Saturday, December 19, 2009

Lessons learned after our first year of cutting our own tree

Lesson #1: Don't wear your good jacket and nice gloves to cut the tree. Bring some work gloves.

Lesson #2: Park your car as close as possible to the tree you have chosen.

Lesson#3: Pick a tree that can realistically fit in your car (especially if you have a long ride home, plus 2 more stops along the way. Also, make the tree farm your last stop, not your first)

Lesson #4: Let this guy get all the junk off your tree. No need to painstaking try to take it all off yourself (only to then realize that this guy and his shaking machine exist).

Lesson #5: Remember to bring the giant coupon the tree farm has on their website.

If you follow these easy and logical pieces of advice, your first tree cutting experience will be a bit less annoying and time consuming than ours. Nevertheless though, it was a beautiful day and we had a really fun time doing this together. We will most likely do it again next year. Hopefully we will learn from our rookie mistakes and we will follow our own advice.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009


I found out the 49ers had not sold all the tickets the Packers allotted them for the Sunday November 22nd game three days prior. Since I hadn't been to Green Bay for a game in almost seven years I felt compelled to make it work. I purchased two tickets (at face value, which I didn't think was even possible these days) and began to make travel plans. Once I knew Christina would not be joining me (subconsciously I think she cut off the tip of a finger at work Friday to have an excuse) I pulled the trigger on R/T flights into and out of Milwaukee. Saturday I landed in Milwaukee around noon after a one hour flight. My brother Adam picked me up and we immediately grabbed our friend Kes for lunch. In under two hours from when I left Minneapolis, I was sitting outside Sobleman's having a beer and burger. To keep the WI sports weekend theme, we stayed in Saturday night and watched the Bucks with friends.

Early Sunday we had a bowl of Packer Blitz cereal and prepared for the drive to Green Bay. Adam's friend Greg and his younger brother Tom came along.

Greg and Tom had friends tailgating (with a great view) who graciously shared some bratwurst and started off a wonderful afternoon of football.

Somehow I resisted the urge to buy any of this crap.

The game was wonderful. 57 degrees on the third week of November, in the sun, WOW! Great view! Great Packer victory! I'd say Adam would agree.

Until next time, Packer nation.


Monday, November 16, 2009


The exterior side door of our house was actually just an interior door that was retro-fitted with a new window. It was also basically unusable and during the winter left that side of the house like an ice box.

I tore out the old door and jamb to make room for the new insulated steel door we special ordered from Menards several weeks earlier.

More than a dozen hours later, the new door!

Here is a one of the two modern Scandinavian side tables Christina spent untold hours refinishing.

Here is the pair as they appeared when my parents dropped them off after many years of storage in the basement and garage of their home in Wisconsin.

Monday, November 02, 2009

From left: Putin, Thatcher, Lincoln, Churchill, the Ayatollah, Castro, Henry VIII, Kim Jong, Marie Antoinette and a random Cleopatra who just happened to be at the party.

World leaders unite!!!

this year the group costume was world leader past and present. It proved to by a good theme because there were a lot of options for people from which to choose.

Also a random meeting with Reagan at one of the parties we went to.

Sunday, November 01, 2009


Christina likes this swiss design blog via NYC, and now so do I > so much to look at.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Getting ready for winter

Well we have been busy doing a bunch of semi-uninteresting fall tasks. Now that the garden has done i've had a bit of time to reflect on the successes and the failures. probably won't grow peanuts again (see the one lonely peanut above), broccoli and basil did well, bumper crop of tomatoes once we moved them to the side of the house and also a lot of success with the peppers. Below are the teeny, tiny onions we reaped from the garden. so wee.

This past weekend i planted over 250 bulbs. Hopefully the squirrels won't get to all over them.

By far the biggest project we have been working on is the pergola and staining the fence. The pergola still has some finishing touches needed so hopefully we can finish that up before winter. We are planning on growing grapes and/or hops next year on the pergola. As for the fence, we didn't really want the fence to go gray just yet so we spent many days staining it. In 6 years when it is supposed to be redone, we are just going to leave it.

One nice thing about the staining is that we did the deck going up to the backdoor so now it all matches.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Mmm... Kristen, Cameron love donut

Our good friends got married on Friday night at the Mill City Museum. Area history was highlighted. All the tables were labeled with local landmarks. My meal included MN wild rice and duck (doubtful it was a loon since I think eating the state bird is illegal). No cutting wedding cake for these two – they had donuts. We had a great time and we're both super happy for them!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Panorama mania!

Click on them to see them better.


At christ the redeemer, rio
Rio. Not a great pic, it got weird in the sky area.

Sugarloaf (Pão de Açúcar) from below in Rio

On the sugarloaf, Rio at night (you can see Copacabana on the far left)


Soccer Game, Brazil

Iguazu fall, Argentina side

Iguassu Falls on the Brazilian side

Not a great panorama in Montevideo, subject matter is uninteresting

Out on a peninsula in Montevideo at sunset


More Uruguay

Palacio Salvo, Uruguay

Casapueblo in Uruguay

more Casapueblo in Uruguay

Polluted Santiago

Vina Del Mar

Valparaiso (photomerge added in a floating mast in the middle)

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Showing up for the party in Chile

We noticed it was considerably cooler in Santiago. Winter still. Our hotel was in the main downtown area that recently has been nicknamed San-hattan because of the amount of skyscrapers being added to the skyline.

We noticed everyone had a flag in their car, on their home– they were everywhere. People were selling flags at the intersections. This, as we later found out, was because it was Chile's Independence day (in fact, it was their bicentennial year) and it was law everyone must have a flag. Forced patriotism, nice.

Here is our tour guide at the city center, called Plaza de Armas. He called us Mr. Stephens and lady the entire time.

The Monument to the Indigenous People is quite a strange but interesting sculpture on Plaza de Armas.

Ah, smog. Santiago is one of the most polluted cities in Latin America. Trapped in a valley surrounded by the Andes on the east and a coastal mountain range on the west, the capital suffers a thermal inversion during the winter which keeps pollutants from leaving (just like LA). I didn't notice a difference in air quality, but the photos certainly suffer.

As a result of the impending independence day, the markets were packed. Everyone stocked up on food for big family get-togethers. We ducked into this seafood market and had a little lunch.

Here we are crossing the Mapocho River downtown.

Makeshift shopping cart BBQ. I passed.

Homeless patriot taking a siesta. There were homeless dogs everywhere through out the city.

Christina phone home.

We took an excursion to Valparaiso. On the way we passed several world-class vineyards and wineries. Chile is basically the equivalent of California in South America. This area is their Napa Valley.

We stopped at a rural restaurant and tried some corn liquor called Cheecha.

Valparaiso was kind of like San Francisco. It is nicknamed “The Jewel of the Pacific” and was very interesting and had many colorful buildings.

Flee market.

The port of Valparaiso is also an important hub for shipping and exports of many products Chile is known for including wine, copper, and fresh fruit.

On our way out of Valparaiso we stopped to see a moai statue from Easter Island. This is one of six that have been moved from the island, which is 2,180 miles off the Chile coast.

We left on Independence day and it seemed the entire city was deserted. Above is a photo from the plane as we left Santiago. Because of the smog it was only time I saw the Andes even though they were right next to the city.