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September 2008
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November 2008

October 2008

Happy Halloween!


I'm especially happy that today is Halloween because for the last month, I've used this photo as my screen saver and I have to tell you ... blown up large, those spiders ... as cute as they are ... are kind of creepy! These are coffee mugs that Kowalski's has for sale ... I'm hoping there is at least one left ... I'd like to get it when I stop in for my lunch this morning. I don't know why I didn't think to buy one for myself!

I pity the kids coming to our house tonight. We're having new siding put on our house and have a huge dumpster sitting in our driveway. You have to walk past it to get to the sidewalk. But by the time Bob gets done with it, I'm not so sure how brave some of those little kids will be! He has a fog machine ... he's always wanted one ... some colored lights and spooky music that he's placing inside. It'll be a scream ... literally!

This morning, Alex sent me an email from Djibouti where it is no longer October 31st. He was controlling gate access and his group said Happy Halloween to everyone who went through the gate. He said that some of the people looked at them strangely but most laughed ... and knowing Alex and some of his friends, it was probably a ton of fun to goof around and see the reactions.


If you have an hour, you could whip up this cute bag for trick or treating tonight! Its from Terry Atkinson's Happy Hour book. Bobbi made it for her granddaughter, Julia. Imagine how much cuter it'll be stuffed with candy tonight!

And if you have a few more minutes, whip up a batch of Vampire Cookies ... the perfect snack ... after it gets dark, of course!   VampireCookies 

Where do all the scarecrows go?


Don't you feel sad for those poor scarecrows on sale outside JoAnn's? They didn't make the cut when it came to selecting the best one this season. But they still maintain their happy outlook. How do they keep that smile pasted on their faces despite the rejection?


If you're one of the chosen, it isn't hard to sit on a hay bale surrounded by pretty mums.


Smaller scrarecrow cousins get to hang out in the mum planter ... but I don't know ... sitting on a bale sure beats standing up all day, don't you think?

While these happy guys are a delightful sign of fall, there's one other that doesn't make me feel all warm and cozy inside ... the mouse trap display at Home Depot. That's a sure sign that winter is rolling in next!


You won't want to miss our "Christmas in the City" bus tour!


The holidaze will be on us before you know it but wouldn't you like to ease into them this year? Well you can on Saturday, November 22! We've planned the perfect day out ... guaranteed to rev up your Christmas spirit.

What better place to start than the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis. Our private tour will take you through their annual holiday exhibit with its decorated trees and beautiful table settings. A second exhibit this year celebrates the life of Leroy Anderson who wrote the song "A Sleigh Ride Together with You" ... you'll be humming the tune the rest of the day! They have a wonderful gift shop where you'll be able to begin your holiday shopping.


Next, you'll be whisked away to Christos Greek Restaurant for an elegant, sit-down lunch. Once you step through the doors, you'll be in another world! Their beautiful white and blue decor is accented with tiles and shelves holding objects collected from Greece. Make sure you check out all the photos, too. The only thing better than the inside of the restaurant is the wonderful smells coming from their kitchen! You can choose from a pre-selected menu that includes items with interesting names ... such as Pastitsio or Spanakopita or a soup and salad combination that includes their Gyros salad.  


After lunch, it's back on the bus to 50th and Xerxes where you'll load your bags with gifts! Some of the places you can visit are The Loft Antiques, Shop in the City ... and my very favorite store, Hunt and Gather. (Scroll down to read more about this store!) There's a Dunn Brothers in the neighborhood if you need a little pick me up as well as a few art and furniture galleries.  Keep in mind that our bus has an area for luggage ... and we're not packing any! What on earth can we fit in there???

Our day of fun begins at 9am when our deluxe coach bus from Minnesota Coaches pulls up to the curb to pick us up. It'll end at 5pm when we return to the Cottage. Our fee of $48.75 includes your bus trip, lunch and admission fees. And maybe a few other surprises thrown in, too!  Bring a friend and your day and it's memories will be priceless! Space is limited so sign up soon. You wouldn't want to miss the one relaxing day you'll have all season, would you?


Hunt and Gather


I'd been wanting to take a little trip over to 50th and Xerxes in Minneapolis for quite awhile, so last Sunday, after I went to my fabric warehouse, I snuck a couple hours for myself and went  shopping.  This is an interesting area. It doesn't have all of the hustle and bustle of 50th and France with it's Anne Taylor and Pottery Barn shops but that's just fine with me! This corner has some interesting antique stores and a few gift/clothing shops, too. But my all time favorite is Hunt and Gather. Can't you just tell by the outside that it's going to be a fabulous place?


The rooms are filled top to bottom with 'stuff' but it's not just tossed on tables, it's displayed in great ways ... like this wonderful red wagon filled with apples and billard balls and flashcards.


I tried so hard to spell out Rosebud's Cottage from this bin of letters. Someone took all the stinkin' T's! I could have kept looking for them in some of the other rooms but I got so sidetracked by everything else. It was hard to stay on task.





It was hard to decide which way to look because each corner was filled with something I wanted. I thought about going back there today when I was in Minneapolis again just to get some of these colored pencils. They've been haunting me all week. Hmm ... can I justify one more trip?


Loved this easel but even more, loved the palette paper where a painter mixed and blended colors. This would be fun to own as is just for a conversation piece. In that same room were pots and vases filled with miniature flags.



Downstairs ... yes there was a second floor ... there was even more to look at. I have no idea how they were able to get some of these things down there ... low ceilings sure didn't help much.


The items in some of the displays had no relationship to the others ... like this one. There must be some meaning here. I found quilts and more  hidey holes filled with interesting doodads.



Don't you wish you could go to Hunt and Gather? Well you can! Make sure you read my next post!!


