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Showing posts from December, 2010

Kindle-d

They must have noticed I was eyeing a Nook.

I was a Kindle early adopter; I got the K1 soon after Beatrix was born and it's the device that saved me during 9 months of almost exclusive pumping. It has also caused me to be less cranky about people being late (if I don't have the device on me, I can even read on my phone!), and made travel much easier.

But lately, I've been Not So Enamored. E-book prices, which used to never be over $9.99, have gone up, and I've been putting most things on hold at the library (I am currently #46 of 77 holds for one book, thank you for asking, but many are faster). The battery on my Kindle is really starting to go, as in it only lasts a few hours. And I've been having some recent download issues that have taken some long customer service calls to solve. And, unlike other e-readers, you can't "borrow" e-books form the library.

Today, Amazon announced Kindle lending. I'll be the first to say, it's still not per…

Year End Giving

It's the end of the calendar year, that time when we recover from Christmas, mourn the fact that our New Year's Eve plans are not more exciting, return gifts, make resolutions, eat Christmas cookies for breakfast every day, fall into a morass at work if we go in at all (or are completely overwhelmed by things), try to see the Oscar-bait movies released, spend down our flex plan dollars and insurance deductibles (thus my foot surgery today), and make end of the year charitable donations.

If you're doing the latter, may I make some suggestions? Make it easy on yourself, just head over to GiveMN with your credit card and knock off a few donations, maybe with your spouse and a glass of wine tonight. I really can't recommend the following places highly enough — they are all great organizations that will do wonders with even the smallest amount of money:

- Skewed Visions: I sit on the board of this site-specific company, and their work will change your life. Currently we&…

Crafty Christmas

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This is probably the point where I should admit my utter addiction to craft blogs. I LOVE looking through them and fantasizing about all the lovely things I could make it I just had the time...Plus, the blogs themselves are amazing — tons of entries, great pictures, all kinds of creative ideas. My idea of a perfect afternoon would be a gift card to a craft store and several hours to wander around, even if I got little done afterwards. There's a lot to be learned from craft blogs.

I especially value homemade holiday gifts, and I wanted to pass on that value to Beatrix. So this year, we made candles for her teachers and for some of the people I work with. They were dead easy — just design the monograms, cut out, and Modge Podge onto candles. But I think they look nice, Beatrix enjoyed helping me, and we even bough the materials at local independent stores. I can post a picture now, since I have given them all to their intended recipients:



Tonight I also made batches of caramel …

Seasonal Affective Disorder

My family has always been all about Christmas. Over the top decorations, Christmas Eve with Santa, my grandmother getting my grandfather to make reindeer prints on the porch roof, fresh cut Christmas trees filled with ornaments, dozens of kinds of Christmas cookies, lefse, Christmas Eve and Christmas brunch, Dayton's 8th floor, holiday shows, caroling, Christmas lights limo tours, presents both handmade and just what you wanted from your list, Toys for Tots, family from all over the world, Christmas cards, luminaria, parties — you get the picture. I'm hard-wired genetically to love the season.

Until four years ago, when my mom went into the hospital on December 12 and died on Christmas Day.

The next Christmas seemed strange, and then crashed again when my aunt ended up in the emergency room with a lung issue that, for quite some time, seemed like cancer and cost her part of a lung.

We've been building up since then, trying to regain family traditions, a strange mix of love …

Snow-Verwhelmed

We got back to some limited functionality today. The streets were more-or-less plowed, the man who plows the alley removed the 6' snow berm that was just past our garage, we got mail delivery. Oh, and Patrick's car died in front of the house as I was loading Beatrix in to take her to daycare, and less than half an hour before the city town trucks started making their rounds. Luckily, he talked me into being calm and we made it through all of that (plus got lunch at Punch!), but we need a new battery and those aren't cheap (and are hard to wrap and put under the tree).

But honestly, I don't know what we, as a city/community/metro region are going to do. After two snow emergencies, the streets are still only barely passable. Traffic, even on major streets, is moving at a crawl since two cars can barely pass abreast. Under the snow, the streets are icy, and getting more so as cars spin out. Trips that usually take 15 minutes are taking upwards of an hour. Many of t…

A Tale of Two Saint Paul Bars

Ok, at some point I'll stop it with the heavy-handed bar philosophizing, but tonight it seemed right.

