Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Things To See

It bums me out when people say they don't like the fair.  Don't like the fair?  What's not to like?  Nine out of ten times the hater will say they don't like the crowds.  Well, yes, every day at the fair there are thousands of people.

The thing is, they're all there for the same reason, which makes them a very friendly crowd.  We're all just walking around, laughing at each others' funny t-shirts and admiring what that stranger is eating over there or wondering where that other person got that pheasant hat.  And you know what?  You can even walk right up to them and ask, "what's that you're eating, " or "where did you get that pheasant hat?"  They'll tell you proudly and willingly.  Really, they're all very nice. 

Some things at the fair just tell it like it is.

There are some things that make you laugh like a little 4th grader because it sounds like a naughty word.

There are giant slides

and mini donuts.

You might see something that reminds you of your grandpa

or your ex-sister-in-law.

And there are thrills for all ages.

The State Fair just gives me goosebumps.  See you there tonight!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Mr. Bubble

When I was a kid there was a product on the market called Mr. Bubble.  The commercials on TV were so merry and entertaining I thought Mr. Bubble was the be all end all to bathtime fun.  Of course at my house a bubble bath involved a squirt of dish soap because Mr. Bubble, well that was just too extravagant for the likes of us.   I had no idea, but Mr. Bubble was born a half century ago just like me.

To celebrate, Mr. Bubble is sharing his glory at the Minnesota State Fair with a giant bubble machine where kids can wallow in the clean goodness of Mr.  Bubble.  We're not talking Lawrence Welk bubbles, we're talking gobs and gobs of sudsy bubbles.  The kids love it!

I was tempted to jump in on the fun just to experience the ultimate in bubble goodness I had missed out on as a kid.  Watching the kids at the fair frolic around in the suds was just as entertaining and saved my hairdo to boot. 

Mr. Bubble.  Makes getting clean almost as much fun as getting dirty. 

Friday, August 26, 2011

Thursday, August 25, 2011

It's A Grand Night

The Minnesota State Fair is here!

For generations my family has been freakishly fanatical about fairs and carnivals.  Diggy even worked for a carnival for a short stint ~ a giant lumbering above the small children he would tell them "you cry, you don't ride."  And there's my dad has worked at the Minnesota State Fair for over 45 years. 

I've been going to the State Fair for as long as I can remember.  One year when I was quite young I wasn't feeling very well.  It broke my heart because I couldn't go on any spinny fun rides for fear I would hurl up the meager bites of Peters Wieners we had for lunch.  My grampa took me for a ride on the Sky Ride so I wouldn't have to leave the fair ride-free. 

One thing I used to dream about when I became a budding young lady was going to the fair with a boy.  We could go on the rides and he could try to win a stuffed animal for me to take home.  Best of all we could walk around holding hands.  Tres romantique!  Those dreams did eventually come true and they were as marvelous as I imagined. 

Now when Husby and I go to the fair we don't go on too many rides nor does he try to impress me with his hank-a-pank prowess.  But we do walk around holding hands, and now and then we take a little ride through Ye Olde Mill...the tunnel of love.

There's romance in the air at the fair.  After a long day of walking around, eating too much, and experiencing general sensory overload the sun goes down and the lights go up.  The glow of the carnival is as flattering to a girl as candlight.  And when you're walking around hand-in-hand with that guy you dreamed about the thousands of people surrounding you seem to be mere props in a scene made especially for you two.

I'll never stop seeing the fair through the eyes of a young girl, and my heart will always beat a little faster when I'm holding hands in the midst of it all.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Rut

Guess what? I'm in a rut.  Hey, that rhymes!  Perhaps poetry is the answer to getting out of my rut.  Or not.

A long series of bad practices has put me in a place I really don't like.  It resembles hell.  The day job has really taken a toll on me, my crafty business is at a plateau, and my social life is practically nonexistent.  I am the poster child of the phrase "life is what happens when you're making other plans."  I'm missing out on it physically, mentally, and emotionally.

So what is one to do?  I have a few ideas of how to break free of the mundane tedium of my life.  Feel free to try any of these yourself if you've been feeling trapped in a rut too.

