Monday, January 11, 2010

December Happenings Albeit a Little Late

December was a month filled with fun times, and yet I did not write about any of it. I think I was so busy with other things that there was not time to write. However, now there is no excuse and I think the further I travel away from those events, the more I will forget, so I'm going to do my best now to recount the details.

December 1- First day of not working. Weird. It was sad leaving the practice, my clients and coworkers. It felt funny knowing that I was leaving the position that I had worked my butt off for to another person. However, the overwhelming feeling was relief. I believe I spent the day getting ready for the trip to Florida, so I was pretty busy, but it didn't matter because I could now stay in my pajamas, knowing that I was on a really long vacation.

December 2-6- Traveling South to Visit Dad- After only 2 years and 9 months of being with me, Arlo was going to be meeting my Dad for the first time. Sadly, it had also been about 2 years since I saw my dad last. The visit was long overdue. To recap, the weather was crappy, the food was unhealthy but yummy, and hanging with the dad was great. My dad is now staying with this dude Frank, who is a crotchety 90-some year old man, to take care of him, now that his wife passed away. As his old place was pretty much empty of furniture, Dad wasn't sure if we wanted to stay there, but as serendipity would have it, his neighbor, Pat, was leaving the same day we were arriving, and Pat offered to let us stay in his house. Bonus, there was a golden retriever living there and so we had company and a larger, more rambunctious Marley stand-in. The trip was great. Because the weather was cold and rainy, we spent most of our time indoors and never got out to go on the boat tour that Dad wanted to take us on, and we spent about 5 minutes at the beach. Still, the trip was cool because we got to spend time with Dad, which was the primary purpose. Arlo and Dad got along very well, and Dad seemed pleased with my choice of life partner and future husband. :) So, Mission V.I.M.I.M.L.M. accomplished.

December 7- Green Bay Packers!! 24 hours after coming back from Florida, we were on our way up to chilly Green Bay. It was a Monday night football game against the Ravens, and Arlo scored tickets to it months ago. I had my Packers fleece, my cheesehead, and approximately 4 layers on. We also came prepared with hand and feet warmers and a sleeping bag, just in case. Turns out, people are so packed in, that you stay pretty warm just with the body heat of the people surrounding you, so even though I think it was about 10 degrees, it wasn't so bad (except for my feet, despite the warmers). The game was awesome! I truly did not expect to like it as much as I did. One thing I found weird was that there seemed to be a penalty every few minutes, and asked Arlo if this was normal. He said it was not. We found out later that this was the second highest number of penalty calls in a game EVER. Interesting. Anyway, it was a very exciting game, and the Packers won, so bonus there. I would not say that it made me that much more interested in watching games on t.v. but it was a fantastic experience and one I am grateful to have had.

