Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A Minnesota Blogger Conference 2013 Q & A Session with Greg Swan

As a member of the event planning committee, about a month ago I had the pleasure of doing a remote interview for the Minnesota Blogger Conference website. The post highlighted one of our Closing keynote panelists - Greg Swan. I finally had the opportunity to meet Greg face to face on the day of the conference. Below is a link to that post. Please take a few moments to hop over & check it out.

Greg is below on the far right wearing the Google Glass


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - Signs of Spring

One of the things I love about the lot we live on is the abundance of nature that surrounds us.  Having a new camera allows me to capture way more than I was able to in the past. Until we get a new PC the photos I'll post will be unedited:

Goose Egg - Hatched

My Munchkin tells me both of these must be males because they are so colorful...

Sassy Male Cardinal

Gathering worms for their young after the morning rain.

Nosy rabbit on our deck before the garden was planted.

Frog or toad? Not exactly sure.

Sugar Spa Peas from seed

Still amazed how quickly they grew...
 I'll be sure to post garden pics throughout the summer... Trying a lot of new things this year on the deck. 

Already getting ideas on self watering systems to add for next year.

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like:May Flowers & New Experiences or Wordless Wednesday - Patience Reaps Reward

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Spring 2013 - HomeGoods Finds

It's been far too long since I sat down to write, but with so many changes in our lives over the past school year it's been an impossible task to find the time. Munchkin is now in Kindergarten. And I am officially a hockey mom after having survived our first Mini Mite Hockey session. I say "our" because it really is a family endeavor. Parents are very involved in the League, so volunteer work at the ice rink took up quite a bit of time outside of the hours spent preparing to go to the rink & watching Munchkin skate. 

Over his vacation, hubby tackled another major remodeling project, removing wallpaper from our massive dining & living rooms. The 18 foot vaulted ceilings meant the job was no joke. But in only a week the new paint is up & my mind have been on interior decorating for the updated spaces.

I had a couple hours of "me" time to spend while my Munchkin attended a birthday party last Friday.  I sneaked over to the neighborhood HomeGoods store.  Rarely do I stop in there without filling my cart with great things to freshen up the decor in our home. Yesterday was no exception!

I snapped a few photos of the things I purchased as I made my way through the store:

These chairs were the first thing in the store to really stand out - If I were single, these definitely would have made it into my cart - FABULOUS!

This tabletop chandelier/candelabra was really pretty too.

I loved how saturated the color was in this Cynthia Rowley bathroom accessory set - so unique.

 If they would have had more than one of these, I would have grabbed them to go in my living room. A classic look any couple would be able to agree on, plus the quilting was a nice touch.

How fun would these milk bottles look in someones kitchen?! No place to put them or they would have made it into my cart.

Now finally something I did take home. The pillow on the right is now at home on my living room couch. The pillow on the left just wasn't the right color combination so back on the display it went.
The towels matched the color scheme in my main floor guest bathroom & I filled the bottle with caviar potpourri. Was originally shopping for throws for my living room, but I couldn't find any, so I moved onto the art.

This would have been perfect for my Munchkin's room had I chosen a train theme when he was a toddler.

Some really fun "chalkboard" style prints. 
The messages are great too.

After looking through about a hundred different prints, I tossed around picking up these to see if they would work. After some thought, I realized there was just too much orange for my taste. Hopefully someone grabbed these finds and made a home for them.

Above are a sampling of art I've purchased - 
all from HomeGoods for a Master Bedroom & Bath mini remodel. 
 The one on the bottom is from my most recent trip.

The beauty of HomeGoods is that the inventory is always changing. Quality merchandise can be found everywhere throughout the store. It's like shopping with a trusted friend. The buyers have great taste, plus they understand what their customers are looking for. Every time you visit, there will always be a great find.

Disclaimer: HomeGoods did not compensate me for writing this post.  I've been a "fan" and shopper of HomeGoods for many years. It's truly one of my favorite home decor stores to shop. Not sure I could live without it really.

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like: Stream of Consciousness Sunday: Kick Back & Relax or Stream Of Consciousness Sunday: Daily Distractions

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Recent Food Truck Tour Stops - Sushi Fix & AZ Canteen

So it's been a while since I've done a post on lunchtime visits to some of the downtown Minneapolis area food trucks. I'm a creature of habit, frequenting the same three food trucks most of the time, but in the past weeks I've tried a couple of new trucks.

