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Showing posts from 2011

2012 Resolutions

Alright, here I go...

1) Learn to knit.
2) Write 100 paper letters to various people in my life, telling them something I really like about them.
3) Pay more attention to the communities in which I live and work — notice details and changes.
4) Actively promote and advance my friends — connect them with people, ideas, and opportunities.
5) Renovate the new house we just bought (this is kind of a no-brainer, since the city has a timeline on it and since my MIL is moving up to move into it in 6 months)

and two continued from last year:

6) Exercise more, eat better.
7) Have (at least) one friend/couple/whatever that we don't see enough over for dinner a month. (I may even throw in the challenge to cooke something from my friend Robin's cookbook for that meal!)

Two I would like but are harder to measure:

8) Be more creative — make more things. Maybe quantify by "Make one new thing a month."
9) Make our home a more comfortable, relaxing place to be.

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Ok, off in the rain/snow…

Falling Into Place - Part 2

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Ok, there was one thing I didn't mention in my post yesterday because I didn't want to jinx anything for the closing today...

...we bought another house!

It all started in the fall, when I was trying to demonstrate to someone what good deals there were in foreclosures in Saint Paul right now. I went to Edina Realty's website, and there was a house, tucked just behind the state capitol, and looking in pretty good shape, for $7,500.

A few days later, on the way to visit my mom's grave, I convinced Patrick to drive past it. We were pretty impressed by the neighborhood — it's charming, close by, and within walking distance to the new light rail. It's in an area I really had not paid much attention to before, kind of where Frogtown and the North End meet. We called our long-suffering realtor, who took us through it and was also pretty impressed (though he reports his colleagues asked "Where do you find these people?" "Well, the last house I showed them w…

Falling Into Place

A few weeks back my Facebook statuses got everyone all excited because I posted about "things falling into place." No, we didn't buy the house we were lusting after on Summit, basically because we already love the two houses we already have and are having a hard time choosing between them! But a lot of other things have been coming together:

- I picked up two more ongoing clients, which I am really excited about.
- ALL THREE organizational development proposals to MRAC that I was on board for got funded — add those to my standing clients and to several other projects, and I will be a busy girl!
- Meanwhile, Patrick is on course with his next book, and was selected to chair a major conference.
- We were able to rent out the Summit house to a very charming gentleman for the Christmas holidays, and thanks to the Blessings, purchased some great cork flooring to redo the sunroom.
- Our daycare schedule changed, and while it originally looked like it would be a major issue, h…

New Year's Resolutions for 2011

Huh, looking back I realize I really LIKE my resolutions from last year...

1. House: 3 big projects
- finish cleaning and organizing basement - well, we're maybe halfway there...
- finish bedroom - finished and wonderful!
- repaint the exterior and re-do the front porch - done, and we love it!

2. Friends
- Have one friend/couple that we don't ordinarily see over for dinner a month - hands down my/our most successful 2011 resolution. Lots of fun and great to reconnect with people (and connect them with others).

3. Health
- Start exercising more and eating more healthily — MIL's stroke was a big wake-up call for this. - mixed, I do now attend pilates 1x a week and work out on the exercise bike, but not enough

4. Technology
- Some year-end notice for my strange little blog made me realize I need to be more intentional about it. - mixed, there's more to do but I feel pretty good about it.
- Tech in general — I'm tired of Patrick, the techie, having control of All Thin…

Happy Holidays!

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Out of the Mouths...

This morning, as we went to school, Beatrix and I were talking about how nice Daddy was. She then ruminated that "I'm not always very nice to daddy," and when I asked her how replied "I kick him, I tell him the sun [her morning nightlight] is on when it's not..."

We then discussed all the people she was nice to, Daddy and Mommy and Clara and Grandma Tisch ... "And Grandma Mary Lou. Remember when we thought that Grandma Mary Lou was dead but she's not? That was funny." So then we had the whole dead discussion again — happy Monday before Christmas...

When I picked her up tonight, she was having trouble finding her various mittens. We found one, in a bag that suspiciously held one of her teacher gifts she was giving out today — travel mugs filled with chocolate candies. Only this one had a mug — and a lot of candy wrappers. When pressed on this, Beatrix concocted an elaborate story about how Teacher Kelli didn't like chocolate or peanut butter …

Occupying-ing

We're in the process of switching, from Big Bank (US Bank) to small bank (Anchor). The move was actually not politically instigated — it was because of other issues — but it correlates nicely with the Occupy Your Bank Account movement, and falls within the reasons.

I have a small trust, left to me by my mother, which I will not be able to access for some time. The trust was put in the control of US Bank, where it had been invested since my mother inherited it.

When it was first transferred, there were a number of issues, many of which I blamed on the law firm that handled my mother's will (and they were certainly far from blameless.) But, over the years, there have been any number of slip-ups by USB. i would not hear from them for ages — and then would call with a question, only to find that my trust manager had apparently disappeared into thin air. They would take me out to lunch, assuring me I was in the top 1% of their clientele, and then not return my calls. Then they would …

Things My Mom DID Do

A few weeks back, I posted a sad post about things my mom missed out on. Tonight, I am thinking about all the things she DID do, which are many!

