Sunday, March 23, 2014

Cooking With What You Have

I'm hosting book club tonight. Our book club has been meeting for over 20 years, and although attendance ebbs and flows, and often we don't read the whole book, it's still an incredibly important part of my life. Coincidentally, Beatrix has HER first book club today, at her friend Meara's house, and I'm dying to find out how it goes!

I wanted to make something fun, and so settled on a Moroccan chickpea stew, which could sit in the crockpot all day. We had most of the ingredients already (which isn't always the case), and as an added bonus, most of them really needed to be used up (aging carrots and the like), so I felt very virtuous. I even opened a bag of cinnamon sticks I've been holding on to for awhile!

That got me in the mood to use up another on-the edge product, mainly some souring milk. I usually make a Texas sheet cake with sour milk, but today I tried a new recipe for chocolate cake, which I will also serve for book club (it's currently cooking on my new baking rack, a Christmas present). With the leftover sour milk, I mixed up a coffeecake.

Meanwhile, Patrick made use of another Christmas present by inserting one of my syrup taps into our big maple tree in back — we'll keep you posted!

These days of productivity and even small things like cooking several dishes give me a similar contentment to the feeling I have while working on a larger house project, like painting a room or rebuilding something. It's a great way to get in touch with that feeling when my time is limited.

Pioneer Woman blog, you've got nothing on me!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Off of Snelling

Many of our neighborhood rambles take place in Ramsey Hill, especially the eastern end of Selby. But the Summit House, where I grew up, is closer to Snelling, and we've been spending more time in that area lately. Today, Snelling proved our central core.

This morning, we decided to try brunch at the new French Meadow, on Grand just west of Snelling. It just opened, after being under construction for the better part of the year. To which I say — if you spend that long building, you really should have something better to show for your efforts. The space was crowded, but most of all filled with poor design for customer service. For instance, the menus, instead of being at the end of the case where the (long) line starts, are RIGHT AT the cash register where you order — so you had better think fast. The water stand and all-too-small silverware and coffee stand are carry corner from each other, about 4' apart, so a pair of pointy edges barricades you (and the crowd gathered around the area) from the rest of the dining room. Color me unimpressed, next time we're heading to Grand Central.

After that, Beatrix and I headed to a Mr. Rogers Neighborhood event hosted by TPT at Mac, while Patrick hit Common Good bookstore (for this, we even parked directly on Snelling!). TPT events are fun and there is always a lot of swag, and Patrick enjoyed the alone time in the bookstore, so we all won.

This afternoon, Beatrix and I went to a free kids yoga class at Hamline-Midway Library (just west of Snelling on Minnehaha). The kids got to do some energetic yoga, decorate their own mat that they could keep, and then do some calming yoga. The teacher was great and I was jealous; I really wish I had the time and money to make yoga a part of my everyday life again.

Tonight, we headed to the final Roots Music: Four Corners of Europe event, an Irish ceili hosted by Hamline University (a little farther north on Snelling). I have done the publicity and the evaluation for this wonderful gem of a series, which this year included concerts and dance parties form Eastern Europe, a klezmer band, flamenco, and now the music and dance of Ireland. Beatrix has not missed one of the dance parties and LOVES them. The Irish dancing tonight was tons of fun. A couple of weeks back, when we sat in on the flamenco party with all kinds of musicians bringing their instruments and joining in, it was one of those instances where my heart swelled a bit with how much I love my work and how great my clients are. I'm so excited to be exposing Beatrix to music and culture from all over the world.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Productive Saturday

Apparently, we should start every Saturday by buying a truck.

We've been thinking about getting a truck for quite some time, since our neighbor sold his truck (that he often let us borrow). We wanted to go for the idea of a "community truck" — a beat-up, but reliable, truck we could have to lend out to friends as needed.And we found it in a former South Dakota government truck that we bought today, 25 years old with 90,000 miles. It definitely has its idiosyncrasies, but it's a good, solid truck, and Patrick looks like a total boss driving it.

And yes, "Truckie-Truck" (Beatrix's name, because it's apparently a boy truck) is eminently available for you to borrow and to make your life better. We really mean it when we say "community truck."

