Wednesday, January 22, 2014

January's Jewel

It's becoming a tradition.  I show up early enough to catch the last Triple Berry Tart at the tea shoppe before my friends arrive to find they're gone.  All gone.....  

Don't know why there's always just one left when I get there, but you'd think my friends would catch on after a while.


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Goodbye 2013

Perhaps the most thoughtful Christmas gift I received, after an unusual and stressful year - I plan on throwing a lot of tea in those pants to see this year off and welcome 2014.  I piTea the fool who doesn't make time to slow down and enjoy a good steep.

Meilleurs voeux de bonne année à tout le monde!


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Urban Design - Garden in Fall

I've watched this particular park develop over the last six or seven years.  There were buildings on the site just as long ago, and as it was being installed and tended, the buildings razed and green turf brought in, I had my doubts about the designer's original plans for the place.  Stark tree trunks wrapped in metal, water features that seem oddly placed, new trees that would take forever to wildflowers? More paved and plotted surfaces?

This Fall I think I finally see what they were getting at.  It only begins to make sense when you see how they placed the color.  This is the park at Bloomington Central Station, before the wind blew the leaves down.  Gold borders, red sumac, all lined up in straight rows.  The place has definitely developed some character.


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Wine & Canvas : Fauxpressionism

I'm an unabashed fan of impressionism.  I've visited Giverny, seen the entire studio cycle of the Nympheas at the Orsay, and stared at a few Van Goghs up close at the MIA and other museums.  There is a humble kind of genius in their work.  Simple on the surface, but color choices that speak to a deeper understanding of contrast and perspective.

This evening, thanks to Wine & Canvas Minneapolis, I have now learned to "Van Gogh" my own skyline and fake my way to similar genius.  It's become a fun trend to take unassuming cityscapes and style them like one of the masters.  "Starry Night Minneapolis" was the project, the third I've attended with this group, but the first time I've visited their recently-opened studio location in St. Anthony.

You, too can "Van Gogh" a skyline in three easy steps.

1.  Slap on some background color - the darker blue, the better.  Sketch in some baselines.

2.  Add the basic building shapes you're working with, and order a cheese platter to nibble while you realize you've left no room for the fifth little building on the left, the IDS tower dominating the piece.  Trace some swirls in the sky and pray that you don't end up creating something that resembles fallopian tubes.

3.  Spend an hour dotting lights into the towers, over the bridge, and along a road that would normally be hidden from view by the Metrodome and the Guthrie.  Add yellow circles to the sky in broad, irreverent strokes.

And voila!  Your very own skyline to admire from a reasonable distance.  Drinks and snacks optional.  But a fun evening was had by all at Wine & Canvas studio.  If you're local and artistically inclined, it's worth the trip.


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Another Fall Pairing - Tea and Cake

It was another one of those lazy Fall weekends where the still-warm weather and turning leaves make it impossible to stay inside.  I joined my mother at our favorite local tea shoppe this morning and was reminded of why I like that place - Ceylon Hills warmed up in a mug and a great selection of cakes, including pumpkin cheesecake muffins. 

Ceylon Hills is a Sri Lankan black tea that is so sweet on its own you wouldn't dare add any sugar to it, and it's for that reason that it pairs so well with café fare.  Notes of honey.  A great start to a day of raking leaves and planting spring bulbs.  Now if it could only do something about keeping the rabbits and squirrels from eating the bulbs next spring.....


Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Waconia Winery Trifecta

Last year, I experienced Parley Lake and Sovereign Estate wineries in Waconia in one trip.  You can read about that experience here.  This year, I returned with the same group of connoisseurs, only fate led us to Schram Vineyards as the second leg of our tour this time - the third and newest kid on the Waconia circuit.

Parley Lake:  a great afternoon, despite the rain and chill.  Their Marquette (a dry red) 2012 is nice, and I came home with a bottle of their award-winning 2011.  Another favorite was the Frontenac Gris, but the Parley Vu Rose was yet again the crowd pleaser.  There was much to keep everyone busy, from kids to grands, and this time I managed to find a place on the tractor tour of the orchard with a trusty Farmall H and the Deardorff's Labrador following alongside.  Lamas and goats, pumpkins you can bring home, and of course acres of apples you can pick yourself.  A fun time.


Trees turning behind the Parley vineyard
The full tractor tour - vineyard on the hill top right
Schram Vineyards:  a chilly, but interesting late afternoon cap.  They were holding their "Western Days" theme this weekend and were busy finishing up service with another large group as our group arrived.  A popular spot!  The tasting pavilion is outdoors, with a stunning view of yet another gorgeous lake where trees were turning.  The only hitch was the cold wind - but there were outdoor burners to warm us up and seven wines to choose from for sampling. 
This is the first season where they've welcomed the public, and it makes the third winery within the Waconia area.  They had a Marquette that was nice, and the blush/rose was probably my favorite of the offerings.  Looking forward to seeing what they come up with in 2014!
The Duke knows where you need to go
Schram Vineyard - sunset underneath rain clouds