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Friday, March 30, 2012

Adios March!

March has been filled with unseasonably warm weather and plenty of fun. Yet, I’m happy to see it go.

Every time I dressed in short sleeves and left the house without a coat my mind was tricked into thinking it was May. And after May comes June. And with June comes our wedding.  So I’m fully on board with putting March behind us.

April will be sure to bring many fun adventures.

A weekend trip to Denver/Boulder with Sean’s family, where we’ll get to visit Sean’s brother, his girlfriend, and Sean’s best friend.
{Via}
My sister’s birthday.

{Via}

The start of our 8th softball season.


My first two bridal showers. 
{Via}
And the 2-month mark till the big day.
{Via}

So bring it on, April.  I’m ready for you!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

House colors: Decisions, decisions

Remember when I told you about the contractor who came to our door offering to work with us to get new siding , but turned out to be from a company in trouble with the BBB? Well, while we didn’t go with their company, we did decide to pursue the opportunity further.

We had a different (read: legitimate) company come out and take a look, and then got in touch with our insurance who sent out an adjuster to take a look, too. We’re still in the process (one our contractor says can be lengthy and frustrating at times), but we’re hopeful that all will work out. Our current siding is very old, so they cut off a chunk of it for testing to verify that it isnt made anymore (in which case, we'd have to re-side the whole house, not just 1 wall - that's a good thing!). They patched it up with duct tape and it’s quite the sight for sore eyes, so we better get new siding!
So lately you can often find me pulled over to the side of the road, iPhone in hand, snapping pictures of strangers’ houses for inspiration. It started on a walk with some friends last weekend, and ever since houses just catch my eye and I feel the urge to stop the car and take a picture. Creepy much?

But honestly, I just love looking at some of these colors. Originally we thought we were set on a dark grey, but now I’m a bit overwhelmed with all of the options. Granted, what looks best on one house may not look best on ours, but it’s still fun to dream.

Take a look (some are the photos I’ve taken and others I pulled from the Internet).

{Really like this dark grey. We don't have shutters (nor does our house look like this) so there'd be no black accents}

{A good tan option. Looks especially nice with the crisp white trim and wood dor}
{A poor product of a cloudy morning and the zoom feature on my iPhone. It's actually a soft green that looks quite nice}

{Via. I am liking the use of shakes here, something our contractor has us considering for our own house}

{Via. And now I'm in love - the perfect combination of the greys we like AND the use of shakes to add dimension}
{Via. Again with the shakes, and a nice green, too. Decisions!}
{Via.  Love this other take on a tan/white. And the window boxes - I keep telling Sean we need these!}
So there you have it. We're not really going toward blues, yellows, or reds, as you can tell. I even tried out Sherwin Williams' color visualizer but it wasn't working right for the exterior of our house (side note: if you're thinking of painting a room or two, check it out, it's so fun to see what it might look like in different colors).

So what do you think? Which colors do you like best? And what do you think - shakes or no shakes? (They're the shingle-like things often used at the top of houses; i had no clue until our contractor taught me a few things!)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Makes me smile every time

I’m buried over here in a sea of random tasks. I can’t seem to pull my mind together long enough to string cohesive thoughts into anything worth reading.

So instead of rambling on, I thought I’d share one of my favorite YouTube videos with you.

A friend sent it to me quite a while ago (it’s a few years old by now), but this little boy cracks me up. He’s destined to be an entertainer, I think.


Enjoy! I’ll pull myself together and be back tomorrow.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Embracing my muffin top

{Via}
On Monday I started writing a post about weight—about struggling with it and learning to embrace my flaws. But I kept finding myself stuck. Then, this morning, I read Lori’s post at A Crazy Walk on the Safe Side, an adorable blog I recently started following.

Aside from the fact that my headed nodded up and down in agreement through the whole thing, I was inspired. Ready to be honest with myself. Motivated to get serious. And comforted that I am not the only person who feels these ways sometimes.