1) Turn off the TV.  OK, this isn't something I have a big problem with; I'm just saying that a lot of things happen while we're glued to the TV. 

2) Get more exercise.  Endorphins are all the rage and you'd do well to get yourself some.  I'm going to.

3) Revisit an activity you once enjoyed but no longer perform.  For me it will be cooking and other homekeeping tasks.  My inner June Cleaver is taking a nap and I'm determined to wake her up.

4) Have date day/night.  You can do this if you're single, coupled, or an entire family.  Get out of your shell and see the world.  By that I mean perusing antique stores, going to the zoo, spending the day at the beach.  Dates should be a regular thing and not a fluke in your schedule.  For now I'm going to have a date twice a month.  Dates should also be done outside the home.  The point is to shake things up a little and to take a break from your regular scenery.

Being in a rut is pretty bad, but once you've discovered you're in one it's actually quite exciting to think of ways to climb out.  I'm looking forward to participating in some new activities and to hone some rusty skills back into shape. 

If you're in a rut, what are you going to do to make your life less rutty?  Hopefully that hell-like feeling will dissipate in no time at all.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Featured Shop ~ Laura Prentice

I've always wished I could draw. Of course I've never given it much practice so there isn't much chance of my learning to do it much less having a talent for it. That's why I admire those who can. Laura Wennstrom is one of those people. Her artwork thought-provoking; I like to look at the details. See all of the intricacies in this drawing...

And Laura not only draws, she paints too.  I especially liked this one. 

I'm completely enamored with the linocut prints Laura makes, especially the birds on old maps.  There's just something really endearing about these pieces.

Also found in Laura's shop are journals, collages, and cards.  If you can't pick up an ink pen or pencil and draw things yourself, I suggest going to Laura's shop and picking up a little something there.  Fun, beautiful, and sometimes a little off-center ~ what more could you ask for from an artist?

This article will soon be published on the HandmadeMN blog, a blog I'm sure you will enjoy.  Not only do they publish my Featured Shops, but have lots of giveaways and interesting articles presented by many Minnesota artisans like me. 

Friday, August 19, 2011

A Little Vignette

What is a home if it is not a series of little vignettes?  Vignettes are the little "scenes" that represent who we are and what we love. 

I knew a lady who decorated her home straight out of a magazine.  It was lovely; the colors coordinated and the furniture matched.  It was very...beige.  Safe and beige.  There wasn't a speck of personality in her home.  The only thing I could have told you about her from the inside of her house was that she had a way with house plants.  But maybe I'm being too judgemental.  Perhaps her personality was as beige as the interior of her home.

My home is a mishmash of styles, which is a total reflection of the mishmash going on inside my head.  But every once in a while you'll come across the vignettes.  My latest was created in a most unusual place, inside my bedroom closet.

I'm lucky that my closet is big enough to house my dresser (once shared by Charlotte and me when we were little girls).  Atop the chest of drawers I put a little lamp, two photographs of one of my favorite places, my jewelry box, pretty bottles of sweet smelling potions, and a grouping of little things I've collected in my travels or have received as gifts.  Hanging from the rod are some chain and bead necklaces, overflow from the jewelry box.  The little heart-shaped box keeps my childhood rosary and the larger stone keeper in front contains buttons that need to be sewn back into place on the garments from which they escaped. 

Some people may think it's pointless to display little knick-knacks and photos in a closet.  After all, who's going to see them?  I am.  They're there just for me.  And isn't that what the little vignettes are all about?  Nothing beige about that. 

Addendum: Since taking these photo I added some doilies my grandma crocheted, which make my dressertop even more pretty.  Do you have hidden vignettes in your house? 

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Party

We were there. Where were you? 

We gathered from far and wide to greet you, to inspire you, to tantilize you with our talents.  One of us embellishes with the hair of a horse.

Another makes homemaking cozy and fresh.

One gets her inspiration from the brightest star...

Another cuts through stone as though it was butter.

There was even one there who could hear people speaking from the great beyond.

And I was humbly there, among those greats, to create ambiance and ignite memories through the powerful sense of smell.

We gathered and waited for you, the life of the party. 

We were there.  Where were you?

