The great MN get together

Yesterday we spent the day at the Minnesota State Fair. We found out kind of last minute on Friday that Nate had yesterday approved off, but I am so thankful that he actually did get the day. The Fair has always been something special the two of us do every year and has been a tradition from the first year we were dating and we haven't missed one yet. I was laughing with him yesterday in fact that I think I have now been to the Fair more times than either of my parents ever have. It's just never been something that they were into much and there's nothing wrong with that. I know plenty of people who are just not into the Fair. But for Nate and I, it's just something we can't miss each year.

We have kind of a pattern of how we like to do things at the Fair and have just figured out what works best for us. We eat plenty, but actually, that isn't even the biggest part of the whole shebang for us anymore. We like seeing different things and people watching too.

Yesterday was no different. We got going nice and early and it was a good thing too since our usual favorite park and ride spot was all full up and we had to find a different one! I was panicked at first, but we found a good lot just a little further away. It took just a few extra minutes to get to the Fairgrounds, but it ended up working out pretty well.

Once on grounds we sought out some coffee for me and started with our favorite breakfast crepe from the French Crepe place and then kind of planned out our day. We visited Heritage Square where Nate bought a new wallet, we visited the sheep, chickens and roosters, we stopped by the MPR booth, we tried out some of the new craft beer that is available this year at the Fair and then we hit up some of our favorite things like the Skyride and the Art building. Of course we had cheese curds, can't come to the Fair and not have cheese curds!

It did rain a bit, but I think it kept the crowds down and it was quite enjoyable in that respect! We were gone by 3:00 and went home and pretty much crashed! All in all it was a great day. Below are a few picture highlights.

Crazy rooster - you think you had a bad hair day?

Our craft beer flight

I'm drinking before noon! (It was 11:55)

Nate with one of our beers


Monday smiles

I love weekends like this last weekend. Well, specifically days like yesterday. That's not to say Saturday was bad, but there were a couple of hiccups that made it not super great. Yesterday was awesome and very much needed.

Nate and I just haven't had much time for just "us" lately, not to complain about things we've been doing, but we do need that "couple" time to connect. Fortunately we had Mass on Saturday, so we didn't have to do anything yesterday morning. So we slept in and made a nice breakfast for the first time in weeks. I love lazy Sunday mornings with my hubby. He made delicious pancakes and we totally just chilled and enjoyed them.

After that we headed over to the homebrew store to get the next kit we want to brew. This one will be a little bit of a squeeze to get done in time for Oktoberfest but we'll give it our best shot. It's a "Peak Smoked Porter". We've made it before but it's been a couple of years actually. It'll be a great fall/winter beer.

Later in the afternoon we went over to Nate's grandparents for a picnic since his aunt, uncle and cousin were in town. It was very relaxed and we had a nice visit with everyone. We just snacked at the picnic because we hadn't gone out on Saturday night so we wanted to go out for a little dinner just us last night instead.

After the picnic we came home and spent about 45 minutes cleaning out under our basement stairs and re-organizing all of the homebrew stuff we have and it's SO much nicer. We also have a nice place to store some of the craft beer we've been buying periodically so we don't have to put as much in the fridge at one time. I love what we have done down there, it looks great. We ended up with several bags of garbage too and there is just something so refreshing about throwing things out sometimes! We're still planning on getting a dumpster yet this fall too, but I'm glad we threw out some stuff now.

Then we had dinner at Acapulco as I was really in the mood for a margarita. Came back home and watched a little TV and then went to bed.

It was just a nice day to be together and sometimes we just need that.

Looking ahead I have made the happy discovery of three short work weeks in a row because of upcoming activities that we're taking time for and also because of Labor Day next weekend.

So even though it's Monday, I'm smiling.


Fabulous Friday - 8/26/11

I'm renaming "Favorite Friday" to "Fabulous Friday" since it is all about things I'm finding fabulous at week's end. And then I can be a little more broad with it! So here is what I'm finding fabulous today!

1. Grilled Shrimp and Scallops - Nate treated us to home grilled shrimp and scallops the other night and OMG, there are no words. It was soooooo delicious. I love that he is so willing to take risks and we get so much use out of our grill each summer, it's fantastic.

