Friday, February 26, 2010

He Sleeps in a Storm

Hello, friends. It's Friday. Yea. I am sure we are all breathing a collective sigh of relief that another week has come to an end. I am happy to say that this one has been heaps better than the last few weeks. That is progress!

I am working a half day and then fly out around 2:30 for Phoenix. I will be visiting my best friend and my sister! Can't wait to see these lovely ladies - and their husbands, of course! The great part about my friend & sister's husbands is that they know me really well - so I am completely myself around them. I love it when you get to the point where you don't edit what you say in front of a friend/sibling's spouse!

Before I take off for the weekend, I want to leave you with something to ponder. I am currently reading "Have a Little Faith" by Mitch Albom. I love his writing. I'm about half through the book and have tagged many passages. He has an incredible ability to really make you think about your life and what you value most. Today I want to share a short excerpt with you - it really made me think; hopefully it makes you think, too! It is from a sermon that was given by the Rabbi that Albom introduces us to in the book:

A man seeks employment on a farm. He hands his letter of recommendation to his new employer. It reads simply, 'He sleeps in a storm.'

The owner is desperate for help, so he hires the man.

Several weeks pass, and suddenly, in the middle of the night, a powerful storm rips through the valley.

Awakened by the swirling rain and howling wind, the owner leaps out of bed. He calls for his hired hand, but the man is sleeping soundly.

So he dashes off to the barn. He sees, to his amazement, that the animals are secure with plenty of feed.

He runs out to the field. He sees the bales of wheat have been bound and are wrapped in tarpaulins.

He races to the silo. The doors are latched, and the grain is dry.

And then he understands. 'He sleeps in a storm.'

My friends, if we tend to the things that are important in life, if we are right with those we love and behave in line with our faith, our lives will not be cursed with the aching throb of unfulfilled business. Our words will always be sincere, our embraces will be tight. We will never wallow in the agony of 'I could have, I should have.' We can sleep in a storm.

And when it's out time, our good-byes will be complete. (p. 93)

I think this really sums up how we should live our lives. Don't you?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

What's Your Color?

According to this quiz, found via Nicole's blog, mine is yellow:

You are quite the powerful thinker. It’s this talent that allows you to overcome a plethora of great obstacles. Luckily, this doesn’t affect your ego and you give off a pretty easy-going appearance. You enjoy the finer things in life and also have an attraction to art. If you can help it, you try not to rock the boat. But you also can’t stop yourself from searching for new ideas, methods or styles.

I would say that is fairly accurate - except the easy-going appearance. I think most people who know me well would say I am quite high strung...

But I have been quite fond of yellow lately. It makes me think of the sun. And lemons. Both of which I will see this weekend when I am in PHOENIX!!

I leave tomorrow and absolutely can't wait.

What's your favorite color? If you take this quiz, tell me the results in your comment!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Blog Love

The fabulous Anais of Through Green Eyes graced me with Beautiful Blogger award back in December! She recently traveled to Geneva to visit her parents for Christmas and fit in a trip to Paris for 4 days - isn't that fantastic? I might be a bit green with envy - I am head-over-heels in love with Paris!! I wish she could have packed me in her suitcase!! My heart definitely belongs to Paris!!

I also received this award from pinkflipflops last week! I wish we lived closer so we could meet up over a glass of wine and chat about books! She is the brains behind the Blogger Book Club and keeps it going with posts through out the week! Want to weigh in on what we read this month? Hop over to her blog - the voting buttons are up! I am rooting for Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier because I keep hearing great things about that book!

Thanks Anais & Pinkflipflops!

I now have to pass this award onto 7 other blogger and have to tell you 7 things about myself:

1. I wear a sleep mask every night. I am stealing this one from Anais - she's the only other person I know that does this. I have worn one for the last 2 years and the sleep mask is to me what a pacifier is to an infant. You know how infants often need a pacifier to fall asleep because they have an attachment to it and it calms them? Same thing w/ the sleeping mask. So I am basically regressing back to infancy. Great.

2. I'm a total home body. I love meeting up with friends for drinks and dinner, and it's fun to go out in the city, but I prefer to leave the bar by midnight (at the latest). I know my limits - my carriage turns into a pumpkin around 12:30.

3. I used to collect Coke memorabilia. I have no idea how this got started, but by the time I graduated from high school, the shelf that ran along the wall of my bedroom was pretty much covered with coke stuff. And my walls were painted maroon and there was a wallpaper border with a sort of vintage coke label. And I had a coke puzzle that I had put together framed and hung it on the wall. Yah, I don't even drink coke anymore. Nor do I have any attachment to Coke memorabilia but I sure did in high school. Gosh I was a dork.

4. I don't drink soda anymore. I gave up Mountain Dew as a New Years Resolution in 2009 (used to drink 2+ cans/day). Then I gave up soda in August. I will occasionally have a glass of diet coke if I am out for dinner as a treat, but that's the only time I drink it! And I don't miss it one bit.

5. I hate beer. I tried to like it, I really did. I never took to it, though. I was the girl who would show up a tail gating party with a bottle of vodka and a carton of lime aid. It's a good thing I never grew to love it since I now live Gluten Free. From what a hear, GF beer isn't so great...

6. I did Locks of Love back in the fall of 2007 and I would totally do it again! When I went in to get my hair cut off, the hair dresser asked if I needed a moment before she started chopping away and I said no way! I was not sad to see those 10 inches of hair go!

7. I love Burt's Bees Wax Chapstick. I have tubes of it at work, in my purse, and all over my house. I can't stand to be without the stuff!

I know I am supposed to pick 7 people, but I just can't do it. I think all of you are beautiful and I love reading every one's blogs! So you should totally do this post on your blog - or at a minimum, please tell me a couple of random facts about you!!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Ten on Tuesday

1. What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?
Probably Mint Chocolate Chip. Although Sassy posted about a Peanut Butter cup ice cream that sounds just divine!! I should probably test it out just to make sure it's good. After Lent, I guess (I gave up candy/sweets for Lent). And assuming it's Gluten Free. God I hope it's GF!

2. What is your earliest memory?
My earlier memory was when I got a black eye as a young child. I was probably 4? I was crawling around and basically ran into a chair or something like that (I'm such a klutz). I remember laying in the recliner with my panda blanket (which is currently in my lap as I type this) and being pampered by my mom!

3. What is your earliest memory of a dessert?
Earliest memory is probably this Jack-in-the-Box cake that my Grandma made. It was amazing and to this day, I don't know how it worked. She was an amazing cake maker!!

4. Do you have any recurring dreams?
No, they are crazy, but they never seem to repeat themselves.

5. Have you ever dreamed about dessert?
Nope, I am actually not a big dessert person, truth be told!

6. What is one thing (aside from a cell phone or computer) that you cannot go the entire day without?
My iPod. It is a sad day when I forget to bring it to work with me. When I listen to my iPod, it's like I am in a sound proof room or a different universe. It helps me concentrate and I am way more effective/productive when listening to it! Plus, it kind of keeps people from coming up to me and chatting with me at work. I know it sounds anti-social to say that, but I have so much crap to get done at work, I don't have a ton of time for chit chat.

7. What is one dessert you could go your entire life without ever having again?
Well, that's easy. Anything with gluten in it! So mom's Chocolate Chip cookies & her home made chocolate cake are 2 things that stick out in my mind.

8. If you could go on vacation tomorrow, where would you go? (Assume someone else is footing the bill, but within reason…so “the moon” won’t work)
Paris. I might buy a one way ticket and my very own little Marais apartment. After all, someone else is footing the bill, right?

9. If you could have any dessert tomorrow, what would you have (assume someone else is buying it for you. Within reason though, no “gold sprinkled ice cream cones.”)
I'd go for simple home made ice cream with raspberry on top! Mmm, it's to die for. You have not lived until you've had home made ice cream!!

10. What was your first impression of your significant other? If you’re single, what was your first impression of your best friend?
First impression of my best friend was that she was very stylish and fun loving!

11. What is your first impression of dessert pizza? (Personally, I think it’s weird. I love dessert but I don’t want any on my pizza.)
I am not a pizza person so it doesn't sound all that appealing to me!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Weekend Recap

I had a wonderful weekend at home. Of course it went way too fast, but I should have expected it. Here's my weekend, bullet-style:

This weekend, I...

  • watched the Olympics and fell a little bit in love with Aksel Lund Svindal. He is the Norwegian skier who won the Gold in the Men's Super G on Friday night. He's quite dreamy and speaks impeccable English.
  • watched my cousin open lots of great gifts at her shower. Can't wait to see if it's a boy or a girl! I will of course be happy either way but am sort of hoping I can put the pink yarn I recently purchased to good use and knit her a baby hat. :)
  • had a 'draw off' with my 5 1/2 year old Godson. It was a close competition since I have the drawing skills of a 5 year old. Aside from drawing together, he amazed me with his abilities to count to 100 and write everyone's names!
  • learned how to play "Speed Scrabble" - it's very similar to Bananagrams. My grandma beat me both times, but I beat her both times in Bananagrams so I guess we ended the day evenly!
  • had a wonderful home cooked meal on Sunday. Roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, gluten free gravy, asparagus, and home made chocolate pudding. All I can say is YUM!
  • cried when saying good bye to my parents. I don't know that I have ever cried when saying good bye. I am usually happy to return to my life in Minneapolis. Truth be told, that was not the case when I said good bye yesterday. I just did not want to leave the cocoon of my parents' house. I know I have to believe things will get better at work - I just really hope that is the case very soon.
What was the highlight of your weekend?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Home Bound

It's Friday. Amen to that. It has been a long, long week. Actually, it's been a long month. The old adage says that if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. So I am not going to get into the details of why the last couple of weeks have really not been fun. Suffice it to say that I could sum up the last weeks or even months by saying I feel as though I have been 'beaten down' - all having to do with work. The candle is being burned at both ends right now and it's just plain wearing me down. I know there are people out there dealing with much worse things, and it could be much worse. But I am sincerely hoping this beaten down feeling goes away soon as it is really wearing on me...