Photo Credits and/or Artists:

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Girl Stuff

It doesn't really matter what the question is, the answer can be found with two simple things...

Charlotte and I spent the evening together last night and indulged in the answer all night long ~ sweet snow crab legs and a bottle of pinot grigio helped to celebrate both of our birthdays in a way we could both enjoy.  No boys allowed as we didn't want to be seen with drawn butter dripping off our chins.  And there was plenty of that happening.

Afterwards we took a little drive down Summit Avenue.  It was dark enough outside for the glorious mansions to have their indoor lights on so we could peek inside as we drove by slowly. 

What better way to spend an evening than to have some girl talk over crab and wine and admire the magnificent homes along the way home?  Thanks, Charlotte, for a lovely evening.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Dive Night ~ Elsie's

Dive Night is a once monthly adventure undertaken by me and Husby, along with our friends Ruthie and Ray. Each couple alternates choosing a restaurant, one which must come under the category of "dive." Our definition of dive: a neighborhood gathering spot hiding under the radar with a laid-back atmosphere and good food. We'll find the most interesting hang-outs in the Minneapolis/St Paul area.  Casual attire required.  A sip of beer or wine doesn't hurt either. 

This month's Dive Night was a real adventure.  Ruthie and Ray, the couple with the secret dining destination, picked us up at our house at the usual Dive Night time.  Husby and I piled into the van and off we went.  Off we went...*chug, chug, chug*...  We got about three miles away from our house and the vehicle decided to kick the bucket.  I was sure we were all going to die as the van seemed to pick the most inappropriate place to konk out, right over the crest of a hill on a 70-mph freeway.  Luckily we could roll down the hill and halfway up the first exit ramp thanks to Ray's superior vehicle-manuvering skills.  We didn't die, but the van certainly did. 

Husby looks especially happy to be stranded on the side of the road waving like that.

Yep, there it is.  The engine.  Luckily Ruthie and Ray have one last offspring living in their house, so Ruthie called him up to come rescue us.

Once the loyal offspring dropped Ruthie and me off at our house we waited for the men to call us with news that the tow truck had arrived.  Then we hopped into our fully-functioning vehicle and continued on with the Dive Night adventure. 

You just can't go wrong in Nordeast.  Ray directed us to Elsie's: Restaurant, Bar, & Bowling Center.  What fun!

"Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition presented to Elsie's Restaurant in recognition of outstanding and invaluable service to the community."  Signed October 13, 2008 by Jim Ramstad (US Congressman).  Really?

This is the perfect dive, endorsed by Congress!  Our waitress had a contageous enthusiasm and added greatly to our experience.  We started out with a much-needed libation (after the trying time we spent with the belly-up van) and perused the appetizer menu.  We really wanted to try the Reuben Bombers, but because we arrived late they had already sold out.  (A perfect excuse to return to Elsie's!)  So we decided to try the "homemade" deep fried cheese curds and the handbreaded portabellas.  OMG.

Yeah, the cheese curds were good, but those portabellas?  To die for!  And the appetizer basket was full of these magnificent treats.  They're served with a ranch-type sauce.  Really, really good.

As for our entrees, we had the Pot Roast Melt (with onion rings), the Hot Old Fashioned (with turkey), the Hot Cali Turkey Club, and The Works Burger

Pot Roast Melt (Ruthie)

Hot Old Fashioned (Ray)

Hot Cali Turkey Club (Husby)

The Works Burger (me)

If you'd like to see what each of these sandwiches consists of, check out Elsie's menu.  We were all thrilled with our food.  Everything was delicious and hot.  Sandwiches come with homemade potato chips, but can be substituted with fries, onion rings, etc., at an additional cost.  This food was so darn good I can't even put it into words.  And Elsie's is a family-friendly restaurant.

But wait, there's more.

BOWLING!!  Not to worry, the restaurant and bowling alley are sufficiently separated to allow for a meal uncluttered with strikes and gutter balls and the accompanying hoots and hollers of success or defeat.  But both food and bowling are under the same roof making for an entire evening of fun for everyone.

