Great last day of 2018! Lots of Monopoly, chess, puzzles, baking and playing in the snow!
Happy New Year!
(Love the colors with the new iPhoneXR - more on that later!!)
Great last day of 2018! Lots of Monopoly, chess, puzzles, baking and playing in the snow!
Happy New Year!
(Love the colors with the new iPhoneXR - more on that later!!)
I am honored to be the judge of the upcoming Film North Mobile Photography Competition!
The theme is “color” and anyone in the world can submit!
I will select 30 images that will be printed and displayed in FilmNorth’s Marsden/Gustafson Gallery for an exhibition January 19–February 28, 2018.
Up to 30 additional images will be selected by the juror for electronic exhibition on a gallery monitor. All selected photos will be archived on our website.
1st place: $250
2nd place: $150
3rd place: $100
Hope to see your photo submissions & possibly see you at the party in Minnesota in January!
I’ll be there! ❤️ Jill
This past weekend my family headed back up to Minnesota. I was there for work but it also was a great chance to see friends and family!
I am the Director of Art of Edina. We take community art and display it in public spaces.
Sometimes we also like to shine focus on a non-profit!
This weekend we did a project with many partners! We decided to use the space that Southdale Center donates to us to raise awareness of a great local non-profit called the Pinky Swear Foundation.
The Pinky Swear Foundation is an amazing organization that has been helping kids with cancer for over 15 years! It all started when a dad made a pinky-swear to his son who was battling cancer to help other kids in the same situation.
We enlisted the help of the Edina Football Association (EFA.) On Saturdays in the fall they have about 300 kids from 2nd grade through 5th grade come out to their fields and play flag football!
So on Saturday October 13, 2018 all 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th grade EFA players got to learn about the Pinky Swear Foundation and participate in a “hands on” Art of Edina project.
Two representatives from the Pinky Swear Foundation, Joe Zander and Erica Campbell, spoke to the kids about the organization and the importance of supporting friends, family and people in our community.
After the kids heard from Erica and Joe, they headed over to the “Art of Edina Station” where their hands were photographed doing a “pinky swear.”
The kids also received treats and hand-outs. Art of Edina had so many great helpers that day!
We were so lucky to have the help of volunteers from the Edina Service Organization as well as some great friends and family!
Art of Edina is currently working on editing all of the photos together to make a 25 foot artistic banner that will be displayed for 3 months at Southdale Center!
I am excited to share photos of the installation once it is up at Southdale! I can’t wait to see how all of the smaller photos look as one big artsy banner. My friend Paul Johnson is our designer and he is so wonderfully talented - I know it is going to look amazing.
Art of Edina is funded solely by Tradition Companies of Edina as a part of their Pass It On Initiative and I am honored to be a part of it!
Hello Hello dear friends!
The boys are in school and the giant project-list is slowly starting to diminish. We still have plenty of work left to do and quite a few unpacked boxes tucked in to our basement but we are starting to feel a little settled! Yay!!!
We are just wrapping up a month-long full remodel of our boys’ bathroom. The old bathroom was pink. Pink (moldy, 30 year old) carpet, pink tiles, pink toilet, etc…. Once that’s done I will probably miss the boys bursting through our bedroom door at 6am to use our bathroom!
We have really found a good place here and I would have to say that we are quite happy with the move. The neighborhood is just what we wanted. The schools are great. The people are so down to earth and friendly. And we are surrounded by kids!! My boys spent their summer playing outside. They’d bust in through the front door with bright red sweaty faces and big smiles - slam a glass of water and a snack and then run right back outside! Sleep. Repeat.
We really lucked out!
In the next few months I hope to share some photos of the new area as well as maybe a little peek of what we have done in our home! In the meantime - I just want to say thanks for supporting my family and me through this move and transition!
Hello! I am really excited to share that my family is about to start our next big adventure - maybe the biggest yet! We are moving to Wisconsin!
We may be totally crazy because we are quite happy here in Minnesota - wonderful schools, jobs and friends.
I guess we have reached a point where our tight little family is ready for another adventure! Even the boys surprised us with their enthusiasm. My husband got a great new job with the same company he works for now and I am excited to live close to my family and old friends.
So here we are. In about 4 weeks we will be moving to Wisconsin!
We have sold our home. (In a day! Thanks to Nan Emmer of Coldwell Banker Burnett for being a great realtor!)
We have bought a new home.
When we first started the process of buying a new home we were so excited and filled with dreams and hope! However - a little over a month later - we became worn down and exhausted. The home market in the new area is crazy! Homes are listed in the morning and sold by the evening.
We also had very bad luck with a realtor which led us to bad luck with houses. We made offers and they were accepted on two different homes. Each home revealed huge problems in the inspection. Both needed almost $100,000 in repairs! So we walked away from both homes and the realtor that tried to convince us to buy them.
My bit of buying a home advice: Make sure if you are ever hiring a realtor to buy a home that you hire one who acts like a “buying” agent and not a “selling” agent. Our original agent was in such a hurry for us to buy a home that she would try to overcome our concerns like she was the salesperson for the home we were viewing. My husband and I have been in sales for decades and we know the drill well. We learned that you need a realtor who is also critical of the homes you tour and is willing to voice that. I am so grateful for two dear friends - Joanna Todd of LW Reedy in Chicago, Illinois and Josh Zuehlke of Coldwell Banker Burnett in Minneapolis who spent a lot of time on the phone consulting me!
