Friday, January 30, 2009

The Art of Procrastination

I am fully capable of writing my first speech for MCOM and my first paper for my Strategy course.

I say I love to read so why shouldn't that apply to HBR cases?

And I've got me some mad writing skillz.

So why is it that Nate has left me alone in the house for 5 glorious hours this wonderful Friday evening and I literally cannot muster one ounce of desire to do my school work. My head is telling me to just try to get it done so I can enjoy the rest of the weekend. And in all honestly I am kind of excited about one of the assignments (yes I know how big of a dork that makes me).

But my fingers don't want to type a speech or a paper. They want to surf the internet, search for vacation deals, book a family getaway to the Dells, update Facebook statuses, and fast forward TiVo.

I think I just work better under pressure. When there is no other option than to just buckle down and give whatever task is facing you a quick swift kick to the arse.

So I am hoping that swift kick comes tomorrow afternoon, or at the very minimum Sunday morning...because Lord knows that it isn't happening tonight because I just considered organizing my coupons so that I don't have to do school work. Someone save me!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Nigella Express: Episode Episode 3

We decided it was a perfect time to try one of the dessert recipes from Nigella because were going home last weekend. That is...Nate and I would not consume the entire pan by ourselves. Although I am pretty sure I still ended up eating about half..but hey..that's ok.

We landed on Rocky Road Bars which were chocolatey and QUICK. The quickness factor was really the main deal because I am back in class, and the nights fill up. Luckily, I got home at about 8:20 on Thurdsay night and these were done by 8:45. Seriously..quick. And they are no bake.




The basic deal is butter, corn syrup and lots of bittersweet chocalte melted together. Then you pour over marshmellows and crushed shortbread cookies, top with powdered sugar and you are good to go. NO BAKE.

Yum.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Close To Home

The economy woes hit too close to home yesterday as news that Target was doing layoffs spread throughout the Twin Cities.

I wanted to let everyone know that Nate does still have a job. Thanks to everyone who has called and emailed hoping that he is ok. I think it was a pretty rough day for him. A few of his buddies in his area got let go. He was telling me the one guy moved to Minneapolis for Target from Memphis, with a stay at home wife a two little babies.

As more news of job cuts come across the nation, I find myself more worried about the future and how this can possibly be fixed. I know it can because it has been done before, but it just seems insurmountable right now.

Thinking of Nate (or anyone for that matter) losing his job puts a lot of things into perspective quite quickly. I know I am guilty of complaining about things at my job that frustrate me or annoy me. Now I am just keeping my head down and thankful I have a job.

So thanks again, and if you are looking for ways to help...avoid Wal-Mart---shop Target. :)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Bragging Rights

I know everyone has the "World's (fill in the blank) Nephew".

I just happen to have the World's Smartest and Cutest Nephew and I have proof that gives me legitimate rights to brag right here.

Most little boys when faced with wooden blocks do one of two things:

1) Stack and Destroy
2) Throw and most likely destroy

Not Finn.

(Note: my camera skills are lacking in this video)

video

Oh yeah...can I just remind everyone that this kid is 20 months old?

You put a handful of Cheerios in front of him and he counts them before he eats them. He sits in Grandpa's lap and he starts naming letters on his sweatshirt. The fam is playing bowling on Wii and Finn is up next to the screen spouting of numbers.

I'm just glad I'm his aunt and not his parents because I am pretty sure I won't be much help to him when he brings home his nuclear physics homework in 1st grade.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Young At Heart

Even Lucy feels young at heart every once in a while.
Check out her semi-sassy streak.


video

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

School Days

Back to school tonight...yippee!!

As sad as it is I am actually looking forward to heading back. And I expect all of you to remind me of this statement in about 8 weeks when I am complaining about mid-terms. I guess I am just ready to be back into the routine and have something to do in these long, cold dark Minnesota nights.

So tonight's class is Strategic Managerial Communication. It looks intriguing. The first two weeks are all about impression management. Hmm...I think I could get some good use of that.

My other class is Corporate Venturing. To be honest I am not excited about it at all and am desparately trying to get into this other class. But I haven't had any success yet so until I get off the waitlist, corporate venturing it is.

On another completely unrelated note....this week's Sunday Soup was Creamy Parsnip. Let me tell you I am pretty sure I had never had parsnips before but they might just be my new favorite. YUM!

