we are almost complete with these and then we will move on to explore others and revisit the Met since it's huge.

See the New York Panorama at the Queens Museum of Art.
Go to the Museum of Modern Art.
Visit the Museum of the City of New York.
Make the trip to Ellis Island.
Have a drink at Fraunces Tavern where George Washington once spent the night.

Movies, Theater & Entertainment - 88% complete - This has been one of my favorite categories (probably because of Jimmy Fallon) and we just bought tickets to check the last thing off the list.  I am beyond excited to see Stevie Wonder in April at the Barclays Center.  We have been out of town every time he's been near NYC, so when he announced more shows a few weeks ago, we knew that we would have to make this one work.  Plus, we are adding a new Broadway show to our list tonight!

See the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall.
How many Broadway shows can we see?  Newsies, Cinderella, Rocky, Rock of Ages, Chicago, Aladdin, Kinky Boots, Spiderman
Find the fire station from Ghostbusters.
Check out the Brooklyn Bowl.
Catch at least one outdoor concert.
Enjoy a game or concert at the Barclays center.

Surrounding Areas - 73% complete - I'm not sure if we will make it to Provincetown before my birthday, but we will at least have it on the calendar for this summer.  The rest of these little day trips or weekend trips have been incredible.  Everything here is so damn close.  We have a few more places to visit and then I'll have my list of the best day trips from the city.

Visit the Hamptons and find somewhere for Justin to catch a wave.
Drive to Hyde Park and explore.
Spend a day in Mystic, CT.
Hike one of the peaks in the Hudson Valley - possibly Bear Mountain.
Spend a summer day in Cape May, NJ.
Explore Rhode Island.
Go leaf peeping in Vermont/New Hampshire.
Camping in the Catskills or in the Finger Lakes region.
Spend a weekend skiing/snowboarding in Vermont.
Revisit Provincetown.

Total 40/55 - 73% completed

So that's my update.  I'm excited for the next few months and checking things off my list.  How many things have you done off this list?  

January 27, 2015

Do You Hygge?

Wondering what in the hell hygge is?  Unless you are Danish, Norwegian or you have recently read a few of the same articles I have, that's probably what you're thinking.  Hygge - pronounced HYU-gah - is almost impossible to translate into English.  The best word to describe it is coziness.

Northern European countries face the same harsh winters that we do in the Northeast and Minnesota. Instead of letting the cold, dark days get them down, they use it to get together with their friends, family and really connect.  Danes are one of the happiest populations in the world, so it's worth trying.

Imagine a living room with a blazing fire, board games and no cell phones.  Imagine happy hour around a bonfire and strangers clinking glasses.  Imagine a night with candles, wool blankets and real conversations.  Imagine sharing a 12 pack of Sam Adams Winter Lager with your neighbors while making snowmen and dreaming of ski vacations.

To me, it's a very romantic idea and something that we have been looking forward to this winter.  As much of the Northeast is blanketed in snow, today is a great day to share this idea with all of you. Because I am not an expert on this phenomenon yet, I'll share some of the articles I've read floating around the internet.

From Mother Nature Network - How Hygge can help you get through winter

From NPR - Winter Doldrums got you down? Have some Hygge

From Fathom Away - What the Hell is "Hygge"?

From MinnPost - Our Hygge Moment: How a Danish cultural concept can help cut through a dark Minnesota winter

From PineTribe - What is Hygge? Explaining the Unexplainable

Let me know what you think.  Is it something you could embrace for a little extra happiness this winter?  Hopefully all of our friends in Boston are safe at home this morning.  Our travel bans were lifted moments ago, so it looks like we can resume normal life this morning.  No winter wonderland for me this morning, but a hot cup of coffee, long underwear and a busy day of work ahead of me.

Original photo from Unsplash

January 26, 2015

A Little Blizzard Story

In honor of the blizzard of 2015 rolling in over the coast currently, I thought I'd give you a little throwback Monday.  I wrote the following story on December 10, 2012.  No one read my blog then and it kind of fits with the weather outside.  I'll be back tomorrow with updates on this blizzard.  Don't worry about us, we have food, beer, candles and the necessary items to build a snowman.  Stay safe East Coasters.  

