Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Bridesmaid Dresses: a redo

Welp, I feel like I jinxed myself a bit with the "zomg look at me! Target bridesmaid dresses!" yippee skippy blog post.
Two of the girls had ordered dresses when another bridesmaid pointed out that they didn't have stellar reviews.
Oh yea... maybe I should have looked at those. Der.
Tis the trouble with Target .. I've found it's hit or miss in terms of quality. This is true of myself when I try on Target dresses, so I'm not sure why I thought it'd be different or easier for 6 very differently sized women.
Anyway, long story short, after one poor review and one "it'll work" review..rather then have the 4 others try dresses and hope that they worked, or that the "poor review" could be saved by a different style, I've scrapped the Target idea. I loved the idea, but I'm not going to force it. The cycle of buying a dress online, returning it in store, buying a new one online until we found a style and size that worked for everyone would've given ME a headache as a bridesmaid so I'm not doing that to the girls.
We've moved on to David's Bridal. People in the wedding world are quite opinionated when it comes to DB. Ideally, I'd love to have been an "alternative" bride and gone with a cutesy small boutique.. but cutesy small means $$$$$$ oftentimes, and I'm far far too anxious about having my girls spend a lot of money on these dresses. DB is easy, affordable, and they're located across the country-- as are my girls. I think they've also gotten a lot trendier when it comes to styles. Here are a few of my fav's:

 I love #3. Hands down, my favorite. It's so classy and modern. Which, conveniently-- is the "vibe" I'm going for with the wedding! haha

SO, there's the update on the dress sitch. I'm excited to see which ones the girls pick, and one of M's sisters has already indicated she wants me to come with, which I'm looking forward to! I gave them all the option of just going alone (I actually prefer shopping alone), or inviting me along.

I have a mini apple pie recipe I'll be sharing soon, so stay tuned for that! 


Monday, August 27, 2012

Surprise weekend recap

Thank you for the kind words on Friday's post :) I can happily say the funk has been busted. Or at least temporarily. This weekend was fantastic. 

When M gave me my graduation card he promised me we would go on a trip after I took the bar exam. Well, life got in the way (isn't that always how it goes) and that trip turned into a staycation in MN at a northern cabin.... and THAT quickly turned into a staycation in the cities. 

So, M planned a series of events Saturday and Sunday. I did accidentally open my gmail calendar, which he had long ago synched with his so "you don't always have to ask if I'm free on a particular night!" and saw what part of Sunday's plans entailed. Saturday's were all a surprise, although I did successfully guess a few of them. 
[Warning: This is a picture heavy post]

The day began at 9:00 a.m., just how I like my weekends. Seriously. You can't pry me out of bed before 7 on a weekday, but Saturday morning? I relish waking up early and drinking coffee while the world is still quiet. I guessed "breakfast and a walk" (one of my favorite activities) but had the wrong breakfast and walk location, haha. 

We headed to St. Anthony Main (where our engagement photos will be taken in October!)
 to Aster Cafe-- best quiche in Minneapolis...and I'd know, I've done the legwork. 
I flippin' LOVE St. Anthony Main. Give me a quaint "downtowny" area with shops and restaurants, preferably near a river, and I'm in heaven. 

Add to that a cobblestone patio under the trees...and, well.. there are just no words.  
 Spinach, parmesean and prosciutto quiche. the best.
 The historic Stone Arch Bridge leading from St. Anthony Main leading to downtown. It's solely a walking/running/biking bridge.
 From breakfast, we walked across the bridge to the Mill City Museum farmers market, next to the Guthrie (where many national plays are performed).. another of my favorite things.

 Minneapolis Graffiti on the side of the Mill City Ruins. Can't wait until I get to say this! :) 

Cooking demonstration at the farmer's market. 

From there, we went home and relaxed and napped. M was going to let me pick where we went for lunch, but, we were both SO full from breakfast we decided to pass on lunch. 

Our next "activity" was at 3:00. A long time ago when we were looking for a northern cabin or resort to go to as our "trip" M mentioned looking into massages and was astonished at this particular resort's costs. SO when he mentioned the 3:00 activity and he said it'd only take a half hour, I guessed it was a massage. 

I was right! M got us a couples massage.

 (sneaking photos while we were "changing")
 It was HEAVENLY. The lady worked me over a bit but I felt like butter afterwards. After that, we went home and got ready for a 5:00 reservation "downtown." I knew M had received a gift card form work as a thank you for a new business pitch and it had to be used at a particular "brand" of restaurant. I happen to know the Capital Grille was one of said restaurants, so I guessed correct! 

