Monday, May 31, 2010

Don't Forget To Remember

Between hotdogs and s'mores, amidst the yard games and watermelon spitting contests remember the reason for celebration.  Today we celebrate our freedom and honor the lives it cost.  Today we remember all those who fought for their country ~ those who died to make us free. 

From Auntie B's Wax I wish you all a wonderful holiday and offer a salute to the men and women who believed so ardently in the protection of our great land.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Friday Favorite

Today's favorite includes this...

...and this...

...lots of this...

...and everything from this...

to this...

Drinking, crunching, slurping, and listening to any kind of music as loud as I want.  For hours on end.  Today's favorite...the solitary road trip.

There's nothing quite like taking to the countryside road alone with your thoughts, your music, and your munchies. 

Off I go...

Thursday, May 27, 2010

This Above All...

Today my nephew Paenney graduates from high school.  With such an accomplishment I hope he is proud.  He learned to play music and to blow stuff up.  He found his passions and fought his enemies.  He is on the brink of being, yes I'll say it, a grown-up. 

Lately I've been feeling some frustration regarding world circumstances as well as situations in my own little part of the universe.  The overwhelming theme seems to be following the herd.  Sometimes things just don't make any sense and I can't figure out why no one else can see things don't make sense.  I feel dismay in unchallenged ideas, policies, and practices.  Fear and submission have caused illogical things to become the accepted norm. 

So on this day of Paenney's graduation I'd like to share a commencement speech given to the graduates of Emerson College.  The advice given to these young people can be taken by young and old, CEOs and blue collar workers, and entrepreneurs and support staff.  The message can be applied to anyone and should be heeded by everyone

I hope you'll take time to listen to this speech; it's less than ten minutes long.  Take to heart the message it gives.  And Paenney, congratulations.  Husby and I are happy for you and your accomplishment and think you're quite a wonderful young man.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Featured Shop - Plushroom Soup

About twice a month I contribute an article to the HandmadeMN blog featuring the HandmadeMN members' shops on Etsy. I thought it would be nice to have those articles on my blog too, as I really like the artists and shops I feature, and their wares might add a bit of class to my little corner of the blogosphere.

Jessica of Plushroom Soup is "stewing strange softies."  Strange indeed, and yet so loveable.  Plushies are a wonderful thing, and Jessica not only can create them with bits of fabric, some thread and a needle, she actually designs the patterns herself.  Her creations are inspired by fantasy and her shop not only offers the cute plushies she has in stock, but also custom work.  Let's see what's stewing in the pot...

Fernando is furious, or so his title says.  How can one creature be so ferocious and so friendly at the same time?  I love his squiggly arms.

Stella is precious and almost vintage-looking.  She's so cheerful!  This froggie design will simply steal your heart.

This is the wise, old owl.  I like the coordinating fabrics and knowing look in his eyes.  What a delightful addition to a child's collection of "friends."

Such squishy wonderfulness.  Jessica's choice of fabrics and talent with a needle and thread is sure to delight you, and that says nothing for her unique and imaginative designs.  Visit Plushroom Soup and pick up a little cutie for yourself.  They make great gifts too!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Cupcakey Goodness

As you may know by now, cupcakes are all the rage.  This makes my mom laugh.  She's been making cupcakes for centuries decades and doesn't see what all the excitement is about.  Oh, cupcakes are good and everything, but to actually become popular?  A gourmet treat?  It's beyond her, yet she's proud that she's so ahead of her time.

I made some cupcakes recently that I thought were a wonderful springtime treat.  Lemon.  I thought I'd share the recipe with you in case you want to taste a little bit of sunshine, get in the cupcake clique, or simply revisit the fun that is cupcakes.



1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp grated lemon peel
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups sour cream


6 Tbsp butter
4 cups confectioner's sugar
4 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp grated lemon peel
1 Tbsp milk

Frosting is always finicky for me.  Adjust liquid (milk) or confectioner's sugar to reach your desired consistency.  Keep the lemon juice at 4 Tbsp for really great flavor.


