Thursday, February 28, 2013

My Travels

I did some traveling.  Which was awesome, exhausting, expensive, and FABULOUS.

I spent a 4 day weekend in Maryland visiting the only cousin I have my age.  She grew up out East so we only got to see each other every 5 years growing up.  We've never been ridiculously close, but when we're together, we make it a GREAT time!

I got a fantastic deal on a flight out to MD so I jumped on it and made it happen.  Not a lot of our family (my dad has 10 brothers and sisters, mind you) has been out to see them, so it really felt good to go see their stomping grounds.  My cousin lives in College Park/Silver Spring right outside DC.  NEWSFLASH:  I did not realize how close together the states are out there.  She can be in like 4 different states within an hour.  Crazy talk.  We spent our days in DC being tourists and having a blast.

Highlights:  Eating at a food truck, The Holocaust Museum, walking everywhere and using public transit, the ZOO, meeting her boyfriend, the Newseum, carrot cake cupcakes, catching up, and spending time with her roomies, friends, and family!

*I would like to recommend The Newseum if you are travelling to DC.  It is a bit expensive, but it is a 2 day pass and it is unlike to usual museum.  The exhibits are great, and all focused on news, stories, journalists, etc.  All around the world and all types of events.  The had pieces of the Berlin Wall, the antenna from one of the World Trade Centers, tons of artifacts, and just general information you don't see at your average museum.

Policy School Happy Hour at The Meridian Pint
Cupcakes at Sticky Fingers (They were on Cupcake Wars)
View from the roof of The Newseum
Elephants at the Zoo (They have pandas, too!)
The INFAMOUS Carrot Cake
I happened to inadvertently plan the best time to visit.  It was Aria's birthday, and her sister was in town for a dentist appointment.  I was lucky to have dinner with the whole family and Aria's boyfriend on Saturday night at Fogo de Chao courtesy of Uncle Ben.  We filled up on amazing food and delicous  wine.  We also got to bring home the oh-so-coveted CARROT CAKE cupcakes.  Sound strange?  You've never had my Aunt Sara's carrot cake.  It is literally to die for.  My family will hurt each other for the last piece.  But we got 8ish cupcakes all to ourselves.  Fantastic.  The definition of NOM.  (Currently drooling, by the way)

My trip was awesome.  It was a bit cold, due to the winter storms out East that weekend, but we stayed dry, and my flights were on time!  It was so fun to go out there and try something new.  I will definitely be going to visit again.  We had lots of goodies, drinks at fun bars, made memories, and it was a great time!

My Sweetheart

It's only been a month...hah!  I will catch you up :)

Valentine's Day.

It's never really been a big thing for us.  We've never gone out to dinner on the day of, or done anything super special.  By choice.  It's just not that big of a deal for us.  But we usually do a little something for each other.

This year I went super weirdo original and bought Mike a star.  Yes, a real star.  In the sky.  Officially.  Through the International Star Registry.  I'm cool, I know :)  There was a Groupon for it, and I thought it would be a fun thing to remember because we'll have it forever!  They sent an extravagant certificate and a map of the sky so you can find your star.  Next time we are at my parent's house we will definitely be star searching.  Ours is near the Lynx constellation which is close to Ursa Major (The Big Dipper).

Mike was original this year, too.   I am very hard to surprise.  Because I'm a control freak organized psycho.  Okay...I'm not that bad.  But generally, I'm the planner in this relationship so to try to plan something without me is difficult.  He managed.  Because he is the best man ever.

He came home with gourmet everything from Lund's so we could do fondue at our house!  We got a fondue set from our Best Man Josh and his lady Kindra for the wedding.  And we finally got to use it!  He wouldn't let me help prepare anything, and it was all delicious!  (We also had steak, not pictured)

I also gave him a hint/request for a book I wanted.  It is the Pulitzer Prize winning photographs since 1942.  I wanted it after seeing the exhibit at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. (that's in my next post).  Some of the pictures bring you to tears.  It is really moving.  He ordered it on Amazon and it came a few days later :)

Valentine's Day was fantastic.  We did our own thing and it was fabulous.  It was our first official OLSON V-Day and I can still say that I'm so happy being here.  Lucky me!

