Winter bucket list

And just like that January is almost over.

It hasn't even been a busy month! In fact, we have had more time to relax this month than we have in quite some time. So I'm not sure how time flew by so fast.

I have been complaining a LOT about winter and winter weather. And of course, now that I realize that really, we're getting closer to spring - I realize that there are some things I'd still like to do before the winter is over.

So similar to my "Summer Bucket List" I bring you my "Bucket list - winter edition"

1. Attend the Winterfest beer festival from MN Craft Brewers association (more to come on this, we actually do have tickets and will be attending next week, this is Nate's Christmas present I talked about last month)

2. Go to Omnifest at the Science Museum. We're still members through March - we have no excuse to have not done this yet or to not do it at all - we can go for free.

3. Go sledding. Seriously.

4. Visit the new Polar Bear at the Como Zoo - yes he'll be there in warmer weather too, but I know he'll be more active when it's cold.

5. Eat at Donatelli's - ok, this might sound stupid, but this is one of the few restaurants that we won't eat at much in warmer weather. It's that baked yummy heavy Italian food and I just want to make sure we get there before it no longer sounds good! We haven't been since Halloween - kind of rare for us. Eating out less will do that I guess.

6. Go see the ice sculptures at the Winter Carnival - don't often do this one, but kind of want to this year maybe.

7. Check out some more MN Wineries (yeah I can do this year round really, but my wine supply is next to nothing right now) .

8. Make a french silk pie for Nate (I know, what does this have to do with winter? Nothing but I am thinking of doing this for V-day).

9. Watch at least a couple of the Oscar nominated movies before the Oscars - so far I've seen Inception. That's it.

10. Watch the Super Bowl. Don't really care who's playing, but I have to watch it every year and eat unhealthy snacky food and drink beer. It's fun.

There you go. So maybe it's a dorkier list than my Summer one was, but I also think these goals are slightly more obtainable! We'll see how it goes. I'm trying to stay positive and embrace winter instead of complain all the time!

*Singing* You've got to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, latch on to the affirmative, don't mess with Mr. In between....


Something to ponder

Even though we don't have children yet, Nate and I enjoy watching the NBC show "Parenthood." (Well ok, I probably enjoy it just a tad bit more than he does, but he does watch every episode with me so I give him credit for that!) I think it is a very well done show that has so many levels - family dynamics, communication, drama, joy. Many real life issues that families deal with.

Last week's episode was thought provoking in a way. One of the characters, Haddie, is dating a guy that her parents do not approve of her seeing. He is older than her and is dealing with adult issues and while he was up front with her parents about all of it, they made their wishes clear, she cannot date him right now. Of course, Haddie refused to listen to them and continued to sneak around behind their backs even after being grounded, culminating in her mother saying "you live in our house, you abide by our rules." Next think you see is Haddie showing up on the doorstep of her grandparents asking to stay there for awhile - and that was the end of the episode.

After we watched it, Nate actually said, "wow, how do you handle that kind of situation?" I started thinking about it and remembered - while it was not to nearly this severe of a degree, I dated a guy my parents didn't approve of before Nate. Yes shocker, there were boys before Nate. Not many mind you, but a couple. And there was one that was very difficult for my parents.

We'll call him "B". It's not that B was a bad person or anything like that. But he was different. My first boyfriend, who we'll call "D" was friendly, outgoing, polite and a bit of a charmer. He'd talk to my dad on the phone for five minutes before I even had a chance to jump on. It was a short lived relationship, but a parent's dream in a first boyfriend. After D and I were finished, I was burned a few more times by some others and so when B started paying attention to me I liked it. He had long hair, he was a musician, he seemed kind of dark and mysterious. And he liked talking to me in class. So I asked him to homecoming. And pretty soon even though it was never "official" we were pretty much together all the time.

He was shy though and quiet and that made my parents kind of nervous. And yes, his appearance was a bit of a turn off for them as well. And I can admit this now, he made me different. Our relationship was complicated and strange and it affected my personality, my daily life. My grades suffered a bit during that time. I wasn't quite "Me".

So now the big question, how did my parents deal with it? Well, simply, they handled it by not really doing anything. They waited it out. Yes, there were some consequences for the grade issues, but they never said to me "you cannot see this boy, you cannot talk to this boy." I'm sure it broke my mother's heart too, but their patience with the situation did pay off. I started seeing the light on my own that this wasn't a good relationship. And again, I don't totally blame B for that, he wasn't ready for things that I was, he was more immature. I made the choice to break it off and get out - and my parents cheered.

Now, had there been more serious issues with this relationship, I am sure they would not have hesitated to step up and do more - but in this situation, it worked for them to leave it be. I wouldn't even know until years later just how hard it actually was for them. Fortunately, it wasn't a long relationship - probably four months at the most, but, it was longer than a few days or couple of weeks, so I give them a great deal of credit for their patience. A couple of months after my split with B was the trip that changed my life in the best possible way when Nate and I got together. And my parents were comfortable with him from the start - he'd been around for years as we'd grown up going to school and church together, they knew his parents and it was all around a much better situation. Maybe that was their reward for their patience with the B situation, you never know.

But getting back to "Parenthood" it does raise an interesting question - how would you handle that situation? And I'd be willing to bet, like me, we have all probably had a relationship that made our parents nervous or maybe made a decision that they were less than happy with at the time - I think it's a right of passage actually (I kid a little here). So looking back, how did your parents deal with it? Would you choose the same approach as them?

Nate and I are years away from dealing with that kind of thing of course since we are still not moving towards having children quite yet, but we could be in that boat someday, so it's interesting to ponder just a bit.

Or maybe I just have too much time on my hands!


All you never wanted to know about the Muppets

I feel it is my duty as a hardcore Muppet fan to take a few moments for some education.

See, the Muppets are getting thrown back into the spotlight as their big soon to be smash hit movie is being filmed as we speak and I have noticed on Facebook and Twitter and in general that people are talking about them again. Awesome! I also notice though that certain rumors are popping up again that are not true. Not so awesome! I'd let it slide, but when I saw one of the most ridiculous of these rumors on a Facebook status update today, I decided it's time to say something.

So, here is my education for today - things said in recent years about the Muppets that are NOT true. You can find a similar list on Toughpigs.com - a website for Muppet fans who grew up. This was a hot discussion on this site recently and I want to give them the credit.

1. Cookie Monster is no longer Cookie Monster, he is the Veggie Monster

100% false. Yes it's true, Sesame Street had a big "healthy foods" campaign a few years back and included a song called "A Cookie is a sometimes food" but Cookie Monster is STILL the Cookie Monster. I promise. Really. He eats veggies too sometimes and he also eats the plate that they came on. He always has. Nothing has changed.

2. Disney owns everything

Not entirely true. This is a bit of a confusing item. The Sesame Street Muppets are still Muppets - but they belong to Sesame Workshop. Not Disney. The "Classic" Muppets - those that were on the Muppet Show - Fozzie, Miss Piggy, Gonzo, etc. - they belong to Disney. This includes Kermit the Frog. Yep, gray area, because he did used to appear on Sesame Street, but he belongs to Disney and therefore you will not see him on Sesame Street any longer. To FURTHER confuse things, The Jim Henson Company owns the rights to the characters from Fraggle Rock and other more obscure Henson productions such as Labyrinth. And sadly, until these three companies can get along - we will not likely see shows like "A Muppet Family Christmas" that includes all types of Muppets on television.

3. Jim Henson died of AIDS

Nope. He did develop a very fast and deadly form of pneumonia, but it was not AIDS related at all. He also avoided going to the hospital and might have lived had he gotten their sooner. If you watch interviews with some of his former co-workers/Muppeteers they said he always had an air about him that he knew he wasn't long for this Earth, so perhaps he just knew and felt it was time when he did get sick.

4. Ernie and Bert are gay.

Ridiculous. There are people out there who still believe this is true. Seriously, I am still shocked when I hear that people think it's true. They share an apartment together and that is ALL. You ever watch the Odd Couple? They are pretty much a parody of that and nothing else. Sigh.

5. Common mispellings

Ok maybe I'm getting a bit too nitpicky now - but it's Fozzie Bear, not Fozzy Bear and it's Rowlf the Dog, not Rolf or Ralph or anything like that. It made me sad when I saw that Disney World itself had a collectable Rowlf the Dog pin that actually had his name spelled as "Rolf". Really Disney? I'm sure Jim Henson was rolling in his grave on that one.

Those are the five biggest ones I know of. Am I a huge nerd for wanting to my blog readers to know the truth? Yeah. But now you can impress your friends and be like "Hey, Cookie Monster is NOT the Veggie Monster, he does still eat cookies!" Cause I'm sure that's the kind of conversation that comes up at your cocktail parties.

Happy Friday.

Money makes the world go round

Anyone else noticing how expensive the world has gotten since the calendar turned to 2011? Maybe it's just me, but it feels that way just a wee bit.

Gas prices have shot up again, which they did warn us about in the news quite a bit, so I guess I shouldn't be too surprised. I hope the predictions of where those prices could go by this summer are wrong, especially when we're planning a road trip to St. Louis to visit the Kondrick relatives that live there. Fortunately we should only have the gas as our main expense for that trip, but still, if the prices climb higher...

Then there is groceries. Because we are working hard to not go out as often, we expected that our grocery bills could be a bit higher. But so far I'm a bit in sticker shock. The biggest thing I've noticed - though again, it was reported in the news so I'm not as surprised - is coffee has gone up in price. Not enough that I'm quitting my addiction mind you, but I am watching for deals a bit more. I'll buy what's cheap each week, that's fine.

My Netflix subscription went up a little bit awhile back - which I knew about - but hadn't really paid attention to until recently. I don't want to give it up - but man.

I'm sure there are other things as well, I guess because I'm working on being more budget conscious, I'm noticing these things just that much more. I saw a friend on Facebook post about wanting a money tree and I thought - wouldn't that be just awesome?

Fortunately, it's getting to be tax time and we'll likely get a refund, so that will be nice to help with projects since day to day life is coming with a bigger price tag!


Blog changes

Change is good.

I have been reading up and looking into different things that can help "spice up" my blog so to speak. Well, ok the appearance of it anyway, not necessarily the content (though that probably could use some spicing up too, so I'm not just always doing things like whining about the weather...)

Many of them involve some different things like fonts and signatures - which are not as easy to use as I had hoped, but I'm working on it.

Starting today, I am going to be ending each post with a signature. Just something I thought I'd try and that I was easily able to figure out myself. It's nothing special - just my name. I have no secrets on this blog and nothing that I'm ashamed to post. So signing off with my first name is just fine with me.

Or I could end up hating it after awhile too. We'll see how it goes.

With any luck, hopefully with the assistance of my tech savvy husband, I can play with some of the other things I've been experimenting with.

Stay tuned!


Winter blahs

*Warning - whiny weather related post coming up. I felt a disclaimer was only fair, ha ha!*

Anyone else have the winter blahs? You know, usually, I do not get spring fever until mid to late February. This year it's hitting me early and it's hitting me hard.

I'm tired of shoveling the driveway every time it snows.

I'm tired of cleaning off my car every time it snows.

I'm tired of bundling up and looking like Nanook of the North every time I go outside. (Side note - short hair and hats? Yeah, doesn't work so well.)

I'm tired of driving around cautiously, not sure if I'll find black ice at an intersection (I have spun my car twice this year - not hitting anything or anyone fortunately, but that's two times too many in my book.)

I miss the sun.

I miss grilling food for dinner.

I miss longer amounts of daylight.

Yes, this is all coming from the girl who not six months ago said "I am not a summer girl". Follow the link there to my blog post on a hot day. And how I said, "remind me of my complaining on a day in January when it's 20 below." It's not 20 below (yet) but look at me - I'm complaining.

I know, can I ever be happy? Ha ha. Seriously, fall and spring are the best times of the year I think. And I do enjoy winter sometimes - I like snow even. I enjoy winter activities and sweatshirts and jeans are my favorite form of clothing so that works well for me. I think the fact that our fall got cut WAY short this year with the arrival of a snowstorm on November 12th is what is seriously contributing to my attitude about winter at the present. And also the fact that we pretty much made the decision to just take a break from running through the winter. We never found a solution that worked well for us. I use the elliptical every day but it is not quite the same.

So, I'm anxiously waiting for the snow to melt just a bit and the air to thaw a little. Just enough so we can get at our grill again. Enough that I don't have to squash my hair with a hat when I go outside. Enough that I can drive and not fear what my car is going to do. I don't need to rush spring, just enough of a thaw to take the edge off winter, just a little.

That's not too much to ask of Mother Nature right? Yeah, that's what I thought.


Taking back Sundays

Sundays are supposed to be restful. Reflective. Relaxing. But, for us lately, that hasn't been the case. It really hasn't been the case for quite a long time now actually.

We started treating Sundays as the one day of the weekend to get everything done. Grocery shopping. Chores. Stuff that is actually more work. Definitely not relaxing.

The biggest thing, is the grocery shopping. I don't know why I chose Sundays as our day to do this. The store is usually extremely crowded. If we have been at church in the morning, by the time we get home and have had lunch and are ready to head out there, it's nearly the end of the afternoon. By the time we finish at the store we get home in time to have dinner and then the day is gone. If we have other errands to run? Forget it. The whole day is just shot. And lately, it's been getting to us. We're not going to bed feeling refreshed to face our workday. Instead we're wiped from rushing around all day.

So, we decided, let's try taking back our Sundays. The simplest way we could do that is as I mentioned last week, find an evening that's free and do the shopping then. We're on week two of this experiment and we're loving it so far. Yesterday we were gifted with it not being a Sunday that we had to sing somewhere, so we slept in, went out to breakfast and then came home to make a roast. We had the whole afternoon to just work on the roast and while it cooked we got to relax and it was great.

It may sound so simple and maybe even a little silly, but I really love Sundays now! The challenge is finding an evening to go to the store and making sure our meals are planned out but so far, we're making it work pretty well.

My goal for 2011 is to keep it going. Keep Sundays sacred, or well, at least stress free!


A good weekend

It's been awhile since I've had a weekend as lovely as this last one was. Not to say I've had bad weekends as of late, but through the holiday season they were so busy. Or they were snowy. They definitely haven't led to much couple time for just Nate and I. So this weekend was a much needed treat.

We still did a lot of stuff this weekend too - but it was all on our own timetable for the most part. And we managed to have dinner with both sets of parents too! Otherwise, we visited the homebrew store so Nate can clean kegs and fill them with new deliciousness. We bought a TV with the money we got from selling Nate's Taurus. We really didn't need a new TV, but we found one for a good price that is a little bigger than our current one and still fits our space. Plus, it has a few more plug ins than our current one had as well so if we want to add like an Apple TV or something we can. And now we're going to mount the old one on the wall in our bedroom so I can get my old boxy one off of my dresser! It's not like we even watch THAT much TV - but it was a fun purchase.

We spent the rest of the weekend watching things on the new TV, playing a few video games and just relaxing. It was a great weekend.

Something that is going to help us make the most of our weekends is that we're trying something new in terms of when we grocery shop. I don't really know why or how we made Sundays our grocery day, but we have for the last four years. And some weeks it really eats into our Sunday. We like going together and both having input and such, so we've decided we're going to try going on an evening for awhile and see how that goes. So, this week we're trying Tuesday. We're going to try to change "how" we shop as well - which will help us not go out as much as we really try hard to save money this year.

I guess it's the little things sometimes that make a difference! At any rate, I'm feeling good after a nice weekend with the person who means more than life itself to me, so that's a good way to start a Monday!


First Random Thoughts of 2011

Been awhile since I've just posted a bunch of random thoughts, so guess what? You're in for a treat today! Either that or you're rolling your eyes and clicking the "Close Box" right now, but if not, read on my friends.

