Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Bachelorette weekend in Chicago

Weekend recap: better late than never, right?
This past weekend I was in Chicago celebrating my friend Shannon's bachelorette party! Shannon used to date one of M's friends, and when they broke up a few years ago, we still claimed her as our own. Then, lo and behold, she goes and dates herself a fellow law student (who is taking the bar exam today! WOOF. death.) so obviously they're a favorite couple friend of mine. :)

We had an 11:30 flight Friday which left us a good amount of time in the city on Friday. After some initial travel snafus (like getting on the wrong bus after the train) and being absolutely baffled on how to cross the street to get to our hotel, we arrived! Friday night was pretty low key as we waited for another guest to arrive, played card games, and walked a few blocks for some traditional deep dish pizza (because, CHICAGO. duh.).

Saturday morning we had 2 more guests arriving (after a 6:00 a.m. flight... brutal), then we headed down to brunch.

After brunch, we walked to Michigan Ave., to see the bean (my first time!) and do some shopping.
Naturally this required a beer-break, halfway through.

With 8 girls having to get read for dinner and a night out on the town, we had to head back to the hotel pretty early to start getting ready. Actually, we all realized we headed back a bit too early, so most of us napped since we didn't need that much time. (This just means I have to get back to Chicago soon to see more!)

That night we headed to Hub51 for dinner, then to a club called The Underground, where we got a free shot and a free first round of drinks since one of the girls' friend worked there (hollllaaaa!)

 After the Underground, we went to Public House for a few more drinks. I'm not sure if it was the slow day drinking or the walking-all-over-Chicago, but I was pooped and cabbed it back home with 2 other girls at 12:30. We weren't even the first ones to head back, 2 others left about a half hour before us. The last 3 made it back around 3:00 a.m., after a taxi-driver-induced pit stop to McDonald's. #nom.

We grabbed some breakfast and coffee at Starbucks Sunday morning, opened gifts ...since we ran out of time Saturday.. and just hung out until our 3:30 flight. It was a nice, long weekend and I can't wait to get back to Chicago and do some more exploring with M, soon!

I've been slacking on any posts other than weekend recaps, but it's because my weeks start off so... open, and then quickly fill up. For example, as of Sunday I had no plans all week until Saturday, and now tomorrow I have the Twins game with my dad, Thursday I may have a HH/Dinner with some of M's friends, Friday I have date night with M to use a Melting Pot gift card, Saturday we have a wedding (!!... planning my own wedding I get so jazzed for others,.. more so than before- it's my best friend's sister's wedding, and our families have been friends for close to 30 years. The poor girl discovered she had a stress fracture earlier last week and now has to wear a boot down the aisle. It's okay, she's gorgeous, and her dress will cover it anyway. :))

So, that was my long winded way of saying I'm having a kick ass summer and #sorryimnotsorry for partying. Woop!

Totally unrelated, but I rented a 50mm, 1.4f lens from West Photo for the trip this weekend...and OMG I need one of these lenses, like, now. The ONLY downside is the lack of zoom, and I didn't bring my kit lens as a backup, so there were a lot of times when I'd liked to have zoomed out from my location to capture more of a scene and couldn't. Oh well. Here's a gratuitous cat photo to show you the awesome small focal point/blurred effect.

Gosh-darnit, he's sexy.

Got some major ADD towards the end of this post. My bad. Peace out for realsies, now.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

An overdue (and exciting) wedding update

Well, I made an offhanded comment a few posts ago about my "not so secret" wedding helpers.
I figure it's time I introduce you guys to them, although I have a feeling they may look familiar...

Syndal, Jess, and Lo!

Now, a little bit of background so this makes sense.

Our ceremony is at 3:00 and we can't have access to start setting up our reception venue until 4:30, since it's open to the public until 6:00. The caterer will start setting up the reception area, which people can still walk through, using ropes to cordon off the area.

Clearly, this presents a problem with setting up our reception space.
Como was actually the first place we looked at but the fact that I knew it'd take some finagling to set up the space the day of, and that I wouldn't be able to be there to do any of it, spooked me.
We ultimately obviously decided that the space was just too great and we'd figure out the rest later.

Cue a few months down the road and I'd made it up in my mind that I'd just send the wedding party over to the venue after the ceremony and have them do it in an hour.  I figured with 12 people on deck it'd go super fast and it wasn't a big deal. Well, M and I had some differing opinions on this and after considering it in reality, I agreed it wasn't a well laid plan. M said his mom and her sisters would be more than happy to do it. I've been a pretty laid back bride, but a) I know M's mom, and b) the idea of having some 50+ year old ladies setting up a 26 year old's reception made me sweaty.. I just knew they wouldn't "get" some of it.

