August 28, 2015

A Letter to my Little Bro

In 24 hours, we will be getting ready for my little brother's wedding. I've been thinking a lot about the last 25 years with him and it blows my mind that his wedding day is here. So, I'm writing him a little letter today. 


Dear Timmy,

Holy crap, you are getting married. I'm so excited to celebrate your wedding this weekend. My soon to be sister-in-law is so fantastic. Your day will be perfect and amazing.


Our age difference meant that we grew up in different universes. You were the annoying kid that always listened in on my phone conversations and locked me out of the house anytime that I had to babysit you. I moved away to college before you even started high school. It's hard for me to imagine you any older than that annoying 7th grader with a blond perm.


Now that we are older, our relationship is easier. We don't see each other very often because I don't live around the corner anymore. Getting to hang out at Disney World a few years ago will always be one of my favorite memories. When you add in the ski trips and family game nights, I realize that this whole sibling thing is way cooler than I thought when we were younger.


Jen is the best and we love that she is going to be a Hauer. She's been part of our family for the last four years, but now it will be official.  She jumped right in and embraced all of it. She puts up with your diva qualities (like the jeans incident of 2015) and absolutely loves you.


So, cheers little brother. You aren't such an annoying little kid anymore. You are a pretty cool guy. I can't wait to watch you read the vows you wrote and get me a new sister.

Love,
Your Big Sister

Stay tuned for one million pictures of their wedding festivities - especially their flower girl, Molly, who is pictured below.


August 26, 2015

Return to 'Sota

We have made it back to Minnesota. The beginning of the trip has been lots of work and a little play in the evening hours. My body is already angry and begging for sleep. My heart is quickly filling up thanks to the fact that we've been able to catch up with a few friends/family members in our brief post work hours.


Next week is vacation - no work, just play. I have a few things that are on my list.

1. Sleeping more than 7 hours each night. I'm a sleep hog and I don't function well without a full night's sleep.

2. Bloody Mary on a weekday. We all know that Minnesota has AMAZING bloody marys, so I'll be enjoying one on a weekday.

3. My brother's wedding to my new sissy. I'm so honored to be a part of their day and I can't wait to celebrate with them.

4. The MN State Fair.

5. Playdates with our nieces and nephew + additional family time just lounging around.

6. Some new breweries - Urban Growler is on my list, but I'm open to any Twin Cities breweries that you throw my way.

7. MN Twin's Game. Target Field is one of my favorite ballparks and if the weather is good, I'll be sneaking a game in next week.

8. Celebrating another wedding next weekend of one of our best friends. We snuck in a few good hours to catch up with the bride and the groom last night and I can't wait to see them tie the knot.

In the meantime, I'll be drinking lots of coffee, living out of a suitcase and over instagramming all the things I love about Minnesota (follow me here). Two more days of work crazy and then we are on to vacation crazy.

August 21, 2015

My Favorite Instagram Accounts

I'll just say it - I have an addiction to Instagram. I'm constantly pulling down to refresh and I get very upset if I miss something from one of my favorites. I love seeing the beautiful places, delicious food and hilarious pictures of every day life. I usually unfollow accounts that have obviously staged photos every single day. #boring

Today, I wanted to share a few of my favorite Instagram accounts and why I love them.

1. Pictures of Minnesota make me feel nostalgic. I usually go on a kick browsing hashtags, but recently I stumbled across this account and became an instant fan.
A photo posted by E m i l y (@minnesota_views) on
2. I also feel that way about New Jersey, plus I love adding places to my list that I must explore.
3. NYC pictures are easy to come by, but I love the colors on this account.
4. Writing funny hashtags is a skill and this dog has it, plus he's the cutest damn dog ever (and he's friends with my dogs.) Follow him, k?
5. This woman is hiking the Appalachian Trail and checks in every few days by posting a photo. What an epic journey. I love following along.

A photo posted by tosh.a (@theotherforkintheroad) on
6. Are you a Target fan? I love all things Target, but I don't go as much as I used to. Following this account allows me to know when there's something I need and then I'm on a mission.

A photo posted by targetdoesitagain (@targetdoesitagain) on
7. This account shows a picture every day of the sunrise from Hoboken. There is something incredible about sunrises and I think making a resolution like that is so cool.
There were some nice colors in the sky this morning. I had already taken some shots early on when I saw this cluster of clouds moving in. I had a feeling these clouds would soon light up, but I got even more than I bargained for when these sunrays burst across the sky like giant outstretched fingers. Once again, the wait paid off. There were a lot of people taking pictures of the sunrise this morning and it is easy to understand why. Also, don't forget I've been guest posting some unreleased photos on @njspots yesterday and today so be sure to check it out. #capturethesunrise #sunrise #goodmorning #risebeforedawn #morningroutine #firstlight #morning #dawn #sky #picoftheday #photooftheday #instagood #instamood #nyc #skyline #nycskyline #hudson #hudsonriver #Hoboken #hobokennj #nj #sun #fireinthesky #iloveny #empirestatebuilding #nbc4ny #what_i_saw_in_nyc #sunrays #sunbeam
A photo posted by CaptureTheSunrise (@capturethesunrise) on
8. And then there's me... you are following me, right?

