Monday, November 17, 2014

Ax Man

Ax-man Surplus Store is a favorite of mine. It's full of all sorts of random bits, trinkets, boxes, tape, vases, mannequin heads and legs and awesome hand-scripted signing. Hello, designer's dream. In college for a 3D sculpture class we had to spend under $20 and had less than an hour to shop the store for sculpture inspiration/parts. It was just like Project Runway only before "two-screen watching", instagram and twitter. Back then, we took photos of our project with a camera that had film in it. GASP! 

"A second home for collectors, crafters, artists, and those who love to tinker; Ax-Man Surplus has been a fixture in the Twin Cities for over 50 years. Can't find that thing-a-ma-jig? Try Ax-man. Need a new whatz-it? Try Ax-Man. Fresh out of doo-dads? Try Ax-Man.

Home to pretty much everything you never knew you couldn't live without, the friendly staff at each of our 4 metro locations is always happy to help you find almost-exactly what you were looking for. Whether it's a single googley-eye or 1,500 12-volt pager-motors, we're a step in the right direction.

Remember: Ax-man ALWAYS offers you 13 of any one thing for the price of 12, we call it the Ax-Man Dozen, you'll call it one heck of a deal!

Ax-Man is also in the business of buying and selling your precious crap! Got to much of something? Maybe we'd like to take it off your hands, check out our Your Surplus and Whole-Sale pages for more info"

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Swimming adventures

My kids are all competitive swimmers which means we are poolside 6-7 days a week. If it's a swim meet weekend, we are at a pool usually before 7am. I am cool with it, as long as they love it. However, after an entire day of yelling (not me- the kids can't hear us), heat, sweat, walking tacos and too many kids I need a sensory deprivation tank. I also find it uber entertaining when I see swim briefs like the one below. Agh! I wish one of my boys would wear that pair. Too funny.

from here

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Minnesota RollerGirls

I took my Daughter and two of her friends to the Minnesota RollerGirls second bout, Silence of the James. I think this may become a "thing" for us. I love seeing women out there having fun, taking control, kicking ass and doing what they love. I will always support that.

My trio of watchers were really digging the fine moves of Second Hand Smoke, Fannie Tanner and Terror Swift. If you have not gone yet, get going! Next bout is Dec 13 2014 at Roy Wilkens! Tickets start at $13 and kids 9 and under get in free with the purchase of an adult ticket.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Show me don't tell me

Never place your key to happiness in someone Else's pocket. Look at the dapper dudes in the fancy suits above. The young man on the far left, is my Grandfather Stanley, in the middle is his brother Andy and on the right is his other brother Alan. The all look so different and had such unique personalities. They each had a very adventurous life and even better stories.
Classic saying that my Grandpa Stanley always told us "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime". I am pretty certain my mom chopped her hair mega short not long after this summer photo. Look at my sister with her tiny sandals and knock-knees! I loved that boat, burnt orange faux leather seats.
This photo was taken May 22, 1943 at Fort Oglethorpe, GA. According to (yes, I am aware that information is not stellar on wikipedia but it is a place to start). My Great-Aunt Grace is in the third row, second from the right. I am still gathering her story. I know it is a good one and want to be sure I have it right before I share it.

"During World War I and World War II, the area served as a war-time induction and processing center, and also housed German prisoners of war. Fort Oglethorpe was a major training center for the Women's Army Corps during World War II. The post was declared surplus in 1947 and sold to civilians, forming the nucleus for a city that was incorporated in 1949."
Deep down you already know the truth. Before my sister was born, my parents went on one last trip to Jamaica. I guess this trip should have been a hint of the adventurous spirit within my mother. Pregnant and with a toddler she still wanted to fly and see things. I would have wanted a nap.
Yep, crazy curly hair and a dress... it's me. You don't want to know how many dresses I have as an adult.
Here is a family photo with my Great Grandparents, Sam and Stella Chong. They married on May 9th, 1904. They had five boys, only three lived into adulthood. Stanley (my grandfather) is on the far left, Andy is sitting on the steps with his wife Clara in the background with Alan behind her. They are all so fancy in their suits and coats.

