there aren’t many material things in my life that i can’t live without. i mean, i’m not claiming to be Mother Teresa. but there is a reason that my family and Mister Man call me ‘the pauper’. i just don’t buy a lot of stuff. not because i don’t want to. have you seen my pinterest boards? i want. i want much. it’s just that 1) it’s a LOT of work to go shopping. 2) it takes a LOT of patience to go shopping. 3) Mr. Z was raised in a family where the only female was his mother, and does not understand, and sometimes it’s just easier to not.

how cool would it be to be a serious minimalist? like, a fit all your belongings in a suitcase, use the same plate and glasses for every meal, one photograph on the nightstand type of person. that would be pretty cool. very difficult and full of temptation on all sides, but still. think of how many awesome vacations you could take with the money you’d save!

all joking aside though, in my head there is only a very small list of things that i need to keep with me.

  • Mister Man (duh, like i wouldn’t put him first)
  • my wedding ring
  • some pieces of art that i love
  • my laptop (because of all the photos! geez, that reminds me, i need to put all of them on the cloud.)
  • my jewelry box

my jewelry box belonged to my great grandma lula. it’s really old, i don’t even know how old, i’ll have to ask my grandma. you can see it’s been well-loved. my grandma and each of her daughters have their own replicas of these jewelry boxes, with their names engraved on the top.

by a wonderful stroke of luck, i was the firstborn granddaughter, and so got to take ownership of this treasure when grandma lula passed away. it’s spent most of it’s time with me sitting in the closet at my parents’ house. like i was going to bring it to any of the houses i lived in during college…you’ve seen what those are like. full of gross things and also drunk people who like to steal things.

now that it gets to come live with me and MM, i can keep a better eye on it. and it’s actually functional and holds my special jewelry. of which there isn’t a lot…i’m very picky with what i keep and i like to go on goodwill cleanses and give away half of my accessories on a regular basis. combine that with my whole no shopping habit, and the collection has dwindled quite a bit. but i wear what i got and it looks pretty cute sitting in that beautiful old box.

(that blue beauty up there is from my grandma that i wore on my wedding day. coming full circle here.)

keepsakes are such interesting things. they are things. but they hold so much meaning in them, they feel like a part of you sometimes, you know? whenever i look at this jewelry box, i think about grandma lula, and her brooches and fun clip-on earrings that she kept in here. i think about her and how she wasn’t a minimalist (seashell museum, anyone?). and i think about her and how we ate kfc every time we went to visit her in owatonna, because it was her favorite special treat. that’s what the jewelry box does for me, and i’m so lucky to have it sitting on my dresser keeping me company.

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minocqua labor day fun.

one thing you need to know about my husband (and me if i’m being honest) is that we are homebodies to the extreme. sure, we like to go out and have a good time, but if you ask what our favorite thing to do on a friday is, dinner, wine and scrabble are going to be really high on the list.

sidenote: we have a crazy scrabble competition going. as in, we save each scorecard and hold a win over each other’s heads for days kind of competition. it can get ugly, but come on, why can i not get angry when i know i’m the better speller and by luck of the crappy draw, i get all vowels the whole game! no, i’m not bitter over my last loss, why do you ask?

anyway, homebodies. because of this, Mister Man’s favorite kind of vacations are the ones where you can just spend time with everyone, reading, hanging out, NAPPING. oh my gosh that man can take naps. like a professional. so this Labor Day, we decided we were going to go with his family to the cabin of some wonderful family friends in Minocqua, WI. oh you guys. this place is wonderful. the lake is huge and calm, the dock is the perfect place to drink your coffee in the early morning, and the bonfire pit is impossible to tear yourself away from before midnight. just a true northwoods family cabin, which also happens to have a gorgeous waterskiing boat to play around on.

i haven’t been waterskiing in over 5 years. i think the last time i was on the water in skis, i was so sore that i could barely hold the tray up when i went to waitress later that evening. so i was a little nervous about putting them on again. i am happy to report to everyone that it’s totally like riding a bike! it felt so good to see that i could hold my own out there, even in front of my hotshot husband and our friend Danny, who happens to be a Min-Aqua Bat (seriously these people are amazing!). so i count the weekend as a win after that. i unfortunately did not get any photo proof of this event, but there is always next year!

we spent the rest of the weekend fishing, although i don’t think there were any fish in that lake….or i’m just terrible at it, and enjoying some adult beverages on the boat (sweet tea vodka and lemonade FTW!). the family time was amazing, and the cabin was the perfect place to be over the long weekend. i’ve decided that we are inviting ourselves back every labor day and making it a tradition. thank you, Smylies!

here are a few photos from the weekend, all taken by the ever so talented Danny Smylie. check him out at also, Danny, remind me to book you for a date TBD (way in the future!) to take photos of my babies. k thanks bye.

(all photo credits to danny smylie)

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the subway smells like an armpit (part 2)

i hope everyone here in the u.s. had a wonderful labor day weekend, and ate lots of grilled things and got too much sun. to liven up your tuesday back to the real world, here’s part 2 of my nyc jaunt. good news: there are way less words and pictures in this one! i can hear your sighs of relief from here.

on tuesday morning, i grabbed a street bagel (pronounced baay-gull, hannah) for the road and had a lovely coffee date with ms. sarah, catching up on all things minnesota and life in general. if that wasn’t a ray of sunshine to start my day, i tell you what! after that, i popped into grand central and the city library to say hi while i was in the neighborhood and took a couple of photographs. here, i’ll show them to you!


lego lion!

grand central station

after all of the walking, i decided i needed to test out the subway system, because what is a trip to new york without riding the subway? i’ve also got a thing for public transit that works like it should, as opposed to what we’ve got going on here in msp (but that’s a discussion for another time, which you better believe we will have someday). and i have to say, the nyc subway is really nice. very easy to use. my one issue is that it feels exactly like stepping from fresh air into the armpit of someone who just ran a few miles. then they tuck you in nice and snug and you ride along for a little while until they let you out into the air again. that’s a pretty accurate description i think.

i explored greenwich village for a bit and stopped at an old place called cafe reggio for an iced coffee and a nutella croissant, oh heavens above was that delicious. then i decided to walk through washington square park to get to 5th ave, because i wanted to see the flatiron building. at about 20th and 5th, kevin bacon brushed my shoulder. i was so irrationally excited by this! you have to know that i never see anyone remotely famous. if someone well-known is around, i will be the only one to miss them. always and forever. and then i go bump up against kevin bacon in the street. i love new york. obviously, i  didn’t take a picture, i’m way cooler than that (plus there was totally no way to get my camera out in time). so i took a picture of the flatiron. you’re so welcome.

new york is one of those places that i’ve decided i could go back to again and again. i totally get it now. anything you are in the mood for, and everything you could need is there. and if, like me, you could spend your whole life walking around, thinking deep (and shallow) thoughts, and people watching, it’s kind of a perfect place to be.

and you guys? the other thing that sticks with me the most is that i ate so. many. carbs. the refined sugar that is still working its way through my body is proof of just how many i ate. show me some veggies, because something about sour candy and bakeries just really makes me lose my mind and basic knowledge of healthy eating habits. i bought and ate a HALF POUND of candy from fao schweetz (typing that out makes me sad inside) and that cupcake and that bagel tuesday morning and a nutella croissant for lunch (typing that out makes me happy inside). the only protein i can think of is from my shrimp quesadilla with hannah and the hot dog from the street vendor. there were no vegetables, unless you count the avocados in the guacamole. at least i walked one million blocks to make up for it.


p.s. i found eloise at the plaza.

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of stolen umbrellas and old friends. (part 1)

warning: post chock full of semi-crappy photos ahead.

i can say with great certainty that if i were not deeply in love with the man i am married to, i would quite seriously consider moving to new york city. some might say that i could just move with said husband, but i say to those people that you don’t know him very well. he needs space. and you can’t have space in new york. so what i’m saying is, my realization is a moot point, because he’s the best. anywho.

my first day in new york started out with a work meeting that was done by 11am. i checked into my hotel (the one that mister man used all his points for) and walked outside straight into a rainstorm to start my wanderings. i stopped at st. patrick’s cathedral to look at the architecture and say a couple of prayers for the grandparents. it’s so weird to me that you can just come across buildings like that in the middle of manhattan.

once i left, because i am a simple, midwestern girl who assumes that things are safe where you leave them, i got my umbrella stolen from a bin at michael kors. come on mk! cut a girl a break! i bought another one from a guy on the street for $5, but it was not as cute as the stolen one. ny lesson #1: learned. to make the best of it, i decided to visit 30 rock and go all the way up to the top to continue my touristy streak. if anyone who lives in new york hasn’t done this yet and feels like embracing their inner tourist, it’s actually pretty worth it, and not crowded at all. plus, the views are amazing, even in the rain.

