done deal

Yes yes yes.  I said yes all over again at 7am this morning. To be completely honest, it was the third or fourth time I promised my forever and always.  Not that I’m running around with multiple rings and loads of men, but I’ve staged a few engagements for my brother’s wedding wood-shop business.
Lucky for us all, Jon’s parents have a gorgeous cabin in Northern Wisconsin, and their backyard is something of a fairytale.  We’ve been visiting the past couple days, and it makes me wonder how much I need to go back to the city…
The first time I went to the cabin, Jon’s dad laughed and said I looked ‘ready to go shopping.’  In my defense, I’d been nervous to ‘meet-the-parents,’ and so I’d gone shopping for what I considered ‘cabin attire.’  I quickly learned that my boots, jeans, and sweaters were all wrong – I needed swim-wear, camo, and get’n dirty clothes.
A few *seconds* after meeting Jon’s family, his oldest brother asked if I wanted to shoot guns in the backyard. Shoot guns? Holy macaroni — The only thing I’d ever shot was film (with a camera), but I didn’t want to appear ‘too city’ and so I said yes.  Ryan (same brother that owns the wood shop) watched as I shot a bullseye on my second try (20 gage at 50 yards).
When Jon’s other brother, Derek, heard about my success with the gun, he asked if I’d ever caught a fish.  I answered no, but I reminded him that I was an Arizona girl living in Chicago — when would I have had the chance?
A few hours later?  You guessed it – we headed out to the lake to cast some rods and reel some fish.  This time around, however, I failed to impress with skill and had to rely on generosity – I offered to buy ice cream for the family.  That might have been the move that won them over…
Jon put a ring on it, but now I’m wondering whether it was the ice cream or the gun that made him so confident that I was The One.  What do you think?  And, more importantly, how was your weekend?

gettin’ summa lovin

It’s summer, it’s hot, and I’m planning on gettin’ summa lovin before the sunshine fades away.  In the spirit of ‘engagement roast chicken‘ and ‘you won’t be single long vodka pasta‘, I decided to make my dreams come true through cooking.

A friend of mine knows I’m quietly obsessed with dried pineapple rings, and so she sent me a dehydrator as a wedding gift. Score!  Visions of dried apples, homemade beef jerky, and yes, pineapple rings danced in my head.

Before I had time to consider what I would make with the gadget, an image of coconut cream pineapple cakes appeared before me like a sign (cue that song ‘i saw the sign.. and it opened up my eyes I saw the sign…”)  I know the recipe sounds suspicious, but it was actually incredibly delicious.  Like my rhymes?

The recipe is simple: Slice a pineapple, dehydrate the pieces for 5-6 hours, and then place cool-whip and coconut flakes between the rings.  Guaranteed you’ll be gettin’ summa lovin when you serve it up 🙂

celebrate others and increase your joy

happiness is on my mind with the interactions taking place in the rah rah rah series (random acts of happiness).  today i took a second to write down my 13 happiest moments in 2013, and they ordered something like this:

  • my wedding day
  • a friend telling me she’s in love
  • another friend telling me she’s in love
  • a friend telling me she’s pregnant
  • another friend telling me she’s pregnant
  • my sister winning a house lottery (!)
  • moving to minneapolis
  • a friend getting a job offer that she’s been wanting for a while
  • a friend dropping everything and traveling solo to south america because it’s been on her bucket list for soo long
  • jon’s parents giddy excitement as they planned their trip to the baltic sea
  • jon’s parents excitement when they announced their retirement
  • my brother-in-law’s college graduation
  • my bachelorette party in austin
  • my honeymoon trip to isla mujeres
  • visiting good friends in new york city

the list suggests that some of my happiness comes from personal milestones, but a great deal of it comes from celebrating the achievements of friends and family. does it follow that we can be happier simply by celebrating the good fortune of others?  the answer seems to make sense– if the people around us are flourishing and happy, then their joy is capable of increasing our own.  per usual, i grabbed my camera and headed to the streets of minneapolis to test my theory.  i approached strangers and asked them to talk about the last time they were happy for someone else:0
the first man i approached was more enlightened than the buddha himself.  he looked at me like i was nuts, and he told me that he’s always happy for others. always? always.  he said that he’s happy because he has 4 grandchildren — ages 8, 9, 15, and 17 — and all of them are healthy and loved.  he said that being around his grandchildren is enough to make him happy for all of his days.  i scribbled down his words, and then he gazed up at the sun and reflected for a bit.  after, he told me that he’s also very happy that the people of minneapolis have such wonderful lakes and sunny skies.

