oh me oh my, i’m juggling pie!

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Everything turned out better than we could have imagined or planned.  Funny how it works that way, right?  You spend days upon weeks planning a special occasion and perhaps you end up having a nice time, but the moment you let go of all your plans – bam!- the best day ever.

I have a firm ‘celebrate whenever you can’ policy because you never know how the most wonderful moments will unravel.  Despite our best intentions, they oftentimes happen on a lazy Saturday or random Tuesday.

Jon and I woke up yesterday, and, like most Saturdays, began the day reading the paper and sipping our coffee.  We chatted about this and that, watched a bit of football, and then went for a run together.  After the workout, I told Jon I was getting cabin fever and asked if we could go out.  He said we could do anything I wanted, and so I asked him to take me to the Mill City Museum.
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Fast facts learned from the tour:

  • In 1945, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt was deemed the ‘most well-known’ woman in America.  Who took second?  Miss Betty Crocker.
  • Ireland eats more cereal than any other country in the world.  England comes in second, Australia third, and the United States takes 4th place.  On average, people in the USA eat 160 bowls of cereal a year.  Are you contributing to that number?

Check out the gorgeous views from the 9th Floor observation deck:ImageImage
I know, I know – Minneapolis is gorgeous.  All the flours at the Mill Museum made us crave our favorite carb, pizza, and so we headed to Zelo in downtown MSP.  The restaurant has *the best* view for people watching, and so we ordered cocktails, sat by the window, and made commentary as Minneapolites went about their business.  We ended up sitting at the table for just over two hours:Image
Feeling full and happy, we decided to walk around the downtown while the Christmas lights were still up.  Guess where we ended up?Image
We finished the day by listening to Christine Daaé sing out, “All I want is freedom/A world with no more night/And you, always beside me/To hold me and to hide me.”  A perfect ending to the perfect day.

As we were driving home, I thanked Jon for curing my cabin fever.  His response? ‘I had way more fun than my birthday!” Well, okay, great — but today was random and his birthday took me weeks to plan!  See what I mean?  The best of days have a funny way of sneakin’ up on you. Gotta be ready for ‘um.

love quirks

Internet dating sites match people based on similar characteristics akin to the resume that you might provide to a future employer. But what does that tell you about the nature of a person? About their early morning quirks, their allergy to peanut butter or the way they laugh when you touch their elbow?

We don’t fall in love with someone because they graduated with honors or stand 6 feet tall or “really love going out to eat but could cook you dinner any night of the week.”

We fall in love with someone because they understand the tiny details that make us unique. For better or worse, no two people are alike, but when we find someone with an appreciation for our originality, we’ve found our match.

I fell in love with the multitude of quirks that make Jon unique. From the get-go, he was unlike any guy I’d ever dated – calling at 7am (on a Saturday) to see if could hang out, going to dinner in his sweatpants because ‘dinner should be comfortable,’ and immediately letting me know that I was the girl he wanted (an email after the first date).

Birthdays are a special time to recognize the unique things we love about the people in our lives. I’ve always made a bit of a fuss about birthdays, but, what can I say — I think the people in my life deserve a big fuss.
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Jon’s birthday was yesterday, and aside from some gifts, I made him strawberry cheesecake and took him out for a steak dinner. We laughed, we laughed some more, he ate a massive steak (I had the lobster cakes), and then we drove home and hopped into bed, exhausted and happy.

I went to the market armed with recipes for making an actual strawberry cheesecake (Jon’s favorite), but when I saw strawberry cake with cheesecake frosting, well, the deal was done. I opted to make the cake in mason jars so that we could share one after dinner, and then Jon could bring the rest to work for treats after lunch (the gift that keeps on giving):
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full of heart

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I drove by Lake of the Isles this morning, and as the sun rose over the ice-capped water, snow sparkled in the trees and the clouds glowed a soft pink.  My heart felt so full.  Not only because of the scenery, of course, but the beauty of the landscape seemed to echo my feelings. Rain comforts the sorrowful and soft pink sunrises inspire the grateful.

Our wonderful holiday was filled with family and friends and love and cookies and snow.  The blessings of the season were more than I could have hoped or asked for, and I returned home feeling overwhelmed with gratitude and appreciation.  I worked with my thesaurus to find a single word to describe ‘fullness of heart’ or ‘a heart full to bursting’ but my efforts were futile.

I wanted to share a bit of our holiday with you.  Or, more honestly, I suppose I want to record it here for memories sake.  You don’t mind, do you?

Christmas Eve we took a family sleigh ride through the woods.  The trip was as poetic as the thought, and the 5 degree weather ensured we were bundled and sipping cocoa for warmth.ImageImageImageImage
We went to a candlelight church service after the sleigh ride, and, despite the adventures of the day, managed a game of Ticket to Ride before bed.  In the morning, we exchanged gifts and watched how happy people get when you surprise them with something more perfect than they asked for.  They say Christmas isn’t about the gifts, and that’s true, but I’m always touched by the generosity and thought that goes into even the most simple presents.
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Can you tell I’m excited about the sewing machine? I’ve always wanted to make my own pillowcases, dresses, quilts, napkins, and, well, you name it, but I’ve never had the necessary appliance — well, guess what I’ll be doing in 2014? I’m already signed up lessons! If you have any favorite patterns, send them my way 🙂

The gift last in this post but first in my heart is a trip to Jamaica.  Before I went into surgery, Jon told me that we would plan a sunny getaway as soon as I came home.  That night, hopped up on meds and bundled in his arms, we watched TravelChannel videos and decided to spend a week in Jamaica.

To make the excitement last a little longer, we decided to book our hotel on Christmas night.  So, as promised, we spent Christmas night reading reviews and planning the details of our Jamaica vacation.  Our hotel is now booked and I’m so very excited about the getaway in just 3 weeks.

I’m forever grateful that Jon suggested the vacation when he did- the thought made me smile, and it gave me something to look forward to during a very scary time.  What a loving heart that man has.

Oh, and you might remember that today is his birthday? I’m hopping offline now, and heading for the kitchen to whip up his favorite cakes and cookies and candies. He opted to work today, but we’ll have quite the celebration when he comes home at 5 o’clock.

Me and my full heart are signing off.  Have a lovely day ❤

the chaos of stars

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Lucky for me, my husband doesn’t read this blog.  That means I can say anything I want about him.  You won’t tell, right?  Okay, good, because I’m too excited to keep this a surprise.

For better or worse, Jon’s birthday is December 26.  Year after year we spend December 25 eating cookies, opening gifts, sledding, playing with the dogs, and running around in the snow.  The morning after, for Jon’s big day, we sleepily sing happy birthday and try our best to eat cake (except we’re usually too filled with cookies to do much damage).

My sweet husband is as humble and kind as they come, and he never complains that everyone is gone for his birthday (friends fly home), that he only gets half the gifts (not from me, of course), or that everyone (including him) is too tired to celebrate.
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I started Christmas shopping for my favorite man well before Christmas, and I made sure to get him a variety of practical (work-related) and fun (baseball-related) gifts.  When it came time to wrap, everything got tied up with a red, green or white ribbon.  And then, of course, I panicked — what would I do for his birthday?

Well, well, well.  You see that collage up top?  I made it with an app on my phone, and it got me thinking it might be fun to put photos on canvas for the apartment.  A few minutes later I started playing with a video app and thought it would be neat to make Jon a film.  And then, voilà!  – I decided to make a collage combining out favorite memories and inside jokes.
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Jon is turning 29, so I printed my 29 favorite photos of us, wrote sweet notes on the back, and then pasted the images onto a canvas.  So you’re wondering how he knows what I wrote, right?  Don’t worry- that’s where the video comes in.  Before I pasted everything, I made a video explaining why the pictures were important to me and what was written on the back of them.

What do you think?  Will he like it?
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happily ever now

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I truly intend to write about things besides love and kindness. My head is filled with tales of mystery, stories of adventure, and legends of the past.  When I start typing, however, my fingers get all excited about the love stories and, quite simply, ruin whatever else I was planning to write.

Okay, okay, now and again I get to draw silly pictures and make jokes.  More often than not, however, I’m writing about love, friendship, and the kindness of strangers.  Maybe I’ll break the habit, but today was filled with too much goodness to be a starting point.  Perhaps next week I will get to the action-packed sci-fi adventures.

As for today, Jon played hookie from work so we could take a color-drive, visit the zoo, and have dinner at my favorite rooftop restaurant.  When we got home, my sweet friends had decorated the apartment with birthday surprises – it was some kind of wonderful.