statue of liberty waaaay out there

me and the esb

storm rolling in over brooklyn

central park

can you see me?

don’t worry, that’s most of the photos. i really wore myself down with that trip to the top of the rock. once i came down, i started to just walk up 5th ave. towards central park. along the way, i was asked 4 times (!) for directions. this may or may not have been (it was!) a highlight of my month, even though i didn’t help any of those people. i think i either looked like i knew where i was going, or i looked like the most approachable person in a giant sea of people. i have a feeling it was the latter, but if you think that maybe it’s possible i looked like a new yorker, feel free to share, you’ll be my favorite. also, here is an observation. i had heard a rumor that abercrombie and hollister were these crazy tourist destinations, and when i passed them, i saw through a haze of cologne that there were LINES to get in. what? why? what?

once i got to central park, the rain had stopped, there was greenery everywhere, and i could just walk around and people watch. i should have gotten a map and just sucked up the fact that i looked like a tourist because seriously. this place is like the size of a small national park, do people actually run around it for exercise? that seems a little insane to me. i mean, i got LOST at one point. in a park. in the middle of a city. so i sat down and ate a Magnolia cupcake while i sweat through my clothing. but it was still so delightful.

and then dinner with hannah. my lovely little hannah. words cannot express what an amazing time i had with her. did you know that you could be friends with someone for 6 months, then not see them for 4 years, and still just fall right back into how things were when you last saw them? you can. i think you have to survive things like leaving her in a barcelona airport overnight, and getting attacked by preteens in london in order for it to work, but it’s completely possible. i could have caught up with her all night. i think one of our conversations may have been about the right way to pronounce bagels, which is still making me giggle. now all i have to do is trick her into coming to visit minnesota, make her fall in love with a man who has the best minnesotan accent she’s ever heard, and we can be neighbors forever!

i went back to my hotel feeling sad to say goodbye and drank a glass of wine by myself in the hotel bar. (you should all learn how to do that by the way…have a drink or a meal by yourself. it’s maybe one of the most liberating things you’ll ever do.) then i went to bed so i could be ready to go for my big day of schlepping around the city again.

because i love you, and because you’ve probably stopped reading this far, i’m putting that day in its own part. there won’t be as many photos, but i will tell you all about my feelings on the subway system.

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i’m in new york!

hello there!

guess where i am?

did you guess new york? good guess! you are really smart.

yep, i’m in the big apple, mostly for work, but also for FUN! i’ve never been to new yor

k, so when i found out that my next work trip was going to take me there, i decided to take a vacation day and enjoy the city on my own time. i wanted mr. z to come with, but he’s got this thing called a job, and also there’s the whole ticket prices for flights being ridiculous thing. so that didn’t work out. but because he’s so nice, he let me use all of his hilton points for my hotel. and he is not even staying with me. he gets those points by being gone from home traveling for work, and he let me use them all. what a guy, huh? okay, done bragging about my awesome husband.

i’m the worst at taking “getting to new york” photos. but the cab driver was so talkative!

not a terrible view!

so i’m here in new york, and i’m super excited to just walk around and see as much as i possibly can while i’m here. when i was in spain, and in uruguay, my favorite thing to do was just walk around and look at things. if  i had a coffee and a sandwich, i could last all day in a city doing that. for me, there’s something about observing life in a different environment than i’m used to that just makes me happy. i want to see central park, 5th ave, greenwich village. i could probably just walk all the way down 5th ave and then turn around and come back and be happy. it’s the simple things people.

the thing that i’m probably the MOST excited for though, is seeing a friend of mine that i studied abroad with. we haven’t seen each other in 4 years, and i cannot wait to catch up and hang out again. she has always lived here in new york, except for that brief stint in iowa city (good writing program….first question i asked her when we met too), so she gets to give me tips and see how little i know about this place….like not knowing if it was right to call the part of the city where i’m staying “midtown”. ugh, honestly me, do some research. i brought her some wedding photos to look at because she threatened me with death if i didn’t (but seriously h., you better appreciate them, because uploading photos to print is a biatch) and catching up with her is going to be the highlight of my time here. hear that new york city? she wins.

hopefully if i don’t suck too terribly much at taking photos, i can have a pretty blog post about my trip with pictures. we shall see.

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