December 18-20- Chicago!
As I was going to be away for actual Christmas, Arlo and I decided to spend the weekend before in Chicago as our Christmas together. He found an awesome deal on the Wyndham Chicago hotel and we stayed there Friday and Saturday nights. Friday we went to Gino's East, where we had Chicago deep dish pizza and played Phase 10. If I knew I was dying in a few days, I would make sure to eat as much deep dish pizza as I could, that stuff is delicious! Anyway, because we ate so much for lunch, we decided to go light for dinner (at least portion-wise) and I fould a place that looked like it had a good happy hour. It indeed did. There was a tapas bar with paella for $2, and since the food was so cheap, I actually splurged on a drink, which I rarely do, and opted for this drink that had rum, lime, sugarcane, and something spicy, though now I forget what. Freakin awesome. After stuffing ourselves again, we headed back to the hotel, stopping at Trader Joe's on the way for rations for later, because, hey, you never know when you are going to get hungry again, right? I think we also swam that night in the hotel pool.
On Saturday we spent the day shopping and looking at Christmas decorations. Though we didn't buy much, or really anything, we had fun. I honestly can't remember where we went to eat for lunch, but I know we had hot buns (insert joke here) from some Asian hot buns place (hey oh!). Now, onto the dinner! I picked the restaurant, but was based heavily on Arlo's desire to go. For those of you who watched Top Chef Masters, you may remember Graham Elliot Bowles, the tatooed rotund dude with cool glasses who made some rockin' food. He has a restaurant in Chicago, Graham Elliot, and Arlo wanted a chance to go. I am usually not a fan of spending absurd amounts of money on food, because I can like a burrito from the local Mexican joint just as much, but I knew it would make him happy and, like the Packers game, it would be something we would always remember. So, we went. It was amazing. Okay, now I am going to have to wax Andrej for a moment when I talk about dinner. First of all, instead of bread while you wait, they serve you popcorn with grated cheese, cracked black pepper, and truffle oil. So far, I am in! For appetizers, Arlo opted for the heirloom beets with arugala, pickled pears and horseradish froth, and I had the cheddar risotto with granny smith applese, bratwurst, carmelized onions, and crushed cheez-its on top. I loved mine, and he loved his, though we didn't do too much sharing, as he liked mine, but not vice versa. For the main course, he had the pork belly with artisan grits, fried pickles, collard greens, and a rootbeer barbeque sauce. I had the sea scallops over french lentils and a cauliflower puree, topped with raisin chutney and crushed almonds. I think both of us ate slower than we usually do just to savor the flavors, they were that good. Finally for dessert, we had the "orange dreamsicle" which was blood orange gelee topped with key lime meringue, fresh blood oranges, mexican vanilla, and vanilla icecream. Un-freakin-believable. It was amazing. Bonus, Graham Elliot walked around and I got to gawk at him for a bit, though I didn't ask for a picture with him, though I wanted to. Andrej-esque descriptions aside, it was one of the best meals I have eaten and we both had a fabulous time. The next day, Arlo treated me to breakfast before heading back. It was a fantastic weekend.
December 23-28- Back East!
I had been on the fence about going home for Christmas this year, as I was going to be returning so soon for good, but after much internal struggle, I decided to go for it. This was based mostly on three things. 1. My grandfather hasn't been doing well lately and I was concerned that this might be his last Christmas. 2. Underwood Christmas. 3. Ricky and fam were going to be there for the first time ever for Christmas. It was a great trip, and I was able to see everyone I wanted to see, spend time with my mom, and bonus, look at bridesmaids' dresses with my best ladies, Wendy and Amanda.
December 31- New Year's Eve with Arlo and Jerry!
On the final day of Decem-fun-ber, I spent the day with Arlo and his dad came up and joined us for the afternoon shopping. After that, we came back to our place where we exchanged Christmas presents. Arlo and I had picked up king crab legs and shrimp, and we had a feast for dinner. Then, an hour later, we broke into Jerry's main Christmas present and made home-made sushi. It was a lot of fun. Arlo got everything needed to make the sushi and we made our novice attempt at creating vegetable and fake crab rolls. They actually turned out pretty decent. We rang in the new year and then watched The Hangover, which was pretty good, but definitely not worth the hype (sorry if you loved it...see I Love You, Man, or Role Models, which I think are much better).

Alright, I think that's about it for December. So far January has been pretty awesome too, although I'm beginning to freak out a bit about the lack of money coming in. Thinking of heading down to the blood bank and seeing how much I can get per pint. I would sell my slankets, but I'm not sure if that's fiscally worth it. What would you suggest for making money?

Peace out, yo! I will add stuff about January, like the visit to Debbie and Mary's place in Sparta, probably in, like, February or something.

P.S. Check out the sweet chef's coat I got for Arlo for Christmas!!!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Mom's Second Visit West!