The good news is that I will be going home this weekend. This trip couldn't have come at a better time. It will be wonderful to see my parents, grandma, and other relatives. I might regress back to my childhood and lay on the couch with my head in my mom's lap and ask her to play with my hair. I am sure that might sound childish but there are few things in this world more comforting!

In addition to seeing my family I'll be attending my cousin's baby shower! This cousin is more like a sister than a cousin. She is due at the end of March - can't wait to be an 'almost' auntie again! I think it's a girl!

This weekend will also mark the one year anniversary of my grandpa's death. It really doesn't seem possible that I was writing this post one year ago. I am glad I'll be around my Grandma this weekend as I am sure this will be a tough weekend for her.

I know this is going to be a restorative weekend for me. It will be a weekend full of hugs and laughter. And maybe a game or two of bananagrams or a quick crochet lesson! I've got to start crossing some things off that list!

What are you all up to this weekend?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Book Review: Sarah's Key

Last week, I started and finished Sarah's Key, by Tatiana de Rosnay. It was one of those books that immediately grabbed me and didn't let go until I had read the final page. I could have stayed up all night and read it the first night, but the reality of my 5:15 alarm kept me from doing that. It is truly a page turner. In this book, Rosnay weaves together two stories - the story of Sarah Starzynski, a Jewish child living in occupied Paris in 1942, and Julia Jarmond, an expatriate journalist living in Paris in 2002. Rosnay skillfully weaves the story of these two together, alternating between the two stories throughout the book.

The book is about an event in history referred to as the "Vel' d'Hiv Roundup" which occurred on July 16-17 in 1942. During those 2 days, French policemen arrested approximately 13,000 Jews and sent them onto their death. Rosnay tells the story of the round-up through the eyes of Sarah Starzynski, a young child of 12 that was living in an apartment in Paris. When the police came to arrest Sarah's family, she locked her 4 year old brother in a secret cupboard. Since the police were Frenchmen, she assumed they would be unharmed and would return to their apartment. Unfortunately, she was wrong. The 13,000 Jews were rounded up by their fellow countrymen - men they thought they could trust.

60 years later, Julia Jarmond is writing a story to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of this horrible roundup. She begins to research the events of July 16-17th 1942, and finds that her life is entwined with the story of Sarah Starzynski.

I can't say much more without giving too much away. I highly recommend this book. At points, it was difficult to read It is definitely a heavy subject, but I think it's important to read books based during this awful time. I had never heard of the Vel' d'Hiv - nor had many French people until 1995 when President Jacques Chirac apologized for the complicit role of French police and civil servants. There is a memorial in Paris dedicated to the lives that were lost - I hope to visit it when I return to Paris some day.

Have you read this book? Have you heard of the Vel' d'Hiv? Are there any other WWII books that you have read and enjoyed?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Song Remembers When

It's been said that the scent most linked to memory is our sense of smell. I definitely find this to be true. Sometimes I walk by the cologne counter of a department store or ride in an elevator with a man and catch a whiff of a cologne that was worn by a past boyfriend - it totally brings back memories of him.

However, I will say that it's more common for memories of the past to be triggered by my sense of sound - namely, when I hear a certain song. It can completely bring me back to a different part of my life. I will hear just a few lines and will be hit by a wave of emotion. Sometimes I put my beloved iPod on shuffle and see where the music will take me.

Here are some songs/albums that carry me back to a different point of my life:

  • The album, "How to Save a Life" by The Fray reminds me of the summer of 2006 when I was training for my first marathon. It is by no means upbeat music so probably seems like an odd selection for pounding out the miles. I could relate to a lot of the lyrics, though - so it made the miles fly by as my mind would be occupied with how the lyrics related to my life and past relationships.
  • Doo Wop (That Thing) by Lauryn Hill makes me think of the fall semester of my Freshman year of college at UND. It was quite popular with my suite mates - we would all crank it up while getting ready for the night.
  • Why Georgia by John Mayer reminds me of my spring break trip to Chicago during my senior year of college. Oh how I used to love John Mayer. Now I think he is a classless fool that needs to learn to keep his mouth shut.
  • Overkill by Colin Hay brings me back to a subway ride in Paris. There was a guy singing this song in the subway, which was incredibly random. He was so good, though - I almost thought it was Colin Hay himself!!
  • All My Life by KC and JoJo brings me back to my junior prom. I was dating the class president so we were the first couple during the grand march promenade, and that was the theme song for his junior prom. I vividly remember walking out in front of the crowd to this song. I was stupidly in love with this boy - for many years! Ahh, young love.
What songs bring you back to a different time in your life?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Ten on Tuesday