I take care of business.

My lovely husband was away on business, so when I got home from work, I had to deal with some duties that I wouldn't normally trust myself with.  We had a tad bit of a blizzard yesterday.  It was an awesome day because we didn't really have anything to do so we sat around in our pajamas most of the day and just relaxed.  

Hee Hee - my mailbox
Love the snow!!!!

My drive home was a little crazy today because the roads still have a bunch of packed down snow on them.  There were a few stuck semis in my path and it took me about double the amount of time to get home.  I was planning to have movie night with Annika, but after my crazy commute, I didn't think getting back in the car was a good idea.  I put on my favorite hot pink pajamas and my broken in college sweatshirt and settled in to catch up on Bravo... 


That damn blizzard covered my satellite dish and none of the Bravo shows I usually DVR on Sunday nights had recorded... this was not going to fly.  I know that my father usually just hits his dish with a broom, so I decided to try this.  I stayed in my pajamas and put on my boots and headed out to the backyard to take inventory of the situation.  So what that there was about 9 1/2 vertical feet between me and the dish, we were going to resolve this situation.  

I headed back inside and grabbed a kitchen chair and a broom and made the first attempt.  I couldn't even reach the bottom. I went downstairs on a hunt for something longer and grabbed my husband's 6 foot level.  That worked and I was able to knock some snow right into my face.  I went back inside and realized that it wasn't enough.  I headed back down to the garage and found the step ladder which gave me another 7-8 inches and went back at it.  I just tapped it lightly as fast as I could without falling off the ladder.  I can't even imagine what my neighbors would have thought if they had seen me.  I know I'm not supposed to stand on the top of the step ladder, but I had my phone in my front pocket in case of emergency.  I was finally successful.  It's a little funny that I found something that couldn't be fixed with Duct Tape.

My Duck Dynasty inspiration (my brother would be proud)
My Tool Kit
I just have to say that I am quite proud of myself and I will celebrate my success with a Moose Drool Brown Ale and a peanut butter sandwich (oops, we have no food in the house.)  And most importantly, I will be able to watch Real Housewives of Beverly Hills... we all know this had nothing to do with my new found independence, patience and persistence   However, I'm proud to say that I took care of business at this household tonight.  

January 21, 2015

The State of Steph

Inspired by our leader's yearly update last night, I figured I'd give you all an update on me.  That's what this blog is for, right?

I love Moscow Mules this winter.  I've loved them in the past too, but lately these have been my favorite.  I also love Mac & Cheese and wish that it was a diet food.  Cheese + Pasta = pure happiness.

Also, according to that picture, I look tired and I need a haircut.

My MacBook Pro gave me the white screen of death last night.  I had a very sad moment and then I spent hours researching from my iPad (I have a bit of an Apple problem) and I have scheduled surgery to take place in my living room this evening.  I have a few smart friends on speed dial if this all goes bad.

This is the slow season in my industry.  That means completely the opposite for me.  This is the time of year to do more training, more improvements and more work.  My days have been long and exhausting.  My escape to Florida was a nice breather and I have another one in a few weeks, but I need to just kill for a few months and get some big projects checked off the list and I'll have some daylight back.

I turn 30 this year.  My 30 before 30 list is getting smaller and smaller and I have some big plans in the next few months to finish this up.  This has been one of my best decisions ever.

I've been a bad blogger lately.  I need to get back into my nightly routine but lately I've been staring at a computer screen so long each day that have no interest in the evenings.  I'm going to get into a new rhythm that involves a little more productivity on the weekends.

I cancelled Stitch Fix for a while.  The last few haven't been quite as fun and I felt like I was trying too hard to like things, so I put it on pause for a while.  It's time to start wearing the things I already have in my closet.

The travel bug has really bit me and I'm having a blast planning our trips for this year.  We are saving as much money as possible (like cancelling Stitch Fix) so that we can do some awesome things this year.

Last, but not least - a few plugs. If you are interested in social media & marketing, go check out my friend Christina's giveaway here.  Also, a huge thank you to those that have donated and helped me get a little closer to my goal for the MS Climb.  Fundraising page is here if you are interested.

Tell me what is happening with you.

January 20, 2015

A Manatee Adventure

It's been a few days, but I'm getting back into my daily routine with a few twists and turns.  Every cloudy day here makes me miss the Florida sunshine.

I mentioned before that we did things a little differently on our girls weekend in Florida.  We each took one day and planned out some activities to surprise the other person with.  Kirsten had Friday and we had a blast.  We started our day with a kayaking adventure in the Orange River with the Manatee Guides.

Seriously, if you are ever in the Fort Myers area, you have to do this.  It was just a group of 4 with 2 guides.  We saw tons of Manatees and learned a ton about these amazing animals.  The experience of seeing them in their natural habitat was incredible.  Our guides were very knowledgeable and have a passion that you can't really describe.

After our 4 hour tour, we headed to the beach and filled up on some wonderful seafood at Smokin Oysters Brewery.  We walked around Fort Myers Beach area for a while, taste tested some fruity wines and browsed the cheesy souvenir shops.

Our last stop of the day was Lover's Key State Park which quickly became one of my favorite places. It was quiet and beautiful.

It was an amazing day and it was super fun to have someone else plan a day of fun.  I usually don't love surprises, but this was different.  It got us both out of our normal vacation comfort zone.  Plus, Manatees are amazing.  

January 14, 2015

I Need a Little Help

A little R&R is sometimes all I need to recharge.  I had the best weekend full of new adventures, walks on the beach and early bed times.  So many laughs.  If only I could do that once a month.

I will share some of our adventures of the next few weeks, but today, I need to brain dump a little bit.

- I want Buffalo Plaid everything.  It screams winter coziness to me.  I'd like a vest, a blanket, some socks.

- My new skis came and I'm ridiculously excited to get them out on the slopes.  We have our annual ski trip with Katie planned for a couple weeks, but if the weather is good, I'm going to make sure I remember how to get down the mountain before Lake Placid.

- I really did give the Bachelor a try, but I just don't understand it.  Sorry, but if I want to watch a bunch of crazy real whores, I'll stick with Bravo.

- I have 27 colors of nail polish.  I counted them tonight.  I've never even used half of them, so I'm challenging myself to use each color this year at least once.

- I have a new addiction - Lara Bars - specifically the Peanut Butter Cookie flavor.

- So many babies born, new jobs, engagements and goals set during the first few weeks of the New Year.  So many happy feelings.  I just love it.

- One of my favorite bloggers in all the land has started a brand new adventure and I'm sooooo proud of her.  Please please go and check her out - http://bestdayevereventsblog.blogspot.com - she's giving away a gift card, so you would be silly not to.

My last random item is a little less random.  We need your help.  Justin and I are going the MS Climb to the Top of the Rock in March.  We recently lost a really good family friend to MS and there are many people in our lives impacted by MS.  This is something we can do to help.  It's a 66 story climb, but it is one of the most beautiful views in the city.

If you are in the NYC area and want to do the climb, feel free to join our team "Team Johnson."  If you are able to donate a few dollars, I would be forever grateful.

Here is the fundraising page.

Any bloggers that donate will receive free ad space on my blog as well for a little extra incentive.

That's all I have for today.  Back to dive into my emails to continue to make a dent.  Woof.  I can't wait until my next vacation.

January 9, 2015

Fridays are Better in Florida

I'm officially on my mini vacation to warm my body a little bit and have some girl time.  We are in the Fort Myers area for a long weekend.  It's so nice being surrounded by palm trees and sunshine for a few days.

