Non-Cooking Related

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A Summer of Not Blogging…

Published September 23, 2014 by jenmatteson

Yes, I know, I haven’t been posting nearly as much as I used to, but I must say, it touches my heart when people ask me about it and say they miss my posts.

To be truthful (not like I’m not always truthful with you), not only has our busy summer prevented me from blogging, but so has our new high tech computer. You see, our Mac was ruined at our wedding celebration last September. Someone carelessly (me) set it next to a faulty slushy machine, which exploded all over the computer. Since then, we were using my old HP, which started shorting out. Finally, we decided to get a new laptop. One with Windows 8. One with a touchscreen. One that is thin with a large screen. Neat, right? Well, sort of. It was a little too much technology for Nate and me, and its taken an extraordinary amount of time for me to learn how to use the picture software.

So, my goal is to post at least once a week. I figure I’ll never learn how to use it, and use it well, unless I’m actually trying to learn!

In the mean time, please enjoy some unedited shots of our busy spring/summer!

One of the first nice days of the summer was a Sunday our good friends were in town. We had brunch, and well, things really escalated quickly. Later that night, Kim and I disappeared for a few hours. We were supposed to go pick up pizza and return, but we stopped off at the bar for a few instead… Meanwhile, Charlotte enjoyed the sunshine.







Above: Spending the afternoon with the bestie at Stella’s. 7-14-21 happened, and Kristin always loses.

Below: My sis-in-law’s grandfather raised the flag at a Twins game. We got to hang with our niece and nephew at the game. My nephew, Carter, tried his first Target Field Dog! He got about halfway.IMG_1233 IMG_1234 IMG_1239









Below left: I threw a Dr. Seuss themed baby shower for my bestie, and got a goldfish as a centerpiece. Charlotte liked him a lot.

Below right: I tried catching a line drive at shortstop with my face in softball – didn’t work. Broken nose and concussion.

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Below: Our annual canoe trip down the Namekogen River with our closest friends.



Above: My niece very interested in my dad filleting fresh fish. She even touched them!

Below: One of my best girlfriend’s bachelorette party in Wisconsin Dells. Too much fun!!


Below left: Made it to the Great MN Get Together (MN State Fair) with Kristin and the hubs.

Below right: Huge cleaning and organizing initiative in our basement – Maverick helped by supervising from this box.

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Above: We celebrated our one year wedding anniversary with dinner at Union and a show at The Brave New Workshop.

Below: Our first annual end of the summer party – one night of debauchery on our flip cup table. Some horse racing also took place.













Below: We both finished our hunter safety training this summer. My new waders, and below that, Nate shooting clay pigeons.IMG_1350IMG_1423

Destination Wedding Recap

Published September 16, 2013 by jenmatteson

I mentioned a few days ago that Nate and I just got married in Sonoma, CA.  It was a small destination wedding for us Minnesotans.  Quite funny, when people found out we were from Minnesota, they would ask how cold it was there or if we were enjoying the warm weather.  It’s Minnesota, people, not the Arctic Circle!  And actually, while we were gone, it was miserably hot and humid in Minnesota, and gorgeous, sunny and mid-80s everyday in California.

But you’re not reading this for the weather report, right?  You wanted to read about our trip. Okay, if you’re like me, I’d prefer pictures to reading, so I’ll share a few good ones with a short caption.  It was so hard to cut it down from all the great pictures and times we had, but I tried to keep it to a minimum.  Tried. Here we go…



My Princess, Charlotte


This is my peanut, princess, snuggle buddy and all around fur bestie, Charlotte.  She was not happy the morning we left and really tried putting up a fight.