We enjoyed an out of this world dinner at Capital Grille in downtown Minneapolis
 annnndd who goes to one of the nicest restaurants in Minneapolis and orders french fries? This girl. Just keepin' it real, folks. To be fair they were parmesean truffle fries... which you may recall I oogled over in my Moorhead weekend recap post last weekend. SO, when deciding on an appetizer and none of the seafood options were cutting it, truffle fries were a natural choice.
 Nom nom nom. 

I aim to become a truffle fry connoisseur. I have to admit, the Fargo, ND truffle fries were better. They were thinner, and the dipping sauce that came with them.. ohhhh the dipping sauce. It was heavenly. 
 M enjoyed some coffee before our "8:00 activity"

Early in the day M had mentioned he had to get "reservations, an appointment, and tickets" for the day's activities. (If that doesn't scream over-analytical-lawyer-to-be, I'm not sure what does). Well, the appointment was the massage, the reservations were clearly dinner, so leaving "tickets" as the last activity I guessed correctly and we headed across downtown to the Acme Comedy Club for our last activity!
 It was hilarious, and a fun night as always. 


As I mentioned, I accidentally saw Sunday's activities in my calendar, so I knew we were heading to the St. Croix Vinyards and the Dock Cafe for dinner. M admitted the day was more "casual" so we headed out at our leisure around 10:30. 

We pulled up, to M's surprise as well, to find out the 2 activities he'd planned were at the same location! Aside from the winery tour we were going to go to the apple farm. 

M made friends with the goats

We walked around the grounds and checked out the vineyard

Then we headed inside for a wine tasting. 
What?! 11:45 is a totally normal time to enjoy 6 samples of wine. 

I hadn't eaten any breakfast, so being the lightweight I am, this wine tasting resulted in a nice little noontime buzz. 

We bought our 2 favorite bottles, and headed back to the apple orchard to buy some apples. Unfortunately we couldn't pick our own just yet, as they weren't fully ripe, but we were able to get some already picked apples

From there we drove into downtown Stillwater, another one of my favorite places. 

Again, give me a quaint downtown near the water, and as I said... heaven. 

We ate lunch at an outdoor patio, and then putzed through an antique shop. Here's irony: I HATE clutter and random shit everywhere. I am very much a minimalist when it comes to decor. Yet, M and I are suckers for antique shops. I love looking at other people's old stuff. There are some really neat things in antique shops. That being said, I also was on the lookout for a wooden wine box for cards for the gifts table for the wedding. I scored big! Found the perfect box. I'll show you guys after I finish a small craft I want to do with it. 

Afterwards, we walked down by the river. 

Where we parked ourselves in the grass to relax for a while until dinner. 

We walked around a bit more and then both decided we were still so full from dinner, that we canceled our reservation and drove home early. I read for a while, and then we ordered Papa John's with a free promo card we had. 

Currently sitting on the couch, winding down. 

It was a fantastic weekend, filled with all my favorite things! M did a great job. He also made it all that more difficult to face the fact that tomorrow is Monday.


Friday, August 24, 2012


This was just a strange week overall... I have experienced the gamut of emotions from ecstatic, to angry, to sad. Nothing really monumental happened.. just little things here and there. Work is frustrating, the ambiguity of my duration here is exhausting me and whereas I was once really optimistic about getting to stay here.. that optimism is currently on life support. It's defeating. It also feels like an eternity since I took the bar exam and that I still have an eternity to wait for results. I'm feeling a bit funk-y if you will. Not the good kind, either.
So what does one do after a defeating day at work? Shop. I decided for the first time in my, well, life.. since I'm NOT going back to school this fall, I'd treat myself to some "back to school" shopping. Logical, right? K-12 "back to school" shopping for me consisted of new supplies, new knee highs, and MAYBE a new pair of black or brown leather shoes. Hi, Catholic School girl born and bred.
I never really "splurged" in college either, since I was broke as a joke. But recently I've decided I'm tired of feeling frumpy in my clothes and want to make more of a concerted effort to dress cuter more often. I need to buy clothes more sporadically instead of buying 5 things, wearing them to death, so then they look as tired and frumpy as the rest of my clothes. I also have decided to stop talking myself out of trendier pieces of clothing because "Oh, I can't pull it off. That's just not me. I better play it safe." SO in that spirit- I bought a blousy top that I may have previously passed over. See?!
Gratuitous work bathroom mirror shot.
Top: Love Culture (bought on Wednesday!)
Pants: Hollister (no shame, people)
Shoes:Guess, from DSW (early summer)
I have to remind myself that it can look cute, and I FEEL cuter when I buy "trendier" pieces. Also? Shopping after work when you feel grimey is not a good idea. I had to remind myself, "once you've bathed, and done your hair, this shirt will look cute." and ta-da! It did.
In addition, unecessary disheartening comments from others gave me a case of the sadz yesterday. SO I spur-of-the-moment (which really isn't that like me) invited my bridesmaid Molly over last night.. we whined, we dined, it was lovely, and what I needed.
M has been in chicago since yesterday pitching a presentation for work. He fancy. He'll be back early this evening. As a belated graduation gift, he planned a weekend of surprises. We were originally going to go out of town (think, wine country) and then were going to just get a hotel up north, and life got in the way and it turned into a staycation of sorts, which I'm totally okay with! Needless to say, apparently I have a full weekend but I have no idea what we're doing. Looking forward to spending some quality time with M, and I will report back to you kittens to let you know what we did!
Have a good weekend :)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Roasted Chickpea Tacos

