12/31/12

2012 in review

Even if I don't blog here as frequently anymore, I still had to pop in and do my annual year in review.

It started out looking like 2012 was going to be a repeat of 2011.  Nate was still stressed at work, we lost his grandpa, we lost my family cat, it was just feeling like every day was kind of blah.  But then somewhere around late March/early April things turned around and started improving.  We ended up having one of the best summers we've had in quite some time, even with extreme heat.  Fall was wonderful and we had a good holiday season as well.  So, in the end, looking back at 2012 I feel pretty good. 

A specific recap -

January - I started homemade cupcake baking, we discovered the world's best barbecue place (at least we feel like it's the world's best), we did our first Living Social adventure taking a Glassblowing class in NE Minneapolis and I finally had a chance to meet some of the other local MN fashion bloggers at an event.

February - We attended our second Winterfest event, but that weekend turned sour when we lost Nate's grandpa Pete after a brief illness.  We said our goodbyes to him.  We celebrated Valentine's Day at a new to us restaurant and discovered a whole new style of Italian cuisine.  I continued experimenting with cupcake baking.  We bought a pretty new pantry for our extended kitchen area from Ikea and managed to rearrange and reorganize. 

March - We attended the Russian church 40 day traditional service for Nate's grandpa. Nate made his very first batch of Russian Sausage and started smoking various types of meats in his brand new meat smoker.  I made delicious Irish carbomb cupcakes for St. Patrick's Day.  My family said goodbye to Cleo.  We did something out of the ordinary for us and went to a late night showing of the Hunger Games.  We finished out the month staying at a fantastic bed and breakfast in Duluth for a little time away together.

April - We celebrated Easter, my mom's birthday and Russian Easter.  We made more Russian Sausage and the Russian traditional food known as hrutka - an egg cheese.  My work began a large construction project in my building.  We started gearing up for the upcoming golf season and bought new bags for our clubs and registered for lessons.

May - We took golf lessons to work on our skills and spent a lot of time at the driving range.  Nate continued experimenting with his meat smoker and we enjoyed many delicious things.  We celebrated Mother's Day with both sides of our family.  We started enjoying eating outside as the weather was definitely nice enough most of the month.  We celebrated six years of marriage with a date at a movie and out to the same restaurant where we celebrated Valentine's Day.

June - We continued working on our newly learned golf skills and got out on the course once or twice.  We decided to pass on this year's Rock the Garden when the weather was threatening to be as bad as last year's.  My fashion blog celebrated one year of existence.  I started working on my spiritual life with She Reads Truth.  We enjoyed the nice weather whenever possible by eating outside.

July - I had a little mini break at the beginning of the month and enjoyed a beach day on one of the hottest days of the summer.  We celebrated the 4th of July with family and Praise Project friends on the absolute hottest day of the summer.  Despite the heat we continued trying to get out to a patio at least once a week.  Nate started brewing beer again to gear up for Oktoberfest and took an all grain brewing class and from there on out brewed strictly all grain beer.  We finally got to do a Surly brewing tour. 

August - We went to Itasca!  We had a wonderful few days up there with Nate's family and could not have asked for better weather.  We made more beer for October.  We went on another Living Social adventure to the Leinenkugel brewery in Chippewa Falls and also got to go tubing down the Chippewa River.  We finished out the month going on our annual trek to the State Fair.

September - Continued enjoying the nice weather as much as possible.  Started getting the house ready for Oktoberfest.  Started staining and sealing our deck.  Attended a fun Living Social boat ride on Lake Minnetonka and visited the Excelsior Brewery.  Also finally got to check out the new Indeed Brewery in NE Mpls.  Started catching all of our favorite shows as they were back on the air.  My work completed it's construction project and we opened the brand new clinic on the 2nd floor.  We spent our annual weekend at Marie's cabin with Praise Project.

October - Oktoberfest!  Need I say more?  But seriously, it was a great Oktoberfest.  We also did an Oktoberfest boat ride down the Mississippi River on the last nice night of Fall.  We went and visited some wineries in the western suburbs.  We opted to not do a darn thing for Halloween and that was ok.

November - I flew solo at work for a bit while my boss had knee surgery.  Work was a little busier for Nate and we were also a little busier with Praise Project so we didn't have much time for adventuring.  We did have a fun Sunday date at the movies and saw Argo.  We celebrated Thanksgiving with Nate's family as always and then celebrated our birthdays.  We treated ourselves to a renewed Science Museum membership as a birthday gift to ourselves.

December - My dad treated us to a fabulous dinner for his birthday at Erte (I know he treated for HIS birthday).  We decked the house all out for Christmas. Nate finally got me back to the gun range - a mere several days before the tragedy in Connecticut.  I still haven't been able to write my thoughts on that and I'm not sure if I will.  Did loads of Christmas shopping - including some last minute scrambling for Nate's gift after Living Social let me down and cancelled the gift I had bought him.  We celebrated Christmas with both sides of the family and had a wonderful time with both.  We went on a mini-adventure this weekend to the Como Zoo, to get my ring cleaned at Arthur's and then over to Cossettas in St. Paul to see their new space.

And that brings us to today.  There are many other things I didn't mention in the recap - such as Nate losing weight, I don't like calling attention to it because it was very personal for him, but I am so proud of him for doing it.  He has made a lifestyle change that he's been able to stick with and he's come so far.

There were plenty of ups and downs, but all in all, it was a great year.  I had so many moments that were just so amazing in that particular moment and I look back on them and smile.

I don't make resolutions and I don't set out with expectations anymore at the beginning of a year - not because I'm pessimistic, but because it helps me better take each day as it comes.  And it feels good living life like that. 

When we got back from our adventure the other day, I told Nate "I really love our life right now" and he said "I love our life right now too."  I can't ask for more than that.

Happy New Year to you and yours!!

12/20/12

Christmas Check In

Gifts: All bought

Wrapping: Not done yet

Movies watched: Home Alone, Christmas Eve on Sesame Street, Muppet Family Christmas, Garfield's Christmas

Movies/specials to watch this weekend: Elf, Muppets Letters from Santa and most importantly Charlie Brown.  If time, White Christmas or the Santa Clause

Parties attended: 2

Cookies baked: Gingersnaps, Thumbprint Cookies, Cream Wafers (my mom did the rest on her own)

Cookies to bake: More Gingersnaps.  Nate loves them.

Holiday drinks we've tried: Indeed Brewing Old Friend, World Market Holiday Blend coffee

Holiday drink still to try: Sam Adams Gingerbread Stout (currently sitting in my fridge at home)

New Favorite holiday music: Holidays Rule CD and almost everything Sufjan Stevens has done.

Where we will be Christmas Eve: Brunch for the two of us at Hell's Kitchen in the morning and then dinner and presents with Nate's family

Where we will be Christmas Day: Church in the morning, my parents house for presents, then my aunt's house for dinner.

What I'm most excited about: After tomorrow I don't work again until January 2nd!!!


12/6/12

Currently...

Currently...

Listening to: Sufjan Stevens - Songs for Christmas Singalong

Drinking: A bottle of water

Thinking about: Christmas gifts I need to buy

Wishing: I could go on a warm vacation somewhere

Eating: Nothing at the moment, but I had a turkey wrap for lunch.

Reading: Divergent by Veronica Roth (not like this second, but it's my current book)

Waiting for: Snow (yes I said it)

Wondering: What Nate will get me for Christmas

That about catches us up.

I probably won't blog here again until my end of the year recap I'm sure.  Might be time to retire this one.  I'm not sure yet.


11/19/12

Thankful Monday

So I skipped my Thankful Thursday post last week.

Truth be told, I had a tough week and I was not feeling terribly thankful.  And while I could list things I was thankful for, I didn't want to sound like a broken record and list the same old things.  So I just said, I'm not going to do a post when it feels almost forced and repetitive.

Today the whole mess of ick from last week is done, over and buried.  What happened does not matter at this point, what matters is I'm feeling better.

So today I'm being thankful for a fresh start, for clarity, for understanding.  I'm thankful for the busy week to come in family celebrations.  I'm thankful for the rainbow I saw as I drove into work this morning.  I'm thankful for my birthday coming up and being able to celebrate another year of life.

I'm just overall THANKFUL.  And that's plenty enough I think.

11/8/12

Thankful Thursday, Week 2

It hasn't been the greatest week. Between election grumbling, Nate working a lot of long, tedious hours  this week and my own work week being kind of up and down I wasn't even sure I was in the mood to come here and do a Thankful Thursday post today.  But then I realized, no, this is exactly why I should do a Thankful Thursday post, I need a dose of gratitude.  I may steal a little of my friend Samara's blog and take a different approach to this week's Thankful Thursday too.

For example - there was a lot of election grumbling this week, but no matter the outcome, and even with the ugliness, I'm thankful to live in a country that allows freedom of speech and gives the people a say.

Nate worked a lot of long tedious hours this week - but I'm thankful he has a job.

My work week was crazy and frazzling at times - but I'm thankful I have a job.

The sunshine gave me a bit of a headache this afternoon - but I'm thankful the sun has come out to brighten things up, especially now that the hours of daylight are shorter.

I'm not super excited to have a bit of a busy Saturday on tap between singing at a wedding and doing a gig at a less than ideal place with Praise Project - but I'm thankful for the extra money from the wedding and I'm thankful for time with my second family that I love dearly and that we can face the challenge of the less than idea place together.

Facebook led to some of the above mentioned grumbling and makes me wonder why I bother with it sometimes - but I'm thankful for a way to stay connected with friends around the world, including a sorority sister who welcomed a baby girl this morning in New Zealand.

So there you go.  There were things that made me mildly cranky at times this week, but I'm just keeping it all in perspective - it could always be worse, I still know people on the East Coast who do not have power.  So I'm thankful for where I am at today, even in the yuck.


11/1/12

Thankful Thursday, Week 1

After a very grumbly post in my last post, I'm changing it up and offering a positive post instead.  Now that it's November (!) I thought I'd bring back my Thankful Thursday theme.  It's always good to stop and reflect on what we have.

So this week I am thankful for:

~My kitties

~Friends

~Wine

~The election is almost over

~We've had good weather this Fall

~Jobs and a roof over our head

~Chocolate

~Coffee

Simple list, but seriously, things I probably take for granted and shouldn't.

10/30/12

Tuesday truths

Fact - I have no right to grumble given the stuff the folks are dealing with on the East Coast, but I'm gonna do it anyway because I can.  It's my blog and I'll write what I want to.

Fact - I really, really stink at word games.  I cannot win a game of Words with Friends or Scrabble to save my life.  I guess I have been out of school wayyyy too long now.

Fact - I ordered something from an online company that was doing a "surprise sale"  You paid one price, gave your size, they send you something they want to basically get rid of.  I received the most adorable dress.  It does not fit.  Not even close.  Normally you can return stuff, but not on this sale.  Sad panda.

Fact - I'm super disappointed in myself, some already know, I have lost the battle I fought very publicly on this very blog of no longer picking my fingers.  Yeah.  We're not going to say HOW long ago I fell off the wagon, but I'm making a new resolve to quit this really gross and bad habit.  I have already bought myself the reward present - trying some reverse psychology with it, as long as I'm "clean" I can have the reward, if Nate catches me though, he gets to take it away (it may be something I am addicted to that rhymes with murse).  And once again, I'm making this public to hold myself accountable.  My goal is a manicure for Christmas.

Fact - Contrary to all the things I have said I have bought recently, I'm on another shopping ban.  Though I'm going a jewelry party tonight, anything I buy is going on the shelf and I can have it for my birthday as an "after the ban" treat.  Otherwise I'm totally on a clothing shopping ban.  This time it's not so much a budgetary thing, it's more because my birthday is in less than a month and I just don't need to buy myself more clothes right now.

Fact - My workdays are super long right now while my boss is on a medical leave.  Though I am betting by the time she comes back I'll be so used to this, I'll not enjoy it so much when she is back.

Fact - One of my favorite shows (Community) finally announced it's return date as it had been postponed indefinitely   I'm glad it's finally coming back, but I have to wait until February.  February?  Seriously?  Wow.

Fact - I'm really not as cranky as this list would have you believe today, but just needed to get that all off my chest.  There you go.

10/22/12

Life lately-

And yet again I have been neglecting this blog.  I want to work on changing that.  I love my fashion blog and the community of friends I have found there, but sometimes I need to come back to my simple little blog here.  I'm actually contemplating NaBloPoMo for November for this blog just because I miss writing, I think I need to get back into it more.  Creative writing, day to day writing, just writing.  My fashion blog is easy, if I don't have a witty story to share I just talk about my clothes that day.  So, I feel like I'm losing my writing skills and I just don't want that to happen.

We've been having a very busy Fall - seems to be the norm though.  I don't remember a Fall since we've been married that hasn't been full of stuff.  Oktoberfest was amazing, I am again just bowled over by how blessed we are to have so many wonderful family and friends who come out to spend an evening with us.  I am also so pleased to have so many different walks of people in the house at once who can put differences aside and mingle with one another.  I think I have an exceptional appreciation right now because of what an ugly election year this has been - both sides are just really getting bad with the negativity, so I just appreciate that I could have a house full of people of different ages, religious backgrounds, political parties, etc, and all more or less co-exist with no problems.

But of course, the highlight of the evening was the beer - again I am beyond proud of Nate and the things he has done with this little hobby.  The beer is just getting better and better and just gets more complex and interesting.  I even had non-beer drinkers such as my mother walk away with at least one or two of our brews they could say they enjoyed.  That's a pretty dang big deal.

We finished a pretty large project so far this Fall - we have re-stained and sealed our deck.  A portion of it was done before the party and then Nate finished the rest this weekend.  It's needed to be done every since my Dad and Nate rebuilt the deck, which was four years ago this last summer, so it was kind of overdue.

We've had the opportunity to do one more Living Social boat ride - this past Sunday in fact.  We were extremely lucky to get to do it on what was probably the last nice evening of 2012.  It was mild and there was a beautiful sunset as we cruised down the Mississippi.  I highly recommend Living Social Adventures - we have yet to be disappointed by any of them.  They've all been amazing, well organized and so much fun.  I think I like them best because while I could come up with these ideas on my own for us to do, it's so much easier when someone else has done all the leg work and you just have to pay and show up!

So, we haven't had much down time as of late and that may need to change soon, but I think we'll figure that out.  We always do find a balance somehow.  I think we just love this time of year so much we cram in as much as we can.  There will be a calm before the storm that is the holiday season - something I'm not even ready to start thinking about yet as much as I love them.  Going to instead concentrate on soaking up these last glorious nice days of Fall while we can!

10/2/12

Countdown to Oktoberfest

Well then.  Hello October.  How did you get here so fast?  I love you, but yet, I wish you weren't here already.  It has hit me that I have things coming up crazy soon that I'm semi-ready for. I suppose semi-ready is better than not-ready-at-all!  And in spite of that, I'm also excited.

Yes friends, Oktoberfest is less than two weeks away now.  And it is true that in years past at this point I've been completely panicked, so at least we're not at that point.  It's not as bad as the year the bar was being built and my living room was being painted and we got everything done literally days before the event.  Nope, not that bad at all.  But, true to form, we did take on some last minute projects this year too.

The deck was getting mildew and mossy again.  We power washed it once after moving in and then replaced some of the wood when Nate and my dad re-did the stairs and entry of the deck.  So there is new wood but there is old wood.  The old wood is where the problem is.  So since the weather has been nice and dry, this past weekend we decided to strip and wash the deck and hopefully seal/weatherproof it so it'll last much longer.  We're about halfway through this process.  If the sealing doesn't get done before the party, it won't matter, the wood will still look nice and new from the washing/stripping!

Beyond that everything else should all come together.  All of the beer is done and happily sitting in their kegs.  We've made the bar off limits to ourselves as tempting as it's been to sample some of our new brews!  We want the majority of the beer for the party, if we run out that night, great, just means we have to brew more beer.  Running out before the party would not be a good option!

Lots of cleaning to do between now and then - not that I don't ever clean my house, but for an event this big I do an UBER cleaning.  You know, down to the wiping off of the floorboards and making sure all the cobwebs are gone from corners and even cleaning windowpanes and fun stuff like that.  I know, I'm a little obsessive compulsive  but it makes me feel better, especially when we have such an old house, the little touches I can do to make it look better make me feel good.

So, like I said, we're semi to most of the way ready.  In other words, for now, Bethie is calm.  I hope that continues.  Maybe don't ask me if I still feel this way at this time next week. ;)

9/18/12

Fabulous Fall

I am loving Fall so far.  I know I lamented in a post a little while ago that I was mourning the end of summer - but I'm past that period now.  It helps that we've been filling our Fall with fun activities and I've still been in this relaxed, day at a time pace of life.

It's funny - I always say Fall is my favorite season (and my apologies to my allergy suffering friends who cannot stand this season) but the last several years found Fall not being terribly kind to me.  To the point that last year I was ready to say "screw this, I don't have a favorite season."  It just seemed we'd get hit with less than pleasant things in the Fall - deaths in the family, Nate losing his job, the dark days we went through last year, etc.  And it's early yet - in fact true "Autumn" doesn't start until this Saturday - but so far, it's looking promising.

I'm glad Mother Nature turned off the furnace at long last.  It's been amazing sleeping weather - I love burrowing under blankets when there is a chill in the air.

