Saturday, March 24, 2012

gone skiin'

Don't know how much I will be chatting in the next week, we are heading to Whitefish!

Posted 03/22/2012 Powder Day - When Russ isn't slinging pies at Jersey Boys Pizza he is in search of fresh powder turns. Found some. Photo by Big Dave
(this photo is from their website, from 3/22)

They have been getting TONS of snow in the last week, Charlie and Mike can hardly wait to hit the mountain.  Especially since the winter season got cut short here, along with the ski season.

We haven't had a real family vacation since we had our Black Hills adventure a few summers ago, we are all so ready for some fun!

To make the trip even more interesting, we are taking the Empire Builder.  Train travel has always been on my 'want to do' list, and I promise to post about the journey.  Here is a glimpse of where we are staying:  ( I am SOOOO excited!)

Claude is being well cared for while we are gone, thank goodness for very good friends.  Tracy, you are the best!

I can't wait to share our journey, stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

recipe box Wednesday

Food magazines, do you subscribe to any?

For a time, I was getting 'Cooking Light', 'Bon Appetit', 'Gourmet 'and 'Cooks', every month.

It was too much, as I cannot toss a magazine (especially a FOOD magazine) until I have thoroughly devoured it and ripped out what I need to have forever.

Cooking Light April 2012 CoverI have BOXES of things I have ripped out over the years, some organized, some not.  I know, I need to toss them, since I have no clue what is even in there anymore.  And we do have this wonderful invention, called the INTERNET, that can bring pretty much any recipe I can imagine immediately to my fingertips.

But I don't feel like I have gotten my money's worth unless I have saved something from a magazine.

Is there a 12 step program for that?  I see a reality show in my future....perhaps a special segment on 'Hoarders' just for those people with magazine issues.  (get it???  I crack myself up...)

'Gourmet' went away, which made me sad but was okay, as there was one less magazine for me to deal with every month.  And I do have their ginormous cookbook, so I am probably set.  I did let all of my other cooking magazine subscriptions end, and patted myself on the back.
But I was weak one day, there was an UNBELIEVABLE deal on line for 'Cooking Light', I hadn't held one in my hands for a while, and I caved.  I now have a two year subscription.

Can I tell you how WONDERFUL the current issue is?  If you have been looking for some new things to make as our seasons change, go and get the April issue now.  Where to start?  The Creamy Spring Pasta?  The Hazelnut-Crusted Halibut with Roasted Asparagus?  Maybe the Tzatziki Chicken Salad?  Definitely the Limoncello Freeze.  And the best part is nearly all of these recipes come together in 20 minutes and are healthy.

See what I mean????  Happy cooking!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spring is Officially Here!

Oh, most definitely.

I have been in sandals now for over a week.

And I can guarantee you that never happened in March before!

I am sure everyone is aware of the crazy weather we have been experiencing, we have broken temperature records the last 8 of 10 days.  Rather than looking at dirty piles of crusty snow and longing for just a hint of warmth, as we are normally doing this time of year, we are seeing buds on our lilac bushes.

I am giddy.  Positively giddy.

My tulips have popped through the leaf mulch and may even by blooming by Easter!  Totally unprecedented in this part of the world.   ( I know, pictures would be nice.  I am getting to them...)

My yard furniture is out and cleaned off, and we have even had dinner OUTSIDE!  I have resisted removing all of the winter cover from my gardens, everyone has said we must wait.  Oh darn, must I really just sit in a chair and read a book and drink a glass of iced tea, rather than doing yard work???  Okay.

In Minnesota, we do need to temper our joy with realism, but it looks like our anemic winter is really and truly over.  Oh sure, we could still get a random snow storm in April, or even May, but nothing that will stick around.  Ice is off all of our area lakes, and our thoughts have turned to fishing poles and bicycles!

I would like to know what this weather has done for the collective mental health of everyone in our state.  Are psychiatrists seeing happier patients?  Are Xanax prescriptions down?  I for one am much happier than I generally am this time of year, which ususally wafts between crabby and shrewish in March.  I was looking through some of my blog posts from this time last year, and I was definitely suffering from March malaise.  Not this year!

Even though a side effect of all of this joy and delight is the early arrival of allergy season, an early purchase of Claritin is a small price to pay to see grass turning green outside my window.  Happy Vernal Equinox!

Friday, March 16, 2012

I am NOT a fashion star


But I watched the new show a few days ago.

I am not a big reality show person, I have never watched an episode of 'Dancing with the Stars', or 'American Idol'.  I have seen snippets, so I am aware, but I have not been interested in following them.  Mike is a big fan of 'Pawn Stars', and we all like "American Pickers'.  But I am more into drama, 'House', the new 'Awake', 'Bones', and almost any Masterpiece Classic.

But I got sucked in the other night, and spent two hours watching wannabe designers try to make their dreams come true.  What fun!  It's an interesting premise, and having been a buyer for Target oh so many years ago, I watched as the buyers from Macys, H & M, and Saks decided whether to make an offer for the designs.

When I was 18, trying to decide what to do with my life, I did think for a time I would like to enter the world of fashion design.  Lesser known fact, I was the winner of Seventeen Magazine's "Design a Prom Dress" contest in 1981.  They featured my design in the magazine, and even had a postage stamp sized photo of my young self.  I won $100 and a box full of sewing notions, it was so exciting.  In fact, when they called  to let me know I had won, I assumed someone was tricking me and I hung up on them.  Thank goodness they called me back!

I do have the magazine stashed away somewhere, if I can dig it up I will scan the piece to share with all of you.  The image above has nothing to do with my design, I just found it on the net and loved the elegance.

While I have continued to sew through the years, making most of Charlie's clothes when he was little, my sewing now is more about making new curtains and pillows each season, rather than fashion.  I do some hand sewing for my Etsy shop, but no clothes for me.

Although having watched 'Fashion Star' now, I am feeling like whipping up something for myself.  Inspired!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

recipe box Wednesday

Here in St. Paul, St. Patrick's Day is a really big deal.

(Image borrowed from the interwebs, isn't it beautiful???)

As Jesse Ventura so famously said in 1999, on the David Letterman show "Whoever designed the streets (in St. Paul) must have been drunk.  I think it was those Irish guys, you know what they like to do."

Ah, the Ventura governing days....

St. Paul is full of proud Irish families (even those who may have designed our streets), as evidenced by the annual St. Patrick's Day parade.  In my twenty years of living in St. Paul, we have never made it to the parade, we almost did, as you may recall:

Family history shows a little Irish running through my veins, and Mike is a full 50% Irish, as his mother is 100% Irish-making Charlie at least 25% Irish, right?  So we have to celebrate the big day.

Some years I have made Charlie green eggs and ham for breakfast, or colored his milk green, or cut his toast into shamrocks.  I am strange that way.

Last year I stumbled upon a wonderful Irish stew recipe, that will definitely be making an appearance again this year.  Even though it is supposed to be SEVENTY DEGREES on Saturday!  May in March!  Dangit, we will eat our Irish stew no matter the springlike weather.  Here is a link to the printable recipe:

Because one year I made corned beef and cabbage, and we all vowed we would never eat it again....

Will you make something special this Saturday?  Or just get a McDonald's Shamrock Shake and call it a day?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Como tour

We are blessed here in St. Paul to have a rare historic conservatory at Como Zoo.  It is well loved and maintained for the joy of all, and each year when winter has me in it's icy grip I take a day to stop and smell the flowers.

Here is some history about the Conservatory (and the above photo), from the Como website:

On Sunday, November 7, 1915, Como Park Conservatory opened and for the first time, Saint Paul’s annual exhibition of chrysanthemums was viewed all in one location. It wasn’t until 1925 that the now traditional Holiday Flower Show and Spring Flower Show began. On November 19, 1974, Como Park Conservatory was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Major renovation to the Conservatory began in 1987 and was completed in 1992. All the glass was replaced, the heat system was updated, hydronic heat was added in the Sunken Garden, structural elements were sand blasted and repainted, new electrical and lighting was added, and brand new growing ranges were built. In 2002, the Donald McNeely family provided a generous gift and the Conservatory was renamed the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory at Como Park as a memorial for a remarkable woman who made many contributions to arts and culture during her lifetime.

If you would like to read more, here is the link to the Como Park website:

With our meager winter this year, I have not felt the tug of the conservatory calling to me.   Driving back from Roseville last week, I took the longer but more interesting route home through the zoo.

As I passed the entrance to the conservatory, I realized I need to get there, and soon.

Until I do, and have some new photos to share with you, here are a few I took last year on my escape from winter.  And believe me, last winter it was medically necessary!

I love this shot of green, this is from the Palm Room.  Just the name of it makes me take a deep breath and relax a little.

Here in Minnesota, we won't see any actual green for a bit (well, other than this Saturday, on St. Patrick's Day!)  Soak up the color, and imagine the smells...

I found this video of the current flower show, so take a moment to enjoy:

Monday, March 12, 2012

got the fever

Oh my.  Our nearly non-existent winter has turned into spring already.  I took a walk and had to take off my jacket, walking in my shirtsleeves on March 11th!  I sat in my back yard yesterday wearing sandals and reading my book, watching the sun turn the last layers of icy snow into water.  I could hear it running into the storm sewers, and dripping off the rooftop.  What a wonderful sound!

Dreaming of flowers, I will share pictures of what I planted last spring, to soothe my fever...

