Thursday, December 18, 2014

Three Gifts (not Wise Men)

So there are three gifts so far of which I am very proud.

The first is cookies. My mother used to bake about 20 different kinds of cookies, dozens and dozens, starting just after Thanksgiving and freezing. I have taken a new spin on this — I make 1-3 kinds, and then participate in cookie exchanges so that I have a big variety. This year we had our usual wonderful exchange hosted by our friends Erica and Joe, and then I hosted one for the "First Grade Mafia" which was far more casual and still a ton of fun.

Coming home from the first exchange, we stopped a a great little vintage store I had wanted to go to for a long time called Omforme. While Beatrix tried on amazing vintage hats, I checked out their collection of framed matchbooks, and thus inspired went home to dig through my big jar and see what I had.

Most of them I got from my dad and were from his travels as a book salesman — and you would not believe how many of them were hotel matchbooks, which just seems strange now! But there was one amazing one from the dearly departed New French Cafe.

My friend and colleague Andrew is the Executive Director of IFP Minnesota, and his overarching goal is to give our amazing new space the vibe that the New French did, a place where people gather to create and recreate. So I framed the matchbook for him as an indication that I believe in what he's doing and think it will work.


Finally, tonight my friend Nicole flew in from Detroit (where she is currently filing her show Rehab Addict) so she could host her annual holiday party. I knew she would not have a lot of time to put Christmas together, and I wanted to give her something that reflected her love of saving past treasures that others overlook. So I whipped up a little tree decoration from a falling apart book someone had left in our Little Free Library:


Three very quick things, but to me, all indicative of the spirit of the season.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

First Recital

Beatrix has taken piano this fall through Project Cheer, a free program of the Shubert Club. I can't say enough great things about it — she learns a ton (including music theory) in just 15 minutes a week!

We were also given a piano earlier this fall, and so she can practice at home. Practicing has been … trying … lately, but she's getting a sense of the work needed to do well.

Today was her first recital. Her song was "Jolly Old Saint Nicholas" (Christmas themed recital), and she nailed it! I was so proud of all the work that she has done and how well she did. It was also good for her to see that the other kids sometimes make mistakes, too, and just move on.

So proud!





Thursday, December 11, 2014

Creative Crowdfunding

One of my New Year's resolutions was to back four Kickstarter campaigns, so that I could find out more about how crowd funding works and to get savvier so I could help my clients more. I have to admit, though, the more I learned, the less I liked. Whereas tech Kickstarter campaigns seemed to bring in early adopters and get a lot of buzz, arts funding seemed more problematic — whether it was Kickstarter, Indiegogo, or any of the smaller engines, nothing seemed to grab me. (I have to admit my final gift was to a Go Fund Me site for a pet).

But last night, I went to a great presentation from Seed and Spark, which is exclusively for film-related projects. As well as crowd funding for film production, the site also has a video-on-demand function once the film is completed. Their focus is not on simply getting funding, but on building a strong community for your film production — building long-term relationships and audiences. The idea is then to create concentric circles, so on your NEXT project, you already have a built-in base.

I have pages of notes from the presentation, but their website has fantastic information; if you're thinking of a film or film-related project, I would highly advise checking it out.

Thanks to Erica Anderson and IFP Minnesota, I've totally outdone myself in my resolution — and gained a lot more faith in (some) crowdfunding!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Getting There is Half the Fun

We're on our way back from spending Thanksgiving in New Orleans, which is due for a longer post…later.

But this post is on the magic of road trips.

First of all, we know we are incredibly lucky. Beatrix is an awesome traveller, especially on road trips. In her life, we have driven to New Orleans twice and the East Coast twice, plus numerous smaller trips. We load up the car, we put some good snacks in the back seat, Patrick drives, I navigate, and we get there. We talk the whole way. Beatrix does have iPad time, but she also plays, and reads maps, and talks to us, and complains about our proclivity towards NPR, and it's great.

We're pretty good at scoring hotel deals. Holiday Inns (and the nearly-indistinguishable Holiday Inn Express) are Priceline favorites; Drury Inns, on the other hand, have free dinner (including a full free bar) and big breakfast buffets. We swim, we jump on the beds (shhh), we have great breakfast buffets with eggs and grits. The other night I had a late night tweet from the comfort in a hotel room while eating a Krispy Kreme and drinking beaujolais nouveau. Now THAT'S living.

They always have weird situations, though. Our Byram, MS hotel (where we spent a couple of days doing research) abutted a Christmas tree tent and a not just a mobile home sales location — but one that specialized in repos. Tonight's hotel is full of an extended family drinking Coors Light tallboys in Missou sweatshirts. Takes all kinds.

