whirlwind week

It’s been a long time since I was as busy as I was last week (actually, from August 23-31). Of course I was busy by choice, doing only fun stuff, so this is not a complaint. Darren had a couple friends visiting from out of state (Matt from Nebraska, & Jorim from Louisiana), so we decided to do All the Things.

As previously noted, I ended up going to the State Fair three times – that was the 23rd, 24th, and 31st. Day one was a nine-ish hour day I think, with the Wulfs. Day two was with Darren, Matt, and Jorim, and after the downpour none of us were keen on walking around with soaked shoes so we wrapped up early. Day three happened because I wanted a re-do, and the boys were up for anything, so we went back for six hours or so. Many miles were walked and much food was consumed. I regret nothing, but will probably stick to one or two days in the future.

We headed out to the Renaissance Festival on the 26th. Matt and Jorim met up with another friend that Darren wasn’t interested in seeing, so D and I bopped around together. It’s been a few years since we were there last. Good times were had.

I worked for a few days (while Darren took the boys to the Mall of America), then saw Hamilton on the 29th. I bought a season package this year way up in the cheap seats, so I’m looking forward to that. Hamilton was great, the hype is true. It didn’t change my life, but not every show needs to. It was 2 hours and 45 minutes of non-stop entertainment, worth every penny, and I would definitely see it again.

On the 30th, we went to Valleyfair. I hadn’t been to VF since 2007, but we went to Disneyland in 2015. Still, I wasn’t sure how it was going to go because I am getting Old. I skipped the upside down stuff and had to close my eyes on the one spinning ride we tried because motion sickness. Darren and I preferred the lazy river and the wave pool in the water park. As we were leaving, I was very aware of the fact that I may never return to Valleyfair again, although who’s to say, really. When I went to bed that night, every time I closed my eyes I felt like I was back on a roller coaster and was immediately nauseated. I had to sleep on my stomach. Old.

The boys left our house on Friday night, and everything is back to normal, so I think that about wraps it up. Although I also started a new hobby during this time, so I’ll blog about that soon (hint: it’s cross stitch).


State Fair Eatin’ List 2018

Opening day of the fair was glorious this year, although we were missing Jim which was tragic. As professionals, Kate, Kelsey, Courtney, and I persevered. Here’s what we consumed:

  • maple cream cold brew
  • mini donuts
  • footlong
  • sweet corn
  • jerky
  • samples in the Grandstand
  • shrimp avocado boat
  • smoked ice cream
  • cheese curds
  • chocolate chip cookie beer
  • fried Snickers
  • sweet greek puffs
  • 1919 root beer
  • chocolate frozen banana
  • turducken sausage
  • dill pickle beer
  • fried green tomatoes
  • honey cream soda float
  • honey lemonade
  • pb&j sausage
  • a First Kiss apple, newly bred at the U of MN
  • frozen apple cider
  • honey candy
  • reuben bites
  • tater kegs
  • horchata
  • general tso tacos
  • chocolate shake
  • deep fried turkey sandwich
  • chocolate milk
  • chocolate truffles
  • sangria beer
  • more coffee
  • sliders
  • twisted potato
  • sweet martha’s cookies

On Friday I returned, this time with Darren and a couple of his friends that are visiting from out of town. It was rainy, which was just fine until the downpour started. Once your shoes are soaked through, walking around the fair is just too unpleasant. That morning’s fair fare:

  • mini donuts
  • coffee
  • jalapeno cheese curds
  • corn
  • more grandstand samples
  • sweet martha’s
  • root beer
  • Chan’s chicken on a stick
  • another First Kiss apple
  • more honey lemonade
  • tipsy pie
  • aligator
  • fried Reeces
  • chili cheese ribbon fries

Darren forgot our tickets at home that day, which meant a potential third trip that definitely happened. I ended up going back with the aforementioned visiting friends yesterday (Friday), and we more than made up for the previous rainout.

  • footlong
  • mini donuts
  • coffee, always
  • corn fritters
  • bucket o’ cheese curds
  • cinna-mini donuts
  • rainbow cloud roll
  • chicken-on-a-stick
  • lemonade
  • pronto pup
  • dairy building ice cream
  • cider
  • sangria beer
  • deep fried Twinkie
  • bucket of saltwater taffy to take home

Yikes. I need a salad, stat.

hey, I went on vacation

Last week I finally ventured out to the Pacific Northwest. I’d been wanting to head out ever since Brenna moved there, and my only regret is that I waited so long.

I left MSP at 6:45 the morning of Sunday the 17th, landing at SeaTac at 8:45 thanks to the magic of air travel and time zones. Brenna and her boyfriend, Taylor, picked me up and after a quick stop for snacks, we headed out for a day-long road trip. Starting in Tacoma, we headed north and eventually hit Hwy 101 to drive the Olympic Peninsula Loop.

