Groupon blues

First things first - I realized the link I posted yesterday doesn't take you directly to the directions for the necklace I made, just the general blog. Since a few of you have expressed interest in this project, here is the direct link - hopefully that helps so you don't have to wade through pages and pages. Now on to our regularly schedule blog post.

Groupon. Do any of you use it? Or any of it's variations - Crowd Cut, Living Social, Daily Deals, etc? We started using it back this fall. Groupon and Crowd Cut mostly. The concept seems like such a good idea. Meals at restaurants for half off? Roller derby tickets for half off? Cheap deals for Amazon.com? Awesome! I am all about saving money, now more than ever. So far we've had amazing luck with the things I mentioned and in addition to those also bought deals for Dunn Brothers coffee, Chatterbox Pub and Vic's restaurant in NE Mpls. And we've never had issues with using these deals until we went to Vic's last night. Now, I think the blame for the story I am about to share really goes three ways - including with ourselves. See, Nate bought the Groupon for Vic's in early January I think, I do not remember for sure. We were reading the description when it came in an email and figured, well we've never been there before. The deal was $50 for only $25. Vic's is a somewhat spendier place, so this sounded like a good deal. The problem is, Groupons are not unlimited on time table. They do expire just like any other type of coupon. It was only good until March 31st - so here is where we take the blame, due to our schedule and just honest procrastination, we didn't get a chance to use it until this week, just under the wire. However, Nate called over the weekend and made us a reservation so we thought that we'd be all set, never imagining what we'd be in store for. It turned out to be quite a nightmare.

See, apparently reservations don't apply to procrastinators/Groupon users at Vic's. We had made our reservation for 6:30, figuring Nate would have plenty of time to get home so we could head down. As it turns out, he was home earlier than normal, so we left the house at about ten to six figuring, well if we get down there a little early that's fine, give us time to find parking and all that jazz. We parked in a nearby ramp, walked down to the restaurant and probably were walking in the door around 6:15. We noticed a large crowd was kind of hanging out in the waiting area, but figured, well these people must have walked up. We checked in with the hostess and said we had a 6:30 reservation. She then informed us "We are experiencing a bit of a wait right now on reservations, so I can take down your name and we'll get you seated as soon as we can, but it will be about a half hour to 45 minutes." Um, excuse me?

There were a good twenty or so groups ahead of us on this list. And of course they were all like groups of two like us. The bar was also full of people waiting for tables. Now because we had bought the Groupon we decided to wait it out, but this just seemed kind of ridiculous. After about 45 minutes we were finally able to sit at the bar. Where we waited for another HALF HOUR. Yes that's right, our total wait time for a reservation was an hour and a half. Every single person that came in who had a "reservation" had the same wait. This is where I say the blame goes three ways on this issue - like I said, we waited until the last minute to use the Groupon, so that is clearly our own fault. But, Vic's maybe should have been better prepared for the rush like this - or turned some people down or something. And maybe Groupon should have had a limit on how many of these were purchased. Or maybe I'm just being whiny and should shut my mouth. I guess I just feel that if you have a reservation for a specific time, you should be seated and eating close to that time.

I suppose the best solution is, in the future, not waiting until right before it expires to use it. I am curious though if it was just that Vic's was underprepared for this situation? By the way - the food was just ok. Well ok, Nate's meal was super good, mine was kind of sub-par. He had Pork Osso Busco, I had ribs and rotassarie chicken and I've honestly had better. We had some good wine though. So after all we went through, I'm still not certain it was worth it. Though with the Groupon our total wasn't bad at all and they valdiate parking as well, so all in all that part wasn't terribly bad.

Moral of the story - don't procrastinate if you want to save money I guess!



Over the weekend, I was inspired by a blog I read to get crafty and make something cool. I have spoken before about how I wish I was more creative and better at making things with my own hands - I am insanely jealous of those who are gifted in these areas. And I have tried a couple of different types of "craft/creation" things in the past - crochet, decoupage, scrapbooking to name a few. My biggest downfall? I'm not patient. And I get easily frustrated. And sometimes I'm even a little clumsy. But anyway, I found a project on this blog that sounded like something I could TOTALLY. DO. And guess what? I DID!

It was a DIY necklace project. A trend right now is combining fabric and metal in jewelry. This project showed how you could do it yourself using chain, scrap fabric and decorating beads. Basically, you take the beads and twist them into a narrow cut piece of fabric, tying a knot next to the bead, then adding another bead, tying another knot, so on and so forth, then attaching the fabric to the chain.

