Friday, May 27, 2016

Five on Friday

We made it to Friday everyone! Plus it's a long weekend - which makes it even better.

ONE



It's important to remember the true meaning for Memorial Day, and to take the time this weekend to appreciate our nation's heroes who have fought and are still fighting. To be thankful for the ones who have come home, and to honor the ones who have fallen. Both of my grandfathers have served, along with my own father, and my uncle who lost his life fighting for our country.


TWO




I've been meaning to share the best BB cream in the world (at least to me :) )! One that really blends well and makes your skin look absolutely flawless. L'Oreal brand! I've been using this for the past three years and have tried others, but none can compete. It's also very inexpensive and can be found at target, walmart, etc. I love cheap makeup finds like this!


THREE




This. looks. fabulous. Red, white, and blue sangria! Perfect to enjoy this weekend while BBQing or enjoying some lake time. I might have to make a batch on Sunday.. this or some other festive drink!


FOUR

Lately I've found a new love for H&M. I can't believe I've never shopped here before! You can get all your basic clothing necessities for dirt cheap! I made a trip over to the mall on Wednesday evening in search for some more conservative tank tops to wear at work. It can get hot in my office, but I don't think spaghetti straps are in our dress codes.. and that's majority of my tank tops!

I ended up finding two rompers (each for $7 - not work related, but I couldn't pass up on that price!), two thicker blouses (each for $5), and a lightweight white sweater to pair over them! I spent a grand total of $40 for five items - WHAT A STEAL!


FIVE



All I can say is TGIF! This week has seemed to drag on, and I think it's because of my extreme anticipation for the weekend! Not sure what's on the agenda for tonight, but tomorrow Andy and I are heading up to my parents' house to pick them up and go to my Aunt's. She throws a Memorial Day party every year, complete with a fantastic spread of food. Also in town is a parade, carnival, and beer garden. We are so excited!

Unfortunately it's supposed to rain alllll day tomorrow, but they're saying sunshine on Sunday and Monday so we're hoping to get some beach time in there!



Have a great weekend everyone!





Thursday, May 26, 2016

Beer Tasting Party Inspiration

I love to entertain.

I love finding small reasons to celebrate and get people together. There's nothing I find more fun than planning a party! While some people hate the pressure and stress that come along with planning and figuring out details, I wholeheartedly enjoy it. Sometimes I wonder why I didn't go into party planning.. but then I remember that if I did it for a job, I might not like doing it for leisure!

Andy and I love hosting too. We've thrown a superbowl party, a pre-Zombie Pub Crawl (SO FUN!) party, and bonfire parties. I've also thrown an 80's party, a handful of Christmas parties, and am currently planning a 90th birthday party for my grandmother.

So when it comes to the weather warming up, I knew a summer party was an absolute must. While I have a pool and BBQ party in the works for July, I really wanted something to keep me busy for June. Enter idea of Beer Tasting Party.




It's genius, and here is how it goes: everyone brings a six pack of their favorite brew to the party (preferably not a common brand). Once they are all organized and on ice, one bottle from each pack is opened and people can go around and sample various beers by pouring a small amount into their cups. If they find one they like, they can go right ahead and grab a full bottle. What a fun way to try new kinds of beer, without committing to buying a whole pack! For those who aren't frequent beer drinkers (like this girl here), this is a great way to see what you do and don't like.





Now this party could be as simple or as extravagant as you'd like, and it really leaves a lot of room for customization. If you really want to knock this party out of the park, you could have individual cards that people can describe each beer on, or you could get the supplies for everyone to create their own beer flight.





I plan to make a big batch of this delicious drink recipe called Strip 'n Go Naked (basically a outstanding cocktail recipe that involves beer, pink lemonade, and vodka) for everyone to sip on. Appetizers can include simple snacks like popcorn, peanuts, pretzels, and other treats that go well with beer. Or you could go the meal route and make sliders or grill some brats and burgers. We plan to do some homemade soft pretzels and cheese, peanuts, various chips and pub mixes, and a popcorn bar.




Oh and these for something sweet... :)



We plan to have fun games, such as a beer pong tournament and beer darts. A bonfire will be included to for people to chat around.


This would bring about some healthy competition ;)

What I like about this party is that it's easily transformable to fit any celebration. Birthdays, engagement parties, bachelor parties, anniversaries.. the list goes on and on! 


Monday, May 23, 2016

Weekend Recap

MAN. What a weekend. I found myself dozing on the couch at 8:30 last night. I was on the go pretty much non-stop since Friday after work and as soon as I got the chance to sit down, I was out!

