The title of this blog post feels dishonest because it doesn’t feel like winter in Minnesota at all. With temperatures in the 50s over the weekend, our snow has melted and the streets are a sloppy mess. Most people seem thrilled by this turn of events, I am not. I love the snow. I love bundling up in my homemade knitwear, hearing the crunch of snow under my feet, and feeling like I have the world to myself on cold winter days. I love the fresh blanket of white that changes the world and how my dog eats it whenever he gets a chance, like the world is his personal snow cone.
A holiday season without snow feels incomplete. Neighborhoods have been transformed with lights and decorations, but the holidays are missing a primary ingredient. While I wait for Santa to bring me some magic snow to make my holiday season brighter, I will continue enjoying the new world that Christmas lights have created for our evening walks. Hopefully Santa doesn’t wait too long to make my Christmas wish come true.
I love the holidays. One of my favorite holiday traditions is a new one, it’s visiting the American Swedish Institute for Julmarknad. The Best-Good Friend and I buy treasures made by local artisans in the craft market and then take our time exploring the Turnblad Mansion. During the holiday season, the mansion’s rooms are decorated to celebrate the holiday traditions of Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Sweden. This annual Christmas Rooms celebration is truly the “Only in Minnesota” holiday experience they strive for.
It was easy to get in the holiday spirit walking the rooms. Norway’s design screamed of holiday cheer:
And Iceland’s made me want to curl up by the fire with my knitting (do you see the sweaters in the picture?):
Sweden’s room made me think of the fairytale “The Ice Queen” that The Mother used to read me:
And I tried to figure out if anyone would notice if I took one of the straw animals home with me, aren’t they cute?
The Turnblad Mansion takes my breath away, don’t forget to look up because there’s more to see than the Christmas Rooms:
This tea set by Minnesota artist Marnette Doyle was on display in the sunroom. Isn’t it beautiful?
We wondered if we could recreate this look in our dining rooms:
Rain came to Minnesota this weekend. While I ran errands and thought of Marilyn Monroe’s breathy rendition of “We’re Having a Heatwave,” it seemed like the perfect weather to spend a little quality time with an old friend.
My spinning wheel has been sitting neglected for nearly a year. At some point, our old cat Virgil ate the drive band – that’s the string that makes the wheel turn. This is nothing new, in our house you have to watch anything with strings because Virgil will eat the laces right off your tennis shoes.
After a short tune-up, the spinning wheel was ready to go and by bedtime, I had spun, plied and wound a beautiful hank of green handspun yarn:
From that point on, the weekend was filled with fiber fantasies of wool, alpaca and angora. I see much more spinning in my near future.
Whenever I talk to people about how much I love living in Minneapolis, I tell them about how our fair city was built preserving green space. Because of that, this nature girl doesn’t have to go far to enjoy the outdoors.
The beautiful fall weather was perfect for a visit to Wood Lake Nature Center. This nature preserve isn’t in Minneapolis proper, but neighboring Richfield is as close to Minneapolis as a suburb can get.
The squirrels were busy hiding food; this has always signaled to me that cold weather on the way.
The breeze was refreshing and the sun was warm on my face:
One of the best things about living in the Midwest is fall. It has been a lovely one this year; the leaves are changing color, the air is getting cooler and animals are getting ready for winter. It is a beautiful time to visit the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.
We walked among the dahlias:
I was distracted by the busy bees:
And the butterflies:
The colors were so vibrant:
This flower looked like it was on fire:
Even though it was busy on the grounds, it was so peaceful:
The trees were beautiful, but “peak color” should be in a week or so:
It’s the time of year when I find myself pondering the question… could I run a marathon?
The Twin Cities Marathon is dubbed the Most Beautiful Urban Marathon in America and is one of the Top 10 U.S. Marathons. The 26.2 mile course runs through beautiful scenery (right past my house) and finishes at the state capitol.
This year, 8,858 runners finished the race with an average time of 4:18:34. Spectators lined up along the street to wish them well. I wondered how Asha and Chelsea felt when they passed the 14-mile mark; were they kicking ASSphalt or wishing they were drunk?
It was 35 degrees when the runners started out this year, I was still in my jammies and snuggled up in my robe. I wandered out to the race route late after spending a leisurely morning over my breakfast. When I watched the man run past barefoot holding his shoes and socks, I was once again reminded that being a spectator is more my style.
We celebrated the Labor Day weekend with a brand new tradition, The Van Heel Family Fish Fry! The Mother and I headed up to the family farm for an afternoon of fun and merriment.
I heard that the fish was fantastic but I was there for the other Van Heel tradition – the sweets.
It was a beautiful day to be out on the farm.
The Van Heels came from Holland and settled in Minnesota in the 1870s, this farm has been in the family since 1935.
I grew up hearing stories from my dad about his childhood days visiting the farm. He loved talking about the family gathering to play bluegrass music but I think his favorite memory was daring his brother to pee on the electric fence. He would laugh so hard telling that story, tears would come to his eyes.
By the time I was visiting, there was no more music making and I didn’t dare my brother to pee on the electric fence, but I have plenty of my own great memories too. Most of them involve the animals.
And I hope there will be a lot more memory making to come.
We finally had the opportunity to get out on the water this weekend and we had quite the boat for the ride. The Lady of the Lake is a paddlewheel boat that takes you on a tour of Lake Minnetonka.
Lake Minnetonka is the 9th largest lake in Minnesota. Its name comes from the Dakota language and means “big water.” It was my first time on this large and popular lake, I was glad that I wasn’t driving:
Everyone was out enjoying the beautiful day, even the dogs!
They took us through a hand-dug channel and we found some wildlife:
And we learned some of the history around the large estates that surround the lake and are built its islands:
We realized that we were being watched. Do you see what I see?
And we weren’t the only ones spending the day cruising! 🙂