Monday, July 30, 2007

Slideshow instructions

In the post below,you should find a box with a pic of flowers that has a forward pointing arrow in the middle. Double-Click on the arrow and a slideshow of pics I took this weekend at the Farmers Market should play--complete with music. Enjoy!

Farmers Market slideshow

Saturday, July 28, 2007

My new 'Hood

Our building

the lobby area

Squeakers, our cat

the living room

living room, view 2

Last night Joel and I decided to forgo Friday's Date Night Out in favor of staying home and tackling the job of reorganizing the living room. This involved moving the computer to the second bedroom, along with a bunch of other stuff. We moved the couches around and the table that was behind the couch (that had turned into the temporary computer table) was moved to a spot in front of the windows.

We got a lot accomplished. The new arrangement makes the space feel much more open. It also plays up better the incredible features of this apartment, including the high ceilings, exposed timbers and ceilings, large windows... It really is an amazing space. I fell in love with it long before I moved in this spring.

This past fall, before Joel and I had decided where we would be living, we had one of those sideways conversations about the matter--you know, one of those conversations where without directly saying so, you're trying to sort out how the other feels. Finally, I just asked Joel--if you had to decide where we would be living right now, where would you choose, Mpls or St. Paul? Surprisingly, Joel answered, "Mpls". That was pretty funny, because I, the Mpls dweller, was leaning towards St. Paul.

Joel grew up in Mpls (not far from where I was living when we were dating...his parents still live there) and I had lived most of my adult life in south Mpls. Don't get me wrong, I still love south Mpls. It will always be home to some of my favorite places--the Institute of Arts, Lake Harriet, including the bandshell and rose garden, the river (yes, I know St. Paul shares the river), the Sculpture garden, Uptown, Downtown, Minnehaha Falls and on and on. Both my kids seem pretty set on staying in Mpls. I think my daughter thought me moving to St. Paul bordered on an act of treason.

But moving to St. Paul seemed to make sense. First off, an important factor in our decision making was the need to be in a place that was handicapped accessible (for Joel's daughter, Bree). Joel's place obviously offered that. My place in Mpls did not. The idea of both of us moving our stuff to a new place seemed overwhelming. Besides, I loved this apartment and the Lowertown area. I love living in the heart of an urban area, surrounded by tall, historic buildings (including the one we're living in). And there is still enough of nature around us, including Mears and Rice park with plenty of flowers, the riverfront just a few blocks away, and every weekend the Farmer's Market right outside our door.

I'm enjoying taking pics of my "new hood" with the new camera. I'll be posting some of those pics soon.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Recipe of the Day

Sugar Cookies

2 cups white sugar
1 cup margarine or butter (pick your poison)
1 cup vegetable oil
3 egg yolks (nope, not the healthy part of the egg)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
4 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda

Cream sugar, butter, oil and egg yolks until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and dry ingredients. Roll in balls and place on cookie sheets. Press with a fork or meat hammer. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 35o degrees for 10-12 minutes.

I have a rather haphazard filing system of my favorite recipes. It's comprised of handwritten recipes on various note cards or paper, tucked into various cookbooks. When I was in high school, I typed (yes, with my "new" electric typewriter) a bunch of favorite family recipes onto recipe cards--for my mom's Christmas present. I still have some of those cards. A few years back I started compiling recipes into books for my kids; a project still in progress (maybe they'll be done this Christmas).

I think the recipes & favorite dishes that a family shares has a lot to do with family culture, tradition, and memories. My kids ask for the same things for the holidays, birthdays...and I happily oblige. It's those holiday traditions I provided them that I hope provide more lasting memories than the doll or legos they received. I hope someday they might do the same with their kids, but I'm not so sure either one of them will do much baking. Who knows, that might change some day.

But I thought I would throw a recipe on here from time to time. These are cookies I started making some 30 years ago. I found the recipe in some church cookbook. I was trying to duplicate favorite sugar cookies that I always picked as a girl at a local bakery.

I think these come pretty close to those bakery cookies. You can't really go wrong with these--there's such a high fat content, they simply melt in your mouth (right onto your hips). Like I said, I've been making them for some 30 years and they have certainly become a part of our family history.

I recently made them for our family reunion and also took some in to coworkers.

A visit to the zoo

The giraffes at Como Zoo

My brother, his wife and their girls

The girls on the giraffes (not the real ones)

My brother and his girls

Before my baby brother (o.k. last time I call him "baby") left town last Friday night, we met up for a picnic and quick trip through Como Zoo. It was a beautiful night (not hot and humid like our current weather). My brother and his wife dared to wear Cleveland Indian shirts to the picnic, but I made sure they left with a Twins hat to wear to the Twins-Indians game they're going to this coming Friday.

It was nice to see them before they were off. We're hoping for a repeat visit next summer.

Sunday, July 22, 2007


My aunt, Honey

Saturday my mother and I went to visit my aunt (her sister), affectionately known as "Honey" by everyone in the family. Even my mother calls her Honey. Her given birth name is Florence, but I've only known her as Honey. I'm not completely sure how (or when) that name got started, but it has always seemed to fit her better than Florence.

Honey is 83 years old--84 in September. Right now I hope she makes that birthday. A few weeks ago my mom called and said that Honey wasn't doing well, so on Ana's birthday we went to visit Honey. I was saddened to see how frail she had become. For the first time, Honey looked old and it was impossible not to realize that Honey won't be here forever. (I wish I could include a picture of Honey from earlier years. This one is from my recent visit).

I remember visiting Honey as a little girl. My immediate family lived about 200 miles from the rest of the family. At least twice a year we would travel to visit all the relatives. We always spent some time at Honey and Jim's (my uncle's birth name was Oliver, but we always called him Jim...I don't really know that whole story either). Time at their farm included tending their sheep, riding their shetland ponies, and time around the kitchen table. Each visit included visiting at the table...the adults drinking coffee, the kids milk or "nectar" (basically kood-aid) and then some sort of sweet treat, which often was baked by Honey. My uncle Jim had an incredible sweet tooth. I remember him spooning sugar on watermelon!

Honey is now in the hospital. Her body is getting tired and her organs are struggling to do their work. I was glad I got to see her again. It was hard saying good-bye and wondering if I will be able to make another trip while there is still time to visit with her. Please keep her in your prayers.

As hard as the visits have been for me, I realize they are so much harder for my mom. She is facing losing her last remaining sibling. My mom is the youngest of four (Honey is the oldest; their 2 brothers have died in the past 10 years). I can't imagine what it would be like to lose the last person that grew up beside you and shared your childhood. I just can't fathom that sort of loss.

I realize that I truly am becoming part of the "older generation". My children are grown. My nephews and nieces are now the ones raising the babies. That's o.k., but the hard part is losing my older generation, my history. The hard part is saying good-bye.

Monday, July 16, 2007

More family photos

I'll admit I was on a bit of a mission to get family photos at this get-together. Part of it was the joy of having a new toy (the camera) to play with. Digital cameras offer immediate gratification. But a bigger part of it was wanting to seize the opportunity with so many family members together to record and preserve memories of the day.

I wanted to record the pictures for my mother. I had a small memory card with my new camera and I recorded the pics on this memory card. Now that I have the pics saved, I can give the memory card to my mom--and she can enjoy the pics in her digital frame. And someday, I hope these photos are ones that my mom's great-grandchildren will enjoy and be able to show their children.

Time passes so quickly. Children grow up and become parents themselves. More than once on Sunday, I enjoyed seeing one of my nephews or nieces in the role as parent...and I thought back to when they were the child...

When did I become part of the older generation?

Family Get-together

My second brother Denny and his family
My oldest brother Phil and his family
My baby brother Brian and his family
My family
My younger sister Nan and her family
There was a little bit of a family get-together at my sister's this weekend. As you can see that means more than a few people. My baby brother (I can't resist saying "baby brother") is here in Minnesota for the first time in 3 years. Only one of my siblings was unable to make it. An amazing number of my nephews and nieces were there--many with their own children in tow.

I have 5 siblings--ranging in age from 57 (almost) to 38! I have 13 nephews and nieces and 18 great nephews and nieces. The family continues to expand with another great-niece arriving at the end of the summer.

I took advantage of the opportunity (and the new camera) to take pics of my sibs with their children and in some cases, grandchildren. I wanted to post these pics to share...with more fun pics coming soon.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Welcoming my daughter to this world...some 23 years ago

As I promised, more meaningful stuff:

Tuesday my daughter, Ana, turned 23. I don't think it will matter how many years go by: I will always remember with vivid clarity what it was like welcoming my first child to this world. I am a "goosebumps" kind of girl, so when I recall these type of life events, I often get a case of goosebumps. Goosebumps are often accompanied by teary eyes.

My first pregnancy was considered "high risk"...not only was Ana in the breech position, they thought part of her brain might be outside of her skull. Ultrasound technology was relatively new at that time and they weren't always sure what they were seeing. It definitely lacked "high definition". Throughout my pregnancy, I saw one specialist after another--all who were afraid to give me any straight answers. The joy and anticipation of my first pregnancy was also fraught with fear. When I was 8 months pregnant another specialist walked in after yet another ultrasound and greeted me with the words: "When I read your chart, I thought this was a hopeless case." He went on to say he didn't think it was going to be so hopeless, but he couldn't make any promises.