I've been pretty busy lately, mostly tying up loose ends at work, but I wanted to post about the really fun visit from Mom a mere week ago. This week has seemed so long, it feels like at least two weeks ago. Anyway, Arlo at work, cats and dog quiet, seems like a good time to turn off the trashy television shows and reflect. Speaking of reflecting, I had a bizarre dream and it's made me really paranoid that I don't reflect on my actions, how they affect others, and what's been happening, nearly enough. Hopefully with my time off in a week (!) I will be doing more of that. Onto the visit!
Thursday night Mom arrived, mostly so that she didn't have to travel on Friday the 13th. Picked her up after working all day, and Arlo was awesome and made an incredible squash soup with biscuits. We relaxed and I think went to bed really early. Mom stayed in Marley's room and Marley stayed with the sitter.
Friday morning, lazy morning, got a late start. We hung out, ate kringle, played with the accordian (yes, that is my mother playing Arlo's toy accordian). I took Mom to Cedar Valley Cheese Store, where we ate our weight in cheese samples. They had a paltry display by Cedar Valley standards... only a mere 12 varieties to sample. It was delicious! After that we headed to Cedarburg, a place that, upon first glance, I was certain my mother would love. It did not disappoint. We ate lunch at a restaurant in a restored barn, called Anvil Pub, and then drank wine samples from Cedar Creek Winery. After that, we went through three FLOORS of boutique shops. I think my mom could have actually stayed there all day, and the only thing that made her want to leave was the prospect of more shopping out on the main street. We spent the rest of the day shopping until we headed back home in time for a fish fry. That night, Arlo, Mom, and I met up with Jerry, Arlo's dad, at Lakefront Brewery, which has a Friday night fish fry and live polka music. It was a lot of fun, and it gave Mom the polar opposite of the first fish fry at Cliff's, a restaurant that has about 8 tables, in that it probably had 50 family-style tables, was crazy busy and really loud. Now, she's had both ends of the spectrum.

Saturday, Arlo, Mom, and me went to tea at Watt's Tearoom. Arlo's first experience with tea, and it was a pretty good one. It's funny, it feels like everything is bigger in Wisconsin. Here, the tea sandwiches are huge, like actual sandwiches, and on the dessert tray, there was an entire slice of cake. For anyone who has been to tea, you would know that that's strange to see. From there, we went to Miller Brewing Company, where we went on a tour of the brewery and then had free samples. As you can see from the pictures, the samples too were huge, at least for samples. We had a good time and Mom enjoyed looking around the gift shop. We went home for a bit to hang out and relax our bellies before heading out again to eat, this time to Mader's. Last time Mom was here with Marylou, we took them to Carl Ratsches, so this time it was Mader's, the other really well-know Milwaukee German restaurant. We had some of the best food I have had in a long time, and everyone had a nice time talking and eating off of eachother's plates. Afterwards, we hung out at home, watching t.v. and relaxing.

Sunday, Mom and I went to go shopping yet again. This time, she took me to Stein Mart, a place that I've never been to, but where I found at least a few Christmas presents. Finally, shopping bug satiated, we returned home to relax a bit before the flight. For dinner, we took Mom to Jalapeno Loco, a local (and loco!) Mexican restaurant. I mean, why not round out her ethnic experience, right? After another awesome meal, we dropped Mom off at the airport for her flight.

It was a really fun weekend and a nice break for all of us. I don't want to rush time, but I am looking forward to this next week being over so that I can be blissfully unemployed. I hope everyone is doing well on the East coast (and uber East coast). Take care, y'all.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Home For Christmas

Well, it's official...I am coming home for Christmas. I was on the fence about it, for many reasons great and small, but in the end, I decided it would be just too sad to not be home for the holiday. Arlo is staying here to be with his family and hold down the fort (and the pets). I will be heading in on December 23 and staying until December 28. This should give me just enough time to visit all of my family and friends, give and receive presents, eat way too much, and talk way too much about the wedding.

My last day of work is official as well...on November 30, I will be leaving the clinic. I can't believe that there is only two and a half weeks left. For the last month, time has flown by. I have a lot to wrap up in the end, and the nice thing is that there is a new therapist who will be working with most of my clients, so I am not leaving them feeling completely abandoned. She's a great therapist and I feel very comfortable having her continue the work with them. Whether or not one of my clients actually attacks her out of anger for taking my place is another question. I'm not sure what I'm going to do (if anything) for money for the remaining time in Wisconsin, but I'm not going to worry about it now, at least not for the month of December. Because, check out what I have to look forward to! My mom is visiting us this weekend to enjoy Wisconsin goodness one more time. In early December, Arlo and I are going to be heading to Florida to visit my dad, and the day after we get back we are going to my first Packers game. After that, we are heading to Chicago for the weekend and staying at the Wyndham for our Christmas present to ourselves, and then home for Christmas. Happy December!!!! I am so excited, I can hardly stand it, there's so much to look forward to!

