Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Travel Tuesday: Barcelona

Today I was thinking a bit about those perfect days. You know the ones. The ones you look back on and think ... that was a good day. The sun is shining. You are carefree. Your feet don't hurt from uncomfortable (yet fashionable) sandals. You spend all day doing exactly what you like just how you like. That is a good day.

I had a lot of those days while living in Barcelona for my study abroad during uni. A lot of them. And I was reminded of the great memories from that time when I spoke to my grandparents on the phone this weekend - they had just returned from Barcelona and were telling me all about it.

And so I spent some time day-dreaming about one of my favorite places in the world. Where the city is quaint and not too large. The old down is full of picturesque alleyways. The shopping streets are just waiting for me to spend. The tapas restaurants are abundant. The museum are incredible. The sun is always shinning. The street performers are always out. And life is always moving (except during siesta ...).

I fell in love with the sea in Barcelona. Before it, I could take or leave the water. Sure it was nice to be by the ocean and go swimming and feel the sand between my toes. But it was just another destination. But living in Barceloneta, in my little apartment with a tiny balcony where you could just make out the water across the palm trees in the park next door and you were (literally) a 3 minute walk from the beach. Well. That is when I fell in love with water and its beauty and the feeling of forever that you get standing at the edge of the ocean.

I would go out there all the time. Just strolling during the day. Or laying out to read and tan. Or my morning run on the boardwalk. Or my evening strolls in the surf with one ear bud in (towards the city) and one out to listen to the waves crashing. My favorite song to listen to while doing this was always "Edge of the Ocean" ... scroll down and play for full effect!

Those are perfect memories ... those moments spent listening to the waves and walking on the beach. Blue skies and endless horizons. The stuff of great memories.

Ivy - Edge of the Ocean

Monday, May 30, 2011

My Eclectic Movie Taste: From Hangover II to Midnight in Paris

So it was definitely a movie weekend because A) I needed to relax, B) I didn't really feel like being productive and C) the weather was not cooperating. Saw Hangover II and Midnight in Paris in theaters as well as rented two horrible movies from Redbox (I won't embarrass myself my naming which two). Additionally, had Ocean's 11/12/13 on in the background which cleaning/organizing last night as well as Indiana Jones this AM. To top off the weekend, Twilight is in the DVD player while I am typing this up. Sigh.

So ... here is a recap of the two theater movies I saw this weekend. A testament to my truly eclectic movie taste. Please read/see Midnight in Paris. It is definitely not as mainstream as Hangover, Bridesmaids, Pirates and everything else in theaters, but it is a truly great film!

The Hangover Part II
Let me begin by saying that I laughed my ass off in the theater, as did everyone around me. Let me also say that there were a lot of scenes where I was shaking my head and saying "I did not need to see that". So while my review (and most others) is not exactly glowing, it was still a funny movie and perfect for a rainy Friday night.

With that being said, Hangover II was a disappointment. As all the reviews will tell you, this sequel takes the characters and plot from the original and literally drops them all in Thailand. Done. Shoot. Edit. Deliver. It is literally the same story, down to the sequence of events, the character's behavior, and the raunchy photo montage at the end.

Unfortunately, what was unique/awesome/hilarious/shocking/new from Hangover is just tired/repetitive/over-the-top/gross in II. Gone is the originality and element or surprise from the original that made it the hilarious movie it is. Honestly, this was just really uninspired - you could predict almost at every turn what would happen next! It's really too too bad, because the first one was just so great and so original, and the cast really is talented. But the team on this film just basically said "hey, we have a great model here that works, let's just stick to it", when they should have instead pushed the envelope and come up with something truly awesome and just as unique the second time around. Unfortunately, they failed.

Then again ... Ocean's 12 was a flop too, but maybe they will come back stronger with 3. The good news is ... people would still probably come and see it. (Sorry ... this is what happens when I watch other movies all together, my thoughts from one infiltrate to the other)

Midnight in Paris
To see the trailer, check out this old blog entry from March 30th - Midnight in Paris movie trailer (link)

The grass is always greener. That is kind of the story here. The present in which you live always appears a bit dull and boring because it is, obviously, the present in which you live. We look back to a different time and think, "that was a great time ... I should have lived then." And what if you could? What if every night at midnight you could wait on a street corner and hop in a car and get transported back to that era you so want to be a part of. Would it still look as glamorous? Would you present still look as dull? And what would the people of that era think of their present? Do we always wish we lived in a different time?

Those are the questions posed (and answered) by this film. Honestly, I think this is one of my favorites by Woody Allen ... and not just because it is filmed in beautiful Paris. It sneaks up on you. Somewhere between the beautiful story and 1920's name dropping (oh ... hello F. Scott Fitzgerald, Mr. Hemingway, Picasso, Gertrude Stein ... what's up?), you realize the heart and soul of the film and the moral of the story. I really liked Wilson's portrayal of Gil - a character that is witty, cooky, lost, and in the end strong - and found myself identifying with him throughout.

Also, I love this film because of the above-mentioned name-dropping. This is not typical name dropping ... oh no. These are the characters that show up in the 1920's Gil visits every night at midnight:
  • The Fitzgerald's (yes ... as in F. Scott and Zelda)
  • Hemingway
  • Cole Porter
  • Gertrude Stein
  • Pablo Picasso (yes ... that Picasso)
  • Salvador Dali
  • Man Ray
  • Luis Bunuel
  • T.S. Elliot
  • Henri Matisse
  • Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (they take a trip back to 1890 as well ...)
  • Gaugain
  • Degas
As an art history lover and someone who adores this era in history, I was laughing and smiling the whole time whenever a new character was introduced. Picasso and Gertrude Stein arguing over a painting. Hemingway describing war. Dali talking about rhinoceros ... over and over. Man Ray saying "I see a photo". Sigh ... I loved it! If you have ever wondered what it would be like to sit down and have a conversation with any of these famous artists at a Cafe in Paris ... this films makes it all come to life! And bravo to all the actors who portrayed this famous historical figures ... they did a great job!!!! Corey Stoll as Hemingway. Alison Pill as Zelda Fitzgerald. Kathy Bates as Gertrude Stein. Adrien Brody as Dali.

Sleeping Until Noon (aka How I Spent Memorial Weekend)

Let me start by saying what I did not do this memorial day weekend:
  • I did not go anywhere out-of-town
  • I did not get to sit out at the beach at Calhoun in my bikini working on my tan (last year's activity)
  • I did not participate in any barbeque-like activity
Nope, none of those things happened. But I had a very pleasant three-day weekend none-the-less. I needed just a laid back and easy no-commitments weekend after the spring I have had. Lots of weekend obligations, lots of getting up early on Saturday and Sunday, and then gone all last weekend in NYC. Eeeek. I just needed some downtime to clean and organize the apartment and buy groceries!

I have to say ... the weekend was off to a great start already on Friday because A) half-day Friday's started at work and B) I got into my MBA program and will be starting in the fall.

So anyway, here is how I spent my Memorial Weekend vacation:
  • Half-day Friday's have officially started at work! Got off at 11ish and went out with my team to a delicious Indian lunch. If you are in the Twin Cities area, check out Dancing Ganesha downtown on Harmon Place between 11th and 12th.
  • A nap on Friday afternoon ... sigh ... so nice.
  • Two hours at Barnes & Noble just browsing the shelves and jotting down titles of books I want to get from the library.
  • Out with friends to "Hangover II" and drinks (full movie review to come in another post)
  • Turned on the heat in my car on the way home because it was 53 degrees!!!
  • Slept until noon on Saturday. Felt so good!
  • Sun was out when I woke up so took advantage and put on a sundress and sun-hat, grabbed my book, a picnic lunch, and a blanket and headed out to Calhoun where I sat out for about 2 hours and enjoyed the weather. The only thing that drove me away was the rain that began to fall!
  • Shopping at the Mall of America. Believe me ... not something a normal Twin Cities resident usually chooses to put themselves thru. But I needed to hit up multiple stores and this was easiest. Had the best discount at Banana Republic from their mystery coupon - 50% my entire purchase. AND they had final sales going on. Got great things for under $10 each ... plus a few non-sale items!
  • Home to a bubble bath and good book.
  • Sunday ... slept until noon again.
  • Off to a casual lunch at French Meadow Bakery and then to a cafe in Uptown where I spent the afternoon writing.
  • Home to work on some projects and take a nap (so nice).
  • Got the cleaning urge at about 10PM and proceeded to watch/listen to Oceans's 11/12/13 while cleaning the apartment and organizing my three closests. Proud of myself ... i got rid of 11 pairs of shoes, two dresses, two handbags and a number of other items!
  • Monday ... slept until noon ... again.
  • Casual lunch while watching a Tivoed movie.
  • Afternoon walk around Calhoun since the rain seems to have stopped.
  • "Midnight in Paris" at the Uptown theater.
  • Reading ... photos ... going to bed at a reasonable hour so I can go to work tomorrow AM.

All in all ... a good weekend. Now summer has officially started. Half day Friday's are here, full weekends, activities, travels, projects.

Let it begin ...

Saturday, May 28, 2011

It's Memorial Weekend and I just turned the heat on in my car

Seriously. I did. Coming home from The Hangover II and drinks with friends. Memorial weekend and it is 53 degrees and raining. WTF. Last year this same weekend I remember spending all three days at Calhoun in my bikini working on my tan. This year I'll spend all three days in my wellies. Boo.

Friday, May 27, 2011

I got in! Yay! Starting Grad School for my MBA in the fall!

Well, the long nights of studying for the GMAT, the migraines, the lost dining room table, the long weekends, the $300+ in fees, the essays ... it all paid off!

I ... GOT ... IN!!!!

University of Minnesota - Carlson School of Management MBA Program

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Great commercial: Lurpak Butter

I am totally going home to eat an omlet tonight!

And a few other great Lurpak ads. I remember seeing these at the British Ad Awards.

Satuday is Breakfast Day




Some of the best music you've never heard: EBTG - Mirrorball

Everything But The Girl - some of the best music out there.
I remember listening to Mirrorball in high school ... and it still sounds fresh and new even today.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Travel Tuesday: New York City

As I mentioned, I was out in New York this weekend for work. So I dedicate this week's Travel Tuesday to the city that never sleeps ... New York! For full effect ... press play at the bottom to hear Sinatra croon about one of the greatest cities in the world!

Where do you even begin when describing New York? There is a reason songs and books and movies are written about it. There is a reason people flock to it. There is a reason it is one of the greatest cities in the world. It's New York. 'Nuff said. Hello ... have you seen Sex and the City?!?!?

I have always known that I am a big city gal. I love the hustle and bustle, the noise, the people, the culture ... everything. And New York has it all ... in spades. So below are some of my favorite aspects of the city. Dug through the vault for some photos to post too!

The Museums
Let's start with museums. Wow. New York is one of the top museum cities in the US and the world. From the Met to the Guggenheim and over to the MOMA (not to mention that hordes of other "smaller" museums) the city has something for everyone's taste. The wealth of art is just beyond compare and as an Art History major, picking where to go and what to see is a nearly impossible task.

I can wander from gallery to gallery for hours on end - standing in the middle of a room full of Renoir/Monet/Van Gogh/Goya/Picasso makes me smile and feel dizzy and giddy with happiness. The colors, the light, the beauty. When I am in a museum I can escape the dreary outside world and focus in on something that is pure and true.

One of my favorite things to do at a museum is to find the most famous painting and watch the tourists look at it. People are funny. Especially today with digital cameras and phones. No one buys postcards or just sits and absorbs. They go up to the Mona Lisa, snap a picture, and move on. Been there, done that. Check. Perfect example - Van Gogh's Starry Night at the MOMA.

The Theater
Need I explain? If you've been following along, you know I absolutely adore theater and see every show I can here in The Cities. Which - BTW - is the second theater city in the US ... only behind NYC. But New York is really in a league of its own. With some of the longest running shows in the world plus great off-broadway new productions, you can see anything at anytime. Seriously. Problem is I always want to go check out the big splash Broadway shows like Mamma Mia and Phantom and miss the smaller shows off-Broadway. If I lived there ... I would go to a new show every month!!!

The Streets
Cabs. People. Food carts. Shopping. Pedestrians. Honking. Construction. Big orange chimney man-hole things. Tall buildings. Random limos. Bistros. Fashion. Tourists. Cops. Shopping stalls with jewelry and tourist crap. Crosswalks. Men in suits. Women in stilettos.

Walking cities. They are the best and I wish that Minneapolis is more of one. Sure ... we have a downtown and uptown ... but they are a few blocks, nothing special. Not to mention, not that much going on there. In New York though ... now that is a walking city. Right up there with London, Paris, Barcelona, Singapore, Bern, etc. Walk up 5th and window shop before hitting Central Park, hit the park or keep going down 5th to the Met or the Guggenheim. Stop at 49th and 6th for a red velvet cupcake from Magnolia Bakery. Down Broadway to see all the show signs. And all the little streets in between with cute restaurants and boutiques and a whole lot of Irish pubs.

The Park
I think you appreciate green space all the more when you are in the middle of the city and don't have your own backyard. And personally, I would MUCH rather live in an apartment and have a beautiful park like this to go to whenever I wanted. I love how quiet it is even though the city is so loud all around. And how you can see the city over the tree tops, so perfectly close. A great place to escape with civilization only a few blocks.

The Night
I love city lights at night. Whenever I go to a new city I always want to walk around at night at take photos and see the buildings and streets all lite up. Surprisingly, not that many cities are really good at making themselves night-photo-friendly. But New York succeeds. I mean ... Times Square is obvious, but really every street has character and beauty at night. The lights are beautiful and the bright yellow cabs zipping by. The pedestrians walking hand in hand.

Frank Sinatra - New York, New York - no one says it better!

Monday, May 23, 2011

If you love Audrey Hepburn, I have two GREAT books for you!

Audrey Hepburn is an icon. No question. No further commentary required (not that that will stop me). She epitomizes class, sophistication, charm, beauty, simplicity, fashion, that certain je ne sais quoi, and Hollywood glamor. All of her movies are beautiful and I can watch them again and again.

From the ugly duckling turned beauty in Sabrina to the princess who needs a day off in Roman Holiday. From the bookworm in Funny Face to the widow hunting down a lost fortune while falling in love in Charade. From the well-intentioned art thief in How to Steal a Million to the party girl in Breakfast at Tiffanys. And of course, the transformed Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady. Every role, every movie - sheer perfection. Her sparkling personality, incredible fashion sense, on-screen presence and ethereal looks made her a Movie Star in the old Hollywood sense of the definition (capital letters required). She defines the best of what is motion pictures. And she defined fabulous fashion. There is a reason that I have a huge movie still of her from BAT hanging in my closet for inspiration!

So ... I love old movies and Audrey Hepburn movies are definitely at the top of the list. Other favorites include films with Cary Grant, Grace Kelly, Deborah Kerr, Sinatra and the Rat Pack, Fred Astaire, Katherine Hepburn, Doris Day, Leslie Caron, Gregory Peck ... and the list goes on and on. That was the age of Hollywood. When movies where elegant and stars were glamorous. Women wore gloves and hats with their fabulous dresses. Men where gentlemen in the true sense of the word. And the world glittered and sparkled with parties and life (at least in the movies).

So on that note - I eat up anything Audrey related. Movies, books, my own personal Roman Holiday ... whatever I can do. While at B&N I came across two books that I instantly grabbed and devoured. I recommend both to anyone who shares my interest ... or anyone who simply enjoys a good light read!

Holly Would Dream
Karen Quinn
The Audrey Connection:
This book is based on many of Audrey's movies and has various bits pulled directly from the movie plots. The heroine loves Audrey and there are even missing Hepburn costumes. Not to mention the many (many) movie line references. Any true Hepburn fan will love finding all these hidden gems in the book and recalling which movie they come from! (Hello ... truthful whitefoot?)

Holly Ross is a dreamer - she wishes her life was a 1950's Audrey Hepburn movie. But her own life is pretty good - she is engaged to a great guy and about to get a promotion at the fashion museum where she is currently an assistant. In the course of a day though it all falls apart. After getting splashed as a Maybach hits a puddle on the streets of NYC, she loses her dream job and her man all in the same day. So what's a girl to do? The obvious choice is to drop everything and hop on a ritzy Mediterranean cruise to get rich-Maybach-man's attention. Throw in some missing Audrey Hepburn dresses, over 125 obvious and not-so-obvious Hepburn movie references, a host of funny characters, and a little romance and you have yourself a very good read.

The book primarily takes places in NYC and various ports in the Mediterranean. Hence why reading this why traveling in NYC this weekend made it all the better - I couldn't put it down and read it straight through during my flight and waiting time! It is very cute and a must read for any Hepburn fan. You will get a kick out of finding all the movie references. Hello! The intro is straight from Sabrina! Overall, the story is full of energy and moves quickly and the writing is good - witty and smart. Light and hilarious - this is a must read chick-lit book.

The Overnight Socialite
Bridie Clark
The Audrey Connection:
While this book is not based on Audrey, it does ring back to one of her famous roles as Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady. This book is actually based on Pygmalion (on which MFL is based). The book in and of itself is strong, but if you love Audrey, you will love the modern day version of this classic.

Pygmalion moves to Manhattan. Professor Higgins becomes charming socialite-playboy-anthropologist Wyatt Hayes IV. Eliza Doolittle is poor little fashion designer wannabe who cannot seem to get it right Lucy Jo Ellis. The deal is essentially the same - he takes her and on and makes her over from body to behavior. Clothes, trainers, etiquette, parties, etc. Of course there is a twist ... but we can pretty much guess the ending! That does not, however, in any way take away from the book!

Like I said, this book stands on its own even if you have no interest in Audrey or its source. The characters have heart and their transformation is strong - you want them to end up together and be happy and it is actually believable. The writing is strong and the plot gives us an inside peek into the elite Manhattan social scene. I enjoyed the multiple POVs that allowed the reader to really experience the events from different perspectives.

P.S. If you have any Audrey-inspired book recommendations, please share them! Always looking for new reading material. I have read others beyond what is listed ... but hoping someone has something new for me!

I am watching Sabrina while writing this.

"It is late at night and someone across the way is playing 'La Vie En Rose'. It is the French way of saying, I am looking at the world through rose-coloured glasses. It says everything I feel. I have learnt so many things, Father. Not just how to make cihyssoise or calf's head with sauce vinaigrette, but a so much more important recipe. I have learnt how to live, how to be in the world and of the world ... and not just to stand aside and watch. And I will never never again run away from live ... or from love either."

Thanks for ruining it for the rest of us: Carry-on bags

This weekend I flew out to NYC for work - had a wonderful time at our event and even got to spend some time walking the fabulous (and fashionable) streets of New York. Anyway, the trip itself was great, but we got off to a shaky start.

The problem: Delta finally began enforcing their carry-on bag size check. Uhhhh.

That darn check thing has always been at the gate and they have always said "one carry-on and one purse or laptop bag" - but they have never really done too much with it. My bag has always fit in the overhead bin and I always adhere to the rule of only two items. And yet now I am the one suffering ... because the Delta rep literally made everyone put their bag in the bin, and if it did not fit perfectly ... CHECK! Eeek - not good. My bag was slightly too wide ... one inch too wide! It would still have fit in the overhead ... but NO GO! Had to scramble right there in front of everyone and open it up and grab my cameras and laptop so they could check the damn thing!

Thankfully on this trip it was ok because my carry-on was mostly clothes, but if this had been a personal trip I would have been in big trouble. My carry-on consists of the following:
  • multiple cameras
  • laptop
  • various electronic equipment - chords, chargers, converters, power strips, extra batteries and memory cards
  • books for the flight
  • jewelry
  • makeup (Believe me ... I need it to be carried-on ... I checked it once when my bags got lost and I went without for 2 days. I do not have great skin and NEED it!)
ALL things that I actually need to have on-board and cannot be checked.

But now ... thanks to all the dumb@$$s out there who take their entire 2 week wardrobe in a giant oversized suitcase that has no way in hell of fitting in the overhead, it is all ruined for the rest of us. Just check your bag! I know the charges are inconvenient, but now you ruined it for the rest of us who actually have things that need to be carried on!

Uhhh ...

Then, as I am walking up 7th in NYC I see this sign for Delta. Let's just say that my experience earlier that day did not make me amenable to receiving this well. Honestly ... how many of us are ever going to get to experience this!?!?!?! I get aspirational branding. I get marketing. I work in the industry! But really Mr. Airline ... how about you work on getting a few things right in Economy while you are soooooo busy giving your First Class a makeover. Because really ... I am the one paying your bills! One-fourth of the people sitting in First/Business don't even pay that ticket price - they get an upgrade for it!

So in conclusion -stop sucking.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Damn You Auto Correct! This one was too good NOT to repost!

If you have not heard of or visited ... then you are truly missing out on one of the funniest things online. Damn You Auto Correct. The day I discovered this on a friends blog was the day I A) lost 2 hours reading page after page of past posts and B) discovered one of the few things that can make me smile no matter how bad my day.

So ... today's was just too good NOT to share ...

Ouch ...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

406Photography: Life ... Captured

If you've been following along, you know I love to take photos. And some days, I'm even pretty good at it. My dad, who taught me everything I know, is always good at it. Great actually. Between the two of us, we make a pretty good team. We've been throwing around the idea lately of staring up a little part-time photography business - wedding, portraits, families ... whatever. We have a unique style to capture your unique style.

So we are shooting a wedding this weekend and are really excited about it! We walked around Calhoun today testing some lenses and talking about it ... should be a lot of fun. The website is almost up and running and the business cards just arrived today. It's all happening!

And in the meantime, somehow my dad manages to always find the neatest things at Lake Calhoun and take great photos of them! I am so jealous! I am always going too fast to notice these things: the child's toy someone hung from a tree, the flower someone made from an orange peel, the flier someone left on the ground, etc. Check out this site: One PicADay, they are really great!

Today, he found a colorful top and we photographed it spinning in my hand. I'm tellin' you, he can take the most ordinary thing and turn it into a beautiful photograph. Don't even get me started on what he can do with things that are already beautiful ...

Here are some of the great found photos from Calhoun:

If you are in the Minneapolis/St.Paul area and have any photo needs, please email at 406photography@mail.com. Family shots, senior photos, engagement pics ... whatever you need ...

The official 406Photography blog has been initiated and I hope to update with some client material soon after the wedding! Check it out at 406Photoraphy.blogspot.com. Followers appreciated!

Click Click Captured

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Travel Tuesday: A Sunny Day in Wien, Austria

Warm weather has finally come to Minnesota (mid May) and we all hope it is finally here to stay! I am very tired of Mother Nature's not-so-funny joke ... tempting me with one beautiful warm day, followed by a slew of cold, rainy and blah days! Stop it already ... I live in Minnesota, I get cold weather! Now give me my damn Spring!!!

Anyway. Enough ranting. Today was beautiful and just me kind of weather - 65 and sunny. Not too hot (I don't like excessively hot weather) and perfect for walking around outside and enjoying happy hour on a terrace somewhere. And thankfully my day worked out to allow for just that! At lunch I was able to take 15 minutes and enjoy my normally hurried lunch - generally spent eating while in meetings or answering meetings - sitting outside at one of the terraces at work. It was quiet, secluded and perfect. The sun was shining and there was barely a breeze, allowing the sun to warm up my skin. I just turned my face up to the sky and soaked in all the Vitamin D. My skin grew warm and the stress just lifted away from my body like a puffy white cloud. Perfection. And after work I met some folks downtown for a drink, and even though we did not get to sit outside (grrr) I did get to walk downtown a bit, and that was just as pleasant. All in all, and very good day.

Do you know what I mean about the sun? Maybe it is a Minnesota thing and we feel it more strongly because we are deprived of it so many months out of the year. But I just feel the sun and love it so much. The way it seems into my skin and warms me from the outside in and the inside out all at the same time. It makes me feel lighter. I breath more easily.

I remember those moments, pure moments of bliss soaking in the energy of the sun, around the world. Today made me think of one particular afternoon in Wien, Austria.

It was June 29th 2008 and Austria and Switzerland were co-hosting the EUFA European Futbol Championship. I was living in Switzerland that summer and had seen the activity of the first games there - the excitment, the fans, the festivities! Anyway, when it came time to decide when to visit Austria ... well ... let's just say it was not a hard decision to make. Hmmm ... when to go ... when to go? I know! How about the week of the final game?!?!? Worked out wonderfully since Germany was up against Spain and Spain (MY team) won!!! Yay! It was an incredible time to be in the city. The energy was palpable!

Fans from all over Europe were there (complete with decked out double decker buses)! The best was this open area by the museum quarter where there had these huge shoes representative of each country in the tournament and they would match up the respective shoes for each daily match. Final match ... final shoes. I am taking photos when all of a sudden (seriously) a huge group of Spanish fans approaches singing "ole ole ole ole". Then ... seriously ... a bus full of German fans come and disembark and are singing in Germany. Spanish fans approach the shoes. German fans approach. I have my camera poised for the fight I just know is going to ensue! Soccer hooligans! But no ... instead ... they all hug and pat each each other on the back and start singing louder and louder ... and posing for photos! Perfection!!!!
Anyway, the days there were incredible. On the day of the final match, I spent the afternoon at Schloss Schönbrunn, the 1400 room summer residece of the royal family. It is a beautiful spot out in the suburbs of Vienna with extensive gardens and lovely views over the sprawling city. (Side note: I love how old imperial summer residences were sooo far away back then ... but now they have been enveloped by the city limits and suburbs.)

The building itself is a beautiful warm butter and white color that reflects the sun wonderfully making it literally glow. And the pristine geometric gardens are surround by white gravel paths, further reflecting the sun's light.

The entire complex is isolated by all the gardens and buildings, making it a wonderfully quiet haven in the middle of the city. A retreat ... just like the old royals meant it to be. The sun was shining that day and I remember sitting on one of the benches eating my lunch and feeling the sun on my skin. It was perfect. My skin tingled. My mind was clear. The only sound was the occasional laugh and the distant rustline of leaves and a fountain. Peace.

I spent all afternoon there. Just walking, sitting, strolling, writing. The sun shining on me and my soul light and carefree. I wish I could bottle that moment and just pull it out and smell it; smell the grass and flower and sun tan lotion and sun (yes ... you can smell sunshine!).

I cannot wait until my next trip! So excited! I need to feel this again!!!

OMG! I forgot a B!! Books!!! Nancy Drew Books!

So if you checked out this weekend's activity blog, you know it was filled with B's - ball games, beers, brats, babies, bridesmaids and burgers (Monday's post). But I forgot one of the Bs!!! Books! I went to an estate fair where there were very slim pickins'. BUT I did manage to pickup three fabulous vintage Nancy Drew books! Great find at $2 each!

I love Nancy Drew! I have a tone of the old books and read every single version and edition when I was younger. I've even read some of the modern books on how Nancy has impacted culture and society, how the books were had various ghostwriters over the year, etc. I just love her energy and spirit, her style and her adventures. I wanted to BE Nancy when I was younger ... heck ... still do!

Anyway ... these were a great find. And don't judge me ... but I will be reading them soon!

Monday, May 16, 2011

What do Balls, Beers, Babies, Brats, Bridesmaids, and Burgers have in common?

(Tuesday, May 17th Update: OMG! I forget an important B! BOOKS! Found some great vintage Nancy Drew books at an estate sale! Check out the added blog entry on these.)

Other than the fact that they all start with B? They were all an integral part of my weekend:

Balls, Beers, Brats
Well that one should be pretty obvious - we went out to a Twins game Friday night! Not exactly my idea of a typically fun night, but it is really about the people you are with and the atmosphere. And although it was blisteringly cold day (seriously, I regret not bringing my mittens), we had a lot of fun! I got tickets for us to go with our Singaporean friends because, really, what is more American then going out to a ball game?!?!? Well ... going out to a ball game and enjoying beers and brats!

Saturday it was onto a friends baby shower. She is the first of my friends to take this next step in life. So excited for her and her husband and it has been such fun hearing all her stories ... can't wait to meet Baby H this summer! And ... in pursuit of the perfect baby shower gift I ventured into yet uncharted territory at Target: the baby section. Let me tell you - there is an entire world of shopping opportunity out there that I had not even known existed! Haha. Reminds me of the Shopaholic books where she gets the pram and uses it to haul shopping bags. That would so be me. Baby's gotta walk now ... mommy needs more room for her shopping bags!

No, I am not a bridesmaid in anyone's wedding! But I did see the movie. Hangover ... for women. With its own share of dirty jokes and raunchy scenes, this movie will make you laugh, but it also has heart and explores the relationships between women. Enjoy! I will say, it was funniest when it was not purposfully trying to be over-the-top-funny. And ... it went a little long for my taste.

And the perfect way to end a weekend: sitting outside at Burger Jones enjoying an Oreo shake, cheese curds and a delicious burger.

All in all ... a good weekend.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Rules of the Road - Lake Calhoun Edition

Spring is officially here! And before you know it ... summer will be here too! Everywhere you go people are out and about: walking, running, pushing strollers, driving with the windows down. Here in Minnesota, we take full advantage of nice weather because we know it is short-lived.

So, that leads me today's list. While out running at Calhoun today I became annoyed at some of my fellow pedestrians. Just follow a few simple rules and everyone can enjoy the outdoors!
  1. Don't smoke on the path - Don't smoke in general, but especially don't smoke while walking on the path and therefore submit me to your smoke as well. Seriously, people come out to enjoy the fresh air and get exercise - not to inhale second hand smoke.
  2. Don't take up the whole path - Pretty self explanatory, there are people going both ways so don't make it difficult for everyone else.
  3. Keep your dog on a short leash - I love dogs. Really, I do. But ... let's reign in the leash on the path. I don't like tripping over your dog/leash.
  4. Pick up after your dog - Common courtesy. Seriously.
  5. Move the fashion show to the mall - I don't care what you wear (though I reserve the right to make fun of it), except when it interferes with my activities. The girls strutting their stuff in their mini skirts and fancy shoes tend to NOT follow rule #2 noted above.
  6. When merging, LOOK - It's not that hard. Common driving rules apply here as well. If you were merging in traffic, you would look both ways. Do the same when you are merging onto the path, otherwise a crash could ensue.
  7. Keep the bikes on the bike path - Duh.
  8. Manage small children - I like kids (other people's kids that is) but I don't like when they are walking and suddenly double back and run right into me.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

School photos = OMG (someone should have told me my hair was horrible in high school)

There was a discussion on 20sb yesterday that inspired this post. It asked to post a photo of yourself from high school and write a letter from today-you to then-you commenting on the fashion/hair choices. Oh dear. I have to say, for the most part I was pretty happy with the wardrobe choices (though I found a doozy to submit), but the hair and face was bad all around.

So while looking for a photo to submit, I came across all of my old school photos. I apparently scanned them all in an one time. For fun I thought I would post them here ... with some comments ... hehehe.

1st grade
ok ... that's just cute!
2nd grade
I was so blonde ... and so obsessed with those overalls and red (the red part stuck)
3rd grade
Gotta love the sweater ... and the fact that I look like I am talking
4th grade
My fav! Hair was good, and that outfit was awesome! Had matching pants AND skirt!
5th grade
Not so good. That color did nothing for me, and no good with hair behind ears.
6th grade
Again with the hair behind the ears ...
7th grade
Worst. The hair - length, flip, little clips!
8th grade
Good. Very grown up. The shortest my hair ever was. Like the background.
9th grade
High school was just all bad hair. I blame it on the swimming.
10th grade
Stop ... tucking ... the hair!
11th grade
Oh god. I blame the swimming. My next looks HUGE!
Senior Photo
Oh joy. Fashion sense was discovered ... along with a straighter. Senior Prom
I had always worn black and elegant gowns to my formals ... but for senior year
i wanted to just go FUN! So i got a big puffy pink dress and had Shirley Temple hair!

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