Saturday, November 28, 2009

O Christmas Tree

For those of you who rolled ot of bed in the wee hours of the morning to participate in Black Friday - I hope you found awesome deals that made the cold and crowds worth it. I myself did not partake. I'm not sure you could ever find me at a Black Friday. It's just not worth it to me. A: I think it's too early to decide what I'm buying for my friends and family and B: throwing elbows and ramming carts into others to wrangle the last DVD player is not something I"m willing to do. I'd rather pay extra for it. 

Instead, my day-after Thanksgiving tradition is decorating for Christmas. Every other year, I share this tradition with my parents in Nebraska (when it's our year to Celebrate Thanksgiving in Nebraska and Christmas in Minnesota). It's one of my favorite things to do with my mom and dad - we spend all day listening to Christmas music and pulling out childhood tree ornaments, antique Christmas tree displays passed down for generations and telling stories about where each item came from.

On Minnesota Thanksgiving / Nebraska Christmas years, I spend the day-after Thankgsgiving decorating my own house. I try to follow the same traditions (listening to Christmas music, reflecting on where each decoration came from) and it takes me ALL DAY to finish. Andi doesn't like to decorate (so I don't make him) but I can't wait for the day when I have a houseful of little ones who'll also help in the decorating!
I simply cannot wait to decorate for Christmas and I'm one of those who leaves their decorations up until February. I just love the warmth and happiness Christmastime brings all of us.

Here's a few photos of my little girl Chloe and our home ready for the holidays:

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Turkey Day 2009

Thankful for good family. We spent thanksgiving this year with Andi's family. Andi's mom Janie has been saying for weeks that my sister-in-law Lindsay and I were doing all the cooking. So we showed up at 9:00am this morning, pulled up our sleeves and put on our aprons to cook! Luckily, we have the very wise instruction of Janie, Andi's aunts and grandma.  Here's a few photos from our day. Hard to believe that after weeks of planning and six hours of cooking ... it only took 20 minutes until bellies were full and all the caos was over!

Chef Lindsay
We made dressing from scratch ... Lindsay's sauteing celery and onions

Stirring it all together
(with Janie's careful direction)

Judy and Janie chopping the bread for the dressing
Lindsay and I had great Turkey Day teachers!

Lindsay and Grandma

Who cleans the turkeys?
We play Rock, Paper, Scissors

Ha! I won - thank goodness!
(sorry Lindsay)

The dressing's coming together!

Brave soul Lindsay cleaning the turkeys

Food's in the ovens ... now we wait

We gained a little helper
Kiera came to cook (pictured here with her grandma Judy)

All the cooks together!

Our golden turkey - looks good ladies!

The feast!

So much to be thankful this year. Giving thanks for my parents, family and friends. Thankful for my husband and my new extended family. Praise God for I have been truly blessed!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

What I'm thankful for

My husband's the greatest.
Sometimes in the midst of life I forget how good I have it. And then other times, it hits me like a ton of bricks: I'm the luckiest girl in the world.

Andi's my best friend.
He's hansome, killer smart and makes me laugh like no one else does. We've been through a lot in the last 3.75 years ...
  • 1 dog
  • 2 houses
  • 2 boats
  • 3 sofas
  • 8 cell phones
  • 8 cars
  • 2 remodeling projects
  • 10 vacations
  • ... and our wedding
But one thing's remained the same: we're still as good together as the day we met on Denver's 16th Street Trolley.

It wasn't always like that for us. We've both been in other relationships where the going always seemed tough. And until I met my husband, I didn't realize there was any other way. It shouldn't be that hard - loving your best friend, your husband should be the easiest thing you do. Sure - everyone has their ups and downs. The best part is having someone who loves you unconditionally, despite those not-so-shiny moments, to ride that rollercoaster with you.

So, to my husband I say: Happy first holiday together as a married couple! May we celebrate many, many more holidays together. I love you always.

Monday, November 23, 2009

A fear in the night

We arrived home from our weekend trip to NYC last night around 10:30pm. Came home, checked the mail and each took a shower after a long, but very enjoyable weekend.  More about the NYC trip and a few pics to come later ...

I let Chloe sleep in our bed last night because I missed her from the weekend. There's nothing like snuggling up in your own bed after being gone for a few days. And that we did. 

