Surviving the Winter Months

Just curious. How do you survive the winter? I know this may be premature for some of you. And, maybe some of you aren’t crazy enough to live in a climate where the winter months can be excruciating and long.

Here’s what I love about the winter months.

  1. Snowshoeing
  2. Hot Cocoa with lots of marshmallows
  3. Good Books
  4. Cuddling with my kids—fur kids—Pearl and Miss B

Here’s a shot from last year! Can’t wait to snowshoe in WhiteWater State Park. My husband insisted on buying the old school snowshoes for us.

What I love about winter

Snowshoeing Haiku

Crunch, says the snow.
Crisp air burns my senses.
Daring winter months.

Does anyone have a winter reading list to share? 

~Nicole

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November is in Full Force

What’s up November?

A few days behind…

My first piece for the Rochester Women wine column is coming out in November. The article features Dessert Wines. The latest edition hasn’t been posted on the website. When it’s available I will share it right here at The Whispering Pen.

My first article for Radish Magazine, a healthy living magazine, is available today. The article is about the healing power of Reiki.

I donated a painting to a foundation called Hello Gorgeous. It is a non-profit organization that provides complimentary, professional makeovers and cosmetic education to all women battling all cancers.

A woman from St. Charles is getting a make-over and the ladies hosting it wanted to have a painting for her friends and family to sign.

Hello Gorgeous painting I donated to the non-profit organization.

Denise and I are hosting another Wine & Canvas Event on November 15th. This is our fourth event! We are painting a Rustic Tree. Here’s a sneak peek!

Wine & Canvas Rustic Tree

Rustic Tree Haiku

Off in the distance
a tree is drenched in rich hues.
Winter skies are near.

I’ll be traveling to a few local wineries for the next edition of Rochester Women Magazine. We are featuring Sparkling Moscato and Sparkling Cider.

And finally, what am I reading? A true crime book by Anne Rule, The Stranger Beside Me: The shocking inside story of serial killer Ted Bundy.

The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule

I literally went to Barnes and Noble and asked an associate for a book that would scare the bejeezus out of me. I told her that I wanted to be scared to go to sleep at night! I love all things creepy.

Oh, there will be several haiku poems to round out the month! Here’s to a great start to the week!

What’s everyone reading?

~Nicole

Comfort Food to the Rescue

A disaster at work, a melt down after ruining one painting for Wine and Painting, four writing assignments, two events for The Press and the Blacklight Bubble Party over the weekend has left me a little under the weather. Nothing major yet, hoping my healthy body plows through the head congestion and cold chills.

Since I wasn’t feeling well last night, I opted for comfort food instead of a four mile run. Not exactly what I had in mind, but I am sure my feeble muscles enjoyed laying on the couch with the book 24 Hours by Greg Isles.

The comfort food made me a little nostalgic last night. I cracked open a can of Vegetarian Vegetable, by Campbell’s, and toasted a grilled cheese sandwich with wheat bread, butter and Muenster cheese.

I felt like a grade school student eating in the cafeteria. Except the cafeteria grilled cheese was always made with stale white bread…and the cheese…well that’s questionable. The kitchen staff always served grilled cheese with tomato soup. But, by the time I sat down to eat, the tomato soup was always cold. The kitchen staff insisted on filling the bowls and putting them on the long dining tables as kids lined up to pay for lunch.

And because the Haiku Challenge has me thinking in short bursts, I thought a haiku from last night’s dinner would be appropriate.

Comfort Food

Haiku Challenge

Seeking remedies.
Warm and toasty bread and cheese.
Hints of nostalgia.

What is your favorite comfort food dish?

~Nicole

The Beauty in Whitewater State Park

Friday was a productive day. And though I haven’t had time to post any haiku poems in the last couple of days, I am ready to make up for lost time.

I left work at 1:30 on Friday and went to Cabin Coffee. I had a bowl of soup for lunch and wrote an article from the event I covered Thursday evening at the local elementary school. The event was Bingo for books. There were about 40 elementary school students with their families playing Bingo. The winners of Bingo were able to select a book of their choice. It was refreshing to see little bookworms so excited about reading.

I finished the article and cut lines for the photos and sent them to my editor. After a working lunch (which is how I spend most lunches) I went home and started a painting. I have another Wine & Canvas event coming up in October. Actually, I have two in October, one the first weekend in November and another one on December 12th. I finished the background of one of the paintings and decided a hike would be the perfect way to round out the day.

Since Whitewater State Park is close in proximity (and it’s gorgeous this time of year), I decided to hike the Dakota Trail. It was a beautiful fall afternoon. I wore a long sleeve shirt, but soon realized it was unnecessary.

The Beauty in Whitewater State ParkTHe Dakota Trail

The Beauty in Whitewater State Park

Although, the treetops were fiery shades of orange, red and yellow, there were already many leaves that were asleep on the trail. The curled leaves crackled and crunched beneath my feet and every so often there was one sad green leaf that didn’t have the opportunity to turn a warm golden or fiery red color.

The Beauty in Whitewater State Park

Overlook on the Dakota Trail

I wound my way up the rocky cliffs and followed many stairways, some as steep as ladders. The chipmunks put me to shame. Those critters scurried up the steep staircase like their tail was on fire. When I arrived at the top, I couldn’t resist taking more photos of fall foliage.

I took the shortest loop because it was after 5 p.m. I didn’t know how long the hike would take, plus I wanted to go to the Marnach house. The hike to the Marnach House was about 45 minutes round trip.

The Marnach House was my final destination. This building has been restored as a monument and tribute to all Luxembourg pioneer immigrants by the Luxembourg Heritage Society of America.

It was first built in 1857 by John and Nicholas Marnach. They were immigrants from the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. It’s masonry and architecture are typical of small Luxembourg farms of the nineteenth century.

Dakota trail at Whitewater State Park

And now, for the Haiku Challenge

The Beauty in Whitewater State Park Day 25: Haiku Challenge

Writhing snake-like roots
intertwined with earth and rock—
creeping and crawling.

Fall trees starting to turn colors

Day 26: Haiku Challenge

Minnesota hills
and the warm treetops embrace.
Good night setting sun.

The Dakota trail overlooking whitewater creek.

Day 27: Haiku Challenge

Like a bird soaring
high above the river, I
look, listen and breathe.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

How did you spend your Saturday?

~Nicole

 

 

An Afternoon in Red Wing

Yes, I am behind on my haiku poems, but today is catch up day. I have lots of fun chores to finish (ha), a little writing to accomplish and a painting to create. I have another Wine & Canvas event coming up on Friday the 19th. But first, a little slice of Minnesota life.

Saturday, Adlai and I went to Red Wing. It was another beautiful day. The sun was shining, it was chilly, but gorgeous nonetheless. We hopped in the car and took the back roads to Red Wing. My only wish was that I had more energy to enjoy the day. Last week was another busy week and I needed some time to relax…point being, I didn’t take a lot of photos because I was tired, and we ended up leaving earlier than expected.

First, we stopped for lunch. It was late afternoon and most of the restaurants were closed or were only serving a few menu items. We ended up with a couple of sandwiches from the local coffee shop.

After lunch, we walked through downtown Red Wing. One of our first stops was the Red Wing Shoe retail store. Red Wing, Minnesota is home to the famous Red Wing boots. The retail store also included a museum with the largest boot in the world.

The largest boot in the world is at the Red Wing museum in Red Wing, Minnesota.

Now that’s a big boot!

The museum had a lot of information about the types of leather used and different methods of cutting and the construction of the boots.

I used to sew a lot, so I thought this little gem deserved a spot in the post too.

An industrial sewing machine at the Red Wing Boot museum.

An industrial sewing machine at the Red Wing Boot museum.

Scissor storage

A little alcove to store a pair of scissors.

After our trip through the museum, we headed over to the Red Wing Confectionery. They had an array of chocolate candy…we decided on a dark chocolate and peanut butter truffle and an Amaretto truffle.

Truffles from the local confectionery.

Truffles from the local confectionery.

After the confectionery, we stopped in a book store. I am a sucker for used book stores because I hate paying full price for books. While we were looking around, the clerk asked us if we had been in the book store before. We told him no, and he said their policy was to gift one book per person for first timers.

He asked us which genre or author we preferred, he picked a book and gave us a few minutes to read about the book. If we liked it, he told us to keep it. Of course, that made us want to buy another book since we were getting a free one. We left with 4 books for $12. Not bad…I picked a Stephen King and a Harlan Coben book. Adlai found something on hunting.

After that, we meanered through an antique shop and then headed home.

Haiku Challenge

On to my haiku poems. I couldn’t resist this little piece of art. There were several boots that various artists had painted in Red Wing. This one was my favorite. The other image is a late summer sky, and the last one is from the Badlands.

Street Art in Red Wing, Minnesota.

Day 12: Haiku Challenge

Whimsical artwork
illustrates life in Red Wing.
Stop and have a look.

 

Late summer sky

Day 13: Haiku Challenge

Above the treetops
watching a late summer sky—
gray and pink clouds sigh.

The Badlands

Day 14: Haiku Challenge

What dwells in the hills?
Summer is too hot — survive
the dry, chalky land.

I finished reading Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. Details regarding the book in tomorrow’s post.

I hope you had a lovely Sunday!

~Nicole

What’s everyone reading?

Creative Minds

Happy Friday! I would say finally, but the week went by fast and we have a three day weekend coming up. Woo Hoo! I see lots of writing and reading time in my future! Maybe a few pictures too.

A couple of weeks ago, I received my assignment from the editor of Experience Rochester. This is my third year with this publication and I always love the assignments. In the past, I have written about SEMVA art gallery and the Farmers Market.

This year is different, I am not writing an article per se, but I am collecting fun facts about two creative people from Rochester to compile into a summary. Wednesday, I had the pleasure of interviewing a young woman who had a small part in the movie The Wolf of Wallstreet that starred Leonardo DiCaprio. I spoke to Emily Tremaine and collected information about some of the roles she has played in, where she went to school and various other fun facts for the ‘Creative Minds’ summary in Experience Rochester.

Then, yesterday, I interviewed someone who works at the Mayo Clinic as a glass blower. He makes scientific glassware that is used for testing human tissues and many other things. Not only does he create scientific glassware, but he also creates blown glass Christmas ornaments and small decorative bottles. The only problem…I forgot my camera yesterday. Well, actually, I didn’t feel comfortable taking my camera. I wasn’t hired to take the pictures (which usually doesn’t stop me), I was hired to interview and compile information. I am kicking myself now. I was able to watch him in action. He did a couple of demonstrations for me and I left the interview with an original piece of blown glass. The whole experience was amazing!! I’ll post this piece in January when the magazine is released.

What’s scheduled for September?

Publications

I have an article coming out in Rochester Women called Pairing Women with Wine.

I have another piece coming out in The Wagazine, it’s called Happy Hounds.

Flash Fiction

I plan to post a flash fiction writing prompt once a week along with a 750ish word flash fiction piece. The first piece I will post is based on Tuesday’s writing prompt.

Haiku Challenge

I am also going to take the “Haiku challenge.” I have seen a few websites that have daily Haiku challenges and even contests. I am doing one that is slightly different, I will be taking several pictures throughout the month of September. Then, each day, I will create a Haiku to go along with an image and post it.

Wine and Canvas

In the month of August, I taught my my first wine and canvas event. It was very successful! We had ladies asking when the next event would be taking place. So, Denise and I scheduled the next Wine & Canvas event for September 19th! Stay tuned, I’ll give a few sneak peeks as I prepare for the next event.

Dessert Wine with the Girls

On the 13th, I’m meeting with several Rochester Women writers, editors, photographers and other staff members for another wine tasting event. This month it’s dessert wine. I am very excited for this event because I love sweet wines and ports.

Memoirs

I have four or five more pieces to edit and post. I am sharing these particular essays because I submitted these to an editor to land my first writing gig.

September Reading Material

The only book I have on the list right now is Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects. I am sure this list will grow to at least one more.

How is your September shaping up? 

 

A Morning Boat Ride

This past weekend was awesome! I had a little time to breathe and I enjoyed spending time with my wonderful husband. The past several months have been incredibly busy. I have spent much of my time attending different events, interviewing people and writing articles for a variety of magazines and the newspaper. I am not complaining about all the freelance work, but it’s nice to spend time with the man I love.