In the end, with our realtor friends’ consult, we unconventionally bought a house without a realtor. We used the realtor who was selling the house we wanted to also buy it on our behalf. She is a smart, classy realtor who sells over 80 homes a year and can handle a dual deal with no problems.
Our home is in a great location. Walking distance to school, the coffee shop, biking trails and more. It has space for me to have a home photography studio!
It is a 1970’s mod home that was designed by a well known Milwaukee architect named Ray Prell. He designed a home for my grandmother. He designed my parents’ home. And their cabin. So when we saw this home - we knew it was fate!
Some people would definitely call it a weird 70’s looking home.. but that’s exactly what I like about it! It is unique. Here are a few of my favorite parts:
I will be busy in the next few weeks prepping to move but I am really excited to take you along on this new journey. I hope to share photos from this new, beautiful area we will be exploring as well as a few DIY home projects, the set up of my new studio space and the general challenges that come with moving to a new state! (Hopefully there won’t be any! 😆)
Thank you so much for your continued support!
After a long winter it sure has been fun to travel to all of these warm weather destinations!
While the past two trips to Costa Rica and Puerto Rico were for my job as a photographer - our most recent trip was one hundred percent just for fun! I left my big DSLR and laptop at home and enjoyed time with family. These photos are 100% iPhone.. well - I guess the first one is 100% drone!
We got a great deal on airfare to Miami. I think it was because we bought our tickets early - before the holidays. We hadn't planned on taking a warm weather spring break trip but the cheap air fare enticed us. Our boys' number one bucket-list item has been to fish in the ocean so that also was a big motivator.
We flew in to Miami, rented a car and spent about 4 days in a rented VRBO in Key Largo which is an island about an hour away from Miami. We chose Key Largo because of its reputation as a prime ocean fishing destination.
On our first full day there we hired a private charter and spent the day fishing in the ocean. This was our family's big splurge of the trip. And we felt it was totally worth it. If you go to the Keys - plan on finding ways to get out on the water. Whether you do a fishing charter, scuba, snorkle, kayaks, or a sunset cruise - the highlight of the islands are the famous reefs and you need a water vessel to access them.
We stayed in a beautiful VRBO on Key Largo. It was part of a condo complex and was a good match for us.
There were swimming pools and a marina to fish in. There was some hurricane damage still evident. One pool was closed. An elevator was closed. We found debris - including a pocket knife - on the beach. There were also beaches nearby that were closed. I wouldn't say that this was a large deterrent though. I would definitely return to the same VRBO again if I was visiting Key Largo. It felt good to support an area that was still recovering.
The restaurants in Key Largo were soooo good! On the day we went fishing, we brought our fresh catch to a nearby restaurant called Skippers and they cooked it "Key Largo" style for us. It was some of the best fish I have ever had! We had so much leftover, we ate it for lunch the next day!
Another night we ate at a place called The Fish House. It was not fancy. It was old school. Some people might say it is a little cramped but i thought it was lively and wonderful! I had my favorite meal of the entire week. I tried a Seafood Pot Pie there that I have been craving ever since. It had huge scallops, shrimp, a lobster tail and more!
One evening we did a glass bottom boat ride at sunset. It was quite reasonable and a great way to see the reef. We rode with a company called Key Largo Princess Boats. We witnessed all sorts of colorful fish and sea life swim right under us!
We also rented kayaks and explored a mangrove area. We saw a freshwater crocodile and lots of beautiful birds!
Five days later, we returned to Miami. My husband dropped the two boys & me off at a hotel in South Beach. He then returned the rental car & he caught a flight home. He had to get back to work.
So it ended up being the boys and I in South Beach for 4 days! We had a great time!
Miami is such a feast of colors and flavors and architecture and interesting people.
My boys had never seen anything like it.
We spent most of our days at the ocean. Since there weren't a lot of beaches in the Keys - it was exciting for them to spend hours in Miami jumping the waves and digging for shells.
We also visited my favorite area - Wynwood Walls.
Blocks and blocks of fabulous street art!
We spent a bit of time at our hotel pool too. I really liked the hotel we stayed at. It is brand new and the staff truly went above and beyond. They were terrific! The hotel was called The Plymouth.
I felt very comfortable, welcomed and safe there as a mom alone with two boys.
One of my favorite parts was walking down to the ocean to see the sunrise. If you are ever in Miami - make a point to get to the beach for sunrise. It is a magical experience.
Overall - I would say that I really liked the way we split our trip into two parts - the Keys and Miami Beach.
I don't think I would want to spend a full week at either spot. The Keys were great - quiet and relaxing - but we weren't in a walkable area and there weren't any beaches.
Miami was walkable, colorful, vibrant and amazing but soooo expensive and urban. No quiet. No kids meals. $15 continental breakfasts. One morning around 7am we were walking to see the sunrise and we passed a cab with some well dressed youngsters who were returning from a long night out! Ha!
I loved both areas. I would recommend experiencing a combination of them in one trip! That way you get the best of both worlds!
Last week I traveled to Ponce, Puerto Rico on assignment with Architecture MN Magazine.
My assignment was to capture the humanitarian efforts of a group of Architecture students and faculty from Dunwoody college and the University of Minnesota.
I also hoped to capture the beauty and hardship of this US territory.
Puerto Rico already had a struggling economy before Hurricane Maria tore into the island six months ago.
The hurricane caused catastrophic damage and while some of the island has recovered, it is obvious that there is still a lot of work to be done.