At about 3:30am, Chloe perked up and started to growl at the end of the bed. I nudged her a few times to make her stop, but she continued for a few minutes more. Finally Andi woke up and yelled for her to stop. (Chloe does this sometimes when she's too lazy to jump off the bed; she wants you to lift her down ...which is annoying at 3:30am). Hence, why she doesn't sleep in our bed Andi would insert here.  But Chloe continued to growl until Andi and I both heard a noise inside our otherwise silent house. We both sat up, listened for a second more, then Andi jumped out of bed (in his underwear!) and checked the back door. Nothing. Then he walked through the dining room toward the front door before running back into the bedroom.

"Get ready to call 911," he shouted as he grabbed some pants out of the hamper.

OMG. What the hell is happening? I grabbed Chloe and my phone, and hopped out of bed to follow him into the livingroom. By now, I could hear a jingling at the front door; someone was trying to break into our house! 

We live in an old duplex built in 1912, which has one main door leading into an enclosed porch and two "front" doors inside the porch - one for each duplex unit. Andi and I own the house and live on the main level; we rent the upstairs floor to another couple about our age. If you can visualize, the man breaking into our house was inside the porch and removing the door knob on our front door.

"Who the hell are you? What do you want?" Andi shouted to the man from inside our door.

The man didn't answer, just kept jingling the door knob from the porch side.

"Who are you? What do you want?" Andi shouted again. In the meantime, I called 911 to report the break in.

The man who said he was looking for Katie obviously had the wrong house. And obviously very, very intoxicated. Finally after Andi yelled for him to leave for what felt like an eternity, the man did.

The 911 operator said they'd send a police officer to our block.  Don't know if they ever found the guy wandering down the street; don't know if he ever made it to Katie's house or if he just passed out on some park bench nearby.

When it was safe, Andi opened the door and saw that the entire outside knob had been removed from our door. A few more minutes and he could have been inside. We do have a dead bolt on our door so I hope (hope!) that would have prevented him from coming in all the way.

Serioulsy though, it was the scariest thing that has happened to us in a while. I was shaking like a leaf; Andi was too (and it takes a lot to get him rattled). By now it was about 4:00am and I was awake. I laid in bed for the next few hours and kept thinking about how much worse it could have been. Or ... how horrible it must be if something really bad like that happens to you. How violated you must feel.

Thank goodness for our little Chloe girl. What a true hero she was for waking us up and keepng at it. Glad it all ended OK.

Friday, November 20, 2009


Sweetest. Husband. Ever.

I was in Chicago yesterday for work and got a text from Andi saying he booked a weekend getaway trip to NYC this weekend!  How nice is that? We're flying out this AM and back Sunday night - perfect amount of time to get out of time and spend some quality time together.

While both of us have been New York City before for work, we've never been for we have plenty to see! Here's a few of our weekend hits:

- Rockefeller Plaza
- Central Park for people watching
- Empire State Building
- Ellis Island
- Little Italy
- SoHo Village
- Eat hot dogs from a street vendor
- Broadway show
- Eat New York style pizza
- Ride the subway
 ... and whatever else we find!

I'll update soon about our adventures :)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

What does it mean to be a wife?

It's been a busy week at our household with Andi and I both working long hours and squeezing in social and church activities. And maybe, just maybe, it could be said that neither of us are morning people.

On most nights, I'm waaaay too tired (or lazy) to clean up after a late dinner. So I leave the dishes for the morning and clean up quick before heading off to work. But the other night I was frustrated after doing laundry late into the evening, letting it pile up on the end of the bed until I had more energy to put it away. Cut to the next morning when I woke up, found the laundry now disfunctionally laying on the floor, shoes under the table, torn up mail laying on the coffee table, tv trays sitting in the living room, dirty dishes on the counter.... and .... welll .... I did the unthinkable in a husband's mind:  I nagged.

It just came out before I could stop it.

"You know it'd be really great if you could help in doing a little cleaning around here." (under my breath mind you...) And this comment didn't sit to well with Husband bright and early in the morning. Door slam. And he was gone without so much as a "goodbye, I love you." (gasp!)

It's all good now. We both apologized for letting stupid, cranky irritations tick off the other. And if a point must be made, Husband even put his shoes away (!) and washed off the dishes after our make-shift dinner last night.

But this begs the question: what does it really mean to be a wife? Does anyone else out there feel it's your primal NEED to do all the laundry, all the dishes, all the cleaning and make sure the house is clean and presentable for your Husband come home to? 

I struggle with this everyday. It makes me feel good to do all these things for my husband, like a good wifey should. What's the answer for 1950's housewife meets busy working wife of 2009? I can imagine this only gets harder with the pitter patter of little feet ...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Seven Quick Takes

ONE: Lovin' the white wine lately. I'm usually a red wine kind of girl, and the last few months have been a complete switch of categories to Gin & Tonics. So believe my suprise when I found myself twisting (yes, twisting) open a bottle of white wine the other night. It could be the stylish wine glasses we got from my friend Ashley as a wedding gift (it's way more fun to drink out of fancy stemware)! Or it may be the two cases of wine sitting in the garage, left over from our wedding reception. Either way... Heather likey.

TWO: Ever go through a stint where you just can't spell? Normally I pride myself on my excellent memory skills and awesome knack for all things English. But lately, I cannot for the life of me remember how to spell simple words like sketch and utensil. What's wrong with me? Too many brain cells killed from the before-mentioned activity?

THREE: Work today was gossip mill central. Whoo-wee! I sometimes revel in the fact that my job is always churning with secrets and inappropriate personal facts being divulged around too many co-worker's ears. And, then again, when it's about's not so funny. Like the other day my HR Manager carried around my a print-out of my social security card in her planner. For a week. Yea, not so cool. Anyway, today there were rumblings of after-football game parties, followed by DUIs and one employee sending death threats to their fellow line worker. Ah, what you hear around the water cooler...

FOUR: Did anyone see How I Met Your Mother last night? Wait for it .... Funniest. Show. Ever. Nothing makes me happier than hearing that show randomly quoted thoughout my day. It's like a secret society or something. Fantastically awesome.

FIVE: Still don't know where we're going on our mini-vaca this weekend. Flights are (of course) skyrocking by the second ... only because we actually have a 3 day weekend to burn. It's like God knows we should be all fiscally responsible with our money now that we've been educated in our God & Money class. Damn the man! Hopefully a good deal pops up by tomorrow. Or, maybe we'll be renting a Red Box movie this weekend ...

SIX: Got the new John Mayer CD from my sis-in-law Lindsay today. Damn it's good. John Mayer takes me straight back to college; reminds me reckless boyfriends and driving around smoking cigars like a naughty teenager (or 20's something year old). Definintely gonna enjoy listening to those songs...on repeat...for the next 157+ days.

SEVEN: In an attempt to save money (fiscally responsible, remember?) I've skipped the last few "you're about due" regular haircut appointments.  Just can't decide if I want to grow my hair out (= save money) or keep it above the shoulders (= easier to deal with). Somebody at work told me a while back I was "hotter with long hair" ... whatever that means. So, what to do? Should we take a vote? (... seriously, post your thoughts in the comments. I need group therapy on this one)!

Monday, November 16, 2009

What to do this weekend ...

I worked a 12-hour day at TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday and therefore have the day off on Friday. After much guilt-tripping on my behalf, Andi agreed to take Friday off too so we could spend some quality time together. So  ... what should we do this weekend?

45% of me wants to use the long weekend to drive down to Nebraska to see my family.
45% of me thinks this is a great chance to travel somewhere new and fun for a long weekend away.
...and the rational remaining 10% of me thinks Andi and I should stay home and twiddle our thumbs because life's thrown us some pretty costly expenses lately. But fiscal responsibility is no fun, is it?

If we use frequent flyer miles and free hotel vouchers we have, we could probably do a trip for a few hundred bucks. We're researching Boston, Sedona and San Diego as cheap options. It's Tuesday night so we better decide soon!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Holiday Baking Party!

Andi's marketing agency, Six Speed, shares an office space with a local photo studio who specializes in food photography. Inside, along with the conference room and offices, there's a large industrial-sized kitchen space with 8 large refrigerators, 4 ovens, 2 KitchenAid mixers, neverending counter space and all the kitchen essential pots, pans, spoons, spatulas and cookie sheets. Think Food Network digs!

One night in passing, Andi mentioned his officemates being cool with us using the space during non-business hours. Lightbulb moment! How fun would it be to host a holiday baking party! A great excuse for all the girls to get together and celebrate the holidays...and get a jumpstart on baking goodies for holiday parties and gifts.

So, like any good lil' host would do, I went to the internet for inspriation. I came across Hershey's Holiday Cookie Exchange Contest (and entered!) where 1,000 people will win all the goodies to host their own party. Click here to enter yourself!

In the likely event I don't win the contest ...
I set a date for my party and invited the girls.  We'll bake up a storm on Sunday, November 29!
I'm asking my guests to email me their recipe ideas by 11/18 so there's not any recipes too similar to one another (the idea is to leave the party with a variety of cookies and holiday treats)!  I'll collect and distribute a shopping list for all my guests (so everyone only has a few things to bring).

Other party essentials I'll provide:
  • Christmas music
  • Appetizers
  • Aprons
  • Hot chocolate & marshmellows
  • Aluminum foil and wax paper
  • Soda / water
  • Wine
I want to create a station or two with fun crafts for everyone to do while we're waiting for all our goodies to bake.  I think I'll supply holiday recipe cards to decorate and take home. I'd love to supply jars and/or tins for everyone to decorate and put their baked goodies in ... but we'll see how much time and funds I have this week!

Have any of you hosted or been to a holiday baking party before? I hope this a new, fun tradition for all my girls! Yay for the holidays!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Eating Veg ... and few other things

Man ... as I peruse my Google Reader I realize I haven't been here in a few days. Life kept happening ... and other Blog Friends kept blogging ... ahh! I'm behind in reading!

Been a busy week at work, I guess. It was awesome to have Tuesday off (since I worked last Saturday) but it made my to-do list PILE UP a mile long and the week fly by waaaaay to fast to accomplish everything by week end. Luckily, Saturday's the last Gopher football game (wahoooooo!) ... which means more of a work / life balance ahead.

I have next Friday off (for working this Saturday) and Andi's also taken the day off too. I'm feeling SUPER homesick lately so I'm itching to pack up the car and the pooch and drive down to Nebraska for the weekend ... but we shall see what next weekend brings.

Tuesday night, my friend Julie and I went to Archivers and attended a calendar scrapbooking workshop. Super FUN! For $15 (reg. $23...I used a 30% off coupon) I made a complete calendar with all the page layouts and embellishments in 3 hours! Isn't that awesome?! One Christmas present done ... check.

Wednesday night, Andi and I went to our God & Money class. I can't believe we only have 2 more classes left! It's a 10-week study and I feel like we've grown SOOO much in the way of our relationship with our church and God. We're planning to join an ABF (Adult Bible Fellowship) in January following the class to continue growing our faith and meeting new people at church. Good stuff :)

So ... my recent triumph?  Vegetarianism.
I've mentioned my recent read - Omnivore's Dilemma - and after nearly completing the book I've decided to avoid meat all together. If you get right down to it, I don't really like meat that much anyway ... except for a sudden craving for a juicy Nook burger on occasion, so it's not THAT difficult of a task. However, after reading the book and learning more details about the process by which food reaches our plate, I've decided I'm not OK with putting processed and antibotic-fed meat into my body. And, in the grand scheme of things, not OK with feeding these foods to my future children someday either. Better to change my lifestyle now than later when I'm busier and life gets all that much harder. Plus, last week I visited a local farm while in Virginia for work which really brought all of this to reality for me. Not that I haven't seen a cow before (hello, I'm from Nebraska!) but actually thinking about what the farmer feeds the cows, who in turn, is feeding us really visualized the food process for me.

It's only been a week....but I'm proud of myself for sticking to my commitment thus far. And, Andi and I have committed to eating more oranically as well to also omit chemicals and pesticides from our bodies. It'll be a change in process over time, but proud of us both for attempting to eat more healthfully and mindfully. Hopefully the end process is us feeling BETTER and HEALTHIER because of the foods we're eating. I'll keep you posted on the progress.

What's troubling about all of this? On Sunday, Andi and I went grocery shopping to stock up on some in-season vegetables and other foods. Keeping in mind the local Minnesota season (can you say root vegetables?) and our new organic diet ... we skipped past all the processed foods and focused more in the meat (for him) and produce sections. Granted, we were at Target but we were ASTONISHED at the little amount of foods for purchase with these ideals in mind. Isn't it sad that mostly what the store was busting with was chips, cereals, pop and crackers? I get that it's Target and not a grocery store. Especially not a specialty grocery store. But still ... nothing? And we wonder why our society is what it is...  So, we went to co-ops and Trader Joe's and stocked up a few grocery items. I get that it's about WHERE we shop, but still....

My new sister-in-law Lindsay is the sweetest. We had lunch this afternoon and afterwards she emailed me a list of great vegetarian menu ideas! Here's a few:
  • Burritos with refried beans
  • Quinoa with black beans (I have an AWESOME recipe)
  • Salads with black beans or chickpeas on top
  • Whole grain english muffins with almond butter or natural peanut butter
  • Morningstar "Chick'n" Patties - great on salads!
  • Morningstar Spicy Black Bean burgers
  • Lots of pizzas with pine nuts/pesto
  • Shrimp ANYTHING
  • Yogurt with slivered almonds and some fresh fruit
  • Portabello mushrooms with goat cheese and fresh herbs on top
  • Fajitas made with portabello mushrooms
  • Cajun style red beans and rice
  • Vegetarian chili (or with tempeh in it)
Now Lindsay ... we all know I don't cook so will you be coming over to prepare these tasty recipes for me? Not so much? Eh, a girl can try...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Currently in November ...

Here's me, currently in November:

Current Books: Back into Omvivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan.

Isn't it strange when things just come together in your life? I grabbed the book on my way to the airport and picked up where I left off in August. The book talked about local farms, specifically PolyFace Farms which is located near Charlottesville, VA. That's only 20 minutes away from the farm we visited for work last week. Very cool, very life changing.

Current Playlist: John Mayer's new tracks and old country favorites like Dixie Chicks and Rascal Flatts. I'm ready to bust out the Christmas music too!

Current Guilty Pleasure: Iced coffee, my new Minnetonka Moccassins and good fall TV

Current Color: Black, always.

Current Drink: Diet Coke, iced coffee and Starbucks VIA

Current Food: Andi and I started a healthy, organic diet on Sunday. Tired of eating (and our bodies feeling) like crap! It's going good so far (...but it's only Tuesday)

Current Favorite Show: Mad Men is over for the year, sigh.  Still into How I Met Your Mother and also getting back into crime shows like CSI and Criminal Minds.

Current Wishlist: New black puffer vest; fake-Ugg boots; a trip to Nebraska to see my family

Current Needs: A tan! Getting pretty pasty looking ... and it's only November.

Current Triumphs: The last Gopher football game is Saturday (yay!) and my last shift at Let's Dish! is Friday. Hooray to more time at home with my hubby and friends!

Current Bane Of My Existence: The Swine Flu. Nervous to get sick since I haven't had a flu shot yet. Eeek! Also for craziness in the world such as the shootings in Ft Hood, TX.

Current Celebrity Crush: Still loving Jon Hamm from Mad Men. Delicious.

Current Indulgence: My new Blackberry is arriving this week. Finally convinced my boss I needed a new one :)

Current Blessing: My family and friends. Our financial bible group which has grown our relationship with God and allowed us to meet some great people in our church

Current Slang: Whatev,

Current Outfit: T-shirt and pajama pants (I have the day off today so I'm a little slow to get moving...)

Current Excitement: (see above) Day off today, woot woot! Gonna clean my house, tan and watch good afternoon TV. Scrapbooking with Julie later tonight. Yay!

Current Mood: Calm and happy.

Current Link:  Looking for a great, cheap trip?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Going Minnesota WILD

Andi scored 4 free Minnesota Wild hockey tickets this week, so we invited our friends Brian and Melissa along and went to the game last night. SUPER FUN! I've been to hockey games before, but never the Minnesota Wild - boy do people get into hockey here!