Friday, January 16, 2009

17 Day Check-In

Did you know that most New Years resolutions are blown after just 17 days? I honestly didn't and just learned it awhile ago on the job.

So in the spirit of tomorrow being the 17th, I thought I would check-in on a few of my New Years resolutions.

1) Read 36 Books.
This comes out to 3 books per month. So far..I've got 3 completed (102 Minutes, Dewey and Eclipse), and am underway with the fourth (In The Woods) for January. Nothing like starting the year out with a little cushion!
Status: CHECK--progress underway

2) Run 1st Half Marathon.
My friend Katie and I are going to run the Minneapolis Half on May 31st. Training starts in March. Here's hoping we hit 20 degrees by then.
Status: Can't say I've blown it yet.

3) Volunteer More
I have been hiding behind the ruse of "I just haven't found the right opportunity for volunteering" the last 2 or so years, so this is the year to take action. My first event is Monday the 19th and it is for an organization "Bundles of Love". It's only for an hour, but I got a few friends to do it with me so it shoudl be fun.
Status: So far so good.

4) Educate myself on Investing
Yawn. Ugh. Don't want to do it. I know it is important, but I would so rather do pretty much anything else.
Status: What do you think?

5) Plant, Harvest and Consume 1st Full Garden
Nate and I started in on this resolution early in 2008 by ripping up all of our hastas to make way for vegetable garden this summer. Planting isn't where the resolution comes in. The challenge will be in actually making this thing grow (anyone know how to get rid of rabbits) and committing to eating all of the healthy goodness it will reap.
Status: Too early to say, but I have a good feeling.

Well that is the round-up. I realize many of these haven't been put to the test yet, but for a 17 day check-in I am feeling pretty good!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

3 Blogs

Let's face it. There just isn't much going on worth mentioning. I get up, I work out, I work, I come home, I sleep. Press repeat and that is pretty much the hibernation pattern for the last few weeks.

So, I thought this would be the PERFECT time to share 3 blogs that I follow religiously and am currently obsessed with.

1) Fail Blog

Best time to check this blog: when you just messed something up at work, are feeling crappy about anything, and just for general merriment. It is updated frequently throughout the day so no matter what time you need a pick me up it is there for you.

2) Stuff White People Like

The title really explains it all. It just doesn't get any more funny than this...and the main reason is that everything they have pegged is SO TRUE. Yes..white people do love Frisbee sports. And Yes...white people absolutely love to promise to learn another language. They are currently promoting a new tour (coming to MSP soon!) so you have to scroll a little to see the first one. OR click on the tab to see their whole list..HILARIOUS.

3) Evil Beet Gossip

On the whole, I could care less about celebrity gossip. One of my 2008 resolutions was to cut out celebrity magazines and it was a very easy resolution to keep throughout the whole year. I don't really care who is dating who, what so and so named their baby, etc. But there is somethign about this writer's style that I love and she doesn't jack around. She tells it like it is.

Happy Blog Surfing! Stay Warm!!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Nigella Express: Episode 2

We had a major breakthrough in the kitchen tonight. Our 2nd Nigella recipe did NOT disappoint and more than made up for some less than enthusing muffins last week.
We were pursuaded to make this recipe by the description:
"This is a lunch for the gods, and a pretty divine dinner, outside on a balmy night"

Since we aren't leaving for the warm waters of Mexico anytime soon, we thought we would try to capture as much of a taste of warm weather as possible.

So we made Mexican Chicken Salad and Tomato and Black Bean Salsa.



Seriously delicious. The salad has a homemade dressing that is made up of ripe avacados, sour cream, garlic, lemon juice and salt and pepper. This dressing is definitely going to be a staple in our household now.

You toss that with romaine, 1 lb. of jicama a load of cilantro, shredded chicken and voila! Delicious meal.

The salsa was good as well and with the jalapenos it gave the salad the extra zip it needed!
Nigella quote of the week: " I had never even heard of jicama before, but I phoned the greengrocer and he said they were available at the market"
And if I do say so myself, Nate is quite the food photographer. The pictures are getting exponentially better. Now I just need to work on my food styling!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Recession Proof January

After a December loaded with Holiday glee and a purchase of a new TV, I have declared January the month of strict spending. We are in a recession after all..

So what does this mean for us?

1) Cafe Target is a no go. Nate frequents this fine establishment often throughout the week for an overpriced coffee, popcorn, other tasty treats etc. I also am 'banned' from my cafeteria but on the whole I rarely go down there anyway.