I went to Walmart and raided their craft department, found a couple of scraps of fabric in the scrap bin, bought some gems that you would usually put into a vase (they're not seen, so it doesn't matter what they look like) and a couple of tools. All said, I was able to make two necklaces for under $10!

The blog I read has other fun ideas too, so this might be a new thing for me, you just never know! Also related to arts/crafts - my mom and I signed up for a Spring Arts Sampler class at the park by my house - three week session that gives a taste of different mediums - sculpture, ceramics, paper making, book binding. I think it will be fun. We start that next week.

I will leave you with a picture of one of the necklaces I made, I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out!!


Home Improvement

Ahh, the life of a homeowner. Or I guess I should say the life of an "older home" home owner. The projects are never ending. We had have a little lull in house projects over the winter here, but we're picking up again, almost in full speed.

So yesterday my dad came over to look at the lighting in our basement again. We've had some conversations in the past about it - basically we are going to take down two very industrial looking fluorescent light fixtures and move those into my laundry room to give more light in there and replace them with nicer light fixtures in the main room. But of course, when they took just one of these fixtures down yesterday it was revealed (not surprising though given other things we've found in the house) that the ceiling was patched horribly around the hole for the light and that there are extra wires up in the ceiling as well that serve no purpose whatsoever. My dad said, ok, a little more work that we would like, but let's do this right. He will cut a nicer cleaner hole in the ceiling and patch it up nicely, paint over it and then install our new light fixtures.

We also mentioned that over the bar we have been having this little water issue, something being caused from the upstairs bathroom. So, Nate and my dad took down part of the wall that is on the overhang over the bar and talked about it and we now think it's caused from cracked and falling apart grout up in our upstairs bathtub. So guess what other project we're going to tackle, hopefully in the next few days? Scraping out old grout and re-doing some of the grout in the upstairs bathtub. It really needs to be done even without the water problems it's causing. We'll have to really clean our downstairs shower so we can use it for a few days. Ultimately though we want to get this water problem solved, not only so it doesn't ruin our lovely brand new bar, but also so Nate can install some track lighting up above the bar as well.

So once again, what sounds like simple little projects at the start, have turned into something much more, but they are again things that will make our house just that much nicer in the long run!


We plan...

My grandma always used to say "We plan and God laughs." And I'm guessing right about now she's up there laughing too.

Last week I had thought that this week was going to be a perfect week to start our running. And as I reported earlier, we did. And then it iced and snowed four inches. And got cold.

Back to the drawing board I guess. I hear more improvement is on the way for next week so we'll be right back at it.

So much for plans!

In other news, yesterday I went down to use the elliptical since we clearly weren't going to be running. Our elliptical machine is in our laundry room with an extra TV. As I was getting ready to step on it, I saw what appeared to be standing water in a reservoir between the wall and the floor, carved out from our sump pump. Now, some days it still takes my eyes a few minutes to focus first thing in the morning since the Lasik (normal for at least another month or two), so I thought maybe I wasn't seeing clearly. But, I got closer and saw, oh yeah, that's water. Great.

Nate was in the shower by now so I went up and told him. He was still kind of waking up, so I assumed he wasn't really going to do anything about it, but later as I was drying my hair after my shower, he came up and told me that he thought that the sump pump wasn't working and possibly hadn't been for quite some time. He was going to suck the water up and then probably take it all apart after work.

The good news is after he sucked out the water, he figured out the problem - a cat toy AND a piece of plastic, likely from when it was installed, were clogging the drain, therefore, it wasn't kicking in. In fact, after hearing what it sounds like when it actually works, we think it's likely it hasn't worked at all since we've been in the house. Maybe it did in the first few months we were there as it was installed shortly before I moved in, but it hasn't for quite some time since then. But guess what, it does now! I'm pretty relieved, I wouldn't want a basement flood on our hands. We've been prone to a tiny amount of water here and there but I am guessing we won't have that problem anymore.

Just never know what each day will bring sometimes!


A guy, a girl and a train

There is still part of me that just can't let this day, March 22nd, go by without acknowledging a very important thing that happened.

A train trip. Many, many hours on a train. Flirting. Talking. Connecting.

Yes it was this day 13 years ago that Nate and I became a couple. We don't celebrate this anniversary any longer as our wedding anniversary is just over two months from now, but again, I can't let this day go by without thinking about it. Remembering. Reflecting. Feeling a wee bit nostalgic. But mostly feeling thankful and blessed.

Thankful and blessed to have had these amazing 13 years and thankful and blessed for all the years to come. There's no one else I want to share the journey of life with.


And we're off!

We started our running program again! Yesterday was a simple walk, but today we had to actually run for one minute at a time twice. And it felt pretty good! Last year on the first day we could barely make that one minute!

I'm just so glad to be moving again, I used our elliptical machine during most of the winter, but I didn't feel like I got nearly as much of a workout. And unfortunately Nate really didn't do much at all. We had planned to try and find something we could do indoors on the free/cheap, but then Nate got so sick right before Christmas and then other things came up and suddenly here we are.

Now of course, the weather has decided to take a turn back into winter it sounds like this week, so I am not sure yet how it might affect us. We do such a minimal amount right now that I hope we can just power through at this point, but we'll see how things go. If we have to start over next week we will, but one thing is for certain - we are off and running! And it feels so good!


Small Victories in a Tough Week

It has been a week.

Between work issues for me, work issues for Nate, watching the devastation in Japan, adjusting to daylights savings time and everything in between it was not the best week ever. But, in spite of all that and maybe because I have been reflecting on Japan and how things could be worse, I'm choosing to celebrate the small victories today.

Surviving. I have survived a rather challenging at times week. And I will be a better person for it. It was a good experience to have even though I was less than happy about it at times.

Appreciation. I will not ever again take for granted anything about my job. From my commute, to my supportive boss and the organized way we do things, I have a new found appreciation for all of it.

Relaxation. We had a relaxing evening yesterday and we'll get another one unexpectedly tonight and I'm not complaining. It's needed.

Return to Running. We are planning to start on Sunday still even though the weather next week is starting to not sound so good. I'm hopeful it will just be a small bump in the road if it actually does, cough, snow, cough.

So there you go. A few small victories in a less than grand week. Next week will be back to normal and much better. I'm thankful for that.


Spring Fever

Yep I am in full fledged spring fever mode now. I am loving the warmer temperatures and I see the snow melting and I'm just totally there. Bring it on.

We have decided to attempt to start up our running program this Sunday. Yes that is right in less than a week we will be getting back in shape and shaking off the winter yucks! Granted we start out pretty slow, there will be walking involved too, but I am so excited to pull my running shoes out and dust them off and burn some pent up energy. The last day we ran was November 23rd when we attempted to go in the morning once to the community center. Seems so long ago now.

Other things I look forward to about spring? Hoping to do some good yard work this year, we did so much indoor work last year that I am glad got done - but I'm looking forward to making our yard look nicer. Maybe actually do some planting. Staying on top of things like my rhubarb this year.

I am nervous about the big melt - we have been prone to getting water in some spots inside before, so I hope that does not happen. I've already been kind of on alert for that and will continue to keep my eyes out for it.

But other than that I am ready! Bring on spring!



I have sat down and tried to write something more than once over the last few days and just haven't found the words. I still don't think I have them.

This situation in Japan. How do you find words for that? I don't know if there are any. Just like there just weren't words for 9/11 and Katrina here in the US.

I know someone living in Japan right now. She went to college with me and is one of my sorority sisters. We are pretty much only in touch via Facebook and haven't really talked much outside of it in recent years, but at least have had that connection. I am following her Facebook updates regularly from near Tokyo, much more informative than anything any of our newscasters are saying I will tell you that much. I am so glad that so far she and her husband are safe.

It seems so unreal, and it's easy enough to pretend it isn't or to ignore it when you're so far removed from it. But knowing someone who is living through it and sharing it openly makes it very real and really, truly makes you think.

I'm dealing with something less than ideal this week - a work thing - and I was cranky about it and kind of down about it at first, but after Japan and some news from friends closer to home who are dealing with very big and devastating things - it seriously puts things into perspective. I have nothing to complain about. I am counting my blessings instead. Trivial things just seem insignificant right now.

And there are just no words. At least none that I feel do justice other than this:



I'm a rambling gal...rambling...rambling

Anyone know what my blog title is referencing? You get kudos if you know!

