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Long Hours, Concerts, and Birthdays

Good morning on a chilly Thursday. Ben and I just got back from a mini vacation away from the crazy work stuff that’s been consuming my every waking moment these past few weeks.  I’ve been under a lot of stress with work and staying until 6:30/7ish each night getting things done. It’s mentally and physically exhausting. I haven’t really been feeling any better physically and I wonder how much is stress versus anything else. So, how do you get rid of stress long enough for it to make a physical difference? Move to a resort in Mexico for 6 months? Ha. Maybe.

So let me recap the last couple of weeks for you: get out of bed, go to work, come home, eat dinner, fall asleep on couch, repeat.🙂

We did have a fun event last week though. Ben and I went to the “I Love the 90s” concert in town.



They had a bunch of people from the 90s sharing their one or two top hits: Young MC, Tone Loc, Coolio, Salt n Pepa, and Vanilla Ice. I have to admit even being a 90’s music kid, I don’t really remember Tone Loc. I think I missed that part of the 90s. Ha Ha


While the music and acts were enjoyable and took you way, way back in time, I actually thought the vibe of the crowd was what made it so much fun. I can’t remember ever being to a concert where almost everyone was within 10 years of me. Seriously – there were no younger crowds and no older folks – it felt like they pulled every late 20’s to early 40’s person and slapped metallic jackets, high-waist pants, and grunge shirts on them. Hilarious! I didn’t really remember the 90s as having a definite style but there were tons of people in retro clothing and as we watched them march into the center, the familiarity light bulb went on. Ah-Ha! It’s funny how it all comes back.

This past Monday we celebrated my Mom’s birthday. I tried to get her a birthday cake from my favorite baker (who did our anniversary and wedding cake) but she was booked solid. So in a pinch we tried an Appleton bakery instead. The cake was twice as expensive and not *quite* as good but still really tasty.



Happy Birthday mom!❤

We picked out an almond cake with raspberry filling and a whipped cream frosting. The frosting was really good – it wasn’t that sickly sweet icing that almost crunches when you bite into it. This was smooth and only mildly sweet.


Here’s an odd thing: my new rose bush is STILL in bloom! We’ve had a night or two of frost and yet I’m still getting large, luscious blooms. It’s so exciting to see the plant doing so well.


My last rose bush didn’t make it through the Winter but this guy has quadrupled in size and looks to be thriving. We’ll see.


I think my next new rose will need to be something more fragrant. These flowers smell good but not that super-sweet delicious scent that I love so much. These are more mild – like tea roses.


Hopefully a gentle Winter is on the way so all my new plants will have a chance to strengthen their roots!

It’s supposed to be a high of 51 today. Yikes! The cold wave is coming in. We have the Packer game tonight so we’ll be up late watching that (well, I may fall asleep). Our house needs a good cleaning so I think that’s in store for us this weekend – plus I need to get some posts up to recap our little WI getaway.


Have a wonderful day!


Mosquito Hill Nature Center

It’s dark when I wake up, dark when I drive into work, and dark at 7pm. It must be Fall!

We’ve been taking advantage of the cooling temps before we see the late-Fall temperature plummet. Ben and I drove out to New London for another game mission and stopped at the Mosquito Hill Nature Center.


We were super lucky because the weather was amazing and there were, maybe, 3 other people there. Basically we had nature all to ourselves. One of our mission spots required us to trek into a nature path. No biggie, except I was wearing flip flops and there were signs EVERYWHERE about snakes. Gulp


I’m pretty positive if I ran into a 4-6ft snake it wouldn’t matter whether or not it was venomous. I’d lose my mind. This lady is not a fan of reptiles (big or small).

Maybe it was good that there were almost no people around because I picked up two large sticks and starting smacking all over the ground ahead of me so that if there was any snake activity, I’d have time to either A) Jump on top of Ben and probably kill him or B) Make a beeline to the car and shiver in the back seat. I’m sure I looked more than a little nuts. Luckily for us both, no snakes were spotted. Phew!

Ben, however, was totally unbothered by the possibility of snakes. Ben = Badass


I had thought we’d be on this nice open walking path the entire time but then our GPS pointed us up into the actual hill. It started with only a moderate incline but soon got fairly steep and slick and my flip flops were not cutting it. Ben grabbed my phone and went along without me while I whacked and thrashed my way back down.


We emerged from the hill victorious, with zero snake bites but probably at least a dozen mosquito bites. Maybe that’s why they call it Mosquito Hill??


What a pretty day!


We’re planning on a long weekend off later this month and were thinking about heading off into the Western part of the state for some exploring. We need to plan this weekend and figure out PTO and schedules.


Meanwhile at work, all eyes are on Hurricane Matthew. I work for a property casualty insurance company so whenever there’s a big storm looming, everyone is especially interested for increased claims calls and potential field appraiser trips out to assess. Hopefully the storm is lighter than expected and that those in the direct path evacuate to safety!

Fall Colors, Salted Caramel, and Quiche

Howdy folks,

It’s been a lively weekend around here. We’re making the most of the beautiful weather (high 60s / low 70s, nice breeze and low humidity). This is why I love Fall. It’s short-lived but absolutely refreshing after a hot and sticky summer.

I spent yesterday in Wausau visiting my buddy Jeff. We had planned to stop at the same restaurant we went to last time but they were closed for the day and we had to come up with an alternate plan. Instead we went to the Great Dane Pub for some breakfast-for-lunch.


They make their own root beer here and I’m a sucker for tap root beer so I ordered a glass even though I wasn’t expecting it to go along with my breakfast entree. Sacrifices must be made for deliciousness.


As it turned out, my breakfast was less “breakfast” and more brunch anyway. I ordered a slice of their broccoli, pepper, and tomato quiche and it was served with a side of fruit and a salad. Quiche and salad? Seemed like an odd pairing to me.


No one can say I didn’t get a lot of fruits and veggies yesterday. I was rocking the servings!🙂

After lunch we walked around a small trail and watched folks putting their kayaks into the water. It was quite the afternoon for kayaking with a slight breeze and zero clouds. We decided we wanted more walking and drove down to one of the main parks in the city. Some of the trees are already turning colors.


Isn’t that just gorgeous? I want to plant one in our yard but I don’t think Ben wants another tree to mow around.


We sauntered about 4 miles while catching up on news. Jeff lives almost 4 hours away so we try and meet in the middle a few times each year. It usually involves lunch, a random shopping excursion and then some type of exercise to counter the long stretches in the car. Oh yeah, and we always end up at Starbucks even though Jeff hates coffee. I don’t know why (why we go there OR why he hates coffee).

I tried their salted caramel mocha frappucino. It was so-so. I think I’m getting less and less excited about new Starbucks flavors lately. Most of the new things I try I just don’t like as well.


I’m still dealing with the random dizziness and low BP and I’ve been talking to a co-worker a bit about trying a little food cleanse to amp up the healthy foods and see if that helps at all. It’s worth a try because the Dr bills keep piling up and there’s no real suggestions other than to drown me in medications and “see if that helps”. No thanks. I’d rather treat the cause and not try and guess based on symptoms.

So more to come! It’s time to get back to some Football watching. My fantasy football team isn’t looking so hot but I’m hoping for a surprise comeback win anyway!🙂


Two Years <3

It’s been two years already! Sometimes you get amazed by how fast the time flies. This past week Ben and I celebrated our second wedding anniversary. It feels like we’ve been together both forever and for just a tiny period of time. It’s been a fabulous two years.

I was working feverishly on another intense project at work when the front desk called to notify me of a “delivery”. I was expecting a nice dinner out somewhere but figured he’d pick up a small bouquet on the way home. Instead I got the craziest, most beautiful roses I’ve ever seen:


When they first arrived it was overcast and gloomy outside so the roses actually looked red. I got home gushing to Ben over my dozen red roses and he looked so confused because he had specifically requested a deep pink! Sure enough, the next morning I went into work and yes, they are pink. Ha! I’ve had lots of visitors stop by to sniff them and offer marital congratulations. I don’t think I received this many well-wishes when we got married!!🙂

Ben did take me out for a quiet dinner. We like to eat out but try and avoid the pricey restaurants and splurge on birthdays and anniversaries. This particular place we haven’t been to since before we were married. Oddly enough, there was only one other couple dining the entire time we were there. There’s a lot of road construction going on downtown so I wonder if that’s keeping people out of the area?


That just means a night of quiet and peaceful dining with my love. Not a bad way to spend a Monday night.

We started off with a variety of restaurant-made breads. Ben opted for the asiago while I tried a piece of the olive and a piece of the cranberry walnut. They were served with finely grated parmesan cheese surrounded by olive oil and balsamic.


