Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Wonderful Christmas

It's been such a wonderful Christmas! Playing games, laughing, eating, relaxing, opening presents....Ahhhhhhh......

My parents are so generous and are GREAT at giving gifts! I'm so cards to Caribou, DSW, and Amazon, money for ski equipment, a board game, a little purse, ear muffs, AND a Twins jersey, Twins sweatshirt, and Twins purse!

My older sister spoiled me, too! In addition to A Christmas Carol, she gave me tickets to Gophers games, a book, a movie, and a gift card!

And of course.....the Advent basket from my little sister. Yes, I figured out it was from my little sister. I had to keep the secret to myself because there were other people who also got a basket from her that I didn't want to ruin the surprise for.

I figured out right away that the gifts were from her. Since I had opened the letter for the first day early, I decided to open the first gift early, too. It was a CD of Christmas songs. The songs were a dead give-away that it was from my sister. I called her and we had the most funny conversation. She was trying to lie to me about the basket, but I was giving her the many, many reasons why I knew it was from her. Also, the lies she told me were exactly the same lies I would have told if I was trying to keep the same secret......we think too much alike for her to fool me! We were laughing so hard!

She finally gave in and admitted the basket was from her. She said "well, you must have looked at the final card, too then". I hadn't, but I asked what it said. She told me that on the card that would tell her identity, she just wrote "CHEATER" because she was SO convinced I would sneak ahead! But I didn't need to sneak ahead to figure it out, so the joke is on her!!

She also included a reflection each day on a different characteristic of God (wise, loving, gracious, holy, transcendent, judge, merciful, all-sufficient, triune........etc.........). It is so fun to get gifts, but as my sister said in the final letter of her gift, these characteristics will lead us to worship the Father and thank Him for the abundant gifts He has given - most importantly, His Son.

Here is a list of all the gifts she gave me, with some pictures to follow (I know some of you were curious):

1 - the basket the gifts came in
2 - CD
3 - hand soap
4 - Hope ornament
5 - peanuts
6 - pashmina
7 - key covers
8 - hot chocolate
9 - socks
10 - magnets
11 - body wash
12 - chocolates
13 - vase
14 - notepad
15 - lotion
16 - candle
17 - candy
18 - note cards
19 - candle holder
20 - chocolate
21 - bookmarks
22 - journal
23 - sports ornaments
24 - sparkling juice
25 - picture/letter

beautiful vase!


key covers, magnets, note cards, socks



candle holder, candle, ornament, pashmina

hand soap

The final note in the basket

I also wanted to include the final reflection from the gift. It is "Advent Summons" by Mother Mary Francis, P.C.C.

Come forth from the holy place,
Sweet Child,
Come from the quiet dark
Where virginal heartbeats
Tick your moments.

Come away from the red music
Of Mary's veins.
Come out from the Tower of David
Sweet Child,
From the House of Gold.

Leave your lily-cloister,
Leave your holy mansion,
Quit your covenant ark.
O Child, be born!

Be born, Sweet Child,
In our unholy hearts.

Come to our trembling,
Helpless Child.
Come to our littleness,
Little Child,
Be born to us
Who have kept the faltering vigil.
Be given, be born,
Be ours again.

Come forth from your holy haven,
Come away from your perfect shrine,
Come to our wind-racked souls
From the flawless tent,
Sweet Child.

Be born, little Child,
In our unholy hearts.

Merry Christmas, everyone! I pray your Advent season was filled with reflections on the One who sent His Son to be born in a manger, live a perfect life, die and rise again to save us from our sin! What a gift!!!!

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Cozy Evening

Thanks to a rapid snowfall throughout the day, traffic was nightmare-ish all I was glad to be tucked in all night in my sweats with cozy Christmas lights twinkling, a cup of hot soup, watching the Vikings game.

When I was rescued by my uncle from the blizzard, my aunt had a yummy chicken noodle soup in the crock pot when I arrived at their house. I normally don't like chicken noodle soup because I prefer more thick and creamy soups, but she had doctored it to make it very thick and creamy. I'm glad I was inspired to buy the ingredients last week so I had them on hand when I got home tonight. Here's what she does:

Dump in a crock pot: one can of chicken noodle soup (with big noodles), one can of cream of chicken soup, one quart of half and half, two cups of cooked egg noodles, two cups of cooked and chopped chicken, two cups of whatever veggies you like. YUM!

My aunt's mom passed away very unexpectedly this past weekend, so it was nice to make her soup tonight and have my thoughts and prayers with them as I did so.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Paper Chain Excited

There's excited, and then there's "paper chain excited"!

As if I wasn't already excited enough about our family cruise in February, my little sister sent me a paper chain to count down the days - complete with cute, cruise-themed paper!

70 days! We'll be cruising in 70 days!!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Christmas Carol

For our Christmas gift this year, my older sister was going to take my younger sister and me to A Christmas Carol at the Guthrie and out for a nice dinner on Sunday night. Unfortunately, thanks to the blizzard, my younger sister was literally snowed in and couldn't make it. So we found a substitute and had a nice night (though we definitely missed little sis)!

We ate at Masa - my absolute FAVORITE place in Minneapolis. It is a bit expensive, so it's only for special occasions, but I seriously crave their crab enchiladas ALL the time! Yum!

The show was great, too! I liked the call out they chose from the script for the program:
"Look at us, all gathered here together at this table. let us not dwell on the misfortunes - of which all have some - but rather rejoice upon our present blessings, of which we have many. Let us empty our plates and fill our glasses once again, and with a smiling face and a contented heart say, our life on it, let Christmas be merry and the coming year a happy one."
Sunday was a nice day, thanks to the blessings of family, following a chaotic day for me. I appreciated rest and relaxation, as well as the treat of dinner and a show. A magnificent way to end the weekend and begin more reflection on the Christmas Season!

Monday, December 13, 2010

There Once Was a Blizzard...

So, did you hear there was a blizzard in Minneapolis on Saturday?! Everyone will have a story about where they were and what they did during the blizzard of December 2010, so here’s mine [warning: it's probably a long one...]: (I'm a little embarassed to share it, since it shows pretty poor judgement on my part.....)

I’ve been told I have some hermit-like tendencies, so I’m certainly not someone who minds being snowed in for a cozy day at home. It actually sounds a little delightful. Baking, organizing, watching movies, relaxing…….all right up my alley. But my Saturday was anything but delightful….

I actually had a very busy Saturday planned. I was going to go to the Gopher game with my sister, head out to see a friend coach his high school basketball team later that afternoon, visit a friend and her new baby, have dinner with friends, and finally get to see my roommate sing with her folk band. I was looking forward to all of those things, but on Friday, as it became more apparent that I wouldn’t be doing any of them, I wasn’t extremely bummed. I actually needed an excuse to stay tucked in all day. I was coming off a week where I had totally over-committed myself and I was exhausted. It was a good exhaustion (since there were almost 50 people who showed up to the church singles Christmas party!!), but nonetheless, an exhaustion.

On Saturday, I learned that one small decision can lead you down a path where many other small decisions lead to a big headache. See, I was dog-sitting, so I had an additional element thrown into my snowed-in state. At about 10am I decided that I should shovel a little to keep up with the storm (the home owner had told me she would pay me to shovel in addition to sitting the dogs). I worked (too hard) for just over an hour and then decided that I should run to my own house for a minute to let out the dog there and grab a few things for the duration of the storm. At 11am, the roads were not good, but I was able to get home without an issue. It’s after I got to my house that the problems started....

Instead of just letting the dog out and grabbing some more clothes, I put a load of laundry in, wrapped some presents, and got generally distracted. Soon enough it was 2pm and I could see that my car had been plowed into where I had parked. I needed to get back to the dogs I was being paid to watch, so I grabbed a shovel and started to work my car out of it’s spot. Friendly Neighbor came over to help me out, and I was off. Friendly Neighbor also mentioned that I should throw my shovel in my car because I might need it, but I told him that I had made it over here no problem, so it wouldn’t be needed. I made it about one block before I got stuck again. Since I was shovel-less, I got down on my hands and knees (in only sweatpants) and dug around the tires. Red Stocking Hat Man saw me and came over to help dig me out. After just about 10 minutes I was off again. About a block ahead I saw two women working a car out of a spot, so I stopped to help. We worked on her car for about 10 minutes, and as I got back into my car, I realized I was now stuck again. The two women, along with Red Stocking Hat Man, helped me out and I was going again. I was now about two blocks from a snow emergency route that I knew would be clear. If I could just….make……………..NOPE. Stuck again. This time in the middle of an intersection. I was getting a little ticked at myself for waiting so long to leave my house, and I was also getting pretty tired, but I just needed to make it two more blocks. I worked with Man Without Gloves to get my car out, but I was stuck pretty bad. I said that we should work on getting his car unstuck since mine was so bad, so we did that and he was off. By that time we had gathered a crowd that included Friendly Neighbor, Red Stocking Hat Man, and about four others who were determined to get me out of the intersection.

As I hopped back in my car to give it gas, Friendly Neighbor realized that my wheels weren’t turning. It was determined that I had overheated the transmission and would need a tow. And this is where I started to get upset.

I called Triple A and they put me on a list. I started to think through what I was going to do in the next five hours while I waited for a tow. I was getting cold – the inside of my boots had gotten wet and my feet were feeling that, let alone the fact that my sweatpants were drenched and starting to freeze solid. I waited for about 40 minutes when Triple A called to say that they were not allowed to dispatch any tows in my area due to the dangerous aspects of the storm and that I would need to call 911. Friendly Neighbor had stuck around to make sure I would be okay, and when I told him that news, he said we needed to shut my car off and see if it would cool down enough to get me going. We waited for 30 minutes (most of which I spent praying) and tried again……and my wheels turned!!! We dug me out and with the help of eight men pushing, I was OUT! I drove as quickly as I could to the emergency route and I was in the clear!!!........for now.

My next challenge was deciding where to park. Obviously a snow emergency had been declared, so I could only park on the side streets (since I couldn’t even get to the driveway of the house where I was staying). Parking on the streets proved to be an issue as well, since every street was simply a path down the middle with snow banks on either side. I drove as close as I could to the house (about two blocks away) where I saw a group of men with shovels. I got out of my car and (with tears) asked them what I should do with my car. They agreed that the only option was to put it into a snow bank as far to the side as possible, and they graciously offered to put it there for me. They shoveled some and then rammed the car as far to the side of the road as they could.

I was feeling delirious. I was so cold. I couldn’t feel my toes, and my legs were getting there, too. As I walked to the house, crying, I could barely lift my legs out of the more-than-knee-deep snow. I fell multiple times and cursed myself for not being in better shape (and for EVER LEAVING THE HOUSE). When I got back to the house, I realized that I had left my phone in my car. Before I got undressed, I decided to head back the car and retrieve the phone, since I needed to contact my family who thought I was still sitting in an intersection in a dead car. I got less than a block from the house when I realized I wouldn't make it to the car, trudging my way through 2-3 feet of drifted snow. I couldn't even get to the street where I could've walked in tire tracks. Back to the house.

Thankfully, my mom's number has only one digit that is different from my number, so it is the only phone number I know. I called her to get the number of the phone I was on from her caller ID, as well as to get the number for my sister, who I wanted to ask about how to warm my feet properly. I had a little breakdown while on the phone with my dad. I couldn't even begin to think about how in the world I was going to get my car out of the snow bank, let alone where I was going to park it once it was out (according to the snow emergency rules, I needed to move it to the odd side of the street, but that was also just a snow bank.....).

Mom and Dad helped me figure out that my uncle and cousins could come and pull me out of the snow bank in the morning. Then I would retreat to the suburbs with them for the day (where the streets were plowed!). I got up early to assess my car situation and see if I could find help from more friendly people in the streets, but I didn't come across anyone, and my car was VERY drifted in. I did a tiny bit of shoveling around my car, but I really could barely move. I COMPLETELY overdid it on Saturday and my back was in quite a bit of pain. My cousin recruited a friend with an Explorer and the boys and my uncle came into the city to dig me out. I was so stuck in the snow that we needed to use a tow rope. One tire wouldn't spin, but that was just because the snow was so packed around it. We got the tires spinning, navigated our way out of the city, and stopped at Perkins so I could at least buy them breakfast. After breakfast my uncle took me to a tire shop because he noticed they were low on air.

This isn't at ALL how I wanted to spend my snow day, but I'm so grateful for a few things:

  • Since I don't have a garage, my car would have needed to be dug out no matter where I had left it on Saturday. If I would have been at home, I could have moved it to my driveway, but then the boy we pay to snow blow wouldn't have been able to clear that area, and I would have been plowed in by the snow from the alley. If I would have left my car in the driveway where I was dog sitting, I also would have been plowed in.....and that snow was up to my thigh on Sunday morning! I'm thankful that it was relatively straight forward to move it from the snow bank where I ended up, and that I wasn't towed or plowed in.

  • I'm so glad my tires started moving again and my car is not in the shop. I can't imagine if I would have actually needed a tow on Saturday.....I think my car would still have been in that intersection on Sunday morning.

  • I'm thankful that I wasn't in any fender-benders.

  • I'm thankful to the WONDERFUL help from friendly neighbors to dig me out (multiple times) and park my car for the night.

  • I'm SO thankful for my uncle, cousins, and their friend who drove all the way from Blaine the morning after a huge storm to help me, and that my uncle drove my car so I didn't have to, and that we got my tires all squared away. Ahhhhh. So relieved.

  • I'm grateful for muscle relaxants that helped me sleep last night, and that my back does feel a bit better today (it was SO painful last made me sick to my stomach with how much it hurt).

I'm sure you also have a story from Saturday - hopefully you didn't make such poor decisions like I did! The morale of the story: listen to the weathermen and get hunkered down sooner than later!!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Weekend Away

I'll admit that I've had PLENTY of weekends away this fall. It has been great, but it has also felt very busy. Many of the weekends have been jam-packed with activities, so this past weekend at Quilt Retreat was just that: a retreat.

There's not much I love more than driving through central Minnesota on a quiet morning after a huge weekend snow storm with just a few flakes floating to the ground while I listen to a great Christmas CD and drink coffee. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Everything was white and beautiful and I was able to reflect on a nice weekend, as well as the entire past year as I drove.

The weekend was relaxed - full of food, friends, family, and fellowship. Oh, and quilting. Even my quilting was relaxed. Often I'm rushing to get a project completed because I know I won't break out my sewing machine once I'm home, but this time I just worked on old projects here and there to get them closer to completion (go to this post to see pictures of the old quilts - I finally put a binding on the blue one and I put a border on the black/neon one. And I still love the maroon/tan quilt - I've finally put it on my bed for good.....totally doesn't match my room but I don't care).

I also learned the EASIEST bag in the world! I went straight to a baby shower on Sunday, so I had made some burp rags, but I also made a bag and put the gifts right in there! I will be doing more of that in the future.

Look at that cute little elephant poking out!

I've definitely decided this is the most efficient way to make burp rags - with a fabric (or ribbons) down the middle. Now I just have to wait another 6 weeks to meet the little baby these are for!!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Growing up, each of us girls got an Advent calendar filled with chocolates every year. I loved the calendar not just because I got a chocolate each day, but also because it was the perfect countdown to Christmas! I loved that tradition so much that I often buy myself an Advent calendar each year.

Well, today is the beginning of Advent, and I got the BEST surprise!

When I came home from Thanksgiving, there was a huge box with my name on it sitting inside the door (my roommate had brought it in from the steps). I opened it up and found a beautiful basket full of GIFTS for Advent!! I was SO EXCITED!! And, of course, since I am a horrible cheat with insatiable curiosity (and a to-the-end-flipper....) I promptly opened the letter that said "DO NOT OPEN UNTIL DEC 1!". My first thought when I saw the gifts was "whoever gave me this has NO IDEA how hard it will be for me to not open all of these gifts RIGHT NOW"! On the other hand, maybe the giver knows me really well and knows how much I LOVE surprises and that giving/receiving gifts is definitely one of my top "love languages". And the letter offered me no clues as to who the mystery gift-giver is, so it just made me more curious!

I have a reputation with my family for being the worst gift-sneak in the world. I used to UNWRAP the ends of gifts and wrap them back up just so I would know what I was getting! Mom typically did all of her shopping and wrapping on Dec 23 during our growing up years.....I think she may have done that because it worked best with her schedule, but I also suspect she did that because she wanted to keep me from sneaking until the very end!

So, since I should have just opened my letter today, I decided that I could open the first gift instead. After all, I'll be gone this weekend, so I should be able to get ahead just a little bit.....right?!?!

This will be a fun Advent season! Thanks, mystery gift-giver!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

First Thought

How great/funny is this picture?!?!

I know many people who LOVE to read, so more than one person could pop into my mind when I see this picture. But when I came across it tonight, my first thought was "BEKI!"

Here's why:
1. I just came from her house, so she is fresh in my mind (and seeing her tonight made me realize just how much I've missed her!)
2. She was sitting next to me when we listened to N.D. Wilson talk about how he wants to roll around in words like they are leaves. I loved her reaction to that statement, and her husband's response was "I can totally see Beki doing that".....and so could I. And it made me smile.
3. She's just so SWEET! Who wouldn't want to HUG her?!

With Thankfulness

I had another WONDERFUL Thanksgiving weekend at home. It wasn't a typical Thanksgiving (last year was more typical with lots of people home and lots of activity which prompted me to have a "stomach full; heart even more so"), but throughout the weekend I was reminded of the many things I've been thankful for throughout the year:
  • Family: Even though my sisters weren't able to come home for Thanksgiving this year, we've had plenty of weekends together as a family recently. I'm blessed to have a family that I enjoy spending time with, and sisters who are also my friends. I'm grateful for generous, hospitable parents who put up with us, too!
  • Health: A few weeks ago, Dad passed along an email that he described as "sobering". Indeed, it was. He had heard from a woman whose father was also fighting, and still is, a similar cancer to what Dad had. Her father is still receiving chemo each week and has cancer spread throughout his entire body. My sister and I just talked last night about another friend who feels that she may have her final Christmas with her mom coming up because of her mother's cancer diagnosis. In Dad's case, he has been in remission for two years and will have his final PET scan this month, as well as have his port removed (the device they use to administer chemo). Health is something that is often taken for granted until it is gone, but I'm continually grateful for Dad's health, and reminded to keep others who are struggling with health issues in my prayers. Also, since last Thanksgiving, both of my Grandmas have passed away. I'm thankful that they were healthy as long as they were and that I had the time with them that I did. I'm thankful for my Grandpa's health and for the time (like this past weekend) that I can spend with him.
  • Singleness: Admittedly, being thankful for my singleness is a half-truth. This year has been one where I've resigned myself to the fact that I won't be the young wife and mother I always thought I would be, which is a difficult/sad reality in my eyes. But it's also been a year when I've tried to choose to not dwell on what I don't have, but what I do have. I have the freedom to travel (Europe and Hawaii this year) and spend time with my sisters, and the time and finances to find ways to bless others in a way that might not be possible when/if I get married and have kids. Making that choice to "take advantage" of my singleness is really why I started my year by writing out core values, and while I KNOW I still have room to improve in my thankfulness for being single, I really have experienced much grace in this area.
In addition to these "big" categories, I was also thankful for time last weekend to EAT, finish reading "The Help" (I recommend), SLEEP IN, watch good football games, work hard at Mom's craft show (though not hardly as hard as Mom worked), play games with my cousins.....etc, etc, etc.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

New Perspective

"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul."
Psalm 23:1-3a

I'm thankful to a girl in my small group who indirectly helped me to look at this set of verses in a way I don't think I ever have (or would have). You know when you've heard a passage so much that it starts to lose it's meaning? (I don't think I'm the only person who experiences that....) Well, I haven't really applied this passage at all recently, but I was grateful to have a friend bring it to my attention.

I've had a few frustrating moments with friends recently (and, I'm fully aware, "frustrating" is just a "nicer" way of saying things like "angry, annoyed, prideful because I wouldn't have done that" or other such sinful attitudes). Mostly things came to a head on Saturday when there was a beastly snow in Minneapolis - bad enough to call a snow emergency - and I was in Chicago while my car sat on the wrong side of the street, about to be towed, all because I hadn't thought ahead. I spent most of the day trying to track down my roommate to tell her where my spare key was, but soon her phone was off, I hadn't talked to her yet...and it was getting late. I needed someone to simply drive to my house, knock on the door, and tell my roommate to move my car. Pretty simple, right?

I've spent numerous nights dog-sitting, house-sitting, baby-sitting, bringing meals and treats, hosting parties, etc......I was positive I could call in a favor from someone. Because I did know the weather was bad, I didn't want to bother anyone who lived too far away, and I certainly wouldn't be calling my friend who is 37 weeks pregnant, or the friend who has a newborn, or the friend who has two kids in bed already.....the list was getting shorter. Numerous texts, calls, and even talking to people live turned up NO ONE who could do me what seemed the be the tiniest favor.

I felt very ALONE. Which strangely made me feel very SINGLE (funny how those struggles sneak up on you). All I NEEDED was someone to move my car....right? Wrong. All I need is the Lord (He is my shepherd, I shall not want). And even if every person I contacted could have moved my car, they can't restore my soul (HE restores my soul). I could have used that perspective while I was throwing a fit about my car (and being annoyed with my friends), but better late than never.......

(The end of the story is that my WONDERFUL accountability partner responded that she was able to do me the favor, even though I didn't end up needing to call in the favor since I tracked down my roommate after 11pm to solve the problem and save me $200)

(OH, AND....after reading this through again, I don't want ANYONE to think that I don't LOVE dog-sitting, house-sitting, baby-sitting, bringing meals and treats, hosting parties.....because I DO! In fact, I feel specifically called to those things in this "season" as a single person [see core values posts], so PLEASE keep the calls coming!)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Grocery Shopping I'll Actually Do

I absolutely hate grocery shopping. I think I lack “grocery intuition” – I am never able to find the exact product I need and I usually spend countless minutes roaming up and down the rows looking for what I need (or tracking down employees to point me in the right direction). I also have to call my mother at least two times every time I go grocery shopping to ask her exactly where I might find something, never mind the fact she lives five hours away and has never set foot into the store where I am standing.

My deficiency in grocery skills does nothing but encourage my poor eating habits. For instance, when I bought my house, my mom and aunt stocked my cupboards with some staples…..and I proceeded to not set foot in a grocery store for the next four months (my poor eating habits have been well documented on this blog….). I end up eating way too many overly-processed or frozen foods.

This summer I started a new grocery shopping habit. It almost happened by accident: I had an especially busy week and I needed to get food for a weekend at the cabin with friends. My only chance to get to the store was also the night my roommate called to see if I wanted to enjoy the beautiful night and play tennis. Of course, I chose tennis. Later that night, I went online and signed up for Coborn’s Delivers. In a matter of 20 minutes (about the amount of time it takes me to drive to the store and back) I had bought all of my groceries for the weekend! I knew I was onto something….something I would just love! I’ve been using Coborn’s Delivers ever since. Here is what I love:

  • There is NO charge for pick up, and the charge for delivery is only $5.00. At the pick up, you drive over a sensor to alert them you are there, and all of your groceries are loaded into your car for you - never having to leave your car.
  • You can save your shopping lists, so if there are items you get frequently, they will be ready for you to click and buy.
  • One page has a list of all of the special sale items (for example: I would normally have gotten Diet Coke, but I saw that Pepsi products had a great sale, so I got those instead).
  • You can type in any coupons at the checkout screen, so you still are saving if you are a coupon clipper.
  • Many nights after work I am just too tired to make myself walk around the grocery store and stand in line at the checkout. I can go online and shop while I'm in my pajamas watching TV - in about the same amount of time it takes me to drive to the store anyway.
  • You can find specific items SO much faster - just type them into the search box. I wasted at least ten minutes walking around the grocery store last week looking for Rotella (for a delicious dip recipe my sister gave me) and the whole time I was thinking "if I was shopping online I would already be done with this!!"...but I hadn't planned ahead enough to do that.
  • Also, when you search an item (like "pickles"), you get an entire page of results with all of the prices and specials listed as well. More than a few times I've gone with a different brand because of specials that I wouldn't have noticed in the grocery store (though more seasoned grocery shoppers may have noticed them).
All that to say....Coborn's Delivers is my new best friend!

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Appropriately Named "Fall Back"

I do NOT like "falling back" (setting the clock back an hour in the fall).

Everything about it makes me go "wah-wah".

Dark early. Cold coming. A LOT of cold. For a long time. While it's ALWAYS dark.

"Fall back" is the appropriate name, not just because it is a good reminder that in the fall the clocks go back an hour, but because the whole experience makes me want to fall back.....into bed. And not come out until spring. Well, I would come out for Christmas. And maybe Thanksgiving. There is nothing about "falling back" that seems energizing (as opposed to "spring forward" which is just the opposite.....more sun! more warmth! things are blooming! the world is ALIVE!).

BUT I am forcing myself to find a few things about "fall back" that make me excited:
  • "Fall back" puts me in the mood for basketball. I spent most of my growing up doldrums of winter playing basketball and it is one of my favorite sports. Watching basketball this year will be even more fun since my sister bought Gopher basketball season tickets! We went to our first game tonight and I am excited for many more!
  • "Fall back" means skiing is only a few more weeks away. My sister forced me to get into skiing so that we would have at least one outside winter activity that we enjoyed, and I do very much enjoy skiing.
  • It may be dark and cold, but I'm hoping to take advantage of the lack of outside evening activities to force me into the gym more. Hoping. I've packed on enough weight this summer to allow me to hibernate with the bears all winter, but I really hope to shed some of these pounds.
  • Ummmmm......that's all I've got.
So, happy "fall back". I'm already looking forward to "spring forward".............

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Caught Red-Handed

I have a secret. I don't tell many people...not because I'm ashamed, but because I don't like having to explain myself. See, I know a lot of people who love to read (as I do), and this particular secret upsets them the most.

I'm a to-the-end-flipper.

That's right. I flip to the end of books and read the last page (or more). And I was caught red-handed, by the author of the very book I was reading.

Let me explain.

First of all, I don't read the end of books before I start the book. I've never really understood that. Reading the end of a story where you don't even know the characters or plot would seem very confusing and pointless to me. So I read about 80-100 pages and then I flip to the end. By that point I already know the characters and I have a sense of where the story is going. When I read the end I either think "YES! I can totally see where this is going!" or "HUH? Wow, I can't wait to see how we get there!"

I can't really tell you exactly why I have this habit, but I think it's mostly curiosity. It's also because I have given up on many of the "rules" of reading (like I mentioned in my post about "reader's independence"), such as feeling like you have to finish every book you start, or that you can only read one book at a time. And I enjoy reading the end of books while I'm in the middle of them, so I just continue to do it.

I don't think that I ever "ruin" the book I'm reading. When my sister gave me the book My Sister's Keeper, she made me promise that I wouldn't flip to the end because there was a big twist and I wouldn't see it coming and it was so good and I would just ruin the whole thing if I flipped to the end. So when we were sitting on the dock later that day and I said "Oh my goodness, that is a crazy ending!" she said "You finished it already?!" and I (sheepishly) said "no...I flipped to the end....". And I swear, it didn't ruin the book for me!

ANYWAY. On to the real reason for this post.......

I was reading Notes From the Tilt-A-Whirl by N.D. Wilson (which I recommend) and I flipped to the end. I skimmed the final few pages (it's not a novel, so I was just poking around the end of the book) and I decided to read the "gratitude" section. Imagine my surprise when I read the following:

"Thank you for spinning with me, for sharing in the dizziness, and for making it this far. Assuming, of course, that you got this far through the traditional means and not by villainously flipping to the end first. If you are a to-the-end-flipper, then my thoughts about you are dark and my feelings to not involve gratitude."

AHHHH! The author totally called me out! I am the villainous to-the-end-flipper. I laughed out loud. Since I thought this was hilarious, I started to tell people how the author caught me red-handed for being a to-the-end-flipper while I was to-the-end-flipping, and I've been met with much animosity from my reading-loving friends. People are shocked that I would be a to-the-end-flipper (which is why only my sisters have known of this habit until recently).

So, now you know. Don't hate me. And in order for you to not hate me, I will leave you with a few more of my favorite sections from Notes From the Tilt-A-Whirl.

"What is the best of all possible feelings? What is the best of all possible things? The best of all possible creatures? Clearly, the best of all possible feelings is the one that comes when the agony of too much time in the car with an overextended bladder has finally been alleviated. Such sweet relief remains unparalleled."

"[My son] cannot think of a way to express himself, and so he takes out the wallet we gave him to hold ice cream money from his grandmothers. He takes out his dollars and throws them in the grass. "They're not important," he says, and shrugs, blinking. He's right. I help him pick them up. Paper and ink are not important. Wealth is unimportant next to souls. So are legs and fingers, all five senses. So is life. But gratitude is all-important. Everything is a gift. Every smell, every second, every ice cream dollar. Gratitude for the whole story, from beginning to end, gratitude for the valleys and the shadows that lead us to the novel's final page. Take a step and thank God, for He holds you in His hand. Never ask to be put down. Never struggle for separation or for worth apart from His gifts. Breath, taste His world, His words, and marvel that you are here to feel the blowing swirl of life. To be blown by it. Enjoy your ice cream."

"And I move on, with the sun on my face. Clouds are growing in the west, glorious clouds piled up with rowdy care and sparked with electric life. I fill my lungs with the world, with this life, with this gift beyond containing. There is only one thing I can say. Thank you. And I must say it with my life. Through my life. To the end of my life. And after."

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Neglected Blog

My sister is right. You have to start somewhere.

Though I'm sure nobody is chomping at the bit for me to stop neglecting this blog, I've decided that I do really want to keep blogging, if only for myself. I simply need to make it a priority (I won't say that I don't have enough time, because everyone has exactly the same amount of time, it is just a matter of how you prioritize what you've been given, and lately blogging hasn't been a priority for me). Looking back on past blogs, I'm glad that I have some of my activities and thoughts documented (especially considering my horrible memory), and I absolutely LOVE following other blogs and having a glimpse into the everyday moments of friends and acquaintances (when I read things like this and this and this I get all happy inside), so I would like to do more of that at my blog as well.

I'm going to steal a page from Becca's book and write a few updates in "stream of consciousness" style.

I've been road tripping a lot lately - to Madison for a Gophers game, to Chicago for a wedding, to Green Bay for a Vikings game, to LaCrosse for a weekend with college roommates and their kids....and next weekend is back to Chicago for another Vikings game (and family fun). I've had a LOT of fun, but it has made me a LOT tired. I am SO thankful that I've had a low key week to recover from many weekends on the road, and to prepare for the sprint toward the Holidays!

