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July 30, 2011
St. Germain Liqueur

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A spirit made from bushels of fragrant, white flowers.  How perfectly Summer!

For years I bought sparkling elderflower water from my local co-op (Mississippi Market).  One sad day, it was no longer on the shelves.

Then I read about St-Germain liqueur and began a quest to find it.  At first, it wasn’t easy but of late it’s become so popular that I can find it at most liquor stores and many local bars and restaurants.

As with most liqueurs, I prefer mine simply mixed with tonic.  The flavor of St-Germain is a bit hard to describe — essence of an impossibly sweet grapefruit is the how I think of it. Their website also mentions hints of passionfruit, pear, and lemon.

The folks at St-Germain are very proud of their process.  No more than 50 men in the world are responsible for hand-picking the elderflowers and transporting them by bicycle. Each bottle has a label denoting the year in which the flowers were picked. As they state, “…we can safely say that no men will be wandering the hillsides of Poland this spring gathering wild potatoes for your vodka.”

Maybe that’s my next pursuit.  I’ll offer to take up the bike of one of those 50 men and ride through the alps gathering flowers by the armfuls.

Local source: Thomas Liquors in St. Paul


Aprosio & Co.

May 18, 2011

Aprosio & Co - FirenzeOur dearest friends are off to Italy this week — Venice and small towns nearby — for a memory-making trip with family. It’s got me longing for all things Italian. Sean and I returned to Italy a couple of years ago for our 10th anniversary and spent half our time in Florence where I picked up one of my favorite keepsakes: a bracelet from Aprosio & Co . It’s a simple bangle that’s crocheted with light green, light-catching beads. It has the perfect amount of stretch and makes the simplest outfit just a little more special.  Two others I covet:

A Mind with Wings: The Story of Henry David Thoreau

February 6, 2011

Each Sunday, as our youngest is in choir practice, we spend time in the libraries of Unity Unitarian Universalist Church in St. Paul. One day I picked up this book, A Mind with Wings: The Story of Henry David Thoreau by Gerald and Loretta Hausman, in the Children’s Library thinking it might be nice for my oldest daughter.  Instead, I’ve now spent three Sundays immersed in its pages.

While the intended audience is 4th-8th graders, I would recommend this book to any adult who wants to spend just a few hours refamiliarizing yourself with Thoreau. It’s a fast read, lyrical, not at all dumbed down. It leads you so well into Thoreau’s world that you begin to think of him in the present tense — how he thinks, what he feels. And, as with any well-written biography, even if you already know the mark Thoreau made on the world it makes you truly want to know what’s going to happen to him next. Here’s an excerpt:

One day at his grandmother’s farm in Concord, Henry saw something that made such an impression on him that it stayed with him for the rest of his life. His grandmother took Henry for a walk through the meadow and into the woods. There in the secret envelope of the hills was a great blue-green pond, set in the darkness of the forest. It astonished Henry that something so grand could be so hidden and yet so available to him once he was there.

The place was so quiet that the screech of a lone jaybird made Henry jump and hold tight to his grandmother’s hand. For a long time the two of them stared into the solitude of the place, until it gradually became their friend.

As soon as he could write, Henry picked up one of his father’s pencils and put down the name of this magical pond, this “eye in the woods,” as he called it.

“Walden Pond,” his grandmother had said.

Henry wrote the words and spoke them in his head. They were bright as the sun and dense as shadow, sweet like maidenhair fern and bitter as rotten birch.

In the words “Walden Pond” Henry felt his grandmother’s hand, and the big blue eye staring at him, asking “Who are you?”

Sense and Sensibility

January 28, 2011
Sense and Sensibility

photo from

Sean’s had a bugger of a cold for the past week.  Now I’ve got it and I’m miserable and making everyone else miserable, too.

My standard remedy: Sense and Sensibility. I always seem to break out this DVD when I’m under the weather. Maybe it’s Emma Thompson’s misery and ordinariness. Maybe it’s Alan Rickman’s chivalry and good-guyness. Maybe it’s the fact that Kate Winslet still has cheeks and Hugh Grant is still hot. It’s probably Emma Thompson’s great screenplay.

Whatever. The movie’s starting and I need my pillow.

(Dishy note that’ll change how you view the movie:
Since 2003, Emma Thompson has been married to Greg Wise — the actor who plays Willoughby.)

Ikea Sheepskin Rugs

January 28, 2011
Ikea Sheepskin Rug

photo from

How do I love thee, Ikea sheepskin rug?
Let me count the ways.

1. You are a welcome barrier between cold hardwood floors and just woken feet;
2. You are a slipcover, bringing warmth to modern plastic desk chairs;
3. You are my little ones’ curl-up spot;
4. You are Ace the dog’s silent companion;
5. You are a decorative element to hide the permanent marker on my upholstery; and
6. After several years of too much love, your $39.99 price tag allows me replace you with a clone of your former self (and to get a lingonberry soda while I’m at it).

Rosebud Salve

January 22, 2011

NYC-based stylist and all around beautiful person Jessica Zindren introduced us to Smith’s Rosebud Salve years ago and it’s become a household staple.

On days as cold as these (-15 degrees and counting) it provides comfort to chapped lips, sore noses, and dry elbows. The Smith’s company touts myriad additional uses, from curing blemishes to healing diaper rash. The blue and white apothecary-style tin feels good in your hands and the scent is just enough rose to be calming, not cloying.

Local boutiques carry Rosebud Salve from time to time, and you’ll always find it at Sephora.

The Style Council

January 19, 2011

The Style CouncilSean’s Dad recently gave him his old record player and bunch of great albums, mainly from from the ’60s and ’70s. We’ve been augmenting the collection with vinyl old and new from Hymie’s Vintage Records at 3820 East Lake St. in Minneapolis (look for a more in-depth post soon).

This album is one of MM’s favorite Hymie’s purchases: The Style Council: My Ever Changing Moods. Beyond the two catchy singles (the title cut and “You’re the Best Thing”), there are wonderfully jazzy instrumentals. The album overall is really worth a listen — it’ll be even better than you remember.