2) Weekend Projects. Since we aren't spending money going to the movies, eating out, etc that means we have gotten a lot done around the house. Nate cleaned his bike up so it is shiny and new. I cleaned and organized a bunch of cupboards, did laundry, etc. It may not be super fun, but when the weather gets nice and everyone else is spring cleaning, you will find Nate and I at some rooftop bar drinking some summery drinks.

3) Soup Sunday. We are on our 2nd week of making a huge batch of soup on Sunday afternoon. This soup serves as dinner on Sunday night, and lunches for the rest of the week (see #1). We made a Currried Carrot soup last week and are making my Mom's Chicken Tortilla tonight. YUM! And as an added bonus, verry healthy!

4) Coupons. No change here...I have always been a coupon Nazi..and will forever be a coupon Nazi. If you can save the money, why not? I know....give me a perm, color my hair purple, and issue me an AARP card immediately.

5) Mall Avoidance. Let's face it...there is little to do in Minnesota when it is 5 degrees outside. Malls provide lots of opportunities to kill time, but I can't pass up a deal. So...call this deal avoidance. This goes for any retail store, except Target. We can justify our Target expenses as helping to boister Nate's job security.

We aren't being 100% dedicated to this. If anything comes up with friends, work, etc that requires dollars to be dropped no biggie. Nate had a happy hour for someones birthday and the sky did not fall in 3 beers later.

We are just trying to make up for our extreme consumerism last month. And hey..if you're in our neighborhood..stop by because the soup's on!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Anywhere But Here

I just got back to Minneapolis. And I want to leave again immediately.

I went out to DC for work to meet with our partners and it was a WHIRLWIND 36 hours. We were busy, but we were productive.

And as I unlocked the door to my house, and instead of feeling a relief of being home I just felt underwhelmed.

I'm not sure why, and it isn't that I didn't miss Nate or wasn't excited to see him. If I could flee with him I would.

Perhaps it was that 40 degrees in DC felt like a tropical heatwave, perhaps it is because my days before I am back in school are dwindling, or perhaps it is still the post-holiday blues.

Either way, I feel unsettled.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Nigella Express

New year means a new cookbook!! Nate and I are ready to tackle a new set of recipes, and pictures!

We have decided to sink our teeth into (drum roll please)...Nigella Express: Good Food, Fast.


A few things we noticed, and perhaps didn't bargain for:
1) Recipes are getting a little more difficult.
2) This chick is extremely British so there is some translation and humor as we read the directions. (See example below)
3) On the front cover image she is holding pasta and her cell phone. Odd right? I've decided that is the perfect image for our cooking nights. Inevitably I am on the phone trying to get all the ingrediants out (Nate has the "Looking Disorder"), Nate is preparing, I am most likely giving him suggestions to prepare 'better' and more. That is how I know I am going to love Nigella. Cookbook, pasta, cell phone.
SO, since we were long overdue to have Debra over for dinner (see: Water in our basement thwarts all fun activities), we invited her over for brunch to experience the breaking of the binding and the first recipes. Here she is plating the fruit and orange toast, our little food stylist!


We had Ginger and Pear Muffins.



I didn't like these...at all. Nate said they were ok, which pretty much means they were no good. I really like ginger, but there was maybe a little too much. And I wasn't keen on the texture of the pear in the muffin.

Luckily we made more than one new recipe so as to better our chances of making somethign decent for a guest. Our second dish was Orange French Toast. This one was a winner. And it was Orange-y. You make your own orange syrup on the stove and the end result is warm sweetness. Yum!




And to top it off, we leave you with our favorite British direction from Nigella that made us take pause and re-read the directions:
"....leave the former in a cool spot and the latter in the fridge. Then peel and chop the pear and for everything lazily together."
Ok...so it's subtle but trust me when I say that I triple thought through the former and latter thing, and the best thing is that Nate and I frequently can be found talking in a British accent while we cook now!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Ringing in 2009

What more could I ask for for New Years? Becca, Nick and Finn came up to MSP for a few days to hang out and we had a great time with friends on New Year's Eve. 2009 is starting out on the right foot!

We did all sorts of fun stuff with Finn in Minneapolis. We checked out the display at Macy's (he was a little freaked), met his buddy Max at Punch for dinner one night, did the aquarium and amusement park at MOA, and just had general merriment.

More kisses for the turtle.....

