The Face of Minnesota

I can always count on my advertiser friend David to share entertaining videos… enjoy!

The Facebook Awards

And all the things to love about Minnesota… this has me excited for warmer weather!

Mini Cones of Joy

Today I would like to introduce something into your life to which you will not regret saying “hello, nice to meet you”.

This treat is delicious,  simple, and adorable.  

I do not know if there is an official name.  I brought them to a party, and the hostess forced everyone to try one (this was not difficult) and to suggest names for this tasty treat.  After some collaborative effort from guests, the name Mini Cones of Joy was coined.  If this is too fancy a name for you, you could probably also call them Bugle Treats.

They are pretty simple to make.

Step One:

Find a  friend to teach to you all her wisdom related to bugles and chocolate (if you are lucky she may have all sorts of other wisdom to share with you as well, but not everyone can be as lucky as me).

A fun friend to bake with is essential to your success.

Step Two:

Melt 1 bag of milk chocolate chips and 1/2 bag of butterscotch chips.  Mix them together.

Step Three:

Dip the open end of the bugle into the melted mixture of goodness.

Step Four:

Place an M&M in the above mentioned chocolate goodness that is now on/in the tip of the bugle.

Step Five:

Place the finished product on some wax paper to cool.  

Step Six:

Take note these are highly addictive.

Step Seven:

Now that you have been properly cautioned, you may eat them.

Step Eight:

Walk away.  You might think eating all of them is a good idea.  Your stomach might say yes.  Your taste buds might say yes.  But your heart will be sad tomorrow if there are none left.

The Rains Came Down and the Floods Came Up

On Monday I was delighted when I drove out of my neighborhood.  I thought, “Something seems different. I’m not sure what it is, but I like it!”  Then I thought about it for approximately 2.7 seconds and I realized that the rain and “warm” temps had caused the giant snowbanks on the corners of the street to melt away to nothingness, and I could actually see out into traffic, and safely turn out of my neighborhood.  It felt good.

On Tuesday I woke up confused.  I did not understand why I was confused.  I only knew that I deeply desired to go back to sleep.  Then I thought about it for approximately 10 minutes (the length of my snooze on my alarm) and when I woke back up, I realized it was raining.  This sound is not new to me, and it should not have confused me.

On Tuesday we had indoor recess.  I wanted the rain to stop.

Then I read the forecast for more SNOW.  WHAT.!?  Not ok.  I of course promptly wrote a letter to the local weather forecaster, apologizing for complaining about the rain causing indoor recess, and asking them to change their mind about the impending snow doom.

Then I read in my email that my school’s city is looking for people to sandbag.

Kindergarten field trip???  I kid, I jest, that is a terrible idea.

Then my friend sent me this from MPR:

When you volunteer to sandbag, keep these tips from MPR in mind:

1- Be young. A little work won’t kill you and, besides,
-2- Plan on meeting the guy — or woman — of your dreams. You’ll know it’s the person of your dreams because he — or she — will volunteer to do the shoveling.
-3- Two or three shovelfuls of sand will do it. Remember: Some elderly couple who met each other at a sandbagging event many, many years ago, is going to have to pick these up.
-4- Don’t tie the bags. It takes too much time, and makes it more difficult to pass the bag in a sandbag line. The person at the end of the line who has to place it on the dike just folds the top under.

My fav is point #2.  If you are sandbagging and you are not planning to meet the person of your dreams, it is important to remember that is what others have come for, so be careful in teaming up with someone to fill sand bags.

Then again… maybe you don’t need to help the community to find love, you can just be rich!  At least according to a second grader’s creative writing my coworker told me about today.

Writing prompt: If I had a million dollars…

Student response: I will buy myself a man.

… not sure that is legal, but let me know if it works out for ya, kid!

City Four: Prague

The final destination of our summer sister holiday will be Prague!  I am very excited for this, because I have heard it is a beautiful city and I have wanted to visit it for years, but never really thought I would.

Amber has a saying, “When it doubt, do it for the story” and I also embrace that idea (this is probably why we are friends), and enjoy dragging my sister along with me 🙂

Here are exhibits A and B of dragging my (willing) sister along with me on some ridiculous traveling experiences.

