I made these for Christmas presents for the girls this year. Harriet got the santa since she is obsessed with santas and Eloise got the mouse. The santa took forever since there are so many little pieces to sew on, but it was well received so it was all worth it.
Although we decided we wouldn't subject Eloise (and ourselves) to much travel while she was small, we devised a plan to get back to the Milwaukee area to see my side of the family for Thanksgiving.
Harriet and I left a couple days early so we could break up the drive. We spent the first evening with our friends the Smith Family in La Crosse. Harriet loves their daughter Kya! We went out to a Mongolian bbq for dinner. And for dessert the kids made smores at the table. Pretty great time catching up!
The next day we spent the night and Thanksgiving morning with The Sauer Family near Milwaukee. They have two girls a bit younger than Harriet and they appeared to enjoy each other's company. It was wonderful to catch up with friends once Harriet went to bed through this trip, rather than sitting in dark hotel room.
Thanksgiving dinner was at my mom's cousin's house. They were very generous hosts to invite all of us. Harriet got to play with both my brothers and mom while I picked up Christina and Eloise at the airport (after their 50 minute flight). Lots of new faces and an opportunity for some hannukah present exchanges.
On Friday we had brunch at the Comet Café downtown with my dad. Then we meet Ari's family while Eloise napped and then meet some other friends before driving back. We made it just before midnight. Harriet literally watched cartoons the entire ride, while Eloise slept most of the time. Although a brief trip, it was nice to see everyone and the girls were very cooperative.
A little late here with this since it feels like it has been winter forever, but here goes! We had a great year in the garden this year. The neighbor's tree to the north of us was taken down in the spring and it shaded our veggie beds previously. I missed the shade of that tree every day of summer and fall, but there isn't much that could have been done since it was rotting. Good news from that though is that the veggie beds did extremely well. Steve had a bumper crop of peppers and my kale, basil and brussel sprouts grew insanely big. Also the herbs were usable until the first snow fall. It was wonderful. Despite the cool summer, we had a pretty good year with about 8 tomato plants on the side of the house, I forgot to take a picture.
Harriet made this little scarecrow named Polka Dottie in the fall and put her in the garden.
Pretty awesome haul on these delicious brussel sprouts! We also had our CSA again this year and enjoyed all the fresh veggies and fruits from that all summer and fall.
This kale was just awesome. I liked the texture of it so much more than the curly kale. It too lasted until the first big snowfall.
A really good year for the hops. We gave it all to our neighbors who brewed it up.
Steve canned a ton of peppers. We made an insane amount of pickles in many varieties with cucumbers from the farmers' market.
I have been knitting a bit more now that the garden is over and I have a bit more time inside. I made this little turkey and think it is pretty cute. Pattern here, Spud and Chloe blog posts with better pictures here.
I made this pumpkin for Halloween, but it is nice that it can stay out another month for Thanksgiving. Quite easy, Pattern here.
We are a little late on the family tree picture this year. Chalk it up to a very busy summer and just absentmindedness. No apples on the honey crisp this year and only one on the zestar. We were looking forward to eating it and had just seen it out there the day before, but when we went to pick it – it was gone. Sigh.
Things didn't look so good for our final check of the hives for the year. We haven't been up there for a while and it wasn't a pretty sight. One hive, the one that had been doing the best, was basically totally dead and so we combined the remaining bees with the hive in the picture above. Chris the beekeeper isn't very optimistic about this hive though and said that she expects them to die over the winter. What is the problem you ask?! Mites. On the picture below it is kind of hard to see, but there are little flecks of white in the comb, which means mites.
Here is the honey we took from the hives, not the best haul.
Winterizing the hive involves taking off the top boxes (aka supers) and putting newspaper over the top of the hive box before putting the cover back. Then we put this wax covered cardboard thing over the hive boxes to help insulate it a bit and plugged up the top holes. I forgot to ask, but I think we left the bottom entrance/exit open still.
Not all is terrible about this situation. It has apparently been a bad year all around for beekeepers in the region due to the chilly spring. If and when the bees die off we can get new colonies next spring and the comb is already made and can be reused for the new hive. They will not have to spend all of their energy making comb and will instead devote it to making more honey. This has been a great learning experience for me and I'm glad I took the leap and got into beekeeping. I have learned so much from Chris and it has been fun getting to know her.
Last weekend we went to our 3rd nature center in 3 weeks. It has been fun to check them all out. Although we didn't go for a hike at this one, we still enjoyed all it had to offer at the center. We sat in rocking chairs and watched the birds eating from the feeders, we watched a raptor eating a mouse for dinner in it's cage and we saw the other caged reptiles. The walls here are all really cool and in relief as well as interactive with little doors and slots. After this we went over to chutes and ladders, the massive playground, and it basically blew Harriet's mind.
Last weekend the Star Tribune hosted a get together for former employees as kind of a farewell to the building since it will be torn down next summer for the new Vikings stadium park. I had high hopes for the gathering, but it basically fell short because the event was kind of poorly planned. Basically very little time for socializing and most of the time was devoted to a bunch of speeches. No thanks. Here is a story about the reunion.
It was fun to catch up with a few of my favorite old co-workers, although most of whom I am still in touch with. We reconnected with one of our favorite managers, Ken (second from the right) though. It was great to see him.
It was fun to be in the building one last time and to commemorate it, we went down in the creepy basement and weighed ourselves as a group one last time on the giant scale down there leftover from long ago. It can hold up to 1000lbs.
We've had a lot going on for Halloween lately. I just happened to find that frog costume on Friday night, although she didn't go out trick and treating in it.
On Thursday night we continued our tradition of carving pumpkins with Becky and Raymond.
The week before we went to the community ed Halloween party at Southwest high school. I always had a great time as a kid and Harriet loved it too. We went with her friend Lucia and baby sister Soli. It was really hot in that gym! So many people!
Last weekend Harriet and I went to Calhoun Square for their Hallow's Eve event. There was a photographer who took pics of all the kids who were dressed up. Here she is flapping her butterfly wings. After this we went and rode the Transylvania Trolley at Lake Harriet, but I forgot to take pics! We have had a very busy week!
I have always loved Bjork's wacky swan dress from 2001. I made Eloise this little costume kind of like it and it was fairly easy. It consists of a pink long-sleeved shirt, some leftover tulle I had (from our wedding chuppah), and then I quick sewed the swan head and stuffed it with some filling. I hand sewed the swan head to the shirt and then did the same with the tulle kind of bunching it as I went. I did the same on the bottom to turn the shirt into more of a dress with tulle sewn all the way around. It total it probably took me an hour.
Last weekend we went to Wood Lake Nature Center in Richfield. I vaguely remember going here as a kid. It was great how close this was to our house and the hike was a little bit shorter than the weekend before so Harriet got less tired. They also have a fun nature center where kids can touch a lot of things and learn.
We went at sunset and it was just beautiful on the floating dock with cattails on both sides. Probably the last weekend with warm temps for a long time.
This fall has been one of the most vibrant in recent memory. The excessively wet spring has given way to the brightest leaves. I have been loving all the colors on my 15-minute walks at lunch during the week.
The view out our front window last Friday as I worked from home. So wonderful and vibrant.
Last weekend it was perfect fall weather so we decided to go some place new and head over to the Westwood Hills Nature Center and Reserve. It is on a lake and had some nice trails as well and some fun things for kids like this weird egg thing below, a stick tepee, some man-made climbing rocks and a playground. We were about a week late on the leaves around here, but it was so lovely nevertheless. I would love to go back there in the spring.