Friday afternoon (after an impromptu jam sesh in the car in celebration of the weekend) Andy and I met with his sister and her husband for drinks as they were in town for a wedding. After having a drink at Andy's, we all walked over the the local hot spot - Betty Danger's - for some drinks on their patio. We had a great time just catching up and enjoying their company as we don't get to see them as often as we'd like!


Notice anything cool about our favorite bar?? (Hint: the massive ferris wheel, duh! It sure gives you a great view of the Minneapolis skyline!)



We turned in early on Friday night after grabbing some bar food from down the road. Saturday we were both up at 6AM so Andy could get to work (boo) and I could get ready to go to the zoo (yay!).

My mom, cousin, god-daughter, and her friend came down to Minneapolis for the day so we could visit the Minnesota Zoo. The weather was absolutely gorgeous, and one smart girl (me) forgot to put on sunscreen! At least I have a decent tan started now.. :)

They had just about every animal you could imagine there, but the grizzly bears and snow monkeys were probably the hit of the day!


Thanks mom for the cute pic! :)



Happy girls with their ice cream! 




 Selfie game strong :)


After they dropped me off back at home, I had to rush to get ready to attend a paint and sip night with some of my sorority sisters! Luckily the paint studio is only 5 minutes from my apartment, so I made it just in time!

Now if you've never attended one of those "Paint and Wine" nights - you should definitely look into it! We had a great time, and left with some awesome pictures! The artist you are following goes relatively slow and you don't have to have any experience/artistic skills at all. Only downside is that I tend to be a perfectionist and probably could have sat there and worked on my painting all night.

Oh, and their Pineapple Cider was spot on!


Us artists with our Minneapolis Stone Arch Bridge painting :)




We finished the night back home with a lovely assortment of cheeses, salami, grapes, crackers, an out-of-this-world lemon moscato, and lots and lots of girl talk :) 


Sunday afternoon after running some errands, I headed out to Lake Minnetonka to a restaurant that sits on the edge of the water, to enjoy a little sunday-funday with my two best friends from home. 


They have been my best friends for years and I couldn't picture life without them. They're just the ones I click with - ya know? :)

After our happy hour, it was back to Minneapolis for me to meet up with Andy for a picnic dinner at our favorite park. We grilled brats on the charcoal grills, and paired it with some chips & dip and an assortment of fruit from Trader Joe's (the best place to get cheap and delicious, organic fruit). What a perfect way to end a great weekend!



I sure do love this goofball :)


Tonight on the agenda includes a much needed workout, BLT's, and catching up on our shows. What a perfect Monday night.


Hope you all enjoyed your weekend!!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Five on Friday

Happy Friday! It's been a great week this week filled with good news, good weather, good workouts, and good food! This summer weather in Minnesota instantly puts me in a happy mood, and I'm counting down the hours until 4pm when I can say BYE to my desk at work and HELLO to the weekend plus a glass (or two) of wine to kick it off.


ONE



Guys, my first herb garden is officially in business! I am going to attempt to keep this basil, peppermint, cilantro, and rosemary alive for as long as I can. Any and all suggestions on how to incorporate them into some good meals are welcome!


TWO

I have recently started on one of my biggest projects yet! Last weekend, my grandma and I found a bin of all the letters my grandfather and her exchanged from 1943-1946 while he was away fighting in World War II. So I got the idea to type all of these letters out (there's about 400+) and put together a compilation in chronological order for my mom and aunts. It's a lot of typing, but man - is it fun to read their old letters. Life was so different and simple back then. 


THREE




I know I've mentioned Facebook's Tasty videos before, but every time I try a new one I fall more and more in love with these little videos. Wednesday night I was cravingg some wings big time. Well I found a video on how to make parm-garlic ones. You guys. These are absolutely worth a try. So easy, and you probably already have most of the ingredients! I paired mine with a lemon-basil pasta salad and I think I did pretty darn good considering I typically leave cooking meat up to Andy!


FOUR


Guilty of taking gym selfies...oops :) hey, I was just feelin' myself that day!


I've completed 8 weeks of the Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide - only 4 weeks left! There are many days where I just want to take the exit to go straight home after work and veg on the couch instead, but find that I feel like a new woman when I leave LA Fitness after I get my sweat on. It's challenging and exhausting, but I have seen a tremendous difference in these past few weeks. 


FIVE


Okay, okay... this wasn't actually my bloody mary but my friend just made his look so delicious that I had to snap a pic. For the locals... Psycho Suzie's has a delicious Bloody Mary bar for brunch on the weekends. How great of an idea is that?! Those toppings though... to die for


\

CHEERS TO THE FREAKIN' WEEKEND!


Have a good one everyone! I have plans to enjoy a brewery tonight with Andy, his sister, and her husband, explore the Minnesota Zoo with my mom and cousins tomorrow afternoon, attend a paint-night and wine party with some sorority sisters tomorrow night, and meet my two best friends for a happy hour on Sunday! WOW!





Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Blueberry Lemon Yogurt Loaf

I love trying new baking recipes. I'll admit, I am definitely a better baker than a cook. I'm thinking it has something to do with my relentless sweet tooth :) This blueberry-lemon yogurt loaf (pound cake? bread? - it's a mix of the two) really hits the spot for these sweet cravings. Plus, it's lemon, and lemon screams SUMMER!

Also, there's blueberries and that makes it healthy, right? right?!? ;)

I came across this recipe from another blog that got it from another blog.. I guess that's how all the best recipes are found! Tried and true, this is an easy, delicious way to welcome summer into your home!



Ingredients 
For the loaf:
1 1/2 cups + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
2 teaspoons baking poweder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt (greek yogurt WILL not work)
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (about 2 lemons)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen, thawed and rinsed
For the lemon syrup:
1 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
2 or 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease bottom and sides of one 9 x 5-inch loaf pan, dust with flour tapping out excess
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the yogurt, sugar, eggs, lemon zest, vanilla, and oil.
Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix the blueberries with the remaining tablespoon of flour, and fold them very gently into the batter.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake 50 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. Let cool in the pans for 10 minutes before removing loaf to wire rack on top of a baking sheet.
While the loaf is cooling, make the lemon syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir together the lemon juice and sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved. Once dissolves, continue to cook for 3 more minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside. 
Use a toothpick to poke holes in the tops and sides of the warm loaf. Brush the top and sides of the loaf with the lemon syrup. Let the syrup soak into the cake and brush again. Let cool completely.
To make lemon glaze, in a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners' sugar and 2/3 tablespoons of the lemon juice. The mixture should be thick but pourable. Add up to another tablespoon of lemon juice if the mixture is too stiff. Pour the lemon glaze over the top of each loaf and let it drip down the sides. Let the lemon glaze harden, about 15 minutes, before service.


Delicious for breakfast with a cup of coffee, or for dessert with a glass of milk :)

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Traveling Bucket List



Two confessions today..

One: I am big on making lists. Grocery lists, to-do lists, hopes and dreams lists.. this list could even go on and on

Two: Lately I've been experiencing the most intense, gnawing travel bug. I want to go new places and experience new things

I'm guessing you can think where this leads to...

Andy and I try to travel as often as our budgets and time let us. Some of our recent trips have included Florida, Chicago, and the North Shore.

My mind is thinking big though - and Andy can sense it. So, he recently brought home a large jar for us, with the idea that this would be our "vacation fund jar" - a designated place where we would keep our money that we put aside from each paycheck.

Last night after dinner (I make some fiiiiiiine fajitas by the way), we sat down and researched our own little "Bucket List" of places we want to see. I've been sitting here all day looking at this list, and figured I would share some dream destinations of mine. Maybe you'll find some ideas too! Everyone should have a travel bucket list :)



Oktoberfest in Germany
Beer, beer, and more beer! Also culture and the FOOD, obviously




Croatia




Cliffs of Moher in Ireland
It would also be awesome to experience St. Patrick's Day there



Peru
Mainly to see Machu Picchu and complete the hike in order to get there



Lake Havasu Falls, AZ
Also see the Grand Canyon - which I have never seen. Does that make me a bad American? :(




Oregon Coast
Picture is self explanatory




Sequoia National Park
THOSE TREES!



Switzerland
I don't ski but the sights here (and the chocolate) would be incredible to experience




Galapagos Islands
Plus - there's penguins. Done.



Swing at the End of the World - Ecuador 
Cue my fear of heights - eek!


So there's a small glimpse into our Bucket List. Other destinations include Hawaii, Spain, the Tulip Fields in Washington, Australia & Fiji, and Washington D.C.

What's on your "Travel Bucket List"? 

Friday, May 13, 2016

Five on Friday!




Happy Friday everyone! Time for another round of Five on Friday. Does anyone else ever get that awful "Friday" song stuck in their head on this day of the week? The one by that Rebecca Black girl where she's like 12 and dancing in a convertible getting ready to go out on the town or something? If it wasn't stuck in your head I bet it is now... :) sorry, sorry.


ONE
So excited to enjoy a weekend around Minneapolis - especially one that Andy has off of work! Tomorrow we have plans to attend an event at a local brewery called Pints & Pups, and I think you can probably figure out what that will entail! Beer from various breweries and puppies from various shelters and rescue organizations around the city. That is just a combination from heaven! Hoping to get lots of puppy snuggles and check out a few different breeds so when Andy and I decide to get our dog, we'll know what kind we want.




TWO
One of my best friends in the whole entire world (my big brother) is moving to Michigan today for some medical related work. He'll only be out there for three months but that seems like an eternity to me when he's been 30 minutes away for the past 5 years. Last night we were able to have a nice family dinner complete with a delicious raspberry white chocolate cake. I also had the chance to give him a gift that I came across online. One that I thought suited him perfectly..



THREE
Which brings me to number three! The gift I bought was a bracelet from DivinityLA. These bracelets (for men and women) each have their own special meanings, and come with a little card that explains the symbolization behind the design. I love little gifts like this that carry a heartwarming message, and thought it was the perfect gift for him that he can wear everyday when working with his patients. Above is the one I picked out for him, and you can check out all of their others here ! They also donate some of the money towards good causes, depending on the bracelet you choose to get.




FOUR
Okay, but how handsome is this pup? I took this picture at my parents' house in front of their beautiful flowering tree. I feel like this resembles a school picture - haha! He sat so well for me! :)


FIVE
So Groupon is probably my favorite thing in the world. I use it all the time! I found it especially nice for discounts at salons for various services, and have used it for highlights, haircuts, blow outs, spray tans, massages, etc. You can find awesome deals, and try out a new salon at the same time! They also tend to throw in extras, like goodie bags with product samples. I haven't had a bad experience yet! Recently I also bought discount concert tickets on the site, and saved $40!

I have been looking at their Getaway deals, and am blown away by how cheap they are! Has anyone else ever bought a vacation off of Groupon? I'm finding deals for airfare, hotel, and rental car for a trip to Europe for around $600-1000!! Crazy.. most of the time, a round trip flight alone to Europe will cost you about $1400.. Andy and I are looking to go somewhere new in March.. :)


That wraps it up! Have a good weekend everyone!




Thursday, May 12, 2016

ABC's of Meee!

One of my favorite posts to read on other blogs are the glimpses into real life. I've come across so many blogs that feature perfectly posed pictures and lives that seem just too unreal and exciting. While many people love these blogs (and don't get me wrong - they are fun to read!), these blogs are just not for me. I like hearing about real life experiences, the ups and downs that come with daily life, the fears, hopes, and dreams of women who have been through things they couldn't imagine would happen. I love stories that give me a new perspective on something or where I can learn about someone else.

So I thought'd I'd follow the crowd and do a little ABC's of me post so you can get your own little glimpse into my life!

These also remind me a little of those "survey" things people would do on myspace and post onto the bulletin! Does anyone else remember those?!?


A- Age: 23
B- Birthday: January 7th
C- Color: Shades of blue :) particularly turquoise (although some would say that's a shade of green?)
D- Drink: Strawberry Lemonade, or any flavored lemonade!
E - Eyes: Greenish-blue
F- Flashback: Gosh I have too many.. I would have to say all Greek social events in college. Some of the best times in my whole life.



OR when I studied in Italy for the summer!



G- Gent: My handsome boyfriend, Andy :)
H- Hobby: Hmm organizing parties/social events, baking, painting, blogging
I- Indulgence: Anything sweet - brownies, cupcakes, donuts, you name it! Anything salted caramel is my jam.

...Insert Heavy Breathing... 

J- Job: I have a job working for the government with children from shelters and child protection cases
K- Kiddos: Not on the radar anytime soon, but someday for sure!
L- Love: My family and friends first, then comes fall, scarves, summer nights, wine, traveling...
M- Music: Ugh why is this the toughest question in the world?! I listen to whatever is on the radio, but get sick of it real quick! I do like country, DJ's who mix songs and styles (LOVE that stuff!), Electro house, oldies, electropop..
N- Nickname: Car, Carls, and so many embarrassing nicknames that Andy has come up with. I'll spare you from all of those..
O- One Wish: To travel the world with a husband and children someday!



P- Pets: My parents have a german shepherd - Axel! I consider him half mine but plan on getting my own dog next year maybe!
Q- Quote: Proverbs 3:5 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding"
R- Residence: Minneapolis, baby!

My Pretty City!

S- Siblings: An older brother :)
T- Temperature: When the sun is starting to set in the summer and it's about 70 degrees.. perrrrfect!
U - University: University of Minnesota - Twin Cities! Best decision I've made in all 23 years of my life!



V- Vehicle: A red little Nissan Maxima! Love every inch of it, and how much power it has!
W- Worst Habit: Rushing through projects...and slamming on my poor breaks...
X- X-rays: Only one on my pinky that I tore the ligaments & cartilage in while skiing in 6th grade.. on the bunny hill... did I mention how klutzy I am?
Y- Yuck: Bugs that find their way into my apartment, and Trypophobia images (seriously don't look them up, you will develop a fear!)
Z- Zodiac: Capricorn!