Monday, August 28, 2017

State Fair!!!

It seems that you're either a "State Fair Person" or not....there are lots of reasons people like the State Fair, and lots of reasons why they don't. You might enjoy all the displays, the rides, the shows, and the people-watching......or you may find it's too much walking, it's usually hot weather, and you can never remember where you parked the car. Anyway, if you have never experienced it, here are some facts about the Minnesota State Fair:

  • It started in 1854 as a Territorial Fair, because (10 points if you already knew this) Minnesota was not a state until 1858.  In 1859 it was officially named the Minnesota State Fair
  • It is always held on the 12 days leading up to and after Labor Day. This year's fair will run from August 24 through September 4 (Labor Day)

                       The Giant Slide at the State Fair.


  • The State Fair employs about 80 fulltime year-round employees. 300 are hired to work as seasonal help and 2500 work at the fair only.
  • The Fair is run as 'almost' a separate entity from the State of Minnesota and is run by the State Agricultural Society. The Society represents all 87 county fairs in the state.

  • Did you know there is a K-12 Competition (for Kindergarten through Grade 12)? You can enter artwork, sewing, jewelry, or writing projects. There is also a Technology Education division where people enter architectural drawings, photograpy items, welding projects, woodworking, CO-2 cars and solar powered boats.
Photo of art competition in the Education Building

And of course there are the traditional adult competitions. You can win a ribbon or a prize for excellence in these categories:
  • Needlecraft---Quilts and hand stitching
  • Garment making
  • Handcrafts, including things made from wood or metal, models, and dolls
  • Collections, such as stamps or post cards
  • Baked goods, like cakes, cookies, pies
  • Canning
Colorful canning entries of jellies and jams

There will be Celebrity Agri-Lympics with local celebrities trying their skills at:
  • Hand-milking cows
  • Animal Calling
  • Wool Packing
  • Butter carving
Visit the Moo Booth for a schedule, or look here:

Princess Kay of the Milky Way is selected before the beginning of the fair.(She is rarely actually named Kay). This young lady will come from a background where she has knowledge of the dairy farming industry and will serve as a goodwill ambassador for them during her year's reign.

One of the quirky displays at the fair is the butter sculpture of Princess Kay. She will sit in a refrigerated booth surrounded by glass while the sculptor works (sculptor Linda Christenson has done this for 46 years!!), and visitors can watch the sculpture in progress. It is created from a 90 pound block of butter from a farm in New Ulm. It takes between six and eight hours to complete, and at the end of the fair, the princess can take the butter home with her.

The current Princess Kay, Haley Hinrichs, and her butter sculpture:

What are Pinto, Arabian, Draft, Paint, and Appaloosa?

They are types of horses, and you can see them being handled at the State Fair as well. Horse competitions called 'Dressage' take place every year at the Minnesota State Fair.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Do You Know How To Fry An Egg?

You probably aced most of your classes in high school, and now you're ready for The Great Adventure aka college. You're learning how to navigate Financial Aid, purchase your textbooks, and get your housing set up.

But, what about the practical side of life? Before you leave home, here are some things that are really helpful to know when there's no parent to help, aka Adulting 101:

  • Could you make your own doctor or dentist appointment? Do you know who to call? Do you know how to get a prescription filled? There is often an on-campus clinic; otherwise, you'll have to find somewhere nearby that you can be seen. Check with your parent about what clinic or doctor is covered by your medical insurance, and how that will work. You can't generally just go anywhere you choose, because your medical insurance won't pay for it. Make a list of clinics that work with your insurance.

  • Do you have a place where all your passwords for important stuff is kept? There should be another place besides your phone: Phones run out of battery just when you need them, they break, and they get lost. One good idea is to write your passwords down but have a friend keep them.
  • Can you check the oil level in your car? Check the tire pressure? Can you change a tire? Would you know what to do if your car conks out? Have a parent or someone show you how to do basic maintenance, and seek out a mechanic that might be a possibility if you need one, close to campus.
BONUS: NEWS FLASH: Did you know you might be able to save on your insurance premiums if you are not bringing a car with you to campus? You don't need full coverage if you won't be driving it, and you can put coverage back on if you go home on break. There can also be reduced premiums if you're going to have your car, but will live in a more rural area (not in the Twin Cities). Ask your insurance agent about these potential savings.
  • Can you use an ATM?

