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St Paul Winter Carnival Flash Mob by Ann Treacy
January 31, 2011, 3:40 am
Filed under: St Paul

Today was our second day of Winter Carnival activities. Last night we took a quick, chilly look at the ice sculptures. Today we headed to the State Fairgrounds to see the snow sculptures. It was about 20 degrees and very sunny. A perfect day!

I have never been to the State Fairgrounds for the Winter Carnival. I believe that the State Fair is actually in Falcon Heights and the Winter Carnival is definitely a St Paul event. But I got over my St Paul bias and we had a great time. Parking at the Fair is very easy, which can be very important on the colder days and isn’t necessarily true for any of the downtown St Paul events. The snow sculptures were very fun. It’s kind of amazing what the sculptors can do with snow. Although we’ve had plenty of snow for practicing this year.

Along with the sculptures, there was a “find the medallion” game for kids. (Aine found 4 medallions, scoring her a toy car.) There was a hot air balloon, grounded. I suspect it was going up at some point but it was fun to see it up close. Kate was sure it would explode; Aine wanted to take a turn going up. There was also a snow maze; unfortunately we couldn’t check it out. Apparently someone has slipped an injured himself pretty seriously and so they were keeping folks out. Even after the injured party was taken out on a stretcher, the maze was closed as they tried to sand down the pathway. We didn’t mind too much as we heard rumor of a big event at 2:47.

Flashback to earlier in the week and Lily told me that some kid in her class said there was a flash mob planned for the Winter Carnival. A flash mob happens when a group of people meet in a public place to do something unusual. We love flash mobs! Fast forward to this morning when I noticed a post on the Winter Carnival Facebook page saying there would be a flash mob at 2:47 today in Rice Park. So after the snow sculptures we booked to Rice Park.

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We got to Rice Park in time to get mini donuts and hang out to wait for the flash mob. The funny thing was that while I think flash mobs are meant to be secret – although in a funny we’re-super-friendly-in-Minnesota way, this felt like the worst kept secret ever. Many of us were hanging by the stage waiting – some for a signal and many of us with cameras. But it was still super fun when it happened – and I got it on video. (Not great, video but it was tough to try to take it all in.) The music started, the dancing followed. One fun part – the music quit working – but the flash mob carried on. In fact, that was maybe the best part!

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Winter Carnival Ice Sculptures by Ann Treacy
January 30, 2011, 4:06 am
Filed under: St Paul

The 125th Winter Carnival, dubbed the Coolest Celebration on Earth, started on Thursday. For our friends from outside St Paul, the winter carnival always takes place over 10 days starting at the end of January. There are a few highlights, such as the Treasure Medallion. The carnival people hide a medallion and send out two clues a day until someone finds it. Some years we’ve looked for the medallion – this year we didn’t, which is OK because the medallion was found today in Battle Creek Regional Park, which is no where near our neck of the woods so we would have never found it anyways.

There’s also a big mythology around the carnival. You can find the whole story on Wikipedia – but here’s my foggy version that has allowed me to fake it through most conversations over the years. Boreas, King of the Winds, loves and reigns over winter. Vulcanus Rex, the god of Fire, is the sworn enemy of Boreas and strives to bring on the spring. The Winter Carnival brings about the final hurrah for the Boreas folks and on the final day the Vulcans storm the ice castle and spring prevails. In the mix there’s always a bawdy Klondike Kate who sings – and the Vulcan Krewe rides around in a red bus and draws big V’s on the faces of the women in the crowd.

Every year we try to make it to at least one Winter Carnival event. Tonight we headed down to see some of the ice sculptures. Sometimes 23 degrees seems warm; tonight it didn’t. But the ice sculptures are always fun to see and I was a little bit afraid that maybe this would be the warmest day to see them. So after I had a daylong board meeting and the girls had swim practice we bundled up and headed to Rice Park to see the ice sculptures – they aren’t all done yet but we saw a bunch. If the weather is nice, maybe we’ll head out tomorrow too and can watch some of the sculptures in process or we’ll trek to the State Fairgrounds to see the snow sculpture.