Earlier this week I was chatting with a new coworker and the topic of weight loss came up. She was surprised when I told her that three years ago I was roughly 60 pounds heavier than I am today.

She (who is on her own weight loss journey and has lost 50+ pounds in the last year) told me that just the other day, I walked into a meeting and she thought to herself, “I’d love to be built like her.” I was shocked. Me? The person who beats herself up daily because my ass is nonexistent and I carry 90% of my weight in my flabby, muffin-top stomach. (Sidenote: Funny enough that it came up because she considers her downfall her butt, and I consider mine my stomach - but it's interesting how other people don't notice the things we're often hardest on ourselves for)

But who hasn’t done that before—looked at someone and envied them for something we struggle to see in ourselves?

All too often, it seems, we make ourselves feel even guiltier by comparing ourselves to others. But we all have our own insecurities. We’re all fighting our own battles. I can’t be anything but uniquely me. So sure, I’m a bit disproportionate. I have a hard time finding pants that button over my tummy but don’t look baggy in my ass and hips. I have a big head and a round, kind of chubby-looking face. But that’s who I am. It’s how God made me and there’s only so much within my control.

{Via}
But when it is in my control, it’s time to be held accountable again. I can have just as much fun going out to eat with friends if I get fruit instead of French fries. I don’t need to have a handful of jelly beans just because the bowl is there when I walk by.

Too often lately I catch myself banking on exceptions. “I can have this frozen yogurt, just once.” But enough exceptions add up to a routine. And I’m so not on board with returning to a routine that involves unhealthy choices and overeating. Besides, exceptions are a lot more enjoyable when they really are an exception—a treat every now and then.

So thanks to Lori for helping me collect my thoughts today.

I think in the end, for me, it’s all about balance. Accepting who I am. Being confident in my skin. Seeing myself in a positive light, instead of always beating myself up over the negative. And maintaining the motivation to push harder, reach my goals, and stay healthy.

{Via}
So here’s to starting the weekend off on the right foot…

Happy Friday!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Living up to the song

I was jamming out to my iPod at work the other day, trying to make it through the gray afternoon with a certain level of productivity—and with my eyes open. A song popped up that always makes me chuckle a little.

In high school (and into college) I dated this boy I had met through my best friend’s brother. Let’s call him Brad. Our relationship, if you can really even call it that, was a bit tumultuous. Things never seemed to go the way they’re supposed to, and while things were off and on for a few years, we spent much more time apart than we ever did together.

One summer day our roller coaster of a relationship was just back on the uptick and Brad invited me to go boating with him and a mutual friend . We’ll call him Jack. After we dropped the boat in the water, Brad went to park the car and Jack asked me how things were going with Brad.

“Eh, fine for now” was about all I could say, complete with a roll of my eyes. I couldn’t figure Brad out and was beginning to wonder if I was crazy for giving our relationship another shot. It might be, I told Jack, time to admit that he just wasn’t as committed to making things work as I was.

Jack laughed. I glared, not finding it particularly funny. But then he explained himself, revealing some of the things Brad had shared with him just that morning that may make me feel differently. The kicker, as Jack described it, was that a song had come on the radio on their way to pick me. Brad turned it up and told Jack to be quiet because the song reminded him of me. Jack said it was all Brad could talk about for miles.

I wasn’t familiar with the song at the time so of course the first thing I did when I got home was look it up. Even then I had to laugh. It’s a sweet song, at the root of it, but it’s a little funny, too. I have to admit, some parts of it sound pretty true. So maybe Brad knew me better than I thought after all.

Obviously things didn’t work out with us. And thank God for that, because now I’m with the person I’m meant to spend the rest of my life with. But every time I hear that song, I still have to laugh a little—at the truth in the lyrics and at the funny way the song came into my life. And at the fact that Sean would probably say the song sounds like me, too. Am I really that transparent? J

So what song is it?

Have a listen.

