My Life in Pictures

Will the excuse that I’m getting married in 18 days suffice as a valid reason for my lack of updates? I sure hope so! Despite planning for our wedding for over a year, this past month has kept me on my toes with last minute details and purchases. It’s all been lots of fun, but it hasn’t left me with time for much else but eating, working, and sleeping! This morning I’ve had some time to whip together a quick blog post, and I wanted to show you some snapshots of my life from the past few weeks.

Leftover flowers from a work event brighten up my living room | An evening snapshot of a city I love
                A beautiful sky accompanying a drive home | My very first Twins game
A bright purple flower in my neighbor’s yard | Retail therapy at CosmoProf
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Little Flowers and Life Lessons

There is a common theme to many of my favorite activities, a theme which has a bit of resonance as a life lesson, too (more on that later). The common denominator among most of my favorite activities is that the payoff is the result of my own work; the finished product is of my own making. I enjoy cooking because it takes a calculated process to reach the delicious outcome, I take pleasure in painting my nails because it requires patience but the end result is a small example of my own personal style on every nail.

Another of my favorite activities includes gardening, and this too follows the same theme – after careful planting, daily waterings, and a bit of TLC – you are left with something you can take away from it all: a flower, a vegetable, an herb, you decide. I am still learning lots about gardening. I don’t consider myself overly knowledgeable about the subject – not to mention, I have very little space to indulge this hobby of mine – but this spring and summer I have taken what space I have, and  and I gave my green thumb a workout.

This last week I was overjoyed to find that I had a small bit of success with my new hobby, and I wanted to share with you my very own, homegrown wildflowers that I am embarrassingly proud of.

This guy was a tad overenthusiastic about blooming.

This beauty is smaller than a penny.

I mentioned earlier that there is a life lesson somewhere in all of these hobbies of mine – and I realized this as I studied my brand new flowers. So here it goes: Sometimes it’s easy to get down about the lemons life has handed you, the position you’re in, or maybe you’re just in a rut. Feeling that way is tough, and getting to a point where you’ve made tasty lemonade out of a bad situation, changed your predicament, or shoved your way out of the rut is never easy. And this is where my flowers taught me a valuable lesson that I’ve known all along, but this time I saw it in a brand new way. I planted those teeny wildflower seeds nearly two months ago. Through storms, wind, hail, and hellish heat the seedlings grew secretly under layers of dirt, and just when I’d given up and assumed I clearly had much more to learn about gardening – out bloomed a multitude of gorgeous flowers rising to meet the sun they so deserved.

The road to success and happiness often appears to be easy because normally we handle our problems and failures privately (or under layers of dirt, if you will) – but once we achieve our goals and have something to show, we bloom for all to see. The road is never easy, and fulfilling a goal or achieving something worthy of pride takes storms and heat to test your determination.

If you have the resolve and keep your eyes to the sky – you can achieve beautiful results. Beautiful results will happen when you stay focused, give it your all, and push yourself to new limits.

My little flowers, my big teachers. This is why I have such passion for activities that require work for the pay off – the lessons learned are always worth the effort.

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What’s For Dinner: Fiesta Quinoa Salad

I’ve always enjoyed trying new recipes and cooking or baking when my schedule allows. Fortunately, I’ve found a guy who also enjoys exploring new recipes with me. Jake is a great sport with all the kitchen adventures, and he is a big help in the kitchen, too – chopping, mixing, and stirring faithfully.

This weekend was no different. Jake did the chopping, and I prepared the sauces and sides, and together we made an absolutely delicious meal that I found on Pinterest. I present to you: Fiesta Quinoa Salad

 This delicious dinner is full of vibrant colors thanks to a smattering of different ingredients including corn, red onion, cilantro, red bell pepper, and more. This is a super healthy meal that is popping with flavor. Jake and I both thought it tasted a lot like a burrito bowl from Chipotle. It’s safe to say we’ll be making this again.

