Our quick weekend getaway

We left on Friday right after H got home from work and we had a lovely and easy drive to SE Minnesota.  Descending from Preston into the deep valley where the charming town rests was almost like driving backward into time.  You got this feeling you were going somewhere that time has forgot.  We got into Lanesboro and found our B&B, Habberstad House, a truly gorgeous 1897 Queen Anne home that has been lovingly restored down to the smallest detail.  We didn’t get in until a little after 6:30, so we were too late for the cheese and wine party, but they brought us glasses of wine to enjoy as soon as we were in our room.  The Scandinavian room was just beautiful.  We had this marvelous balcony overlooking the gardens and the water fountain.  You could smell  the sweet scent of magnolia from two trees in the garden below.  We sipped our wine on the balcony and then left for dinner.  We chose a place called The Vintage and we had the most marvelous meal we’ve had in a while.  We each had salads, and H had the paté (he said it was as good as any he had in France) while I had the spring pea bisque.  We each had the pork loin chops, and we finished with dessert.  We ordered a not-too-sweet Austrian Riesling and all that food and the bottle of wine came to $98, which just floored us.  Afterward, we headed back to the B&B and noticed there were ominous clouds to the south and lots of lightning.  We had a stormy evening from there on out, but we slept in that lovely bed with the softest cotton sheets I’ve ever felt and drifted off to the sound of rain on the rooftop, which was something delicious to hear.

We got up on Saturday and I took a long soak in the Jacuzzi whirpool tub.  We went downstairs and I took my knitting with me since breakfast wouldn’t be ready until 8:30.  We just enjoyed our coffee in the period parlors and met all the other house guests as they came down.  It was a charming and diverse group of people – three professor friends from UW/Madison, an elderly couple from Chicago also doing the art tour, and another couple from the Twin Cities, very friendly, just there to get away for a while.  We had apple dutch baby pancakes, and a fresh fruit salad with yogurt, and fresh banana bread served with a warm butter sauce, and fresh juice and coffee and it was quite the splendid set up.  And the hosts of the B&B were a really friendly, outgoing couple originally from the Twin Cities.

We took off after breakfast and started the art tour (see the brochure) in Lanesboro where several of the venues were, then made our way along the Root River (which is apparently a lot like the topography of Norway) to Houston, then on to Caledonia, Spring Grove, New Albin (Iowa), and finally ending up in Decorah at Seed Savers for our garden transplants.  We bought some pottery along the way and I hope to get some good pictures for you.  I didn’t take any pictures on the trip – to be honest, I didn’t want to do anything except take it all in.  And the weather was gray and icky, but we both really enjoy just riding through the countryside seeing new little towns, discovering places we haven’t been before.  We left Decorah about 5 on Saturday and ended up back in town by 8:00, but it felt like we had been gone much longer than that.  Beulah was so happy to see us both she just cried and cried when we got to H’s parents’ house.

We spent yesterday just laying around.  The knitting muse hit me over the head a little after breakfast, and I spent a good part of the afternoon adding some Scandinavian color work patterns into the front of the sweater I am making for Harald.  Oh, it did come out looking a treat.  I can’t wait to finish the front.  Maybe this week.  And it rained off and on all day yesterday, water our gardens and lawns desperately needed, so we just stayed in and didn’t do anything.  I did make a chicken and mushroom risotto recipe with a nice salad for dinner, and that was just right on a cold and wet day.

When I got on the elevator at the office this morning, it felt like I hadn’t been at work for a very long time, even though it was just a normal weekend.  I guess that means we had a really good time getting away.  All in all, I would say it was just what the doctor ordered.  And we love Lanesboro.  We plan to go back, maybe as early as June for a shorter day trip.  It’s only 30 minutes south of Rochester, so it’s completely doable.  And we are definitely going back in the fall when the leaves are changing.  And we are also planning to go back to Spring Grove, which we discovered on Saturday.  Ironically, there was a story in the Sunday travel section of the newspaper all about Spring Grove and how it was the first Norwegian settlement in what is now Minnesota.  And we got great plants at Seed Savers.  And Mom is getting better and has really seemed to turn the corner and has started eating again and sounding much more like her old self.  So, today it’s all good ….

