Posted in Adventures at home

Skol!

Our house gets pretty excited for the start of the Viking’s football season. While the boys of the house focus on quarterback ratings and starting line-ups, I see the kick-off of the NFL season as a chance to get crafty. Break out the hot glue gun and scrapbook paper, this post explains how I put together a football party this is sure to start your favorite team’s season off with a win.

welcome football season

With a wreath like this on the front door, our neighbors have no doubt which team we’re supporting. I made this fabric rag wreath using yellow, purple and football patterned fabric. Here’s a link to a tutorial on how to make a fabric rag wreath. The center of the wreath is a 4×6 image I snagged from the Vikings website, backed with yellow chevron scrapbook paper, topped with a purple and football ribbon and hung with yellow polka dot ribbon. Tying the fabric rag wreath is time consuming. I did it in short spurts over a couple evenings, usually after the boys were in bed and I was watching the evening news.

eats

I kept the food simple. The pizza was a take and bake cheese pizza that I added pepperonis and strategically placed cheese to in the shape of a football. I googled purple drinks and found a recipe for Purple People Eaters. Delicious. The bottles are emptied and washed Starbucks Frappuccino drinks. I hot glued football ribbon and tiny Skol! pennants to the bottle necks then popped in a yellow striped paper straw. For dessert, I made brownies and then used a football shaped cookie cutter to cut them. I then piped white frosting across the footballs to make laces.

Set the Scene

To make the banner that was taped across the island I used my Cricut to cut 6 inch triangles out of both purple and yellow chevron scrapbook paper. I then cut 5 1/2 inch triangles out of the solid colors and used a glue stick to layer them on top of each other. The letters were cut at 5 inches, attached to the triangles and then topped with a purple polka dot ribbon.

The football tower centerpiece was my favorite party project, but was also the most challenging. The tower’s base is a 10 inch Styrofoam half ball with a 1 inch dowel jammed into it. The football is a paper lantern that I purchased at a party supply store. The yellow plastic megaphone was also purchased at a party supply store and sandwiched between two-8 inch, purple tulle poms poms. Around the base, I crumpled and layered green tissue paper and secured with packing tape. The poms poms were attached with gobs of hot glue. I made a slit on the bottom and the top of the megaphone with an x-acto knife and pulled the dowel through. It takes some patience and a little finesse to get the pom poms and tissue paper to cooperate. The outcome is worth it.

Lil’ Vikes

To add to the fun for the boys, I did a kid’s table for this party. The place setting was 12×12 pieces of scrapbook paper and paper party plates. I wrapped juice boxes with brown paper and used white strips of tape to make them look like footballs. The centerpiece was a balloon bouquet that I purchased at the grocery store.

supply list
  • Wreath
    • wire wreath frame
    • 1 yard each-yellow, purple and football patterned ribbon
    • 1″ wide purple polka dot ribbon
    • 2″ wide yellow polka dot ribbon
    • 1/2″ wide football ribbon
  • Go Vikes Banner
    • 6″ triangles cut from both yellow and purple chevron scrapbook paper
    • 5 1/2″ triangles cut from both solid yellow and purple scrapbook paper
    • black scrapbook paper
    • 1/2″ purple polka dot ribbon (also used on wreath)
  • Purple People Drink Bottles
    • emptied and washed Starbucks Frappuccino bottles
    • 1/2″ wide football ribbon (also used on wreath)
    • purple chevron scrapbook paper (also used on banner)
    • yellow scrapbook paper (also used on banner)
    • yellow striped paper straws
  • Football Tower

Regardless of how the team performs on the field, the game day atmosphere was a win!.

Posted in My Minnesota

Gooseberry Falls and Split Rock Lighthouse State Parks

My husband grew up spending almost every weekend of his summer vacation camping or at the lake. I did not. Part of loving him as meant learning to love the things he is passionate about. As parents, we also think it’s important to share our passions with our kids and give them as many experiences as possible. Their first camping trip was when they were just 3 years old and 7 months old. We drove about three hours north of our home to Minnesota’s North Shore for 2 nights of camping at Gooseberry Falls State Park and a day trip to Split Rock Lighthouse State Park.

The bestest part about camping is everything camping.

Paxton Ament, age 3
Good morning from Gooseberry Falls State Park, MN
July 2013

We packed our camping gear and a ton of patience for this adventure. Our baby camping survival kit included; toys, sunscreen, bug spray, clothes for all types for any type of weather, oodles of snacks and a positive attitude. The Gooseberry Falls State Park campground afforded us easy access to the falls area. From the campground, the River View Trail is 1.25 miles one-way to the lower and middle falls.

Split Rock Lighthouse State Park is about 7 miles from Gooseberry Falls. On our second day, we drove to the lighthouse for foggy views of the lake and a misty trail hike.

Though it required more gear and we didn’t do any long hikes, our time at both Gooseberry Falls and Split Rock Lighthouse gave us the confidence to continue to explore the natural world with our young boys.

Posted in My Minnesota

George H. Crosby Manitou State Park

August 2019

One pack. Just one pack crammed with all you need to survive in the wilderness for a couple nights. It’s liberating and empowering if you’re willing to tolerate the latrine situation.

About two hours north of Duluth, MN on the North Shore sits a secluded and less visited state park called George H. Crosby Manitou (just Manitou for short). While most visiting the North Shore explore Gooseberry Falls, Split Rock Lighthouse and Tettegouche, a short journey off the highway led our family on our first backcountry backpacking experience.

We arrived at the park around 10:30am and set out on a 1.6 mile hike to the cascades area via the Humpback Trail. The Humpback Trail is a narrow, rugged trail up and over a variety of landscapes. Look for orange diamond markers to ensure you’re still on the trail. At one point, we found ourselves navigating a very rocky, dried river bed and got off course. It took us just over 2 hours, including the time it took to retrace our steps when we lost the trail for a bit, to reach the cascades. Here we found a flat rock and sat down for a little lunch of cheese, crackers and sausage and sliced apples. Tummies satisfied, we took the Middle Trail (0.8 miles) back to the Benson Lake Area where we would collect our packs for the short jaunt to our backcountry site.

We chose to camp for just one night, since this would be our boys’ first brush with remote wilderness camping. This was also the reason that we chose a backcountry site that was no more than a half mile from the parking lot. Our oldest son is 9-years- old so we purchased a 40L hiking backpack from him. This allowed him to carry his sleeping bag and clothes, all four camping pillows, our hammock, and a few odds and ends. For our 6-year-old, we stuffed his school backpack (he’s a bit small for a hiking pack and will likely inherit his brothers in a couple years anyways) with his sleeping bag and his clothes. Both boys carried water and a new stuffed friend we bought them at the state park visitor center where to bought our vehicle permit.

Meet Freedom the eagle and Hootie the owl on their very first backpacking trip.

An early afternoon arrival at our camp site allowed all of us time to unwind and disconnect. No phones or tablets. We chilled in the hammock, read and snuggled a new friend (Bridger only).

The remote camp sites on Benson Lake are located up on a ridge just above the lake. We find camp sites with access to water give the boys another venue to explore and typically make for nice evening strolls or sunset views.

Benson Lake- The Benson Lake Trail circles the lake and is short, mostly flat and made of almost entirely boardwalk (0.8 miles).

Even though our trip was just one night, we opted to make dehydrated meals and test the boys’ taste buds. We made a couple different entrees; sweet and sour rice and chicken, mac’ n cheese and chicken alfredo. One boy liked the meals and asked for more, the other survived on trail mix and Clif bars. I think we’ll still chalk it up as a win.

Overall, our boys say they enjoyed and experience and are looking forward to the next time we strap on backpacks and trek into some less traveled territory.

Backpacking is better than car camping because you’re just trying to survive.

Paxton Ament-age 9
Mr. Paxton Ament
Posted in My Minnesota

Interstate State Park

June 2019

Every summer our family packs up a tent and several tubs of gear and finds a state park to explore. This year we chose Interstate State Park near Taylor’s Falls, MN on the St. Croix River. The idea of exploring glacial potholes and floating in a canoe appealed to us and was just a short drive from home. Away we went.

Itinerary

  • Day 1
    • We arrived at our campsite about 2pm to set up our tent and make ourselves comfy. We reserved campsite #6 because it was on the river allowing the boys easy access to skip rocks or explore.
    • After getting settled we hit the River Trail to the Glacial Potholes Area of the park. It was an easy, 1.25 mile hike to the potholes with scenic views overlooking the river.
    • A mere 10,000 years ago melting glaciers made up of swirling sand and water carved out hundreds of potholes in the park. The boys enjoyed that they were able to walk down into one of them.
    • We hiked back to our site via the Railroad Trail, a paved path that follows an old railroad bed and then connects with the Sandstone Bluffs trail back to the campground.
    • We capped off our evening with s’mores and a sunset over the river.
  • Day 2
    • We went into town for a big breakfast at Chisago House Restaurant in Taylor’s Falls. We wanted full bellies before we set out on our seven mile canoe venture. Just around the corner from our campsite was Taylor’s Falls Canoe and Kayak Rental. Our $50 rental included the canoe, life jackets, paddles and a shuttle pick up from Osceola back to the campground.
    • The water was claim and the paddle effortless (at least for our son, Bridger). About 3 hours later, we met our pick-up van and were back at the campground. Time for ice cream!
Every successful canoe trip needs to be celebrated with ice cream.
  • Day 3
    • Time to tear down, pack up and head home to plan our next adventure
Posted in My Minnesota

7 Girls Day Away Ideas for Adventurers

Not into shopping and spas, gather some gal pals and set off for a day at a few unique and fun places that will have you and your friends talking for years to come. As a busy mom of two boys sometimes an entire weekend away gives me more anxiety than joy. It’s one of the reasons Girls Day Away has been such a pleasure. Here are a couple of adventurous ideas.

#1 Ax Throwing

Sort of a cross between darts and bowling, ax throwing venues have popped up across the state offering introductory sessions as well as league play. We found ourselves at Victoria Burrow https://victoriaburrow.com/on a recent girls outing. Lanes are reservable and on weekends especially, I’d recommend it. We got a quick tutorial from our guide on technique and mechanics and then we were free to throw as we pleased. It took several attempts, but after a few rounds we were sticking the blade in the wooden target more regularly. Victoria Burrow also has arcade games and a mini golf course as well as food and drinks. Maybe it would have been wiser to drink the jar of moonshine AFTER our ax throwing session.

#2 Curling

Like ax throwing, curling is sort of a cross between darts and bowling as well but this time on ice. Before stepping on the sheet I was like, “How hard can this be? I mean I don’t have to wear skates and all I have to do is coax this hunk of granite to the target. Piece of cake.” Hardly. John Shuster and team make it look easy. I was sweating trying to polish the ice in front of the rock convincing it to land on the button. Even though its challenging and a work out, it was a blast. Look for a Learn to Curl event at a local curling club and try your hand at the other game invented by the Scottish.

#3 Ice Castles

When the temperature dips it doesn’t mean your level of adventure has to. Look for an Ice Castle near you https://icecastles.com/. Makers of these millions of gallons of frozen water creations have erected castles in six locations across the United States and Canada. And they are popular. Book tickets in advance and bundle up for an icy adventure. The Ice Castles are built on site by “growing” tens of thousands of icicles each day, placing and watering them into frozen arches, tunnels and slides. It’s super cool. Our girls adventure was to the castle in Excelsior, MN for an after dark experience. One of the staff at the castle told us the best time to come was about an hour before dark so you can experience the castle during the daylight was well as under the lights. Ice Castle inventor, Brent Christensen, first made the castles for his kids to get them outside in the winter. As a middle-aged, mom who believes in embracing all four seasons, I’m glad he did.

#4 Dog Sledding

Nothing says, “I love winter” like mushing through the snow behind a team of Siberian huskies. On a Sunday afternoon, a friend and I ventured to Long Lake and Birch’s on the Lake Brew House for a brunch buffet and a sled dog ride put on by Silent Run Adventures. The food was tasty and the short sled ride offered us a taste of darting over the snow covered lake behind a team of dogs. We’d definitely do that again.

#5 Brews with your Crew

Taprooms and craft breweries are trending and so are events at these locations that get your gang together to try something new. I’ve made wreaths, painted pallets and done yoga while sampling artisan beers and connecting with friends. These events, though just for a few hours, leave me with a full heart as I’ve had time away from the daily grind to enjoy the company of others and a shared interest (sometimes that interest is just beer),

#6 Grape Stomp

I recently spent a sunny Sunday afternoon at Carlos Creek Winery at the annual Grape Stomp Festival. We hiked up our shorts and crushed it in the grape stomping competition, or at least we tried to. We didn’t stomp the most grapes the fastest, but we did sample some excellent wines and had a blast building stronger friendships. If you want to stomp grapes, you’ll have to plan ahead and reserve a time. Most time slots will sell out. If you just want to sample wine and eat cheese curds and pork nachos under the pergola while listening to live music, that’s an option as well.

#7 Sweat it Out

Friends that sweat together, stay together. That’s a saying, right? If not, then it should be. Our local community center hosted a Cardio Drumming sampler course to get people moving and introduce this work out trend. Several of us are hooked. A plastic tub, an exercise ball, some drumsticks and a good beat and we were banging out the rhythm of good health and good times with friends. If Cardio Drumming is not available where you live, how about Zumba? The point is to find an activity you haven’t done before and gather your gals to give it a try. I doubt you’ll be disappointed.

Inexpensive, quick and packed with fun these seven Girls Day Away ideas will hopefully leave you feeling refreshed and you might even find a new hobby participating in one of them.