Skating: A New Year’s Day Tradition

Skating CollageWhen I was a little girl, I wanted to be a figure skater. It never happened, but I still love to go skating. It’s one of the reasons I love winter. So this year, I decided to make it a New Year’s Day tradition. This was our first year, so I don’t know if can really be called a tradition yet, but I don’t really care.

Our favorite place to skate is Centennial Lakes Park in Edina. Not only do they have a HUGE skating area (I don’t particularly enjoy skating in a circle), but the setting is lovely, it’s free (unless you need to rent skates), and they keep the ice smooth and cleared off with a Zamboni. Oh, and the warming house and fireplaces are pretty nice, too.

Do you have a favorite winter activity?

Let It Snow

12.9.12 caesar snowstorm It finally snowed. For real. We got a light dusting in November, but it was nothing compared to this. We got about a foot of snow (and these pictures were taken hours before it finally stopped.)

12.9.12 caesar snowstormI’m not one of those sad snow-haters. I’ve been waiting for it since the leaves started falling back in September. I’ve been daydreaming of frosty trees and slushy walks to Starbucks. I’ve been smelling the air and watching the clouds.

12.9.12 caesar snowstormI’ve never quite been able to explain it, but nothing brings me joy the way snow does. That’s not to say other things don’t bring me joy. It’s just a different kind of contentment and anticipation. Trees come close—especially in the spring when their leaves first pop out and the whole world seems green. And Lake Michigan on a warm day—that comes close too. But this . . .

12.9.12 caesar snowstormIt’s the kind of beauty that makes you ache because it’s just so pretty.

There’s nothing like standing outside at night and watching the snow, looking up as it falls, listening as a gentle hush descends on your little corner of the earth. Snow makes everything beautiful. It covers imperfections. It makes everything clean.

12.9.12 caesar snowstormSometimes at night, I wrap myself in a blanket, turn off the lights, open the window, and just watch the snow fall. (And sometimes I make my very patient husband do it with me. He must love me a whole lot.)

12.9.12 caesar snowstormIf you’re one of those sad snow-haters, I’m sorry. Not because it snowed—oh no—I’ve been praying and praying for that. I’m sorry because you’re missing the magic. The magic that makes you giddy and hopeful and excited. The magic that makes you feel like a kid again.

I know it’s easy to miss the magic when you have to get up early to clean off your car or it takes you two (or three!) times as long to drive home from work, but next time you’re out in the snow, take a second to breathe it all in. And listen to the sound it makes. That’s my favorite part.

12.9.12 caesar snowstorm

Taking the Dock Out of the Lake

We celebrated the beginning of fall with a trip up north to help Jonathan’s grandparents get the dock out of the water.

And it was a wonderful day to do it. Just kidding. It was 48 degrees, windy, and the sky was spitting at us.

cloudy-skyBut it wasn’t all bad.

fall_colorsHis grandpa had a knee replacement about a month ago and wasn’t able to get in the water, but Jonathan’s brother Christopher went up with us. Those are some sexy waders, huh?

wadersGrandpa gave orders. He likes to do that : )

I even got my hands dirty. See these pipes?

Grandpa handed them to me and I threw them in the pile. Some of them were taller than me, though that’s not hard.

And then we had a wonderful dinner. When we go up north, we eat A LOT. Food is Grandma’s love language.

I also got some work done. While we were up there, I finished Heiress by Susan May Warren and got some writing done. Yay for productivity!

Computer and papersAnother lovely trip to the lake . . .

fall colors over lakesunset over lake

Grilling, Deer Camp: The Musical, and Moving

Lately we’re . . .

Grilling with Jonathan’s friend, Josh. They’ve been friends since they were about five. Josh lives in a really old apartment downtown. Not only did we have a great Polish-themed meal (think kielbasa, pierogi, bread, and beer from the Czech Republic because we couldn’t find any from Poland), we got to hang out with a few of Josh’s neighbors and hear some great stories.

Seeing Deer Camp: The Musical for free. I love getting free tickets through Jonathan’s job. This production wasn’t that great, but it was amusing and I’m glad we went. It was stupid comedy, which I don’t usually appreciate. Though it could’ve been because I wasn’t drunk . . .

It did star My Brother Darryl and My Other Brother Darryl from Newhart.

And then we wandered around downtown for awhile. I love Minneapolis, but I’m not going to lie—this country girl is still afraid of walking around the city at night, even in a safe area when her big, strong husband is around to protect her.

Yes, that’s Mary Tyler Moore : )

And the Wells Fargo building, which is probably the prettiest skyscraper in Minneapolis.

Helping friends move. ALL day last Saturday. We’re pretty bummed they won’t be five minutes down the road anymore, but their new house is awesome. I probably should’ve taken a picture.

This is Jonathan and his brother Simeon taking a break from hauling boxes.

So that’s what we’ve been up to. This weekend we’re headed up north again. What’ve you got going on this first weekend of fall?

A Week-long Sister Date

I promise I didn’t mean to go a week and a half without posting anything, but you see, my sister came to visit. And it was kind of a big deal. We hadn’t seen each other since last Thanksgiving, and she even got brave and got on a plane (her first time) to come see me. So I figured she deserved my undivided attention.

She flew in on Thursday afternoon and I took that afternoon and Friday off work so I could soak up every minute.

Thursday afternoon we went for a late lunch and sacked out on the couch to watch Gilmore Girls, our guilty pleasure. We’ve seen all the episodes like a hundred times, and I have all seven seasons on DVD. Naturally, while we were at work, Sister spent all of her waking hours watching them.

We took the rest of her visit to show her (almost) all of our Twin Cities must-sees.

Friday we spent the day at the Mall of America, looking for the perfect accessories (Forever 21 is so cheap! How did I not know this?), visiting the aquarium (not worth  $20 ticket, but totally worth the $9 discount tickets we got), and searching Lego Land for the perfect little race car for Sister’s boyfriend, who is a racer.

Please forgive the awful photo quality. We were working with an iPod Touch and really bad lighting.

That night we went to the Sculpture Garden at the Walker Art Museum in Minneapolis. I KNEW she would love it, and she did. Here’s proof:

Okay, maybe that just proves she’d rather be the one behind the camera.

We spent Saturday at the Stone Arch Bridge and Sunday, after church (we even had her help with our Sunday school kids), we had lunch at Cossetta’s and went to Como Zoo.

What a blessing to spend so much time with my little sister : )

Date Night at Lake Harriet

I love Date Night. Since I started working full-time, Jonathan and I have set Friday nights aside as a chance to spend some quality time together after the stress and busyness of the week. I always look forward to it. To save money for our vacation next month, we decided to have picnic dinners at the Lake Harriet Band Shell, where they have outdoor concerts just about every night of the week all summer. And Friday concerts are usually followed by a movie.

So last night was our second concert of the season. And our first movie in the park. And let me tell you—I have a thing for watching movies outside. I’m not sure why. Maybe it stems from my happy memories of visiting the drive-in on our summer camping trips when I was growing up?

On my way home from work, I picked up potato salad and a rotisserie chicken (Byerly’s has them for $5 every Friday and I’d been talking about doing this for months), and dark chocolate almond cookies and strawberry lemonade from Trader Joe’s (best store ever!), and headed home to surprise Jonathan with a dinner he didn’t have to tag along to get.

Boy was I surprised when I got home and found he was already there and had bought me flowers.

And sparkling lemonade from Trader Joe’s. And a rotisserie chicken from Byerly’s.  So now we have enough chicken for an army (anyone got any recipes?).

Last night’s band was The Willie August Project, a group that plays “melodic modern jazz.” Jazz is not typically my favorite, but I enjoyed listening while I skimmed through old issues of Real Simple.

