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12 Days of Christmas Gifts (2013)

Christmas is coming!  We’re less than a month away from celebrating the most wonderful time of the year, and I’m already picturing how I’ll decorate my house for the joyous occasion.  I KNOW.  Stop judging me for being so excited for Christmas already.  I get it, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t be excited for the Christmas season all year round.

Anyways.

Two years ago for Christmas, Jenna did this really cool thing that she found on the internet for Mark, where she did “The 12 Days of Christmas Gifts”.  So, for the 12 days leading up to Christmas, she got Mark a little gift.  She also did it last year.  The little gifts coordinate with the number of the day… That sounds confusing…. You’ll get the picture in a minute.

Last year, I decided that I wanted to do the same for Peter.  I am posting this now just in case you think you may want to do it for someone.  It takes a lot of thought to get it all together – well, it did for me anyways.  And then, of course I had to come up with a little rhyme for each day, which added extra stress, but I actually loved every second of it.

Below are the 12 Days of Christmas Gifts that I did for Pete last year.  He really loved finding a little gift every day.  It gave him something fun to look forward to, and he really had no idea what his gifts would be every day!

HUGE thanks to Jenna, B and another friend M who helped brainstorm gifts and rhymes!

Day 1 (December 14): a Dallas Cowboys t-shirt

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Day 1 happened to fall on the day that we were leaving for Dallas to go to the Cowboy/Packer game.  Pete is a die-hard Packer fan, but I thought it would be fun for him to have a Cowboys t-shirt to support his friend that plays on the team.  For this gift, I snuck in the bathroom and put the t-shirt + note on the counter while he was showering.

Day 2 (December 15): a pair of soccer socks

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Day 2 was a bit trickier, as we were waking up in a hotel room and there aren’t many hiding places.  So I put the socks in his suitcase with the little note for him to find later.  Pete had just joined an indoor soccer team, so this gift was super fitting.

Day 3 (December 16): a 3 pack of boxer-briefs

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This was the day we got back from our trip to Dallas, so I put them sticking out of his underwear drawer for him to find when he was unpacking his suitcase.  I put them there right before we left for our trip.  Jenna did the same gift for Mark, and we both used this note.  We were laughing SO HARD when she came up with it!!!  It was especially fitting for Peter because he gets annoyed with me when I call his boxers “undies”.  I can’t help that I think it’s hilarious.

Day 4 (December 17): 4 blueberry muffins

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This one was also a little tricky, because I had no idea how I was going to make it work, since we got back from Dallas really late the night before.  I ended up asking one of my friends who also happens to be one of Pete’s coworkers, to go to the store and get his favorite muffins, and then I scanned the note and had her print it and put the muffins + note on his desk for when he got to work.  He was pretty surprised that I had little elves helping me!

Day 5 (December 18): the Game of Thrones series (books)

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Pete had just started reading the first book, and he REALLY enjoyed it, but he had borrowed the first one from a friend.  How perfect that the series has 5 books!  Credit to B for thinking of this one.  I left the books on Pete’s nightstand before he woke up this morning, since he likes to read before he goes to sleep.

Day 6 (December 19): 6-pack of Mountain Dew

(We couldn’t find the note for this day, must have tossed it.  But I actually kept my brainstorm paper with all the rhymes and gifts, so I still know what the note said 🙂 )

An extra special treat today –
*Six* bottles of Mountain Dew.
Since I’ve never bought them before
It really proves how much I love you!

What can I say.  The man loves his Mountain Dew, and it was an extra special treat that his wife bought it for him.  Left this in the fridge for him to find – shocking, I know.

Day 7 (December 20): $7 worth of scratch-off lottery tickets

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Well THIS ended up being a disaster.  Jenna gave me this idea.  In Illinois, they have a “Lucky 7” lottery ticket.  Well, apparently that doesn’t exist in northern Wisconsin, at least not at the 4 gas stations where I stopped.  And also, I need to say that I’ve never even bought scratch-off lottery tickets (or any lottery tickets) before, so I put $20 in the machine, and learned that you don’t get change back.  So I was mad, and then had to buy all these damn lottery tickets.  I scratched off $13 worth in the gas station parking lot, and of course didn’t win anything, which made me even MADDER.  Pete’s ended up not winning either, but I was just so MAD about the whole affair.

