Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Minnesota State Fair

Lest you think this post is all about what we did at the State Fair, it's not. It's about the food! Of course one of the main things we do at the fair is eat, and although we still have to go back so I can get a malt at the Dairy Goodness Bar and a Pickle-on-a-Stick, we did try some interesting new foods along with our perennial favorites.

Mini donuts from Tiny Tim's.

 One of my first stops at the fair is always Tiny Tim's Miniature Donuts. There are a few different options for mini donuts at the fair, but I've always preferred Tiny Tim's. Not sure why...although it may have something to do with that perfect sugary coating...

Pineapple cone from Dole Whip.

I don't think this is new, but this year my husband happened to pick up a cone at the Dole Whip stand. The description for their cones says  "non-dairy fruit based desserts" so it's technically not ice cream. I guess I'm not really sure what to call it, but it tasted like pineapple and was absolutely delicious! We will be making another stop at their stand before the fair is done.

Bucket of chocolate chip cookies from Sweet Martha's Cookie Jar.

What's a trip to the fair without a stop at Sweet Martha's? Incomplete, that's what. Just wish the All the Milk You Can Drink barn was a little closer...

Yep, that's my son with a mini donut in one hand and a cookie in the other, chillaxing at the fair. 

Potato chips on-a-stick.

Ok, I can't remember the name of this one or where it came from, but it's basically thick cut potato chips that where fried and seasoned and served on a stick. One of the best things I've tried so far. (Update: Find it at the BBQ Baked Potato stand.)

As usual, we had to make a stop at the U of M building (my husband is an alumni and huge Gopher fan).We happened to get there when they had Floyd of Rosedale out of his glass "cage" for pictures (3:00-4:00 PM daily). 

It's been a few years since Floyd last came to the Minnesota State Fair - see the University of Minnesota vs. University of Iowa scores recorded on the base. Just ignore the 2008 score. That's a painful memory for any Gopher fan...

Walleye fries from Giggle's Campfire Grill.

This year we tried the Walleye Fries at Giggle's Campfire Grill. Giggle's usually has really good food (I really like their porcupine meatballs), but the walleye fries were just okay. 

Beer on a stick from Summit Brewing Co.

One of my favorite foods on-a-stick is actually a drink. Summit offers a flight of beers served on a special paddle made just for the fair. This year they were serving up their Extra Pale Ale, Oktoberfest, and Horizon Red Ale. The Red Ale was great (normally I'm more of a stout fan)...not sure if I even got a taste of the other two.

Cheese curds from the Mouth Trap.

Cheese curds are another one of those foods you can find anywhere on the fairgrounds, and although the lines are always long at The Mouth Trap, their cheese curds are definitely worth the wait! I'm not much of a fan of fried cheese curds in general - usually too much breading, not enough cheese - but they are one of my can't miss foods at the fair.

Jamacian Jerk Chicken Wings from Harry Singh's.

Probably one of the best food vendors at the fair, Harry Singh's Caribbean Restaurant never disappoints, especially if you're in the mood for something spicy.

Jamaican Jerk Fries from Harry Singh's Caribbean Restaurant.

New to the fair this year was their Jamaican Jerk Fries. The first day we went my husband brought these back with ketchup on the side. I avoided the ketchup and ate them plain. They were so good we got them again the next time we went to the fair. This time my husband brought them back with this mysterious orange sauce on the side. Umm...immediately addictive, but once I stopped eating them my mouth started burning in a way I have never before experienced. I've eaten a lot of spicy foods in my life. (In fact, when I was a kid, I once drank tabasco sauce out of what I thought was a teeny tiny ketchup bottle. Didn't eat ketchup again until I was in high school.) I'll probably go back for more Jerk fries with the insanely spicy orange sauce (I mentioned it was additctive, right?), but next time I'll fill my 32 oz. water bottle with milk before stopping at Harry Singh's.

Honey Weiss from Leinie's Lodge.

Technically Leinenkugel's is a Wisconsin beer, but when you spot Leinie's Lodge it's hard to pass up cold beer on matter which state it comes from.

Flight of wines from MN Wine Country.

A few years ago they opened the Minnesota Wine Country wing in the Agriculture building at the fair. It's nice having a place to get a glass of wine, and fun tasting all the great wines produced right here in Minnesota! The three I tasted this time were Prairie Smoke (a dry white from Northern Vineyards in Stillwater), Nova (a rosé from Morgan Creek Vineyards in New Ulm), and a Raspberry Wine (from WineHaven Winery in Chisago Lakes). I liked them all, but Prairie Smoke was my favorite - I love a good dry wine. 

Abe's only one. Are kids this young supposed to demand you stop at every toy cart you pass?! I'm pretty sure you don't need an inflatable Sponge Bob, babe. You don't even know who that is yet...

Chocolate Covered Jalepeño from Andre's Watermelon.

So we had to try the Chocolate Covered Jalepeños from Andre's Watermelon. Unfortunately we tried them after Harry Singh's Jerk Fries (and what I can only assume was a Habanero Pepper Sauce). The jalepeños reopened wounds that only had a sip of beer and a few small glasses of wine to heal. After one bite, we quickly headed to the milk barn. I managed to take one more bite and finish off two glasses of milk before packing the rest in a Ziploc bag to share with the rest of Noah's family. They're currently sitting in my fridge waiting for a brave soul to eat them...

Big Fat Bacon

"Offering one-third pound slice of bacon, fried and carmelized with maple syrup, served on-a-stick with dipping sauces." I tried this the first year they had it at the fair. Don't remember it being carmelized with maple syrup, or any dipping sauces, but it wasn't terrible. However, if you prefer your bacon crispy (as I do) this probably isn't the food for you.

Pronto Pup

If there's one food at the fair that I think everyone gets at one point or another, it's a corn dog. Pronto Pups are by far the most popular. (There are eight Pronto Pup carts on the fairgrounds!) My husband won't get one from anyone else.

Corn-on-the-cob from the Corn Roast.

The freshly roasted corn-on-the-cob they serve at Corn Roast is actually one of the reasons I go to the fair in the first place. Can't miss it!

Sweet Corn Ice Cream from Blue Moon Diner.

Another new and tasty addition to the fair this year was the Sweet Corn Ice Cream at the Blue Moon Diner. It was served with sweet corn brittle on top, but they also offer a cinnamon-blueberry or caramel bacon sauce. I hear the blueberry sauce is delicious...may have to go back for more.

Anyone have favorites I haven't mentioned? New foods we have try? I'll try to post a few more food reviews this weekend before the fair ends, and maybe even make a list of my don't miss foods at the fair! 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Abe Lincoln Printable

As promised, I'm going to post a few patterns, printables, and tutorials for some my DIY projects in Abe's room. 

When I was choosing art for this wall above the dresser I knew I wanted to include a quote, but with so many to choose from I had to figure out some way to narrow my options. I decided to choose who I wanted the quote from and went from there. Abe Lincoln seemed like a natural choice, although most of the quotes I found weren't really relevant to a baby. (I use Brainy QuoteThe Quote Garden, and Think Exist when searching for quotes). I liked this one though...

I printed it on Epson Velvet Fine Art Paper (it looks and feels like letterpress), although any heavyweight paper would do. Are you raising an Abe, Lincoln, future president...or just like a good quote? Download it here to print you own.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Nursery Source List

Haven't seen our nursery yet? Check out the full tour herehere, and here. Then come back here to find out what we bought and where!

Paint: Walls - Benjamin Moore China White, Trim - Behr Ultra Pure White
Crib: Pottery Barn Kids (Kendall Fixed Gate Crib)
Sheets & Crib Skirt: Dwell Studio for Target (Hippo)
Crib Quilt: Handmade from vintage sheets

Sheep Mobile: Handmade
Ring Stacker: Handmade, pattern by Heather Bailey
Bookshelf: Target, already owned
Vintage Metal Locker Bins: Flea market
Blocks: Handmade
Vintage Toys: eBay, flea markets

Floor Lamp: Ikea, already owned
Glider: Hand-me-down
Rainbow Quilt: Handmade, gift from a friend
Yellow Toy Bin: Target
Vintage Toy Box: already owned
Curtains: Handmade
Dresser: already owned, refinished
Changing Pad: Pottery Barn Kids, hand-me-down
Artwork: Giraffe - Rollover Designs on Etsy, Rhinos - Avalisa, Chair with Balloon - L.B. Stewart on Etsy, Snorkel Scrapbook Paper - Cosmo Cricket, Growth Chart - eeBoo

Picture Frames: Ikea (Ribba)
Pirate Robot: Oh Dier
Shelves: Ikea (Ribba Picture Ledges)
Wall Lamp: Ikea (Tassa Natt)
Baby Book: Rag & Bone
Photo Albums: Kolo (Blue - Luxury Vineyard, Brown - Noci)
Other Toys: Manhattan Toy, Plan Toys, Viking Toys, Haba
Rugs: Ikea (Erselv)

That about wraps it up for the nursery tour and source list. Please let me know if I missed anything!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Nursery Tour - Part II

Yesterday I blogged about this half of Abe's room (here):

Today I'll focus on this side:

So the crib was the only piece of furniture that we bought for the room. We started looking at cribs around the time that cribs with drop-down sides were being recalled. I wasn't sure I'd be able to get a baby in and out of a crib with a fixed gate but we decided we'd rather be safe than sorry. (Since then I believe all the drop-down cribs have been recalled!) We looked at so many cribs before finding the Kendall crib at Pottery Barn Kids. It seemed a bit expensive (although we bought it on sale), but when compared to the cheaper ones we looked at, this one just felt sturdier and worth the extra money. 

Oh, and we saved some money by buying a Sealy mattress at Sears for around $60. Pottery Barn only had a couple options and the cheapest was at least twice that price! There is a standard size for crib mattresses but apparently it can vary widely, so we made sure the mattress fit snugly before using it. We've been really happy with this crib and even with the mattress at the lowest setting, I'm still able to get Abe in and out without a problem. Phew!

One of the few toys rescued from my childhood was my obviously well-loved Misha Bear. Abe loves him, although I suppose his beady eyes are probably considered choking hazards by today's standards. The gorgeous quilt in this photo was a gift to Abe from my friend Becky (married to my husband's best bud from grade school). She makes me want to take up quilting!

I love how the colors of the quilt really pop in this dark corner of his room, making it much more cheerful. The glider was a hand-me-down from a friend and the bookshelf next to it was one I bought while still in school. Not the prettiest piece of furniture but it came all the way from New Orleans with me so apparently it's been useful. It was the perfect size for this little room and the adjustable shelves meant I could fit all of his books on it, even the really tall ones. 

I never thought I'd be one to arrange books by color, but I have to say, it really comes in handy when your searching for a favorite bedtime story!

I made these wooden blocks for Abe using unfinished cherry wood blocks from A.Drauglis on Etsy, paper from Cosmo Cricket, and this tutorial from Martha Stewart. Now I'm sort of wishing I had made fabric blocks instead - he likes to throw these and they are NOT soft.

I bought the vintage locker bins at an occasional sale while assisting on a shoot for Country Living a few years back. They fit perfectly on the bookshelf and hold a ton of stuff. I made the handwritten labels by pasting paper (leftover from my wooden blocks) on flat promotional magnets (the kind we often pick up at the State Fair).

I love how easy it is for Abe to find his favorite toys in these bins, and how easy it is for me to throw everything back in and pop them on the shelf when it's time to clean up. He's already starting to help put  things away, so I'm hoping he keeps that up!