2. Wilfred - Another dumb show we've gotten hooked on, this one is currently airing on FX and it's extremely off the wall...but it's a quick half hour of something funny when you need something absolutely mindless. Who doesn't love Elijah Wood too? Come on, he's just as cute now as he was in Lord of the Rings.

3. Completing a 5K - We didn't manage to run the entire thing as I kind of predicted, but we still finished the entire 5K and our time wasn't horrible, around 47 minutes. I have no complaints. I know what I'm working towards and I am looking forward to trying another one, maybe the Turkey Day one even. We shall see!

4. The State Fair - yes I had said we might have to miss it, but things have worked out and we get to go after all! We'll be going on Tuesday and I'm beyond excited!!

5. Stella and Dot - I mentioned earlier this week that I fell in love with the new fall line from Stella and Dot at Ali's party last weekend and now I'll be having my own party in September. Hoping for some pretty new things to "gift myself" for my birthday in November. They have the world's fastest shipping too - the things I ordered at Ali's party showed up by Wednesday of this week so I was able to enjoy them already!

Happy weekend! Hope you're all finding fabulous things this Friday too!



The rescheduled Torchlight 5K is tonight. Thank goodness it is nice and comfortable outside with low humidity today!

It'll be interesting to see how this goes. We have "re-started" our walk to run program from the beginning, attempting to run at a faster speed during our running segments. Due to this, we are kind of back to the shorter running "segments" and haven't been out on a long run for kind of awhile now.

I'm not being negative and saying we're not going to be able to run any of the race tonight, but if we end up walking some (or most) of it, I won't be disappointed. My ultimate goal is to still run an entire 5k at some point, but that will be after we've done some more training!

I do feel like we took a little step backwards in the whole running thing, but the ultimate goal is improvement and sometimes you have to take little baby steps to get to the top. And I'm still proud of what we achieved earlier this summer! I'm looking ahead to winter and hoping we can find a better way to stay active (as long as we both stay healthy and don't have any early setbacks). I really want to figure something out anyway. It's never too early to look ahead. I'm hoping the "S" word holds off a bit longer this year too so we can take advantage of outdoor workouts a bit longer!

I'm off track now. Back to tonight, I'm looking forward to a nice lovely evening in Minneapolis, I'm so thankful the weather is better today and I think it'll be a good experience to just get a taste of a 5k if nothing else. Here goes nothing!


A clearer view

Life. It ebbs and flows. Sometimes it doesn't flow as much as we'd like, but we forge on.

Some days have been a struggle as of late. Nate's been beyond crazed at work - which is good job security - but it makes for challenges at home sometimes and making sacrifices at times. An example, due to some big things going on at his work (i.e. not able to take time off right now) and our weekends being kind of full both this weekend and next - we might miss the State Fair for the first time ever in 13 years of being together. I'm trying not to dwell on it and things may still work out. I try to put it all in perspective when I remember that only 3 years ago at this time of year we were just praying he would get a job. So it could be worse.

Other things, piddly things really, have been weighing on my mind off and on lately as well and I'll admit, it's been clouding my view of the world lately. I just haven't been 100% myself. It happens.

Then last night, Nate and I went out and did an activity I never dreamed in a million years I ever would do. I had a great deal of anxiety about it ahead of time too but I DID IT. I overcame a huge fear in my life that has plagued me from my childhood. And there is something that is just so hugely euphoric about that, all of the things that have been bugging me have kind of become nothing more than "thing-lets".

I have a clearer view again and it's a sunnier outlook. I'll take it.


Didn't I say "relax"?

Well, for someone who planned on having a mostly relaxing weekend it didn't totally work out that way, but it wasn't too bad. We still were able to do stuff on our own timetable for a change and we still managed to get a little relaxing time and "us" time in as well.

Friday was pretty much just a relaxing evening, we had dinner with my parents, came home and watched a movie and went to bed actually pretty early for a Friday, but it was so needed.

