The Sculpture Garden

Remember last week, when I was making plans? Those plans didn’t happen. Darian had his heart set on going to see “the spoon in the cherry” after they talked about it at school last Wednesday. So instead of exploring the park less than ten minutes from my house (which I still really want to do by the way), we packed three Oranginas in a cooler and drove on over to The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.

It was pretty wonderful. We climbed on things that didn’t explicitly say to not climb on them. I took fifteen pictures of the same thing. It was hot. It was humid. It was a good time.

Standing Glass Fish
Standing Glass Fish
Sol LeWitt, X with Columns
Sol LeWitt, X with Columns
Spoonbridge with Cherry
Spoonbridge with Cherry, or as Darian called it “the spoon on the cherry”
Jumping on logs 1
Jumping on logs 1
Jumping on logs 2
Jumping on logs 2
Jumping on logs 3
Jumping on logs 3
Flower arch thing. I'm sure it has a name, but I don't know what it is!
Flower arch thing. I’m sure it has a name, but I don’t know what it is!
Sagacious Head 6 and 7 by Magdalena Abakanowicz
Sagacious Head 6 and 7 by Magdalena Abakanowicz
Looking out from the  Irene Hixon Whitney Bridge.
Looking out from the Irene Hixon Whitney Bridge.

Next visit we’re going to try and time it so that there isn’t a 35 minute wait for mini golf, because the course looked pretty cool. We had a blast, and my favorite part was asking the boys what some of the more abstract pieces were. I’ll bring a notebook to record their amazing descriptions on our next adventure.


 

My goal for this weekend- get completely packed for my four day cabin vacation. That also means getting Darian packed for his in-town-overnight-extravaganza since he won’t be coming with!  And now, my menu plan.

  • Monday Tee Ball day! Snacks before hand, stuffed shells cooking while we’re there, and when we’re home I’ll saute some green beans while the shells cool a bit.
  • Tuesday Near Ball day! Slow cooker chicken sandwiches with veggie sticks & crackers on the side. If all goes according to plan, I’ll have this packed to eat at the field before the game. A crockpot that has the lid covered in foil keeps heat remarkably well, and there is little to no chance of leftovers.
  • Wednesday Soy/orange/sesame baked chicken legs and stir fried rice noodles with veggies. I’m going to try and document the low and slow method I used to make these for the drive in last Saturday.
  • Thursday Cilantro/lime rice, shredded chicken in a sour cream and tomatillo green salsa sauce, and black beans all crammed into grilled stuffed burritos.
  • Friday  Slow cooker meatloaf, mashed potatoes and broccoli.
  • Saturday
    • Breakfast: Smoked turkey sausage and red potato hash, french toast, and fruit. Poached eggs over spinach for me because I don’t really like sweet stuff in the mornings.
    • Lunch: leftover palooza! With nachos! Then a birthday party in the afternoon! With ponies!
    • Dinner: Baked fish, baked fries, salad
  • Sunday I have absolutely no idea yet.

 

 

Minnehaha Falls: Then and Now

What a difference (nearly) two years makes. This past weekend, we made the trip to visit Minnehaha Falls. We do it often, I take pictures each time, and it’s always a blast. Except for the part where I get all choked up because they’re trying something new, or they’re just SO much bigger than the last time we were there. We go there at least once a month, so realistically it can’t be that big of a difference.

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This time however, I went far enough back to see a BIG difference. Not only a difference in the boys (sniff), but a difference in the falls themselves. In November of 2012 we were at the end of a season of drought. The boys were playing in a dry creek bed, and they were so itty bitty that I just can’t take it.

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They even found ice in the shallow pools and happily smashed it to bits!

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Fast forward to last Saturday, and the water level had changed almost as much as the boys had.

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They were wading with whitewater rapids it the background. And looking far too grown up for my taste. Has anyone discovered a way to rewind kids back to being baby sized?

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The water had even eaten up part of the path, so we didn’t go all the way to the Mississippi like we usually do.

