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Who would pick San Diego over Minnesota? PFFT.

Kelsey and I walked past rows and rows of jelly belly beans, saltwater taffy, and freshly made fudge in every chocolate imaginable. After picking out our treats the cashier said, "You two look like you're going to a party!" We laughed, more about the fact that we had once again {accidentally} worn matching outfits than about being overdressed for a candy shop.

Sitting outside on a bench as we shared a homemade mint chocolate truffle, two old ladies came through the shop door. With their arms linked they giggled and dug into a giant bag of chocolates. They were wearing white and black from head to toe, just like us.

It was like seeing a self portrait of our friendship 30 years in the future. We'll still be out shopping and eating and talking; all dressed up to share some chocolates.

Friends since we were eight, Kelsey and I have seen each other through 3rd grade recesses, the first middle school boy/girl partyl, high school proms, getting grown-up jobs, giddy date preparations, break-ups, break downs, horrible haircuts, countless sleepovers, and more honesty, truth and support than I thought was possible in a friendship. 

{Kels + Cal, 1998}

We've spent most of our lives living less than a mile away from each other and the fact that in two weeks she is leaving me to get her master's degree in California breaks my heart. Not the master's degree part...just the California part. Even just thinking about her moving across the country is making me cry! I'm so excited for her grand adventure to begin and I can't wait to start planning my first trip to visit her. Soon.

 {Kels + Cal, 2010}

The west coast doesn't know how lucky it is to be getting my bestie.

P.S. Dear Kelsey Rose, Please don't shoot me for posting that picture from 8th grade. Our awkwardness was TOO cute to pass up. Love, Caley Jennifer



When I tell people Ebbie is a real life cat burglar they don't believe me.

Now? I have proof. FINALLY. It may be a little blurry but I definitely caught her picking my ring up off the floor. Look closely. You'll see her little teeth clamping down on the solid gold irreplaceable ring I got in Thailand.
Phase 1 was taking it from my bedside table, running around with it and dropping it on the hardwood floor to get my attention. This happens all the time. Even in the middle of the night. Only at night she doesn't drop jewelery, tweezers, or bobby pins on a blanket. She drops them on my face.

Look at her! No remorse for her thieving ways. Anyone have ideas on how to get her to tell me where she put my diamond earrings?

I may have to change her name to Templeton.


Roommate Wanted

Roommate Wanted Found!

That's right, kids. Ebbie and I are adding a third to our lovely estate. Little brother is moving in!

This weekend he'll start his semi-permanent stay and here's the conversation we had about the first project I have in mind for roommate quality time:

me:  a chalkboard fridgewe're doing this.
Paul:  ya, it'll make it easier for you to get the appropriate food for my meals
me:  child please. it'll make it easier for me to remind you to mow the lawn.
Paul:  I suppose old age will do that to your memory.
me:  pfft. just remember...the door to your upstairs room still locks from the outside.
Paul:  har har har

Also, I got an email from him in Spain with the subject: Entourage Returns Sunday.
The body read: PLEASE ORDER HBO in time for this!!!

It's going to be interesting living with a boy.


James Taylor is old but cool.

A few weeks ago at 4:00pm a friend sent me a text. "Want to go to the James Taylor concert? Tonight? In a suite? For free?" Um, YESPLEASE!

His mom got the tickets from work and didn't want to go. Plus, his roommates are more into Metallica and Brad Paisley than classic 'ole James so, I got the invite.

My favorite part of the concert was when JT played "Sweet Baby James," which he wrote for his first nephew. If I could sing or write or play music, Dean, I'd write a song for you. But, since I can't I'll just play this one for you from 1,937 miles away. Miss you so big, nugget. Happy 6 month birthday!


Fathers of a different sort

With my dad off jetsetting this year I ended up having lunch with a few fathers of a different sort, two priests and my godfather, at the Little Sister's of the Poor nursing home. My godfather/uncle volunteers there and brought me with him to mass and lunch. One of the priests at our table in the cafeteria, Monsignor Lavin, is 92 years old and kept making me laugh so hard milk almost came out of my nose.

When an old woman walked by in a leopard print dress Monsignor said, "Maybe I should ask her if I could borrow that thing and count the spots on it when I can't sleep. Doubt I'd be able to count much past my age, though." 

He told me about my alma mater, University of St. Thomas, where he studied, taught, and served for more than 70 years. Famous for his love of peanut butter sandwiches, they still serve PB&J sammies to us St. Thomas students and call them "Lavin Burgers." It felt a little strange to be sitting at a table with Lavin himself, his personal jar of peanut butter sitting in the center of our table.

I've got my fingers crossed that if make it past 90 years old I'm still eating my favorite foods and charming the socks off of my visitors, too.

I hope all of the all fathers out there, from dads to priests to godfathers to single moms pulling double duty, had a wonderful Father's Day.


If they insist.

Wait a minute...

Does that means alcoholic beverages ARE allowed INSIDE of the building? Because guess what is inside the building. That's right: my office! Therefore...

Wonder how that argument would go over.

I'm not willing to find out. Happy Friday!


Fargo: Ain't just a movie

This weekend I took a kickass trip to Fargo to visit the lovely Laura, her charming  husband, and their sweet puppies Stella & Sharon. {Yes, they have a bulldog named Sharon. She hasn't learned how to sit like a lady yet. See?}

By the way, Fargo is not in Minnesota. It's in North Dakota.

I showed up at Laura's house for the first time ever smelling like a barn {a story for another time} and felt like I was at Club Med. My room was airy and white with piles of pillows and pretty towels folded at the end of the bed. {Sigh.} After I washed the Eau de Bovine off of me we hit downtown Fargo for a little shopping for gems like these headbands.

Then we saw a sign. Literally. Who were we to ignore what it was telling us to do?

Plus, look what we found on the menu.

A drink named after me! WITH MY NAME SPELLED RIGHT! 

It was a good night.
I heart Fargo. And Laura {et al.}


Wordless Wednesday: First pic on my new big girl camera

P.S. Streaks are from my dirty mirror...NOT the new fancy pants camera.


I wasn't bad at t-ball, I just didn't care.

When I was growing up my parents tried to give me a well-rounded childhood. Since I started ballet at 2.5 years old, they decided when I was about 4 that it was time to try sports.

Well, one sport anyway.

And that sport was tee ball.

I got my uniform and a stand to practice with in the front yard. I learned the bases and was ready to play. Things were looking good for my athletic career until I started making sand castles instead of fielding balls. Not sure why I even bothered trying volleyball or basketball after that epic beginning.

The other day I noticed my 4 year old neighbor running around the yard with her sisters and mom. I went out to see if I could join in the fun and her mom told me, "We're teaching 'S' how to catch a ball. She's starting tee ball this week!"

As soon as I saw her outfit I pulled out my cell phone to get her picture. Here she is, all ready for her rookie season:

It's like I live next door to my 4 year old self. Apparently when she found out her team is called the Pirates she asked, "When do I get my cape?"

Girl after my own heart.



When Ms. Allie Larkin asked if I would read an advance her debut novel, Stay, and host a Blog Book Tour here on Sidenote I said "YES YES YES" and checked the mail every day until my copy arrived. Then I read it in less than 36 hours. (It would have been more like 12 but I had to sleep, work, and eat. Lame.)

It was funny and sweet and since I "accidentally adopted" a furry, black pet once upon a time (Haaaaiiii, Ebbie), I could completely relate when the main character went impulse shopping. For a German Shepherd. Here's a little video trailer of the book and my interview with the lovely author herself. I'd highly recommending going out and buying yourself a copy. It is available starting this week!

How did you decide you wanted to write a book in addition to blogging? Was it a difficult transition or did it feel like the natural next step?
I actually started writing fiction before I started blogging.  I started blogging as Allie’s Answers for another website in 2007.  When that site ended, I started my own green blog (which evolved into TheGreenists), and eventually realized that I wanted to have a personal blog too.  I loved reading other people’s personal blogs, and wanted to be able to share myself a little more with all the personal bloggers I’d been following since I started blogging.  I do think being responsible for writing something on a regular basis, and getting more comfortable with your voice through blogging is a wonderful way to develop your writing skills.  And being a part of a community of bloggers is such a gift. It’s amazing to have outside support and a connection to other bloggers when you spend so much time working alone.

What came first, the characters or the story? (AKA...Did you have the characters all formed in your head and then make a plot to fit them or start out with the plot and then craft characters to fit into it?)
Van, the main character in STAY, appeared in a writing exercise I did in a class in college.  The result of the exercise was a story told from someone else’s perspective and doesn’t at all relate to STAY as it stands now.  Something about Van interested me enough to want to keep writing about her.  The idea for Janie showed up soon after, and I started writing a story about the two of them discussing Van’s messy love life over caramel macchiatos at Starbucks.  In writing that scene, it occurred to me that maybe Van’s messy love life was the result of her affections for Janie’s husband.  And then Peter evolved.  The story spent some time in a drawer after I graduated.  I hadn’t seen it as a novel.  But when I pulled it out to work on in a writing group a few years later, I realized there was a lot more to the story.  The other characters grew out of the plot.  If Van was at Janie’s wedding, what were Janie’s parents like?  Where was Van’s mom?  In answering those questions, I created new characters.  And once we got Argo, I knew Van needed a big, lovable German Shepherd, too.

Is there anything that got cut from the book during editing that you miss/wish had been left in it (an alternate ending, a steamy make-out, a quiet moment)?
A lot of things changed in the editing process.  In the final rounds of revisions I really got to take my story and the characters to a new level and that was thrilling.  Of course I had my moments where one little sentence seemed like the most important thing in the world, and hitting delete felt awful. I think that’s pretty normal.  I go through the same process when I’m revising on my own.  It’s hard not to get tied to lines or scenes I love, but ultimately it’s about what makes for the best story overall.  In reading and in writing, I really care about flow.  I want to be pulled through the story when I read.  As a writer, I’d rather let a beautiful line go and preserve the overall movement of the story. It’s all a part of the process, and making those choices is vital.

If you could have any one person (dead or alive, famous or not) read your book who would it be and why?
I have a huge fascination and admiration for Willa Cather.  I would love any excuse to talk with her (as long as she wasn’t in zombie form).

How much of yourself do you see in the main character, Van?
Van isn’t a version of myself going through the paces of STAY’s storyline.  But we are similar.  And if Van were real, I think she would be one of my very best friends. Some friends who have read the book have said that they see a lot of me in her.  My friend, Lady, who knows me very well, thought it was interesting that I’d written a character so different from me.  I am not a big drinker.  I live for the occasional junk food binge, but I am usually fairly disciplined about how I eat.  I think Van’s a little more outspoken than I am, and we look different. But I know I wear my heart on my sleeve the way she does, and I spill coffee on myself a lot, and my dogs changed my life too.  

Disclaimer: My copy of Stay was given to me at no cost. But I totally would have paid for it. It's that good. 


11.5 months till the next MN Craft Beer Week

Not too long ago Elissa and I participated in the very first MN Craft Beer Week. It was like being part of history in the making. We purchased our "passports," plotted out a schedule of events to hit during week, and got Kristin & Rory to sign off on the plan.

First stop? Stub and Herbs to meet the "ordinary guys brewing extraordinary beer" of Fulton Beer. The guys who founded and run the brewery are just two years older than us and made us feel like we might actually have a shot at starting our our own brewery some day (our not so secret dream). While we sat there enjoying our flight of local beers (and enjoy them we did) a slightly awkward guy (I seem to to be a magnet for these people) came and stood at our table.

And stood there. And stood there. And stood there. Didn't say hi. Didn't say anything, actually. Just stood there listening to our conversation until he finally piped up after about 5 minutes of awkwardly standing there. "Those are very little glasses. Are they for smurfs?"

We paused and looked at each other, assessing who could keep their laughter under control enough to answer. "Well, they sure could be."

He stared at them appraisingly. "What's in them? Wine?"

We gasped. Oh dear. Wine? At Craft Beer Week? Even just the thought of it is close to sacrilege. Poor guy had no idea.

Other highlights of the week included a mini pub-crawl, Heggies pizza, tasting yummy, special Surly brews exclusive to passport holders, and learning the difference between a regular and dry hopped cask of IPA (in case you were wondering, the dry hopped one has much more deliciousness involved.)

It was like Christmas in springtime and I can't wait 'till next year.



A a coworker said it would have been even sweeter if a wine-mobile had stopped by our building with free samples but a trip from the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile was still the highlight of my afternoon. And no, before you ask...we didn't get free hotdogs. We DID get Oscar Meyer Wiener whistles though!

They're awesome.

I didn't get a photo though so you'll just have to trust me. Here's the real deal!

How cool is this chair?
It's so cool I had to get a picture sitting in it.
Even the license plate is wiener-ific.
Love it. All of it.


Flying, childbirth, Cheerios and Ouija Boards

I have a friend named Kristin. She's pretty and says funny things. This conversation is proof of that (well, it at least proves she's funny) and since I just flew back from California yesterday it seems like a fitting time to post it.

Kristin: flying hung over is the worst feeling in the world. i would guess that it rivals giving birth 
 me: after you pop out your first child i'll ask if that analogy is accurate 
 Kristin: ugh i dunno. we were uber hung over one time on the way back from dc, and i seriously thought i was about to see Jesus. 
 me: if you die while hungover there might be a detour on the way to see Jesus. maybe? i don't know how these things work. 
 Kristin: depends on your theology. i would guess that i'm probably going to die that way so i'll let you know how it goes 
 me: i'd appreciate that. if you die first i'll dig out a ouija board so you can fill me in. 
 Kristin: i'll re-arrange the leaves in your yard with a message
 or spell it out in your spaghetti-o's 
 me: i hate spaghetti-o's. not sure i'd eat them even to get a message from you post-mortem. can we use cheerios instead?
  Kristin: yes.
  cheerios might take longer, but we'll make it work 
 me: all in the name of theological research. 
 Kristin: i'm all for theological research.i'll contribute anyway my poor dead self can 
 me: for the record, i hope i don't find out the answer to the whole "what happens when you die hungover" question for a very long time. don't die soon. 
 Kristin: hahaha i'll do my best 
 me: deal. 
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