- She loved traveling and travelled to hundreds of places, all around the world (many of which we went to together). She took me on my first trip, driving to New Orleans, when I was not even 4. We stayed at the Olivier House, ate at fancy restaurants, and walked down Bourbon Street where I looked through the doors at the "fancy ladies."
- Among those trips, she went through the Panama Canal, stayed in Morocco when the king was visiting, went to her favorite places like Hawaii and Thailand numerous times, brought babies back from Korea, kissed the Blarney Stone one Christmas, went on her own to Brazil (in the early 1970s!), swam with the dolphins, and climbed through rice paddies in the Philippines.
- As well as trips with me, she went on several trips with friends, experiencing exotic places and the fun of just hanging out.
- She w…

Occupy This

I'm not very often at a loss for words. But at least in this case, my friend Jason says this much better than I could have.

November Starts the Holiday Season

First snow today! Beatrix was very excited, but seems to have somewhat inherited my attitude towards snow — it looks pretty and all, but once you get all bundled up and head out for a walk it's still kind of cold and a PITA. Some cocoa cheered her right up, though, and it really is pretty.

Somehow (likely on Twitter?), I had heard that Linder's was doing a holiday lighting festival tonight, so we headed down there after dinner. The greenhouses are lit up so that they really do look magical, and they are filled with Christmas items. It was a completely child-oriented event, and within minutes of walking in Beatrix had received a candy cane and flower seeds from Mrs. Claus, a balloon, and a chocolate chip cookie (she insists, by the way, that chocolate chip cookies are perfectly good Christmas cookies if you draw a tree on with icing. I can't say I disagree. We stood in line for a hayride with Santa, and a large family even let us go ahead of them when there was little room l…

Pizza Lu-Sigh

Like many Americans, pizza is my go-to comfort food. And I have had a love affair with Pizza Luce since my days at Jeune Lune, where pizza from the original location was on heavy rotation — hey, I even served Luce pizza to Kevin Bacon! So, nearing the end of a long week, what better dinner solution than meeting our good friend Leah from A Taste of My Minnesota, and her darling daughters, for some pizza?

Oops.

The evening started simply enough — the waitress forgot to mention it was Happy Hour, but we did solve that and get some drinks, the three girls colored and played with chopsticks, the table next to us, seated at the same time we did, received their pizza quickly and it smelled great. The girls' food came, and our artichoke dip, and we were told the pizza would be soon. And then, nothing.

About 40 minutes in, as the girls were getting squirrely, we asked on the ETA on the pizza. We were told it was "in the oven" (well, I suppose that's good), and it would be out in…

Refugee Furniture

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I saw this dresser several weeks back, in someone's trash behind the Holly Tot Lot, and fell immediately in love with it. Much to Patrick's dismay, I returned later that night with a flashlight and a drill, disassembled it, and brought it home.

But something happened to Patrick when he carried it inside after several days of it taking up too much space in the garage. He saw what I had originally appreciated — this is not a piece of mass market furniture. It's extremely old, handcrafted from oak that was likely hand-milled. The carving on it is slightly primitive, again done by hand. It's kind of battered, and in some disrepair. As Patrick worked on re-assembling the piece, tightening the pieces and getting everything back together, he fell in love with it too.

I ordered some new hardware from the super-super-sale section of Anthropologie, and this morning Patrick put the hardware on and Beatrix and I polished the wood. I'm thrilled to say that the piece looks even be…

Five Years

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I'm having (a lot of a) struggle already, as we move into the holiday season that marks five years since my mother's death on Christmas Day, 2006.

In some ways, it feels stupid, self-indulgent even. Five years is just a number. It doesn't, in itself, mean any more or any less than any other number.

But we humans tend to mark time in landmarks, and there have been a lot of landmarks. Patrick and I have been married for five years (this past June). Five years is twice as long as my mom lived after the diagnosis. Five years is as old as Beatrix's friends Alex and Kelsey. Five years is half the lifespan of my favorite wine shop. And five years is that many Christmases, and birthdays, and Mother's Days, and amazing Beatrix moments, and so many other things.

My mother never got to meet my dog, or two of my cats, or most of all, her granddaughter. She never got to see her nephew get married in Norway, or meet his son. She never got to support any of the theatres I currently …

Happy Halloween!

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Serious mermaid Ariel (before candy):



Silly mermaid Ariel (after candy):


Beatrix, aged 3.75, has figured out "Halloween Time" and it's her second-favorite holiday. Tonight she got to see her aunt and uncle, we stopped at her BFF Governor Dayton's house for candy (but no dogs, sadly), and then we hit the neighborhood for her to get quite a full bag. She's still a little afraid of some costumes, but heartened by the fact that ghosts are probably afraid of princesses. And she insisted on sleeping with her jack-o-lantern in her room.

And I'm trying to put this on a link exchange, so check out the other cuties if I actually get this to work:

edited - cannot get the button to work for the life of me!

I've added the button in the side bar for now if it's easier. The cuteness will slay you!

http://sellabitmum.com/2011/10/29/boo-in-the-blogosphere-halloween-costume-link-up/

All Politics is Local

Beatrix and I drive past the Governor's Mansion on Summit usually several times a day, and when we drove past today, Governor Dayton was throwing the ball for Mingo in the front yard. Beatrix was super-excited to see them, so we stopped and walked up to the fence for a closer look. When Governor Dayton saw us, he put the leash on Mingo, then picked up the new puppy Itasca and brought him to the front steps so that Beatrix could see and pet him. Beatrix was beyond thrilled, and when I mentioned that this made her day (you'll remember a couple of months back she was on a kick about wanting to have dinner at the Governor's house because her friend Ravi's parents had) he said we should stop by and ring the doorbell anytime.