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Also- do you see how the water is basically up to the top of that bridge? Here’s the boys playing under it in 2012:

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One last one of then…

Minnehaha20121117_7 And now…

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They’re so big and brave! Which is awesome. But I would like it to stop now, please.

[Insert sobbing here]

Back to business. Here is the deal: I have 10 million things to do around the house, outside of the house, and with the boys this week. There’s no Tee Ball or Near Ball because it’s a holiday week. There’s also no school or work on Friday, so the law states that we have to go swimming.

What does this all mean? It means I don’t want to cook this week. At all. But since that’s not actually realistic or affordable, here is the plan.

  • Monday Chicken with mustard-cream sauce, rice pilaf, green beans.
  • Tuesday Stir fried rice noodles with soy/sesame, beef, broccoli, carrots, and whatever other veggies I can throw at em.
  • Wednesday Cheese Enchiladas, salad, beans and rice.
  • Thursday Chicken thighs topped with peppers, onions and cheese. Served with Mashed potatoes and broccoli. This is faster and easier than it sounds, and only uses two pans, a cutting board, and a single knife when I do it right. It’s on the table in about 22 minutes.
  • Friday Burgers, corn, veggies and dip. The buns will be these overnight refrigerator rolls, made to the size of burger buns and topped with sesame seeds.
  • Weekend I have no idea. This past weekend I ended up making a delicious crockpot meatloaf recipe, so I’ll probably experiment with other crockpot options.

That’s all folks! Any tips on how to not turn into a blubbering mess every time I see old pictures? It would be much appreciated.

Plan implosion

Ok, so my menu plan didn’t *literally* collapse inward in a very sudden and violent way. But it came close.

Last week I had the blahs. I didn’t make much of the menu I had planned. The biggest bummer of all is that I didn’t make pasties, because they’re awesome comfort food, and I could really use that right now. Sigh.

The problem is, I’m pretty sure I had an awesome week. I think I was just too busy and drained by the number of “out and about” activities to appreciate it. Can I blame it on being an introvert? Maybe? Either way, now I’m going to do my best to recount all the good stuff that happened.

    • Monday- I did in fact prep and assemble the lasagna as planned, and it turned out really well. I alternated layers of the garlic-butter-sauteed-chard mixed with ricotta/mozarella/egg/parmesan, with layers of beefy marinara spiced up with fennel and Italian seasoning. Sauce on top, covered with foil while cooking, and topped with fresh grated parm when it was time to serve. I think I have a new preferred technique here!
    • Tuesday- My boss gave me four tickets to the Twins game! Score! I had both boys overnight, so we left as soon as we ate our lasagna dinner and took the lightrail to the ball game. Their dad joined us after he got off work. We had to leave after the 7th inning stretch because it was a school night, but the boys were happy to find out that the Twins won the next morning.

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    •  Wednesday- I actually got mowing done, and it felt good to have my yard look (temporarily) respectable. I did make the greek style salad with chicken, and it was good but it didn’t turn out exactly as I had hoped.
    • Thursday- I went to my first ever meeting of The Children’s Storytelling Guild. I’ve been excited about telling stories for a while, and got a lot of good feedback from the others there about my telling of The Sausage. It was fun to get the inside scoop from storytelling professionals, and get feedback from someone other than my five year old. We just had leftover lasagna for dinner.
    • Friday- Where did the week go?! I made us some to-go bbq chicken sandwiches with fruit on the side, which we ate in the car as we drove to NE Minneapolis. We went to a friend’s gallery event for Art-A-Whirl, and got to see a lot of cool and unique art. I also had the chance to catch up with former co-workers, who I now miss desperately.
    • Saturday- french toast for breakfast! I picked up my seedlings from Gardening Matters, and made a halfhearted attempt to try on summer shoes before heading to dinner with my friend Erin. We went to Boca Chica Restaurante in St. Paul, ate some good grub and talked, and talked, and talked some more.
    • Sunday- I took Darian’s Grandma with me to church, and after we had lunch I picked up Darian. We ran some errands, going to pick up more iron on patches for his pants, and get bright side walk chalk to replenish our supply. We played, we read together, I braided his hair while he watched Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 for the five thousandth time. I roasted a chicken for dinner and kind of scraped together the sides, but no one complained about it (other than me in my head).

