good to eat {the chocolate moose}

bspoke_6-23-10_1

bspoke_6-23-10_2

bspoke_6-23-10_3

bspoke_6-23-10_4

bspoke_6-23-10_5

In my small hometown in northern Minnesota, there is a restaurant called the Chocolate Moose. We like to simply refer to it as “the Moose”. It sits on a busy corner in downtown, and is housed in a cozy log building. I worked at the Moose for two summers during college. The tips were good, but admittedly, I didn’t really like the job. I attribute this mostly to the fact that I don’t have a bubbly, outgoing personality, and I had a low tolerance for the drama that comes along with working in the food service industry. On the bright side, however, during my time there I really got to know the menu and had the opportunity to sample just about everything. Their food is good. Really good. Pies are baked in house each day, as well as giant, delicious muffins, danishes, cinnamon rolls and artisan breads. Soup is made from scratch each day, and their clam chowder, served on Fridays, is to die for. Fresh fish is a frequent evening special, and their pizzas are top-notch. The ingredients for all their features are the freshest around, and the recipes are all truly gourmet.

Eating at the Moose is a summer tradition. Since the restaurant is only open seasonally, we make sure to hit it up as often as possible during the short summer months. There is something so comforting about slipping into one of the sturdy log booths, and ordering up one of my favorite dishes. I love bumping into old friends there, and watching the tourist steam into town just outside the windows. Over the weekend, my parents and I made sure to stop in at the Moose for breakfast. I had the Moose Melt; hash browns stuffed with veggies and topped with melted cheese and tomatoes. So delicious!

A meal at the Moose means I can check part of one item off the good old bucket list of summer.

eat at fletcher’s, the chocolate moose, angry trout cafe, coho cafe and fred & fuzzy’s

Do you have any favorite places to eat that are only open seasonally? Do tell.

curious thoughts {worries}

bspoke_6-22-10_2

bspoke_6-22-10_10

I took this picture on Saturday while we were fishing. This sweet little bird had made a home in the top of one of the many tree stumps emerging from the lake. She watched warily as we approached, but showed no fear as I leaned in for a few pictures. She was tiny, about the size of my fist, and her nest was beautifully crafted with twigs and berries and bits of fluff. Watching this little creature, so full of calm in the midst of what could seem like a threatening situation to a little birdy made me think of a verse in the Bible.

For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to to his life?
Matthew 6:25

Some days, I find myself so caught up in those worries, the little ones. I fret about our finances, or stress about being in style. But a single glance at a bird of the air, reminds me that life really is about more than food and clothing. At the end of the day, my heavenly Father has cared for me and blessed me beyond compare. I have a warm, lovely home and food on the table and so much more. Worrying cannot add to my life, but instead only detracts from the blessings that are right in front of me. Next time you see a bird, remember, your heavenly Father cares for all the birds of the air, you are worth so much more to Him!

pieces of life {traditions worth keeping}

bspoke_6-21-10_1

bspoke_6-21-10_2

This weekend, I disappeared for a few days, leaving behind my laptop, to-do list and any sort of schedule. I headed north, to my hometown to see my dad. Father’s Day weekend means we have a standing date with a boat, a couple fishing poles, and each other. I slipped into town on Thursday evening, to streets full of tourists embarking on and arriving from canoe trips into the Boundary Waters. I enjoyed dinner at a new restaurant with my parents, catching up on local news and listening to the rain outside. That night I slept in my childhood bedroom (now a den), with the windows open, listening to the breeze swish through the trees and the steady splash of the waterfall in our backyard pond. I awoke early on Friday, as is customary when I’m up north. Time is precious there, and can’t be wasted.

bspoke_6-21-10_9

Our weekend was full, to the brim. We worked together, ate at our favorite local hotspots, and of course, fished. This year, my mom joined our fishing excursion, and what an adventure we had together! On Friday, the winds were strong, and whitecaps dotted the lakes. We decided to fish anyways. The waves were easily 3 feet high in the middle of the lake, and as we crossed through the choppy water in our sport canoe, water sprayed over the edges. It was rough and wild, and we were soaked. We worked our way up the lake, ducking into sheltered bays along the way and casting  a line here and there. Fighting the wind was a constant battle though, and we decided to pull out of this lake, and try another, smaller and hopefully quieter lake.

