Monday, February 28, 2011

the littlest things

The littlest things are making me happy right now. Like this small, thrifted plate that's perfect for two Carr's ginger lemon biscuits. Tangy and tart, not too sweet. Perfect with a cup of hot chai tea.

What little thing is making you happy right now?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

sunday muffins

I'm so not on board with another 10-20 inches of snow, so I made strawberry rhubarb muffins this morning. Used this recipe. Highly recommend. I added a bit of vanilla to the batter and a sprinkling of sugar on the top of each muffin before baking. Delicious! Take that snow - spring is right around the corner!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

liz gilbert

I haven't written a bucket list for my life. All those ideas are still tucked away in my mind. But last night, I was able to put a little check mark next to one.

Elizabeth Gilbert kicked of my local library system's author talks series with a free talk at a 1,000 seat theater in the southern metro. I heard about this event a few weeks ago when a facebook post from the author series appeared on my update stream. Hmmm, I immediately added it to my work calendar, but thought I shouldn't get too excited about because I probably wouldn't be able to get in because they weren't issuing advance tickets for it. I pictured myself getting stuck in Friday afternoon traffic or being the 1,001 person in line. So, I sorta forgot about it until this week. It literally wasn't until I had a decision to make about which way to turn my car to leave campus that I decided to see if I could get a spot in the audience.

I got to the theater just as they were opening the doors at 6:15. The line was long. Not out the door long, but long in that it snaked through the entire building so people wouldn't have to stand outside. But I did get a seat around 6:40. Right on the aisle.

Liz came on stage at 7. She was radiant, even from my high-up seat. Warm and funny. She told two stories about her mistaken identity. One about two Estelle Getty-type women who thought she had something to do with "that Eat Pray Love book" and had to ask. When Liz said who she was, one of the women said, "oh, so you're the one that wrote that book based on that movie with Julia Roberts?" The other story was about the store she and her husband own in Frenchtown, NJ. A customer asked her husband if he knew about the store (not knowing he was the owner). She told him she had heard an author owned the store and that it was Barbara Kingsolver. Lots of laughs over these. Liz has a bunch of cousins that live in Minnesota and she was delighted to see many of them in the audience.

She read a few pages from her recent book, Committed, then took questions. A volunteer with a mic walked by me while another question was being answered and I stopped him. So he waited by me. My heart was pounding in my throat. I no like public speaking. For a minute I thought, what are doing, Jill? Then I was up and I asked a shortened version of the question I've wanted to ask her if I ever got the chance. It went something like this:

Hi Liz. I'd love to hear more from you about the conversation you had with Richard about his idea about soul mates. Could you talk a little more about that?

You need to have read to book to know the part I'm talking about and I won't go into it at length here. She smiled and nodded her head and said what Richard told her about soul mates changed her thinking about her life from that point on in the journey she was on. She also said she noticed quite early on in all of her book signings that the most common page readers wanted her to sign (after the standard title page) was the soul mates page. She said that says a lot about how her story is like so many other people's stories too. And then she was on to the next question. There were no more than six asked, so I feel fortunate that mine was one of them.

I loved hearing her answer. And if I had more time with her I would have said her words on that page were the catalyst for me to start thinking differently about my life when I read them in 2007. I sat through the end of her talk thinking how amazing it is that words truly do change lives. What a gift.

I had Committed with me and not EPL, so I had her sign one of my favorite pages in that book - an idea I wouldn't have thought of on my own until she shared it tonight. I really couldn't talk to her when I was a foot away from her. I tried saying something and ended up smiling at her instead.

Here's another part of the story. I wasn't feeling very social as I was walking to my car with my coworker Kaylee yesterday. We were having a pleasant conversation, but I was tired from the week and distracted about how nice it would be just to get home while it was still daylight out and call it a day and maybe that I really did want to try to see Liz tonight. And look what happened by me deciding to be social when I didn't feel like it.

Hooray for the little goals that move you to reach the ones almost too big to believe.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

35 to do at 35

I turned 35 on this past November 25 - Thanksgiving Day, in fact. A double special birthday because Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year.

Elise has inspired me with her birthday books to come up with a list of to-do's totalling how old you are. I started last year when I was 34. Susannah just posted a fabulous 38 @ 38 list last week. I love finding these types of celebratory/focused goals for the next year lists from other bloggers. An update on my 34 project coming soon. I need better light to take a few more photos on my completed book documenting my list.

Here's my 35 @ 35. Updates on progress to follow throughout the year. And of course I'm making another little book to document my progress - photos of that to follow, too, in another post.

