Category Archives: fun

It’s a good day for a laugh!

Yay, Thursday! Let’s celebrate by having a good laugh. I apologize to people who have already seen some of these on my Pinterest board, but they are too funny not to share in this post too. (there are some new ones too)

It's true. Sometimes I'm so funny that I start laughing halfway through telling the joke and can't finish it.

This is the best spoof of this picture I’ve seen yet. And, yes, I own two of them.

Those dang Girl Scouts!

This one gets me every time! The look on his face is classic.

I tried to come up with a witty pun to add on to this, but couldn't.

Weeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!! Ok, I'm sorry - I just couldn't resist.

I want to meet the person who made this poster because it. is. awesome.

If only...

Yes they are, little girl.

Lionel, is that you?

I consider this post a success if at least one of these made you laugh. Even if it was just a silent chuckle.

The Energy Bus: Don’t let negative people get you down

(Weigh-In Wednesday will be back next week!)

Hello! I’m baaaaaaaaaaack!  Did you miss me? I took a week off to focus on work and some other life things (ok, mostly work but I had every intention to focus on other life things too). I found out a few weeks ago that I’m getting promoted. Whoop, whoop! I was already a little behind on work so I wanted to tie up some loose ends before the changes to my role were announced. So, that is what I’ve been doing (and eating way too much German chocolate cake + making homemade lasagna with Matt). Now, I’m in Louisville for the rest of the week to announce the changes and dig into my new responsibilities.

Another thing I accomplished this past week was reading The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon. I’ve been reading for 20-30 minutes before I go to bed. I read somewhere (Prevention magazine, maybe?) that reading before bed helps you sleep better and I’m a terrible sleeper. So the reading thing is really just killing two birds with one stone. So far, it has helped… but I was also very exhausted last week so I don’t know if I can declare the bedtime reading a success yet. I heard eliminating coffee helps too, but I’m not crazy enough ready to go down that road yet.

I thought The Energy Bus was corny, but very effective in delivering a clear message.  The author uses a fictional story to describe the Ten Rules for the Ride of Your Life.  The main character is George, a guy who is having serious marriage troubles, is on the verge of losing his job, and (to top it all off!) his car just broke down for two weeks.  I liked the book and suggest it to anyone looking for a quick read and reminder that mindset can really shape our lives. 

TEN RULES FOR THE RIDE OF YOUR LIFE

  1. You’re the driver of your bus.
  2. Desire, vision, and focus move your bus in the right direction.
  3. Fuel your ride with positive energy.
  4. Invite people on your bus and share your vision for the road ahead.
  5. Don’t waste your energy on those who don’t get on your bus.
  6. Post a sign that says NO ENERGY VAMPIRES ALLOWED on your bus.
  7. Enthusiasm attracts more passengers and energizes them during the ride.
  8. Love your passengers.
  9. Drive with purpose.
  10. Have fun and enjoy the ride.   

I think this book applies to all aspects of your life.  I identified with the importance of maintaining your own positive outlook, but also with not letting other people bring you down.  The author calls these people “Energy Vampires”.  We all know people like this, or maybe are or have been people like this.  These are the people who focus on the negative side of life.  My personal opinion is these people can be grouped into a few categories:

  • The trash talkers.  We all have days or periods where other people seriously bug us  and need to vent.  But, these are the people who spend 75% of their time talking about other people, or let specific people really get to them.
  • The people who cut everyone else down.  I think this comes in two forms: cutting people down and being unsupportive.  The unsupportive people can’t be happy for their friends or family because they take other people’s triumphs personally (that is my nice way of saying they are probably jealous, even if it really has nothing to do with them). 
  • The victims of life.  These are the people who feel like they’ve just been dealt so many more challenges than everyone else, and the rest of us are living in a land of rainbows and unicorns.  I’m sure we could find a couple of these people by scrolling through our facebook News Feed.  Sure, it’s OK to feel bad for yourself occasionally (because sometimes there is such a thing as bad luck) but we all have challenges.  Some are very visible and some are very private.  Don’t compare your challenges because you don’t know what people are going through now, have been through, or will go through at some point in their life. 

