Tuesday, June 30, 2009

New Layout

Inspired by a few of your new blog backgrounds ... ta dah! What do you think of my new blog layout? Change is good every once in a while ...

Monday, June 29, 2009

Compost Update

I have to say, I'm proud of and disappointed in my big environmental purchase...all at the same time.

A few months ago, I purchased the EcoCycle Composter in an effort to divert food scraps and yard clippings from the landfill. By purchasing a composter, I could recycle vegetable shavings, apple cores, banana peels, leaves and lawn clippings and turn them into soil to be re-used in flower pots and beds in my yard. What's more, I would no longer have to purchase potting soil, saving myself cash every spring planting season.

I did extensive research before my big purchase and read customer reviews suggesting the success of diverting a bag of trash from the garbage pail each week! I was so encouraged by this - think of the difference I could make each week!

Here is a pic of the EcoCycle Composter I purchased:

While I benefits of this composter far outweigh the negatives, I wanted to share some of the pros and cons I've experienced in case any of you are intersted in purchasing one:

PROS

  • Appearance: The compost bin blends well with the backyard landscape.

  • Containment of Smell: When composting, you have to turn the material at least 3x a week to prevent foul smells and to help the compost break down. Turning the compost can be a yucky job as materials begins to decompose; fruit flies and bugs are a plenty! The EcoCycle has no odor at all - a big plus. You'd never even know there was compost in there!
  • Ease: Because the composter is on wheels, it's easy to rotate the compost by turning the wheel base. You never have to stick your hand inside to turn the material ... a definite perk!

  • Liquid Compost: Due to the design, liquid from the compost drains into the base, providing a concentrated fertilizer. (Although, I haven't attempted to get the fertilizer out of the base - I'm assuming I'll need some assistance as the composter iteself is heavy and full of soil). This is basically the equivilant of Miracle Grow fertilizer - which saves money and is more environmentall friendly.

  • Lid: The EcoCycle has a latchable lid on top so you can easily watch the progress of your compost. When you're ready to use the soil, you can simply roll the ball to the desired location and dump the soil through the lid

  • Animals Stay Away: The lid prevents animals from bothering the compost. Haven't had any problems ... and that's saying a ton in my animal farm backyard.

CONS

  • The Waiting Game: I starting composting in April, and I have yet to see the fruits of my labor. The compost is breaking down, but it takes at least 45-90 days. Maybe longer depending on outdoor temperature (compost needs to be over 100 degrees to cook)

  • The Diversion of Well, Nothing: In April, I quickly filled my compost bin with leaves and grass clippings from my yard clean up this spring. Because the bin filled so quickly, I had to "close the lid" and let the compost cook down. So, I haven't diverted any food scraps from my kitchen and I'm still sending my grass clippings with the garbage man. Diversion of 1 trash bag per week from the landfill ... yeah, not so much.

  • Cost: The EcoCycle was $150. In an ideal situation, I'd purchase a second composter so I could have one cooking and another to fill up. But, it's too expensive of an investment as of now. Plus, I have a small yard so I can't have composters sitting around everywhere!

Here is a pic of my compost to date. In a few more weeks, I should be able to save this compost for spring planting next year and begin to make another batch of compost. I don't regret buying a composter by any means, I just didn't realize it would take so long to make! All in love for Mother Earth.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

NE Wedding Shower

This weekend was my Nebraska bridal shower. What a great time we had!

My aunt Cheri and cousins Jen and Jes hosted the shower at the Black Crow in Beatrice. We had a beautiful room reserved for the shower with romantic chandeliers, beautiful flowers and flowing tablescapes. Jen and Cheri worked so hard to plan every detail!
Here's a few photos of the day:
The sign-in table where everyone wrote a special note on an apron. What a cute keepsake!
This is a photo of the beautiful "cake" Cheri, Jen & Jes made out of towels ... how cool is that?
One of the games we played. Everyone answered questions about Andi & I such as "who's the better dancer" or "who manages the checkbook." Then Jes and I sat at the front of the room and I held up photo heads when we voted for our answers. So fun!!
My good friends Ashley & NoelMy mom, great-grandma, Janie & I
Opening gifts :)Wedding bouquet made of bowsThis is my great-grandma taking photos with her disposable camera. So funny! Jen the Hostess & IMy best friend Ashley & I
The Hostesses & I (Jen & Cheri)

Playing one of the games
I am so blessed to have wonderful, caring friends and family who celebrated my upcoming wedding on Saturday. Thank you to everyone!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Life on week days DOES exist!

Last night, Andi and I went to an acoustic set our friend Adam was playing at Gastov's in Northeast Minneapolis. We are considered hiring Adam, or one of his band mates, to perform the music at our wedding. (Originally, we'd planned to play an iPod w/ music but have recently decided to go the live music route).

Here is video of Adam playing last night. The show was sooo good. It was also nice to go out on a Wednesday night! Who knew there was life on week days!

Enjoy!


video

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Happy Father's Day!

Last night, Andi and I went to Janie & Jim's house (Andi's parents) to celebrate Father's Day. We cruised over after our last marriage class with Pastor and Janie had a nice dinner prepared for us. Good thing - we were starving after running around all day!

Andi gave his dad a "father / son fishing day" as a present this year. Jim seemed so happy as they planned their day of fun together. After dinner, Jim showed us around his garden. He has such a green thumb! He's growing tomatoes, broccoli, carrots, beets, parsley, celery and asparagus this year. Here's a few pics of the proud farmer with his garden!

I'll celebrate Father's Day with my dad this weekend when Janie and I roadtrip down to Nebraska for the bridal shower. It's one of the hardest things about moving away from home - the inability to celebrate all the holidays with my family. But, it's great to have Andi's family so close - they're my second family and it's nice to celebrate with them whenever possible.

In honor of Father's Day, here's a few reasons I love my Dad:

  • My dad's instilled a foundation of faith in my life. My Dad embodies what it is to live a Christian livestyle and has shown me how important it is to believe in God.

  • My dad has a quiet, heartfelt personality. He's not the loudest in the group or most opinionated; my dad likes to observe and listen and always talks with such a calm, soothing voice. Thinking of him walking me down the aisle on my wedding day brings tears to my eyes... I can't wait to see his face that day. He'll be so proud.

  • My dad talks celebrity gossip with me - how cool is that?

  • My dad is well-rounded. He likes classical music, is worldly (he should have been a history teacher - he has soooo much knowledge), yet he's down-to-earth and appreciates the simple things in life.

  • My dad is one of the most hard-working people I know. He's a perfectionist (we're so much alike this way) and he takes pride in everything he does.

  • My dad's a great grandpa. He's so patient with Brookie. And he treats Chloe like she's the best doggie on earth. He'll be a wonderful papa to my children someday.

  • My dad can fix anything. ANYTHING. I'm not sure how he knows, but he always has a solution to every problem, big or small.
  • No matter what gift I give him, my dad always LOVES them! I bought him Netflix for Christmas and he still talks about how much he loves it!
Happy Father's Day Dad & Jim!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Bridal Shower / Bachelorette

What a lucky girl I am!!
This weekend was my bridal shower / bachelorette party hosted by my best friend Ashley. We had a wonderful time, thanks to lots of planning and assistance from my girlfriends Ashley, Val and Julie.

Ashley themed the party around traveling since Andi and I have visited many places and are going to Thailand for our honeymoon. What a cute idea it was! She made dishes representing several places Andi and I have traveled including homeade salsa (Mexico), Sangria & fruit kabobs (Caribbean) and desserts (Panama). Then next to each dish, Ashley placed photos from each of our travels to those locations ... what a cute idea!!

Here are photos of the invites Ashley made:
A group photo of all of us:
We played a few bridal shower games including one where I had to put a piece of Bubble Yum bubble gum in my mouth everytime I answered a question incorrect about Andi. I had 10 pieces in my mouth! Check out this photo with a huge wad of gum in my mouth:

Then we opened gifts. I got a ton of cool travel stuff including games for the plane ride, an International Ettiqutte book, monogrammed luggage tags and a new tent!

