Minnesota Mini-Vacation - Day Two

We started the second day of our “Operation Min-Vacation” by going to Mickey’s Diner for our morning meal. Built to resemble a classic Art Deco diner car, Mickey’s has been serving classic diner fare in St. Paul since before WWII. It’s small, but adorable, and has even been featured in a few movies. During our short visit, we enjoyed a hearty breakfast of pancakes, eggs and sausage, surrounded by regulars and fellow tourists alike. The food was good. The service was about what you’d expect from a tiny, bustling restaurant.
Mickey's Diner - image from their website.

Little Guy, enjoying his toast at Mickey's

From there, we traveled to another part of St. Paul to tour the Minnesota Transportation Museum. Before we even entered the doors, we knew this was going to be a big hit with our little fellow. Retired train cars and cabooses were displayed by the parking lot, as was a refurbished Greyhound bus from an earlier generation. The building which houses the museum is also still an operating roundhouse, which we thought was very interesting.  We went in, toured many train engines and cars on display and watched a little railroad movie. Then Little Guy found a model engine which he could play in, and he decided he never wanted to leave! It had been donated by a nearby children’s museum, and was clearly a paradise for train loving children. We hadn’t been there long, when we were told that the turn table and round house were in operation and we could go out on the observation deck to watch the workers move the huge trains around. Eventually we also got to ride a train for a short bit. Our seats were in the cupola part of an SOO caboose. All three of us had fun on that little ride. We rounded out our visit with a trip to the gift shop, and some play time at the Thomas the Train tables near the entrance.

My Guys in the Model Train.  Choo Choo!!

LG at the entrace to the museum

This caboose looks like the one we rode in (our seats were in the red part at the top).  My camera batteries died, so I don't have actual pictures of the train ride.  oops
We grabbed lunch at a little family restaurant, and then went to a few baseball card shops (for Hubby) and the Golden Fig (for me). The Golden Fig is a lovely little shop which features primarily Minnesota wares. Everything from jellies and jams, to cheese and sausage. They have spices, candy, microbrews and various baking mixes (just to name a few of their items). I adore stores like this, and during this visit, I bought some little chocolate caramels and a jar of butcher’s rub spice mix.

We were a bit burnt out on restaurants at this point, so we treated ourselves to a hotel picnic. We had brought snack items with us: peanut butter crackers, granola bars, fruit and juice. We made little hodge-podge meals and enjoyed each other’s company right there in our room. It was a nice break that also saved us a little money, so win-win.

Our second day behind us, we settled down for a good night’s sleep.


Minnesota Mini Vacation - Day One

Who doesn’t like to get away for a bit? We took a day off recently so that we could have a three day weekend to get out of town for a breather. Since we wanted to take Little Guy along with us, we chose the Twin Cities (Minneapolis and St. Paul MN) as our mini vacation destination (close but not so close that it didn’t feel like getting away).

We left home early on Day One, arriving at our first stop The Mall of America, just in time for lunch at Johnny Rockets. We ate our burgers and fries while overlooking the amusement park in the center of the mall. To say that Little Guy was intrigued, would be the understatement of the year. We promised him we’d check out all the rides after we’d wandered through the mall.

We are such frugal shoppers, that we rarely even enter the big stores and tiny niche shops that fill such a place. However, we are big fans of people watching and window shopping, and we did a lot of both. We started on the third floor and after circling it, went to the second and then the first. Once we’d wandered through each of the floors we headed for the amusement park area.

Little Guy is still pretty short, and was not going to be able to ride many of the rides (much to his disappointment). Instead of spending $20 or $30 on a “ticket package” that might result in three rides, we opted for a trip to the Nickelodeon store (the park is sponsored by Nickelodeon), where Little Guy picked out a stuffed moose named Tyrone. Tyrone is one of the stars of Little Guy’s favorite non-train cartoon, The Backyardigans. For the rest of the trip, LG and Tyrone were inseparable.

Just after he got Tyrone!  So excited!!
Relaxing in the hotel room...
We left the mall (lunch and Tyrone our only purchases), found our hotel and checked in. Then we went in search of dinner. Hubby wanted to try a German Restaurant (Gasthof zur Gemutlichkeit) which he had seen featured on an episode of the Travel Network's Man vs. Food. We got there just as the doors were opening for the dinner hour. We were greeted warmly and taken to a roomy booth. It was one of many which skirted a large (but cozy) room filled with long family style tables. Our waitress was friendly and helpful.  She brought us fresh bread and butter while we perused the menus. I ordered a Parmesan pork schnitzel, which came with potato dumplings and a lovely house salad. Hubby went for the challenge* meal that included a meter of bratwurst coiled over a heaping bed of sour kraut - with a side of potato croquettes. Little Guy had (of course) a cheeseburger.

