Thursday, May 26, 2016

Mothers' day weekend up north

This year for mothers' day some of my closest friends and I went up north to Grandview Lodge. We have been up here at number of times for bachelorette parties so we know the area and have always had a good time. Saturday morning I slept in until 10 am (what?!) and then did some knitting while watching a movie. A real luxury. The weather was beautiful and we had a relaxing weekend. We even got a decedent Mothers' day brunch before we left, quite a treat. 

Grandview has a beautiful main lodge with a great view of Gull lake.

The view as we walked down to our cabin from the lodge.

Kristen and I went for a half day hike all around Crow Wing State Park. A real gem. The Mississippi and Crow Wing rivers converge here and apparently was a natural crossroads because of its easy travel routes and hunting opportunities. This had been an area where many Native American battles occurred and the Ojibwe were the last to have control over it after they won a battle over the Dakota.

The town of Old Crow Wing was once all around where the Clement Beaulieu House is currently. It was put back in this spot in 1988. This house was considered palatial by standards back in mid 1800s. Hundreds of homes used to be in this area, now it is just an open area with a replica wooden boardwalk in the park. Settlers abandoned the area after James J. Hill routed the railroad through Brainerd (10 mile north of here) in the 1870s.

We enjoyed seeing the new buds on the trees. Only downside of this lovely excursion was that we discovered about 15 wood ticks on each of us after leaving. I spent the rest of the day feeling like bugs were crawling all over me. 

At night we went out to eat at a place called Ernie's on the lake and then out to our favorite townie bar, Zorbas. 

While I was gone Steve took the girls to the Walker Art Center for family day and they had this set up for a photoshoot. I even got a 5x7 and some wallets of this keeper. Amazing.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Rogue Taxidermy shoot

Last fall we filmed a cameo in a segment MN Original on our local pbs station with our neighbor Sarina. She is an artist who does rogue taxidermy sculptor. For our 2 minutes of fame, it took us about an hour and a half to shoot. We exchanged that dead, frozen chicken no less than 8 times to get it right. It is always fun to see artists at work and this was no exception.

The end result of our chicken donation.

The link to the episode is here.

Friday, May 20, 2016

May Day parade

Our annual tradition continues. This year we had a great turnout of family and friends to join us. I thought the parade was less political this year, but still as fun as ever. It was a beautiful spring day and for the first time the four of us biked over to Bloomington Ave. It proved to be the easiest/quickest way to get there!

Eloise in a half shell.

Byrdie, Harriet and Lucia with prime seating.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Spring break staycation

This year for spring break we decided to both take off Mon-Weds and stay around town and do fun excursions each day. By coincidence, Eloise didn't have daycare those three days and so four of us had a lot of time together. Above we went to visit the rabbit sculpture along Minnehaha creek after Easter brunch at the Uptown diner.
Monday we went to the North Mississippi Regional Park. They have a beautiful nature center and newer playground and a splash pad, which is open during warmer months. I really thought this park was a hidden gem and it is only a short drive. The girls loved running up and down this inclined hallway as well and playing at the playground.

This park has nice paved paths throughout thanks, in part, to this allocation of money. Only downside is that there is some loud highway noise in areas since it butts up against I-94 on one side.

Tuesday we headed to the Colossal Cafe. Our former neighbor Bess used to own it and we have always wanted to go. Problem is that it as tiny so you have to go at an off time in order not to wait. Tiny is understatement. Luckily we got the window ledge since there were only 4 other tables in there. Quite cramped, but good.

Then we attempted to go the play Animal Dance at the Children's Theatre, but it was sold out so, even better, we got a behind-the-scenes tour with our neighbor who works there and Eloise got intimately close with one of the baby goats.
Next up, Macy Spring flower show! Harriet being ever so cooperative.

Wednesday was rainy so we went over the St Paul Conservatory.

Eloise is clearly dressing herself these days.

While Eloise napped and Adam was working at home, Steve, Harriet and I went over to the new Hi-Lo Diner in Longfellow. The 50s diner was hauled over from PA in two pieces and then put back together. We went on opening day at 2:30 and it was packed, a fun experience and awesome for that neighborhood.

We really enjoyed having three days to hang out and do fun activities as a family!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Knit Nessie and mini gnome

 I loved making this little Loch Ness monster. So quick and easy compared to the hermit crab. I love the shape too. These are both out of the Amigurumi knits book. 
This little mini gnome was from a new book I got called Mochimochi. Everything in it is super tiny. I just used scrap yarn. The knitting guild has a contest going on now where you bring all the things you have knit, but none of it can be out of a full skein of yarn, it has to be leftovers. Both of these could be entered.

Here he is in the garden next to the only thing I could find for scale, fake money.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Knit Helmet Crab

This little crab has taken me forever to finish mostly because making all those legs was quite a chore. I had to make two celiopeds (the arms with claws) and then four pereopods (legs) and gently stuff them with pipe cleaners to give them their shape and then some stuffing. The shell also has a pipe cleaner in it so it will curl around. After all that time, I'm happy with the end result.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Basement hall, landing pantry renovation

After last year's basement project I decided I wanted to redo the space leading down to the basement. While making the kids' hideout in the basement, I realized there was space and I could sink cabinets into the walls and utilize the area better. Think a medicine cabinet, but the depth of a kitchen cabinet.

It was difficult to get a good before shot of location. It is a small area, but it was very cluttered.  I was standing at ground level next to the side door of our house in the photo above. To the right we had some open shelves for jars, mugs and tea towels. We used a long ledge as a shelf for dry goods/spices. Closer to the door going to the kitchen we installed a pan rack that worked pretty well. To the left, we had some more open shelves. We used this for larger pots and pans, cookbooks and small kitchen appliances. In the middle are the stairs to the basement and the opening to the slide.

Here you can see I removed the rotting ledge on the left wall, the open shelves have been taken out and replaced with a store-bought kitchen cabinet. I taped a template for sizing of another cabinet to set into an (as of yet uncut) opening in the wall to the right. Our family friend Raymond came over and helped me get a fairly good opening cut using a grinder (we forgot to take a picture). The plaster/lathe made for a very messy job.

So why not make an even bigger mess? In addition to the cabinet replacing the open shelves near the door, I decided to cut the wall out under the stairs. I was happy to find a very large space. So large, in fact, I decided that it was better to clean it up and finish it, rather than just push another one foot deep cabinet into it (as I had first planned). After lots of sanding I added flooring, sheet rock walls and trim. Then Christina helped paint everything on the inside. She didn't like how the wood cabinets looked in the space and painted all of them white. Later, after much touching up of the walls, she painted all of them and ceiling in the entire space the same color as the kitchen. She also painted the door, which had always just been primed, and also repainted all the trim in the space so it would look fresh and match everything else.

I cut the back half off of a stock cabinet to use as the opening to the large pantry space. As you look inside, you can see Christina painted the underside of the stairs and walls white and the flooring blue.

Here is is all painted (sans cabinet pulls). I replaced the board under the double cabinet and routered the edge to match the ledge board I replaced by the stairs.

Again, not the best photos due to the space, but you can see the cabinet to the far left, then the cabinet door that opens to the large "pantry" space we finished under the stairs, followed by the stairway and the cabinet I sank in the wall on the right. On the far right we decided to take down the wall shelving all together. We replaced the ledge board with a nice piece of poplar and some more trim.

Complete! We have much more cabinet space now and the area looks a lot cleaner and brighter than before. It's nice to have everything out of sight, yet still easily accessible.