1 week!

It has been a while since my last post… We are officially moving in one week so we have been a bit busy!
There was a long drawn out ordeal with the seller about financing, and also a contract mistake, but thankfully we have gotten it all sorted out and managed to hang on to our seller. Phew! Last week we had the pleasure of meeting the sellers of our new home, and they couldn’t have been nicer. They are selling us a bunch of their furniture so we went over to take a look the pieces. A sweet couple from Louisiana, they had thick southern drawls that were fun (and different for up north!) to hear. They also informed us all about the house and gave us maintenance numbers, so nice! They even let me take a bunch of boxes they weren’t going to use.
We cannot wait to move. We are throwing together boxes this weekend and into next week, then out we go on Thursday. I’m am hoping to grab a small break and get outside to enjoy this summer weather! Finally!!
Let the countdown BEGIN…

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movin’ on up!

This is a LONG overdue post:  We’re moving!

Z and I had been looking on and off at houses for the better part of a year.  The market in Minneapolis has completely changed overnight, and now when a good house hits the market, it sells, immediately.  Most good houses aren’t even hitting the market, and selling before-hand through word of mouth.  We got a bit frustrated after losing a couple of houses to multiple offer situations, but then, finally, our new house hit the market.  There weren’t any interior pics posted, but Z did some detective work and found some old pics online.  The pics looked pretty good, so we set up a showing.  We were happily surprised that the house was even BETTER than the old pics, many more updates had been done!!  We put our offer in right away.  We found out the next day that there were 5 other offers on that house in just 24 hours, so we changed our offer to be more aggressive.  We had learned a thing or two about what it takes to get a good house in this market, so we weren’t planning on taking any chances.  Plus, we threw in a nice, personal letter with a photo to seal the deal.  Hooray!  It’s ours!!

It’s a 4bed/4bath with 3 gas fireplaces to keep us warm, a sun room, and a nice yard.  Some of the bathrooms need updating, but otherwise we love everything that has been done to the house.  I’m not including pics of the outside or sharing the exact location on the blog, but I will email friends and family soon.  Here are some pics:

Front door entry.

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Front living room that walks into the dining room.

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Small office just off the front living room.

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Main floor family room.

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Basement.

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Sun room that walks outside onto deck.

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Small deck next to a paver patio with pergola (Z and our inspector).

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Eat-in kitchen area (with wine fridge! eee!)

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The kitchen (my FAVORITE room).

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Can we all take a moment to sing like angels for this? Aaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh….. ❤

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We could not be more excited.

You’re probably wondering, “what about your current house??”  Well, we sold it!  It only took two days!  Well, 2 weeks of prep work, THEN two days. 🙂  The joy of having our offer accepted on the new house was halted when I started to realize that we needed to put our current house on the market ASAP, and how much we had to do to prepare.  Thankfully, some hired help came to the rescue.  We had two weeks to do work, but within those two weeks included two weekend trips (one for fun, and one for Easter), and two nights of holiday dinners for Passover.  Plus we were both working full time during the day.  I was thinking there was no way on Earth we would get our house ready in time!

First, Z and I cleaned out any excess stuff from our house.  Every room was cleaned out, and super edited down.  We took all of the extra things and brought them to Z’s parent’s house.  They have a big storage room that they were happy to lend to us for a while.  While we were in California for Coachella (see previous post), we had our friend and his crew come in and do some updating for us.  Our friend is one of the hosts of the show “Renovate to Rent” on HGTV (season 2 is filming!), so he definitely knows what he’s doing.  They painted trim & doors, replaced door knobs, replaced carpeting in the basement, and put an apoxy over our 1950s rose pink bathroom tub and sink.  It looked so much more fresh when we returned!   A guy that Z works with owns a cleaning company, so we had them come in last minute to do a big show-house clean, since we just didn’t have the time.  We had about 6 showings, 2 paper offers, and 2 promised offers within 2 days!  We accepted one of them and chose the same closing date as our new house.

I’ll miss this house and our great neighborhood.  Everyone has been so nice and it was a wonderful first home for us, and a great learning experience.  I’ll take the memories from this house and be ready to create new ones in our new home!