The insulating plastic has been ripped from our ancient windows (always such a cathartic thing to do on that first warm day!) and I have had the windows open all weekend.  The birds have been celebrating too, singing the joys of the sunshine.  If I could sing I would join them!

I want to go to a garden center and buy colorful pansies, but I am quite sure they aren't available yet.  It is MARCH TWELFTH.  Seriously???

We had burgers on the grill last night for the first time, and dreamed of all those dinners we will have in our backyard.

But being a Minnesotan, I am realistic.  I am taking the flannel sheets off the beds today, as we are supposed to be in the seventies this week!  But I won't pack them away for good, and the snow boots will remain by the door for now.  I do recall an April Fool's Day snowstorm a few years ago, when we got 14" in one day....

Other than those practical thoughts, spring fever has definitely taken hold!

Thursday, March 8, 2012


Yesterday I spent two hours working a shift at Feed My Starving Children, down in Eagan.  The eighth grade students at Charlie's school are there once a month, putting together bags of food for starving children all over the world.  For the students, it is a privilege to be chosen to attend, and I was so glad to hear it was Charlie's turn to go.  They always need parent volunteers, and it worked in my schedule this month.

What an amazing organization.  Here is a little history, taken from their website:

Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) was founded as a Christian nonprofit in 1987 through the efforts of a Minnesota businessman who felt called by God to help feed the starving children of the world during a humanitarian visit to Honduras. He returned to the Twin Cities (Minnesota) to develop a method of large-scale relief.
In 1989, FMSC connected with food scientists from Cargill and General Mills to develop a nutritional product especially for FMSC to feed starving children. This food product included rice, soy, vegetables, a vegetarian-based chicken flavoring, and a vitamin and mineral mix. Food scientists continue to update the formula.
I was a bagger/weigher at one of the stations, working with three young ladies from Charlie's access class.  They were delightful, and hard workers, and made sure to include me in their conversations and asked questions about myself.  I don't spend any time with 14 year old girls, it was so refreshing to listen to them and see what mature young women they were.
The team of 53 people packed up enough product to provide over 14,000 meals, in just two hours.
They are always looking for groups or families to work a shift, it's a wonderful way to give two hours to help someone else.  And it is also a gentle reminder of how very fortunate we are, here in Minnesota, with our abundant resources and ability to help those who desperately need it.  Here is a link to more info:
Our dinner tonight will seem beyond bountiful, no matter if it is just leftovers.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

recipe box Wednesday

While I have no new recipes to share from my own kitchen, today I thought I would share some of my favorite recipe sites.

First off, if you like pictures with your recipes, you must check out Foodgawker.  A feast for the eyes!

I have shared Everyday Food with you before, it continues to be a reliable source of goodness. Martha rarely let's me down.

While I no longer get the magazine, I do go to Cooking Light when I have a craving for a certain dish.  I know it will be good, and good for me.

Heather sent me a link to this site, I haven't made anything yet but I am so tempted....

Along those lines, I have found that many food companies sponsor recipe sections on their websites, such as Tyson and Campbell's

The Pioneer Woman has a community recipe site, Tasty Kitchen,  in addition to the recipe section of her blog.  Heather has contributed recipes to this site, and one of hers was featured!

And then there is the world of Food Bloggers.  One of my new favorites is a hilarious writer, and she has really creative pictures of the food she creates.  Find her here:

This site has recipes on Tuesdays, she is not exclusively a food blogger.  Oh, I want to make these cookies!

Here is another one, she is all about food:

Heather shared this one with me, and Joy the Baker just published a gorgeous cookbook!

Lastly, here is another one that I follow:

This is just a teeny tiny sampling of the plethora of food fun to be found out there, happy surfing!

I can no longer say that I have no idea what to make for dinner....

(Pretty farmer's market pics taken last summer by my talented sis, love the bright colors!)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

TV Tuesday

As I was watching "Alcatraz" last night, I realized it's been ages since we talked TV !

Do you have some new favorites this season?  Not that it is really broken into seasons anymore, it seems.  "Parenthood" is done for the 'season'.  In February????  We will have to wait until next fall to find out what happens in the on-going family saga.  We have come a loooooong way from "The Waltons"....

Another favorite continues to be "Castle", but last night was a re-run.  I hate repeats.

I know it isn't cutting edge, and it's kinda cheesy at times, but I will do cheesy to watch Nathan Fillian.

The season finale of "House" was supposed to be last week, and when I eagerly turned the channel all I saw was cars, racing around an oval.  ugh.  And now last night they showed two episodes of "Alcatraz".  When will we get to see Dr. House berate his staff one last time this season?

House Tv Show

I do enjoy "Alcatraz", so it wasn't all bad.  Have you been watching it?

And of course there is the whole "Downton Abbey" phenomena.  I have adored it since it first started, and now that I have all my friends on board maybe I can have a "DA" party next season.  Shirley Mclaine is joining the fun for season three, can't wait to see her and Maggie Smith exchange barbs!

