Tag Archives: Traditions

Weekend Edition: Ladies Weekend 2017

The hectic pace continues this week, but I have to get this post up before I forget everything we did!

We had another fabulous Ladies Weekend this year.  The destination was Taylors Falls/St Croix Falls, and the group consisted of Aunt Marion, Lynn, Barb, Mikkie, Missy, Amanda (for Friday evening), Amy and me.  Absent this year were, Nicole, Rachel, Patty, Annie, Chris, and Jaimee.

We met at the Holiday Inn Express in St Croix Falls, and then drove over to the Frost Top Drive-In in Taylors Falls for dinner.  It was a beautiful evening and we sat at a table in back overlooking the mini-golf course.  This has definitely been added to my summer to-do list.  But let me back up a minute to describe my evening prior to arriving at this little oasis.

I left work a little early because I hadn’t packed yet and we were planning to meet at 6:30.  I got home to discover that Gary was in the process of moving the washer and dryer from the basement to the garage.  He, Amy and Megan had managed to get the dryer out, but the washer was much heavier and needed an extra person.  He strapped it to the two-wheeler with bungee cords and away we went.  One terrifying step at a time.  There was dirt and cobwebs and water leaking out but the four of us managed to hoist it up those stairs without serious injury.  Note to self…make sure delivery is available before purchasing appliances.  After that I packed my bag and was ready to go but Amy wanted to share a new television series she has started watching.  We sat down and watched the trailer and a few key scenes, and then she and I headed out.  But first we had to stop in Lake Elmo for gas.  We were finally on the road and were only about 15 minutes late.  Fast forward to the lovely drive-in restaurant.

Mikkie and Missy joined us just as we got our food and we had a very nice picnic dinner of hamburgers, fries, onion rings, cheese curds, sweet potato fries, deep fried pickles, root beer, shakes and freezes.  Very yummy!

We needed to walk off some of that food so we drove over to look at the glacial potholes in the state park.  We took a quick walk under the bridge to look at the rapids and I played around with my slo-mo app.

We noticed a huge flock of birds circling above the hills.  Not sure what they were or what they were doing.

Then we walked around the potholes and down to the river.

Amanda headed back home and the rest of us went back to the hotel and called it a night.

The next morning dawned hot and windy.  Really hot and really windy.  Our first stop was the Luhrs/Bjornson Artworks.  I didn’t take any pictures, and they don’t have a website, but this is from an article published in the St Paul Pioneer Press in 2014:

Leif Bjornson and Meg Luhrs opened their art gallery Luhrs/Bjornson Artworks in an old granary their renovated in St. Croix Falls in the 1980s. Bjornson creates pottery while Luhrs paints.

It was such a great stop and we learned so much about the couple.  They were both in the shop and shared numerous stories about their work and the building.  We spent over an hour and I could have stayed several more.  I bought a small plate with an hydrangea-like pattern carved in the bottom.  You rub a raw clove of garlic over the sharp pattern to mince it and then pour oil over it for dipping bread.

Next up was the Chateau St Croix Winery and Vinyard.

We did a wine tasting accompanied by a cheese, meat and cracker plate.  They had several good wines and we all left with a bottle or two.  Then we hustled back through St Croix Falls and over to the Taylors Falls Scenic Boat Tours for our 1:00 boat ride.

Mikkie wasn’t sure she could do the boat ride because of ear issues, but she went for it and it wasn’t a problem for her at all.  We sat up top and enjoyed the beautiful scenery.  And the heat.  It was very, very hot.

More fun with the slo-mo app.

After the boat ride we split up again.  Amy and I went back home to get Gary for a couple of grad parties and the rest went back to the hotel to rest and cool down.  They later had dinner at the Dalles House supper club, and there were excellent reviews about the popovers, meals, and desserts.

We met back at the hotel around 7:30 or so, and hung out in our room visiting for a couple of hours.  Everyone headed back to their own room so Amy and I went down to the fitness room where she worked out for awhile, and then grabbed a bag of microwave popcorn and watched Say Yes To The Dress.  It was a long but very fun day!

We met for breakfast the next morning and saw that some heavy storms were rolling into the cities.  We packed up and headed out knowing we were going to drive right through them.  It was not a very fun time.

My biggest concern was the leading straight line winds, and they socked us good.  I finally had to pull over for a few minutes next to a stand of trees for a little protection.  We continued on for a few minutes and then joined a whole line of cars that were pulled over.  There was a tiny bit of hail at this point, but I needed to catch my breath so we waited a little bit until the group moved out together and then noticed the piles of hail on the side of the road.  I’m guessing that was why they were all pulled over and we had just missed it by those few minutes we had stopped earlier.  I’m calling it divine intervention.  The rest of the ride was uneventful.