So here’s the deal. This was all wonderful, really good stuff. Technically, I’m really happy that I did it all. I would have been sad to have to give up any piece of it. At the same time, I’m really not energized by this much activity, and I feel like I’m behind on everything.

This week, I’m vowing to take it easy. And I’m really, really going to try. Here is my best shot at a slacker meal plan.

    • Monday Shredded leftover chicken stir fry- broccoli, carrots, shallots in some kind of thrown together soy/teriyaki sauce. I’m making a big enough batch of rice to have leftovers for many other meals.
    • Tuesday Baked fish and shrimp, baked potatoes, salad.
    • Wednesday Romaine lettuce salad with balsamic dressing, dried cherries, carrots, broccoli, green onion, and probably sunflower seeds. Topped with chunky shreds of chicken, croutons, and mini cubes of cheddar cheese.
    • Thursday Rice with peppers, onions, carrots, celery, rutabaga, and seasoned ground beef. It’s like home made rice-a-roni. Or maybe a less dirty version of dirty rice. Some kind of side vegetable in here. Maybe asparagus?
    • Friday I have absolutely no idea. I’ll marinate on this a bit, look at my fridge inventory, and update a bit later in the week. I may get a few more things because I need to get to the store for milk!
    • Saturday and Sunday TBD. Again, I’ll check the fridge and hit the store.

There. I’m mostly planned, and a bit more thankful.

What do you do to perk yourself up when you start the week feeling exhausted?

The Weekend Hike

This past Saturday,  the Kelly boys and I ventured out for a hike at Minnehaha Falls Park for the first time this calendar year. Last year we went nearly once a month, but the cold and snow have been brutal enough here in Minnesota that we had not attempted our trek in some time.

We do the same route when we hike. We start at the top of the falls.

KellyBoys_MF1_20140419

Darian (my little one, black hat), usually has a stick to use for a weapon/walking stick/thing to point out interesting things and this time was no different. Kimathi (Darian’s older brother literally from another mother, rocking the Charlie Brown hat) will occasionally grab a stick, but he never keeps the same one for all that long.

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Check it out! It was in the 50s or 60s, and there were still giant chunks of ice in the falls. Then, we go down the looong stair case to the bridge below the falls, where everyone else is taking pictures, but we rarely do.

Then we start hiking down the path, towards the Mississippi river. Not pictured is the stop for peanut butter sandwiches and strawberries as the boys sat on a fallen tree.

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We hike, and we hike, and we hike until we get to this long path that kind of floats above the more marsh-y parts of the creek. The boys run ahead of me, until we get to the more fun, less path-like path.

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The tree roots are kind of like steps in some places, there are large rock-steps in others, and some of the path is downright precarious.

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The boys are pros at navigating the trickier parts of the trail. They run ahead at all the right times, then wait dutifully at the parts of the path they know I want to cross as a group.

KellyBoys_MF6_20140419Shortly after we make it through the more Mountain-Goaty part of the trail, we can see the might Mississippi river! There is is just past the bridge. Up and to the left of Kimathi’s Charlie Brown hat if you’re having a hard time locating it. Most all the benches at this part of the trail are more sculptural than functional. Beware of rusty screws.

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Oh, and there are the sandstone cliffs.

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There is tons of “graffiti” scratched into these cliffs. The boys always add their own bit, and do a pretty good job ignoring the more adventurous additions put there by some young adult. They couldn’t ignore the large naked lady though, it was about my size and must have taken ages for the artist to carve. If it’s still there next time I’ll take a picture!

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Darian always finishes with the sandstone before Kimathi. Here he is making a break for the Mississippi. The water was quite high this year- usually there is a large sandy stretch to the right of that bridge.

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But The Tree is still exposed! It’s one of my favorite features of the Mississippi river front after our hike. The roots are all exposed and climb-able.