I figured I'd keep it short and sweet today.  Here are 5 things I'm excited about this weekend:

1.  Day of fun #1 - Each of us planned a day of activities to surprise the other with.  Kirsten planned today, so I have no idea what we are doing.  I was told to wear my swimsuit and bring a change of clothes.  That's it.

2.  Day of fun #2 - I planned tomorrow, so I know how much fun we are going to have and I'm super excited.  Planning our trip this way gave each of us a way to surprise the other person and to plan activities that we might not have normally planned.

3.  Sunday will be our warmest day, so you will find us near the pool/beach.  I'll be reading all day long and then finishing the day watching Amy & Tina kill it at the Globes.

4.  This is the maiden voyage of the GoPro.  It's currently wearing something that looks like a life vest and I can't wait to take it on our adventures.

5.  Another 3 nights of sunsets like this one.

Thanks to everyone for their recommendations.  I can't wait to try a few of these places.  Happy Friday!

January 5, 2015


It is day 5 of the New Year.  Are you sticking with your resolutions?  I am a big fan of 2015 so far.  We have checked some things off our fun list, seen the movies on our list in the theater (while sneaking in snacks), cleaned out our closet and under our couch.  #winning (yep, hashtags are still a thing this year)

Celebrating Quincy's 10th birthday.  Lola loves him so much that she has made him a throne... literally.  This milestone makes me a little sad, I just can't believe he has already been alive for a decade and in our lives for 9 years.  Time flies when you're having fun.

Reading Yes, Please!  I'm so excited.  I love Amy Poehler so much.  I'm so excited to read a few more books this year.  I've got so many lined up in queue.

Loving my Hunter boots.  It's been rainy and cold here, so being able to jump into puddles makes it all fun.

Working on a new project with my husband and taking our decluttering to the next level.

Smelling the Dumbledore's Office candle from Frostbeard Studio.  Special thanks to Kelsey for making dreams come true.

Realizing that my 30th birthday is creeping up.  No better time than now to start using better face cream.  Also, we are making some last minute plans to wrap up by my 30 before 30 list.

Eating cookies sent from St. Paul, MN.  My mom's friend, Mary, has the best Russian Tea Cakes each year at the cookie exchange.  Since I moved away, she has made sure I haven't missed out.  I received the carefully packaged box in the mail today.  Day maker.

Packing for my warm weather escape that is only 2 days away.  Please please please give me any recommendations you have for the Fort Myers area.

Watching movies at the theater - finally.  We kind of stopped going to the theater over the summer and fall and we've gone twice in the last week.

First, we saw Into The Woods and it was the worst movie I've seen in a while.  It makes me sad to say that because I love Disney and I love musicals and I love fairy tales.  Sorry, but I wanted to walk out of this movie.

We had to make up for that poor experience by seeing Unbroken on New Year's Day.  This book was incredible and if you haven't read it, it should be the next on your list.  It's impossible not to be a little inspired by this man's courage.  The movie doesn't even do the story a little bit of justice, but I'm glad we saw it.

Last, but definitely not least, was Wild.  I loved the book.  I could have gone with less of Reese's boobs in the movie, but I thought it stayed true to the book and was a great movie.  Not one I'll see again, but I'm glad we saw it.

Hope you are killing it with your resolutions.  Hey, you made it through your first Monday of the year, so there's that.  Cheers.

January 2, 2015

2015 will be Simply Wonderful

2015 has arrived.  Although I was sad to see 2014 go, I love the idea of a brand new year, a whole new trip around the sun.  There are many ways that I have grown over the last year.  I have let go of a little control in my life and enjoyed things in the moment a little bit more.

I love reading resolutions made by friends and family and I love helping them achieve their goals.  Last year, I picked four words to focus on for the year and the challenge was exactly what I wanted/needed.

This year, I'm keeping it simple and straightforward.  My resolution this year is Simplify.  I want to cut out the crap, be friendly to the environment, be good to myself and enjoy the simple pleasures as much as ever.  The simplest things can be the most important.

Hope you all had a New Year's Eve filled with champagne, good food and lots of love.  Happy 2015.