After the bridal shower, we changed clothes and packed up our things for camping. Here's a few photos from evening:

Setting up the tent ...



Grilling hot dogs ...

Ashley & Val made Jell-O shots in syringes .. they were sooo good!

Thank you girlies for a wonderful bachelorette party! It was just what I wanted - a fun, safe night with my best girlfriends.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Pre-Bachelorette

Tomorrow is my bridal shower / bachelorette party! My friend Ashley is hosting the celebration for my closest friends here in the Twin Cities. Ashley arrived into town this afternoon, and we spend today shopping for last minute items for the bridal shower and camping extravaganza.

As Ashley, my friend Val and I were at dinner tonight, I realized how lucky I am to have such great friends. As many of us have experienced, being a part of a wedding is a lot of work and takes a great deal of planning to pull something like a bachelorette party together. I appreciate all the hard work Ashley has put into this special day. I'm thankful to have such a great friend!

Though I'm excited about tomorrow's festivities, I have to admit, I'm a little anxious about being the honoree. I think it's because we all attend so many bridal / baby showers and we always wait for the time when it's our celebration. Now it's my bridal shower / bachelorette and I really want everything to according to plan. And I'm sure it will - it'll be great.

Thanks to all my girlfriends who'll share in this special memory.
Cheers to life as a married woman!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Countdown Continues: From Miss to Mrs.

Only 44 more days until I'm a WIFE!!!
I can barely hold myself together - the excitement is taking over.

Here's my checklist until the big day:
- friend bridal shower / bachelorette (June 20)
- NE bridal shower (June 27)
- MN bridal shower (July 25)
- jewerly ... need to figure how what I'll wear
- steam my dress to rid any wrinkles
- order a wedding bouquet
- final marriage class w/ Pastor (June 22)
- get marriage license

Not too bad, eh? Have I mentioned lately how wonderful a small wedding is???

I've also been contimplating if Andi and I should buy gifts for everyone attending the wedding ceremony. This would include our parents and siblings ... which would equal about 12 people. I'm back and forth on this topic because I want to make a lasting memory for the people in our lives and sending them away with a gift would help them remember our special day. But, in an effort to keep costs to a minimum, I've been brainstorming other options.

I've decided to write a personalized note to each person attending to let them know in what way they've personally impacted our lives. (Haven't told Andi this idea yet, but I'm sure he'll be in agreement). Isn't that what a gift is suppose to be anyway? A thank you for the love and support we've been given individually and as a couple? I think a letter would equally symbolize this feeling - and be more heartfelt.

So, will only 44 days left, I better get moving....

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Be Inspired

This week I'm in Chicago for an annual training seminar.

Yesterday, I gave a presentation on our sustainable initiatives within the organizaton, and provided methodologies for accounts in the Midwest to implement the programming. This was an excellent opportunity for me to speak in front of 150 of the most influencial people in our region and network. Plus, the presentation went great!

To tie it all together, we attended an awards recognition dinner tonight where several managers were recongized for their work in selling new business, retaining business or making a different in the lives of their clients / customers. It was so inspiring to see other people making a difference for the company! I love these meetings for this reason if nothing else - a great opportunity to network and become inspired.

Headed home tomorrow ... bachelorette party's this weekend!!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sunday Funday

Sunday Funday. Another great day at the lake! Andi and I stopped out there after church to meet up with a few of his friends. It was the first day this summer that was truly hot - the kind of day where you're so hot you just want to jump in the lake (and it actually feels good v. freezing!).

Andi owns our boat with two friends, Pat and Brian, and the guys take turns using it. (Which works out well since we're almost always out there together anyway). Today, Pat brought along two of his friends, Michael and Harper. Michael is quite the character - one of those people who's the center of attention wherever he goes. Check out his attire for the day ...

You know the boys were gearing up for fun when they show up with a jug of vodka, 2 cases of beer and a speedo!
This is Michael wakesurfing to Madonna's Like a Prayer and showing off his Speedo moves. (We attrached quite a few looks from passing boats)!

