Thursday, July 28, 2011

U2 360° Minneapolis

On Saturday Noah and I went to the U2 concert at TCF Bank Stadium on the University of Minnesota campus. We have season tickets to the Gopher football games so we're down there pretty often in the fall, but I've never seen it so packed. There were people everywhere! People that didn't get in to the concert were camped out on nearby lawns to catch the show.


Interpol was the opening act. Fantastic...but it seemed like a lot of people had never heard of them before. Boo Minneapolis!


As usual, there was a long wait between Interpol and U2's big entrance. Gave us plenty of time to study their space ship/stage.


They entered on our side of the stadium, but with only my phone for pictures, the best shot I got of their entrance was of the video footage playing on their 360° screen. I liked how they shot it in black and white. Very Rattle and Hum.


So we bought these tickets about 2 years ago... Minneapolis was supposed to be the last stop on their concert tour last year, but then Bono hurt his back and required emergency spinal surgery! We didn't mind waiting, but you'd think that given the extra time I would have bought their newest CD, No Line on the Horizon, and familiarized myself with a few of the songs. I'm a terrible U2 fan! My husband downloaded the album from Amazon the morning of the show.
Luckily they played a lot of their older songs and the few that they played from the new album, I knew from hearing them on the radio. Phew! The last U2 concert I went to (10 years ago), they played a ton from their new album and I was lost even though I had it!


If you look closely at the picture above you'll see pouring rain in the spotlights at the top. The weather was perfect when we arrived for Interpol, but about 45 minutes into U2's part of the show it started to rain. Then it stopped for awhile...then it started up again with thunder and lightning. The stadium remained packed, they put up some umbrellas on stage, covered the equipment, and U2 went on with the show. Adam even took his shirt off. (I ♥ Adam Clayton.)


The rain stopped, or at least died down, before the show ended, but we were still dripping wet when we got home. We had a great time despite the freezing rain! My husband, who's been going to U2 concerts since he was a kid, even said it was the best one he'd ever been to. (Methinks it had something to do with his beloved Gopher stadium.) I still wish I had been more than 5 years old when they performed at Red Rocks...

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

At the beach

This weekend we took Abe to the beach. We've gone swimming in the lake up at the cabin, but the water is chilly, murky, and the ground is rocky in some places and mucky in others. The clear, warm water and sandy beach at Lake Harriet was so much nicer!














He loved crawling and walking in the water, and it was the perfect place to practice standing up - his new favorite activity!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Harry the Dirty Dog

Harry and the Dirty Dog was one of my favorite books as a child, maybe because I had a black dog with white spots...maybe because she liked to run away...maybe because she did not like getting a bath. Whatever the reason, it's still one of my favorites, and I like it even more now that it's available in a 50th anniversary board book edition!

Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion

Harry is a white dog with black spots who hates getting a bath. He runs away from home and gets so dirty that, when he returns, his family doesn't even recognize him. The illustrations are sweet and the story is charming, although you can definitely tell it was written when the world was a simpler place. Like how the family lets a seemingly strange dog into their house to give it a bath... 
The original illustrations were done in black and white with olive green and a mustard-y yellow. I'm usually not a fan of updating illustrations for children's books, but this time they got it right (probably due to the fact that the recolorization was done by the original illustrator, Margaret Bloy Graham). She added muted blues, reds, and browns in small doses and in just the right places, making Harry's world just a bit more colorful.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Heat Wave

It's really hot in Minnesota. Right now it's 94° with the high humidity making it feel even hotter. Reminds me of the four years I spent living in New Orleans when I was in college.

Jackson Square and St. Louis Cathedral

I loved the heat then...I still do. I took up running when I lived down there...and walked about a mile to and from school every day...and I never wore shorts (they kept our classrooms too cold for shorts).
I miss those long, hot summers and short, mild winters. It was perfect and lovely...well, except for the cockroaches.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Pom-Pom Headband

I started knitting this blanket for Abe long before I knew whether I was expecting a boy or a girl. Once I found out we were expecting a boy, my knitting needles grew a little sad. Don't get me wrong, I wanted a boy and was incredibly excited, but there are SO many cute knitting patterns out there for girls! I knew I wouldn't be knitting cute little headbands, darling dresses, or frilly booties for my son, so between knitting squares for his blanket, I whipped up a bunch of these pom-pom headbands for my nieces. I have 6 of them! Should have learned how to knit frilly booties when they were babies...


This garter-stitch headband is possibly the easiest knitting pattern of all time. Even kids can make this! It only takes about an hour - more for an adult-sized headband, less for an itty-bitty baby headband. I have a free downloadable PDF pattern with a little photo tutorial available here, or you can follow these instructions. 


You’ll need:    1/4 skein worsted weight yarn for the headband
                      small amount of yarn in a contrasting color for the pom-pom 
                      2 US size 8 straight needles
                      Yarn needle
                      Scissors 

For the headband shown here, I used Lion Brand Wool-Ease in Grey Heather with Mustard for the pom-pom.



Instructions:
Cast on 10 stitches. (Ten stitches will give you a 2 inch wide band. Add or remove stitches to adjust the width.)
Knit every row until the band fits around your head when stretched slightly.
Bind off.
Use the yarn needle to slip-stitch the ends together using the tail end of yarn.

To make the pom-pom: loosely wrap the contrasting yarn around 3 fingers 30-40 times. Carefully slide the wrapped yarn off your fingers, and with another piece of thread, tie a tight knot around the middle. (Ready for that photo tutorial?) Push the blade of your scissors through the loops on one end and cut. Repeat on the other side, and cut any loops you may have missed. Trim to neaten the ends if needed (avoiding the long tail from the yarn used to tie the middle), and fluff the pom-pom to fill any bare areas. Using your yarn needle, thread the long tail from the middle of the pom-pom through the headband and tie. Cut or weave in loose ends.



