Wednesday, June 17, 2015



Remember the FRIENDS episode where Phoebe tries to find a truly selfless act and everyone else insists even charitable acts are selfish because thy make you feel good? 

I was a big ol' mess of feel-good-charitable this weekend, and it was awesome. 
M had skipped town for his second (in as many weeks) long-weekend-boys-fishing-trip (yes, he knows how spoiled he is) and I was contemplating whether to binge on Sex and the City or FRIENDS that night (important life decisions) when Syndal texted and asked if anyone wanted to come over and help her make 65 corsages for a cancer survivor's breakfast she was hosting on behalf of her job. I think she was mostly joking, but all I heard was "girl talk, wine, and a good cause? Sign me up!" 

I'm in no way a floral designer but I think I have a decent eye for design in general, and while I can't keep the things alive, I like playing with them. Jess and her hubby ended up coming over a bit later and we all hung out and chatted over wine and flowers. It was an unexpectedly wonderful little Friday night. 

I headed home at a reasonable hour knowing my dad and I had volunteered to help at the MS 150 bike ride in Hinckley, MN. 

The bikers start about 160 miles north of the Twin Cities in Proctor, MN and bike 75 miles the first day to Hinckley. There's a huge village set up with tents and entertainment and food and massages. Everyone stays overnight, and hits the road early the next day for the final 75 miles or so to White Bear Lake. 

We had signed up to help in the bike corral, making sure everyone knew where to set their bikes, and matching up wristbands with bike numbers for security. (I was told by a family friend who was riding the "average"  bike cost on the route was around $4,000, and he saw a few $15,000 bikes. Insane.)

That would've been all well and good if that were our only job duties, but we ended up battling with the giant balloony finish line for about an hour, too. Initially because the generator crapped out twice and it started to deflate ON riders. Everyone just kind of stood there as I tore off to the finish line realizing people were about to clothesline themselves on it. 

After we fixed that issue the wind picked up and the giant Culligan jugs that were holding it in place started to drag, which again- threw the finish line down and in the path of bikers. 

We ran down there to hold it up for a while before ultimately recommending taking the whole thing down- it was just too much of an issue. 

The sea of bikes in the corral. That was only half of them too. They estimated there were around 3,500 riders. We've talked about doing the bike ride instead of just the walk, but it was readily apparent we would NOT be doing so without training. Oof. 

My dad and I were standing near the entrance of the corral early in the day and a woman walked over who was waiting for her rider to cross. She struck up a conversation with my dad an I and told us it was an emotional year for her family to be participating. I nodded sympathetically not wanting to prod but she continued. She told us last year on the trail her husband went into cardiac arrest mid-ride. A doctor just happened to be biking behind them as well as a nurse. They performed CPR until medical personnel arrived. He ended up having a stent put in (and a whole host of freak medical complications) but survived and really wanted to bike this year, which he did. It was very much a similar case of "right place, right circumstances" or he wouldn't have made it. 

I sat there in shock as my dad and her swapped stories. What are the odds of meeting someone at an MS event, after losing my mom to MS, who suffered a major heart attack under similar circumstances as my dad. (I still honestly have a hard time believing all that happened.) 

The rest of Saturday night brought a delayed onset sunburn and heatstroke that had me bedridden with the cat. Awful. 

Sunday was some errands and getting ready for the week, followed by the season finale of Game of Thrones. I think TJ's face after the show sums up my feelings appropriately: 

Legitimately distraught over what happened. 
We turned on Orange is the New Black to cleanse our palates after the shocker. 

This weekend is shaping up to be a busy one- M's dad will be in town for Father's day, which also coincides with M's mom's birthday this year. SO, we'll have 2 father's day celebrations and a birthday celebration. Looking forward to a weekend of family! 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015



I make no secrets about the fact that I am a fry addict. 
The answer to the question of "chips or fries?" is always, always, "fries." 
This is especially true when I find truffle fries on the menu. 
I think I first had truffle fries in Fargo, ND at a rather snazzy hotel known as the HoDo, or Hotel Donaldson. The fries looked normal, save for a light dusting of Parmesan cheese and some herbs, but oh. my. god. 

If you've never had truffle oil on food I can't even describe it to you other than to say it's other worldly. 
Truffles are insanely expensive and farmers actually use pigs to sniff up truffles underground. BUT truffle oil is a less expensive way to indulge in its greatness. 

I've received two bottles of truffle oil as gifts (I make no secrets of my affinity, clearly). 
So, in search of a cheaper and slightly healthier way to have truffle fries, I tried to make them at home..and I must say, I've finally found a fry method that produces perfectly crispy fries with the least amount of work. 

  1. Howevermany potatoes per people (I use 2-3 depending on size, for Matt and I. I've also used both Russet and Yukon Gold and they've turned out great). 
  2. 1 Tbsp of truffle oil
  3. 2-3 Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, divided (or 2 Tbsp olive oil, and a cooking spray) 
  4. 2 Tbsp of minced parsley
  5. 2 Tbsp of Parmesan
  6. Salt to taste
  1. Pre-heat oven to 425. 
  2. Slice potatoes into "fry size"- specific size isn't AS important as it is that they're uniform, that way they cook at the same pace. 
  3. Toss sliced potatoes in a bowl with 1-2 Tbsp of olive oil, if two seems like too much, just use one. Use your judgement. You just want a light coating on all the fries. Toss lightly with a 1/2 tsp of salt or so as well.
  4. Lay tinfoil on a baking sheet (makes for easier cleanup), spray foil generously with nonstick spray OR use remaining EVOO. 
  5. Spread potatoes in a single layer, leaving as much room as possible on all sides to let them breathe/cook evenly. 
  6. Bake for 15 minutes, remove, and fluff/flip potatoes. Cook another 15 minutes. Depending on how crispy you want them, keep repeating these steps until they start to crisp up to your liking. I tend to do this 3-4 times. 
  7. Remove from oven, put back in bowl, toss with 1 Tbsp of truffle oil, Parmesan and parsley. 
  8. Inhale. 

Monday, June 8, 2015


This weekend was the perfect summer weekend. 
It kicked off Friday with dinner at Lo and Jesse's house with Jess and Syndal and their men. It'd be a fair statement to say the ladies all overindulged in some adult beverages. O_O. Managed to do so though without waking up too hungover on Saturday, so, elderly win!

Saturday morning was for leftover #NationalDonutDay spoils and coffee. 
M went kayaking with Syndal and Jess's husbands for a bit, and then we bummed around the house and watched The Lincoln Lawyer. We went to download it and iTunes told us "you've already downloaded this movie, would you like to proceed?" For the next 10 minutes we debated whether we'd actually seen the movie, neither of us having any memory of it even after watching the trailer. We figured even if we HAD seen it, since neither of us remembered anything about it, we were safe. 

Well, as it went on, we both had some "ahhhh yep. We've seen this." moments but neither of us recalled enough specifics that it ruined our re-watch. Does this make us old? Not being able to remember if we've seen a movie? 

{he sat there on his own and I couldn't NOT...}
Sunday morning M and I checked off one of my "Summer To-Do's." I got sick of finding ourselves midway through beautiful days going back and forth asking "what do you want to do?" SO I made a little list of fun day-date ideas. One of those was to grab some NiceRide bikes, bike around some of the city lakes, and get brunch. 

I plotted our route, and we parked at a business center where a NiceRide station was located. 
We took off south towards Lake Calhoun only to realize pretty quickly the bike lane was one way, leading us the long way around the lake and away from our ultimate destination. It wasn't a huge deal, (beautiful day for a bike ride!) but factor the heat in with the fact that those public bikes are fairly heavy, and I was sufficiently sweaty, exhausted, and dehydrated by the time we got to brunch at Tilia. After slamming three waters I rejoined the living. 

I fall firmly in the savory breakfast camp, but after the bike ride I was feeling a bit woozy and was worried a big egg breakfast wouldn't help. Thus, I opted for a sweeter (and what I was sure to be "lighter") creme brulee yogurt bowl. zomg, guys, that thing was life changing. Tart and sweet yogurt, carmelized on top, with warm strawberries, insanely chewy apple granola and mint piled on top. I think I shall require mint in all areas of my life from now on- added such a nice fresh component. 