Walker After Hours by Ann Treacy
January 30, 2011, 2:59 am
Filed under: Minneapolis

Last night I had a fun night with my friend Daniela at The Walker After Hours. We started with appetizers at La Belle Vie. Years ago I had one of the best meals ever at La Belle Vie when we went with Billy. The sous chef back then had worked under Billy and cooked us an amazing meal. Well the appetizers were pretty good too – personal highlight was the truffle oil potato chips.

Next we headed to The Walker. It was relatively warm (27 degrees) so it was an easy walk. We started by going through the newest exhibition – The Spectacular of Vernacular. We visited the ice bar outside, which was fun but not as cool as the ice bar I visited in London a few years ago. Then we got our picture taken – as seen here. Very Fun!



Winter Camping with the girl scouts by Ann Treacy
January 30, 2011, 2:39 am
Filed under: Minnesota

This weekend Aine and I went camping with the Girl Scouts and Daisies at Camp Lakamaga – just 45 minute north of St Paul. With an average temperature of 8 degrees (F), this was our agenda:

9:30 – check in
10 am – meet folks, exchange handmade gift with other troops
12:45 – snowshoeing
Noon – lunch
12:45 – cross country skiing
2:00 – ice fishing
3:00 – snack
3:15 – songs et al
4:15 – craft
6:00 – Dinner
7:15 – Night hike
8:15 – campfire (thankfully indoors) and Karaoke party
9:45 – sleep

So we spent a lot of time outdoors. Aine was a natural skier. We each had fun snowshoeing. The ice fishing was kind of fun – but cold. I think if anyone had caught anything that might have been a highlight. The ice fishing guide was very good – but standing on the frozen lake in the freezing lake is only going to be so good. We did find a dead, frozen fish – that was a big deal to everyone.

Our lowlight was sleeping in the cabins – on the ground. We got mats; we decided that out best approach might be to pile out mats on each other and sleep in the same sleeping bag. I don’t know that it wasn’t our best approach but I think I got about 2 hours of sleep doled out in 10 minute increments. A silver lining was that Aine didn’t have to go to the bathroom during the night – since that required a walk outside.

Overall we had a great time. If I ruled the world – we might enjoy all of the fun daytime activities – but sleep in a hotel. But that’s more outdoorsy than I bet most of you thought I’d go.



Winter Kite Flying by Ann Treacy
January 9, 2011, 12:08 am
Filed under: Minneapolis

OK this is what I’ve been hoping to post – today we went to the winter kite flying gig at Lake Harriet in Minneapolis. It was 7 degrees Fahrenheit. But you know what? It didn’t feel that cold – until we started to freeze. If you’ve spent time in Minnesota, you’ll know what I mean.

The wind was almost non-existent. Yet – we managed to get our kites up! The girls earned the roasted marshmallows they had.

It’s hard to get yourself going to something like this – but the group did an amazing job. There were marshmallows, hot chocolate, pretty affordable kites and some amazing kites brought in my kite experts. We had a great time.

An added note for Grandma — we did wear sunscreen.

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I got a brand new pair of roller skates by Ann Treacy
January 8, 2011, 11:53 pm
Filed under: St Paul

So our goal (my goal) for 2011 is to lose any weight I may have gained since our return from Ireland. (No thank you stupid cookies from Lund’s!) I have done some serious walking, weightlifting, Pilates …. and roller skating. Kate and Aine and I went roller skating last weekend.

Aine must have fallen a billion times. Kate didn’t fall – but she did help hold up the edge of the rink. In the words of Aine – I was BRILLIANT. But brilliant includes using the wall to stop. It was fun. Our secondary New Year’s challenge is to become better roller skaters.

(Anyone looking for monthly fitness challenges should check out my friend Suzy’s blog. Last month she challenged folks to do 50 pushups and 25 triceps dips every day. I was one of the successful challengers. This month it’s 30 lunges and 10 roll ups. So far I’m nailing that one too!)



Science Museum by Ann Treacy
January 8, 2011, 11:49 pm
Filed under: St Paul

During the break Aine, Kate, Kate’s friend and I took a trip to the Science Museum (We’re members; so every trip is free.) Aine had fun climbing around. We also saw the Omni show all about the Hubble telescope, which is going down as one of my faves.

Did you know that they have used info from the Hubble to figure out how solar systems are formed? It was cool to see the solar systems that were just forming. I must admit that I could only really pick out the ones that had the oval orbiting like ours but it turns out they come in all shapes.




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