Here's some more pics from the day:
Andi driving the boat ...

The boys hanging out on the boat ...
Andi wakesurfing ...
Before all the boys arrived, Andi gave me a quick lesson in boat driving. I learned how to:
- back the boat out of our slip
- drive through a channel
- pull a wakeboarder (for pretend .. there wasn't actually anyone behind the boat)
- pull a wakesurfer
- make a button-hook (a type of turn best for wakeboarding)
- make a double-up (another type of turn - best of tight situations)
- pick up someone on the dock (this one was tricky ... after about 3 attempts, I had to scoot over and let Andi do it)

There's a lot more to driving a boat than you'd think! I was suprised. But like learning to drive a car, I think it'd come easier after a some practice. (Obviously, as Andi can drive and text from the glove box at the same time :)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Great Day with My Honey

Today was the first day I've seen Andi in two weeks. He's been working on an annual photo shoot for one of his advertising clients in the Northern portion of the state, with little availability for phone or email contact. So, we were finally able to catch up on this gorgeous Saturday!

First, we went to breakfast in St. Paul's Grand Ave area. We discussed some details of our wedding including the day's timeline and reviewed the October reception guest list.
This is Andi enjoying his morning coffee at Coffee News Cafe ...
And me enjoying the morning outdoors ...
This is a hippie lady who was also at the Cafe. SUPER decked out in bike gear. She takes her biking SERIOUSLY. Just thought it was funny, so I had to post ... (sorry lady if you didn't want your picture taken)

Down the street from Coffee News Cafe, we noticed a bunch of funny t-shirts outside a store. Andi liked this one... (I'd have to agree - St. Paul IS where it's at)
Then I saw this Pad Thai Restaurant ... which reminded me, we HAVE to practice eating Thai food before our honeymoon. A small attempt to learn the culture can't hurt as we submerge ourselves into another country far, far away from here. Mental note: come back to this restaurant to give it a try ...

Next, we went shopping down the street at Patagonia and J Crew (where I returned 2 of the bridal shower dresses I'd ordered online earlier this week).

Andi being conspicuous at Patagonia....


Next, we hoped into the car and ventured to the jewerly store to pick up Andi's wedding ring. I am so happy with the jewerly store we chose to purchase our wedding rings. They are so friendly - but not in a "I'm going to kiss your behind because I want to charge you five times as much as this piece of jewerly is worth" way ... more of a "let me shoot you straight" way. A girl like me always appreciates that.

The ring Andi chose is simple and elegant. A brushed silver 5mm band.
(I didn't take a photo of Andi's actual ring, but Googled one similar so you could see what it looks like)
After the jewerly store, we drove to Lake Minnetonka to meet up with our friend's Nick, Julie and their 2 year old son Joel. We had the best time at the lake together! Here are a few snapshots of our time on the boat. (Notice little Joel stealing the show - he's such a doll)!

We have such a great time at the lake. It's one of our favorite places to spend time together.
While we were by the lake, we also stopped by Noerenberg Gardens to take another look at our wedding site. It's going to be fabulous!

Check out this pic of the Colonnade site where we are having our ceremony. The minute I stepped into the circle, my heart skipped a beat. I can't believe I'll be getting married there in 48 days!


There was another wedding taking place at the Gardens this afternoon. Like creepers, we took a few photos of their wedding party ... just to see what it'd look like on our day. Although we're not getting married in the boat house (unless it rains) we might take a few photos in there as well.


Finally tonight, on the way home from the lake, Andi and I stopped at the mall to scout a wedding outfit for him. We stopped at Express and found an amazing suit for him to wear. Originally, he'd planned to wear khaki pants, a button up shirt and flip flops (because he's always wanted to wear flips at his wedding), but I mentioned how hansome he'd look in a casual summer suit instead. (I'd really kick it up a knotch, you know?) As soon as I saw him walk out of the dressing room, my heart melted. He looks amazing in this suit and I think it'll be perfect for the wedding.

