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Showing posts from 2019

Creative Nonfiction

My master's degree in historic preservation is from Goucher College, and during our sessions, there was another group that met near us — the creative nonfiction masters program. Since then, I've always had a hard time defining "creative nonfiction," but have always said "I know it when I see it." And this week I came across an excellent example.

Yesterday, an Apartment Therapy piece popped up on my Facebook feed called "Why I Regret Buying an Old Home."  Since naturally that is NOT my mindset, I clicked over, and of course I could not have disagreed with the article more. I don't often post in the comments, but here I did:

I love our old house that I purchased, in poor shape as a HUD home 25 years ago. I love being a caretaker to a house build by a land-speculating hardware widow in 1886, a house that we will pass on to our daughter. I love that I moved into a neighborhood full of "urban pioneers" who moved onto vacant, boarded homes …

Some More Thoughts On Our Trip

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The absolute best times of our "Avoiding Thanksgiving" Chicago trip were the times we spent with friends. Seeing Michelle and Steve (and Eva) on the first night was unbelievably fantastic. Connecting with my cousin Frank and his wife Sandy on the way out of town was equally great, and we could have sat there talking all night.

Our family's idea of "quality time" is generally time spent at museums or performances, exploring together. This trip was no different. I guess our love language is art.

I'm relay starting to like getting a fancy coffee pick-me-up in the afternoons. This could be dangerous.

Spot Hero was easy to use and saved us a ton on parking costs.

Going to big stores seemed like a different world, and though it was interesting to see that world, I'm far more comfortable in small, individual places.

I am still dreaming of the beer at Moody Tongue.

Beatrix is dreaming of redoing her dollhouse, Colleen More fairy-castle style, and I am highly i…

Avoiding Thanksgiving

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I have a really hard time with Thanksgiving; it's always been a slightly awkward holiday in my family, and it's when, years back, that it was clear my mom would not make it. So we like to try to get away over the weekend when we can (past trips have included London, New Orleans, and Vegas). This year, for some reason, it felt especially like we needed to get away, and so we decided to replicate a trip, twelve years ago, when we went to Chicago to stay at the Palmer House and escape the first Thanksgiving after my mom died — and we were off to Beatrix's first Chicago trip!

On the way, though, we had the bonus of stopping to see our friends Michelle and Steve in Madison (who we also had not seen in forever). Let's just say that hilarity ensued, and it was one of the most fun nights I've had in forever!

The next day, after a stiff cup of coffee, we drove on the couple of hours to Chicago, starting out at the Driehaus Museum, in all its Gilded Age glory. It was beautif…

Shelter Empty

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I'm sooooo divided about this.



Minneapolis Animal Control had a "clear the shelter" event yesterday where they waived all adoption fees and all animals were adopted.

Now the pessimistic part of me knows that animals given away for free are at a miuch higher risk for being mistreated, used as bait dogs in dogflghting, and other horrible things.

Yet I am also told that this animal control division does a very good job of vetting potential owners. And it obviously worked to clear the shelter, making room for more animals in need and getting some animals into good, loving homes.

Saint Paul just changed to having a fine-free library, which has been extraordinarily successful. While I'm not equating accidentally dropping a book into a bathtub with animal mistreatment in terms of consequences, it does make me wonder about how many people are unable to use public services because the fees charged are just not possible for people who might otherwise make excellent use of them…

Speak.Easy.

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Beatrix does not need us anymore.

Or, more to the point, she had sleepovers both Friday and Saturday nights, allowing us to have two consecutive date nights. It's been about 15 years since that has happened (in fact, we realized when we were out on Friday night that it was our 15-year dating anniversary...)

We started at The Mudd Room, a charming little speakeasy located under Lucky's 13 in Mendota Heights. Now if you know Lucky's, you know it's kind a a family-friendly zoo on the weekends, and when we pulled up it was in full swing, with a line out the door and no parking to be found. But somehow, when you enter the Mudd Room through the side, it's a whole different world — quiet, sophisticated, and charming. The room was almost empty, though it filled up quickly!

We stayed perhaps longer than we should have, enjoying a delicious flatbread and lobster guac, as well as a few cocktails. It was lovely, and we could not imagine better!

That is, until we got to Volstead…

Salary Ranges on Job Postings - Why It's Important

I know. You've become used to this blog being a fun little thing about cocktails and activities. I rarely post about work-related issues, mainly because I'm usually just head down, doin' the work. But this one is really important to me.
For the love of all things holy, when you post a job description, please include a salary range!
I’m so committed to this that I’ve recently made the professional decision that I’ll no longer share job descriptions that don’t have a salary range in them. 
I’ve been in this business long enough to remember when wages were the third rail that was never touched, and so it took some re-aligning on my part, but I’m glad I did. In the beginning, it flew against everything I thought I knew. Wouldn’t you want the ultimate amount of flexibility for the job, to bring in someone with promise at a lower level and let them grow with the position? Or to be able to draw someone at a higher level, who was interested in your organization? What if you found the…

Sweet as Cherry Pie

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Beatrix was off of school yesterday, so she spent the afternoon with my aunt.

