Sunday, August 14, 2016

Two Meals, Two Shows

Those of you who have stuck with this blog for awhile will remember that I used to do a lot more theatre reviews and restaurant reviews. I've lost steam on them lately for  number of reasons (like lack of babysitters). But I am happy to say that I caught up with both a little, thanks to buy birthday and the Fringe.

On Friday, for my birthday lunch, we headed to Red River Kitchen. Saint Paul has not known what to do with that site for a long time; I have seen a lot of proposals come and go. But apparently what needed to be done with it was simply to spend a few thousand cleaning it up, then let a permanent food truck do the foo service. The atmosphere is fresh and lovely, and the food great!

There is a wide variety of kinds of food. That said, it adds up fast, which I find happens at most similar places (think Sea Salt and Dockside). Lunch for 3 of us, including beers for Patrick and myself, was $51.20. That said, Patrick had a more expensive item (the crab noodle bowl), and Beatrix had a hot dog, fruit salad, and a bottle of water, which added up to $15 just for her. I had fish tacos, which were great, and a delicious blueberry beer. We ran into a friend, contemplated a game of corn hold, enjoyed looking out over the river at the Irish Fair, and generally had a great time. Highly recommended.

Last night, my cousin's daughter was free to babysit, so we ran off for a quick dinner at Mucci's. They don't take reservations, and I have been scared by the lines there before it opens, but we timed it perfectly and the friendly hostess got us a table right away. We proceeded to try the Mucci's Juice (fanta and red wine, yum!), a chop salad, and two deliciously simple (and large) fried pizzas. Great food, a lovely atmosphere, and some of the best staff I have seen in a long time — friendly, but not obsequious. I would like to go every week, if I could.


Last year, we hosted The Fourth Wall when they were in town for Fringe. For various reasons, we could not billet this year, but they were kind enough to give us some comps, so we hit some Fringe shows on closing night tonight. (For far better Fringe coverage than I will skim over here, check out One Girl, Two Cities.)

It felt like a waste to see only one show on a wristband, so we headed first to Circus McGirkus. I honestly had expected something a little more circus-y (though there was some good hand-balancing), and perhaps a bit riskier with the dance elements. There were some very charming moments, however, so it fit well my Fringe theory of "see what you can and you might be surprised how much you like it."

Fourth Wall's show (Fruit Flies Like a Banana: Alphabetical Disorder), though, hit it out of the park. We had loved the show last year (as did the rest of the Fringe), and I was afraid I might not be as impressed this year. Their shows that we have seen to date are all based on short vignettes — the audience picks a card, or a letter, or whatever, and then they perform the piece that goes with that. And by "perform" I mean percussion, bass, and flute (and toy piano, and ukulele, and...) along with wildly imaginative movement (HOW does Hillary play the flute, upside down, while being carried by Neil?) So in any case, the show did exactly what it did for me last year — reassured me that the power of inventive, cross-platform performance is still very much alive. I don't know what these guys are up to next, but whatever it is, you should see it.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Spy Stories

My fascination with  WWII history began at an early age. My mother was very interested in it, and I remember reading (and watching) The Holocaust in fourth grade and being told by a teacher's aide to put it aside for later. Since then, I've devoured as much about it as I could.

I was initially disappointed in Avenue of Spies. A quick skim through the book showed a rather dry past tense writing that is just not my preferred style. I came close to just putting it aside. It clearly had a lot of research and information in it, but I was just not sure it would captivate me.

But I had it with me for a weekend away, so I sat down by the lake to read it and was soon taken in. The true story, of an American doctor married to a French woman and practicing in Occupied Paris, was really captivating, as was their involvement in the Resistance. The French WWII story is so often overlooked, and is extremely complex.

The more I read, the more I got involved with the story, and the more engaged I got. In the end, I'm really glad I stuck it out.

(As usual, I received this book form Blogging for Books in exchange for my unbiased review)

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Summer of S'Mores

I thought this would be a sophisticated summer. After all, we started with a week in Paris.

I thought it would be The Summer of Fizz, with gin fizz drinks a-plenty. Some theatre, concerts, maybe jazz. Music in the park. Classic films. Champagne brunches. Long novels. Croquet.