There are a bunch of different ways to make pom-poms, but I'm too cheap to buy a pom-pom maker and too lazy to cut the cardboard circles to do it the old fashioned way. I wrap the yarn around my fingers which is quick and easy, although it makes less than perfect pom-poms. Feel free to use whatever method you like best!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Iced Coffee Pops

I finally bought a popsicle mold! My first creation: Iced Coffee Pops. What can be better? Cold and creamy with just a little jolt of caffeine. The perfect way to start a hot summer day...


Ingredients

1½ cups cold coffee
1½ cups milk
1 tbsp. simple syrup

Directions

Mix all ingredients together. Stir and pour into ice pop molds. Top off with milk if necessary to fill the molds. 
Adjust the coffee/milk/sugar ratios for stronger, creamier, or sweeter ice pops. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

Magnetic Wall

My husband always complains that we don't have any pictures on our walls. I hate to admit that this is all too true. It's not that I can't find artwork to put up. I have a basement filled with gig posters, framed and ready to hang, but left leaning against the walls. (That's not entirely my fault though. I'm short and tend to hang pictures low and crooked. At least I did the framing!) So most of the walls in my house remain empty, waiting for inspiration to strike. 


The dining room is the only exception. I had a plan for the big, blank wall in our dining room before we even moved into the house. I was inspired by a photo of children's artwork hanging on a dining room wall. As a kid we used to hang our artwork in the kitchen with tape. I wanted a place where my kids could do the same, and although tape worked fine on the wallpapered walls of my childhood home, it doesn't stick well to painted walls, and I really didn't want a wall filled with tack holes! Instead I chose to make a magnetic wall.


The dining room needed to be repainted anyway, so I bought a can of magnetic primer and covered the wall with it. It took about three coats of yellow paint (one more than recommended) to cover the black primer, so I have to use super strong magnets to hold everything up.


For now I have up a mix of old and new family photos in color and black & white. Pictures of our parents and grandparents when they were young, wedding photos, baby photos, informal family portraits, at least one photo of each of our nieces and nephews, pictures from our own childhoods, and a few favorites of Abe. I also included some good fortunes (saved from fortune cookies and mounted on a strip of magnetic tape they make fun magnets, although not strong enough to hold photos on the wall).


It's nice looking up there and seeing our grandparents (most of whom have passed away), parents, siblings, nieces & nephews (most of whom live far away), and our own little family. I'm sure someday Abe and his artwork will cover the wall, but for now it's a tribute to everyone we love, and a reminder that "family is more valuable than money."

Thursday, July 7, 2011

My Many Colored Days

My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss

My Many Colored Days is one of my favorite Dr. Seuss books, so I'm happy it has become one of my son's favorites as well. It was published posthumously with artwork done by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher. 
The story itself is a fun rhyme about emotions and how easily they can change. Dr. Seuss chose a color and an animal to represent each emotion. In some cases the emotion isn't even named in the text, but the words are still able to convey the feeling.
The illustrations are bright and fun, much like Mr. Geisel's other books, but Johnson and Fancher's colorful paintings of animals are far from what you'd expect to find in a Dr. Seuss book. I often wonder how Mr. Geisel would have illustrated this book, but Johnson and Fancher's artwork complements the words so perfectly, I have to believe even Dr. Seuss would be proud of this collaboration.
It seems his wife would agree. On the inside cover there is a dedication from Audrey Geisel that simply reads "To Ted, who colored my days...and my life."

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Daisy, Daisy...

I am in awe of the way florists can turn a handful of already beautiful flowers into an even more amazing bouquet. I've never been great at it myself but after working in the wedding industry for a number of years I've picked up a few tips...


1. Make use of available greenery. Most flowers last longer with their leaves stripped off, but ferns, hostas, grasses, and other greenery can be added to the bouquet to "frame" the flowers and add some additional interest. 


2. Almost anything can be a vase. I think I own three actual vases (all gifts or inherited from my grandmother). Instead I use various glass jars and bottles, buckets, baskets, cans, and even wooden boxes to hold flowers. For this bouquet I raided the recycling bin...


3. It doesn't have to be perfect. Nature, although beautiful, is seldom perfect. My flowers get dirt splashed on them when it rains, bugs eat them, the sun wilts them...if I waited all summer for the "perfect" flowers to bring inside, I'd go a whole summer with no flowers. Once they're picked they begin to die anyway, so perfect or not, might as well enjoy them while they last!

In this bouquet: Irish eyes daisy, shasta daisy,
hosta leaves, and ferns.

The flowers in this bouquet are from my bird & butterfly garden. We removed the fence last fall and haven't noticed any rabbit damage. Yay! The ferns and hostas are from my shade gardens.

Friday, July 1, 2011

American Flags

Yesterday Abe and I made these construction paper American flags. It's a super easy craft project for the 4th of July!


For two flags, you'll need:

3 sheets of white paper
1 sheet of red
1/2 sheet of blue
Glue or gluestick


Cut the red paper into long strips about 2 inches wide. Cut half sheet of blue paper in half. Fold one sheet of white paper, and cut out stars using scissors or a star shaped hole punch. 
Glue red stripes to the remaining sheets of white paper. Glue the blue patch on in the corner and put on as many stars as you like. If you use a small hole punch you may be able to fit all 50 stars!

Have a happy 4th of July!