A small town in summer packed with fun! That was this Saturday in Jordan, Minnesota. The summer celebration featured not one, not two, but four great events – the Jordan Art Festival, the Jordan Valley Bike Tour, Minnesota Kite Society Fly, and Jaycee’s Pork in the Park. Plus Sunday after second day of the art festival winds to a close, the Jordan Brewers will be playing baseball in downtown’s Mini-Met Park. And downtown storekeepers brought some of their best wares outside to the sidewalks. (So technically there are even more than four events!) There were artists demonstrating, bikers biking, kites flying, and pork roasting. There were musicians playing, children playing and baseball players playing. And for the Nicolin Mansion, it meant adding two more garden art sculptures to the courtyard – a wrought iron frog prince from Garden Designs & Sculptures, and a stained glass garden stake by Glorious Glass.
Fun times in Small Town USA!
We love New Ulm. We go there alot. Our B&B mentor is from New Ulm. So last Sunday, we took a trip to Kevin’s favorite local brewery, Schell’s. We missed the tour (bummer, so no beer samples for us), but explored the fabulous grounds and reveled in the peacock majesty! A picture perfect pose!
After Schell’s we had a picnic in Flandrau State Park. Though we’ve been to New Ulm many times, we nevered realized the park is right in town. Tip: if the bugs are bad, there are big picnic tables in the screened-in stone shelter between the picnic grounds and swimming pond (we missed that until we were done eating).
There is tons to do in New Ulm, I’ve only touched on what we did that day, and at a little over an hour from Jordan, it makes for a great day trip.
Plus, I just had to share the great peacock photo!
One of Jordan’s fabulous occasional sales is run by Geneva’s Daughter, Cindy Nevins. Located in the downtown Historic Hub of Jordan, once Frank Nicolin’s Opera House, the Hub is also home to Carasim Coffee Shop and Antiques, and Thrift Shop.
Cindy is fantastic seamstress and master of Repurpose, Recycle, Reuse! And her sales offer you the chance to pick up some of her unique creations – like Cute as a Button little girl dresses made from tableclothes and men’s shirts.
You’ll also find baptismal gowns made from wedding dresses…
And pillows made from vintage linens. And if you have treasured heirloom linens or clothing, Cindy can design a keepsake for you that is sure to impress.
Cindy’s creativity does not end at the sewing machine. She offers a line of pampering bath products. And tea cups repurposed as candles.
Geneva’s Daughter also offers unique vintage home decor and accessories. With displays changing each sale, and items restocked each day, you just might find that treasure you’ve been searching for – maybe a classic kitchen gadget.
Or the perfect garden item…maybe even a plant or two!
Watch our Jordan Events Calendar for upcoming sales dates.
Geneva’s Daughter Occasional Sale
231 Broadway Street South
Jordan, Minnesota 55352
The Occasional Sale seems to be more popular than ever. If you are new to the concept, these are stores open occasionally (once or twice a month for instance) for several days in a row. The dealers restock daily while they are open, so selections are always changing and new treasures await every time you stop by. We have a few in Jordan too, and this weekend The Corner Peddler is open.
The Corner Peddler features primitives, some antique and some reproduction. Among the treasures you’ll find furniture, wall hangings, dolls and other home decor. One of my favorites are the battery operated candles – they really look like flickering candles – we have one in the Nicolin Room.
The Corner Peddler also features repurposed items like curtains made from kitchen towels, candle holders made from canning jars, and decorations made from dried fruit. You’ll be inspired.
Another great thing is the sales are often held in buildings that are as interesting as the inventory. The Corner Peddler is in Jordan’s Old City Hall building, complete with bars on the old jailhouse windows. Treasure hunting in unique places creates an experience beyond just shopping.
Jordan is home to some incredible artistic talent. And Mara at 225 Water Street has got to be one of our greatest treasures. She is a photographer, graphic artist, and mosaic tile artist and author (and more…). I first sought her out when she moved to Jordan because of her graphic artist abilities – to turn my historic Downtown Jordan walking tour into something beautiful (and she did!). But we became friends over tile. She even saved me when I took on the ridiculously naive first-tile-project fireplace. After I was done with the fireplace, I took my first tile class from Mara, so I’d know what I was suppose to be doing. So now when I (or someone else in my house) breaks a beloved heirloom (or a discontinued china plate), I think of it as a tiling opportunity rather than as a moment to scream. Secretly, I have a few pieces I hope will fall into a million pieces and move on to a new life.
So when one of my past-favorite doll statues didn’t sell at the garage sale, I drove around with her in my car after saving her from the after-the-garage-sale-Goodwill-drop-off. And she broke. So she stayed in my car until I brought her to Mara’s, to add to her private cabinet of cast-offs waiting for a new life.
She wasn’t named Matilda then. On one of my Saturdays when I walk around downtown Jordan to catch up with the locals, I made my usual stop at Mara’s. And she had just finished gluing the most beautiful mirror I had ever seen. Full of birds and flowers and little china dishes. I loved the birds, they reminded me of my Grandma’s porcelian bird collection (I think I still have a few I inherited packed away somewhere). And the flowers were like my favorite Capodimonte flower candlesticks I received from a friend in California. I was mesmorized, captivated. And as I looked around the mirror I found her, my broken porcelian doll. Mara hadn’t remembered where she came from, but had named her Matilda. My Matilda!
Mara’s store and studio is an amazing place. A respite. An inspiration. And she is an amazing talent and an amazing person. Someone you’ll surely want to meet, someplace you’ll surely want to visit, when you come to Jordan.
I missed the large terraced raised 13-bed garden Kevin built for me at our previous house. Last year I was so excited when Kevin built a new raised bed vegetable garden for me. We chose the sunniest place in our courtyard, and I hoped there would be enough sun during the course of the day. It was an experiment. I planted peppers and tomatoes in one bed – lettuce, chives and spinach in the second – carrots, radish and onions in the third – and corn in the fourth.
The corn was a miserable failure, grew till about 6 inches and stopped. The rest of my plants grew and grew. But not like one would expect if planted in the full sun. The tomatoes grew tall, very tall, but very little fruit and not until just before the first frost. Same with the peppers. The root vegetables grew tall, but never developed much for roots underground. I let the radishes go to seed, hoping to harvest the seed pods. I got a few. The spinach was a total failure, even after replanting. The great success was the lettuce. It was perfect, tons of it, tons and tons of it. Didn’t plan that very well. More than we could eat before it went to seed.
Year one, lesson learned. I needed to learn a bit more about vegetable gardening that wasn’t in full sun. And as far as vegetables go, it seems that means shade gardening.
What I learned was there were several fruits and vegetables that thrive on less then full sun. From year one, I knew lettuce is one of them. But this year I’m planting rows every few weeks so we can keep up with what we harvest. Plus the chives came back from last year. Bed one, done.
Rest of the beds needed to be reinvented completely. I researched online about shade vegetables. Turns out bush beans, not pole beans, do grow in less than full sun. So planted in bed two, done.
I had hoped for a beautiful herb garden. I grew basil quite successfully in planters on the back porch last year, so I’ll try that again this year. And I had some in hanging baskets on the wall in the vegetable garden, so I’ll try that again this year. But I’d hope for something for tea. Mint is suppose to grow well in part shade gardens. So after visiting 3 nurseries, I found 12 different varieties of mint to plant in bed number three.
On to the final bed, where the spindly monster tomato vines grew last year. One thing we love to do is make jam and jelly. We have rhubarb growing out front by the gazebo, and raspberries by our back porch. So I researched what fruit would grow in part shade. Turns out currants, gooseberries and jostaberries are a perfect choice. So I chose currants. But they weren’t so easy to find. After 6 nurseries, I found black currants. I purchased one, for variety, but I really was on the hunt for ‘Red Lake’ Currant, which is a University of Minnesota hybrid, so I figured it should be easy to find. Nursery number 8, or 9, was Bachman’s, and they had an abundance of ‘Red Lake.’ So I bought three, and bed four was done.
So year two experiment in the shade is under way. The beans are popping up, and the lettuce has sprouted. Mint is spreading. And the currants are blooming. Looking forward to the harvest.
On Memorial Day we decided to play like tourists and visit one of the nearby attractions. We chose Excelsior, again, for the lake cruise on the Steamboat Minnehaha. Just 18 miles from the Nicolin Mansion, this boat is actually part of The Museum of Lake Minnetonka. And it has a fascinating history.
Thomas Lowry’s Twin City Rapid Transit (TCRT) streetcars running in 1905 carried passengers to and from Lake Minnetonka. Yet they were looking for a way to carry passengers to and from the streetcar lines running from different points around the lake. They decided on steamboats, made to resemble the streetcars themselves. These “streetcar boats” had the same paint colors, the same cane seats, and where named for their trolley system destinations. A fleet of six carried residents from one point on the lake to another to catch their streetcar to work, said to be as fast as trains, with the added pleasure of a lake cruise.
But by the 1920’s the automobile was a more popular mode of transportation, allowing residents to get to their destination on their own schedule. And the “streetcar boats” met a dismal fate. The Steamboat Minnehaha, along with two other boats, where filled with ruins from the demolished Big Island Amusement Park, pumped full of water and scuttled – sunk to the bottom of Lake Minnetonka.
The Minnehaha stayed there, sinking into the mud, until discovered by a diver in 1979. Raised and faithfully restored, in 1996 the Minnehaha was finally providing residents and tourists the pleasure of a lake cruise. And we totally enjoyed the pleasure of our cruise.
Seriously, check it out and take a cruise if you get a chance.
The beautiful bird cage terrarium planter sitting on the front porch has been begging to showcase something outstanding – and now it has a Fairy Garden!
We made these airy meringues topped with creamy filling and fresh fruit for dessert at breakfast. A perfect winter dessert, a hint of spring in a snowy shell.
1 cup superfine sugar
2 tablespoons superfine sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
4 eggs room temperature
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups whipping cream
Preheat oven to 300 degrees and place rack in middle position. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet. (You can also cut open brown lunch bags and smooth them flat on a baking sheet.)
Whisk together sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Separate eggs and set yolks aside.
In a large mixing bowl on medium-high speed, whisk egg whites with cream of tarter and salt until the beater leaves softs tracks in the foam. Begin adding sugar mixture 1 tablespoon at a time, gradually, but steadily. Once the sugar has been incorporated, add the vanilla and increase the speed to high until the meringue looks glossy and holds a stiff peak when the beater is lifted.
Drop a large spoonful of meringue onto the parchment paper and shape into a circle with a slightly depressed center. Repeat with the remaining meringue to make 8 (3-inch) shells. Or place meringue in a large pastry bag with a fluted tip and pipe 8 nests onto the paper, working from the center and raising the sides.
Place in the oven. Reduce heat to 200 degrees. Bake for 1 1/2 hours. Turn off the oven and leave meringues inside to cool completely, another 3 hours, or overnight.
To serve, whip cream. Place a spoonful of lemon curd in each shell, then top with whipped cream and fruit. You can substitute any flavor of sherbet for the lemon curd. My meringue was a bit too soft so I ended up with more of a meringue patty than shell. But no worries, I just piped the cream around the edge and filled that with the fruit.
Hint: Mango can be slippery to slice, so try this: Cut along each side of the large seed, then score each half. “Bending” it inside out lets you slice off the fruit easily.
Adapted from article in the StarTribune February 24, 2011.