I’ve known more than a few people like this in my life, as I’m sure we all have.  I find these people to be extremely draining.  The book suggests telling people flat out that you won’t allow negativity on your bus.  I think the idea of saying “on my bus” is corny, but the overall message is good — don’t let these people play a major role in your life.  Their negativity will be draining on you over time.

Sometimes it isn’t possible to cut out coworkers or family that are “Energy Vampires”.  In this case, I strive not to contribute to the negativity (sometimes I’m successful and sometimes I’m not).  If someone is constantly talking poorly about someone else or complaining, I give them a few minutes to vent and then try to change the subject or offer a positive comment.  If that doesn’t work, I usually leave the conversation by physically leaving the room or distracting myself with something else. 

 Obviously this book brought out some very strong opinions in me.  It was a nice reminder to focus my energy on what produces good things in my life.  Sometimes that can be very hard, but I’d say I am a positive person about 85% of the time.  There will always be people in life who try to bring us down.  The key is to recognize that and don’t let it drain your energy. 

How do you keep yourself focused on the positive things in life?  Have you ever burrowed yourself away for a week to get caught up on life?

(Weigh-In Wednesday will be back next week)

Spring Cleaning: April Goals

(first, let me just point out how badly I wanted to do a play on April Fools for the name of this post)

Tonight, I did something I’ve never done before.  I chose to clean instead of work out.  I don’t choose working out over cleaning because I love to work out that much; I do it because I dislike cleaning that much.  Seriously, sometimes I pick stuff up and think, “WTF am I suppose to do with this?”  Obviously if it is a magazine the answer is never to throw it away.   I might need those articles again sometime.

Ok, I’m not really that bad (most of the time).  I am pretty good at organizing stuff.  When I moved in with Matt, I was able to merge most of my stuff with his by putting in more shelving and rearranging how everything was organized in the storage room, closets and cabinets.  But, I’m not good with the day-to-day upkeep around the house.  I think I got into the mood to clean tonight because it is spring and we are having my family over on Saturday night.  So… enough about my lack of cleaning skills.

I read a really good blog post on Saturday where the author graded herself on various goals she had set for the month of March.  She had cute little chalkboard icons and everything.  I can’t remember the name of the blog and it is driving me nuts!  I remembered the blog… it is Eat, Spin, Run, Repeat.  I highly recommend checking it out.  I thought it was a really good idea to set goals for the month since it is such a short amount of time.  These aren’t really “goals” as much as things I want to get done in April.

Partake in a few personal indulgences.

I am bad at this.  I have been talking about getting my car detailed for over two years.  Have I had it done yet?  Nope.  I buy one pair of jeans every 18-24 months because I can’t justify spending money on clothes that can’t be worn at work every day.  I indulge every now and then on smaller things, like some makeup I just bought at MAC, but I really don’t shop a lot for myself.  So, here are my personal indulgences:

  • Get my car detailed.  I love my car so, yes, this is a personal indulgence.
  • Buy a new pair of jeans.  I already have this planned for the weekend of April 14 when Colleen comes to town!  The pair I bought last year is too stretchy so I have saggy butt by the end of Casual Friday.
  • Start my race bib scrapbook.  This isn’t really a financial indulgence as it is a time indulgence.  I want to dedicate a few hours one afternoon to finally starting a scrapbook for my race bibs.  They currently look like a big tangled pile of messiness:

Stay on the healthiness journey.

Ok, obviously I’m going to do this… especially now that I found my wedding dress and have extra motivation.  I wanted to put a couple specific things down about this though.

  • Swim 3 lengths of the pool without stopping.  Considering I can’t even swim one length right now, this will be very hard for me.  I am really nervous about this one, but it needs to be done. Time to put the swimming lessons I took 3 years ago to use.
  • Complete 10 incline push-ups.  This will be another tough one, but necessary for Tough Mudder!
  • Lose 4 pounds.  I’ve been bouncing around the past few weeks and need to start making some progress here.

Career / Personal Development

I own 23 books about business or leadership that have either been given to me or I bought (not including 2-3 other books that I swear I own, but can’t seem to find).  I have had the best intentions to read them… at some point.  I am actually interested in these topics, but what usually happens is I put them on my bookshelf and completely forget about them.

  • Read three of the books.  I already started The Energy Bus last night. It is pretty good so far.  Don’t worry, you will hear about it when I am done 🙂

Make progress on the wedding planning front.  

Venue, photographer, and DJ booked.  Check.  Wedding Dress. Check.  Ok, so we have made good progress so I can’t really complain.  We just want to make sure we plug along so there aren’t any surprises.  These are some big things we want to get done in April

  • Price out professional invitations versus DIY invitations.  We know DIY will be cheaper, but we want to figure out if the savings is worth our time trying to do them on our own.  I love crafts so I wouldn’t mind doing them on my own, but the summer is also already starting to get busy.
  •  Pick out the bridesmaid dress. This will be done on April 14!
  • Plan the ceremony music.  This is up to Matt since I got my way and we are going with a DJ instead of a band 🙂
  • Send a “Save the Date” email with the hotel information.  Klassy.  I know.  But, we don’t see much point in sending formal Save the Dates if we are going to send invitations in two months anyway.
  • Book our engagement photos.  My friend Denise very nicely offered to take our engagement photos… and I’ve been a flake and haven’t gotten back to her.  So, I need to do that this week.

There it is.  My month in a nutshell.  I’m sure I’ll do some other things too, but these are the big ones to get done.

What goals do you have for the month?

My travel log: an abbreviated version.

I got a passport in December 2006 for a work trip and, five years later, it is almost full.  To say I love to travel is an under-statement.  I’ve been lucky to travel a lot for work, a little bit through my graduate program, and a fair amount for personal trips.  This is a (mostly) one-picture glimpse into some of my trips, both international and domestic.

Las Vegas – May 2005

This trip was so much fun and probably my first real adult travel experience.  Five of us girls crammed ourselves into an MGM hotel room, laid by the pool, went out on the town at night, and just had a lot of carefree fun!

The ladies hanging out at the hotel bar before a night out. I was into the scary makeup back then.

Cancun – January 2006

I went to Cancun with my friend Katie a few months after Hurricane Wilma.  This was my first international experience – way back when they didn’t require passports!

Dancing at Señor Frogs. Despite what it looks like, I am not about to "smack that a$$"

Toronto & Niagara Falls – May 2006

This is when I fell in love with Toronto.  My friend Erin traveled here for work frequently so I tagged along.  We hung out in the city for a few days and spent the weekend in Niagara Falls.  Why wait to spend a romantic weekend in Niagara Falls with a guy – go with one of your girlfriends!  🙂

<I am very sad to say that I can’t find any pictures of this trip :(.  I still want to mention it because it was a lot of fun>

Ireland – January 2007

I got my passport in December 2006 for this trip!  I went to Galway, Ireland for a work project.  I got to spend a weekend alone in Ireland so I took a bus tour around Western Ireland.

Cliffs of Moher

Don't fall over the edge.

Brainerd, Minnesota – May 2007

We went to a cabin in Brainerd for Laura’s bachelorette party (Colleen’s sister).  It. was. so. much. fun.  The thing I most remember is “Have I got a dance for you!”.  This guy would not leave us alone and repeatedly asked if someone would dance with him.  When the band was on break and they were playing filler music, I decided to make him wish he never bothered us so much to dance.  It started out like this:

Then I did a little of this:

and this:

Paris – July 2007

I stopped in Paris to visit my friend Noemie for four days before a study abroad.  Noemie had to work a few days, which gave me the opportunity to do sight-seeing on my own.  I am a very independent traveler so I loved this.  I could operate on my own time and didn’t have to feel guilty making Noemie see things she has probably visited a million times.

Me in front of the Eifel Tower.

Bucharest, Romania – July 2007

Bucharest was the first stop on a 10 day study abroad trip I took through my MBA program.  We traveled with 40 students from the Vienna Executive MBA program so it was just as interesting traveling with them as it was seeing the sights of Romania and Russia.   This was about 6 months after Romania joined the EU so there was a lot of excitement in Romania about their future.

Palace of Parliament in Romania. It is the world's largest civilian building, most expensive administrative building and heaviest building. It was designed and nearly completed in the 1980's by the Ceausescu regime. After the fall of that regime, it was largely seen as a symbolism of the excessive luxury of Nicolas Ceausescu's leadership.