while the rest of the responses weren’t exactly going to make the buddha smile, they did provide further insights into what’s making the people of minneapolis happy:
“i’m happy it’s my sister’s birthday, and that we’re together at the lake instead of working.” (girl in blue)
“it’s my birthday!!!” (girl in yellow)
“i am sophie, and i am happy because my sister just got pregnant. she was trying for a couple years, and it was really tough for her, and then she called from work –even though she wasn’t supposed to be on the phone– and she told me the good news.”
“i’m happy that my son came home from maryland to visit for a while. he hasn’t been home since 2009, and now i have him here for 2 weeks.” (woman in hat)
“i’m happy my mom’s happy” (man in hat)
“my sister had a job interview today at the school where our mom works — it would be great if they could work together.”
“friend of mine just got married – they’re an adorable couple and incredibly happy together.” (guy in sleeveless)
“my sister got engaged” (girl in dress)
“a friend of mine has a coffee-date with a coworker” (guy in polo)
“a friend got married – or, well, a few did – it’s wedding season!”
“a friend of ours just had a baby–and so did we!”
“my brother, joe fessler, just dropped a new album. he was working on the mix for over a year, and it turned out awesome.”
“my dad just started his own company”
“my daughter just had a perfect baby.”
“our son is engaged to the most wonderful woman.”

i set out to make others happy, but i was definitely the lucky one today — it was so. much. fun. listening to all the happy moments that people shared with me.  i loved hearing the enthusiasm  and love with which people spoke about their friends and family (and yes, they were all smiling while they talked — mission accomplished).

we were together. i forget the rest.

Jon and I had a busy weekend entertaining friends from Minneapolis last weekend, and when they left on Sunday afternoon, he told me to grab my coat and my camera.  The sweet boy had made a list of places he thought I should photograph while the leaves were bursting with color:

After we had taken some pictures, he surprised me and took me to a vineyard Elmaro, tucked along the Mississippi.  We’ve been exploring a lot of the Wisconsin vineyards, and it’s convinced us it would be fun over the next year to make a game out of seeing how many we can visit.  Apparently, there is already something known as the Wisconsin Wine Trail, which begins in Iowa and runs up the Mississippi to Minneapolis (or, I suppose, you could say that it begins in Minneapolis and runs down the Mississippi to Iowa.. either way).  Guess we’ll be learning a lot about wine (I currently only know that you drink red in winter and white in summer.. oh! and white with fish and red with meat. Apparently, my current wine knowledge could all be obtained with a Dr. Seuss book on the topic, so I have a lot to learn.)
We also used the trip home to take more pictures:

blissful brides

playful pups & blissful brides — two of my favorite things.  and, luckily, two things that seem to occupy the majority of my time recently.  last night, i took kinzie exploring by the river that runs next to our apartment, and we found a secluded and somewhat magical park tucked behind a hill.  the park was barren except for some trees and a sign explaining that i should leave my bows and arrows at home:

The park was great since I could take Kinzie off the leash — I ran around with her, and then let her roam free while I finished up Rules of Civility (read this immediately — it’s wonderful).

I’ve also been very inventive with dinner lately — getting lots of inspiration from Pinterest.  Monday night I made mini tacos, Tuesday I tried a new lasagna roll-up recipe, and last night I made meatloaf cupcakes.  What was Jon’s favorite?  Tie between mini tacos and lasagna cupcakes, but, if I do say so myself, they were all pretty delicious.  I recommend all three meals. Make them. Enjoy.  Thank me later (or thank Pinterest).

Anyway, the whole blissing, bridal, blushing, bachelorette thing has been on my mind because two of my very best friends are getting married this year.  I sat down to book flights for the festivities this year, and it looks like: Sarah’s bachelorette in San Diego for Labor Day, Sarah’s wedding in Mexico in October, Amy’s bachelorette in Florida in October, and then Amy’s wedding in Chicago in November.  
Amy picked out a gorgeous Lela Rose bridesmaid dress for us, and Sarah is letting us choose our own blue beach dress.  
My wedding is next May, and I picked a bright yellow stunner for the girls.  I’m keeping that dress a surprise.
Oh! And you should probably be listening to this: