Sunday, August 30, 2009

Melissa's 30th Bday

Saturday was our friend Melissa's 30th birthday. Melissa's all about games and beer (see why we love her?!) so she planned an afternoon of lawn game olympics at a local park, followed by drinks at the CC Club in Uptown.

Check out the pics from her party. Although it was chilly at only 60 degrees outside (and it's August...yikes!), we had a great time with our friends. Oh, and I also kicked butt in bags too. YES!
Birthday Girl Melissa and Andi playing the Frisbee game.
I love the concentration in Andi's face - dedication.
Melissa's friend Blair & I playing Bags

Parking lot bartender. Watch out kids!

Andi enjoying a tasty Twisted Tea

Brian's firing up the grill!

Nick having a smoke (bad, Nick ... bad)

I'm pretending to fight Andi because he's making fun of me :)

Melissa and Brian playing the Frisbee game - you can tell how serious Mel takes games!

Brian relaxing after grilling us all dinner.
He planned the entire party for Mel's birthday - isn't that sweet?

More games...

My bff Julie and I :)

Joe warming his hands over the grill (why do we live in MN, you ask? Damn it's cold here!)

Brian grilling hotdogs and hamburgers for dinner

The Birthday Girl is EXCITED for game play!

Danielle and Melissa playing Bags

It was Danielle's first time playing Bags and she did really good!

Time to go to the bar! Nick packing up the music :)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

When Life Gives You Lemons...

It's been hard to post this week - there's a lot happening in our lives, yet nothing I could talk about. So ...

Andi quit his job on Thursday.
He's going to do freelance marketing for a few clients he's worked with previously.

Breathe in. Breathe out. I said it.

First, I'm so proud of him for doing what he believes in. He's excited about the new challenges and opportunities ahead, and has always dreamed of owning his own business. This is the stepping stone to make his dream a reality. I haven't seen him this anxious (and nervous) about something in a long time.

Second, I'm scared. Have you seen the news? Not exactly the perfect time to solely rely on one steady income. And my job? Ah, my job...I better love it because I can't go anywhere for a while.

I know my Husband will succeed. He always does. Risks are scary ... and they can pay off. Cross your fingers for us; let's hope this one does.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


5 Things ... (kind of a brain dump post):

1. Do you ever read a book or watch a movie and afterwards cannot get it out of your head? While in Thailand, I read the book Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. My friend Ellie recommended it and I loved it! It's about an old man reflecting on his life in the circus. I can't believe this whole circus world existed back in the day. A good read - I totally recommend. And ... I'm dying to go to the circus the next time it's in town.

2. I dropped queso on my computer this weekend and now my quotation button doesn't work. Kinda hard to type now. Not happy about it.

3. New renters moved in upstairs this weekend. Let's call them S & S. They seem nice. It'll be different living with new people upstairs. Can't iron my clothes in my bra & underwear anymore (the girls who lived up their prior didn't mind). They'll have to learn our sounds (like Chloe barking, for one) and they'll have their own, I'm sure. Maybe I'll invite S & S over for a Let's Dish meal to start us out on the right foot ...

4. Did you hear about this? Sometimes you have to read something a few times before it really soakes in ... and this story is one. A Tires Plus mechanic found a live goat in some lady's car this weekend in St. Paul. It was spray-painted purple and gold with a shaved #4 in the side. I love football as much as the next guy, but this is extreme. And ridiculous. I'm still in awe ... shame on her for hurting an animal.

5. FINALLY rented the 4th Season of Weeds. And - I'm - officially - addicted. If you haven't tuned in to the show on Showtime - RENT THE DVD today. It's amazingly good ... and racy ... and delicious.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A Helpful Husband

What a good husband I have!
After working a long day at the new University of Minnesota TCF Bank Stadium, I came home to find a clean house + all the yard work done. Andi spent all day today cleaning and mowing- how sweet is that!? (especially since I know he likes to neither of the above)

Check out a few photos of my cute little house:
Front Yard
Back Yard Left
Back Yard Right
Little Chloe girl enjoying the sunny day

Also ... a photo of the new stadium (concessions level).

Today went relatively well considering it was the first dry run. The first official game is Sept 12. Pretty exciting! College football is here!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wedding Photos - First Cut Professional


Well, a few of them at least. Scott Haraldson, our wedding photographer ( emailed us a few photos this morning. They turned out AMAZING - I really love them. Can't wait to see the rest.
For your viewing pleasure ...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

First Day Back

Third day in a row I woke up at 4:00AM. Thanks Thailand time change - my internal clock's all messed up. Hence, the blogging at 6:00AM. I've already done 2 loads of laundry, ironed my clothes, loaded the dishwasher and put away some more wedding gifts. Productive day so far, don't you think?

Yesterday was my first day back to work since my honeymoon. It was an overwhelming day to say the least. Not because I had a pile of work to do (except for the mass amount of emails I poured through!) - I did a pretty good job of preparing my fall semester start-up materials before I left. But, with only 2 weeks until the Univ Minnesota starts back up, my office is quickly filling with menu boards, signs, training materials and posters. Take a look at what I came back to!

(If I haven't told you before, my office is an old storage room which includes a three compartment and mop sink. I also share it with my fellow Marketing Manager Suzanne and about 20 interns).

The fall is an exciting time with school beginning again. Excited to have the energy of a new intern team joining me next week! In addition, ARAMARK also secured the suite and concession services at the new University of Minnesota Football Stadium - TCF Bank Stadium. We're knee-deep in getting ready for the first scrimmage game which takes place this Saturday. It'll be a busy week for sure!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

We're Back: Thailand in Review

After what might possibly be the LONGEST FLIGHT KNOWN TO MAN ... we're back in Minneapolis. Ah, it's good to be back.

Andi and I left Bangkok Saturday at 5:00AM (which is 5:00pPM Friday in Minnesota), finally arriving in Minneapolis at 6:30PM Saturday (which, if you're keeping track, is 6:30AM Sunday in Thailand). I'm not sure how many hours of travel that equates to be ... but I can tell you the flights were LONG and MISERABLE. Far to long to be cooped up in a small airplane seat!

So, how was it? I give you Andi and Heather's trip to Thailand in review:

Thailand is an amazingly easy place to get around ... that is, once you get there. Domestic flights from city to city average $50/per person so it's a great opportunity to see the entire country without paying an arm and a leg.

Overall, not as crazy as I expected. Every restaurant offered Western and Thai dishes. Although, the Western dishes were usually a crappy version of [insert item here]. Take for example, the BLT sandwich I ordered that came with no bacon or lettuce, but tomato, salami, ham, fried egg and onion.

The traditional Thai dishes we ate were tasty - mostly cashew chichen or pad thai. Almost always, you could customize the spiciness which was nice. Nearly every item included seafood (especially prawns) and since I don't care much for seafood, there wasn't a ton of selection for me.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the best meal by far was breakfast. It never disappointed. The breakfast buffets at every hotel included the traditional cereals, fruit and juices. The great additions were fresh breads, gourmet cheeses and made-to-order omelets.

One interesting note: no traditional establishment (restaurant or hotel) pushed booze at all. Not a big deal to Andi and I since we usually don't drink a ton on trips anyway ... but a far call from the usual Mexican all-inclusive resorts where pina coladas and daquries flow heavily. Thai restaurants/hotels do sell alcoholic drinks but push their fruit smoothies and fresh-squeezed juices instead.

I'd read before the trip that Thai people are gentle-natured and believe in saving face whenever possible. I found this to be completely true - every single person we met was friendly and helpful. We experienced the best customer service while traveling here.

Cheap, cheap and cheap. While airline tickets to Thailand were expensive (about $1200 each), our hotels, food and entertainment were inexpensive. We stayed in some pretty swanky hotels for about $120/night but you could easily find a decent hotel for $45/night. Food was inexpensive too. One night we went to a 5 star restaurant and ate a 7 course meal - our total bill was $100 (including 4 cocktails). Other than that, most meals were under $30.

One tip: Andi used to book all of our hotels. We found some amazing deals on this site, often staying in $400/night hotel rooms for less than $100.

About 30 Million people live in Thailand; of those, 16 Million live in Bangkok. It's the 10th largest city in the world and you can definintely feel it. While the city was built for a large amount of people (equipped w/ underground subway and above-ground train systems), there were also a ton of taxis and buses. Traffic was pretty bad here - especially before 10AM or after 3PM.

In line with their culture and demeonor, Thais kept their cool in the mix of all of this. No horn honking; no running red lights. Everyone seems to get along fairly well in this big city.

As any big city does, there was plenty to do in Bangkok. There were several shopping complexes and hundreds of temples to visit. The floating market on Bangkok's outskirts was one of the neatest things I'd ever seen.

The Southern half of Thailand is beachy and was definitely beautiful. Unfortunately, due to the time of year, the ocean was pretty rough and swimming was not advised. In other parts of the year (Nov-Feb), you can take a speed boat and visit "James Bond Island" or the place where the movie The Beach was filmed. Unfortunately, because the waters were so rough, we weren't able to travel out there.

Thailand had gigantic rock formations which made the beaches unique. While there was little sand, these rocks made the beach worth visiting.

We lucked out with weather. August is the end of the rainy season so we fully expected rain for part of our trip. Fortunately, it only rained for about 20 minutes each day (which was actually nice because it cut the humidity / heat factor). From what we heard, the most popular time to travel in Thailand is Nov-Feb and the weather is even MORE gorgeous then.

While we did have mainly sunny skies, the weather was HOT. About 90-95 each day and very humid. Every hotel we stayed in had air conditioning though so it was definitely manageable.

Yes, Thailand is a third world country ... but I was suprised at how civilized it was. We fully expected to see some crazy stuff while we were there, and really it wasn't much different than anywhere else we'd been. That being said, we were in our hotel room by 10PM every night. I'm SURE we could have seen some craziness if we looked for it!

Our favorite things about Thailand:
- Phuket. It was the perfect mix of culture and beach. Small at 200,000 residents but still plenty to do. We visited temples, sat by the water, dined at great restaurants and stayed in a luxury hotel.

- Bangkok's Floating Market. This was the best "you won't see anything like this in America" adventure we experienced. Not only was it interesting to see the way Thailand people live in their own environment, but we also snagged some good shopping deals too.

- The money conversion. We traveled for 2 weeks and spared no expense (it was our honeymoon, after all) and we still managed to stay within budget. The dollar is so strong in Thailand; we lived it up without paying a fortune.

All in all ... a great trip!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Honeymoon: Day 13

Friday - our last day in Thailand! We hired an English-speaking tour guide for the day named Waudee. She is a Bangkok native who took us to the floating market outside Bangkok (one thing Thailand is known for), as well as the Grand Palace in downtown Bangkok.

Before the floating market, we stopped at a Thai sugar farm. This isn't like like normal sugar we use everyday - it's like brown sugar made from coconuts. Waudee told us how the sugar is made - from a combination of the coconut tree's flower, nectar and palm. The farmer takes a bamboo ladder and a bucket and connects it to the flower of the blossoming coconuts. After the bucket fills, he puts the liquid collected in giant pots combined with fresh coconut juice and ground leaves from the tree. He boils the pot until the liquid mixture begins to reduce.Once the mixture is reduced, the farmer pours the mixture into circular molds and lets it harden for 1/2 hour. Then the sugar is read to eat, or break apart into chunks for sale.
The farm also sold other coconut trinkets and whole coconuts to drink. Andi bought one; the lady grabbed a machete and chopped the top off in a way that showed this wasn't her first time - impressive.
Next, the floating market. We arrived at a pier on the canal and hopped onto a long boat. We drove for about 15 minutes through a local farming community - it felt almost like we were boating through a neighborhood. Andi also described it as a run-down Venice and I'd agree. It was really interesting to float past shacks built on stilts and see regular Thai villagers going about their daily work - washing dishes, hanging clothes on the line. The water was a dirty brown color, yet we saw Thai people washing their dishes in it and water pipes coming and going. They thrive on that canal - which is scary since it wasn't clean in the least bit. The market itself was amazing. Imagine a hundred boats showing up every day to sell food, clothing, bags, trinkets and more to tourists and other locals.Prices are negotiable here too. The vendors have giant calculators they type the price into. You type back your counter. And then settle on the final price.
Inside the market, there was a lady making Thai silk scarves by hand. Very cool watching her go ...Finally, the dreaded Thai bathroom I spoke about in an earlier post. Andi snapped a photo of this one at today's market. It's REALLY hard to go on one of these (if you're wondering, the bucket of water next to the toilet is to flush down your business)
After the market, we went to the Grand Palace in downtown Bangkok. This is where Thailand's first 5 kings lived before building a new palace where the King and Queen reside today. (There have been 9 kings in Thailand's history). We saw several different temples including the world-renown Green Emerald Buddha.
The Grand Palace also has armed guards watching over all the temples and buildings (not sure why since there's no royalty here any longer). They acted sort of like the London guards who stand completely still and don't smile no matter what ... this is Andi and I taking our photo with one.We're back at the hotel now, packing our bags for our 5:00AM flight. Can't believe our honeymoon is almost over! A 28 hour flight ahead before we're back in Mpls. Looking forward to being home ... and reflecting back on our memories of Thailand.

ps...the first thing I'm going to eat when I get to the San Fran airport - queso and chips!