Our Yurt to Yurt Skiing Adventure

‘Cause there’s still plenty of snow during Spring Break in MN!

After several years of talking about heading ‘Up North’ to the Boundary Waters to go Cross Country Skiing Yurt to Yurt, Fatima, Maud & I packed up our gear, hopped in the car and began an epic three night adventure!

We hadn’t had much snow in the Twin Cities area, so all three of us were just itching to get our skis on and enjoy a bit of the great outdoors!

The drive is about 6.5 hours total, so halfway there we stopped for a quick three mile hike to stretch our legs and get some fresh air in our lungs. It was pretty icy that day so we did plenty of bum -sliding down the hill for safety’s sake.

We arrived at the darling Poplar Creek Bed & Breakfast just before dusk and were heartily greeted by owners, Barbara and Ted. After getting settled into our spacious and super comfy rooms, they sent us on our way for a yummy ‘last supper’ at the Trail Center – didn’t look like much from the outside, but it was just delightful & delicious from the inside.

After a great night’s sleep and hand-brewed coffee, ‘Chef’ Barbara prepared a traditional Norwegian breakfast and Ted mapped out the next 21 miles of ‘fun’ for us.

Off we go for our first day of fun! Nine miles didn’t seem too daunting, even with 20 mph winds greeting every stride.  We were thrilled with the sounds of nothing but the swoosh of our skis amidst the beauty of the great northern Minnesota woods.

We made it to our ‘home’ for the night in just under 3 hours and after warming up our feet/hands we began to learn the intricacies of the wood stove and gas lighting from our camp guide, Jim.  After he snowmobiled away with a ‘be on the look out for moose’ last call, we settled in to a night of laughter, popping blisters, card playing  & a delicious spread of our favorite things.

And don’t forget, being out in the woods means the outhouse is your friend. At 3am in the morning, who cares about fashion: just give me a headlamp, some TP and off you go into the great unknown! Hahaha

While none of us got much sleep that night, the early morning brought about warmer temps and the desire to ‘get up and go’ as we had 12 miles to ski to the next Yurt and get back a little closer to civilization.

Day 2 proved to be quite the challenging one. We started off strong then faced a massive down hill slope that I chose to walk down vs. potentially crash. Fatima ever-so-gracefully came flying around the bend and landed at the base…just shy of the freezing cold water! As the day progressed, westarted to notice that our skis were all becoming sluggish and accumulating ice on them with every stride.  We were having to stop every 10 min or so and in essence ‘de-ice’ our skis with the pole tips or a knife. It was very frustrating to say the least and we were getting more tired and a bit nervous with every minute that passed us by. Did we have enough food if it got late, did we have matches to build a fire and stay warm, did we have headlamps to guide us through the dark, how could we call for help if needed?  And sure enough, an hour later, 2 ski poles were now broken from the constant banging of the ice and Maud was down with a sprained ankle. What should have have taken us four hours to complete ended up taking over seven. Thank goodness, Ted came looking for us as he knew something was wrong when we hadn’t arrived hours after our estimated time.  With Maud loaded up on the snowmobile, Fatima & I skied the rest of the way, she with only one pole and both collapsing with exhaustion when we finally made it ‘home.’

Warming up our homemade soup brought us great relief and I enjoyed a nice hot toddy to finish off the night…shut eye was 7:50pm!

The next morning we were up and at ’em, heading for the last ski of the day all the way back to our cars. We made it and were grateful to be back connected with the world and a hot cup of coffee for the long drive home.

Moral of the story: Be a bit more prepared when you are three gals alone in the great wilderness up north.

But would we do it again? Yeah, you ‘betcha!

Please follow and like us:

Winter

You may think I’m crazy when I say…I’m missing our typical, deep freeze Minnesota winter this year. I spent much of my life escaping winter, even going as far as moving to Florida for several years! Finally, I have started to embrace the icy cold climate and low and behold, we have an unseasonably warm winter this year.

One of the annual events that keeps me looking forward to winter each year is called the luminary loppet.  It is a whimsical night replete with ice lanterns, live music, hot chocolate stations and a festive atmosphere.

We went this year with the entire family: myself, my husband and our 2 boys, ages 11 and 1. We took turns towing the little one along on a sled and he had a ball!
The luminary loppet takes place overlooking the Minneapolis skyline on a trail that winds along a frozen lake and into the woods. Even though I have participated in this event for the last few years, it always creeps into my mind how many people the frozen lake can accommodate! Thousands of people turn out and even in the chill of winter, you experience a warm and inviting crowd with lots of smiles and cheer. And no, the lake has never cracked! It’s completely safe. I even laid on the ice to investigate just how thick it was. 

The entire trail is lined with ice lanterns and luminaries of varying shapes and sizes, including some that are even taller than us. Luminaries continue into the enchanted forest and captivate participants of all ages.

The amount of hours that the production staff invests into this is so impressive. It truly bodies the magic of winter and just how beautiful it can be. I look forward to it all year round!

More photos from The Luminary Loppet:
Please follow and like us:

Winter Wonderland

As we dip into sub zero temperatures and much of the country gets covered in a powdery blanket of shimmery snow, I am rejoicing!

winter

However, I didn’t always harbor this level of joy and exuberance. Quite the contrary, I had downright disdain for anything and everything winter.

I am a Minnesota native, however, my parents were transplants from warmer climates and their only solution for frigid temperatures was to hibernate for the winter.

Not very sustainable, I must say.

Anyway, as soon as I graduated high school, I flew the coop, so to speak, to the sunny shores of Florida. After a few years, the charm of the Midwest called me back home and I returned without so much as owning even one pair of socks. I did my best to adjust, but my friends nearly disowned me each year, from November through March, because I did nothing but complain about the cold weather. 

skiingEnter my outdoor loving, skiing fanatic husband. At first, it was a lifestyle difference that I thought we would have to agree to disagree upon. Soon enough, he opened my world to the wonder, magic, and whimsy of winter. Snow is sparkly. Of course it’s awesome!

Once I learned the basics of “dressing for winter”, (it is somewhat of a science to do it right) and spent some time learning how to cross country ski, I was hooked.

Yes, I admit that the grimy, dirty snow we deal with while driving to and from work is little more than a nuisance. But freshly fallen flakes in the woods create a gleaming wonderland. winter-fatimaTypically, cross country ski trails are in parks or around lakes, and removed from the hustle and bustle. Gliding across the snow in an area that is quiet and the pure, white, snow is pristine all throughout the season, is a truly uplifting experience. 

Cross country ski racing is an Olympic sport for a reason…it’s really stinking hard! However, learning the basics of shuffling along and staying upright is just a smidge more difficult than walking. Anyone can do it!

I learned to ski by practicing on a frozen lake. The key to success? No hills! It was completely flat, and that minimized any falling so I left each day out on the lake with a smile on my face and no snow tucked in places that it shouldn’t be. As you get more and more comfortable, you begin to fall into the rolling rhythms of the trails and it’s effortless and smooth!

Besides the sheer beauty of the scenery, skiing gets you fresh air and exercise. Breathing in the crisp air, as you go gliding through the woods and raise your heart rate, feels so energizing. Because you are active, you stay toasty warm, and the chilly air on your cheeks is a perfect compliment to the warmth you feel down to your core.

If you ever had an inkling to try it, do yourself a favor, grab a buddy, head to your nearest park with ski rentals, and try something new. I promise, you’ll be a lot happier to see temperatures dip and the first snowflakes fly. If nothing else, winter will go by faster than ever before. 

group-skiing

Please follow and like us:

Cabin Fever Fades in the Northwoods

Kendy blog 3 1 paddleboard

We recently had our final trip of the summer to the ‘cabin up north’.  When I got ready to sit down to write this blog while I was there, I looked outside and the sun was already setting by 8pm . . . UGH!  And now it’s even earlier . . . Typically, we don’t see the sun go down up north until nearly 9:30pm in early summer.

I hope you enjoy some of my memories from our time there:

As I write this It’s an absolutely beautiful evening so I’m taking advantage of the screened in back porch to avoid the mosquitos.  I love the sounds of the crickets and frogs chirping, kids splashing down at the lake, and final fishing boats pulling in for the night.  Admittedly, I don’t take advantage of the porch as often as I should!!!  It’s a melancholy time for most Minnesotans as we know summer is swiftly coming to an end.  A big part of Minnesota Culture is Cabin Culture.  We live for our 3 months of summer and trips to the cabin . . . and as the end of August nears, you can feel the Cabin Fever Fading.

It’s easy to understand how Cabin Culture began in Minnesota as there are so many Scandinavians that live here.  My Mother’s family is from Sweden, and on our trips to Sweden and Finland we often traveled to our family’s cottages in the woods to pick berries, hike, sauna, and jump in the freezing cold lake . . . we’ve carried those traditions on at my folks’ cabin as the summer lake jump or snow roll in the winter after a sauna has become the favorite thing to do!

Kendy blog 3 2 dockKendy blog 3 snowAlthough most Minnesotans close up their cabins in the fall, my parents, like true Scandinavians, keep theirs open year round in order to enjoy the Norwegian Kick Sledding, Cross Country Skiing, and Snow Shoeing.

SAMSUNG DIGIMAX D530

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

Minnesotans enjoy their cabin lives for many reasons: solitude, nature, sport, etc. . . .  The main theme is family reunions where family members from across the country gather to partake in the great outdoors, celebrate holidays like the 4th of July, and enjoy Mom’s Home Cookin’!  It’s an awesome time for the different generations to go offline and really connect face to face!

Kendy blog 3 8Kendy blog 3 10Fishing and Food are first priority at our cabin!  The kids love to fish with Papa to get ready for the big Fish Fry with Papa’s Homemade German Potato Pancakes!

Kendy blog 3 12

Our puppies love the cabin visit as much as we do . . . they love fishing, chasing the loons, staring at the hummingbirds, and jumping off the dock. Kendy blog 3 15DSC_0156.JPG

 

 

 

 

 

We have to do our best to keep them away from the eagles overhead and the bear on the path!

Kendy blog 3 18DSC_0063.JPG

 

 

 

 

 

The big draw to the cabin is of course the lake . . . after all, we have over 10,000 of them!  Whether it’s diving off the dock, learning how to ski from your expert 75 year-old Grandpa, kayaking, paddle boarding, tubing, or fishing, the day revolves around the lake.Kendy blog 3 25Kendy blog 3 27

Walor Family vacation to Grandparent Kloepfer's cabin in upper Wisconsin. Other relatives that came were Rick & new wife Melody Kloepfer, Brett Kloepfer and Cousin Hillary Kloepfer and son Everest.

I know every state has its vacation spots: ‘down the shore’, ‘in the mountains’, ‘on the beach’, etc. . .  Hopefully one day you’ll have a chance to experience Minnesota’s Cabin Culture some day!  If you’re a Minnesotan, I’d love to hear what your favorite lakes and cabin traditions are!  If you are not a Minnesotan, let me know what your state’s favorite vacation spot is so that I can check it out someday.  Hope you’re all able to enjoy the remainder of summer at your favorite spot!Kendy blog 3 31

Please follow and like us:

“My Person” Gram

You know how everyone gets “a person”?  Someone who totally gets you, understands you, would give up a kidney for you?  Your favorite person in kn-blog-4-pairthe whole world that isn’t necessarily your husband, or girlfriend.  You know the person that, if you had to hide the corpse, they would help you do it.  That’s YOUR PERSON.

Mine person was my Grandma Agnes, “Gram”.

The thing about Grandma Agnes is that she was so much more than the storybook Grandmothers you read about.  Sure, she always smelled like homemade cookies, you could always find her clanking away in her kitchen most anytime on that ancient stove and she wore sensible shoes (but that my friends is a whole other SCARY story).  She would have the best sleep overs with my brothers and me . . . making us malts before we went to bed and reading us books on her plastic covered davenport.  In the mornings there was always Red River cereal cooking and as many grapefruits as you wanted her to cut.

kn-blog-4-handsShe sewed Christmas stockings for every one of her grandchildren and for both of my boys BY HAND with love, every sequin, every stitch with those gnarled, arthritic hands.  She took Tom, Robbie (my brothers) and me on driving trips cross-country with Grandpa and pointed out all the beautiful scenery, and even took us three hellions to Florida a couple times.  Those Florida trips are stories in themselves!  She showed us how to pick kn-blog-4-kathy-youngraspberries when the dew was still on the grass, and where to put the peaches she canned in the scary fruit cellar . . . Yep, she was like a fairytale Grandma . . . she would teach you to cook, take you shopping for your first Prom dress, keep your secrets, and even hide the pictures from your stagette party.

But she was so much more than that . . .

