Bloggy Vacation

Hello all,

I'm so sorry, but I'll have to take a short (few weeks) bloggy vacation. I'll try to check in a couple of times a week, and I'll be back definitely by August 16th, so we can celebrate my birthday together! Yay! I'll have to think of something special. In the meantime, let's just pretend I'm on vacation somewhere fun like Iceland.

I'll miss you all!

Gullfoss Iceland

Menu Plan Monday {17}

Monday - Hawaiian Chicken Kebabs (hold over from last week)
Tuesday - Haddock with Garlic Potato Smashers from Tamy at 3 Sides of Crazy
Wednesday - Summer Tortellini
Thursday - Lemon Pepper Tilapia
Friday - Campfire Cookout - anything that can be skewered and held over a flame (Hubby loved this and requested it again this week!)
Saturday - Gone to the Farm
Sunday - Pantry Cleanout and Leftovers

Join Menu Plan Monday over at The Organizing Junkie

Cherry Clafoutis

Alicia from Posie Gets Cozy made a cherry clafoutis a few weeks ago that looked absolutely delicious, so when I found myself with an excess of cherries this week, guess what I did with them?

Don't these just look delicious?

I don't know anyone with a automatic cherry pitter to borrow from, so I used my hand cherry pitter:
Cherry Pitter

Cherries just waiting to be covered with batter:

Doesn't this look delicious? You're supposed to wait for it to cool a bit before eating it, but well we didn't want to wait, so we put a little ice cream on top to help it cool off.
Cherry Clafoutis

Monday Musings {14} - de Montaigne

"Nothing fixes a thing so intensely in the memory as the wish to forget it."
- Michel de Montaigne

Cozy Trio Package

Look what came in the mail this week! My Cozy Trio picture from Blaze Danielle came in the mail on Thursday! I absolutely love it. Thanks so much Blaze!

It's wrapped so beautifully:
Cozy Trio

A sweet picture with a sweet note:
Cozy Trio

And on my desk in the office:
Cozy Trio

The Revival of Common Courtesy {1}

Tamy over at 3 Sides Of Crazy has started a weekly feature to share common courtesy and etiquette tips. Each week has a different theme, this week is Being The Perfect Hostess.

She asks, "What are the little things you do to make your guests feel at home?"

There are so many aspects to this, but I'm going to focus on overnight guests.

The little things that I do:
On the bedside table I put a small carafe of water with glasses, a small box of tissues and a small vase of fresh flowers, if they aren't allergic! Also, I have a small reading lamp, pen and paper and a few reading options. I stick with magazines or short stories, so they don't feel like the have to finish a chapter or book before they leave.
I have a chair in the room, and place extra blankets and sets of towels on a chest at the foot of the bed. I also give guests a choice of firm or soft pillows or both if they want.

In the bathroom, I have a small basket that I put out for overnight company with extra washclothes, an extra roll of toilet paper and a little "help yourself" note explaining where everything is. The cabinet is stocked with almost anything they might need, so they don't need to ask. I'm always a little embarrassed if I have to ask for something like Tums when at someone else's house. This way hopefully they don't have to ask and it might save them from feeling the way I do when a guest. Not that I ever mind if anyone asks... I just know that I'm shy about asking myself.

I always try to get a feel for whether they have allergies, or major food dislikes, their beverage preference, what time they get up in the morning, if they are morning coffee drinkers, what their preferred beverage is and what they like for breakfast.

And finally, before company comes I direct them to a couple of local sites, so they can see what's going on in the area for activities and entertainment.

The guest bedroom in our last house:
Guest Bedroom

Would You Share Photos Of Your Entrance?

Front Door

I got a lot of positive feedback on the Red Front Doors post, and Monique made a request:

You should ask everyone to send a picture to you of their doors... Or am I the only one crazy enough to really sincerely want to see them all?

Well, I'd love to see them, and I was thinking a Winter Holiday roundup would be lovely. Then Susan mentioned she decorates for Halloween, and I got to thinking Holiday roundups would be lovely. Then, it dawned on me that about half my readers aren't even in the USA and I'm sure their doors are lovely for their various holidays and we wouldn't get to see them.

So this is where I'm at, I have two polls in my sidebar on the right, please let me know if you decorate and would you share your pictures?
If you are reading this in a feed reader, please click over and fill out the two polls, and thank you for liking my blog enough to subscribe. It means a lot to me.

Pictures can be shared either as a full blog post or by linking to a picture url in Flickr or other photosharing software or on your site somewhere.

Edited to embed polls:
Do you decorate your front door for holidays or seasonally throughout the year?

Would you be interested in sharing pictures of your entrance?

I just love doors since they are the first welcoming sign visitors see to our homes, and I'd love to see yours.

Favorite Toy - Piggie

Sometimes parents have to make hard decisions.

Do you let your child go to school in the entirely outlandish outfit... that they dressed themselves in for the first time.
When is old enough to let your child go on their first overnight to a friend's house by themselves.
When is it time to let go of a favorite shirt or toy.

There are many systems that people advocate for the toy situation. Put them in a box out of sight, if they don't ask for it, it can go. What about when the toy is a beloved item, but it's at the point of getting dangerous, because it's worn out or broken? or it leaves a mess everywhere it goes?

As a child, I had a beloved purple patchwork pig. I LOVED that pig. I don't remember too many of my toys from early childhood unless I still have them or a picture to jog my memory. But I have always remembered the pig. One day I came home to find my beloved Piggie gone. At some point she had gotten a hole and started leaking the sawdust that was used as filling for her. I would always climb on Piggie and bounce on her so I can only imagine the sawdust that was getting everywhere. My mother felt it was time for Piggie to go, along with a few other toys. I don't recall if I noticed anything else missing, but I do know that I shed mighty rivers of tears over the departure of my dear beloved Piggie.

Until yesterday I didn't know there were any pictures of my beloved Piggie, then my mother sent me a little surprise via email. She's been scanning in and transferring many old photos and she happened across my first encounter with Piggie, when she was all new and for the part so was I.


Twitter Issues

Kim pointed out on her blog, Forever Daisies, that something had gone amiss with Twitter. Sure enough, I checked and I've lost a lot of the people I was following, if you happen to visit here and notice I'm not following you anymore, would you mind giving me your address to follow you on Twitter... I want to stalk follow each and every one of my lovely readers! And feel free to follow me, I'm having a hard time remembering exactly what everyone has for their twitter address. There is only so much guessing I can do before it makes more sense to just ask.

With all the problems lately are people starting to migrate to Plurk or other platforms, or are you all still using Twitter?

Red Front Doors

I just love a red front door, something about them to me says "Welcome, come on in and sit a spell."

We'll be repainting our house next summer, and the first thing I did was pick out the red for the front door.

The rest of our home is a sandy colored brick in front and siding to be painted along the sides and back of the house. Similar to the brick color in the third image down on the right side. We'll be painting all the window sills this summer with a fresh coat of white. The siding and front door will wait until next spring/summer. We'll be replacing and widening the driveway at that time as well. So it will be the perfect time to paint and not worry too much about getting paint on the driveway. In the meantime, here are some beautiful red front doors in flickr.

Red Front Doors | Candy Hearts and Paper Flowers

1. Red Door, 2. Magic Red Door, 3. The Red Door, 4. Red door, 5. The red door, 6. Red Door in Snow, 7. A Red Door...Somewhere in Southern California, 8. An enchanting welcome.., 9. Red Door, 10. Red Door, 11. red door in my street, 12. 05 020 North of San francisco red door., 13. Through a red door

Imagine my delight when one of the doors that came up was from Petite CasaPinka... I had to include it. It's the large one in the center. Petite CasaPinka belongs to... well, used to belong to, she has since moved... Pink Mohair and CasaPinka (same person).

So, what color is your front door? Do you love it? What color would you change it to if you could? Am I crazy for wanting a bold red? (It's ok if you think I am! I've heard you have to repaint more often with red, but I'm ok with that.)

Monday Musings {13} - Frost

"The brain is a wonderful organ. It starts working the moment you get up in the morning and does not stop until you get into the office."
-Robert Frost

Menu Plan Monday {16}

Monday and Wednesday are rolled over from last week.

Monday - Texas Grilled Steak with Garlic Potato Smashers from Tamy at 3 Sides of Crazy
Tuesday - BBQ Pork and Coleslaw
Wednesday - Tortellini, Steak, and Caesar
Thursday - Grilled Fish & leftover Smashers
Friday - Campfire Cookout - anything that can be skewered and held over a flame
Saturday - Hawaiian Chicken Kebabs
Sunday - Pantry Cleanout and Leftovers

Join Menu Plan Monday over at The Organizing Junkie

Happy 1 Year Blogiversary to Tamy!

My dear friend Tamy at 3 Sides Of Crazy celebrates her 1 Year Blog Anniversary today, please stop by and congratulate her! Her blog is a personal blog following her remodel of her home in Michigan's UP, and is chock full of delicious recipes, quilts, homemaking tips and gorgeous photos of her home, garden and life.

