Monday, October 29, 2012

Fall Fun at the Westwood Nature Center

While I was in beautiful, sunny California with three gal pals over MEA weekend, the kids attended their first Halloween Party of the season. 

As the gals and I sipped wine at vineyards along winding country roads in Sonoma County dressed in a summer maxi dress and Target sandals, the Twinners were home in suburban Minnesota adding layers beneath their pirate costumes to attend the Westwood Hill Nature Center Fall Festival with Nana and Papa.
Contrary to some opinions, Marly is NOT a wench... She is a female pirate.
 I REALLY enjoy creating the kids Halloween costumes, rather then shopping off the rack. I know I have mentioned before my mom spent weeks sewing us elaborate costumes, and made whatever we choose. I do not sew full costumes, but create something unique and nice every year. This year the kids both choose to be pirates. Their ensembles are courtesy of two Etsy sellers, Goodwill, Party City, and some sewing supplies from JoAnne.

Charlie is wearing the monkey costume my mom made for Brett and I when we were little. I think it made all of us VERY HAPPY to see little man Chartlie in Grandma Marly's creation that is 35 or more years old. What wonderful memories...
 Off they went by school bus to the nature center Halloween Walk. Of course they got their faces painted. This is Marly and Dean's third year attending the event and Charlie's first.
I will be making some minor revisions (such as a red pirate head scarf) to Marly's costume before Wednesday. We don't want anyone mistaking our 5 year old for a slut while trick or treating or at the school party!!!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Our Less Commercial Fall

This year we missed the Renaissance Festival. Things just didn't line up for our day out with Papa and Nana. We also haven't made it to the Apple Orchard.

Actually, I was desperate to go to the Orchard last Sunday. The sun was shining and it was warm enough... but Mark appealed to our budget, and our earnest need for some true "down time" at home (something I am NOT so good at. I am GOOD at the run around). I am headed to California this week to visit a dear girl friend and Mark reflected on my upcoming personal use of our entertainment dollars. Instead, we did a little work in the yard and headed across the street to the river.

Did the kids want to go the apple orchard? Sure, but they wanted to go to the river just as much! It is me who LOVES the orchards suburbanites flock to in October. I love the wagon ride through the trees. I love the baked apple treats in the barn. I love Honeycrisp apples! I love watching the kids.  I know the years the kids will enjoy the orchard are limited. I must confess, I LOVE those photo oops in fall fleeces or sweaters with the bright, shiny apples on trees in the background. They are all over Facebook during Fall. Cute kids in cute outfits by pumpkins, or in a pile of straw with the orchard beyond.

So Sunday Mark grabbed his camera and we headed across the street and for a less commercia,l alternative fall photo opportunity.

 Back at the house, I FORCED the kids to put on their matching Land's End vests!

 The Coon Rapids dam is set so the water is low. We walked across to the island.
Marly enjoys collecting more shells on every visit.
Dean always finds some treasure or another to bring back with him. Antlers, fox skulls or something of the sort, sticks, old fishing poles. He checks every bottle he finds for a message.
There are roots and trees to climb.
No shiny apples, but happy kids on a happy, sunny fall Sunday.

We returned home to a crock pot of pork chops in apple sauce.

**Don't worry about the kids missing out, Kelly took the kids to a pumpkin patch the weekend before, and they are going to a Fall Halloween Walk this Saturday with Papa and Nana. I have their costumes already layed out since I won't be home to advise!**

Monday, October 15, 2012

Wine Tasting 2012

Jenny, Jeremy, Mark and I had so much fun on our fall wine tasting tour along the St Croix River last year, there was no question we would try to repeat the pleasurable weekend in an encore performance.

We actually ended up going the exact same October weekend as last year. This year the air was crisp and the skies threatened rain, but it was no matter to us. The wine was fine, and the leaves were on grand display ase cruised along the back side of the Forest Lake to the Wine Haven vineyard outside of Chisago. The tasting at Winehaven was actually our second drink of the day. The first was a Bloody Mary with our delicious lunch at the Dockside Cafe in Stillwater.

After tasting a wide array of red wines, white wines and specialty wines (including Cranberry and Pumpkin)  we headed back toward the river. We made a pit stop at Holiday for non alcoholic beverages (and CAFFIENE). Yes, I needed COFFEE at this point.

We crossed the boarder into Wisconsin and stopped at The Indian Creek Winery and Grill on Main Street in St Croix Falls. Since this "winery" is on Main Street, it is more of a "bar" and grill then anything else. We decided to fore go a paid tasting and simply decided to purchase a bottle of their "house" red to enjoy along with the hospitality. It was drizzling (snowing?) when we arrived. By time we finished the bottle, the sprinkles had ceased.

