city living

shiny and new: minnesota children’s museum grand reopening.

my sneak peek fun for the grand re-opening of the Minnesota Children’s Museum was brought to you in exchange for a complimentary museum membership. all opinions are my own.

if any of you who read here follow me on instagram (you really should if you aren’t already, i’m much more prolific there when i have small babies than i am here), you will have seen some posts about the excitement that is the re-opening of the minnesota children’s museum. i’ve been lucky enough to get some sneak peek action of the shiny and new museum that is now open after months of being closed for major renovations. i mean, my kids have been lucky too, but i have been especially jacked about all the fun stuff they’ve done.

living in st. paul, we’ve been lucky to have the children’s museum just a 10-minute drive away, which makes it perfect for a spontaneous rainy day activity. we’ve been members thanks to my mother-in-law for over a year now, and i can’t say enough good things about this place. so when i heard they were going to completely revamp and update, i was very excited. and when i was contacted to become a play advocate for the museum as they went through the process, i was over the moon.

one of the fun things we got to do was act as testers for a couple exhibits before the museum was open to sneak peek crowds and the general public. i grabbed a girlfriend and her three girls (she’s a supermom) and the seven of us headed over to the museum on a thursday morning to play!

we were so excited that we’d be getting to check out the sprouts exhibit, which is the area for kids three and under (although big siblings are welcome too), since all of our kids are within that age range. the improvements were amazing. they have water tables, a big jungle gym with activity centers, a baby area with cushy mats for crawling, and the best part: a rest area with a microwave, high chairs, and little tables for when kiddos need to stop for a snack or a feeding.

everything was challenging enough for the older girls, but there were things for the littlest ones to do as well. Amelia especially loved the water tables and the little touch/feel/organize activities in the jungle gym. we would have been able to spend the entire time in sprouts if us moms hadn’t wanted to see a few other areas.

one area we didn’t get to see (and couldn’t make it to any of the sneak peek sessions to see yet) is the backyard, the green space at the museum. they have activity areas that are made to look like abstract animal habitats, with lots of green areas, and even a workspace where kids can dig around and get their hands dirty outside. now, we live in minnesota, so we only get to enjoy this exhibit for part of the year, but i’m so excited that the outdoor area is so interactive. there are some days that just feel like museum days, even when it’s nice out, so to have the ability to get some fresh air and still do some play-learning is amazing.

part of the reason that these updates are so exciting for me is that the museum really took to heart the idea that play is the work of childhood. they have looked at the research and thought of ways to make their play less prescribed and more open-ended. kids these days get eight less hours of play per week than they did 5-7 years ago, so we need all the opportunity to let them play and be kids that we can. and if they can learn and grow while they’re doing it? even better.

if you’re interested in learning more, you can visit the museum’s website to read about “powerful play” and get a play activation kit that includes temporary tattoos, window clings, play tips and more. local friends, use the hashtag #playmoreMN to share your fun play with the rest of the community!

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the end of an era.

i have what may be the saddest news in the entire world.

costello’s in st. paul, our bar – our precious, darling, hole in the wall, dive bar – is closing forever in february. and now i don’t know what to do with my hands. or my beer-drinking parts.

Mister Man and i have been regulars at costello’s since i first moved to the neighborhood in 2010. we were so excited to discover a small place within walking distance that served food and drinks and always had either the baseball or the hockey game on for us to watch since we never had cable.

we made ourselves at home there immediately, and let me tell you, when i say we were regulars, i mean they knew our names there. you know the cheers theme song? “sometimes you want to go/where everybody knows your name”? costello’s was our cheers. and even though that doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, it was a dream of MM’s and mine to have a place we could go and they would set down our “usual” and we could chat the night away with our bartender and waitress friends. our hearts swelled whenever we walked through the door and brian or nancy would yell “hey guys! there’s a seat over there for you!”