It’s been six months since the hurricane. In the busier areas of the island jumbo green highway signs still lay twisted and bent alongside major highways. Stoplights at busy intersections are still not working. Light poles are bent. Giant windmills are missing their blades. Blue tarps still provide a makeshift roof for a smattering of buildings. Doors are boarded up - but it is hard to tell if they were already that way pre-Maria. Small herds of stray dogs run the streets.
When you venture a little deeper into the island - and visit some of the neighborhoods that were struggling before the hurricane - you really see the damage. Even six months later many people are living without water or power. Some houses look like no progress has been made since the storm tore through six months ago. Some of the residents cannot move forward until their insurance or relief funds give them approval.
I accompanied two Architecture professors from Dunwoody to visit one of these neighborhoods. We went there to talk with the locals, assess the damage and figure out how Dunwoody can help. They are working closely with the Neighborhood Housing Services and they are committed to helping rebuild this community.
Seeing a destroyed swing set and abandoned toys in a wrecked home really struck a cord with me. It left me wondering what else I can do to help.
That evening we joined the students and went on a kayak tour of a bioluminescent bay in Fajardo. Tiny organisms sparkled like underwater fireflies as we paddled under the stars. Magical!! Definitely one of the world’s greatest wonders!
I began to realize that the professors had planned for us to see some of Puerto Rico’s most devastated areas on the same day we saw some of its greatest beauty.
Quite a day. What an amazing island!
The next day we visited a Head Start school in Moca. The kids were so sweet and welcomed us with signs and gave us pins that represented their area flag. The Neighborhood Housing Services announced that they are committed to help rebuild the parts of the school that had been destroyed!
They plan to open a community computer center in this trailer.
The Dunwoody staff intends to support this project as well.
That evening I returned to my hotel in the town of Ponce.
The hotel was beautiful on the inside...
I took a stroll around beautiful Ponce to take in some street scenes. I felt very safe.
Puerto Rico is definitely a beautiful part of the world that should be on your bucket list. The architecture and colors are amazing!
As you wander the island, you see glimpses of how Puerto Ricans are feeling now. A little lost. A little forgotten...
And speaking of the people.. I haven’t even begun to talk about the people! They are SO incredibly friendly and have great pride in their island! One conversation I had over and over again with the locals was about the beauty of the island.
Everyone wants to make sure you see the beauty! A wonderful woman I sat next to on the airplane ride down even called me four days later to make sure I was having a good time and had seen the beauty in her island.
Of course the beauty is impossible to miss!
If you are considering a trip to Puerto Rico - go!! They’re open and ready for your visit! The major tourism areas are completely recovered. And they really could use your support.
I am very grateful for this opportunity. Thank you Architecture MN Magazine for this amazing job. Thank you to John Dwyer and Laura Cayere-King, the two Architecture professors from Dunwoody who hosted my stay and made me feel very welcome. I consider them dear new friends! And a big holla to all the Dunwoody students! 🙌🏼 I had so much fun with you all!
This is a little video from our time there. It was created by one of the students, Ryan Kelly, and includes a teeny bit of my drone footage. Great job Ryan!! Click this link to watch:
I have just returned from the most magical week in Nosara, Costa Rica.
I was honored to be hired as the photographer for the Pura Vida Retreat.
For one week each year three fitness professionals from Minneapolis rent out an entire resort and host the Pura Vida Retreat.
It is billed as a "luxury jungle resort" and I can confirm that they practice truth in advertising...
You are definitely in the jungle - surrounded by greenery with swinging monkeys, exotic birds and lazy lizards.
And you are also definitely immersed in a luxurious experience .. with a wonderful spa...
Gorgeous grounds filled with bamboo, flowers and waterfalls.
A very healthy selection of delicious meals! I made a little list of foods that I tried because they were sooo good. I came home inspired to keep up the healthy eating and make some of these at home:
Tofu kafta balls
Mushroom risotto with cous cous
Pan fried carrot cakes
Eggplant caviar (dip)
Tofu with vegetables
Red snapper ceviche
Shrimp salad inside half an avacado
Fresh Juices: watermelon, tamarind juice, papaya juice,
Grilled bananas, carmelized with ice cream
Beet salad with mayo and apples
Made-to-order omelet bar
A bar with fresh drinks. They used nearly half a pineapple for each Piña Colada.
And the most beautiful open air structures called shalas to practice yoga and other exercises.
It is also a short walk (or bike ride) to town and the beach.
However, my favorite part of the retreat was the people! Looking at this photo - I just want to run and hug every single person in that line. I miss my new friends!
We all settled into a routine during our week together...
First we'd wake up & attend one of the several exercise classes offered: Yoga with Jill W...
Barre with Adrienne
Total Body Resistance Exercise (TRX) Class
High Intensity Training (HIT) Class
or Spin Class with Jim (to name a few of the options!)
After class we would head straight to the buffet that was stocked with healthy food and great Costa Rican Coffee.
After that, we would spend the days doing whatever we liked.
A lot of the folks took surf lessons. My husband and I tried it and loved it.
Guests also went zip lining, horse back riding, shopping, had spa appointments, went on hikes, read books.. there was no shortage of things to do!
In the late afternoon there was usually a resortative exercise class option. Like a very slow stretchy yoga or a mat class featuring lots of stretching and essential oils.
We made a point of watching the sunset every night of our trip.
Evenings were spent eating seafood and other healthy options, drinking a little wine and doing a lot of laughing. Many of the nights had live music. I was in bed by 10pm nearly every night. Content after a full day.