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See how much use that stick is getting? It’s been about ten different things at this point in the hike. I love these boys.

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Now we’re at The Other Tree, which I always force them to go climb into for a picture. There are five different trees all growing together. Thanks for putting up with all these photo ops, kids!

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I keep taking pictures, even though they have no time to pose for me. Which makes me incredibly happy, by the way.

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There! They’re peeking out for a smile. I like that they’re so into what they are doing, that posing isn’t a priority. Sometimes the second a phone comes out they yell Cheeese! and stop what they’re doing. There is not of that nonsense on these hikes.

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Later on the walk back from the Mississippi river, we found a rock to rest against. This is the part of the hike where they inevitably regret going as far as we did. Fun fact- I was told by their father that those are gang symbols on that rock. I’m glad that even hoodlums get out and enjoy nature.

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Here’s the last picture of our hike before my phone died. You won’t get to see the wading area, where in years past they frolicked in the dry creek bed. Or the massive, steep stairs that can only be climbed if it’s turned into a competition about who can get to the top first. Or the odd “Easter Event” that the park was hosting that day.

I love this picture for so many reasons. When Kimathi (now 8) was Darian’s age (5), I often called him “Captain Caution” and had to encourage that he take even the smallest risks. Now, he walks across fallen trees. Then jogs across them. And my heart bursts with love and pride. Darian had to be severely encouraged to make it across the log, and he crawled on his hands and knees the entire way. He was so proud when he made it across that I could almost talk him into trying it again. But not quite. Next time!

Now, as per usual, here’s my stab at this week’s menu.

  • Monday Burrito bowls: Ground beef seasoned with salsa & cumin, pre-fab rice, black beans, lettuce, tomato, guacamole, sour cream, shredded cheese, and salsa. Not necessarily in that order. Garnished with a few tortilla chips. Carrot sticks on the side for the picky kid who doesn’t like fresh tomatoes.
  • Tuesday Sticky orange/teriyaki chicken drumsticks (baked then coated in the thick sauce just before serving), fried rice, potstickers, green beans.
  • Wednesday Junk food night because it won’t affect the kids! Darian is over at Kimathi’s house for dinner, so we’re having frozen pizza, nachos, and salad. And probably Easter candy for dessert.
  • Thursday Baked fish & shrimp, home made tartar sauce, creamed spinach, garlic bread made with leftover rolls from Easter feasting
  • Friday Sweet chili chicken, terikayi/peanut butter rice noodles with mixed veggies, sauteed broccoli, quick pickled cukes, carrots, and onions on the side, cilantro for garnish. Inspired by my beloved lettuce wraps from The Cheesecake Factory, but made at home to avoid the expense.
  • Saturday Date night! My sweetie is taking me out somewhere, he just doesn’t know it yet. If that fails, I’ll probably make coconut chicken curry again. I could easily eat this twice a week, and there won’t be any kids to complain when I make it as spicy as it should be!
  • Sunday Fancy Italian-American style dinner:
    • Cheese tortellini with pesto
    • Baked chicken “parmesan”: chicken thighs sauteed, then topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and a mix of panko breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, italian breadcrumbs, and melted butter. Broiled on low til breadcrumbs are golden
    • Fresh baked bread, served with garlic/herb infused olive oil for dipping
    • Sauteed Brussels sprouts with garlic

I’m sure by Saturday I’ll be itching for another adventure with the boys. What’s your favorite way to get out and do something in the Spring?

Ogres have layers.

Crusts have layers. And I have layers. But unlike my dear Shrek, I would love it if someone would compare me to a parfait. Parfaits are delicious!

If I haven’t met you before, I’m Liz. Please mozy on over to the About section and learn a bit more, if you feel so inclined. I hope to enrich the internet with some good, and some humor because I simply can’t help it.

Now, I’m off to pick up my dear 5 year old son. Here, enjoy a picture I took of him sledding with his older brother this winter.

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They’re just so gosh darn cute.