Bye-bye house.  I’ll miss your flowering crabapple, your hydrangea bushes, your private yard, and your warm fireplace.  Be good to the new owner.

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sand tunes: coachella 2014

I have been getting so behind on my posts, there is a LOT to update you about!  I’ll start with my most recent weekend trip, to Weekend 1 of Coachella!

Zach and I sort of stumbled across this trip, and I’m so glad it ended up working.  A good friend of ours’ parents had been renting a winter home in Palm Springs, and they told him they would give us the house for the weekend.  We had to buy our ticket wristbands after-market, so they were pricey, but with the money we were saving on lodging, it was worth it.  Now, I am not normally a music festival person.  I’m rarely familiar with bands that aren’t mainstream, and can have little patience for long, drawn-out sets.  But Coachella’s formula worked for me.  The sets for all bands were 45 minutes-1 hour long, and since they were pretty short, each act played their most loved, most fun tunes.  Plus, there were never any quiet stages.  There are 6 stages, and if they were between acts, they were still playing music over the speakers to keep the entertainment going.

Lesson 1: don’t fly in on Friday.  Since we woke up around 5:30am CST to catch our flight, it was really 3:30am in California.  I’ll explain why this was a bad idea shortly.

We flew into the Palm Springs airport, (which is outdoors!), and stepped out to the curb to this view.

photo 1 (11)I had never been to Palm Springs before. I loved the mountains, the beautiful landscaping, and the mid-century homes.  You know you’re in the desert when you drive on the edge of town and see fields of nothing but sand.  Anywho, we went straight to the house to change and get ready, then we met our other group of friends at their house, where about 20 people we staying!

(Our friend’s house, not where we stayed.  With Jody, half of the couple we stayed with)

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(Isn’t this plant cool??)

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They rented a school bus for the weekend, so we all climbed on and drove the 20-ish miles to Indio, where Coachella is held.

photo 1 (12)The first day it was HOT.  About 99 degrees and no clouds, it was hard not to notice.  I drank 6 bottles of water that day and only had to take 1 bathroom break!  Luckily, once the sun goes down, it drops 30 degrees, and we put on our long sleeves.  Some acts we saw on day 1 included: Outkast, Zedd, Girl Talk, Ellie Goulding, Chromeo, and Duke Dumont.  It was an epic day!  So epic, that we were awake for 24 HOURS.  Remember that lesson I wrote about?  With the time change, we were awake from 3:30am-3:30am.  The shows stop at 1am, but then you have to walk pretty far to transportation, and since we took the bus, we had to wait for everyone to show up, then drop people off, THEN drive back to our house where we were sleeping.  By the end of the night, my feet and legs had shooting pains, and we fell asleep instantly on the bus ride home.

Some pics from day 1:

(Our house mates, Fred & Jody, me & Z)

 

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(Our jewelry-inspired temporary tattoos.)

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(Daytime shots)

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(There were lots of cool art installations, most that looked different or lit up at night.  I loved the astronaut and the garden caterpillar, [not pictured].  There was also a ferris wheel that looked pretty at night.)

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(Sitting break near the end, so exhausted!)

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(We sat down before shows to secure our spot for our big group, many are not pictured.)

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After a MUCH needed night’s rest, we were ready for day 2.  We decided to go a little later in the day, to beat the heat and catch the better shows.  We ate lunch in downtown Palm Springs, which I might add, is adorable.  What a cute city!  As we were driving around, we realized it was a WINDY day, and sand was blowing everywhere.  We were told in advance that this might happen, so we packed our bandannas to put around our mouths/noses.

A good look, eh?

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Despite the sand storm, it was a cooler, much more comfortable day.  Some acts we saw day 2: Pharrell (SO fun!), Kid Cudi, Sleigh Bells, Dillon Francis, Fatboy Slim, Skrillex, Nas.

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(Our group taking pics in a mirrored art installation, which lit up at night.  You can see the sand-haze in the air).

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There was one tent that played nothing but EDM (electronic dance music), and had the coolest video screens and lasers.  We watched a show way back behind the tent from the beer tent, and enjoyed it even more from back there, because we could see the entire light show.

