Tag Archive | outside

Monday Musing


Health; 50% of us have colds.  I am in that 50%

Workout; keeping a decent rate, don’t know what I’ll be up for today though but coughing should count as an ab workout.

Cat; I get requests… yes, Mr Pink is still here, still very cat.

Projects; I’m transforming Halloween costumes into real things 🙂


My post yesterday was a dashed off line I ran downstairs to do between dinner, kids bed, and having people over for a group game we are playing weekly on Sunday.  The day in general was perfect weather and I can’t help but feel that I’m losing half the space in my life very very soon because we won’t be able to be outside anymore.  We finished the gardens; took in any lingering veggies and our massive kale crop and the kids picked and sorted all the herbs.  The house smelled really good with a pound of mint, lavender, lemon balm, basil etc sitting on the table.  We have snow forecast for this coming weekend and I’m glad I got so much done yesterday, and, I’m glad to have spent one more good day outside.

  • I finally have the garage empty and ready for car(s)
  • The gutters are now clean – since our lawn guy was coming today, yesterday was the best day to clean them since I could just throw it all on the grass and he was going to clean it anyway.
  • All the outside toys and playhouse are packed away or ready for snow

I would have been content to keep churning through the chores but Zoe really really really wanted to ride her bike to the Y that is 2mi away.  She has been wanting this for weeks and I told her that it would have to be a day that both parents were able to go because Fiona can’t ride a bike that far so she and I would take the car.  (I also thought they might be too tired to get home again so I wanted a bail out option).  We went to the Y and she not only rode there, she did it at a decent pace and with no fussing AND she wanted to ride home again too.  While we were at the Y I did a workout and then we all did the pool and Zoe was swimming laps with Niamh when I got there.  When we got home I told them to run around the block so they can claim a triathlon day, and so they did.  In my workout I rode the bike and ran, and, I also swam so I had a triathlon day too 🙂

Saturday we actually ended up with an odd day.  We had plans for the day that got changed last minute so we but we figured something out.  The evening plans were thrown together on a whim on Friday and it actually worked out that we had someone to watch the girls (thank you vacation mom!) and friends were free and the Escape Room Groupon we got last year had an available slot for Saturday night so we did that.  It was really fun and we had a great group to do the puzzles.  We finished in 50 minutes and that puts us in the top 10% and we only needed one clue.  We technically didn’t need that clue because we were in the middle of checking our work and would have found our error, but, it did save us a few minutes.  I spend all night dreaming of puzzle room scenarios that would be fun to build, I think I need to send in a few of them to the place just so I get the brain space back!

Today is a ‘regular’ Monday and I’ve done my client work and next on my list is to dig out all the snow pants and real coats to see who fits and who needs.  I also plan on taking a rest, this cold is creeping in and my weekend was fun but not restful.

Oh!  I also still need to plant bulbs.  I decided to wait until someone else found the garden under the leaves to do the planting 🙂  Hopefully there are a few days lefts…



Wedding day +12 years

can’t help but still love my dress.  It hardly fit the day of so I never feel bad when it does not fit now.

In 12 years I have grown.  I grew 3 kids and now 1 of them was the photographer today. I grew muscle and strength and the ability to let go when I need to.

I’m glad for this lovely day, at 70 degrees, where my kids will indulge my wish for them to wear my dress (even if it isn’t on their wedding day).





This weekend made up for last weekend


nap – no sleeping but there is a resting girl

beard – it is not getting compliments, I fear it is here for a while

cat – still alive and getting checked out next week.  Kudos to Aminavast.

House – starting to look good every day, making progress on the black hole corners


This is going to be a bit of a brag, and, a very picture heavy post, but, I am super proud of my girls.  For the past few years, I’ve done the 5k at their school and they were my cheering section.  This year I was actually thinking about skipping (see my list of injury from last weekend) but Tuesday Niamh and Zoe were very excited to sign up and both promised they would run with me.  So I paid the fees and signed them up and crossed my fingers.

Both girls ran!  We started in the front of the group and stayed pretty consistent.  We passed people even.  At mile 1 we had a 9min pace and that was about where Zoe asked just how long this run would be.  There is no way to really describe a distance to a kid, they just have to experience it.  I was very confident that they could both do a mile, it was the second and third that were a question.



waiting on the 8am start line


Mile 2 we still stuck together.  I downloaded some music the night before and played it out loud for the run since setting them up with music and headphones was just not going to work.  I got ‘kids bob’ so I knew it was unoffensive and I think the others generally around us also enjoyed it. Toward the second half of the second mile, Zoe needed some walking breaks so Niamh took off with the gym teacher who was at our pace for a while.  Niamh finished in 32 minutes and 59 seconds!  She said she only walked a tiny bit and that has to be true because 33min is good even for an adult!



running girls!


Mile 3 was hard on Zoe, but, she kept going.  I think she was bored as much as anything.  The weather was perfect, we sang and skipped and I helped her run the majority of mile 3 and we finished in 36min.  I could have gone faster alone, but, I was very happy to run with my kids.  Lars and stroller Fiona finished 1st of the walking group so everyone had a good start to the day.

Saturday started early with that 5k and continued strong.  Lars went to workout and the kids wanted to ride bikes. They rode around the block for nearly 2 hours straight. They now officially have the hang of bike riding.  I was quite tempted to take everyone to the pool so we could have a triathalon, but, we already had plans to go apple picking.


We went picking at our favorite local orchard.  I like that its free to get in, the hay ride is inexpensive, the store is not overly tempting, and the apples are awesome.  It is also very ‘no fuss’ and really only has a few extras but it makes a perfect afternoon.  We brought friends with us so for this particular outing, we outnumbered the kids 2:1.

Apple picking was not the end of the day.  We had a games night planned so the kids got dinner and then too much tv and we had a bunch of friends over.  By 9pm I was yawning but I powered through!



please note my giant table extension that I made this week.


Sunday we were lazy for the morning but we had plans to meet up with an old friend who moved south of the cities.  We met at a midway point at the Mississippi river dam park and it is a wonderful place for kids with bikes.  There was a good ride across the river and down and around to a park with plenty of picnic areas.  The kids had not seen each other for almost 3 years and they were shy to start but by the end, there was “love yous!” and hugs for all.



8 years and still friends!


We called the day a little bit early because everyone was having a good time but it looked like we were coming up to the end of good behavior.  I love when we make the right call because 10 min out of the park it started pouring, and, all 3 kids were asleep in the car.  Since we happened to be by our mecca of a fabric store we stopped in and procured fabric for 3 Halloween costumes BUT I can’t officially talk about them until after tomorrow because that is my sisters birthday, and that is the rule.


So busy, so fun, so outside and athletic and just a good weekend.  In between things we ate and cleaned and got some things done for each activity but in general it was a recharging energizing weekend.


Putting them to work – playhouse in 5 days or less

Another perfect weather day today and I had a goal; finish the outside playhouse project!

We had a bit of a kid turnstile – Lars and Niamh took off early to an all-day archery event.  Zoe had a birthday party 1-4 (but Fiona and I were invited to come early and hang out) so in the hours in between I needed to

  1. Varnish the benches – the girls really wanted to help and help they actually were.  I muttered to myself that this isn’t ‘world class’ wood working anyway so a drip or a streak is not a big deal.  While we were working Zoe said the sweetest thing, she said I was a great blend of my parents; quiet time and reading like grandma and a really good builder like grandad.  Sweetest kid!  I stained them yesterday… look much nicer in ‘royal oak’ then ‘inexpensive pine’IMG_8883
  2. Put on a roof – Apparently it has to have a roof…  I went with the inexpensive and easy canvas tarp method.  Menards has 8×16 canvas drop cloths for $14 and that was the perfect size for my 8×8 area.  The plan was to sew pockets on either end and insert 2x2x8 wood ‘bars’ and using screw bolts mounted to the side of the house in the convenient wood surround of the random extra garage door – make holes to tie the wood to the bolts and drape the fabric over the top and down the opposite side.  The bar on the other end is enough weight to keep it steady but I’ll probably tie it down to the bottom of the fence.  A lot of this construction is less planning and more working with what is there.


    Roof!  Ignore the debries… I’m reusing some old wood from a failed project

  3. Finally, I wanted to do the marble in the fence thing.  I think it was one of the first things I pinned about 6 years ago and finally, today I did it!  It is an easy project; find a drill bit that is the right size for your marbles – to find the right size use scrap wood – and then just push the marbles in.  Our marbles were $5 for 200 so there is some quality control issues and not all our marbles were the same size but we found enough for it to work.  Zoe even took a turn with the drill 🙂

And we actually did all these things!  I need another coat of varnish but we also ate lunch and cooked dinner and drove to and from the party etc.  We also went to the store for drill bits and we picked up an inexpensive carpet so I have one more project; painting cool designs.

Oh – Don’t think I’ve actually mentioned much about this except in passing – I got it in my head to make over an odd section of our yard into a play space.  It was full of leaves and stuff to throw out so day one we cleaned.  The space used to be for a hot tub and had a garage door into the garage (weird?!) and three sides of privacy fence.  We took down one side long ago so I have 2 solid sides to work with.  I added two benches and cut out a window.  Started this all on Tuesday and today I feel like I need to clean up the tools and the kids can move in!

Outdoor furniture and decorations (rant)

Ok – I live in Minnesota.  It snows about half the year.  So when it stops snowing/being arctic you have a limited time to get outside and enjoy the really fabulous weather.  It really is nice here in the summer and we have a giant deck, a medium deck, a patio AND a front porch.  The pinterest side of me wants all the really pretty vistas and seating arrangements and planters but the person who hates to spend a ton of money on non-value add things, not to mention a person who really does not have endless time, ends up with a frustrating situation or 10!


  1. Furniture – a whole set of furniture dedicated to outside use.  Things that need moving and cleaning a minimum of 2x a year.  If you are just starting up your collection I would advise you to steer clear of the seats with cushions.  No matter how nicely you treat them after 5 years they are trashed….  I just looked at replacement and the best I can find is $50 a piece.  Good thing I can sew but I would rather some solution that makes these chairs usable without giant bulky cushions to store.
  2. Planters – Winter I can stick some fake pine trees and make them look nice but summer I’m stuck spending a small fortune on flowers or having pretty planters full of dirt.  And there isn’t anything that can be done about spring!  Flowers would die with our temp swings in the spring but pine trees look pretty silly.  I need options for spring…  I’m also going with tomato’s and herbs rather than flowers for the value-add side of things so my guests will have to be ok with dirt for a bit until the plants look like something.
  3. Maintainance – 2 years ago we used deckover for our deck.  It was not inexpensive nor was the painter to powerwash and paint.  Guess what?  there are chips now… not super bad but I’m not pleased that I have to deal with this again.
  4. flower beds and garden – I know this is an entire hobby for some people… I wish those people were near me because I have no idea how to make my space work.  I’m happy for the few plants that come back year over year, I dislike weeding because I am never sure if I’m pulling a plant out so I have to watch it for a while to see what it turns into and that equals a shaggy looking garden.
  5. Oh, and I’m also supposed to have a fairy garden?  WTF Pinterest…  I see why some people hate that site.  Everything is just so pretty but so unattainable without a horticulture degree, a personal greenhouse, and a team for helpers (who help and don’t just dig holes and put sticks in them)

I like our outdoor spaces, I want them to be nice and I’ve been spending hours a day cleaning up winter dirt, dust, leaves, weeds, junk from last year etc and then I get to work on the inside messes too 🙂  I want some brainstorming;


  • maintenance free planter ideas for spring
  • comfortable inexpensive options for replacing cushions
  • plants that grow without fuss

ok go!


I do enjoy this though…

IMG_8692 IMG_8789 IMG_8700 IMG_8439 IMG_8765

Ps.  I just bought wood to make a ‘club house’ see, pinterest has infected my brain, I can’t stop….

Ice Palace


health; Fiona and I have a cold – blah

workouts; mostly elliptical at home, no boot camps, 2 weight liftings

projects; new set on deck; set of blankets for the kids school carnival – easy and nearly done already

Big countdowns; Days to Texas; 11.  Days until Zoe’s first Camp; 5

Beard; has a note from the governor since he has to ‘be’ silent Bob again soon


I have no real excuse for the lack of posting last week.  I kept meaning to write something and I started one thing but the blog-elves never visited so I had nothing.

We were busy with the normal life stuff.  Fiona is in a no nap phase, probably growing out of them in general, so I have a less set time to do ‘work’ on the computer.  I need to just set up the laptop upstairs and I’ll have a way again but it needs a new cord, looks like something chewed the last one (like a rolling chair not a person).

Friday we took a trip to the Ice Castle AND we brought friends.  It was a  great trip, and lucky too, because it was the last night and we didn’t even know it!  Santa got tickets for the family from Groupon, it saved us some money but given the cost for a kid ticket we were about equal  on the kids and a head on the adults.  It did however, force the issue of actually going because we had already paid.  That is probably the #1 good thing about Groupon – it turns ‘we should’ into ‘we are’.

Quick view on IceCastle MN;

Cost – low, tickets online and only minor concession pressure

Must have – snow gear!

Fun Time – takes about 45 min to see/do it ‘all’ unless there is a show.  Depends on your kids how many times they want to slide and explore.  We spent 3 hours there.

Since this is our second trip to the ice castle and I’ve noticed a few pros and cons


  • The Groupon/website experience was maddening.  I got a set of 4 and a set of 2 but one can NOT make a reservation for 6 and use that combo, one needs to make 2 reservations each equal to the Groupon.
  • The only way to communicate with the event was via facebook and they were not fast.
    • Facebook was also very overly optimistic about things because when 5 people were asking about the fact there was rain and 45 degrees predicted they were not concerned.  PS we got there and the attendants were tell us it was the last night as they were shoveling slush into the rivers.
  • bathrooms…  I know this is a temp thing, and servicing might be a problem, but a bathroom inside the castle would be very nice.
  • No re-entry stamp?  I thought they did it last year but this year (on my trips to the bathroom) I had to just rely on our memorable faces so they would let us back in.
  • The Elsa this year looked like a drag queen.  She was not nice either.



  • Absolute best thing is that other than being an ice structure with an in and out tunnel, it was 100% different than last year.  That is impressive and a reason I will go back yearly.
  • The slide this year was much more fun for the kids, and, included slide mats
  • The fire performers were great.  I’ve seen plenty of these performances and these guys had the normal set of tricks but they were engaged with the audience, they went on for a long time, and the posed for pictures.
  • The hot cocoa booth was much more accessible this year
  • I liked the dispersion of benches and fire places!  It was 45 degrees, but, still nice to warm up.
  • The staff was all friendly and positive even with the drips and puddles
  • For all the trouble of the website, the check in process was super fast and easy
  • The beauty and design of the place might be the last thing on the list but seriously a work of art.  It was made to be looked at and the faces on the kids reflected that.
    • The internal lighting was so cool…


Our trip there was blessed because while it might have been full of drips, it was way better to not have freezing kids.  They loved everything and with friends along they all went off in different directions (it is not a big place) and had that glee of independence.  Everyone behaved well, there is something about bringing extra kids that makes them all better.  It is a ton of driving but worth it for the once a year fun.