Saturday we slept in and that felt good too! I had a later than usual coffee date with my parents and while I was gone Nate put some beer we brewed two weeks ago into what is called a "secondary" fermentation (helps with the clarity of the beer).

After I got home from coffee, I went to Ali's Stella and Dot garden party. It was a lot of fun, it was such a beautiful day to be outside and she had lovely refreshments. I also fell in love with the Fall catalog and even though I have sworn off hosting parties this year...I booked one. Yes I am weak, but I figured, this way Nate won't kill me for spending too much money on this stuff. It'll be in September, with brunch, because who doesn't love brunch. I apologize in advance to my friends who are maybe sick of getting invites to these things! I'll admit to being a little selfish this time, but hey, it's kind of an early birthday present to myself. (Gonna do 30 up big you know).

I came home from the garden party and Nate was mowing the lawn - he did the entire yard, which may not seem like a huge deal, but he did it with the push mower because the riding mower still needs an oil change. And to those who don't know - our yard is BIG. Crazy big. It's tough to push mow the whole thing in one go, so I was impressed. Usually he does it in chunks over a couple of days.

So, to reward him for his hard work and just because we haven't really indulged ourselves in awhile, after we stopped by an art opening for Jes, we took ourselves out to dinner at Erte in NE Minneapolis. Expensive, yes. But worth it. Best steak ever. Tasty wine. Awesome service. By the time we were done eating we were pretty much in a food coma, combined with our very full day of activities, so we came home and played a short game before just crashing with a mindless movie.

And then Sunday was another Brew Day! Hurray! We are thinking ahead to Oktoberfest as I've mentioned before and even though we're having it a little later into October this year, we have to get the beer going now or it won't be ready in time. So yesterday's brew was an American Pale Ale, similar to Surly Furious. We made this one last year and it was gone super fast. It is one of my favorite beers we have brewed and I'm excited to have it again. While we were brewing, we were goofing around online and decided to make a Facebook page for our homebrew. Figured why not, it'll help keep our friends and family up to date on the latest! You can find it here: Pants Monkey Brewing Co.

Once the brew was done we were again completely wiped out, so we went the simple route for dinner, grabbed some Chinese take out and totally crashed.

We've got a slightly busier week on tap this week and next weekend is going to be a tad bit busier as well, Nate's aunt will be in town among other things. It will be good to see her though as we missed her the last time she was here.

On we go!!


Friday Favorites 8/19/11

Hello! Today is a great day. It really is so far. It's Friday, I survived a less than great at times week, and things are looking up for our weekend now so that makes me happy!

Here are some things I'm finding fabulous this week:

1. Redbook magazine - I don't know if this is a sign of getting older or what, but I have found this natural progression in what kind of magazines I like to read. When I was young it was YM or Teen (do they even make those anymore?) or Seventeen. Approaching my twenties I got into Cosmo and Glamour. And now, I still like Glamour a bit, but I ended up with a free copy of Redbook from the clinic recently and kind of tossed it aside thinking of it as my "mom's" kind of magazine. But one day at home I was bored so I picked it up and I realized...I like this magazine. I would rather read this than read the "trashyness" of Cosmo. No offense to anyone who still likes that one of course. I just find that for where I'm at in my life the articles in Redbook kind of make sense. I am almost 30 after all and I'm slowly coming to terms with it and I guess my reading material is a sign of that fact!

2. Barley Johns Brewpub - so last night we were going to have stir fry at home, but then I saw on the Facebook page for Barley Johns, a brewpub that is not far from our house, that they were going to have a new Belgium Single on tap starting yesterday. I mentioned this to Nate and he said, we could go there for dinner instead. He got a gift certificate to there for helping someone with their computer, so we thought, heck, let's treat ourselves! I just love Barley Johns, the food is good, the beer is outstanding, they have a wonderful patio and it has that Cheers "everybody knows your name" atmosphere. We had a great dinner and a couple of beers while sitting out and enjoying a very nice evening. Perfection.

3. Muppets: The Green Album - this new CD doesn't come out until Tuesday, but I was able to preview it online this week and I am in love. It's an awesome CD of covers of famous Muppet songs done by some really awesome artists, many of whom are frequent artists played on my radio station of choice, 89.3 The Current. It's part of what I think will be a lot of publicity leading up to the new movie in November. At any rate, I just love some of these covers, especially Amy Lee's treatment of the song "Halfway Down the Stairs" and Rachael Yamagata doing "I'm Going to Go Back There Someday" from the Muppet Movie - it's almost tear jerking. I will be purchasing this on Tuesday, just can't go wrong, Muppets and indie artists. Awesome.

4. A Good Night's Sleep - funny how much we take this for granted, eh? But seriously, the last few nights Nate and I have been really making an effort to get to bed at a reasonable time and have managed a couple of nights now where we've gotten a full eight hours and I tell you, it feels SO good. We are both feeling better in general as I think we've both been pretty rundown since coming back from St. Louis.

5. Sweet Corn - Jes was kind enough to give us some sweet corn that she had gotten in her CSA share that she has with her aunt, her aunt was out of town and since Jes really can't have the corn, thought we'd like it and left it on my deck last week. We finally got around to grilling it on Wednesday and it was probably some of the best corn we've had so far this year. I love grilled corn. Love, love, love it. I think I'll be hitting up Bob's Produce or something along those lines to get some more now that it should be really in season!

There you have it folks! What are you finding fabulous today? Have a great weekend!


Get this block out of my head

Boy I haven't been posting much this week have I?

Two reasons I guess -

1. I have writer's block
2. It has been one of those weeks.

It happens. It's frustrating, but it happens. We deal and we move on.

I am working on my Friday Favorites for tomorrow, so I at least have that post coming!

I hope to get my "blogging groove back" one of these days! Stay tuned!


Monday musings

Well, I have to say, this is one of those Mondays that feels like a break after the busy weekend we just had! I'm not much for coherent thought today, so you're just getting a quick bulleted style post.

- Today I'm launching my new "pages" that you'll see across the top of my blog. They include an "about me" page, a page about some of my closest "peeps" that you see making appearances on my blog and a page about Praise Project. I plan to add a couple more soon - a book list and a list of links I find interesting will probably round out the pages feature on my blog. Just something fun I thought I'd try and hopefully it will help any new visitors get to know me better and maybe even stick around a bit.

-As I mentioned, our weekend was crazy busy. Friday night was the only "relaxing" we were able to do for the most part. Saturday we drove out to Eau Claire for a family reunion for Nate's family, specifically his Grandma Dolly's side of the family. We had a pretty good time, I even scored a new table for my living room in the silent auction they had.

The five of us Kondricks in our Draus/Drause reunion t-shirts (picture kind of stolen from the Draus reunion Facebook page.)

-We had to rush back on Saturday for a mass for Praise Project - we had all three masses at St. William's this weekend. Very fulfilling as always to sing with our group, but man, was my voice tired by the end of the whole thing!!

-After church on Sunday, we decided we just had to have a homemade pie. We shopped for ingredients and in a nice team effort, put together a fantastic peach pie. I am not one to toot my own horn, but it's amazing. So freaking tasty.

BEST Peach pie EVER

-And that brings us to today and as I said, it feels like a break compared to yesterday. Overall this week is looking calmer and next weekend we are more or less wide open and I intend to keep it that way. We are both in need of some major chill time and some "just us" time. This is of no offense to any of our friends and family, but at the moment, I'm really looking forward to a date night with just my hubby. Maybe some beer brewing time. We'll see where things go!

Happy Monday!!


Friday Faves

Slowly working on some more changes to the ole blog here - I have recently discovered "pages" and how those work so I'll be working on those a bit and you might notice them.

Today I'm starting a new theme post. I enjoy reading other blogs I find out on the Internet and I saw this one and loved the idea - Friday Faves. I will bring you a list of what I am finding awesome each Friday. I'm going to try for awhile anyway! I have never met the gal who I credit with coming up with this - but I wanted to give a shoutout to her anyway - Thanks for an awesome idea Katie!

So what am I finding fabulous this Friday?