None of us four knew much about hockey so we spent the majority of the game people watching. Man, was there a lot to see! Apparently, MN Wild pajama pants are an acceptable form of fashion at sporting events. Mullets are also the preferred hairstyle of choice at hockey games. We saw Northern Woods Mullets, Asian Mullets, Ponytail Mullets and Couples Matching Mullets. Mullets as far as the eye could see.  And finally, everyone - I mean EVERONE - wore a MN Wild hockey jersey. I asked Andi why all the girls wore them too (did they enjoy following the sport at hand?). No, they're what is called "puck whores," he said. Ah yes, puck whores. Every sport's got 'em.

Now, it sounds like the hockey game was backwards as they come ... and it wasn't. There were plenty of "average Joe's" there too. However, if you're into people watching at its finest, Wild games are where it's at!

Here's a few pics from our fun night:

Four Great Friends
Melissa, Brian, Heather & Andi

Melissa & I
Mel: Are you a) drunk or b) giving Andi bedroom eyes via the camera lens??

Brian & Andi
The two most metro-males in the place!

Getting all high school bff forever in this one...

Action on the Ice

Now for your viewing pleasure (and because I'm mean like that) ... a few from "people watching at its finest"

The "Mama Biker Mullet"

The "80's Corvette Mullet"

Matching Couples Jerseys ... awwww

The perfect look:
High heels, leggings and a Wild jersey for her;
full body camo for him.
Sadly, the full camo guy looks just like an ex of mine (I puked in my mouth a little bit when I saw this)

[don't mind Mel drinking her beer in the middle of this photo ...
it's hard work taking secret What Not To Wear Photos]!

OK, just so you don't think I'm a complete biotch ...
here's an embarrasing one of me...
mowing down a big box of popcorn (thanks for capturing this one Andi)

Final score: Minnesota Wild 3 - Dallas Northstars 2. Way to go home team!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Compost, Cows and Farm Troubles

Today was another awesome day in Charlottesville ... except for a little drama-for-your-mama, crazy moments.  After sitting in work meetings this morning, our entire work group (about 20 sustainability advocates for our company) boarded a charter bus to view composting, farming and local foods operations in the vicinity of University of Virginia. Essentially, we were watching the process from farm to table (except backwards based on the way we toured the sites).

First - we stopped at one of the campus dining halls to view the back-of-the-house composting operations. Workers collecting leftover food waste and collected it into compost bins.  We then boarded a charter bus to Panorama Pay Dirt, a local farm which composts food waste from University of Virginia dining.  While I've seen composting operations before at my own campus (U Minn), I hadn't had the opportunity to hear from the farmer's mouth about the experience of composting. It was really motivating to hear his passon shine through.

Here's some pics from the compost site:

Can you see the steam rising off this compost pile? That's how hot it is! Incredible.

Next, we boarded the charter bus in route to Wolf Creek Farms, about 20 minutes down the way. This is one of the farms Univ of Virginia Dining purchases their local, grass-fed beef from. Farmer John was so nice and very interesting as he talked about the process of raising cattle for slaughter and the land life cycle (he's really a grass farmer, he said). If you've read Michael Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma, you know exactly the type of farm I'm speaking of. What a moving experience!

The farmer loaded us onto a hay rack ride and drove us up one of his hills where some of the cows were grazing. The cows were super friendly and came right up to us (I think they're used to workers being near them). The funniest (or not so funny) story he told us was about the heifers. Every heifer is expected to birth a calf every year. If she doesn't get pregnant one year, she's sent to the slaughter house. Tough life, huh! The bulls are also fed the crap hay because they don't want them to get too fat - the fatter the bull, the more impotent it is (true to humans too, right?). There were so many more stories he shared with us about the differences between corn-fed and grass-fed cattle. What an amazing experience to have the opportunity to see first hand, absolutely amazing.

Check out a few photos from Wolf Creek:

The hay ride up the hill to the grazing cattle

As we drove up the path, all the cows wandered our way to see who was stopping by

The hillside - look at all the beautiful trees!

One of the cows in the lot - look how close she came to us! No fear ...

After we left Wolf Creek, we headed to one last farm near the Univ Virginia campus. We toured the grounds of an estate someone left the university. Upon leaving, we drove the charter bus down the steep hillside only to arrive to a gate which was LOCKED. Our bus driver got out and investigated, then slowly backed up the charter bus UP the hill, in the pitch dark. Half way up, he attempts to make a three-point turn in a roadway. I'm sitting in the very front row and all I could see is the VERY STEEP drop off the side of the road where I was sure our bus was headed. After about 20 minutes, he accomplishes the turn and we're on our way. .. ... .. To only arrive at another gate. Another STUPID gate. Another STUPID gate which is standing in the way of us all having 30 precious minutes to ourselves at the hotel before dinner to clean up after being on farms and compost piles all afternoon. One of the coordinators from the campus attempted to call our contact at the farm, but her phone died. So all the local people in our group called EVERY SINGLE PERSON they knew who MIGHT know someone with a key to this stupid electronic gate. And two hours, TWO HOURS, later, someone finally came to let us out of that stupid farm. It was miserable.  So while we waited for two hours, one of the girls in our group stood up and ran to the front of the bus. We weren't sure what the matter was, then she pointed to her neck. She was CHOKING! on her gum. After a few stunned minutes, the lady sitting next to me jumped up and gave her the heimlich maneuver!! It was the freakiest, craziest drama filled two hours on a bus in the middle of nowhere farm. I still can't believe that all happened. 

So...after someone finally arrived to let us out, we headed straight to dinner at a restaurant called The Local and dined on delicous local foods from the Virginia area. All was well, after a very long, wonderful, hectic, crazy day of sustainability tours.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

Had an awesome day today! Still in Charlottesville, Virginia for work meetings, which were a fun mix of history about the town/area and about our company's corporate social responsibility programming (the reason we all came together this week).

We started off the day with a tour of the University of Virginia where we operate 25+ restaurants, coffee cafes and convenience stores on the campus "grounds." I was blown away by the amount of history and preservation on this campus. It's so beautiful! We learned all about Thomas Jefferson, who founded the campus in 1819 and toured the "academical village" where Jefferson built gardens, academic buildings and living quarters for students. There's a room sectioned off where Edgar Allen Poe used to live while a student here and students are still living right next door!

Pic of the campus Rotunda building

After meetings this afternoon, we boarded a charter bus to Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's estate. We spent the evening here, touring the home's living quarters and sitting rooms. I could feel all the history in these rooms - it's amazing to think about all the life that's come before us and all the life that will follow.

Thomas Jefferson's Monticello Estate

I have to admit, I felt a little stupid on all of our tours today. While I learned about Thomas Jefferson as a young student, I can't say I exactly remembered all the history about him. I definintely didn't know anything about Monticello (or had forgotten everything I'd learned in 5th grade). But after today's town tour, I'm all caught up :)

Tomorrow, we're touring a local farm following a few GreenStorm (brainstorming) meetings in the AM. Can't wait!!!

Monday, November 2, 2009

I'm a Lucky Girl

Hello blog friends - first, thanks for all the kind comments, calls and emails re: my rock bottom moment last Friday. It's an awesome feeling to have such a great support system. Last week was a rough one; just one of those valley moments in a relationship used to peaks.  Things are good now, or better at least. Husband and I spent some much-needed quality time together on Sunday and it felt amazing. I missed my best friend.  Can't say things will be better in the short term, but at least we talked about it and we'll continue to work hard at finding that work/life balance.

Yesterday (Sunday) we picked up Andi's new car. He leased a new Lexus si250 - and looks super sexy in it! Here's a pic of what it looks like.

I tried to get him to take a "senior picture" photo leaning against it, just for fun - but not dice.

This week I'm traveling in Charlottesville, Virginia for a company sustainabilty meeting. I'm SUPER excited for this week. I love my add-on Midwest sustainability steward role and am pumped to finally meet all the other reps from across the country. I may have been in the dark on this one, but what a cute little town Charlottesville is! I've never been to Virginia and fell in love with how quaint this town is! I'm looking foward to exploring University of Virginia tomorrow (where our meetings are being held) and learning all about the latest and greatest in environmental responsibility on our campuses.

Plus, what a cute welcome bag I received when I checked in today! I just eat this stuff up - what a nice way to arrive to a meeting. Check out all my goodies(cajun nuts, organic bath products, reusable bags, mugs, and more!

It's gonna be a good week :)