A photo posted by stephgregerson (@stephgregerson) on
That's what I got. I'm probably scrolling through Instagram now as we start our journey back to Minnesota. Make sure to follow along to see our road trip pictures.

Who is your favorite Instagram account to follow? I need a few new ones to keep me occupied.

August 20, 2015

Choosing Happy Words

We have a big trip home quickly approaching. I'm super excited to get back to Minnesota and celebrate a couple of weddings and see some friends & family. It's busy and hectic. We are sleeping somewhere different every couple of nights. Two weeks is a long time to be away from our normal routine. It can be a little overwhelming sometimes for someone that really loves order in my day.

I feel my stress levels on the rise. Then, I get my daily note from the universe. It was just what I needed to hear.


Today, I choose happiness and gratitude.


I'm still feeling awesome about our beach morning. Plus, I started The Outlander. I didn't think I was going to like it after the first few chapters, but I'm 100 pages in now and I'm intrigued. I know I'm a little behind, but better late than never. Hopefully I stay interested because it's a long ass book. Also, the sweatshirt in that picture is from Indy Brand Clothing and it's the softest, most wonderful sweat shirt in all the land.


Summer sunsets this year have been on point. Whether we are out with the dogs or having a glass of wine with our neighbors, we have been trying to enjoy our outdoor time as much as possible. Winter will come again and then everyone will hide inside.


I finally saw the Counting Crows and it was great. We went with a few friends to Pier 97, enjoyed a cold beer and a food truck grilled cheese sandwich. They played new songs, old songs and sounded fantastic. They will always be a classic for me.


We had our fantasy draft this week. So many of our friends are traveling the next few weeks, so it was just easiest to get it done. There was great smack talk and everyone was engaged. We also found the Icelandic beer we liked at our neighborhood liquor store - see the Viking on the label? It's a good sign.


Finally checking Lion King off our Broadway list. I did a Broadway Roundup last year with the shows we had seen. Once we check a few more off, I will recap them including this one, but I will tell you that this was not my favorite Disney show. 


I'm so happy with this guy's recent haircut. He is so soft and smells so good. That beard though - he makes it a mess within 5 minutes of leaving the groomer. There isn't much I can do about it.

Other wonderful things not pictured:

The New York bagel that my husband will be bringing me for lunch today. We won't be able to eat our normal pizza and bagels for two weeks so I have to get my fill. And yes, this is why I need to exercise more - because I eat pizza and bagels on the REGULAR.

Yoga classes outside. I had never gone to a real class before. Our apartments have a teacher come and do a class every Sunday morning and it has been fantastic. I can't wait to get back home and jump back into our new favorite AM activity.

Another closet purge. Turns out that I'm not into strapless maxi dresses this year and I had a whole bunch of t-shirts that I never wear. Feels good to pass them on to someone that will use them.

Smoothies, coffee, sparkling water and wine. And repeat.

My family. It was my mom's birthday this week and I can't wait to celebrate with her live in person. Plus, my little brother is getting married to the most wonderful girl. I can't wait to see everyone. 

*******

So that's that. Tell me what you're grateful for today, especially if you need a little pick me up. 

August 17, 2015

Thoughts on New Jersey


Saturday morning, I heard the alarm go off at 3:30 AM. The beach bag was all packed - I just needed to put on my swim suit and get out the door. We made a quick wawa stop and got to the beach at 5:30 AM. It's the surfer's hour. I should tell you that's the reason we were up that early. My husband loves surfing and I was tagging along to get a good sunrise and a good beach morning.


It was beautiful out - not too cold, but a little breeze. It was just me and an older man about 100 feet down the beach staking his spot for the day. Justin was already out in the water (that's him in the picture above.) The sun was like a hot pink circle that moved through the clouds until it broke free over the top. It was perfect.


While watching my husband do something he's been missing since his California childhood, I realized that this is home for us. How crazy is that?

If you would have asked me 5 years ago where I would be this summer, I would have answered "hopefully on the boat or at a cabin as much as possible." I had no idea that we would ever be living in New Jersey.


I love that we can be at the beach for sunrise surf in an hour, but we can also get to the Catskills for skiing in February in under two hours. We are a ferry ride away from New York City and get to enjoy the beautiful lights from our tiny little pier for free any night of the week.