Meeting a complete stranger in Japan for a personal tour of Tokyo, including being dressed in Yukata...

Please be sure and note the finger in the corner.  Masami pretty much struggled with my camera.  And that was in the days of my point and shoot.  She would probably panic if I handed her my DSLR.  Read more about our kimono adventures here.

This is the day in Japan we swam in weird things: like coffee, sake, rosewater, and wine. And practiced our Japanese Poses

If you are in Japan, it is a requirement to take pictures in this pose.  The kids in Japan taught me well, and I passed this knowledge on to Rachel.  Read about our adventures here.

So, what adventures do we have up our sleeves for Prague?  Well, you will have to tune back in this summer for the full scoop, but for sure we plan to attend a show at the black light theater.  We love the theater, and this sounds creepy and awesome and like it will make for a great story.

Here are some other descriptions of amazing things in Prague we will need to see, just based on the internets (specifically these excerpts are from and

  • Prague Castle: Constructed in the 9th century by Prince Boøivoj, the castle transformed itself from a wooden fortress surrounded by earthen bulwarks to the imposing form it has today. A self-transforming castle?  Perfect.
  • We will be avoiding the “Prague New Town” after reading this description: Today it is not particularly attractive to tourists because of its modernness.
  • A special atmosphere reigns in the little street by the Prague Castle, called the Golden Lane. It is lined with small picturesque houses, that look rather like doll´s houses than people´s homes. Human doll houses?  I am there.  
  • Prague is a fairy-tale town of magical beauty sitting at the very hearth of Europe.
    Frequently it is said to be difficult or even impossible to admire it fully in the course of several days only. Even more intricate is thus trying to introduce it using nothing but a couple of words. I won’t make you try.  I will just come and see it myself.
  • An absolute must on any tourist’s list is also Petrin park with its dominant observation tower sitting majestically on top of Petrin Hill. But do be careful not to mistake it for its bigger sister – the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Yes, I can see how it would be tricky to forget that you are not actually in France.  I will try to refrain from greeting people with “bonjour” while in this part of Prague.
  • I am fully convinced that during your sightseeing tour Golden Prague will cast its spell on you as it has been doing to visitors for many years and is sure to continue doing to everyone that passes its invisible gates for many years to come. Hmm… a little creepy, but I will stay strong and still come.

My sister and I bought our little bro a Prague book a few years ago when he was traveling there.  Looks like we really bought ourselves a gift, as we have now reclaimed it for our own trip.  Win!

And thus concludes the planning portion of our trip.  Or at least the pre-vacation blogging about our trip.  We will probably do some real planning someday soon.  Or in the next months.  I just won’t make you sit through our planning.  Thanks to those of you who have traveled to these places and shared your tips and must-sees with me!  If you have been to any of these places, I’d love to hear from you!

To recap: Munich – Salzburg – Vienna – Prague.  It will be magical.  But not creepy magical like the Prague website would lead you to believe.

City Three: Vienna.

Let’s just continue with the sisters walk down memory lane with this photo montage: 

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Please note two things concerning these images:  1)  Rachel has since gotten Lucy (her dog) a set of coordinating pjs, as she clearly felt left out.  2)  We bring these pajamas on every vacation we go on.

**Please also note that while the above pictures are real, the above statements concerning the above pictures are lies.**

Alrighty then, now that we have that cleared up, onto Vienna:

First, I will share some tips, advice, and general knowledge I learned from watching a Rick Steve’s DVD that I checked out from the library:

  1. Europeans love children, and they are a great social ice breaker.  (we will probably find some children to bring along with us.  My cousin’s cute kiddos have already been volunteered, but we will consider some back-up options just in case they have a previously scheduled playdate conflicting with our trip).
  2. We can ride bikes and take pictures simultaneously.  This is how the pros do it.
  3. The Habsburgs ruled Vienna until WWII, but we should not feel pressure to pay homage to all of their body parts, which are kept in various city locations.
  4. Sachertorte is, according to Rick, a tasty chocolate cake that defies description.  It is enough to make a chocoholic tourist burst into song.  We will have our cameras ready if anyone around us begins singing opera like on the dvd.
  5. Schoennbrunn Palace: looks amazing.  I am considering moving in.  It is the only palace in Europe to rival Versailles.
  6. Ringstrasse encircles most of the important Vienna sites.  The tram circles the whole thing, and so should we.
  7. If we are lucky, children dressed in period clothing pieces will come and sing us a greeting to make us feel welcome.
  8. Old ladies will pump water for you if you ride your bike along the Danube to become “intimately acquainted with nearby villages.”