We got home, and while eating lunch, realized that nearby friends of ours had put a roll-top desk up on CraigsList. We had been looking for an art desk for Beatrix, so we put the new truck into immediate action, and ran over and got it. See, new truck comes in handy, and Beatrix has a new desk!

We spent the afternoon doing some TLC on the desk and cooking big batches of food to drop off for some friends and to freeze — stuffed shells, lasagna roll-ups, a crockpot dish, and a batch of bars. We cleaned up a little, did some laundry, sent off a refund, ran some errands, picked up the house a little, and hung out for a surprise visit from Patrick's dad.

We didn't get out to see the show we wanted to, we didn't get to a taproom (again), and we didn't get to get together with friends. But, given the fact that I'm still under the weather and it's been an utterly  physically, emotionally, and professionally exhausting week, I'm pretty happy with out productive Saturday!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Why I'm a Feminist

Growing up, I  *owned* feminism. My mother, who divorced in the late 1960s and worked my whole life, exemplified it, but we never really talked about it. I, on the other hand, remember it being mine. I devoured the works of the earliest leaders, from Friedan to Dworkin. I drove all night to Washington DC for the 1989 March for Choice. I did feminist theatre, took women's studies classes, wrote my undergraduate thesis on French Feminist Literary Theory (applied to the works of 19th century British authors). Being a feminist was simply part of my core being.

Later, the phrase "I'm not a feminist, but…" uttered by other women annoyed me, as did terms like "feminazi." But really, I considered them harmless and not even worth my attention.

But now, it's personal.

Now I have a 6-year-old daughter. My daughter is pretty much like every other girl she knows. She plays with Barbies and dolls and loves to dress up in princess stuff. And she loves Frozen beyond belief, so when someone attacks it, it strikes home. And she loves doing Daisies with her friends, so when people urge a "cookiecott" and radio hosts call for a "boycott of cookies because the Girl Scouts were a wicked organization that doesn't promote Godly womanhood," I get steaming mad.

So THAT's why I'm a feminist, now more than ever. Because you can disparage me all you want, but my daughter should not have to go through this sh*t. I really thought we were beyond that, and I am ashamed that we are not.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

What We Changed

First of all, for those dying to know, here't the list of people we funded and a link to some more information on the Tweet Small Change website:

Here are the ones we chose to receive micro-grants. We believe strongly in our support of each of these artists and look forward to seeing what $140.00 can do for them.
I've been asked a lot of questions on this, and I will likely say some more in the future. To answer a few of the top questions — this was entirely funded by Patrick and myself, because we believed strongly in it and wanted to make it happen and didn't mind eating ramen for awhile to save the cash. And yes, we are planning to do it again, but need to source some more viable funding options.

There was a great energy around the site for those 48 hours, and it gave me a great faith in what art can do.

It's simply one of the best things I have done, ever.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Tweet Small Change

As many of you know, both art and community change has been on my mind a lot lately. You’ve listened to me rant, bought me another drink as I postulated, and joined me in wondering “How can we make this different?”

It was another late night at another reception when I began to really think about this hard. And then I came home and talked all night to my husband about it. And we (well, Gladhill Rhone LLC) decided that, if we wanted to make innovative art happen, we had better put our money where our mouths were.

Today — March 4 — help us make Tweet Small Change happen. Basically, you have 48 hours to give us your best small arts project pitch in a tweet. Yes, in 140 characters or less, using the hashtag #tweetsmallchange. After 48 hours, we’ll pick ten projects to get micro-grants of $140 each.

Then, you go do art. The only thing that we ask is that you somehow document the project on social media — Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, whatever, it’s up to you — and share it back via the @AChangeTweet Twitter account.

Follow @AChangeTweet, or check out Other social media links are:

The small print:  Projects can be anywhere in the US (we don’t want to mess with foreign exchange). It can be a project that can be done entirely within the $140, or the micro-grant can complete it, or whatever works for what you want to do. Our decisions are ours alone and might be entirely capricious, but hey, that’s arts funding for you.

Spread the word, please, and I hope to see your tweet. Because I really think all you need is someone to nudge you a little to make great art and community work happen.