I love the diners and family style Italian restaurants that line the main streets. Some towns look like they haven't changed a bit since the 60's. I love that our retail stores are closed on Sundays, but you can buy liquor (not something I'm used to in Minnesota.)

I love the Palisades Park, Washington Street in Hoboken and the views of the Statue of Liberty from Liberty State Park. I love Cape May, Asbury Park and Sea Bright. I love the wineries we've visited in central Jersey and the hilariously tiny Trenton airport. There is so much left to explore.


Our original plan was to leave after two years, but now that we are approaching that date - we've decided that we aren't ready yet. We are home and we'll stay for a little bit longer.

August 12, 2015

The Wild, Wild East - Iceland's Quiet Coast

While planning for Iceland, we were able to find tons of information about places to stop and things to do... until we got to the east coast. Unless you are doing the entire ring road or planning a Langoustine fishing trip, the East Coast seems to be scarce on people's Iceland itineraries. What a shame.

We spent the night in Hofn which is a small fishing town. It was our favorite hotel of the entire trip (more on that later) and we feasted on Langoustine which is like smaller Lobster. We got some language tips from a waitress that doesn't meet out of owners very often. The next morning, we were greeted with beautiful views of the glacier.



We headed north on the Ring Road as we weaved in and out following Fjords. We saw animals everywhere. We saw other cars and people about once every 30 minutes. The views were so incredible.




The road climbed up mountains and then back down them. We snuck through the middle of one in a giant tunnel. The road would turn to gravel every once in a while and we just couldn't believe that this was part of our adventure. It was our longest day in the car, but the time flew by.








Do you see the tiny town across the water in the picture above? Don't let the snow fool you either, it was beautiful weather - in the mid 50's. Once we headed northwest away from the water, we felt like we were driving on another planet. We were headed to the central part of the northern coast, so we cut through part of the highlands following the Ring Road. This is definitely the most barren and untouched part of the island. I was on the hunt for trolls.



Looking through these pictures takes me back. I would recommend traveling around the entire island to anyone that's planning a trip there during the warmer months. It's incredible seeing places that so many people never get to see. I think the wild, wild east is the best way to describe it. But replace cowboys with fisherman.

Have you ever visited somewhere that people don't seem to go?

August 11, 2015

On the Bookshelf Vol. 3


It's been a few months since I did my last On the Bookshelf round up, so I figured I'd give you a glimpse into what I've been reading this summer. Getting rid of cable has been the number one reason that my reading has increased this year and I'm so happy about it.


Skip it:

Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll

I saw a comparison to Gone Girl written all over the internet. I was looking for another book that instantly had a grip on me. This wasn't really it. The story was OK and I read the whole book, but not really one I would recommend to others. I will probably see the movie though, so I guess that says something.

Good Books:

Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape by Jenna Miscavige Hill

Ever since I had my first real life meeting with a Scientologist (full story here), I've been interested in the craziness behind this Sci-Fi religion. I haven't seen the Going Clear documentary, but it's on my list. This was the real life story of the niece of the current leader of the religion. It is a horribly sad story. The writing isn't great, but knowing that the ending was happier than the rest of the story made it a little easier to get through. If you have any interest in learning more about this group of people. it's a good read.

The Rosie Effect by Graeme Samson

This is a sequel to a book that I absolutely loved when reading it last year. I was so excited to see what was next for Don & Rosie. I was not disappointed. If you are a fan of Big Bang Theory, I really feel like Don has a lot in common with Sheldon (although a little more lovable because of Rosie.)

MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search For A New Best Friend by Rachel Bertsche

The reviews on this one are mixed, but I loved it. If you've ever found yourself in your twenties or thirties in a new city looking for friends, I think you'll be nodding along just like I did. It was so helpful to know that I'm not crazy or alone. It was a good, easy read.

My Favorites:

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

I loved this book. I loved the different characters. The book jumps back and forth between the characters pretty quickly, which I thought might be confusing, but it helps keep you very engaged with everyone. It moves quite slowly, but in a way that makes you feel like you are experiencing the story in a more realistic way. This was originally from the library, but I couldn't finish it before the due date so I ended up buying it. I just couldn't wait to see what happens, plus I wanted to be able to share it.

The Girl You Left Behind by JoJo Meyes

Another war story with two central characters, but very different from All The Light We Cannot See. JoJo Meyes might be one of my new favorite authors. This story pulls together two different time periods and two different woman by one similar possession. I loved it. Lots of people liked one story much more than the other, but I think they needed each other to make this book great.

**Up Next: The Outlander and Good American

Tell me what you've been reading lately or better yet, go link up with Steph like me and share with everyone. Happy Tuesday!

August 10, 2015

A Perfect Weekend


Oh what a wonderful weekend we had. It's amazing how a good weekend can help make Monday mornings a little more pleasant. We spent Friday night eating our favorite take out - Falafel wraps - and watching Entourage. We snuck out for a glass of wine with some friends on the pier and we were asleep by 11 PM. 