1. If you could open any type of store/place of business (money is no obstacle), what would you open?
Easy. If I had the capital, I'd open a book store in a New York minute. It would have to have a little coffee shop/bakery area because no book store is complete without the wonderful whirring of an espresso machine!

2. If all jobs paid equally, what occupation would you want? Why?
A librarian. I think I would be such a good librarian - I would find the perfect book for each child that would open their eyes to the wonderful world of reading. I truly believe there is a book out there for every person!

3. If you could be any animal in the world, what would you pick? Why?
I'd be a bird of some sort - I'd love to know what it feels like to fly!

4. If offered one “service” free of charge, which would you choose? (chauffeur, maid, personal shopper, chef, etc.)
I'd love a personal assistant. He or she would send packages for me, sort my mail, pick up my dry cleaning, run errands, etc. A chauffeur is a very close 2nd!

5. What is one habit, no matter how hard you try, you just can’t seem to break?
Biting my nails when I am stressed.

6. What is one thing that no matter how many you own, you still love to buy all the time?
Just one thing? Books. Definitely books.

7. Out of all the game shows (past and present), which would you want to be a participant on and play?
Does Amazing Race count? If so, I would love to be on that!

8. If you could play the lead role in any movie that’s already been made, which movie would you pick?
I'd love to play Holly Go Lightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's. I just adore Audrey Hepburn. She embodies everything I aspire to be in terms of fashion/poise!

9. Name 5 things on your bucket list (things you want to do before you die).
- Spend at least a month in Paris.
- Return to Australia & New Zealand and re-visit all the places I saw when I studied abroad.
- Spend a month+ touring Italy
- Fall head over heels in love with a guy who loves me just as much as I love him.
- Run a 4:30 marathon.

10. Which one of your birthdays was the best? What did you do that day?
That's tough. I have had many wonderful birthday. I think one of my favorites was in 2008 - I went to a wine bar with about 4-5 girlfriends. We told stories and were laughing so much, we got shushed by 2 women who were in their 50s. They said something like, "we know you girls are having fun but you are laughing so loudly, I can't hear my friend talk." This birthday came on the heels of a very difficult, devastating break up, so the fact that I was laughing this much is a testament to the kind of girlfriends I have!

Monday, February 15, 2010

My Funny Valentines

How was your Valentine's weekend? I am so envious of those of you who are still enjoying their weekend thanks to the celebration of President's Day! If only retail observed those holidays!!

I had a wonderful weekend and have some pictures to share with you. I apologize for the poor quality of the photos - they were taken with my blackberry since I forgot my camera!

Mattie LOVED the pizza! He kept asking for more!

Andrew was also a fan the pizza - between Mattie & Andrew, they ate half of a large pizza!

They both ate so well, I decided they could have some dessert. Plus, the perks of being an auntie is that you rarely say no to fun treats! Andrew is almost 5, so loves to do everything for himself. I dished up the ice cream and then let him put his own chocolate on...

This is what happens when you let a 4 year old put chocolate on their ice cream - without watching! Whoops!! Guess he got his week's dose of sugar!

Mattie loves ice cream - and all things sugary!

Despite all the sugar, he went down without a fuss.

Andrew tackled the 100 piece puzzle I brought over. I was worried that the pieces might be too small, but he did great! He must take after me - I LOVED puzzles when I was his age (and still love them, truth be told)

All in all, it was a wonderful weekend.

And if there was ever any question of whether or not I am loved, all I have to do is look at my fireplace mantel where all my birthday and Valentine's Day cards reside...

How was your weekend?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Valentine's Day Past

Happy Friday! It's been one of those incredibly long, 10-12+ hours of work each day kind of weeks! Whew, so glad it's almost over. I am looking forward to celebrating Valentine's Day this weekend. I'll spend it babysitting 2 of my nephews on Saturday night. I'll bring over a heart-shaped pizza and I bought a couple of puzzles for the 4 year old & I to put together once the 2 year old is in bed. Should be a fun night! Even though I have almost always been single on Valentine's Day, I still love the holiday. I know many people think it is a "Hallmark Holiday" but I love that there is one day of the year that people are reminded to tell the people that they love that they love them! I know we shouldn't need a holiday to remind us to do that, but sadly, some people do need that reminder!! So be sure to express your love this weekend - whether it's for your spouse, significant other, parents, sibling, friend, or pet!

