I grew up all over the South and in Central America. I spent my high school years at a boarding school in CT before heading off to college in VA. However, after a year I transfered to MN and pledged Kappa and graduated (a semester early!)with majors in Art History and Spanish. My life is simply amazing and I am SO incredibly blessed to have a loving family, marvelous friends and the best job in the world. I adore sweets, all things pink and green, a good movie, trying new restaurants and a great DIY project.
Our family farm in Iowa is just outside of Decorah. The town is by no means huge and so it is relatively easy to get from place to place, not mention quick. It took a mere five minutes for us to get from downtown to the country. Once you start to drive outside town you are literally surrounded by nature (minus the power lines as seen above). You always know you are close to our farm when you see the bluffs. The bluffs, which are shown above, have been in our family for generations and we actually have photos of the family up on them from the very beginning of the 20th century!
The farm is called Siewers Spring (pronounced Seever) because of the springs that run through the land. My grandfather tells stories about how they used to swim down under the hill/mini bluff you see above when he was a boy. They dove into the caves that are found below and he and his cousins talk about the drawings on the wall which we believe are from the Indians that originally lived in the area. Sadly, though still very picturesque, the dam that was built in the mid 19th century caused major erosion and the caves are no longer accessible.
Our family home was built in the mide 1800's and finished in 1864. It originally had a flat roof, but this was changed in the 1900's to today's roof.
The back, outer wall of the home is actually built out of stone, not brick, because of the Civil War. The inside of the home has four bedrooms, a sewing room, a music room, a sitting room, a kitchen and a dining room. The dining room was home to our weekend project, the lunch buffet.
Since our family has very close ties to Norway we choose to celebrate that in the decor for the weekend. We had lots of red, white and blue on our lunch table.
Even our cupcake cake matched!
For dinner, another family member made an all-American meal...a whole, roasted pig! We had a wonderful time watching this process (it was not for the vegetarians). In a sense we felt as if we were connected to our ancestors as the would have cooked things somewhat similarly (not exactly the same, but you get the idea). After dinner we enjoyed a bonfire and then it was time to head back to our more normal hotel before I froze!
Before we headed out we had to try to catch a glimpse of the bald eagle and the eaglets. Do you see their HUGE next in the tree next to our farm? While we had no luck late at night, I did catch them during the day and in the morning. The eagles used to live in a tree up on our bluff, but their nest fell during a storm so they have moved to a new tree at the end of the road. Above, the eaglet is actually sitting on the house where my great grandparents lived. The Decorah Eagles became quite famous this year and my parents even spotted them on TV in India last Fall!
Family is so important and you can learn so much from your relatives. My family immigrated from Norway. My great grandfather and his siblings (they ranged in age from newborn to 21!) grew up on our farm and lived through the Depression. They were humble people that worked hard. I am so grateful to have so many photos of my family as well as several books on life before my times. Knowing and understanding your roots is important and helps shape each of us. I encourage each of you to dig into your past, you never know what you might find. You just might be related to someone that invented something we use everyday, you might have relatives that fought in a revolution, you might have some dirty secrets, or you might descended from a royal family (this is my claim to fame)!
While The Whippy Dip and Vesterheim are huge attractions in Decorah another reason many people come to town is to visit or attend Luther college. Luther was founded in 1861 by some of my ancestors. Luther is most well known for their amazing music program. Those of you that like the Dave Matthews Band might even have the CD "Dave Matthews and Tom Reynolds Live at Luther College."
During some family reunion down time we took a drive through Decorah and naturally ended up at Luther. Both my grandparents attended Luther College, in fact it is where they met! Brandt Hall (in front of which I am standing above) is named for a family member and it just so happened to be the dorm my grandmother was assigned to her very first year at Luther; funny seeing as it is named for a family member on my grandfather's side of the family, huh?!
We had quite the weekend planned while in Decorah, IA last weekend. We arrived on Thursday evening and headed straight out to our family farm to get to work. Mother and I were in charge of lunch for the family reunion as well as all the tables and arrangements for the event. We stayed out until sunset and then headed to check into our hotel...aka the hell hole. If you follow me on Twitter you know how terrible it was. I have admitted that I am a hotel snob, but I am by NO means above staying in a chain hotel, the only requirement is that it be clean. This hotel was NOT clean or sanitary or safe. Upon checking into our room I began calling every hotel in town begging them to double check their computers to see if anyone had cancelled and they suddenly had availability. On the third call I got the best news one could have hoped for that night...the only catch being we could not check into the next night. Thankfully, we made it through the night and peaced out faster than you can blink the next morning.