You know, over the years, I've heard a lot of people say that they voted for Bush (or similar candidates) because they were the "kind of guy you could sit down and have a beer with." But Governor Dayton is truly that kind of guy, as exempl…

Lessons from Belle

I could learn a lot from our new kitty.

Belle is a complete pain-in-the-ass. 4 months old, full of energy. Everything is a game or a toy. She lopes around the house fearless as anything. She acts completely crazy. She scales the drawers in my wardrobe for fun. She steals my earrings for toys. She is constantly in everything, exploring everything — "What's this? How does it work? Its it for me?" And don't even get me started on her joy when we wake up in the middle of the night because Beatrix calls. It's PLAY TIME!!

Kind of self-evident, isn't it?

A Tale of Two Monkeys

Two breakfasts this weekend at monkey places...

Yesterday, after circus class, we checked out Mojo Monkey Donuts, which just opened at 1169 W. 7th. The place was a complete madhouse, with a long line and people snapping up the donuts as soon as the trays were put in the cases. As annoyed as I got with the myriads of people ahead of me asking "When will [x flavor] be out? Can I wait for it? What's coming up next? How long EXACTLY?" our rhythms were perfect. Not only could we get some delicious glazed donuts, but Patrick was able to get one of just 3 of the maple frosted long johns with a strip of bacon on the top. patrick is not a donut person, but he assures me that this was near-perfection. He's already calculated how far he needs to run to eat two.

The staff was friendly, but clearly harried by all the questions. My suggestion? A whiteboard where you can easily write up the current flavors (and erase them as they disappear fast!), and maybe an East-coast style yell w…

New Skirt - But No New Boots

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I was completely convinced I was going to win Sellabit Mum's Nauturalizer giveaway. I had the perfect — AMAZING — boots picked up. I blocked out some shopping time. Then I devoted last night to embellishing a skirt that had been pretty plain jane, but that I thought would look great with them. In fact, I spent so long on the skirt that I missed the actual tweet with the winner...

...who was ONE COMMENT POST off of me, snug between two of my posts!

Life is not fair.

But in the meantime, you should be reading Tracy's blog, or liking her on Facebook, or following her on Twitter (@sellabitmum). She's pretty rockstar. Even if her random-number generator is defective.

At least I have the skirt.



Cathedral Hill Montessori

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If you've talked to me in person lately, you've likely been surprised by the passion with which I've embraced Beatrix's new preschool. Truth is, it's taken me somewhat by surprise as well.

We considered a lot of preschools last year, from Dodge Nature Center to Sunny Hollow to Jean Lyle to Mis Amigos Spanish Immersion. In the end, based on both cost and the fact that Beatrix had been in a home based environment for her care so far, we decided to go with a neighborhood rec center. We knew it was a solid program, even if we were not overly excited about it.

Then, in July, our lives collided with Whitney and Andy, who had purchased an amazing old home that had quite a checkered past as a nursing home/home for unwed mothers/boarding school/vacant building. Their dream was to convert the mid-century addition to the side of the house to a Montessori school, and the rest of the house to their home and a B&B. When we first heard about the idea we thought "It's s…

Love Where I Live (More)

It was a crazy, full weekend, all of which reminded me how much I love where I live:

- Beatrix's circus class and breakfast afterwards at the Chatterbox.
- A gala opening at Beatrix's school — dancing in the yard to Lucy Michelle and the Blue Lapelles and Chris Koza more on this later.
- Dinner at Salut for Patrick's birthday (where they treated us like royalty), and then drinks at the Amsterdam, which may just be the perfect new downtown St. Paul hangout.
- The annual Mclaughlin Marathon Party today, which David carried off amazingly well even if it was bittersweet. There is nothing more beautiful than Summit Avenue on Marathon Sunday, and no better way to experience it than good food and good friends.
- Beatrix's friend Gwyneth's birthday party at the Children's Museum. She is so at home there and loves showing us everything.
- A surprise birthday party for our friend Sarah, which truly was a surprise.
- A trip down to the newly finished Holly Tot Lot, which…

Fall Nesting

I've been really tired lately, despite the fact that Beatrix is *finally* sleeping much better. I blames it on a heavy workload that takes up a lot of brain space, and then watching bad Netflix streaming and reading good books late into the night in order to relax.

But I have learned that exercise does help, so I've re-committed to pilates and love it. The Sweatshop just feels so comfortable to me, and I am trying to suss ways I can continue to go after my discount card runs out.

This afternoon I really wanted to just veg, but I had a training tonight to prepare for, and I had to clean off my desk to get to the materials. As part of that, I crossed off a whole bunch of small to-do items, and my work space looks so much better. Which is to say that maybe I would feel more rested if I just got a few more things done.

So I'm hoping to be a virtual whirlwind of productivity tomorrow — if you catch me on the internets, ask me why I'm not working!

New Headshot

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Ok, the MN Bloggers Conference was great, and I learned a lot of things.

But perhaps the best part was that I got new headshots, thanks to Glimpses of Soul Photography. Isn't she amazing?

Writing Exercises

I attended the Minnesota Blog Conference today, and was happy to attend a session by Kate Hopper on writing. Part of the session was just devoted to writing, and she challenged us to write something evocative about our childhood, so here's what came out of a 7-minute free writing session:

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Why do I love summer? Because you say the word "summer" to me and I am instantly back in those neverending summer nights, wearing my pink striped kitty cat shortie pajamas (how can I even remember back so far? those pajamas barely fit Beatrix now) — and it's the middle of the night, and the light glows pink-gold in the upstairs hall, and the night is thick and glorious with sticky warmth. And I never know the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning, but my mother always does, and she scoops me up and brings me down to the basement where the yellowed white radio is set to WCCO radio, always scratchy and slightly off-station. I sit on the cool green squares of conc…

Missing Judy

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Since we've lived in our neighborhood, we've lost some really wonderful and influential friends. Marianne O'Brien, Rick Raiter, Pam Gru, Tom Segar,and many more, I think of you often and am grateful for what you have brought to my life. But this week, we lost Judy McLaughlin, and right now that loss seems unbelievably hard to bear.

Judy was one of the first people to take me under her wing when I moved into my neighborhood. She taught me how to stand for what I believed in politics, from the local level on up. She taught me how to throw events. She taught me how to care passionately about things, and to organize people to care along with you. She taught me about the importance of historic preservation. She taught me how to be a steadfast and caring friend. She taught me about the importance of tradition — and when and how to break it.

Her parties were legendary. For years I counted down to midnight in the Summit Manor living room, sipped wine in her backyard, and watched the…

Love Where I Live

It's been the kind of weekend in which we have been able to take some time to enjoy where we live — and I have loved it!

Yesterday, I started a set of pilates classes at The Sweatshop, and it felt great to be doing it again (though my abs don't appreciate me today).

Then we went to breakfast at The Neighborhood Cafe on Selby. It's a favorite breakfast place — nice atmosphere, friendly service, basic but good food, and reasonable prices. They have a few kids toys and crayons for Beatrix. I keep on looking for a "better" breakfast place for variety, but I have to say, the Neighborhood is always almost perfect.

Afterwards, we took a few minutes to walk around the variety of stores at Selby and Snelling. Patina is always fun, but I really like all the smaller individual stores there. There's a tiny florist I had never noticed before, and the gate to the custom purse place was open, so we wandered back and found that they have a little courtyard with a waterfall …

Palumbo's Pizzeria

It's been a long time since I've been very "foodie" in this blog (despite recently joining the MN Food Blogger's group), so I thought I would throw in a review of Palumbo's Pizza, which just opened in my neighborhood on Snelling Avenue. It's in a slightly cursed space, which has already closed down Blondie's and Geordie's. The new owners have started out well by pointing out how much parking there is! Still, I don't like the space (and never have) — there's something loud and strip-mall-like about it, and always a lingering musty smell.

I met co-workers who had been there before and loved it, and we all had the margherita pizza (my standard way to measure a pizza place). It was well-priced at $6 — in fact, almost everything on the menu is under $10. Most of the vegetarian items seemed almost TOO veggie heavy, though (really? zucchini in a calzone? doesn't that get mushy?), so I stuck to the old standard.

To be fair, my lunch mates love…

Our State Fair is the Best State Fair...

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We've taken Beatrix to the Fair every year since she was a baby, but this year we achieved a milestone I've always wanted to do — went to the Fair, came home, then went back at night! (my friend rachel still has the best idea: Fair --> Saints game --> back to Fair). And, we achieved all this despite the fact I had a monster cold that made me want to die.

We got there later than we wanted (see above note about the cold, plus a night of almost no sleep for everyone). Once there, we started right in on the required food — a malt from the dairy building, plus a Scotch egg for Patrick. We then met up with our friends Abby and Qui and their son Sam, to enjoy toddler adorableness petting the pigs, goats, and sheep. From there, we wandered up to the Kidway, where we met more friends — Geri, Brian, and Ravi, so Beatrix and Ravi could enjoy rides together. the carousel was a big hit (Beatrix loves them right now), but the bumper boats and safari train were also popular.

Then lots…

Travel Wish List

Beatrix is getting old enough to travel, and so it's been on my mind a lot lately. Thought better than having these things swirl around in my head was getting them in a list:

Places I especially want to take Beatrix:
Well, anywhere in the world, really, but top on the list are:
- Orlando and Disney World
- New Orleans, so she can see where she comes from
- London

Places I really want to see (likely includes Beatrix! and of course Patrick):
- Macchu Picchu
- Turkey, especially Istanbul
- Costa Rica
- back to Spain
- Australia

House Facade - Before and After

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It's been quite a summer for exterior work. Here is what our place looked like at the beginning of the summer:



And the porch:



Not bad altogether, but certainly not what they could be.

The paint journey started last September, with severe damage after a hail storm. We spent literally months getting bids and going around and around with the insurance. Finally our agent stepped in and helped. This is the final work done by Mike Faricy Painting (and he writes books, too!) — we could not be happier!



