Saturday, June 30, 2012


Oh! I had a post topic all lined up for today, and then my friend Sara went ahead and dangled raspberries in front of my nose.

I went over to her house to check out her garden before we went out to lunch. She has a big fenced-in backyard and oodles of gardening energy and ideas to go with it. I love to see it evolve - see last week's post about appreciating gardens so much more now that I'm trying to keep two window boxes going - and I can't wait to see the space in one year and two years and five years.  (If this is all sounding a little bit familiar to you, you 1) have a really good memory and 2) are probably thinking of last year's visit.)

Today I stepped into the backyard, and my eyes went directly to two huge bushes next to the garage.

Like this:

What are they?  They're raspberries, a gift from Sara's neighbor, and they are going hog wild back there.  (That's two uses of "hog wild" in a week here, I think. I'm going to keep that going.)

Closer, now. They're like little lights, no?

And very close!

It made me remember right away my grandparents' raspberry bush in their backyard, where it was always worth battling vicious insects to get in and pick a handful or basket of berries.

Consider a raspberry plant added to the list of features in my future home and its garden.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Friday night at the ballpark

This evening at Miles and Laurel

The view in front of our seats:

The view behind our seats:

An added bonus: Seeing a bunch of friends at the stadium!

A second added bonus: Coming home to this guy, who modeled his frozen bandana for the camera earlier today:

Happy Friday, Reader!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The only sign...

...that Wish did set foot in a pool again:

No other photos, but he did stay in the pool longer yesterday and also was standing in the pool with the water almost up to his belly.  Progress!  My favorite part about Wish in the pool is that when he moves around, he walks vvvvvery slowly, as though he were wading through cement or Jello.

And then he tried on a t-shirt.

I had pulled the t-shirt out for a craft project, but this was a slight detour. It happened because I read an article recently about sun protection for dogs that suggested putting a shirt on a short-haired dog. And also doggles, which are apparently dog sunglasses. Wishy obviously does not fall into the category of short-haired dog, but he definitely needs some doggles, especially if they look like Ray Bans as they do in my mind. (Dog owners, can you enlighten me?)

The weekend is almost here. I am trying a recipe for iced coffee for the first time, because this week's temperatures were not congruent with a piping mug of java. I am heading to a Twins game and a water park, and I plan to make some 101 in 1,001 progress. I also have 14 miles on tap and really need to procure another watermelon before that run is done! (And possibly fill up the aforementioned pool again, too.)

I'll say goodnight with my favorite sidewalk chalk art of the week. Hot dog!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Wish's first pool party

Okay, if you're friends with me on Facebook, you might have already seen the snapshot.  But I thought it was appropriate to report on the event at Miles and Laurel, as it is one of Wish's firsts - and considering this week's impeding stampeding temperatures, too.

Both before and after we adopted Wish, we read quite a bit about the Keeshond breed. It's almost more fun for me to do that now, especially when certain behaviors get confirmed as breed traits. Several articles have cautioned how hot the Keeshonden can get in the summer - they are, after all, wearing a big fur sweater. A couple of them even noted that many Keeshonden enjoy hopping in a kiddie pool during hot summer days!

I told Josh that, and I think we exchanged dubious looks. This dog - the pup who purposely goes around sprinklers - wants us to buy him a pool?

We were skeptical but couldn't let the idea go, because Wish really does get hot enough outside in the summer that it was worth a try if this might make him more comfortable. Every time we talked about getting a pool, I noted that at least I would use it in the summer, even if Wish didn't, so it wouldn't be a dire waste.

And then yesterday I got this text with a picture, with a little image in the corner that looked like Wish's fur: "Mr. Wish is jumping out of his pool. He's not too sure about it yet."

I scurried home, as anyone who got a message of this nature would, and found a little inflatable pool in the yard. I couldn't wait to see the pup in action.

Well, lack of action.  It took a couple of treats to lure Wish into the pool with me.  I think he did hop into the pool once on his own (sans treats) and he did just stand in there peacefully for a few minutes, which I take as positive signs, even if he wasn't flopping around gleefully and wildly.

I love inventing captions for his expression.
So there's hope yet.  I think there's even a chance he might morph into a pool fanatic as early as tomorrow, when the mercury is predicted to hit 97 degrees. Heck, at least now you'll know where to find me this summer!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Marvelous Monday: Week 26

When I started attaching the week number to Marvelous Monday, 26 seemed very far away. I can't believe this week marks halfway through 2012!