She's Every Woman by Garth Brooks on Grooveshark

I'd have to say the opening part sounds most, er, familiar:
“She’s sun and rain, she’s fire and ice
A little crazy but it’s nice
And when she gets mad, you best leave her alone
‘Cause she’ll rage just like a river
Then she’ll beg you to forgive her..."

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Choosing groosmen gifts

{Via}
Sean and I feel incredibly blessed to have several close friends and family members stand up with us on our wedding day. With 6  bridesmaids and groomsmen on each side, plus 2 personal attendants and 2 ushers, we’re going to have quite the party.

The time, money, and support they’re giving us by being part of our wedding does not go unnoticed. So that’s why we want to find just the right gifts for each of them.

Quite honestly, the girls are easy. I can think of a dozen things I’d like to get each of them. (Unfortunately our budget doesn’t allow for a dozen things each, but at least we have lots of options).

But when it comes to the guys, we’re just at a loss. Part of their gift will be the ties that we picked out for the wedding day. But let’s face it, that’s kind of boring. I’ve been racking by brain trying to come up with ideas for them and I seem to be getting nowhere.

Two of our groomsmen (brothers) aren’t yet 21, so that rules out things like a flask or beer mug (at least for those two; we could always do it for the others). While I’m sure they’d appreciate it, maybe even more than the older guys, I imagine it’d be frowned upon by our parents.

There are a lot of common suggestions out there:
·         Pocket knife
·         Personalized cuff links (except none of these guys are the cuff-link type)
·         Shaving bag/kit
·         Golf balls
·         Money clip
·         Beer mugs/flasks

The criteria I’m trying to follow are simple—it needs to be reasonably priced and something they’d actually use and appreciate. Personalization is fine, as long as it’s personalized to them, not to our wedding date (because let’s face it, they’re just not going to get much use out of something that bears our names and wedding date).

So here’s where I need your help. Any other creative ideas? Any strong feelings about any items on the list above? What did you do for wedding party gifts (or maybe received as being part of a wedding party)? I’m just feeling stuck…and it’s something we need to take care of soon.  Any and all thoughts are welcome!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Weekend happiness

Sometimes the happiest weekends are made up of nothing more than small, simple moments.

Friday was wonderfully uneventful. It was nearly 80 degrees and I opened my sunroof in the car for the first time all year. I did the grocery shopping a day early. We watched a few of our favorite shows on the couch. I painted my nails green for the coming holiday. Oh, and we discovered a leak in our bathroom and fretted about that for a while. Hey, not everything can go smoothly at once.


Saturday I woke up early, obviously in anticipation for such a fun holiday. I enjoyed the peace and quiet, leaving the TV off and listening only to the birds sing outside. I whipped up some cinnamon rolls (and by whipped up I mean opened a few cans of Pillsbury cinnamon rolls) with green frosting. We made our way to a friend’s house and enjoyed a delicious St. Patty’s Day brunch. We attempted to go downtown for the parade, but after nearly an hour of trying t find parking, we gave up and went home. Sean got his nap, so that pleased him greatly. I went to another friend’s house to stop in on their Irish party. Sean woke up and we met a few friends for lunch, where my best friend’s 5-month old flirted sweetly with the boys. They all came back to our house while we waited for the plumber, who told us the leak wasn’t as bad as we thought (and didn’t even charge us for the consultation). Sean and I visited Target and added a few more things to our registry. We bought a game and played it while enjoying homemade popcorn.


Sunday we went to the gym, to make up for missing our Saturday visit in observance of such an important holiday. I brought my car in for an overdue oil change. After they told me I needed new tires, we paid a visit to Sam’s Club to do some price comparison. We got much better tires and saved some money, bonus! To kill time while they mounted them, we enjoyed a snack and leisurely perused the warehouse aisles—dangerous! We restrained ourselves from buying everything we were drawn to, but still managed to spend a pretty penny to stock up on some handy essentials. Later, I finished laundry and prepared breakfast and lunches for the rest of the week. I did some quick shopping with my mom and sister, and then we went to my mom’s house to grill out for dinner. Two hours later we were home, the dog was worn out from play time at grandma’s, and I still had time to paint my nails.

