Friday, December 31, 2010


Hey! Merry Christmas! I am late, I know. I got my new camera and have been getting acquainted with it. Here are a few shots from Christmas weekend.

Christmas Eve Day Veggie Tacos with Paul, my dad and my sister. They all managed to make goofy faces at once.

We enjoy messing with our pets sometimes. It is how they earn their keep. In this picture, Tchazo is intrigued/scared of the bubble wrap popping sound.

This year we had 3 days of Christmas.
Day 1 = Tacos and Gifts with Jessy and Dad
Day 2 = Christmas Feast and Gifts with the In-Laws
Day 3 = Brunch and Gifts with Mom and Roger and Jessy.
Notice a theme? Food and presents were in abundance this Christmas.

My mom looked lovely in her just unwrapped, handknit shawl. Also, you know you are from a German family when you ask your mom for Grandma's German Dumpling recipe and when she pulls out her recipe box, there is a whole section called "Dumplings".

Fanny didn't go anywhere for Christmas but she did pose for pretty kitty pictures while I played with my new camera. She and the dogs had a fine Christmas, too. They all got special soft food as well as big rawhides for Tchazo and Jack and catnip toys for Fanny.

I hope your holidays were just what you wanted them to be.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Year Older and Still a Fan of Birthdays

Since my actual birthday was on a Monday this year, Paul and I commenced celebrating it on Sunday. (Well, actually Jamie treated me to a birthday pedicure and we had a lovely birthday/Christmas celebration together on Saturday, so that was probably when it really started!) The Paul part of my birthday started on Sunday. As is Paul's preference, the birthday plans were all up to him and kept secret until the moment he chooses to reveal them to me. On Sunday, he woke me up to a homemade gourmet breakfast and then told me that my instructions were to bundle up and wear my snowpants. I was also to bring other, less warm clothes for later in the day.

The first activity of the day was at Theodore Wirth Park's Winter Recreation Area. I have been wanting to check the park out as our friends Mark and Jerri are regular visitors to the Quaking Bog. Judging from what we have heard from them and what we saw, there is a ton to do in the park.

The morning was bright and sunny and 8 degrees. Luckily he had warned me to bundle up and bundle up I did. It was a good thing, because it turns out we were at the park to go snowtubing! I have only been snowtubing one time that I can remember and it was when I was little. Paul has never been, so it was a fun thing to experience together. When we showed up there were very few people on the hill. This was one of those fancy tubing places where you don't have to walk back up the hill. There is a lift that you get hooked onto and it pulls you back up...lazy man's sledding!

We had a really great time and got inventive with how we went down the hill to make it a little more dangerous. Right when the hill started to get crowded was when it was time for us to move on to the next activity. I really enjoyed the park and want to go back soon to cross country ski. Props to Paul for remembering that I have been wanted to go sledding every winter we have been back here and hadn't gone.

Paul knows how much I like hot chocolate but only if it is GOOD hot chocolate. None of that Swiss Miss stuff for me. Paul had done extensive research in order to find the best hot chocolate place in the Twin Cities so that we could go there and warm up after tubing. His research totally paid off!

Kopplin's Coffee has 6 kinds of hot chocolate all of which sounded amazing. Paul ended up going with the house dark hot chocolate, which was very flavorful and minimally sweet. I went with the Taza Cinnamon, which tasted like a slightly sweet and spiced mexican hot chocolate. We paired our hot chocolate with an almond brioche and a plate of crostini with red pepper spread and olive spread. It was pretty dark in the cafe so I didn't capture many photos. I am eager to go back and try some of their other hot chocolates...maybe the Valrhona dark chocolate or their Rogue hot chocolate made with locally made chocolate. Delicious!

View of the state capitol building from the History Center parking lot

After our afternoon snack, we continued the chocolate theme with a visit to the Minnesota History Center. Their current exhibit is about the history of chocolate. I enjoyed the exhibit and was very glad I arrived with a belly full of chocolate otherwise it might have been torturous to be reading about so much chocolate without eating it! We also got to check out an exhibit about the generations and waves of immigrants that have come through one house in St. Paul. There was so much to see at the museum, but time was running short and we had to go.

After the museum, we headed home to take care of the dogs and then out again to meet up with Meg and Cyrus for dinner. This is the point at which I abandoned my camera. Even so, we had a lovely meal with them at Craftsman. There was a lot to celebrate; Meg had just finished her semester and Cyrus just finished his job. They are both getting ready for a year of living in Argentina. Paul and I both really enjoy their company and will miss hanging out with them in 2011.

The next day was my actual birthday. I had taken the day off of work, wanting to have a free day to do as I pleased. I ended up taking a solo day trip that was ill fated. A nasty snow and ice storm came through the state and resulted into what should have been a 45 minute drive turning into a 2+ hour drive. As much of a pain as it was, I survived without incident and was back in time to welcome Paul and his armful of flowers as he got home from work. Luckily Paul had chosen 112 Eatery for our evening out, which we could get to by train. It was fun to be out in the storm without having to worry about driving and parking. We had a lovely seat next to the window on the second floor of the restaurant. The ambiance was great and the food was very tasty.

Each year Paul makes me feel so special on my birthday. He is so great at noticing things throughout the year and incorporating them into my celebration. A few months ago I made some off-handed comment about missing a tea shop that we lived near in Cambridge. I remarked that I had nearly used up the tea I had bought from there and that I would be sad when it is gone. He must have taken mental note of my comment because my birthday present included bulk bags of my 2 favorite teas from that tea shop.

Over the summer, I had gone on a search for blueberry beer because I had been craving a Black and Blue (half Guinness, half Blueberry Beer). It turns out we couldn't find any blueberry beer in the local shops so I settled for Black and Tans instead. Paul remembered that too and enlisted some Boston friends to ship some blueberry beer to us. Black and Blues, here I come!

Lastly, I have been making it no secret how much I have been frustrated by our point and shoot camera. It is great in bright, natural light but is darn near non-functional in any other lighting. Part of the reason I have not been blogging is that I like to have pictures in my posts and lately all of my pictures have been turning out sucky. Well, it turns out Paul has been planning on getting me a camera for quite a while and presented me with a homemade coupon and money for a digital SLR! With a bit of birthday and Christmas money from my dad kicked in, I was able to buy an amazing new camera with a gigantic memory card. Yahoooooo!!!!

Every year I am blown away by what a generous and thoughtful partner I have. Each year I tell him he doesn't need to do that much for me. I feel guilty that he sacrifices things for himself in order to make my birthday such a big deal. I tell him that I would be happy and content with less. Each year he tells me that he wants to do it, that he is choosing to do it and that I just need to let the guilt go and enjoy it. I definitely enjoy it and I am working on letting the guilt go. Luckily I plan on sharing many, many more birthdays with my lovely Paul.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


I've been knitting for Christmas, but before we get to those projects, I'd like to show you what I made for my friend Libby's baby. I attended her baby shower earlier this month and, since she is a knitter, I thought long and hard about the right knitted baby gift. I knew that she had been working on a toy and has been known to knit baby hats and blankets in the past, so I avoided those options. I wanted whatever I made to fit longer than a sweater would fit, so I crossed clothing off the list.

I finally decided on a sleep sack with little owls on it. I don't have any babies, but from what I hear putting babies into bed with blankets is a no-no these days. Many people are using wraps and sleep sacks instead of blankets.

Libby's little one is due in February, so we'll see if he likes it and if the wool keeps him warm in the cold Minnesota winter.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Testing Photo Size

Hey! I got a new camera and am testing out the file size and photo resizing. Enjoy the close-up of Jack's crusty eye.

Jessy's Big Month

Well, hello there! I did not intend to abandon this blog for so long, but that is how it went. The good news is that I feel ready to get back on the blogging train. I'll tell you why a bit later, because for now, I'd like to get caught up on some long overdue posts.

For one, my sister Jessy has had a big month. She turned another year older and, in true fun-lovin Jessy-style, she chair-danced while we sang the Happy Birthday song to her.

The annual birthday dinner bunch, with the addition of Michelle, our long-time family friend.

Happy Belated Birthday, Jessy!

Earlier this month, Jessy was a participant in the MPLS art show at Cult Status Gallery. I was able to attend, share a drink and take in the art with her on opening night.

For those of you familiar with the First Avenue stars, you'll notice that the gallery created their very own wall of stars and Jessy was on it! Way to go, Jessy! If you would like to read more about the exhibit, here is a link.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

White, Windy and Wonderful

As much as we like to think we are in control of our lives, some days it is really the weather that is in control. This weekend Minnesota got a huge amount of snow accompanied by strong winds. The total snowfall at my house was around 18-20 inches, which all fell between Friday and Saturday evening. This storm was momentous. The city buses and the snow plows were called back to the garages, the mail carriers were called back in from their routes, the roof of the metrodome collapsed and the Mall of America closed. When this sort of stuff is happening, you know it would be best to stay put where you are.

Fortunately, I was at home. I had plenty of food and many, many ways to keep myself entertained. I spent most of Saturday admiring the storm from inside while drinking a hot mug of tea. I did venture out for a little while. Even though there was fierce wind blowing the snow around, I wanted to get a little shoveling done to clear the door. I am glad I did because the doors that I didn't shovel out yesterday had drifts up to the door knobs this morning!

It was great to be forced to stay home. No need for shopping or running errands. No social engagements or family obligations. Everything in the city slowed down and became quiet and calm. I loved it. The forced hibernation at a normally stressful and bustling time of the year was a bit magical.

Then, the storm stopped and a bitter cold and sunny Sunday arrived. Everyone emerged from their houses to begin the task of digging out. Sidewalks, walkways, and driveways needed shoveling, cars needed to be brushed clean and garbage cans and recycling bins needed to be carved new spaces in the alleys.

Paul has been trying to recover from a back injury, so the task of snow removal was mine alone. Amazingly a handful of neighbors with shovels and a snowblower were out helping people clear the snow. I was so grateful when they helped me with the two most daunting parts of our property. It was the first time in the year and a half that I have lived here that I have witnessed the residents of this block come together. We helped each other shovel, we pushed people's cars out when they got stuck in the alley, we chatted and we actually learned each other's names. I was so grateful for their help and enjoyed breaking down some of the barriers between us urban-dwellers. I gave them jars of raspberry preserves to show my appreciation. They would have preferred beer, but we hadn't bought any of that before the storm came through.

Inevitably, when a whole weekend's worth of tasks are forced aside, there will be things that won't end up getting done. But, I'm not going to stress about that because this weekend was an unexpected gift.
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