She introduced my aunt to her favorite places, all of which were new to Jan — lunch at Cafe Astoria, a stop by J. Crew (we don't know why that's her favorite!), and Anthropologie (I think much of this interest stems form wandering down Grand Avenue with her friend Frances the other day....)

They then baked cherry pie with cherries off our sour cherry tree at Summit that Jan had picked and frozen.










Who says days off school are not educational?

Sunday

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Today.

Back on the mat at Yoga and a Pint. Hard, but worth it.



Went on a tour of Celeste Saint Paul, since we loved it so much after we visited the bar there the other night. Beatrix loved it as much as we did.

Visited Aldo Moroni's studio to take part in what is likely his last big piece. Left in tears. (We're hoping to go back Friday for the "opening" — join us?



Visited a new brewery — Broken Clock — with a great vibe. Tasty beer. Fascinated with the membership model but not sure I want to take one more thing on. Very dog-friendly.



Ended the day with a (surprisingly enough) fantastic dinner at Buca. Who knew? Totally worth it to get on their dinner club list, because dinner for 3, with plenty of leftovers and a huge dessert, set us back under $30 with tip.



Make New Friends - Estelle and Celeste

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While Beatrix was at a birthday sleepover last night (thanks, Ava's family!), Patrick and I went out after the Gala rehearsal to try some new places!

First on the list was Estelle, a new Mediterranean small-plates place on Saint Clair and Fairview. I have fond memories of the place; I used to work there when it was Napoleon's, and when Patrick and I got engaged, we went to the bar there when it was Heartland. Estelle lived up to these memories!

There's a nice cocktail and wine list. I had small plates — patatas braves which tasted just like Spain, and some delicious arancini. Patrick had rigatoni and soft serve (because, as the waitstaff said "the building came with a soft-serve machine."). Even with a reservation there was a bit of a wait, but staff was attentive, and for a place that only opened two weeks ago, it was remarkably smooth. It was all fantastic, and I will meet you there any day of the week!



Next we decided to check out the bar at the new boutique h…

Conference Lunch

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This morning we had parent-teacher conferences at Beatrix's school. Middle school conferences are waaaaayyyy different than elementary school! We got 10 minutes with each teacher, which went by in a flash; yet at the same time that meant that we were at the school for almost two hours seeing eight teachers with a little time in between. Yikes!

They were great, though, so we took Beatrix out to lunch to celebrate. She picked Thirty-Six Cafe, which just opened on Grand (in the old Himalayan Java spot, boy was that place short-lived!)

And it was a great choice! It's very glamorous, with light pink walls and lots of pink and cream flowers, plus gold accents. And it was packed!



It's kind of a breakfast/brunch place. They are known for their pancakes, which were fluffy and custardy at the same time and delicious!



As to me, I might have finally discovered what all the fuss about avocado toast:



We did not try the coffees, which was an oversight — we'll have to go back!

Prices …

Halloween is Coming!

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Today the dogs went to get groomed and came back in fancy Halloween costumes. We have the best groomer in Tami ever, and the best part is that she does it at her place and so the dogs are relaxed and have fun (let me know if you want her info!)



After Beatrix's cast party, we also headed to a "Trunk-or-Treat" at Gloria Dei. Beatrix created her "cupcake queen" costume on the fly:



Then, at Beatrix's book club, they carved pumpkins:



So I'm feeling a little more ready for the holiday now....

Die Zauberflöte

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Beatrix has just finished the performance run for The Magic Flute (Reimagined) at SPA, her first middle school show. The performances, design, and direction were all fantastic, and she had an amazing time as being in it.

It makes me a little verklempt, thinking of my own time doing theatre at SPA (and at other places at that time, like TCITY). Watching the hallway for Mr. Rosewall's hints about what the musical would be, hours of rehearsals, nights working on the set with friends and then hitting Green Mill or Acropol Inn, getting together on the weekends and sharing inside jokes about the show with way to many people to tag here! Those were incredibly magic times in my life, and I feel so happy for Beatrix that she is getting a chance to experience that (though in far more posh surroundings than I did, that new theatre facility is amazing!)

It also made me think about the Magic Flute productions at Jeune Lune, after Beatrix asked me how many times I had seen the opera and I said …

More Happy Hour Reviews

This week, Beatrix has had dress and tech rehearsals for her show (The Magic Flute Reimagined, plays this Fri and Sat for FREE at SPA!), so Patrick and I have been able to hit some happy hours. We've been picking places we don't get to much, but not quite trendy new places.

