Friday, March 25, 2011

Maybe No Zoo Today?

We were very excited when we woke up last Sunday morning and saw the sun peek out of the clouds. As we got ready for the day and ate our breakfast, that sun seemed to retreat back into the clouds. We had a quick conversation over our cheerios:
"Do you want to go to the zoo today?" Ryan inquired.
"Of course I do!" I exclaimed
The zoo it was, easy as that! We strapped on our tennis shoes, and we grabbed the backpack and filled it with the camera, some goodies and our keys and we were off.

As we jumped into the Elantra and pulled out of the drive, the sunny day turned cloudy and misty. "Oh well, a little mist never hurt anyone, I have ponchos in the trunk." (yes- i have ponchos in my car just in case of these situations.) We were still pretty upbeat and figured the zoo would be less crowded this way.

As we drove farther east, the rain continued to get heavier and heavier. "Maybe the zoo's not such a great idea for today." Ryan said. And I agreed. As excited as we were about the zoo- we're used to rolling with the punches, and decided to walk around downtown St. Paul instead.

There weren't lions and tigers, elephants or giraffes in downtown St. Paul, but we did manage to find a flock of pigeons. :)

Ryan standing next to the pigeons


Pretending to run towards the pigeons


The result of actually running toward the pigeons

Thursday, March 24, 2011

First Minnesota House Guests

We had our first Minnesota house guests last weekend over St. Patrick's Day. Ryan's mom, and sisters, Melissa and Abbie came to stay with us, do some shopping and have some girly time. Ryan was out of town on Thursday when the ladies arrived, so it was just us girls Thursday night and most of Friday.

We definitely shopped until we dropped! We went to the the Eden Prairie Mall Thursday night, Galleria on France St. on Friday, and of course the Mall of America as well. We all came out with some good stuff! When the ladies took off on Saturday, Ryan's Aunt Kim and Uncle Greg were in town with their sons, Colton and Josh for a hockey game. It was great to see them again and hang out, eat, and play games together!

Denise, Abbie and Melissa and their St. Patrick's Day socks!

The girls at the Mall of America

Out to eat at Wildfire

Cousin, Josh, Uncle Greg and Aunt Kim

Colie and Ryan

Friday, March 18, 2011

A Blast from the Past

As I've been organizing things here at our new place, I've come across some very interesting things. Among them, my letter from UNL telling me that I had met all of the requirements for graduation, random notes/cards from when Ryan and I dated, and a lot of un-marked CDs.

Naturally, with so much free time on my hands- I have cataloged and organized every single thing in our house. Trust me, I'm not kidding here. If you asked me where my 2008 W-2 was right now, I would be able to go to the exact drawer and file and find it for you. Its almost a bit anal- but that's a whole other post.

On one of these un-marked CDs I found a bunch of pictures from my childhood. I'm guessing I scanned these images in and made the CD when I was planning our wedding. So after lots of giggles and memories- here are a few that I'd like to share with you!

I think this might've been my first birthday, on a picnic with my sister Brie and brother Ty.
I'm guessing my love of the color yellow may have stemmed from that care bear.


Nothing's cuter than a toddler with a messy face right?


Alf cake- enough said!

With my cousins Nikki left and Kelli right.
I'm guessing Kelli didn't want to take that picture.

I was always into something.

Looks like Tyson lent me some pajamas.

A few cousins at my grandparent's wedding anniversary at New World Inn.

At the New World Inn for Easter brunch with grandpa and grandma. Jared looks thrilled.

Teaching dance at the studio.

Senior year tap picture. This is just ridiculous-ness now that I look at it. How much time did I spend in the sun? SPF!!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Hoping you and yours have something fun and green planned for today!

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Random Snow Storm



We've come to expect the unexpected around here. Like I've mentioned in previous posts, we're adjusting to the surroundings that Minnesota has to offer. That being said, it was this past Friday that I felt like I was in some sort of romantic comedy. We had just walked out of the movie theater on our date night when a freak snow storm ensued.

The flakes were big, white and fluffy- pretty and sparkly. I pulled up my furry hood and Ryan and I looked toward the skyline, all lit up for the night. I fully expected him to grab me around the waist and dip me on the sidewalk, while a crowd of on-lookers clapped and cheered as we kissed. That didn't happen? Oh, shucks. Must've been my imagination. ;)


Here's a little video of what it was like in person. It was magical.

video

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Key Lime Pie and Beer Bread



Why these 2 things may not go together, I made them both last week!

