Glass blowing experience

Saturday night we went and did our glass blowing and beer tasting class as a part of Nate's Christmas present this year. It was a blast! It was through Living Social Adventures (one of those Groupon style websites) at the FOCI MN Center for Glass Arts. When this came through my email as an offer, I knew that it was something Nate would be into, not only would we be tasting beer, but we'd get to make our very own pint glass!

We arrived about 20 minutes early and the last class was just wrapping up. We had a chance to walk around the studio, it is a neat place and they have a gallery with various glass pieces on display - pretty awesome stuff.

Others began to trickle in and we met another couple who were there for the same reason - the wife bought this as a Christmas gift for the husband. They were very nice people, about 10 years older than us and ironically, the husband used to live down the street from Nate's parents.

The Living Social people then introduced the instructors and explained the itinerary for the evening. Then we watched a demonstration and were broken into groups of four to work with an instructor to make our pint glasses. It was definitely hands on, though the instructors did do some of the work as there are steps involved that are very difficult for beginners. But we got to gather the glass on our rod, we got to work on shaping it, and we got to help blow the glass to help it expand into a larger size to make the pint glass.

Here is a picture of me helping to blow the glass - it expands almost like a hot, fragile balloon.

This is me twirling the glass to keep it from settling. Our instructor was going to get another piece of hot metal to help create the opening.

Here is Nate opening up the inside of the glass. Even for very advanced glass blowers this is a two person operation.

A little earlier in the process, here is Nate shaping the glass, you use very thick wet newspaper, almost like sandpaper, it protects your hand and you're able to give it a round shape.

It was really informative. The entire process for each person took a half hour to 45 minutes. But it was fun to watch others even when it wasn't your turn. Also, we got to pick two colors to melt into the glass and make it unique too. I chose blue and pink and Nate chose green and yellow. The final step was blow torching the bottom of the glass and stamping it with our initials.

Then they put it in a special kind of oven that cools the glass down at a slower temperature, to prevent breakage. Because of this we had to wait until Monday to go pick the glasses up.

After we finished, Great Waters Brewing Co. from St. Paul had a little informal beer tasting with four of their brews. They also gave away 8 growlers to be filled at their brewpub - we each won a growler! Not that we ever lack beer in our house, but it's still cool that we won!

We had a lot of fun and would be interested in even taking a beginner glass blowing class someday!

Here is the final result:

Mine is on the left and Nate's is on the right. Pretty neat huh? They're good sized and are completely safe to use for drinking out of.

I tell you though, I keep setting the bar higher and higher each year, I don't know what I will come up with to top this for his Christmas gift next year!


You can't make this stuff up

I don't normally blog about work but I have to tell you, there are some stories that are too good not to share.

We (as in Fairview) recently took on building maintenance for the office building that I'm housed in. There are still two "non FV" tenants in the building, but the rest of it is FV related, so it only made sense to stop outsourcing the property management. We took over on January 1st and so far it's been super quiet.

Today I come back from lunch and a meeting to a message from one of the non-FV tenants. She wanted to report that she witnessed two individuals stealing a potted plant from our first floor lobby. She didn't want to confront them, which is perfectly fine, she shouldn't have, but she did observe enough to have gotten a vehicle description and a license plate.

So, I told my boss about it and she had me call it in as a report to the police department. While it isn't a huge deal, it has happened here before and being that we had some description of who might have done it, it seemed valid to report as a theft.

I was transferred several times when I called the non-emergency police line and gave my story every time, feeling my cheeks blush because it really sounds ridiculous. And one of the people who picked up when I was transferred was already laughing when she said hello. Thanks City of Fridley workers, you're awesome. *Big Fat Raspberry*

Seriously though, I don't blame them for laughing. It's just the stupidest sounding thing ever. "I'd like to report a stolen plant."

No sooner than I hung up with the police then the front desk from the clinic called, a patient noticed a vehicle with an odd smell out in the parking lot and was concerned it might blow up. No one in the clinic was claiming said car. We checked and it appeared to only be leaking anti-freeze. And no, it's not the car that was reported fleeing the building with our plant.

You just can't make this stuff up.


Another weekend gone by....

...too quickly! Time always flies when you don't want it to. Anyway, it was a decent weekend even if it was too short.

Saturday was taken up mostly with a Praise Project gig, but there was mexican food and margaritas for me and Mr. Nate after the gig, so that was nice. And then we watched a movie, not a great one but it was something. So exciting yes?

Sunday was a little more interesting. Nate went to a movie with Ali and I went on a hunt for frosting supplies to assist in my next batch of cupcakes. Then I baked. I made vanilla cupcakes with chocolate icing this time. While the process wasn't quite as smooth as last week's, overall I am pleased and oh my are they tasty. Sweet, but tasty.

Look, I even attempted fancy frosting swirls with my new decorating supplies! For a first go at it, I don't think they're too bad!

I told Nate I probably will take a little break now before I make the cupcakes again, but it really has turned into a fun new little hobby for this winter. It is a lot of work though! I was pretty exhausted by the time I was done. We were lazy and grabbed burgers and fries from out for dinner then. Healthy? No. Tasty? Yes. Just means extra time on the elliptical for this girl.

Next weekend will be fun, we're going to our glass blowing/beer tasting class that I bought as a gift for Nate for Christmas. At the class we get to make a pint glass to take home with us! It should be interesting!

Today started out not the greatest ever, the snow/ice out there is just awful. Took 20 minutes to clean off my car and another almost 20 minutes to get to work. Gross. I want to clean out my garage and park in it. Or tear it down and build a bigger, heated one. Now, where did that Money Tree go again?


More this and that

Well hello winter! Man, is it cold outside! We have been so spoiled by this winter so far, today was hard to take! I'm thankful for my winter parka!

So the consensus so far is that my cupcakes are tasty! I mean I think they are, but my parents really liked them (I consider that high praise with my mom being a pretty master baker) and everyone at Nate's work really enjoyed them too. So, this weekend I might attempt part two if I have time - vanilla cupcakes with chocolate icing. Hoping for the same results!

So I've been playing Scrabble type games with friends on my iPhone, which is super fun, but man, I need to go back to school! I have been getting my behind kicked pretty good so far, but I'm going to keep at it, I need the practice! It's good for me.

Beyond that, there is honestly nothing terribly exciting going on for us at the moment. I am totally OK with that! Fun stuff coming up soon though. For now we're just hibernating. I kind of like hibernating. Just call me Beth the Bear.


Weekend fun

We had a good weekend, it was full, but it was good.

I started off Saturday by getting my hair trimmed. I tell you, I love, love, LOVE my short hair, but sometimes it grows out faster than other times and it just gets shaggy and annoying. So, I feel like I was just in to have it trimmed, but I just had to do something about it. I feel much better now!

We had a gig with Praise Project in the afternoon. Then we went to the roller derby! First time we've made it this season. It was fun, our team lost by only a few points in a very exciting match. I also enjoy people watching at the derby so much, there are all walks of life there let me tell you.

Sunday we slept in, Nate made breakfast and then I set about my big plan for the day - attempting homemade cupcakes. I have been wanting to try making them from scratch for a long time now. Originally I set out to do something much more gourmet than what I ended up doing. I went simple - chocolate cupcakes with vanilla frosting. It was a bit of work, but not too bad and the result was not bad either! I have improvements I can make for next time, but overall I was pleased.

The frosting recipe didn't quite make enough for 24 cupcakes - but I'll double it next time. Well, actually next time I'm going to make vanilla cupcakes with chocolate frosting, but yeah, I'll double it. And once I get comfortable with basic flavors, I'll attempt other kinds too. It's a fun new hobby to try anyway!

We finished out our weekend by going on a little adventure and picking up BBQ from a place out in Champlin that has had very high ratings online - Q Fanatic. And it was amazingly good and worth the drive. We still brought it home to eat it and while it was a long drive round trip, the food stayed warm enough and it was really tasty! I highly recommend it.

So, it was a fun weekend all around!


This n That Thursday

Not much to share besides a little of this and a little of that and hey it's Thursday, maybe a new theme being born? Who am I kidding, I don't keep up real well with my theme days. But here is a this and that post anyway!

~Life is pretty much status quo for us right now and I'm not complaining in the least. We're in a little hibernation mode at the moment with most evenings being dedicated to eating dinner and crashing in front of the TV, but you know what, it's dark and cold outside anyway, so that is what winter is all about!
~We are getting ourselves out of the house this weekend to go to the roller derby on Saturday. I'm looking forward to it, it's actually the first bout we've been able to attend so far this year.
~I have decided on Sunday I am going to bake cupcakes. From scratch. This could be an interesting experiment. Stay tuned.
~My friend Samara wrote a very thought provoking post, she's good at that kind of thing, about living life with a "Less" approach - it's had me thinking and I am trying to simplify my world a bit. Read her post here, it's worth it.
~My friend Stef had her baby on Tuesday! Baby A is super adorable and is a pretty big girl, 9 lbs 4 oz. I was fortunate enough to spend my lunch break visiting them yesterday since she was in the hospital near my office. Pretty nice use of my time I have to say!