Agnes Mable Hinz Nessa was one of 12 kids born to German immigrant parents, Emelia and Henry Hinz.  Her brothers and sisters were Fritz, Carl, Herman, Max, George, Clarence, Walter, Hulda, Emma Lily and Ada.  She grew up on the family farm in South Haven, Minnesota, had an 8th grade education and was one of the wisest women I have ever known.

kn-blog-4-familyGram loved to tell stories about being a kid on the farm, she would always say that she didn’t even realize they were poor because they always had enough to eat from the farm.  Entertainment was cheap, with all those brothers and sisters there was always a skating party, sleigh rides and impromptu dancing.  She was especially close to her baby sister Ada who she talked to everyday until Ada died.

kn-blog-4-grandmaOnce Gram decided to leave the family farm, she went to work in the hotel/restaurant business where she met lots of interesting characters.  She loved to tell the story about, how in 1929, she and her friends worked/lived at the St. Cloud hotel and met some of the members of Machine Gun Kelly’s gang, namely a man named “Magnolia”.  They would go out dancing and he had prescription whiskey during Prohibition. She knew that, since he carried a gun in his Studebaker, there must be some funny business but, according to Gram, “he was such a good dancer”. Magnolia was later part of the Willmar State Bank robbery. Not such a goody two-shoe grandmother, maybe more like an interesting character in a wonderful, ‘can’t put down’ novel.

kn-blog-4-grandpaShe met my Grandfather, the love of her life, on a blind date and they fell in love and were married for 44 years until Grandpa died.  She never remarried and said that, although she missed the travelling and dancing they did together, she mostly just missed having him around.

But that wasn’t the end of the story; after that Gram started her own catering business. She catered parties from 2-1000 people.  She planned, cooked, served and was down on her hands and knees wiping up the kitchen until she was 90 years old.  I worked with Gram catering for YEARS, she was a hoot, no matter what the crisis was in the kitchen, there was Gram chatting up all her favorite clients, calm as could be.  I learned VOLUMES about cooking, entertaining, patience (and lots of dirty jokes)from Gram during all those parties.  I got to see her in action, in her element, and I am so grateful for that. I don’t set a table without seeing Gram showing me how to do it with panache!

As Gram prided herself on being the practical, stoic German, one of the only times I saw her crumble was when my father, her only child, died suddenly in his sleep in 2002. It didn’t matter that he was 64 years old, he was still her baby. She loved Dad, Mom and all us kids fiercely and was always there for my mom and dad the entire time we were growing up, too.

kn-blog-4-mom-dadShe was there for me once I had children, too, no matter how busy she was catering, running her household alone or managing that enormous garden she had.  She loved us all.  But her heart overflowed with love for kn-blog-4-connorher great grandchildren.  When my oldest, Connor was born,  Gram was 80 years old.  Gram starting taking care of Connor when he was just 2 weeks old.  She would rock that colicky baby for hours each day and chase him around the house, watch Homeward Bound (Connor’s favorite movie) 1000 times and look forward to seeing him everyday.  She gave me parenting advice, babysat, listened to my concerns about jobs, relationships, you name it, and she was there.  Now she was the perfect Great Grandma too.  Oh, and did I forget to tell you all this time she was diagnosed with breast cancer at 85 years old.

kn-blog-4-second-to-lastWhen I took her to the doctor he sort of wrote her off like she had lived a good life up to age 85, and that cancer would take her down now.  She looked at him like he was crazy and I reintroduced her to him as the Queen of our family.  They now understood that she had much more living to do.  They treated her cancer and she was cancer free for 15 years.  Tough bird, she said she never once worried about it.  “Why worry, it doesn’t do you any good”.  A Gram motto to live by.

For the last 10 years of Gram’s life it was a new kind of relationship, a bit more of me taking care of her.  The tables were turned but she just went with it.  I think that lots of people would be resentful that their bodies were succumbing to the years, but Gram was eternally grateful for her time here.  She would say to me, “What would we do without each other?”  Our lives became like a braid, woven together to create strength and beauty.  I wasn’t sure where she ended and I started some days.

Even days at the doctors or hospitals were fun somehow with Gram.  She was always “up”, always happy, telling anyone who would listen how much fun it was getting to 100 years old.  “Old age isn’t any place for sissies”, another Gram motto.

Gram died peacefully surrounded by her family at 100 years and 144 days young.

“My Person”, Gram, taught me so much.  I think of her everyday and talk about her on-air often, now you know why.

kn-blog-4-last

 

 

Please follow and like us:

My Summer Tradition

Pretty much every summer for the majority of my life, I have traveled to Lake of the Woods.  Have you heard of it?  It occupies parts of the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Manitoba, and northern Minnesota.  It is over 70 miles long and wide and has 14,552 islands.