Key Lime pie is one of Ryan's favorites- so I thought I'd surprise him one night and make his favorite dessert. The first time I tried to make key lime pie, I didn't exactly read the directions correctly. I tried finding my picture of it, because you have to see it to believe it- but I'm sure I can describe it for you as well. When the recipe calls for egg WHITES, don't throw the whole egg in. This makes for a wonderful cold scrambled egg lime nasty pie. So-don't do it.

This time, I was smart enough to just put the egg WHITES in the recipe, and I even made some whipped cream instead of using store bought. If you want the recipe let me know! I forgot to tell you that this pie is meant to be frozen, so if you're looking for a quick dessert for guests, this would be perfect!

Also on the baking agenda was a beer bread. I found the recipe in a newspaper a few weeks ago and it looked like something I could handle, and you probably have all of the ingredients on hand anyway!

Here are the pictures of my masterpieces...haha, maybe masterpieces is a stretch?




Monday, March 14, 2011

Where's Nebraska?

NEWSFLASH: Minnesota STILL has snow on the ground. Wait....that's not new? There's been snow on the ground for the last 5 months? Oh, OK, never mind then. : )

One of the comments we heard most when we decided to make the move to Minnesota was, "Oh my gosh, its going to be FREEZING up there." Honestly, its not that bad. When I talk to people here and tell them I just moved from Nebraska, most of them realize that its not much of a change. Both states are in the Midwest and have all 4 seasons. They both get accumulated snowfall and have severe weather in the summer. However, if you don't know where Nebraska is, its hard to compare.

Case in point, I decided to get my haircut last week. It was time and my color needed some repair. Quick side note- I went full on blond this time and am still getting used to it- will post pictures soon. Anyway, as I was talking to the stylist she asked about where I lived. After telling her that we had previously moved, she inquired, "Where from?" And this is exactly how our conversation went.

me: "My husband and I just moved from Omaha, Nebraska a few weeks ago."
stylist: "Nebraska? Where's that state?"
me: (after a quick eye roll- in my head of course), I said "Its just southwest of Minnesota, south of South Dakota."
stylist: "oh OK, so that's close to New Mexico?"
me: (I refrained from giving her a US Geography lesson right then and there and acted polite) "No, not that far southwest, closer to the Midwest."

She proceeded to ask me questions about this new land she just heard of, Nebraska. And I did all I could not to ask her who her 4th grade teacher was? I would really like to go to talk him/her about this and let them know maybe they should review US Geography a little more before moving on to the next lesson.

I realize most Americans know where each of the 50 states are located, so I cut her some slack. But if I hear "Where's Nebraska?" from a fellow Midwesterner, I'm going to hand them one of my pre-printed US Maps from my purse. (Which I am seriously considering carrying around with me). I must admit, that once you get up into the Northeast part of the country, there are tiny bits of states that seem to all run together- but my 4th grade teacher Mrs. Skiles taught me that Vermont looks like an ice cream cone and New Hampshire is its puzzle piece. Amazing that those things stick with you, huh?

To end this rambling- Ryan and I are taking advantage of any time outside. This weekend it was about 20 degrees when we decided to take a walk around Staring Lake- close to our house. There's something about a winter walk that you don't see in the summer/spring/fall; Little puppy paws frozen into the ice, senior citizen couples bundled up in hats and coats holding hands and watching a frozen river flow.

Even though its cold, we've enjoyed every moment.

Check out these handy contraptions. They're called YakTraks and they are adjustable shoe treads. They have been great during our winter runs on ice and snow.


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Date Night in Minneapolis



Ryan has been pretty busy with work lately, and I've been busy decorating/cleaning the house, and doing some random chores and baking. So last Friday, we decided to head out for a date night- just the 2 of us.

We had seen a few hot spots in Minneapolis mentioned on The Travel Channel's "Man Vs. Food," and decided we had to see them for ourselves. So, our first stop was the 5-8 Club for a Juicy Lucy Burger. Basically, its the biggest and baddest cheeseburger you've ever had! In the middle of two generous heaps of ground beef is a dollop of cheese, so when you bite into this glorious creation- you get some warm cheese with your beef. I must admit it sounds kind of gross when I actually type it out. But it is DELICIOUS!

