Sunday, June 30, 2013

Hop in the lake

An afternoon spent on a boat on Lake Minnetonka and then swimming in Lake Minnetonka: what a treat! There were hundreds and hundreds of people out on the lake today, enjoying 80 degrees and lots of sun.

It was a very fitting way to wrap up Everything I Love About Summer Week at Miles and Laurel.

Friday, June 28, 2013

More about that one season

I guess this week is Everything I Love About Summer at Miles and Laurel, huh? I'll get it out of my system and be done. No, that's probably a fib. Let's just revel in this lovely season, okay?

Today after work Wish and I went for a walk at Como Lake. And we didn't get rained on, despite skies that looked like this!

Here's another example of his "TAKING PICTURES IS SO VERY BORING" face:

Continuing in the "Everything I Love About Summer" category around town:

My cherry tomato plant!

These trees, whatever they are:

Catalpa trees, which always remind me of the one in my childhood home's yard:

Okay, you got me. Nothing new here. You guys know I love pretty much any variation of tree. Exponential bonus points if there are leaves on the branches. Infinity bonus points if there's light shining through the trees.

The city is a pretty place this time of year.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

A very beloved part of summer

What would the visual equivalent be to the phrase "music to one's ears"?

"A sight for sore eyes"? That doesn't feel quite right, as my eyes weren't actually sore (literally or figuratively) when I saw what I saw this evening.

Well, I'll tell you what happened and we can figure out the correct expression later. Tonight I skimmed through my CSA newsletter and saw these words:

"[The strawberries] are coming on like gangbusters and you will be getting at least three pints of strawberries in your box this week."

I squealed. (This is a fair place to note that I was home alone and Wish did not understand the fuss.) Three pints of strawberries?!

I opened the box, and under the broccoli, garlic scapes, lettuce and more nice things, there was one little pint. And then another - and another and another. Four!?

Today was a gorgeous day in Minnesota, with a huge bright blue sky that I loved, but I have to say that these strawberries were the most beautiful thing I saw today.

And even better: the newsletter urged us to eat them pronto, because they won't keep long. Consider it done!

What a happy Thursday present.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Oops. I cued up yesterday's Marvelous Monday post but got caught up in a wedding-related project and forgot to publish it!

Here we go:

1) I started the week with Monday morning yoga. This is always a small triumph.

2) We spent Sunday afternoon and evening at my parents' house, one of my favorite ways to wrap up a weekend. My mom has an annual tradition of planting one patch of flowers in the shape of a letter - so far, she has covered all of our first initials. This year, it's W. I think this is for Wedding, but don't tell that to the little dog in between us, who thinks it's for him.

3) I was over at our friends' house this weekend and raided their iPad's recipe box, so I have a bunch of new recipes to try! It's fun to see their favorites, collected all together from various sources. It also inspired me to do an overhaul on my own recipe collection, which sorely needs a re-organize.

4) Need I say more?

5) Mega thanks to my dad, who tinkered with my car's angry muffler over the weekend and seemed to resolve the problem!!

And now next week is both 2013's halfway point and Fourth of July week. How did this happen!?

What are you up to this week, Reader? I hope your week is starting out well, and if you live in Minnesota (or any place that was affected recently by storms), I hope your home's power has been restored.

Sunday, June 23, 2013


I've written before about how Wish adores my mom and sister, so that's no secret. Tonight at my parents' house, I was looked for the pup all over the first floor, and I found him tucked snugly next to my dad's spot on the couch - an appropriate reminder, during our belated Father's Day celebration, of how much Wish loves Dad, too.

Join the crowd, dog! He's a special dad.

Saturday, June 22, 2013


It's a strange feeling to announce plans to go for a run, get cautioned about the risk of live power lines, and wonder if that's actually a legitimate concern.

It turned out not to be, in my neck of the woods, but wild storms have been pummeling Minnesota over the last two days. More than 200,000 people in the metro area are without power after a huge line of thunderstorms marched across the state last night, accompanied by strong winds and a couple of inches of rain. I've seen two cars that were crushed by fallen trees in the neighborhood. Later today, the dewpoint and temperature are supposed to surge, making conditions ripe for more storms.

The storms cleared out, and this morning I went for a run. It was humid and eerie. Most of the debris consisted of small branches littering the sidewalks and streets, but periodically I'd come across something like this:

I needed a pause and stopped to read a sidewalk poem that was literally a stone's throw away from a fallen tree blocking an entire side street.

That's "There's no place I'd rather be/than here/in this quiet common place/where late morning sun/meetings the scent of concrete and cut grass/stirring."

