Monday, August 31, 2015

Weekend Review 67: Another Year Wiser

My birthday was last Wednesday. I secretly always wish for a big bash At the same time I like the day to go by without a lot of recognition, and that's exactly what happened, besides the Facebook messages, texts, calls, cards and of course birthday cupcake break at work.

I'm 31. Yuck. I thought 30 would be hard, but 31 just sounds gross. If you asked 16 year old me, after I passed my drivers license test on the first try, where I would be 15 years later, I wouldn't say, dating a guy, living alone in an apartment and no kids. But between those 15 years I sure have learned a lot.

I've learned life doesn't happen according to plan.

I've learned people come and go. The best ones always come back as if no time has passed at all.

I've learned that life events happen for a reason. To help us grow and to learn.

I've learned how to love, lose love, and mend a broken heart.

I've learned that no matter how old you are, you'll always need your mom and dad.

On my birthday, Mike took me to a new restaurant I've been wanting to try since it opened. It's a new Italian restaurant, Il Foro, but it's known for it's cheese burger that's served only during the lunch hour. That's exactly what we ordered and we both cleaned our plates with no secret cheese left behind.

Rumor has it, the chef got the deets on where the cheese for the original Juicy Lucy is from and that's the cheese he uses on his famous burger. If any out of towners come to Minneapolis, you must try a Juicy Lucy. You have your choice of the 5-8 Club or Matt's Bar. You're just wasting your hard earned money ordering an impostor anywhere else.

We both took the rest of the week off and went up to the cabin for a long weekend. Since we didn't get up until dusk, we cooked dinner of grilled chicken wings, corn on the cob and potato wedges and pretty much called it a night.

Thursday started out a bit chilly, so we lounged around all morning and most of the afternoon. I made breakfast and we demolished two bottles of champagne for mimosas before heading to Big Mike's to get Mike a fishing license and some bate.

We took the boat out for a couple hours to go fishing. Well, he fished, I watched and Miley napped. Here's his big catch of the day!

At least the fish continued to increase in size the longer he fished.

For my belated birthday dinner I made a beef tenderloin with a red wine cream sauce that is to die for. We had garlic mashed potatoes, spicy green beans and my favorite red wine to go along with it.

Since the smallest tenderloin we could find was 5.5 lbs, we originally cut off about 2 lbs for the two of us and were going to cook the rest another time. While we were eating, Mike enjoyed the meal so much he said we should make it again the next night when my parents and sister and her boyfriend would be up.

We spent the rest of the night out at the fire. It was perfectly calm, no bugs, no neighbors and just enough chill in the air to make having a fire worth it.

On Friday we decided to go for a drive. Mikes stepdad has a cabin not too far from ours and he also grew up going to camp up there too. We went to the cabin first. It's much more of a fishing cabin then a swimming cabin, but it's a place to get away to non-the-less. Just 5 miles down the road was the church camp he went to and it's everything you imagine camp to be. Or, for a girl who didn't get to go to Summer camp, it was everything I imagined camp to be.

When we got back from our drive, the sun had come out and it was starting to warm up. We inflated one of our large rafts and brought some drinks out while we floated. My mom showed up mid afternoon and Kari and Jason arrived shortly after. Unfortunately my dad had to work a full day so he was the last to arrive.

We made our amazing meal again to share with everyone else before my cousins came over for a couple of hours. They brought baby Ryan with which entertained me for quite some time. I don't have many babies in my life, so I get my fix while I can.

On Saturday Mike left for his football draft and the rest of us packed up our coolers to take a boat ride and to meet my cousins at the sand bar. It was a bit chilly being in the water. We have not had typical August weather for the past week. 60's and rainy so it really cooled down the water. Back to the 80's and 90's this week for the last big hurrah of the Summer. Let's hope it helps warm up the lake.

We spent several hours at the sand bar, some people in the water, others hanging out on the boats. When the sun started to set and the clocks were going on 6:30, we headed back to shore to make dinner.

Mom and I teamed up to make what we agreed was the best chicken alfredo sauce that's ever been made. A full day in the sun combined with a heavy pasta dinner put us all to bed by 9:00 PM. Saturdays are no longer for raging when you're 31.

Mike came back on Sunday morning to bring me back to the cities. I spent the rest of the day as any Sunday should be spent, and that was on my couch, napping, watching Netflix and ordering pizza, finishing up with Bachelor in Paradise.

If you've made it through this long post and are a FitBit-er, send me your email address and lets be friends! I need some healthy competition and motivation for the diet bet I just signed up for.


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

When Flies Attack

After arriving home late on a Sunday evening I was greeted by a fly.

"Must have a hole in my screen, why is there a fly in here?"

Exhausted from the drive and a couple hours past my bedtime, I trapped the fly in my bathroom in hopes that it would die, or at least make my bathroom its home for the night so I wouldn't have to worry about it making my wide open sleeping mouth its home.

7:00 AM I open the bathroom door to a pissed off fly. It did not find my bathroom to be as cozy as I do with it's claw foot tub and make-up stained white rug. (seriously, who buys white rugs?)

I scrambled out the door to catch the bus thinking surly this fly wanted out and would follow me through the door. Negative.

As I got off the bus at the end of the day, it started to rain. This should have been a sign about how the rest of my night would go.

I walked in to my apartment dripping wet to two flies enjoying their freedom with my tall ceilings.

I was in too much of a sour mood to care about the two flies. That is until two more showed up uninvited.

With no fly swatter on hand, I rolled up some junk mail and put my apartment on high alert.

As a back up, I filled a glass with some cranberry juice to see if they would go for the sweet smell. Flies do not like cranberry juice.

Bachelor in Paradise was 30 minutes away and I needed to get dinner started. Since it was Monday I went with the traditional Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo.

More flies started to appear and my cooking got side tracked. No food was safe and paranoia set in that one of those pieces of garlic I burned was actually a fly enjoying my alfredo sauce before me.

I saw a fly trying to escape by buzzing between my half open window and screen. I went to trap it by shutting the window.

"Gotcha! Die fly! Ha ha ha ha! DAMMMMMMM ITTTTTTTT!!"

In a hurry to close my window, the vase sitting on the ledge was spooked and hit the ground and shattered.

I don't have a broom. How do I clean this?!

I picked up what I could by hand and then wiped the rest up with a damp paper towel. Now I know how dirty my floor is. Great.

As I was cutting the chicken to add to the sauce I had a knife in one hand and my rolled up paper in the other killing flies while protecting my chicken.

I started to notice the flies seemed to be coming from my living room window so I closed it, but not before a few more flies found their way in.

I opened the curtains to discover roughly 2-3 dozen flies just buzzing between the screen and window.

I'm pretty sure the flies were mocking me as I'd swat them and they'd dive bomb me. A few landed on my curtains and that's where two found the end of the road.

"Great, now I have fly blood on my curtain. I didn't know flies bled."

As I went to end the life of a third fly on my curtain, my whole damn curtain rod came down with it. I imagine it was the equivalent of being caught in an avalanche, but surviving.

That little bugger escaped and I swatted it like a baseball and it crashed to the ground.

Just as I thought I could finally relax for the evening and all the flies were gone, two more showed up.

By this time my fly killing game was on point and it was a one, two done scenario.

I'm proud to say as of this morning there were no flies. But it also means I can't open my windows because they are trapped in there.

I dreamed of flies attacking me, accidentally eating flies, giant flies.

Please pray that I am fly free.

*Update: I was far from fly free when I got home. Roughly 30 in/on my window. I killed them with windex and hairspray. Every hour one would find its way in. It has been discovered that the flies are coming from the hallway. I haven't seen or heard my across the hall neighbor for a while. Sure hope the flies aren't coming from him. There are roughly 20 flies dead outside his door this morning.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Weekend Review 66: LaCrescent meets Webster

Friday started out like most Fridays do. I was ready to tackle the day so I could head North right after work. I dropped my car off to get an oil change and of course it was the most expensive oil change that included new brake pads, replacing brake parts, and a few other exciting fixes.