I put the lottery tickets in his wallet one morning before he left for work.

Day 8 (December 21): a date night!

(Couldn’t find the note for this one either.)

Time for a date!
Dinner and the Botanical Gardens at *8*!

This one was super cute and fun, probably because I could reap the benefits as well haha.  For this one, Pete and I went to dinner and a movie – Saving Mr. Banks (Thanks A for remembering!!) – but definitely didn’t wait until 8:00 to see it…  That’s way to late for us haha but I needed a rhyme!!  In Green Bay, the Botanical Gardens have a really pretty Christmas/winter wonderland light display set up, and I love going every year.  It is soooo Christmas-y and wonderful!

Day 9 (December 22): a Packers hat

So… This one doesn’t correspond with the day (it should have been something with 9…) but if you live in Wisconsin you will remember how ungodly cold it was last winter.  Pete, my brother, my brother-in-law, and my sister’s boyfriend went to the Packers game this day, so the gift was perfect.  I put this gift in his coat pocket for him to find.

Day 10 (December 23): $10 gift card to Culver’s

(Ok, couldn’t find the note for this one either, but honestly I’m impressed that he/we kept most of them!)

Go out to lunch today on me.
*Ten* dollars at Culver’s –
Woohoo!  Lunch fo’ free!”

The man loves Culver’s, and I’m not a huge fan (aside from their custard), so it was another special treat for him.

Day 11 (December 24): 11 Hershey’s kisses

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Girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

Day 12 (CHRISTMAS DAYYYYYYYY FINALLYYYYYYYY!): a new watch

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Pete had been wanting a new watch for a while, so I splurged on the last day of gifts and got him a nice one.  He still wears it every day!

So folks, there you have it!  If you end up doing a 12 days of gifts, share your ideas with me!  I just love hearing them 🙂

And now imagine me whispering Merry Christmas a little early!! 🙂 🙂

Lost in Translation

Earlier today I arrived in the glorious Madison for World Dairy Expo.

When I was getting out of my car at the hotel, there were 5 Dutchmen taking pictures of my license plate.  Ummmmmmmm.  I asked them if everything was ok…

Sara: Is there something wrong with my car?
Dutchmen: *laughing* No, no!  You’re license plate means something funny in Dutch.
Sara: What? What does it mean??
Dutchmen: Something bad.  Don’t worry.
Continue reading Lost in Translation

Walworth County Fair

You know how when you’re a kid, there are some things where you think, “I wish it would ALWAYS be like this.

And for most of your life, you truly believe that things will be the same.

Then, you grow up.

You go away to college, but you make it a priority to go back home – you’re not ready to break away – and miss your first days of classes.

It gets harder in the final college years, juggling an internship and applying for jobs; getting ready for that next step.  But still, somehow, you make it back home.

Continue reading Walworth County Fair

Playing catch-up

The best way that I can think to catch you guys up on the last four months is to take pictures from my phone and put them here.  I vow never to not blog for four straight months again.  I hope.  Actually, it’s been so long since I blogged that http://www.realworldsara.com doesn’t exist anymore!  Peter said something about Google not supporting something, but I’ve got my IT guy on it.  He conveniently lives with me.  So for now, we just have to use the blogspot.com address.  Have no fear!


Aaaaaaanyways.  These pictures are in chronological order.  

This was my knee after my last blog post when I fell off the ledge.  Ouchie!

I went to Canada for work and the booth across from us had someone carving things out of big ol’ blocks of cheese!  Kind of gross, actually.

We went over to the neighbor’s house and Pete got to try out our neighbor’s new bow and arrow.

My very own Katniss Everdeen.  Two bulls-eyes!  We were all shocked, to say the least.

I got a new decoration for the kitchen.  Yummmmm

The Birthday Boy!

