Tag Archives: photography

A morning at Itasca State Park

I always try to plan a trip to the cabin while Minnesota’s state flower, the showy lady’s slipper, is blooming in northern Minnesota. I believe they’re in bloom for about two weeks around the end of June and beginning of July(more information about our state flower and a little more information ). Itasca State Park is 40 miles from the family cabin and we went there the last weekend in June seeking the lovely orchid during our three day stay at the cabin. We hoped our timing worked and it did! The blooms seemed very much at peak. Score!!

There’s a spot near Douglas Lodge within the park where there are many lady’s slippers so we always walk down the many steps then back up again just to see their loveliness. But they also grow throughout the park and we drove around the entire park searching for them. Here’s a link to the map for perspective. We did find one small group of lady’s slippers, drove right past them and then I exclaimed “there’s some!!” so we backed up and I got out to photograph them. They really blend in with the scenery so are kind of hard to spot in a moving car but I did find one patch!

No trip to Itasca is complete without visiting the headwaters of the Mississippi. Yep, the mighty Mississippi River starts in Itasca which is a huge tourist draw. My first gallery contains general park photos as well as the headwaters.

In this next gallery are the photos I took of the group of lady’s slippers that we found on the Wilderness Drive. To me, it looks like this group is further along than the blooms near Douglas Lodge.

And here are the photos from the large group of lady’s slippers down the hill from Douglas Lodge. The colors on these flowers are more vibrant than the previous gallery, wouldn’t you agree? Very curious. Maybe it has something to do with sunlight or lack thereof.

I’ll close with some sunset photos from the cabin which is the most relaxing place on earth. If you’re planning a trip to Minnesota, or if you live here, do plan a visit to this fabulous state park. There is something for everyone there.

I like that there’s still enough sun to form shadows in this one:

I think this is my favorite of the ones I took between three different nights(sans shadows):

And this is 15 minutes later than the previous photo. Look how much the colors changed in just 15 minutes:

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Mid to late spring in the twin cities

Ready for another photo tour of what’s been blooming the past couple of weeks? Note: I started this about three weeks before I published it and now it’s summer! Better late than never though eh?

While working from home (due to the pandemic) and ever since the weather got warm, I started a new walking routine. I try to do either two walks or a walk and a bike ride each week day.  I have a few routes that I take from my house.  My favorite is the walk to Willow Pond. If I walk on the Willow Pond path all the way to the brown house  with the interesting garden, that’s 7-8 minutes, so round trip it’s nearly a mile. It’s a fairly quiet path in my neighborhood with occasionally one to three other walkers.  I enjoy photographing the flowers as well as the reflections in the pond when it’s calm. I included one other photo with reflections from our local park in this gallery.

I took a lot of photos of lilacs this year! I never tire of them.

And iris too.

When we walk to the park we either walk there and back, circling around the amphitheatre, or we go all the way around the lake.  The latter takes about 40 minutes and it’s a good hike. And if you’re lucky, you’ll see some wild life. The other day I saw an egret as I rode my bike around the lake.

Several of my neighbors have rain gardens and they’re between our house and the park, I’ve taken photos of these too.  I thought my neighbor said that the city helped them with theirs. So I was curious and found information about their purpose and benefits as well as the Ramsey-Washington County Metro Watershed District. I’m thinking my neighbors may have benefited from the Stewardship Grants program.  The gardens in my neighborhood are all a bit different and it’s fun to see their progress throughout the season. My neighbors to the south have the largest on the block and it’s full of flowers! Here are some rain gardens on the way to and from the park.

We also have a vegetable/fruit garden. During the winter we had some wood delivered which was stored in this garden space. We haven’t had a garden in that spot for a couple of years so the first project was moving the wood.  In the next gallery are photos of this garden when it was first planted and then a little later and it’s easy to see the difference. We planted basil, green pepper, cucumber, cherry tomatoes and another, regular size tomato but I forget which variety.

And of course there’s the monster rhubarb plant. It’s since been pruned.

time to harvest! this was before the wood was moved.

This year I also took photos of the cottonwood trees and their blossoms. I was on a walk by myself and yep, it’s that time of year where you keep your mouth shut so as not to collect cottonwood blossoms in your mouth. Yuck. But I realized that I didn’t know what a cottonwood tree looked like.  So I followed where the blossoms were coming from and finally I know what a cottonwood tree looks like.

To close here’s a gallery of a few more things in my garden. I have columbine that grows in the cracks of the patio. I now have three of them! Other photos are of lamium which is a nice ground cover and it pretty much blooms the entire season. But beware, it will take over if you let it!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this tour of spring in the twin cities. I’ll be back soon with summer blooms!

 

 

 

 

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Early spring blooms, pandemic version

I know, the pandemic has nothing to do with spring blooms but I felt that since this is the year of the pandemic, I could designate this year’s posts to it? Instead of the boring year like I do most of the time. Must think of more creative titles….

But back to the point of my post. The pandemic news is just awful so I’m taking you away from it if momentarily to share what’s been growing and blooming here in the frozen tundra in the past month or so. I managed to capture my rhubarb plant just as it started poking through the ground. That plant is so hardy, comes back every year. And we’ve already had our first rhubarb crisp. I have another recipe for pork tenderloin with a rhubarb chutney that we just made for the first time this season and it is yummy.  I always have more rhubarb than I need and in years past I would bring a lot of it to work for people to use. I guess I can’t do that this year huh? The awful pandemic :(

The bleeding hearts just started to get going last week. They are so lovely and unique. And they grow likes weeds in my yard, no joke!! They are also very hardy and every year it seems I have a few more plants than I had the year before. The next gallery contains bleeding hearts and others flowers in my garden.

We’re planning to have a vegetable garden this year. Hubby got most of the firewood that was stacked over the winter in the vegetable garden space stacked in the garage. There was a small pile left so we had our (hopefully) last fire of the season last weekend to use that up. Yes, it’s still been a little chilly around here of late so the fire was really nice. But back to the garden.  We always have tomatoes, so probably a cherry and a regular sized tomato. Perhaps cucumbers. I would like fresh basil and we have room for one more veggie. What will it be?

I also wanted to share a few photos of snow on Easter because these are the only photos I have of the “purplies”. That’s what we call these early blooming delicate little bells. Their real name is scillia and they are so lovely and such a delight every spring. It turns out that the only photos I have of them was the day it snowed. Please enjoy ducks ducking for food with one duck’s butt in the air :) Obviously the ducks have nothing to do with plants and flowers. We just found them amusing so I thought I would share.

The final photo is a close-up of buds of a crab apple tree in the park down the street. We walk and bike there frequently and this was on a walk last weekend. Stay safe out there and enjoy your spring.

 

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Frankie the cat

It’s hard to blog during stay at home orders especially when your blog is about travels. BUT, I did think of something that I have not yet blogged about.  Our darling boy, Frankie.

Frankie started life with us when we rescued him from the humane society.  We really mourned our previous best. cat. ever Eddie but after nearly 8 months without a cat in the house Miss M announced “this house needs a cat.” Turns out she was right!

Frankie was nearly 3.5 years old when we adopted him in October 2018. We learned that he was returned to the humane society twice. And we really weren’t prepared for what came next. We think Frankie suffered immensely from being returned twice so who could blame him for being highly stressed being moved several times in a month’s time. After a month at the Coon Rapids humane society he was moved their Golden Valley location where we were lucky enough to find him. We normally adopt from the St. Paul shelter but having gone there twice and not finding a good match I searched their website and learned the Golden Valley location is much larger and they had tons of kittens and cats ready to be adopted.

We had no idea how to transition an older cat as we had always gotten kittens with the exception of Eddie who was about 8 months old. Long story short we learned about confining. I didn’t know that was a thing! My vet friend from high school and the humane society’s help line advised me what we needed to do.  I won’t go into all the details but suffice it to say I was ready to take him back! He kept going outside the cat box(es) and it was because he was so stressed and we needed to calm him down. Oh, and he had crystals in his urine, might have been the reason the previous owners returned him. Cats typically go outside the box when something is wrong, another thing I did not know. So we started him on special food and a drug to calm him down.

He was confined to our basement bathroom because it was the only room with a functioning door that wasn’t occupied. He eventually graduated to the band room next door to the bathroom. And after about a month in total he graduated to the whole house. It took him a while to get acclimated to his new home but by about a year we could tell he was feeling pretty comfortable in our house.

Naturally this post will contain photos!! The first set here are from his confinement.

We kept him on the drug for a couple more months I think then weaned him off and he’s been fine ever since. He is such a sweet, sweet affectionate boy. I think it was his second day here (before we had to confine him) when he climbed on my stomach and chest and just snuggled and purred. He does this fairly often and it’s just so cute!

The next set of photos are right after he came out of confinement.

And then he went outside. He loves to go outdoors but sometimes he misses curfew causing his mother to fall asleep on the couch waking every couple of hours looking for Frankie. The latest I let him in so far has been 4:00 a.m. Yikes!

Lastly, here are some photos from our own confinement. How fitting.

Naturally Frankie is unique. Every cat has his/her own personality and quirks, kinda like we humans eh? After he came out of jail we decided we’d move his food and water dishes upstairs where we used to feed our other cats. He had such an issue with that!! He would lay on the floor of our upstairs bathroom we think signaling that he wanted his dishes moved back into his studio apartment, the basement bathroom.  Sure enough, once we moved the dishes back he stopped laying on the other bathroom floor. After 1.5 years of being here he still eats in the basement bathroom. And he still takes his breaks with pops in that bathroom. When he was confined hubby would visit him on his breaks from work, one about 9:30 a.m and another around 3:00 p.m. Frankie still looks for hubby to get their special spooning break time. It’s so cute!  Even though it was a tough beginning for all of us, we’re so glad to have Frankie in our lives. He is so much fun and brings so much joy.  And he’s very cuddly though he doesn’t like to be held too long. Here’s one last photo of our special boy.