As we drive, we have wonderful experiences as well. Ice cream in Hannibal, jumping jacks in rest stops, lunch at our favorite Iowa City cafe, crossing the Lake Ponchartrain Causeway. One year we headed down to the St. Louis Arch at about 11:00pm, and it was beautiful.

As we drive, I flip through the AAA-TripTik. I'm told they are going away, replaces by a more google-like version. That means I'm holding on to this one. There's something about turning each page as you go.

I hope our family never outgrows road trips.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Adventures in Jewelry Rental

(NOT a sponsored post. I'm not big-time enough for those).

My friend Lindsi sent me a link to try Rocksbox for free for a month — it's basically a jewelry rental place that sends you curated (?) boxes of jewelry that you can try out, return if you want to exchange, but if you like it. Each box comes with 3 pieces designed to be worn together, and since I don't wear rings, mine has a bracelet, earrings, and necklace.

It's kind of fun to get the boxes, because they are super cute:



At first I was not bowled away by any of the pieces, but I liked stretching my usual, rather conservative, jewelry choices. Patrick has especially liked me wearing bigger earrings.

I really liked the statement necklace they just sent, and I have gotten a lot of compliments on it. But, even at the "member discounted" rate of $40, it's more than I could justify spending right now.

So yesterday, I had some Herberger's coupons, and managed this knock-off basically for free (I had a $35 coupon, this was $33.20, so I added a pair of socks to get both for a grand total of $2.18).

It's not perfect, but I am pretty proud of both my bargain abilities and of my pushing the envelope a little stylewise.

Rocksbox has some deal good through today (November 16) only, where you can get a free month if you use my code. It's http://curebit.com/x/FjXlH3. I think I get a $25 purchase credit if you become a member, though I'm not sure I'll stick around that long.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Re-Use

(I hadn't originally planned a post on frugality on the day after the election. But it just came out this morning. Hmmm….)

The other thing that has been making me happy lately is re-using things. The other day my awesome friend Sarah gave us several bags of her daughter's hand-me-downs, and Beatrix looks awesome right now in a new-to-her outfit. Last night, I hung "new" curtains in the guest room, also passed down, that make it look 100x more polished an put together.

I have also become part of several neighborhood Buy/Sell/Trade boards on Facebook (including starting one in our neighborhood, which you should join if that's where you live!) Through those boards, I have managed to sell many things I no longer need, like a one piece at a time garage sale. It amazes me the things that people are crazy about, and the ones they pass up. But my "magic milk box" usually yields a few dollars a day when I put things out for people to pick up, and it adds up fast!

At the same time, I have been able to get great things off of those boards — a skirt I get compliments on, a lovely small table, some free eggplant — all while building community. Each board has its own characteristics and people, who you get to "know." Some want a deal, some want the challenge of the hunt, some are truly dedicated to a zero-waste lifestyle.

It's been a year where I have become much more dedicated to re-use, and our lives all the better for it as well!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Grateful

I'm feeling intensely grateful today. For a hot minute I thought about doing a post-a-day kind of thing in November to highlight all the things I am grateful about, but who am I kidding that I would keep that schedule up. So here, in no particular order, are just a few things I am grateful for:

-  My friend Tracy, who offered to carpool to ballet yesterday. We brought her daughter there, and then she brought Beatrix home, but not before taking her out to Bread & Chocolate for a treat. Beatrix now things that Tracy is the best mom in the world, but hey, she is probably right. And thanks to that carpooling, I for several small paint touch-up projects completed.


-  Soup. My friends Erica and Joe host a Soup Swap every year. Everyone brings six quarts of soup, and collects and trades with others. So now our freezer is full of delicious soup. Honestly, anything that can make dinner less of a chore in our household is welcome (and even more so to Patrick the usual chef).

-  Cleaning teamwork. Today we spent hours and hours cleaning Summit to within an inch of its life, the kind of deep clean it really needed and has not had in forever. I mentioned that cleaning that house made me a little sad, because it also reminded me of All The Things we need to do over there. But at least this was one big step to making it better, and we were a fantastic team. (And over here we also got a lot of Beatrix's clothes cleaned through, finished the paint touch-ups, cleaned up her playroom, listed — and sold — several things on neighborhood Buy/Sell/Trade boards, and did laundry.) That extra hours is golden.

-  My pack-rat tendencies. Tonight we relaxed by watching some Rehab Addict, and Patrick always laughs and says the reason that Nicole and I get along so well is that we are always saving and re-using things. But recently, we pulled some of my old toys out of the attic at Summit, and Beatrix has LOVED playing with them. It makes me really happy.