Traffic was absolutely horrendous and I was ready to break out my wine cube that had been sitting in my car all day. Since I didn't have ice I thought I better wait until I get to the cabin and let it chill for a while.

Stopped for 30 min on a two lane hwy. Torture
On Saturday morning some old neighbors from the town I grew up in came to visit. As soon as they arrived and got the tour everyone put their suits on and we loaded up the boat and headed to the sand bar.

I was allowed to come up if I cooked and captained the boat so when we got back from the sand bar I started dinner. One couple brought burgers and potato salad, the other brought brats and pasta salad and we supplied local sweet corn and baked beans. As much work as it is to get everything ready for a meal for 7 people, I love doing it all by myself.

After dinner we skyped with one of the families daughter who is my age and currently battling stage 3 breast cancer. We grew up two houses down from each other for many years and were in the same class at our small Catholic school until 4th grade. You never think someone as young as 30 will get breast cancer, but she is definitely fighting this with an amazing attitude.

On Sunday morning everyone was up bright and early...I lied, it wasn't bright. Our guests were very early risers. Like 4:00 am. We had an early breakfast and everyone took off to head back to LaCrescent. It was an overcast day but quite warm and sticky so I hung around all day and tested out our new raft. I can 100% say it is great for a mid morning nap.

I just couldn't get my self to leave the cabin and admit that the weekend was actually over. They always go too fast, so I hung around and made dinner from the left overs from the night before. It's amazing the recipes out there for leftover brats! I watched Bachelor in Paradise before finally packing up and heading home. It was nice to miss traffic and have a smooth ride back to the city.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Weekend Review 65: Red Wing, MN

Minnesota is the land of 10,000 lakes. It's also the land of 10,000 festivals all crammed in to three months and I live in the epicenter of said festivals.

This past weekend was the UpTown Art Fair that manages to close down every street in a 1 mile radius from my apartment which allows for zero on street parking. Luckily I was getting out of dodge and wouldn't have to resist the urge of mini donuts wafting through my living room window.

After work on Friday I packed up my suitcase and headed over to the Mr.'s. He cooked up some steaks for dinner and I brought some bubbly that had been chillin like a villain just waiting to be popped.

We kept it a low night in preparation for the wedding we were going to the next day.

Saturday morning I went for a run around the lake by his house. It was a great way to start the day of endless wine drinking.

Saturday was 10 months of dating for us and the wedding was in Red Wing so we thought we'd make a day out of it and went to a vineyard/winery that was just down the street from our hotel.

Falconer Vineyards didn't have the best reviews but I'm glad we checked it out for ourselves because we both had a great time. We started with a wine tasting. They pre-select 6 different wines for you to try but you can also try others off the menu at no extra cost.

We didn't love the wine, but Minnesota isn't exactly known for having great wine.

After the wine tasting we headed to their back deck where they had wood fired pizza. We bought a bottle of their Marquette wine and shared two pizzas. One was Canadian bacon and pineapple and the other was their signature pizza with sausage, red onion, green bell peppers, jalapenos and grapes! It was delicious and we both agreed we would go back just for the pizza.

I grew up in South Eastern MN in the river valley surrounded by bluffs and valleys so it's always fun to head south and get a new view. The vineyard was small but very pretty with a lot of rolling valleys.

While we enjoyed the view and let our pizza settle, they had a young lady playing an acoustic set and she rotated between the keyboard and her guitars. It was a great compliment to go with the setting.

It wasn't long after we finished the pizza and bottle of wine that we had to check in to the hotel and get ready for the wedding.

The wedding was at the St. James Hotel which is a historic hotel in downtown Red Wing. It was fairly small and the ceremony was very pretty and personable. I had never met the couple before the wedding, but you could get a sense from everyone there that this was going to be a fun and happy celebration.

After the ceremony we moved downstairs for cocktail hour so they could reset the room for the reception. The reception was in the same room as the ceremony that had panoramic windows that looked out over the Mississippi River.

Before the wedding we agreed that nothing good ever happens when a wedding reception is done and that we would just go back to the hotel. Of course that didn't happen and we went to a bar across the river for a few nightcaps.

Once we got back to the cities on Sunday we slept the afternoon away so instead of wasting an entire day I drove over to my parents to get some cuddle time in with Miss Miley. I hung out there as late as I could in hope that when I got back home there would be some place to park.

At 9:30 PM the roads were still closed but luckily I drive a small enough car where I was able to squeeze in to a 'probably not legal' parking spot.

And that concludes my weekend. We have one more wedding this month and then the rest are all cabin weekends that I can not wait for!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Weekend Review: It's August

Roughly a month ago, all of my posts started the same, 'This one time, at the cabin' and then life happened and I was no longer heading North every weekend to relax on floating islands and drink cider until my got rot would tell me to go to bed, have a few bottles of water and do it all over again the next day.

I'm happy to report back with you that this past weekend I was able to venture North and enjoy everything cabin-y.

First, we had girls dinner at the most charming little Mexican restaurant in South Minneapolis called La Fresca's. It's in a quiet neighborhood filled with people taking their dogs for walks and dining outside.

Most of the girls ordered fish or scallops, but I went with the carne asada that I really enjoyed. There were so many different flavors on my plate that all went together very well. I would definitely go back again.

Now, on to the cabin. August came out of no where so my boss let us all take a half day on Friday. I for sure thought this meant I would beat the traffic but everyone else in Minnesota must have had the same boss as me and let them leave early too.

I made a couple pit stops. One for fresh sweet corn that was oh so delicious and one for beer/cider. I stumbled upon Not Your Father's Root Beer and it was just the beverage I needed to get my weekend off on the right foot. Tastes just like root beer, only it's 5.9% alcohol.

Typically when I go to the cabin, I'll ask if there's any food I can bring. My mom's usual response is I don't have to bring anything if I do the cooking. Since I love to cook, this is a great deal for me.

Friday night we had cheeseburgers on the grill with corn on the cob. I wasn't sure how I wanted to cook the corn, but I wanted them to be done quick and not be dry. I shucked the corn and wrapped each one individually in tin foil after rubbing them with a little olive oil and salt and pepper. Then I threw them on the upper rack of the grill for 15 min and voila! The most perfect corn on the cob you've ever had.

Friday night was so calm and we had the Blue Moon so we spent some time at the neighbors fire and let off a few lanterns. 

We had a bit of a late start on Saturday since no one woke up until 9:00. We wanted to get the day started so we did some quick chores, raking the beach, mom planted some flowers and dad rode around on his riding mower.

Just call me Captain Al
As soon as we wrapped up our chores I loaded up the boat and we took off full speed to meet the neighbors at the sand bar. Just as we arrived, they were leaving because it was too windy so we all went back to our side of the lake where it wasn't windy to float in our Oasis Island.

My Aunt and Uncle were up at their cabin so my parents invited them over for dinner. Saturday's meal was bone in chicken breasts with more corn on the cob, a salad and my aunt brought dirty rice. The chicken came out perfect, just a little crispy on the outside but perfectly moist on the inside.

After a day in the sun I put myself to bed quite early and was woken up by thunder and lightning and the family dog panting and looking for a closet to hide in. In her 15.5 years, so still doesn't like storms.

Since I wasn't in a rush to head back to the cities I slept in and hung out until mid afternoon. Traffic in the summer time is a nightmare with everyone else heading home on Sundays. I got off the interstate half way home because it was just crawling along and took a side highway the rest of the way. There might be some stop lights, but it beets bumper to bumper traffic for 60 miles.

Sunday night was the premier of Bachelor in Paradise. In case you forgot, Kirk was my trainer a couple years ago. It's so awkward watching someone you know in a setting like that! I had non stop giggles the whole time he and Carly were sitting down on the beach just waiting for one of them to make a move. Can't wait to watch tonight!