But what you'll really notice is the porch. When I bought the house, the porch had blocky siding on it. When stabilizing the structure several months later, it was like Christmas when we tore off the rotted wood and found all this great, hand-carved woodwork underneath! However, despite many half-assed efforts at porch rehab, it had never really been done right. Our handyman extraordinaire, Bob Fortner, has bugged us about it for years, and he was right — "Look, that porch ought to…

Pool Parties

Most Friday nights this summer, we've had pool parties at the Summit House. They've been very casual; we usually start by grilling something up and providing some beer, and people add to it as they arrive. People come as the can, through the front door, the side gate, the back. People bring more food and drink, until by the end of the evening the dining room table is filled completely. Kids of all ages jump immediately in the pool; their parents follow or hop in the hot tub; conversations groups form. All kinds of people, from a vast cross-section of our lives, attend, meeting new people and generally having a nice relaxing night out. At the end of each we've been tired but truly happy.

The pool parties, in a way, are somewhat metaphorical to our life. We could not be happier.

Perfect Birthday

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In Mandarin Chinese, "four" is a homonym for "death." In the same way that hospitals here don't have 13th floors, ones there don't have 4th floors (or if they do, it's the maternity ward.)

Which is to say that 44 is pretty damn old.

Luckily, we celebrated enough to feel young. Earlier that day I got the worst mani/pedi of my life (Groupon fail), then Patrick and I got free lunch at Noodles and Company and did some shopping. But we really celebrated that evening.

We started out with drinks and sushi at Masu Sushi and Robata in NE Minneapolis. Great space, fresh and tasty sushi (we had rolls, always the best way to test out a new place), and the robata (little grilled things on skewers) were the prefect complement to the drinks and sushi. Plus they sent over free shots of sake!

We then headed to the speakeasy-like atmosphere of the Marvel Bar for cocktails before dinner. Loved it — very cozy, perfectly mixed drinks, the kind of feeling you used to get at …

I and E

Though I'm tired and have a migraine, it's been a great week. As well as Krista living with us, we had a houseguest for three days, Patricks's friend Mike from/who is Rohdesign. We had a playdate and dinner at Blackbird on Monday, friends over on Tuesday, Patio Night last night, and a fundraiser for Minnesotans United for All Families tonight. All a great lead up to my birthday tomorrow.

It's been great for me, the Extrovert. Not so much for poor Patrick, the Introvert. Nevertheless, he has been great at keeping things going, which I know has been hard when he's exhausted by all the people. I'm a very lucky girl.

Insurance Scam

I just switched birth control pills. My doctor, who I love, spent some time going through her little prescription book to find a brand that would qualify for the much-advertised $4 a month rate.

When I got to the Target pharmacy, though, it rang up at $28.86. When I asked about that, they said the $4 a month rate was only if it ran through insurance, and I was listed as uninsured. So they re-rang it and I waited around for 30 minutes.

At which point in came up at $29.96 because that was the insurance rate. Apparently, because I have a high-deductible plan, the $4 rate does not apply — it DOES, however — the cashier helpfully explained — apply for Viagra and a handful of other items. When I asked why the insurance rate was higher than the un-insured rate, I was informed, with a straight face, that it was "a SERVICE on the part of the insurance company, so that people could reach their deductibles quicker."

I declined the "service" and made them re-ring it.

You just can…

Pinterest Mash-Up

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For a long time, i've been looking for a new jewelry storage system. I had my necklaces tossed into a dresser drawer, and then my earrings hanging on an old, metal peacock shaped holder than was a little teenage for my taste. I had liked pictures I have seen online of earring holders that used a picture frame for that purpose — the earrings hung inside the frame on pieces of screen, or wire strung across, or even foamboard.

But then I saw one that used wine corks and I was like "THIS is it!" You probably know I love wine corks and am always looking for great ways to use them.

The only frame I had in the right dimensions, though, was basic balsa wood. I figured I would paint it, maybe glue on some buttons or something for interest.

Then, I was putting away things from our road trip and inspiration hit. I had loved an image on Pinterest that framed photos form a vacation and used a map for the mat. I could cover the frame with our Boston map! Which I did, and I think it loo…

Blaming the Victim

As I type this, I am watching a Twitter exchange between the MPR NewsCut blogger (Bob Collins) and several of my friends on Twitter. In a short version, Collins tweeted:

The idea of a youth camp run by a political party is kinda scary.

Several people (my friends included) called him out on this, and it's degenerated into kind of a Twitter snipe-fest; though anyone is welcome to have their own views, I don't think that if I were tweeting for public radio I would respond is such a curmudgeonly manner.

What Collins fails to grasp is that he is more than welcome to his opinion about whether or not political parties should run camps. But to make that your very first tweet on the subject after tweeting earlier simply that you were "Following Oslo..." reeks of "blame the victim." I think it someone had commented after Columbine that it was a "scary high school," there would have been all kinds of offense taken — and rightfully so.

Collins' comment is no…

Read Local

Recently, I had a bad experience with, of all things, a New York Times column. A writer there was a lurker on a private message board that I belong to, and lifted some quotes from a thread on that board to use in her column, without clearing it with the original posters. Sloppy journalism/poor ethics aside, it got me thinking about reading things written by people you know, or who are in your community.

Admittedly, I am lucky in this regard. The Twin Cities has a virtual plethora of local writers — mostly penning mysteries — of which my favorites over the years have been John Sandford, Erin Hart, and occasionally Tami Hoag. This month, my aunt is going to a garden party featuring local author Marisha Chamberlain, who I originally knew as a playwright and who has written the exquisite The Rose Variations.

Lately, I found out that one of my neighbors and all-time favorite people, Mike Faricy, is an excellent author of truly compelling mysteries. And of course my husband, Patrick Rhone'…

Children's Day

Today we did various Beatrix-themed activities, and it was a blast!

This morning, we use dour brand new membership to go to the Children's Museum with our friends Leah (plus Maesie and Ella) and Erica and Joe (plus Olivia). Everyone had a ton of fun, though we all ended up spread out all over — it was helpful to have the extra parents around to keep an eye on the kids! Beatrix gets to go to the Children's Museum often with Clara and Alex, so it was great to have her show us around.

We then had lunch at the Cheeky Monkey (though Leah had to go). Though we ate inside, I am in lust with their new patio, and hope to go back soon.

Before naps, we checked out our friend Krista's gorgeous new house, which is just perfect for her. I'm in love with it! Then long naps (for everyone).

We went to see Milly and Tillie tonight at Open Eye. Beatrix is a M&T groupie, having seen it several time last year, and I am sure we'll be back this year. Seriously, do yourself a favor and go…

Pimp My Block!

Wow, suddenly everyone on our block is fixing up their place!

Thanks to the hailstorm last year, pretty much everyone got new roofs — except us and our neighbor, who had just gotten new roofs. We did get approval from insurance to get our house painted though, and we're rebuilding our porch, and both look great!

But on a walk around the block with Beatrix tonight, I noticed how much work is being done. The house across the street got new porch furniture. A house halfway down the block has a whole new porch, and the one next to that is getting painted/restained (that house needs a lot of love...). The condos at the end put in a new brick path.

I love our neighborhood!

Foodie Dream Vacation

I kind of lost focus with the trip blogging because of sporadic internet, yet another glitch with the autopost to Facebook (why does that happen?), and mostly because I was, you know, too busy having a vacation and hanging with friends to write. Obviously, I'm not going to get hired as a travel blogger anytime soon.

I should be, though! Mainly because out time in the Finger Lake area was pretty much the best foodie vacation ever!

To place it in context, we stayed with my college room-mate and still one of my closest friends ever, Molly. She and her family (wonderful husband and two charming boys who Beatrix loves to pieces) have a cottage on Lake Cayuga. Even better, they have a completely separate guest cottage, so we had our own space when we wanted it, but could just hang out as well. They kids went wild playing while the adults got to hang around and eat, and talk, and drink, and read — perfection!

But the foodie part...

Our first day, we were excited to discover that there were s…

Mad in Minnesota

Lost momentum on the blog during the trip between too much to do, some kind of messed up feed to Facebook, and internet issues. Ruminating on some posts but need to get more caught up first.

In the meantime, here's a guest post of sorts I did on the "Mad In Minnesota" blog.

Road Trip - Day 3

I posted in an on-line board that Beatrix was "travelling like a rockstar" and a friend wanted to know if she was throwing parties and trashing hotel rooms. Well, kind of...

Yesterday what should have been a 9-hour day was 12 hours due to construction and monsoon-like rains. I have never seen rain like that, that lasted that long. Constant hydroplaning and driving through lake-like flooding, and visibility so bad we could often not see the car in front of us. It was insane.

We finally reached Molly and Bernard's place on Lake Cayuga and settled in — and it was worth the drive. Their cabin is charming, the view incredible, and we're all having a great time. Beatrix's favorite part of today was "seeing the ducks on the lake," though I think she had a lot of favorites, actually — "swimming," playing with the dog, playing with the 6 and 9 year old boys, and generally having a lot of freedom.

We have our own little guest cottage, so have plenty of spa…

Road Trip Day 1

(Before I post, I should add the requisite warning that we have left vicious dog, burly housesitter, a cadre of contractors, etc. at home, so if you are reading this with the intention of stealing all we own while we are gone, think twice.)

Made it as far as South Bend, IN, today, and staying at a very lovely Residence Inn courtesy of our first experience with Priceline. large semi-suite with full kitchenette, family feel, pool and hot tub, internet, free breakfast, and even a free dinner with tumblers of wine to bring back up to our room. What's not to like? Thanks for the tip, Elaine!

Beatrix was really an awesome traveller, and I hope I haven't just jinxed our luck by saying that. We had a great day all hanging out together, playing car games, telling stories, and stopping for periodic breaks. Whether climbing the play equipment at the rest stop, doing jumping jacks at Chipotle, or watching for cows/sheep/horses, it was a lot of fun. I even got to ride in the front seat like …

House-work

Over the years, I've worked off and on for a local realtor, writing brochure copy for his high-end homes. For whatever reason, he has not called me to do write-ups lately, and I was missing the experience.

However, today he called me and had me walk through two houses, and it was so much fun! I'll admit that, in the past, writing about painfully similar, new-construction suburban homes has sometimes been challenging; though they are each distinctive in some way, they often have many of the same amenities, and it's hard to make them stand apart. Luckily, the two I walked through today were lovely and very different — a Lundie-inspired lake cottage, and a relatively new home that was especially distinctive and charming.

Glad to be back at it!

Pinterest

I'm a champion at finding ways to distract myself from deadlines.

In grad school, as I was studying for comps, I developed an all-consuming interest in make-up (you can see how well that worked). While planning our wedding, I worked on the house.

Now, two days before we leave for a cross-country trip and as all my clients are freaking out that I'll be out of the office for 10 days, I have developed a consuming passion for Pinterest. Rather than packing or getting work done, I'm scouring sites and pinning ideas.

I think I need a vacation...