Last night we tried Bap and Chicken, over by the Summit house on Grand, though we did have to walk past the still-empty Sixth Chamber site to get there which was sad. Bap and Chicken is in the old Grand Shanghai space, a poppy, Korean fried chicken and rice/noodle bowl place with a lot of hard edges, loud-ish music, and friendly, perky staff.

It's best known for chicken, of course, and I'm sure I did it a disservice by not having it but I went with a tofu bowl in "build your own bap." It was good but not earth-shattering. Patrick had wings and bulgogi tacos, which he enjoyed. Even at happy hour prices it added up kind of fast, so I give it a firm "ok but did not knock my socks off&quo…

Make Us an Offer We Can't Refuse

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So today we did something that may seem crazy. We took a couple of hours that we really don't have – time we could have spent working, or on a date (maybe finally seeing Downton Abbey), or out for a drink with one of YOU reading this – and spent it cleaning the house at 41st and Sheridan. Not deep cleaning, but at least vacuuming and dusting and generally making somewhat presentable.

It seems nuts to do that, you say – after all, it's just likely to be demo'd. Who cares how clean it is inside?

But that's just the thing. I still feel a pretty strong amount of guilt about the things I did not do to make this house better earlier. I want this house to know it was loved and cared about, and that we're sorry that not more was done earlier to take care of it. Yes, it's just going to be torn down. But it should go with some amount of dignity.

The house is empty, and will go on the market pretty soon (and I mean it when I say this is your big chance to get on it before…

MEA Done Right

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For the not in Minnesota, this weekend is MEA, the annual teacher's convention when everyone gets 2 days off school. Many families use the 4-day weekend for vacation, but Beatrix had circus, so we decided to stay closer to home so she would not miss anything.

Thursday we did a Harry Potter themed puzzle room at Trapped Puzzle Rooms. It was a ton of fun – the 3rd one we've done since August (if you include Cabal). We solved it (with a little extra time) and then celebrated with a quick dinner at Smack Shack. Seafood plus a puzzle room = win!

Yesterday we did go on a trip – a day trip to Wisconsin! We stopped for bagels at a cute place in Hudson, then spent the morning at various thrift stores and vintage places in River Falls. They have a ton of fun places, from cheap thrift stores benefitting hospice care and battered women to upcycle places (also a fantastic cupcake place).

The high point, though, was stopping to see our friends James and Heather at Fox Den Books. We got to k…

Dunkin!

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Double posting because there's now a Dunkin' (Donuts) in my hood!

To be far there's been one up on Rice Street for a couple of years, but it's been too long a haul to get there.

I think this one is ... overwhelmed (it just open last Wednesday or Thursday). The cases looked like the Zombie Donut Apocalypse had hit, and there were a good 20+ twitchy people waiting for their coffee orders.

But we got the donuts we wanted, and Beatrix got her pumpkin coffee something, and we are all thrilled.

Welcome, Dunkin!

PS: I still prefer a local coffeeshop any day for coffee and the donuts at Bogart's are better. But it's nice to have a DD, and makes me feel like my college days are not so far away (even though they are).


Good Day, Even Better Night

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Yesterday I was lucky enough to host large clothing exchanges for two very different online groups I am part of. While I LOVE clothing exchanges (they are basically how I buy all my clothes now) for their thrift and ingenuity, what I really love is having face time IRL with the people I know online. They are wonderful and supportive people. It made the snow showers much more tolerable!

In between swaps, Patrick and I ran out and grabbed a drink at Waldmann Brewing with our friends Peg and Troy (and their daughter Natalie, who is Beatrix's friend). We all have Crafttapped, so it was a great way to get together and have a free beer!

Patrick and I tried out Monkey Palace, a new restaurant on Snelling that bills itself as a "Tandoori Restaurant and Alehouse" that is in soft open this week. Their beer list was a little slim for an "alehouse," but they also had a great looking cocktail list. We tried several of their bar snacks: veggie samosa, chicken wings, curried …

Cabal

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I can't say much about Cabal by Walking Shadow Theatre Company, because it would ruin the experience for you. Besides, I learned from talking to a friend this weekend that *perhaps* I am more into immersive theatre than the average bear.

But I can say that if you are interested in a very different dramatic experience — one that's part puzzle room and part live theatre, where the audience is limited to 10 people and it's important that you work all together — then you should check out Cabal. It's currently on an open-ended run, but like all magic, it could disappear quickly.

Tradition, Tradition, New

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We started today with our favorite "fall is here" tradition — a brunch event watching the Twin Cities Marathon. My friend Judy owned a house on Summit one mile form the finish line, and always held a Marathon party. One of my earliest memories from living in my neighborhood was attending and watching Paul Wellstone hand out cups of water to the runners. They would stop, amazed that their senator was handing out water, and he would wave them on saying "Go! Go! You're so close to the end!"

When Judy passed on her son David and his wife Amber took over the house and the party. Those two do that home's traction so proud. The Marathon party is a great chance to get together with friends, to be outside on a beautiful day, and to get teary watching amazing runners do their best. I'm pretty sure Patrick married me because of the Marathon parties.

After  quick stop at my friend Bethany's clothing exchange, we headed out to the open house at Warner Nature Cen…

My Posts - and Other People

Patrick's friend Colin (who I did not even know had seen my blog!) wrote an interesting piece inspired by it about identity, self-esteem and self-compassion.

Which is exactly why I started this blog, to be able to have discussions online about topics in a larger way that social media can often allow (well, and to provide my dad with updates and kid pictures, but that purpose is defunct).

I'm pleased and honored. I found Colin's post very reflective and thought-provoking.

Still, I would challenge him (and you, dear reader) to take it even one step farther.

Colin writes about how identity leads to self-esteem and then hopefully to self-compassion, in a kind of individual hero's/heroine's (what's the they version?) journey. And in many ways he's very right:

This final aspect is interesting as it relates to one's authenticity and being "your true self" - this is what really interests me and is what links back to personal identity. Our identities are…

Holding Hope

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Lest you think I am a curmudgeon who holds new-ish restaurants to impossibly high standards, let me discuss our list to Hope Breakfast Bar, which just opened last week, for Patrick's birthday tonight (they serve breakfast all day). Hope just opened last week, and their cocktail menu debuted tonight.

Hope is located in former Saint Paul Fire Station #5, the city's oldest fire station that the neighborhood worked HARD to keep, despite every developer in town saying it could not be done. it's charming and bright and lively; all the staff seems happy to be there, and they have already developed some regulars.



It's a slightly Southern-inspired breakfast menu, a little meat-heavy, but still plenty that I could eat. Patrick had the shrimp and grits, which he loved and felt they lived up to NOLA standards. Beatrix had the waffle, with a whole berry in custard cream topping (served on the side, so you can mix it up how you like. I went with the theory of measuring a place by th…

Puttin' on the Fitz

The place at the corner of Western and Selby has been a lot of things in its life. A drugstore, part of the College of Visual Arts, and in the past few years 3 restaurants in quick succession — The Salt Cellar (steakhouse), Fitzgerald's (basic pub food), and now The Fitz (pizza). The space itself has changed a little in each incarnation, but has generally remained an open, friendly place (though a few too many tv screens for my taste — and partway through our meal the lights dimmed and the music for louder, while the tvs did not get softer).

Tonight, our friends CJ and Lauren were in town, so we suggested the Fitz as a dinner spot so we could show off our neighborhood a little. If we were to do it again...maybe not....

We had a reservation and were seated quickly, though I thought it was strange that they put as a high-top when they had several regular tables open. The waitress got us our drinks; though they have quite a good beer list and a lovely cocktail list, I was embarrassed…

Swede Hollow Ghost Sonata

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(I'm slow on talking about this one and there are only two more performances, next Saturday and Sunday. The show is a collaboration between Sod House Theater and Black Label Movement. It's free, though donations are encouraged. So RUN, don't walk, and get tickets now: https://www.sodhousetheater.org/swede-hollow-ghost-sonata)

The minute Nathan Keepers and Sarah Agnew came out as two comic park guides (oh wait, Nathan was the "Assistant Tour Guide"), I knew we were in good hands.

But when they had us close our eyes, and then open them to find this magical cast of characters standing on the stones in front of us (all brilliantly costumed by Rhiannon Fiskradatz, I'll add), I knew it was going to be much more than that.

And then we as a group followed their echoing voices through a tunnel into the park, to a play that starts with a declaration of love on a chuppah-like bench. That then meanders into the forest to scenes that are different each time (pro-tip — wh…

Crowns

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There's so much good art to see right now!

Last night I went to the opening night of the first production of a brand new theatre company, New Dawn Theatre — and it did not disappoint! Regina Taylor's CROWNS was the perfect show to kick off this company with a bang!

Everything works together perfectly. The performance is held in a corner church on Summit Avenue, now used as a performance center. It was great to see the people streaming in (and stream they did, there's no nearby parking, so they came from all over!) When we got in, we were thrilled to see Robin Hickman with her Celebration of Soulful Dolls, all in amazing hats!

When Austene Van, the founder of New Dawn, gave her curtain speech, though, I got chills, especially when she thanked all of us for being there and being part of live theater, especially this company which is SO needed in the Twin Cities theater ecosystem right now.



And then, when the show started, when the perfectly curated projection began and young…