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House Inspo: The Dinette

Dear Diary,
These are not my ideas, but thanks to social media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest, I've fallen in love.
The takeaway from previous conversations Nick and I had on the subject is that we will be keeping the existing woodwork in the home.
While, admittedly, I am not the biggest fan of the basic light wood tone, I cannot deny the asset of our home showcasing real wood.
The challenge now, is how do we update it so it feels fresh and modern?
Today's post is going to focus on the dining area of our great room. The kitchen, dining and family room are all open to each other, and a 2-sided fireplace separates the space from what I feel will be best utilized as a library.
First, I found the pendant light fixture that will one day hang above our heirloom table. It was passed down to us, and the space is large enough to keep our leaf in! Currently though, one of the set's six chairs is positioned at a built-in desk. It's a little awkward, but it works for now so we aren't fussing over it.
Back to the light. I love the simplicity of it's shape, because the drama is in the shadows it casts against the ceiling and walls. While it also comes in silver, I feel the gold will accentuate the warmth of the woodwork best.
(source: Pinterest) 
The dinette includes access to our deck, and the configuration is octagonal in shape. A door is flanked by two tall and thin windows. While we haven't discussed doors for the house, I am leaning towards balancing the warmth with deep navy curtains.

(source: Pinterest) 
I pulled this picture to reference both the navy curtains and the collection of ginger jars.
(source: Pinterest) 

(source: Pinterest) 
A grid of these prints would fit the expanse of wall space between our family room and dining space.
(source: Instagram)
I saved this image because I really like the look of the tufted dining chairs, and utilizing bench seating for the other side of our table. I feel like the chairs on the side the family room is on "obstructs" the visual space, and I like the inviting feel of this set-up.
(source: Amazon) 
In the meantime, however, I have 6 navy chair cushions on my Amazon wish list.

Personal opinion alert: I do not like the look of rugs or carpet under dining tables and feel flooring is best for easy clean-up. However, since we are so early in the process (as in, we haven't started ANY process), I can't provide any insight as to what kind of flooring we would purchase.

Plus, who knows - by the time we feel ready to tackle projects, my vision may change. For the purposes of documentation though, this is a good start.

More House Inspo discussed here.

Minnesota Vikings vs San Francisco 49ers Preseason at U.S. Bank Stadium- Minneapolis

Dear Diary,

Sunday's adventure was inspired by the $17 ticket prices I found online. The 27th was also Landen's original due date so we ran with that significance to continue his birthday celebrations.

With but a week to go until the start of school, we've been doing our best to make the most of it. I told the kids we'd get to the stadium early to check it out before the 7 p.m. kick-off.

U.S. Bank Stadium is the new home of the Minnesota Vikings, and quite the addition to the Minneapolis skyline. In February 2018, Super Bowl 52 will be played here. It was built on the former site of the Metrodome, which if you recall, the roof had collapsed prior to its closing in 2013. Before playing at the Metrodome, the Vikings played on the site that is now the Mall of America in Bloomington.

This fixed-roof stadium was opened to great fanfare in 2016, having been deemed "construction complete" 6 weeks before the official ribbon cutting ceremony. The total budget for the project was $1.061 billion, and I have to say, it's evident. 

(Landen's typical "why must she touch me" expression ...)

The kids and I took the Light Rail into town.

And Landen is especially excited to have football back in his life. He doesn't seem to latch onto a team in particular, but rather, follows the careers and stats of certain players. All afternoon and into the evening, he informed his sister and I of these facts and announced his prediction of who'd play here in the Super Bowl (Seattle vs Patriots).

We were in section 327, right above the entry tunnel, and we had quite the perspective of the field and the game itself. Though Landen wished to have a closer contact with the players, I do think you're able to see a lot more when positioned here.

I love that the Minneapolis skyline is visible through the windows.

Officially, this is the 3rd NFL stadium I've been to but my first NFL game. It was an exciting one at that - the Vikings rallied in the final seconds to win by 1 point. It was made extra special that I was able to get this one-on-one time with my kids.