One night, Jess and Lo were over consuming wine and cheese, Syndal was off partying (just kidding- but actually she was busy) and I was telling them about this chat I had just had with M. Lauren said she'd be more than happy to help, and Jess concurred. I remember thinking, "Oh, that's a nice offer! maybe if I can't figure out what else to do,... besides I'm sure they were just saying it to be nice."

The more I thought about it, and the more I talked to, and hung out with these ladies, I knew it was not only my best option but that it'd be RIDICULOUSLY fun to have them at the wedding. If we're being honest I wanted to just straight up invite them, but we were tight on space (and felt it was maybe not ok to invite people I had met more recently vs. people we've known longer since space was an issue?) and I wondered if it would be weird to have internet people come.... then I remembered I met M on the internet and these girls are awesome and said fuck it! 

SO, one day I manned up and sent a formal email asking them to be my wedding helper peoples. They enthusiastically accepted, and I cannot WAIT to have them at the wedding! Them helping is just a perk, I'm just pumped to party with them. :) Another bonus? Since it's like, socially frowned upon and shit to invite people to showers and the bachelorette party who are not coming to the wedding.. NOW I get a green light to invite them to those things! Even though I wanted to anyway, ha!

So there you have it. The girls will be setting up the few things we have at the church (which I'm still debating doing at all), setting up the reception (which honestly won't take long. I'm keeping it simple, streamlined, and there will be copious amounts of diagrams and directions to make it as easy as possible for them!), then taking a break to dine, drink, and dance, and then picking up the decorations at the end of the night to haul out. I already know I won't be able to thank them enough.


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Weekend time machine

I was a great big slacker last week in terms of blogging. Woops.
We're traveling back to July 13th.. to recap M's birthday day of surprises!
They weren't anything like the time I surprised him with a trip to Florida (I sort of peaked early, huh? oh well).. but small things are still fun when they're surprises.

The day started when we woke up with apple cinnamon strudel pancakes. #nomnom

I realized the night before I didn't get him a card, so I had him read Friday's blog post as his card.
We're a 21st century couple, fer sure.
Then, he opened his presents. 

Preppy chic, just how I like him. :)
After that, I sent him off to the lake for some birthday kayaking while I lounged on the sofa with the kitty. I'm pretty sure TJ had a better day than dad did. ;-).

He got back and I told him our next "event" started at 3. So we showered up, got ready, and I drove us downtown for our next event. I had him close his eyes, got lost twice, and we finally pulled up in front of the Fulton brewery- we were going to go on a brewery tour, enjoy a beer and the food truck as a "snack" before dinner! 

The 3:00 tour was full, so we hung out for an hour and chatted, M had a beer, I had a craft-brewed in-house "soda" -grapefruit-mango, and a citrus-ginger second. Loved that they had something for the non beer drinkers! 

Tours are on Saturdays and the brewery invites a rotating list of food trucks, one per Saturday, to park in the parking lot and serve food- since they don't. We split a delicious pulled pork sandwich for a pre-dinner snack, since we had 6:30 reservations.

After the tour, which M totally geeked out on, we went for a walk by the river to kill some time before our reservation (another surprise to M!)

We ate at Masa, in downtown Minneapolis. 
If you want some ridiculously delicious high-end Mexican food, this is your spot. 
When I say "high-end", it wasn't even terribly expensive.. the entree's were between $9-$30. I got the tacos and got to pick any 3 tacos I wanted, so I tried pork, steak, and chicken. All were out of this world tasty.

[Somewhat unrelated, but I could subsist solely on cilantro lime rice.]

M had some pork with the most flavorful sauce I've ever had.
We then pushed our stomachs a bit too far and split a tres leche cake. We consider ourselves a bit of "tres leche connoisseurs" since we try it if it's on the menu wherever we go. So far, the best we've had is at 112 Eatery in downtown Minneapolis..in case you were wondering.

After dinner, we headed home for a bit before meeting some of M's friends for drinks at a local bar.
I think M had a pretty solid day, and enjoyed all the little surprises!

Sunday after his birthday, we went to my dad's for a fish fry from the guys' trip to Canada last month. My dad invited over a bunch of friends and we feasted on walleye- I even tried a little bit and was, surprisingly, not repulsed! So there's hope for me yet.

