edamomie

An Exploration of Parenting by the Vowel

A Castle, a Courtyard and a Cafe November 18, 2012

O: Outings

Who doesn’t have an obsession with castles? The American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis does and with the new addition by HGA Architects, you can go from historic to modern with a courtyard in between.

 

Trolling for Swedish Fish

Trolling for Swedish Fish

I hadn’t visited ASI for years and since the opening of the new addition, it’s been on my list. With relatives in town, not of Swedish but Scandinavian heritage (close enough!), and the holidays approaching, we opt for a Friday afternoon visit. Our group includes my mom, aunt, my two kids and me.

 

ASI lies just south of downtown Minneapolis on Park Avenue, the first asphalt road in the Twin Cities which is also known as the Golden Mile. The institute’s new signage, parking lot and landscaping greatly enhance its presence and ease of access. They also designate close parking spots for fuel-efficient vehicles only, our first hint at the sustainable features for the site’s new design.

 

Upon entering we’re drawn to the right, right into their gift shop featuring Scandinavian designed goods and to my kids’ delight – a candy store. Might they have Swedish Fish? Bulk candy is $12 a pound so after a quick study, the kids chose a few items that occupy them while the grown-ups check out the shop a bit more. The kids discover the Norwegian (our ancestry) version of Ticket to Ride. I file that idea away for later.

 

Just (Scandinavian) Desserts

Just (Scandinavian) Desserts

The cafe, Fika, runs the length of the courtyard’s southside. There is plenty of daylight streaming in at 3:00 in the afternoon and many larger groups  of people dining in the cafe. We peruse the chalkboard menu for some time and place an order for various coffees and desserts from lattes to hot chocolates (both of which are served with fancy swirls) and flourless chocolate torte to bread pudding. Our order is served to us at the table along with real linens and silverware. The minute I insist I have to try my 7-year-old son’s dessert, he picks up the last large section of it to shove in his mouth. I manage to talk him down from that to share a bite with me. The rest of us are sharing politely.

 

Third Floor Children's  Playhouse

Third Floor Children’s Playhouse

After dessert, we pay our admission fees for the castle portion of the institute (the cafe, gift shop and access to the courtyard are all free). Fees run $7 for adults and $4 for kids (ages 6-18; under 6 are free). Upon arriving at the paid portion of the museum, the kids immediately assume we are in some sort of Harry Potter-like adventure (we are in the process of reading the books together). The castle-like vibe is heightened here because we are inside at the old to new transition point, yet can touch the exposed exterior stone of the castle.

 

In the Castle's Shadow

In the Castle’s Shadow

We explore all three levels of the castle including the solarium in about an hour. It was the right amount of time considering we had a nine and seven-year old with us. Many of the rooms were set with holiday decor including some very elaborate table settings and Christmas tree decor. I would like to get the kids in for napkin folding instruction, please!

 

We spend more time on the third floor at the kids’ playhouse and Turret area, where Tomte, the elf, is now accepting written holiday wishes. The kids each scribe a letter to drop into the post. From our perch, we also discover the new addition’s green roof and miscellaneous hidden goats, gargoyles and gnomes. Before leaving, we take one last walk around the courtyard. I envision that us adults could easily come back and explore the museum more, and that for free, the kids and I could come back to shop, dine and just be in the shadow of Minnesota’s only castle.

Advertisements
 

Candy Plan November 5, 2012

Filed under: Eats,Independence — edamomie @ 5:39 pm
Tags: , , , ,

E: Eats + I: Independence

Carving and Removal of Guts

Carving and Removal of Guts

Halloween ranks second only to Christmas as the holiday when most retail consumer dollars are spent. People buy costumes not only for kids, but grown-ups too; more decorations for parties and bucket loads of candy. Halloween costume stores pop up  in various locations and we stock up and shop early. For this family, I think our Halloween storage outweighs our Christmas storage. As follows is a Halloween recap on carving, costumes and candy handling.

 

Overly zealous in past years, we’ve had to restock on candy and be faced with carved pumpkins whose insides have turned to mush by Halloween if they haven’t already had their decoration chewed off by squirrels. This year, I bought pumpkins and candy ($14.98 value pack) five days before Halloween. The hidden bag is uncovered and ripped into the next morning at about 3:00a.m. by my 7-year-old son, Calvin, who had been obsessing about it. The carving takes place four days prior to Halloween and the Jack-o-Lanterns serve as a centerpiece days before moving outdoors on Halloween, in fine condition.

 

Witch and Gangsta

Witch and Gangsta

Weeks prior we had pulled out our Halloween bins of costumes past and tried to sell the kids on resurrecting all or portions of them for this Halloween. Tough sell. My son wanted to be a gangster and needed a whole new pin-stripped suit because the pink-stripped gangster outfit my 9-year-old daughter wore the year before would not suffice, of course. Even the cheap plastic gangster weapon – found in pieces – needed replacement. My daughter, Ava, was thinking witch. We found two respectable witch hats, six black cloaks and a black wig in the arsenal. We knew our options before heading to the Halloween store. Upon arrival, it was all too tempting to not stick with a costume re-run. Calvin got the gangster and Ava, due to indecision, ended up empty-handed on a new costume and committed to the witchy mix of options at home.

 

Halloween Grub

Halloween Grub

With Halloween on a Wednesday this year, the usual annual parties in the neighborhood occur on the Saturday prior. With minimal effort, I dress in black and add a witch hat to head to the first party with the kids. This annual party with a 2:00p.m. start time comes complete with a fog machine and elaborate Halloween fare from gummy worms in crushed Oreo crumbs to eyeballs conveyed via mini-powdered donuts topped with an M&M as the pupil, red gel lines for the veins. We last about two hours.

 

We regroup at home and try to have a substantial meal before the next party. There is little interest. Now I’m ready for costume two of the day – Elastagirl (recycled from five years prior). My husband, who has costumes set in May for the next Halloween, is suffering a set back. Apparently fabric spray for clothing is not all it’s cracked up to be. Cutting it close at 5:30, his Plan B emerges. We all take over one bathroom and finish applying hairspray, face painting and powdering. The witch turns into a mime of sorts simply because she wants her face white not green. We head to party #2 around 6:45p.m.

 

Haunted House on the Block

Haunted House on the Block

This annual party has another great spread of food – little tacos, artichoke dip and of course mummy dogs (formerly known as pigs in a blanket). Grown-ups gather around the outdoor fire pit and the kids run wild between the bouncy house, playhouse and basement. The kids are sneaking soda and snacks at all times so it’s pretty tough to monitor what they actually consume. We last til 8:15p.m., then it’s time to head out. After all, the adults need Halloween fun too!

 

With sister-in-law set to watch kids, we’re out the door by 9:00p.m. to an old-fashioned Halloween house party where we’re greeted by host Gene Simmons. We meet many bizarre characters that make the evening very entertaining. We’ve had our fill and are ready for a break from Halloween, at least until Wednesday the 31st.

 

As is tradition, I make some sort of casserole or hotdish. This year it’s Aunt Rose’s Easy Cheesy Lasagna. It’s ready to go in advance so we can be ready for the 6:00p.m. trick-or-treaters. They still catch us off-guard. We debate every year if we should go out in shifts so someone can be home to hand out candy. This year, we choose to all go out from 6:30-7:15p.m. Our neighborhood really goes all out so we don’t have to go far. We never miss the house on the block complete with staged outdoor lighting and Thriller on a loop. Ava takes her time and Calvin sprints between homes. It’s challenging to keep up with them and chat with neighbors too.

 

Candy Plan

Candy Plan

At home, we heat up the lasagna and have a fire in the fireplace. My husband also sets a major fire to one jack-o-lantern to creating a flaming pumpkin, which to me looks hazardous and threatening to potential visitors. Trick-or-treaters still come. We hand out candy til 8:30p.m., when we finally turn out the lights. The kids sort and organize their candy, eating as they go, especially the items like KitKats which are pretty popular this year. We try to bribe a few of their 60+ pieces of candy from them.

 

They kids are so worn out, they actually head to bed on their own. Ava doesn’t even take off the white face paint. Calvin puts the tooth he lost that day under his pillow for the Tooth Fairy who actually forgets to come that night. I reason with him on November 1 that too many kids lost their teeth yesterday, bobbing for apples and whatnot. The Tooth Fairy will come tonight.

 

It’s four days after Halloween now and we’ve just taken all of the decorations down. The candy still lingers. This year, rather than limit it to one or two pieces after dinner each night, I’m being much less restrictive. They can have access to it through Tuesday, then it’s gone. Otherwise, they drive me crazy obsessing about it all day and it lasts for 2-3 weeks, making the after-dinner candy treat a tough habit to break. So we have two more days to consume, then I’m getting rid of it. Their uncle offers to buy it for $5, but Ava pushes back, it’s worth much more than that. I’ll sell it to you for $20. I’m glad she negotiated. I’ll just put that money directly to their dental bill or next year’s costume purchase.

 

 
%d bloggers like this: