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Friday, December 28, 2012


The Christmas Holiday is over but the wonderful memories remain.  The end of the year Holidays are my favorite time of year, and ever since I was child I’ve looked forward to the wonderful gatherings and of course the fabulous food.

For the past several years I have been hosting Christmas dinner for friends, and the gatherings are always a delightful mix of traditions old and new.  A couple traditions that have carried over from my childhood include my mother’s china and my grandmother cranberry recipe (I think there would be a minor revolt if the cranberries didn’t make an appearance).  

My Mother's china is over 65 years old and is a staple at most of my Holiday dinners.

Every year before the Holidays I bring out my mother’s china in anticipation of our Holiday dinner.  My mother passed away in 2000 so this is always a wonderful way to remember her at this festive time of year.  

The dessert table awaits the many tasty treats.

The dinner table awaits the guests.

Christmas for me has always been a very special time of year surrounded by good friends and loved ones, and nowhere is that seen more vividly than during Christmas dinner.  This year was no exception.  Once again my table was filled with the special people in my life, and I was reminded how blest I truly am.

Dinner is served!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


Wishing you a "Mary" Christmas and the happiest of Holidays!!!

Monday, December 24, 2012


This year my Pre-Christmas Holiday activities began and ended with music.  As I posted earlier, the time began with a wonderful Advent Vespers concert, and now it has ended with a concert by my favorite music group in the Twin Cities - The Rose Ensemble.

Shortly after moving to Minneapolis I discovered The Rose Ensemble and have been a huge fan ever since.  My first experience of them was at their Candlelight Concert held each year at the Basilica of St. Mary.  That one concert was all it took.  I was hooked.

Under the direction of Jordan Sramek, the group has gained international acclaim and has just returned from an international chorale competition in Tolosa, Spain, where they took first prize in both the sacred and secular music categories.  It should be noted that only 16 chorale groups world wide were invited to attend this competition, and The Rose Ensemble was the only group invited from the United States.

The Rose Ensemble

This year’s Holiday concert featured festive music from Colonial Latin America which was a melting pot in terms of the diversity of musical influences.  The concert brought the sounds of local street dances together with African and Indigenous rhythms, while also adding a bit of the sacred pageantry of the Franciscan missions.  The result was glorious, and its musical strands echoed throughout the Basilica.  It was an incredible evening.

The Rose Ensemble's Holiday Concert was held at the Basilica of St. Mary.  This was the first church elevated to Basilica status in the United States.

If you’ve been to The Rose Ensemble’s performances in the past, you will understand my love for this group.  If You haven’t, as of yet, had the opportunity to hear them, I highly recommend that you check them out - hint: their next Candlelight Concert is coming up in February (more information is available on their website

For me, this weekend’s performance by The Rose Ensemble was the perfect way to enter into the Christmas weekend.  

Sunday, December 23, 2012


Red and green are the traditional Christmas colors and when it comes to dressing for the Holidays I like to incorporate them into my attire.   I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was planning my outfit for Christmas and posted a photo of the traditional Christmas reds that will make up my ensemble - a red cashmere sweater vest and a silk Royal Stewart tartan tie.

Now I’d like to focus on the green part of my Christmas outfit.  Pictured here on the right is a great pair of green wide wale corduroy pants from Lands’ End.  The color, fir green, is the perfect shade of green for the Holidays, and the all cotton material is soft and ensures they will be comfortable to wear throughout the day. These pants, along with the red sweater vest and tartan tie, will be matched with a white cotton buttoned down shirt (pictured on the left).

To complete the look I’ll wear a pair of cordovan cap toe shoes and a vintage pair of red Christmas socks with holiday penguins.  The socks add a touch of subtle whimsy and fun to the look.

Now that all of the pieces have been assemble, my outfit is complete and I’m all ready for Christmas - let the party begin!  I hope that all of you have the happiest of Holidays, and a wonderful new year.

Saturday, December 22, 2012


One of my favorite places to visit here in the city is the Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA).  I love to spend an afternoon wandering through its galleries.  For me it’s the perfect way to spend the day, and I can lose myself for hours there.  

Each month, on the third Thursday, MIA sponsors a program called, appropriately enough, Third Thursday.  On this evening, there is a special themed program – usually highlighting an exhibit they are currently featuring.

This week a friend and I attended the Third Thursday evening and it was wonderful.  The theme for the evening centered around a Tudor banquet exhibit they are showcasing.  As part of the evening's activities, a number of local restaurants prepared authentic Tudor desserts that we were invited to sample.  The desserts were amazing and gave me new insights into some of the food Henry VIII and Elizabeth I might have enjoyed.

In addition to the Tudor attractions and activities, the Museum’s visiting exhibit, China’s Terracotta Warriors: The First Emperor’s Legacy was open to guests.  I had been wanting to see this exhibit for awhile, and Third Thursday provided the perfect opportunity for me to do so.  If you haven’t seen this exhibit I highly recommend it.  It’s just incredible!

The evening ended with musical entertainment from L’Assassins and a visit to the Museum gift shop.  All in all an awesome evening of art, food, and music spent in the company of a good friend.  

MIA is a real treasure here in Minneapolis and I encourage everyone to take advantage of it and visit as often as you can.  There is truly something for everyone and you won’t be disappointed.

Friday, December 21, 2012


The Holidays should be about Fun.  Too often they are filled with stress as we hurry from store to store, frantic to buy last minute gifts.  Our televisions, radios, the internet, and all forms of technology bombard us with neon signs to buy this widget or that gadget.  Most of these ads morph into a blur for me that I am able to dismiss, but once in a while there is ad that is so cute, and so fresh I pay attention and sometimes just enjoy it for it's cuteness.  I absolutely LOVE this ad for Brooks Brothers.  It's, fresh, innovative, clever, and just plain fun.  Well done Brooks Brothers!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Another of my favorite things to do in Minneapolis during the Holidays is to visit the American Swedish Institute, located in the former Turnblad home.  This beautiful Chateau styled mansion is a landmark in the city and at Christmas it becomes even more spectacular.

Swan J. Turnblad

The home was built by Swan J. Turnblad, an American newspaper publisher.  Turnblad was born in 1860 in Sweden to a farming family, who, after several years of bad harvests, decided to immigrate to America when he was eight years old. They settled in an area of Minnesota where there was already a sizable Swedish community.

The two-story fireplace and grand staircase in the entrance hall

About ten years later Turnblad moved to Minneapolis and began working as a typesetter for several Swedish-language newspapers.  It was in Minneapolis that he met his wife Christina Nilsson, and the couple married in 1883.

Eventually, Turnblad would come to work for Svenska Amerikanska Posten and after ten years became the sole owner of the newspaper.  He was always interested in the latest technology and was the first publisher of a Swedish language newspaper to use a Linotype machine.  Under Turnblad's management circulation increased steadily, and the success of Svenska Amerikanska Posten made Turnblad a wealthy man. His success in publishing together with his other investments eventually made him a millionaire.

In 1903 he decided that he needed a new home that would reflect his wealth and status, and so he commissioned the architects Christopher Boehme and Victor Cordella to design their French Chateauesque mansion.

Local youth entertaining us with Nordic dancing

The Turnblads moved into the home in 1908 and lived there until 1929 when, after Christina’s death, it was donated as a museum.  That same year Turnblad created the American Swedish Institute, which was housed in his former residence, as a place to preserve Swedish customs and culture.

A few of the 11 imported Swedish tile stoves (one of the largest collections in the country)

Each year at the Holidays, the rooms of the mansion are spectacularly decorated as they celebrate “A Nordic Christmas”, which represents how Christmas would be celebrated in the various Scandinavian countries.  This “must see” Holiday event is a truly remarkable and unique experience that highlights the grandeur of this wonderful home.

Monday, December 17, 2012


A while back I mentioned the Advent Vespers concert that I attend every year, but that is just the first of several holiday events and outings that have become a tradition for me. A week ago friends and I attended another of the Holiday must see events here in Minneapolis, the Holidazzle Parade!  For some the parade might tend to over commercialize the Christmas Season, or even seem tacky, but I have to admit all of those thoughts disappear when I see the wide-eyed looks of wonder on the faces of the children in the crowd as they watch the lighted floats go by.

A beautiful display of lights!

The circus is in town!

The Nutcracker was sweet!

The Holidazzle Parade began twenty years ago and is a magical way to light up the night in the downtown.  Each year over 300,000 people are treated to wonderful floats representing, nursery rhymes, children’s books, holiday classics, and, of course, Santa himself.  Not only are the floats lit up with hundreds of light, the costumes worn by the riders on the floats, and others walking in the parade are also lighted as well.  The street lights on the downtown mall are turned off, so that the dimmed environment highlights the (Holi)dazzling brilliance of the floats.

Pinocchio was there.

And, of course, the evening ended with a visit from Santa himself!

Is the display too commercial or tacky?  Maybe to some.  But to others, especially the children (of all ages), it is nothing short of magical!  And, really, that’s what this season is truly all about.  I hope this year you too will experience the wide-eyed magic of the Holiday Season.

A magical evening of fun, friends . . .

. . . and of course, food.

Friday, December 14, 2012


I was supposed to go to a Holiday political fundraiser tonight but the event was postponed because of the school shooting in Connecticut.  I was disappointed as I had been looking forward to it, and had planned the perfect outfit.  Fortunately the outfit was not wasted.  Since we weren’t able to go to the fundraiser, my friends and I opted to head out to dinner instead.  It turned out to be a delightful evening filled with amazing conversation.  Sometimes when plans change, the most wonderful things happen!

Navy wool blazer, gray flannel pants, cordovan cap toe shoes, red socks from Ralph Lauren Polo, and a vintage cotton Holiday tie from the Amana Colonies in Iowa.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Sunday, December 9, 2012


Well the weather outside is frightful!  Actually, it’s really not all that frightful but it has become a little bit dangerous.  Snow began to fall overnight and we are now well into our first big snowfall of the winter here in Minneapolis.  The city is certainly no stranger to snow, but so far this year we’ve had very little, and none that has stuck around.  That has changed in a big way now.

Last night snow began to lightly fall - the kind that stays steady over long periods of time and adds up.  Around that same time, a 24-hour snow advisory went into effect (it ends at midnight tonight).  The snow that started to fall last night is still falling this evening and shows no sign of stopping.  Rumor has it, that we could end up with around 12 inches of snow in some parts of the metro area when this is done.  A snow emergency has already been called, and winter parking restrictions are now in place.

I had to work this morning, but have been inside at home all afternoon.  Although it makes travel difficult, I have to admit there’s something wonderful, almost magical, about the freshly fallen snow.  The snow covered tress and ground have an almost Courier and Ives beauty to them, and children - young and old - have been busy making snowmen and snow angels.   

I’m fortunate in that I don’t have to go anywhere for the rest of the day, so for tonight, I can sit back, sip hot chocolate, and enjoy the beauty.