Guys- posts 3 days in a ROW?! Woot! 

Let's just say I'm taking full advantage of the "scheduled" posting feature. That, and M is partaking in a fantasy football draft tonight and currently holed up in the office on a group-google-chat with 2 of his buddies... thus, I have had plenty of time to write multiple posts to schedule :) 

Recently M's been on my case about my "obsessive" cravings for cream cheese puffs (it's off the charts, really.. but COME ON, they're so tasty!) and in general, my propensity for eating out. I got off my cooking kick while studying for the bar, since most days I was at school for breakfast, lunch and dinner. That, combined with the fact that I think I was/am getting bored with my usual rotation of meals. Needless to say it's been slow going getting back into it.

Thankfully, I follow some blogs written by creative cookers! 

Roasted chickpeas (along with kale chips) seem to be all the rage on the interwebz. SO, I couldn't pass up an opportunity to try them out. I snagged a recipe for Roasted Chickpea Tacos from The Chronicles of Ruthie Hart

(Side story about the chickpeas: I saw a bunch of cans in the Mexican food, half were labeled "Garbanzo" and the other half labeled "Chickpeas" but they were all mixed up on the shelf. The photos of the contents looked similar so I presumed there was only a slight difference. Nevertheless, I made sure to grab the one labeled Chickpeas. I get home, pull it out of the bag, and see Garbanzo and SCREAMED in anger. I then picked up the can and saw one side read Garbanzo and the other side read Chickpea. Turns out they're the same thing. I'm so smart. ......)

I've lifted the recipe as she had it on her blog, since I followed it exactly (except I didn't realize until too late I didn't have lime juice, so I just used lemon juice), and inserted some photos! 

Ingredients- roasted chickpeas
2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp water
1 (15 oz.) can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Ingredients- tacos
Olive oil
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 onion
1/2 red bell pepper
Hard taco shells
Toppings- guac, sour cream, shredded cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl, combine chili powder, garlic powder, 
onion powder, cumin, salt, lime juice and water. Stir in chickpeas

2. Placed seasoned chickpeas on a baking sheet covered in tin foil. Make sure they are lad out evenly and not on top of each other
3. Bake for 25 minutes, stirring once during cooking, until chickpeas are slightly crispy. (I turned them half way)
4. While baking, chop the onion and bell pepper finely
5. Heat olive oil in a medium skillet and saute garlic, onion and pepper 3-5 minutes. Set aside

6. When chickpeas are roasted, spoon into hard taco shells and top with the sauteed veggies and any additonal toppings

(above) Roasted chickpeas

(below) I bought flour tortillas because I am also using them for buffalo chicken wraps later this week, so, to get them a bit crispy, I used the hot pan from the onion/garlic/pepper and some olive oil, folded the shells in half, and seared them on each side on high for about 2 minutes each:

I also made a tomato/onion/cilantro "salsa" for M (I don't like tomatoes):

I have no photos of a put together taco because we INHALED them. The chickpeas were so flavorful, and to be honest M said something I totally agreed with: he said he felt like he was eating seasoned chicken tacos, and he was right! They were super tasty and a great vegetarian alternative!


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Wedding DIY: Burlap signs

It's time for another wedding DIY! 

You all remember the glorious roll of burlap that I purchased? Well, my favorite part is she is going to serve multiple purposes. 

Ever since seeing this on Pinterest:

I knew I HAD to recreate it. 

So, first I cut down the burlap into squares. They're about 8 x 5 or so. 
Then I spaced out the squares, making sure to leave a space between the "Thank" and the "you"

I did this project BEFORE lining the table runners, so I actually did it backwards. Instead of pressing the ribbon onto the burlap, I laid glue on the ribbon, and pressed the burlap onto the ribbon. 

I only used 3 dots too, instead of a full strip. Mostly because I was still getting used to my glue gun.
Once again, TJ provided quality control:

Here was the sign (and my work station) without the letters. 

Sunday, my friend Sammi invited me over for a "Pinterest Craft Fest" which was the perfect time to finish the signs and paint the letters. I thought about buying stencils or making them, but I decided to free-hand it. I figured this project wouldn't be as cost effective if I bought more things to make it. We had the cream paint from the trunk project M and I did. 

Here's the finished product!

Annnndddd because it was so adorable I of course had to make another that will drape at the head table in front of M and my's seats:

I'm already thinking up other signs I can make. Perhaps one for "cards" or "sweets" or something. Of course, I don't want to overdo it. :P 

You like??! :-) 


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Weekend recap

Tuesday weekend recap is better than no weekend recap, right? 
Today I was 100% worthless at work, and then I forgot my phone at home so I couldn't even email myself the photos I took to get a blog post put together. Remember that one time I was super excited about taking nice photos all weekend and showing you guys what we were up to? You don't? Good. Let's not discuss the fact that I left my camera in the basement and these are all  cell phone pics. 

Friday morning, as I mentioned, we went to Fort Snelling for a quick memorial service for my grandpa. He passed away in February of 2011, and there was some debate over what to do with his ashes, and the family finally settled on putting most of them at Fort Snelling.. which makes me very happy. 

For one, he was in the Army for 6 years during WWII and deserves to be here. Not to mention although cemeteries are sad, Fort Snelling is breathtakingly beautiful, well manicured, and a place I will look forward to visiting to leave flowers and talk to him.

 They have a voluntary honorary color guard that does the 21 gun salute. Pretty touching to see these elderly men in uniform STILL dedicating themselves to their country by honoring fellow soldiers, marines, airmen, etc.etc.
 No joke, the dude 2nd from the left with the white flag had to be 100 years old. Serious dedication.
 We went to TGI Friday's after for lunch, and then took off for the lovely little farming town of Moorhead, MN.. where M was born and raised. His dad and his dad's girlfriend still live there on her homestead. (M's sister and her bf were also up visiting, so it was nice spending some quality time with them too!) I will say this- I'm happy with where I live in the cities, I love being close to everything, but I REALLY love having a place in the middle of nowhere to get away to. It's simple living, quiet, and pretty in its own way. They live in the middle of a cornfield that's surrounded by trees.

Here's the view up their driveway:
 A few weeks ago we'd gotten an email from M's dad that he had gone out to the car on a Sunday morning and saw a little ball of fur by the tire, barely moving. It was a baby kitten who was very near death. They brought her inside, fed her kitten formula from an eyedropper, warmed her up, and she was as good as new! I think they've decided to keep her. Her name is Cassie. Ready to die? Here she is:
 WAHHH. I melt. She quickly earned the nicknames Baby-Cassie,  Cassie-Pants, Sassy-Cassie, and Gassy-Cassie (I don't need to go into detail on the latter of those)

I spent a good portion of my weekend, like any true cat lady, snuggled up with Cassie.
 I am so in love with her! We may be back up in September when his other sister is home, and I kind of hope we do get up there before she gets too big!

 The rest of the weekend was spent out back doing a lot of this:
 Since they live in the middle of nowhere, shooting at a target is perfectly safe. I did not partake. Guns make me nervous, not to mention, I just really didn't feel like it. I did enjoy watching M shoot, and then borderline skip to the target. Big kid, I tell ya.
 annndddd because there isn't a TON to do in Moorhead, we headed into downtown Fargo (right across the Red River from Moorhead) and browsed an antique shop. I love putsing through antique shops, M and I always have a good time.
 Necessary apparel for the frigid winters in Moorhead.
 We then walked through downtown and stopped for a snack at the Hotel Donaldson. Imagine my surprise when they had truffle fries on the menu. Fries in general are a weakness of mine, but truffle fries? I barely know what a truffle is, but OMG it makes fries so good. Add some herbs and parmesean and enter nirvana.
 Sunday it was time to head back home for my friend's Pinterest Craft Fest.
I made 2 super cute signs out of burlap for the wedding. I'm going to take a photo and showcase those for you soon :-) 

Hope you all had a good weekend!