Congratulations Tamy, I baked these for you in celebration... we can share them virtually... simple vanilla with vanilla frosting... but well, never one to stop at simple, I filled them with seedless strawberry jam. Yum!


Hubby is celebrating as well, he's making sure each cupcake is up to snuff!

Look what she's doing! It's her blogiversary, I should be sending her something instead!

Metropolitan Opera House - Grand Forks

As we were wandering around Grand Forks the other weekend, we went down to take a few pictures of The Metropolitan Opera House. I just love the architecture of the building, it's by far my favorite in Grand Forks. The facade has been redone, and it is in the process of renovation internally. It will be converted into a restaurant and commercial storefronts and residential upstairs. I just love the look of the living areas, take a peak under amenties on their site.

The Metropolitan Opera House in 1907, image from Grand Forks Historic Preservation Commission:
The Metropolitan Opera House 1907

The Metropolitan Opera House in the early 1900's, image from the Orin G. Libby Manuscript Collection at UND:
The Metropolitan Opera House

The Metropolitan Opera House today:
The Metropolitan Opera House

The Metropolitan Opera House

ArtWise Tiles Around Town Square

While I was taking pictures the other weekend at Town Square, I noticed that the walls are lined with tiles of children's drawings, so of course I took a few pictures to share.

Art Wise Tiles

I had to know more about the tiles, so I searched online (of course!). I was delighted to find that all the tiles are based on art work of children right here in Grand Forks. ArtWise is an initiative in Grand Forks designed to promote art awareness among adults and art appreciation among children. It includes not only these tiles, but also art work displayed in various locations and businesses around Grand Forks. You can read more about it at the ArtWise website, and see more of the artwork.

These are just a few of the walls:
Art Wise Tiles

Art Wise Tiles

Art Wise Tiles

And my favorite image of the ones I saw, by Carli:

Art Wise Tiles

Town Square Farmer's Market - Grand Forks

As I mentioned, Town Square in downtown Grand Forks is starting to get busy for the summer. We went to the Town Square Farmer's Market for breakfast on our Anniversary and spent the morning listening to music, eating kuchen and drinking coffee. We got both a chokecherry and apple kuchen and split them, while sitting at tables listening to Megan Johnson. Megan has a voice reminiscent of Janis Joplin, and I really enjoyed the entertainment. I wish we had gotten a chance to go this last weekend as well to listen to Still Fighting It (Blog), but didn't get going early enough in the morning.

Farmer's Market Grand Forks - Entertainment

The kuchen was very good, I wanted just a little more tartness with the chokecherry, but the apple was perfect. The morning was fairly warm, but I needed a little pick-me-up so, I got a great cup of coffee from Porpoura, a fairly new coffee house in town.

In the far corner of Town Square, there is a play area for kids, and on the opposite side of the Town Square closer to the river they have a pony/horse ride corral set up.

Farmer's Market Grand Forks - Play Area

Farmer's Market Grand Forks - Pony Rides

It's really a little too early in the year for much in the way of produce, but there were a few baked goods vendors there and a Pride of Dakota products vendor. I managed to buy a loaf of banana bread, a loaf of pumpkin bread, and a bag of rhubarb to make a rhubarb cobbler.

There is also a variety of other vendors: jewelry, glass, soaps, quilts, etc.

Farmer's Market Grand Forks - Vendors

I love it when they get the water going over the wheel, although this weekend they only had it working on one side.

Farmer's Market Grand Forks

And a picture of the quilts for Tamy:

Farmer's Market Grand Forks - Quilt

Updated Blog Format

Well, now you get to see what I've been busy with for the last couple of days. I may still be tweaking things a bit, please let me know on this post or via e-mail if you see any problems or are having difficulty with any features. I've tested in Firefox and IE7, but not IE6, Safari or others. So, if you happen by here, and happen to use one of those, would you please let me know if it looks ok?
You should see the Post Title and Sweet Thoughts at the top, and a PostMark and Label Ribbon at the bottom. Thank you for your help! :)

Edited to add pic:
It should look similar to this, with the exception of the picture.
New Blog Format

Menu Plan Monday {15}

Monday - Girl's Night Out!
Tuesday - Unstuffed Cabbage with Ground Turkey From Dara at Chick In The Kitchen
Wednesday - Birthday Dinner Out for 2 friends
Thursday - Texas Grilled Steak with Garlic Potato Smashers from Tamy at 3 Sides of Crazy
Friday - Thin Sliced Flank Steak & Goat Cheese Sandwiches
Saturday - Tortellini, Steak, and Caesar
Sunday - Pantry Cleanout and Leftovers

Join Menu Plan Monday over at The Organizing Junkie

Monday Musings {12} - Beecher

"The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is that one often comes from a strong will, and the other from a strong won't." - Henry Ward Beecher

Gift Package From My Sister

I got a package from my sister in the mail this week, it included some Icelandic childrens books, and bland í poka (blend in a bag), essentially a variety bag of typical Icelandic candy. She sent me three childrens books that she picked up for me on her recent trip to Iceland: Ungfrú Heppin (Little Miss Lucky), Herra Lítill (Mister Little), and Úlfurinn og sjö kiðlingar (The Wolf and Seven Kids). Icelandic Childrens Books Icelandic Childrens Books This is bland í poka (blend in a bag), a variety bag of Icelandic candies. It has some chocolate covered caramels, candy coated chocolate covered licorice (the white balls), candy coated licorice (look like Good & Plenty's), licorice wrapped marzipan and the tiny little ones are chewy and fruit flavored. I LOVE chocolate covered licorice, they were the first to go. Blandipoka

Cozy Trio - Blaze Danielle

Isn't this just darling? It's a print of a watercolor and ink painting titled Cozy Trio by Blaze Danielle. I mentioned her work once before and she comments here often. I've gone back and forth over whether to buy it a couple of times now. I just love it, and when I peeked at her shop again today... it was still there, so it's mine now. I'm going to put it in my office for now, eventually it may find it's way into the nursery. Cozy Trio

My Garden Update

These are some daisies that came up and well even though they weren't planted and they are growing out the edges of the landscape cloth I'm certainly not going to pull them :) I love unexpected flowers... Daisies I love these pale purple delphiniums, the actual flowers on them are rather small. Delphinium My daffodils have bloomed fairly late this year. Now that they are finally blooming they're all coming out at once. Daffodils The irises that Tamy sent me are coming up. Yay! Iris

Plate Rack at AllSorts

Ok, this is going to be mushy silliness... but... I just LOVE Jenny at AllSorts... Remember she hosted A Post a Day in May, TWO months ago! (Doesn't seem that long!) Anyway... I always love her posts but look what she shared yesterday! Is that just the cutest? It's such a neat idea, I may steal it for above the changing table in the nursery.
And she just started an Etsy shop called Loopsies, and sold her first batch of Dollypop's last week. I'm looking forward to see what she features there in the future. She's showed so many cute things on her blog that I just love. I'm planning on making her advent calendar this year, it won't turn out as cute as hers since I'm not quite a skilled seamstress, but I'll try! Oh, and these adorable elf shoes!!!

Widman's Candy Store

Part of the appeal of any small city's downtown are the small locally owned shops that you can't find anywhere else. Grand Forks, like every other small city, has its own shops and one of my favorites is Widman's Candy Store. Widman's has been a staple in Grand Forks since 1949, and survived having 4' of water in the shop in the flood of 1997. Widman's Candy Store Widman's boasts 4 generations of candy makers, starting in St. Paul with George Widman's grandfather and currently the newest Widman's Candy Store is run by Carol Widman, George and Betty's daughter, in Fargo. Generations of Widman's candy makers: Widman's Candy Store This past Saturday we went downtown to the local Farmer's Market at Town Square, and then wandered down 3rd street to the Metropolitan Opera House for some picture taking. While we were down there we ducked into Widman's and picked up some Blueberry Zingers (chocolate covered blueberries), which disappeared quickly once hubby opened them (he LOVES blueberries). The exterior of Widman's: Widman's Candy Store Hubby likes Milk Chocolate and I like Dark Chocolate. I prefer fondants and caramels, he prefers nuts and coconut. Widman's has it all. They also have a selection of gift items, beautiful trays, plates and cups. Perfect for adorning with a selection of chocolates and serving. Widman's Candy Store While I was there I asked George Widman if I may take a few pictures inside the store. He said of course, as long as I didn't take a picture of him. I did happen to capture him in a picture, he was behind the counter and I had to have a picture of the counter! I don't know if he was serious, but just in case he was I've only pulled out a bit of the counter, so I am not putting him on the web. So you only get to see about a third or maybe a fourth of the candy counter. The other end of the counter is topped with jars of a variety of non-chocolate candies. Behind the counter is tray after tray of decadent chocolate goodness. Everytime I go in I get something different always coated in a delicious dark chocolate. Widman's Candy Store Here is a lovely article about Widman's by John Gilbert if you'd like to read more.