On our final night, we all gathered by the ocean to form a circle and say our farewells. (I took this with my drone.) It was a magical way to end a magical week.
A lot of the folks on the retreat have already signed up for next year! My husband and I hope to go again. It is a life changing experience. It felt so good to concentrate our health for a week. We've been really inspired since we've returned home - exercising every day and making heathy meals with lots of veggies for our entire family.
From new friends to a healthier lifestyle, this is a trip that sticks with you long after you come home.
Thank you Pura Vida Retreat for this amazing opportunity!
IF YOU GO:
Pura Vida Retreat happens once a year in the spring.
2019 dates have been set and the resort has been reserved!
February 23 - March 2, 2019.
Delta and Sun Country offer direct flights from Minneapolis to Liberia, Costa Rica.
Once you arrive, it is a 2.5 hour ride from the airport to the resort. The retreat handles all of the arrangements.
You do not need to be "in shape" to attend this retreat!
And yes - you can drink the water!
There were couples and singles. Men and women. There were quite a few travelers who came on their own. No kids.
Ages ranged from 20's to 70's!
Treat yourself and make it happen!
Visit www.PuraVidaRetreat.org to learn more.
Last weekend was pretty much my "dream weekend" of photography! I was hired for three different jobs: The Great Northern Festival (see prior blog), the Art Shanty Projects AND the Minneapolis Kite Festival.
The Kite Festival has been around for years... 17 years to be exact!
It takes place on the frozen Lake Harriet just outside the bandshell.
This year it was the neighbor of the Art Shanty Projects.
Some people travel from all around the country to see the kites.
One of the largest kites at the festival costs over $30,000! Amazing!
In addition to a colorful array of kites in the air, there is a full-on celebration!
There were fires where you could roast marshmallows, music, horse drawn carriage rides, free tea and granola bars, food trucks, story time and crafts, and the opportunity to try out fat tire bikes and ice fishing!
It was a big colorful celebration of the people of Minnesota and our love of community and the outdoors!
It was an honor to partner with The Great Northern Festival and Target and spend last Friday exploring some of the Twin Cities' most exciting winter activities!
The Great Northern Festival encompasses many of the winter-themed events that occur over a 10 day span in the heart of winter. The collaborative celebration across St Paul and Minneapolis is all about embracing winter, getting outside and having fun! It is a way of showcasing how we do winter in the north!
Some of the Great Northern activities include the Loppet, the Winter Carnival in St Paul, the Vulcan Snow Park at the State Fairgrounds, horse drawn trollies, giant snow slides, an outdoor Winter feast and the US Championship Pond Hockey Tournament.
We spent the day at the US Pond Hockey Tournament on Lake Nokomis. There are 25 ice rinks with hockey games being played - on a frozen lake! It was pretty amazing. We loved being outside on a beautiful sunny day. (All that sun probably was not good for the ice though!) There was a DJ, food, and tons of people having fun. An electric atmosphere.
That evening we headed into St Paul and checked out the beautiful Ice Palace at the St Paul Winter Carnival. It was absolutely magical to me. Twinkle lights, music, and ice ice ice!
It was a wonderful day. We went to sleep with rosy cheeks and bellies filled with hot cocoa.
Thanks for the fun Great Northern Festival!!
Learn more on their site: www.thegreatnorthernfestival.com
Just in time for the Superbowl crowds, Explore Minnesota has created a colorful pop-up Art Wall gallery in downtown Minneapolis.
The rooms are Minnesota-themed and show off our great state during all 4 seasons. Each room was created by a local well-known artist.
My boys and I headed there last week for a sneak peek. They had a blast. Arlo especially loved it because they gave him a horn. Oy!
You can find 'Sota Pop at 500 Nicollet Mall in the Renaissance Square building in Minneapolis. The exhibit will be open through February 4th.
Hello! I just love working as the Art Shanty Projects photographer! Fresh air, high energy and lots of creative ideas. Community on ice!
It is such a great activity for families too.
In my previous post I wrote down a few logistics in case you'd like to go. You can read about festival dates, hours, food, bathrooms and policies by clicking here.
This post is a photo guide to all 20 of the shanties:
10,000 Lakes Twister Shanty: This eye-appealing shanty pays homage to the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Play Twister on ice and learn about our lakes!
Atlachinolli: The Fire & Water Shanty is a "Sculptural Performance" shanty that is a visually stunning tribute to an indigenous concept that hails from central Mexico.
The Archive Shanty: Some of the beloved Art Shanty artists from previous years are back and this year they're making you smile in the Archive Shanty. This Shanty will make you scratch your head in wonder at the "specimens" and laugh at the same time. Very clever!
BINGO! Shanty: Last year's Chef Shanty has a new roof and a new theme! A giant ball wheel has been installed and guests are invited to play a rousing game of Bingo! This is probably the only place in the entire world where you can play BINGO on a frozen lake!
Cinema Shanty and Ice box Studios: Watch a Zoetrope in action and then slide over next door to create one on your own!
The Department of Everything Else: Exactly as named. A home base for many of the performance artists and small groups.
Fyr Minnesota Shanty: An off-kilter plaid lighthouse with a rainbow stairwell and bird-themed interactions on the second floor. This shanty was created by teens from Leonardo's Basement!
Get In Feel With Your Touchings: Didn't everyone love this game as a kid? Put your hand in if you dare! You may find out that you are the one being probed!