The rest of the day was a bit of a blur.  Laundry was done in our brand new machines, we went grocery shopping and then prepped all of the fruit and veggies for snacks for the week.  We napped for about 90 minutes.  We gave Scout a bath, unpacked, and did other random Sunday stuff while it rained off and on.

This is always one of my favorite weekends of the year.  So much laughing and catching up and getting to know a little bit more about each other and our history.  I’m already looking forward to next year!  Except it’s my year to plan so the pressure is on.  I’m thinking I may just throw a dart to pick the location 😉

Favorite Christmas Movies and Music

Hallmark is really knocking it out of the park this year!  Two channels, close to 20 new movies, and more notable actors.  This is what we do at night now because if we sit still, Scout may sit still and even snooze for a bit.  We just don’t actually see an entire movie, so I guess these will all still be new for me next year too.

Besides the Hallmark fluff, my favorite holiday movies include White Christmas, Christmas Vacation, and the Holiday.  I saw Love Actually last year and need to see it again before I can declare it a favorite, but I really liked it.  And I have only seen Elf once too, so not a favorite yet, but I would like to see it again.

Maybe next year I can curl up with a calmer Scout (or Gary), a glass of wine, a fire, and put in some serious Christmas movie time.  There has been no wine this year (I just can’t relax long enough to enjoy a glass), and no fires yet (scheduling a chimney cleaning soon).

Here’s a link to some of my favorite holiday music.

And if you haven’t seen this yet, you really should.  It’s not a traditional Christmas song but it’s on their new Christmas album.  I really wish I would have seen them when they were in St. Paul last month.

And because I made such a big deal about it, here is the promotional video for Christmas in Christ Chapel.  You can’t hear the actual songs, but you get an idea of the theme.  I’m keeping my eye out for a replay of the live stream.  And yes, those are the candles from The First Nowell.

Please let me know if there are others I should add!

Merry Christmas!

Weekend Edition: Ladies Weekend 2016

What a fabulous weekend!  This post is going to be loaded with pictures, so I’m going to limit my commentary.

This year Aunt Marion, Chris and Jaimee planned our trip, and we stayed at Cragun’s Resort on Gull Lake.  We all gathered on Friday night, and settled into our “cabin”, the family reunion cabin that sleeps 22 people.  There were six of us.  It was awesome!

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Sunrise Saturday.

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Not only did we each have our own bedroom, we also had our own bathroom, so getting ready was a breeze – no lines for the shower!  This was my room.

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A brisk morning walk.

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Shopping in Nisswa.

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This was in a boutique and people had dropped coins into the floor through the grate.

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We also enjoyed a little Oktoberfest action.

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Unfortunately, it was REALLY LOUD so we headed back to the cabin for some peace and quiet.  We started separating recipes for the family cookbook…

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and then carved pumpkins!

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After dinner we enjoyed a bonfire.

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It was a beautiful fall day, the colors were at their peak, and we made the most of every minute.

Sunday sunrise.

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A little fog, a little frost, and a few ducks.

We took our time getting ourselves in gear, packed up our cars, and then enjoyed a breakfast buffet at the lodge.  I began my journey back home while the others did a little shopping in Brainerd.

We really missed the rest of the “Ladies”, but had such a nice relaxing weekend.  We have a great start on the cookbook and hope to have it done before Christmas.  And we are now all clear about who is at the top of Aunt Marion’s list – that would be me ;).  We are so fortunate to have this time together!20161008_110809

"You do the Hokey Pokey and you turn yourself around!"
“You do the Hokey Pokey and you turn yourself around!”

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2016 Snowshoe Weekend

Our annual snowshoe weekend is in the books!  As I mentioned in my last Friday post, we each had chicken names for the weekend.  You will notice a theme throughout this recap.

Lefty (Annie) sent us an email on Thursday letting us know that she was not going to be able to make the trip due to some health issues.  We were all so sad, but agreed that resting at home was a better option for her.  So we were just four this year.

After a quick dinner Friday night, I whipped up this strawberry bunt cake…20160219_183448

And yes, the wine was instrumental in giving me the energy to do this before I fell asleep on the couch.

Then it was packing time…20160219_192534 20160219_193830

Up and out the door at 8:30 Saturday morning, a quick stop for gas, picked up the flock and hit the road at 9…20160220_085619

First stop, Cub for lunch fixin’s (Angel [Pat] also found some wind-up chickens). Second stop, Tobie’s for sandwich buns and one caramel roll to share…20160220_104657

We stopped at Brighton Beach just north of Duluth to check out the ice stacks…20160220_12160020160220_12091720160220_121038

Our lunch stop this year was The Vanilla Bean in Two Harbors…20160220_135426

We sent a short video to Annie to say hi and do a quick chicken dance.  She posted it on Facebook.  Oops.  Good thing nobody ever looks at Facebook.  Right.

