Archive for the 'Holidays/Birthdays/Etc' Category

Holiday Photos

Posted by Karen in Family, Food, Friends, Holidays/Birthdays/Etc, Isla.
Saturday, January 23rd, 2010 at 3:43 pm

Family Portait

Family portrait

Punky Brewster shoes

This was the one and only time Isla got to wear her Punky Brewster shoes, because they fit her for this one day only.


A lot of shortbread was made, and as the official shortbread judge, I declare this particular batch of Quentin’s was the best.

schpeck bread

For some reason, there were several equally odd pics of Quentin and I at Christmas dinner enjoying the bread made with speck (yummy bacon-like stuff Q brought back with him from Italy).

Ricky Story

Isla still really loves to have stories read to her!  Grandpa Ricky read to her all about a very hungry caterpillar.

making poutine

Nate & I decided sort of last-minute like to invite a few friends over for poutine & pints on New Year’s day.  Here he is making the delicious gravy, which we poured over plates of homemade fries topped with cheese curds.  Yummmm.

Poutine & Pints 2010

It ended up sort of being Babypalooza!  Look at all those kids!

lady friends & kids

We’re outnumbered ladies!

little bird

My favorite new outfit of Isla’s, which she was working on drenching in drool.


Isla’s first sled ride!  Well, actually, the snow was so wet and heavy that we really couldn’t pull it anywhere, so we just sat her in it in her waaaay too big snowsuit and took pictures of her.


Isla’s first snow man!

And the making of her first snowman:

Birthday Dog

Posted by Karen in Bruno, Holidays/Birthdays/Etc.
Tuesday, November 25th, 2008 at 11:09 am

Bruno’s 4th birthday was 2 Saturdays ago.  This is how he demonstrated his maturity earlier in the week:



That would be our bedroom garbage, emptied, spread out, and partially consumed. 

Bruno rarely does naughty things, and when he does it’s usually fairly easy to figure out why.  I’m pretty certain this was his way of expressing his displeasure with the short walks and reduced amount of attention he’s been getting lately.  Sorry bud.  Little does he know he’s getting a road trip and long hikes on the north shore in a couple days.  All will be well again.

For Bruno’s birthday, he got the best bone ever, complete with bloody meat scraps still attached.  We gave it to him the day before Justin & Juliana’s baby shower, so he could get a little work done on it and make it less gross.  We took it away that night and gave it back to him the next day just as guests were arriving for the shower, and while he still insisted on being in the center of the room at all times, he didn’t try to steal food off of anyone’s plate even once.  He just chewed on his bone, and occasionally licked a baby.

Bruno also got a new chicken!  Here is what was left of his old chicken:






And here is his new chicken:






And now I would very much like for him to stop getting older.  4 years old is plenty.

Tomorrow we are off to the north shore, where we will hole up in a cabin on the Baptism River with Bruno, lots of good food, and our friend Mike Robrew (get it?).  We supposedly have internets, so we may just post a Thanksgiving report!  Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Happy Halloween from Mr. & Mrs. Pumpkin!

Posted by Karen in Holidays/Birthdays/Etc.
Friday, October 31st, 2008 at 7:17 am



Fungus Amongus!

Posted by Karen in Food, Holidays/Birthdays/Etc.
Monday, August 25th, 2008 at 9:06 pm

I turned the big 31 yesterday!  I’m pretty happy about it actually.  I turned 30 and was pretty sure my entire body was falling apart, but I’m happy to report that at 31 I feel much more held together. 

I pondered several options for celebrating being so well held together.  Nate and I had been hoping to visit my brother in Ghana this October, and when we finally came to the difficult decision that we just couldn’t afford it, we decided instead to make this weekend our one big trip, celebrating not just my birthday but also the one year anniversary of our wedding!!

Nate and I stayed in a little cottage in Grand Marais, and took a class at the North House Folk School in identifying wild mushrooms!  We got to spend the day with Mr. Mushroom, Mike McCall, a fungus expert.  We started out in the classroom going over some boomer basics, then20080825174114_k_shroom.jpg headed out to the Kadunce River section of the Superior Hiking Trail.  That alone was exciting for me – I’ve spent a lot of time on that trail, but had never been north of Grand Marais on it. 

In spite of how dry it had been, we were able to find lots of mushrooms!  Ready… go.  20080825174145_lobster_mushroom.jpg This here is one kind of fungus parasitizing another.  Whoa.  It is some kind of common russula, which normally looks like a regular white capped mushroom, that has been parasitized by a Lobster Hypomyces lactifluorem, which alters the shape and consistency of the original mushroom.  Mike told us that although it’s kind of nasty on it’s own, once it has been parasitized, it is pretty yummy to eat!  20080825174025_coral.jpg

This is a coral mushroom that Nate found!  Coooool.  But is it as cool as this slime mold that I found?  That’s right, I said slime mold!  The thing about mushrooms is that the part you see is just the fruitin20080825174345_slime_mold.jpgg body of a whole mess of stuff below the surface.  In the case of this slime mold, mycelia have been living inside that rotting log, and they just decided conditions were right to send out their… uh… slime wad.  the slime wad then traveled up, up, up as far as it could get on that log to give its spores the best chance of disseminating. So cool, and gross, all at the same time.

Nate was maybe most excited about the chanterelles Mike found, 20080825174049_chanterelle.jpgone of the yummiest of all wild mushrooms!  They supposedly have an apricot scent, but none of us really got that. 

We saw lots and lots of a couple kinds of mushrooms that like to grow on birch trees:the Piptoporus betulinus, or Birch polypore, and the Fomes fomentarius, or Tinder polypore.  I kind of flipped when I read in my guide book that the freaking Iceman had one of each of these kinds of fungi with20080825174449_tinder.jpg him!  The first likely for its antibacterial properties, the second as part of a fire-starting kit (the innards can be used as tinder, or to hold a small flame for a long period of time).

After a couple hours of collecting, we took our spoils back to the classrooom to eat lunch while Mike officially IDed them, to talk more and ask lots of questions.  Mike dispelled a myth that I had thought to be true, that every edible mushroom has a poisonous look-a20080825174242_mike_mccall.jpglike.  He said that there are actually relatively few poisonous mushrooms, and that with even just a bit of training, you can tell at a glance whether a boomer is poisonous or not, with only one exception for this region.  I still feel kind of leery of the whole thing, but not Nate.  He hasn’t stopped mushroom hunting everywhere he’s been since the class, and even identified a mushroom growing in our backyard as soon as we got home, determined it was an edible ash bolete, and though the internets said it wouldn’t be that good, cooked it up and ate it anyway! 
After our class, we had an early dinner at one of my favorite restaurants anywhere, the Angry Trout.  Here was my awesome view:  handsome fella and beautiful, Lake Superior!  Here’s what we con20080825184803_angry_trout_food.jpgsumed: locally caught and smoked herring and lake trout, local cheese, fresh green beans, and blueberries, washed down with a Minnesota raspberry honeywine and a Lake Superior Oatmeal Stout. Mmm. 

We had sto20080825184919_pie.jpgpped on our way up the shore at Betty’s Pies for a birthday pie.  I had been dreaming for days about a banana cream pie, but alas, when we got there, they only had a "French" banana cream pie, made with cream cheese instead of whipped cream.  Blasphemous.   So I was forced to settle for this toffee cream pie, which Nate and I devoured over the next 3 days! 
We had signed up to go sailing on the Folk School’s schooner Hjordis, but because of high winds the trip was canceled.  So instead I made Nate ride the Alpine Slide with me in Lutsen!  It turned out Nate was actually kind of scared of the alpine slide.  So on the incredibly long ski lift ride to the top of the "mountain", I comforted him by telling20080825185007_ski_lift.jpg him how safe it was.  Just then, on the track below us – the slow track, mind you – a dad and his little boy came flying around the corner, flew off the track, flipped around in the air, and crashed horribly.  Those of us on the ski lift just gasped and stared, not being able to do anything, 20 feet above them in the air.  I was certain they were unconscious, if not dead.  But then the kid started wailing and screaming. 20080825184732_alpine_slide.jpg The dad managed to get him back on the sled and continue to the bottom of the hill, and we don’t know what happened then, because we were at the top of the hill, waiting in a long line – for the fast track no less! – for a chance to plummet to our own deaths!  I’m pretty sure Nate rode the brake the whole way down, and I started out that way… until this guy in the slow track started to pass me.  Then I opened her up. 

20080825202316_indian_pipe.jpgWe also stopped at the Cascade Lodge to take a walk around and reminisce about the epic wedding we had there just one year ago.  We hiked around in the woods looking for mushrooms, and found these.  I was very excited to realize it was Indian Pipe, a very unique native plant I’ve been wanting to see!   It lacks chlorophyll, and 20080825194122_sleepy_b_day_girl.jpggets nourishment from a beneficial relationship with mycorrhiza – fungus!

And finally, the true sign of a good fun and food-filled weekend: not being able to stay awake in the car on the ride home!

Overdue post: Pirate Shower!

Posted by Nate in Friends, Holidays/Birthdays/Etc.
Monday, May 12th, 2008 at 5:29 pm

Home sick today, trying to use my last bit of energy to catch up on the blog.  Or start to, anyway – we’re massively behind.  Here goes…

20080429052936_pirate_cake1.jpgTwo weekends ago we had a shower for our friends Scott and Shannon.  And not just any shower!  They’d alerted us to their plan to decorate the kid’s room with various pirate themed items, including sheets for the crib, so we decided to have a Pirate Shower!  20080429052948_pirate_cake2.jpgKaren took charge of the pirate cake: vanilla with chocolate frosting and a fearsome Jolly Roger flag made with her new decorating kit.  I seem to have missed a shot of the final product, once the icing was smoothed out it was 20080429052914_monster1.jpgawesome!  Continuing my recent bread-baking kick, I whipped up a treasure-chest bread bowl, guarded of course by a creepy olive-eyed sea monster.  Raarrr!

20080429052924_pirate_baby.jpgThere were games, including pin the eyepatch on the pirate baby, Pirate Pictionary, and much fun was had by all!

20080429053000_spread1.jpgIt turns out to be a very good thing we had the shower when we did – they weren’t due for three more weeks, but in the middle of the week after the shower we received an excited text message from Scott: the baby was on its way!!

Welcome to the world, baby Jo!!!

20080429052905_soccer.jpgEven more amazingly, they both showed up for that week’s soccer game, Scott to play, and Shannon and  Jo to cheer.  We’re playing this year on an indoor league, and getting thoroughly beaten every week, but it’s still incredibly fun!

20080429052845_icecream1.jpgLastly, some bonus pictures from a few weeks back when it actually felt like spring:  we went out for ice cream at a local shop, and they had little doggie ice cream packs!  20080429052835_icecream2.jpgI think they said they use half the fat and sugar, and who could pass up one called "Bruno Tracks"???  Not us.  That dog has the best life…

Whew.  Not caught up yet, but at least it’s a start!

Valentine’s Day

Posted by Nate in Friends, Holidays/Birthdays/Etc.
Saturday, February 16th, 2008 at 3:42 pm

20080216133432_pict0007.jpgFirst, the exciting news:  I’ve been working out this week, and after our Valentine’s Day potluck I seem to have packed on a few pounds of what can only be solid muscle!!


20080216133424_pict0003.jpgThe kegerator was full, we had some wines available, and everyone brought amazing dishes to share.  Karen made a few games to play: Ultimate Crush, and completing the classic poem "Roses are Red, Violets are Blue…"  (unfortunately this is a family blog so I’m not going to print the winning lines…  Hee hee.)

20080216133411_pict0002.jpgIt was a fantastic party, and since we we were trying to do it as a sit-down dinner we had to string two extra tables together – basically taking up our entire living / dining room!  Pretty tight quarters, but everyone fit.  Hopefully Cody has a picture of the seats with people in them, somehow I forgot to take pictures for a while there…

We’ve been cleaning in bursts the last two days after the party – doing dishes, taking tables down, putting chairs back in the garage.  Karen just walked by and sighed, "oh, it’s so nice to have the house back to normal…"  Amen.  Now we’re about to go treat ourselves to free beer at Town Hall – we’re members of the Pint Club, don’tcha know, so we drink free on Sat from 4-5.  Ahh.  :)

Welcome to the World, Baby Liam!

Posted by Karen in Family, Holidays/Birthdays/Etc.
Thursday, January 24th, 2008 at 1:46 pm

20080124114009_trevorliam.jpgHere he is!  The newest addition to the Phillips family, and Duoteam’s new nephew!  Baby Liam was born yesterday at around 2:30pm and weighed in at a hearty 9 lbs 4 oz.  We can’t wait to meet him!  I’m sure we’re going to be best friends.  Mother, baby, and rest of family are all doing well.  And based on the background noise during the brief conversation I had with my brother, the little guy seems to already have some strong lungs!

Congratulations, Daniele, Dean, and Trevor!!!

(I know, I know.  You can’t even see Trevor’s face, let alone Liam’s.  But I just couldn’t wait for more photos!  And this one is pretty darn cute with the whole big brother thing going on.)

Happy Dator!

Posted by Nate in Holidays/Birthdays/Etc.
Tuesday, January 15th, 2008 at 7:19 am

What’s Dator?  Well, it’s like "Nator day" crossed with "date day": Dator!  Karen took me on a day-long surprise date on Saturday to thank me for taking care of her while she convalesced – no thanks needed, but hey, I’ll take it!

20080115045544_20080113_153153.jpgAs the itinerary says, I got to sleep a bit while she made some delicious raspberry and white chocolate giant muffins.  Extra exciting because she got to use her new muffin tray!  Some coffee and Bailey’s later and I was off for broomball practice while she ran some errands.

After practice it was time for beer and pretzels at home while we got ready to start the "steppin’ out" portion of the Dator, starti20080115045411_20080112_150106.jpgng with a matinee of Avenue Q!  We tried to take a picture without a flash but it’s pretty blurry.  That’s me giving the preshow music a thumbs-up.  It was pretty cool how quickly our brains accept the puppets as characters – after the first 5 minutes you really stop noticing their handlers and just focus on the puppets.  It was a really fun show!

20080115045428_20080112_182655.jpgWe had a bit of time to kill before the next section, so we popped into a little Scottish bar I’d always wanted to try and had a beer.  20080115045457_20080112_182857.jpgThen off to the Ice Chamber!  I had never heard of this place, and it doesn’t seem to be on their website, so I’m not sure what strings Karen pulled to find it, but it was awesome!  There’s a frozen bar serving martinis, and just outside is a big "table" full of crushed black glass.  20080115045511_20080112_195920.jpgThere’s either propane or natural gas being pumped through a grid under the glass, and the effect is really cool – or, really warm!  It was like sipping martinis around a campfire on a cold night, but with none of the smoke and campfire smell.  Sweet!

(Odd side note – I ran into the new director of the Walker on our way out!  She’d just started earlier that week and we’d met twice before, but I suspect I’m not really on the short list of people she needs to remember…  :)

We were in need of sustenance, but lo and behold the Dator schedule had anticipated this.  Off to the Mission American Kitchen for food – we toyed with getting entrees but ended up splitting several of their mouth-watering appetizers.  Delicious!

20080115045531_20080112_230354.jpgBut it wasn’t over!  Back home, Karen took me upstairs where she’d put up our little Christmas tree and decorated!  Between tonsils and everything, we’d never had a family Christmas.  You can see how excited I am about my presents.  Surprise!!

Whew.  An amazing and super fun Dator!  Thanks, Karen!

Christmas in Colorado!

Posted by Nate in Bruno, Family, Holidays/Birthdays/Etc.
Tuesday, January 1st, 2008 at 1:30 pm

pict0005a.JPGWhat a whirlwind!  We got back the 30th after leaving Christmas eve for Colorado – J&J, Sierra, Steve, me, Karen, and Bruno in a rented Suburban driving cross-country.  We intended to go strpict0001a.JPGaight through, but we ended up crashing for the evening in Columbus, NE, with Karen and Steve’s brother Dean.  His wife Daniele managed to conjure up stockings for us all in the morning, it was amazing!  And Bruno got to play with Maceo, one of their dogs (the other one had to stay in her kennel).

Back on the road to CO the next morning we hit some pretty bad weather in the last pict0013.JPG1/4 of Nebraska…  A few white-knuckle hours later we crossed into Colorado where everything cleared up, and mere hours later we were opening gifts with the family!  I got a sweet shirt, the first issue of Make pict0001.JPGmagazine, and some Climitts for my frozen fingers on my bike – I can’t wait to try them out tomorrow!  Karen got a giant muffin pan, women’s work gloves, portable speakers for her iPod, and some hand / wrist warmers she’s already raving about!

pict0007b.JPGThe next day we went snowshoeing up in Rocky Mountain National Park at a trail I don’t know if I’d ever been on – but it was so cold and windy I neglected to take any pictures!  The wind died down a bit in the trees and the mountains were beautiful.  It was a great break from all the running around.

pict0005b.JPGBruno and Te Beagh reconnected and had a great week playing in the snow.  Regan, two years older than last time they met, was a little less receptive this time – she ended up snapping at pict0007.JPGBruno a few times and one time caught him pretty good on his ear.  I taped some gauze on it so it wouldn’t bleed when he shook his head and he never seemed to mind – heck, he’s an 85 pound dog!  Now if we could just teach him to listen when other dogs say they don’t want to play…

pict0008.JPGThursday we headed to New Belgium brewery for a few samples, then back home for the now-annual Jeopardy game!  This year, instead of making noises to "buzz in" we made colorful paddles to lift.  Laurel drew a nice Christmas tree that ended up on fire – you know, to get the judges’ attention – and I decided it needed a message from a (super-ripped) Smokey the Bear.  Unfortunately that was the pinnacle of our genius for the week – I think we came in dead last in the Jeopardy game.  Ah well, next year!

pict0006.JPGFriday (I think!) we had a nice lunch with Troy and Scotty at Coopersmith’s and got to sample some of their great beer.  It was awesome to see those guys again, even if just for a short time.  Scotty, come back!  Troy, come visit!

Early Saturday morning Laurel and Freddie took off driving for LA via Las Vegas.  Crazy kids! pict0003.JPG The rest of us went by my Grandparent’s new place in Fort Collins for a visit and some snacks.  They miss Chicago but seem to be settling in well.  Then off to City Park to break in Justin’s new sled!  Quentin went over a jump a few times on his stomach and I thought he was going to faceplant, but we all survived without injury.

pict0005.JPGThat night Karen and Steve’s aunt and uncle came up from Denver for another visit to Coopersmith’s – perfect, since they had so many beers I wanted to try!

pict0006a.JPGEarly Sunday morning we were back on the road, and this time we took full advantage of the DVD player built into the Suburban – everyone watched (and I listened to) the first 12 episodes of Lost!  Crazy.  Good weather the whole way, Bruno was perfect in the car, and we got to meet Dean, Daniele, and Trevor for lunch in Omaha.

Finally home and collapsed into bed.  Great to see everyone and celebrate together!

The most fun you can have with a cold

Posted by Nate in Beer, Holidays/Birthdays/Etc, Weather, Wedding.
Monday, September 17th, 2007 at 8:52 pm

The honeymoon, as they say, is over.  Although I think "they" are usually speaking metaphorically, and in this case it’s actually over – literally.  We’re home!

And it was the most fun you can have with bad weather and two colds!  As you read last week, we aborted our put-in attempt at Sawbill due to wind, rain, and cold, and headed towards Ely for two nights.  pict0006-5.JPGKaren got her cold in Ely, and it unfortunately peaked in congestion just as we headed out and decided to go half a mile underground to tour the Soudan Underground Mine…  The 3 minute trip down the mine shaft resulted in popped ears and renewed sneezing, but it was a really interesting tour that gave me a much better understanding of the mining history of the region.  pict0009-5.JPGThere’s also a physics lab down there(!) where they run experiments with subatomic particles – the half mile of earth shields them from cosmic rays that would interfere with their instruments.  Pretty cool.

pict0104.JPGKaren’s cold had progressed and added a hearty cough by the time we made it to Scenic State Park for an awesome two nights of "almost camping".  pict0027-2.JPGWe stayed in a fantastic CCC-built cabin right on Coon Lake – no running water, but they had electricity and a gas fireplace(!) so it was nice and cozy.  We spent the days sneaking out for hikes and then returning to the cabin for Karen to recoup in her little sleeping bag cocoon by the fire.  pict0006-6.JPG(Karen had to stop for a nap on the trail during one of the hikes).  Overall it was a really nice compromise between hotels and the boundary waters – we got to cook our camping food, but also take care of Karen’s cold, and overall it was super relaxing.  We both powered through our books, learned to play cribbage, and enjoyed the amazing scenery and hiking.

pict0110.JPGFriday night neither of us slept well – there were mice running around in the cabin, and some bird outside decided to screech every time you’d start to drift off.  Really weird, I wish I knew what it was or what its problem was…  Saturday it was my turn to wake up with the cold as we packed up to head to Duluth.

pict0015-4.JPGThe first day in Duluth was great: a nice long walk on the boardwalk, lunch in Canal Park, shopped for some gifts, then back to the room for a quick round of cold medicine and ibuprofen.  Finally off to the Brewhouse for the finest beer they brew – their Anniversary Cherry Ale!  Karen had two of those and I sampled their cask IPA and an Irish Stout.  While I love the Brewhouse beers, I gotta say the Irish Stout at the wedding was better…  :)  Two games of Cribbage and some yummy food, and I was totally exhausted.  We watched some TV and passed out.

pict0004-13.JPGSunday was absolutely gorgeous.  We got a late start, then headed up the shore a bit for an amazing lunch at Nokomis, a relatively new restaurant just 9 miles from Duluth.  Karen had a really nice wine and I got to try Bell’s Batch 8000 – this year it’s a wheat wine, like a Belgian Wit but X2, really nice even with a stuffy non-stop runny nose.

pict0012-6.JPGWe mosied back to Duluth and took a harbor cruise on the Vista King, super nice weather and again, I got a much better understanding of the importance of Duluth as a shipping hub.  Pretty incredible examples of raw "industry" out in the harbor – huge grain towers, powdered cement storage, and an entire dock filled with enormous turbines for wind power.  Very cool, and we got to see the largest freighter on the lakes, the Paul Tregurtha. Oh, and Karen got a little trip down memory lane, since she worked for the Vista Fleet during her first smmer in Duluth as a college student. 

pict0117.JPGThen across the harbor into Wisconson for some more microbrews at the Thirsty Pagan — apparently they’ve been around since ’96 but we’d never heard of them!  Good beer, more cribbage, and we met someone who corrected a few of the rules we’d had to guess at.  But I was crashing fast so we headed to the room for a quick round of meds (and I power-napped on the floor) and back out.  We decided to do dinner at Karen’s old college haunt, Sir Benedict’s, where we had some delicious soup and sandwiches, free popcorn, and yet more cribbage.  For those keeping score at home, Karen was winning a lot early on, but I believe the final count for the week has me in the lead.

pict0128.JPGMonday morning we grabbed a quick breakfast at a local coffee shop, another of Karen’s former places of employment, then headed to the Brewhouse to fill a growler.  No fools, we decided to share a pint of their Cherry Ale – hey, it’s only served once a year!  pict0130.JPGWe took a quick spin up to Hawk Ridge and saw a few Sharp Shinned Hawks and got some up close views of a Kestral they had caught and banded just before we arrived.  Coooool.

And then… it was over!  I’m writing this on Karen’s laptop as we drive south on I-35, back towards life and reality — but with a few key differences from how we left it!  It’s been nothing like we planned, but it was actually really exciting to be able to improvise and re-plan so well, and still have such fun.

More soon, and we’ll try to set up a central place for wedding photos!