Anyhow, so, I make all these changes to my blog and then end up finding I really have little inspiration for writing these days. I don't mean that in a negative sense at all. Not many new and exciting things really in our world. We've been busy, but it's been the normal day to day busy. I did see a friend post a "random thoughts" blog post today and was encouraging others to share as well, so, heck, why not. Here's what I have today:

Remember the great hair debate I was having with myself several months back? Well, after a few months of sticking with my current stylist at her new prices, I found myself debating again. And with my new budget conscious approach to life in 2011, I have been debating even more. She doesn't cut off that much when I go in thanks to my pretty easily maintained short style. The last several times she was late for my appointment - and yes I did complain and yes she did apologize, but it's continued to be a problem and that was the straw that broke the camel's back for me. So, I did some research and found a lovely salon that is still not too far away AND is $15 cheaper. I went last night, got a great haircut and service for my money and feel like it was the right thing to do at this point in time. This is not judging any of you who gave me input back when I asked for it - but for me and my short mane, this is what is going to work for now!

Today is Ash Wednesday and so begins Lent for another year. Once again this year I'm cleaning up my language and giving up the more colorful words that I use at times for Lent. I'm not a huge potty mouth all of the time, but let's face it, I live with Nate and I love him so, SO much, but he is a bad influence, ha ha. (Totally off topic, but I'm never offended when certain words spew out of his mouth either - certain people just really get away with it well, I had an uncle that was like that too). Anyway, I'm also striving for less complaining in general - always a battle for me. Trying to reflect and center myself in these next 40 days - though I'm on a pretty even keel right now, it can always get better.

With the beginning of Lent and preparing for Easter, I know this means spring is not far off and I have hope that we're finally turning the corner in terms of our weather. It was originally supposed to snow massive amounts today and it did not. We dodged a bullet and I am so thankful!

We spring forward this weekend for Daylights Savings Time. I do not like the spring forward, my biorhythms get pretty messed up - BUT - my favorite coffee shop offers free espresso shot upgrades, so, at least that is ONE thing to look forward to!

I had another follow up appt for my eyes - everything is still looking great, my vision improved from the day after the surgery. I can back off of my drops in another two weeks or so and start rubbing my eyes again. Been a bit of a challenge not to, but I've been doing pretty good with that! I don't have to go get checked again until May and then likely not for another year after that.

I moved into a new office space at work this week. Sixth time I've moved in three years. This is the nicest space I've had yet though and likely the most permanent space I'll have for some time to come as they prepare to remodel the clinic below us. Added perk, I'm on the third floor now, which I'm sure some people would look at like it's a pain, but I look at as extra exercise I'll be getting each day. Until we can start running, I'll take what I can get!

That's about all for today! So exciting I know!


Things might get a little musical

Summer is still months away (and seems even further away looking out at the fresh snowfall today - I choose to live here though, sigh) but it's shaping up to be a musical one!

We will be going to Rock the Garden as we always do - no matter the lineup, it's a "can't miss" event for us! The lineup will be announced in April, I can't wait to find out who is coming! The event will be June 18th this year.

Then we got tickets for July 3rd to see the Black Keys and Cage the Elephant (fun group names, no?) with some friends. Both groups are of the indie/rock/alternative type genre. I have heard a couple of Black Keys songs used in a couple of the TV shows we watch.

And then not even a week later on July 8th my mom and I are going to see Josh Groban at the Target Center. I'm geeking out with excitement over this one. He's got such an amazing voice and he's not bad to look at either. And I am not even paying anything to go and neither is my mom - thanks to some unused Ticketmaster gift cards that my parents haven't managed to use for anything else yet!

So, to quote Phoebe from Friends, this summer, "things might get a little musical" and in fact, they are guaranteed to!

Now if it only seemed less far away....


Simple Things Bringing Me Joy

A friend of mine does a post every now and then on her blog called Simple Things Bringing Me Joy - she did so again and asked folks to join in and I decided, why not, a mood booster is a good thing sometimes!

So here are the simple things bringing me joy today:

1. The changes to my blog. You've probably noticed I now have a new header in addition to the font changes and signature. If you do Google Reader to read my blog, stop by the actual blog site and check it out. I'm pretty proud of what I've done and I think I've spruced things up quite a bit.

2. Nate's amazing cooking abilities. He experimented with a new white sauce styled pizza last night and let me tell you, the results were amazing. I benefit so much from his willingness to step outside of the box in the kitchen!

3. The predicted high of 40 degrees today. Even though I hear a return to winter is imminent, it gives me hope that spring can't be terribly far off at this point. It's out there somewhere!

4. My eyes - yes this will be on my happy lists for awhile to come - I am still so amazed at how well the surgery went and how something can so amazingly change my vision.

5. Coffee. Can't start my day without it!

There you go. What simple things are bringing you JOY today?