Tuesday, September 23, 2014

#2 in the U.S.A.

Whenever you meet someone one of the questions that always seems to get asked is 'where did you grow up?'

For me that's always been a tricky question. Lately I say Maple Grove because it's where I lived the longest, for all of 10ish+ years. Off and on a little the last few years.

It's where my parents have stayed in one house the longest, 14 years, I believe, and moved in/out of approx 5 times.

It's where I graduated high school.

Fish Lake Park Trails
It's where I had my first job at Panera Bread because I was a Sophomore in high school who wasn't going to prom.

It's where my friends and I would hang out at the Applebee's on Friday nights after football games.

Fish Lake Park
It's where we would have hotel parties at the Red Roof Inn.

It's where I had my first boyfriend.

Morning sunrise
It's the place that I call home.

Maple Grove was just announced as the #2 place to live in the U.S. by Money Magazine and as an MG'er, I'm not too surprised.

When we first moved to Maple Grove the only places to go to dinner was Champp's (RIP), J Cousineaus or the Lookout. Now they have everything from Chuckee Cheese to Pittsburgh Blue.

If you wanted to go shopping you could check out Kmart, Kohls or Old Navy. Now there's the Shoppes at Arbor Lakes with Anthropology,  Victoria's Secret, J Crew, etc.

Where fine dining and shopping are today was once a gravel pit with a single dirt road that ran through it to connect you to the interstate.

My elementary school backed up to a farm. That farm is now a Park & Ride.

I've never lived anywhere long enough to see a city transform and grow like Maple Grove has.

*List in chronological order of where I have lived:
Roseville, MN (0-3)
LaCrescent, MN (3-10)
Edmond, OK (10-11)
Plymouth, MN (11-11)
Maple Grove, MN (11-14)
Mequon, WI (14-15)
Maple Grove, MN (15-20)
Minneapolis, MN (20-23)
Sioux Falls, SD (23-25)
Maple Grove, MN (25-25)
Minneapolis, MN (26-27)
St. Louis Park, MN (27-28)
Maple Grove, MN (28-29)
Minneapolis, MN (29-30)

Monday, September 22, 2014

Weekend Review 26

If you asked me to describe the perfect Fall weekend, it would look something like this past weekend.

Friday after work I headed over to Trader Joe's to pick up some items for the weekend which basically consisted of bacon, OJ and champagne. The necessities for a fabulous weekend. When I got home I found myself washing dishes and cleaning out my front closet whilst drinking a glass of wine of course.

My apartment has two closets. That's it. My front closet had been housing my moving boxes for the last three months. I thought it was time they met their fate and headed to the dumpster so I could store normal things like shoes, jackets and anything that won't fit in my bedroom closet.

When I went to bed, I set an alarm in the off chance that I would actually need assistance waking up before 7:30 am. Per usual, I was wide eyed at 7:00 and mapped out my morning run in my head and how I could incorporate a donut stop along the way.

I had miscalculated my run which was actually a blessing. I ran around Lake of the Isles and then over to Lake Calhoun, but I wanted to go counter clockwise so I could check out Bogarts Donuts but instead went clockwise and the donut shop was too close then and I wouldn't get my 7 miles in. So I continued around the lake and wouldn't you know it, I was shy .25 miles. I headed towards Isles Bun and ran up and down the street until I hit 7 miles!

I had just heard of puppy dog tails, so I hopped in to Isles Bun and ordered one while catching my breath and trying not to sweat all over the other customers. It was fresh out of the oven so I let it cool a bit on my walk home and it was honestly one of the most splendid treats I ever did have for breakfast. Plus, there was absolutely zero guilt after that run.

This morning was just perfect. The weather was on point, the sun was shining, the trees around the lakes are starting to turn, the paths were full of other runners, walkers and bikers, there were events going on around both lakes and it all came together to kick off my Saturday in the best way possible.

I definitely had a little extra pep in my step while getting ready for the day.

A couple friends played in a charity Blondes vs. Brunettes football game for alzheimers so we went to cheer them on. We couldn't have asked for better weather, especially with the cool air that was around here recently. After the Blondes lost we headed to the after party at O'Gara's for a few drinks.

Sunday was another early morning so I laid in bed and planned out my grocery list for the week (I go to the grocery store 5/7 days of the week. It's my happy place). I wanted to make some soups for my lunches but my mind and stomach couldn't figure it out so I bought the fixings for chicken noodle and potato kielbasa soup.

Since the Vikings game was anything but exciting I got going on the potato kielbasa soup. I was thinking of sharing it, but I think I have some more tweaking to do before anyone else tries to make it. It tastes pretty good, and it's dairy free, but I'm not 100% happy with it. It's the first time I attempted a soup without following a recipe and made this one up.