Anyway- we had a great time at the 5-8 Club. They don't take reservations, so we stood in the entryway for about 15 minutes before getting a seat. If you decide to go, make sure and head out early. We arrived around 5:30 and by the time we left at 6:45 the line was out the door! It sure was worth it!!! Apparently, there is another Juicy Lucy burger rival at another famous burger stop in Minneapolis that we'll have to try out as well.

After our stomachs were stuffed, we headed downtown for a drink or 2. Walking around downtown Minneapolis is very interesting, because it definitely has that big city feel even when its only 20 some degrees outside. As long as you are bundled up and have your mittens on, everything is accessible in Minnesota!

We stopped for a drink on the second floor of Brit's Pub- a cute British restaurant/bar that has a pretty chill vibe. It reminded me that only a few years go, Ryan, Sara, Melissa and I had frequented this exact same bar. Only at that time, it was summer and we sat outside on the sidewalk and sipped on Stella's. I'm sure we'll reprise that once June/July comes along.

Here are a few pictures from our evening. Of course, I was too enthralled with my Juicy Lucy burger to actually take a picture- so here are a few links from the Travel Channel episode. Enjoy!

Here is Ryan's Up Close shot of me and the Menu- See The Juicy Lucy?!

Photo Opportunity outside the 5-8 Club

Brits

Heading home after a wonderful date night!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

GO WOLVES!

I experienced my first NBA game this past week. Ryan suggested that we start to take advantage of the events happening in our new city and purchased 2 tickets for the Timberwolves vs. Lakers game. I wasn't exactly sure what to expect, this being my first pro basketball game and all....but it was really fun! Since we didn't get tickets until the last moment, our original seats were up above.

They were still great, and we got to see all of the action. Our friends Lauren and Beau were at the game as well and they had received tickets from a friend that had a connection with sports tickets. They were a bit closer to the action, so after 1/2 time we moved down to sit with them.

It was SO neat to see the players up close and watch the game from the seats in the stadium instead of our couch at home. Over all, it was a GREAT time, and I have a feeling we'll be frequenting many more sporting events in the future.


Me and my new friends

Having a GREAT time!!

The dancers at the beginning of the game.

Lauren, Beau, Ryan and Me

Friday, March 11, 2011

He has a Plan


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Its only been a few weeks since we've moved to the Twin Cities, and I have had the lovely opportunity to put our house together during the time of my unemployment. While its no surprise that I would love to find a job as soon as possible and to contribute my skills to a fantastic employer, I wouldn't say I have been hating this time period either.

God works in very interesting ways, and I trust that he has a plan for me and for our family. So, I continue to pray that our house in Omaha will sell and that I will find an awesome career that I will love and be challenged at daily.

Maybe its just the female genes that take advantage of times like these to make the house a home. I totally sound like a 50's homemaker here- but stay with me. I'm going to be honest and say that I also feel quite guilty being able to stay at home during this time. It would probably be a different situation if I had a few kiddos to take care of and manage a house. That, I ASSURE you is a FULL TIME job, and I have both my mother and my mother-in-law to attest to that. But, its just me, little ol' me.

My daily schedule isn't jam packed with deadlines and meetings. I wake up leisurely and see Ryan off to work after making his lunch. I work out after that, going for a run or doing yoga. Then, I usually sit down with my breakfast and watch the morning shows, then check my email and head up to take a shower and get ready for the day. Each day is different, but most of them include a few tasks or "to do"s at the house. Unpack office boxes, make sure smoke alarms are working, bay pills, send birthday present, hang pictures, call and schedule dentist appointments, etc. etc. After a few to dos, I try my best to get out of the house for a while. Usually its a trip to the Post Office, or a walk around Target or Pier 1. I'm getting used to my surroundings and learning where everything is in Eden Prairie.

After my time out of the house, I head home- get a few more things done and start dinner before Ryan arrives. I have enjoyed my 8+ hours of sleep each night and my daily exercise. Because I'm able to take time to make my meals, they have been healthier and more thought out. We haven't eaten fast food in weeks and all of the laundry is finished before Ryan needs that dress shirt again. To be honest- it's nice. It's really nice. And I have my wonderful husband to thank that I have the opportunity to be able to take my time and find a career that I will really love. However, that guilt always seems to slip in a little, when Ryan comes home from work exhausted from a grueling work day, his blackberry still vibrating with emails and texts.