Instead, it's kind of been the opposite of that. We've gone up to the cabin twice, gone to girl scout horse camp, gone camping with Beatrix's troop. We've canoed, and gone on picnics. We've gone to farms, fed the animals, cuddled kittens, collected eggs. Instead of gin drinks, we have had A LOT of s'mores. It's been more about DQ than gourmet ice cream. We've adopted a scruffy new dog and taken him on walks. Beatrix's favorite two camps have been the Warner Nature Center and DayCroix. She is tan, and a little scabby and bug-bitten.

And that's exactly how summer should be.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

They Call Me a Francophile, At Least They Know I Know Where France Is

Our Paris trip earlier this summer is quickly fading into memory, and I didn't even write about it all that much.

I did not tell you about the joys of walking to the same patisserie each morning for a pan au chocolat and hot, strong coffee, and being recognized by the counter girls.

I did not tell you about making a new friend and walking the rainy cobbles of Montmartre.

I did not tell you about the sun setting oh-so-late, so you stop at a sidewalk cafe bustling with people long after dark for wine and chocolate mousse and revel in all being up late.

I did not tell you about champagne with Rosy in a square with fountains in the middle.

I did not tell you about the light on Notre Dame.

I did not tell you about the wonder in Patrick and Beatrix's eyes when they first saw Saint Chapelle, and the Orangerie.

I did not tell you about the mix of the old and the new with new art installations placed into Versailles. Or the Pont des Arts.

I did not tell you about a Seine boat ride in the pouring rain.

I did not tell you that the Bridge of Locks had been taken down, so locks spring up all over the city.

I did not tell you about the dog in the basket the night of our anniversary dinner.

I did not tell you about the dogs all walking perfectly with their people, not needing leashes.

I did not tell you about walking narrow streets, peering into courtyards.

I did not tell you about the shop filled with butterflies, and shells, and a stuffed yak.

I did not tell you about the exhibit at the Pompidou Center that we loved so much we went back to, twice in two days.

I did not tell you about Beatrix blowing bubbles off the top of the Eiffel Tower, or sailing a sailboat in the Jardins de Luxembourg.

I did not tell you about so much. But it is all in my memory.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Drawing Lesson

It's been a long time since I've spent much time drawing. Patrick has gotten into it recently, in a Sketchnote manner. But I've just put to off. SO I was supper excited to check out The Drawing Lesson.

I'm not a big graphic novel fan, so I had my doubts that this would work, but wanted to give it a try. And the truth is, I liked it. It was clear on drawing concepts and the reasons behind them. Did it inspire great creativity? No. But did it give me the motivation to pick up a pencil and paper again? Yes, to some extent. I'm excited to see what I might draw next.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my review, but all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Paris Bedroom

We really had a great Paris trip. Beatrix in particular has been enamored of all things Paris since we got back.

And, as you can see, it was really time to do something about her room.

So, yesterday Patrick and I carved out some time, channeled our best HGTV personas, and really worked on it. We knew there were some embellishments we wanted to make, and that the new furniture was not working. We knew we wanted a Paris theme; I had picked up some items off a Buy/Sell/Trade board. Then, that morning, someone posted on a board that her daughter had just dismantled her Paris-themed room and wanted to give it to another girl. So we went right to work.

We created a book nook, as a cozy place to read (Beatrix had loved a similar place at the Bastille Day celebration we went to on Sunday). We also replaced a heavy wood bookcase with a metal one that was in the basement, spray painting it for a shabby chic look and adding a globe.

She has a new Paris bulletin board, I touched up her dresser (which used to belong to a friend of my mom's) with chalk paint, and she has room there for her Bratz chairs so they are no longer in the living room.

Here's the whole thing, with the new bed linens (and a skirt accent I made with tulle), some Paris decals, and Paris photos.

I'm really pleased with how it turned out! And Beatrix loves it! (maybe this will inspire her to keep it clean).

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Hurrah for the Red, White, and Blue

Because what better way to spend the 4th of July weekend than coloring poolside with an adult beverage?

I've worked with a string of fun coloring books lately, and this was no exception. Unlike other books, these do not all tie into each other and flow into a longer story; there are nine artists involved, so they are sufficiently varied. I liked this, because I liked the way each collaring page was a separate project. They also had a nice variation in complexity, with some pages very complex and others far simpler. It was a nice book to share with my 8-year-old daughter (who, truth be told, likes the more complex ones).

The best part, though, is that each collaring page has a facing page with a quote, hymn, or other history, so it's a good read as well — again, another nice thing to share with a history-fascinated young girl!

(I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my review, but all views are my own).