Showing posts from 2013

Resolution Summary

Just looked back over my 2013 New Year's Resolutions: 1)  Eat better, exercise more. This is a perennial resolution, and I need to suss how to make it mean enough to actually do it. I did not exercise more. I have been eating a lot better. I'll count this one as somewhat achieved. 2)  Find a dentist. For me and Beatrix. This is a silly phobia that needs to stop. DONE! I love my new dentist (Dr. Amble, thanks Krista!), and in 2014 the ACA will even cover Beatrix's care! 3)  Gain professional certification by becoming QuickBooks Pro certified. QuickBooks ProAdvisors actually talked me out of this by noting there was no Mac test. But I did get more proficient. 4)  Build a successful and thriving business with my husband; our new joint endeavor, Gladhill Rhone LLC, starts today! Success! I am very proud of our first year, and looking forward to building on it. 5)  Work less and create more. This is a scary one, because we are really dependent on my

My 15 Minutes

Our good friend Julio is a reporter, and yesterday we were exchanging a lot of discussion via Twitter about last-minute shopping. Which is how I found myself quoted in the following article: He also posted an article looking for instant last-minute suggestions, and I pointed out he had not included memberships or philanthropy — so he added them: Julio's pretty amazing. If you like his writing style, I would suggest you follow his blog, or read him in the Pioneer Press, or even buy his new book, The Mobile Writer  (especially if you got an iPad or similar device for Christmas).


My brilliant husband, on kindness: I especially like this: And, here’s a little secret I’m going to tell you — kindness in the face of an adversary immediately gives you, the kind practitioner, the upper hand. It often throws those gripped by anger off balance. It often diffuses the tension. It puts one in a position of power to effect positive change. And, even if it fails to do any of those things, it garners the support of those viewing from the outside.

People Making a Difference

It's been a weekend reminding me about the importance of making a difference. Last night, we went to my friend Nicole's holiday party. Nicole has a very popular show on cable home channels ("Rehab Addict"), and an enviable track record of saving houses both here and in Detroit. But what I find really incredible about her — besides her unbelievable work ethic (seriously, she is going all the time) — is how authentic she is. Nicole believes completely in the work she does, and she follows those core values as a guidestar. She never does anything halfway, and she is always pushing those around her to do their best work as well. And she cares, passionately, about saving historic homes — and even more about the people who live in them and who work to restore them. Nicole makes me believe, just a little harder, every day. Then tonight, we went to my friend Barry's housewarming party. Barry and his wife went through an open house in Dayton's Bluff just four week

MN Sure

Let me start by saying that, starting 1/1/14, we have what appears to be an excellent health care plan that gives us a lot more flexibility and better service than we have now, for at least $1,200 less annually, and with a 42% lower deductible. Between that and the covered services, as well as the lower co-pays for those services, The ACA has already been of enormous benefit to our family. And I believe people like us, two people building a small company and trying to give back to the community in every way they can while developing entrepreneurially, is the future of this country. I will also say that this post is in no way a debate on the federal ACA site. I live in Minnesota, where our state government was wise enough to run its own exchange. I have not even looked at the federal site, because I have no reason to. But Holy Hannah, the MNSure site is bad enough. We first tried to get on the MNSure site in early November. We had spent about 6 hours total before today looking at

My Husband is Famous!

For those who didn't know, he was featured in the Business section of the PiPress last weekend. Too bad they took the photos after we had taken down all our art because our ceilings are being redone.

Mom Shoes

Christmas — well, really, the whole Advent season — was enormous in my family as I grew up. From my earliest childhood I remember my grandmother creating beaded Christmas crafts (and who can forget the Three Wise Men with velvet cone bodies and featureless faces made of nylons over styrofoam balls?) There were huge family dinners, at my grandparents' and then at our house later on. We went to holiday shows. There were cookies and breads and lefse. There were gifts that satisfied your deepest longings and thanks for gifts you gave in kind. My mother wasn't one to ever give you cash, or even its cousin, the gift card. She had an incredible ability to figure out what you needed to accomplish your goal, or what you were giving up or skimping on to achieve it, and then give that to you. When I redid the bathroom, she bought me a candelabra, so I could burn candles while in the bath. The year we decided to forego travel to deal with some other major expenses, she took us all to Flo

The Sonic Quilt That Is Eastern Europe

This weekend I am working with an incredible concert series, and I hope you can join us! Friday evening’s concert program, " Muzika: Celebrating the Sounds of Eastern Europe" features award-winning vocalist Natalie Nowytski ( with friends, including Bulgarian gadulka player Nikolay Gueorguiev, women’s a capella group Mila Vocal Ensemble (, Balkan party band Orkestar Bez Ime (, and the folk supergroup Ukrainian Village Band (  At 7:00pm the artists will give a talk on what to listen for in Eastern European music to help those new to the music, followed by the concert itself at 7:30 pm.   Tickets are $12 (with some discounts) and available at the door at Sundin Hall (Hamline University). Saturday there's a FREE dance party. Come join us for both! I'm excited for Beatrix to experience this great, Eastern European folk music and dance!

Thanksgiving Kimchi

(It's also apparently Hmong New Year.) This morning, I headed over to the Asian market on University Avenue to pick up some "fun with fermentation" ingredients. I don't know why we don't shop there all the time; the food is so fresh and so much fun! So then, while Beatrix had her BFF Alma over for a playdate, Patrick and I put up some yummy faux-kimchi (still fermented, but tastes a lot less like eating sea monkeys). Isn't it pretty? (

Black the Museum

Though "doorbuster" prices are appealing, it's generally stuff we don't need or want (well, we could use a new fridge, but...). And the idea of shopping in crowds, and waiting in the cold in long lines (especially starting last night) — well, basically, forget it! So we decided to do a different Black Friday activity — we went to the museum! Rather than hang around watching cartoons and drinking coffee all morning, as we often do on a day off (don't judge!), we got up and got going right away a little before 7:00. Beatrix was intrigued: "Are we going to the Bakken Museum to see the electricity? The History Museum to see the mine and the Indians and the house?" No, we were heading to the Minneapolis Institute of the Arts, which had their own Black Friday special. We arrived, got free tickets to the "Audacious Eye" Japanese collection exhibition, and headed on in. We stoppen in the lobby to grab some free Dogwood coffee (mmmmm!) and Rustica

Daughter Love

I love my husband incredibly, more now in our wonderful life together than even during that smitten phase when we first met. I love my family (well, what's left of it). I love my friends fiercely. I love my pets (well, most of them). But I am struck every day with the way I love my daughter, almost to distraction. I love how sweet she is, how she tries to do nice things for us when she thinks of them. I love her questions. I love her phonetic spelling (she's thankful for "trce" — think about it, yes, "turkey"). I love the way she dances, a natural ballerina. I love the way she is always doing projects. I love the way she puts her hands on her hips and says "humph." I love her long legs, and tiny waist, and curly hair, and richly-lashed blue eyes. I love her art and her music. I love the way she pouts just like my mom. I love it when she tries and appreciates new food. I love her babbling on to tell us things, and her questions about how thin

Styled by Pinterest

One of the other things I did this weekend was spend some time on some creative craft projects. I absolutely love hunkering down and making things, and do it far too rarely — so it was nice to indulge. On Saturday, Beatrix and I went to a workshop at Wet Paint  that Krista had told us about. The workshop was about using shrink film to make things — basically, adult shrinky-dinks. Beatrix wanted us to make matching pairs of earrings, in purple and yellow; I could wear mine now and she could save hers until she gets her ears pierced. I was pretty dubious, but I think they turned out well (all art direction by Beatrix Rhone): Then, on Sunday, while Beatrix had a playdate over, I kept half an eye on them and devoted the other half to painting a pair of jeans. It was an idea I had seen on Pinterest, but they used stencils — I could not find one I liked, so I eventually used a rubber stamp. They are far preppier than I usually wear, but I think they are actually pretty cute, and

Two Date Nights

This weekend, and amazing thing happened. Due to a congruence of events, Patrick and I were able to have two date nights in a row, something that I don't think had happened since before I got pregnant (and rarely, since we had the boys, even then). The best part was that we were able to attend some wonderful things, bearing witness to the incredible amount of creativity present in the Twin Cities! Friday night, Beatrix went to Cinderella at Children's Theatre Company with my aunt and uncle, and my cousins children. They loved it and thought it was very magical (I'm trying to get Beatrix to do a guest blogger review). Meanwhile, we had a lovely dinner at Zelo, drinks at the Monte Carlo, and then went to see For Sale by The Moving Company. You know that I have a deep, enduring love for MoCo's work, and that everything I have seen there has been wonderful. But this piece was so truly hilarious that my teeth actually hurt from laughing. For all the years I worked at Jeu

Give to the Max

Tomorrow is Give to the Max Day, the crazy annual day where charities each pitch you to give to them that day, where people go online and give to their favorite places, where they encourage people to do the same, where everyone ends up in a lovely frenzy of philanthropy. Sure, complain what you will, say the fees are too much or you get asked by too many places that day, or what have you. Give to the Max Day is fun! It's a really easy way to go online and give and maybe learn about some new organizations that are doing amazing work that you did not even know about. Need some places to start? Try any of my clients, all doing great work: (in no particular order) IFP Minnesota Caux Round Table Bedlam Theatre KidsPark Cathedral Hill Montessori Macalester-Groveland Community Council Nimbus Rosy Simas Danse Black Dirt Theater MotionPoems Mental Health Association of Minnesota Skewed Visons Waseca County Historical Society Circus Juventas ETA: oh, the link would hel

Domesticated Weekend

I need to remember that, when I am feeling my most overwhelmed with work, the best thing for me to do is take a big step back and turn my mind to my home for the weekend. Inevitably, I feel much more grounded, productive, and ready to tackle work issues after 24-48 hours of domestic distraction. (Plus, I wrote down all the projects that simply need to be done in the near future at the Ashland house the other day — and there were 26 of them. Yikes!) This weekend was perfect for a domestic re-grounding, though. Yesterday, in between tea parties and other fun with Beatrix and her friend Flora, I roasted a pumpkin, made kettle corn pumpkin seeds, and baked bran muffins. Today, Patrick and I tackled the pantry, which we do every few years when the total chaos of it gets to us. I never remember to take "before" pictures, but here's an "after": Now, after Beatrix and I ran a bunch of errands, she and Patrick are at the park while I have just raked the back y

Highlights of the Week

It occurs to me that sometimes I write too much about my struggles. So, even though I am STILL sick and overwhelmed, I thought I would record some of the wonderful parts of the week: -  The pink-purple roses Beatrix and Patrick got me yesterday (and they got an advent calendar — yeah!) -  An inspiring, exciting breakfast with Jun-Li on Monday that blew me away reminding me how insightful she is about community art, and how she lives those values. -  An extremely successful Incredibly Fun Party for IFP Minnesota last night, where I got to spend time with wonderful people all night long. -  Going to Poppy with Krista and Beatrix tonight, where Beatrix dressed as a princess, we ran into the Schlossahab crew, and Jennifer gave me the remainder of her gift card so I could get a most excellent dress. Plus, free earrings! -  Getting to connect with Chuck over lunch today, after far far too long. -  A wonderful night out with Leah, which reminded me why she is such a strong and bea

What Are We Doing Today?

Every morning, Beatrix asks "What are we doing today?" Usually the answer is something like "Going to school, then dance/circus/violin/etc." To which she replies "And after THAT?" This weekend has been a little slower. Patrick and I both have bad colds, and she has a minor one. But we still wanted to get out of the house today. We started the day with the Springboard for the Arts Health Fair. We pretty much go every year, though Beatrix was pretty unhappy the first year we went that it was nothing like a fair, with no animals or rides or cheese curds. This year she was happy to decline the flu shot (since we had already had the mist, which might be why we are sick), but ran around stamping her passport so she could get a prize (a princess book, because Springboard wins!) We got a lot of good information about MNSure, also worth its weight in gold. We then hit a small batch of fairly new shops along Minnehaha Avenue — Junket, Tumbleweed, Paris Ap


Tonight was the PTA Open House for Beatrix's school . We attended and learned A LOT, but maybe not in the way that was expected. We learned: 1)  Always save the slip that comes home in your student's backpack. I remembered the event while at a client's, and I had not seen the slip in awhile anyway, so I went to the school website. There was nothing about the event on the website, but I found a link to the (separate) PTA website; by going there, I found the event time of 5:30. Except that the event was at 6:00pm (which we realized when we got there at 5:30 and there was no one there and the sign in front said 6:00). Which gave us time to go to the store and pick up some apples. I also learned by this that I had better start following the school's principal on Twitter. 2)  Free stuff attracts people. Tonight's event had flu shots/mist (cue big tears from Beatrix when she realized that), and a pizza dinner (yum). Attendance was good, and it was fun to meet so

Why Blog, Anyway?

Today I attended (much of) the Minnesota Blogger's Conference . Originally founded four years ago by my friend Missy and Patrick's friend Arik, the conference has undergone a lot of changes over time, from a kind of rough-and-tumble beginning at CoCo, to honing for two years, and then a slightly pulled-back-but-still-incredibly-valuable event today. The conference is involving more people — more volunteers (it seems), more people on the steering committee, more topics — and even more male presence (it looked about 60/40 female to male today, a big difference from Year 1 where the group photo with Patrick and a whole bunch of hot women would make a lesser wife very jealous). As it addresses more ideas and topics, it also struggles with some growing pains, but the sheer ability to meet lots of other bloggers, and learn how to be a better blogger while doing so, is incredibly valuable. (you would think that after all these years and networking and education that this would be a

Ain't No Party Like a Grandpa Party

At least here in Saint Paul, our orchestra (the SPCO) is back from strike and playing. I had not realized how much I had missed them until we attended a free family concert today. With corporate sponsorship, the SPCO has these events a few times a year. Often they are over in the rehearsal hall, and feature crafts and an "instrument petting zoo" and the like, plus a short concert. This one was actually over in the Ordway, and was targeted towards an older audience, with an educational narrative, some musical examples, and then a full movement from Mozart's 23rd Concerto. The best part, though, is that we got to go with both grandpas! Grandpa Kenny was in town, so he and Grandpa Dennis came with us. Beatrix got to sit between the two grandpas for the concert, and then share some of her strawberry pancakes at brunch afterwards. Beatrix was so excited about this last night that she started calling it the "grandpa party," which kind of stuck. I don't get t


Last night, thanks to my aunt and uncle who took Beatrix to Children's Theatre and then kept her for her FIRST sleepover with cousins Sunni and Soren, we got a well-timed date night! Dinner was kind of unremarkable, actually, a quick bite at Tacos, Nachos and Beer thanks to a Groupon. Not exactly fine dining. Later that night, we ended the evening very differently, with dessert and cocktails at The Strip Club. A delicious "candy bar dessert,"strong cocktails, and one of the best service experiences I have had in a long time. In between, we saw an incredible show, Ordinary Days at Nautilus Music-Theater. Now, I worked at Nautilus for five years, and their opera/new music-theater mission is dear to my heart. Their new space (downstairs from the old space) is really lovely, and adds a jewel-box like theatre space to Lowertown. But the show - WOW! Ordinary Days is written by Adam Gwon, a young wunderkind in music-theater. It's 90 straight minutes of catchy mu

Kitchen Therapy

It's been a hard several weeks with a lot of issues going on. But I knew it had been even harder than I realized when I found myself with a need to be in the kitchen tonight. Creating things usually gets me out of a funk, and cooking/baking/preserving is the ultimate in that for me — I can escape to my own world of thought while doings something beneficial for my family. So, as the time was measured by the passage of shows on MPR, I settled in. I started by pickling (for the first time ever), converting beautiful lemon cucumbers my friend Maggie gave me into 6 jars of golden pickles. As that boiled down, and then soaked in the water bath, I mixed up brownies to use as a base for trifle for a dinner party tomorrow night. Since the oven was already warm and the freezer overly full, I defrosted some bananas and made banana bread (we always toss our bananas in the freezer when they inadvertently become overripe, for this very reason). By the time Patrick got home from taking

First Day

First day of kindergarten!

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

So, in trying to be more creative, I've been exploring with more classes. recently, thanks to a Living Social deal, I purchased a Wine and Canvas session.... I picked the session I did because it featured a painting called "Starry Night Over Saint Paul," which reminded me of the night Patrick and I spent at the Covington Inn for our anniversary last year. I found out after I booked that it was the opening weekend for their new space (before now, each night was set up in a restaurant, which I would imagine could get kind of tricky). The space they have now, in St. Anthony, is well set up and has a nice bar and food selection: So you get there, and they set you up with all the stuff. Nothing as intimidating as a blank canvas, right? The crowd was mixed. Predominantly female, though a few couples on dates which looked like fun. A few people on their own like me, but mostly small groups of friends. The trio across from me was a group of nurses on a girls night out

The Big G

More nostalgia today as we attended a matinee of Pride and Prejudice at the Guthrie (thanks to a great program called PlayDates, parents can attend certain matinees at reduced prices while the kids are entertained upstairs — win/win!) I couldn't even count the number of years I worked, off and on, in the Guthrie Box Office. Long enough for it to be a seminal part of my life. Long enough ago that the Dram was still in existence, you could smoke indoors, and Dodie still reigned supreme. Long enough I still live in mild terror of printscreens and of Lendre catching a typo. If the phones were not ringing we assembled mailings for Sue McClean's concerts or, in the ultimate make-work, assembled scratch pads. The ticketing software was tetchy and it was ALWAYS better to go in and find your patron the best seats from what you knew, rather than choosing a "best available" option. Theatre-lovers from all over the world would place their own calls to reserve seats, and it was


The last several nights, we've been awakened at 4:30am, every day. By different things, mind you — a cat with a UTI issue, a loud car stereo outside, Beatrix needing a glass of water, that kind of thing. But 4:30 every day can get pretty wearing. It's not the right time to get up and get things done; no amount of coffee in the world would make me fully functional at that time. But it's also ridiculously hard to get back to sleep; I lay there for often up to two hours, tossing and turning, before I fall back asleep for 30 minutes and have to get up for real and start my day. I have a hard time getting back to sleep when awakened anyway, but be able to sleep through the night the last couple of weeks has been blissful, and coming back to the wake-ups is making me especially zombie-esque. Kind of analogy for the rest of the day — when can you easily return to something, and when does it take you a long time to get back in the groove?

10,000 Towers

I first met Aldo Moroni about a million years ago when he made sculptures of the great theatres of the world for the Jeune Lune lobby. Ever since then, I have desperately wanted one of his sculptures. I love the alignment between art and architecture, I love his distinctive style, and I love spending time with him. So I was especially excited when I saw on his Facebook page that he is doing classes. He has put together classes where people can make their own towers; the ultimate goal is an installation next year where, after everyone has made them and brought them home, they bring them back one day next year for a big art installation. I was especially interested to see that he was offering all-ages and family classes. So, last Saturday Beatrix, Patrick, my dad and I headed over to Aldo's studio and made towers! It was really the most wonderful day I have had in quite some time. I am pretty intimidated by clay, but Also was generous and helpful in showing us how, and th

Out and About

We get out and do a lot of things together as a family. In fact, every day, Beatrix asks what we'll be doing that day after school (or "all day" if it's a weekend). As I have noted before, the Twin Cities have  a lot of free festivals and events, especially in the summer, so there is often something interesting to do. For Christmas, my dad got us a membership to the Minnesota Historical Society , and one of our favorite things to do together is go to historic sites. Beatrix especially loves Fort Snelling, but she has enjoyed every place we've been, even the windy Jeffers Petroglyphs on a particularly frigid Memorial Day weekend! Today, we had a chance to see the Purcell-Cutts house , thanks to a membership to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts that our friends Sommer and Hjalmer gave us (technically, the membership is expired, but since the home is only open a few weekends of the year, and since tomorrow is my birthday, they let us in). We've seen several F

Buckets and Thoughts

Tonight we took Beatrix to "Buckets and Tap Shoes" at the Fringe, which she thoroughly enjoyed. For me, the show was enjoyable, but even more so, it set off a stream-of-consciousness series of memories. Walking into the Music Box Theater (or whatever it's called now), and remembering when we first began to develop that space as the Cricket Theatre in the 1980s. At that time, the space was a moldy, run-down former meeting hall for the Jehovah's Witnesses I believe, or maybe Seventh Day Adventists. The balcony was almost falling in, and an interior room in the basement was painted in bright colors as a "Jesus Grotto." That project was a labor of love, and though the Cricket is long gone, I am pleased the theater still exists. Watching the show, and thinking of when I first saw Buckets and Tap Shoes, nine years ago with Annie Cady. We saw tons of Fringe shows that year, and B&TS was the "Best of the Fringe" so we saw their crowded, steamy extr

We're Jammin'

Today, my friend Rebecca was kind enough to come over and teach me how to make jam. Here's the thing about Rebecca...she could have just sent me the recipe she uses, or given me some tips, or even pointed me to some blog posts, and called it done and I would have been grateful. But, being the kind of person she is, she simply said "Why don't I just come over, and we'll do it together, so you'll know how." So I picked up some strawberries and basil and the other items on her list: Cut them up, mashed them down, and mixed them with the pectin and the sugar and cooked until the jell had set: Heated up the jars, put in the strawberries and the basil, then heated the jars in a hot bath: And then, after carefully extracting them and after they had cooled enough to vacuum seal and create nine jars of strawberry-basil goodness:


This week, because Beatrix had 3 days plus a weekend off school, she learned the term "staycation." She doubted me at first that it was a real word, but I think she had enough fun so that she will acquiesce the point to me now. I always love Minnesota in the summertime, and am loathe to leave because there are so many greta things to do! I never seem to be able to go to all the festivals and events that I want to, but we did pretty well at it this weekend. Wednesday we went to Fort Snelling, which may well be her favorite historic site. Seeing the fort through her eyes is always wonderfully enjoyable. Despite my migraine, we went to the neighborhood patio night. Thursday she had a playdate with one of her BFFs, Alma. That night, we drove down to Hastings to see Black Dirt Theater's  production of "Annie." They are one of my clients, and the production was fantastic, and we all had a lot of fun. Friday was a pool party, and on Saturday we met our friends

Front Window

I finished this project awhile back, but am just getting to posting it now! The woodwork in the front room has bothered me since I bought the house in 1993. So we finally got it scraped and sanded, and I painted the window with some fresh new oil paint. Made a huge difference! Now, on to the rest of the woodwork in the room...

May You Lead a Pinteresting Life

There's been a lot of discussion lately about how social media is not quite accurate in how it portrays people's lives. The general thesis makes sense. Especially on places like Facebook and Pinterest and boutique blogs, we see people's accomplishments; with women and the "New Domesticity"movement, we especially see some rather intimidating creative projects. You know what I mean: - "Check out the new curtains I made out of my grandmother's wedding dress" - "Here's a picture of the 18 kinds of varied jams and jellies I made today" - "Here's the entirely new organic cotton wardrobe I sewed for my daughter for back to school" - "A picture of our dinner — fresh baked bread and goat cheese I made from our neighbor's new goat Daisy" -  "Our perfect vacation retreat in the mountains of Costa Rica" These posts are always beautiful, and inspiring, and kind of intimidating. I know this for a fact, b