Showing posts from November, 2020

Pandemic (Holiday) Projects - May Your Season Be Bright

(I have very mixed feelings about having my pandemic projects be holiday decorating. Who would have known it would last this long?) In trying to make our home more cozy for winter, we've added a lot of warm light. I suppose it's very Norwegian, which is good since our Norwegian family is obviously not coming this year. Patrick's favorite are the lights at the fireplace, though I want to add some candles. We've added fairy lights around all of our double windows: A puzzle table with a "Together" light (kind of cheesy, but fun right now): Outside, I decorated the back window boxes: Patrick put colored lights up in front on the fence and porch. One the Christmas tree is up in the window I'll take a picture of the whole front. I think the Scandinavian countries are on to something — it certainly adds joy to every night for us!

University Grove

Last Thanksgiving, we were in Chicago, going to museums, eating out, shopping, and exploring new neighborhoods. Since this Thanksgiving we could not get away, we decided to explore a neighborhood here in our hometown. University Grove is a small enclave of architect-designed homes near the Saint Paul Campus of the U of M. The university-owned land was available only to university professors and staff, and he stipulation was that the homes in it all needed to be architect-designed. While early houses in the area tend to be colonial or tudor style (including a Lundie), subsequent construction (mainly from the late 1930s through the late 1960s) tends to be more modern in style, from architects such as Ralph Rapson, Hammel and Green, Winston & Elizabeth Close (who I am currently reading about and who also lived in the neighborhood), and more. All the houses had construction cost caps (initially $10,000, later close to $50,000), giving them a remarkable continuity even as the styles di

Have a Bookish Holiday

 Last year my amazing sister-in-law, Patrice, was with us for Christmas. Her gift was the highlight of the night — she brought a whole armful of unwrapped books, dumped them dramatically out on a coffee table in the middle of where we were gathered, and told everyone that they should chose one that spoke to them. Each book had two stories — why Patrice had chosen it (usually a personal connection with the author), and why each of us chose the book we did. It was a fascinating conversation; the book I chose was excellent; and it got my stepson back on the reading train and he has been reading like a fiend since then. It was amazing. We won't be able to do the same thing this year, if only because we obviously won't be gathering. But I'm thinking of how to maintain that spirit. I love the Icelandic idea of the Jolabokaflod or "Christmas Book Flood" where you give books and chocolate on Christmas Eve and read straight through the night until Christmas morning. And i

Quick Picks for Black Friday

Four quick picks if you are doing your holiday shopping today: 1) A fleece onesie from Poppy . I got one earlier this week, and EVERYONE needs one (and by the results to my social media posts, I am not the only one who thinks so.) Poppy is 20% off everything through Monday, and you get a free pair of gloves with purchases over $60 (though the onesies will be less than that, so buy other things too). Tell Jill I sent you. Trust me. This is the one thing everyone needs right now. 2) A membership to the Feminist Book Club . You can do a book-only monthly membership, or a whole curated box. I love the books I get — it expands what I read but also there has not been one I have not liked yet! This is another one that people have loved seeing on my social media. Even better, use my referral code for $10 off:  REF8NDXBY5AYM. 3) Cocktail kits from Lawless/Stillheart. Our own secret recipe for getting through this so far. Today only, use this code for 20% off, and say Patrick and Bethany sent y


 This is what this Thanksgiving (and Thanksgiving Eve last night) is: - An amazing Thanksgiving dinner, courtesy of our wonderful friend Erica. We're talking ALL the food and the sides, and she is an amazing cook. Served up on a table that is set with our fancy china and beautifully crafted pottery, because that's how we roll. A bottle of wine from Biltmore. - A toast to our friends Carrie and Jason and their amazing kids. If we are in town, we almost always spend Thanksgiving there, and I missed that mightily this year. - Watching some Mandolorian and part 1 ("Mangrove") of the Small Axe  series. And then watching the Taylor Swift special on the making of Folklore , which has kind of been a pandemic soundtrack for me. With almost no opportunities for live art, we've been watching more streaming. Working in media with FilmNorth, this is probably good for me. I've certainly learned more/been exposed to more. -  Playing Killer Bunnies, a fire, a hot tub. - My sh

Don't Yuk Someone Else's Yum

Ok, to start out with, we're all tired. As one friend put it the other day, "We're all doing our best, but we're not doing the best that can be done." We're not getting together in person, so our interactions are mainly via social media. This is a hard medium to use effectively, where something you posted that you thought was a light joke can easily get read as a mean-spirited remark, and vice versa. And in a time where our values are being tested, it can seem all the more important to ensure that others know what we stand for, and all the more important to speak up. But in the last week, I've seen some virtue-signaling by social media that just plain sits uncomfortably with me. Statements like "Don't buy Obama's book, he doesn't need the money! You should be buying from a small local press instead!" Or on Give to the Max Day  "I don't know why you are giving to the arts. Obviously social service is WAY more important right n

Pandemic Projects - Saving Money on Water with the Flume

A few weeks back, our insurance agent let us know that we could save $300/year on insurance if we got and installed Flume water monitors . They were specially priced for the insurance company at $169 each (plus shipping), and we could get one for both Ashland and Summit. It seemed like a no-brainer to us! Not only would we have some insurance premium savings, but we could monitor use, which is especially important when we are not at Summit. Recently, we had a situation where someone was staying there and for whatever reason the floater in the toilet did not float quite right just one time when it was flushed. It was a fluke accident, but flooded the bathroom and caused several hundred dollars worth of ceiling damage in the kitchen, so we took little convincing that was a good idea. The Flume is advertised as installable yourself in 15 minutes, and I would say that was pretty accurate. You have to locate the water meter: Take a picture with the app to be sure it's compatible (spoile

A Very Covid Christmas

(I used "Christmas" because that's the main holiday we celebrate, but feel free to insert your own mid-winter celebration here). The holidays are going to suck this year. There's no two ways about it. It's going to be hard to have a "zoom Thanksgiving," or whatever people are planning. No caroling, no holiday events, shopping will be difficult, another zoom session for your Christmas dinner, explaining how Santa is handling social distancing with the elves — I get it. It's hard and it sucks. No one wants this. We're all exhausted and bone-tired of this. We all don't want it to be this way. We want to get back to normal. We want things to be ok "for the kids" (and also we really mean for us.) The fact that we've been living through this since March and now the holiday season — the time we are usually grateful, and spend time with family, and celebrate — the fact that that is being taken away from us now seems unfair and unreasona

Pandemic Projects - Tiny Edition

Elections, pandemics, snow, basic life, racism at Glam Doll Donuts — it's a lot. Which is why you have not heard from me lately. And I lack the energy to touch on any of those today. It's honestly all just way too much.  But we have done a few tiny projects. Beatrix has cleaned through her clothes and sold tons of them to save up for Christmas presents. I got new rubber stair treads in front that should help with the snow and ice, and Patrick put them down today. I've wanted these for years, so it's a win. I also got the front yard waste cleaned up before the snow, and just today I finally (just 14 years later) managed to get a vase order to attach to my mom's wall niche at the cemetery, so maybe we can decorate it this year. I ordered a Flume water sensor for each house that will monitor water usage and give us a nice annual insurance discount (we still have to install them, but that's not supposed to be hard). Beatrix starts DL full time next week (she's

Things That Made Me Happy Today - November 1 Edition

 My adorable new sweater from the new Poppy in White Bear Lake. The fact that my friend Geri got a new dog and he is a Very Good Boy. The Ramsey Hill mug filled with treats that was delivered today. Putting my "Smart Women Vote" climb on my car window. And aren't these stickers great? Day-after Halloween candy binge after a lovely, socially-distanced get-together with a few friends around a bonfire last night (thank you, Jenn and Mike!) Plus this is a joint "Corona Cleaning" post because, while Patrick was cleaning out the tupperware (I swear in the breeding process they multiply dramatically, while losing their lids), Beatrix and I cleaned up clothing storage and I organized and culled a large number of winter clothes (that's how I earned myself the new sweater). I REALLY miss clothing exchanges!