101 in 1001 #57: Grow some succulents/flowers.

I've written extensively about how incredibly grump-faced I get every January, pretty much since I started this blog. It's an established fact: short days, lack of holidays/birthday fun, and disgusting weather combine to make me a highly unpleasant person to deal with from time to time. One of the best ways I've found to counteract that is having plants or flowers around. Problem? I have, if not a black thumb, definitely not a green one. 

I'm that spaz who will buy myself a plant or something and then forget to water it until it's drooped down to the tabletop, or who won't change the water in flowers like...at all. And it's so terrible, because I absolutely adore flowers! I buy them for myself all the time. It's just the care part that I tend to forget about. Given that, to me, growing something "from scratch" seemed Herculean in difficulty. I feel like I kind of cheated on this one, because I let Bachman's do all the work for me and got a pre-potted spring bulb garden. Isn't it cute? 

This is what it looked like when I got it in mid-January...not much going on, but I was so shocked by how fast everything started sprouting as soon as I put the pot on my south-exposure windowsill. (I realize, now, that it looks incredibly dorky to leave the little stick-in thing sitting in the pot. I used it to remember to rotate it, because my inner control freak can't handle when a plant leans one way toward the sun. Excuses for my moderate idiocy!)

Less than a week later...

Seriously though, these things are idiot-proof if they are Lizzie-proof. I almost feel like this shouldn't merit checking off a goal. But it makes me incredibly happy, so I'll go with it. 

And then they bloomed! 

Daffodils are 100% indisputably my favorite flower (which I've mentioned before). Needless to say, I gasped like a small child on Christmas morning when they were the first thing to bloom. 

And of course the damn thing chose the week I was gone to go absolutely full-blast...here's the current state of things! 

There's a purple-pink hyacinth hiding on the other side, but I'm just completely head-over-heels for those weird little bluebell things and the gorgeous red tulips. There are yellow tulip buds coming up too, and more daffodils on their way (my excuse for ignoring the slightly crispy ones, I've never figured out how not to kill the plant when nipping off dead blooms!). Bottom line: best $12 I've spent in a long time. 

There you have it: a 101 in 1001 that totally delivered on the "life-enriching happiness" front! See more here

Sunday Brunch: Ike's

One of Erin's only requests for her time in Minny last weekend was to do brunch, and I, obviously, freaked the eff out with excitement. Erin's read this blog for longer than most people other than my mom, I think, and I was so thrilled to officially loop her into the Brunch Tour! 

We went with a true Minneapolis classic, Ike's downtown...


Ike's is located on 6th Street, right in the heart of downtown, and has long been a Schwegfam favorite for its cute, retro bar vibe and adorable signage. Fun fact: my grandparents used to come here for date nights! We still have photos floating around the house somewhere of them all dolled up and out on the town. It just has that vibe to it, I think...

...a place where you want to go out with people you enjoy and just socialize and people-watch and read the quotes on the walls and have a generally delightful evening. 

Score: 9/10


You mix your own mimosa with a split of champagne and a tiny carafe of orange juice. Excuse me while my inner control freak runs a victory lap. This is the best idea ever. 

Score: 10/10


Absolutely obscene in volume and quality. For starters, about five seconds after we sat down THIS monster was brought to our table: 

That, friends, is about a quarter-pan's worth of giant, hot, syrupy caramel roll with melting whipped butter all over it. Please note there are multiple forks stabbed in the top, as if to encourage you to just throw all decorum to the wind and essentially faceplant into that thing. I honestly could have had this as a meal and still had leftovers. 

Ike's brunch format, though, guarantees leftovers no matter what. You pick your eggs (breakfast quesadilla, Benedict or omelet, or prepared any which way), and then your table gets this giant, bottomless platter of pancakes and hash browns and sausage and bacon. IT'S BOTTOMLESS. It gets refilled. This would be the perfect place to bring like...a team of hungry high school athletes or that guy from Man Vs Food or something. Erin and I were out of our depth in a big way. 

I did the breakfast quesadilla and it was FANTASTIC. My hangover go-to meal is cheesy eggs with salsa, and this was like that, plus a tortilla, minus a hangover. So great. 

Full table shot! Corner of the caramel roll, our GIANT PLATTER OF SIDES, Erin's scrambled eggs and toast, and of course champagne, because what brunch is complete without it?! We barely dented this spread. I had leftovers for days, folks. 