They also could never figure out what my due date should be. It started out as June 23rd and kept getting pushed back further and further. I felt the birth would be somewhere around the second week of July (a mother always knows best). On July 9th, when I had my weekly appt the doctor said my baby might not come till August. I nearly kicked her from the exam table.

Sure enough, the night of July 9th I did go into labor. Because Ana was in a difficult breech position and they were unsure of her health, a c-section was planned. They were "allowing" me to go into labor on my own. Those few hours of labor were a glorious experience. On the morning of July 10th, we headed to the hospital--during a torrential rainstorm (side note: Ana's full name is Anahita--which is the name of a Persian goddess represented by water--very important in a desert climate).

A few hours later, when Ana "arrived" via c-section, pink and healthy as could be...well, those first few moments are always "goosebump memories"...she was fine. What they saw on the ultrasound was merely a fold of skin (she had no neck like my dad!). Because she was breech, she was folded in half. They kept reassuring me that there was nothing to worry about...and I didn't care about that...she was breathing, crying, and everything was where it was supposed to be. The months of worry evaporated with her first few healthy breaths.

An hour or so after her birth, I was able to call my mom and tell her the good news...that her granddaughter was born healthy. That phone call is also a goosebump memory. In that phone call, my relationship with my mother was forever changed. In my mother's voice I could hear her relief that Ana was o.k. My connection with my mother deepened with that phone call. I understood her better and I do believe that my mother understood me better. We knew where each other "came from". I think we were both willing to give each other a little more latitude.

At the end of the call, my mom said she would be there the next day (she didn't drive and needed to arrange transportation). She made it to the hospital by dinnertime.

My daughter is now the age I was when she was born. Ana isn't ready to have babies yet and I think that's good. I hope she enjoys many different life experiences before she has children. I'm sort of amazed now that I started a family at age 23...but that was typical for my family (At 23, I already had several nephews and nieces from my older sibs).

But the time will come. I look forward to the experience of having grandchildren. And I also look forward to sharing that bond of motherhood with my daughter.

The need for caffeine

I'm not much of a morning person, but I will offer this: McDonald's new "premium" iced coffee isn't too bad--at least the vanilla flavor is tasty. Now, it is not in the same league as Starbuck's Mocha light frappachino, but it will do in a pinch. I could tell this morning that my routine morning diet coke just wasn't going to be enough, so I ran, or drove through McD's drivethru. The caffeine mega-dose will hopefully kick in soon.

More on a more meaningful topic later.

Sunday, July 8, 2007


Note: I have finally figured out,I think, how to upload pics from our new digital camera. Due to this minor miracle, I am able to bring you pictures from our recent roadtrip. Hopefully the process will go quicker & smoother in the future.

Joel & I headed out of town for our 1-month honeymoon trip (we're thinking of celebrating each month with a mini-honeymoon). It felt so good to be heading out of town. Our destination: Mazomanie, Wisconsin. Yes, Wisconsin. Some say Home to the Badgers. I say Home to Culvers. Joel found another beautiful bed and breakfast for us to enjoy in a litle town just about 25 miles from Madison ( ).

We started our trip on Hwy 94, but by the time we reached Eau Claire we decided to ditch the major highway in favor of the more scenic route that led us through the rolling hills of the Wisconsin countryside. We basked in the aroma of fresh cut hay along with the stank of freshly laid cowpies. Since we were in no hurry, we made frequent roadside stops to take in the sights and stretch our legs when we felt so inclined. We even found a Rocky Rococo pizza joint in LaCrosse!

We arrived in Mazomanie in late afternoon. Walking Iron, the bed & breakfast we stayed at, was lovely--and we had the place to ourselves for two nights! The house was built in 1865. Our room--"Clara's Veranda"--included a whirlpool tub, king-sized bed (yes!) and it's own doorway to the wraparound veranda. We spent much of the first evening just relaxing on the veranda--playing cards while listening to the bubbling waters of the backyard fountain and enjoying the dancing fireflies. I have to say I slept good that night!

On Thursday, we decided to venture out and enjoy the sights. There are several interesting things to do in the surrounding area...including attending a play at the outdoor theatre, touring the nearby Frank Lloyd Wright residence, and touring "The House on the Rock". We checked out the theatre and the FLW tour, but decided to save them for another time. We did decide to check out the House on the Rock.

