Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Feeling domesticated, can you tell?

What to do with a entire bag of organic carrots you just can't stomach tossing out (er, I mean compost)?

Make a yummy carrot cake!

I've never made carrot cake before but Andi's grandma gave me the idea when she made one a few weeks ago.  So I searched for one on the wise 'ole internet and found this one - Carrot Cake III. Ok sure! Something to the 3rd must always be good, right?

I have to admit, baking without my Kitchenaid mixer just wouldn't be as fun. I.absolutely.love.it. It takes all the work (and the mess!) out of whipping together all those ingredients. I love to stand back and watch it beat together all the batters and homemade frostings. What's better, it cuts down on all the dishes because virtually everything goes together into the mixing bowl. It's brilliance, I tell ya. And for those of you who want one - She Likes Purple I hope you get one for Mother's Day! - I seriously suggest pimping yourself out for one (do whatever it takes!). It's THAT worth it.

Here's the recipe if you want to try it out:

• 4 eggs
• 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
• 2 cups white sugar
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 2 teaspoons baking soda
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
• 3 cups grated carrots
• 1 cup chopped pecans

• 1/2 cup butter, softened
• 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
• 4 cups confectioners' sugar
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1 cup chopped pecans


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9x13 inch pan.

2. In a large bowl, beat together eggs, oil, white sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Mix in flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Stir in carrots. Fold in pecans. Pour into prepared pan.

3. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.

4. To Make Frosting: In a medium bowl, combine butter, cream cheese, confectioners' sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Stir in chopped pecans. Frost the cooled cake.

ps...I omitted the pecans because Andi's allergic.
pps...are you thinking about making it? Seriously ... do it already! It's worth it just for the frosting. YUM!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Currently in April

Happy Spring! Here's how I'm feeling this month:

Current Books: I haven't read anything this month. The shame! I stopped reading Taking Charge of Your Fertility until we're a little closer to trying - I was just getting too worked up over it all, like I didn't have any control over the situation. I fell off the Daily Bible wagon as well. Missed 2 months now so I'm going to get back into the habit of devoting a little time to the Lord again on May 1. Start fresh, you know?  I also want to read Animal Vegetable Miracle so those are my May book goals.

Current Playlist: I haven't really listened to any music this month, other than the regular Top 40's radio. I really enjoy my satellite radio in my car so I usually listen to the news channels to and from work. I drove to Dubuque, Iowa this month (5 hours each way) and listened to the news networks the entire way. I'm boring, I know.

Current Guilty Pleasure: Cookies. This month I've had a growing sweet tooth. I eat a sugar cookie almost daily at work and I made these Magic Peanut Butter Middles last weekend which were also yummy.

Current Color: Still loving black. Also digging cherry red and lime green.

Current Drink: Gin & Tonics and oddly enough, milk. Not together of course.

Current Food: Can't seem to get enough popcorn lately. Delicious and a super easy snack.

Current Favorite Shows: We started watching The Tudors this month on Netflix. It's seductively good. I look forward to going to bed every night to watch another episode with Andi.

Current Wish list:
1) A safe and healthy delivery for my friend Julie and her baby
2) Time (and some extra cash!) to plant new flowers in my yard
3) A new wreath for my front door like this one on Etsy. Or I might make my own ...
4) Inspiration for a new dining room table scape. I'm thinking something with herbs in clay pots, wheat grass and candles.

5) A comfy slip-on shoe like these Rocket Dogs

Current Needs: I really need my little girl Chloe to feel better. I'm worried about her - she's still not 100%.

Current Triumphs: I'm feeling really good about my job lately; like I'm making a difference. Had some opportunities this month to assist on a new sales bid (which we got!) and implemented a nationwide Earth Day campaign.

Current Bane Of My Existence: I need to lose a few pounds for the lake this summer. The time has come. I just can't put it off any longer.

Current Celebrity Crush: This month I loved watching Kate Gosselin on DWTS. I have to admit, I'm excited for her new show on TLC to start.

Current Indulgence: This month I bought 2 new pairs of boots and 1 pair of high heels which is super uncharacteristic of me! I love them; it feels good to have a few new pairs of kicks.

Current Blessing: My husband. We have so much fun together - laughing, tooling around town, making dinner together. I'm just so lucky to have him.

Current Outfit: Comfy stuff - zip up and black stretch pants

Current Excitement: We're meeting my parents, siblings and niece in Des Moines for Mother's Day and I'm really excited. Des Moines is half-way for both of us and it'll be nice to celebrate my mom and sister ... and not to have to drive so far to do it. We're staying in a hotel which will be fun too. Can't wait to swim in the pool with little Brookie!!

