Tuesday, December 31, 2013


I feel confident in saying that 2013 was both the best, and worst, year of my life so far.
How can that be? Well, before I get to the highs or the lows, lets look at some other highlights:

In February, I surprised M with a trip to Florida. (My favorite is the video)

In March I got super emo about my mom.. and talked about her more in depth than I ever had before.

April and May, it was clear the job search was wearing on me.. as I crawled out of a funk and tried to be optimistic.

In June we experienced the worst storm of my lifetime. Thankfully we had no substantial damage, but there were no less than 6 trees down on my street alone. This was the longest we'd ever gone without power, and essentially lived out of a suitcase. FUN.

In July I went to Chicago for the first time, ever! It was for a friend's bachelorette party, and while it was was a busy weekend, I'm glad I got to finally see the city!

September brought both my bachelorette party and bridal shower.


Ohhhh and then there was October. October 2013, thus far, has been both the best and the worst month of my life. It's really quite bizarre how it was bookended.

October 5th, I married my favorite... M.

October 7th, we took off for a week for our honeymoon in Mexico, and ate and drank ourselves stupid.

We got home from our honeymoon and bought a new car.

October 30th, on his 60th birthday, I got the phone call that my dad had a heart attack and had gone into cardiac arrest and was being rushed to the hospital. Undoubtedly and unequivocally the worst day of my life thus far. Especially for the first hour and a half after getting the call and having no idea if he was alive or not. I thank God it turned out the way it did, and that he's strong and happy and (mostly) healthy.

The first part of November was focused on dad's recovery, while the latter was all about Thanksgiving.

That brings us to December, and all of the Christmas (duh).

It's been a whirlwind end of the year.. and if you're exhausted reading all that- well, that's how I feel as well. I'm looking forward to a more low key 2014. (knock on wood). There will be a trip to Paris, and likely a trip to Boston, and hopefully a trip somewhere for our 1-year anniversary. I will probably experience my first trial (or 2, or 3.. oy). There maayyyyyy be a puppy!? We'll see how M's feelin' about that one, he still enjoys the freedom that comes with a pet that shits in a box and eats from an auto-feeder. There will hopefully be more trips to the gym (if I can get the F out of LA Fitness.. woof) and a more consistent meal schedule.

All that to say, I'm looking forward to seeing what 2014 brings. :)

Oh and fun fact: this NYE M and I will be celebrating 4 years together. Man, time flies.

Friday, December 27, 2013


I'm a walking cliché with that post title, and I'm fine with it.
Things finally feel like they're calming down a little bit, and for that, I am grateful.
Last weekend M and I parted ways and finished up some last minute Christmas shopping. We had an unexpected visitor when Dana got trapped in Minnesota another night due to an ice storm. It was nice having her- and we met up with one of her college friends to brave the Mall of America the Saturday before Christmas. It sounds like insanity but we lucked out in finding a parking spot, and everybody maintained their sanity.

Saturday night we went to M's friends' parents house for a fondue party and giant Jenga. It was a lot of fun, and I'm always so thankful I married someone with such a great group of friends. As someone who doesn't have a cohesive "group" (I seem to have collected a hodge podge from various areas of my life) his is a lot of fun for me.

Sunday night we had Christmas round 1 with M's mom and sister in the cities. We'd be seeing her Christmas Eve, too.. but didn't want to lug presents up north when we live 7 minutes away in the cities.
{some Christmas scenes from around our house}
{helpless when a good chin scratch comes around}
Monday after work we headed up to M's dad's in northwestern Minnesota. It was nice to hang out and have some drinks and relax after a long drive.
(and sample some slightly burnt almond bark popcorn..)

Christmas Eve day was pretty lazy.. we lounged and watched a movie and wrapped a few last minute gifts. That night we went to M's mom's extended family's annual Christmas Eve. You follow that? The unfortunate part was that the aunt and uncle who were hosting lived over an hour away from M's dad's (which was already a 3 hour drive from home) so Betty (our car) logged a lot of miles this week.

We played a white elephant game in which I nearly won a shirt that said "Behold, fartacus" .. only to be saved by M's step-dad, go back to the pile of wrapped gifts, and come out with a Duck Dynasty shirt. M really wanted a gift that came with a mason jar with some hot apple pie (a sort of moonshine, if you will): said gift also happened to come with a Duck Dynasty chia pet. I haven't seen a second of the show and after .. ahem.. "recent events", I only wish we had a fire place so I could burn them both. Woof.  
{Christmas Eve}
We woke up bright and early Christmas Day to eat breakfast and open gifts with M's dad, his dad's girlfriend, and both of M's sisters. I'm really not a "post my gifts on social media" person.. it's not that I'm not proud of them but I don't like that it feels like a competition. That being said, I have to brag on Natalie who got me the most thoughtful gift that I have been wanting, and putting off buying, for myself: a BEAUTIFUL leather camera bag... a CUTE camera bag- it's a cross body and I am obsessed with it. Which is perfect because M got me a 50mm/f1.8 lens for my fancy camera (can you tell by the return of the "nice photos" on the blog!?). I'm so excited I'll be able to carry my camera without fear of it getting smashed on things or flopping around a normal purse. She got me a special insert that real camera bags have, too.. so once I get that (shipping mishap), my baby Canon will be coming errywhere with me. It's also perfect for Paris in March. I'm not sure if I've mentioned that on here? I'm going to Paris in March. Will have to post appropriately about that at a later date.

We left his dad's around 2:00 and headed back to the cities to pick up some dinner and do one last Christmas with my immediate family.

I have to say one more thing about gifts: I don't like giving "lists" to family and friends. If they ask, sure, I'll point them in a good direction... but lists feel like grocery shopping, and to me, a present is more than that. It also helps that I'm not picky, and generally, have been really happy with most the gifts I've been given over the years. So when my brother asked what I wanted, I told him scarves, mittens, and what colors I liked, and when I opened the two adorable scarves he picked out, it means a little more to me because these aren't just "things I asked for".. these are things he carefully selected, and are from my brother. I just prefer it that way.
I also generally prefer putting my thoughts into what gifts I'll be giving, and this year, I was MOST excited about one in particular: my brother's. After my dad got out of the hospital M was able to hook him up with a first generation iPad since his work was upgrading theirs. For a very UN-techy man, my dad was hooked. But I noticed something else, whenever Stephen was lounging in the living room, it was so much easier to just pick up my dad's ipad than get his laptop. I should mention his laptop is from 2008, and if it comes unattached from the charger for even a SECOND- it crashes. So, I thought, a tablet would be an absolutely perfect gift for him. We got him a Samsung Galaxy S4 (I think that is the right one) and impatiently waited for Christmas to give it to him. What followed was HILARIOUS and absolutely made my day.
<<Stephen starts to tear into his gift>> "oh,... wow! This is uh, way nicer than my cell phone."
pause... I slowly realize what's going on: he thinks it's a cell phone (he doesn't have a smart phone).
Me: Uh, you know that's not a cell phone... that's a tablet. Like Matt's. and Dad's.
Stephen: WHAT?! OMG that's even better! Oh god I was just thinking, "uh, I can't afford a data plan for this thing.... bahahah!" ...
I just lost it. Poor kid thought we got him a smart phone that came with a plan he couldn't afford. Once he realized that was not the case, the gift was about 10 times better. It was so fun watching him play with it, and kept saying how cool it was... and the google-search-voice-recognition thing? Both he and my dad were having a blast. M and I don't use our Netflix nearly as much as we should, so we gave Stephen the password so he could use it too, and we'd get our money's worth.
It absolutely made my Christmas to see him so happy. The stress of living at my parents still, especially with both my dad and my mom around 24/7, and he and my dad butting heads... often, I thought he deserved something nice.
And lastly, because as if you need a reminder what blog you're reading, some gratuitous cat photos:

Hope you all had a great Christmas weekend as well. :)

Friday, December 13, 2013


I can't pretend to be a "wedding expert".. after all, I've only planned my own, but I have some brief but specific words of advice based on things that happened to me. You could also say these are the few small things I would've done a little differently. Don't get me wrong, these things don't change the way I feel about the day, they didn't get me down or really upset me at all during the day, they were just.. small snags- if you will.