Saturday morning, my husband ousted me out of bed earlier than I like to rise on the weekend. I think it was around 7 a.m. After coffee and cereal, Kashi of course, Adlai hooked up the boat trailer to the Jeep and we rode to the boat landing in Wabasha. Mississippi River, here we come!

The weather was perfect. It was partly cloudy and the temperature hovered around seventy degrees. I was so excited to do some reading. I brought three magazines and a book that I never got around to starting. I read a copy of the magazine, Outside. It listed several of America’s best small towns to live in. It was fun to daydream about moving somewhere new. I am such a dreamer, and I love to experience new things. Some days I would love to move and other days, well, I love where we live.

I read Outside magazine.

I read the latest copy of Outside magazine.

While I enjoyed the toasty rays of sunshine and reading about small towns, Adlai cast his line in the water in hopes of catching a fish. It’s funny, he is an excellent hunter. He deer hunts during all three seasons, bow, shot gun and muzzle loader. We always have deer in our freezer, but as for fishing, well, he has some work to do. Needless to say, we didn’t have a fish fry Saturday night.

He changed out the fishing lures at least 20 times throughout the day. He has more lures than I have shoes!

Fishing with Top Water Popper Frogs.

Adlai fished with Top Water Popper Frogs on Saturday. He had lots of hits, but none to bring home.

We spent several hours out on the water and before long our appetites started talking. We battened down the hatches and skimmed the water around 50 miles an hour. Adlai slowed down through the no wake zone and we passed the National Eagle Center and Slippery’s Restaurant and Bar. We have been to both places, but chose not to go to either while we were out and about.

We passed by the National Eagle Center in Wabasha.

We passed by the National Eagle Center in Wabasha.

Slippery's Restaurant.

We passed by the famous Slippery’s restaurant from Grumpy Old Men.

After we made it through the no wake zone, it was back to 50 miles an hour. I am not crazy about going that fast, in fact, I prefer the trolling motor. But, Adlai is a great boat driver and we made it to our destination in one piece.

We docked at the Pickle Factory and locked up the compartments of the boat. We walked up the shoreline and found ourselves enjoying the air conditioning inside the restaurant. We scanned the menu and decided we couldn’t leave the Pickle Factory without trying their famous fried pickles. It sounds odd, but these dill pickles were tasty!

Fried pickles from the pickle factory.

We enjoyed a new treat on Saturday…tasty fried dill pickles with ranch dressing.

I was only going to eat one or two, but I think I ended up eating four. The fried outer crust was sinful and salty. The fried batter encased dill pickles that were hot and started to become saturated and slightly mushy. You know when you cook zucchini just a bit too long. It is no longer crisp and crunchy, but slightly soggy, in a good way.

Since I splurged on the appetizer, I opted for a salad as my entreé. I ordered the Craisin and Chicken Salad with a raspberry vinaigrette. It was delicious. The romaine lettuce was fresh and crisp. The Craisins were plump and the perfect shade of cranberry. The chicken was diced to perfection. Each cube looked like someone had painstakingly cut up a beautiful chicken breast and left the scraps for the dog. Then, the sliced almonds added the right amount of crunch! Mmmm, delish!

A tasty Craisin and chicken salad.

A tasty Craisin and chicken salad.

Adlai, on the other hand, ate a pulled pork sandwich with homemade potato chips. He said it was really good. I have to trust him on that because I don’t eat pork and have no desire to. I don’t like a lot of meat. In fact, chicken, turkey and fish are about all I can take. And, I eat meat in small doses. The chicken on the salad was my first bit of meat all week.

Pulled Pork and homemade potato chips from Pickle Factory

Adlai enjoyed a Pulled Pork Sandwich with homemade potato chips.

After lunch, we made our way out to Lake Pepin where Adlai could fish a bit more and I could continue reading. By this time, it was about 1 p.m. The sun was hot and there were a lot more boaters out on the water making it choppy. The boat rocked back and forth and the breeze picked up. We tried to anchor in a few places, but the anchor wouldn’t hold us.

Lake Pepin

After lunch, we went out on Lake Pepin for more fishing and reading.

We decide it wasn’t much fun to drift into shallow waters, and the choppiness of the water was even less desirable after fried pickles. So, we headed back to the boat launch and left the Mississippi River with a day full of memories that we will treasure for a lifetime.

Have you ever tried fried pickles?