On crisp, freshly laundered sheets, we fell asleep with the fan humming in the window, a soft but humid breeze floating over us—in March!

Happiness at its finest. Hoping for another weekend just like it in 5 short days.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day


One of my very favorite holidays!

We're off to have some Irish breakfast with friends, brave the crowds for the parade, and have some shamrock shakes with family.

Cheers!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Random letters

Dear mystery person who left a Cadbury Caramel Egg on my chair at work: After feeling a bit like this lately, your gift was the perfect escape (hello emotional eater). If this was a trap and the egg was in fact poisoned, your timing is impeccable (I kid, I kid).

{Via}
Dear God: I’ve heard you won’t bring us to it if you can’t bring us through it. I've been reminding myself that a lot lately. Putting my faith and trust in you.

Dear spring: Welcome back! You’re looking mighty hot so early in the year, but I’m digging it. Keep your friend winter away for good now, won’t you?


Dear sparkling water: Thank you for being there for me when I start craving soda. I promise I'm sticking with you!


Dear June 23: Hurry up. Please and thank you.

Dear iCloud: Thanks for making me sign up for you yesterday. You saved my butt this morning.

{Via}
Dear iPhone: Don’t ever pull that shit again. You can thank iCloud too for saving your ass. (p.s. I love you)

Dear life: Treat others how you want to be treated, mmm-kay? Counting on you for positive things in our future, please.

Dear Daylight Saving Time: You didn’t affect me at all this time around, except to bring a little extra sunshine to my days. We can still be friends.

Dear girl in front of me at kickboxing class: Don’t take this the wrong way, but your booty shorts inspired me to push a little harder today. Thank you!

Dear anyone brave enough to read this: Thanks for putting up with my randomness today. It’s all I got!

Monday, March 12, 2012

11 things

I’ve seen the "11 things" meme floating around and have been meaning to jump on the bandwagon. Then, I was tagged by my friend Caroline so I decided I have no more excuses for sitting out.

So, the rules:
·         Post a photo
·         Share 11 random things about yourself
·         Answer 11 questions from the person who tagged you
·         Create 11 new questions

