Friday, September 18, 2015

A New House in Minny

Hello from the suburbs! I've spent the weekend in Minneapolis with Sarah and Erik, mainly to get away from my lonely house while Lee is out of town, but also of course to hang out with my daughter and son in law and their adorable dog Mika. And to see their new house!

I flew into Minneapolis Friday afternoon. Sarah picked me up at the airport and from there we went straight to her house. I had seen pictures but I was very curious about this new abode. I knew it was an architect's dream home, but I was still very impressed. They were very lucky to get it in Minneapolis's hot housing market.

When we walked inside the first thing I thought was "wow, I could be walking into one of my aunt's nice houses in Saint Louis County back in the 1960's". It's very mid century modern, and it's funny to think that for them this style of house is their grandparent's style, much like a Victorian house would have been OUR grandparent's style. It gives me a new appreciation for the suburban houses of the 60's with their clean spare lines.

Sarah showed me around and then it was time to get ready to go out to dinner and then go see The Music Man at the Guthrie Theatre. Suzanne, Erik's mom, picked us up. Sarah now lives around 5 minutes from her mother in law. I envy them both!

We met Erik and Chris, Erik's sister, at 112 Eatery. We shared a bunch of very delicious appetizers and a few main courses AND a slice of Tres Leche cake, and then we were off to the Guthrie.

I love the Music Man, and so does Sarah. It was the first musical she ever saw. The acoustics at the Guthrie are excellent, and the cast, for the most part, was very good. When you have seen it as many times as we have, and listened to the cast recording 1,000's of times as well, it can make for a fairly critical viewing. So, I thought the chorus was excellent, both the old ladies (Pick a Little Talk a Little) and the kids (Shipoopee was very well done). The barbershop quartet was wonderful, except for one A Capella entrance that was initially out of tune. Little Winthrop lisped his s's adorably, but it's very hard to compete with a 6 year old Ron Howard from the movie! Marion had an absolutely fantastic voice, but wasn't as drop dead gorgeous as Shirley Jones (see I told you there was a very high bar).

The only real disappointment was Harold Hill. The guy that played him did a perfectly okay job, but that part carries the show and demands a charismatic actor. They need to be funny, a little sleazy, and ultimately romantic and sweet. That's a lot to ask of any one person. This Professor Hill was adequate, even good, but he wasn't fantastic. Oh well!

The drive back to the suburbs after the show seemed endless. I thought that by now I knew Minneapolis pretty well, after all Sarah has lived there over 10 years. But they are out in the Western suburbs and I'm pretty lost right now, plus Minnesota is in the middle of construction season and several highways are closed, making it difficult to find a direct route anywhere.

For some reason, although I didn't go to bed until after midnight I woke up at 5 and couldn't get back to sleep, so Saturday was a pretty sleepy day. Sarah and I took a Pilates class in the morning. I do some Pilates-type exercises, but this class used something called a reformer, which is a padded platform with moving parts connected by springs. You can make the exercises easier or more difficult by the strength of the springs that are attached between the different sections. I was able to do at least a modified version of most of the exercises, and I wasn't very sore the next day, except for my glutes, which is kind of great since that's a difficult muscle to work on. It's fun to try different workouts!

We had a pretty lazy afternoon, but we did take Mika to a park for a short walk. Boy it was hot, at least for Minnesota. I think it hit 90F, and I'm just not used to that kind of weather any more. We tried to get Mika to get in the water and cool off, but she wasn't very enthusiastic about that idea. Sarah stood in the water up to her ankles and Mika went in then but I think it was just to get Sarah to come back out. 

We went for an early dinner to a place called Hola Arepa, a place that makes amazing Venezuelan sandwiches They also make yucca fries and really nice watermelon mango white sangria. We stuffed ourselves silly and I was in bed asleep by 9 pm. I slept almost 9 hours, unheard of for me.

In the morning it was cloudy and cooler and I was glad because it was time to go for a run. Sarah had said I could take her car to go run by a nearby lake, but she has a manual transmission. I don't think I've driven a stick for over eight years. I wondered if I would remember how, but it really is just like riding a bike, I had no trouble at all. Once I parked the car I decided to run on an attractive bike trail that I found. Minneapolis has the most amazing bike trails. Sarah and Erik live probably five miles outside the city but they could easily take a bike trail into work without having to share the space with cars. It was a nice run too, mostly flat. I'm glad it was cooler though because even in the low 70's those 8 800 meter repeats were pretty tough!

After cooling off and taking a shower we headed to the St Pauls' farmers market. My sister-in-law Cathy and her son Andrew were manning (and womaning) their stand. They have a farm south of Minneapolis where they raise grassfed cows, pigs, chickens and turkeys. Andrew has a great blog - - where you can read all about the ups and downs of running a small family farm. 

St Paul has a nice farmers market. Everything is locally raised and grown so there were lots of veggies but not much fruit. We decided to see what we could get at the market and determine our dinner from there. We bought meat from our family farmers, veggies and flowers from the other stands, and we did find some rhubarb, so we bought that as well. My niece Nicole was in town so she was coming over for dinner. She is in the nursing program up in Duluth and just happened to be in the Twin Cities this weekend. 

After eating brunch with Cathy at a nearby restaurant we headed back to the suburbs to plan our dinner. We decided we would have grass fed skirt steak, grilled veggies, couscous from Trader Joe's and for dessert a strawberry rhubarb crisp. I volunteered to drive to the nearby Trader Joes for the strawberries and the couscous. I had been there earlier in the weekend with Sarah, and I was having fun driving a stick. How difficult could it be?

Just to be safe I searched for Trader Joes on Google Maps. I chose what seemed to be the closest one and I was on my way....or was I? The Trader Joes I went to with Sarah had been five minutes away, this one was farther, much farther. Oh well! And they didn't have fresh strawberries either so I had to get frozen. I still don't know what happened, but I managed to get there and back, eventually.

While Sarah and Erik grilled steaks and veggies and cooked the couscous, I volunteered to make the crisp. I selected a recipe and started gathering the ingredients until we suddenly realized that Sarah didn't have rolled oats, just steel cut, which are great for breakfast, not so much for making a crumbled topping.

I went back online and googled "strawberry rhubarb crisp no oats" and up popped a recipe from Smitten Kitchen, one of my favorite recipe sources anyway! If you've never heard of her she's great, delicious food made in a tiny New York City apartment and tested thoroughly so every recipe is not only delicious but trustworthy. The crisp came out great - thanks Deb!

Monday was my last day in Minny. Sarah took the day off and we had a good time accomplishing errands, eating lunch and window shopping. I made it almost the entire weekend without buying anything but finally succumbed to a sweater and pajama pants on sale at Anthropology. Well I always need more sweaters for the boat, and some of my pjs need desperately to be retired so they almost fell into the category of need. Almost.

We drove by Dogwood so I could get some of their coffee which I love, and then it was time to take me to the airport. Because of the time change I didn't get into Boston until 8pm that night, and the heat wave that graced most of my trip to Minny had landed on the east coast. I actually had to turn on the air conditioning! Oh well my tomatoes liked it, but I had to get up early to run for a few days.

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