Monday, February 4, 2013

SBPR 2013

I suppose I should tell you about our trip to Mexico, eh?  We spent 5 days just north of Puerto Vallarta in the city of Nuevo Vallarta.  Mike's small company takes everyone on a trip (one guest included) each year for their "Strategic Business Planning Retreat" AKA have a few meetings, plan for the year, and bond with each other.  Over late nights and lots of alcohol.

It really is a great way for everyone to spend time together outside of work.  And, of course, it is nice that spouses/SO's (that's what they call significant others) get to join and spend time with everyone as well.  They really pride themselves on a family atmosphere.  Many of them actually are family, and most people have known each other for years.  It's a great place and I'm really glad Mike ended up there.  Fun fact:  I'm the youngest person (besides kids).  Always fun, right?

We left on Thursday and returned on Monday.  5 days of straight sunshine, free drinks, sub-par food, and lots of stories.  We took it easy this year and didn't do any "excursioning".  Last year we went to some ruins, cliff jumping, snorkeling...crazy stuff.  This year we relaxed.  On company time and company money.  Woohoo!

We spent time on the beach, read books, walked on the shore.  So nice.  On Friday we went to a nearby town with another young married couple and a young single guy.  We were taxied to a restaurant...and ended up drinking, eating, and chatting for over 6 hours before heading home.  It was such a great time to unwind.  We all walked home on the beach in the dark.  It took forever, but I always remember those long walks.  I have walked home from downtown Oslo and downtown Minneapolis for over 3 miles at 3 in the morning.  I'll never forget those times, and I'm adding this one to the stack.

Lots of margaritas over 15 total
Saturday we did a company outing to go whale watching on a sailboat.  The crew was great and it was very informative as well as fun and crazy.  It was a bummer that I didn't feel that great :(  I think I'm starting to become more prone to motion sickness.  Ugh.  But we saw lots of whales and baby whales too.  There was also a great view of the mountains.

On the last evening and last morning, Mike and I played shuffleboard.  It. Was. Fantastic.  New favorite thing.  We had such a blast and it was really fun to do something new together.  

It was a great vacation and we really enjoyed the relaxing time together.  I am so happy with my relationship and feel so lucky to have Mike in my life.  Here's to many more years!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Baking Bowl

How have I spent my Superbowl Sunday?  I'm not a gigantic sports fan, so I occupied myself other ways.  I slept in, did the usual dishes/cleaning/etc, and watched James and the Giant Peach, have you watched that lately?!  Such a strange movie.  Mike and I also finished Season 3 of SoA finally.

On top of that, I've made a few goodies I've been wanting to try.  First:  Zucchini Tots, recipe found here.  Mine are more zucchini muffins, but they are delish!  And fairly healthy.  Nom nom.  They are easy to make, the most time consuming was shredding the zucchini!

2 cups zucchini, grated
2 egg 
1/4 yellow onion, diced
1/2 cup cheese (I used cheddar)
1/2 cup bread crumbs (I used Panko Lemon Pepper)
Salt and Pepper


1. Preheat oven to 400F. Spray a mini-muffin (I used a regular muffin pan) tin with non-stick spray, set aside.
2. Grate the zucchini and then place in a dish towel to squeeze out the excess water.  I used paper towels, and this is a NECESSARY step so they aren't soggy.
3. In a bowl combine, the egg, onion, cheese, bread crumbs, zucchini, salt and pepper.
4. Using a spoon, fill the muffin cups to the top. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until the top is browned and set.