Alright, peeps, what do you have going on in December? Also, what are your thoughts on presents this year? Love them? Hate them? Not sure how I feel about homemade presents this year, but I'm not entirely opposed or planning on it. We'll see how those three weeks in December go, with everything else.

I hope all is going well with everyone on the East Side. Take care, y'all!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Whole Lotta Stuff

Hey Y'all, it's been ages since I posted all over you (icky visual inserted here), and tonight I am shirking work, exercise, and the chance at an early night's sleep to blog about what has been happening. I am going to go in reverse order, telling you what happened today and going backwards from there. This is going to be so exciting! Oh, and I'm going to try to type it up in as short of a description as possible.

Today- Okay day, lots of talking and listening, late night at work.

Yesterday- The cats contemplated trying to get through the foot-wide opening left uncovered of our doorway at around seven feet off of the ground, at 10:30 at night. These cats are insane.

This past weekend- Andrew Bird, awesome, yet unfortunately sleepy (for me) show at The Pabst, professional massage, going to the gym and errands galore, including covering the windows with plastic, while the weather is still tolerable.

Last week- Still exhausted from the trip home, just tried to catch up at work, but was not as productive as I would have liked. Nothing really notable about the week, other than Arlo and I watched a buttload of tv because we had so much DVRed. Oh, and the battle between the cats and the humans in our house continued with the cats knocking over a pot of chili onto the kitchen floor. The next day, the humans responded by getting plywood and hardware. Ideally, I wouldn't have gone with three separate pieces, but with the wood coming only in __ x 2 dimensions, I did what I had to do.

Visit to Maryland- Prior to last week, Arlo and I visiting Maryland. After a harrowing flight... no really, it wasn't bad, we got right to sleep, b/c we got in so late. The next morning we were up with my mom to take her to work and do our first meeting with a caterer. That day we did three meetings, the next day one (should have been two, but we were all tasted out), and a visit to Fiore. We pretty much decided unanimously to go with Dean and Brown Catering, but have not signed a contract, why, because we haven't had time. The Baptism of Eleanor Blackford was lovely, and I got to stand up there with Bill and Amanda as they welcomed her into the Catholic church. All joking aside, it was very cool to be standing with them for such an important event, and to be in the same church as their wedding six years ago was pretty awesome. Other highlights of the trip included seeing my cousins, grandparents, brother and his family, sister-in-law, and the Holler family. I am bummed that I did not get to see friends and family that I missed, and, at present, I am not sure when I am going to be heading home for the next visit.

Visit with Wendy- The weekend before the Maryland visit was Wendy's visit to Milwaukee! She arrived on Friday (after I gave my notice of resignation at work, thank you very much!) and we headed up to Madison, where we stayed in a beautiful hotel overlooking Lake Monona. After a yummy Mexican meal, we went to a German bar, where we had drinks and danced the polka. The next day, the best thrifting ever, along with shopping on State St. and going to the farmer's market. We drove back to Milwaukee and crashed for the night. The next day, Wendy was off. It was a whirlwind trip, but definitely awesome and just what I needed after a stressful couple of weeks. It was quality lady-time, with lots of talking and bonding.

Gays Mills Apple Festival- The weekend before that, we headed up to Gays Mills for their annual Apple Festival. It was a fun-filled weekend with a Fun Walk, pancake breakfast, craft fair, flea market and, of course, apples! We spent the weekend with Arlo's family, and on Sunday, celebrated his niece's and Mary's birthday. It was a great time, although both of us were fighting off an icky sicknesss. After that weekend, I actually felt so bad I stayed home from work for a day.

I honestly can't remember before that, but I know we were busy then, too. The upcoming weeks are less packed with stuff. My mom is visiting in mid-November, so I am excited about that. Then, in December, we are visiting my dad in Florida. More about that later.

Alright, y'alls, I'm off to bed. New dad or Japan resident, or sneak-attack Mom of a toddler, who will it be?!?!?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I Have Been Cheating...

I am so sorry, dear blogger readers, for my lack of postings. I have to admit that I have been cheating on this blog with another one...The Knot. I have become somewhat obsessed with wedding planning of late, and a side effect of that is way too much time spent on sites like The Knot. Seeing as how I was spending a lot of time there, I decided to start a blog. Check it out if you have time, though it doesn't have too much information yet, and there's no opportunity for snarky or silly comments or beating people to the comment section, which is a drawback. Anyway, here's the address:

Basically, it has that the wedding will be on June 12, 2010, at Fiore Winery, and the reception will be there as well. Nothing else has been planned and we are not even sure about a start time or anything like that. I have asked Wendy and Amanda to be my Maid of Honor and Matron of Honor, respectively. I believe each are equally important and therefore they are both of honor to me. Arlo has not yet chosen his wedding party, so I didn't fill out that section. Obviously we haven't registered yet, booked a hotel for out-of-towners, or really anything else other than book the site. I think we are doing pretty well though, considering the planning is happening from out-of-state. Ah, the wedding...I could go on, but will show constraint.

Let's see..other, non-wedding, but equally important, things going on right now...

Arlo and I went and visited his mother and Mary in Sparta, Wisconsin. We had a great time and even got a chance to see his niece and nephew. The first night there, we had a fish fry at The Oasis and celebrated our engagement with the family. The next day, we took Garrick and Lauren to Chucky Cheese, which Arlo deemed a casino for children. The kids played their tokens as quickly as humanly possible and there was fun for all with only one tantrum when Lauren wanted to put in the long strip of tickets into the ticket counter machine. That night we had dinner at Debbie and Mary's house and a campfire afterwards. Sunday we hung out and then had a yummy dinner at Sally and Jamie's house Sunday night. In between all of these eating events, we took the kids to the park, Arlo and Jamie played tennis, and we played a lot of Wii sports and Wii fit. I found out that I am terrible at baseball, but I'm a kickass ski jumper. It was difficult to go back to work after that, especially because I think I caught a little bug at the germ-factory that is Chucky Cheese.

This weekend Arlo and I had a yardsale to get rid of extra stuff that we schleped here and didn't want to schlep back. We actually did pretty well, mostly due to Arlo's and Arlo's dad's cds. Arlo was scheduled to work every night this weekend, so I went down to Racine to have dinner with him before work and then hang out at the bar and knit so that we could spent just a little more time together. Now it's Sunday night and I am not at all motivated to go to work tomorrow, but I guess I have to get motivated really quickly, since tomorrow's a pretty big day, with five clients, two of whom are new, and one of whom may possibly attack me violently. Yay social work!

As much as I am not looking forward to tomorrow, I am looking forward to the next several weekends. Check it out....this weekend we have Brew Fest in Racine, with over 250 beers, music, and food; the following weekend is Apple Festival in Gays Mills, WI, the weeken after that, Wendy is visiting and the weekend after that we are coming home for a visit!!! While in Baltimore, we will go to Eleanor Blackford's baptism, where I will promise, as Officially Awesome God Mother, to raise her in the Catholic faith should Amanda and Bill perish (God forbid). The rest of the time will be spent meeting with caterers, tasting food and cake, and going to Fiore to check out the site of our future wedding, which brings us full circle, back to The Knot and my obsession with the wedding.

Let the comments commence....

Monday, August 24, 2009

Arlo's Proposal Post, Punctuality a Plus!

