Category Archives: Summer Lovin’

the gardens are happening

Every decent-weather weekend for the past couple months, I’ve been getting our flower beds back in shape. It has been a slow, but very satisfying process. Here’s a zero-skills map of our gardens:

hahaha, thanks Google.

Beds one and two are on either side of our front stoop. Three is the one beneath the kitchen window that I dug out. Four is on the east side if the yard, and five is down the steps next to our tiny driveway. Six is a future foundation bed that I’m going to slowly start building.

After the snow melted, beds one and two were in reasonable shape. I pulled out all the dead weed stalks and trimmed off the dried hydrangeas. There were bald spots on either side of the steps, so I planted lilies in each of them (courtesy of my coworker Paula).

Last fall I totally dug out bed three. On a random nice day in March, I raked it and tossed a bunch of pollinator seeds down. Those are growing in nicely, along with some ferns that survived my fall massacre. I moved the ferns to the back of the bed. On Sunday I added some ground-cover sedum, also from Paula; we’ll see if that takes root.

On the same nice March day, I raked out bed four and then proceeded to ignore it until this weekend. It was completely full of grass among the plants. Instead of digging out all the grass, I cut up a bunch of yard waste bags and laid them out, covering the grass while strategically arranging the paper around the plants. Big thanks to the internet for this tip! It suggested several layers of newspaper, but why track down that much newspaper when the bags are so cheap and biodegradable (and similar in thickness to 5 layers of newspaper)? Once the whole garden was papered, I watered it and then put down mulch. It looks so much better!

Bed five got raked out in April, and I pulled out the weeds a couple weeks ago. It got mulched this weekend, too, and I put up a little border fence (although I don’t love it and will probably replace it with something sturdier) to hopefully help keep trash out. Alleys are gross. Alleys in North Mpls are somehow extra gross.

I picked up a baby Knock Out rose bush on Sunday and planted it in what will be the eastern side of bed six. I also planted two irises along the wall there. I’m going to do the same trick with paper bags to get rid of the grass, which means those three plants are probably all that will go down this year.

At some point in the future, we’re going to build a couple small raised beds for veggies. Those beds will go near the fence-line on the north side of the yard.

Slowly but surely achieving #yardgoals, you guys.

 

another State Fair in the books

We survived another great year at the fair and, as always, ate more than is at all reasonable.  Most items are shared, but not all of them. We tried a few new foods this year, most of which were worth trying but are all ultimately not being added to the permanent list.

2016’s list of eats:

  • mini cinnamon rolls & coffee
  • mini donuts
  • footlong
  • cheese & meat samples
  • 3 types of jerky from The Jerky Shoppe
  • lobster roll
  • deep fried Snickers bar
  • porketta wings
  • Italian sausage
  • funnel cloud beer
  • 2 beer flights
  • candied bacon donut sliders
  • wine slushie
  • “Minnesota corndog”
  • frappe
  • corn fritters
  • fried green tomatoes
  • ice cream from the dairy building
  • giant turkey sandwich
  • all-you-can-drink milk
  • more beer!
  • cream puffs
  • 1919 root beer
  • double-decker s’more
  • deep fried nachos
  • cotton candy
  • another footlong
  • frozen banana
  • Kate & Mat got custard without us
  • Jim got a steak sandwich without us

MN State Fair 2015

Today was Fair Day. We arrived around 8am. Kate had to leave at noon; the rest of us stayed until the Gaelic Storm show finished at 10:30pm. We ate a lot! Here’s the ol’ list, in order of consumption. We didn’t get two footlongs like we normally do, but we tried a lot of new things so I think it’s a fair trade.

  • mini cinnamon rolls with milk
  • mini donuts
  • footlong hot dog
  • apple dumpling with ice cream
  • samples of Peace coffee
  • 3 types of jerky: cheddar, maple, & BBQ
  • corn fritz
  • snicker salad
  • chilled bread pudding
  • giant turkey sandwich
  • all-you-can-drink milk, both white & chocolate
  • chicken samosas
  • frozen cider
  • 3 beer flights: darker, belgian, & brewpub (Kate left after flights)
  • fried green tomatoes
  • raspberry mocha frappe
  • ribbon fries with cheese & sour cream
  • strawberry lemonade
  • deep fried candy bar
  • samples of cinnamon butter
  • lobster rolls with chips & iced tea
  • ice cream from the dairy building (this is when we stop for a while to rest/nap)
  • cream puffs
  • sweet corn
  • 1919 root beer
  • s’mores beer
  • maple bacon beer
  • leinie’s harvest patch shandy
  • cheese curds

I had my iPod with, running its built-in pedometer. I started it after we finished our cinnamon rolls, and stopped it at about 6:30 when we sat down to claim seats for the concert. In that time, we walked 18,750 steps. Success! Photos can be found on Instagram.

the landscape of an August day

Where did the past three months go? Summer, man. It’s a time-suck in all the right ways.

So I turned thirty, and a bunch of my friends have too since then. Good work, team! Way to be alive. Darren’s birthday is on Thursday so he’s throwing a big ol’ yard party at a friend’s house on Friday. We both have the day off work to “prepare,” a.k.a. sleep in and I guess buy some stuff to grill? Oh, and I’m making a cake.

Speaking of days off with Darren, our anniversary was a couple weeks ago. It was our 5th, and it fell on a Friday so we figured we should probably go big. Not all plans go accordingly, though. We were going to visit the MN Zoo, then the Mall of America, and end with a fancy dinner. Well. Did you know the MN Zoo doesn’t have giraffes? Listen, I’ve never been there but I’m sure it’s a great zoo. But the night before, we both agreed that the cost of admission (plus parking) was just not worth it and our money would be better spent elsewhere. We agreed we’d hit up the Como Zoo instead, which is close to home and donation-based. AND THEY HAVE GIRAFFES. Also a polar bear.

Except neither of us slept well the night before, so we slept later than planned, went out for breakfast, and decided to skip zoo-ing altogether. Everything else went as planned, though! We wandered the mall, bought some craft liqueurs, ate some Coldstone, and snarked on the weirdos. We took a couple hours to relax after that, then had an amazing dinner at Bennett’s Chophouse in St. Paul. So good, you guys. If you go, get the smoked salmon appetizer. Trust me.

Anyway, most of the rest of the summer has been relatively uneventful. Patios, a lake day, yard parties and bonfires — just trying to enjoy it while it lasts. The state fair is next week, which is the best thing about the season. I’ll be sure to post the list of gluttony.

The Baxter California Adventure

I never thought it would happen, but Darren and I just got back from a sunny, warm trip to California. It is unusual for us to do something so extravagant, but a good-sized tax return and some friends willing to house us – savings us a few hundred bucks, which we did end up accidentally spending but I’ll get to that later – provided us with the perfect opportunity.

This idea was actually born the night before Christmas Eve, when some of Darren’s internet pals came over for drinks. Paul and Aleecia are from Eagan, but moved to Orange County last year after Paul got a sweeeet new job. Come out and visit us and we’ll go to Disneyland, they said. And so we did.

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Fair Day and other things

It’s nearly September and I’m a little hurt by that. I do love fall, but it’s a bit spoiled by what comes after. That said, the end of summer means one big thing: the Great Minnesota Get Together. That’d be the State Fair for you non-Minnesotans. As has been tradition for the past decade plus, I went with Kate, Kelsey, their father, and of course Robin. Kate’s boyfriend joined us for the first few hours and did very well.

We spent about 14 hours there, although about an hour of that was spent taking our customary nap/break behind the dairy building. At the end of the day, it all comes down to one thing: the food list. What did we eat this year? Let’s see…

  • Cinnamon rolls w/ milk (or coffee)
  • Mini donuts
  • Footlong
  • Beef sticks
  • Giant turkey sandwich
  • All-you-can-drink milk
  • Lemonade
  • Beer gelato
  • Four beer flights
  • Fried green tomatoes
  • Pretzel curds
  • Oven fresh brownie w/ milk
  • 1919 root beer
  • Sweet corn
  • Corn & blue cheese fritters
  • Coconut macaroons
  • Cream puffs w/ milk
  • Sweet corn ice cream
  • Lobster roll w/ fries
  • Dairy barn sundaes (or a cone)
  • Deep fried Snickers
  • Porketta wings
  • (Kelsey and Robin had schnitzel strips without us)
  • Another footlong
  • Red velvet funnel cake

Over all the summer has been pretty standard. The annual Ladies Cabin Weekend happened at the end of July. My oldest brother, Cody, got married at the beginning of August, then Darren and I celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary a few days later. Probably the most exciting thing is learning that I’m going to be an aunt again – Kyle and Jenna are expecting a wee one in March. Hooray! I’m going to teach him (or her) all about Doctor Who and musical theatre. Nerd child.

I started going to yoga last week and it’s one of the best thing’s I’ve done for myself. Once upon a time I did Core Power’s free week, but most studios are so expensive to join and even drop-in classes are spendy. Since then I’ve practiced a little at home, but mostly just in the form of simple stretching. Tula Yoga & Wellness in St. Paul is donation-based, so you can take most of their classes for as little as $5. They also have aerial yoga which I am excited to try eventually. /accidental commercial

documenting gluttony

So, the State Fair happened. Actually it is happening now, but we – the Wulfs and I – went on opening day. We looked at stuff, but mostly we ate, as per usual. Let’s see if I can remember everything we had.

  • mini cinnamon rolls
  • footlong hotdog
  • mini donuts
  • three flavors of beef jerky/sticks
  • fried green tomatoes
  • 1919 root beer
  • bacon wrapped shrimp (on a stick)
  • two beer flights
  • bloomin’ onion
  • Tremblay’s chocolates
  • all-you-can-drink milk
  • Turkey to Go sandwiches
  • sundaes from the dairy building
  • lobster mac & cheese
  • coffee/tea break at one point
  • cheesecake on a stick
  • dosant/cronut
  • porketta wings
  • sausage on a stick
  • cannoli
  • double bacon corn dog
  • english toffee fudge puppy
  • more beer
  • sweet corn ice cream
  • cream puffs
  • bull bites
  • some kind of delicious sandwich
  • second footlong

I think that’s the complete list? Close to it, at least. My vote for best new fair food goes to Mancini’s. They serve the sausage on a stick and the porketta wings, plus a bunch of other probably wonderful meaty items. Skip the bacon wrapped shrimp. The lobster mac was pasta, a little bit of lobster, and what we suspect was nacho cheese. Meh.

I am already looking forward to next year.