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Misc. parts of the Olympic Peninsula Loop.

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We made two stops: one at Second Beach, where we hiked about a mile (uphill both ways!) through the forest and ended up at the ocean.

The second stop was at Hoh Rainforest, which involved another one mile hike, through the Hall of Mosses.

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The Hall of Mosses at Hoh Rainforest.

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(if these aren’t showing up as slideshows, click though!)

We pulled over at Ruby Beach, which was stunning, and then finished the trip with a stop at the bar. Of course!

By the time I got to bed I had been up for over 24 hours. Not on purpose! It was worth it for the adventure. It also means I slept in on Monday morning, so Monday was Tacoma day. Aside from getting the impulse tattoo (which is actually on my left shoulder), I spent most of the day walking around, popping into coffee shops and various little stores. Brenna lives in the north end of Tacoma, which is a sweet little neighborhood in walking distance to a lot of cool shops, a cute park, and not too far from the waterfront at the bottom of a big ol’ hill. So, yeah, I walked around, stopped for a couple snacks, went to the Museum of Glass, and hiked back up hill in time for dinner and the bar. Vacation!

Tuesday I woke up at an obscene time and couldn’t get back to sleep. Once the sun came up I headed out and took the commuter train into Seattle. I got there a little before 9am, so I had a couple hours (for coffee, obvs) before all the touristy stuff opened and it got busy. I checked out the Curiosity Shop and was the first person on the Great Wheel when it opened. After wandering across downtown, I hopped on the monorail to the Space Needle.

I walked back down through Pike Place, picked up a souvenir for Darren, and got on the first train back to Tacoma. I was tired! I stopped by a grocery store and picked myself up a little picnic to enjoy in Wright Park. Later, we went back to Hank’s for drinks and pizza.

My flight out on Wednesday didn’t leave until about 5:30, but after a late breakfast and one more souvenir shop, I was ready to head out. I took the bus to the airport (so this trip involved travel via car, plane, train, light rail, monorail, and bus), kicked it there for a while, stuffed my face with Qdoba, and about 45 minutes before departure discovered that Delta had assigned me a premium seat. Score. I watched Lady Bird on the flight, had second dinner, and landed at MSP at 10:45.

What a delightful adventure. It was so great to spend time with Brenna (who is an excellent host), and also do some solo exploring. I need to take more of these mini-trips.

updates in list form

Wow, have I been a blog slacker. Let’s talk about things! I’ve done some stuff and never got around to posting about it. Here goes…

House stuff:

  • I painted the guest room grey (Magnetic Grey) & white like a year ago, and it’s been furnished. I still haven’t take pictures. Mehhhh.
  • I painted the accent wall on the back porch/sunroom the same color.
  • Painted the upstairs bathroom the same grey as the half-bath (Pencil Sketch)
  • Changed out the kitchen cabinet knobs for these ones from Amazon
  • Added some more indoor plants (referencing my Winter To-Do List). Current tally:
    • spider plant & snake plant in the dining room
    • snake plant in the entry – it’s currently growing a little baby
    • snake plant & pothos in the bedroom
    • air plants in the kitchen
  • Replaced the living room rug with a larger, heavier, more neutral one. Of course I can’t find it on Target’s website. I love the old one and moved it to the basement; it just isn’t sturdy enough for such a high traffic area.
  • We’re getting gutters soon, finally. It was supposed to happen this past fall, but weather did not permit.
  • We have big plans for the back yard this summer:
    • new steps
    • remove paver patio and replace it with a low deck-style one, probably
    • create path from patio to back gate
    • add a small storage shed where garden 3 used to be
  • I planted daffodils along the edge of the south garden (6) in the fall, and I noticed this morning that they’ve started emerging. I hope they don’t freeze.


  • Maddie:
    • completed her basic obedience class in December.
    • She’s 14 months old now and is fully in her adolescent phase, but we’ve seen plenty of improvement from the puppy stage. Thank god.
    • She got tall.
    • She can climb over our fence, so I take her out in our fully fenced yard on a leash. Cool.
    • loves the dog park
  • Enli:
    • good meatball
    • mostly gets along with Maddie as long as they’re both in the same mood
    • She’s 8 years old and has hip issues, but gets a hemp supplement that has been helping a lot.
    • also loves the park


I randomly started digging into my genealogy, pretty much just using whatever info I can find for free. It’s fun! Here’s what I’ve found so far:

Dad’s side:
I can’t find shit on the Johnstons beyond my great-grandma’s parents. But on grandma’s side, her mom’s family (my great-great-great-great grandparents & most of their kids) came over from Germany in 1840. Grandma’s dad’s family lived mostly in New York for a very long time, but I finally traced them back to Holland and France (looks like they came to the US from France in the 1600s). The earliest record I can find is from the 1530s.