I love vintage toys! (Even have an entire board on Pinterest dedicated to stuff I played with as a kid.) I often bemoan the fact that so many toys these days require batteries. Remember the ding-ding of the doorbell on the Little People house, or how the barn mooed when the door opened, or the charming music box record player? No batteries required. Most of our vintage toy collection was either picked up at flea markets or bought on eBay. We bought this train for just $5 at our favorite flea market in Duluth. My brother claims that I'm buying all the toys we played with as kids...and so what if I am...?

The vintage cash register is one of my favorites. Although just the other day we discovered that Abe can fit the 10¢ piece in his mouth but can't figure out how to get it out. I guess they discontinued some of these toys for a reason... Still beats the cash register my nieces have with the beeping scanner gun that is so annoying. And maybe this one will help him learn some math. It doesn't accept credit cards...

Speaking of money, I couldn't decide on a piggy bank for Abe, so I made this one from a canning jar as a temporary solution. Kind of cute, eh?

So here's a shot of the whole bookshelf. Books, toys, CDs, clock/radio with CD player, fabric ring stacker (more details on that here), oh and a stack of rhinoceroses on the wall. The rhino print is by Avalisa (purchased here). I pretty much love all of her work, but since I only had room for one print, I decided to go with the rhinos. Rhinos and giraffes are my favorite animals, and Abe was too little to let us know he prefers dogs. We'll have to get him a dog print someday...

I think the sheep mobile is my favorite thing in the nursery. Abe loves it too. It's all hand-sewn, so you know it was made with love!

My friends are pretty awesome. They gave us handmade quilts, crocheted and knitted toys and blankets, and this gorgeous watercolor from my friend Dorothy (the artist behind Rollover Designs). Like I said...I love giraffes.

My sister-in-law knitted this sweet little bird for Abe. It's from this pattern by Susan B. Anderson found in Itty-Bitty Toys (another shoot I assisted on). 

For the crib, I found the hippo crib skirt from Dwell Studio at Target, and bought the coordinating crib sheet as well, but not being a fan of matching sets (I think it has something to do with being a twin), I decided to make a hand-tied quilt with a vintage sheet from my grandmother’s house. (See more on that here.) I love how the colors from the blanket work so perfectly with the sheet and crib skirt.

Abe LOVES dogs. He only knows a handful of words, including: dog, woof, and aaa-ooooo! (That's what doggies say "on a moonlit night" according to Sandra Boyton.) The yellow dog is his Snuggle Puppy and the black one is his foster puppy (actually belongs to his cousin Chloe, who was kind enough to let Abe borrow him on our recent trip to Nashville). They sleep with Abe every night. The beautiful crocheted cotton blanket was a gift, made by my dear friend, Maria. See, we really do have creative (and generous!) friends...

So that's it for Abe's room. Here's a shot of my little helper. Believe it or not, he was in the room playing the whole time I was taking these pictures. Took me more than one day...which is why he's wearing a different outfit every time he appears in a shot. 

I tried to mention sources throughout the post, but I'll put up a complete source list tomorrow. Until then, any questions? Comments? I'd love to hear what you think!

See part one of the nursery tour hereSee something you like? Check out our nursery source list here.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Nursery Tour - Part I

Yesterday I showed a little preview of Abe's room with my awesome panoramic collages. In case the cubist aspect of said collages was a little confusing, here's a map: 

Originally I wanted the crib sticking out into the room with the rocking chair in the corner by the window, but with the room being so small, that made it feel really crowded. We ended up with this arrangement because it left a nice play area in the middle of the room which we thought would be nice for when he was bigger. Now that he's bigger I'm glad this is how we did it - Abe loves to play in his room! 

The nursery is at the northwest corner of our house, and the west facing window is shaded for much of the day, so we knew we had to do something to make the room a bit brighter. We painted the walls Benjamin Moore's China White in an eggshell finish. It reads slightly gray, especially when compared to the trim, which we painted with Behr's glossy Ultra Pure White. We covered the hardwood floors with a white area rug which brightened up the room even more. 

We bought this rug from Ikea for the living room in our old apartment. It's the perfect size for Abe's room, and it's machine washable! 

I love how sunny and bright his room feels now, but I noticed he seemed to be having trouble napping during the day. Even though the windows already had pleated shades, I ended up making linen curtains with a muslin liner to help block out a bit more light. It's doesn't get dark when the curtains are closed but it's dim enough for sleeping.

Another big project was refinishing my childhood dresser. I knew I didn't want a separate changing table and in the 8x10 foot room there really wasn't space for one anyway. This dresser had always been in my room growing up, and was the perfect height for me to use as a changing table. (I'm only 5' 2" and most dressers these days are way too tall!) It needed some major updating though (see the transformation here), but after a little hard work and a lucky score on Craigslist, we had it looking better than new...because when it was new it still had hideous hardware. 

Most of the dresser is covered by the changing pad (which fit perfectly!), but I managed to eke out enough space for the ceramic mushroom nightlight (a childhood gift that I had packed away, and only remembered when I was thinking about buying a nightlight for the room), a frame to display Abe's first finger painting, the frog I made him for Easter, and a small crate that holds diapers, wipes, creams and lotions.

The sconce on the back wall is also from Ikea, but we replaced the original cover with a subtle yellow and white damask pattern that we liked better. It was the perfect solution for middle of the night diaper changes, since the nightlight was a bit too dim and all the other lights in the room (and even the hallway) were way too bright. 

Instead of traditional shelves, we installed Ribba picture ledges from Ikea. They're only a few inches deep so we don't have to worry about Abe hitting his head on them when we're changing his diaper. 

I mainly wanted a way to store his photo albums and baby book that would keep them out of his reach while having them on display. It's harder to forget about filling in his baby book when I see it everyday! Not impossible...but harder. The shelves also gave us a great spot for toys that were just too cute to hide in the toy box, a couple carved figurines that found their way into his room, and a vintage Fisher-Price radio that has been a life saver during diaper changes. It's always nice to have some distractions within easy reach...

Someday I'll do something fun with the shadow box on the shelf, but for now it holds a calender for August 2010 with Abe's birth date circled in red.

I love quotes and wanted to put something meaningful in Abe's room. I chose a quote from Abraham Lincoln that I liked and designed this 5x7 print using Photoshop and my old Epson printer (may it rest in peace). We picked up the chair and balloon print from L.B. Stewart at the Uptown Art Fair just a few weeks before Abe was born. The frame on the left holds a piece of scrapbook paper from Cosmo Cricket that I originally just had taped to the wall. Abe loved staring at it when he was a tiny baby, but once he gained more control over his arms and legs he ended up tearing it down. He still enjoys looking at it, but the frames are stuck on the wall with velcro Command strips, so they're not going anywhere.

My favorite piece of "art" is his birth announcement which I designed, photographed, and printed myself! I had a birth announcement picked out before Abe was born, but it needed a vertical photo and I fell in love with this shot (from this shoot I did when he was three weeks old). The fabric letters on the left I sewed by hand back when Abe used to go to bed early and slept all night long.

Whenever I wonder if Abe's room is themed I think "Yes. It's got a pirate robot!" Captain Blockbeard was a gift from my brother Ryan, made by his friend and former college roommate, William (half of the Oh Dier duo). It's nice to have creative friends...

The toy box was another piece of furniture that was rescued from my childhood home. I didn't do much to refurbish this one. Just cleaned it, sanded it (there were splatters of paint on the front), lined the bottom with the same paper I used for the dresser drawers, fixed a broken hinge, and installed a couple safety features. Abe's still too small to really dig in the toy box, but it's a good height for use as a play table.

I found this beverage bucket on sale at Target last summer and put it in Abe's room to corral all of his stuffed animals. He has no problem emptying this bin!

When we started looking at houses I limited our search to houses that were built before 1960. Old houses just have more character and I love the little details in our house (built in 1946), like the gorgeous window trim and vintage doorknobs.

I still have more to show but no time left if I want to get this posted today. Check back tomorrow for the rest of the nursery tour!

See part 2 of the nursery tour hereSee something you like? Check out our nursery source list here.