Christmas Lights on Winter Walks

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.

christmas lights

Swedish Christmas Celebrations

Julmarknad at the American Swedish Institute

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:norway christmas display

And Iceland’s made me want to curl up by the fire with my knitting (do you see the sweaters in the picture?):
iceland christmas display

Sweden’s room made me think of the fairytale “The Ice Queen” that The Mother used to read me:
sweden christmas display

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?
straw animals

The Turnblad Mansion takes my breath away, don’t forget to look up because there’s more to see than the Christmas Rooms:
ceiling lamp

This tea set by Minnesota artist Marnette Doyle was on display in the sunroom. Isn’t it beautiful?
marnette doyle tea service

We wondered if we could recreate this look in our dining rooms:
denmark christmas display

I love a display where squirrels are king:
christmas squirrel king

What are your favorite holiday traditions?
sweden christmas display

Spinning a Yarn

Back at the Spinning Wheel

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.
bobbin and flyer

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: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.


A Closer Look: Wood Lake Nature Center

Wood Lake Nature Center was one of the first nature centers built in the Twin Cities.
wood lake

Dedicated in 1971, it was once a recreational lake surrounded by homes.
wood lake

The lake was drained of most of its water in the 1950s.
wood lake

Friends of Wood Lake (FOWL) was formed in 1991 and thanks to their advocacy and fundraising efforts, Wood Lake thrives in Richfield, Minnesota.
wood lake

Approximately 72,000 visitors enjoy the 150-acre area annually.


A Wood Lake Walk

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.
fall leaves

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.
wood lake

The squirrels were busy hiding food; this has always signaled to me that cold weather on the way.
red squirrel

The breeze was refreshing and the sun was warm on my face:
wood lake

I caught this little House Finch bathing:
house finch

And wondered if anyone was home:

Fall in Love with the Arboretum

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:dahlia

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:

We lost ourselves in the woods:

The light was magical:

We couldn’t have asked for a lovelier day:

The Most Beautiful Urban Marathon in America

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.
marathon runners

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?
marathon fans

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.
marathon runners

Fall Escapes to the North Woods

Have I mentioned lately how much I love camping? We packed up the car and headed north for some scamping, it was our first visit to Big Bog State Recreation Area.
grassy views

It’s right by Upper Red Lake, Red Lake is the largest freshwater lake located entirely within Minnesota.
lake at dusk

The air was alive with monarch butterflies.
monarch butterfly

And something far more sinister. We watched this female Northern Harrier hunting along the shoreline for quite some time.
northern harrier

Fortunately she didn’t see this little guy.

The days were breathtakingly beautiful.
fall trees

And so were the nights.

Calling All Fire Trucks!

I love fire trucks. And I love parades. What could be better than a parade of fire trucks?firetrucks

In the late 1970s, Roger Jackson, a Burnsville resident and fire equipment collector started displaying his collection with the help of his friends. A great source of entertainment for local kids, it included a short parade of equipment down Nicollet Avenue.
firetrucks spraying kids

It was such a hit, the Burnsville Fire Muster & Community Celebration became an official city event. Its first Fire Muster parade was held in 1980.
antique firetrucks

It has grown to include more than 100 fire trucks from around the Midwest from antique horse-drawn hand pumpers (circa 1900) to the latest in firefighting technology.

In 2004 it earned a place in the Guinness Book of Records for holding the longest Fire Truck Parade in the World when over 120 trucks were present.
firetruck parade

For more information, visit The Burnsville Fire Muster.

Where’s the Fire?

Who doesn’t love a fire truck? How about a hundred fire trucks?  It was a lovely day for the Burnsville Fire Muster Parade!

The Mother and I have been attending this parade for longer than I can remember, it has always been a highlight of the fall season.

This year had new surprises, like the Ames Horses leading the trucks down the route!horses

And my absolutely favorites, the Zurhah Motorcycle Corps at the end of the pack!motorcycles

I even had a front row seat for their figure eight formation!

New Labor Day Traditions

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.
farm land

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.
farm land

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.