Fast forwarding to this weekend- I took absolutely no photos.. so I'll just briefly talk about it.
Friday I met up with some bloggers at Becky's house for appetizers, drinks, and Cards Against Humanity. Always a fun time with those ladies! Even if I did sweat through my shirt in my no-AC car en route to Savage, during rush hour. It was worth it :)

Saturday M and I drove up to Lake Koronis about an hour and a half away, to meet up with 2 of his friends who had rented a camp site and a pontoon for the day. My phone was near death most the day but I should've taken a photo of this pontoon. It was 110% white trash. Literally a floating raft with lawn chairs on it. The day started out a bit rainy and I was nervous but quickly cleared up and was BEAUTIFUL. We ate sandwiches on the boat and drank and cruised around, and of course.. M fished. It was a great way to spend a summer Saturday in MN.

M and I left and tried a hole-in-the-wall Chinese place near our house, which was also very good!

Sunday, today, we knocked off a few wedding tasks- we PRINTED OUR INVITATIONS- (all caps NECESSARY). I'm super jazzed about it. We also bought ties, and picked our rehearsal dinner menu. I updated my Listy McListerson in a draft and plan on republishing it again when we've done some more stuff.

I also have a few wedding-y type posts lined up soonish. One explaining my wedding helpers, and another in defense of big weddings. I think they deserve a shout out :)

Hope you all had a good weekend! M and I just got our first of 7 weeks of CSA boxes for a donation he made to help his friends' start up mobile farmers market.. so we are excited for a summer of experimentation with strange produce! 

Friday, July 12, 2013

For my favorite.

Tomorrow, July 13th, is M's birthday.
He will be 29.

I'll be honest, I kind of freeze when it comes to writing posts like these because there's so much to say and I always see these perfect and mushy posts people write about their significant others and we're really not too mushy ourselves... sooooo I'll do my best to do the guy justice.

Dear M,

You're my favorite. How do I know this? Well, I couldn't spend this much time with one other person and not want to kill them. I'm sure you're thinking, "she sure seems like she wants to kill me a lot.." but trust, it's really very minimal in comparison.

I love waking up next to you, even if you're breathing hot smelly morning breath on me.
I love watching Dateline in bed with you and analyzing the cases ourselves.
I love the way you light up when Randy Hauser's "Running out of Moonlight" comes on the radio, and the way you belt it out so loud you can't even hear Randy-- I also love the accompanying steering wheel drumming and head bopping. (and I love that now when I hear it in the car alone I giggle because I imagine you doing all of the aforementioned).

I love watching you interact with our bitty... and it makes me excited to watch you interact with our kids. I can already tell you'll be the firm one.. which will be necessary, and is currently necessary, when I try to convince you bitty should sleep with us during the week, only to wake up at 3:00 a.m. to whiskers up our nose and paws in our faces. :)

I love being WEIRD with you. A lot of people say that but I truly believe we're the weirdest ever. I love our "language" and the noises you make and... ok.. sometimes I love your schticks. BUT I WILL DENY IT IF YOU EVER TRY TO BRING THIS UP AGAIN. hear me? Mostly I love how funny you find them/yourself when you're doing it.

Most of all, I love that I get to spend the rest of my life with you, because oh my god are we going to have FUN. Seriously.

You're my best friend, the love of my life, and I can't wait to see what the next 29+ years bring!

Happy birthday ya old fart.
Hope you enjoy your day of 'prizes. :)



Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Listy McListerson

Just kidding you guys, I'm not YHL.
Generally speaking....and try not to take offense to this... I find checklist type posts to be boring as sin. Then I saw Sarah's wedding checklist... and I was all "GIMME".. I need one place to stick everything and my itty bitty planner that only had a "craft" and "buy" list was just not cutting it.
I can guarantee I'll feel 100 times more at ease knowing I have this master list of items I can check off and I don't have to keep cycling things over in my head so I don't forget them.

  • Pay balance of DJ by September 14th
  • Pay balance to Como by September 20th (as well as head count- put meal RSVPs into spreadsheet for wait staff to make it easier on them!)
  • (figure out when it's due....and then) Pay balance to photographer
  • (figure out when it's due....and then) Pay balance for honeymoon
  • Grow a money tree
  • Get signed letter from Father for our discounted marriage license (HOLLA)

  • Pillar candles for lanterns
  • Tell M that "gifts for the parents" is a thing, and figure out wtf we're doing with this
  • Any additional jewelry..? figure out if I want any.
  • Get dress altered
  • Stay on top of M and the boys to get ties and socks (see also: make sure my little brother has basically everything that the rest of them can be counted on to get themselves. Oy.)
  • Book party bus ... I think we're close!
  • Hotel room? Staying at the house? I can imagine I'll just want to spoon with TJ that night anyway, guys (JUST KIDDING....)
  • Make decorations list with photographs for my not so top secret wedding helpers.... I figure I should do a post on that in the near future, too. :)
  • Ask wedding venue about any potential cupcake stands they have, and at what cost..otherwise crack and email our cake guy to tell him we'll use his
  • Keep tabs on wedding registries post-shower
  • Call Shane Co. and figure out how long they need to solder my rings together.. waffle one last time on whether I want to do it, ultimately get them soldered, and then weep while my ring is MIA for some period of time

  • "organize" M's gift... TEE-HEE
  • Finish gluing together silk flowers and weighting them so they stay sunk in the vases
  • Finish "anniversary books" for the tables
  • Make a few more wine cork holders for table #s
  • Figure out if I'm doing 1 menu per table, or per place- if 1 per table, how they'll stand up
  • Make some kind of burlap bow for mom's wheelchair-- we trickin' her out, yo
  • Make pocket squares (once the ties are ordered so I can match fabric)
  • Print invitations and RSVP cards (add #s to RSVP cards for people who fail to fill in name)
  • Print menus
  • Design and print programs
  • Design and print some table signage for kids stuff/wedding photo collection
  • Design and print rehearsal dinner invites
  • Print remaining Instagram wedding photos and tape to string- also figure out how to display ones that won't fit in frame (will explain better later.. :))
  • Hotel gift bags.... I'll be honest, I'm REALLY apathetic about this. People don't need a Dasani with our faces on it. This is probably not even going to happen.
  • Wrap bridesmaids gifts

  • Bachelorette party- September 14th.... get a dress?
  • Bridal shower, ladies only, September 8th ....wear something I own
  • Email aunt and uncle about couples shower ASAP- shoot for mid to late August.. probably wear something I own..
  • Put tip stuff in labeled envelopes - P.s. Who the hell do I tip? (I know for sure priest, [bus driver would be included in fee]... do I have to tip the DJ and Photographer? Anybody else I'm forgetting? What's custom? 10%? 20% like restaurants? Better question- isn't my RIDICULOUS sums of money I'm spending for all these services enough? Why do I have to tip anyone? Why can't people just charge what they need to charge as a livable wage and be done with it?
  • Get cantor a gift card because she's a family friend doing it for free and that's awesome and something I have no problem spending some money on....boom
  • Get marriage license.. minor detail
  • Pick which package (# of meal options we'll be giving people)
  • Send over meal choices
  • Set up tasting
  • Figure out if Father is coming
  • Decide if I want to get a dress....

  • Print readings for best man and MOH
  • Make sure cantor knows the music and is feelin' comfortable

  • Seating chart
    • Figure out if Father is coming and what he wants to eat- actually, scratch that, check to see if I'm sending him an official invite. I may have one addressed already...
  • Add table numbers and meal choices to finished place cards
  • Coordinate who is picking up gifts
  • Coordinate who is tearing down reception space- see aforementioned not so top secret wedding helpers.. ;)

  • If I'm not penniless and crazy.. try to remember to pick up a few new "summery" outfits to wear
  • Buy or borrow some books

anything major I'm leaving off?.....

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Sunburn and 'Squitos: Fourth of July Weekend

We spent the long 4th of July weekend up nort' in Perham, MN. 
I know other states have lakes, but I firmly believe Minnesota has mastered "lake life." 
Summer weekends in the city are quiet because everybody makes the mass exodus to their cabin in northern Minnesota (or Wisconsin... but we don't talk about that here ;-)). 

We headed up Wednesday night and stayed through Saturday night. 
There was volleyball, 
bean bags, 
and washers. 
There was late communal lunches and dinners, even later nights by the bonfire, followed by surprisingly early mornings. But when Minnesota gives you consecutive days of sun and 80+ degrees? You don't waste a single second of it. (Saturday brought some rain, but my sunburns needed a break anyway).  
We wake surfed, wake boarded, knee boarded, and watched the dogs tire each other out tearing around the yard. 
There was a bizarre incident Friday night where a chair tipping over turned into wrestling, which turned into 6 guys throwing 2 tangled up girls into the lake in all their clothes, and then one of said girls tackling another girl into the lake. 

Then I left my purse with my wallet, checkbook, cell phone, and entire identity at Culvers in St. Cloud (an hour from home).. a fact we realized when we were a quarter mile from home. Thankfully we left early and there were a few couples following us home Sunday, one of whom swung by and grabbed it for me. Yay!

Anyway, here's a crap ton of photos from the weekend:

I'm exhausted, have racoon-eyes from my sunglasses, and my bra strap is currently scraping my sunburn. Which means it was a ridiculously awesome weekend.

And now, back to reality, I have to do a few hours of research regarding contract reformation.
Big woof.

Hope you all had a great long weekend!