The Lonely Whale Shanty: A fascinating shanty and story. Inspired by the true story that scientists have been recording a lonely whale's calls in the Pacific Ocean for over 20 years now. Enter the belly of the whale and learn more.
Monarch Butterfly Migration Shanty: This colorful shanty provides eye candy and warmth in the grey of winter. It is so fun to learn about the path of the Monarch while on a frozen lake. Take one of their butterfly bikes out for a spin!
The Notary Shanty (or, The Cold Hard Truth Shanty) My son learned a lot in this fun faux wood-paneled office on ice. He had never heard of a notary! He even made a declaration and had it notarized. The people working the shanty are actual notaries! Word is a couple got married there on Sunday. For real!
Phone Valet This little shanty encourages you to leave behind modern connectivity and enjoy some shanty time in analog form.
Revolution Shanty: This shanty was created by artists and students at Southwest High School. It looks at Minnesota's history of revolution and invites you to write your own revolution poetry.
Sonic Shanty: Another great shanty created by returning ASP artists. This shanty invites you to interact with the sounds of a frozen lake. An added bonus is the experience of light reflected from ice. Beautiful in sight and sound.
Team Engine at Cooperation Station: The game shanty. This was my son's favorite shanty. We stayed there for nearly an hour! We played a puzzle that truly had us "puzzled." My son and I left without solving this difficult puzzle that involved all 4 of our wrists in rope. We asked them not to tell us the solution so we could try again next weekend! A fun for all ages shanty!
The Theatre of the Tiny Clandestines: We heard loud laughter coming from the inside of this ornate shanty. I can't wait to return and witness one of their 5-10 minute storytelling skits.
The Thwing: Group swing on the Thwing! To witness 4 people simultaneously swinging on a frozen lake is sure to make you smile! Give it a try! Take the Thwing for a swing! It is fun for all who dare!
The Tomb of the Unknown Minnow: Enter the Tomb of the Unknown Minnow. Pay your respect to one of Minnesota's most popular fishing baits and thank him/her for their service.
Twin Cities Sailing Club's (or TCSC) Sea Shanty: This shanty rocks. Literally. Feel the motion of the lake even when it is frozen.
The Welcome Shanty: The ASP has a new Welcome Shanty this year! It has indoor and outdoor space. This year it includes a large board that has a map and performance schedule posted. Be sure to grab an official program here. This is also where you can become a member and help support this free festival! Members have access to private evening events and other perks!
Why Not Knit! Enter this shanty to meet friendly faces who enjoy teaching others about their craft. This shanty is colorful and cozy and full of interesting stories!
Wish Factory: Make a wish, write it down and put it into the Wish Factory Machine where it is transformed into a token! This cozy shanty is decorated with all things wish-centric: genie lamps, birthday candles, the first star, coins in a fountain, wishbones and more.
And thats a wrap on my photo tour of the 2018 Art Shanty Projects.
Hope to see you out on the ice this year!
Every year 20 colorful ice shanties pop up in a grouping on a frozen lake somewhere in Minnesota. It used to be White Bear Lake. Before that it was Medicine Lake. This year -- it is on Lake Harriet!! Located just a bit south of Downtown Minneapolis and right in the heart of the Twin Cities.
To me this festival IS the heart of the cities. It is us at our best! Braving the elements and celebrating what makes us unique. I am so happy to have it so close to the cities this year.
This village of shanties may have been inspired by the shanties fishermen use.. but the resemblance stops there! These are interactive shanties are created by artists. When you enter an art shanty - you enter another world! You are invited to enter each one of these amazing shanties. This really is a Minnesota Winter "Must Do." Get out there while you can!
The Art Shanty Projects are located on Lake Harriet in Minneapolis. They're on the ice - about a block or two in front of the Lake Harriet Bandshell.
They are open every weekend 10am-4pm - no matter the weather! Saturday's & Sunday's from January 20th through Feb 11th, 2018
Attending the Art Shanty Projects is FREE and great for families.
They would love your support. Become a "member" and be invited to their member-exclusive events including an evening on-ice party!
Dogs are welcome to visit - but not enter the shanties.
Parking: Is more difficult this year than other years because the festival is in the cities. Space is tighter and attendance is higher. Try heading there early to get a good spot. The official parking is in the Lake Harriet Bandshell lot and the surrounding neighborhoods. Don't forget to be creative! You can easily find a spot on another side of the lake or even near Lake Calhoun & walk or ski right across the frozen lake! If you do this, be sure to dress appropriately. Wind chills are much more prevalent out on an open lake. It can be windy in the middle of the lake even on a calm day.
Bathrooms: Go before you come. Haha. I know for most of us that isn't going to suffice. There are about 8-10 Port-A-Potties out in front of the bandshell and that's it for bathrooms! Honestly - once you get over the initial strangeness of "going" outside in below freezing temps, it really isn't that bad.
Kid Tips: Parents, prepare like you are going sledding. Dress your kids in tons of layers. Consider leaving no skin exposed. (My sensitive-skinned son had windburn from being out there on a cloudy calm 30 degree day!) Bring snacks and water. Hand warmers if you like. There is NO indoor aspect to this festival. And - you have a gigantic frozen lake as your playground! Bring a ball, bring a sled, a kite, ski's, a picnic, make a day of it! I've seen many forms of little-one transportation: sleds, Bob strollers, backpacks and bike trailers. It depends on the snow/ice conditions but most of these items seem to work well. If you're bringing a stroller - grab a few extra blankets.
Food: Last weekend there were two food trucks there. Most of the time there will be a food truck or two there. I believe that as this festival plants its roots in the cities - more and more food trucks, bathroom and parking solutions will appear!
Wear Boots! This past weekend it was a lovely 30 degrees out and I saw people out there with frozen toes in tennis shoes. No matter how warm it is remember that you are walking on a frozen lake! Walking on ice is coooold on the feet!
I am honored to be the official Art Shanty Photographer. This is my third year and I just love it! I will be also creating a guide to each shanty and will have that out sometime this week as well! You can learn more on their site: www.ArtShantyProjects.Org
See you out on the ice!!
I am SO EXCITED to say that the Shine On Project has come to a close... and in three short months -- we brought in nearly
When I started this project a little over three months ago, I had hopes of maybe raising $2,000 -- and our amazing community blew that away! This means that about 800 new solar powered headlamps will be given to refugees in the Nakivale Refugee Settlement in Uganda!
Refugees who are living in darkness without electricty will be able to walk safely at night, use less toxic and dangerous fuels in their homes, use lights to farm, sew and read! These small lights will have a large impact!
I may have started this project and been the "mouthpiece" (that's my dad's favorite knick-name for me) but I certainly do not feel like this is "MY" project anymore! It is the product of an amazing community!
THANK YOU: I had a lot of great friends do a lot of hard work. Wonderful Karla worked tirelessly to get us some major press coverage. My dear friend Adrienne taught a donation-based yoga class and raised $800! My friends Kassi, Laura and Nathan each had small private fundraising parties. They put a lot of time and energy into those parties and raised a lot of money! My good friend Darbiene asked all of her friends to donate in lieu of birthday gifts. She was an avid supporter - always checking in to see how "we" were doing -- and making homemade thank-you ornaments for her friends who donated! Just amazing. My friends Sarah, Kaha, Melissa, Nora, Paul and Amy all blasted their social media and contact lists. Tracy shared a photo a day for 12 days teaching others about the project. My friend Laura connected me with a fundraiser night at a local store - and her husband Brad and his company Tradition acted as a main sponsor.
Also - a special thank you to the good folks at American Refugee Committee. My project added hours of work for Jenna, Beth, Chris and Jon. They were so encouraging and wonderful to work with. And thank you to Kevin Kuster and Watts of Love for supporting this project and giving us access to their solar powered headlamps!
So many blessings have come from this project.
I've been able to witness the selfless, good-hearted intentions of so many wonderful people in my community. It was a joy to see my friends be supported by their friends. It really is a testament to their characters and our community! So much positive energy and good will!
There was also a large amount of donations that came from people around the world who learned about the project through social media channels and Kare 11 news coverage. I would like to say thank you to all who contributed! You are also a large part of this!
I hope to someday share some follow up stories about the lights being put into action in Uganda! I know there is ARC staff gearing up to travel there soon with several boxes of lights!
As far as the Shine On Project goes... it is closed for now. I am going to take some time to think about what to do next! Keep it going?! Start something new!?! It has been so much fun!
Thank you so much for supporting my project & helping refugees in Uganda.
We just wrapped up a weekend "staycation" at the new Great Wolf Lodge in Bloomington, Minnesota.
My family was invited to stay there as a part of their Press Weekend.
This was our room. It is the most common type of room on the property. Two queens, a full-sized pull-out couch, table, microwave and fridge. The room was clean, comfortable and had plenty of space for our family.
While on a press tour, I also got to see an example of one of their "suites." I know my kids would go bananas over this! It has a little bunk room inside of the regular room. The bunk room had a log cabin feel - with two sets of bunk beds.
Great Wolf Lodge took over the former Waterpark of America Hotel site located near the Mall of America.
If you were to just walk in and glance around - you would see that the waterpark layout is pretty similar to the way it used to be. They did add a new slide and it was my family's favorite!
However - after spending some time in the park (and hotel) you start to notice that they did make plenty of changes!
The most prominent change is that you are required to be an overnight hotel guest in order to use the waterpark.
Wow what a difference that rule has made! The weekend we stayed there - all roughly 380 finished rooms were booked. (They still have about 75 more rooms to finish and make available to the public.) This means that we stayed at the hotel while it was at full capacity. (Although it will get a little more "full" as they finish the rooms.)
Even though the hotel was at capacity - the waterpark had plenty of space for us! No long lines for waterslides or inner-tubes. We were able to grab chairs anytime we wanted. We were able to secure a locker ($15 a piece but you can go in and out all day.) There weren't any lines for food or bathrooms. Towels were readily available. Everything was clean - the staff was able to keep up!
We were really impressed with the life guards too. There were a lot of them. They do not stop moving. They slowly walk their stations and continually scan the water. You will not find any lifeguards checking their phones or staring into space here! It was so comforting because our kids are constantly on the move. We were very vigilant about watching our boys but it sure was nice to know there were a few extra sets of eyes looking too!
Truthfully - we are a family that usually shies away from the popular places at popular times (like a waterpark on a winter weekend or holiday.) We like going to places during their "off seasons" because there are less crowds and better prices... However now that we know we stayed at the Great Wolf when they were at capacity - and it wasn't too congested - I feel like this is a viable option!
The only times I saw lines were at check-out and check-in. The lobby is madness then. Try to come early or late to avoid that!
A few mom friends had told me that they had been deterred by the cost of the rooms... Although yes the price does feel high, it starts to make more sense when you factor in that access to the guest-exclusive water park is included.
All guests are welcome to arrive to the park at 1pm on their day of check-in (even though you can't check in to your room until 4.) And you are welcome to stay in the park all the way until it closes in the evening on the day of check out. If you make full use of those options - you are getting A LOT of waterpark time for all the members of your family included in the cost of your room!
And.... there's SO much more to do than the waterpark! Guests are able to buy passes that include most of these adventures.. like rock climbing.
A three-story high ropes course
Plenty of restaurant options! Delicious home-made pizza.
A self-serve old fashioned candy shoppe!
The activity my boys loved the most was the MagiQuest game!! Absolutely perfect for kids their age. Upon arrival the boys were each given a magic wand and registered their made-up usernames into the Magiquest system. There were Magiquest stations all around the hotel. Some obvious and some hidden. The boys were sent on missions through the hotel to find hidden crystals, gems, potions. They had to fight a dragon and save pixies. It had a very Harry Potter feel to it and it was just MAGICAL for a little boy. They begged to bring their wands to every meal. They wanted to play right up until bed time and again the second they woke up. When it was time to check out - they still had more to play. The hotel saves their progress - so next time we come the boys can pick right back up where they left off!
In addition, there was an arcade, a place to mine for minerals and gems, a kid salon spa, a buffet-style restaurant (that was quite good), a pizza restaurant, a snack bar, a bar, a Dunkin Donuts, a Ben & Jerry's, story time, yoga, arts and crafts, a build-your-own-stuffed-animal station and more. There was so much to do that my six year old actually took a nap!
A really neat treat for the adults was the "Wine Down" service. You fill out a little card and place it on your door handle. A little after the kids' bed time, you will receive a text message (they know better than to knock and wake up the kids!) and a little tray with wine and treats will be waiting for you outside your door. You know only a parent who has experienced that feeling of being "stuck" in a silent hotel room after an 8pm kid bed time could invent such a great service!
Overall - we loved it. My husband and our little Magi's had a magical weekend. We actually forgot we were still in Minnesota!
Thank you SO MUCH Great Wolf Lodge for the wonderful family get-away!
You can learn more on their site:
Galleria Edina asked me to take a few photos and share what I think makes Galleria Edina a unique destination for holiday shopping.
I always think of Galleria as the place to find a little bit of Europe right here in Minnesota!
I am inspired by the wide range of uncommon items you can't find anywhere else in Minnesota. Backpack purse by Louis Vuitton, leggings by LuLuLemon and wedge boots by Sorel found at Trail Mark.
Galleria really shines during the holidays!
I just love this "uncommon find" from Trail Mark in Galleria. These boots have become my go-to shoes for the winter. Weatherproof wedge boots. Super comfortable & in my favorite buffalo plaid!
The great black and white graphic wall was a temporary installation in their new expansion area.
Thank you so much for this fun opportunity Galleria! It was an honor to be #InspiredByTheUnCommon
On the first weekend of November my son Arlo and I “jetted” off to Denver on a 4 day trip! We were traveling as guests of Sun Country Airlines as a part of their Explorer program. They asked us to help them show off the Mile High destination city!
Last spring Sun County announced their Hometown Lakes Project. They renamed and redecorated over 20 planes as a way for the local airline to pay homage to their home state, Minnesota and its 10,000+ lakes! Each plane is named after a well known Minnesotan lake and has custom artwork in the interior created by Mark Herman.
Arlo and I were excited to see that we were riding the plane named after Lake Harriet on our way out to Denver. That is the lake closest to our home - and it is connected to Lake Calhoun. Arlo’s middle name is Calhoun after the beloved lake that his family loves to run and walk.
When we arrived in Denver - we were greeted with balmy beautiful weather.
We took a long walk through the city & were surprised to see that the fall colors were still prevalent. Doesn’t matter what city or state we are in - Arlo’s top priority is always playing football in a park!
We ended our long walk with pizza at Marco’s Coal Fired Pizzeria (which I would definitely recommend) and headed back to our hotel to get some rest. We stayed in the lovely Magnolia Hotel located in the heart of Denver. The staff was especially charming with Arlo and made him feel like a very special little guest.
The next morning we took our time and grabbed some coffee and hot chocolates to go...
Merely one hour later the skyscrapers of downtown Denver were a distant memory and we were up in the mountains breathing in that magical mountain air!
Lucky for us - Loveland Ski Hill had opened for the season earlier that week. They had two chairs open and plenty of terrain that was just right for Arlo and I!
If you are ever contemplating skiing out west with young kids - Loveland is a great destination to consider. It is smaller than the more well-known resorts like Aspen, Breck and Vail.. which is great for families that like to cruise the greens and blues and save money on lift tickets!
It is also one of the closest hills to downtown Denver.
It was a perfect fit for Arlo and I! Fabulous weather that day as well!
Arlo was SO proud to say that he skied in "real mountains!"
That night we relaxed back at our hotel in downtown Denver.I had my favorite meal of the trip at the Magnolia restaurant Harry’s. Pumpkin ravioli in brown butter sauce topped with pecans and scallops. What a great end to a memorable day!
Arlo and I spent the next few days exploring.
We enjoyed the street art in Denver..
A day trip up to Boulder..
The Chautauqua Park in Boulder provided a stunning backdrop for some more football tossing.
It also was a great place to hike!
We saw Elk and ate pizza in Estes Park, Colorado. Poppy's Pizza and Grill lives up to the hype! Delicious!
We drove up the mountains a little further and came upon a snowstorm in Rocky Mountain National Park!
Overall we had a wonderful time! Besides the day of skiing most of our time in Denver was unplanned... I think we ended up doing a lot more activities spontaneously than we would have if we had planned everything out.
For example, when we were in Boulder I asked Arlo if he'd prefer to walk down Pearl Street to shop and eat or see more mountains. His feet were tired from football and a big hike so he chose to ride in the car and see the mountains. Off we went on an adventure to Estes and Rocky Mountain National Park. That's a lot in one day!
However the car ride to Estes (only about 30 minutes) provided some nice downtime after a long hike in the sun in Boulder.
It all worked out so great! After a nice rest in the car & some lunch - he was recharged!
It seems that we tend to cover a lot more ground and feel that great sense of adventure on days when we are spontaneous and free of expectations!
My favorite part of Denver is the proximity to a wide range of adventures! Art museums, shopping, fine dining, skiing, a college town and a national park all within an hour or two of the city!
This was a special experience for my youngest son and me that we will remember for a long time. I've already got some of these photos hanging on our walls. So happy to have Sun Country as our hometown airline!
Makes for a magical trip! A big thank you to Sun Country for sponsoring this trip!
Seriously. It doesn't get much better than this!
I was invited by the Door County Visitor Bureau to spend a few days in Door County, Wisconsin photographing the fall colors.
This was a total dream job for me!
Door County is a peninsula that is about 70 miles long. In that small area - it has 5 state parks, several small towns, an airport, over 30 islands, 11 lighthouses, 300 miles of shoreline and a plethora of wineries, orchards, specialty shops and golf courses!
All year long it is beautiful -- but fall in Door County is what photographers dream about! So many colors! Lovely fall light and weather. It is ideal! Within hours of returning home - I was already researching a family trip there next fall... I want to share this amazing area with them! (Not sure I can wait all the way until next fall though!)
The first morning I was there - I got up early and watched the sunrise over Lake Michigan at the site of the US Coast Guard Light House in Sturgeon Bay.
Afterwards I went to the Jacksonport Farm Market. I was immediately impressed with the industrious residents of Door County. As much as Door County is known for its natural beauty - it is also known as the "home of home-made." Door County is famous for its wines, jams, apple sauces, pies, fudge, ice cream, bakeries, cheese and so much more! At the market, farmers were lined up side by side with artisans and crafters.
You could tell they all had a passion for their craft and a passion for the area. I met a lot of wonderful folks.
I "accidentally" left with an armful of homemade breads: a loaf of chocolate zuchinni, lemon poppyseed, rhubarb and a large loaf of white bread that my husband later said tasted like a donut.
I also bought fresh raspberries to nosh while I explored, homemade applesauce made with three types of apples, jam, homemade wild choke cherry syrup for pancakes, a bag of apples and a bag of freshly made homemade soaps!
There's something so special about buying your food straight from the person who made or grew it. I've been home for a week now and I think about the cute couple that I sold me their Wild Choke Cherry Syrup each time I pour a little of it on our pancakes.
Starting the day with the farmer's market also means you are shaking hands with some of the friendliest locals before you explore the area. It made me feel so welcomed -- and that feeling stayed with me as I spent the day driving through Door County. The locals even gave me a few tips on where to explore!
I spent the next few days driving the Door County Coastal Byway.
The time flew by in the best sort of way -- I stopped at will whenever something grabbed my attention.
I climbed to the top of the Cana Island Lighthouse.
The recently restored lighthouse was built in 1869 and is considered Door County's most iconic lighthouse.
I drove by miles of bucolic farm scenes like this one near Kangaroo Lake.
I did a peaceful 4 mile hike in at Whitefish Dunes State Park & checked out the sand dunes that line the lake Michigan shoreline.
This is the view from "Old Baldy" - the tallest dune in Whitefish Dunes State Park. It rises 93 feet above lake level.
I stopped for rest breaks at cute little coastal towns like Sister Bay, Ephraim and Bailey's Harbor.
I stopped at local attractions like this one - Bailey's Harbor Range Lights at Ridges Nature Center.
I bought a Swedish ski sweater at a restaurant that had goats living on the roof!
I had a glass of wine at a winery and grabbed some sweets snacks at an orchard.
I climbed to the top of this tower in Potawatomi State Park. I had a few moments of doubt on the second-to-the-top platform. It was windy. I was alone in the woods. Then I remembered the saying "Do at least one thing that scares you each day" so I turned up my music on my headphones and charged up the remaining stairs. Albeit I white-knuckled the railing as I took in the view from the top. Mission accomplished!
I also found a little time to sit and rest and read a book.
It was a perfect fall get-away!
I used the largest, most-southern town of Sturgeon Bay as my basecamp. It was great place to relax each night after very active days spent exploring. I stayed at the Stone Harbor Resort and would recommend it. It was within walking distance of the main strip - 3rd Avenue which is the home to many charming shops and great restaurants.
I had a little fun when I noticed one of my skirts matched the Third Avenue Playhouse's facade in Sturgeon Bay!
If you would like to someday go on a great fall get-away (or any time of year really) - you can't go wrong with Door County!
I can't wait to bring my family there!
A big thank-you to Door County for this amazing opportunity!
2.5 hours from Milwaukee
4-5 hours from Chicago
5 hours from Minneapolis
Door County Information: www.DoorCounty.com