It may have taken him a while, but he finished his post today! Check it out here at I have to say, it's awesome! It goes into a fair amount more detail than mine, but it really is his story to tell, so this makes sense. I highly recommend checking it out for some he said/she said comparison, and a view into the incredible effort and thought Arlo put into creating a wonderful proposal (ooohh, and the pictures!). Not only that, but stick around for Arlo's reviews of movies, music, and all things pop culture. Take care, y'all and talk to you soon!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The End of Summer in Wisconsin

Hello, it's like, 50 degrees outside right now. It's August! This has supposedly been the coldest weather in Wisconsin in something like 10 years, and I am here for it. My tomatoes finally started growing, and because they are heirloom, they can take 90 days to mature, so that means, November? We'll have several feet of snow by then. Alas, it is still August, and I am really hoping that the warm(ish) weather sticks around for at least a bit longer. Arlo and I have some fun activities coming up, and after being alone pretty much the last three weeks, I could use some enjoyable times with him. We get engaged and I don't see him anymore! Wait, I hope that doesn't mean something...

Anyway, this next weekend we will be heading up to Spring Green to see an outdoor play at the American Players Theater. The play is on Sunday and so we are either going to be camping or checking out a local bed and breakfast to make a weekend of it. That decision will be made once we have a better idea of what is happening with our crazy weather, so that we are not camping in the 40's. The weekend after that is Labor Day weekend, and we are heading to his mom's and his sister's places in Lacrosse. Hmmm...what else are we looking forward to? Well, in September we have Brewfest in Racine with Arlo's dad, Jerry, where we will drink lots of beer and eat awesomely bad for you but delicious midwest food. Then, we have Apple Festival in Gaysmills, Wisconsin (Bill, insert jokes here). This is an annual Horton tradition, complete with flea market, loads of apples, and a pancake breakfast! I actually feel sorry for people on the East Coast who do not to get have Honeycrisp apples, which are so good that Arlo used to get them shipped to him when he lived in Maryland.

October has Wendy visiting for the first weekend, with a Ladies Weekend in Madison. It will be fun exploring an area I'm not really familiar with, with the lovely lady, Wendy. The next weekend is Andrew Bird in concert, and I think the third weekend may be a trip to the East Coast, though I haven't shared this possibility with Arlo yet. I really think we need to come back to Maryland before Thanksgiving, because I don't want to choose a caterer without trying their food, and I am thinking that we could come and check out caterers and other vendors who need to be booked SOON! Speaking of vendors, I think we may have a location. I still need to check out a few more places, but Fiore, which is definitely in the budget and way cool, is available on June 12, so that could be the place and the date. If this works out, then we can start planning around that, and send out Save the Date cards (STD cards if you're nasty). Anyway, as has been happening lately, I have completely digressed and started off on a tangent about the wedding. This has been happening A LOT. I have determined that all of the books, magazines, and websites have become wedding porn for me. I'm completely addicted.

Back to the immediate future plans! November, we are going to visit my dad in Florida, which will be awesome! Arlo's never met my dad, and I am super excited for the two of them to connect and get to know each other. No other plans for November at this point, but sometime in the October/November region my mom will be visiting. I keep telling her that sooner is better than later, as she has already experienced Wisconsin in the winter, but she maintains that this is when she wants to visit. She has been warned! December I will be home for Christmas, probably for an extended vacation.

So, that's the plan for the next few months. The summer has definitely been fun-filled and busy. I have not quite made the progress on Christmas gifts that I had wanted, but I am slowly knitting my way forward. I started to re-think things when Amanda suggested that perhaps I not do home-made Christmas gifts this year, and I think that perhaps not everyone will be getting something home-made (Kevin, of course will, as he demands it). I figure I will be making plenty for the wedding, so it may be better not to stress about Christmas.

This post has been way longer than I intended, and it's getting late, so I should be going. After all, I still need to clean the kitchen, do the dishes, and take M dawg out for a W-A-L-K. I hope you are all well, and talk to you soon!!!!! Oh, and for those of you who say, Jen, you have posted twice, and Arlo STILL hasn't posted about the engagement, what gives?...I rationalize this by saying that Arlo just got home from Spring Green with his dad yesterday, worked last night, tonight, and will work tomorrow, so he probably won't post until Monday. However, check back then!