Saturday, October 23, 2010

Day Trip to D.C.!!!

I LOVE Washington, D.C.!  I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE it!  From the SUPER EASY to use Metro system, to the National Mall with it's white gleaming marble, to it's distinct and diverse neighborhoods, D.C. is an AMAZING place to go.

Turns out it's a GOOD thing I DO like it, because it was about the ONLY place we could get for ANY length of time during this MEA (Minnesota Education Association) weekend!  Traveling on MEA weekend is kind of like trying to type without fingers...PRACTICALLY IMPOSSIBLE!  We looked at flights to Paris, Amsterdam, London, New York, Savannah, Jacksonville, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Chicago, Austin, Florida, Texas, Ohio, Kentucky, but couldn't get standby on ANY of them!

It's also a GOOD thing that this was our 6th or 7th time there.  We knew WHERE to go, WHAT to see, and HOW to get there.  If it had been our first time there, I would have TOTALLY freaked out trying to see everything, and, since we got there at 11:00 a.m., and had to fly back out at 7:50 p.m., that would have been COMPLETELY overwhelming (as it was, Duane's pedometer said we walked 13,000 steps with what we DID do...!).

We started out at the White House Visitor's Center. We've never actually TOURED the White House, because we get there too "spur of the moment" to get tickets, but the visitor's center had some cool displays of stuff FROM the White House, and a video that went "behind the scenes", so we checked that out instead. Very interesting (and informative!).

We DID actually walk BY the White House!!!!

After the visitor's center, we headed to Ben's Chili Bowl, an AWESOME diner that's been around since the 50's.  I had TWO chili dogs, and potato salad.  They also have SWEET TEA, which, if you know me at all, is one of my FAVORITE beverages on earth (even more so than wine!), but which I never make on my own, because it just doesn't taste right...

After lunch, we headed to Hillwood Estate Museum and Gardens.  It was founded by American collector and heiress to the Post cereal empire Marjorie Merriweather Post.  You can find out about the BEAUTIFUL mansion and gardens by visiting the official site at

We toured the gardens (Japanese, French, Lunar, and Cutting), the greenhouses full of orchids, then went through the mansion, which featured French and Russian Imperial art, as well as items from Marjorie Merriweather Post's life...very ornate...very beautiful!

We just had time to catch the Metro back to the mall, and run around (literally!) the Lincoln Memorial before dashing back to the Metro to go to the airport.

It was a brief trip, but it was REALLY, REALLY, REALLY great to be in the nation's capital again!  Here's hoping YOU were able to enjoy a brief "getaway" from your life recently too!!!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Fall Walk

Yesterday Duane and I took a walk along the river.  We started out at the scenic overlook, with a lovely view of the marsh below the airport, then headed over to Lilydale to walk the paths.

Between the stone wall and Lilydale, we happened upon the remnants of "Mendota Work Camp no. 1", which was built during the depression to house the homeless, who had been hired to build the roadways, and do work in the area.

There's a crumbling sign that tells about the camp, which, apparently was only around for five years, then the war started, the buildings were torn down, and the people housed there moved on to jobs created to support the war effort.  You can find out more about the camp at the following link:

All that remains is the chimney of the recreation hall:

A gorgeous day to explore some Minnesota history!  Here's hoping YOU were able to learn something about the area in which you live recently too!!!!

Friday, October 15, 2010

New Deck Doors!

So...the cool "burgandy" doors that were here when I moved in have now been replaced.  It was time.  The wood at the bottom was rotten, in the winter a draft blew through like there was NO DOOR THERE AT ALL, and, during a particularly "blowy" thunderstorm this summer, water seeped up between the grooves in the laminate flooring.

I was a LITTLE sad, because they looked so good, but, I think the NEW doors are very nice...lighter...airier...and I think I'll have A LOT more light in the living room from this point on.  See for yourself...

Here's hoping YOU were able to let a little more light into YOUR world recently!!!!!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

"Weekend" with Mom and Dad and dad were able to come up this weekend for a visit!  I put WEEKEND in quotes in the title of this post, because I actually only spent a little time with them on Friday evening, and NO time with them today.  The REAL fun occured on Saturday!

Duane and I met everyone at Robin and Dave's at 8:00, and we headed to the Minneapolis Farmer's Market.  It wasn't very crowded, as I think most people assume that it's already over for the season.  We found some GREAT fruits and veggies, mom found an AWESOME jacket, and Duane bought me a TOTALLY COOL chicken print that a local artist created, Eric Carle style, from junk mail...VERY CREATIVE!

We had breakfast brats at our "brat stand", coffee from our coffee place, found the last of the Colorado peaches, and enjoyed PERFECT, sunny, warm weather.  It was AWESOME!  I think that was probably our last visit until they start up again next spring.  We SO didn't get there enough this summer, but, that's how it usually goes...

After a couple of hours at the farmer's market, we headed to Bachmann's.  They were hosting an antique sale in the greenhouse, and had LOTS of cool stuff.  I actually made it out of there without purchasing antiques...nothing.  PRACTICALLY unheard of!

After Bachmann's we went back to Robin and Dave's for lunch.  Duane and I made a quick run to Baker's Wife for bread and pastries, then we all chowed down on Fat Lorenzo's pizza.  Pepperoni and green olive...YUM!  If you are ever on Cedar Avenue, near Highway 62 in South Minneapolis, check them out...they make REALLY, REALLY GOOD PIZZA!!!

Since we are not a crowd to just "sit around", we then rushed off to see "Secretariat" at the Regal Theater in Eagan.  WHAT A GREAT MOVIE!  I knew a little bit about the events surrounding Secretariat's life, but not much.  Wow!  What an amazing horse!  Diane Lane played Mrs. Chenery Tweedy...she was AMAZING.  I've been a fan since "Under the Tuscan Sun".  It was GREAT to see her in another "Oscar worthy" performance!

After the movie, they all headed back to South Minneapolis, and Duane and I BOOKED IT back to our place to start cooking dinner for everyone.  We had about two hours to get it all together, but pulled it off, and had an awesome dinner of homemade bread, pastitsio, salad, and key lime cake. 

It was a CRAZY, BUSY day, but also REALLY fun, and it was GREAT to have mom and dad here!  Dad continues to improve after his surgery in September, and we're SO thankful to have him around to enjoy!!!!!!

Here's hoping YOU were able to spend quality time with family recently!!!!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Minnesota Renaissance Festival

Our downstairs neighbor is "royalty" at the Renaissance Festival in Shakopee, so Duane felt that we should go and watch her perform.  I was NOT enthused about going, and stalled as long as I could.  Every weekend, he'd say "we should go to the Renaissance Festival" to which I would reply..."how about NEXT weekend??!!  Well...we ran out of weekends, as Sunday was the LAST day.

I couldn't FOR THE LIFE OF ME understand why Duane would want to go...Renaissance-y people just aren't his cup of tea.  They are WAY more "my kind of people", but even I think they are a little bizarre.  (The fact that I'd already BEEN to the Renaissance Festival THREE times in the last 10 years could have had something to do with my lack of enthusiasm as well...).

Anyway...I sucked it up, and we went.  I can honestly say that I DO NOT ENJOY the Renaissance Festival.  I used to...and I'm not sure WHEN I became old and uninteresting.  I WHOLEHEARTEDLY believe that the people that enjoy this kind of thing are entitled to their...fantasy, but I JUST think it's all a little TOO bizarre...

One of the first things we saw when we got there was the stormtrooper below.  I'm not sure WHY there was a stormtrooper at the Renaissance Festival.  I'm fairly certain they didn't come along until much, much later in history.  I guess, in a strange way, it made more sense than seeing Captain America a few minutes later (unfortunately of the pudgy, dorky variety...not the hot version...)...

We continued wandering around for a bit to get our bearings. I kept Duane moving, as it's a general rule that people standing around are FODDER for any "players" wandering around to target. It worked...we didn't get accosted by any Renaissance people at all...which was good. I was SO not in the mood. (There was a CLOSE CALL with the grim reaper, but we doubled back around the glass blowers hut, and moved on without incident...).

We had some wonderful barbecue at the bbq cookoff venue, watched a few minutes of Puke and Snot, then watched some guy get pelted by vegetables at "Vegetable Justice". We also listened to the wench insult people as they walked by the "Dunk the Wench" tank.

One thing that I DID really like was the "midway" area. They had a HUGE rocking horse, a medieval (??) climbing wall, and big boat "swings", which, to get moving had festival people PUSHING and PULLING to make them go. No machinery at all...kind of cool!

We sat through a small bit of the performance by The Wacky Chickens (don't ask).

We also watched a bit of the "washing wenches" show, the sword and fire jugglers, then settled in for the magistrate's judgement session (in which our friend (below) was a player). After several "trials", and a sword duel or two, we decided it was time to head back to Eagan.

Luckily, as we were getting ready to leave, Duane stated "if I ever say 'let's go to the Renaissance Festival again...SHAKE ME REALLY HARD'". You'd better believe I will!!

Here's hoping YOU were able to experience something recently that, although not your particular "cup of tea" was, nonetheless, unique and interesting!