But I guess its all part of life. After 4.5 years of go go go classes/meetings/events in college, I graduated in December, and after the 1st of the year I started my first real world job. I have never had a "break" like this. And I know that in a few weeks, this may all change and I'll have a regular real world schedule just like I did before. So, I'm doing my best to enjoy this time and use it fully.

And just because no post is complete without some sort of picture of ours- here is a snowdrift just down the street from us. Minnesota has had one of the snowiest winters on record this year! Lucky for MN I LOVE snow!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Linguine With Shrimp Scampi

Among the meal plans for last week was a dish called Linguine with Shrimp Scampi. This lovely meal comes from the Ina Garten Barefoot Contessa Family Style cookbook, a present given to me from my good friend Stephanie Haddix for our wedding. I have to be honest when I mention this cookbook. I was very very intimidated by the recipes when I first flipped through the pages of Brioche Croutons, Tuna Tartare, and Pumpkin Banana Mousse Tart.

As a 23 year old newlywed, I had no idea how to zest a lemon or peel and de-vein shrimp. So....Ina Garten and her cookbook sat on the shelf for a few years. Its amazing that 2 more years of marriage and cooking experience made me flip through those pages again and think, "What was I afraid of?" Now, I have most of the staples the recipes call for and I understand (or at least think I do) how to use most of the kitchen utensils I own. Don't ask Ryan how I peel a potato though- that's another story. : )

As I boiled a pot of salted water, I added in some vegetable oil to make sure the pasta didn't stick together, (another cooking trick I've learned) and I continued with the recipe. In case you'd like to try here it is!

Linguine with Shrimp Scampi (serves 6)
- I made half of this recipe for just the two of us

What you Need:
Vegetable Oil
Kosher Salt
1 1/2 lbs. of linguine
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
5 tablespoons good olive oil
3 tablespoons minced garlic (9 cloves)- I buy the pre-made chopped stuff, SO much easier!
2 pounds large shrimp (about 32 shrimp), peeled and de-veined
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Grated zest of a lemon
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (4 lemons)
1/2 lemon, thinly sliced in half-rounds
1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes

Drizzle some oil in a large pot of boiling salted water, add 1 tablespoon of salt and the linguine, and cook for 7-10 minutes, or according to the directions on the package.

Meanwhile, in another large (12 inch), heavy-bottomed pan, melt the butter and olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic. Saute for 1 minute. Be careful, the garlic burns easily! Add the shrimp, 1 tablespoon of salt, and the pepper and saute until the shrimp have just turned pink, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Remove from the heat, add the parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice, lemon slices, and red pepper flakes. Toss to combine.

When the pasta is done, drain the cooked linguine and then put it back in the pot. Immediately add the shrimp and sauce, toss well, and serve!

Enjoy- I know we did!!!
and here is how ours turned out! Not bad if I do say so myself.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Meal Planning

Most of of you know that since we've moved to Minnesota, I have been hunting for new career opportunities here in the Twin Cities. I am happy to report that I have gone on a few interviews and things are looking up (so keep those fingers crossed). However, I wanted to show/tell you about what I've been doing to keep myself busy. After all, its Minnesota-in the middle of the snowiest month all year. I don't have many outdoors options, so I keep myself busy with a lot of little projects around the house.

The first project is something that I've been doing since Ryan and I were married. Meal Planning. Sometimes, the meal plans get tossed around when we don't feel like partaking in something on the schedule, but mostly we stick to it. This has definitely helped our food budget, and the amount of time it takes to decide what we're having for dinner.

Its no surprise to tell you that Ryan and I are frugal. Especially when it comes to something we can use up with limited time. We did our best to eat and use things in our Omaha pantry before we moved, but there were still a lot of staples that we didn't want to toss or give away. We knew that we'd have a big first grocery bill when we got here- so we packed up what we thought we would use and it now resides here...in our new pantry!


Thankfully, I was able to start a meal plan with mostly the things we had in our pantry! Take a peek....


and yes, I also write some very important "to do"s on the list as well. Making chocolate chip cookies was quite high on that to do list. :)