Mom’s side:
My great-great-great grandfather on grandpa’s mom’s side was born in Switzerland. Grandma’s maternal great-great grandparents came over from Ireland in 1849. I’m having trouble finding anything beyond that, but it’s a pretty good start.

Uhhhh, okay. I think that’s it? Have I been doing anything else with my life? No, because winter is terrible so I’ve been hibernating. Hopefully now that we have fun stuff planned I’ll have interesting things to write about. We’ll see!

things that made my year 2017

A bit delayed, but that’s pretty much my MO. You know how this goes by now. In no particular order, a bunch of things that made last year less of a dumpster fire.

  1. our gardens
  2. Madeline the pupper, even though she still has so much of the devil in her I considered leaving her off this list.
  3. Enli the angel dog baby
  4. Cloud Cult performing The Seeker live
  5. the Women’s March
  6. this tweet
  7. impressively accurate tarot reading at Darren’s company party (hopefully not too accurate though)
  8. Galentine’s Day
  9. this amazing picture we unearthed at work during our office move
  10. Nazis getting punched
  11. Patrick Stewart and his foster dog, Ginger
  12. basically any dog gif or video
  13. Supernatural
  14. What If All I Want is a Mediocre Life?
  15. Father Mustache
  16. house plants I can keep alive
  17. “Catch him, Derry!”
  18. Saints games
  19. jalepeno cheese curds
  20. the dog park
  21. two Fair trips
  22. eclipse hype
  23. Zip-lining in the Dells
  24. Waterpark hotel with a giant tub on same Dells vacation
  25. Home Service Plus
  26. The free gym my office building added
  27. Getting a signed shirt from Katrina of the Waves
  28. Stranger Things/MN Science Museum hoodies
  29. Hating on the upcoming Super Bowl
  30. ridiculous Christmas sweaters
  31. getting things I really wanted for Christmas
  32. Roku
  33. The coziness of our house when it’s decorated for Christmas
  34. This sign
  35. One of our theatres got nominated for a Billboard award

2017 in Review

Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I didn’t make any.

Did anyone close to you give birth?

A few friends did, indeed, have babies.

Did anyone close to you die?


What countries did you visit?

Wisconsin. Ha.

What would you like to have in 2018 that you lacked in 2017?

A democratic congress and a different president.

What was your biggest achievement of the year?

My gardens!

What was your biggest failure?

We failed to get some house projects done before winter.

What was the best thing you bought?

Maybe the hammock.

Whose behavior merited celebration?

Nazi punchers.

Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

I will give you one guess.

Where did most of your money go?

House stuff.

What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Gardens! My rose bushes in particular.

What song will always remind you of 2017?

I really don’t think there is one this year…

Compared to this time last year, are you:
Happier or Sadder?

Same, probably.

Thinner or fatter?

Probably about the same.

Richer or poorer?


What do you wish you’d done more of?

Sleeping in.

What do you wish you’d done less of?

Yelling at Madeline, but she didn’t give me much choice.

How will you be spending Christmas?

Christmas Eve with my family, Christmas Day with Darren’s. Per usual.

Did you fall in love in 2017?

With Maddie, even though she’s still an asshole sometimes.

How many one-night stands?

I should delete this question.

What was your favorite TV program?

Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?


What was the best book you read?

HRC’s What Happened.

What was your greatest musical discovery?

This year I decided I like Ed Sheeran.

What did you want and get?

A Roku? hahaha

What did you want and not get?


What were your favorite films of this year?

Hmmm, probably Lion. Thanks, Netflix. it’s been two years since I saw a movie in theatres.

What did you do on your birthday?

Took the day off and hung out with Darren.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2017?

Elastic waistbands for life!

What kept you sane?

Reading books.

Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

my dude Barack.

What political issue stirred you the most?

lol, what didn’t?

Who did you miss?

Barack Obama.

Who was the best new person you met?

I didn’t meet many new people this year and none of them stand out, so…

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2017:

2017 was a year of getting by, and trying to find peace in chaos. We did it, I think, so hey-o.

Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

“Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…”

making plans

This morning, Kelsey posted a list of goals for the upcoming season(s) and you know what, it’s a good idea. Winter for me is generally a time for hibernation/TV watching, but there are a few things I’d like to accomplish:

  • square off the kitchen ceiling hole and fit a patch for it (leak has still not been repaired, patch will be removable)
  • paint the upstairs bathroom
  • hang a plant or two in the living room
  • work on Madeline’s obedience training (puppy classes start on the 30th!)
  • finally post about the guest room, which has been painted and furnished for months

I didn’t actually expect most of these things to be house related, but of course they are. Cold weather is for indoor activities, and home stuff is what I default to if I’m not on the couch. Maybe having this list in the world will help keep me accountable.

Happy Sweater Season!