Before heading back out to the farm on Friday morning we popped into town. Decorah is very much a mini Norway. Their are still signs in town that are in Norwegian, the only Norwegian museum outside Norway is located here as is Vanberia, a Scandinavian gift shop.
Vanberia sells everything from traditional costumes...
to home decor...
to LOTS of blue and white china...
to figurines (look at that collection of Norwegian trolls!)....
to more traditional clothing for those COLD winters...
to this new European creation, the Skoy Cloth, which takes the place of paper towns and is reusable...
to darling mail boxes!
My mother is 100% Norwegian so I grew up going to Vanberia and we still cannot visit Decorah without popping in at least once!
Another Decorah landmark (I am sure you are shocked there are so many after seeing my devotion to The Whippy Dip) is the Vesterheim Museum. As mentioned, it is actually "the most comprehensive museum in the United States dedicated to a single immigrant group." On Friday evening a new exhibit was celebrated and said exhibit actually commemorated my mother's family, a Norwegian immigrant family, and our 100th family reunion on our farm. The exhibit was so well done and I feel extremely lucky to have so many old family photos and documents. My mother's side of the family can actually date our ancestry back to 800 AD!
While the special exhibit was the showstopper of the evening I could not resist taking a peak into the other rooms of the museum. I apologize for the terrible photos (I had my camera on some weird setting), but I loved traveling back in time to a typical Norwegian home.
My mother and I decided out love for color dates WAY back. Don't you just love all the brightly painted walls and furniture in this home?!
I LOVE altar pieces and could not resist a photo of this one found in the museum. It keeps is made very Norwegian by the rosemaling (Norwegian decorative painting) on the bottom.
Last, but certainly not least is the TradeWind. It is a 25 foot sailboat that made its' way from Norway to the United States in 1933. TradeWind is actually the smallest known ship to cross the Atlantic without assistance. It took about twelve weeks for the ship to cross the wild seas, but it made it and is now on display at the Vesterheim!
Decorah, Iowa has lots to offer in the way of culture (and food) and is most certainly a hidden gem!
This weekend we headed down to Iowa for a family reunion. It was the 100th anniversary of our family reunion on the family farm in Decorah, Iowa and NO trip to Decorah is complete without a visit to The Whippy Dip!
The Whippy Dip is famous in the area and it serves up the BEST ice cream treats in Iowa I think. On Friday afternoon I enjoyed taco in a bag (yes, I was elated to find out they have this!!!) and a chocolate dipped, vanilla cone...my favorites! Aren't these signs fun? Mother and I had a good laugh over the "Exercise Your Taste Buds" sign.
The Whippy Dip is also famous for their Tornadoes. They are like a Sonic Blast or McFlurry, but BETTER! Today, before we headed home we all enjoyed a mint Oreo Tornado...
YUM! It was amazing and hit the spot seeing as it NO longer feels like November in Texas up North!
To commemorate your trip to The Whippy Dip you can purchase a shirt...or a onesie. They must have known I would be visiting this summer because they even have a pink and green combination!
Next time you are in Decorah, IA (perhaps taking a trip off the beaten path to see the eaglets) you simply cannot miss The Whippy Dip!
I told you it would be hard to pick just one favorite from the FABULOUS Preppy Cards site! I love reading what everyone choose and am excited to announce that my very first blog commenter (comment 24) is the winner! Congratulations to SUBURBAN PREP!!
Please shoot me an email and I will get you in touch with the ladies at Preppy Cards!
Now, the fun does not end there! Preppy Cards has extended a discount to all Monograms and Manicures readers. Now through July 15th, 2011 you can get 15% off you entire order when you use the code "HOPSY" at checkout (enter the code in the "special instructions" area). Everyone wins with a discount! Stock up on your favorite Preppy Cards items today and perhaps even order a second set since every icon is just too fun!
While in St. John one of my friends told us about an AMAZING treat she had recently had. It was a chocolate chip cookie with an Oreo inside. It sounded almost too good to be true so last night I decided to try to make these for myself.
I bought the premade chocolate cookie dough, but you could also make your own. I also opted for mini Oreos instead of the regular size since these are such an indulgence. Isn't it amazing that this is all you need to make this treat!? I took a small spoonful of dough and flattened it out and then added the Oreo to it.
Cover the Oreo in the remaining dough, creating a ball. You do not want to have too much extra dough for these or they will flatten out and spread too much. Less is more with this treat. Create tight balls with only a thin layer of dough.
Bake your cookies at 350 for 8 to 12 minutes...or until golden brown.
Let them cool and then enjoy your Oreo surprise!
