Tag Archives: painting classes

Lately: Winter in Minnesota


I am not one of those people who live in Minnesota because I can embrace winter. Even with this year’s mild winter, there’s really nothing to complain about. But there’s something about winter that makes me anxious for spring… So that I can get outside!

Sure, when the winter temps are reasonable, you can spend time outdoors in Minnesota. That’s just not me. So here’s a list of things I’ve been spending my time doing over the last few weeks.

Weight Lifting

I don’t have a photo, but for the first time ever, I’ve been lifting weights consistently three days a week. I am lucky to have my husband as my trainer. Previously, I’ve been totally clueless in this category of fitness, so I’m grateful to have his instruction and encouragement!


I took a community ed “Beginner” Acrylic painting class that proved to be out of the realm of my ability. I think I’ll stick with the paint and sip classes for now. At least I’m able to hang those on my wall at home!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Mulled Wine

I made a nice batch of mulled wine to watch the final Packer Game of the year at home. 😦 I’ll definitely be keeping that recipe as well as these sangria recipes in case our homemade wine doesn’t turn out as well as we’d like!

Juicy Lucy

This cheese-stuffed burger at Buffalo Tap is the best one in the Twin Cities, IMHO. It’s winter in Minnesota – so you need to have a Lucy and tots at least once.



For Christmas, I gave Rob a 1000-piece puzzle of Cinque Terre, Italy, thinking he could spend time putting it together on our coffee table on cold winter nights. Instead, it proved frustrating, especially with the dim lighting in our living room. He wanted nothing to do with it. I moved what we’d started to the dining room table. It took me about a month to finish. {Though I received a text from my teenage nephew with a photo of the 1000-piece puzzle I got him for Christmas. He completed his in one day.}



Sometimes I wonder if the amount I remember reading as a child was in another life. Somewhere, along the way, I lost it… I became too busy. Still, I really wanted to return to the world of books because I enjoy them so.

A couple of years ago, I told myself that I had so many books in the house that I hadn’t read yet that I needed to read those first before getting anything new. I had so many books started… and just never finished them. Obviously, they weren’t keeping my attention. I had to give myself permission to let them go!

Instead, I did what I should have done a long time ago – I renewed my library card. My previous card was listed in my maiden name with an old address! Now, I can read whatever I really want to read! I know. Simple. Obvious. But I finally did it. There’s really not much better in the winter than snuggling under a blanket and reading with a cup of hot tea in hand.

Salt Cellar {CLOSED}

You. Guys. We dined at Salt Cellar in St. Paul last weekend with our friends Jared and Matt. And I must tell you, it was one of the best meals I’ve had in a really long time!!! {Well, except for the fab NYE dinner we had at Sul Lago; but that’s a given, right?!}

I didn’t take any photos while we caught up over dinner that night, but I will say this…

We arrived early for a Happy Hour cocktail at the bar. The Martinez is probably my new favorite!


Martinez Hayman’s Old Tom Gin, Carpano Antica Formula, Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur, Regans Orange Bitters

We even got seated a bit early when the boys arrived. The menu changes often at Salt Cellar, so the Seared Scallops that I was eyeing on the online menu were not available. However a different, and perhaps more exciting, version was! There were multiple layers of flavor and texture that I can’t recall them all. But I will say that they included some of the creamiest polenta I’ve ever had as well as a new-to-me ingredient called cardoons!

I sampled everyone’s food and it was all delicious. Rob ordered the Tenderloin Tips aux Poivre, which  was served with heirloom potato gnocchi, kale, and Hen of the Woods mushrooms in a brandy cream. Get this – he was raving about the KALE! From appetizer to dessert, everything wowed us. Even the wine prices were reasonable. A $34 bottle of Minervois turned into two…

This is my kind of place with a setting that makes you feel warm, toasty and special inside. It felt like a true night out. I’d recommend it if it’s been a while and you need an intimate night out with your sig other. You’ve got the stellar ambiance, cocktails, service, wine and food all rolled into one.

Tip: Go for the $7 valet parking. Parking can be atrocious on Selby Avenue in St. Paul on a Saturday night. We figured that we’d pay at least $10 to park in a ramp in downtown Minneapolis anyway!

Oh, while we were having cocktails at the bar prior to dinner, Rob declared that we’d be making a trip back to try Salt Cellar‘s bar-only burger…

How are you keeping busy this winter?


I Want to Go Back to Art Class!


Do you remember when I talked about the gymnastics unit we had in grade school gym class? How I never really appreciated the fact that our public school district had {or rented?} a set of gymnastics equipment that rotated to different schools in the district throughout the year? It’s only now that I’m learning that most kids didn’t have this opportunity to try out all of the fun stuff you see during the summer Olympics. I don’t think I appreciated it as much as I should have at the time.

