Saturday, October 19, 2013

Tiny Diner Farm

Welcome, indeed!  There is a new neighbor in town and I am excited about what they are doing.  I have been spying on their work from the sidewalk through the spring and summer as we frequently pass by it on our dog walks.  When I saw that The Tiny Diner Farm was having an open house/festival, I knew this was a great opportunity to see the farm from the other side of the fence.

I don't think I have yet to understand the full scope of what they are planning to do with the space (and from what I gathered, they aren't sure yet either) but what they have done so far is converted the double lot into an amazing urban garden that supplies local restaurants and a weekly farm stand on site.

The winding, burlap sack lined path is totally inviting and makes efficient use of the planting space.

The variety of produce, both fruits and vegetables, being grown is amazing.

I am definitely going to be keeping this farm's efforts and offerings on my radar.  The word is that they will be offering skill sharing workshops in the future, which I would totally be into!

Friday, October 18, 2013

September/October Catch-All

Some tidbits from this fall:

I visited a new farmers' market this year.  The downtown St. Paul Farmers' Market! I like this market because it is small enough that it is not overwhelming yet it still has a wide variety of produce and other vendors.  The prices are on the cheaper side yet the quality is still great.  Thumbs up to this one!

I went with Jamie and we may have needed to make multiple trips back to the car because we bought so much.  In our defense, watermelons are heavy!

This vendor might want to rethink their choice of potato scooper.  As a cat owner who is very familiar with the intended use of that utensil, it is very hard to imagine eating anything that touched one of those.

For the first time in many, many years, I went to the Mall of America.  I had no choice since I needed to go to a store that only has one location in Minnesota and that location was in this monstrous mall. I took the train and tried to pretend like I was a tourist in a new place.  It helped make the experience more bearable.  Still, giant malls are discombobulating and overstimulating!  In case you are unfamiliar, this mall  is so big that it has a theme park in the middle of it.

The beer tastings that started in the spring are still going strong.  My appreciation for beer is growing but I still maintain that hops taste icky.

I am so glad Verdant Tea opened up a shop.  I love the space, the tea tastings are a steal and their food menu keeps getting better.

My book club met there recently and I got to taste some new things, including a few new blends of tea and a savory porridge called congee.  Yum!

As I have mentioned, Paul has become a fabulous pizza chef making up all sorts of interesting combinations and perfecting his own crust recipe and technique.  As a treat/inspiration to him, we had a date night to Pizzeria Lola.  We took seats at the counter that gave us a great view of the wood fired oven and the pizza prep area.

One of the cooks shared some of their stats with us because we were curious how many pizzas their very efficient and busy operation churned out in an evening.  It was estimated that they make around 600 pizzas on a busy night.  Amazing team work!

They have a fun photo booth display that people can look at while they wait.  Thankfully we timed it just right and didn't have to wait.

Another recent reason for celebration was my mother-in-law's birthday.  We prepared and shared a lunch with her to celebrate and then Paul's sister and family joined us for dessert.  Happy Birthday, Joanne!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Autumn Walks

When I haven't been at home with my legs taped up, I have been relishing the fall weather before it turns cold and white here in Minnesota.  I've been loving dog walks with Tchazo and Paul and oftentimes have scheduled walks with friends as a way to catch up while getting some air and some exercise.  In Minneapolis we are very fortunate when it comes to picturesque walking options.  These pictures are from Lake Calhoun on a dreary day.  Sally and I took a drizzly walk together, which meant we had the place nearly to ourselves.  Considering Lake Calhoun is usually teeming with people, this was a particularly special treat. It was a wonderful afternoon!

Lunchtime walks have been an option, too.  Again, I am grateful to work near the Mississippi River where there are wonderful views and cute commercial areas to wander around during my break.

There has also been a lot of rain this fall, which is what our ground really needs after a very dry summer.  Sometimes it puts a damper on the walking joy, though.  This picture was taken while Paul, Tchazo and I stood at the backdoor a bit sad that we had to skip our walk that evening.

Most of my walks have been evening walks with Paul and Tchazo after we get home from work.  As the sun sets earlier, the shadows at this time of day get longer and longer.

I don't always have my camera along on these walks but sometimes I do.  Paul and Tchazo have to be patient since I make frequent stops with the camera.  However, this picture was a practice picture in a kinnearing style so no stopping was needed:

A special joy of autumn walks are the sounds.  The wind in the trees rattling the leaves and then, the joy of the crunching sounds when you step on them are top of my list!

Be warned, children of Longfellow, if you leave your ball in the street my dog will assume it is his and bring it home.

He is always mighty proud to have found such a prize and is developing a little collection of stolen toys.  He doesn't have a lot of opportunities for adventure left in his life so even though a feel a tiny bit guilty about it, I am happy to let him keep his found treasure.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


This week is an interesting (and uncomfortable) one that I really hope will end with some answers to my ongoing health drama.  It started out Monday morning with a 5.5 hour appointment at the patch testing clinic. I was happy/nervous to be there as I had waited over 2 months for an appointment yet I was pretty certain that it was the start of a difficult week for me.

Per clinic instructions, I had to bring in everything in my house that could have come into contact with my skin over the last 5 months.  I was tempted to bring the cat along, too, but I didn't.

They made up patches using some standard panels and a lot of my own products. A grand total of 210 patches!  The panels include the standard panels, cosmetic ingredients, sunscreen ingredients, steroid ointments, textile dyes, common ointment vehicles and lots of my products.

Then they stuck them on me and put multiple layers of tape over the patches. Typically patches are applied to a patient's back, but since my back is so "involved" (i.e. full of rashes/irritation) they had to use the tops of my thighs as the primary site and then put a few on my back as well.  When the patches and tape were applied, I was sitting down with my legs bent at a 90 degree angle.  When I tried to stand up, I couldn't straighten my legs without it feeling like I was getting a snake bite (that thing where someone twists your skin in 2 different directions and it feels like you are getting burned).  I pointed this out to the women who applied the patches.  She apologized and called it a "learning experience" for her.  She said I was stuck with the current arrangement because removing or re-positioning the tape would mess up the test.

This is the same woman who complained incessantly while she was in my room and especially while applying the patches.  She shared that it had taken so long to prepare my patches (I waited in the room by myself for over an hour, maybe even 2 hours, while they created the patches) because the person she has helping her always screws stuff up.  WAY TO INSTILL CONFIDENCE, LADY!  If I seem particularly disgruntled in this post it is only because I have to stand with the posture of an arthritic 90 year old for 5 days for test results that may be "screwed up."

Oh, and then there is the part where she gave me a passionate lecture about all of the things I am not allowed to do this week including dressing myself or lifting things.  These limitations are because those activities might mess up the patches and my mandated priority this week is to not mess up the patches.  Her lecture would have seemed more earnest had she not immediately left the room, instructing me to get dressed on her way out.  Plus, while she was away she was getting my products from home so that she could return them to me.  At which point, I was expected to re-pack and lift my heavy suitcase.  So, yes, immediately after telling me not to dress myself or lift things, she forced me into a situation where I had to do both.

I am a rule follower by nature and get a little anxious when I break them.  Plus, at this point in the day I was feeling a little loopy.  The cause for loopiness was probably a combination of hunger, having spent over 5 hours in that little exam room (most of the time by myself), and being in the midst of getting used to my snakebite legs and mattress back (more on that in a minute). All of that to explain the feeling that I had, the feeling that after I broke her rules, that she might come back in and yell at me for getting dressed and tell me I failed her test.  I was brave though, I broke those rules and I've done it again since then.  Bam.

And that suitcase?  When they returned my stuff after using it for testing, they hadn't closed the lid on my giant, concentrated, liquid laundry detergent bottle.  So, by the time I opened the suitcase up at home, there was a lake of laundry soap mixed in with all of my stuff and soaked into all of the nooks and crannies of my suitcase.  I think I could rinse that suitcase for hours and more soap would still come out of it.  Fun times.

In case you are wondering, in addition to the regular patches, I have some interesting things attached to my body this week.  Including a snippet of yarn from the project I've been working on throughout the summer/fall.  And, this one is really goofy: I have mattress parts taped to my back.  We need to replace our mattress but I am afraid that whatever new one we buy will end up triggering an allergy and we will have wasted lots and lots of money and have nothing to sleep on. So, the fancy, natural mattress store gave me samples and the doctor cut away parts of the natural latex pad, wool batting and cotton casing fabric and taped them to me for the week. If I don't react, we can finally replace our 13 year old mattress!

In addition to the mattress info, I am really, really hoping to get useful information from the tests.  If I allow myself to really dream big, I hope to identify what caused this whole health spiral to start in June and to find a way to prevent it from ever happening again.  If you have any good mojo to spare, please send it my way this week.  I'll just be here, with my legs bent at a 90 degree angle, trying not to lift anything or change clothes.
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