Celebrate with a cloud photo from last night, shall we?

You know the drill! Five marvelous things about today, the weekend and/or the upcoming week. Go!

1) It's almost the end of June, but I tried a new recipe last night to successfully keep up my streak for the 101 in 1,001 project! This one was from Iowa Girl Eats, a great blog with wonderful recipes. I tried caprese lasagna with spicy turkey sausage and loved it. I also think it was my first time making a white sauce - whisking the flour and the butter and all that - and that was more fun and less scary than I thought.

The spicy sausage was, as the recipe notes, a good contrast to the tomatoes, mozzarella and basil.  And guess what?  Wish was so sweet - he kept coming into the kitchen to see if I needed help cooking the sausage!  He is so kind.

Just say the word and I'll be there. Scratch that. Don't even say the word.
2) When I was in Arizona back in March, I had a prickly pear margarita at a restaurant one night, served in a mason jar. I think beverages in mason jars are all the rage in the foodie world right now (forgive me if it's an outgoing trend already, okay?) because of they are fun and retro and nostalgic. It does add a little bit of a festive feeling to a summer lemonade or mint fizzy. How do I know that, you ask?  Well, I definitely bought one little mason jar the other day in what I'm sure was the canning section of the local grocery store. And I am quite enjoying it, even though one member of my household (not Wish) quite enjoys teasing me about it.

3) I have a Twins game and a possible water park trip on the horizon this week!

4) My mopey window box, which I've over-chronicled lately, has two flowers blooming on it now.

5) And three cheers for a training plan that calls for speedwork on a Monday that dawns 58 degrees and breezy instead of later in the week, when the predicted low could be more than 10 degrees higher!

What's marvelous about the start of your week, Reader? Are you loving the summer heat, like I know my friend Nat is?  Any new recipes or books you're loving?  Share, share!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Embracing the season

Yesterday was the first day of summer!

Even though yesterday was just the official kick-off, I have been appreciating many of the season's hallmarks already:

  • the long, long hours of daylight
  • how easy it is to go for a walk or run (no bundling required)
  • the green scenery all over the state
  • the bounty of produce in the stores and at the farmers markets
Also, I remember a conversation Josh and I had back in January or February about getting a dog, and he one person in the conversation said, "Shouldn't we wait until spring when it's warmer?" and the other person said, "No, no, we can get one now! It will be fine!"  It turns out that it has been so much easier to get Wish settled into a routine (especially with his walks) in a season when we aren't fending off icy sidewalks, blizzards, and windchills.

Anyway, I am definitely not here to talk about windchills today.  Blech!

Today at about 3 p.m. I realized that, completely unintentionally, I had gone hog wild embracing the spirit of the new season, ending up with a list of activities that my January self would approve enthusiastically.

1) I woke up, rolled out of bed, and went to the farmers market for the first time this year. Because my basil and mint stock was recently depleted, I left the market with monster bags of them, plus a bunch of zucchinis for two recipes I'm eyeing for the week and a big, big bouquet of blooms.

2) Then I realized that the recipe that called for basil called for eight leaves of basil, instead of the 8,000 I had obtained. And - too bad - I had to make pesto for lunch to use for caprese sandwiches. (Cue the violins, right?)  If you were over at M&L last summer, you know that anything caprese is a summer staple - meaning that it feels like I wrote about it a bajillion times. It feels good to get back to caprese and good to have found and practiced a pesto recipe enough to make it feel doable.

3) So, that mint? I bought it on a whim. I spent a few minutes googling fun mint recipes. Then I disregarded all of my ideas and made my favorite summer beverage: the mint fizzy!  It's club soda, a dash of sugar, muddled mint and lime juice. To make it extra-fun, I put the glass in the freezer earlier in the day so it's frosty and pretty when I want it. (My dad taught me this trick for root beer floats.)

4) And then Josh and I were at Target, and I ended up bringing home a watermelon!

After dinner, I am planning a little walk with the pup and then some reading, possibly outside, if I want to really conform to a summer routine. I have one more kitchen project for the evening, too - the temperatures are supposed to soar again this week and I'm trying to get the oven's work out of the way before that happens.

Hope you had a wonderful weekend!  I still have some mint left over.  Any ideas to share, besides making mint fizzy after mint fizzy?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Weekly Wish

If yesterday's post was flora-focused, it makes sense for today to be all about the fauna, no?  It's time for the Weekly Wish Report!

Yesterday, Wish was a little bit under the weather - nothing too serious, just a little mopey and not very hungry, perhaps because of an unidentified object he gobbled up off the sidewalk the previous day before I could thwart his plan. (Argh.)  When I got home from work, we packed up a blanket and some reading material and went to a city park, sat down under a tree and spent a couple of hours outside on a wonderful summer afternoon.

"Anytime for a belly rub, please"
You know how sometimes when you're a little bit sick, you just need a little extra TLC?  That was Wish. Sitting outside with a light breeze ruffling his fur and intermittent belly rubs rapidly restored the spring in his step.

The unexpected benefit: what I had thought was simple outdoor leisure turned out to be really good practice for his training.  He got to plop down in a relaxing, comfortable setting and watch walkers, dogs, cyclists, and loud trucks pass by without trying to decide whether they posed threats.

The other hidden benefit: he sat still for a photo shoot that turned out to be on par (in quantity) with a high school senior's graduation picture session. I couldn't help it!

Two of my favorite things: the pup's ears and some clouds.

Then, when we got home, I was in the kitchen and heard a THUMP on the other side of the counter. What on earth? I looked over the counter and saw that Wish had retrieved a real baseball, instead of his soft toy baseball, and had dropped it on the tile to proclaim himself ready for fetch. I found the toy baseball, and he decided to hog both. Little Critter was back in the game.

There's no doubt about it: we'll be paying many visits to the St. Paul parks this season.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Friday's flora

I may have spoken too soon.

Here's what I saw this morning when I went outside for my run:

Don't let the streaming sunlight fool you. This window box is not looking good.  Too much rain?  Too much sun? What is going on here?

The window box I just switched to the shade was a tiny consolation (and a stark contrast):

Because of this summer's foray into flower-nurturing, I've developed a keener appreciation for flowers around the city.  I like them even more than I usually do. I was thinking this morning that part of the beauty to me lies in the fact that some of the gorgeous flowers are clearly the product of lots of work and love, and others spring up in alleys and along walls with what seems like no effort or tending at all.  That balance is so intriguing.

Of course, I especially love that there are so many colors out on the city streets right now.

And the rest of the morning was gorgeous, too.  I love streaming sunlight.

Answering the early morning alarm clock is usually a bear, but grabbing an hour to putter around and smell the roses (literally!) was such a nice way to spend a Friday morning before heading off to the workday.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Three things Thursday

Oh, hello!

Some weeks, Marvelous Monday isn't enough. Sometimes you need a Three Things Thursday, if you just can't wait.

this morning

1) Did you know that the French word for grapefruit is PAMPLEMOUSSE?

Thanks to my LaCroix bubbly water for teaching me this fun fact.  Also, try their coconut flavor. I am a fan.

2) I am bursting with excitement about the upcoming Olympics. You will hear more about this next month, from Miles and Laurel and possibly other news outlets, but right now I'm busy being mildly crushed after realizing they don't start until July 27. I thought "July 2012" meant, like, July 5. Now that I think about it, I knew that the track and field trials were just ramping up, so the timeline in my mind makes even less sense. Argh. Maybe that will give me more time to drum up a photo for you of the award-winning diorama that my siblings and I made out of Legos one summer to honor the games.

3) I attended a really good (read: tough) yoga sculpt class tonight, and I'm not optimistic about being able to raise my arms for long durations of time tomorrow. That's a positive thing, because when I lift weights on my own, I stop looooong before that point. I'm happy for this class, which really pushes me in the strength-training department.

And even if my arms are sore tomorrow, it's still Friday!  Happy almost weekend to you!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


If you checked in at Miles and Laurel last week, you know it was a busy one filled with visitors!  Josh's brother, sister-in-law, niece and nephew had been planning a trip to Minnesota for nearly a full year. We've all been looking forward to it and talking it up forever. We haven't seen them since Christmas and it seemed like almost every phone or Skype conversation included a teaser about their trip. And finally, after all that waiting, they were in Minnesota!

The family of four flew in early on Saturday morning, and we spent most of the day relaxing, with an afternoon visit to a neighborhood park. It was super hot and Josh had to institute a five-minute shade break for Loco and Lala, who are six and four. (Wish and I held down a patch of grass in the shade the whole time.)

On Sunday, we geared up for a day at the Mall of America and the amusement park inside the mall. Mandatory stops included the American Girl store (which made me want to reread those books all over again, especially Molly, Kirsten and Samantha) and Legoland.

At the amusement park, Lala was thrilled to run into Dora:

One afternoon, we went to a local pool and waterpark. It was recently renovated and was very fun, but it was one of those days that was 72 degrees, partly cloudy and perfect for sitting outside - and a little cool for flopping around in the pool. By the end of the afternoon, I think all of the swimmers in our party were chilled. Here's Lala, all bundled up, with Josh:

We also popped over to the Science Museum one night, where we saw the new Omnitheater movie "Under the Sea." I think the reviews from our group were mostly thumbs-up. The cinematography was totally astounding and the scenery was gorgeous, but the fish-being-eaten parts were a little too much for the 6-and-under crowd. Loco's favorite part was when a symbiotic relationship was demonstrated with footage of a crab carrying a jellyfish above him (thus wearing the jellyfish like a "construction helmet," he said).

And, of course, trips to Target Field figured prominently into the itinerary. It was Loco and Lala's first major league baseball game!

Here's the proud uncle with his niece and nephew:

The kids loved TC Bear. "Is he a real bear or a costume?" Loco asked. You be the judge.

Speaking of beloved characters, I didn't expect the kids to learn quite so much last week about Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox, starting with a scary rendition of the duo inside the log chute ride at the mall. I had become oblivious to how entrenched this story is in Minnesota culture! Little references popped up what seemed like everywhere we went. Initially I think Loco was almost fully convinced that Paul Bunyan lives at the end of a dark hallway in our home.  By the end of the trip, though, both kids were clear that Paul B. uses his powers for good, and they also know him as the guy responsible for creating the Mississippi River with his ax (and possibly all of the lakes, too). Folklore!

The weather rained out some of our plans - no trips to the Minneapolis lakes - but the food itinerary was not harmed by rain. We tried out our new grill twice, visited the local Punch Pizza (and Jimmy John's!) and made sure that our guests experienced the frozen yogurt trend sweeping the Twin Cities. (I tried salted caramel frozen yogurt for the first time. YUM.)

And there was lots of play time inside our apartment, too. Lala and I got matching manicures. Loco's wrestlers held down the fort in our kitchen for the week. Lala made sure to grab her time with them, too.

One night, my mom and brother came over for dinner to meet everyone, and my mom arrived equipped with toys. She and Lala enjoyed the bubbles while the guys played with a set of velcro mitts and a tennis ball.

Before the trip, Josh and I had a blast brainstorming activities for the family (even though the week ended with probably half of the items still on our list), and we loved showing them around town. The crew is back in Colorado now, and my hope is that they got a hearty introduction to these cities we love, balanced with enough downtime to just hang out with us at home. It was a good, good week.

It's our turn to visit next, but I hope they'll make a return trip sometime soon!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Marvelous Monday: Week 25

Our visitors are back home in Colorado, and I hope they had a great time in Minnesota. (I'll have a more extensive recap of their visit later in the week!)  With everything that was going on, I kind of felt like I was out of town myself! I'm settling back into the routine this week, so I'll begin with a Marvelous Monday.

1. I got a new Kindle notification from the library today! Quiet, that book about the power of introverts, is waiting for me somewhere in the internet.

2. Wish is not known for getting into our belongings. Knock on wood: he does not chew shoes, rummage around in our clothes, or mess around with...well, anything, really.  This morning I was in another room and noticed that it was Too Quiet in our home, a strong indicator of trouble when a dog is present. "WISH! Where are you?" I called, and he came running out of our bedroom...tangled up in my cell phone, the charger, and the plug-in, which had been plugged into the power strip when I left the room. HOW DID THIS HAPPEN? My only valid guess is that I sometimes keep my phone in the same pouch-belt where I keep his treats, so maybe there were appealing microscopic treat crumbs that he tried to grab. I will have to watch this in the future, but this morning, it was hilarious.

3.  I've been meaning to post about this for ages, and today is the perfect occasion!  Thanks to my sister for recommending Humans of New York to me. The page's premise is "the photographic census of New York, one portrait at a time," and it is truly one of my favorite concepts I've ever encountered.

The human portraits are amazing, but today's photo really grabbed my attention:
As a one-dog walker, I cannot even wrap my mind around this.  But I love it.

4. And speaking of New York, part of my heart was celebrating there this weekend (metaphorically, just to be clear). Two friends from college got married, and I wasn't able to attend. I wish them many-many-many years of happiness and adventures together!

5. Finally, I heard "Everlong" by the Foo Fighters two times on the radio in a span of about 15 minutes today. It totally ruled.

Hope your week is starting out well, Reader. Do you have any book recommendations for me?  Any mischievous dog stories?  Favorite late '90s alt-rock songs?  Share them in the comments below!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The window box experiment

I know you have been patiently yet fervently waiting for a mini-garden update. (Right?)

Earlier in the season, I planted three herbs (basil, mint, and dill) in pots outside. I also was drawn in by the prospect of tending to real flowers and bought some impatiens for my window boxes.

There was a near calamity for the impatiens, but I think we are in the clear. I will tell you more.

Each window box is mostly covered by a deck, one moreso than the other - so basically, one is in partial shade and one is in nearly total shade. Impatiens seem to be one of the few plants that can handle this lack of sun.  I got the two window boxes all set up and was loving the pink and purple flowers in both boxes. I even posted a little picture here a couple of weeks ago of a new flower growing. Success?

But then the fully shaded box started to look a little more haggard. And then even more haggard. And then all of the flowers disappeared, and the plants started to get even more frail.

See?  So sad!

I was perilously close to throwing in the towel and accept a 50 percent success rate in this summer's window box experiment. I told my mom about the dilemma, and she didn't think I should give up yet. "What if I switched the boxes' locations periodically?" I asked, and she said she didn't see why that wouldn't work.

So I switched them, still skeptical. I watched the poor previously vibrant window box start to wilt a little bit in the shade and got nervous that I would lose both of them.

But lo and behold, the other day, I saw something wonderful. Wait for it...

Look on the right side of the's a flower! There is hope for this window box after all!

Okay, okay, I'm aware that this is the most basic (some might say most feeble) steps of gardening progress, and I have so much respect for my friends and family members who cultivate beautiful, expansive gardens and somehow manage to have all of the plants survive and look gorgeous.  But when you're just starting out and floundering, sometimes you just need a nudge from someone to keep trying just a little longer.

P.S. Happy Father's Day to my dear dad, who has taught me so much in life. I hope he enjoyed the extra inning of baseball capped off with a Twins win this afternoon!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Saturday report

This morning, Josh had to be at work for an event at 6 a.m., and I swore up and down that I'd get up with him to get an early start on my Saturday long run. Well, you can guess how that turned out. I woke up long after he left, took Wish out for a short walk and then headed out, just after the sun ducked behind the clouds. It was humid, but I was crossing my fingers that the clouds would rule the morning while I was out there.

And rule did they ever. I made it about two miles before it started to sprinkle, and by the third mile, it was raining steadily. The rain stuck around for the rest of the run, and my shoes were squishing by the end.

I looped around the river by downtown St. Paul and got a cool view of the cathedral on the gray skyline:

A few weeks ago, my running buddy Molly and I were reminiscing about how many of our long runs in what seems like every spring marathon training cycle have been done in the rain. There's something about a spring Saturday morning that just seems to bring the precipitation!  Spring rain, of course, has the tendency to make a run cold and uncomfortable.  A rainy summer run can still be tough, but it's usually not bone-chilling. The added bonus is that the whole scene is so green and gorgeous and you know the rain is going to make every plant even peppier.

Like this one!

After the run, I made my strawberry protein shake and hunkered down to catch up with some of my DVR'd programs (as well as Father of the Bride Part II) before heading over to help out a pal at Rock the Garden, an annual music festival at the Walker Art Center and Minneapolis Sculpture Garden that draws 10,000 people. The skies cleared, the temperatures heated up quickly, and it turned into a great day for a concert (although I was stationed inside the museum for my shift).

We just finished a walk with Wish, and I will leave you with his "OH PLEASE LET ME AT THAT SQUIRREL" face. I mean, literally, he was trying to get at a squirrel while Josh held his leash and I photographed the escapades.

If anyone ever asks me to define longing, I will recommend considering this picture.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Hide and seek

This guy. He tries to hide, but something always gives him away.

Last time, you might remember, it was the ears:

This time?

The Keeshond breed can err toward mischievous, but sneaky?  Not so much.

Happy weekend, friends!