My heart will be a bit heavy this weekend as I reflect back on Valentine's Day last year. My Grandpa was in the hospital after having some heart problems, so I drove up to Fargo to see him. I only got to spend about 15-20 minutes with him, but I am so glad I went. I brought a Valentine's Day card for him & Grandma, and some lemon drops since that was kind of 'our candy'. I hugged him and told him to get better and not worry us like he had!

That night, I babysat for my nephews. I vividly remember sitting on the couch with my brother and his wife when they got home, talking about Grandpa and how afraid I was that his life was coming to the end. I didn't want to believe that the life of such a great man could be coming to an end.

That was the last time I saw my Grandpa - he died a week later. So my heart is heavy as I think of the anniversary of the last time I saw him and the anniversary of his death.

But my heart is full of wonderful memories of the countless hours that I spent with him. I know I am blessed to have had him in my life for as many years as I did.

So this weekend, when I reflect on all the love in my life, I will definitely think of the love I received from my Grandpa. I will reflect on the love I have witnessed between my parents and grandparents. I will reflect on the innocent, pure love that I receive from my nephews.

So, even though I am single, I have so much love in my life to be thankful for!

How will you celebrate Valentine's Day?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Perks of Being Single

Valentine's Day is just days away!! This is a very couples-centric time of year so it would be very easy for a single girl like me to start to feel sort of sorry for myself. However, self pity won't do me a bit of good. And really, while there are many things I miss about being part of a couple, there are perks associated with being on my own.

  • When I make decisions about a job or where to live, I don't have to factor another person into my decision - which makes it much less complicated!
  • I get to spend every holiday with my own family!
  • If I want to eat a baked potato every night for dinner, no one is going to complain.
  • Last night, when I came home and worked until 10 pm, it didn't impact anyone else. Granted, I don't enjoy long days like that (at all - I am quite worn out), but it helps to not feel guilty about neglecting someone at home.
  • I have more of an active role in my nephews lives than I would if I was single. They get more of my energy and free time. I have babysat for my 2 nephews that live in the area the past couple of Valentine's Day weekends and this is a tradition I hope to continue - even if I do have a boyfriend next year! I love the looks on peoples faces when I tell them I actually have 2 dates on Valentine's Day. Granted, they are 4 yrs old & 2 yrs old. Details, details...
  • I don't have to explain any purchases to someone! If I want to splurge on a new outfit or go on a book buying spree, I only have to talk myself into it and don't have to then go home and sell my husband on why it was ok to spend our money!
What are the perks of your relationship status?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Worth Waiting For

"So what is your type?"

A friend recently poised this question to me. By now, I should have a well-rehearsed, canned answer to this question. But I really don't. I don't know what my Mr. Right will look like. I don't know what kind of job he'll have. I can't give you a laundry list of what I'm looking for. Sure, I'd love it if he was handsome and wore glasses, but does that really matter? No, it doesn't.

What does matter is the way he will make me feel. This is something I've been thinking about as we approach Valentine's Day. I could try to succinctly say how he will make me feel, but instead I am going to share two poems from Mary Anne Radmacher:

you are every whisper of promise.
when i look at you i hear the laughter of my life,
i remember every dream i have forgotten just after awakening,
i believe in any possibility that i have once touched.

even when you are not with me,
you are part of the memories i make.

and now... i will be the soil of your rich harvest season. the season where the pain of the fallow and the burden of the bountiful come together. i am the orchard in which you walk and ponder and begin to hear the wind whisper of the immeasurable breadth of your strengths. i am the growing places in which you wander and begin to see the richness of your own knowing. it is in this place where you may both rest and soar.


if you are the question
the answer is yes.
if you are the challenge
the problem is already solved.
then and now
yesterday and tomorrow
i go on choosing you.


Aren't those lovely poems? I keep the book of Radmacher's poem on my bedside stand and read them for inspiration. How does your beloved make you feel? If you are single like me, how do you hope he will make you feel?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Ten on Tuesday

1. Fill in the blank. Sometimes I wish my life was more ______.

2. How do you cure the hiccups?
Good Lord. I hope someone has a solution for me. I get the hiccups ALL. THE. TIME. I actually got them all the time when my mom was pregnant with me - I bet that was fun to have your 10 pound baby get the hiccups. Anywho, I've tried many of the common solutions like drinking water from the opposite side of the glass/upside down, putting peanut butter on the roof of my mouth, holding my breath. I've had people tell me they will give me $10 if I hiccuped again, thinking that I couldn't perform 'under pressure' like that (I did hiccup and they did not pay me $10).

Bring on the solutions, people.

3. What are three of your favorite indulgences?
- Vanilla Lattes
- Peanut Butter cups
- Book buying sprees!

4. Where is the most exotic place you would like to travel to? The most mundane?
- Most exotic - Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. Chances of this trip ever happening? Slim to none.
- Most mundane - I actually don't think there is such a thing as a mundane trip. Even a trip home to my boring home town isn't mundane because it's full of great conversations and is spent re-connecting with family and there is nothing mundane about that!

5. Does having your time planned out stress you or relax you?
It relaxes me - it makes me feel in control. I am sure some people think that my life is too planned out, but it works for me. I like knowing at the beginning of the week what night I'll be taking off from the gym and who I will be seeing on the weekend.

I will say, sometimes I plan out TOO much and then I get kind of stressed out from over-committing myself. I am trying to get better about not doing that.

6. What are your favourite fabrics to wear?
Any sort of knits - especially sweaters, as long as they aren't made from wool. I like the look of flowy fabrics but they are not the most forgiving and seem to draw the eye to any flaws I have!

7. Do you sleep through the night?
Rarely. I actually can't remember the last time I slept through the night. Sleep and I don't really get along all that well.

8. When you were younger, what did you think you would be doing at this age? How close is that to what you are doing?
I thought I'd be a lawyer. I'm so not a lawyer. I thought about going to law school, but then I started to really look into it and realized it wasn't all about debating and arguing... And I just didn't see myself loving writing briefs and doing all the research.

9. What has surprised you most about growing up?
The fact that I don't feel different. I thought I would feel older as I progressed in age, but I really don't. Sure I have matured and grown, but I don't 'feel' 29. I am equally surprised by how fast time is flying by!

10. Are you good at keeping secrets?
Yes, yes I am. The hardest secret I had to keep was when my best friend's now-Husband told me he was going to propose to her! I helped pick out the ring and had to keep that a secret for about 6 weeks. Hardest secret to keep EVER but so worth it! It was such an honor to be a part of their engagement process in a small way. And she got the ring of her dreams!!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Birthday Recap

Happy Monday, everyone! Sounds like many of you got a snow storm over the weekend. I must say, I am a bit jealous. I could use a snow day - especially if it was bad enough that I didn't have to go to work. I would still work since I can remote in from home, but working from home in my pjs would be pretty awesome!

I had an absolutely fantastic birthday weekend. I had received a couple of packages in the mail the week before my birthday but I exercised some serious self-control and waited until the morning of my birthday to open them. It was wonderful to brew a pot of coffee, curl up on the couch, and open the treasures I had received from a dear friend & my parents.

I then spent the rest of the day preparing for my company! I was all a-flurry with the task of slicing and dicing all the toppings for the taco bar, and before I knew it, it was time to put on my birthday outfit! I treated myself to a new pink shirt, purchased at Target the night before my birthday. Pink is sort of my signature color, so I just had to find a new pink shirt! Here's the obligatory self-photo, taken in the bathroom, just moments before the guests started to arrive!

I love the shirt, but I fear it might make me look like I am pregnant! What do you think?

Unfortunately, I don't have many other photos to share with you. I was too busy have fun & playing the part of the host, I just didn't think to snap photos like I had wanted to! Suffice to say it was wonderful night! There were balloons & flowers, friends & laughter, story telling & reminiscing. I definitely need to host more parties like this!

I did get one photo of some of the girls that were there! The 2 girls to the right of me went to UND & were DG's. Adrianne & I roomed together when we did our 2 week program in Lyon.

(me, Brooke, Amanda, and Adrianne)

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend! I have some Valentine's Day/love themed posts to share this week - I can't wait for Valentine's Day!

Tell me about your weekend!

Friday, February 5, 2010

30 before 30!

Tomorrow I will turn 29.

29. Still trying to get my head around that.

So how will I be celebrating? I am having some friends over for a little Mexican Fiesta! I'm having a taco bar and everyone is bringing something to share. We'll cap off the night by playing games while enjoying some cervezas & wine!! I have yet to buy a single ingredient for this little fiesta, which is so unlike me, but I have honestly been swamped lately so the shopping will have to occur tonight or Saturday morning.

I can't believe I am starting the last year of my 20's tomorrow. I know this year is going to fly by and before I know it, I'll be posting about my 30th birthday. Life is moving too fast lately and I feel like I can't quite catch my breath. I now understand what my mom meant when she told me she wished she was bored when I would complain about being bored as a child.

I am kind of nervous about turning 30. I know it's a year away, but in my mind, I always envisioned that I'd be in a certain place by the time I turned 30 - namely, in a house with a fantastic husband, and possibly 1-2 kids.

Well, that's not going to happen. I am not going to be married by the time I turn 30 and that's ok. It's out of my control.

So instead of focusing on something that is out of my control, I want to spend the next 365 days focusing on things that I can control.

Hence, the '30 Before 30' list which I've alluded to in past posts! So without further ado, here it is!