As a side, we made another yummy treat: Zucchini Parmesan.

It’s super simple. All you have to do is cut the zucchini in to whatever shape you wish, spritz the pieces with spray-butter, and top with parmesan cheese!

Pop them in the oven to broil for 1-2 minutes and….wa-lah..

Our Zucchini Parmesan was not as crispy as the picture shown on the recipe,  most likely due to the fact we didn’t have aluminum foil to line the cooking sheet, and the heavier parmesan we used, but they were an awesome side dish regardless!

Our other sides included fresh raspberries and bing cherries. We were so stuffed from our meal (quinoa is so filling!), we could barely finish the zucchini. Healthy meals like this make me feel like a rockstar. It’s so nice to be full without feeling fast-food-full, or weighed down. Also, this meal is proof that eating healthy doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice taste or a full stomach!

What’s your favorite healthy meal?

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Tuesday Tunes: Kimbra

 

This is not a new video by any means, but this song has been playing through my head this week and it is SO catchy! Kimbra’s “Settle Down” is my favorite off her CD, Vows. I actually had not watched this video until just a bit ago, but it is so wonderfully creepy that I needed to post it here.

I spent a good chunk of last night creating a playlist for the trek to Jake’s family cabin, which I am excited to finally be saying we’re visiting this weekend! It’s a weekend I look forward to year round, and I can’t believe how quickly this year’s trip crept up on me. It doesn’t feel so long since we were there in 2011! Needless to say, Kimbra’s “Settle Down” made the playlist for our travels. The fun beat fits well with the list of other tunes that make you groove, perfect for our nearly five hour drive. 

What’s on your summer playlist?

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Busy Bee Brianna

These past couple weeks have kept me very busy. The kind of busy where at the end of the work day, my brain just hasn’t had the oomph to write a blog post. In fact, some nights I came home and couldn’t even look at my computer – I’d spend the night reading or eating dinner with Jake just discussing our days with no technology blaring behind us. Although, the start of this week has allowed me a bit of time to recharge and I felt the blog writing pangs kick in.

Kendal and I after her graduation

At the beginning of the craziness in the last couple weeks was my sister’s high school graduation. On a beautiful June evening, my sister Kendal graduated from my high school alma mater with plenty of pomp and circumstance. It was interesting to attend the graduation of new seniors from my former, beloved high school, just five years after I did the very same thing. Jake also attended the same high school, so we spent a lot of time remembering back to our own graduations and senior year of high school. It was a fantastic weekend overall.

Last week was what really kept me busy. I spent the work week putting together a big event that my company was planning and managing. Last Friday, the Nature Valley Grand Prix bike race took place in Uptown, and my company planned and managed a party for friends and family of one of the team’s racers. Food, drinks, and bike racing were had! It was SO much fun, but it was a lot of hard work – which never feels so bad when you work with awesome people like I do. The event took place in a totally raw retail space, so we spent the better part of the week preparing the space and making it fit for our client.

The transformation went something like this:

Day one: Dust. So.Much.Dust. This dusty space required lots of sweeping and cleaning, and while it can’t be seen in this picture, the draping team came in to start the first real transformation of the area.

Day two: Chairs and the beginnings of draping can be seen, which really set the tone. The space, even unfinished, began to look industrial-chic and party ready!

Finished product: Draping finished, linens set, floral arrangements placed, chandelier hanging, televisions on – and boom! It’s party time! I think we all were a bit blown away by how amazing it looked when it was all said and done – especially me, because I am not good at envisioning the finished product before it’s done (something I absolutely hate!).

The event went well, and the racing team did well, too – so it was a successful night, indeed! This week we play catch up in the office, life settles down a tiny bit, and as other work events creep up closer, busy-ness also creeps closer, too. Fortunately, I enjoy being busy. 🙂

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My First Bridal Shower…and other fun things!

