Saturday, May 31, 2008

car ni val !

OH what a fun night!

Charlie's school held their annual carnival Friday night-it is such a great way to finish off the school year. And this year, it was truly a wonderfully old fashioned carnival. There was a cake walk (extremely popular, full size cakes and pies!) bingo, a book sale, a raffle (there was even a Wii!), ring the bottle, water wars, kiddie games, kickball, basketball, an inflatable jumping zone, face painting, a photo booth (for that souvenier Hawaiian photo), sidewalk art, and lots of fun snacks. The Fire Department even showed up with a truck for the kids to check out, and some lucky ones even got to try their hand at the water hose.

It takes an army of volunteers to put it on, and it's so much fun to catch up with everyone. Many of the teachers are there, working a shift too, and the kids love to be able to see their teacher outside of the regular classroom. The real heroes are the ones who organize it and pull it all together, and I think Charlie summed it up best on the way home. Face flushed from the exercise and excitement, a huge smile on his face, he proclaimed " Mom, that was the BEST CARNIVAL EVER!" And considering this was our 6th carnival (we started going the year before Charlie started kindergarten) I think that is really saying something. So my hat goes off to those hardworking moms that pulled this off, and did such a fabulous job. Because there are a lot of really happy kids tonight, and after all, that is who it's for!

I wish I had some photos to share with you, there will probably be some on our school website that I can share at a later date. I was too busy manning the photo booth to take my own pictures!

Friday, May 30, 2008

the original recycling concept

Long before it was hip and trendy to be "green", people held rummage sales (garage sales, yard sales, tag sales if you are Martha Stewart, whatever you want to call them). People had things they no longer needed or used, and would sell them at a dramatically reduced price to other people who had a need for them (or maybe not a need, but a strong desire). Although I have been to a few sales, where the people having them, don't get the concept of "dramatically reduced price from the original", and I am guessing they have a lot of stuff left at the end of the day. General rule of thumb for pricing is about 10% of the original price, and once you go to enough sales in your neighborhood, you figure out what you should pay for a book, or a tablecloth, or whatever.

I used to be really obsessed with rummaging, especially when Charlie was little. I got him so many great clothes, and toys, and nearly his entire library came from rummage sales. And I had my own rummage sales to sell his crib, and high chair, and all of those baby things that serve their usefulness, and then need a new home.

I found my two favorite slipper chairs that grace our living room at a rummage sale-the owner had just had them reupholstered, and just didn't have room for them anymore, and I got them for a song. Much less then I am sure it cost her to have them redone.

I bought our first credit card processing machine for our store at a rummage sale, a savings of about $450. And it was just like new.

I have found lots of great dishes, and antique tablecloths, and things I have repurposed into gifts, and fun cookbooks, and groovy pottery at rummage sales. Sometimes you will hit up several, and not find a thing. Other times you will hit the proverbial rummaging jackpot. That is part of the fun, the thrill of the hunt, the adventure of it all, the not knowing what will be around the corner.

My rummaging obsession has waned a bit in the last few years, as our tiny house fills up and Charlie has become more involved in his clothes selection process, and there is just less stuff that I "need" to buy.

But I am heading out this morning for a little rummaging, because this is the last Friday Charlie will be in school, and I have the freedom to do a little adventuring. And it just feels like a good day to see if there are any treasures out there that need a new home.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

comfort food

We all crave it, every now and then. A big bowl of really good mac and cheese (homemade, not Kraft), mashed potatoes, or in our case, pot roast. With the kitchen in disarray, the crockpot is once again my friend. I pulled it out the other day and made Mike and Charlie's all time favorite beef dish. It is from one of those old church cookbooks, that would get put together by all of the church ladies to raise money for new altar cloths or hymnals. I love those cookbooks, and pick them up when I am at yard sales to browse through and find some recipe keepers.

This is a classic recipe from years gone by, when "housewives" discovered the wonder of canned cream of mushroom soup, and slow cooking an inexpensive piece of beef into something mouth watering.

1 hunk of meat-chuck roast works great
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 envelope dry onion soup mix
a few splashes of worcestershire sauce

I have added some of my own touches-first I rub Montreal Steak Seasoning into it ( the original recipe just called for salt and pepper) and sear it in a really hot, oiled pan, to form a nice little crust all over it and hold in the juices. Then you throw it in the crockpot, and spread the mushroom soup over it. Splash on the worcestershire sauce, then pour the dry soup mix all over that. Take the empty soup can and fill it with water. Pour the water back in the hot pan and scrape up any leftover bits from the pot, and pour it around the meat in the crockpot. Over the day, all of this will combine to make your very own gravy. I also saute up some mushrooms with a little garlic and throw in there too, as we are nuts about mushrooms at our house. Throw on the cover and let it cook on Low for about 8 hours. Mash up some potatoes (or buy the ones already made, what the heck, this is supposed to be an EASY dinner! and once the gravy hits them you won't even notice they aren't homemade). The meat will just be melting, you won't even be able to cut it into slices. Serve it up with a nice veg, and you are set.

Now if you can control yourself, this should make enough for two meals. Or not.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

he's still got it

For my birthday, my guys took me to see the new Indiana Jones movie. Such fun! Mike and I have always enjoyed those movies, and we own all of them on DVD. Mike even suggested that we name Charlie Indiana when he was born. Seriously. We started introducing them to Charlie a few months ago, figuring he was old enough to deal with the violence and gore they do have, and to get him ready for the long awaited fourth movie.

It had all of the elements we loved in the others: suspense, non-stop action, a feisty female (I love Karen Allen), a nasty villian (Cate Blanchett was great), crazy stunts, amazing scenery, rolicking adventure, a mystery, and of course, Harrison Ford. The main reason I watch the Indy movies. Golly gee whiz he is darn attractive. How come men just get more good looking, the older they get? Calista is one lucky little girl. And I mean that in lots of ways.