the people who worked at costello’s are some of the nicest i’ve ever met in st. paul. the night we got engaged, after meeting our parents at the fancy w.a. frost’s, we went to costello’s to tell them the news (and they bought us champagne to celebrate). we went to nancy’s going away party when she retired. we hugged brian goodbye when he moved to west virginia (and then hugged him when he eventually came back “home”). we introduced our friends kari and sam there. we even joked about buying a plaque to install on the bar so we’d always have our spots when we came in.

we weren’t there every day, but it was a rare weekend that we didn’t stop in to say hi and have a pint. oddly enough, some of our most serious conversations about our future together (marriage/how many kids we want to have/you name it) were had in the second booth on the right. the only reason we were sad to move into our house was that we were no longer walking distance to costello’s and were losing our regular place. but we always had the reassurance that it was just across town.

a new bar and restaurant will be opening in its place in april. and you know what, it doesn’t sound like a half bad place. and it’s going to be GREAT for the developing neighborhood. but i still feel like it’s the end of an era. costello’s will always bring me memories of when Mister Man and i were just starting to get serious, making decisions about life together, and our first year as husband and wife. and who really needs a plaque for that?

anyone else get nostalgic about physical places like i do? is it odd that i have such a strong attachment to a dive bar? don’t answer that. or do, but just be kind.


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just some squawking from me to you.

hi. can we talk? great, thanks, i need to squawk about some stuff for a bit. buckle up, this is going to be one detached ride. but sometimes you just need to empty your brain of all the random, you feel me?

one || i am back on the coffee train. in a big big way. in fact, i don’t know why i ever stopped. was i on some sort of self-hating binge? i think that was it. because me and coffee, we’re tight. especially since i found this coffee creamer. it’s so good!

two || Mister Man and i both have this thing where we really like talking to strangers. not sure why, probably has something deeply psychological to do with our birth order or something, but we do. we talk to waitresses, grocery store clerks, old men on buses, whoever looks nice or like they could use a good chat. talking to (kind) strangers is probably one of my greatest skills, and i learned this art from my parents when i was young. now, i don’t have kids yet, and many of you probably don’t either, but i don’t care, you need to read this essay on why “always listen to yourself” needs to be the new “stranger danger”. rebecca says it (a couple strong words for the gentler souls to know about, but they are oh so powerfully used)

three || i’ve almost reached the point in the year where the long underwear gets put on. oh, do some of you not know the joys of long underwear? some of you live in climates that are too warm for snow and below zero temperatures? then let me educate you. long underwear is like thin leggings you wear under your pants when it’s colder than a witch’s tit in a brass bra. i used to think that long underwear was for old men on hunting trips, but then i put it on and my brain exploded because i was so comfortably warm. protip: wear it to work for the most comfy work day ever.

four || i finally bought a bar cart. FINALLY. sweet baby jesus i am excited about it! it’s a work in progress, for sure, but i’m making it my mission to make it the cutest focal piece in our living room. i’m not promising the most posh liquor choices or the cutest bar accessories, but there will be adorable straws! stay tuned…

so that’s what’s on my mind lately. what a way to jump back on the wagon after a somewhat lengthy absence from posting. i gotta get my groove back. that whole slump thing put me down for the count and i am just now sticking my head back above ground to see if everything is safe. i think it is. thanks for sticking with me during the quiet times, it means more to me than you know.


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these days.

hmmm, maybe these are just going to start being a saturday thing. i kind of love a saturday morning spent sitting with a candle lit, and a blanket on my lap, blogging while the husband putzes around the house. it’s my happy place.

there is a lot going on around here, in life that is, so writing has taken a bit of a backseat. and that’s okay. life is meant to be lived, and the more i live it, the more inspiration i have to write down the line.

i hope that your weekends are wonderful. love on your family and friends, and have a cocktail for me. hugs and kisses to all of you reading this.


these days i’m…

eating lots and lots of popcorn. Mister Man has a pretty terrible travel schedule this month, so there have been a lot of single lady dinners to be had around these parts. the silver lining is that i’m all caught up on my tv shows since there is no one to snuggle with in the evenings….

trying to wash my hair less. so far i’ve been going at least 2-3 days without shampooing, and my hair is so healthy right now! normally on day three i just throw it up into the ol’ blogger topknot (does anyone want a tutorial on that one?) but i wore it down in tribute to amber’s lion hair habit. big hair is happy hair!