We, like everyone else in the Twin Cities, are snowed in. Maybe even more so, since Patrick is specifically prohibited from shoveling, brushing off cars, even driving because of his neck surgery. I am not looking forward to starting the dig out tonight.

But in any case, we did make it through the drifts to the neighbors' Christmas party, and were talking to another neighbor. She was saying that, in the storm last week, she was stuck and had some kind of mechanical car issue, all late at night (she has 2 jobs, so is constantly at work). Stuck in the street, she went over to Sweeney's to ask for help. They flat out told her it was "impossible" for anyone to help her (and none of the patrons offered, either).

Desperate, she went down the street to the Muddy Pig. They not only sent their burliest staff member down to get her out (with plenty of patrons also offeri…

A Tale of Two Uptown Bars

So we had a little bit of a "date afternoon" today, in an attempt to get some quality time together during this crazy holiday/recovery time.

First, we saw Black Swan at the Uptown. We see so few movies, but this was wonderful. Several fantastic performances (hello, Oscars!) and led us to a spirited discussion about art, dying art, living art, and more. Also, I sincerely hope that my daughter's love of all things ballet does not lead to a career as a dance — I can't picture a harder life.

Afterwards, we went, or started to go, to Bar Abilene for happy hour. Now, we have not been to Bar Abilene since Beatrix was born — it's not exactly child-friendly. The last several experiences we had there before then were terrible — a waiter haranguing me for not understanding that a sandwich described as "the mushroom burger" and listing only mushrooms, onions, and pico de gallo as ingredients was actually beef, another issue with food, and then the "margarit…

Non-Holiday Theatre

Looking for a theatre event that's festive, different, and non-holiday related?

Nimbus Theatre is holding a sneak preview of their brand new Northeast Minneapolis space tomorrow afternoon. Come and give your opinion as to what it should include, scope out the space for your shows and events, and generally celebrate a new Twin Cities theatre space!

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Nimbus Open House
1517 Central Ave NE
Wednesday, December 8 • 4:30 - 6:30pm

Snowman

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Pick one ornament to write about? Really? As if there were not an entire treeful of hanging ornaments, and a houseful of decorations pulled out annually, each one with its own involved story? As if there were not boxes of Christmas decorations carefully catalogued and waiting for at my mother's old house, each with their own stories? As if I did not still miss ornaments I no longer have, such as the much-mourned "Dancing Rabbit Blow Horn?"

The truth is that I had one ornament in particular I was thinking of, a baby snuggled in a nutshell cradle, that was mine when I was a child and has hung on the tree since. But my 2.75 year old daughter has fallen in love with the "baby ornament" and takes it with her wherever she goes. It's now clutched in her hand as she sleeps downstairs, with the stand-up Santa my father gave me and the angel that is supposed to go on top of the tree arranged at the foot of her crib. My daughter, who replicates me in so many way…

Holiday Shows

Ok, perhaps it's because I am in theatre, but I love holiday shows. I work with and know so many wonderful, talented people, and when they give the gift of doing what they do best, there's just nothing like it to make me feel humbled and happy and filled with holiday spirit. So here, in no particular order, is what I am thinking of this year:

The Holiday Pageant at Open Eye Figure Theatre. I've loved this show through many incarnations, in large house and small venues, with multiple casts of the finest performers in the Twin Cities. Based on the medieval Mystery Plays (see, you had me there) it's a mix of the sublime and the hilarious. If you're reading this before 4pm on Sunday, we're sponsoring a show in honor of my mother today, so come on down! But of there is one show you should not miss this year (and it's perfect for families, too), it's this one.

A Life of Serious Nonsense is a Theatre of Fools quirky take on holiday spirit. Running Decembe…

Town Talk Diner

As my friend Kate put it, one of the biggest falls from grace in the Twin Cities restaurant scene.

We just drove through the snow on a rare date night (and because we had an expiring DealStork). Let's just say that as we left we were tempted to tell the couple coming in that they might want to hit Denny's across the street instead.

We went because we last summer we went to a Clockwork party that hired out TT bartenders, and at which Patrick had one of the best old-fashioneds of his life. Those bartenders must have been part of the staff walk-out or something. His old-fashioned tonight was watery, flavorless, and to add insult to injury was served in a wineglass (thus only about half the pour after the ice was added).

They were out of many of the items on the menu, which I never take as a good sign. My grilled cheese, a simple enough dish to prepare, was seriously akin to the Denny's. Patrick's meat pie, talked up as as one of the stellar items that the new chef was …