I sipped on mimosas while cooking and after enjoying a bowl, I somehow found myself washing my blinds and then wouldn't you know it, I was on my hands and knees washing my living room floor. I must have blacked out or something. What I do know is that a clean floor feels so amazing under bare feet.

And that's all she wrote folks. My practically perfect weekend all summed up for you.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Fall Fashion Finds

Fall weather means it's time to whip out those boots, comfy over sized sweaters and flannel everything!

Here's a few pieces I've purchased or I am eyeing for this Fall.

Clearly I'm lusting over all things flannel, blue, black and wine colored.

I don't want to tell you what you should or shouldn't do, but I do suggest you head over here and like the Real World: Minneapolis Facebook page! Who know's what I might choose to share there, that I don't share here!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Weekend Review 25: Goal Completed!

This past weekend was the perfect weekend in my world. I went in to it with tentative plans on Saturday and a date with my couch on Sunday to watch the Vikings. That was it.

Friday I got home from work, changed in to comfy clothes and opened up a bottle of wine, lit a candle, flipped through HBO movies and settled on My Big Fat Greek Wedding and 12 Years a Slave and that was my night. Simple and just what I needed.

Saturday I was supposed to get a long run in since you know, I'm running a half marathon in just over a month. Since it wasn't even 40 degrees out when I woke up, I grabbed my laundry and headed over to my parents to save some quarters and pick up my jackets. Fortunately I don't think I'll be needing them this week, but it's been very cold around these parts lately.

I had tentative plans on Saturday to meet a fella that I've been chatting with. It didn't happen and I was a bit down about it, but then another fella asked if I was free so I met up with him. We went to Republic for some drinks and food then walked over to Cuop d'etat for some fun cocktails. Regardless if we go out again, it was just refreshing to go out with a nice person and have a good time with good conversation.

Sunday was a bit of a struggle. I laid in bed until I knew I could order pizza and have it delivered just in time for kick off. It was a tough game to watch, especially with all the AP news. I'm not sure how I feel about this whole thing, it's a crappy situation to be in.

I was watching The League and one of the episodes was the one where Pete runs in to AP who is dating Gina Gibiatti and Pete goes through the whole 'I hate Adrian Peterson but he's such a good player, what to do' dilemma.  I kind of think that's how a lot of Adrian Peterson and Vikings fans are feeling. We hate your actions but you're AD!

Oh, and remember waaayyyy back when I said I had a goal to be debt free by 30. Well, that goal is officially complete. A couple weeks post 30, but I'm debt free and damn it feels good!

Thursday, September 11, 2014


Do you ever believe you are destined for something bigger? Something better? Something that will change the whole world you live in? I sure have.

The big question is. What is my destiny?

Every morning my alarm sounds at 6:30 am and I hit snooze three times before I turn on my Ray LaMontange iTunes station and groggily head to the bathroom, brush my teeth, curl my hair, put on a few strokes of makeup and under eye concealer. I walk in to my closet and grab a dress, slip on some flip flops and my glasses. I wander in to the dark kitchen and grab my pre-packed lunch and out the door I go, racing to meet the bus to the bus stop.

20 minutes later on a crowded bus, I exit at the 7th street stop, walk into my building, and take the elevator up 49 floors. I stop by my desk, switch out my flip flops for heels, grab my drinking glass and head to the kitchen to store my lunch and fill up with water.

The next 9 hours I sit in an open cube with no cube mate. The offices around me are dark and quiet. I send a few emails, enter some expense reports and collect some files. For the most part, I sit and wonder, what is my destiny? Surely this can't be it.

I think about all the things I think I could be. All the things I'd rather be doing than staring at two monitor screens, one with email, one with multiple calendars pulled up. Something more exciting. With more freedom. More creativity.

A hair dresser, jewelry designer, web designer, photographer, mother, wife, cook, top blogger (yes, that would be rather cool), fitness instructor, etc.

I've always wanted to take a cooking class, and a photography class, and a jewelry making class, and a screen printing class (however I did that in 7th grade. Doesn't count).

Years ago my parents got a nice camera but they never use it. I'm picking it up soon so I can learn how to use it. Maybe teach them a thing or two. I think my trip down Destiny's Way will start with photography. Maybe even a photography class. My food pictures will look much more enticing so maybe that will be my next turn. Food.

I feel like I have all these passions but not all the tools to complete them. To make them what I want.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Weekend Review 24: White Wedding

I have a special treat. This Weekend Review did not take place at a cabin or lake. However it did take place in Wisconsin, so that's still the same.

