Sunday, January 24, 2010


2009 Vikings Football Season. You had a good show, and you will be missed. The northland is mourning the sad remains of our football team. Surely we know that Favre won't be back for another season next year. He'll "retire" and move on. Maybe to another loser team like the Rams.

So now we have to pick a favorite for the Super Bowl in two weeks. Will it be Payton Manning and the Indy Colts or Drew Brees and the Saints? I have to admit, I like rooting for an under dog. Seeing how it will be the Saints first time at the Super Bowl, I'm going to put my cards on them.

Besides football, we've had an eventful weekend. I had a wine tasting hosted by my mother in law's coworker. Follow that? Now, you'd never guess by looking at her, but coworker is a biker chic. A badass biker chic at that. So where did she choose to host her wine tasting? The biker club of course! And who were her guests? All of her biker friends! Needless to say, I made Travis come with me. Not that I'm afraid of bikers, you just never know.

We arrived about a half hour early to set up and meet some guests as they arrived. Originally the guest list had about 60 people on it. 60 - yes, you read that correctly. Normally I tell my hosts to invite around 25-30 people. Not everyone will show up and you want to ensure that you have a good number. So for weeks I've been anticipating this huge party and wondering how I was going to manage a crowd that big.

In the end I didn't have to. Only about 10 people showed up. We've been inundated with rain, sleet, and snow for the past two days. Apparently bikers are afraid of weather, even in their regular cars. Most of the guests were already there when we arrived, so we got a warm hello as soon as we walked in the door. Although I have a feeling that they were more excited about the alcohol than me.

It turned out to be a fun evening, even though I felt a little out of place. I did make a friend though! A 50ish biker gentleman who was very intoxicated insisted that we "get drunk" with them once we were done with "all the business stuff". He informed me that he'd been there since 11 that morning to get the fire going. And what better way to keep warm yourself than to drink some beer? I suspect he was drinking something much stronger - there were rumors of Canadian whiskey floating around. Good times!

Resolution update: I've been slacking on the exercise front, but we've been eating a lot healthier! The other night we made Pasta Fagioli, which only has 196 calories per serving. I also managed to walk out of the grocery store only having spent $77.37 for ~ two weeks worth of food. We'll have to restock on milk and bread in between, but I'm quite proud of myself!

Monday, January 18, 2010


As the new year rolls around, we are all reminded to set our resolutions and to start the year right. Then Jan 2nd comes around and all the resolutions are out the window! Don't lie, I know this is you too.

I normally don't even try to make resolutions because of this. I tell myself that it's not about Jan 1st, that I'm supposed to be living healthier/budget wise/smoke free/whatever all year long. I don't need no stinking New Year to tell me how to live right! But let's be honest here: we really do. If it were that easy then resolutions wouldn't even be a real thing. Like fairy dust.

So my resolutions this year:
1. Lose my winter weight and be in better shape altogether
2. Get financially fit
3. Eat healthier (will help with #1)

Now, I decided not to put a time limit or get really specific with these goals because that would just stress me out and everything would blow out the window. But I have to say, so far I'm doing ok. Yes, it may only be January 18th, but we gotta take baby steps here people!

Here's my progress:
1. Lose my winter weight and be in better shape altogether - I started the Special K challenge on Jan 1st. You know, where you eat cereal twice a day, snack on fruits and granola bars, then eat a regular meal. This has been slightly difficult for me because a) I hate eating breakfast at breakfast time and b) I like having something warm for lunch. Cold cereal just doesn't do it for me. But I'm trudging through and have extended my two weeks even longer. I realized that by eating the cereal that I'm setting myself up for making better choices in general. I snack on fruit cups and granola bars instead of chips or cookies. I'm also tracking my progress on, where I can enter my food on "my plate" and keep track of the food I eat. A very useful tool for holding myself accountable. You really start to feel guilty when you see the fat portion of the pie chart take up most of your daily allowance. I don't want that pie chart glaring at me for days.

3. Eat healthier (will help with #1) - no I'm not skipping #2, we'll get there in a second. Besides changing my snacking habits, I'm changing what we eat as a family. This will be tough. Travis is a meat and potatoes guy. He likes to have meat for dinner. I realize this, but do you know how much we spend on meat at the grocery store? Chicken, ground beef, pork chops, roast, meatballs - it gets to be a little excessive. So I've declared that we're eating at least two vegetarian meals a week to help us get healthy and reduce our grocery budget. I've printed off some recipes from Kraft as well as some fellow blogger's pages. I know you're probably thinking "oh goodness" but it's good food. Spinach stuffed shells, veggie pizza, vegetarian chili. This will be good for us!

2. Get financially fit - This will be the toughest for us. Maybe it should have gone first because in the long run I think it's the most important. But it all ties together. If we're in better health, we'll spend less money, if we lower our grocery budget, we'll spend less money. Travis and I have lived off a budget for the past year or so, but let's be honest - it was pretty loose. Even on tight months, we still weren't holding each other accountable for some things. Now, we're not hugely in debt or anything. We have the cars, a student loan, minimal credit card debt. But it would be so great to be debt free. So we're building a plan. I've been reading Dave Ramsey's "Total Money Makeover" , and I'm excited. It also scares the crap out of me to be honest. But I'm trying to think of it as a "scared straight" situation. With only one income and no commissions coming in, we need to stop wandering around in financial blindness. It won't be quick or painless, but I'm up for the challenge!

So that's the resolutions for this year. Hopefully I can say this time next year that I succeeded in my goals. Wish me luck!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Adventures of Maya

Since the weather hasn't gotten any warmer, we've been relegated to the house for a number of days. Of course we could be sadists and go play outside, but let's get real here: Ali does not do negative temperatures. So in the house we've stayed!

Obviously this cannot be an every day thing, as I have had to go to work here and there for some things. I have a couple new leads for some buyers, and the deal I wrote about last week was accepted with no counters. Now we're doing the closing dance, praying that things go through! He didn't ask for an inspection, so all we need is the appraisal to come in high enough and we're golden!

Since we've been spending so much time at home with Maya, we've really started to bond with her. And we take a lot of pictures of her.

Here she is saying "Guys, it is cold. Leave me alone."

Thankfully we haven't had too much snow so she doesn't have to wade through it. Travis was nice enough to clear out a little path for us around the house. It sort of looks like a racetrack mixed with a moat. She likes to zoom around the house on it 2 times and then she's ready to go in! We try to keep her away from the actual house when she's doing this because of our huge icicles. Those icicles have been known to kill people you know!

Here are some of the offending icicles. Yes, the picture is from inside. Don't hate.

Now, we all know, Maya is a dog. And dogs start to stink after awhile. So they need baths. This is such foreign territory for me since Travis and I have only owned cats since we've been together. So we filled the tub up with a little bit of water and some shampoo (it smells like green apples!) Then we put Maya in and started to get her wet. Maya was not feeling this at all. She would alternate from "if I stand her like a statue, maybe they'll forget I'm here" to "alright, I'm out of here!" as she scrambles all over the side of the tub. We managed to get her successfully bathed, although we had an audience. The cats thought her bath was the most interesting torture we could think of for the stinky dog, so of course they had to watch!

Oh yes, fun was had by all!

Maya is staying pretty warm these days, despite the freezing cold temperatures. She's lucky she has a loving pair of Floridian Grandparents that feel her pain! Mom and Dad sent her some sweaters to stay warm!

She now has a variety of clothing options. She can be sporty and wear the pink sweatshirt that says "Rock Star" or dress up a bit more and wear the black sweater with the fur collar (faux of course). The collar comes off if she's not feeling upper-crusty that day. You can tell she likes the clothing though, she's walking with a new strut!

I wrote earlier about our wine cabinet that we got for Christmas. We have since managed to get it up, although we've decided to fill it with empty bottles because we're not to sure how well it will hold with 3 full bottles in there. Here's a shot:

Very nice! We put our toasting flutes from the wedding on the top shelf. Love it!

That's all for now folks!

Monday, January 4, 2010


What's that you ask? A number, the way I feel about onions, walkie-talkie for "no"? Well, my friends, negative would be the temperature I've been living in for the past few days. A constant state of negative. How am I surviving? Lots of clothing, blankets, hot cocoa, and staying indoors. No matter what. I told Travis that I'm not leaving unless someone is bleeding. He thinks I'm kidding! Nope, not kidding. Emergency only.

The negatives have been hanging around since about New Year's Eve. So instead of going out and getting our crunk on, we decided to spend the holiday quietly with Trav's family. His grandparents invited us over for dinner, and his parents came to party as well. It was a pretty tame evening (which isn't always a bad thing), but we felt like the newscasters were having more of a party than we were! There were a few weathermen that seemed to have opened the bubbly before they gave us the nasty news of the negatives.

So we watched the east coast ring in the new year, and prepared for our own time zone's big tada. Well, we're still waiting. It was like New Year's didn't even exist for us! None of the news stations or any other channel had anything special for our midnight. So, at 11:59, we all stood, raised our glasses, and at 12:00 we said "Happy New Year!" and drank our champagne. Like I said, quiet night.

Since I haven't been going anywhere this week due to the extreme dip in temperatures (they say not to spend longer than 15 minutes outside to avoid frostbite), this week has been pretty quiet for me. The deal I was working on for my client in Colorado fell through, so we spent some time looking for other options. We ended up finding 2 that appealed to him, so yesterday I had to drive even deeper into nowhere to take a look. Both are vacant, and neither had been plowed or shoveled in awhile. Travis was kind enough to accompany me on the trip, so he managed to not get stuck in the deep snow at the first house. It was a close one though, let me tell ya! The second house was in a neighborhood (read: plowed streets) but the driveway and walks still hadn't been cleared. So I had to forage through the snow to get into the house. All my work paid off though, because we wrote up another offer this morning. Hooray! Fingers crossed that this one goes through ok!

Before you ask me, I have to admit: I do ask myself all the time "what the heck am I doing here?!?" Well, when the rest of the world is sweating themselves to death during the summer, we'll have much nicer temps! That, and we plan on going to Florida in April, so that's what is keeping me going!

In pet news: Maya is adjusting quite nicely. She and the cats are still not so sure about each other, but everyone is coping. Honestly, it's like she's always been our dog. She listens, she is used to our schedule, and I'm pretty sure that she loves us!

So that's it from the Northlands, we hope your January is treating you much warmer than our own!