Be safe this weekend, neighbors and friends, wherever you are.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Pride and joy

I am nearly certain now that these beauties are indeed young green bean plants!!

Well, obviously certain enough to weed everything around what I suspect are the green bean plants, anyway. Fingers crossed.

I also installed proper cages for my tomato plants, whose spines had been no match for the huge storm that blew through overnight:

Much better, I think. I repeat: fingers crossed.

Thursday, June 20, 2013


There's a wild rose bush in my neighborhood that, most of the year, looks like any old run-of-the-mill shrub. This week, it burst into blooms!

I hope these flowers stick around as long as possible.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Pretty evening

Engagement photos tonight! We had to postpone the session a few weeks ago, during that part of June that was neverending rain and dreariness in Minnesota, and I kept yammering about how glad I was that we had postponed and ended up with tonight instead. The skies finally cleared this week, and the light this evening was one of my favorite kinds of light in any season or time of day.

I feel happy, tuckered out, and fortunate to get to know and work with the husband and wife team who will be our photographers at our wedding in September.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Marvelous Monday: Week 24

You know how this goes! Five marvelous tidbits to begin the week:

1) I've been catching up on my reading over the last couple of weeks. I like to save books for flights, and I relished the uninterrupted block of time last week to settle into a book. As mentioned yesterday, I finished Dinner: A Love Story by Jenny Rosenstrach, who writes a Bon Appetit column with her husband. I loved many pieces of her take on how to make dinner a priority (first with her husband and later with young kids at the table) and was very impressed that the author jotted down every dinner she cooked for 14 years. Wouldn't it be a hoot to do the same thing with your own meals over that long of a time frame?

Later I read Clover Adams: A Gilded and Heartbreaking Life by Natalie Dykstra, and over the weekend I finished Running for My Life: One Lost Boy's Journey from the Killing Fields of Sudan to the Olympic Games by Lopez Lomong, a runner who I have always admired but whose full story I never knew. Thumbs up to both.

2) As you might have deduced from other recent posts, the last few days have been gorgeous and wonderfully summery...

3) ...and I've been having a great time cooking and eating the season's foods. (WATERMELON!) My CSA vegetable box has helped a lot with that, and I think my favorite new recipe is the cilantro pesto I made on Thursday night. (It didn't hurt that the whole dish came together in 15 minutes.)

I jotted down the recipe on a Post It and wanted to share it with you...

...Oops. Good going. You can check out this recipe for the basic idea.

4) I dug out my little white running hat for my midday run today, and while it earned me no style points, it really worked like a charm to keep my face shaded and cool (well, sort of cool).

5) Josh usually takes Wish for his morning walk, but the job today was mine, and I loved strolling the neighborhood when it was quiet and cool and the day was just starting. It maybe gave me incentive to launch my morning running routine again. (But even if that doesn't happen, it was marvelous.)

What's up in your corner of the world? What's nice about the start of your week? What are you reading, and what's for dinner tonight? Tell me!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Maximizing time outside

I had ideas for indoorish plans today, but they got shelved real fast when I got outside and found one of the most beautiful (if not the most) Sunday in 2013 so far.

Wish needed some nails TLC, so Josh and I took him to get them clipped. With Josh off to work, Wish and I took a detour and stopped at Lake Nokomis for a little stroll. The day heated up quickly and we took some breaks in the shade. There were tons of families out enjoying Father's Day.

Wolf's silhouette:

And the trees along the shore were making magnificent reflections!

I dropped Wish off at home and headed over to our garden to get a jalapeno plant in the ground and give our tomato plants some sorely needed stakes. (I keep wanting to type steaks and getting the image of me  nestling the tomato plants in some red meat.) Here's half of our garden, with the tallest tomato plant that badly needed some support way in back:

(Author's note: The author's mother has just gently noted that her tomato plants may benefit from more stakes or a big old wire cage. The feedback is appreciated!)

In the other half, I pulled some weeds and gasped when I saw what I am nearly certain is the green beans that I planted from seed springing out of the ground. I will monitor the situation but am terribly excited cautiously optimistic.

Then I stopped at a garage sale, since I need to find a few items sometime this summer for our wedding. Lo and behold, from far away I saw two really cool easels, which are on my list. I checked them out and then realized that this was more of a high-end antique sale than your standard yard sale, and the easels were priced at $175 each. I haven't gone into too much detail at Miles and Laurel about wedding planning, but while these easels were very lovely, they are definitely not in the budget.

Later in the day, I polished off nearly the rest of the CSA spinach by trying my first recipe from Dinner: A Love Story, which I read via Kindle library loan last week on the plane and liked so much that I ordered a hard copy as soon as the plane landed. Tonight: pasta and cooked spinach tossed with a little bit of olive oil and topped with caramelized onions and parmesan cheese. I had never had caramelized onions in pasta before but now plan to do this as much as possible - and am excited to try more of the book's tips.

Dad is out of town this weekend, so our Father's Day family dinner will be next weekend. I thought of him often today, especially when I was watching the Twins games, since the number of Twins games I've watched or listened to with my dad may still be higher than the games I've watched on my own, more than 10 years after moving out of my parents' house.

This photo is unrelated to baseball but very much related to lemon meringue pie, another one of our favorite things:

Happy Father's Day to my wonderful dad!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Adventure with dog

This afternoon Wish and I jumped in the car and headed out to the wilderness Lebanon Hills Regional Park to have an adventure in the park's trail system. Whenever Wish gets out of the city, he finds disproportionate thrill in puttering around on trails, even if they're just paved bike paths. (I can't deny that I feel the same way.)   Since it has been a busy week after our trip, I wanted to take him out for a nice and long walk.

Here's Wish at the trailhead. I like this picture because he is all, "DO WE ALWAYS HAVE TO TAKE PICTURES?! LET'S GET ON THE ROAD!"

And oh, it was a pretty road. This was about the average trail width:

Sometimes the path got a little wider and turned into a horse trail. Sometimes it got narrower, like a one-way ski trail in the winter. It was very fun to explore. (Also, Wish saw his first horses since we adopted him. I wouldn't say the experience went well - "GIANT MONSTERS!!!" - but it's in the books.)

Then he settled down (and then probably get tired from trying to sniff every plant in the park).

Here's his "SO TUCKERED OUT" face:

 Wish was having so much fun sniffing around and pretending he was wild that he didn't notice this deer:

Nor did he notice a huge snapping turtle onto which I almost stepped. Goofball.

I give very high marks to the Lebanon Hills trails. They are exceptionally well-marked and easy to follow, and there are 15 miles of hiking trails that can be arranged into loops with a wide range of distances. A 45-minute stroll was just right for us, and I would love to come back here again soon (and often).

And my pet is sprawled out in a serious nap on the living room floor, so I can only assume this means he had a good time, too.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The rest of the week

I've been all confused this week because of our travel and the shortened workweek. It's Thursday, I think?!

Some notes about the week that have piled up:

1) I tried a new recipe last night (tortilla pie) and we demolished it so fast that I might have to try it again with the leftover ingredients. I got really excited to see a recipe that riffed on some of my favorite ingredients (black beans, cheese, corn, tortillas, etc. - the things you see in about half of the recipes I post) but also brought eggs into the mix and seemed like such an easy, weeknight-friendly meal.

It was not quite as weeknight-friendly as I hoped because, while the prep takes about 10 minutes, the little pie takes a full hour in the oven. I think this would be a good meal for days when one is puttering around the house and has time to wait for a meal but doesn't quite want to spend a lot of time cooking. Heck, it's still good for weeknights. (While I waited, I indulged a random urge to clean the refrigerator, which turned out  to be a good, productive and presumably overdue exercise. Ugh.)

2) To continue on the cooking theme, today I tried making cilantro pesto (with almonds instead of pine nuts) and I'm not sure why it took me 29 years to arrive at cilantro pesto.

3) The cilantro is from our first CSA box of the season, so it's fitting that I tried something new because it's one of the CSA's fun draws. I also got bok choi, garlic chives, green garlic, purple potatoes, radishes, red chili dry beans, spring onions and spinach, so I don't think my cooking adventures are done for the week.

4) I met up with my brother and sister for happy hour. Here is my first photo effort, which I kind of love more than anything:

And the second:

We ordered the Lyndale Tap House's stampede fries, with cheese, bacon, scallions and beef jus all poured on top of the French fries. It reminded me of poutine in Montreal and it was good. Also, I think you can tell from the photos that it was a truly gorgeous summer day and we got to sit on the patio.

5) I have a big, heavy watermelon on my counter!

Jeepers, that was a really food-focused hodge-podge. There's just something marvelous about eating and cooking summer foods, isn't there?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Colorado weekend

As previously mentioned, we spent the weekend in Colorado with Josh's family. We hadn't seen them since Christmas, and it was important to us to visit before the wedding in September - so we grabbed some flights and hopped on a plane for a long weekend.

That's the context. Now, for a brief recap:

Start with another sky photo? Don't mind if I do!