watching the harry potter movies. or rather, re-watching them. because obviously i’ve seen them before, who do you think i am? i don’t think ashten and i could be friends if i didn’t like hp. MM and i are starting from the beginning, because this weather means mandatory viewings of those wonderful movies.   

wearing my winter coat. while crying tears of sadness for the cold being here so dang early.

praying for family that recently went through a terrible loss, the kind that no one should ever have to endure. praying for their healing, for peace in their hearts, and strength.

drinking coffee again. don’t judge me, i know i said i was off it, and i’m still off it most days, but let’s be honest, a girl needs her latte on a friday afternoon from time to time!

loving that i get to see my sister and her new apartment tonight! she’s a teacher in a town about an hour and a half northwest of us, so i don’t get to see her very often, and it’s going to be an epic girls night with dinner, cocktails, and hocus pocus. whoop!

also loving this special mail delivery from my girl alicia (or etley, as she’s also called). seriously, this girl is so wonderful, and has been an amazing far away friend to me since we found each other in the blogosphere. she is funny, gorgeous, and the sweetest person. love you lady!

working on getting our gosh darn lawn ready for winter. i have been cutting back plants, raking and pulling weeds for what seems like the last three weeks straight. i thought living in the city with a tiny yard meant i’d have LESS yardwork, not the crap-ton i’ve been doing.

(p.s. in honor of the cold weather arriving, for the rest of october i’m offering my monster squawker ad spots for 50% off with the code “sweaterweather”. with this spot you get social media love, an intro in one of my daily posts, and even a guest post opportunity if you’d like! go here to get your spot, they fill up fast! doesn’t nikki from rural rookie look so good over there on my sidebar?)


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how to: lip colors for fall.

even though i’m not in school anymore, fall is still a transition time for me. i feel the seasonal changes the most this time of year, and it makes me want to learn new things or nest like crazy. it’s the one time of the year when i want to spend a little more time getting ready, sprucing up the look, you know? probably something stemming from all that back to school shopping we did back in the day.

that’s one of the reasons i had meg fix up my little space here. did she not do a phenomenal job?? she took the vision right out of my head and put it into this blog. i am so happy with how it looks. it’s so much more me and so much more fun to look at than the old one, right?

the last couple of years i’ve been really into lip color in the fall. it helps remind me to put lip balm on when the moisture gets sucked out of me by the terrible tundra weather, and it’s a great way to look nice without trying very hard. i still need to find a good pink-plum color, i just haven’t had any luck with that shade yet, but i have a few other favorites that i pull out for the fall. (apologies for the light in the photos, it’s a hard knock life when your husband is out of town and can’t take photos for you!)

1. sheer nude. this color is perfect with just a bright eyeliner in emerald or blue, and simple mascara. it’s great if you are incredibly scared to put on an actual lip color, you can just start yourself out slow!

(i’m wearing revlon lip butter in creme brulee)

2. orange. okay stay with me here. i swear it’s more wearable than it sounds. minimal eye makeup is key here, as is minimal color on the face, but make sure to swipe on some bronzer so you don’t look washed out. it works with all eye colors and really makes them pop in my opinion. (p.s. this color is also bangin’ in the summer. i wear it year round.)

(i’m wearing revlon super lustrous lipstick in siren. the perfect orange.)

3. oxblood. this is simply a classic. fall = dark purple = perfection. this one, i’ll admit, is scary to try at first. try it on a girls night out (or in), and just tell yourself you’re playing dress up. that’s how i tricked myself into wearing it at first! it’s all in your attitude.

(i’m wearing revlon super lustrous lipstick in black cherry.)

these are going to be my go-tos all season, although i will still be on the quest for that perfect plum color (any recommendations are welcome!).

anyone else get that itch to change it up this time of year?

[also, don’t forget to check out my sponsor deal going on right now for the rest of october. chelsea from little lessons in a big city just took the plunge for november, you should join her and the rest of the cool kids over there!]


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