-Looking back on January's past I realized, so little goes on in this first month of the year. Many times it flies by barely noticed and in the blink of an eye. I don't know if it's because it is so darn cold that we just hunker down and hibernate until it's all over? I know in years past January was spent gearing up for the Follies show at our old church, but we haven't had that now for a couple of years. It is just a very uneventful month. So far this month is shaping up to be a little more exciting than usual - I planned a Partylite party with Miss Gina and we're hoping to go the Ominfest at the Science Museum and a couple of other things. So that is kind of nice.

-I have never been one to like Pop Tarts. I can remember my peers being so excited to get them as a treat when we were kids and being like "I don't get it, I don't like these." Well let me tell you this Christmas season, thanks to a friend who got to review them on her blog, I discovered Gingerbread Pop Tarts. And let me tell you - these are so good. Like so good. They go great with my morning coffee. They're not like regular Pop Tarts. I love them. I was so excited that Target still have a few boxes left on the day before New Year's Eve - because I had to get some more to enjoy these for just a bit longer!

-We have finally killed two of the kegs out of the bar - which means Nate gets to keg up some fresh batches of beer and we'll have new ones to sample finally. He has two that he brewed a couple of months ago now, so it will be nice to finally get to try them! We have one more keg that is almost gone too, so he's going to have to brew yet another batch. Darn. Ha ha.

-We actually found some people to buy Nate's old Taurus, which is very exciting. We're getting about as much money as we'd probably have gotten back on taxes for donating it, the perk, we'll have the money now as opposed to later. Of course, the fan had to not be working when they came to get it last night, but it was likely clogged with ice, so we're trying again today now that it is warmer and worst case scenario, Nate will replace it real quick, sounds like it's an easy pop one out pop another one in type deal. And then my driveway will be back to having only two cars in it! Score!

-Our cat Pippin has been very naughty as of late, clawing at the couch and no matter how much claw trimming I'd do or where we'd stick her scratching post, she'd still do it. I finally dug out this cat house that is quite large and is also made for scratching and stuck it in front of the couch, I just hate how much room it takes up which is why I'd put it away, but it made such a huge difference - she doesn't touch the couch at all anymore. And her and Taylor (the other cat, who does not have claws, long story for another day) are having fun playing "king of the tower" with it. So it's not asthetically pleasing, but I'd rather keep my couch in good shape and keep my kitties happy! I'll leave with a couple of pictures of the cats and the cat house so you can see what I mean.

Taylor is "king of the cat tower"

I thought Pippin was stuck at first - no, just hanging out

So there you have it. First random thoughts post of 2011. I'm sure there will be more to come! Right now I'm blaming it on the fog I'm in from this minor cold - I still don't have it nearly as bad as Nate did, but it could be done with me anytime now!


The New Year

So this is the new year. And I don't feel any different.
The clanking of crystal. Explosions off in the distance.
So this is the new year. And I have no resolutions.
For self assigned penance. For problems with easy solutions.
-Lyrics from "A New Year" by Death Cab for Cutie
So this is the new year. Well, the third day of the new year. Back to "normal" whatever that means. The holidays are pretty much over. I put all my decorations away. I am back at work. I am ready for a fresh new start.
As I've already stated, 2010 wasn't horrible, but it wasn't necessarily the best year either. But I'm excited to now be in 2011. I'm anxious to see what this year holds. So far it hasn't been much different from the end of 2010 - I have a minor headcold, not nearly as bad as what Nate had however. I do hope it doesn't last long.
I don't usually make resolutions, but I am trying to resolve to not let the little things bug me as much. Because as much as I say I don't - I really do not do well at that. So I'm really going to work on it. Don't sweat the small stuff. Life's too short to worry about small details. Things need to roll off my back more.
Also working on budgeting our money a bit better. We have some things we'd like to save up for and I'm trying to be more proactive about it. We're guilty of going out a lot - especially on weekends - for dinners and such and sometimes it can really add up. We're trying to scale that back to once a week again if we can help it.
Beyond that I am just open to whatever 2011 has to offer me. I hope that it's a good year for everyone. I'm even beginning to accept that looming big birthday I have at the end of this year. It's not sounding as scary for some reason.
Welcome 2011. Let's make it a good one.