seek adventure

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Ella Fiztergerald croons, “Summertime and the livin’ is easy,” and Justin Moore promises, “If there’s a good time in this town, we’re gonna find it.”  As for me?  I think a combination of the two songs sums up summer in Minneapolis.  The City of Lakes fills with festivals, music, and revelry when the weather warms up.  If you’re looking for a good time, you will definitely find it here.
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We celebrated our first dry weekend of summer with trips to the Twin Cities Jazz Festival and the Uptown Food Truck Festival. Both fun events, but just like the songs above, I wanted to combine the two things.  Why not have food trucks at the jazz festival?  We could dance as we eat and sing as we sip.  Sounds good, yes?
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Do y’all follow Humans of New York?  I love how the artist photographs and learns the stories of the people in his city.  I have a similar desire to learn about the people that pass me on the street: where are they going? what are they reading? are they in love?  I’m not one to ask questions, but I do snap sneaky pictures when I feel inspire (like that photo above… precious, right?)
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Maybe it has something to do with an overactive imagination and curious mind.  I do home interviews for Habitat for Humanity (interviewing people that apply for houses), and I get that same thrill when I learn a) why people moved here b) why they want a new home and c) what matters most about their new home (size, location, community, school, etc).  After the interviews, I recommend or deny the family, and then I spend forever and always wondering how they’re doing.
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Speaking of home: Jon spent the past week in Wisconsin, and he brought home my favorite yellow roses.  The flowers seem trivial compared to having him back, but I do love me some roses.  And the best kind of roses?  ‘Just Because’ roses.
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This post is a bit of a ramble, but I did make the two graphics into printable PDFs for you.  Like the images? Download them here: redwhiteyou and leavehome

How was your weekend?  Any plans for the Fourth?

sparklin’ fireworks

“You flip a nickel, and heads means you stay with him and tails means you try the next one.” – Kally, 9
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Should I tell you about my weekend, or write about the gorgeous sunset descending upon Minneapolis right now?  Would you mind if I avoided both subjects and wrote about what’s on my heart?
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Thing is, I spent the weekend adventuring with my husband, and I’m sitting here wishing the weekend could go on and and on and on (and on).  Would they call that a perma-weekend?
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My weekend plans for vineyard tours and pizza farm dinners came crashing down when the forecast revealed 48-hours of thunder, lightning and rain.  Maybe not a big deal in the South, but we cherish our sunny days up here in the Midwest.
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Jon, a sweetheart and hard-worker extraordinaire,  dislikes the rain even more than I do (truth), and we half-heartedly planned a weekend of indoor picnics and House of Cards.
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Then my creative mind ran the numbers:  Minneapolis enjoys warm weather May-October, and that means we only have  24 weekends to enjoy activities out-of-doors (and free of snow).  Rain or shine, I decided we were going to have fun adventuring in the countryside.
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Rain poured, pit-pat-pit-pat, as we drove 2-hours to a vineyard Midsummer’s Eve party.  Touring a vineyard in a rainstorm? Sounds crazy, right?  Well, maybe, but we stopped five different times (interesting barns and tractors begged for a visit), and we had adventures (taste-testing taffy and flavored-pop) all the way up to St. Croix Falls.  And when we got there?  You guessed it- the rain stopped.
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Summer is too warm and wonderful (are those words synonyms?) to let slip away, and so we made plans for July and August on the drive home.  Lucky you, I created a graphic of our conversation:
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And that quote at the beginning?  It has little to do with anything in this post, but I’m famous for mixing and mashing thoughts.  That said, I came across some endearing thoughts about love:

“Eighty-four! Because at that age, you don’t have to work anymore, and you can spend all your time loving each other in your bedroom.”      -Carolyn, 8

“Many daters just eat pork chops and french fries and talk about love.” -Craig, 9

“You should never kiss a girl unless you have enough bucks to buy her a big ring and her own VCR, ’cause she’ll want to have videos of the wedding.” -Allan, 10

“Love is the most important thing in the world, but baseball is pretty good too.” -Greg, age 8

ewwww.

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A tisket, a tasket, a surprise in a basket.  People have been telling me to read Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project about as long as they’ve been telling me to try a Milky Bun, but I didn’t heed their advice until last night circa 10pm.  I’m a bit of a neat freak, so it was old news that Feng Shui inspires serenity (first chapter), but my interest peaked when I read how nagging destroys romance (second chapter).
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Despite the whole ‘a clean home is a happy home’ mantra that lives in my bones, I’m known to… ahem.. throw wrappers behind my bed.  Eeww, right?  Can you believe I just admitted that on the Internet?  Thing is, I like ending the day with a book and a delicious snack while I’m tucked under a pile of covers.  Once the snack is done and my eyes are tired, well, it’s too much work to get up and throw away the snack, so I just tosssss it over the side.
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I’m honestly trying to break the habit, but I slip and slide and have my faults.  The sweetest thing, however, is that while Jon thinks my bad habit is gross and unclean, he’s never said so.  He goes ‘ewww’ when he finds something, but he never takes it any further than that.  I’m a lucky girl.
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Jon’s kryptonite is crumbly food.  Whenever he makes a sandwich, I cringe as bread and jelly and cheese goes here and there and everywhere.  It’s a mess.  But you know what?  I never say a word about it.  Once he finishes and leaves the room, I get a cloth and and sweep like Cinderella.  The thing is, the mess bothers me – not him, and so I make do.
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My pictures reveal my intention to write about summer sports and baseball, but my midnight reading changed my plans.  Can I relate my Jon t-shirt to this anti-nagging post?  I suppose, in a way, it’s like the opposite of nagging, right? Cheering someone on?  Let’s say yes.
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Is there anything that makes you nag, or have you got that under control?  Have you read Gretchen’s book?

make a wish

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The great debate in my apartment is whether dandelions are a flower or a weed.  I think the persistent ‘flower’ makes massive fields look like blooming gardens, but Jon thinks the white and yellow ‘weed’ needs to be picked and pulled, stat.  
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The good news, for me, is that I don’t have to feel guilty about plucking and pulling to make a wish or two or three.  Maybe even four? I’ve plenty to be grateful for this summer, but it never hurts to make an additional request or two, right?
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Aside from the great flower debate, we’ve also been discussing the pros and cons of biking vs. hiking.  Jon likes to escape the city for a hike through the woods, but I can’t think of anything happier than hopping on a bike and finding a new spot to brunch.
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I guess if weeds vs. flowers and biking vs. hiking are the great debates, life is pretty good.  Hemingway said that, “When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest.”  He spoke those words in Paris, but they are ringing true here in Minneapolis.

Hope y’all had a lovely three day weekend 🙂

beautiful leprechaun

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Seventy and sunny feels like opening the mailbox to find ‘just-because’ and ‘thinking of you’ gifts waiting to be opened.  I just opened all the windows in the apartment, and I may be typing with my fingers, but my mind is planning a day of exploration and adventure with two of my favorite girls.  
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It doesn’t take much more than sunshine to get me excited about an otherwise ordinary day.  How’s that for easy to please, huh? It’s not that the other seasons don’t have their charms, because they do, but there’s something about putting the top down and blasting music and knowing that you can go go go go and not worry about rain or snow or catching a chill.  If we get too hot, well, it’s a good thing Minnesota is ‘The Land of 10,000 Lakes,’ right?  Pull over, grab a bikini and jump in the water.  No problems here.
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We had our first BBQ of summer last night, and I painted my nails bright teal for the occasion.  I was feeling pretty stylish until Jon walked in the door and told me I looked like a leprechaun.  A leprechaun?  Is it common for men to describe their wives that way?  I questioned Jon about his word choice and he quickly corrected, “you’re a very beautiful leprechaun sweetheart.”  
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as gold as it gets

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I’m not really lukewarm about anything.  I either ignore it or love it so much that I want it/gotta have it/ can’t live without it.  This character trait of mine is turning out to be a big problem, and I’m blaming the Internet.

Photographs on Flick and projects on P-interest and the creatives on Blogger provide inspiration that keeps me wanting to try this that and the other.  With Minneapolis positively melting, the desire to be outdoors and making the most of the season is in full spring (pun absolutely intended).
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To make sure spring doesn’t pass me by, I’ve made a checklist (which doesn’t include cleaning) to make sure that the days and weeks are filled with memories.  Inspiration for my checklist came from all over the web, and so it got ambitious pretty quickly.
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  • Apple Blossom Scenic Drive – The Great River Road along the Mississippi River boasts gorgeous views and colorful blooms during the spring.
  • Farm Babies – Does the name say it all, or do I need to explain?  The Wells Fargo Family Farm will showcase baby chicks, piglets, lambs, calves, and bunnies during the month of April.
  • Road Trip – With the masses of men planning summer trips, now is the perfect time to pack up the car and see the sights without the crowds.  Jon and I have heard promising things about Duluth?
  • Plant Something – Can you believe I’ve never done this? I have an urge to create something either a) bouquet-worthy or b) salad-worthy.
  • Baseball Games – Opening day for the Twins is scheduled for April 1, and so the excitement starts now.
  • Tulips for a Stranger – I love flowers, you love flowers, and yes, I’m planning to share some flowers.
  • Pizza Farm – Two words that make me oh.so.happy.  Locally sourced pizzas shared under the blue sky? Yes please.
  • Hikes and Bikes  – It’s not too hot and it’s not too cold – just right for spending the day on the trails.
  • Celebrations – St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, and Mother’s Day.  Time to drink green beer and hide some eggs and plan a champagne brunch.

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come sail away

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I was swimming in an aquarium and I couldn’t have been happier about it.  Striped fish puffed out and tri-color fish heaved in and small glassy fish sped past like tiny submarines.  When I got back to my beach chair, I told Jon that our next trip was going to be The Great Barrier Reef in Australia.  A classic tale of if If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.
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Reflecting, I’m wondering if I should surprise Jon with a pet goldfish?  Just go to PetsMart or Petco or Aquarium World and come home with a friend no larger than a baby pickle?  Bring a bit of the tropics inside our Minneapolis apartment?

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I went to Caribou Coffee when we got home, and I thought it was timely that they had a chalkboard wall asking about dream vacations:Image
Can you guess what I added to the list? Hint: not Jamaica or Australia.  Coincidently, I read an article about the kindness of nations a few hours later, and it made me think the chalkboard was missing a few important places:
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I’ve never considered the kindness of a place when deciding where to vacation, have you?  I’m usually flying to visit my aunt (Chicago), sister (Phoenix), or parents (outside Washington DC).  When I do get to choose, I’m usually just lured in with dreams of sunshine and beaches and adventures and foreign things (and budget, of course).  What about you: how do you decide where to go on vacation?

gettin’ summa lovin

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It’s summer, it’s hot, and I’m planning on gettin’ summa lovin before the sunshine fades away.  In the spirit of ‘engagement roast chicken‘ and ‘you won’t be single long vodka pasta‘, I decided to make my dreams come true through cooking.

A friend of mine knows I’m quietly obsessed with dried pineapple rings, and so she sent me a dehydrator as a wedding gift. Score!  Visions of dried apples, homemade beef jerky, and yes, pineapple rings danced in my head.

Before I had time to consider what I would make with the gadget, an image of coconut cream pineapple cakes appeared before me like a sign (cue that song ‘i saw the sign.. and it opened up my eyes I saw the sign…”)  I know the recipe sounds suspicious, but it was actually incredibly delicious.  Like my rhymes?

The recipe is simple: Slice a pineapple, dehydrate the pieces for 5-6 hours, and then place cool-whip and coconut flakes between the rings.  Guaranteed you’ll be gettin’ summa lovin when you serve it up 🙂
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kinder than necessary

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Cultivate a loving heart, and practice being kinder than necessary.  In the course of your day, you will inevitably encounter difficult people, but have patience and practice kindness. You won’t regret it.  In my experience, the most trying individuals are fighting battles of their own, and they are the most deserving of compassion.

I tell myself that the people who are hardest to love need it the most.  My attitude may suggest blind optimism, but I’ve pondered the subject for years, and I truly believe it’s accurate.  When people are hard to love, it’s likely that they don’t consider the impact of their actions on others.  But how do people cultivate a sense of empathy?  How do they develop an understanding for difference?

I believe it begins with exposure to kindness.  Be kind to the people that least deserve it, and I promise that they will ponder your behavior.  They will consider how your actions deviate from their own, and, perhaps, how your behavior made their day better. Maybe that thinking will compel them to be kinder to the people in their lives.  Just maybe, it will compel them to handle strangers with grace.

You won’t regret acts of kindness.  You will never look back on your days and think that you were too considerate, or that you should have treated people more harshly.  You might, however, regret the moments you failed to show someone compassion.

The good news, dear reader, is that while not all of us can cure cancer or win a beauty pageant, we can all cultivate a kind heart.   We can all better the lives of others by being kinder than necessary.

To spread the message, I wrote “Be Kind” with colored tape in various places throughout the city:
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After I did my random act of happiness, I spent the afternoon touring vineyards with Chrissy and Lauren.  You might remember Chrissy as the girl that I randomly asked to hang out with me.  That quirky decision definitely paid off:
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Once again, thank you to Laura at Apricot Lane in St. Cloud for styling this post.  I keep getting  compliments for my clothes, and I almost feel guilty about it.  It was all you, Laura.

tisket, tasket, lunch for lovebirds in my basket

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I’m the girl walking through town with a book in her arm and a camera around her neck. When I’m reading a book (the hours we spend in bed together is almost akin to dating), I translate the words into pictures, patterns, and designs, and the activity inspires some of my most creative thinking.  I’ll be contemplating the words as the author intended them, but against my own background, experiences, and hyperbolic mind, I often envision a story all my own.

I’ve read a great number of books in which a young person is mentored by an older guide.  These mentors are always filled with wisdom, and just eager to find a student that they can fill with their knowledge of history, people, and ‘the way things were.’  That said, I’ve always thought that it would be great to have one of these encounters on my own – maybe I would help a woman cross the street and then she would tell me all about how she fought for women’s rights.  Or maybe I would sit next to an older man on a bus, and he would tell me stories about Vietnam.  I’ve got a quarter century behind me, 26 good years, but I’m yet to have one of these mysterious encounters that are so prevalent in novels.

And so, I planned a rah rah rah experiment that would make a stranger happy by planning a picnic for them.  And yes, I was secretly thinking that I would end up hearing tales of yonder all night.

To set the scene: I packed a basket with three turkey bacon wraps, a few bags of popcorn, and some pepsi-cola.  I took that basket to the park, and then I proceeded to scan the area for strangers that might want to have lunch with me.  The first woman I approached appeared to be about 70, and she was reading a novel under a shady tree.  Perhaps she was reading a novel about an elderly woman who mentors a young girl, and wishing someone would approach her with a picnic lunch.  Something told me we might be the perfect match for one another.
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I approached the woman and told her about my project, and then invited her to have lunch with me.  she smile gracefully, and then explained that her food allergies made eating with a stranger impossible.  Well fine, fair enough.  I had expected that preparing a meal for a stranger would have some trials (Jon is allergic to seafood, peanuts, zucchini, and squash, and he refuses to eat fruit or vegetables.  You could say I know a thing or two about being picky eaters).
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But I wouldn’t be defeated.  I approached a young couple holding hands on a bench, and explained my project.  Free food? They asked.  I smiled, showed them the contents of the bag, and then plopped down between them.  Suddenly date crashing seemed much more fun than learning about women’s rights and Vietnam.  And so, I spent the next hour hearing about how they had met at the park 2 months ago, and spent every day together since.  He was at college in Duleuth, and she was a senior in high school two hours south.  They were planning to make it work.

It was incredibly happy to share a meal with them and listen to the story of their summer romance.  And as for them, they seemed pretty amped-up about the free food.  Happiness all around.
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The amazing photographer Joy Lengyel made this picnic look like a photoshoot for Martha Stewart, right?  Check out her work, and maybe send her a sweet note (why not?)

Oh, and good news: Jessica Gerke won the scarf give-away from AllThingsAccessories.  Jessica, take a look at the shop, choose a scarf (teal and red retro bird, pink chevron, yellow and grey flower, or blue bird) and send me your address.  Congratulations!