1) Even if your period JUST ended, pack tampons. Seriously. I knew mine was supposed to arrive in that ballpark of time, even had a "scare" earlier in the week (turns out it wasn't so much a scare as it was a very obvious warning/early signs of it) but was clearly in denial. I should've just planned for the worst and packed a few. I could've saved myself 20 precious minutes in the bathroom (or so it felt like) dealing with that before dinner.

2) If you aren't doing a receiving line, make sure you have a CLEAN get away. Due to the time constraints at the church (we had to be out pretty fast after the ceremony) and us wanting to maximize our party bus time, we decided early on to forego the traditional receiving line. [Which also resulted in some comments that we "didn't make time for everyone"... mmmmkay then.]. I was ready to head right out the back of the church and get on the bus, only one small problem. I hadn't really delegated who should have all our stuff ready to be thrown on the bus. In the last few minutes of, "you need to get out of view, people are steadily arriving now" things weren't as neatly packed up as I'd hoped. We had to leave our things next to the altar in some side-pews, which presented a problem in retrieving it when we were at the opposite end of the church. People started filing out so quickly we ended up having a sort of half-assed receiving line. Also, the bus was late. This is hilarious actually: Apparently, Leah told me, the driver called my cell phone at 3:30 lost and was like, "you're not picking up, I can't find the church." ... let's see, 3:30, what was I doing at 3:30.. oh yeah, GETTING MARRIED. der. Thank goodness Leah checked my phone. It ended up not being a BAD thing because I got to say hi to and thank a decent number of people for coming, but it made me feel bad- I'd rather have done none of it, or EVERYONE. It was just a little scattered for a few minutes, but the bus rolled up and we managed to get on and outta there pretty quick!

3) PRACTICE your first kiss. M and I joked about this one but never actually did practice. I wore my hair down so my instinct that day mostly was to keep people from smashing it in the back. Unfortunately I think this instinct kicked in when M lifted up his arm to presumably put it on my waist during the first kiss. I have NO idea what I was thinking but I felt his arm go up and then like, intercepted it? I sort of blacked out. I'm not mad about it, but, I would've done it differently because I feel sort of stupid about the way it looks. haha. Our photographer got some nice photos and it's not AS obvious, but the photo (and video) I have of it makes me laugh. Behold, awkward hand holding:

Seriously, what am I doing!? bahaha. I joke about being awkward in real life all the time though so awkward  hand interception on my wedding day is actually quite fitting.

Honestly, those are the only things that come to mind in terms of hiccups, or slight things I'd change. None of them really matter now, and didn't really matter at the time, but if I was forced to identify a few "less than perfect" things, that'd be it. Which, in the grand scheme of things, is very lucky.

And thus concludes my wedding posting. Are you guys over it? I Feel like you might be over it. I'm kind of over it myself- (never thought I'd say that) but I haven't had an excuse to whip out my DSLR for the last month or so because I've had these all lined up.. and then there was that little matter about my dad.. but I've missed taking photos and I've missed posting normal things. It's been kind of nice to have a little break since I had all howevermany of these wedding posts drafted at once, but I feel ready to get back to it.

Thanks for humoring the incessant wedding chatter around these parts for the last, oh, nearly 2 years. I appreciate it!

Thursday, December 12, 2013


Planning a wedding is weird.

You put together all these tiny components but don't really know what the whole thing will look like together. I pictured things in the space as I made them, but there is no substitution for seeing it in real life. It was SO surreal to walk into the reception and see the escort card table set up, exactly as it was on my dining room table, except it was IN COMO, at my WEDDING- it was really happening. 

I said it once but I'll say it again- I knew Lo, Jess and Syndal would do a good job and that I wouldn't have to worry or even think about the reception on my wedding day and I can honestly say I didn't at all. I walked in and it was as if I'd been there myself.. It was perfect. They even wrangled some components I hadn't even thought of- like the "Love Story" sign on the stand (below). They put up with bossy Italian grandmothers (sorry. haha), survived each other and the day and I hope had a fantastic time.   

My parents' cake topper :)

Because our reception was at the Como Zoo, and because of the room we picked, we were able to add on a room called the fern room to our package. When M and I first arrived at the reception we snuck off to the fern room for some photos. There were cocktail tables in there as well and it was fun to see guests cycling through and enjoying the space.