Score: 10/10, for sheer volume. Also, for deliciousness. 

To check out Ike's for yourself, first assemble a team of at least five others, preferably who have been wandering in the woods without food for like a week and are optimally hungry. Then go to http://ilikeikes.com/. If, on the other hand, you don't have an army of ravenous friends, find somewhere else to brunch right here. Happy dining! 

the perfect London Monday

1. Wake up at the crack of dawn. Legitimately be at the Tube before the sun is up. If, like me, you are staying on Gracechurch Street (which, no big deal, is where Elizabeth Bennet's uncle and aunt lived in Pride and Prejudice...and no, I TOTALLY didn't tell my bosses that and get a weird look)...hop the Circle or District Line train from Monument to Embankment. 

2. Get a coffee at Caffé Nero while the sun comes fully up. 

3. Admire the cloudless blue skies above Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square. 

4. Cross under the Admiralty Arch, probably while enjoying your Nero raspberry-white chocolate muffin. 

5. Hop off the Mall and stroll through a nearly-deserted St. James's Park, admiring the daffodils, which kindly remembered they are your favorite and bloomed in FEBRUARY just for you. Obviously. 

6. Stop to finish your muffin and read for a little bit on a park bench. Realize this swan is trying VERY hard to make friends (or finish your muffin for you). Freak out a little bit because you have a weird thing about large birds like swans and geese being a little bit scary. Awkwardly jog away when it actually starts walking toward you. ABANDON THE MUFFIN. Tell nobody of your shame. 

7. Enter Buckingham Palace courtyard. Realize you are one of maybe five people there, which has pretty much never happened. Enjoy being blinded by the Victoria Fountain. 

8. Go pretend you're Kate Middleton for a minute (more than a minute. Actually longer than is entirely respectable.).

9. Instagram, duh. 

10. Take Birdcage Walk to go say hi to Ben. 

11. Also to get to the Westminster Station, also on the Circle and District lines, and hop a train with service toward South Kensington. 

12. Have a cookie for second breakfast because, by now, it's fully 9:30 am and that swan probably ended up eating more of your muffin than you did. (Ben's Cookies are, I kid you not, probably one of my top 5 favorite things in London. You can't go wrong, but I personally go for the milk chocolate orange or the peanut butter chocolate chunk. Grab extra napkins.)

13. Stroll to the Victoria & Albert Museum ten minutes before it opens, thinking you'll be first in line.

14. Realize there is no line and you are the only person actually trying to go to the Victoria & Albert this morning. Get in the museum seven minutes before it actually opens. Die and go to heaven.

15. Enjoy the Renaissance gallery and most of the Right Wing entirely by yourself, so quiet your footsteps echo. 

16. Facebook that shit. At Laura's behest, go have a scone with clotted cream and jam and tea. Realize you have now eaten more carbs in 3 hours than you have in the last week. Feel zero shame. 

17. Stroll down Brompton Road to Harrod's, pretending you're fancy enough to be there. Summarily get scary-lost somewhere between women's luxury handbags, the food halls, and the perfumerie. 

18. Realize you're fine with being lost as long as it's in the diamond gallery. Pick out your tiara for when Prince Harry wises up and proposes. Sneak a creeper-Snap of it when the Garrard consultant's back is turned, even though you have a distinct feeling that photographing the diamonds might be gauche. 


19. Take advantage of the unseasonably warm day to go enjoy Hyde Park. As if the Victoria Fountain at Buckingham didn't already sear your retinas enough, try to stare straight at the Albert Memorial on a sunny day. Fail at said attempt. 


20. In the hopes of actually encountering Harry (or William and Kate and Charlotte and George, who WERE ACTUALLY IN TOWN OH EM GEE), stroll casually to Kensington Palace. Have exactly zero (plus four) freak-outs over the possibility of encountering the Cambridges. 

21. Stare longingly through the gates. Imagine you see a curtain twitch. Realize you are being really weird. Look around and realize you are FAR from the only one being really weird. Feel moderately better about your life...then step slowly away from the palace before the feeling vanishes. 

22. Stroll around the other side, take the lane to the Queensway tube station, realize it is not even noon yet, and go meet your bosses for fish and chips. Pat yourself on the back for the most productively touristy morning in the history of London. 

On friends, jet lag, and birthday parties.

Oh hi. 

Right, I write a blog. Totally dropped the ball on that one last week in London...but I like to think that's totally excusable. Prince Harry wasn't going to seduce himself, you know? At any rate, I'm home now and had the best trip and, just as importantly, the BEST weekend! 

Claire and I have hosted a joint birthday party every year for four years now, and I'm pretty sure this year's topped them all. Our friend Erin from undergrad also celebrates a birthday the day after Claire's, and we've talked for years about getting her here to party it up with us. Problem is, very few people are willing to actually take a vacation to Minnesota...in February...so I kind of thought it was a pipe dream that we'd ever make it happen. Since she's grade-A certified awesome, though, she hopped a flight last Thursday, enjoyed some first-class free wine, and spent the entire weekend (in unseasonably warm temps!) with us! Only problem: I got back from London less than 24 hours before hosting this year's party. Clearly, I have excellent judgment and/or very inflated opinions of my own awesomeness and ability to power through anything. 

I got home from London around 6pm on Friday night, and promptly crashed hard and fast. I had all these great intentions of sleeping on the plane, and even got to fly business class (FLAT BEDS!!!), but then I remembered that, duh, I can't sleep on planes. Especially not when there's also free alcohol to enjoy in business class...so I pounded through movies and read a book and then when I got home this happened: 

Sorry, Snapchat audience, for the obnoxiousness that has been the last several days of Lizzie's Jet Lag Chronicles. That early bedtime meant this happened: 

Yeah, it was rough. Knowing what I was going into made it even harder to face up to jet lag this time around. It's tough to try to power through when all you want to do is hide under the covers and cry "WHY ME?!" (I'm REALLY not a morning person.) After lying in bed for like half an hour lamenting my tragic first-world-problem-ridden fate, I got up and started prepping for annual birthday traditions! AKA: JELLO SHOTS. 

We made them for the first time three years ago, and now they're kind of our birthday party thing. I turned on music and texted other early birds and embraced my inner "that's so college" girl and accidentally doubled the vodka in the cherry shots and had, in general, a great time. 

Then it was time to meet Erin for BRUNCH (DUH) (Review forthcoming!), and after an insane amount of food and catching up, we continued the party at Tattersall with Cosmopolitans and 18th and Centrals. How cute is this girl?! 


We rendezvoused with Claire (god that's hard to spell on no sleep!), they got manicures and I headed home, ostensibly to nap but actually to, you know, shower and make an effort to look like a presentable and conscious human that evening. The usual. 

I have to throw out another, official, super-huge-giant thank you to my mom and dad, without whom this party would genuinely not have happened, or at least would have been a lot sadder. They, unlike me, knew my general level of functionality after a big trip, and when I got back to MSP on Friday, they greeted me with a car full of wine and sliders for Saturday. They also made more appetizers, got three dozen cupcakes, and came over early on Saturday to do basically all the actual work of setting the party up. Thankfully, they also stayed to enjoy the party...because the coolest 27-year olds party with their AWESOME parents. Remind me to someday regale you all with the tale of Jodester's pool cue air guitar solo...it was beyond epic, because my parents are PERFECT. 

Because they are perfect, we took selfies. 

Erin and I made a Party City run between brunch and drinks, and of course decided that we needed insane party hats and shades for maximum coolness and birthday enjoyment. Also, because we are totally normal and incredibly pretty. 

While it looks like I was functional and normal and drinking wine like a regular person, I actually had a few side beverages going...and that striped shirt I'm wearing is outfit change number 3 of the night because, in my completely out-of-it state, I spilled coffee all down the front of my first shirt and wine all over the sleeve of my second. This came on the heels of spilling blue jello shot all over myself and my floor earlier that morning. Clearly, I am not the kind of person who could handle heavy machinery (or, um, anything) while tired. 

Highlights of the party: Eva pulled off an EPIC surprise with Kyla, who also came in for the weekend! I shrieked and almost needed outfit change number four. Thankfully, the wine stayed in the glass. We got one normal picture to practice for July, and then this happened...which is probably also practice for July. 

Further, any time I get to spend with Kels is the best. She came over early, helped set everything up, and kept me laughing all night...because she's just the kind of amazing friend who can do that. I got all sentimental and weird at one point kind of off to the side by myself because it's so fantastic to know we've been going strong for eleven years at this point, and there's no end in sight. So much love, Kelsizzle! 

Nate and Margaret also came, and made my life, and managed to take exactly one normal picture: 

And of course this girl. The party started on her actual birthday this year, and ended on Erin's, so there was a LOT of celebratory shot-taking and cheering and general ridiculousness. 

I wish I would have taken more pictures, but sadly that's almost it for the evening...I was too busy pounding coffee, Fireball, jello shots and wine (YIKES). Memorable moments: 

--Greg and I got our asses kicked by Eva and my dad on the pool table.

--Hannah and her lovely BF Kyle made me aware of the fact that there is such a thing as champagne gummy bears. They were amazing, FYI. 

--Repeatedly trying to tell people about London and inevitably getting distracted because, apparently, when tired I have the attention span of a gnat on Ecstasy. 

--Popping in on Claire and Erin's FaceTime with Sierra and her BF Danny just to say "HIIIIIIIIIII!!!!!"

--Heart to hearts with Kels in the bathroom (lol).

--Using my mom's "Jodi's Jams" playlist allllll night and loving her embarrassment/awesome dance moves.

--The moment I realized I doubled the vodka in the red jello shots.

--Impromptu dance circle action for "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" and switching to "Shake it Off" the moment it stopped being Claire's birthday and became Erin's.

--Ending the night the Ringeisen way with an absolutely shrieked version of Celine Dion's iconic classic, "It's All Coming Back to Me Now." Because we are NORMAL and also INCREDIBLY COOL. 

Obviously I ended the night in the classiest and most functional possible state. Newsflash: partying til 1:30 with jet lag doesn't mean you're going to sleep in like a normal human, it just means you'll still wake up at 5am completely unable to get back to sleep and still a little drunk. You can thank me for that piece of knowledge at your convenience. That said...

THANK YOU times one million (or times 27, ha!) to Erin for spending her break on a vacation to exotic Minnesota...having her here to celebrate was too much fun! Already looking forward to next year, and to paying Erin a visit in New York as soon as possible! 

London Calling

As if my birthday wasn’t already made perfect by the excessive amounts of free coffee perks, catered lunch at work, and warm fuzzy well-wishes from friends and family, I’m getting possibly the best present ever from my employer today…a free trip to London! Woo hoo!

Well, I mean, it’s not technically a birthday present, but with the timing of it, it sure feels like it. We’ve been planning a trip to do trainings and compliance work for months, and the window that just happened to work best fell right after my 27th. That means my Valentine this year is my very favorite city in the entire world…although I’m choosing to think it’s meant to be Prince Harry. Fate is bringing us together…that ginger cutie can only hold out for so long.

I’m flying out several days before my boss and boss’s boss, and since the flights were cheaper, my hotel room and meals are all being covered by the company for the long weekend. I’m taking advantage of the extra cash in my pocket to splurge on a few favorites, including a trip to the English National Opera, the National Theatre, and a West End production (TBD) mid-week. London theater is outstanding, and some of my favorite experiences from studying abroad centered around the classes and excursions that took advantage of that!

I’m also hitting up a few old favorite museums: the Victoria and Albert and the Sir John Soane Museum…and a few newbies: the Tate Modern and the National Portrait Gallery! It’s inexcusable that I haven’t visited the NPG before…it’s legit two blocks from where we studied. I’m also hoping to catch the Changing of the Guard because, hi, basic bitch tourist and I’ve actually never managed to attend before.

On the culinary bucket list for the trip: amazing Indian at Dishoom, gorging myself at the Borough Market, enjoying the world’s best fish and chips at the Golden Hind, and getting Ben’s Cookies and Monmouth Coffee at every possible opportunity. Of course, pub-hopping is also at the top of my list…although I’m convinced that doesn’t need planning in advance as there are cute ones on every corner.

We’ll be splitting time between Lloyd’s of London and offices in Surrey, and I’m so excited to show my boss around the city…it’s his first trip to London and he’s actually really looking forward to seeing the sights. In the meantime, tell the Queen to hold onto her tiara, and if he knows what’s good for him, Prince William will hide his kids, hide his wife…because my obsession knows no bounds and I might actually stake out Kensington with a pair of binoculars and my “I <3 KATE” banner.

Cheers, friends!