The food was excellent! Every part of our meal was simply mouth watering. And if that weren’t enough, there was live music. A smiling man in lederhosen walked around the dining area chatting with guests and taking special requests to play on his accordion (ever hear Black Sabbath’s Iron Man on the accordion? It’s surprisingly good!). Little Guy was amazed. He thought the accordion music was wonderful (as did we). The musician was a natural performer.  He played a variety of requests and traditional German tunes, laughing genially with all of the people he met. When he got to our table, Little Guy asked for “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”, which the guy said was a family favorite, singing and playing with gusto. He then went on to perform “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and the Alphabet song for LG, followed by “Can’t Help Falling in Love” for Hubby and I. It was a perfect way to end the first day of our little adventure! We left with big smiles on our faces, and tummies full of yummy food.

*Hubby’s eyes were bigger than his belly on this particular night, and he did not finish his meter of bratwurst – though he made a very heavy dent in it. Though he left without getting the certificate that the completed challenge promised, he still had a great time and a yummy meal to boot.


Pay It Forward

The sweet and fabulous Zoe of PennyBlossoms has honored me with a little bloggy award. Thank you Zoe!!

As a recipient, I am tasked with forwarding it to some other wonderful bloggers… the catch being that they must have fewer than 300 followers. I love reading the posts of all of my favorites, and it is with great pleasure that I introduce you to a few who deserve an award, but who have (like me) not yet attained the level of 300 followers… (yikes! I’ve been blogging for over a year and haven’t even cracked 30! Haha)

In no particular order…

Mindy from Double Chocolate Thoughts – if you like yummy food…and funny Mommy stories, you will adore Mindy’s lovely blog. Be prepared to drool over her cakes and cookies.

Jody from Gumbo Lily – she talks about life on the American prairie, her faith, and her family. She also shares crafts and recipe ideas. Her blog always puts a smile on my face.

Diane from Heart Shaped – her photos always make me feel like I’m on a lovely European voyage. She tells stories of the places she’s visited, and shares tidbits about her life. Need a break from the monotony of wherever you are? Visit Diane for a quickie virtual vacation!

TopChelseaGirl from How Soon is Now? – another of my blog pals from across the big pond, she loves to dress and decorate on a budget and always manages to come up with the most wonderful end results!

My college friend MaryAnn from You Say - she is funny and sarcastic and irreverent, and always makes me laugh no matter what kind of day I'm having.

This list is not all-inclusive, but it gives you a feel for the variety of blogs I enjoy reading.  Pay them a visit if you have the time.  If you have even more time...check out the other wonderful blogs in my blog roll!  They are all worth a read.  Have a wonderful day!!!


Happy Easter!


I serve a risen Saviour,
He's in the world today;
I know that He is living,
Whatever men may say;
I see His hand of mercy,
I hear His voice of cheer,
And just the time I need Him
He's always near.


He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives
He walks with me and He talks with me
Along life's narrow way.
He lives, He live, salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives:
He lives within my heart.

In all the world around me
I see His loving care,
And tho my heart grows weary
I never will despair;
I know that He is leading
Thro' all the stormy blast,
The day of His appearing
Will come at last.


Rejoice, rejoice, O Christian,
Lift up your voice and sing
Eternal hallelujahs
To Jesus Christ the King!
The hope of all who seek Him,
The help of all who find,
None other is so loving,
So good and kind.

Wishing you all a blessed Easter Day!


{this moment}

Inspired by SouleMama to share one moment...via a single photo - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember...


Feels Like Home

Today is our 4th Wedding Anniversary. The time has flown by and these first four years have been truly wonderful. I am thankful and honored to be married to a man who makes my heart beat a little faster, even after the “new” has worn off. He is a fantastic husband and father. I am truly blessed, and happily look forward to growing old with this man I love!

Someone once asked me if I regretted waiting till my 30s to get married. My answer was a resounding “no”.

Because, you see…he was worth the wait.

Some couples have a special song they call their own. We don’t really, but this oldie by Randy Newman always speaks to me, and reminds me of how much better my life is because my husband is in it.

