another State Fair in the books

We survived another great year at the fair and, as always, ate more than is at all reasonable.  Most items are shared, but not all of them. We tried a few new foods this year, most of which were worth trying but are all ultimately not being added to the permanent list.

2016’s list of eats:

  • mini cinnamon rolls & coffee
  • mini donuts
  • footlong
  • cheese & meat samples
  • 3 types of jerky from The Jerky Shoppe
  • lobster roll
  • deep fried Snickers bar
  • porketta wings
  • Italian sausage
  • funnel cloud beer
  • 2 beer flights
  • candied bacon donut sliders
  • wine slushie
  • “Minnesota corndog”
  • frappe
  • corn fritters
  • fried green tomatoes
  • ice cream from the dairy building
  • giant turkey sandwich
  • all-you-can-drink milk
  • more beer!
  • cream puffs
  • 1919 root beer
  • double-decker s’more
  • deep fried nachos
  • cotton candy
  • another footlong
  • frozen banana
  • Kate & Mat got custard without us
  • Jim got a steak sandwich without us

gotta start somewhere

This weekend we moved some things over to the house. Nothing too exciting, just stuff out of our storage closet, a box of books, and a few kitchen items we don’t have any immediate need for. Friday we brought his parents over. They gave us a lawn mower they happened to have, so that’s awesome. We also met a neighbor – an old German lady who lives on the other side of the alley.

Saturday night while Darren was at Metallica, I went over and lined the drawers in the kitchen and unpacked some dishes. This took a lot longer than you might think.


Today Darren mowed the lawn and I replaced the shower head. Ha.


We met another neighbor too! Judy, who lives across the street with her husband Chuck.

Tomorrow while I’m at work, Darren plans on picking up another load of supplies from his parents (painting stuff, a ladder, etc) and then bringing his friend Dan over to help caulk the gaps in the baseboards and trim (which are not original to the house). Old house, uneven walls, blah blah.

Here’s the rest of the list, as she currently stands. Some of this can and will wait until after we’ve moved in.

  • fill misc. holes in walls
  • caulk baseboards and trim
  • cover crawl space access so the cats can’t get in
  • clean out the random stuff that’s still in the basement
  • install ceiling fans in dining space and kitchen
  • murder all the weeds & poison ivy in the backyard gardens
  • also murder weeds growing through the patio and driveway
  • add screens to front porch windows
  • repair screen on back door
  • repair garage door
  • replace back steps
  • install gutter or gutter alternative in back
  • replace missing trim in stairwell


  • Living/dining room walls AND ceiling
  • Half bath
  • Office
  • Master bedroom
  • Closets
  • Back Porch
  • all the baseboards and trim need a fresh coat
  • touch up… pretty much everywhere else

home is where your rump rests

We bought a house today!

What a pain in the ass, oh mah gah. Weeks of paperwork and waiting, and more paperwork and more waiting. Plus a tiny hiccup at closing today. But we survived and it’s ours. We’re still in our apartment lease until the end of October, so we can take our sweet time moving in – although we’ll be out well before our lease is up, we are SO OVER IT. We have a little bit of painting we want to do, and we need to get the basement ready for the cats (it’s where their litter boxes will be, so we need to cover any spaces they might want to try to crawl into). Really there are tons of nitpicky little things to deal with, but most of them can be spread out over the coming months.

Anyway, it’s a 3 bedroom, 1.5 bathroom, 109-year-old Dutch Colonial in North Minneapolis. We looked at a lot of houses in St Paul because StP4lyfe, but for various reasons this is where we landed. My commute will be shorter, and Darren’s shouldn’t change too much? It’s about the same distance, but time will tell with regards to traffic.

We spent a good chunk of time chatting with the sellers today and it sounds like the neighbors are awesome, which was great to hear. And the next door neighbor has a very nice dog named Norman.

Am I going to start blogging about house stuff? Maybe! I do like reading house blogs, but whether or not I like writing about that stuff remains to be seen.

All right. You want to see pictures? Here are the listing photos in all their flaw-hiding glory. Hooray! Gory details can wait. For now, we are just excited.

house 01

house 02

porch! the window & door trim are not red in real life.



dining/living area

dining/living area

first floor half-bath off the kitchen

first floor half-bath off the kitchen

back porch/mudroom

back porch/mudroom

house 07

this will be the office

this will be the office

guest room/yoga space

guest room/yoga space

master bedroom

master bedroom

our bedroom features a walk-in closet

walk-in closet

house 12

view from the garage

view from the garage

no mud, no lotus / happy birthday to me!

Today I turned 31, which is weirder than 30. I had to write my age on a form today and it was bizarre. I’m not entirely sure why, but Brenna suspects it’s because we’re “reeling on 40,” which is probably accurate. Oh well!

My birthday went a little something like this:

  • Aerial yoga in the morning
  • Birthday tattoo! More on that in a minute.
  • Errands. This is not birthday related, just stuff that needs to get done because adulthood.
  • Dinner at Joe’s Crab Shack with Kyle, Jenna, and Harrison (Darren requested the wrong day off(!) so he had to work)
  • Now I’m watching Fixer Upper, drinking a vodka tonic, and writing this. I need some cake.

It doesn’t sound like much, but I like a good low-key day. I’m going to see Paul McCartney on Wednesday, which was my gift to myself, so I still have that to look forward to!

All right, so here’s the tattoo story and also the meaning behind the design.

Darren told me several months ago that he knew what he was going to get me for my birthday, and it required an appointment. I was like “oooh, massage?” but he said he wasn’t going to tell me and it was going to be a surprise the day of. So I figured, definitely massage or spa day or something. HOWEVER. The day he called to make the appointment, we were IMing. He told me that my appointment was scheduled for 12:30pm on my birthday, but then he said that he had to spill the beans because “she needs some info in advance so… what are you going to get for your tattoo!!??” I was PISSED because who schedules a tattoo as a surprise? You need to be prepared for that shit. After our wee fight, I started warming up to the idea. I had been talking about a tattoo for a couple years, so it’s not like it came from nowhere but it’s a good thing he told me. If I had shown up there with no clue, I probably would not have gone inside.

Anyway, when I first started considering said tattoo a few years ago, I was leaning toward something cat or generally pet related. That’s still on the table for tattoo #2, but I had since made a different plan. I was in a yoga class one day, and the teacher quoted Thich Nhat Hanh, and talked about the idea behind “no mud, no lotus” – the secret to happiness is to acknowledge and transform suffering, not run away from it. So I decided to get a simple lotus tattoo. If I go deeper, it does become a sort of memorial to my father. I could probably do a whole post on that, but the point is that my life (and Kyle’s, of course) was going in one direction, but then dad died and it took a hard, horrible turn… and still ended up being pretty great. You know what I mean?

Side note: there’s a Cloud Cult lyric version of this idea from the song Complicated Creation, and it says “you can’t know beauty if you don’t know pain.” Always happy to incorporate Cloud Cult into everything, forever. That song also includes one of my favorite lines “some days you give thanks, some days you give the finger.”

Whew. Okay, so here it is, and it definitely felt like a being poked by a bunch of needles. At least it only took about ten minutes, although I sure did sweat a lot in that short amount of time (ew):

lotus tattoo

gross gross gross

Dudes. We have spent the last five weeks dealing with bed bug treatment. Our upstairs neighbors got ’em. We went through three treatments, spent two weeks living out of bags, and temporarily lost a cat in the process. Holy shit.

The first treatment was scheduled for Friday, March 4. In my fear, I went out and bought plastic covers for our mattress and box spring. Not a bad idea, because if we did have bugs in our mattress this would keep them from getting out. But also a terrible idea because now we can’t take the plastic off. It is loud and hot. Plus the exterminator brought a much nicer, non-plastic cover for after he treated the mattress which is plenty on its own.

I’m getting ahead of myself. Our landlords were supposed to send us a checklist of prep we were supposed to have done before the exterminator came. We didn’t get the checklist so we were not ready (turns out they had mailed it, and it arrived the day of the treatment). Thankfully, the exterminator said he’d take a bit of time out of his weekend to come back so we wouldn’t have to wait for a new appointment. Darren had to work, but I spent the rest of that Friday washing basically everything we own and packing half out shit in boxes and bags. Here’s a link to a checklist similar to the one we received.

During the treatment, which occurred Sunday, March 6, we took the pets to Darren’s friend’s house for the four hours we were required to vacate. In that time, Winston disappeared. We thought he’d reappear in a day or two, but he didn’t. At first we assumed he was somewhere in the house, but after a few days we started to worry that he’d gotten outside somehow. I posted Lost Cat ads online and one of Darren’s friend’s roommates made posters. On Saturday, March 19, he emerged from inside the couch. The most talkative cat I’ve ever met had crawled into an open seam and hid in silence for two weeks.

Between the first and second treatments, we had to leave all of our stuff bagged. It was a very unpleasant two weeks living with our apartment in that state. It didn’t feel like home, which is uncomfortable and stressful. PLUS OUR CAT WAS MISSING. Nightmare. Treatment number two was Monday the 21st. Two days after bringing Winston home, we had to take him (and the other two animals) away again. We only had to leave for two hours, so we went back to the same place and Winston stayed in his carrier. Lucy was the one who disappeared that time, but she was found in a closet under the basement stairs after just a few hours. We went home and happily unpacked our stuff, thinking it was all over.

Nope! We ended up having a third treatment this past Monday, the 4th. Did I mention I was using vacation time to deal with every one of these weekday exterminator visits? Ugh. We had to wash and pack a bunch of stuff again, although this time we were able to leave pictures on the wall and stuff. Plus we had a few days to prepare, which helped a bit. One more four hour trip away from home and I’m surprised Lucy hasn’t murdered us all, poor thing. She hates her carrier, she hates being in a strange place. But as far as we know, it’s actually over now… although when we unpacked this time, we left our clothes in their bags just in case. Everything is back where it belongs, just wrapped up. When you have coin-operated laundry and have to wash everything you own, it gets very expensive. So we’ll leave some things in bags for a bit, particularly things we won’t use, juuuust in case.

Since our current mattress has to live in plastic I plan on just replacing it asap. I’ll purchase one of the nice, non-plastic covers for it, because I feel like I’m going to have bed bug paranoia at least until we move out of this building, so better safe than sorry.

If we have to do this again I might just lose my mind.

the rest of the story… busted car style

That time I posted about Darren’s car accident and said things were going smoothly? I spoke too soon. We only had liability coverage on the ol’ Impreza, so our insurance co. was like “sorry, we’re actually not dealing with this for you,” so Darren had to handle it himself. It involved many phone calls to a claims adjuster with the other driver’s insurance company. And because he works nights, it was a lot of exchanging voicemails, because she would call around 8 am while he was sleeping.

The accident happened on December 18. We borrowed my brother’s truck for just over a week before they – okay, I’m just going to tell you, It was Farmers – hooked us up with a rental car. We picked that up on the 28th. Eventually they sent someone out to look at the car, and on Friday January 8 they made us a settlement offer that totally sucked, which we were expecting. They also told us that they would only continue paying for the rental through January 11. I immediately went to our credit union and met with a loan officer. We did a fair bit of online car browsing over the weekend, and then I called in to work on the 11th so we could go do some test driving.

Farmers called Darren halfway through the day after they got his message that their offer wasn’t going to work for us. The adjuster they sent out didn’t take into account any of the work we’d had done in the car. This guy was local; the primary person Darren had been dealing with is in an office in Oklahoma. She agreed to extend the rental a few more days, and Darren forwarded her the repair receipts.

We found a new car that day, and completed the purchase the next day. Hooray!

On January 15, Farmers made us an offer we could live with. It at least covered the cost of the very expensive part we had replaced two days before the accident, so that was something. We sent them our title, and on January 27 they towed away the Impreza. We finally received our check yesterday – February 5. Seven weeks to the day after the accident occurred.

Whew. We are both very glad to be done with all that nonsense. We also love the new car – new to us, it’s a 2010 – so at least we seem to have gotten something good out of the ordeal.

things that made my year – 2015

Happy 2016!

I’m starting the year with a list, because lists are my favorite. Okay, really I just enjoyed doing this last year, so here’s my “Things That Made My Year” for 2015. Sticking with fifty:

  1. Nephew Johnston
  2. Disneyland
  3. playing in the ocean at Laguna Beach
  4. being in California in March while it was blizzarding here
  5. The Great British Bake Off
  6. finding a great YouTube channel for yoga
  7. playing WoW with Darren
  8. seeing a lot of touring Broadway with Rebekah
  9. Hotline Bling parodies
  10. cinnamon & clove coffee
  11. cinnamon & clove everything (ok, really just coffee and applesauce)
  12. Jon & Anna’s moment of fame
  13. when I saw that kid snuggling with his cow at the State Fair
  14. quote from Darren that made me cry laughing: “I don’t wear underwear, just a baby sock.”
  15. our 5th wedding anniversary❤
  16. Pluto!
  17. marriage equality
  18. Grace & Frankie
  19. my super fun awesome 30th birthday
  20. Darren’s new job
  21. new ornaments full of symbolism for our tiny Christmas tree
  22. Boots Botanics products
  23. my brother keeping me from losing my mind on more than one occasion
  24. and letting us borrow his truck for a couple weeks. Who knew I’d enjoy driving it so much?
  25. homemade sweet potato soup
  26. drinking on the stoop with the good neighbors when our power went out
  27. quinoa lasagna
  28. Tyler & Kim’s wedding/mini HS reunion
  29. that picture of a bald raccoon
  30. spacetaco
  31. the Caroll Spinney (Big Bird) reddit AMA
  32. I started playing World of Warcraft early in the year and I am surprisingly into it (see #7)
  33. binge watching all of Master of None in one night… two Fridays in a row.
  34. so much more on Netflix: Tig, two John Mulaney specials, Aziz… it was the year of comedy.
  35. re-reading some favorite memoirs
  36. end of the year Star Wars marathon
  37. Penguin the Magpie
  38. donations to Planned Parenthood
  39. being able to make monetary donations occasionally without totally freaking out about our budget
  40. tumblr
  41. guided meditation, even if I’m not very good at it
  42. Sufjan Stevens’ newest album, Carrie & Lowell
  43. If Stanley Tucci Were Your Boyfriend
  44. The Small, Happy Life
  45. not being sick during my Christmas break for once
  46. Gaelic Storm at the State Fair
  47. making Darren a penis cake for his 30th birthday, because he asked me to
  48. dog snuggles, aka snuggz.
  49. Tim’s “Made My Year” list
  50.  A Brief for the Defense, which I found on Tim’s list. I’m not generally into poetry, but this one is unreal.