Friday, March 24, 2017

(Sort Of) A Game-Changer

I fell for the Dinner - Changing the Game cookbook the way I usually fall for big, heavy cookbooks full of beautiful pictures. It's elegant, all the pictures look delicious, and it's designed so that "each recipe in this book is meant to be dinner— one fantastic dish that is so satisfying and flavor forward it can stand alone." I love the idea of a simple-yet-lovely meal like that.

My husband, in particular, has liked the egg dishes. I like the "Ingredients to Have on Hand" section, and I really appreciate that there are  a lot of vegetarian and fish selections. I also appreciate hat there are  a few soups, and "salads that mean it," but in general it focuses on true meals, the kind that leave you full and with some leftovers.

We've made a few things form it, such as the aforementioned egg dishes, some salmon, and a delicious stovetop mac-and-cheese, almost identical to another recipe already in our rotation, but nice to have validation.

All in all, I don't think this will be the the kind of book like a few that we have where everything we make is absolutely amazing. But it's a good, solid staple to have on hand, and definitely worth checking out.

(I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for this review, but all opinions are my own).

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Bar Brigade!

Beatrix and I wanted to go out to celebrate her school conferences tonight. But when you feel celebratory, and miss Paris, where to go? I know — Bar Brigade, which opened tonight!

We walked in and were immediately seated by none other than Chef JD Fratzke himself! Beatrix was extraordinarily impressed by his manners (as was I!), and I loved the feel right away. The space holds all the charm that Luci used to have, but less like eating in your grandparent's basement.

And even better, just a few moments later Beatrix's friend Kiernan's family walked in — so we got to have the very Parisian feel of a convivial dinner.

Though I was sorely tempted by #roseontap, I ordered the Bumby, a sort of orange-infused G&T. Then, so we could sample as much as possible, Beatrix and I split the bread plate, the potatoes with chèvre, and creme fraiche, some roasted carrots with almond dressing, and a puff pastry tart with mushrooms, olives, and chèvre. All of it was amazing, with true French bistro flavors. I ogled especially the broccoli salad, the trout, and especially the oysters that our friends had, but I don't think I could have eaten another bite (we already had to take a box home).

However, we could not skip dessert. Beatrix wisely chose the pot du creme, and I have to say it's one of the best I've ever had in my life (second only to a Basque place we loved in Paris). Rich, silky chocolate, topped with whipped cream and chocolate nibs — absolutely out of this world. The nutella crepe next to us also got high marks.

I'm already dreaming of the day (tomorrow?) that I can go back and just have chocolate and rose. Lots of both.

That day might have to be tomorrow. And every day after that. I'm hooked. Best thing t happen to Saint Paul in awhile!

Saturday, March 18, 2017


Some days, things just work out.

This afternoon, Patrick and I dropped Beatrix off at dance, and then took advantage of the free hour to check out the new Black Stack taproom and go through design books. It was lovely. As my friend Kate said:
The new criteria for choosing dance schools for kids? Proximity to brewpub.
Heck, in the Creative Zone, you can have it all!

We were excited to go over to Highpoint Center for Printmaking, whose "Free Ink Day" I had done an Art Hounds appearance about last week — but when we got there, it was packed! Since we were hungry, we decided not to stay, and as we turned back around to go out, we explained that to the gallery manager, who was very apologetic "Oh, I'm so sorry! We were on Art Hounds, and it's just crazy!"

"Uh, yeah, that was me, sorry...."

"Omigod!" she gave me a big hug, "It's been fantastic! We're had over 350 people so far and 80% of them were new to us!! But I'm so sorry you don't get to make a print!"

Honestly, the BEST thing ever is when you talk about a great arts event, and then it's too full for you to do it!

So instead, we stopped in at the Bryant-Lake Bowl, where we had a delicious lunch and got to activate our Belly Up memberships for free Sociable cider and where Beatrix demolished her plate of rice and beans in about 2 minutes flat. The wait was too long to bowl, but she wants to go back and bowl with her brother Miles anyway, because that would be more fun.

From there, we had girl scout cookies to drop off, so headed to Linden Hills, where we ate some ice cream at Sebastian Joe's, shopped at the Wild Rumpus bookstore, and checked out the Linden Hills Poppy (sorry, Jill, I still like the Saint Paul location best, call me a homegirl!) Finally, we were able to walk down to pay homage to Brenda Ueland's historic home at 2620 West 44th Street, which is about to be demolished for an apartment building after the Minneapolis Zoning and Planning committee voted to allow it to be demolished— a sad ending to a lovely, rambling day.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Tori Ramen

About 500 years after the cool kids, we finally headed to Tori Ramen tonight for dinner!

We had been warned (especially from our friends' blog here, that space was tight, so we waited for a night that Beatrix was at a GTCYS event with a friend and headed on over. We expected the worst (crowds and hipster surliness), but were pleasantly surprised to find a window 2-top available and a friendly, helpful server who did not mind our questions.

I was not all that hungry so hat the E.V. (half sized, soft egg for the win). It was warm and cozy and everything you could want on a cold rainy evening. Patrick took our server's suggestion and had the Bali Bali, and he definitely got the better meal — but then the great thing about going with your husband is he gives you some.

A small but good tap list (hibiscus cider FTW as well!), and a good date night on a rainy evening. Were it not so popular, I can see hunkering down there for a bowl of ramen and some tea and watching Selby go by.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Lear, by Beatrix

Beatrix had lobbied hard to attend King Lear at the Guthrie ever since she learned it was about a king and his 3 daughters. She was also anxious to see a real tragedy; she's seen Midsummer Night's Dream and a dance version of Romeo and Juliet, but as she says "I wanted to see a grown-up play." Every year, the Guthrie does a special Shakespeare performance to involve youth (as part of the legacy of the inimitable Sheila Livingston), so we got to attend one of those matinees on Sunday.

Truth be told, I was a little worried about the length and language of the play, and Patrick was concerned about Lear's madness and the eye-gouging scene. Both turned out to be ok, though Beatrix did think it would not be good for *little* kids.

The language in particular turned out to be fine. Both she and I thought that the closed-caption style screens would be distracting, but Beatrix did not even read them, preferring to let the language sort of wash over her (I admit to glancing sometimes). She says she understood everything, mainly because she knew the story in advance, and that the action on the stage worked perfectly with the words — which is, I suppose, as it should be. She got a little bored near the end of the first act, but let's face it, that's the slowest point of the show in general.

We ran into her friend Scarlett at intermission, who had been hoping for more Elizabethan costumes, but Beatrix liked the glamorous 30s style of the production, especially the evening dresses. As far as performances, of course her favorites were the women — thus a play about sisters was right up her alley. She especially loved Cordelia (of course), but also Goneril for her power, and loved Charity Jones in multiple roles but especially as a knight. She appreciated Lear, Kent, and the Duke of Gloucester, but was no big fan of Edmund, declaring him to sound too much like the donkey in Shrek (can't please them all I suppose).

All in all, I'm going to call it an unmitigated success, and Beatrix is eager to see "ALL of Shakespeare." Good thing we have the Guthrie!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Are The Star-Bellied Sneetches the Best on the Beaches?

Ok, a disclaimer. I'm not, and never have been, a really big Dr. Seuss fan. Just not my thing, nor Beatrix's.

But the Children's Theatre Company hols a very special place in my heart, for any number of reasons. We can't afford season tickets (which was my big desire as a child Beatrix's age), but we try to get there as often as we can. Last night, Beatrix and I (and her new Baby Alive doll Maia) and I had a date to see The Sneetches: The Musical, and had a fantastic evening in second row seats!

Due to friends who went to school there and some part-time work as an usher (a million years ago), I'm very familiar with the CTC space. Still, I always am impressed by how smoothly the from of house runs there. It's easy, it's enjoyable, it's comfortable. Getting there, parking, sometimes stopping briefly at the MIA, hanging out in the lobby, getting to our seats — all extraordinarily convenient. It seems like an odd thing to comment on, but when that part of the night goes well, it makes everything else a lot more enjoyable.

I have several friends in the cast (shout out to Bradley and Max especially!), so that was fun. But I have to say that the high point for both of us was seeing our friends' daughter, Maia, in the lead role of Standee. Maia had been cast in the ensemble, and was understudying Standee, when she first got called on to play the role about a week ago. Though I hope the originally cast actor gets better soon, I'm secretly THRILLED we got to see Maia in the part, because she was OUTSTANDING. That girl, not much older than Beatrix, carried the whole show with strong singing and acting skills but mostly a comfort not he stage and an attention to other cast members that was phenomenal to see. Beatrix is still talking about it, and rightfully so.

The cast as a whole actually got me thinking a lot. It was a large cast, and effortlessly diverse, the kind of color-blind casting that might have been made a big deal about earlier in my career and now is a matter of course. And I think that the show was much stronger for it.

Tomorrow, we'll all see King Lear at the Guthrie, so it's certainly a weekend full of different kinds of theater. We're so lucky to have these kinds of opportunities here, so if nothing else, this is my question to you — if you are not out seeing performances, what's holding you back? Rethink it if you can, because times like last night are pure magic.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Continuing Ed

As I said earlier, I've been taking  a lot of great classes lately.

I've mentioned the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota classes in a previous post, and we have been getting a lot out of those. In the past month or so we've taken one on painting, two on floor refinishing, one on electricity, and there's one we are signed up for tomorrow on plumbing if we can solve childcare (at least one of us will be going). We're also taking a really exciting one on iPhone photography with them later this month, with the always-fascinating Eric Mueller!

I'm bolstering that with some online continuing education. I'm currently beta-testing a new course on social media, which is more work than I expected, but which I'm learning a lot from (not the least of which is my ineptitude at using Google Sheets). Later this month, I'll be doing more online courses with the ever-amazing Christina Boyd-Smith, and amazing life church. Join me, it's free! Link here.

In between, I'm reading as much as I can, though I still have a propensity for fiction over non-fiction. But, as I was working on Beatrix's summer camp schedule today, I was thinking about how important learning new things is for me, especially high now. In many ways, it feels like the only way to combat the current toxic political climate, and to grow stronger, which is all kind of my theme for the year.

There are a lot of fun classes I want to take, too, if I can swing the funds. My friend Anna is teaching a sewing class I hope to do. I really want to take the Bittercube cocktail classes, but don't think we can swing the funds right now.

Am I the only one focused on learning MORE MORE MORE? I doubt it. What do you do to keep yourself curious?

Thursday, March 2, 2017


I picked this book up because I loved Miranda Beverly-Whittemore's previous book, Bittersweet so much, and because I am a sucker for, in order:

1)  old houses
2)  50s Hollywood
2)  artists' stories

In many ways, it did not disappoint. The house plays a front-and-center role, as does the 50s Hollywood story. Beverly-Whittemore is also especially strong at playing with the idea of what family means — in the best and the worst ways.

Though I found it a good read, I also found it to drag in several places. Maybe the multiple narrators and the switching back and forth between 1955 and 2005 were just too much. Maybe the whole premise was just a little too unbelievable. Maybe the characters never developed enough to care about them as much as I did the storyline or the house.

In any case, I'm glad enough that I read it, but I can already tell the story is  to going to stick with me for long.

(as usual, book provided free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an unbiased review)