The second lake we tried was quieter, but still windy. We circled the edge, casting and reeling, looking for hits from any bass that might be on their beds spawning. A full circle around the small lake, and no bites, so we pulled the boat to head to our favorite little secret fishing hole, sure we’d have success. This lake requires portaging the boat, but as we approached we were greeted by a calm lake, making the trek well worth it. It was prime time for fishing by this point, and we could already taste the fish fry. We put on our favorite bait, the famous rubber worm, and headed for the best spot on the lake. Casting and reeling over and over, we were teased with a few tentative hits. But, after a half hour with no fish, we shook our heads in frustration, and headed for the shore. Admittedly, we aren’t very patient fishermen, but when the fish aren’t biting, they just aren’t biting! We called it a night, with no fish on the stringer, but plenty of good memories from our three-lake-fishing-day.

bspoke_6-21-10_6

bspoke_6-21-10_5

bspoke_6-21-10_3

bspoke_6-21-10_4

The next day was rainy and overcast. We made plans for an evening of fishing, anticipating that the change in weather would result in a better catch. The next lake we went to is an old mining pit that has long since filled with water and become a local fishing hole. It is abundant with lake trout, bluegills and bass. We headed for the northeast end of the lake, ready to catch some fish. I switched out my rubber worm for live bait. Leeches might be slimy and gross, but the fish love ‘em! The water in this lake is crystal clear, and on this calm night, we could see to the bottom. Schools of small fish darted under the boat, two turtles played just below the surface, and a forest of submerged trees eerily reached skyward from the depths of the lake. It was a pristine evening. And the fish were biting. I snagged a bluegill right away, and then the bass started hitting. In northern Minnesota, the walleye is king. Most folks prefer the taste and the style of walleye fishing better, but my dad and I love to bass fish. Bass hit hard, and are great fighters. You have to work to catch them, casting and reeling and wooing them off their beds, but that’s half the fun. On this particular night, we all had a chance to reel in a few nice fish, making the evening a success. We released all the fish instead of keeping them for dinner, since darkness was rapidly approaching, and a quick meal sounded more appealing than filleting and preparing our catch.

bspoke_6-21-10_7

bspoke_6-21-10_8

The memories of our adventures this weekend still linger in my mind today, as I find myself adjusting back to the normal routine. These vivid days of summer go by far too quickly, but even more so, the days of our lives. I remember so clearly childhood fishing trips with my dad, when I would crawl in the back of his float plane, and he would fly us to a remote lake where we would fish right from the plane. I was a little girl then, no more than 4 years old, but it seems like yesterday. My dad and I have always been close. He’s always been my hero, and mentor and one of my very best friends. Fishing together is a tradition, one that means so much more than just spending a few hours on the lake together. For a short time I am a little girl again, and my dad is my world as we skip across the lake and revel in the thrill of our adventure. Happy Father’s Day dad, I love you.

go fishing with dad and catch dinner

bspoke_6-21-10_10

pieces of life {eating local and such}

bspoke_6-16-10_1

eat and shop locally, more than i do now

Yesterday I showed you my new camera and a few pictures I’d taken so far. One of those pictures featured some lovely, fresh strawberries, and another had a bowl full of plump blueberries. Let’s talk about those berries for a second, k? I bought them at the local farmers market this past Saturday. I’ve been going weekly now, for a few weeks, picking up fresh fruits and veggies, and homemade bread. Walking the short distance to the market is a perfect way to start my weekend, but the best part is the bounty of fresh, local foods that I get to stock the fridge and cabinets with. One of the items on my Bucket List of Summer is to do more shopping and eating locally, and I think I am off to a great start. Let me explain a bit more.

Living in and around the Minneapolis area for the past 7 or so years has taught me one thing. You will NEVER run out of options when it comes to dining and shopping. Going to Target generally requires an extensive decision-making process. Should we go to Target A, B, C or D? Hhmm… they are all the same distance away, but Target’s B and C doesn’t have as many groceries. I also need to pick up something from Home Depot, which eliminates Target D, because only Target’s A and C have Home Depot nearby. You get the idea. I suppose since I grew up in a tiny town near the Canadian border, I am used to having limited options when it comes to dining and shopping. There are two grocery stores, a handful of restaurants, and a Pamida for all your necessities. While these limits can sometimes leave one feeling very isolated, they really aren’t all that bad. There is something reassuring about shopping at a locally-owned hardware or grocery store where the employees take the time to really help you, and get to know you in the process. You also waste less time running to and fro, shopping at the cheapest big-box stores and eating at the newest restaurants (that just so happen to be clear across the city). What I’m getting at here is that shopping locally is actually quite convenient. But it’s more than that.

A couple months ago, I joined a community organization in our town, and I’ve been getting to know allot of the business owners. Shopping locally means that I am putting my dollars in the pockets of my neighbors, and that feels really good. This year, instead of purchasing all my flowers from a big, discount garden center, I drove a couple blocks down from the cottage to a small, family owned shop. It’s a third-generation business that was started in the 1970′s, and today employs more than 20 full time employees. They sell everything from pets to picture frames, and have a great selection of flowers, trees and shrubs. Buying my plants there has meant that I get really personal service, and the owner actually takes the time to load up my flowers, dirt and fertilizer in my car, not to mention gives me a discount on my total purchase. It’s those little things that really make shopping locally a treat. For the past month, I’ve been making a very concious effort to buy as much as I can from the farmer’s market, local grocer and hardware shop, along with odds and ends from the variety store. It’s making a difference in the amount of time I spend traveling, but more importantly, supporting the local economy is making me feel more connected within my community, something worth allot more than a few bucks I might save by going to a discount retailer.

pieces of life {more bucket list progress}

Hello my dears. It’s time to bust out The Bucket List of Summer again and cross off a few more items. Let’s have a refresher on that list, shall we?