Where's the beef?


Welllll ... it's right in my freezer ... a fourth of a cow fresh from my friend Heidi's farm. Funny, that cow looked bigger in my mind!

My friend Liz and I had this wild idea last Spring when food prices just kept rising and people were getting sick from tainted beef ... let's buy a cow and split it.  Ya ... great idea! So I called Heidi because they're farmers, raise beef to sell and because I've sampled it in the past and know it's good. And safe. Vaguely gave some thought to where it would go when we got it home but back in May, that was the least of our worries. Our cow enjoyed a nice Summer on the farm.

Last week when Heidi called to let us know the cows were being sent to the butcher, our little agreement suddenly loomed bigger than life. Liz and I were on the phone constantly trying to figure out the logistics of picking up the meat ... even resorting to beginning and ending our emails and conversations with 'moo'. Of course, this week was already jam packed and we somehow had to fit a drive back and forth to Iowa into the scheme of things. Poor Liz drew the short straw. But her problems were compounded by the fact that her husband managed to get a huge elk on a hunting trip out west. She now had a freezer full of meat to contend with.

Both of us were having a hard time imagining just how big a cow is when its wrapped up in white butcher paper. And then we had all these choices to make ... steaks or roasts or hamburger patties? However you want it. Decisions!  We were  just a little bit disappointed not to be able to use our purse and glove patterns, though.

Many coolers and miles later, our cow is finally here in Minnesota today. Then the issue of how to get it in the freezer took over. First I had to clear out mine ... man there was some weird stuff in there. But now our cow is all neatly stacked and organized ... waiting for dinner some night.

There was one casuality of this whole adventure, however ... something that was tucked way in the back behind the veggies. (Sorry Alex. It won't be here when you get back.) Could someone pass the tonic and lime wedges, please?


Scenes from another continent.

I love how the internet lets us stay connected to those who are far away. It makes it seem like my boy isn't on the other side of the world, serving with the Marines on the continent of Afrika. I can go to my world clock and see what time it is and imagine what he's doing. He calls and we visit on Facebook or through emails. Mostly, though, I love to see what the place looks like because I doubt I'll ever go there, as much as I would love to. Look how bleak the landscape is ... it's Winter there now so the temps are in the high 80's and tropical because of the ocean. And to think, others pay thousands of dollars to escape the cold of Minnesota and  they get paid thousands of dollars to be there!
One of the things that unites us as human beings is that no matter where we live, we use color and art to make a place our own. The universal sign for 'don't do it' but I wonder what it means. Don't climb the tree? And look at the arches ... and the detailing on the wall behind the arch.
I wish I could read enough French to understand the sign. French is the language spoken here ... the area is a former French Foreign Legion military installation. This particular shade of blue seems to dominate in this region and makes me wonder if it's  influenced by the ocean nearby.
Educating children is important no matter where you live. So many classic items that you see in school rooms ... paper chains, desks, drawings ... student's work on display.
Basic instruction ... the months of the year. Look at the cute blue and green zebras! Kids always have their own viewpoint.
No matter where you live, home is important and is uniquely your own. I love how the doors of the houses are each painted a different color.
A monument that appears to be out in the middle of no where.

Here's one more photo that I can't quit looking at. Makes me happy to see my little boy interacting with some else's little boy. I sure do miss him but am glad that he gets to have an experience like this!
Alex in Afrika 2

Batiks ... luv 'em or hate 'em!


Ok ... I'll admit I'm not a fan of batiks ... even though I have pals who try their hardest to change my mind! It's something about the texture that bothers me the most ... but I think that has more to do with the quality of the goods rather than batiks in general. Or maybe I just haven't seen them in colors that 'speak to me'. But it could also be about the design ... I kind of like straight-forward things ... batiks are kind of abstract.

Recently I was at Quilter's Station and I have to say ... the impressive display of batiks at that store might tempt me to sway to the other side! I have never seen so many batiks in one place at one time. The owner told me she had over 1200 bolts in stock! Yike. So I took a little tour around the batik section.


It was like walking through sections of rainbows ... the store had them organized by color groups.


Some of the gals who meet at the Cottage on Tuesday have been working on batik quilts. Charmelle showed us an almost king that she made for her SIL ... I have to say ... I wouldn't be giving it away! It was an impressive quilt. Kathy is just beginning a complicated looking quilt also with batiks ... its going to be another stunner because the fabric really works well with the design ... kind of a contemporary style so batiks will be perfect. Those two have been trying to convert me ... talking about how easy they are to sew and press ... yadda yadda yadda. I mentally had my hands over my ears because I just don't want to hear it!

But ... I noticed in my shopping basket at the warehouse the other day that some batik fat quarter bundles just happened to jump in!!




We've got these crows who like to sit on our roof. So the other day looking out the bathroom window, I realized this is probably what they see!

We have a huge Sugar Maple tree right smack in the middle of our back yard. My mom gave it to us when it was just a whip of a tree. She had nutured it from some seeds that sprouted in our yard at home and gave it to us for our yard when it was a six foot stick. The year she died ... 16 years ago October 11 ... Teddy was 18 months and he collected all of the leaves it dropped in a little pail.

Today, it's a massive effort to clean up the leaves and compost them. There will be the preliminary raking ... and then as soon as it has been completed, the tree will dump another huge pile. Then some poor slave will have to go out and rake again ... and then in another week he'll give up and just take the lawn mower to them.

I always think it's fun to wait for the wind to blow them over to the neighbor's yard. They have all evergreens so they don't have to rake. Ha! Jokes on them when the wind blows!!  Their yard was immaculate last night. There was a slight breeze. We haven't raked yet. Wonder if I should go peek!