Friday Favorites: 2010 Edition

by erin

I promised myself that I would resist. You see, the beginning of a new year has always been significant for me. I love a fresh start, a new leaf, a blank slate, all of those cute little phrases that come into play when discussing the end of one year and the start of another. But this year I promised myself that I wouldn't get all sentimental, that I wouldn't blab about the year gone by and my wishes for the new one.

And, yet, after reading so many fellow bloggers' 2010 recaps and 2011 wishes...here I am. Listening to this song and getting all nostalgic. In my defense, this year has been full of changes for me, and I think I'll really enjoy reading this recap someday.

So, without further adieu, my ultimate Friday Favorites: my favorite parts of 2010, mixed in with some that weren't quite so great, and what I look forward to in 2011.

1. Trip to Washington, D.C.
Fun fact: my husband and I have never bought each other Christmas presents. Instead, we book a trip together, which, to me, is much better than any gift. In January, Ryan had a Super Important Concrete Conference in D.C. (he's a structural engineer) so we decided to go a few days early and see D.C. I had never been there, and being a history nerd/law student, I was so excited to see the city. It did not disappoint.

 Inside the Supreme Court building - possibly my favorite part of the trip. I tried to explain what was written on this wall to Ryan (Marbury v. Madison etc), but he lost interest after like 2 minutes. I can't say that I blame him.

 Pretty ceiling of the U.S. capitol


2. Trip to Chicago
Earlier in the fall, we stumbled on a Southwest airfare sale, and managed to score tickets from Minneapolis to Chicago at a ridiculously low price. Because we had to book well in advance not knowing what my class schedule would look like, we just went for one night. And, of course, tried to pack everything into that one night. Despite the freezing cold (we are tough Minnesotans, after all), we had a fantastic time.
 the bean

us in the bean
huge, delicious stuffed pizza
the city from the Sears tower (I know it has a new name now, and I don't really care)

3. Trip to Austin
In March, I went to visit my sisters in Austin for the first time since Alison (little sis) joined Kate (big sis) down there in January. My time there consisted mainly of this:
with a little bit of this
as well as some much-needed sister time. It was a fantastic trip.

4. Law school graduation
aka the best day of my life.

and the best part was that my sisters were able to be there to see me graduate. Happy day.

5. Bar exam
Uh, scratch that. This was 10000000% NOT a favorite moment of 2010.

6. Summer 2010
the highlights:
 a few trips to the brand new, gorgeous Target Field
 win Twins!

 a few too many beers at Great Waters

our beautiful garden...before it exploded with tomatoes, beans, zucchini, etc etc

dinner at the Mediterranean Cruise Cafe for Mom's birthday with sis Kate and boyfriend Adrian, who visited in August

7. 27th birthday and first anniversary
Ryan was out of town for work on my birthday, so my parents treated me to dinner at Barrio in St. Paul. We all agreed that it was one of the best meals of our lives. The guacamole, the margaritas, the tacos...my goodness. Completely ridiculous.

A few weeks later, to celebrate our first anniversary, Ryan and I returned to Solglimt. It was glorious.
we spent a lot of time drinking wine and watching the water. heavenly.
got stuck on the wrong side of the lift bridge a few times
watched the big boats
toured Glensheen Mansion
watched our wedding video and looked at our wedding photos, and had a wonderful first anniversary.

8. 2010 concerts
 John Mayer with Mom

Hanson in the rain with Jess
ponchos required
 Matt Hires acoustic show

9. New job
In September, I started what is basically the perfect job for me. Essentially, I'm a legal blogger. I know, right? It makes me so happy to be able to call myself a 'writer' again.

10. 2010 weddings
dear friend Gretchen and new husband Paul in August

cousin Tim and new wife Amy in September, with the reception at the Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks (go Sioux!)
also, doesn't my husband clean up nice?

11. Bar exam results & swearing in
I cannot express the relief I felt upon seeing my number on that list. CAN'T EXPRESS IT.
And a few weeks later, I was sworn in by the Minnesota Supreme Court
Where's Waldo? (that's me at the bottom. it was a super personal event...except not at all. I didn't care though, I was just SO HAPPY to be there.)

12. Trip to Austin (again)
We went to Austin to celebrate Thanksgiving with Alison, Kate and Adrian. Too much beer, too much queso, but such is life on Austin trips, I guess.
Christmas picture!

13. Saying goodbye to Grandma Pearl
As soon as we got home from Austin, we headed up to Grand Forks (talk about a climate change) for my grandma's funeral. Although it was a sad few days, it was nice to be able to see my cousins
 and my cousin Kristy's adorable boy, Caine
baby likes beer

And here we are!

Between all of these Major Life Events, there were many quiet moments. Moments that aren't major enough to make the favorites list but which I treasure all the same, or possibly even more. Moments like walking the pup on a perfect fall day, eating delicious food, drinking too much coffee and wine and then coffee again, Glee nights with my besties, singing in my car, snuggles with my kitties in the morning, listening to good music, thunderstorms and snowstorms, reading good books, laughing.

I'm not making any resolutions for 2011, because goals like "lose 10 pounds" or "clean out the closets" don't really reflect where I'm at in my life. In 2011, I want to:

Eat good food and drink good wine
Make memories with my family
Travel. Anywhere.
Laugh with my friends
Try new things, meet new people, be open to new experiences

Happy 2011!


Santa reads my blog

by erin

Dear Santa,
You are GOOD. and I am totally humbled to know that you read my blog, because I got pretty much everything that I asked for, and even a few things I didn't realize I wanted but that I now know I can't live without (awesome grammar, erin).

 along with this fancy Jonathan Adler case!
Seriously, asking for one of these didn't even cross my mind, but in the 48 or so hours that I've owned it, I've become obsessed. SO great.

A few more gifts that I received:
immersion blender (YAY!)

Lego Harry Potter for my Wii (nerd)

 a plush doormat...

...and a pretty table runner!
Apparently, my mother-in-law spotted a Crate and Barrel catalog on my coffee table, which I, of course, had marked up with everything that I wanted (I like to keep the husband informed, just in case). She stole it, took it to C&B, & got these lovely gifts. Sneaky sneaky!

Caribou Coffee super-insulated tumbler

Smartwool socks (it's cold in Minnesota, okay?)

Penzey's Chili 9000 (far superior to my Chili 3000) and a few other yummy spices

And, as usual, my pets made a haul, too. We came home with 3 boxes of dog treats and at least 10 bags of cat treats. Those are some spoiled animals.

How were your holidays?


all is calm, all is bright

by erin

As previously mentioned, I really love Christmas. Although I adore the lights, the time with family, and giving and receiving gifts, my favorite part of this wonderful time of year is the music. As a former choir nerd, I have always associated the Christmas season with holiday concerts, caroling, and the alto line of "Joy to the World", which will be ingrained in my memory forever. I won't lie, 99% of the reason that I go to church on Christmas Eve is to sing "Silent Night" by candlelight (sorry Mom).

Because I love Christmas music so much, I usually can't don't wait until December to start listening to it. When the weather turns cold and/or it snows, it just feels like Christmas to me, and my extensive itunes Christmas playlist comes out of hibernation. 
I thought I would share with you a few of my favorite Christmas songs!

"Stille Nacht" by Mannheim Steamroller
My all-time favorite Christmas song. This one brings me to tears literally every time I hear it.
Did I mention that I've seen Mannheim in concert three times? Because, yes, I have. I'm cool like that.

"At Christmas" by Hanson
Fact: Hanson's Christmas album is one of the greatest holiday albums ever. It came out while I was legit obsessed with Hanson (okay, I still am, but back in '97 I literally would have sold my little sister to meet them) so I might be biased, but the cd is full of sweet sappy songs like this one, mixed with fun old-timey (technical term) holiday tunes.

"All I Want for Christmas is You" by Mariah Carey
I mean, come on. This one's a classic.
If you haven't seen the video, I highly recommend it, if for no other reason than to compare that Mariah with the Mariah of today. Night and day!

"Last Christmas" by Jimmy Eat World
I know that many people seriously hate this song, but this version of it is pretty awesome. It was on our store cd during one of my holidays at Victoria's Secret, and it kept me off the ledge more than once. So, Jimmy Eat World, I guess I owe you.

"Merry Christmas Darling" by The Carpenters
When I was younger, my mom played a Carpenters Christmas album all season long, so this song always takes me back. And there is no beating Karen Carpenter's gorgeous voice.

"Things We Don't Need Anymore" by Jenny Owen Youngs
Kind of a depressing Christmas song if you listen to the lyrics, but I think it is pretty sweet.

"God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" by Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan
A Canadian supergroup version of one of my favorite tunes.

Obviously, I have many many more favorite Christmas songs, but that is probably enough...until next year!

what is your favorite holiday song?


all I want for Christmas

by erin

Dear Santa Claus, 
How have you been? Did you have a nice summer? How is your wife? I have been especially good this year, so I have a long list of presents that I want.
Charlie Brown Christmas is my all-time favorite Christmas movie. I watch it several times a year (I mean, it's like 25 minutes long, so that's really not saying much) and it always brings back wonderful memories of my favorite season.
So, like greedy little Sally, I am going to write my letter to Santa (who still comes to my house) (yes, I am 27 years old) in case he needs a reminder of what I want for Christmas this year.

Dear Santa,
Do you remember my letters to you when I was little? When I wrote out detailed, indexed Christmas lists, complete with pictures and other helpful identifying information? I'm glad you didn't give up on me then, because I was pretty obnoxious.
 I've come to realize as I grow older that I am pretty blessed. And, as cheesy as it sounds, Christmas means more than gifts (Linus was right, huh?) and I already have everything I could want (except my sisters home for Christmas, but I sadly think that is out of your control).

That being said...here are a few things on my Christmas list this year.

my favorite Pink lotion
 pretty pearl studs

 Penzey's chili powder (or any Penzey's spices, really)

 a super-insulated coffee mug

That's not too much to ask, is it?
All I want is what I have coming to me! All I want is my fair share!

Happy one-week-till-Christmas!!


winter wonderland

by erin

In case you missed it (lucky), Minneapolis/St. Paul got a ridiculous amount of snow this weekend, averaging around 17 inches. Yep, you read that: almost a foot and a half of snow, in approximately 24 hours. It meant that the city pretty much went to sleep, as Minneapolitans literally had no other choice than to stay home and wait out the storm. Stores and restaurants closed, buses stopped running, and the thought of driving a car was laughable.

my street, several hours into the snow

Being a relative homebody, I was ALL ABOUT the storm. From what I gathered on twitter, other locals planned for the storm, with Christmas gifts to wrap and ingredients for holiday baking. But Ryan and I? Not so much. We barely even had any food in the house, let alone any special ingredients. So our weekend consisted of wine, Netflix Instant, decorating our Christmas tree, shoveling (lots and lots of shoveling), and some much-needed time at home doing absolutely nothing.

The one downside of the snow (aside from the fact that the cities are still a mess and driving is still relatively terrifying) is that we had to miss out on what promised to be a fun holiday party on Saturday night. Our predicament reminded me of this song from my new favorite Christmas album:

Yep, me and J.Lo.Hew lead identical lives.


give and give back

by erin

Well, hello!
Once again, I'm going to ask you to forgive my long absence.

My sweet grandmother passed away a few days before Thanksgiving, and while her death was not entirely unexpected, it was, of course, still hard. We already had a trip to Texas planned and booked, so we spent Thanksgiving enjoying the warm weather and eating way too much queso, and when we got home after the holiday, we hopped right in our cars and drove up to North Dakota to say goodbye. Although it was for a sad reason, I was glad to be able to spend a few extra days with my sisters, and to see my extended family who I don't see nearly often enough.

My grandma was the epitome of a tough North Dakota woman. She was sassy, blunt, and could be pretty offensive, but I loved her for all of those reasons. She always called it like she saw it, but she did it out of love. She had an amazing life (check out her obituary here) and I only wish that I had spent more time listening to her tell me about it. It was hard to say goodbye to her, but I'm happy that she has moved on from the last few difficult years of her life. Her funeral was 11 years after my grandpa's, to the day, so I like to think that they are together, golfing and playing cribbage and bickering again.

Okay. Now back to our regularly scheduled pretty things!

As I've made pretty obvious throughout my blog, I am passionate about the protection, humane treatment and rights of animals. Yet I know how hard it can be to get active for a cause, especially when you lack extra time (me) and money (definitely me) with which to do it.

But wait: you're going to buy holiday gifts, right? Why not buy a gift that will give back?

Like this t-shirt, sold by Ellen DeGeneres, from which all proceeds will go to the Humane Society of the United States.

The shirt features an outlined puppy, with the words laugh dance rescue sprinkled throughout. A cute casual tee for your favorite animal lover!

Or how about the Secondhand Hounds calendar, with photos shot by the amazing Sarah Beth Photography? Calendars are only $15 and are well worth the money, since all proceeds go to Secondhand Hounds.

How could seeing these adorable pups every day NOT improve your life?

Or how about any of the thousands of items available at the Animal Rescue Site?
Like this travel mug (can never have too many of these!)...

or these measuring spoons...

or these cozy sweater boots!

I hope you are all having a happy holiday season so far! Christmas is my favorite time of year, so you have not seen the last of the holiday-related posts from me. Get excited!