I love these photos. The soft yellow light is actually the greenhouse light (not the sunset!) but I LOVE the way it simulated a sunset. Between that and the crystal clear reflection in the pond, and these are some keepers. 

Another perk of getting married at the zoo is the option to rent an animal.
M had originally had his heart set on a penguin. We learned shortly before the wedding that Cupid, the penguin, was going to be molting during our wedding and apparently this is a very traumatic experience for penguins and they get angry and embarrassed.

SO we moved on to our backup: Stefano the sloth.
We scheduled him to come out at 8:30, which was actually a terrible idea because dinner went a bit long and we would've started our first dances at 8:30 except when the DJ announces there's a live sloth that you can get within a foot of, where do you think everybody went? To meet Stefano. It was all good, we got to start our first dances a smidge later (and surprisingly enough some people even came and watched, despite Stefano!) and I think everybody got a kick out of the furry weirdo.

So there you have it- our wedding.
I have one last post, a "what I'd do differently" if you will. There aren't many things on the list, and they're actually not even a big deal, but they're worth noting. None of them impacted our day, but if I can help another bride be a smidge more prepared, I want to.

Hope you enjoyed all the photos! I'll be sitting here in a corner trying to figure out which ones to print. MEEP!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


I told you before that there were three moments throughout the day when I teared up, that were my absolute favorite. The first two were my first looks with Matt and my dad, the third? is THIS moment, right here.

M and I stood outside the lattice and I heard our entrance song, Feel Again by One Republic start. The bridal party was already seated, M and I wanted to keep it simple, so it was just us entering. I heard our DJ announce us, and as we rounded the corner and I saw hundreds of my closest friends and family standing, clapping, and cheering loudly- it was really overwhelming, in the best way possible. I'm not sure what I was expecting, I've seen plenty of "grand marches" at weddings, but, the reception we received surprised me- and was one of my top three most favorite moments of the day.

To cut down on the glass clinking, a wedding peeve of mine, after the first clink we had our DJ announce our "thing".. you clink the glass and want us to kiss? Great! Except before we do, you have to get up and sing a snippit of a song with the word "love" in it. I knew with our group we'd get a few, and oh boy did we ever. Some of Matt's group of friends sang "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" from the Lion King. The girls sang Timon's part, the guys sang Pumba's. It was absolutely priceless:

Later, a few more of his friends sang another song- I can't remember what it was though. 

The biggest surprise of the singing came when M's sister's mild mannered boyfriend, who was meeting 90% of the family for the first time that night did a SOLO Frank Sinatra song. We just DIED. I wish there was a photo of his sister's reaction.

We had cupcakes, and didn't even do a traditional "cake topper", so for our "cutting the cake" we just fed each other a mini cupcake :)

 (you're not seeing the picture of him feeding me..sorry. hahaha)

 Then my pretty MOH gave her speech, which was short and sweet :)

M's best man gave his speech next- in which he outed my 'fancy cheese pizza' that I made for him one night. I guess M raved to him about having "fancy cheese pizza" for him when he came over to hang out with M. He said he walked in the house and saw us unwrapping a Jack's frozen pizza- to which I added goat cheese (SO DELICIOUS) and ta-da.. fancy cheese pizza!! He said that's when he knew M was smitten, because he was raving about me cooking a frozen cheese pizza. hahaha. 

After the speeches and dinner, it was time for our first dances. Which got delayed a bit because of the sloth (Yes, you read that right. That's being saved for a "bonus" post.. ;-)):

aannnndddd the infamous woman, in the photo below. She's the mother of one of M's groomsman. They've been friends of the family for years. Well, she had a bit to drink and was enjoying herself when she decided she wanted to dance with M. This is just a snippit:

I had to "save" M at one point. I'm not surprised that this has been a point of conversation for almost every single person we've seen since the wedding. Hahaha. 

Since the sloth delayed things, our photographer wasn't there for much of the dance, but she captured enough to remind me what a fantastic time we had. M's group of friends (pictured above) never disappoints at a wedding..and ours was no different. The dance floor was full the entire night, and my legs and arms (from holding up my dress) were killing me by the end of the night.

This may have been the end of the progression of the evening, but I have some bonus photos.

Up next: reception space add on, details, bonus photos of M & I, and Stefano- the SLOTH.