Saturday, December 22, 2012


No time for baking yet this year, but I am hoping to go and make a mess in my kitchen tomorrow.

It's not Christmas Day yet, right?

I won't have orders to process or go to the post office, it being Sunday and all, so cookie baking is on the list!

I absolutely will be making my new favorite cookie ever.  My dear friend Tracy already delivered some to us yesterday, and since they are nearly gone I need to whip some up.  I like them for breakfast, I will have one after lunch, I need one to go with my afternoon coffee, and perhaps one after dinner, and FOR SURE before I go to bed.

Clearly, they are a favorite.  And now you want to make some too!

Click on the link for your very own copy of the recipe for Ricotta cookies from my Recipepages site:

And if you are interested, here is a link to the blog post I originally wrote about them:

May you be done with your shopping and wrapping soon, so you will have time to bake some of these sweet treats!

I do believe I will need to schedule a long walk to work off my indulgence....

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


December 18th is here.  One week from today, our little family, we three, will be sitting by the Christmas tree. Snuggled in warm pajamas, Charlie will be rubbing the sleep from his eyes, Mike will have a terrific yawn, and I will be clutching my coffee cup.

In years past, we would have been awoken, much too early, by the sound of Charlie's small feet climbing the stairs to our bedroom.  He would lean in, on my side of the bed, and whisper in my ear "Santa was here!"  Trying to rouse myself from a soon forgotten dream, I would smile and wrestle with my robe, and use my feet to search the floor for my slippers.

His small hand was in mine, tugging me gently down the stairs, as grown ups move far too slow on this morning.  Mike followed us, heading to our office to grab his camera.

Charlie would pad eagerly over to a large wrapped package, Santa would use the same wrapping paper each year. Tearing it open, he would exclaim "Santa got my letter!" His cheeks flushed with excitement, he would pull each item quickly from the stocking tucked safely in his lap, and exclaim over a toy car, a candy cane, a chocolate Santa.  The stocking now empty, he would head over to his newest Lego set, ready to build, so early in the morning.  Cheeks flushed, he would clear an area on the floor.  Kneeling on the floor he would bend over the book of instructions, giddy to start.  He would look up at us, a huge smile on his face, so happy to have a dream fulfilled.

That little slice of childhood magic is now past, but oh how we have preserved it lovingly in our memories.  This year we will be warm in our pajamas, by our tree on Christmas morning, and Charlie will be unwrapping gifts that will make a fifteen year old boy happy.  He will  have done his own shopping, and will wait in excited anticipation to watch as we unveil his choices for us, eager to please.  It is a new page in our book of Christmas joys to be savored, and never more so than this year, when too many families will have a gaping hole in their holiday hearts.

My grief over the events of last Friday is no longer as raw, and anger has crept in to replace the tears.  I will find a place to tuck that away, and on Christmas morning send out a silent prayer, to wing its way east to those families who will never have enough comfort to wipe the pain away.

If anything is to be learned, we have been reminded just how fragile life can be, and how important it is to let them know, those that we hold dear. how much we love them.  Every day, every night, as often as we can.  The quote on the top of my page for December rings especially true today.

Loving hugs to you, my dear readers.  Whether you are my sister, my cousin, my very dear friends, or friends who I have not yet met, you are loved. May this week leading up to Christmas find you with a quiet moment to contemplate, and give thanks for your blessings.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

time flies, part ?

I have lost track of the number of posts I have made about Charlie growing up, far too fast.

Especially at the holidays, I am reminded of how swiftly childhood passes.  Kissable chubby toddler cheeks turn to stubble before our eyes.  The Lego catalog used to arrive, and become worn from the shopping. Christmas day was filled with tiny pieces littering the living room floor, as hours were poured into making new things, with only a stop for a cookie.

December behavior was held in check by the little blue elf, seemingly with eyes everywhere, ready to report back to Santa.  And the December days were too long for my little boy, who anxiously awaited the next day to open on the countdown calendar.

December days now seem not that much different than a day in November.  Perhaps I suggest a hat or jacket more often, which is always ignored.  Teenagers definitely have different body temperatures than a full grown adult.  I remember dutifully packing the snow pants each day, for recess, stuffing them into his backpack alongside his lunchbox, and searching for his warm boots before the walk to the bus stop.  Now he doesn't even tie his shoes.

He dutifully helped me haul out the boxes of Christmas decorations, but did not wait to help me open them, or search in delight for his favorite train ornaments.  Winnie the Pooh and friends stay nestled in their tissue, he has no desire to have his own little tree in his room anymore.

I long for those December days of his childhood, the wonder in his eyes as he looked at the twinkling lights in the garland on the mantel.  His joy upon finding chocolates in his shoe on the morning of St. Nicholas day (it's tomorrow, by the way.)  I will still fill his now size 10 shoes, with the traditional treats, and hope that he fondly remembers what it felt like when he was 2, or 4, or 6.

He probably won't want to go along on our annual trip to Krueger's Tree Farm, to search for the perfect little tree for our small house.  Or sit in the cozy warming shed, with a cup of steaming cider to warm him.  He won't want to pose for a picture by the antique sled, or stop to smell the piney scent of the fresh cut trees.  But maybe he'll surprise me, and 'do it for mom'.

I wish I had known.  Fifteen years later, I wish someone had told me how very fast the time would go.  Oh, people tried.  Nearly everyone I knew, would tell me how quickly they grow up.  And I really did try, to capture the moments.  To rock him to sleep at night when I knew he should be going to bed on his own, to hold his hand a little longer as we walked down the sidewalk to the playground.  I should have splashed with him in the water more, played in the sand box with him a little longer on a warm spring day, made more cookies together.

If yours are still little, hold them close.  The chores will still be there, when they are wrapped up in their own teenage world you will have plenty of time on your own.  And you will so miss the moments.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Dreams Do Come True

I have been absent the last few months, first I was organizing a surprise fundraiser for a dear friend.  We held it the Sunday before Thanksgiving, a little pop-up boutique where we helped people start their Christmas shopping.  It was an incredible event and I have never felt so much love in one room as I did on that day.  My thanks and love to those of you who were able to make it and share the joy!

Secondly, Mike has been busy building his dream.  While our flight simulation business, ACES, has been around for 18 years (?!?) the simulator Mike had always dreamed of creating was not yet in our store.  He has been working on developing the idea for the past three years. We had to make a decision on whether to be done in the business, or take a huge giant leap of faith (both mentally and financially) and just go for it.

So that is what we did.

And over the weekend, we unveiled two of our brand new Surround View Simulators to the public.

This type of simulation is unavailable for public use, anywhere else in the WORLD.  Kind of makes my head spin just to think of that.  Mike has literally been working day and night the last few months to get these ready, and I couldn't be more proud of him.  The Pioneer Press (one of two major newspapers in the Twin Cities) did a story on us this past weekend, you can read the on-line version here:

The reporter also has a blog, and wrote a more detailed version of Mike's story here:

We have had articles written on the store through the years, and I always find it so interesting that no matter how much time a reporter spends with you, or the amount of information that you give them, that they always have a couple of errors in the story.  (We did not have a Grand Reopening at ACES over the weekend, if we had been planning one I surely would have had treats, and balloons!)  But we are always so GRATEFUL when someone talks about us, and helps spread the word about our business, no matter the errors.

And if you have a minute to really see what it is all about, Mike produced this short video here:

So once again our lives have been a bit upside down, and will remain so until mid-January, but that's okay.  It takes a lot of time and effort to make a dream come true.

(We are doing everything we can to spread the word about ACES this holiday season, what a fun gift to open!  Please share our news with anyone who you think may find this exciting, thank you so much!)

Monday, November 26, 2012

carry on

No time for blogging, big things happening with ACES, I will be in touch!  In the meantime, enjoy this lovely old picture and sentiment:

Friday, November 2, 2012

fall cooking

I just love the switch in cooking when we move from summer foods to autumn comfort.  While I adore a good pasta salad or grilled burger in the backyard in the summer, holding a steaming bowl of soup and enjoying a warm biscuit just make my heart happy. (Photo below is from last autumn, when Heather and I went to that amazing estate sale! )

The Food Network was on in my house last Saturday morning to watch Ree cook on "The Pioneer Woman", and Trisha Yearwood's cooking show came on after it.  I was dealing with emails and trying to figure out how best to spend my day and it was on in the background.  I heard "Chicken Tortilla Soup" and my ears perked up.  My guys love spicy foods and anything with lots of flavor, and I love something that makes plenty of leftovers.  And at this time of my life, I like food that doesn't have to be served at a certain time, as I never really know when (or if!) Mike will be home for dinner.

So I gave it a try on Tuesday night, and the guys gave it two thumbs up.  Woot woot!

Here is the link:

I tweeked it a little, I used 3 cups of half and half and 1 cup of skim milk, and next time I would probably throw in a can of green chilis too.  Charlie doused his liberally with Tabasco sauce (he puts Tabasco on pretty much everything...).  I served the tortilla chips on the side (if you buy 'scoops' they are fun to eat the soup with). And I must say it was just as good the second time around!  I am not usually one to use recipes with canned soups or seasoning mixes, but this one just worked, and will be added to our regular rotation.

Looking forward to some Jambalaya this weekend (if I can find the recipe....)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

rainy days

We haven't had a rainy day, a real rainy day, in so long I had to blog about it!

The lawns are all brown, except for those who have been faithfully watering.  I gave up on the yard weeks ago, and have barely been able to keep the perennials alive.  I water my mums when they look sad, but otherwise I feel like I should be on a fall schedule by now.

So sorry to be missing, I have had a rather full life lately and blogging is very far down on my priority list.  I have friends to care for, and a house and new high schooler to manage, along with an Etsy shop and a business and new simulators and all kinds of life things.

I am lucky to get my laundry done, let alone blogging.....

So while I am lagging in my blog productivity, please enjoy one of my very favorite blogs to read: I have been a very huge fan of her for YEARS, and when I only have time to read one or two blogs a week, I always make sure to read her.  She blogs several times a week, and she always makes me feel happy and content.

And those are things I am really striving for right now!  Sharing the love...

Sunday, October 7, 2012

time flies, birthday chronicles

Charlie turned fifteen today.  (He wasn't home long enough this weekend to have his picture taken-this is from June!)

Even though time seemed to move quite slowly in those first few baby months,

 it started to zip by during his grade school years,

and now it really flies as he keeps reminding me that he will be leaving us in just a few short years.  (He really doesn't know where he is going yet, but that's okay with me....)

So today, while spending the day creating his birthday cake, I got to thinking about how many things have changed in the last fifteen years.

There was no such thing as Facebook, I am sure I was able to find other ways to waste my time.

We didn't own cell phones-I remember bringing our phone card to the hospital so we could call family when Charlie was born!

Music was delivered to our ears on CD's.  I was very proud I remembered to bring my portable CD player to the hospital, I never took it out of my bag.

Claude kitty was only six years old, and was able to jump up and sit on our coffee maker to stay warm.  (It's true-I have pictures-somewhere...)

Mike hadn't rediscovered the joy of dirt bikes yet.

I didn't have an Etsy shop.  Etsy wasn't even an idea in someone's head yet!

We took photos with FILM.  I remember taking a whole roll of pictures of Charlie regularly when he was little, and walking down to Walgreens with him in the stroller to ge them developed.  If I was feeling really flush (or in a hurry to get photos in the mail to family and friends) I would go with the one hour photo option!

Stores still took checks.

We had a video camera, it was very large.  That reminds me, we really need to convert all of those VHS recordings of Charlie on to DVD's!

Speaking of large electronics, do you recall computer monitors and TV's from that time?

We had two simulators in our little store in St. Louis Park.

I didn't have bifocals, Mike had completely black hair when Charlie was born.  hmm....

As you can see, a lot can change in 15 years.  What else can you think of?

Happy Birthday sweet Charlie.  We sure do love you.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Welcome to the Island of Happy Days

That perfectly describes our little anniversary trip to Stout's Island Lodge, in Wisconsin.

We boarded the 'ferry' (a big pontoon boat) in the middle of the afternoon and motored across Red Cedar Lake to the boathouse.  Pulling up to the spot, you know you are being transported to a place far from your everyday routine.

We climbed the hill and walked across the lawn, stepping over the engraved plaque in the ground telling you that you have reached the Island of Happy Days.

Originally built in 1903

as a retreat for the wealthy Stout family and servants, they would pack up and spend the three months of summer on this beautiful island, as a retreat from bustling Chicago.  Besides the vast main lodge, which houses the dining room, sitting area, offices, banquet areas, and many private rooms, there are many cabins dotting the island, that were built for the man's children and then their own families as they grew older.

Walking the ancient floor, you can almost hear the footsteps of happy children bounding in from outdoor pursuits.  The vast lawn on the south side of the island is a croquet court, sitting in the adirondack chairs you can almost see women in white dresses and big hats knocking the balls through the wickets as the breeze from the lake blew their skirts about their legs.

The main island has a walking path around the perimeter, you can take a small bridge to the island next to it for a lovely walk down to the very tip.

 The only structure on that island is a small cabin, complete with fireplace and wicker chairs.

We spent our first night in a gorgeous, newer room in the Shore Lodge.  This was my favorite part of that room (oh how I want something like this in my own home someday....):

It was a large, expansive room with a huge comfy bed, fireplace, shelves full of books, wonderful sitting spots for cuddling in with one of those books,  a small area with a mini fridge and coffee maker, and lots of windows to take in the view of the lake.  Heaven.  We were lulled to sleep that evening with all of the windows open, and the sound of the lake gently lapping the shore.

But the next morning, we were awoken at 7 am by the sounds of construction in the room underneath us.  Many of you know that we have been dealing with the giant construction project in the field across from our house all summer, so that is NOT what we wanted to hear on our little get away.

We stopped at the office on our way to breakfast, and they apologized profusely.  Many of the rooms on the island are privately owned, so the staff does not always know when they will be doing construction- they kindly agreed to move us to another spot.  (This whole area pictured below is actually part of our rooms!)

Moving to the Main Lodge was a great idea,

and our room had all of the charm of bygone days with some modern conveniences.

We now had our own private deck,

a full kitchen,

and lots of little spots to quietly read or pass the time.  I only wish we had had a full week to really enjoy this space!

Since it rained the entire full day we were there, we did get to enjoy much of what our new space had to offer.

We had no internet connection, I had no phone service, and we didn't watch television.  In our busy lives, I personally think it is so important to disconnect every now and then.  We enjoyed the island so much, even in the rain!

On the night of our anniversary, we enjoyed a delicious gourmet meal and then headed back to our rooms.  I had brought photos from our entire 32 year relationship;  from first dates, to honeymoon photos, to Charlie as a baby.  I had started a scrapbook I had hoped to finish for our twentieth anniversary, then I thought maybe for our twenty fifth, but that didn't happen.  It's okay, we loved going through the pictures just as much.  Oh my handsome husband, he still makes my heart skip a beat!

The next day dawned bright and sunny, the grounds were vibrant and full of flowers.

Several varieties of hydrangeas could be found everywhere.

Here is the bell tower, I am guessing the original purpose was to call everyone in for meals when the Stout family lived here.

The architecture of the building was modeled after Adirondack lodges.

 Mike relaxing outside the boathouse, protected from the rain.

The second level of the boathouse had a pool table, comfy chairs, and jigsaw puzzles always in progress.  When the sun shines, there are water bikes, canoes, kayaks, and fishing poles.  There is always something to do if you aren't one to sit and relax!

You can read more about this fabulous place here:

The next morning dawned bright blue and sunny, with wispy white clouds stretching across the sky.

It was a little chilly, but perfect for a walk on the island connected to the main island by a little bridge.

The iron work was home to many spiderwebs, it was almost like a mini art show!

We found signs of visiting beaver,

and peeks of autumn color.

It was so quiet and peaceful, I felt all of life's stresses just melt away.

Here is the boathouse we could spy through the trees,

we knew shortly we would have to board the ferry to head back to reality.  But we took our time, and shared the camera, and took in all of the fresh air and quiet that we could hold.

It reminded me of times Mike and I took motorcycle rides to quiet places when we first dated, minus all of the nervousness of a new relationship!

While we were only able to get away for a two night stay, it was the perfect outing for this time in our lives.  And I can see why the family called it their "Island of Happy Days".  Get there if you can!

(This post was just my way of sharing a wonderful place, I was not reimbursed for telling you about Stout's Island Lodge.)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

silver bells

A quarter of a century ago, I took Mike's hand at the end of the aisle at St. Phillips church in Bemidji, and a few moments later we both said "I do."  I loved this picture, taken as we were leaving the church, holding hands. I think it absolutely exemplified the feeling of that entire magical day. (My grandmother was a little appalled, since this is the picture we sent to the paper.  Certainly not a typical wedding picture for that era!)

Mike took my hand as we got off of the airplane in Hawaii for our honeymoon, my first airplane ride.  He held my hand through the roller coaster years of infertility.  We held hands as we left the bank, having just signed the documents for the loan that would start our business.  He held my hand through hours of labor before our sweet Charlie was born. Through all of the ups and downs of life, he has always held my hand.

I can't begin to thank him for being my partner in life, hand in hand we head towards our next 25 years!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

eleven years

We will never forget.

Monday, September 10, 2012

wild about vines

While I didn't get to spend much time in my garden this summer, things seemed to grow without much attention from me other than watering. I did faithfully apply my favorite plant food; fish goo (as I like to call it) once a month.

But my vines, all of my lovely vines! I planted two types of morning glories on a trellis along with a black eyed susan vine and some malabar spinach. Only one of the morning glories grew proficiently, but all summer I had intense vines with no flowers.  It is only in the last week or so that I have had blooms (which makes sense since I haven't fed them since the beginning of July). I just recently learned that feeding vining plants will produce lots of vine and very little flower. Lesson learned!

I planted a lovely variety of black eyed susan vine on a trellis right across from my favorite spot to sit in the backyard (not far from some anemic tomatoes and listless basil...). It has finally been rewarding me with oodles of blossoms. Isn't it pretty???? My favorite plant this year, I need to make sure to plant it again next year.

And my scarlet runner bean vine is threatening to take over the entire garden. It has already devoured a window box, I don't have the heart to chop it back.

It is producing lots of beans, which I need to harvest before they get too big, but I have learned I can pick the big ones and dry them, once the pods rattle in the shells I can use them in soup this winter. Bonus Plant!

I have read that hummingbirds and bees love the blossoms. I am not sure if I have had hummingbird visitors or not, they were probably scared off by all of the construction across the street this summer.

Now to make notes on all of these things so I make smart purchasing and planting decisions next spring!

Did you have a favorite plant in  your garden this year?

Friday, September 7, 2012

anticipating autumn

This morning, half awake, I reached down to the end of the bed for the blanket.  It cooled off so much last night, that the soft bamboo sheet wasn't warm enough.

When I finally made it downstairs, I propped open the kitchen door to catch the crisp breeze.  I heard geese flying over the house, and looking outside I could see low gray tinged clouds over the top of the school across the street.

The first morning it has really felt like fall is here.  I bypassed my skirt and sandals for long pants and  tennis shoes, and it felt so good to throw another layer on over my t-shirt.

As I type this, the Cretin marching band is practicing in the field across the street, and I can hear leaves skittering down the sidewalk.  The lawns are brown, as we have had little rain in the last few weeks.  My garden mums are nearly ready to burst into bloom, and I am thinking I may need to start looking for some pumpkins and gourds for the window boxes (here are some of last year's finds).

I have never wanted autumn to arrive so much as I have this year.  It was a rather crummy summer around here, and I am so glad to say goodbye to it.  I eagerly anticipate fall cooking, wool sweaters, and cool afternoons enjoyed with hot cups of tea.

What do you most look forward to in the fall?


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