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(I can be found on Pinterest here, if you're interested in wasting time with me...)

"Scene" at Play by Play

In some ways, there's no point in me adding my voice to something that others have said far better than I. But this morning, Patrick, Beatrix and I headed down to the all-too-sad closing sale at Play by Play Books. As Beatrix played in the shop that she loves and feels at home with (and rifled the candy bowl), and as Patrick discussed on the phone with him mom what books she needed, I looked around and already felt a profound sense of loss. I wanted to buy every book in the store, to give them homes, to know that that knowledge was somewhere safe. Even more, I wanted the sense of community that Kelly has worked so hard to foster. But as Kelly gave up her dream to realize, community is harder to form than you might think.

I'm not saying anyone in particular is to blame — not those who did not shop there, not Kelly for her choice of location, to construction or Amazon.com or anything else. But I am saying that I picked up a big bag of books today for $80, and while times have be…

Happy Anniversary

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I can't believe it's been five years since I was lucky enough to marry Patrick Rhone. In some ways it seems like it was just yesterday — I remember all the details of the candlelit ceremony so vividly, and it feels like we have just begun our lives together. In other ways, it feels like we have fit an entire lifetime of experiences in those five years. Though we've experienced a lot of hardship, there's been a lot of magic too, and when I think about our life and what we have — careers we love, a beautiful daughter, amazing family and friends, two fantastic houses — it just doesn't get much better.

Thanks to a babysitting night from Krista Walsh, we were able to go out to Travail last night and have an incredible, 10-course tasting menu as we celebrated our first five years of marriage and talked about the future. As incredible as the meal was, it pales to the company. Happy anniversary, honey! I love you!

Groupon Shopping Success

I think this is the point where I admit my email in-box full of deals is like a little morning treasure trove. However, I have several friends who are extremely anti-Groupon(type offers), and I appreciate their advocacy for supporting local business.

But in my best-of-all-worlds experience yesterday, I discovered and supported two local businesses, which I plan to return to often and promote, due to their great customer service and sense of place.

I actually discovered Shoe Zoo via a coupon this winter. They have a reputation for being expensive that kept me away, but with the deal-site offer, I decided to try it out. I've since become a big convert; their shoes are the same price as anywhere else and are often on sale, the upstairs outlet is AMAZING, the staff is great, and they send Beatrix home with a free balloon. She always finds shoes there that she loves. Far more rewarding than scouring the internet for deals. This weekend I used the deal offer stacked with 20% off the outle…

Veolia

And here's an example of customer service issues that have gotten completely out of control.

For several years, I have had 2 properties served by Veolia, the Summit house and the Ashland house. Literally EVERY TIME I sent in payment, they would mess it up and apply the payments to the wrong account, resulting in a credit to one account and arrears to the other. Several phone calls, late charges, etc. later, they would solve it, only to make the exact same mistake in the next bill.

So I switched Ashland to e-bill. That way I could send the paper check from Summit, and pay Ashland on-line. I successfully do this for 2 billing cycles.

They forget to pick up the Christmas tree I asked them to haul, and by the time I got through to them to solve it it was too late, but at least the billing was correct.

Except then they "upgraded" the e-bill. Which apparently meant that everyone had to re-register, but they did not tell anyone that. So I didn't get an e-bill. I eventually got …

More House News!

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In an anecdote that will no doubt amuse those of you familiar with my house obsessions, Beatrix does NOT, as many of her friends do, have an imaginary friend. She has an imaginary house, which she refers to constantly as "my new house." Descriptions of it vary, but it appears to be brown, 2-story, sometimes very close by and sometimes far away, and have a pool with icky green water in the back. She lives there with her grandfather, who sometimes lets her watch all the TV she wants and sometimes won't let her watch it at all. It has a horsey bed. And someday, if we're good, we can visit her there.

In a solution that is perhaps nowhere as grand as her "New House," last weekend we got Beatrix a playhouse off of Craig's List (the pictures are dark because I took them in the garage before we moved it into the yard). It's pretty amazing, actually, with windowboxes (which we planted with marigolds yesterday), closing shutters that cover the windows (because…

New New Moon

I've mourned the passing of Theatre de la Jeune Lune much more that I thought I would (even after spending over 12 years working there). Seeing the building sit empty and leaking, going to shows that critics called "Jeune-Lune reminiscent" but weren't quite there, even the momentos in our home.

So it's been really good for me, in the last few weeks, to see some amazing shows that perhaps begin a new era.

Over at Nimbus Theatre, Barbra Berlovitz stars in Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking. Barbra is such a compelling performer, and the book is one of my all-time favorites, so I was a little afraid to see it on stage. But the performance is amazing — luminescent and powerful — that it reached to my inner being in the way that theatre does more than any other medium. Her performance, like the book, gains its ultimate effect from the passion of dispassion, and Barbra is spot-on. I've seen her perform since Jeune Lune, but nothing liek this.

Then, last n…

Coming to Terms with Mother's Day

So once again I face the inherent emotional conflict that has come to be Mother's Day for me.

In some ways, it's beyond perfect. Patrick went out of his way to make me way ideal, taking care of me, an incredible gift that he knew I really wanted (more on that later), sleeping in, coffee, a haircut, a nap, relaxation. The Hanafin family has a Mother's Day Brunch tradition; for the last several years it's been at the Lake Elmo Inn, and that was delicious. Beatrix got me a board book about animal moms ("I picked it out for myself!"), which I know is Clara validating how important reading with Beatrix is to me. I'm trying really hard to even think about work and domestic tasks that are stacked up, and to just enjoy the day. Were the story to end here, it would be lovely.

But it doesn't. There's always a hole in the day where my mother should be. There's the societal expectation that I *should* probably be done grieving, when the truth is that I just…

A New Era

9/11 was, literally, a different lifetime ago. I was still at Jeune Lune, still married to Chris, my mother was in perfect health...We had a Jeune Lune intern living with us, and his girlfriend was visiting from New York for the weekend, so stayed several extra days. Together, like everyone else in the country, we watched hours of footage and wondered how it would mean the world would change.

That was soon answered. Years of colored threat levels, of shoeless airports and travel containers, of subway bombs and nightclub attacks, of vilifying the Islamic other and politicizing the personal (and the idiotic) until many times I don't recognize the world. At the same time, we've developed a citizen-journalism based news network (including my Twitter feed that kept me amused, informed, and exasperated last night), and elected our first Islamic congressman.

The news of Osama's death last night was a very adult moment for me. It's the first time I can remember waiting anxiously…

Work

It seems like my only answer, lately, when people ask what I've been doing has been "work." To which people often respond "I'm never really sure what you do." So I thought it would add clarity to get it all written down:

- Regular clients: I have five regular clients — Circus Juventas, Open Eye Figure Theatre, the MN State Council of SEIU, the Mental Health Association of MN, and the Macalester-Groveland Community Council. For each of these organizations, I go in 1-2 time a week for a few hours at a time, generally solving their business management needs. This ranges from the basic needs, like accounting, budgets and payroll, to audit prep, to human resources, to all kinds of things like solving sales tax exemption, clearing up invoices, correcting wrong invoices, insurance needs, workers comp audits, and the like.

- Strategic planning: I'm currently working with the Rosemount Area Arts Council, the Arts Consortium of Carver County, and the Dakota Coun…

Earth Day

This is what I know about Earth Day this year:

1) Old Navy is collecting old flip-flops starting tomorrow to recycle into playground mulch. Since I hate flip-flops and think they signify all that's wrong with America, I highly endorse this effort.

2) Lots of places are giving away free coffee when you bring in your travel mug. Caribou and Starbuck's are the usual suspects, but you had better not get in the way of my salted caramel latte at Common Roots.

3) Origins is letting you trade in your old cleanser for their stuff, and the Disney Store is giving away free carry bags if you turn in 5 plastic ones.

4) I am not telling Beatrix about Earth Day yet, because she goes nuts for holidays. However, we are at loose ends tomorrow night because Patrick is at some media event, so I suppose we'll have to find a way to celebrate...

Reading

No, I haven't been writing. I've been reading — strategic plans, grant proposals, a little Bill Bryson. And lots of numbers. It's good, but better when I'm writing.

Her Hysterical Nostalgia

Lovely date night tonight at Blackbird (first time since they re-opened), and then to see Week 3 of It's Women's Work at Open Eye. Blew me away.

Zhauna's work has captivated me since I first saw her with the Dolls, some 20+ years ago. She's the kind of performer who pulls you in to the piece, to take an active role in experiencing it. Distinctive as her aesthetic is. she has not had as many chances as she likely should have to create her own work, and we talked about that, and her vision for this piece, a few weeks back at an Open Eye event. Granted, I don't see enough dance to begin with, but tonight's piece was one of the more compelling artistic experiences I have had in some time. Each time I close my eyes they are filled with images and with power.

Go see it. Saturday at 8 and Sunday at 7 at Open Eye — reserve tickets now, because tonight was full and once word gets out, it will get fuller.

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Also amazing images by the very talented Keri Pickett. Happy I coul…

Other Mother

This post is part of The Week of Understanding, which has already taught me a lot about putting myself in someone else's shoes.

When I was fourteen, I realized I didn't want to be a mother. I had a summer "mother's helper" kind of job in which I cared for two young children, and much as I loved them, I was very happy to turn them over to their mother at night. In college, I remember my friend Fran sprawled out studying with he, with her head on my stomach, exclaiming "I have never heard a more barren womb!" My career and lifestyle — lots of long and irregular hours, nightly events, a house filled with hazards, world travel — were in no way child-oriented. We had a lot of friends who were childless by choice, and many more whom, though I enjoyed being with their kids, I felt that same relief at the end of the night.

And then, all in a breath, my life changed. I was no longer at the demanding job that had defined my life for the last decade, my marriage end…

Old Friends

I love it when my worlds collide, and it's been happening a lot this week.

Tonight I was able to finally experience live the photography of Deb Sussex, who I first met in a winter camping week at Widji 31 years ago. I can't believe how great it was to see her agin, having lost touch so many years ago, and to see her beautiful work glowing on the Open Eye gallery wall was amazing (do see it, if you can, it's up all weekend and selling fast!)

I was able to talk to my beautiful artist friends Nance and Mary, who I have also not seen in a long time, and learn about exciting adventures in their lives and their families.

Best of all, I was able to hug and laugh with and talk with my amazing friend Nine, and her stunningly impressive daughter Hannah. Nine has held the title of "best friend" since I first met her that same week at Widji. Over the years we've walked in the snow, written long letters, seen each other when we can, and though we don't communicate nearly…