Feels Like Home
written by Randy Newman

Something in your eyes makes me wanna lose myself
Makes me wanna lose myself in your heart
There’s something in your voice makes my heart beat fast
Hope this feeling will last the rest of my life

If you knew how lonely my life has been
And how low I’ve felt for so long
If you knew how I wanted someone to come along
And change my world the way that you’ve done

It feels like home to me – feels like home to me
Feels like I’m on my way back where I come from
Feels like home to me – feels like home to me
Feels like I’m on my way back where I’m from

With your embrace down a long dark street
And a sigh of wind in the night
But I’m alright ‘cause I have you here with me
And I can almost see the dark feels light

If you knew how much this moment means to me
And how long I’ve waited for your touch
If you knew how I wanted someone to come along
I never thought I’d love anyone so much

Feels like home to me – feels like home to me
Feels like I’m on my way back where I come from
Feels like home to me – feels like home to me
Feels like I’m on my way back to where I belong
Feels like I’m on my way back to where I belong

Happy Anniversary Dan!  I love you.  :)


Catching Up

The wickedhappy house has been aflutter with activity this past week. I will blame said activity on my lack of posting – it’s as good an excuse as any, right?

So, here’s what’s been going on around here….

I passed that glucose tolerance test I’d mentioned in my last post! Hurrah for me. I will of course do whatever I need to do to keep my baby healthy…but I must admit I was really dreading the dietary restrictions that a fail would have put upon me.

Over the weekend my Mother-in-law came for a visit. It was really great to have her here, and she and Little Guy really had a chance to connect and enjoy each other’s company. They don’t usually get much one-on-one time, and it was wonderful to see how much fun they were having together. I really love to see him interacting with all of his Grandparents. It reminds me of the wonderful relationships I had with my own Grandparents growing up, and that makes me very happy!

On the Quilting front…I finished the quilt top for Little Guy’s cowboy themed twin size quilt (I promise you’ll see pictures soon). My goal is to get the whole thing done by the end of the month. Even if it means a few late nights, it will be worth it to have that marked off the old ‘to do’ list. I bought low-loft batting as I want it to be something he can have on the bed year round. The piecing is always the hardest of course, so it should be all down-hill from here. Little Guy caught a sneak peek before I was half done with the top, and he snuggled it and hugged it and said “MY BLANKET”. So… I think he’ll like it just fine!

Once that one is out of the way, I’ll have to get busy on New Baby’s quilt too. My deadline for that one is more flexible…but I’d like to have it done before he gets here this summer, obviously. I don’t remember having a lot of free time for sewing those first few months after a little one is born.

Little Guy managed to catch a cold…another one. I swear he’s had a runny/stuffy nose since September! Like many little ones, he struggles to breathe with a stuffy nose while laying flat in his bed. The solution (more often than not) is Hubby or I have to sleep sitting up on the sofa, holding our sweetie in an upright position. This helps him sleep…us, not so much. I think though, that after a few rough nights, we are seeing great improvement and he’s almost back to 100%. Yay!


Mood Swings & Chocolate Cravings

By decree (of my husband), no more local news for me until the baby is born! Last night Little Guy was playing with his trains while Hubby and I were taking in a bit of the 6:00 news. A story came on about the second soldier from our state to die in Afghanistan this week. I was fine until they showed his picture. It always breaks my heart when any of our soldiers (such brave men and women) lose their lives in service to our country, but this boy really struck a nerve. He was so young! I was just suddenly and completely overwrought for his family.

Hubby and Little Guy both stopped what they were doing, and froze – for a moment staring at me in surprise and worry. Hubby quickly changed the television channel and Little Guy found his way into my lap to stroke my cheek, and say, “It okay Mama, I here for you.” That of course made me cry even harder. All I could think about, was that somewhere that soldier’s Mom was wishing her son was still around for her, but of course he’s not.

After a few minutes, Hubby found the premier episode of MacGuyver on Netflix, and it had the desired effect. Eventually, I stopped crying. Soon things were pretty much back to normal (or as normal as things get lately – my pregnancy hormones have really been taking me on a roller coaster ride these days).

The other problem I’ve been dealing with is an insane and insatiable hunger for chocolate. Oh dear. I have never eaten as much chocolate in my life, as I have these last couple of months.

Tomorrow I take the three hour glucose tolerance test (to determine if I might have Gestational Diabetes). I failed the first test early in the week. I failed the first test during my other pregnancy too, but passed the second one. I’m hoping for a similar result this time around.

Keep your fingers crossed for me. If I fail that test, maybe keep your fingers crossed for Hubby and Little Guy. They will need all the extra help they can get if I can’t have my chocolate!


I Heart Garage Sales!!!!

We went Garage Sailing this past weekend.  My budget for the day was $20, and I managed to get home with a bunch of great items, and CHANGE too!  What a perfect day.

In the picture you can see some of our goodies.  Almost all was for Little Guy (2 pr Osh Kosh jeans, Osh Kosh railroad bibs - to replace the ones he's outgrown, 1 pr Levi's, 1 pr baseball PJs, an Adidas shorts outfit, several pair of other shorts, a Disney "Cars" sweatshirt for fall, several new shirts, including Bob the Builder, Thomas the Train and a Mickey Mouse one!!  We also found (not pictured here) a stack of tiny pants for Baby Boy to go with onsies, three infant toys and two childrens' books for Little Guy... as well as a huge bag of brand new diapers in the size and brand LG wears!!!

Can you believe we found all that for less than twenty bucks?!?!  Woo Hoo

Can hardly wait till next week.

Just what We Needed!

Last weekend our little family trudged through a packed flea market looking for bargains (one of our favorite weekend activities – regardless of crowd size). We usually go with nothing specific in mind, and just wait for things we “need” to jump out at us. This time, we did have one item we were specifically looking for: a chest of drawers for Baby Boy’s nursery. The closet in the room he will use is tiny, and extra clothing/bedding storage will be required.

We had only been pushing our way through the crowd for a few minutes when I spotted one that was about the right size for the space we have. It was also a good color (blond wood finish – matches our changing table). It was sturdy, clean and didn’t have a lot of scratches or dents! My heart rate began to accelerate. I pulled out each drawer to see if they were in good working order. They were! The overall look of the thing was a bit dated (60s or 70s maybe?), but I’m not one to worry about things being terribly modern. In pretty much every aspect of my life, I am much more concerned with function, value and comfort than I am with style.

So, after sizing up the chest, and seeing that it would be a great solution to our problem, I nervously flipped over the price tag.


Woo Hoo!!! So, we bought it of course, and the seller helped Hubby load it into our vehicle. It didn’t really fit, but the seller gave us a bungee cord which kept everything in place (even with the back hatch open) as we drove home. We put it into the Baby’s room, and it’s a perfect fit there. I gave it a quick wipe-down, and can now mark a big item off our “to do” list for Baby.

Sometimes a bargain hunter has to “settle” on whatever happens to be in the desired price range. We were very lucky to find something we actually thought was perfect, at a truly perfect price!! Now all that’s left is filling it up (and that will be the most fun of all).


Baby Bibs

When Little Guy was just a wee baby, we used bibs that we had purchased or which were given to us. They were cute, and served the purpose, but none were all that special. This time around I decided to take a stab at making my own.

I took a couple of our favorites that we had saved, traced around the edges to make a pattern, and then used some bits of cutesy flannel that I had in my stash (some adorable Michael Miller and a cute chicken print from JoAnn’s).

I had a quarter yard of each, and with that amount was able to make a large “eating” bib, and a smaller “dribble” bib with each of the three fabrics. I had the thread and snaps on hand too, so this project cost me nothing. It was a lot of fun and I hope that Baby Boy gets a lot of use out of them. I’ll probably make more too, as time permits.

For now though, I need to concentrate on finishing two quilts. One is for Little Guy’s transition to his first twin bed, the other is for Baby Boy’s nursery. I’ve started both (and really am probably half way done with LG’s. I need to get motivated and get them finished. THEN I can maybe make some more cute bibs.

The motivation has been elusive these last couple of weeks, so we’ll see.


Weekend Plans

So another weekend (much needed and appreciated) is upon us, and we have nothing of note planned. These are actually my favorite types of weekends…the ones with no writing on the calendar. Tentatively, my unofficial (and very flexible) plans include:

• Make (at least some) progress on Little Guy’s quilt
• Clean the house
• Do some art projects with Little Guy
• Find a break in the potentially rainy forecast to get out for a walk
• Take a nap

What are your plans?


{this moment}

Inspired by SouleMama to share one moment...via a single photo - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember...
Having fun on the slide at the park.


The Apple and the Tree

As a child, I was what some (namely my parents) would describe as very challenging. Or maybe they’d use words like “ornery”, “mischievous” or “trouble maker”.

What? You don’t believe me?  Need a few examples?  I once pushed a little boy down a flight of stairs, poured a bowl of chili over the head of another little boy, painted a weather map on my entire bedroom wall, and fed my Dad’s baby turkeys to our German Shepherd… not all on the same day of course – but all before I was eight years old.

Even as a toddler, my folks said I was always getting into trouble, climbing on furniture, drinking toilet bowl cleaner (before the days of child-proof caps) and even running off when I found the chance. As a two year old, I once hid under a neighbor’s house for a while – leaving my parents frantic.  For the record, they weren't neglectful parents, and they weren't leaving me unattended.  I was sneaky (and fast).  They often said all it took was one moment and I'd be gone, or knee deep in my next adventure.

