Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas everybody!!!

I’d like to start this Holiday post with the lyrics of one of my favorite holiday songs:
Have a Holly Jolly Christmas as sung by Burl Ives

Have a holly, jolly Christmas,
It's the best time of the year
I don't know if there'll be snow,
But have a cup of cheer.

Have a holly, jolly Christmas,
And when you walk down the street
Say hello to friends you know
And everyone you meet.

Oh, ho, the mistletoe
Hung where you can see,
Somebody waits for you
Kiss her once for me.

Have a holly jolly Christmas,
And in case you didn't hear,
Oh by golly, have a holly,
Jolly Christmas this year.

What a Holiday this has been indeed. Kristen and I celebrated our Christmas on the 23rd, exchanging gifts and making dinner together. We made our own pizzas with one consisting of pepperoni, green peppers, and onions while the second was a chicken, bacon, and garlic pizza in the style of our favorite gourmet Papa Murphy’s take and bake pizza. The second pizza was delicious, however, the bacon we used was maple bacon and added an interesting flavor. We grinded up most of the ingredients using Kristen’s present from me, a 2-quart food processor from Cuisinart.

During dinner we enjoyed some white whine and watched the first few episodes of Animaniacs on DVD that Kristen gave me both Volume 1 and 2 of for Christmas followed by TLOTR: The Return of the King Extended edition of which Kristen was only able to make through the first half before heading to bed. I don’t blame her, even through the second half of the film I was struggling to stay awake and jumping from scene to scene before throwing in the towel and heading to bed.

Christmas Eve I spent the morning out in Dassel with Kristen’s family visiting with her Dad, siblings, and cats Shadow and Quinton. We all enjoyed a great lunch consisting of ham and cheesy potatoes (my first serving of the dish for the holiday) and the Urban’s were introduced to the Wambach’s famous Christmas cookies of sprits, peanut butter star cookies, and chocolate covered peanut butter balls. Then we opened some presents. I wasn’t expecting anything, but came out with three gifts including all the albums of the Cranberries from Kristen’s younger brother Ryan, Harvey Birdman volume II on DVD, and lastly the Orville Redenbacher official Presto popcorn maker, a gift I have been asking for from Kristen and my folks for the past three Christmases. The Presto is a superior popcorn-popping machine because of no-unpopped kernels.

In the afternoon, I left for Brooklyn Park and dinner at my Grandma and Grandpa’s house with my family along with my aunt Andrea and her husband Andrew. We all enjoyed some delicious roast beef (our holiday traditional feast) and my second serving of cheesy potatoes, a staple of holiday feats followed by another tradition: cranberry cake and butter sauce. Afterwards we all enjoyed some coffee and visiting and then opened presents. I got some new kitchen knives from Chicago Cutlery along with a new cutting board, a pair of kitchen shears (sensing a theme here), Battlestar Galactica Season 2.0 (episodes 1-10 of season 2, why they couldn’t release the entire season 2 in one set???), and a Best Buy gift card from Grandma and Grandpa.

When we got home from the Grandparent’s house, our immediate family opened presents and it was an REI Christmas for a lot of us. My Dad has been working at the new REI in Maple Grove since late August and so the majority of gifts from him were of outdoor clothing which I am going to need for our coming trip to Glacier National Park hopefully in July.

And lastly, we spent the day down in Canon Falls with the usual suspects my Uncle Bill and his wife Karen and my aunt Cindy with her husband John who I haven’t seen since I was at least 5 or maybe younger. We had another great meal and a good visit with family; especially the conversation I had with my grandpa FB about my time in Scandinavia.

I think the best part of the Holiday was my evening with Kristen and the morning in Dassel along with the catching up I had with my brother Frank who I hadn’t much time to hang out with.

Plans are in motion for New Years Eve, should be a blast, but more on that in another post…

Once again, Merry Christmas

Thursday, December 21, 2006

A weekend of Parties: Sweater and Cookie

Last weekend, Kristen and I spent the entire weekend together. Kristen had her Last Final of Fall Semester Saturday morning and as a surprise I gave her a cake from Byerly's that we finally finished off tonight after dinner.

Kristen's Cake
Final Cake.jpg

Later on Saturday night we attended Kristen and Meghan’s friends Anna and Beth’s Ugly Sweater Party over at their place in Prospect Park. The premise of the Ugly Sweater party is to find the most god awful holiday sweater at a place such as Savers or second hand store, then drink and snack the night away with others who have horrible sweaters as well, sounds like a good time right? It indeed was a good time; Kristen and I wore our fancy new Dale of Norway Sweaters that were only cheesy because we were wearing the Male and Female versions of the same Sweater.

Kristen, Myself, and Erik and his GF Audrey at the Sweater Party

Other Sweaters included vests and my Friend Erik sported a full-fledged pair of Christmas Pajamas. The food was great with a neat chip dip and meatballs provided by Anna and Beth, while Kristen and I brought some holiday Brae cheese and crackers. The drink of choice for me for the night were Amaretto Sours that were quite tasty followed by a few Killian’s Beers that I split with the KU. The party was great in that we were able to visit with friends of ours that we hadn’t seen in a while and I got to talk a little bit more about being abroad.

Sunday, Kristen and I attended our second party of the weekend; a holiday cookie party for the Wambach’s hosted by my Aunt Andrea and her husband Andrew over at their house in South Minneapolis. It was great visiting with members of the family and enjoying all sorts of Christmas cookies including Peanut Butter Balls, Sprits, and others along with some hot coffee and of course good conversation.

Monday, the two of us ventured out to the Mall of America for some Holiday shopping and to see the world’s Largest Gingerbread House. Both of us felt like the trip was a success and were out of the mall by 3:30 PM.

Since I have been back in Minnesota, Kristen and I have been spending a lot of time together, which makes me a happy caboose. We have been catching up on movies including Superman Returns which we rented a couple of days ago from Blockbuster and we also saw the remake of Casino Royal with Daniel Craig as Ian Fleming’s James Bond 007. We also recently saw The Prestige starring Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale as competing Victorian illusionists. The film also contains a great supporting cast of Michael Cain, Scarlett Johansson, and David Bowie as the inventor Nikolas Tesla; inventor of the Tesla Coil.

Tonight we saw The Holiday at the new AMC Roseville 14 Theater that opened December 8th I believe. Quite the cinema there with very large auditoriums and huge screens that go from floor to ceiling and ticket prices of $6 dollars per person Monday-Thursday. The Holiday, while a good holiday romantic comedy, starring Kate Winslet, Jack Black, Jude Law, and Cameron Diaz was a little too focused on the character relationships of Law and Diaz when the one that Kristen and I wanted to see more of was the relationship between Jack Black and Kate Winslet. Read the NY Times Review.

5 days till Christmas, it’s practically here to quote the Grinch. I have almost all of my shopping done save for a few spare items here and there. Tomorrow or in this case today looking at the time, Kristen and I plan on attending a free screening of Night at the Museum starring Ben Stiller at the Bell Museum Auditorium of the University of Minnesota. Hopefully we will get there in enough time to get seats and I hope to persuade Kristen to stick around for the flashlight tour of the museum after the film.

Not sure when I will get another post in, still lots to do, so until next time…


Monday, December 11, 2006

Posts of Norway

All the posts from my 4 month Study Abroad in Norway: Starting from the first to the last.
20 posts dating from August 2006 to December, what a ride, most of the pictures are still up on flickr as well as Picasa...For those that missed out on previous posts...enjoy :-D

Some of my favorite photos from Scandinavia:
Stortinget: The Norwegian Parliment
SUST group at Folk Museum
SUST group at the Folk Museum
Globen Arena Stockholm
The Globen Stadion lit up at night
Pulpit Rock/Preikestolen Stavangre Norway

And lastly...
The Oslo T-Bane
Oslo T-Bane

Another great way to look at these posts is by clicking on the labels at the bottom of the post, that way you can see all the posts with similar labels.

Added: January, 27, 2007 by Author...
Misc. stuff from Facebook when I was in Norway:
Activites:NORWAY, hiking, taking the T-Bane to Blindern every Monday-Thursday, taking pictures, making movies, meeting other international students, reading...whew this list got long...Conquering Glaciers, eating Kebabs!, using all variations of the Kroner, being informally taught Norwegian by my flatmates and other SUST members, all a part of STUDY ABROAD!!!

Interests:Scandinavia, European Politics, relationships with the US and the roles the EU will play in the near future, how the US and Minnesota can better ourselves by looking to our Scandinavian and European Bretheren.

-I was cleaning house on Facebook and it was time for some things to be updated, but I didn't want to lose them solution, tack them onto an old post regarding the time I had in Norway.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Christmas List!!!

This is of course a work in progress with the help of and the wish list listings:
to see the list, click here.
After visiting the Rosedale Expansion, looking over some of the winter fashions, and picking up some t-shirts at Express, I decided that a big thing on my list this year would be Gift Cards. There are a lot of good clothes in the high-end malls of this state and I could use some nice looking stuff for interviews for internships and the coming job market. I am a little scared to buy new pants, having just returned from Scandinavia I noticed that I can fit into a lot of my older jeans and I hope to continue to be able to wear them ;-)
This next semester it is my intent to go to the rec center as much as I can, to keep this slimer me and to make myself more physically fit for this coming summer's trip to Glacier National Park with Franky J, and my Dad.
4th of December already tomorrow and the shopping season is in full swing.

Back in Minnesota

Well, I have made it back to Minnesota in one piece. On wednesday morning, my friend Tobias picked me up and took me to Ulleval Stadion to catch the Flybussen to the airport. From the airport I checked my bags, got through security, and I caught my first flight from Oslo to Amsterdam and then onwards from Amsterdam to Minneapolis directly. The flight from Minneapolis lasted about 9 and a half hours and I got into Minneapolis international at 3:20 in the afternoon where I was greeted by my Dad and Kristen.
From Blog Photos

After getting home and relaxing a bit; my Mom, Kristen and myself met up with Franky J and Megan for dinner at the Granite City Brewery in Maple Grove.
Friday night, Kristen threw a surprise party for me with some friends from the University of Minnesota and we all had a good time visiting and catching up.
From Blog Photos

The rest of the weekend I spent with Kristen relaxing, watching some movies including favorites I missed while I was in Norway: Ghostbusters and The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (The best of the three), and we checked out the new expansion at Rosedale Center and found some ideas for Christmas presents.
Now it is Sunday evening, and the folks and I are watching some television after eating a delicious meal of Ham, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, and roasted pineapples. I am also working on creating a Christmas list due to the rapidly approaching holiday. Tomorrow I am heading into campus to attend an Urban Studies professional screaning.