Monday, June 22, 2009

Kelsy & Sara Day

I'm not a parent. The rules about not having favorites don't apply to me. I can say with little to no hesitation that my niece/goddaughter Kelsy is my favorite of my brother's five (almost six!) kids.

That isn't to say I don't love the rest of them more than they can imagine, but Kelsy's always going to have a soft spot in my heart. She was assigned to me -- some smidgen of responsibility for her welfare placed upon my shoulders -- when I was twelve. That's younger than she is now, for those of you counting. Her mom and dad asked me to be her godmother and, while I only had a vague sense of what that actually meant, considering the days of that having any kind of official meaning are long gone, I decided it meant that she was supposed to be more important to me in some way than any other kid around.

The problem with that equation is that for the last 7+ years, my brother and his family have lived nowhere near us -- anywhere from a 4 1/2 hour car ride to a 4 1/2 plane ride (at minimum!). So the part about presence being more important than presents that Chris and Paula impressed upon me when asking me to be her godmother -- that wasn't much of an option once they moved, unfortunately, and the "ce" turned into a steady flow of the "ts" variety to compensate for my absence.

But not last week! No sirree! Chris had a last minute trip to the Twin Cities for a buying show and asked me if I wanted to spend a couple of days with my beautiful, nearly grown up niece. Of course I do!

We did all kinds of super fun stuff. The great part about hanging out with your 13-year-old niece is that you get to be a kid again. We meandered around Rice Park when the St. Paul Central Library wasn't open yet (drat!) and briefly walked through the Landmark Center.

We checked out the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden,

then walked Lake of the Isles. Yes, that's her poking a fish with my permission. I'm only slightly ashamed (of myself for letting her, and of her for wanting to, but since it's already dead, it seemed less egregious).

We had ice cream at Sebastian Joe's before lunch (!!!), and rounded out our midday eating with a turkey-bacon-croissant melt (with salad greens, I swear!) at French Meadow Bakery.

And all of this was before seeing "Up" in 3D, going shoe shopping @ DSW, and then to Borders to get Kels a new Manga novel.

I'm pretty much the best aunt ever. And way, super lucky.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The gaunlet has been thrown: the Rice family weight-loss challenge

My birthweek festivities turned into a license to eat like a linebacker for a month. And one month turned into two. And three pounds to lose morphed into a full twelve (twelve). Since Eric is notorious for avoid all fruit and most vegetables (and could probably stand to lose more than five pounds), the situation seemed ripe for a plan.

The challenge: the first to lose five pounds and keep it off for a week wins!
The prize: the loser has to plan, shop for, and prepare dinner for both of us for a week.
Bonus: a reason and way to use all/as much as possible of our weekly CSA share.

Check in at Food if by Land, Food if by Sea to check out the foods we make to reach our goal!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Flowers and Humidity

Two of my strongest memories are the smell of the old fern room of the Como Conservatory and the sight of the RC Cola machine at the entrance to the fern room. I remember my dad taking my brother and me -- it seems like it must have been a hundred times, but in actuality was maybe less than a handful. We'd walk the inside and make our way around the loop, stop at the RC Cola machine to get a can of our favorite soda, then open the doors to this magical, misty, musty room where the stone floor was just damp enough to make you question your step and the dank, humid air got caught in your throat just a little. I'd get some change from my dad and throw one coin after another into the moss-covered wishing pond that was fed by a trickle of water fed down the rocks.

They tore down the fern room a couple of years ago to add on a new visitor's center that serves as the gateway to the zoo grounds. That was in 2005. They've *almost* gotten the smell back. But, they probably won't ever have an RC Cola machine waiting for me again. It'll never be the same.

But that doesn't mean that it isn't a great, cheap way to spend a questionably cloudy Sunday. Clutching our suggested donations (Ooh! Paper money!), my friend Katie and I crossed the river and made our way to Como Park.

The Sunken Garden smelled intensely of orchids, and had the biggest lilies I've ever seen (but none of them seemed photo-worthy, apparently, so don't bother searching for a shot of them).

We made our way outside to the Japanese Gardens. The overcast sky made for some great photos.

Back inside, we found ourselves in the North Garden. It didn't hurt that the temperature difference coming in from the brisk air outside made our lenses foggy. I dig the ethereal quality it gave the few shots I was able to get.

The center area ("Palm Dome") looks a little worse for the wear, unfortunately.

We didn't venture into the zoo part of the grounds, but I'm so excited! The new polar bear habitat, Polar Bear Odyssey, is set to open in 2010! Poor bear(s) won't have to swim in heart-wrenching circles all day, everyday anymore.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The days fly by...

To our friends and family who expect this to be updated somewhat regularly, I'm sorry. We've been busy with highly mundane things like working (Eric) and job hunting (me), which doesn't make for particularly engaging blog posts. So, to keep you updated in the most efficient way possible, here's a list of what we've done recently:

- Celebrated Jade's 21st birthday and her and Joe's engagement (in the same week!)
- Eric and the band are working on writing and recording new music so they can start booking gigs. Stay tuned for more on that in the next few weeks, we hope.
- I took a food photography class through Minneapolis Community Ed -- hopefully you've noticed a difference in some of my posts on FoodifbyLandFoodifbySea.
- Cleaned up an apartment owned by Urban Homeworks, an organization that works to provide affordable housing in the Twin Cities, with our friend Greta.
- Saw our friends Lynn and Sean get married at the very fun Wabasha Street Caves (Finally!!!)
- Traveled to Chicago for Eric's cousin Randy's high school graduation (the Portillo's hot dogs and Dunkin' Donuts were an added bonus, of course).
- Had a few showings of the condo, including one (absurdly low) offer. We're still crossing our fingers, but not holding our breath that we'll sell it soon. Tell your friends about it!

And probably the biggest update (but still not whole-blog-post worthy) is that, although I'm going to continue my formal job search, I've decided to focus my efforts on freelance writing and photography. If you need anything written or photographed, or know someone who does, let me know!