About Me

My photo
I have two kids - a girl and a boy - and live in north-central Minnesota, land of snow and ice. Well, for 9 months of the year, that is. I work full-time for a local government, and on my "free time" I enjoy cooking, baking, hanging out with my kiddos, and RELAXING.

Monday, November 30, 2009

my favorite pictures:part 6

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Rocky Mountain National Park, August 2008. I'm not sure what lake this is. There were so many.

So many hikes. So many miles. So many lakes. So many mountains. Everything blurs together after a while.

But it's still gorgeous.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


Winterizing. Is that a word? Winter-izing. Winterizing.

I think that yes, it is.

I got new sheets last week. They're flannel. They're warm and cozy and wintery.
And very, very pretty. I love them.

Our bedroom needed a makeover. The comforter blended in with the wall, and the sheets aren't colorfast so my pillowcase was all faded from my face lotion. It's a problem with me. I have to always sleep on the same side of my pillowcase so I don't inadvertently ruin the other side. Because that wouldn't look nice.

I know, I have problems. But seriously, this is a perfect example of the kinds of things I think about.

"Before" picture.

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I know, I know. I have stuffed animals on my bed. Go ahead and laugh. Everyone does.

But just let me say this: the bunny Darren got when he was born, so it's practically an heirloom. The stuffed moose my dad bought for me on our trip to Alaska the summer before he died.

I hope you feel bad for laughing.

I'm just kidding. You know I love ya'll, even if you laugh at me and my stuffed animals.

These are the lovely sheets I got for $18 at Target.

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They look even nicer on the bed. I should have washed them first, though, because the flannel is scratchy still. It needs to get nice and worn.

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Our green comforter wasn't going to match so I bought a dark brown comforter cover and pillow shams to match.

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It's kind of a big brown mass now. Target has a Euro pillow that matches the flannel. It's very nice and would break up the brown-ness, but it's $30. More than the sheets. Pillows are ridiculous. Anyway, I'm waiting to see if it goes on sale first. Probably it won't and when I finally decide it's worth $30 I won't be able to find it anywhere. That always happens to me.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

i almost peed my pants

Well, my swimsuit anyway.

Darren and I went to Grand Cayman in March. You can read about the things I learned here.

While doing some research for the trip I read about Stingray City. You can read about that here.

I decided I would love nothing more than to swim with the stingrays. Heaven knows what possessed me to decide that at the time, but fortunately it turned out to be the best part of our trip. I had read online several recommendations for Fat Fish Adventures, which is where we ultimately wound up booking our excursion through. If you ever visit Stingray City, I highly recommend this company. Stingray City is out on a sandbar and it is a major tourist attraction. While everyone else was snorkeling in their groups of 40 (as in about 5 groups of 40) off the back of several large boats, we got to ride jet skis out to the sandbar and were off by ourselves in a tiny group of 7. Plus we had food for the stingrays. And they knew it.

Back to the part where I almost peed my pants.

After about an hour of jet skiing around the ocean (which my husband loved) we headed out to the sandbar. Peter, the owner of Fat Fish and our guide, hops off his jet ski and directs us all in so he can anchor them down. He tells us to jump off. Into a sea of stingrays. No kidding, they are already coming to check us out.

Now, just to give you some perspective, I totally did not think I would be scared at all. I mean, years of this tourist attraction and no one has ever been hurt. Everyone does it. How scary can it possibly be? This coming from someone who isn't afraid of snakes, spiders, heights, roller coasters, small spaces, or the dark. (I'm pretty much only afraid of scary movies. And someone breaking into my house and murdering me.) I thought I would be fine. What's to fear from a stingray?

Big mistake.

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Okay, first off, they're huge. Some of them were probably about five feet wide. You can see in the picture I have my arms out to hold it and it's definitely way bigger than the circle they make.

Secondly, not only are they not afraid, they're friendly. As in, when they know you have food they will swim at you to get it. And they don't veer away suddenly, oh no. They just crash right into you and about knock you over. For real. The above picture? I literally just held the camera underwater in front of my stomach and took the picture about half a second before it crashed into me.

There were about 10-15 that were swimming around us so it was literally impossible not to touch them. Especially since they certainly weren't worried about touching us. If you can't tell, there are four, possibly five, of them in the above picture. Probably because Darren is holding the bag of squid.

After I while we got used to them. We didn't have much of a choice, really.

I did feel one of their stingers. One was swimming by me and I felt the stinger on its tail scrape my leg. It didn't hurt bad but later I noticed there was a definite scratch there. And that when it only brushed by me. I can't imagine getting stung by one. I did, however, get a stingray hickey.

I kid you not.

See how Darren (on the right) is holding the squid up to the stingrays mouth? You probably can't see the mouth, actually. But anyway, the stingray just suctions the squid right in, like a vacuum cleaner.

The stingray missed the squid and got my arm.

You might be able to see it in this picture. It's right below that mole in the center. Also, you can see my PMLE, which you can read about here. This blog is nothing if not educational.

Hey, I try.

After stingray city we went snorkeling by a reef and then stopped at the beach at Rum Point where Peter bought us each a drink.

Such a nice guy, Peter.

The trip was a definite two thumbs up.

Was that cheesy, or was that cheesy?

Sorry about that.

Friday, November 27, 2009

the best thing about December

One year for Christmas my parents bought us three kids an advent calendar. Every day we'd open the little box and discover a wonderful treat.

It was the best Christmas ever.

No, not really. In fact, I don't even remember what Christmas it was, or how old I was at the time. But I do remember that advent calendar.

I decided I want one this year.

I'm all about the countdown to Christmas. I love countdowns. And so what if the chocolate is waxy? I'll still eat it. It's the principle of the thing.

You know the sad part? They are so stinking hard to find. I looked and looked for one last year and I never found one. I decided that this year, if it comes down to it, I'm going to order one off the internet. Target's ad last week had advent calendars on sale but I looked and looked and couldn't find them with the other Christmas candy. It was sad. But I will perservere. I will find a chocolate advent calendar if it kills me. Wish me luck.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

What I'm Thankful For

-Darren. He has changed my life for the better in so many ways I can't even begin to list them.
-My sister and brother. I have friends without a sister, and friends without a brother. I cannot even imagine how different my life would be without either one of them.
-My mom. I'm so like her in so many ways I'm just beginning to realize.
-My family. They're amazing.
-My friends. I love you all.
Have a blessed Thanksgiving.

I Hope You're Watching

I love the Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Well, love is probably too strong a word.

I enjoy 10 minutes of the Thanksgiving Day Parade while I eat my cereal. Then I'm set for the year.

I hope you're watching too.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

one of the most annoying things ever

Vacuum cords. You'd think with all the fancy stuff out there today someone could invent something better than that wrap-around thing on the back. I never use it. My vacuum cord always looks like this.

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And I'm okay with that.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

this week at Cub

A couple good deals I saw this week:

Jiffy Corn Muffin mix sale price $0.49

Jimmy Dean Sausage sale buy one get one free (save $3.99 on two)

Arctic Shores Shrimp 70 count bag sale $7.98 (regular price $17.99!)
I'm not a huge shrimp fan but I do love shrimp corn chowder and shrimp dip, thanks to my mother-in-law. :)

Birdseye Vegetable Mix $0.48, buy four
Use coupon here
Final price $0.23 each

Cub butter regularly $2.59
Use in ad coupon to get it for $0.98

Taylors Falls

Sunday Darren and I went up to Taylors Falls to do a little hiking around the river. It's a cute little tourist town. Hopefully we'll get back up there sometime next summer, maybe even to stay for a weekend.

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It was a gorgeous day so we really lucked out.

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The river was so pretty. I love all the rocks.

