Tuesday, December 30, 2008

N.O. Pics - Thurs

New Orleans - Thurs

Woot! I am still having wonderfully warm (literally) memories of our trip to New Orleans the weekend before Christmas.

Ok, so here's what happened on day 1:

~ Thursday ~
8:00 am - Dropped Mom, Dad, and Amy off at the airport, enroute to Las Vegas.
8:15 am - Found out about the snowstorm and that no seats were available (and that it was suckily cold and snowy).
9:00 am - Found out we could cancel our rooms and Cirque de Soleil tickets (boo). But with no penalty (yea!).
9:30 am - Consensus to cancel Las Vegas and go somewhere else.
9:40 am - Options for Orlando, South Carolina, or New Orleans. Mom picks New Orleans.
9:45 am - New seats booked to New Orleans. Look up hotels and delegate to Amy to reserve.
10:00 am - Visitor from Delta (oh yeah, I am working this day, did I mention????)
10:30 am - Vendor sales pitch
11:15 am - frantically check my watch because I need to leave work
11:30 am - Leave to pick up Jeff
11:50 am - Pick up Jeff and head to the airport
12:00 pm - Remember that I need to ride the shuttle and that will take at least 15 minutes.
12:02 pm - Decide that the shuttle is not an option and now have to pay for parking.
12:06 pm - Drop Jeff off at the airport front door.
12:10 pm - Park and check in. Run to concourse C.
12:30 pm - Made it! Flight leaves in 35 minutes...
1:15 pm - We all got seated in First Class. With meal service. And "beverages" (thus it begins). AWE-SOME.
4:30 pm - Arrive in New Orleans. With our heavy coats (it was -12 when we left). It is now 75 and humid. My hair immediately curls.
5:00 pm - Take a cab to the Marriott on Canal Street (great hotel, thanks Amy) and check in. Did I mention Troy University is playing a bowl game and staying at our hotel?
5:50 pm - Emerge to speak with the concierge about what to do, and where to eat.
6:20 pm - Dinner at the Acme Oyster House down the street. WOW. Both grilled and on the half shell oysters (all, and Dad/Jess/Amy), fried shrimp (Jeff and Jess), crawfish etouffe (Amy), and a shrimp Po Boy (Mom).
7:30 pm - Bourbon Street. Totally quiet compared to the other nights, but we jammed at Fat Catz to an awesome cover band, and then sat down for smooth jazz at an outdoor pub (complete with an old black lab hanging out with the band - I think he belonged to the singer).
10:oo pm - Regroup at the hotel to decide what to do the rest of the time!!!

Long-neglected Blog

I am not kidding you, last night I couldn't fall asleep because I was thinking about all the wonderful blogging that I have NOT done over Christmas.

Well, I'm baa-aack! And ready to go. I am posting our New Orleans synopsis later today. Maybe even with photos if I can figure it out.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Dr. Horrible

I know, I promised an update to our trip this past weekend. But honestly, it's been so cold, and we've been so BUSY getting ready for the past 2 nights to leave today for Christmas, that we haven't had a chance to organize or touch up ANY photos yet. I promise I will send the raw photobucket link when we have it (ahem, when Jeff gets done with it today).

ANYWAY, in lieu of the trip update, I would like to present to you all...............

Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Here's the synopsis: "The story of a low-rent super-villain, the hero who keeps beating him up, and the cute girl from the laundromat he’s too shy to talk to. Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog is a 43-minute musical film, initially produced exclusively for Internet distribution. It tells the story of Dr. Horrible, the aspiring supervillain alter ego of Billy; Captain Hammer, his nemesis; and Penny, their mutual love interest.

Seriously. This thing rocks. YOU MUST SEE IT (do you hear that Oprah? Put it on your favorite things this year - it's cheap, and awesome). It's available for download on iTunes and hulu.com, as well as DVD purchase from Amazon.com.

Do it, or death will come to you from the Evil League of Evil.

Monday, December 22, 2008

New Orleans - en route (Thurs)

I thought I would post our day-by-day accounts so y'all can see what the big fuss was this past weekend...

All I know is that it is -12 here right now, and on Saturday in New Orleans it was 80. My body rejects the frigidness. Here is day one - Jeff's emails to his family before our departure....

From: Jeffrey Hartman
Sent: Thursday, December 18, 2008 8:59 AM
To: Al, Lois, Jennifer, Jason
Subject: Hell has frozen over

Well it appears Hell has frozen over...or at least Las Vegas....