Here's a pic of the suit he purchased...sort of hard to tell here, but it's gray pinstripe

Today was a perfect summer day. Ultra-productive. Lots of wedding to-do's checked off the list. Time at the lake with friends - always a wonderful way to spend a summer day. QT with my love - what more could a girl ask for?

Friday, June 12, 2009

I've Got the Fever

Despite my best attempts to keep it a far, I've got baby fever.
Andi: If you're reading, you might wanna turn away....sorry honey, I just can't escape it!

Today I visited a dear friend's house and met her little baby girl who's just a few weeks old. What a beautiful little one! Being around friends and co-workers' babies makes me want my own EVEN MORE than I did before!

My friend's recent pregnancy / birth has made me consider various types of birthing techniques. Her experiences with hynobirthing, doulas and midwifes has opened my eyes to all the ways to have a baby these days. I'm now considering a natural birth as well, which is something I never really thought about before. I feel empowered - like if she can do it, I can do it too! Listen to me ... it sounds like I'm pregnant ... and I'm not... but just thinking about the future.

As Andi reminds me, we have things to do before a little one is considered. And I agree - we do. Wedding this summer (check). Trip to Thailand for the honeymoon (check). Trip to Australia (2010?). And I do want to enjoy time with my new husband. And I will. I'm also looking forward to little miracles someday too.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Hair Do. What to do? (post 2)

Bummer about my bridal shower dresses. I tried all four on tonight and only one fits correctly. The others three are too big ... bummer! Oh what's a girl to do? Guess I'll go back to online shopping!!

ps, the one that does fit will be perfect for my bridal shower / bachelorette next Saturday!

Hair Do. What to do?

The wedding is only 50 days away!
I've been getting really excited for the wedding. I think it's because the bachelorette party and bridal showers are coming up soon ... it's reminding me the day's almost here.

Yesterday, I went to get my hair cut and talked with my sytlist about various hair do's for the wedding day. Since I'm not having a veil with my wedding dress ... and I have short hair ... there's only so many options for my hair. This is the only thing that's stressing me out a bit - I really want it to be something that's comfortable and cute and something that looks prettier than everyday ... and it has to be a style that lasts all day long! (the wedding is at 6pm and outside)!
Here's what I'm thinking:

A sparkly diamond headband
A sparkly diamond hair clip

Or a sparkly diamond clip farther back behind the ear.
(My hair style is more like Rhianna's below ... so imagine a flower or a diamond clip behind her right ear as if it's holding the hair back behind her ear).

By the way, I'm hoping Andi gets me some bling diamond earings like Rhianna's ... cuz that would REALLY pull the look together!

Anyway, I'm leaning toward the last one, but I can't seem to find a picture of what my hairstyle would look like.

So, this weekend, I'm going to visit some shops like Claires, Charlette Russe, and Forever 21 to see if there's a few different hair pieces I can find that are cheap. I'll let you know what I find ...

OK, on to other things...
More wedding details finalized today. I booked a restaurant for our dinner following the ceremony. It's at NorthCoast Restaurant in downtown Wayzata, MN. Right on Lake Minnetonka and not far from Noerenberg Gardens (where we're having the ceremony).

Click here to visit North Coast's website to see the view

Click here to see the room I reserved for the dinner

The room overlooks the water and perfectly fits our wedding party of 15. It'll be great!

I also booked salon appointments for Andi's mom, Janie, and sister, Lindsay. I was hoping for a "all girls get together" but my sister and mom don't want to get their hair done...so I'm not sure that'll happen as I envision. Maybe they can come and watch? We'll see...

I also called Ivy Spa today to book mani / pedi appointments for the morning of the wedding. I'm a little nervous to get a manicure the day of the wedding in case it looks crappy (they always glob on the nail polish which I don't particularly prefer). But I figure a nice polishing of cuticles and moisturizing can't hurt. Lindsay and Janie are in for spa appointments too, but I don't think my sister and mom will be. So, I'm not going to tell them ... just book it and take them anyway :) My wedding day, right?

I just received my bridal shower dresses in the mail today, so I'll try them on tonight and post pics later for you all to see....