Monthly Archives: January 2012

History Matters

Minnesota History Center

This afternoon, I went to the Minnesota History Center. Nestled between the Capitol, Xcel Energy Center and the Cathedral of Saint Paul, it’s bizarre that I’d never been here before. You see, I’m completely fascinated by history. How others lived before us. How we came to be. How I came to be.

So I was unexpectedly elated to see traffic congestion (seriously) of people swarming to soak up some history. Today I also became a card-carrying member of the Minnesota Historical Society–definitely a deal. My photo shows the ceiling of the Great Hall, with its eight-pointed star. The points on each star form the letter “M” for Minnesota, also known as the North Star State.

Transporting through time, I learned from the exhibit “1968” about a year of comedy and tragedy, achievements and violence, love and hate, and the hope for a better tomorrow. I became versed in Minnesota’s Greatest Generation, of the Depression, WWII and the post-war boom. I watched a recreation of a WWII combat flight in a C-47 plane. I heard the tale of a soldier who survived Vietnam. So much history, so many stories. Even more intriguing though was overhearing real interpretations of history by the visitors around me. And if you listen carefully, the museum experience becomes that much richer.

I learned how Minnesota’s landscapes, people and communities have changed over time in “Home Place Minnesota.” I stepped into an “Open House,” the recreated home of 470 Hopkins Street from the the Railroad Island neighborhood on St. Paul’s East Side. I read stories of the families who lived there, from the first German immigrants through the Italians, African-Americans, and Hmong who succeeded them.

It all reminded me that people change and places change. But, the memories we hold dear to us shape the stories of our lives and become our history and influence our future.

January 21st, 2012|Photography, St. Paul|2 Comments

Key Lime Shooters

Key Lime Shooters

I enjoy testing my culinary skills in the kitchen, and I like entertaining. So, I was surprised last night to realize my last dinner party was in September 2010–holy smokes! My menu included an assortment of appetizers (almonds, cashews, grapes, cheeses, crackers, spinach dip and salt & black pepper chips), romaine salad with carrots, walnuts & Craisins, and the main course: three roasted chickens with carrots and salt-crusted baked potatoes.

One of my dinner hosting rules of thumb is to delight with dessert. Because if all else fails, your guests won’t desert you before dessert. Here’s the recipe for Key Lime Shooters for your next party.

Key Lime Shooters

  • 1 box (3 oz.) sugar-free lime Jello
  • 1/4 c. boiling water
  • 2 containers (8 oz. each) key lime flavored yogurt
  • 1 container (8 oz.) Cool Whip thawed
  • 1 graham cracker pie crust
  • Whipped cream (optional)

Dissolve Jello in boiling water. Whisk in yogurt with wooden spoon. Fold in thawed Cool Whip. Refrigerate overnight or at least 2 hours. Crumble the graham cracker pie crust in a Ziploc bag to use in assembling your shooters. Using shooter glasses (votive candle holders found at your local hobby store), add a spoonful of graham cracker crumbles for your base, layer some key lime filling, repeat and then top with graham cracker or dollop of whipped cream. Enjoy!

Another variation: chocolate fudge pudding and crushed Oreos.

January 21st, 2012|Food & Drink|Comments Off on Key Lime Shooters

Fireside Chats

Fireside Chat

If you’re lucky at my office, your status meeting might turn into a fireside chat in the Great Hall. And some random trivia: the term fireside chat was coined on the date I celebrate my birthday. Except not the 1933 part.

January 19th, 2012|General, Photography|Comments Off on Fireside Chats



Sopa was on the minds of many today, as evidenced by the Internet blackout of popular websites in response to SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and the discussion storms throughout the Net. If you never noticed, then I guess you didn’t have 37 Wikipedia searches that wouldn’t work.

Sopa was on many Minnesotan minds, as evidenced by the empty shelves of saltine crackers. The bitter cold is back. So, I made chicken wild rice soup. Not homemade by definition, but homemade enough (add-in ingredients) that it still makes you feel good.

About 10 years ago in Spain, sopa was on my mind then, too. I asked a store clerk where I could buy some sopa, and I proceeded to explain in charades by lathering myself up with sopa, washing my chest, arms, and hair. The clerk gave me a puzzled stare. Trying to figure out where I’d gone wrong, I slowly realized that I’d just demonstrated bathing with soup. Oops.*

* For the record, soap = jabón in Spanish. Beginner’s mistake!

January 18th, 2012|Food & Drink|Comments Off on Sopa

Pink Elephants on Parade

Orchestra Hall

Whimsical blue tubes erupt around the exterior of Orchestra Hall in downtown Minneapolis. These playful, architectural adornments look a lot like sousaphones. And in my imagination, I half expect to hear them making music from one of my favorite childhood movies with the song Pink Elephants on Parade.

January 17th, 2012|Minneapolis, Music, Photography|Comments Off on Pink Elephants on Parade

I Work Out

Trigger Point

New year’s resolutions like healthier eating and regular exercise are not that surprising to me. Yet, I was surprised to find them on my own list this year. Somehow my favorite routine to hit the gym 5-7 times a week had fallen out of favor, as I got into a new groove and had fewer desirable gym options along my short commute. And while I’ve returned to the home of the Pillsbury Dough Boy, I certainly have no intention of becoming one!

Today at work, I joined the BizicallyFIT Health Challenge with a team of coworkers. Maybe some competition will be my motivation. There are no easy solutions, no fast results and no substitutions for making balanced food choices, counting calories and exercising daily.

I’m making a more concerted effort to stay fit and resume my routine. With resistance bands, a pull-up bar and more, tonight it began. For realz. (Yes, I actually said that earlier today, and no, I have no idea why.)

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How will you become a healthier you in 2012?

January 16th, 2012|General|3 Comments


Papaya 2

Stepping under the canopy of palm fronds, I quickly traded the crisp cold for humid air and growing things. The $2 suggested donation was a fair exchange for a 20 minute escape within the Como Park Conservatory in St. Paul. (If you’re in Chicago, another one worth visiting is the Garfield Park Conservatory.)

I noted the textures and colors of mid-morning light, as leaves swept past my arms and palm branches brushed my hair. I weaved around the source of things found in my spice rack like black pepper vines, cinnamon bark and allspice, as well as banana plants and barren fig trees. Then, I caught the spidery-looking stems and nine-lobed leaves of a papaya tree, and that’s how today’s photos came to be.

January 16th, 2012|Nature, Photography|Comments Off on Papaya



Another milestone, another year,
Marked by candles and laughter,
and friends who draw near.

Happy Birthday, Pauline!

January 15th, 2012|People|Comments Off on Candles


Piano Keys CD stand

My favorite thing in my living room, this CD stand has no ordinary design. It’s one of a kind. Handcrafted with care, my grandpa—a woodworking hobbyist—recreated a CD stand I saw in a catalog. I should note one key difference: It has 88 keys just like a real piano. Each cut individually by hand. On both sides of the stand. With a total of 176 hand painted keys, it’s the Steinway of CD stands.

I own 400-some CDs, but only the best are selected for display. (Disclosure: You can see this includes my own music.) It’s fitting that I’d take this photo today, since my grandpa Joe later called me on Skype. He, my grandma and I connected in living rooms from snowless Minnesota to snowbird city, Arizona.

My grandpa’s handiwork reminds me of what you can accomplish when you combine patience, creativity and concentration. Most of all, that CD stand I see every day reminds me of my grandpa.

He’s one of a kind.

January 13th, 2012|Music, People|Comments Off on Handcrafted


Lion King - Orpheum Theater, Minneapolis

Disney’s The Lion King:  Equally as magnificient as the Minneapolis premiere I saw in 1997.

January 12th, 2012|Minneapolis, Music|1 Comment