Archive for October, 2011

Halloween, Road Trips and Cookies. Oh, My!


It’s been a while since I’ve updated my blog, and I’m sorry about that. Life is hectic! But as you will soon see, I did not waste one precious minute of my free time honing my photographic skills. I figured if I threw a pretty dish towel under objects, they would look 10 times better. So I’m pretty happy with that! Too bad I didn’t iron the towel first, but hey: Life is busy!

But happy Halloween! I celebrated by making these darling little chocolate cutout cookies that are high in the cute factor but not so high in flavor. Though they contain nearly 2 cups of sugar, they taste salty to me, so the recipe’s in the trash. But hey: Cute is cute. And even cuter under a yellow dish towel with some artfully arranged gourds, don’tcha think?

Saturday was the last hurrah for the Duluth Farmer’s Market for this year. I’m sorry to see it shut down for now, since it was such an enjoyable visit every Saturday. I liked the homey, old fashioned feeling of picking out produce fresh from the farm, talking to the growers, and seeing crowds of other people enjoying the day. It’s not a feeling you get at a supermarket, though they do have their place. (And I’m usually in one of ’em.)

Here’s Farmer Doug, pressing apple cider with some little kids. The apple scented air was pretty nice! I don’t know how I managed to snap a photo just as that little kid was bending over, but I hope some day he’ll laugh about it. (I already am.)

Also went back to Delta Diner a few Saturdays ago with friends Tracy and Jessica. Those girls know how to do a good road trip! We stopped at every yard sale, thrift shop, and gift store along the way. Between Duluth and Iron River, there aren’t that many, but we didn’t miss a one.

Had to wait half an hour to get into the diner, but the weather was beautiful and we waited at a picnic table outside. I think we all had cameras with us, but not a photo was snapped. Just how it goes.

I ordered a mushroom and Swiss cheese omelet, and it was fabulous. The toast was dripping with butter, which is the way toast should be served. Do they make their own bread there? I don’t know. It was awfully good, though. So here’s some free advertising for a diner that deserves it:

So back to the road trip. At one of the yard sales, where the guy selling stuff hadn’t market any prices on any of his junk and in fact walked away as soon as we drove up, ka-jackass-chooo!, I was stung by a bee or a hornet or a yellow jacket, or some yellow flying insect that landed on my shirt, followed me to the car, and took a bite out of my back to let me know he was there. I hope he died quickly.

But the sting was taken away, so to speak, at the next sale we found, in someone’s huge garage on Highway 2. Along with a new book of matches from the Duluth Athletic Club and an old book of linen photographs of the Pennsylvania Turnpike System (for friends Cathy and Pat in Pennsylvania) I found two little things that go along with one of my favorite big things.

Here’s the big thing that is sitting on the hutch in my kitchen. It doesn’t have a lid, but I don’t care. I couldn’t love it more. It was a gift from my sister Kim, who can always spot things she knows I’ll treasure.

And here’s a picture of the two little things sitting next to the one big thing. They are not all made by the same company, but don’t they look like they belong together? Who could resist that smiling tomato face? Not me! “Would you like more salt in your tea, Aunt Alice?” Perfect!

The salt and pepper shakers twist open at the bottom, and the twisty part is china or plaster or whatever these things are made of, so it would be very easy to break them. And yet, over the years, nobody did. Amazing. If you had a salt and pepper shaker collection, you’d covet these.

In other social events, one of my friends named Marilyn came over for lunch yesterday, which was a lot of fun. We worked together back in the 70s and 80s, and recently reconnected. (In one of those supermarkets!) Turns out that aside from our mutual love of tuxedo cats, we’ve read many of the same books. We spent a great deal of time combing through my bookshelves and talking about authors and good reads. What fun!

Marilyn is on the search for an adult airedale to replace her last one who recently died. Airedales, apparently, are not as abundant as tuxedo cats. So if you know of one up for adoption, give us a jingle!

This¬†Wednesday is a chili cookoff at work, so tonight I am updating my blog and making some prize winning chili, which should win me one of those snazzy tote bags that was leftover at one of our fashion or auto shows. Ha ha. Well, a prize is a prize, and I think I deserve one. But I’d better get going. As my friend Quinn would say, That chili isn’t going to cook itself.

Sad but true.

How’s everything in your life?

Fall Weekends.


Fall is here. I concede.

Doesn’t mean the weekends can’t still be fun, though, and when you are young and beautiful and wealthy, as I would like to be, the sky’s the limit.

But even beyond that, you can still have fun. In fact, in some ways it’s easier, but I’ll save that story for another time.

Last weekend my sisters and I ventured out to Delta Diner, since we’ve heard so much about it and wanted to try it for ourselves. (Highway 2 to Iron River, turn right on Hwy H, drive about 10 miles, Bob’s yer uncle.

It was a beautiful fall morning, and the colors were brilliant. The menu at Delta Diner is limited (only on weekends, perhaps?) to about 5 breakfast items and a Blue Plate Special, but it all sounded really good to us. I found it a bit disconcerting to be eating something called a “Dutch Baby,” but it was in fact an oven pancake with strawberries and whipping cream, and no babies were harmed in the making. They do need to call it something else, though. It made me think of battered fish fingers, which we saw on a menu in England years ago, and we alternately wondered whether fish even had fingers, and if so, how many would you have to eat?