We were headed there for a weekend vacation with Jess's parents....but apparently the MN luck has worked against us. Yesterday, Las Vegas received the most snowfall since 1974. 4 inches has shut down the city including ALL flights into and out of the airport. This is worst case scenario for us as we are all flying standby and there is an entire extra day of people trying to get onto today's airplanes......Things aren't looking good for Friday either.....

If it weren't for bad luck.......

Still stuck in cold MN,
From: Jeffrey Hartman
Sent: Thursday, December 18, 2008 9:43 AM
To: Al, Lois, Jennifer, Jason
Subject: Re: Hell has frozen over


The Kienow Family and I are now headed to New Orleans....talk about shooting from the hip. Karen, Randy and Amy are all currently at the airport already trying to get onto a plane to Vegas, but now we'll head South instead. WILD.

Now we just have to find a place to stay and something to do.....

The MGM Grand was nice enough to provide full refunds for our rooms, Cirque De Soleil and Stomp. Since no planes are landing, it sounded like not many people are making it to Vegas this weekend.

Till the next update,
So, in the course of about an hour and a half, we totally changed where we were going, cancelled our hotels and show tickets, found and reserved a new hotel, booked a new flight, and were stressed to the max (at least I was).

This was all going on while I was 'working' on Thursday morning. To be fair, I had 2 meetings I attended, and was engaged in!!! Needless to say, it was crazy. I managed to rush home, pick up Jeff, drop him off at the airport, but I did NOT have time to go to the free employee parking and ride the shuttle over. I ended up paying to park (it was $64 for the 3.5 days). Worth it - I made it on the plane!!

Actually, we all made it - first class with meal service even!!! 'Twas wonderful.

85 degree change

We're back! As you know, we were scheduled to go to Las Vegas this past weekend...well, long story short, we didn't. We went to New Orleans instead!!!!!

It was an absolute BLAST! More to come tomorrow (we've been trying to fly home for a good 8 hours and I am going to bed, it's well after midnight)...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Moving day

Yesterday was one of my coworker's last day. A moment of sad silence for his departure (although it really was a fantastic choice for him and his family).

And now, I am in his old cube!!! Woohoo, I am living in the middle of the rest of my team now, instead of sequestered behind the conference room.

I anticipate good things in my future...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Last night we made 180 peanut blossoms. My hands are permanently cupped in a balled position. Then again, it might be the freaking cold weather. -7. Who invented this?

Grrrr. The weather in Las Vegas had better be warm and sunny this weekend.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Fa la la la la, la la, la, la!

Well, mom and dad did not make it on Saturday. Needless to say, I was surpremely disappointed. Their flights were too heavy and they had to get off, then the Blizzard of '08 hit. It was reported that the Morton building could not be seen from the house (maybe 60 yards). But, the show must go on!

So. My WONDERFUL, GLORIOUS, MAGNIFICENT husband came to BOTH concerts, on both Saturday and Sunday to try to help make up for it. I know, he is pretty special, right? And, he brought me a dozen roses on Saturday night (picture women at his table swooning). And, he also took photos of my diva-ness, which I am hoping to post shortly.

All in all, it was a great weekend of music. The audience seemed to really like the program, wine flowed on Saturday night, ice storms flowed on Sunday afternoon, and there were some truly great moments during each concert - a double choir singing Biebl's Ave Maria on Sunday was a highlight (one choir in front, one in back of the church), as well as Poulenc's bad-boy Hodie, Christus Natus Es (it's super cool, Youtube it).

Can't wait for next year!

Photos from Saturday's Cabaret Performance:

Photos from Sunday's Performance:

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Holiday Preparations

We are anxiously waiting to see if Mom and Dad can make it for tonight's concert. They could not get on the first flight today (it was full) but hopefully will arrive around 4:30. As long as the blizzard holds off a bit longer, they will be here! Jeff will be picking them up since I have to leave at 5 for call time!!

In the meantime, Jeff and I have been furiously addressing envelopes, writing in cards, and scripting our annual Christmas letter. We are ALMOST done - we have maybe another 30 to go. During breaks, I have been wrapping presents. Jeff is downstairs right now, so I finally had a chance to open the Cabela's box and got his presents wrapped without him knowing...so sneaky...

Not sure when we are going to fit in cookies - since next weekend is VEGAS - but rest assured you will all be the first to know!

PS - yesterday I booked our hotels - at the MGM Grand, and our must-see show -KA by Cirque de Soleil. I am seriously excited.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas Concert!

Tonight we have dress rehearsal for this weekend's concerts from 6-10pm. So yeah, it's going to be good.

If you are in town, please come!

Location: St. Patrick's Catholic Church 6820 St. Patrick's Lane in Edina, MN

Saturday night at 7:30 pm - $20, let me know, I need to get you reservations
BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND! Enjoy the beauty, joy and peace of Christmas carols in the comfortable informality of a cabaret setting. The chorale sings the music of Grieg, Biebl, Parry, Poulenc, and favorite carols to fine wine, delicious chocolate, and rich coffee.

Sunday afternoon at 3:30 pm - $14
Enjoy our popular, traditional Christmas concert in the more formal setting of St. Patrick’s sanctuary. The chorale sings music of Grieg, Biebl, Parry, Poulenc, and favorite carols.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


I love it. The Internet, of course. Do you know how many wonderful gifts out there exist? And puh-leaze, do not cry to me that going to Macy's megastore is better than Macy's online. It's not. Because I would never go to Macy's in my jammies.

I will tell you what IS better than Macy's online. Retailers that give back to charity. My goal this year was to use my dollars to support the kind of businesses I want to see - those who give a portion back to charity or support some other kind of altruistic activity. I can't of course indicate (yet) which ones I used, since my family reads this blog. But, get started on your own shopping with these links I have found:

http://www.escrip.com/ Gives a percentage back to a PTSA or school of your choice
http://www.ebaygivingworks.com/ Buy on ebay, support a charity
http://www.igive.com/welcome/ Order items from big box stores and contribute a portion to charity
http://www.oxfamamericaunwrapped.com/product.php?productid=2 Buy irrigation for a farmer, a goat, yarn for blankets, and much more
http://buildanest.com/ Handmade items that provide income and loans to the third-world women who make them
http://globalgoodspartners.org/template/index.cfm As good as World Market, but for a cause
http://www.charitynavigator.org/ Gift certificates to a charity of your choice (even though gift certificates and gift cards are usually LAME-O, this is ok)
http://www.heifer.org/ Buy a cow. Or a sheep. Or chickens. Or a whole ark. Seriously cool.
http://www.tomsshoes.com/ For every pair of shoes purchased, a pair of shoes is donated to a child in need.
http://www.charitywater.org/donate/ Purchase a water-related product to support sustainable water projects in developing nations
http://www.thehungersite.com/clickToGive/home.faces?siteId=1 For the foodie - and help fight hunger

Try it - just one gift for one person this year. Tell me what you are planning on doing in comments (because you know your sister/mother/brother doesn't read my blog)!! You will be surprised at their reaction (even if they are not a bleeding heart hippie)...because who doesn't want to feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves?

As for me, Maddie and I are still waiting for our items to arrive next week...

Monday, December 8, 2008

Let it Snow

I do not like snow that much. Today it took me an hour to get home. And I left work early.

This is forcing me to miss tonight's ADPi Christmas Party, which on a normal night would be a 45 minute drive but tonight - I'm not even going to try.


Sunday, December 7, 2008

House is decorated!

We finally finished up decorating the house last night AND got all of our stuff put away.

Here is the in-process photo. This tub is one of three, although the others are normal sized, compared to this two person beast.

Here is the tree, lit at night ~

Mantel decorations, my nativity, and the Snowbabies collection ~

Jeff likes the 'cute' Christmas things, so here are the main decorations in the basement (notice the Guitars from Guitar Hero behind the moose...)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Sinterklaas Celebration

Today at work we celebrated Christmas with our friends from KLM. They sponsored our Sinterklaas Celebration in the atrium of our building. They flew over a bunch of kids from Holland (and some mothers), who dressed up in traditional Dutch clothing and sang cute holiday songs from the motherland.

The funniest was a little guy named Sven, who was maybe 3 years old and had big eyeglasses. He danced and fidgeted and talked, but never quite got around to singing. It was pretty funny.

Then the buffet was opened with zillions of traditional Dutch Christmas treats. Right now, I have some kind of ginger-y cookie, half moon waffle thingy with some kind off goo (carmel?) holding it together, fudge square one, fudge square 2, a chocolate leaf, and a mini-cake of some kind. All to wash down with some apple cider.

Good thing it's about time to go home - I will need to rest in my new bed to handle the sugar crash!

UPDATE: The leaf has orange jell type stuff in it! YUM, orange and chocolate.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Kitty Christmas

The kitties got a window perch for Christmas. Jeff installed it today and placed Bella ever so gingerly on top. Three hours later she is still there:

Maddie l-o-v-e-s Christmas. And by that, I mean she loves when we get out the boxes. We put up the tree, and Fat Kitty immediately jumped in the box. She then found every rubber band, and ate it, then tried to climb the Christmas tree. Finally she calmed down. We'll see how many balls stay on the tree once it's decorated.

After all the excitement, the girls do what they usually do, sniff at each other and try to rile the other one up so they can pop each other on the nose and chase. Maddie is going in for the lick-sniff.

And finally, they calmed down about midnight. With my help of course.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Sleep, finally

Today, I woke up refreshed and happy (albeit stuffed up and sore throat thanks to Jeff's perpetual cold).

And it was all because of this beautiful Stearns and Foster model:

What a glorious and magnificent anniversary present. After 4 years of wedded bliss, we decided our bed should be inspected as it seemed to really sag in certain areas...

We got a full credit on our old bed that was still under a 10-year warranty, and decided to replace it with the Mercedes at Schneiderman's. We had to pay in a little more, but let me tell you - TOTALLY WORTH IT.

When's the last time you got a new bed? Did you know they last only 7 years on average? Look into it.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Today's tickle-my-fancies

1) Dr. Condoleeza Rice played a Brahms recital for the Queen of England today, along with members of the London Symphony Orchestra and violinist Louise Miliband, wife of British Foreign Secretary. In order to be a classically trained pianist in your spare time, and Secretary of State as your full-time job, what do you have to sacrifice? No matter, it's still cool.

2) The Oceania cruise ship M/S Nautica outran pirates. Those cruise liners are seriously badass. So are the people that are in charge of them. In order for the customers to be pampered, the staff will have NO ONE f* with them, not even pirates (let alone my former company/job).

3) Britney Spears' movie on MTV was killer! I hafta say, I like the girl and hope things work out. But when you still insist your life is normal, and then cut to footage of 30 people chasing your car on foot and bicycle, I am sorry but you are NOT normal. The most interesting parts were not the interviews, but to actually see how she works and lives, trying to appeal to the public but hide from them all at the same time. I can't imagine.

4) The Dudders. They intrigue and fascinate and scare me all at the same time. I am addicted to their TLC show (yes I stayed up till 1am watching last night. Even though I have a Tivo.). What would possess a woman to birth 18 children? And my evil little questions - can you love them all enough, and equally? How do get to know your kids on a really personal level when you have so many?

5) Free hazardous materials and electronics recycling. Where we live, they have a year-round recycling center that takes all sorts of dangerous things like old paint, varnish, computer monitors, lawn mowers, just about anything. It makes me want to clean out the house just to do something good for the environment!

Monday, December 1, 2008


FINALLY made it home today. Last night's flight got cancelled (after waiting for almost 3 hours) because of a flat tire and hydraulic system problem. It was a full flight, so of course everyone got moved to today...I couldn't get on the 6:45am flight, and barely made it on the 11:00am. They said if one more bag had been checked, I wouldn't have gotten on.

Anyway, my Aunt Sharon of all people was on this flight! So we sat in the back of the plane and chatted all the way to MSP, then she took me out for lunch at TGI Friday's while waiting for her connecting flight. It was a wonderful surprise!

My NOT wonderful surprise occurred after I took the crew bus back to the parking lot. After locating my car (which I had parked a looong way away), I turned the ignition and cleaned off the snow and ice. I hopped in to put the car in reverse. Couldn't. I tried a couple more times, turned the car on and off, rocked it back and forth, let the parking brake go....UGH, still nothing. I called Jeff for backup but he didn't have any other ideas (he's still harvesting). I was ready to call a taxi to go home and figure it out later and thought, I will just slam the hell out of the center shifter and see what happens. Sure enough, a big *pop* and we are in reverse! I quick back up and put in drive and head straight home (just in case). Also, I had to check on the kitties and fish.

I pull into the garage, put the car in park...and the damn thing won't turn off. The key won't turn the ignition off. It was stuck too. For the love of pete!

So I go in and out of the garage a couple times (reverse and drive), do the same rocking thing, and fuss about another 15 minutes (by now this whole thing has taken well over an hour). I finally say, screw it, and give it a good wrench (as before). The car turned off, but not all the way. It was between off and battery power, so I couldn't pull they keys out. Whatever, I'll just go inside, do my business, and take the Jeep.

Jeff had locked the garage door. So I futz with the keys some more, trying to get the house key off the stuck keyring, and it jiggled it enough that it came OUT!!!!! SUCCESS!!!! But I am not driving it tomorrow.

Needless to say, by this time it is about 3:30pm and I haven't done any of my checking. That took till about 4pm, at which point it was too freaking late to go to work. PISS. What a crappy waste of Paid Time Off. Plus I actually had stuff to do today. Whatevs.