We also had a lot of pretzels around here.  We bought some in bulk a while back and have had a bag waiting to be enjoyed.  So I spruced them up and made Cinnamon Sugar Pretzels.  Also pretty tasty, and VERY easy to make!
1 (16 oz) bag pretzel twists
⅔ cup vegetable oil
½ cup sugar
2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a medium sized bowl mix together vegetable oil, cinnamon and sugar. Add pretzels and stir to coat. Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes, removing twice to stir.

Let cool!  They are super hot when they're done so resist the urge to taste!  I learned the hard way.

Lastly:  Adventures in Beef Tongue.  Not my decision.  I'm all about trying new foods, but this is one I have been avoiding.  We got a bunch of meat a while back from Mike's uncle.  Tongue included. Eck!  Mike had it in the crockpot all day and the thought of it just made me...uh, ick!  He made it into tacos.  I tried a piece from the pan, which I spit in the trash.  It doesn't TASTE badly, it's more so the texture...and the idea of it (mind over matter!).  You should at least try it if you can.  I tried a bite of his tacos he made with pico, I wasn't terrible.  But I am settling on waiting for fish to have fish tacos.  I have eaten a lot of weird meats, but I don't think I'll ever be having TONGUE again!!

I might be having cookies for dinner.

Mama Love

I had a not so great week.  We won't get into it, but let's just say coming back after vacay (sucky #1), and doing nothing after work but bundling up in blankets and not feeling great.  Oh, and I'm PMSing.  Joy.  BUT, I think I'm over my week-of-crap slump, so don't worry, I won't bite you.

I looked forward all week to Saturday.  My mom was coming and bringing our precious Lola back (my parents watched her while we were on vacay).  We really miss Lola when she's not around to talk to, pet, and take care of.  I've also been missing my parents a lot lately.  I don't know why, exactly, I am just craving some time at home.

My mom brought some goodies from my grandma.  By goodies, I mean:  house decor! If you didn't know, my grandma has a secret calling as an interior decorator.  She LOVES to decorate her house, make flower arrangements, and shop!  I spent a lot of time with her growing up (both of my sets of grandparents lived within 10 miles of me growing up, so lucky!) and she definitely taught me how to shop :)  Sometimes things are hideous, I'll be honest....but lots of times she gets really cute stuff!  And she passes it on to my mom and I when she's tired of it.  I actually have a TON of stuff from my grandma in our house.

I scored these decorative floral balls, which are in our living room...and this sort-of-gaudy candelabra that I put in our bathroom.  

Now, for the not-so-fabulous:  she gave my mom a stuffed mouse that she "thought I should have".  I, of course, told my mom that she would be taking that back home with her.  I even put it in her reusable bag that I packed for her with her stuff to go back home. 

 WELLLL...This morning I was putting the dishes away...

The little SNEAK stuffed it in one of our cupboards!!  Mom wins.  
It was so good to see my mom.  We were never really close, but now that I'm older, we always get along.  We caught up on family drama, Litchfield gossip, and what we've all been up to.  I asked her to bring some books, as I've gotten back in to reading lately.  She is a HUGE reader and delivered me a nice variety to choose from.  I'm currently finishing up Heart Sick, and I think I will probably delve into Into the Wild when I'm done.  Into the Wild is a great movie as well, makes you think.

Fun fact time!  I am actually a published author.  In 5th grade, I had a poem published in two books.  It was about birds...random.  My mom found the books and brought them along for us to have.  

We all chatted for a while and ended up going to Applebees for a late late lunch.  Mike wanted to go to a class thing on Saturday, and I told him he could go.  He answered "I would rather be here with you guys."  It warmed my heart a bit.  My mom truly thinks of Mike as another son.  Which happens to work out for Mike since he lost his mom.  Mike is definitely close to my family, which makes me VERY happy and makes me love him even more.  My mom also realized it was our 8 month anniversary!  Sooo happy!!  She headed home just a bit after 5 to try to beat the weather.  I enjoyed the quick visit and hope to go back home some time soon.