After our ride, we finally pulled the trigger on a new laptop, a Toshiba Chromebook. It's entirely web-based (meaning it runs on the Google suite and has no real hard drive- I think that's the proper term...), but with Google Docs and Google Sheets and the internet, it's got everything we needed. We'd been using M's Macbook Pro that was about 7 years old (he had it when we met) and it finally slowed down to the point of being unusable. 

Hope you all had a good weekend, especially if you're in MN! The last few have been so rainy and miserable that this one was such a treat :) 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015


We first moved into our house in May of 2011, and over the course of the next year or two, we did a ton of painting and settling in. None of the original colors were hideous but this was our chance to customize our first house, so we slowly wound up painting most rooms.

Here we are 4 years later and a lot of these rooms are going through a second transformation.
I'm hesitant to speak for everyone but I feel pretty confident in saying that although it was only over the course of 4 years, my design aesthetic has changed a TON from 24 to 28. I always had a soft spot for the style we ended up gravitating towards but, much like wedding planning, I found myself appreciating many different kinds of styles, which meant that to the naked eye our house looked fine, but it started to feel disjointed to me.

So, slowly, I've been tweaking rooms to bring them in line with my newly defined preference, which I've dubbed a cross between farmhouse and restoration hardware (on a NOT RH budget). Actually if we're being honest, Jenna Sue is my new design style but that's weird to explain to people. Think: neutrals, some rustic wood finishes, a touch of industrial, and natural textiles.

Most of the first floor has gotten updates with this vision in mind.. the office, well, to be blunt I'm waiting until that transforms into a nursery (NOT PREGNANT) because it's weird to do a mini in-between stage and weird to make it a nursery sans baby in utero, so for now it stays. Even though the couch got moved to the living room and I HATE HATE those shelves now. Woof. The bedroom is close to finally finished (after that last update over a year ago, HA), so I'll post about that soon, and the bathroom is going to be going through it's 2nd phase of updates too since we took down some shelves, realized we lost/tossed the original paint color, and now need to repaint it all anyway to cover the spackle marks.

But TODAY is about the kitchen! She got a fresh coat of paint, some new shelves, and new curtains. The color is Benjamin Moore, revere pewter.. I want to slather it on EVERYTHING, it is THE PEFECT greige.. all caps necessary. Thankfully there's literally 1.25 walls showing (the rest are covered by cabinets) so this was a super easy paint job. Previously we had a mini cork board we made out of wine corks, a wine rack, and a chalkboard hanging on this wall. The former and the latter were REALLY early on DIY projects, and were quite honestly, very obviously DIY, which started to bug me as I want a more grown up look. So for now it's just the shelves, but I'm thinking of re-adding a chalkboard to the right, just have to determine my materials. Enough blabbing, here she is:

Shelves were a DIY: that's galvanized steel plumbing pipe that was sprayed in an oil rubbed bronze finish. For each one, we used an end cap, a 6 inch pipe segment, and a flange (this one is black though). We then drilled each assembled bracket into a stud through 2 of the 4 holes in the flange (just left the other 2 empty, it was plenty supported with 2 as is). Used some pipe clips that wrapped around each bracket and went into the bottom of the wood to secure the shelves in case they were bumped. 4 hooks on the bottom and side holding the mugs and keys were from Target and were white, just sprayed them to match the brackets. 

Curtains are from Target as well (also come in yellow and grey). 

And let's not forget what it looked like when we moved in: 

So there's a proper little tour of our little kitchen! Someday I want a great big open kitchen with the same kind of floating wood shelves (for some of my pretty white pieces), white or grey cabinets, white subway tile... but, I love this little kitchen just the same for right now. It's where we blast music and chop veggies and talk about our day as TJ alternates between meowing for scraps and staring out the door. 

The more we tinker with the house the more I realize that even though I know this isn't my "forever" house, I'm going to have a really, really hard time leaving it..and get emotional even thinking about it. I know I offhandedly mentioned it a few times we were sorta casually looking, but after running numbers decided that rather than stretching ourselves or making an intermediary move, we're going to stay here for a few more years and really save and make sure we're ready for the next one. That means we'll undoubtedly (barring complications) be bringing home our first baby to this house. The same house that saw us move in together for the first time, get engaged, get married, lose a parent and so much more. 

I love you, little house. You've been so good to us.