My brother-in-law and my aunt have birthdays this week, and so I spent the early morning (before the color-drive) making birthday cards and envelopes.  The envelopes were a fun project because I made them out of wrapping paper and mod-podge.  If you’re wanting to try a fun twist on the classic greeting card, here are the steps:

Pick a wrapping paper, a card (any size) and grab some mod-podge:Image
Place the greeting card in the center of the wrapping paper, just like you’re planning to wrap a present:
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Pull the bottom of the wrapping paper over the center of the card and make a solid crease:Image
Wrap the sides of the wrapping paper over over the back of the card:
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Cut the wrapping paper where at the top of the greeting card.  Use mod-podge to glue the wrapping paper covering the right and left sides of the greeting card to the wrapping paper that you pulled over the center of the card.  It should look like this:
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Cut excess wrapping paper form the top of the card:
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Fold the top of the wrapping paper into a triangle:Image
Tape the triangle over the back of the card:Image
Front of the card (mine is being hand-delivered, but you could also put the address here):Image

I made a simple card to go inside:
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Just a regular ‘happy birthday’ stamp with white ink on red paper:Image
Here are some outtakes from my day with Jon.ImageImageImageImageImage1-IMG_6691

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woo hoo for you

birthdaycake 

The US Census estimates the world population at 7,113,000,000.  In terms of birthdays, 19 ½ million people are entitled to blow out candles and eat cake every single day of the year.

With millions&millions of birthdays being celebrated each day, it might seem silly to focus too much on the annual celebration.   When you think about birthdays as an opportunity to celebrate a unique individual, however, it seems like much, much bigger deal.  If that quirky person is your BFF or your sweetheart, you may even want to organize a street parade or a block party.

The people we love bring something unique to our lives, and for one day, we have the opportunity to celebrate how special they are.  It’s so simple and happy, really: a birthday is a reminder to celebrate the unique qualities that each of us bring to the world.  Think about what makes your friends and family special, put on a party hat, and make a toast to their individuality.

I’m having a birthday this week, and kind letters from friends and family have already arrived to make me smile.  Their sweet notes have inspired me to research creative HBD cards.  I zoomed around the web, and this is what I found:

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Quite a variety of ways to a say HBD, right?  Everything from your standard birthday card to a pinata in the mail to a cookie greeting card.  Which card would you most like to receive?

attack of the bees

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It’s common knowledge that I consider Thoreau a personal friend. I mean, heck, I threw the guy a birthday party this year. A bigger secret, perhaps, is that I consider his pal Emerson to my other bestie. Like, if the three of us all went to Harvard in 1835 we would have shared a lunch table. Or, even bigger news, I might have convinced Thoreau to let us all share his little cabin in the woods.

If you’re not into my favorite authors, this post might be throwing you for a loop. If you are, however, then you might be familiar with one of Emerson’s most popular sayings: “be kind, be honest, be silly.” A pretty good maxim for an optimal life, right? I have a penchant for kindness and giggles, and I’m a fan of honesty (qualification for BFFdom).

That said, I decided to pay homeage to my homeboy Emerson with an attack of the bees in Minneapolis. Come again? I designed the graphic below, made lots of copies, and then placed the bees all over the uptown neighborhood.
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the spectacular now

ImageMy giggle alarm goes off every time someone says that they need a vacation. Or that they’re looking forward to the weekend.  And again when they plan a week-long celebration for their birthday.

The giggles are always suppressed so that I don’t ruin their enthusiasm for a special day or occasion. But what I really want to do is stand on the top of my tall, tall, tall, tall, (I thought if I used the word tall enough times it would convey just how high high high high up I am) building, and remind them that every single day of their life is special.

Why not live every day like it’s your birthday? Why not celebrate whenever you can? For me, the absence of pressing work, errands, or problems is enough to make a reservation for bubbly on the 99th floor.  Join me? I’ll stick an umbrella in your drink and we can cheers to the present moment.

This post probably seems somewhat flippant, but I promise there is more profound reasoning to my logic.  I realize that happiness is fragile, and that all the good things – many of them that we take for granted, could be gone in an instant.  When we are feeling healthy, we should celebrate the absence of pain.  If the sun comes out, why not run through the sprinklers and ride a bike? Sure enough, the rain will come soon.

Dear readers, I want you to live every day like it’s a gift. It’s Saturday, so it’s a perfect day to start.  I hope it’s sunny wherever you are, and I hope that you’re going to live today like it’s your birthday – candles and all.

Another thing to celebrate is the opening of Apricot Lane in St. Cloud, Minnesota.  I visited the new shop yesterday, and I’m hoping that the owner, Laura, becomes my new shopping buddy.  She styled me in the outfit you see above, and she also provided cute looks for the next few days.  She’s having a $50 giveaway for the opening, so stop by and say hello — maybe you’ll get lucky and win 🙂