Speaking of the Holidays, my Holiday activity for the months of November and December will be PINCHING PENNIES. Oy. I didn't find a renter for my house this winter, and that will very much limit my disposable income. Goodbye, hair color. Goodbye, coffee from Caribou. Goodbye, cute shoes and outfits for get-togethers. Goodbye, delivery boy from Jimmy John's.

I'm annoyed that I didn't write a blog about the Desiring God Conference because I really had a great weekend there. The teaching was great and the fellowship (with my sister and her friends, as well as some church friends) was great. Maybe I'll go through my notes and make a post on it (but don't hold your breath).

I haven't felt so great physically over the last month. I got a nasty sickness in California (while there for work) and it just won't go away. Then there's this: I'm not sleeping well because I haven't been exercising. I haven't been exercising because I eat junk all day and don't feel up for it. I've been eating junk all day because I'm too tired and lazy to eat right. I'm too tired and lazy to eat right because I'm not sleeping well. I'm not sleeping well because I haven't been exercising. I haven't been exerci.....THIS, my friends, is what we call a vicious cycle. It must end, but I don't know where to start. OKAY, I DO know where to start, but I kinda don't care right now.....even though I really do care.....make sense? Ugh.

I have approximately 4,582 books I want to read, yet I sit around and watch too much TV. That annoys me.

Also annoying....the Vikings. And that is all I will say about that.

I have a desire for less clutter in my life. I think that means reorganizing some of the areas where I live (I've already started in the basement). I've decided I can't wait for a time when I have an entire weekend to dive into a huge reorganization project, so I just have to do it bit by bit. It may take me forever.

Okay, I have many other little random thoughts, but I am getting bored with this, so I imagine I've already lost any readers that have stuck with this post (or even happened upon this post at all after my hiatus).

Ta-ta for now. Here's to hoping I'll be more consistent in my blogging.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A Character in His Story

"Step outside your front door and look at today's stage. Speak. God will reply. He will speak to you. He gave you senses. Use them. He will parade His art. He will give you a scene, a setting for the day. He will give you conflict to overcome, opportunities for your character to grow or fail. But do not expect Him to speak in English. And do not expect Him to stay on whatever topic you might choose. His attention is everywhere and no story should be easy, as every reader knows."
N.D. Wilson, Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Time Flies...

...when you're busy!

Can't believe I haven't posted for basically all of September! Well, I can believe it, because things have been busy. With what?....
  • Cabin: had an AWESOME Labor Day Weekend at the cabin. LOTS of friends and family (I think there were 26 people there throughout the weekend...), lots of food and games. Dad did tons of work on the house for me, mom made tons of food, and I felt very thankful and blessed to have such a nice weekend at my home! The boat, dock, and lift are out, so summer is officially over! I've also been searching high and low to find a renter for the winter at the cabin, so that has meant lots of trips to Brainerd and back (mostly after work, which makes for some late nights) to show the house, but nothing has materialized yet.
  • Work: just got back from a week in California for sales meetings. I usually enjoy the change of pace, but I got really sick this last week, which was absolutely NO fun (especially the flight home). I'm glad to say I made it through a rough summer with work and have been excited about a busy September with a new set of doctors to call on and preparations for last week's meeting. It's been a good busy at work, which is nice.
  • Church: I've taken on some additional responsibilities with the Welcome Team at church, which I LOVE LOVE LOVE! September was busy with the start of the new ministry year (meetings, schedules, emails, more meetings, changing schedules, etc, etc, etc). I'm so thankful to have been plugged into a ministry I really love! Again, busy...but a good busy.
  • Fun with Friends: fill in the cracks of the month with [EACH OF THESE SHOULD HAVE BEEN A SEPARATE POST....OOPS] seeing Wicked again (AMAZING), GreekFest (best gyro EVER), going to Wheel of Fortune auditions (unbelievable people watching), my best friend from high school had a baby (TOO cute with SO much hair!), going to the Twins game (where we sat in the SECOND ROW BY THIRD BASE on a gorgeous night!!), small group meetings, girls' night in Uptown (I had the BEST sandwich ever...I was totally craving it the next day...and a blog I follow just happened to do a review on it recently) babysitting for cuties, birthday parties for college friends, kickball started again, basketball started again, dog sitting.....OH MY GOODNESS IT HAS BEEN SO BUSY AND SO FUN!
A friend of mine mentioned on her blog that she isn't blessed with the best memory, so her blog helps her to document her memories. I also do not have a great memory, so I need to be better about blogging! So, thanks to my sickness, I've had a nice lazy day at home (which hasn't happened in quite some time) and I'm catching up on cleaning, blogging, etc. Hope y'all are having a nice weekend!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

State Fair Adventures


I was lucky enough to go twice this year - which was great, because I felt like I had two totally different Fair experiences.

The first visit was for the Carrie Underwood concert. I went with my older sister and a few friends. Of course we went early to eat some food....I tried the pork chop on a stick for the first time and it was very tasty! Obviously I ate some cheese curds, had a yummy shake, and a HUGE glass of lemonade...some of my faves! I really liked the concert - it was basically just Carrie singing song after song. I really like her voice and her music and I think she is CUTE as a button, so that was great. I was hoping for some outfit changes and for a little more talking between songs, but I guess she didn't have enough time with the fireworks after her show or something (speaking of which...the fireworks were AWESOME!). So, basically, I loved my quick night at the Fair!

The next visit was the annual sisters' visit. We always go on the Friday before Labor Day and then head up to the cabin. We decided to go in the morning this year and get to the cabin early, which was a really good decision, I think. Thing is, IT WAS SO COLD! I've never had a cold Fair experience, and it really changed what I was in the mood to eat....which was kinda nice, because I tried all kinds of new things! Admittedly, I could have dressed more appropriately for the day, but I survived (I'm pretty much a wimp when it comes to the cold...). We started with crepes for breakfast and I also had coffee to warm me up. We've never had crepes and we liked them! Then I tried a gizmo (seasoned beef with red sauce and melted mozzarella on a hoagie bun) for the first time, as well as a fudge puppy (Belgian waffle on a stick dipped in dark chocolate with whipped cream and sprinkles on top). Another first time food was a deep fried cheeseburger (yum) as well as garlic fries (okay) shared with the sisters and my uncle and cousin who met up with us. I had some chocolate covered fruit instead of cheese curds this time, and I had cheese on a stick (DELICIOUS) instead of the pronto pups and corn on the cob the others ate. While my sisters stood in line for Sweet Martha's (mmmmmmm.....), I got a mocha from French Meadow to enjoy with the cookies. All in all, I'd say we ate our Fair share (get it??) in the few hours we were there!! I already miss the food, and can't wait to try all kinds of new things next year, too! I've added in some new favorites, and discovered the beauty of using the Blue Ribbon Bargain Book (I ended up saving at least a few pennies).

That's a little bit of a rambling post about our time at the Fair, but I know I'll be looking back at this next year when we (literally) make a list of what we want to eat (my uncle got a good eye-roll in when we pulled out our lists........)!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Family Vacation

I absolutely love my family’s annual vacation to Pennsylvania, and I look forward to it every summer. Reading, tanning, boating, eating, laughing, playing cards… is SO FUN.

But this year…..I couldn’t go.

I had already used up all of my vacation days on other fun trips, so I had to be an adult and stay home to work. What a BUMMER.