It's a very interesting place. In a nutshell, this "artist" (also a pretty rich man who was well-supported by his family) decided to build this house on a rock--which in and of itself is an interesting structure (check out the top picture). He also started collecting various things (or buying various collections from others). We spent at least 4 hours going through the house and viewing the various collections. Some of it was bizarre. It definitely was interesting. The collection included a large dollhouse exhibit, various antiques, miniature circus displays... What I enjoyed the most was the huge carousel and all the various musical calliopes. Believe me, I cannot describe the place (but I'm including a few pics; check it out )

After a beautiful drive through the countryside with more random stops, we returned to our room. We enjoyed a delightful meal at the Mazomanie's local drive-in and then more vegging on the veranda, followed by another good night of sleep.

Friday morning we indulged in another delightful breakfast made by the innkeepers. Following breakfast, we prepared for our departure. Again, we decided to take the scenic route--most of the trip following the river along Hwy 61 (on both the MN & WI side). The trip home included another stop at Culvers, a few scenic overlook stops, aw well as stops in Stockholm, WI and Red Wing, MN.

All in all, it was a great trip. The best part by far was spending time together as a couple--away from all the hassles and demands of daily life. I can't wait for our 2 month anniversary.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Trash and treasures

We returned last night, sweaty from a long day of driving, from our 3-day road trip. It was great to get away from the daily grind, from the daily responsibilities of our lives. (More on the trip later).

Back to reality...tonight I am sorting through various boxes, trying to find places to put things away, sometimes just compiling the contents of two boxes into one. I hate moving, because it takes so very long to put away a lifetime worth of trash and treasures. Merging two households is quite an undertaking...somehow I am trying to arrive at this place where everything is reasonably in place and when I look around it is not just my stuff over here and his stuff over there, but our stuff pulled together for a new look.

It ain't going to happen overnight.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

One month anniversary

Today is our one-month anniversary. It's been a very busy month, but life is settling down into a routine. But with the holiday and a few extra days off, we're going to head out of town for a few days. Joel, the charming and romantic guy that I married, surprised me by finding a bed and breakfast in Wisconsin that we're making our way to tomorrow. So there will be a bit of a lull in the blogging...I'll be soaking in a hot tub!

Let's go team!

#350. Hmmm. I can respect 350 wins by Clemons. But not on our time. We gave Thomas his 500th homerun. Yay! Rah Rah! But enough! Let the opposing teams earn their milestones against some other team. Granted, it gives us a little bit more attention on Baseball Tonight, but for all the wrong reasons.

And now: Boof. Boof, I love ya. I love the fact that you legally changed your name to Boof. I love how you pitch the first 5 innings of the game. But what happens in the 6th? The game runs 9 innings, so asking you to pitch through 6 or 7 isn't asking for much.

And Rincon. What's up? Last year I stayed nice and relaxed when you came into the game. Now I get tense wondering how many runs you might give up.

And to all the hitters: Let's start swinging the bats. Make the Yankees bring out their relievers! Get some men on base and bring them home! Show those Yankees up!

Silva, this is not the time to falter. Pitch like you have your last two outings. Show them your stuff! I think you have another complete game in ya!

Oops! I thought I was in my baseball blog. In case you don't know, the Twins are playing the evil Yankees. I get fired up about that. C'mon Twins, let's kick some ass!

Monday, July 2, 2007

Rollin' down the river

Sorry, most of my blogging energy has been directed to my baseball blog. I'll try to be more even-handed, but remember the baseball season is almost half over. Can you believe that the All-Star game is next week? I digress...

If I ever figure out how to upload pics from our new digital camera, I'll get some new pics on here. I took some fun pics on Friday when Joel and I headed to the Taste of Minnesota. I haven't been to the Taste in years. In fact, the last time I went it was still at the Capitol.

The Taste pales in comparison to the State Fair, but we had a good time none the less. Joel sang the Oscar Mayer weiner jingle, we enjoyed taking some pics in the Kodak tent, and ate some pretty good tator tot hot dish (although it wasn't really made with true tator tots).

The best part of the evening by far was taking a Mississippi river boat cruise. Joel had surprised me last year with a cruise and it was a special evening. This was an impromptu cruise and just as special. We thought it would be a nice way to enjoy the fireworks and it was. Being on the water was very relaxing. It was a nice way to let the stress of the week drift away.

Saturday we went to our first wedding as a married couple. It was interesting attending a wedding just 4 weeks after our ceremony. It brought back a lot of memories about the planning and actual ceremony. I teared up during the wedding vows. I now understand how much they mean.

So tomorrow is our first month anniversary. I'm working tomorrow, but then have off till July 11th. Yay! I think I still need some down time to "absorb" all the changes in my life.

I promise--pictures soon!