First up is Sushi Fix.The truck is normally parked between 7th & 8th street on Marquette when it's in downtown Minneapolis. The owner: Enkhbileg “Billy” Tserenbat, who is a former executive chef from Yumi Sushi Bar.

Nothing is pre-made. Everything on the menu is made to order. The fish they use is as fresh as possible delivered to the them the night before they use it.  No fishy smells, it is so tasty & tender, not hard & cold from sitting assembled in a package with fake green plastic leaves beneath it.

For $15, I splurged I tried that day's special...  
"The Hennepin Roll: Inside: shrimp tempura, avocado, cucumber Outside: Spicy Tuna, Tobiko, Sweet sauce."

 It was a good sized portion, so I shared a piece with an inquisitive co-worker. We agreed it was the best sushi either of us had eaten in a long time & could hardly believe it was made in a truck. Yum!

I had also heard good things about Andrew Zimmern's newest food truck venture called AZ Canteen from Jason DeRusha on Twitter. AZ Canteen is normally parked a couple of trucks down from Sushi Fix on the same block. While Jason was singing the praises about the tongue he had eaten there, I was more eager to try the Andouille, Oyster & Crab Gumbo.

This particular recipe is a bit different than the Baton Rouge-style Gumbo I grew up with my Daddy making for me, which was always chock full of shrimp & crawfish, beside the sausage & chicken. 

The different ingredient in this cup was oysters. I admit I wasn't quite sure what to expect. It was actually really enjoyable. The roux was well made & the gumbo had a nice consistency - not too thick or thin There was even a taste of okra in the cup. Light on heat, it could have used a few splashes of Louisiana Hot Sauce, but for a dish made for a MN palate, it was pretty tasty.

The logo design is very quirky & fun.

In honor of the Great Minnesota Get Together, aka The MN State Fair, Smack Shack came up with a Lobster Corn Dog in a  Sweet Corn Batter & served with Lemon Chive Aioli, which was incredibly yummy. We have been begging & pleading on facebook for them to be brought back to the truck before the season is over.

Last but not least, our building management held a get together in the lobby for tenants of the building. Although this has nothing to do with food trucks, I had my first taste of "ice cream", or Raspberry Sorbet as this variety was, from Izzy's Ice Cream Cafe. It was good - I might just be tempted to stop by their store in St. Paul sometime with my Munchkin & try out some other flavors.

So that's it for a while. This coming weekend is the 3rd annual Minnesota Blogger Conference. I'll be attending & will place recaps of the sessions out here. Renewed inspiration for getting my blogging grove back is what I expect to find, along with a taste of Muddy Paws Cheesecake & a new avatar/head shot.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Gateway to Change

Releasing fears...the gateway to change. I have avoided blogging about my determination to continue getting back into shape over the past few months. Back in April, I signed up to do a 90 day BeachBody fitness challenge at the prodding of a friend who had recently become a BeachBody coach. I wasn't thinking of it being a transforming process at the time, but surprise, surprise that's what it has turned out to be. 

I wasn't compensated to try this 90 day challenge. I shelled out some hard earned cash & ordered Brett Hoebel's Rev Abs program. He's easy on the eyes & figured that counts if I'm going to be working out with this dude 6x a week - right!

Most of us don't believe in overnight miracles when it comes to achieving fitness goals. There is no such thing. Sweat, consistency, persistence, pain, they all need to be in the equation to see any progress. But it is totally worth experiencing all of those things. Maintaining a higher level of fitness is something we all struggle with. As we age, it becomes an even larger challenge. 

From the Arnold Sports Festival Facebook page
One of my biggest fears throughout this challenge has been the scale. It was one of the requirements to participate to get on the scale & weigh-in, plus take measurements every Monday. Not only did we have to chart the progress, but we needed to post in a private Facebook group, sharing with people we didn't know, but who all shared this goal of conquering this challenge together. We signed up to be open honest & to offer each other encouragement along the way. It worked for me.

The gateway to change - an important place to pass through if what you crave is uncover the you that used to be. So just because the 90 days is up today, it's not the end. 12 lbs & 18" gone from my body in the process - a great result. I'm satisfied. It's so incredibly motivating and pressure-filled at the same time. The workouts must continue at the same intensity & probably more so than before. Once you move forward it becomes that much more difficult to take steps back because you know what you can achieve. You remember what you are capable of, plus you can't bear to lose the "me time."

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like: Life's Lessons or Stream of Consciousness Sunday: 90 Days to Success

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Reinvention and the final Stream of Consciousness Sunday

stream of consciousness Sunday

Say it isn't so!

I've totally been delinquent, preoccupied, whatever you'd like to call it & haven't done many of these lately but it certainly won't be the last post of this nature - I'll just be providing my own inspiration vs. relying on Miss Fadra, who has told us she is moving on from hosting this weekly forum. 

While it's nostalgic & a bit sad, I imagine it's incredibly freeing for Fadra to let go of this weekly obligation & I support her wholeheartedly. I get it. I feel the pressure too, so it totally makes sense to move on, but before we do, here's one last linked post.

Today’s (Optional) Writing Prompt: What does it mean to reinvent yourself?

Today my son asked me "what I'd like to do for a living." A few days ago, I was joking around with him in the car and he told me: "Mom, you are going to be out of control when you grow up!" The thought of being a 40 something mom of a soon to be school-age child begs for a constant state of reinvention in my life.

if you read my last post, you would see how overwhelming my life has become lately. I'm fighting to keep up, yet I know my season of change is never-ending or at least it will feel that way for the distant future. I'm at a stage in my career where I know I need to be doing something else & I've taken steps to get where I think I need to be, but the path has not taken me where I expected it to go. I'm re-evaluating what I really want to be when I grow up, literally.

It's like my kid has ESP & knows what I've been preoccupied about lately even though I don't say a word about it to him. He's sensitive, loving & caring. I'm certain he knows when I'm stressed & when I don't want him to know I'm stressed.

The major victory this year has been getting back to the business of being in shape. I had put that on the back burner, but now I'm cooking with gas...down a clothing size & on the way to dropping one more. Feeling more like my old self, but in a different way - not my old competitive self, but comfortable in my own skin. I've learned it's not ok to put myself last ALL the time. I'm a better person for it - both inside & out. 

I know that it will take some time to put all the pieces in place so that my future will be more clear, but I am moving forward nonetheless. I'll know it when I get there, but for now I am trusting that this path to reinvention will end in a happier place.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Long Time No See

Holy smokes it's been over 3 weeks since I blogged last. It's been such a stressful few weeks - like nothing we've experience before as a family, but we are adjusting as we go. A roller coaster of celebrations, goodbyes, new beginnings, emotions & experiences.

---> Preschool Graduation
---> Saying goodbye to the old teachers
---> New School Age Summer Care provider w/ fieldtrips
---> Making lunches daily
---> Adjusting to the new teachers
---> Birthdays
---> Father's Day
---> T-ball Lessons
---> Swimming Lessons
---> Wedding
---> New schedules for everyone
---> Volunteering

The list goes on. All in the last 3 weeks. I can hardly fathom getting through it all, but we have. Everyday is a struggle. Like an amusement ride that never ends. The strength starts from within but from where I'll never know. No time to recharge the batteries, no time to second guess. Just go with it. Follow the schedule. It's just about all I can do.

I've been squeezing in some "me time" too. A girlfriend talked me into joining her Beach Body Challenge group - remember? We are on day #62 of a 90 day program. I chose Brett Hoebel's Rev Abs. Even with this crazy schedule I've made huge progress for me... 8 lbs down & 14 1/4" gone from all over my body. I've dropped a clothing size & overall am feeling more like my old self. They goal is to be down 2 sizes by the end of this & to continue what I finish, meaning I choose a new program to do at the end of this one to continue the progress.

My garden is taking shape & babies are everywhere:

Gives me some peace & joy to see them taking shape, plus it's a great daily reminder for Munchkin that patience reaps rewards. So hopefully it won't be quite so long before I blog again. Time will tell.

Oh! Guess what?! I pulled the trigger & ordered an iPad (version 3) today. Our family's first. I can hardly wait to pick it up. The badly needed new PC will have to wait ; )