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Cottage Week 2014

I once again must ask your forgiveness for my absence. Life has been busy! We have finally relocated to the Windy City, and I couldn’t be happier. I have been waiting do to an update until I got my new computer (after 8 years), so here we are, finally! But alas, you will have to wait just a bit longer for the Chicago adventure update.

I am spending my annual week at my cottage and have finally gotten around to doing something that has been 16 years on the “to-do” list. I just purchased a gravestone for my mother’s plot up here. She is “buried” (and I mean her ashes) at a plot in the Presque Isle Township Cemetery, but she has never had a gravestone. Each year I go to visit, I sit by a tree that is near to her plot (not remembering which location exactly is hers). Last year I discovered that her tree had been removed. As if I hadn’t felt ridiculous enough talking to a tree, now I get to just sit there and talk to grass; a generalized guess of where I think is the right spot.

Today, I finally walked into the local memorial store (I wanted to call it something fun like the Engraved Granite Boutique) and picked out a stone for her. It was a little daunting trying to pick something like that out, but I went with simple, basic info, and paid the nice man. In 30 days, Mom will finally have a stone and I (and my brother) will have a place to visit.

It is strange, but it feels like another piece of the puzzle to becoming “me” and taking charge of my life. Sort of “if you want something done, you have to do it yourself”. It just all fits back into my theory of it being your life and you can’t be afraid to take the reins and make things happen.

It is a little victory, but big or small, they all count.

If I am not back before, have a happy 4th of July! Sending you all love and well wishes of independence!

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72 Hours of Engaged Bliss and Already….

Type A Gemini twin and panic are setting in. (Side note: this will NOT be turning into a wedding blog, but you will be hearing about it on occasion.)

We are not concerning ourselves with a massive, go for broke, traditional wedding.. though those are beautiful.  We want something relaxed, laid back and all about our friends and family (not to mention we have two years to plan). I am noticing that even those have plenty of planning that goes into them and hundreds of things to think about.

Thankfully, I am surrounded by wonderful friends who have done this before and are willing to lend a hand, and I refuse to lose my sense of humor and focus on what a wedding is about in a pile of linen choices and flowers. BUT, I ask you, dear readers: To those who have been married before, what piece of advice would you go back and give your newly engaged self? 

Peace and blessings! Momma is headed out for a fabulous run tonight since training for the Chicago Marathon starts next week!

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You’re welcome

Is this Real Life?

Let’s just take it back to Friday when I had to drive to Chicago for an interview.

I was extremely excited about this position: PR for a start-up in Greek Town that produces premium, 100% natural, human-grade dog treats called Lincoln Bark.  The thought of doing PR for a start-up is a dream to me, especially a company like this with so much potential with a product I believe in!

I immediately fell in love with the owner, and we sat and chatted for two hours. She offered me the job on the spot, but it was only for two days a week.  I didn’t think 1. that would be nearly enough time for me to accomplish what the company needs and 2. that wouldn’t be enough money for me to live on.  This was a great opportunity though!  She told me to think about it and talk it over with Paul.

Saturday morning I sat down to write her a thank you  note when my email dinged.  It was an email from her offering me the position again but for full-time! After a super quick chat with Paul, I accepted!  

We then got ready to head out to our “Preakness Stakes” themed going away party, hosted by our dear friends.  All (well most) of our closest friends were gathering for one last soiree to give us a send-off. It was perfect!

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You can’t have a party without cheese…

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My handsome man!

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You also can’t have a party without puppies

About an hour and a half into the party, the hostess called everyone into the living room to give a toast.  It was so great looking around at all of our closest friends and having them there with us… weird that they ALL had cameras, so I was feeling a little awkward. Then Paul said a few words telling our friends that they were our family and our home. Paul then said I had exciting news to share, so I told everyone about my job, I toasted to full-time employment and thought we were done when suddenly Paul said, “and there is one more thing”, and proceeded to drop to one knee and pull out a ring.

This is probably the part where you want to hear the sweet words he said and how I started to cry… but no, that would be too easy for us.  Paul was immediately bombarded by the 3 golden retriever puppies that were in attendance, one which was trying to eat the ring. I blacked out and didn’t hear anything he said, but proceeded to flap my hands like a mad woman and call him an asshole because he had tricked me and said he wasn’t going to propose anytime soon.

Thank God I stopped my hands long enough and shut my mouth to hear him say, “will you spend the rest of your life with me?”, and I slid my puppy drool lubed ring on my finger and held on to a tiny shred of romance by hugging and kissing my fiance. 

How amazing to have all of our “people” there. It was a dream of mine to have our engagement happen like that and it was perfect.  People really only remember the dog and the asshole comment, but it was perfectly us, and we got to spend the rest of the day with everyone celebrating.

