Thursday, September 22, 2011

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!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

New Headshot

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?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

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:


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 concrete, which feels so different from the still-thick air, and am allowed to sort through the divided boxes of shiny bright beads and sequins that live down there waiting for some upcoming craft project. And I don't even realize it but I've fallen asleep on the green wool army blanket, and my mother carries me back up to my still-slightly-stuffy pink and orange room and it's still summer and it always will be.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Missing Judy

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 runners at the Marathon on the final descent down the hill in front of her home (when they weren't stopping to get cups of water from Paul Wellstone, that is). I've spent numerous evenings with her at various local establishments that served various kinds of alcoholic beverages, summarizing board meetings, deciding what to do next, or simply laughing with a big group of friends. When I needed advice, or just someone on my side, I could always call Judy, and she always, always set me straight.

To some extent, Judy's not gone, because she lives in in her family, in the community that she loved so much, in the entire future of Saint Paul. But of course, in the everyday way we have lost her, and I already feel the loss more strongly than I could have expected.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

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 and fish pond! We also went to Allee, because I love their clothes and really love that little courtyard. I wonder if residents and whop employees gather there at night and socialize over french wine?

Today we headed over to south Minneapolis and had breakfast an Anodyne, and then wandered around the Kingfield Farmer's Market. It's more expensive than the St. Paul market, but I love the vibe, and we always run into people we know (and today was no exception). We bought a really interesting basket of multicolored carrots, and the nice lady gave Beatrix a fresh carrot to snack on — she looked like a big bunny!

Tonight we made it to Republic just before Happy Hour ended, so we could enjoy 2 orders of the best fish tacos in town, some insanely addictive fries, and 2 beers, all for $20. I had not been there since their soft opening, and I was happy to know it's only gotten better. It amazes me that very little has actually changed int he decor of the place since it was Sgt. Preston's — same big taxidermy animals and stained glass lights — but change the expectations of the patrons, and the menu, and it becomes a whole new experience. We felt very welcome there with Beatrix, and really, those fish tacos are the best in the Twin Cities.

(and then we also hit Target for a princess lunchbox for Beatrix and Menard's for a lawnmower...)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

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 loved their pizza. I was ... underwhelmed. I found it overcooked and dry, even with a sprinkling of olive oil. The tomato was sort of melted in to the cheese, which was overcooked, and the crust dry. I've had much worse pizzas, but this was nowhere near what I have come to love at Punch, or the excellent margherita at Pazzaluna, or oven the one I sampled at Scusi last week. Something was off in the balance of salt and flavor to me as well. But again, my lunchmates loved it, so what do I know!

The gelato, from Ring Mountain Creamery in Eagan, was lovely. Very creamy and fresh tasting, with samplers available at just $1 per generous scoop. They told us the salted caramel was the best seller, but I loved the stradella, with large chocolate chunks. The chocolate was actually a little icy and low on flavor for my taste. And I didn't even get to try the other three flavors.

(since it was lunch, I didn't try the wines or beers...)

The owner stopped by to see how we liked our meals, and in general the staff was friendly. Prices were good, and again, others seem to enjoy it more than I did. I'll likely be back, but it is not going to be at the top of my lit anytime soon.