1: Go hear live music. November 27 was my first concert - seeing the Brothers Frantzich holiday concert. January 28 was my second seeing a vocal/poetry/short film/dance performance at Patrick's Cabaret for Tammy's birthday. This also counts for #17.
2: Can some jam or salsa or jelly.
3: Try a new food.
4: Buy a digital SLR camera.
5: Take a photo class.
6: Register past MCBA classes toward a certificate in book arts.
7: Make a book for someone. Completed. Made little word of the year books for Tammy and Laura for a part of our New Year's ritual. I'd like to make more for others. . .
8: Volunteer with kids.
9: Take a trip to Bayfield, WI.
10: Do good with $5.
11: Holiday gathering on-line.
12: Be social when I don't feel like it. Social is my word for the year.
13: Take a risk. Technically I've completed this one as well. I gave my boss a list of added job responsibilities I would like to add to my portfolio. Still waiting on where this is going. . . and feel I can add more risks to the list.
14: Date. Still. On. The. List. If you know anyone I should meet, let me know ;)
15: Cross an ocean.
16: Rent the Lilly Cabin.
17: Attend a cultural event once per month. Sorta crossing with #1 so far.
18: Read six books. First one done - The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown.
19: Host a dinner party.
20: Watch the Star Wars trilogy.
21: Walk a 5K event.
22: Go bowling.
23: Love something difficult to love.
24: Write a letter of appreciation. I did this today - without even thinking about this to-do! I'm counting the email I sent to the director of research at the U of M Foundation, thanking her for her team's collaborative efforts. This department is criticized sometimes (I'll admit, by me and my office mates and other offices around campus) for not sleuthing out enough viable donor prospects for us to meet with. Well, I sent Juli a thank you email today because a few years ago the researcher I worked with at the time used a two paragraph blurb in a local paper to identify an alumnus I met this week. Regardless if he makes a financial gift down the road - meeting him has been a gift to me this week. It felt great to share a thank you with a colleague.
25: Paint something.
26: Sew a pillow.
27: Dress up for Halloween.
28: Do a random act of kindness for someone I don't know.
29: See a show with mom.
30: Go out to eat with dad.
31: Walk a new labyrinth.
32: Create a green plant oasis at home. I'm having a lot of fun with this one right now.
33: Finish my Ireland album.
34: Put together a thrifted outfit - preferably vintage fashions.
35: Document this list. Started. . .

That's it! Excited to see where these take me. . .

Sunday, February 6, 2011

what i did during the super bowl

 I made this
 with some of these
and a little of that.

Saying I loathe American football really isn't strong enough. It's something I care not one iota about. Right up there with parades and fireworks - although I do enjoy those just a smidge, every so often. Heck, I watched the St. Paul Winter Carnival Torchlight Parade on TV yesterday. I did think it was just as boring as it would have been if I were standing outside watching it, but I watched it with my mom. I did learn something new, however. I didn't know of the tradition of the Vulcans ousting King Boreius, so it was sorta fun to see that happen on the steps on the downtown library. But I won't need to see that happen again to live a happy life.

I spent this Super Bowl Sunday doing all sorts of things I enjoy. I attended a free decorating class at Pottery Barn. I've heard about these before and was curious. It was OK. Surprisingly the instructor encouraged us to look at what we already own and thinking about new decorating possibilities. I thought it would be all about pushing PB products. Refreshing. After that I ate lunch at Bread & Chocolate, followed by a quick trip back to the antique mall I visited yesterday because I forgot to pick up something I really wanted. . .a kitchen gadget. I'm not a big kitchen gadget gal, but this one is probably my fave. I'll post about it soon. Then I went to the nursery to pick up a few more houseplants. Two more stops - the Y (SB had started by this point and no one was there - score!) and the grocery store - also near empty.

After all that, back home to make the above - smitten kitchen's mushroom bourguignon. Second time I've made it. Pure winter comfort food. It's fantastic.

And tomorrow is my favorite Monday. The start of the non-football season. Now World Cup soccer on the other hand. . . there's something I wish came around more often than every four years.

vintage thrifting

Hooray for discovering beauty from the past. I've been inching my way back into picking up housewares and and clothing from my local thrift, consignment and antique shops. I've found my style has changed a bit from my early 20s - especially for housewares. I used to be all about rustic barn wood and rusty metal. Not so much anymore. Now I'm wildly attracted to 50s and 60s prints - mostly florals - on just about anything. A double hooray if I find something to wear from these decades.

A few little dishes, yellow houndstooth pillowcases for spring and summer. And this wool dress coat with square buttons and fur collar. I do feel sorry for the rabbit that gave its life for this collar. It was a long time ago. And I really love being able to give this beauty another life. I'm thinking these little dishes will provide nice homes to some small air plants I'll be purchasing from etsy. Oh, and the tablecloth is thrifted as well - picked it up last fall.

For me, it's all about finding just a couple items I really love, rather than buying just because it's a good deal. More to come as I pick up items here and there.