Anniversary 2011

Friday
Our 7th wedding anniversary was a weekend-long affair, with plenty of fun for all three of us (next year it will be four, how crazy)! Natalie spent Friday night with Jenna's mom for her very first away-from-home sleepover. We went out to dinner at our local malt shop, played Skirrid, and watched Juno at home. Wild night for us old folks.

Wait, I should mention the gifts. Last year I made a lot of effort and spent a not-insignificant amount of money on jewelry made with the traditional 6th anniversary element of iron. Then I decided to make that a tradition and then I didn't do that. The wool gifts I found on Etsy were too expensive and I wasn't confident she'd like any of them. I made her a mix tape instead.

But look, I also got her a nice bouquet of flowers in our wedding colors and a card with Ariel (the little mermaid) on it. She got me a very thoughtful gift of a mini-donut maker and a Dilbert book about management (p.s. I'm hiring my first employee soon at my day job).

Saturday
Time to make the donuts! I did cinnamon-maple because it was the only kind in the recipe book that we had ingredients on hand for. Then I picked up Natalie from grandma's house, where she had a great time, and didn't want to leave.

We left her with my mom and drove to Minneapolis for a crazy afternoon of shopping at the Lake Street Savers, just like last year. I purchased another obscure old board game called Twixt, and Lottino for playing with Natalie. Someday I might write a series of posts on the weird games I've found at thrift stores. I love these things.

Dinner was at French Meadow. Jenna had a veggie burger and I tried their Tempeh Reuben with an Alaskan IPA. I have to say, I prefer the less-healthy version of the sandwich at Hard Times, slathered with dressing and sauerkraut. The chocolate torte thing I had for dessert was good though.

Sunday
We skipped church to help move a piano and then we didn't move a piano. Instead, we drove to Goodwill and I loaded up with more children's books. After nap time we drove to Como Park for the rest of the day.

We started with a walk around the zoo; Natalie's first real trip since she was a little bitty baby. Then we rode a train together and she sat on a pony cart ride all by herself, another first! Afterward we spent a couple of hours at the Japanese Lantern Lighting Festival. Most of that time was waiting in line for food.

By chance we ran into the good Doctor and Mrs. Vono. We had to run because the veggie egg rolls sold out before Jenna reached the front of the line, and Natalie was exhausted. Back at home I made two batches of ice cream: Mini M&M for the girls, and Grasshopper for me. Happy Anniversary!

Twins 5, Red Sox 2

My boss gave away his personal tickets in the Legends Club level to the person who could come up with the best reason for going, which allowed me to take my dad to his first Twins game at Target Field after all!

We started out with beers and the amazing Vincent Burger at the Town Ball Tavern. Then we found our way to the seats, which were great; there was no one behind us except the waitresses(!) who took orders for drinks delivered to our seats. Fancy!

The game was close until we scored three runs a fantastic eighth inning, and then shut the Sox down in the top of the ninth. It was a beautiful night outside with nearly a full moon rising in the sky and we were treated to fireworks when the Twins won. We had fun, the end.

Matsuri Season

Pic nicked from here

It's late summer and that means time for all our local festivals! We probably won't be attending the State Fair this year but there are plenty of other options. I took Natalie to Chaska's River City Days one morning to kick things off. She got a balloon animal and an armload of used books from the library sale, we snacked on fried foods, and she was spellbound by a Tae Kwon Do demonstration.

This weekend is the Carver County Fair in Waconia. Natalie and I had never been to either of these events, but Jenna used to go to this one with her family when she was a kid. It was pretty impressive as county fairs go! There was a petting zoo of exotic animals, plenty of events, and Natalie's favorite part was riding the carousel.

The highlight for me was the food. And the pi├Ęce de r├ęsistance, without question, was the poutine. We walked the whole grounds evaluating our options until I saw it: a giant, colorful display, proudly hawking this near-mythical delicacy from Quebec. Natalie loved the fries, and I shoveled the whole mess into my mouth with delight, savoring every bite. Poutine! I miss you already.

Ice Cream Test Kitchen: Baklava Gelato

I couldn't even find a recipe for baklava ice cream online, so here's a truly original creation! The base is a simple honey gelato and I mixed in almonds, walnuts, and pistachios. It's not bad. Not what I had in mind, but it gives me direction for my second attempt.

My mistake was grinding the nuts like I was prepping actual baklava, which leaves a big pile of sugar, cinnamon and allspice. After mixing, those flavors diluted throughout the mixture and the nuts just taste like raw nuts.

What I should have done is candied the nuts first, encrusting them with sugar and spice, and preserving the pure honey flavor of the gelato itself. That would present a more complex flavor profile and approach the savory/sweet balance I'm aiming for. Lessons learned!

Upcoming public appearance: $99 Sale

I will have a piece on display at The Soap Factory $99 Sale in September. It's supposed to be a secret who made what, so I guess I can't show it yet. The art is displayed anonymously with artist information available to patrons after they purchase. I'll throw it up here after the show is done.

I will say that I'm excited at the possibility of selling more original art and thus adding further legitimacy to my claim of being a real artist. Participation is by invitation only. Plus, the sale is a fundraiser and all proceeds benefit the gallery, so that should increase the odds someone will buy it!

Race planning

This January I resolved to run a half-marathon before the end of the year. In exactly one month I will attempt my first half-marathon race. I have three primary racing goals:
  1. Have fun
  2. Don't get hurt
  3. Finish the race
I'm not even sure about the order. I'd get a little bit hurt in order to finish, as long as I'm still having fun, I guess? Don't get seriously injured, maybe that's a better goal.

Training is going well. There's a lot of road work going on around our neighborhood which turned the city into a big hilly gravel playground; perfect for trail training! This Friday I will try to run a half-marathon distance of 13.1 for the first time. At this rate the actual race will be a snap.