Shit. Really? I have to start with #86???

31 August 2009 | 3 Comments
So today in my quest for finding new blog reads (by the way if you have any that you LOVE, please post a comment and send me over there!) I stumbled upon Sarah's blog, In the Trenches of Mommyhood.  And WHAT smacks me in the face immediately?  This post.  Well, you know how I feel about stuff happening at the right time, fate, or whatever you might want to call it.

So, if writing #86, then finding Sarah and her challenge the next day isn't telling me something, then I don't know what is.  I'm joining the challenge.  I will probably want to die about 2 days in since Jillian is a beast, but I'm still doing it. 

Anyone else in?

Update:  You can follow our progress here.

101 Things & Amy

30 August 2009 | 9 Comments
So, I've been contemplating this post for a really long time.  It is one of those things that is easy to put off, just as easy as putting of the things ON the list can be.  Here is my reasoning for doing it now, I just lost an amazing friend, mentor, and confidante to cancer two weeks ago.  She was 50 years old. 

I've been doing a lot of thinking about her, what it must have been like to be resigned to the fact that there might have been things on her bucket list that didn't get accomplished, because we all think there will be more time.  We think about things in terms of when I retire, or when the kids go to school, or when the baby is older, or when we have time, but the simple fact is we don't know if time will even be there tomorrow.  That isn't to say that you can't plan for the future, I'm certainly not telling you to not have a plan.  I'm just a big believer in not staying stagnant, we should all be evolving as human beings, we should all be doing and not just talking.   And sometimes we all need a little reminder, a little push to keep that in the foremost piece of our minds.  My girlfriend and I were sitting at dinner last night with our husbands and she summed it up perfectly, "you can spend a whole day cleaning or doing laundry or other mundane things and before you know it, you've realized that your entire day is gone."  So here is my reminder not to let the days slip by so quickly.

First, all the info can be found here...

Second, here are the particulars...
The Mission:
Complete 101 preset tasks in a period of 1001 days.

The Criteria:
Tasks must be specific (ie. no ambiguity in the wording) with a result that is either measurable or clearly defined. Tasks must also be realistic and stretching (ie. represent some amount of work on my part).

Why 1001 Days?
Many people have created lists in the past - frequently simple goals such as New Year's resolutions. The key to beating procrastination is to set a deadline that is realistic. 1001 Days (about 2.75 years) is a better period of time than a year, because it allows you several seasons to complete the tasks, which is better for organising and timing some tasks such as overseas trips or outdoor activities.

And finally here it is... MY LIST expires on Sunday, May 27, 2012.
  1. add a stamp to my passport
  2. blog daily for one month {0/30}
  3. send a package to Any Soldier
  4. learn to sew
  5. organize our house ideas binder & find our dream house
  6. pay cash for a new car
  7. save more monthly for our house downpayment
  8. visit 3 US cities I've never been to before
  9. visit New England
  10. visit San Francisco
  11. read 50 books {0/50}
  12. go on 12 dates with my husband in a year
  13. lose 15 pounds {0/15}
  14. learn Photoshop!
  15. got to bed by 10 pm every weeknight for 2 weeks {0/14}
  16. have another technology free day
  17. join BlogHer
  18. take one photo of Finnegan every day for 30 days {0/30}
  19. get our will completed
  20. get a membership to the art museum
  21. get started on baby #2
  22. try geo-caching
  23. re-vamp our budget
  24. get a massage
  25. host 5 game nights {0/5}
  26. host a Christmas party
  27. get a pedicure with my mom and my sister
  28. try one new food I am not sure I'd like
  29. visit Elise in Kentucky
  30. call my Meme, GramCrackers, and Oma once a week for a month {0/4}
  31. be the one to apologize first
  32. go to bed with a spotless kitchen every night for a week instead of leaving dishes for the morning {0/7}
  33. use my 'good' watercolor paper to create something beautiful with Finn
  34. learn to use the manual setting on our camera
  35. spend money locally 20 times when the option is available {0/20}
  36. write 50 handwritten letters {0/50}
  37. do something kind for a complete stranger
  38. do something kind for a friend
  39. clean out our cup/glasses cabinet
  40. buy a lottery ticket
  41. do the 29 days of giving challenge for the second time
  42. visit Revolver again
  43. write 101 comments on other people's blogs
  44. watch every episode of The Office this season
  45. help Annie get her Etsy shop up and running
  46. take Finnegan sledding
  47. Meet my blogging readership goal.
  48. be a better friend
  49. have a family photo taken
  50. join Toastmasters with Dave
  51. research {and buy} an electric tea kettle
  52. go apple picking
  53. set up an auto payment for Finnegan's 529
  54. hug someone that needs it
  55. go to Zingerman's again
  56. go to Mackinac Island
  57. go to the drive-in
  58. watch The Tudors first season {0/10}
  59. visit Steph, Sirius, Violet, and the dream killer in Chicago!
  60. go to a concert
  61. brush Dexter once a week for 6 weeks
  62. be conscious and try to avoid using the word 'like' for one week in conversation {0/7}
  63. create a list of meaningful gifts for Christmas rather than being absorbed in the commercial
  64. create a new tradition in our family
  65. go camping!
  66. double our monthly family income
  67. take my vitamins every day for a month {0/30}
  68. watch 5 foreign films in 5 different languages {0/5}
  69. research and find the best pre-school fit for Finnegan
  70. remodel the bathroom
  71. eat at 7 new restaurants
  72. have the hallway plaster fixed & paint the hallway
  73. learn how to knit
  74. put in the front flower bed edging and mulch
  75. make macarons
  76. cut out all fast food for 6 months {0/6}
  77. get & make Lisa's recipe for briased short ribs
  78. make Bridget's awesome potato soup again
  79. create a weekly menu plan for 6 straight weeks {0/6}
  80. re-hang the photos in our living room & add more
  81. clean out the basement and get rid of/donate all of the unwanted stuff 
  82. clean up the basement laundry area and make it a more enjoyable place to do laundry
  83. buy a new laptop
  84. buy and install new kitchen sink
  85. win something
  86. complete 30 consecutive days of the 30 Day Shred {0/30}
  87. get Finnegan's baby book up to date
  88. have a picnic with my friends
  89. make a household inventory for insurance purposes
  90. find & buy a new pair of favorite sunglasses... my faves got broken
  91. make a vision board
  92. practice french once a week for 3 months {0/12}
  93. make someone laugh
  94. make a donation to PBS & NPR
  95. buy a pair of red shoes
  96. let someone know how they've changed my life for the better
  97. make Dave an amazing breakfast in bed
  98. rent a house on a beach
  99. host The Night Before again now that we have a 'real' table
  100. Take Finnegan to the Butterfly House
  101. inspire 5 others to make a 101 list... if you do this after reading my post, please let me know & you can do this even if you don't have a blog... just grab a pen and a piece of paper! {05}
You can see my updated list in the tab at the top of my blog.


29 August 2009 | 1 Comments
Happy Birthday to the most incredible man I know.  If the person you are today is any indication of the man you'll be at sixty, I can't wait to spend these next thirty years right here by your side.  I hope that last weekend's festivities and tonight's incredible dinner made the switch from your twenties to your thirties a little easier.  Embrace it.  And let's be honest here... you make thirty look good.
So Much Love,

The little things...

28 August 2009 | 2 Comments

It's the little things that you want to remember, like Scooby Doo bandages for no reason. He wasn't hurt, no boo boo to cover, Scooby is just plain cool. And so is he.

Summer Swap. Sounds dirty, but it's really fun.

27 August 2009 | 5 Comments
My girlfriends and I have two swaps a year. And before you think you've stumbled upon THAT kind of blog, we don't swap husbands. We swap gifts. We have an ornament & cookie exchange in December and a summer swap. We keep the dollar amount low and encourage creativity, recycling, and having the gift be something fun.

So this year, I had Amanda in the swap. And since the gift is safely in her hands I can share it!

She's a Twilight fan(atic) so I thought it would be fun to make her gift themed as a psych up to the release of New Moon in theaters in November.

The gift bag & tag. I wrote I *heart* FORKS on a fork and hot glued it to the bag.

I printed the covers of the books out and hot glued them to some favor boxes I had. Amanda is also a big fan of candy so I filled each with a different kind of candy. The template for the bottle label can be found here. (I used Jones soda for this.)

My favorite thing was a cd that we (and by we, I mean Dave) burned for me using songs that Stephanie Meyer recommends for reading her books. I did the cover art for the cd while Dave found all of the songs in our massive cd collection and I think it turned out pretty dang cute!

I also added a red delicious apple and some other silly things to the gift bag. Happy Summer Amanda!! Hope you liked your silly gift.

SURPRISE! A Manly 30th Birthday Beer Tasting!

24 August 2009 | 17 Comments
Let me tell you a little tale of debauchery, of drunkenness so fun that it can be called nothing but EPIC. That my friends was the Original DJS (named for Dave, Jon, & Steve) party thrown in 2002. I didn't attend as Dave and I were just friends at that point and though I WAS indeed invited to said gathering, going to a party at "my friend's cottage somewhere in Michigan" with Dave seemed a little weird and probably would have really pissed off the person I was dating at the time. They were banned from Jon's (parents') cottage for FIVE years. I kid you not.

So this year, the three wives planned a little surprise party for the boys turning 30. The DJS Old Man Style. It was a party for men, not boys. It was filled with BEER, inspired by Jon's website The Daily Hops. It was also epic and yet, we didn't have to sleep in tents, drink bad beer (well there WAS Natty Light), or partake in any blackouts from Harry Buffalo. It was a little more refined and a lot less crazy. And so... I give you the DJS, Old Man Style.

The INVITE! We originally had planned on sending empty beer bottles with a custom label as an invitation, however due to the super secret nature of the planning and the large number of invitees we had to do something a little less obvious! I had these printed up at vistaprint and along with some custom envelopes and fun addressing we sent them all out undetected!

Another GREAT idea was to set up a custom email address so that we could keep track of RSVPs. We also set up the gmail address to be on vacation setting and sent an auto reply to each person that rsvp'd saying this:
Thanks so much for your RSVP! Don't forget this is a SURPRISE for Dave, Jon, and Steve so keep it quiet!

If you're coming...
AWESOME! There is all sorts of manly food and craziness in
store. And maybe some poker, but not strip poker because you know, moms n' stuff will be there and dude, no one wants to see their mom playing strip poker. (Hi Mom!) The dress is casual, but the hotter you look the better chance you'll have of scoring at the end of the night. And dancing, well the chicks will be dancing and Dave will be dancing and probably breaking an ankle. And BEER. Don't forget the beer. And speaking of forgetting beer... don't forget to have yours ready to drink for the tasting. That means cold, if it needs to be cold or room temp, if it needs to be room temp. There will be ample space to keep it chilled once you get to the party, but it's up to you to get it drinkable before that. And the prizes are good, so bring your A game people. It's going to be an absolute blast and very manly. But not so manly that things won't match, I mean really who wants to go to a non-matching, stupid, "real" man party with no awesome prizes and fun drunk girls anyway?

If you're not coming...
See above awesomeness and cancel whatever lame-o plans you might have had.

Sincerely,The Best Wives in the Universe... no... sincerely, we
totally are.

We printed out fun vintage beer ads and put them in 4x6 cheapie frames and had them on tables along with piles of cards and games for people to play. By the end of the evening we even broke out a game (or 20) of Twister!

The arrival! SURPRISE!!!

So, when everyone arrived (prior to the arrival of the boys) our fabulous bartenders (my sister, BIL, and friend) took their 6 pack, put it in the commercial cooler we borrowed, asked them to sign in on the list which beer they brought, and handed them their tasting glass with ballot.

Then the tasting began! We set up a galvanized container filled with ice to keep on the bar so that people could see what was already opened and help themselves if they so chose. More often than not, people asked for (and got!) recommendations from the bartenders. They could also ask to have anything opened in the cooler if it wasn't out already.

We also created a how-to menu for mixing your own beer cocktails! This was a really fun addition and since people had their small tasting glasses, they were a lot more adventurous about trying different things!

To keep the tallying EASY we had a best and a worst category. We didn't tell anyone about the worst category until after they arrived because let's face it, we could have ended up with 80 6 packs of REALLY bad beer! We wanted people to go for unique different beers so there would be a wide range to taste.

This is a pic of Karen and I tallying up the votes mid-way through the evening. We had prizes for the top two beers, the bottom two beers, AND a prize for Dave's Favorite, Jon's Favorite (which incidentally was the same as the top winner!), and Steve's Favorite

The winners of the favorites got a 4 pack of custom home brew that we also gave to the boys as gifts. A wonderful friend of ours created an insane chocolate coffee stout and I made some fun labels. There are pics below. The top prize got a basket with Tastefully Simple Beer Bread, freezable mugs, a book on beer, and a bottle of beer. The second prize got a great Beer Marinade from Williams-Sonoma. The worst prize was a Beer For Dummies book and Budweiser marinade. The second worst prize won a hideous 'beer' citronella candle.

We had lots and lots of 'man food' for the party. Wings, mini meatball subs, pulled pork sliders, every dip and chip known to man, fresh from the garden salsa, etc...

The desserts! It wouldn't be a party without an incredible dessert display! Karen drew this for the cake and we had the artwork printed on edible frosting from a local bakery!

We had mini Guiness cupcakes, Kahlua pudding shots, cookies of all kinds, haystacks, chocolate dipped Oreo pops, and chocolate covered strawberries, in addition to birthday cake!

I made a bunch of cute cupcake picks with different sayings on them and fun retro clip art.

I absolutely LOVED the fact that the paintings on the wall (artists Mr Atomic & Ann Kniep) were fun and played well with the manly feel. We had the event in my mom's building in the Sur St Clair Gallery and the space was absolutely perfect for what we did. Everything from the old wide plank flooring to the exposed brick walls to the steel beams worked to create a great manly atmosphere.

In the background you can see the Happy 30th sign we (and by we I mean AMY) put up! This is Steve getting his gift. The three of us decided to get the boys all the same thing, they got a 4 pack of the DJS custom homebrew, two REALLY nice cigars with matches, a tall pilsner glass, and a card from all of us. I'm pretty sure that was a manly, fun gift that they all enjoyed!

Here are the labels for the homebrew! I made one with Jon's picture, one with Steve's and one with Dave's, the rest of the information on there is the same on each.

This smile made all of the sneaking, all of the hard work, and the long hours totally and completely worth it. Happy 30th Love! Hope you enjoyed it!!

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