1. Nate's spaghetti. I love that my husband is so willing to experiment and try out different things in the kitchen. He has perfected spaghetti sauce - sometimes it varies a little bit, but for the most part it's an awesome flavorful sauce each time. We haven't had it for awhile because when it's hot outside, the last thing I want is Italian food, but it finally cooled down so last night we finally had some again. And it was delicious.

2. Schafly Beer. We discovered this beer in St. Louis. Obviously we went on the Budweiser tour and what not, but we're not Budweiser drinkers, we prefer craft beer. So we went off the beaten path a bit and looked for a liquor store hoping to find some craft beer unique to St. Louis. Enter Schafly. We got a sampler pack to take home and so far I've been very impressed. I haven't looked yet, but I don't think we can get this beer up here. Might have to have our relatives down there ship us some, ha ha.

3. Covert Affairs. We just got hooked on this USA show that is in it's second season already. We managed to obtain all of season one and have been working our way through it. There does seem to be a large number of Spy type shows on the air right now - but I like this one because the main character is a woman. And she's quirky (like the main character on most USA shows is) and easy to relate to. I have really been enjoying this show.

4. Goodreads. I'd like to thank Jes for introducing me to this website - it has really helped me get back into reading and has been a useful tool for keeping track of what books I've read or want to read. If you've never checked it out, it's worth a look - it's kind of like Netflix for books, although you aren't getting any in the mail or anything. But you can rate books and make lists of books you want to read. Pretty neat tool!

5. Garnier Fructus Pure Clean Styling Wax. When you have hair as short as mine, you need a good product to use for styling. I was thrilled to discover that this stuff uses natural ingredients, actually works really well on my hair AND has a nice low price tag, easily purchased at Target or the drugstore. Who said you have to pay for beauty?

There you have it! What are you finding to be fabulous this week? Happy weekend!


Bleeding love

Yesterday we had a blood drive at work.

I was "volunteered" to be the person checking people in. It wasn't a half bad job other than the fact that it was extremely windy outside and I had to sit outside the bus to check people in. Certainly made it challenging!

Anyway, as I sat there while people were coming and going, my mind started to wander a bit and I thought about how I wished that I could be one of the people going into that bus and stepping up to the plate to donate blood.

Yeah, I know, you're all going, so stop complaining, put your big girl pants on and do it.

The thing is - I'm not afraid of needles that much (although I've said before, does anyone ever say "boy I just can't wait to get a shot!). I'm afraid of passing out. I've come close, too close to having that happen before during blood draws and I didn't care for the feeling.

I have deep, deep set veins. Inherited from my dear Daddy. He has the same problems that I do and he also does not ever donate blood. Nurses struggle with both of us. Nurses who say "I've never missed a vein" end up hanging their heads in shame around us. I've been both apologized to and nearly yelled at in the lab before. I've had three times now where they've used the vein in the top of my hand - hey guess what? That HURTS.

It's not for lack of trying on my part! I drink tons of water before a blood draw. I try to beef up my iron supply. I flex my muscles hoping my veins will pop up a bit. Nope. No good. The result is the same every time - and the more the nurses fish around trying to make something work, the more woozy I get. It's to the point where I ask to lay down and also, to be allowed to sit for as long as I need and eat a granola bar or something after the fact.

I don't like feeling vulnerable like that. You can see why I don't choose to voluntarily go and let someone try to take my blood! I don't like the guilty feeling from such a decision but it doesn't usually get to me - until days like yesterday when I see all these awesome people stepping up and being treated nearly like royalty for the wonderful thing they are doing and feeling like just once I want to try.

But, I am a chicken. One day. Someday. I will be a hero too. There has to be some nurse somewhere who can do it. I have had one or two good ones in the last 15 or so years - so I know they're out there somewhere!


A beer day

We finally brewed some beer over the weekend. I swear, this summer has just been...I don't even know if I have the right words to describe it. We've been busy, but we have had downtime too. The problem is, we like to brew out on the deck as much as we can, and when we've had downtime, the weather has sucked this year.