In Chinese families, the eldest male has a strong voice. He may not even use it. In the case of my Grandfather Stanley, he rarely yelled but instead gave you a very serious blank look that was often more terrifying. I wasn't afraid of him but I knew that I should listen to him. As kids, my sister and I went to countless Chinese family dinners and banquets that would last for hours upon hours. We were treated to Shirley Temple drinks with maraschino cherries and tiny triangle shaped orange slices but we were also expected to sit nicely at the table without kicking off our shoes or fussing about having to eat chicken feet or fish cheeks (considered a delicacy).

In some ways, there is no way to truly please a Chinese elder. They always expect more from you. As children you are trained to constantly do better, so when you see a raised eyebrow, you fret. It's a tricky relationship of expectation.
Sister, sister why so serious? I find this photo funny. Typically I had the crazy hair and my sister the silly smile. Surprise, switch-a-roo! I spent most of my summers and long weekends at Lake Sarah in Minnesota. I loved those orange life-jackets because it meant we were going on the burnt-orange boat soon! 

Do you wonder where this all started from? click here

Snow Rookie

So Minnesota had a Winter Wall descend upon us courtesy of Typhoon Nuri. The snowfall totals are stacking up with 16.5″ reported at Cambridge and St. Augusta. I am happy to share that Minneapolis only received around 3" so far. I was a Winter Rookie today, forgetting my snow scraper in the garage at home. During my swift departure in the morning, I managed to only snag a pair of basic mittens from my daughter's stash.

Back in the 1990s, in the high school parking lot we would scrap ice and snow off our cars with cassette tape cases and school IDs. Today I dug around for an empty lunch container lid. I got home safe, that is all that matters. Statewide 5am-4pm Minnesota troopers responded to 393 crashes and 559 vehicles off road/spin-outs.

Travel safe folks, tomorrow is round two.

Monday, November 3, 2014

show me, don't tell me

If you ever find yourself in the wrong story, leave. Plain and simple.
All of the what ifs and should haves will eat your brains. Witches and brains make for a good Halloween theme of advice.
Surround yourself with others who make you hungry for life and touch your heart and nourish your soul. My mom is in the middle, so adorable. I love the capture of my Grandma Marvel laughing. This photo is a good reminder to surround yourself with others who bring out the best in you.
My Grandpa Stanley loved photography. He was always testing new ideas, thus the double exposure above. Look at my wild hair with those knobby pony tail holders. My mom has stick straight Asian hair. She had and has no idea how to wrangle curly hair. 

I should have known that I was a designer in First Grade. I used to admire how lovely that couch paired with Chinese scroll painting on the wall. The mix of patterns and colors were perfect-o. And the texture of the wallpaper was divine. It's easy to look back and see everything clearly. But as the quote states "I have never dealt with anything more difficult than my own soul". Progress is a back and fourth between ignorance and discovery.

Well hello there, this is kindergartner Kym with her BFF Ben. He lived across the street with his two brothers. That trio drove their poor mother insane. Once I woke up to Ben and his brothers running through the front yard sprinklers in only their birthday suits. His mother was screaming up a storm. I bet she is happy that Instagram and Facebook didn't exist back then.

Ben also managed to pack a rock into a snowball and chuck it at my forehead. That is why I have bangs in this photo. My mom cut me bangs after that incident because the gash looked so terrible. Thanks Ben, that's awesome. We moved away not long after this photo. I always wonder what happened to Ben, his brothers and his worn-down mother.

Ben if you find this, we lived in Brooklyn Park in the early 1980s and went to Winnetka Elementary. I would love to hear from you. BTW I have bangs again, but this time it's not because of a snow-rock-ball.

The wise looking woman in the middle is my Great-Great Grandmother Jun Lee and the lady to the right is my Great Grandmother Stella. The woman to the left is my Great Grandmother's sister, Rita. Stella only lived to be 55 but Rita lived till she was 92. I love that I have photos like this. Amazing! I wish I could have had the chance to interview all of these ladies. Imagine the stories they would have to share.
Within this trio of boys is my Grandfather Stanley (the oldest) and his brothers Andy and Alan with their mother Stella. My Grandfather Stanley was the oldest of five boys, born on Valentine's Day 1912. He was "given" to his mother's sister's family because they had no boys. The two families lived in the same duplex, in Yakima, WA. They had a tough life living through the 1918 Flu Pandemic. Stella's oldest son, Albert died at the age of 12 and her youngest son, Lester died at the age of 9 months. 

Wonder where this all started? Click here

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Chinese Bakery : Keefer Court

I have been going to Keefer Court Chinese Bakery for what seems like, my whole life (I just checked online. They officially opened in 1983). Now I take my kids there too. This last weekend we stopped by the bakery after the morning swim meet only to find some awesome new graffiti artists at work. I naturally had countless questions. They have been working on the wall for three weeks and plan for one more week of work till completion. I love it. The building feels more like an official landmark with this new dragon on the corner!
Amazing, they are not smacking each other, their eyes are open and one of them is smiling. Of course it's the one that really wants a few coconut buns, immediately. He knows the quicker he takes a good photo, the sooner he can eat that coconut bun. Get in my belly, coconut bun. NOW.

The Coconut Custard bun is my all time favorite. When I was little, I called them coconut footballs. There is a white stripe of coconut on each end, which makes it look just like a football. I also love the egg tarts, sticky rice balls, sesame balls and coconut tarts.

Keefer court also makes amazing cakes with fresh fruit on them. Don't make the mistake of going there on Tuesdays because they are closed. I wish liquor stores were closed on Tuesdays and opened all weekend. Keefer Court knows what they are doing.

Oh one more thing, no credit cards. Cash or check only. They have an ATM machine in the building too.


Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween Ghouls

See that super gross monster on the left, that's my middle son. That mask made the sweet little two year old boy down the street burst into tears. I had to throw my hand over the mask and make my guy turn around. I felt so bad. But it is Halloween, the one time when we all love to be a bit terrified.
 Waaa- ha ha. The neighbors had a sweet fog machine for extra photo drama.
My favorite house down the street. Every time I drive by at night I wish it was my house. So magically tucked into the big trees. Magical things have to happen in a house like that, right? That is what I tell myself.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Black and White Cookie

Looking for a Black and White cookie the size of your head? I know exactly the place to find one, Crossroads Delicatessen! They also have the best Matzo Ball Soup. When I am mega sick, it's my go to for survival. Their soup is like a hug from your mom, in a bowl.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Show me, don't tell me

Only look back to see how far you have come. Hindsight is 20/20. When you know better you do better. Just keep going. Learn and move along.
You have nothing to prove and everything to be. Nothing like a giraffe dress, puffy sleeves and Elton John wanna-be glasses to make that point. Do your thing, don't over-think everything.
The worse feeling is not being lonely it is being forgotten by someone you would never forget. This image is from the early 1980's in Chuck E. Cheese plastic ball pit. I am dragging my sister out of the pit upon her request (no brutality caught on this pic). Lovely matching t-shirts and I am certain shorty-short shorts. Back to the quote, being lonely is no big deal. Being forgotten is a whole other thing, the worst thing. True story.
Enjoy life, this is not a rehearsal! My daughter is a true blue Gemini. She is either wacky silly (like the photo above) or an uber-serious watcher, tracking everything she lays her eyes on. I love it when I can bust her out of her serious mode and even better when she allows me to document it. Gotcha!

This photo is odd, my mom doesn't really like ice-cream. However in this photo she seems game about it. It's almost as if she likes it. I didn't take this shot and don't recall this moment. It's a great image for this quote. We all make choices but in the end our choices make us. Everyday we are making choices, big ones, little ones and random ones. In the end, they all roll together to make us, so choose carefully. I will take Salted Caramel Pretzel ice cream in a chocolate dipped waffle cone with two maraschino cherries on top. Ha kidding, all I ever really want is a NAP.
Kid art alert. My little guy loves to make these random drawings. I love his use of color and lack of fear. I also really enjoy the fact that he is silent for 5-10 minutes. If you met him, you would understand. The kid is only silent when he is sleeping, chewing food or making art. About once a month he willingly plays the "silent game" while we are driving. I am blessed with a few glorious silent minutes. I never understood the saying "silence is golden" until I had three kids.

Back to the quote. Never apologize for having high standards. People who want to be in your life will rise up to meet them. I expect a lot from myself and others (even my kids). It might sound harsh at times, but it really comes from a loving place. I believe in myself and others. I believe we can all do more than we are doing today. We can be more, make more, make life better. And if we can, why not do it? Don't drop those standards. Keep pushing forward.
The woman with the shades in my mom. I hated those shades. I used to hide those shades so she could not find them. I would dance a little celebratory dance in private feeling like my life would be fabulous now that she would not be wearing THOSE shades when she drops me off at dance class or comes to pick me up from my Track Meet. I was such a silly child fool. I should not have celebrated. Wanna know why? Because she would always find another pair. Not just any pair, the exact same model. I don't know how she did it. Maybe sheer determination? Those shades were NOT cool in the 1980s, not one bit.

BTW, she still wears them now. I am so serious. Maybe that's why I generally refuse to wear any sort of shades? Memories...

Wonder where this all started from? click here

Monday, October 20, 2014

show me, don't tell me

Shrine Circus anyone? My Grandfather was a Shriner. I remember him wearing that fun hat but cannot recall him driving those tiny Shriner cars. Every year we would go to the Shrine Circus with my Grandma wearing her fancy fur. Look how adorable she is!
This is a Shakespeare quote which rings true for eternity. We each have expectations for ourselves and others. Often we are unable to measure up to those expectations. Some days that is no big deal others days it leads to total heartbreak. The photo above is my mom in the middle with my sister and I to the sides. That mother daughter dynamic is especially brutal at times.

I am just starting my own tween daughter/mother journey. Most of the time, I find her utterly delightful (especially when we are watching Project Runway together). She is also the BOMB at helping me select shoes or boots for my outfits. Of course, there are moments when we both crash and burn on the expectation element. Live and learn.
Anything is possible if you've got enough nerve. In this moment, I was hoping that my Grandpa would toss me the keys to the boat. Yeah right, I was four at the time. He did let me drive, but only steering at very low speeds.

I found this photo of my sister and I laying around in lawn chairs. What I find so delightful is that my sister is wearing her footie pajamas outside. Sometimes it is wonderful to just let things go and see what happens. No agenda or schedule.
This is a photo of my Mother at her Romantic Reverie Prom (Robbinsdale High school) from the 1960s. She made this dress and I still have it. The plan is to have my daughter take a photo in that same dress.

So, it's time to fess up. The other day I stumbled over something that happened years ago. I got emotionally caught up with something that happened back in 1995. Silliness. A photo popped up in my Facebook feed of an ex-boyfriend tagged by a girl he used to date. I got tripped up when I realized that most likely he was dating her, when he was dating me. What a dog. But that is why he is an ex. I knew he was a dog and walked. (BTW, if that "dog" happens to read this... karma will find you).

My Grandma was always making food, hosting gatherings, cutting a snickers bar into 16 pieces so all of us could share. She was somebody who always made everyone feel like someone. She did this effortlessly and constantly. I often wonder when she found the energy to charge herself back up. She drank coffee but I drink three times as much as she did. I still want naps, daily.

Wonder where this all started, click here

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Halloween Bones

Sticks and stones may break my bones.
Pretzel rods, white chocolate and mini marshmallows make for a tasty sweet and salt treat. So easy to make too. In this version, I used an entire Rold Gold Pretzel Rod. Melt your white candymelts according to directions, lightly dip mini marshmallows in the chocolate and attach to the ends of the pretzels. Let them rest on a sheet of waxed paper and wait for them to cool. Next dip one end of the pretzel in the white chocolate, tap off excess, allow to cool on wax paper. Finally repeat on the other side.

In this version, cut the Rold Gold Pretzel in half with a sharp knife. I like the broken bone look and the fact that you can hold it while eating without getting melted chocolate all over your fingers. And they are quicker to make! Yeah, double bonus.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Rice Krispie Turkey Drumsticks + Pumpkins

Yes! I finally made them. I saw these Rice Krispie Turkey Drumsticks a while ago and finally found the time to make them. My daughter had a sleepover this weekend. Sixth grade girls had no problems making these treats. So cute and even more cute when small children eat them. 

Wonder how to make them? You will need Rold Gold Pretzel Rods, mini marshmallows, white candymelts, Rice Krispies, butter and marshmallows. First step, cut the Pretzel Rod in half with a sharp knife. Melt your white candymelts according to directions, lightly dip mini marshmallows in the chocolate and attach to the ends of the pretzels. Let them rest on a sheet of waxed paper and wait for them to cool. Next dip one end of the pretzel in the white chocolate (only half way on the pretzel), tap off excess, allow to cool on wax paper.

While the pretzel bone is cooling. You can make a batch of regular Rice Krispies bars. I prefer to make them in the microwave. Allow the prepped rice krispie treats to cool a bit before you handle them. Butter up your hands. I tried to use coconut oil and it did not work. Butter is best. I don't think I used more than one tablespoon of butter on my hands for all of the drumsticks. Form the faux turkey meat on the pretzel bone (the side without the white chocolate). The will store well in an air tight container. However in my house, they were gone too quickly. 

If the turkey drumsticks feel like too much work, then this is the option for you. Melt the marshmallows and butter in the microwave, stir till well combined then add the food coloring. Toss in the rice krispies, allow to cool a bit. Butter up your hands, scoop up some Rice Krispies and shape into a ball. For the stem I used Tootsie Rolls but you could also use pretzels too.

I think it would be cute to add leaves too. Maybe some Fruit leather or or those Spearmint leaves

Monday, October 13, 2014

Show me don't tell me

These four fine young men in this photo are my Great-Great-Grandmother's brothers. They look to be a pack of trouble. I wish I knew more about their adventures. I'm loving their attire and confidence.

Making mistakes is better than faking perfection. I am the queen of mistakes but many do not believe me. Obviously they have not seen my flopped Pannekoeken attempt. I forgot to add eggs while wrangling the kids. I really have no clue what I am doing. I just keep moving, keep trying and see how things pan out.

This photo above is my Grandpa Stanley, Grandma Marvel and her sister Grace and her husband, Bitty. Grace was a firecracker, an amazing seamstress, spoke several languages and a wonderful artist. She passed away not long after I was born.

This is a photo of my Grandma Winnie and my dad. Winnie was always real. She didn't know how to be quiet or how to hold her tongue. She was a riot and I miss her so much. I love this photo of her, looking so cute with her first kid. She ended up having four kids before disposable diapers, microwaves, or the Little Mermaid (on repeat).

This quote, is from a longer statement by Marianne Williamson. I am not a very religious person, but I love this message. We should all shine, like we did as children.

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

Okay, this kid is not "shining". He is grumpy about something, which happens. But if you have time to complain you have time to make change. Sure be a grump for a bit, but then think up a solution or move along.
Little Tike Cozy Coupe 1970s style. The first model was sold in 1979. I am sure this is one of the original ones. Remember to always stay patient and trust your journey.  At times nothing makes sense but just keep going but somehow everything works out.
My Grandma Marvel and Grandpa Stanley loved to travel and they really enjoyed taking photos of food. They were decades ahead of the Instagram foodies sans fancy filters. 

Do you wonder where this all started from? Click here to read the tale.