We don't go out to the movies very often, case in point: tickets, drinks, popcorn to share, $50. That is money we are only willing to pay when a movie is worth seeing on the big screen. Which this one was. Otherwise, Netflix is the way to go for our family. And if you haven't tried it yet, I urge you to do so. Finally watched "juno" last night. It was okay, but glad I didn't pay to see it on the big screen.

So it was a great family outing, and a wonderful way to spend my birthday. And Charlie even dressed for the occasion:

hmmm, he would make a fine archeologist...all he needs is a whip...

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


May is a psychotic month. It could snow, it could be 90. You might need polar fleece, or you might need a tank top. Maybe boots, perhaps sandals. Perhaps that is why the sign of Gemini is mostly for May, because as you may know Gemini's run to the extremes as well. And I am proud to be one of them, well, most of the time.

There is yard work to be done, and winter stuff to finally put away. You need to find baseball gloves, and dust off lawn furniture, and tune up motorcycles. There are windows to be washed and screens to put up.

And then there are the occasions-in my family we have multiple birthdays, and anniversaries. Then there is the end of the school year, and the school Carnival, and Mother's Day, and friends with sons and daughters graduating from high school. And the plant sale, and hiring more employees for summer staffing, and making sure we have enough inventory for increased summer traffic. And Mike is getting ready for his first Enduro of the season, coming up this weekend.

Sounds like the perfect time to rip your kitchen out of your house, doesn't it?

The last cabinets and sink are probably coming out tomorrow, and we will be doing dishes in the bathroom. Can you say paper plates? The rest of the kitchen is empty, and getting painted today.

In other news, Claude continues to improve, and gets another new splint today.

He sleeps a lot. And no, I do not coordinate his blankets with his splint.

And we finally got a shot of the babies. They are very noisy when momma doesn't bring the worms fast enough. And I have no idea how she sits on them and keeps them warm, wouldn't all of those beaks be a little uncomfortable?

So far, they have all survived.

Yup, just another May at the Pohl house.

Monday, May 26, 2008


Today is the day we honor all of those who are no longer with us. We are so fortunate to have many loved ones still in our lives, and each day I say a little thank you that our parents, and brothers and sisters, and my grandmother, are still alive and kicking.

Today I am thinking about my Grandpa Archie. He was my mom's dad, and died of a heart attack while attending his class reunion. It also happened to be my Grandma Doris's birthday, and he had just gone up and asked the band to play "Happy Birthday", when his heart just gave up, and he left us. I was 10, I remember hearing about it while eating my breakfast of Rice Krispies. It was a Sunday, and I couldn't figure out why mom hadn't woken me up to go to church. I remember that he always had a roll of Life Savers in his shirt pocket, and when he saw me he would hold out his arms, and I would take a running leap and jump into them. After he had gone, I would have dreams where he came into my room at night, and told me everything was okay. I miss him. And I am really bummed that I don't have a picture to share with you today. I will find one, and share it another day, because Archie was a handsome man.

I am thinking about my Great Grandma Ethel. I have many stories to tell about her, another whole post worth. She made homemade doughnuts, and loved to watch All Star Wrestling and Roller Derby, and lived out on the Mississippi River in her tiny little house. She passed away from a blood disease when I was a junior in high school. She is the middle one in the following picture. I clearly got my upper arms, and sense of fun, and enjoyment of alcohol, from her. I miss her. My Grandpa Don was a big part of my life. He bought me a pony, and made me a buggy to ride in, and could literally do anything. I will do another post about him at a later date, as I have many stories to tell and pictures to share about him too. He always kept a coffee can of lollipops in his shop, and taught me how to fish with a bamboo pole, and took me for walks in the woods where I learned about wild flowers and morel mushrooms. He died of cancer the summer before my senior year of high school. He is the one in the photo NOT wearing the baseball uniform and holding hands with the cute girl. Isn't he a handsome fellow? I find it rather eerie that this photo was taken on the exact same date as I am writing this post about him, 73 years ago. I have no idea who the other people in the photo are, or why it was taken. Perhaps a Memorial Day Weekend baseball game? I miss him. Grandma Betty was such a presence. ( She was married to Grandpa Don, and Ethel was her mom). She always sang while she was in her kitchen cooking, she sounded like Ella Fitzgerald. She taught me how to sew, and bought me my first sewing machine. She loved wigs, and diamond rings, and big cars. I loved playing in her basement, and going shopping with her to Gibsons. She loved to play Scrabble, and Yahtzee, and she made a mean cherry pie. She passed away in her sleep (the best way to go, in my opinion) but she did get to meet Charlie, unlike Grandpa Archie, or Great Grandma Ethel, or Grandpa Don. There will be another whole post about her someday, too. She was a twin, and her brother Bob (she was Roberta, he was Robert) is usually in pictures with her as a child. I found this one of her, all alone, and clearly I have her knees. I miss her. I can't visit their graves today, but I don't believe their spirit is really in those little plots of land anyway. Their spirit is in me, in the way I live my life, and I thank them and remember them fondly. And I hope they come and visit me in my dreams tonight, just to say hello.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

topsy turvy

For anyone who has tried to live a normal life while remodeling any portion of their home-I get it now. The extra energy spent just trying to remember where you put the strainer, or the extra coffee filters, makes for a tired brain at the end of the day. And to add to the kitchen mess, our kitty needs to be confined to a couple of rooms, which means blocking off the doorway from the dining room to the kitchen, and the living room to the hallway. So on top of having to make extra trips, you also have to exert extra energy lifting yourself over the barricades every time you go in or out of the living room. (which doesn't sound like a big deal, but imagine doing 527 leg lifts in one day...)

The kitchen is all ready to be painted. Mike spent all day Saturday doing the yuckiest job of all, (next to stripping three layers of old painted wallpaper), sanding all of the plaster repairs he had to make to the walls. Even though we hung drop cloths in the doorways, there is still a fine layer of nasty dust everywhere. I am sure it got embedded in Mike's skin-but he was a trooper. We pay homage to anyone who does this for a living, and feel they should make about $100 an hour.

Really, the hardest part of this whole remodeling thing is that I like things kind of tidy. And things won't be even near tidy in my house for a while yet. So I just have to switch my brain into "Deal With It" mode, and escape to my back yard every so often, where things are relatively normal, other than the giant pile of old cupboards sitting in my driveway. So I just have to turn my chair the other way, and look at some flowers.

Do It Yourself Remodeling doesn't just take a physical toll, it takes a mental swipe at your psyche too. Not to mention the fun you get to have when you do it with your husband, and the whole Mars vs. Venus thing.

Maybe we will just go out for some eggs and toast, and take a little break from it all.

Friday, May 23, 2008


How the heck did this happen?

When I was little, playing with my Barbie dolls, they never made it past 30.

Which, when you are 8, seems ancient.

And today I turn 46. I actually lost a year, because for some reason I can no longer do simple math, and last year I thought I was 44. I even sent my parents an elaborate Anniversary card on their Forty Fifth, in August, 9 months before I was born. When last year was actually their 46th. They were wondering what was up with me.

Really, it has nothing to do with denial. I love my forties. (Other than the waking up at 3 am and not being able to go back to sleep, and the popping sounds my knees make when they bend, and the arthritis in my neck, and back, and hands)...but seriously, FORTY is great. There are things that really no longer bother you, like they did in your twenties and thirties. No makeup, not even mascara, for several days in a row? So what! And I was even out in public! My mom would be horrified. Maybe she never felt that liberation, that I certainly feel. My husband and child love me for who I am. Not that I am going to become a slob or anything, but there are some beauty routines that just don't need to be routine any more.

Other than pedicures, a TOTALLY different story.

I really do love being in my forties, never mind that now I am on the other side of 45, and my FIFTIES are looming. Things have changed ! Woman are vibrant, and exciting, and beautiful, (even WITHOUT BOTOX) well beyond forty. Wrinkles are interesting. Gray hair can be very dynamic. Thirty is the new Fifty.

All I know is, I love my life the way it is RIGHT NOW. And getting older can only mean getting better, and wiser, and finding new wine to drink.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


So much going on around here this week, here is the latest news:

Claude has two broken bones in his leg, one punctured through the skin and left a nasty wound. We can only speculate on how it happened. He has been splinted and wrapped, and will need a new splint and wrap every few days so the vets can check his wound for infection. He is on pain meds, and antibiotics, and thyroid meds - 17 year old kitties need lots of drugs. He wants to go all over the house, and climb the stairs to our room, or go down to the basement. You can tell when he is gotten up, he sounds like a tiny little peg-leg pirate clunking across the room. We have to carry him around a lot. But he isn't supposed to be moving around on his own, so we have tried to keep him in the living room. Everything he needs is there, but he is such a creature of habit he still thinks his litter box is in the basement (you can imagine how hard that is to deal with when you have to drag your leg around), and his food is in the kitchen. So if we have to leave him alone today I will have to barricade all the doorways in the living room so he can stay safe. Now if he will just quit trying to jump onto the couch....

But he did finally start purring again last night, and gave himself a bath, so we believe he is on the mend. He gets to see another vet on Friday, we will know more then. We are just so very glad to have him home, our lives seemed incomplete without him.

The kitchen project has been coming along, although slower than we had hoped, what with all of our extra activities this week:

Mike came to my rescue and finished scraping the mulitple layers of wallpaper off of the window wall. I love him. My discs were starting to stage a protest. Today he hopes to finish fixing up three of the walls, and get them ready for painting, remove the last of the wall cabinets, and get the ceiling painted.

In other news, the lilacs are blooming!

I love lilacs, and wish they would last longer. But for the few days that they sweetly scent our backyard, I fully enjoy them. And Momma Robin had her babies! I have not gotten close enough to take a pic, as I don't want to disturb her, but I spied her bringing worms to the nest last night, and could see tiny beaks peeking up to get their dinner.

While Mike works on those kitchen walls today, I plan to start putting the cabinets together-in between helping out at Charlie's school, and taking him for a check-up this afternoon.

Now doesn't that look like fun? Maybe I will build them in the living room, to keep Claude company.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


What a week around here, and it's only Wednesday!
Claude snuck out of the house on Monday night, during the Great Squirrel Relocation Project. I realized he was gone when he wasn't meowing at me to go to bed, so Mike went out and looked for him. Then I took a turn, wandering the neighborhood with a flashlight and some tuna fish. No luck.

He has had some walkabouts before at night, but has always shown up bright and early the next morning, meowing very loudly for some breakfast.

He didn't show up yesterday. I let Charlie play his new NHL video game before school, so he wouldn't notice.

We made signs and put them up throughout the area, Mike searched on his bike, I looked on foot, and dear friends Kari and Tracy L helped out too. No Claude.

At this point, I knew he had to be trapped somewhere, because otherwise he would surely have found his way home.

Late last evening, a neighbor stopped by with Ernie, a gray neighborhood cat. Sorry, wrong one! He was back a few minutes later, to tell us that the woman who carpools with his wife had mentioned seeing a cat by their air conditioner when she left for work that morning. So Mike and Charlie sprinted down to the house, which is across Hamline (how he crossed without getting hit is a wonder, he is NOT street smart) and down the block, and found him there. He had injured his back left leg, and couldn't walk.

So he is safe. Not sound, but safe. We are bringing him in to the vet this morning to see what can be done for him. I was never so glad to bury my face in his soft fur, and hear his distincitve purr as he nuzzled my face. Oh dear Claude, welcome home. You were sorely missed.

( A pre-adventure photo )

Thanks to everyone who sent their positive thoughts our way yesterday-it worked!!!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

halfway house for wayward pets

Apparently, word on the street is to head on over to the Pohl house.

Not only did Momma Robin make her spring residence at our house, a squirrel found it's way through the mesh chimney cap, whipped up a huge ol' nest, and once in, couldn't find a way out.

And sometime this weekend, it expired.

When I got up this morning, there was definitely an aroma in the air I hadn't smelled the day before. What could it be? I had taken out the garbage the night before, so I cleaned out the garbage disposal. That didn't help. So I wandered the house, sniffing. And the minute I walked by the fireplace I knew what was goin' on. stinky dead animal smell.


So I opened all the windows and doors (thank god we had put the screens up last week). But that didn't really help much. And then my furnace came on, because it is so flippin' cold here today.

Mike was at ACES, I phoned and warned him of the project that awaited him upon his return home. eewwww. And he thought all he had to do today was yank cupboards off the walls!

He dutifully put the giant ladder up against the house, and made his precarious way to the top of the chimney. After removing the cap, he found the nest partway down the chimney. Realizing it would be easier to push it down, than try to pull it up, he found a good long pole and did just that.
Now all he had to do was position a box at the bottom, open the damper, and stinky dead animal would plop into the box and be disposed of. Because we have had to do this before, a few years ago, before we had caps on our chimneys. And there were two of them, perhaps an illicit tryst gone wrong. They smelled, they were removed, and life went on. Once the caps went on, we really thought this would not be a chore we would have to relive. Okay, Mike would have to relive. I just provide emotional support. This is when I am really glad I am not a feminist.

So since he was up there anyway, he reattached the chimney caps-there would be no more critters in OUR chimney!

He headed into the house, opened the damper, plop went the nest, and the deceased squirrel, and half of the leaves and such from our yard. And then he heard a noise. And got a mirror, and a flashlight, and found another squirrel in the chimney, very much alive.


He can't go up, because Mike did such a good job of sealing up the top. He won't come down, because he is terrified of this human peering up at him, and the cat meowing ferociously in the background.

He keeps making noises, like he would like to leave and perhaps romp through the yard. Which would be just fine with me. I don't like live animals trapped in parts of my house. (you notice I am assuming it is a male squirrel, a female would never get herself in such a situation. Or maybe she's the one that's already dead).

We have peanut butter for him at the bottom of the fireplace, right on the edge of the box he can just jump into, and then we will kindly pick him up and deposit him outside. Or he can refuse to leave, and starve to death, and I will have another death on my hands.

Imagine the troubles we would have if we actually lived in the COUNTRY.

I wrote the above on Monday afternoon. It is now 9 pm on Monday night, and this is now a whole different story. For THIS is what was in my chimney:

A baby squirrel. Not just one of them, but THREE of them. And they are no longer pests, but adorable little creatures that I need to save. And the dead one was their mom. And I am nearly in tears, because I imagine that she nursed them, and had no strength to get out and get enough food to keep going, and died. And here we are taking their dead mom, and the only home they have ever known, away from them. Mike was able to get two of them out of the chimney, we put them in the yard underneath the porch of the abandoned house next to us. I shelled nuts for them to eat, shouldn't I leave them a bowl of milk? There is still one left, that Mike is trying to coax down. He is really affected by this too. When he brought them outside, they were so disoriented. They came right over to us, like they wanted us to do something. One of them tried climbing up Mike's leg. Of course Charlie has been there through all of this.

But what else could we do? If we leave them in the chimney, they will surely starve and die. At least outside they have a fighting chance, don't they? And I just read what I wrote earlier today, when this was all just a NUISANCE, and I had other things to do, and now I just feel so bad. Because I really sound like a jerk. And I guess when it's babies, that changes everything.

More to follow....

Monday, May 19, 2008

downed trees and wood ticks

Mike and Charlie got more riding in this weekend, what great weather for it! They headed down to Theilman (near Rochester).

I love that they have found something they can do together, that gets them out in the woods, and gives them some great exercise. And even though he is still pretty new to it, Mike tells me Charlie is an amazing rider, just look at him take this corner: Watch out for that tree honey, you could sprain your ankle! Good thing they leave me at home.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

wallpaper sucks

Sorry for the strong language, but it's true. I have wallpapered so much in this house, mostly because the walls previously had wallpaper, and it was easier (?) to strip it and put up new, rather than remove it and fix the walls to where they could be painted.

No more wallpaper in the kitchen, it just isn't the look I am going for. So yesterday was spent stripping wallpaper. And then I found that the window wall isn't really painted, it is paint over not one, but two layers of old wallpaper, with another layer of paint in between. (random curses upon previous owners of 603 Hamline....) Since that will be a bit more labor intensive, I saved that fun little project for today. And I need to finish emptying out all the cupboards, as tomorrow they all come off the walls. Then we will need to make all of the repairs to the walls, to make them paintable, and scrub and paint the ceiling, and then the walls.

But I am thinking after dirt biking for two days straight, Mike may be a little sore, and moving a little slowly tomorrow, so that may be more like a two day project...or even three. Like I said, we are not going to be completing this project anytime soon.

I am hoping that when the cupboards come off the walls we will find the secret wall safe full of long forgotten Chevron or Exxon oil stock certificates. And then I can hire someone to do all of this!

Saturday, May 17, 2008


I know, I usually try to stay away from my office/computer on the weekends, but I just couldn't help posting some recipes. Because, yum.

You know those meals, the ones where everyone dishes up what they want, and then after you have eaten your portion, you just kind of keep picking more out of the dish? Tonight was one of those meals.

Clearly, the gorgeous weather has affected our taste buds too. And when you eat outside, everything tastes better. And it was late for us, 7 pm, so we were starving. So take all of that into consideration if you make this and say, "What the heck was she going on and on about?"

So I had a pork tenderloin (if you read me, you will know it was because it was on sale at Kortes-if you don't, now you know anyway). And some broccoli. Because unlike most children, Charlie LOVES broccoli. And so do I. And Mike tolerates it, as he has learned he needs to eat green vegetables.

Okay, here are the recipes I found while whipping through my cookbook library while eating a turkey sandwich outside taking a break from washing windows (totally run on sentence, one of the joys of blogging.)

Since I can't find a link to it, I have to type it, dang. It's from Rachael Ray's 365 No Repeats cookbook (go buy it!):

Rosemary Pork Tenderloin
2 1/4 lbs. pork tenderloin
zest and juice of 2 lemons
1/2 tbsp. pepper
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, stripped and fine chop
2 Tbsp olive oil
coarse salt
Mix up everything but the pork, rub it on and over and around the pork. Grill it at 500 degrees until it hits 160 degrees internal temp, let it sit for a few minutes, then slice and serve.

And to go along, since Mike & Charlie needed some carbs before riding all day Saturday:
Ina Garten's Broccoli and Bow Ties (thank you God there is a link):,,FOOD_9936_24673,00.html

And a nice bottle of wine, and you are good. The perfect Friday-evening-it-is-finally-going-to-be-warm kind of meal.

Happy dining.

Friday, May 16, 2008

rare double post...

Because I have been outside all day, washing windows and putting up screens, and I took these shots, and just had to share them with all of you on this gorgeous day.

Momma Robin is still in residence, she was not too happy with all of our messing around by her nest today.

We weren't really that close, Mike used his telephoto lens, or she would have never sat there for her portrait. While I was on the ladder washing the window right next to the nest, I just had to peek inside, and looky what I found:I counted four that I could see, but I couldn't see the whole thing so there may be more. Aren't they just beautiful? I am sending a little prayer out that they all survive, and she can raise them in my yard, and send them on their way.

And then I had to take some pics of my newly planted flowers-most of these came from Gerten's, from our school plant sale. Such healthy plants!

These are mini callibrochia-they bloom anywhere you plant them, you will get more flowers the more sun they get. They are self dead-heading, and so easy to take care of. They offered a mixed basket this year, they are gorgeous! I plan to get even more of them next year.I moved my pot of Johnny Jump Ups and planted them at the base of our birch tree. A whole bunch of little tiny smiles for whoever happens to be walking by:Oops, plopped this pic in too close-the above is a mixed begonia pot. I ADORE begonias, because they kind of look like roses but are a lot easier to take care of. They like a little sun, mostly shade, and also dead head themselves. These are on my front step, to greet the mailman. Or the Jehovah Witnesses, who are the only other people who use my front door.

And these are just random shots of all of the color I planted this year. Normally I have to have a color scheme, but I think our extended winter affected my psyche a bit as I was placing my order, because I have every color, everywhere:

I have little birds, or birdhouses, throughout my garden. Hey, maybe that's why Momma Robin picked our place for her little nest! She could tell we were bird friendly.

Hope you get to do some planting this beautiful weekend!

Charlie Biker

Another thing you can't do in the suburbs? Ride your bike down the sidewalk. 'Cause they don't have sidewalks. Which are a very important piece of having a true neighborhood.Charlie asked me to take pictures of him doing wheelies-so I grabbed the camera and did my best. Prior to take-off, Major concentration:And he pops it!

Nice landing. Clearly, I am not too great with the camera in these situations. After seeing the pics, Mike told me about this cool setting we have on our camera, just for sport situations. So I will use that next time, and these pics will turn out much better. But I think they still captured the moment.

Brad Bombardir is "Principal for the Day" at Charlie's school today (Go Wild!) and Charlie was up at 6:30 and dressed in his jersey and shiny red shorts. I really hate those shiny athletic shorts and pants, how about a cute pair of jeans or cargo shorts? But you gotta let a 10 year old boy be in charge of something....

He and Mike are heading out at the crack o dawn tomorrow to ride dirt bikes all day near Thielman, Mike will camp overnight and ride again on Sunday, Charlie is getting a ride home Saturday night with some friends, he said he doesn't feel like camping quite yet.

When the weather is finally this nice, the kitchen can wait.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

the neighborhood

Yesterday was the first day that truly felt like winter was over. Unlike the last time the temperature got close to 70, yesterday had the leaves on the trees, and a different warmth to the sun. Knowing I had to get the rest of my flowers planted before the kitchen project takes over my life, I spent a good portion of it outside.

As I was heading out, my dear friend Kari stopped by with a little thank you gift. What a nice surprise! At the same time, another dear friend who runs a day care, Tracy Lane, was walking by with her charges, and her son Alec, who was home after suffering a broken nose (OW!) from a wayward baseball pitch. So we had a good little chat, to find out the specifics. Later, as I was still in the yard, another friend who lives in the neighborhood, Doug, stopped by on his way home from the grocery store.

Then it was time to take the bike out, and make a quick trip up to our neighborhood grocery store, Kortes, where I chatted with the clerk, who knows me, as I am there all the time. After packing away the goodies (pork tenderloin is on sale for 3.99 a pound! get some!) I walked to the bus stop to wait for Charlie, where I chatted with Doug again, and neighbor Niki.

After that, Charlie and I went to visit Alec, and deliver him a malt (because Dairy Queen definitely has some medicinal value when it comes to broken bones), and I stayed to visit with Tracy, as she doesn't get much adult contact in her days of day care. Before you know it, Doug and his boys had stopped with something for Alec, Tracy's husband Mike had arrived home, the day care kids had gone, and it was time to celebrate this very nice day. So we gathered up snacks and my hubby, beer and wine, and sat in the sunshine enjoying each other's company. Very impromptu, and completely unplanned, the best kind of get-togethers. Thank you Mike and Tracy!

And that is what living in a neighborhood is all about, and why I think that we probably won't be making that move to the suburbs anytime soon. At least until Charlie leaves us...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

d i y

So, the "fun and glamorous" phase of our kitchen remodel is done. You know, the part where you walk through showrooms and gaze at perfectly aligned, fully functioning cabinets, and slide your hand over cold, shiny pieces of granite countertop. Your dream kitchen is firmly entrenched in your brain, you can just see how beautiful it's going to look. It won't be a big deal, you aren't tearing down walls or anything. Just replacing all of the cabinets, and countertop, and painting the walls, and installing a backsplash. Really, just a little d i y.

And then you come crashing down to reality, after you go to Ikea and load your truck up with the 120 pieces of things you will need to make the cabinets. Not counting the hardware. And then you organize them all in your garage, and realize not only will you need a place to store all of the stuff you are taking out of your old cupboards, and the old cupboards themselves, and the new cupboards before they are installed. And you remember you live in a tiny house, with a basement that is already full of simulator cockpits and store inventory and all of that stuff you have been meaning to give to Goodwill. But hey, it's not snowing out (dare I say that yet?) Can we just fill up the whole backyard with the stuff?

Mike and I have always been part of the D I Y group. Mostly to save money, surely not to save sanity. The only time we have hired someone is to roof our house, or paint the exterior, or install and inspect the water heater. And of course our store at the mall. At our old store, we did everything ourselves, the demo, the painting, etc. The MOA wouldn't let us build out our own store, apparently we needed to be part of a trade union. But that was fine with us, as we had plenty of other irons in the fire at the time.

So now that we have this much more leisurely life, we seem to think we can spend our summer putting in a new kitchen. Because as much as I like to think we can do this in just a few weeks, I envision this taking longer than that. We still have to run our store, and Mike still has events to compete in. But I think that's okay. My normal MO is to do things in a day-because once I start something I want to see the end result as soon as possible, and then scrub the floor and shine up the windows and have it looking magazine ready. But I think I know that this project is a little more involved than that, so I am making lots of lists, and taking a deep breath, and just letting it happen as it needs to.

So when I call you or email you and I am all stressed out, just remind me about what I wrote today.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Dear Mother Nature, part 2

Okay, I know you are probably busy right now figuring out where to send your next horrific weather. Is is a hormone problem? Because you clearly have some issues, if you look at what has been happening world wide over the last few weeks. And I really don't feel I have the right to whine about our cold temperatures, when other people are trying to recover from cyclones and tornadoes and flooding.

We finally have leaves, or at least buds, on most of our trees, and our grass is delightfully green. So what if we still have to throw on a sweatshirt in the morning, and I haven't felt I can put the gloves and mittens away yet. We are blessedly free from some of the blasts you have been sending elsewhere.

The average temperature right now is 71 degrees, we are lucky to hit 60. But I finally let the plants sit outside over night, Mike and I have been dragging them in and out since last Thursday. Now they will hust have to tough out whatever you throw our way.

So I am not going to ask for anything for ourselves here in Minnesota. Okay, just one request, can you make it stop snowing up north? But how about you take it easy for a while, and let people in tornado alley and across the world catch their breath.

Gratefully yours,

A Minnnesota Gardener

Monday, May 12, 2008

can we have more than one?

I love Mother's Day.

I wouldn't have said that 12, or 13, or 14, or 15, years ago, when we were trying so hard to have a baby, and I was just another woman. Mother's Day used to be a reminder of what a failure I was.

But many years later, it's all good. Proof that you should never give up on a dream. Or change the dream a little.


1. Charlie woke me up and gave me a big hug-normally, the whole waking me up thing would have made me a little cranky.

2. Mike brewed some freshly ground Pinon coffee from New Mexico. I love him.

3. Charlie made breakfast, Mike was his sous chef. Cheesy scrambled eggs, sausage, toast. They even set the table. It was REALLY good.

4. "What do you want to do today? You decide". DId I tell you that I really like my husband?

5. Farmer's Market, and all of those flowers.

6. Pastry and a latte at Nina's coffee shop, and a browse through Common Grounds bookstore.

7. A delightful drive to Wisconsin: Prescott, River Falls, Hudson. It just makes sense. And the adorable flower shop I found on Vine Street was a serendipitous find.

8. Planting gorgeous flowers in window boxes.

9. Eating a yummy steak dinner that my guys prepared, complete with strawberry shortcake for dessert.

10. Kissing my sweet boy good night, and thanking him for the most wonderful present. I will be using the back rub coupon soon.

Okay, I know I already have 10 things, but there are more. Can I just say that I love having a whole day where I don't think about doing the laundry, or cleaning the kitchen, or vacuuming, or sorting the recycling, or doing the bookkeeping? Or figuring out what to have for dinner, or if the homework is done? (Okay Amy, I did think about the homework...)

Can I lobby for a bill that we have Mother's Day twice a year? I am thinking that by October we would be more than ready. dang. The legislature has to adjourn in a week, and they still have to figure out that pesky budget situation. Maybe next year...

Sunday, May 11, 2008

dreams and cookies

My mother lived in a different era, a different time. You fell in love in high school, graduated, got married, and had a baby nine months later. You did all of the laundry, had a hot meal waiting when your husband got home from work, and stayed home to raise your children. There were warm chocolate chip cookies waiting when those children got off the bus, and you always made sure there was dessert after dinner, even if it was jello with a little cool whip on top.
Mostly, you shelved any dreams you may have had so that your husband and children could pursue theirs. I asked my mom a few years ago, what she would have done if there had been no children or husband, and she wistfully said, "I think I would have liked to have been a lawyer." You could have knocked me over, I have been so busy just viewing her as my mom, that I had no idea of what might have been.

I hope that I have lived my life so that I can pursue some of my dreams, at the same time helping Charlie and Mike pursue theirs. I think my mom is really happy with how her life turned out, and she wouldn't trade her family for suits, and judges, and crabby clients.

My mom has always had lots of wisdom to pass down, and I feel it is time to share some of these rules with you:

1. Never leave the house without lipstick on.

2. If you just comb your hair, you'll feel better.

3. Never take a library book on a trip.

4. Don't wear shorts in public (you have those Gulsvig knees, you know...)

5. You can't play until all of your work is done.

6. If you are getting full when eating a meal, AT LEAST eat the meat.

7. Cake is not pie.

Even though our lives turned out very differently, the thing that will always tie us together is that we are both moms. We have known the fear, the pain, and the absolute joy that comes from raising a child. So no matter what direction our lives went, we share that common bond. And she shared her chocolate chip cookie recipe with me. (along with so many other things.)

Happy Mother's Day to all my friends, here is hoping you have a day of rest, relaxation, and food you haven't cooked yourself!

And a very Happy Mother's Day to my dear mom, even though she doesn't have a computer and will never see this...

Friday, May 9, 2008

it was swell

Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent.- Victor Hugo

Wow, that pretty much sums up the concert on Wednesday night. I wrote about them before, the duo from the movie "Once". They are on tour as "The Swell Season". They have a band, and then they brought along some street performers they found in Dublin. It was at the Orpheum (which I had never been to, so cool) and it was just an amazing evening.

If you want to hear more about it, someone wrote this review:

But what that doesn't tell you, is what it felt like, inside, to be there. Just magical.

Other things: The plant sale was a rousing success! In the five years I have worked it, it has never been so organized or error free. Kari did just an amazing job of planning each detail, and now Horace Mann families will have pots full of color. I have a whole truckload of things to plant, but sadly they will have to wait until it warms up a bit. So it will be the daily back yard to garage shuffle, until they can thrive. And once it all gets done I will post some pics. Finally, we have color!

Thursday, May 8, 2008


Horace Mann holds a plant sale each spring, as a fundraiser for the school. I have worked it every year since Charlie was in kindergarten. Gerten's brings a truckl full of our orders to the school parking lot bright and early in the morning, we unload it, check it, sort it, and then fill all of the orders that the families have made.

It's a fun, busy morning, and you get to be surrounded by the sites and smells of plants in dirt. Could you ask for anything more? The weather has ranged from 40 degrees and pouring rain, to bright sunshine and 80 degrees. So you never know for sure if you will need hip waders or sun screen. It;s a whole day event, Charlie will join me when he gets out of school, and at 6 we will head home and hopefully Mike will be cooking dinner.

I am there, right now, as you are reading this, on Thursday, May 8th, as Blogger finally has figured out how to let me write a post, and then schedule when it shows up on my blog.
So in honor of Plant Sale Pick Up Day, here are a few random shots from my own little garden:
Ever-cheerful Johnny Jump Ups, remind me of my Grandpa Don. And the lilac bushes are finally leafing out:One of my very favorite spring plants is thriving, a white bleeding heart:
Here is a ..... dang. Total mental block. They are gorgeous when they bloom, look kind of like trumpets, I add a new species/color to my perennial garden every year. They get kind of tall, my favorite part is how the leaves cup drops of dew. See it on the leaves? When I remember what it's called, I will let you know:And lastly, a tiny little shot of color. This is a .... wow. My old brain is having a little trouble with plant names this morning. It's a little bulb you plant in the fall, sometimes these even peek up through the snow. One of the very first plants to bloom. I planted these over 10 years ago, each spring a few of them bravely show themselves.We have a new tenant this year. A robin has decided to build her nest in this wreath hanging on the side of the house, right in between the kitchen and dining room windows. We have a great spot to watch her work, and so far she hasn't been scared off by all of the traffic, and dogs regularly walking by. I hope she stays, and that it all works out, and that we get to see her raise her babies.I'll keep you posted on how this works out. Spring is really and truly finally here!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

postal delivery

Unless you have been hibernating for the last few weeks, you know it is Mother's Day on Sunday. Every retailer is hoping to entice everyone and their precious dollars. There are the usual sentimental jewelry ads, and encouragements to buy spa gift cards (a lovely gift, I might point out...). I love the promotions for "Gutter Guards, the perfect Mother's Day Gift!"

As with all events gift related, I am in charge of finding the perfect thing each year for my mother-in-law as well as my mom. I really enjoy it, Mike's mom always loves what we give her (and if she didn't, we would never know about it). I usually like to get my mom a gift card to somewhere fun, as we have very different tastes, and she will rarely "splurge" on something for herself. So this year it was to Christoper & Banks, as they actually have a location in Bemidji, and I know she will find something she will wear.

And having been in the beading mode lately, I decided to whip up a little something to go with the gift card. So I got out my supplies, poured another cup of coffee, and put on some nice music.

Beading is very zen-like for me, I love a chance to be creative. More than anything, I love the need to buy more stuff. And then organize it. And notice how good it looks all organized.

And here is the finished product, a little toggle dangle necklace with earrings.

I think she will like it. Since I won't be able to see her face when she opens it, I won't ever know for sure. But a girl can try. And the little pendant says "live". Just another gentle reminder for her to schedule that colonoscopy.

In order to make sure things get to Bemidji in time (I swear, sometimes they go through Florida first) everything needs to get in the mail today. There is nothing worse than making the phone call on Sunday and finding out the package didn't arrive in time. "Oh Kris, it really doesn't matter". But yes it does!

So I put Charlie in charge of making cards for his Grandma's. He is usually quite clever with words on his cards. Apparently he had a little writer's block going on:And apparently he thought saying "love" might be too mushy. Ahhhh, a 10 year old boy.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

is it cold in here, or is it just me?

Seriously, did hell freeze over on Tuesday?

Because, for the first time since I was 10 years old, I found a swimsuit that not only fit me ( a HUGE achievement, pun intended) but that I really like. Is that even possible?

If you are in need of a new suit this year, get your badonkadonk out to Land's End in Woodbury. They have a huge selection of their current catalog offerings, as well as last year's models on the back wall at a reduced price. I defy you NOT to find a suit you will love. They have figured out how to make swimwear for real people. And I am so glad I went out there, as I had planned to order one, and that one ended up not fitting very well at all. So make the trip. You will be SO HAPPY you did.

Now that Charlie is 10, and wants to live at the neighborhood pool all summer, a swimsuit is pretty essential to summer in the city.

Pretty much the only thing that comes close to swimsuit shopping is bra shopping. But that isn't nearly as stressful, as no one but you, or your hubby, sees the bra you choose....

So after all of that clothing stress, I treated myself to a stop at Trader Joes, where I loaded up on salty snacks and cheese and all of the other things that make me smile. New Product Alert! They now have a Grapefruit Citrus Salt Scrub, to compliment the Tangerine Sugar Scrub I already told you about. sigh.

Monday, May 5, 2008

sand, sweat, and smiles

Yesterday was Mike's first event of the season! He tried a Hare Scramble event last fall, and really enjoyed it, so decided to jump right in this year. A Hare Scramble is a combination of an Enduro (his normal event, which involves a course through the woods, and requires pacing, and checkpoints, and being half crazy to do it in the first place) and a Motocross, which is a defined course set up in a field, and only has one checkpoint to get your lap time, and requires you to be the fastest guy out there.

It was in Monticello, which is just an hour away, so Charlie and I went along to be cheerleaders. Since most of the rest of his events are out of town and require being gone all weekend.

It was a glorious spring day, achingly blue skies with marshmallow clouds. Here he is, all clean and ready to go.
Mike was a little nervous, he moved up to Senior B class this year, as he won C class last year, and felt he was ready. But much harder competition. He said he was just going to take it easy, and hold back. Here is a fine example of that, as he was first off the line from a shotgun start (meaning they are standing next to their cold bikes, have to jump on, start them, and head out).
Charlie was the videographer, while I was the photographer. Through the dust. And yes, we ARE that close to the action.
And here comes Mike, number 338, through the corner, and still ahead of the majority of the pack.
Once they do the course through the field, they head into the woods, and Mike was doing a lap in 30-40 minutes-so there was some down time until I looked for another spot to take pictures. It is a fun atmosphere-great people watching. The emergency guys are there, just in case. Luckily, they were bored all day. Not one single injury, which is really saying something, I think there were well over 400 riders. And you see ALL KINDS of riders-young guys, old guys, tattooed guys. There was a kids competition in the morning, one of Charlie's new riding friends is displaying his trophy to the other admiring kids. Charlie isn't quite ready for that yet.And there is a girl's competition too, which is wonderful. And women riders too, who just have to compete with the guys. They rock.Back to the action! Here comes Mike!
And he flies too!He has just finished his last lap, all four of them, and he did it in 2 hours and 36 minutes. Without stopping once. And he ran out of water after 3 laps. And he is SMILING.

And here is a direct quote "That is the most fun I have ever had on a motorcycle".And luckily he had his very own personal water boy.

So here is the guy who was going to "take it easy, and hold back". He finished FOURTH in his class of 17 guys. And is going to start doing commercials for Powerade.

I love the wonderful example he is giving Charlie-he works so hard every day, conditioning his body, eating right, and doing what he needs to so that he can do something he has an absolute passion for. I guess all of those cold January mornings, when he really didn't want to go to the gym, have paid off! I am so proud.

Friday, May 2, 2008

the ninety seven cent gift

Each year I rack my brain to come up with the perfect gift for Mike's birthday. This year we agreed not to purchase extravagant gifts, what with the new kitchen and all. So I got him a book, and Charlie got him a DVD (both are Alton Brown, Feasting On Asphalt). Which he was happy about. Or at least he pretended he was. But I think he was.

I wanted to add an element of childhood birthday parties to his 47th birthday, and while at Target picking up candles and napkins, I thought, I should just get a car to put on his cake. Or maybe a motorcycle. So I pawed through the Matchbox cars, seeing some likely candidates. On the last peg, at the very back of the row, I caught a gleam of red. Hey, I think I recognize that car! It was a red '68 Cougar. The car Mike drove in high school. The car he brought me home in on our first date. So I was proud of finding it, but little did I know the reaction it would get.

You would have thought I had actually bought him the real car. He was just tickled! And he took detailed pictures of it, from every angle. And told his dad. And emailed pictures to his brothers. Who knew spending .97 would bring him the very best gift of all?
And here he is, getting a little help blowing out his candles, from his lovely assistant Esther.

So it was a good day.

WARNING: the rest of this post will concern the weather. So if you are just too weary of it, stop reading right now, and go do something else. If you would like some handy tips on how to survive the next 48 hours, read on....

The forecast has the S word in it, for tonight and tomorrow morning. Gosh, I am pretty sure it's May, right? They tell me that 6 of the last 7 Fridays have been raining or snowing. So here's the plan.

1. Go through your fridge, and cupboards, and throw a bunch of stuff in a big pot, and make some nice soup. Or a hot batch of chili. Maybe some nice warm bread to go along with it. And a cobbler for dessert.

2. Snuggle in with a movie. Tonight's offerings include "The Incredibles", "Jurassic Park", or "The Firm". All popcorn-worthy, in their own way.

3. Grab that book you have been meaning to read, throw on your sweats and some nice warm socks, and immerse yourself in a different reality.

4. Try on your summer clothes! See what still works, and what needs to make a little trip to Goodwill. Fold those fun summer T's and put them in your drawers.

5. Shop for a new swimsuit. I just discovered Totally cute stuff.

6. Plan a summer picnic. Go through your cookbooks and find a new beverage recipe that you can put ice and an umbrella in.

7. Think about your garden. If you haven't already done so, plan some window boxes or pots of blooms. The garden centers are all open and stocked, so you can do lots of dreaming, just don't plant it yet. If you find something you absolutely have to have, just bring it home and keep it in the garage until it warms up.

8. Realize that we really are on the tail end of this..I checked the extended forecast, and there is nothing less than 60 degrees every day next week. So if we can just make it through the next 48 hours, we will be good!


Related Posts with Thumbnails