Catching up

Sometimes the best way to let people know what’s going on is just to give lots of little snippets …

1.  Friday morning came and I decided I didn’t have it in me to work another day.  I took a day off just for me.  I ended up calling Marsha, a fiber friend (read all about her here (http://tinyurl.com/dylso6) and went to the American Craft Council show in St. Paul.  On the way home, we stopped at Cosetta’s to do some Italian grocery shopping.

2.  I made a wonderful pasta dish on Friday night for dinner using Cosetta’s Italian sausage and tiny little meatballs.  It made for an excellent lunch on Saturday, too!

3.  On Saturday morning, I picked up my MIL and SIL and we went the Yarnover event sponsored by the Minnesota Knitter’s Guild.  I finally joined the guild.  Their monthly meetings don’t do much for me, but it will be good to be well-connected to an organization devoted to knitting.  I bought two socks books I’ve been wanting, some natural fawn colored yarn from a local woolen mill made from Minnesota sheep (enough to make a generous sweater for myself), a kit for a Bohus hat (I’ve been dying to do some Bohus work since seeing the exhibit a couple months ago at the American-Swedish Institute), various cool knit-knacks, and a book of traditional Scandinavian knitting patterns.  This was my one “splurge” I allowed myself after getting my tax refund.  Best of all, I discovered Black Water Abbey Yarns, based out of Aurora, CO.  They import the most marvelous dyed wool from Ireland.  All three of us ended up buying patterns, and getting their color cards for their whole line.  I woke up yesterday thinking about the men’s vest pattern I bought and how I wanted to make it.  Maybe I will buy the yarn soon.

4.  Saturday afternoon we spent opening up all the flower beds because they said it would rain Saturday night/Sunday morning.  We got all the work done, but I’ve been sore for two days.  Geez I am out of shape.  But I love looking out on the bed and seeing green things coming up and all the dead brown growth cleared away.  Right now we see tulips and hyacinth and daffodils coming up, along with peonies and hostas and lots of other stuff.  Spring is most welcome!  Oh, and the hawks seem particularly hungry this year, thinning our population of squirrels and rabbits, which is good, but we don’t like the evidence of the killings we keep coming across.

5.  Saturday night, we went out to eat with H’s parents and sister at Mort’s Deli.  We had fantastic food and good laughs with the staff.  We’ve been there enough they’ve all taken to greeting us when we walk in and treating us like really valued customers.  We like that.

6.  We went to the ACC show in St. Paul, since Harald was working Friday and couldn’t go then.  That was our Sunday morning worship – seeing all that glorious creation!  H bought a gorgeous glass object d’art for the living room.  And I bought a pottery wine coaster and a new clipboard (made of laminated colored wood) for my crosswords.

7.  I was in the mood to make Indian food last night.  I ended up cooking Rogan Josh (a northern Indian braised lamb dish – only I made it hot with chilies) and Aloo Gobi (potatoes and cauliflower) and a fruited rice made with cashews, raisins, cinnamon, ginger, garlic and coconut milk.  We ate like kings last night and enjoyed every bit of it.  I don’t cook Indian very often – it seems like it is as labor-intensive and time-consuming as Chinese food, but the results are so worth it.  We both agreed I need to develop a repertoire of Indian dishes since we both love it so much.  After dinner, we drove to the Edina Creamery for ice cream.

8.  We are both doing much, much better.  I sensed we both felt ready to face into the week this morning.  That is good.  We haven’t had any crying jags for days, and we are both feeling more positive and upbeat and our interests seem to be renewing in the areas of what we love.  It’s all good.  We are still bumping into neighbors and others who are extending their warm hearts to us, but it doesn’t sting to talk about it anymore.  Thank God.

9.  This week is employee appreciation week at the firm.  We get to wear blue jeans on Monday and Friday.  I’d be a new man if I could wear blue jeans to work every day!