That's pretty much the view from here! Looking forward to coming events in the next couple of weeks, oddly that all revolve around beer. More to come on those!


Car woes

So I think it's time for me to go on another shopping ban. Not that I got out of control after my last one ended, but with Christmas shopping, after Christmas sales and what not, my spending was up a bit in December. And I have a motivation to curb my habit again - my car.

I love my car, I truly do, but I did buy it used and I have already owned it for close to five years (which is mind blowing to me sometimes) and sadly, there are some bigger things that need to be done to it sooner rather than later.

Of course, my father in law and Nate would usually be the ones to take care of these things, but my father in law is now retired, so we're on the hunt for a new mechanic. We used to take cars to a family friend, but that is not an option I'm considering after my dad had a falling out with said friend. So, the hunt is on. Thankfully I've been given a couple of good suggestions, so I have options, now I'm going to call up a couple of them to see who has the best price for the job.

I do wonder just how much work I really want to put into the car or if I want to save my money and work towards buying something else, but I figure I'll at least start on some of the repairs.

If it's not one thing it's another, that much I know! I am really wishing I had that Money Tree in my backyard!


Meat. It's Whats for Dinner

We're big carnivores at our house. I have no shame. It is just how we were both raised, big meat and potato kind of families. Pork, beef, chicken, you name it, we eat it.

We've been on a quest lately for a different meat market. We used to go to one in Northeast Mpls for a very long time and my mom still goes there, but some of the cuts of various kinds of meat we've had from there lately have not been as much to our liking. So we're shopping around. We do buy some meat right at the grocery store, but it's always better when it comes from a butcher.

This weekend we went to Von Hanson's. They have several locations in the area. Ali actually introduced us to them a couple of years ago because there is one near her house. I remember the meat she cooked from there being really good, so we decided to finally try it for ourselves. So far, it's been pretty good. We grilled some steaks from there on Sunday. I think they would have been better had Nate not had an unpreventable grease fire on the grill though. We also tried their bacon and we have some hot dogs too.

But, we're looking into other places as well. Found some reviews online of a couple of meat markets that were pretty positive and they aren't terribly far from our house, so we'll give them a go as well. I'm not sure just what Nate is looking for in this quest, but it's fun to try stuff out!

It's a long shot, but any of you MN peeps have a favorite meat place you like to go? Just curious, if so, leave me a comment.

A long time ago Nate and his friend Matt decided there needed to be a National Meat Day holiday and even declared a day to be said holiday, though I wouldn't be surprised if it already existed. I have some friends whom I love and respect a great deal who are vegetarians and I think that is truly awesome. But I can't help loving me some meat!


Marching on into 2012

And just like that the holidays and my vacation time are over. Poof. I knew it would go by too fast!

In truth though, I think I made the most of my time off. And I know we made the most of our holiday celebrations.

It's sort of a double sided coin in a way - I'm sad it's all over so quickly and yet, I welcome the return to a normal routine.

Fortunately, there are fun things on the calendar in the coming weeks that I think will make the after holiday "letdown" disappear much faster. Looking out over the next weeks I see roller derby, a glass blowing class for Nate and I that was part of his Christmas present this year and Winterfest. I am looking forward to all of that. It'll make the darker winter days a little less drab!

Again, I make no true resolutions for myself this year other than my wish for every new year - try to take life one day at a time and enjoy each moment as it comes. Dwelling too much on future things just leads to stress and worry, and I want to be present in my daily life.

I guess I do have a few goals which I think are different from resolutions - I want to read 20 books this year. It doesn't sound like that many, but I set out to do that last year and believe it or not, fell way short, even with things like the entire Hunger Games series. I want to run the entire Torchlight 5K this summer. Lofty goal at the moment when the most I'm doing for exercise right now is using my elliptical machine. I want us to take out our new tent we bought off of Woot and actually try out camping.

I have house goals too - we will be replacing the front windows this spring - no excuses, it must be done, we're getting water damage. Along with that, I hope to do the front stairs/brick work in the front of the house. Going to be some spendy things, but the problems are getting worse from not doing these things, so it is just time. On the cheaper side of things, I plan to do some more painting inside, several ceilings and my dining room are on the list. We didn't do much home improvement in 2011 at all, so we're just due. I want to stay in our house a long time and I don't want it to fall down around us!

Maybe I am setting my sights too high, but I can only hope we can accomplish some of these things!

I hope to have a lot of fun too though and that we get to spend lots of time with friends and family and just enjoying the ride of life. I think I can guarantee that I can make at least this goal happen!!

On we go! It will be a good year!