Nate and I did another Living Social event this past Friday - a beer/boat cruise on Lake Minnetonka.  The weather could not have been better.  It wasn't too cold, but just enough that a light jacket felt nice.  It was absolutely beautiful out there.  The sun gently set over us as we cruised the lake for two hours.  We enjoyed delicious appetizer and four small pours from a new brewery in town - Excelsior Brewing Company.  We ended up sitting with some older folks - who were absolutely delightful.  We have actually found that to be the unique thing at these Living Social events - we're forced to step out of our comfort zone and chat with people we don't know.  We've had some great conversations with some of these folks.  No, we haven't necessarily become lifelong friends and will likely never see each other again, but still.  Friday was no exception, one of the older folks sitting with us was in town from Seattle visiting his brother and sister-in-law and man did this gentleman have stories!  He talked a great deal about boating in South America and it sounded so beautiful!  I could have listened to him for hours.

After the boat ride, the taproom was open at Excelsior so we stopped there as well.  Nate wrote about this a bit more in his latest Pants Monkey Brewing post over here, so I won't say much more other than I am falling in love with all these taprooms opening up in the Twin Cities.  I think my favorite is still Indeed Brewing in Northeast, but I've enjoyed all of the ones we've gotten to so far.

Sunday morning it was warmer and we decided to have brunch out at a patio.  So we headed down to Eli's in Northeast.  I had turkducken eggs benedict.  You heard me right.  It was FABULOUS.  I couldn't eat the whole thing though, it was also crazy rich.

So that was just this past weekend alone, but I have to say, I haven't had a bad weekend so to speak since before Itasca!  Not that any weekend is ever horrible, but yeah.  And looking ahead there is more greatness to come - less than a month to Oktoberfest!  And there are other fun dates on the calendar involving beer and friends and good times.

Maybe I'm going to jinx everything by saying this Fall rocks.  So I will just say that for TODAY, I love Fall.

9/10/12

What We Watch 2012

I decided to update our list of what we watch since some of our shows are starting back up this week!

Copied from last year:

Sunday - Breaking Bad (AMC, season finale up soon), Hung (HBO) - cancelled, Dexter (Showtime)

Monday - How I Met Your Mother (CBS), Two Broke Girls (CBS), House (Fox) series ended, Bored to Death (HBO) cancelled, The Walking Dead (AMC) I think it's on Monday anyway.

Tuesday - Glee (Fox) moving to Thursday, Parenthood (NBC), New Girl (Fox)

Wednesday - Up All Night (NBC) moved to Thursday, Psych (USA), Happy Endings (ABC)

Thursday - Community (NBC) moved to Friday, The Big Bang Theory (CBS), It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FX)

Friday - Chuck (NBC) series ended

So it looks like we're down a few shows - but we are still making our way through the Sopranos and Monk, and also Modern Family and Parks and Recreation, which are both going to have new episodes soon but we'll just be wayyyy behind.  We'll be also watching Shameless and Portlandia when they are back in January.  At any rate, I don't think we'll be bored!  We cram so much into our weekends sometimes it's nice to kick back during the week with mindless TV!  I haven't done any research on new shows coming out yet to say if we'll be adding to our list or not though!

And as always I'll post the question of, what do you watch?



9/4/12

Summer love affair

So.  I guess summer is more or less over.  How did that happen so quickly?  Yes, the weather is still warm and yes there will still be time for outdoor activities and what not - but you can feel the change in the air already.  The days are already a tad shorter.  Kids are back in school this week, which has changed morning traffic patterns.  There are even leaves already on the ground.  Apples are in season.  Halloween stuff is starting to make an appearance in stores.  Fall is definitely on our doorstep.

And now you're all probably scratching your heads going, why is Beth waxing all nostalgic here, I thought she loved Fall?  I do still absolutely love Fall, it is still my most favorite season.  But we had a really terrific summer that makes it almost feel a little melancholy to move on.

It's funny, I am not the summer girl.  But somehow, even with the extreme heat, I embraced the summer this year and somehow we sort of fell in love.  I set out with low expectations - and maybe that is why things went so well.  When I look at all the things we were able to do, I'm amazed.

Golfing....patio nights with beer....grilling a ton of food....beach days....picnics....Surly Brewery tour....celebrating some birthdays with people who mean a lot to us....dinners with outdoor seating....chasing rainbows....visiting Itasca....brewing beer....singing at weddings....Leinenkugel brewery tour and River tubing....seeing friends from out of town we don't get to see very often....jewelry parties....the State Fair....


I loved every single minute.  I would be even so bold to say it was one of the best summers we have had in several years.  So, even though I'm more than ready for Autumn and to move on, I can't help but be a little sad to say goodbye to Summer 2012.  But, you can't stop the passing of time, so instead I will just say "thank you summer 2012.  Thanks for being awesome."  And on we go.

8/29/12

Reflecting

Been rather contemplative these last few days.

A year ago at about this time, we were getting into a not so great place.  We were struggling.  There's no skirting around it, it's true.  Nate was having a really hard time at work, not sleeping, not dealing with stress very well at all. It was scary, I know I wrote a lot about this last year about this time - that I just felt like he wasn't there for a bit.

I had my own struggles and coming to terms with things as I approached the big 3-0.  I kept saying it was no big deal and I was accepting it as it got closer, but it was a struggle.  I wasn't 100 percent myself.

Flash forward a year back to the present day.  You don't want to jinx it by saying it out loud, but I also feel like I don't want to just hide it either - we're both in a good place.  It took some time to get there, but we're really doing well.  I'm especially proud of Nate - work has improved for him so that helped a ton, but he also worked hard on figuring out ways to manage his stress and I think he had to work through some things for himself as well.  Now he's in a good place, he's healthy and happy.  I can't ask for much more than that.

I came through the other side too - I too am in a really good place now.  I think I have changed a bit.  Not necessarily in a bad way.  I feel less intense, less overly future-minded, more overall peaceful.  Yes, She Reads Truth helped me with that a great deal, but also walking the road we walked over the last year has led me to this place as well.  I gained some wisdom.

I always believe things happen for a reason, so as much as it sucked at the time, I figure we had to go through what we did last year for some reason.  I learned things as I went.  It's similar to other times we've been in that boat - when Nate was out of work, when I dealt with leaving Immaculate - these were tough challenges we had to deal with and somehow we still came through it stronger and better for it.  And the same can be said for our bump in the road last year.  That is how I choose to look back on it - a bump.  There may be other bumps ahead, I'm not so naive to believe it's always going to be smooth sailing - but having made it over another one, I have even more strength and courage if another one presents itself.

For now, I don't borrow trouble, I love where we are and where we are going.  I rejoice in it.  I'm smiling a lot.  And I take each day as it comes.  Most of all, I'm incredibly thankful and blessed.  I'll take it.

8/20/12

Back to the ole grind

SO hard to come back from a week's vacation.  It helps that we made it a short week this week though - Friday we're off again to go to the Fair.

Here are some highlights from Itasca - it was awesome.  To quote Nate's cousin Tyler "This vacation is off the charts!"  We are planning to hopefully go back next year if Nate's aunt Annie is able to get the Clubhouse booked.  Fingers crossed.

Our table at the Rapid River Logging Camp enjoying dinner

Me on the bridge to the Clubhouse

The Clubhouse

Headwaters

The rest of the week was good too - we did a little shopping for Nate who has lost a bunch of weight (on purpose in a healthy way) and needed clothes that actually fit.  Friday we brewed the last of our beers for Oktoberfest - a raspberry wheat.  It should be delicious, real live raspberries went into this one.  Saturday we got to go on  Living Social Adventure that we had purchased - a tour of the Leinenkugel brewery and tubing down the Chippewa River.  We were nervous going in because neither of us had ever gone tubing before and we also didn't know anyone, but it ended up being a lot of fun.  It was a little chilly when you first got in the river but the sun warmed us up quite a bit.  I would love to do it again sometime.  Sunday we had church and then recovered from everything else!

I have to say, I have really loved this summer.  I really hope the good times continue into this fall.  Based at things I'm already seeing on the calendar, I think that is a high probability!

8/10/12

Productivity....

So, today is my last day before a one week vacation.  And let me tell you how productive I've been so far.

I've blogged in my fashion blog.  I've read a bunch of blogs.  I took a high chair out of my boss's car that is going to be used in the new audiology department.  I've played Words with Friends, Draw Something and SongPop on my phone.

And it's only 10:15.  Um, yeah.  Friday before vacation = big fat joke.

(Praying the kind folks at FV do not see this.....)

So hey, did I mention I'm going to be on vacation?  LOL.  There will be pictures and stories later.  I'm pretty certain of that!

8/6/12

Signs I'm becoming way too much of a "pet parent"

I got up on Sunday morning and started getting ready for my walk.  Normally, at least one of the cats, usually Pippin, greets me as soon as I'm out of the bedroom.  But not this time.  I thought it was odd that neither cat were out in their beds in the living room and as I'm tying my shoes I think, it's so quiet.  I think it's too quiet.  I decided to go find them.  And this is what I found:


Yeah, I'm becoming one of of those crazy cat ladies.  Was I angry?  Of course, but I had to get the picture before I yelled at them!


What I didn't capture was after I took these, Taylor got up from her spot and I was going to come back to clean up and Pippin had taken over Taylor's spot laying right on top of the paper towels.  I promptly shooed her away.  Oh cats.  You make life interesting.

8/1/12

Hello August

Hey it's August!  What say I post in this blog for a change?

Our world lately has been Praise Project stuff, beer brewing and...that's about it.  But August promises to be a bit more exciting!

First of all, we're going to Itasca in just over a week with a bunch of Nate's family on his mom's side.  I cannot wait.  I love Itasca and this will be a new way to experience it.  We'll only be up there about three days, but Nate and I took off the whole week that week, so he and I should hopefully get some time to do some fun things around here too.

Secondly, we bought a Living Social deal that is a bus ride out to Chippewa Falls, WI to tour the Leinekugel brewery and then go tubing on a river, followed up with a BBQ dinner.  It will be a very fun day later in August.

Thirdly, the State Fair is at the end of August and you all know how much Nate and I love the State Fair.

So it's all happening!  I get the feeling the month will fly by in fact, but I almost wouldn't mind, it'll get us closer to Fall and hopefully some cooler weather finally.

We or I should Nate has been brewing like a mad man.  He's learning a lot about making all grain beer and we're going to have some awesome things on tap for Oktoberfest this year.

I am hoping we get out golfing a bit more too, the weather hasn't been super agreeable for golf lately, or if it has, we've had something else going on!  We actually have a free round to use from when we took our lessons, so it would be nice to actually use it!

So here we are.  And here we go.

7/17/12

Content

I'm so content right now.  This past weekend was seriously just what the doctor ordered.  The only problem is that it went by too quickly!

Last week was rough in my "female" department - yeah TMI I know, but for real, I was super miserable all week long.  It finally eased up on me by the weekend so the timing was perfect.

Friday we had a fun double date with my parents, since we didn't have to rush off to a rehearsal or anything like that.  It was nice to go to dinner for a change!  After that we headed to the movie store and home to watch a movie.  So relaxing.

Saturday I got up early and walked to Caribou to meet my parents.  From there I went out on a little shopping excursion as several local groups I follow were having vintage sales on Saturday.  Even better, they were all within minutes of each other so I made a fun little loop around the south side of Minneapolis.  AND I stuck to my budget that I set for myself.  I was very proud.

Saturday afternoon Nate and I had a fun treat, we got to go to a Surly Brewing tour!  We've been wanting to do that tour for ages and finally got lucky enough to get in.  It was awesome.  Lots of free beer and it was fun to see where they make their beer.  After that we had a nice dinner out and headed home to watch another movie.

Sunday Nate took an all grain brewing class.  To put it in the very simplest terms, what he usually does is extract brewing, a simpler way of making a batch of beer, think of it like using a cake mix.  All grain brewing is more or less everything from scratch, like doing something completely homemade.  So he's ready to do all grain brewing and took a class to learn more about it.  Today he is off from work actually making the all grain brew.  It's going fairly well from what I've heard, he has learned a lot if nothing else.  I'm proud of him.

We've set a date for Oktoberfest already - I know, crazy.  But it gets bigger and bigger every year and we even have a couple of out of town friends who wanted to plan to come, so we set a date and are sending it out on Facebook already so hopefully that will help some with planning their schedules!

So I feel good right now.  I feel on top of things and in control and rested and happy.  And for this moment, that's enough!

7/11/12

Summer lovin'

You know, in my last post, I said we've been busy.  And that it's been hot.  But I'm sitting here thinking after reading a blog post from Jes - she quoted her husband John as saying "I love this summer" the other night.  And as I'm looking at the things we've already been able to do, heat and busy-ness and all, I kind of love this summer too.  It's been good so far.  

Beach days, patio nights, birthday celebrations for friends and family, pedicures, beer brewing, golfing, shopping sales.

How can you not love a summer that includes those things?  And there's more to come.  More time with friends, more beer brewing, vacations, making a CD with Praise Project, the State Fair, more golfing, hopefully more pool or beach time, eating out on patios, and yes, hopefully some work in the yard, can't all be super fun I suppose!

Maybe the biggest reason this summer is better so far is that Nate isn't as stressed at work.  I'm sure that is helping a lot actually.  But actually I think the more helpful thing is I'm not really putting any pressure on ourselves to make this a great summer.  We're taking things as they come, taking things one day at a time and are finding a balance even in the crazy busy times.  

I don't know, whatever it is, it's working.  I love this summer.

7/6/12

Catching my breath

We're just heading out of what was likely one of our busiest weeks of summer.  I think.  There was something going on just about every day for the last week and even though I had a couple of days off, it was a bit hectic at times.  The weekend ahead is still a little full, but then time will slow way down for the next two weeks and I plan to soak that up.

I've been doing pretty good at not getting overwhelmed by the busyness though. And I've enjoyed myself immensely over the last couple of weeks.  Beach days, pedicures, time with family, time with friends. That doesn't mean I'm not looking forward to catching my breath for a bit though.

As always when Nate and I have a jammed packed schedule I find myself starting to crave time with just him.  We need that couple time too.  We won't get much of it this weekend unfortunately, but next weekend we will.  I'm looking forward to that.

I'm pretty darn proud of myself for sticking to my "one day at a time" philosophy.  I credit much of that to She Reads Truth, though in full disclosure, I've fallen off of that a bit this week.  The new plan is good, but isn't gelling with me as much as the last one.  And maybe it's because I feel so kind of "good" right now that I don't want to dig into the depths of the trenches that this particular plan is encouraging.  I'm not saying it's bad, but it does ask you to look at your fears and your worries and at the moment I just don't want to go there.  It doesn't mean I do not have them, but right now they're buried away for a bit and I just want to leave them there and instead enjoy this moment a bit more.  So I've put a "pin" in it so to speak.  It's there when I need it and that's the important part.

Ooh and look, it took me up to five paragraphs before I mentioned the weather - now THAT is shocking.  It's kind of another one of those things I've just kind of let go though.  I can't control it.  If it's going to be hot, it's going to be hot.  Without getting crazy political I do believe we're starting to gradually see the effects of global warming and I guess instead of crabbing about it, I'm trying to adapt.  No I don't love hot weather.  I never will.  I just do my best to dress for it, stay hydrated and stay in the A/C if I need to.  And the good summer days I try to do my best to actually get outside and take advantage of.  It's the best we can do.  This too shall pass.

So that's me in a nutshell.  Now you're all caught up.

7/4/12

Happy 4th of July!

I don't recall a July 4th holiday being THIS hot in quite some time.

Thank God for AC!!!

Stay cool and hydrated my friends!  And have a wonderful celebration!

6/22/12

Summer memories

Ah, summer.  I have a love/hate relationship with summer and always have, but right now I'm focusing on the good things summer has to offer and have been reflecting/remember past summers.  At 30, I can say that my summer memories can be divided into almost five groupings - childhood, pre-teen years, high school years, college years and adulthood.  In each phase, summer was about different things and spent in different ways, which makes sense given they're five different stages of my life thus far.  It's fun to remember though.  Let's take a brief walk down memory lane.  I'm in a good, but nostalgic mood today!

Childhood
Summers of my childhood were clearly about being out of school.  Running through the sprinkler with my friend J from next door.  Playing at the park by my house with my cousins.  Visiting the wading pool by my dad's work.  Rolling down the hill at my grandma's old apartment with my cousins.  Riding my bike around the block.  Playing Red Light, Green Light in my driveway after dinner with just about every kid from age 5-10 on my block (this happened like one time I'm certain, it wasn't a frequent occurrence but I remember it vividly the one time it did.)  Spending hours at Jes's house playing with Barbies, dolls, or swinging on her swingset.  Taking a family vacation with my parents almost every year or a staycation doing things around town at least one week out of the summer.  Visiting my aunt's cabin near Nisswa.  Playing with friends in my backyard playhouse.  Feeling like the days went on and on and would never end

Pre-teen years
As I started "coming of age" so to speak - we'll say from around 11 to 14, summers changed a bit.  There were still plenty of days I hung out with friends.  Jes and I traded Barbies for hunky men on the TV soap General Hospital that we'd often watch together on lazy afternoons.  I started babysitting a lot and spent two to three days a week over at my cousin's house watching their three kids.  I spent hours on the phone with friends who didn't live in the neighborhood so I didn't see them as often.  I had sleepovers with some of them.  My parents started running the Fun Fest at church so I was drug along to help with a lot of set up for that each year.  I'd stay awake late and read teenage fluff and angst  style books.  I started being allowed to wander the mall with friends.  I still did a fair amount of bike riding.  We still took a family vacation.  A couple of years I played on a summer soccer team.  The days still felt long but started passing in more of a blur.

High school years
Summer changed in a big way by high school.  Sure it was still about being out of school.  But now I was old enough to work.  Old enough to date.  Old enough to drive.  Time with friends was abandoned for time with Nate, save for the first summer we were dating and he was away at scout camp.  That was one of the longest summers of my life.  My bike was passed over for my first car.  Free time was becoming more precious as I worked various jobs.  We still took family vacations, but now I was starting to travel with Nate's family as well.  My family still had a large role with Fun Fest.  I began volunteering at Vacation Bible School.  I attended Music Ministry Alive. The State Fair became an annual tradition with Nate. Summer started flying by faster and faster each passing year.

College years
Summer suddenly wasn't much of anything anymore.  I was a diligent girl who took classes in the summer and worked a pretty steady job.  I got my generals more or less done through summer session.  The only vacation I took the entire time I was in college wasn't with my family or really even with Nate's - it was a trip that just he and I took to St. Louis.  I didn't even move home one summer as I took on the role of Orientation Coordinator and was busy every single day, especially the closer it got to September.  These are the summers I actually remember the least, just because of how much they weren't really like a true summer. It's not to say they were bad summers, but they weren't memorable.

Adult years
Summer now is better than it was in college, but definitely not the carefree summer of my youth.  It still flies by.  But I have had some really awesome times during the summer in my adulthood too.  Even though I didn't love the job, working at Immaculate and taking the kids places like the wave pool or Valleyfair and getting paid for it, spending hours in Gina's office "working" and going on Caribou runs. Planning my wedding, being a newlywed and buying our house. Starting a new job at Fairview.  Pool parties with friends.  Barley Johns and other outdoor patio nights.  Trips to Itasca with Nate.  Brewing beer.  Outdoor concerts.  Golfing.  Obviously no more Fun Fest or VBS, but many fun times with Praise Project.  Family reunions.  Another trip to St. Louis. Becoming a runner. Re-discovering my bike.  Realizing the time does go by so, so fast, and trying to appreciate every single moment as it comes.

If I look at mostly the good, I do find many reasons to love summer.  We just won't factor in the weather, right?  Ha.  Thanks for indulging me on a trip down memory lane.

6/21/12

New plan

I finished the Soul Detox plan yesterday.  And I feel good.  Refreshed.  Spiritually fed.  Still far from perfect however.  None of us will ever be perfect though, I think that is next to impossible.

I'm staying with the She Reads Truth girls and going on to the new plan they've chosen and again from day one, feel like this is no accident and it's meant for me.  They've chosen one called "Living the Surrendered Life."  It is such a great follow up to the Soul Detox.

The first line in the daily devotion is about worry.  It goes on to talking about learning to trust and not borrowing trouble from tomorrow.  Now, this isn't to say I carry the weight of the world in worries - but I do have a nervous personality, I do think too far ahead sometimes and sometimes, I let it consume me.  So this plan's gonna be good.  I got my feet wet with the last plan, now I'm ready to dive in all the way.  Let's do this.

6/18/12

Shake it out

Some jumbles of thoughts for today.

We had an up and down weekend.  In the end we sold our Rock the Garden tickets.  I'm glad to have gotten my money for it but bummed we didn't go especially when the weather cleared up.  In all honestly I should have sold our tickets right away, Nate was never excited about going.  And I'm not trying to make him out to be the bad guy, the lineup just wasn't his cup of tea this year.  Had we gone, I am sure he would not have had all that much fun which would have led to me not having that much fun.  So, we made the decision and stuck with it and what's done is done.  Maybe we'll try again next year, maybe not.

We did have a good Father's Day, celebrating with both of our dads and it was quite lovely.  It was nice to do something nice for them since they do so much for us!

My fashion blog turned one year old on Saturday.  I can't believe I've been at it for a year.  I know I do tend to favor that one over this one, but I'm trying hard to be balance both again.

Speaking of blogs, Nate has stepped into the world of blogging!  I'm quite proud of him, he has started a homebrewing blog, right now he's attempting to update it weekly.  You can find him at www.pantsmonkeybrewing.com - he really tries to explain the brewing process in layman's terms and it's quite interesting.  Show him some love, it's really pretty good.  (I made the awesome banner that is at the top of his blog).

Still been making my way through the Soul Detox, almost finished with it.  I got a little off path from it late last week and into the weekend, letting little things get to me and kind of let myself wallow for a little bit, but I pulled myself out and I'm back on track and feeling better.  I've been thinking a lot about the Florence and the Machine song "Shake It Out" and the line "It's hard to dance with a devil on your back, so shake it off."  So I'm choosing to shake it all off - the weekend, the little things, the storm clouds, I'm shaking it off because I'd rather be dancing.  The summer is young yet and there is still time for other fun things to happen. And I'm human and I'm going to have bad days sometimes, but I'm going to try hard not to let that devil climb back up there.

And that's what I got today.  On we go.

6/14/12

Anti Rain Dance

So Rock the Garden is Saturday.  We have tickets for the fourth year in a row.  And much like last year there is a high threat of rain.

So anti rain dance is commencing right now.  Because I do not want to sit through a wet, muddy, cold outdoor concert again.  And I don't want to be out the money I paid to get into the show either.

NORAINNORAINNORAINNORAINNORAIN

6/13/12

Cloudy day

I'm struggling today.

I was all set to write about how the Soul Detox has been going and that I've actually been feeling really good and really peaceful and like I'm a good place, because for the most part, I really have been. It's been really good. 

But life isn't always sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes there are clouds in the sky, much like the weather today.  And it's normal and it's ok and in fact I even said, just because I was doing the Soul Detox didn't mean my life was perfect or I had it all figured out.

So I'm going to kind of settle in this cloudiness just for a little bit.  But it'll get better.  It always does and it's easier to see the sun coming than it used to be.  In fact I'm sure it'll be back tomorrow even if it's not in a physical sense.  

Sometimes we just have a cloudy day.  And that is ok.

6/5/12

Letters

And now for something completely different just because I feel like it, I present random letters to various things/people/inanimate objects.

Dear Caribou Coffee - please, please, please do NOT get rid of your Classic Black Ice Tea.  I do not drink it, but it is my husband's favorite drink and yours is the only coffee shop he even likes the ice tea from.  He deserves a caffeine fix too and he deserves to not have it tainted with fruit flavors if he so chooses.

Dear Sunshine- thank you for being around so much!  I hope you keep sticking around, specifically on Saturday, June 16th.  We really do not want a repeat of last year.

Dear MPR - Yes I support you and I have chosen to be a sustaining member of your fine organization, but I really do not wish to up my level of which I pay.  I like you and you're good for our community, but I can't do anymore.  So please leave me alone.

Dear Inconsiderate Neighbor - if you are talking on the phone outside after 10:00 pm and my windows are closed and my air conditioning is on and I can STILL hear you, then you are probably too loud.  Just thought you should know.

Dear Dairy Queen, C.C. Oreo Cookies - thank you for existing.  That is all.

Dear Neck of mine - thank you for starting to feel better after I strained you golfing.  My apologies for not stretching you properly.  It won't happen again.

Dear Portlandia, or maybe this should go to Fred Armisen - thank you for being hilarious.  I wish it was already time for season 3.

Dear Reader - thanks for reading!  Have a great day!

6/4/12

Taking care of my soul

So lately I've been thinking a lot.  They say with age comes wisdom and I guess I've been rather contemplative since turning 30 and I think I've learned and figured out some things.

I think it's human nature to find fault in others when we're less than satisfied with ourselves.  I'm guilty of it.  During Lent I tried to be less that way, but fell back into the old pattern.  Now I'm really trying hard to give it up again.  Everyone is fighting their own battle in life.  Who am I to judge their choices or how they live their life?  I certainly don't want anyone judging me.  So, I have made a fresh resolve to not make myself feel better by bringing others down.

As I've considered this, I've thought of relationships I've had and some hurt feelings or even bitter feelings I've had with some individuals that maybe weren't fair.  And I'm letting them go.  Water under the bridge.  Starting fresh and forgiving.  And it feels good.  And there has even been some re-connecting with some in my life that I thought I had lost and that has felt good too.

I think it's no coincidence or accident that shortly after I decided to really try harder at being a kinder, less cynical type person that I stumbled onto an online community of women who are doing a bible study together.  And I will admit, I have never been great at reading the bible.  Like, I probably haven't even so much as looked at it since I was a youth minister and even then, I only read what I needed for Confirmation lessons.  So I found this group, this community - first it was just a handful of bloggers posting on Twitter and now it's become www.shereadstruth.com - and the first thing they did was suggest a plan for reading a daily scripture - the Soul Detox plan from the Youversion bible app for iPhone (yes they make these!).  So I started silently following along.  And I feel like this plan was designed just for me - because the very devotions this plan has have all been about to trying to rid ourselves of the negative things in our life.  The "toxic feelings" and "toxic thoughts" we have.

I'm just over a week in and I love it.  I feel refreshed. But I'm far from perfect.  And I certainly don't have a "I"m holier than thou because I'm doing this" attitude.  I just feel this is something I need in my life right now.

I love that there is a community of other women doing this as well who I can share with.  I have friends in real life of all walks of life - others who are religious like myself and many others who are not at all.  And I love and respect all of them - but it's nice to have a place online where I can be a little more open.

I may blog about this from time to time here, because it doesn't feel like it belongs on my fashion blog.  If you feel so inclined, check out Shereadstruth.com and join in as well.  When the Soul Detox plan is over another one will begin.  And if you are one of my non-religious friends, I just ask you respect me in the same way I respect you.  You can skip over these posts and it won't offend me.  And not all of my posts will be about this, just when I feel like I need to write about something.

I'm just feeling such a sense of peace.  And no matter where you're coming from in life, I wish you peace as well.

5/30/12

Summer is upon us

So this past weekend, Nate and I celebrated six years of marriage.  Holy cow.  Where does the time go?  We're more than halfway through our first decade of marriage.  And don't get me started on time together as a whole, next year will be 15 years.  Crazy.

And May has just flown by too, seriously, it was like a flash.  I suppose having weekly activities like golf lessons has made the time go faster.  Not to mention during the week we were going to the driving range at least once in the evenings too, so yeah, blink and May is over.  I do not want the entire summer to fly by like this!

Last summer really kind of sucked.  And fortunately it did go by fast, but there's just no other way to say it, it sucked.  We were busy all the time, Nate was so stressed at work to the point that he was making himself sick,  it started out cold and rainy (remember Rock the Garden last year?) and then it was hotter than hell the rest of the summer.    We did have a fun family vacation (yes I said fun, I know there were issues on that trip, but looking back it was mostly fun).  We did do some fun activities as we were able, but overall looking back, I did not enjoy Summer 2011.

This summer I really, really want to try to enjoy more.   Some things I already know will be better - Nate has a partner again at work so that will help, plus, he's getting his Flex Fridays back for the first time since his first summer at MSIT.  So he is going to be far less stressed I think.  We get to go to our favorite place in the entire world, Itasca State Park in August.

As for the weather, well we can't control that.  Who knows if it will be hot, cold, rainy, dry or average this year.  I just plan to make the most of the good days as much as possible.  For example, today it is nice, we will go to the driving range.  If it's hot on the weekends we plan to take a clue from my parents and get up early to golf before the heat of the day.  Or get our yard work done earlier or what have you.  We might be turning into old people, but Nate was laughing with me the other day that he realized he can get so much more done in a day on the weekend if he's up earlier.  Especially on a day we have a Praise Project gig.  It might mean we don't stay up as late on Friday night, but you know, it's not such a bad thing.

There are other plans in the works for this summer but not going to stress about them.  We will do as much as we can, biking, swimming, running, golfing, barbeques with friends, eating on patios, whatever we can fit in.

I am just going to stick to my one day at a time mantra as much as I possibly can!  I say it all the time and I struggle with it, but I'll do my best to lather, rinse, repeat.  And this summer WILL be better than last year!

5/14/12

Good and full weekend

She's posting again?  GASP!

I just felt like sharing about our weekend.  It was a good one, even if it was super full.

Friday and Saturday were full of Praise Project stuff, a rehearsal and a Mass.  And somewhere in there was our 2nd golf lesson.  But, we had a fun date night at a new restaurant in NE Minneapolis - Eli's East.  There is also an Eli's Downtown, but the East location is not terribly far and quite easy to get to.  And they had outdoor seating.  That was kind of my only requirement for dinner on Saturday.  I didn't care where we went as long as we could sit outside because Saturday was all kinds of gorgeous outside.  We even briefly considered sitting out on our own deck and having dinner at home, but then I remembered I wanted to try Eli's (my parents tried it first actually - can you believe that?  Usually I introduce them to new places!) so we checked to see if they had the outdoor patio and they totally did.

I love this restaurant!  They have a couple of local breweries on tap but even without that the food was really good!  We split this crab cake appetizer that was to die for.  I then had a smoked salmon Caesar salad since smoked fish is my new obsession.  It was so good and was nice and light - perfect for an outdoor meal.  I was also worried it would be super busy and packed there, but it still wasn't terribly busy as we were leaving around 7:00.  It was steady, just not packed.  There are plenty of other things on the menu we want to try, so I think we'll be going back there soon!

Sunday was Mother's Day and my furry children did not gift me with much more than just tons of cuddles and love.  I swear they were both extra affectionate yesterday which was kind of sweet.  We got up a little early and took my mom to Caribou and then to Isle Bun and Coffee, awesome bakery in Uptown that has the best cinnamon rolls in the Twin Cities.  We were nervous when we pulled up - the line was out the door and halfway down the street.  My dad is like "they are not going to keep up with demand, we'll be in line for an hour or more" but we decided to chance it.  It actually wasn't so bad, we got through in about a half hour.  Mom and I chose strawberry rhubarb scones instead of the cinnamon rolls - because they are some of the BEST scones I have ever had and they only have them around this time of year.  Dad got a cinnamon roll and Nate got a caramel bun.  We took our goodies down to Lake of the Isles and sat for a bit.  Came back to our house so mom and dad could get some kitty love for a little bit.  Then they headed home.

Later in the afternoon we went to Nate's aunt and uncle's house in Lino Lakes and had a barbecue with his family.  It was so nice, we sat outside the whole time and visited and ate goodies.  The guys cooked for the ladies, even this lady who technically isn't a mom didn't have to lift a finger!  Just got to sit and drink margaritas and beer and relax!  All the fresh air really wore me out though, we got home last night and crashed in front of the TV for about three hours and zoned out.  Slept good last night though!

This week calms down considerably.  I have a girls movie date tonight, but then the rest of the week is calm and quiet and in fact, I took Friday off!  It's been crazy at work and just in life in general.  So I'm really looking forward to a me day.  We all need them!

5/7/12

I'm ba-ack!

You knew I wouldn't avoid blogging here forever right?  If you did, then you don't truly know me.  Those who do know me, know at times I need Bloggers Anonymous.  Hey, at least I'm back writing in an existing blog instead of coming up with yet another one!

Quite frankly, I have nothing that exciting to say, but I wanted to babble about what we've been up to lately, just cause I felt like it.  And hey, maybe no one is reading anymore after my last post, but that's ok!  I'll just babble for myself then!

So first of all, Nate and I have started intermediate level golf lessons.  Four weeks plus a round of golf at the end.  It's not a bad deal all in all, each lesson is just an hour and should help us kind of fine tune our skills a bit.  We chose the intermediate level because we both have played golf and know about golf, so I felt we'd be bored in the beginner level.  We had our first lesson this last Saturday - squeezed in right before the monsoon, hooray for that.  We worked on putting and already I learned something new.  Always room for growth!

Secondly, back in March Nate bought a smoker for smoking his own meats.  At that time we did some bacon and a pork shoulder that was then shredded for pulled pork sandwiches.  It was so delicious and I've been on him to try it again and also do a brisket.  And other than our golf lesson, this last weekend was totally free and clear on our schedule so we decided it would be a good time to do it.  Then Mother Nature decided to go all wonky on us and we weren't sure if we could do it - but Nate is a smart man (which is why I married him of course!) and figured out a way to put up a canopy on the deck that the smoker could sit under.  Problem solved and the meats were fantastic and worth it.  I'm such a friggin carnivore.  I love meat.  Mmm, meat.

Otherwise, it's been day to day normal stuff.  I'm dreaming of vacation.  Several people I know have just taken amazing looking long weekends away - and I'm craving it.  We are going to Itasca with Nate's extended family in August and I am SO looking forward to that - but I think even more I'm craving the adventure of going somewhere new or even somewhere I haven't been since I was young.  Unfortunately with house repairs and car repairs coming up I don't see us really having a chance to travel like that for awhile.  But it's not going to stop me from dreaming.  Sometimes I wish Nate and I could get in the car and just drive until we feel like stopping.

I'm also seeking creative outlets - I don't know what I'm looking for, but I have had this sense of wanting to do something meaningful or inspiring to others the way others inspire me.  If that makes any sense whatsoever.  I guess that's a big reason that I'm back to blogging here, I just need to explore myself a bit.  We'll see if I find any answers anyway.  Or I'll wake up tomorrow and be like, self-discovery?  Too much work!

So here we are.  And we move along.


4/17/12

Hai

Oh hai blog.  You're still here?  I'm not?  Oops.

You have to just assume when there is a lot of static on the ole blog here that things are going on a pretty even keel for me.  Nothing over the top fabulous and nothing down in the dull-drums of ick.  And that is SO ok with me.  And of course, I told you my "theme days" wouldn't last.  Part of the problem is, I haven't been super inspired by any music as of late to keep up with Music Mondays.  And I have been finding things "fabulous" so to speak but then I forget by Friday sometimes too.  I sound like I'm making excuses here.  Maybe I am.  

Anyhoo.  Hello. What's new?  

We did Easter "round 2" with Nate's family on this past Sunday.  I'm happy we're keeping the Russian Orthodox tradition alive in honor of his grandfather and aunt and what not.  We had some delicious Russian delicacies and of course, ham.  And I love me some pork but I am super hammed out right now.  I don't want to look at another ham for awhile.

Nate and I trying a more laid back approach to our running this year.  Did I mention this already?  I'm too lazy to go back and look.  Anyway, for his stress level we're going to do the famed "Couch to 5K" program this year that only has you going three days a week.  We're also trying going right after work instead of first thing in the morning.  It's different so far.  Not going to lie and say I love this change.  There is more traffic and it is making dinners more challenging and I don't know how I'll feel in the middle of a heatwave in July.  But I love him and I want him to still want to do this, so we'll make it work.  I'm also trying to figure out what to do on the off days.  So far I've been adding in some strength training and some elliptical and some walking.  If anything I'm getting quite a bit of variety, so I do like that.

So yeah.  That's where we are at right now.  Super exciting right?  

A reminder if you truly need a daily dose of Beth (and come on now, who doesn't?) I am blogging daily at my fashion blog: http://fashionableadventuresboo.blogspot.com - but while I am throwing in tidbits from daily life it's still fashion-y and stuff.  So you kind of need to like that sort of thing and I respect that not everyone does.  But it's there and I'm there and if you miss me you should go there.  I'll continue to try to come here and play occasionally too though.

That's enough for today.  This post brought to you by the letter "S" for sarcasm and "B" for babble-y cause apparently that's how I roll today.

4/10/12

Tuesday Thoughts

Decided to do kind of a random thought, stream of consciousness type post today.  All the things currently on my mind.

It's really cold outside and seems harder to take because it had been so warm.

I refuse to dig out my winter coat.  I did however break out winter gloves.

Running is coming back to me easier than I thought it would when we started last week.  I miss our old program but I am glad we're doing something.

I miss my cat.  My parents' house feels so empty without her.  I wonder when that feeling starts to go away.  I don't dare say that to my mom, because her recovery is going so well.

It is really cold outside.

Nate's spaghetti is one of my favorite meals of all time.  It will easily be the highlight of my week tonight.  And that makes me think that my life must be getting kind of boring.

I think I'm getting old.  I actually enjoyed watching the Masters with my dad on Easter.

I think I'm getting old because I'm making sort of responsible adult choices and actually feeling like a true adult. On the one hand I kind of don't like it.  On the other it feels oddly...normal?

Construction has started at my work and it reminds me of being in high school all over again.  Pounding.  Drilling.  Random noises disrupting the work day.  Awesomeness.

Did I mention it's cold outside?

I'm in a baking mood.  Might have to make cupcakes again.  It's actually been awhile now.

Now that I can shop again, I'm surprised by the things I want to buy.  Or maybe the things I don't want to buy.  Maybe it's that whole adult thing I was talking about.

Sometimes when I get lost in my own head I think I must be one of the strangest people in the world.  But don't we all feel that way sometimes?

And oh yeah, it's cold outside.

4/4/12

Woo hoo it's Wednesday!

It's Weekly Update Time!  And today's feature is....our getaway this last weekend to the lovely city of Duluth, MN!  We had a fabulous time - it was a super nice B and B we stayed in.  It's called Cotton Mansion.  It's tucked away in a neighborhood up on the hill and away from the less tourist-y area of Canal Park, I liked that it was a little more secluded.  The food was fantastic, our room was nice, I would totally do it again!  Below are some pictures that highlight our stay.

The bed was comfy, it takes up most of the room and it smelled like lavender

We had a fireplace!  Wish we had one in our own home!

Took a side trip to Gooseberry Falls State Park, aka, one of my favorite places in MN!

Nice self portrait of the two of us!
We visited Gooseberry Falls and we also tried some delicious smoked trout and cheese and ate at Fitgers too.  Couldn't have planned a better getaway.  Seriously awesome.  I would like to try some other B and B's now too.

Now we're into Holy Week which isn't nearly as packed as me as it used to be when we were at IC.  I'm going to the Good Friday service by choice, but that's about it for Holy Week this year.  Sunday we are doing Easter Mass with Praise Project at St. Tim's and then having dinner with my parents and celebrating my mom's birthday.  We'll do Easter with Nate's family the following Sunday on Russian Easter.  I'm glad we're continuing that tradition in his grandpa's honor.

That's the latest and greatest.  Things are kind of quiet besides Easter coming up here and you know what, that is ok with me!!

4/2/12

Music Monday - Life's A Happy Song

I think most people know we've had some up and down times so far in 2012, and I know my last few Music Mondays certainly have been downers. But right now, things are good. We had a fantastic getway to Duluth this past weekend that I'll share more about later. In general, I'm just feeling good, so I'm sharing a fun happy song today - Life's A Happy Song from The Muppets. This particular video is from their appearance on Dancing with the Stars this past November. Enjoy.


3/28/12

The news from here

It's time for your weekly update! And hey, let's get some happiness up in here! Sound good? All right!

So even with the events of last week, we managed to have a really nice weekend actually. Nate and I did something kind of out of the box for us - went to a late night movie after our Praise Project rehearsal on Friday. I was just itching to see The Hunger Games and I knew if we didn't go this last weekend it would likely be several weeks before we had the chance. I'm a huge fan of the books and I just had to see this movie in the theatre on a big screen.

Surprisingly Nate agreed to my crazy idea of hitting up the later showing on Friday down at St. Anthony Main. We figured, added perk, grab a happy hour beer over at Pracna and then see the movie. We got down there in plenty of time, it was probably ten to 9 (movie time was 9:50), so we bought our tickets right away. The guy behind the counter said "they'll probably start lining up over there in a little bit" pointing to a hallway right when you come in the main entrance. We kind of scoffed and are like, we're not going to stand here for the next hour when we could be drinking beer. So we grabbed a beer at Pracna and probably sat there all of 15 minutes. We stopped at the restroom and came back - the line was rather long. Probably should have listened to the ticket guy. In the end, it wasn't so bad though, we got nice seats on an aisle.

I loved the movie. I won't say anything else for fear of spoilers for anyone who hasn't seen it. I'll just say this if you haven't seen it - Get thee to a movie theatre ASAP. You won't be sorry. It was very well done. We were quite possibly the oldest people in attendance too, but I don't care!

The rest of the weekend was very family oriented, got in some quality time with my mom as we both kind of needed it, we visited my Auntie Mary and Nate and I got in some quality time with members of his family too. It was really the best kind of weekend that way! I also received some new clothes thanks to the lovely Ali and my awesome cousin Kelly - so in a way I'm like, shopping ban? What shopping ban?

I had my one year follow up to LASIK yesterday. My eyes are fantastic. I'm not bragging, they actually said that to me. My vision is exactly how it should be and they said my eyeballs themselves do not show any signs of surgery any longer! You couldn't ask for more.

Now Nate and I are gearing up for our bed and breakfast getaway in Duluth, I could not be more excited to be in one of my most favorite cities for a couple of days. Hoping for good weather since last time we were up there we didn't make it to Gooseberry Falls and I really want to go walk around there a bit.

That's about all that's new here. Back to you Reader. (Weak attempt at a news joke)

3/27/12

Farewell sweet queen

I've been trying to find the words to write this post and I still don't think I have them. I'm going to give it a try though since it's part of the healing/grieving process.

Thursday I went over to my parents for my usual lunch hour. My mom came out of the bathroom when I came in the door and she was crying. My heart sank. "I think Cleo had a stroke," she said. I started to cry a little too, though somehow, those words weren't terribly shocking to hear. I have a weird, almost creepy sixth sense about this kind of stuff and I had been having a feeling for a couple of weeks that this was coming.

We sat down and started talking and I told my mom it was time to let her go. The vet had always said we'd know when it was time, and based on the symptoms my mom was describing, it was clearly time. Cleo was sleeping, rather unresponsive, not able to walk. We agreed that neither of us wanted her to be suffering. My dad needed convincing though, he was sort of thinking she might snap out of it, as she has with several other issues over the last couple of years, but it was pretty clear this time that it wasn't going to happen. So, I finished lunch and I left mom when she said she'd be ok and she said she'd talk to my dad about it and hopefully do what was necessary, maybe even that afternoon.

Unfortunately, it drug out to Friday morning. But, my dad came around and agreed that it was time and they got her in on Friday around 10:00 am. She was more or less sleeping and out of it, and thankfully did not appear to be in any pain. The vet said they were making the right decision, difficult as it was. With my parents by her side, she went very peacefully. The vet staff were extremely kind during the entire process. They even took back some of her unused special diet kidney food and took all of her medications to be destroyed.

I came for lunch on Friday and painful as it was, was hoping it was over. I made my peace with it on Thursday and said my goodbyes, not really feeling I wanted to be there at the very end. I just hoped that she was suffering no longer. And I came in the door and found my poor mom packing up all her old stuff and I knew it was done. And we cried some more, but we again agreed this was the right thing to do and she's in a better place.

Again, I'm sad about it, but I'm not overcome with grief. I'm sure it's because, as my mom said, she really was more her cat for the last ten or so years as I was busy with college and getting married and then moving out. Or maybe I'm just numb right now, but I think that it would be different if I was still there every day. I think it'll hit me more when my parents go out of town in a couple of weeks and I go get the mail for them and she won't be there.

My mom was having a hard time over the first couple of days and I think she will be sad for awhile to come, but she is getting better each day. Getting used to the new normal. We went out for some retail therapy on Saturday (well she did, I just drove since I'm still on shopping ban for Lent) and just spent some much needed time together and I think it helped a bit.

They will not get another pet. At least not in the foreseeable future. They are also finding the positives in the situation, such as now they can be a bit more spontaneous, if they want to drive up north for the day and stay the night, they don't have to worry about having someone come care for the cat. Little things like that. And they said that they have their "grand-kitties" (my cats) to come love on whenever they need a kitty fix.

Still, it is strange right now. I sat over there for lunch yesterday and kept seeing shadows and thinking she'd be coming around the corner. My mom said she's used to looking out for her when she's doing stuff in the kitchen, because she'd always be underfoot, so that feels weird right now too.

The only thing that helps is time. I know that it will get easier each day and I can already see my mom getting better with each day.

We have wonderful memories. She was a sweet and very special cat. And she will be missed and loved forever. She'll always be our queen of the house.

Side note - go here for a post I wrote reflecting on Cleo a bit a couple of years ago around the anniversary of when we adopted her.

3/22/12

Time flies in the best of ways

Even 14 years in I can't forget this day. No we don't celebrate it anymore but I can still never forget what happened 14 years ago today. I've spent almost half my life loving this man.


Senior Prom - 2000

Winery trip Fall 2011





Could I possibly love him more?

Yep. Every single day for the last 14 years I've loved him more than the last.


And I always will.

3/21/12

Foodies

Weekly update time! It's very "foodie" today.

Over the weekend Nate tried his hand at using a meat smoker to smoke some meats for us. He did a slab of bacon and a pork shoulder, that we then turned into pulled pork for sandwiches. And OH-EM-GEE it is FANTASTIC!!! I know I brag about his cooking all the time, probably too much, but you guys, this pork? Best pulled pork I've ever had. It puts the Fun Fest pork guys from IC to shame. It puts Famous Daves and other BBQ places to shame. You don't need BBQ sauce, just eat it as is. Eat heaping amounts of it. The bacon turned out rather amazing as well - it's not like it is when it comes right off the stove. You can fry it on a stove if you want, but you can eat it more or less as is right when it comes out of the smoker. So it's a bit fattier/less crispy, which takes some getting used to, but again, the taste is out of this world. I think this new hobby will be a fun one. I just hope we don't gain 70 pounds or something.

While Nate worked on the meat I baked cupcakes again. I made Irish "Carbomb" type cupcakes - there was Irish stout in the batter and Baileys in the frosting. To date, they are the best cupcakes I've made. The cupcake itself was moist and delicious and the frosting? Oh man the frosting. I could sit and eat that by the spoonful. I don't know how many more cupcake recipes I'll make before it gets really warm out, I don't know that I'll make a lot them over the summer, but it's been a fun winter hobby.

Nate enjoyed his time off, looking forward to a little more soon, it's almost our little weekend getaway to Duluth. I am so excited, it'll be nice to get away, even if it is just over a weekend!

That's about it. Rather food heavy update, but that's what we're into right now!

3/20/12

Three times the Muppety goodness

I would be amiss as a Muppet fan if I didn't inform you all of three very awesome Muppety things for today, March 20th, 2012.

1. The Muppets movie comes out on DVD/Blu-Ray today. I'll be buying my copy from Best Buy thanks to a leftover Christmas gift card - so I won't even be breaking my shopping ban too much at all!

2. The Muppets received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame today. Very exciting and awesome for them!! About darn time!

3. Big Bird from Sesame Street is celebrating a birthday today. He is six years old. For about the 43rd year in a row. Happy birthday Big Guy!

3/19/12

Music Monday - Cruel and Beautiful World

Check me out, I finally learned to "embed" music videos within a post. This is far better than just giving you guys the link! Hurray!

Today I have chosen a bit of a melancholy little tune, it makes me cry - which may or may not have anything to do with the fact that it was used in an emotionally wrenching scene during the series finale of Chuck - but I still like the song. I'm in a slight melancholy mood today so it just felt like what I wanted to share. Don't worry, I'm ok - just a wee bit reflective and seeing changes in my life and relationships with others and processing it a bit. Trying to get back into my "one day at a time" mantra.

*Side note - if you're already in a melancholy mood, don't watch a movie called Melancholia - while it is a very well done movie, I guarantee it will not help!*

3/14/12

What's up 3/14

Happy Pi Day! You know 3.14blahblahnumbersIdonotremember....

We had such a lovely weekend - could not believe the weather, still can't believe the weather right now in fact, but the weekend weather was awesome too. We ran a bunch of errands on Saturday, played some cribbage and had dinner out at Brasa. We had hoped their patio would be open, but it wasn't quite yet. It was busy and there was a wait, but they let us order beers and sit over by a bonfire they had off on the side. So the wait wasn't too bad.

Sunday we slept late, made breakfast and I was a crazy woman and went and sat in line to get my car washed. It actually didn't take as long as I thought it would. Of course it rained on Monday and kind of ruined the whole thing, but I was happy to have the inside all vacuumed out and cleaned from all the sand accumulated from the winter. We finished out Sunday with dinner at my in-laws - they grilled burgers and it was awesome.

This week Nate is lucky enough to get a couple of days off. He's off tomorrow and Friday and also on Monday. He really needs it, I'm happy he's getting a couple of days for himself. He has made a few plans, going to make sausage for Easter with his dad tomorrow. Might brew beer one day. Sunday we are going to a service that is a tradition in the Russian church for Nate's grandpa - 40 days after the person passes away they have another ceremony that is essentially celebrating that person's arrival into heaven. Kind of the final closure I guess. The Russians really want to be sure you get into heaven, that is for sure! The family is having a lunch afterward so that will be nice.

So that's the view from here. Just continuing to take life one day at a time!

3/12/12

Music Monday - Little Talks

Today's Music Monday is a song called Little Talks by a group called Of Monsters and Men. I cannot get enough of this song right now - and I can't even really tell you why, other than I love that it's a guy and girl singing together. The video is....trippy. But the song is good! Check it out.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ghb6eDopW8I&ob=av2n

3/9/12

Fabulous Friday 3/9/12

It's Fabulous Friday! And just what am I finding fabulous today?

1. My

2. Weekend

3. Is

4. Free

5. For

6. Whatever

7. I

8. Want

9. To

10. Do

Can you tell I'm a tad excited about that? Happy weekend everyone!!

3/7/12

What's up Wednesday

Yeah, not sure what I'm calling Wednesdays yet, but I'm starting on my resolve to make Wednesday my "what we're up to" update type day. So, what is new in the world of Beth and Nate?

Big fat nothing to be quite honest. Ok, that's a bit extreme. It's been quiet as of late though. Our weekend was a bit choppy as Nate worked super late on Friday and also on Saturday for a bit. But, we managed to salvage some nice time together, while he did skip out on mass, we went out for a nice dinner afterward at Red Lobster. Yeah I know, it's Lent, we should be eating seafood on Fridays. But it just worked out for us to go there on Saturday.

Sunday we slept super late. Later than I have in a long time. I must have needed it. I know Nate did. Anyway, we got up and made some breakfast and then did a little shopping so I could bake cupcakes again. I made chocolate salted caramel this time - they turned out the best of all my cupcakes so far. But oh my goodness were they SWEET. They tamed down a bit after a day or two, but I'm kind of glad Nate took the majority of them to work because they kind of almost hurt your teeth with sweetness!

We went and had dinner with Nate's parents Sunday night and it was nice to spend some time catching up with them. We also played one of the games they got us for Christmas and it was so much fun. I'd like to play it again with a few more people, it's a word game you play with two teams. Lots of fun!

Nate hasn't made anymore sausage yet, but he will be doing so while he is on a little vacation from work. Since they finally hired a second Mac tech, Nate's taking some MUCH needed time off next week and I'm so happy he'll be getting a little break.

Speaking of breaks, we have a rare weekend coming up with no Praise Project gigs or even rehearsals. We can do what we want, when we want and I won't lie, while I love Praise Project, I'm kind of excited for an entire weekend off. Especially when last weekend was so disjointed with Nate working and such. I have made no plans for us right now and I plan to kind of keep it that way at the moment, maybe be spontaneous this weekend. I think Friday will be a movie night at home, got one from Netflix sitting at home just waiting to be watched. After that, who knows!

And that's about it from here. Nate's also been talking about brewing beer again soon, as two of our kegs are empty, so I'm looking forward to that! Maybe we'll do that this weekend!