In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add lemon peel and vanilla; mix well. Combine dry ingredients; add to creamed mixture alternately with sour cream (batter will be thick). Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups with 1/4 cup of batter. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. For frosting, cream butter and sugar in a small mixing bowl. Add lemon juice, vanilla, lemon peel and milk; beat until smooth. Frost cupcakes.

Makes 30 cupcakes

I thought these were refreshing and delicious.  Husby loved them too, and he shys away from cakes as a rule (one of his shortcomings I've learned to live with).

These are great summer playtime snacks for the kids or to bring to your next potluck or book club meeting.  Give them a try and let me know what you think.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Friday Favorite

Husby is a wonderful husband.  He is very handy and smart and kind of handsome to boot.  One thing he's really good at is gardening and landscaping.  It took me a little while to trust his judgment when it came to things like tearing out trees and bushes (terminal or dead, of course) and planting new ones.  Eventually I told myself, okay, he only studied horticulture and worked in the field for a time and I have never taken care of a yard in my life and can't even make houseplants grow so... let go ~ let Husby.  I don't know what I was ever so nervous about.  He works wonders with landscaping.  Here's the best part: he considers what I would like to see in our yard when planning the landscaping.  What a great guy.

About seven years ago he planted something in our backyard after hearing me casually mentioning how much I like it.  Along the fence he most professionally placed three shrubs.  Not just shrubs, my favorite shrubs. 

This Friday's favorite ~ Bridal Wreath.

Every spring I wait patiently for the bright white flowers to bloom.  I'm never disappointed.  Such delicate little flowers they are.

But when the shrubs are in full bloom, they are loaded with a white so brilliant they practically glow in the dark.  Literally! 

Bridal wreath is my favorite today for its delicacy, its brillance, and the lovely green-and-white combination that are a sure sign of spring.

Such a happy little shrub. Bridal wreath is my favorite today. 

Leave a comment and tell me what your favorite thing is today.  Links are welcome!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Lesson In Pure Joy

Let's all adopt this vitality, this love of life and self, and this confidence into our daily lives. Let's all become mighty children again.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

New Stuff Coming Soon

Busy, busy days of summer. Yes, summer is finally here in Minnesota. Well, it's actually still only spring, but having four seventy-plus degree days in a row is enough to start seeing shorts and flip-flops around here.

My organizational skills have gone to pot with the distractions of warm weather, blooming flowers, and gangly goslings all over the place. But I've been working on getting some new magnets up and running. Here's a sneak peak...

Get it? Tease? Great picture for the teaser I'm giving for my new products, huh?

The above is, in fact, one of many new Sheet Music magnets I'll be presenting in my Etsy shop over the next few days. I've also got some other-themed magnets in the works for the those of you who gravitate toward creepy or dopey. That's another hint. Dopey. But as this is a family-friendly blog I won't get into the details on those.  Let's just say Auntie B is expanding her target market just a tad.

If you want to get instant information on my newest shop listings be sure to visit Auntie B's Wax on Facebook or Twitter. New listings always get first priority on those sites.

What will she come up with next?  You may ask.  I think...

Monday, May 17, 2010

Spring Song

So I went down to The Farmer's Daughter, a shop which carries some of my wares, to drop off a few dozen votives.  I walked up to the counter and greeted the owner, a mentor and friend, and had to push aside some of her work in order to put my candles on the counter.  The work I casually pushed aside was a framed picture which I noticed briefly as I was managing the candles.  Once the candles were on the counter, I commented on what a cute picture it was.

Lynn told me it came from the home of a friend of hers who had recently moved and no longer had an appropriate place to hang the picture.  "She said it just doesn't go with anything." 

As always when I go to the store we chit-chatted about the latest happenings, upcoming vacations, the health and well-being of our families, and of course, business.  Throughout it all I couldn't keep my eyes off that picture.  I asked her how much she was going to ask for it.  She said her price and we went on talking, all the while my eyes glancing down on the counter to the picture. 