We knew plenty of friends had made their way to the game as well, but we mostly played it by ear. Three moved seats closer to us for a quarter, but unfortunately we weren't able to meet up with another couple before the game ended. It was more crowded than I expected for a preseason game, but considering how impressive the stadium is, I can certainly see the appeal whether you're a fan or not. If I can secure cheap tickets again for a future home game, we'll be back.

Dirt Road Sunsets

Dear Photography Diary,

I waited a few days posting these two photos.

I shot them the evening of the eclipse, and Lord knows I was over the over-abundance of related posts.

Still, I find it rare to witness such a vibrant pink. I feel the norm here are the "sky on fire" -type sunsets, so I couldn't resist grabbing my camera and running up the dirt road.

When it's Raining on Sunday

Dear Photography Diary,

Rain showers delayed our Sunday plans.

But not to worry. The kids had an activity waiting on standby.

The Dakota County Line

Dear Photography Diary,

There's a unique juxtaposition here; the wide open sky, the dirt roads, large properties, and yet it's located within the boundaries of a city with a population of over 55,000 people.

One one side of the road is Dakota County. The other, Scott.

And while there was a poor judgment call to straddle the county line without bike helmets, we set off to explore the quiet street on which we now reside.

One of our neighbors is a cattle farmer. His 'Private Property' signs became more and more illegible as you go along.

Security is pretty tight around here. Not sure how anyone will get passed that gate ...

Just up the road from our property, we stumbled upon this sign.

Here is the "Hobbit House," an adorable red cottage.

Crazy Horse Monument and it's Controversies - Crazy Horse, SD

Dear Travel Diary,
I was 10 years old and preparing to enter 5th grade when my family road-tripped through the Black Hills. This was at the height of my Laura Ingalls Wilder obsession, so I insisted we stop at their burial plots. In fact, I'm fairly certain my mother still has the photos I took of the headstones ...
I digress.
Nick and I were able to give our children a similar Black Hills experience about a year ago. With the exception of visiting pioneer cemeteries, we visited South Dakota's famous monuments.
I was a little disheartened that it appeared little progress was made to the Crazy Horse monument in the 20 years since I last visited. But then again, this project receives no federal funding and relies solely on private donation.

I wondered why that is.
I began to dig a little deeper into the story and the history that surrounds the site, and what I learned was very enlightening and quite disheartening.
It's because there is a lot of controversy that surrounds this site. Polish sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski began work on Crazy Horse in 1948 at the request of Henry Standing Bear, who was chief of the Lakota. Standing Bear is quoted in 1939 saying that he wants the "white man to know that the red man has heroes also."
But, the descendants of Crazy Horse feel the Chief didn't have the right for such a request to be made. In 2003 Elaine Quiver, a descendant, said Lakota culture requires the consensus among family members and they were never asked.
No permission was granted for someone to carve Crazy Horse's image into the Black Hills, land that is considered sacred to the Lakota. Their burial grounds are located there. It's for this reason one can speculate Mount Rushmore also violates this. South Dakota's monuments are considered a desecration of native land. 

The Crazy Horse Memorial site includes a museum dedicated to preserving the rich history of Native Americans, which helps to fund the memorial. Knowing what I know now, I'm no longer sure if this was the correct way to honor Crazy Horse.
It's this quote regarding the topic that resonates with me most: in a 2001 interview, Lakota activist Russell Means said, "Imagine going to the Holy Land in Israel, whether you're a Christian or a Jew or a Muslim, and start carving up the Mountain of Zion. It's an insult to our entire being."

The Mystery of the Universe Could Be Answered in Lead, South Dakota

Dear Travel Diary,

I read this article the other day, drawn by its headline, "Secrets of the universe may lie in an old gold mine in South Dakota."

Specifically, Lead, South Dakota, and at the very gold mine we stopped off to check out during last year's MEA Road Trip.

Related Post: Weekend Warrior: Driving Across South Dakota

This past week scientists have begun to work on the largest U.S.-based particle physics experiment at the old mine, suddenly breathing new life into a city 140 years after the Black Hills Gold Rush cemented its founding.

One thousand scientists from 30 countries flocked to this small town just up the hill from Deadwood, and they all seek to answer one question: Are mysterious particles called neutrinos the reason we are here?

