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!)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Long Week

This felt like such a long week. Maybe it's because my last few weeks weren't five-days-of-work long. It definitely feels like tonight should be Friday and I DO NOT want to go to work tomorrow.

More likely it felt long because I was tired. I got annoyed with my friends easily. I felt "wronged" a few times, and I let myself harbor those feelings. I chose my ego - many, many times.

This week, I did not value my relationships like I should have.

(HT: 22 Words)

Monday, July 12, 2010

An Eventful Weekend

Sorry to bore some (most) of you with lists of what I've been up to lately (which is what much of my recent blogging has been), but that is somewhat the purpose of this blog - for me, anyway. I hope to get into some more reflections/thoughts soon, but I've simply been too BUSY to do it! Here's what the last week looked like:
  • A nice, low-key Fourth at the cabin with my parents and family friends.
  • Quick three-day work week (LOVE short work weeks)
  • Took Friday off to judge Miss Northwest. It was the 75th Annual Water Carnival, so they did a nice job of getting many former queens to come back for the evening. All of the judges were past Miss Northwests, and we had fun reminiscing about our favorite parts of our reigns. (Side note: judging is a VERY interesting endeavour. I feel much more at peace with the pageants I didn't win having now served on the other side of things. Judges all are opinionated in their own ways, and even judges can be curious as to who the winner will actually be! When you have evenly matched contestants and a panel that doesn't speak at all about their leanings, it makes for an interesting outcome - which I think is how it should be)
  • Went to a cabin on Saturday with friends from high school and their wives. I love, love, love those people. So fun to ride on the boat and attempt to wake board (unsuccessfully - still mad about that....) and laugh, laugh, laugh.
  • Went to my cabin Saturday night with my mom and sister. Had a good time chatting, eating, and watching (sleeping through) a movie. Sunday was spent cleaning and I ran a few errands to spruce up the cabin in preparation for many, many weeks straight of guests. So fun!
So, it was an eventful weekend. It was also eventful on the home front - I came home to find the boy had gotten stitches after a run-in with a Mastiff! His five-pound frame looked like a yummy snack to the hundred pound dog! His bad haircut now looks even worse where they shaved his head and neck to do the stitching. He's lucky to be alive, and I'm beginning to think he actually is a cat - with nine lives and all!

Hope you all are getting every single ounce out of summer that you can! It's going to be gone before we know it!!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

New Book

I started a new book this weekend - Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. It's one of my sister's favorite books, so I've been looking forward to reading it. I started it while sitting on the dock with three fun girls, so I didn't really do much reading, but I already like it. Here is something I loved from page 5:

They were passing remarks back and forth the way they do and laughing that wicked way they have. And it seemed beautiful to me. It is an amazing thing to watch people laugh, the way it sort of takes them over. Sometimes they really do struggle with it. I see that in church often enough. So I wonder what it is and where it comes from, and I wonder what it expends out of your system, so that you have to do it till you're done, like crying in a way, I suppose, except that laughter is much more easily spent.

I think I'm going to like it! Now on to page 6....

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Time Flies

Okay, so this is a day late, but I am just now catching up on my internets from the Holiday. I saw a few different places on Twitter and blogs that yesterday was the date that Marty McFly traveled to in Back to the Future. Crazy! Where's my hover board?! I especially like the picture above that I found via a friend's blog (her title of "The Future is Now" is perfect. Well played.).

I LOVE BACK TO THE FUTURE. I watch it at least three times a summer at the cabin. So it is strange that we have arrived at a day that felt so far away when I first watched those movies.

All of this is more interesting to me in light of a book I read over the weekend and a few conversations I had as a result of it. The book was The Devil in the White City by Erik Larsen. It is about the World's Fair in Chicago in 1893. The chapters move back and forth between the story of the architecture of the Fair and a serial killer that was on the loose in Chicago at that time. It is absolutely fascinating (if you are a big geek like me), but I will also say it is a bit gorey. What is so amazing is to think about how they actually built buildings at that time - with steam (no electricity other than cutting edge incandescent bulbs) and horses (no cars/machinery). The serial killer was a doctor, so the book also talks about the coming of age in medical practices. Very intriguing.

In 1893, visitors to the World's Fair couldn't believe they had built buildings that were 21 stories high, let alone the fact they were frightened to death of this contraption called the Ferris Wheel. Twenty-five years ago, someone imagined hover boards for Back to the Future, and while we don't really have that, or clothes that dry themselves on our bodies, we essentially have libraries that we can carry in our pockets, and computers we use as phones. Pretty amazing. Or, as Doc Brown would say, "Great Scott!"

Monday, July 5, 2010

Not A Morning Person

I am NOT a morning person. I don't think I ever will be. I have tried to be one - and failed. Miserably. Even my attempt to workout in the mornings was a bust. It lasted about one week.

I think a lot of people think it's more "noble" (or something) to be a morning person. And I sorta get that - early bird gets the worm and blah, blah, blah. "Being a morning person is more dignified" is such a commonly held notion that Stuff Christians Like has a post about how we assume God is a morning person and Satan is a night owl.

But I've stopped feeling bad about it. I'm more productive at night. I need my sleep so that I'm productive throughout the day. I can't even tell you how many times I've tried to change my sleep schedule so that I go to bed earlier and get up earlier. But it doesn't stick. My insomnia certainly hasn't helped in the past, but I know that there are some things that I can do to help improve my sleep and slightly change my sleep schedule.

I came across a list of six tips to survive sleep deprivation. They are very helpful for me:
  1. Scale back your commitments
  2. Use caffeine wisely
  3. Plan your meals and snacks carefully
  4. Take naps when possible
  5. Plan your schedule around your natural rhythms
  6. Prioritize your to-do list
I already do pretty well with #6, but I could improve in #1-4 in order to decrease some of my sleep deprivation. #5 just reinforces my theory that it is best for me to get my sleep in the mornings and burn the oil a little more at night when I am naturally more productive and alert.

I know that I can't just sleep my mornings away (it does nothing but clutter up your day), and I've been known to exhibit some extraordinary snoozing techniques in my day (I'm a big fan of #1 and #2), so I do need to have a better grasp on getting up at a certain time - but that certain time will still not be obnoxiously early. I'm going to work on a good balance of getting better sleep and being productive with the time I am awake. We'll see what shakes out in the next few months.