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Dinner post going away/engagement party

There are better pictures that I can post later, but all I can say, in the most cliche way ever, is that I am the luckiest girl in the world!

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P.S. Holy shit, I’m a bride….

Adventures in Detroit!

Detroit gets a pretty bad rap from most of the nation, and most of Michigan; me included sometimes. 

Having grown up in a suburb of Detroit, I was fortunate enough to go to the Detroit Symphony, Tiger’s games, hockey games to cheer on the Red Wings, the Fox Theater and other little Detroit treasures.  As an adult, though, short of the occasional Tiger’s game, I never go to Detroit, and I never really want to… Until I met my new co-worker Dana who lives in, and LOVES, Detroit.

She planned a Detroit day for Paul and me so that we could see Detroit through the eyes of a natives.

We started with coffee at her amazing loft which is right across the express way from Comerica Park and Ford Field and then made our way over to Eastern Market.

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Detroit skyline

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They had the most amazing flowers!

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I thought this couple selling bread was just too cute to not take a picture of.

We then headed across the street to grab brunch at this great little place: 

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They had so many great options and most everything is made from local goods, plus it is cafeteria style seating, so you can make some new friends. How many people would have guessed that there were places in Detroit to get a vegan waffle? 

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So good!

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Then we headed to Dana’s boyfriend’s building.  It is a former Model-T dealership in Cork Town that he is renovating.  The place just reeks of history and has the most amazing details! A tin ceiling, tiled floor, and two roof spaces for amazing views of Detroit.

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Ambassador Bridge from the roof top

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Michigan Central Station. It is abandoned now, but is still a gorgeous piece of architecture.

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The site of the old Tiger’s Stadium, now used as a park.

The second floor of his building is his living space, and is the coolest loft style space I have ever seen. So much potential!

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This doesn’t do it justice

We met a woman who rents a small retail space in the building and grew up in Cork Town.  It was amazing to sit and listen to them talk about the history of Cork Town like when the Tigers won the World Series in ’84 and when people were bused into downtown Detroit when mental hospitals were closed around the state.  You get a whole new appreciation for a city when you get to spend time with people who love it and are investing in it.  

Our last stop in Detroit was Slow’s BBQ (for a vegetarian, I end up at a lot of BBQ places).  It has a great reputation, and speaking only on behalf of the beer, service and mac n’ cheese, it was amazing.

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And one last look at Michigan Central Station:

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Detroit may get a bad rap, but there is tons to do in this city and lots of life thriving in it.  It’s not out of the woods yet, but Detroit will have better days again.

(sorry for the terrible photos, I forgot my good camera at home)

Sangrias and Ball Gowns

Saturday was an official “spring day” here in Michigan, so Paul and I headed to Grand Rapids to meet up with some fabulous friends of ours, Doug and Samay, to enjoy the city’s best sangrias at San Chez:

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What an eclectic place! Amazing food (I had vanilla, maple steel-cut oats), free-spirited atmosphere, and the sangrias were to die for!

After breakfast, the boys headed out to visit all of the local breweries while Samay and I chatted and finished off 2 pitchers of sangrias. We have officially launched the tradition of Sangria Saturday.

What else are 2 girls to do on a glorious spring day in down town Grand Rapids after inhaling that much sangria? Shop of course! 

An hour of meandering the shops and streets, Samay wanted to go look at a jewelry store which so happened to be located right next to a bridal salon. Samay dragged me in… I didn’t want to be the “yet to be engaged woman looking at dresses”.  But I was welcomed with open arms, strong arms, that before I knew it had me in a dressing room. 

“Ok, one dress” I said to myself. 

The first dress was an A-line Lazaro that looked gorgeous on the mannequin, but quickly turned into a taffeta monster once I started to dive into it. I swear to God, I thought it was going to eat me alive. It was ginormous, uncomfortable, and I felt like a massive cupcake. 

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This is dress 1. Not me in dress 1 of course. I almost wish I had allowed pictures so you could all laugh along with me.

You know what isn’t fun? **TMI ALERT***Trying on wedding dresses when you are 40lbs over weight, hung-over, haven’t washed your hair in days, on the 2nd day of your period and pretty sure  you need to change your tampon, and needing to poop.  Oh yeah, how is that for the bridal glow.

When I got the first itchy monstrosity off of me, they had 3 more in the dressing room waiting for me. So picture me in the dressing room in a Target bra which didn’t match my polka dot bikini briefs and green and white striped Michigan State calf socks…. unshaven for many moons.  SEXY.

My second dress was a hideous beaded corset top with another A-line skirt. Just no.

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These dresses don’t look like this on normal people with a top knot and no makeup.

As I sauntered gracelessly back into the dressing room, trying not to trip on or rip my third massive gown, the sales woman says to me, “You don’t wear dresses often do you?”.

I raise an  eyebrow at her, because this is the most absurd question I had been asked all day. “What do I look like, a Disney princess? No, I don’t frequently wear ballgowns”.

The fourth dress was actually a surprise to me.  It was a trumpet silhouette and was the most flattering of them all. Not hating it aside, I denied their request for more dresses and raced to the dressing room to escape, passing another incoming bride who was ecstatic to try on dresses.  From the looks of her, not only did she have the bride gene, but she wasn’t hung over, had washed her hair and had probably shaved her legs in the last 2 weeks. I was more than happy to tap her into the “master bridal suite”.

Note to self: prepare for a trip to a bridal salon by shaving, wearing cute underwear, doing your hair and makeup, but never forget to always: 

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And really, at the end of the day, I’ll have fun getting married even if I’m in sweatpants and a hoodie (which I assure you I won’t be). 

A case of the DIYs

It is no secret that Paul and I are moving in less than 2 months (yay!), and I have been in full on type-A mode prepping for our new apartment. I feel that it is time to do away with all of my used and loved college furniture and get a fresher look for our home.

Enter new couch, new rug, new comforters, and new desk… oh wait, I’m poor; so that was the end of our new stuff. Time to get creative.

For years I have had an orange couch, a burgundy recliner, and an overall “fall theme” in my living room.  it is time to lighten things up.  Not being able to afford a new recliner, and truly loving the one I have, I decided to take it into my own hands, along with a staple gun and some fabric, to create a new look:

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I started out with this bad boy.  Paul just left me to my own devices in the 3-season room and said “don’t staple yourself”.  An hour and a half later:

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Voila! 

It wasn’t without its struggles, oh no, but from the front it is extremely presentable.

Advice to others:

1. If you read a blog and they say “I just got 5 yards of fabric to redo my chair”, get 6.  Just trust me, get 6…. and don’t look at the back of my chair which is currently still burgundy.

2. I know buying a staple gun is exciting, but make sure that you buy the right size staples.  I knew there were different lengths, but surprise! There are also different widths.

3. Read the instructions before attempting to load the staple gun.

My next project was redoing the top half of a desk that has been in my family for 20 years.  I have decided to keep the top half to use as a book shelf in the new apartment.  I figured “how hard could it be to paint over wood?”.  Paul, the voice of reason and experience, my own personal Yoda, suggested that I sand it down first so the paint sticks. I figured paint would just stick to wood anyway, but ok. 

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After finding extra paint in the basement, I realized that I didn’t have a paint brush.  This was divine intervention because I figured while I was out, I should get some fabric to cover inside and make it really cool!

I went out, got my brush, got my fabric, and settled down in the living room to get to work. “Did you get primer?”

The F&$K?!?!

Why does Paul insist on interrupting my “shoot and holler shit” methodology of life with practicality and legitimate questions?

“Um….” glancing quickly at my bucket of paint, modern invention is on my side.”PAINT AND PRIMER IN ONE!!!” I yell at him, as if saying “Boom! I already thought of that”. Nope, I just got lucky.

2 coats of paint later, I was ready to put on some fabric.  Not to sound like a kindergarten drop-out, but I am AWFUL at cutting straight lines. It was not pretty, but after a number of attempts, my master piece was finished:

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Now I kind of want to keep the  bottom half of the desk and just repaint that too.  

I have never been much of a DIY person, but I am having some fun 🙂 

t-minus 57 days until the move!

 

Running the Chicago Marathon in Pink!

My first marathon was the Chicago Marathon in 2011 and it made me realize 2 things.

1. I was even more in love with the city of Chicago than I had previously thought; and

2. I couldn’t wait to run another marathon.

Two and a half years later I have finally signed up for my second marathon, and I will be returning to the streets of Chicago (soon to be my new hometown) to run for one of my favorite non-profits, Bright Pink

For those readers who don’t know, I lost my mom to breast cancer almost 16 years ago and know far too many amazing women who have been affected by this disease.  This fall, I will run for them!  

Bright Pink is an amazing organization that offers education, support and is leading the charge for early detection and prevention for not only breast cancer, but ovarian cancer as well.  They really have an empowering message, and I couldn’t be more excited to run on their fund raising team.

I have 6 months to raise $1000, so please feel free to stop by my fundraising page: http://www.stayclassy.org/stephanieericson 

Have you been touched by breast cancer somehow? Share your story with me and I would love to add you or your loved one’s name to my list of reasons I am running.  

We are almost to spring, and I hope everyone is surviving the weather wherever you are!

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My mom, brother and me from back in the day (Dad got cropped for icon usage purposes… sorry, Dad ❤ !)