These are SO easy to make and they are DELICIOUS; think sinfully good! I made these for a party this weekend and was able to make over 100 with the large tub of dough and just two bags of mini Oreos. The whole process took about an hour. A perfect treat that is not hard to make!
I cannot remember when exactly I found Preppy Cards, but it was WAY back when. I am talking about the days when some companies still did not have internet pages and I was living in a dorm in high school (senior year when I was likely spending too much time on the internet after getting into college...) or freshman year of college. That says enough about the company in and of itself. They were on top of the trend with a website and have stuck around. However, that comes as no surprise since their items are just as darling as can be!
Kristen McCallum started Preppy Cards back in 2003 as an addition to her NYC store. She has since decided to dedicate all her time to the company. Her icons are fun, preppy and even whimsical! From iconic handbags and shoes to dancing monkeys to favorite eats to monograms, Preppy Cards has an icon for everyone!
I am thrilled to offer you, my readers, a chance to win 20 flat note cards with your choice of an icon! This giveaway comes just in time for summer letter writing! To enter this giveaway you MUST head over to the fabulous Preppy Cards site and pick you very favorite icon. You must share your favorite in your comment and be warned is is very hard to choose (I LOVE the orange bag that is oh-so-reminiscent of a favorite and the blue key is just darling and very Kappa). This giveaway runs until Sunday, June 26th, 2011 at 5pm CST so be sure to pop on over today and enter right away! Best of luck to all!! “A handwritten note is like dining by candlelight instead of flicking on the lights, like making a gift instead of ordering a product, like taking a walk instead of driving. Handwritten notes will add a lot to your life. You can still use the telephone or the Web for the daily chores of staying in touch, but for the words that matter, it’s courteous, classy, caring, and civilized to pick up a pen.” – Margaret Shepherd
Today, a group of friends and I threw a shower for our dear friend Andrea who is getting married later next month. We had all been excitedly preparing and looking forward to today and things came together perfectly. We really had the ideal celebration!
The party was held at Cassie's parent's home. Her mother loves blue and white just as much as my mother and I...
We hung a special sign with the invitation on the door and then I made the above sign as well. You cannot see it, but it says "How Sweet It Is."
Wynne came up with the most fun games for the shower. Each guest was given a pin when they came into the party. The object of the game was to collect pins off other guests when they said one of the following words: wedding, bride, groom. You had to be very attentive during every conversation in order to win!
We had several beverage options for our guests upon their arrival...the pink lemonade was a hit. As were the mango mimosas! Refreshing drinks were must as it was over 100 degrees outside!
Our buffet table was my favorite part of the party, besides the company and bride-to-be of course! I made up a very easy, but tasteful menu and each hostess brought various items. The tissue pom poms were the perfect addition to the set up and looked right at home on the chandelier!
I made all three of the floral arrangements. I choose whites, pinks and blues to carry our the theme of the invitation. Since the shower was a kitchen shower I thought it was rather appropriate to do the main centerpiece in a trifle bowl and used limes in the bottom to make it a bit prettier. Both fun and useful!
Today's menu included cheese straws and mixed nuts to start. The luncheon buffet included pasta salad, tea sandwiches, an amazing chicken salad, fruit salad, croissants, fresh blueberry muffins and a cheese tray. Everything was delicious and I just may have gone back for one or two plate refills!
We ate lunch and played a fun movie trivia game also created by Wynne. It was such a hit and tested our red carpet knowledge. After lunch and the game it was time to have dessert and open gifts. Dessert included mini cupcakes from Gigi's (thankfully the frosting did not melt off as it has when Cassie went to pick them up...mini disaster that she thankfully forced the store to solve!) and pink thumb print cookies from Celebrity Bakery.
Each guest received a mini pot of flowers to grow at home. I made the tags on Picnik- they said "Life is a garden and love in the bloom!" and then had the beautiful bride's initials (her current initials as she is not yet married :) )
The food was delicious and the company was swell, but the best part of all was getting to celebrate our beautiful friend and bride-to-be!
A HUGE thank you to Mandi for taking all the above photos, to Cassie for opening her home, to all the hostesses for all their help and to Andrea for allowing us to celebrate!
Frank had us all laughing at the wedding, Nancy Meyer's set has as all dying and the baby suite made us swoon. Now, the place that was home to all the above can be yours for just 1.35 million!
The Father of the Bride house is on the market. It seems like a steal for such a famous property in an LA suburb (however, then again I know nothing about LA suburbs and their real estate). The interior seems to be in need of some updating and judging from the photos, per most movies, it is not the same interior the film fanatic is familiar with. However, it is still stunning on the outside and a definite movie icon! Now, if I were to tour this all I would need would be Annie sliding down the banister and a few swans in the bathtub!