1. Work my way up to being able to do 20 real push-ups. I can only do 'girl' ones currently.
2. Run my 2nd full marathon (will be running this marathon!)
3. Join a local running club
4. Go one month without eating out
5. Get a body fat assessment done, most likely in the 'Bod Pod'
6. Run a 5k in 27 minutes (PR is 30 minutes)

7. Learn how to roast a chicken (will need my aunt, mom, or brother's help with this)
8. Make one new recipe/month
9. Host a dinner party
10. Find a cooking class/seminar to attend - most likely at Kitchen Window
11. Go to a knife skills class (at Kitchen Window)

12. List or rent out my condo on or before my 30th birthday
13. Set up a living will
14. Put at least $1,000/month in savings

15. Join the womens group at my church
16. Spend 1 hour in the Eucharistic Adoration Chapel each month
17. Go to a Cathedral Young Adults event

18. Learn how to knit socks
19. Spend a week with my Grandma and learn to crochet
20. See a ballet or opera production
21. Do something with the photos from my France trip (most likely a photo book for my coffee table)

22. Visit a blogger friend in real life! (will accomplish this when I run the marathon with Amber and Lauren, but want to do an additional blogger meet-up!)
23. Send one piece of snail mail/month
24. Buy a new set of dishes - I hate the post-college cheep ones I have!
25. Read 3 classic novels
26. Make over my blog - especially the header. I am going to need help with this!!
27. Do a hair workshop with my best friend Brooke. I suck at doing my own hair. She is awesome. I hope she can teach me how to do my own hair!
28. Visit my grandma at least once every 3 months
29. Climb Inspiration Peak in the fall when the leaves are changing
30. Visit the Duluth, MN area - possibly I will tag along with my aunt & uncle on one of their camping trips?

So there you have it! I will keep you updated on my progress!

If you put together a list like this, what would you include?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Sunday Night Dinner: Hearty Lentil Soup

I've been living gluten free now for nearly one year. It's definitely been challenging, to say the least, but has been a wonderful lifestyle change for me. I owe you guys a post on why and how I went gluten free as many of you have asked! I'll try to get to that this month.

One thing that has made going gluten free much easier is all the resources available on the internet. Thanks to bloggers like Karina, the master mind behind Gluten-Free Goddess, I have lots of gluten free recipes to try out. And honestly, these recipes are so good, they are worth checking out even if you don't have to live gluten free!

Unfortunately, there isn't a gluten free cookbook available - yet. I am sure there will be in the future, but for now I have relied on websites like Karina's.

My creative sister-in-law knew that I really missed having a cookbook to rely upon, so she took matters into her own hands and put together a collection of gluten free recipes!!

This is seriously one of the most thoughtful gifts I have ever received! I know it took her a lot of time to put together - especially since she wrote out all of the recipes by hand! I nearly cried when I opened it on Christmas Eve!

Last weekend, I tried one of the recipes - Hearty Lentil Soup!

You can see the ingredients above, here is how it all came together!

First, you combine all of the ingredients, except the last 3, in a big sauce pan or dutch oven.

Bring that mixture to a boil,

and let it simmer for 60-90 minutes (until the rice and lentils are tender).

Then you add the tomato paste, frozen corn, and peas and let it simmer for an additional 20-30 minutes (until the peas & corn are tender).

And voila! A hearty, delicious, healthy soup.

I'm all about these one-pot wonders. I know it's not a fancy meal, but it's delicious and I love that I have to do very few dishes when it's all said and done!

Wasn't that a cool gift from my SIL? What the most thoughtful gift you have ever received?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Book Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson, was the January selection for our blogger book club. I had already read it this fall so it gave me the month off... which was kind of nice because I haven't been getting as much reading done lately as I usually do! So I don't have a very succinct book review to do since the details are a bit foggy, but I will tell you that I did really enjoy this book. It kind of surprised me because I am not really into the whole murder/mystery genre. This book grabbed me though. I am especially impressed by the fact that it was translated from Swedish. I am always impressed by translations that are done well. I mean, some words just don't translate. To go off on a bit of a tangent - years ago I went to a seminar about how there are no words for some concepts in certain languages. The linguist talked specifically about how the Czech language doesn't have words for ideas such as leadership due to their oppressed past. Pretty interesting stuff. I wish I could remember more details from that talk as it was so interesting, but that was, oh, 6 years ago and I just can't remember all the details!

Anyways, back to the book - it is worth checking out, especially if you like murder/mysteries. The Barnes & Noble guy talked me into buying the 2nd book when I bought this one last fall. I am such a sucker for an up sell like that. Granted, I haven't gotten around to reading the 2nd book, which was probably a mistake as I am not going to remember the story line, but oh well. I will get to it and I am sure I will eventually put the pieces back together and figure it all out!

So the February selection is "The Reader". For the 2nd month is a row, it's a book I've already read. Which I am actually kind of happy about because I have a couple of books on hold at the library, one of which is not renewable, so I need to get those read this month! Here is my book review - maybe this will wet your appetite and convince you to read this gem of a book. I will say it is a bit dark, but I thought it was beautifully written. Confession: I tried watching the movie and I had to turn it off. It weirded me out to see the May-December romance (in reverse, older woman, younger man) play out on the screen! But I am a bit of a prude! It's a great book, though, so check it out and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Ten on Tuesdays

1. What is your favorite travel destination spot?
I'd have to say Paris. I fell head-over-heels in love with that city. It's so charming and romantic. Everything I hoped it would be and more. If I was really wealthy, I'd totally buy a flat in the Marais area. I also think I'd be dating if I lived in France. Or at least I'd be pursued! When I was in France for 3 weeks, I actually got hit on - which never really happens back here in the US! Not that I would move somewhere just because it would mean I might get hit on... err, well, it wouldn't be the only reason I'd move!

2. Cats vs. Dogs.
Don't hate me, but I must say neither. Sorry, I know there are a lot of animal lovers out there. I am allergic to cats and dogs scare me. Unless they are really small and non-threatening... I hope we can still be friends.

3. Do you believe in fate?
Yes, I do believe that some things are just meant to be. I think it's all in the hands of God, though. So it feels like fate to us, but it's all just part of His master plan.

4. Do you believe in karma?
I kind of do. I think what goes around comes around.

5. Everyone has a unique laugh. Do you like yours?
I'm sort of ambivalent. I don't hate it, I don't love it. I couldn't even describe what it sounds like, actually!

6. Is love really all you need?
From a completely practical standpoint - no, love is not all you need. But putting practicality aside, I side with the father on Meet Joe Black (one of my favorite movies!):

"To make the journey and not fall deeply in love - well, you haven't lived a life at all. You have to try. Because if you haven't tried, you haven't lived."

7. What’s your take on the whole 2012 scare?
Hmmm... I must be a bit out of the loop. I don't know what this is referring to! I have no fears about 2012! Someone please comment and tell me what this is referring to!

8. If you won a million dollars and had to give it all away, who would you give it to? (Family and friends not included.)
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. I have been so blessed with 4 healthy nephews. I can't imagine watching a child suffer from a disease!

9. Do you believe in God/religion/the power of prayer?
Absolutely! I'm Catholic & love my faith. I really do think prayer helps. I know have benefited from the countless prayers my mom has said for me!

10. What New Year’s Resolution do you always make but never keep?
I actually don't have something that I make & don't keep. I just started doing resolutions last year and have been really successful!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Highlights & Happenings

Good Morning! It's February! Can you believe it? I am excited, though. That means we are one month closer to putting winter behind us. Plus, my birthday & Valentine's Day are just around the corner! Even though I am pretty much always single on V-Day, I still really like this holiday. More on that later this month! For now, I have some highlights & happenings to share from my weekend getaway!

  • I got a flat tire on Friday night. I do not know how to change a tire but luckily it happened just miles from my cousin Julie's house, where I was spending the night. So her husband, aka my night in shining armor, showed up and changed it for me. I was able to get a replacement used tired for $30 (v. $140 for a new one). Score one for Lisa. But I seriously need to learn to change a tire. I can only use this 'damsel in distress' thing for so long...
  • After her husband came to my rescue, we went back to their house where we got properly caught up! We are only 11 months apart and have always been super close - she actually feels like more of a sister than a cousin. She's 32 weeks along so will have a baby soon and I just can't wait to be an 'auntie' again. I think it's a girl!
  • I saw 2 awesome road-side billboards. One said, "Be Polite." The other said, "Be Grateful." I love North Dakota! In what other state would you see such a thing?
  • After spending about 24 hours in Grand Forks, I am wondering how I went to college there for 4 years. It was -25 with the windchill. That is freakishly cold. Like at least 10 degrees colder than Minneapolis.
  • Discussions were had about planning a girls trip to Mexico to celebrate our upcoming 30th birthdays this fall!
  • I hope said trip happens, but there is a really good chance that some of my girlfriends might be pregnant this fall - which would also be very exciting!
  • I had an absolute blast catching up with my college friends. There were 12 of us staying together, including husbands! We don't all get together very often so these weekend get togethers are priceless - and I know they will be even harder to coordinate once people start having kids!
  • I got to see my parents on Sunday - we went to Mass and then out for lunch to celebrate my birthday. They got me an awesome new coffee pot (much needed!) and an awesome pink coffee mug that says, "I'll have a cafe mocha vodka, Valium latte to go please.' So perfect for a high-strung coffee addict like me!!

What what the highlight of your weekend?