That's from the drive from the airport to Josh's hometown. That distance is no stone's throw, but I like to look out the window at the big skies.

Early in our trip, Josh's mom told me that nopales (prickly pear) grow wild in that region of Colorado. I told her I had never seen them but vowed to keep an eye out during my miles on the roads that weekend. Sure enough:

I also saw my first scorpion. No lie. Also, no photos of that.

I repeat: you need not look for scorpions in any of the following photos. This is just LaLa and me. (In case you haven't seen recaps from past visits, this is a nickname.) She is among the most enthusiastic flowergirls-to-be that I've ever encountered. (Not that I have gauged enthusiasm among dozens of flowergirls, but you understand.) Also, I kind of wish her romper came in grown-up sizes.

That photo was taken at one of two baseball practices at which we spectated. Loco, Josh's nephew, has turned into a little man and has joined a baseball team! It was sweet to watch him play.

I took some other photos where his face is flushed and you can tell it's really roasting outside. The temperature got closer to 100 degrees each day of our trip. It was a really lovely dry heat and felt great to me. I like this aspect of this region's climate because the mornings are cool enough (and so dry) to allow for really pleasant running conditions, but then it heats up nicely through the day.

In other weekend coverage, it's a sweet little moment to jump out of a pool right after you've zipped down a waterslide, then take a peek at a thermometer by the concession stand and see the little red arrow pointing at 100. Summer.

And with that, of course, comes thunder, too. We got caught in some hail and rain one day, and then drove through to the other side of the storm. Here's my view out the car's back window, as the storm broke up and the sun was setting:

Raise your hand if you're in support of someone's fiancé stopping the car every once in awhile - say, when there is a crazy sunset going on - so his partner's photos of clouds aren't so herky-jerky. You are? Thank you!

I always love to explore another part of the country, even when it's not so new to me any more.

Just as we had planned, we got to spend lots of time visiting with family - immediate and extended - and the weekend flew by, and before we knew it, we were on our flight back to St. Paul. We got off the plane and had to make one stop, where this happy guy was waiting at my mom and dad's house:

A happy reunion, indeed.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Back home

Well, hello!

We just got home from our long weekend in Colorado! I thought I'd be able to post a few pictures now that my Blogger app is up and running on my phone, but then the phone itself decided to act up. (Oops.) I'll catch you up with a trip recap this week. For now, we have dinner and a snuggly dog to which we must attend.

First, just one photo. These are the Colorado skies that I watched during our drive to the airport.

Hope your week is starting out well, Reader!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Three things Thursday

A quick week recap/weekend preview, because I need to pack:

1) We are traveling this weekend, to see Josh's family in Colorado! We have some fun plans and it will be great to spend time with them.

2) I have been yammering about this forecast to anyone who will listen. I am filled with delight.

For context, I don't know that the high temperature in my neck of the woods has cracked 60 degrees this week. Maybe I'm being overly dramatic, but it has definitely not cracked 70. Summer will come around eventually in Minnesota, but for now, I am very excited for those little suns in Colorado.

3) Ever since the days when I used to travel more for work, I've crossed my fingers that I'll get a new magazine right before I fly. Today in the mail, there were literally seven magazines, which I promise is not typical. But I do love magazines, so that is a red letter day.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The hayride

On Sunday, we drove to my grandma's house to celebrate her birthday with the annual family picnic and hayride. (I don't think there is actually any hay involved anymore, though I know one of my readers who is related to me will correct me if I'm wrong.) My aunts and uncles and cousins all meet up, each family grills and shares side dishes and desserts, and my uncle drives us around the farm and fields and woods, pulling the passengers with his tractor.

Here comes the part where it looks like only my immediate family was on the hayride. While the following photograph shows the hayride set-up, it doesn't really help my case:

I promise that there were many aunts and uncles and cousins along. There's just not a smooth way to ask mid-hayride if I could take a photograph with the context that it may or may not end up on one's personal internet blog.

We stacked garden benches up on the platform. My mom and Josh and I shared a bench.

And right away, it was the kind of day that makes you feel really grateful to be outside.

We stopped at a pond that was reflecting the clouds very splendidly.

We also stopped at a place that my mom calls Fern Gully. It's a wooded area with chairs arranged at various vantage points, including this one, in the ferns:

The ferns were beautiful up close. There were so many of them. I was captivated.

And soon enough, the ferns were behind us, we were back at Grandma's house, and it was time for birthday cake and more snacks.

Just one more snapshot, okay?

Y'all know how I love a big, big sky.