When I was young, we would attach one of those Winnebago foldout campers to the back of our car, and drive three hours up and three hours back.  Somehow, we packed: my parents, my brother, a couple of my stepbrothers and sisters and our huge black standard poodle, Mitzi into the car.  We did this EVERY weekend of the summer!  This is where I sat on a bee and got my first sting, and had my first wee little crush on a boy a few campers down.

lynne-blog-3-1

From the Winnebago, we graduated to a little white house on Rainy River. Rainy River runs into the big lake and is just outside of Baudette, Minnesota, population about 1,100. Now that we had the benefit of heat, plumbing, etc., we started traveling here during the winter months, too . . . again, EVERY weekend.  This is about the time where I just wanted to be home on the weekend.  I had friends and a social life where, if I missed out on something happening, my life would be over and I would die (I’m a teenager now). I had a hard time convincing my parents I should stay home so, instead, I would bring my friends along.

lynne-blog-3-2There is a tiny little island that my best friend, Jillie, and I would love to sneak off to. She had a tiny fishing boat, kind of like a dinghy. She would pull up to my dock, pick me up and off we went.  We were always alone on this island; it was like our little secret.  The island was very remote, had nothing on it to speak of except a bunch of sand ,so no one ever ventured there but us. One time, we thought we would be super grown up and sophisticated and sunbathe topless.  That was the very rare time that another fishing boat came floating by.  Now, the island has somehow been discovered and is full of big boats and lots of families picnicking.  My family and I still love to go there.

My parents decided to build their dream home at the Lake about the time I was starting my own family.  I had moved to Minneapolis and, so now, the three-hour drive is a seven-hour drive.  The drive takes us through many quiet, small towns and truly is a slice of Americana.  Homes with wrap-around front porches, lawn art and flags waving proudly.  Nobody is in a hurry to get anywhere, and everything is slowed way down.  So lovely.

lynne-blog-3-3

There really isn’t that much to do at the lake . . . except for fishing, and so heading out onto the huge lake means spending the entire day on the boat . . . fishing.  I’m not that great of a fisherwoman as it takes great patience, and I get extremely bored waiting for something to happen.  We usually catch walleye and trout.  Nowadays, we bring a couple of boats onto the lake and have fishing competitions between them, which can get really loud and boisterous.  To this day, my boat has never won.

lynne-blog-3-4

Fourth of July celebrations at the lake are my favorite part. Thousands of people come into Baudette for the street fair and fireworks.  At the street fair you can listen to bagpipes, enjoy fried walleye, get a tattoo or our favorite thing, watch someone else get a tattoo. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the tattoo truck is located right next to the Beer Garden. At dusk, it is so cool to see all the families sitting on blankets with their coolers, fluorescent light-up necklaces and twirly thingies in anticipation for the fireworks.  Our neighbors in Canada across the river have lit up American flags in their backyards as a sign of friendship.  The fireworks are choreographed to music, and always end with Lee Greenwood’s “Proud to be an American.” When it’s all over and we’re walking back to the car, it’s always the feeling of “best night ever.”

lynne-blog-3-5

 

Please follow and like us:

What’s a Hoosier Anyway?

Last week my family and I set out on our longest road trip to date. Minneapolis, MN to Bloomington, IN.   I can’t believe I didn’t discuss road trips in my earlier blogs . . . isn’t this the season dedicated to hours in the car eating junk food, listening to the radio and counting cows?! I feel like it’s a rite of passage for every American child, and mine were totally up for the challenge.

Backing out of the driveway, my hubby had ‘Holiday Road’ blaring from the speakers (all great road trips must pay homage to Nat’l Lampoons Vacation, whether Aunt Edna is with you or not) and both boys were armed with their favorite movies, headphones and snacks for days. I planned to use these hours to catch up on email, sort through photos on my phone and make sure our family calendar was on point when we returned. But, as always, motion sickness set in half way through my first email and in lieu of being productive, I counted cows.

I feel like when we travel, we throw all rules out the windows. Bed times, nutrition, screen time, all take a back seat to accommodate the road trippin’ timeline. So, when we made our first stop in Chicago, already past the boy’s bedtime, it was fitting that we entered the lobby of the hotel to some serious bass, dark lights and a bar full of 20-somethings in their finest “I’m looking for a date” fashions. The lobby bar was a total club scene and there I stood with my family, covered in chip crumbs, ice cream spills and backpacks full of stuffed animals and dinosaurs. (Parenthood Erin blog 3 fireworkssure does change a Saturday night.) We definitely cramped the cool-kids weekend vibes and found immediate refuge up a few levels in our room. My kids were thrilled to be up way past their bed time, ordering pizza in bed and watching the Olympics. And if that wasn’t good enough, just like in a movie, outside our huge picture window, over-looking Lake Michigan, a fireworks show erupted right in front of us and for the first time in 8 hours, we were all silent, staring out the window. What a treat!! I could get used to this. But all good things must come to an end and all good kids must hit the hay (as my dad would say), lights were soon out and we were all happily in bed.

Erin blog 3 Chi2The next day, we had breakfast in bed, went swimming in the rooftop pool and took the boys on the Navy Pier ferris wheel before packing back up. Next stop: Bloomington, IN. The home of Indiana University, my husband’s Alma Mater. He’s a third generation Hoosier and couldn’t be more proud. By the time we Erin blog 3 ferrisarrived on campus, he was already plotting out what fraternity our boys would pledge, where they will live on campus and how to get the best seats at Assembly Hall for a little IU Bball. (Side note: I really love his love of his school, but grooming our boys this early in life is just not fair to me and my hometown University of MN Golden Gopher pride. Not to mention, I’ll never stop crying if my boys move that far away from me. A counter plan to keep my boys in MN begins now . . . I’ll keep you posted on the progress.) We quickly jumped out of the car and did a walking tour Erin blog 3 IU familythrough campus. Even though IU is a rival Big Ten school to my U o MN, I have to admit, that campus is beautiful!!! After a dinner at one of his favorite restaurants, my husband took the boys to the book store to load up on all things Hoosier red and white. Outfits, posters, stuffed animals (are you kidding me?? This is too much), my boys emerged from the store looking like the newest freshman recruits. We checked IU off our road trip list and got to bed, the next day we were taking off for destination number three.

Erin blog 3 hoosier bothErin blog 3 hoosier

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lake Wawasee, in Syracuse, IN is where my husband spent every summer of his childhood. Leaving IU and driving north to Lake Wawasee, my boys were already in their swim trunks, sunscreen on, ready to dive into the Erin blog 3 slidewater as soon as we arrived. Pulling into the cottage my husband spent weeks at as a kid, we made this insanely long road trip, worth every minute. The lake is clear and clean, there are boats and jet skis and toys for everyone. And the cottage is a perfect setting to enjoy the final few days of summer.

Erin blog 3 dock goproErin blog 3 lily

 

 

 

 

 

 

My oldest, William, has a brand new Go Pro that he proudly wore as he jumped in the lake and sped around on the jet ski. James, our baby (fine. He’s almost 5, but will always be my baby) worked up the courage to make the giant lily pad his stomping grounds. We swam, boated, ate and repeated for 36 Erin blog 3 jetskihours! It was mostly marvelous, with just a few minor meltdowns. I mean no family of four can go 36 hours without a few meltdowns over whose turn it is anyway and who was really responsible for dropping the brand new Go Pro and letting it sink to the bottom of the lake . . . right? Right. Other than a few minor mishaps, we returned each night to the cottage a brand new shade of tan (even though we wear a lot of sunscreen) and a whole new level of exhausted.

It was bittersweet packing up for our final voyage, not only because I simply adore time with my three boys, but also because Syracuse, IN to Minneapolis, MN is no joke. About 10 hours, with stops and a nasty rain storm, to get back to home sweet home. But on our way home, there was definitely a sense of pride from all four of us. The kids were thrilled with the new adventures and are already plotting ways to permanently eat breakfast in bed. My husband was beaming with pride that his family had a blast in his favorite state. And I, to be real honest, am thrilled that I was able to keep this family unit in one piece, without massive meltdown for a total of 1000+ miles across the Midwest. Phew.

Erin blog 3 kiss

Thanks for taking this road trip with me! Next stop: Vancouver with my college roomies . . .

Please follow and like us:

Get out of your comfort zone!

As many of you know I’m the newest host here at Evine.  Taking the job a year ago followed many months of uncertainty and a visa process so lengthy it probably deserves a blog of its own!  I finally moved here from London in January this year.  Arriving in Minnesota in the middle of winter might sound like the worst time of year, but I had done my research, got some good boots and a big coat. With the beautiful houses and the snow it was like landing in Christmas-land!

Sam blog 2 1L

When most people talk about stepping out of their comfort zone, they think about doing something extreme like bungee jumping or leaping out of a plane.  But those are short, sharp shocks that are over quickly.  Moving to a new country, everything you do is new. New, job, new home, new people.  Even the car I drive (and the side of the road!) and where I buy groceries have all changed, so it takes a while to come down back to earth because there’s nothing familiar to come home to.  Plus, as there are so many decisions on a daily basis there’s no time to procrastinate!  You have to seize every moment, a way we often talk about in terms of living our lives but rarely get the chance to.

I’ve always had a love affair with America.  When I was little I used to watch Moonlighting from my bed and imagine that New York was outside my curtains.  I first went to New York when I was twenty years old and, in 2005, worked on the BBC documentary series ‘Soul Deep: The Story of Black Popular Music’ where we traveled the country interviewing some of the most influential names in soul music.  On my travels I’ve visited San Francisco, Las Vegas, LA, New York, New Orleans and Connecticut.  I’ve always found people in the US to be open, friendly and even an exchange with a stranger in a elevator can brighten my day.

Right place, right time..

Moving your whole life is a huge, but I had so many signs that this was the right place to be.  I’d lived in London for 10 years and always thought I would move after a decade but just hadn’t decided where yet.  Then my apartment building was sold and I’d be talking to my coach about moving to the States.  I was working in Dublin and walking down a street that could have been straight from Minnesota, thinking to myself that I always thought I would live in America one day and just weeks later I was approached by Evine!

In Minnesota, people are always curious when they hear me speak. “I love your accent”  is a daily thing, or “I could hear you talk all day” to which I say that can only be a good thing as I talk for a living and tell them they can watch me on Evine!  The question I get asked the most is, “What the biggest difference?” or “What do you miss the most?”  My advice to anyone going to live in a new country is to say your goodbyes to what and whoever you’re going to miss before you set foot on the plane, and look for connection rather than what’s different.

Sam blog 2 LN1Sam blog 2 MN1

 

 

 

 

 

When I first arrived I did miss being able to walk everywhere, as well as the architecture of London.  Unlike most Brits, I don’t crave PG or Tetley tea (British tea brands); I’m more of a Pukka girl when it comes to having a ‘cuppa’.  There aren’t any TV shows I can’t get online or live without.  In terms of fashion, I was sad to leave was my beloved Topshop.  I actually cried when I saw they’d come to Nordstrom’s – to see the familiar logo I’ve loved and worn for years in an unexpected place brought up unexpected emotions!

Sam blog 2 LN2Sam blog 2 MN3

 

 

 

 

 

There’s a French expression, ‘Vive la difference’ and ‘long live the difference’ is how I feel about living in America.  I love the four seasons that we have in Minnesota, I’m a water-baby (which you can read about in my last blog) so very well suited to lake-life.  I’ve also enjoyed the challenge of making new friends with the interests and person I am now.  I adore the weather here because, although Minnesotans refer to it as a short summer, three months is a cause for celebration and very different from our wet summers in the UK!

Sam blog 2 LN3Sam blog 2 MN2

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s my advice if you’re thinking about taking plunge and moving somewhere new:

Embrace the new

One of my mottos has always been ‘I’ll try anything twice’.  I hated sushi the first time, now I love it!  If you’re somewhere new you’re not the same ‘you’ so, be adventurous – you might surprise yourself!  When I came over last year, I went to the State Fair to sample the many foods on a stick and then drove to St Paul to hit up the yard sales.  A few months ago, I volunteered at the Minneapolis film festival; both to meet new people and so that I had to drive across Downtown in rush hour!  I often set myself ‘missions’ just to get myself up and out and about.

Laugh at yourself

Taking yourself too seriously can leave you feeling overwhelmed.  Another motto of mine is ‘Lighten up and let go’.  I like to try and laugh at situations and notice my negative self-talk.  Telling yourself, “I’m such an idiot” doesn’t serve you.  Try laughing at the situation rather than making it your fault.  We can’t all be comedians 24-7, but sometimes cracking up at a situation lightens the mood and gives you a new perspective.

Let yourself mess up

Things will go ‘wrong’ but, as a life coach, I’m a great believer that the only mistakes we make are the ones we don’t learn from.  Allowing yourself to fail allows you to grow.

*Pssst! I failed my written Minnesota driving test the first time and then spent two days revising the whole Minnesota drivers handbook!*

Make it your own

I’ve practiced yoga for 16 years and love to swim, dance and work out in the gym.

I bought my yoga mats with me and joined a studio the first week.  If your life is feeling all over the place, try and create your own routines to feel grounded and move your body to get those feel good endorphins.  I love the quote, ‘If Oprah has time to meditate you have time to meditate.’ (Even if I don’t always find time to meditate! 😉

Get out there!

Don’t stay in and wait for life to happen. Meetup.com is a great way to meet people with the same interests as you.  If you’re feeling you can’t go alone, post a message to say that you’re feeling nervous!  A lot of meetups wear wrist bands or something to make it easy for you to find the group. Go for it!

 

Please follow and like us:

Who Rescued Who?

When moving to Minnesota almost 9 years ago now, I knew I was moving to a whole new part of the country with no family here.  After settling into my new place, I felt like something was missing.  Although we had lost our beloved family puppy years before when my daughter went to college, I never thought I would own another dog.  Well, sure enough – as the story goes – I would have to think again about being dogless!

Allison blog 2 1L

One day in January, a snowstorm was brewing and I needed to beat the storm and gather supplies.  I thought I should head out to a big box store to stock up.  In my new city – in my new car and with my new GPS – I got lost, very lost and ended up about 40 minutes from home.  Turns out, they don’t always know where you’re going!  On the route to get home, I pulled up to a light and looked to my left to see the animal shelter.  What the heck? Right? It was snowing; I was going nowhere fast in the snow – so in I went.  Just to ‘look’ at the cute puppies!

Allison blog 2 1RIt was love at first sight.  Riley was a 4 year old mixed breed (of many things) but looked like golden + lab mix to me.  She sat in the back of her kennel, scared, skinny and looked tired.  As I read her ‘card’, she had been ‘dropped’ off at the night window with no information.

I asked to see her and, as they brought her out of the kennel, I knew she would never return.  She came home that day.  She has been the best friend and companion since the day I brought her home.  She is a quiet, gentle soul who has always been there.  When my mom was sick this past year, she never left her side. She’ll go anywhere with you.  She’ll walk right beside you in the rain or in the hot sun – she is always there!

Allison blog 2 2L

Writing this blog has allowed me to remember that day so clearly.  I am blessed to have turned left instead of right.  I guess you never know which is the right way or what you will find, only that – if you get a chance – follow your heart. Riley has given more than she has ever asked, a million times over.

Thank you for blessing us with your love every day, little Riley.

Allison blog 2 2R

Please follow and like us:

Traditions

kathy blog 2 homeThere is something so nostalgic and a bit romantic about creating great traditions with family and friends. We started going ‘up North to the cabin’ every July with our college friends about 30 years ago.  Back then we were just a group of crazy couples (with even some of our parents), then babies came and weddings and funerals  . . . but we never missed this time together.  Fast-forward to more recent years and it’s back to just us crazy couples – now all empty nesters!  The events of the week have started to revolve around food, what could be better?!

kathy blog 2 beach fireSo picture this . . . lakeside cabin with a great beach, bonfire, loons (the bird not the people) and some great classic rock music . . . and now add in a traditional CLAMBAKE!

Here’s how we did it, and now it’s part of the tradition and everyone can participate.

Start with a visit to your local fish market to get the clams, shrimp, mussels and lobsters!  And the rest is kathy blog 2 lobstereasy.  We wanted to do this on the beach over an open fire, so we started with a huge galvanized tub and started picking rocks out of the lake to use at the bottom of the tub. Filled it with lake water – yep, lake water (a really clean lake) – and then started layering in all the goodies.

Here’s the recipe I use (not created but use, and it’s perfect every time):

Beach Clambake

1-½ lbs of baby red potatoes                                                                        1 lb little neck clams                                                                                         2 cups water                                                                                                      4 tablespoons salted butter                                                                              2 large yellow onions, cut into eighths                                                           8 garlic cloves                                                                                                   ½ bottle of dry white wine                                                                               1 ¼ lb of kielbasa sausage, cut into bit size                                                    3 lobsters, each 1 1/2 lbs or larger                                                                      5 medium ears of corn, husked and broken in half                                         1 lb of deveined shrimp                                                                                    8 lemons, quartered for serving                                                                 Tons of melted butter for serving                                                     Sourdough bread for serving

  1. kathy blog 2 guysPre boil the potatoes until tender
  2. Fill large bowl with cool, slated tap water and submerge clams for 30-45 min. This way they purge the sand.  Scrub.
  3. Start adding ingredients to the tub in this order (with enough water in the tub to cover the rocks) and steam the ingredients: onion, garlic, wine, cooked potatoes, sausage. Steam for 5 minutes by covering with wet beach towel. Add the lobsters and cook for 6 minutes. Add the corn and clams and cook another 6 minutes. Add shrimp, cover and cook another 6 minutes.
  4. Pour onto a newspaper-covered table and serve with lemons and melted butter and some fresh warm sourdough bread.

The bar is easy, we usually have cold beer in a tub and some crisp, cold, white wine.

We spread newspaper over a picnic table down at the waters edge, throw out a few plates and lobster crackers, and go to town!

Dessert?  That’s easy….s’mores of course!  Enjoy!

kathy blog 2 filled tubs

 

Please follow and like us: