Memorial Day Staycation

Tiffany and I wanted to make the most of Memorial Day Weekend, but we couldn’t go anywhere.  What are a couple of roommates to do?

If your answer was make a list of Minneapolis adventures that we have always wanted to have and then begin conquering that list, you are right!

First our itinerary, next the highlights!

  • Mill City Farmer’s Market for breakfast
  • Mill City Museum
  • Eat Street Social
  • Hunt and Gather
  • The Avengers
  • Pizzeria Lola
  • Home for cheesecake and a cheesy Disney channel movie on Netflix

Our biggest challenge of the day was the weather.  We knew it would be rainy and stormy off and on all day, so we had to plan accordingly.

At the Farmer’s Market we ate delicious donuts and drank iced mochas.

Our official review on the Mill City Museum: it was awesome.  We are now experts on flour.  I had no idea how dangerous flour milling was!  I also had no idea how many flour mills were on the Mississippi back in the day.  We loved all the old artifacts, and were confused by the wooden carvings of historical flour figures.  You should go though.  You will love it!  Did I mention the most ridiculous movie I’ve ever seen: the history of Minneapolis in 19 minutes.  And ashamedly I will admit there may have been tearing up at the end.

We had brunch food for lunch at Eat Street Social.  We went at a really awkward time, and were some of the only patrons in the restaurant.  It was tasty food.

Next up: Hunt and Gather.  It is an eclectic antique store full on randomness that was reminiscent of my grandma’s attic  (my favorite place as a child).  The highlight: a squirrel terrarium with 3 brown squirrels and 1 albino squirrel in their… natural habitat?  Terrifying.  Why did someone else have that in their home or place of business?

We then saw The Avengers.  Loved it.  And had an enthusiastic audience that clapped and cheered.  I do not condone clapping during movies, but it was pretty fitting in this instance.

Pizzeria Lola was for dinner.  It was a bit of a wait, but with some good people watching the time flew by.  The decor was unique and fun.  The food was delicious.  They deliver your bill in a cigar box with a flower pen.  It is cute.  And they have a photobooth in the back!  How fun is that!

All in all, it was a fantastic day.  You will probably want to recreate it on your own (well, with a friend or two) someday soon.

a Nice Ride to Target Field

Friends!  I don’t think I ever told you about my adventure with Minneapolis’ Nice Ride bikes!

Don’t worry.  The time has come.

For those of you not acquainted with the Nice Ride bikes, there are sets of bikes all around Minneapolis.  You can rent a bike and one station and drop it off at another.  The first 30 minutes are free, which is ideal if all of your destinations are within 30 minutes. 

Shawn and I started by her house in NE.  We picked up some bikes and dropped them off a couple blocks from Target Field.  We then sat through some horribly played baseball (sorry Twins, it is the truth.  Actually, I take back my apology.  You should be the one apologizing to me).

After that we rode the bikes to Saint Anthony Main where we went out for some apps.  After that, we rode the bikes back to Shawn’s house.

It was a fun way to explore the city, try something new, and take a different approach to visiting Target Field.

Book Recommendations Please!

Alright friends, family, strangers…

I’m looking for some summer reading recommendations.  I’ll be spending many hours in airplanes traveling this summer and like to read a bit to wind down before going to sleep (and imagine that will be the same whether I am here or in Africa). 

I’ll tell you some of my favs of late to give you some inspiration 🙂

Young Adult Lit

  • Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Mockingjay
  • Divergent & Insurgent
  • Matched and Crossed (Crossed is better, but you have to read Matched first)
  • On my travel purchase list: Delirium & Pandemonium

Mysteries & Action (listed by authors I enjoy) (I don’t like mysteries that will completely give me nightmares, but enjoy some clever crime solving)

  • Vince Flynn (my new addiction – thanks Ashley!  Reading these books is basically like watching 24.  I have intentionally been pacing myself so that I can read lots of them this summer)
  • Rhys Bowen (light fluffy mysteries with a fun historical flair)
  • David Housewright
  • David Rosenfelt
  • Harlan Coben
Also on my list of purchased, but haven’t read is Crazy Love by Francis Chan (and by purchased I mean I got it when it was a free download.  win!)
Also, am currently reading Pride and Prejudice and The Power of One (don’t ask me how I am currently reading both of those books.  It just happened.  It was an accident).
Those are my top two genre’s of late, but others I enjoy:

Good Reads

  • The Help
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society

Funny and Entertaining Books

  • Tiney Fey’s Bossypants
  • Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?

Chick Lit (I enjoy a good fluffy beach read, but some authors are a little too much for me in the ridiculous cheesy factor.  So I like chick lit but with discretion)
  • Emily Giffin
  • Sophie Kinsella (the shopaholic weren’t my most favorite, but her other books are pretty decent!)

Overly Dramatic (these I can only read in moderation)

  • Kristin Hannah
  • Jodi Picoult
  • Nicholas Sparks
  • Karen Kingsbury

So, there you have it: some authors I know and love or like.

Now I need some new material.  What books or authors would you recommend?

Africa Preparations Part 2

Another important element of preparing for Africa is figuring out what clothes to pack.

When packing for two months, you need to factor in several things:

  1. The weather.  Word on the street is it is about 85 F each day in Uganda.
  2. The culture.  I need to dress modestly (which isn’t a huge issue for me) but I need to make sure that I don’t wear shorts (capris are okay), keep my shoulders mostly covered, and have at least one dress for church.
  3. The day to day.  I don’t want to wear anything that I will be afraid to get dirty.  I need to like it enough to wear it for two months, but not so much that if it gets ruined I will bat an eyelash.
  4. The safari.  I potentially need different clothes for the safari portion of my trip than for the orphanage part of my trip.  I need clothes that will protect me from nature, but blend in with nature enough to not scare away the animals, and be comfortable for traveling.  This has probably been the trickiest part of my packing.  Until this frock was suggested:

This is an adult tiger costume pajama.  And here is the product description on Amazon: Easy Snap Up Front, Pocket for Valuables, Warm and Snuggly Costume Doubles as PJ’s For Use Inside and Out.

We can thank Jill for filling me in on this well kept secret of the internet.  We decided there were a lot of pros to this ensemble.

I mean, it would be comfortable, keep the Mosquitos off me, AND I would totally blend in with the animals.  I could probably get really close to nature.

Then there is the valuables pocket.  Jill suggested that, to be safe, the pocket should hold raw meat. That way, if the animals decide to eat me, I can throw it to them and run away really fast or climb a tall tree like Katniss (we do try to bring all things back to Hunger Games whenever possible).

And BONUS!  There is a variety of animal designs available, so I can change clothes depending on what animal we are trying to get the closest to that particular day:

Lions, giraffes, even dinosaurs!

Yes, I think I am prepared for all of my African adventures.

Now the only question that remains is A) what necklace would go best with the dinosaur costume, and B) which one should I wear for the plane ride over?  I’m thinking giraffe – I don’t want anyone to think I am a real wild animal and be scared to sit by me on the plane ride.  Or maybe I do want that… more room to stretch out and lay down for the long flights… hmm….

And just in case you think I’m kidding, (ok, I am totally kidding) this has worked in real life!  Check it out!  

(here is a link to the panda photos with more pics and a slight explanation)

Delicious Desserts

There are so many fun places to go for delicious desserts in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.

One classic location that you should be sure to visit is Cafe Latte on Grand Ave in St. Paul.

I was first introduced to Cafe Latte in college by the girls on my freshman floor.  Since then, I have returned as often as I can find occasions to do so.  Most recently, we went out for Jill’s birthday and shared some cakes and drank some coffee.  We had turtle cake, cheesecake, and some sort of fancy raspberry cake.  

In other desserty news, for as much as I love baking fancy cupcakes, I had yet to visit a fancy cupcake shop.

Friday I decide to change that.

I met up with Kari (who looked adorable in her cute hat) at Sweet Retreat at 50th and France in Edina.  It was a delightful experience.  We chose from a variety of AMAZING looking cupcakes, and then sat outside on an cute bright pink bench, chatted, and ate our cupcakes and chatted.  I had a s’mores cupcake and Kari had a salted caramel.  YUM!

I think we’ll be back.  And I think that you should visit if you haven’t.

Even more than fun treats, I like spending time with my friends, and am trying to soak as much friend time in over the next 17 days.

In other non-desserty news, I’ll be writing for our Women at Hope blog for Hope Community Church this summer while I’m in Uganda.  My first post is up.  Click here to check it out!

all your questions (three of your questions) answered

I think the top three questions in my life right now are: 

1) When is the school year done?

2) When do you leave?

3) Where is Uganda.

So I’d like to take a moment and just share with you the answers.

1) June 7 (with kids) June 8 (without kids)

2) June 13 (yes, I realize that is fast turn around.  But you know me.  I’m a procrastinator and will spend as much time as I give myself getting ready for my trip.  I’d rather have more time between the end of my trip and the beginning of the school year)

3) Here is a map that I googled for your reference.

And here is some new Uganda news: while I’m there, I’ve been asked to visit the school the orphans attend as well as some other schools in the area to gain a better understanding of the how and the what that the kids are learning in school.  I will then work with the orphanage director to figure out what the Ugandan Orphanage Staff can implement to better help the children in their reading and math.  I’m excited to be able to put my teacher skills to good use in a way that is sustainable after I leave.

And now for some totally unrelated good news: If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you probably remember my student I referred to last year as my African Queen.  She had the biggest personality I’ve ever met in a small child and was a constant source of awesome entertainment for all.  Well… it looks like her little sister will be in my class next year!  Win!

I was also complimented yesterday by some random girls in the hallway on my bling-bling.  Guess what I’m going to be wearing to school a lot more often??  🙂


Africa Preparations: Part 1

Welcome to a new mini-series on my blog.  Time will tell how mini it truly is.  I’m envisioning a minimum of 2 posts, with a maximum of 22.  These may be serious, these may be ridiculous.  I will let you be the judge of that.

Today I want to talk about training for safari-ing.

I am not known for my ability to spot things.  I’m assuming that at times, on our game drives, the animals won’t be right next to me, easy to spot.  Sometimes my eyes may have to try a little.

So to prepare my eyes for spotting animals in the distance, animals that appear small because they are so far away, I have a series of eye-challenges that I complete weekly.

One such game I like to play is called, “spot the elephant”. 

In “spot the elephant” I hid my elephant necklace in amongst the wilds of nature.  Then I close my eyes for 10 seconds and spin around one time to forget where it is.  Then I open my eyes and see how fast I can spot it.  

My times have been steadily improving, and I have every confidence that I will be ready for Africa in no time.

Magical Moments

This afternoon and evening was filled with delightful magical moments.

Let me share a few of them with you.

First of all, I treated myself to a coffee frap.  My most fav.  It was delicious.

Then I read by a lake.

Then I had a picnic with these lovely ladies. 

Then a butterfly joined us! 

Then… get ready for it… a man with his pet MONKEY walked past us!

I was so in awe, I couldn’t properly alert my friends.  I just kept saying, “Monkey.  Monkey.  Monkey.”  and eventually they noticed my frozen muttering and I was able to direct their attention.  It made us so happy.

I didn’t get any photos, because I was too overcome, but fortunately, I found a video that you can watch instead!  it will be like you are there live.

Man With Monkey On His Head Walks Around Como Lake « CBS Minnesota.

Or, if you’d prefer to get your own pet monkey, I’d love for you to travel to 1964 and get take advantage of this great deal!  Just promise that when you go around the lake, you will go slow enough for me to take a picture!?

The good news is that I did a great job of spotting animals.  This bodes well for my summer safari.  The bad news is I apparently go into shock in seeing animals.  I will need to work on this.

The Grace of Giving

Right now at Hope Community Church, we are in a series on 2 Corinthians called Bridezilla Returns.  Within that, we are in a mini-series entitled The Grace of Giving.  Through raising financial support to go to Uganda, I have been so blessed to see this idea lived out.  People who live generously and are excited to support what God is doing.  I thank them for giving and they thank me for going, and round and round we go.  What a tremendous example that has been set before me of giving not being a command or a burden, but being a joy.

I’m so excited to be able to say that my summer missions trip to Uganda is fully funded – praise Jesus!

Not only is my trip fully funded, but I also have raised over $300 dollars in additional financial support that I am using to buy additional teaching, playing, learning, and living resources for the orphanage, as well as to pay for an extra suitcase to bring these things along.  In addition to THAT, I have had others donate books, toys, clothes etc for me to bring to the orphaned and abandoned children.

God gave me the time, desire, and gifts to go, serve Him, and share His love with these orphans in Uganda.  But on my own, I sure didn’t have the financial resources.  I am SO humbled and SO blessed by all of you who contributed to my trip and will be praying for me while I’m gone.

Raising support teaches me to trust Jesus.  To rely fully on Him, because I can’t do it on my own.  It helps me get my perspective right and my heart right.  This trip isn’t about me going on some crazy adventure to Africa (although I’m sure there will be more than enough adventures to share with you), but it is about serving God and loving others.

There isn’t a day that went by that upon finding a support check in the mail, I didn’t open it and feel overwhelmed and undeserving of your generosity. Or you handed me money at a birthday party, took me shopping for books for these kids, or called me to ask their sizes to buy appropriate clothing.

My heart is full.

So I want to say THANK YOU.

Thank you for living generously.

Thank you for your words of encouragement about God’s plans for my summer.

Thank you for praying for me.

Thank you for being excited along with me.

Thank you for being amazing.

And Thank You to God for your loving faithfulness… for surprising me, for providing for my needs in ways I didn’t expect, and for being trustworthy.

Grandpa Blue Jay

On Mother’s Day, my family went to the Twin’s game to celebrate our Mother. We like to try out new seats when we go to the games together, and this time we sat in the Powerball Pavillion. We were surprised upon our arrival to discover that we were surrounded by Blue Jays fans. Fortunately, Rachel and I DO love Canada.

Well it turns out that what we love even more than Canada is sitting next to adorable old grandpa baseball fans.

This post goes out to Harmon, the 91 year old Blue Jay fan, bused in from Canada for this series against the Twins. He was a delight. He is our favorite fan of the 2011-2012 season. That much is for sure.

Special thanks to my sister Rachel, who helped me recall the greatness of Harmon (aka sent me an email with all that she remembered… most of which I copied and pasted into this).

Now you might be thinking, “Laura, I like cheering for baseball. I’d like to be a contender for your favorite fan of the season.” Well, it isn’t going to be easy. But here are some suggestions to get you started.

Have awesome heckles that are also ridiculously long. And don’t forget to have great vocabulary:

  • Harmon would shout out things like, “I SAY OLD CHAP, don’t wait to start throwing strikes on my account!” Basically anything that starts with “I say old chap” is going to be fantastic.
  • When you think your heckle should be done. Talk for about 30 more seconds.
  • Throw in a “jeepers creepers” when the occasion calls for it. And don’t be afraid to end with “eh”!

Know your team:

He educated Rachel on the Blue Jays and describe them in fantastic ways:

–one of their players (who went on to steal both 2nd and 3rd) was
really enjoyable to watch. He is very fast and agile and is a real
consternation to opposing pictures.
–when a guy named Colby was up, I learned that Colby is “cute” name
and he’s the best center fielder they’ve had in years. He covers a
lot of ground, but runs in kind of a loping fashion so you don’t
realize how good he will be.
–talked about how the pitcher is their ace, but seems to have one bad
inning in most outings. His wife added the comment that he sure
wasn’t pitching like an ace today
–he liked one of their players because he always got dirty in
games…a real go-getter
–average age of their players is 24, they are a real young team

Be a Fan of Baseball

He appreciated the good plays of the game, regardless of the team that made them. For example, both he and his wife were impressed with Willingham’s catch deep in the corner, was impressed with Dozier’s catch and turn to get the guy on 2nd out too, and was disappointed when they scored a run on a wild pitch/passed ball (because no one likes to see that sort of thing).

Get Everyone Involved

He chastised his fellow blue jay fans in our section for not cheering loudly enough. I can’t remember exactly what he said, but it had to do with how could they possibly walk out of there with their
heads held high if they hadn’t given their all in cheering.

Coach from your seat. And be encouraging:

  • When the players would all go to the mound for a little chat, he would shout things about their meeting, “Not being worth a hoot” and tell them to get back to playing baseball.
  • When a pinch hitter was brought in late in the game, he yelled at him that he’d been sitting all day so he should be ready to go.
  • One guy swung at something in the dirt, he yelled at him to wait for a ball that “maybe isn’t on the ground.” Next pitch he didn’t swing at one in the dirt and he was pleased with himself.
  • When the last guy was up, he yelled, I hope that you realize that you are our last hope.

Participate. Until you stop.

Harmon sang along with O Canada until the high notes at the very end. Afterwards, he told Rachel he can’t hit those notes.

Have a Bit of Sass

when Plouffe got that triple, he made a comment about how Plouffe had walked earlier in the game, hit into a double play and then got that triple…”He’s really going places. I bet his average is up to 139 by now. Good for him” (All said in just a great old man sassy tone, not mean or super sarcastic or anything)

Feed Your Wife

Harmon brought his wife a hot dog and said “Here, eat this for awhile. We need to get some food in you…I’ll take my turn in a bit.”

Be 91 and awesome.

Do you see Harmon?? Don’t you want to be his friend too?

Thanks Harmon, for making our day. You are welcome back at Target Field anytime!