Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve 2009

Dropped Chloe off at Janie & Jim's early this morning and headed North to ring in the new year in Duluth with our friends Brian & Melissa, Derrick & Ellie and Charlie & Katie. Andi and his company are putting on a pond hockey tournament in Duluth this weekend so we decided to capitalize and head up a few days early to celebrate New Year's Eve here. Normally New Year's Eve isn't my favorite because it's always stressful finding something cute to wear in the frigid temperatures of the North and finding something safe to do that's fun for everyone and doesn't cost a ton of money.

So what to wear? Let's play a game of Dress Me.
Here are my options:

A) Black sequin tank, jeans, gray sweater

B) Black dress, gray tights, gray sweater

Are we feeling cute or does warmth trump all? That is the question. (It is only 3 degrees outside right now ...)

Tonight we're planning to go to Hell's Kitchen for dinner and then heading to a towny bar to get our drink on!
Last night of 2009 ... Happy New Year everyone!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


I was going to blog about our fun New Year's Eve plans today, but then I saw this fun QA recapping the year on another blog and thought that'd be more fun. I love these little lists you get on email forwards (I'm a huge sucker for them so whenever it says "who will respond to this first?" always pick me 'cuz I most definitely will)!  So here goes ...


1. What did you do in 2009 that you'd never done before?
I got hitched! Wahoo! To my wonderful husband and very best friend.

2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I can't honestly remember what my new year's resolutions were, but there were probably something like "save more money" and "pay off some bills."  I did better at the latter this year; not just need to work on saving more, spending less. Andi and I have a yearly goal of taking 4 trips a year and we failed at that one -- we only took 3 in 2009.  Truthfully, I usually don't set concrete resolutions because I always have severe panic attacks about this time of year when I realize I forgot to cross things off my life list. So, I set goals for myself and hope to attain them.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
My friend Laura gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. I have a few friends and a family member expecting in 2010 so more babies to come this year. Yay!

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Yes - my great-aunt died in April of this year.

5. What countries did you visit?
Yes we only took 3 trips this year, but we visited Panama and Thailand which are two places on our very large travel bucket list. Two amazing trips to Panama and Thailand.

6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you didn't have in 2009?
I'd like to have a baby (we're being truthful here, right?). Or, more patience for Andi's time at work - be more understanding of his time spent at work and the many tasks he balances there.

7. What dates from 2009 will be etched upon your memory, and why?
January 23 - the day we got engaged.
July 31 - our wedding day.

8. What was your biggest achievement of this year?
I accomplished some great things at work this year in the areas mentoring and sustainability. Also, committing myself to Andi this year has made me put someone else's well being ahead of mine and that's not something I've ever had to do before. Getting married has definitely changed my perspective on life.  And, I've developed a deeper relationship with God this year which is something I'm really proud of.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Not being as fiscally responsible as I should.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Thankfully, Andi and I were both very healthy this year

11. What was the best thing you bought?
We didn't have any big, big purchases in 2009. I'm grateful for all the additions to our house we were able to purchase (or were gifted) through our wedding celebrations. Otherwise, it was things I bought for others - I love giving a gift to someone, watching them open it and seeing their face truly light up with happiness.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My neice Brooke. She's changed so much within a year and watching her learn and develop (start talking!) had been really fun.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
All the negatively and violence happening in our country and the world. Every day I watch the news I'm appalled and/or depressed by the way people treat others.

14. Where did most your money go?
Bills, bills, bills.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Our honeymoon. Thailand was the farthest and most exotic place both Andi and I had ever been. It was scary to be in such a different place, but exhilerating at the same time.

16. What song will always remind you of 2009?
"Lucky" by Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillet -- one of the songs Andi put in the video he proposed with
"Follow Through" by Gavin DeGraw -- it's Andi and I's song and the song played at our wedding

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?
Happier, thinner, richer. I'd say it was a good year, wouldn't you?

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Spend more time with my Nebraska friends. It's so hard to balance time when I'm home with family and friends -- I need to be better about this in 2010

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Complain. Sometimes I get myself all worked up over things that aren't really that big of a deal. And I just need to learn to deal.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
Andi's family the week before Christmas where we had a fabulous time eating dinner, playing games, laughing and opening presents. We spent the actual holiday in Nebraska with my family where we almost killed ourselves driving down in a Winter Weather Advisory (which later turned into the biggest blizzard I ever remember seeing in Nebraska). We had a great time celebrating Christmas Eve at my aunt Cheri's house, opening gifts at my parent's late Christmas Eve night and then hunkering down for the rest of the weekend relaxing, eating tons of yummy food and watching movies.

21. Did you fall in love with 2009?
I did ... all over again with Andi. It's a remarkable feeling to commit your life to someone in front of God and your family. I'm truly blessed to have found him.

22. What was your favorite TV program?
Oooh, too many to count. I love TV too much. I'd say How I Met Your Mother, Mad Men and Big Love.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
Nope. Hating people is so 7th grade.

24. What was the best book you read?
Omnivore's Dilemma all the way. This book truly changed the way I view our food system and the things I put into my body.  Other good reads of 2009? Water For Elephants and Chelsea Handler's Are You There Vodka, It's Me Chelsea and My Horizontal Life.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Musical discovery? I feel like this is where I would say I taught myself to play the guitar or something. My greatest musical discovery is that name dropping albums I want magically makes the songs appear on my iPod (thanks Andi)

26. What did you want and get?
A wedding ring. Also for my parents to come up to Minnesota more (which means we had to drive down there less)

27. What did you want and not get?
Actually, nothing really comes to mind. Other than a Volvo S40.

28. What was your favorite film of 2009?
I'm not really the kind of girl who swoons over movies and watches them over and over again. But if I had to choose one, I'd say Forgetting Sarah Marshall or The Hangover.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 28 in 2009. I love birthdays and always wanna do them up big so we invited a few of our friends over to celebrate. That was the night my rolling pin was violated by Andi's friend and a black magic marker. We'll just leave it at that.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
An infinite volume of wealth. Otherwise, my year was pretty darn good the way it was.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept of 2009?
I hate fashion - it's so much pressure to look cute and skinny and trendy. Truly my fashion sense in 2009 (and my ideal really) is flip flops, jeans and a comfy tee. Oh, and I like scarves this year too.

32. What kept you sane?
My girlfriends and my mom. I read this quote by Jennifer Gardner the other day which I find appropriate "I don't care how much Ben works as long as I have girlfriends to bitch about it with." Also, my blog. I started Live Inside My Bubble in April and it's been a great outlet to write about all the crazy things floating around in my brain.

33. What political issue stirred you the most?
The economy. I'm fortunate Andi and I have good job and a beautiful house over our heads. But there are so many people out there who do not and it breaks my heart.

34. Who did you miss?
My neice Brookie. It's hard watching her grow up from a far. She changes so much each time I see her

35. Who was the best new person you met?
I developed two great friendships with Julie and Val this year for which I'm very thankful.

36. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009.
Seriously committing myself to marriage this year was a big life lesson. It's no longer about me anymore and I'm not the only one calling the shots in life. This has truly taking some getting used to on my behalf, but it's also exciting to have someone share my life with. We're building a life together, actually, and that's an amazing thing.

37. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
"If you liked it then you should have put a ring on it" Beyonce

Monday, December 28, 2009

Annual Report

2009 has been a year to remember ... so I thought I'd do just that: reminisce all the great things we accomplished this year.

23rd - Andi proposed (finally!) in Duluth, MN. We drove up for a quick weekend away and stayed at the Beacon Point Inn, right on Lake Superior -- the very spot he asked me to be his wife. The next day, he treated me to a breakfast and a spa day.

29th - Embarked on our favorite trip to Panama. We traveled to Bocas del Toro, Boca Chica, Boquete and Panama City. It was our favorite trip (so far!). Can't wait to go back someday...

13th - My birthday! We hosted a little shindig at our house to celebrate. It got a little crazy when the sambuka shots started flying and my kitchen utensils were violated with a black magic marker. Thanks P2.

14th - We celebrated Valentine's Day by registering for wedding gitfts at Target and Bed Bath & Beyond. Let's just say we were beyond exhausted by the time we finished. Then we settled in for a date night at home with dinner and a movie.

23rd - We started marriage classes in March to prepare for our upcoming wedding. Spending an hour or two at church talking about our relationship and our future together turned out to be one of our favorite things to do together.

27th - Andi went on a 'guy's weekend' ski trip to Vail, CO with some of his closest friends. Oh how life has changed in the last few years ... all the boys are growing up, getting married and having babies. Ahhh...
3rd - My best friend Ashley came to Minneapolis to scout out bachelorette party sites and do a little wedding planning. Ashley, Val and I had a great time shopping around St. Paul and catching up on girl talk.

12th - Happy Easter! We spend Easter 2009 in Nebraska with my family and were lucky enough to have Andi's parents, Janie and Jim, spend the holiday with us. Our seven hour car ride to Nebraska was definitely a memorable one (the mental image of Jim riding in the back seat without his shirt on comes to mind!). Overall, we had a great time as one big happy family.

17th - My little brother Adam graduated from high school in May. I'm 10 years older than he is, so times like this make me realize just how grown up we're all becoming. Andi and I drove down to Nebraska to celebrate with Adam and the family.

30th - My parents moved into a new house over Memorial Day weekend. Now that all their chicks have flown the coop (we'll the last little chickie is still hovering for now), they decided to downside to a smaller, more manageable duplex. Brookie had a blast in the new house, running from empty room to empty room.

20 - Bachelor and Bachelorette Parties for Andi and I. The boys went to Northern Wisconsin to a friend's cabin to do, well, the things boys do. My friends hosted a bridal shower for me at my friend Julie's house, followed by an evening of Girls Gone Camping in Lino Lakes, MN. While my bachelorette party may not have been as crazy as the boys', I had the perfect time hanging with my girls, drinking Pink Panty Pulldowns and laughing til the sun came up.

28th - My aunt Cheri and cousins Jen and Jes hosted a bridal shower for all my Nebraska friends and family. The party was held at the Black Crow which was a very fancy! We played games, ate gourmet desserts and opened presents.

4th - Andi and I celebrated Fourth of July in Brainerd, MN with Derrick & Ellie, Brian & Melissa and Adam & Jane. We had an absolute blast - boating on the lake, fishing, watching fireworks and cooking dinner in our luxury cabins. A definite must-do for 2010!

26th - Andi's family hosted a bridal shower at his cousin Laura's house. It was really fun to celebrate our upcoming wedding with Andi's family - just in time for Lindsay to make it home from Colorado!

31st - We're married! We had the most magical wedding day which took place at the Noerenberg Gardens in Wayzata, MN. Following by a dinner at Northcoast Restaurant.

2nd - ....and off to Thailand we went for our two-week honeymoon. Our honeymoon was more than we could have imagined as we visited Bancock, Phuket, Ko Samui and Ko Tao. Had Andi not come down with the worst bacteria infection known to man ... it would have been the perfect trip. (darn foreign country food/water).

15th - Andi's dream came to fruition in mid-August when he started his own advertising agency - Six Speed. What would prove to be tons (and tons!) of work, would also make him the happiest he's been in years. So proud of you honey!

12 - And so it begins ... the inaugrual University of Minnesota Gopher football season at TCF Bank Stadium which would, in fact, take over my entire life this fall. Coupled with fall opening on campus and Andi's new company Six Speed, we barely spent two minutes together in September.

10 - Andi and I hosted a wedding reception for all our family and friends in St. Paul, MN. We call that weekend "wedding carnage" -- it was so much fun to celebrate with everyone .... so much fun that we may have had a few too many cocktails to celebrate. Urgh. Definitely a night to remember!

24th - Andi and I went to Nebraska in late October to go to a Nebraska football game and spend time with our friends Ashley & Neal. We had a blast tailgating in the freezing weather, playing games and watching football with our friends Ash & Neal and Val & Brionn.

3rd - I had the opportunity to visit Charolettesville, VA for a sustainability meeting. Never has a work event changed my life more than those days. We had the chance to visit a compost site and local farm where we got up close and personal with a few four-legged heffers. Very cool!

20th - Andi suprised me with a long weekend trip to NYC. We've both been there for work, but never for play so we visited all the tourist-y sites and enjoyed spending some much-needed time together after a very busy fall season.

26th - Andi and I celebrated Thanksgiving in Minneapolis this year. Janie, Lindsay and I made the entire meal together.  We started some great family traditions with many more Turkey Day's to come!

12 - We spent Andi's birthday at home this year - a first for both of us in our time together. While we didn't visit an exotic country or sing Happy Birthday laying on a beach somewhere, we did celebrate by stuffing Andi full of crab legs (his favorite).

23 - Christmas in Nebraska this year! Despite treturous driving conditions, we made it safely to and from Nebraska to celebrate with our family. Like us, it sounds like just about everyone was snowed in for the Christmas Day blizzard of 2009.
2009 was a happy, memorable year for us ... here's hoping 2010 brings more of the same!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The city skyline never looked so good...

We finally made it back to Minneapolis tonight after a long 8 hour drive from Nebraska. We had a great holiday with my family back home, but are sooo glad to be back tonight. Mostly excited to sleep in our own bed tonight - our bodies are far too old to sleep on an air mattress any longer we've decided. The roads were much better on our drive home today, which was lucky since Andi came down with the flu yesterday. He still wasn't feeling well today so I drove part of the way home. I wouldn't have been very comfortable doing so had the roads been as icy as Wednesday.

Top 2009 Christmas memory? Brookie opening her kitty cat present from Santa Clause. We haven't laughed that hard in a while! It's so fun to have a little one at Christmas again - can't wait to add a few more to the bunch :)  If you haven't seen the video of her opening Kitty, click on the post below.

Merry Christmas everyone! Can't believe we're heading back to work tomorrow...already. Good thing another long weekend is on the horizon.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas 2009 - Nebraska Style

Andi and I left for Christmas in Nebraska on Wednesday afternoon against the advice of many weather forecasters. Nebraska and the entire Midwest were set to experience a nasty blizzard on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. It took all I had not to throw myself on the floor in a toddler tantrum at the very thought of not being able to make it back for Christmas. Andi and I alternate holidays with our families so it'd been two years since I was home for Christmas and I already had my mind set on going. So, we left the Twin Cities at Noon and headed South for what was sure to be a long drive. The roads got progressively worse as we drove into Iowa. About half way there, we saw a rollover accident on Interstate 35 South. We and twenty other cars were the first to arrive on the scene and jumped out to help the stranded driver, pinned upside down in his truck. A few minutes later, the police arrived and told us to continue on our way. It was a pretty graphic scene which reminded us to continue driving slowly on the clear sheet of ice. We pulled into my parent's hometown about 9:30pm that night - thankful to have made it safely.

Thursday was Christmas Eve. My mom had to work all day, so Andi, my Dad and I made appetizers for our family Christmas Eve celebration at my aunt Cheri's that night. It snowed all day long; the weather was pretty wicked by the time we left for church that evening. Some of the churches even cancelled their Christmas Eve services in the area. After church we went to my aunt's house for food and presents. Then we came back to my parent's house to open our family presents. Brookie was still wide awake so we decided to do Santa Claus then too. We had such a great time watching Brookie open her presents. She really understood what it meant to open presents this year and was so excited by every present she opened.

Andi made a video of our Christmas celebration. See below to view:

Mentgen Christmas - 2009 from Andi Dickson on Vimeo.

We leave for Minneapolis tomorrow morning. The interstate's been closed all weekend so hopefully it's open for business tomorrow and the roads won't be too bad.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Birthday Chloe!

Five years ago today, my little pooch Chloe was born. I feel like such a proud parent today - I can't believe she's so grown up already.  Seems like just yesterday I went to a small little town in Western Nebraska to pick out a little Yorkie puppy. I lived in a small apartment in Sioux Falls, SD at the time (which didn't allow dogs!) but I wanted one so badly and thought she'd be small enough to sneek her in. When I arrived at the house, this little black puff ball was so friendly and active - I knew she was the one I wanted.
In February she was big enough to take home. Chloe weighed about a pound when I got her; she was the size of my hand and was so tiny and scared. She become my little sidekick, traveling around North & South Dakota with me for my job and making many trips to Nebraska to see my family. Eventually we left South Dakota together and moved in with Andi. He wasn't so fond of her at first (it was mostly the not listening and accidents on the floor that turned him off!). And Chloe wasn't so fond of all his rules. But now ... we're a big happy family.

A few pics of Chloe throughout the years ...

Summertime Boating

Dreaming of shopping ...

Favorite summertime place - sunning in the backyard!

The time Andi took Chloe to get her haircut ...

Chasing squirrels in the park

Sitting pretty in Grandma's chair

Christmas Puppy

Happy birthday little girl!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Holiday Reflection

This year more than ever, I'm overwhelmed by the spirit of giving. It seems everywhere you turn, people are pulling together to help those in need. Yesterday I was listening to the radio and heard a story about a pregnanct mother undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer. She's a wife, mother to three other children and working to support her family. I wept as I listened to this story, realizing how difficult life is for some this holiday season. Listeners of the radio station donating toys and money to help the mother and her family. While it won't make her sickness go away, it may help ease her pain this holiday season. Today I heard another story about a cabinet maker creating doll houses for children in their community. The business is experiencing a slow season due to the economy and in an effort to keep its workers busy, the company decided to help others.  These stories warm my heart; realizing there are good people in the world. So many times we're swept up by heavy-hearted news about the war, economy, robberies, accidents or shootings. It's a nice change to hear stories about neighbors helping neighbors -- something that'd be great to hear about all year around, not just at Christmas time.

This year, Andi and I picked three causes to support for Christmas. First, we posted a Craigslist ad in the 'jobs' section advertising a free Christmas present for a family who needs it. We realize there are parents/guardians struggling with buying gifts for their children this year so we wanted to help by providing toys and gift certificates to help.  We also have a friend of a friend who's suffering this year. Six months ago he had everything - a great job, recently engaged and just purchased a house. Two months ago, he lost his job and shortly thereafter was diagnosed with brain cancer. Andi and I decided to send him an anonymous donation to help with bills, etc. Lastly, we decided to make a donation to the Ronald McDonald House. I volunteered there earlier this year and was really moved by all the children staying there who, despite their failing health, were upbeat and loving. Hopefully our donation(s) will help those less fortunate this year.

It's all these things that make me realize how fortunate I am. While others struggled through this year, I was lucky enough to have a good job, live in a great home and to have married my best friend. Here's hoping for a happy and healthy 2010.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas 2009 - D Family (part 2)


We continued our Christmas celebration with Andi's family by going to church together on Sunday morning. Andi's parents attend a different church than we do, so it was special for Janie, Jim and Lindsay to attend our church service with us. After the service, we drove to Andi's parents' house for dinner and gifts. Here are a few snapshots of our present extravaganza!

Janie & Jim's Christmas Tree

Opening gifts

Santa brought Chloe a new collar

I got a new apron in my stocking!

Mmmm...Santa brought me Diet Coke too

Guess what Chloe got from Santa? A USPS outfit which matches Papa Jim's work uniform! Spoiler alert: Chloe's gonna be a mail-dog for Halloween!

Andi and I decided to split up our Christmas presents for each other - give half of them at his family's Christmas; half at my family's. I've been hinting around for months how much I wanted a new camera for Christmas. Sure, my camera takes photos okay ... but it also smells like fire and emits smoke when you use it! It's definintely time for a new one. I was so stoked to open a new Canon SD780 IS from Andi on Sunday!! We all know Andi's a tech guru and he did all the research to find the perfect camera for me. I can't wait to use it this week in Nebraska.

Lindsay got some new fancy boots

We gave Jim a new watch for Christmas. He'd been wearing the same one for about seventeen million years. He said he wanted a digital clock with leather band .. and it just so happens they don't really make those anymore! Andi had to research pretty hard to find the Timex watch we gave him. But he loved it - so it was completely worth it!

Janie got an Aveda book

Lindsay got a new camera too!

The last gift I opened was from Janie and Jim. I ripped open the heavy box and saw a new KitchenAid mixer! How exciting - it wasn't something I asked for because I know how expensive they can be, but something I've always wanted. Janie said she wanted me to have one so I can use it throughout the years and always remember receiving it the year we started our family. Ahh, how sweet is that?

Andi got a new drill

A tired little pooch after a long Christmas day
The forecast is calling for one heck of a storm Wednesday - Friday so here's hoping we don't get caught in it on our way to Nebraska!