Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Recap


When doing employee evaluations, there is a tendency to evaluate based on one trait, either positive or negative rather than looking objectively at multiple performance areas.   This is called the “ horns or halo” bias and it’s important to be aware of it when doing evaluations.

As I sit down to review 2010,  I’m especially aware of this bias because the last 24 hours or so have been less than great. 

There is a crazy blizzard raging outside, the roads are closed and my husband couldn’t make it home for the long weekend.   I’ve spent many hours tackling a drift in my driveway that is over my head – and I’m 5’6”.   Round two of the blizzard is starting and those hours of work are being blown in by snow.  My dishwasher flooded my kitchen and dripped down into the basement through the light fixtures.   I’ve had to shut off the water in the kitchen because the water just will not stop running.   I need a plumber.

But these last few hours of 2010 do not put horns on the year.  This year has really been awesome.  One of the best years ever.   Really.  In so many ways this year feels like a reward and I know how blessed I am.   

Happy New Year!  May your 2011 be blessed.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Skill

I recently acquired a new skill.

DSC_0554Impressive! Right?

It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. DSC_0569In fact,  I thought it was kind of fun.DSC_0560   I’m going to get a lot more practice this weekend!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas 2010

I wasn’t ready for Christmas this year.  

I got the tree decorated early.   We have a pre-lit tree with white lights but some of the lights wouldn’t  light this year so I added strings of multicolored lights.    I thought it was one of our prettiest trees ever.  


All of the ornaments on our tree have been collected over the years.  My Grandma made me this sled ornament when I was growing up.  It’s made with popsicle sticks. 


The shopping, baking and Christmas cards left undone gave me stress.

Even though I wasn’t ready for it, Christmas came.


DSC_0635 DSC_0636 







I didn’t get some things done but it was alright.

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It was good.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010


A couple of weeks ago I spent a week in Seattle.


The city was beautiful; the most beautiful thing I saw was not the city.   

This was the most beautiful thing:


My firstborn, my favorite son,  my heart walking around on long,  skinny, white legs; blonde stubbly face with a  gray stocking cap constantly covering his head.   I  have missed him so for the last ten months.

He’s grown up in the last ten months.  It felt like I was spending time with a really great friend rather than a boy who needed to be mothered.  


It was another one of those things in my life  that made me happy and sad at the same time.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Recovered Kitchen Chairs

I have never liked the  fabric on my kitchen chairs so I decided to change it.

Recovering these seats was incredibly easy, fast, and inexpensive.

My chair before:


I removed the seat.  It was held in place by screws so I just had to loosen the screws and it popped off.


Once the seat was off,  I put the new fabric right on top of the old since the old fabric wasn’t dirty or in terrible shape.  It was just blah.


I simply stapled it on, pulling it tight.


The best tool for this is an electric staple gun.   I heart mine. 


I am not particularly neat, on the bottom.  I just staple, staple, staple.   Puckers on the bottom don’t matter like they do on the top.


When the seat was covered, I screwed it back on to the chair.

DSC_0317 - Copy

Wa-La!    Completely different look.

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This project cost about six dollars for fabric for all four chairs  and  took less than two hours.   

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I didn’t mention I was doing this but my husband noticed the change right away when he came home and thought they looked great. 

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Das Wurst Haus

Last Saturday,  for a few hours,   I felt like I’d stepped back in time.

In the little town of Lanesboro, MN, the church bells chime on the  hour, bicyclists ride the Root River trail  and stroll downtown,  Amish ladies sell items on tables set up beside their buggies.


And when you walk into Das Wurst Haus for lunch, you are greeted by a handshake and a “How you doing?  Nice to see you”  from Arv. 

You’ll wonder if he’s mistaken you for someone he knows?   Do you know this man wearing striped overalls?   And then you hear him greet everyone who walks in like an old friend.


Arv takes your order for a Ruben or a Rachel or a Bratwurst  with sauerkraut and maybe a side of German Potato Salad.     If you want a beer, he’ll turn around fill a mug from the tap.   There is no choice of brand,  it is just beer.  There is also a tap for root beer.     Arv might call back to the kitchen to his wife to bring out more of the spicy homemade mustard.


As he takes orders, he’ll apologize that he’s not very fast but explain that he does make up for it by being good looking.  

When there is no line waiting to order lunch,  he’ll walk the floor and ask, “How’s everything here, guys?”

You’ll eat your delicious lunch and wish you really did know Arv or maybe that he was your grandpa.


And after Arv has made his rounds and he is certain that everyone is taken care of and doesn’t need anything more .

Then Arv will pick up his accordion and play polka music.



And when you leave and Arv waves goodbye,  you know that if you ever come back to this little town, you will come back for lunch at Das Wurst Haus.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Got Milkweed?

The Monarch butterflies have landed in my yard.

DSC_5213 (There are four butterflies in this picture.  Do you see them all?)


The Monarchs sometimes stop at the Purple Coneflower but what the really love is the Milkweed.


The Milkweed plant is a a favorite of the Monarch.    I planted it so they would come to visit my garden.    


This milkweed is like a magnet for them.  I saw seven Monarchs sitting  on this plant at one time.


Monarchs are travelers.   They migrate in the fall to spend the winter in Mexico.  


Milkweed is easy to grow.   If you want to attract Monarchs to your garden, plant some.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Water Ball

My brother-in-law, Ben, is running for Sheriff.    Some of the family got together a few weeks ago to help him campaign.   We were in a parade in the small town where Ben, my sister Tonja, and their five darling daughters and one spunky son live.


It was a busy weekend for Ben, he spent most of it at his booth at the fair.

It was up to the rest of us to represent him at the events in his hometown.   The festivities in Ben and Tonja’s  hometown raises money for the volunteer fire department. 

I’ve previously written about the cow plop, which we attended again this year.     However,  this year, I’ve got something much more exciting to report about than a cow pooping.    This year, we formed a team for the water ball competition.   We were the only non-fire-department team.  Ben’s volunteered for the ambulance for fifteen years and we participated with gear borrowed from the Rescue squad.


If you’ve not seen a water ball competition before, it’s  kind of like tug-of-war, except you aren't pulling a rope with your hands, but instead pushing a ball with water.


Teams of firefighters (or in our case, three clueless sisters and three men with muscles) spray a fire hose at the ball to try to get it to slide along the wire to the opposing team’s side. 


One member of the team stands on the side lines and gives directions on where to aim the hose;  back back back , up up up, down down down.    


The team member in front gets to control the hose.


The one in the back keeps kinks out of the hose so the water pressure stays high.


The rest help control the hose. 


We all got our turn being in front.    When the referee says go, it’s time to run forward as quickly as possible to get the water on the ball,


Out of the ten teams,  I only saw one other team that had a female member.    We were definitely a minority, and the underdogs.


We just kept going.  


At one point, a competing team quickly got the ball over to our side and then turned their hose straight on our team.


I happened to be in front for the spraying.   I couldn’t see anything.  I couldn’t  stop laughing.   I couldn’t remember how to turn of the hose.

There are no pictures of this because everyone on the sidelines was running for cover as I sprayed the spectators in front of the bar.     I had no idea I did that until someone told me later.


  It’s really hard to see with a fire hose spraying you.  


We were all soaked through from our head to our shoes.    


We were doing quite well.   The crowd was cheering for us.  


Before we started, we were doing this mostly for entertainment.


Once we picked up that fire hose though, we took this competition pretty seriously.

DSC_5107 (2)  

I guess it paid off.  We came in third place in the competition!