Friday morning Kari picked me up and we ran our Personal Attendant errands which included picking up some gladiolus from the Farmers Market, a wedding cake and the grooms ring.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, the jewelers didn't open for another hour from when we arrived so we walked up and down Grand Avenue in Saint Paul, popping in to every nail salon we could find. As we came upon the 6th salon, our final try, they had room and we were able to get our nails done!

It was all by chance that we stopped in, but for $15 for a basic manicure, I would definitely make the drive back to Grand Ave. and have them do my nails again. So if you're in St. Paul, check out LA Nails. They were awesome.

Once we had the ring, cake and flowers we were off to River Falls for Erin and Tony's wedding weekend!

Their wedding was being held at Larson's Barn just outside River Falls. There was a lot to do as far as decorating, setting up the bar and tables, arranging flowers, setting up the chairs for the ceremony ect.

And playing with horses of course.

I didn't get anything really from the day of because I was running around keeping the brides wine full and finding groomsmen to attach boutonnieres to, but here's some pictures I did get.


Table/Name Cards

Guest Book Tree/Favorites Table w/ Koozies and Cow Pies

The Grand Reveal Stolen From My Sisters Instagram

It's All About The Meat (catered by Kafe 421)

It wouldn't be a wedding without a wedding day selfie. You have to make sure you look good in pics, so they don't turn out looking like this....

You're welcome.

Sunday morning we all got up and headed home so we could catch the Vikings game. I may or may not have napped through the first half, but boy am I glad I didn't miss the second half. I'm pretty excited for football this year. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Shave Time. Shave Money.

*Dollar Shave Club did not compensate me for this post. From word of mouth I know they are a great service and one I wanted to share with you!

I've been intrigued by those advertisements on my Facebook page advertising quality razors for as little as $1 month. I spend $20 just on refills every couple of months! So when Dollar Shave Club asked if I wanted to write a post about how I Shave Time and Shave Money, I hopped over to their website, watched this video, and soon realized I don't change my razors nearly enough as I should. Then I happily obliged to writing the article.

Here are ways that I Shave Time and Shave Money in my life.

Shave Money.Clearly a lesson I just learned, and I hope you learned as well, is to quit spending money on your drugstore razors and sign up for Dollar Shave Club. So I'll get right on that.

Shave Time. Have a hot date tonight but that favorite shirt of yours is at the bottom of the dirty clothes hamper? You also have to get in a workout so when 'Hot Date Guy' picks you up you can tell him you worked out and he'll think you love fitness. Throw in your load of laundry then hit the gym/trails for a 40 minute work out. When you get back, wash will be done. Transfer to the dryer and jump in the shower then do your hair and makeup. Boom another 45 minutes gone and the dryer buzzer is going off. Bonus, you smell like fresh laundry. No one can resist the smell of fresh laundry. I do this all the time, but not for hot dates. Usually because I want to watch as many episodes of True Blood in a night as I can without interruption.

Shave Money. Don't waste your money on cable. Especially during the Summer months when everything is on repeat. Subscribe to services such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, etc. The great thing with these services is that you can share them with friends! Divide who subscribes to what since you can have multiple profiles and stream on different devices at the same time. For whatever reason my provider thought I'd love HBO with my 10 channel package, well, they were right. I do love HBO. Now I can just bring my HBO GO wherever I go and share it with my friends. Hello Summer Heights High! If that's not a good order pizza and drink wine with friends kind of show, I don't know what is.

Shave Time. Make lists. I love making lists! Then I forget them at home, at work, in the car. Now I make lists in my phones notes section because these days, no one goes anywhere without their phones. A good place to store your lists you'll repeatedly use is in Google Drive because, like I said, you always have your phone and everyone Googles. I make lists for grocery shopping so I stick to what I need and don't miss anything. Nothing like planning to make spaghetti and meatballs and you forget the marinara sauce. I make lists for packing for vacation. Going to Mexico and forgot your SPF 50? Enjoy spending $30 at the hotel gift shop for an 8 oz bottle. I also make lists for my daily tasks. When you see it written down on paper, or in your phone and you can cross it off, there's more satisfaction in just getting the work done so you can relax or play later.

Shave Money. Pack your lunches! I work downtown where there are restaurants around every corner and it's impossible to find a lunch without a beverage for under $10. That's $50+ a week just spent on lunches. That doesn't even include the groceries you have to buy for breakfast and dinner! Sundays I make my list of groceries that I'll need for the week and spend the day prepping my meals. I love to cook, so each night I'll double what I'm making and it will be my lunch the next day. This works great for salads, spaghetti, soups and chili's, etc. Plus you aren't eating the same meal twice in one day, so it doesn't really even feel like you're eating left overs. I also like to keep a stock of Ramen and instant soups or canned veggies at my desk in case I felt like gorging the night before and not leaving any leftovers for my lunch.
*Tip - eat lunch before leaving the office and walking around so all the amazing smells of fried foods, food trucks and hot dog carts don't suck you in.

How do you Shave Time and Money?

Friday, September 5, 2014

Baked Chicken Strips With a Kick

Where I live I'm surrounded by a plethora of amazing restaurants. When I get off the bus after a long day at the office where I get the pleasure of eating leftovers for lunch, my taste buds go nuts for all the smells wafting through the air.

It really messes with my mindset of saving money (don't eat out!), eating healthy-ish (all the fried foods!), and digging in to a second round of leftovers (save money!).

My stomach negotiated with my head and and came to a compromise that I would make an alternative to what I would have most likely ordered if I went out. Chicken strips and fries. So, I walked to my local grocery store to pick up a few items for Homemade Baked Chicken Strips to satisfy my craving.

I loosely followed this recipe but added one special ingredient, cayenne pepper!

Mix 1 cup panko bread crumbs with 1 teaspoon of garlic salt, onion powder, pepper and cayenne pepper. If you don't want a kick to your strips, leave out the cayenne pepper. Trust me though, you'll love it.

For the chicken you can either cut up some thawed chicken breasts into strips, or use chicken tenders. I went the chicken tender route and cut those in half.

Since I cook for one I make two servings. One for now and one for leftovers. I used 6 chicken tenders, cut in half, for 6 strips per meal.

Crack two large eggs in a bowl and beat well. This will be the glue that holds the panko bread crumbs to your chicken.

Smart Chicken is the only chicken I will buy.
Before getting your fingers all messy, take a sip of that reisling sitting behind the eggs there why dontcha.

Now you're ready to go. Take your chicken, dunk it in the egg mixture so it's fully covered and then roll it in the panko bread crumb mix. Make sure to cover the whole piece. Set on a baking sheet and repeat until all your chicken is gone.

Put in a preheated oven at 450 degrees for 20 minutes, then an additional 5 minutes under the broiler.

Make sure you have some ranch or ketchup for dunking, because these strips scream DUNK ME! 

If you have kids, babysit, or eat like a 5 year old at 30, you will definitely love this recipe. It's simple, baked and uses all staple kitchen ingredients.

Ingredients (Serving for 2)
6 chicken tenders cut in half
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 large eggs

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Mix panko bread crumbs with the remaining dry ingredients. Beat two eggs in a small bowl. Dunk chicken strips into eggs and roll in panko mixture. Line the chicken on a baking sheet and put in the oven for 20 minutes and an additional 5 minutes under the broiler.

Nutritional Information
191 calories per serving
2 g fat
30 g protein
1 g sugar
13 g carbs

Thursday, September 4, 2014

There should only be one strike

It’s no surprise to anyone that I have an amazing dating life. I really attract the cream of the crop and for whatever reason, always give guys a second chance.

Earlier this year I had gone on a few dates with a fella. We were really hitting it off, but then out of the blue, after the third date, he completely disappeared.

You remember I have a three date curse right? Haven’t made it past three dates in over a year. I’m sure it’s all me too. It’s definitely not the guys.

Then one day, said man texted me and told me he had met someone the night after our third date and something in his gut told him he shouldn’t see anyone else and focus his time and energy on her.

I was proud of him for finally telling me what was up, but it was a blow. Knowing we had spent three dates getting to know each other and after just one night he wanted to give all his time to another girl.

Months passed and I went on my merry way. Enjoyed the Summer as a single gal. Frolicking around Minneapolis and the lake, just waiting for my prince charming to come galloping in.

As Summer started to wrap up, I found myself on Ok Cupid and who do I see? Mr. Follow My Gut. And he messaged me to ask me out! Oh thank the high heavens my dreams came true! He came back to me.

You know what they say “If you like someone set them free, if they come back they are yours”, or some b.s. like that.

I agreed. But was this a 1st date or a 4th?

The date was beyond awkward. He went to the wrong apartment building to pick me up. He got lost getting to this restaurant he says he’s been to many times. He played on his phone all through dinner. We went to a comedy show, but moved seats three times before he found the perfect spot for his royal hiney. And, we left the comedy show early. When he dropped me off, there was no hug or kiss, instead he pulled out his phone and whilst looking at his phone, said he’d like to get together again.

The weird thing is, he is the one who asked me out. He kept saying he was the winner because I said I’d go out with him again. He said he’d been wanting to ask me out ever since Gut Feeling Girl didn’t work out.

So, did I make him nervous? Uncomfortable? I’ll never know…

I said to myself I’d go out with him again for a 2nd/5th date because the first two dates were really awesome so I’d give it another chance.

But in protecting myself from being left for another Gut Feeling, I wanted to know where he was coming from. I asked if he was actively dating and that I would hope if we went out a few more times that we would be exclusive to give it a fair chance.

Cause, ya know, Gut Feeling Girl got him after one night. Of course this wouldn’t be an issue and he’d agree because we’d have been out 5/10 times (depending on the math).

His response? I barely know you. We are not boyfriend and girlfriend. You’re too reserved.

Hmm...being exclusive doesn’t mean you have to be bf/gf. You asked me out, remember? So if you don’t know anything about me, how did you know you wanted to go out again?

I found this interesting because it all went down while watching an episode of Bachelor in Paradise where Clare was trying to figure out where she stands with Zach. He didn’t want her to accept a date from a newbie coming in, yet he wanted to be able to pursue other opportunities that might show up in paradise.

I don’t understand the double standard where it’s not ok for the girl to continue to date because she’s then easy, or playing games. If a guy wants to date you but also pursue new ladies, it’s somehow ok?

Please, men, tell me how your minds work. You might just be more difficult to crack than us ladies.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Weekend Review 23: Birthday and Labor Day

If you live in the Midwest then you know Labor Day really signaled the unofficial end of Summer. We were greeted with cooler temps and plenty of rain.

As sad as I am to see Summer go, I'm looking forward to hiding my badly misquito bitten legs for a few months, purchasing some new boots and wrapping up in soft flannel and cozy sweaters. Luckily I think we still have a couple more weeks before the flip flops and swim suits will officially retire.

I need to back up a bit here, so forgive me if this post is a tad long.

Tuesday I celebrated my 30th birthday. It feels a little surreal seeing that '3' at the beginning of my age, but c'est la vie. I went to work as any responsible 30 year old does and we had a cupcake party with cupcakes from Woullet bakery, which are delicious, and then I played hookie for the rest of the day.

My mom met me on the patio of The Local. My dad, and sisters later joined and we were greeted by all the servers and bartenders we would see on a weekly basis way back when The Local was where my dad would do a lot of entertaining for business.

We had 6:30 dinner reservations at Burch, which I had been wanting to try ever since it opened. I'm so glad mom and dad agreed to letting us go there because it was a fantastic meal, the service was great, the atmosphere is buzzing with conversations. All around, a wonderful choice to celebrate a birthday or just to celebrate making it through a Monday.

The family gifted me this beauty.

Well, actually, they gifted me a picture of the bike. It's still getting some final touches. Like making sure the tire turns when you turn the handles. Details. I can't wait to get on the bike since I live right off the Greenway and it's been close to a decade since I've tried to ride one that's not mounted to the ground.

Ok, on to the weekend.

Thursday I stopped by the Farmers Market on Nicollet Mall, one of the things I'll miss dearly once Fall is officially here. I picked up some tomatoes and the freshest, juiciest jalapenos I ever did see and made some of my salsa to bring up to the cabin. Everyone seemed to enjoy it, so I'll take that as a win.

Kari and I headed up to the cabin Friday afternoon and after changing routes to avoid some pretty nasty traffic, we were at the cabin just in time to head to Jed's for 2-4-1's! The restaurant was completely packed so we didn't hang out long, or even participate in the meat raffle. Instead we headed back to the cabin, grabbed some beverages and wandered over to the neighbors for a little bon fire action.

I had a couple friends come up on Saturday, unfortunately it was quite chilly so there was no water activity, so we did what we do best. We drank. We started the day with mimosas and moved on to some cider after that. We went to bed early, but not before a special guest stopped by.

Sunday was incredibly windy, but the sun was out and temps were rising. We played lots of bags, listened to music and watched the dogs learn to jump off the end of the dock after their tennis balls as we chased the sun with our chairs to get the most out of the day.

With storms rolling in, Bridget and Andy left late afternoon and we headed over to the neighbors to bug them while they wrapped up their work for the day. Everyone was glued to their radars wondering when these big storms were going to hit and since the sky just kept looking good, we were able to have a fire before one quick down pour that flooded our yard all over again.

The only thing that would have made this weekend better would have been if the water was warm and we could have floated all day long. But, I successfully made it through my first holiday as a 30 year old.