I commented again how charming it was, and she gave me a little bit of history on it ~ the name of the artist and approximate date it was painted.  The one we were  looking at was of course a print, but nevertheless I continued look at it with growing affection.

By the time we finished up our little conversation I said to Lynn, "oh, just wrap it up for me.  I can't stop looking at it and I'm sure I can find a nice place for it at my house."  She rang up the sale and I was on my way.

Later that day my mom called me and I excitedly told her "I bought some art today!"  I went on to describe the picture as a small girl sitting on a garden bench looking at a little bluebird.  Mom gasped and asked, "is it an old-fashioned picture?"  Why, yes it is.  "I bet that's the same picture that I loved in my grandma's house!"  The picture she remembered was one of her favorites and she can still visualize where it hung in the dining room at her grandma's house.  She was eager to see the picture to find out for sure if it was indeed the same one.

After seeing the art I bought she confirmed it was indeed the same picture that hung in her grandmother's house over seventy years ago.  OK, not the exact one, but one of many prints of an adorable little girl enthralled by the song of a bluebird in springtime, originally painted by Simon Glucklich.  I still can't take my eyes from the picture as it is propped against the hearth of the fireplace awaiting a home on the wall.  And I can't help but wonder if my attraction to it had something to do with the connection my mom has with it.  I might be foolish to be crediting mysticism and synchronicity to the purchase, but that it hung in my great grandmother's house and endeared itself to my mom when she was a little girl adds that much more to its appeal. 

I just love it.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Friday Favorite

I'm going to try something new and hope it catches on a little.  Friday is pretty much my favorite day of the week so I thought it would be fun to make a game of it on the blog.

Every week  around this time I'll post about one of my favorite things.  It could be a picture, a story, a video, an Etsy shop, a person, a quote...anything!  It's all about sharing favorites, because I've found that sometimes I wouldn't even know my favorites were my favorites if someone else hadn't shared their favorites with me. 

I said earlier I wanted to make a game of it.  After peeking at my Friday Favorite, it would be fun if you shared a favorite of yours in the comments.  Anything at all.  It's about the joy that comes about in things that make you happy.  Because if something makes you happy, it will most likely make someone else happy.  A lot of happy floating around isn't such a bad thing, is it? 

So I'll start.  The favorite I'm going to share with you is a blog.  It simply takes my breath away.  Not only does it allow me to see another part of the world, it drives me.  It makes me want to be better.  It makes me want to jump outside of my comfort zone and experience life in an exciting way.  I wonder if Corey ever thought she could have such an effect on someone ~ or many people.  Maybe she knew all along.

Corey captures things we dream about and shows us beauty in everyday things...

...and not so everyday things.

Her blog is called Tongue In Cheek subtitled with "Stories Collected While Living In France."  I can't even tell you how much I love visiting France through Corey's photos and stories.  Her blog is my favorite this week, and will be, well, probably forever. 

All pictures in this post credited to Corey Amaro.   

Thursday, May 13, 2010

...Be The Ball

Sitting here on a cold, rainy night I fidget. My legs are itchy a la restless leg syndrome; I long for stillness and quiet. I want to be settled. For the life of me I can't figure out why I am unsettled.

I've been on edge for months now, on the brink of something – on the brink of nothing.

Introspection has been my major pastime for decades. I’m determined to figure out what’s wrong with me come hell or high water. (Interesting how I don’t focus on what’s right with me as often.) At this moment, right now, I have pinpointed the problem to balance.

We all know the feeling that there are not enough hours in a day to accomplish everything we want to or must get done. How does one balance the must-dos and the should-dos and the want-to-dos? Always prioritizing in that order seems to push all the joy and leisure out of life, leaving little or no time for the want-to-dos. On the other hand, always prioritizing from the opposite direction would leave one with a sense of not having accomplished anything but frivolity. Neither is good for the soul.

I haven’t quite come up with an effective balancing act. I’m an all or nothing kind of girl, which has proven to be quite ineffective, at least according to my own standards. But I’m determined to find that balance, because without it I’m nothing but lopsided, which I’ve found to be very uncomfortable, not to mention unattractive. This lopsidedness comes to me periodically - at least it causes discomfort periodically. There are long stretches where I could be completely lopsided and not care a lick. It is when I’m acutely aware at my lack of balance that the angst creeps in.

Tell me, dear readers, how you find your groove? How do you balance your time, your tasks, your life? Perhaps you are one of those who have never found the right balance. How has that affected you?  Does balance require rigid routine?  Am I completely insane for thinking a properly balanced life equals bliss? Where do you find motivation and discipline?

Next week my introspection will most likely lead me to believe something other than balance is at the root of my unsettledness (if I am indeed still feeling unsettled). Who knows what it will be?  Sometimes (like right now) after spewing things like this all over the interlinks I wonder if my problem is just that I think too much. Perhaps I should just “stop thinking…let things happen…be the ball.”

(Name the movie from which the above quote comes.)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Cosmopolitan Luxury

There's nothing like treating yourself to something really special once in a while.  This past year has been a rough one for Husby, so not only did I treat him to an evening at the theater to see South Pacific (only his favorite musical), I threw in a night at the ever-luxurious St. Paul Hotel.  The best part about doing these nice things for my husband?  I get to share the experiences with him.

These are the views from our 9th floor window:

Yep, that's the Mississippi River, and the treetops of Rice Park.  And for those of us who are used to Super 8 motels, something so simple as a bathroom can make a huge difference. 

The lighting was so much more flattering than horrific florescents.

And the common areas are anything but common.  We felt like the king and queen of France milling around and hobnobbing with fellow royalty.

We had appetizers and cocktails in the evening at the St. Paul Grill and breakfast in the morning at the M Street Cafe, both located inside the hotel.  The food was wonderful and the service was exquisite. 

Our little getaway was just what we needed to recharge, and it is only twenty minutes away from our house.  There's nothing like splurging once in a while.  Quite fancy!

Monday, May 10, 2010

An Evening At The Theater

This weekend Husby and I had the pleasure of going downtown to the Ordway Theater to see South Pacific. 

Seems I've been spending a lot of time at the Ordway these days.  Just last month I saw the opera Salome with my mom and sister.

Music has always been quite an influence in my life but I have never seen anyone get so excited to see a musical as Husby was to see South Pacific.  It's his favorite.  There were two couples next to us who were on a double date and the gentlemen of that party were equally excited over this production.  Really, I thought they'd all burst into song when There Ain't Nothin' Like A Dame started.  Much to their dates' delight, they refrained and we were all able to enjoy the professionals' performance.

There is something exhilerating about going to the theater.  I don't know if it's being surrounded by people who love the arts or a secret fantasy of mine to be a performer that makes the experience so wonderful.  Either way, I think it's important for all people to have the opportunity to see live performances on stage.  The Ordway is a lovely theater too.

In fact, the "nosebleed" seats are actually those I prefer.  Seeing things from above enhances the performance for me.  No, I can't see the sweat on the actors' brows, but production numbers are easier to see from above.  Kind of like, you wouldn't want front row seats to see syncronized swimming - the effect just isn't the same.

And tell me, in that picture above, are those camera lens reflections or ghostly orbs?  I know the Ordway isn't a very old theater, but I prefer to believe the latter.  I'm funny that way.

We had a great time seeing South Pacific and I would recommend it.  Tickets are still available and the show runs through May 16.  The songs will be running through your head for weeks to follow. 

Close to my heart she came
Only to fly away,
Only to fly as day flies from moonlight
Now, now I'm alone,
Still dreamin' of paradise,
Still sayin' that paradise
Once nearly was mine.

Friday, May 07, 2010

M Is For The Many Things She Gave Me...


She loves you no matter what you look like.

She taught you the essentials for getting along in life

She could get to the bottom of any situation, just by giving you the look.


She kept you warm in the cold world.

More important than anything else, she gave you life. 

Spend the day with her.

Call her.

Remember her.

Happy Mother's Day

HandmadeMN Spring Market

Hey you guys!  If you need to do some last minute shopping for Mother's Day, or want to take Mom out for a fun afternoon of snooping and schnooveling for Minnesota-made artsy and craftsy things, check out the HandmadeMN Spring Market taking place May 8, 2010.  There will be tons of great stuff available from all my friends at HandmadeMN.  You can check out the blog post showing samples of what you can find here.  The banner above gives place and time.  You are gonna love this stuff!

If you're unable to attend this great show, check out the HandmadeMN blog for links to the artisans who will be selling their wonderful work.  Their works are available online too!

I'm sorry to say I won't be there to take part in all the fun.  My shop, however, will be open all weekend if you want to dig around for even more trinkets. 

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Dive Night - St. Clair Broiler

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. Casual atmosphere and good food. We're out to find the best food in the Minneapolis/St Paul area without having to pay a fortune or dress up. A sip of beer or wine doesn't hurt either.  See a list and links to the previous dive night posts here.

Back to the old neighborhood it was for me on this night of Dive hunting.  I love the old neighborhood.  The suburbs can be so drab.  I miss the old restaurants in the city like this one on the corner of St. Clair and Snelling Avenues in St. Paul, MN.  The St. Clair Broiler has been broiling up bugers and mixing up malts since 1956.

Husby and I were in the mood for something other than burgers, so we thought this would be a good place to get a variety of food.  This guy was our "maitre d'..."

Yes, that was pretty much the expression he kept on his face the whole time.  I think he's been in the business forever.  This is an example of some fun you could find inside the menu...the very large and diverse menu. 

As always we started out with some appetizers.  We ordered walleye cakes and turkey quesadillas, which were both very good.  The walleye cakes came with a delicious honey mustard drizzle and the quesadillas were packed with turkey, cheese, and salsa, served with sides of guacamole, more salsa, and sour cream.  I also got a cup of clam chowder, which was just about the best chowder I've had in a very long time.  Appetizers were a score.

For our entrees we all ordered something different.  From left to right there was all-you-can-eat fish fry with what looked like to-die-for steak fries (Ray), beef tips with garlic mashed potatoes (Ruthie), salmon burger with seasoned kettle chips (Husby), and beef stroganoff (me).  Everyone was very happy with their meals.  I had a bite of Husby's salmon burger and it was very good.  My stroganoff was really good too, although it was so rich I had to take most of it home.  (Don't forget I also had appetizers and soup.) 

Oh, and plus, I couldn't resist ordering a piece of homemade red velvet cake to go. It was scrumptious when I ate it two days later. I probably would have passed out from joy if I had eaten it fresh that day.

There were only two minuses in this dining experience. 1) I originally ordered a pork cutlette dinner, which apparently is no longer available...ever. I was pretty disappointed to hear that. 2) There are no automatic refills of pop (soda) or ice tea. Ruthie and I both ordered soft beverages and our waitress did not offer refills. However, if we had asked for some maybe they would have been provided at no cost.

The place itself is a typical old-fashioned diner.  It's clean and well-lit.  It's actually a lot bigger than it seems.  There are three rooms in which to dine.  And guess what? 

The first room even has a counter!  I want to go back again, maybe to try their breakfasts.  I also want to have a burger and malt someday too.  I'd recommend the St. Clair Broiler for some good, substantial food made by people who have been in the food business for decades.

As an aside, after our dining experience we went back to Ruthie and Ray's house for a nightcap. Husby really loves to do this because he can bond with their dog, Hoover. He must have found Hoover's g-spot because he was sprawled all over, loving Husby's scratches. This is what I got to look at for the majority of the evening. Lovely.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Listen And They Will Speak

The bottle caps are back in full swing! Magnets, that is. I just love these little magnets made from real bottle caps. The images will speak to you. Really! I'm not kidding. I mean, look at these first examples. You can't tell me that coffee doesn't speak to you.

That doesn't speak?  OK, I'll give you that.  I'm not a coffee drinker, even though I love the smell of a pot of coffee brewing.  So, how about some juicy, delicious fruit?  Are you listening? 

Maybe you're not into the healthy fruit thing.  Maybe you're interested in something a little more fermented.

Or maybe you hear nostalgia the best.  Do childhood memories speak to you?

If none of these speak to you you're just not paying attention.  Or else maybe they just aren't speaking to you.  If that's the case, be sure to check out my shop to see if there's anything there that does speak to you.  There are many available.  The easiest way to see all of the available bottle cap magnets click on the Bottle Cap Magnet section of the shop.  There are lots there already, and there will be more to come, so keep checking in.

Not only is there be a great variety of magnets to choose from, I'm also offering a deal on bulk purchases.  I know!  It's seems too good to be true, but true it is.  There are separate listings for bulk purchases.  Save $.75 on a purchase of three, $3.00 on a purchase of six, $6.75 on a purchase of nine, and a huge $12 on a purchase of twelve.  Just go to the Your Choice listing that suits your needs and let me know in the Notes to Seller what magnets you want.  Mix and match.  Or choose multiples of the same magnet.  I'm here to let as many magnets speak to you as possible.  Just one thing ~ the Your Choice listings are limited to individual magnets and not the magnet sets already listed in the shop.

Now that I've currently linked myself to death I'll leave you to go find the bottle cap magnets of your dreams.  They're handmade in the me!

Monday, May 03, 2010

Most Sublime

Saturday marked Husby's birthday.  Interestingly enough, it seemed more like my birthday.  Why?  Because I got to spend time in my favorite house of all time, the Chauncey Griggs Mansion.

I knew the house was for sale, but sadly I couldn't afford the $2,400,000.00 price.  It has since been sold, and I found out by pure accident on Friday night there was going to be an estate sale in the house the next day...Husby's birthday.  I wanted to be utterly selfish and abandon Husby on his day.  I knew the right thing to do was to stay and spend time with him, even though we hadn't made any specific plans on how to spend the day.  Back and forth in my mind, I should go, I shouldn't go.  It was a hellish morning from 7:30, the time I arose from bed, to 9:00 when I finally decided that yes I really, really wanted to go to this sale. 

Husby was perfectly fine with my going, and was grateful I didn't require him to go with me.  I really didn't go with the intention of buying anything, just to step foot inside that house once again.  (Have I told you how much I love this house?  It's almost like a past life thing.)

I'm so glad I did.

Almost everything in sight was for sale.  Everything from rugs to lamps to paintings to knicknacks. 

But as I said, I wasn't really there to buy.  I was there to soak up the house.  To smell the woodwork and admire the craftsmanship used to create such a magnificent structure.  Everything from the light fixtures

to the door knobs and window latches.

I stood on the stairway to the second floor and just looked at the beautiful windows for many long minutes.  How I love long, skinny windows.

And this door, the side entrance door mind you, is nearly four feet wide.

The carriage house is about three times bigger than my own humble abode.

I wish some of my pictures had turned out better, but there were many people there and I snapped the photos on the fly.  Or perhaps one of the many ghosts of the house was having fun with me and my camera, making things turn out blurry.  The pictures in my mind's eye are much clearer but I'm glad I got some visual reminders I can refer to on those days I'm longing to be inside the house again.

Yes, I did pick up a few trinkets at the sale.  A linen, a pickle fork, and a silver tray.  But the trip wasn't about snagging a deal.  It was all about that wonderful house.  The arresting, commanding, and most sublime Griggs Mansion.  I do believe it was the best birthday Husby could have ever shared with me.
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