Last week was really awesome. I don’t have any other better way to describe it other than awesome. You really can’t go wrong when your week starts out with a holiday on Monday, and that means a four day weekend for Jake and I! By Monday, we were pretty bored – but we made our own fun; We went for a walk, and hit up the Salvation Army sale (we love to thrift), and Jake whipped up a wonderful dinner of sloppy joes, deviled eggs, and veggies (all by himself!) to cap off our Memorial Weekend. It was also the anniversary of the  day we got engaged just a year ago! How time flies!

Wednesday was equally awesome because it was our three year anniversary. Jake and I had agreed not to get one another gifts, since all our extra money is being saved for wedding funds, and neither of us could think of anything we desperately wanted or needed. After work, I waited for Jake to get home and he was running about 20 minutes later than usual. I didn’t think much of it, especially since he took a different bus home so I figured it might run a bit differently. But sure enough, he came through the door carrying these (and effectively making me look like a jerk for sticking to our no gifts rule)…

The little yellow pom-poms are one of my favorite kinds of flower!

Thursday evening continued in the week’s trend of awesomeness when my friends Paul, Katie, and a new friend – Michael came over to see our new place and dine with us. We had pizza and wine, and caught up on life, as it had been way too long since we had done just that. The Billboard hits of 1997-98 played in the background, and we had a splendid time!

Jake and I ran lots of errands on Friday and Saturday, but on Sunday we headed home for my first bridal shower with his family. Having my own shower was a very bizarre experience, only because it seems I’ve been to a million other showers for various family members, and many of Jake’s family members, too… but here I was at a shower just for me. Needless to say, it was lots of fun, and I am so thankful to have this big family welcome me with open arms. Here are some pictures from the day!

Let the shower festivities begin!

My soon to be cousin in laws – there’s a soon to be sister in law in there, too!

My moms!

Jake made an appearance, too!

It was such a fun time – and now the battle is finding places for all the fun gifts we got! So many wine glasses and wine corks to use, and of course new wines to try! We have lots of new recipes to experiment with thanks to the many cookbooks we got, and some new kitchen items to help us do just that! We received so many other wonderful gifts that are super exciting to me, but I would probably bore you all to tears if I listed them off!

All in all, it was a stellar week! Time is whizzing by – there are just 109 days left until the wedding, just a few minor details which need to be worked out planning-wise, and the summer is young so there is still lots of fun to be had… I think it’s going to be a great one!

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Tuesday Tunes: John Mayer

Last week John Mayer’s fifth album, Born and Raised, hit stores and let me tell you – it is AMAZING. It is no secret I am a big John Mayer fan… I’ve seen him three times in concert, and have racked up lots of plays on my last.fm account – but I think I’m still able to know when a CD of his is pure gold, or has room for improvement. So I promise you can trust my judgement. 😉

I chose the song The Age of Worry for this week’s Tuesday Tunes because I think it’s so fitting for this time in my life. Graduating from college, starting a job, and moving onward with life is sort of an awkward time in life, and at times it has generated of unfounded worry for me. It’s weird not being able to visualize where I’ll be in my life a year from now. School was always that constant, an easy way to predict what sort of situation I could expect myself in. This song is a ray of hope, and a reminder to myself to just knock it off when I let myself worry.

Alive in the age of worry, smile in the age of worry, go wild in the age of worry, and sing Worry, why should I care?

Earlier this month one of my best friends, Paul, and I had a fabulous streak of luck and met Mr. Mayer himself as he snuck inside a restaurant in Minneapolis to debut his CD to a crowd of Target and Best Buy corporate employees. We were tipped off by a friend, and we were so happy we decided to linger outside waiting for a while because we were lucky enough to score this…

Image

He thanked us for being fans, and quietly slipped away inside without the majority of Minneapolis even knowing that a mega-star was nearby. This, friends, was a highlight of my life as I know it.

What are you listening to this Tuesday?

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