Luckily, I had some fun activities during the time that they were gone, but I was still disappointed to miss the trip. I decided to see how far behind I came out on the “Fun Scale” during the time the fam was vacationing without me. Every day I automatically started at -50 Fun Points purely for the fact that they were on vacation and I was not. Here’s how the breakdown came out (all Fun Points are from my perspective, so, for example, on really sunny, fun, vacation days for them, I went down 100 Fun Points. On days they had rain, I only went down 25 Fun Points. My sisters sent me videos throughout the week so I could stay up-to-date on their activities):

Them: Wake up at 3am to travel ALL day to rainy PA (-25 FP)
Me: Sleep in, long run, relaxing day, awesome wedding of a college roommate (+100 FP)
Cumulative FP = 75 FP

Them: Rainy day at the lake. Watch movies, play cards (-25 FP)
Me: Welcome Team at church, Pool Party and Pamper for the single girls in my small group, girl’s night dinner at a new restaurant (+100 FP)
Cumulative FP = 150 FP

Them: Another rainy day at the lake. Watch movies, play cards (-25 FP)
Me: Work. Drive to Brainerd to show the cabin to potential renters who never showed up (-75 FP)
Cumulative FP = 50 FP

Them: Another rainy day at the lake. Watch movies, play cards. Natives are getting restless (0 FP)
Me: Work. Friends over to grill and catch up (+50 FP)
Cumulative FP = 100 FP

Them: Another rainy day at the lake…… (0 FP)
Me: Work. Welcome Team Picnic for church (+50 FP)
Cumulative FP = 150 FP

Them: BEAUTIFUL day relaxing at my aunt and uncle’s pool (-100 FP)
Me: Work. Shop for weekend food. Drive to the cabin again to meet potential renters. Renters show up, but I will NOT be renting my house to them… (-50 FP)
Cumulative FP = 0 FP

Them: Another beautiful day at the pool. (-100 FP)
Me: Work. Drive to the cabin with Bethel friends. Campfire and fun (100 FP)
Cumulative FP = 0 FP

Them: Another beautiful day at the pool (-100 FP)
Me: Gorgeous day at the lake with friends: sleeping, boating, playing games, tanning, reading, grilling, laughing, discussing, relaxing….. (100 FP)
Cumulative FP = 0 FP

SO… much as I was missing being on vacation with my family, it turns out that I had a pretty good week after all, thanks to lots of great friends from church and college. I didn’t come out behind on the Fun Scale, and I’m definitely trying to soak up every little ounce of summer there is left!!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Weddings, Weddings

The last two weekends I have gone to VERY fun weddings. They marked the end of weddings for the summer, but I still have one in October to look forward to!

First was my cousin’s wedding. It was SO FUN and absolutely beautiful. My cousin and my little sister were born eight days apart, and I am barely two years older than them, so the three of us spent a lot of time together growing up. He’s grown up to become an amazing tennis player, and he met the sweetest girl ever at a tennis match – so they had a little tennis theme at the reception: tennis balls with their name and date as a party favor, tennis balls worked into the center pieces, and they walked under an arch of tennis racquets held by their wedding party when they entered the room. The food was AMAZING (can you say bacon wrapped fillet Mignon??) and they had the best coffee EVER (I’m still upset that I forgot to ask a server what kind of coffee that was!). The dance was a total blast, with the whole family (aunts, uncles, cousins) getting out on the dance floor and showing some (very awkward) moves. I even caught the bouquet! Overall, it was really a wonderful, wonderful day!

This past weekend was the wedding of a college roommate. She is one of the cutest, most fashionable people I know, so of course the whole day was perfectly styled. The bridesmaids had the best yellow dresses and the cutest pink and blue shoes – the bride wore a dress that didn’t go quite all the way to the ground in the front, and she had the most adorable blue shoes with a flower! The reception had awesome appetizers and a very cute lemon theme. During the dance they brought out “late-night snacks” (puppy chow!), which I thought was a great idea. It was another wonderful day….even though I failed to catch the bouquet that time!

Very excited for the next wedding in October!!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

90 Day Challenge

I have been MORE than lazy this summer. I haven't worked out since May, and I've been eating everything in sight. This is not a good combination. I've been trying to think of some ways to have better accountability in these areas, but I always came up with a reason to not follow through. The timing seemed right, then, when I got an email from my gym a few weeks ago about the 90 Day Challenge. I'm not really sure exactly what this all entails (since my official weigh in isn't until later today), but I do know that it is a fitness challenge to see who can trim the most weight/inches in the next 90 days. You are assisted by a trainer and you also get some nutrition guidance. There are some prizes on the line, too. A few friends of mine have also signed up, so between the trainer and my friends, I should have some good accountability.

A few months ago I took a nutrition course (which I failed to blog about). Of course people were there to learn how to eat better to lose and control weight, but the instructor also encouraged us to set two goals in changing our diet that didn't have to do with weight. My goals were to have more sustained energy throughout the day and to sleep better at night. I was really pleased with how I could see the results: when, what, and how much I ate was effecting my energy and sleeplessness. I have totally fallen away from any good habits I acquired in that class, but I hope to implement a few during the 90 Day Challenge.

When I do New Year's Resolutions or little personal challenges like this, I am tempted to try and change EVERYTHING in my life that I would like to be different: eating habits, sleeping habits, exercise habits, devotional habits, etc, etc, etc. I don't want to bite off more than I can chew this time because then I get discouraged and I don't change anything. So I wanted to have a small list to work off of for the next 90 days:
  • only one cup of black coffee a day
  • no soda
  • work out in the morning as much as possible
  • run a half marathon (Oct 17 Des Moines) - this will be the work out plan I will be following
  • not cutting out snacks completely, but making better choices with the snacks I do choose
  • drink more water (which should be easy since I drink about zero right now)
  • have a more consistent bedtime (hard to do in the summer, so we'll see about this one...)
  • have salad for lunch at least twice a week (I eat horrible at lunch everyday since I am bringing in all kinds of good (bad for you) food to clinics - like pizza, Boston Market chicken-meatloaf-sweet potatoes, pasta, LeAnn Chin, etc, etc, etc.....)
So....we'll see how it goes! I have to remind myself to take baby steps and not get discouraged. I feel a little crazy for signing up for a race that is only 10 weeks away, but if I'm not ready for it, I don't feel like I absolutely have to do it - it is just a nice goal for me to have.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Cheap Solution

I heard a blurb on the radio today about the annual Ikea catalog coming out. Apparently over 500,000 people in the metro get this catalog and they run out of copies of it at the store. I guess there's also a rush at the store around this time of year, and moms wait in line over an hour to get their kids into the child care area (maybe they just need a break from their kids and they're not all that interested in Ikea furniture after all...or maybe they are just going to grab 3.99 Swedish meatballs sans kiddos). I guess there is a lot of interest in cheap, modern, assembly-required furniture in the metro.

I really don't like shopping - especially when it's busy - so I'm lucky that I had my random urge to reorganize last weekend before this rush at Ikea starts. I had just returned from a weekend at the cabin and I was completely unpacked. As I sat down at the desk in the office to get ready for the work week, I felt totally unsatisfied with the space. I've felt that way for awhile and my roommate has expressed a desire to also have a desk in the office (I have been using her desk because she wasn't using it when I moved in four years ago), so I knew I needed to shop for some kind of work space solution in the near future. Either I was trying to procrastinate what really needed to be done or I was feeling extra motivated, but for some reason I dove into rearranging the office at 9 on Sunday night. After I adjusted the existing furniture, I made a stop at Target, Office Max, and Ikea on Monday to accumulate a new lamp, a new desk chair, and a new work table all for less than $100! And I'm so glad I didn't have to fight the Ikea-catalog-release crowds! The assembly for the chair and table I got at Ikea were amazingly straightforward, and by 7pm on Monday, the office had a whole new look! I'm excited about my great buys and the reorganized space, and my roommate is excited to set up an office space again. We're hopeful we'll have lots of productivity in our "new" office.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Staycation 2010

I had received a reward from work at the beginning of the year: two free nights at a Hilton brand hotel. My spring was busy with travel already, so I kept procrastinating the use of the reward until I figured out just the right spot with just the right people. When I realized last week that my reward was about to expire, I didn't have time to plan much: my ONLY opportunity was to use the reward on the upcoming weekend!

In a matter of a few days, I had booked a three-room suite in downtown Minneapolis and had set up a nice little staycation.

I took the lightrail into downtown after work on Friday (since I didn't want to pay for parking over the weekend) and checked into my hotel. I settled in just a bit, and then a friend who lives downtown took me to have pizza with some other friends in St Paul. BEST PIZZA EVER. Mama's Pizza on Rice in St Paul. Eat the Italian Fries. You will not be sorry. Had such a fun night of laughing and eating.

After my friend dropped me off at my hotel, I enjoyed watching lots and lots of cable (something I don't have at home). Mostly I watched Say Yes to the Dress. If I didn't know what I wanted for a wedding dress before, I do now (okay, that's a total lie - I'm way too indecisive to know what kind of dress I want - especially when it's an imaginary decision at this point!).

I slept in (SO LATE) on Saturday and had breakfast at a little crepe place downtown. I got my favorite coffee at Dunn Bros. and did some shopping. I have loved Saks Off 5th ever since I got a steal on a dress I have worn to a lot of weddings there. I went there with my fingers crossed that I would find another steal....and BOY, DID I!! I found the most CUTE dress - originally $256 - for a total of $34.99! Without a coupon! I was so happy. I'm hardly ever successful when I shop, so it was so nice to walk out with not just a great deal, but a pretty dress.

Then I met my sister for lunch downtown. It was so fun to sit out on the sidewalk and try new food and chat. We parted ways and I went back to my room to clean up and watch a movie or two while I did so.

Then my friends started to arrive. I was SO thankful that on a summer weekend night I was able to round up some girls - six, in fact - who were able to enjoy my staycation with me! We decided to head to the rooftop at Seven. When we got there, we were met with a lot of "OH, you don't have a reservation??", so we weren't sure we were going to get a spot....but all of a sudden we were being seated on the rooftop on big couches in the shape of a U under a beautiful trellis! The weather was perfect, the setting was so pretty, and the company was great! We had awesome sushi and stayed there for quite awhile. Then we decided to head to the rooftop at Brit's - another great setting on a beautiful night. A few of the girls came back to the hotel and spent the night and it was just such a fun night overall! I felt so happy to have such great friends - lots of great conversation that night.

Sunday morning I got up and - here is the only bad part of my weekend - took the lightrail home, only to FORGET THE BAG WITH MY DRESS ON THE LIGHTRAIL! Once I got back to my car, I hunted down the train I was on (I felt like a crazy person.....), and when I found it, the bag was already gone. I called lost and found today, and they haven't seen the bag either. It's okay, though. I was glad that I was on my way to church when I lost the dress to give immediate perspective to the fact that it's only a dress. Even if it was GORGEOUS!

After church I had lunch with some favorite people and then headed home to unpack a little and read. A nice, lazy afternoon. Later that night, I met up with some girls from church at a water park in St Louis Park. I completely love the water, and I forgot how much I like to go down body slides and practice my diving (that is, until I chickened out on a swan dive and got a nice smack on my legs and face). Definitely a random, fun night. Then I had some late night pizza with my AP and wished the weekend wouldn't end during my entire drive home.

Ahhhhhh, Staycation 2010 was just what I needed.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

In My Purse

My purse needs to be cleaned out. In addition to the normal pursey things (money, chapstick, kleenex, camera, gum, advil), I've collected some random items over the summer in my purse - including:
  • earrings
  • cortisone cream (OH, I forgot to mention the horsefly bite that nearly caused me to lose my leg....)
  • a phone charger
  • socks (?)
  • mosquito spray
  • playing cards
  • a toothbrush
My goodness. I'm not even a mom - why in the world to I have so many random things in my purse?! I can only chalk it up to the fact that it's been a fun, random summer so far!

Even More Suggestions

In response to my last post, my sister sent me a link to an awesome source for even more fun suggestions of things to do in the cities. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Some Tasty Suggestions

I love living close to fun places to eat - the problem is that I don't take advantage of it enough! I told myself that I wanted to get to few more of these fun places that I've never visited sometime this summer, and so far I've done pretty well (checked off the list: Brasa, Matt's Bar, Psycho Suzy's). I also like getting a few magazines that inform me of these places. The August MN Monthly Mag had a list of 24 great places to eat or drink outdoors:

The Drive-In, Taylors Falls
Al Vento, Mpls
The Kitchen, Stillwater
Bar Lurcat, Mpls
The Dakota Jazz Bar and Restaurant, Mpls
Aperitif, Woodbury
Aster Cafe, Mpls
Bricks American Pub, Blaine
Campiello, Eden Prairie
D'amico Kitchen, Mpls
Black Forest Inn, Mpls
La Grolla, St Paul
Molly Cool's Seafood Tavern, Lakeville
Moto-I, Mpls
Happy Gnome, St Paul
Muffaletta, St Paul
Northcoast, Wayzata
Uptown Cafeteria, Mpls
Sea Change, Mpls
Meritage, St Paul
The Sample Room, Mpls
Tria Restaurant Bar and Market, North Oaks
W.A. Frost, St Paul

I've been to a number of those places, but there are definitely a few on that list that I've been hearing about and I want to get to sometime soon!

I also subscribe to the Groupon emails, and I've gotten a few coupons to places I've been wanting to try (Stabby's Cafe is one of them; Town Talk Diner is another. Both are so close to my house, and I've heard that the TTD has the best cheese curds short of being at the State Fair! Can't wait to check those out!)

I can't remember which magazine I found the following list in, but I wanted to include it in this post so that I can remember a few of these places to get to at some point (like to Dave's Popcorn - I've driven past it every day for almost four years and I've never tried anything from there!):

Least Inviting BBQ Place that has Great BBQ: JC’s BBQ 2117 W Broadway Ave, Mpls
Business Worthiest of the mantra, “Cavities are Temporary, Carmelcorn is Forever”: Dave’s Popcorn 1848 E 38th St, Mpls
Best Pit-Stop Meal: Hot City Pizza (specialty is white pizza with garlic sauce)
Best View of Downtown St. Paul: River Boat Grill 105 Harriet Island Rd, St Paul
Best Soul Food: The Favor Café 913 W Lake St, Mpls
Best Road Trip-worthy Burger Place with a Slightly Misleading Name: The Ox Yoke Inn, 261 CR 92, Maple Plain

Sunday, July 18, 2010


Friends and friendships have been on my mind lately. I thought I had started a post about friendships another time, and I found it in my drafts from last August! So maybe summer is a time when I end up evaluating my friendships for some reason, but nonetheless, here are some thoughts I've been kicking around..... (warning: lengthy post with lots of links about to commence....)

I am clearly in a different stage of life than most of my close friends. When they entered marriage and I was still single I was in a different stage, but now the gap has widened more with children. And as those children become toddlers and even more kids are added to the mix, I feel the gap spread further.

I completely ADORE my friends kids, and I'm so thankful that I get to babysit, hang out, and egg them on just a little during some dinners. I feel very strongly that even though I'm not investing in my own marriage right now, I can use the extra time I have to babysit and allow my friends the time to invest in their marriages. I love watching my friends learn to parent and I actually don't mind the discussions about sleep schedules, eating habits, and how to discipline. But the fact remains that I'm still single and that life (having kids) is not my life (as much as I would like it to be).

So when I read this article, I resonated with a lot of what she wrote. These friendships aren't going to come as naturally anymore. We aren't living together at college. We aren't taking the same classes. We aren't living in the same city in some cases. Here are a few paragraphs that I thought were awesome:

While this social divide is understandable, it certainly isn't biblical. In the early church, believers didn't distinguish between marrieds and singles; they simply lived in community and "gave to anyone as he had need" (Acts 2:45). God intends his church to unite despite the many cultural differences separating it: There "should be no division in the body, but … its parts should have equal concern for each other" (1 Corinthians 12:25).

To follow this biblical pattern, my married friends and I had to push through obstacles that would have robbed us of treasured relationships. While I wanted to draw close to these dear souls, at the same time I wanted to withdraw from them to avoid facing what I didn't have: a husband, children, and a seemingly endless social circle. I wrestled with an internal tug-of-war between opposing inclinations: I want to be with you—I can't bear to be with you. I loved the friends, but hated the painful reminders. So I had to make intentional choices not to run away from married friends.

And they had to figure out how to fit me into their ever-changing social structure. Significant life transitions, such as marrying, having a first baby, and then having multiple children, challenged our relational dynamic. With each transition, my friends' social circles and extended family widened, leaving us fewer opportunities to spend time together.

She also gives practical advice on how to keep and create friendships that bridge that "aisle" (look for commonalities, check your attitude, make compromises, maintain open communication, consider sensitive issues). I STRONGLY encourage you to read this article if you are in this type of friendship (on either the married or the single side).

I especially appreciated the advice she had to offer on maintaining open communication. This is an area where I am surprisingly deficient. Why am I so hesitant to tell my closest friends what I am really feeling (about our friendship or otherwise)? This only makes me feel more isolated, and that's not healthy. I think part of it is acknowledging that neither of us completely understands the others' situation (they've never been "extendedly" single, and I've never been married with kids) while understanding that we still want to be there for each other. An interesting landscape to traverse.

I'm so grateful for the time my married friends and friends with children make for me (especially when I read an article like this which reminds me how draining their days are), but I do sometimes fall into a funk of wishing it was different. Wishing I was invited on couples' nights (that was a huge struggle for me in college), wishing I was someone's best friend, wishing I could attend play dates with all the kids (and my own). But that's just not how things are, and that is wasted time feeling sorry for myself. When I read this series on friendships, I was reminded of two things: to not be jealous [#2 - Don't be clingy] (I've had jealous friends before, and that is not becoming of anyone), and to recognize that friends will fail you [#5]. I shouldn't be so quick to be offended when a friend "fails" me. I'm more than sure that I've failed them before! Only Jesus never fails, so it is important for me to remember that my hope is not in my friends (the number, the quality, the depth, etc) - my hope is in Jesus.

When my friends first started getting married I remember that I would constantly think (if not just say out loud) "I need more single friends, I need more single friends!" I didn't want to feel like I was the only single person, because I knew that I wasn't - but I just happened to be friends with all of the girls who got married! I'm glad that in the last few years more single girls have been coming to my church, so I have gotten to know some of them better. My AP and I have been forced into a fast friendship, based on the nature of how quickly you get to know someone when you are confessing sin, encouraging one another, and pointing out areas of strength and weakness. Though we've never actually said these exact words to each other, I think she and I are trying to operate more and more under this type of relationship (taken from this article):

"I know that this sounds crazy but I really trust you and value your perspective. So I want to invite you to share things with me that will be difficult for me to hear. When (not if) you see sin in my life that you don't think that I'm aware of, please point it out to me. When (not if) you see me making mistakes with my kids or my spouse, please tell me. Everything is fair game. Nothing is off limits.

I wish that I could promise that I would immediately respond with humility and repentance but that might not always be true. But I will promise that I won't hold your comments against you and let it ruin our friendship. I want you to know that I will see your willingness to say hard things to me as a sign that you are a real friend and not an enemy giving false or superficial praise."

I think as a single person you receive a lot of superficial (if not completely generic) praise: "I can't believe you're still single!" "How has no one snatched you up yet?" "Those guys don't know what they're missing!" I'm finding it more and more important to have the kinds of friends who tell you what they really see going on in your life, good or bad, and specifically. I think those kinds of friendships prepare me more for that type of openness and honesty with the future husband I hope is out there somewhere.

There is more I want to say on this topic (possibly something about the types of friends you should have, and how you have to be the kind of friend you want to have......), but I've said plenty. I'm glad to get some of this down on "paper" and I'd love to hear your thoughts on how you "bridge the divide" with your married friends (for you singles) and your single friends (for you marrieds). And if you are married and you've never given this topic any thought, I guarantee your single friends have, and they might love if you opened up that conversation with them!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Sew Fun

I mentioned a little while back that I have many babies entering my life. As of about a month ago, I had 12 pregnant friends - six of them are girls who had me in their weddings (HW, MS, AD, AH, LM, JW)! Now two of those girls have their babies in their arms already (one baby all the way from Africa!!) and I am getting behind on baby gifts already! After spending $70 at Babies-R-Us last week, I decided some of these kiddos are going to be getting some handmade gifts (of the inexpensive variety). My sister also asked me how to make some burp cloths, which are a little tough to explain without demonstrating (or having pictures), so I just thought I would document it here for her!

Here are the instructions for flannel burp rags:

1. Choose four flannel fabrics and cut them into 12"x12" blocks
2. Stack the blocks in the order you want the fabrics (this will make sense after you see the final product, but I usually have a print on the back and three coordinating plain flannels on top). Place the first fabric right side DOWN, and the other three fabrics on top of it, right side UP.
3. Using 3/4" masking tape, place tape diagonally across the fabric stack, evenly spaced at 3/4" apart.4. Pin the four fabrics together.5. Using a coordinating color of thread, sew alongside the masking tape. Try to avoid sewing on the masking tape since that makes it harder to pull off cleanly. I flipped this over in the picture so that you can see how it looks along the back (you might have to look pretty close here...sorry...).5. Remove the tape and cut through the top TWO fabrics between every area that you sewed. (Try to keep your cutting as much in the center of each section as possible)6. This is what the burp rag will look like after you complete your cutting. Trim the threads from the edges. Wash and dry.7. Done! (Trim the edges again after washing and drying).So, that's what I've done in the past for burp rags. It's pretty fast and kinda cute, BUT I think I discovered an even better burp rag idea! Here it is:

1. Wash, dry, and iron a cloth diaper. Cut out a piece of flannel to the same size as the diaper. Pin the two together.
2. Sew along the outer edge of the diaper with a coordinating color thread. I also sewed along the edges of the middle section of the diaper to add just a little something visually (you can barely see that in this photo).
3. Sew on a binding of a coordinating color. If you don't know how to do binding, follow the instructions found on this page. (Side note: I started with a 2.5" piece of fabric for the binding, but if I did it again, I would use 3" due to the thickness of the diaper and the flannel. When trying to complete the binding by hand, I was wishing there was more fabric to fold over the edge.) (Another side note: I think completing the continuous binding is the absolute most confusing thing there is about sewing/quilting. So just take a deep breath, go slowly, and try to just do it right the first time. Ugh.)4. Hand sew the binding on to complete your project. SO easy, SO cute, and SO inexpensive. The greatest thing about this project is that you barely need any fabric, so you can search the the remnants at your favorite fabric outlet and get a steal! I'll be able to make about four burp rags out of the fabric I bought out of the remnants for $2.99! And, even though I've never been a mom, the mom I am hanging out with this weekend while I finished this sewing said that this type of burp rag will probably be very useful and practical, too. Score!
(Final side note: I got this idea when I saw a burp rag given to a friend that had a cute fabric sewn down the middle part of the diaper. That would also be an awesome project/gift, but I don't have a machine that does the cute stitches, so I wanted to do something where I could finish off the edges. But if you have a machine like that, that's another idea! Wouldn't it be cute if you used the same fabric and did one burp rag each way as a gift?? Sew fun!)