12/31/09

The 2000's - A Recap

How do you summarize 10 years? Especially the most life changing, eventful 10 years of my nearly 30 on earth.

The decade started with me as an 18 year old senior in high school. It ends with me a 28 year old not even newlywed anymore married woman. The time in between - man - it flew by!

High school graduation. Starting college. Changing my major in my second year. Moving to campus my third year. Graduating in only four years - no small feat this day in age it seems.

Voting for the first time ever. Becoming a legal adult.

Many jobs held - Portrait Studio at Target, Library Page at Columbia Heights Public Library, Student Librarian for Women's Choir at St. Kate's, Student Assistant in Office of Student Affairs at St. Kate's, Youth Minister at Immaculate, Receptionist at Fairview Pharmacy Services and now Administrative Assistant for Facilities and Supply Chain for Fairview Medical Group (formerly Columbia Park Medical Group).

Watching world events - 2000 presidential election - 9/11 - Hurricane Katrina - 35 W Bridge Collapse - the election of President Obama.

Dating Nate - Getting engaged to Nate - marrying Nate. Dealing with buying a house, buying new cars, adopting pets, surviving on one income for some extended periods of time.

Saying hello and goodbye and hello once again to many friends. Saying final farewells to several family members. Saying goodbye to the church I grew up in.

Traveling to Florida, St. Louis, Canada, and Northern MN several times over.

It's been quite a ride. I truly believe that in this last decade I have actually grown up. Yes I was considered an "adult" at the start of this decade, but the things I have experienced in 10 years have formed me into the person I am today. That being said, I have zero regrets. Everything has served a purpose for me and I've either learned from the bad things or embraced and rejoiced in the good things.

My only hope for the future is that I can continue focusing on taking one day at a time. Because the ride goes fast sometimes and I don't want to miss anything before it is over.

Happy New Year one and all. And Happy New Decade.

12/29/09

End of the Year reflections: Part One

So here's the first of what will be a two-part recap for me this year, as I not only reflect on the last year, but later on I'll bring thoughts on the last decade - because it was probably one filled with the most change ever in my life! But for now, here are my thoughts on the year that was 2009.

2009 was an interesting year to say the least. Things happened that were good and things happened that were not so good. But, we were healthy, happy and best of all, both employed for the entire year so I really have no complaints.

The highlights and lowlights:

-We left Immaculate - I never dreamed in a million years this would ever happen, but it did and we're stronger for it
-We joined Praise Project and a drummer was born
-I quit picking my fingers (and am still going strong!)
-I was sort of promoted at work
-We took a couple of mini vacations which translates to long weekends up north pretty much, but they were wonderful
-We finished a pretty substantial painting project that took far longer than it should have, but I love the results!
-We switched to kegging our beer as opposed to bottling
-We tried many new places to eat
-We decided we are the "fun couple"
-We bought a new couch and loveseat for our basement, both got new glasses and I chopped my hair very short and we bought a new furnace/air conditioner for our home!
-We were able to spend lots of time with family and friends which is truly the best gift of all.

I don't think of 2009 as a good or bad year. For the most part we are just living our day to day lives and are rejoicing in each day as it comes. And that's really my only resolution for 2010. To keep on keeping on or something like that! May it be a wonderful year for everyone!

12/28/09

The Great Christmas Adventure of 2009

Well the adventure is over. We survived the snow, the traveling, the family crazy togetherness and everything else that went with the Christmas four day weekend. Well almost four day weekend.

Christmas Eve I was up bright and early and made it to work in near record time even with the snowy roads! I put in about three hours before I was able to get out of the office and start my celebrations. I headed to my parents to finish some last minute gift wrapping and then home to spend some time with Nate. It's become our tradition to open gifts to each other on Christmas Eve so we did that. He gave me an awesome Sesame Street 40th Anniversary coffee table book and the Wii Sports Resort game - which we had some fun playing with that afternoon! I gave him some clothes (yes boring) and the new Super Mario Brothers Wii game - which is hard!!

I then made my green bean casserole and we headed to his parents house for dinner. It was a wonderful meal, ham, potatoes, green beans, salad, rolls. I was stuffed! We sat by the fire and had a nice relaxing evening.

Christmas morning I was once again up pretty early as I was asked to cantor the 8:45 service at St. Williams. My parents were very kind and picked me up so I wouldn't have to clean my car off in a skirt! I told Nate to go ahead and sleep in and just meet us at my parents house since I knew he'd have to shovel some more.

After church we had breakfast with my parents and opened gifts with them. Then we headed back up the hill and opened gifts with Nate's parents and Ali. After that we stopped home and discovered the plows had come through again and we had to clear out the end of the driveway before we could even drive in. That was some heavy, awful snow to shovel, but we got it done in about a half hour. I took a quick shower and then we drove across town to my aunt Michelle's house in Uptown for dinner. By now the roads were mostly just wet. We had a nice visit there and then headed back to our neighborhood to Nate's grandparents where we played the Dice Game with white elephant gifts. We were home by a little after 8:00. Very long day, but nice to see everyone.

After all of that, we layed low the rest of the weekend. Saturday I had lunch with my dear friend Gina and then Nate and I played our new video games and had dinner at a smallish bar/grill in town and watched a movie. Sunday we had two masses with Praise Project and then Nate went to a movie with Ali - it wasn't one I was too interested in so I was able to get a little "me time" in the afternoon which was nice.

And now we're gearing up for New Years and getting back to "normal" so to speak. I think after the holidays settle down a bit more we might get to another major painting project at home, and I sincerely hope it will not take us six months to complete it this time!

12/23/09

It's out of our control

I don't know if it's hype or if we really will be seeing the storm of the century over the next couple of days here, but I'm trying really hard to go with the philosophy of whatever happens, happens and it's out of our control so we have to make the most of it.

I do work tomorrow morning, but the good news is we'll only have the first few inches of the storm and I do live close so it could be worse. In the evening we go have dinner at my in-laws, as is our Christmas Eve tradition, but again, we live just a few blocks away so we should have no trouble getting there.

Christmas Day is where it gets a wee bit harrier - I was asked to cantor the 8:45 service at St. Williams and will need to arrive by 8:00. However, I have four wheel drive and so do my parents so I think I should be able to get there with no problems. After mass we do presents at my parents house, again, not a far drive. Then it's back to my in-laws, shouldn't be a problem.

The furthest we have to go is my aunt's house in Uptown, but if they keep the freeways clear we shouldn't have a problem. Getting in and out of her neighborhood may be another story. That's the part that concerns me the most right now. Then after dinner we usually hit up Nate's grandparents and well, we could walk there!

So the name of the game is taking our time and playing it all by ear. Maybe build a snowman or two if nothing else! Have a snowball fight. It could end up being kind of fun. Or maybe an adventure. Yes, that's it, the Great Christmas Adventure of 2009!

I will probably not blog again until after the whole nine yards so - Merry Christmas to all of my readers and if you are in the MN area - STAY SAFE!!!

12/21/09

Twas just four days till Christmas

And all was quiet and well...

In all seriousness, I have all my shopping done. Gifts still need to be wrapped, but I have confidence I will get that done in the next couple of days.

I finally feel like I have a grasp on and am prepared for this upcoming holiday. It may be because Nate and I gave ourselves an early gift of a very lazy weekend. We honestly only left the house a couple of times, pretty much for dinner on Saturday night and for church and groceries on Sunday. We watched a dumb mindless movie on Saturday night and a bunch of TV shows on Sunday. I will soon be caught up to where they actually are on the show "Psych" when it returns in January which is actually pretty cool and I've really grown addicted to it. We're also making our way through "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" and a couple of British shows as well. Cause you know, I have to watch something else without Glee around for four whole months. Did I mention how stupid I think that is? Oh yeah, that's right, I did here.

I watched Charlie Brown this weekend too, which I hadn't done yet and it never feels like Christmas until I get that done.

But anyway, the laziness of the whole weekend was really quite nice and I now feel much more prepared to handle the hustle and bustle of this upcoming week. I just hope the snowstorm being threatened is not too bad, but then again, we can't control it, so we'll just have to take it for what it is!

Hope everyone else is surviving the last minute holiday craziness. Don't forget Macy's at Rosedale is open 24/7 from now until Christmas Eve if you need anything. Cause you know, shopping at 2:00 in the morning sounds kind of fun....

12/18/09

Quick hello

I am still here! I know I haven't been posting much lately. I've been real focused on the Christmas season, flying on my own without my supervisor at work and a number of other things so blogging hasn't exactly been a priority.

But Nate and I are still here, we're plugging through the season and are both doing well, just busy! This weekend we actually plan to just take some time for ourselves which will be quite nice!

Anyway, figured I should at least post something so no one thought I was throwing in the towel on blogging. I am sure I'll be back to full force normal blogging after the first of the year. :)

12/14/09

The penguin

So it's no secret to my readers and people who know me I think that I love penguins. This is a relatively new thing in my life, and by that I mean it's just something I stumbled onto about four years ago. I decided that when Nate and I got married, our house would be the penguin house at the holidays. And it's gotten to a point where it's the penguin house even beyond the holidays, but most of them come out just for Christmas.

My in-laws, knowing that I love penguins and always being up for a practical joke, decided to surprise Nate and I with a little treat the other night. They had called and asked to stop by and pick up a sport coat that Nate was borrowing his dad for a wedding reception. In return we asked if they'd bring by a movie for us to watch. So we were sitting up in our living room waiting for them to show up - Nate was reading a magazine and I was fiddling around on my laptop. We heard them pull up and close doors - but not come in right away. We were pondering just what they were doing, figuring, hmm, maybe they are building a snowman.

It didn't really occur to either one of us to just open the door and see. We just figured they thought it would be funny to make a snowman in our yard and when they got cold enough they'd come inside. 15 minutes later they finally knocked on the door.

I said "Oh I know what you guys were doing out there" and they said "oh really? Take a look out your window." I fully expected to see a snowman but instead was greeted with this:



Well ok, it was from behind of course since I was in the house. But anyway, definitely not what I was expecting! Nate came over then to see and we both just started laughing.

Neither one of us are really big fans of the inflatables people put up, but you have to admit, this guy is kind of cute. In the spirit of the season, we'll definitely allow him to reside in our yard. The day after Christmas though is another story. At least he will collapse and store well!

12/9/09

An open letter to Fox TV

Dear Fox Network,

I am beyond excited for tonight's big "fall finale" of your very successful new show Glee. However, I am quite disgusted that after tonight, it will be over four months before a new episode will be shown again. April 13th. This is a longer break than a summer hiatus!

Look, I understand you have to make room for your golden child American Idol but you know what? I think that ship has sailed. A long, long time ago. I once was a fan and all, but I am tired of seeing the same thing year after year. You probably should've taken a hint when Paula stepped down that maybe it was time to be done.

Besides that, why can't Glee and American Idol play together somehow? You're managing to keep room for other shows, such as another favorite of mine, House MD. I especially find this perplexing when So You Think You Can Dance is wrapping up soon here. So why can't American Idol just take it's place and still lead into Glee? I would suspect you'd find Glee's ratings to continue to be high if you did this. But what do I know? I am not a TV executive.

No, you seem content to pull one of the biggest hits of the fall season and bring it back months later on a different night even. Because this is what you are known for. And in the process you manage to actually kill some shows that could've been big properties for you. Apparently you do not care Fox. So that's fine. But I will tell you this, I will not be watching American Idol this year. I will boycott it to the core. And if you do end up killing what has become such a joy for me to watch each week in the delightful and fun Glee, I can tell you right now that our relationship will be over for good. Just a little something for you to ponder Fox. But I'm sure you don't care.

A loyal viewer for NOW,
Beth

12/7/09

Continuing the holiday vibe

I had a good and productive weekend. Nate and I were able to get a little time in just for ourselves which was very nice. But I was most happy that I got my Christmas shopping started and I'm about 75% done at this point! As for what I still have to buy, I know what I am buying, just have to make the time to do it.

I have watched one of my favorite holiday movies already - Home Alone. Yes I am a dork, but I love that movie. Nate was actually willing to watch it with me so I couldn't pass up the opportunity! We used to just have an old VHS copy, so we went and bought it on DVD finally. It actually includes some deleted scenes and things like that - I like it when DVDs include features like that.

This week my mom and I will start baking cookies, another holiday tradition for us. I am very excited to eat some of these goodies that we only make once a year!

Next weekend we have a caroling event with Praise Project and then we also have Nate's work holiday party. Once again his company is treating us to dinner at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse in downtown Minneapolis, so I am definitely looking forward to that.

So I am doing my best to enjoy every moment of the holiday season because I know it will be over before I know it!

12/4/09

Christmas Spirit

I'm now more in the Christmas spirit than I was earlier this week. Yesterday I was feeling kind of down and as I mentioned, a wee stressed, worried and overwhelmed. But then on my way home from work, I turned on the Christmas radio station in the car and suddenly all was well. It's funny how some of my favorite Christmas carols can suddenly put me in a good mood and it has definitely put me back into the Christmas spirit. I intend to keep it going from here on out!

To spread some Christmas cheer (sing loud for all to hear...oh wait, that's the movie Elf...) I thought I'd share some pictures of our Christmas decor at home. They're not the most exciting ever, but it's the small and simple things that count sometimes!


My snowmen and penguins greet visitors when you come in the door


Kermit is all decked out for winter

The shelves of my lamp are all full


Stockings and nativity



Tree, although a little fuzzy
Hope everyone else is finding the Christmas spirit in their days as well! Enjoy every moment, it will fly by quickly!

12/3/09

Tis the season

I'm kind of a mixed up mess of stuff today.

I'm happy and excited that it's my favorite time of year finally and am trying my best to eat up all the wonderful things about it. But I'm a wee bit stressed about not really knowing what I'm buying people for gifts this year.

I'm thankful as always for my job to come to each day, but nervous about the next few weeks as my boss goes out on medical leave starting tomorrow and will not come back until just after the 1st of the year and I'm next in chain of command more or less.

I am looking forward to some of the events I have coming up in the next couple of weeks and also concerned I could end up feeling overwhelmed at times.

I am resolving to just take it one day at a time as I march into this busy holiday season and I think that will help the most. Enjoy the good things as they come and do my best to not let other things get to me and I should end up still loving this time of year when all is said and done!

12/1/09

Tuesday Top Ten: Christmas Specials

So I've decided to keep my top ten lists on Tuesdays, it just works out nicely. Today is December 1st (my dad's birthday - happy birthday Dad!) and the kick off to the holiday season (even though I already kicked it off the day after Thanksgiving) so my top ten list is Christmas themed today! My ten favorite holiday specials of all time! By the way these are all specials aired on TV, not theatrical released movies. I might do a separate list of Christmas movies later on!

10. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer - Though I have less patience for this one as an adult and I'm not sure why, it is still a classic and I still love the "Always Tomorrow" song that Clareice sings to Rudolph.

9. How the Grinch Stole Christmas - the classic cartoon, not the newer Jim Carrey movie. It's short, sweet and who doesn't love seeing that heart grow at the end?

8. I Want a Dog for Christmas Charlie Brown - Not as classic as the original Peanuts special, but I do find this one kind of cute, even if Rerun is a little more annoying than Linus or Sally ever were!

7. A Garfield Christmas - This one is super cheesy, but it has alot of heart for a Garfield cartoon and I still enjoy it as an adult. And I just love Odie's gift to Garfield at the end.

6. It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie - yes, technically a movie, but it was on television so I'm counting it. This was not the best thing the Muppets ever did, but it wasn't the worst thing either. I enjoy it in spite of some of the less than great things in it (Scooter cage dancing for one...)

5. Mickey's Christmas Carol - the song they play at the beginning actually brings tears to my eyes. Does that make me a nerd? Maybe, but I don't care. It's a nice adaptation of a classic story.

4. Christmas Eve on Sesame Street - I loved this one so much as a kid my parents taped it off of Channel 2 and I used to watch it even in the middle of summer. It's still super heartwarming and I love it's message of keeping Christmas with you all through the year

3. Letters to Santa: A Muppets Christmas - I really enjoyed this new holiday special with my beloved Muppets - it was the first glimmer of how the Muppets used to be in the old days and had many funny and touching moments. One of my very new favorites.

2. A Muppet Family Christmas - is anyone surprised at the number of Muppet specials I've mentioned thus far? But this one tops them all - it includes all types of Muppets - Classic Muppets, Fraggles and Sesame Street and Jim Henson makes an awesome cameo at the end. It's just too awesome for words.

1. A Charlie Brown Christmas - "That's what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown" - Linus after his famous monologue of the Christmas story. Enough said.

11/30/09

Last day of NaBloPoMo

Even though I missed one day in the entire 30 day challenge, I'm still wrapping up my NaBloPoMo today. I am bummed that I missed that one measly day at the end here, but sometimes life just gets in the way of life I guess!

I had alot of fun participating in this blogging challenge. And there were days it was definitely a challenge! I did have days where I could not come up with something interesting to write and found myself just babbling.

I will continue to try and post as often as I can because I really do love to write. But I am kind of relieved it is over now!

Kudos to everyone who made it all 30 days!

11/29/09

It was bound to happen

Well I missed a day in my daily blog posting. I can't believe it happened. I have to be completely honest about it though. Yesterday just turned into one of those days where I was running from morning to bed. Shopping, a movie with Nate, a birthday party for my father in law and suddenly the blog was just forgotten.

I will post today and tomorrow still, but sadly I didn't make my promise for NaBloPoMo. But hey, it took me until the 28th to slip!

11/27/09

Deck the Halls

Just finished my holiday decorating. I am exhausted, but pleased with my results. All my knickknacks are out, my tree is up and decorated and the stockings are hung. We're ready. I loved having a whole day off to get this all done. I've been enjoying Christmas music as I work. It is definitely my favorite time of the year!!

11/26/09

Thankful Thursday Week 4 - Thanksgiving edition

Today is actually Thanksgiving, so this post means more than usual. We should count our many blessings everyday, but especially on this one special day more than ever.

For me today I am thankful for:

1. A great birthday. My day yesterday was relaxing, filled with love and joy and all that birthdays should be.

2. The return of the Muppets. Yes this sounds strange, but as you all know I am a huge fan and this week saw several exciting things happen for Muppet fans. Google Muppets Bohemian Rhapsody on YouTube for one, it's well worth 4 minutes to watch.

3. My family. I had a chance to spend time with my family this morning and will see Nate's family in about an hour and I am so thankful to have every last one of them!

4. Friends. It was nice to hear from so many people on my birthday yesterday, I am reminded time and again that I am so lucky and blessed to have so many outstanding people in my life!

5. A roof over our heads. I am so fortunate we both have jobs, can afford our bills, have food on the table. So many folks do not and I am praying for and thinking of them today more than ever.

What are you Thankful for? Happy Thanksgiving!

11/25/09

28

Today I am 28. Tomorrow Nate will be 28. It feels a little weird and I think it's because ten years ago I was 18 and graduating from high school. We'll have our reunion this summer. And I feel like it all went by in such a flash!

But I do love birthdays and I am enjoying every minute. I took today off from work and enjoyed a nice morning with my mom and then had a marathon of my favorite Friends Thanksgiving episodes. Later we'll have dinner with my parents and then cake with both sets of our parents plus Ali.

Tomorrow of course is Thanksgiving, so Nate gets a grand feast for his birthday! Friday we'll celebrate at our Praise Project rehearsal with th0se friends as well. And Saturday my father-in-law turns 60 so the celebrating continues. Next Tuesday is my dad's birthday so the fun just doesn't stop!

But I love all of this, it's the best time of year!

11/24/09

Tuesday Top Ten - Things I hope to do over the next few days

After today I am off the rest of the week. I've been a bit crazed at work and zapped of energy when I've been outside of work so you get a lame top ten post from me today.

Top Ten Things I hope to accomplish this five day weekend:

10. Decorate my house for Christmas on Friday
9. Eat tons of good food
8. Start my Christmas shopping
7. Clean my house a bit to prepare for decorations
6. Watch a bunch of my favorite Thanksgiving episodes of Friends
5. Bake an apple pie and a green bean casserole
4. Spend some time with good friends over the weekend
3. Spend quality time with family
2. Celebrate my birthday, Nate's birthday and my father-in-law's birthday
1. RELAX!

11/23/09

Monday, Monday

It was quite a Monday today, lots of stuff to come back to after being gone only one afternoon!

It's weird though, because really, today was my Thursday! That's right, I'm off Wednesday through Friday this week and I can't wait. Birthdays, Thanksgiving, kick off to the Christmas season, bring it on! I'm ready!

But I had to get through Monday first. Fortunately, I survived. So did Nate, ha ha.

Monday, Monday, so good to me, Monday, Monday, it was all I hoped it would be - The Mamas and the Papas.

11/22/09

Our weekend...

...Was fantastic. We had outstanding weather, a wonderful room, ate some good food and just enjoyed a little time away as a husband and wife. Definitely a nice birthday present to each other!

I highly recommend Fitgers Inn - the staff was wonderful, the off season rates are really good and the brewhouse is right downstairs!

As relaxing as it was I'm still quite exhausted, so that's the best recap for now. I hope to share pictures soon via here and Facebook. Stay tuned.

11/21/09

Duluth memories

As you are reading this post, Nate and I are enjoying some quality time away - but it's NaBloPoMo, so I have to post something and thanks to some help from my friend S, I learned out to schedule my post ahead of time!

So we'll be in Duluth which is quite possibly my favorite city in the entire state of MN. I have memories of going up, mostly with my parents when I was young. It is a beautiful area and while it has become more of a tourist trap in the last ten years with the explosion of the Canal Park area, it still has a great deal to offer.

My first trip to Duluth was at the tender age of 3, but if you can believe it, I still remember alot about it! It was not my first vacation with my parents ever, but it's the first one I can actually remember. I remember thinking staying in a hotel was a really big deal. I remember being excited to swim in the hotel pool. I remember going to this place that is an old Logging Camp and that they had a petting zoo. I vaguely remember going in Gooseberry Falls and walking on the rocks. But the thing I remember most is, I lost my favorite pair of Rainbow Brite sunglasses.

My dad had decided to take a picture of my mom and me by a pier on Lake Superior. My mom was holding me up and my sunglasses were perched on a wall. You can see this in the picture in fact. After the picture we walked away and my sunglasses were lost forever. To a three year old, this is one of the most heartbreaking things ever apparently. Multiple stops were made at some stores attempting to replace these, and the best we found were Snoopy sunglasses which just weren't the same!

As an adult I like to hold this over my parents a little bit, that it's kind of their fault, but it's all in jest really. We had several more great trips up there and I've been up there with girlfriends, but not once with Nate, so I'm glad to finally be sharing my favorite city in the world with him. And I'm pretty sure, we won't lose anything!

11/20/09

Flashback Friday - Look how far I've come



Ok, here's a short little Flashback Friday post. This picture is from Summer 2008. Do you see what I am doing in that picture? What if I just crop it and show you what I'm talking about.




Ok, how about now? Do you see what I'm doing? I'm picking my fingers. If you look at the above pose, I'm clearly oblivious to the fact that I was even doing it. I would do it pretty absent mindedly sometimes. This was why it was so difficult to make myself quit, half the time I'd be doing it without even realizing.

But, today marks 7 months since I gave up this habit and I continue to celebrate each passing month. It was an addiction I had to overcome and I feel proud that I've managed to keep this up. You won't find anymore pictures like this of me now! I will keep working hard to make sure of it!

11/19/09

Thankful Thursday - Week 3

I came into work today prepared to write my normal things that I'm thankful for at some point when I had a break and I still will list them, but they all seem trivial at the moment. I learned when I arrived today that a co-worker's infant son died last night. She arrived to pick him up at daycare and there was an ambulance. Sadly, tragically, he choked to death. He wasn't quite a year old yet. My heart just breaks for her and I just can't even express words about how unbelievably sad this is. All I can do is just pray for her and her family right now and hopefully help out with whatever the staff decides to do - I heard we may try and start a dinner campaign for them and I don't doubt there will be a collection to help with any finances for them. It is just heartwrenching to think about. So I'm asking all of my blog readers to please keep this family in your prayers and thoughts as the days and weeks ahead will be very difficult for them.

What I am thankful for today -

1. My family, hands down today this is number one. I want to hug all of my family members super tight and am just so thankful to have them. My husband, my parents, even my cats.
2. My co-workers and the way everyone is working to rally around this woman's family to try and help her in anyway we can
3. My friends - especially ones who are crazy enough to wait in line to get a CD with me and who let me vent and complain about things
4. Weather - it's still been quite warm for this time of year and due to that I did not freeze while waiting for the Sampler this year
5. Knowing that my purchase of said Cities Sampler will help out several local charities.

Today I encourage everyone to really count all their blessings. What are you thankful for?

11/18/09

A tradition

For the last six years I have gone and stood in line to get myself a copy of the Cities 97 City Sampler. The first year I went alone and then after that I recruited my dear friend Gina to stand in line with me and it's become our tradition to do this each year ever since.

Some people think we are crazy, because we are known to head to Target, where the Sampler is sold, around 6:00 am. The problem is, the CD is for charity and only so many copies are released each year, so we always want to make sure we actually get one!

The very first year that I went by myself, I was still in college and rolled out of bed close to 8:00 because I had no morning classes, so I figured, I'll just throw on a sweatshirt over my p.j.'s and drive to the Targhetto (sorry, it was St. Paul Midway, total Targhetto) right when they opened, get my CD and go home. I learned it was not that simple!

The line was out around the back of the building, this was the 15th anniversary year, but even on non-anniversary years it has become a big deal, a collector item for MN music fans. I was lucky to get my hands on one of the last copies that year. Ever since, Gina and I make sure we are in line nice and early, even if it means we have to sit in the cold for two hours.

And it has been COLD in the past. Last year was one of the coldest ever, with the temps barely out of the teens while we waited. This year's promised temps of upper 30's will be like a heat wave. We always dress in layers, bring blankets and chairs and just huddle up as best we can.

The CD's are worth it - they are unique one of a kind recordings from pretty big names in music, past artists have included Coldplay, Sarah McLachlan, REM, etc. I find myself not always listening to Cities 97 anymore as my music tastes have taken on more of an electic mix, but I can't miss out on getting my CD each year, it's a must have for my library!

So, tomorrow Gina and I will make our annual trek. She was smart and took the whole day off, but because of other days off I have coming up, I will try my best to make it through the work day after we get the Sampler (and some breakfast out right after). I will probably be dragging, but I'll have my new music to keep me going!

11/17/09

Tuesday Top Ten: Desserts

Looking ahead to both Thanksgiving and Christmas I think about all the yummy desserts that I hope to sample here and there. Plus who just doesn't love dessert anyway? So, I thought I'd do an easy and quick top ten today on my favorite desserts of all time.

10. My mom's hot fudge cake - it's not your average chocolate cake, there is vanilla and hot fudge swirled in making cakey goodness that melts in your mouth

9. Chocolate mousse - I don't want it all the time because it is usually quite rich and indulgent, but I like a good one every now and then!

8. Ali's cheesecake - she makes it sans real cream cheese because of her dairy allergy but I have to tell you, I am really starting to prefer it with the fake stuff! We usually top it with berries and it is quite delicious!

7. Oreo pie - I love Oreo pie from Baker's Square. This is a memory I have from the first years Nate and I were dating, late nights at Baker's Square after a movie and a slice of Oreo pie. Sadly, I don't get to enjoy this treat as often anymore as we don't have a Baker's Square real close to us, but it's still a favorite!

6. Brownies - Whether my mom's homemade ones, or the boxed ones from Giradelli, Trader Joes or Pillsbury, a good, gooey brownie and a glass of milk is a lovely treat!

5. Chocolate chip cookies - again, I prefer my mom's on this, but there are few others out there that are also pretty good. And it's just so classic.

4. Bailey's Chocolate Cream Cake from Jax. If you've been there and had this, you understand. Enough said.

3. Christmas cookies - too many to list, but most are wonderful and indulgent and not something you want year round, but a perfect treat at the holiday season. Cream wafers, Chocolate Chip Teacakes, and Thumbprints are some of my favorites.

2. Apple pie/apple crisp - it's a tie here, my mom has a great recipe for both and I look forward to Fall every year for the simple fact that I'll get to enjoy these goodies here and there for several months

1. Tiramasu - it used to be the best at Buca di Beppo, but they changed their recipe. I now really enjoy the tiramasu from Donatelli's. We have on more than one occasion indulged in "birthday" tiramasu instead of cake. I just love tiramasu!!

Now I've probably made everyone hungry. Including myself!!

11/16/09

Halfway

Well we're about halfway through NaBloPoMo and I haven't missed a day yet! I am sure some days my posts are not that exciting to read, but I really am making the effort. It feels good to write, it's just a different way of expressing feelings and thoughts.

The second half of the month will start to get more interesting here I think as we have some fun things coming up and therefore should have pictures to share of these events as they happen!

Stay tuned!

11/15/09

If it ain't broke...

It's no secret my family and I are big fans of a local coffee company with shops all over the Metro area. I've expressed my love time and again on this blog and have named them by name, but I am choosing not to do so in this post because I'm going to speak a little more unfavorably about them.

Our beloved coffee shop has changed the way they brew my dad's number one favorite drink - the mocha. Now, they advertised this change for a few days before and then just jumped right on in. I gave it a try even though I usually do a vanilla latte, I actually tried the new style drink. Basically, they've made a major change in how they do the chocolate in a mocha or other chocolate based drink. You can have milk, dark or white chocolate. I tried the dark.

I felt it was very rich, kind of indulgent tasting, and would definitely not be something I would drink every day. I wanted to give it a chance and tried to stay positive that this would not be a bad thing. In fact, my Facebook post was very positive about it and I was even telling people to give it a try. But, something was nagging me in the back of my head about it. I worried about my dad and his mochas.

My dad is not so sure yet what he thinks about the drinks. He is now having to work with the baristas each day he goes in to try and tweak it so the amount of chocolate to coffee is just right. It shouldn't have to be quite like that. I tasted both his mocha and my mom's hot chocolate and I have decided it is just TOO much. And that's coming from someone who really likes chocolate.

I guess today he got it a little closer to the old style. I have been reading the comments on their Facebook page and they are less than favorable. I just wonder if they test marketed this first. The baristas told us people are coming in and getting mad.

So my question is - why did they really need to mess with what worked? If it ain't broke, don't fix it! I just hope that my family and I can continue enjoying to go there together, we'll have to see how things go. Right now I'm thankful I'm more of a vanilla fan!

11/14/09

It's a weekend right?

I was home for maybe a total of five hours today, not even consecutively. I was barely home last night. I'm not complaining, but I've definitely been a busy bee.

It is just making me look forward all the more to a weekend get away with my husband very, very soon!

Tomorrow promises more of the same - busy, not home much. And then before we know it it will be Monday again.

So it goes. On we go. Something like that!

11/13/09

TGIF

Ok, so Flashback Fridays are just going to be too hard for me to keep up with. Just not enough access to pictures in a digital format right now. Maybe someday!

So today I instead bring you a normal, boring, run of the mill blogpost. Mainly because I lack creativity today.

I'm glad it is Friday. The week seems to have really flown by though, it's sort of surprising.

Tonight we go to a surprise party for Nate's boss. Tomorrow we have a Praise Project gig. Sunday I have a "celebration" for Nate's cousins who are in the process of adoption. It's not really a shower per say, more of a get together to hear about the kids (yes they are adopting two!) and the whole process. I'm really interested in hearing their story, it should be neat.

So another weekend I know will fly right on by. I have so many wonderful things coming up though that it would be perfectly all right with me if that was the case!

Happy Friday! Even if it is Friday the 13th!

11/12/09

Thankful Thursday - Week 2

It's time for another Thankful Thursday post! It's been a trying week at times this week, nothing bad, just busy so this is a good time for me to reflect just a little bit on what I'm thankful for!

1. My husband - I'm thankful for him everyday of course, but a couple of things he did for me this week make me exceptionally thankful for him today! I love you Nate!

2. My cats - As you all know I'm a Wednesday night widow and it's so funny the way the cats fight over who gets to sit with me while I watch Glee, usually resulting in both of them curled up with me in some fashion, at least that was the case last night!

3. This unbelievable weather! I love not having to clear my car off in the morning and not having to wear a super heavy jacket yet. This is definitely a gift!

4. Reindeer Blend coffee from Caribou - it came back today, it is my absolute favorite blend of the entire year and I will take advantage of it until it goes away after Christmas! (Side note, I also tried a new drink made with all natural dark chocolate - very good, but very rich, will probably stick to my Vanilla in the future)

5. Safe and sound - I had two very important people to me have car accidents in the last week here and while damage was done to the vehicles involved, the people are safe and sound and not seriously injured, so I am very thankful for that!

What are you thankful for this week? Feel free to share here or back at my friend S's blog here, where Thankful Thursday originated!

11/11/09

Just the day to day stuff

So it's been awhile since I've done a "what we've been up to post" so I figured I was due.

We had a pretty tame weekend. Praise Project was on a hiatus type situation so we had two nights free instead of just one. Friday night we had a nice dinner with my parents and then headed home to watch a movie.

Saturday I went on the quest for black shoes, it honestly took more than I expected it to for me to find what I was looking for, but I finally did after making several stops (in which I discuss here about all the Christmas related things I was seeing - still just feel it is a bit too early and hard to think about with this "heatwave"). Spent the afternoon tiding up around the house. We then attempted to have dinner at one of our favorite places, but discovered it has become quite the college hangout now that school is in session and would have had to wait 45 minutes for a table. And it was already after 6:00 so that just wasn't what we wanted to do. So, onward we went to a less crowded eatery (the St. Clair Broiler) and had ourselves a nice meal.

Sunday I had a Tastefully Simple party which went quite well. We then just grilled in the evening.

So far this week we've experimented with the crockpot again and have just been kind of vegging around when we're not at work. And that's not a bad thing. We're going to be crazy busy in the next couple of weeks so it's been nice to have a lull. Coming up for us we have a Praise Project gig, a birthday party for Nate's boss, some get togethers with friends, my annual trek for the Cities 97 City Sampler with my dear friend Gina, a weekend away in Duluth and then birthdays and Thanksgiving. So, life is going to pick up speed very soon. I say, bring it on!

11/10/09

Tuesday Top Ten - Thanksgiving

So, for November I explained that I'm moving my weekly Top Ten lists to Tuesdays so I can participate in a Thursday blogging activity.

Today, I'm thinking about Thanksgiving, the poor little holiday that I think does not get enough attention. It has become so overshadowed by Christmas and even Halloween, it's stuck being sandwiched between two very popular holidays and I just think it doesn't get the love that it should. There are so many awesome things about Thanksgiving. So today, I give you my ten favorite things about Thanksgiving!

10. Thanksgiving episodes of TV's "Friends" - laugh at me if you must, but the Thanksgiving episodes are some of the funniest and best of the entire series. And it's one of few shows that actually dedicated an entire episode to Thankgiving each year. I give them kudos for that.

9. The "Oh You Turkey" coloring contest in the Star Tribune. I grew up with this coloring contest, the giant sized turkey just begging to be colored on the front of the Variety section. Even as an adult I still enjoy coloring him and it doesn't matter if I can't send it in, it's just fun to color!

8. Mashed potatoes - you just can't beat homemade mashed potatoes with gravy. Drool.

7. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving - again, one of my favorite holiday specials, I love how they make a meal out of popcorn and candy. I just think it's cute

6. Four day weekend - It's nice to get a couple of days off of work. Normally I do not get the day after off, but this year I do like most people. Actually, I get a five day weekend this year because I also took off the day before Thanksgiving for my birthday!

5. Thanksgiving weekend sales - not just Black Friday, but the deals to be had the whole weekend. I almost always at least start my holiday shopping over this weekend because there is always a sale going on somewhere!

4. Spending time with family - especially members of Nate's family we don't get to see as often. His family makes a pretty big deal out of Thanksgiving so we usually spend the day with them and it's always very nice

3. The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade - I love the balloons, the cheesy performances, the floats and all the pomp and circumstance of this parade. A must watch for me.

2. Pie - I always bake an apple pie to bring to our celebration and I enjoy doing it too.

1. Being thankful - it's a good time to reflect on the many gifts and blessings in your life and I think it's a beautiful thing! This is why November's Thankful Thursdays is a great blog activity and why I gladly moved this list to Tuesdays!

11/9/09

Me today

Me today in a nutshell:

Tired
Busy
Thankful
Blessed
Silly
Reflective
Curious
Antsy

Just another average day.

11/8/09

Sunday silence

I don't have much to say today, it was a busy day with church and then a Tastefully Simple party in my home that everyone has just left from.

Nate is running errands. We'll be grilling later.

Right now it is just me and my cats. And it's quiet. Sometimes the silence is nice. I should probably spend more time with it as it's a good time for reflection or prayer or silent meditation or something along those lines. A good chance to just de-stress a bit.

Or maybe a good excuse for a nap, ha ha!

11/7/09

What's wrong with this picture?

So it's November 7th, at least according to the calendar. It's nearly 65 degrees outside and sunny. I'm not complaining about that one bit though. I'll take the nice weather while I can get it. Here's what's bugging me.

While enjoying coffee at Caribou this morning, I heard one Christmas song. Most of the music was the light acoustic stuff they tend to play, but a Bruce Springsteen Christmas song snuck in. Ok, I'll forgive that. It was just one. And at least they don't have their red and green coffee cups out like some other chain who's name I will not mention right now.

Then I went to the mall to look for shoes. Christmas decorations appeared to be everywhere already. Lights in the trees even. And let me remind you that it's 65 degrees outside today. Hmm, doesn't seem to fit.

Finally, at my last stop, the Christmas music was in full swing. I could not believe it. The cashier asked me if I wanted to open a credit card to make my Holiday shopping easier. I'm like, no because for one, I don't need another credit card and for two, it's not the holiday yet!

I'm a Christmas freak, I can't wait to put out all my stuff each year. But I have a limit as to how early I'll go. I try to make it to the day after Thanksgiving. Not the first weekend of November, especially when we're having a late batch of Indian Summer!

Ok, rant over. Merry warm November not even close to Thanksgiving yet early, early Christmas I guess!

11/6/09

Flashback Friday - 2006

On this same friend's blog that I found the inspiration for Thankful Thursday, I saw a suggestion from another blogger to do a Flashback Friday. I thought the idea sounded fun, and would inspire me to include pictures! I don't have alot of older pictures scanned, but I'm going to make an effort to this soon.

For today, I bring you a pictures from 2006. It was a big year, the year we got married, bought our house, got Taylor the cat, and turned the big 25. Sometimes it's hard to believe that was just three years ago, it almost seems longer. Not in a bad way, but when you think about it, it really wasn't all that long ago! So let's go back a short three years here:



Me with Taylor - May 2006 (camera has wrong date)



My bachlorette party at Mel's Beauty Bar -
tons of fun as you can see in the picture,
we laughed ALOT that night

Nate and I on the Ranger Tower in Itasca on our honeymoon. Going up was easy.
I did NOT enjoy climbing back down, he had to talk me through it.

Our wedding day



Our 25th birthday party at the Mermaid - it was my golden birthday.

As you can see, our looks have both changed alot since this time! I had grown my hair out for our wedding, I have now cut it pretty short. I do not dye it anymore, no more red hair for me. I stopped wearing contact lenses as well. Nate has different glasses and of course, facial hair. I think we both look more "our age" now, we look so young in these pictures!

Hope you enjoyed the trip down memory lane for this week. I hope to go back in time even more as we move forward through NaBlPoMo!

11/5/09

Thankful Thursday - Week 1

The weekly top ten will be moving to Tuesdays so I can participate in a weekly blog activity for NaBlPoMo. Introducing: Thankful Thursdays!


It's perfect, we celebrate Thanksgiving in November. Someone suggested this on a friend's blog, and I agreed it is a great idea. We often forget to really sit back and reflect on the good things in our lives that we are thankful for. I haven't been having the greatest week, so I think this is a good exercise for me today.


Five things I am thankful for this week:


1. The end of daylight's savings time. I just tend to sleep better in the fall and winter and was happy to gain that extra hour on Saturday night!

2. My new laptop and the fact that it now works. Yes I have a new laptop. We bought a cheap Dell that Nate converted to a Mac (Hackintosh) but at first the power supply didn't work. They sent us a new one and I am so happy with it now!

3. Friends, near and far, old and new, I love all of you!

4. Having a job. I may not love it everyday, but it's still a job to come to each day and I've been learning alot lately

5. Having a weekend coming up with not too much going on. Saturday we are totally free all day and Nate and I are going to just spend some time the two of us. I'm looking forward to it.


Let us remember to try and find our blessings and things to be thankful for each and every day! What are you thankful for today?

11/4/09

L is for Legacy

Today marks the 40th anniversary of one of the most famous streets in the world. I myself used to visit there frequently and my travels had a profound impact on my life. And what street am I talking about do you wonder? Not Main Street, that's for certain.

Sesame Street.

Sesame Street has been teaching and entertaining children for 40 years. Children that grew up with Sesame Street are now re-living it with their own children. It's become multi-generational.

I have very early memories of watching Sesame Street. Apparently I used to giggle like a crazy child when Bert and Ernie would do a routine in a fishing boat. Ernie's strategy was to call "Here Fishy Fishy Fishy!" Which of course Bert thought was ridiculous, but Ernie convinces him to try it. Pretty soon Bert is screaming at the top of his lungs and a large Muppet fish jumps in their boat and says "You called?"

But seriously, I learned more than just my ABC's from this show. I learned about love, marriage and starting a family when the characters of Luis and Maria fell in love, were married and had a child. I learned about adoption when the characters Gordon and Susan adopted a baby son named Miles. I learned about sign language from Linda and found a love of music with Bob.

These were my friends, the Muppets and the humans. Every day I could turn on my TV and they were always there. I laughed, I learned, I loved. I still do. Grover, Cookie Monster, even Big Bird all hold a special place in my heart. It's no secret I'm a huge Muppet fan.

I look forward to sharing Sesame Street with my children someday. I hope it is still around for many more years to come.

"Sing, sing a song, sing out loud, sing out strong. Don't worry if it's not good enough for anyone else to hear, just sing, sing a song." - Sing from Sesame Street

11/3/09

I love my crockpot

Ok, so I will admit - it has taken me about three years of being married and making my own meals to really get into using a crockpot. We got a pretty nice one as a wedding gift and it sat almost a year in it's box before we really used it. And then I think the first thing we even used it for was some hot apple cider for a party we had.

Then one day last year Nate decided to make a roast in it. It turned out great, but I still didn't jump on the crockpot cooking bandwagon.

I really don't know what I was waiting for! I've now done two meals this fall in the crockpot and let me tell you, it's a lovely feeling coming home and dinner is more or less done!

In my quest to cook recipes from the Betty Crocker book, I have found many meals will be easier if there is a little prep work the night before and then have them cook all day while I'm gone at work. So far, we've made beef stroganoff in the crockpot and corned beef for sandwiches.

The challenge is finding meals that need to cook for a long enough period of time while we are at work. If the meal only calls for 5-6 hours, that doesn't work out real well since we are gone for about 8. Nate's thinking of seeing if we can somehow hook up a timer though, that would turn it on at a specific time. I don't quite know how that will work, but hey, you never know.

I am now officially addicted to my crockpot and I think we'll have an opportunity to have many yummy meals this winter!

11/2/09

Blank

Wow, not even two days in and I'm already hitting writer's block. Hmm, this could be a bad thing!

Seriously, I think it's just kind of a lull in interesting things going on at the moment. Halloween has come and gone now. We're on a hiatus week for Praise Project. Our birthdays are still a few weeks off along with Thanksgiving and diving head first into the Christmas season. So for now, life is just kind of calm and boring. Not that it's a bad thing - but it leaves me with little to really write about!

I'm sure I'll get my inspiration back as time goes on. Right now I'm a little tired, I had a good, but busy weekend and it's been hard to get back into the daily grind for some reason.

But at least I'm posting something today! That says something right?

11/1/09

November is blogging month

So apparently November is National Blog Posting Month, aka NaBloPoMo. Bloggers are encouraged to highlight their blogs, show their best stuff, and I will do this by attempting to post everyday as per their rules. Check out this link for more info http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-nablopomo.htm if you are curious.

Now you all know I love to write so this shouldn't be too much of a challenge, but I am sure there will be days I may come up dry. I'll do my best to keep it interesting, maybe throw in some different kind of posts here or there.

So, come along with me on a month long blogging journey!

10/29/09

Thursday Top Ten: Meals I Make

So in honor of my post about starting to cook recipes from the Betty Crocker cookbook and also having proclaimed myself not exactly the world's greatest chef, I decided to build my self esteem today and list the 10 things I think I make pretty well. Because not everything I make is bad or anything!

10. Mexican Cheese Dip - granted this recipe, like many of mine, was handed down from my mom. But it's basically idiot proof - Mexican Velveeta, Hormel Chili w/o beans, salsa. Mix in crockpot, leave on low heat, you're good to go. Just add taco chips.

9. Chinese Hot Dish - another inherted recipe from mom, I have found this one is actually twice as yummy with ground chicken in place of ground beef. Mix up with cream of something soup (lately I've been choosing Cream of Mushroom), white rice, and noodles and bake it for awhile. Tasty. Nate always takes seconds.

8. Tator Tot Hot Dish - pretty much the same as above, but take out the chinese noodles and add tator tots. Yummy.

7. Marinated pork chops - I found a really easy recipe from Kraft Food and Family that involves marniating your pork in a combo of zesty italian dressing, brown mustard and I think there's something else I'm forgetting. Then you bake them and I tell you, you get the juiciest, yummiest pork chops!

6. One Pan Chicken and potatoes - kind of a long recipe to explain, but it's pretty much chicken, red potatoes and red peppers with some seasoning, all made on the stovetop and all very delicious.

5. Chocolate Chip cookies - maybe not quite as good as my mom's, but I'm pretty good at baking chocolate chip cookies.

4. Pork tenderloin sandwiches - our variation on these is to dip the pork in buttermilk that is seasoned and then into breadcrumbs. Fried up on the stove top and then served on buns, usually with french fries on the side. Healthy meal? Probably not. But tasty!

3. Hash brown hotdish - Yes, I make alot of hotdishes! This one is so simple, I'm sure you've all made it too - hashbrowns, cream of chicken soup, sour cream, cheddar cheese, ham, maybe some breadcrumbs on top? Bake for awhile. So easy. So yummy.

2. Beef stir fry - I love making this stir fry - it's a recipe I got out of a Taste of Home cookbook, it usually has beef, asparagus and mushrooms, but sometimes we add peapods or broccoli. We serve it over ramen noodles. It's not too difficult, but too many steps to type out here. Just know we love it.

1. Meatloaf - Nate's favorite thing I make is meatloaf. I have two variations - barbequed meatloaf, using barbeque sauce and then italian meatloaf, using spaghetti sauce and we usually serve that one with a little spaghetti on the side. Lately I've changed up and have been using ground chicken much like I have with my chinese hotdish. Sometimes brown beef bothers me, and ground chicken is healthier anyway! And we've found it tastes just as good, if not better than with the beef!

So there you go, I'm not all thumbs in the kitchen!

10/28/09

Betty...and Bethie?

I'm not a very good cook. I can admit it. I love reading recipes and I like the idea of trying them out, but, I also like a meal that can be prepared rather quickly with minimal clean up. But every once and awhile I jump in and try something challenging and new.

Yesterday was one such day. I took out my big red Betty Crocker cookbook and made us beef stroganoff in the crockpot. And it turned out fantastically. It was a little more prep work than alot of my meals, but so worth it in the end.

I started really paging through this cookbook and decided, I need to start trying more of these meals. So in the spirit of the movie "Julie and Julia" (That I have yet to see) I am going to cook my way through the Betty Crocker cookbook - sort of. I don't plan to try every single recipe, especially if it doesn't sound appealing, but I am going to shoot for trying something out of this big book once a week. I may not necessarily blog it here, but I am going to make notes in my book of what I've tried, what we liked or didn't like, if I could make it better with variation. Then someday I can give it to a future grown up child as a neat sort of hand me down gift.

I also think this will teach me to be a better cook which is a good thing too! So we'll see how it goes! I'll try to blog my progress on occasion, but I can't make promises!

10/27/09

New outlook

So maybe there was just something in the water yesterday. As you read, I was complaining about life passing by so fast and feeling overally busy.

Today I woke up refreshed and feeling more blessed by my crazy, hectic life then cursed by it.

Maybe it has to do with the return of the sun.

Maybe it has to do with a few things that gave me some perspective.

At any rate, it's nice to be back to a sunny, cheerful mood. I'll take it!

10/26/09

A blur

Lately life has been sort of passing us in a blur. We've been just so insanely busy. I find myself more and more wishing time would just slow down a little bit. I have been enjoying most of what we've been busy with, don't get me wrong. But I do feel like I need some time to breathe a little.

We just came off of another pretty packed weekend. Friday night we had our Praise Project rehearsal, which I love. I don't think of it as one of those things I "have to do" each week, it's something I look forward to and is a good release for me.

Saturday however was another story all together. We had a wedding on my side for one of my cousins. I was the wedding singer, so we had to arrive early because of that. Then we had the actual wedding and then the reception. Made for a long day for sure. But at the same time it kind of flew by.

Yesterday we had nothing planned, but ended up doing a few things anyway. I had apples from our visit to the apple orchard last week, so I went to my parents house and my mom and I made a pie for Nate. Well ok, it's for me to eat too, but Nate hasn't gotten any pie yet this year, so it was specially made for him. By the time we finished that it was time for me to grocery shop and then after that we grabbed dinner and the day was gone again!

Looking ahead to this week my days are filling up already as well. It's just the nature of the beast sometimes. If I knew how to say "no" a little better, it wouldn't be quite so bad.

I really do sound like I'm just complaining today. I do apologize. It's just one of those Monday things I guess! Can't always be bright and cheery, though I really do try!

Exciting things coming up for this blog in November. I discovered on a friend's blog that November is a special month for blogging, so I'm going to be attempting to post something everyday along with her. We'll see how it goes, I'm excited for the challenge of it anyway!

10/22/09

Thursday Top Ten: Favorite Places to Shop

I am a shopholic. I can admit it. I am not going to lie. I try my best to keep the addiction under control, especially in the stretch of the year we're heading into - November is my birthday month so I do not shop for myself and then of course Christmas comes in December and I certainly shop alot for others, but again, not for myself. So, in the spirit of the fact that I must start watching my habits exceptionally close soon, here are my favorite places to shop that I just might have to avoid for awhile (unless I'm buying someone else a gift.)

10. Lillian's/Fun Sisters - Tie - Both of these are purse shoppes that are only open once a month. The atmosphere at these places is so fun. I enjoy going with my mom. The purses are reasonably priced considering they are "designer inspired". I have also managed to find cute earrings and necklaces at each place too. What I especially love about Lillians is their punch card program - once you spend $200 you get a free purse! What's not to love?

9. American Eagle Outfitters - I really only go here when I can get things on sale. Yes it may be geared towards an audience that is slightly younger than me, but it's not as bad as say, Hollister. I like the hoodies, sweaters, dresses and jeans here. But again, it's spendy, so I try to wait for sales!

8. Aeropostale - Again, maybe this store is getting too young for me, but it's alot of similar items to American Eagle, and I really do like the jeans, hoodies and pajamas. And the prices are very reasonable!

7. Bath and Body Works - I am addicted to things that smell good! I love shower gels, lotions and body sprays in an assortment of scents. I kind of like changing my scent each day. Maybe it's a sickness, I don't know. I'm very excited about the new "Twilight Woods" smell!

6. Kohls - This store is great for the simple fact that it seems they ALWAYS are having a sale. Always. You just can't beat a good sale! Added bonus is I can usually get Nate to find clothes for himself here as well, so it's a good place for us both to go.

5. Old Navy - I have had a love, hate relationship with Old Navy over the years. I attribute this to the fact that they change trends frequently. Right now I am more in the love relationship again. The styles are mostly classic, simple. And again, the sales can't be beat when you can find the deals! I have had some luck in finding clothes for Nate here as well.

4. DSW - Shoes! What more can I say! What woman doesn't love a good pair of shoes? At discounted prices from department stores? Enough said right there!

3. JcPenney - Another great place for both Nate and I. We both manage to find nice clothes for work here and they have great sales throughout the year as well. I just went to the buy one, get one for $.88 sale. That's practically buy one, get one free!

2. Clothes Mentor - This is my newest obsession. It's a consignment style shop selling pretty well name labels for very cheap! And I have managed to find things that were practically brand new. My latest finds - an Ann Taylor skirt for $15, a pair of Ann Taylor pants for $20 and a Coach purse, that's right, I said Coach for $40! Honestly, I don't care if a little cleaning is necessary when you get home, the deals are too good to miss. The stores are clean and do not smell like thrift shops. I highly recommend to any working woman. They have plus sizes and maternity clothes as well. And selling to them is easy too. Why not get some cash for the stuff you don't wear right?

1. Target - who doesn't love Target? One stop shop for everything. Makeup, groceries, shoes, clothes, music, movies, just STUFF. I never go in and come out empty handed. A trip for one thing often turns into a purchase of three things. It's pretty dangerous really. But, there is something to be said for consistency. It's always there, always offering low prices. I love Target.

So there you go! Can you see why I need Shop-o-holics Anonymous??

10/21/09

Holding on to hope

20 years. Two decades. It seems like such a long period of time. But for one family, time has passed but also stood still for the last 20 years.

From what I've seen on the news this week, tomorrow is the 20th anniversary of the abduction of Jacob Wetterling. 20 years. How is that possible?

As a child/pre-teen growing up in the late 80's/early 90's in Minnesota, I remember much about this story and have lived a good chunk of my life being haunted by the same smiling image of a small town boy who disappeared in the blink of an eye. I was just one month shy of 8 years old when Jacob was kidnapped. And yet I remember it scared my parents to the very core - if this could happen in small town Minnesota, what hope do we have in a first ring suburb? My mom was afraid to even let me walk into religion class at church each week. But who can blame her? This was a very frightening, heart wrenching story.

As I've gotten older, I've found myself in awe of Patty Wetterling. I don't know how I would manage to go on if I was in her shoes, but she has done so much for child safety, she's really made a difference in the world. And she and her husband have never given up hope that Jacob will come home.

How amazing was it when Elizabeth Smart came home or just recently, Jaycee Dugard returning home after 18 years? It can happen and who knows, maybe someday Jacob will too.

The Wetterlings will never give up that hope. And it is an inspiration to me.

Peace to you Jacob, wherever you are.

"Once you choose hope, anything is possible" - Christopher Reeve.

10/20/09

1/2 a year

It has been SIX months. Six months since I quit picking my fingers. 1/2 year sounds almost more impressive.

I don't know how I have managed to come this far. I'm not exactly living a stress free life, although most of it is good stress if that makes any sense! But, I have yet to even try once to going back to my habit.
I am confident that I will make it another six months to one whole year.

My hands are happy and healthy. And really, I feel pretty darn good most of the time.
Here are the most recent pictures I have - it's hard to see, but I tried. On my right hand is my gift to myself a little earlier than originally planned - my right hand ring. I think when I make it to one year the reward will be a little bigger than that!




10/19/09

Jammed packed weekend

We had a pretty busy weekend - to the point that Monday was almost a welcome break today!

A summary -

Praise Project rehearsal, shopping with my mom, Nate and dad worked on electrical stuff in the house, apple orchard, winery, dinner, two Masses on Sunday with Praise Project, Pedal Pub with friends of friends and a birthday celebration for my mother-in-law/Nate's mom.

Sunday was the most packed, we did the two Masses in the morning at St. William's with the Praise Project and then headed to Northeast Minneapolis for the Pedal Pub and finally over to my in-laws for dinner. Crazy. I don't think I really had a chance to breathe on Sunday!

Nate and my dad got some good work done on Saturday with the ongoing electrical work that they need to get done. And I guess the piece they were working on went even better than expected, so that's great!

Next weekend is looking better, but only a little better. We do have a wedding for my cousin so that will take up some time.

And on we go!

10/16/09

Pippin

Pippin - November 2008


One year ago I was introduced to this tiny, scrawny, almost cartoony looking cat. She was black and white, not unlike the cat I already had. This little cat they called "Tuxedo" was being fostered by some good friends and was in need of a permanent home.

I thought she was adorable - but was resistant to the idea of taking her in at first. Though after I left her that first day I could not stop thinking about her. I kept pulling up pictures of her online that our friends had posted. I thought, can I really do this? Do we really want to be a two cat household? What is Taylor going to think - does she even want a companion? But, Nate talked me into at least having Tuxedo over for a visit and just "see how it goes." He said it didn't have to be permanent if it didn't work out. So on a Friday night in October last year Tuxedo came for a visit. She never left.

Pippin says "hi!"


Now bearing the name "Pippin the Tuxedo Cat" or Pippin or Pip or Monkey-cat (depends on our mood I guess!), we have had her in our home for a year. And I am so glad Nate talked me into bringing her into our life.

Sitting pretty in one of her favorite spots

Sure, it was not love at first site with Taylor and there are days I still think she simply tolerates Pippin, but we worked to get them acclimated to each other and I think most days they keep each other company quite well.

Pippin makes me smile every day. She's not a tiny, scrawny thing anymore. She's actually a very large cat. It's hilarious as she thinks she's little and dainty like Taylor and tries to act in such a way, but really, she's large and clumsy. She loves on us as much as we like to love on her. Her purr could practically rattle the walls. She loves to rub up against us or head butt us as a way of saying "hey you with the free hands - pet me!" She likes to cuddle with Taylor when Taylor will let her. She loves her toys and she triple loves her food.

She still is cartoonish in nature, but that is part of her charm. She recieved the nickname of Monkey-cat because of how she loves to hold on to us when we pick her up.

I can't believe we've had her for a year. Time flies. And yet, it feels like she's always been a part of our lives. I couldn't ask for a better cat (besides my Taylor of course).

"Soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur, Happy kitty, sleep kitty, purr, purr, purr" - Taken from the Big Bang Theory

10/15/09

Thursday Top Ten: Halloween Candy

It's cold and damp today, I'm not in the greatest of moods - tired and groggy mostly. But I won't skip my Thursday top ten, I will just do a short and sweet one. And by sweet, I almost mean literally! Here we go, my favorite candy to receive when trick-or-treating as a kid:

10. Snickers (funny, I only liked the fun sized Snickers, I never liked a BIG Snickers when I was a kid)

9. Milky Way (same as the Snickers, only liked the small ones)

8. Fun Sized M&M bags in plain or peanut

7. Hershey's Fun Sized bars

6. Reese's Peanut Butter Cups

5. Smarties

4. Dum Dum Lollipops - but only the red flavors like Cherry

3. Twix Caramel

2. Kit Kat's

1. Nestle Crunch

If you can't tell, I loved chocolate alot as a kid. I still like chocolate, but have found I prefer it in smaller doses as an adult - or even would prefer dark over milk chocolate most days now! I can honestly say, a little chocolate sure would be a nice pick me up on a day like today though!

10/14/09

Why I love Wednesdays again

Before I start today's post I just wanted to reference my friend Gina's blog for a few Oktoberfest pictures from the weekend. You can see them here. Thanks for posting them Gina, I'm glad someone got some pictures of the fun!

Now onto our regularly schedule blog post!

As most of my followers know, back in February Nate and I made a tough choice to leave our church. It was very hard and one of the things that I was saddest about was not having choir practice to go to anymore on Wednesday nights. Not only was it a chance to sing and exercise my vocal skills, but there was a fellowship aspect to it, seeing good friends on a weekly basis and all that goes along with that.

The other thing about Wednesdays that used to work great for us was that while I would go to choir, it also happened to also be Nate's night with the "nerd herd" as he calls them - his guy buddies from college who he gets together with and plays nerdy things like Magic cards or Dungeons and Dragons. With both of us gone on Wednesdays, neither had to feel too guilty about leaving the other at home!

When we first left the church, Wednesdays felt a little weird, but Nate wasn't actively hanging with the guys for a bit, so he was home with me and it wasn't so bad. We watched TV alot. I started scheduling meetups with friends so I wouldn't have to think about where I could be at that time. Then we started up with Praise Project, which definitely filled the musical void in my life, but we do that on the weekends, so Wednesdays were still free and clear and at times it started to feel odd.

Towards the summer, Nate started back up with the nerd herd and I was now a "Wednesday Night Widow." For the summer, it wasn't so bad, we never had choir through the summer anyway and again, I scheduled meetups with friends or hung out with my parents to kind of feel less weird. But I found myself not really liking Wednesdays anymore and wondering if Wednesday would ever not feel kind of "weird". As we got closer to Fall and several friends were starting back up with their church choirs, I even found myself a little sad and melancholy on Wednesdays.

Not anymore.

It turns out, Wednesday has suddenly become my favorite day of the week - due to a silly, stupid, guilty pleasure that I've raved about on Facebook for awhile now. You see, Wednesday night is Glee night. Glee, a show on Fox about a high school glee club, is my new favorite show. Nate's watched it with me a couple of times and decided it's not really for him, so now it works out great for me. I watch Glee while he's out having male bonding time. I am happy, he is happy. And let me tell you, Glee makes me super happy. But, it's so stupid! The storylines are SO unrealistic, but I think in a way that's what makes the show work. It's like they know it's kind of a farce so they're poking fun at themselves. I like the music in the show and I think the kids who are on it are actually quite talented.

So I love Wednesdays again. It might be for completely different reasons than in the past, but it works for me. It's nice to unwind and relax at home on my own, get completely sucked into my show and just sort of let everything else go for a bit. I find I'm able to tackle the last two days of the week much easier than in the past as well!

So it may sound cliche or nerdy but Glee fills me with glee! Ok, I know, too much.

Any secret guilty pleasures or not so secret guilty pleasures anyone else wants to share? Happy Wednesday!

10/12/09

Best Weekend Ever!

Ok, well maybe not the BEST weekend ever, but a pretty darn good one anyway!

Friday night we did our usual music practice for Praise Project and also watched the Twins get crushed by the Yankees.

Saturday we got up, I met my parents for coffee while Nate worked on making the basement a little more acceptable for company. Then, my mom and I went to the grand opening of the Roseville Clothes Mentor. If you've never been to a Clothes Mentor it's a very neat consignment type shop, they sell gently used brand name clothing and I have gotten some amazing deals on clothes for work there. Last spring at the Maple Grove store I actually found two pairs of capris with original tags still on them! Anyway, we found a pair of pants and a skirt for fall and winter, but the more exciting thing is - I am now the proud owner of my very own Coach purse. That's right, it's real and I don't care that it's slightly used, it's in great shape and I got it for $40! What a steal! It's a great everyday kind of purse - black leather, adjustable strap. I'll stop going on and on, but as most of my readers know, I love purses and this was a deal too good to pass up!

After that I headed home to help Nate with cleaning and picking up around the house to prepare for the evening's Oktoberfest activities. We were not happy that it was cold and had snowed outside, but were ready to make the most of it. We still set up for the bonfire just in case.

Evening fell and our friends arrived ready to sample our newest homebrews. We had some German type food - brats and sauerkraut and my awesome sister-in-law brought homemade pretzels! We also enjoyed some homemade ice cream from great friends in fall type flavors - cinnamon and maple pecan. Yum, yum, YUM.

A great time was had by all and we never did get outside to start that fire. But we were warm and cozy inside with wonderful friends and I'd call the event a success.

Sunday morning we slept late as Saturday night ended up as a rather late one. We got up and decided instead of making breakfast at home like we often do on Sundays that we would go out for breakfast for a change. At a suggestion from one of Nate's co-workers, we headed to the Egg and I in St. Paul. Had a nice breakfast there and then laid low most of the rest of Sunday!

So, it was a pretty awesome weekend I must say! Hope you all had good weekends too, in spite of the snow!

10/9/09

Snow?

Well they are predicting snow showers tomorrow. Which seems odd to me, I don't remember getting snow this early before, but I think it's because the last few Falls have been unseasonably warm. I mean yes, I was alive for the famouse Halloween blizzard of 91, but that's three weeks from now, not October 10th!

Oh well, we are having our annual Oktoberfest no matter what, snow or no snow! It'll be nice to still set up a bonfire, but if we can't, we'll be nice and cozy in our house!

In other important things to note - tomorrow is the one year anniversary of the day that changed our lives for the better. A year ago tomorrow Nate was offered his job and the world started turning for us again. I'm so proud of him for all he has accomplished in this last year and continue to be thankful this opportunity came up for him!

Stay warm this weekend everyone!

10/8/09

Thursday Top Ten: Blessings

So I'm just in a very gratitude filled, happy place today. It's my favorite season, it's beautiful outside even if a little cold and the leaves are gorgeous! So in the spirit of that, I started reflecting on the many wonderful things I'm thankful for in my life and decided today's top ten will be my top ten blessings in my life.

10. Fall! Bonfires, apple pie, cool weather, cuddling, sweatshirts, need I say more???

9. Internet technology and social networking. Yes it's true, I am an addict. But I have been able to connect and re-connect with so many people via Facebook that I am rather thankful for it.

8. Having a job to come to each day. I think that says it all in one statement. And I'm excited about some potential changes for me at work too. Mostly, just thankful I have a job and Nate has a job and we have a double income.

7. Coffee. I am even a little bit of a below average coffee drinker I think, but I do need my cup each day and I am thankful to have the ability to make and enjoy coffee. And having a Caribou close to home does not hurt either!

6. Beer. Ok, so it's silly, but hey, having a husband who brews beer is fun, it's really been an interesting adventure over the last year or so of making our own beer, sampling different beer and just all around enjoying beer. No we're not out to get smashed all of the time, we just like to enjoy a good brew.

5. Music. From being able to make music in Praise Project to listening to the unique variety of music stations like the Current offer, I just love music. I love to sing, I love to listen to music. Music=life for me.

4. Our cats. Yes they do not always love each other and can definitely make life just as challenging as raising a child, but they are cuddly, warm little beasts who love us unconditionally and they make our house a home.

3. Friends. I have some of the world's greatest friends and really, such a wide variety of friends. I have friends I've known since kindergarten, 3rd grade, middle school, high school and college in my life. Nate and I have work friends and we have our Praise Project friends. Many different ages and backgrounds, but all unique and wonderful. I cannot say enough about how lucky we are to have all these amazing people in our lives!

2. Family. I am so fortunate to be able to be close to and have a unique relationship with my parents. I am also thankful that my in-laws are such great people who have always welcomed me with open arms. Neither Nate or myself would be here without our families and we love them very much!

1. Nate. I'm sure you're all shocked that Nate is number one (and yes I'm being sarcastic). But seriously he is my everything, the best thing in my life. I couldn't imagine my life not being married to him and I won't even try. I am the person I am because of him and I could not love someone more.

There you go. Have you counted your blessings/things you are thankful for today?

10/7/09

Just a few random thoughts

I'm coming up blank in my blogging lately, it's not that we haven't had things going on, in fact, I was joking today that my life will probably not slow down until I'm like 64 or something. But anyway, I just don't have much new "news" to share or anything, so instead, just a few random musings for today.

So I swear there is a black hole I enter into whenever I get in the shower. I seriously feel like I'm in there for barely five minutes, yet I get out and 15 have gone by. It's really only been an issue since it's been colder in the mornings - it just feels too good to want to get out! But then I end up running behind in my morning. I haven't been late to work yet at least.

It's an exciting week to live in Minnesota - first the Vikings, then the Twins and the Wild. Pretty awesome I must say and I'm not even a huge sports buff. I'm most excited about the Twins I have to say. I like baseball alot at this time of year.

We have our Oktoberfest this weekend to give our friends another opportunity to sample Nate's beer. This is the debut of our kegged beer. It's pretty exciting. I am hearing rumors of cold and potential snow for this weekend but you know what, I'm just going to pretend that's not true.

After this weekend I think things calm down a bit for us again. We'll have some Praise Project gigs at a couple of churches and my cousin gets married in a couple of weeks but that's about it. I'm kind of glad, we have yet to go to the apple orchard, I like to visit a couple of wineries around this time of year if we're able, things like that. So I hope to achieve those things soon!

Nate and I are potentially planning a little getaway for our birthday. Probably just a weekend visit to Duluth, where we hope to do some beer sampling at the breweries up there and just get away together. We've been wanting to do this for a couple of years now, so we decided maybe this should be our shared birthday present this year. We'll see how things go!

Our house continues to be in a phase of evolution I swear. We've now moved our fish tank to the basement, moved the old bar out to the garage and moved around some other small pieces of furniture. We're hoping to sell the bar - in fact we have several items we'd like to sell, I may be posting here about a "online" garage sale before we do Craigslist or Ebay. So stay tuned for that.

That's it for today. The sun is shining and that makes me happy. Make it a great day!

10/5/09

I wanted to see pretty colors


So I had an opportunity to go up for a very brief visit to the North Shore. It ended up rainy and cold, which was unfortunate, but the biggest disappointment was the fall colors. I thought they would be more vibrant up there, but nope. The whole state is suffering it seems from the lack of rain in the summer. At any rate, I found one very lovely, pretty tree, so here is all I can share of pretty colors. Maybe we'll still get some good color down here in the cities yet this year!


10/1/09

Thursday Top Ten: Halloween Costumes

In honor of it being October as of today (really? October 1st already? Where is the time going!! Fall slow down!) I am bringing you my top ten favorite Halloween costumes I've ever had. I figure, I'm 27 years old and have dressed up almost all 27 of those years, I have to have ten favorites right? I only wish I had pictures available that I could put online. I do not own a scanner, but my parents do. Hmm, stay tuned, maybe pictures will show up here later. Anyway, here we go!



10. Fairy - I have been a fairy twice in my life, once at my mom's doing when I was just under two years old and again as a 24 year old just married person! Both times, my mom made the skirt though in all due fairness. :) I actually chose a fairy right after we got married so I could wear my pretty sparkly headband from the wedding one more time! I did have pictures on my computer once upon a time and well, somehow I lost them! But it was a cute costume complete with fairy wand. As a two year old I looked like a pixie. It was freaking adorable.



9. Scarecrow - my mom and grandma worked hard on this costume and it really did turn out cute. I was a 2nd grader the year I wore this one. What I remember most is losing my hat somewhere throughout the night but my dad went and found it for me. Cause you know, dad's are awesome like that.



8. Bunny - I have been a bunny more times than I can count. I'm not kidding. I was just under a year old for my first Halloween and my mom gave me bunny ears and a little nose - too cute. I chose to be a pink bunny when I was four and five - same costume fit both years so why not? In pictures it's hilarious though, there are some taken indoors and I'm just this skinny little thing, but then you can tell it must have been cold that year because the outdoor pictures I'm all bulked up with a coat underneath. It's almost like bunny before fattening up for winter and then after!



7. Bunny with magician - Ok I separated this one, this was another time I was a bunny, but this time it went with something. The first year Nate and I were a couple we dressed up as a magician and his rabbit. I did this one very simply - white sweatshirt, white ears and tail. We had a harder time with Nate's costume - in fact, I don't think we ever did find a top hat! Still, it was fun to do something as a couple for the first time.



6. Raggedy Ann - I loved Raggedy Ann and Andy growing up, my grandma had the dolls and I just loved them. So I asked to be Raggedy Ann when I was a third grader. Mom and grandma again made my dress and apron. I believe I also had kickers. We found a red yarn wig and then my mom gave me rosy little cheeks and I was good to go. And it was cute. Added bonus, later that same year when I sang in our church show "The Wells Fargo Wagon" from the Music Man, my mom simply lengthened the dress a bit so it looked like it fit the time period so I got more use out of it!



5. Joker - I still dressed up in middle school, they had costume contests I remember, the best out of homeroom went to the cafeteria and then judged and picked from there. My joker costume was pretty good I thought, my mom found a good pattern and the best part was the hat. It included real live bells and everything. My mom also did my makeup and it was pretty cute as well. I was chosen from my homeroom for the contest, but I didn't win once I got to the cafeteria.



4. Butterfly - I was obsessed with all things butterfly my senior year of high school. I really do not know why. So I decided to be a butterfly for Halloween. It was not too hard to do, my mom helped me fashion some wings out of some old material and we sewed it to a black shirt in a way that when I opened my arms it looked like I was spreading my wings. I found a headband with antenna and was more or less good to go. Nate and I did not coordinate outfits that year - he was Dr. Evil from Austin Powers. It would've been funny for him to be like the cocoon or something though!



3. Luigi - I loved everything about this costume from just last year. Why? Because it was the easiest darn costume ever! And it was Nate's idea! He was Mario, I was Luigi from Super Mario Brothers the Nintendo game. There are pictures on this blog here. It was so simple - I already had overalls from other costume needs in the past. I had a green t-shirt. Nate made our hats. Ali gave me a mustache and we were good to go! We got alot of compliments too! It was fun. Although I still think I should've been Mario because Mario is shorter than Luigi. But still, I loved it!



2. Minnie Mouse - This is my favorite costume from my childhood. It turned out so well, my mom and cousin Cathy made this one. I had the perfect red and white polka dot dress, little yellow shoes and the headpiece was awesome. I really wish I could share a picture, it was an outstanding costume. I loved every minute of wearing it and used to play dress up with the dress until I was too big for it to fit anymore!



1. Rainbow Brite - This was my costume in 2007 and really it is the only one I put together all by myself, so I feel like I have bragging rights and that is why it goes at number one. And lookie here, I just happen to have a picture of this one! I'm just really proud of how it turned out. I took my anniversary edition Rainbow Brite doll and tried my best to match everything. I shopped thrift stores and party supply stores and pretty much put it all together without breaking the bank. And come on, you always wondered how I'd look as a blonde with long hair right?



So there you go! My 10 favorite Halloween costumes of all time! I don't know if I'll be dressing up this year or not, we'll see how things go. For now, the walk down memory lane was fun!

What are some of your favorite Halloween costumes from the past?