Tag Archives: Traditions

Weekend Edition:

It has been a crazy week and weekend.  Megan is all moved in and we are enjoying our final few days with Amy here.  I will try to recap the past week without making this a novel.

I did my best making Megan’s favorite foods before she left, including our family favorite – cherry coffee cake.

On Tuesday, we took a drive down our road to check out the progress.  In addition to the new curbs and asphalt, we found this guy.

This was my view as I left for work Thursday morning.  I took it as a sign to take a deep breath and stay calm as I approached our big moving day on Friday.

Our journey to Iowa started out with a bang.  Literally.  Gary backed his loaded car right into the side of my car in the driveway.  All I can say is both Megan and I were thanking our lucky stars that we weren’t the one who did it.  Good thing we have connections.

We grabbed some breakfast…

…and hit some pretty dense fog just south of Burnsville.

Gary made really good time and we pulled in right at 10:00.  It’s crazy from the moment you park, so here is a collection of pictures of Megan’s dorm and roommate.  The building is full of character, but I didn’t really capture much of that.

We hauled everything in, set her up, ran to Chick Fil A for lunch, picked up a few things at Target, stopped into the student union to check on paperwork for her job, and tried to find the Human Resources office which was closing right as we walked in.  A woman stopped to help us and she turned out to be the head of campus security.  She is now my favorite person at the college.

We brought Megan back to her dorm and said our goodbye’s.  I wasn’t nearly as sad as I thought I would be.  I was more excited, like when I dropped Amanda off.  I’m sure it will hit me at some point, but right now, we are all stable 😉

We had just gotten on Interstate 35 when we were forced to exit because of a multi car accident.  There wasn’t a posted detour, and half of the cars were going each direction, so I followed my instinct and found a county road that took us a few miles north to where we could get back on the freeway.  We made good time coming home and pulled into the driveway right at 8:00 p.m.

We picked Scout up from the vet Saturday morning, I ran to get paint, and Gary and I spent most of the day painting the garage and side of the house.

Scout has to wear a cone so we are trying to keep him quiet.  Ha!

He can’t be off leash at all, so we are taking lots of walks.  Saturday night Amy and I met several of my friends to go watch the Perseid meteor shower.  This is an annual event where we drive out to some open land near Stillwater and throw some blankets on the ground and hope for the best.  This year it was fantastic!  We saw so many shooting stars, there were no bugs, and the moon rose big and orange.  I tried to capture it below.

I know, I’m expecting National Geographic to call me tomorrow to offer me a job.

Sunday was typical with grocery shopping, laundry, and food prep.  We have lots of goodies for the week!

So now I’m going to share the state of my home, just to keep things real.  Megan is gone, and Amy leaves Wednesday morning.  We have started painting the exterior of the house and updating the spa room and downstairs bedroom.  We are also planning updates to both girl’s bedrooms and their bathroom before we start demoing our bathroom.  This is how everything looks now.

Basement hall and bedroom…

… living room and family room…

… and Megan’s bedroom.  Just imagine Amy’s bedroom and the bathroom in a similar state.

Yikes!  So I don’t think we will be sitting around twiddling our thumbs.  Our plan is to work on the exterior painting on dry days, and start painting the new fitness room on wet days.  We will start cleaning out Amy’s room in the evenings after she leaves, then move on to Megan’s room.  Gary is also painting that dresser you see half taken apart in Megan’s room.  And I know, it’s an antique, but it’s one I purchased not one that was in the family so I’m taking a chance on it.

Megan is doing well, but seems tired.  It’s Rush Week so they are busy from early morning into the evening.  She has her top 5 or 6 sororities, and claims that if she isn’t offered an invitation to one of them, she will just skip it.  She and her roommate are getting along well, and she has made friends with two girls from California who are also in the Interior Design program and her Learning Community.

So now we start to figure out our new normal.  Hope you have a great week!

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!


Sunrise Saturday.


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.


A brisk morning walk.


Shopping in Nisswa.

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


We also enjoyed a little Oktoberfest action.


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…


and then carved pumpkins!


After dinner we enjoyed a bonfire.


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

Sunday sunrise.


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!”




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