Getting Started


While this is a classic plane picture that almost everyone I know has taken, mine comes with a wonderful story.  The morning we were leaving, we weighed our one checked bag, and it was almost 70 lbs.  We have to take some stuff out and put in another carry-on, as we were trying to only check one bag.  Nate suggests just taking out a bag full of items we were putting in the welcome bags for our guests, which I agree and we’re good to go.  Fast-forward, as we’re checking in, I realize I’ve forgotten my credit card.  Now, that’s not a huge deal, but inconvenient as we put everything on that card for the points.  Fine, no biggie, Nate’s parent’s will bring it when they come on Sunday.  We get upstairs to the security line, and are just unpacking our items on the belt when I realize I’ve forgotten my water bottle at the ticketing counter.  Since we have time, Nate says to go get it, and he’ll wait for me on the other side of security.  He takes everything through with him, with the exception of one carry-on bag (the extra one with the welcome bag items in it) and my ID.  I walk back down to the ticketing counter, my water bottle is exactly where I left it.  On my way back upstairs, I realize, I can’t carry this bag on, it’s got a ton of liquids in it.  As I turn around to go back to the ticketing counter to check it, I also realize that I don’t have any way of paying for this bag as Nate is with my purse.  I then turn around again (I’m sure people thought I was insane just turning in circles as I continue to think of things), and have to see if I can get Nate’s attention through the glass, as he’s on the other side of the security line.  We have to sign (as best we can) what the heck is going on, and finally he gets a security agent to pass his wallet through to me.  I check the bag, and we’re golden.  But, being that I am an extremely organized person, I’m completely frazzled for all that had gone wrong already.  Hence, my well deserved screwdriver, which Nate had to buy me!

Crossing Golden Gate

Leaving cool, cloudy San Fransisco for sunny warm Sonoma County.


Seeing ceremony site fot first time

Seeing our ceremony site for the first time in person, less than a week before.

Stocking up

Stocking up on one of our favorite wines at Viansa for our guests.

Domaine Chandon

Domaine Chandon in Napa with Nate’s parents, having oysters and picking out sparkling wine for the wedding.

Getting the party started

First guests arrive and we get the party started with a welcome BBQ.

Ladies Spa Party

Kim relaxing at the spa

Leah relaxing at the spa

Ladies Spa Day!

Groom's Dinner

Guy time

Kim and me at Groom's Dinner

Groom’s Dinner at Hopmonk in Sebestapol.

Late night cards

End of most nights was either cards or pool after dinner.

Getting ready for big day!

Getting ready for the big day!

Saying our vows

Saying our vows at the ceremony with our “official officiant”, AKA my bestie, Leah.

The Whole Gang

The entire group.

Tasting grapes

After the ceremony at Kunde Family Estate, we had a private tour of their wine caves and got to taste all the grapes.

On the way to dinner

The group in the party bus on the way to dinner.

St. Francis

Walking into St. Francis, where we had a private food and wine pairing from the kitchen of Executive Chef Bush.  One of the best meals I’ve ever had!

Tasting room at St. Francis

Dinner at St. Francis.  SO GOOD!  I absolutely loved that round table.

My parent's at Bodega Bay

The day after the wedding, Nate and I went with my family to Bodega Bay for some great views and a little rock climbing.

My dad, my brother and me

After taking the long way (climbing up the rocks) we made it!

Guys at El Dorado Kitchen

Ladies at El Dorado Hotel entrance

On Friday night, the “friends” went out for dinner together.  We started at El Dorado Kitchen in the Sonoma Square; I had to have the peach jalapeno martini.  YUM!

Cheers at The Girl and the Fig

Friends dinner at The Girl and the Fig.  Ladies only champs cheers!  Another of the best meals I’ve ever eaten.  If you travel to Sonoma County, you HAVE to eat here.  Plus, we had fantastic service!

Cline Winery

Saturday was a day of friends wine tasting.  This is the ladies at Cline Winery.

My honey with Suzanne at Naked Wines

Nate and I had visited Naked Wines and became “Angels” (wine club members) on the first visit.  We had to bring our friends back.  We had such a fantastic time, we met the manager, who gave us two bottles for free as a wedding gift!  Not only that, but she gave us a private tour, let us taste juice that was just crushed and wine from a barrel that was ready to be bottled.  Definitely recommend a visit to this place if you ever are in town.

Nate and Kim at Viansa

We said goodbye to our friends at Viansa.  All but one went back to San Francisco that evening to catch early Sunday flights. Overall, we had such a fantastic wedding trip, everything was perfect, and we couldn’t thank our family and friends enough for sharing in this special day and trip with us.

St. Francis Tasting Room

Not gone, just married!

Published September 4, 2013 by jenmatteson

It’s been a few weeks since my last post, and I bet you’re wondering if I’ve quit blogging.  Well, I haven’t.  I was just off getting married in Sonoma, CA for the last 10 days, so I’ve been slightly preoccupied.

I’ll be sure to write a full (slightly full to protect the “innocent”) re-cap, but to tide you over, here are a few quick pics for you to enjoy!

My Groom and Me

Site of our Wedding Ceremony


More later.  Have some catching up to do at home first, and must use up all my great veggies that flourished while I was gone!  Oh, and also have the at home party to plan.  But I promise, I’ll share more!

A Wine Country Wedding: Invites and Information Packets

Published April 4, 2013 by jenmatteson

Most people who know me well, know that I love planning events, so planning my destination wedding has been a lot of fun so far!  A lot of work, but still fun.  I sure wish this was my job, but alas, I’m not so lucky 😦 I spent quite a bit of time compiling information for our guests for our wine country wedding in August.  Here is a quick peek at what our guests received.  I’ve included some PDF links to the actual (some partial for privacy of our guests) documents that I developed.

Outside of invite package

Inside of wedding invite package

Invitation: The ceremony will be held at Kunde Family Estate, and performed by my bestie!  Reception to follow immediately at St. Francis Winery, prepared by Executive Chef David Bush.  Transportation is provided for all guests by limo bus. Wedding Invitations

Wedding Week Itinerary: Itinerary of major events from Monday through Sunday (days most guests will be in town).  This was a tri-fold with a list of guests and their relationship to the bride and groom on the back (I didn’t include this part in the PDF link to protect the innocent 😉 ). Wedding Itinerary

Travel Information: Through Vacation Rental by Owner, we are renting a house in Santa Rosa where our guests will be staying.  All important travel information including flights, car rentals, shuttles, lodging address and amenities, and tips on packing for the trip. Travel Information

Driving Directions: Turn by turn directions from San Francisco International Airport and Oakland International Airport to rental house.

What To Do: A brochure I put together specifically for this group of people.  We have mostly couples coming and one family with two small children.  I compiled a list of popular activities for the adventurer, families and children and the wino (ME!).  Price ranges from free and higher, and include activities such as state parks, Train Town, Charles Shultz (Peanuts creator) Museum, shopping, gardens and day trips.  In this brochure, I’ve also included a list of wineries that we recommend.  Being that there are far too many for anyone to make it to all of them in a single trip (let alone a lifetime), I thought a list of those that we’ve been to and enjoyed with a few highlights might be helpful for the first timers. Sonoma Brochure

Restaurant Recommendations: This list includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late night options for guests, ranging in casual to fancy, inexpensive to pricey.  Most are restaurants that I’ve been to.  I used information from my very favorite travel advice site, Trip Advisor, for options close to where we are staying and highly rated by Trip Advisor users. Restaurant Recommendations

Spa Menu: We are planning a spa day while we are out there.  In order to make reservations for everyone before we arrive, I included a menu of the spa services and requested guests let me know what services they’d like, if any. Spa Menu

Guest Blog: Night Dive at Hol Chan Marine Reserve

Published March 11, 2013 by jenmatteson

Many of you many not know, but I am a certified SCUBA diver.  Recently, I had the opportunity to write a post for a dive blog that recaps the story of my dad, Nate and myself on a night dive when something goes terribly wrong.  Okay, it wasn’t “terribly” like you might be thinking, but it wasn’t good.  My original post was too long, so it was edited by an admin (although it looks poorly written with typos, I promise that wasn’t me!).   Check it out here if you’re interested!

Nate and me after a dive

AN ANNOUCEMENT! And some trip pics.

Published November 23, 2012 by jenmatteson

A few weeks ago, Nate and I took a wonderful trip to Sonoma, CA, wine country!  We met his parents and their two friends out there.  We had a lovely time visiting the wineries and, of course, drinking the wine!  But, I’ll cut to the chase.  The best part of my trip was this:

Yes, it happened after spending three and a half wonderful years with my best friend.  I definitely wasn’t expecting this on this trip, but am so not disappointed!  This actually happened in San Francisco on our last night of vacation.  Overall, we had an outstanding time.  Here are a few of my favorite pictures from our trip.

This was taken at Stryker Winery – a new one for the four of us.  Nate and I joined this wine club and already have our first shipment!

Food and wine pairing from Chef David Bush at St. Francis Winery.

Vineyard at St. Francis

Kunde Family Estate.  One of the places in the running for our wedding 🙂

You probably can’t tell, but this is a wall of sparkling wine at Domaine Chandon.  Pretty neat to see in person!

He popped the question at Top of the Mark while we were having after dinner drinks.  The photo doesn’t do the view justice, but it was a breathtaking view of San Francisco.  Funny enough, not one person in the place noticed that we got engaged.  He got down on one knee and I cry-laughed my face off and everything.  No biggie, it was more romantic this way 🙂

The Versatile Blogger Award

Published April 13, 2012 by jenmatteson

Being a new blogger can be quite intimidating, especially looking at all the great dishes and treats that others in the community are whipping up.  I’m still working on my photography – I never thought it would be so hard.  I have a new-found respect for food photographers, especially those that photograph their own food!

Many of us food bloggers find recipes to try from other blogs that we follow.  I was so happy to have received The Versatile Blogger Award from Just Baked (and I have to admit, I thought it was spam when I first saw it)!  If you haven’t already visited her site, you must!  There are so many yummy treats there, mostly sweet, but some savory too.  Her blog is where I found the Chocolate Brownies with Peanut Butter Frosting – AMAZING!  This will more than likely be a first stop for any desserts I try to bake in the future.

Anyway, back to the award…“It is a great way to introduce different bloggers to each other and to promote quality blogs that awardees and their readers may not have discovered otherwise.”

And here are the rules of this awesome award :)

  1. Thank the person who gave you this award.
  2.  Include a link to their blog.
  3.  Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly.
  4.  Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award.
  5.  Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.
  6. In the same post, include this set of rules.
  7. Inform each nominated blogger of their nomination by posting a comment on each of their blogs.

And in no particular order…

The Versatile Blogger Award goes to:

Alida @ Alida’s Kitchen

The Cooking Nurse

Jessy @ Gourmet: Day to Day

Nicole @ Prevention RD

Beth @ Look at me, I’m another blogger

Bridget @ The Way the Cookie Crumbles

Jessica @ How Sweet It Is

Michelle @ Brown Eyed Baker

Ammie @ Adventures in My Kitchen

Laura @ Tide and Thyme

Aryn @ A Student’s Challenge

I only have 11 so far…I can’t follow everyone 😉  As I continue to find great recipes (or blogs in general, though most of these are food blogs), I’ll definitely be adding more!

Now, for the 7 things about myself…

1. I love cooking – duh!  I dream of starting my own catering and/or party planning business someday, but I am inherently not a risk taker, so doing something like that would require a lot of planning and calculating for me to take the plunge.  I’m crazy organized and love lists, planning, and budgets.

2. I’m a certified scuba diver and love vacationing somewhere warm and exploring under the sea.  Recently I was in Belize and encountered nurse sharks – probably close to 20 of them at one time.  My boyfriend, Nate (who had a video camera), and dad were with me, and saw one almost take a bite of my fin!  I still need to see the video on this one (or maybe I shouldn’t!).

3. I have a special place in my heart for wine, mostly for drinking, but sometimes cooking with it too.  Last April, I planned a bachelorette party for my best girlfriend and took my first trip to Sonoma, CA.  It was gorgeous and I hope to return this year with Nate in October.

4. I used to be a flight attendant and got to travel internationally to Japan, Hong Kong, Frankfurt, and Sao Paulo.  All places I never thought I’d get too!  I’d love to go Rome in the next 10 years.

5. Nate and I have four cats.  We aren’t weird cat people, at least, we didn’t set out to be that way.  When we met, we each had two cats, and we all moved in together last summer.  While Nate and I seem to be doing alright, the cats still don’t get along all that well 😉  Maybe someday?

6. My girlfriend and I met Steven Spielberg at a dueling piano bar in Las Vegas.  He even played a song!

 7. I’ve run 6 marathons;  five of them were in Minnesota, and 1 in D.C.  The Twin Cities Marathon is by far the best, the course and the fans!  I’ll be running my 7th marathon in October, again Twin Cities Marathon (followed by a rewarding trip to wine country!).

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