St. Petersburg, Russia – July 2007

This was the second portion of our Economies in Transition trip.  I know this is a very random picture, but this is where I had the best Chicken McNuggets ever.  Yes, I do like to visit McDonald’s in other countries to see what the differences are (and sometimes I just crave American food).  My favorite part of Russia was seeing the ballet ‘Swan Lake’, but I cannot find any good pictures from that evening.

McDonalds in St. Petersburg

London – November 2008

I took a long weekend trip to London to visit my friend Noemie since she was working on a project there.  I saw the changing of the guards, went on the London Eye, walked around a lot, bought a great wallet at Ted Baker (that broke less than year later!), and we went out on the town with Noemie’s friend Jeannine.

Big Ben in the evening. So pretty. I took this picture from the London Eye across the river.

Brazil – January 2009

This was another study abroad for school and my last class of my MBA program!  Woohoo!  We spent two weeks studying at FGV in Sao Paulo and went to Rio for the weekend.  I know this picture isn’t a picture of Brazilian scenery, but I like it because it reminds me of how much fun I had on the trip.

I was twirling.

East Coast – October 2009

My best friend, Colleen, and I take a trip almost every year.  This was our third trip.  We went to Portland, Maine; the White Mountains in New Hampshire; Montpelier, Vermont; and Salem, MA.  I could share a lot of great pictures from this trip, especially because it is beautiful here that time of year.  But, one of the highlights of the trip was the Wife Carrying Competition:

They went over this obstacle, through water, up a hill, and to the finish line!

Thailand – May 2010

This is a trip that is really difficult to sum up in one picture.  I spent two weeks in Thailand with my friends Melanie and B. Bea.  We visited Phuket, Chiang Mai, Koh Phangan, and Koh Samui.  I wrote all about this trip and have a few more pictures when I did a guest blog for This Life in Motion on Monday.

Our resort in Koh Phangan. Check out This Life in Motion for more pictures - especially of the Full Moon Party! If you click on this picture it will take you to my guest post about Thailand.

Around the world – August 2010

I went on a three week work trip to Europe and Asia that included: Scotland, Prague (Czech Republic), Seoul (South Korea), Singapore, Hong Kong, Nanjing (China) and Shanghai (China).  I got to spend part of a weekend in Prague and a full weekend in Singapore.  I’ll probably have to share more than one of this trip 🙂

Old Town Square in Prague

Seoul, South Korea. I am having a brain fart on what this place is called.

View from the Singapore Flyer

Las Vegas – September 2010

We went to Vegas in September 2010 for my brother’s wedding.  It was so much fun!  This was my first time staying downtown and it won’t be the last time.  The Golden Nugget was so nice (and affordable) and downtown is very laid-back and easy to move from casino to casino.  We had my brother’s Grooms Dinner at a local bar to watch the Vikings game.

This was the Vikings vs. Saints game in September 2010.

Napa Valley – June 2011

We went to Napa Valley in June 2011 for my friend Shannon’s wedding.  It was beautiful (and the best wedding food ever).  Shannon organized a bus to take us around to a few wineries in the area.  We also stopped by Picchetti Winery, which is a little south of San Francisco.  They are no relation to Matt’s family but we feel a connection anyway 🙂

Benessere Vineyards

Cancun – December 2011

We went to Puerto Morelos in December for Mark and Ada’s wedding.  It was a nice break from Minnesota winter!  It was also nice and quiet at the resort.

Ceremony site at the resort

As much as I love traveling, I also love coming home.  There is something to be said for sleeping in your own bed and not living out of a suitcase!

What are some of your favorite places that you’ve traveled?  Do you have any big weekend plans?

A few of my favorite things

Yesterday was a long day. It was go-go-go at work until I left at 11:30 12:00 for my grandma’s funeral (it was one of those days where I was always a little behind… luckily not late for the viewing and service though!). I can’t believe how many people were there… a lot who I haven’t seen in years (or ever). I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised; my grandma was a very likable person.

I feel like the past week has been emotionally exhausting so I wanted to post something a little more upbeat. (side note: if you’ve commented on my blog and I haven’t responded, it isn’t because I’m not reading them. I’ve just been too wiped out to formulate an intelligent response. I really appreciate the comments, especially the encouragement I received on last Wednesday’s post).