Here’s a dopey photo of me and my sisters. I’m the one with the sun shining through the back of her head. I’m not sure why the waitress didn’t find a better position from which to take the photo, but she probably gets asked 1,000 times a day to snap a photo, and maybe by now she doesn’t even pay attention. Ho hum.

That’s me in the corner with the halo I can’t seem to lose, and my sister Kim is sitting next to me, wearing glasses. In the yellow shirt is my sister Be, and behind her is my sister Steff. We also have one more sister, the very youngest, who lives in Minneapolis and so we don’t get to see her too often. But these sisters and I have been getting together for Saturday lunches for about the past 30 years (I know, we don’t look much older than that) and it’s always fun.

After consuming the Dutch Babies, we drove through the countryside to our destination, Rice Lake. We wanted to shop at Bargain Bill’s, and so we did. What a great place, if you like schlock. And really: who doesn’t? There are acres of stuff from grocery items to dishes to hardware to rugs to party supplies to craft supplies to yard ornaments and still more. Who wouldn’t love Bargain Bill’s?

We also went to an estate sale (Lord, please remind me that I do not need 17 toasters, and that I do not want to end up like that woman!) and Rice Lake’s wonderful Goodwill store, the St Vincent de Paul place, and some other thrift/consignment shops. We gave the mall a pass. Had lunch at a pretty good Mexican place, and stopped in Trego on the way home for pie and coffee. Found a roadside pumpkin stand, too, where I bought the perfect pumpkin for the front steps for a mere $2. You can drive past my house and look at it. (Please drop the ¬†$2.00 “looking fee” into the mail slot. I bought the pumpkin on the honor system, and I wish to uphold the tradition.)

So that was one beautiful day. The weather was gorgeous, the company was fun, we relaxed and laughed and felt happy to get away from it all for a while. My sisters are lots of fun, most of the time, which is something I hope they say about me, too.


Meanwhile, on the homefront, some kissing has been going on. Winston and Mittens can now meet face to face and do that face-sniffing thing, without coming to blows. I call it “kissing,” but I think it’s that perfunctory kind that they do in movies:

Winston: “Nice to see you tonight, my dear. You’re looking lovely.”

Mittens: “You old darling.”

Kiss, kiss.

I do not have a picture of said affection. But trust me. It’s cuuuuuute.

Summer Weekends.

It’s 10:00, Wednesday night, October 5, 2011, and in Duluth that’s autumn. But I just came in from outdoors, where the air is still warm enough that I didn’t need a jacket. That’s my kind of autumn… not the frosty, bundle-up kind of weather that will be coming all too soon.
I love summer weekends. I’m trying to drag them out as long as possible, like I do with my birthdays. They’ve been so fun. Beautiful weather, beautiful Duluth scenery, getting together with family and friends, lunches with my sisters, yard sales, drives up the shore: I couldn’t love Duluth more than I do in spring or summer.
One of my favorite weekends this year took place about 3 weeks ago, when an impromptu lunch date developed with my two of my sisters (I have four of ’em, so that’s 50%!) and my three beautiful nieces, two of whom have beautiful babies. The third has a beautiful puppy, but that particular baby stayed at home.
We congregated at my sister Be’s house, and took a few photos there:

Heather, Madison Olivia, and Madison's mom, Courtney

Gabriella points at Madison's feet. I'm not sure why.

Our destination was the new Lighthouse Restaurant, now relocated at the old Emily’s place at Knife River. Of course we would have to stop at yard sales on the way up there, but there weren’t many, and since we were in two cars, we managed to all arrive at the same time. It was one of those gorgeous summer days; not too hot, not too cold. Just right, proclaimed Goldilocks.
Lunch was pretty good. The Railroad Museum in Duluth was running old engines that day; the steam engine that everyone loves, and a few other relics. One of them stopped right on the trestle outside the restaurant, and Be and Gabby went out to see it, so that Gabby could wave at things. That is her favorite pastime these days: waving. She’s good at it!

Niece Katie, sister Be, and Gabby at the restaurant. Part of Courtney at the end of the table, feeding Madison

The best part of lunch for all of us was Heather’s announcement that she is pregnant again, and will have a new baby in March. Such happy news. She was teary-eyed when she told us (from happiness, I’m pretty sure) and I felt sort of choked up, too. As far as I’m concerned, we can’t have too many babies in this family. That was better than dessert! I wish I’d snapped a photo at that moment, but I was slow to react, a fact which shocks nobody.
For dessert, we walked across Hwy 61 to the Great Lakes Candy Kitchen, a wonderful confectionary shop run by friendly, interesting folks who take the time to tell you about their creations, and let you watch how some of it is made. Here’s a great photo of Gabby, enchanted by her choices. (Just like Great Auntie Patt!)
Outside the store is a small picnic area with swings and hammocks strung between trees, probably for those who find themselves in some kind of sugar stupor after shopping at the store. We sat outdoors and talked and enjoyed the air and the scenery. A perfect day!

Outside the candy shop: Courtney and Madison, a pregnant Heather and Gabriella

Courtney and Madison, niece Katie and the waving Gabby. So long, folks!

Tomorrow I’m leaving for an annual “Sisters Day Trip,” in which four of us will enjoy breakfast at Delta Diner, assuming we can find it, and then off to Rice Lake, Wisconsin, for shopping and fun. But that’s a whole other story, and another set of out of focus and poorly-cropped photos.
Bet you can’t wait!