Blacklights and glow-in-the-dark bowling balls makes for an exciting evening of bowling.  It's been so long that I've been in a bowling alley I didn't know there is now automatic scoring.  I never knew how to do all of those slashes and exes, so this technology is a huge plus for someone like me.  Sadly, we were unable to bowl a line.  Ruthie and I were wearing our summer shoes with no socks, and there was no way on earth I was going to put my bare feet into rented shoes.  But we had a cocktail in the bowling alley and had a lot of fun watching other people bowl.

Despite our slow start, this month's Dive Night was a huge success and a lot of fun.  We had an especially good time playing in the blacklights of the bowling alley.  Husby did his Micheal Jackson impression with his blazing white socks, and Ruthie and Ray had an enormous amount of fun riding on the swingy chairs.  I enjoyed watching my favorite bowler who would walk up to the line, stand there, and swing is arm back and forth before letting go of the ball.  Next time I go to Elsie's I'll wear socks and work off the big meal with a line or two.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Happy Birthday To Me!

Today I will celebrate.  Please join me.  Indulge in cake.  Even a Twinkie will do. 

Friday, August 05, 2011

It's Not Just A Number, It's An Accomplishment

This is the last post I will write before turning into *dun dun duuuunnnn* a senior.  That's right, the next time I post anything I will have turned fifty years old.  Fifty.  Half a century.  Officially able to get an AARP discount at hotels across the country.

I'm happy to say my age doesn't depress me.  President Obama just turned fifty.  George Clooney is fifty.  Chris in the Morning is fifty.  Bonnie Hunt, Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, and Meg Ryan are all turning fifty this year too.  I'm in good company. 

I guess I just want to say an official goodbye to the years of supple skin and digestive tolerance and hello to the era of hot flashes and noisy joints.  I will embrace my newfound limitations and share the wisdom of my age.  I vow to never have plastic surgery in the name of vanity, nor will I ever become a crazy cat lady.  I'm going to try to have the enthusiasm of a child despite my years, and I will always try to improve myself no matter how old I get.

I'm turning fifty. 

Send cake.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Compare And Contrast

Compare and contrast the industrial revolution in England in the 1700s to the technological revolution that occurred in the Silicon Valley during the 1990s.  Sounds like a good high school essay question to me.  Husby and I refer back to the "compare and contrast" challenges of school often, mostly as a joke.  Sadly, in real life, I always compare, but rarely contrast.

To often we compare ourselves to others, and if you're like me you find you just don't measure up ~ in your own mind, that is.  I've been doing that a lot lately.  It's not good for the self esteem.  A really good thing I've stopped doing is comparing myself to Martha Stewart.  (Did you notice that little reference, "good thing?")  I mean really.  Martha is a business wizard and all that, but you have to know she doesn't maintain fifteen houses, run a corporation, put on a show, and raise children and chickens all by herself.  No one person can do that.  Or can they?  It doesn't even matter.  The thing is I shouldn't even try to measure up to that kind of persona.  It's just unrealistic.  I gave up Martha Stewart a long time ago.  Now her ideas may be inspirations, but to be Martha Stewart?  It's just not going to happen and I'm fine with that.

We can compare ourselves to all sorts of things.  How does my blog compare to others?  My Etsy shop?  Is my garden as beautiful and productive as my neighbor's?  Am I as good a cook as The Pioneer Woman?  OK, just stop it.

You have to add the "contrast" to the equation.  When you only compare you might find some motivation to improve yourself, but it doesn't account for your differences.  We all have different schedules, obligations, priorities, talents, and interests.  The differences between you and those to which you compare yourself may just be to your advantage.  You may not be blogging every day, but you have a meaningful dinner hour with your family every evening, complete with food that cooked in your very own oven.  Or you may not do any cooking, but are working on fulfilling your dream as an independent artist.  Are you comparing your art with others?  Don't forget to contrast too.  Is Monet better than Rembrandt?  Not necessarily.  They're different.

It's all apples and oranges.  Compare and contrast.  They're both fruit.  One is red, one is orange.  They both grow on trees.  One is firm, one is soft.  No better, no worst.  Just different.

Be kind to yourself.  Aspire and inspire, but don't ever feel like you're less because you're not the same.

(If you're working on a handmade biz I found a great inspiration article on defining your own success.  You can find it here.)
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