This post was inspired by an annual Favorite Things party that my friend Abby hosts. It is just like Oprah, except with a $10 limit so no iPads or trips to Australia. We all buy one of our favorite things for each of the other girls.

Head Scratcher

The first year Abby hosted the party, I bought this awesome head scratcher/massager for everyone:

It will rock your world.

I love this thing because it is an instant relaxer. Who knew my scalp holds so much stress??

The Best of Clean Eating Cookbooks

This year, I bought everyone The Best of Clean Eating, gave them one of my favorite recipes (Southwest Spaghetti Squash bake), and some samples of protein powder. Yes, I did all of that for less than $10 because I found some unbeatable deals. It helps that we have the party about a month after Christmas.

I love the Clean Eating cookbooks. I received the first one as a Christmas gift from Colleen and vowed to make one recipe a month from the book. We’ve easily averaged one recipe per week. I liked the first edition so much that I also bought the second one!

These will also rock your world.

Magnets

I think this is a pretty common one, but I like to buy magnets when I travel. These are a few of the magnets I’ve accumulated over the years:

London, Maine, Brazil, Boston, Paris, Chicago, Las Vegas, Singapore, Thailand, San Francisco, South Korea, Prague, Netherlands, Russia

In South Korea, they believe that Loons mate for life. As a Minnesotan, that sold me on that magnet! I also took some magnets from Grandma Muriel’s apartment to add to my collection:

I remember the owl from when I was a little girl!

Stoli Razberi & Soda and Crispin

My two favorite drinks are Razberi Stoli with soda and Crispin. I didn’t have any Crispin so I just captured a picture of the Stoli. Both of these are very refreshing and light drinks… which really just means I can drink a lot of them. 🙂

Yum.

Magazines

I love all kinds of magazines. They are great for travel and a nice monthly motivation to eat healthy, exercise, and stay on track with my financial goals. As cheesy as that sounds, it works for me!

This is just a snapshot. I probably subscribe to 10-15 per month. In my defense, I paid about $5-$10 per annual subscription.

No, we are not actually vegetarians. So, why do we subscribe to a vegetarian magazine? I don’t really have a good answer for that. Matt said he wanted to try eating less meat so I subscribed to help us find good recipes (and I’m sure I found a good deal on the subscription so at the time it made all the sense in the world).

If you’re looking for a good Personal Finance magazine, I would recommend Money Adviser first, Money second, and Kiplinger’s third. Money Adviser has really good specific tips that are applicable to everyone, Money has good general information, and Kiplinger’s is probably better for people later in life with more wealth already accumulated.

Tea

I love tea. It doesn’t even have to be fancy tea (although I do love me some fancy tea). I love it all. Matt has forbidden me from buying more until we drink what we have, which is really sad because I miss Sweet Dreams tea by Bigelow. It is great right before bed.

Protein Powder

I dedicated an entire post to my love for my protein shake. I love my protein powder in general though. I also put it in oatmeal. I’m also thinking about baking with it over the next few weeks. I’ve read other blogs and protein powder is supposedly a good addition to brownies. It tastes really, really, really, really good and it helps me get in a little extra protein.

The kind I use is a vegan protein powder that is also gluten-free.

Fiber Powder

My doctor suggested switching from fiber pills to powder last year because you get more “bang for your buck”. I went home and compared my pills to my powder and I’d have to take 15 pills to get the same fiber as I do in one scoop of my powder. I like this powder because it is completely tasteless and easy to put in my food and shakes. I have tried Miralax, which is often recommended by doctors and didn’t like the taste so I never drank it.

12g per scoop. 25g is the recommended daily amount for women.

I bet you’re wondering if I sell Arbonne (if you don’t already know me). I am a Consultant but I don’t sell it. I use their protein powder, fiber powder and RE9 skincare line so I’m able to maintain my 35% discount. If I ever wasn’t able to maintain my discount, I’d probably invest in the Preferred Client and still buy it for 20% off. At some point, I might get adventurous and try other powders but I’m really happy with the taste and nutritional content of their product so I don’t have a strong reason to check out other brands yet.

Shoes

I love shoes. I have been good about not buying them very often the past few years but that hasn’t changed my love for them. This is one of my favorite pair of work shoes. I bought them on a work trip. They were only $30 and they are amazingly comfortable.

I know this isn't a good picture, but hopefully you get the idea.

What are a few of your favorite things?

Thailand is a place worth seeing!

Hi everyone!

Abby at This Life in Motion was kind enough to invite me to write a guest post for her blog. I chose to write about my trip to Thailand in May 2010. Stop by and check it out!

Link to the article: http://wp.me/p2cQ0M-50.

Wedding: decisions are being made!

I know I’ve said in a few posts that this past week has been emotional.  I think a more correct description is an emotional roller coaster.  Along with my grandma going into the hospital and her health rapidly declining (and ultimately passing away), we have still made some good progress on our wedding plans.  It’s been a little weird having one of the happiest and one of the saddest things in my life happening at the same time.

Decision #1: We set a date!

We are getting married September 8, 2012.  I know it seems fast, but we both wanted to get married this year if we found a venue we liked that had openings.

Decision #2: We booked our venue!

We are getting married at Campus Club in Coffman Memorial Union at the University of Minnesota.  We signed the paperwork and put in our deposit last Thursday.  Here is a glimpse into the venue:

The front of Coffman Memorial Union

The terrace where we will have the ceremony. This pic doesn't do the view justice.

View from the terrace (the light rail construction will be done by our wedding)

View of the Weisman Art Museum and downtown Minneapolis skyline from the terrace

The reception room

The Crispin I drank to celebrate booking our venue. I put this in here to see if you're really paying attention... and because Crispin is awesome.

These are a few of the things we liked about Campus Club:

  • The views are gorgeous.  It shows off our beloved city of Minneapolis and we are excited for our guests to experience the views at night.
  • They source all their food locally and serve local beer (yes, that means Surly will be on tap at our reception!)
  • It is surprisingly affordable.  I don’t know if it’s because they have trouble getting booked on Gopher home game days, but I’m not going to complain.  Their food is also competitively priced, if not lower, than other venues in the area.
  • The bar is in a separate room (which I didn’t capture on camera, sorry!).  This will allow our guests who don’t like the dance party to get away.
  • We can play different music in the bar and terrace so Matt can make a mix CD of his favorite music (apparently the Chicken Dance won’t be on that CD).  This wasn’t a deciding factor, but is definitely a perk we like.

Decision #3: We picked our photographer!

I was given about 15 recommendations from friends and family and, yes, I tracked their quotes in a spreadsheet (would you expect anything less from me?).  We ended up going with Bellagala because we found a photographer we liked and their promotion made them significantly more affordable than other companies.  They threw in a second shooter for $250 and that would have cost $750 at other places.

I cannot say enough good things about our experience with Bellagala so far.  They showed us 15-20 photographer books, we narrowed it down to two, and they emailed us links to more photos to review at home.  They contract with individual photographers so we got to look at 15-20 companies within an hour.  That would have taken weeks to visit each of them independently!  They also segment them into tiers by experience and you can pick a tier based on your budget.  We were undecided between two tiers so they showed us photographers from both.  We ended up with Danielle.  Click here to see her full portfolio.

Decision #4: We have our flower girl and ring bearers secured!

Technically, my three year-old niece told me no to being a flower girl.  I told her she can take some time to think about it and get back to me.  I’m sure she just has to check her schedule to make sure she doesn’t have a conflict that day.  Matt’s nephew Hudson and my nephew Keegan will be the ring bearers.  It will basically be an explosion of cuteness.

These are a few other things we’re working on:

  • Asking the rest of our wedding party to take part in our day
  • Finalizing the colors (it will probably be some shade of purple with black and white, but blue is still in the running for now)
  • Picking out a DJ (we have the spreadsheet of quotes and just need to make some decisions now)
  • I am going dress shopping on April 14, which will be less than five months before the wedding.  I’m hoping there are some good off-the-rack options.  I’ve been posting bridal gowns and bridesmaid dresses I like on my Pinterest Wedding board.
  • Hotel accommodations for our guests.  There is one hotel within walking distance and another about 2 miles away that we’re working with to block off rooms.  This will make it easy for us to provide shuttle service for our guests.  Yay!

Have you ever participated in a wedding?  What was your favorite part?

Is anyone kicking butt in the Final Four brackets?