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?

absolutely yes

A polar-vortex brings swirls of snow and bursts of cold that can only mean one thing: time for a road trip.  Not a typical reaction, perhaps, but the promise of white-capped mountains and glistening pines had us cruising down I-95 by 9am on Saturday morning.  That’s right – we wake early enough to shower and nosh and pack before even Target is open.
Mashed up pictures from the weekend, but only the top right is actually in the car: bottom right is the pup, top left is a gift from Jon, and the bottom left is a murder mystery party from Friday night.  For inquiring minds — we did not solve the murder.
Totally changing topics: I wanted to make a fun game that encouraged thinking about people & things you love.  My solution?  Sweetheart mad libs.  Perhaps sweetheart isn’t the very best descriptor since this mad lib is good for best friends, pets, books, and, well, just about anything else you love.  Problem is, ‘things you love mad libs’ just didn’t sound as good.

The quirky mad lib is a simple & silly way to reflect on the unique reasons you’re grateful for the people and things in your life.  If you want to see the game, you can download it here.

To get a little rah rah rah with the mad libs, I brought them on our road trip and left them in small town cafes between Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The best part of the weekend happened when we got home and I had a letter from my dear friend Emily asking me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding.  Emily and Mike are the type of infectiously happy couple that everyone wants to be around, and I’m so honored to help them celebrate their big day.  Can you tell I’m excited?

ho ho ho

Feeding four grown men three times daily keeps me whisking, swirling, and mixing around the kitchen like a sister of Rachel Ray.  Since the men in question are burly sweethearts from the North Woods, they spent the day chopping wood and building sheds, and they return home with the appetite of Paul Bunyon himself.

My mother-in-law, Jane, has been feeding the men for over 30 years, and so I offer to take over whenever we visit.  Let her spend the day hiking, reading, painting, and enjoying the day far far from the kitchen (for once).

My commitment to feeding the men had me up before the sun to prepare the coffee and the daily menu.  Cinnabons, chocolate-chip banana-bread cookies and muffins were on the table before 8am.  Now, finally, I can sit down to reflect on our Christmas vacation.  Mind if I share some highlights?
Quite the carb fest, right?  Even so, delicious and absolutely necessary when you keep busy from morning to night.  Yesterday we had a lazy morning play Yahtzee in our pajamas.  Jon had never played before, but he secured a massive win with *2* Yahtzees in the first round:
My brother-in-law Ryan is a true woodsmen.  The man can chop a tree and turn the wood into just-about-anything-your-heart-desires.  You need a mailbox? Bam. An arch for your wedding? He’s got that (he built ours).  He’s worked with wood since he was a boy, and when I learned of his craft, I suggested he open an Etsy shop.  I’m working on an official website and bio for him, so I spent the afternoon playing interview in his shed:ImageImageImage
Jon planned to spend the afternoon shoveling snow off the roof of the house, shed, and boat dock, but I convinced him to break and just play in the snow.  What’s a wife for, after all?  Gotta convince the guys to have some fun.
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Can you believe Christmas is tomorrow? I wish it was next week and we could prolong all the excitement and cookies just a bit longer.  What about you? Are you ready for Christmas?

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:

all that glitters is gold

the title of this post is nonsense.  all that glitters is sunshine and love, surely.  but, i am turning 26 tomorrow, september 26, and so the golden birthday is on my mind.  it’s been on jon’s mind too, because the sweet boy started my birthday celebration last saturday night with dinner at Eatery 112 in Minneapolis (get in your plane/train/automobile/carriage and go immediately – order one of everything and then send me whatever is left over, thank you), and then a carriage ride through the city.  when the carriage ride was over, he told me that he was always impressed with my iPhone photos, but that i would be a much better photographer with a real camera– which was my present! oooheee, ice ice ice, just wait til you see how much better my pictures become 🙂

on the wings of a dove (or in my suv), i spent the following sunday testing out the new camera by taking shots of the landscape surrounding our house (yes, i told you before it was rural…)

and, as you know, no post is complete without a picture of these two:

and, my favorite shot from this morning:
isn’t the rural life lovely? oh fall in wisconsin, please stay!

moonlight on the riverbend

When Jon and I first moved to Wisconsin, we knew we were signing up for adventure: biking, kayaking, hiking, and all those activities that come with living in the country. What we didn’t expect, however, is that we would be able to explore vineyards and spend our days like we were vacationing in Napa or Tuscany. Northern Wisconsin has dozens of vineyards and wineries, lots of them scattered along the Mississippi, and exploring them has become one of our new favorite hobbies.


august blooms

my drive to work goes something like this: cross over the bridge, pass the blueberry farm, stay right when you see the field of horses, then straight down highway 93 past the dozing sheep, the grazing cows, and the beautiful fields of green.  excecpt in august, they aren’t green — they turn into fields of sunflowers.  can you imagine my excitement when they bloomed? so lovely.

not only do the blooms make the drive more beautiful, but they also make the farmer’s market more colorful — look what Jon and I bought for $5 (that’s right, $5):

we spent the weekend running around with kinzie — exploring the markets and buying furniture for the new apartment.
my favorite part of the new house is probably the bubble machine that jon installed in my bathroom.  how sweet is that? i already have a little radio, but now a bubble machine?  it makes getting out of the tub hard when you’re having a private concert:

and, i do say, the flowers make the kitchen a little more cheerful too:
as do the little wine cork magnets I made:
okay, okay – the last thing I need to share is this pizza farm that we found.  we drove down the backroads (yes, we do spend a lot of time doing this) until we came across this:
The Nelson Farm built a little restaurant the serves only brick oven pizzas, and they make everything from the ingredients grown in the area — the wait was about an hour, but we sat on a blanket, shared a bottle of wine, and enjoyed being together until the pizza was ready.  a perfect day.

home sweet view

in my last post i said that jon was my home. that’s true. in all sorts of sentimental ways, our relationship makes my abstract home sweet, but in a very physical sense, i believe that a view makes or breaks a home.  wouldn’t you agree? in chicago, i rented a restored 1890s mansion with a couple of friends, and the home was a stunner: hardwork floors, filigree details lining the walls, bay windows, fireplaces- a chicago hotdog with all the fixins’.  what was missing, however, was anything to look at beyond the curtains adorning that beautiful bay window.  my bedroom view was simply the redbrick that was my neighbor’s house, and that lackluster view kept the otherwise impressive mansion from being anything exceptional.

now, the apartment jon and i shared in chicago had a view for the books — facing west (an untraditional view in chicago where the most coveted view is east toward the lake), and overlooking all the activity of the city.  the two of us spent many o days sitting porchside with cream soda and chatting about what the neighbors were doing in the building across, who was going home with whom below, and which places we would visit when we descended the 28 flights of stairs…

well, enough of that.  this was our view in chicago:

now, we are living in the country (cheating a little bit since we’re living in an apartment building, but hey- it’s still a rural area), and we have this view:

this view doesn’t afford us too many opportunities to muse about the behavior of the city, but it does allow us to draw constellations, watch the sunrise, and observe the changing of the leaves.  
jon took work off yesterday, and with the help of the movers, he had all of our things in the apt by the time i came home:

i was ready to start unpacking and decorating, but he asked if we could just have dinner and watch a movie. ha, as if he needed to ask.  i made sausage tortellini, and then we shared a bottle of wine on the porch.  we laid there with kinzie for an hour or so, just chatting, and i had that feeling that we have ended up exactly where we needed to be.
oh? and for the movie? we went throwback with a beautiful mind.  it’s an oldie but a goodie.

swifty swine for a good time

the summer has been a fantastic whirlwind of weekend trips and mini vacations (in the past 8 weeks, we’ve been to new orleans, chicago, lake geneva, country fest!, summerfest, minneapolis, back to chicago, and bayfield).  i’m up for a weekend trip just about every weekend, but it does compromise adventures on the farm.  that said, jon thought we should spend last night exploring our country home.  what’d we do?  we loaded up the jeep and romped to the river —

we hiked around the grounds and promised to come back during sunset with a bottle of wine/cheese/crackers/chocolates.  we intended to head home, but we saw carnival lights, and so we ended up visiting a traveling fair.  best part of that? the swify swine pig races.  where else but wisconsin can you go for a random drive and end up at a pig race?

have you ever seen sweet little pigs?  they are about the cutest thing ever — besides my pup kinzie (named after the street in Chicago).  i asked jon if we could get a sweet pig to be friends with kinzie kitten, but he wasn’t in total agreement. wonder why…

so, jon has a super important meeting this morning (investors are in town from San Fran — they think this rural area is something else….), and he was nervous (ie very cute): dancing around, drinking too much coffee, and running through his presentation ideas.  i decided to dip into my stack of presents (i buy gifts for him all the time and then give them to him at strategic moments) and  put one in his car:

it’s just a pack of gum, but isn’t the note sweet?  anyway, it got me thinking that i should try to do a sweet thing for him each day for the next thirty.  i’ll keep you updated on the surprises.  as i always say: the best time is the presents!!

the beginning

i’m engaged to my best friend and in love with my life (one implies the other, no?)  we just moved to the country (we’re talking backwoods, four-wheel drive, farm to table) from chicago, and having the time of our lives exploring the mountains & planning our wedding.

couldn’t let these days go by without a little blog.  so here it goes!