I went to South Africa and got to go on another safari.  I saw some wildebeests in the gorge, but Simba wasn’t there, so all was well.

Africa is cool.

A couple weeks later, the women of the family went to Disney World for Taylor’s 21st birthday.

It was awesome.  We went to a luau on her birthday and drank fancy drinks that were divine.

Then I got to go on another safari in the Animal Kingdom.  Pretty awesome.

Happiest place on Earth.

I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to go to Disney World a few times.  This time, we ate at a few places we had never gone before, including Tony’s from Lady and the Tramp.

The next day we had lunch at Beauty and the Beast’s castle.  It was awesome.  That movie was one of my favorites when I was growing up, mostly because Belle had the same passion for reading that I did (and still do).

We went on some Star Wars ride and I got REALLY motion sick.  Like, if the ride would have continued for 3 more minutes, I would have needed an airsick bag…  This was obviously the before picture.

We spent some time in the WONDERFUL sunshine drinking fancy drinks.  This one was heavenly.  Take me back!!

I spent too much time in the sun (YES I WORE SUNSCREEN, ASK MY MOM) and got HORRIBLY sunburned.  I could hardly walk for two days and was essentially in constant pain.  It was a very sad return to reality after a wonderful vacation.

I made fish tacos with mango salsa for the first time ever and it was so delicious.  I could have eaten this right out of the bowl.  Actually, I did.  Oopsie!

We had our neighbors, my sister, and her boyfriend come over for the Badger game when they were in the Final Four.  It was really sad when they lost.  So. Close.

When Taylor and Kyle visited, we played board games on Sunday morning.  Our new favorite is “Ticket to Ride”.  I despise when Peter wins. 

The snow finally melted, and we could put out our patio table and chairs!

When the snow melted, we had a TON of water.  The river in front of our house went over the road!

Nice little pond in the backyard.  More like a swamp, actually.  But I didn’t care, because the snow was on it’s way OUT.

And then Mother Nature gave us a big “EFF YOU” and we had like, 4 inches of snow.  This was the end of March, in case you’re not from Wisconsin.

Easter Sunday was awesome weather.  What a great day.

We’re a great looking bunch.

Pete and I celebrated our 2 year anniversary.  Time certainly does fly!!

I had spring cleaning fever.  I wish I would have taken a before picture so that you could get the full effect.  Turns out, if I don’t fold a basket of laundry right when I take it out of the dryer, it will sit for days and days.  (I’m working on getting better…)

I bought outdoor dining plates.  I love them.

I took an unexpectedly cold shower one morning at 5.  At 10 that night, Pete did some investigating and learned the the water heater was broken (something with the pilot light and it wouldn’t re-light or something).  He did some youtubing and found a video on how to fix it.  We were both shocked that it actually worked.  My very own water heater repairman.  It’s like my dreams have come true!

This was my face when I watched the season finale of Revenge.  I sent this picture to my friend who also follows the show, but couldn’t watch the finale until the next day.  If you don’t watch that show, you are missing out – clearly.

More spring cleaning!  I love how my kitchen looks when there aren’t pot and pans and dishes all over the counters.  

B came over and we PAINTED THE BASEMENT!  I need to do the trim still, but man, what a great feeling to have the majority of the painting done!  What a great friend.  I had to do an exercise about 10 days ago where I had to set short-term goals, and one of mine was to touch up some spots that we missed on the walls.  So I’ve got about 10 days to finish that.  One of my 12 weeks goals (same exercise) was to paint the trim, so I’ve got a couple of months to do that.  And by heavens I will GET IT DONE.

This is Peter in heaven.  We had dinner with some friends and Pete got to have some quality dog time with their dog Petunia.  He was soooo happy.  But I am still heartless and won’t let him get a dog of his own.  I’m so thankful for our friends that get dogs so that he can have dog time.

We had a Taco Potluck at work and I made churro cupcakes.  They were soooooo good.  So good.  

We even had a piñata!  Just like Mexico!!