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

THE BUCKET LIST OF SUMMER (2010)

spend a night on the boat, under the stars | bike to ben & jerry’s for 7-layer-bar ice cream | go fishing with dad and catch dinner | run barefoot through the sprinklers | skip stones on a beach on the north shore | watch the sunrise | watch the sun set | teach emmy to jump off the dock like a proper lab should | buy a new camera and learn to take better photos | eat and shop locally, more than i do now | take a boat tour of lake minnetonka | go to an outdoor concert | have dinner on the patio, as often as possible | hear mat kearney live at the varsity | eat blueberry pie at the blueberry festival | celebrate my mom’s birthday with a bang | go to a festival or art fair in the city | spend at least a full week up north | celebrate four years of marriage to my best friend with a trip, somewhere | eat something new and unexpected at the state fair | have a garage sale and rid my home of unnecessary junk | make fresh squeezed lemonade | pick strawberries and raspberries and bake a pie | hang a swing from one of the trees in the yard | go for a long hike in a beautiful place | make a meal entirely from my vegetable garden | wear out another pair of teva flip flops | drive with the windows down, singing at the top of my lungs | do a cannon-ball off the boat, or ten | climb a tree | eat at fletcher’s, the chocolate moose, angry trout cafe, coho cafe and fred & fuzzy’s | pick cherries in door county and dip my toes in lake michigan | shop niccolet mall and eat at a sidewalk cafe | watch the fireworks and play with sparklers | swim in lakes, as often as possible | give, love, sing, grow, do, feel, see, live. more. even more. as much as i possibly can | go to a baseball game at the new twins stadium | wear my cowboy boots to a real rodeo

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Some of the activities on this list are more a process than something to be checked off in a day (i.e. wearing out my current pair of Teva flip-flops), so I’m careful not to go too gung-ho with the list-ticking-off. I make sure that I am satisfied with the experience behind each list item before I draw a line through it. Because really, that is the point of this all, to live summer to the fullest, not just check off arbitrary items on a list.

Anyways, getting to the point. Over the weekend, I crossed three activities off the list. Two of those three fit more in the “process category”, and because I have a bit more to say about them, I’m going to detail two activities in this post, and follow-up with the next one in another post tomorrow. Confused yet? Ok, let’s go.

bspoke_6-15-10_1

buy a new camera and learn to take better photos

This has been long in coming. Oooh boy, has it. My original camera, while trusty and durable, has been through the mill. Hubby bought it for me for Christmas almost four years ago, and I have dropped it numerous times, frozen pixels while shooting outside in subzero temps, gotten it more than a little damp on more than one occasion and just generally beat the tar out of it. It has been well-loved and used, however all the wear and tear was taking a toll. I could tell the quality of my pictures were suffering. While I didn’t want to blow a bunch of money on something super fancy, I knew it was time to invest in a camera that could perform at a higher level. Meet my new baby (which I will baby much more than I did my previous pocket-sized point and shoot). It is a Canon EOS Digital Rebel T1i. I currently am using the kit lens, but have plans to purchase a 50mm 1.4 lens soon.

Buying the camera was the easy part. Learning to take better photos, on the other hand, has been a process. I’ve been reading the PW photography tutorials, pestering my brother-in-law (who is in photography school), and just spending lots and lots of time experimenting. While I still have a long ways to go, and could really use a better lens, I’m starting to capture the type of images that I want to. Here are a few from the past several days.

bspoke_6-15-10_2

bspoke_6-15-10_3

bspoke_6-15-10_4

I’ve started a flickr account and plan to add more of my favorites as I go. You can see it here if you’d like. I don’t consider myself a photographer, by any means, just someone who enjoys taking pictures.

bspoke_6-15-10_5

go to a festival or art fair in the city

On Sunday, Hubby and I set out to explore a local art fair in a small community on the shores of the lake near our house. It gave me another great opportunity to get some practice with the new camera, not to mention check off another item on the list. Granted, this art fair wasn’t in the city, per se, but close enough. Again, it’s about the experience, not so much perfectly attaining each activity to the letter.

bspoke_6-15-10_7

bspoke_6-15-10_8

bspoke_6-15-10_6

We all know art fairs are just as much (if not more?) about the food than the goods, right? Well we sampled some amazing coconut almond bliss ice cream, along with the traditional kettle corn while wandering aisles of unique, if not a bit goofy, sculptures, paintings, photos, and crafts. A perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon, if you ask me…

older posts
newer posts