Charlie and I are both hooked on "Grimm"

and "The River".
The River Poster

We like scary things, and I love that there is something Charlie still wants to do with his old mom.  He even said he wanted to see "The Hunger Games" with me!  Probably after he sees it with his friends.  I wonder if I will need to wear sunglasses....Have you read the Hunger Games?  Charlie convinced me I needed to read it, and I LOVED it.  I just downloaded the second book in the series to read over spring break.

What are you watching on these long winter nights?

(all images taken from the interwebs)

Friday, March 2, 2012

two peas in a pod

Do you have a friend who you feel really gets you?  Who has the same likes and interests and passions?  Who you feel is your twin, even though you were born a country and years apart?

That is my dear friend Joanne.  We met in our son's classroom in fourth grade, and have been fast friends ever since.  She and her husband own their own business too, so we also have that in common!  Learn more, here:

We both love thrift shops, and yard sales, and finding things along the side of the road and turning them in to treasure.  We both make jewelry, and love to garden.  When we get together we have so much to share that there is never enough time.

Yesterday we had the chance to spend a whole day together, and I thought my brain would explode from creativity and my heart from love.

I introduced Joanne to my favorite little outing, Buffalo.  Yesterday was the start of their once a month opening of several occasional shops in town, and we hit them all.  And found two that I didn't know existed!

I have shared Buffalo with my sister and another very dear friend, Tracy (several times!  so fun!), but had not yet been able to experience it with Joanne, as she is always working in her coffee shop on the weekends.  We had been planning this day for ages, and I had done my regular job so that I could take a day off during the week.

First stop, Patina General!


Lora and Cheryl have created such an amazing little spot, and Joanne and I want to BE them some day.  We are going to have our occasional shop in a big old barn, where we also have our studios, and classrooms.  And we will hold annual dinners with live music and good food in our barn twinkling with lights.  We have big dreams.

We picked up an old silverware chest that I am going to turn into a display for jewelry for my shows, and some fabulous vintage Pyrex, old bed springs just waiting for some creativity, and adorable jelly jars with metal lids.  And fresh green ivy plants!

Off to The Porch and Atelier, where I found my favorite find of the day, an old oak shoe salesmen fitting stool!  I had never seen one anywhere, it is already in my living room just waiting for someone to put their feet up.  Joanne found lots of treasures there, and I also picked up several fresh green baby tears plants.  Now it feels like spring!

The PORCH & Atelier

Then next door to Behind the Picket Fence, a thrift shop where we scored some great vintage books, for a song.

Next?  Yesterday's Charm, where I found the little sister to a vintage suitcase I have and use to tote things to my shows.  It is nearly new and was a bargain!

But by then our stomach's were growling, and I have found the best way to find a good lunch spot is to ask the store keepers.  We were sent down the sidewalk to Loaf and Ladle, where we ate homemade soup and sandwiches crafted from homemade bread.  Oh my, they roast their own turkey and beef, and even make their own mayo and mustard.  I love when a small cafe pays such great attention to detail.

Off to some new places I had read about in Flea Market magazine-my Google directions sent me in the back way, but we eventually found it.  Secondhand Rose.

Joanne bought a vintage iron paper holder (we imagined it in a dry goods store, with brown paper that the storekeeper would use to tie up our purchases with twine....).  I can't wait to see what she does with it, as she is crazy creative!  Planter?  Bagel holder in her shop?  So many options!  I found an old wooden dye cabinet display, that still has the color names on each little spot.  I am going to fill small jars with buttons that go with the colors on the cubbies-so cool!

We stood and drooled over a metal printers cabinet, with tons of wonderful drawers.  Oh, we wanted it.  If only we had our barn to put it in....

Our last stop in Buffalo was This and That, right next to Secondhand Rose, where I found an honest to god old notions room, full of buttons, rick rack, patterns and such.  Died and gone to heaven.

If our day had ended here we would have been thrilled, but we had one more stop to make!

Junkmarket Under Glass is held every spring at Otten Bros. in Long Lake.  It's a junk/antique show held in their greenhouses before planting season begins.  And how lucky were we that it was the exact time we were out there????

Sherry from Shop Around the Corner is all ready to go. How cute is this?! One of the best things about this show is how warm and friendly the dealers are. Sherry pitched in to help her neighbors get ready after she was finished. Collaboration makes the world go round!

Oh, we had fun.  We didn't buy anything here, but this is where we found inspiration to last us for months!  More info on the Junkmarket, in case you want to check it out this weekend:

Today, I am ready to turn all of those positive, creative feelings into something wonderful.  Even if it's just dinner...Thanks Joanne, for such a wonderful day!  I am so lucky to have a twin.


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