Monday, December 31, 2012

End of year doings

Cleaning up my iPhone I realized I had some worthwhile photos to share from the end of 2012.

I took a quick day trip to New Ulm, MN in early November. While there my friend Ian and I ate some homemade German food, toured to Schell's Brewery and met a teen in a Burger King parking lot to buy an AT-AT and Millenium Falcon. Your typical Saturday afternoon.

The brewery tour was pretty fast. It's the second oldest family-owned brewery in the US. They have peacocks roaming the grounds too.

On the way home we stopped at Minnesota's Largest Candy Store. They also carry pork products, pies, apples, and the entire ceiling was covered in puzzles to buy.

When I was in high school I was lucky enough to see The Who play the album Quadrophenia. I couldn't help myself and went to see them do it again at the Target Center on 11/27. Pete and Roger still rock. After the show we watched some local musicians play the album The Who by numbers at 7th Street.

Harriet was very excited to put on her boots when it got cold in November. In early December we got a solid foot of snow and she got the chance to shovel for the first time. Such a little helper.

In mid-December I went down to Chicago to see some friends. Lots of food and sports.
Bulls vs. Nets at the United Center.

Packers vs. Bears at Soldier Field.

Burgers, Pizza, BBQ, and Hot Doug's (above).

On the first night of Hanukah we went to the Holidazzle parade downtown. Christina was marching so Harriet and I had dinner together, got some chocolates, then cozzied up in a heated tent to watch. Christina was in the very first group to walk past.

The following weekend all three of us went back to the Holidazzle to ride on the Twinkle Bus. Basically a city bus wrapped in LED lights and blasting holiday tunes.

Harriet loved it!

She was waving for the entire 30-minute ride down Nicollet Mall.

If you ever thought about doing a similar set up on your own ride, this is what the electrical in the back of the bus looked like. Per Christina's info, the Twinkle Bus is decorated with more than 23,000 LED lights, which consume a fraction of the power used by lights in the original Twinkle Bus. After the parade season, the metal frames that hold the lights in place and equipment inside the bus will be removed, and the bus will be returned to service.

Happy New Year! 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Hide & Seek holiday card

Our holiday card this year was just silliness. Steve came up with the idea and our inspiration was a scene in E.T. Some of you might be somewhat appalled by the number of stuffed animals in this picture, but rest assured, over half of them are mine or Steve's from childhood (note the carebears, lotsa lotsa legs,  ultimate warrior, etc.).

The back.

A little behind the scenes shot here. So we did two 'photo shoots' to get this right.  It was a little hard to art direct this while being a part of it. The first take was done by our neighbor and the second taken by our friend Elissa with art direction from Lucia (upper right). You can see a little bit of Lucia in our actual card in the upper left. An easter egg, if you will. Anyways, so Elissa stood on a ladder and then we were all lying on the bed in the guest bedroom. It was hard to get the lighting right so I did a bit of work in photoshop to lighten our faces. And there you have it.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Well well well, looks like I found a use for my unappreciated scarf after all, a mini snowman.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Trash into treasure

For a while now Steve has been looking for an old-timey frame for one of Harriet's 1 year pictures. This summer we found this gold one at a neighborhood garage sale. The size of the whole thing is about 21" x 17". We took out the painting (still available if anyone wants it; no takers?) and we got her photo put on canvas from a place online. Better late than never, I guess.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Warp & Weft

This past weekend Kristen and I took a Saori weaving class at the Weavers Guild of MN in the Textile Center. The class was 5 hours and it didn't seem like long enough. As with most classes that we take, we are now obsessed with it! It is a contemporary type of weaving founded in the late 60s in Japan. Basically weaving for hippies with a free expression, no rules, nothing-is-a-mistake attitude. This way of working was a bit hard for me to embrace since I like everything to be as close to perfect as I can make it, but eventually I just went with it. The nice thing about this type of weaving that everyone young, old, disabled or not can all enjoy it, it's very easy.

A close up of the beginning of my scarf. I brought a bunch of leftover yarn and scraps and it was fun to incorporate it into my scarf and also nice to get rid of it. I also added some of the cotton yarn (like what is shown) and wool roving and some spun milk that a classmate gave me. It is nuts/awesome.