The same is true for art class.

Art class was hard for me. I was a girl that did pretty well in school, but mostly because I tried to learn the right answers. Art is so much more subjective! And back in those days, I thought art was a natural skill – either you were artistic or you weren’t. Because I always got Bs in art class, I just assumed I wasn’t. And it wasn’t really that fun for me.

Now I wish I could go back to those art classes.

I don’t remember much from art class, except for the fact that our art teacher, Mr. Cook, had a beard. I wish I could just think back on what I’d learned. But I really can’t remember much at all.

And now I’m loving all of these painting classes that I’ve been taking!

Last night, my friend Jen and I took another one of these painting classes that I’ve been obsessing with lately. This one was with Brushes & Brews over at the Cherokee Tavern in West St. Paul.

This painting was titled:

Two to the Moon

Our instructor was Jessica Barnd, who is a high school art teacher. And it shows. She was an excellent instructor! This photo is of the Original painting on the right and the canvas she was working on as we went along on the left:

photo 1(2)

Her teaching style suited me well. One of the things I love about these classes is that each one is so much different from the others. Not only am I painting a different picture, but I’m also learning different techniques from different instructors. I don’t always remember the techniques, but I’m always open to whatever is being taught. I love learning something new!

At the beginning, as per the usual, I had to Trust the Process:

Jessica showed us how to make “GPS points” in order to know where our moon, birds and major branches would go. I loved this strategy! When we started using black, she moved her canvas to the right and continued to use white instead so that everyone in the room could see what she was doing.

photo 2(2)

At first, as we started drawing the branches, it looked like my birds were in the sea and I was drawing seaweed! This was my first thought; but when Jessica voiced this out loud about what we might be thinking about our paintings, I laughed!

photo 1(1)

But as Jen and I know we had to Trust the Process

photo 3(2)

And our finished works:

There is more to learn in these classes than just painting. One of the most important things I’ve learned is not to be too harsh on myself. I’m new at this. I don’t have a steady hand yet. Maybe I never will. Whenever we go to these classes I hear things like:

What are we supposed to be doing?

I can’t get my X to do X!

Mine doesn’t look like that!

I used to {and sometimes still do!} say these things, too. Everyone is so critical of their own work. And when you are sitting up close to your painting, it’s really easy to critique and compare with the original. We find that when we take a step back from the painting and look at it from the distance from which most art is viewed, we get a new perspective. And while we are busy criticizing ourselves, we look over and compliment a friend or neighbor’s painting, thinking about how it looks SOOOOOOO much better. But what’s funny is that person is usually thinking the same thing!

Here is a link to a photo of our class paintings. So you can see, everyone turns out with a REAL piece of artwork, whether you are experienced or not.

And after all is said and done and I take that piece of art home, I completely forget about every little detail that was nagging me during the painting process and just relish in the fact that it is mine.

I made it.

Painting is a process – just like life, with its flaws and all.

Trust That Process.

By the way… Did you know that blue is my favorite color? Well, I actually like all of the colors of the rainbow because they make life so beautiful. But if I *had* to pick one, it would be blue, because it is so calm and serene.

What’s your favorite color and why?

In what parts of life are you unsure of the outcome, but you try to trust the process?


New Year Mishmash


I’ve started my first post of the New Year about a dozen times. I found that I just can’t express my thoughts on 2013 or what my plans are for 2014. But I also found it odd to just jump right into all of the long overdue Restaurant Impressions that I want to share without somehow wrapping things up from last year.

2013 was a tough year for me. I don’t think I would have gotten through it all without gratitude. Instead of rehashing those struggles, I’d rather list a few positive things…

Five Gifts I Gave This Holiday Season

1) Simple Abundance Journal of Gratitude – If you don’t have a gratitude journal yet. this is a great place to start:


2) Make your own Rosemary Garlic & Herb Rub from Kalyn’s Kitchen.

3) Grandpa’s Keepers – My dad loves fishing, so we had a fun shirt and a mug made listing all of his grandkids and granddogs.


4) I love giving concert tickets, especially if I get to attend. 😉 This year, Rob and I will be seeing (and hearing) some a cappella live: Pentatonix and The Sing-Off Live.

5) Owl Always Love You – A one of a kind work – by Moi!


Five Great Ways I Ended the Year

1) Making zucchini muffins for the dogs.

2) Drinking beer out of my dad’s fridge. O’So Night Train!

photo 1

3) Spending our points credit at Burger Jones on a bottle of Silver Oak Cabernet. Cab + Blue Cheese Burger = nom nom.

4) Champagne with Christmas Cookies. Nuff said.


5) Trusting the Process

Cheers to a fantastic 2014!