My salad had a nice variety of colored tomatoes and good blue cheese dressing.


Our fancy steaks, called the “Black and Tan” (namesake of the restaurant).


I was disappointed with my steak. We both were. When you pay a lot for a tiny piece of meat you want it to be tender and really flavorful. My tenderloin was disappointingly chewy. I don’t think we’ll be back to this place again. It’s so peaceful and pretty to go to – with fun views of the town – but for the quality we’ve found better options. No biggie. That’s how you learn where to dine.

The lovebirds❤



I swear he gets cuter every day.❤❤

I was so excited ALL DAY for one thing though: my surprise anniversary cake! I called the baker who made our wedding cake and asked if she could whip up a little anniversary cake for us. They are a really nice size and only $15. I selected the buttermilk white with white chocolate filling and an Italian meringue frosting. (One of the flavors we had at our wedding).

When I opened the box up, I saw she had decorated the sides to mimic our actual wedding cake! What a special extra step.


This was such an amazing deal. I bought a single layer basic white cake from a bakery a few months ago and it was $20 with probably half as much cake and no decoration. Last year we went to a local bakery and picked a chocolate cake out together for our anniversary. That cake was good, had some layers, but also over $20. This one was cheaper, tastier, and had FOUR whopping layers. We’ll be eating anniversary cake all week… not that eating good cake is a bad thing. I’ll probably be sad when this is gone and want some more.🙂


I’m happy to tell you that this year I remembered an actual anniversary card. Yes, I’m the girl who had her first anniversary written everywhere and was counting down until the day-of when she FORGOT all about it. I walked through the door, saw a big bouquet and a card sitting on the table and cringed. Not this year. Not only did Ben get a sweet card but I bought him a new hairbrush too.

Because nothing says “I love you” like a hairbrush, right?

Happy anniversary Ben. I love you.

The History of Pittsburgh


Good morning – here’s a tasty treat picture for those of you who feel like zombies this morning due to lack of sleep… Like me. Normally I can sleep through storms but last night’s was particularly loud and we were both in and out for most of the night. Anyway the above treats were from that little Italian pastry shop in Pittsburgh. We had cannoli that they fill on the spot (half a lemon ricotta and half a chocolate mousse) and then the lightest and airiest cheesecake. Ummm delicious!

Pittsburgh is called the City of Bridges and although I will debate that title with City of Hills, there were a lot of bridges. We decided to venture downtown for a “brief” outing to get another one of the banner missions in the GPS game Ingress that we play. It was supposed to take 1-2 hours max but nothing in that game ever seems to go as planned… That’s how some of the best memories are made folks – through unexpected chaos!

We had to start out by one of the local parks. It’s a very odd phenomenon compared to flat and somewhat sprawling Green Bay. We exited one of the huge bridges and immediately were at the park. Boom. We had to pay to park in the lot and then it was somewhat of a hike to get to the actual spot – which included walking under bridges.

I sort of think we look like zombies heading towards the light…



We spent the next FIVE hours (not the 1-2 as planned) walking all over downtown Pittsburgh. There is quite a lot of interesting history in this city.


The park was built over the area of Fort Duquesne. I’m not sure if you can read the seal below but it says “This marks the exact site of Fort Duquesne, built by the French in 1754. The fort was destroyed by the French on the approach of the English army in 1758″.  After the site was destroyed, it was replaced by Fort Pitt in 1758. Now we just have a random park commemorating the area…



Amid a curious background of bridges and skyscrapers. It feels like a quiet piece of calm while the city blurs all around it.


Another hefty bridge separated the sides of the park. When you walk under the bridge is so thick and insulated that you really don’t hear the road noise above.


On the other side was the Fort Pitt museum. We didn’t go inside but did grab a quick shot of the menfolk by the cannon. Because boys love toys right?


The only historical building still standing is preserved and run by the Daughters of the American Revolution. Since I just so happen to be one, I thought I should be in this picture.


The rest of the day was a hazy blur of finding locations and winding our way through town. It was a pretty warm day and when you’re in the heart of downtown there’s a real food desert. All the gas stations and fast food stores close down over the weekend so trying to find a bathroom or a place to buy bottled water was impossible. About 3 hours into our adventure (and 12,000 steps on the pedometer), we located a dirty 7-11 that didn’t have a rest room but did have water. Hallelujah!

At the end of our misery fun trek all over town, we fell into the hot car and drove over to Heinz field for the weekend Rib Festival. The place was LOADED with festival goers and we had eyes on the freshly squeezed lemonades and BBQ eats. Luckily there were a zillion lemonade stands and armed with deliciously cold beverages, we then stood in line for 40 minutes to get our BBQ plates!


The line-up of all the BBQ joints:


I was really interested in good Texas BBQ so we lined up for a place that had a ton of ribbons for “Best BBQ”, etc… We didn’t notice until we got closer that those ribbons were all from 5-10 years ago. Hmmm

After collecting our plates, the tired troops slugged back to the parking lot to set up a little table and chairs and enjoy our food.


It smelled delicious, it looked delicious, it tasted atrocious. I’ve never really had “bad” BBQ but this was it. The meat felt like it hadn’t cooked long enough to tenderize and there were huge pieces of chewy fat that you couldn’t separate from the meat. We were pretty defeated and had aching feet so we picked around on our plates before tossing 90% in the trash and went back home for cold showers, homemade sangria, frozen pizza, and Mexican dominos.




It was a peculiar but memorable day, that’s for sure. I’m sure that’s what we’ll remember and joke about years from now when we look back on this visit together.🙂 Plus the 16,500 steps probably helped burn off some of the calories from all that cheesecake!

Our last day together was pretty relaxed. Nicole made us some delicious lasagna. She even made the sauce herself. I’m such a terrible hostess. Ha ha. I think I had build-your-own deli sandwiches when they came to visit.


The day was a little sad because we didn’t want to leave. It’s hard knowing it will be a while until we see each other again…

Final smiles!


Our last minutes in Steel Town were spent watching the Cardinals slaughter the Pirates in the TGIFridays restaurant in the airport terminal.


My team was winning and Ben was enjoying a pre-flight beer – not a bad way to end a vacation!

Until next time Pittsburgh!

Not so Laborious Weekend in Pittsburgh

Happy Football Season! It’s way too early for football season but here we are and the days march along. Ben’s settled in on the couch to watch the game and I thought it would be good to catch you up on our fun weekend away from home.

I’ve blogged about it before but we met an amazing couple on our honeymoon a few years ago and feel like we’ve been best friends forever. It’s hard to be away so we’ve tried to get together when we can. They invited us to come to Pittsburgh over Labor Day weekend and we’ve been excited all Summer waiting for the weekend to arrive.

Before I even start tackling the trip, I have this weird/amusing thing to share. Ben and I have been lightly toying with the idea of doing some extensive remodeling in our house (i.e. kitchen, all three bathrooms, the basement, all the flooring up and down stairs, the windows, and the roof). All of these projects come with a giant price tag so we’ve been just window shopping more than anything else. But a couple months ago I found this beautiful kitchen counter top that I loved. It’s terribly pricey so probably not what we’d end up with… but I’m wondering if it’s a good or bad sign that it was used as the decor in the Minneapolis airport bathrooms?


It was EVERYWHERE. They actually had quartz lining the entire back wall of the bathroom stall. CRAZY! I don’t know whether be amused or appalled that my counter tops are in a nasty airport bathroom.

Anyway, we were picked up at the airport on Friday night and after lots of hugs and laughter I made them take me to a sandwich restaurant that one of my co-workers had been raving about to me. He swore up and down these were the BEST sandwiches I would ever have and a true taste of Pittsburgh. Sold!


Primanti Brothers is a sandwich chain known for a classic sandwich with meat, french fries and coleslaw all together. It was a whopper!


It was also horrifically dry…


I’m not sure but I think the combo of the huge dry pieces of Texas toast and the french fries along with not-so-saucy coleslaw made it hard to eat. I ate half my sandwich and even that was rough going. It was a pretty big disappointment after so much hype. Boo

We stayed up way too late that first night (OK every night) but it was wonderful sharing stories and falling into an easy rhythm as if we hadn’t been apart. Ben and I are pretty silly and you don’t often find people who surprise you with equal amounts of silly and crazy – like the random monster interrupting me trying to enjoy my morning cup of coffee.


Matt surprised us with his cooking abilities and made us bacon, egg, and cheese bagels for breakfast. They were delicious. I could probably eat one of these every morning and be a happy camper.


Mostly we spent the first day vegging about. We made a special trip to Moio’s pastry shop where we loaded up on decadent weekend desserts. It’s a good thing we don’t have one of those around here or I’d be in serious trouble.


I was really surprised at how hilly Pittsburgh is. I guess I just assumed I’d see a lot of industrial areas and old abandoned steel manufacturing buildings but nothing especially noteworthy about the terrain. It was crazy! All the new construction is built up on hills. Have you ever seen pictures of Greece with those cute little houses all on top of each other? Imagine that with larger and newer homes and you have the Pittsburgh suburbs. I don’t know how they get up the roads in Winter (that would make me crazy) and my ears popped each time we went out for errands because of all the elevation changes.


I have no idea how you’d bike or go for a leisurely walk around here. the picture doesn’t do justice to how steep some of these neighborhood roads were. They had an Italian ice truck with loud Caribbean music come through and I was wondering how that car dealt with the hills. You can see how low the street behind this picture is, as well as the steps in front of this house in relation to the angle of the truck. And this wasn’t even a really steep section of the road…032

I think the steep hills and roads would negate me from ever moving to that area. Sorry my friends! This gal is used to the flat lands of Wisconsin. I like seeing 3 miles down the highway when I’m driving. lol

We sent the boys out for lunch food and they returned with herb and garlic rotisserie chicken and salad fixings. I made myself a delicious chicken salad with balsamic vinaigrette.


After spending most of the day bumming around the house, playing games, and drinking recreations of Mexican cocktails we drank together during past trips, we weren’t in the mood for a large dinner. They took us to a local restaurant with an extensive beer list for Ben. I got a pesto chicken flatbread and swear I took a picture of it… but it’s no where to be found on my phone. I did get this one of my favorite people (sorry for the bad background lighting).


We did take a little meander to downtown Pittsburgh so I’ll try and get those pictures up this weekend. It’s getting late for this lady so time to wrap things up here in blog land.

Tomorrow is Friday! Hurray!

September Already!?

The start of the area school year began today and it was a chilly 58 on the morning drive into the office. Feast or famine when it comes to the weather around here lately. Meanwhile, I’m spending too much time fascinated by TV shows “Beachfront Bargain Hunters” and “Lakefront Bargain Hunt”. I’m completely convinced that we need to find telecommuting jobs, pack up, and move someplace where the winters aren’t so long and terrible. This summer was sticky and humid and didn’t offer many decent days to be outside. So that leaves me with just Spring and Fall for decent weather and as pretty as those seasons are in NE Wisconsin, it’s making for some pretty dark and depressing months/years.

Now if only I could convince Ben to move…

I promised a picture of my delicious birthday meal. Here she is in all her delectable glory:


It was dynamite. My mom makes the most amazing caprese using raw mozzarella from a local farmer and homegrown tomatoes and peppers. Delicious! She also roasted two pans of root veggies and tried a “quick bag” bread recipe where you toss a few ingredients in a bag, shake it up, let it rest, pour into the pan and cook. It turned out pretty well. It was crusty on the outside and not too dense on the inside. I can’t remember the last time I had a full t-bone steak and it was quite the sight seeing 6 mammoth steaks marinating on the counter. MMMmeat

We were invited to an event party with local people that play our GPS game. It was a potluck filled with grilled corn on homemade herb butter, shredded pork and chicken, cheesy potatoes, tons of chips, cookies, bars and fruit, veggie and taco dip trays. Lots of food. Our host has a small dog named Oliver and when everyone gathered in the living room and sat down, Oliver literally made a mad dash to Ben and leaped up onto his lap. Dogs (ok animals in general) love Ben.


I think I mentioned I was finishing up some baby blankets. We’ve had three friends have babies this year and they all had boys. That meant way too much blue yarn. lol I never used to take pictures of the blankets I made for people and I really wish that I did because some of them were really gorgeous.

Anyway here are the two latest and greatest. This blue and grey one went to little baby Everett:


Up close (I love the ripple texture on this):


And this one went to baby B who is due to arrive on Labor Day (and if so, will share a bday with my brother Alex!):


I have a half-finished purple girls blanket thinking that of the three SOMEONE would have a girl but it got abandoned when I figured out what everyone was having and had to crack down to get them completed in time.

And last but certainly not least, here’s a picture I love of me, my mom, and Matt when we were out playing the GPS game together. It was a BRIGHT and sunny day, can’t you tell? Ha Ha!019a

We have a fun weekend planned. There’s nothing like getting that Monday off of work. It feels absolutely decadent and when you do go back into the office, it feels like Monday instead of Tuesday which helps the week FLY by.

Make it a great day!