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It sort of looks like Darren is about ready to fall down a cliff. Don't worry, he's not.

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Notice my hiking boots. Love them.

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We tried to take a Christmas picture but it got too complicated, what with the camera balancing on a rock and everything. I like this one but we're too far away. Oh well.

Monday, November 23, 2009

new addition

Since we moved down here I've been looking for a dresser for the hallway. We don't have a ton of space and I thought it would be nice to have a nice big dresser that I could just cram full of stuff. Stuff that I never use.

I'm like that.

I've been looking on Craig's list for ages it seems. About a month ago I found a dresser I thought would work. The space is limited so the dresser needed to be pretty small. The one that I found, while not the most attractive thing in the world, would work.

I emailed the owner and we set up a time to meet, and that Wednesday night Darren and I hauled halfway across the city to pick up this dresser. I called the man when we arrived so he could come out to meet us.

Well, he forgot. He said he'd be there in 10 minutes. I said okay.

In 10 minutes a man came out of the small apartment building. He said, "Are you the people waiting to pick up the dresser?" I said we were, and he said he had just gotten a call from this man and he was going to be another 10-15 minutes. Something about he had grabbed the wrong key. No idea what that meant. So we waited. And we waited. And we waited.

And then we waited some more.

After about 30 minutes of waiting we gave up and left. I was furious, to say the least. The man did arrive about two minutes after we left. He called and apologized, at least, but Darren and I were still mad. It was a huge waste of time.

So I gave up on my dresser for a while. And then, this week, I decided to look again. And man, oh man, was I ever successful.

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This dresser was half the price and twenty times better looking than the one I didn't get. My husband tried to turn this experience into a lesson on patience, which I summarily ignored.

But yeah, did I ever luck out. I only paid $35 for this. It has some wear on the sides and the top has some bubbling since it's just laminate, but hey, for $35 I didn't care. Also, it's hard to tell from the picture but the doors aren't quite lined up. I'm pretty sure I can fix it, though.

Scratch that. I'm pretty sure my uncle can fix it.

And the best news? The piece is originally from Target. In case I had any doubts in the first place.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Day I Met PW

I met the Pioneer Woman. She came to the Mall of America to sign her cookbook. I went, I saw her, she said 'hi.' I got a free t-shirt and left.

That's the short version. Are you ready for the long one? Here goes...

So Ree was going to start signing her cookbooks at 1:00 pm in Nordstrom Court. I thought I'd get there around noon. An hour early sounded good, right?

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Oh, was the joke ever on me. Was. It. Ever.

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It's hard to tell from these pictures how many people are in line. Trust me, it was A LOT. I gave Darren my camera and had him run up to the second floor to take pictures of it.

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I know you just looked at those pictures and said, "That doesn't look like that many people." You're wrong. Allow me to explain the line to you. Look at the big group of people in the middle of the first and second pictures. They are at the end of the big group of people in the third picture. Then, in the third picture, envision (if you can) and large line that goes from the end of the people in the first picture all the way back up and around behind the MOA stage. You can see these people on the left of the third picture. Go back to the first picture. I'm in the bottom-right corner in a gray shirt (not the pregnant lady) at the end of that very long line that wraps around the backside of the stage before it even gets close to the formation of the real line.

Alright, I can tell you still don't believe me. Maybe this will help you: five hours.

You heard me.

That's all I have to say about that.

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At 1:00 Ree came on stage. She answered a couple questions and talked for about five minutes before the signing. She did mention that she's planning on publishing Black Heels to Tractor Wheels (click here) eventually, including a second part she's never before written about. I'm a little excited. A link to Black Heels is what first got me onto Ree's website, so I thought it was kind of funny.

After about 30 minutes of waiting in line, during which I'd moved about two feet, I saw these two people taking pictures of something. I thought, what on earth are they taking a picture of? And all of a sudden, there was Marlboro Man!

