elizabeth_mn: (seaside)
If it's not obvious, "Up North" is the local catchall phrase for basically any rural place you go in MN for outdoor fun, usually north of The Cities, but not always. We went to the North Shore of Lake Superior, an always beautiful, always fun, always popular vacation spot. The whole area is just full of ridiculously beautiful scenery like this.

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More, with lots of pictures )
elizabeth_mn: (seaside)
First all the slippers I made this year.

The chunky clogs came out pretty nice and I think they were well liked by the recipient.

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My HB got these felted slippers. The sizing was good but the two layers do not like to stick together and they shift and slide around. Fiddling with them is required before he will wear them for real. :P

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The fluffy bunny slippers came out a little big but she can grow into them. And so cute!

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I made a big dinner for all of us. I roasted some chickens (this is the time of year when my vegetarian household binges on meat) and made butternut squash and rice pasties.

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I was very happy with this scrumptious puzzle I received and have been spending hours doing it. I love puzzles!

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I also got a great fashion plate book.

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As well as several novels and a copy of How To Be A Victorian.



I am very skeptical of pseudo-history books like this, but this one looked good and everyone I know is reading it, so I put it on my list and my sister picked it up for me. Looking forward to it.

One other gift I am really pleased with is a new perfume from Love and Toast. I find most perfumes cloying and horrible and headache-inducing, but these are natural and mild and lovely. Last year I got the Paper Flower scent and this year I got the Sugar Grapefruit. Yum!
elizabeth_mn: (seaside)
So this is what we woke up to today:

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It's not officially the first snow, but it's the first snow of any real consequence. We got a dusting on Thanksgiving but this is about 3" and it's still coming down. Maybe up to 8" by Wednesday!! Yay!

Apparently this is "Winter Storm Delphi" happening (are we seriously giving every storm a name now?) but it's not stormy here; there's no wind, and the snowfall, while constant, is gentle and soft.

It reminded me I still haven't shared photos of a day The Girl and I spent in the park a few weeks ago, in early November. We took advantage of a beautiful late-autumn day and went to Hidden Falls park, a little bit of nature in the city.

The leaves were all gone by this point. I love the autumn color, but there is also something beautiful about the bare trees. And when all the undergrowth dies off for the season it's easier to walk off the paths.

The warm sunlight coming through these trees makes this day feel like ages ago! But it was only three weeks.

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More! )
elizabeth_mn: (seaside)
The Girl had her 6th b-day on Monday, which also happened to be Labor Day. That combined with school starting soon meant we decided not to throw a party, and instead we just took her on a fun outing and had her favorite dinner and cake at home.

We left early to go to Como Town, the little amusement park next to the free city zoo and conservatory. We went on rides, ate mini donuts, and went over to the zoo to see the Sparky the Sea Lion show.

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I let her drive the bumper car. Mostly.

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more! )
elizabeth_mn: (seaside)
Okay, let me preface this with the fact that the Minnesota State Fair is a Big Deal. My friend wikipedia tells me it's the largest state fair (by average daily attendance), and my innate home-state pride tells me that it's definitely the best one.

People love the state fair here. We love all the exhibits, the funny and beautiful and strange ones, we love rides, we love the music, and we especially love food on a stick. Seriously, you can put ANYTHING on a stick here and people will be lining up to eat it. Bonus points for deep-frying.

So, yesterday we all went. It was opening day, gorgeous cool weather, and totally mobbed. There is SO MUCH to do out there, we could never get to it all. As it was, we got there around 9 and didn't leave until almost 6. The day just flew by! Plus I felt like I was taking pictures all day and I didn't even capture half of what we saw.

The first thing I like to do is always check out the Creative Activities building. There are zillions of categories, including beadwork, embroidery, sewing, knitting, crochet, scrapbooking for some reason, wood carving, boat building, lacemaking, quilting of course, and dollmaking. (There is a ton of baking and canning too but I usually skip that.)

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Nerd crafts were much in evidence.

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LOTS more - seriously, it gets long )

There is so, so much more that we did that I didn't photograph, and so much more that we DIDN'T do!! We missed the butter sculptures, most of the Fine Art, and the show with the guy who jumps rope on a unicycle. One day is just not enough to see and do and eat everything you want. We were wrecked by the time we got home. But we had a really great day!
elizabeth_mn: (seaside)
I don't know if you guys all have this where you live, but up here, the family cabin is a Thing. And it's not usually an actual cabin, it's usually just a house, in some small town, in a rural area. It's almost always near a body of water, it smells slightly like mildew, and you spend your weekends there when you want to get out of the city.

Our family doesn't really have a cabin, but my uncle has a place on the St. Croix river, about a half hour's drive from the city. It was my grandfather's house and now my uncle has inherited it and lives there, and we tend to gather there in the summer for barbecues and such.

My uncle was out of town when my sister flew in, so she and my mother planned to stay at the house for a couple days. The Girl and I decided to come down and spend a couple days with them having Summer Fun.

Here's the view from the house.

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Goofing off with The Girl is the best!

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Two long flights of stairs take you down the bank to the river.

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We swam, of course. And took a long beach walk and explored.

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More! )
elizabeth_mn: (seaside)
The day started out a little rocky, with everybody being crabby, especially me. But eventually we got mobilized and started out on the road.

All ready to go!

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We took the interstate to Reproduction Fabrics, which turned out to be a pretty tiny shop in the second floor of a bank and office building. I would never have found it if I hadn't been looking.

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Read more... )
elizabeth_mn: (seaside)
This weekend we got the tree up and the rest of the decorations; the outside lights are all up and I got some new lights for the fabric garland. Here's the tree this year. Those of you with kids will understand why the bottom half looks like it does.

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I would love to make some more ornaments but I think I am out of time. I still have several gifts to make: jammies, some dolls, an apron. I have one last house decoration in progress, a yarn wreath, and I'm determined to finish it, even though wrapping the yarn is so tedious it makes me want to scream.

I am enjoying the sewing break. I'm funneling the creative energy into lots of crafts and house stuff. As much as I love costume sewing I know I would burn out really quickly if I didn't enforce breaks like this. I'll get serious again in January.

I've also been practicing some christmas songs* on the piano. I've been learning Deck the Hall since August, and finally it's sounding okay. Yesterday I decided I would try the Twelve Days of Christmas (a very easy version!). I know my sister is dying to have a corny family singalong. So hopefully I can pull this together by the time she gets here. We will also be singing Home on the Range, even though it's not a christmas song, because it's the only other singalong song I know how to play. And because we are goofy.


*secular only, obvy, since we are godless heathens.
elizabeth_mn: (seaside)
The birthday weekend was a bit of a whirl. I forgot to post about it because I've been recovering! But here we are.

I wanted to do party favors this year, so F and I made some ribbon wands.

I read a few tutorials for these, and my favorite idea to attach the ribbons was to use an eye-screw. So I cut the dowels into 12" pieces, screwed an eye-screw into each, then we painted them with some metallic gold craft paint that I just happened to find in the basement. It was a little old and clumpy, but we stirred it up and it worked.

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For each wand, I cut two 2-yd lengths of ribbon, folded them in half, and tied them onto the eye-screw with a larks head knot. A little blob of hot glue kept them in place. Done!

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All the kids loved them. So did I!

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For cake I made chocolate with white chocolate frosting and strawberries, as requested. Holy crap was it good.

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And we played in the backyard, just keeping it mellow. Pretty nice. Cake, sunshine, and beer (or lemonade) is all you really need.

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And now my girl is FIVE!! What happened?

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elizabeth_mn: (seaside)
It’s December, and I am switching into full-time Secular Christmas Mode. For the next 3 weeks, I am going to focus (almost) exclusively on making gifts, decorations, cookies, and all the rest. I will be sprinkling glitter on pretty much anything that doesn’t move.

We are not a religious household, and I wish I had a better name for our favorite holiday than Secular Christmas, but there you are. I don’t. And since “Christmas” is the word everyone else is using, I figure I’d better just go with it.

I identified as pagan for many years, and now I think I’m too lazy to continue doing that. My husband is into meditation and believes in angels and the sentience of rocks, so we don’t have an atheist household, really. I tried for a long time to morph my Christmas around my beliefs, but it always felt a little false.

Now we just have a totally godless holiday. It’s about lights and glitter and songs, family and friends and good food. It’s about gifts and cookies and time off work. It doesn’t need to have a specific spiritual component. I can put that elsewhere in my life.

I love gift-giving (and, of course, receiving, too) and I’m striving to create a balance between the joy of gifts and my non-materialist values. Gets me thinking about work, family, money, life, and the Inter-Connectedness Of All Things.

I bought a chair recently. (Please bear with me, I promise this is going somewhere.) Now I really didn’t have this chair in the budget, but I’d been ogling it at Ikea for months, and finally I just had a spare hundred burning a hole in my bank account and went for it. And it’s nice, and I think I needed it, and I don’t regret it.

But.

It has served as a reminder to me that it’s better to use your money on experiences than objects. Christmas coming up makes me think about this anyway. There are about a bajillion things I would be buying right now, for myself and everyone I love, if I had a little bit more stable work. But the things, they weigh you down after a while, and the shine gets dull, and the rush of something new fades. But experiences last longer.

I know, this isn’t new. We all know this, right? But of course,I forget. And of course, I love having things. And I think I’ve gotten pretty good at choosing things that provide enjoyment that lasts. But I feel like I want to re-prioritize and put experiences a little higher.

To sum up, I think I should put more money/time/effort into travel. Travel for fun, for costume events, to see things, to do things, with family and without. And doing things in my home city, too.

Also, I just can’t wait for Secular Christmas!!
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