40 in 40 bust

My 40 in 40 challenge was a bust for me, but for reasons somewhat out of my control.

I had bad achilles tendinitis last year, which made it almost-impossible to walk at one point, so I had to go to the foot doctor, physical therapy, the chiropractor, and spend a ton of money on new shoes. I spent thousands of dollars on this stuff, along with having to buy a new water softener, so I just couldn’t afford to do many things on my 40 in 40 list.

I also couldn’t physically do some of them. Achilles tendinitis is no joke.

But I’m back on the mend and feeling so much better, so any of those things I wanted to do I will, as long as I keep doing all my PT stretches. PT sucks, but I have to admit it helps.

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#37 – Drink on a MN wine trail

Who doesn’t love wine? Personally, I like the sweet ones. Rieslings, Moscatos, bubbly stuff. Some of my favorite wines are from Carlos Creek Winery, a winery in west central Minnesota, near where I grew up.

But there are many other wineries in Minnesota, so one thing on my 40 in 40 list was to get me to explore more of them by going on a Minnesota wine trail.

There are five different wine trails in Minnesota, and when I was exploring them I saw that the Great River Road Wine Trail had a November event where you would get a wine glass, a wine tote bag, and you could visit each winery for wine and food pairings. I contacted my mom and sisters and everyone was game, so on the weekend of November 11 & 12, we hopped in the car (with my sister Tammy as our designated driver), and we hit 8 out of 11 wineries on the trail.

Here’s a map of all the wineries on this trail. We didn’t go all the way down into Iowa, but we did go to La Crescent and made our way back up to Cannon Falls. We didn’t hit all the wineries in Wisconsin just because of how much backtracking we’d have to do based upon where we could cross the river.

We had a great time, and we all came away buying at least a couple bottles of wine throughout the trip, with some of us buying more than others.

Now I need to try a different Minnesota wine trail. Who’s game?

#36 – Try 4 new ice cream joints

Who doesn’t love ice cream? It’s probably one of my favorite things to eat, but I rarely check out local ice cream joints, so this 40 in 40 was to get me to try some ice cream around the Twin Cities.

The four places I tried were: Nelsen’s Ice Cream in St. Paul, Peterson’s Popcorn & Ice Cream in Inver Grove Heights, Cold Front in St. Paul, and Sota Hot & Cold in St. Paul.

At Nelsen’s, they don’t make their own ice cream, they have ice cream from Kemp’s and Cedar Crest, but they give the largest portions ever. My friend Heidi kept telling me that I only needed to order the child size and that we could share it, and I tried to reassure her that I loved ice cream and could handle my own, but she was right. The child size of ice cream was as big as my head, literally. We shared it and it was delicious.

The next place I tried was Peterson’s Popcorn & Ice Cream in Inver Grove Heights. I didn’t know this was a legendary place, but apparently it was a staple in St. Paul for many years, but since 2013 has only been in Inver Grove. Peterson’s makes their own ice cream and I’ve been a few times now. Their Gold Rush ice cream is to die for, and they make a great pumpkin ice cream around the holidays where they literally crumble up pumpkin pies in the ice cream. YUM.

At Cold Front, which is right next door to The Nook in St. Paul, they also don’t make their own ice cream but they sell ice cream from Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream in Madison, WI. I had Cherry Chocolate Chip and it was great. A perfect restaurant outing would be to hit up The Nook for a burger and then pop over to Cold Front for dessert.

The last place I tried was one of two new Thai rolled ice cream shops that recently opened in St. Paul. At Sota Hot & Cold., they have coffee and ice cream rolls, and you can design your own or choose from their signatures. For my ice cream I selected Campfire Cooler, which was full of graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallows. I forget what the base ice cream was (hazelnut or vanilla?), but whatever it was, it was delicious.

One thing I was not expecting with the Thai ice cream rolls is that they’re hard. They melt in your mouth, so it’s not that they’re crunchy, but they do not melt quickly, which makes sense if you think about it. The ice cream you order is mixed together on site, rolled out on a frozen skillet, and then rolled into curls. I have no clue how the frozen skillet works, but it clearly freezes the ice cream really well, and when you watch them do it you can see how hard the ice cream is. You should try this if you’ve never experienced it, even if to just watch how this is done, but it’s also delicious, so it would be a trip well worth it.

#14 – Send 20 cards

Number 14 of my 40 in 40 list was to send 20 cards or postcards throughout the year, not counting Christmas cards. I rarely send anything other than an occasional birthday card and Christmas cards, so I was hoping doing this would get me in the habit of reaching out more via USPS.

I sent my 20 cards, but this did not change any habits of mine…so far. It was nice to get some cards back from people, so maybe in the middle of the year next year I’ll try doing something like this again.

#31 – Bake bread from scratch

My mom is the best baker in the world. I know you think your mom might know how to bake your favorite goodies, but my mom’s are better.

Growing up, my mom was not the person who sat and watched TV or movies, read books, or crocheted. She never liked to sit still. For her, when she wasn’t working, she was gardening, golfing, or baking some delicious desserts.

But only today do I realize why she only made her amazing caramel rolls a few times a year.

For one of my 40 in 40, I wanted to make bread from scratch, so I thought I’d tackle her caramel rolls. I made them with her before (or, really, watched her make them), but I don’t know if I wasn’t paying enough attention or just never realized, but it is a whole-day project.

First you make the dough, which takes a longer than one would think after boiling milk and water, letting it cool, adding the yeast, etc. I forgot to add the eggs, but my mom assured me it would be okay, so I pushed on.

After you finish the dough, it has to rise for at least an hour. As it’s rising you make the caramel and put it in the cake pans, but by the time the dough rises you have to punch it and let it rise for at least another hour. When it’s done rising again, then you roll it out, cut up the rolls, put them in the pans with caramel, and let it rise for at least another hour.

After hours of prep and rising, finally you’re ready to bake the rolls, which only takes 20 minutes. After all that, 20 minutes and they’re done. It’s kind of anticlimactic at that point because it’s been almost SIX HOURS.

My mom’s look better and are all exactly the same, perfect size, but these taste pretty good. I might not have cooked the caramel enough because every once in awhile it tastes a little sugary, but I’m calling this a success.

And I’m going to take my mom’s lead on this one and leave a project like this for special occasions. She would make these a few times a year, sometimes more if we begged, but I thinking I’ll only do this again once every few years, if that. 🙂

#17 – Get a tattoo

I’ve always wanted a tattoo, but could never figure out what I’d want on my body forever, so years ago I told my dad, “I won’t get a tattoo until you or mom die. I’ll get a memorial tattoo.”

The memorial tattoo came sooner than I’d like, but I figured since I told him that I better go through with it, so it was a perfect thing to add to my 40 in 40.

My dad loved lilacs and he planted them everywhere, so when I was trying to think of flowers to include in the tattoo, that was a no-brainer. Instead of having a lilac branch I asked my tattoo artist to take the flowers from a lilac and put them into the shape of a heart.

My sister Shelly had the great idea of throwing a golf ball into the flowers. My dad loved to golf and sometimes he liked to play the whole course, including the trees alongside a hole. This golf ball might’ve been one he was never able to retrieve.

And, lastly, the crown. My dad’s name was LeRoy, which means “The King,” and the smartass never let us live it down. “I am the king, you know,” is something we’d hear regularly, so I knew I had to fit a crown on the tattoo somewhere.

I think he’d be happy his crown got in there.

Miss you, dad.

# 16 – Plan a summer bocce ball lunch at work

Today was an all-staff meeting day in the library, and what better time to take a break and play some bocce ball? I bought myself a new set of bocce balls and this was a perfect day to check this off my 40 in 40 list.

10 of us went outside and got into three groups and we didn’t play bocce ball like the official rules state. Instead, we each had two balls, and whoever got closest got two points, whoever was second got one, and we played until one person hit 10. Each group played about a half hour.

What a nice break in the work day. We’ll have to do this again.