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(some closer-in shots)

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Side note – SO many people carried big strange things on a stick, or a big blow-up item.  The crowds got extreme sometimes, and it really helped keep groups of friends together.  Our group would have the guys put their hats up so we could find them again.

Compared to day 1, day 2 FLEW by, almost too fast!  Before we knew it, it was time to go.

(Frankie, Freddy, Z and I jammin in an open area).

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By the end of the night, we were DIRTY.  We could feel the sand on our faces/bodies, in our eyes/ears/noses, but couldn’t really tell how much of it was there until we got home that night and looked at pictures like this one…. (LOOK at my face!)

photo 5 (2)… or in the mirror at home!  I walked in and said, “OHMYGOD!”

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Even though it was really late, we all took long showers then got in the hot tub before bed.

The next day, we hung around the house on a beautiful day, sat by the pool, and went for lunch at a local deli.

(The house)

photo 3 (6)Lesson 2: Stay until Monday.  There was a whole other full day of acts we missed because our flight left on Sunday.  I’m not sure we even had the energy for it, but it would have been fun.

Some random Coachella tidbits:

-For a big music festival, we barely saw anyone who looked “gross”, or who looked so messed up they needed medical attention.  That says a lot.

-The food choices were great.  And with it being California, they even had a lot of vegan/veg options, and healthy options.

-The bathroom situation, although porta-potties, was decent.  They were tented out of the sun, and men’s and women’s were separated.

-It seemed clean and well organized.

 

I would definitely go back!!

 

 

 

aspen adventures

One week ago, Z and I returned from a long, fun, action-packed weekend in Aspen, CO.  We booked our trip for a wedding of our two friends, Joey and Stefanie.  We flew to Denver and met Z’s cousin and his friend who were flying in from NYC, then we picked up our rental car and drove through the mountains to Aspen.  It’s about a 4 hour drive, but it’s the most beautiful drive.  After passing popular ski towns like Vail, Beaver Creek, etc., we headed into the river valley, that is, (in my opinion), one of the most gorgeous drives in the USA.  We started to head south around Grand Junction, and eventually got into Aspen.  I snapped a shot of this *perfect* mountain when we were almost to our destination.

photo 1 (9)By the time we got in, it was early evening, so Z and I settled into our hotel, and then walked into town to get Z measured for a snowboard and boots to get ready for the next day.  I have never been skiing or snowboarding in my life, and I didn’t think many of our friends were beginners like me, so I decided not to ski.  I could have taken a lesson and gone on the bunny hills by myself, but I knew I’d be just as happy enjoying the town and hotel during the day.  I would really like to learn someday, so I’ll will definitely try when I’m not in town for a big event.  It would be nice to learn on one of Minnesota’s big hills, to start.

Here’s Z and his new bear friend.

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That night we met a big group of friends at a local restaurant, Jimmy’s, then had some drinks afterwards at a little lounge.  We had a LOT of friends in town for this wedding, so it was a fun, big group.  Speaking of friends in town, through texting and social media posts, I figured out that I had 3 friends from my college sorority in town, all for different reasons!  I got to see Kate and Ally, but didn’t make it work with Jess, who I hope to see soon.  I love it when that happens, such a nice surprise!

The next morning, we awoke to a sunny, gorgeous day. This is the view from our hotel room (with an equally nice view the other direction towards the ski hill).

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We popped downstairs to enjoy our hotel’s AMAZING complimentary breakfast buffet before heading out.  This was the best hotel breakfast I’ve ever seen!  A yogurt/granola/fruit/fixins station, a bagel station, hot food like eggs, sausages, pancakes, pastries, cereal, THE WORKS.  Our hotel actually didn’t serve lunch since most people are out skiing during the day, so they definitely made up for it with this breakfast.  Z got all ready to go boarding, and I got dressed to wander the town.

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I met Ally that morning for coffee and catch-up, then wandered the shops.  Aspen has a lot of high-end designer shops, as well as cute local boutiques.  Nothing was cheap, but it was fun to peek around.  It was mid-40s, sunny and calm, a gorgeous day.

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That evening was the rehearsal dinner, which was held on the top of Aspen Mountain at the lodge.  We all met at the gondolas at 6pm to ride up to the top.  The theme of the evening was “western chic”, and they handed out cowboy hats to everyone getting on the gondolas.  Now, I am not afraid of heights, but for some reason, those gondolas were a bit frightening to me.  Especially when they stopped, and swung, and dipped.  It was a 3,000 ft. climb up the mountain, and at the top there were incredible views.

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*Top of the mountain*

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(Note: my hat didn’t fit well because I have a giant-sized head)

*Views from inside the lodge*

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Z borrowed some cowboy boots from Leo, the boys loved them.

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We made our way back down the mountain at 10pm, in the dark, with strong winds.  That part was NOT my favorite, eeep!  We met everyone at a ski bar and then home to sleep.

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The next day, Z went back out to board, and I met up with some non-skiers, then hit the hot tub before getting ready for the wedding.   The wedding was held at the St. Regis hotel which was GORGEOUS.  We arrived a little early, and hung out in their swanky lounge by the fireplace.

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The ceremony was out in the courtyard, in a totally clear, heated tent.  It started snowing just as the bride came into the tent, like it was on cue.  The ceremony was in the middle, with chairs surrounding on all sides.

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After the lovely ceremony, we all went downstairs  for cocktail hour.  There were passed hors d’oeuvres, open bar, and an incredible all-female musical group that all played string instruments.  They played high-energy songs from classical to pop and were practically dancing while playing, they were so fun to watch!

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We found our plexiglass-etched placecard on a 6 ft. tall ice sculpture/tree.

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photo 1 (5)Once in the reception room, we sat down at our big rectangular table for dinner.

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Our menu, was again, etched plexiglass.  (Notice the bomb menu selections)

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I don’t have any good pics of the ceremony, probably because I was too busy dancing to their 15-person band, having fun in the photo booth, and sitting down at the oxygen bar.  Yes, oxygen bar.  It is the mountains, after all. 🙂  We had such a great time with wonderful friends, a truly memorable weekend!!

 

fixture fumbles

This post should reaffirm our inability to be handy around the house.  This is the story of our dining room light fixture.

You may recall my initial post about this light fixture, back in January.  After our handyman came over repeatedly to fix this jumbo-sized hole in our ceiling, we were left with a big, ugly patch to paint over.  The patch was a grey color, so it definitely didn’t match the ceiling.  Like the smart, handy people we are, we went to our paint stash in the garage left by the previous owners, and found some white paint in a can labeled “interior”. This was our first genius move.  After the first coat, it still looked grey.  “It just needs another coat”, I thought foolishly.

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After painting the second coat, it started to look like the paint wasn’t going to be the same color as the ceiling.  It was darker, and not only that, it was really shiny.  You could see this paint job from a mile away.

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Oh.  That looks good.

I actually thought that there must be some sort of “Ceiling White” out there, and it turns out there is.  DUH!  Thanks to the affirmations of my super handy sister and brother-in-law, I went out to the hardware store and purchased a can.  My first touch up paint session was late at night, so I found it a little impossible to see where I needed to paint.  You can see in the pic below where the new paint is and where the missed spots are.

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Ahh.  Much better.  After the second coat of the correct paint, it still doesn’t look perfect, but at least it’s not AS noticeable.  We are happy with how the fixture looks, and it updates the space a lot more than I thought.  Hooray for this finally being done!

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recipe review – kale, turkey sausage, and barley stew

I enjoy cooking and throwing things together, but sometimes I need new ideas, so I turn to recipes.  I have this pet peeve with recipe reviews.  Reviewers will give a recipe 5 stars, but then say they changed 12 things about it.  You can’t review a recipe properly while changing 12 things to your liking, that’s not following the recipe!  Just my opinion.

I don’t know if it’s because of our cold MN winters, but in the last few years, I’ve become obsessed with soup.  Nothing is more comforting than a steaming hot bowl of soup.  I even have a Pinterest board dedicated to soup.  Last night I was hankering for soup so I perused my board and came across this recipe from the Williams-Sonoma blog for Kale, Turkey Sausage, and Barley Stew.

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I stopped by Trader Joe’s after work to pick up the ingredients.  They didn’t have any turkey sausage, so I picked up spicy Italian chicken sausage to add a little kick.

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I was nicely surprised by the recipe, the only spices it has are salt and pepper!  It has a small ingredient list, which is what I like best.  Recipes with too many ingredients get a little intimidating, I am bound to make a mistake somewhere.  Side note – TJ’s is the best place to buy olive oil.  That humongous 33 oz. bottle is about $6-$7, which at my local grocery store would cost about $30.  Such a deal!

I pre-chopped everything so I wouldn’t have to frantically chop while things were burning on the stove.

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I started cooking the barley in the small pot, while browning the sausages.  For some reason, the barley kept boiling over with the lid on, so I kept having the take the lid on and off (even with the heat on low), so instead of cooking in 10-12 minutes, it took about 30.  Surprisingly, it still turned out okay.

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Once the sausages were browned, I chopped them up into little cubes.  I chopped both the kale and sausage into smaller pieces than the photo on the website, because I don’t generally enjoy huge pieces in my soup.  I sauteed the onions and garlic then added the sausage, tomatoes, and broth, and cooked those for a little while.

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After that, I added in the kale and barley and cooked it up for another 5ish minutes until the kale softened.

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I followed the recipe to the T (minus the type of sausage), and it turned out to be simple, easy, and it has a lot of flavor!  I really like this soup recipe and will be making it again!

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auntie squared

I am an Auntie once again!  Annie gave birth to another beautiful baby girl on February 28th.  Ella Jean came into the world with a full head of hair (just like her sister), her Grandmother’s middle name, and a not-so-sure-about-you-yet older sister.  I drove down I-35 for 7 hours to see her lovely face this weekend.  My Mom had already been there for a week, giving Annie a helping hand while Nate went back to work.  It was nice to get to spend my birthday weekend with the fam!

I got to see Annie and Nate’s new lovely house in the burbs, it’s a huge 1980s house that has beautiful details.  They are updating the entire thing over time, you can follow along on their progress on her blog thesorensenfamilyblog.blogspot.com.   On Friday we all hung out with Nate’s sister Kristen, and her husband and twin boys.  We watched the Iowa State game on TV and ordered Chinese.  On Saturday the ladies all went to my sister’s “Sip & See”, hosted by her friend Jamie.  A lot of people I mentioned this to had never heard of such an event, but it’s basically a shower after the baby is born, so everyone gets to meet her.  It was held at a really cute restaurant on the Plaza on an absolutely gorgeous day.  It was sunny with a high of 70, and it felt glorious.  I even felt compelled to snap a picture of everyone the patio basking in the sun… ahhh I miss patio weather.

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Here I am with the guest of honor:

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And Mama:

kc trip 7After the shower, we said goodbye to my mom and Nate’s sister, and enjoyed the rest of the nice day.  We took a walk around their adorable neighborhood, and Addy and I played in some dirt in the backyard. 🙂

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After the long day, the littlest was pooped!

kc trip 1I will miss seeing these cuties, but am excited to watch them grow.  Did I mention I love being an Aunt?? 🙂

work it girl

I hate the gym.

If you know me well, you know that I’ve joined a gym about 47 (slight exaggeration) times, and then eventually, quit those gyms.  I find them smelly, germy, boring, and unmotivating.  I also hate comparing myself to those around me, and how fit I am (or not), in comparison.  It can’t be helped.

When I landed in my late 20s, I noticed that my body was changing.  I no longer had great abs without ever doing a crunch, and my twiggy legs started to look soft and weak.  I may be thin, but upon closer inspection, I’m definitely not fit.  This year I have decided to try and change that.

First off, I decided to give yoga a try.  After reading article after article about its health benefits, and realizing my own flexibility is laughable, I knew this was something I wanted to look into.  I was hesitant at first because I’ve heard many people talk about how the “any level” classes are filled with people standing on their heads. But, after some research, I found an “Absolute Beginners” 4-class course at the Yoga Center of Minneapolis.   I immediately felt comfortable in my first class, which consisted of me, one other young person, and 5 people over 50 (ha!).  Through our 4 classes, the instructor is going through the different types of yoga, and we are doing moves from each type.  I am realizing that some types of yoga are great for a workout, while others are great for relaxation/meditation.  I will feel much more comfortable finding a class that works for me after this course!

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Me someday??  😉  (source)

I have also vowed to do more strength training at home, specifically for core and legs.  I searched around Pinterest for some specific workouts since I can’t seem to remember the good moves.  I found lots of 30-day challenges I want to try, and also stumbled upon this leg workout that Carrie Underwood does.  That girl has killer gams, and I hope to have her muscle definition someday.

carrie underwoodLast night I was flipping around and somehow landed on the CrossFit Games.  These athletes are INSANE.  The winner of the games is crowned “fittest on earth”, and boy is that the truth!  I got motivated by their crazy strength so I tried Carrie’s leg workout last night, and whoa, I’m sore today!  I always say it “hurts so good” to be sore from working out, because you know it’s doing your body good!

crossfit girlUm, definitely NOT me someday, but you go girl!  lol  (source)

Here’s to not quitting this time. 🙂

oscar buzz

I made Z suffer through watching the entire Oscars last night (muahahah!).  I enjoyed Ellen hosting, and hearing some great speeches.  Of course I loved to see the fashion!  I would love to get this dressed up someday, it looks so fun. Here are my top pics for best dressed:

oscars - emmaEmma Watson, you are too cool for words!

 

oscars - giulianaOne of my favorites of the night.  When you have a stick-straight figure like Giuliana, a ball gown just works.  Love her in some poof!

 

oscars - jenniferI am a little over the J-Law hype, but this is simple and flawless.

 

oscars - juliaLoving Julia’s blonde hair and this lovely lace number!

 

oscars - kateGah, Kate is a shiny goddess. Love the cape/shrug thing. (I’m so fashion-y)

 

oscars - kerryTHIS is how you do pregnancy.  Flawless hair and makeup helps too.

 

oscars - lupitaFlowy and feminine looks SO pretty on an athletic figure.  Lupita knows the formula.

 

oscars - naomiLove the cap sleeve, full beading, geo necklace, shoes, everything!

All photos from EOnline.com

I’ll miss award season and beautiful gowns!

 

 

 

 

 

family milestones

This month has marked some exciting milestones for people in my family.  First, my older sister is pregnant with her second child, (my second niece!), and is due ANY DAY!  I cannot wait.  Her first child, my niece Addy, has been SO fun to watch grow.

addy feb 2014I love being an Aunt.  Or, as (native) Minnesotans say “Awwwnt”.  I have loved watching her grow from a tiny peanut, born with a full head of hair, to the bustling toddler she is today…with just as much hair!  I think she has the eyes of my sister, the smile of her daddy, and the skinny, no-toddler-rolls bod of her mama.  She is getting close to 2, and every day she learns new words and phrases.  I can’t wait to see what she has learned when I see her next!  My sister and her husband are great parents.  My sister isn’t an obsessive mom, constantly posting her kid’s every blink to social media, or freaking out and being over-protective.  She is laid-back, cool mom.  Nothing seems to phase her, even if it does, she doesn’t show it.  Those two make parenting seem easy, and I hope to be the same way if I have kiddos of my own.  Baby girl #2, I’m ready for you!!

On the opposite side of my family, my grandmother recently turned 90 years old.  My dad’s mother, grandma Ginny, has been my only remaining grandparent since my early teen years.  She is whom I have gotten to know the most, on a personal level.  I think what I love about her the most is her non-traditional Grandma personality.  She isn’t the gushy, flowery lady who just wants to pinch your cheeks.  She is real, genuine, and most of all, hilarious.  She laughs a lot and makes us all laugh a lot, sometimes when she isn’t even trying.  She swears, tells great stories, and is strong and independent.  I was mega-bummed I couldn’t make it to her 90th birthday party because of our snow storm, so I will have to make time to visit her small Iowa town as soon as I can.   Here is a pic of us at my sister’s wedding back in 2008.

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Happy 90th Birthday Grandma!  And Happy almost day of birth to special peanut, niece #2!

Hooray for family.  Blessed.