From there we headed a mile or two north to Chateau St. Croix (home of the endless Groupon/Social Living discount wine tasting). About once a month you can pick up online discount voucher for a wine tasting for two with chocolate, cheese and souvenir glasses.

And so we each turned in our 6 wooden nickels to taste the wine.
We ate the chocolate and the cheese.
We bought more wine.
We drank another glass....and we got out the camera.

After, we headed back toward Stillwater. Like last year, we happened upon the perfect pasture to watch a perfect and peaceful sunset. Per Jenny's lead last year, I was prepared with a corkscrew (and plastic cups) in the trunk, so we cracked open another bottle as the light waned in the west.

(Coming soon - Sunset pasture photos courtesy of Jeremy Lyons)

But, the day was not over. Back in town, we had reservations at Dominique Wine  Bar. Our meal was fabulous (so was the wine....).

and then we went to the bar.
and then we acted like college students and went through the Taco Bell and White Castle drive thru.
and then we went back to our hotel room with out bags of food and laughed .
and then we woke up in a wine induced haze and ate free hotel breakfast.
and then we went HOME and took a nap at 10 am before we had to pick up the Twinners from Kelly and Pat's.

Next Year? The Thomberg Lyons wine tour weekend will  most likely head south!

**What I Wore Footnote**
Skinny Jeans - KUT from Hot Mama
Sparkly Tank - Banana Republic last winter (Christmas gift from Chris)
Hoodie - Prairie Underground from Hot Mama (Christmas gift card from Mark plus some)
Boots - Super clearance from DSW two years ago.
Gold Scarf - B.P. last year
Long locket necklace - Esty seller!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

What I Wore

There are a plethora of blogs devoted to "What I Wore". I enjoy visiting them from time to time, for outfit inspirations. Anyone who knows me (even a little) might know I love to shop.

I shop online at places like Etsy, Amazon, and exclusive web shops (like ModClothe or Shabby Apple where I have never actually purchased anything). The usual fixed stores I frequent include Banana Republic, the cool new JC Penny, Land's End in Sears (for my kids), or DSW for shoes. I shop in boutiques - those expensive ones (like Hot Mama), and those dedicated to inexpensive trend pieces (like Lillian's). I shop in thrift stores (like Goodwill and Savers) because you never know what you might find.  I shop in many a store I happen upon in my goings-on. I always scour the clearance rack. Does anyone ever pay full price?

When an occasion or event comes up, I immediately think about the "outfit". Truth be told (on the down-low) I am already scheming for the Crystal Ball gala in MAY!

(This whole post is very honest reveal of the VERY material side of my phyche, and the  embarrassing amount of time I invest in my own personal appearance...)

So when I learned Mark's downtown Minneapolis Caribou was hosting an Amy's Blend Launch Party for their 'bou bean that supports cancer causes each fall, I immediately began to wonder, "What will I wear??"

The launch party was dubbed "A Gala Event to Kickoff the 2012 Amy's Blend Collection"
The tag line said, "Deck Out in your Best Pink"
(The color this year is fuchsia to be more exact.)
It was set for last Saturday.

I heard Mark's boss was wearing cocktail attire with pink/fuschia, thus setting off my wardrobe search escapades -Online/Offline/Everywhere. I quickly decided a fuchsia dress would be less then flattering on me, but I searched anyway. I thought about black, grey or navy, with pink accessories. I stalked E-bay, Amazon, Zappos, Overstock, Piperlime, Etsy, Polyvore, and a multitude of sites I will likely never google upon again for dresses, shoes, a handbag, and jewelry.

I searched for two weeks. I ordered several items (some late in the game) and hoped they would arrive on time (and had a reasonable return policy). I bid (too low) on some E-bay jewelry. I went to antique shops inquiring after vintage fuchsia crystal jewelry.

I shopped to the MAX.

Toward the beginning of the search, I purchased this black tunic from an Etsy seller. I had been eye-ing it for many moons and decided to pull the trigger. After it arrived, I went to JoAnne Fabrics and purchased chiffon to sew a replacement fuchsia sash.  I returned to JoAnne a few days later for black fabric. The shirt/tunic was shorter then I hoped, and wondered if I could improvise. While there, I discovered hot pink, stretchy, ruffle tiered fabric. Could I create an easy-sew, three seam, maxi-skirt on my own? I had managed the sash. Already, I was worried my other options would fall flat....
Magenta Pink Earrings, Cabaret, Crystal, Dangle, Long, Silver, Sparkle, Simple, Dangly, Fushia, Hot Pink, Rose,
The stunning earrings I bought from an Etsy jeweler arrived in the post last Thursday, along with a custom order necklace she whipped up to match .  The only pair of affordable non-hooker-esqe, fuchsia pumps (with less then 4 inches heels) were delivered Friday. I was armed with an arsenal of in-expensive accessories from Claire's, which I planned to return when un-used.  I wanted OPTIONS.

At about 8:30 pm Friday, my various fuschia game plans were failing miserably. The black shirt (with self-made hot pink sash) wasn't coming together the way I wanted. It got a big red X from dear husband. His rejection was relevant. I needed a dress!

I moved on to the black frocks in my closet (...too formal... too tight in the wrong spots because on my pudge...didn't really lend themselves to the get the idea.). I wanted to look "just right" for the 'Bou corporate staff who would be attending, and the managers and staff Mark oversees. At 9:30 pm, Mark went to bed...while I sat at the kitchen table, searching the web sites of stores I could pop into Saturday morning.

Top of the list - Francesca's (cheap enough, several potential items noted on line, convenient).

On Saturday, Mark went to work early for the Amy's launch. The kids watched cartoons downstairs. I returned to the kitchen table and struggled to sew up the maxi skirt.  At 11:30 Saturday morning the Twinners and I set out on the final hunt. I was dressed in the hot pink skirt with a denim shirt. Maybe my silly sewing project would work... with the right shirt - BUT PROBALY NOT. (..and I wouldn't be able to wear the pink heels with it.)

I bribed the kids with a trip to Cherry Berry if they would politely visit up to three stores at Arbor Lakes. Guess what? They were almost angels and we only needed to visit one retailer (plus Ulta for lipstick).

This was the final cut on the "pink carpet" Saturday night!
(photos courtesy of Jenny's Iphone)
Fuchsia Shoes - Fergalicious from Amazon
Royal Blue Dress, Fuchsia Clutch and Earring - Francesca's at Arbor Lakes in Maple Grove
Fuchsia Belt - already owned from Target
Fuchsia Bangles - Claire's
Mark's pink and grey striped shirt - Nordstrom Rack
Mark's Suit - already owned from Banana Republic
Saturday night at the "launch" Tim Mahony played, there was a "pink" fashion show, pink velvet cupcakes, a DJ, a nice crowd, and nice sales of Amy's Blend.  Jenny joined me. After all of my super silly, totally materialistic whoo ha, and outrageous time spent over my damned party attire, the two of us quickly slipped away from the "gala" for a non-caffinated big-girl drink and a bite to eat at a nearby restaurant.

**If you all vote I should  have went to Francesca's first, I wish I had. (I will be adding them to stores I frequent). I love the little blue dress I found. It was affordable (sturdy polyester), and I suspect I will wear it with leggings and black heels to Brett's Birthday dinner at Manny's, and to dinner in San Fransisco when I visit Dawn later this month.
**If you think I am a bit obsessive about my wardrobe, you are correct. It is too much fun for me.
**I spent about two hours (or less) at the pink shin-dig. I refuse to tally the hours or dollars invested in the costume madness leading up to the shin-dig.
**No, I am not sure where I am going to wear the fuchsia maxi skirt I sewed for $14.
**Yes, I will be making returns to Claire's Boutique with bracelets, a fuchsia bedazzled purse from the kid's section, and pink rhinestone heart earrings.
**I have wanted the black racer-back, bowed shirt from the Fleet Collection for a year, and will defend this purchase even though it was a FAIL. It sells out each season before they make more.
**The fuchsia shoes are more comfortable then expected and may get worn at this year's Crystal Ball, which has the same color theme. Hopefully the gorgeous earrings from Etsy have the same potential.  I did wear the earrings and necklace to dinner at the Macaroni Grill with jeans on Friday when my Cousin Jared flew into town.
**The earrings I found and wore the same day of the event cost $14.00. The ones I purchased from Etsy were more...
**For anyone who recalls this year's Mother's Day post, I do have a really cool fuchsia necklace I 'gifted' myself from Patina. If you all suggest I first begin shopping in my closet, and build from there, this is usually a good idea.
**I now own black leggings, which I thought I could wear with the black tunic, which I needed anyway, and wore to church this Sunday.
**Before the event, I got a mani/pedi for the first time in eons, with hot pink polish.
**I broke out Spanx (already ownded) for this event. I curse the extreme effort required to pullll and tugggg on Spanx to encase one's flubby thighs and torso like a sausage!

In case you are wondering, I am not proud of all of this.


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