Monday, March 25, 2013

Review of: The Pianist

A few weekends ago Mike and I made the commitment to watch the 2.5 hour movie The Pianist.  Check out the IMDB page here.  It is actually quite old, from 2002.  You wouldn't know by watching it, though.  This has been in our Netflix Instant Queue for a while, but since it was so long, we never chose it.  I am so glad we finally watched it.

It is an extremely powerful movie.  I got sick to my stomach a few times, and we had to take a break while watching it because I was so consumed that I needed to take a breath.  So, fair warning, it is graphic and intense.  I would suggest watching it with someone else and not alone.

The movie follows a famous pianist, Wladyslaw Szpilman, as he navigates through the German occupation of Poland during the Holocaust.  It is based on a true story, and I am a major sucker for non-fiction.  I have always been interested in the Holocaust and enjoy reading books about it as well.  The story covers several years and provides a heart wrenching story about Wlad's journey.  His family, the ghettos, working.  All of it is so interesting.  

Wlad is played by Adrien Brody, who happens to be a stud, and an absolutely fantastic actor in this movie (as well as others).  I cannot imagine the places he had to put his mind to get into character.  He is AMAZING in this movie!  
Photo from
Although the movie is long, you never want it to end, and it doesn't drag on.  Personally, I was consumed in the story.  I think this may have hit me harder because I just visited the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C.  Mike and I talked a lot about the fact that the Holocaust was only 70 years ago.   When you think about that, it becomes really disturbing.  We talked about what we would have done in that situation, and honestly, I would have given up.  There is no way I would have been strong enough to survive.  Especially if my family was separated, children taken away, etc.  It is hard to believe there are survivors still alive today.  Few people can know their pain.  

I would highly suggest hunkering down (early) on a Saturday night with a friend and watching this movie.  Prepare to be moved.  And really try to take it all in.  Powerful stuff.  I cannot imagine going through anything like it.  (To connect with my last post...)


Sunday, March 24, 2013

What Went Well?

I found an article stashed away in my email from November.  When I started this blog, I was really into sharing positivity and making everyone's lives (including mine) a little brighter.  I know I have been a little down lately, so I need to indulge in a positive read.  It actually came from my work's homepage, so I'm not allowed to share/link it, but their words came from the book Attitudes of Gratitude: How to Give and Receive Joy Every Day of Your Life by M.J. Ryan

The idea is practicing "thanks-giving" throughout the year.  I am a person who is obnoxious about saying thank waiters, co-workers, anyone.  But the article focuses more on being thankful for what you have.  I've always liked the saying (which comes in many forms) "It's not having what you want, but wanting what you have."  And sometimes it becomes REALLY difficult to step back and be thankful for the things you DO have.  But remember, there is always someone out there who is much happier with way less.  And when you think like always gets a little more rosy.  

We have these words of inspiration in our bathroom.
  • I feel good about ...
  • I am grateful for ...
  • People who brightened my life today ...
  • What I did to brighten someone else’s life ...
The article suggests having a Gratitude Journal (or Word document, nerds!) and completing phrases such as:
Many of us probably do this subconsciously, but I think that writing it down will really give you a greater sense of thankfulness, gratitude, and happiness.  Try to take time at least once a week to sit down without distractions and write down a few instances, memories, or even goals.  

It also talks about slowing down.  Which I know it realllllly hard for a lot of us.  Take the time to enjoy someone's smile, your favorite song, a cup of tea, the smell of your clean clothes, leaves falling from trees, a bird singing.  You get the drift.  The idea is...really take in everything you experience.  Some people don't see the light of day, some people don't have a job, family, friends.  We are all really lucky in a lot of ways.  And I know for me, it's easy to get greedy/jealous/etc and not be extremely grateful for ALL of the amazing people and things I have in my life.  I am so lucky!

One suggestion I really liked from the article was to stop and ask yourself:  "What went well in the past hour?"  I think this is going to be a new goal of mine.  It is so simple!  Stopping at least once a day and acknowledging the positives that have happened in the past hour.  Simple, easy, beneficial.  Plus, it might make it easier for you to get through a tough day.  

Any act of thankfulness, kindness, or gratitude will in turn make you feel better.   Giving is getting.  Smile, laugh, love.  

Get out there this week, start your gratitude journal, say thank you, enjoy your moments, and always keep thinking...
What went well?

Friday, March 22, 2013

All My Single Ladies

**Disclaimer**  This post is not prompted by any of my friends' situation, simply by the article I read.

I have a lot of single friends that I LOVE going out with.  And I give them a lot of credit, because I would suck at being single.  I am impatient, not very trusting, and not as outgoing as I may seem.  The thought of going on a date with someone I just met terrifies me.  So props, ladies, for meeting men, going on dates, and being single!

I mean that.  And I know you may think being single sucks and all you want is to be in a relationship.  Relationships are great, but please make it the right one :)

I found this article entitled 10 Types of Men Who Won't Marry You.  I think it's sort of silly, but it's a decent read.  I think a lot of people my age are really feeling the pressure to be married.  You can read about my thoughts on that HERE.  Truth is, it is completely normal to get married and have kids in your thirties.  Not to mention healthier and probably more mentally sound.  There is no rush!  

So don't settle for a guy that won't work forever.  Seriously.

Here are my thoughts on my "favorites" from the list in the article.

Mr. "I Am Not Ready For A Serious Relationship Right Now"  Ladies, seriously!  GIVE UP on this one.  Please don't waste your time trying to swoon someone who just likes having a pretty lady (you) by his side.  Why would you even try to be in a relationship with someone who outright says that's not what they want?!   And don't fool yourself thinking that you like the casual thing.  No one likes the casual thing.  

Mr. "Still Hung Up On His Ex"  Hello, rebound!  Why would you want to be compared to someone else?  Find someone who will find you unique, special, and desirable.  Straight from the article: "He is not over her and until he is over her, he is not marrying you."  Duh! 

Mr. "50-Something And Never Been Married"  I have NOTHING wrong with people dating older men.  But at some point, there's a reason for it.  Tread carefully and don't be sucked in by the success and money that may come with and older, more established man.  

Mr. "All About Me"  The main thing that comes to mind with this guy is I-work-out-all-the-time, I-am-so-hott, You're-So-Lucky-To-Be-With-Me.  GAG. ME.  Maybe I'm lucky to have a guy that will do anything for me, but seriously.  Your guy should care more about you than he does himself (in certain ways, don't think I'm psychotic).  You should be his prize.  

Find a guy who loves you, right now, unconditionally, and forever.  Anything less is a waste of your time!  You've got better things to do with your time, girlfriend!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Review of: Django Django Live

Saturday, March 16th we went to the Django Django concert at First Avenue.  I really love this band and tickets were only $15 so I sprung at the chance!  This is their first album and I love the whole damn thing.  They are from the UK, too, which means they also have delicious accents.  They missed St. Paddy's Day in Ireland to come party in Minneapolis and MAKE MY DAY!

Being it was a holiday weekend, we figured downtown would be insane, but we snuck in to our trusty $5 parking ramp and got to First Ave about 30 minutes after doors.  We got a great spot on the main floor right on a step (perfect for shorty-me who doesn't enjoy concerts because I'm so short!).  There was a guy with his daughter and her friend next to us.  He had to go to the front to get his friend, asked us to watch them (for like 2 minutes) and bought us each a beer!  Score!

The opening band was Night Moves from Minneapolis.  You can check them out here.  They were pretty good, Mike really enjoyed them.  Also, the lead singer looked freakishly like our friend Jake, and each of us thought that before telling each other.

The main event, Django Django, was AMAZING.  I was really looking forward to the show because they have a lots of electronic sounds, their voices blend so well, and I knew it would be high energy.  The crowd was fantastic.  It was sold out, but not too crowded.  I could see the whole time (plus!).  And everyone was SO into it.  Including the band.  They never stopped smiling and you could tell they were truly enjoying themselves.  Every once in a while they would throw their hands up and just soak up the energy in the room.  I never stopped moving because the beats kept going.  It was a freaking BLAST!

Their light show was really unique..simple, but captivating.  They play so many different instruments, a lot of percussion.  A few times, the lead singer played a floor tom, not something you see very often.  The keyboardist had about 7 different keyboards and would join the drummer on the drum kit every now and then.  They were a cohesive, interesting, and passionate group.

This is one of my top 3 shows, ever.  I cannot WAIT to hear what their next album will sound like.  The best part of this show was that, since they only have one album, they played every song.  You didn't have to hope they would play your favorite song, because they played them ALL!  YESSSS!!

Did I mention I looked fabulous?!  I don't often care what I look like, but usually when we go out, I like to look nice.  And I did :)

Boots from Norway :)
You should go to a new show soon.  Enjoy some live music.  Try a new genre.  Give it a chance!  
Django Django may seem a bit strange at first, but I can listen to them on repeat for hours.  

Friday, March 15, 2013


This may seem like a really strange post, but I just can't get it off my mind, so I'm going to share.

It was prompted by a coworker sharing the news that one of her 45 year old friends passed away in his sleep.  They had just been out the night before and he passed over night.  She just met up with his wife for brunch and she not surprisingly stated that she "never thought she would be a widow".

This floored me.  I cannot IMAGINE being me, at any age, without Mike.  And don't read this as "oh my gosh, she's such a sap/attached/whatever".  I mean:  what would I do in life without my husband??      I am lucky enough to share my life with him.  And some day we will share our lives with children.  This couple did not have kids, but I am terrified of the thought of being left a widow, with or without kids.  I know...this is really morbid.  But, as I said...I can't get it off my mind.

Mike also lost his mom last year.  And we worry a lot about his dad.  I can't imagine being married to the same person my whole life, watching them fight cancer, and sitting with them as they take their last breath.  I don't know that I've ever seen someone as strong as Mike's dad over the 9 months Carol was sick.  THAT is the definition of a husband, a strong man, a dad, someone I have the privilege of calling a father-in-law.  I also know my own husband shares a scary amount of characteristics with him.  Lucky me!

How would I get along without Mike?  He is my ROCK.  He listens to every thought I have, keeps me sane, and is the most caring and loving person I have ever met.  He takes care of me.  Every day, any time I need it, and no matter how much I whine.  Not to mention the fact that I wouldn't know how long to cook meat, how to clean the drains, I wouldn't be able to reach anything (hehe), I would have to pay for massages, and so many other little things that he does for me.

The superficial things, yes...I could get along without.  But I highly doubt I could ever find anyone as patient with me or who cares as much about me.  That includes my parents, in certain aspects.  Mike and I have had quite a ride and I don't regret anything, nor would I change it a bit.  Everything we have been through makes us US. 

Monday will be our 5 YEAR ANNIVERSARY.  I am so happy.  I love our story, our lives.  I want to live 'til the end, and please make me the first to go, because I would crumble without him!

The morals of my sap story:  love hard, make mistakes, don't give up, and CHERISH every single moment you have with your significant other.  You never know what life will hit you with, and I hope so hard that you and I never have to go it alone.  Or start over.

Don't second guess your (relationship) choices, because underneath it all, your heart is guiding you.  And you WILL end up where you are supposed to be.  I took my chances, and luckily ended up with an amazing guy to hold my hand through everything life has and will throw at me.

I can't imagine my life Any. Other. Way.  

From This:

To This:

I LOVE Being Mrs. Olson.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Sleep Much?

I've been thinking about sleep a lot lately.  For a couple reasons...

#1 - I'm sick, stuffy, coughing, ehhhh.  It makes nights not fun and mornings really difficult because I've been so tired I can barely walk.  I made it all the way through the work week though!  Mike was so sick a few months ago he actually spent a night in our loft because it was disturbing me so much that I wasn't sleeping either (this will make sense/become relevant later in this post).

#2 - Mike is a legitimate insomniac.  Since forever.  He stopped taking his medication quite a while ago and now relies on Melatonin.  Our routine every night is brushing teeth, jammies, I snuggle up to him while he sits up in bed and reads until he can fall asleep.  It's not disruptive to me, but I feel so bad for him!

#3 - We have been on the hunt for a new bed for about a month now.  We have always slept in a full size bed.  (Mike is 6"3', by the way.)  We got it when we moved in together as a family hand-me-down like most of our other furniture.  We never complained, because we've always been snugglers.  It was never an issue until recently.  We started wanting more space to sleep, I like my knees up, Mike has ridiculously long legs, blah blah, and we wanted to feel a little more grown up.

#4 - I read this article on The Nest about getting better sleep.  You can read it here.  It has pretty weird options, but it happened to be relevant at this point in time.

We made the decision to spend some of our tax refund money on a new bed.  A KING SIZE bed!  We never thought we would have one, but turns out a queen just isn't that much bigger than a full.  And I was thinking wayyy ahead as to when we have kids/dogs and will want to have extra room in our bed :)

Mattress shopping sucks.  I don't know if it was because I was tired or overwhelmed (and the fact that I am a MAJOR cheap ass and mattresses are freaking expensive!).  We checked out a few stores over President's Day weekend and settled on one recommended by a salesman.  We found out we could get it cheaper online and decided to order it that way.

**Drama Portion**  The bed frame we picked out was back ordered until May and that sales guy was a jerk, so we just ordered the mattress. Mike was clicking purchase and told me the price of the mattress, I had a freakout and told him to wait.  SO EXPENSIVE!  But we ordered the next day after I consulted some co-workers and decided the investment is worth it.  This is with hopes of the mattress lasting and us getting better sleep.

WELL...Our new huge mattress arrived TODAY!  This means two things:  we have a new bed, and now our guest room is complete with a real bed and not a futon!  YOU SHOULD COME VISIT!!  Mike and I stood in front of the mattress and took a ceremonial first flop on it, and it felt great.  BUT...we never ordered a frame, so it is on the floor!  So much for being big kids... It makes me giggle, but one step at a time, right?

New mattress!

Our jazzed up spare bedroom
Slowly but surely we are settling in to our house more and getting things that we need and want to have.  It feels great to feel comfortable in our place and enjoy being here.  It makes married life all the more blissful!  

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Urban Glamping

That's right, bitches.  (Sorry, I had to, I feel so badass!)

We went "glamping" (Glam-Camping) our basement!  And it is definitely part of the top 10 most fun times we've ever spent together.

I thought of the idea while telling a friend 2 things:  we have basically nothing in our basement, and we got camping stuff for Christmas.  GENIUS!  Camping in the basement!

I surprised Mike by setting everything up while he was out of the house.  Tent, table and chairs, sleeping bags, candles and flashlights, blanket and pillows, and games.  And I made a dumb sign proclaiming it all OLSON HOLLOW.  He was totally surprised and really excited to spend a whole night in our cave of a basement.

We immediately started playing Trouble, which is a really old game...but if you haven't played it lately, you should.  It is so fun and competitive!  *Side note:  I suck at playing games because I am a sore loser.  I think it comes from growing up with two big brothers and ALWAYS losing.  But I'm getting better!  Mike won best 2 out of 3 and we started to make dinner.

I literally lost by 1 space in the tie-breaker!
We made Hobo Dinners.  If you haven't experience this phenomenon, you need to.  My family made them all the time when we went camping growing up.  Turns out, they are just as delicious in the oven!  How to: place veggies, meat, and bisquick (if you like) in tin foil with butter and seasonings, cook at 400 for  30-40 minutes depending on your veggies and whether your meat is frozen or not.  We always do potatoes + chicken + tomatoes (we use the canned flavored ones) + green beans.  Dee-freaking-licious. You need to try this.  They're SO GOOD!  Don't forget to add some seasonings (pepper, sea salt, italian seasoning, Lawry's, etc...but not all of those, haha).

I also made Golden Graham S'mores bars for dessert/s'mores!

After dinner we opened our new Monopoly and went to work.  We played for a long time until we decided it was time to watch a movie.  (We finished our game of Monopoly today, Mike won again!)  We snuggled up in the tent with sleeping bags, and lots of pillow and blankets and watched The Way.  It was a great movie and I am currently really into media about long, solitary trips/hikes/adventures.  I would definitely recommend this movie!

Basically, we are really tech-y around here with lots of computers, laptops, TVs, Roku boxes, etc.  It was really great to unplug, confine ourselves to the basement, and HANG OUT.  We listened to music, played games, talked, and really enjoyed the quiet time.  We will be playing games more often, it is really fun to do together.  It sounds so weird...I know.  But it was something new for us!

We had a great time!  

Do something nice and unexpected for your significant other this month :)

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Mankato Never Changes, I'll Be Forever Young

I spent another crazy night in Mankato last weekend.  If by best friend Carmen wasn't there, I would have banned myself from that place a long time ago.  We (Litchfield HS people) go down there for special events and get out of control.  Usually it ends alright, but let's just say...we have our stories!

Carmen invited us down for a Hairball concert, and of course, I couldn't say no!  It snowed like crazy, but weather permitted for me to get down there and Kirsten and Dani made it as well.  We pre-gamed, got rocker glammed and had a freaking blast at the concert.  I will never forget the people looking and laughing at us as we danced our asses off.  We really get into this stuff.  Especially Carmen, which is why I love her so much!

The night was young and we continued with many drinks and more shots than I should have been allowed.  I've never been a person to say "I'm never drinking again!" but damn....that hangover sucked!  And then I had to drive myself back to the twin cities.  And sleep for a few hours before I became remotely functional.  Kirsten had the same results.

It was such a fun time, but man, I can't party like I used to!!  Especially if Carmen and Kirsten are involved!  I have such a fun lifetime ahead of me with these ladies in my life.

CHEERS, ladies!  To never feeling old and staying forever young! 

Josh and Kindra come to AV!

The weekend following VDay, we had visitors at our house!  Friday night, we picked up Zach in Minneapolis and headed downtown to meet up with Josh & Kindra (who we haven't seen in forever)!  Josh was the best man in our wedding and we have hardly seen them since then.  They were down for a Wild Game and a fun weekend.

I sober cabbed and kept it low key for the night, but it was so great to be spending time with mature, non-dramatic, fun friends.  Kindra and I got on the fast track to being better friends and the guys talked about beer and home renovations....awhh we're all so grown up!  Haha!

Saturday early morning I had a physical at the doctor's office.  Joy.  Those are so awkward!  "Do you feel safe at home?"  Yes, yes I do.  I know they have to ask, but it just feels so silly sometimes.  At least they didn't make me do the weird crap like walking on your heels.

Anywho, Saturday turned upward after Josh and Kindra came over and we headed to Stillwater area!  For as long as we've lived here, we've never visited, and it is SO CUTE!  I definitely want to go back when it is warm out.  We went to a tour at Lift Bridge Brewery, which was really informative and fun. Not to mention, free beer!  We tried to visit another brewery, which was closed without notice for "licensing issues".  WOW, thanks for NOT HAVING A WORD about it on your website that we checked the night before!  Grr.

That was strike one for us, with more to come.  We went to The Nova in Hudson, WI next.  It was Kindra's first time to WISCONSIN! It is literally right across the river and it is SUCH a cute little place.  The decor is insanely cool and the servers are quirky.  Food was spendy, but we already had dinner plans, so they just had a few beers.  If you have a chance to visit, this is a super cute place for a date or a girls date.  One more success for the day...followed by another strike.  We had dinner plans at a 3-level bar recommended by a friend.  After taking forever to find a place to park, we found out it had an hour long wait!  Uh, thank you.

Cute paper flowers at The Nova
By this point, we just wanted to be back on our home turf, so we headed back to AV.  Restaurants and bars all had a ridiculous wait for some reason, so we ended up waiting a bit and eating at Rascal's.  After another parking fiasco.  This place looks crappy on the outside, but is nice inside and the food (not the service) is pretty great!

Our day had lots of ups and downs, but we all went right along with it.  Since nothing was set in stone, we tried new things, improvised, and had a blast doing it.  That is the sign of a good friendship.  It was also so nice to spend time with a couple so that everyone was included and feeling great.  We ended the night watching comedy on our Roku, and I believe we were all in bed before midnight!

THANK YOU to Josh and Kindra for spending a fun weekend with us and making it memorable!  Can't wait to see you again soon!!