Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2015 Resolutions - How I Did

Ok, I guess there's no time to squeeze in more work on these, so here we are in the recap. My resolutions were as flows:

Resolution #1 – Use
We have SO much. Our pantry is full of half-eaten food, the desk full of gift cards, the bathroom closet full of lotion and product. This year, I resolve to use all of that stuff, before buying new (as much as possible).

This went well at the beginning of the year, and I think we have used up a lot of things. We lost momentum mid-year, when we had a lot going on and it was just easier time-wise to not have to think as hard about things. So a mixed success I suppose.

Resolution #2 – Re-Use
I have been active on several neighborhood Buy/Sell/Trade boards, even co-founding one for my community. In 2015, I will sell 100 items on those boards (and hopefully not buy 100!)

This went great. I've sold well over 100 things, and found a good way to make the BST boards a good part of my life without succumbing to their easy lure.

Resolution #3 – Create
I’m never so happy as when I am making things, even if it is just simple crafts. In 2015, I will do more of that, though I am resisting setting quotas or measurable for it.

Fail. I made about 2 things.

Resolution #4 – Frame
Frame our art and hang it — it’s not doing any good sitting in a pile. Print photos and frame them.

I rocked this resolution. Almost all of my art is now framed. Now I just need to hang everything!

Resolution #5 – Enjoy Minnesota
I’m always talking about how much I love living here. In 2015, I will enjoy Minnesota more — some Minnesota travel (maybe ice caves, or even just the cabin), attending various summer festivals (goal of 15), museums and other places.

I did pretty well on this. Lots of fun festivals and events. This year will end with a bang, with the History Center today and Sound of Music tomorrow. We live in a great place.

Resolution #6 – Date
For the third year in a row, I’ll go on a monthly date night with my husband. Best resolution ever.


Resolution #7 – Revive Space
When evaluating how I could serve my clients better, I realized that my workspace(s) need some real help. My home office in particular is messy and cluttered, and I think it saps my work energy to face it. I will make this space (and my on-client sites) better and more productive to work in.

I got pretty far in this. It's a mess now, but it's certainly better and far less cluttered.

Resolution #8 – Preserve
Do something I consider significant in the historic preservation field. Still determining what that is.

In my head, I thought this might be the start of a book. In reality, it was a resurgence of interest in my work on conservation districts, and a great contract for a huge survey in Macalester Park. Definite success!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Blogging for Books - It's Got Soul!

I just started with a new adventure in Blogging for Books, where you get review copies in exchange for a review copy. Not exactly the most remunerative work, but fun. Here's my first review:

I chose this as my first Blogging for Books adventure because I could share the experience with my husband, who was born just outside of New Orleans and for whom soul food runs deep in his family. He's a writer, currently working on a history of his family and the land they acquired during Reconstruction, and I knew the family history at the beginning of the novel would be especially interesting for both of us.

It's clear from the beginning that the Randalls are writers. The writing from the beginning is lyrical and engaging. But they really draw you in to the story, to the quest for a better, healthier (and cheaper) way of eating that pays homage to their family history and to the kitchens of comfort food, and to later generations who replace the kitchen with fast food. That story is especially compelling.

At first, many of the recipes in here seem like filler — Simple Spinach, for example, is just spinach, some lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. But when you keep in mind that the Randalls are speaking to an audience that may lack a basic comfort level with cooking, it makes sense. The more involved recipes, like the Poet Pot Pie we had for dinner tonight, are complex and delicious, and will be meals we return to often.

I cleaned out our cookbooks tonight — and this one went front and center on the top shelf!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Blow Us All Away

Tonight, the day after the Sandy Hook anniversary and when LA schools were closed due to a "credible threat," I'm especially glad for my daughter.

I'm glad for her everyday. Today I'm super proud of her because she did well on her piano recital, and aced her math test, and did well in violin this morning, and finally seems to be getting her math facts, and was a trooper about adjusting her expander. Because she is SO excited for Christmas, and to write in her diary every night, and to be close to moving up a reading level.

But I love her on the days she is cranky, and unhappy, and difficult. Those are the days when she needs love even more, and it's all the more rewarding to be able to show her I love her.

I love this world more because I love her. And I ache to make it better.

I never expected to have this kind of love, and I am grateful for that. And there's a lot of responsibility there, to try to make the world a better place, so that by the time she is grown the "lockdown drills" they practice now are as outdated as "duck and cover."

"Pride is not the word I'm looking for, there is so much more inside me now...If we lay a strong enough foundation, we'll pass it on to you, we'll give the world to you, and you'll blow us all away."


Lest you think that this is only the kind of responsibility a parent feels, I encourage you to read a piece by my friend Kelly, as published in my friend Steph's blog. Because we all have  a lot of responsibility to make this world

Monday, December 14, 2015

IFP Minnesota

I really, really love all of my clients — I would not work with them if I did not. And I generally don't play favorites.

But today, right now, after a great afternoon, I am super excited for, and grateful for, IFP Minnesota, for 4 reasons in particular:

1)  The Spirit Awards. I LOVE the spirit awards. In January and February, you can see the top indie films of the year, 2 shows a night, 2 days a week. The kind of films that don't always play here, or if they do it's because they are also in contention for an Oscar, so they can be hard to get in to see. They screen at the Walker, which is also fun. And they are FREE, and available only to IFP members.

2)  The Member Show. Every year (well, we skipped last year because we were moving), IFP holds a Members Show, featuring members' photography. It's free to enter, and the pieces submitted are fantastic. A couple of years ago, my friends Rachel and Michael submitted beautiful pieces that still stand in my memory. Hey, I might even submit a piece this year. The deadline is January 4 and the show opens January 22, and if you joined from that link above, you're a member, so you should submit!

3)  McKnight Fellowships. Fantastic fellowship grants for mid-career film and media artists (including screenwriters, though there's also a separate screenwriting competition). I'm so impressed with the work that these fellows do.

4)  Plain old donating. My friend Nancy just redid the donation page, and it's super-spiffy. If all this work I am blabbering about (and much much more!) is compelling to you, I would encourage you to throw a few bucks IFP's way. It means a lot.

(If film isn't your thing, ask me about my other clients — I'm sure I can find someone to pique your interest!)

Friday, December 11, 2015


Tonight I am glad for reading in bed, and for books in general. I just got some great books for people for Christmas, and there's a lot I want to read myself. If Beatrix would put up with it, I would spend all of Christmas vacation holed up inside reading. I can't think of anything better.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Advent Uplift

I've taken to calling them "the Decembers." It's that gray, overwhelmed-with-it-all feeling I sink into at least once a day this time of year, when I want to be wrapped in Christmastide and making a great holiday season for my little girl, and instead it's I'm surrounded by an almost tactile sense of those weeks spent in the hospital the Christmas my mom was dying. I can almost see the cold fluorescent lights, can almost smell the hand sanitizer, and every part of my body aches in that tired way. At the same time, my eyes fill with hot tears about the things I can't share with my mom, all the things she has missed. It's an awful feeling. I hate December.

So I was sinking into that and heating up leftovers when the dog went crazy barking at the door. When I looked out, and it was my friend N, who moved away last year and who I email and text occasionally, but who has even more on her plate than I could ever imagine, and who I have not seen or felt very connected to. I'm usually not the biggest fan of surprises, but seeing her on my doorstep was the biggest and most wonderful surprise I've had in quite awhile.

She's in Minnesota only briefly to take care of a couple of things, but we had some golden time to catch up and it made me so happy. And to have those moments, and to hear her say "I always love your home so much!" on a day that I felt down and the house looked like total hell — well, it completely made my day. It pulled me right out of the Decembers.

(and then later the cat tipped over the Christmas tree, which caused total chaos, but that's another story...)

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Good Food

Today I am grateful for good food.

The Coconut Curry Pumpkin Pot Pie my colleague made for lunch (happy 8th work anniversary, Kim!)

And my favorite meal ever, goat cheese mac and cheese, that Patrick made for dinner because he knows it's been tough for me lately.

And planning Christmas Eve!

Food is love.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Norwegian Wood

I meant to post every day about things I am grateful for, even if it was only short. But I am afraid that, though I try to be Christmas-y for the kid, this still gets to be way too hard a time of year for me. If I had my druthers, I would hibernate with books and cocktails until January 2. But I can't, so...

Tonight I am grateful for the things Beatrix does with groups of people. She and I just got back from volunteering at Feed My Starving Children with her Brownie troop. I'm mixed about the religious nature of the organization, but very, very thankful that it does something to help, and does it well. And I think it was a great lesson learned for the girls. So cynical as I always am going in, I'm thankful now.

I'm also incredibly thankful for her Norwegian dance group! Thanks to my friend Sasha, Beatrix joined just last month, so she has had only one real rehearsal before she performed with the group at the Union Depot Holiday market yesterday. But she jumped right in, and the group leader is wonderfully kind and reassuring, and all the older kids are so sweet and kind to her. She is by far the youngest in the group (and looks even tinier), but she was so happy to be performing and I think she did a great job!

(photo credit to my friend and chosen family member Carrie and her daughter Ava — so happy they came!)

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

A Life in the Theatre

Tonight, as I sewed a scarf using skills I learned in a costume shop long long ago, while listening to Hamilton, and even as I thought of the news of the day — tonight I am glad for my life in the theatre.

I'm glad for the skills I have learned. I'm glad for the knowledge I have gained. And most of all I am glad for the people I know, for strong and amazing friendships from people who get it.

I hundred million years ago, when I started working with Gary Parker at TCity, I could never have known that this would be my life. Thank you to all of you who inspire me daily with the things you create.