So we haven't been brewing much beer. And we've still been drinking the beer we have. Which leads to a problem - the bar is getting empty. And even though it's still a couple of months away, I'm already in planning mode for Oktoberfest - which has made me realize, we need to get some beer going if we are going to actually have some in stock by that time!

So, yesterday finally worked out to be a good day to brew and we now have a German Alt beer sitting in fermentation. Then Nate bought another Surly Furious clone kit, we made that one last year and it disappeared pretty quickly, so we're excited to have that one again. We may attempt a third somewhere in there too, we'll have to see.

It almost makes me sad that it feels like a chore to brew beer - I want it to be a fun hobby for us. But again, this summer overall has felt...odd for a lack of better words I guess. I feel overwhelmed and then I feel bored. Still working on that balance thing I guess. We'll get there.


Flashback Friday - Pippin

I was cleaning up one of my SIM cards this week and came across this picture of Nate with Pippin that was taken in 2008 shortly after we adopted her.

She was so tiny! Wanna see my cat now?

Hard to believe she was as small as she was then! There's a reason we call her our "BIG girl". But we love her, every single furry ounce.


And here's August!

So. We're back. And we're back into the swing of things. I think I have finally caught my breath from being gone anyway!

At first glance, I thought August would be a little calmer - and at some points it is - but looking ahead I see some Praise Project gigs, a family reunion, a few outings that should be fun, the rescheduled Torchlight 5K and the State Fair all on the calendar right now. Again, it should all be fun, but at the same time I'm like, when do we breathe again?

My goal for the rest of the summer is to just honestly take each day one day at a time. Because really, as full as the calendar sounds, there is quite a bit of downtime, especially during the week. We will just need to use those evenings to relax when we can. But, we have some work I want to do too.

We are looking into possibly getting a dumpster to work on cleaning out the garage and the backyard a bit more. We have boxes that need to be thrown, pieces of the doors we've replaced, fencing material, large chunks of concrete...

You're wondering what the concrete is from? Let me tell you! I am beyond thrilled to announce I am the proud owner of a new laundry room washtub! Oh yes my friends, I am thrilled about something silly like a washtub. My life is so sad sometimes isn't it? Ha. But seriously, we had this nasty old concrete washtub. And it would hold water forever and make my basement smell musty and the pipes leaked and it was awful. Enter the awesome person that is known as my dad. He found us a sweet new plastic washtub back in May. And even better? He installed it while we were out of town!!! What a guy!!! (Thanks to big brother Dave for his help too).

So, we now have a large broken up concrete sink that needs to be thrown out and due to it's weight, really can't be thrown out all at once. We could do it a piece or two at a time, we could take it somewhere to dump it or, if we get a dumpster, we can just chuck it all in there! Since I missed the process of breaking it up with a sledgehammer, I think I'd get great joy in chucking the pieces into a dumpster!

We'll see how things go and where August takes us. I am going to try to enjoy the fun things coming up but also make sure I take enough time for myself so I don't feel overwhelmed again like I did before we left town. It's all about balance And hey, let's get some more good weather days like today, huh?


St. Louis recap

We had a really nice time down in St. Louis (see previous post for some pictures). I am very glad we had a chance to go down and spend time with the relatives there that we just don't get to see because of the miles that separate us!

I could thousands of words about the entire trip, but instead will just recap it this way:

We visited the Arch, the Budweiser Brewery and a winery called Mount Pleasant in Augusta. We also took a mini road trip out to Illinois to go boating and hang out on a beach there. We also got to go to a Cardinals game one evening. And we celebrated two graduations and a birthday while we were there. Overall, a good time had by all, even though it was more or less in the upper 90's and even into the 100's the whole time we were there!

There were also moments that led to us joking by the end of the week that it was "Murphy's Law" vacation at times too. Out of respect for my family I won't divulge much on that, but let me just say that each of the five of us MN peeps had one not so pleasant experience while on the trip. I totally believe we'll look back and laugh later though!

I'm glad to be home at any rate and looking forward to the rest of the summer being a little bit calmer. I'm still not loving summer any longer and definitely am ready for Fall and am not minding that the calendar says "August 1st" today, because that means we're inching closer to my favorite season of all time!