The group of weavers. It was interesting to see the variety of work that came from the class. A lot of people made wall hangings. Perhaps it is the Scandinavian in me, but  I like to make things that are functional.

A section of Kristen's weaving. She mixed two yarns in a single row.

My colorful scarf, I love it! It is 9 feet long and I could have kept going, but the warp (string that goes vertically) ran out.

A close up.

Ready for wearing.

I had a little extra time at the end so I whipped out this toddler-sized scarf in about 20 minutes. As with everything I make her, Harriet doesn't want to wear it. When will I learn...

Thursday, December 06, 2012

After showing complete indifference to the slide for several months Harriet has become infatuated with it. She wants to go on it every day. It's pretty awesome. Especially since she constantly asks us if we built it for her, then promptly thanks us.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Link of the Month

One Geek's Mind is all over the place. But anywhere it goes I like it. Science fiction reviews, comic books, music, pop culture.

Friday, November 30, 2012

3rd Floor wrap up

I have no doubt that the majority of your are sick of looking at updates of this room, but a few people have asked for the last of the pictures, so here we go. In the cutting area, we put up a shelf from Ikea to house all of the buttons and scissors and things that cluttered up the tabletop before, but is stuff I use on a regular basis. I like the new open tabletop, which makes it much easier to cut larger pieces of fabric.

A before shot of this area.

After, picture taken in October, hence the pumpkin.

The other dormer before.

Now we brought up this chair for lounging since it was going unused after we took it out of the family room a year ago. Still have the same cool art that my friend Elissa made me for being in her wedding, almost 10 years ago. After all the moves I have made in the past ten years I am surprised they are still in tack. A bit hard to see in these photos though.

Obviously this is a picture from the listing before we bought it. A blank, popcorned slate.

Now, a new light fixture and a brighter, more cohesive. 

(Despite this post saying that Steve wrote it, perhaps you could tell, he did not.)

Friday, November 16, 2012


As you probably already know, I enjoy crafts that people double or triple my age typically enjoy. So I jumped at the opportunity to go up to a quilting retreat for the weekend with one of my neighbors, Kelly. This was a retreat up at the Long Lake Conservation Center in Palisade, MN (between Aitkin and McGregor if anyone has a clue where those are, I didn't-- and maybe still don't). 

This retreat is put on every year by a bunch of women who were associated with the, now defunct and unknown to me, Wayzata Quilt Emporium. They have been doing it for over a decade or more. In my head I had kind of imagined this would be a weekend of sitting around in a circle hand quilting and telling stories of yore with a bunch of 80 year olds about walking up hill both ways to school. Not the case – the majority of these quilters were around 55 or so and had the most high-tech sewing equipment on the market. No hand quilters in the bunch. Also the sheer volume of stuff these women carted to this thing was astonishing. I thought I was bringing too much when I loaded about 5 big bags into the car. Turns out I packed light, comparatively! We convened every waking minute in this 'lodge' where we sewed and ate our meals. We stayed in a dorm/bunk house a short walk away. We arrived Friday and left Monday morning, but the weekend went quick!

My project is over 90 years in the making, yes not a typo--90!!! My great grandma made these sweet 'flowers' some 90 years ago and then never got around to making anything with them. So about thirty years, my mom put together quilt, but used an ugly fabric on the back and polyester batting. So I ripped it out and started again with off white fabric on the back and now have to hand stitch it all and doing the binding on the end to finish it up.  Each one of these flower squares that I am stitching takes me around an hour and half (more with distractions). I like the direction it is going in though. Looks nice, but there are 30 squares and I just finished the 7th square.

A lot of people worked on projects other than quilts. I sewed some curtains for the playroom in the basement (photos in a different post), hemmed some of my dad's pants and started working on a new duvet for Steve and my bed.

This is my favorite quilt out of all the ones that I saw at the retreat It looks ever more awesome close up, made out of all batik fabrics. This woman was making it for a wedding present for her son and new daughter-in-law. It was very intense. I would say that 90-95% of the quilts I saw others making were not my style, but that's not to say that they weren't well made.

The Conservation Center is situated on more than 800 acres. Both of the full days we were there I took hikes around on different paths. This one is from a two-mile hike around the lake. Right before I took this, I saw two deer hopping by. I like how ominous this picture looks with the menacing trees in the background

Perhaps hard to tell proportions here, but this thing is huge! 15 people could easily fit in it. This would be awesome to put in the sod circle in our backyard.

Kelly and I went into the town of McGregor (I say town loosely, since it seemed like pop. 15) and drove by this nutty place. I told her that we had to stop and she willingly obliged. This place was a hoot (to use an old person-ism). It was called Molly's Mess and it was one of the craziest antique store experiences to date. I felt like I was on the show American Pickers. To say that Molly was insane would be an understatement – just like all the wacky people on the show. She even referenced how they might be coming up to do the show at her store. The place was just jam packed with stuff and you could barely walk. Each room opened up to another, even bigger room and it seemed never ending.

After one of the most bizarre transactions/exchanges of money I have ever had in my life, I acquired these new, little cuties. They will go on the wall somewhere I find space. They were four for $6! Although it kind of ended up being like $10, but with a handful of buttons in exchange for the change, still perplexed by how it all went down. Oh and she also wanted to throw in a cake container too. I passed.

Well there you have it. A fun weekend away quilting and getting to know Kelly better as well as meeting a lot of new people. Two weekends away kind of took a toll on Harriet and, in turn, Steve. Steve was really a trooper for letting me go.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Weekend Away

Weekend before last, five good friends and I went up to Ginny's family cottage. We had a wonderful time relaxing, chatting, watching movies, knitting (some of us), reading and also we went to the Glensheen Mansion.

I have always wanted to go and 4 out of the 6 of us had never been and the other two had gone a long time ago. We all loved every second of it. The mansion was exquisitely decorated and built to withstand just about anything since it was constructed with steel beams and a concrete floor underneath all the hardwood.  My favorite parts of the rooms were all the interesting and unique light fixtures, many of which were custom made. You can only go in with a tour guide and you can't take any pictures, unfortunately. A silly tidbit from the tour was that the second floor living quarters only had 1 shower (even though the parents and 3 daughters all lived on this floor), but women were thought to be too fragile and delicate to shower because the water pressure might bruise them so they all had to take baths and the shower was just for the man of the house.

Stephanie, Ginny, Erin, Me, Kristen and Kelsey at the mansion all bundled up for the chilly weather.

Sunday, November 04, 2012


So I am kind of breaking up the posts about the 3rd floor because if it were all in one big post it might be a tad much. The room is kind of broken up into three main areas: sewing, cutting and the office. This is the area I spend the most time in doing all my sewing. For the past four years I have been staring at the ugly popcorn on the walls and the joint tape separating from the wall. Clearly not a tragedy, but annoying and super ugly.

I started scraping one of dormers months and months ago, then it took me a while to mud it and then prime it. Then I stopped for a while, months later I got a bee in my bonnet and tried to convince Steve to help me. He wasn't interested in this idea so we hired a guy to do it instead. That was a smart move. After the scraping was completed, we primed everything and painted it all and have been reorganizing all the stuff and putting together the office. After that we tackled the sewing area.

This picture was taken in the winter of 2011. Stuff was all over the place with nowhere to go (and no time to organize it), but it functioned fine.

This is what it looked like after we organized everything (and I painted the chair). The scissors on the wall is our awesome find at the Detroit Lakes flea market that I mentioned in an earlier post. The desk is Steve's from college and, although not cute, worked fine with the oil-cloth door on top for more desktop space. We were going to leave it just like this until.... we found this desk in the trash in the alley:
This before picture actually makes it look nicer than it was, it had a lot of chipped paint and scratches all over the drawers. I really like the shape of it and also that it has a lot more storage with the three more drawers than the other desk.

I spray painted it all white (although in hindsight maybe I should have stripped and sanded the drawers on the left) and then used the same knobs, but spray painted them oil rubbed bronze (yes, I know, just like YHL). Something had to be done since someone has done a bad paint job on the wooden dowels on them before. I didn't want to spend any money getting new ones since they had a simple shape. It worked just fine.

This little sewing cabinet used to be my great grandma's and is still very functional. It appears to have been built by an amateur woodworker though, and isn't of the highest quality. Still cute though, but the stain was looking bad and a lot of nail holes need some filling. I know, I know, we watch Antiques Roadshow, I likely ruined any value of this heirloom piece by painting it, but I highly doubt it was worth anything.

Now white and with new handles that match the handles on the desk that is next to it.