My family came up and visited over Memorial Day weekend and it was wonderful.  Except the mosquitos.  That was really unfortunate.  A great way to celebrate the start of summer!!

Nora and Joshua were really happy to spend time with us too.  Party Animals.

When I was showing my grandpa our house over Memorial Day weekend, we went down to the basement to find a bunch of water.  One of the pipes outside froze this winter, and we didn’t know it until we turned the hose on.  It’s all dried up now, but it was kind of depressing.  It’s a good thing that I’m OCD about storage, so everything was protected in the RubberMaid containers!

Pete and I finally decorated our bedroom.  I love it.  And it also helped that I dusted, so the furniture was actually polished instead of being covered in a layer of dust.  

Look!  Wedding pictures on the wall!  It only took two years…  By the way, our bedroom looks all picked up like this about once a month.  There are usually clothes on the floor and the bed is only partially made (Pete straightens the comforter every morning).  But obviously I only take pictures of it when it’s looking all straightened up.

I finally finished the hallway!  Woohoo!!!  I love it.  It looks fantastic.  

This is my favorite cluster of pictures.  Obviously because it features me and the love of my life.

Well.  That’s it.  That’s my update.  Hopefully it won’t be so long next time!!


Oh, and HAPPY SUMMER!!!!

Off a ledge

International travel is one of my favorite parts of my job.  It gives me the opportunity to learn about other cultures; try really good (and sometimes really bad…) food; make new friends with awesome backgrounds that make me feel very, very un-worldly; and finally, gives me the opportunity to have countless embarrassing experiences.  Countless.


This week I’m in Brazil, and my coworker and I couldn’t be happier to be here because it’s been around 90 degrees, and WE LOVE IT.


If you want to see more awesome and artsy pictures that I take, you can follow me on Instagram – sarajromenesko.  Except sometimes I forget that I have it, so I go through phases when I upload a lot of pics, and then won’t have any action for weeks.

I decided to bring my exercise clothes and tennis shoes on this trip in an effort to be healthier, since the food and drinks in Brazil are delicious and I am sitting in meetings and seminars all day.  The second morning I was here, I didn’t have meetings until around 10, so I woke up at 7 and decided that it was an exercise day.  I got ready and went out in search of the fitness center that the website advertised.

It was on the top floor along with the pool, so you walk up the stairs to the 4th level of the hotel, walk outside by the pool, and then walk back into a convection oven of a fitness room that is not air conditioned; has black walls, a black floor, and windows that the sun shines through very, very strongly; and fans that were not turned on and that I couldn’t find the switch for.  Sounds kind of like hell, doesn’t it?  Also, half of the machines were broken.

I set up shop on a treadmill, was disappointed that there wasn’t a little ledge to put my Kindle on, and started walking.  About 5 steps later I was sweating profusely, because as I mentioned, it is summertime in Brazil – essentially Wisconsin’s July – and I was on the top floor in a black room with no AC.

To give you a visual, the treadmills were all set up on a platform, kind of like a stage, along one wall of this hellish fitness center.  The platform was about a foot high.  It was higher than a usual step.  

An accident waiting to happen, if you ask me….

I used a pen for reference so that you can see that this is a tall ledge.  (A pen was the only thing I could find.)
Can you predict where this story is going?

20 minutes later I was ready to die, my shirt was grossly soaked through with sweat, and I had downed my 12 oz. water bottle 5 minutes prior.  I was done.  

And 1 minute later, I almost died.

I got off the machine and was walking behind the treadmills to return the teeny tiny weights that I was walking with, and as I was walking, all of a sudden my foot plunged to what surely would be my death, and my life flashed before my eyes.  Actually, it wasn’t my life, but it was the time that B and I drove off a cliff only months before, when I thought that Peter was going to be really, really mad because I ruined my car we were going to die.

Let me just say: there is a reason that my name isn’t Grace.

I went down with a thud,  and didn’t have time to yelp…  It was more like a “HU-ah” noise that escaped my lips.  I scraped my knee and elbow and hurt my wrist.  It was especially exciting because there was a twelve year old boy there that witnessed the whole thing.  

The red spots on my knee and elbow are the scrapes.  The darker orange on my shirt signifies sweat.  And the pool of water I’m in is all of the sweat that came out of my hair when I fell to the ground.

Obviously I got up REALLY FAST and pretended like nothing happened, although in my head I was like “OH MY GOD my knee effing HURTS.”  I did my best to walk without a limp as I exited that horrible, horrible place.

When I got back to my hotel room, I cranked the AC and collapsed onto my bed.  I examined my knee and saw that it was injured – a big ol’ rug-burn-esque injury on my knee, and it was throbbing.  I then went to the bathroom to look at my elbow – also scraped, but more like a small cut than a burn.  I did some circular rotations with my wrist to make sure that I wouldn’t be needing a cast; thank heavens that pain went away almost immediately.

When I showered, my injuries STUNG.  BAD.  And I couldn’t find any band-aids in my suitcase.  I wore jeans for the day which was a BIG mistake because they rubbed against my scrape aaaaaaaall day.  By then end of the night I was genuinely concerned that I may not be able to walk well the next day because my knee hurt so dang bad not only only from the scrape, but also from the impact of the floor…

I texted Jenna and told her that I was very nervous that I would have a slight limp the next day and would have to explain to my coworker what happened.  Luckily, I found 2 band-aids in the depths of my suitcase, so with a little Vaseline application and some coverage, my scrape has been looking pretty nasty, but not getting all tight and dry as scabs the size of quarters tend to do.  Still a lot of throbbing going on, and there’s a pretty gross bruise forming around the scrape.

Needless to say, I never returned to the exercise room.

D.I.Whyyyyyy am I doing this to myself?

Pinterest is simultaneously the best and worst invention of all time.  In the same way that Facebook is the best and worst invention of all time.  Today I focus on Pinterest.

My college roommate introduced me to Pinterest a good 6 months before it took the world by storm.  I immediately fell in love with the site.  Perusing it for hours, looking at recipes and planning my entire wedding from centerpieces to my dress, an embarrassing number of months before Peter proposed (but at least I was in a serious relationship that was certainly going to turn into marriage??) decorating my future house including signs that said ROMENESKO est. xxxx, ##, 201# and a nursery.  Pinterest allowed me to create my perfect world that included a restaurant sized kitchen with the most high-tech appliances and a house complete with a spiral staircase, hidden playroom beyond my future child’s closet (a la Chronicles of Narnia) and an infinity pool in the backyard that was complete with a fire pit smack dab in the center.  To achieve these dreams, I would have to either find a sugar daddy or win the lottery, none of which looked bright in my future.

Since my wedding was planned by YOU, I only ended up using one idea from Pinterest during the entire day (adorable ring bearer carrying a sign that said “Peter, here comes your bride” – that I paid someone to do), but honestly couldn’t have been happier, since we had the best wedding of all time.  Another reason that I was soooo happy my Pinterest wedding didn’t work out was because About 97% of the things that I was planning on including in my wedding were DIY (do-it-yourself for you incredibly smart, non-Pinterest, non-craft junkies).

THAT is what makes Pinterest ABSOLUTELY AWFUL.  I mean seriously, whyyyy do I think that I am a super duper craft queen with all the time and patience in the world to be able to do some of these things?  I WANT TO BE TALENTED LIKE THESE OTHER CRAFT QUEENS, and it usually doesn’t work out.

When Peter and I bought our house, I was like OHMYGOD NOW ALL OF MY PINTEREST DREAMS CAN COME TRUE!!!!!!!!  

Well.  We’ve been living in the house for over a year now, and let me tell you the God honest truth: Pinterest can suck it.  

There are a few projects that I’ve done that I’ve found on Pinterest that have been successful and made me happy.  This ornament wreath, for one.  

It’s into it’s second Christmas season and cost about $5.00 to make.  I don’t calculate my time into that equation… But that’s another story.

I’m mentally walking through every corner of our house trying to find other Pinterest projects and can’t think of any that are completed.  I’m finding several spaces where I’m thinking “OMG, Sar!  Remember when you were going to do THIS????  Better make a note of it.”  I’m also finding several unfinished projects, ideas which originally sprouted from Pinterest.

Exhibit A: The tale of the wood paneled basement.

Our house was built in 2010.  Why the original owners would put wood paneling in the basement is beyond us, ugly, and quite honestly has become a huge pain in the tush.  So, one day I was looking for house ideas on Pinterest and after several clicks, I came across a horribly wonderful blog called Young House Love.  These people are the ULTIMATE DIYers, and my GAWD are they amazing.  One of their projects was painting the wood paneling in their house that they were remodeling.  

Ah ha!  What a splendid idea!  I proposed the idea to Peter, who was less than wild about the project.  He was all “Why don’t we just pay someone to finish the basement?”  and I was all “Because we can save so much money, and I don’t want to finish the basement because it will give me another level of house to clean.”  And he was all “I am not supporting this idea.”  And then I made a HUGE mistake and was all “I’ll make it my project!  You don’t even have to help me!”  And he was all “We’ll see…..”  And let me tell you: a Peter never forgets…

So I was super motivated to paint the basement.  I did a lot of research, including making B take pictures of her parents house where they painted the wood paneling to show Peter that NORMAL PEOPLE can do this too, not just professional DIYers.  And “Peter, if B’s family can do it, I can TOTALLY do it!!”

Peter and I went to the hardware store in town and got all of the necessary equipment.  The next day, I went down to the basement and I started priming.  

And I primed.

And primed.

And THREE COATS of primer, about 6 gallons of sweat, and a few tears later, I was done.  Done in the sense of mentally and emotionally.  Unfortunately, not physically.  I hated this project.  HATED.  WHYYYYY did I ever think that I could do this on my own?  Why had a confidently told Peter that this would be my project and it would look fabulous?

I started this project at the end of September after we picked out new living room furniture.  My goal was to have the basement FINISHED (primed, painted, AND trim painted) before the new furniture arrived.

Timeline: 

September 21 – We picked out new living room furniture.

September 28 – I started the basement project.

October 17 – New furniture was delivered and I had to tell the furniture movers to put the old furniture in the center of the basement because I needed to finish painting the damn walls.

December 26 – I avoid going down to the basement because I hate looking at the unfinished walls.

It is physically paining me to look at this picture.

Now that I’ve exposed myself to the entire world, I have a new goal: to FINISH painting the basement before I start traveling at the end of January.  

SO IT SHALL BE WRITTEN; SO IT SHALL BE DONE.  (The Ten Commandments, anyone?)

In similar news, the project that I started in MAY is FINALLY (almost) finished because my mom gave me the best Christmas present ever (see item #7 on my Christmas list: “White picture frames (all sizes) so that I can finish the STUPID hallway project.”)

Another Pinterest project that I made SO MUCH MORE COMPLICATED THAN NECESSARY by wanting to paint cool frames white and hang them on the wall, when instead I could have just gone to Wal-Mart as my genius mother did and bought white frames.  All I have to do is buy a few more picture frames and I’ll be good to go!  Woohoo!

The hallway has had some variation of the above picture for ummmmm 6 months.  I thought I was being a genius when I decided to scrounge Goodwill for cool looking picture frames and then painted them white.  I then (PINTEREST ALERT) traced the frames onto wrapping paper so that I could space them out perfectly and see almost exactly what the wall would look like.
 
Well, it was all going fantastically until I didn’t read the instructions on the spray paint can.  Did you know that there is a small window of time that is less than overnight that you can do another layer of spray paint?  Well, you do now.  Alas, all of my frames were ruined.  So then, obviously I was REALLY discouraged and hated the STUPID project and STUPID Pinterest for telling me how EASY this DUMB idea was.
 
In comes my superwoman mother, buying me nice, simple, wonderful frames to put in the hallway.  This sparked a new motivation for me, and a few hours later, all the nails are in place and I’m THIS CLOSE [—-] to having the hallway finished.  

 

Now on to choosing pictures to put in the frames….