I don't know. But I do know, it's been cool to follow a story connected to a place we've been to. I will be keeping my eye on Lead, and I will be interested to learn what the scientists discover.

Related Post: Deadwood, South Dakota

There it is - the open pit gold mine currently receiving International attention ...

Approximately, 41 million ounces of gold were pulled from the Homestake Gold Mine over a period of 126 years. It was so deep that I couldn't see nor even attempt to photograph its bottom.

Evidence of Lead's mining past still lingers.

... Which the kiddos opted to climb anyway.

Watch this space!

Deadwood, South Dakota

Dear Travel Diary,
If there exists a city that holds my curiosity within its grasp, Deadwood is one of them.
Named for the dead trees found strewn throughout its gulch, this old 3.83-square mile mining town tells many a tale of intrigue, mystery and legend. Gold was discovered in them hills in 1874, and as we drove, we found gold seekers panning in the creek in search of their fortune.
As Deadwood preserves it's history, its Gold Rush-era architecture seems to follow suit. When you consider the infamous outlaws and notorious visitors who passed through, it's easy to see why there exists such an appeal to explore.
In fact, the entire town is listed as a National Historic Landmark District.

And like the gunslingers a century before us, we were also just passing through. We were on our way to Lead, a town founded to work its massive open pit gold mine.

It's downtown is a mix of the historic and the modern, which clashed as we drove up the main street.

I look at this picture, and feel that cars do not belong here.

Deadwood's most famous story focuses on 'Wild Bill' Hickok. Within these city limits, this Old West lawman and gunslinger met his demise while playing poker at one of the saloons. There were quite a few signs pointing the way towards Mt Moriah Cemetery, where he is buried.

Long before the Gold Rush and its fortune seekers, Deadwood began as an illegal settlement on land that had been granted to the Lakota people. In fact, many of our nation's main tourism draws in South Dakota are located on sacred Lakota land.

That very brief introduction will become ever more important in the near future, when I talk about the Crazy Horse Monument in a future post.

In total, we probably spent 10 minutes in Deadwood. It was a brief introduction, but still a conversation I hope to continue soon.

Kemah Boardwalk - Kemah, Texas

Dear Travel Diary,
I mentioned recently that ValleyFair reminded me of the Kemah Boardwalk, so I thought I'd explain why. We spent the day in Kemah as part of our October 2015 trip to Texas. When the school calendar offers a long weekend (especially as the weather turns in Minnesota), you take advantage!
Located just 20 miles from downtown Houston, the Kemah Boardwalk opened in 1997. It currently operates 15 rides, plus an arcade and a Midway on 35 acres beside the sea. It all translates to a fun, family environment that was named one of the top 10 American boardwalks by in 2009.
See? Not even in the park, and the kids are having a blast!

The 65-foot Ferris Wheel is a ride our family enjoyed a few times.

But for Madelyn's money, the park's 36-foot double-decker carousel was a must-see. I think the ride operator mentioned the ride opened in the early 1900s.

We also toured the grounds via the park's novelty train.

The Boardwalk Tower has the best views of the bay, the boardwalk and the surrounding area.

The Boardwalk overlooks Galveston Bay, which was docked with plenty of fishing and shrimp boats.

The Boardwalk Bullet is an all-wood roller coaster that opened in 2007. It's 96 feet tall with a 3,236-foot long track built on a 1-acre footprint, making it one of the most compact roller coasters in the world.

We left the area filled with the rides and made our way to the Midway.

With its proximity to Galveston Bay, its coastal influence was felt in the architecture of the area. There were quite a few seafood restaurants, and the 'hurricane evacuation zone' signs reminded me of how ruthless Mother Nature can be some times. For our stay, she was really showing off with beautiful clear skies and warm sunshine.

The is a 50,000-gallon aquarium on site, and adjacent is Stingray Reef where visitors can touch and feed live stingrays. Nope, I did not participate. Admittedly, I was freaked out by them. Nick of course held no reservations about feeding them. Have we forgotten what happened to Steve Irwin?

If you go:
215 Kipp Ave, Kemah, TX 77565
*There is no charge to walk around the Boardwalk but individual or all-day ride passes can be purchased.