(No, not the Marlboro Man. Ree's husband. You have to read her website to understand.)

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So I took a picture of him and their two boys. Notice the gawkers in the background.

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M.M. left after a while and I moved another six inches in line. He reappeared about 30 or so minutes later. I took a picture of him signing people's cookbooks because, why not? It's not like I had anything better to do besides stand in that line.

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Two hours in and I made it around the backside of the stage. It was about this time Nicole (the woman I was standing with) and I started taking bets on how long it would take us to get to the front. She said 6:15. I said 5:30. I won.

I was halfway certain this was the closest I'd get to Ree so I snapped a picture. You might be wondering why I stayed in line for so long. Well, I am too. There are two reasons. I had read on Ree's site that some people waited in line for three hours in Little Rock or some such place, so reason number one, I was not expecting it to take so long. And reason number two, I wasn't about to stand in line for two hours and then leave. Oh no. I was committed by then. I was going to stand in line until that cookbook got signed or Ree left or I passed out from lack of food and water.

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To add to the excitement, TLC had a film crew there filming a series on mall cops.

I kid you not.

But wait, it gets better. Not only were they filming a TV series on mall cops, they were filming a TV series on MALL OF AMERICA mall cops. Check here if you don't believe me.

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So here we were, just standing in line, and all of a sudden there's a camera pointing at us and the camera man is asking us what we're doing, how long we've been in line, etc. We're all just laughing and joking and having a good time. One of the women is trying to give a mall cop $20 to take her to the front of the line. I think nothing of it (I hadn't yet seen the sign) and the mall cop says we're to go five at a time to the next section of the line, which was a ways away from where we were. There were major line issues, if you haven't yet realized.

We all walk over to the next part of the line. I sit down on the edge of the water pool/fountain thing and before I know it there's this woman shoving a piece of paper in my face saying "print your name here and here and sign here." I have to say I didn't even read it, so heaven only knows what she had me sign. I saw her TLC badge so I assumed she was legit. Then she held her iPhone in my face and took a picture of me holding my name. "So we can match you up with your footage" she said.

You can see the camera crew in the background of this picture.

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Five hours in a line and you make some friends. From right to left, Nicole's girl Lauren (I think that was her name); Nicole from Waverly, IA; Leah who had an adorable little boy named Thomas; Kendra in the black; and Kendra's mom in the pink. Kendra's mom brought us chocolate. I really liked her. And then that's the TLC woman next to her.

Marlboro Man was sitting at a table signing cookbooks with the two boys. Nicole and I had him sign ours. And please notice the marker all over the boys' faces. So freaking adorable.

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My picture with Ladd Drummond.

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Shortly after this I got to witness the mall cops in action, if you can believe it. Someone had left a bag on a bench close to us and we got to watch the cops shut down the street for about 10 minutes. The bomb dog came and everything. He was a cute puppy.

People kept stopping and staring, trying to figure out who the celebrity was. I cannot even tell you how many people came up to me and asked, "Who is everyone in line for?" I'd show them my cookbook and say "Ree Drummond" and they would look at me like I was crazy. Which I may have well been.

I noticed the woman's shoes about two hours before I took this picture. Who knows how long she stood in line with them on. I probably would have passed out from the pain.

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Finally, the front of the line!

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Ree making a face about something. The only picture I got of her without some stranger in it. I sort of felt bad putting it on here until I saw this next picture.

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Pretty sure I should have asked the girl to take another one since I was talking. Ree looks like she's sick to death of smiling. I'm sure I would be too. Anyway, so I was talking in the middle of this picture telling the girl that it didn't take. Ree was like, "I've learned to just sit here and smile for a while until I see a flash." Poor woman. I asked if she was surviving. She said she had it easier than everyone standing. I though, you have no idea, Ree. No idea. But I felt it would be rude to say that.

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Thanks for signing my cookbook Ree. I'm glad I waited five hours in line to see you.

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You too, Marlboro Man.

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