Those are the highlights of my DVD notes.  Here is what I gleaned from the tour books:

  • I will probably feel like I’m back in Buenos Aires, as one local complains of the dog poo all over the sidewalk.
  • Frommer’s asks me: “Would you like to wind back the clock to Imperial times at the Hofburg, visit Mozart’s house, cruise the Blue Danube, or admire Lipizzaner horses strutting to Waltz music?  Or catch a tram along epic Viennesse boulevards and visit the Prater ferris wheel of Vienna’s cult movie, The Third Man?  Hoping to sample some of Viennese legendary coffee houses?”  Why yes, Mr. Frommer, I really am.  How did you know?
  • Remember this picture: The Vienna Boys Choir!  We would love to see them, even just for their costumes alone, but alas, they are on holiday while we are on holiday.  **sad sigh here**
  • The State Opera house looks amazing and will be a must-see on our tour.

After all the Salzburg excitement of sounds of music, salt mine slides, and luging on hillsides, I think that I will be glad that a favorite Viennese past time is sitting at a cafe and sipping coffee.  Can’t wait!

City Two: The Hills Are Alive


Our first sisters-only trip. My college graduation gift to San Fran! We wear less jean jackets on our trips these days...

Here is a city that I have wanted to go to for approximately ten years.  Maybe longer.  Sad – I am old.

This is the city that started the whole European Vacation.

This is Salzburg.

Home of Mozart and Julie Andrews.

Ok, not really home of Julie Andrews – but of the Von Trapp family, yes.  Or at least of the filming of the Sound of Music.  This has been my favorite movie since the age of three.  My mother loved that it was my favorite, because it is a three hour movie.

We will most definitely be taking the Sound of Music tour while in Salzburg.  This has been my dream since I first learned about it while in High School (another thanks to Frau).  It is a dream I never thought would become reality.  I will not need to practice my leaping skills though, because I hear the gazebo is padlocked due to an unfortunately incident where some tourist tried to re-enact Liesl’s Sixteen Going On Seventeen and fell and broke a hip.  That would be a bit of a vacationing downer.

Other reasons Salzburg will be great to visit include:

Their world famous Marionette Theater!  (not sure why all of these Europe posts have included references to puppets) but we are excited because while we are there, our performance options include The Magic Flute and the Sound of Music.  While I did play the flute once upon a time, I don’t think you can compete with Sound of Music – think of the marionette scene – being re-enacted by marionettes!  Does it get much better than that?

Visiting the Salt Mines includes wearing oompa-loompa jumpsuits.

Because we like to live on the edge, we will probably visit Hellbrunn Castle, with its trick fountains.

We will be looking for trip sponsors so that we can stay here while in Salzburg.

We also hope to take in some classical music, since Mozart wants us to.  Who can argue with Mozart?

City One: Munich

Our first destination revealed: Munich.  Congratulations to those of you playing along at home!

If you ignore the adorable boy in the middle, dressed in his finest sailor clothes, you can enjoy this not-so-recent sister pic to get you in the spirit for our sister adventures!

I don’t know how to make the umlauts, but my heart wants to me to call Munich – Muenchen – in rememberance of all that I learned in German class in High School.  Thanks Frau!  (and yes, I realize the fact that we called our German teacher Frau is like just calling her Mrs.  I don’t know why it was a thing… it just was)

In fact, Frau has a lot to be thanked for in the planning of this trip.  We will be flying into Munich because that’s what planes from the United States do, but because of all the neat things we learned about in German, I feel a need to see these sights before leaving the city.  My kind-hearted sister has granted my wish of an extra day to spend in Munich, even though she has been there twice, and thus it is pretty much her home away from home.

While in Munich, I feel the need to see the Glockenspiel at the Neues Rathaus.  We learned so much about it in class, that I have to see it!

AND the Frauenkirche is in Munich!  Which has the doppel zwiebelturm – these were highlighted in the book on tape: Geheime Mission (secret mission) that we read/listened to in the language lab.  This is the description I found of it online: This spellbinding tale of industrial espionage is intended for beginning students. The other weird things we remember from this epic tale include something about lipstick and something about a potato cellar.

We also could go to the Olympic Park, since that seems to be a thing us spinster sisters do.

I was excited about the prospect of the English Gardens – because we all know how much I love gardens – but then I read on and discovered it is a favorite place for nude sunbathers.  Not really my cup of tea.

At Lonely Planet, this quote caught my eye, “Nobody’s looking for a puppeteer in today’s wintry climate.”  This led me to believe that Munich will be filled with sad looking ventriloquists meandering the streets with a puppet dangling off their hand.  But then I kept reading, “Not all news is grim news in the puppet world, and puppetry is still thriving and even growing in popularity in certain puppet hotspots.”  WHEW!  Thanks Lonely Planet!

A college roommate of mine lives near Munich – perhaps I’ll have to find some ideas from her to help plan our itinerary!  We won’t have a lot of time in this city, but I currently only have two Muenchen dreams to make come true while we are there.  Perhaps there are more dreams that she can tell me about which I am just not aware yet that I should be dreaming of!

Return of the Spinster Sisters

Ok, this title is a bit misleading.  We haven’t actually gone anywhere.  In fact, this post is more to tell you that we will be going somewhere.  Hooray!

Right now we are working on researching our destination.  I will give you some clues from the internets, guidebooks, and my heart, to help you figure out where we will be traveling on Spinster Sister Vacation Take 2.  (this is under the assumption that you care enough about our travel plans to play along).  This is also a bit misleading because strictly speaking, it will be our fifth trip together, but only the second under the formal, and quite catchy, title of Spinster Sisters.

Clue #1 We will not be going anywhere we have gone together before.  That list officially includes: San Francisco, Chicago, Tokyo, O Canada, and this summer’s destination.  In fact, we are even branching out to a new continent.  Not new to us, or new to the world, but new to us collectively.

Clue #1b We will be traveling to four cities in three counties during our trip. Well, four countries if you include our layover in the land of our forefathers.

Clue #2 City Three had on the official website this question: “At this very moment, young men are waltzing.  On horseback.  Want to join them?”

Clue #3 City One

Clue #4 We will be reliving my favorite movie from the time I was three years old when we visit City Two

Clue #5 My coworker visited City Four and saw the musical Cats in black light.  Creepy?  yes.

Clue #6 This is the front cover of our tour book.  Can we see this in person?  That would be amazing.

Clue #7 Potential modes of transportation include: plane, train, riverboat cruise, subway, taxi, hackney coach, wooden slide in a mine.

Clue #8 Sprechen Sie Deutsch?

Clue #9 City Four describes itself as such on its website: “is a fairy tale town of magical beauty sitting at the very hearth of ***” Yes, this description does sound more like something ridiculous I would say than something an official city website would say.  For this reason alone, I must travel here.

Clue #10 Mozart, Mozart, Mozart

Clue #11 My sister just told me that you take a bridge to get to one of our hotels.  This leads me to believe that our hotel will have a moat.  This is probably not accurate, but it creates a magical picture in my head.

Tickets are purchased, our hearts are brimming with joyful excitement, and most importantly… the hills are alive, with the sound of music… dreams are about to come true.

** The only lowlight is that we will be celebrating Canada Day on an airplane this year.  Perhaps we will bring small Canadian flags for everyone on our flight **

Starsheep, babies, and cupcakes.

This past weekend was the kind of weekend to write home about.  It was just that good.  It was filled with my favorite people and doing some amazing fun things.  Oh, how shall I even begin to recap?

Friday = Baking Day.

Steph and I threw a baby shower for our dear friend Sara on Saturday, so Friday was prep for that.  I’m fairly certain that Jesus knew I wouldn’t have time to accomplish everything I needed to and still sleep, so He arranged for my principal to allow us to work from home on Friday afternoon.

*Disclaimer: we did not have kids at school on Friday – the afternoon was already slotted for report card prep.

So in between entering grades, I made mini muffins (baking tip #1 – know how many a recipe makes.  This may prevent you from making 24 giant mini muffins instead of 36 actual mini muffins)

I also baked Oreo Cupcakes and chocolate cupcakes.  I was excited to use my new adorable spatula and decorating dots from Jill and my decorating book from the sibs. 

And I made use my own brilliance.  They were a hit!  Here are some photos of the epic success.  (Please humor me while I celebrate when this happens, because not all of my baking turns out brilliantly). 

Saturday = Crazy Busy Day O’ Fun

In the morning we had Sara’s baby shower.  It was so fun to celebrate with her, and also amazing to see friends I hadn’t seen in years.  I loved catching up with everyone so much!   My students were also excited to hear about the baby shower, and promptly requested a field trip to the hospital to visit my friend and her baby when the baby is born.  Don’t worry Sar – I asked, and none of them have a bus, so they accepted the crushing of their dreams with the answer of “no” to their field trip wish.

Then Saturday night, my church had a film fest – it was incredibly fun.  People could form a team and then were given a two week window to make their 3-6 minute films.  Everyone was a assigned a genre, a mandatory prop: a hula hoop and a mandatory line: It’s like drinking from a firehose.

After the premiere of all the films, awards were given.  It is the one time of year our church dresses up.  Personally, I made good use of my bridesmaid’s dress from my brother’s wedding.  It was the right choice.

I must say I love attending church with so many ridiculous and creative people.  A lot of groups, including my roommate and some other friends of mine made really funny movies.  I think if you search 707 Film Fest on the internets (specifically youtube) you should find some of them posted for your enjoyment

This by far my favorite: (before watching it, you should know that The City is an online platform for churches – similar to facebook, yet quite different – and that is where we sign up for events and get info on what is happening at the church etc)  (You should also know that you don’t need to be familiar with The City to enjoy)  (You should also know that this will not leave your head for weeks)  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.  But you should still watch it.

You should also know that afterwards I was able to meet several members of the band.  It was a real honor.  I got my starsheep poster autographed and have it hanging in my room.  

Which brings us to Sunday.  The day of rest.  Thank goodness!

Wild, Wild, West

**I apologize if you are my facebook friend and thus this is old news**

I am considering teaching a unit on the Wild West in kindergarten.  I specifically would like to educate them on Vocabulary of the Old West (This is clearly an appropriate kindergarten topic, right?)

My first two lessons will be:

COWGIRLS are different from CALLGIRLS.

When we play four corners after recess, the person who is “it” is referred to as the “cowboy” or “cowgirl”, mostly because that is what the teacher across the hall does and all my students now think it is a universal rule.  We have them hold a ridiculous blue cowboy hat with blue streamer trim in front of their face so that they can’t be a cheater and peek who is in each corner.  That being said, a few weeks ago we came inside and a little girl shouts down the hall to me, asking, “Miss K, who is the next callgirl???”  (although looking at the picture, maybe I should use a less ridiculous cowboy hat to better differentiate between cowgirls and callgirls)

Hairstyling is not done at the saloon.

A little girl came in her with hair freshly styled in some cute little twists sticking off her head in every direction (love this look) and she excitedly told us that her mom didn’t do her hair today.  Nope!  She went to the saloon and had it done.  Did I correct her?  Nope.  I just reveled in the amazing mispronunciation of salon.

And luckily, I already know what plaid flannel I would wear to teach these important lessons.  Perhaps the same one that I unthinkingly wore on Sunday to see my cousin star in Oklahoma.  My brother made the same coordinating mistake.  After the show I had to zip up my fleece all the way because two feet away from me was a cast member wearing virtually the same shirt as me.  Embarrassing! 🙂

The following would not be covered in our “Western” unit, but perhaps in our traditions unit (which we actually teach).

One of my kids lost a tooth, and he excitedly told Mrs. T that he saw the toothfairy when she came.  I was concerned that he was about to dejectedly describe his mom.  No need for alarm.  Turns out the tooth fair has rainbow colored hair that magically changes colors and sparkly wings.