Saturday morning, we were in the city by 9:30 to stroll. We took advantage of Summer Streets where they shut down car traffic on Park and you can walk/bike down the street. We walked through Farmer's markets for breakfast snacks in Union Square. We walked to the Manhattan bridge and across it. We had lunch in Dumbo and enjoyed the riverfront festivities. 





We finished off our Saturday reading on the pier and watching the sunset. We had walked over 10 miles so we were happy to go to sleep early.

Sunday morning, we finally got to take advantage of the free yoga class for our apartments on the pier. It was the first time I took a yoga class with a teacher (I've always done it on my own.) It was amazing and I can't wait for next Sunday. We had big plans of hiking, but decided that Caddyshack and apartment cleaning sounded more appealing. We finished off our Sunday with dinner out and then neighbor time on the pier.

Taking advantage of our outdoor spaces at the apartment has become a huge priority to us. We've met some awesome people, seen the most beautiful sunsets and enjoyed the best weather we've had all summer.

Summer is usually a time jam packed with trips, showers, weddings, work and craziness. It's so nice having a weekend to just hang. That is a perfect weekend.

I hope your weekend was filled with naps, strolls and sunsets.


August 5, 2015

A Few of my Favorite Things

I've figured out that the best way for me to find awesome things is to read blogs. I'm going to do you all a favor and share some favorites with you back.

1 - Whine About It on Tumblr and then laugh your ass off.

2 - The Instax Camera that you can order on Amazon for a better price than Urban Outfitters. Social media swallows all of your pictures these days. It's fun to have a few that are just for you (not in the naked way.) We take a family picture every Sunday wherever we are and it's a super fun little tradition.


3 - I love getting mail and have tried stitch fix and a few others, but there is one box that I haven't taken a break from yet. It only comes quarterly which means it's less "stuff" that I don't use and it's not a $300 habit.  This box is called the FabFitFun box and if you click on this link you will receive $10 off your first box.

The summer box included a jump rope, a beautiful horseshoe necklace, a wireless speaker and a few different beauty products - plus I got a 3 month subscription to Headspace which is a meditation app that I've used in the past and loved.  I wish they had a better name that FabFitFun, but I would still recommend it if you're looking for something like that to try. Here is a full report, plus a photo from To Live & Diet in LA


4 - I got some new spray for my hair in that very subscription box and I absolutely love it so I'm including it by itself. First of all, it's called I'll Make You Look Amazing daily spray. Aside from that, I love the smell and how it makes my hair feel. I'll probably try the shampoo and conditioner in the travel size once I've used up my current supply of Aveda. The brand is Gorge Hair and their website is here.

5 - If you are coming home from the grocery store or Target with 20 plastic bags, please stop. These bags are the greatest reusable bags in the entire world. Seriously, they roll up into a tiny ball that can be kept in your purse always. They hold a ton of stuff and they are extremely durable. Plus, they have a soft pad on the shoulder strap. I own three and will probably get more.

photo credit
And last but not least, if you haven't watch Grace & Frankie yet, it's a good (and quick) binge watch on Netflix. I didn't number this because 5 always seems like a good number.

Tell me, do you get any subscription boxes?  Do you recommend them? Hope you're having a wonderful hump day.

August 3, 2015

Currently...

I can't even believe that it's August already. July was gone in the blink of an eye. How about that blue moon the other night? I do wish it was blue though.


Currently, I'm...

Listening to some old school Jay Z today.

Over the extreme heat. I wish I could be sitting on a beach, but since that is not an option due to that thing we call work - I'm over it. I also don't know why they call it the "dog days" of summer because my dogs hate this weather.

Missing a few of my favorite girlfriends. Long phone conversations and quick engagement ring pictures make me so happy. I wish I could hug them all in person, but I'm celebrating all their exciting moments with them through technology. I'll take what I can get.


Snuggling this little monster. Seriously, I can't get enough of that face. He needs a haircut so bad.

Drinking sparkling water from the soda stream. I'm kind of obsessed with it and in 4 more weeks it will have paid for itself. I do wish it was easier to find the water flavors. It will be more Amazon for the win.

Watching Entourage again from the beginning. We haven't seen the movie yet, so we figured we would watch the series and finish it off with the movie.


Trying to figure out when we can have another mimosa bar. It worked out pretty well at the wedding shower and it feels weird to have that much champagne for Justin and me.

Looking forward to a few weeks with my husband. There has been so many suitcases packed & unpacked in this household recently with work travel and regular travel. I'm so excited to have some time with him, especially our road trip back to Minnesota for weddings.

Thankful for awesome neighbors and a place I love living.

Hope your summer isn't flying by too quickly. Make time for mimosas.