The movie was the main event for me. It was 80’s night, so we got to see Top Gun, a movie I had never watched until I saw it a few months ago on a local TV station (we don’t have cable) that plays old movies. But I didn’t mind watching it again. There’s just something about 80s movies.

I really love Date Night : )

Confessions of a Transplanted Michigander

It’s been almost three years since I married my Sweetheart and moved to the Twin Cities, and it’s been quite an experience. We ended up here because it’s where Jonathan grew up, and when he graduated (earlier than I did), he got a job here. Life in Minnesota is pretty different than it was growing up in southeast Michigan, and after reflecting on the differences, I have a few confessions—some serious and some not so serious . . .

1. Michigan will always have a special place in my heart, but I really do love living in Minnesota. And let me tell you, a one-bedroom apartment in a nice first-ring suburb of Minneapolis may be a little more than we’d like to pay, but we can get almost anywhere in the metro in about 20 minutes. At heart, I am a Midwestern girl. Michigan and Minnesota are both great states to live in.

2. I really miss Downey’s potato chips and Faygo pop. And it was impossible to find Paczki on Fat Tuesday. We do have Vernor’s here if you know where to look, and I usually get it when I’m feeling sick because that’s when I always had it as a kid. Minnesota does have a few yummy things, too—cheese curds, for example, which I had never heard of before moving here.They’re probably a Wisconsin carryover, but that’s okay.

3. I think Minnesotans talk funny. Sorry, Minnesota, but I’ll always serve casserole (not hotdish), love my [ant] (not aunt), play duck duck goose (not duck duck gray duck), and open the doorwall (not the sliding glass door). And you’ll never hear me say I’m “coming with” or telling you to “bring the blanket with.”

4. I’m always going to miss Lake Michigan. Minnesota’s 10,000+ lakes are great and all, and I love to head north to see Lake Superior, but there’s no comparison. I’ll take the glorious sand dunes over the rocky shore any day.

5. I’ve never been to Mackinac Island, and I was five the last time I visited the UP. I’m ashamed to admit this and hope to remedy the situation in the next few years.

6. I love Michigan winters. To be fair, I’ve always loved snow, so maybe this is a lame confession. But it gets too freaking cold in Minnesota. I never thought I minded the cold much til I moved here. And though the last two years have been weird (record high and low amounts of snow, respectively), I think the average amount of snow in each state is pretty comparable.

7. I use my hand to show people where I’m from. I’d never seen anyone do this until I moved to Indiana for college. People always joke about it, and I always feel silly, but it’s pretty useful : )

8. I love working five minutes from the Mall of America. (Actually, it’s closer than that, but sometimes finding a parking spot is tricky—like last Saturday when it took us half an hour.) I’m over the fact that it’s the largest mall in the US, but I love the convenience. That said, I often feel like an awful, materialistic American when I visit. But as long as I’m not spending $200 on a pen or $25 at the oxygen bar, I think I can relax a little.

9. I’ve learned Michigan’s weather isn’t quite as unique as I always thought it was. I’ve lived in Michigan, Indiana, and Minnesota now, and I know people from Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Iowa. And we all claim our state has the most unpredictable weather: “We always say in (fill in Midwestern state here),’If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes and it’ll change.'”

10. I was kinda shocked when I moved to Minnesota and everyone poked fun at domestic car companies and drove imports. Okay—that’s a gross generalization, but I was surprised when no one realized or cared how important the car industry is—at least in Michigan. Most people here haven’t grown up in a family that revolves around cars. And they didn’t cry when they saw this Superbowl commercial like I did. My dad is a mechanic. My grandpa and aunt retired from GM. My mom and uncle have spent most of their lives manufacturing car parts. My great grandparents moved to Detroit from Poland and worked on the assembly lines. The car companies’ struggle affects all of us. And all I ever hear in Minnesota is derogatory comments about “Government Motors.”

So there you have it. Have you ever moved to a new place and been surprised by how different it is? I’d love to hear your stories.