Saturday, October 17, 2009

Escape to Hudson

Thank you so much for bearing with me on my H1N1 hiatus . . . I believe that we are swine flu free now and life has returned to our normal insane pace. So insane that I had to escape to my favorite town on the banks of the St. Croix river—Hudson, Wisconsin. Home of some of my favorite shops in the Twin Cities.
The main drag in Hudson is Second Street, and it is loaded with art galleries, clothing boutiques and handbag shops, restaurants, and jewelry stores. You could easily spend an afternoon wandering around, exploring all of the different stores. I’ve picked out a select few shops that you shouldn’t miss when visiting Hudson, Wisconsin. And tossed in a few restaurant recommendations in case hunger strikes during your Hudson shopping experience.
La Rue Marche
513 Second Street
The jewel of Hudson shopping . . . La Rue Marche offers an eclectic mix of women’s clothing, handbags, and jewelry for the young and young at heart. Owner Lisa Shortridge has an eye for unique pieces and her personal style shines through at La Rue Marche. I’m partial to the array of shoes—which are so beautiful they look like museum pieces but are so very comfortable and stylish you can wear them anywhere—and dresses ranging from cocktail gowns to cozy sweater dresses. 
Women of any age or pant size will easily find something trendy to fit into their wardrobe that is also easy on the pocketbook. Shortridge stocks a wide assortment of jeans of all sizes; a bounty of ballerina flats, wedges, gorgeous heels, and boots; and a rack of the cutest winter coats around. Bargain racks at the front and rear of the store also offer deeply discounted items. Lisa and her staff are incredibly attentive and will work with you to find the look that you seek. Lisa Shortridge also offers exclusive, private parties and wardrobe consultations at your home.
La Rue Marche never disappoints and always brings me back when I’m looking for something truly unique and fun!

SHEER ADDICTION (formerly known as Tamara)
513 Second Street
Located in the back of La Rue Marche is the fabulous SHEER ADDICTION jewelry shop. Tamara Schafhauser creates an amazing line necklaces and bracelets for her Junk Jewels collection. She mixes semi-precious stones with unique pieces of metal collected from markets around the globe. (I have some of her creations with bits from Paris as well as Dallas Texas.) She also has her signature metallic initial necklaces, which are simple yet incredibly stylish and can be paired with any of her other pieces. No two creations are exactly alike. For an eclectic range of jewelry designs, check out SHEERADDICTION.

Et Cetera
507 Second Street
Looking for an interesting hostess gift, wedding present, or Christmas gift? Et Cetera is the place for you. This shop offers a mix of paintings, candles, baubles, and housewares that anyone would love to receive. A favorite of my daughter and I is the Sid Dickens memory tiles that line one of the walls of the shop. Although it was early November when I last visited, Et Cetera had pulled out all of the Christmas trimmings and gorgeous glass ornaments.
Lavender Thymes
512 Second Street   
This trendy boutique offers an array of somewhat spendy girly tops and stylish jeans with price tags to match. Half of the shop offers the Thymes line of skincare products, Crabtree and Evelyn soaps and lotions, greeting cards, gourmet food, and jewelry. A fun little shop to poke around in.
Knoke’s Chocolates
216 Locust Street
This confectionary is just north of the main shopping street in Hudson. Owner Dave Knoke, who can usually be found behind the counter of his shop, offers hand crafted chocolates including truffles, caramels, English toffee, mints, and turtles. I’m a huge fan of the boxed truffles that are delicious and make great little gifts for teachers. Knoke’s is definitely worth a stop!
Élan Clothing and Gifts
218 Locust Street 
This is a grown-up woman’s store by far when compared with La Rue Marche or Lavender Thymes. The clothing sold at Élan is also beautiful but more geared toward work and with a more conservative feel. The sizes and cuts are much bigger, and they don’t carry petites. They also have a wonderful bargain rack on which I’ve found a gorgeous red strapless gown that fits like a glove. They have a nice selection of wrap dresses, sweaters, and boots.
Dilly Dally in the Alley
218 Locust Street
Behind the cash register at Élan lies a staircase. Follow that staircase down and you will discover a sweet little gift shop at the foot of the stairs—Dilly Dally in the Alley. This shop is well stocked with fun wine glasses, earrings, local T-shirts, journals, and fun odds and ends. I think it’s a great place to find a baby or wedding shower gift or something special for your best friend or a favorite sister-in-law. Plus the ladies who work down there are super nice and very helpful.
San Pedro Cafe
426 Second Street
My favorite reprieve from shopping is the San Pedro Cafe. This restaurant is straight out of Belize in more ways than one. Their zesty Caribbean menu offers a selection of wood-fired pizzas, sandwiches, and fresh fish. You can’t go wrong with a selection from their rotating Chef’s Specials. San Pedro Cafe doesn’t take reservations so plan on a short wait unless you arrive early for lunch.
Pier 500
500 First Street
In my opinion the summer is the best time to visit Pier 500 simply because you can eat 
al fresco on their patio and watch the boats sail by on the St. Croix. Unfortunately the outdoor eating days are over for awhile. Luckily the vast inside bar and cozy dining room surrounding the fireplace is very inviting with excellent American cuisine and an extensive wine menu. 
I hope that you will get a chance to explore some of my favorite places in Hudson Wisconsin. Happy shopping!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Duck Hunting . . . Why?

I was woken up at sunrise on Saturday morning to the echo of gunfire. I briefly was confused and wondered why in the world guns were going off around our chain of lakes. Then I remembered . . .  silly me, it’s the start of duck hunting season. That lovely season where hunters—boys and girls as well so I’m told—are out waiting in the water and on the edge of lakes and ponds to take aim, fire, and shoot at ducks. Ducks. Why do we still have duck hunting in Minnesota? 
Maybe the bigger question is why do people still duck hunt in Minnesota? Do we have such an abundance of ducks that their flocks must be culled? I haven’t noticed masses of ducks floating on the lakes or flying in the air. I understand deer hunting with the masses of deer that will starve unless the herds are thinned out, but duck hunting perplexes me. I don’t think many families around here are starving and in dire need of duck meat. Is it really fun rising well before dawn on a cold, wet Minnesota morning to stake out your place in some marshy bog to shoot down little ducks? 
As a runner and dog walker who uses the trails around the lakes and through the woods, the start of these hunting seasons always puts me on edge. I don’t like guns going off around me or the warning signs that bow and arrow deer hunting season has started so watch out! I feel like I should don my blaze orange (if I owned any) to take the dog on his morning walk.
I’m certainly not a hunter, nor is anyone in my family, that’s why I’m hoping someone will enlighten me on the joys of duck hunting. In the meantime, I’ll wear my earplugs so the gunfire won’t wake me up too early in the morning on the weekend.

Bono Loves America

I am a suburban Mom who needs her morning coffee and her fix of U2 to get through the day. Now I’ve been listening to U2 since the mid-1980s and have never had the opportunity to see them live in concert—until this week!
In this century, I have successfully managed to miss both the Elevation and the Vertigo tours so I was thrilled when Mr. Incredible managed to score two tickets to the U2 360° tour at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland last Tuesday night. So what if we had to fly to Washington, DC; we actually had tickets the U2 concert!
On the night of the concert, we left plenty of time to drive from Chevy Chase, Maryland to FedEx Field in nearby Landover. Yes, it was rush hour on the Beltway and although the sun was shining and the pavement was dry, it still took us 2 hours to drive 20 miles. (For you U2 fans out there, that’s listening to No Line on the Horizon twice back-to-back.) But never mind as it was U2, and we had finally arrived along with 80,000 others packing into the stadium. We slid into our seats with our concert tees, drinks, and dinner just as Muse started playing Knights of Cydonia.
I know a lot of you are Muse fans, but I’m a novice and will admit I recognized maybe one of the nine songs they played. I found them incredibly loud which really distorted the sound and made it sound less than musical (for my ears at least). I’m sure I was in the minority as the crowd was very enthusiastic.
Now I’ve seen my fair share of rock concerts, but nothing has ever come close to this show. U2 is a band that is difficult to upstage, but their own stage design nearly overpowered them. A huge spider-like or spaceship apparatus with a stage below and a huge 360° monitor in the middle is the stage design for the 360° tour. It was awe-inspiring throughout the show and made you feel like you really were experiencing the pinnacle of U2.
As the lights went out, the spire on the stage/spaceship/spider-like apparatus lit up, and U2’s drummer Larry Mullin, Jr. drummed his way onto the stage and led the band out to the strains of Breathe off of their latest album. As U2 rocked on with more songs off of their current CD as well as the old favorites; you couldn’t help but get caught up in the sheer momentum of U2. Bono would direct the crowd to move their arms one way or sing part of the song and they did!
Is U2 always this “over-the-top” live? Highlights (for me at least) included:
  • Mysterious Ways played live as it is one of my personal favorites.
  • The incredible light show emitted from the set for the notorious pop songs Vertigo and Beautiful Day. Perfectly in-synch with the spaceship stage
  • Bono and Andy—a 10-year-old boy that Bono pulled out of the crowd to run around the circular catwalk part of the stage at shoulder height of the crowd below.
  • My Blue Room was just so odd and out of place. I’m adding it as a highlight because the song was so obscure and almost out of place from the rest of the show. A Russian astronaut on the space station??
  • The Sikh in a turban who Bono pulled up onto the stage with his American flag for part of Sunday Bloody Sunday.
  • Bono’s explanation of why he loves America. His political banter ranged from Iran to Burma to dedicating Beautiful Day to Eunice Shriver and New Year’s Day to Teddy Kennedy. Given the amount of time Bono spends in the States, he truly loves America, or at least loves the money our government gives him to support his worthy causes.
  • The six song encore that ended with With or Without You and Moment of Surrender.

If U2’s 360° tour and spacecraft stage land anywhere near you, what are you waiting for? Get out there and buy tickets to experience this phenomenal show! U2 is truly at the peak of their career and pack an amazing amount of energy into a 2 1/2 hour set. I’m hooked and would see them again if they came anywhere near Minnesota.