Celebrating Milestones

I’m celebrating a milestone birthday this year. I’m told that it’s a milestone because it has a zero in it, but it doesn’t feel especially extraordinary to me. According to my family and friends, this magical milestone means that my vision will soon deteriorate along with my confidence in driving at night followed unceremoniously by hearing loss (which I suspect my husband will secretly look forward to because my phenomenal hearing has always been my super power).

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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

Weekend Nonadventures

Monday posts are supposed to feature my weekend adventures but what do you write about when you finally catch up on cleaning and miscellaneous projects around the house? That can be an adventure in and of itself.

I tackled the housecleaning with gusto, finally catching up on Serial. If you haven’t been listening to this podcast, you should. Serial is a new podcast following one story over the course of the series; they are currently looking at the story of Hae Min Lee, a young girl who was murdered in 1999. As I listened, I wondered: Did Adnan commit the murder or was an innocent man in jail? According to the story, Hae Min Lee was a popular girl with a sweet and loving nature, but was she secretly involved with a dancing a midget who talked backwards? Or did Twin Peaks leave such an impression on me that I will always wonder when the Log Lady will make an appearance and tell me that the trees are not what they seem?

By the time I caught up on Serial, I was tackling my knitting, spinning and weaving materials. It seemed appropriate to start the audiobook Hit by a Farm by Catherine Friend because there was a picture of a sheep on the book cover. I was appalled by the number of UFOs (unfinished objects) that I found while I worked, even more appalled by the number that were stashed without patterns. While I listened to this Minnesota author’s tale of city girl turned farmer, I organized my tools, my yarn, my wool and gave knitting disasters new life. The skirt I knit last winter that looked obscene when I squeezed my as$ into it? It is now a lovely cowl. Sometimes you just need a little time away from a project to figure out the best solution.

When I started listening What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell, I was admiring my handiwork and finishing the Thanksgiving pumpkin pie. The house was once again clean, my stash and tools were organized and I had new hand knits to wear against the already frigid temperatures. Who says you have to leave the house to have a good time?

Ten Great Minnesota Winter Moments

With winter officially underway in Minnesota, I have been thinking about all of the things I’d like to do this season. I decided to look back at last winter for inspiration, here are some of my favorite moments:

The beauty of magical snowstorms:
snowy trees

Exploring frozen waterfalls, Minnehaha Falls changes completely during winter and you have the park to yourself:
minnehaha falls

Searching for Snowy Owls in Minnesota’s frozen tundra:
snowy owl

Braving the elements for photography sessions with The Husband:
winter landscape

Finding wildlife at Woodlake Nature Preserve:

Celebrating a Swedish Christmas at the American Swedish Institute’s Julmarknad event:
Julmarknad musicians

The Wedding of the Year. There will never be another wedding like this one, but thank goodness you can buy Buttercream Cakes for no reason!

The best Christmas gift ever: The Griddler. There were so many delicious sandwiches eaten last winter and so many more to come:

Christmas Cookie Bake-off with The Best-Good Friend. I must come up with a reason to do this more than once a year:
christmas cookies


Spending the day at the Minnesota Raptor Center learning about these stunning birds:
great horned owl

What is your favorite thing to do during the winter?

The Great Pumpkin

For Day Three of my Five Days of Halloween celebration, I bring you The Great Pumpkin. No, I’m not talking about the Charlie Brown Special, I’m talking about the big squash that is carefully selected for carving into the terrifying specter of Halloween night:


Mine is the one with the eyebrows.

When it comes to jack-o-lanterns, it is important to put serious thought into the pumpkin selected. For maximum success, it is best to have several to choose from:

Consider the pumpkin’s shape in addition to stem:

You know you’re on the right track if other iconic Halloween creatures are attracted to it:

Don’t be afraid to start carving your pumpkin without a plan, those can have the best outcomes. My dad taught me to add personal touches like eyebrows, mustaches and nose holes, I encourage you to do the same:


And never forget the best part:pumpkin seeds

Halloween Magic: CANDY!

When celebrating Five Days of Halloween, one cannot forget the candy.

I know that some people are opting to hand out healthy snacks nowadays, but The Husband and I are Halloween purists and go straight for the candy. Not only do we go for the sweets, but we buy enough candy to feed an army of trick-or-treaters:candy

Each Halloween season when we prepare to make our purchases, we have visions of costumed children coming to our door in droves. The reality? We’re lucky if we see 30 kids. That doesn’t curb our enthusiasm though because the best part about being an adult on Halloween is that you can eat as much candy as you want AND if you’re smart, you’ve bought all of your favorite kinds! Sure, half the fun of trick-or-treating is digging through your spoils at the end of the evening, but it’s kind of nice having your favorite candy in advance. And no one can tell you when you can or can’t eat it…. Come to think of it, I might have a little candy right now, it’s the responsible thing to do.

Halloween Magic: Flying Ghosts

Get ready for a spooky week here at Squeaky Green Machine as we celebrate Five Days of Halloween! What does it take to have a great Halloween? We have a few ideas that we’re ready to share!

Day One is about home decorating inspiration, allow me to introduce Frank the Flying Crank Ghost. This animated ghost was built by The Husband in 2009 and has been intriguing kids (and adults!) ever since:

Inspired by plans in Make Magazine, The Husband created a hybrid design of his own with supplies from the local hardware store, fabric store and Ax-Man Surplus for less than $80. Each year I love watching kids come slowly up the front walk, staring at Frank as he eerily moves in the front window. In all of the years Frank has been making Halloween magic, there have only been a few kids too scared to come knock on the door, I bring the candy out for them. More often, they are intrigued by him and ask how he works.

To make your own Flying Crank Ghost, visit Make Magazine.