Back to confinement then. Hope you’re all keeping busy  and staying healthy during this interesting time.  Ta ta!!

 

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Winter Carnival Orchid Show

Every year the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory located in Como Park, St. Paul, has an orchid show during St. Paul’s winter carnival, typically the third weekend in January. I try to make it every year even though it’s very popular which means it’s very crowded. I thought I was being smart by getting there just a few minutes before it opened at 10:00.  Um, not!! As we approached the conservatory on Estabrook Drive cars were already parking on the street.  I thought for sure we’d get a spot in the parking lot as we always have before. Wrong again! The parking lot was completely full this time so we went back to the beginning and parked even further down the street than when we first passed it a few minutes earlier.  Next year we’re going 30 minutes early and we’ll wait in the car! It worked out, obviously, so without further ado, below are some galleries of not just gorgeous orchids but other beauty contained within the conservatory.

I’m going to split the galleries up a little bit. First, some photos of plants and flowers other than orchids.

Next, some photos of “general” orchid views.

Finally, some close up photos of the exquisite orchids that I photographed. I couldn’t capture them all, there were just too many people. But, as always, it was so worth it just to feel a bit of the tropics on a winter day and to view beautiful flowers.

And my favorite of the group, nice and large.

 

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Caffe Biaggio, St. Paul, Minnesota

Yes, another restaurant review!! I’m not sure why I’ve never written one for this place but no time like the present as it’s said. Oh! I’ve got to post an update because I HAVE previously written about it! Here’s a link to my other post.

This is another favorite of ours for dinner.  The food is great and we always leave satisfied. It’s on the busy thoroughfare University Avenue which stretches between both Minneapolis and St. Paul.  And Caffe Biaggio is on the St. Paul side fairly close to Highway 280. The Green Line goes right by it and the Raymond Avenue Station is close by. There is also a bus stop right in front. So many ways to arrive there!  They also have a parking lot with plenty of spaces but get there before the dinner rush to get a spot.  The restaurant is in a row of buildings so if you blink, you might miss it.

We’ve mostly eaten dinner at Caffe Biaggio but two summers ago when hubby had a day off he picked me up for lunch and we ate on their patio. It’s nice but a tad noisy due to the busy University Avenue. But it’s fun to see the world go by through the latticework that surrounds the patio for privacy.

Our most recent visit started off with a nice bottle of red wine and  deep fried olives. Wait, what? We ordered their fried calamari and the waiter delivered these fabulous olives. We got his attention and he was about to take them away but decided to give us a bonus.

I didn’t realize they had a grilled calamari option until our waiter asked which calamari we would like. It’s been a while since we had the fried calamari and it was even more delicious this time. It’s served with a mayo type sauce which is different than the usual marinara type sauce that we’ve typically had elsewhere. When the waiter removed our empty plate he commented that they had changed the breading. Aha! So it wasn’t our imaginations that it tasted even better than we remembered.

Next came our main entrees.  Hubby had one of the specials that night, a lobster tail risotto with langostino and I had their spinach gnocchi in tomato sauce, something new for me. Everything we have had there has been great and this meal was no exception. Here’s a link to their website for more information.

Small fun fact: Hubby worked for a very short time at Breakfast at Mama’s when he previously lived in the cities during the 70s. In the “about us” section of Caffe Biaggio’s website they mention Mama D’s. Mama is the mother of the owner of Caffe Biaggio and she ran both Mama D’s and Breakfast at Mama’s.

If you like Italian food and you’re in St. Paul, do stop by Caffe Biaggio.  Great food and great service and several ways to get there.

They adorn their tables with a small vase of fresh flowers. Nice touch!!

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Thanksgiving at the M Street Cafe

I didn’t get a chance to post this last year because, holidays.  But since I just posted a restaurant review of the St. Paul Grill I remembered that I had intended to do the same for the Thanksgiving brunch that the M Street Cafe had this past year. The M Street Cafe is another restaurant at the St. Paul Hotel. It’s only open for lunch and I had never been there before. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to handle making my usual Thanksgiving feast that we do every year because I was still recovering from my shoulder injuries, so I made reservations at the M Street Cafe.  They have an amazing spread with various stations all lined up. I didn’t get good photos of the meal courses because it was so crowded and I didn’t want to butt in line to get photos. The meal was good but I think my favorite part was the dessert room.  Yes, there were so many desserts, it needed its own room!

You can’t really compare a Thanksgiving meal out to a home cooked meal. There were lots of choices and I wish I had kept the menu of all those choices, alas, I did not nor can I find it online. But, there was something for everyone. If you didn’t like turkey, you could have ham, for example. Unfortunately I don’t remember all the food that was offered. But it was worth it not to have to worry about re-injuring my shoulders by preparing the feast, however, there were no leftovers and they didn’t allow us to take home our desserts.  Oh well. It was a nice meal nonetheless.  Following are galleries of the photos that I took. I’ve created a separate gallery just for the desserts. I think you’ll see why.

And now for the desserts:

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