Wednesday, December 31, 2014

"The List" 2013/2014: Accomplishments - Part 2

This is part 2 of a 2-part post. You can read part 1 here.

I did it! I met my goal! Altogether, I accomplished 26 items from my 2013/2014 List - 25 original items and one "bonus" item. That said, I have been horrible about sharing my accomplishments and adventures here on TwentyTenThirty, so to make up for it, I'm serving up a 2-part snapshot-style write-up to knock them all out. Let's do this!

Part 2

51. Spend the night in a castle: When B and I attended HRL's murder mystery dinner party in January 2013 (also known as #15 on the 2013/2014 list), the location was Spicer Castle Inn. Given the name of the Inn where we stayed, I'm totally counting it as an item completed. Yeah, it's a stretch...I'm ok with that.

60. Go to NYC for fun (NOT as a part of a business trip!): OK, so this trip was actually a work trip to start, but I extended it into the weekend, and B flew out to meet me so we could celebrate his 30th birthday in NYC. Yeah, baby! We had a blast, including a stay at a trendy boutique hotel near Columbus Circle, saw a show (Avenue Q), did some sight seeing (Circle Line, High Line, MoMa, etc), and had some great meals (including a great steak dinner at The Smith). Here's the birthday boy in Times Square while we were waiting in line at TKTS.

Wooo! B turns 30!

71. Get a hot stone massage: B and I did this during our recent 'minimoon' in Traverse City at the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa. Aaaah, luxury!
72. Make a snow angel: B and I did this one on Lake Calhoun, the day we encountered a lake dinosaur!!! Confused? You can read about it here.

76. Travel by Nice Ride: According to, Minneapolis is the #1 bike-friendly city in the US. We've enjoyed several "Nice Rides" around the chain of lakes - a great spring/summer activity. AND, I have to point out, bike sharing came to be in MPLS in 2010, WELL BEFORE it was brought to Chicago, NYC, and SF. See? MPLS can totally lead the trends!

79. Lake Minnetonka boat cruise: In June, 2013, my Mom and Step-dad came to visit B and I here in MPLS. I wanted to take them to the Walker Sculpture Garden and other fun outdoor adventures, but the weather chose not to cooperate. Therefore, we had to stick to indoor activities, like a trip to the Mill City Museum. Thankfully, the weather cleared up toward the end of their stay, and we were able to cash in on my Wayzata Bay Charter Groupon for a champagne boat cruise on Lake Minnetonka. It turned out to be a lovely outing, and here's a photo of my Mom and me on the cruise.

I love my Mom!

81. Send photo Christmas cards: I don't know about you, but the majority of Christmas Cards we now receive are photo cards. This year we were busy getting married and whatnot, and since we're still finishing up our thank you notes (so close!), we opted not to send holiday cards. However, last year, we decided to get in on the photo card action -- but we opted to do New Year's cards instead of Christmas cards (I'm still counting it as meeting this goal). 2014 was an awesome year for me, maybe the best I've ever had. Here's a copy of the card we sent to ring in the new year and kick off the kick ass year. It was fun putting our card together (with the help of VistaPrint), and we'll definitely do it again down the road.

2014 was an incredible year!

87. Host a game night: Completed! We hosted a little game night (including Telestrations, one of my favorite party games) as a part of our Wisco ski adventure, so check-check-cha-check-check it out!

93. See Aziz Live!: Aziz is so fun to see live, I checked off this list item twice. B and I saw Aziz live for the first time in 2013 and again in 2014 here in Minneapolis. What a funny little dude. Did you know Aziz studied business in undergrad? What the Whaaat? So glad he found his true passion as an entertainer and comedian! My write up is here.

95. Pay off my car: I crossed this on off the list in early 2014. This is the first car I've owned outright, completely on my own. My dad bought my first car for me from a police auction when I was in high school. It was beat up Hoopty -- some kind Chevy I think? A Cavalier? that sounds right maybe, I don't know, it was old and kind of rusted. For a while, I was driving around with a loose clamp hanging under the car that my friends and I called "Chucky" because of the awful and terrifying noise it made dragging on the pavement. Anwyay, Hoopty died my during freshman year in college. My next car, also gifted to me by family, was a blue Suzuki Esteem (aka "Suzy Suzuki", or it's lesser known name "The Blueberry", or its even lesser known moniker, courtesy of my friend RH, the "Suzuki Self-Esteem"). Suzy Suzuki survived for ~6 years or so, and died on Thanksgiving day, during my drive home to Thanksgiving dinner in the mid 2000s. I was stranded on the side of the road for about an hour waiting for my dad to pick me up and waiting for the tow truck. Shortly after Suzy's untimely end, I leased my third car -- and I now realize that leasing a car is basically like lighting money on fire -- but it helped me to get into a set of wheels quickly. Car three was a Chevy Cobalt, a great and reliable little car. It had a sun roof, and it was awesome. When my lease ended while I was living in Chicago, I finally decided to purchase a car, with my own money, like an adult. My step-dad is a GM retiree, and I was able to cash in on a nice family discount and selected another reliable Chevy, this time a Malibu. I purchased my Malibu while living in Chicago...and now 5+ years after my purchase, that Malibu has less than 30K miles on it. No joke. In Chicago, I public trans-ed it to work, and in Austin, I worked from a home office, so for about 3 years, I basically only drove on the weekends. I'm so happy to own my Malibu outright, and given its low mileage and my diligent vehicle upkeep and maintenance routine (regular oil changes and such), I'm going to be driving this car for many years to come.

98. No Diet Coke for a month: I knocked this one out of the park, kicking the habit for muuuch longer than a month. That said I've recently back slid, and am currently 'off the wagon', but I don't drink it all that often. I know I'd be better off if I once again did away with diet coke entirely, and I'll likely tackle this goal again in early 2015. I wrote about this one here.

102. BONUS - Visit the Southern Hemisphere: I was kind of dreading my recent work trip to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It was right after my wedding, I didn't have a lot of time to mentally prepare for foreign travel to a country, I was woefully unfamiliar with the language, and I was facing an intimidating client environment (Yeah, let's see how chill YOU are leading up to a presentation to an audience that includes 25 global CEOs, followed up by a presentation to an upwards of 100 industry professionals and see how calm you feel about it!!), Of course, the trip turned out to be awesome, incredible, stellar, badass, etc...and I wrote about it here.

99. Get Hitched!: I'm listing this one "out of order", but I wanted to save the best for last. B and I got married in Ann Arbor on a beautiful fall day this past October, and thew a helluva party to celebrate. This life event deserves so much more than a few quippy sentences, and one of my 2015 goals is to organize our memories from this special day. But, for now, I'll let this photo do the talking. One of the best days of my life!

Photo credit: Jesse D. Green Photography

And, that's a wrap on 2013/2014 list tackling. Tune in on New Year's Day 2015 for the new list!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

"The List" 2013/2014: Accomplishments - Part 1

I did it! I met my goal! Altogether, I accomplished 26 items from my 2013/2014 List - 25 original items and one "bonus" item. That said, I have been horrible about sharing my accomplishments and adventures here on TwentyTenThirty, so to make up for it, I'm serving up a 2-part snapshot-style write-up to knock them all out. Let's do this!

Part 1

2. Take a Saxophone lesson: I'd been wanting to tackle this one for YEARS! I originally picked up the Alto Sax in 6th grade (or maybe 7th?) and I played for about 4 years before "retiring." I kept my saxophone over all these years, vowing to one day play again, and in August of 2013, I began taking lessons. I picked it up pretty fast, and enjoyed having a creative outlet and a release from the long and hectic consulting hours I was working at the time. I took lessons for about a year (even started learning Jazz!), a year in which I got engaged and planned a wedding and started a new role at work, and...well...I pretty much got the Saxophone out of my system as other priorities nudged their way to the forefront. Maybe I'll pick it up again someday, but for now I'm no longer "bringing Saxy back" (bahahaa! funny!) and my instrument is once again placed on the back burner.

6. See Book of Mormon: B and I completed this one together (he got tix thru a lottery at work), and it was such rambunctious, politically incorrect fun! I wrote about it here.

9. Visit Italy: B and I enjoyed an unbelievable 2 week vacation in Italy in May 2013. During our trip, we visited Rome, Positano and Florence (including day trips to nearby Pisa and Greve) and had some amazing adventures in each destination. Throughout our trip, I journaled our adventures in great detail - over 75 pages worth. But for purposes of documenting here, I'll spare you the 75 page run down and instead share this photo I took inside the Flavian Amphitheater in Rome, more commonly known as the Colosseum. Our tour gave us access to areas that many people don't get to see, including views from the hypogeum (underground), which is where this photo was taken.

That's me in Rome in 2013, in the hypogeum (underground) of the Colosseum.

15. Participate in a murder mystery dinner party: B and I completed this one in early 2013 for HRLs birthday. Such a fun and unique experience, and the full write up is here.

27. Visit Duluth: OK. Let me set the stage. It's New Year's Eve, leading into 2014. We're Way Up North in Duluth, ready to tackle the slopes with our friends. But, Mother Nature has other plans. It's 30 below -- and that's before factoring in the windchill! So, no skiing for us. Still, we had fun in Duluth in our cabin house right on the water.

28. Rent a cabin “up north”: Technically, I've tackled this one twice -- as a part of the above-mentioned Duluth trip, and previously for our early 2013 Wisco Ski Adventure. You'll find a link to that a few items below - #38 "Go Downhill Skiing."

30. Go ice skating: Turns out, I'm terrible at ice skating. B and I went last winter, and I've promised to go again this coming winter, but boy do I suck. The Depot Ice Rink here in downtown MPLS where we went to skate (and will probably go again this year) is pretty cool though.

32. Get out of credit card debt...once and for all!: I'm VERY proud of this one, and I pulled off this feat in 2013. I really owe this accomplishment a much more in-depth write-up than it's going to get here. But, for now I'll just say I racked up a lot of credit card debt in my early adulthood, a result of a strange combination of true necessity and sheer stupidity. After getting my sh** together and toiling through a long period of of careful budgeting and detailed financial planning, I cleaned up that mess. While I'm not proud of getting into debt, I am very proud of taking responsibility and getting out of it on my own. In the process I've emerged as a master saver, and am all-around much more savvy with my finances. My carefully cultivated financial prowess (combined with B's natural saving savvy) even helped us to pay for our pretty nice (if I do say so myself) fall 2014 wedding outright with no lingering debt.

38. Go downhill skiing: Turns out, B's a natural! It's been fun reconnecting with my downhill skiing roots. We'll stick to the Midwest for one more season, and in 2016 I want to introduce B to some "real" skiing out west! Check out my Wisco Ski Adventure entry for details.

41. Visit wine country: During our 2013 Italy trip, B and I visited one of the ULTIMATE wine countries, drinking our way through the wine region of Chianti in Tuscany, not too far outside of Florence (Firenze). We couldn't have asked for a more gorgeous day for our semi-private tour. Our tour included visits to two incredible (and incredibly different) wineries for lessons and tastings, an impressive lunch (with amazing country views!) at Osteria dell'ignorante, and a stop in Greve, considered the unofficial wine capital of Chianti region. The first winery we visited, Castello di Poppiano, is owned by the famed Guicciardini family, and is located in a real, Medieval castle with breathtaking 360 views. This stop included an olive oil tasting as well. The second winery we visited, Solatione, is much smaller, and family run and its unbeatable Chianti Classico wines are not currently available in the states. Both were amazing, and we picked up several bottles at each location. Here is a photo of me at the Castello.

Castello di Poppiano. Is this heaven?

42. Visit my sister in El Paso: B and I spent Thanksgiving 2013 in El Paso visiting my sister and brother-in-law. One of the highlights of our trip was visiting White Sands in NM. The sands were covered in snow, and we had a blast going sledding down the dunes. Here's a pic from our White Sands adventure!

B and me at White Sands doing our Teenage Mutant Nina Turtles impression. Heroes in a half shell!

44. Practice yoga “consistently” (average one or more class a week for at least  8 weeks): Earlier this year in late February, I decided to get back into a regular yoga practice. I found terrific and inviting little studio, right here in Uptown called Your Yoga, and was going 3-4 times a week for a while. I've attended a handful of studios over the years, and this one is the best I've experienced. I fell out of routine this fall (I was only a little busy with the wedding and whatnot, you know), but am now getting back into the groove once again. Meditation, peace, strength and endurance all rolled into one. What's not to love?

45. Complete 21 Day Sugar Detox: I'm so proud of this accomplishment, and I wrote about my progress daily as I experienced this one. You can read a summary of my detox experience here.

Stay tuned for Part 2, coming out tomorrow, 12/31!