We found a plush Ming Ming and Tuck at the Nickelodeon park and Finn had kisses and hugs galore. (and a few small, quick tears when they had to part).We even visited Nate at work. Nate was super excited to show Finn the free gumball machine. Finn got a kick out of it and didn't even notice that Nate was distributing the gumballs to everyone but Finn. Apparently just watching them come down was entertainment enough for him...plus Nate gave him a Target dog which got some smiles.



New Years Eve came and the Schusters and Wong/Plonske's made their appearance for the 2nd year of Champagne taste testing. We had 5 bottles (and a few were stinkers) to test out.. Ryan was the mastermind and host of the fabulous taste test..and kept us all in line. And in Joe's case..with a full glass.

Not surprisingly the FREAKIN Costco brand won. Why, you may ask, do I sound semi-annoyed with this winner? Because I am not kidding you in Minnesota if you do not have a Costco membership you are literally not in the club. And Nate and I---not in the club. Unfortunately I am pretty sure I may have made some statement about if the Costco brand wins I'll geta membership...hmmm
Finn and Max got to play around some but it was definitely late for both of them to be up!
Here is Mr. New Year's himself...

And as I settle into my very cold Monday morning, with the holiday's behind me, loads of work in front of me, and the family back in Viroqua and Chicago, I am sad to see everyone so far away again. But that's why we get together right? The memories stick with you and keep you warm!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Third Times a Charm

Last but not least was a semi-impromptu gathering with some of the Ekern clan. Mom made another amazing meal..this time lasagna, and the crew settled in for a laid back evening of food, football, games, and some delicious drinks.

If you can believe it we even got MY DAD to try out Guitar Hero. It may have only been for like 10 bars, but he tried it. Finn was a big helper with the guitar...
And then we broke out Catch Phrase, dipped into Dad's Good Sh*t and general merriment commenced. Oh yeah...and more reading. Finn demanded more reading. Who would turn this kid away?
It was such a fun night. All of the cousins are fairly spread out and it was so much fun to get together even though we weren't complete. Luke and Trish were in Madison taking care of their newest addition--Evelyn. Congrats to them, and thanks to all for making the Holidays so much fun!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

On the 2nd Day of Christmas...

Boxing Day Morning--

The boxes for Finn just kept stacking up and all Finn really cared about was playing with the kitty. He wasn't exactly sure what to think of everything.


The adults decided to let him ease into it and we started opening our stockings and gifts. Everyone got such nice things, and it was such a fun morning. Dad got restocked with some classic t-shirts.

It was definitely filled with many Finn moments.

Seriously does this kid get ANY cuter?

I hooked Finn up with a sweet Camo vest that I knew Grandpa would appreciate..

And there was plenty of time for some quality Grandma and Grandpa time. Finn is still obsessed with books so everyone took their turn reading, but I think Grandma probably read the most. Grandpa got to try his hand at some killer puppets that Mom gave to Finn.

And while FInn wasn't super into opening any of his gifts, I knew it was a good sign when he opened one of mine and immediately kissed it. :) He is VERY generous with his kisses...and we all got our fair share.

And then after all of the gifts were opened, there was more napping..

I've always loved Christmas, but it is definitely amplified with a child in our family again. Seeing Finn get so excited about even the smallest things makes you excited for it all over again, like you are seeing it yourself for the first time.
It makes me excited for those additional Keaty babies that I know are on their way! :)

Christmas...

I've been debating the last few days how to 'handle' the Christmas blogs. It is so hard to boil many days of great times down into a few pictures and some pithy descriptions. ESPECIALLY when you have the world's cutest nephew of all time...very very difficult to cut anything down.

We basically had 3 Christmases so that is how I decided how to break up the holiday joy.
Becca and Nick and Finn arrived in Viroqua on Christmas morning, and I really couldn't wait for Finn to open his gifts. We weren't going to open gifts until the 26th, so I talked everyone into letting him open a couple.



Mom had all of the decor up, and everything was absolutely beautiful as always. Check out our awesome stockings all hanging up for Santa...or whoever comes on Boxing Day (i.e. the 26th).
We had the Sherry Christmas on the 25th and it was fun to see everyone and see how Finn played with the older boys. They were all very intrigued by Weezer...and Weezer was a gem to Finn.





We had a delicious Norske meal of meatballs, potatoes and lefse...and 1 million cookies courtesy of Mom and Janet.
And of course there was quality R&R time...It is so nice to come home after work and school being over to be able to relax and just hang out.