Here we go!
{Most recent picture of myself - Sean and me on my birthday}
11 things about me
  1. Sometimes I force myself to wait to eat lunch until at least 12:30, even though I’m hungry at noon, just so I can feel a little closer to the end of the (work) day by the time I’m finished.
  2. In college (freshman year maybe?) I desperately wanted a black Jeep Grand Cherokee. I even went so far as to find one for sale online and go test drive it with one of my friends. My mom told me I was crazy, and though I didn’t realize it at the time, she was right. But…I finally own a black Jeep Grand Cherokee now!
  3. I told you a couple weeks ago about how I keep talking myself out of getting an iPhone. Well guess what? Finally gave in! Love it already.
  4. I tore cartilage in my shoulder in high school and had to have surgery, which put a big damper on softball career. I still play recreationally, but would love to get into coaching some day.
  5. I once had an “extra” tooth. I had some teeth pulled and when a new one didn’t come in, they did some x-rays and found I had two teeth waiting to come in one spot. They had to go in and remove one, put a bracket on the other, and attach it to a chain so they could pull it down slowly over time. And that was just the first time I had braces. Nerd! No wonder I hate my elementary school photos.
  6. I used to be terrified of dogs. My family finally got one when I was 21. Now, I would probably own 10 if I could.
  7. I don’t have a favorite color. Seriously. As a teenager I loved baby blue. Then I moved on to pink, but that got old fast. Now, I truly don’t have a color preference, for anything!
  8. I’ve never seen the mountains. But…that’s all going to change when we go to Denver next month. Can’t wait!
  9. I don’t drink coffee or soda. I’ve never liked coffee, and I gave up soda 3 years ago. A lot of people are surprised, especially my coworkers who ask if I want to join them for a coffee run. Some days I think I should learn to like coffee so I can get a caffeine fix, but most days I’m perfectly fine without it.   
  10. I have reoccurring dreams (or nightmares, rather) about my teeth falling out. I don’t know why or what it means, but at least once a month. I wake up in a panic every time. (Hah, maybe it’s related to #5.)
  11. I was an only child until I was 10. Now I love being a big sister to my brother and sister who are 10 and 13 years my junior.
Caroline’s questions: 
  1. Do you save all of your receipts for your purchases? If yes, how long do you keep them? I'm terrrible at this! My mom would be so disappointed, but I rarely save receipts. Usually only for big stuff—computers, TVs, appliances—or gifts, in which case I file them away indefinitely.
  2. The best day in your life? Tough one! I imagine it will soon become my wedding day. So far, though, I’d probably have to save a day from a vacation Sean and I have taken. We have the most fun travelling together, and it’s been too long!
  3. Your favorite organizational tip? Labels and categories. When it comes to organizing things, I love having different labels or categories to keep things straight. Our file cabinet has a folder for almost everything. My wedding binder has a section for every aspect of the big day. My closet is organized into types of clothes (dresses, pants, jeans, sweaters, etc.). My email inboxes (personal and work) are broken out into different categories. Definitely makes thing easier to find!
  4. What time do you usually go to bed at night? We always go to bed early. Sometimes I wish we didn’t, but I’m usually thankful for it when the alarm buzzes the next morning. We typically head to bed around 8 and watch some TV before falling asleep by 8:30 or 9.
  5. Do you consider yourself a Facebook/Internet-aholic? Oooh, kind of. Sometimes I think I’m a little too connected to the Internet at all times. I mean, what could possibly be going on out there that I have to check from my work computer, phone, at home, etc.?!? Honestly though, I don’t think it’s toooo bad. (Denial??)
  6. How often do you talk to your parents? My mom and I talk almost every single day. In fact, it’s unusual if we go a day without talking. Even if just for a few minutes, we always check in to see what’s going on with each other.
  7. One good recipe to share…family friendly, please? How fun! I love my family’s Chicken Wild Rice casserole. Find it here!
  8. If you won an expense free vacation for you and a guest, to leave tomorrow, where would you go and why? I’d have to choose somewhere in Europe. I’ve never been overseas and I’m dying to see so many places - Ireland, Italy, England, Spain, Greece, not necessarily in that order.
  9. What is your most prized material thing? Great question! My car maybe? (Or my house, if that counts!)
  10. What is your favorite and least favorite household chore? Favorite is probably vacuuming; it’s easy and I love seeing the results. Least favorite is definitely sweeping/mopping – I just hate it!
  11. What is the best gift you’ve ever received? Is it fair to say my engagement ring? Because honestly I tell Sean that all of the time—it has such sentimental value and is beautiful (in my biased opinion). No other gift will ever compare. If that doesn't count, I’d have to say the DSLR camera I got for my birthday a few years ago.
11 questions from me:
  1. What’s your all-time favorite vacation spot?
  2. If you could have any job in the world, what would it be?
  3. Favorite snack food?
  4. Proudest accomplishment?
  5. Biggest pet peeve?
  6. How many different cities have you lived in? Which is your favorite?
  7. Are you a morning person or a night owl?
  8. What’s one of your favorite childhood memories?
  9. If you could change 1 thing about the place you live right now (and money’s no object), what would it be?
  10. Are you allergic to anything?
  11. What is one of your most embarrassing moments?
I had fun with this! Instead of tagging specific people, if you're reading this, consider yourself tagged!
 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Happy for Friday

It must have been a busy week because suddenly it’s Friday and I don’t know how we got here. I guess I can’t complain – the weekend has arrived!

Earlier this week we were teased with 60-degree temps before the wind picked up and brought with it some more seasonable cold air. But...one of the best parts of spring in Minnesota is the drastic difference even one day can make. This morning the wind chill was 4 degrees. Tomorrow, temps are supposed to be above 60!

A friend and I have a theory that while living in a cold-weather state has its downside, it also has its perks. Come springtime, there’s a sense of joy unlike any other when the puddles start forming and winter jackets get put away and the birds are chirping outside cracked windows.

So even though it was only for a day, the weather lifted my spirits this week. And the 10-day forecast seems to be having the same effect. Coupled with a few other happy things—my bridesmaid dresses arrived, I finally got an iPhone, and I had a much-needed happy hour with some girls from work—the week shaped up to be quite a nice one.

Here’s to hoping the streak continues into the weekend.

{via}

Friday, March 2, 2012

Random Friday thoughts

I recently started using Bare Escentuals makeup. I’ve been wanting to try it for a while and finally took the plunge. I have to say, I’m kind of loving it. My only regret is that I didn’t try it sooner!
{Via}
Speaking of trying things sooner, we finally got aboard the Netflix bandwagon. Of course, we’re still in the midst of our free month trial, but I don’t think I’ll love it any less 1 month and $7.99 later. 
I’m currently obsessed with the show Army Wives (another reason to love Netflix). I’ve always been intrigued so I started from the beginning and, so far, can’t get enough. Yesterday I propped my laptop up on the bathroom counter so I could finish an episode while curling my hair. That’s normal, right?

{Via}
Oliver has this un-stuffed monkey he has to play with every night before bed. It’s 3 years old and a ratty mess. Yesterday daddy bought him a new one—a fox—and he won’t put it down. So cute!

I would paint my nails every day if I had the time and the patience. One of my favorite colors as of late:
Breakfast for dinner, and help making it? Enough said.
 I can't believe St. Patrick's Day is in TWO weeks. Can't wait for one of my favorite holidays!
{Via}


 Happy Friday friends!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

My new favorite workout

{Via}
I think Wednesday just may be my new favorite day at the gym.

Last Wednesday I arrived for my morning workout a few minutes later than usual. I felt a sudden rush of confidence when I looked at the clock and realized the kickboxing class I’d been wanting to try started in 5 minutes.  I decided to take advantage of this uncommon moment and just go with it. 

I chose a spot off to the side and gave it my very best effort. I was a MESS by the end. My heart was racing, adrenaline was pumping, and sweat was flowing (gross, I know!). It was a sweaty, smelly, blissfully beatiful thing! 

I actually looked forward to going back this week. It was a different teacher this time—the regular one—because last week’s had been a substitute. The class was full of a lot of different moves but the same intensity. It kicked my butt, no pun intended.

I was pretty sure the teacher spotted me as the new girl in town because I swear he was looking right at my reflection in the mirror every time he shouted “punch harder!” or “keep moving!”

And for the record, when the teacher says we’ll take a break in a “minute,” he really means the end of the class. But that’s ok, because thankfully my fear of him being a drill sergeant who shames anyone who breaks for a gulp of water was way off base. I took my share of quick breathers throughout the 60 minutes, but for the most part I powered through.

I’ve got lots of room for improvement, though. I’ve got bad hips (seriously, I’m too young for that!) so a lot of my leg movements looks a little more like flailing and a lot less like an actual kick. Ironically, I think getting my kicks down will actually help strengthen my hips, too. And heaven knows I could stand to work on my upper cut and hook. If I at least know the names that counts for something, right?

Anyway, I left feeling proud to have stepped outside my comfort zone again, and excited to have found the butt-kicking workout I’ve been looking for.

You’d think after a kickboxing class your arms and legs would be sore, but surprisingly it’s my back that’s giving me the most grief. From my shoulder blades down to my tramp stamp (yep, I’ve got one of those) my muscles just radiate pain. But it’s the most gratifying pain of all—the kind that comes from a little courage and a lot of hard work.

What’s your favorite butt-kicking workout? I’m always looking for new ideas!