  • Do you know how to check your bank balance online? Do you keep track of your purchases?
  • What would you do in an emergency? For example, if you had a car accident-Do you know where your insurance company's number is? You should have an insurance card in your wallet or in your car. What about a medical emergency? Or, what would you do, or where would you go, if your dorm was unavailable because the water main broke? Or if the power went out?
  • Do you know how to do a load of laundry? How to sort colors and whites? How much detergent to use? How to dry clothes? How to fold them? Have someone show you how before you find yourself with no clean clothes.

  • Do you know what items constitute healthy or healthier eating? Why should you not eat pizza seven days a week? Remember your basic food groups? Have. Some. Fruit. And. Vegetables.

  • How does your college communicate important news to you (like campus is closed due to weather, the most hoped-for news): Is it through your campus e-mail? Check it every day!
  • If there is public transportation near you, do you know how to use it? How do you get a bus token or pass, and where does the bus take you? How long will it take to get where you're going? Is there a shuttle bus that can take you to and from campus? How does that work?
These are things you might want to consider as you move into adulting: you can do it, and what you don't know, you can learn. Because those that came before you, learned how to adult, and you can, too.

Monday, August 14, 2017

What Not To Bring To College: 25 pair of jeans and the Dreaded Futon

Have you seen all the merchandise in stores for 'back to college' or  to 'outfit your dorm'?
I have a secret to tell you: You need approximately none of those things to start your year. New freshmen and their parents tend to be persuaded they'll use all sorts of things, but they won't. Here's a reality check:
The overriding idea is this: Think of a dorm as a home for tiny little miniature gnomes where everything is 1/4 scale. The keyword is 'Tiny.' A typical dorm has just enough room for the twin size extra long 'beds' it has, the tiny desks and perhaps a tiny bookshelf for each person, and there will be a tiny closet. Space for anything you bring in is really limited.

-Doing laundry during college is not going to be a priority. That doesn't mean bring more clothes. Trust me.
-You'd be surprised how little you actually need in terms of clothing:
  • 4 pairs of pants or jeans
  • 4 shirts
  • 2 hooded sweatshirts
  • 2 or 3 pair of shoes (yes, that seems minimalistic to some)
  • 7 pair socks, 7 underwear
  • 2 pair pajamas or what passes for pajamas
  • jackets, one that's really warm for winter
  • winter scarf or hat, mittens or gloves

So much for clothing.

Here are items actually found in a dorm checklist from a well known store. Revised title:
Completely Pointless Items Nobody Ever Uses in College:
  • Iron and ironing board (you will use these never....and this carries on into adult life)
  • Vacuum (you must be kidding)
  • Your own shower curtain (the great majority of dorm showers are multi-stall and not private)
  • Set of dishes ...skip these, or buy four plates and four bowls from Goodwill or a garage sale. All you really need. Ditto silverware.
  • Sewing kit: Would you actually use it? I thought not.
  • A lap desk?? Really?
  • A jewelry organizer... for what?
  • Bed skirt  (that's actually pretty funny)
                                                              Whatever it is, where would you put it?
  • Several sets of sheets .... Nope, you need one set, maybe two. See laundry habits above.
  • Storage trunk. And this would go where?
  • Shoe storage racks. Everyone knows that shoes are thrown on the floor of the closet.
  • Scale.Seriously?
  • Lounge seating. Where is this lounge exactly??
  • Clothing steamer
  • Coffee maker
  • Dining table (they actually suggested that)
  • Garment Bags

  • Skirt hangers (unless you wear skirts all the time, I suppose)
  • Closet organizer (ha!)
  • Gym bag
  • Socks to wear with rain boots
  • An upgraded shower head, if your school allows it
  • Self Tanning lotion, as well as eye cream, foundation, and concealer
  • Formal clutch (that's a purse you use with a formal dress)
  • Formal dress
  • Little black dress
  • Going out purse (??)
  • Sleep mask
  • Tool kit

Remember, you're sharing the tiny dorm with someone else. Be considerate of your roommate, too.
And the most egregious idea ever invented and foisted upon college freshmen and their parents:
(drum roll)                                    ****A futon****

Do not, let me repeat, do not purchase a futon for a dorm room
  • There's not enough room in the dorm
  • They're not fun to carry and wrangle and maneuver into a dorm room
  • They're always bigger than you think they are
  • They're awful to sleep on even if you could get it into the room
  • There's already two or more 'beds' in the room, there is no room for a futon
  • Did I mention there's no room?
  •  Your parent(s) will try valiantly to deliver said futon, and when they've gotten up all 12 floors and realize it won't work, they'll have to bring it back down again. This will not make them happy.
  • On a hot August or early September day, the last thing you want to deal with is moving a futon. Trust me.
  • Yes, you're probably 'lofting' the beds in your dorm. No, that doesn't mean there's room for a futon underneath. A couple of lawn chairs and a cardboard box for a table, yes.

If you want more great examples of what not to bring, simply visit a college campus in the dorm area either at the end of spring or the beginning of fall semester and take a look at the sidewalks and dumpsters: You'll see an abundance of furniture left behind, some of it perfectly good. Those are all things people didn't want or wouldn't fit anywhere, but they didn't care to take back home. You may be able to furnish your first apartment this way....but not a dorm.

Here are some things that actually are helpful:

A Fan.  The great majority of dorms are not air conditioned, and the end of August/beginning of September is hot.

 That's all I can think of. Bring a fan.


Monday, August 7, 2017

Visit the Farmers Market This Summer!

There are lots of Farmers Markets during the summer in the Metro area. There are the larger ones in Minneapolis and St Paul in permanent locations and smaller ones in local communities often simply held in the parking lot of a church or business.
What is a Farmers Market?
It's a space where local farmers can sell directly to you, the consumer--basically, an outside grocery store. There's no admission fee, just walk around and enjoy the experience!

What's the advantage of buying from a Farmers Market?
  • Your food will be much fresher: sometimes, the items were just picked the morning of sale.
  • In most cases, your food has only traveled 50 miles or less to market, not thousands of miles from another country. The food that travels so far has to be treated with preservatives to last long enough to get to the store. Farmers Market food doesn't need that.
  • Farmers can choose to grow produce to sell that doesn't need a lot of 'treatment,' thus giving you new varieties to try
  • The money you give the farmer or his helpers, mostly goes directly to the farmer (they are paying a small fee to have a stall at the market)
  • Often the food sold is organic or pesticide-free
  • The sense of community in a Farmers Market is a very important factor: You and others in your community are buying things grown by neighbors.

  • You will almost certainly find things at a Farmers Market that you won't see at a supermarket.
  • Education: The farmers can tell you all about the things they're selling. A supermarket clerk might not know much about tomatoes or cucumbers or which types keep well, for example. The vendors are more than happy to share knowledge with you-Just ask!
  • Sales at Farmers Markets may encourage farmers to keep farming, thus preserving farmland
  • Farmers can get to know each other and help each other at the market
  • Remember, if prices seem high, these farmers are pricing according to the relatively small amounts they're selling. They aren't selling a hundred acres worth of corn to a supermarket, but a couple of acres worth directly to the community. They've figured in what it has cost to produce it and then make a profit. You'll notice most of the farmers there will have similar prices.
 Some excellent explanations of whys and hows about Farmers Markets:
Where are Farmers Markets around here?
Here's a great link giving locations in the North Metro:  There are 139 Farmers Markets in the Minneapolis area!
What do they sell? Each Farmers Market has a different selection, but you may find:
  • Vegetables
  • Fruit
  • Cheese
  • Bread
  • Honey
  • Herbs and spices
  • Baked goods: Breads, pies, and other treats
  • Freshly grown herbs
  • Meat (sometimes)
  • Beeswax candles
  • Homemade soaps
  • Flowers: Buy a bouquet at $7 or less
  • Seasonally available things such as apples, squash, pumpkins in fall
  • Potted plants: Bedding plants, vegetables, perennials
  • Maple syrup
  • Local products: things grown more often in Minnesota than elsewhere, such as blueberries, wild rice, cranberries
  • Sometimes local craftspeople will sell jewelry, art, or other handmade items as well
  • Some vendors sell breakfast or lunch as well, and sometimes there are food trucks
  • Often there are musicians performing at a Farmers Market
I encourage you to visit a local Farmers Market this summer: There's nothing better than fresh!!