It was a quick 20 minute drive to our VRBO house in Beaver Bay. The owner texted us on our drive up letting us know we should park on the road because the steep driveway was all ice. Good call.20160220_142051

We checked out our surroundings, the house and then got settled in. Thus began Scramblepant’s (Laura’s) mission to get the fireplace working.  It never happened, but she gave a valiant effort!20160220_144938 20160220_145024 20160220_145103 20160220_145149

The rain stopped, the sun came out, and we had more fun on the rocky beach.  We also got a coating of sand on the driveway so we were able to park by the house.20160220_164805 20160220_165456

After a delicious dinner of chicken chili we drove to Gooseberry Falls State Park for candlelight snowshoeing.  Lots of luminaries, plenty of snow, temperature around 35 degrees, and corn popping at the bonfire.20160220_191550 20160220_192903 20160220_192927 20160220_194631

We called it a night before 10:00.

We woke to much colder temps, stronger winds and snow.  We enjoyed a leisurely morning of coffee,  breakfast, and laughter before getting dressed and driving to Tettegouche State Park for a 4 mile snowshoe in moderate temperatures and gently falling snow.20160221_124830 20160221_124846 20160221_124901 20160221_124912 20160221_130215

We went back to the visitors center for lunch and ended up chatting in front of the fire for the afternoon. Then we took a quick hike through the cart-in campground to scope out the best sites. Not for me, the tenting train has left this station but Kathy camps every year in the fall. The waves were fierce and put on quite a show.20160221_113741 20160221_150046 20160221_150102 20160221_150119 20160221_150544

We came back home to a pork loin in the crock pot. We created a couple of Banana Cream Rum drinks and after dinner, sat around the table and solved most of the world’s problems. Then we noticed that the sky had cleared and the full moon was up so we bundled up and headed down to the beach.  And did the chicken dance.  We ended the night with a few rounds of Kings in the Corner, and turned in around ten again.

I woke up at 5:30 Monday morning and could see clear sky so I laid in bed until 6 and then went down to the beach for a beautiful sunrise.  Somehow, over the years, I have become a great big scaredy-cat.  I have these great ideas about walking in the moon light, or sitting on the beach watching the sun rise, but then when I actually go to do it, I am afraid.  I was so nervous walking down to the beach because I was afraid of critters and serial killers – equally afraid, by the way.  But I made myself do it and I was rewarded with the most beautiful sunrise (you may have to use your imagination here, my camera really stinks at dark pictures).20160222_060603

So then I faced the dilemma of whether to wake Agnes (Kathy) or not.  You see, we have a pact that if either of us ever see the Northern Lights, no matter what time of the night, we will call the other to let them know.  She is usually the first one up in the morning to see the sunrise, so I thought maybe she really just needed to sleep in.  I actually walked half way back to the house and then changed my mind and went back to the shore.  But as the sky lightened and I saw how beautiful it was going to be, I did go back and wake her.  She was very happy I did.20160222_063114 20160222_070212

We finally got cold and went inside for breakfast and to pack up for the ride home.  I must have really been tired because I did not take one more picture.  We drove out to Park Point in Duluth, but it was icy and there wasn’t much to look at.  We met Annie for lunch in Woodbury and had a fun visit.  And exchanged chicken toys.  I was home by 4:15.

We figured out that this was our seventh annual trip, and each one has been just a little bit different.  I really cherish these women and the time I get to spend with them.  This one will go down in the books as the Year of the Chicken.  Good times and great memories!20160222_083834

Weekend Edition: Christmas in a List

Well, we made it!  I wanted to make sure I documented all of our activities last week, but I knew it was going to all happen in a flurry so I just started a list, checked it twice, and let it fly.  Hope you had a wonderful Christmas!

  1. Monday – Appointment Day With Amy.  We renewed her driver’s license, had lunch with Gary, and went to the eye doctor.  As she expected, her prescription changed quite a bit so new contacts have been ordered and she left with a fresh pair that make the world a brighter, clearer place.
  2. Tuesday – Surprise Visitors. Amanda had called me to ask if I wanted to have lunch with she and Amy and of course I did, so we planned to meet at 11:30.  When I went down to the lobby to meet them, there stood all four of my beautiful children.  They fibbed to me about the date Zach was coming home so they could surprise me, and they had Gary excuse Megan from school.  It was the best lunch ever!2015-12-22 13.24.19
  3. Tuesday Evening – Progressive Dinner in St. Paul.  We bought Amy tickets to the Wild game for Christmas, so since she and Gary were going to be gone and Megan had to work, Kathy and I had planned to do our own version of a progressive dinner downtown to check out some of the new restaurants.  Zach and Amanda decided to join us, so we started out at Dark Horse Bar and Eatery where we had the Baozi (Chinese steamed dumplings) and Micro Shanks.  Oh my word, they were good!  We sampled several new beverages there too. 20151222_193622Then we went to PUBLIC Kitchen and Bar for desert.  I can’t believe I didn’t get a picture, but we had the Skipping Church (banana blondie, whiskey ice cream, salted caramel sauce, bruleed bananas, and brown sugar bacon) and flourless chocolate torte.  It was such a fun night!
  4. Wednesday – Last Day of Work and Sister Lunch.  I spent four hours at work on Wednesday, mostly cleaning up my desk and going through old emails.  I ran home to change clothes and pick up Zach, and then we made a quick stop at REI to pick up a gift I had ordered.  We were supposed to meet Barb there to exchange gifts, but she had called earlier to say Lynn was going to join us and we decided to meet for lunch.  Zach was my surprise guest, and we had such a great visit.  It’s always a special time when we can get together.
  5. Thursday – Christmas Eve.  I ran to Target in the morning to get what I needed for my Swedish meatball gravy, and then took Gary shopping for a new shirt.  I finished wrapping our last few gifts, made grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup, and watched White Christmas.  And then.  We went.  To see.  STAR WARS!!  I had really high expectations, and it totally delivered.  Megan had been in a funk for a few days and decided she was not going with us, which was fine because Amanda had come over after work and she didn’t want to go either so the two of them hung out together at home.  When we got home Ryan was there and we had dinner.  It was so nice to sit around the table together and it made me realize how all of the pieces fit together.  How each of the kids balances the others out.  It was so comfortable and cozy and exactly what I was hoping for.  Zach brought me a bottle of mead and it was fantastic! 20151224_191700After dinner we started a fire and opened presents.  Then we played a new game Amy and I found.  It was boys against girls, and with Amanda’s state of exhaustion and Megan’s anti-family attitude, the girls lost.  But it was close and we had a lot of laughs.  Ryan went home, Amanda went to sleep on the couch, and Zach and I made cherry coffee cake.  He quickly realized that making cherry coffee cake is not for the weak.  More laughing.  And Niika may have been allowed to lay in the family room with us, just for a little while 😉20151224_20152420151224_210721
  6. Friday – Christmas Day.  Gary and I got up early to fill stockings, and I got the Swedish meatballs in the Crock Pot.  And then we laid around watching tv for a couple of hours until it was time to start getting ready for John’s.  I wasn’t feeling so well, and hoped it was just all of the activities of the week catching up with me.  But it got progressively worse throughout the day and I got home just in the nick of time for what was going to be several hours of my body trying to rid itself of a nasty invader.IMG_1576 IMG_1578 IMG_1598 IMG_1641 IMG_1640 IMG_1618 IMG_1612 IMG_1607
  7. Saturday – Ice Skating.  My stomach finally settled around 1:00 but I spent the entire day in bed.  If there was any day in the entire month of December that I would have planned to be sick it was Saturday.  Megan worked all day, Zach had plans with Amanda, and Gary and Amy had plans for the afternoon.  It was the perfect day for me to just lay in bed and recover.  A couple of weeks ago, Zach had texted Gary asking if we could go skating while he was home.  Saturday night was the only night that worked for us, and it turned out to be a beautiful evening.  I actually felt well enough to join in, and even though we got a late start, we had a blast!20151226_204526 20151226_205324 20151226_205327
  8. Sunday – Afterglow.  Sunday was back to the normal routine.  Church in the morning, laundry, picking up, and about nine hours of HGTV in front of a fire.  Apparently I wasn’t quite over my bug so I just took it easy.  The sun came out for the first time in days, but looking back, I didn’t really even notice it had been cloudy.  This Christmas was more than I could have hoped for; I have been truly blessed.

I never take these good times for granted because I know life can change in an instant.  Kathy shared a prayer on Facebook last week that I would like to pass along, and I especially think of all those suffering from the severe storms in the South:

Dear Lord, several friends I know (and probably many others I don’t know about) are struggling this Christmas, finding it hard to nearly impossible to experience the incredible joy of this season…there is a loved one missing this year, and it is oh so hard to celebrate with a broken heart – there is someone they love who is sick, and the doctors say this will be their last Christmas together – they are battling a physical illness, and as hard as they try to not let it, they find that physical ailment is affecting their spirit – their soul is weighed down with worries and concerns of this world, and they are having a hard time finding their Christmas joy this year…

“God grant you the light in Christmas, which is faith; the warmth of Christmas which is love…the all of Christmas, which is Christ.” (-Wilda English)

Lord, I pray right now for these friends – help them to feel You walking beside them or carrying them through this Christmas.  Please help them to see the light of Christmas, feel the warmth of Christmas, experience the all of Christmas and feel You near, which after all, is what Christmas is all about. -Amen