Years passed and I mellowed (thankfully) into a fairly normal teenager and adult. But I still remember a few times during my childhood when my dear Mother would look me in the eye and say, “Someday I hope you have ten children, and I hope they are all just as ornery as you!” She has many times since, assured me that though I was a challenge, I was also a lot of fun and that she wouldn’t trade those years for anything.

But maybe its because she’s had 30 years or so to rest? Or maybe her memories of my early years were numbed by those of my baby brother – who was the perfect and obedient child that mothers everywhere wish they had?

I’m not sure.

Either way, I was reminded of that “ten children as ornery as you” comment yesterday, when the babysitter told me that Little Guy had tried to run down another child at daycare with his tricycle, laughing while the other boy screamed in terror.

For that, he lost all of his trains for the rest of the day (big time punishment for this particular tiny fellow).  We don't take this behavior lightly, and hope he never does anything like it again.  But who knows?  I may not have ten children, but the one I do have so far - seems to be just as ornery as I was. The apple truly doesn't seem to have fallen far from the tree (from this tree anyway). Hubby’s parents have both assured me that he (like my brother) was pretty much a perfect child. We had hoped that maybe Little Guy’s temperment might fall somewhere in the middle of “challenging” and “perfectly behaved”. We’re hoping the same for the New Baby. But even if both of our little sweeties turn out to be chips off this particular old block… I’ll still always count them as the most precious blessings in my life!!

Now that I think about it more…my Mom had it right after all. Though sometimes challenging, Being Little Guy’s Mommy is a load of fun (even when we have bad days like yesterday) and I sure wouldn’t trade these amazing years for anything in the world!

The grey hairs? Now, those, I’d trade…. Any takers?


The Hoosier

When Hubby and I first moved into our house (just a few months after getting married), we realized quickly that the kitchen just didn’t have enough space for our combined accumulation of kitchen stuff. He loves to cook. I love to bake. Over the years, we have acquired the types of kitchen gear you’d expect.

For the space we had to use, we both wanted something that wouldn’t break the bank, but managed to have some character. We found an old Hoosier Cabinet at a local antique store. It sorely needed some repair work (one of the drawer fronts was badly warped and the whole thing needed a serious cleaning and new paint job), but we were willing to take on the challenge.

My Dad helped us. He built a new drawer front to replace the warped one. While Hubby was busy with other new home projects, I spent several hours cleaning, sanding, and painting.

The end result was one we were both quite happy with. It has become our baking center, and is situated in the heart of our kitchen. Our spice collection lives behind the top double doors. The microwave, my most used cook books and a little basket for coupons and take-out menus go in the middle. The drawers below hold cookie cutters, rolling pins, measuring cups and funnels. The bottom storage area is full of mixing bowls, cake and pie pans. On the very top are more cook books which are favorites, but which don’t get used as often, and the cookie jar.

I walk by the Hoosier probably fifty times a day. It always makes me smile, and other than the fact that Little Guy can now reach the buttons on the microwave…I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s not a family heirloom, but it is a family treasure.


Baking HITS and MISSES

Last week I was in the mood to bake. This isn’t anything new. I love baking. Pies, cakes, cookies, whatever – I love it all (the eating too, of course). Usually, I am pretty good at it too.

I decided on that particular day last week that I was in the mood for pie, but wasn’t particularly in the mood to make a double crust affair. I found a recipe titled “Impossible Coconut Pie” in one of my old cookbooks. It was super easy to make. All the ingredients were mixed in one big bowl, then poured into a cake pan to bake. During the baking process, the pie was supposed to separate into three distinct layers (crust, filling, and coconut topping).

It was not what I’d call a success.

Hubby, who will rarely turn away dessert had the following to say, “If that pie were on Facebook, I would deny its friend request.”

My Dad always says, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” That is what I’ve now written in the margin of the cookbook where that “Impossible” pie recipe is located. I won’t be trying that one again.

Over the weekend a Facebook friend (and amazing baker, and fellow blogger), posted a blurb about a cake she’d made. It sounded fabulous, so I asked for the recipe. I did something wrong…who knows what? The ending result tasted amazing (really and truly amazing), but it wouldn’t hold up like it should, and sort of collapsed all over my cake carrier and onto the table around it. I take full responsibility for the problem. I’ve been known to make wacko mistakes in the kitchen (and in life) when I’m pregnant. Baby brain drain, and all that. The picture below was supposed to be a triple layer 8 inch cake.

This time Hubby had only good things to say about my latest baking adventure, in spite of the cake’s oddball appearance. I scooped up weird looking hunks of cake onto our plates, and we both ate them happily. It was truly yummy, and I’ll definitely be trying that recipe again. It deserves to be attempted as many times as it takes to get it right.

The coconut pie?  Not so much.


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