Current Mood: At peace. I've had a great few weeks living life - cooking dinner, talking walks around the neighborhood, spending time with family and friends.

Current Link: Still rockin' this Twitter thing. I can't tell how I feel about it all yet - doesn't seem as much fun as Facebook. So follow me at liveinmybubble - show me what it's all about!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Chloe Update

I'm happy to report my little girl is finally starting to feel better. After nearly 2 weeks of throwing up and very sparce eating, she's keeping food down again.

On Tuesday, the vet called to check up on her progress. Now I must interupt here to tell you that said vet has really redeemed herself this week. You see, I'm very finicky about the providers we use for Chloe. I once took her to the PetSmart near our old house for a haircut and upon entering the store, Chloe violently began shaking and pooped in the store entrance! As I drug her back to the grooming area, a lady with blue fake fingernails and tri-colored hair grabbed her from me and told me to come back in 4 hours. I never went back. And now we have the most amazing groomer who absolutely loves Chloe to pieces. If they can't see how special my little girl is, well, then they don't get my business. Period.

Back to the vet - well, the vet wasn't all that attentive the last few times we visited. Our old vet in Sioux Falls was so nice and attentive to her; he sat on the floor and talked with her and held her. I envision a vet being a lover of all animals and they must possess all of said qualities. So, I was considering switching to someone new until Dr. Bell lovingly called to check up on how little Chloe was feeling this week. I think this might be unheard of. I mean, she called personally - not a nurse or secretary but the vet herself to see how Chloe was doing. After I told Dr. Bell Chloe wasn't feeling any better, she perscribed her a sensitive tummy dog food. (The same kind that was perscribed to Chloe a while back when she had a similar issue). 

Chloe was thrilled and so far it's working. She gets 1/3 of a can 3 times a day and she practically licks her lips when I open the pantry door to get the food out. Which means Chloe's eating. Which means Chloe's not throwing up.

We still have 2 more cans of sensitive stomach food to get through, and then weening her back to regular dry dog food. Or maybe I'll talk to Dr. Bell about sensative stomach dog food for all the time? We will see...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Composting - 1 year later

Happy bEARTHday Earth Day!

I just love all the excitement buzzing around today about our Mother Earth. I hope there are many people across our planet who adopt a new earth-friendly practice today and make it part of their daily habits. Even the smallest action adds up to make a real difference!

In honor of Earth Day today, I thought I'd update you about my composting practice at home. I started my composting journey about this time last year and told you all about my purchase of the very expensive (but very worth it, in my opinion) EcoContainer. I like how this one spins easily so I never have to reach into the compost pile itself to turn the material.

Here's a few photos of my compost - 1 year later:

(can you see the steam coming off the pile in the bottom right corner of the first pic?)

It's been a trial/error process through the four seasons to learn how to get my compost to break down. At first, I filled the thing up with dried leaves and grass clippings and thought most of it would break down no sweat.

But then I waited. And waited. And waited. And nothing really happened.

I learned you really need a good working balance of carbon (grass/leaves) and nitrogen (food) items, so started to work more food scraps into the compost pile and this really helped to get things moving. I put anything from egg shells to banana peels to leftover food from dinner into the compost. A good rule of thumb is anything that comes from the land (food) or trees (ie: leaves, grass, tree bark, sticks). I avoid putting meat or meat fats into my home compost though to keep animals away.  

The winter was also a bummer in helping my compost prosper. Everything was basically "on hold" until it started to warm up this spring.

Now that it's spring, my compost is really heating up! I'm amazed at how infreqently we take out the garbage now that we compost food scraps and recycle other cans, bottles, newspaper, junk mail, etc. It really does all add up!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Case Closed!

Today I received the most random phone call from my boss.

Boss: "Do you have a black jump drive with a purple ribbon?"

Me: "Uhh, yes. Why?" (as I wondered what my answer should be)

Boss: "Was your jump drive lost or stolen?"

Me: "Uhh, maybe. I haven't seen it for a while. Why?" (now wondering if I'm in trouble)

Boss: "Did your jump drive have confidential or employee information on it?"

Me: "Uhh, no I don't think so." (frantically wondering what was on my jump drive - pictures of Andi and I? Work files? I have no idea. Thanking the lucky stars at this point that I've never made a Paris Hilton sex tape)


Turns out, my 4G jump drive had been recovered by the Columbia Heights Police Department as part of over 100 items stolen in car break-ins over the last few months.

Ringing any bells??? If you'll remember, my car was broken into in February! I told you about it here.

Apparently, the police officer looked at the documents on my jump drive and pieced together some of them belonging to someone within food service at the University of Minnesota. He contacted our University Client (! = whoa, awkward), who contacted my boss, who contacted me.

I called Columbia Heights Police Officer X who basically asked me to describe the items I'd lost the evening my car was broken into. From the items he recovered, I was able to identify the jump drive, my Oakley sunglasses (now sans lenses) and Oakley eyeglasses. I'm not exactly sure how the story pieces together but somehow Officer X has a guy in custody who's linked to a series of car break-ins. Officer X discovered a storage locker filled with the perp's stolen items. More of my items could be found in the storage locker - Officer X said he only grabbed what he thought he could link back to victims.

So, after a dozen phone calls to various precincts around the city, I was about to link my case/police report to the suspect. Not sure when I'll be able to recover my stuff (albeit a jump drive and sunglasses; of course the valuable stuff such as my camera, GPS and iPods are probably long gone). I have to say though, it feels good to know the case is closed. The person who broke into my car is in custody and will pay for what he's done. Yay for good ole' police work!

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Landlord

He asked, Ready to marry into all my debt?"

I said I was.

So is the question my future husband asked me days before our wedding.

Andi's quite the businessman if you hadn't already gathered. By the time we met, he already owned two houses (one in Duluth; one in Eagan) and bought a third shortly after we started living together (the house we live in now). Among the many hats my husband wears: Landlord. In what sometimes feels like a revolving door, Andi balances renters' requests, property updates and occasionally, finding new tenants for our three properties.

I told you here about our duplex in St. Paul. The upstairs half is for rent beginning June 1 so I thought I'd give you a little tour -- who knows, maybe you know someone who'd be an amazing neighbor for us!

The upstairs duplex apartment has a floor plan almost identical to ours, with a few charming differences. When we moved into the house three years ago, Andi and I debated which space we liked better - there's advantages to both but ultimately, we decided the downstairs would be easier with our dog. The upstairs includes a living room, sun room and dining room similar to ours.

(living room / sun room)

The upstairs dining room is beautiful with an original built-in buffet that seperates the dining room and kitchen. I think the buffet adds such a glamourous feel to the space and wish our lower level had one as beautiful.

(dining room)

The upstairs apartment features the original kitchen cabinets, butcher block countertops and farm sink. Which I love - while they're not new stainless steel or granite countertops, the original pieces add so much character to the space. It's been interesting to see what each renter has done with the space - some have made it really cute with a bistro table in the kitchen or a small prep table.


The first renter we had here added a Williams Sonoma pot rack (which we bought from them when they moved out). Adds a nice, modern feature to this kitchen as well.

(kitchen / pot rack)

Ok, onto the bathroom! Through a small hallway is the bath which, again, is a near replica of ours downstairs. The bathroom was updated in 2007 just before we moved in. It features the same travertine floor tiles and the same glass-block window style in the shower. Only difference here is the yellowish coloring vs. our grayish/green stone. Which one do you like better? I do like how bright and airy this bathroom always looks ... although, I love how much dirt our dark tiles hide. Definitely easier on me! :)


Now onto the bedrooms. There's two bedrooms in the upper apartment - same as our layout downstairs - and they're also fairly small. Here's the spare bedroom our current renters have designated. They use it as an office / guest bedroom.

(guest bedroom)

The second bedroom across the hallway is also small. The one huge benefit here though - a walk-in closet (!) that's attached to this room. (It's basically the space above the downstairs enclosed porch so that's why they have this space and we don't). 

(master bedroom / walk-in closet)


The walk-in closet is a big benefit to the upstairs apartment. How many houses built in 1917 do you know that have this awesome feature?! Desperately wish we had space like this in our place.

Onto the outside. The upstairs apartment has its own patio just off the kitchen. Here's the sweeping view of the backyard / alley.

(patio view)
One day last summer Andi and I were having cocktails with the girls (old renters) upstairs. We were up in their apartment and were so amazed at all you could see from their place. See = right into our neighbor's windows, into their backyards and all activity across the neighborhood. It was AWESOME! The girls started telling us stories about the neighbors (things they'd see, things they heard) including our immediate neighbor to the left being somewhat of a "entertainer" during the afternoon. We of course, had never seen any of this activity because we're a) at work during the day (the girls upstairs were both in college) and b) we can't see over our backyard fence. It was all very interesting .... I'm not sure how much was really going on next door ... but sure interesting to hear about!

We really enjoy having renters upstairs and have been very lucky in finding quality, respectful people to live next to us. As I said in my last post - we're looking for renters once again! Our current tenants bought their first house and are moving out at the end of May. So let us know if you know anyone looking - invite them to come take a tour and see our upstairs apartment in the flesh!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Be my guest

The older I get, the more I realize there's nothing like being in your own home. I remember being little and pleading with my mom to puuulease take us somewhere - anywhere - as long as we didn't have to stay home. We were so bored! But now I completely understand her side. After working all week and running around to this and that, all you really want to do is relax at home.

So I'm stealing this idea from Heir to Blair and inviting you into the place I love so much - my home.

Here's our house! Andi and I bought this house in May 2007.

We live in the city - the place we're most happiest - with lots of shops and restaurants and a movie theatre within walking distance from our front door. Our house was built in 1917 and is a top.bottom level duplex. Our original idea when purchasing this house was to live in one level and rent the other, eventually renting both levels when we outgrow our small 2 bed/1 bath space. But for now, it's the perfect size for our little family.

Come in, let me show you around...

The front porch leads to two doors - ours (on the right) and our renter's house upstairs. I always thought it'd be cute to have a wooden bench and a small table for a plant or something out here, but I have yet to find one in my price range. So, for now it's a pretty basic area.

Our main living area consists of a living room, sun room and dining room in one large area. I like the layout because it makes the space feel bigger and warmer than it'd be as seperate rooms. When we moved into the house, it was really old and outdated. Andi and I spent much of the first year painting, landscaping and remodeling the kitchen (I'll show you that in a bit).

(view from dining room)
We spend most of our time in the living room, usually watching the large tv Andi bought this winter. Shortly after we moved in I painted this entire space, choosing a few colors from Martha Stewart's paint collection. As part of her line, she has these great paint swatches that recommend other coordinating colors. I chose a tan color for the living room and sun room, a dark chocolate brown for the ceiling trim and a shade of green for the dining room. The colors are amazing together and I've received a ton of compliments on them. Three years later, I still love the combination.

(sun room)

(living room / dining room view as seen from the sun room)

(dining room)

We had an empty dining room for the first year we lived here. We didn't have a table and were in the process of remodeling our kitchen anyway, which included cutting a look-through window between the kitchen and dining room (see above). Andi and I have many memories of that summer -- eating every meal on our patio table on the back deck including lots of pizza from Carbone's across the street and guest after guest smashing their head against the dining room ceiling light. Two years ago, Andi's parents bought us our gorgeous dining room table for our birthdays/Christmas present. I absolutely cherish it. It's one on my favorite things in our house.

Let's move into the kitchen, shall we?

When we bought our house we knew we'd be updatng the kitchen immediately. The old kitchen had icky cabinets and cheap appliances. There was absolutely no storage or counter space so we spent our first four months here under construction. Not wanting to dump a ton of money into the remodel (remember, the ultimate goal is to rent both the upstairs and downstairs levels) we spent wisely purchasing IKEA cabinents and fixtures. We did add granite countertops but since the kitchen's small, didn't break the bank in doing so. I think it turned out great actually! Of course, it'd have been great to drop $50K and restore the old countertops with a beautiful tiled backsplash and all the modern ameneties but hey, I think we did a pretty good job for 1/5 of that price.


One of my favorite parts of our kitchen is the pull-out pantry. It allows for a lot of storage in an otherwise useless space between the stove and refrigerator.

(pull-out pantry)

I also like the built-in bookshelf / wine rack we added above the fridge. I store cookbooks, bowls and of course, a few bottles of wine here. Oh look! What kind of a hostess am I? It seems I'm running low on bottles of wine ... better get to work on that!
(built-in bookshelf / wine rack)

Off the kitchen is a small hallway which leads to the bathroom and two bedrooms. The bathroom was remodeled just before we bought it and is one of the best parts of our house. My favorite parts of the bath are the block windows in the shower, the cool travertine floor tiles and the original medicine cabinet.


Downsides of the bathroom: absolutely no storage (we keep the toilet paper under our bed which is a little inconvenient when you run out) and only one person can be in here at a time - literally that small. Also, sharing one toilet isn't always the most convenient at times. Both of us inevitably have to um, go, likely after long car trips, rich dinners and times of illness. 

Our bedrooms are also of the small variety, which is expected with an old house. Our "master bedroom" (if you can call it that) has two windows (oooohhhh ...) so that's why we selected this one as our bedroom. There's basically room for our queen size bed, one dresser and a night stand.

(our bedroom)
This is not my favorite room in our house and it really should be, you know? After all, it's the place we spend a pretty good chunk of our lives. I think it may be my summer project - needs new paint, new bedding ... new something. Also, only one small closet in our room where I keep my clothes. (Andi keeps his in the guest bedroom closet). One thing I do like in our bedroom - a framed photo of Andi and I the night before we started dating. I love to look at it because it reminds me of how far we've come -- also, how freakin' old we're getting. Look how young we were!

Across the hall is our guest bedroom (future nursery). This room's also small but simple enough for a full size bed, night stand and closet. Andi keeps is clothes here and I'm not really sure where we'll put them when this room turns into a nursery. Keep the baby's clothes in a dresser? Guess we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Now to my favorite part of our house (during half the year at least) - our backyard. When we moved here, the backyard was a weedy mess. It literally looked like someone took a handful of seeds and threw them all over the backyard. There was a big random mix of flowers, vegetables and weeds everywhere. The garage was also in terrible shape, complete with a dirt floor and a garage door on a pully system. During our first summer here, we landscaped the front and backyard and built a new garage - one of the best things we did to the house.

Well, that's about it! The upstairs apartment is a near replica of our place - with a few small differences. I'll post about that space this week because it's for rent and maybe you know someone who's looking!

Until then, let's kick back on the patio with a refreshing gin & tonic. Cheers!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Great Bedding Debacle of 2010

It's the Great Bedding Debacle of 2010 -- and I'm soliciting any and all help you can provide.

Here's the backstory:
When I graduated college, I moved into my very first apartment all by myself. I carefully selected the perfect furniture for my little one-bedroom apartment and paid for every item all by myself. Such items included a black pleather couch and loveseat (because I obviously couldn't afford the real thing) and this green duvet set from Bed, Bath and Beyond.

I remember searching the stores and online websites tirelessly until I found the perfect one to match my style (and my wallet). Complete with a sequin pillow and cute little sequin detail pattern. This duvet set made me feel fancy and accomplished like I'd finally made it far enough to have my own nice things.

Jump ahead a few years to when Andi and I started dating. He wasn't exactly a fan of my furniture (which by this point, was a few years older) and with my move to Minnesota another year later, many of my items didn't make it on the moving truck. Not his fault entirely, you know how it is when you move - you'd rather sell it or donate it than stuff another piece of something or other into the moving truck. We used to joke actually, that if we broke up the only thing I'd have to take with me were bath towels, my office chair and Chloe. But then I came home one day and my office chair had been replaced with a new black office chair so that pretty much left the towels and 1 tiny pooch.

Naturally when we got married last year, what's "mine" became "ours" and vice versa. With a fist full of gift cards from our wedding, Andi begged and pleaded to buy a new duvet cover for our bedroom set, something that "doesn't have as many freaking pillows" he said. We shopped around and defeatingly settled on this orange/brown striped duvet cover from Bed, Bath and Beyond.

Let's just say, it's not my favorite. I selected a few pillows to go with it (which were a struggle in itself - I just now took the tags off of them because I told my husband I was "testing them out"). This duvet cover wasn't a pretty set so there were no matching pillows or bed skirt. And you know how it goes, I've been meaning to buy a bed skirt to match the cover for a year now .. and well, it just hasn't happened yet.

So, the Great Debacle?
Well, here's where you come in. Any thoughts on how I can spruce up this duvet? I mean, it was semi-expensive purchase and is still fairly new so I don't want to give up on it just yet. I told Andi today I'm half tempted to replace it with the old green one I adored, but he nearly fell out of his chair while exclaiming oh, heck no! So give me your best decorating advice. Also, tell me what's the magical secret to keeping the duvet cover in tact with the blanket underneath? Because this one shifts and lumps and well, damn near drives me crazy.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Sick little girl

There's nothing worse than your little one being sick - no matter if it's a child or pet.

This week, my little pup Chloe has been throwing up every morning. Not the same way she would if she would've eaten a toy or something sketch in the back yard, she's been sick like clock work every morning when she wakes up. I hesitate in making a vet appointment every time she acts a little funny because we'd seriously be there every other week. On the other hand, I'd die if something happened to her so it's better to be safe than sorry. See the pickle I'm in? I'm sure it's the struggle every puppy (or baby) parent faces.

A few days ago I Googled her symptoms and All-Knowing Internet said she likely has an irritated stomach from not eating frequently enough. I scaled back the quantity of food I give her each day to 1/2 cup in the morning and 1/2 cup in the evening and increased the frequency. However, it didn't seem to help. Finally this morning - day 7 of the throwing up - I bit the bullet and called the vet.

Who's smarter you think - the folks at Google or the Animal Medical Clinic?

I think it's a tie.

The vet said the same thing I'd self-diagnosed. She seems to have an upset tummy from not eating frequently enough. And do you know what they prescribed her? Pepcid AC. Isn't that strange? I guess it doesn't hurt dogs. My co-worker suggested earlier today I give her some Pepto-Bismal. Maybe I should've done that and saved myself the $200 vet bill. At least they checked all her vitals and all tests came back normal.

So it sounds like she just needs to eat more to get better. The thing is, she's not one of those dogs who eats very much. Some dogs devour their dog food as fast as you dump it into their bowl. Chloe? She maybe eats a bite or two, maybe. So I'm not really sure what I can do to ensure she eats more frequently (aside from smearing peanut butter in her dish!).

Hope my little Chloe girl feels better soon. Breaks my heart so see her under the weather...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The post in which I reveal my softer side

It's time I admit something to you ...

I've become a Dancing With The Stars lover.

I don't know why really, I don't even like dancing. I mean, I'd rather go to the dentist that be caught dead dancing in public myself. I'm all awkward and white girl-ish at it. Just not in my genes, I guess.

So I think my fascination with DWTS is really attributed to these two simple facts:

ONE: There's absolutely nothing on television on Tuesday nights. I'm not a Lost fan. Nor a fan of Glee and all the singing and such that happens there. And I gave up on American Idol a few years ago. So it's either channel surfing and watching crime dramas piled up in the DVR or get into a new, happy show with lots of shiny costumes and smiling people.

TWO: Also, there's this:

I'm secretly a Kate Gosselin fan. I mean, I just can't explain it. I am totally in awe of her life. Not in a "I want to be her" way ... more, how does she do it with all those cute little kids and a pesty immature ex-husband. I may be alone on this one, and I get that she annoys most people, but I respect her for working what she's got - writing books, doing the show ... things that sustain the lifestyle her kids are used to living.

And so, there you have it. Weakness revealed!

Monday, April 12, 2010

7 quick takes: Not so boring weekend

For not having much planned this weekend, Andi and I kept pretty busy. Here's 7 quick takes of our "not so boring" weekend.

ONE: I met Andi at his office on Friday after work so we could drive to happy hour together. Andi's friend Joe got a new job so he was hosting a 'last day of the job I hated' party at Brit's Pub in downtown Minneapolis. I might have told you this before ... I absolutely hate driving in downtown Minneapolis so to avoid an all-out panic attack, Andi and I met first, left my car at his office and drove together. Side note: this is one thing I love about my husband. While he realizes that leaving my car at his office and then having to go get it at some point during the weekend will surely be a pain in the ass, he simply agrees and lets me do it anyway. So, we went to happy hour and had a fun time. As I said in the post before, I was the only girl there and I always have so much fun in those situations. Listening to boys 'gossip' is funny.

On Saturday morning, I got an email from one of Andi's friends who also works at Andi's office. He happened to notice a giant bulge coming out of the side of my front passenger wheel (keep in mind, my car was still parked in Andi's office parking lot at this point). The email said something to the effect of "giant bulge coming out of your tire....very unsafe to drive on ... you should get you car checked out immediately ... should be covered under your lease / car's warranty."

I read the email to Andi in near tears. I can't stand ABSOLUTELY DESPISE calling to question and/or make appointments for stuff like cars and loans and financial stuff. It's not that I can't do it; more that I don't know what to say, nor who to talk to and it makes me feel all stupid and girly. Side note: one of my favorite things about being married is that all responsibilities such as these, in my opinion, have now shifted to Andi. He, however, would disagree. So, I begged and pleaded for Andi to please, please, please call the dealership and make an appointment to get it fixed. In fact, in the heat of the moment I may have said something along the lines of "I'll do whatever you say for a WHOLE WEEK if you just take care of it for me, puuulease!" And so he did. $162 dollars later, I have a brand new tire. Which, by the way, was covered neither by my VW lease nor the car's warranty. Apparently tires are not covered by such policies. And so, friends, do tell me again ... what's the point of having a new car under lease with a 5-year warranty?? Damn you, fine print.

TWO: On Saturday, we went waaay up to the Northern 'burbs to see our friends Rick, Shelley and their new baby Paige. What a little cutie. How quickly you forget just how itsy bitsy newborns are. My favorite part of our visit: when I came up from downstairs and saw Andi holding her, looking all loving with her tiny little hands and her pretty pink blanket. "Looks good on ya," I said. He smiled and handed the baby to me. Shucks. No baby for us ... yet.

THREE: Saturday night we had 2 birthday parties to attend: a suprise party for Andi's uncle Greg and another other for Andi's friend Kevin. We had a great time at both; TONS of yummy food and lots of catching up with the family and friends. A few pics from Greg's 50th:

The "big event" planners ...
Andi's Mom Janie and Aunts Judy and Barb

The Big Birthday Boy
(Greg said he felt like a little kid blowing out his candles)

Our family
Lindsay, Janie, Jim, Andi and I

After's Greg's party, we hopped over to St. Louis Park to celebrate Kevin's birthday. Andi brought Kevin a gigantic bottle of Jagermeister for his birthday so we had a few Red Bull Jager shots and had fun catching up with Kevin and Kendall.

FOUR: Yesterday (Sunday) was a gorgeous, sunny day in St. Paul. After church, Andi and I picked up Chloe and headed to Fort Snelling State Park which is about a 10 minute drive from our house. We'd never been there before - a huge park with lots of walking trails, a beach (wha? in Minnesota! Ok, it's on the river and well, who the hell would want to swim in the Mississippi ... but it's still a beach) and a cute little tabernacle with picnic tables, a playground, etc. Just a few weeks earlier, most of this area was underwater when the Mississippi was floading in areas of St. Paul. Parts were a little muddy and a little swampy smelling but overall a really great park area.

So we walked around the trails for an hour or so and Chloe was so happy to be outside. At one point, she started rolling in the mud like a little piggy. I'd never seen her do that before! She was covered in mud and dirt ... but I let her play and gave her a pretty thorough bath when we got home.

Chloe rolling in the mud

My little muddy puppy

We went to pickup my car after the park and I felt a little embarrassed - like one of the parents with super dirty, dishelved kids. "Don't judge, people! She usually all clean and pretty!"

FIVE: I used my new lawn blower on Sunday. Last year, I threw a pretty gigantic fit when this thing showed up from Amazon on my doorstep in oh, like October (read: October = snow in Minnesota). I told Andi he had a serious addiction to spending and he needed to stop throwing money away on crap like lawn blowers. (For those of you who haven't seen our yard, it's about the size of a kiddle swimming pool. You could likely give it a big pheeew and blow about the leaves from our yard). What's more, Andi doesn't do the yard work - I do - so had no idea why he thought we needed one. But, complaining aside and six months later, we have a new lawn blower so I was determined to test it out. I assembled the blower all by myself the last week and was very proud of myself in doing so. And yesterday, I gave our yard a good blow, er uh, suck actually.

I have to admit, the lawn blower/sucker is actually pretty awesome. It mulched up all the leaves into teeny, tiny pieces. Just don't tell Andi I said so. :)

Also, my spring flowers are finally blooming!

SIX: Last week I made the Pioneer Woman's Baked Lemon Pasta. It was delicous and really easy to make. After dinner, Andi and I made a few cocktails and headed on a long walk to Lindsay's house to visit her and her new boyfriend Chad. About half way there (she lives a couple miles away) my stomach started to gurgle and something just didn't feel right. Which, by the way, almost never happens to me w/o the assistance of 17 glasses of prune juice. The farther we walked, the more I thought I was literally going to die. At one point, I gripped Andi's shoulder with panic - we were smack dab in the middle of residential neighborhoods and not anywhere near a bathroom. We finally made it to Lindsay's and I bee-lined into the bathroom where I stayed for much of our visit. Poor Chad - I'm a wee bit embarrassed to see him at the next family function. I imagine our greeting will be something like "Hi, nice to see you again. Sorry the second time I met you I spent most of the time in your girlfriend's bathroom. It, ur, must have been the Baked Lemon Pasta."

Was it really the Baked Lemon Pasta? I can't be sure. Maybe I'd recommend going light on the heavy cream or advise against taking a long walk afterwards. :)

SEVEN: Just in time for summer, I have a tasty new cocktail to share with you: The Cucumber Martini. It's probably nothing new, but it's new to me and very refreshing. Here's how to make it:

What You'll Need:
2 martini glasses
1 cucumber
Hendrick's Gin (or similar)

1. Take 2 martini glasses and fill with ice water. Chill by setting aside
2. Add 4oz. of gin to a shaker and fill with ice. Allow to chill for 30 sec. or so
3. Dump ice water currently in martini glasses in sink
4. Pour (booze, without ice) into each martini glass, 2 oz. each
5. Slice cucumber and place a few slices in each glass

Toast with your honey and enjoy!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Lessons of Marriage

Marriage is a funny thing. As much as you think you know exactly what it'll be like, how much you envision the way you'll grow together, it's different and better and harder all at the same time.

This month, it'll be nine months since Andi and I got married. I'm learning everyday that being married is one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life. Lately, I find my husband more sexy and smarter and funnier than ever before. I'm amazed how commanding and strategic he is when running his business. And at home, he's still the same simple man I've always known. We go to bed early. Take Chloe for walks around the neighborhood. Spend time at the lake in the summertime.

But there's also been times over the last 265ish days I've felt unsteady and chlosterphobic. Just as the other married people in the world tell you, marriage (especially the first year) is hard and takes work. For me, it's mostly coming to terms with being a couple - realizing it's not about me anymore. This is our life now. Not that we weren't a couple the 3 1/2 years we dated, it's just different now, you know? Being married is becoming more second-nature. The other night as I was doing laundry I had a great feeling of comfort wash over me. This is my life. I'm happy. I'm lucky to have such a wonderful husband to build my life with. Grow our life together.

Last night we went to happy hour with a few of Andi's friends. For various reasons, the other wives and girlfriends weren't able to make it so I was the only girl at a table full of boys. You know how guys are, they talk about beer drinking and work stories and the way their girlfriends/wives are. A friend of our friend said something like "my wife is a list-maker. She plans our life down to the minute." Andi's friend Nick told us about doing all the grocery shopping the last few months as his wife has been on pregnancy bed rest. He was telling us about couponing and shopping at different grocery stores for all the best specials. Something I'm gathering Nick didn't know much about until Julie was unable. Andi and I just smiled. "You don't have it so bad." I whispered to Andi. "No," he said, "I'm pretty lucky."

Friday, April 9, 2010

Recipe for Weekend Fun

It's hard to believe they still exist but by george, we've got one! A weekend with no real plans, that is.
I think Andi and I will try to cook up a fabulous, relaxing weekend for ourselves...

Recipe for Weekend Fun
  1. Consume 1 margarita at 6pm Friday night happy hour 
  2. Peruse the appetizer menu for some tasty bar food
  3. Eat some yummy nachos dripping with Ranch dressing, or maybe some creamy Spin Dip
  4. Wash it all down with a second margarita
  5. Go home, chill on the couch with my lovely husband
  6. Rise at 9AM, throw on some shoes and grab the dog's leash
  7. Take a leasurely stroll around the neighborhood with Husband and little pooch, stopping for coffee along the way
  8. Tear open the just-arrived UPS package with my new cute shoes
  9. Model them around the house and pick out a cute outfit for Saturday night
  10. Head to Target for some last minute "necessities"
  11. Cruise up to the Northern 'burbs to visit my friend Shelley and new baby Paige
  12. Drive home, change and head out to a few birthday celebrations around town
  13. Open a bottle of wine while mingling with family and friends
  14. Pour another glass ...
  15. Cruise downtown for the evening's second birthday celebration
  16. Another glass of wine? I think so
  17. Come home, snuggle with my husband
  18. Wake up at 8:30AM, get showered and dressed
  19. Go to church and belt out all my favorite songs
  20. Break out the patio cushions and grill out in the backyard
  21. Kick my feet up and read a magazine
  22. Take the dog for another walk just for fun
  23. Watch some good Sunday night tv
  24. Snuggle in with the hubby and relax
  25. Breathe in, breathe out.
What a great weekend...

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The world's worst marketing name might just be the coolest little device ever

You won't be suprised when I tell you my husband bought the latest and greatest electronic toy: an Apple iPad tablet.

And while I'm usually the first to bock about his sometimes excessive expendatures, I must first tell you he followed the rules this time by a) telling me about it first and b) buying it with his work account (which means it doesn't affect my bank account and well, that's usually good enough for me).

With that being said, Andi brought home his new little gadget last night and I must say - wow, it's really cool. I think I might need one.

I've heard a few people ask "what's the point?" and I didn't really get it either until I played around with one. It's really amazing! Perfect for anyone who does soft computer work like emails, Facebook and searching the web. Traveling with a iPad would be great for reading books (just like the Kindle) but better for all the internet capabilities. Plus it's got a fabulous crisp, clear picture for showing/viewing movies, photos, etc. I think the only thing it wouldn't be ideal for is typing up a Word doc.

So, the only real question is: When will my husband grow bored of his new toy, move onto the soemthing new and retire this cool, little toy to me? Taking bets .... NOW.