Monday, April 26, 2010

Up North

This weekend we made our first trip of the season "Up North". (That is the Minnesotan way of saying that we are going to the cabin or anywhere else north of where we currently are. Even my newly turned 3 year old has already started using the phrase.) We are lucky - my husband's parents living on a lake in central Minnesota and also own a farm in the same area so we have lots of room to roam and explore whether it's hiking, fishing, hunting or anything else that sparks our fancies. The highlight of this past weekend (besides getting loads of Grandma and Grandpa love!) was our "duck drive" on the way home. We went on minimum maintenance roads ("mini roads" as the boys call them and searched out great photo opportunities. We got some great shots of the pelicans that live in the area but our main quarry, the skittish Wood Duck, proved a little hard to get on camera. My husband did succeed in catching a nice shot at his parents house but is already planning how to get just the right picture when we go up for Memorial Day.
Here are a couple pictures from our drive...

We are already looking forward to our next weekend up north!

Monday, April 19, 2010

A New Family Member

In just 6 weeks time we will be adding a new furry member to our family. My husband has long wanted a hunting dog (and our children will take as many animals as we allow them to have) and their wish has come true...after 2 years of studying and saving we have decided to get a black lab. My husband and I both grew up with labs and in the end knew that this was the right second dog for our family (we have our much beloved mutt Tucker who has been with us for 11 years and we hope for 11 more - he is an amazing animal). On Saturday we got to meet the litter of puppies that our dog will come from. We have not been able to pick one yet but after meeting them all we know that any of them would be just fine with us - they all touched our hearts!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Grandparents Room

The name came to me as I looked aroung our guest room one day and I realized that a number of our grandparents were represented in that room by what we had chosen to decorate it with. The guest room was painted a bright blue when we moved into this house 5 years ago. Instead of taking on the task of painting it (there were other rooms that needed tackling first) I decided to embrace the color and make it work for me. And it did...
I started with the double wedding ring that my mom made my husband and I for our wedding. We began buying fabrics for it when I was still in elementary school and I knew from very early on that I wanted to have the traditional double wedding ring with a scalloped edge. The quilt is beautiful and I am honored to have such an heirloom to start passing on. The quilt has just the right blues to work with the walls and instead of seeing the bright blue walls you see this amazing quilt now hung on the wall to honor my boys's grandmother, my mom.

As you look around the room you see a cross stitched picture of a rose that one of my great-grandmother's made. My cousin bought it and it's pair at a family auction I was unable to attend and gifted me one and the other hangs in her home. I love that when I look at it I think of her as well as my great-grandmother who made it (she has an amazing story that I will share later).

The dresser in the picture above was my grandfathers and the blue compote on top belonged to my husband's grandmother.

The cross stitch in the picture above was made by my grandfather - my mom's dad. When he retired he needed something to keep him busy during the cold northern Minnesota winters so he took up cross stitch and each of us in the family have pieces that he made gracing our walls.
The other pieces are handmades I have collected including a candle jar my 9 year old made me for Mother's Day when he was little.

Perhaps my favorite pieces are the colorful pillows that are on the beds. Some were made by one of my great-grandmother's, a woman I remember visiting and mourned dearly when she passed when I was 17. I think one was made by another great-grandmother but no one knows for sure - it looks like her crewel work though. Others were made by me.

I recently received an addition to the pillow collection. My grandmother found this in her house and gave it to my mom to give to me. They aren't sure who made it but are guessing it was my great-grandmother. I absolutely love this piece! I love the simple applique and that feedsacks were the fabrics used. I also love that the hills are fields of flowers - my great-grandmother had beautiful flower gardens and this pillow is so fitting. It makes me think of her and smile...

Monday, April 12, 2010

And Then He Was Gold...

My oldest son recently started karate and tonight he graduated from his white belt to his gold - we are so proud of him! He really likes it and we like what he is learning and how he is learning it. My husband and I like the lessons of respect (teachers are all referred to as Mr., say yes sir or no sir when asked a question and they always bow when entering and leaving the studio). We like the boost in self confidence that he seems to get from the classes. The instructors are great and really relate to the kids. We don't believe in over-scheduling our children so this is his main activity and I think it is a good one. We tried t-ball and soccer and they didn't hold his attention. We tried dance and that didn't stick. Basketball was a go but that is only in the winter here as an organized sport. Karate seems to fit.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Now that winter is gone from Minnesota (and much earlier than normal) we have started exploring out lovely little area and are loving what we are finding...

Signs that the beavers and birds have been busy.

I am so looking forward to all the adventures yet to come!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

For The Love of Birds

(My Little Birdwatcher)

My three year old LOVES birds. He discovered them last spring and the love has lasted. We made him his own bird book of pictures we took of the birds visiting our backyard and some of his favorite books to carry around are our bird guides. Nothing like a then 2-year old sitting at his brother's karate lesson perusing Peterson's Field Guide to Eastern Birds. His room is hung with a barn owl mobile and a great blue heron mobile and a Canada goose one is in the works. He sleeps with a stuffed barn owl named Who-Who and has added a bald eagle, goldfinch and robin to his aviary. I love fostering this love and we have added many books to our bird library (I will post a list at a later date). We also have spent hours listening to different bird calls on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology web site. He is able to identify many bird calls now as we spend time watching and listening to what we see and hear outside. I love knowing that all he is learning and soaking will carry over to adulthood in some form.

Here are just a few of the pictures we have taken this spring in our own backyard...

Friday, April 9, 2010

First Major Attempt At Quilting

I have always wanted to try quilting but outside of the little dolly quilts I made as a child, I never took the big leap...until this winter. It was my first winter home as a homemaker and I think I needed another outlet besides knitting so I jumped into the world of quilting. Now, I am not a good pattern or instruction follower. With knitting or sewing I usually start with a pattern and then go off on my own. So, with quilting I kinda did the same thing. I gathered fabrics I liked and cut them into different size squares put them together in a way that pleased me and sewed. I then embroidered some pictures on the plain linen squares I had added in at random places. I even turned some tiny yoyos into blueberries and connected them with embroidered branches. Here is what I ended up with - a toddler quilt for my 3 year old.

My mom - an experienced quilter - came over and helped me put the back on (below), tie it and put on the binding.

I had such a good time that I have started a twin size for my 9 year old and the top is almost complete. I already have plans for a summer quilt to carry with us on our summer excursions.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Heirloom Gardening and Plants

I come from a long line of gardeners. I remember helping my great-grandmother and grandparents in their gardens as well as spending hours in our large family garden at home. It was something we all did as children - it was expected. When the seed catalog came my mom always ordered the childrens seed packet so that we could plant our own garden and it was looked forward to all spring. Now, I admit weeding was not my favorite and my mom admits that as a child it wasn't her or her sibling's favorite either. But my mom and I find it interesting that despite our dislikes of the "forced" weeding the likes and joys of gardening are what came through. She and her sister and two brothers all garden. My brother and I both garden (my brother even made it a career as a landscaper). My 9 year old son has requested his own garden this year and proved quite the little gardener already as he prepared the soil and planted lettuce, carrots and peas. I hope his love grows.

As I walked through my gardens yesterday I was struck by the history that was already visible there. Not just in the lessons I hope to pass on to my boys as we garden together but in the plants that have come to me from other family members. I am the third generation to harvest raspberries from the canes in my 2 raspberry patches.

My great-grandmother had them all along the end of her large farm garden and my grandparents have them all along one side of their large suburban garden (which takes up most of their backyard). I am already seeing lots of runners (above) so I am hoping that I will be able to pass some on to others this spring helping others make memories and heirlooms.

I also have a rose (below) and fern leaf peony that came from my great-grandmothers yard, then my grandmothers yard, then my mothers yard and now my yard. I love the history to that.

There are also some daisies, coneflower and horseradish plants that are second hand so to speak but came to me via a small town plant sale. Another families heirlooms that are now new heirlooms for my family. I love those sales where each gardener has their story about their plant and the story then becomes yours as you add the plant to your garden.